In answer to remarks by J. O’C. in yesterday’s Tribune, we would say it was never intended to speak of ingratitude as a trait peculiar, or peculiarly ascribed to, the Irish. The writer had in mind remarks such as are made by the employer about the employed generally. It did not seem to us that in attempting to show the groundlessness of such objections to plans of improvement, we took part in casting the imputation on any class of persons. It is our belief that under associative principles, New Jerusalem principles, Christian principles or any other that assert the right of every man to justice, and even to a charitable examination into the motives that have influenced his conduct and the circumstances that have made him what he is, the charge of ingratitude would almost wholly disappear. This charge is generally made by inconsiderate and selfish persons, who overrate the trifling benefits they confer, because they are not capable of doing as they would be done by—a rule transcendental in most men’s eyes, and yet proposed by the head of the European and American Church as the only safe practical one for all men.
This is in substance what the writer meant to express in the communication referred to by J. O’C. We have never heard Irish domestics or laborers especially spoken of as ungrateful, but have heard this reproach cast upon all laborers, who being tolerably well treated, or instructed with some care, did not improve, were willing to change their place, deceived their employer, or in any way disappointed hopes and claims we consider unreasonable and unjust. We have a great deal of personal acquaintance with the lower Irish, and have found them unusually affectionate and unduly grateful for trifling kindnesses. Like all uncultivated men, their impulses are often superficial; this is because in a soil that has not been opened to the sun and air, new roots do not so easily strike deep: but again we know several instances where the native strength of the soil reared the generous growth, without need of culture. We hope we have now made our meaning clear. Since we did not before, as must often be the case in rapidly written articles for a daily paper, where the form and space permit only to seize on salient points of large themes, we cannot fail to thank those who give an opportunity to correct false impressions. Especially in this case, it would have grieved us to be supposed to injure those we were anxious to serve.*
“The Irish Character.” New-York Daily Tribune, 24 July 1845, p. 1.