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and joined the dominant sect in freeing perial ratio which some would have us betheir common country from alien legislation. lieve they should have done. This object being effected, Catholic aid was no longer courted, and subsequent events The average annual export of the proved that party spirit had been laid aside The average of the four years ending
four years ending 1796, was ........ 44,321,4604 but for a season. The young nation had
44,212,8361 hitherto grown and thriven apace, but it was yet a child, " and thought as a child.” How- We intended entering at some length on ever, even in its childhood symptoms of ap- the details of the proceedings of the Linen proaching maturity evinced themselves : the Board—we however are precluded by our principles of religious equality were widely limits, which we the less regret, as there are promulgated, concessions were being made, very few who have not within their reach and the majority of the people already felt ample information on that point. They that they too bad rights as well as duties. liberally encouraged by premiums and loans, The crisis of nationhood was evidently at all improvements in machinery, and every hand, and the enemies of Irish freedom, see- excellence either in culture or manufacture. ing that the last opportunity for a successful No pains were spared to encourage and struggle was passing away, set all their create linen markets in the different rural energies to the work of hate, and so effectu- districts ; having first created a supply, they ally succeeded in exciting the worst passions then erected the market; thus taking the of the dominant party, that liberty of con- most effectual means of encouraging inscience yet remained an ungranted boon. dustry among the masses of the people. Faith was still the measure of political free- The Linen Board did not long survive the dom, and sectarian animosity again showed Irish Parliament. The terms of the Act of itself in all its wonted virulence. Again dis- Union bound the Imperial legislature to conunited, we fell an easy prey to the common tinue the annual grant to the Board. The enemy; and in the day of our unhappy dis- committee of '25 recommended its continusensions we were deprived of the right of ance, though appointed with the full intenself-rule, which eighteen years before “no tion of giving a different counsel. But power on earth” dared to dispute.
the advice wished for, though not given, Our young hopes were thus blighted as in was followed: half the grant was immethe early bud, and we once more sank into diately withdrawn, and the remainder shared a province-helpless and dependant on the the same fate in the following year. encouragement of England. The royal Let us now enquire into the present conspeech no longer commended the linen trade dition of the trade, and that of the operaof Ireland to the care of the legislative body. tives who are engaged in it. To us, the latImperial legislators required not, forsooth, to ter appears to be the most important part have their attention specially called to Ire- of the question; for what does it profit the land—now an integral portion of the British nation if an extensive manufacturer engaged empire ! That “ giant stride prosperity” in a trade in this country, and, it may be, did not result from the new constitution, preparing to retire to, if not already residing none will now dispute. We were promised in, another, can by means of the ill paid lathat increase of trade, commerce, and manu- bour of the artizan, realise a considerable factures, would flow as the necessary conse- fortune-if the men whom he employs, and quence of united-wisdom legislation. As re- the families who depend on them for support, gards this trade, at least, a comparison of be in a state little removed from beggary. the progressive increase during the few years The accumulation of capital is a good thing of liberty which followed '82, and the years for the individual who accumulates; but during which the act of 1800 was carried in- when that capital ceases to be a circulating to more perfect operation, would lead to no capital, its benefit to the community is lost. very favourable opinion of a measure which Our politico-economical creed applied to united in council men who had no unity of in- manufacturers, would teach us that the prosterest.
perity of a manufacture, and its claims to be The effect of fifteen years' independence accounted as a national one, should be meawas to increase the manufactured exports to sured not so much by the quantity of the one-fourth more than double their former fabric produced, as by the amount of remuamount. Let us place in juxtaposition the nerative employment it afforded, and that
. effect of twenty-three years of Westminster le- its profit to the nation should be counted gislation, and we will perceive that the exporls great, rather because it afforded the neceshave not increased since 1800 in the im- saries and comforts of life to a multitude of artizans, than that it poured luxury into the the linen hall, says that the linen hall lap of a few employers..
