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the ten years preceding the census of 1841, averaged 21,404 yearly. When to this number we add the Irish emigrants who sailed from Liverpool and other English ports, it will probably raise the annual average to at least 40,000.* There is no doubt that emigration increased considerably during the five years from 1841 to 1846, and this year the number has been great beyond all former precedent. Of this description of emigration, the compiler of the “Digest of Evidence on the occupation of land in Ireland” remarks, that "it does not relieve the country from those classes that it “ would be desirable to part with ; that the volun“ tary emigrants for the most part consist of fami“lies possessing capital, whilst the paupers remain “at home: the young, the strong, the enterprising “and industrious individuals of families leave “us, whilst the old, the impotent, the idle, and “indolent portion stay with us.”+ This emigration may be very useful to the emigrants themselves, but it can hardly be very advantageous to Ireland. We lose a part of that valuable portion of our working classes, who are energetic and enterprising, and who possess some capital. The large amount
* The commissioners appointed to take the census for Ireland in 1841, in their report, page xxvii. estimate the total colonial and foreign emigration from Ireland between 1830 and 1841, to be 403,463.
† Digest of Evidence, page 567.
of money sent back to their relations in Ireland, by many of these industrious emigrants, is certainly some compensation. This money is frequently made use of, to enable the older and less enterprising of the family to join their friends who have preceded them to America. A young man or woman will often save enough out of his earnings, to pay the passage for a father or mother, a brother or sister ; and so, in time, the whole family becomes united again in a new country where they are enabled to live in comfort, and often in affluence.*
* The following extract of a letter from Jacob Harvey of New York, will be interesting, as showing some of the advantages conferred on the emigrants themselves, as well as the care taken of their welfare, by the state of New York. It is dated May 29th, 1847: “ As an Irishman, “bound by duty as well as by sympathy to give my poor aid to serve my “ countrymen, I can see no way so clear as by encouraging emigration. “ The benefits conferred on the emigrants are positive. How can I “recommend them to stay at home, and live on hope, with this great “ fact constantly before me ? Ireland is so thickly populated, there is “ no danger of your being left destitute of farmers and labourers. You will “ increase fast enough to fill the places of those who leave your shores; “ and you will, as I have already shown, receive large sums from “ these emigrants, to assist your poor who remain behind. My “mission, therefore, is to look after the emigrants; and I shall have “ my hands full this year. Under a recent act of this state, com. “ missioners are appointed, (of whom I am one) to take charge of " all emigrants arriving in New York. We are erecting temporary “ buildings for the sick, our hospitals being full ; and the able-bodied " are sent into the country at once, where there is plenty of employment “ to be found. The high prices of the produce of the soil have given an “ increased spur to agricultural pursuits throughout the whole Union, “ and it will require an immense influx of foreigners to overload the
The emigration of poor persons to England is a greater relief, because, although some of those who go are young persons of energy and industrious habits, they rarely possess any capital. In general, those who remove to England are forced to do so, by the difficulty of obtaining employment in their own country. They would much prefer remaining at home, even with considerably lower wages. It appears from the census of 1841, that the number of Irish persons then resident in England and Wales was 292,935, and 126,321 in Scotland; of these, 132,670 lived in the counties of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, 44,345 in Glasgow, and about 70,000 in the city of London. A small proportion are absentees possessing property ; but the great majority are certainly of the working classes. It is impossible to ascertain how many have removed to England this year, but the number must have been very large. The failure of all their usual means of support, the hopelessness of obtaining employment at home, impelled them to seek another country, whose people they hoped would employ them, and from whose charity they felt sure of assistance. Many of these will maintain themselves by their
“ market. What a blessing it is, that there is such a continent to be “ filled with human beings. Look at the map, and you will quickly “ decide that our present population is as a speck on the horizon."
own industry; they will work for lower remuneration, and will undertake more servile offices, than the English labourer ; their children will be English-born, and they will gradually be absorbed into the mass of the English population. This emigration will certainly continue, until the difference between the relative condition of the working classes of the two islands ceases to exist. The poor and ill-paid labourer will endeavour, to obtain a share of the well-paid employment given to his more fortunate neighbours.
There is another kind of emigration, which takes place to a small extent, when landlords, wishing to consolidate small farms into large ones, yet unwil. ling to turn their tenantry adrift, give them the means of removing to America, with their whole families. This, if judiciously effected, is likely to be useful to all parties and to the country. Many families left this year under these circumstances ; and it is not unlikely that in future years the plan may be carried out more extensively. The act of last session, for the amendment of the Poor Law, enables the guardians of the union to assist in the emigration of such families, by a grant to half the amount given by the landlord, to be charged on the electoral division in which the families about to emigrate resided.
But those who look to emigration as a means of
relieving the labour market of its surplus, must anticipate its being conducted on a very extensive scale; as in this way alone can it effect any sensible diminution of the present pressure. It would require at least a million of persons to be sent away. How is it possible to transport such a number at once ? or to provide them with the means of subsistence, when they have reached the port of debarkation ? At the legal rate of three passengers for every five tons, it would require more than three thousand vessels of five hundred tons each. But suppose this difficulty over, and the whole number landed safely in Canada, how great is the responsibility which it entails on the government, that this multitude of people may be supported, and placed in some way of maintaining themselves by honest industry! It is evidently impracticable to act on so extensive a scale. But suppose them to be removed by degrees, say one-tenth, or 100,000 every year. Will such emigration have any perceptible effect? It has generally been estimated that population increases at the rate of one and one-half per cent. annually. If this estimate be correct, the amount of annual increase in Ireland would be about 120,000, and therefore the population would still go on increasing in spite of this emigration.
The cost of such an emigration would be enor