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理查德·科布顿 保护农业的结果

2006-07-07 17:14

Richard Cobden


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.










王德华 译

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