A PAPER READ BEFORE
THE DUBLIN STATISTICAL SOCIETY,
ON MONDAY, JANUARY 19,1852
D. CAULFIELD HERON, ESQ.,
BARRISTER-AT-LAW; PROFESSOR OF JURISPRUDENCE AND POLITICAL ECONOMY,
QUEEN'S COLLEGE, GALWAY; AND EXAMINER IN JURISPRUDENCE AND
POLITICAL ECONOMY, QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY IN IRELAND.
HODGES AND SMITH, GRAFTON STREET,
BOOKSELLERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
Celtic Migrations.—By D. Caulfield Heron, Esq, Barrister-at-law, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy, Queen's College, Galway, and Examiner in Jurisprudence and Political Economy, Queen's University in Ireland.
In that remote age of which no personal records remain, but whose history may be derived from the known dispersion of races and languages—as the geologist, from fragments of rock, traces the events of the primeval world—we find that the Celtic race, first of the Indo-European nations, fled from their primitive homes in Central Asia, and, by the succeeding waves of emigration, were forced further and further to the West. It does not necessarily follow that their migrations, in the ante-historical period, were caused by war; although, amongst the races of men, whilst in an imperfect state of development, the tie of country is so strong that nothing but the most positive evils of war, pestilence, and famine will compel them to abandon their native land. But the early migrations of the Celts may have been also caused by the pressure of the new Eastern populations forcing the tribes least willing or able to labor into new and virgin soils, producing a greater return in proportion to the farmer's toil. It has been conclusively established by Pritchard and Donaldson, following in the track of many continental ethnologists and philologists, that the Celtic and German , with their derivatives, as well as the ancient Greek and Latin, all belong to the same family with the Sanscrit, and are in fact different modifications of the same language. From this, coupled with the slender traditions of the ante-historical period, it is concluded that the Celtic people of are Eastern origin—a kindred tribe with the nations who have settled on the Indus, as well as on the shores of the Mediterranean and Baltic.
In the most ancient times, they possessed the greater part of Europe. In Spain, at the Roman conquest, the population was almost wholly Celtic. To the north of Italy, they gave the name of Cisalpine Gaul. Modern Germany was long the seat of powerful Celtic communities Thrace was in their possession, and, under another Brennus, they plundered Greece. Asia Minor they long possessed, and left there the name of Galatia. When the Romans were engaged in their great conquests, the Celtic power was already on the decline. Cæsar notices the fact thus:—"There was formerly," he says, "a time when the Gauls surpassed the Germans in bravery, and made war upon them, and, on account of the multitude of their own people and the scarcity of land, sent colonies beyond the Rhine."
So also the Cimbri, another Celtic tribe, that in all probability first colonised Britain—that made the terrible invasion of Italy in the campaign rendered famous by Marius—are described by Tacitus as the remnant of a once powerful race.
I may mention that the proper pronunciation of the word Celt is Kelt. The words Gael, Gaul, Galli, Galatæ, are all forms of the same term. In Greek, the term is Keltæ or Galatæ. In our English translation, the letter C has been used instead of K or G; and, through a singular mistake, it is always pronounced as S.
The Celtic race is the substratum of all the early nations of Europe. Where their tribes were overcome in war, their surviving population became the serfs of the conquerors. Where a warlike nation of superior development settled amongst them, as the Franks amongst the Gaels of Gaul, they have finally become fused with their conquerors. And, at the present day, nineteen-twentieths of the population of France are of almost pure Celtic descent. Although the French Celts have adopted the language of ancient Rome, even now but slightly changed through climate, barbarism, and the lapse of 1,500 years—although they adopted, down to the first French revolution, the Feudalism of Germany—the spirit and temperament of the Celtic races pervades all France. But in the province of Britanny alone is the Celtic language still the language of the (Bas Breton) peasantry. So, though the mass of the people in the United Kingdom is largely leavened with the Celtic blood, the pure race only appears in the extremities of the islands—in the Gaels of the North of Scotland; in the Gaels of Wales; in Cornwall, where however the Celtic idiom is extinct; in the Manx of the Isle of Man; in the peasantry of the south and west of Ireland.
