In the preceding chapter I have endeavoured to point out the circumstances of this country, as to the most important material elements of mechanical and agricultural industry. The extent and quality of our supplies of fuel; the distribution and amount of our sources of water power; the localities of our mines of iron, of copper, and other useful metals, have engaged attention, as well as the condition of the soil, the amount of its produce, and the general principles upon which its cultivation should be based, as regards equally the profitable investment of capital, and the comfort of the people. With
p.373such elements of material prosperity lying at our hands, it becomes a problem of high importance, to resolve why they have not been made available, and why this country has been left behind in the path of physical improvement by other nations, whose natural circumstances are in few instances superior, but in many points, certainly less advantageous. The examination of this general question is, however, foreign to my object, and would involve considerations far apart from those on which alone, the man of science desires to dwell, or, probably, is competent to judge. Although thus waiving its discussion, I shall endeavour to fix attention on some circumstances, of which some have been described as peculiarly facilitating the development of industry in this country, whilst others are usually looked upon as the most characteristic disadvantages under which it labours. The inquiries I have made, and the consideration I have been enabled to give the subject, have led me to believe, that the popular impression is in both cases wrong, and as the establishing of a more correct idea becomes important, as affecting future progress, I shall notice those topics in detail. Before entering upon their discussion, however, it is necessary to advert briefly to the conditions of this country, with regard to some staple articles of manufacturing industry, that have not hitherto been described. Some of these are strictly of foreign origin, but the others are at least of possible home production, although their circumstances did not allow them to be noticed earlier.
Cotton wool, which now forms so large an article in British industry, is not imported directly into Ireland, because this country has no articles of manufacture to send in place of it. For the use of such factories as exist upon our eastern coast, it is purchased in Liverpool, and transhipped for Ireland. This is an additional expense, but although it would be of course desirable to get rid of it, it is not so heavy as might be supposed, when reduced to the percentage proportion of the general cost of the manufacture. In the case described, page 63, where the precise proportions of a factory are given, the total expenses of transport to Ireland are 1.4 per cent. of the result. This is probably not exceeded, if it be equalled, upon
p.374any other part of the eastern coast. In the case, however, of the development of manufacturing enterprize upon the western coast, and along the Shannon, the cost of transport of cotton from Liverpool would be much heavier. If paid for by manufactured goods, the cotton of the Southern States, or of Surat, would be delivered in Limerick or Galway, freed from the delays and danger of a channel voyage. It will be indeed, an epoch in the history of Ireland, when a bale of cotton direct from New Orleans is spun and woven at Killaloe, and in part returned as printed calicos or muslins from Limerick to the States. The man who first accomplishes that, or any equivalent result, will have effected a revolution.
The woollen manufacture has been at all periods considered as of high importance in this country, so that at certain times it was deemed necessary to take measures to moderate its prosperity. Where ill-judged efforts for its encouragement alternated with violent attempts at its suppression, the object of the latter was of course finally accomplished, and at present the woollen trade does not form an exception to the general stagnation of industry, which is so unfortunately characteristic of this country. In considering how far the natural condition of Ireland leads us to expect the development of this industry to any important degree, it is necessary to consider the growth of wool which we possess, not merely in relation to its quantity, but also to its quality and structure.
A very large quantity of wool is grown in Ireland. The grazing counties of the limestone plain afford an herbage peculiarly agreeable to sheep. The total number of sheep in Ireland is given in page 245, as somewhat above two millions. In Ulster, where industry and agriculture are most advanced, the pastoral habits are weakest. In Connaught the reverse conditions exist. To 100 acres of arable land, there are in Ulster but six sheep, whilst there are in Connaught twenty-four. It would be useless to attempt to calculate from this, the quantity of wool, as in fact each fleece yields numerous kinds of wool, which form quite distinct objects of manufacture.
p.375There is no doubt, however, but that were the wool grown in Ireland manufactured in it, there should be called into play so great an amount of mechanical industry, as would afford employment to a large portion of the people. At present great quantities of wool are exported from this country, particularly to France, and several French houses have established agencies in the centre and west of Ireland for the more direct purchase of the wool. This wool is in France manufactured into the mousselines de laine, so deservedly popular amongst our countrywomen, by whom, I trust, they would not be less esteemed, had they been spun, and woven, and printed without leaving Ireland, and thus have given comfortable means of living to thousands of our countrymen.
There are two kinds of woollen goods, which are formed by different modes of manufacture, and these, again, are founded on essential differences in the structure of the wool. Worsted goods are formed of wool, the fibres of which are long, and have little twist. In such goods the web is formed only as the web of cotton or linen goods, by the opposition of the fibres, alternately crossing and parallel. But, in what are properly woollen goods, as in broad-cloths, after the web has been so formed, it is subjected to a violent beating, in the tucking or fulling mill, during which the cloth shrinks very much in length and breadth, but thickens, and the individual threads of the web so mix in with each other that they cannot be distinguished, until it is much worn, and becomes thread-bare. Now, for such goods, a different kind of wool must be taken than for worsted goods. The fibre must be short, and more twisted. These varieties of wool are known as short and long stapled. The cause of this difference is, that each fibre of wool consists of a series of joints, and at each joint there are a set of projections, like the barbs of a fish hook. In long stapled wool these barbs are few, and very weak; in short stapled wool they are numerous, and strong. If a handful of the latter be worked in the hands, the fibres will gradually interlace, and, by these barbs catching in each other, will lock into a kind of web, quite independent of spinning and weaving: they will felt. It is in
p.376this way that the bodies of hats are made, as all furs possess the same property. Hence, the making of cloth requires the spinning and weaving of the web, in the first instance, and the subsequent partial felting of the fibres, in the tucking mill.
I notice these particulars, as the climate and vegetation of a country exercise remarkable influence on the staple and structure of the wool which the sheep produce, and thus, finally, on the description of manufactured goods. In moist cold climates, such as that of the British Islands, the natural wool of the adult sheep is universally long stapled, and unfit for felting: whilst, in dry climates, with hot summers, the wool is short stapled, and felts strongly. The wool produced not merely in Ireland, but in England, also, is thus exclusively adapted for the worsted trade; and that of Ireland being of an excellent quality of fibre, is much sought for the finer kinds of worsted, as those already noticed of French manufacture. For woollen cloths, and similar goods, the wool is imported from the Continent. The great plains of the east of Europe support vast flocks of sheep, from whence we derive our Silesian and Saxon wool. The dry plains of South Australia are also favourable to that growth of fibre, and hence has been created within a few years a branch of trade most important to that colony. It has been often an object with English wool-growers, and landed proprietors, to produce this felting wool in England, and thus get rid of the necessity of purchasing abroad; but it has been found impossible, after the most expensive experiments in importing sheep of particular flocks. It has been found that in two or three generations, even of the pure breed, the influence of the climate and food totally changed the character of the wool, and brought it to the same quality as that of the native animals.
It is thus evident that the manufacture of the native wools of Ireland can lead but to one department of that important branch of industry, that is, the worsted trade. With regard to woollens, this country, like England, must import wool, and hence will be under the same conditions of access to raw materials as the sister kingdom. In no degree are we less favourably placed. The Messrs. Willans, so extensively and so favourably known in Dublin, and who have also large factories at Leeds,
p.377have often and in public declared that they carry on trade as favourably in Ireland as in England: the low price of coals in Yorkshire being fully counterbalanced by the cheapness of water power, and a certain advantage in wages here.
