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Nations in many respects resem
Where will he find such an aristocracy ble private individuals, and in none as that which the great landed promore than this,—that those which ap- prietors of Great Britain present to his parently have most cause to be con- view? Where will he look for such a tent, often exhibit the strongest symp- profusion of magnificent seats, or such toms of uneasiness and dissatisfaction. a number of munificent proprietors ? The poor man who can earn enough Where will he behold such a descripfor his decent support, jogs on quietly tion of tenantry as that which flourishthrough the vale of humble life, while es under the auspices of that noble they who seem to want nothing are and high-minded aristocracy? Where frequently the prey of restlessness and else is he to seek for a land which will discontent. I question whether the shew him among her Esquires men world, at any period, has been able who almost look down upon Royal to furnish such a living picture as honours, and whose pride is, not to acGreat Britain now exhibits, of public cept titles, but to decline them? Where and private prosperity, of high culti- will he find such a House of Peers, vation, of extended commerce, of opu- such an assembly of Representatives, lent inhabitants, of national renown, as are presented to his view in both of general knowledge, and of indivi- Houses of the Imperial Parliament of dual happiness. Sure I am, that it Great Britain ? Where can he hope to would be vain to think of finding a behold such wealth, spirit, intelliparallel to it in any era of her own his- gence, generosity, and enterprize, as tory, previous, at least, to the last forty are centred in that vast and respector fifty years. How much more in- able body composing the mercantile dulgent soever nature may have been interest of Great Britain ? -Volumes, to other countries, in excellence of cli- not pages, are required, for giving even mate, fertility of soil, or felicity of si- a very brief detail of the several items tuation,—or whatever advantages their which make up the sum-total of Briinhabitants may have derived from the tish industry, British power, and Briculture of some peculiar arts,—where tish prosperity. Years, not days, would is the candid and intelligent stranger, suffice to make a person acquainted who, returning to his own country af- with the immense extent and variety ter an intimate acquaintance with Eng- of her arts, her manufactures, her liteland, will hesitate to acknowledge the rary attainments, her cultivated land? decided superiority of the Empress of and her commercial cities; and did the Ocean, the free and happy Island ? cumstances permit, I do not know h VOL. XV.
a man of curious and intelligent mind directly; but as a subject of the imcould for years be so delightfully and perial realm, I profess my unwillingso instructively employed. All the rest ness to change a single foundationof the world can not, the whole of the stone of that political structure, which old world never could, boast such a long time, profound wisdom, and forthrone, such a senate, such a country, tunate circumstances, have concurred and such a people!
to construct—which surrounding naAre we now to be told, that this tions find it much more easy to adgreat country is ill governed, that her mire than to imitate-which, once shaconstitution is imperfect, and that her ken, may never recover its stabilitylegislature wants reform? I laugh at and which owes its great value, not to an assertion, of which every man, who symmetrical order, or regularity of enjoys only the sense of sight, must form, but to the strength of its butdiscern the palpable absurdity. Could tresses, the durability of its roof, and such an empire have grown, can such the substantial comforts of its internal a state of things be found, under an ill arrangement, and its multiplied acgovernment ? Impossible. Is it to be commodations. believed, that there exists any want of If Great Britain be as I have deimperial protection, of wise adminis- scribed it, whence, it may be asked, tration, of legislative vigilance, in a can so much discontent arise--discona country, the moral and intellectual tent, not merely confined to hair. character of whose people has attained brained experimentalists, Jacobin rethe highest summit of honourable dis- formers, desperate adventurers, or idle tinction, whose trade embraces the profligates, but pervading occasionally world, and the opulence and industry superior classes, and bearing in its train of whose private citizens enable them recruits from every profession, clerical, to accomplish the most arduous under- military, legal, literary, and even senatakings, and to rival princes in gene- torial ? The answer is obviousmit rosity and magnificence ? Impossible. arises from the nature and constitution The defects, for defects will be found of man, being a proof as well as a conin everything connected with huma- sequence of free government; a natunity, are not in the system, but in ral excess of that liberty which perthose who would abuse it. I can rea- mits sentire quæ velis, fari quæ sentias. dily understand that the country may In such a government, where the combe governed worse-I cannot easily munity is large, there will be numeconceive, with fair allowance for mor- rous candidates for place and power, tal frailty, that it could be governed and all cannot be successful. Disapbetter. Will a wise man risk the sta- pointment will be experienced more bility of a form of government, capa- or less in other pursuits; and as no ble of conferring such blessings, on the one is willing to acknowledge deficienvain hope of renovating its strength, cy in himself
