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CHAPTER VIII.

WILLIAM CLOWES:

INTRODUCER OF BOOK-PRINTING BY STEAM.

 


"The Images of men's wits and knowledges remain in Books, exempted from the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual renovation.  Neither are they fitly to be called Images, because they generate still, and cast their seeds in the minds of others, provoking and causing infinite actions and opinions in succeeding ages; so that, if the invention of the Ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, and consociateth the most remote Regions in participation of their Fruits, how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as Ships, pass through the vast Seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one of the other?"—BACON, On the Proficience and Advancement of Learning.


STEAM has proved as useful and potent in the printing of books as in the printing of newspapers.  Down to the end of last century, "the divine art," as printing was called, had made comparatively little progress.  That is to say, although books could be beautifully printed by hand labour, they could not be turned out in any large numbers.

    The early printing press was rude.  It consisted of a table, along which the forme of type, furnished with a tympan and frisket, was pushed by hand.  The platen worked vertically between standards, and was brought down for the impression, and raised after it, by a common screw, worked by a bar handle.  The inking was performed by balls covered with skin pelts; they were blacked with ink, and beaten down on the type by the pressman.  The inking was consequently irregular.

 

Stanhope Press.
Picture: Wikipedia


    In 1798, Earl Stanhope perfected the press that bears his name.  He did not patent it, but made his invention over to the public.  In 1818, Mr. Cowper greatly improved the inking of formes used in the Stanhope and other presses, by the use of a hand roller covered with a composition of glue and treacle, in combination with a distributing table.  The ink was thus applied in a more even manner, and with a considerable decrease of labour.  With the Stanhope Press, printing was as far advanced as it could possibly be by means of hand labour.  About 250 impressions could be taken off, on one side, in an hour.

    But this, after all, was a very small result.  When books could be produced so slowly, there could be no popular literature.  Books were still articles for the few, instead of for the many.  Steam power, however, completely altered the state of affairs.  When Koenig invented his steam press, he showed by the printing of Clarkson's 'Life of Penn'—the first sheets ever printed with a cylindrical press—that books might be printed neatly, as well as cheaply, by the new machine.  Mr. Bensley continued the process, after Koenig left England; and in 1824, according to Johnson in his 'Typographic,' his son was "driving an extensive business."

    In the following year, 1825, Archibald Constable, of Edinburgh, propounded his plan for revolutionising the art of bookselling.  Instead of books being articles of luxury, he proposed to bring them into general consumption.  He would sell them, not by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands, "ay, by millions;" and he would accomplish this by the new methods of multiplication—by machine printing and by steam power.  Mr. Constable accordingly issued a library of excellent books; and, although he was ruined—not by this enterprise, but the other speculations into which he entered—he set the example which other enterprising minds were ready to follow.  Amongst these was Charles Knight, who set the steam presses of William Clowes to work, for the purposes of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

    William Clowes was the founder of the vast printing establishment from which these sheets are issued; and his career furnishes another striking illustration of the force of industry and character.  He was born on the 1st of January, 1779.  His father was educated at Oxford, and kept a large school at Chichester; but dying when William was but an infant, he left his widow, with straitened means, to bring up her family.  At a proper age William was bound apprentice to a printer at Chichester; and, after serving him for seven years, he came up to London, at the beginning of 1802, to seek employment as a journeyman.  He succeeded in finding work at a small office on Tower Hill, at a small wage.  The first lodgings he took cost him 5s. a week; but finding this beyond his means he hired a room in a garret at 2s. 6d., which was as much as he could afford out of his scanty earnings.

    The first job he was put to, was the setting-up of a large poster-bill—a kind of work which he had been accustomed to execute in the country; and he knocked it together so expertly that his master, Mr. Teape, on seeing what he could do, said to him, "Ah!  I find you are just the fellow for me."  The young man, however, felt so strange in London, where he was without a friend or acquaintance, that at the end of the first month he thought of leaving it; and yearned to go back to his native city.  But he had not funds enough to enable him to follow his inclinations, and he accordingly remained in the great City, to work, to persevere, and finally to prosper.  He continued at Teape's for about two years, living frugally, and even contriving to save a little money.

    He then thought of beginning business on his own account.  The small scale on which printing was carried on in those days enabled him to make a start with comparatively little capital.  By means of his own savings and the help of his friends, he was enabled to take a little printing-office in Villiers Street, Strand, about the end of 1803; and there he began with one printing press, and one assistant.  His stock of type was so small, that he was under the necessity of working it from day to day like a banker's gold.  When his first job came in, he continued to work for the greater part of three nights, setting the type during the day, and working it off at night, in order that the type might be distributed for resetting on the following morning.  He succeeded, however, in executing his first job to the entire satisfaction of his first customer.

    His business gradually increased, and then, with his constantly saved means, he was enabled to increase his stock of type, and to undertake larger jobs.  Industry always tells, and in the long-run leads to prosperity.  He married early, but he married well.  He was only twenty-four when he found his best fortune in a good, affectionate wife.  Through this lady's cousin, Mr. Winchester, the young printer was shortly introduced to important official business.  His punctual execution of orders, the accuracy of his work, and the despatch with which he turned it out soon brought him friends, and his obliging and kindly disposition firmly secured them.  Thus, in a few years, the humble beginner with one press became a printer on a large scale.  The small concern expanded into a considerable printing-office in Northumberland Court, which was furnished with many presses and a large stock of type.  The office was, unfortunately, burnt down; but a larger office rose in its place.

    What Mr. Clowes principally aimed at, in carrying on his business, was accuracy, speed, and quantity.  He did not seek to produce editions de luxe in limited numbers, but large impressions of works in popular demand—travels, biographies, histories, blue-books, and official reports, in any quantity.  For this purpose, he found the process of hand-printing too tedious, as well as too costly; and hence he early turned his attention to book printing by machine presses, driven by steam power,—in this matter following the example of Mr. Walter of The Times, who had for some years employed the same method for newspaper printing.

    Applegath & Cowper's machines had greatly advanced the art of printing.  They secured perfect inking and register; and the sheets were printed off more neatly, regularly, and expeditiously; and larger sheets could be printed on both sides, than by any other method.  In 1823, accordingly, Mr. Clowes erected his first steam presses, and he soon found abundance of work for them.  But to produce steam requires boilers and engines, the working of which occasions smoke and noise.  Now, as the printing-office, with its steam presses, was situated in Northumberland Court, close to the palace of the Duke of Northumberland, at Charing Cross, Mr. Clowes was required to abate the nuisance, and to stop the noise and dirt occasioned by the use of his engines.  This he failed to do, and the Duke commenced an action against him.

    The case was tried in June, 1824, in the Court of Common Pleas.  It was ludicrous to hear the extravagant terms in which the counsel for the plaintiff and his witnesses described the nuisance—the noise made by the engine in the underground cellar, sometimes like thunder, at other times like a thrashing-machine, and then again like the rumbling of carts and waggons.  The printer had retained the Attorney-General, Mr. Copley, afterwards Lord Lyndhurst, who conducted his case with surpassing ability.  The cross-examination of a foreign artist, employed by the Duke to repaint some portraits of the Cornaro family by Titian, is said to have been one of the finest things on record.  The sly and pungent humour, and the banter with which the counsel derided and laughed down this witness, were inimitable.  The printer won his case; but he eventually consented to remove his steam presses from the neighbourhood, on the Duke paying him a certain sum to be determined by the award of arbitrators.

    It happened, about this period, that a sort of murrain fell upon the London publishers.  After the failure of Constable at Edinburgh, they came down one after another, like a pack of cards.  Authors are not the only people who lose labour and money by publishers; there are also cases where publishers are ruined by authors.  Printers also now lost heavily.  In one week, Mr. Clowes sustained losses through the failure of London publishers to the extent of about £25,000.  Happily, the large sum which the arbitrators awarded him for the removal of his printing presses enabled him to tide over the difficulty; he stood his ground unshaken, and his character in the trade stood higher than ever.

    In the following year Mr. Clowes removed to Duke Street, Blackfriars, to premises until then occupied by Mr. Applegath, as a printer; and much more extensive buildings and offices were now erected.  There his business transactions assumed a form of unprecedented magnitude, and kept pace with the great demand for popular information which set in with such force about fifty years ago.  In the course of ten years—as we find from the 'Encyclopædia Metropolitana '—there were twenty of Applegath & Cowper's machines, worked by two five-horse engines.  From these presses were issued the numerous admirable volumes and publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; the treatises on 'Physiology,' by Roget, and 'Animal Mechanics,' by Charles Bell; the 'Elements of Physics,' by Neill Arnott; 'The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties,' by G. L. Craik, a most fascinating book; the Library of Useful Knowledge; the 'Penny Magazine,' the first illustrated publication; and the 'Penny Cyclopædia,' that admirable compendium of knowledge and science.

    These publications were of great value.  Some of them were printed in unusual numbers.  The 'Penny Magazine,' of which Charles Knight was editor, was perhaps too good, because it was too scientific.  Nevertheless, it reached a circulation of 200,000 copies.  The 'Penny Cyclopædia' was still better.  It was original, and yet cheap.  The articles were written by the best men that could be found in their special departments of knowledge.  The sale was originally 75,000 weekly; but, as the plan enlarged, the price was increased from 1d. to 2d., and then to 4d.  At the end of the second year, the circulation had fallen to 44,000; and at the end of the third year, to 20,000.

    It was unfortunate for Mr. Knight to be so much under the influence of his Society.  Had the Cyclopædia been under his own superintendence, it would have founded his fortune.  As it was, he lost over £30,000 by the venture.  The 'Penny Magazine' also went down in circulation, until it became a non-paying publication, and then it was discontinued.  It is curious to contrast the fortunes of William Chambers of Edinburgh with those of Charles Knight of London.  'Chambers's Edinburgh Journal' was begun in February, 1832, and the 'Penny Magazine' in March, 1832.  Chambers was perhaps shrewder than Knight.  His journal was as good, though without illustrations; but he contrived to mix up amusement with useful knowledge.  It may be a weakness, but the public like to be entertained, even while they are feeding upon better food.  Hence Chambers succeeded, while Knight failed.  The 'Penny Magazine' was discontinued in 1845, whereas 'Chambers's Edinburgh Journal' has maintained its popularity to the present day.  Chambers, also, like Knight, published an ' Encyclopædia,' which secured a large circulation.  But he was not trammelled by a Society, and the 'Encyclopædia' has become a valuable property.

    The publication of these various works would not have been possible without the aid of the steam printing press.  When Mr. Edward Cowper was examined before a Committee of the House of Commons, he said, "The ease with which the principles and illustrations of Art might be diffused is, I think, so obvious that it is hardly necessary to say a word about it.  Here you may see it exemplified in the 'Penny Magazine.'  Such works as this could not have existed without the printing machine."  He was asked, "In fact, the mechanic and the peasant, in the most remote parts of the country, have now an opportunity of seeing tolerably correct outlines of form which they never could behold before?"  To which he answered, "Exactly; and literally at the price they used to give for a song."  "Is there not, therefore, a greater chance of calling genius into activity?"  "Yes," he said, "not merely by books creating an artist here and there, but by the general elevation of the taste of the public."

    Mr. Clowes was always willing to promote deserving persons in his office.  One of these rose from step to step, and eventually became one of the most prosperous publishers in London.  He entered the service as an errand-boy, and got his meals in the kitchen.  Being fond of reading, he petitioned Mrs. Clowes to let him sit somewhere, apart from the other servants, where he might read his book in quiet.  Mrs. Clowes at length entreated her husband to take him into the office, for "Johnnie Parker was such a good boy."  He consented, and the boy took his place at a clerk's desk.  He was well-behaved, diligent, and attentive.  As he advanced in years, his steady and steadfast conduct showed that he could be trusted.  Young fellows like these always make their way in life; for character invariably tells, not only in securing respect, but in commanding confidence.  Parker was promoted from one post to another, until he was at length appointed overseer over the entire establishment.

    A circumstance shortly after occurred which enabled Mr. Clowes to advance him, though greatly to his own inconvenience, to another important post.  The Syndics of Cambridge were desirous that Mr. Clowes should go down there to set their printing-office in order; they offered him £400 a year if he would only appear occasionally, and see that the organisation was kept complete.  He declined, because the magnitude of his own operations had now become so great that they required his unremitting attention.  He, however, strongly recommended Parker to the office, though he could ill spare him.  But he would not stand in the young man's way, and he was appointed accordingly.  He did his work most effectually at Cambridge, and put the University Press into thorough working order.

    As the 'Penny Magazine' and other publications of the Society of Useful Knowledge were now making their appearance, the clergy became desirous of bringing out a religious publication of a popular character, and they were in search for a publisher.  Parker, who was well known at Cambridge, was mentioned to the Bishop of London as the most likely person.  An introduction took place, and after an hour's conversation with Parker, the Bishop went to his friends and said, "This is the very man we want."  An offer was accordingly made to him to undertake the publication of the 'Saturday Magazine' and the other publications of the Christian Knowledge Society, which he accepted.  It is unnecessary to follow his fortunes.  His progress was steady; he eventually became the publisher of 'Fraser's Magazine' and of the works of John Stuart Mill and other well-known writers.  Mill never forgot his appreciation and generosity; for when his 'System of Logic' had been refused by the leading London publishers, Parker prized the book at its rightful value and introduced it to the public.