A substance, which is the basis of more chemical manufactures than any other, is common salt. It yields chlorine, and is thus the original material of all the beautiful arts which involve bleaching processes. It yields soda, and this is an ingredient in soap, in glass, and numerous other substances not so universally known. In curing provisions, and as a manure, it is of extensive use, and as a condiment, it becomes a part of our daily food. There is, probably, no one material, the abstraction of which would occasion so many deficiencies in the habits of a civilized people. Of this important substance, there is no natural deposit in Ireland. Salt is found usually in the new red sandstone, and the gypseous marls which lie above the coal strata; and thus about Cheshire are situated the great salt mines and pits of England. These formations exist in Ireland only in the north-eastern district, about Belfast, as described page 170, and they have not been found to contain any indications of salt mines. We are, therefore, dependant on England for our supply of this valuable material. Its price is so low, that the cost of transport increases its cost in a very important degree, and hence the various chemical manufactures, which require large quantities of salt, labour under a much greater proportional disadvantage in this country than the mechanical manufactures do, in regard to fuel, to produce steam. Salt, however, could be obtained, although not so economically, by the evaporation of sea-water. It is thus formed on the coast of Southern Europe; the strong heat of the sun drying down the water, which is run into shallow reservoirs. With us, the sun is not strong enough, and rain is too frequent to allow of such methods being adopted; but by employing the plans that are actually adopted in Germany, to concentrate the waters of the weak brine springs in those localities, where there are no mines of rock salt, the sea-water of our coasts might be concentrated partially, perhaps to a half, and then the evaporation should be finished by means of coal or turf. It would occupy
p.378too long, and would, indeed, be superfluous to describe those plans of evaporation. I shall only notice that the cost of the fuel that would be at least required to obtain a ton of salt, should be about 18s., and the other expenses would probably make the salt from sea-water cost, on the coast of Ireland, not less than 25s. per ton. The ordinary English salt seldom costs more in Liverpool than 10s. or 12s. per ton.
Such are the conditions of these three important materials of industry, cotton, wool, and salt, as regards Ireland. We arrive now at the consideration of a most influential element in manufacturing calculationsthe cost of labour, the lowness of which has been popularly considered as the most eminent inducement this country can present to the capitalist to embark in industrial undertakings.
That human labour can be obtained in this country on lower terms than almost any other in Europe, is too well known to require example. A population, for which the existing modes of cultivation do not supply occupation on the land, and which is not, as in the sister kingdom, drafted off to manufacturing employments in the towns, must, in order to live, accept of any terms of remuneration which they can get in exchange for labour. It is thus that 8d. or 10d. per day is found to be the usual rate of wages, at a distance from large towns, and that, even on such terms, thousands of men remain unemployed during the greater portion of the year: this nominal cheapness is, however, by no means necessarily economy in final cost. A wretched man who can earn, by his exertion, but 4s. or 5s. a week, on which to support his family and pay the rent of a sort of habitation, must be so ill fed, and depressed in mind, that to work, as a man should work, is beyond his power. Hence there are often seen about employments in this country a number of hands, double what would be required to do the same work, in the same time, with British labourers. The latter would probably be paid at least twice as much money per day, but in the end the work would not cost the employer more; although the wages, therefore, in the former example were lower, labour was not cheaper, on the contrary, somewhat higher, as the trouble of overseeing twice the number of men is a source of additional expense.
When I say that the men thus employed, at low wages, do so much less real work, I do not mean that they intentionally idle, or that they reflect that as they receive so little they should give little value; on the contrary, they do their best honestly to earn their wages, but supplied only with the lowest descriptions of food, and perhaps, in insufficient quantity, they have not the physical ability for labour, and being without any direct prospect of advancement, they are not excited by that laudable ambition to any display of superior energy. If the same men are placed in circumstances, where a field for increased exertion is opened to them, and they are made to understand, what at first they are rather incredulous about, that they will receive the full value of any increased labour they perform, they become new beings: the work they execute rises to the highest standard, and they earn as much money as the labourers of any other country; wages are no longer low, but labour is not, on that account, anything dearer than it had been before. An occurrence at a certain public work will exemplify this principle. Many hundreds of men were employed at 10d. per day. They worked slowly, and ineffectually; the work was not progressing, and as time was an object, a parcel of English labourers were introduced who were paid 18d. per day, which they fully earned. None of the Irish labourers were dismissed, but they struck work, and demanded that they should have all 18d. per day. The Englishmen feared for their lives. The police and military were called out, and the affair might have eventuated in a scene of blood, adding another to the tales of horror so industriously circulated about the savageness of the native Irish. At this moment one of the principal engineers, an Irishman, respected by the people for his abilities, and esteemed by them as a countryman, came amongst them, and penetrating into the mass of excited labourers arrested and gave into custody all the ringleaders. The crowd of labourers would not do him an injury. He then, in place of the common practice of saying they were brutes, and none but English labourers were lit for any useful purpose, quietly explained to them that the Englishmen did much more work and deserved to be paid higher, but
p.380that he would be very willing to secure 18d. per day to every man, who would do as much work as the Englishmen, and more, if they could do more. He shewed them that from their rude way of managing their tools they wasted their strength, and that by simple improvements a great deal of time could be saved in their operations. The people knew and trusted him; the police and military were withdrawn; the whole body of labourers went to work, and after the first Saturday night they found, that without combination or violence, they could earn more money by laying themselves down steadily to do more work. After some weeks there were very few of the men earning less than 18d., and many of them were earning at the rate of 2s. 6d. per day.
In this case wages ceased to be low, precisely as the efficiency of work increased. The cheapness of labour is thus shown to be quite different from the nominal rate of wages. This difference is not peculiar to this country, it exists as forcibly in regard to certain countries of the Continent. Thus the iron manufacture in France is actually more retarded by this cause than by the greater proportional cost of fuel, which is popularly considered the most important.
The manufacture of iron, including the extraction of the fuel, and of the iron ore and flux, as well as the actual smelting and refining of the metal, occupies as many hands in France as it does in England, although the quantity of produce is not one-third so great. In fact, an iron work in Great Britain producing 10,000 tons of iron per annum, would employ 145 men, or a man for every 69 tons of iron. In France it would require two furnaces for the same quantity of metal, and they would employ 445 men, or a man for every 23 tons. Hence, there are three times as many hands for the same work, and although provisions are so much cheaper and wages lower in France, more money must be paid to workmen there than in England to produce the same quantity of iron. In fact, in trades requiring considerable mechanical skill, wages are actually lower in England than in any other country, in consequence of there being so much more competition amongst persons so qualified.
In every industrial occupation there are actually involved two
p.381totally distinct offices, which are paid for in very different degrees. These are the animal force, and the mental exertion which directs it. The question of relative cheapness or dearness of labour altogether depends on the relative proportions we want of those, and the proportions in which they are possessed by the man we hire. Now owing to the general absence of industrial activity in this country, the mental power is not at all so universal as in Britain. It is hence dearer in Ireland, whilst animal force, destitute of industrial skill, being less abundant in Great Britain, is dearer there than it is with us. A bricklayer in London gets 22s. per week, and his labourer 14s.; a bricklayer in Dublin gets 25s. per week, and his labourer but 9s. These proportions are often said to be caused by combination and threats against employers. It is not so; the fact being that men who know how to set bricks are proportionally more abundant in London, and men who do not know how to do it are more abundant with us. This diversity produces both the power of combining, and the difference of wages.
