Images de page

relatives at home. A correspondent of the writer's has informed him, that, having made inquiry from the various banking-houses in that city and in Philadelphia and Baltimore, he found that the remittances by small orders from £1 to £10, made by Irish emigrants to their friends in Ireland, in the year 1846, amounted in all to 1,000,000 dollars, or £200,000 sterling. These remittances, coming from working men and women depending upon their daily labour for support, prove at the same time their industry, their economy, and that love of kindred which absence and distance cannot efface.* Many of these remittances are sent to enable a relative to follow in the same path, to a land where industry has free scope and a sure reward. The husband sends home the means which may enable his wife and children to follow him ; the child sends for his parent, or the brother for his sister; and in this manner many whole families have gone, one after the other, to seek a new home in the West.

The writer is far from denying the influence of national character, and the hereditary transmission


In a letter dated July 12, the same correspondent says: "Bishop

Hughes sent me a note the other day, which he had just received from "Washington, enclosing five dollars, being the first earnings of a poor "emigrant only two weeks in the country, which he wanted to be sent "home to his suffering friends!"

of peculiar qualities in the various families of man; and it must be admitted that we do not possess the same patient and persevering industry, which so eminently distinguishes the people of England. Neither is he disposed to deny the influence of religion on the temporal well-being of mankind; but, on the contrary, to assert its paramount importance; and that, so far as Christian principle prevails and influences the heart, by whatever name we may be called, it brings out those virtues which constitute a good citizen, and promote the welfare of society.

Time alone can change the character of a nation, and develope those habits of continuous exertion, which distinguish an energetic and industrious people. The savage will exert himself violently for a time, when impelled by hunger or by strong passions; but his exertion ceases with the exciting cause, and he sinks again into listless inactivity. Civilization, by multiplying the wants of man, supplies a motive for industry. A permanent governing authority, which can give security to the acquisition aud possession of property, maintain the supremacy of law, and protect all classes in the enjoyment of their rights, is essential to its full development. Has not England enjoyed these advantages more than any other European nation? Perhaps the civilization introduced by the Romans

into Britain was never wholly lost. Certainly England had made considerable progress before the Norman invasion. The whole country was divided into counties, hundreds, and tithings, which possessed local jurisdiction and administrative powers. The division into parishes also dates from the Saxon period, and appears to have received but little alteration subsequently. Most of the towns and villages which now cover the face of the country, appear to have existed then, and bear their original Saxon names. The oppression of the Norman invaders, and the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, involving the country in civil war, retarded its improvement for a time; but since the termination of these wars on the accession of Henry VII. to the throne, with but little exception, internal peace has been preserved, the laws have been upheld, and the rights of property maintained. To these favoring circumstances we may well attribute those habits of patient industry, which have made England the wonder and the envy of surrounding nations.

How different are the circumstances by which the industrial character of the Irish people has been formed. A prey to civil dissension, even prior to the invasion by England; from that period harassed by constant warfare; oppressed though not conquered; refused the benefits and protection

of English law, yet punished as rebels for disobedience to English authority; the whole clan held accountable for the conduct of its chieftain, and the property of all confiscated, if he ventured to assert his independence; such was the condition of Ireland from the time of Henry II. until its more complete conquest by Cromwell. Under such circumstances, improvement was impossible.

The peace and quietude which succeeded the unsuccessful attempt to support James II. on the throne of England, might have been favorable to industry, had they been wisely taken advantage of, but the degrading effect of the penal laws,* which

* Of these penal laws Burke observes, that " they were as well fitted "for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of a people, and "the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded "from the perverted ingenuity of man."


Arthur Young, in his "Tour in Ireland," speaks of the effects of these penal laws on industry, in the following terms: "The only "considerable manufacture in Ireland which carries in all its parts the appearance of industry, is the linen, and it ought never to be forgotten "that this is solely confined to the Protestant parts of the kingdom; "yet we may see from the example of France and other countries, that "there is nothing in the Roman Catholic religion itself that is incom'patible with manufacturing industry. The poor Catholics in the South "of Ireland spin wool very generally, but the purchasers of their labour "and the whole woollen trade are in the hands of the Quakers of "Clonmel, Carrick, Bandon, &c. The fact is, the professors of that "religion are under such discouragements, that they cannot engage in "any trade which requires both industry and capital. If they succeed "and make a fortune, what are they to do with it? They can neither

[ocr errors]


'buy land, nor take a mortgage, nor even fine down the rent of a lease. "Where is there a people in the world to be found industrious under "such circumstances? But it seems to be the meaning, wish, and intent

were evidently intended to enslave the Roman Catholics, by preventing them from acquiring property, was a serious bar to improvement. To this was added the commercial jealousy of the English people, under the influence of the theory of protection, now so generally exploded. From this jealousy resulted the restrictions on the intercourse of Ireland with foreign nations, a systematic discou

"of the discovery laws, that none of them should ever be rich. It is "the principle of that system that wealthy subjects would be nuisances, " and therefore every means is taken to reduce and keep them to a state "of poverty. If this is not the intention of the laws, they are the "most abominable heap of self-contradictions that ever were issued to "the world. They are framed in such a manner, that no Catholic "shall have the inducement to become rich. But if, in spite of these "laws, he should accidentally gain wealth, that the whole kingdom "should not afford him a possibliity of investing it. Take the laws "and their execution into one view, and this state of the case is so true, "that they actually do not seem to be so much levelled at the religion, as at the property that is found in it. By the law, a priest is to be transported and hanged for reading mass, but the mass is very readily "left to them with impunity. Let the same priest, however, make a “ fortune by his mass, and from that moment he is the object of perse"cution. The domineering aristocracy of five hundred thousand Pro"testants feel the sweets of having two millions of slaves; they have "not the least objection to the tenets of that religion, which keeps them "by the laws of the land in subjection; but property and slavery are "too incompatible to live together. Hence the special care taken that "no such thing should arise among them."-Part II. p. 33.



"The system pursued in Ireland has had no other tendency but that "of driving out of the kingdom all the personal wealth of the Catholics, "and prohibiting their industry within it. The face of the country, every object, in short, which presents to the eye of a traveller, tell "him how effectually this has been done. I urge it not as an argument; ⚫ the whole kingdom speaks it as a fact.”—Part II. p. 34.

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »