« ForrigeFortsett »
indispensable for the subsistence of a large portion of our population; it is no less so, at particular seasons, for the most important and necessary operations of husbandry; and it would therefore be the greatest cruelty and folly to impose restrictions
The three Commissioners who dissent from their brethren, as to the voluntary system of relief recommended in the Report, state, as one of their grounds of opposition, that it would intro duce the System of Settlement; "and we confess,” they add, “ we cannot contemplate any modification of that system, which could possibly lead to the curtailment of the privilege of free migration, hitherto enjoyed by the Irish poor,-a privilege, which the evidence of a former Report, proves to have afforded not only a means of support to the industrious labourer, but the only hope of existence to a class too numerous, and too virtuous, not to be objects of the deepest interest to every benevolent mind.”
But how, if there is to be no such thing as parochial or district settlement, are certain districts, possessing peculiar local attractions for the poor, to be protected against an influx of pauper strangers, to prey upon the rate-payers of those districts? To this we answer, that a poor labourer can have no inducement to quit his native place for another, where he is unknown, besides the hope of procuring better employment, or better gratuitous support, than he can obtain at home. He has a right to go in quest of employment, wherever it may be had; and as long as he can obtain it, and hold it, his migration imposes no burthen upon any one. With respect to gratuitous support, no inan need leave his home for that, after the general establishment of workhouses; because it will be had in his
own neighbourhood, as good, and as plentiful, as at any other place. Consequently, if the labourer travels from home, he will travel in search of work; nor is it likely that he will take up his residence in any quarter where work does not abound. Should it occur, however, that, in consequence of an extraordinary temporary demand for labour, a number of strangers are induced to settle in some particular locality, to which they may afterwards become burdensome, for want of continued employment, then emigration, at the public charge, should be resorted to, and relief be thus afforded both to the paupers and to the portion of the community made charge able with their support.
It would be also very necessary, in the absence of a Settlement Clause, to adopt strict and effective measures for the suppression of vagrancy; and, therefore, the suggestions of the Report on that head, are entitled to serious consideration. Vigorous means should certainly be taken to prevent squatters and trampers from settling themselves upon the industrious: and if nothing else could produce that effect, it would be perfectly just and proper to send them out of the country.*
It would materially facilitate the introduction of a system of poor-relief into Ireland, and assist in setting its new machinery in motion, without any sudden or violent concussion, if it were accompanied at the outset by the commencement of some great and extensive public work; a work, we mean, of national concern, and of such magnitude, as to give profitable employment to large numbers of the people, during three or four years, at least, after the Poor Law came into operation. If the undertaking were such as would admit of its extending itself over many parts of the country at the same time, so as not to draw together large masses of the labouring population to any one point, this would be a great recommendation: and it would also be a most favourable circumstance if the labour, demanded for this purpose, should be employed in the direction of the most populous, the most distressed, and the least civilized, counties of Ireland.
Several projects, such as we describe, are now undergoing examination before a Royal Commission, and there can be little doubt, that some one of them will receive legislative sanction in the ensuing session of Parliament. The reader will have anticipated that we speak of the proposals for a railway, across Ireland to a Western Port. The ulterior object of that undertaking is so important to Great Britain, in its bearing upon her national and commercial relations with America, that the work should not be left to private hands alone to carry it on. It involves, in no slight degree, the future interests, and, therefore, demands the immediate care and support, of this great nation: nor can we suppose that the task of perfecting such a work will be left to depend upon individual enterprise and speculation. The nation will surely become a party in the project; and that being the case, nothing can be more obvious, or more easy, than to render it subsidiary, in the first instance, to a legislative provision for the labouring poor. Regulations may be framed to oblige the conductors of the Western Railway, and the Commissioners of Poor Laws, to render mutual assistance to each other; the former being bound to employ, in every possible instance, the able-bodied poor now out of work; and the latter to supply them with workmen from those districts where the market of labour is most over
We would include, in the same category with the unknown vagrant, all incurable drunkards, whether known or not, who, by a determined indulgence of their favourite vice, should have rendered themselves burdensome to the community. Such a regulation would go farther, than any possible restrictions upon publicans, to reform this degrading source of misery.
stocked. By such an arrangement, the pressure upon very necessitous districts may be much alleviated; and by the time that it shall cease to have effect, there will be other sources of industry opened, or the means devised for the relief of the poor will be more matured, and the whole country, we doubt not, in a better condition to support them.
