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Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1810, Sunday, December 5, 1830

[Incendiary System]

The incendiary system is certainly abating, and the riots, we trust, will speedily cease under the salutary terror of the Special Commissions,which are now issued for the trial of the outrages which had been committed against the law. There is no doubt but that wages must be raised, but they must not be forced up by such menaces and intimidations as render not only all property insecure,—but cut off the springs of employment, and tend to perpetuate and embitter the distress of those who depend upon the land.

Much of the present evil has arisen from the poor themselves, and from the scandalous abuse of the poor-laws, and the perverse errors of fantastic science and legislation.—The generally prevailing habit of early and improvident marriages; the paying of wages out of rates; the destruction of small farms; the transferring to large and opulent manufacturing towns that species of industry which was formerly carried on in the cottage; the substitution of machinery even for the ordinary purposes of agriculture; and the regarding the labourer rather as lumber upon the soil, then as absolutely necessary to the sowing, reaping, and threshing of the crops; the odious system of political economy which has lately sprung up amongst us,—under the effects of which humanity has been supplanted by a miscalled philosophy, and a cold, dry, barbarous, Scotch expediency, wholly intent upon profit and loss, has been made the rule, not merely of the shop and the counter, but of the farm-house and the squire's mansion—all these have been the causes of the wretched state of the poor, and have led to the present servile and unnatural rebellion raging among us. That wages must be raised, and considerably augmented, we are free to confess.

The friends of humanity cannot but wish that in all countries the labouring classes should have wages enough, not only to procure food and clothing, but sufficient also to excite a taste for comforts and enjoyment,—and that they should be simulated in their efforts to procure them by all legitimate means. There cannot be a better security against a superabundant population, towards which all kingdoms in the western parts of Europe necessary tend, than such a scale of wages as shall communicate comforts and enjoyments to the labouring classes. In those countries where the people have the fewest wants, and are contented with the cheapest foods, they are exposed to the greatest vicissitudes and misery. Ireland is an example at hand.—They have no place of refuge from calamity; the cannot seek safety in a lower station; they are already so low that they can fall no lower. Upon any deficiency of the chief article of their subsistence, there are no substitutes of which they can avail themselves, and dearth to them is attended with all the evils of famine.

It is clear, therefore, that wages ought to be raised,— and that only question is, how it can be done without the relaxation of rents and taxes. Rents must come down; tythes must also come down; and the house and window duties (perhaps also the malt tax), must be surrendered.