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prone to argue with something of the temper of the Cardinal Mazarin, who, when a poor man, appealing to him, said, "Sir, I must exist," is reported to have replied, that he did not see any necessity that he should. Society depends upon the principle that all shall live. I sicken when I listen to the owners of thousands making speeches upon the impropriety of early marriages, and the multiplication of the poor in Ireland, as though, instead of a fertile land, the country was a besieged town, where policy might propose some scheme "to vent their musty superfluity." Prudence and humanity may wish to restrain the birth of beggars but the North American savage, who is condemned to a life of misery by her stronger husband, whose toils and privations are such as often to induce her to put to death her female offspring, that they may not live to endure the hardships of her lot, goes only a short step far ther than these legislators, who, in stead of removing the causes of poverty, sternly denounce it as the just and necessary consequence of youthful unious-and, unmindful of the strongest impulses and the tenderest feelings of the heart, desire the poor to remain unwedded till the brightest season of life has passed away. I doubt if, in every view of the question, they are not mistaken; and, I believe, the only effect their doctrine produces is that of hardening the hearts of the rich, and turning men's thoughts from devising means for alleviating that which they prefer declaring irremediable. I believe there has not been one unit the less in the increasing number of our population, for all that Mr. Malthus and his followers have written.
I live within nineteen miles of Dublin, and personally know nothing of the most wretched parts of Ireland; yet what I see here you would
scarcely credit. This is quite a corn district, which, of course, is favoura ble in affording employment; the neighbouring fishing towns, although they have but few boats in comparison to what you might suppose their proximity to the Dublin market would support, still maintain a considerable number of families, so that anything I can relate to you will, in fact, convey no sample of what really is the degree of suffering poverty in Ireland, I believe some political economists say that the Roman Catholic religion is productive of mendicity; whether it is so or not I shall not examine; but it most andoubtedly fosters a degree of charity which is equally striking as the want which it relieves, I am told nearly all the families of the men who go to England and Scotland for the harvest, live, during the absence of their husbands and fathers, by begging-and I can well credit it from what I see here. You will meet a woman with scarcely any other clothes than a patched and ragged cloak, followed by three or four children-generally, indeed, with one of them on her back-a tin kettle and a small sack carried by the biggest ;-she tells you her hus band "is gone to look work; she has tired out her own people; or she has none to look to her; and she is walking the world, begging her bit, for God's sake ;"* and she will often return at night to the tempora ry lodging she has secured, with her sack full of potatoes, which may have been collected from the small farm. ers, or by twos and threes at the houses of the poorest inhabitants. I know several widows who have, for a constancy, entirely existed, toget her with their children, on the benevolence of their neighbours. "Looking their bit," is a regular phrase to denote this way of living. But imagine what it is!-the scanty meal of cold potatoes, or the wretch
*We have heard before of this phrase, as used by the Irish poor; and have ever considered it as one of the most striking instances of that poetry of expression by which they are distinguished from our own lower classes. There cannot be a stronger or more brief description of that state of utter destitution and abandonment, which makes all places alike, than those four words-to walk the world.-ED.
ed fire, which is made of "sprigs," (that is, bits of forze pulled from the few fences that offer even that,) and morsels of manure, which have been dried to supply the fuel necessary to boil the small refuse potatoes which they glean, if I may so term it, from the general digging of the neighbouring crops !Think of such a family, on a winter's day, wandering along the country with not always the degree of covering necessary for decency, never that sufficient for warmth ;-look at the bare legs, mottled blue with cold, and scarred with burns which they have scarcely felt, when, in their eagerness to profit by the permission to warm themselves, they have almost put their limbs into the fire!-The mother deploring the existence of her children, and looking with double sadness at the inclemency of a day of storm, when they must remain within their cabin, destitute both of food and warmth their bed, on which they try to sleep away some of the hours of misery, a heap of worn-out straw, without other covering than the tattered cloak, a piece of an old sack, or, may be, the remains of a blauket, which you would think too vile a rag to hang out amongst your peas as a scarecrow! This is no fancy-drawn picture-I know several families equally destitute.
