William Cobbett.

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to disappear and hinder production, are completely put down. The
people that work are neither hampered nor disturbed in their la-
bours, but are as free in their industry and their commerce as bees
in a hive. The working classes, however, derive no more advantage,
in the end, from this freedom in their operations, than the bees do
from the honey they take so much pains to make. The higher or-
ders, through the medium of the taxes which they alone have the
privilege of laying, soak up the greatest part of the produce, and
divide it under different names among the members of their body.
To describe the thing properly, the English Parliament performs the
office of a pump ; it sucks up the wealth produced by the working
classes, and turns it over into the hands of the families of the aris-
tocracy. But as it is a machine that has a head, and can think, it
leaves the working people as much as is necessary for them to go
on working. The English aristocracy allow a certain number of
men from the ranks of the people to find their way into the two
houses of Parliament : and it is for the interest of its supremacy
that it should be so. If the body that makes the laws consisted en-
tirely of the persons for whose advantage the industrious portion
of the community is set to work, they might bring their power into
peril by demanding of the people more than it was able to pay. The
men from among the people who find their way into Parliament,
take care to let them know when they are runnirjg into danger,
THE OPPOSITION, in the machine of Government, does the duty
of the safety-valve in a steam-engine. It does not stop the motion;
but it preserves the machine^ by letting off in smoke, the power thafc

6^ Two-penny Trash ;

otherwise mio^bt Mow it up. The exercise of aristocratical power
being attached to the possession of great landed property, it is easy
to see that younger brothers can have no share in the real estates
which may be left by their relatives at their decease. The descend-
ants of an aristocratic family would, in fact, all sink into the ranks
of the common people, if they were to divide what is left by their
relations in equal shares. The eldest son therefore keeps to him-
self all the landed property, to which is attached the exercise of
aristocratical power ; and then he makes use of this power to get
money for his younger brothers, at the expense of the working
classes. It is a mistake to imagine, that in England all the pro-
perty of a family in the higher orders goes exclusively to the eldest
son. It is true, he takes the lauded property, which is exclusively
the family estate. But the younger brothers have for their share
rich livings in the church, sinecures or places of some kind, which
the public is obliged to pay for; and all these are considered as
partof the family property, as much as the other. For there never
ean be too much pains taken to impress the fact, that the higher
orders consider themselves as having a property, not only in the
landed estates which they possess by direct tiile, but in the work-
ing classes besides, on whom they lay taxes as they please, and
share the proceeds among themselves. The higher orders in Great
Britain (who must not be confounded with the English people, a
people who are at their mercy to take what toll they please) will
never allow the working classes in any country to be their own
masters, as long as they can do any thing to hinder it. They know
very well that their own power over the working classes in the
countries under their control, will never be out of danger being diS"
puted, till the working classes in all other countrieSy too, are made the
property of a family or of a caste. And hence it is that they are.
found on all occasions making common cause with barbarism
against civilization. They take the part of Austria against Italy,
Don Migviel against Don Pedro, and the Turks against the Greeks.
If they ever make a show of declaring for the defenders of freedom^
it is only to get hold of the direction of their affairs, and hand them
over to their enemies, Any-where, andevery-where, in short, where
they espy the seeds of any-thing like liberty, they hurry off to
spoil or smother them. If we judge of the plans of the Polignac
ministry by the past proceedings of the individuals that compose
it, and by what is let out by the papers in the service of the English
Ministry, it is easy to tell what kind of transformation the Charter
is intended to undergo m their hands. All Frenchmen will be equal
in point of law, whatever in other respects their title or their rank;
but the great mass of the population will be stricken with political
incapacity, and all public power will belong to the aristocracy.
They will all contribute indiscriminately, in proportion to their
property, to the expenses of the state ; but the members of the
aristocracy will take back again, under the name of pensions or of
salaries^ the portion that they have paid, and divide the restaraong^



