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of 10,000,000. Formerly they did not exceed 3,000,000%. To add generally to the earnings of the labourer, when his wages are low, or when the price of subsistence is high, is in effect the same thing as forcibly to raise the wages of labour, or to fix a maximum on the price of provisions. In a season of scarcity, such a measure, whatever disorder and mischief it may be attended with, cannot even materially relieve those for whose benefit it is intended. The labourers and their families form by far the greater proportion of every community, and it must be chiefly by their savings that a diminished supply of corn can be made to last, till a fresh supply can be procured. No other order of men can be substituted in their place to bear the burden. Individual labourers may, indeed, be raised; and individuals in a higher situation may be depressed;-but the pressure of scarcity must always be heavily felt by the great body of the people. The same reasoning applies to the low price of labour, which always indicates an increase of population, without a corresponding increase of food. But it is evidently the same thing, whether population is increased in proportion to the food, or whether the food has decreased in proportion to the population. Both evils are exactly the same, and can only be removed by increasing the supply of food.
It may be said, however, that, in a scarcity, the hardship is exclusively borne by the poor, the rich being cnabled, by means of money, to consume the same quantity of subsistence as before, and that pecuniary contributions may place the two classes more upon a level, and force the rich to bear their share in the burden. But, even if the rich were forced to abridge their consumption, they bear such a small proportion to the mass of the community, that the poor would be but little benefited; and it is moreover impossible to effect this, except by levelling the rich with the poor. The enormous sums which were lavished for the relief of the indigent during the late scarcities, contributed not so much to affect the rich, as the classes immediately above the poor, whom it depressed, Mr Malthus observes, in the most marked manner. Now, even if the poor were to be relieved in this way, it does not appear, that the general miss of misery would be lessened ;-their sufferings would be rely transferred to another class of society equally deserving attention and relief, and the number of those demanding parocrial assistance would be increased. The ease, however, which the poor can derive from this miserable resource is so trifling, that it can never be felt. Even if all the forced savings of this class of the community were distributed to them gratis, it would furish a remedy completely insignificant, when compared with such an extensive and deep-rooted malady. During the late scarcities,
cities, therefore, seven millions a year appear to have been squandered for no other purpose than to recruit for beggars.
As the object for which this money is raised, namely, to relieve the great body of the people from the pressure of scarcity, appears to be completely unattainable; as the degree of pressure must be exactly such as to make the diminished supply of corn last out the year; as pecuniary contributions cannot lessen it, and can do very little towards altering the mode of its distribution, the situation of the poor would not be at all affected, if the able-bodied labourer were wholly excluded from parochial relief. If this arrangement were once carried into effect, the expenditure of the poor-laws would be very materially curtailed, as, we believe, the greater part of the relief granted, is given to able-bodied labourers with families.
Mr Malthus, in his plan for the abolition of the poor-laws, does not appear to us to distinguish between the original and genuine objects of parochial relief, and those to whom that charity has been most improperly extended. His reasonings, however, are evidently directed against the practice of giving relief to the labourer; and, so far from thinking his plan either cruel or iniquitous, as it has been most unjustly termed, the evil which Mr Malthus is for doing away by mild and gradual reformation, might, in our apprehension, without producing any bad effects, be much more speedily got quit of. To the common labourer who is able to work, all sort of charity ought, on a warning of six months or a year, to be refused; and this ought not to be left to the justices of the peace,-it ought to be established by law. In the recurrence of a scarcity, the practice of measuring out relief by the price of provisions, should never again be resorted to.
With respect to those who are really destitute, it appears, by experience, that a full and certain relief cannot be provided for them, without producing very melancholy effects on the manners of the people. A better plan for modifying the relief which is given to them, cannot be resorted to, than that proposed by Mr Malthus. Whether the relief ought to be entirely taken away, as in Scotland, or whether it ought to be so far reduced, as either to come in aid of personal exertion or of voluntary charity, is a question which requires very serious consideration. From a very careful examination of this important subject, it clearly appears to us, that it is much safer to fall short than to exceed, in relieving distress by public charity. What may be wanting in public, is generally made up by private benevolence. But there is no way of correcting the evil of profuse donations enforced by the authority of law.
ART. VIII. On the Conduct of the British Government towards the Catholics of Ireland. 8vo. pp. 38.. London. Remarks on the Dangers which threaten the Established Religion, and on the Means of averting them. In a Letter to the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, Chancellor of his Majesty's Exchequer. By Edward Pearson, B. D. 8vo. pp. 98. London. 1807.
An Alarm to the Reformed Church of Christ established in those Kingdoms. By a Watchman of the Church. 8vo. pp. 16. London. 1807.
An Earnest Address to those of all Orders and Degrees in the United Church of England and Ireland respecting the Papists. 8vo. pp. 32. London. 1807.
