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of the most powerful agents in spreading the human race through the regions of the world, and extending man's dominion over tracts long deformed by the bowling wilderness, or tenanted by the savage beast. The question is not as Mr. Sadler would state it, as to the possible power of supporting a given increasing population either in Ireland or elsewhere; but as to the means actually at any time available for that purpose, and it therefore applied as forcibly to Ireland, when only inhabited by two millions of starving kerns and gallow-glasses, as it does now when the two have multiplied to seven. The means of subsistence have increased, principally by the in. troduction and general use of potatoes, perbaps, so as to afford more actual food to each individual of the latter number, than was the portion of each of the former; and the resources of the country are better understood and better developed than they were ; but it may still be true that the population presses against the means of subsistence, which in the instance of Ireland is peculiarly precarious, and it is no reply to point to the quantity of untilled land that might be brought into cultivation, or the quantity of corn that is raised for foreign consumption. So long as the peasant wants capital to till the former, and money to purchase and consume the latter; so long as a market is deficent for the produce of the one, and that the grain raised by the Irish labourer goes necessarily to feed not himself but his neighbour, so long is it the same thing to him as if it did not exist; and without wishing to apply any
of Mr. Malthus's correctives, except the moral restraint, we cannot but feel a persuasion that the population is superabundant, not for the capabilities, but the actual state of the country, and so long do we deem that surplusage a call upon the benevolence and humanity of those to whom the population is entrusted, to provide employment for their industry, and to give habits and information that may tend to counteract the evils of their circumstances.
We have gone much farther into this subject than we had intended, but we thought it necessary to make these observations on the vehemence with which Mr. Sadler's good nature opposes every part of the population theory, and we think that understood in the way we have explained it, the principle contains a truth not indeed very remarkable for its depth or originality, but certainly one that had been, perhaps, not sufficiently attended to by economists before the time of Mr. Malthus, one of serious importance in all practical inquiries, and when not taken into consideration, deeply melancholy in its details. The observations have been principally in reference to that part of Mr. Sadler's work, in which he endeavours to prove from a reference to authentic documents that in. former periods Ireland was no less wretched than at present, although her population bore a far less proportion than at present to the capabilities of the country. So far as concerns the facts there can be no doubt of Mr. Sadler's accuracy, and it is even probable, as he asserts, that there is a greater quantity of food for each individual than formerly; but it should be remembered, that the progress of a country must be compared not merely with their own former state but with the progress of their neighbours, and if it appear that
the Irish peasantry have not improved so as to equal their Eng. lish brethren, nay have so little advanced that in food, and fuel, and cloathing, and habitations, they are rather to be compared with the pictures drawn by Swift and Dobbs of their ancestors in the seventeenth century, than with any thing now visible in these countries, then it is surely idle to speak of the fertility of the soil which the peasant cannot enjoy, or the richness of the crops that he is not to taste. It may be that an excessive population is not the cause of the degraded state of Ireland, but it is certainly a concomitant; and like most circumstances in political economy, it is alternately a cause and an effect, the result of our foliy, or neglect being by even-handed justice, converted into the fruitful source of our punishment.
Mr. Sadlertraces all the evils of Ireland to one melancholy source Absenteeism; an evil originally resulting from the mode in which Ireland was conquered, and subsequently settled or rather unsettled; and which has been perpetuated and continued to the present times, by the profligacy and carelessness of too many of our landed proprietors. This from the abstraction of capital, and the neglect of reciprocal duty produces all the effects necessarily flowing from the want of a resident gentry, and the want of the presence of a landlord ; such as underletting, minute subdivisions of land, rackrents, clearings, drivings, and all the other evils of which Irish peasants are the heirs—hence too arise poverty, idleness, and ignorance, its constant concomitants, and vice and misery its attendants; hence too, disease and famine with all their ghastly horrors. Mr. Sadler quotes largely from the interesting work published by Drs. Barker and Cheyne, on the late typhus fever, a volume probably known to many of our readers, but we cannot refuse them the following animated and too just apostrophe, nor the curious and melancholy note :
“ But, to pass over many of the minor evils of absenteeism unnoticed, let us, lastly, show its character in a still more awful point of view-namely, its heartless conduct in times of general sickness and distress, which are but too common in Ireland, and, in no slight degree, attributable to this, its unnatural desertion..... These desertions necessarily caused that want of employment, that poverty, and that despondency and dejection of mind, which are declared to have been the predisposing causes of the infection ; the last of which rendered it, it is said, almost invariably fatal. The resident gentry, indeed, covered themselves with immortal honour on the trying occasion : they very generally gave “ employment as far as possible to all the poor that applied for it, and fed multitudes who must otherwise have perished ;” but these, alas ! were few, and often at great distances, and in that case the suffering was greatly heightened. Thus it appears, that absenteeism was often the direct cause of the calamity, which it always aggravated.