1st September, 1830. 63

themselves besides. They will all be equally admissible hy law to
both civil and military offices; but there will be no-body really ad"
milted, except at the good pleasure of the aristocracy, and to serve
its purposes. Personal liberty will be guaranteed to every-body;
and no-body will be seized or prosecuted, but in the ways and terms
the aristocracy has fixed upon. Every man will have equal liberty
to profess his religion, and receive the same protection for his forms
of worship ; only no-body must utter any opinion that may be con-
trary to the tenets of the church. Every-body in France will have
a right to publish and print his thoughts; at his own risk, if he
says anythingthat is against the interests of the church and the aris-
tocracy. To wind up all, property of all kinds will be quite secure;
only the aristocracy will have tlie power of laying it under any con-
tributions they think proper, and so applying it to their own use. —
THIS IS THE SORT OF CHARTER the Polignac ministry
would bestow on France, if it succeeded in getting a majority ia
the Chambers, and the King's consent. It is for the electors to
consider whether they choose to put up with SUCH an order of
things. Their fate IS IN THEIR OWN HANDS.

74. There, my lads of the working classes, that is the
picture that roused the French. That is the picture that
made the working people of Paris Jly to arms. Whether
the picture be true or false, I will leave you to decide ; but,
at any rate, you must now be satisfied, that this is what our
boroughmongers intended to cause to be introduced into
France; and,

4. That, to prevent their doing this, the people of Paris
shed their blood ; and,

5. That, therefore, the Bourbons owe the loss of their
crown to the resolution of the people of France, not to
submit to a government like that of England,

75. I will attempt no commentary. You now, my friends,
see the true 'cause of the glorious achievement in France. It
was not ^^ seditious writings; " it was not love of change;
it was not want of religion ; it was nothing but a conviction,
that the Polignac Ministry intended to bend their necks

64 Two-penny Trash ^

to a horoughnoriger system ; rather than submit to which,
they resolved to shed their biood ; and, as it is clear^ that
PoLiGNAC and his master were instigated to the base at-
tempt by our boroughmongers, to them, Charles and his
family owe the loss of their crown I Let them now, then,
condole with one another: they are all got together here :
let them howl, while the sensible and brave people of France
dance and sing.

76. But, there is one part of the above picture to which
I must call your particular attention. It is that which ex-
hibits our '' OPPOSITION,'' which " in the machine of
*^ government, does the duty of a safety-valve in a steam-
'^ engine. It does not stop the motion ; but it preserves
'' the machine, by letting off, in smoke, the power, which,
*' otherwise, might blow it up.'^ How true this is ! How I
should like to take the man by the hand that wrote this !
" Aye,'* say the boroughmongers, ** and tve know where he
got it,*' Yes, you base wretches, you do know where he got
it, and I know too; and it glads my heart to think how I
have reached you, in spite of all your power and all your
cunning and all your hypocrisy and all your malice. This
is really like *' bread thrown upon the waters ; " it is come
back again after many days. France owes her deliverance
to the good sense and to the valour of the people ; but that
sense and that valour would not have been exercised had
not the press pointed out the danger ; and the press of
France could not have pointed out the danger, notwith-
standing the great ability of the writers, if those writers had
not been in possession of the facts 3 and those facts were
furnished by me, and never by any -body else. Our great
curse has been, the deceiving of the people by s^^am patriots,
who have passed under the name of political parties.


1st September, 1830. 65

When I was a child, it was the court-party and the
country -party. This was a fraud upon the people ; but
after this came Tories and Whigs (taking up names that
had been in use more than a century before) 5 and, each
choosing a leader, the Tories were called Pittites and the
AVhigs Foxites ; and thus, for about thirty years, they were
drawn out in battle array, the two parties taking care not to
injure one another, each laying hold of the public wealth,
and pulling and tearing like two savage wolves striving for
\\\Q exclusive possession of a sheep. In the year 1806,
' when the Foxites had put out the Pittites, and got into their
place, or, rather, had made a compromise and coalition
with a part of the Pittites, and had agreed to an indem-
nity for all the atrocious deeds of the Pitt faction ; then it
was that I set myself to work to break up all parties ; lay-
ing it down as a maxim that the one was just as bad as the
other, and that the opposition was a mere sham, intended
to keep the people quiet while each party plundered them

77. From this time, which is now four-and -twenty years
ago, I have been abhorred by these factions, and have most
severely suffered in consequence of that abhorrence ; but I
■* have demolished the factions, and the words Tory and
Whig now excite ridicule and contempt at the bare sound of
them. The words '' oppositions^* and ** gentlemen oppo-
site,^* are become equally contemptible. The people have
long looked upon the whole as one mass of fellows lighting
and scrambling for public money ; some fighting to keep it,
and others scrambling to get at it ; some dogs in possession
of the carcase, and some growling and barking because they
cannot get at a share. Seeing the people despising both
these factions, a third has started, to whom I have always
given the name of SHOY-HOYS ; and now I will tell you

66 Two-penny Tuash;

why. A shoy-hoy is a sham man or woman, made of
straw or other stuff, twisted round a stake, stuck into the
ground, and dressed in clothes of man or woman, with armSj
legs, head, and every-thing, and with a stick or gun put into
its hand. These shoy-hoys are set up for the purpose of
driving birds from injuring the corn or the seeds, and some-
times to frighten them from cherries, or other fruit. The
people want a reform of the parliament, and there has
for a long time (about fifteen or sixteen years) been a little
band, who have professed a desire to get parliamentary re-
form. They have made motions and speeches and divisions,
with a view of keeping the hopes of the people alive, and
have thereby been able to keep them quiet from time to
time. They have never desired to succeed ; because success
would put an end to their own hopes of emolument ; but they
have amused the people. The great body of the factions^
knowing the reality of their views, have been highly diverted
by their sham efforts, which have never interrupted them ia
the smallest degree in their enjoyment of the general plun-
der. Just as it happens with the birds and the shoy-hoys ia
the fields or gardens. At first, the birds take the shoy-hoy
for a real man or woman ; and, so long as they do this, they
abstain from their work of plunder 3 but after having for
some little while watched the shoy-hoy with their quick and
piercing eyes, and perceived that it never moves hand or
foot, they totally disregard it, and are no more obstructed by
it than if it were a post. Just so is it with these political
shoy-hoys ; but, their demerits are not, like the field shoy-
hoys, confined to the doing of no good ; they do mischiefs
they really, like my friend the Frenchman's safety-valve,
assist the factions in the work of plunder; which I remember
an instance of, indeed, in the curious case of a horticultural
shoy-hoy, which case very aptly illustrates the functions of
these political deceivers. The. birds were committing great

1st September, 1830. 67

ravages upon some turnip-seed that I had at Botley, ** Stick
up a shoy-hoy," said I to my bailiff. ^^ That will do no
good, sir ;" *' It can do no harm, and therefore, stick one
up." He replied by telling me, that he had, that morning,
in the garden of his neighbour Morell, who had stuck up
a shoy-hoy to keep the sparrows from his peas, actually seen
a sparrow settled, with a pod, upon the shoy-hoy' s hat, and
there, as upon a dining table, actually pecking out the peas
and eating them, which he could do with greater security there
where he could look about him and see the approach of an
enemy, than he could have done upon the ground, where he
might have been taken by surprise. Just exactly such are
the functions of our political shoy-hoys. The agricultural
and horticultural shoy-hoys deceive the depredating birds
but a very short time ; but they continue to deceive those
who stick them up and rely upon them, who, instead of
rousing in the morning, and sallying upon the depredators
with powder and shot, trust to the miserable shoy-hoys, and
thus lose their corn and their seeds. Just thus it is with the
people, who are the dupes of the political shoy-hoys. la:
Suffolk, and the other eastern counties, they call them
mawkeses. Mawkes seems to be the female, and shoy-hoy
the male, of this race of mock human beings ; and I
Suppose that the farmers in the east, from some cause or
other, look upon the female as the most formidable of
the two. At any rate, our political shams are of the mas-
culine gender, and therefore shoy-hoy is the proper name
for them.