    To return to Mr. Clowes.  In the course of a few years, the original humble establishment of the Sussex compositor, beginning with one press and one assistant, grew up to be one of the largest printing-offices in the world.  It had twenty-five steam presses, twenty-eight hand-presses, six hydraulic presses, and gave direct employment to over five hundred persons, and indirect employment to probably more than ten times that number.  Besides the works connected with his printing-office, Mr. Clowes found it necessary to cast his own types, to enable him to command on emergency any quantity; and to this he afterwards added stereotyping on an immense scale.  He possessed the power of supplying his compositors with a stream of new type at the rate of about 50,000 pieces a day.  In this way, the weight of type in ordinary use became very great; it amounted to not less than 500 tons, and the stereotyped plates to about 2,500 tons—the value of the latter being not less than half a million sterling.

    Mr. Clowes would not hesitate, in the height of his career, to have tons of type locked up for months in some ponderous blue-book.  To print a report of a hundred folio pages in the course of a day or during a night, or of a thousand pages in a week, was no uncommon occurrence.  From his gigantic establishment were turned out not fewer than 725,000 printed sheets, or equal to 30,000 volumes a week.  Nearly 45,000 pounds of paper were printed weekly.  The quantity printed on both sides per week, if laid down in a path of 22¼ inches broad, would extend 263 miles in length.

    About the year 1840, a Polish inventor brought out a composing machine, and submitted it to Mr. Clowes for approval.  But Mr. Clowes was getting too old to take up and push any new invention.  He was also averse to doing anything to injure the compositors, having once been a member of the craft.  At the same time he said to his son George, "If you find this to be a likely machine, let me know.  Of course we must go with the age.  If I had not started the steam press when I did, where should I have been now?"  On the whole, the composing machine, though ingenious, was incomplete, and did not come into use at that time, nor indeed for a long time after.  Still, the idea had been born, and, like other inventions, became eventually developed into a useful working machine.  Composing machines are now in use in many printing-offices, and the present Clowes' firm possesses several of them.  Those in The Times newspaper office are perhaps the most perfect of all.

    Mr. Clowes was necessarily a man of great ability, industry, and energy.  Whatever could be done in printing, that he would do.  He would never admit the force of any difficulty that might be suggested to his plans.  When he found a person ready to offer objections, he would say, "Ah! I see you are a difficulty-maker: you will never do for me."

    Mr. Clowes died in 1847, at the age of sixty-eight.  There still remain a few who can recall to mind the giant figure, the kindly countenance, and the gentle bearing of this "Prince of Printers," as he was styled by the members of his craft.  His life was full of hard and useful work; and it will probably be admitted that, as the greatest multiplier of books in his day, and as one of the most effective practical labourers for the diffusion of useful knowledge, his name is entitled to be permanently associated, not only with the industrial, but also with the intellectual development of our time.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER IX.

CHARLES BIANCONI (1786-1875):
an Italian, famous for his transport innovations
in Ireland
Picture: Internet Text Archive
____________________


CHARLES BIANCONI:

A LESSON OF SELF-HELP IN IRELAND.


"I beg you to occupy yourself in collecting biographical notices respecting the Italians who have honestly enriched themselves in other regions, particularly referring to the obstacles of their previous life, and to the efforts and the means which they employed for vanquishing them, as well as to the advantages which they secured for themselves, for the countries in which they settled, and for the country to which they owed their birth.''—GENERAL MENABREA, Circular to Italian Consuls.


WHEN Count Menabrea was Prime Minister of Italy, he caused a despatch to be prepared and issued to Italian Consuls in all parts of the world, inviting them to collect and forward to him "biographical notices respecting the Italians who have honourably advanced themselves in foreign countries."

    His object, in issuing the despatch, was to collect information as to the lives of his compatriots living abroad, in order to bring out a book similar to 'Self-Help,' the examples cited in which were to be drawn exclusively from the lives of Italian citizens.  Such a work, he intimated, "if it were once circulated among the masses, could not fail to excite their emulation and encourage them to follow the examples therein set forth," while "in the course of time it might exercise a powerful influence on the increased greatness of our country."

    We are informed by Count Menabrea that, although no special work has been published from the biographical notices collected in answer to his despatch, yet that the Volere è Potere ('Will is Power') of Professor Lessona, issued a few years ago, sufficiently answers the purpose which he contemplated, and furnishes many examples of the patient industry and untiring perseverance of Italians in all parts of the world.  Many important illustrations of life and character are necessarily omitted from Professor Lessona's interesting work.  Among these may be mentioned the subject of the following pages,—a distinguished Italian who entirely corresponds to Count Menabrea's description—one who, in the face of the greatest difficulties, raised himself to an eminent public position, at the same time that he conferred the greatest benefits upon the country in which he settled and carried on his industrial operations.  We mean Charles Bianconi, and his establishment of the great system of car communication throughout Ireland. [p.221]

    Charles Bianconi was born in 1786, at the village of Tregolo, situated in the Lombard Highlands of La Brianza, about ten miles from Como.  The last elevations of the Alps disappear in the district; and the great plain of Lombardy extends towards the south.  The region is known for its richness and beauty; the inhabitants being celebrated for the cultivation of the mulberry and the rearing of the silkworm, the finest silk in Lombardy being produced in the neighbourhood.  Indeed, Bianconi's family, like most of the villagers, maintained themselves by the silk culture.

    Charles had three brothers and one sister.  When of a sufficient age, he was sent to school.  The Abbé Radicali had turned out some good scholars; but with Charles Bianconi his failure was complete.  The new pupil proved a tremendous dunce.  He was very wild, very bold, and very plucky; but he learned next to nothing.  Learning took as little effect upon him as pouring water upon a duck's back.  Accordingly, when he left school at the age of sixteen, he was almost as ignorant as when he had entered it; and a great deal more wilful.

    Young Bianconi had now arrived at the age at which he was expected to do something for his own maintenance.  His father wished to throw him upon his own resources; and as he would soon be subject to the conscription, he thought of sending him to some foreign country in order to avoid the forced service.  Young fellows, who had any love of labour or promptings of independence in them, were then accustomed to leave home and carry on their occupations abroad.  It was a common practice for workmen in the neighbourhood of Como to emigrate to England and carry on various trades; more particularly the manufacture and sale of barometers, looking-glasses, images, prints, pictures, and other articles.

    Accordingly, Bianconi's father arranged with one Andrea Faroni to take the young man to England, and instruct him in the trade of print-selling.  Bianconi was to be Faroni's apprentice for eighteen months; and in the event of his not liking the occupation, he was to be placed under the care of Colnaghi, a friend of his father's, who was then making considerable progress as a print-seller in London; and who afterwards succeeded in achieving a considerable fortune and reputation.

    Bianconi made his preparations for leaving home.  A little festive entertainment was given at a little inn in Como, at which the whole family were present.  It was a sad thing for Bianconi's mother to take leave of her boy, wild though he was.  On the occasion of this parting ceremony, she fainted outright, at which the young fellow thought that things were assuming a rather serious aspect.  As he finally left the family home at Tregolo, the last words his mother said to him were these—words which he never forgot: "When you remember me, think of me as waiting at this window, watching for your return."

    Besides Charles Bianconi, Faroni took three other boys under his charge.  One was the son of a small village innkeeper, another the son of a tailor, and the third the son of a flax-dealer.  This party, under charge of the Padre, ascended the Alps by the Val San Giacomo road.  From the summit of the pass they saw the plains of Lombardy stretching) away in the blue distance.  They soon crossed the Swiss frontier, and then Bianconi found himself finally separated from home.  He now felt, that without further help from friends or relatives, he had his own way to make in the world.

    The party of travellers duly reached England; but Faroni, without stopping in London, took them over to Ireland at once.  They reached Dublin in the summer of 1802, and lodged in Temple Bar, near Essex Bridge.  It was some little time before Faroni could send out the boys to sell pictures.  First he had the leaden frames to cast; then they had to be trimmed and coloured; and then the pictures—mostly of sacred subjects, or of public characters—had to be mounted.  The flowers, which were of wax, had also to be prepared and finished, ready for sale to the passers-by.

    When Bianconi went into the streets of Dublin to sell his mounted prints, he could not speak a word of English.  He could only say, "Buy, buy!"  Everybody spoke to him an unknown tongue.  When asked the price, he could only indicate by his fingers the number of pence he wanted for his goods.  At length he learned a little English,—at least sufficient "for the road;" and then he was sent into the country to sell his merchandize.  He was despatched every Monday morning with about forty shillings' worth of stock, and ordered to return home on Saturdays, or as much sooner as he liked, if he had sold all the pictures.  The only money his master allowed him at starting was four-pence.  When Bianconi remonstrated at the smallness of the amount, Faroni answered, "While you have goods you have money; make haste to sell your goods!"

    During his apprenticeship, Bianconi learnt much of the country through which he travelled.  He was constantly making acquaintances with new people, and visiting new places.  At Waterford he did a good trade in small prints.  Besides the Scripture pieces, he sold portraits of the Royal Family, as well as of Bonaparte and his most distinguished generals.  "Bony" was the dread of all magistrates, especially in Ireland.  At Passage, near Waterford, Bianconi was arrested for having sold a leaden framed picture of the famous French Emperor.  He was thrown into a cold guard-room, and spent the night there without bed, or fire, or food.  Next morning he was discharged by the magistrate, but cautioned that he must not sell any more of such pictures.

    Many things struck Bianconi in making his first journeys through Ireland.  He was astonished at the dram-drinking of the men, and the pipe-smoking of the women.  The violent faction-fights which took place at the fairs which he frequented, were of a kind which he had never before observed among the pacific people of North Italy.  These faction-fights were the result, partly of dram-drinking, and partly of the fighting mania which then prevailed in Ireland.  There were also numbers of crippled and deformed beggars in every town,—quarrelling and fighting in the streets,—rows and drinkings at wakes,—gambling, duelling, and riotous living amongst all classes of the people,—things which could not but strike any ordinary observer at the time, but which have now, for the most part, happily passed away.

    At the end of eighteen months, Bianconi's apprenticeship was out; and Faroni then offered to take him back to his father, in compliance with the original understanding.  But Bianconi had no wish to return to Italy.  Faroni then made over to him the money he had retained on his account, and Bianconi set up business for himself.  He was now about eighteen years old; he was strong and healthy, and able to walk with a heavy load on his back from twenty to thirty miles a day.  He bought a large case, filled it with coloured prints and other articles, and started from Dublin on a tour through the south of Ireland.  He succeeded, like most persons who labour diligently.  The curly-haired Italian lad became a general favourite.  He took his native politeness with him everywhere; and made many friends among his various customers throughout the country.

    Bianconi used to say that it was about this time—when he was carrying his heavy case upon his back, weighing at least a hundred pounds—that the idea began to strike him, of some cheap method of conveyance being established for the accommodation of the poorer classes in Ireland.  As he dismantled himself of his case of pictures, and sat wearied and resting on the milestones along the road, he puzzled his mind with the thought, "Why should poor people walk and toil, and rich people ride and take their ease?  Could not some method be devised by which poor people also might have the opportunity of travelling comfortably?"

    It will thus be seen that Bianconi was already beginning to think about the matter.  When asked, not long before his death, how it was that he had first thought of starting his extensive Car establishment, he answered, "It grew out of my back!"  It was the hundredweight of pictures on his dorsal muscles that stimulated his thinking faculties.  But the time for starting his great experiment had not yet arrived.

    Bianconi wandered about from town to town for nearly two years.  The picture-case became heavier than ever.  For a time he replaced it with a portfolio of unframed prints.  Then he became tired of the wandering life, and in 1806 settled down at Carrick-on-Suir as a print-seller and carver and gilder.  He supplied himself with gold-leaf from Waterford, to which town he used to proceed by Tom Morrissey's boat.  Although the distance by road between the towns was only twelve miles, it was about twenty-four by water, in consequence of the windings of the river Suir.  Besides, the boat could only go when the state of the tide permitted.  Time was of little consequence; and it often took half a day to make the journey.  In the course of one of his voyages, Bianconi got himself so thoroughly soaked by rain and mud that he caught a severe cold, which ran into pleurisy, and laid him up for about two months.  He was carefully attended to by a good, kind physician, Dr. White, who would not take a penny for his medicine and nursing.

    Business did not prove very prosperous at Carrick-on-Suir; the town was small, and the trade was not very brisk.  Accordingly, Bianconi resolved, after a year's ineffectual trial, to remove to Waterford, a more thriving centre of operations.  He was now twenty-one years old.  He began again as a carver and gilder; and as business flowed in upon him, he worked very hard, sometimes from six in the morning until two hours after midnight.  As usual, he made many friends.  Among the best of them was Edward Rice, the founder of the "Christian Brothers" in Ireland.  Edward Rice was a true benefactor to his country.  He devoted himself to the work of education, long before the National Schools were established; investing the whole of his means in the foundation and management of this noble institution.

    Mr. Rice's advice and instruction set and kept Bianconi in the right road.  He helped the young foreigner to learn English.  Bianconi was no longer a dunce, as he had been at school; but a keen, active, enterprising fellow, eager to make his way in the world.  Mr. Rice encouraged him to be sedulous and industrious, urged him to carefulness and sobriety, and strengthened his religious impressions.  The help and friendship of this good man, operating upon the mind and soul of a young man, whose habits of conduct and whose moral and religious character were only in course of formation, could not fail to exercise, as Bianconi always acknowledged they did, a most powerful influence upon the whole of his after life.

