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minent in the extraordinary distresses of 1817 and 1822, when, as we learn from the testimony of an eye-witness, “associations of gentlemen acting together upon the spur of the occasion, fulfilled all the purposes of the parochial administration of England *”.

A gentleman long resident in the country, intimately acquainted with the gentry and tenantry, sees the poor dying on the sides of the road, sustained in their last hours only by the casual donations they receive ; and great numbers of the most destitute, those who are the most real objects of relief, who do not go out to beg, deprived of the assistance they would get by the great claim of the itinerant mendicant :-he thinks a system of relief practicable, and that there would be found in every parish competent persons to direct itt:

In the towns and cities, habits of business su-'s perinduced by mercantile pursuits generally produce plenty of intelligent and active men, who can, and do with ease, conduct and direct establishments of a charitable nature ; and I think it my duty, from my own observation, to mention the members of the religious sect called Friends or Quakers, whom I always found co-operating in every useful work of that kind. But in the

* Lords' Evidence, 1825 : p. 141. $ Ibid. p. 559.

# For a striking instance of the sound political foresight of an eminent member of the Society of Friends, see Appendix C.

country, the ordinary components must be principally the Protestant and Catholic clergymen. In the south of Ireland the former partake more of the character of the country-gentleman; and their moral influence, from the paucity of Protestants, inust of course be superior to their spiritual. But that, when these influences are properly combined, the effects which follow are most creditable to human nature, the facts which have been stated in evidence, and which have been confirmed to me by unexceptionable testimony on the spot, will prove. It is like the refreshing view of the green oasis in the arid desert of Irish misery, to know that in one of the remotest districts in Ireland, in an union of two parishes * which contain 6647 acres, with a population of about twelve thousand individuals, there has not been an instance of disorder from time immemorial; that in 1798, when the rebellion was raging, the Catholic clergyman who presided there, called on his flock to go before a magistrate and take the oath of allegiance. And at a subsequent period, when some outrage was committed within the district, they requested the present Roman Catholic priest to take them before a magistrate, to enable them to disclaim on oath the imputation thrown upon them, which afterwards proved to be unfounded.

Moyferta and Killballyhone in the union of Kilrush.


This was owing to good landlords in a great degree, to long leases held directly from the landlord, and to a mutual co-operation between the Protestant and Roman Catholic clergymen, of whom the former had been rector forty-six years, and who frequently forgave the arrear of tithes on the representation of the latter *. In these parishes, indeed, there existed nothing but the customary collections usual in every chapel for the relief of the poor: but that the ordinary and every-day wants of the poor may be provided for systematically, appears in another part of the same evidence, which states that the parochial assessment † was tried and was successful, and would have been fully so had it been legalized. It was at the instance of the Catholic priest, that houses were taken for the widows and infirm persons, that ground was allowed and cultivated with tatoes for their support at the expense of the farmers, and that the wandering beggars were sent away unrelieved: but the neighbouring pa

* Lords' Evidence, 1825 : p. 130. The situation of this parish is on the northern entrance of the river Shannon, in the county of Clare, in what is called the Loop’s Head. The Protestant clergyman is named (if he yet lives) Irwin Whitty; the present parish-priest Malachi Duggan, who made a journey to London solely for the purpose of expressing to the gentlemen who composed the Committee for Irish relief, in 1822-3, his thanks and those of his suffering people, many of whom would have died had it not been afforded.

+ In the parish of Whitechurch, county Tipperary.



rishes did not support him, and the plan fell to the ground. It was, however, proved to the satisfaction of the gentleman from whose evidence the above facts are taken, that if the system had continued, there would have been a considerable saving to the farmers, not only in what they gave,

but also in the robberies and thefts committed on them by beggars *.

This last-named evidence, although only of an insulated fact and experiment, corroborates the opinions given as it were incidentally in every report or statement from which I have quoted. A respectable evidence, too, whose opinions are adverse to the introduction of Poor Laws, does not found his objections on the difficulty of finding persons to manage the system ;. for he thinks the English Highway Acts (13 Geo. III. and its amendments) might be safely applied to Ireland, placing the administration in vestries and surveyors, under the control of magistratest.

And this principle has begun to be recognised by the legislature, by the Act 59 Geo. III. cap. 41, which empowers the inhabitants of any city or town in which the population amounts to one thousand or upwards, to establish officers of health, to secure constant attention to the

prevention of contagious diseases, principally by removing beggars from the same, and raising a fund by parochial assessments, to defray their expenses, although their own labour is gratuitous.

* Lords' Evidence, 1824 : p. 220. + 16th March 1825 : p. 177.

The principle also has been recognised to a certain degree by the Acts *, which rendered it necessary for the parish in which a deserted child is found, to pay 5l. and the expenses of its maintenance and conveyance to the Foundling Hospital at Dublin.

The earlier statutes direct that annual vestries should be held, and overseers then elected, who shall provide for the maintenance and education of such children, by assessment on houses. The first Act of was confined to the cities of Ireland, (except Dublin and Cork,) and for which provision was made by particular Acts of parliament: but the second extended its provisions to every parish in Ireland.

Previously to the passing the latter Acts, the General Hospital in Dublin received them in an open basket; but the mismanagement and loss of life consequent thereon, called for parliamentary interference. I have alluded in my former work to this system, of which I hope the abuses have been subsequently corrected.-In Ireland, indeed, the case of illegitimate children is most unfortunate: a bastard is the child of no person. In

* 6 Geo. IV. cap. 102 ; and 7 & 8 Geo. IV. cap. 36.(Irish.) + 11 & 12 Geo. III. cap. 15. (Irish.) I 13 & 14 Geo. III. (Irish.)

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