It may be observed that the Celtic races have ever been remarkable for sudden migrations. We do not find them well known to the early historians. Herodotus places them in the extreme West of Europe, beyond the pillars of Hercules. In the fourth century before the Christian Era, the Celts of Gaul crossed the Apennines and overran Central and Southern Italy. According to Livy, two hundred years before that period, one multitude of the Gauls crossed the Rhine, and settled in the Hercynian Forest; another crossed the Alps, settled in the valley of the Po, and founded Milan. In the Gaelic invasion of Italy, they defeated the Romans in the battle of the Allia (U.C. 365), and were in possession of Rome for six months, with the exception of the Capitol. But, unlike the northern invaders, during the decline of the Roman Empire, they established no states in Central or Southern Italy, and retired loaded with booty.
The Celts of Ireland now appear determined to try their fortunes in some other place, and are emigrating from this country at a rate that surpasses anything previously known and recorded in the history of the migrations of the human family. Up to the year 1846, the population of Ireland had been rapidly increasing from the earliest known time, with the exception of the interval succeeding the disastrous civil wars of Charles I. and of James II., when the confiscations of property and the penal laws drove thousands of the native gentry, with their tenants, to serve in the armies of France, Spain, and Germany:—
Thus, the population Ireland, returned by the census of 1841 as 8,175,124, was found by the census of 1851 to have diminished to 6,515,794—an amount less by 286,033 than its numbers 30 years before, in 1821.
This great diminition of the population of Ireland has arisen from the failure of the potato and the repeal of the Corn-laws. The failure of the potato crop caused the famine of 1846 and 1847. The repeal of the Corn-laws has rendered the price of grain crops less at home, and increased the price of grain crops in the fertile virgin soils of North America. Hence, a direct inducement was given to emigration. And the labourers of the agricultural counties of England and Ireland, no longer having the monopoly of the great English market, will naturally, in the absence of other disturbing causes, proceed to the places where their labour may obtain a greater reward than it can obtain at home.
The immediate agencies by which the population has been so lessened in numbers are, the diminution of marriages and the retardation of births, occasioned by want and the dispersion of families; the acceleration of deaths, from the same causes; the emigration to England, and the emigration to foreign countries or the colonies.
We shall consider the emigration to England. The number of deck passengers that arrived in Liverpool from Ireland, in 1847, was 296,231. From November 3, 1848, to October 12, 1851, the numbers were 756,674, of whom 531,469 were emigrants and jobbers, and the rest apparently paupers. These last, amounting to 225,205, must have spread over England; and, estimating the numbers going to other ports, I cannot think that the permanent emigration from Ireland to England has been less, during the last four years, than 400,000.
| All other
For the first ten months of the year 1851, the total number of emigrants from the United Kingdom was 285,898, or at the rate of 343,000 for the year. These were divided:—
The emigration, therefore, for the first three quarters of 1851 was greater than the emigration during the entire of 1850.
The emigration during the last quarter, ending the 1st of January, 1852, appears not to have gone on at the same accelerated pace, but it still continues at certainly the rate, for the United Kingdom, of 330,000, and for Ireland of 250,000 per annum to all quarters of the world.
There is thus, yearly, a greater Celtic emigration from Ireland than from Gaul one Brennus led to Rome, or the other to Greece. Yearly, a greater multitude leaves Ireland than sufficed in old times for a Crusade. Happily, under more peaceful auspices, they go to plant the germs of civilization in lands yet uncultivated.
