(To the Editor of the Carlisle Patriot)
Sir,—If it can be admitted that resistance ever becomes a duty, that self defence is under any circumstances necessary, I am sure you will agree with me that the time has finally arrived when the Agriculturists, as a body, should oppose with all their might the desperate and unprincipled attacks made upon them by that "great fact," the Anti-Corn Law League—that modern Colossus which threatens to stride over the whole Land. It is not a little amusing to hear them complain of monopoly; it reminds one of a thief when pursued calling "stop thief;" they have, however, improved upon it by giving the first shout. What but monopoly could have produced that miraculous change in the establishments of the Leaguers in a few years, during all which time their operatives, the producers were gradually sinking to the lowest depths of poverty and distress. What but monopoly enabled them to hire demagogues, and advertise for prize essays to paint their one sided arguments in the most glaring and deceptive colours? They are generally as fallacious as they are impudent, and many of them might be made to recoil with equal severity upon their own heads; for instance, it is said in one of their prize Essays, that "selfishness if too gross generally defeats its own purpose." I trust that the unwarrantable and conspicuous conduct of the League will confirm this rule. I am one of those who think that manufactures should be encouraged in England by all proper means; yet we do not see that the nation is so much benefited by their increase as formerly. From a nation of Agriculturists we have turned into a nation of Manufacturers, and are now likely to become a nation of Machinery. Man is declared to be the most expensive machine, and I have yet to learn if the price of corn, however low, can make him a successful competitor with his indefatigable opponent.
But, the League do no deny, they avow that the repeal of the Corn Laws will be a "heavy blow and great discouragement to the Landowners," therefore, he who has his capital invested in land must expect very little interest, and he who has it mortgaged will get his accounts settled at Newcastle. I ask these Landowners are they willing to consent to this alteration, by conniving at the exertions of the League, and thus lead the Government to think they are indifferent about protection; merely for the questionable possibility that the country at large may be ultimately benefited by it; while on the other hand it is very possible the country may be ruined by it.
For practical tenant farmers who are aware of the outgoings in conducting a farm properly, and the proportion paid in rent, it will be necessary to consider whether, with such a depreciation in the price of corn as we may fairly anticipate by a Repeal of the Corn Laws, he would be able to pay any rent at all, and what are his future prospects? As to farm labourers the hopes held out to them are as preposterous as they are various. "Oh! They are to be employed in the factories"—I suppose they will be ingeniously converted into some new species of subordinate machinery.
At all events, the Repeal of the Corn Laws is of very questionable policy, to every interest except that of those mighty monopolists who constitute the League. Let us, therefore, be up and stirring at this eleventh hour; let us rise from our lethargy, the enemy are at the gates. We are dragged into the contest—never despair. Let us show to Sir R. PEEL and the Government that we value the protection afforded us, and trust it will be continued, not only n our capacity of cultivators of the soil, but also as Englishmen.
I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,
ONE OF YOURSELVES.
January 29, 1844