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prived of the most powerful means of being useful. At present, the rector of a parish is forced into never-ending disputes with the peasantry who surround him. It is almost impossible that he should gain their confidence, or secure their affections. The tythe system frustrates his best efforts, and makes him an object of fear and jealousy. Remove this obstacle; and though the unfortunate differences of faith prevent his being a religious instructor, he may become a moral guide-he must be looked up to as a friend and protector. No cause of disunion will then exist between him and the peasantry; and the virtues and benevolence which we are certain exist among the Irish clergy, would have a free scope for their expansion and exercise. "The parish minister would thus seek in his cottage him whom religious profession did not permit to attend in church; and having won his good will by a thousand little acts of kindness and good neighbourhood, for which the casualties of life are ever making room, would breathe the spirit, cultivate the feelings, and instil the doctrines, which are not of the Church of England, or of the Church of Rome, but of the Church of Christ."
We have already shown, that, by the ratio of increase in which the population of Ireland has augmented since 1791, it is likely to double itself in forty-five years. We do not intend undertaking any estimate of the proportion between population and subsistence, for a more immediate danger exists than any resulting from a future and contingent deficiency of supply;-we allude to the fatal disproportion between the number of the people, and the mode of employing them. It would be difficult to find, in any other country, the same mass of unemployed human power which exists in Ireland. Divided as the surface of the land is, into small farms, when the tillage of a field is completed, the peasant has but few motives or opportunities afforded to him of further exertion; and supported on a description of food the easiest raised, and the most abundant in produce, the industry of one month may seem to afford a sanction for the inaction of eleven. Inaction is always dangerous; mischievous to the individual who indulges in it, and fatal to the state where it is encouraged. Whatever can raise the condition of the peasantry in the scale of society, whatever stimulates his industry by new wants, will tend to promote industry itself, and to check the growth of a population augmenting in proportion to the miserable means of support within its reach. The taxation of Ireland has been so oppressive, as to place many of the necessaries, and almost all the comforts, of life, out of the reach of the lower or
* Thoughts on the Education of the Irish Poor.
ders. In a country without woods, such a duty has been imposed on foreign timber, as to make it nearly impossible for the ordinary farmer to acquire either a good house or comfortable furniture. The coat which the peasant wears, the blanket which is to cover his children, the few articles of furniture which he requires, all contribute to the exigencies of the state before they can enter the cottage. The result is, that he endeavours to do without, rather than to acquire them, and that the mere support of animal existence is all he seeks to secure. Vita dum superest bene est, is the motto of the Irish peasant; and he is left in a situation where he has but little to lose, and where every change seems likely to be for the better. The taxation of Ireland has since the Union augmented in a proportion much greater than even the taxation of England. In 1750, so far from there existing any Irish national debt, there was a surplus treasure in the exchequer, amounting to several hundred thousand pounds. This surplus was transferred to England by a king's letter, and the course of taxation proceeded undiminished. During the fifteen years preceding the Union, a debt of 41,000,000l. was created during the fifteen years subsequent to that event, the debt had swelled to 148,000,000l., being 47,000,000l. more than the total revenue on which the Irish contribution had been calculated. It is true, that since the consolidation of the exchequer in the two countries, the payment of much of this debt has been cast on England; but taxation has not been reduced as it ought in the sister country, made bankrupt already by the lavish expenditure of the year succeeding the Union. We have ourselves seen the tax-gatherer's progress in Ireland, attended with military pomp and parade, and the levies collected at the point of the bayonet. "This taxation," as was well stated by Mr. Plunkett, "was imposed on civilization; and was calculated to restrain those improvements in which Ireland would find prosperity, and England security. Every house of a better description built in Ireland, was a hostage for its connection with Great Britain; it gave the inhabitants something to be protected by the laws, and tended to check that excess of population, in consequence of which all thoughts must be turned towards the mere necessaries of life, and its comforts must be disregarded *."
Nor does our objection to existing taxes rest solely on the dif ficulty they create in the acquisition of the articles taxed: in some cases they operate as prohibitions; in others, as bounties on smuggling. Thus, the duties on spirits have produced a race of men trained up to illicit distillation, connected together by secret
• Return of Inspector of Prisons, printed Session 1821.
association, prepared to defend themselves in arms against the soldier, the gauger, and the constable; encouraged in too many cases by magistrates and landlords, and prepared to apply to all other matters the principle of resistance, which they have learned in their conflicts with the exciseman. During the last six years*, 5352 individuals have been committed to prison for illicit distillation, and 3963 have been actually convicted. These persons, guilty of offences ranking less among the mala in se, than among the mala prohibita, have been sentenced to imprisonment, have shared in all the vice and misery of a gaol, have completed their apprenticeship in crime, and have been discharged as emissaries to teach all that is most wicked and most dangerous, to the population on which they are set loose. Can a system be tolerated, which thus increases by one-eighth the total number of offences brought under the notice of the law? The cottage of the illicit distiller becomes "the trysting place," where deeds of murder and violence are planned. The magistrates and country gentlemen, who from selfish motives of profit have encouraged the illegal manufacture of spirits, are placed in the power of the lower orders. If they threaten the peasant with the constable, he may hand them over to the exciseman, and a loss of all weight and respectability of character on the one hand, and an impunity for crime on the other, follow as fatal but inevitable consequences.