Considering man merely as a source of animal power, it is gratifying to have it proved, that when at all well fed, there is no race more perfectly developed as to physical conformation, than the inhabitants of this island. Professor Forbes instituted an extensive series of observations of the size and strength of the students attending the University of Edinburgh, who may be considered as fairly representing the middle classes of their respective countries; and I have subjoined the similar results of Professor Quetelet, regarding the students of the University of Bruxelles. The strength indicated is that of a blow given to the plate of a spring dynamometer.
|Average height in inches||Average weight in pounds||Average strength in pounds|
The Irish are thus the tallest, strongest, and heaviest of the four races.
Mr. Field, the eminent mechanical engineer of London, had occasion to examine the relative powers of British and Irish labourers, to raise weights by means of a crane. He communicated his results to the Institute of Civil Engineers in London. He found that the utmost effort of a man lifting at the rate of one foot per minute ranged:
Englishmen, from 11,505lb to 24,255lb.
Irishmen, from 17,325lb to 27,562lb
The utmost efforts of a Welshman was 15,112lb.
In all operations, therefore, where brute force is required, there is no question but that we possess in Ireland, in the actual population, a vast amount of power; but the progress of art and of intelligence must lead us to consider such employment as unsuited to a being endowed with the noble capacity for improvement that belongs to man. It should be his prerogative to subdue the greater strength of other animals, and to adapt the wondrous forces of external nature to his ends, by virtue of the intelligence with which he is provided, and the labouring force of man must be considered as lying truly dormant, so far as its true uses are concerned, until it be quickened by the energetic fire of industrial education. It is in this regard that Ireland is actually weakest, and that most difficulty may be expected in any future development of our industry. No matter to what side we turn, or what problem of manufacture or agricultural improvement we proceed to, we find the difficulty of procuring skilled workmen or superintendents, and hence all such positions are occupied by natives of the sister island, to the exclusion, as it would appear unfair, of the natives of this country. Such an idea is, however, quite unjust. Irishmen are not appointed to those situations because they are not educated for them; Scotchmen and Englishmen obtain them because they learn what is necessary for such duties. The remedy for this is not to declaim against intruding foreigners, but to learn those trades so well, as to make it the direct interest of the employer to give his countrymen the
p.383preference. Every intelligent Englishman or Scotchmen who comes to Ireland should not be looked upon as an intruder, but as a schoolmaster. If there did not exist a blank in our industrial system which it suits him to fill up, he would not come. He is a-head of us in practical skill and habits, and it should be our object to imitate him, learn from him, and, if possible, excel him, and when he finds that we know as much as he does, he will not come. He then would be better off at home.
Skilled labour is thus shewn to be certainly dearer in this country than in Great Britain, whilst unskilled labour is much cheaper. The final question of whether, for manufacturing industry in general, labour is cheaper here, is therefore not capable of receiving a decided answer. It must depend altogether on the proportions which the skilled and unskilled labour bear to each other. The total cost may actually be greater than in England. I am disposed, however, to conclude, from tolerably numerous inquiries, that in most of the departments of manufacture, the balance is in favour of this country, and that the total cost of labour is so much less as to counteract many of the smaller advantages, as in fuel and freights, which the manufacturers of the sister kingdom would otherwise possess. That, however, no such real difference in cost of effective labour here and in England exists, as is popularly thought, may, I trust, be considered as established by the foregoing evidence.
A condition absolutely essential to industrial progress is freedom of labour. This freedom must be complete; it must exist as regards master, as well as regards man. A workman must have the most perfect liberty to place what value he likes upon his labour. If he does wish to work for certain wages it is his affair; and it were intolerable tyranny to control his will; but with that limit the right of the workman ceases. As he should not be controlled himself, he has no right to control others, and all interference of men to prevent their fellow operatives from working below a certain rate, must be denounced as not merely contrary to existing law, but to the plainest principles of common sense, and utterly destructive of the best interests of industry, not merely the interests of the
p.384employer, but in an equal degree of the men themselves. It would lead me too far from my proper object, were I to enter upon this question, so important to be truly understood by the working classes. I shall therefore pass from considerations which should be but general in their applications, and notice only one point in which the topic concerns this country.
It is often asserted that an important obstacle to the introduction of manufactures into this country is from the combinations which exist among the several branches of trade, and which subject the employer to laws and to restrictions so intolerable, as to prevent him from venturing amongst us. He, therefore, remains in England or in Scotland, where he is free to use his capital and machinery, to employ or not employ, as he thinks fit, and is not disturbed by clamour of combinators. To judge how far this cause can influence this country we must probe deeper than the surface.
No person really conversant with the progress of industry in the two countries would assert that there is more combination here than in Great Britain. The history of industry in England for the last century presents a series of the most violent outbreaks, riots, and combinations, murders of the most amiable employers, destruction of machinery and mills; in fact, such an array of illegal interference with the just rights of property and labour, as would, if judiciously worked up by an active editor, supply materials for a history of Great Britain that has not yet been written. But these events are lost sight of by the public in the vast extent of British industry. The ringleaders are punished; the general mass return to their work; in no case has the object of the strike been at all successful, for the unfortunate artisans seeking to enforce from particular localities or employers what the general progress of industrial discovery opposes, must yield before the movement of the age, and by warring against, in place of moulding themselves to it, too often suffer under its evils, without being able to participate in its good.
In this country, however, cases of combination derive an extrinsic importance from causes quite independent of their true nature. Our industry is so limited in amount, that a disagreement,
p.385which in England would never be heard of, except by those immediately concerned, becomes a topic of universal comment, and, unfortunately, the organs of public opinion are too often hurried by the eagerness of political feeling into speaking of a quarrel between an employer and a few men, as if it were a general outbreak of the working against the employing classes. Thus some time ago a sugar bakery was erected in Cork, and the proprietor very properly brought over from England, bricklayers conversant with the modes of setting the pans and other apparatus. For the rough work, to which only they were really competent, Irish bricklayers were employed, but these finding that the Englishmen worked for lower wages than the Cork standard, refused to work with them. In this they were perfectly justified. The Irish bricklayers had a clear right to leave work and stay idle, if they preferred it to earning money. But they went further, and demanded that the English bricklayers should be dismissed, and that none but the workmen at high rates of wages should be employed. Here they were totally in the wrong, and the proprietor very properly refused to comply. The idle workmen stood about the gates for a few days; their wives favoured the proprietor with a course of Munster billingsgate; but the intervention of a few policemen restored order, and the matter was really so unimportant that in a week it was forgotten in Cork.
But it was not forgotten elsewhere. The journals took it up, and forgetting that the whole affair was a question of working for wages under the ordinary rate, they seized on the question of English and Irish, and poured out on the poor ignorant Cork workmen and their unhappy country, column after column of vulgar abuse and contumely. We were savages, brutal rioters; the whole was but one indication of the hatred we bear to Englishmen; of the stupid obstinacy with which our barbarism repels the introduction of intelligence and civilization from the sister kingdom: and not only were such absurdities printed by the most eminent daily press, but the articles were reprinted in works pretending to be purely statistical, and it was inferred, that Ireland is in a state of social barbarism; that if mills were erected they would be
p.386burned; if masters gave employment their throats would be cut; that the means of earning wholesome food and healthful habitations, of dressing comfortably, and educating their children to useful trades, are looked upon in Ireland as objects sedulously to be avoided; that the native Irish have an indomitable and natural taste for rags and dirt, for sloth and hunger, for violence and murder. We can afford to laugh at such tirades now. After all the schoolmaster is abroad.
