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subsisting by the labour of their tenants, whom they opi press to extremity to raise their revenues. This indeed is the only instance of their frugality, for in all else they are prodigal even to their own ruin. They have about them a number of idle fellows, who never learned any art by which they might gain their living. These, as soon as their lord dies, or themselves fall sick, are turned out of doors; for lords are readier to feed the idle than to relieve the sick, and the heir is frequently unable to keep together so, large an establishment as did his predecessor.
· Now when the stomachs of those who are thus turned out of doors grow keen, they rob keenly; and what else can they do? When, wandering about, they have worn out their clothes and their health, ghastly and ragged, men of quality will not, and the poor dare not maintain them.. For one bred-in idleness and pleasure, is unfit for the spade and mattock, and will not serve for the wages and diet of the poor.
• Such men should be particularly cherished," he replied, for they are the main strength of the armies for which we have occasion. Their birth inspireth them with a higher sense of honour than is to be found in tradesmen and husbandmen.
• You might as well say,' replied I, that you must cherish thieves on account of wars, for you will never want the one while you have the other; and as robbers sometimes
prove gallant soldiers, so soldiers often prove brave rob. bers.
• But this bad custom, so common among you, of keeping many servants, is not peculiar to this country. France hath yet a more pestiferous crew, for she is full of soldiers, still kept up in time of peace, if such a state can be called peace. And these are kept in pay on the same plea which you urge for those idle retainers about noblemen ; it being a maxim of those pretended statesmen, that it is necessary for the public safety to hold a good body, especially veterans, ever in readiness. They think raw men not to be depended upon, and sometimes seek occasions for war to train them in the art of throat-cutting, or, as Sallust saith, to keep their hands in use, that they may not grow dull by intermission.
. But France hath learned to her cost, how dangerous it is to feed such animals. Rome, Carthage, Syria, and many more, ruined and overthrown by standing armies, should be a lesson to others. And the folly of this maxim of the French appeareth even from this; their trained soldiers often find your raw men their masters, on which I will not enlarge. lest you think I Hatter the English.
· Every day's experience sheweth, that mechanics and husbandmen, if they be not disabled or dispirited by extreme want, are not afraid of contending with those idle fellows. Thus you need not apprehend, that those well.
shapen, strong men (whom alone the nobility love to hire) at present enfeebled by their modes of life, would be less fit for exertion were they properly bred and employed. And it seemeth very unreasonable, that for the prospect of a war, you should maintain so many idle fellows as to disturb you during peace, a time much more worthy of consideration.
But I think not that this necessity for stealing ariseth hence only; there is yet another cause of it more peculiar to England.'
- What is that?' said the cardinal.
• The increase of pasture,' replied I;. by which your sheep, naturally mild and tractable, may now be said to devour men, and unpeople towns and villages. Wherever the sheep of any soil yield a softer and richer wool, there the nobility, gentry, and even those holy men the abbots, not content with their old rents, nor thinking it sufficient that, living in indolence, they do no good to the public, resolve on the contrary to harm it. They stop agriculture; destroy houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and inclose grounds for their sheep. As if parks and forests had swallowed too little of the land, these worthies convert the places best inhabited into solitudes.
· For when an insatiate wretch, the plague of his country, resolves to inclose many thousand acres, landlords as
well as tenants are turned out of possession by tricks or main force; or wearied by ill usage they sell at last. Thus men and women, married and single, old and young, with their poor and numerous families (for farming requireth many hands) are compelled to change their residence and know not whither to go. Their effects, little worth at best, they must sell for almost nothing. This little money is soon spent, and then what is left them but to steal and be hanged (God knoweth how justly) or to beg? If they do this, they are imprisoned as idle vagabonds, when they would gladly work, but can obtain no hire ; for when no tillage remaineth, there is no need for the labour they have been bred to. One shepherd can tend a dock, which will graze acres that would employ many hands, were they in tillage.
· This likewise, in many places, raiseth the price of corn. And the price of wool is so risen, that the poor, who used to make cloth, are no longer able to buy it, which also leaveth many of them idle. For, since the increase of pasture, the Almighty hath punished the avarice of the land occupiers, by a rot among the sheep, which hath destroyed vast numbers of them. To us it might have appeared more just, had it fallen on the occupiers themselves.
· · But should the sheep increase ever so much in number, their price will not fall. They are in so few and such powerful hands, that they will never be sold till the price is raised as high as possible. On the same account other
cattle are so dear. Many villages being destroyed and farming neglected, none make it their business to breed them. The rich breed them not as they do sheep, but buy them lean at low prices, fatten them on their own grounds, and sell them at high rates. I do not believe that all the inconveniencies of this mode are yet observed. For they sell the cattle dear, and if they be consumed faster than the countries where they are bred can supply them, the stock must decrease and great scarcity ensue; and thus your island, which seemed in this particular the happiest place in the world, may suffer much by the cursed avarice of a few.
• Moreover, the increased price of corn maketh all lessen their families as much as they can, and what can the dismissed do but beg or rob? to which latter a great mind is sooner driven than to the former. Luxury likewise breaketh in apace upon you, to promote your poverty and misery. Excessive vanity in apparel prevaileth, and extravagance in diet. And this not only in noble families, but even among tradesmen; among the farmers theinselves, and among all ranks. You have also many infamous houses ; and, exclusively of those which are known to be such, your taverns and ale-houses are no better. To these add cards, dice, &c, in which money quickly disappeareth, and the initiated must in the end betake theinselves to robbery for a supply.
• Banish these evils. Command those who have dis