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built by the settlers; who should be bound to engage and bring with them a certain number of labourers from their own country. As they would be enabled from the low rate at which they obtained the land, to offer high wages, they would probably find no great difficulty in fulfilling this condition; especially as the labourers would at a low rent obtain cottages, with perhaps a small portion of ground attached; such as should be (according to your judicious remarks on the subject) insufficient for a full subsistence, but enough to supply the comforts of a garden.
The size of the farms might vary according to circumstances; and if honest and industrious settlers were in any case unable to pay down their purchase money at once, a part of it might be left on mortgage of the land, to be paid by instalments after they had begun to reap the profits.
The purchase money thus returned, I will suppose to be considerably less than the sum laid out, as I have reckoned the land to be disposed of at a low rate: when therefore this was increased by accumulation of interest, or additional subscriptions, to the amount of the original sum, the same process should be repeated; and so on, indefinitely.
It would probably be thought expedient to reclaim a pretty large portion at once; in order that a considerable body of settlers might be sent over together, who would thus afford each other support, society, and mutual encouragement. But it would perhaps be advisable to purchase a larger tract of waste than would be reclaimed at once; and so to portion out the part that was improved, that each farm should have a certain quantity of undrained bog attached to it. This would afford a stimulus to the industry of the settlers; who would be strongly incited to employ those portions of leisure time when there was little or nothing to be done on their farms, in gradually bringing this waste-land into cultivation; and thus forming an increasing provision for their increasing population. By this means a large additional quantity of waste land would in time be fertilized at an expense which might be considered as absolutely nothing; since the greater part of the time and labour employed on this, would otherwise have
been nearly wasted.' This circumstance alone might make the speculation turn out profitably in the end, considered in a national point of view; though it is evident that it would very little affect the private speculator. This consideration therefore should be added to the arguments which have been already adduced on that head.
Should Government hereafter think fit to devote an annual sum to the promotion of so beneficial an object, the progress of colonization would go on with continually increasing rapidity; since the purchase-money or quit rents (however low) would be forming a continually greater addition to the yearly sum. Thus while the dreary wastes, instead of affording shelter to a lawless banditti, were overspread more and more with a thriving and useful race of cultivators, a continually increasing drain would be opened for our surplus population at home.
To infer from what has taken place in many other colonies, that there would in this case be much difficulty in procuring and in subsisting settlers, would surely indicate more despondency than sound judgment. You have remarked with great reason, that men will in general submit to considerable hardships at home rather than embark for a distant colony of which they can know nothing but from representations of the very persons who invite them to go; where they are likely never to hear more of the friends they have left behind; and whence they will hardly find an opportunity, should their expectations be disappointed, of returning to their country but you are the last person, I am sure, to think of concluding from this, that the same feeling and in the same degree will exist with respect to Ireland; a country of which they may gain information from so many quarters, in which they may hear regularly from their friends, and from which they may, if dissatisfied, so speedily and so safely return: especially when it is
I understand that this is the way in which improvement has been effected in the greater part of that small proportion of hog-land which has hitherto been brought into cultivation in Ireland: viz. from the neighbouring cottagers gradually encroaching, as it were, on the peat-moss, by employing on it whatever labour and dressing they could from time to time spare.
considered that the inconveniences and wants and helplessness of a colony, dependent on farfetched and precarious supplies, cannot be felt in a country where every necessary and convenience of life may be pretty easily purchased. There seems therefore no reason to doubt that not only the pressure of want (to which many industrious individuals in various places must always be accidentally exposed) but also the natural desire of all men to better their condition would induce a sufficient number to accept the offer: he who had acquired agricultural skill and saved money, as a farmer's upper servant, would be delighted to occupy on easy terms a farm of his own; and a common labourer with a large family would be tempted by an increase of wages. If these motives influenced but a very small proportion of the population of Great Britain, it would be amply sufficient for the purpose in question. The aboriginal Irish, for reasons obviously resulting from what has been said above, would not be admitted as members of the proposed colony; but they might advantageously and with great benefit to themselves, be employed as labourers in draining and otherwise preparing the bog-land. Government would have various peculiar methods of procuring both workmen and settlers. 1st. There seems no reason why convicts should not be employed in cutting drains, &c. (a laborious yet healthy occupation) much more advantageously than at Botany Bay; and any additional trouble or expense that might be incurred in guarding them (which even there, is not small) would be much more than counter-balanced by the shortness of the voyage.
