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I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropped from its dam, may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 28., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.
There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas, too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.
The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about 200,000 couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract 30,000 couple who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom;) but this being granted, there will remain 170,000 breeders. I again subtract 50,000 for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain 120,000 children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for? which as I have already said under the present situation of affairs is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land; they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts; although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers; as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no saleable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above 31. or 31. 2s. 6d. at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or
kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout. I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the 120,000 children already computed, 20,000 may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining 100,000 may at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdon; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.
I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, will increase to 28 pounds.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentifully in March, and a little before and after for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about 2s. per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give 10s. for the carcass of a good fat child, which as I have said will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he has only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have 8s. net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
As to our city of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive than dressing them hot from the knife as we do roasting pigs.
A very worthy person, a true lover of his country and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said that many gentlemen of
this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of vension might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding 14 years of age nor under 12; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service; and these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable; and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would I think with humble submission be a loss to the public, because they soon would become breeders themselves: and besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly,) as a little bordering upon cruelty; which, I confess, has always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.
But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London above twenty years ago; and in conversation told my friend, that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality as a prime dainty; and that in his time the body of a plump girl of 15, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court, in joints from the gibbet, at 400 crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at playhouse and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young labourers they are now in almost as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.
I have too long digressed and therefore shall return to my subject. think the advantages by the proposal which I have made, are obvious and many as well as of the highest importance.
For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly over-run, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose to deliver the kingdom to the pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal
Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made
liable to distress and help to pay their landlord's rent; their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.
Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of 100,000 children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than 10s. a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased 50,000l. per annum, beside the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.
Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of 8s. sterling per annum by the sale of their children will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.
Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit or expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef, the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our table; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat, yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayor's feast or any other public entertainment. But this and many others I omit, being studious of brevity.
Supposing that 1000 families in this city would be constant customers for infants' flesh, beside others who might have it at merry-meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about 20,000 carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining 80,000.
I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and it was indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual kingdom of Ireland and for no other that ever was, is, or I think ever can be upon earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: of taxing our absentees at 5s. a pound of using neither clothes nor household furniture except what is of our own growth and manufacture: of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence,
and temperance of learning to love our country, in the want of which we differ even from LAPLANDERS and the inhabitants of TOPINAMBOO: of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: of being a little cautious not to sell our country and conscience for nothing: of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants: lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shopkeepers; who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our negative goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing though often and earnestly invited to it.
Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he has at least some glimpse of hope that there will be ever some hearty and sincere attempt to put them in practice.
But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success I fortunately fell upon this proposal; which, as it is wholly new, so it has something solid and real, of no expense and little trouble, full in our own power and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging ENGLAND. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, the flesh being of too tender a consistence to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.
After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, as things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for 100,000 useless mouths and backs. And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock would leave them in debt 2,000,0007. sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers, and labourers, with the wives and children who are beggars in effect; I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold as to attempt. an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past childbearing.
THE PRESENT MISERABLE STATE OF IRELAND.
IN A LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN IN DUBLIN TO HIS FRIEND SIR R. WALPOLE IN LONDON: WHEREIN IS BRIEFLY STATED THE CAUSES AND HEADS OF ALL OUR WOES.
Supposed to be written in the character of the drapier. SIR,-BY the last packet I had the favour of yours, and am surprised that you should apply to a person so ill qualified as I am, for a full and impartial account of the state of our trade. I have always lived as retired as possible; and have carefully avoided the perplexed honour of city offices; I have never minded body's business but my own; upon all which accounts and several others, you might easily have found among my fellow-citizens persons more capable to resolve the weighty questions you put to me than I can pretend to be.
But being entirely at leisure, even at this season of the year, when I used to have scarce time sufficient to perform the necessary offices of life, I will endeavour to comply with your request, cautioning you not implicitly to rely upon what I say excepting what belongs to that branch of trade in which I am more immediately concerned.
The Irish trade is, at present, in the most deplorable condition that can be imagined; to remedy it, the causes of its languishment must be inquired into: but as those causes (you may assure yourself) will not be removed, you may look upon it as a thing past hopes of recovery.
The first and greatest shock our trade received was from an act passed in the reign of king William, in the parliament of England, prohibiting the exportation of wool manufactured in Ireland. An act (as the event plainly shows) fuller of greediness than good policy; an act as beneficial to France and Spain as it has been destructive to England and Ireland. At the passing of this fatal act, the condition of our trade was glorious and flourishing, although no way interfering with the English; we made no broadcloths above 6s. per yard; coarse druggets, bays and shalloons, worsted damasks, strong draught works, slight half-works, and gaudy stuff's, were the only product of our looms: these were partly consumed by the meanest of our people, and partly sent to the northern nations, from which we had in exchange timber, iron, hemp, flax, pitch, tar, and hard dollars. At the time the current money of Ireland was foreign silver, a man could hardly receive 1007. without finding the coin of all the northern powers and every prince of the empire among it.