is now turned to other purposes; it belongs *Owing to the trade between Ireland and to the hotel keeper. I am eighteen years England having been placed on the footing here ; when I first came there were from 400 of coasting trade since the year 1825, there has to 500 webs sold here
week. There been no registry kept of the quantity of linen was also a linen market in Colloony, (five exported to England since that time. We miles from this,) and 100 to 150 webs sold will, therefore, not be able to place before our weekly; there is not a single web brought readers the state of the export trade from for sale there now. The number of webs that period to the present, with the same sold here has been progressively falling off arithmetical precision as we have its prior for the last fifteen years. On last Saturday condition. We can, however, produce there was only one web offered for sale. This authentic statements in attestation of the market is gone."* well known fact that it has been rapidly de- Is this, then, the state in which we should clining; for though the high sounding appel- expect to find the linen markets of Cork, lation of “transition state " may be applied Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, by some political economists to its present and Leitrim ? The annual value of linen alone condition; we, simpler folk, not being fur- sold in these markets in the year 1817, was nished with these imperial patent specs, such Cork, £46,736; Clare, £2,080 ; Limerick, as Commissioners wear, can see in that transi- £3,640; Kerry, £10,400; Sligo, £31,200; tion nothing but the forerunner of dissolu- Galway, £10,254 ; Mayo, £81,640; Leition and decay.
trim, £4,680 ?+ But who received all these That we do not exaggerate the evils we sums ?—the proprietors of a few large manudeplore, will be seen by examining seriatim factories, who sent their quarterly profits to the different localities once famous for the the young misses at some English boarding extent to which this trade was carried on- school, or supplied from them the extravaand comparing their past and present condi- gant expenditure of a roué son, whose life tion, with reference to the quantity of linens was spent in Continental dissipation ? No; it manufactured, and the prosperity, we were was received by “the independent class of
, about to say, of those engaged in the manu- weavers, who formerly made up linen on facture, for the recollection of by-gone days their own account, but who may now be said is still fresh in our memory. But the pros- to be extinct.” I But it did not remain long perity of the linen weaver is no more, and with them ; within one hour the greater part if the word were now applied to his con- was laid out in the purchase of yarn for the dition, it would but seem as if used in scorn- next week's web; the spinner purchased ful derision to remind him of what he once a fresh supply of flax, and the cottier's had been.
family, who prepared that flax, having The report of the hand-loom weavers' received the reward of their industry, commissioners says, that “the state of the returned home with blithsome and merry linen trade in the west and south of Ire- hearts to renew their toil, well knowing that land, where it had been established, is not the “next market day” would bring with it in general dissimilar from the state of the a similar reward. You proud and haughty trade in the county of Sligo;" and on refer- ones, who taunt our people with being freing to their report from Sligo, we find not quenters of fair and market, why so ignorant only that the “iransition” state has set in, but of your own nature ? or think you that with that the change has already been perfected. riches the Creator has given you feelings The state in which the trade exists in this and affections other than those which we county, being given as a fair specimen of its also possess ? Know you not that, with a condition in the southern and western dis- sort of instinctive desire, we all love to resort tricts, is of too much importance to be omitted. to those places, where happiness was wont to “Here I found merely the traces of a linen be found, even though the cause of that hapmanufacture; the linen hall, of considerable piness has fled. Why then rebuke us, if idle, extent, was hired out as a general warehouse, because berest of our employment, it delights and hardly a single web was presented for us to visit and revisit that village, that town, sale. On what were the linen market days a that market-place, where we were accustomed few spinners still hawk hand-spun yarn through the streets, but both the quantity and quality of the yarn offered for sale is
Report P. iii. p. 650. utterly insignificant. Mr. Roger O'Hara, 1817, p. 70.
† Minutes of Trustees of linen manufacture, Seal Master, and keeper of part of what was # Report.
again and again to reap the fruit of honest | who work very hard and live miserably. toil, and have our hearts cheered by the There is not one web sold in Claremorris assurance that we laboured not in vain. throughout the year; the few made by the While we write of these things, the busy scene weavers before mentioned are sent to Castleof a linen market in a country town seems bar for sale. At one period there used to be as if re-enacted before us; the inhabitants 200 hhds. of flaxseed sold in the season in of the surrounding neighbourhood assembled, this market, now there are not more than all dressed in their best clothes; the inde- 50 to 55." pendent weaver carrying his web to the From a communication with which we hall—the farmer's wife waiting his return have been favoured, by one of the most to sell her yarn—the farmer himself await- respectable and extensive merchants in ing the close of the market, well knowing Westport, whose family has been intimately his commodities would in their turn meet connected with the trade of that town for the purchasers ; each and all occupied in some last fifty years, and to whose enterprizing traffic, and at the close of the day returning spirit much of its present commercial imto their homes, having purchased, with the portance is due; we extract the following :profits of the past week's labour, the neces- “ In the year 1821 there were 500 webs sold saries for the ensuing week, and some few of weekly in this market; in 1823, from 500 the luxuries too.
