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institutions of other countries; and, in particular, that they should examine how far the constitution of Norway, and its connexion with Sweden, may serve as a model for the new constitution of Ireland; that they should decribe the probable consequences which may be expected to result from a repeal of the Union, pointing out the dangers to be apprehended, and the means by which those dangers may be averted.
In these instructions, political problems, with impossible conditions, are offered for solution; inconsistent propositions required to be reconciled; a demand is made to discover analogies among contradictions, and to develop, in extenso, absurdities. They present a task well worthy of the genius of Byfoged Horneman and his fellow legislators, who altered, in about a month, the second-hand and cast-off constitution of Spain to suit Norway.
The prize essays may be regarded as one of the results of the repeal policy to create a public opinion in favour of separation, since it has been found that threats of force, however violent, and the assemblage of mobs, however large, are insufficient to dissolve the connexion. For this purpose, an educational course has been prepared. The novel, the history, the ballad, literature in every form, have been made subsidiary to this object. Falsehood is insinuated in the beautiful language of poetry; sedition inculcated in the seducing pages of romance. This policy has been eminently successful: the youthful mind of the middle classes, of the men who have time to read, but not the skill to reason, is in the state of rapidly being debauched; and we trust that those facts will form our apology to our readers for having obtruded the prize essays on their attention. Disease may be transmitted by contagion ; but there is no means of propagation of health; as is the physical, so is the moral nature of man; truth is the
slow remedial process of individuality; error, a wide-spreading epidemic among multitudes; nonsense repeated, may at last become disordered opinion; and even such arguments as those contained in the prize essays (if unanswered) might have a power to effect evil.
We will endeavour to examine, what we must in reverence to the memory of Chesterfield, term the arguments of the essayist, protesting, at the same time, vehemently-for we confess ourselves liable to contagionagainst any exception being taken to our consistency, should we, partially, deviate from this arrangement.
"Under domestic legislation," says Alderman Staunton, "the progress of the country (Ireland) was without example." Now, if this assertion be true, the following are its deducibles, viz. that the prosperity of a country is best promoted by the sternest tyranny; its advantages most quickly forwarded by the grossest ignorance; its wealth most rapidly developed by rendering industry penal; that persecution must be an invaluable instrument of government; and cruelty the best means of rule; for the Irish parliament, skilled in the science of oppression, employed all those devices. to dehumanise the great mass of the population it ruled. But, it may be alleged, that "the progress without example," is limited to the period which intervened between the era of Independence and the Union; now although, this sense of the passage will involve a most violent refraction of language, yet, in charity to Alderman Staunton's understanding, we must adopt it as his meaning. Is it true, then, that the prosperity of Ireland" progressed without example,"
between 1782 and 1800.
The following Abstracts of the Exports and Imports of Ireland, for thirty-six years before the Union, will aid the solution of the question :
13 2,398 223,891
1785 15,054 25,844 37,626 1786 13,214 17,640
7,453 220,818 66,619
8,156 177,862 75,146
7,063 199,966 137,447
1792 16,052 160
9,708 197,660 135,472
1793 17,701 24,596
1,905 158,005 119,603
1765 22,366 48,854 10,529
11,462 168,578 1,285
51,112 18,136 39,920
52,328 17,140 41,350
50,367 23,803 42,295
71,297 1,148 1,111
72,714 19,745 50,549
57,438 1,358 1,442
72,931 18,475 48,502
14,074 64,870 13,245 22,915
10,635 | 27,819
51,714 874 889
77,612 16,601 38,450
3,917 11,728 44,095 285 473 26,238
70,066 17,562 | 41,384
96,554 17,908 54,592
79,581 1,895 1,256
69,804 1,294 1,405
33,791 126,939 1,351 24,170| 300,669
54,045 279,125 50,157 24,255
69,641 3,363 2,338
56,494 120,506 1,073 30,132 295,875
60,735 135,219 1,326 24,351 323,872
39,719 669,559 153,769 4,178
62,490 102,333 482 21,820 311,960
74,400 135,328 809 5,652 271,027 1795 47,996 124,607 1,076 5,160 276,403 1796 125,085 122,156 766 10,524 315,225 1797 92,086 110,141 793 36,311 322,218 5,032 52,941 108,346 1,149 30,670 315,894 5,540 9,331 262,764 7,828 2,534 263,289 10,992
974 637,277 92,788 197 38,601 512,932 36,701 163
38,564 1,051 740
60,618 2,949 1,966
1 36,311 48,369 557,736 67,526
48,614 6,733 583
It will be at once seen, by glancing at those tables, that between the year 1764 and the union, a great change had taken place in the articles of provisions exported. At the commencement of that period, Ireland was, to a great extent, dependent on Great Britain for her supply of cerials; before its termination, she furnished England with a very large quantity of grain; but it, will also be perceived, that during the same time, the exportation of beef, hides, and tallow, had enormously decreased. Those alterations might have been the effects, either of augmented wealth causing an increased home consumption of animal food, or of a diminution of live stock. If the former were the operating cause, the number of black cattle should have remained, at least, undiminished, and the quantity of animal food used by the population, ought to have augmented. But so far from either circumstance having happened, that the stock of cows rapidly decreased in number, and the breadth of land applied to pasturage every year became less extended. "From the commencement of the last century," says Frazer,* the well-known writer on the Irish fisheries, "immense quantities of beef, pork, tallow, and butter were sent from Ireland to those countries (the American plantations) for the support of the infant colonies, as well as large quantities exported for the supply of the British navy, and her increased commerce. But, on the rapid extension of tillage, the grazing lands were in great quantities broken up for the production of grain. Even in the maritime counties of Cork, Waterford, and Galway, from which ports, particularly the former, the greatest exports of provision were made, large tracts of pasture ground were converted into tillage, from which circumstance the places from whence the supply of cattle was to be obtained, being removed, they could not be brought to market to the merchant,
