« ElőzőTovább »
this. If the text had exhibited the name Simon, every one would see the reference, as no reader of the New Testament can be ignorant that Simon and Peter denote the same person. Why the Translators did not insert the name here, as they have done in other places, it may be difficult to discover. It may indeed be suggested, that they have in this instance followed the original, which is here not Einwv but Eupewn; but in 2 Pet. i. 1, where the latter form appears, they render Simon. We should recommend a uniform mode of designation, and to follow the example of those translators who adopt the usage by which the persons are best known and most easily recognized ;-Elijah rather than Elias, Elisha instead of Eliseus Hoshea, and not Osee.
Art. V. Poor Laws for Ireland, a Measure of Justice to England ;
of Humanity to the People of both Islands; and of Self-preservation for the Empire. With a practical Development of an improved System of Settlement, Assessment, and Relief. By R. Montgomery Martin, Author of “ Ireland as it Was, Is, and Ought to Be,” &c. 8vo. pp. 49. Price 2s. London, 1833. RELAND, without poor laws, has doubled her ragged, half
famished population in thirty-three years: England, with poor laws, has not doubled its population in less than a century. In Ireland, where there is no poor's rate to depress the rate of wages, or to eke out the labourer's pittance with parish relief, labour is worse paid than in any other country under a northern clime: in England, labour is better paid than in any other old and well peopled country. In Ireland, where there is no provision for the poor, to operate as a premium upon marriage and an indemnity for improvidence, the lower classes marry before they are twenty years of age, and their reckless indifference to the future, aggravated by their extreme poverty, is fast converting them into a nation of lazzaroni and brigands. In England, under the poor law system, as it existed for more than two hundred years, the labouring classes acquired and maintained a character for forethought, decency, and economy, which raised them above the corresponding classes in any other nation. And still, notwithstanding the abuses that have vitiated the whole operation of that system, to compare the English with the Irish poor, would be to offer an insult to the former, as it would be a cruel mockery of the latter.
And yet, we are sometimes told, that the redundance of population, the depression of wages, the spread of immorality in this country, are all owing to the poor laws! And Ireland, poor Ireland, were this horrible provision for the poor to be introduced there, would soon be in as bad a condition as England itself !
But the truth is, that the absence of a poor law in Ireland, is one very principal cause of the increase of pauperism in England ;
and one of two results seems to be inevitable, if a remedy is not applied : either the Irish population must be raised towards the standard of the average condition of the English, or the wheatfed English labourers will be depressed to a level with the potatoe-fed population of Ireland. The periodical immigration of myriads of pauper labourers from the sister island, is admitted to have had the effect of lowering the wages of labour in England, and consequently of lowering the character, as well as condition of the labouring classes, by depriving them of any benefit arising from their superior prudence. The evidence brought before the Select Committee of the House of Commons in July, 1828, proves the number of persons coming from Ireland to this country in search of employment, to have annually increased immensely during the preceding nine years; and to have been even systematically encouraged by the Irish landlords ; and the Committee express their decided conviction, that, if the present system is to continue unchecked, the effects of its operation will inevitably be,
to throw upon England, and that at no distant period, the expense of maintaining the paupers of both countries.'
Mr. Montgomery Martin deserves the thanks of his country for this well timed and well reasoned appeal on behalf of the ' few and scanty rights of the poor.' He has condensed into a few pages the results of various and extended investigation; prov. ing beyond all reasonable question, that justice and mercy, policy and humanity, alike imperatively demand the prompt extension of the law of relief to the paupers of Ireland ; otherwise England herself may have reason to join in the cry of the Arch-Agitator for a repeal of the Union. We are tempted to transcribe the following citation from a speech of the O'Connell.
