William Dealtry.

The laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society online

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generals, and filled all the most important offices in the State
and Church, with those who would do her homage. She
dismissed ministers and created cardinals, declared war, and
made peace. She said to the Abbe de^Beris : C I have all


the nobility at my feet, and my lap dog is weary with their
fawnings.' When this woman found her charms waning,
she ministered to the king's appetite, by the most infamous
institution ever tolerated in a civilized land. Several ele-
gant houses were built in an inclosure, called the Pare aux
Cerfs, near Versailles, and were used for the reception of
beautiful female children, who awaited the pleasure of the
king. Many years of the life of Louis XV was spent in
the debauchery of girls of an unmarriageable age, and in un-
dermining their principles of modesty and fidelity. Chil-
dren were often taken by force. If the parents remonstrated
they were sent to the Bastile. The cost of the Pare aux
Cerfs was 25,000,000. It is an appalling fact, that for
half a century France was governed by prostitutes.

"De Toqueville said: 'The revolution will ever remain
in darkness to those who do not look beyond it. Only by
the light of ages that preceded can it be judged.' This so-
cial degradation was one -of the strongest incentives to the
revolution. Thought was the great emancipator. Men of
genius were the Titans who hove up the mountains of prej-
udice and oppression. They simplified political economy,
and made it intelligible to the popular mind. Voltaire as-
sailed, with the keenest sarcasm and the most piercing in-
vectives, the corruption of the church. Montesquieu pop-
ularized and spread before the national view the policy that
might render a people prosperous and happy. A seductive
eloquence, in favor of the humble class, was used by Rous-
seau such us the world has never equaled.

"The minister that invented a new tax was applauded as
a man of genius. The offices of the magistrates were sold.
Judges paid enormous sums for their places, and then sold
their decisions. Titles were sold, making the purchaser one
of the privileged classes. All the trades and professions were


sold. The number of trades and offices sold amounted to
300,000. An army of 200,000 tax-gatherers devoured
every thing. To extort subsistence from a starving people,
the most cruel expedients were adopted. Galleys, gibbets,
dungeons, and racks were called into requisition. When
the corn was all gone the cattle were taken. The ground
became sterile for want of manure. Men, women, and chil-
dren yoked themselves to the plow. The population died
off, and beautiful France was becoming a place of graves.

u No language can describe the dismay in the homes of
the peasants when the tax-gatherer darkened their doors.
The seed corn was taken, the cow driven off, and the pig
taken from the pen. Mothers pleaded, with tears, that food
might be left for their children. The sheriff, used to scenes
of misery, had a heart of rock. He went surrounded by a
band of bailiffs to protect him from violence.

"The government seemed to desire to keep the people
poor. These despotic kings would desolate their realms
with taxation, and would excite wars that would exhaust
energy and paralyze industry. The people thus impover-
ished and kept in ignorance might bow submissively to the
yoke. The wars which, in endless monotony, are inscribed
upon the pages of history, were mostly waged by princes,
so as to engross the attention of their subjects. When a des-
pot sees that public attention is likely to be directed to any
of his acts, he immediately embarks in some war to divert
the nation. This is the invariable source of despotism. A
few hundred thousand people are slaughtered, and millions
of money squandered in a senseless war. When a peace is
made, it brings no repose to the people, who must toil and
starve to raise money to pay the expenses of the war. In
general, such has been the history of Europe for a thousand
years. Despots are willing that billows of blood should


surge over the land, that the cries of the oppressed may be
drowned. So excessive has been the burden of taxation, that
it has been calculated if the produce of an acre amounted
to sixteen dollars, the king took ten, the proprietor five, leav-
ing the cultivator one. In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, from
Paris, wrote to Mrs. Trist, saying: c Of 20,000,000 sup-
posed to be in France, 19,000,000 are more wretched, ac-
cursed under every circumstances of human existence, than
the most conspicuously wretched individual in the United

