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future enemies, in distant quarters; peopling the northern deserts of America, or the arid regions of Southern Africa, or even the continent and remote islands of the Southern Ocean, and thus, in a vast plurality of cases, terminating human misery, instead of relieving it. Such is the policy which is now beginning to be recommended from high places, even as it regards England: the very "thews and sinews". of the empire are to be transferred to distant climes, in order to increase our internal prosperity and strength! Regarding the latter, they may, indeed, differ a little at present; but, touching Ireland, the greatest unanimity prevails: Ireland must be depopulated to be enriched.
(3.) Notwithstanding this ominous union of opinion amongst our economists, there are happily certain obstacles which oppose the fulfilment of their views; such as the common sense and humane feelings of the British people; and these are rendered insuperable (thanks, this once, to our poverty,) by our total inability to carry such antinational schemes into execution. Still, however, a mere theoretical adherence to such notions is in the highest degree mischievous, because it occupies the place of those enlightened and liberal views which would dictate a better policy, and stands in the way of those patriotic exertions which might, and, in this age, assuredly would, ameliorate the condition of that unhappy country, and which, by developing its manifold resources, would scatter blessings over an improving. and a prosperous people. But before I proceed to examine and expose the pernicious errors of the
modern theory in reference to Ireland, and attempt, in turn, to point out what I conceive to be its "bane and antidote," I will here insert a table, exhibiting its population at the different periods specified, when attempts were made to ascertain it. We are not to infer that these numbers (with the exception, however, of the last, which are the result of actual enumeration) are correct; a variety of circumstances, existing in most countries, and some important ones peculiar to Ireland, prevent us from so supposing. We may, however, reasonably conclude, that the inaccuracy lies on the side of deficiency throughout, and especially in the remoter periods.
Synoptical View of the Estimated Population of Ireland.
Number of Souls.
1695 Captain South
1712 Thomas Dobbs, Esq.
1718 The same
1725 The same
1726 The same
1767 The same
1777 The same
1785 The same
1788 Gervais Parker Bushe, Esq.
By this table, the population of Ireland appears to have doubled about once in every sixty-five years, a great rate of increase, if the emigration which has taken place from thence, for at least a century past, and which was relatively far the largest in the former part of that period, is taken into the account; for I
totally differ with those who pronounce emigration, under such, or indeed any circumstances, to be " immaterial" in its effects upon the progress of popu→ lation. To this drain must be added those losses, whether arising from intestine tumults and rebellions, or frequent and fatal epidemics, which, during a far more extended period, have been almost peculiar to Ireland. The increase, though thus checked and impeded, is doubtless very large, and is in strict accordance with the principle of population for which I contend; it conforms to the facts, and is confirmed by the physiology upon which that principle is founded while the wretchedness with which, in this exempt case, these enlarging numbers are still accompanied, instead of confronting the true theory of human increase, is precisely that sort of exception which establishes its truth.
§ II. (1.) But, before I prove this, I shall, in the first place, examine the arguments of those who, holding the modern notion on the principle of population, attribute the distress and degradation of Ireland to excessive numbers; and who exultingly point to that country, as fully demonstrating all the dogmas they have advanced. A very short consideration of the subject will, I think, suffice to abate the confidence of such, if not finally to destroy it altogether.
These, then, I would first ask, is Ireland overpeopled in reference to its potential produce?
On the contrary, even on the showing of the Emigration Committee, there are in Ireland, at the present time, at least 4,900,000 acres of productive land un
cultivated, independently of 2,416,664 acres deemed (on what authority I know not) incapable of improvement'. These immense tracts, a little of the constantly abstracted capital of the country might, and would, bring into the most luxuriant state, as their cultivation should become necessary; while the very act of reclaiming these would be the means of correcting the management of the rest, now imperfectly improved, so as to produce the means of human subsistence in quantities it would not be easy to calculate, certainly far beyond the possible consumption of double the present inhabitants of the entire island, (to take a far lower estimate than any which agricul ture presents to us,) even were the people as much improved in their mode of living as they would be increased in numbers. In the mean time, while Nature has provided the amplest means for this amelioration, and solicits from us their improvement, is she, or "human institutions'," chargeable with the misery which their neglect occasions? Is the principle of our policy, or that of population, to blame as it respects Ireland? In a word, are these sufferings, under such circumstances, chargeable upon man or upon GOD?
(2.) But, to disencumber the question of all those calculations which a reference to the potential produce of the country involves, and of which political economy would avail itself, in order to "darken counsel" by obscure definitions and abstract discussions, neither intelligible nor interesting to the mass of mankind;
1 Minutes of evidence before the Emigration Committee, Third Report, p. 361.
Mr. Malthus would say, the laws of nature.-Essay, p. 367.
let us, secondly, ask the advocates of the new theory of population, who, as before noticed, imagine they prove their point by a reference to Ireland, is Ireland, leaving totally out of consideration its possible fertility, overpeopled in reference to its actual produce?
This, again, I must answer as before. Most certainly not; but very much to the contrary: and to this answer, and its necessary consequences, I must call the serious attention of the advocates of absenteeism, to whom I shall address myself more particularly hereafter. Ireland, instead of not producing sufficient for the sustenance of its inhabitants, produces far more than they ever consume, exporting a greater quantity of its edible products than probably any other country of equal extent in the whole world. I had collected the annual returns of its exports of this nature for a series of years past, when, at the moment I was inserting them, a condensated statement of them, at a period particularly calculated to put the question to the severest test, met my eye. It is contained in a useful little work, entitled "Statistical Illustrations," in the emphatic language of whose author I shall present it. "With an ignorance and pertinacity presumptuous as the expatiations and assertions adverted to above are fallacious and delusive" (alluding to some previous remarks on absenteeism), “it is asserted that the misery of Ireland arises from an excess of population beyond the power of the country to supply subsistence; but, in the face of such assertion, and whilst an appeal was being made in England to rescue Ireland from famine, and a subscription of £304,181, in 1822, was raised on