    Although "three removes" are said to be "as bad as a fire," Bianconi, after remaining about two years at Waterford, made a third removal in 1809, to Clonmel, in the county of Tipperary.  Clonmel is the centre of a large corn trade, and is in water communication, by the Suir, with Carrick and Waterford.  Bianconi, therefore, merely extended his connection; and still continued his dealings with his customers in the other towns.  He made himself more proficient in the mechanical part of his business; and aimed at being the first carver and gilder in the trade.  Besides, he had always an eye open for new business.  At that time, when the war was raging with France, gold was at a premium.  The guinea was worth about twenty-six or twenty-seven shillings.  Bianconi therefore began to buy up the hoarded-up guineas of the peasantry.  The loyalists became alarmed at his proceedings, and began to circulate the report that Bianconi, the foreigner, was buying up bullion to send secretly to Bonaparte!  The country people, however, parted with their guineas readily; for they had no particular hatred of "Bony," but rather admired him.

    Bianconi's conduct was of course quite loyal in the matter; he merely bought the guineas as a matter of business, and sold them at a profit to the bankers.

    The country people had a difficulty in pronouncing his name.  His shop was at the corner of Johnson Street, and instead of Bianconi, he came to be called "Bian of the Corner."  He was afterwards known as "Bian."

    Bianconi soon became well known after his business was established.  He became a proficient in the carving and gilding line, and was looked upon as a thriving man.  He began to employ assistants in his trade, and had three German gilders at work.  While they were working in the shop he would travel about the country, taking orders and delivering goods—sometimes walking and sometimes driving.

    He still retained a little of his old friskiness and spirit of mischief.  He was once driving a car from Clonmel to Thurles; he had with him a large looking-glass with a gilt frame, on which about a fortnight's labour had been bestowed.  In a fit of exuberant humour he began to tickle the horse under his tail with a straw!  In an instant the animal reared and plunged, and then set off at a gallop down hill.  The result was, that the car was dashed to bits and the looking-glass broken into a thousand atoms!

    On another occasion, a man was carrying to Cashel on his back one of Bianconi's large looking-glasses.  An old woman by the wayside, seeing the odd-looking, unwieldy package, asked what it was; on which Bianconi, who was close behind the man carrying the glass, answered that it was "the Repeal of the Union!"  The old woman's delight was unbounded!  She knelt down on her knees in the middle of the road, as if it had been a picture of the Madonna, and thanked God for having preserved her in her old age to see the Repeal of the Union!

    But this little waywardness did not last long.  Bianconi's wild oats were soon all sown.  He was careful and frugal.  As he afterwards used to say, "When I was earning a shilling a day at Clonmel, I lived upon eight-pence."  He even took lodgers, to relieve him of the charge of his household expenses.  But as his means grew, he was soon able to have a conveyance of his own.  He first started a yellow gig, in which he drove about from place to place, and was everywhere treated with kindness and hospitality.  He was now regarded as "respectable," and as a person worthy to hold some local office.  He was elected to a Society for Visiting the Sick Poor, and became a Member of the House of Industry.  He might have gone on in the same business, winning his way to the Mayoralty of Clonmel, which he afterwards held; but that the old idea, which had first sprung up in his mind while resting wearily on the milestones along the road, with his heavy case of pictures by his side, again laid hold of him, and he determined now to try whether his plan could not be carried into effect.

    He had often lamented the fatigue that poor people had to undergo in travelling with burdens from place to place upon foot, and wondered whether some means might not be devised for alleviating their sufferings.  Other people would have suggested "the Government!"  Why should not the Government give us this, that, and the other,—give us roads, harbours, carriages, boats, nets, and so on.  This, of course, would have been a mistaken idea; for where people are too much helped, they invariably lose the beneficent practice of helping themselves.  Charles Bianconi had never been helped, except by advice and friendship.  He had helped himself throughout; and now he would try to help others.

    The facts were patent to everybody.  There was not an Irishman who did not know the difficulty of getting from one town to another.  There were roads between them, but no conveyances.  There was an abundance of horses in the country, for at the close of the war an unusual number of horses, bred for the army, were thrown upon the market.  Then a tax had been levied upon carriages, which sent a large number of jaunting-cars out of employment.

    The roads of Ireland were on the whole good, being at that time quite equal, if not superior, to most of those in England.  The facts of the abundant horses, the good roads, the number of unemployed outside cars, were generally known; but until Bianconi took the enterprise in hand, there was no person of thought, or spirit, or capital in the country, who put these three things together—horses, roads, and cars—and dreamt of remedying the great public inconvenience.

    It was left for our young Italian carver and gilder, a struggling man of small capital, to take up the enterprise, and show what could be done by prudent action and persevering energy.  Though the car system originally "grew out of his back," Bianconi had long been turning the subject over in his mind.  His idea was, that we should never despise small interests, nor neglect the wants of poor people.  He saw the mail-coaches supplying the requirements of the rich, and enabling them to travel rapidly from place to place.  "Then," said he to himself, "would it not be possible for me to make an ordinary two-wheeled car pay, by running as regularly for the accommodation of poor districts and poor people?"

    When Mr. Wallace, chairman of the Select Committee on Postage, in 1838, asked Mr. Bianconi, "What induced you to commence the car establishment?" his answer was, "I did so from what I saw, after coming to this country, of the necessity for such cars, inasmuch as there was no middle mode of conveyance, nothing to fill up the vacuum that existed between those who were obliged to walk and those who posted or rode.  My want of knowledge of the language gave me plenty of time for deliberation, and in proportion as I grew up with the knowledge of the language and the localities, this vacuum pressed very heavily upon my mind, till at last I hit upon the idea of running jaunting-cars, and for that purpose I commenced running one between Clonmel and Cahir." [p.231]

 

A Bianconi car
Picture: Internet Text Archive


    What a happy thing it was for Bianconi and Ireland that he could not speak with facility,—that he did not know the language or the manners of the country!  In his case silence was "golden."  Had he been able to talk like the people about him, he might have said much and done little,—attempted nothing and consequently achieved nothing.  He might have got up a meeting and petitioned Parliament to provide the cars, and subvention the car system; or he might have gone amongst his personal friends, asked them to help him, and failing their help, given up his idea in despair, and sat down grumbling at the people and the Government.

    But instead of talking, he proceeded to doing, thereby illustrating Lessona's maxim of Volere è potere.  After thinking the subject fully over, he trusted to self-help.  He found that with his own means, carefully saved, he could make a beginning; and the beginning once made, included the successful ending.

    The beginning, it is true, was very small.  It was only an ordinary jaunting-car, drawn by a single horse, capable of accommodating six persons.  The first car ran between Clonmel and Cahir, a distance of about twelve miles, on the 5th of July, 1815—a memorable day for Bianconi and Ireland.  Up to that time the public accommodation for passengers was confined to a few mail and day coaches on the great lines of road, the fares by which were very high, and quite beyond the reach of the poorer or middle-class people.

 

Bianconi—6-person car
Picture: The Internet Text Archive.


    People did not know what to make of Bianconi's car when it first started.  There were, of course, the usual prophets of disaster, who decided that it "would never do."  Many thought that no one would pay eighteen-pence for going to Cahir by car when they could walk there for nothing?  There were others who thought that Bianconi should have stuck to his shop, as there was no connection whatever between picture-gilding and car-driving!

    The truth is, the enterprise at first threatened to be a failure!  Scarcely anybody would go by the car.  People preferred trudging on foot, and saved their money, which was more valuable to them than their time.  The car sometimes ran for weeks without a passenger.  Another man would have given up the enterprise in despair.  But this was not the way with Bianconi.  He was a man of tenacity and perseverance.  What should he do but start an opposition car?  Nobody knew of it but himself; not even the driver of the opposition car.  However, the rival car was started.  The races between the car-drivers, the free lifts occasionally given to passengers, the cheapness of the fare, and the excitement of the contest, attracted the attention of the public.  The people took sides, and before long both cars came in full.  Fortunately the "great big yallah horse" of the opposition car broke down, and Bianconi had all the trade to himself.

    The people became accustomed to travelling.  They might still walk to Cahir; but going by car saved their legs, saved their brains, and saved their time.  They might go to Cahir market, do their business there, and be comfortably back within the day.  Bianconi then thought of extending the car to Tipperary and Limerick.  In the course of the same year, 1815, he started another car between Clonmel, Cashel, and Thurles.  Thus all the principal towns of Tipperary were, in the first year of the undertaking, connected together by car, besides being also connected with Limerick.

    It was easy to understand the convenience of the car system to business men, farmers, and even peasants.  Before their establishment, it took a man a whole day to walk from Thurles to Clonmel, the second day to do his business, and the third to walk back again; whereas he could, in one day, travel backwards and forwards between the two towns, and have five or six intermediate hours for the purpose of doing his business.  Thus two clear days could be saved.

    Still carrying out his scheme, Bianconi, in the following year (1816), put on a car from Clonmel to Waterford.  Before that time there was no car accommodation between Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir, about half-way to Waterford; but there was an accommodation by boat between Carrick and Waterford.  The distance between the two latter places was, by road, twelve miles, and by the river Suir twenty-four miles.  Tom Morrissey's boat plied two days a week; it carried from eight to ten passengers at 6½d. of the then currency; it did the voyage in from four to five hours, and besides had to wait for the tide to float it up and down the river.  When Bianconi's car was put on, it did the distance daily and regularly in two hours, at a fare of two shillings.

    The people soon got accustomed to the convenience of the cars.  They also learned from them the uses of punctuality and the value of time.  They liked the open-air travelling and the sidelong motion.  The new cars were also safe and well-appointed.  They were drawn by good horses and driven by good coachmen.  Jaunting-car travelling had before been rather unsafe.  The country cars were of a ramshackle order, and the drivers were often reckless.  "Will I pay the pike, or drive at it, plaise your honour?" said a driver to his passenger on approaching a turnpike-gate.  Sam Lover used to tell a story of a car-driver, who, after driving his passenger up-hill and down-hill, along a very bad road, asked him for something extra at the end of his journey.  "Faith," said the driver, "its not putting me off with this ye'd be, if ye knew but all."  The gentleman gave him another shilling.  "And now what do you mean by saying, 'if ye knew but all?'"  "That I druv yer honor the last three miles widout a linch-pin!"

    Bianconi, to make sure of the soundness and safety of his cars, set up a workshop to build them for himself.  He could thus depend upon their soundness, down even to the linch-pin itself.  He kept on his carving and gilding shop until his car business had increased so much that it required the whole of his time and attention; and then he gave it up.  In fact, when he was able to run a car from Clonmel to Waterford—a distance of thirty-two miles—at a fare of three-and-sixpence, his eventual triumph was secure.

    He made Waterford one of the centres of his operations, as he had already made Clonmel.  In 1818 he established a car between Waterford and Ross, in the following year a car between Waterford and Wexford, and another between Waterford and Enniscorthy.  A few years later he established other cars between Waterford and Kilkenny, and Waterford and Dungarvan.  From these furthest points, again, other cars were established in communication with them, carrying the line further north, east, and west.  So much had the travelling between Clonmel and Waterford increased, that in a few years (instead of the eight or ten passengers conveyed by Tom Morrissey's boat on the Suir) there was horse and car power capable of conveying a hundred passengers daily between the two places.

    Bianconi did a great stroke of business at the Waterford election of 1826.  Indeed it was the turning point of his fortunes.  He was at first greatly cramped for capital.  The expense of maintaining and increasing his stock of cars, and of foddering his horses was very great; and he was always on the look-out for more capital.  When the Waterford election took place, the Beresford party, then all-powerful, engaged all his cars to drive the electors to the poll.  The popular party, however, started a candidate, and applied to Bianconi for help.  But he could not comply, for his cars were all engaged.  The morning after his refusal of the application, Bianconi was pelted with mud.  One or two of his cars and horses were heaved over the bridge.

    Bianconi then wrote to Beresford's agent, stating that he could no longer risk the lives of his drivers and his horses, and desiring to be released from his engagement.  The Beresford party had no desire to endanger the lives of the car-drivers or their horses, and they set Bianconi free.  He then engaged with the popular party, and enabled them to win the election.  For this he was paid the sum of a thousand pounds.  This access of capital was greatly helpful to him under the circumstances.  He was able to command the market, both for horses and fodder.  He was also placed in a position to extend the area of his car routes.

    He now found time, amidst his numerous avocations, to get married!  He was forty years of age before this event occurred.  He married Eliza Hayes, some twenty years younger than himself, the daughter of Patrick Hayes, of Dublin, and of Henrietta Burton, an Englishwoman.  The marriage was celebrated on the 14th of February, 1827; and the ceremony was performed by the late Archbishop Murray.  Mr. Bianconi must now have been in good circumstances, as he settled two thousand pounds upon his wife on their marriage-day.  His early married life was divided between his cars, electioneering, and Repeal agitation—for he was always a great ally of O'Connell.  Though he joined in the Repeal movement, his sympathies were not with it; for he preferred Imperial to Home Rule.  But he could never deny himself the pleasure of following O'Connell, "right or wrong."

