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the actual starvation of hundreds, a public meeting was held, and a subscription entered into. An investigation followed, and laid open scenes of the most aggravated misery. In a town of 5000 inhabitants, 1800 were found in a state of starvation. Of these, 1200 were unemployed labourers and their families; the remaining 600 consisted of the aged, the infirm, widows and their children. Besides the 1800 in the town, nearly 1200 more were in destitution in the immediately surrounding country. These facts are well worthy the attention of those who are hostile to any system of poor laws.
On the Duke of Devonshire's property at Lismore, ejectments, with their attendant cruelties, are unknown. I am sorry I cannot say so much for many other landlords. 'I am deucedly fatigued this morning,' said an attorney, upon whom a lady called one Monday morning: 'Yesterday we had some tough work; thirty-eight ejectments to put into effect, and a world of trouble they cost us; so tenacious were some of the people, that we had to pull down the roofs about their ears.'
Marriages, in the south-western district, are contracted at an earlier age than in any part that I had ever visited. Fourteen and thirteen are common ages for the marriage of girls ; fifteen is not considered at all an early age ; and there are instances of their having been contracted at so early an age as twelve. I am far from saying that these early marriages are universally encouraged by the Catholic priesthood for the sake of the fees; it is, however, frequently the case.
At the Tralee sessions, which I attended, there were 1470 causes entered for judgment, and this was not considered a heavy list! Seventyseven of this number were ejectments, and the tremendous remainder was chiefly made up of breaches of contract-indicating, I fear, a woeful lack of veracity and just dealing, and a most indomitable spirit of litigi. ousness. Nor was I less struck with the list of criminal cases handed to me. One hundred and ninety-nine criminal cases at a quarter sessions, for one half of the remote county of Kerry!!—and of these, 174 cases implying the undue exercise of physical force!! The chief source of this crime is in the spirit of clanship—arising from assemblages of persons who fight with, and maim, and kill each other. These factions create far more disturbance and bloodshed than any of the associations for illegal purposes. I was in this county at the time of the memorable affair of Balybunian, when nearly two score persons were driven into the Shannon, and drowned, and knocked on the head like so many dogs. Such premeditated fights ought to be put down by the strong hand of the law. The great causes of these disturbances are the same as those which answer to the call of political agitation-imperfect civilization, and want of employment. I have little doubt that healing measures, coupled with an extensive and practicable system of education, and aided by a strong police, will gradually diminish the necessity for special measures of coercion. Let Government act with moderation ; let the tithe question be settled ; let the extremes of all parties be discouraged; let Irish interests not be sacrificed to a paltry economy; let the infirm and the aged poor be cared for; let the superabundant labour of Ireland be employed on her extensive wastes; let public works be undertaken; let agitation for all dishonest purposes be firmly met, and agitators scorned ; let the Church be wisely but thoroughly reformed; let the Government show a sympathy with the real evils of the country,
and a determination--spite of landlords-spite of Church dignitaries spite of agitators of all kinds—to do justice, and Ireland will continue but a little while longer, the distracted, poverty-stricken, crushed, and unhappy land which a century of neglect and misgovernment has made it.
In the country between Tralee and Listowel, the children which I saw standing about the cabin doors, or tending the pigs or goats, appeared altogether regardless of covering; several I noticed with nothing but shirts, apparently unconscious that clothes were any comfort; and one boy with neither shirt nor any nether garments whatever, with nothing but a jacket, and a great rose stuck in the button-hole.
