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while a captain, was indebted for the distinguished command of the expeditions to the coast of France in the Seven Years' War.
• The moral and physical character of these two officers was very similar. The same personal qualities and constitution of mind were common to each; resolution, with undaunted courage, united with patience, perseverance, and indefatigable attention to their professional duties ; modesty and diffidence were the characteristics of both.
Howe, on one or two occasions only, spoke in Parliament-Anson never. Howe has been represented as silent as a rock ; Anson is called, by the same writer, the silent son-in-law of the chancellor. Howe was a family man, and seldom appeared in society; Ansun was said to have been “ round the world, but never in it." Howe's character was strongly marked by benevolence, humanity, and generosity; and Anson's was not less so. Both were firmly attached to the naval service; and it is so far remarkable that both should have had the opportunity of giving the first blow to the French navy, by each having gained the first victory in two general wars.'
We have room for only one more extract from this interesting volume; and as it relates to one of the officers whom it was Anson's great merit to have brought forward, and touches on a point of professional importance, we are sure it will be read with interest.
• Sir Edward Hawke had no great affection for fighting in line of battle, and he was probably right. There never was, and perhaps never will be, a decisive battle fought where the line on both sides is preserved, or attempted to preserved. Such a battle is little more than a sort of field-day; the two lines proceed parallel to each other at a certain distance, within cannon-shot, fire at each other in passing, tack or wear, or wheel round, going through the same process, consuming daylight in their several maneuvres, and separating, each their own way in the evening. It is absolutely necessary that a large fleet should form the line, in order to keep the ships together, and each in its own division, that the commander-in-chief may know where to find them ; but Hawke, like Nelson, thought only of attacking the first ship of his opponent he might be able to come up with. The plan of Rodney, Howe, St Vincent, and Nelson, dashing through the enemy's line, and throwing it into confusion, and then attacking, ship to ship, is the sure way of arriving at a decisive result. M. Charles Dupin, who knows more of naval matters than most of the French officers, and is now in the department of the Minister of Marine, successfully ridicules what he terms “ the pious respect of his countrymen for the sacred order of the line of battle," to which he says “ the combined fleets were sacrificed at Trafalgar.” While Nelson advanced in two close columns to overwhelm the centre of this “ sacred line," the two wings remained immovable: they were “ in line," (he says)," and that was enough; and in this position they looked on,
avec une effrayante impassibilité,' until the centre was destroyed ; then, and not till then, forgetting all respect for the sacred order of the line, they thought, not of seeking to remedy any part of the evil, but of making their escape.".
Art. VI.-Reports of the Commissioners appointed to consider and
recommend a General System of Railways for Ireland. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by command of her
Majesty. Folio. London: 1838. We have here before us the results of a Commission, issued in
the last year of the reign of his late Majesty, to enquire into, and report upon, a subject of the utmost moment to the empire, and one respecting which it was above all things desirable to possess such a mass of information as is here collected; and to have the opinions and conclusions of men, not only competent in the highest degree to conduct such an enquiry, but on the inpendence of whose judgment the public might rely with entire confidence.
Although the improvement of Ireland was the main object contemplated by the government in setting on foot the seasonable enquiry of which this able document is the fruit, it did not follow, that the attention of the Commissioners was to be strictly limited thereto: accordingly, we observe with satisfaction that their views have taken a more extended range, comprising (as it is to be desired that all considerations regarding Ireland should comprise) those broader interests of the United Kingdom in which those of Ireland are involved.
The Commissioners have enquired into the moral and physical condition of the Irish people: they state the appalling and apparently anomalous fact, that, while Ireland has made considerable progress in improvement, and manifests signs of increasing wealth, the condition of her labouring population has not advanced at an equal rate, but is even more wretched than it has been ; they seek a remedy for this enormous evil, and find it in the establishment of works of such a magnitude as may afford extensive present employment, and create constantly increasing demands for labour. Having shown the influence of railways in developing the resources of a country, and thereby improving the situation of its people, they conclude, that the establishment of a system of railways would answer the important end sought for in Ireland, by giving large employment to her peasantry, and striking out new paths of industry. They consider, that separate and isolated lines would not accomplish the important public objects aimed at; and recommend a combined system, in which the joint traffic of many places and districts would pass over one common line. The relative importance of different districts is then exhibited ; and from data, the accuracy of which has not been questioned, the Commissioners describe the general direction of the main trunk lines which would, in the aggregate, give the greatest return upon the capital employed in their construction; and, finally, they discuss the important and disputed question, whether a work so essentially national should be undertaken by the state, or left to the energy and control of individual enterprise; and they adopt the former branch of the alternative. In the progress of these reasonings and calculations, the Commissioners present a statistical survey of Ireland, the most accurate and useful that has yet been submitted to the public.
We have given to this valuable document all that consideration which its vast importance demands. We perceive that the accuracy of its statistical statements has been admitted in all the various discussions to which its recommendations have given rise. We have given to those recommendations the best attention of which we are capable, and the result of it is, that we concur with the Commissioners in their views; and rejoice to find that the government has adopted the luminous and benevolent propositions contained in the Report.