    Let us give a picture of Bianconi now.  The curly-haired Italian boy had grown a handsome man.  His black locks curled all over his head, like those of an ancient Roman bust.  His face was full of power, his chin was firm, his nose was finely cut and well-formed; his eyes were keen and sparkling, as if throwing out a challenge to fortune.  He was active, energetic, healthy, and strong, spending his time mostly in the open air.  He had a wonderful recollection of faces, and rarely forgot to recognise the countenance that he had once seen.  He even knew all his horses by name.  He spent little of his time at home, but was constantly rushing about the country after business, extending his connections, organizing his staff, and arranging the centres of his traffic.

    To return to the car arrangements.  A line was early opened from Clonmel—which was at first the centre of the entire connection—to Cork; and that line was extended northward, through Mallow and Limerick.  Then, the Limerick car went on to Tralee, and from thence to Cahirciveen, on the south-west coast of Ireland.  The cars were also extended northward from Thurles to Roscrea, Ballinasloe, Athlone, Roscommon, and Sligo, and to all the principal towns in the north-west counties of Ireland.

    The cars interlaced with each other, and plied, not so much in continuous main lines, as across country, so as to bring all important towns, but especially the market towns, into regular daily communication with each other.  Thus, in the course of about thirty years, Bianconi succeeded in establishing a system of internal communication in Ireland, which traversed the main highways and cross-roads from town to town, and gave the public a regular and safe car accommodation at the average rate of a penny-farthing per mile.

    The traffic in all directions steadily increased.  The first car used was capable of accommodating only six persons.  This was between Clonmel and Cahir.  But when it went on to Limerick, a larger car was required.  The traffic between Clonmel and Waterford was also begun with a small-sized car.  But in the course of a few years, there were four large-sized cars, travelling daily each way, between the two places.  And so it was in other directions, between Cork in the south; and Sligo and Strabane in the north and north-west; between Wexford in the east, and Galway and Skibbereen in the west and south-west.

 

Bianconi—10-person car
Picture: The Internet Text Archive


    Bianconi first increased the accommodation of these cars so as to carry four persons on each side instead of three, drawn by two horses.  But as the two horses could quite as easily carry two additional passengers, another piece was added to the car so as to carry five passengers.  Then another four-wheeled car was built, drawn by three horses, so as to carry six passengers on each side.  And lastly, a fourth horse was used, and the car was further enlarged, so as to accommodate seven, and eventually eight passengers on each side, with one on the box, which made a total accommodation for seventeen passengers.  The largest and heaviest of the long cars, on four wheels, was called "Finn MacCoul's," after Ossian's Giant; the fast cars, of a light build, on two wheels, were called "Faugh-a-ballagh," or "clear the way"; while the intermediate cars were named "Massey Dawsons," after a popular Tory squire.

 

A "Finn MacCoul"
Picture: The Internet Text Archive


    When Bianconi's system was complete, he had about a hundred vehicles at work; a hundred and forty stations for changing horses, where from one to eight grooms were employed; about a hundred drivers, thirteen hundred horses, performing an average distance of three thousand eight hundred miles daily; passing through twenty-three counties, and visiting no fewer than a hundred and twenty of the principal towns and cities in the south and west and midland counties of Ireland.  Bianconi's horses consumed on an average from three to four thousand tons of hay yearly, and from thirty to forty thousand barrels of oats, all of which were purchased in the respective localities in which they were grown.

    Bianconi's cars—or "The Bians"—soon became very popular.  Everybody was under obligations to them.  They greatly promoted the improvement of the country.  People could go to market and buy or sell their goods more advantageously.  It was cheaper for them to ride than to walk.  They brought the whole people of the country so much nearer to each other.  They virtually opened up about seven-tenths of Ireland to civilisation and commerce, and among their other advantages, they opened markets for the fresh fish caught by the fishermen of Galway, Clifden, Westport, and other places, enabling them to be sold throughout the country on the day after they were caught.  They also opened the magnificent scenery of Ireland to tourists, and enabled them to visit Bantry Bay, Killarney, South Donegal, and the wilds of Connemara in safety, all the year round.

    Bianconi's service to the public was so great, and it was done with so much tact, that nobody had a word to say against him.  Everybody was his friend.  Not even the Whiteboys [p.239] would injure him or the mails he carried.  He could say with pride, that in the most disturbed times his cars had never been molested.  Even during the Whiteboy insurrection, though hundreds of people were on the roads at night, the traffic went on without interference.  At the meeting of the British Association in 1857, Bianconi said: "My conveyances, many of them carrying very important mails, have been travelling during all hours of the day and night, often in lonely and unfrequented places; and during the long period of forty-two years that my establishment has been in existence, the slightest injury has never been done by the people to my property, or that entrusted to my care; and this fact gives me greater pleasure than any pride I might feel in reflecting upon the other rewards of my life's labour."

    Of course Bianconi's cars were found of great use for carrying the mails.  The post was, at the beginning of his enterprise, very badly served in Ireland, chiefly by foot and horse posts.  When the first car was run from Clonmel to Cahir, Bianconi offered to carry the mail for half the price then paid for "sending it alternately by a mule and a bad horse."  The post was afterwards found to come regularly instead of irregularly to Cahir; and the practice of sending the mails by Bianconi's cars increased from year to year.  Dispatch won its way to popularity in Ireland as elsewhere, and Bianconi lived to see all the cross-posts in Ireland arranged on his system.

    The postage authorities frequently used the cars of Bianconi as a means of competing with the few existing mail-coaches.  For instance, they asked him to compete for carrying the post between Limerick and Tralee, then carried by a mail-coach.  Before tendering, Bianconi called on the contractor, to induce him to give in to the requirements of the Post Office, because he knew that the postal authorities only desired to make use of him to fight the coach proprietors.  But having been informed that it was the intention of the Post Office to discontinue the mail-coach whether Bianconi took the contract or not, he at length sent in his tender, and obtained the contract.

    He succeeded in performing the service, and delivered the mail much earlier than it had been done before.  But the former contractor, finding that he had made a mistake, got up a movement in favour of re-establishing the mail-coach upon that line of road; and he eventually induced the postage authorities to take the mail contract out of the hands of Bianconi, and give it back to himself, as formerly.  Bianconi, however, continued to keep his cars upon the road.  He had before stated to the contractor, that if he once started his cars, he would not leave it, even though the contract were taken from him.  Both coach and car therefore ran for years upon the road, each losing thousands of pounds.  "But," said Bianconi, when asked about the matter by the Committee on Postage in 1838, "I kept my word: I must either lose character by breaking my word, or lose money.  I prefer losing money to giving up the line of road."

    Bianconi had also other competitors to contend with, especially from coach and car proprietors.  No sooner had he shown to others the way to fortune, than he had plenty of imitators.  But they did not possess his rare genius for organisation, nor perhaps his still rarer principles.  They had not his tact, his foresight, his knowledge, nor his perseverance.  When Bianconi was asked by the Select Committee on Postage, "Do the opposition cars started against you induce you to reduce your fares?" his answer was, "No; I seldom do.  Our fares are so close to the first cost, that if any man runs cheaper than I do, he must starve off, as few can serve the public lower and better than I do." [p.242-1]

    Bianconi was once present at a meeting of car proprietors, called for the purpose of uniting to put down a new opposition coach.  Bianconi would not concur, but protested against it, saying, "If car proprietors had united against me when I started, I should have been crushed.  But is not the country big enough for us all?"  The coach proprietors, after many angry words, threatened to unite in running down Bianconi himself.  "Very well," he said, "you may run me off the road—that is possible; but while there is this" (pulling a flower out of his coat) "you will not put me down."  The threat merely ended in smoke, the courage and perseverance of Bianconi having long since become generally recognised.

    We have spoken of the principles of Mr. Bianconi.  They were most honourable.  His establishment might be spoken of as a school of morality.  In the first place, he practically taught and enforced the virtues of punctuality, truthfulness, sobriety, and honesty.  He also taught the public generally the value of time, to which, in fact, his own success was in a great measure due.  While passing through Clonmel in 1840, Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall [p.242-2] called upon Bianconi and went over his establishment, as well as over his house and farm, a short distance from the town.  The travellers had a very pressing engagement, and could not stay to hear the story of how their entertainer had contrived to "make so much out of so little."  "How much time have you?" he asked.  "Just five minutes."  "The car," says Mr. Hall, "had conveyed us to the back entrance.  Bianconi instantly rang the bell, and said to the servant, 'Tell the driver to bring the car round to the front,' adding, 'that will save one minute, and enable me to tell you all within the time.'  This was, in truth the secret of his success, making the most of time." [p.243-1]

    But the success of Bianconi was also due to the admirable principles on which his establishment was conducted.  His drivers were noted as being among the most civil and obliging men in Ireland, besides being pleasant companions to boot.  They were careful, punctual, truthful, and honest; but all this was the result of strict discipline on the part of their master.

    The drivers were taken from the lowest grades of the establishment, and promoted to higher positions according to their respective merits as opportunity offered.  "Much surprise," says Bianconi, "has often been expressed at the high order of men connected with my car establishment and at its popularity; but parties thus expressing themselves forget to look at Irish society with sufficient grasp.  For my part, I cannot better compare it than to a man merging to convalescence from a serious attack of malignant fever, and requiring generous nutrition in place of medical treatment." [p.243-2]

    To attach the men to the system, as well as to confer upon them the due reward for their labour, he provided for all the workmen who had been injured, worn out, or become superannuated in his service.  The drivers could then retire upon a full pension, which they enjoyed during the rest of their lives.  They were also paid their full wages during sickness, and at their death Bianconi educated their children, who grew up to manhood, and afterwards filled the situations held by their deceased parents.

    Every workman had thus a special interest in his own good conduct.  They knew that nothing but misbehaviour could deprive them of the benefits they enjoyed; and hence their endeavours to maintain their positions by observing the strict discipline enjoined by their employer.

    Sobriety was, of course, indispensable —a drunken car-driver being amongst the most dangerous of servants.  The drivers must also be truthful, and the man found telling a lie, however venial, was instantly dismissed.  Honesty was also strongly enforced, not only for the sake of the public, but for the sake of the men themselves.  Hence he never allowed his men to carry letters.  If they did so, he fined them in the first instance very severely, and in the second instance dismissed them.  "I do so," he said, "because if I do not respect other institutions (the Post Office), my men will soon learn not to respect my own.  Then, for carrying letters during the extent of their trip, the men most probably would not get money, but drink, and hence become dissipated and unworthy of confidence."

    Thus truth, accuracy, punctuality, sobriety, and honesty being strictly enforced, formed the fundamental principle of the entire management.  At the same time, Bianconi treated his drivers with every confidence and respect.  He made them feel that, in doing their work well, they conferred a greater benefit on him and on the public than he did on them by paying them their wages.

    When attending the British Association at Cork, Bianconi said that, "in proportion as he advanced his drivers, he lowered their wages."  "Then," said Dr. Taylor, the Secretary, "I wouldn't like to serve you."  "Yes, you would," replied Bianconi, "because in promoting my drivers I place them on a more lucrative line, where their certainty of receiving fees from passengers is greater."

    Bianconi was as merciful to his horses as to his men.  He had much greater difficulty at first in finding good men than good horses, because the latter were not exposed to the temptations to which the former were subject.  Although the price of horses continued to rise, he nevertheless bought the best horses at increased prices, and he took care not to work them overmuch.  He gave his horses as well as his men their seventh day's rest.  "I find by experience," he said, "that I can work a horse eight miles a day for six days in the week, easier than I can work six miles for seven days; and that is one of my reasons for having no cars, unless carrying a mail, plying upon Sundays."

    Bianconi had confidence in men generally.  The result was that men had confidence in him.  Even the Whiteboys respected him.  At the close of a long and useful life be could say with truth, "I never yet attempted to do an act of generosity or common justice, publicly or privately, that I was not met by manifold reciprocity."

    By bringing the various classes of society into connection with each other, Bianconi believed, and doubtless with truth, that he was the means of making them respect each other, and that he thereby promoted the civilisation of Ireland.  At the meeting of the Social Science Congress, [p.245] held at Dublin in 1861, he said: "The state of the roads was such as to limit the rate of travelling to about seven miles an hour, and the passengers were often obliged to walk up hills.  Thus all classes were brought together, and I have felt much pleasure in believing that the intercourse thus created tended to inspire the higher classes with respect and regard for the natural good qualities of the humbler people, which the latter reciprocated by a becoming deference and an anxiety to please and oblige.  Such a moral benefit appears to me to be worthy of special notice and congratulation."

    Even when railways were introduced, Bianconi did not resist them, but welcomed them as "the great civilisers of the age."  There was, in his opinion, room enough for all methods of conveyance in Ireland.  When Captain Thomas Drummond was appointed Under-Secretary for Ireland in 1835, and afterwards chairman of the Irish Railway Commission, he had often occasion to confer with Mr. Bianconi, who gave him every assistance.  Mr. Drummond conceived the greatest respect for Bianconi, and often asked him how it was that he, a foreigner, should have acquired so extensive an influence and so distinguished a position in Ireland?

