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of ground. It is therefore certain, that whatever momentary relief might thus be obtained, would be purchased at the expense of a much greater mass of future, and not very distant, misery; while it would contribute to perpetuate and extend that very cottier system which has been, and is the chief bane and curse of Ireland! With respect to the nonsense that has been talked about employing the peasantry at public works, it has, we believe, been scouted by Government, and is wholly undeserving of attention. What is wanted is, the adoption of a system that will effectually relieve the immediate pressure of pauperism, without throwing it upon Great Britain, and which will, at the same time, enable such farther measures to be adopted as will ensure the future and lasting prosperity of the country.
The arguments against employing money in casual charity, and against attempting to relieve the peasantry by grants for their establishment in the country, were most admirably stated by the Bishop of Limerick, before the Emigration Committee. And as his Lordship’s intimate acquaintance with the state of the people, and the exigencies of the country, cannot fail to give great weight to his opinions, we have much pleasure in transferring the following extract from his evidence to our pages.
It is to be apprehended, from past experience, that at home much money might be expended with little benefit. It would seem, that there might be either want of judgment in the plan, or want of principle in the expenditure, or both. I have been partly led to that conclusion, from considering the mode of employing the sums sent over in 1822 by the London Relief Committee. The famine was then certainly arrested ; but, with rare exceptions, mischief rather than good was done. That is, viewing the matter broadly, and looking, not to the temporary relief afforded, but to the permanent effect. The people were, in too many instances, taught to rely rather on casual bounty, than on their own continuous exertions. They were employed, it is true ; but rarely on beneficial public works, or in such a way as not to forestal their future earnings. It was very commonly contrived, that they were set to work, at the public expense, on the farms of the minor gentry, and the more substantial yeomanry; and thus the occasions of future industry were anticipated.' He who, in the year 1822, was employed in ditching or draining on this or that farm, lost the benefit of precisely so much employment in the year 1823. This is meant to illustrate the way in which public grants might too probably be expended in Ireland. Where high-minded gentry are resident, it would doubtless be considerably otherwise ; but even such are liable to be circumvented by the knavery of an inferior class of people. • The evil to be met is a redundant population ; it is now in the process of curing itself, in the most painful way, by the ejectment, destitution, and starvation of those poor people, whom I would call surreptitious tenantry. These are left upon the roads, to raise miserable hovels in the ditches. The object should be, in some way, to provide for them; and, so far as practicable, in such a way as would not only check the evil, but prevent its recurrence. Now, money brought into the country would not be likely to do this ; for the landlords neither would, nor can it be reasonably expected that they should, apply the funds for the relief of the ejected tenants. The money would assuredly go to the tenantry actually on their estates. But grant, for a moment, that it were to go among the former class : how could it be employed? Not in re-establishing them in small farms, for this would be to renew and perpetuate the evil ; not in making them manufacturers, for, for this purpose, sufficient funds could not be expected, nor could directing heads be found. The more I reflect, the more I am persuaded that money sent artificially into Ireland, as contradistinguished from the natural order of things, whether administered in the way of gift or loan, would, in a few years, leave the peasantry in a worse state than that in which it found them. If, with her present scanty means, Ireland is peopled beyond her resources, we are to consider that the additional means afforded, insufficient for the creation of individual and national prosperity, would be quite enough to induce an increase of existing improvidence, of early marriages especially, and all their attending mischiefs.
• The evil is pressing, is immediate. It calls, therefore, for an immediate remedy. Take any system of home relief, it must be gradual in its operation ; before it can be brought to bear, the present sufferers will have died off, and others will have supplied their place, but not without a dreadful course of intermediate horrors. Now, Emigration is an instantaneous relief, it is what bleeding would be to an apoplectie patient. The sufferers are at once taken away; and, be it observed, from a country where they are a nuisance and a pest, to a country where they will be a benefit and blessing. Meantime, so far as displaced tenants are taken away, the landlords, aided by existing laws, and especially by the Act now about to be passed, (Sir Henry Parnell's Act), will have it in their power to check the growth of population, somewhat in the same way as, after removing redundant blood, a skilful physician will try to prevent the human frame from generating more than what is requisite for a healthful state.' (p. 142.)
Seeing, therefore, that the money expended on emigration would be well and profitably expended, we have next to inquire how it might be most advantageously raised.