In thus acting, the Government has only followed up the course of policy which has guided all its proceedings respecting Ireland. A plan for the employment of the people is a legitimate sequel of that great system of measures, which has had for its objects to dispel their ignorance, and civilize their habits. It follows a scheme of national education, the establishment of an excellent police, and the other reforms and improvements which, within the last ten years, have been effected by the liberal party in Ireland, in natural and just order; being, in truth, indispensable to the completion and consolidation of all other reforms and improvements. When we find the public attention at length forcibly attracted, and about to be concentrated, upon the distressed condition of the mass of the Irish population, which we have ever regarded as the worst distemper of the country, we cannot but feel that we have advanced a great step in the career of useful legislation. We may indulge the gratifying reflection that we have not laboured ineffectually in the earnest efforts we have repeatedly made to remove the obstacles to the discussion of this main question. The time is fresh in our memory, when the multitude of exciting topics that divided public men upon Irish affairs, caused us almost to despair of ever attaining the favourable position we now occupy, for considering a subject in practical importance beyond them all. The Catholic question has been set at rest; the question of Education has been carried ; the grievance of Tithes, as far as it involved the public peace, and fostered crime and insubordination, has been redressed. We are far from under-rating the value of these great steps; we advocated them strenuously, and of their intrinsic importance none can be more assured. They would be generally estimated more highly than they are, were it not that evils of greater magnitude than even civil inequality and popular ignorance, remain to be corrected.
To present these evils distinctly to the view of the public,—to solicit their attention to a subject of such urgent moment—to consider the adequacy of the remedy proposed by the Commissioners, and sanctioned by her Majesty's Ministers,—and to determine the mode in which that remedy ought to be applied, are the points to which we shall apply ourselves in the following observations.
The population of Ireland at this moment is upwards of eight millions ; amounting to nearly one-third of the entire population of the United Kingdom. The swift rate at which it has advanced may be judged from the fact, that in 1791 it was under four millions and a half. In fact, it has doubled in the space of fifty years! The causes of so rapid a multiplication of the human species we have often had occasion to explain ; and to enter at large upon the subject again here would be unseasonable and superfluous. Suffice it to repeat that it arose chiefly from two causes,-first, certain defects in the law of landed property, which, up to the passing of the valuable sub-letting act, deprived the Irish landlords of all effectual guarantee against the continual division and subdivision of their estates : secondly, it is in a great measure to be ascribed to the infatuation (to adopt the mildest term for their conduct), of the landlords themselves, who, partly through motives of avarice, to swell their rent-rolls, and partly instigated by ambition, to increase their political importance, adopted and pursued a system of management, the temporary advantages of which blinded them to the enormous evils which it has since brought forth.
Thus it was, that the population of Ireland attained a magnitude so vast and so alarming. Alarming it must be called, because, resulting from no previous increase of the national storefrom no previous impulse either to agricultural or commercial activity—there was no provision to supply its wants, no accumulation of capital to meet the increased demand for labour and subsistence. The pressure was accordingly upon the mere resources of the soil, upon which the growing population swarmed, and vegetated, rather than lived. Every man was a proprietor, and every proprietor a pauper. A beggarly tillage was the consequence; an agriculture without skill, without management, without order or forethought—that racked the land as its wretched occupiers were racked themselves by the agent and the bailiffthat extorted the last potato, as the proctor extorted the last farthing that exhausted the productive powers of the soil as the demands upon it redoubled. For agricultural improvement there must be capital, there must be skill, and there must also be room. Such improvement is impossible, where the farmer only cultivates to pay his rent and escape starvation, where physical want paralyses activity and enterprise, and where the patch designated a farm is scarcely spacious enough to admit the operations of the plough. Under such circumstances, the land must daily become less and less able to sustain its living burthens ; and consequently a population, like the Irish, almost entirely dependent on their own wretched tenements for subsistence, must every day sink lower in the scale of destitution.
A diminished, and a constantly diminishing supply of food is, however, but one of the calamitous effects resulting from the unnatural stimulus that has been given to the population of Ireland. The Second Report of the Railway Commissioners informs us of the distressing and startling fact, that not only has the food of the Irish peasantry decreased in quantity, but its quality has moreover greatly deteriorated. The following passage will not fail to excite a deep commiseration :
“ Among the effects of this rapid increase of population, without a corresponding increase of remunerative employment, the most alarming, though perhaps the most obviously to be expected, is a deterioration of the food of the peasantry. It could scarcely be thought, indeed, that their customary diet would admit of any reduction, save in quantity alone ; yet it has been reduced as to quality also, in such a way as sen. sibly to diminish their comfort, if not to impair their health. Bread was never an article of common use amongst the labouring poor ; but it is now less known by them than it was at the time when a sum exceeding £50,000 per annum was paid in • bounties,' to induce the landholders to grow a sufficiency of grain for the supply of the city of Dublin. Milk is become almost a luxury to many of them; and the quality of their potato diet is generally much inferior to what it was at the commencement of the present century. A species of potato called the lumper,' has been brought into general cultivation, on account of its great productiveness, and the facility with which it can be raised from an inferior soil, and with a comparatively small portion of manure. This root, at its first introduction, was scarcely considered food good enough for swine ; it neither possesses the farinaceous qualities of the better varieties of the plant, nor is it as palatable as any other, being wet and tasteless, and, in point of substantial nutriment, little better, as an article of human food, than a Swedish turnip. In many counties of Leinster, and throughout the provinces of Munster and Connaught, the lumper now constitutes the principal food of the labouring peasantry,-a fact which is the more striking, when we consider the great increase of produce, together with its manifest improvement in quality, which is annually raised in Ireland, for exportation and for consumption by the superior classes.'