    "The question came upon me," said Bianconi, "by surprise, and I did not at the time answer it.  But another day he repeated his question, and I replied, 'Well, it was because, while the big and the little were fighting, I crept up between them, carried out my enterprise, and obliged everybody.'"  This, however, did not satisfy Mr. Drummond, who asked Bianconi to write down for him an autobiography, containing the incidents of his early life down to the period of his great Irish enterprise.  Bianconi proceeded to do this, writing down his past history in the occasional intervals which he could snatch from the immense business which he still continued personally to superintend.  But before the "Drummond memoir" could be finished Mr. Drummond himself had ceased to live, having died in 1840, principally of overwork.  What he thought of Bianconi, however, has been preserved in his Report of the Irish Railway Commission of 1838, written by Mr. Drummond himself, in which he thus speaks of his enterprising friend in starting and conducting the great Irish car establishment:—


    "With a capital little exceeding the expense of outfit he commenced.  Fortune, or rather the due reward of industry and integrity, favoured his first efforts.  He soon began to increase the number of his cars and multiply routes, until his establishment spread over the whole of Ireland.  These results are the more striking and instructive as having been accomplished in a district which has long been represented as the focus of unreclaimed violence and barbarism, where neither life nor property can be deemed secure.  Whilst many possessing a personal interest in everything tending to improve or enrich the country have been so misled or inconsiderate as to repel by exaggerated statements British capital from their doors, this foreigner chose Tipperary as the centre of his operations, wherein to embark all the fruits of his industry in a traffic peculiarly exposed to the power and even to the caprice of the peasantry.  The event has shown that his confidence in their good sense was not ill-grounded.

    "By a system of steady and just treatment he has obtained a complete mastery, exempt from lawless intimidation or control, over the various servants and agents employed by him, and his establishment is popular with all classes on account of its general usefulness and the fair liberal spirit of its management.  The success achieved by this spirited gentleman is the result, not of a single speculation, which might have been favoured by local circumstances, but of a series of distinct experiments, all of which have been successful."


    When the railways were actually made and opened, they ran right through the centre of Bianconi's long-established systems of communication.  They broke up his lines, and sent them to the right and left.  But, though they greatly disturbed him, they did not destroy him.  In his enterprising hands the railways merely changed the direction of the cars. He had at first to take about a thousand horses off the road, with thirty-seven vehicles, travelling 2,446 miles daily.  But he remodelled his system so as to run his cars between the railway stations and the towns to the right and left of the main lines.

    He also directed his attention to those parts of Ireland which had not before had the benefit of his conveyances.  And in thus still continuing to accommodate the public, the number of his horses and carriages again increased, until, in 1861, he was employing 900 horses, travelling over 4,000 miles daily; and in 1866, when he resigned his business, he was running only 684 miles daily below the maximum run in 1845, before the railways had begun to interfere with his traffic.

    His cars were then running to Dungarvan, Waterford, and Wexford in the south-west of Ireland; to Bandon, Rosscarbery, Skibbereen, and Cahirciveen, in the south; to Tralee, Galway, Clifden, Westport, and Belmullet in the west; to Sligo, Enniskillen, Strabane, and Letterkenny in the north; while, in the centre of Ireland, the towns of Thurles, Kilkenny, Birr, and Ballinasloe were also daily served by the cars of Bianconi.

    At the meeting of the British Association, [p.248] held in Dublin in 1857, Mr. Bianconi mentioned a fact which he thought, illustrated the increasing prosperity of the country and the progress of the people. It was, that although the population had so considerably decreased by emigration and other causes, the proportion of travellers by his conveyances continued to increase, demonstrating not only that the people had more money, but that they appreciated the money value of time, and also the advantages of the car system established for their accommodation.

    Although railways must necessarily have done much to promote the prosperity of Ireland, it is very doubtful whether the general passenger public were not better served by the cars of Bianconi than by the railways which superseded them.  Bianconi's cars were on the whole cheaper, and were always run en correspondence, so as to meet each other; whereas many of the railway trains in the south of Ireland, under the competitive system existing between the several companies, are often run so as to miss each other.  The present working of the Irish railway traffic provokes perpetual irritation amongst the Irish people, and sufficiently accounts for the frequent petitions presented to Parliament that they should be taken in hand and worked by the State.

    Bianconi continued to superintend his great car establishment until within the last few years.  He had a constitution of iron, which he expended in active daily work.  He liked to have a dozen irons in the fire, all red-hot at once.  At the age of seventy he was still a man in his prime; and he might be seen at Clonmel helping, at busy times, to load the cars, unpacking and unstrapping the luggage where it seemed to be inconveniently placed; for he was a man who could never stand by and see others working without having a hand in it himself.  Even when well on to eighty, he still continued to grapple with the immense business involved in working a traffic extending over two thousand five hundred miles of road.

    Nor was Bianconi without honour in his adopted country.  He began his great enterprise in 1815, though it was not until 1831 that he obtained letters of naturalisation.  His application for these privileges was supported by the magistrates of Tipperary and by the Grand Jury, and they were at once granted.  In 1844 he was elected Mayor of Clonmel, and took his seat as Chairman at the Borough Petty Sessions to dispense justice.

    The first person brought before him was James Ryan, who had been drunk and torn a constable's belt: "Well, Ryan," said the magistrate, "what have you to say?"  "Nothing, your worship; only I wasn't drunk."  "Who tore the constable's belt?"  "He was bloated after his Christmas dinner, your worship, and the belt burst!"  "You are so very pleasant," said the magistrate, "that you will have to spend forty-eight hours in gaol."

    He was re-elected Mayor in the following year, very much against his wish.  He now began to buy land, for "land hunger" was strong upon him.  In 1846 he bought the estate of Longfield, in the parish of Boherlahan, county of Tipperary.  It consisted of about a thousand acres of good land, with a large cheerful house overlooking the river Suir.  He went on buying more land, until he became possessor of about eight thousand English acres.

    One of his favourite sayings was: "Money melts, but land holds while grass grows and water runs."  He was an excellent landlord, built comfortable houses for his tenantry, and did what he could for their improvement.  Without solicitation, the Government appointed him a justice of the peace and a Deputy-Lieutenant for the county of Tipperary.  Everything that he did seemed to thrive.  He was honest, straightforward, loyal, and law-abiding.

    On first taking possession of his estate at Longfield, he was met by a procession of the tenantry, who received him with great enthusiasm.  In his address to them, he said, amongst other things: "Allow me to impress upon you the great importance of respecting the laws.  The laws are made for the good and the benefit of society, and for the punishment of the wicked.  No one but an enemy would counsel you to outrage the laws.  Above all things, avoid secret and unlawful societies.  Much of the improvement now going on amongst us is owing to the temperate habits of the people, to the mission of my much respected friend, Father Mathew, and to the advice of the Liberator.  Follow the advice of O'Connell; be temperate, moral, peaceable; and you will advance your country, ameliorate your condition, and the blessing of God will attend all your efforts."

    Bianconi was always a great friend of O'Connell.  From an early period he joined him in the Catholic Emancipation movement.  He took part with him in founding the National Bank in Ireland.  In course of time the two became more intimately related.  Bianconi's son married O'Connell's granddaughter; and O'Connell's nephew, Morgan John, married Bianconi's daughter.  Bianconi's son died in 1864, leaving three daughters, but no male heir to carry on the family name.  The old man bore the blow of his son's premature death with fortitude, and laid his remains in the mortuary chapel, which he built on his estate at Longfield.

    In the following year, when he was seventy-eight, he met with a severe accident.  He was overturned, and his thigh was severely fractured.  He was laid up for six months, quite incapable of stirring.  He was afterwards able to get about in a marvellous way, though quite crippled.  As his life's work was over, he determined to retire finally from business; and he handed over the whole of his cars, coaches, horses, and plant, with all the lines of road he was then working, to his employees, on the most liberal terms.

    My youngest son met Mr. Bianconi, by appointment, at the Roman Catholic church at Boherlahan, in the summer of 1872.  Although the old gentleman had to be lifted into and out of his carriage by his two menservants, he was still as active-minded as ever.  Close to the church at Boherlahan is Bianconi's mortuary chapel, which he built as a sort of hobby, for the last resting-place of himself and his family.  The first person interred in it was his eldest daughter, who died in Italy; the second was his only son.  A beautiful monument with a bas-relief has been erected in the chapel by Benzoni, an Italian sculptor, to the memory of his daughter.

    "As we were leaving the chapel," my son informs me, "we passed a long Irish car containing about sixteen people, the tenants of Mr. Bianconi, who are brought at his expense from all parts of the estate.  He is very popular with his tenantry, regarding their interests as his own; and he often quotes the words of his friend Mr. Drummond, that 'property has its duties as well as its rights.'  He has rebuilt nearly every house on his extensive estates in Tipperary.

    "On our way home, the carriage stopped to let me down and see the strange remains of an ancient fort, close by the roadside.  It consists of a high grass-grown mound, surrounded by a moat.  It is one of the so-called Danish forts, which are found in all parts of Ireland.  If it be true that these forts were erected by the Danes, they must at one time have had a strong hold of the greater part of Ireland.

    "The carriage entered a noble avenue of trees, with views of prettily enclosed gardens on either side.  Mr. Bianconi exclaimed, 'Welcome to the Carman's Stage!'  Longfield House, which we approached, is a fine old-fashioned house, situated on the river Suir, a few miles south of Cashel, one of the most ancient cities in Ireland.  Mr. Bianconi and his family were most hospitable; and I found him most lively and communicative.  He talked cleverly and with excellent choice of language for about three hours, during which I learnt much from him.

    "Like most men who have accomplished great things, and overcome many difficulties, Mr. Bianconi is fond of referring to the past events in his interesting life.  The acuteness of his conversation is wonderful.  He hits off a keen thought in a few words, sometimes full of wit and humour.  I thought this very good: 'Keep before the wheels, young man, or they will run over you: always keep before the wheels!'  He read over to me the memoir he had prepared at the suggestion of Mr. Drummond, relating to the events of his early life; and this opened the way for a great many other recollections not set down in the book.

    "He vividly remembered the parting from his mother, nearly seventy years ago, and spoke of her last words to him: 'When you remember me, think of me as waiting at this window, watching for your return.'  This led him to speak of the great forgetfulness and want of respect which children have for their parents nowadays.  'We seem,' he said, 'to have fallen upon a disrespectful age.'

    "'It is strange,' said he, 'how little things influence one's mind and character.  When I was a boy at Waterford, I bought an old second-hand book from a man on the quay, and the maxim on its title-page fixed itself deeply on my memory.  It was, "Truth, like water, will find its own level."'  And this led him to speak of the great influence which the example and instruction of Mr. Rice, of the Christian Brothers, had had upon his mind and character.  'That religious institution,' said he, 'of which Mr. Rice was one of the founders, has now spread itself over the country, and, by means of the instruction which the members have imparted to the poorer ignorant classes, they have effected quite a revolution in the south of Ireland.'

    "'I am not much of a reader,' ' said Mr. Bianconi the best part of my reading has consisted in reading [way-bills.  But I was once complimented by Justice Lefroy upon my books.  He remarked to me what a wonderful education I must have had to invent my own system of book-keeping.  'Yes,' said he, pointing to his ledgers, 'there they are.'  The books are still preserved, recording the progress of the great car enterprise.  They show at first the small beginnings, and then the rapid growth—the tens growing to hundreds, and the hundreds to thousands—the ledgers and day-books containing, as it were, the whole history of the undertaking—of each car, of each man, of each horse, and of each line of road, recorded most minutely.

    "'The secret of my success,' said he, 'has been promptitude, fair dealing, and good humour.  And this I will add, what I have often said before, that I never did a kind action but it was returned to me tenfold.  My cars have never received the slightest injury from the people.  Though travelling through the country for about sixty years, the people have throughout respected the property intrusted to me.  My cars have passed through lonely and unfrequented places, and they have never, even in the most disturbed times, been attacked.  That, I think, is an extraordinary testimony to the high moral character of the Irish people.'

    "'It is not money, but the genius of money that I esteem,' said Bianconi; 'not money itself, but money used as a creative power.'  And he himself has furnished in his own life the best possible illustration of his maxim.  He created a new industry, gave employment to an immense number of persons, promoted commerce, extended civilisation; and, though a foreigner, proved one of the greatest of Ireland's benefactors."

    About two years after the date of my son's visit, Charles Bianconi passed away, full of years and honours; and his remains were laid beside those of his son and daughter, in the mortuary chapel at Boherlahan.  He died in 1875, in his ninetieth year.  Well might Signor Henrico Mayer say, at the British Association at Cork in 1846, that "he felt proud as an Italian to hear a compatriot so deservedly eulogised; and although Ireland might claim Bianconi as a citizen, yet the Italians should ever with pride hail him as a countryman, whose industry and virtue reflected honour on the country of his birth."


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER X.

INDUSTRY IN IRELAND:

THROUGH CONNAUGHT AND ULSTER, TO BELFAST.


"The Irish people have a past to boast of, and a future to create."—J. F. O'CARROL.

"One of the great questions is how to find an outlet for Irish manufactures. We ought to be an exporting nation, or we never will be able to compete successfully with our trade rivals."—E. D. G
RAY.

"Ireland may become a Nation again, if we all sacrifice our parricidal passions, prejudices, and resentments on the altar of our country. Then shall your manufactures flourish, and Ireland be free."—D
ANIEL O'CONNELL.


