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理查德·科布顿 保护农业的结果

2006-07-07 17:14

Richard Cobden

THE EFFECTS OF PROTECTION ON AGRICULTURE

March 13,1845

  I hold that the landed proprietors are the parties who are responsible if the laborers have not employment.You have absolute power;there is no doubt about that.You can,if you please,legislate for the laborers,or yourselves.Whatever you may have done besides,your legislation has been ad-verse to the laborer,and you have no right to call upon the farmers to remedy the evils which you have caused.Will not this evil—if evil you call it—press on you more and more every year? What can you do to remedy the mischief?I only appear here now because you have proposed nothing.We all know your system of allotments,and we are all aware of its failure.What other remedy have you?For,mark you,that is worse than a plaything,if you were allowed to carry out your own views.Aye,it is well enough for some of you that there are wiser heads than your own to lead you,or you would be conducting yourselves into precisely the same condition in which they are in Ireland,but with this difference—this increased difficulty—that there they do manage to maintain the rights of property by the aid of the English Exchequer and20,000 bayonets;but divide your own country into small allotments,and where would be the rights of property?What do you propose to do now?That is the question.Nothing has been brought forward this year,which I have heard,having for its object to benefit the great mass of the English population;nothing I have heard suggested which has atall tended to alleviate their condition.

  You admit that the farmer's capital is sinking from under him,and that he is in a worse state than ever.Have you distinctly provided some plan to give confidence to the farmer,to cause an influx of capital to be expended upon his land,and so bring increased employment to the laborer?How is this to be met?I can not believe you are going to make this a political game.You must set up some specific object to benefit the agricultural interest.It is well said that the last election was an agricultural triumph.There are two hundred county members sitting behind the prime minister who prove that it was so.

  What,then,is your plan for this distressing state of things?That is what I want to ask you.Do not,as yon have done before,quarrel with me because I have imperfectly stated my case;I have done my best,and I again ask you what you have to propose?I tell you that this“Protection”,as it has been called,is a failure.It was so when you had the prohibition up to 80s.You know the state of your farming tenantry in 1821.It was a failure when you had a protection price of 60s.,for you know what was the condition of your farm tenantryin 1835.It is a failure now with your last amendment,for you have admitted and proclaimed it tous;and what is the condition of your agricultural population at this time?

  I ask,what is your plan?I hope it is not a pretense—a mere political game that has been played throughout the last election,and that you have not all come up here as mere politicians.There are politicians in the House—men who look with an ambition—probably a justifiable one—to the honors of office.There may be men who—with thirty years of continuous service,having been pressed into a groove from which they can neither escape nor retreat—may be holding office,high office,maintained there probably at the expense of their present convictions which do not harmonize very well with their early opinions.I make allowances for them;but the great body of the honorable gentlemen opposite came up to this House,not as politicians,but as the farmers‘ friends:and protectors of the agricultural interests.Well,what do you propose to do?You have heard the prime minister declare that,if he could restore all the protection which you have had,that protection would not benefit agriculturists.Is that your belief?If so,why not proclaim it?And if it is not your conviction,you will have falsified your mission in this House by following the right honorable baronet out into the lobby,and opposing inquiry into the condition of the very men who sent you here.

  With mere politicians I have no right to expect to succeed in this motion.But I have no hesitation in telling you that,if you give me a committee of this House,I will explode the delusion of agricultural protection!I will bring forward such a mass of evidence,and give you such a preponderance of talent and of authority,that when the blue book is published and sent forth to the world,as we can now send it,by our vehicles of information,your system of protection shall not live in public opinion for two years afterward.Politicians do not want that.This cry of protection has been a very convenient handle for politicians.The cry of protection carried the counties at the last election,and politicians gained honors,emoluments,and place by it.But is that old tattered flag of protection,tarnished and torn as it is already,to be kept hoisted still in the counties for the benefit of politicians;or will you come forward honestly and fairly to in-quire into this question?I can not believe that the gentry of England will be made mere drumheads to be sounded upon by a prime minister to give forth unmeaning and empty sounds,and to have no articulate voice of their own.No!You are the gentry of England who represent the counties.You are the aristocracy of England.Your fathers led our fathers ; you may lead us if you will go the right way.But,although you have retained your influence with this country longer than any other aristocracy,it has not been by opposing popular opinion,or by setting yourselves against the spirit of the age.

  In other days, when the battle and the bunting-fields were the tests of manly vigor,your fathers were first and foremost there.The aristocracy of England were not like the noblesse of France,the mere minions of a court; nor were they like the hidalgos of Madrid,who dwindled in-to pigmies.You have been Englishmen.You have not shown a want of courage and firmness when any call has been made upon you.This is a new era.It is the age of improvement; it is the age ofsocial advancement,not the age for war or for feu-dal sports.You live in a mercantile age,when thewhole wealth of the world is poured into your lap.You can not have the advantages of commercial rents and feudal privileges; but you may be what you always have been,if you will identify your-selves with the spirit of the age.The English people look to the gentry and aristocracy of their country as their leaders,I,who am not one of you,have no hesitation in telling you that there is a deep-rooted,an hereditary prejudice,if I may so call it,in your favor in this country.But you never got it,and you will not keep it,by obstructing the spirit of the age.If you are indifferent to enlightened means of finding employment for your own peasantry ;if you are found obstructing that advance which is calculated to knit nations more together in the bonds of peace by means of commer-cial intercourse;if you are found fighting against the discoveries which have almost given breath and life to material nature,and setting up yourselves as obstructive of that which destiny has decreed shall go on,—why,then,you will be the gentry of England no longer,and others will be found to take your place.

