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ducing a disease of obesity which makes the animal at once hideous, helpless, and miserable; and the fortunate feeders have been rewarded with cups and vases which are to be handed down as heirlooms in their families, and excite the young gentry and nobility of England to emulate their fathers in the same ennobling pursuits! A little less of this folly in future,—and a little more attention toward the real and permanent interests of our fellow creatures.
What has hitherto been said relates almost exclusively to the agricultural poor; what other means of bettering their condition have been devised, are equally applicable to those of all descriptions, miners, manufacturers, and those who dwell in large cities, who are hardly less numerous at this time than those engaged in rural occupations, but are in some respects more wretched, and in general more corrupt. When, in pursuance of Mr. Rose's Bill, authentic information was for the first time in any country laid before the public, of the number of paupers, and the amount of the poor rates, it appeared that more than 700,000 persons were enrolled in benefit societies. The advantage of such societies might fairly be inferred from their antiquity, they are known to have existed in some of the ancient Greek republics, traces of them are found among our Anglo Saxon ancestors, and what is more remarkable, institutions of a similar purport have been discovered in some of the South Sea Islands, among a people still barbarous enough to delight in devouring the flesh of their enemies. There is much good in these societies; and the protection which government has given them has been found of considerable use; that protection also originated in Mr. Rose, whose views have been steadily and usefully directed toward the real benefit of the great body of the people, and whose name therefore will be deservedly respected when those who are now on all occasions ready to assail him will be remembered far less honourably--if indeed they be remembered at all. The protection would have been more efficacious if, according to his intention, a power of effectual interposition in the affairs of the Societies had been given to the magistrates; but this intention was very properly given up, when it was ascertained that the members were jealous of such interference. In the neighbourhood of London, a majority of one of these societies, all young men, passed a vote for dissolving the society and dividing che stock ; thus defrauding the old members of that provision for age and infirmity, for which they had so long contributed: the young, villains then formed a new society among themselves, and left the old men to the parish. No magistrate would have permitted an act of such impudent iniquity as this.
The number of persons enrolled in these associations would decidedly prove that there is by no means a general want of forethought
among the lower classes. There is nothing attractive in their object, the weekly or monthly payment is not a deposit made by hopeful industry for future comfort and enjoyment, but a provision against sickness, the inevitable infirmities of old age, and the expenses attendant upon death.
death. It is not a little honourable to the national character that among the uninstructed ranks who stand in need of such a provision, so large a proportion should be found who are mindful of the decline of life, and prepare this melancholy resource for themselves and their widows; and hence it may reasonably be supposed that the Saving Banks will be generally established wherever these more cheerful, and infinitely more important institutions shall become generally known. It would scarcely be too much to affirm that a more beneficial institution has never been devised since the foundations of civilized society was laid ; and scarcely too much to hope that it may operate as a Sinking Fund toward the extinction of the Poor Rates as a moral vaccination against the spreading infection of pauperism and misery. This also is a means for bettering the condition of the poor, for which no legislative interference is required; but were the legislature to facilitate it by establishing County Banks, the people might thus be delivered from the greatest political evil to which they are subject. The frequent failures of Provincial Banks, and the misery which they occasion, deserve the serious attention of government; no political circumstances ever in this island
produce such extensive distress and ruin. The tenant who has laid by his rent, the shopkeeper who has collected money for his payments, find, like the man in the Arabian Tales, that what they received as money, is at once become worthless : they could ensure against fire, they could guard against thieves, but there are no means of providing against this danger ; they incur it with their eyes openknowingly but inevitably; for in the greater part of England, country-notes are exclusively in common circulation. The evil of the old Birmingham halfpence, or the present generation of Irish shillings, whose reign is now to be at an end, were mere trifles compared to this : it is a public and notorious evil, which affects all the middle classes of the community, and which it is both the interest and the duty of government to remove.
Thanks to the gradual improvements which have been made, there are but few political evils left for government to amend in this fortunate country. The grievances to which the labouring poor were subject, in being removed from places where they were not parishioners, lest they should become chargeable, has been taken away; and for this benefit also they are indebted to Mrr Rose. Further good might be effected, if the practice of passing paupers to their parish were discontinued, and relief administered to them upon the spot where they needed it, the balances being annually settled between the respective parishes, or counties : much expense and much litigation might thus be avoided, and there would be no room for those occasional instances of brutality which it is better to prevent than to punish. There is more to be done in delivering the people from evil, by removing temptation. Magistrates should be less ready to grant licenses for public-houses, and more prompt in taking them away in all cases where irregular hours are kept, and disorderly meetings permitted or encouraged. Bull-baiting should be prohibited. Mr. Windham, who so often became paradoxical for the pleasure which he felt in exercising his intellectual subtlety, never went so far astray in following the Will o' the wisp of his own imagination, as when he defended this brutal practice. There is no necessary connexion between courage and cruelty--there seems to be a natural one between cruelty and cowardice ; for though brave men may sometimes be cruel, cowards are generally so; and among savages, and in the excesses which have been committed by infuriated mobs, the weaker sex have always been more cruel than the men. Mr. Windham's argument was false in all its bearings, and so he would have discovered if he had asked his heart the question; there never breathed a more intrepid man, nor one with quicker feelings of generous humanity but his heart was not consulted upon this occasion. Cock fighting is much more frequent and much more pernicious, for it connects gambling with cruelty : and here it may be observed that in all measures of preventive reform, which the legislature may enact, or the magistrate enforce, they will be acting in unison with the wishes of the well-disposed men among the class for whose benefit these measures are intended; and of all the women :--wives and mothers will bless them for their interference.
