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chargeable (speaking of them collectively) with partial leaning to one side of a question, or unworthy deference to the higher powers, for every reader of parliamentary debates will find the Opposition (i. e. in their own vocabulary, the patriot) party, commanding a strong posse of Irish auxiliaries. From such sluices Hibernian information should flow in copious channels; from the edifying collision of the sentiments of so many opposing sages for more than twenty years past, sparks of knowledge ought, one would think, to have been drawn, sufficient to elucidate that subject, for which parliamentary inquiry was lately demanded. The most active, and in their own opinion certainly, not the least sapient of those senators, have been peculiarly ardent and vociferous for the proposed inquiry, a circumstance which I cannot deem very creditable to themselves, as it seems to intimate that all their past labour has been lost, all their energies exerted in vain, and all their eloquence--a waste of words. It appears tantamount to saying, "here we are, a group of senators, sent to the Imperial Parliament by the uninfluenced voices of free and independent Irish electors, for our superior virtue and intelligence for their sake we have neglected our own private interests, devoted our time to the good of the empire in general, and of our dear native island in particular-we have let no opportunity pass of displaying our distinguished talents in so noble a cause; and yet at the end of twenty years the House is never the wiser!" This modest admission of deficiency, the usual accompaniment of true merit, may possibly account for the laudable anxiety these senators have shewn to reinforce their parliamentary phalanx with recruits from the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, with what they may not improperly call a miraculous accession of strength. It is not one of the worst of their arguments, though I do not think it derives much weight from the present exhibition of senatorial ability in the self-elected parliament of Dublin. Whether from lack of matter or lack of brains I cannot tell, but that meeting which professed to exhibit a model of political wisdom, to lecture chief governors, and to direct imperial parliaments, has changed its plan, and become a sort of non-descript assem
bly, a kind of ex-clerical convocation. Weary of expending their verbal ammunition upon politics, they have turned it to theology, and undertaken a crusade against heretic unbelievers, under the happy auspices of a princely German quack, a superannuated Irish titular archbishop, four or five friars, two or three medical doctors, a hypochondriacal matron, and an hysterical miss, supported by skirmishers, and Kerry evidences, ad libitum, in the shape of editors, essayists, attestators, &c. The success of this holy campaign appears indubitable. Entrenched within the impregnable walls of a Dublin nunnery, defended by a second Joan of Arc, sanctified by the benediction of infallibility, and flanked by the riflers of the NEW CONVOCATION, whose leader speaks with "most miraculous organ," the good old cause of Popish miracles defies the puny malice of its once potent foes,-wit, learning, truth, honesty, and common sense. Much as I reverence this unlooked-for revival of exuberant Faith, which cannot only remove mountains, but make them, I have some doubts whether it will operate favourably for the advancement of Irish catholics to a British legislature. John Bull is a matter-of-fact sort of fellow, mightily given to apply that faculty called reason to all subjects that come within the range of his discussion, somewhat distrustful of sanctified appearances, afraid of wolves in sheep's clothing, and horribly alarmed by the idea of being priest-ridden, in consequence of what he once suffered from such sticking and troublesome jockeys. When he considers the number and magnitude of evils and misfortunes under which an entire nation really suffers, he will find it impossible to believe that the God of all the Earth, leaving these to the ordinary course of Providence, or regarding them as below his care, should employ the visible arm of Omnipotence in enabling a few knaves or fools to work a couple of miserable and insignificant miracles! to make a sulky miss recover the use of her tongue, and a bed-ridden nun the use of her limbs! Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus. I am afraid he will consider it less as a proof of divine condescension than of divine displeasureof intellect miserably degraded, of shameless bigotry, and of triumphant superstition! I shall be glad to know
how Mr Brougham likes this novel a view of their ordinary modes and specimen of senatorial qualification ex- occupations, discovers nothing here but hibited by his new clients—whether slovenliness and pauperism, repair to it will animate his zeal in the cause of a Sunday chapel, a fair, or any holisuch liberal, pious, and enlightened day place of recreation, and he will petitioners-whether he will feel much hardly believe that he is beholding the satisfaction in contemplating the pow- same people. These are their days of erful legislative assistance, he, the publicexhibition, of dress, and of cheerproud champion of civil and religious ful assemblage ; to the first of which liberty, is, if successful, likely to ob- many perhaps resort for pleasure as tain from the disciples and admirers of much as for devotion, to the second for Prince Hohenlohe, from believers in mirth as much as for business, and to all the trumpery of monkish lies and the third for merriment only. The legends, from the defenders of pious ladies appear in all their finery; those frauds, from the assertors of all the who come from a distance frequently spiritual rights, powers, privileges, and adopting the Caledonian method of immunities of the Hispano-Hibernian keeping clean their shoes and stockchurch, and from the volunteer advo- ings by wearing them-in their pockcates of miracles in a Dublin nunnery! ets. The men are not less ambitious Happy qualifications for the exercise of shining in outward array, though of legislative functions in a British se- after a different manner; their pride nate of the 19th century !!!
