The Slave Trade
Henry Charles Carey
How Slavery Grows In Ireland And Scotland.
The government which followed the completion of the Revolution of 1688, pledged itself to discountenance the woollen manufacture of Ireland, with a view to compel the export of raw wool to England, whence its exportation to foreign countries was prohibited; the effect of which was, of course, to enable the English manufacturer to purchase it at his own price. From that period forward we find numerous regulations as to the ports from which alone woollen yarn or cloth might go to England, and the ports of the latter through which it might come; while no effort was spared to induce the people of Ireland to abandon woollens and take to flax. Laws were passed prohibiting the export of Irish cloth and glass to the colonies. By other laws Irish ships were deprived of the benefit of the navigation laws. The fisheries were closed against them. No sugar could be imported from any place but Great Britain, and no drawback was allowed on its exportation to Ireland; and thus was the latter compelled to pay a tax for the support of the British government, while maintaining its own. All other colonial produce was required to be carried first to England, after which it might be shipped to Ireland; and as Irish shipping was excluded from the advantages of the navigation laws, it followed that the voyage of importation was to be made in British ships, manned by British seamen, and owned by British merchants, who were thus authorized to tax the people of Ireland for doing their work, while a large portion of the Irish people were themselves unemployed.
While thus prohibiting them from applying themselves to manufactures or trade, every inducement was held out to them to confine themselves to the production of commodities required by the English manufacturers, and wool, hemp, and flax were admitted into England free of duty. We see thus that the system of that day in reference to Ireland looked to limiting the people of that country, as it limited the slaves of Jamaica, and now limits the people of Hindostan, to agriculture alone, and thus depriving the men, the women, and the children of all employment except the labour of the field, and of all opportunity for intellectual improvement, such as elsewhere results from that association which necessarily accompanies improvement in the mechanic arts.
During our war of the Revolution, freedom of trade was claimed for Ireland; and as the demand was made at a time when a large portion of her people were under arms as volunteers, the merchants and manufacturers of England, who had so long acted as middlemen for the people of the sister kingdom, found themselves obliged to submit to the removal of some of the restrictions under which the latter had so long remained. Step by step changes were made, until at length, in 1783, Ireland was declared independent, shortly after which duties were imposed on various articles of foreign manufacture, avowedly with the intention of enabling her people to employ some of their surplus labour in converting her own food and wool, and the cotton wool of other countries, into cloth. Thenceforward manufactures and trade made considerable progress, and there was certainly a very considerable tendency toward improvement. Some idea of the condition of the country at that time, and of the vast and lamentable change that has since taken place, may be obtained from the consideration of a few facts connected with the manufacture of books in the closing years of the last century. The copyright laws not extending to Ireland, all books published in England might there be reprinted, and accordingly we find that all the principal English law reports of the day, very many of the earlier ones, and many of the best treatises, as well as the principal novels, travels, and miscellaneous works, were republished in Dublin, as may be seen by an examination of any of our old libraries. The publication of such books implies, of course, a considerable demand for them, and for Ireland herself, as the sale of books in this country was very small indeed, and there was then no other part of the world to which they could go. More books were probably published in Ireland in that day by a single house than are now required for the supply of the whole kingdom.
With 1801, however, there came a change. By the Act of Union the copyright laws of England were extended to Ireland, and at once the large and growing manufacture of books was prostrated. The patent laws were also extended to Ireland; and as England had so long monopolized the manufacturing machinery then in use, it was clear that it was there improvements would be made, and that thenceforth the manufactures of Ireland must retrograde. Manchester had the home market, the foreign market, and, to no small extent, that of Ireland open to her; while the manufacturers of the latter were forced to contend for existence, and under the most disadvantageous circumstances, on their own soil. The one could afford to purchase expensive machinery, and to adopt whatever improvements might be made, while the other could not. The natural consequence was, that Irish manufactures gradually disappeared as the Act of Union came into effect. By virtue of its provisions, the duties established by the Irish Parliament for the purpose of protecting the farmers of Ireland in their efforts to bring the loom and the anvil into close proximity with the plough and the harrow, were gradually to diminish, and free trade was to be fully established; or, in other words, Manchester and Birmingham were to have a monopoly of supplying Ireland with cloth and iron. The duty on English woollens was to continue twenty years. The almost prohibitory duties on English calicoes and muslins were to continue until 1808; after which they were to be gradually diminished, until in 1821 they were to cease. Those on cotton yarn were to cease in 1810. The effect of this in diminishing the demand for Irish labour, is seen in the following comparative view of manufactures at the date of the Union, and at different periods in the ensuing forty years, here given:
Dublin, 1800, Master woollen manufacturers. 91 .... 1840, 12 " Hands employed........ 4918 .... " 602 " Master wool-combers..... 30 .... 1834, 5 " Hands employed.......... 230 .... " 63 " Carpet manufacturers.... 13 .... 1841, 1 " Hands employed......... 720 .... " none Kilkenny, 1800, Blanket manufacturers.... 56 .... 1822, 42 " Hands employed............ 3000 .... 1822, 925 Dublin, 1800, Silk-loom wearers at work... 2500 .... 1840, 250 Balbriggan, 1799, Calico looms at work... 2500 .... 1841, 226 Wicklow, 1800, Hand-looms at work....... 1000 .... 1841, none Cork, 1800, Braid weavers............. 1000 .... 1834, 40 " Worsted weavers......... 2000 .... " 90 " Hoosiers.................. 300 .... " 28 " Wool-combers.............. 700 .... " 110 " Cotton weavers ........... 2000 .... " 220 " Linen cheek weavers ...... 600 .... " none " Cotton spinners, bleachers, calico printers............. thousands... " none
For nearly half a century Ireland has had perfectly free trade with the richest country in the world; and what, says the author of a recent work of great ability,
Has that free trade done for her? She has even now, he continues, no employment for her teeming population except upon the land. She ought to have had, and might easily have had, other and various employments, and plenty of it. Are we to believe, says he, the calumny that the Irish are lazy and wont work? Is Irish human nature different from other human nature? Are not the most laborious of all labourers in London and New York, Irishmen? Are Irishmen inferior in understanding? We Englishmen who have personally known Irishmen, in the army, at the bar, and in the church, know that there is no better head than a disciplined Irish one. But in all these cases that master of industry, the stomach, has been well satisfied. Let an Englishman exchange his bread and beer, and beef, and mutton, for no breakfast, for a lukewarm lumper at dinner, and no supper. With such a diet, how much better is he than an Irishman a Celt, as he calls him? No, the truth is, that the misery of Ireland is not from the human nature that grows there it is from Englands perverse legislation, past and present.
Deprived of all employment, except in the labour of agriculture, land became, of course, the great object of pursuit. Land is life, had said, most truly and emphatically, Chief Justice Blackburn; and the people had now before them the choice between the occupation of land, at any rent, or starvation. The lord of the land was thus enabled to dictate his own terms, and therefore it has been that we have heard of the payment of five, six, eight, and even as much as ten pounds per acre. Enormous rents, low wages, farms of an enormous extent, let by rapacious and indolent proprietors to monopolizing land-jobbers, to be relet by intermediate oppressors, for five times their value, among the wretched starvers on potatoes and water, led to a constant succession of outrages, followed by Insurrection Acts, Arms Acts, and Coercion Acts, when the real remedy was to be found in the adoption of a system that would emancipate the country from the tyranny of the spindle and the loom, and permit the labour of Ireland to find employment at home.
That employment could not be had. With the suppression of Irish manufactures the demand for labour had disappeared. An English traveller, describing the state of Ireland in 1834, thirteen years after the free-trade provisions of the Act of Union had come fully into operation, furnishes numerous facts, some of which will now be given, showing that the people were compelled to remain idle, although willing to work at the lowest wages such wages as could not by any possibility enable them to do more than merely sustain life, and perhaps not even that.
CASHEL. Wages here only eightpence a day, and numbers altogether without employment.
CAHIR. I noticed, on Sunday, on coming from church, the streets crowded with labourers, with spades and other implements in their hands, standing to be hired; and I ascertained that any number of these men might have been engaged, on constant employment, at sixpence per day without diet.
WICKLOW. The husband of this woman was a labourer, at sixpence a day, eighty of which sixpences that is, eighty days labour were absorbed in the rent of the cabin. In another cabin was a decently dressed woman with five children, and her husband was also a labourer at sixpence a day. The pig had been taken for rent a few days before. I found some labourers receiving only fourpence per day.