to 600 weekly; in 1824 and 1825, the The recent publication of the poor law same; there are not now more than 150 reports, has made the distressed condition sold weekly. With respect to the sale of of the poor in the west of Ireland a matter flaxseed: in 1821 there were 2000 hhds. of such public notoriety, that we thought sold; in 1823, 1824 hhds.; in 1826, 2514 it incumbent on us to make more minute hhds.; these sales have been by two houses enquiry into the state of this trade in that in the trade at the time-our sales this year locality. We, accordingly, lay before our have not exceeded 500 hhds."* readers, the information which has been The statistics received from Castlebar kindly afforded us, by mercantile gentlemen are of the last importance, when viewed of the first respectability and rank, in the in connection with the fact, that it has been principal market towns of that district. for the last six or seven years the principal
“ The number of webs sold in Ballinrobe linen market of Mayo. “The average weekly about twenty years ago, was from number of webs sold weekly, from 1833 80 to 100: the number sold at present is to 1837, was about 500; the average numfrom 4 to 6 per week. The quantity of flax- ber sold from ’37 to '40, was about 300.” seed sold in the season was from 140 to 150 But it is not alone in the South and West hhds. about twenty years ago, at present from that the linen trade has decreased. In the 8 to 10." The correspondent, froin whose North of Ireland, which was its cradle, and letter we extract the above, confined himself where in its decline it appears to have retired, to the period referred to in our queries. The as we hope, not to expire, but to recruit its statistical tables of Moreau, however, show strength—the decrease is too well marked. that for the four or five years immediately At Dungannon, which was one of the first succeeding 1820, the linen trade of Ballin- Brown Markets in the province, and where robe increased very rapidly. From them the finest description of cloth was produced, we find, that during the year ending 1825, we find, in the language of the report, that the sum of £38,576 was expended in that "the linen trade had greatly declined, and
“ town, in the purchase of Brown Linens.* “In that while the old system had been passing the town of Ballina the number of webs sold away, the new mode of manufacture had not weekly in the year 1825, was about 350, and been proportionally introduced, and that a the quantity of yarn about 3000 spangles. great number of the linen weavers had turned The average number of webs now sold their attention to other pursuits.”+ (1840) is 8, and the number of spangles Of Strabane, which was celebrated as the of yarn is reduced to 300.” In the year yarn market for the counties of Tyrone and 1825, there were £15,472 expended in the Donegal, and to which a great quantity was purchase of linens in the village of Clare- sent from Down, Armagh, Derry, Ferma. morris.t There were then 40 weavers nagh, Cavan, Monaghan, &c. &c. it is said
The residing in the town, exclusive of those in " this trade is almost at an end." the neighbourhood—“there are now only two, quantity of linen sold in it has also greatly
* Moreau's Tables, p. 37-38
* Date Nov. 4th, 1840.
decreased. Strabane had its 800 inde- large manufacturers and capitalists. There pendent weavers, who brought their 1,000 were fewer inferior weavers then than there webs, weekly, for sale. But, “ from 1830 are at present. The superior weavers are not the trade among the weavers as manu- as well paid as they were when they worked facturers, began rapidly to decrease, and for themselves; but there is vastly more weavthey were forced in a great measure to go ing than there was. This, then, is the state out of the trade, and there is not now more of the trade in Banbridge, where it is said than one tentli the number of webs made par excellence, to flourish. But, if we analyse up by the weavers, for the Brown Market, its condition, instead of resting satisfied that used to be."* The state of the linen with a superficial glance; in what do we weavers of Drogheda presents a spectacle find the prosperity to consist ? Why, 'tis of human misery, which to those unac- simply this :--the hundred small manufacquainted with the privations, which the facturers, who once employed their tens and wreck of a manufacture is sure to bring twentys, or it might be their two or three upon the operatives engaged in it, is beyond "superior weavers," have given place to the conception.