I attended the assizes at Ennis : the sight was most painful. The most numerous class of cases are homicides perpetrated at fairs, called fair murders, by rival clans. Want of veracity is almost universal ;-if positive falsehood will serve the end of faction, it is resorted to unblushingly, and on the largest scale. The most striking defect of character exhibited at an Irish assize, is a perfect contempt of human suffering, and an utter disregard of the value of human life. Weapons of the most deadly description are brought into court as evidence-sticks and whips loaded with lead, and stones that might crush the head of a horse. The same ferocity which was exhibited at the fight is brought into court; false oaths are substituted for weapons; and by these, witnesses seek to avenge the death of a relative, who has been more unfortunate, but probably not less criminal, than the accused,
In Limerick, I spent a day in visiting those parts of the city where the greatest destitution is said to exist. I entered upwards of forty of the abodes of poverty; and to the latest hour of my existence I can never forget the scenes of utter and hopeless wretchedness that presented themselves. Some of the abodes I visited were garrets; some were cellars; some were hovels on the ground floor, situated in narrow yards or alleys. I will not speak of the filth of the places; that could not be exceeded in places meant to be its receptacles. Let the worst be imagined, and it will not be beyond the truth. In at least three-fourths of the hovels which I entered, there was no furniture of any description, save an iron pot—no table, no chair, no bench, no bedstead ; two, three, or four little bundles of straw, with, perhaps, one or two scanty and ragged matts, were rolled up in the corners, unless where these beds were found occupied. The inmates were some of them old, crooked, and diseased; some younger, but emaciated, and surrounded by starving children; some were sitting on the damp ground, some standing, and many were unable to rise from their little straw-heaps. In scarcely one hovel could I find even a potato. In one which I entered, I noticed a small opening leading into an inner room. I lighted a bit of paper at the embers of a turf which lay in the chimney, and looked in. It was a cellar wholly dark, and about twelve feet square : two bundles of straw lay in two corners ; on one, sat a bed-ridden woman; on another, lay two naked children, literally naked, with a torn rag of some kind thrown over them both. But I saw even worse than this. In a cellar which I entered, and which was almost quite dark, and slippery with damp, I found a man sitting on a little sawdust. He was naked : he had not even a shirt; a filthy and ragged matt was round him. This man was a living skeleton; the bones all but protruded through the skin : he was literally starving:
In place of forty hovels, I might have visited hundreds. In place of seeing, as I did, hundreds of men, women, and children in the last state of destitution, I might have seen thousands. I entered the alleys, and visited the hovels, and climbed the stairs at a venture; I did not select; and I have no reason to believe that the forty which I visited, were the abodes of greater wretchedness than the hundreds which I passed by. I saw also another kind of destitution. The individuals I have yet spoken of were aged, infirm, or diseased : but there was another class fast approaching infirmity and disease, but yet able and willing to earn their subsistence. I found many handloom weavers, who worked from five in the morning till eight at night, and received from a task-master from half-a-crown to four shillings a-week. Many of these men had wives and families ; and I need scarcely say, that confinement, labour, scanty subsistence, and despair, were fast reducing these men to the condition of the others, upon whom disease and utter destitution had already laid their hands. The subsistence of these men consisted of one scanty meal of dry potatoes daily.
I will only add one other instance of destitution. Driving in the neighbourhood of Limerick, on the Adair road, in company with a medical gentleman, the apparition of a man suddenly appeared by the side of our car. The gentleman who accompanied me knew him : he had been a stone-breaker, but had become infirm, and at length utterly disabled by disease from labour : his cabin was close by; and we ascertained that he and his family had subsisted during the last three days on the leaves of that yellow-flowered weed which grows among corn, and which is boiled and eaten with a little salt. I think I have already mentioned the use of this weed for a similar purpose, by the destitute poor of Kilkenny; or, if I have not, I ought to have done so.
I think it is impossible for me to select a better opportunity than this, to advert briefly to a topic, on which I have not hitherto offered any direct observations. I look to the disputed question, whether there be, or be not, a necessity for some legal provision for the poor : and I confess, that with such scenes before me as I have at this moment, it does seem to me an insult to humanity and common sense to doubt the neccessity to which I allude. I might carry the reader back with me, to gather arguments from Kilkenny, Waterford, Cashel; and, indeed, from almost every town, village, and hamlet, that has lain on my way ; but the situation of the poor of Limerick is at this moment fresh in my memory; and I ask any man of ordinary intelligence, whether such a state of things can or ought to be allowed to continue ? Why should Lord Limerick, in Ireland, be exempt from the duty which Lord Limerick, in England, must perform? Why, under the same government, should men be allowed to starve in one division of the empire, and not in another?
I found, in one part of the county of Longford, great want of accommodation for the Protestant congregation. I allude to the parish of the Union of Kilglass. There is monstrous abuse here. The bishop is rector, and draws from four to five hundred pounds per annum; and yet there is no church or Protestant service in the parish. His lordship, on being respectfully written to on the subject, replied, that there was service in the next parish.
I found great want of employment at Balinasloe ; eight pence, without diet, was the highest rate of wages; and many laboured for six pence,
but even at this full employment was not to be had. A gentleinan offered to procure, on an hour's warning, a couple of hundred labourers at four pence, even for temporary employment.
