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of settlement, and in the present practice of assessing houses and cottages to the poor's rate. The present law of settlement is, to the last degree, complicated; and cases are perpetually occurring, as to which the opinions of the ablest lawyers differ entirely. This ambiguity has led to a frightful mass of litigation; so much so, that the sums annually expended, in England and Wales, upon lawsuits as to questions of settlement, &c., exceed the whole expense of the established Church of Scotland! Now, it may easily be shown, that almost the whole of this enormous expense may be saved, and various very advantageous results secured, by merely declaring, that no settlement shall be obtained otherwise than by birth; or that the place where an individual is born, shall be held to be the place of his settlement. At present, settlements may be obtained by apprenticeship, service, the occupancy of lands or houses of a certain value, &c.; and the desire to prevent a stranger, coming to reside in a parish, from obtaining a settlement by these means, has led to various practices, productive of much inconvenience, and of endless litigation. But, were the place of one's birth declared to be the place of his settlement, all these inconveniences would be avoided; at the same time that landlords and occupiers would have the strongest motives to exert themselves to check those improvident unions which have led to so much mischief. It is not easy to see what reasonable objection could be made to the proposed change: and we look forward to its favourable consideration by Parliament.
Besides amending the law with respect to settlements, something decisive ought to be done to check the practice of building cottages for paupers. Various plans have been proposed for this purpose. Some have suggested that the proprietor of the ground on which a cottage is built, should be made responsible for its occupiers; and that if they become chargeable, he should be bound to provide for them. Perhaps, however, the object in view may be secured by directly assessing cottages to the poor's rate; making the assessment, in all cases, fall upon the landlord, and not upon the occupier. At present, it often happens that the public economy of a parish, otherwise in a very healthy condition, is vitiated by the proprietor of a few acres, speculating upon turning them to good account, by covering them with cottages, that ultimately become the receptacles of paupers; the support of such paupers falling almost entirely on others, the rate affecting the small patch of land upon which the cottages are built being quite inconsiderable. This is a flagrant abuse; and one, the influence of which is most extensive, and calls loudly for amendment. Nothing, indeed, has done more to mul
tiply the number of paupers than the encouragement that has thus been held out to the improper increase of cottages; and there is nothing, with the exception of the abolition of the allowance system, that would do more to arrest the progress of pauperism, than the enactment of a law that should render such sort of speculations as unprofitable to the speculators, as they are injurious to the public.
The evils arising from the temptations at present held out to the erection of cottages, were forcibly alluded to by Mr Hodges in his evidence already quoted. Perhaps,' said this very intelligent gentleman, I am taking a liberty in adverting to what 'I stated the other day; but without an attention to the fact 'there disclosed, of the prodigious increase of cottages of late ' years, all other regulations will be nugatory; and I cannot 'forbear urging again, that this [a plan of emigration] or any 'similar measure, having for its object the relief of parishes 'from their over-population, must of necessity become perfectly ' useless, unless the act of Parliament contain some regulations 'with regard to the erecting and maintaining of cottages; this 'may be done in parishes taking the benefit of such act, either by rating the proprietors of them, and not the occupiers,'or perhaps it might be thought advisable even to rate the pro'prietor of any cottage whose inhabitants might become charge'able, for want of regular employ, to the maintenance of that pauper to the full amount of the rent agreed to be paid to his 'landlord by the said pauper.' It is notorious,' said Mr Hodges, in answer to another question, that almost numberless cottages have of late years been built by persons speculating on the 'parish rates for their rents.'—(First Emig. Rep. Evid. p. 185.)
We may remark, by the way, that among a certain class of speculators as to the causes of the late disturbances, much stress has been laid upon the disappearance of small farms, and the conversion of cottagers into mere labourers. But we are satisfied that these circumstances have been as innocent of the disturbances, and of the depressed condition of the labourers, as they are of the Parisian revolution. We have the means, and propose taking an early opportunity of showing, that the labourers of all those counties where the allowance system has not been introduced, are, speaking generally, at this moment in a decidedly better condition than they have ever previously been in. They are better fed-that is, they eat more butcher meat, and use more wheat-better clothed, better lodged, and healthier, than at any former period of our history. And, what is still more conclusive as to the groundlessness of the statements in question, Durham, Northumberland, the Lothians, and all
those counties where farms are largest, are those where the condition of the peasantry is most prosperous. Let us, therefore, hear no more of this senseless cry against large farms and 'gentlemen farmers.' We are ready to admit, and have, indeed, always contended, that the condition of cottagers is materially improved by attaching a moderate-sized garden to their cottages; but no landlord or farmer, who has a just sense of what is either for his own advantage, or for that of his workmen, will suffer them to possess more land. This is the practice of Northumberland and the Lothians, and where else are the peasantry so comfortable?
