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violence and obstinacy hitherto almost unprecedented. It would be easy, however, if it were necessary, to show, that their violence has been equalled and exceeded at former times, though at times çertainly remote from the present. The concert and union which prevail are the immediate and necessary results of the purpose and character of their system. As we have before seen, the object of preventing high rents cannot be accomplished without working on the fears and interests of the peasantry not originally engaged, and inducing them to join an association, which already has their approbation and their prayers. And the very mode in which their system operates is adapted to extend it, by exciting terror and popularity at the same time. All this requires little cleverness and not much deliberation. The object is simple; the means are obvious, and simple likewise. They are such as would suggest themselves for the same purpose, under the same circumstances, in places between which there could be no communication. But when we recollect, that for more than half a century associations have constantly existed, giving an inveterate habit and a sinister experience in these designs, can we wonder that they are now conducted with all the dexterity and method of disciplined and practised insurgents ? The extent to which they have spread might have been expected from the times in which they have arisen ; when the country is teeming, beyond all former example, with unemployed multitudes, ready to engage in any schemes by which a change can be produced.
In all speculations on the state of the south of Ireland, we must never lose sight of the events which occurred in the summer of 1820. In a few weeks ten country banks, all in the southern districts, failed ; besides one in the metropolis, which had extensive provincial circulation. Nearly £1,000,000 of the circulating medium vanished in and about the districts now disturbed. It smote the peasantry a double blow. It caused an instant depression in the markets; and the cash they may have had, whether prepared for the payment of rent, or reserved for the purchase of stock, being almost entirely in provincial paper, became an immediate and irretrievable loss. On the one side their pockets were emptied ; on the other the means of replenishing them were cut off. The distress of that time of trouble, terror, and dismay, beggars description. Credit was destroyed, for poverty was suspected every where. Those who wanted to sell could find none to buy; those who had need to buy were unable to pay for the purchase. Every creditor pressed for his debt; and the landlords, of course, exacted theirs. When, in addition to all other privations and disasters, the landlord distrained ; sold for fourth part value at a time when little money was in circulation, and every thing sold
low; and when he finally ejected ;-if ever there was a time, when the peasantry were likely to join, one and all in these desperate measures, that surely was the period.
The use of ardent spirits has, within the last three years, increased beyond all former example. The low price of grain, and the high duties paid by the licensed distillers, have encouraged illicit distillation to a prodigious extent. The mode of concealing the practice from the revenue officers is curious enough, and quite Irish. The peasantry make no secret of it to their neighbors, but those who pass the place where they are at work, are liberally supplied with liquor. If this public and comprehensive kind of bribery were withdrawn, discovery, it seems, would be a certain punishment to the inhospitable and penurious delinquent. It is astonishing how few discoveries are made, when the number of stills, and the publicity of the practice, are considered. It is a formidable proof of the fidelity which the community of interest and feeling produces in this singular people. But the effect is ruinous in the extreme. If we may form a conclusion from the usual practice in other things, we may assure ourselves, that the schemes of the associated insurgents are planned where profuse potions of whiskey add ardor and desperation to their resolves. When commencing any labor, the Irish peasant will drink spirits to animate him if he have any means of procuring them. Can we wonder at any acts of savage atrocity, committed by a band of resolute malecontents, in whom intoxication inflames to the utmost heat of passion every emotion of malice, resentment, and revenge ? The use of these inaddening draughts was at its height when
the failure of the banks plunged the south of Ireland into the misery which I have described. The ejected tenant, the unemployed laborer, the idle and poor of every description, if a shilling remained, would resort to drinking to sink the consciousness of suffering in intoxication, or to converse over their liquor with their partners in misfortune. They would crowd round the private still, which in Ireland is sometimes a kind of lounge for the unoccupied, and the conversation would turn on this irritating subject. A little liquor is always given gratis to the visitors, and if the owner of the still happened to be in a situation approaching that of his unhappy neighbors, these meetings would be devoted to concerting plans and forming associations. Such a stimulus, at a period of general distress and discontent, would naturally urge men from condolence to combination, from conference to action. In short, it would be idle to doubt, that the extensive use of ardent spirits, within the last two years, has been a powerful aiding cause in producing the present disturbances.
It would be absurd empiricism in an individual, because he has
observed and examined some of the multiplied evils' which press upon this unhappy country, to suppose that he can find out remedies adapted to their removal. But there are certain obvious principles which present themselves to the plainest understanding, on learning what these evils are. One of the chief means of re. claiming a people so backward is, of course, to diffuse as widely and as rapidly as possible, the kind and extent of instruction adapted to their pursuits. No effectual plan of education has ever been framed for Ireland, nor ever will be brought into practice, without entire acquiescence in the religious prejudices of the people. It is the vainest of all idle things to attempt diffusing instruction by collision and remonstrance.
All such attempts must not only prove abortive, but tend to defeat the cause, and confirm the ignorance and distaste for instruction, which they are meant to dispel. Instruction, when directed to the unenlightened, must not only be robbed of every thing disgusting and repulsive, but must be rendered, by all possible means, agreeable and seductive. It is of no manner of consequence whether the prejudices which exist have some foundation in reason, or be wholly absurd; only that when they are altogether unreasonable, opposition becomes still more unwise. It is the nature of prejudice to be proof against argument, just in proportion as it is irrational. If the Irish will not from religious scruples, admit the best mode of education, let one of inferior merits be adopted, rather than none at all. The faintest glimmerings of light are better than total darkness, and in the case of education are of tenfold importance, because they will infallibly lead to farther illumination.