Besides the fact of the importance of such strikes being magnified by the unwholesome appetite for political excitement which pervades this country, there is another, perhaps still more influential in its operation upon trade. Employers are in Ireland much less able to stand out against strikes than in the sister kingdom. They possess less capital; its rapid circulation is a matter of more pressing necessity, and hence any temporary interruption is more felt. But still more important is the circumstance, that in Ireland, employers are more dependent on their men, than those of the same class in England. They do not in general know their own trade as well. If an English workman refuse to do a piece of work, the master can, if he chooses, do it himself, and this gives the employer a moral superiority and power, which the Irish manufacturer in too many cases does not possess. To this there are, I am aware, many and brilliant exceptions, and these exceptions are the more important, as their success, well merited by their energy and industrial knowledge, becomes a beacon to others on the same track. In every case that I have known of, in this country, where the master shewed himself possessed of the really high qualities, which the direction of extensive industry requires, combination has been unknown, or if attempted, has eventuated in the establishment of the employer, and of his trade, in a better condition than before.
There is but one remedy for combination, education. Not merely intellectual education; not merely to brighten up the faculties of a man, as you polish and smooth the parts of a machine, that it may do more work, and with less friction, but, that education which developes equally the moral and intellectual mind. And this education is as much required for
p.387the employer, as for the employed. If knowledge alone be given, it will confer power; whoever knows most must ultimately command, be he master or man, and if his morality be low, he will oppress; he will insist upon rights, and neglect his duties. Educate, therefore, the moral faculties of all classes. There may thus be generated what is more than all else wanted to give happiness, tranquillity, and wealth to Ireland, a sympathy between the higher and lower classes, a sense of their mutual dependance, and mutual duties, a pleasure in the recognition of each other's joys, and reciprocal condolence in those sorrows which fall to the lot of every rank. Manufacturers, otherwise well informed, have said, what have I to do with my workmen, but to receive their labour and to pay them for it? I have no connexion with them once they leave the factory? That is not right. Is it nothing to the employer, whether his workmen spend their evenings happily with their families, or in drunkenness, in gambling, or perhaps theft? Which would be most likely to make honest servants, and steady workmen? Which would be most likely to prevent an attempt to destroy his property, or perhaps his life? There can be but one answer. Independent of moral grounds, the kindness, sympathy, and attention of an employer to his workmen, is the safest and most profitable money speculation in which he can engage.
So far from the habits of the working classes of this country being adverse to the introduction of industrial occupations, they have made, within the last few years, unparalleled strides in the habits which best conduce to industrial success. I do not hesitate to assert, that the existing generation in this country is half a century in advance of that which is dying off, and that the generation now at school will be a century in advance of us. We were reckless, ignorant, improvident, drunken, and idle. We were idle, for we had nothing to do; we were reckless, for we had no hope; we were ignorant, for learning was denied us; we were improvident, for we had no future; we were drunken, for we sought to forget our misery. That time has passed away for ever.
In Ovoca, on pay days, where 2000 men are employed, 500 gallons of whiskey used to be bought by the miners, and drunk
p.388upon the works. The men spent the night in fighting, whilst their wives and children begged in vain that some of their wages should go for provisions and for clothing.
There is now upon pay days no whiskey whatsoever sold. The wives of the workmen receive their wages for them, and quarrelling is unknown.
Some years ago, the village of Bonmahon presented, on pay days, a scene of strife and drunkenness, which always required the intervention of the police, and often rendered the position of the superintendants dangerous. At present nothing of the kind is known, a temperance hall for social quiet meetings, and extensive school rooms for the education of the children, are now built, and the same number of individuals are able to earn £300 per month more than they formerly received, by the greater steadiness and attention to their work, which accompany their improved domestic habits.
I might adduce a great number of such examples, but it is not required. The children are at school; the parents are sober and steady. The revenue collected on ardent spirits has been diminished to one-half; notwithstanding that the export trade has augmented. The sums in the Savings Bank are not materially augmented yet, and it is better not; the mere desire to amass money is, after all, not what we want most. Greater desire to live comfortably, to eat of better food, to live in better houses, to wear superior clothing, to buy good books; these are passions far more useful to the people, and more important to encourage than the mere accumulation of money, which there is no danger will come, if it be not already present, and will lead to its usual results.
Labour, as it exists in Ireland, if it be unskilled, is thus now in the best possible condition for receiving the impulse of skilled direction. It becomes, hence, vitally important to provide for the proper direction of the nascent energies of the people. We have passed the line which separates progress from inactivity. May our future course be guided by intelligence and morality.
There is another circumstance, so popularly counted on as a most material obstacle to the development of industry in
p.389Ireland, that I cannot leave the subject without briefly adverting to it, that is, the want of capital. This has been the bugbear of Irish enterprize for many years. England has capital, Ireland has not; therefore England is rich and industrious, and Ireland is poor and idle. But where was the capital when England began to grow rich? It was the industry that made the capital, not the capital the industry. An idle or ignorant man will lose his capital where an active and intelligent man will create a capital. We leave our fields in barrenness, our mines unsought, our powers of motion unapplied, waiting for English capital. Labour is capital; intelligence is capital; combine them and you more than double your amount of capital. With such capital England commenced, as Ireland must commence, and once that we have begun and are in earnest, there will be no lack of money capital at our disposal. The subject must, however, be more numerically stated. So far from being unable to extend our industry for want of capital, we do not employ the capital we have in active industry. When money is made in England it is re-invested in the same or in a similar branch, concerns are increased, and transactions multiplied, until the amount of capital attains the vast dimensions which we now see. If some money be made in trade in Ireland, it is not so treated, it is withdrawn from trade, and stock is bought, or land is bought, yielding only a small return, but one with the advantage of not requiring intense exertion or intelligence, and free from serious risk. Capital cannot, therefore, increase with a rapidity at all commensurate with English progress; but that capital of great amount does truly exist in Ireland available for industrial uses, if the owners had a taste therefor, is certain. More than two millions of Irish capital is transferred every year to England in purchase of English Government stock. Many of the English railways have a numerous Irish proprietary. The property in steam vessels belonging to Dublin is only exceeded in amount by that of London, and is actually greater than the united steam property of Bristol, Hull, and Liverpool. With such facts, it is useless to say we have no capital; we do not want the capital so much as we do the knowledge and disposition to employ it.
Let it not be supposed I object to English capital; on the contrary, money is too good a thing to refuse, and especially from our dear sister, who has got abundance of our money on much better terms than she is likely ever to give any of her's. But I do not think that English capital will be employed in the direct advancement of our manufactures or agriculture, although it certainly will, indirectly, and thus be of immense service to us. But suppose an Englishman possessed of £50,000, and wishing to invest it in spinning cotton: he has his choice to go to Manchester or Killaloe. In the former place, he has coals cheap, workmen of every class at hand, machinery made at his door, market established, and if he wants to sell in Ireland he has canal and railway to Liverpool, and steam to Dublin, canals then to the Shannon. If he comes to Killaloe, he has to bring his machinery, and all his higher workmen, to bring cotton, and to settle amongst a people concerning whom his ears have been stuffed with newspaper stories, some unfortunately true, but mostly false. His sympathies are at his home, and unless profits were considerably higher, he should remain at home, and such would certainly be his course. Now profits cannot be sensibly higher in Ireland than in England. There is, therefore, no inducement for him to come. Take woollens in place of cotton, or any other branch, and, by a similar chain of facts, we shall be led to the same conclusion.