I SPENT a portion of nay summer holiday of 1883 in Ireland.  I had seen the South of Ireland, and the romantic scenery of Cork and Kerry, more than once; and now I desired to visit the coast of Galway and the highland scenery of Connemara.  On communicating my intentions to a young Italian gentleman—Count Giuseppe Zoppola—he expressed a desire to accompany me; but he must first communicate with his father at Nigoline, near Brescia.  The answer he received was unsatisfactory.  "If you go to Ireland," said his father, "you will be shot."  "Nonsense!" I replied, when the message was communicated to me; "I have children and grandchildren in Ireland, and they are as safe there as in any part of England."

    It is certainly unfortunate for Ireland that the intelligence published regarding it is usually of an alarming character.  Little is said of "the trivial round, the common task," of the great body of working people, of which the population of Ireland, as well as of the United Kingdom, mainly consists.  But if an exceptional outrage occurs, it is spread by the press amongst newspaper readers, at home as well as abroad.  This has the effect of checking, not only the influx of capital into Ireland, which is the true Wages Fund for the employment of labour, but it tends to propagate the idea that Ireland, with its majestic scenery, is an unsafe country to travel in; whereas the fact is that, apart from the crimes arising out of agrarianism, there is less theft, less cheating, less housebreaking, less robbery of all kinds there, than in any country of the same size in the civilised world.  I have travelled in the remotest parts of Ireland—by the magnificent scenery round Bantry Bay in the south-west, and along the wild coast scenery of Donegal, in the north-west—and invariably found the peasantry kind, civil, and obliging. [p.256]

    Further communications passed between my young friend, the Italian count, and his father; and the result was that he accompanied me to Ireland, on the express understanding that he was to send home a letter daily by post assuring his friends of his safety.  We went together accordingly to Galway, up Lough Corrib to Cong and Lough Mask; by the romantic lakes and mountains of Connemara to Clifden and Letterfrack, and through the lovely pass of Kylemoor to Leenane; along the fiord of Killury; then on, by Westport and Balling to Sligo.  Letters were posted daily by my young friend; and every day we went forwards in safety.

    But how lonely was the country!  We did not meet a single American tourist during the whole course of our visit, and the Americans are the most travelling people in the world.  Although the railway companies have given every facility for visiting Connemara and the scenery of the West of Ireland, we only met one single English tourist, accompanied by his daughter.  The Bianconi long car between Clifden and Westport had been taken off for want of support.  The only persons who seemed to have no fear of Irish agrarianism were the English anglers, who are ready to brave all dangers, imaginary or supposed, provided they can only kill a big salmon!  And all the rivers flowing westward into the Atlantic are full of fine fish.  While at Galway, we looked down into the river Corrib from the Upper Bridge, and beheld it literally black with the backs of salmon!  They were waiting for a flood to enable them to ascend the ladder into Lough Corrib.  While there, 1,900 salmon were taken in one day by nets in the bay.

    Galway is a declining town.  It has docks, but no shipping; bonded warehouses, but no commerce.  It has a community of fishermen at Claddagh, but the fisheries of the bay are neglected.  As one of the poor men of the place exclaimed, "Poverty is the curse of Ireland."  On looking at Galway from the Claddagh side, it seems as if to have suffered from a bombardment.  Where a roof has fallen in, nothing has been done to repair it.  It was of no use.  The ruin has been left to go on.  The mills, which used to grind home-grown corn, are now unemployed.  The corn comes ready ground from America.  Nothing is thought of but emigration, and the best people are going, leaving the old, the weak, and the inefficient at home.  "The labourer," said the late President Garfield, "has but one commodity to sell—his day's work.  It is his sole reliance.  He must sell it to-day, or it is lost for-ever."  And as the poor Irishman cannot sell his day's labour, he must needs emigrate to some other country, where his only commodity may be in demand.

    While at Galway, I read with interest an eloquent speech delivered by Mr. Parnell at the banquet held in the Great Hall of the Exhibition at Cork.  Mr. Parnell asked, with much reason, why manufactures should not be established and encouraged in the South of Ireland, as in other parts of the country.  Why should not capital be invested, and factories and workshops developed, through the length and breadth of the kingdom?  "I confess," he said, "I should like to give Ireland a fair opportunity of working her home manufactures.  We can each one of us do much to revive the ancient name of our nation in those industrial pursuits which have done so much to increase and render glorious those greater nations by the side of which we live.  I trust that before many years are over we shall have the honour and pleasure of meeting in even a more splendid palace than this, and of seeing in the interval that the quick-witted genius of the Irish race has profited by the lessons which this beautiful Exhibition must undoubtedly teach, and that much will have been done to make our nation happy, prosperous, and free."

    Mr. Parnell, in the course of his speech, referred to the manufactures which had at one time flourished in Ireland—to the flannels of Rathdrum, the linens of Bandon, the cottons of Cork, and the gloves of Limerick.  Why should not these things exist again?  "We have a people who are by nature quick and facile to learn, who have shown in many other countries that they are industrious and laborious, and who have not been excelled—whether in the pursuits of agriculture under a midday sun in the field, or amongst the vast looms in the factory districts—by the people of any country on the face of the globe." [p.260-1] Most just and eloquent!

    The only weak point in Mr. Parnell's speech was where he urged his audience "not to use any article of the manufacture of any other country except Ireland, where you can get up an Irish manufacture."  The true remedy is to make Irish articles of the best and cheapest, and they will be bought, not only by the Irish, but by the English and people of all nations.  Manufactures cannot be "boycotted."  They will find their way into all lands, in spite even of the most restrictive tariffs.  Take, for instance, the case of Belfast—hereafter to be referred to.  If the manufacturing population of that town were to rely for their maintenance on the demand for their productions at home, they would simply starve.  But they make the best and the cheapest goods of their kind, and hence the demand for them is world-wide.

    There is an abundant scope for the employment of capital and skilled labour in Ireland.  During the last few years land has been falling rapidly out of cultivation.  The area under cereal crops has accordingly considerably decreased.  [p.260-2]  Since 1868, not less than 400,000 acres have been disused for this purpose. [p.260-3]  Wheat can be bought better and cheaper in America, and imported into Ireland ground into flour.  The consequence is, that the men who worked the soil, as well as the men who ground the corn, are thrown out of employment, and there is nothing left for them but subsistence upon the poor-rates, emigration to other countries, or employment in some new domestic industry.

    Ireland is by no means the "poor Ireland" that she is commonly supposed to be.  The last returns of the Postmaster-General show that she is growing in wealth.  Irish thrift has been steadily at work during the last twenty years.  Since the establishment of the Post Office Savings Banks, in 1861, the deposits have annually increased in value.  At the end of 1882, more than two millions sterling had been deposited in these banks, and every county participated in the increase. [p.261]  The largest accumulations were in the counties of Dublin, Antrim, Cork, Down, Tipperary, and Tyrone, in the order named.  Besides this amount, the sum of £2,082,413 was due to depositors in the ordinary Savings Banks on the 20th of November, 1882; or, in all, more than four millions sterling, the deposits of small capitalists.  At Cork, at the end of last year, it was found that the total deposits made in the savings bank had been £76,000, or an increase of £6,675 over the preceding twelve months.  But this is not all.  The Irish middle classes are accustomed to deposit most of their savings in the Joint Stock banks; and from the returns presented to the Lord Lieutenant, dated the 31st of January, 1883, we find that these had been more than doubled in twenty years, the deposits and cash balances having increased from £14,389,000 at the end of 1862, to £32,746,000 at the end of 1882.  During the last year they had increased by the sum of £2,585,000.  "So large an increase in bank deposits and cash balances," says the Report, "is highly satisfactory."  It may be added that the investments in Government and India Stock, on which dividends were paid at the Bank of Ireland, at the end of 1882, amounted to not less than £31,804,000.

    It is proper that Ireland should be bountiful with her increasing means.  It has been stated that during the last eighteen years her people have contributed not less than six millions sterling for the purpose of building places of worship, convents, schools, and colleges, in connection with the Roman Catholic Church, not to speak of their contributions for other patriotic objects.

    It would be equally proper if some of the saved surplus capital of Ireland, as suggested by Mr. Parnell, were invested in the establishment of Irish manufactures.  This would not only give profitable occupation to the unemployed, but enable Ireland to become an increasingly exporting nation.  We are informed by an Irish banker, that there is abundance of money to be got in Ireland for any industry which has a reasonable chance of success.  One thing, however, is certain: there must be perfect safety.  An old writer has said that "Government is a badge of lost innocence: the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise."  The main use of government is protection against the weaknesses and selfishness of human nature.  If there be no protection for life, liberty, property, and the fruits of accumulated industry, government becomes comparatively useless, and society is driven back upon its first principles.

    Capital is the most sensitive of all things.  It flies turbulence and strife, and thrives only in security and freedom.  It must have complete safety.  If tampered with by restrictive laws, or hampered by combinations, it suddenly disappears.  "The age of glory of a nation," said Sir Humphry Davy, "is the age of its security.  The same dignified feeling which urges men to gain a dominion over nature will preserve them from the dominion of slavery.  Natural, and moral, and religious knowledge, are of one family; and happy is the country and great its strength where they dwell together in union."

    Dublin was once celebrated for its shipbuilding, its timber-trade, its iron manufactures, and its steam-printing; Limerick was celebrated for its gloves; Kilkenny for its blankets; Bandon for its woollen and linen manufactures.  But most of these trades were banished by strikes. [p.263]  Dr. Doyle stated before the Irish Committee of 1830, that the almost total extinction of the Kilkenny blanket-trade was attributable to the combinations of the weavers; and O'Connell admitted that Trades Unions had wrought more evil to Ireland than absenteeism and Saxon maladministration.  But working men have recently become more prudent and thrifty; and it is believed that under the improved system of moderate counsel, and arbitration between employers and employed, a more hopeful issue is likely to attend the future of such enterprises.

    Another thing is clear.  A country may be levelled down by idleness and ignorance; it can only be levelled up by industry and intelligence.  It is easy to pull down; it is very difficult to build up.  The hands that cannot erect a hovel may demolish a palace.  We have but to look to Switzerland to see what a country may become which mixes its industry with its brains.  That little land has no coal, no seaboard by which she can introduce it, and is shut off from other countries by lofty mountains, as well as by hostile tariffs; and yet Switzerland is one of the most prosperous nations in Europe, because governed and regulated by intelligent industry.  Let Ireland look to Switzerland, and she need not despair.

    Ireland is a much richer country by nature than is generally supposed.  In fact, she has not yet been properly explored.  There is copper-ore in Wicklow, Waterford, and Cork.  The Leitrim iron-ores are famous for their riches; and there is good ironstone in Kilkenny, as well as in Ulster.  The Connaught ores are mixed with coal-beds.  Kaolin, porcelain clay, and coarser clay, abound; but it is only at Belleek that it has been employed in the pottery manufacture.  But the sea about Ireland is still less explored than the land.  All round the Atlantic seaboard of the Irish coast are shoals of herring and mackerel, which might be food for men, but are at present only consumed by the multitudes of sea-birds which follow them.

    In the daily papers giving an account of the Cork Exhibition, appeared the following paragraph: "An interesting exhibit will be a quantity of preserved herrings from Lowestoft, caught off the old head of Kinsale, and returned to Cork after undergoing a preserving process in England." [p.264]  Fish caught off the coast of Ireland by English fishermen, taken to England and cured, and then "returned to Cork" for exhibition!  Here is an opening for patriotic Irishmen.  Why not catch and preserve the fish at home, and get the entire benefit of the fish traffic?  Will it be believed that there is probably more money value in the seas round Ireland than there is in the land itself?  This is actually the case with the sea round the county of Aberdeen. [p.265]

    A vast source of wealth lies at the very doors of the Irish people.  But the harvest of an ocean teeming with life is allowed to pass into other hands.  The majority of the boats which take part in the fishery at Kinsale are from the little island of Man, from Cornwall, from France, and from Scotland.  The fishermen catch the fish, salt them, and carry them or send them away.  While the Irish boats are diminishing in number, those of the strangers are increasing.  In an East Lothian paper, published in May 1881, I find the following paragraph, under the head of COCKENZIE:—


"Departure of Boats.—In the early part of this week, a number of the boats here have left for the herring-fishery at Kinsale, in Ireland.  The success attending their labours last year at that place and at Howth has induced more of them than usual to proceed thither this year."


    It may not be generally known that Cockenzie is a little fishing village on the Firth of Forth, in Scotland, where the fishermen have provided themselves, at their own expense, with about fifty decked fishing-boats, each costing, with nets and gear, about £500.  With these boats they carry on their pursuits on the coast of Scotland, England, and Ireland.  In 1882, they sent about thirty boats to Kinsale [p.266] and Howth.  The profits of their fishing has been such as to enable them, with the assistance of Lord Wemyss, to build for themselves a convenient harbour at Port Seaton, without any help from the Government.  They find that self-help is the best help, and that it is absurd to look to the Government and the public purse for what they can best do for themselves.