I had an opportunity of conversing with many landlords in Galway, and regretted to find among them little sympathy with the poor. I also found amongst them generally the greatest terror of any legislative provision for the poor. The great cause of this and of the oppression of the landlords throughout the west of Ireland, is the improvidence of the upper classes. So many of them are distressed men, that their own necessities force them to be hard on their tenants, and prompt them to grasp at the highest rent offered. Thus every class which lives by land becomes necessitous : improvements, where every shilling is wanted by the farmer to pay his rent, and by the landlord to keep his head above water, are impossible: and the labour-market being overstocked, the necessities of the poor are taken advantage of.
Literature is at a very low ebb in Galway. No regular bookseller's shop is to be found in this town, containing between 30,000 and 40,000 inhabitants. I need scarcely say that the town contains no public or circulating library; and I could not learn that, either in the town or in its neighbourhood, any private book society existed.
Among the country people in Ireland, there is less affection between man and wife than adorns domestic life in the humbler spheres on the other side of the channel. Marriage is not among these classes in Ireland, what it is among the like classes in England. It is seldom the result of long-tried affection; but either a rash step taken by unthinking children, or a mercenary bargain, in which the woman has little voice, and in which her partner is actuated solely by sordid views.
Antrim is perhaps the only county in Ireland in which there is any thing approaching to a yeomanry; there are found a considerable number of large farmers, who hold land in perpetuity, at very low rents; and these form a respectable and useful class of men, standing in the place of the substantial English farmer, and conferring upon the districts where they live all the benefits which arise from resident landlords.
On approaching Belfast, a different scene presented itself from what Ireland generally displays. Within the town, and without the town, the proofs of prosperity are equally striking. No mud cabins, no poor cottages, and neither in the streets nor in the suburbs is the eye arrested by objects of compassion. There is, in fact, no trace of an Irish population among any class: the lower orders are not ragged and starving; the middle and upper classes are not loungers and men of pleasure. I visited many of the houses of the common people, and found no complaint of want of work; and I am inclined to think that all the healthy and industrious labourers can afford to live in tolerable comfort. The number of infirm and diseased poor bears no comparison with the infirm pauper population of Limerick.
Our author sums up his evidence in the shape of a Report,' with extracts from which we conclude this painful survey of the sister country :
I have minutely inquired into the condition of the people of Ireland, and do report that the destitute, infirm, and aged, form a large body of the population of the cities, towns, and villages of Ireland ; that in the judgment of those best qualified to know the truth, three-fourths of their number die through the effects of destitution, either by the decay of nature, accelerated or through disease-induced by scanty and unwholesome food, or else by the attack of epidemics, rendered more fatal from the same causes ; that the present condition of this large class is shocking for humanity to contemplate, and beyond the efforts of private beneficence to relieve ; that the individuals, whose charity prolongs for a little the existence of these miserable objects of their compassion, are not the persons whose improvidence, harshness, sordidness, and neglect, have contributed to swell the mass of pauperism-nor those who possess the chief property in towns nor those who are best able to help the indigent; and that, in these circumstances, it becomes an imperative, urgent, and sacred duty, to provide by legislative enactment for the support, on equitable principles, of the aged, impotent, and infirm poor of Ireland; that the condition of the agricultural labourers, throughout Ireland, is scarcely less deplorable than that of the class to which I have just alluded; that the supply of labour incalculably exceeds the demand for it; that but a very small proportion of this class are able to find constant employment; that a large proportion are unemployed during one half of the whole year; that the wages of labour, even to those who are fully employed, do not afford the means of healthy subsistence; that almost the whole of this class live on the verge of starvation, and that thereby hourly additions are made to the ranks of impotent pauperism; that millions of acres in Ireland are reclaimable by the agency of those very materials in which Ireland the most abounds-human labour and limestone; that since such is the condition of the labouring classes, and such the means of improving that condition, it is the duty of government to encourage the cultivation of waste lands, by means of others, or to take upon itself the right of operating upon the reclaimable wastes of Ireland, and to colonise those wastes for the benefit of the people.
THE CLAIM OF UNITARIANS TO THE NAME OF CHRISTIAN.' • UNITARIANS are not Christians'—the cry long raised by the less-informed of the religious world—is now taken up by persons whose character and education would seem to have afforded a guarantee of better things. We would not scrutinize too narrowly the motives which may have led to this outburst of illiberality; for, whether actuated or not by a desire to disarm a troublesome opponent, or the still less worthy desire of diverting property from channels in which it has from the first flowed, the parties themselves, in all probability, are but little aware of the exact nature of the inducements under which they act; and while a stranger can hardly be better circumstanced than they themselves for detecting their promptings, he may incur the blame of erecting himself into a judge without authority, and of falling into the very error which he deplores.