KILKENNY. Upward of 2000 persons totally without employment. I visited the factories that used to support 200 men with their families, and how many men did I find at work? ONE MAN! In place of finding men occupied, I saw them in scores, like spectres, walking about, and lying about the mill. I saw immense piles of goods completed, but for which there was no sale. I saw heaps of blankets, and I saw every loom idle. As for the carpets which had excited the jealousy and the fears of Kidderminster, not one had been made for seven months. To convey an idea of the destitution of these people, I mention, that when an order recently arrived for the manufacture of as many blankets for the police as would have kept the men at work for a few days, bonfires were lighted about the country not bonfires to communicate insurrection, but to evince joy that a few starving men were about to earn bread to support their families. Nevertheless, we are told that Irishmen will not work at home.
CALLEN. In this town, containing between four and five thousand inhabitants, at least one thousand are without regular employment, six or seven hundred entirely destitute, and there are upward of two hundred mendicants in the town persons incapable of work. Ingliss Ireland in 1834.
Such was the picture everywhere presented to the eye of this intelligent traveller. Go where he might, he found hundreds anxious for employment, yet no employment could be had, unless they could travel to England, there to spend weeks in travelling round the country in quest of days of employment, the wages for which might enable them to pay their rent at home. The Celt, says the Times, is the hewer of wood and the drawer of water to the Saxon; The great works of this country, it continues depend on cheap labour. The labour of the slave is always low in price. The people of Ireland were interdicted all employment but in the cultivation of the land, and men, women, and children were forced to waste more labour than would have paid twenty times over for all the British manufactures they could purchase. They were passing rapidly toward barbarism, and for the sole reason that they were denied all power of association for any useful purpose. What was the impression produced by their appearance on the mind of foreigners may be seen by the following extract from the work of a well-known and highly intelligent German traveller:
A Russian peasant, no doubt, is the slave of a harder master, but still he is fed and housed to his content, and no trace of mendicancy is to be seen in him. The Hungarians are certainly not among the best-used people in the world; still, what fine wheaten bread and what wine has even the humblest among them for his daily fare! The Hungarian would scarcely believe it, if he were to be told there was a country in which the inhabitants must content themselves with potatoes every alternate day in the year.
Servia and Bosnia are reckoned among the most wretched countries of Europe, and certainly the appearance of one of their villages has little that is attractive about it; but at least the people, if badly housed, are well clad. We look not for much luxury or comfort among the Tartars of the Crimea; we call them poor and barbarous, but, good heavens! they look at least like human creatures. They have a national costume, their houses are habitable, their orchards are carefully tended, and their gayly harnessed ponies are mostly in good condition. An Irishman has nothing national about him but his rags, his habitation is without a plan, his domestic economy without rule or law. We have beggars and paupers among us, but they form at least an exception; whereas, in Ireland, beggary or abject poverty is the prevailing rule. The nation is one of beggars, and they who are above beggary seem to form the exception.
The African negroes go naked, but then they have a tropical sun to warm them. The Irish are little removed from a state of nakedness; and their climate, though not cold, is cool, and extremely humid. ***
There are nations of slaves, but they have, by long custom, been made unconscious of the yoke of slavery. This is not the case with the Irish, who have a strong feeling of liberty within them, and are fully sensible of the weight of the yoke they have to bear. They are intelligent enough to know the injustice done them by the distorted laws of their country; and while they are themselves enduring the extreme of poverty, they have frequently before them, in the manner of life of their English landlords, a spectacle of the most refined luxury that human ingenuity ever invented. Kohls Travels in Ireland.
It might be thought, however, that Ireland was deficient in the capital required for obtaining the machinery of manufacture to enable her people to maintain competition with her powerful neighbour. We know, however, that previous to the Union she had that machinery; and from the date of that arrangement, so fraudulently brought about, by which was settled conclusively the destruction of Irish manufactures, the annual waste of labour was greater than the whole amount of capital then employed in the cotton and woollen manufactures of England. From that date the people of Ireland were thrown, from year to year, more into the hands of middlemen, who accumulated fortunes that they would not invest in the improvement of land, and could not, under the system which prostrated manufactures, invest in machinery of any kind calculated to render labour productive; and all their accumulations were sent therefore to England for investment. An official document published by the British government shows that the transfers of British securities from England to Ireland, that is to say, the investment of Irish capital in England, in the thirteen years following the final adoption of free trade in 1821, amounted to as many millions of pounds sterling; and thus was Ireland forced to contribute cheap labour and cheap capital to building up the great works of Britain. Further, it was provided by law that whenever the poor people of a neighbourhood contributed to a saving fund, the amount should not be applied in any manner calculated to furnish local employment, but should be transferred for investment in the British funds. The landlords fled to England, and their rent followed them. The middlemen sent their capital to England. The trader or the labourer that could accumulate a little capital saw it sent to England; and he was then compelled to follow it. Such is the history of the origin of the present abandonment of Ireland by its inhabitants.
The form in which rents, profits, and savings, as well as taxes, went to England, was that of raw products of the soil, to be consumed abroad, yielding nothing to be returned to the land, which was of course impoverished. The average export of grain in the first three years following the passage of the Act of Union was about 300,000 quarters, but as the domestic market gradually disappeared, the export of raw produce increased, until, at the close of twenty years it exceeded a million of quarters; and at the date of Mr. Ingliss visit it had reached an average of two and a half millions, or 22,500,000 of our bushels. The poor people were, in fact, selling their soil to pay for cotton and woollen goods that they should have manufactured themselves, for coal which abounded among themselves, for iron, all the materials of which existed at home in great profusion, and for a small quantity of tea, sugar, and other foreign commodities, while the amount required to pay rent to absentees, and interest to mortgagees, was estimated at more than thirty millions of dollars. Here was a drain that no nation could bear, however great its productive power; and the whole of it was due to the system which forbade the application of labour, talent, or capital to any thing but agriculture, and thus forbade advance in civilization. The inducements to remain at home steadily diminished. Those who could live without labour found that society had changed; and they fled to England, France, or Italy. Those who desired to work, and felt that they were qualified for something beyond mere manual labour, fled to England or America; and thus by degrees was the unfortunate country depleted of every thing that could render it a home in which to remain, while those who could not fly remained to be, as the Times so well describes it, mere hewers of wood and drawers of water to the Saxon, happy when a full-grown man could find employment at sixpence a day, and that, too, without food.
Throughout the west and south of Ireland, said an English traveller in 1842, four years before the exhaustion of the soil had produced disease among the potatoes
The traveller is haunted by the face of the popular starvation. It is not the exception it is the condition of the people. In this fairest and richest of countries, men are suffering and starving by millions. There are thousands of them, at this minute, stretched in the sunshine at their cabin doors with no work, scarcely any food, no hope seemingly. Strong countrymen are lying in bed, for the hunger because a man lying on his back does not need so much food as a person afoot. Many of them have torn up the unripe potatoes from their little gardens, and to exist now must look to winter, when they shall have to suffer starvation and cold too. Thackeray.
Everywhere, said the Quarterly Review, throughout all parts, even in the best towns, and in Dublin itself, you will meet men and boys not dressed, not covered but hung round with a collection of rags of unrivalled variety, squalidity, and filth walking dunghills. *** No one ever saw an English scarecrow with such rags.
The difference in the condition of these poor people and that of the slave even the slave of Jamaica at that day consisted in this, that the negro slave was worth buying, whereas the others were not; and we know well that the man who pays a good price for a commodity, attaches to it a value that induces him to give some care to its preservation; whereas he cares nothing for another that he finds himself forced to accept. Starving by millions, as they are here described, death was perpetually separating husbands and wives, parents and children, while to the survivors remained no hope but that of being enabled at some time or other to fly to another land in which they might be permitted to sell their labour for food sufficient to support life.
The existence of such a state of things was, said the advocates of the system which looks to converting all the world outside of England into one great farm, to be accounted for by the fact that the population was too numerous for the land, and yet a third of the surface, including the richest lands in the kingdom, was lying unoccupied and waste.
