Whilst we were guided by the healthy traditions of our own race, we fed on solid food—oatmeal, specially suited to our climate, being a heat-producer, a bone-builder and a tissue-former, rich milk, butter, vegetables and home-cured bacon. What a poor substitute for these luscious foods are the weak white bread and thin cup of tea! The Scotsman has stuck to his national diet; he has done more, he has forced his porridge on the bill of fare of every first-class English hotel.
[Side note: Activity I]
Could not the curate, from the lecture platform, in the school and in private conversation, drive home to the people and open their eyes to the suicide they are committing? I know one priest who gets every farmer in his parish to sow every year a quarter acre of oats for home use. Could not others do the same?
[Side note: Drink]
The second cause is Drink. On this question I shall content myself with quoting a few statistics. They supply melancholy food for reflection.
In 1899, out of every three placed in the dock for drunkenness in the capital of this Catholic country one was a woman. I think you may search the world for a more shameless exhibition.
Out of every thousand of the general population in England, fifty persons are arrested for drunkenness; out of every thousand of the general population in Ireland, one hundred and forty-three. In other words, we produce almost three convicted drunkards to their one. And still we plume ourselves on our superior virtue.
Our total income from agriculture, the staple industry of the country, is forty millions. On this, mainly, the nation has to live. Yet before a penny is touched for food, clothing or education, almost fourteen out of the forty millions are handed over to the sellers of drink.
Within fifteen years we lost half a million of our people, but we consoled ourselves by opening eleven hundred and seventy-five new public-houses within the same period.
[Side note: Activity II]
To these figures I shall not add one word: it would only weaken the argument. Will any one deny that the young priest has here an ample field for his zeal and energy, and a splendid opportunity of proving himself the reformer and saviour of the people?
[Side note: Emigration]
The third, most powerful source of lunacy, is Emigration. It may seem a paradox to say that the lessening of our people must naturally mean the increase of insanity. When we say the country loses forty thousand of its inhabitants yearly, we make but a partial statement of the case. Whom do we lose? Not the average class—the youth, and the youth only go. Two consequences follow. A boy, when he has arrived at his eighteenth year, has cost the country two hundred pounds, and a girl one hundred and fifty. Up to that time they were consumers, they produced little. This enables us to arrive at the appalling fact that Ireland every year pours seven millions worth of human cargo into the emigrant ship.