It is possible that many of the Irish (of tho e especially who are on the watch for any occasion of complaint) might be offended at this preference as an insult to their nation: but the answer is obvious, that they are fully at liberty to pursue the same scheme themselves: by draining other bogs and settling their countrymen upon them. For if the scheme proposed was to be immediately followed up with the utmost vigour, there would still remain, a century hence, abundance of unreclaimed waste for them to improve. Indeed nothing would be more desirable than this kind of emulation. But any considerable mixture among the settlers would I think tend to the failure of the plan.
But if the Irish proprietors refuse to cultivate and people these wastes, they cannot surely complain that others should attempt it. Such complaints would savour of the spirit of the dog in the manger.
In the appendix to your essay you have adverted to a plan of rewarding with a cottage and a small piece of land such soldiers as may have served, with meritorious behaviour, for a certain period: if such allotments were made (of the reclaimed peat-bogs of Ireland) to deserving soldiers, either regular or militia, and especially such as had served in that very country; besides the other advantages which your plan holds out, there would be the additional one, of continually supplying, to a country so liable to disturbances, a population not of actually embodied soldiers, (and therefore perhaps less likely to excite feelings of irritation) yet of men acquainted with the use of arms, and accustomed to discipline; and thus capable both of defending themselves and their fellow settlers against marauders, and also of acting promptly and boldly when called for, on the occasion of any serious insurrection.
I am aware that something of the kind was formerly attempted, on a small scale, in Scotland; and, in the majority of instances, proved unsuccessful; most of the settlers, after a time, forsaking their cottages in disgust. But it appears to me that this may be wholly accounted for from several circumstances which in the present case might be altogether avoided. 1. In the first place these farms appear to have been for the most part neither fertile nor wellimproved; and consequently must (especially in such a climate as Scotland) have required severe labor and promised no very abudant return: 2dly, A circumstance of much more consequence is, that they were bestowed on veterans, who had been so long in the service as to have acquired completely military habits, and to have lost, from long disuse, all skill and industry in agricultural labors : 3rd. Lastly, these settlers seem to have been scattered about at considerable intervals; which alone would generate disgust, from a want of the society they had been used to. Whereas in the plan now proposed, young men, who had not long served, would be settled on well-improved land in a favourable climate, and in. considerable bodies together, so that they would have their former messmates for neighbours.
Such, in most respects, were the Roman colonies during the most flourishing periods of the state: an institution which probably contributed more than all other causes together, to enable Rome to retain so firmly such extensive provinces, (notwithstanding the
oppression with which they were governed) and to diffuse so widely and so permanently her language, institutions and manners.
3d. The last hint I have to throw out on this head, relates to the relief and employment of paupers. Even the most zealous advocates for the natural right of the poor to relief, will allow that they ought to contribute to it as far as possible by their own labor; and even that, should this labor turn out, on any occasion, to be but little profitable, it is still desirable to keep the parish poor employed rather than idle the only question is, how to employ them in the best manner. The objections to their being engaged on a large scale in manufactures, have been so clearly stated by yourself and others that it cannot be necessary for me to enlarge upon them.
It is indeed evident that manufactures so supported must interfere with the profits of the independent, and probably more skilful and industrious workman; and consequently, though they may in each case somewhat lighten the burden of those who are actually supporting these poor, yet that same burden must fall the more heavily elsewhere. Besides which it should be considered that the more they are confined to sedentary manufactures, the more they will be exposed to the evils of filth, sickness, &c. If on the other hand those who are maintained by a parish are employed in agricultural labors, in their own neighbourhood, there is the same danger to be apprehended, as in the former case, of their interfering with the profits of the independent laborer; which evil, as it would in this case be more local, would for that reason be more severely felt. But if those whose labor is insufficient for their support, were employed by the public in cultivating the Irish peat-bogs, they would interfere with nobody for not only would no agricultural laborer elsewhere be at once thrown out of employment, but even in the event of their producing such an increased supply of corn as for a time to lower its price, we may be sure that the consumption would very soon overtake that supply. And the great advantage of such a plan would be that their earnings would at once enable them, not (as in the case of manufactures) to withdraw from others a portion of the common stock, but to supply themselves independently; and even increase the common stock of provisions.