In addition to the famine of 1846, consequent on the failure of the potato crop and such extraordinary causes, there are other obvious reasons to send the population of Ireland in such numbers to the United States. In Ireland, most of the profitable land has long since been cultivated, and, in accordance with the well-known law, yields every year a less proportionate return to the amount of labor and capital expended on it. From the surviving influence of the feudal system of real property, the purchase of small portions of lands is difficult. From historical causes, Ireland has suffered much, and is poor. In many parts of Ireland, before the famine, labour was only 4d. a-day: it is believed, now, not to be less than 6d. in winter and 8d. in summer. But even this is a miserable reward for a day's labour. In the United States, on the other hand, but little of the profitable land has been cultivated; and the purchase of land from the Government, or even from private parties, in most of the States, is one of the easiest transactions to be imagined. In the Western States, agricultural labour is about half a dollar a day, whilst every species of skilled labour is paid at a very high rate. If the small farmer chooses to buy a few acres, the whole improvement of the farm belongs to himself alone. This last inducement is in itself sufficient to bring a number of small farmers from Ireland, who now can obtain but little security for the fruits of their industry expended on the land. For in Ireland, with the exception of the districts where the custom of Tenant-right prevailed, the small farmer, holding as tenant from year to year, has not, nor ever had, the slightest legal guarantee that, if he built, fenced, and drained, his rent would not, as a natural consequence, be raised, and himself compelled to pay the owner for the permission to use such improvements, contrary to every principle of natural law.
In a word, the poverty of Ireland, and the want of security for the fruits of industry expended on the land, are the main causes of the regular emigration—independent of the present pressure arising from the failure of the potato. And, but for distance, ignorance, and the love of country and friends, I consider a much larger emigration would now be proceeding. As it is, when so many of the Irish have already gone, when so many in America think of their friends left behind as to send them yearly £400,000, it is more than probable that the emigration of labourers will proceed until the ordinary wages of agricultural labour will be, in Ireland, about 1s. 10d. a-day; whilst the emigration of small capitalists who wish to buy land will proceed until the present system of the law of real property is abolished, and until it is as cheap and easy to purchase land in Ireland as in America.
I rejoice that labourers in Ireland are no longer content to work at their present rate of wages, but that they try their fortunes in another land. If they were permanently so content, the greater part of this population could never rise from semi-barbarism. I say, distinctly, semi-barbarism; for scarcely any more deplorable condition can be imagined than that of the Irish-speaking peasantry of the south-west, who, by their ignorance of the English language, were almost cut off from civilisation—who could scarcely hope to rise above the condition of labourers at 6d. a-day—and who were worse lodged, clothed, and fed than the peasantry of any other civilised country, or even than many savage and heathen races. We boast of the natural advantages of Ireland, and of the capabilities of the peasantry; but we must reflect that, in proportion to the population, even still there are more paupers in Ireland than in any other country pretending to civilisation.
The whole question of modern peaceful emigration is intimately connected with pauperism. Now, the poor may be divided into four several classes—the first and least numerous is composed of those wretched beings who, from organic deformity, whether manifested in mind or body, are unable to earn their bread, and with these may be included the aged; the next is composed of the wicked and idle, who refuse to labour for their subsistence, and who, not possessing realised property of their own, are supported, whether comfortably or not, whether in whole or in part, by the labour and charity of their friends; the third is composed of those who, by war or other such violent means, have been deprived of their realised property, and are consequently unable to support themselves; the fourth, and by far the most numerous class, consists of the great masses of mankind, descendants of savages, who as yet have scarcely emerged from primitive barbarism, and who, through ignorance of the methods of life, linger always upon the verge of starvation.
This last division includes the great majority of the poor in every country. In Ireland, it is principally formed of the Irish-speaking peasantry, or their descendants, who for ages have subsisted in the same state, fluctuating perhaps slightly with the growth and abundance of the miserable vegetables upon which they subsisted. Nor can it be said with certainty that the ancestors of these poor persons, in all their migrations from Irama, through Europe, to Ireland during many thousand years, were ever in a positively better condition than they themselves were in the years 1844 and 1845.
