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    The Agricultural Interest

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    Chapter 1
    The present Government, having shown itself to be particularly
    clever in its management of Indictments for Conspiracy, cannot do
    better, we think (keeping in its administrative eye the pacification
    of some of its most influential and most unruly supporters), than
    indict the whole manufacturing interest of the country for a
    conspiracy against the agricultural interest. As the jury ought to
    be beyond impeachment, the panel might be chosen among the Duke of
    Buckingham's tenants, with the Duke of Buckingham himself as
    foreman; and, to the end that the country might be quite satisfied
    with the judge, and have ample security beforehand for his
    moderation and impartiality, it would be desirable, perhaps, to make
    such a slight change in the working of the law (a mere nothing to a
    Conservative Government, bent upon its end), as would enable the
    question to be tried before an Ecclesiastical Court, with the Bishop
    of Exeter presiding. The Attorney-General for Ireland, turning his
    sword into a ploughshare, might conduct the prosecution; and Mr.
    Cobden and the other traversers might adopt any ground of defence
    they chose, or prove or disprove anything they pleased, without
    being embarrassed by the least anxiety or doubt in reference to the

    That the country in general is in a conspiracy against this sacred
    but unhappy agricultural interest, there can be no doubt. It is not
    alone within the walls of Covent Garden Theatre, or the Free Trade
    Hall at Manchester, or the Town Hall at Birmingham, that the cry
    "Repeal the Corn-laws!" is raised. It may be heard, moaning at
    night, through the straw-littered wards of Refuges for the
    Destitute; it may be read in the gaunt and famished faces which make
    our streets terrible; it is muttered in the thankful grace
    pronounced by haggard wretches over their felon fare in gaols; it is
    inscribed in dreadful characters upon the walls of Fever Hospitals;
    and may be plainly traced in every record of mortality. All of
    which proves, that there is a vast conspiracy afoot, against the
    unfortunate agricultural interest.

    They who run, even upon railroads, may read of this conspiracy. The
    old stage-coachman was a farmer's friend. He wore top-boots,
    understood cattle, fed his horses upon corn, and had a lively
    personal interest in malt. The engine-driver's garb, and
    sympathies, and tastes belong to the factory. His fustian dress,
    besmeared with coal-dust and begrimed with soot; his oily hands, his
    dirty face, his knowledge of machinery; all point him out as one
    devoted to the manufacturing interest. Fire and smoke, and red-hot
    cinders follow in his wake. He has no attachment to the soil, but
    travels on a road of iron, furnace wrought. His warning is not
    conveyed in the fine old Saxon dialect of our glorious forefathers,
    but in a fiendish yell. He never cries "ya-hip", with agricultural
    lungs; but jerks forth a manufactured shriek from a brazen throat.

    Where is the agricultural interest represented? From what phase of
    our social life has it not been driven, to the undue setting up of
    its false rival?

    Are the police agricultural? The watchmen were. They wore woollen
    nightcaps to a man; they encouraged the growth of timber, by
    patriotically adhering to staves and rattles of immense size; they
    slept every night in boxes, which were but another form of the
    celebrated wooden walls of Old England; they never woke up till it
    was too late--in which respect you might have thought them very
    farmers. How is it with the police? Their buttons are made at
    Birmingham; a dozen of their truncheons would poorly furnish forth a
    watchman's staff; they have no wooden walls to repose between; and
    the crowns of their hats are plated with cast-iron.

    Are the doctors agricultural? Let Messrs. Morison and Moat, of the
    Hygeian establishment at King's Cross, London, reply. Is it not,
    upon the constant showing of those gentlemen, an ascertained fact
    that the whole medical profession have united to depreciate the
    worth of the Universal Vegetable Medicines? And is this opposition
    to vegetables, and exaltation of steel and iron instead, on the part
    of the regular practitioners, capable of any interpretation but one?
    Is it not a distinct renouncement of the agricultural interest, and
    a setting up of the manufacturing interest instead?

    Do the professors of the law at all fail in their truth to the
    beautiful maid whom they ought to adore? Inquire of the Attorney-
    General for Ireland. Inquire of that honourable and learned
    gentleman, whose last public act was to cast aside the grey goose-
    quill, an article of agricultural produce, and take up the pistol,
    which, under the system of percussion locks, has not even a flint to
    connect it with farming. Or put the question to a still higher
    legal functionary, who, on the same occasion, when he should have
    been a reed, inclining here and there, as adverse gales of evidence
    disposed him, was seen to be a manufactured image on the seat of
    Justice, cast by Power, in most impenetrable brass.

    The world is too much with us in this manufacturing interest, early
    and late; that is the great complaint and the great truth. It is
    not so with the agricultural interest, or what passes by that name.
    It never thinks of the suffering world, or sees it, or cares to
    extend its knowledge of it; or, so long as it remains a world, cares
    anything about it. All those whom Dante placed in the first pit or
    circle of the doleful regions, might have represented the
    agricultural interest in the present Parliament, or at quarter
    sessions, or at meetings of the farmers' friends, or anywhere else.

    But that is not the question now. It is conspired against; and we
    have given a few proofs of the conspiracy, as they shine out of
    various classes engaged in it. An indictment against the whole
    manufacturing interest need not be longer, surely, than the
    indictment in the case of the Crown against O'Connell and others.
    Mr. Cobden may be taken as its representative--as indeed he is, by
    one consent already. There may be no evidence; but that is not
    required. A judge and jury are all that is needed. And the
    Government know where to find them, or they gain experience to
    little purpose.
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