But some English capitalists have settled amongst us, it may be said, and hence the above reasoning cannot be absolute. There are some, as the Willans, who have cloth mills here and in , but they settled here at a time, when, by a system of differential duties, trade between England and this country was impeded, and to which it would be a most barbarous retrocession in industrial economy to think of returning. They have not dismantled their factory, because cloth can be made as cheap with us, but they have not materially extended, because cloth is as easily brought from Leeds. English capitalists will establish factories in France, Austria, and Belgium, because the tariffs of these countries secure them higher returns than English competition allows. They are paid higher as
p.391schoolmasters for the natives. This country does not afford such advantages, and hence we cannot expect them to come. To this there may be individual exceptions, arising from peculiar instances of enterprize, but this does not affect the question as regards the country generally. For active industry English capital cannot be expected, and if it revive, it must be by Irishmen and Irish capital.
English capital may, and I have no doubt will, be highly useful in the operations of what I may term passive industry; in the creation of the various collateral aids to commercial business. If an English capitalist have a few thousand pounds to invest in shares, he will as soon put it into an Irish railway or a canal as into an English one, if it promise the same returns. Hence the vast accumulation of money of the sister kingdom may be most usefully employed in rendering our rivers navigable, in completing our water intercourse by canals, in constructing our lines of railway, and thus, whilst it brings to the owner at least as much profit as it should do if laid out in England, it will prevent such works from absorbing the capital of Irishmen; who, on the spot, and familiar with the people, if they were properly acquainted with the structure and capabilities of the country, and thoroughly educated in their trades, might apply their individual capitals to the creation of active industry. By means of English capital also, agricultural industry may be, and is in progress of important amelioration. The owners of land were very generally loaded with monetary obligations incurred at a high rate of interest, which are now being rapidly removed by means of loans from England, at moderate charges; the estates thus freed will enable their proprietors to devote more money, and, it is to be hoped, intelligence to their improvement, and therewith the improvement of the people. The large amount of Irish capital thus liberated from the land will become available for active industry, and must, indeed, be very energetically employed to produce the equivalent of what had been received.
Acting in this way the sister kingdom may be most useful and most powerful in advancing the industrial condition of this country; it will be profitable, and, therefore, she will finally
p.392do it. The investment of English capital and of Irish enterprize must, however, go hand in hand. The railway is of no use unless there be a suitable increase of traffic. The means of transport are not wanted if there be not products of industry to convey. English capital, therefore, even where it is most useful, will totally fail in its object, and its investments give no profit, unless the morals of the people, their taste for industrial pursuits, and their education be promoted with the utmost zeal.
Numerous companies have been, from time to time, formed in England, for the purpose of developing some branches of the industrial resources of Ireland, especially our mines. They have been almost universally failures, and Ireland, as a field of enterprize, has been hence at a discount in the English market. It is not difficult to see why they failed; the causes were ignorance of the country, and want of economy. Thus, to work a coal mine in Ireland, an overseer and miners are employed who perfectly know how coals are worked at Newcastle, and who bring over steam engines and gins, on a scale proportionate to the English beds, but totally unfitted for the localities of our coal fields; the natural disadvantages are heightened by the want of adaptation on the part of the system pursued; the overseer is not himself vitally interested, his employers are at a distance, and under such circumstances it need not be a matter of wonder that the concern does not pay.
It is thus shewn, that many of those conditions, as dearness of fuel and want of capital, to which is popularly attributed the absence of extended industry in this country, are, in reality, by no means so powerful, and in fact do not present obstacles to our progress greater than what are every year surmounted in other places; on the other hand, we find, in the abundance and economy of water power, in the extent of our mines, and the fertility of our soil, in the capabilities of our rivers and harbours for water transport, and of the general surface of the country for land carriage, so many circumstances in an unusual degree favourable, and leading to the most sanguine expectations of the results of industrial enterprize. To what then is
p.393it due that we have made so little way? Why is it that our people are unemployed, or are driven to seek the means of living by periodical emigrations to fulfil the lowest offices in another land? Why is it that our harbours are bare of ships, our rivers undisturbed by the bustle of industry and intercourse, our fields producing but a third of what they might supply? that where activity exists, or that progress is now being made, it is to be traced, with but few exceptions, to the introduction of the natives of the sister kingdom, into whose possession there thus pass the most valuable domains of enterprize which this country offers, whilst the Irish population rests in the lowest grade, and but rarely manifest the qualities which the time requires.
The fault is not in the country, but in ourselves; the absence of successful enterprize is owing to the fact, that we do not know how to succeed; we do not want activity, we are not deficient in mental power, but we want special industrial knowledge. England, which in absolute education and in general morality is below us, notwithstanding our criminal violence, is far above us in industrial knowledge. The man who knows not how to read or write, who has never been at church, who never taught his child to reverence the name of his Creator, will be a perfect master of his trade. The machines he constructs, or the products he elaborates, will be most perfect in their parts, most suited to their purpose, and most economical in their cost; from the task which he undertakes nothing will turn him aside; for an industrial result he knows that time as well as labour is required; he invests his time as he invests his money, as regularly and as extensively; his steadiness and perseverance in his pursuits are thus part of his industrial knowledge; his acquaintance with the probabilities of his trade prepares him for difficulties, and hence enables him to surmount them. Such things he knows must be in ordinary course, and thus he works constantly on, through alternations of success and failure, to his final triumph.
In this industrial knowledge we are deficient. An Irishman takes up a branch of trade, after a time he finds it requires
p.394more capital than he expected, and he becomes involved. He finds that the profits are less than he had hoped, and he is discouraged, or he discovers that for months he can make no profit. Circumstances arise which he was not prepared to meet; the conditions of the branch of industry have changed since he first entered into it, and finally he loses, perhaps, all that he had embarked in trade, simply because he did not know his trade well enough. An eminent Belgian minister, M. Briavionne, having occasion to describe the importance of attending to the education of the working and commercial classes in that country, drew his examples of the consequences of neglect, and of attention to it, from the existing position of the British Islands. What has produced the difference between the rich and nourishing condition of England, and the poverty and weakness of Ireland? Industrial knowledge. Qu'est-ce que fait la difference entre l'Angleterre riche et florissante, et l'Irlande pauvre et imbécile? Le savoir industriel. He strenuously urges on the Belgian legislature the necessity of attending to industrial education, lest Belgium should become like Ireland.