, he is naturally disposed or enlarging its powers, by a change to account for failure on some other of system? Will he give up the con- ground than his own ill fortune or ill scious certainty of good enjoyed, for conduct. Misgovernment immediately the fallacious promise of theoretic per- presents itself as at once a pretext and fection ? Would he do so, if the cha- consolation for miscarriage--a converacters of the theorists were recom- nient butt for the arrows of malignity mended by the highest excellence of -an abundant receptacle for all the moral principle, exemplary conduct, overflowings of angry and irritated and benevolent intention ? and if not, minds. As discontent is naturally quewill he listen for a moment to coun- rulous, as it requires little talent to sellors of such character as the reform- find fault, still less to vituperate, and ists of the present day generally pos- least of all to falsify, he must be desess ? No, unquestionably he will not; ficient in judgment, indeed, who forms because, if he did, he would forfeit his his estimate of the country's real state pretensions, not to wisdom only, but from factious clamour, from party jourto common prudence, common honesty, nals, tumultuary meetings, reforming and common sense. I speak as a mere demagogues, and opposition orators. individual partaker of the general wel- To obtain a true knowledge of the acfare. I have no personal connection tual situation and nature of things, he with the exercisers of power, or their must take a cool, patient, and compreagents or instruments, directly or ina hensive view of the whole ; to form a
correct judgment of the British Go- cover. Their numerous petitions to vernment, he must examine all its cu- Parliament, complaining of agriculturious and complicated machinery, the tural distress, spoke a language as meharmonious operation of whose parts lancholy and despairing as the famous will surprise him much more than the petition of their ancestors to the senate occasional irregularity of a few move- of Italy, when the Roman protection ments. The great cause of astonish- was obliged to be withdrawn. In their ment to a sound and sober mind will despondency they predicted a general be, that any who live under its protec- bankruptcy of both landlord and tetion, who have been born within its nant, a death-blow to agriculture, and precincts, and whose attachment ought little less than national ruin. They to have been strengthened by the im- had their Rockites too, some riots, and pressions of early prepossession, should some burnings, though soon checked be foolish or wicked enough to har- by the vigilance of the magistracy, and bour sentiments derogatory to its fame, the general respect of a long civilized or subversive of its establishment. I people to the salutary authority of the am not one of those who feel serious laws. Ireland, from various circumalarm from the insidious designs of the stances, has hitherto derived her prinliterary underminer, or the more open cipal wealth from the productions of attacks of the factious. The sterling her land, from what is called the proweight of solid learning and sound ta- vision trade—from cattle, and from lent is on the side of the constitution, corn; for both of which, and more and there is a steadiness of character especially the former, the nature of in the British people which will, I the climate, and the fertility of the trust, for ever defeat the secret machi- soil, are well adapted. It cannot surenations of the pretended friend, as well ly be matter of surprise, that what was as the undisguised enmity of the au- disastrously felt by a people possessing dacious aggressor. Real danger, as it so many resources, so abundant in appears to me, is only to be apprehend- wealth, and so superior in civilization, ed from a want of union and firmness should be productive of deep and bitin Government-from a ministry who ter calamity in a country deriving its would be weak enough to concede too staple, almost its only support, from much to that restless spirit of change, that very branch of industry which with which so many, under the pre- the sudden change of European politence of reform, are either deluded tics had so deeply and unexpectedly themselves, or endeavouring to delude paralysed. War, which impoverishes others.
