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on a large scale, with money to be advanced from the Treasury. Such was no doubt the mode intended by the government, in the measure proposed at the commencement of last session of parliament; but which was afterwards dropped. This plan seems free from many objections, which may be urged against any national plan of emigration. It is less expensive. Its effect in relieving the labour-market will be immediately felt. It interferes less with private operations. It cannot injure those who are the objects of the intended benefits. It must increase the productive capability and general resources of the country. Still it seems very questionable, whether this may be the best plan of effecting, either the employment of the people or the cultivation of the land. All attempts to direct the application of labour or capital are dangerous, and quite at variance with those principles of free action as respects trade, which are now generally admitted, and which are of universal application. Remove the existing difficulties which prevent the cultivation of these wastes; facilitate their sale and transfer, whether in smaller or larger portions, and if the speculation will pay, they will be reclaimed by private enterprise : if not, it is better to leave them as they now are.”
* The authority of Sir Robert Peel may be given in confirmation of this view of the subject:—“With respect to the cultivation of
A most important question still exists; whether it may not be more profitable to bring the lands now under culture into a more efficient state for cultivation, instead of attempting to reclaim the wastes; and this question will be decided correctly, if left to the decision of individual interests, uncontrouled by legislative enactment. The parliamentary assistance, offered by means of the several drainage acts lately passed, and by the act of last session for facilitating the improvement of land in Ireland, affords great facilities, which have been largely taken advantage of, and which will probably be made still more generally useful hereafter. The applications for loans under the last named act have been very numerous ; but not having yet come into effective operation, it is too early to speak of their results. Still we may anticipate that much improvement will be effected, giving extensive employment for the present, and increasing the future capabilities of the country.
Some persons suppose that these improvements, when completed, will enable the proprietor to
“bogs and waste lands in Ireland, I cannot help thinking, that with the “encouragement there has been to employ private capital in the culti“vation of land which would repay the outlay, if the noble, lord's bill “for permitting the sale of encumbered estates should be effective, “these enterprises for reclaiming waste lands will be undertaken by pri“vate individuals, if they are likely to be profitable; and if not, then “public money would only be thrown away on them.”—Times, Feb. 3,
cultivate the soil with fewer labourers than he now requires; on the other hand, many of the best authorities in agricultural matters anticipate that the land, when rendered capable by higher culture, for the production of crops which could not now be profitably grown, will be in a condition to repay the expense of much more labour than has hitherto been bestowed upon it. M'Culloch, in his remarks on the Irish poor-law, gives the following opinion on the subject: “Any attempt “to force waste lands suddenly into cultivation “on a large scale, would be attended with enor“mous expense, and would be a complete failure. “What Ireland wants, is not the bringing in of “waste lands, but the application of an improved “system of agricultural management to the lands “already under tillage.” An opinion generally prevails, that the Subdivision of land into small farms has been very injurious to Ireland. The remedy proposed, and often attempted to be acted on, is, to unite several of these small farms into one large one. This mode of proceeding has been called “Consolidation.” If a whole district be cut up into portions varying from one to five acres, the state of agriculture will probably be very defective, and the inhabitants all of one class, and only one remove from pauperism. These holdings are too small, without other resources, to afford comfortable support to a family after paying rent and taxes; and it will in many cases be highly desirable, to use any opportunities that offer, to consolidate some of them into larger farms; provided that in so doing, the tenants be treated with justice and humanity. Consolidations have taken place in many parts of Ireland, during the past ten to fifteen years; and will no doubt be much increased by the present circumstances, which lessen the value of land as a means of mere subsistence, since potatoes can no longer be depended on. Some persons have looked to this consolidation of small farms into large ones, and the conversion of the small farmers into labourers receiving daily wages, as a most important means for the improvement of the country. It may, perhaps, be useful in some places, but surely it may be carried too far; and unless great caution be used, and employment be provided for the small farmers when reduced to labourers, great suffering must be produced, and the most serious consequences may €IlSUle. The prejudice against small farms appears in many respects unfounded. Although the universal breaking up of the land into small holdings may be injurious, yet it would be equally objectionable if the whole country were apportioned into farms, none of which were under one hundred acres. Small and large intermixed are best, and afford opportunity for diversity in the mode of culture, and in the kind of crop raised. Flax has always succeeded best on small farms, and no crop gives more employment for the breadth of ground under it. Unless the tenant of the large farm has a proportionately increased capital, the consolidation must prove injurious. A peasant holding two or three acres, cultivated by his own family, may supply the want of money by great industry; but if the farm be increased to forty or fifty acres, he must employ labourers, keep horses, &c. and unless he possess sufficient capital to provide all that is necessary, the farm is probably worse tilled and less productive than the separate small lots were before. The proportion of small farms in Ulster is considerably more than in Munster, and the people are unquestionably more comfortable, and the land better tilled. Armagh and Down taken together are nearly the size of Tipperary. The two former contain 25,385 farms under five acres, and only 2,174 farms over thirty acres; while the latter has only 13,032 of the small farms, and 2,960 of the larger. The necessity of capital for farming purposes is unfortunately but little understood in Ireland.