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have been added, the charge of supposed disaffection to the government, imbibed during the French Revolution; and more recently, the plausible doctrine has been advanced, that a superabundant population is the root and foundation of those calamities which Ireland now endures. .
But, without any great depth of penetration, a doubt may arise, and it may perhaps be permitted to put the question; when one country has remained under the domination of another and more powerful state for fully six hundred years, and during the whole of that long period has uniformly been in a state of anarchy and misery ; whether this lasting evil may not have had its origin, rather in the errors of the system pursued by the governors, than in any inherent and hereditary defect in the people?
Ireland, divided into many petty states, disunited amongst themselves, was partially subdued by Henry II.; and, after long and sanguinary contests, was annexed to the English monarchy ; yet why, in the lapse of time, did not the two people assimilate with each other? For more than three centuries, all were Catholics: the English had intermarried with, and settled amongst them; but the Irish never were confided in, never had equal laws and equal rights ; they were goaded into resistance ;—that resistance was called rebellion, and was put down by force of arms: confiscations followed, accompanied by further oppressions ; and, these oppressions becoming intolerable, renewed insurrections followed, as a matter of course ; and thus, through these means, the finest parts of Ireland had become possessed by new owners. When a change of religion in one nation, and a tenacious adherence to the ancient faith in the other, opened a new scene of discord, in the lapse of time, the great landed estates of the country again changed possessors; and instead of the former distinctions of the invader and the invaded, Catholic and Protestant became the rallying terms of discord, bloodshed, and confiscation. That kingdom next became the field of battle, on which the contest between James II, and William III. for the British crown was decided; and all the insolence of the conqueror, and the unsubdued animosity of the defeated party, added fuel to the already violent flame which consumed the land.
So far, perhaps, all are agreed; but all who bore part in these struggles, and their sons, and their grandsons, have been swept from the face of the earth; new generations have arisen, and with them, it were but reasonable to have hoped a new order of things would have followed. It is unjust, illiberal, and impolitic, to be for ever recurring to those miserable discords of former centuries, in vindication of all those privations and evils which afflict Ireland at the present day. .
Scotland has been as much torn by civil and religious dissensions : her national church, in some essential points, differs as much from that of England and Ireland, as the Roman Catholic does from either; yet in Scotland, these causes have long ceased to operate as sources of discord.
It is more wise, more dignified, and will sooner bring us to the happy results at which it is the interest of all to arrive, that the recollection of these past animosities should be buried in oblivion, except when recurred to as established facts recorded in history, and held up as a beacon and a warning to avoid the errors into which our forefathers had fallen.
Take Ireland as she is; make full and ample allowance for the indignant and angry passions of a goaded people, and call not their struggles by the name of disloyalty : in the field and on the ocean, they have continually and bravely sustained the fame and the glory of the country, and profusedly shed their best blood in her cause. Protestants and Catholics have emulated each other in this respect.
Are, then, the evils which harass and ruin that fine country, beyond the reach of human aid? Cannot the enlightened statesmen of the present day supply any remedy for these lamentable evils ? Is it, indeed, true, that an abundant population is at last discovered to be the paramount misfortune ; that the salvation of Ireland can alone be effected by her depopulation ?
There is something startling in the very proposition. A numerous people were once thought to be the strength of a nation; and we must have clearer arguments than have yet been deduced from Ireland, before we can be convinced it is in the ordinary and regular course of nature, that the redundant population of that country, is the originating and predominant cause of her present misery.
A few centuries ago, Ireland was thinly peopled; and she was in a state of anarchy and wretchedness. Her inhabitants increased, and her miseries did not diminish. She is now still more populous, and still in misery. The fact is, that, whether thinly peopled or populous, Ireland, taken as a nation, never has been happy, never prosperous, since her first invasion by Henry II.
How, then, does this superabundant population bear out the reasoning of those who ascribe to it the present misery of Ireland ?
They assert that there are hundreds of thousands in a state of actual starvation; that these hundreds of thousands are willing and able to work, but cannot obtain employment.
But are they in a starving state from an actual scarcity of food in the land ? On the contrary; whilst half a million sterling was collected in England, to keep these unhappy people from perishing, all the requisites of life were abundant in Ireland. In the year 1823, provisions alone, to the amount of more than five millions, were, according to parliamentary returns, exported from that kingdom to England. Whilst these people could not procure employment, it is estimated that one fifth part of Ireland, and a considerable part of that fifth capable of being cultivated to advantage, remains in a most neglected state, or waste and utterly unproductive.
With this superabundant produce of the soil, there ought not to be famine ; with large tracts of fertile land lying waste, there ought not to be a want of employment; and when it is evident that the occupation of this numerous people, not only in manufactures and commerce, but in the cultivation of these unproductive lands, would add to the wealth of Ireland by an increased export, and furnish the peasantry with the means to subsist in comfort in their native country, the theory falls to the ground, and the fallacy of the argument becomes manifest.
Much easier would it be to take such measures as would bring these lands into culture, and these people into employ, than by one fell act of arbitrary power, to sweep them from their own shores ; to send them, no one knows where;-to subsist, no one knows how ;-by means not yet discovered, and at a cost not easily sustained.
