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of potatoes badly got, ever enter my house. I always kept the roof over them, and prevented their begging.” She never had any land; her landlord having taken from her, that which her husband held; but he left her the house, half of which was blown down, and in the remaining half, she still lived. She seemed cheerful and contented, but said, she had gone through unutterable hardships. “Many a time," said she, “a neighbor woman that lived with me, did not know that I had only eaten two or three potatoes that day, and, at night, I used to be up two or three times, when I could not sleep, thinking of my misfortunes, and looking out for the day-light to begin working."
Widow McCrow, another inhabitant of the north, stated, “ The rain comes in through the roof of my hut. I sleep on the ground, which is constantly wet, and have not so much straw as would fill a hat. I have but a single fold of a blanket to cover my whole family. I have had it for eight years. My children are naked. I have a lump on the shoulder, for which I cannot medical assistance.” It was agreed by all present, that few widows can be better than this woman.
The gentry, says the Report, scarcely ever assist the poor widows, but the laborers will often work a day for them gratis in building a hovel. Some of these widows have too much pride to beg, and pine in hopeless misery, in some wretched cabin. In the single parish of Killaloe, in the county of Clare, the R. C. Priest, speaks of sixty widows in this destitute state. “I had not,” says Mary Slattery,
a sod of turf to warm a drink for my sick child. All I had to-day, was four cold potatoes. The rain comes down through the roof, and my lodger never slept a wink last night, trying how to keep the bed clothes dry. As God knows my heart, I spent the night on the hearth-stone, crying and praying that God would look down on me and my children.”
As to laying by any thing when in employment, that is out of the question. ""No man,” says Mr. Donaugh, “could lay up any thing for his old age, unless he have an old lease. In other cases, there is no chance of it.?!
The effect of this wretched life, and diet, is too apparent, and cuts off the sufferers before the usual period of human life. Laborers usually break down at the age of fifty-five, from the effects of scanty food, and exposure to the weather. The same is reported of mechanics. If there is a bridge to be built, there will not be a man above fifty-five upon it. Poverty bends their spirits and breaks them down. It appears from the evidence, that the custom of supporting their parents, which used to be the pride of the Irish peasants, is decaying fast, from the pressure of the times, and incapacity. Laborers supporting their parents, are often reduced to one meal of dry potatoes. It
sometimes comes to counting the potatoes. Then, as the second family grows large, the daughter in-law begins to grumble.
She will not see her children starved to feed her husband's parents. “Being always at home, she is apt to find her husband's father in the way, and you will see the old man cowering in the chimney, as if he were endeavoring to hide himself from her.” An old man says himself, “the few potatoes I eat, sir, cannot do me good, for I am afraid they are grudged me, and what is more, I grudge them to myself, when I see so many mouths opening for them.” One witness states, that "the turning out of the father is so common, that the contrary is the exception."
The Rev. Mr. Gibson mentions the following case. wife and family of a man who had been respectable, died here of want, a short time since. They could not get any thing to eat at times, more than once in two days. They died rather than beg.” Such cases, alas! are by no means scarce. Mr. Riley says,
“two months ago, I saw an old woman eighty years of age, going over the bridge to beg her breakfast. When she got to the top, she stopped to rest herself, and, when I came up to her, she was dead.” Dr. Walsh, M. D., states, “that in his parish in Kildare, many have died of actual starvation.”
Yet, in a country where such scenes are daily passing, all the great land-owners, are averse to the introduction of poor laws, and for this most selfish reason, that the principal burden of supporting the poor, would, (as it ought,) fall upon themselves. It is curious to remark, that the farmers and shop-keepers, in a word, the middle and producing classes of the Irish community, approve of some system of poor laws, while the gentry as decidedly set their face against any such system. “The gentry never give to beggars,” says one of the witnesses, “high walls surround their demesnes, and a dog is kept at the gates to prevent the entrance of a beggar. Absentees, even in times of dearth, or infectious disease, send over nó subscriptions.” “They send over nothing but latitats and ejectments,” says the Rev. Mr. Burke. The evidence of Dr. Mc Hale, Á. C. Archbishop of Tuam, written by himself, is remarkable on this point. “The gentry,” says the Archbishop, “scarcely ever subscribe regularly for their support, even in the seasons of appalling distress, (1832 and '34,) there were individuals of large fortunes, who did not subscribe one shilling. The burden is thrown by the affluent gentry on their poorer neighbors; orders are often issued by the proprietors of large mansions, not to suffer such a nuisance as a beggar, to approach the gates. I could name the persons. The general opinion is favorable to a provision for the poor, in case the burden do not fall on those classes that are already taxed for their support. It is in vain to make a provision for the
poor, unless the property of the absentee, and the church lands are almost exclusively fixed with the amount; otherwise, such a provision would be no relief. All that could be gained by taxing the industrious classes, would be to make that compulsory which is now voluntary. If the properties of the absentees are taxed, and the church lands be re-appropriated to their original destination, a large fund, now lying idle, will be applied to the support of the people.”
In the examinations in the county of Longford, Mr. Ksaid, he represented the feelings of a great number, when he expressed himself “in favor of a support for the infirm, espepecially from a tax on absentees, one of whom draws £10,000 per annum from the county, and £3000 from the parish, without contributing any thing for the support of the poor.”
