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It would certainly be unjust for any government to compel to emigration any of its subjects who were able and desirous to subsist themselves at home: but when a man throws himself upon the public for support, he cannot fairly complain (even on the supposition of his having a natural right to such support) that it should be afforded him in the manner and under the conditions which the public may find convenient; at least, if he is not made to suffer any severe hardship or privation. It is a just though homely proverb, that "beggars must not be choosers;" but in truth, if we compare the condition of the poor in most workhouses, or of those who receive parish relief at home, with that in which they might be placed, according to the proposed scheme, (without any increased expence to the public,) we cannot fail to conclude that the latter would be the object of choice, to every one who was really acquainted with both situations.
And it should be remembered that, according to the poor laws at present, a man is often obliged in order to obtain relief, to quit the spot and the friends to which he has been accustomed most part of his life, and remove to a distant parish.
If such paupers as were able to work, were to be employed by government in the manner proposed, a salutary distinction might very easily be preserved between them and the convicts who might be sentenced to the same labor. The two classes would of course be kept always separate, and would be distinguished by their dress; to the convicts would be allotted the more severe and unpleasant labor; the others might be allowed more liberty, better fare, and a greater share of comforts and conveniences; and might after a time, on good behaviour, be settled in the possession of a cottage and a portion of land.
It could not, I think, be fairly objected that this measure would be any improper interference with the concerns of any particular parishes; since the whole mass of paupers must ultimately be maintained, some how or other, by the whole mass of the community; and the laws which enforce their maintenance, though not adminis tered by officers appointed by government, are by no means of the nature of bye-laws, but public and general enactments, The public therefore may, without any undue encroachment, take what measures it thinks fit, for their better execution.
I wish it, however, to be distinctly understood, that what I am now proposing forms no necessary part of the main scheme.
Other plans would probably be devised, if the general measure of colonization were once resolved upon, for finding means to carry it into execution, and for deriving from it various subordinate advantages. The few loose hints I have thrown out, are, I trust, sufficient to show, that such means and such advantages may be found; and thus to give some additional weight to what has been urged in favor of the general principle of the proposed scheme. That scheme appears to me to hold out advantages so perfectly attainable, so immensely valuable, and indeed of such pressing necessity in the present state of things, that if I have been at all successful in giving adequate expression to my ideas, I can hardly think that the subject will be dismissed with neglect, by those who give it a candid consideration.
I have purposely indeed forborne to enlarge upon many important points intimately connected with the subject; because they are either already known, or easily may be known, from many recent publications. For this reason I have entered into no general discussion of the principle of population, which has been so ably treated by yourself; nor of the comparative advantages of manufactures and agriculture, and the importance of directing a large portion of our capital to the latter: neither have I attempted any detailed account of the distresses and dangers to which Ireland is exposed; nor of the extent and nature of the peat-bogs, and the process of bringing them into a state of permanent fertility, without withdrawing from other lands any portion of their stock of ma
All these subjects, and many others, intimately connected with the present, have been ably and amply handled in various publications, which will be found fully to establish the facts I have assumed, and to warrant the conclusions I have drawn.
Let then the unprejudiced enquirer consider with the earnestness the subject demands, whether we have it not in our power by adopting this measure, to accomplish simultaneously several of the most important objects that can be proposed for the public benefit, namely, to fertilize, without injury to other lands, an immense portion of waste, which is now not only absolutely useless, (and likely, without public interference, ever to remain so), but also ex
tremely detrimental to the country; to lessen our dependence on foreign countries, by increasing the home supply of food; to open a moderate but constant drain of our surplus population in Great Britain, and at the same time to raise up a most valuable additional population in Ireland, not only without any detriment to the rest of that country, but with the greatest benefit to it in point of safety, tranquillity, and improvement; in short, to obtain an important accession to the general mass of public strength and happiness from that very quarter which has hitherto been the most fruitful source of misery and crime, the principal cause of public uneasiness and alarm. If it appeared to the public-spirited and candid inquirer that these advantages are within our reach, he could not surely hesitate to exert himself in promoting the adoption, either of the means I have suggested, or else of such others as he might think more conducive to so valuable an end. The object I have in view cannot, I think, but be allowed to be so important and beneficial that it would be inexcusable to regard it with indifference: but I should most sincerely rejoice if abler politicians were to suggest improvements as to the method to be adopted for attaining it.
I am, Sir,
with great respect, &c. &c.