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not be employed without capital. Formerly they were their own employers, the store of potatoes on which they subsisted being, in effect, the capital which enabled them to work ; but now, as they must be paid in money, so there must be a money capital, which shall supply a fund to pay their wages ; and the present farmers and landlords, in most parts of the west, do not, in general, possess it. Unless these unfortunate people are to be allowed to die, to be starved off, and so end the difficulty, by reducing the number of labourers to an equality with the demand for their labour, one of three events must take place. Either capital must be supplied from other sources, not now existing in the country, to enable them to be employed; or the people themselves must remove to the better parts of Ireland and to England, there to obtain employment, and eventually to be absorbed into the mass of the population ; or they must fall back on the poor-rates for support. Whether it be possible to work the poor-law, in the remote parts of Ireland, so as to keep the people from starvation, is a question of great and pressing importance. There are districts in which it may well be doubted, whether the whole property be sufficient to support the destitute in idleness for even the present year.
This is the time for improvement-The difficulties are great, but not
insurmountable_Conditions essential to the future prosperity of Ireland_Education_Valuable in its elements-But insufficient without moral and industrial training-Disadvantageous position of workhouse children in this respect-Defective education of the middle and higher classes.
Can nothing then be done ? Are our peasantry to be starved down to the level of our present resources ? and then again to plant potatoes and live by con-acre ? to subsist on the lowest food ? to live in the worst cabins ? and to pay, in rent, the utmost amount that can be drained from them, and yet leave enough to support existence ? Are the same vicious circles of want, ignorance, and crime,—of ill-paid labour, and ill-executed work,—of insufficient capital, want of employment, intense competition for land, outrage, and insecurity (being reciprocally cause and effect) for ever to exist, and prevent improve. ment? Are all our former habits to be resumed, until some other failure of the potato-crop brings with it a recurrence of the present calamity ? Or are we to seize the present opportunity for improvement, and, taught by the dear-bought experience of the past year, to reconstruct society on a sounder basis ? To throw away the present opportunity,—to recur to our former mode of living, -again to place our dependence on a root so liable to injury, after such painful experience of the danger,—would be madness in us, and most culpable neglect in those who are placed in authority over us. This is the time for improvement. The attention of the people of England is forcibly directed towards us. It is evident to all who reflect upon the relative circumstances of the two countries, that our condition must be raised, or the condition of the English people will be lowered to our level.
The difficulties are indeed formidable, but they are far from being insurmountable. It requires judicious legislation, uncontrolled by the interests of any class either in Ireland or England ; a firm determination to enforce the laws, and some assistance in our present state of exhaustion. It is necessary to free the industry and the capital of the country from the trammels which have bound them, and have impeded their useful employment. If our present suffering should lead to that improved legislation, which may not only compel the property of the country to support its poverty, but enable it to do so, by freeing it from the legal restrictions which now hinder its improvement and lessen its value ; if, by increased freedom of action, industry be encouraged, and a wider field opened for the employment of capital ; then, as the darkest hour precedes the morning, so this hour of unexampled distress and suffering will yet be remembered, as that from which the bright day of improvement first began to dawn. But we must pass through much further suffering before we can hope for prosperity. Many will be reduced to poverty. The necessity of economy will be forced upon all classes. They will have less to spend, and must therefore be saving. The gentry must learn to do without many of their accustomed luxuries. The comforts of the middle classes will be abridged, and in some cases they will be forced to assume a lower station. The poor will find it extremely difficult to support themselves at all. In the end, all will find their level, and we may trust that an improved and sounder state of society will be the result.
Great improvements are required. The disproportion between the number of labourers and the demand for labour must be removed. The wages of labour must be raised. The truck system, the system of paying in potatoes, must be abolished, and wages invariably paid in the current coin of the realm, The labourer must be better fed, better clothed,
better housed, and then he will be able to do more and better work, and will be worth his increased wages. Education must be more extensively diffused ; not merely the knowledge of letters, but that religious and moral culture which may better enable us to perform the duties of our stations, and that industrial instruction which will make every man more skilful in his particular branch of business. Especially do our farmers need instruction. Great improvements in farming are necessary, if we are ever to support our peasantry in comfort. The land now under cultivation must be drained, properly manured, and properly tilled ; and much land that is now waste, must, by careful and persevering industry, be brought into cultivation, or otherwise made subservient to the support of man. The cultivator of the ground must be placed in that position, in which he will have full security for the value of his labour and the outlay of his capital ; and the owner of the land will then have the best security against the deterioration of his property. Above all, the supremacy of law must be upheld, not by the coercion of armed force, or the establishment of martial law, but by increasing the number of those who are interested in its maintenance, and by promoting a sound public spirit, which shall aid its execution instead of opposing it. These are among the improved circum