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of Ireland posed by
sistence for himself and his family. Such a system exists in • England, but is not proposed by any person as adapted to the 36 present state of Ireland!* No friend to the Irish poor icon
templates the introduetion into Ireland of the English poor-laws. 6 It is proposed to withhold all recognition of a right to relief, 6 and thus to shut out-unworthy claimants:'t Such were the opinions of Mr Scrope's third authority, Dr Doyle.
Before we finally part from Mr Scrope, we must add some remarks on the few argumentative parts of his Pamphlet, and some on its general tone. 3:36 Ireland, he repeats over and over, now supports her entire
population ; badly enough, but still somehow, and by some• body, they are now supported. My proposal is to put the
burthen on the right shoulders.' So, because the Irish labouring population are now supported, because by severe economy they get a maintenance so poor that he calls it starvation, he infers, that it is practicable to give them an adequate maintenance ;__such a maintenance as the state, if it undertake the business at all, must provide; and to give them that maintenance at the expense of a single portion of the community-the landlords. Because, with the foresight, the privations, the shifts, and the expedients by which an independent labourer earns and applies his pittance getting sixpence a-day and living on it-he infers, that the landlords can, and therefore ought to be compelled, to give them as a matter of right, in return for labour which will not be remunerative, “sufficient wages to support a family. As well might he say, “England now supports 18,000,000 persons. Why should she not have a standing army of 1,500,000 of men ? She supports them as labourers ; why should she not support them as soldiers ?' But this comparison would be too favourable to Mr Scrope. First, because instead of costing more, it costs less to maintain an English soldier than an English labourer. To represent fairly the absurdity of Mr Scrope's proposal, we must suppose, that while an English labourer costs two shillings a-day, a soldier costs four shillings. And, secondly, because the expense would be thrown on the whole income of England, that is to say, on a fund amounting annually to about 1.300,000,000, Mr Scrope's two million and a half of poor are to be maintained by a fund of about L. 10,000,000 a-year.
Another ground on which Mr Serope rests the practicability of his scheme, is the export of food from Ireland. A country,
he says, which exports annually from fourteen to sixteen millions worth of food in corn, butter, pork, swine, sheep and
cattle, can hardly be said to be deficient in food.'* As well might he have said, the hand-loom weavers of Dublin, who annually export many thousand yards of costly tabinets, cannot be said to be in want of clothing. There can be no want of food in the Highlands of Scotland, or they would not export their black cattle. The Poles must have an abundance of wheat, or the warehouses of Dantzic would not be filled with it. It is precisely because they want food, that the Scotch export their cattle, the Poles their wheat, and the Irish their swine and sheep. To export its raw produce may sometimes be the privilege of a rich country, which produces, like America, more than it wants, but is always the necessity of a poor country. Poland does not produce more wheat than her people could consume. She does not produce so much ; but they cannot afford to eat it; they export it, and live on rye. So the occupier of a rood of land near a town may be miserably poor, yet send to the town every year L.10 worth of food. He may grow asparagus while he is stakving. As long as Ireland continues to be agricultural, and to feed on potatoes, and as long as property in land is allowed to exist there, Ireland will export corn, butter, swine, sheep, and cattle. But this exportation shows not her riches, but her poverty. So far from showing her power to support the burthen which Mr Scrope would throw on her, its shows her inability.
I worrientes We said that we had some remarks to make on the general tone of Mr Scrope's Letters.' That tone we cannot avoid calling anarchical. If his advice be rejected, insurrection and revolution are not only predicted, but justified. We are told, that,
. But for the peculiar circumstance of her close geographical connexion with a country so powerful, tranquil, and, on the whole, well governed, as Britain, Ireland would long since have righted herself by a revolution. The peasantry of France were not half so much oppressed by their landlords and the law of the “ Ancien Regime," as those of Ireland are now by her existing regime, which no one can doubt depends on English bayonets alone for its continuance. But this long peace may not last much longer, and that a war would be followed by an insurrection in Ireland, who can doubt? and even now it only requires a word from Conciliation Hall, one hint from the Catholic altars of Ireland, to cause a passive resistance to rent from one end of the island to the other, which would make it as impossible to collect any rents,
as it was to you to collect tithes in 1834, with all the police and troops you had at your disposal. Remember that the lands of France have been divided among four millions of proprietors in fee, since her revolution ;while Ireland has but a few thousand, if so many, landowners--that Belgium, and Switzerland, and Norway belong to small proprietors—that, within our own memory, the peasantry of all the north of Europe, Prussia, and the greater portion of Germany, have been, by a revolution in their territorial law, made owners of the lands they before tilled as serfs. Even at this moment, the peasantry of Gallicia and Poland are in arms against their landlords with similar objects in view, and bave murdered many, and burnt their chateaux. In Ireland, a signal only is wanting to commence something of the sort.
I repeat, it is no time for temporising expedients and half measures.
The Irish people must be fed from the resources of Ireland, and employed in providing those very resources from her fertile, hut neglected soil. The Irish landlords will not do this-cannot do it—at any rate, have not done it, or shown any disposition to do it. Then, the State must step in and compel them to do it, or do it for them at their expense.' *
· Let the landlords of Ireland,'(he adds,) not force the friends of justice and humanity to inquire too closely into their title to unconditional sovereignty, over the fair fields and native population of Ireland. Let them remember that their claim rests in most cases upon confiscations, not very remote, for the benefit of the few. Let them beware of provoking a real confiscation for the benefit of the many. Salus POPULI suprema lex est. No vague declamation about the sacredness of titledeeds and grants will satisfy the public mind. Every day these 66 sacred” rights are invaded by parliamentary legislation, at the instance of speculating companies, pleading only a very remote public interest in their favour.