Of single counties, said an English writer, Mayo, with a population of 389,000, and a rental of only £300,000, has an area of 1,364,000 acres, of which 800,000 are waste! No less than 470,000 acres, being very nearly equal to the whole extent of surface now under cultivation, are declared to be reclaimable. Galway, with a population of 423,000, and a valued rental of £433,000, has upward of 700,000 acres of waste, 410,000 of which are reclaimable! Kerry, with a population of 293,000, has an area of 1,186,000 acres 727,000 being waste, and 400,000 of them reclaimable! Even the Union of Glenties, Lord Monteagles ne plus ultra of redundant population, has an area of 245,000 acres, of which 200,000 are waste, and for the most part reclaimable, to its population of 43,000. While the Barony of Ennis, that abomination of desolation, has 230,000 acres of land to its 5000 paupers a proportion which, as Mr. Carter, one of the principal proprietors, remarks in his circular advertisement for tenants, is at the rate of only one family to 230 acres; so that if but one head of a family were employed to every 230 acres, there need not be a single pauper in the entire district; a proof, he adds, THAT NOTHING BUT EMPLOYMENT IS WANTING TO SET THIS COUNTRY TO RIGHTS! In which opinion we fully coincide.
Nothing but employment was needed, but that could not be found under the system which has caused the annihilation of the cotton manufacture of India, notwithstanding the advantage of having the cotton on the spot, free from all cost for carriage. As in Jamaica, and as in India, the land had been gradually exhausted by the exportation of its products in their rudest state, and the country had thus been drained of capital, a necessary consequence of which was that the labour even of men found no demand, while women and children starved, that the women and children of England might spin cotton and weave cloth that Ireland was too poor to purchase. Bad, however, as was all this, a worse state of things was at hand. Poverty and wretchedness compelled the wretched people to fly in thousands and tens of thousands across the Channel, thus following the capital and the soil that had been transferred to Birmingham and Manchester; and the streets and cellars of those towns, and those of London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, were filled with men, women, and children in a state almost of starvation; while throughout the country, men were offering to perform the farm labour for food alone, and a cry had arisen among the people of England that the labourers were likely to be swamped by these starving Irishmen: to provide against which it was needed that the landlords of Ireland should be compelled to support their own poor, and forthwith an act of Parliament was passed for that purpose. Thence arose, of course, an increased desire to rid the country of the men, women, and children whose labour could not be sold, and who could therefore pay no rent. The Crowbar Brigade was therefore called into more active service, as will be seen by the following account of their labours in a single one of the Unions established under the new poor-law system, which in many cases took the whole rent of the land for the maintenance of those who had been reduced to pauperism by the determination of the people of Manchester and Birmingham to continue the colonial system under which Ireland had been ruined.
In Galway Union, recent accounts declared the number of poor evicted, and their homes levelled within the last two years, to equal the numbers in Kilrush 4000 families and 20,000 human beings are said to have been here also thrown upon the road, houseless and homeless. I can readily believe the statement, for to me some parts of the country appeared like an enormous graveyard the numerous gables of the unroofed dwellings seemed to be gigantic tombstones. They were, indeed, records of decay and death far more melancholy than the grave can show. Looking on them, the doubt rose in my mind, am I in a civilized country? Have we really a free constitution? Can such scenes be paralleled in Siberia or Caffraria?
A single case described in a paper recently published by Mr. Dickens in his Household Words, will convey to the reader some idea of an eviction, that may be taken as a specimen, and perhaps a fair one, of the fifty thousand evictions that took place in the single year 1849, and of the hundreds of thousands that have taken place in the last six years.
Black piles of peat stood on the solitary ground, ready after a summers cutting and drying. Presently, patches of cultivation presented themselves; plots of ground raised on beds, each a few feet wide, with intervening trenches to carry off the boggy water, where potatoes had grown, and small fields where grew more ragwort than grass, enclosed by banks cast up and tipped here and there with a brier or a stone. It was the husbandry of misery and indigence. The ground had already been freshly manured by sea-weeds, but the village, where was it? Blotches of burnt-ground, scorched heaps of rubbish, and fragments of blackened walls, alone were visible. Garden plots were trodden down and their few bushes rent up, or hung with tatters of rags. The two horsemen, as they hurried by, with gloomy visages, uttered no more than the single word EVICTION!
The scenes that had taken place at the destruction of that village, are thus described to the author of the sad work, by a poor servant:
Oh, bless your honour! If you had seen that poor frantic woman when the back of the cabin fell and buried her infant, where she thought she had laid it safe for a moment while she flew to part her husband and a soldier who had struck the other children with the flat of his sword and bade them troop off. Oh, but your honour it was a killing sight! *** I could not help thinking of the poor people at Rathbeg when the soldiers and police cried, Down with them! down with them even to the ground! and then the poor little cabins came down all in fire and smoke, amid the howls and cries of the poor creatures. Oh, it was a fearful sight, your honour it was indeed to see the poor women hugging their babies, and the houses where they were born burning in the wind. It was dreadful to see the old bed-ridden man lie on the ground among the few bits of furniture, and groan to his gracious God above! Oh, your honour, you never saw such a sight, or you sure a it would never have been done.
This is certainly an awful picture of the slavery resulting from compelling a whole nation to devote itself to agriculture, and thus annihilating the power of association from compelling a whole people to forego all the advantages resulting from proximity to market for the sale of their products or the purchase of manure and from compelling men, women, and children to be idle, when they would desire to be employed. In reading it, we are forcibly reminded of the razzias of the little African kings, who, anxious for a fresh supply of slaves, collect their troops together and invade the neighbouring territories, where they enact scenes corresponding exactly with the one here described. In Africa, however, the slave is fed by those who have burned and destroyed his house and his farm; but in Ireland, as labour is valueless, he is turned into the roads or the grave-yards to die of famine, or of pestilence. And yet, even now, the Times asks the question
How are the people to be fed and employed? That is the question which still baffles an age that can transmit a message round the world in a moment of time, and point out the locality of a planet never yet seen. There is the question which founders both the bold and the wise.
Up to this time there had been repeated cases of partial famine, but now the nation was startled by the news of the almost total failure of the crop of potatoes, the single description of food upon which the people of Ireland had been reduced to depend. Constant cropping of the soil, returning to it none of the manure, because of the necessity for exporting almost the whole of its products, had produced disease in the vegetable world precisely as the want of proper nourishment produces it in the animal world and now a cry of famine rang throughout the land. The poor-houses were everywhere filled, while the roads, and the streets, and the grave-yards were occupied by the starving and the naked, the dying and the dead; and the presses of England were filled with denunciations of English and Irish landholders, who desired to make food dear, while men, women, and children were perishing by hundreds of thousands for want of food. Thus far, Ireland had been protected in the market of England, as some small compensation for the sacrifice she had made of her manufacturing interests; but now, small as has been the boon, it was to be withdrawn, precisely as we see to have been the case with the poor people of Jamaica. Like them, the Irish had become poor, and their trade had ceased to be of value, although but seventy years before they had been Englands best customers. The system had exhausted all the foreign countries with which England had been permitted to maintain what is denominated free trade India, Portugal, Turkey, the West Indies, and Ireland herself and it had become necessary to make an effort to obtain markets in the only prosperous countries of the world, those which had to a greater or less extent placed the consumer by the side of the producer, to wit this country, France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia and the mode of accomplishing this was that of offering them the same freedom of trade in food by which Ireland had been ruined. The farmers were everywhere invited to exhaust their soil by sending its products to England to be consumed; and the corn-laws were repealed for the purpose of enabling them to impoverish themselves by entering into competition with the starving Irishman, who was thus at once deprived of the market of England, as by the Act of Union he had been deprived of his own. The cup of wretchedness was before well nigh full, but it was now filled. The price of food fell, and the labourer was ruined, for the whole product of his land would scarcely pay his rent. The landlord was ruined, for he could collect no rents, and he was at the same time liable for the payment of enormous taxes for the maintenance of his poor neighbours. His land was encumbered with mortgages and settlements, created when food was high, and he could pay no interest; and now a law was passed, by aid of which property could be summarily disposed of at public sale, and the proceeds distributed among those who had legal claims upon it. The landholder of Jamaica, exhausted by the system, had had his property taken from him at a price fixed by Parliament, and the proceeds applied to the discharge of debts incurred to his English agents, and now the same Parliament provided for the transfer of Irish property with a view to the payment of the same class of debts. The impoverished landholder now experienced the same fate that had befallen his poor tenant, and from that date to this, famine and pestilence, levellings and evictions, have been the order of the day. Their effect has everywhere been to drive the poor people from the land, and its consequences are seen in the fact that the population numbered, in 1850, one million six hundred and fifty-nine thousand less than it did in 1840; while the starving population of the towns had largely increased. The county of Cork had diminished 222,000, while Dublin had grown in numbers 22,000. Galway had lost 125,000, while the city had gained 7422. Connaught had lost 414,000, while Limerick and Belfast had gained 30,000. The number of inhabited houses had fallen from 1,328,000 to 1,047,000, or more than twenty percent Announcing these startling facts, the London Times stated that for a whole generation man had been a drug in Ireland, and population a nuisance. The inexhaustible Irish supply had, as it continued, kept down the price of English labour, but this cheapness of labour had contributed vastly to the improvement and power of England, and largely to the enjoyment of those who had money to spend. Now, however, a change appeared to be at hand, and it was to be feared that the prosperity of England, based as it had been on cheap Irish labour, might be interfered with, as famine and pestilence, evictions and emigration, were thinning out the Celts who had so long, as it is said, been hewers [begin page 188] of wood and drawers of water for the Saxon. Another of the advocates of the system which has exhausted and ruined Ireland, and is now transferring its land to the men who have enriched themselves by acting as middlemen between the producers and consumers of the world, rejoicing in the great number of those who had fled from their native soil to escape the horrors of starvation and pestilence, declares that this is to be regarded as the joyful side of the case. What, it asks,
Will follow? This great good, among others that the stagnant weight of unemployed population in these insulated realms is never likely again to accumulate to the dangerous amount which there was sometimes cause to apprehend that, from unforeseen revulsions in industry or foreign trade, it might have done. A natural vent is now so thoroughly opened, and so certain to grow wider and clearer everyday, that the overflow will pass off whenever a moderate degree of pressure recurs. Population, skill, and capital, also, will no longer wait in consternation till they are half spent with watching and fear. The way is ready. They will silently shift their quarters when the competition or depression here becomes uncomfortable. Every family has already friends or acquaintances who have gone before them over sea. Socially, our insulation as a people is proved, by the census of 1851, to be at an end. Daily News.
