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violence, the period when the population of Ireland will become stationary is yet at a very considerable distance; that in the mean time it will continue increasing, with a movement sometimes quicker and sometimes slower, from varying circumstances, but, on the whole, gradually retarded ; and that the causes of its retardation will be generally felt, and generate a change of habits dong before the period in question arrives.
The two most obvious causes of this retardation have already been suggested, and they must be allowed to be of a nature ta aggravate the discontents of a people not firmly attached to the government under which they live.
Mr Dudley, in his address to the Primate of Ireland on the subject of a commutation for tithes, has gone so far as to write the following strange sentence. “Whatever the enemies of their country may advance for the purposes of delusion, relief from the harassing system of tithes, and the increasing pressure of exorbi. tant rent, is the real emancipation on which the hearts of the Irish people are principally fixed.' That every effort should be used to relieve the people from the pressure of tithes, we are most ready to allow. It is not the sum collected, but the mode of its collection, that is the grievance; and this grievance, on many accounts, produces infinitely worse consequences in Ireland than in England. Such an evil is the proper subject of legislative intera ference; and we earnestly hope, that no difficulties, however great they may at first appear, will be allowed to stand in the way of its removal. But that any man of common sense should talk as Mr. Dudley does about rents, is quite inconceivable. A Legislature might, perhaps, fairly enough interfere to relieve a people from the pressure of rents paid in kind; but to prevent that natural rise of pecuniary rents, which takes place from the principles of free competition in the progress of wealth and population, would be tantamount to saying, either that land shall be for ever in the same plenty, however the population may increase, or that one part of the society shall always be extremely favoured, to the utter exclusion of other competitors, whatever may be their talents, industry, and farming skill.
The very general clamour that has lately been raised about high rents and middlemen, however natural it may be to the poor of Ireland, cannot be supported and propagated by persons in the higher classes of society, but from the most evil designs, or the most consummate ignorance. The middlemen who took long leases, when land was much cheaper than it is now, are undoubtedly making great profits ; but if the leases were expired, the same, or nearly the same, profits would be made by the landlords. This system of letting larids, which formerly prevailed in
earn the support of eight or ten persons, and his condition in other respects remains the same, it is not probable that the habit of early marriages, now so generally prevalent, will experience any material change ; and if we could succeed in preventing the wages of labour from falling, we are reduced to the conclusion, that Ireland will be able to support a population increasing for ever at the rate which it does at present. But this is manifestly an absurdity; and any attempt to alter the natural results arising from an increased supply of labour compared with the funds which are to support it, would just be an attempt to reverse the laws of nature. · The distress, therefore, which may prevail among the laboura ing classes of Ireland, from these two causes, is evidently beyond the power of the Legislature directly to relieve. But still, it will be widely and sensibly felt. And the point to which we wish particularly to direct the reader's attention, is, that so long as any civil distinctions remain between the Protestants and the Catholics, so long, we may depend upon it, will the cruel and foolish refusal of complete emancipation be charged, not only with all the evils which really belong to it, but all the others which are confessedly irremediable. The really disaffected among the Irish, the real advocates for the separation of the two countries, must hail with delight the short-sighted policy of the British government, as it gives them a power of exciting the lower classes of the people far beyond what they could possibly obtain otherwise. The causes of distress to which we have particularly adverted, cannot be made intelligible to every poor peasant who suffers from their effects; but the Catholic poor readily see, that a marked line of distinction is drawn between them and the Protestants; they see that they are regarded with fear and suspicion, and do not partake the full benefits of the British constitution; and, with these obvious causes of depression before their eyes, it can require, little art to direct all their discontents, from whatever source they may be derived, exclusively to the Government. In the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, with its poor labouring under the pressure of increasing rents and decreasing wages, what an incalculable advantage it would be to the British government to have no line of separation in civil rights capable of giving the colour of truth and justice to the most unfounded accusations ! The mere pressure of poverty alone, though it has been felt with varied weight in every part of the world, has never, we believe, in a single instance, produced a general spirit of insurrection and rebellion against Government; but when other specific and removeable causes of complaint have existed at the same time, it has invariably added to them tenfold
strength, strength, and often been productive of the most tremendous effects. The distresses of the common people of Ireland will ever continue a weapon of mighty and increasing force in the hands of the political agitator, till it is wrested from him, or its point turned aside, by the complete abolition of all civil distinctions between the Protestant and Catholic subjects of the British empire. If to this consideration be added, that of the rapidly increasing physical force of the Irish Catholics, it seems scarcely possible to imagine a case in which the views of policy and security so imperiously dictate the same line of conduct as those of justice and humanity.
