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the price, deteriorating the quality of the work, and creating uncertainty as respects the time and manner of its completion, which have inflicted very serious injury on many branches of trade. * Combinations of workmen have proved more powerful than in England, from the greater difficulty of enforcing the execution of the laws in Ireland, and also because the want of capital on the part of the master manufacturers has left them more dependent on those they employ. The result is, that there is much more difference between the wages of skilled and unskilled labour in Ireland than in England, as will appear from the rates of wages subjoined :
Carpenters' Wages Bricklayers' Wages
Combinations among workmen are but endeavours to support the exclusive privileges, at one time given by law to the legal members of each particular trade, who had served an ap
* Arthur Young remarked, in 1776, that “artizans and manufacturers “ of all sorts were as well paid by the day as in England ;" but that " the “ quantity of work they gave for it, and in many cases the quality, dif“fered exceedingly," and that “husbandry labour was very low priced, “ but by no means cheap.” The same remark is applicable to the present day.
prenticeship, and were supposed to have been instructed in all the mysteries of the craft. Perhaps the most effectual means used to maintain the wages of any trade, is limiting the number of apprentices, and thus supporting wages by preventing competition. This was carried some time since to such an extent, by the shipwrights of Dublin, and the number of journeymen was so reduced, that they were thus enabled to secure high wages, whenever it became necessary to repair a vessel ; but at the same time, any trade in ship-building which might have existed, was effectually prevented.
It seems very questionable whether the system of apprenticeship be not injurious to all trade in which it exists, and a very serious loss to the productive industry of the country. Young lads are often bound to a business for which they have no inclination or capacity, and five or seven of the most valuable years of their lives are passed without improvement, as regards their future profession. The apprentice, knowing that his master must employ him, and pay him the stipulated wages, or perhaps receiving no wages at all, has no immediate interest in being industrious; and too frequently wastes his time, feeling little desire to serve his master, or to learn his trade, and being only anxious for the termination of his “servitude," that
he may become “his own master.” Why should not the labour of a young lad be fairly remunerated ? and if, by industry and attention, he is able to acquire a full knowledge of his business in less time than others, why should he not get wages in proportion to his skill as a workman ? The consciousness of reaping the reward of industry, the feeling that he works for himself, is an incentive to youthful exertion, which must exercise its influence upon all the future years of life ; while the deadening effect of apprenticeship is not only felt at the time, but the idle habits produced by it frequently extend through the whole course of life. The cotton manufacture is carried on without apprentices, and no where does the workman more quickly learn his business, and in no other trade does he more surely obtain a fair remuneration for the skill and industry he exerts. From nearly the first, the factory system of manufacturing has been free from the restrictions and benumbing effect of apprenticeships ; and its progress has been proportionately rapid. The ingenuity of all employed is taxed to the utmost, and many are the improvements and inventions which have been suggested by the workmen themselves.
That an increase of manufacturing industry in Ireland would be of the greatest value, is evident to all. It would relieve the labour market by the
additional employment; it would lessen the competition for land, by affording other means of supporting existence; it would tend to create a middle class, the want of which is so injuriously felt by the country. What means of encouragement exist ? are there any restrictions to be removed ? or can any thing be done, which may improve the condition of the existing manufactures, or facilitate the introduction of new ones? The restrictions which formerly existed, and which cramped our woollen trade, and fettered industry, have long since been removed. There is nothing now in the laws or institutions of the country, which places our manufacturers in a worse position than those of England. Yet, with the exception of linen, all our native manufactures have decreased, while those of England and Scotland have increased beyond all former precedent in any age or country. The removal of injurious restrictions, if such existed, is all that could be looked for. No one now could be weak enough to ask for bounties or protection. If our manufactures cannot be maintained in a fair and open competition with those of other countries, they are undeserving of support, and should be allowed to fall.
The absence of a sufficient home demand has had an injurious influence in some cases, in which
it is essential to cheapness that the manufacture be conducted on a large scale. The various causes which have depressed the agricultural industry of the country, have thus indirectly affected manufactures also ; and the removal of those legal impediments to improvement, which press so heavily on the agricultural classes, will essentially assist the manufacturers, by increasing the number and the wealth of their customers.
If we exert our industry and intelligence as we ought, we shall readily uphold those manufactures for which the country is best suited; and surely the linen manufacture, which has so long existed in Ireland, is the chief of these.
The corn laws have heretofore tended to divert attention from the culture of flax, by holding out to the farmers an ideal protection, which made them rely on corn as their principal crop. But with a free trade, we may trust that it will receive more attention, and that it will prove highly remunerative to the cultivator. The soil and climate are very favorable to its growth. Its cultivation is well suited to the manners of the people, and to the circumstances by which land is divided into small holdings. It will repay the labour and cost of garden cultivation by the spade, and give employment to all the members of