By those who support this system it has been asserted, that the appalling number of two millions of our fellow-creatures should be exiled for ever; but would they go, if you had the atrocity to attempt compulsion ? and could you compel them, if they refused ? Of all the dangerous and fallacious plans for remedying an evil, this is the most dangerous and fallacious; it is barbarous in theory; incapable of being carried into effect; and in policy more worthy of the days of Alaric and of Attila, than of the nineteenth century.
But look to other ages and other nations ; the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Greece, and Asia Minor, all were great and populous; they are now comparatively powerless, and thinly peopled. Sicily is said once to bave had a population of about eight millions; she now has little more than a fourth part of that number : then, that island was called the granary of Rome ; at present, they do little more than supply themselves with the grain they require. In the reign of the Emperor Charles V. Spain contained nearly double the number of inhabitants which she does at this day. Was the population of these countries their misery? Have they increased in prosperity as they became depopulated ?
It may be said that, in the middle ages, all the northern nations were over peopled, and that, driven by necessity, they poured down those vast hordes which overran the best parts of the civilized world'; but they had neither arts, manufactures, agriculture, commerce, nor civilization, to sustain them at home; hence, their redundant population was the source of their own misery, and the scourge of their neighbors ; and in just as much as Ireland is deficient in these essential points to the well-being of a nation, in so much only is her numerous population a misfortune. We must reject the experience of ages, and not look beyond the era in which we live; we must confound the effect with the cause, before we can draw any other inference. Holland, the Netherlands, and other highly-peopled states, are prosperous, because they have ample employment for their inhabitants ; an extensive foreign conimerce, the proprietors of the soil residing in the country, and in the enjoyment of internal tranquillity.
The arguments adduced, could alone hold good were we to find a country, the whole of which was cultivated, and yet where the produce of the soil would not supply its people with food, and where they could not, from the returns of their manufactures and of their commerce, procure the means of making up the deficiency. But with a people confessedly willing to labor, a superabundance of provisions, and a large proportion of fertile land lying waste, the defect must be in the mismanagement of man, and not in the laws of nature.
Ireland must be taken as she is; the people are there, and they cannot be removed in sufficient numbers to afford any sensible relief; but does any substantial reason exist why she should not be great, prosperous, and happy? why her abundant population might not be successfully employed in cultivating her fertile soil, in carrying on numerous manufactures, and in spreading her commierce round the globe ?
Artificial, not natural causes, continue to plant misery, famine, and bloodshed, in that land, where there ought to be tranquillity, happiness, and abundance. Charge not, then, the present existence of these calamities 10 the Plantagenets, the Tudors, and the Stuarts: the effects arising from the mal-administration of those days ought long since to have ceased : divide not these evils between the Pope, Luther, and Calvin : religious dissensions may go far 10 disorganize and ruin a people ; but, in addition to the lamentable discords subsisting between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic churches, the privileges, the immunities, and the wealth of the one party,--the disqualifications, the exclusions, and the poverty, of the other,-and all the jealousies attendant on the supremacy of the few over the many, we must look nearer home, to the times in which we live, and to the concurrent effects of other great evils, before we can fully comprehend that undeviating and overwhelming state of anarchy and wretchedness, which presses so heavily on the great bulk of the people of ill-fated Ireland,
* Unequal laws, unequally administered ;-an absentee nobility and gentry, draining the produce of industry, and the means of future employment, and expending it in another country;-agents and middle men oppressing and impoverishing the people ;-the lower orders deplorably neglected, uneducated, and unemployed, whilst vast tracts of fertile land remain uncultivated ;-all confidence in the tranquillity and prosperity of the kingdom so completely destroyed, by civil and religious discord, that the great capitalists of England, though scarcely able to employ their superabundant wealth, dare not adventure it in Ireland, on plans which otherwise could not fail to give occupation to thousands of almost every class of the inhabitants, and at the same time make ample returns to themselves. To this melancholy catalogue much might be added : that these evils exist to their fullest extent can any one deny ? and can such a state of things be compatible with prosperity and happiness in any country? It is the bane and the misery of Ireland, even in a time of profound peace; it must be the weakness, and it may be the dismemberment of the Empire, should calamity ever attend us in war.
It is time that all party considerations should cease to operate; that we should abandon the pretext of referring the present miseries of Ireland to the transactions of former times alone; they may have been its originating cause ; but can the past be undone ? Can the acts of our ancestors be retraced? We find a mighty evil desolating a fertile land, and we must not content ourselves with the investigation of its origin only; we must strike at the root and arrest it in its course. · It is a gigantic work, and must be met with fortitude and perseverance; but we cannot arrive at the end, without pursuing the intermediate means. With the many, Catholic emancipation, as it is called, is the grand desideratum : be it so; let this be regarded as an established point; but without going through the details of all the means by which this can be accomplished, will this one great measure, as it were by magic, cure every other evil? Will it give food to those who are perishing from want? Will it give employment to those who are willing to labor, but who cannot find occupation ? Will it restore harmony amongst all the discordant bodies of which the population is composed :
The Protestants look with alarm to the consequences which must result from the admission of the Catholics to the full enjoyment of civil and religious liberty. The Catholics are irritated, and impatient that this great object of their pursuit should any longer be delayed.
Opinions have long been balanced between these two extremes ; and each change of administration has given rise to alternate hopes and fears in the contending parties ; not any systematic plan ap