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the mere labourer, is the only one whose advancement is not evident; there is even cause to fear that his condition is worse now than it was sixty years ago. Certainly the number of the distressed has greatly increased. The report of the commissioners on the occupation of land in Ireland, contains the following remarks on this subject: “Another general remark which our tour “through the country, and an extensive intercourse “with the farming classes enable us to make, is, “that in almost every part of Ireland unequivocal “symptoms of improvement, in spite of many “embarrassing and counteracting circumstances, “continually present themselves to the view ; and “that there exists a very general and increasing “spirit and desire for promotion of such improve“ment, from which the most beneficial results “may fairly be expected. “Indeed, speaking of the country generally, “with some exceptions which are unfortunately “too notorious, we believe that at no former period “did so active a spirit of improvement prevail; nor “could well-directed measures for the attainment “of that object have been proposed with a better “prospect of success than at the present moment. “We regret, however, to be obliged to add, that “in most parts of Ireland there seems to be by no “means a corresponding advance in the condition “and comforts of the labouring classes. A reference “to the evidence of most of the witnesses will show, “that the agricultural labourer of Ireland con“tinues to suffer the greatest privations and hard“ships; that he continues to depend upon casual “and precarious employment for subsistence; “that he is still badly housed, badly fed, badly “clothed, and badly paid for his labour. Our “personal experience and observation, during our “inquiry, have afforded us a melancholy confir“mation of these statements; and we cannot “forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient “endurance, which the labouring classes have “generally exhibited, under sufferings greater, we “believe, than the people of any other country in “Europe have to sustain.” No one will deny the correctness of this statement. It is not overcharged ; it might well have been stated in stronger language. The condition of our peasantry is the opprobrium of the empire. The causes of their degradation and the means of remedy is the great question, on the solution of which depends the well-being of the whole kingdom ; for it may safely be asserted, that our peasantry must be elevated to the position of the English labourer in civilization, in industry, and in physical comforts, or they will bring down the peasantry of England to their own level. Steamboats and railroads have done more to amalgamate the two countries, than political enactments could ever have effected. This facility of intercourse blends together the various elements of society; transfers the labour of Connaught to Liverpool or London in a few hours, and at a small cost ; enables even the professional beggar, who can no longer obtain a potato from the poor cottier of Mayo, now reduced to destitution greater than his own, to remove his business to a richer people, exposing them to the contagion of his physical disease and his moral degradation. Quarantine regulations are useless. The attempt to enforce them has only served to aggravate the difficulty. The power of removal or sending back to Ireland will prove equally inefficient. Those sent back at the parish expense will have no perceptible effect on the whole number ; a small sum will enable them to return again.” Labour will move to that country where a better demand exists, as surely as water finds its level; and no means exist to prevent our peasantry flocking to England, and forming an Irish quarter in all the English towns and cities, as they have already done in Liverpool, Manchester, and London, unless they be enabled to obtain employment at home; unless their condition be so raised, that they may have no inducement to
* This statement may be illustrated by the following extract from the proceedings of the Glasgow Parochial Board, taken from a local paper, and copied into Saunders' News Letter, 3rd Sept., 1847.
“Return of Irish Arrivals by the Steamers. — Mr. Willock, the “interim inspector, made the following return of the number of deck “passengers landed in Glasgow from Ireland during the week ending “10th August, 1847 :—By steamers, 5, 134, by railway, 741; total, “5,875—increase over the previous week, 3,509. Of that number 170
“were quite unable to work from old age. From the 10th to the 17th “August, the arrivals were by steam boat 6,085, by railway 1,410; total “7,495; increase on the previous week 1,620. Of that number 134 were “aged people unfit for labour. The total number landed from Ireland “from June 15th to August 17th, 1847, has been 26,335. “Mr. M'Clure asked if Dr. Thompson could state what proportion of “the patients in the new fever hospital were Irish 2 “Dr. Thompson said that out of 1,150 patients, 750 were Irish, 380 “Scotch, 15 English, and 5 foreigners. “Mr. M'Clure wished to know if any answer had been returned by the “government to the memorial praying them to put a stop to this im“mense immigration? “Mr. Rutherglen said the memorial had not yet been presented, as “they were awaiting the conclusion of an investigation of the conduct “of some of the steam-boat proprietors, who had attempted to evade, “and he believed had evaded, in many instances, the quarantine laws. “The chairman expressed his disapprobation very strongly of the “manner in which the steam-boat proprietors had acted. The chairman “read a letter which had been transmitted to him by the Lord Provost, “from the authorities of Belfast, complaining that Irish paupers were “sent to Belfast from Glasgow whose settlement was in the counties of “Meath, Tipperary, or Dublin, and who ought therefore to have “been sent to other ports. He could not see with what grace “such a complaint came from a town from whence, for every 100 paupers “sent back, 1000 were sent to Glasgow. “Mr. Willock said the paupers were always sent to the port nearest “to the place of settlement.”
leave their native land for another. This is an Irish question, but it is also an Imperial question, a great and pressing difficulty, which is well worthy of the closest attention on the part of the people of England. Even the complete political separation of the two countries would not meet the difficulty. It could not prevent intercourse between countries in such close proximity. Nothing can meet it, unless the peasantry of Ireland be placed in a position, in which they can raise themselves to that degree of comfort, which will induce them to remain at home.*
* Extract from Lord Stanley's speech on the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill, (Times, 11th May, 1847) :
“Do not dream that by your legislation, legislate as you will, you can “prevent that, which I know is acting strongly on the public mind now, “and which is kindling a flamein this country against Ireland, and every“thing Irish; do not hope that you can prevent the influx of a large body “of labourers from among the poorest classes of Ireland into this country. “(Hear.) So long as your rate of wages here is higher than the rate in “Ireland, so long will that influx take place. (Hear.) The more you “keep down the rate of wages in Ireland, the more you will add to this “evil; the more you encourage pauperism, and the more you discourage “the occupiers of land from giving employment to the labourers, for the “purpose of keeping them off the poor rate; the more you reduce, in “short, the amount of labour in Ireland, the more you will have of that “influx of pauperism which is threatening to overwhelm this country.”