Now, it is at once to be perceived that the immense emigration of the last four years must have diminished the number of those likely to fall upon the poor-rates; and this is proved from the following tables:—
|Year.||No. of Unions.||Expenditure.||Paupers|
Again for the last four years, the numbers relieved were as follow:—
| Year ended
It will thus be perceived that the number of persons in Ireland on the out-door relief was, during the year ending the 29th of September, 1848, 1,443,042; but, during 1851, it had sunk to 47,914. And, taking into account the numbers of the census of 1851, I consider it certain the entire difference in numbers either emigrated to England or America, or now, by their labour, supply the places of those who have emigrated. And do we regret that our countrymen have escaped from the terrible misery evidenced by this vast number of nearly one million and a-half upon the out-door relief list in 1848, to a land where there is a hope their progress will at last commence? Their life in the pauperised counties and towns of Ireland was but stagnant and hopeless misery. Their dwellings in the country were cabins, inferior to the habitations of any other civilised beings; their dwellings in the towns were in old dilapidated houses. Families slept in the same narrow chamber—at once a cause of disease, and an offence against good manners. The damp, the filth, the vitiated and corrupted vapours arising from want of drainage and ventilation, in periods of epidemics, caused a terrible mortality. In such pestilential abodes, the most robust constitutions were weakened; natures more delicate succumbed; generations were decimated; and the survivors languished through life enerved. The roofless walls of these miserable hovels are now seen all through Ireland; and I sincerely trust that such wretched huts never will be roofed again for human beings, but that if the population again increase, it will be in comfortable houses. The man who lets an unwholesome house to another should be punished more than the man who sells unwholesome bread or meat.
We have next to consider what may be the probable reduction of the population under this pressure.
Ireland is essentially an agricultural country, with the exception of the three northern counties of Antrim, Down and Armagh. Her great towns are partly centres of trade to supply the farmers and their landlords with articles of consumption—partly centres of government, where the legal business of the district is conducted. There are very few towns like Belfast, that live by manufactures. But, whilst the agricultural districts of England do not employ a population of more than one person to every four acres, Ireland, in 1851, still retained a population of one person to every 2¾ acres. I have not time to go through these tables; but I may state their result In order to assimilate the population to the agricultural districts in England, it will require to be reduced to 4,500,000, or two millions below its present amount.
We may expect, then, this tide of emigration to flow on for a considerable time. The great check to prevent the poor from emigrating is their ignorance. Men rather bear the ills they have than fly to others they know not of. But the national schools, as well as their friends in America, have informed the Irish poor that beyond the Atlantic a continent exists, subject to the same laws as Ireland, though better and more cheaply administered, where the same language is spoken, and where there is plenty of good land to be had at a very cheap rate. The more go, the more will go, until the rates of wages are almost the same in Illinois and Connemara. The first emigrants had to leave their home and kindred. In Ireland, now, there are few who have not relations in the United States. And in addition to the above-mentioned economic causes, the same rapid panic which drove the Celts in their previous migrations now impels them in a body to the west.
To Ireland, the immediate results of this vast emigration will be a rise in the rate of wages, and an increase on the present value of land.
That the rate of wages must have increased since 1847 is shown by the almost total cessation of out-door relief; whilst, at the same time, the quantity of land under cultivation has increased in every county in Ireland. And it is thus conclusively shown that there can be no want of labour to be employed profitably.
Thus, to take the example of those counties in which the distress was greatest, we find that in every single case the cultivation has increased since 1847:—
|Counties.||Total under Crops|
It is much regretted that we had not Major Larcom's valuable agricultural statistics taken before the year 1847, in order that we might know accurately whether there has been any great diminution in the number of acres under cultivation in 1844 and 1845.
The emigration, with the consequent rise in the rate of wages, immediately increases the value of the land, by diminishing the amount of poor-rate. Whilst agricultural wages are on the verge of starvation, a slight increase in the price of food throws thousands upon the rates; whereas, if the bulk of the population had higher wages, they would be comparatively independent of such variations. The poor-rate, although in its first levy laid upon both landlord and tenant, and, by reason of a certain elasticity in human affairs, borne for a time partly by the tenant, becomes finally a tax upon the rent alone. At a new letting, the tenant calculates what he can afford altogether to pay for the land, reckoning in his calculation both rent and taxes; and it is immaterial to him whether he pay the whole price for the letting of the land to his landlord, or only a part to him and the remainder by way of taxes. The decrease, therefore, in the poor-rate, effected by emigration, is an increase in the value of the land. The diminution in the value consequent upon the famine far exceeded the mere money loss; for resident country gentlemen did not pass their time pleasantly among the details of auxiliary workhouses. It is true, paupers themselves rarely emigrate, but the persons who were on the out-door relief lists in 1848 have mainly supplied the places of the labourers above them, who have migrated. At the same time, I wish it to be understood that all the emigration arising from bad laws at home is injurious; but the emigration which arises from the discovery of new fertile land, and poverty at home, is beneficial.