“ In that awful season, from every quarter of Ireland, there came from the death-bed- - bed, did I say ! from the scanty straw which spread the cold ground in many a temporary shed ; in such as which, were the pampered beast of many a proud absentee put for a single night, he would probably make the air ring with his reproofs ; but which were crowded with grateful and patient sufferers, with the infected, the dying, and the dead: from scenes'like these, I
say, there came a voice as audible as if it had been pealed forth in thunder :“ 1–1, whose labour has supplied all your wants, and supported your grandeur ; contenting myself with the refuse, in order to satisfy your exaction, till even that failed me, and I sank-I was sick—and ye- DESERTED ME!" It is over! Their victims have given up the ghost, unheeded and even unheard ; and how should it be otherwise : Pursue the absentee into the scenes in which he is expending, in a single night, what would have delivered one of his dependent families from destruction, and which another description of absentees are receiving. Can it be expected that the last sigh with which the famished wretch takes leave of life should be allowed to untune, for a moment, the 66 Italian thrills" which rayish his refined ears? or that he should withdraw for an instant the eager gaze with which he pursues the “gesturous dance,' to bestow it, or a thought with it, on the convulsive death-throes he has occasioned or that the stake should be withdrawn from the hazard-table, to throw it into the scale, trembling with the fate of numbers, which it would cause to mount up to life and happiness ? The very idea is laughable
In a note Mr. Sadler adds,
“ Perhaps, however, I have gone too far in saying that no relief, in this dreadful period of universal distress, was, on the faith of the representations which were made of its existence, seconded by the personal applications, administered to their suffering and dying dependents, by these absentees....... Candour, however, obliges me to say that it is not strictly correct. 66 In the calamitous summer of 1822,” I find that "a subscription was made for the relief of the poor of a certain district, by the resident gentry, landowners, and clergy, Application was made to the absentee proprietors, who annually abstracted from that country £83,000. Their subscriptions altogether amounted to eightythree pounds !” I am perfectly willing to admit this interesting fact, while thus recording the evils of absenteeism.”—pp. 50—59.
Having disposed with much justice and force of the justification which modern science has attempted for absenteeism, our Author proceeds to discuss the various expedients proposed to remedy the evils of Ireland ; and in emigration and clearing, he discovers equally impolicy and cruelty, while the impossibility of at once or under present circumstances, changing the habits of the people,* and the gross injustice of the only remaining proposed expedient an ecclesiastical confiscation, are well pointed out.' Mr. Sadler's own remedies are a legislative enactment, permitting absentee proprietors to break the entail of their Irish estates, and to settle them on younger branches conditionally on their residence in Ireland ; a regulated poor-rate, to which all absentee property and all underletting should contribute doubly, and an effectual legislative protection for Irish agriculture. We doubt very much whether the former of these plans would be practicable, and we are quite sure, that however desirable it may be to compel absentees to contribute to the support of wretchedness wbich they have mainly produced, it is not likely to be effected, while the propositions must have the sanction of the very absentees themselves. We sball, therefore, say nothing about the exceeding delicacy of the ex. pedient, or the difficulty in carrying it into effect, and distinguishing in a legislative enactment between the absentee for health, and the absentee for economy, and the absentee from choice, neither shall we take up the much disputed subject of the poor laws, and their applicability to Ireland. We fear that Mr. Sadler's affection for these laws has been stimulated by the undeserved odium cast on them by the disciples of the modern school of political economy, and while we think that he has successfully vindicated them in many instances, we would yet be anxious that the Committees recently appointed to examine many of their particular parts and bearing, had presented their reports and ascertained the full nature of the enactments,* before we would be called on to give a decided opinion upon the subject.
* Mr. Sadler's observations on the former of these are in the main just, though we are convinced that a voluntary and a moral restraint delaying the period of marriage, would in Ireland be an incalculable blessing, though for that blessing we would not part with the character usually ascribed to our peasantry; and his remarks on the property possessed by the Church are judicious and liberal-he clearly proves that Church property does not affect the peasant, and if it were to be confiscated to-morrow that it would not benefit him—that so far from it being divided among the poor, it would only make Ireland poorer, by being probably in a great measure swallowed up by absentees, and, then instead of having some substitute for an absent gentry, the peasant would be left to the tender mercies of the land-bailiff and the middleman. We highly recommend the whole passage.
