In Nicholls's History of Leicestershire we find a particular account
of the parish of Little Dalby, communicated by professor Martyn, in
which he says the number of houses are 21, families 22, and inhabitants
123. Labourers have in summer 1s. 2d. per day; in winter 1s.—in
harvest, together with their victuals 1s. 6d. The net expence of the
poor in 1776 was 27l. 16s. and the whole rent is 1422l. 5s.
Thus we find this little parish, like other parishes, contains several
sorts and conditions of men, as landlords and tenants, farmers and
labourers, paupers, &c. and therefore may be as proper to apply the
principles of this constitution to, by way of illustration, as any.
Suppose then that this constitution should be adopted, let us see how it
would affect the inhabitants of Little Dalby.
1st. The first effect the constitution would have on the parish would be
rendering all the land within the same the common stock or property of
the parish, and all the families of the land-lords, whether they be one,
two, three, or more, would as such, become extinct; and if they still
remained and did not emigrate, would be converted from nests of worthless
devouring drones, to families of wealthy active citizens, which change I hope
would be no way detrimental either to the parish or nation at large.
2dly. Another set of drones, though not so expensive, I mean the poor,
on whom the 27l. 16s. is bestowed, would also as paupers become extinct,
and the money now levied for them saved, as will be seen hereafter. This
change also would be no way detrimental to either the parish or nation
3dly. As it is improbable that Mr. Martyn would reckon the houses and
lands in the occupation of the landlords in his rent-roll, we may safely
suppose such to be worth at least 100l. a year and rate them at that
value and then the rates will be 1522l. 5s. Neither will this
alteration be detrimental to the parish or nation at large.
4thly. If we suppose the administration of government according to such
a constitution to be very cheap, as undoubtedly it must for reasons
sufficiently obvious, a land-tax on the parish rent-rolls of 4s. in the
pound may be deemed not very inadequate to its expenditure.
These things being premised, we shall soon see whether the people of
Little Dalby, and the nation at large have reason to be sorry, or rejoice
at the establishment of such a constitution.
The whole rents of the parish, including the premises occupied by the
Yields to the state at 4s. land-tax,
And leaves to be equally divided among the 123 inhabitants of every
description, and whether they be men, women or children, legitimate or
Of which the individual share is something above
Here we find that after a large sum is remitted to government, men,
women and children of every description, share equally nearly 10l. each
unincumbered with poor-rates or taxes! Was there ever such a prospect
of happiness exposed to the contemplation of mankind? Who then will be the
miscreant that will oppose such a system? Who on this occasion will take
up a lamentation for the landed interest? Will they really be reduced to
misery? And shall we have tragedies acted on the stage to draw forth our
sympathy to their unparalleled sufferings? Nay, or will they not
themselves rather, on due consideration, be the first to lead up the
philanthropic dance of human happiness? Come then let us take an
impartial view of the effect which such a revolution would produce on
the different orders of mankind.
First, In respect to the landlords of every degree; are they the most
happy of the human race, either in regard to their amours, marriages,
family connections, health, &c.? Does not the pride and etiquette of
birth and family act the inoxorable tyrant over their most tender
feelings, destroy love and friendship, and even dissolve the brotherly
ties of blood by unnaturally erecting one in every brood of children
into a lordly tyrant over the rest? Nay, their whole œconomy among
themselves, without regard to others, is a system of violence on nature,
justice and humanity. What kind of treatment then must the rest of
mankind expect from a combination of such unnatural monsters?
What will then be the fate or feelings of this class under the new
regimen? Why, they will, from insatiable, proud, jealous and unhappy
victims to gaudy bondage, become wealthy, industrious, familiar and
happy citizens. They will bring up their children to trades,
employments, and useful habits; and will at the regeneration of things
(even when their lands are sequestered) be still the richest inhabitants
of the community, from the valuable effects they would still retain,
consisting of money, plate, jewels, furniture, apparel, corn, cattle,
carriages, horses, &c. Thus would they have left an ample fund for
industry to work upon. They will also, as well as others, to
enliven and succour the efforts of industry, be entitled to as many shares of
the parochial revenues as their families consist of souls. Let us then leave
them to their happy lot, and contemplate the cases of the other classes.