But I take a much larger view of the beneficial effects of this Celtic Exodus. One of the great advantages arising from this extensive emigration of persons who, by various causes, were prevented from developing any high degree of prosperity in Ireland, must spring from the consequent fusion of races in America. I consider that, the more the population may be mixed of different races, the more prosperous will be the country. This arises from the principle of division of labour. Individual races excel in divers qualities, and are deficient in others. The French, Italian, German,, and English of the present day each have their different qualities, in which they severally surpass the rest; and if they were fused into one community of United States, would each apply themselves solely to those departments of human skill and industry in which they were superior. This principle has long since been perceived, and termed the territorial division of labour; but it never can be completely developed whilst men, remaining under different governments, are separated by international tariffs, customhouses, and wars.
In effect, we find that pure races, like the Turks, languish and become etiolated; whilst the most flourishing communities, like the city of Romulus, have sprung ex colluvione gentium. In the mythical story of the foundation of Rome, Livy tells us that the founder opened it as an asylum for fugitives—in other words, the political refugees of the neighbouring petty states of Etruria and Latium. All the young men for whom (to borrow a sentiment of a distinguished writer) the governments or societies of those states provided no employment, and who became their enemies in consequence, as naturally as the sparks fly upwards, fled to the protection of the seven hills of Rome. England has owed much of her greatness to being a similar asylum. Thither have fled the artizans of the Netherlands and France, from the terror of the Duke of Alva and Louis XIV. Whilst, with respect to the mixture of races, the modern Englishman is the result of the Celt, the Roman, the Saxon, and the Norman.
But the population of the United States is the most mixed upon the earth. And the Sclave alone of the Caucasian races is unrepresented there. Mr. W. F. Robinson lately read, before the Statistical Society of New York, a paper based upon the census of 1850, and in which he thus classifies the races.—
|Irish by blood||4,500,000|
|German by blood and birth||5,500,000|
|Anglo Saxon by blood and birth||3,500,000|
|French, or other Celts, by blood and birth||3,000,000|
Thus, half the population of the United States is Celtic: one-third is composed of Irish Celts; one seventh is of Irish birth.
In mentioning thus the different races, I do not for one moment wish to encourage the pride of birth, or to insist upon the intrinsic superiority of one race over another; nor do I use the term race to denote any difference of origin. At the present time, by means of locality and fortune, some aggregations of individuals have developed certain peculiar mental and physical qualities, whilst they use languages mutually different—and so they are termed races. Some of them are at the height of prosperity—some in the lowest depths of degradation. The primitive causes of these things we know no more than the causes which have sunk continents into the seas, and raised the mountains of the island which we inhabit from the bottomless abysses of the ocean. But St. Paul has said at Athens, "God hath made of one blood all mankind, to dwell upon the face of the earth." And in the lowest Australian savage exists the germ of the intellect of Socrates or Bacon. From the most deformed Esquimaux at the pole or Negro of the tropics, may, in the process of the centuries, arise forms of god-like strength and beauty like the living models of the Athenian sculptor. Even in recent memory, the splendid Magyar came a deformed Tartar savage from Asia, his language and origin the same as those of the Laplanders and Ostiaks: the Daco-Romans of Transylvania are the descendants of the Roman legionaries who conquered and colonized the ancient world. But a thousand years of prosperity have changed the former into one of nature's finest types of man; a thousand years of oppression have changed the latter into a degraded serf, like those of the Hebrides, of Kerry, or of Connemara.
