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so much more tangible, so much more intelligible to them, so much more felt in the every-day intercourse of life.
"But what is the condition of the people? Mr. O'Connell says, that the condition of the labouring classes is so bad, that it is astonishing how they preserve health: there is a total privation of every thing like comfort; and their existence is such, that the inferior animals of this country would not endure it. Their houses, or cabins, than which it would be impossible to have any thing worse, are built of mud, covered partly with thatch, and partly what are called scraws, and but miserably defended against the winds and rains of heaven; that they have no furniture, not a box, nor a dresser, nor a plate, and indeed scarcely any utensil except a cast-metal pot to boil their potatoes in; that their bedding consists in general of straw; that a blanket is a rarity, that they are without bedsteads, and whole families, both male and female, sleep in the same apartment; that they have but one suit of clothes, or more properly rags, no change in case of wet or accident, and that their food, throughout the greatest part of the year, consists of potatoes and water; during the rest of the year, of potatoes and sour milk; that there is no regular employment for the people, and that the rate of wages when they are employed varies from sixpence to fourpence a day; that money is an article hardly known by the Irish peasant, and yet, notwith
standing the scarcity of this commodity, that the land-jobbers set their land according to the cornacre system, at the enormous rent of eight or ten pounds an acre. The consequence of these enormous rents, and the great avidity of the Irish peasant to possess land, which, in fact, for want of employment, is necessary for his subsistence,the consequence is an extraordinary increase in the number of sub-lettings, so it happens not unfrequently, that there are six or seven persons between the proprietor in fee and the actual occupier.
"But how does Mr. O'Connell describe the state of society in which such a state of things is suffered to exist? How does he describe the effect of the law passed to check these evils, and the conduct of the people towards each other in the daily intercourse of life? In consequence of these sub-lettings, the spirit of litigation is increased, their dealings with one another are frequently complicated, and they are invariably harsh and unfeeling towards each other in pecuniary matters. The appeals to courts of law are numerous, and on the most trivial occasions; but when they do appear the most frightful immorality is exhibited. The obligation of an oath is disregarded; the flippant and distinct swearer is always successful; to have a conscience is an inconvenience, and parents employ their children, at the earliest age, to be their witnesses in courts of justice; to get rid as soon as possible of the
ties of conscience, and to think falsehood and perjury the only means of successful litigation.
"Mr. O'Connell then proceeds to describe the effect which the laws have had in checking the evil habits of the peasantry in these counties; and no wonder that he is much disappointed at their result. Laws are made to regulate and guide society, to guard against the frailty of human nature, to protect the weak against the strong, and to give a practical evidence of the advantages of order and regularity over force and lawlessness; but, in order to be useful, laws must be kindly administered, and unless there are agents to carry them into execution, it would be just as well to have no laws at all. Such is the unfortunate condition of this part of the country, the materiel for executing the laws is so bad, that justice is a total stranger to these districts; the laws which have been found good in more favoured parts, are here the very cause of tyranny and oppression. The unfortunate people seem to labour under a political curse; the order of nature is reversed, and the vine-tree is made to produce the thorn, and the fig-tree to bear the thistle. Mr. O'Connell says, that every act of Parliament passed since the peace, has had the effect of depressing the people, and rendering their condition worse; nor does he confine himself to the laws passed since the peace; he seems totally to forget that it is the administration of the laws by the Roman Catholics them
selves, and not the laws, which is the cause of the depraved condition of the people. How else can a law be found useful in Ulster, and injurious in Munster?"
"If there be one fact," said the present Bishop of London, in 1825, "which the evidence put lately into your lordships' hands more clearly establishes than another, it is this; that up to a very recent date, the disturbances in Ireland have had nothing to do with Roman Catholic disabilities. The calamities of that unhappy country have a far different origin. She labours under the malignant influence of a more deeplyseated, a more inveterate, but I trust in God, not an incurable disease. It was stated, in evidence, by a distinguished member of another House, that the proximate cause of disturbance in Ireland, is the extreme misery of the peasantry: the remote is to be found in what he justly designated a radically vicious state of society-a state, which, if your lordships will condescend to hear the opinion of one so inexperienced in political questions, I should say, requires the most prompt and vigorous measures of statistic legislation. It is, indeed, such a state of society as exists in no other Christian country; where the chief proprietors of the soil are absent, and their places supplied by persons of inferior education, and, what is worse, of immoral habits; a system of tenancy engrafted upon tenancy, which, by an almost inconceivable climax of extortion, wrings at length from the miserable cultivator of the soil,
more than the soil itself produces; where whole provinces obstinately adhere to absurd and obsolete usages in direct opposition to the common and statute law of the realm.
"Such a state of society as this is to be corrected, not by such measures as that which is now before the House, but by other measures of a more comprehensive and efficacious kind; by the adoption of a more equitable system of tenure; by a purer administration of justice in its inferior departments; by an alteration of the revenue laws; by the establishment of manufactures and the extension of commerce; by the introduction of an effective system of education; and last, but not least, because it would lead the way to all the rest, by the return of the proprietors of the soil.
"Relief from the evils of such a system, is the emancipation of which Ireland stands in need: this is the emancipation which would raise her from her degraded state, by rescuing her sons first from sloth and reckless poverty, and then from ignorance, superstition, and insubordination. When this comprehensive act of justice shall have been done; when these effectual remedies have been applied, and their effects perceived in the civil and moral improvement of her population, then it will be time enough to talk of further concessions of political power.
"It appears that until the year 1823, the great body of the Roman Catholics cared but little