תמונות בעמוד

Whence this awful state of facts arises, is one of those ques. tions about which men cannot agree. Some attribute it to the red tape of the Poor Law Commissioners' office, others will have it that all the evils spring from the grasping avarice of the ex-officio guardians ; others proclaim that no matter whence the mischiefs have their origin, all are perpetuated and increased, through the stupidity, stolidity and pennywise schemes of the elected guardians. That all those who may be considered accountable for the evils of our Poor Law system should be somewhat unwilling to accept the responsibility of being the authors of these abuses, is not to be wondered at. Who would acknowledge hinself the supporter of a system which results in crowding our streets with prostitutes, the Lock wards of our hospitals with patients, our police offices with rogues, our Convict gaols with prisoners, our colonies with worthless, because idle, and ignorant, and unskilled labour; a system which trains the poor. house-reared child to consider that house as his home, because it destroys energy and self-reliance, by a permitted idleness, producing in time, a torpor of every worthy faculty of mind and body.

But, it is often asked, what can we do with them? To this our answer always is, do not teach them that emigration is the object of life; do not let them fancy that all the people of Ireland, not guardians or poorhouse officials, are born for the sole purpose of going to America—teach them that we must all labor, wherever we may be—in a word, keep them at home and work them.

Mr. Hayes, whose valuable pamphlet we have placed at the head of this paper, is a man evidently able to observe and reason for himself. IIe is, beyond all doubt, a genuine and thorough Irishnan, and being neither a bucolic ex-officio, nor a shipping agent, he has been able to convince himself that emigration is not so good a thing for our labouring population as useful employment at home here in Ireland; and in proving this somewhat unfashionable doctrine he gives to the nationalist and to the capitalist one of the most useful and instructire essays it has been our good fortune to read for many a day.

Mr. Hayes addresses bis pamphlet to the Poor Law Guardians of Ireland, and we shall here endeavour to condense his arguments. He laments the decline of the small farm system which once prevailed in this country, and he writes :

“Nothing, as I apprehend, can be more unreasonable or more


unjust than to expect to find in a country like ours-differing so remarkably from England is essential characteristics--equal results from given system ; and those who advocate the adoption of that peculiar English practice, must do so in complete ignorance of the conditions of the two countries, forgetting that what may be bene. ficial to the one, might prove fatal to the other.

England-a peculiarly manufacturing country with numerous cities and towns, actively engaged in some branch or other of industrial art manufactures, capable of absorbing the labour of the rural immigration-cannot feel immediutely the evil results arising out of the system “which has peopled cities at the expense of villages.” But can this be said of Ireland ? On the contrary, ours being essentially an agricultural country, the rural population, driven into the cities and towns, only become a source of trouble, and eventually a burtben; for as we possess no manufactures of any extent, and have no prospect of acquiring them, while watched by the jealous eye of England; so our civic districts can hardly be expected to afford any expansion of their present limited powers of employing labour.

In truth it may be inserted that the more the consolidation of farms takes place, the worse off the towns become ; for not only will they have to bear a disproportionate share of taxation, but they must also endure a considerable loss of business, since no person can reasonably maintain that the custom of the family of a fariner, occupying 500 acres, will be an equivalent to that of fifty families, each holding ten acre farms.

You cannot be insensible to the fact that the population of Ireland, instead of increasing, is still decreasing, that the deaths and emigration considerably exceed the births, and that the estimated total loss of populatiun from 1841 to 1857 is nearly 3,000,000 ; so that our population in place of being over 9,000,000 in 1851, was actually found to be only 6,552,385! Is it not then our duty to endeavour by some means to check this immense stream of emigration which drains our country of the best of her population ?

I find that in the year 1851, the sum of £21,075 was contributed by seventy-nine Unions of Ireland, for the purpose of sending to the colonies and to the United States of America some 4,386 einigrants ; how much more money since or before that year may have been devoted to the same object, I am not at present in a position to say ; but no doubt a very considerable sum has been sent out of the country in this way, by the several Unions which you represent; and it appears to me that such means of affording relief to the rate-payers does not redound to the permanent advantage of the country. I conceive that, at best, you only resort to such a system as a transient and wretched expedient, and that emigration manifestly does not prevent pauperism."