If the government of Ireland is sought to be adapted to the country over which it presides, a very considerable alteration in its constitution should take place. At present, the secretaryship for Ireland is considered either as a school for inexperienced politicians, or as a perch from whence the more mature statesman may wing his flight for a higher region. The most difficult and arduous task in the administration of the empire is confided either to those who do not possess experience, or to those who are recalled before they can apply usefully the experience they have gained. In short, in the plan of official education now pursued, those classical authors Dyche and Cocker are taken out of the hands of the tyro, who is taught reading out of the Philosophy of Bacon, and arithmetic from the Principia of Newton. "We have sometimes seen a secretary with every summer and a system with every secretary." Statesmen who are merely birds of passage, can scarcely act for themselves; they must necessarily fall into the hands of subordinate official men; a wretched coterie of third- or fourth-rate politicians is likely to arise, neither sufficiently enlightened nor liberal to direct
* Parliamentary Debates, 1819.
the energies of the country to purposes of real national improvement, though fully capable of monopolizing power and patronage, and of deciding all questions, even the appointment and removal of their superiors, by low and miserable intrigue.
No steady and consistent prosecution of the interests of the public can be expected, where the real administration is liable to be warped by local passions and personal prejudices, and where the responsible minister is so perpetually changed, as to prevent any plan of improvement from being brought to a fair and successful issue. "Whoso cometh next in place," says Spenser, "doth not follow the course, however good, which his predecessor held, but will straight take a way quite contrary to the former; as if the former thought by keeping under the Irish to reform them; the next by discouraging the English will curry favour with the Irish, and so make the government seem plausible, as having all the Irish at his command. But he that comes after will perhaps neither follow the one nor the other, but will dandle the one and the other in such sort, as he will sucke sweet out of both, and leave bitternesse to the poor countrie. Even as two physicians should take a sick body in hand at two sundrie times, of which the former would minister all things meet to purge and keep under the body, the other to pamper and strengthen it suddainly again; whereof what is to be looked for, but a most dangerous relapse*?"
Considering, as we do, that the government of Ireland is a task of the greatest difficulty, requiring a combination of ability, experience, discretion, kindness of heart and firmness of mind, we are inclined to think that it should not be considered an office of secondrate importance, nor confided to the hands of second-rate politicians. It should be made an object sufficient to satisfy the most lofty and towering ambition; not by augmenting its already ample emoluments, but by placing it, in cabinet honours, on a level with the most distinguished prizes in the political lottery. Ireland would not then have to regret the loss of an able minister, whom ambition might prompt to quit her service. Ireland would not then be treated as the workshop of the apprentice or journeyman; but would be considered a station where the scientific artist might display his skill and his most successful ingenuity.
Our observations have hitherto been applied to the political and physical circumstances of Ireland. We shall conclude an article, already but too long, by some remarks on the state of the moral and religious instruction of the Irish peasantry. No person at all acquainted with the country can doubt that there is in ireland to the full as great, if not a greater proportion of the peasantry instructed
Spenser, p. 147.
in mere reading and writing, than can be found on the eastern shores of the Irish channel. This general diffusion of the education of letters has proceeded from various causes, unnecessary at this moment to particularize. One of these causes may however, from its singularity, be noticed. We are convinced that the paper currency has contributed materially to the extension of education, and the diffusion of the English language; a result which it would have required some ingenuity to anticipate.
But though education is widely diffused, it is a species of education of the most questionable advantage. The books read, are frequently prejudicial to the best interests of society. We have now in our possession the Life of a noted highwayinan, containing a most vivid picture of his adventures and crimes, "his hair-breadth 'scapes and perilous instances" from the first opening of his career, and closing by a cheering account of his pardon through the influence of a noble protector. In order to render such a publication more classically attractive, an Appendix is subjoined, containing what bears the title of "The History of Sir John Falstaff." This work we found in an Irish country school, forming the text book for the instruction of the young, bearing the name of a printer who promises in the title page "great encouragement to country dealers." We have only selected this book as a specimen; others of the same character, but of a still more objectionable tendency, are in many instances placed in the hands of the young, whose principles and feelings are thus tainted at the source. Is it wonderful that the youth of the country, who have thus learned to admire as heroic the deeds of rapine and violence of the robber and murderer, should imitate the acts on which their minds have been accustomed to dwell with interest and delight? Trained up in such a school, we may but too frequently find among the peasantry of modern times, a representative of the kerne and gallowglasses of the days of Spenser, or of those chieftains "who did never eat their meat till they had won it by the sword; who made the day their night, and the night their day; who did light their candle at the flames of their foemen's houses, and whose music was not the harpe nor layes of love, but the cryes of people, and the clashing of armor."
It is not of the want of education, but of its misdirection among the Irish poor, that we complain. Is it surprising that bad principles thus carefully instilled into the youthful mind, should, in after life, be openly professed and daringly exemplified? The instructors who direct this course of study are a peculiar race of men, rarely to be found in any country. The portrait of one of these apostles of mischief has been lately drawn by a most vigorous pencil; and the resemblance is so correct, that we are tempted to extract the entire