The education necessary for industrial pursuits is very generally underrated in this country, and from this cause alone springs a great deal of our want of industrial knowledge. Our ignorance is so great, that we are even incapable of estimating its extent. If a boy is to be sent to a profession, great care is taken with his education. Literature and science present themselves to him hand in hand. A reputation, the best passport to professional success, may, it is said, be founded on school and college character, and his ambition is excited by the social and political eminences which professional men may attain. But if he is going to trade, education it is thought would be thrown away on him. If he can read and write and cypher, it is supposed to be enough. Should an ambitious parent desire to give his son a good education, although he is to be in trade, he puts him through college. He devotes the best years of his youth to reading Grecian poetry, and Latin plays; to getting by rote the dialects of the middle ages, and principles of abstract metaphysics, and awakens after the solemnity of getting his degree, to find that he is to obtain his
p.395living by principles and pursuits to which his education has had no reference whatever. He finds that the safety of his property may depend on the navigation of a sea, of which he never heard whilst labouring for months to understand the geography of the Odyssey; that the mode of growth, or the chemical composition of a plant, of whose existence neither Greek nor Roman knew, may be the means of gaining or of losing fortune, and of it he has been left in ignorance. That his daily commercial intercourse is with men and nations, of whose languages and whose customs he is totally ignorant, whilst he has spent his youth in learning how he should have spoken had he lived three thousand years ago.
It is very well for those, who, independent in fortune, and devoted rather to ease than enterprize, wish to dream through an existence which offers to them but roses they did not plant, to seek in the literature of past ages, an elegant and innocent occupation. Indeed, to all classes the literature of present and of past ages, of our own and of foreign countries, presents a relief from the weary continuity of action, which industrial progress requires. To the man of business, there can be no enjoyment greater than to transport himself from the anxieties of the desk or factory, to communion with the best lessons, which human intelligence has handed down, to obtain within a few volumes, the records of the greatest deeds, the noblest struggles, and the holiest thoughts which have been allowed to man. But this is not his business. This knowledge is not that by which he is to live, and the first object of one dependent on his own exertions must be to learn to employ them, to educate his faculties specially with regard to their future use in the development and the improvement of every part of whatsoever line of business he embarks in.
The idea of there being no direct connexion between trade and education, has derived support, with many persons, from the examples of individuals, highly educated, failing entirely when they engaged in trade, whilst other men, of no education whatsoever, have been brilliantly successful in industry. This argument is, however, when analysed, strong on the other side. What is called education by those persons, is not so. it
p.396is, on the contrary, worse than no education whatsoever. If a man know Greek and Latin, if he can expound all the niceties of metaphysics, what does it avail him when he proceeds to spinning cotton, or to smelting iron; quite the reverse. His habits and modes of thought are at every moment shocked by the rough clashing of the realities on which his fate depends. His mind, accustomed to discussions, which, whether right or wrong, leave life as it had been before, becomes appalled at the stern calculations of a problem, in which his liberty, his home, his fortune is involved. The man is not able for his position, and he fails; but he fails not because he was an educated man, but because he was not educated for his trade.
On the other hand, who are those uneducated men who succeed in trade? A young man, wanting to sell spectacles in London, petitions the Corporation to allow him to open a little shop without paying the heavy fees of freedom. He is refused. He goes to Glasgow, and the Corporation refuse him there. He makes acquaintance with some members of the University, who find him very intelligent, and permit him to open his shop within their walls. He does not sell spectacles and magic lanterns enough to occupy all his time; he occupies himself at intervals in taking asunder and remaking all the machines he can come at. He finds there are books on mechanics written in foreign languages; he borrows a dictionary, and learns those languages to read those books. The University people wonder at him, and are fond of dropping into his little room, in the evenings, to tell him what they are doing, and to look at the queer instruments he constructs. A machine in the University collection wants repairing, and he is employed. He makes it a new machine. The steam engine is constructed, and the giant mind of Watt stands out before the world, the author of the industrial supremacy of his country, the herald of a new force of civilization. But was Watt educated? Where was he educated? At his own work-shop, and in the best manner. Watt learned Latin, when he wanted it for his business. He learned French and German; but these things were tools, not
p.398ends. He used them to promote his engineering plans, as he used lathes and levers.
Arkwright began his career a barber; he had a taste for mechanical combinations, and spent all he could save by cutting hair, in putting together wheels and levers, making little machines, which sometimes answered his purpose, and sometimes not. At last, he put them together after a manner which has led to momentous consequences. He invented, or at least he rendered practicable, the spinning by rollers, and created the basis of the cotton trade of England. Was he not educated? Did he not educate himself, whilst carrying his wigs and barber's apparatus from house to house, thinking about his models of machines, and so wrapt up in them, that his wife, in a passion, burned them all, for which he removed from her, and stipulated that she should let him invent in quiet. He was not as great a man as Watt. His education did not go so far, but it was his real industrial education which made him the founder of a vast manufacturing art, and enabled him to become one of the wealthiest subjects of Great Britain.
Tracing the history of men successful in a less prominent degree than Watt and Arkwright, we are led to the same result. Their success is proportional to the conjoint action of their mental power and knowledge. That knowledge is often difficult to acquire. So far from industrial pursuits not requiring education, they do require it in much greater degree than any of the so-called professions. Industrial knowledge is much more difficult to acquire, and much more extensive in its range, than professional knowledge; and yet, in Ireland, its acquisition has not been attended to in any efficient degree, nor have the general principles, upon which its communication should be founded, been at all generally understood.
Every department of agricultural and of manufacturing industry has its origin in scientific principles, practically applied. The weaving of a woollen cloth, the rolling of an iron rail, or of a brass ornament, the construction of a clock, the preparation of soap, or of oil of vitriol, all require the discovery of a certain principle, which, working by a certain process or certain materials, elaborates the product. Sometimes a process,
p.398with particular materials, is hit upon long before the principle of its action becomes known, and the art exists, but cannot extend itself, for with any other materials, the process cannot answer, whilst with any other process, the materials are not suited; and hence, although the art may arrive in that limited form to great perfection, it is impossible to transplant it to other places or into other hands. On the other side, a scientific principle may be discovered, and yet remain long barren of practical results. Science and art, which should distribute, by progressing hand in hand, the highest blessings of industry and civilization, are hence often separated, and the more so, that the persons by whom each is cultivated are kept asunder by the false ideas as to what really constitutes education. The man of science, occupying himself with the interesting paths of abstract discovery, thinks not of community of objects, or of feeling, with the dark, coarse-handed operatives, who, in the furnace or the forge, work up the really practicable solution of his problems; whilst the worker, equally ignorant of the importance of bringing together their respective modes of experiment and inquiry, consider science, like the dead languages, as characterizing the position of the upper classes, from whom, intellectually as well as socially, he keeps apart.
The real fact is, that it is only of late years that science has attained a position of such accuracy and power as that it could efficiently come to the assistance of the arts in devising new processes, or in suggesting the use of new materials. The phenomena of a manufacturing process are so complex, are so affected by little details of working, by temperature, by moisture, by presence or absence of air, by mechanical conditions, and by molecular forces, that the problems were really too complex and difficult for science, in its existing state, to grapple with; and, in most cases, a process was brought to practical perfection, not by the direct advice of a man of science, but by the continued working of a number of practical men, who, at great expense, intense labour, and numerous trials, brought it to succeed. The man of science may then be able to tell him why it succeeds; but the artisan is often tempted to say, that he is not particular as to why, provided it does succeed, and he
p.399is disposed to consider as unnecessary and practically inapplicable, that scientific knowledge which alone ordinary scientific men can supply.