of dress consisting, not in the quaThe circumstance which most sur- lity, but quantity of apparel-a mode prises, and is most apt to mislead an of costume, which, as it is not affectEnglish traveller, in the opinion he ed by change of season, subjects the forms of this country, is the vast dif- summer beau to a very oppressive ference between the first classes of in- weight of ornament. Fashion indishabitants and the last, the striking pensably requires the exhibition of all and extraordinary contrast everywhere his new or good clothes, so that it is presented between the man of fortune not uncommon to see a strapping counand the peasant, the frequent conti- tryman in the dog-days sweltering unguity of splendid opulence and mise- der two cloth waistcoats, one of them rable squalidity. Hence the tourist, with sleeves, a body-coat of the same, who travels only for pleasure, and has and over all a large surtout of still means of introduction to the nobility stouter material, under which comand gentry, by whom he is received fortable burthen he has perhaps walkwith polite as well as profuse hospital- ed half a dozen miles, actuated by preity, will give a more favourable opi- cisely the same motive, however difnion of the country than its real state ferent in mode, of the dandy in high fairly warrants; while the philanthro- life, the vanity of appearing a wellpic visitor, who looks with more scru- dressed man! I must, however, extinizing eye into the condition of the cept some of the younger men, who, common people, will certainly repre- designing tò take a share in the dance, sent their wretchedness to be much deem themselves, not unreasonably, greater than it actually is, because he exempt from a weight, which, how houses a false standard of judgment, and nourable soever it may be in stationforms his opinion, not from a know- ary exhibition, is little suited to the ledge of the people he visits, but from graces of the dancer. I am also to exa comparison of them with the people cept the inhabitants of towns and large he has left. Opinions formed from villages, among whom something of transitory and superficial observation modern refinement has crept, and who can never be depended on as just re- are much less rigidly attached to the presentations of real life ; however observance of ancient forms. The parts faithfully they may exhibit things as these people act are not assumed; the they seem, it is hardly possible that exhibition is piquant and voluntary; they should be faithful pictures of Nature is their prompter, and her dicthings as they are. To acquire just tates may be received as the test of and accurate knowledge of a people, it real feeling and actual enjoyment. is necessary to live among them, to That there is much misery where there become acquainted with their peculiar are so many unemployed, and consemanners, and general habits, and to quently so many poor, is too true ; but see them at various times, and in dif- that there are great numbers who posferent situations. Let him, who, from sess what they consider to be the com
forts and conveniencies of life; and that as I would rather call it, obstruction many of those whom a stranger, with- to national prosperity, for which, duout being very fastidious, would num- ring the present general debasement ber among the wretched, do by no of popular mind, it seems altogether means enroll themselves in the cata- hopeless, and for which, under any logue of the unhappy, is a fact no less condition of the people, it will be very certain and undisputable. Most things difficult to find an adequate remedy. in this world are to be estimated by No person acquainted with this councomparison, and though it must be try will be at a loss to know that I althe first wish of every friend to Ire, lude to its great and overgrowing poland to improve both the mental and pulation. Mr Malthus appears to have corporal condition of the people, and been the first who called the public though before this is done, they can- attention to a doctrine so obvious, not attain their due weight in the scale when once pointed out, that the only of nations; yet it is consolatory to know thing which now surprises us is how that their wretchedness is neither so it came to elude prior consideration. great nor so general as it has been re- The reason seems to be, that prejupresented ; that much of it has been dice had always run in favour of poowing to temporary causes; that the pulation, infusing a general belief, work of improvement has begun, and that increase of inhabitants exhibited is now in progress ; and that under the the most indubitable proof of national persevering aid of a paternal govern- strength and prosperity. It was not ment, and, above all, of vigilant ma- until the evil began to be felt that the gistrates, and kind, enlightened, spi- validity of the old opinion came to be ritual pastors, encouraging, benefi- suspected. The ingenious gentleman cent, (and would I could add, gene- to whom we owe this salutary warnrally resident,) landlords, nothing but ing was accordingly treated at first as the schemes of rash, selfish, and insi- a sporter of paradoxes; but the old and dious ambition, will be able to obstruct sure test of truth, time, has satisfactoor retard the growing prospects of Ire- rily confirmed his judginent, and done land. Much as there exists of evil justice to his sagacity. It is indeed spirit still to be reclaimed and sub- difficult, if not impossible, to fix the dued, and extensive as discontent and utmost point of extension to which distress appear to be, there are never- the support of population in a given theless many unequivocal symptoms country may be carried by the