Saturday, October 25, 2014

Letters on Irish Emigration

Letters on Irish Emigration


Worcester, Massachusetts, Jan. 30, 1852.

He [The Irishman] travels little there; when he labors, it is in a most uneventful way, —and, apparently, he is very idle most of the time.

p51  - The good part

As to its nature [Irish immigration], there needs here to be said only this, -- that the Irish emigration, as we see it, —the Celtic Exodus, as it has been called, — seems clearly to belong to the established, uninterrupted fortune of the Celitic race, as if it had been the immediate result of battle and bloody defeat. It will be remembered that within the scope of written history; this Celtic race, —speaking, a language of kin to its language of today, marked with the same sign of physical conformation, -- held without intermixture of foreign races, all Western Europe, including parts even of Italy. Since that period of wide extent, its fortunes are dark in parts; but this much is clear, that the clans which composed it have been perpetually divided among themselves, and in contest against Gothic or other waves of population, pressing upon them from the East, that they have constantly lost ground. Whether it is defeat by Camillus or by Caesar, or by the Ostogoths or the Danes, or the Saxons or Cromwell, defeat is their history, not, of course, in every battle, but certainly in the experience of each single generation. Such defeats have driven them further and further
westward, and have absorbed more and more of their race, either to enrich the battle-fields, or to serve as the slaves or as the wives of the conquerors, — until the last two centuries have seen it pure only in its western fastnesses.  Through those centuries it has stood at bay on the headlands of western England and France, and, I suppose, Spain; it  has had full inhabitability, though not government, of most of Ireland and northern Scotland. Those points of the world are to be looked upon just like the "Indian Leap,’ or the Mount Kinneo of our own Legends ; they are the last resting places where a great gallant race has been driven in by its conquerors, before their last destructive attack upon it.

This last attack the conquerors have now made; —not intentionally,
but because they did not know how to resist their destiny; not as Cromwell destroyed the Irish at Drogheda, or as Caesar attacked the Treviri, but in the more destructive, though more kindly meant, invasion, of modern systems of agriculture, manufactures and commerce. The untaught and wretched Irish Celt, of the pure blood, could no more stand the competition of the well-compacted English social system than could his progenitors or their kinsmen stand the close-knit discipline of Caesar’s legions.  

p 52

In the effort to stand it poor Ireland counts her millions of slain. They have died of deaths more terrible than battle, and the rest conscious of their last defeat have nothing left for it but to flee farther yet westward and leave their old homes to this invasion which will not end
p 53  

'That inefficiency of the pure Celiic race furnishes the answer to the question.  How much use are the Irish to use in America. The Native American answer is, “None at all.”  And the Native American policy is to keep them  away. 

p 58

The State should stop at once its efforts to sweep them back back.
It cannot do it. It ought not do it. It should welcome
them; register them ; send them at once to the labor needing
regions: care for them if sick ; and end by a system, all that
mass of unsystematic statute which handles them as outcasts
or Pariahs.

The Federal Government, having all the power, should use
it ; not growling in its manger, as it does, and only hindering
those upon whom, in its negligence, the duty falls.

And Nation State, or man should feel that the Emigration
is the greatest instead of the last element of our material
prosperity; an element which should brace us to meet and
handle any difficulties, real or fancied, which it may bring to our institutions of politics or of religion.