The Times, too, rejoices in the prospect that the resources of Ireland will now probably be developed, as the Saxon takes the place of the Celt, who has so long hewn the wood and drawn the water for his Saxon masters. Prosperity and happiness may, as it thinks,
Some day reign over that beautiful island. Its fertile soil, its rivers and lakes, its water-power, its minerals, and other materials for the wants and luxuries of man, may one day be developed; but all appearances are against the belief that this will ever happen in the days of the Celt. That tribe will soon fulfil the great law of Providence which seems to enjoin and reward the union of races. It will mix with the Anglo-American, and be known no more as a jealous and separate people. Its present place will be occupied by the more mixed, more docile, and more serviceable race, which has long borne the yoke of sturdy industry in this island, which can submit to a master and obey the law. This is no longer a dream, for it is a fact now in progress, and every day more apparent.
Commenting upon the view thus presented, an American journalist most truly says
There is a cold-blooded atrocity in the spirit of these remarks for which examples will be sought in vain, except among the doctors of the free-trade school. Naturalists have learned to look with philosophical indifference upon the agonies of a rabbit or a mouse expiring in an exhausted receiver, but it requires long teaching from the economists before mens hearts can be so steeled, that after pumping out all the sustenance of vitality from one of the fairest islands under the sun, they can discourse calmly upon its depopulation as proof of the success of the experiment, can talk with bitter irony of that strange region of the earth where such a people, affectionate and hopeful, genial and witty, industrious and independent, was produced and could not stay, and can gloat in the anticipation that prosperity and happiness may some day reign over that beautiful island, and its boundless resources for the wants and luxuries of man be developed, not for the Celt, but for a more mixed, more docile, and more serviceable race, which can submit to a master and obey the law. Albany Journal.
The Times rejoices that the place of the Celt is in future to be occupied by cattle, as sheep already occupy the place of the Highlander expelled from the land in which, before Britain undertook to underwork all other nations and thus secure a monopoly for the workshop of the world, his fathers were as secure in their rights as was the landowner himself. Irish journals take a different view of the prospect. They deprecate the idea of the total expulsion of the native race, and yet they fear that
There is no doubt that in a few years more, if some stop is not put to the present outpouring of the people to America, and latterly to Australia, there will not be a million of the present race of inhabitants to be found within the compass of the four provinces.
No thoughts of the land of their birth, it continues, seems to enter their minds, although the Irish people have been proverbial for their attachment to their country. Connaught Western Star.
A recent journal informs us that
The Galway papers are full of the most deplorable accounts of wholesale evictions, or rather exterminations, in that miserable country. The tenantry are turned out of the cottages by scores at a time. As many as 203 men, women, and children have been driven upon the roads and ditches by way of one days work, and have now no resource but to beg their bread in desolate places, or to bury their griefs, in many instances for ever, within the walls of the Union workhouse. Land agents direct the operation. The work is done by a large force of police and soldiery. Under the protection of the latter, the Crowbar Brigade advances to the devoted township, takes possession of the houses, such as they are, and, with a few turns of the crowbar and a few pulls at a rope, bring down the roof, and leave nothing but a tottering chimney, if even that. The sun that rose on a village sets on a desert; the police return to their barracks, and the people are nowhere to be found, or are vainly watching from some friendly covert for the chance of crouching once more under their ruined homes.
What to the Irish heart is more painful than even the large amount and stern method of the destruction, is that the authors this time are Saxon strangers. It is a wealthy London company that is invading the quiet retreats of Connemara, and robbing a primitive peasantry of its last hold on the earth; The Law Life Assurance Company having advanced, we believe, £240,000 on the Martin estates, has now become the purchaser under the Encumbered Estates Acts, and is adopting these summary but usual measures to secure the forfeited pledge. That gentlemen, many of whom have never set foot in Ireland, and who are wealthy enough to lend a quarter of a million of money, should exact the last penny from a wretched peasantry who had no hand, or voice in the transaction which gave them new masters, seems utterly intolerable to the native Irish reason.
With the growth of the value of land, man has always become free. With the decline in its value, man has always become enslaved. If we desire to find the cause of the enormous destruction of life in Ireland, even in this day of boasted civilization if we desire to find the cause of the eviction of tenant and landlord, and the decline in the value of land, we need scarcely look beyond the following paragraph:
The cotton manufacture of Dublin, which employed 14,000 operatives, has been destroyed; the 3400 silk-looms of the Liberty have been destroyed; the stuff and serge manufacture, which employed 1491 operatives, have been destroyed; the calico-looms of Balbriggan have been destroyed; the flannel manufacture of Rathdrum has been destroyed; the blanket manufacture of Kilkenny has been destroyed; the camlet trade of Bandon, which produced £100,000 a year, has been destroyed; the worsted and stuff manufactures of Waterford have been destroyed; the rateen and frieze manufactures of Carrick-on-Suir have been destroyed. One business alone survives! One business alone thrives and flourishes, and dreads no bankruptcy! That fortunate business which the Union Act has not struck down, but which the Union Act has stood by which the absentee drain has not slackened, but has stimulated which the drainage Acts and navigation laws of the Imperial Senate have not deadened but invigoratedthat favoured, and privileged, and patronized business is the Irish coffin-makers. 
To the separation of the consumer from the producer resulting from the adoption of the system which has for its object the establishment of a monopoly of the machinery of manufacture for the world, are due the exhaustion of Ireland, the ruin of its landholders, the starvation of its people, and the degradation in the eyes of the world of the country which has furnished to the continent its best soldiers, and to the empire not only its most industrious and intelligent labourers, but also its Burke, its Grattan, its Sheridan, and its Wellington. And yet we find the Times rejoicing at the gradual disappearance of the native population, and finding in
The abstraction of the Celtic race at the rate of a quarter of a million a year, a surer remedy for the inveterate Irish disease, than any human wit could have imagined.
The inveterate Irish disease here spoken of is a total absence of demand for labour, resulting from the unhappy determination of the people of England to maintain the monopoly of the power to manufacture for the world. The sure remedy for this is found in famines, pestilences, and expatriation, the necessary results of the exhaustion of the land which follows the exportation of its raw products. A stronger confirmation of the destructive character of such a course of policy than is contained in the following paragraph could scarcely be imagined:
When the Celt has crossed the Atlantic, he begins for the first time in his life to consume the manufactures of this country, and indirectly to contribute to its customs. We may possibly live to see the day when the chief product of Ireland will be cattle, and English and Scotch the majority of her population. The nine or ten millions of Irish, who by that time will have settled in the United States, cannot be less friendly to England, and will certainly be much better customers to her than they now are. London Times.