This money was returned into England for fine cloths, silks, &c., for our own wear, for rents, for coals, for hardware, and all other English manufactures, and in a great measure supplied the London merchants with foreign silver for exportation.
The repeated clamours of the English weavers produced this act, so destructive to themselves and us. They looked with envious eyes upon our prosperity, and complained of being undersold by us in those commodities which they themselves did not deal in. At their instance the act was passed, and we lost our profitable northern trade. Have they got it? No, surely, you have found they have ever since declined in the trade they so happily possessed; you shail find (if I am rightly informed) towns without one loom in them, which subsisted entirely upon the woollen manufactory before the passing of this unhappy bill; and I will try if I can give the true reasons for the decay of their trade and our calamities.
Three parts in four of the inhabitants of that district of the town where I dwell were English manufac
turers, whom either misfortunes in trade, little petty |
The only manufactured wares we are allowed to export are linen cloth and linen yarn, which are marketable only in England; the rest of our commodities are wool, restricted to England, and raw hides, skins, tallow, beef, and butter. Now these are things for which the northern nations have no occasion; we are therefore obliged, instead of carrying woollen goods to their markets and bringing home money, to purchase their own commodities.
In France, Spain, and Portugal, our wares are more valuable, though it must be owned our fraudulent trade in wool is the best branch of our commerce; from hence we get wines, brandy, and fruit very cheap, and in great perfection; so that though Englishmen have constrained us to be poor, they have given us leave to be merry. From these countries we bring home moidores, pistoles, and louisd'ors, without which we should scarce have a penny to turn upon.
To England we are allowed to send nothing but linen cloth, yarn, raw hides, skins, tallow, and wool. From thence we have coals, for which we always pay ready money, India goods, English woollen and silks, tobacco, hardware, earthenware, salt, and several other commodities. Our exportations to England are very much overbalanced by our importations; so that the course of exchange is generally too high, and people choose rather to make their remittances to England in specie than by a bill, and our nation is in this manner perpetually drained of its little running cash.
Another cause of the decay of trade, scarcity of money, and swelling of exchange, is the unnatural affectation of our gentry to reside in and about London. Their rents are remitted to them, and spent there. The countryman wants employment from them; the country shopkeeper wants their custom. For this reason he can't pay his Dublin correspondent readily, nor take off a great quantity of his wares.
Therefore, the Dublin merchant cannot employ the
Another great calamity is the exorbitant raising of the rents of lands. Upon the determination of all leases made before the year 1690, a gentleman thinks he has but indifferently improved his estate if he has only doubled his rent-roll. Farms are screwed up to a rack-rent,-leases granted but for a small term of years,-tenants tied down to hard conditions, and discouraged from cultivating the lands they occupy to the best advantage, by the certainty they have of the rent being raised on the expiration of their lease proportionably to the improvements they shall make. Thus it is that honest industry is restrained; the farmer is a slave to his landlord; it is well if he can cover his family with a coarse home-spun frieze. The artisan has little dealings with him; yet he is obliged to take his provisions from him at an extravagant price, otherwise the farmer cannot pay his rent.
The proprietors of lands keep great part of them in their own hands for sheep-pasture; and there are thousands of poor wretches who think themselves blessed if they can obtain a hut worse than the squire's dogkennel, and an acre of ground for a potato plantation, on condition of being as very slaves as any in America. What can be more deplorable than to behold wretches starving in the midst of plenty!
We are apt to charge the Irish with laziness, because we seldom find them employed; but then we do not consider they have nothing to do. Sir William Temple, in his excellent remarks on the United Provinces, inquires, why Holland, which has the fewest and worst ports and commodities of any nation in Europe, should abound in trade, and Ireland, which has the most and best of both, should have none? This great man attributes this surprising accident to the natural aversion man has for labour; who will not be persuaded to toil and fatigue himself for the superfluities of life throughout the week, when he may provide himself with all necessary subsistence by the labour of a day or two. But with due submission to Sir William's profound judgment, the want of trade with us is rather owing to the cruel restraints we lie under than to any disqualification whatsoever in our inhabitants.