理查德·科布顿

保护农业的结果

1845年3月13日

  我认为劳工若失业,地主是要负责的当事人。毋容置疑,你们大权独揽。如果愿意,你们可以为劳工或为自己立法。而不管你们怎样立法,你们所立之法都有悖于劳工的利益,你们无权号召农民消除你们所造成的弊病。这种弊病——如果你们称之为弊病——对你们的压力不会逐年增加吗?你们怎样消除这种祸害呢?我之所以到这里来是因为你们没有提出任何建议。大家都知道你们的分配制度,也都晓得其失败之处。你们还有其他补救的办法吗?因为,你们注意听,如果允许你们实行自己的观点,那比儿戏更糟糕。是的,对你们中的某些人来说,有比你们自己聪明的人来领导你们就足够了,或者你们引导自己进入与他们在爱尔兰所处的完全一样的情况,但是这中间有些区别——这增加了困难——他们在那里是依靠英国财政部和2万名步兵的帮助才保住了财产权;但是把你们自己的国家分割为小块土地,哪里还会有财产权?现在你们提出些什么建议呢?那是值得讨论的问题。我听说,今年没有提出任何旨在使英国广大群众受惠的建议;我也没有听到改善广大群众生活条件的建议。

  你们承认农民的资金正在减少,他的处境比任何时候都糟糕,你们是否已制订出某种明显增强农民信心的计划,使他得到可以用在他的土地上的资金,从而使劳工增加就业?怎样适应这种情况?我不相信你们将使这成为政治把戏。你们务必确立某些使农业受惠的具体目标。人们常说,上次大选是农民的胜利。首相身后坐着200名郡议员就足以证明这一点。

  那末,面对此种令人痛苦的情况你们有何计划呢?这就是我要问你们的问题。你们不要像过去那样因为我的观点表述得不够完善而同我辩论;我已经尽了力,我再次请问,你们提出了什么建议?我可以告诉你们,人们所谓的“保护”失败了。你们把禁价提高到80先令时,“保护”就已失败了。你们知道你们的佃农在1821年的情况。你们把保护价定为60先令时,就是个失败,因为你们了解1835年佃农的情况。你们现在这个最后的修正案是个失败,因为你们已经向我们承认并宣布了这一点。目前你们的农业人口的境况又怎样呢?

  请问,你们有什么计划?我希望这不是个托词——那只是贯穿于上届选举全过程中的政治把戏,你们大家并不仅仅是以政治家的身份来到这里的。议会有政治家,那些带着也许无可非议的野心来担任这项光荣职务的人,也许有人(连续任职30年之后,不得不习惯于老一套,陷入既不能进也不能退的境地)正担任某职或者某高职,为了保持职位也许要牺牲其现在的信仰,而这种信仰与其过去的一些意见是并不十分相符的。我是能体谅他们的;但是,与我这种态度不同的可敬的议员中绝大部分不是以政治家的身份,而是作为农民的朋友和农民利益的保护者进入议会的。那么,你们提议做些什么呢?大家已经听到首相宣布他若能恢复你们过去享有的保护,那么这种保护不可能使农民受惠。你们也持这种观点吗?如果是,那么为何不公开宣布呢?如果那不是你们的信仰,那么你们跟随可敬的准男爵进入投票厅,反对查询有关那些真正派你们来此的人们的情况,就辜负了你们在议会的使命。

  和十足的政客相比,我无权期望在这个动议中成功。但是我可以毫不犹豫地告诉你们,若让我领导议会的一个委员会,我将戳穿关于农业保护的谎言!我将提出大量证据,向你们展示极具天才和权威的说明,这样,在蓝皮书发表,并用我们的信息工具,按我们目前的能力传播到世界各地时,不出两年,公众舆论就不会允许你们的保护制度存在下去。政客们不希望那样。“保护”的呼声曾给了政客们一个现成的可乘之机。上届郡选举时大声疾呼保护,政客因此得到荣耀、酬金和地位。然而那面已被玷污并撕裂的“保护”破旗仍在郡县为着政客的利益而高举不倒吗?或者你会诚实公正地挺身而出查究这个问题吗?我不能相信英国中上阶级甘心充当鼓面听任首相敲打,发出空洞无物的响声,而不发出他们自己清晰的声音。不!你们是代表各郡的英国的中上阶级。你们是英国贵族。你们的父辈领导过我们的父辈;你们若走正道,就可领导我们。但是,你们虽然比其他贵族保留着更长远的影响,却不是通过反对公众舆论,使你们自己与时代精神相对立而做到的。

  以前,战场和猎场是考验男子汉阳刚之气的场所,你们的父辈总是站在前列。英国贵族和只是宫廷宠臣的法国贵族不同;也有别于马德里的贵族,他们已沦为无足轻重的人。你们是英国人。当向你们发出召唤时,你们从未表现出缺乏勇气和坚定性。这是一个新时代,这是改良的时代,社会进步的时代,而不是战争时代或者封建娱乐时代。你们生活在商业时代,整个世界的财富滚滚流入你们的口袋。你们不能同时享有商业性的租金收入和封建特权;但是,你们若具有时代精神,你就还会与过去一样。英国人把本国的中上阶级和贵族视为领袖。我,不是你们中的一员,却毫不犹豫地告诉你们,我有一种根深蒂固的、祖传的偏见来支持你们——如果可以这样说的话。但是如果你们妨碍时代精神,你们就得不到这种支持,也不会保有这种支持。如果你们对于为农民寻找工作的先进手段不感兴趣;如果你们被认为在阻挠以通商手段使各国更紧密地共处于和平之中的进步;如果你们被认为在反对那些几乎赋予物质性以生命活力的新发现,并使自己妨碍天意所决定要做的事;——那么,你们将不再是英国的中上阶级,就会被其他人所取代。

王德华 译

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