Fenian Society No97 21nov1863
Whatever may be thought of the wisdom, the propriety, or the [feasability] of such a scheme for the regeneration of Ireland, it must be admitted that constitutional agitation has failed to elevate the condition of the people, and that the cessation of constitutional agitation has not been followed by any of the benefits which, according to English politicians and journalists, were to [ n] on the country when agitation ceased. If we are to judge it by its fruits, the Government of Ireland is one of the worst in Europe. In no other country are the majority of the people compelled to support a Church Establishment for the benefit of a small minority. No other country is so afflicted with the curse of Absentee and Alien Landlords. In no other country has the taxation been doubled within the last twenty years – nearly all the taxes being taken out of the country to be spent elsewhere – while during the same period the harvests have been deficient and the population has been diminishing. It is scarcely to be wondered at that when their country is suffering so frightfully, and its rulers persist in the same policy that has inflicted on it such sufferings, and admit that they are unable or unwilling to apply any remedy, so many Irish exiles think that a revolution is necessary, and are eager themselves to attempt it whenever such circumstances arise as may render the attempt not hopeless. Revolution is always a fearful, often a wicked thing, and the views of these Fenians may be visionary, their hopes may be baseless; some may think their intentions wicked and their schemes rash and wild; but those who approved of revolution in Tuscany and Parma must at least admit that the grievances which the Fenians would redress are [unparallelled] in their enormity, even if the means by which they would redress them should not meet with approval.
A late Dublin paper thus summarizes some official returns:
The statistics of agriculture and emigration which have been published, inform us that –
Those figures are drawn from the official returns. Let the reader remember them. Over four hundred thousand acres gone out of cultivation in this country since the year 1857! The loss in money represented by these figures must be computed for each year separately, and the sums then added together. It will be found to be enormous. But it does not represent our whole loss, for in other sources of wealth we have been at the same time losing heavily.
In 1861, the loss of value in livestock, as compared with that of the previous year, was officially set down at £1,161,345. In 1862, as compared with 1861, it was £1,564,710. And in 1863, as compared with 1862, it was £1,227,041, making a total loss on live stock in three years, amounting to £3,953,096. If we calculate the loss back to 1859, we find it amounts to £5,370,713.
Then the loss of our population remains to be counted up. From March, 1851, up to the present time, our country has lost on emigration – as shown by Mr. Donnelly’s statistics, – 1,378,33 persons.
To these facts we may add our loss by the undue taxation which the British Government imposes on us. It amounts to about £3,000,000 annually.
To this again we have to add our dead loss by absentee rents and by payments for articles of British manufacture, which, were Ireland self-governed, would be produced at home, and this we may set down as, at the very lowest, £10,000,000 annually.
And we have still to recollect that, while the population and the wealth of Ireland are diminishing as above shown, the burden of taxation imposed on Ireland by England is being increased. In the year of the Union, the population of Ireland was nearly what it is at present – but Ireland now pays double the amount of taxation which she paid at that time. England, wealthy England, is having her taxation lightened by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Ireland, impoverished Ireland, is having hers increased. A parliamentary return, recently published, shows that during some years past the taxes remitted in Great Britain [exceded] those imposed by £44,386,637, while the taxes imposed on Ireland [exceded] those remitted by £1,882,287.
These facts show a desperate condition of the country.[*]