fore, you need not wonder is placed at their door, for it is their riches, will frequently procure them land on which to set potatoes, that will chiefly support them through the year. Farmers give their worn-out quarter or half-quarter of an acre of land to those who can manure it; and if, by labour and the sale of the pig, the rent of the cabin has been paid, and enough potatoes procured for seed, the man is in a thriving state, aud his family, though, in the spring of the year, they may have subsisted on one meal a day, and are never halfclad, may still be considered very well off.
The scantiness or abundance of the potatoe crop is the chief criterion of the degree of starvation which is to be the lot of the majority. The farmers give in proportion; and the poor who have them of their own, or who purchase them, equally depend for comfortable subsistence on their abundance. In years where they have failed, I have known families, of which the father enjoys constant employment every day in the year, reduced to one meal in the twenty-four hours. What, then, is the degree of starvation of those who in abundant seasons depend on charity? Last spring, though there had not been an absolute failure of potatoes, they were very dear; and I will We have heard much of late of give you one instance of the sufferthe evils of sub-letting, and a bill, I ings endured by a family consisting believe, is in force to remedy some of a man, his wife, and five children, of them. It has not fallen within my the eldest a girl about twelve years means generally to investigate the old. The man, whose name is Dotenures on which the poor inhabit-nough, usually works with a farmer ants hold their mud cabins; for, who feeds him, and gives him sevenwhere I cannot relieve, I shrink from pence a day; but in the scarcest part questioning the poor-their wretch- of the spring, the farmer diminished edness respect. But I know the his number of labourers, and this great majority tell me they "live poor man could find no employment. under a poor man ;" they often give, He left home to seek for work, and as rent, the heap of manure which at the end of three weeks returned they have collected and made with a scarcely able, through weakness from diligence and success that you Eng- want of food, to crawl to his door. lish could not comprehend might be His wife was not in a much better achieved, where the proprietor of condition;-they begged from the this source of profit possesses no ani- neighbours, but what they got was mals but a few heus, or perhaps a only sufficient to preserve them from pig. This dunghill, which, there- actual famine; they constantly pass37 ATHENEUM, VOL. 9, 2d series.
ed two days without food-their children would, as she expressed it to me, "get megrinis in their heads through emptiness, and then they would fall down on the floor, and sleep-but they would groan in their sleep, and their father would cry out, 'Well, thank God, they will die, and be out of their pain before morning, and I shall not hear those heartbreaking moans any longer."" The father could scarcely endure his home where he witnessed such things. What did the mother feel? She regretted that she was a wife and mother, and all the fond overflowing warm feelings of nature, the best emotions of the heart, were turned to bitterness and despair ;-she wished to stand alone in the world, she hugged her infants in agony, and prayed God would take them! But they lived through their sufferings. Summer came, and with it employment; hay-making, gleaning, and, above all, the potatoes. They lived through their sufferings, to endure them probably again, or, if not equal misery, something very nearly approaching to it. At this moment, I am supporting a family where the father is in the ague, and the wife lying-in of her sixth child. You would think their cabin not good enough for a cow-shed ;-the bed the poor woman lies on is not as warm as the litter in your dog-kennel. Their landlord is a man who holds an acre and a half of ground, and finds it difficult enough to support his own family; yet he is very patient for their rent, a pound a year, which I cannot imagin how they ever pay. You would scarcely take this woman to belong to the United Kingdom; her hair hangs in the jagged locks which you see represented in prints of the Esquimaux women-filth begrimes her, till her naturally fair complexion is imperceptible-her large blue eyes look wild and haggard with misery-her toue is that of hopelessness. You cannot imagine the dead sad tone of voice which accompanies this state of destitution.