few large capitalists, who employ their hunThe large manufacturers, who employed dreds of “ inferior weavers." And that while from 100 10 200 weavers each, were obliged the small capitalists are crushed and begto lower their wages to meet the competition gared—the artizan is ill paid—and his deof the English and Scotch, and eventually pendents but one degree removed from left the trade. The small manufacturers starvation. The large capitalist is amassing were obliged to lower them still further, for still larger snms, that he inay aristocranot being able to make such extensive sales, rize his family by that wealth, which in a they could not take the same rate of profit. more healthy state of the trade, would The effect of this competition, which resulted have spread itself over a more extended from the "assiinilation " system, is that “the surface, and established an independent wives and children of the weavers endea- middle class. vour to add to their means by begging The remuneration received by the operacontributions of potatoes or meal.” The tive has fallen with his independence. In cabins that they live and work in are de- Drogheda “ the net receipt of the weaver scribed as “fearsul specimens of what habit averages from 3s. 4d. to 5s. a week.” The will enable a human being to endure.”+ evidence froin Derry draws a contrast be
Banbridge forms an exception to the tween the foriner and present state of the inany towns from which we have seen re- weaver, which we copy for its forcible siinports. Here the trade appears not to have plicity. diminished in the same proportion as it has “ 'There is a great difference in respect in other parts of the country. Mr. Dunbar, of the appearance of the weavers who an extensive employer, says, “I have seen come to market, now and formerly: they are the linen trade brisker, but never in a more not so well drest, nor nearly so comfortable healthy and promising condition, consider looking—the men are older-looking—the ing it is only recovering." In this district, fine sturdy young men who once came to however, the trade has passed into the hands market, have now gone out of the trade, and of large capitalists. D. Lindsay, J. P. says, many have emigrated to America. I re“I commenced to manufacture ten years member when it was the best occupation in ago, in place of buying up linen, because I Ireland ; now it is gone to nothing.' thought it would be more profitable: I found The appearance (as well as the condition) it so, and have inade much more money by of the line weaver is indeed altered; he is manufacturing than I did by buying and no longer distinguished from the unembleaching. There is not one weaver now in ployed labourer, by the respectability of his a hundred in this district, who weaves on his dress. The air of comfort which once surown account. In the early part of my life, rounded his dwelling has passed away, and alınost all the linen was made up by weavers no longer does the white-washed cottage, on their own account. The introduction with its neatly trimmed thatch, announce to of millspun yarn, and the system of credit the tourist that he is passing through a linen and banking accommodation, drove the trade district. out of the hands of the weavers and small It may be said in reply to all these evimanufacturers, and placed it in the hands of dences of decay, that large manufactories
have sprung up, and that thereby the decline * Report, p. 649, Evtdence of Mr. Guynne. † Report, pp. 627, 628.
Report, p, 725.
of the country markets is fully compensated The amount of bounty paid on the export for: we would answer that the moral condi- of Irish and British linens gives a proportion of the people, as well as their physical tionate value to the Irish trade, by no means state, was involved in the change; and even showing an increase in favour of Ireland. had large manufactories produced an equal The latest return we have been able to refer or even greater quantity, the moral detriment to while preparing for the press, was that of which necessarily follows the destruction of a 1831, which gave the amount paid on Irish domestic manufacture, which, like the one un- linens, as £29,738 1 0}; whereas that on der consideration, had given occupation for the British was £123,382 0 24.* otherwise unemployed time of the agricultural We are aware that many other causes have peasant, would not be compensated by any combined to produce decay in this trade amount of increase. But it yet remains to of late years. To those we will inore particulbe proved that the annount manufactured has larly refer at some future period; at present, increased. The total amount of exports of we only desire to draw attention to the fact late years has not been ascertained; but if of the trade having undergone a complete we judge from the amount exported to for- revolution. The causes of that change, and eign parts, we should conclude that the the best means of counteracting the evils, and export trade was not increasing.
profiting by the good which has ensued, Irish Linen exported to foreign parts in form an important subject for the future con1820 .... 4,126,340
sideration of the Citizen. 1830
3,295,233 1832 2,884,302
* Tables of Revenue, Population and Commerce 1834 ..... 1,873,854
of the United Kingdom. Part iü. Page 318, 1834.