"This has the appearance, and we fear the reality, of a sad rambling article; but when an Irishman who feels for his country becomes occupied by her situation, he little knows whither his hobby will carry him. We would return to the point whence we started, and while, as Irishmen, we confess our obligation to Mr. Sadler, for having bestowed upon us and our concerns a little good feeling and a little common sense, we would venture to say to him, and to his and our readers, that his book affords a very inadequate view of Ireland, its evils, and their remedies. One master evil has been omitted, which extends its blighting influence over the country, producing or increasing all the others'; one that of itself is quite sufficient to generate all the noxious elements that afflict our state of society, and yet an evil to which neither poor-rates nor protecting duties can afford a real and permanent remedy
* We have read with much pleasure the opinions of the Committee appointed to consider the propriety of that part of the poor-laws by which able-bodied labourers in work claim support from the parish ;- the principle of the poorrates, is so obviously opposed to this practice, and it can be so clearly shewn to be an innovation productive of great mischief, that we are surprised it could ever have been established even as a temporary expedient. We may add, that an application of the poor-laws to Ireland, where jobbing is proverbial, should be tried with great caution, when all the experience and practical good sense of England has not been able to preserve them from abuses there. We would ask, with great submission, would it be impracticable to apply to the county-cess, and all the other uncertain and vexatious drains upon the small Irish farmer, the remedy that has so successfully been tried in the case of tithes ? . It would, by throwing the responsibility and burthen on the landlord, give him an interest in the examination of the money raised ; and, by throwing it into the rent, the occupier would know what his expenses were to be, and would be better able to provide for them, than under the existing arrangement. We do not know if the plan would be practicable--we are sure it would be useful.
we mean the domination of Popery. It is now above three years, since in sober, yet sad earnest, we declared our conviction, that the great evil of Ireland was the prevailing superstition, and the events that have since occurred have but confirmed those convictions. During the three years that have elapsed, we have seen much that adds force to our belief, and nothing that has shaken it, and although we have lost some political, and we fear that we must say some religious friends by our adherence to these sentiments we are still compelled to say, that Popery is the great evil of Ireland—that in our situation nothing effectual for the country can be done until its influence be abated, and that without the extension of just principles, and the inculcation of pure religion, and the subsequent emancipation of the peasant from priestly thraldom, all attempts at improving the condition of Ireland must be attended with but partial success, and must anticipate opposition and failure. We shall not in the observations we have to offer, press merely upon the state of subjection* in which our peasantry are placed, and kept by Popery; but would ask our readers to consider its bearings also, on the higher class of society, how it influences and modifies social intercourse in this country, and even concurs with other causes to generate that purely Irish mischief, absenteeism; for while we deem that to be an offence against our country scarcely to be palliated, and would be the last to offer excuse or apology for so palpable a dereliction of duty, as is implied in the forsaking of country and the obligations connected with it, we still deem it right to examine into some of the causes that have produced this lamentable effect, nor do we hesitate to say, that to Popery too many of its mischiefs are owing,
It will be seen, that we are very far from denying the truth or accuracy of Mr. Sadler's statements; a picture, whose colours were even more gloomy, would reflect truly the features of our unhappy country; it is not the reality of Mr. Sadler's view, but the adequacy of his causes which we call in question; and to evince that the effects are to be attributed to some. thing more than he has assigned, or perhaps any of the economists of the day, it will be only necessary to cast our eyes on the northern part of our island. Every cause suggested by our Author, exists there in as luxuriant vigour as elsewhere; as
• One, and perhaps the most remarkable proof of this has been had in the exhibition of sobriety and quietness that lately took place in the Clare Election. To the astonishment of Protestants, and we dare say of Papists themselves, the whiskey-loving and head-breaking Pats at the mandate of their respective Popes, became suddenly converted into sober and peaceful person. ages, and scarcely a shillelagh was wielded, or a glass emptied during that period, which is usually regarded as the very carnival for such purposes. Let Irishmen who weep over the inmorality of their poor degraded countrymen, look at this exhibition of priestly power; let them consider that this was an exertion to serve a temporal, a political purpose, and that it is not on record that for a spiritual, a purely religious object, the priesthood has assumed such an aspectoh, what an awful responsibility lies at the door of those who thus prove that they could control the unruly passions of the wretched Irish peasantry, and who will not !