PRACTICAL LETTERS ON IRELAND.
SIR—By admitting that the advocates of systematic colonizatioefrom Ireland have not hitherto succeeded in producing a plan which has commanded general assent, I am-aware that I lay myself open to an argument, from induction, against the probability that any such plan can be produced; and also that I shall be asked what I have to propose of such a specific nature as to make its adoption a matter for practical consideration, and which shall be free from the objections that apply to the plain of others. Now, it is very true that no man, who contents himself with vague and general praise of systematic colonization in the abstract is entitled to claim public attention; and I am very far front intending to pursue such a course myself: but it is no less true that the nature of the case almost inevitably precludes an individual from being able, by the inspiration of his own genius, anil with information derived solely from private sources, to devise a detailed plan, susceptible of being carried out by Government without modification. A great colonizing operation cannot be effected, like a reform in the Tariff, for example, or in the Post-office system, by recognizing and adopting a simple general principle, about the application of which, when its soundness is once ascertained, there is but little difficulty or variety of opinion. On the contrary, the removal of an old and the creation of a new people must necessarily be among the most arduous as well as the noblest functions which milers can undertake; must involve the exer- cise of rare and high faculties, and require vast and varied knowledge. The character and habits of the nation from whence the emigration goes forth, the nature and circumstances of the eountry which is to receive it, the feelings and wishes of the colonists already established therein, must all be included and weighed in the comprehensive grasp of the presiding mind; difficulties, moral and physical, which the largest and wisest foresight could not have anticipated or provided against, must be perpetually arising,—difficulties which, if looked upon not as removable obstacles, but as decisive objections, will readily form an excuse for casting aside the plan in which they occur. Coloni- zation must be a matter, firstly, of inquiry, secondly, of negotiation and manage- ment, thirdly, of apt and careful administration; and it is inconceivable that a p'a's capable of immediate adoption should emanate from those who have neither authority to propose nor agency to negotiate—whose means of information must be comparatively limited and uncertain, and who, when unexpected obstacles arise, have no opportunity of correcting the mistakes which may have produced them. These are the reasons why the plans of individuals have generally been made to appear crude and unpractical; being unfortunately looked upon by those to whom they have been submitted rather as subjects for hostile criticism than as suggestions and tentatives to be favourably investigated and carefully improved upon. On the other hand, the reason why the Government of this country has never framed a plan of adequate colonization is to be found in the fact, that the department which is chiefly concerned in doing so has always bad its hands far too full to think of making new business for itself. The task imposed upon the Colonial Office is nothing less than that of governing, at the distance, in some cases, of half the globe's circumference, and with machinery glaringly in- adequate, twenty or thirty distinct countries; separated from each other bydiver- sity of the race, laws, and habits of their populations, as widely as by their rela- tive geographical position. To men engaged in such an overwhelming and hair- less business the very idea of additional labour and responsibility must be repul- sive in the extreme. Such are the obstacles which have hitherto proved insur- mountable. Private individuals have been prevented by want of opporttinity and means, official men by want of leisure and inclination, from undertaking an opera- tion which, as the voice of the empire and of the civilized world now unites in declaring, must be sooner or later undertaken by the British nation. Unfortu- nately, the difference between "-sooner" and "later" is often nothing less than the difference between right and wrong, success and failure. "Over-population," says Carlyle in Chartism, "iii the anomaly which brings all other anomalies to a crisis"; and who shall say that the crisis has not now arrived, and that a deci- sion, one way or another, must not be come to at once? It is satisfactory to perceive that public opinion (I mean thereby the opinion of those best qualified to judge) appears at last to be awakening to the conviction that emigration affords an indispensable remedy for the evils under which we suffer, and that the causes which I have described as hindering its adoption will not long be patiently acquiesced in. I will just indieate some of the more pro- minent symptoms of this disposition, as they have appeared in different quarters. First, as regards those most immediately interested in the improvement of this country. There can be no doubt whatever in the mind of one who resides in Ire- land, that the possessors and occupiers of laud are now almost universally in favour of national emigration : indeed, that they look to it so much is made a sub- ject of accusation and complaint against them by their enemies. The numbers of those who signed the Memorial to Lord John Russell on the subject afford a very inadequate criterion of the general sentiment, because the plan which was embodied in that Memorial involved details of a nature peculiarly calculated to shock the prejudices and provoke the hostility of numerous distinct classes in Ireland. I have reason to feel satisfied that a mere declaration in favour of an emigration far larger than has yet been tried, and of a willingness to bear a fair proportion of the expense thereof, might have been obtained from nine-tenths of those who possess property in Irish soil. Even men who up to this time have advocated other remedies now abandon them, and admit that the first thing needful is emigration. For example, no man is more thoroughly acquainted with- the economical condition 9f Ireland, or more capable of forming an enlightened opinion upon its defects and requirements, than Mr. William Blacker. Hitherto, both