78. Now then, who are our shoy-hoys ? There is BuR-
DETT, who seems to be the patriarch of the race, his Man,
Alderman Shawl, Russell, Nugent, Wilson, and
several others, besides Brougham and Hume. As to
Burdett and Hobhouse, after the severe pelting at West-

68 Two-penny Trash ;

minster, after Shawl and Wilson's keeping away from the
meetings in honour of the French ; as to Russell, with hi&
four great towns and his Bloomsbury vestry bill (and which
bill I shall give a history of, one of these days) ; as to Nu-
gent, who wrote a letter in praise of the deeds of the people
of Paris, and who (as the newspapers tell us) slipped down
afterwards to visit the ex- King at Cowes ; as to these, T will
say no more now, nor as to Monck (one of Burdett*s purity-
dinner companions) ; for he has retired to walk arm in arm
about Reading with the immaculate Rhadamanthus of the
consistory court : as to these, I will say no more now, but, X^
with regard to Brougham and Hume, I must beg you to be
upon your guard. Watch them well, and you will soon dis-
cover that they answer all the purposes of the shoy-hoy in
MorelFs garden. Brougham has been roaring away in the
north against him whom he used to call the '* greatest cap-
tain of the age,'' and whose eloquence he compared to that
of Cicero, at the time when the Master of the Rolls was
expected to die. You will find him change his tone; and
particularly, you will find him shuffle out of parliamentary
reform. You will find Joseph Hume to do the same ; and,
indeed, he has already begun to do it ; for, at Edinburgh,
the other day, he observed that there was '' still further rS"
form wanted in this country T Still ! What does he
mean by still? Further reform! W^hat does he mean by
further ? Why, J will tell you what he means ; he means,
as he said in the pure house, that no reform is wanted, ex-
cept such as HE can produce by the totting-up of figures.
That is what he means ; and I dare say he has set all the
Presbyterian parsons in Scotland to pray that there never
may be a parliamentary reform as long as breath shall
warm his body.

- 79. The Parliament is said to be summoned to meet on

1st September, 1830. 69

the 26tb of October, for the dispatch of business. What
business ? Of regency, when we have got a king on the
throne likely to live for tv/enty years ? About the revolutions
in Europe? What could the Parliament do about those re-
volutions. But, I will tell you what it may meet for: and
that is to legalize an order in council for restraining the bank
and making paper a legal tender; and this I think by no
means impossible, but, on the contrary,, very probable, if
what the newspapers tell us be true, relative to the quantities
of bullion continually going out of the country ; and, if this
should be the case, you will see what a figure the shoyhoys
w^^ill make. Two babies; nice little, round-faced, fat,
babies, taken out of any two cradles, or out of any two sets
of swaddling-clothes in any two Scotch burghs, know just
as much what to do or what to recommend in such a state of
things, as Brougham and Hume. They would stand aghast :
they would cling hold to the first folly that presented itself;
they would shift their hold every moment ; and the great
counties of York and of Middlesex, would blush to hear
them called their members. Be it a question of foreign
policy, v/hat do these men know any thing more about it
than any real and genuine shoyhoy, who has now the guar-
dianship of the fields. Oh, how I should like to see them
engaged in discussing the question, whether it were right or
wrong to make a bank restriction, in order to prevent the
French from going to the Rhine. However, there will be
plenty of time, hereafter, for all these things when the Par-
liament shall m.eet.

80. In conclusion, I beg leave to recommend to you to
meet in your several trades, to subscribe you pennies a piece
for the relief of the widows and the orphans of Paris. By
paying the money to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle,
(who has acted a sincere and most excellent part in this

70 Two-penny Trash;

business,) or by leaving it at my office, seeing it entered in
the book, and taking a receipt, in the name of Sir Thomas
Beevor, the Treasurer; by either of these means, you may
be sure of the sending of the money to Paris, and as many of
your names along with it as you choose. Always bear in
mind that it was the working people of Paris who per-
formed this great benefit for all the industrious people in the
world. The slain have been slain for you as well as for
their wives and children ; and recollect how grateful it must
be to those widows and children to receive consolation, and \y
particularly from you, the brethren of their husbands and
fathers. There is scarcely any man, who is in work, who
cannot give a penny or twopence. Three pounds have just
been received at my office, from thirty working men, in the
neighbourhood of Maidstone, in Kent. You remember the
voluntary contributions of the aristocracy for carrying on
the dreadful war against the liberties of France. The liber-
ties of France have, at last, prevailed, and have been secured
by the devotion and the valour of the working people. The
aristocracy and the clergy do not subscribe now ; now that
the objectis for the relief of sufferers, and not for the procur-
ing of destruction. The Quakers, too, where are they ?
They could subscribe for German sufferers, and Russian suf- ^
ferers, and Hanoverian sufferers 3 aye, and though their
religion forbade them to subscribe for powder and ball, they
could subscribe to buy flannel shirts for the soldiers that
were engaged in firing powder and ball at the French.
Then, let me hope that they will subscribe a little now, for
here are the wounded, here are the widows, here are the
orphans, demanding their help.