" Louis XVI was an amiable young man, of morals most
singularly pure for that age. He spent his leisure at lock-
making. It was upon the head of this benevolent, good king
the vials of popular wrath were emptied, which had been
treasured up for so many reigns. The nation was in debt,
the interest could not be paid without borrowing or increas-
ing the taxes. This the nation could not bear. The sugges-
tion of Necker, to give the people a voice in the adminis-
tration of affairs, and to tax high-born men, met with oppo-

u There were 80,000 nobles, inheriting the pride of feu-
dal power, with thousands of dependents on their smiles.
There were officers in the army, men of wealth who had
purchased titles of nobility. There were 100,000 persons
who had in various ways purchased immunity from the
burdens of the State. These were hated by the people,
and despised by the nobles. There were 200,000 priests,
and 60,000 monks. There were the collectors of the rev-
enue, and all the vast army of office-holders. The mass of
the people were nearly slaves, unarmed, unorganized, and
uneducated. They "had been dispirited by ages of oppres-
sion, and had no means of combining or uttering a voice
that could be heard.


"The French revolution was accelerated by a want of
bread, or a short harvest, which is often short where so few
are the producers. The most vigorous efforts were adopted
to supply Paris with food. Nearly 1,000,000 people were
within its walls. Vast numbers had crowded into the city
from the country, hoping to obtain food. No law could re-
strain such multitudes of men, actually dying with hunger.
As it was better to die with a bullet than with slow starva-
tion, they would at all hazards break into the dwellings of
the wealthy and into magazines. The sufferings of the peo-
ple were so intense, that military bands had to convoy provis-
ions through the famished districts. The peasants, who
saw their children dying and gasping with hunger, would at-
tack the convoys with the ferocity of wolves. M. Foulon,
who was at one time the prime minister, said : l lf the peo-
ple are hungry let them eat grass; it is good enough for
them ; my horses eat it. Let the people be mowed down like
grass.' After awhile the people said : 'You wanted us to
eat hay, you shall eat some yourself.' They tied a truss of
hay around his neck, and hung him on a lamp-post.

"The morning of the fifth of October dawned stormy,
damp, and cold. There were thousands in Paris who had
eaten nothing that morning for thirty hours. The women
of the humble classes were in an awful state of destitution
and misery. The populace of Paris were actually starving.
An energetic woman, half delirious with woe, seized a drum
and strode through the streets beating it, occasionally shriek-
ing l BREAD! BREAD! breadV She collected a number
of women, which rapidly increased to 8,000. Such a strange
apparition the world never saw before. Like a swelling in-
undation the living flood rolled through the streets, and soon
a cry was heard, c To Versailles.' A few of the most furi-
ous had pistols and guns. Gloomy winter had now com-


menced, and there was no money, no bread. The aristo-
cratic party all over the realm sent across the frontiers all
the funds they could collect. They wished to make France
as weak as possible, so that the people might be more easily
subjected again to the feudal yoke by the armies of foreign
despots. In Paris alone there were 200,000 beggars. It is
one of the greatest marvels that such a mass of men, liter-
ally starving, could have remained so quiet. The resources
of the kingdom were exhausted during the winter in feeding
the towns of France.

u The wealth of the Church was enormous. It was valued
at $800,000,000. The result of all this was a cruel war
in France a struggle between the nobles and the people. It
induced the nations of Europe to send their armies to force
France to assume their old form of government. The peo-
ple looked on the nobles and privileged classes as their ene-
mies, among them the king and queen. Thomas Jeffer-
son resided in Paris, and he said of Louis XVI: ' He had a
queen of absolute sway over his weak mind and timid virtue,
a character the reverse of his on all points. This angel, as
gaudily painted in the rhapsodies of Burke, with some smart-
ness of fancy but no sound sense, was proud, disdainful of
restraint, indignant at obstacles to her will, eager in pursuit
of pleasure, and firm enough to hold to her desires or perish
in their wreck. Her inordinate gamblings and dissipation,
with those of the clique, Count de Artoise, and others, had
been a sensible item in the exhaustion of the treasury, which
called into action the reforming hand of the nation. Her op-
position to it, her inflexible perverseness and dauntless spirit,
led her to the guillotine, and drew the king on with her,
and plunged the world into crimes and calamities which will
forever stain the pages of history. I have ever believed, had
there been no queen there would have been no revolution.