With the absorption of the small farms came the epoch of wholesale emigration, or as it used to be called, the Irish Exodus. Referring to this subject, Mr. Hayes writes :

“We have now arrived at a point when it becomes a serious duty


to discountenance any extensive system of emigration; for emigratiod both forced and voluntary, has been too extensive of late years not to have been prejudicial to the true interests of the country.

In the six years from 1851 to 1857, the emigration from Irish ports amounted to 938,395 persons, giving an average of 156,399 a-year; and if we assume the very moderate average sum of £6 to each emigrant for passage money and expenses, we shall find that no It ss than £5,630,770 have been abstracted from this country in those six years--a capital more than equivalent to one fourth of the grogs amunt produced by the sales in the Incumbered Estates' Court during the entire eight years of its existence; and, according to the calculations of the Commissioner of Valuation, an amount equal to one half the totul expense of reclaiming and bringing into a state of cultivatiou 3,755,000 acres of the waste land of Ireland, which, in a reclaimed state, and parcelled out into 10 acre allotments, would suffice to sus. tain in comfort 375,500 families, or about 1,877,500 souls. It certainly does appear singularly anomalous that a country so favoured by nature, both in fertility of soil and in the temperature of her climate--that a country possessing such vast resources, and admittedly requiring all the capital and energy of her population to develop them, should be annually casting away such a vast amount of her wealth and industry to enrich other countries to the manifest injury of herself. There is something monstrous and unnatural in such a state of things, even admitting that emigration, under certain circumstances, is a wholesome and natural result, and this no one can deny ; because it is an admitted law of nature, that capital, whether it be monetary, mental, or corporeal, will always find room for itself, and people who emigrate voluntary only obey this law in taking their capital to the best market. Yet no country can be reasonably said to be necessitated to resort to a system of encouraging the forced emigration of the people until the soil has reached its maximum state of cultivation, and found insufficient for the support of its inhabitants : for, undoubtedly, land differs essentially from other elements of production in the economic sense, being limited both in quantity and productiveness, but assuredly this is not the present condition of Ireland, although we are familiar with the fact, that extraordinary efforts have been made of late years to superinduce emigration, and to drive into foreign lands that able and willing labour which is everywhere the real source of wealth, and which is more especially needed for the cultivation and improvement of our own native land ; and we are forced to enquire why it is so-why, amidst the many philanthropic schemes which have been propounded from time to time, by able and patriotic men, no practical effort has ever been devised with the view to encourage the people to locate upon the waste lands of this country, rather than suffer them to seek settlements upon the wild lands of a foreign country, under such fearful disadvantages."

• See in Irish Quarterly Review, No. XIV., a paper by the late John O'Connell, entitled " Emigration, Emigrants, and Emigrant Ships."-Ep.

Now, it is a well-known fact that almost every county in Ireland contains some thousands of acres of land, which lie at present waste and unproductive-useless, as well to the proprietors as to the count. ry. According to a competent authority, Sir Richard J. Griffith, better known as Mr. Griffith, Commissioner of Valuation (who for the last half century has occupied a distinguished position in the Civil Service of Ireland), there are altogether 6,290,000 acres of land in Ireland, out of which 1,425,000 acres, it is estimated, might be advantageously reclaimed, so as to produce both cereal and green crops; and 2,330,000 acres more might be drained for meadow, and pasture for sheep; and doubtless, if owned and occupied hy an industrious class of small farmers, much even of the latter could be made available for cultivation. Let us assume, however, that there are in round numbers 3,500,000 acres of unoccupied waste land, which admit of being rendered productive. Here then we have-in a country where land is the raw material for which competition has actually extended to such a dreadful pitch, that fearful crimes are perpetrated in consequence, and thousands of people, unable to get land, are obliged to seek refuge either in the poorhouse, or on board the emigrant ship -here we have an unoccupied territory, which if reclaimed would be capable of sustaining in comfort a population of more than 1,500,000. It is not then surprising that the Devon Cominissioners, in reference to this part of their inquiry, should remark, “ when the immense importance of bringing into a productive state 6,000,000 acres, now lying waste, is considered, it cannot but be a subject of regret and of surprise that no greater progress in this undertaking has as yet been made." Even so it is; and yet for all that it has been gravely argued that Ireland is over populated, and that nothing can so materially benefit the country as the consolidation of farms and the emigration of the people.