The artisan is, however, as much in error in neglecting abstract theory as the philosopher in regarding practical results distinct from science. When theory teaches us what is really essential in a process, it enables us often to simplify that process and to render its working more economic; or it may enable us to modify it so, as to carry it on in other places, where the materials originally necessary could not be had. It is thus, that even where the practice of the art has preceded theory, the latter facilitates the extension and improvement of the art. But such cases are much less numerous than is really thought. He who devises a process has almost universally a theory, and the only difference is, that if his theory be wrong, he stumbles in the dark, until, by long continued practice, he works rightly in spite of his theory, whereas, if he had known the true theory, he would have lighted upon the proper practice in the beginning. In every great improvement that has been effected in the arts, a distinct idea of the object and of the means of effecting it, that is, a scientific theory, has been first conceived. Arkwright had the idea of the steam engine distinct in his mind before he ever made an engine. Under these circumstances, it is evidently of the greatest consequence to render the theoretical ideas of the practical worker and inventor, as distinct and exact as possible, that is, to superadd upon his already practical education, so much acquaintance with science, as may enable him fully to understand the properties of the substances upon which he operates, and the laws of action to which they are subjected.
To give an industrial education, therefore, it is necessary to unite the two elementsscience and practice. Science should be taught especially with a view to the application of its principles. Practice should be followed with constant reference to the princples upon which it rests. In this way, the elements of the highest industrial progress should be obtained. The economy of any process, the effective duty of any machine, the real value of any material, would be tested by the application
p.400of direct calculation to the results produced. The manufacturer never could be taken by surprise, for the different operations of his works would all be conducted under a system of numerical control, which would render it impossible that anything important could escape his observation.
The practice of the arts is that which is most difficult to be learned, and that in which we labour under the greatest disadvantage. In England, every manufacturing town is a great school of practical education, where each branch of mechanical and chemical industry is carried on on a vast scale, and by a variety of processes. Her workmen, thus educated, though otherwise illiterate, pass into other countries, and are thus serving, most efficiently, to develope throughout Europe the different branches of native industry. Amongst us, such schools of industrial education are, as yet, scarcely existent. For the acquisition of this practical knowledge, we must look therefore to Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham. These are the universities, in which the persons desirous of developing the industrial resources of Ireland must graduate. The English workmen, although perfect in thus carrying out the processes to which a long experience has conducted them, are destitute, owing to the low state of general education in that country, of the power of applying the aids of science to their modification, or further improvement. The processes adapted to the nature of materials in certain districts of England, are inapplicable in others, and still more in other countries, and it is on this account that so many schemes for utilizing our sources of industry have failed totally in the hands of the English workmen imported to carry them out, because they found themselves under new circumstances, and with materials which differed from what they had been used to, and did not know the principles of their trade at all sufficiently to enable them to introduce proper modifications.
A person about to be educated for industrial purposes should therefore be first thoroughly grounded in the general principles of the natural and physical sciences, and in elementary mathematics. All this can be done with far less expenditure of time, of trouble, and of money, than is usually incurred with the
p.401Greek and Latin, for which, in industrial pursuits, there is seldom the slightest use. Thus grounded in general education, he should pass to his special branch, according as he is to be a chemist, a maker of machines, a worker in metals, or of other trade. Of all the objects used in his peculiar occupation he should acquire the most minute knowledge; their properties and composition; their adulterations; where they are found; how they are obtained; what can be substituted for them; how they can be made. All these are things on which may depend, at each step of his future progress, whether he follows a losing trade, or whether he be eminently successful.
To this general education should be added the experience of the workshop. The simplest operation in the arts requires a degree of manipulative skill that no books, no words can give. The most perfect theoretical acquaintance with the construction of machines and the nature of various materials used would not enable a man to do good work. But if the man has obtained the manual skill by working practice, there is no doubt but that the knowledge of the tools he is using and of the materials he worked upon, will enable him to do it better than he otherwise could. The practical education of the artisan in the place of actual working is, therefore, of all the most important, and requires most time. The ultimate object of the previous discipline in science is to enable him fully to avail himself of the opportunities of improvement in his art which the workshop continually affords.
This subject of industrial education is, as it appears to me, specially important to this country, as without it any available development of our industrial resources must be almost impossible. In every branch of manufacture England is already in possession of the field, and if we only learn from her, and are competent merely to follow her routine processes, we must remain always behind in the march of industrial improvement. There is no physical disadvantage in this country to render it necessary that we should always remain destitute of manufactures as we are at present. But we certainly do not possess any advantage over England. On the contrary, her character is already made; her mechanism is already in operation.
p.402To keep a market does not require at all as much exertion as to obtain one; and hence it is only by the most strenuous exertion and by the most perfect knowledge of his trade that an Irish manufacturer can have any chance of success. To succeed against his English competitor, he must know more than him. It is evident that we have much to change, yet it is not impossible.
The practical part of education for industry must be effected in the factory. But all that part which consists in general and special scientific discipline might be most efficiently carried on by means of institutions of a collegiate character. The central School of Arts and Manufactures in Paris, founded under the direction of Professor Dumas, deserves, in this point of view, to be considered as affording an excellent example. In Prussia and Austria similar institutions have been organized under the care of the government; and in England and Scotland also the necessity of adding scientific knowledge to practical education has been acknowledged by the foundation of departments for that purpose in connexion with various local institutions.
A century ago, long before the necessity of connecting scientific knowledge with the arts was felt elsewhere, an association was founded in this country expressly for that purpose. The Dublin Society, whose exertions in the advancement of husbandry and the other useful arts were so eloquently described by Arthur Young, and admitted by him to be the origin of all the similar societies in England, has from that period to the present, undeviatingly promoted the objects for which it was founded. The liberality of the government of that time placed at its disposal great sums of money, which were applied to the prosecution of various plans conceived to be advantageous to the country. That it effected vast good is undeniable. But at that period it was too much in advance of the general population for its beneficial power to come fully into play. The country was not ready for an extensive industrial movement. Since that time its funds have been progressively diminished; its departments necessarily curtailed; its scientific and industrial organization limited in extent and still more in powers. But there appears some hope that the darkness which
p.403overhung those days is about to dissipate, and that the Royal Dublin Society may be enabled again to become the centre of industrial education for this country.
Its means of effecting good, were it supported by anything like the sum to which this country is entitled for such objects, are very great:its fine Botanic Garden, in which all experiments regarding agriculture might be so efficiently put in action; its Museums of Agriculture, and for Natural History, as well as for all industrial products and materials; the resources of its extensive Laboratory, in which investigations calculated to smooth down the many difficulties which beset the path of enterprize in Ireland might be so well conducted; its almost continuous courses of lectures on every branch of applied science, and the means recently placed at its disposal of having similar courses of lectures delivered in provincial towns; the triennial exhibitions of Manufactures; the annual Cattle Shows, in which the progress of our artizans and agriculturists may be registered, and rewards stimulating them to honourable ambition may be distributed; and, finally, the Schools of Art, which, although not exclusively connected with industrial objects, are yet most powerful adjuncts thereto, by enabling the manufacturer to bring to bear upon the improvement of certain branches of trade, a force of fancy and cultivated taste that not only may be, but has been found most conducive to success. With such facilities for communicating all that general scientific education which I have described as the basis of sound industrial knowledge, the Royal Dublin Society may be the source of important advantages to Ireland. It is not now as half a century ago, when its members were so far before their age, and were so separated from the general population, that their plans of improvement, their premiums and their bounties, falling upon a soil unprepared by previous workings for the reception of the seed of energy and science, yielded not a commensurate return. The people now are competent to work out the precepts of the Society. The Society has before it the noble task of giving to the people such precepts and example as may draw forth the slumbering energies of Ireland,
p.404and create employment, with its constant attendants, comfort and tranquillity.