The king would have gone hand in hand with the wisdom
of his sound counselors, who, guided by the increased light
of the age, wished only to advance the principles of their
social constitution. The deed which closed the mortal ca-
reer of these sovereigns I shall neither approve nor con-

"Proudhomme asserts the number of the victims who
were sent to the guillotine as 18,603. These, added to those
who perished by civil war, make 1,022,351. The Jacobin
leaders,* trembling before Europe in aims, felt that there
was no safety but in annihilation of all its internal enemies.
Danton, Murat, and Robespierre were not men who loved
cruelty they were resolute fanatics, who believed it to be
well to cut oft the heads of many thousands of aristocrats,
that a nation of 30,000,000 might enjoy popular liberty.
While the revolutionary tribunal was thus mercilessly ply-
ing the ax of the executioner, the National Convention,
where the Jacobins ruled supremely, was enacting many
laws that breathed the spirit of humanity and liberty. The
taxes were equally distributed in proportion to the property.
Provision was made for the instruction of youth, and the
emancipation of slaves abroad.

"In the reign of Louis XV, Lettres de Cachet were issued.
Whoever were the possessors of these could get whom they
pleased into prison. All those who had influence at court
could obtain them. The king could not refuse a mistress
or a courtier. They were distributed as freely as postage
stamps. None felt any degree of security from those who
could get hold of them from being sent to the Bastile,
which was a massive, cold, damp prison. Many of its cells
were built in the shape of a bottle, into which the prisoner

* A society of revolutionists, who held secret meetings in the monastery
of the Jacobine monks, to direct the proceedings of the National Convention.


was let down, and his food thrown to him. This gloomy
prison was destroyed in July, 1790.

u On the 20th of June, 1791, the king and his family left
Paris for a foreign country, and were brought back, which
was taken as evidence that they intended to join the enemies
of France. They were incarcerated in the Temple as pris-
oners. The king was vacillating at times, making strong
promises to the people, putting on their badges, and then en-
during for it reproaches from his wife. In prison he was
separated from his wife and children. In July, 1793, a P~
pears this decree: 'The Committee of Public Safety de-
crees that the son of Capet shall be separated from his mother^
and committed to the charge of a tutor/ This beautiful boy
endured untold miseries, hunger, and every indignity that
could be put on him. Worn out by sickness and cruelty, in
May, 1795, he died, aged ten years and two months. On
the morning of the 2ist of December, 1792, Louis XVI was
executed. A few months afterward his queen suffered the
same fate." *

Foreign nations interfered, which resulted in the rise of
Napoleon to save France. None can read the story of this
family without being affected. The lesson this revolution
teaches us is that we can not multiply philosophers and the
machinery of government without injuring the people. To
human forbearance there is a limit. Men will not quietly
die with hunger when others have more than they can
consume. The Due d' Orleans went to a meeting of the
king's cabinet with a loaf of bread made of fern leaves.
He said to the king: 4>> Sire, see the kind of bread your
subjects eat."

The Americans should be thankful that they can right
their wrongs without resorting to killing men by machin-

* Harper & Brothers are the publishers of Abbott's " French Revolution."


ery. They have a vote given to them, which they can use
to clear away all their wrongs. The first wrong done to the
American people was to let men have land who did not in-
tend to cultivate it with their own hands. The motive was
to get others to work for them. The quantity of land that
Sturgis purchased of the Kansas Indians will make a State
equal in area to Massachusetts. This man may not be
permitted to keep this land. He bases his claim upon this:
Indians can sell their own lands to whom they please. In-
dians, in the State of New York, living near Buffalo, have
sold their claims to speculators.

"The grant of land to the Northern Pacific Railroad is
47,000,000 of acres. To the Central Pacific 35,000,000
of acres. To the Atlantic and Pacific 17,000,000 of acres.
The aggregate number of acres granted by Government, for
railroad purposes, is 154,201,584 acres, equal in extent, if
placed in one body, to the area of the States of New Yo/k,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and New England.*'

