ONE very great cause of the extreme poverty which has so long prevailed in this country among a numerous class of its inhabitants, is created by our land owners, who, for a series of years have, as it were, confederated in the monopoly of farms. Mr. Pratt, that elegant and philanthropic writer, has traced this oppression to it source.
"Unless the system of domestic monopoly be vigorously restrained," says Mr. Pratt, "and particularly the monopolizers of land, a system which has been going on in wicked progression from bad to worse, till terms are at last wanting to express its corruption, or its complexity. When this many-headed monster, with the Hydra in its train, shall be under control, when not till then, when ruined cottages shall be rebuilt, agriculture encouraged as the first object of industry, and farms more equalized, horrible as has been the devastation, incredible as has been the destruction, the human species may begin to breathe. We may then hope to see our credit regained, our strength replenished, our reputation increased, the arts prevented from taking wing, the exhausted remnants of the land gain time and energy to recover; exertions keep pace with encouragement, and the song of comfort and content become more heard from the ploughshare and the loom. In a word, thus may the country be renewed -- thus may we boast again of the vigour and name of Old England. But if the corrupt system of diversified monopoly above-mentioned, with all that follows the hideous train of rapacity and fraud be not broken link by link, even the grand desideratum of exhausted and harassed nations, and harassed nature -- peace itself must be inadequate to private happiness and public honour."
Yet, wanton locusts of a foodful isle,
Where upon Freedom, Plenty us'd to smile;
Where Plenty still supplies her utmost store,
Broad, deep, and vast, to all but to the poor.
If ev'ry blessing now beneath the sky,
Be doom'd to sate thy selfish gluttony,
Let thy own pamper'd hand the harvest reap,
And thy own flinty breast the toil-drops steep;
Let thy own bloated limbs, by vice embrac'd,
Or by a miser, or a spendthrift's waste.
Take from thy vassal hinds the useless trade,
The fork, the rake, the ploughshare, and the spade;
Yes, let them starve; -- or, if thy luxury
Demands the fiend-like joy to see them die;
Pronounce their fate, when they have dress'd thy grain,
Each sink a corpse upon the fertile plain.
Pratt's Cottage Pictures.
Now that the reader has had a true sketch of the real cause of the nation's distress, and consequently of the enormous price of provisions, what punishment, in such times, do the butcher and baker deserve, who, not content with their profits, often give short weights.
In Turkey, among a race of what we call Mahometans and barbarians, the police is so very attentive to the people's rights, that such villains are punished in the following manner, while ours generally escape by simply losing their weights, for few care to go to the trouble and expense of prosecuting them.
In the dominions of the Grand Signior, if a butcher sells short weight, or stinking meat, for the first offence his meat is all given to the poor; he is then tied to a post all day in the sun, and a piece of the stinking meat is hung close to his nose. This done, he is sentenced to pay a sum of money to the poor. For a second offence he is bastinadoed, or receives some other kind of whipping, and his fine is then heavy. For the third offence he suffers death.
The baker convicted in Turkey of selling short weight, or bad bread, for the first offence, as with the butcher, his bread is seized, and he is nailed to the post of the door, by an ear, and sometimes by both, for the space of twenty-four hours. For a second offence, his bread is in like manner seized for the use of the poor, and he suffers from two to three hundred bastinadoes on the soles of his feet, or on his back. Then his head is put through a hole in a large board, loaded with lead, and made to walk through the streets, until he is almost exhausted. If he survives this, and commits a third similar offence, he is beheaded.
We have not read of Turkish bakers base enough to, mix alum in their bread, and give short weight into the bargain; as is practised in the face of the law, in London. Such villains, for the very first offence, should be hung up to the nearest lamp-post.
Punishment of the mortar in Turkey.
The celebrated Baron De Tott, an ambassador to the Turkish Emperor, mentions this singularly cruel mode of punishment.
He says, "That the ulemats, (the body of lawyers, of which the mufti is the head) were to be exempted from the confiscation of goods, nor were they to be put to death, but by being bruised in a mortar."
He then adds, "That the Sultan Osman was irritated to that degree by the haughtiness and insolence of the mufti, that he ordered the mortar to be replaced, which, having been long neglected, was thrown down, and almost covered with earth. This order alone produced a most surprising effect, the body of the ulemats, justly terrified, submitted."
From this circumstance, the passage in the Bible which mentions this punishment, naturally recurs to the mind: in Proverbs, xxvii. 22. " Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar among wheat, with a pestel, yet will not his foolishness depart from him."
In this sense, the word FOOL means a transgressor, a violator of the law. Now, as it is well known, that customs which prevail in the oriental nations, have, in all ages remained invariable, the, question is, whether Solomon, in the passage quoted, does not refer to a kind of punishment which was inflicted somewhere in his days, similar to that which is mentioned by the Baron de Tott. To us it strikes conviction, but we shall be glad to find the passage expounded by some of our studious divines.