« AnteriorContinuar »
energy and success displayed by many of the emigrants from the sister island on being transplanted to the New World, in comparison with their listlessness and helpless misery at home. And, so far as we are aware, he is the first among our travellers or speculators who have done so. Where the Irish settled singly, and among a population of different origin and habit*, he generally found them doing well, though rarely so well as either English or Scotch emigrants. Where they settled en masse, and formed a colony of their own, this is the picture he draws of them:
* The settlers, chiefly Roman Catholic Irish, originally from Bandon, in the county of Cork, are for the most part miserably clothed, keeping wretched-looking houses, have much dirt about themselves and their holdings, nasty-looking pigs running about the doors of their dwellings, and their land and fences for the most part in an untidy condition. It is “ Ould Ireland” over again transplanted here, little altered from its home appearance and fashions.' (Vol. ii. p. 17.) Of another settlement he says (vol. ii. p. 176.), 'It consists entirely of * Cork men, who have not prospered as yet. According to Mr. Pass (an English emigrant), the South Country Irish are the poorest men that come out, do the worst, and are the least contented. At home they depend upon grants and charity when they can get it, more than on their own industry. One of these Cork men, a schoolmaster, complained bitterly; they were all steeped in poverty and debt, yet they were industrious, he averred; and therefore he inveighed against the Mother Country for not making railways in the provinces, and sending out money to employ the people. The same demand all the world over from this spoiled and unthrifty race. - The management of the Irish (observes Mr. Johnston) is still a problem, when unmixed with other population, in whatever country they are. ... As at home, they get together in junketting and merry-making, and estimate the happiness of a spree far above the every-day comforts of clean well-furnished houses and plentiful meals. But mingle these same men in twos and threes among a great predominance of a steadier race, and the restraint and influence of new example makes their children steadier men than their fathers, and more reasonable and contented citizens.'
We have here the indication of a most valuable truth, the admission and full appreciation of which seems to us indispensable to the future well-being of the sister island. It is this: Wherever the Irish peasantry are so situated, either by subordiDation of position or minority in numbers, as to take the tone from those above them or around them, they succeed and advance.
•• There were many excellent and hard-working Scotch and Irish farmers in the neighbourhood. .... These Irish settlers struck me as representing industry personified.' (Vol. i. p. 64.)
Wherever they are so far dominant, either from numbers, influence, or concentration, as to overpower such foreign elements of amendment as may have settled among them, or where they are isolated and homogeneous, without a strong, large, and prominent admixture of such foreign superiorities, the failings of their race prevail, and they sink into, or remain in, a low social condition. This lies at the root of the incongruity which has been often observed, and from which so many rash and unsound inferences have been drawn; but the explanation of which Mr. Johnston has so well indicated. It is seen that Irish farmers and Irish labourers often succeed in America and in the colonies, especially in the second generation; that they become diligent, frugal, intelligent, and steady workmen; on which superficial reasoners immediately cry out, Here is clear proof that the • wretched condition of Irishmen at home arises solely from • English misgovernment and a hopeless social position, and * from no natural disqualifications of character or race!' The real solution of the incongruous phenomenon is this: — At home, the Irishman is alone, dominant, and uncorrected: he is among Irishmen with the same constitutional failings as himself, from whom he can derive only encouragement in all those qualities which most require enlightenment, shaming, and correction. Thus, Ireland for the Irish'- the great cry of their demagogues — would, in fact, be fuel to the fire, brandy to the fever, the exclusion of air to the stifled, the shutting out of light to those who sit in darkness. In the colonies, on the other hand, or in the United States, or even in England, the Irishman finds himself at once in a minority; among a people to whom his filth is an abomination; to whom his idle and untidy habits are disgustful; whose activity awakens his emulation, and whose intelligence can direct his exertions... He is essentially an imitative animal, and needs only a predominant amount of good example before him in order to improve. In foreign countries, or in the colonies, he finds this when he goes there. It is well deserving of consideration, - whether we cannot supply it to him in Ireland? Can we not, in addition to the good already effected by the example, instruction, and enforced system of the inspectors under the Land Improvement Act, introduce a large settlement of English and Scotch farmers throughout the country, who will give that better tone, and diffuse among the natives those better habits and modes of proceeding which they so peculiarly · need?
A great deal of our author's attention was directed to an investigation of the probable wheat-exporting powers of the
North American continent; and the chapters he has devoted to this question are among the most valuable in his book, and derive peculiar importance from his well known and thorough competence to pronounce an authoritative opinion on the subject. We shall not attempt to give an analysis of these chapters
- all who feel interested in the matter should study them with care. We shall content ourselves with extracting his concluding summary. (Vol. ii. p. 335.)