other countries, has long been an enBut, alas ! poor Ireland! though richer of Ireland, by employing her marked, both by size and situation, as spare hands, and consuming her superthe associate, not the slave, of the sis- abundant provisions. But the harvest ter Island, though now at length in- was generally short, and the gainers, disputably connected with her for- regarding it only as a temporary retunes, governed by the same crown, source, were probably better husbands subject to the same laws, represented of the profits. The unusual duration in the same Parliament, and scarce of the last war seems to have given it less favoured by the fertilizing hand the character of interminable. The of benignant nature, the just reporter longer it lasted, the less it seemed likeof your internal state has a different ly to end. What was got with ease and far less gratifying representation was spent with profusion; none seem to make.
to have speculated on a decrease of inIn endeavouring to give a clear,
Rents, which had been paid though succinct, account of the real for fifteen or twenty years, appeared state of Ireland, it is not dealing fairly beyond the danger of reduction ; esto make her sit for her picture in the tates were loaded with charges prohour of distress, to take our view of portionate to their supposed eternity her features while under the influence of value ; prices, which for many years of a depression, in which all the nations had been advancing, might, it was of Europe have participated, and from thought, rise, but could never recede; the shock of which even the superior and when the shock did come, there wealth and resources of English agri- was general alarm, general dismay, culturists are but now beginning to re- general discontent, and general dis
tress, because there was no preparation value into worthless paper. They sus for an event, which, however distant, tained alşo very serious losses through must have arrived at last.
the means of corn-buyers, of whom The substitution of paper for cash many started up in different parts of -a measure which nothing but the the country, outbidding each other, direst necessity could justify, and to and receiving grain into their stores which, under Providence, Great Bri- on the promise of more high prices, tain has been indebted for the success- many of which were never paid. ful support, and the glorious termi- These, however, were not the worst nation of her long protracted struggle evils which persons deriving income with the Gallic Usurper-unfortunate- immediately from land, and particuly contributed to increase the evil. larly the laborious cultivator, had to The facility of obtaining money when encounter. A British reader can the stamp of a banker could create a scarce conceive, and will be unwilling circulating medium, gave a spur to
to believe, the extravagant extent to speculation, of which Irish ardour which land-letting and land-jobbing made a most improvident use.
That . were here carried. I know that in sean after reckoning must come, seemed veral parts of Great Britain there was never to be contemplated either by the much competition for farms, and that lender or the borrower; and such was rents rose to an unusual and inordinate the peculiar state of things at one time, height. But Irish land-jobbing was that the only person in danger of real quite a different thing, and involved suffering was the actual capitalist. a much greater variety of persons in The bankers, of whom an inordinate difficulty, in distress, and in ruin. number started up, who issued their When, in consequence of an unrehundreds of thousands, less on the stricted circulation of paper, and a credit of their houses, than on the cre- ready demand for every species of produlity of the public, and who lived vision, the price of land's produce rose like princes while that credulity lasted, beyond all former example, to make whatever injury they might do to fortunes by farms was the favourite others, could do little to themselves object of every country speculator. As by becoming bankrupts. Speculators, the duration of those prices was never who, with the aid of a bold front, and doubted, all that seemed necessary to a new coat, got deep into their books success was to become tenant to as and precipitated their failures, sported much ground as possible, and to sefor a while in adventurous notoriety, cure the continuance of such valuable and by their fall injured only the interests by length of lease. The rent lenders.