When all the arguments which at different times have been brought to bear upon this question are duly weighed, no thinking man can seriously be of opinion that the present system with res gard to Ireland can be permanently adhered to. If a French army do not step in, and decide the matter at once, the increasing physical force of the Catholics cannot fail, ultimately, of effecting oither a change in this system, or a separation of the two coun tries. We doubt, even, whether those who, with Lord Hawkes bury, profess to take their stand at the Union, feel really confident of being able to maintain the station they have chosen , and, notwithstanding a few bold declarations to the contrary, we think we see symptoms of fear and distrust among the most stres nuous enemies of emancipation, as to the final success of their measures.' But if it be conceded, that a time may come when it will be absolutely necessary to alter these measures, the arguments for doing it immediately, and while it is yet in our power, receive such an accession of weight as absolutely to exclude all rational opposition. • Every year that elapses under the present system, tends to ag. gravate all the causes of discontent in Ireland, and to accumulate materials of insurrection and rebellion, which, however quiescent at present, are at all times liable to burst into a flame before our concessions are granted. Every year the proportion of the Catholics to the Protestants is rapidly augmenting,--a circumstance which might be contemplated without fear if they were once cona ciliated; but, till that time arrives, must be regarded with increasing apprehension, as daily diminishing the prospect of a cordial and permanent union between the two countries.
* In 1731, it appeared, from actual returns, that the proportion of Catholics to Protestants was two to one. It is now generally acknowledged to be four to one. This change of proportions was to be expected from the manner in which the population of Ireland increases ; and from the same cause it may be expected to continue.
Every year fifty thousand youths rise to the military age in Ireland; and as comparatively few in the same time go off the stage, or become unfit for service, the military part of the popu. lation is receiving every year a great accession of strength. What additional number of British soldiers may be necessary every year to guard the increasing numbers of the Irish, we will not pretend accurately to calculate. But it cannot be denied, that, in the present state of the two countries, the increasing strength of Ireland is the increasing weakness of England ; and that each passing year, while it adds both to the disposition and the power of Ireland to resist the wrongs she suffers, diminishes, in a still greater proportion, the power of England to enforce them. In this unequal race, if it continue much longer, England must necessarily be left behind : the danger is of a nature to admit of no delay; and unless this contest of vigour be exchanged, and that very shortly, for a contest of kindness and conciliation, she will inevitably have to rue her folly in the conquest or dismemberment of a fourth part of the empire, and the probable subju gation of the whole.
It is impossible ever to speak of the chance of foreign subjua gation, and think, at the same time, of the peculiar situation of Ireland, without feeling the most bitter regret at that shortsighted policy which has made enemies of a gallant people, from whom, as friends, we might have received services of the most inestimable value. If England had been to choose a territory calculated to afford her the most effectual assistance, in this awful crisis of her fate, we doubt if she could have fixed upon any portion of land, of the same extent, so peculiarly suited to her wants as Ireland; with the single change, that the hearts of the people were with her, instead of against her. The manufacturing habits of England have, in some degree, been unfavourable to her warlike habits. Her agricultural population is comparatively small; and her artificers, accustomed to high wages, from the late unexampled prosperity of commerce, are unwilling to exchange their good food and warm workshops, for the coarse fare and damp lodging of a camp: and when they do exchange them, under the temptations of high bounties, or a temporary slackness of trade, they are not likely to make the best and most hardy soldiers. In all these particulars Ireland presents a contrast, which, for the object in view, is in the highest degree favourable. Her agricultural population is redundant, and rae pidly increasing; the pecuniary wages of her labourers are lower than the pay of the British army, and offer almost irresistible temptations to enlist; and the habitations and food of her peasantry are such, as to make a British camp appear an abode of