When the Celt leaves Ireland he leaves an almost purely agricultural country, and in such countries man generally approaches nearly to the condition of a slave. When he comes here he comes to a country in which to some little extent the plough and the loom have been enabled to come together; and here he becomes a freeman and a customer of England.
The nation that commences by exporting raw products must end by exporting men; and if we desire evidence of this, we need only look to the following figures, furnished by the last four censuses of Ireland:
1821 6,801,827 1831 7,767,401 ---- Increase, 965,574 1841 8,175,124 ---- Increase, 407,723 1851 6,515,794 ---- Decrease, 1,659,330
To what causes may this extraordinary course of events be attributed? Certainly not to any deficiency of land, for nearly one-third of the whole surface, including millions of acres of the richest soils of the kingdom, remains in a state of nature. Not to original inferiority of the soil in cultivation, for it has been confessedly among the richest in the empire. Not to a deficiency of mineral ores or fuel, for coal abounds, and iron ores of the richest kind, as well as those of other metals, exist in vast profusion. Not to any deficiency in the physical qualities of the Irishman, for it is an established fact that he is capable of performing far more labour than the Englishman, the Frenchman, or the Belgian. Not to a deficiency of intellectual ability, for Ireland has given to England her most distinguished soldiers and statesmen; and we have in this country everywhere evidence that the Irishman is capable of the highest degree of intellectual improvement. Nevertheless, while possessed of every advantage that nature could give him, we find the Irishman at home a slave to the severest taskmasters, and reduced to a condition of poverty and distress, such as is exhibited in no other portion of the civilized world. No choice is now left him but between expatriation and starvation, and therefore it is that we see him everywhere abandoning the home of his fathers, to seek elsewhere that subsistence which Ireland, rich as she is in soil and in her minerals, in her navigable rivers, and in her facilities of communication with the world, can no longer afford him.
That the process of eviction is still continued on an extensive scale is shown by the following extracts from Sir Francis Heads work on Ireland, just issued from the press:
Here almost immediately I first met with that afflicting spectacle, or rather spectre, that almost without intermission haunted me through the whole remainder of my tour, namely, stout stone-built cabins; unroofed for the purpose of evicting therefrom their insolvent tenants.P. 110
On conversing with the master, I ascertained from him that Lord Lucans evictions have ceased, but that Lord Erne evicted on Saturday last. P. 115
'Is this system of eviction, said I to the driver, pointing to a small cluster of unroofed cabins we were passing at the moment, good or bad? Well! yere Arnr! he replied, uts good and uts bad. Uts good for them that hould large lands, bad for the small. Ut laves nothing for tham but the workhouse.'P. 121.
The tendency of the system which looks to the exportation of raw produce and the exhaustion of the soil is always toward the consolidation of the land, because the exportation of population, whether from Ireland, India, or Virginia, always follows in the wake of the exportation of food and other raw commodities.
Among the men were only four that could fairly be called able-bodied; each of them told me he had been evicted by Lord Lucan. I asked the master what had become of the rest. His answer was very instructive. Most of them, said he, if they can scrape up half-a-crown, go to England, from whence, after some little time, they send from 2s. 6d. to 10s. and, as soon as their families get that, they are off to them.
'Does the father go first? I thoughtlessly asked.
'Oh, no! we keep him to the last. One daughter went off to England from here a short time ago, and sent 7s. 6d. That took out the mother and another sister. In a few weeks the mother and sister sent enough to get over the remaining two sons and the father. Total of the family, 6.'P. 127.
In the above passage we have the equivalent of the exportation of the negro from the Northern Slave States. Husbands and wives, parents and children, are forced to fly from each other, never to meet again unless those who emigrate can save means to send for those who are left behind.
We were now joined by the head-steward a sedate, highly intelligent, respectable-looking Scotchman, who has been in Ireland thirteen years. He told me that the number of persons that had been ejected was about 10,000, of whom one-tenth were employed by Lord Lucan, who had given most of them cottages.
We passed a cabin, and, closing my umbrella and leaving it on the car, I walked in.
'Will yere Arnr take a sate? said a woman about thirty-eight, with a fine, open countenance, her eyes being listlessly fixed on the daylight.
I sat down. On her lap was an infant. Three bare-footed children, as if hatching eggs, sat motionless on the edge of a peat fire, which appeared to be almost touching their naked toes; above the embers was demurely hanging a black pot. Opposite sat, like a bit of gnarled oak, the withered grandmother. The furniture was composed of a dingy-coloured wooden wardrobe, with a few plates on the top, and one bed close to the fire. There was no chimney but the door, on the threshold of which stood, looking exceedingly unhappy, four dripping wet fowls; at the far end of the chamber was a regular dungheap, on which stood an ass.
'Where is your husband, my good woman? I said to the youngest of the women.
'In England, yere Arnr, she replied, saking work. P. 132.
Seeking work! and yet Ireland abounds, in the richest land uncultivated, and mineral wealth untouched, because the system forbids that men should combine their efforts together for the improvement of their common condition.
After trotting on for about a mile, and after I had left Lord Lucans property, I came as usual to a small village of unroofed cabins, from the stark walls of which, to my astonishment, I saw here and there proceeding a little smoke; and, on approaching it, I beheld a picture I shall not readily forget. The tenants had been all evicted, and yet, dreadful to say, they were there still! The children nestling, and the poor women huddling together, under a temporary lean-to of straw, which they had managed to stick into the interstices of the walls of their ancient homes.
'This is a quare place, yere Arnr! said a fine, honest-looking woman, kindly smiling to me, adding, Sit down, yere Arnr!
One of her four children got up and offered me his stool.
Under another temporary shed I found a tall woman heavy with child, a daughter about sixteen, and four younger children her husband was also in England, sakin work. I entered two or three more of these wretched habitations, around which were the innumerable tiny fields; surrounded by those low tottering stone walls I have already described.*** P. 136.
They were really good people, and from what I read in their countenances, I feel confident, that if, instead of distributing among them a few shillings, I had asked them to feed me, with the kindest hospitality they would readily have done so, and that with my gold in my pocket I might have slept among them in the most perfect security.
The devotional expressions of the lower class of Irish, and the meekness and resignation with which they bear misfortune or affliction, struck, me very forcibly. I havent aten a bit this blessed day, glory be to God! said one woman, Troth, Ive been suffering lhong time from poverty and sickness, glory be to God! said another. On entering a strange cabin, the common salutation is, God save all here! On passing a gang of comrades at labour, a man often says, God bless the work, boys!'P. 137.
The extirpation of the people results necessarily in the decay of the towns, as is here shown:
When my bill came, for ones bill at an inn, like death, is sure to come, I asked the waiter what effect the evictions in the neighbourhood had had on the town.
'They have ruined it, he replied; the poor used to support the rich; now that the poor are gone the rich shopkeepers are all failing. Our town is full of empty shops, and, after all, the landlord himself is now being ruined!' P. 147.
Cheap labour and cheap land are always companions. In Jamaica and India, land, as we have seen, is almost valueless. How it is in Ireland may be seen by the following passage:
Adjoining is a similar property of about 10,000 acres, purchased, I was informed, by Captain Houston, a short time ago, at the rate of 2-½d. an acre.P. 153.
In a paper recently read before the statistical section of the British Association, it is shown that the estates recently purchased in Ireland by English capital embraced 403,065 acres, and that the purchase money had been £1,095,000, or about £2 15s. ($13.20) per acre, being little more than is paid for farms with very moderate improvements in the new States of the Mississippi Valley.
Why land is cheap and labour badly rewarded may easily be seen on a perusal of the following passages:
'Chickuns are about 5d. a couple, dooks 10d. A couple of young gaise 10d; when auld, not less than 1s. or 14d.
'And turkeys? I asked.
'I cant say; we havent many of thim in the counthry, and I dont want to tell yere Arnr a lie. Fish, little or nothing. A large turbot, of 30 lbs. weight, for 3s. Lobsters, a dozen for 4d. Soles, 2d. or 3d. a piece. Tother day I bought a turbot, of 15 lbs. weight, for a gentleman, and I paid 18d. for ut.' P. 178.
'What do you pay for your tea and sugar here? I inquired.
'Very dare, sir, he replied. We pay 5s. for tea, 5d. for brown sugar, and 8d. for white; that is, if we buy a single pound.' P.187.
