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The Decline of the Population of Ireland

The Illustrated London News, vol.39, no. 1109, p. 287-288.

September 21,1861

That portion of the world's inhabitants among whom the English language is predominant has of late been indulging in a general census-taking. In the summer of last year the people of the United States summed up the goodly total of thirty-one millions and a half—a decennial increase of 35 per cent. It was their last corporate feat. No sooner were the numbers announced than the great Republic, unable to harmonise so large a family, fell asunder. . . .

Page 288

In industrial pursuits the Irish emigrant of both sexes has thriven extraordinarily. No European emigration has surpassed them in this respect, except the German, and that only because of the great skill both in agriculture and manufactures which the latter possess, and which the Irish lacked. The greatest dry-goods merchant in America is a native of Ireland. The women seem to have succeeded even better than the men. The immense sums transmitted to their relatives in Ireland by the servant women have attested the strong domestic affections and the large savings of Irishwomen abroad. In the matter of education the young family of the emigrant has been taught at free unsectarian schools the elementary branches of knowledge. On leaving school his children have enjoyed every facility for the acquisition of trades. Political power has been his in a measure greater than he has known how to use wisely. What American or colonial politician does not either dread, or conciliate, or swear by "the Irish vote"? If the German emigrant is slightly superior in the industrial career, in politics he is a cipher by the side of the Irishman. Australian and Canadian premiers, Californian and Jamaican governors, American senators, spring directly from the ranks of the Hibernian emigration. Two United States' Presidents (Jackson and Buchanan), and more than one judge of the Supreme Court, were the sons of Irish cottiers. To shed tears over the fate of the population that has vanished from Ireland is evidently to throw away one's sympathy on objects who do not need it.

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