vast of general amelioration,-well found- powers of enlightened industry, and ed cause to hope that, of the shock so the astonishing efforts of human skill; deeply and universally felt, though but that there is such a point, seems the tremor in some degree continues, capable of decisive demonstration. the perils are nearly at an end. The That which happens frequently here hand of improvement is distinctly vi- in a small district of five thousand sible. The linen manufacture of the acres, will as unquestionably take place South is rapidly emerging from de- in one of fifty millions, the growing pression; the bustle of trade has begun inhabitants of which must at last beto reanimate our towns; houses of a come too numerous for their means of better description are daily adding or- subsistence. The supplementary supnament to utility; the fisheries are at port afforded by external commerce, length receiving that attention and as in Great Britain, and the wealth encouragement they so eminently de- arising from an extensive sale of serve, and the happy result is already manufactured commodities, will, no discernible; the prices of corn and doubt, protract the period of overprovisions begin to advance, and the growth, so as to render its prospect drooping spirits of the farmer to re- less alarming; but the chance of failvive; rents, on the due regulation of ure in those great commercial resources which the interests of the peasantry must always be contemplated with so mainly depend, and which, though some degree of anxiety and apprenot the sole, have been the principal hension. In a highly civilized councause of contention between high and try, it is true, the danger is of far less low, are in a course of attaining their magnitude, because the restraints of just level, prior to which, the peace of moral feeling and prudent reflection the country will not be established on cannot fail to oppose a strong check a secure and permanent foundation. to the evil, by forbidding young per
There exists, indeed, one evil, or, sons to marry before there appears a reasonable prospect of being able to of its seven millions might be spared, provide for their offspring. It is to the not only without injury, but with want of this prudential check, to the manifest advantage to the remaining utter absence of moral reflection, that six, that is to say, provided the selecwe owe that inundation of pauperism, tion was to be made from the ranks which a rude peasantry, yielding with- of ignorance and pauperism. out scruple to the first impulse of de- I am now going to offer some resire, pour upon the country in lament- marks on what is likely to be generalable and overwhelming abundance. ly uppermost in the mind of an Irish
How deficient is human wisdom in man, as affording subsistence, not only the calculation of future events, the to men, women, and children only, estimation of contingent results, and but also to all those live appendages, the contemplation of prospective ad- pigs, dogs, horses, cattle, and poultry vantages! What were the hopes and the potatoe. If you should happen expectations of the discoverers of Ame- to be disposed to conjectural anticiparica ? and for what purpose did Spain's tion, you will perhaps think that I Christian adventurers, endure almost mean to propose, what national gratiincredible fatigues, and commit the tude ought to have done long since, most atrocious cruelties? For what the erection of a statue to Sir Walter were petty colonies planted, many un- Raleigh, by whom the potatoe was first offending native tribes exterminated, brought to this country, and presentand others reduced to a state of the ed to a nobleman, right worthy of most wretched slavery, under the lash being the dispenser of natural beof the most unrelenting master? For nefits, Richard, the first Earl of Cork. gold for the acquisition of that which, But no, I have no such intention. by a just retribution of Providence, I question whether any important has become the means of debasing, advantage was in the contemplation not exalting, that haughty nation, of of the donor; and moreover, I doubt punishing, not rewarding, the unprin- whether the culture would have been cipled and insatiable avarice of the recommended by either of those great discoverers. How little did it enter men, had they been able to preinto any imagination to conceive that dict the future and remote consethe new world was to become, what, quences of the gift. The great Earl of with respect to Europe at least, seems Cork, (as he is commonly called,) the to be one of the greatest blessings it munificent founder of many towns, as can bestow,--a receptacle for the over- well as of an illustrious race, to whom growing population of the old, a glo- the county of Cork has never ceased rious theatre for the interchange of to owe those obligations which the commercial amity, for the cultivation rare union of virtue and ability so of new interests, tending to the com- happily enables their possessor to befort and improvement of both! In stow, certainly contemplated a differthis, as well as in many other import- ent sort of subsistence than potatoe ant considerations, we seem bound to diet for his numerous tenantry. Could acknowledge the hand of Providence his lordship have foreseen that they peculiarly displayed in the timely dis would become almost the only food of covery of so great a resource for the the people; that they would supplant growing necessities of mankind. W