which a man might thus bind himself The money expended by these ad- to pay, was a minor consideration, as venturers in cotton and paper-works, he always looked to an increasing value, corn-mills, and various other schemes, particularly where the farm was susthough, while it lasted, much advan- ceptible of any improvement. How, tage seemed to accrue in consequence as he represented the matter to himof the employment given to trades- self, could it be otherwise, when twenmen and labourers, &c. yet was it in ty stone of wheat brought three pounds, reality injurious, by advancing wages, and frequently more, and when all the and increasing a circulation of paper other narketable articles of a farm already too large, as well as from the were in proportion? The number of suddenness and frequency of their these competing land-jobbers, among failures. Many of them had even ad- whom were gentlemen of real prodress enough to repeat their bank- perty as well as greedy adventurers, ruptcies by obtaining fresh credit, and necessarily raised the market upon persuading their dupes that the way themselves, and gave an additional to recover an old debt was by making stimulus to enterprize, originating from a new one. The failure of banks was avarice, fostered by ignorance, and more extensively injurious, as it af- founded on delusion. Every noblefected almost the whole body of the man and gentleman who had lands to peasantry, within the range of their let, was besieged by suitors and apissues, whose chief means of meeting plicants vying with each other for the the several demands upon them were happy privilege of becoming tenant those very notes which the shutting at any rent they might be pleased to of a door had converted from moneyed require, tempting the needy landlord
with fines, and soliciting the favour of annual exhibition of matrimonial meragents by bribes, which, it may be riment, would have pronounced them, supposed, were not always rejected and not without reason, the happiest There were no doubt a few, whom people upon earth. They did really cooler judgment exempted from the enjoy all the happiness which minds danger of such excesses; but, generally not very delicate, nor very enlightenspeaking, both land-owner and land- ed, were capable of tasting ; absorbed holder submitted to a deception, on in the festivities of the passing hour, which one cannot now reflect without pleased with the present, and heedless the utmost degree of wonder and as- of the future. The sudden fall from tonishment.
Thousands of engage- a degree of prosperity accommodated ments were then made, which were to their habits, and equal to their impossible to be kept, and many sums wishes, from actual affluence to actual of money sunk in speculations as fool, poverty, was at once woful and asish and deceptious as the famous South tounding. To see the produce of that Sea Bubble, a project bearing great industry which so lately sufficed to ansimilitude, in absurdity at least, to the swer all demands, and left a surplus, late Irish rage for land-letting and not only for subsistence, but for enjoylarid-jobbing. Numbers of persons, ment, either unsaleable, or to be dissubstantially wealthy and respectable, posed of for less than a third of its who speculated in this manner, have pristine value, appeared to them as been reduced to a state little short of strange and unaccountable as it was absolute indigence. Many have been cruel and disastrous. Had the demands obliged to pay douceurs for being per- of their several creditors diminished mitted to relinquish their bargains, at in due proportion, and had the reducthe loss of all the money expended in tion of rents kept pace with the rebribes, fines, or improvements; seve- duction of prices, though they might ral were under the necessity of flying have been puzzled by the cause, they the country, in order to get rid of rash would have been little injured by the and ruinous obligations; and some, effect; their nominal rather than their who strutted for a while in fine clothes, real property would have suffered. and sported fashionable gigs, on the But this was by no means the case. strength of profit rents and farm in- The middle-man, or land-jobber, in comes, have been reduced to the hum- order to maintain himself, and make ble mediucrity of a plain coat and a good his engagements to the head walking-stick
landlord, was obliged to exact his rent What then, need I say, at the from the occupier; and to do this, frebursting of the bubble, must have quently had recourse, not merely to been the condition of the Irish pea- the produce of the land, but to the santry, of that class from whose la- sale of his tenant's stock and movebours all those emoluments, presentables, a measure which wholly ruined and perspective, were to accrue, and the one, and eventually injured the on whon was imposed a burden of other. To anticipate this result
, the rent to the utmost verge of what their tenant, conscious of his inability to ability was able to undergo ? Such, make up the rent which he knew however, was the idea universally en- would be required, removed all his tertained of agricultural capability, effects a little before pay-day, to some that they were as ready to give high distant part of the country, and as the rents as the land-letter was to require people mutually assisted each other in them, and for a time, and a long time these schemes, they were generally too, they not only paid high rents, but successful. Thus commenced a sort prospered on the payment. They of straggling warfare between landwore good clothes, rode good horses, lords and tenants, the former endeadrank liberally, quarrelled lustily, and vouring to get as much, and the latter married superabundantly. For the fort- to give as little, as they possibly could; night preceding Lent-for marriages the consequences of which were, the are seldom contracted at any other dissolution of that friendship and contime—the priest's hands were full of fidence which should subsist between business, and joyous wedding parties them, much loss and injury to both, crowded the roads leading to his house and a general spirit of resistance on from every part of the parish. A visi- the part of the people, to the payment tor, forming his judgment from this of accustomed demands, even where