We ought therefore to rejoice that this emigration is proceeding at so vast a rate, and that so many hundreds of thousands of our fellow-countrymen will find prosperity beyond the Atlantic. The emigration is peaceful and the emigrants are prosperous. By this means ties of family and kindred are uniting still more and more the great communities of Europe and America in the bonds of peace; and a war between the United States and the United Kingdom would now resemble a civil war, since in either army would be found one third of Irish blood. The laws of both countries, springing from the same common law of England, rapidly develop together. The Americans enrol the best of our statutes in their books; our digests and commentaries are quoted all over their Union, while Story and Kent are authorities here; and our most energetic law reformers borrow hints from the latest Code of Civil Procedure, New York, 1850.
In all those things, do we not see symptoms of the time when paltry national differences shall disappear; when men, true citizens of the world, shall roam freely to whatever locality they best may prosper in; and when their rights of person and property shall be the same wherever civilisation may reign?
During the process of civilisation, the sympathy of man for his fellow men extends in an ever-widening circle. The first nucleus of society is the family; and the family developes into the tribe or clan, composed of persons sprung from it. Persons, whilst in the stage of the tribe, fanatically regard its interests beyond anything else; they do not yet recognise the positive rights of other men to life, liberty, and property; nor do they hesitate to rob and murder persons even belonging to neighbouring tribes, though speaking the same language, and having the same national origin. Thus, the Arabian tribes were engaged in internecine war before Mahomet, for a time, united them; the right of private war between the feudal barons was one of the most difficult to be abolished; the clans of the Scottish Highlands,—Celts, with Norman chieftains,—to the time of their total disorganisation, maintained the right of mutual war; the Indian tribes of America massacre one another whenever opportunity offers; the tribes of Northern Africa still war upon one another; and we have seen the remains of this savage sentiment lingering in the faction fights which were so long the disgrace of Ireland.
Yet, during this stage, the tribes of the same race, in process of time, come to regard one another with less animosity than the persons belonging to other races. The Berbers of Northern Africa war upon one another occasionally, but towards Christians they entertain perpetual hostility; they rob and murder us whenever opportunity arises, nor perceive that they violate a right, but believe that they discharge a duty.
Sympathy developes from the tribe to the nation, and thence to the race. In ancient Greece, the rights of all Hellenes were finally recognised, but the rest of mankind were still considered barbarians, perpetual enemies, without natural rights to life, liberty and property. The Roman citizen united many nations, but warred upon the rest of the ancient world. In modern Europe, we have seen the different states of France, once independent, coalesce into one. The old kingdoms of Spain are now under one government. Most of the Sclavonic races have been united under the empire of Russia; whilst, in present continental politics, the schemes of uniting Italy under one government—of a German empire, and of a Pansclavonic union, are agitated by many ardent politicians. The stage of civilisation at which no nation has yet arrived, but at which I believe all will arrive, provided sufficient time be allowed, is that in which we shall entertain the same sympathy for all mankind, which has been felt for family, tribe, nation, race—in which the crime of killing a stranger in war shall be regarded as we now regard the crime of murdering a brother; when the liberty of the individual citizen shall be completely developed, and, as a necessary consequence, slavery abolished; and, again I say, when men, true citizens of the world, shall possess over the earth their rights, and, by the law, the means of enforcing them.
However, although perceiving that all human races now upon the earth are apparently in a state of progress, tending towards the same legal civilization, I am far from the ideas of those who would bring the nations of the world into one sink of level avarice. The gifts of nature are variously scattered among the children of great national families, and the brilliant variety of genius, taste, and imagination in races, constitutes the splendour of mankind. The types of nationalities with difficulty disappear; and there is in all nature one uniform variety. Grandeur and beauty would vanish from the earth if it were smoothed into level plainness. And although, once the laws be discovered under which we may best live in happiness, all nations in a similar state of civilisation will adopt them, the glorious diversity of mankind must ever still proceed.
- Bell Gall vi. 24
- Wales. Cymry.