    The wealth of the ocean round Ireland has long been known.  As long ago as the ninth and tenth centuries, the Danes established a fishery off the western coasts, and carried on a lucrative trade with the south of Europe.  In Queen Mary's reign, Philip II. of Spain paid £1,000 annually in consideration of his subjects being allowed to fish on the north-west coast of Ireland; and it appears that the money was brought into the Irish Exchequer.  In 1650, Sweden was permitted, as a favour, to employ a hundred vessels in the Irish fishery; and the Dutch in the reign of Charles I. were admitted to the fisheries on the payment of £30,000.  In 1673, Sir W. Temple, in a letter to Lord Essex, says that "the fishing of Ireland might prove a mine under water as rich as any under ground." [p.267-1]

    The coasts of Ireland abound in all the kinds of fish in common use—cod, ling, haddock, hake, mackerel, herring, whiting, conger, turbot, brill, bream, soles, plaice, dories, and salmon.  The banks off the coast of Galway are frequented by myriads of excellent fish; yet, of the small quantity caught, the bulk is taken in the immediate neighbourhood of the shores.  Galway bay is said to be the finest fishing ground in the world; but the fish cannot be expected to come on shore unsought: they must be found, followed, and netted.  The fishing-boats from the west of Scotland are very successful; and they often return the fish to Ireland, cured, which had been taken out of the Irish bays.  "I tested this fact in Galway," says Mr. S. C. Hall.  "I had ordered fish for dinner; two salt haddocks were brought to me.  On inquiry, I ascertained where they were bought, and learned from the seller that he was the agent of a Scotch firm, whose boats were at that time loading in the bay." [p.267-2]  But although Scotland imports some 80,000 barrels of cured herrings annually into Ireland, that is not enough; for we find that there is a regular importation of cured herrings, cod, ling, and hake, from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, towards the food of the Irish people. [p.267-3]

    The fishing village of Claddagh, at Galway, is more decaying than ever.  It seems to have suffered from a bombardment, like the rest of the town.  The houses of the fishermen, when they fall in, are left in ruins.  While the French, and English, and Scotch boats leave the coast laden with fish, the Claddagh men remain empty-handed.  They will only fish on "lucky days," so that the Galway market is often destitute of fish, while the Claddagh people are starving.  On one occasion an English company was formed for the purpose of fishing and curing fish at Galway, as is now done at Yarmouth, Grimsby, Fraserburgh, Wick, and other places.  Operations were commenced, but so soon as the English fishermen put to sea in their boats, the Claddagh men fell upon them, and they were glad to escape with their lives. [p.268]  Unfortunately, the Claddagh men have no organization, no fixed rules, no settled determination to work, unless when pressed by necessity.  The appearance of the men and of their cabins show that they are greatly in want of capital; and fishing cannot be successfully performed without a sufficiency of this industrial element.

    Illustrations of this neglected industry might be given to any extent.  Herring fishing, cod fishing, and pilchard fishing, are alike untouched.  The Irish have a strong prejudice against the pilchard; they believe it to be an unlucky fish, and that it will rot the net that takes it.  The Cornishmen do not think so, for they find the pilchard fishing to be a source of great wealth.  The pilchards strike upon the Irish coast first before they reach Cornwall.  When Mr. Brady, Inspector of Irish Fisheries, visited St. Ives a few years ago, he saw captured, in one seine alone, nearly ten thousand pounds of this fish.

    Not long since, according to a northern local paper, [p.269] a large fleet of vessels in full sail was seen from the west coast of Donegal, evidently making for the shore.  Many surmises were made about the unusual sight.  Some thought it was the Fenians, others the Home Rulers, others the Irish-American Dynamiters.  Nothing of the kind!  It was only a fleet of Scotch smacks, sixty-four in number, fishing for herring between Torry Island and Horn Head.  The Irish might say to the Scotch fishermen, in the words of the Morayshire legend, "Rejoice, O my brethren, in the gifts of the sea, for they enrich you without making any one else the poorer!"  But while the Irish are overlooking their treasure of herring, the Scotch are carefully cultivating it.  The Irish fleet of fishing-boats fell off from 27,142 in 1823 to 7,181 in 1873; and in 1882 they were still further reduced to 6,089. [p.270-1]  Yet Ireland has a coast-line of fishing ground of nearly three thousand miles in extent.

    The bights and bays on the west coast of Ireland—off Erris, Mayo, Connemara, and Donegal—swarm with fish.  Near Achill Bay, 2,000 mackerel were lately taken at a single haul; and Clew Bay is often alive with fish.  In Scull Bay and Crookhaven, near Cape Clear, they are so plentiful that the peasants often knock them on the head with oars, but will not take the trouble to net them.  These swarms of fish might be a source of permanent wealth.  A gentleman of Cork one day borrowed a common rod and line from a Cornish miner in his employment, and caught fifty-seven mackerel from the jetty in Scull Bay before breakfast.  Each of these mackerel was worth twopence in Cork market, thirty miles off.  Yet the people round about, many of whom were short of food, were doing nothing to catch them, but expecting Providence to supply their wants.  Providence, however, always likes to be helped.  Some people forget that the Giver of all good gifts requires us to seek for them by industry, prudence, and perseverance. [p.270-2]

    Some cry for more loans; some cry for more harbours.  It would be well to help with suitable harbours, but the system of dependence upon Government loans is pernicious.  The Irish ought to feel that the very best help must come from themselves.  This is the best method for teaching independence.  Look at the little Isle of Man.  The fishermen there never ask for loans.  They look to their nets and their boats; they sail for Ireland, catch the fish, and sell them to the Irish people.  With them, industry brings capital, and forms the fertile seed-ground of further increase of boats and nets.  Surely what is done by the Manxmen, the Cornishmen, and the Cockenziemen, might be done by the Irishmen.  The difficulty is not to be got over by lamenting about it, or by staring at it, but by grappling with it, and overcoming it.  It is deeds, not words, that are wanted.  Employment for the mass of the people must spring from the people themselves.  Provided there is security for life and property, and an absence of intimidation, we believe that capital will become invested in the fishing industry of Ireland; and that the result will be peace, food, and prosperity.

    We must remember that it is only of comparatively late years that England and Scotland have devoted so much attention to the fishery of the seas surrounding our island.  In this fact there is consolation and hope for Ireland.  At the beginning of the seventeenth century Sir Walter Raleigh laid before the King his observations concerning the trade and commerce of England, in which he showed that the Dutch were almost monopolising the fishing trade, and consequently adding to their shipping, commerce, and wealth.  "Surely," he says, "the stream is necessary to be turned to the good of this kingdom, to whose sea-coasts alone God has sent us these great blessings and immense riches for us to take; and that every nation should carry away out of this kingdom yearly great masses of money for fish taken in our seas, and sold again by them to us, must needs be a great dishonour to our nation, and hindrance to this realm."

    The Hollanders then had about 50,000 people employed in fishing along the English coast; and their industry and enterprise gave employment to about 150,000 more, "by sea and land, to make provision, to dress and transport the fish they take, and return commodities; whereby they are enabled yearly to build 1,000 ships and vessels."  The prosperity of Amsterdam was then so great that it was said that Amsterdam was "founded on herring-bones."  Tobias Gentleman published in 1614 his treatise on 'England's Way to win Wealth, and to employ Ships and Marines,' [p.272] in which he urged the English people to vie with the Dutch in fishing the seas, and thereby to give abundant employment, as well as abundant food, to the poorer people of the country.

    "Look," he said, "on these fellows, that we call the plump Hollanders; behold their diligence in fishing, and our own careless negligence!"  The Dutch not only fished along the coasts near Yarmouth, but their fishing vessels went north as far as the coasts of Shetland.  What most roused Mr. Gentleman's indignation was, that the Dutchmen caught the fish and sold them to the Yarmouth herring-mongers "for ready gold, so that it amounteth to a great sum of money, which money doth never come again into England."  "We are daily scorned," he says, "by these Hollanders, for being so negligent of our Profit, and careless of our Fishing; and they do daily flout us that be the poor Fishermen of England, to our Faces at Sea, calling to us, and saying, 'Ya English, ya sill or oud scone dragien;' which, in English, is this, 'You English, we will make you glad to wear our old shoes!'"

    Another pamphlet, to a similar effect, 'The Royal Fishing revived,' [p.273] was published fifty years later, in which it was set forward that the Dutch "have not only gained to themselves almost the sole fishing in his Majesty's Seas; but principally upon this Account have very near beat us out of all our other most profitable Trades in all Parts of the World."  It was even proposed to compel "all Sorts of begging Persons and all other poor People, all People condemned for less Crimes than Blood," as well as "all Persons in Prison for Debt," to take part in this fishing trade!  But this was not the true way to force the traffic.  The herring fishery at Yarmouth and along the coast began to make gradual progress with the growth of wealth and enterprise throughout the country; though it was not until 1787—less than a hundred years ago—that the Yarmouth men began the deep-sea herring fishery.  Before then, the fishing was all carried on along shore in little cobles, almost within sight of land.  The native fishery also extended northward, along the east coast of Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Isles, until now the herring fishery of Scotland forms one of the greatest industries in the United Kingdom, and gives employment, directly or indirectly, to close upon half a million of people, or to one-seventh of the whole population of Scotland.

    Taking these facts into consideration, therefore, there is no reason to despair of seeing, before many years have elapsed, a large development of the fishing industry of Ireland.  We may yet see Galway the Yarmouth, Achill the Grimsby, and Killybegs the Wick of the West.  Modern society in Ireland, as everywhere else, can only be transformed through the agency of labour, industry, and commerce—inspired by the spirit of work, and maintained by the accumulations of capital.  The first end of all labour is security,—security to person, possession, and property, so that all may enjoy in peace the fruits of their industry.  For no liberty, no freedom, can really exist which does not include the first liberty of all—the right of public and private safety.

    To show what energy and industry can do in Ireland, it is only necessary to point to Belfast, one of the most prosperous and enterprising towns in the British Islands.  The land is the same, the climate is the same, and the laws are the same, as those which prevail in other parts of Ireland.  Belfast is the great centre of Irish manufactures and commerce, and what she has been able to do might be done elsewhere, with the same amount of energy and enterprise.  But it is not land, or climate, or altered laws that are wanted.  It is men to lead and direct, and men to follow with anxious and persevering industry.  It is always the Man society wants.

    The influence of Belfast extends far out into the country.  As you approach it from Sligo, you begin to see that you are nearing a place where industry has accumulated capital, and where it has been invested in cultivating and beautifying the land.  After you pass Enniskillen, the fields become more highly cultivated.  The drill-rows are more regular; the hedges are clipped; the weeds no longer hide the crops, as they sometimes do in the far west.  The country is also adorned with copses, woods, and avenues.  A new crop begins to appear in the fields—a crop almost peculiar to the neighbourhood of Belfast.  It is a plant with a very slender erect green stem, which, when full grown, branches at the top into a loose corymb of blue flowers.  This is the flax plant, the cultivation and preparation of which gives employment to a great number of persons, and is to a large extent the foundation of the prosperity of Belfast.

    The first appearance of the linen industry of Ireland, as we approach Belfast from the west, is observed at Portadown.  Its position on the Bann, with its water power, has enabled this town, as well as the other places on the river, to secure and maintain their due share in the linen manufacture.  Factories with their long chimneys begin to appear.  The fields are richly cultivated, and a general air of well-being pervades the district.  Lurgan is reached, so celebrated for its diapers; and the fields thereabout are used as bleaching-greens.  Then comes Lisburn, a populous and thriving town, the inhabitants of which are mostly engaged in their staple trade, the manufacture of damasks.  This was really the first centre of the linen trade.  Though Lord Strafford, during his government of Ireland, encouraged the flax industry, by sending to Holland for flax-seed, and inviting Flemish and French artisans to settle in Ireland, it was not until the Huguenots, who had been banished from France by the persecutions of Louis XIV., settled in Ireland in such large numbers, that the manufacture became firmly established.  The Crommelins, the Goyers, and the Dupres, were the real founders of this great branch of industry. [p.276]

    As the traveller approaches Belfast, groups of houses, factories, and works of various kinds, appear closer and closer; long chimneys over boilers and steam-engines, and brick buildings three or four stories high; large yards full of workmen, carts, and lorries; and at length we are landed in the midst of a large manufacturing town.  As we enter the streets, everybody seems to be alive.  What struck William Hutton when he first saw Birmingham, might be said of Belfast: "I was surprised at the place, but more at the people.  They possessed a vivacity I had never before beheld.  I had been among dreamers, but now I saw men awake.  Their very step along the street showed alacrity.  Every man seemed to know what he was about.  The town was large, and full of inhabitants, and these inhabitants full of industry.  The faces of other men seemed tinctured with an idle gloom; but here with a pleasing alertness.  Their appearance was strongly marked with the modes of civil life."

    Some people do not like manufacturing towns: they prefer old castles and ruins.  They will find plenty of these in other parts of Ireland.  But to found industries that give employment to large numbers of persons, and enable them to maintain themselves and families upon the fruits of their labour—instead of living upon poor-rates levied from the labours of others, or who are forced, by want of employment, to banish themselves from their own country, to emigrate and settle among strangers, where they know not what may become of them—is a most honourable and important source of influence, and worthy of every encouragement.  Look at the wonderfully rapid rise of Belfast, originating in the enterprise of individuals, and developed by the earnest' and anxious industry of the inhabitants of Ulster!

    "God save Ireland!"  By all means.  But Ireland cannot be saved without the help of the people who live in it.  God endowed men, there as elsewhere, with reason, will, and physical power; and it is by patient industry only that they can open up a pathway to the enduring prosperity of the country.  There is no Eden in nature.  The earth might have continued a rude uncultivated wilderness, but for human energy, power, and industry.  These enable man to subdue the wilderness, and develop the potency of labour.  "Possum quid credunt posse."  They must conquer who will.