Secondly, Of the farmers, merchants, and master mechanics.—We know
that if these have any landed property, their possessions would be sunk
in the common stock of which they and their families would become joint
proprietors, and it would in general be a change to their advantage. The
universal abolition of taxes, and the regular returns of their family
dividends would also be an eternal prop and spur to their industry, and
enable them to sell their respective produce, wares and manufactures at
such low rates, as to insure both a very extensive foreign and domestic
trade.—Commerce would then be so steady and permanent, that
bankruptcies would rarely, if ever happen, and jails and extreme misery
could never, as now, be the consequence of innocent inability to pay.
Would not these reflections be a source of great consolation and remove
from the minds of tradesmen a gloomy cloud of black apprehensions?
Thirdly, The labouring class, whether in agriculture or mechanical
occupations, would be far from suffering by the change. The abolition of
the taxes which penetrate through and through, and thus enormously
enhance the price of every article they purchase, would certainly never
hurt them! All things would be on that account incalculably cheaper.
They would also receive the dividends of rents according to the number
of their households. Hereby they would be enabled now and then to be
hospitable to one another, to entertain a friend, to relax a little now
and then from incessant labour, to appear clean and decent in apparel,
and comfortable in their habitations, to educate their children, and in
a word, to be respectable and happy citizens. Such also as aspired to
would have an opportunity of saving money for that purpose. It would not be as
now, once down and aye down. No, there would then be a possibility of
There would also, instantaneously, be a great improvement in the morals
of this class. From the vices and miseries of hopeless grovelling
poverty, they would at once be elevated to the virtues, consequence, and
happiness of mediocrity. They would be relieved from the most gloomy of
prospects, that of bringing up children to be w—s and soldiers for
the quality and of making their exit from a degraded life, either in a
ditch or a workhouse. In short, sentiments and conduct becoming the
dignity of human nature would universally be the result of this happy
Fourthly, The paupers, the blind and the lame, the helpless old, and the
orphan young, would certainly have reason to rejoice in this
all-cheering constitution. For they would always find some relation or
friend who, for the sake of their parochial annuity, would give them a
place by their fire-side. Nor would any be so miserably poor as to make
it altogether an object of consideration, whether the stipend of a poor
relation was quite adequate to their maintenance.—Thus therefore would
relations live and die together in the eternal bonds of amiable friendship.
Fifthly, The young unmarried people of both sexes, how would they be
affected by this constitution? Why, the young men would certainly be no
worse of 10l. a year, during their apprenticeships, to keep them in
decent cloaths, or to serve, if need be, as a premium to their master,
nor yet after they were out of their time, would they find such an
annuity an incumberance. Young tradesmen and mechanics, and farmers too,
have particular occasion for money to buy tools and stock, and if they
should think of marriage, as such a favourable state of things would
invite all people to,
money would be found to be useful an hundred ways.
But to crown the whole, let us see how it will affect the youthful of
the fair sex. Will 10l. a year perniciously affect them? Will they be
worse educated, worse clothed, or imbibe meaner sentiments? Will the
having something of their own to manage, infect their young minds with a
stronger repugnance to economy? No, they will rather on the contrary
contract an early bias to frugality and domestic life, and use their
utmost endeavours to become notable housewives, as the prospect of
marriage, in such a land of bliss, would soon open to their view. The
whole horizon of love will glow with felicity, no more to be clouded
with ill-boding and gloomy apprehensions. The hopes of a family would be
but the hopes of increased happiness, and the quality, whose voluptuous
manners have such baneful influence on all beneath them, will now become
extinct and virtue, frugality, and industry, become the perpetual
administers of happiness to the whole human race.
Objection. Though the inhabitants of Little Dalby, as you state, would
share 10l. a head annually, yet many parishes may have a greater
population in proportion to their rents, and then they must share less.
And besides the encreased expences of the state, together with the heavy
local expenditure of a parish, respecting its police, buildings, roads,
&c. might demand a much greater drawback from the rentals than 4s. in
the pound, which would considerably reduce the individual dividends.