Next to the helotism occasioned by the abuse of the poor laws, we are inclined to think that the Game-Laws have had the greatest influence in degrading the peasantry, and in spreading irritation amongst them. The southern counties have been peculiarly afflicted with this scourge; and we have been assured, by those who have the best means of knowing, that the oppressions perpetrated for offences against these laws, have been the main cause of the late fires. They have long been rankling in the minds of the peasantry, and the desire to avenge them might, perhaps, have been suppressed for some time longer, but for the excitement caused by the late events on the continent. If we would prevent the recurrence of still darker atrocities, the existing game laws must be totally abolished. It is not easy, indeed, to imagine for what other purpose this detestable code could be so long kept up, except to fill the country with bloodshed and crime. The law prohibiting the sale of game, ought to have been entitled A Law for the encouragement of Murder and Robbery.' More than half the rich men of the empire have no land, and no qualification entitling them to kill game; and as the legislature, in its wisdom, would not allow them to be supplied with this luxury in a legitimate way, they were forced to buy it, though at a higher price, from poachers. In vain has statute after statute, and penalty after penalty, been added to this barbarous code. Instead of putting down poaching, they have rendered it universal; and have produced a degree of irritation and disgust, and a yearning after vengeance among the peasantry, that has been and may be turned to the most dangerous purposes.
We therefore hail with infinite satisfaction the bill introduced by Lord Althorpe, for legalizing the sale of game, and for abolishing all those regulations, devised by the Nimrods of former days, as to qualifications. This bill declares that game shall be the property of the individual on whose land it is found;
and that every individual, on taking out a license, costing L.6 a-year, shall be entitled to kill game on his obtaining leave from the proprietors of the lands over which he shoots. Dealers in game are to take out a license. Poachers taken at night with guns, dogs, &c., for the killing of game, are, for the first offence, to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for any period not more than four months; for a second offence, the party may be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for eight months; and every subsequent offence is to be deemed a misdemeanour, and the party offending may be imprisoned at the discretion of the court, and kept to hard labour for any period not exceeding two years. Should this bill pass into a law, it will confer the greatest benefit upon the public. It is one of the first instances in which an attempt to amend the game-laws has been bottomed on the principles of common sense, and will do much to rid them of their enormities. At the same time, we must say, that the proposed penalties on poaching seem to be a great deal too rigorous. It is all very well for the legislature to declare that animals feræ naturæ are property; but mankind will never be brought to believe that the right of property is as much violated by killing a partridge or a hare, which may, by a volition of its own, become the property of twenty individuals in a day, as it is by killing a turkey or a sheep; or that the former offence should be visited with the same penalties as the latter. We, however, agree in opinion with those who consider that the practice of breeding and preserving vast quantities of game in particular places, for the purpose of a battue, that is, for enabling the lame and the blind to rival the shooting feats of Mr Osbaldiston and Lord Kennedy, is the principal cause of poaching. We do not say that this is a practice that ought to be directly suppressed by a legislative enactment; but certainly we know of none that is less entitled to protection. This accumulation of game creates an overpowering temptation to poaching; and so long as preserves are multiplied all over the country,-as over-fed pheasants and half-fed cottagers are brought into contact, so long will the latter prey upon the former. Surely, then, there can be neither hardship nor injustice in laying it down, that those who choose to regale themselves with a luxury of this sort,—who choose to indulge in a sport that tempts their fellowmen to commit what the law has declared to be a crime of no common dye,-should be made to pay smartly for the gratification of their tastes. And we would, therefore, beg to suggest, that all individuals employed, for whatever period, as gamekeepers or as keepers of preserves, whether by night or by day, should be charged with an excise license of at least L.12,
12s. or L.15, 158. a-year. This would not entirely prevent the formation of preserves, but it would confine the practice within reasonable bounds, and render it infinitely less noxious than at present.
But supposing that the present unemployed labourers were conveyed to the colonies, that the abuses of the poor-laws were corrected, and the game-laws abolished or reconciled to the obvious principles of justice and common sense, still we should not have done enough to secure the public tranquillity. The situation of Great Britain is at present without any parallel in the history of the world, and is pregnant with many difficulties. The very large proportion of our population depending for subsistence on manufactures and commerce, and liable, consequently, to sudden and severe reverses, is one of those circumstances that merits the most anxious attention of statesmen. No one can doubt that it is the bounden duty of government to do every thing that is possible to diminish the chances of commercial distress, by giving freedom to the merchant, and especially by abolishing the existing restrictions on the corn trade-restrictions which multiply the chances of famine at the same time that they injure the agriculturist. But, do what we will, the manufacturing population must always be liable to be thrown out of employment, and deprived of their accustomed means of support, by changes of fashion or policy abroad and at home. Surely, then, it is of the utmost importance that they should be taught to meet such trying vicissitudes, when they do occur, with patient fortitude, and without aggravating the pressure of calamity by any rash proceedings of their own. The outrages of the agriculturists may be repressed and put down with comparatively little difficulty; but were such a spirit to arise among the manufacturers of Lancashire as has recently prevailed in the southern counties, national bankruptcy and ruin would be the result. Let no man think that, if the spirit of discontent and outrage should once insinuate itself into the manufacturing districts, it could be suppressed or kept down by force. So mighty a mass cannot be dragooned and coerced into obedience. If we would prolong that security which has been the principal foundation of our prosperity, we must show the labourers that they are interested in its support; and that whatever has any tendency to weaken it, is even more injurious to them than to any other class. For this reason, we are deeply impressed with the conviction that Parliament ought to lose no time in setting about the organization of a really useful system of public education. The safety