The sugar of the labourer of Jamaica exchanges in Manchester for three shillings, of which he receives perhaps one, and he perishes because of the difficulty of obtaining machinery, or clothing. The Hindoo sells his cotton for a penny a pound, and buys it back in the form of cloth at eighteen or twenty pence. The Virginia negro raises tobacco which exchanges for six shillings worth of commodities, of which he and his owner obtain three pence. The poor Irishman raises chickens which sell in London for shillings, of which he receives pence, and thus a pound of sugar which had yielded the free negro of Jamaica two pence, exchanges in the West of Ireland for a pair of chickens or a dozen lobsters. The reader who may study these facts will readily understand the destructive effects on the value of land and labour resulting from the absence of markets, such as arise naturally where the plough and the loom are permitted, in accordance with the doctrines of Adam Smith, to take their places by the side of each other. More than seventy years since he denounced the system which looked to compelling the exports of raw produce as one productive of infinite injustice, and certainly the histories of Jamaica and Virginia, Ireland and India, since his time, would afford him, were he now present, little reason for a change of opinion.
It is common to ascribe the state of things now existing in Ireland to the rapid growth of population; and that in its turn is charged to the account of the potato, the excessive use of which, as Mr. McCulloch informs his readers, has lowered the standard of living and tended to the multiplication of men, women, and children. The peasantry of Ireland live, as he says, in miserable mud cabins, without either a window or a chimney, or any thing that can be called furniture, and are distinguished from their fellow labourers across the Channel by their filth and misery, and hence it is, in his opinion, that they work for low wages. We have here effect substituted for cause. The absence of demand for labour causes wages to be low, and those wages will procure nothing but mud cabins and potatoes. It is admitted everywhere throughout the continent of Europe that the introduction of the potato has tended greatly to the improvement of the condition of the people; but then, there is no portion of the continent in which it is used, where it constitutes an essential part of the governmental policy to deprive millions of people of all mode of employment except agriculture, and thus placing those millions at such a distance from market that the chief part of their labour and its products is lost in the effort to reach that market, and their land is exhausted because of the impossibility of returning to the soil any portion of the crop yielded by it. Commercial centralization produces all these effects. It looks to the destruction of the value of labour and land, and to the enslavement of man. It tends to the division of the whole population into two classes, separated by an impassable gulf the mere labourer and the land-owner. It tends to the destruction of the power of association for any purpose of improvement, whether by the making of roads or by the founding of schools, and of course to the prevention of the growth of towns, as we see to have been the case with Jamaica, so barbarous in this respect when compared with Martinique or Cuba, islands whose governments have not looked to the perpetual divorce of the hammer and the harrow. The decay of towns in Ireland, subsequent to the Union, led to absenteeism, and thus added to the exhaustion of the land, because Irish wheat was now needed to pay not only for English cloth but for English services; and the more the centralization resulting from absenteeism, the greater necessarily was the difficulty of maintaining the productive powers of the soil. Mr. McCulloch, however, assures his readers that it is not easy to imagine any grounds for pronouncing the expenditure of the rent at home more beneficial to the country than if it had been expended abroad. (Principles, 157.) Another distinguished political economist says
Many persons, also, perplexed by the consideration that all the commodities which are exported as remittances of the absentees income are exports for which no return is obtained; that they are as much lost to this country as if they were a tribute paid to a foreign state, or even as if they were periodically thrown into the sea. This is unquestionably true; but it must be recollected that whatever is unproductively consumed, is, by the very terms of the proposition, destroyed, without producing any return Seniors Political Economy, 160.
This view is, as the reader will see, based upon the idea of the total destruction of the commodities consumed. Were it even correct, it would still follow that there had been transferred from Ireland to England a demand for services of a thousand kinds, tending to cause a rise in the price of labour in the one and a fall in the other; but if it were altogether incorrect, it would then follow, necessarily, that the loss to the country would be as great as if the remittances were a tribute paid to a foreign state, or even as if they were periodically thrown into the sea. That it is altogether incorrect the reader may readily satisfy himself. Man consumes much, but he destroys nothing. In eating food he is merely acting as a machine for preparing the elements of which it is composed for future production; and the more he can take out of the land the more he can return to it, and the more rapid will be the improvement in the productive power of the soil. If the market be at hand, he can take hundreds of bushels of turnips, carrots, or potatoes, or tons of hay, from an acre of land, and he can vary the character of his culture from year to year, and the more he borrows from the great bank the more he can repay to it, the more he can improve his mind and his cultivation, and the more readily he can exchange for improved machinery by aid of which to obtain still increased returns. If, however, the market be distant, he must raise only those things that will bear carriage, and which from their small yield command a high price, and thus is he limited in his cultivation, and the more he is limited the more rapidly he exhausts his land, the less is his power to obtain roads, to have association with his fellow-men, to obtain books, to improve his mode of thought, to make roads, or to purchase machinery. Such is the case even when he is compelled to sell and buy in distant markets, but still worse is it when, as in the case of the rent of the absentee, nothing is returned to the land, for then production diminishes without a corresponding diminution of the rent, and the poor cultivator is more and more thrown upon the mercy of the land-owner or his agent, and becomes, as we see to have been the case in Jamaica and India, practically a slave. This state of things has in all countries been followed by a diminution of population resulting from starvation or from exportation; and hence it is that we see the destruction of life in Ireland, India, and the West Indies, while from the two former vast numbers are annually exported, many of them to perish in the new countries to which they are driven. Out of 99,000 that left Ireland for Canada in a single year, no less than 13,000 perished on shipboard, and thousands died afterward of disease, starvation, and neglect; and thus it is that we have the horrors of the middle passage repeated in our day. It is the slave trade of the last century reproduced on a grander scale and on a new theatre of action.
We are told of the principle of population that men increase faster than food, and, for evidence that such must always be the case, are pointed to the fact that when men are few in number they always cultivate the rich soils, and then food is abundant, but as population increases they are forced to resort to the poor soils, and then food becomes scarce. That the contrary of all this is the fact is shown by the history of England, France, Italy, Greece, India, and every other nation of the world, and is proved in our own day by all that is at this moment being done in this country. It is proved by the fact that Ireland possesses millions of acres of the most fertile soil remaining in a state of nature, and so likely to remain until she shall have markets for their produce that will enable their owners readily to exchange turnips, potatoes, cabbages, and hay, for cloth, machinery, and MANURE.
It is singular that all the political economists of England should so entirely have overlooked the fact that man is a mere borrower from the earth, and that when he does not pay his debts, she does as do all other creditors, that is, she expels him from his holding. England makes of her soil a grand reservoir for the waste yielded by all the sugar, coffee, wool, indigo, cotton and other raw commodities of almost half the world, and thus does she raise a crop that has been valued at five hundred millions of dollars, or five times more than the average value of the cotton crop produced by so many millions of people in this country; and yet so important is manure that she imports in a single year more than two hundred thousand tons of guano, at a cost of almost two millions of pounds, and thus does she make labour productive and land valuable. Nevertheless, her writers teach other nations that the true mode of becoming rich is to exhaust the land by sending from it all its products in their rudest state, and then, when the people of Ireland attempt to follow the soil which they have sent to England, the people of the latter are told by Mr. McCulloch that
The unexampled misery of the Irish people is directly owing to the excessive augmentation of their numbers; and, nothing can be more perfectly futile than to expect any real or lasting amendment of their situation until an effectual check has been given to the progress of population. It is obvious too, he continues, that the low and degraded condition into which the people of Ireland are now sunk is the condition to which every people must be reduced whose numbers continue, for any considerable period, to increase faster than the means of providing for their comfortable and decent subsistence. Principles, 383.
The population of Ireland did increase with some rapidity, and the reason for this was to be found in the fact that poverty had not yet produced that demoralization which restricts the growth of numbers. The extraordinary morality of the women of Ireland is admitted everywhere. In England it is remarked upon by poor-law commissioners, and here it is a fact that cannot fail to command the attention of the most superficial observer. How it is at home we are told by Sir Francis Head, whose statements on this subject cannot be read without interest:
As regards the women of Ireland, their native modesty cannot fail to attract the observation of any stranger. Their dress was invariably decent, generally pleasing, and often strikingly picturesque. Almost all wore woollen petticoats, dyed by themselves, of a rich madder colour, between crimson and scarlet. Upon their shoulders, and occasionally from their heads, hung, in a variety of beautiful folds, sometimes a plaid of red and green, sometimes a cloak, usually dark blue or dingy white. Their garments, however, like those of the men, were occasionally to be seen in tatters. P. 119.
