« ForrigeFortsett »
AUTHOR OF THE “ HISTORY OF THE BRITISH COLONIES,” ETC.
THIRD EDITION WITH ADDITIONS.
“Is it not the true interest of both nations to become one people ?
** The plan for the reclamation of boglands, the issue of Exchequer bills,
emigration, and other remedial measures, are given only in this Edition, in Chap. III.
This work was originally published in 1832,* when the agitation for the Repeal of the Union was becoming popular in Ireland. Its publication was found useful, and it was issued in a more extended form in 1843 in consequence of the mis-statements promulgated at one of the “monster meetings” at which I was accidentally present in that year. In both instances the work was undertaken and completed without solicitation or support from Government, and the statistical data which it contained were derived from the various returns laid before Parliament, -therefore, accessible to every inquirer after truth.
The revived agitation of this momentous subject, the views now bpenly expressed for an entire severance of interest between the two countries, and an extending desire for the formation of an Irish republic, have induced me to re-examine the data on which my convictions were originally founded,- to ascertain whether recent statistics would shew former conclusions to be at variance with the best interests of Ireland, or whether the late disastrous calamity had so materially altered existing relations as to render the Union no longer desirable for either country,—and to propose for consideration such measures as appear advisable for the amelioration of the condition of the labouring poor, and for the permanent improvement of Ireland. (See Ch. III. pp. 83 to 100, on the reclamation of waste lands, emigration, &c.]
Earnestly seeking truth, and disposed by feelings of nationality to espouse what is termed the popular cause in Ireland, I can conscientiously say that a continued and unbiased examination of the proposition for repealing the Union has not only strengthened
* “ Ireland as it Was, Is, and Ought to be,” and “ Poor Laws for Ireland, a Measure of Justice and Humanity." Published by Allen and Co. London, 1832-3.
the belief that the allegations of the evils inflicted on Ireland by the Union are untenable and at variance with facts, but that no greater calamity could befal Ireland than a disunion of the solemn legislative compact of 1800, and its inevitable result, a severance from, and war with, England. Whatever injury Great Britain might experience from that severance, the far greater injury which Ireland would suffer is beyond comparison. Situate on the western shores of England and Scotland, Ireland, in ceasing to be incorporated with Great Britain, must inevitably become her foe, and be re-conquered. There can be no doubt that Great Britain could exist and flourish independent of Ireland, but, unless it were possible to remove Ireland to some distant part of the Atlantic, it must be dependent on, if not united with, England. Granting, for the sake of argument, that the Union has caused the evils alleged, the wiser and more practical course would be to endeavour to correct those evils, and to make the Union beneficial; for it is the direct and manifest interest of England that Ireland should be prosperous and happy. The facts contained in these pages demonstrate that Ireland has derived from the Union many benefits and advantages which would have been greatly enhanced but for the continued agitation in which she has been sedulously kept for years, an agitation which would have utterly ruined any country connected with a less opulent neighbour, or united with a kingdom of despotic rule. As in the example of Poland, poverty, degradation, and conquest would now have been the fate of Ireland, had England not been truly generous and of a most Catholic charity. It seems advisable at this period to submit some details relative to the progress of Ireland since the edition of this work was issued in 1843. The facts now adduced re-affirm, in the most decisive manner, that Ireland has in every way benefitted by the Union, and that even during the last three years, notwithstanding the loss of the potato crop, on which three-fourths of the labouring class were unhappily dependent for subsistence, the general prosperity of the middle classes of Ireland has not been interrupted.