Including a list of the necessities of the poor needed to survive, this text shows how the labourer’s wages could not possibly have covered these subsistence level requirements. By focusing on how the labourer only had ‘property’ in his labour, this writer shows how contemporary economists simply did not see the difference between what property meant for the rich and for the poor. Also, the article builds on the assumption that a great nation must take care of its poor or the body politic might erupt in violence. The attention paid to how the poor refused to follow ‘beneficial’ leaders illustrates a downright discomfort with the democratic dynamics of political association, while the mystifying of the poor becomes a sign of the alienation between classes. Richard Oastler (1789–1861) was a Tory and commission agent for years before becoming interested in the needs of the labourers. Sir Thomas Bernard (1769–1834) was an Irish MP. Bernard is supposed to have said: ‘It is a melancholy truth—and the concealment of it will prevent the correction of the evil—that the poor of England are not properly fed’. 86