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appears a fearful number of unemployed labourers—a multitude of persons, who were formerly supported by potatoes, the growth of their own gardens, but who this year have no such means of subsistence. How are these people to be supported during the coming winter P are any means to be taken for this purpose ? or are they to be left to die, in the vain expectation that the present arrangements will secure them either emloyment, or gratuitous support in the several localities in which they now live 2 or are they to wander with their families through the better parts of Ireland, begging their way and looking for work? Or are they to transfer their hopes and their miseries to England, as to a land of richer promise and greater ability to assist them; obtaining only casual employment, until, at last, forced by want to seek parochial relief, they are bandied from one parish to another, finally sent back to Ireland, and perhaps landed many miles from their native home, to experience even greater distress 2 But suppose these unhappy people are in some way enabled to exist through the coming winter, —suppose them housed in the workhouses, or receiving out-door relief; how are they to obtain the means of subsistence afterwards? Last summer required the distribution of rations to three millions of persons. Will none be requin -d during the next 2 The expenditure of £1,500,000 in wages, under the act of last session, should it be taken advantage of to its full extent, will have an important temporary effect; but it will by no means put an end to the disproportion between the number of labourers and the demand for labour 2 How is this to be effected 2 Is it by diminishing the number of labourers, or by increasing the means of employing them 2 If nothing effectual be done to increase the demand for labour, the solution of the difficulty is only deferred. The great evil still remains, that there is a large proportion of the population, who even in the best of times scarcely contributed any thing to the resources of the state by their labour, by the payment of rates, or the consumption of exciseable articles.” They hired a plot of ground by the year, or for a single crop, and lived on its produce, spending a large part of every year in idleness. They received no money wages except for a few days in spring and harvest ; they had nothing to sell except their pig and fowl, and made but little use of money except to pay their rent. They cannot ployed 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.
* The number has been estimated at 2,000,000 by a competent authority, and probably the actual number was even larger before the recent calamity; but death, emigration, and the deficiency of births has fearfully thinned this class.
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 2 Are our peasantry to be starved down to the level of our present resources 2 and then again to plant potatoes and live by con-acre 2 to subsist on the lowest food 2 to live in the worst cabins 2 and to pay, in rent, the utmost amount that can be drained from them, and yet leave enough to support existence 2 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 P 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 2 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