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The two and half millions which were wanted for testing the scheme were refused. A few years later, appalled by the magnitude of a calamity which, springing suddenly out of the unremedied and increasing evils of Irish society, prostrated all at once the Irish people, we hastened to fling away more than three times the sum in an effort to relieve our feelings of horror and distress. This money, which timeously and properly applied might have established Ireland in prosperity—which applied, as Lord George Bentinck proposed, even at the time of the famine, in the construction of a system of railways, would have permanently benefited the country —was wasted on unnecessary public works; in making roads that were not wanted ; in making roads to and from gentlemen's houses ; in making roads that began nowhere, and led to no place; and in drainage works, which, where they were completed, permanently benefited not the poor people, but the landed class. A large amount of the money was jobbed; and the real relieffund of the poor-to their honour be it stated—was that which was administered by the Society of Friends.
The following extract from the report of the Irish “ Social Inquiry and Statistical Society” for the year 1865 may fitly close this chapter :
“The character and conduct of the railway system must manifestly affect most materially our social and industrial future, and the arrival of the period appointed by the Legislature for the possible intervention of the Government, concurring with the financial difficulties of the great majority of the companies which regulate the lines, and complaints, arising in various quarters, coerce consideration of the mode of their management, and raise the issue whether it has not been in many respects erroneous and unhappy. When we find that two Irish railways are bankrupt, that others have ceased to work, that some pay no dividends on their ordinary shares, and some no dividends at all, it cannot be improper to reflect on the causes which have led to those results, and the possible remedies for such serious mischiefs. It seems necessary to inquire whether the application of the principle of laissez faire to corporations which are necessarily monopolists, unaffected by the ordinary influences of wholesome competition, was not a great mistake ; whether the supervision of Government should not have been applied, as in continental nations, in mapping out the roads and regulating the use of them ; whether it is unavoidable that in one of the poorest countries of the world the rate of traffic should be higher than in some of the most prosperous ; whether an experiment should not be made for testing the capabilities of our railways more successfully to assist in the expansion of our manufacturing industry, in the development of our mineral wealth, in the improvement of our cattle traffic, and in the enlargement of the opportunities of cheap and convenient locomotion, which will increase for the masses of our poor people the facilities of intercourse with each other and their neighbours beyond the Channel, with all the advantages of the habits of punctuality, energy, and enterprise, which are eminently promoted by a well-ordered and largely available railway system. And if it should prove that this experiment is beyond the power of individuals or trading companies,-if they cannot be induced to sacrifice present profits, though with the fair prospect of augmented gain in the future, from changes which will certainly work great advantage to the community at large,the question will occur, whether a special case has not arisen for the assistance of the Government, and whether, either partially or universally-permanently or for a time-by tentative endeavour or the adoption of a settled policy of regulation and control, which has had great advocates and great results elsewhere-it should not attempt to rectify the evils which undoubtedly exist, and secure the advantages which, without its assistance, may be long delayed or wholly lost to Ireland. And this all the more, if it appears, on careful inquiry, that imperial advances may be more than repaid by local returns ; and that, according to all experience, the wonderful power of development in railways, under wise and liberal supervision, may be trusted to justify any present effort and outlay which the State may find needful, to remove the obstacles by which it has heretofore been opposed. On these pregnant queries, the pending investigation and the declaration of the intelligent opinion of the country will enable Parliament safely to pronounce; and it should not forget, in reaching its conclusion, that, thirty long years ago, the subject was considered by a commission under the presidency of Thomas Drummond, one of the ablest administrators and the truest men who have ever had to do with public affairs among us. An Englishman who, like many of his race, clung fondly to Ireland, as, in the words of Burke, his 'adopted and his dearer country,'—he perished in his prime, labouring overmuch for a people who mourned in him their friend and benefactor
"Untimely lost When best employed and wanted most !'
The Commission of which he was the head, in one of the most remarkable reports ever submitted to Parliament, protested against the formation of unregulated and unchecked monopolies, and anticipated, with a sadly truthful prescience, as the results which might flow from them, the very evils we are now driven to remedy—the waste of national wealth and the defeat of industrial enterprise, in operations practically unproductive, the maintenance of fares at too high a rate, and the existence of many inconveniences which corporations clothed by the law with authority, to a large extent irresponsible, cannot be compeiled to mitigate or remove. It is remarkable that, after the lifetime of a generation of men, we should be trying back upon the courses which were indicated so clearly as those of safety and profit by the Commissioners of 1837. Their advice did not prevail. It was accepted by the Government, but failed to receive the approval of the Parliament of the time. A tottering Administration sought to give Ireland the benefit of its suggestions; but the Opposition was roused to resistance by the expectant premier, and it succeeded in defeating the measure of those whom it sought to supplant, and to whom it grudged
the credit of any great achievement. Still, if in the circumstances in which we find ourselves we see reason, from large experience during the lapse of so many years, in the Old World and the New, to believe that the rejected counsels of Thomas Drummond and his fellows did not command the attention to which they were entitled, we may look back with interest to the record of the Parliamentary struggle which they originated, and trust that, hereafter, some other man may take the place of one whose rich and genial eloquence, not unknown to this society, was then, as often before and after, employed to advance the interests of Ireland.”
SIDE OCCUPATIONS ; IRISH MUNICIPAL BOUNDARIES COM
MISSION ; ABOLITION OF THE HULKS AT CORK AND DUBLIN ; SUPPRESSION OF SUNDAY FAIRS IN THE PHOENIX PARK.
It is convenient to place in this short chapter, as in a siding, some facts that fall to be recorded, and that are yet not easily disposable on the main line of the narrative. They all belong to the close of 1835 and beginning of 1836, that busy period in which most of the improvements in the justiciary of Ireland were considered and executed, or initiated.
Mr Drummond was employed on the Irish Municipal Boundary Commission, and he was a chief agent in effecting the abolition of the hulks at Cork and Dublin.
“In 1836 the Bill for Municipal Reform in Ireland was introduced into Parliament, and it was necessary that several boroughs should be visited, and boundaries fixed on for them. Mr Drummond had been employed on the similar Bill for England, and he entered warmly into the subject now, but confided its execution to Captain (now Lieutenant-Colonel) H. D. Jones, and twelve other officers of Engineers. The instructions were drawn up by Mr Drummond, and they contained the peculiarity of fixing a time at which the reports and plans should be completed. It may also be added, that so fully was the energy of his spirit felt, that this commission exhibited the still greater peculiarity of being complete by the time appointed, and for a smaller sum than had been estimated as