Disgraceful as these practices are to the nation, and detrimental as they are in their consequences, they are trifling both in extent and in evil to the consequences of the Game Laws. Mr. Weyland's letter upon this subject cannot fail of convincing every considerate reader that an immediate alteration in these laws is, of all legislative measures, the most necessary for preventing crimes.
• The extent and progress of the evil,' says this active and most meritorious Magistrate, cannot be conceived by those who are not conversant with the lower ranks in the country villages. From extensive observation and inquiry, I believe in my conscience that three-fourths of the crimes which bring so many poor men to the gallows, have their origin in the habits necessarily introduced by the almost irresistible temptations held out in consequence of the prohibitions of the Game Laws, and a nightly breach of their enactments.
He declares of his own knowledge, that in every village with
which he is acquainted, the profligate characters may trace the first corruption of their habits to this cause; and, he says, the wonder is not that so many are corrupted, but that so many escape the temptation. This subject is so important, that Mr. Weyland's statement cannot be too generally circulated, nor his object too strongly recommended. The game laws were intended to preserve the pleasures of sporting for the landed proprietors, and to secure game for the tables of the higher orders, as an object of luxury and distinction; the lower class attach no value to game as a delicacy, their sense of taste has never been cultivated, and to them it is only worth its weight as meat: to them, therefore, there is no hardship in the privation, and certainly no injustice in reserving animals for the profit of those persons at whose cost they have been fed. When those laws were enacted, the gentry of England were all landholders : since that time the monied interest has risen to an equal rank, fashion and custom have made game one of the requisite luxuries of an opulent table, and three-fourths of the persons who consume it, and from their station in life are expected to consume it, can procure it in no other way than by purchasing from those persons who employ poachers, or corrupt the gamekeepers. Is it to be expected that a large and affluent part of the community, who know, that according to the customs of the country in which they live, game ought to appear at their tables, will abstain from it in deference to laws which time has made unjust by making them inapplicable to the existing circumstances of society, and which the landholders in whose favour they were framed, and in condescension to whose prejudices they have too long been retained, are so far from respecting themselves, that the very persons; who would most severely punish poaching upon their own estates, make no scruple of encouraging it elsewhere, by ordering gamë at an inn whenever they are travelling? Since the establishment of the mail coach, and the increased rapidity of travelling and number of public conveyances, poaching has increased fifty fold; game is conveyed from the remotest parts of England to the London market, and the commissariat department of the trade is regular and perfect. It-thus possesses greater facilities than smuggling; and while the one offence prevails along the whole coast of the island, the other prevails in every part of it. It would be superfluous to dwell upon the consequences : instances of homicide and murder to which it leads are now become so frequent, that the magnitude of the evil is universally perceived and acknowledged. If,' says Mr. Weyland, the object of a good law is to prevent the commission of an offence, it is difficult to speak in terms of measured indignation concerning statutes which at one and the same time both promote and punish the same crime. To be both unjust and ineffectual is the deepest reproach with which any law can be stained; but it is by no means the foulest to which the present game laws are obnoxious ;-they are not only unjust, as they tempt to the commission of the offence which they punish; not only ineffectual, as they have no tendency to prevent the commission of the offence; not only absurd, as tending to raise the price of game by the additions made to its cost on account of risk and penalties,--but they are, above all, grossly wicked, as the chief positive consequence is the general destruction of the morals of the rural population. The cause of this evil exists obviously in the demand for game among such of the opulent classes as can only procure it by purchase. The remedy which Mr. Weyland proposes is, to legalize the sale of game in open market, and to permit all occupiers of land of above thirty or forty acres in extent, to kill game, for sale or otherwise, on their own land, unless they are specially prohibited by agreement with their landlords ; such person paying one guinea for a license, and the poulterer and innkeeper taking out in like manner an annual license; and, lastly, that qualified persons should not sport upon preserved or enclosed ground (after notice to abstain) under a penalty of five pounds. Here would be an increase of revenue, if that object were worthy of consideration, when the welfare of the lower classes is so deeply implicated. The game would be increased, as it would every where be the farmer's interest to preserve it, whereas at present it is their interest to connive at, or encourage its destruction. It is not many years since the Grand Jury in one of the Northern counties received, when they were dining together, a basket containing two thousand partridges' eggs, carefully packed.This further and greater good would arise, that when the wild animals upon the land were made the property of the farmer by whom they are fed, they would be considered as such in general opinion, and the equity of the law be recognized by that sense of justice, which positive law can never offend with impunity.
No single act of the legislature would so certainly decrease the number of crimes, as an alteration of the game laws. There are other evils which the legislature might redress. The night work in the cotton mills, one of the most inhuman practices that ever calculating* avarice devised, has been prohibited; but it is to be hoped that government will interfere further, and limit the day labour exacted from the poor children whom their parents or their parishes have sold to this miserable employment.
It was a clumsy and cruel contrivance of the Romans to use * This act was not passed without considerable opposition; and an attempt was made to procure its repeal, upon the plea, that unless the owners of cotton mills could work their apprentices night and day, it would amount to a surrender of all their profits !