Anxious to be fully informed on the subject, the traveller took occasion to interrogate various police-officers and gentlemen, and the result of his inquiries will be seen on a perusal of the following questions and answers:
Q. How long have you been on duty in Galway?
A. Above nine years.
Q. Have you much crime here?
A. Very little; it principally consists of petty larcenies.
Q. Have there been here many illegitimate children?
A. Scarcely any. During the whole of the eight years I have been on duty here I have not known of an illegitimate child being reared up in any family in the town.
Q. What do you mean by being reared up?
A. I mean that, being acquainted with every family in Galway, I have never known of a child of that description being born. P. 208.
Q. How long have you been on duty here?
A. Only six months.
Q. During that time have you known of any instance of an illegitimate child being born in the village of the Claddagh?
A. Not only have I never known of such a case, but I have never heard any person attribute such a case to the fisherwomen of Claddagh. I was on duty in the three islands of Arran, inhabited almost exclusively by fishermen, who also farm potatoes, and I never heard of one of their women who are remarkable for their beauty having had an illegitimate child, nor did I ever hear it attributed to them; indeed, I have been informed by Mr. -----, a magistrate who has lived in Galway for eight years, and has been on temporary duty in the island of Arran, that he also had never heard there of a case of that nature.P. 209.
A. I have been here better than two years, and during that time I have never known of any woman of Claddagh having had an illegitimate childindeed, I have never even heard of it.
Q. Have you ever known of any such case in Galway?
A. Oh, I think there have been some cases in town. Of my own knowledge I cannot say so, but I have heard of it. Ibid.
Q. How long have you been in charge of the Claddagh village?
A. I have been nine years here, for five years of which last March I have been in charge of Claddagh.
Q. During that time has there been an illegitimate child born there?
A. No, I have never heard of it, and if it had happened I should have been sure to have heard of it, as they wouldnt have allowed her to stop in the village.P. 210.
The reader will now be pleased to recollect that the production of food, flax, cotton, and other raw commodities requires hard labour and exposure, and it is for such labour men are fitted that the conversion of food, flax, and cotton into cloth requires little exertion and is unattended with exposure, and is therefore especially fitted for the weaker sex and that when the work of conversion is monopolized by people who live at a distance from the place of production, the woman and the child must be driven to the labour of the field; and therefore it is that we see the women and the children of Jamaica and Carolina, of Portugal and Turkey, of India and of Ireland, compelled to remain idle or to cultivate the land, because of the existence of a system which denies to all places in the world but one the power to bring the consumer to the side of the producer. It was time for woman to take up the cause of her sex, and it may be hoped that she will prosecute the inquiry into the causes of the demoralization and degradation of the women of so large a portion of the world, until she shall succeed in extirpating the system so long since denounced by the greatest of all economists, as a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of man [and woman] kind.
* * * * *
Centralization tends everywhere to the exhaustion of the land, and to its consolidation in fewer hands, and with every step in this direction man becomes less and less free to determine for whom he will work and what shall be his reward. That such has been the tendency in Jamaica, India, and Ireland, has been shown, and it is now proposed to show that the same tendency exists in Scotland, the Northern part of which has become exclusively agricultural as even its home manufactures have passed away, and must look to a distance for a market for all its products, involving, of course, a necessity for exhausting the land.
The Highland tacksman, originally co-proprietor of the land of the clan, became at first vassal, then hereditary tenant, then tenant at will, and thus the property in land passed from the many into the hands of the few, who have not hesitated to avail themselves of the power so obtained. The payment of money rents was claimed by them eighty years since, but the amount was very small, as is shown by the following passage from a work of that date:
The rent of these lands is very trifling compared to their extent, but compared to the number of mouths which a farm maintains, it will perhaps be found that a plot of land in the highlands of Scotland feeds ten times more people than a farm of the same extent in the richest provinces. Stewarts Political Economy, vol. i. chap. xvi.
Of some of the proceedings of the present century the following sketch is furnished by a recent English writer:
Even in the beginning of the 19th century the rental imposts were very small, as is shown by the work of Mr. Lock, (1820,) the steward of the Countess of Sutherland, who directed the improvements on her estates. He gives for instance the rental of the Kintradawell estate for 1811, from which it appears that up to then, every family was obliged to pay a yearly impost of a few shillings in money, a few fowls, and some days work, at the highest.
It was only after 1811 that the ultimate and real usurpation was enacted, the forcible, transformation of clan-property into the private property, in the modern sense, of the chief. The person who stood at the head of this economical revolution, was the Countess of Sutherland and Marchioness of Stafford.
Let us first state that the ancestors of the marchioness were the great men of the most northern part of Scotland, of very near three-quarters of Sutherlandshire. This county is more extensive than many French departments or small German principalities. When the Countess of Sutherland inherited these estates, which she afterward brought to her husband, the Marquis of Stafford, afterward Duke of Sutherland, the population of them was already reduced to 15,000. The countess resolved upon a radical economical reform, and determined upon transforming the whole tract of country into sheep-walks. From 1814 to 1820, these 15,000 inhabitants, about 3000 families, were systematically expelled and exterminated. All their villages were demolished and burned down, and all their fields converted into pasturage. British soldiers were commanded for this execution, and came to blows with the natives. An old woman refusing to quit her hut, was burned in the flames of it. Thus the countess appropriated to herself seven hundred and ninety-four thousand acres of land, which from time immemorial had belonged to the clan. She allotted to the expelled natives about six thousand acres two acres per family. These six thousand acres had been lying waste until then, and brought no revenue to the proprietors. The countess was generous enough to sell the acre at 2s. 6d. on an average, to the clan-men who for centuries past had shed their blood for her family. The whole of the unrightfully appropriated clan-land she divided into twenty-nine large sheep-farms, each of them inhabited by one single family, mostly English farm-labourers; and in 1821 the 15,000 Gaels had already been superseded by 131,000 sheep.
A portion of the aborigines had been thrown upon the sea-shore, and attempted to live by fishing. They became amphibious, and, as an English author says, lived half on land and half on water, and after all did not half live upon both.
Throughout the North of Scotland the tenants of the small grazing farms into which the Highland counties had been divided, have been ousted for the purpose of creating sheep-walks, and to such an extent has this been carried, that where once, and at no distant period, were numerous black-cattle farms, not an inhabitant is now to be seen for many miles. The work, too, is still going on. The example of Sutherland, says Mr. Thornton, is imitated in the neighbouring counties.
The misery of these poor people is thus described:
Hinds engaged by the year are seldom paid more than two-thirds of what they would receive in the South, and few of them are fortunate enough to obtain regular employment. Farm-servants, however, form only a small proportion of the peasantry, a much greater number being crofters, or tenants of small pieces of ground, from which they derive almost their whole subsistence. Most of them live very miserably. The soil is so poor, and rents in some instances so exorbitant, that occupiers of four or five acres can do little more than maintain themselves, yet it is their aid alone that saves their still poorer brethren from starvation. This is true even of Sutherland, which is commonly represented as a highly improved county, and in which a signal change for the better is said to have taken place in the character and habits of the people. Recent inquiry has discovered that even there, in districts once famous for fine men and gallant soldiers, the inhabitants have degenerated into a meagre and stunted race. In the healthiest situations, on hillsides fronting the sea, the faces of their famished children are as thin and pale as they could be in the foul atmosphere of a London alley.  Still more deplorable are the scenes exhibited in the Western Highlands, especially on the coasts and in the adjoining islands. A large population has there been assembled, so ill provided with any means of support, that during part of almost every year from 45,000 to 80,000 of them are in a state of destitution, and entirely dependent upon charity. Many of the heads of families hold crofts from four to seven acres in extent, but these, notwithstanding their small size, and the extreme barrenness of the soil, have often two, three, and sometimes even four families upon them. One estate in the Hebrides, the nominal rent of which is only £5200 a year, is divided into 1108 crofts, and is supposed to have more than 8300 persons living upon it. In another instance a rental of £1814 is payable (for little is really paid) by 365 crofters, and the whole population of the estate is estimated at more than 2300. In Cromarty, 1500 persons are settled upon an estate let nominally for £750, but paying not more than half that sum. Thornton, 74.
Of course, they live most wretchedly. Potatoes are the usual food, for oatmeal is considered a luxury, to be reserved for high days and holidays, but even potatoes are not raised in sufficient abundance. The years stock is generally exhausted before the succeeding crop is ripe, and the poor are then often in a most desperate condition, for the poor-law is a dead letter in the North of Scotland, and the want of a legal provision for the necessitous is but ill supplied by the spontaneous contributions of the land-owners. Ibid. 76.