«« Who in Scotland lowered the condition of her people by working almost for nothing? The wretch flying from Ireland !—Who filled the factories all over England, and reduced the already too low rate of wages ? The outcast of Ireland !-Who made the English poor rates so burdensome? The Irish !—Who brought such misery and ruin on the agricultural labourer? The forlorn Irishman coming from the wilds of Connaught, and slaving for that which an English labourer would turn from with disgust !--What gentleman would suggest a plan for this growing curse? There is no remedy but a Repeal of the Union, or, as some think, the enactment of Poor Laws for Ireland."'
p. 11. As some think! Yes, and Mr. O'Connell knows, that this would be, not indeed in itself a sovereign or sufficient remedy for the complicated disorders of his faction-torn, church-ridden country, but a far more salutary and beneficent measure, one that would conduce more to its present tranquillity and the eventual melioration of its condition, than any other legislative measure that could be adopted.
The equitable right of the poor to a legislative provision for their protection and relief, has been called in question by onesided theorists and cold blooded utilitarians, who consider that starvation is a just punishment of those individuals who obtrude themselves into existence without being called for by the capitalist. Mr. Martin has shewn, in a few words, that this right is created by the very nature of civil society, being but an equivalent for the restrictions under which the poor man is laid by the laws created for the protection of the property of the rich. By what right,' asks the Bishop of Cloyne, (Woodward), did the rich take upon
them to enact certain laws which compel the poor * man to become a member of their society,– which preclude him from any
share of the land where he was born, any use of its spontaneous fruits, or any dominion over the beasts of the field, on pain of stripes, imprisonment, or death ;-how can they justify their exclusive property in the common heritage of man• kind, unless they consent in return to provide for the subsistence of the poor, who are excluded from those common rights, by • laws of the rich to which the poor were never parties ?'—Language like this becomes a Christian bishop. To shew that he is not singular in the opinion, that nothing but such a provision for the poor will improve the condition of Ireland, Mr. Martin cites the forcible declaration of the Roman Catholic prelate, Dr. Doyle, before the Select Committee on the state of the Irish Poor in 1830.
· When asked whether there was any other measure necessary for the purpose of facilitating and encouraging the application of capital in Ireland, this exemplary pastor says: “I think that measure (Poor Laws) alone in its operation would produce that result in as great a degree as would be consistent with the preservation of the moral progress of society in Ireland, independently of all other measures. I have heard of an act of parliament for the purpose of encouraging the drain, ing of bogs, sinking the beds of rivers, fixing the limits of estates, and enabling people under settlements to make leases of lands. I know that these measures would be subsidiary to, and greatly assist, the other; but the other I consider the main measure, so much so, that without it every other act of the legislature that may
be passed for the improvement of Ireland will
, in my opinion, fail to produce the effects that are hoped from them.”
• But methinks I hear it said, “ Laws should not be made exclusively either for the benefit of the poor or for the benefit of the rich.” Granted :-can it however be said, that a law which provides for the comfort of the sick, maimed, and aged, and affords hard labour and bare subsistence to the unemployed, and at the same time secures the peace of the country, the stability of the government, and the security of the wealthy-can such a law be said to be enacted merely for the benefit of the poor? Certainly not. Ireland possesses in a pre-eminent degree the main ingredients of wealth and social happiness, namely, an exuberantly fertile soil, and a superabundance of active and intelligent
labourers, which only requires for its extensive development the appli. cation of capital. Dr. Doyle (and no man knows the condition of Íreland better) says: “I have no doubt that a compulsory rate would have the effect of increasing the capital to be usefully employed in Ireland. I have no doubt whatever that a legal assessment, which would take a certain quantity of money from those who now spend it in luxuries or in distant countries, and which would employ that money in the application of labour to land in Ireland, would be productive of the utmost benefit to the country at large ; and I think that benefit, so far from being confined to the poor themselves, or to the class of labourers immediately above the destitute, would ultimately, and at no distant day, redound to the advantage of those proprietors out of whose present income I would suppose the chief portion of that income to be taken. The reason of my opinion is, that when the proprietors of the soil of Ireland would be assessed for the relief of the poor, they would be impelled, by a consideration of self-interest, to watch over the levies to be made of their property, and over the application of those levies ; and that the necessity of doing so would induce many of them now absent, and more particularly those of moderate income, to reside in Ireland. Then with regard to the money thus levied, and with which the committee would be enabled to give employment to able bodies in times of want and distress, if that money were employed, whether in public works or by the owners of land in useful improvements, I have no doubt but lands which are now enclosed would rise very much in value, the quality of the tillage be considerably improved, and that of agricultural produce greatly altered for the better ; so that, in fact, every thing which constitutes property in Ireland would gradually become better and more valuable than it now is, or than it ever will be under the present system.” Here we see in a few words the vast advantages which would accrue to the rich as well as to the poor, from the establishment of a legislative provision for the latter." There are 17,190,726 acres of land in Ireland, which, yielding on an average so low as £5 worth of produce per acre, would yield an annual income of landed produce to the amount of one hundred million sterling, whereas the total value of landed produce in Ireland at present is but £45,000,000.