    Belfast is a comparatively modern town.  It has no ancient history.  About the beginning of the sixteenth century it was little better than a fishing village.  There was a castle, and a ford to it across the Lagan.  A chapel was built at the ford, at which hurried prayers were offered up for those who were about to cross the currents of Lagan Water.  In 1575, Sir Henry Sydney writes to the Lords of the Council: "I was offered skirmish by MacNeill Bryan Ertaugh at my passage over the water at Belfast, which I caused to be answered, and passed over without lose of manor horse; yet by reason of the extraordinaire Retorne our horses swamme and the Footmen in the passage waded very deep."  The country round about was forest land.  It was so thickly wooded that it was a common saying that one might walk to Lurgan "on the tops of the trees."

    In 1612, Belfast consisted of about 120 houses, built of mud and covered with thatch.  The whole value of the land on which the town is built, is said to have been worth only £5 in fee simple. [p.278]  "Ulster," said Sir John Davies, "is a very desert or wilderness; the inhabitants thereof having for the most part no certain habitation in any towns or villages."  In 1659, Belfast contained only 600 inhabitants: Carrickfergus was more important, and had 1,312 inhabitants.  But about 1660, the Long Bridge over the Lagan was built, and prosperity began to dawn upon the little town.  It was situated at the head of a navigable lough, and formed an outlet for the manufacturing products of the inland country.  Ships of any burden, however, could not come near the town.  The cargoes, down even to a recent date, had to be discharged into lighters at Garmoyle.  Streams of water made their way to the Lough through the mud banks; and a rivulet ran through what is now known as the High Street.

    The population gradually increased.  In 1788 Belfast had 12,000 inhabitants.  But it was not until after the Union with Great Britain that the town made so great a stride.  At the beginning of the present century it had about 20,000 inhabitants.  At every successive census, the progress made was extraordinary, until now the population of Belfast amounts to over 225,000.  There is scarcely an instance of so large a rate of increase in the British Islands, save in the exceptional case of Middlesborough, which was the result of the opening out of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and the discovery of ironstone in the hills of Cleveland in Yorkshire.  Dundee and Barrow are supposed to present the next most rapid increases of population.

    The increase of shipping has also been equally great.  Ships from other ports frequented the Lough for purposes of trade; but in course of time the Belfast merchants supplied themselves with ships of their own.  In 1791 one William Ritchie, a sturdy North Briton, brought with him from Glasgow ten men and a quantity of shipbuilding materials.  He gradually increased the number of his workmen, and proceeded to build a few sloops.  He reclaimed some land from the sea, and made a shipyard and graving dock on what was known as Corporation Ground.  In November 1800 the new graving dock, near the bridge, was opened for the reception of vessels.  It was capable of receiving three vessels of 200 tons each!  In 1807 a vessel of 400 tons burthen was launched from Mr. Ritchie's shipyard, when a great crowd of people assembled to witness the launching of "so large a ship"—far more than now assemble to see a 3,000-tonner of the White Star Line leave the slips and enter the water!

    The shipbuilding trade has been one of the most rapidly developed, especially of late years.  In 1805 the number of vessels frequenting the port was 840; whereas in 1883 the number had been increased to 7,508, with about a million and a-half of tonnage; while the gross value of the exports from Belfast exceeded twenty millions sterling annually.  In 1819 the first steamboat of 100 tons was used to tug the vessels up the windings of the Lough, which it did at the rate of three miles an hour, to the astonishment of everybody.  Seven years later, the steamboat Rob Roy was put on between Glasgow and Belfast.  But these vessels had been built in Scotland.  It was not until 1826 that the first steamboat, the Chieftain, was built in Belfast, by the same William Ritchie.  Then, in 1838, the first iron boat was built in the Lagan foundry, by Messrs. Coates and Young, though it was but a mere cockle-shell compared with the mighty ocean steamers which are now regularly launched from Queen's Island.  In the year 1883 the largest shipbuilding firm in the town launched thirteen vessels, of over 30,000 tons gross, while two other firms launched twelve ships, of about 10,000 tons gross.

    I do not propose to enter into details respecting the progress of the trades of Belfast.  The most important is the spinning of fine linen yarn, which is for the most part concentrated in that town, over 25,000,000 of pounds weight being exported annually.  Towards the end of the seventeenth century the linen manufacture had made but little progress.  In 1680 all Ireland did not export more than £6,000 worth annually.  Drogheda was then of greater importance than Belfast.  But with the settlement of the persecuted Huguenots in Ulster, and especially through the energetic labours of Crommelin, Goyer, and others, the growth of flax was sedulously cultivated, and its manufacture into linen of all sorts became an important branch of Irish industry.  In the course of about fifty years the exports of linen fabrics increased to the value of over £600,000 per annum.

    It was still, however, a handicraft manufacture, and done for the most part at home.  Flax was spun and yarn was woven by hand. Eventually machinery was employed, and the turn-out became proportionately large and valuable.  It would not be possible for hand labour to supply the amount of linen now turned out by the aid of machinery.  It would require three times the entire population of Ireland to spin and weave, by the old spinning-wheel and hand-loom methods, the amount of linen cloth now annually manufactured by the operatives of Belfast alone.  There are now forty large spinning-mills in Belfast and the neighbourhood, which furnish employment to a very large number of working people. [p.281]

    In the course of my visit to Belfast, I inspected the works of the York Street flax-spinning mills, founded in 1830 by the Messrs. Mulholland, which now give employment, directly or indirectly, to many thousand persons.  I visited also, with my young Italian friend, the admirable printing establishment of Marcus Ward and Co., the works of the Belfast Rope-work Company, and the shipbuilding works of Harland and Wolff.  There we passed through the roar of the iron forge, the clang of the Nasmyth hammer, and the intermittent glare of the furnaces—all telling of the novel appliances of modern shipbuilding, and the power of the modern steam-engine.  I prefer to give a brief account of this latter undertaking, as it exhibits one of the newest and most important industries of Belfast.  It also shows, on the part of its proprietors, a brave encounter with difficulties, and sets before the friends of Ireland the truest and surest method of not only giving employment to its people, but of building up on the surest foundations the prosperity of the country.

    The first occasion on which I visited Belfast—the reader will excuse the introduction of myself—was in 1840; about forty-four years ago. I went thither on the invitation of the late Wm. Sharman Crawford, Esq., M.P., the first prominent advocate of tenant-right, to attend a public meeting of the Ulster Association, and to spend a few days with him at his residence at Crawfordsburn, near Bangor.  Belfast was then a town of comparatively little importance, though it had already made a fair start in commerce and industry.  As our steamer approached the head of the Lough, a large number of labourers were observed—with barrows, picks, and spades—scooping and wheeling up the slob and mud of the estuary, for the purpose of forming what is now known as Queen's Island, on the eastern side of the river Lagan.  The work was conducted by William Dargan, the famous Irish contractor; and its object was to make a straight artificial outlet—the Victoria Channel—by means of which vessels drawing twenty-three feet of water might reach the port of Belfast.  Before then, the course of the Lagan was tortuous and difficult of navigation; but by the straight cut, which was completed in 1846, and afterwards extended further seawards, ships of large burden were enabled to reach the quays, which extend for about a mile below Queen's Bridge, on both sides of the river.

    It was a saying of honest William Dargan, that "when a thing is put anyway right at all, it takes a vast deal of mismanagement to make it go wrong."  He had another curious saying about "the calf eating the cow's belly," which, he said, was not right, "at all, at all."  Belfast illustrated his proverbial remarks.  That the cutting of the Victoria Channel was doing the "right thing" for Belfast, was clear, from the constantly increasing traffic of the port.  In course of time, several extensive docks and tidal basins were added; while provision was made, in laying out the reclaimed land at the entrance of the estuary, for their future extension and enlargement.  The town of Belfast was by these means gradually placed in immediate connection by sea with the principal western ports of England and Scotland,—steamships of large burden now leaving it daily for Liverpool, Glasgow, Fleetwood, Barrow, and Ardrossan.  The ships entering the port of Belfast in 1883 were 7,508, of 1,526,535 tonnage; they had been more than doubled in fifteen years.  The town has risen from nothing, to exhibit a Customs revenue, in 1883, of £608,781, infinitely greater than that of Leith, the port of Edinburgh, or of Hull, the chief port of Yorkshire.  The population has also largely increased.  When I visited Belfast in 1840, the town contained 75,000 inhabitants.  They are now over 225,000, or more than trebled,—Belfast being the tenth town, in point of population, in the United Kingdom.

    The spirit and enterprise of the people are illustrated by the variety of their occupations.  They do not confine themselves to one branch of business; but their energies overflow into nearly every department of industry.  Their linen manufacture is of world-wide fame; but much less known are their more recent enterprises.  The production of aerated waters, for instance, is something extraordinary.  In 1882 the manufacturers shipped off 53,163 packages, and 24,263 cwts of aerated waters to England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.  While Ireland produces no wrought iron, though it contains plenty of iron-stone,—and Belfast has to import all the iron which it consumes,—yet one engineering firm alone, that of Combo, Barbour, and Combo, employs 1,500 highly-paid mechanics, and ships off its iron machinery to all parts of the world.  The printing establishment of Marcus Ward and Co. employs over 1,000 highly skilled and ingenious persons, and extends the influence of learning and literature into all civilised countries.  We might add the various manufactures of roofing felt (of which there are five), of ropes, of stoves, of stable fittings, of nails, of starch, of machinery; all of which have earned a world-wide reputation.

    We prefer, however, to give an account of the last new industry of Belfast—that of shipping and shipbuilding.  Although, as we have said, Belfast imports from Scotland and England all its iron and all its coal, [p.284] it nevertheless, by the skill and strength of its men, sends out some of the finest and largest steamships which navigate the Atlantic and Pacific.  It all comes from the power of individuality, and furnishes a splendid example for Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick, each of which is provided by nature with magnificent harbours, with fewer of those difficulties of access which Belfast has triumphed over; and each of which might be the centre of some great industrial enterprise, provided only there were patriotic men willing to embark their capital, perfect protection for the property invested, and men willing to work rather than to strike.

    It was not until the year 1853 that the Queen's Island—raked out of the mud of the slob-land—was first used for shipbuilding purposes.  Robert Hickson and Co. then commenced operations by laying down the Mary Stenhouse, a wooden sailing-ship of 1,289 tons register; and the vessel was launched in the following year.  The operations of the firm were continued until the year 1859, when the shipbuilding establishments on Queen's Island were acquired by Mr. E. J. Harland (afterwards Harland and Wolff), since which time the development of this great branch of industry in Belfast has been rapid and complete.

    From the history of this firm, it will be found that energy is the most profitable of all merchandise; and that the fruit of active work is the sweetest of all fruits.  Harland and Wolff are the true Watt and Boulton of Belfast.  At the beginning of their great enterprise, their works occupied about four acres of land; they now occupy over thirty-six acres.  The firm has imported not less than two hundred thousand tons of iron; which have been converted by skill and labour into 168 ships of 253,000 total tonnage.  These ships, if laid close together, would measure nearly eight miles in length.

    The advantage to the wage-earning class can only be shortly stated.  Not less than 34 per cent. is paid in labour on the cost of the ships turned out.  The number of persons employed in the works is 3,920; and the weekly wages paid to them is £4,000, or over £200,000 annually.  Since the commencement of the undertaking, about two millions sterling have been paid in wages.  All this goes towards the support of the various industries of the place.  That the working classes of Belfast are thrifty and frugal may be inferred from the fact that at the end of 1882 they held deposits in the Savings Bank to the amount of £230,289, besides £158,064 in the Post Office Savings Banks. [p.286]  Nearly all the better class working people of the town live in separate dwellings, either rented or their own property.  There are ten Building Societies in Belfast, in which industrious people may store their earnings, and in course of time either buy or build their own houses.

    The example of energetic, active men always spreads.  Belfast contains two other shipbuilding yards, both the outcome of Harland and Wolff's enterprise; those of Messrs. Macilwaine and Lewis, employing about four, hundred men, and of Messrs. Workman and Clarke, employing about a thousand.  The heads of both these firms were trained in the parent shipbuilding works of Belfast.  There is no feeling of rivalry between the firms, but all work together for the good of the town.

    In Plutarch's Lives, we are told that Themistocles said on one occasion, "'Tis true that I have never learned how to tune a harp, or play upon a lute, but I know how to raise a small and inconsiderable city to glory and greatness."  So might it be said of Harland and Wolff.  They have given Belfast not only a potency for good, but a world-wide reputation.  Their energies overflow.  Mr. Harland is the active and ever-prudent Chairman of the most important of the local boards, the Harbour Trust of Belfast, and exerts himself to promote the extension of the harbour facilities of the port as if the benefits were to be exclusively his own; while Mr. Wolff is the Chairman of one of the latest born industries of the place, the Belfast Rope-work Company, which already gives employment to over 600 persons.

    This last-mentioned industry is only about six years old.  The works occupy over seven acres of ground, more than six acres of which are under roofing.  Although the whole of the raw material is imported from abroad—from Russia, the Philippine Islands, New Zealand, and Central America—it is exported again in a manufactured state to all parts of the world.

    Such is the contagion of example, and such the ever-branching industries with which men of enterprise and industry can enrich and bless their country.  The following brief memoir of the career of Mr. Harland has been furnished at my solicitation; and I think that it will be found full of interest as well as instruction.


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