7 DECEMBER 1833, Page 11



AT a meeting of the Conservative Club, held last week at Colchester, Mr. ALEXANDER BARING edified the squires and fairness present with the following observations.

" The Agriculturists maintained all the rogues of the country, they maintained all the poor, they kept up the gaols; the proceedings of justice and the whole

machinery of domestic government were raised and kept up at the expense of the land ; and surely they were entitled to some allowance for that. He must say there was danger, and he would venture to predict, as certain as any one Con- : sequence ever resulted from any one act, that if protection were taken from . agriculture, it would bring down a certain revolution in this country."

The wiseacres present cheered the great merchant, but most assuredly they understood him not. If Mr. BARING had been asked

to prove the truth of his assertion, he would have been equally puz- zled. It is one thing to say that the inhabitants of a country derive their subsistence from the produce of the land, and another that the farmers and their labourers maintain the whole population. Yet this is what Mr. BARING'S assertion amounts to. He said that they maintained all the poor and the scoundrels, and kept up all the gaols in the land. But if the farmers of Essex can be said to support the poor of the Metropolis, they may with equal pro- priety be said to support the rich merchants and shopkeepers. Has Mr. BARING yet to learn, that in this as well as every other country, the different classes of inhabitants are mutually de pendent upon each other for support ? Does he mean to insinuate that the other classes are a drawback upon the prosperity of the agriculturists ; and that the latter would be more flourishing if there were no such markets for their produce as London and Manchester ? This, however, is the fair inference from the expressions he used : to such shifts was he reduced in order to make good his argument in favour of the Corn-laws. When Mr. BARING was a merchant, he denounced corn-duties as a curse to the country : now he is a landowner, retired from trade, and a candidate for the suffrages of an agricultural popula- tion—he therefore feels himself obliged to defend the Bread mono- poly ; but, like most. turncoats, has made a miserable figure on the occasion. It would be a waste of time to expose such nonsense as he has uttered in the place of argument ; for even supposing his premises to be correct, he has only proved, that because the agri- culturists pay all the poor-rates, county-rates, and the expenses of the Government,—in other words, because they pay all the taxes, —they have therefore a clear right to add prodigiously to the amount of their own payments by increasing the cost of maintaining the Government, the poor, and the gaols. The Morning Chronicle, in commenting upon Mr. Baanao's harangue, seems to have been tainted with his love of paradox; and affirms that,

"Though Mr. Baring's statement as to the burdens borne by the landowners is exaggerated, even if it were true, it is only just that these burdens should be borne by the land."

Indeed ! would it be just to compel the landowners of Essex and Surry to support the paupers of Whitechapel and Lambeth? How does our contemporary prove his startling proposition ? He goes on to say-

" It is well known that land never was absolute property in this or any other country. The land of every country belonged originally to the nation; audit was granted to individuals on the condition of defending the country against external enemies and preserving order at home. The whole burdens of the country, down to a comparatively recent period, were in fact borne by the land. No change of occupant. can vitiate the original covenant between the State and the occupants of the soil ; and it is therefore absurd in landowners to complain of the burdens thrown on the land. The people have much better reason for complaint that the landowners have thrown burdens from their own Ai:Buffet! and fixed them on the shoulders of others. They might as well complain of tithes as complain of the other burdens borne by land."

But we must look at things as they exist, and have existed cer- tainly for a very long period. "The land," we are told, "be- longed originally to the nation, and was granted to individuals am the condition of defending the country," &c. We cannot tell what period is meant precisely by the word " original ;" but at the Nor- man Conquest, the lands were parcelled out by a foreign invader to his vassals; and we are not aware that they were saddled with the support of the dwellers in the towns. Whatever might have once been the case, however, since the feudal system was subverted, and mechanics and tradesfolks obtained charters and built cities, there never has been the least pretence on the part of the latter to tax the landholders directly for the support of their pauper popes lation. Supposing, therefore, that such a covenant as the Criro- nicle supposes to have existed between the State and the occupants of the soil ever did exist, that covenant has been vitiated, and ren- dered null by a succession of acts on the part of both the dwellers in cities and the dwellers in the country.

The Morning Chronicle is under no necessity to use such ar- guments as these in exposure of the folly and injustice of the Corn-laws : let. their repeal be advocated on the ground that it would be beneficial to the great mass of existing interests; and let the original compact between the State and the Landowners moulder in the brains of theorists and dreamers.