• To ascribe, therefore, the periodical or general distress in Ireland merely to a redundant population, is a monstrous fallacy. Every one cries out for the employment of capital in Ireland, in order to relieve the poor, or for a tax upon absentees. Dr. Doyle shows clearly, that both these measures will be accomplished by the interposition of the Legislature in attending to the interests of the poor. This politic, and at the same time comprehensively benevolent man, says: "Capital is not employed in Ireland, because there are many canses which deter men from embarking capital in a country, which could be employed with more safety, if not with more profit, in another. The chief obstacle to the employment of capital in the improvement of lands, or the establishment of manufactures in Ireland, is the unsettled state of the population in that country, the nightly outrages which result from that state, as well as the want of character in the common people themselves. All those things tend very much to prevent the investment of
capital in land in Ireland, by men who, if society were better arranged, would not hesitate so to vest it. I think, therefore, it would be the duty of the Legislature to open wider the prospect of usefully employing capital in Ireland; to give greater facilities and encouragements to the investments of capital; to hold out inducements to men to settle in that country, by preparing for them a quiet and well-ordered population.
"" But these preparations cannot be made by the natural force of things, but to produce them it is necessary that the Legislature should interpose. Again, there are a great many persons, some of whom I know personally, and many by character, who are at present absent from Ireland; men of limited fortunes, who are invited by the luxuries and ease and the improved state of society in foreign countries to be absent. If those persons were threatened with an assessment upon their property, such threat would urge them upon one side, whilst a better system of society existing at home would invite them upon the other; and those two causes thus operating, would, no doubt, produce the effect of leading those men both to dwell at home, and to invest capital in that country which they now desert.”
. There is another benefit, no less important, to be derived from the introduction of poor laws in Ireland, which the politician and the Christian are equally interested in obtaining for my unfortunate country, and that is, the associating together of Protestants and Catholics in the holy offices of charity, and in fulfilling the commands of our Blessed Redeemer by administering to the necessities of our fellow-creatures, no matter the form of religion which they have been taught. The instance detailed at questions 4500 and 4501 of the evidence shews the value of such spiritual communion.
• There is one more view of the question as to the necessity of immediately introducing poor laws, which, however desirous I may be to compress
pages, I cannot avoid adverting to; it is the rapid, the frightful, the appalling-physical as well as moral -- degeneration of the
poor of Ireland. Dr. Doyle stated to the Committee (and thousands can corroborate his assertion), that “at a period within his recollection the labouring men in Ireland were much more manly- much more strong-much more animated, and altogether a better race of people than they now are. I recollect, when a boy, to see them assemble at public sports in thousands, and to witness on such occasions, exhibitions of strength and activity which I have not witnessed for some years past, for at present they have not either the power or the disposition to practise those athletic sports and games which were frequent in our country when I was a youth. Moreover, I now see persons who get married between twenty and thirty years of age; they become poor, weakly, and emaciated in their appearance; and very often, if you question a man and ask him what age he is, you will find he has not passed fifty. We have, in short, a disorganized population, becoming by their poverty more and more immoral, and less and less capable of providing for themselves; and we have, besides that, the frightful, and awful, and terrific exhibition of human life wasted with a rapidity, and to a degree, such as is not witnessed in any civilized country upon the face of the earth.