I am your faithful friend

And obedient servant,


1st September, 1830. 7.1


The first number of this work was published on the Jirst
of September, Each number will contain thirty pages, at
least, and will be sold for 8rf. The history will be from the
earliest times, and will come down to the day when L pub-
lish the last Number ; but, I have begun with the Reign
OF George IV. ; because, while the facts are 2M fresh in

"f our minds is the time for putting them on lasting record.
These, too, justice demanded to the memory of his wife.
They are both dead now ; she can suffer no more^ and he
can enjoy nothing more : all that ever can be known about
their characters and conduct can now be collected together;
and now, therefore, is the time to lay that collection before
the world. This part of our history is demanded also by
the necessity that there is of showing to the rising generation
how false are the assertions, that this reign (including the
Regency) was prosperous for the people. Those who are
now from 17 to 21 years of age can have very little know-
ledge of the many striking transactions of this calamitous
reign, during which so many and such daring assaults were

^ made on our rights and liberties, and during which such suf-
ferings were endured by the great body of the people. Peel
says, '^ that we are too near to the advantages which we
have derived from the mild and belief cent reign of his Ma-
jesty to be able fully to appreciate them'' Indeed ! What;
too near to the select- vestry law, the new-trespass law, the
transporting-poaching law, the Irish transporting- with-jury-
law, too near to the dungeon law, and the famous six acts;
too near to the Italian witnesses, to Castles, Oliver, Ed-
wards ; too near to Sidmouth, and Castlereagh, and Can-
ning ; too near to all those and a thousand other things and
persons, *' to be able fully to appreciate the advantages we

72 Two-PENKY Trash ; 1st September, 1830.

derived from their mildness 2indi beneficence V* Better to
stop, I suppose, till we are ^ot farther off; till napies and
dates are beyond the reach of all but a few ; and tiW facts
becojne matter of dispute, instead of being capable of proof
such as to satisfy a judge and jury ! Better. stop, certainly,
till the palace-building, the Irish starvation ; till the l6tkof
August, till the 500 killed and w^ounded persons, and tiil
the letter of thanks to the Yeomanry cavalry^ be all forr-
gotten! Oh, no! Mister Peel, we ^ill, if you please,

•Dot stop so long as this. We will, while the story is fresh in ^^
our memory, have it down in black and white ; in order that
those w^ho are coming up to be 7nen, may learn how to appre-
ciate these acts of '^mildness 2ind benejicence,'* and may
know how they ought to act their part on the stage, which
is now, according to all appearance, going to be a very
bustling one. Wm. COBBETT.


. s, d, s, d.

Beef, per stone 2 8 to 3 10 .

Blutton, ditto 3 to 42

Veal, ditto...... 3 8 to 4 6 a£

Pork, ditto 3 10 to 4 6

• Lamb, ditto.... 3 8 to 4 4


Wheat, per quarter (fine) •• 68^. to 72s»

Barley, ditto 35^. to 38*.

Oats, ditto 28*. to 30*.

Flour, per sack . .» 52^. to 60*.


: Gold (per ounce) in bars , £3 17 lOf

Silver ditto ditto 3 4 ll|

The Quartern Loaf lOjd,

t»rinted by Mills, Jowett, and Mills, Bolt-court, \Fleet-3tre6t.


Online LibraryWilliam CobbettCobbett's two-penny trash, or, Politics for the poor .. (Volume no. 3) → online text (page 2 of 2)