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cumstances was inevitable ..... and many perished*.

With the existence of this mass of want and mendicity, this food of the lowest denomination, this shelter worse than that of the wild beasts, this “ looped and windowed raggedness,” the question naturally arises,—what prevents them in ordinary years from perishing by famine?

The answer is an astounding one:—Principally the relief they obtain from the poor themselves.

The produce of the potatoe, being very abundant, is more than equal to the supply of the whole population ; no part of it can be preserved beyond the year, and, therefore, only the seed potatoe is required ; and consequently, as not inore than one man in six can find constant work, those who have no land find their food from the humanity of their fellow creatures of their own class, and those a little above them in life. Many never abide two nights in the same place, but beg and obtain a lodging and a meal, and there are many who live wholly on charity. Many who underlet their land are very charitable to the poor creatures to whom they let it; and in the cases of absentees many middle-men are kind, , goodnatured, and humane to their under-tenants -Protestants and Catholics equally so*. In 1817

* Lords' Evidence, 1825, p. 93.

and 1818 there was some relief from Government, but the landed gentry gave very little.

But the alṁost roofless hovel, with its straw door and chinky window, for a shelter, and the dry potatoe for food, provide only for the lowest animal wants, and prevent only that which is not always the greatest of evils, immediate starvation by hunger and cold.—Not only the wandering mendicant who begs the food and shelter, but the humble peasant who bestows them, such as they are, are liable to the common chances of mortality, to internal disease, and to external casualties.

It was long after the time in which that unavailing system of proselyting Ireland had commenced by the establishment of the Protestant Charter Schools, and the lavish expenditure which ensued upon it, that the public purse was called on to assist private charity in the support of hospitals or infirmaries, and the grant* was limited to 1001. annually in each county ; but in 1805 the exigencies of the poor as to medical and surgical relief were so pressing, that not only was the sum authorized to be raised by legal assessments augmented to 5001. per annum, but the necessity of bringing medical assistance nearer to the poor, enforced the further powers of granting, in aid of any dispensaries established or to be established by private subscriptions, a sum equal to the amount of such subscriptions *.

* 5 Geo. III. cap. 20.

These establishments were put under the more immediate direction of the presiding Government of Ireland, by rendering the governors and directors responsible for the expenditure, and subject to superintendence of public officers f. But in less than twelve years after the passing of these Acts, and the permanent establishment of them, disease and misery, and consequent death, forced itself so strongly upon the public attention, that more effectual remedies were loudly called for. These circumstances were the failure of the

potatoe crop in 1816-17, and the consequent increase of the fever in all parts of Ireland. Fortunately, in reference to this subject there exists a Medical Report of great value*, from which I shall extract facts strongly illustrative of the state of Ireland in this respect.

The fever became contagious in consequence of the crowds of mendicants who flocked from the country parishes into the towns, and there the fever continued to rage with great violence for a long time. Its effect was more fatal to the rich when attacked, than to the poor ; but of the former few comparatively suffered, for having good food, and being able to keep themselves * 45 Geo. III. cap. 91.

+ 46 Geo. III. cap. 95. # Dr. Barker's and Cheyne's Account of Fever in 1817.


distinct—and the military, whose food also was better, and who were kept under closer medical superintendence,-in a great degree escaped the contagion: even among the poorer sort, where employment could be found, the fever was less pernicious, particularly where cleanliness was secured by actual superintendence. It appears also that where a regular and systematic plan of prevention or relief was adopted, the fever was less violent in its attacks, and of shorter duration.

The Quaker colony of Ballitore, the towns of Kells, Dundalk, Ross-trevor, Magheravelt, Tullamore, and Portarlington, and many towns in Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, where there were resident gentry, are especially enumerated. Dublin too, where not only large subscriptions were entered into, but where there was active and benevolent superintendence, particularly by the Association in St. Peter's parish, suffered less than the country at large. Disgraceful, indeed, would it have been to the last-named city if this had not been the case, where, in addition to the means above stated, a Fever Hospital had been established in 1804, and where, in four years from its first establishment, the annual Parliamentary grant had advanced from 5001. to 40001.

In some parts of the country, where the fever was most effectually checked or prevented, the exclusion of beggars was deliberately proposed, and in some degree effected; but on the contrary in the remoter districts of Munster and Connaught, where these previous steps were not taken, and the evil not anticipated, the fever raged with the greatest violence*. But let it not be forgotten, this state of aggravated misery and distress called forth from all classes of the higher or middle orders of society resident in Ireland, the virtues which dignify and adorn human nature. Protestant and Catholic, clergy and laity, united in this great work; "the Protestant clergy as members of committees, as directors of dispensaries, independent of their charitable donations of food, straw and other necessaries; the latter in their zealous personal attendance, and their distribution of money, food, or medicines p. But their exertions did not rest there; many of both persuasions perished in consequence of their communication with the sick *; in the county of Kerry alone, ten of the latter died J. Nor were their good works thrown away on an undeserving or ungrateful people.

They suffered much, but bore it with fortitude, struggled with privation without murmuring, and encountered great distress without repiningl. Nothing could exceed the deplorable state of misery of the lower orders, but the equa

I I. 420.

* II. 37-94.
$ II. 39.

+ II. 103.
11 I. 339.

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