trower to ricardo
[Reply to 471.—Answered by 481]
Unsted Wood—Jan: 10. 1822
My Dear Ricardo
We are just returned home from Sussex, where we have been passing our Christmas with my Brother in Law Mr. Slater, at Newick Park. It is a very nice place, but in rather too wet a Country, at least it appears so to me, the character of whose soil is so opposite.
I was amused with the account you gave me of the public Honors paid to our friend Hume, and in which You participated. I am fully disposed to give him great credit for his indefatiguable exertions in the House of Commons. No doubt, he has done, and still will do a great deal of good; and is deserving of the applause of his fellow Citizens. An ample allowance of noisy acclamation is a very convenient and economical mode of remunerating public services; and I dare say, it is a species of payment with which our friend Hume is perfectly satisfied. Unfortunately,—“These little things are great to little Men.”
I rejoice in the appointment of Lord Wellesley to Ireland, from whose great talents, and stateman like abilities much may be expected. But, it is not merely the power with which he is vested as Lord Lieutenant, that will enable him to meet and overcome the difficulties of Ireland. What I expect from him is, that the information he will obtain will enable him to place before Ministers, in such strong colors, the system that must be adopted, as to induce them to bring that system before Parliament for their consideration and adoption—The removing the disabilities from the Catholicks may do something, but not much, I think, towards healing the present disorders. It appears to me, that no permanent or substantial good can be done till all small farms and small tenancies, are got rid of. These are the curse of Ireland. They are calculated to destroy that wholesome dependence of the lower upon the upper classes, which is one of the master links of society; and to encourage habits of idleness, which are the bane of all moral feeling. I am aware, there would be difficulty in carrying this measure into execution, but the object is most important. The two great deficiencies in Ireland are want of capital, and want of Industry. By destroying small tenancies you would obtain both. Suppose, for instance, no farms were let of less extent than 50. Acres. In the first place it would require a man of some substance to take such a farm; and in the next, it would require the constant labor of certain numbers of men to cultivate it. The Cottar would be converted into a laborer, and would, with regular industry, obtain, not merely the means of bare existence, as at present, but the comforts of an improved condition. But, where are these tenants to come from? If these small tenancies ceased to exist a great part of the work of those dreadful scourges, the middle men in Ireland, would be destroyed, and they might be converted into farmers. Besides the adoption of a system carrying with it the appearance of security, and fair remuneration, would necessarily draw, in time, the required capital into Ireland.
But how is the present system to be got rid of? Gradually no doubt. Not by interfering with existing engagements, but by making prospective enactments, giving time, and notice for the settlement of all vested interests. Some such system, as this, does appear to me, I confess, calculated to afford rational ground of hope, that the gradual improvement of the condition of the wretched people of Ireland may be accomplished. Let me hear what you have to say to it: and what other plans, in your view of this important subject, are better calculated to produce the desired object.
The question of Tithes is, no doubt, one that cannot be overlooked; but it is beset with difficulties, and dependent, as it seems to me, in some measure, upon the question of Catholick Emancipation—
I agree with You in thinking, Peel is too much elevated. No doubt, he is a very superior man, and calculated to take an upper walk in public life. But, as yet, I hardly know wht to think of his Principles. I doubt whether they are of a cast sufficiently liberal to satisfy my mind. On the Catholick question they certainly are not. But he has lately manifested a reserve and a caution, that I dont know very well what to think of. Dont flatter yourselves there is any chance of having Canning on your side. At all events he will do better than that; but, I hope he will not be sent to India; as I think it is the situation, of all others, for which he is least qualified. The Governor of India should be a man of cool judgment, of high rank, of popular yet dignified manners; and I cannot think that Canning, with all his talents, and it is impossible to estimate them too highly, can be said to possess in an eminent degree these qualifications.—
It seems probable, that, in some shape or other, you will have the Agricultural question before Parliament again. The Landlords and Farmers will cry aloud for a delivery from the Malt Tax; the benefit of which reduction would be felt principally by the consumers. Surely it would be much wiser to take off taxes, which would give a stimulus to our general trade, and diminish that horrible warfare that is carrying on against the smugglers. As to any immediate relief to the farmers the case does not admit of it; beyond that natural and obvious relief, which ought to be afforded, and which is now in operation all over the Country, in the diminutions of Rents and Tithes. And as to the Landlords, as a body, I do not much sympathise in their condition; they are now called upon to make sacrifices, which they are very capable of making, and which it is but justice, that they should make.
I have sent for Mills Book, and am very impatient to see it; as I am not well aware what his object is, in publishing it, agreeing so entirely as he does with the views you have given of the subject. There is a very good Review in the Quarterly of Godwins coarse and vulgar and impotent attack upon Malthus; and a very fair view of the true object of the Essay. I am glad to see, that both the Edingburgh and Quarterly concur in supporting the doctrines of that able work.—
About a month ago, I was passing a few days with Mr. Charles Taylor the Member for Wales, in company with Dr. Wollaston, Sr. J. Seabright, and Mr. Warburton, the latter of whom told me, that Mill had been writing a very able article on Government, in one of the Cyclopedias; pray tell me where I can see it. No doubt it is sufficiently Radical; but I like to see these Gentlemen spread out the Principles upon which they propose to lay their Democratic Foundation, that we may get a full view of their system, and ascertain the extent of their speculations.
When do you remove to Brook Street, I suppose the period is fast approaching, should circumstances call me to London I shall not fail to beat up your Quarters.—
Mrs. Trower begs to join with me in kind remembrances, to Mrs. Ricardo, Yourself and family and believe me My Dear Ricardo
Yrs very truly