. It is fair and reasonable, therefore, I think, to conclude, until we have better data, that the wheat-exporting capabilities of the United States are not so great as they have by many in Great Britain been hitherto supposed, that they have been over-stated on the spot, and that our wheat growers at home have been unduly alarmed by these distant thunders, the supposed prelude of an imaginary torrent of American wheat, which was to overwhelm every thing in Great Britain - farming, farmers, and landlords,- in one common ruin. I have said that the wheat-exporting capabilities of North America as a whole, excluding Upper Canada,- in regard to which I would reserve any decided opinion, are lessening rather than increasing, though it may be ten years or more before the diminution becomes very distinctly sensible. The main reasons for this opinion, as I have already given them in Chap. vii., are, 1st., that the virgin soils are already, to a considerable extent, exhausted of their first freshness, and that a comparatively expensive culture, likely to make corn more costly, must be adopted, if their productiveness is to be brought back and maintained ; 2ndly, that the new settlers live poorly and hardly at first, and as their wheat is the only thing they have to sell, confine themselves for some seasons to potatoes, buckwheat, and Indian corn, and send the wheat to market; but as they become more easy in their circumstances they retain more of this grain for their own consumption, while they produce it also at a greater cost; and, thirdly, that as the population increases, that of wheat-consuming individuals who do not raise their own food increases also, and thus every year a larger proportion of wheaten food will be required and retained at home. If the population of the United States, exclusive of California, be now 24,000,000, and if it be increasing, as is said, at the rate of a million a year, so as to promise to these Štates in 1860 a population of 34,000,000, then it is very safe, I think, to say, that in 1860 their wheat-exporting capability
When this exhaustion has come, a more costly system of gene'rous husbandry must be introduced if the crops are to be kept up; * and in this more generous system my belief is that the British 'farmers will have the victory. One very important consideration is, that as the virgin soils near the lakes and rivers are exhausted, those who still seek similar soil are obliged to go further inland, and thus the cost of bringing their produce to market is greatly enhanced.
will have become so small as to give our British farmers very little cause for apprehension.'
He elsewhere repeats the same conviction, in language which is calculated to carry great comfort to the hearts of those home agriculturists who are panic-stricken by the prospect of endless supplies of American flour at a nominal price. . . In their relation to English markets, therefore, and the prospects and profits of the British farmers, my persuasion is, that year by year our Transatlantic cousins will become less and less able - except in extraordinary seasons -- to send large supplies of wheat to our Island ports; and that, when the virgin freshness shall have been rubbed off their new (and easily accessible) lands, they will be unable, with their present knowledge and methods, to send wheat to the British market so cheaply as the more skilful farmers of Great Britain and Ireland can do.' (Vol. i. p. 365.)
Mr. Johnston differs agreeably from the ordinary run of travellers in America in his estimate of the relative progress and capabilities of the United States and the British provinces, and of the energy and powers of their respective inhabitants. He considers that the latter are even now going ahead,' at least as fast as their republican neighbours; that their natural advantages are even greater; and that it will be their own fault if they do not soon surpass their rivals. The current idea of the vast relative superiority of the Yankees appears to have originated in the different mental habits of the two peoples. While the British are always grumbling, the Americans are always boasting; and travellers seem to have taken both parties at their word. “In the provinces,' observes Mr. Johnston, it struck me
as remarkable that, while among their republican neighbours all - the geese were swans, the provincials were constantly main
taining their own swans to be geese. Every thing was wrong ' in the eyes of many I met, and every thing among themselves “inferior; although in almost every particular, when a close ex
amination was made, their own superiority was manifest.' Mr. Johnston is clearly of opinion that a splendid future is in store for Canada ; that the St. Lawrence is not only destined to be, but is fast becoming, the great channel by which the produce of the Western States of the Union will find its way to Europe. It drains, and is the natural outlet of, all those vast inland seas on the borders of which lie the rising and fertile States of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and the western counties of New York; and its only available rival is the Erie Canal, which, in spite of all the skill and energy of the Americans, is becoming yearly more and more inadequate to the traffic which
presses upon it from these mighty regions.* It appears, also, that the cost of transport from the lake coast of Ohio to Liverpool is not only speedier by the route of the St. Lawrence, but 10s. a ton cheaper than by the Erie Canal, and in other respects more convenient. The Mississippi, it is true, borders on portions of these States, but it is a route which, for many kinds of produce, is costly and objectionable. Mr. Johnston speaks as follows:
• This greater cheapness of transport, and facility of direct com. munication, without transhipment, will also draw into this eastern channel a large traffic which never sought Lake Erie, but made its long and tedious way down the Ohio and the Mississippi. The wheat and other produce of the valley of the Ohio, which was intended for the European markets, has hitherto for the most part descended these rivers; and after a voyage of some thousands of miles has reached New Orleans, whence it was re-shipped to its European destination. But this long water-carriage, in the hot and humid climate of the regions through which these rivers flow, is found to affect the quality of the wheat, so that it rarely reaches Europe in so good a condition, or realises so high a price, as similar wheat which has been conveyed through the Eastern States to the shores of the Atlantic.' (Vol. i. p. 377.)
The common charge of sluggishness and inattention to the interests of the colony brought against the authorities, both home and colonial, Mr. Johnston regards as wholly unjust. Great as have been the exertions of the Americans of the United States to improve and extend their internal navigation, they have been exceeded by those of the British. Meanwhile the Canadian autho• rities, and those of Upper Canada especially, have not been .idle. Indeed, I believe they have done more to promote internal 'water communication than any State of the Union - I may
safely say, than any country in Europe - considering the in• fancy of their country, the extent to which its material re• sources have been developed, and the actual amount of its * revenue and population. The Welland Canal (for large ships) has been constructed between Lakes Erie and Ontario, at a cost of nearly a million and a half; the rapids on the river near Montreal have been flanked by about fifty miles of canals, at a cost of a million more; and all this has been done by a colony whose present population is under 1,500,000, and whose revenue eren now does not (we believe) reach 500,0001.f
* Altogether, on the execution of canals and river improvements
* The recent opening of the Erie Railway may perhaps in some respect modify this conclusion,
f It is given at 300,0001. in 1832. (Martin's British Colonies.) .