I have not, sir, for these thirty years past, since I was concerned in trade (the greatest part of which time distresses have been flowing in upon us), ever observed them to swell so suddenly to such a height as
they have done within these few months. Our present calamities are not to be represented; you can have no notion of them without beholding them. Numbers of miserable objects crowd our doors, begging us to take their wares at any price, to prevent their families from immediate starvation. We cannot part with our money to them, both because we know not when we shall have a market for their goods, and as there are no debts paid, we are afraid of reducing ourselves to their own lamentable circumstances. The dismal time of trade we had during Marr's troubles in Scotland, are looked upon as happy days when compared with the present.
I need not tell you, sir, that this griping want, this dismal poverty, this additional woe, must be put to the account of those accursed stocks, which have desolated our country more effectually than England. Stockjobbing was a kind of traffic we were utterly unacquainted with. We went late to the South Sea market, and bore a great share in the losses of it, without having tasted any of its profits.
If many in England have been ruined by stocks, some have been advanced. The English have a free and open trade to repair their losses; but above all, a wise, vigilant, and uncorrupted parliament and ministry, strenuously endeavouring to restore public trade to its former happy state. Whilst we, having lost the greatest part of our cash, without any probability of its returning, must despair of retrieving our losses by trade, and have before our eyes the dismal prospect of universal poverty and desolation.
I believe, sir, you are by this time heartily tired with this undigested letter, and are firmly persuaded of the truth of what I said in the beginning of it, that you had much better have imposed this task on some of our citizens of greater abilities. But perhaps, sir, such a letter as this may be, for the singularity of it, entertaining to you, who correspond with the politest and most learned men in Europe. But I am satisfied you will excuse its want of exactness and perspicuity, when you consider my education, my being unaccustomed to writings of this nature, and above all, those calamitous objects which constantly surround us, sufficient to disturb the clearest imagination and the soundest judgment.
Whatever cause I have given you, by this letter, to think worse of my sense and judgment, I fancy that I have given you a manifest proof that I am, sir, Your most obedient humble servant,
TEN REASONS FOR REPEALING THE TEST ACT.
1. BECAUSE the presbyterians are people of such great interest in this kingdom, that there are not above ten of their persuasion in the house of commons, and but one in the house of lords; though they are not obliged to take the sacrament in the established church to qualify them to be members of either house of parliament.
2. Because those of the established church of this kingdom are so disaffected to the king, that not one of them worth mentioning, except the late duke of Ormond, has been concerned in the rebellion; and that our parliament, though there be so few presbyterians, has, upon all occasions, proved its loyalty to king George, and has readily agreed to and enacted what might support his government.
3. Because very few of the presbyterians have lost an employment worth 201. per annum for not qualifying themselves according to the test act; nor will they accept of a militia commission, though they do of one in the army.
4. Because, if they are not in the militia and other places of trust, the pretender and his adherents will destroy us,-when he has no one to support him but the king of Spain; when king George is on a good understanding with Sweden, Prussia, and Denmark; and when he has made the best alliances in Christendom. When the emperor, king of Great Britain, the French king, the king of Sardinia, are all in the quadruple alliance against the Spaniard, his upstart cardinal, and the pretender; when bloody plots against Great Britain and France are blown to the winds; when the Spanish fleet is quite dispersed ; when the French army is overrunning Spain; and when the rebels in Scotland are cut off.
5. The test clause should be repealed, because it is a defence against the reformation which the presbyterians long since promised to the churches of England and Ireland, viz., "We, noblemen, barons, knights, gentlemen, citizens, burgesses, ministers of the gospel, commons of all sorts in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, &c., each one of us for himself, with our hands lifted up to the most high God, do swear, first, That we will sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of God, endeavour in our several places and callings to aid the preservation of the reformed religion in the church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. Secondly, That we shall, in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour to promote the extirpation of popery, prelacy; that is, church government by archbishops, their chancellors, and commissaries, deans, deacons, and chapters, archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that hierarchy."
6. Because the presbyterian church government may be independent of the state. The Lord Jesus is king and head of his church; hath therein appointed a government in the hands of church officers distinct from the civil magistrate. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers to consult and advise with about matters of religion; so, if magistrates be open enemies to the church, the ministers of Christ of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they with other fit persons, upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such assemblies.
7. Because they have not the free use of their religion when they disdain a toleration.
8. Because they have so little charity for episcopacy as to account it iniquitous. The address of the general assembly to the duke of Queensberry in the late reign says, that to tolerate the episcopal clergy in Scotland would be to establish iniquity by a law.
9. Because repealing the test clause will probably disoblige ten of his majesty's good subjects for one it can oblige.
10. Because, if the test clause be repealed, the presbyterians may with the better grace get into employments, and the easier worm out those of the established church.
TWO LETTERS TO THE PUBLISHER OF THE DUBLIN WEEKLY JOURNAL.