To the middle classes of Ireland, to whom specially the industrial fortunes of the country must be committed, the Royal Dublin Society should become the source of scientific education. It belongs to the middle classes; not to any section or subdivision of the people, but to Ireland. Its objects are truly Irish. Its office is not to perpetuate the middle age absurdity of an exclusive university, but to explain to all, the modes by which we may become more learned in our respective trades; more skilled in all the processes by which we have to support our families; how we may become more intelligent and more wealthy, and hence inevitably more powerful and more respected. It deserves fully the sympathy and co-operation of every Irishman.
In discussing the general question of the relations of scientific knowledge to the pursuits of industry, I have spoken of industry more as regards manufactures than agriculture, because it simplified, in a corresponding degree, the conditions of the question, and enabled me to treat of it more briefly. Every argument proving the necessity of knowledge to the manufacturer, applies however equally to the agriculturist; and, as in the existing circumstances of Ireland, manufacturing industry can only come into play by slow degrees, it is by improvements in agriculture, for which education is absolutely necessary, that the most rapid and most extensive ameliorations in the condition of the people must be effected. Agricultural education is, therefore, the object on which immediate attention should be concentrated in this country. It should, like other industrial education, consist of the general scientific discipline which has been already described, and be perfected by the practical education of a well conducted farm. For the commencement of this education, the arrangements of the Royal Dublin Society are eminently adapted, and the co-operation of the Royal Agricultural Society, which embodies almost every landed interest in Ireland, will be a most powerful stimulus to those who have to live by agriculture, to avail themselves of such means of increased knowledge. The practical education of the farmer or land-steward can be completed in those schools, of which so many are now in operation,
p.405or about being formed, as at Templemoyle and Lough Ashe. That contemplated on a larger scale, at Leopardstown, cannot fail, if carried out on the plan proposed, to be of great utility. We will hear no more of the superiority of Scotch farming, or of the exclusive employment of Scotch stewards, if Irishmen set themselves about learning their trade as well, and fit themselves by steadiness and practical knowledge for such situations.
That these views are in no material degree unsound, is fully shewn by the fact, that the Commissioners of Education have, in organizing the plan of instruction for the poorer classes, always considered industrial education as a necessary element of their system. What can be of higher beneficence to a population, than the instruction of the child in the general principles of the trades, by one or other of which the man will have to support a family. This object, however, could not be fully carried out by the means hitherto available; and hence the Commissioners have, for reasons such as are described above, concentrated their efforts upon agricultural education. Even in this, their plans cannot be yet fully brought into play. The schoolmasters have to learn the principles of agriculture, before they can teach them; and this education of the educators, is the step now in process of working out. The scientific lectures, by eminently qualified teachers; the practical workings on the model farm, under the directions of a highly skilful agriculturist, will, after a little, enable the Commissioners of Education to settle in each parish a schoolmaster, who will be also a minister of industrial progress, and by whose precepts and example, the seed of practical intelligence shall be cultivated, and return hundredfold. With such a system of education, and with the habits of temperance, of moral conduct, and fixity of purpose, which, it is acknowledged, are growing rapidly upon the Irish character, there is no fear for the working classes. It is the middle classes that have most difficulties to overcome, more bad habits to break from. I have endeavoured to indicate to them at once the sources of material prosperity, which the country possesses, and the means by which alone, as I conceive, they can acquire the power of properly utilizing them.
I have been asked, whilst engaged in the consideration of this subject, Would you seek to introduce into Ireland that manufacturing system, which, whilst creating vast wealth for a fortunate few, throws the majority of the population into a state of moral and physical wretchedness and destitution, to which there is, absolutely, no parallel in this country? The Reports of the Employment Commissioners have revealed a depth of moral and social ignorance, of degrading barbarism, in the midst of the very pinnacles of civilization and of wealth, which it were guilt even to contemplate being disseminated amongst our population. No, if it were necessary, in developing our industrial resources, to become as parts of England are, I would not desire the change. But the condition of the working classes in England does not belong to the fact of their being industrious. Isolated districts in that country, numerous localities in America, and on the Continent, shew the perfect feasibility of the union of the most steady industry with education, with morality, and with cleanliness. If a large proportion of the working classes in England are ignorant, are immoral, are drunken, and are unhealthy, it is because no efficient system of moral and intellectual education has ever been in operation with them, and that their habitations are crowded in filthy and unwholesome lanes, and that, when released from the toils of their working rooms, they rush to the ale-house to seek a destructive stimulus to their exhausted frames. Is it wonderful that such a condition of society should produce unwholesome fruit? Individual associations in England have endeavoured to remedy this deplorable condition. Their active benevolence and their wealth have founded schools for temporal and spiritual instruction, have opened mechanics' institutes and reading-rooms, and thus have given to thousands the opportunities of elevating themselves from the darkness in which their fellows are still immersed. But these local and individual efforts cannot remedy the system.
The causes which have led to the bad results of the manufacturing system in the sister kingdom, do not exist with us. Ireland can never become a great manufacturing country, such as England is. Her physical constitution does not supply materials. The proportion of the people employed in factories can,
p.407therefore, never be so great. Her sources of power, whether it be coal or turf, or water, lie distributed so uniformly through the land, that the concentration of manufactures, on a few localities, as in England, cannot occur. Hence the evils of vast, unhealthy, manufacturing cities need not be feared. Above all, with temperate habits, and with the education which the National system will give to every individual of the growing race, there is no danger but that industry may be accompanied by intelligence, intelligence by morality, and all by the steadiness of purpose, and tranquillity of habits, on which the happiness of the family and the peace of the community depend. This is the result which it should be the object of all to gain. This would render us independent of the wretched political differences on which we waste our strength.
Vast in its consequences, it is yet simple in its means of attainment. It only requires that each man intending to live by the land, should learn what the land is, and what can be done with it. That having so learned, he should apply himself steadfastly to the practical working of his occupation. So he is certain of success. Success will render him independent; independence will render him respected, and respect will bring him power. Thus knowledge is power. Practical knowledge; for power is essentially practical.
Such are the circumstances influencing industry in Ireland, which, falling within the range of subjects connected with my professional duties, I have thought it not unimportant, at the present time, to offer for public consideration. I have not entered into every source of employment which this country could afford. Thus I have touched but lightly on the details of the cultivation of waste lands, and not at all alluded to the subject, so important in itself, of fisheries. These topics I did not introduce, because their importance and their practicability are universally recognized. My object was to point out that the constitution of the rocks and soil of Ireland, its extent of ores and fuel, its supply of water, its extent of lakes and rivers, its harbours, all fitted it for industry in agriculture, in manufactures, and in commerce, in a degree, which, although not entitling it, like England, to grasp at the commercial and manufacturing
p.408sceptre of the world, would certainly enable it to be the source of employment and comfort to its own people. For the attainment of this end, it was necessary to remove some errors regarding the true foundations of industrial success, to describe, with a certain detail, how far the materials for industry exist naturally in Ireland, and to point out, how indispensable to the employment of even the richest gifts of nature is practical education in industrial knowledge. If even a few are induced, by the facts and arguments I have brought forward, to reflect upon these topics, to discuss them, and, if satisfied, to act steadily upon them, I shall consider my object as being gained.