Answer. Public works and expences, as well as an encreased population
may certainly affect the people's dividends: But as public expences
would be entirely under their own controul, they would take care they
would neither be enormous nor wasteful. And whatsoever casualties should
arise, yet I am confident that at the worst their rentals would not only
be amply sufficient for all public exigencies, but leave a
considerable surplus, to be dealt back again among the people. But we have not
yet considered what mines there may be in Little Dalby to encrease its revenue;
neither what improvements might be made in the soil, or what wood there is to
fell. And we know that many parishes are very rich in such resources, as well
as in buildings, fisheries, &. so that many parishes will be found
considerably more wealthy than Little Dalby is in respect to its population.
But after all, here is the grand consolation under this constitution, that
however little they may share again of the public revenues, yet they have no
taxes to pay, are entirely their own masters, and have their fate in all
political respects in their own hands. No interested few can warp the public
affairs to their own advantage, cramp their liberties, or direct them how to
think. In a word, a people under such a constitution may be as free as they
please, as economical as they please, and as happy as this mortal state will
It is in every body's power to make calculations and estimates, similar
to this of little Dalby, in reference to this constitution, and how it
would influence the happiness of the people of any parish, that may
conveniently come under their review.
Those who may have any thing to object against this constitution and its
effect on the human race, either in theory or practice, let them come
forward and speak out. It is time that philosophy should prepare some
healing plan, built on immutable truth and justice, to save the
convulsed world from misery and desolation.
A smattering of the Rights of Man has now pervaded all nations, and
rendered them very unhappy. The rich know not what to fear, and the poor
know not how far their rights extend, or how far they are practicable.
This is the time then for intelligent minds to employ themselves on this
grand object. Imperfect systems will not now be able long to resist the
reiterated attacks of truth. The dark ages will never more return;
wherefore then should we prolong anarchy, by childishly resisting the
growing empire of reason.
When a person sits down as a philosopher, or in other words, as a man to
the study of any science or branch of knowldge, he should certainly do
so as much unconcerned about the issue of the investigation with respect
to the interest of himself, or any party or class of men, as an upright
judge sits down to hear a cause, or as a boy to work a question in
arithmetic. And dare any say that we shall not sit down to politics in
the same unbiassed manner?
This is undoubtedly the most likely way to arrive at the truth, and to
make us adepts in the science we aim at. Surely you would not confine
your pupil in arithmetic or mathematics, to such and such a result of
your problem, whether in truth it can be so according to rule or right
reason? Nor oblige a judge to make up his mind concerning the
determination of a cause before he heard it? If then we are not to sit
down to politics in the same free state of mind as to our other studies,
for God's sake, I say, speak out, and tell us to which side we are to
incline at the expence of truth?
I say, are we at the price of our sacred rights and interests to do violence
to truth in favour of canibals? Are we to determine right or wrong, that we and
our children shall and ought to be less in the scale of animal beings than
worms and caterpillars? Shall we say that Indians have an indisputable right to
fish, hunt, graze, &c. and must civilized men be entirely disinherited of
their natural property without an equivalant? Being so rich in a state of
nature, do we shrink into abject servile poverty and forfeit our title to all
abundance of natural goods the moment we join civilized society?
* Detested be the mode of education
that would confine us to believe so! Sophists come
forward! Speak out,
and tell us how we are to study the chief of sciences, the science of
the Rights of Man! Tell us how to think, ay, and likewise how to feel!
Tell us whether we shall study as with the unprejudiced minds of
untainted youth, or with the determined, mercenary, warped sophistry of
our critical literati?
Shall we, ye leaders of the blind, study with a Pitt out of office or
with a Pitt in office? As nature is the same whatsoever minister shall
reign, so are the truths deducible from nature. And whenever I study,
let who will reign, it shall be to discover the truth, and the whole
truth, so help me God!
Wherefore having discharged my duty to mankind, in pointing out to the
best of my apprehension, the only means by which they may be happy, I
hold myself guiltless, and leave it to their choice to be free or
enslaved; independent or influenced; to eat their own victuals, or give
them to the thankless.