the use of bread, abolish the arts of have often been accustomed to hear culinary preparation, and by the exemigration lamented as a serious cala- treme facility of providing a mere belmity, by those who did not consider lyful, promote idleness and vagabondthat in all cases of excessive popula- ism, and multiply an ever-growing tion, the departure of some is a relief propagation of paupers, he would, I to the rest ; and that, generally speak- will venture to affirm, have been the ing, too many, instead of too few, very last man to advise or encourage were left behind. It will, no doubt, the culture of potatoes. But let me happen, that the lot will sometimes not be considered as meaning to defall on those whom it would be more preciate so extraordinary and valuable desirable to retain, and in this case a root. I only lament the excessive only can emigration be a subject of use, or rather abuse, of one of the most regret, but even in this case there is useful vegetable gifts which the bounsomething gained by the increase of teous hand of the Almighty Creator room to those who are left. Of this has conferred upon mankind. Used island I will venture to say, that one as they are in the sister island, as an
auxiliary to better food, their worth is expended in that exercise of culinary inestimable; but constituting, as they art, which gives additional nourishdo here, almost the sole food of the ment as well as variety to the homely lower orders, the effect is as I have meal, is far from being lost, and may stated ; and though the blame be not rather be considered as supplying a attributable to the article itself, yet is stimulus to useful exertion. Perhaps, not the consequent wretchedness of indeed, the falling off may be in a great its consumers the less deplorable. measure ascribed to the evil system of They are objectionable in another re- middle - landlordship, and land-jobspect, as being only a supply for the bing, which then began extensively to current year; so that the superabund- prevail, and by raising the rent of land ance of a favourable season will con- toan inordinate degree, left, I am afraid, stitute nothing to the relief of a defi- in too many places, to the laborious occient. Hence the superfluity of sub- cupier, little more than the bare potasistence among a potatoe-fed people toe. Of one thing there can be no in any given year, is but a superfluity doubt, that the farmers then lived, waste, which does not afford the small- much better than they do now. Ino' est security against a famine on the habitants were comparatively few, and ensuing. Every other species of sta- consequently farms, of which the rents ple food can be held over; and, there were very low, comparatively large. fore, for this, as well as other rea- To the extraordinarily rapid increase sons, it should be one of the prime of population, may certainly be ascriobjects of all those, whose ability and bed a large portion of that pauperwishes to promote the interests of the ism, to which other causes were also people go hand in hand, to ameliorate contributory. their style of living, and render them I can never reflect on the prodigisomewhat less dependent upon the ous augmentation, of the lower orfluctuating comforts of the potatoe ders more especially, which has tasystem.
ken place within my own memory, The last forty or fifty years, so fer- without wonder and astonishment. I tile in great events, claim also the cre- shall not venture to calculate the ratio dit, as far as it can be so termed, of ex- of this increase, satisfying myself tending and generalizing the use of the with observing that it far exceeds the potatoe. Previous to this period, that usual standard of human multiplicavoracious article of subsistence, which tion, under the most favourable cirin several places, like Aaron's rod, cumstances, short of actual importahas swallowed all the rest, enjoyed but tion; and that too in the very despite a limited share of popular preference. of wars, rebellions, scarcities, and emiI can myself remember a time when grations. Poverty, in other countries, numerous little country mills were at irreconcilably inimical to matrimonial work, of which only the vestiges now connection, here promotes it, pauperremain, and when oaten bread was ism begetting pauperism as fast as the general food of the people in spring Shylock's usurious ducats begot others. and summer. On days of public work, Another singularity observable here is such as sand-drawing and turf-cutting, that the inhabitants of the country, ap&c., when labourers were fed by their pear to multiply more rapidly than those employer, potatoes were never thought of the towns, (though these too are in a on, the large table being plentifully state of progressive increase,) one cause furnished with fresh milk, and oaten of which is the want of those extensive cakes. It was, I think, the casual intro- manufactories that require the local duction of the species called the apple union of many hands, and thus lightpotatoe, remarkable for retaining its en the burden of rural population. Infirmness and flavour through the entire crease of numbers always accompanies year, which first induced the people, in the rising prosperity of a town, and an evil hour, to discontinue the use of is regarded as one of its unequivocal oaten bread. Laziness probably contri- symptoms; but after a country has buted not a little to the substitution of a once attained a sufficient number of food requiring only simple boiling, for cultivators, to the skilful execution of a better and stronger diet, attended with whose art great numbers are by no more labour of preparation. But the means necessary, augmentation of faabridgement of labour which laziness milies becomes a serious encumbrance procures, only serves to nurse the on the land, and a certain forerunner growth of an evil habit. The time of idleness and pauperism. The only