The plan for defraying the expense which the Committee seems most disposed to sanction, proceeds on the hypothesis that Government should advance the necessary funds in the first instance, but that they should be repaid by means of long annuities. It is thought that parishes burdened with paupers, or landlords desirous of relieving their estates of their surplus population, would be induced to pay this annuity for the first seven years; and that, on the expiration of this term, it might be made a sort of rent charge on the ground occupied by the emigrant, who would then be in a condition to pay it. We must say, that we feel but little disposed to think favourably of this plan. In so far as respects emigration from Ireland, where there are no poor-rates, parishes could not bind themselves to defray any portion of the expense; and though we have no doubt that very many landlords would be disposed to contribute largely in furtherance of any plan that might rid their estates of the surplus population by which they are now infested, still we have not the remotest idea that any thing like adequate means could be obtained in that way, for conducting emigration on so large a scale as would be required to render it of real advantage. With respect to that part of the plan which has for its object to make the emigrants ultimately defray the greater portion of the expenses attending their transplantation, we look upon it as altogether visionary and impracticable. In the first place, it is clear it could not be made to apply to that large body of emigrants which we have shown might be most advantageously disposed of, by merely landing them in Canada and the United States, without any further charge being incurred on their account: And, in the second place, we much fear that if any attempt were made to enforce the collection of the annuity from a large body of settlers, it would lead to such discontent as would either occasion its speedy abandonment, or the loss of the colony. Every one knows that both in Canada and the United States, numerous lots of land are every year sold for payment of the public taxes, which are so very trifling as rarely to exceed twopence an acre. And when such is the case, it does seem to us abundantly preposterous to suppose, that about six times that amount of taxes—for the annuity would in effect raise them to that extent-could be collected. If any thing farther were required to show the impracticability of this part of the plan, the evidence of Colonel Cockburn would be sufficient. He has had great experience in the location of emigrants; and he gives it as his distinct opinion, " That at the end of seven years you could not reckon upon receiving back, by way of
rent, any part of the expense you were put to in establishing • the settlers. In more than half the instances you would not • succeed at all; and in many others you would not succeed ' without having recourse to legal process. The only way would be by withholding the deed (the grant of the land); but if that were done, the consequence would be, that the settler
• would cease to take any interest in his location, and would leave it.'-(Report, p. 149.)
The error of the Committee on this point, has proceeded from a laudable desire to recommend any system that promised to lessen the expense of emigration. But though we are most inimical to every species of wasteful and extravagant expenditure, we are no less inimical to that spurious and illjudging spirit of economy, that would prevent the adoption of a highly useful measure, or clog it with impracticable conditions, because it could not be effected without a considerable sacrifice. The many and signal benefits that would be derived from the conveyance of a million of Irish emigrants to America, would be a most ample return for the greatest possible expense that could be incurred in accomplishing it. And sound policy would therefore suggest, that all idea of resorting to the complex and impracticable machinery of annuities, and so forth, should be abandoned ; and that public provision should be made for discharging, at once and forever, the entire expense of the emigration.
As Ireland would certainly derive the greatest advantage from the adoption of the proposed plan of emigration, it is but fair that she should contribute to defray its expense in a larger proportion than Great Britain : And as the removal of the redundant population dispersed over the country, would be espécially advantageous to the landlords, it is on them that the principal part of the expense ought certainly to fall. The Bishop of Limerick suggests that parochial assessments, at some such small rate as sixpence an acre, would, if authorized by law, be perhaps generally adopted. But we are satisfied, and several of the best informed Irish members of the House of Commons hold the same opinion, that no plan of this sort could ever succeed generally, though it might be adopted in some particular cases. To be effectual, the operation of the system must be rendered universal and compulsory. It must be conducted with zeal, vigour, and consistency. It is calculated that there are very nearly 19,500,000 English acres in Ireland; which, supposing them to be assessed at sixpence an acre, would yield an annual revenue of nearly 500,0001. The rent of an estate would, however, be a much fairer criterion for estimating the sum which it ought to pay than its extent. It would indeed be difficult, from the want of sufficiently accurate information with respect to the rental of Ireland, to estimate the per-centage of the tax that would have to be imposed on it, to defray either the whole, or any given portion of the expenses of the emigration. Dr Colquhoun estimated the rent of Ireland at ten millions; but taking it at only eight, an assessment of five per cent. would yield 400,0001. a year; and this sum, added to the produce of the tax, which we shall afterwards show ought to be imposed on cottages both in England and Ireland, would afford ample means for defraying the interest of the loan which it might be necessary to contract, in the first place, on account of the emigration, and for forming a sinking fund for its final and speedy extinction.
It will perhaps be said, that, though it is true that, as a whole, Ireland is vastly overpeopled, there are certain districts and estates that are not in that situation, and that it would be unfair to tax them for the advantage of the others. But this is a radical mistake. It is the duty of Government to provide for the general welfare of the community: And it is easy to see that every part of the country- that the estate of Lord Fitzwilliam as well as that of Lord Courtney-would be incalculably benefited by the adoption of the measure now proposed. Security would be increased according as the pressure of pauperism was diminished; and the value of all sorts of property would be aniversally augmented. And though it is perhaps true that Limerick or Clare would reap a greater immediate benefit from the emigration than Wicklow or Dublin, it would most certainly afford the same essential and lasting advantages to every part of the kingdom.
It has been suggested, in the evidence given before the Emigration Committee, that a Board of Commissioners should be appointed to conduct and superintend its details and execution. This Board might consist of three or five commissioners, who should be authorized to determine all matters with respect to the emigration; to arrange with the landlords whose estates were to be cleared; to decide on the mode of disposing of the emigrants, &c. &c. As we mentioned before, it would be desirable that, as far as possible, every thing should be executed by contract; superintendents being appointed to see that the terms made with the contractors were properly carried into effect. The Board of Commissioners ought to be instructed to make full, regular, and frequent Reports of their proceedings to Parliament, to which it would be most desirable that every sort of publicity should be given ; for, such is the only means by which abuses could be speedily and effectually rectified, and the whole business conducted in the best and cheapest manner.
Supposing, however, that the policy of conducting emigration on a large scale were admitted, still it is most true, that, unless measures were at the same time adopted for checking the excessive increase of population, and preventing the dimi