so that he could not afford to supply his customers, the West Indian planters and navy contractors, at the usual rates; in consequence of which, the planters obtained the greatest part of their provision from America, and the royal navy and commercial interest found the enhanced price a heavy burthen on the nation, and the business of navigation. "In every part of the kingdom," says Arthur Young, writing in 1778, "the common Irish have all sorts of live stock, the tables, already inserted, show this in respect of cows. I should add, pigs are yet more general, and poultry in many parts of the kingdom, especially in Leinster, are in such great quantities as amazed me, not only cocks and hens, but geese and turkeys." In about thirty years after this statement was made, Joshua Kirby Trimmer published an account of the condition of agriculture in the south of Ireland; and describing the filthy hut of the labourer as at once a dwelling, a stable, and a stye, says, "the other side of the cabin is inhabited by the hogs and poultry, and sometimes, but very seldom, by a cow." He adds, "that these (the small farmers) form a very numerous class in the southern part of Ireland; and a larger share of the agriculture of the country may be said to be in their hands than in those of the substantial farmers; with their scanty and slender means, it cannot be expected to prosper much. Their stock consists of one horse, a small car, and perhaps half a dozen sheep, besides some hogs, and in some cases by a cow." And this was written of a country in which, but thirty years before, cattle were abundant, and where every labourer possessed, at least, a cow.§
During the period cattle were so rapidly diminishing in number, it will be seen that the quantity of butter exported, constantly and largely increased; and, when it is considered, that the supply decreased and population greatly augmented, the conclusion
* Gleanings in Ireland. By R. Fraser, Esq. pp. 26, 28. London, 1802.
Ireland. By Joshua Kirby Trimmer. London, 1809.
in the Southern parts of
See Young's Travels. Part the First, pp. 51, 138, 169, 215, 351, 357, 366, 373, and Part the Second, p. 27.
becomes inevitable that the home consumption of this necessary article, one of the luxuries of the poor man's board, enormously diminished. Milk alsoat one time a mensal staple of every cottage in Ireland-must in a great degree have ceased to have been used as an article of diet. The period from the commencement to the termination of the first American war was one of the most disastrous to Ireland, during the last century. The embargo, which prevented trade with France and Spain, and the diminished demand for Irish provisions by the Plantations, induced at once individual distress and commercial embarrassment; yet, even during that protracted season of national misfortune, we have the evidence of the most accurate of inquirers, Arthur Young, that the peasantry of Ireland consumed, as their ordinary diet, meal, milk, butter, and fowl, in addition to potatoes, aud that they possessed live stock in abundance.
In 1805, twenty-seven years after Young's travels were published, Newenham made the following statement relative to the food of the Irish peasantry: :-"Instead of England being competent to maintain a greater proportionate population than Ireland, we should find that independently of the acknowledged superiority of the latter, with regard to the natural and general fertility of the soil, the nature of the food on which the great majority habitually subsist, together with other peculiar circumstances, render it competent to support an infinitely more dense population than the former."
"Potatoes, it is well known, are the great article of food in Ireland, bread in England; comparatively speaking a
very small quantity of animal food is consumed in that country, a very great one in this. Much of that kind of food is saved there by religious fasts, a very small quantity here. By the lowest class, in this country, it is eaten once a week, by the lowest class in that country never. In England, that most numerous class, next above the lowest, eat flesh-meat three times, or at least twice a week. In Ireland the same class, which is in proportion more numerous than here, do not, generally speaking, eat it once a month; a great majority of that class do not eat it oftener than six times a year. Substantial farmers and country artificers in this country live chiefly on animal food, the same description of people in most parts of that country live, chiefly, on potatoes and milk.”
Thus, during the era of Irish independence, in the short period of about twenty years, meal, milk, butter, flesh-meat, and fowl ceased to be consumed by the peasantry, and even by the farmers of Ireland. From being a prosperous and comfortable population they changed into the most wretched and impoverished people in Europe from being well and abundantly fed, potatoes alone became their sole resource for supporting existence.*
The line drawn through the table of imports divides it into two equal portions of 18 years before, and 18 after the declaration of Independence in 1782. A comparison of the consumption in each of those periods of the articles, which are usually adopted as a criterion of advancement or decline in national prosperity, will afford some curious results.†
A Statistical and Historical Inquiry into the progress and magnitude of the Population of Ireland. By Thomas Newenham; London, 1805.-pp. 335, 336. f No inference can be drawn from the increased consumption of tea in the following table, because before 1767 the duty acted as a prohibition-in that year the duty on green teas was reduced to 6d., on Boheas to 4d. a pound. The consumption of tea, as indicated by the custom-house books, increased from 239,800 pounds, in 1767, to 1,007,693 pounds in 1768. But as the act of 1767 (7 Geo. III., c. 2., s. 6) recited "Whereas great fraud and abuses have been committed by the clandestine importation of tea, we must conclude that the consumption was not really increased, but that the trade was transferred from the smuggler to the fair dealer by the alteration in the revenue.”