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This great Celtic race is one of the most remarkable that has appeared in history. Whether it belongs to that extensive Indo-European family of nations, which, in ages before the dawn of history, took up a line of march in two columns from Lower India, and, moving westward by both a northern and a southern route, finally diffused itself over Western Asia, Northern Africa, and the greater part of Europe; or whether, as others suppose, the Celtic race belongs to a still older stock, and was itself driven down upon the south and into the west of Europe by the overwhelming force of the Indo-Europeans, is a question which we have no time at present to discuss. However it may be decided, it would seem that for the first time, as far as we are acquainted with the fortunes of this interesting race, they have found themselves in a really prosperous condition in this country. Driven from the soil in the west of Europe, to which their fathers clung for two thousand years, they have at length, and for the first time in their entire history, found a real home in a land of strangers. Having been told, in the frightful language of political economy, that at the daily table which Nature spreads for the human family there is no cover laid for them in Ireland, they have crossed the ocean, to find occupation, shelter, and bread on a foreign but friendly soil.
This “ Celtic Exodus," as it has been aptly called, is to all the parties immediately connected with it one of the most important events of the day. To the emigrants themselves it may be regarded as a passing from death to life. It will benefit Ireland by reducing a surplus population, and restoring a sounder and juster relation of capital and labor. It will benefit the laboring classes in England, where wages have been kept down to the starvation-point by the struggle between the native population and the inhabitants of the sister island for that employment and food, of which there is not enough for both. This benefit will extend from England
motely related to the Erse and Gaelic.” — Rescarches into the Physical History of Mankind, Vol. III. p. 135. See also Latham's English Language,
to ourselves, and will lessen the pressure of that competition which our labor is obliged to sustain, with the ill-paid labor of Europe. In addition to all this, the constant influx into America of stout and efficient hands supplies the greatest want in a new country, which is that of labor, gives value to land, and facilitates the execution of every species of private enterprise and public work.
I am not insensible to the temporary inconveniences which are to be set off against these advantages, on both sides of the water. Much suffering attends the emigrant there, on his passage, and after his arrival. It is possible that the value of our native labor may have been depressed by too sudden and extensive a supply from abroad; and it is certain that our asylums and almshouses are crowded with foreign inmates, and that the resources of public and private benevolence have been heavily drawn upon. These are considerable evils, but they have perhaps been exaggerated.
It must be remembered, in the first place, that the immigration daily pouring in from Europe is by no means a pauper immigration. On the contrary, it is already regarded • with apprehension abroad, as occasioning a great abstraction of capital. How the case may be in Great Britain and Ireland, I have seen no precise statement; but it is asserted on apparently good grounds, that the consumption and abstraction of capital caused by immigration from Germany amounts annually to twenty millions of rix-dollars, or fifteen millions of our currency.*
No doubt, foreign immigration is attended with an influx of foreign pauperism. · In reference to this, I believe your system of public relief is better here in New York than ours in Massachusetts, in which, however, we are making important changes. It is said, that, owing to some defect in our
* In an instructive article relative to the German emigration in Otto Hübner's Jahrbuch für Volkswirthschaft und Statistik, the numbers who emigrated from Germany, from 1846 to 1851 inclusive, are estimated at an annual average of 96,676, and the amount of capital abstracted by them from the country at an average of 19,370,333 rix-dollars (about fifteen million Spanish dollars) per annum.
system or its administration, we support more than our share of needy foreigners. They are sent in upon us from other States. New York, as the greatest seaport, must be exposed also to more than her proportionate share of the burden. However the evil arises, it may no doubt be mitigated by judicious legislation ; and in the mean time Massachusetts and New York might do a worse thing with a portion of their surplus means than feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give a home to the stranger, and kindle the spark of reason in the mind of the poor foreign lunatic, even though that lunatic may have been (as I am ashamed, for the credit of humanity, to say has happened) set on shore in the night from a coasting-vessel, and found in the morning in the fields, half dead with cold, and hunger, and fright.
But you say, “ They are foreigners.” Well, do we owe no duties to foreigners? What was the founder of Virginia, when a poor Indian girl threw herself between him and the war-club of her father, and saved his life at the risk of her own? What were the Pilgrim Fathers, when the friendly savage, if we must call him so, met them with his little vocabulary of kindness, learned among the fishermen on the Grand Bank,—“Welcome, Englishmen?” “They are foreigners." And suppose they are? Was not the country all but ready, a year or two ago, to plunge into a conflict with the military despotisms of the east of Europe, in order to redress the wrongs of the oppressed races who feed their flocks on the slopes of the Carpathians, and pasture their herds upon the tributaries of the Danube, and do we talk of the hardship of relieving destitute foreigners, whom the hand of God has guided across the ocean and conducted to our doors ?
Must we learn a lesson of benevolence from the ancient heathen? Let us then learn it. The whole theatre at Rome stood up and shouted their sympathetic applause, when the actor in one of Terence's plays exclaimed, “I am a man; nothing that is human is foreign to me."
I am not indifferent to the increase of the public burdens; but the time has been when I have felt a little proud of the vast sums paid in the United States for the relief of poor
immigrants from Europe. It is an annual sum, I have no doubt, equal to the interest on the foreign debt of the States which have repudiated their obligations. When I was in London, a few years ago, I received a letter from one of the interior counties of England, telling me that they had in their house of correction an American seaman, (or a person who pretended to be,) who from their account seemed to be both pauper and rogue. They were desirous of being rid of him, and kindly offered to place him at my disposal. Although he did not bid fair to be a very valuable acquisition, I wrote back that he might be sent to London, where, if he was a sailor, he could be shipped by the American Consul to the United States, if not, to be disposed of in some other way. I ventured to add the suggestion, that if her Majesty's Minister at Washington were applied to in a similar way by the overseers of the poor and wardens of the prisons in the United States, he would be pretty busily occupied. But I really felt pleased, at a time when my own little State of Massachusetts was assisting from ten to twelve thousand destitute British subjects annually, to be able to relieve the British empire, on which the sun never sets, of the only American pauper quartered upon it.
Ladies and gentlemen, my humble tale is told. In thanking you for your most kind attention, let me remind you that its first incident is Columbus, begging bread for his child at the gate of a convent. Its last finds you the stewards of this immense abundance, the almoners of this more than imperial charity, providing employment and food for starving nations, and a home for fugitive races.
STABILITY AND PROGRESS.*
MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN :
I THANK you for the toast which has just been given, and for the marked kindness with which it has been received by the company. I deem it a privilege to be present on this occasion. We all, I think, sir, who had the good fortune to be present at the Old South Church, felt that it was good to be there. We felt that it was good to pause awhile from the hurry of passing events, and revive our recollections of the times which tried men's souls. I do not know that I have ever attended a celebration of the Fourth of July conducted in a more interesting manner. The solemn prayers that the God of our fathers would extend his protection to us; the public reading of the great Declaration which has given immortality to the day; the sweet voices in the gallery, giving assurance that the sons and daughters were training up to catch the spirit and imitate the example of the fathers and mothers; this all gave uncommon interest to the exercises. It was, also, I own, sir, particularly pleasing to me to listen to our young friend on my right, the orator of the day,t who gave us such a treat in his ingenious, manly, and fervid discourse, in which he rose very far above the commonplaces of the occasion, and adorned his great theme with much original and seasonable illustration. It was especially gratifying to me, sir, to witness the brilliant promise he afforded us of adding new lustre to a name on which three generations in this community have accumulated their honors.
* At the municipal dinner in Faneuil Hall, on the 4th of July, 1853. | Timothy Bigelow, Esq.