• But we live in an age when interferences on a much larger scale have been frequent. Do you, does any intelligent Irish landlord, with a knowledge of the recent examples of violent, but ultimately most beneficial revolutions in the tenure of land through the greater part of Europe-with a knowledge of the still unforgotten and traditionary memories current among the Irish peasantry, of the forcible dispossessions, at no very remote historical periods, of former races of proprietors
with a knowledge of what is passing now in Ireland, of-the tone of its most popular periodicals, the temper of its masses, the difficulty with which they are at present restrained by their cautious leaders, and still more active, unwearied, and influential priesthood, from actual insurrection, or a combined resistance to the law, the end of which none can foresee--I ask, can you or any one expect to be able long to maintain the present state of the territorial law ? If no milder means can be obtained from the prudence and sense of justice of the legislature, for
relieving the people of Ireland from the grinding oppression and shocking misery they now endure, you will erelong find many friends of humanity advocate and justify a division of the lands of the country among its inhabitants, as fraught with less evil than the continuance of the present frightful state of society there,
My advice to the landlords of Ireland is, to, “ set their house in order," in preparation for what may happen. Secure, at least, the masses in support of law and order, by an act of bare justice, that ought never to have been denied to them--that should have formed a primary element in your judicial code-by affording them a legal guarantee for existence on the surface of their native land.' *
Mr Scrope's doctrine is just this~ That it is the duty of the landlords of a country, to provide employment and subsistence for all whom they find on the surface of their land. It does not matter whether their residence there be useful or mischievous, whether their number be adequate or excessive, whether they be prudent or improvident, frugal or wasteful, industrious or idle. It does not matter whether their presence have been invited or connived at, or even forbidden, by the person who chooses to call himself owner of the soil. They may have mul. tiplied there while the land was in the hands of a middleman, or have been introduced in defiance of covenants against subletting,
are there; and 'the due maintenance of the population is a primary • condition inherent in the principle of the law under which the • owners of landed property hold their estates.'t It may be impossible to find for them remunerative employment. Then, let them be employed on what is not remunerative, piers, harbours, and public buildings. The expense of maintaining them swallows up the whole rent. Then, let the estate be divided among them. The people are to be fed and employed. If the land
lords have the power and the will to perform this duty, well. • If they will not do it, or cannot do it, or have not done it, the • State must step in and compel them to do it, or do it for them 6 at their expense. If the State refuse or neglect to perform this
office, the people must right themselves by a Revolution.' Doctrines more subversive of property, and therefore more subversive of government--of civilization, and of human morality and happiness, were never proclaimed by Fourrier or by Owen, by Robespierre or by Babeuf. .
We do not accuse Mr Scrope of being consciously an anarchist. We believe him, indeed we know him, to be a man whose
intentions are excellent; and whose views and opinions on subjects unconnected with Poor-Laws are enlightened. But living among the abuses of the English poor-laws has pauperized his mind. He belongs to the class described by the English Commissioners of Inquiry as unfitted, by their familiarity with the vices of the English system, to understand the principles on which a Poor-Law ought to be based. il vino rostiti da
To suppose,' (say the Commissioners,) that the poor are the proper managers of their own concerns; that a man's wages ought to depende on his services, not on his wants; that the earnings of an ordinary labourer are naturally equal to the support of an ordinary family; that the welfare of that family naturally depends on his conduct; that he is bound to exercise any sort of prudence or economy; that any thing is to be hoped from voluntary charity ;—these are views which many of those who have long resided in pauperised districts seem to reject as too absurd for formal refutation."
It may be said, however, that there is a mode of extending the Irish Poor-Law, to which the objections which we have opposed to Mr Scrope's scheme do not apply. Some of those who admit that to give a right to relief would be ruinous, think that a discretionary power to afford out-door relief, out of the rates, might be entrusted to the guardians. It is true that the objections to this plan and to Mr Scrope's are not the same; but though different in kind, they are not less in degree. If we had to choose between the two, we had rather, on the whole, pass an act embodying Mr Scrope's proposal. The mischief of such a law would be apparent the instant it was attempted to be executed. Rates of fifteen or twenty shillings in the pound, must immediately be levied. Improvement would cease, farms would be given up, those who now pay rates would have to receive relief instead of contributing to it, voluntary employment would be at an end, estates would be abandoned, the Boards of Guardians would be besieged, like Mr Jeston at Cholesbury, by the applicants for food-numbered not by hundreds but by thousands, demanding it not as a favour but as a right-and, after a period of misery, and probåbly of riot and outrage, such as even Ireland has never suffered, the law would be repealed by acclamation,
The evils of a discretionary power of out-door relief would be gradual. They would advance in Ireland, as they did in England, by steps, with this difference only, that their progress would be far more rapid. But though comparatively rapid, the progress would be slow enough to render the mischief irremediable. The disease would have time to become organic before it became alarming.
The dificult problem—How public relief may be best afforded,