2. Under the head of “sick poor," we find that no relief exists for the poor, when sick or diseased.
If the disease be contagious, they are either put out of the cabin into a temporary hut, or the rest of the family leave it and them. Any nourishment the neighbors may give them, is left at the door, and the creatures crawl out to take it in. Many have been disabled for life, by scrambling out of bed to get what is left for them at the door. “The day before yesterday," says a witness, “ a woman coming from Galway, was taken ill on the road.' The people thought she had the cholera, and refused to let her into their houses. She lay by the side of a ditch and died in the morning." “Our diseases,” says Mr. Powel, “ are caused by cold, hunger, and nakedness. The poor man on regaining his appetite, finds nothing to eat. A little food would restore him, but he sinks for the want of it. People are constantly tapped for a dropsy arising from starvation.” “I have frequently," says Dr. Walsh,
found the sick lying on the bare damp ground, straw being considered a luxury which the pig only, which pays the rent, has a right to enjoy.” In some places, there are charitable loan funds; “but,” says a witness, “the gentry and landlords seldom subscribe.”
When we go to beg at a gentleman's house, says Pat Mitchell, beggarman, it is the wife that asks relief, and the answer frequently is, "go from the door, woman." The farmers are kindlier by far. It is the humble sort that live on the road-side, that are really good to us; but half the country, God help them ! have no Christianity in them at all.” Molamey says, that, in the mountains of this parish, when the potatoes fail them, they bleed the cattle, and eat the boiled blood, sometimes mixed with meal, but oftener without it; he has himself known the same beast to have been bled three times in one season ; they never bleed their cattle for this purpose, when
they can procure any other food; he says, “the mere laborers would not get a potatoe on credit; they would gladly take credit on any terms, if they could get it; they would promise any thing before they would beg, which some are obliged to do, and to leave their own place in shame. They take one journey by night before they begin, that they may save the exposure."
The Assistant Commissioners entered into the cabin of a woman laboring under the disease of water in the chest. She said, "I have not this morning been able to rise from that bed of straw. I felt a sort of gnawing about my heart. The only thing I had was these few potatoes, (pointing to some on the ground between her and a little girl, who had the small pox,) you see they are rotten the most of them, and all are wet.”
Yet these very people," says a respectable newspaper editor, sthus abandoned by wretches-fiends in the human shape, who call themselves landlords, exhibit some of the finest feelings that ever adorned the human heart.” When one has a tolerable coat, he lends it to a neighbor, that he may carry something to the market, and look decent. The Rev. Mr. Gibbon says, “when I go to a village to hold a station, one man comes to me, and confesses, and when he has done, goes out and lends his coat to a neighbor, that he may come in also; the very women do the same, and lend not only their cloak but their gown.”
Mary Carr, who is a widow, and who is rearing up a foundling, says, “the blanket that was on my bed, I cut up to make two little petticoats for the child. I do not know what kitchen
I am not able to buy a ha’ porth of milk in the fortnight, and have not tasted a herring these three months." This woman, says Mr. G. Cottingham, is a fair specimen of the widows of the parish.
In transcribing the above revolting statements, I have been almost led to feel ashamed of the order of intelligent beings to which I belong. It cannot but fill every feeling and well-principled mind with a holy indignation, that such scenes should be found to exist in a country that boasts of its religion, and requires so much money for its support. The facts are not the exaggerations of any political party; as they were publicly and minutely investigated, and are admitted by all parties to be substantially correct. They are corroborated by the statements of the late Mr. Inglis, in his " Journey throughout Ireland in 1834.” and, by all others who have lately visited that misgoverned, and unhappy country. At this very moment, hundreds of poor starving wretches have been ejected by their rich landlords, from the half acres and miserable hovels they occupied, in the midst of the most inclement season of the year, to wander through the country, houseless and forlorn, and
to perish of hunger and cold. One of the unfeeling miscreants, who acted as factor to some of the landlords, when remonstrated with on the dismal and destitute situation of the poor people, who were deprived of every shelter, and of every means of subsistence, had the fiendish effrontery to declare, that “they might go and EAT ONE ANOTHER, if they pleased."
Even the “Quarterly Review,” which is not generally very squeamish on such subjects, exhibits a becoming indignation at this picture. “ The wonder surely is, (says a writer in No. 109,) not that men become monsters under such circumstances; that they make war upon the world, and the world's law which neglects and oppresses them; that being left to the destitution of the savage, they exhibit his disposition, adopt his system of self-preservation, and disregard the first principles of society. No! the wonder is, that philosophers are found audacious enough to maintain that sufferings, such as we have related, should remain unrelieved, in order to keep up the charitable sympathies of the people for each other, uncontaminated by the odious interference of a legal provision for the destitute.” And again, the social virtues are stifled in an atmosphere of such misery and selfishness, for the instinct of self-preservation overpowers every other feeling."
Perhaps there are few instances of covetousness more palpable and odious, than are displayed in reference to the facts that have been now stated. It is a striking feature connected with these facts-that, while thousands of poor creatures are living in roofless huts, with nothing but a cold damp floor to lie upon, and not even enough of a few rotten potatoes for their food, -the nobility, gentry, and rich landlords, seldom contribute in the least, to relieve their misery, while none are more loud in their bawlings about religion, and the support of the church. It is a most unhappy and unnatural state of society, that when thousands are revelling in the midst of luxury and debauchery, there should be tens of thousands immediately around them, suffering every privation, and many of them absolutely perishing for want in the midst of plenty and splendor. That such scenes should be daily realized in a country blessed with fertility, and a fine climate; in a country where so much wealth is lavished in folly and extravagance, and where so many enormous pensions and sinecures are enjoyed, both from the church and the state, cannot but fill every generous mind with swelling indignation. Here is surely a fine opportunity for wealthy gentlemen of benevolent feelings, to come forward and display their generosity. What might hin. der them from purchasing some of the Irish moors, and mosses, and wastes, and setting thousands of the laboring poor to bring them into a state of cultivation, and to rear for themselves comfortable habitations ? The blessing of thousands ready to perish would rest upon them, and their own hearts would feel a