The women suffer far more than the men; they are worse clad, though exposed equally to the hardships of the weather; for, if they do not la bour for the farmer, they are em ployed in collecting fuel-in making up the heap of dung-in begging. And the toil of bringing up their children adds to their physical suf fering, as much as to their moral: they generally suckle their children for upwards of two years. I have never met any human beings that moved my compassion so much as the fe male peasantry of this country; their appearance often excites disgust; nor can you wonder that misery should be careless of arranging rags that no care could make decent. Cold and wretchedness must produce dirt and neglect; their features quickly ac quire the sharp hard lines of habitual suffering, their persons all the tokens of squalor, their characters the recklessness of despair. Yet have they warmer feelings of relationship than any other people. I have found what might even be termed sentimental delicacy of feeling, amongst those who have only not been reduced to the last stage of living by "begging their bit." I have known the wife hide her illness and suffering from her husband, "that he might not fret," or spend his money in try ing to get her bread, when she was unable to swallow potatoes. I have known them give up the likelihood of permanent employment in a distant part of the country, in order to stay and watch the last years of their helpless parents-as my poor woman at Balrothery said to me," Sure I would not leave my mother, if the paving stones of the road were made of silver;" and I have seen an old miserable half blind hen cherished more than the "laying pullet," whose eggs were to purchase the only new clothing that was to cover the child,-I have seen this hen helped to her perch near the fire, because it had been the mother's hen-the last remaining token of the parent who had been buried ten years ago!
What must be the hearts of peo
ple whom even misery cannot chill to the neglect of affection, though it renders them utterly careless of themselves? and what right have men to talk to such people of the necessary degradation and misery attendant upon early marriages? It is not the law of nature that entails such misery; the cause exists in the arbitrary arrangements of our laws and social system. I call aloud upon you who have the power to attract attention, to tell the public what is the state of misery in Ireland.
The Irish members may know more than they tell; ignorant of any positive scheme of radical improve ment, they may advocate education, emancipation, emigration, and think too much interference hurtful to the
internal condition of a country, leav ing individuals to take care of their own concerns. But, in my opinion of the poverty and misery of Ireland, it demands interference. The political grievances are rather symptoms than causes: they aggravate the malady no doubt, and demand instant attention-but, considered as partyquestions,-in which light they appear to me alone ever to be considered, they strike not at the root of the evil. I wish to call your attention to Ireland, as a humane and philosophical man, not as a political partisan of any school. I fear my letter is too tedious to propitiate you
but I know your good heart, and I assure you it would bleed if you saw what I daily witness.
MADAME DAVIDOFF'S STORY.
ON my arrival at Kioff from Aglaée Davidoff, (before her mar
Moscow, Count Miloradowitch,† the Governor-General of the province, received me with that hospitable politeness which so eminently distinguishes the Russian nation. He was that day to give a dinner, in honour of the Emperor's birth-day, which I was invited to attend.
At five o'clock, I proceeded to the Government palace. This is a fine residence, and at the period here referred to, it had been furnished in most elegant style by Count Miloradowitch. The gardens, which were beautifully laid out, were open as a promenade to the inhabitants of Kioff. The dinner presented a specimen of the Count's munificent taste, and there was profusion without confusion. I had the good for tune to be seated next to Madame
riage, Mademoiselle de Grammont,) and I thus escaped the dulness which so frequently attends a dinner of ceremony. We conversed about her family, who were known to me, and the fate of her uncles, Counts Armand and Jules de Polignac, who then excited general interest. We soon became intimate. We were both young and far from our native country, and fond recollections, common to us both, supplied the place of previous acquaintance.
Opposite to us, on the right hand of the Governor, there sat a young lady, whose beauty attracted my notice. The paleness of her interesting countenance was heightened by the contrast of her luxuriant dark hair, which descended in clustering ringlets on her neck. Her long eye
Called Kioff the great or the holy. It is supposed to have been founded in the year 430, by Prince Kia, after whom it was named. In the year 1027, Prince Wladimir made it the capital of the Russian empire.