In a country where gross ignorance and unreflecting habits preserve the activity of those many causes which we have seen to promote early unions, and the consequent increase of numbers beyond a just proportion, education becomes an object, not merely desirable for the welfare, but essential to the existence of civil society. Where the lower ranks are in a state of perpetual conflict with the upper orders, civil society can scarcely with propriety be said to have a being. There is no security of property or life. If both be not a prey to savage outrage, all that is durable, and therefore really valuable, in the one, and all that is sweet and estimable in the other, are in such a state of constant jeopardy, that they may be considered as absolutely lost to enjoyment. It resembles more the state of a country, in which military conquest requires forcible maintenance over vanquished and rebellious hordes, than of one in which the people are incorporated in civil union. It is partial civilisation, making continued struggles to keep its stand against a tide constantly flowing back to barbarism Such are the dreadful evils which overgrown population has a ten VOL. XXIV.
NO. XLVII. I
dency to produce, and will actually produce, when aided by those cir. cumstances which we have seen to accompany it in Ireland. If education, as has been abundantly proved, be a powerful remedy for this frightful disease, its necessity in Ireland becomes yet more indispensable, from the absence of manufactures. Manufactures, when introduced into a very populous country, would seem to have an effect on population, the reverse of that which follows their introduction where numbers are few. In the latter instance, they raise the wages of labor, increase the facilities of subsistence, and therefore promote the growth of population. But in the former, there are so many seeking employment, that the wages of labor, will continue for a long period at their usual level. Those who want work will flock in crowds to the manufacturing districts, and those who obtain it will be led, in consequence of stated payments, at regular intervals, to estimate their means and income, which they seldom did when drawing their subsistence from the soil. The consequence of improvident unions will therefore be more clearly seen, and they will be avoided. Thus multitudes who, had they remained scattered upon the land, would have added yearly to the numbers of the people, will either die without children, or not marry till they are advanced in life. Population will therefore continue to be checked, precisely in proportion to the spreading of manufactures, until the wages of labor rise to such a height as will again encourage its progression; and this will not take place until numbers cease to be redundant. In short, the worst of mischiefs will be gradually removed, by the very means which are gradually advancing the general prosperity. Besides, manufactures, both by the ingenuity they elicit, and the activity they excite, and by collecting numbers together, where mind clashes with mind, and each profits by the knowledge of the other, have an inevitable tendency to inculcate and promote general intelligence. The consequences, likewise, of improvident unions, are more distinctly seen where many families supply instances which present the warnings of actual experience. Ireland, then, a country which is destitute of this great source of relief, requires, in an especial degree, the incessant and persevering exertions of all the patriotism which exists within herself, all the benevolence and politic care of Great Britain, to extend that education, which, though not an immediate remedy, will, in the end, be a sure and effectual corrective of the grand mischief which oppresses her.
Emigration at once suggests itself as an expedient of speedy and certain efficacy. If it be practicable, it ought to be applied, because the first step towards the removal of pernicious habits in society, is to get rid of the circumstances which bring them into
action, and to banish the evil agents in order to destroy bad example. To thin the population, would certainly abate the ferment, by subtracting one of its chief causes. But, in the first place, it must be always remembered, that this can be only a tem.porary remedy, if the habits remain. In a very short time, the people would increase to their former numbers ; and if the same habits existed, they would be still trained to disorder, and fresh tumults would arise. When I speak of habits, I mean to refer, not to those of the lower orders merely, but also to that course of conduct in the upper ranks, both in what they do, and in what they neglect, which has contributed to produce and to maintain the bad disposition of the people. In the next place, it is to be feared, that the sudden removal of the mischief, without any trouble on the part of the higher classes, would encourage these to abstain from correcting the habits and the conduct which they have so long followed. The magistrates would continue their neglect and abuses; the landed proprietors their apathy and unconcern ; the landlords their extravagant demands; the tithe proprietors their harassing and vexatious proceedings. In short, things would go on precisely as before. The people who remained would not be much benefited ; and in a very few years, they, in conjunction with the numbers now advancing to man's estate, would break out into the same tumults with all the fury of á half-smothered flame. In fine, the disease is one which rankles in the constitution of society; and temporary relief, if not accompanied by constitutional remedies, will only add virulence to future relapses.
On this, as on the other distempers of Ireland, it may be laid down as a maxim of policy, that cure must be gradual. But the endeavors towards effecting it, though not sudden and violent, must be steady and persevering. The legislature may do much, but it cannot accomplish all. Some evils there are, which parliament, and parliament only, can remove; evils which, while they are suffered to remain, will paralyse all the exertions of the most extensive power guided by the profoundest wisdom. But it is equally true that legislative measures, though they may lay the foundation for amendment, cannot of themselves secure it. Can parliament confine absentees to their country? Can it remove the middleman or check the rapacity of him or of other landlords? Can it infuse into the great landed proprietors a patriotic and paternal care over the people, and an interest in their hapless condition? Can it reform the magistracy and gentry? Can it remove all those causes which render the peasantry regardless or contemptuous of the laws ? Can it drain off all the redundance of an overflowing population, or give the people employment ? Can