in writing and conversation, he has been in the habit of depreciating emigration, as an insufficient and temporary remedy, and has pointed to scientific improve- ments in agriculture exclusively as the means of improving the material condi- tion of the people. But the events of the last year have, by his own admission, changed his opinion; and I find him, accordingly, giving evidence before the Lords Committee to the effect " that, the staple food of the people having dis- appeared, a long period of time and a great outlay of capital is required to replace it; that the social state of Ireland is such as to preclude all hope of the invest- ment of capital, and that under these circumstances the only resource left is emi- gration." This is precisely the chain of reasoning which I have been attempt- ing to exhibit; and lam rejoiced to find myself supported by such an authority as Mr. Blacker,—an authority the more valuable because that of a convert, who em- braces, not without natural reluctance, a theory which he has long combated. I will quote but one other Irish authority; it shall be that of one no less distinguished as a practical improver than Mr. Blacker is ass theorist—I mean Lord George Ha Lord George's efforts to reclaim the bogs and civilize the peasantry at Gweed on the coast of Donegal, are well known, and have obtained for him a high deserved reputation. The "Times Commissioner" devoted, as I remember, one of his letters to a description of them; - and Sir Robert Peel held him up last year in the House of Commons to Irish landlords as a model for imitation. For many years indeed, his proceedings have been (I may say) the stock in trade of those 'whose nostrum 18 the improvement of waste lands; we have all been bidden to go and employ our people like Lord George Hill, and informed that if we did 80 WO should bear no more of "surplus popnl ition." I was therefore forcibly struck by finding Lord George's name included in the list of those who signed the
Memorial on Emigration to which I have already referred, and which represents in the strongest terms the absolute inefficiency of all other measures without R. As it is well known that Lord George's quell-
cations and opportunities for the task to which he had devoted his use, were such as very few can hope to possess, and that he had accord- ingly accomplished greater results in the way of enabling a dense agricultural population to support itself at home than any one else ever did or is likely to do, I am entitled to consider his admission, that more is wanted, as deciaive, and to claim that the theory of Home Colonization (as a sufficient remedy) be abandoned at once. I could easily multiply to any extent the testimonies of intelligent and well-informed Irishmen to the same effect; but I will content myself with a gene- ral reference to the evidence given before the same Committee by Dr.Montgo- mmy, Mr. Speight, Mr. Monsell, Mr. De Vere, and Mr. Kincaid. I can hardly conceive how any impartial mind can resist the force of their statements and ar- foments, as to the necessity of very large emigration to save both England and Ws. ad from the canker of a huge and increasing pauperism; more especially since, as I must repeat, no other method of getting rid of it permanently has been supported by anything deserving the name of argument The next points tote considered are—the possibility of procuring money and machinery for carrying on a large emigration, and the opinion which the Colonies are likely to entertain about receiving it. Upon these points I think an equaty satisfactory answer will be found in the testimonies which have been elicited by the events of this year from the parties immediately concerned. As regards the Imperial Parliament, upon which depends the supply of means, I conceive that the result of the debates on Lord Lincoln's and Lord Monteagle's motions pledges it, so far as such an assembly can be said to be pledged, not to shrink from the necessary efforts and sacrifices in furtherance of a really good plan of colonization. Those motions were for "inquiry into the means by which colonization may be made subsidiary to other measures for the relief of Ireland"; and in both Houses they were unanimously agreed to. Now, it is important to consider what is in- volved in their terms, as I have transcribed them. They assume, as I contend, that colonization is not now subsidiary to the measures which the social improve- ment of Ireland requires; otherwise, inquiry into the means whereby it may be made so would be impertinent. Further, as I cannot suppose that Parliament is prepared to stultify itself by first directing inquiry to be made as to the expe- diency.of a certain measure, and then refusing to carry it out in case the result of the inquiry should be favourable, and as no measure of colonization can possibly be carried out without funds' I think that I have a right to infer that those who assented to the motions referred to are also prepared to employ the pecuniary re- sources of the country in carrying out such a plan of colonization (always supposing that it can be devised) as may promote improvement in the social condition of Ireland. And this view is fully coofirmed by the terms in which the Queen's answer to the address of the House 'of COMIRORS was couched. Her Majesty's words were' "I am deeply sensible of the advantages to he derived from the adoption offurther measures for the promotion of colonization." Again, Lord Grey concludes his despatch of the 1st of April, addressed to Lord Elgin, thus— "I can assure you, that if you should be able to arrange any plan which may ap- pear calculated to prove successful, her Majesty's Ministers will not be slow to propose, nor, judging from the opinions generally expressed, would Parliament be slow to sanction, the employment of the pecuniary means of this country in fur- therance of such an object." The tone of the debates on the subject in both•Houses was also very favourable; all the speakers appearing to be at least sen- sible that nothing else at all equal to the emergency had been proposed. Espe- cial notice is due to Sir Robert Peel's speech, in which he shortly but forcibly ex- pressed his sense of the dangers which impend over Ireland, pointed out the strange contrast which the existing distribution of population over the em- pire exhibits, and very earnestly implored the House to use active and immediate