It is a remarkable fact that the question of the reclamation of waste lands had been attentively cousidered in the old parliament of Ireland, at a time-and this is peculiarly notable—when the coustry was comparatively thinly populated, and when it might be supposed the same necessity did not exist as in the present day to render this a matter of so much consequence to the legislature ; yet we find that the Irish Parliament had, for many years, been called upon to entertain this question, and so important was it deemed at that period that several bills were passed on this subject. The first measure of the kind, “ an act to encourage the improvement of barren and waste lands and bogs, and planting of timber, trees, and orchards,” was passed in 1731, and from that time down to 1793 there was a constant succession of bills, introduced by members of the Irish House of Commons, having reference to this matter ; some by eminent states. men, such as Fortescue, Flood, Grattan, and Hobart. Did the limit of this pamphlet adınit, i should here refer more at length to the details of some of those measures ; however, I must content my. self by referring the reader to the Irish statutes themselves. Neither can the fact be altogether disregarded, that under the authority of the British Government, a commission was appointed, so far back as 1809, to report upon the practicability of reclaiming the waste lands of Ireland. Several eminent sceintific men were engaged upon this inquiry, amongst them the present Chairman of the Boaru of Works

and Commissioner of Valuation. The important results of their labours are to be found in the Bog Commissioners' Reports, a most interesting, and in many respects, valuable work for future reference. However, beyond the mere reporting to parliament, it does not appear, as regards the reclamation of waste lands, that ever anything was done from that day to this--the usual termination of all Royal Commissions relating to Ireland.

It is not necessary, however, that I should here enter into any minute details to show the practicability of cultivating these wastes; for happily theoretic speculation has long since given way to successful practical experience, and I shall quote from the evidence contained in the Land Cominission Reports, before mentioned, to show that even as a mere speculation, with the sole view of increasing a landlord's rental, the reclamation of waste lands has, in almost every in. stance, been attended with peculiar success. “ It is in evidence," said the Commissioners, “ that by an expense of somewhat about £7 per acre, land, in the County Sligo, has been reclaimed and rendered worth a rent of £1 10s. an acre;" and in the County Westmeatb, land that, according to the proprietor, Mr. Fetherston H. was formerly fit for nothing but snipe shooting, has been reclaimed and rendered worth £l an acre, at an expense of £6. In Clare and Galway where the reclaiming and cropping cost from £9 5s. to £10 28., the first year's crop realised from £8 10s. to £11 6s. 8d. per acre. In the Queen's County, where Mr. Stewart Trench carried on extensive operations in reclaiming mountain wastes, in some instances at elevations of 1,000 feet above the level of the sea, land, which in its unreclaimed state was not worth 2s. 6d. per acre, reclaimed was worth £2 per acre; the cost of reclaiming and cropping of which did not amount to inore than £8 per acre, while the value of the first year's produce was £12 10s. per acre, thereby fully clearing all expense of reclamation the first year. Again on the estate of Sir Charles Styles in the County Donegal, where small allotments of unreclaimed land were made to tenants on leases of twenty-one years, with free terms, varying from three to seven years, conditional upon reclaiming an acré each year, building farm-house and offices, and making proper fences, all in accordance with certain prescribed regulations—these tenants were found to have cleared all expenses in three years, and to have made a net profit of £1 12s. 9d. per acre, even under circumstances which, in many respects, would appear unfavourable.

I might add numerous instances of successful reclamation of waste lands in Ireland of late years, but it is needless to accumulate cases, for few persons in the present day will doubt the practicability of such undertakings. One thing, however, must be said, that for the greater part, these reclamations have been carried on by capitalists, or by improving tenants aided by encouraging landlords; but many instances there have been throughout the country, where a labourer of the poorest class, with no other capital to coinmence with than his own labour, for the consideration of getting a patch of land rent free, for a term of three years, would effectually reclaim such land, and then, at the expiration of the term, would undertake a similar contract; from whence it must be inferred, that, even under the most discourazing and least remunerative circumstances that can well be

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