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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 104, February 25, 1893   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 104.

FEBRUARY 25, 1893.

MIXED NOTIONS.

No. V. AGRICULTURAL DEPRESSION.

( Scene and Persons as usual. )

First Well informed Man. There hasn't been much in this debate on the Addresses.

Second W. I. M. Oh. I don't know. They've promised a pretty big list of measures. How they're going to find time for the lot I can't make out.

First W. I. M. ( contemptuously ). Yes, that's always the way with these Governments. They all talk mighty big at the beginning of the Session, and then, at the end, they've done nothing, absolutely nothing; at least, nothing that's any good to anybody. Parliament's getting to be nothing but a bear garden. The House won't be a fit place for a gentleman to be seen in soon.

Second W. I. M. ( spitefully ). You didn't seem to think it would be such a bad place for one gentleman, about eight months ago. You were after a constituency yourself, weren't you?

First W. I. M. Well, and what if I was? I told you at the time why I thought of standing. I thought I could do some good, but I precious soon found they were a miserable lot, so I made 'em my bow. "Gentlemen," I said, "you can worry it out among yourselves, and, when you've agreed, you can let me know."

Second W. I. M. And they never did let you know, did they? Went and elected another Johnny. Deuced bad taste I call it.

Inquirer ( creating a diversion ). Look here, I say, what's all this talk about Agricultural Depression? What does it mean?

First W. I. M. What does it mean! Why, my dear chap, I should have thought that any schoolboy knew that our agriculture is being simply ruined. If things go on like this, we shan't have a farmer left. They're all on the verge of bankruptcy.

Inquirer ( doggedly ). I daresay you're right; but, anyhow, I know, when I was at Chilborough, the other day, I saw a lot of farmers about, and they looked pretty fat and comfortable. That's why I can't make out what it all means.

First W. I. M. ( resignedly ). Well, I suppose I must explain it all, from the very beginning. The first point is, we've got Free Trade, and the farmers want Protection; and old GLADSTONE and all the rest of them say they're not to have it. Well, that isn't likely to put the farmers in a good temper, is it? Then, of course, the Americans, and the Russians, and the Indians see their chance, and they send ship loads of food into this country, and the taxes have to be paid all the same by our farmers.

Second W. I. M. ( interrupting ). What taxes?

First W. I. M. ( flustered ). I wish you wouldn't break in just as I'm trying to make things clear. Why, the taxes on food, of course.

Second W. I. M. There aren't any taxes on food.

First W. I. M. Oh, indeed! Well, then, how do you explain Free Trade, and rent, and all that?

Second W. I. M. Now you're getting a bit nearer. It's all a question of rent. Free Trade's got absolutely nothing to do with it. What we want in this country is a Sliding scale.

Inquirer. What's a Sliding scale?

Second W. I. M. ( taken between wind and water ). A Sliding scale? Let me see it's very difficult to put these things shortly. A Sliding scale is a well, it's a sort of patent mechanical contrivance for weighing out things, so as to make it fairer than ordinary scales do. ( Plunges recklessly. ) You can make it slide up or down, you know, and fix it at any point you like.

Inquirer. Really! What a rum looking thing it must be. Have you ever seen one?

Second W. I. M. Oh yes. They've got two or three in every big town.

Average Man. When did you last see it?

Second W. I. M. ( suspiciously ). Oh, I haven't seen one for some time. It may perhaps be a little different now.

Average Man. Ah! [ A pause.

Inquirer. I see the Government's going to have an inquiry about Agricultural Distress. How are they going to work it?

First W. I. M. Royal Commission, of course.

Second W. I. M. No, no. It's going to be a Select Committee... Continue reading book >>


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