"There are plenty of honest men in the community
who will never believe in the possibility of our law-makers
lending their sanction to a profligate expenditure of the peo-
ple's money. To such we commend a paragraph from the
The Stockholder: 'Some able gentlemen have this matter
[The Northern Pacific Railroad] in hand, and mean to get
a subsidy^ from the Government, which will make their
scheme a rich mine,' etc. The National Government was
never organized for taxing the people for private companies.
As its charter of privileges now stands, at no distant day it
will be worth $100,000,000, through the settlement of lands
along its route. This modest corporation wants help of the
United States to the amount of $60,000,000. This is cer-
tainly the most brilliant piece of railroad financiering re-

* Chicago Tribune, j- SUBSIDY, aid in money from governments a tax.


cently heard of. If the United States is really going into
the railroad business to this extent, it had better go in all
over, lay out, build, equip, run the railways, and pocket the
receipts, which is something to the purpose. We do not like
this one-sided business of giving away every-thing and get-
ting nothing. It is all outgo and no income for Samuel."*

God's earth has too long been made the sport of specula-
tors. It was given to the people to those who would oc-
cupy and use it. Carlyle says: "The_earth belongs to
those two to God, and to those of his children who have
worked well, or who will work well upon it." John Locke
says: "The earth was given for the use of the industrious,
and labor was to be his title to it." J. S. Mill says : " Labor
is necessary to clear, to drain, and cultivate the land and
upon this rests the sole foundation of the title to property on
the earth."

These are but the echoes of common sense ; and yet the
rulers of the country are squandering the land, upon those
who do not, and will not, work upon it ; to those who are
mere speculators out of the sweat of multitudes who toil on
the farms, and in the work-shops of the country ! This
is the source of nearly all overgrown fortunes. It is the
chief cause of such a concentration of capital as enables a
few to monopolize breadstuff's, and thus make another ter-
rible assessment upon the working classes. It enables oth-
ers to bribe Congressmen and State Legislators to give them
abundant plunderings.

Quetalbet says: "Society prepares the crimes the crimi-
nals commit." Land monopoly, fostered by Legislatures,
causes crime. If all the idle lands in the States were to be
sold it would reform society. What an enormous amount
of crime the Pacific Railroad will cause ! The tea and other

* Editorial from the Commercial of May, 1868.


products it will brins; we can do without. Mrs. Grant says:
" Before the Revolution every family had a cow." Tea was
not known then. Milk and bread was one item of food. A
crime was not known. Says the Commissioner of Statistics :
"In 1861, among 4,000 people there was one who committed
a crime against property. In 1867, there was one property
crime occurred among 2,360 people." Ohio Report.

Banks favor a few in this manner: Twenty men each pos-
sessing a house worth $1,000, as one man pledge them
to the Comptroller, who gives them 20,000 beautiful pieces
of paper, which are called dollar bills, for which unthinking
laborers will clothe and feed a part of their number, while
they are building another twenty houses. These are given
to the authorities for another $20,000, under the pretense
that society needs more capital. The pledger receives rents
for these houses while in pledge. In this wicked manner,
by pledging what is most valuable, a few fill the land with
railroads, the profits of which keep men from work. The
good Franklin could print $4,000,000. His rulers loaned it
for $22,000, which defrayed the expenses of his colony.
The result was no poverty, no crime, no homeless men.

u Seeing to lend money at interest, that is to say, for gain,
that is to say, to receive money for the use of money ; seeing
that to do this was contrary, and is still contrary, to the
principles of the Catholic Church ; and among Christians,
or professors of Christianity, such a thing was never heard
of before what is impudently called the Reformation.

"The ancient philosophers, the Fathers of the Church,
both Testaments, the Canons of the Church, the decisions
of the Popes and Councils, all agree, all declare, that to take
money for the use of money is sinful. Indeed, no such
thing was ever attempted to be justified until the savage
Henry VIII had cast off the supremacy of the Pope. Jews


did it, but then Jews had no civil rights. They were re-
garded as moral monsters." :

There is one truth very certain, that labor keeps us from
perishing ; and if any one will not work, he does an injustice
to him that will work. He that will not work, is no better
than a robber. Nor is it just to choose easy work, and let
another do the hard work. The generous, noble man will
resolve to do a part of the hard work. Whatever plans
make fortunes, are wicked and unscriptural. The means
whereby men become rich, are the corruptions of ages; and
when the American poor have drunk deeper from the cup
of suffering, they will overthrow the causes that make men
idle and rich. Our Savior condemned riches, and told his
disciples not to refuse to lend, and they were to take no re-
ward for it. The opinions of the "Fathers" show that in-
terest is sinful and unjust.