At the moment of writing this, the journals of the day furnish information that famine prevails in the Hebrides, and that in the Isle of Skye alone there are 10,000 able-bodied persons at this time without work, without food, and without credit.
The condition of these poor people would certainly be much improved could they find some indulgent master who would purchase them at such prices as would make it to his interest to feed, clothe, and lodge them well in return for their labour.
In the days of Adam Smith about one-fifth of the surface of Scotland was supposed to be entailed, and he saw the disadvantages of the system to be so great that he denounced the system as being founded upon the most absurd of all suppositions the supposition that every successive generation of men have not an equal right to the earth and all that it possesses; but that the property of the present generation should be retained and regulated according to the fancy of those who died perhaps five hundred years ago. Instead of changing the system, and doing that which might tend to the establishment of greater freedom of trade in land, the movement has been in a contrary direction, and to such an extent that one-half of Scotland is now supposed to be entailed; and yet, singularly enough, this is the system advocated by Mr. McCulloch, a follower in the foot-steps of Adam Smith, as being the one calculated to render all classes more industrious, and to augment at the same time the mass of wealth and the scale of enjoyment.
The effects of the system are seen in the enormous rents contracted to be paid for the use of small pieces of land at a distance from market, the failure in the payment of which makes the poor cultivator a mere slave to the proprietor. How the latter use their power, may be seen by the following extract from a Canadian journal of 1851:
A Colonel -----, the owner of estates in South Uist and Barra, in the highlands of Scotland, has sent off over 1100 destitute tenants and cotters under the most cruel and delusive temptations; assuring them that they would be taken care of immediately on their arrival at Quebec by the emigrant agent, receive a free passage to Upper Canada, where they would be provided with work by the government agents, and receive grants of land on certain imaginary conditions. Seventy-one of the last cargo of four hundred and fifty have signed a statement that some of them fled to the mountains when an attempt was made to force them to emigrate. Whereupon, they add, Mr. Fleming gave orders to a policeman, who was accompanied by the ground officer of the estate in Barra, and some constables, to pursue the people who had run away among the mountains, which they did, and succeeded in capturing about twenty from the mountains and from other islands in the neighbourhood; but only came with the officers on an attempt being made to handcuff them, and that some who ran away were not brought back; in consequence of which four families, at least, have been divided, some having come in the ships to Quebec, while other members of the same families are left in the highlands.'
On board the Conrad and the Birman were 518 persons from Mull and Tyree, sent out by his grace the Duke of -----, who provided them with a free passage to Montreal, where on arrival they presented the same appearance of destitution as those from South Uist, sent out by Colonel -----, that is, entirely destitute of money and provisions.'
Numbers of these people perished, as we are told, of disease and want of food in the winter which followed their arrival in Canada; and that such would have been the case might naturally have been anticipated by those who exported them.
The wretched cotters who are being everywhere expelled from the land are forced to take refuge in cities and towns, precisely as we see now to be the case in Ireland. In Glasgow, says Mr. Thornton
There are nearly 30,000 poor Highlanders, most of them living in a state of misery, which shows how dreadful must have been the privations to which such misery is preferred. Such of them as are able-bodied obtain employment without much difficulty, and may not perhaps have much reason to complain of deficiency of the first requisites of life; but the quarter they inhabit is described as enclosing a larger amount of filth, crime, misery, and disease, than could have been supposed to exist in one spot in any civilized country. It consists of long lanes called wynds, so narrow that a cart could scarcely pass through them, opening upon closes, or courts, about 15 or 20 feet square, round which the houses, mostly three stories high, are built, and in the centre of which is a dunghill. The houses are occupied indiscriminately by labourers of the lowest class, thieves, and prostitutes, and every apartment is filled with a promiscuous crowd of men and women, all in the most revolting state of filth. Amid such scenes and such companions as these, thousands of the most intelligent of the Highlanders are content to take refuge, for it is precisely those who are best educated and best informed that are most impatient of the penury they have to endure at home.
The inhabitants of the Glasgow wynds and closes may be likened to those of the Liverpool cellars, or to those of the worst parts of Leeds, St. Giless, and Bethnal Green, in London; and every other class of the Scottish urban labouring population may likewise be delineated with the same touches (more darkened, however,) which have been used in describing the corresponding class in English towns. Manufacturing operatives are in pretty much the same position in both countries. Those of Scotland shared even more largely than their Southern brethren in the distress of 1840-2, when Paisley in particular exhibited scenes of wo far surpassing any thing that has been related of Bolton or Stockport. P. 77.
The extent to which these poor people have been driven from the land may be judged by the following statement of population and house-accommodation:
Population. Inhabited houses. Persons to a house. 1841 2,628,957 503,357 5.22 1851 2,870,784 366,650 7.83
Intemperance and immorality keep pace with the decline in the power of men over their own actions, as is shown in the following statement of the consumption of British spirits, under circumstances almost precisely similar as regards the amount of duty:
Duty. Gallons. 1802 3.10-½ 1,158,558 1831 3.4 5,700,689 1841 3.8 5,989,905 1851 3.8 6,830,710
In 1801 the population was 1,599,068, and since that time it has increased eighty percent, whereas the consumption of spirits has grown almost six hundred percent!
The poor people who are expelled from the land cannot be sold. The hammer of the auctioneer cannot be allowed to separate parents from children, or husbands from wives, but poverty, drunkenness, and prostitution produce a similar effect, and in a form even more deplorable. In the five years preceding 1840, every fifth person in Glasgow had been attacked by fever, and the deaths therefrom amounted to almost five thousand.
It is impossible to study the condition of this portion of the United Kingdom without arriving at the conclusion that society is rapidly being divided into the very rich and the very poor, and that the latter are steadily declining in their power of self-government, and becoming more and more slaves to the former. Centralization tends here, as everywhere, to absenteeism, and absenteeism, says Dr. Forbes of Glasgow
Is in its results everywhere the same. All the transactions and communications between the richer and the poorer classes, have thus substituted for them the sternness of official agency, in the room of that kind and generous treatment which, let them meet unrestrained, the more prosperous children of the same parent would in almost every case pay to their less fortunate brothers. *** Where the power of sympathy has been altogether or nearly abolished among the different ranks of society, one of the first effects appears in a yawning and ever-widening gulf of poverty which gathers round its foundations. As the lofty shore indicates the depth of the surrounding ocean, the proud pinnacles of wealth in society are the indices of a corresponding depression among the humbler ranks. The greatest misery of man is ever the adjunct of his proudest splendour.
Such are the results everywhere of that system which looks to converting England into a great workshop and confining the people of all other nations to the labours of the field. In Jamaica, it annihilated three-fifths of all the negroes imported, and it is now rapidly driving the remainder into barbarism and ultimately to annihilation. In the Southern States, it causes the export of men, women, and children, and the breaking up of families. In India, it has caused famines and pestilences, and is now establishing the slave trade in a new form. In Ireland, it has in half a century carried the people back to a condition worthy only of the darkest part of the Middle Ages, and is now extirpating them from the land of their fathers. In Scotland, it is rapidly dividing the population into two parts the master on one hand, and the slave on the other. How it has operated, and is now operating, in England itself, we may how examine.
1 Sophisms of Free Trade, by J. Barnard Byles, Esq.
2 Speech of Mr. T.F. Meagher, 1847.
The following paragraph from an Irish journal exhibits strikingly the amount of political freedom exercised at the scene of these evictions:
Lord Erne held his annual show in Ballindreat, on Monday, the 25th ult, and after having delivered himself much as usual in regard to agricultural matters, he proceeded to lecture the assembled tenants on the necessity of implicit obedience to those who were placed over them, in reference not only to practical agriculture, but the elective franchise. To such of the tenants as his lordship considered to be of the right stamp, and who proved themselves so by voting for Sir Edmund Hayes and Thomas Connolly, Esq., the 15 percent in full would be allowed to those who split their votes between one or other of these gentlemen and Campbell Johnston, Esq., 7-½ percent; but to the men who had the manliness to plump for Johnston, no reduction of rents would be allowed this year, or any other until such parties might redeem their character at another election. Cork Examiner, Nov. 8, 1852.
4 Thornton on Over-population, 248.
5 Ibid. 250.
6 McCulloch, Stat. Acct. of British Empire, vol. I. 315.
7 Times Newspaper, June 7th, 1844.
8 Report of Highland Emigration Committee, 1841.
9 Lectures on the Social and Moral Condition of the People, by various Ministers of the Gospel. Glasgow.