efforts to discover the means of removing such an anomaly. Indeed, the mere fact of the question being taken up in a deliberate and formal manner by so prominent and distinguished a member of the Peel Ministry as Lord Lincoln is highly encouraging to the advocates of colonization. It is re- tnarkable 0E4 the only movement mad; or active part taken in Irish affairs during the last session by the section of statesmen to which Lord Lincoln belongs, consisted in thus recommending colonization to the notice of the Legislature and the Government; and the unanimous assent and approval with which the recommendation was received permits us to hope that the subject will not again be suffered to drop. We have now on our side the ex- pressed and recorded opinions of all the statesmen on both sides of the House who have given to the subject any serious attention: all have professed themselves in- clined-to look in the same direction with hope and expectation more or less san- guine; all are agreed as to the benefits which ought to be realized by extensive emigration; all are anxious to discover a plan by which the difficulties hitherto experienced maybe overcome; and all, we may hope, are prepared to give to such a plan their fall and zealot's support. Such has been the progress of other great causes which have ultimately triumphed in this country. The slave-trade was long denounced in theory, by the leading orators and statesmen of both parties, before the public mind was convinced by their arguments, and before any Minister had the moral courage to bring forward a specific plan for its abolition. The re- moval of the Roman Catholic disabilities presents us with a history of similar struggles, similar difficulties, and similar success. It is impossible that systematic colonization should be permitted to continue a mere brutum fulmen, used alter- nately by each party, while in opposition, as a thesis for eloquent declamation, and laid aside while in office, under the plea of impracticability. The earnest practical people of this country will insist on something being done after so great an amount of talk; the "collective wisdom of the nation" stands pledged to devise a plan of colonization; and each year's experience, while it exhibits more forcibly the necessity of such a plan serves also to elucidate more clearly the principles upon which it must be founded. Lastly, as regards the Colonies—I have been much pliased by observing that amidst universal and not unnatural complaints among colonists of the nature of the emigration which has this year been poured upon Canada, there is not to be found any expression of opinion (on the part of persons entitled to claim atten- tion) adverse to the principle of a large emigration, .If properly conducted. On the contrary, while such is the state of public feeling in Canada, that Lord Elgin bas felt himself bound to "represent the necessity of adopting measures to pre- vent emigration to the colony except under more efficient arrangements," I find a.general and increasing recognition on the part of public men in the North Ame- rican Provinces, of the incalculable advantage which they would derive from a teal and effective stimulus to the occapation and cultivation of their now unpro- fitable wastes. The events of the present year in Ireland at first produced a widespread expectation that the British Government were about to propose a large measure of colonization; and no man can have perused the Colonial newspapers, or watched the debates of Colonial Legislatures, without being convinced that they would have been ready to welcome, and cooperate in any such measure, pro- vided that it were of a judicious and well-considered kind. As an evidence of this feeling, I may mention the address delivered in the Mechanics' Hall at To- ronto by Mr. Sullivan, formerly head of the Provincial Cabinet; in which, allud- ing specially to the distress then prevailing in Ireland, he invited the Government to send over a million of the Irish people to Canada alone; and eloquently ex- patiated, with the entire approbation of his audience, on the benefits which their arrival would confer upon the colony. Mr. Parke, late Surveyor- General of Canada, has just published a detailed plan for settling a million and a half of people in that province. Chief-Justice Robinson's Opinions upon the advantages to be derived from the promotion of Irish
immigration by Government are fully expressed in his correspondence with Sir R. W. Horton, previously to the formation of the experimental settle- ment at Peterborough in-1825. Mr. Uniacke, who was examined before the Lords Colonization Committee, has given the most unequivocal evidence as to the advantages which Nova Scotia would derive from such a measure, and as to the readiness with which her Legislature would join in promoting it. The evidence of Mr. Cunard and Mr. Perley is all to the same effect with regard to New Brunswick and Prince Edward's Island. In a letter received by the last mail from a gentleman of great intelligence and information, holding a situation of public trust in Canada West, the following passage occurs—" The people here are by no means averse to colonization: they rather desire it, satisfied that the set- tlement of the interior is of vital importance to our trading towns in particular ... We must look to the Mother-country for manufactured articles; if a great scheme of colonization takes place, we shall be great customers: as Lord Brougham once said, every tree felled in a colony sets a shuttle going at home."
But it is from the West Indies and Australia that the loudest and most inces- sant demand for labour proceeds. Selection from the evidence given by witnessed from those colonies is unnecessary, indeed impossible. I will only say, that it is very difficult to read, as I have read, the descriptions given by them of neglected land, of wasted food, of capital driven from the most profitable fields—entirely for want of hands to till, of mouths to eat, of labourers to work them—and look around at the very same time, as I do daily, upon crowds of able-bodied men, earnestly praying to be allowed to work for the lowest wages compatible with RT- istence—and praying in vain—without feeling that there is a great work yet to be accomplished with these materials by the rulers of this empire; and that he who shall solve the problem which it involves will rank among the greatest bene-