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Published Excerpts


Sherborne Mercury, 1 November 1841, p.3 col.5 (pdf image).
An abridged except from Emigration Fields (pp.67-9) which notes that Ireland is overpopulated and vulnerable to typhus and starvation should a crop fail, and proposes the emigration of “a million of the Irish population” to Texas. This would “strengthen the Mexican government against their American neighbours”, and foster Mexican-British relationships and trade. Matthew was writing in the belief that Texas was a province of Mexico, but in fact between 1836-1846 it was an independent republic.

The prediction of an Irish famine proved to be prescient, in view of the Irish Great Famine in 1845. A pre-emptive mass emigration of the Irish did not take place of course, but a consequent one did (though not to Texas!). The excerpt omits a footnote in the original text which states even more strongly the necessity for an emigration to take place: “The removal of a great number of the Irish population is absolutely necessary. If something extensive in this way be not done, a convulsion may be expected.” (a “convulsion” was a term Matthew used for a great social upheaval).

EMIGRATION.— A correspondent sends us a quotation from a work entitled, “Emigration Fields,” written by Patrick Matthew. The author says “Ireland is now teeming with a very numerous, and a greatly over-abundant population, so situated, that a deficient crop is generally or always followed with a pestilent typhus, which carries off vast numbers, in consequence of the extreme reduction of bodily vigour, caused by starvation; and from the rapid increase of population now going on, the effects of a scanty crop are the more to be dreaded. The Texas province, in Mexico, would be a most desirable emigration field for our poor and destitute fellow-subjects. The emigration of a million of Irish population, as settlers, with their priests, would be a very great relief to the Irish remaining at home, and the emigrants, if properly encouraged and assisted at first, would find themselves in an earthly paradise; the Irish, being also, like the Mexicans, Roman Catholics, they would strengthen the Mexican government against their American neighbours, and foreign powers, and be of the greatest advantage to British industry, as Mexico, on account of her vast internal riches, is one of the very best customers for British manufactures; and alliance with Mexico, would secure the British power in the West Indies. Texas abounds in pasture, the soil is most productive, and a few days journey up the beautiful rivers, are the interior valleys, healthy, and every way advantageous for a settler, now lying almost desolate, for want of sufficient inhabitants to cultivate them. There the possessor of land, with a small capital, would soon become independent and wealthy, especially as the labour of the natives may be obtained at very low wages; forming a complete contrast to the situation of the emigrant to the North American states, or Canada, where the scarcity of labourers renders it necessary for the settler and his family to undertake nearly all the most laborious work, on the farm, generally in an unhealthy, exposed, and uncomfortable position. Such is also, most particularly the case in Sidney and Australia, as may be seen by the last accounts of the wages paid to the commonest labourers and servants, immediately on their arrival, being quite equal per day, to the wages paid in England per week. The inference from this statement is, that Australia is the most advantageous colony for servants and labourers to proceed to, but that Central America, possesses incalculable advantages for the small or large capitalist, agriculturist, manufacturer and merchant.”

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