It affords us sincere gratification to be assured, and to be enabled to assure the friends of Ireland, that the principal members of His Majesty's Government are disposed to give their most strenuous support to this
cause, which is, in fact, the cause of humanity and of justice. Lord Morpeth, whose attachment to Ireland retains all the fervour and sincerity of a first affection, is pledged to bring forward a measure for the relief of our poor. They could not have placed themselves under a better or a kinder patron. For he knows the country and its resources,-he knows what the poor have a right to expect, and what the affluent are able, and may be justly required, to contribute: nor does the House of Commons contain anyone better qualified to pleada cause, which, if urged with sufficient warmth and without exaggeration, must meet an advocate in every just, manly, and generous bosom. The Government, we hope, is unanimous in its determination to give a cordial and energetic support to the act of the Secretary for Ireland. The hearts of the leading and influential members of the Cabinet are with us, upon this question; and if there be, amongst the usual supporters of the Government, any who entertain an opposite feeling, whatever deference may be due to their opinions, on other subjects, we trust it is unnecessary to warn Lord Melbourne against their arguments and representations
this. Of his own disposition to take a large and generous view of it, we have not the slightest doubt. That belongs to his character, and to the anxiety he has always evinced to promote the permanent good of Ireland: and when he finds the sentiment confirmed, as we know it will be, by Lord John Russell, “ The Secretary of State for Ireland,"—the ardent and tried friend of our land, the protector and the advocate of oppressed and suffering humanity in every clime and country,-he will not hesitate to follow its bias. If he needs any further confirmation of the impulse, let him consult Lord Lansdowne, whose opinion, as the proprietor of extensive and well-managed estates in Ireland, is entitled to much deference. We are quite sure that he will warmly support a Poor Law. Let him ask Lord Duncannon, whose Irish tenantry, down to the lowest peasant, present, in their flourishing and happy condition, the strongest living argument against a Poor Law. For, on that nobleman's property, not only is pauperism unknown, but the condition of the labourer is raised far above the ordinary
standard of the Irish peasantry. In point of lodging, of comfort, of cleanliness, of dress, of food, and of education, there is an obvious and marked superiority; and all this has been effected, without the use of stimulants of any kind, either in the shape of high wages or of premiums, by a steady course of judicious encouragement and superintendance. If any man has a good right to oppose a Poor Law, it is Lord Duncannon; for he can show, by the stubborn evidence of facts, how easily the peasantry of Ireland might be raised above the want of legislative relief, if all landlords were as wise, as persevering, and as kind as he is. Yet let Lord Melbourne consult Lord Duncannon; and he will tell him although the measure may and will inflict unmerited taxation upon himself-that the general condition of the poor of Ireland cries aloud for relief, and will not brook a longer delay. Let him consult the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who, though he possesses no property in the country, is better acquainted with its actual condition, and has a far clearer and more comprehensive knowledge of the resources and necessities of its population, than numbers of titled and untitled personages who derive large revenues from the soil :-he will tell him that a Poor Law is indispensable, not only as an act of justice to Ireland, but one of safety and protection to Great Britain; that it is not more to be desired as a relief to a noble and long suffering people, than as a requisite support to the authority of the laws, and a security and consolidation to that Bond of Union which holds the several parts of this great empire together. Let him read the evidence taken before the Assistant Commissioners, and that will tell him that there is no help, no hope, in anything short of legal compulsion, to rescue two millions of his fellow-subjects out of a state of degradation and misery scarcely conceivable. Let him trust his own excellent understanding and right feeling; but let him pay no attention to the opposition of interested and narrow-minded
The Commissioners, at the conclusion of their Report, say," What ought to be done, we trust will be done." It is a good and an honest wish, to which we and “ all the people" answer with a hearty “ Amen.” This " ought to be done, and we trust
• Lord Stanley, whose example as a landlord we earnestly commend to the imi. tation of those who admire his more flashy qualities, is, we believe a sincere advocate for a Poor Law. We know not if he would go farther than the Commissioners. But we should expect, from the very judicious and praiseworthy management of his property in Tipperary, that he would, upon this question, take a manly and decided course; and, indeed, we shall be greatly disappointed if he does not. With respect to the treatment of his Irish tenantry, he has always been consistent, generous, and wise,
it will be done,” quickly. Another session must not pass over without a provision being made for our suffering, neglected, patient, countrymen. The harrassing opposition, with which the Government has been thwarted and perplexed, during the two last sessions of Parliament, is an excuse for many unfulfilled pledges and duties. Whether they will again encounter the same vexatious resistance to their general policy, or whether the country is prepared to endure the third act of a farce, now grown too tedious to be amusing, we cannot venture to predict. But, in any case, this measure should be amongst the first, as it is decidedly the most important, which will try the pulse of the House of Lords in the next session. If they reject it, they will have only added a log to the pile. If they suffer it to pass, the Government will have a glorious answer to the impudent and jeering question of the Tories, “ What have you done?" For they can appeal to this enduring monument of their zeal for the good of all classes of persons, and say,---“We have done justice, and laid the foundation of peace: we have given a Poor Law to Ireland.”
ART. IV.-The Progress of the Nation, in its various Social
and Economical Relations, from the beginning of the Nineteenth Century to the Present time. By G. R. Porter, Esq.
8vo. London. 1836. W
E are not able precisely to assign the period when statisti
cal knowledge began to be appreciated, or when it first assumed the form of a distinct branch of science; but it may fairly be assumed, that it owed its origin to the establishment of mortuary and baptismal registers, at the beginning of the 17th century.* Captain John Graunt, of London, has the honour of having first led the way in this species of investigation; and it must be confessed, that his “Natural and Political Observations on Bills of Mortality,” evince a singular talent for observation in this field of enquiry, where, previously to his own, few footsteps are to be traced. In 1722, followed the “Göttliche Ordnung” of Süssmilch ; and, in 1783, the celebrated “ Obserrations on Reversionary Payments" of Dr. Price.
• Good Mortuary Tables, however, were preserved at Geneva from so early a period as 1560, and the example thus set was soon imitated by the German States. Parish registers were first enjoined to be kept in this country in 1538, on the dissolution of the monasteries. The first bills of mortality for London were issued in 1603, in consequence of the ravages of the plague ; but the Decennial Population Acts did not come into operation till March 1801.