St. Basil says: u It is the highest cruelty to charge the
man who comes to borrow to preserve a wretched exist-
ence, or to seek riches from his pinching poverty."

St. Clement says : " It is wrong to charge usury [money
for the use of money] for the money which should be ex-
tended with open hearts and hands to the needy."

St. Chrysostom says: "Nothing surpasses in barbarity the
modern practice of usury ; certainly the usurers f traffic on
other people's misfortunes, and seek gain through their ad-
versity. They dig for the distressed a pit of misery."

St. Augustine says: "I would not have you become us-
urers ; it is repugnant to the law of God. Is he more cruel
who steals or purloins from a rich man, than he who grinds
a poor man with usury and becomes reprehensible ? "

Leo I says: u It is true, his substance swells from unjust

* William Cobbett's " History of the Reformation."

J- USURY, the practice of taking interest. Lord Bacon. In this sense not used.


and fearful additions; whilst the substance of the soul de-
cays. Usury of money is a rope to strangle the soul."

St. Hilary says: "What is more cruel than, under pre-
tense of relieving, to- augment the borrower's distress; in-
stead of aiding him, to add to his wretchedness?"

St. Gregory says: "Hold in abhorrence usury dealings;
love your neighbor, not your money; bid farewell to sur-
plus wealth and usury. Excite love for the poor."

St. Ambrose says: " Rich men, poverty is a fertile field
for your plentiful crops ; he who has not the necessaries of
'life must pay you usury. This is the height of cruelty."

St. Jerome says: "Some persons imagine usury is sinful
only when received in money. The sacred writer has pro-
scribed increase,* so that you can not receive more than you
gave. Usury is prohibited among mankind in general."

St. Aquinas says: " To receive usury for money lent,
is radically unjust an inequality opposed to justice."

Aristotle says: "It is allowable for men to acquire gain
by fruits and animals. The practice of reaping money from
money is repugnant to nature ; its gains are base."

Plutarch says: " By giving usury and entering into con-
tracts, we manufacture the yoke of our slavery."

Blackstone says: " In the dark ages of monkish supersti-
tion, to wit, during the prevalence of the Catholic religion,
interest was laid under a total interdict."

Kent, in his "Commentaries" says : "Till the twelfth cen-
tury the Jews were the only money-lenders. Catholics did
not like to engage in the business of renting money."

The rules of the Catholic Church, as given by its Coun-
cils from time to time, forbids, in the strongest language, the
loaning of money on interest. The Bulls [letters] of many
pontiffs, the decrees of many emperors, forbid interest.

^INCREASE, a Bible term meaning corn, wine, oil the produce of the earth


Time, the great changer of events, was destined to make
these precepts of no effect. Catholics saw the Jews and
Lombards [Italian merchants of the fourteenth century] ob-
taining riches, and it was a natural thought to divert these
riches into other channels. In 1515, Pope Leo X invited
sums of money to be contributed to be lent to the poor, or
to be loaned so as to keep men from becoming poor. In-
dulgences were granted to those who contributed to these
charitable funds,which were called Mantes Pietatls Mount-
ains of Piety." *

It appears singular to us, at present, that it should have
been once considered unlawful to receive interest for lent
money ; but this circumstance will excite no wonder when
the reason of it is fully explained. Those who borrowed
money required it only for immediate use, to relieve their ne-
cessities, or to procure the conveniences of life; and those
who advanced it to such indigent persons did so either
through benevolence or friendship.

Acquiring money by money was long detested, and this
feeling was strengthened by severe papal laws. The people
often contrive means to render the faults of legislators less
hurtful. This was devised. A capital was collected, to be
lent to the poor on pledges without interest. This idea
was suggested by the Emperor Augustus, who sold the prop-
erty of criminals, and lent the money, without interest, on
pledges. Severus lent money to purchase land without in-
terest, and took his pay in produce.

The Pope changed burdensome vows into donations to
41 lending-houses." The rich gave money so as to legitimate

Online LibraryWilliam DealtryThe laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society → online text (page 26 of 33)