† Count Miloradowitch was originally aide-de-camp to Souwaroff, whose entire confidence be enjoyed. He became one of the most distinguished generals of the Russian army, and was Commander-in-chief against the Turks in Walachia. He commanded the advanced guard in 1812, and received Murat when he was sent by Buonaparte to propose an adjustment. He afterwards became Governor-General of St. Petersburgh, and in the year 1825, while exerting himself to quell an insurrection, he was shot by one of the ringleaders of the disturbance. His death was universally regretted..
which is washed by the waves of the winding Borysthenes. Here my fair companion commenced her story as follows:
lashes modestly overshadowed eyes whose gaze no surrounding object had for a moment power to attract, Her abstracted and melancholy air seemed to be the effect of deep and "You have doubtless heard of protracted grief. Her appearance Count Bro-ky, who was as celealtogether powerfully excited my in- brated for his brilliant eloquence as terest, and I could not refrain from for his vast fortune. His only daugh asking my fair neighbour whether ter, Vanda, having lost her mother she knew her. "I do,” replied Ma- at her birth, the Count hired as her dame Davidoff. "The estate be- nurse the wife of one of his Ukra longing to my family in Prodolia, nian subjects, a soldier who, a few adjoins one of hers, and I have fre- months before, had departed with quently passed whole months at her his regiment for the Caucasus. The father's residence. An event equal woman, with her infant son, was ly interesting and unfortunate, in transferred from their humble abode one moment, blighted the happiness to the castle of Count Bro-ky, and of her whole life."-" Dare I ven- Vanda and her foster-brother Iwan ture to ask what it was ?" I inquir- were consequently brought up toed; " for I assure you my curiosity gether. The boy, as he grew up, is powerfully excited."-"The sad developed the germs of those noble story is no secret," answered the qualities which nature had implanted lady; "but it is too long to be told in him; and the Count, becoming and besides the unhappy sub- more and more attached to him, sent ject of it would feel uneasy, if she him to complete his education at the thought we were talking about her. University of Wilna, which Prince However, in the course of the eve- Ozortorinskey had at that time rais ning, I shall, I dare say, find an op-ed to a level with the most celebrat portunity of satisfying you." Here our ed learned institutions in Europe. conversation was interrupted by the There he remained three years, and noisy and barbarous music of a Cal- on his return, being scarcely twenty muck regiment. This was followed years of age, the Count made him by a band of horns, the melancholy his steward, and gave him the com harmony of which can perhaps only plete management of all his estates. be heard in perfection in Russia. In this situation he acquitted himself At length the dinner being conclud- so honourably, that while he dimin ed, and the usual toasts drunk to the ished the labour and the burthens of accompaniment of loud cheers and the peasantry, he increased conside discharges of artillery from the gar- rably the revenues of his patron, rison, the company retired to an apartment splendidly illuminated with wax lights. Count Miloradowitch opened the ball by a polonaise with Princess Helen Suwaroff, daughter of the Grand Chamberlain Narischkin. During the intervals between the dances, MM. Lafont and Romberg exhibited their masterly talent on the violin and violoncello. The heat of the rooms was excessive, and I drew near to Madame Davidoff to remind her of her promise. She took my arm, and we descended to the terrace, and seated our selves in a pavilion overlooking the extensive plain surrounding the town,
"I have already told you that I frequently made a visit of several weeks at the castle of Count Broky. The origin of my acquaintance with the family was as follows: My grandfather, the Duke de Polignac, was on a footing of intimacy with Count Bro-ky, when the latter came to France before the Revolu tion. The high favour which the Duke and all his family enjoyed at court, afforded him the means of rendering a foreigner's visit to Paris exceedingly agreeable; and during the misfortunes of our emigration, Count Bro-ky, by his kindness, amply repaid any favours he might at a for