THO 'HOUGH nothing very important has been said, written, or done, with regard to this great subject, since we last recommended it to the notice of our readers, yet we think it material to bring it again under their view; and, in as far as in us lies, to familiarize the understanding of the public with the most momentous and most unreasonable controversy that has ever been presented to their decision. There are some causes in which perseverance is sure to be rewarded with success, and some subjects upon which reason will certainly be triumphant, provided she return with sufficient patience to the charge, and resolutely repeats the argument which has originally failed of effect. This is a result which may safely be reckoned upon in all cases in which expediency and justice are on one side, and established prejudice or habit on the other. It was so with the introduction of religious and of civil freedom into this country ;-with the reformation and the revolution of England. It was so in the more recent instance of the abolition of the slave trade; and it is and will be so with the emancipation of the catholics of Ireland. In all these cases, the settled prejudices and habits of men, abetted and flattered by the interested clamours of individuals, resistedfor a long time the force of those reasonings, before which, we now think they should have disappeared in an instant; and it was only by little and little, and in consequence of patient and persevering repetition, that the most pernicious and absurd tenets were made to give way to maxims of obvious justice and expediency. The process of illuminating the public understanding under such circumstances, in short, seems to resemble that of moistening magnesia or any other fine powder with water.
Though very dry and thirsty, it will by no means unite with the fluid at first, but is sure, if rashly handled, to run into troublesome knots and masses, or to fly up in the eyes of the operator. By adding but a little of the water at a time, however, and carefully and patiently rubbing it up with the refractory pulvil, he may always be sure of effecting an incorporating union, and producing a smooth and indissoluble compound, of great virtue and efficacy.
We do not entertain the slightest doubt of the ultimate success of the catholics in their claim of emancipation, but we think it our duty to omit no opportunity of submitting it to public examination; and shall persist, as long as pamphlets can be found on the subject, to urge on the sense and the conscience of the country, those strong reasons of justice and expediency by which it appears to be supported. Now that the cry of no popery has served its unworthy purpose,-that the elections are over, and the ministry settled in their seats,-there is room perhaps, to hope, that the advocates of this cause may obtain a more favourable hearing, and that the liberal part of the community may be able to distinguish them from the mere zealots of a party.
The question itself, like every other question relating to human affairs, may be considered under the double aspect of expediency and justice. The result, as usually happens also, will be the same upon both; but, for the sake of simplifying the discussion, and avoiding offence to a certain hardy race of politicians, we shall, for the present, drop all consideration of justice, and examine the case upon the principles of expediency alone. In matters of political arrangement, indeed, there is no other principle by which we can rationally expect men to be actuated. Every nation, we may depend upon it, will act in the way which it conceives to be most for its own advantage, and will only be observant of justice towards others, in so far as such a rule of conduct promises to contribute ultimately to its own security or advancement. We do not want a stricter rule of morality for the purposes of the present argument, and surely cannot be accused of any very romantic flight of morality, in proposing to have it tried by such a criterion. The natural order seems to be, to point out, in the first place, what would be the advantages of admitting catholics to a civil equality with their protestant fellowsubjects; and then to consider what may be the just amount and value of the disadvantages which have been anticipated from this proceeding. It is necessary, however, first of all, to clear the way for this equation by a short view of the origin and present state of the incapacities to which this order of men is subjected. Such a statement forms the basis of fact to which all our argu
ments must bear reference; and it is the more necessary to exhibit it at the outset, as we have frequently been astonished at the degree of ignorance which prevailed upon this subject even among the declaimers and pamphleteers who have come forward for the instruction of their countrymen.
From the time of the reformation to that of the revolution, popery seems to have been regarded by the legislature rather as a crime, for which individuals, regularly convicted of any overt act, were liable to punishment, than as a system of faith, the profession of which was to be repressed by permanent disqualifications. Celebrating mass, or attending its celebration, were indictable of fences and every subject whatsoever, was made liable to a severe imposition, if he omitted to attend the established church at least once every Sunday. Catholics, however, were neither excluded from parliament, nor laid under any disabilities as to the enjoyment and transference of property, the rights of self-defence, or the economy of their families. Those laws were administered with great mildness, on the whole, during the reign of Elizabeth; and, with regard to Ireland, were little more than a dead letter. In the time of James the I., when the protestants for the first time formed a majority in that parliament, they were enforced with occasional rigour; and under Charles, the severities which his necessities, rather than his disposition, led him to exercise, joined with the oppressions of Strafford and the permitted insolence of the English settlers, led to those scenes of misery and devastation in the rebellion 1641, of which no man, till lately, conceived that the repetition was possible. The soldiery of Cromwell settled themselves in the lands from which they had expelled their opponents; and, after the restoration, the Act of Settlement confirmed the transference of eight millions of acres from Irish catholics to English protestants. It was most natural that the native proprietors should aim at recovering their possessions. They joined, accordingly, with James II.; and during the short period of his success, they rescinded the act of settlement. The arms of William overthrew the last remnant of catholic government or ascendancy in these kingdoms; and, by the articles of Limerick, which closed the scene of hostility in 1691, it was expressly stipulated, that ( the Roman Catholics should enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of Charles II.; and their majesties, as soon as they can summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular as may preserve them from any disturb ance on account of their religion.' This solemn instrument of pacification, granted in the moment of victory, was ratified and