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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 favourable in affording employment; the neighbouring fishing towns, although they have but few boats in compari son 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 undoubtedly 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 farmers, or by twos and threes at the houses of the poorest inhabitants. I know several widows who have, for a constancy, entirely existed, together 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.
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.
ed fire, which is made of "sprigs," (that is, bits of furze 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 tat tered cloak, a piece of an old sack, or, may be, the remains of a blanket, 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.
We have heard much of late of the evils of sub-letting, and a bill, I believe, is in force to remedy some of them. It has not fallen within my means generally to investigate the tenures on which the poor inhabitants hold their mud cabins; for, where I cannot relieve, I shrink from questioning the poor-their wretchedness I respect. But I know the great majority tell me they "live under a poor man ;" they often give, as rent, the heap of manure which they have collected and made with a diligence and success that you English could not comprehend might be achieved, where the proprietor of this source of profit possesses no animals but a few hens, or perhaps a pig. This dunghill, which, there37 ATHENEUM, VOL. 9, 2d series.
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 give you one instance of the sufferings endured by a family consisting of a man, his wife, and five children, the eldest a girl about twelve years old. The man, whose name is Donough, usually works with a farmer who feeds him, and gives him sevenpence a day; but in the scarcest part of the spring, the farmer diminished his number of labourers, and this poor man could find no employment. He left home to seek for work, and at the end of three weeks returned scarcely able, through weakness from want of food, to crawl to his door. His wife was not in a much better condition;-they begged from the neighbours, but what they got was only sufficient to preserve them from actual famine; they constantly pass
ed two days without food-their
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. 1 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 acquire 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 trying 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 cloth ing 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 improvement, they may advocate education, emancipation, emigration, and think too much interference hurtful to the
MADAME DAVIDOFF'S STORY.
ON my arrival at Kioff from 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.
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.
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
Aglaée Davidoff, (before her mar
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 he 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..
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 protracted grief. Her appearance altogether powerfully excited my interest, and I could not refrain from asking my fair neighbour whether she knew her. "I do," replied Madame Davidoff. "The estate belonging to my family in Prodolia, adjoins one of hers, and I have frequently passed whole months at her father's residence. An event equally interesting and unfortunate, in one moment, blighted the happiness of her whole life."-" Dare 1 venture to ask what it was ?" I inquired; "6 for I assure you my curiosity is powerfully excited."-" The sad story is no secret," answered the lady; "but it is too long to be told now; and besides the unhappy subject of it would feel uneasy, if she thought we were talking about her. However, in the course of the eve
"You have doubtless heard of Count Bro-ky, who was as celebrated for his brilliant eloquence as for his vast fortune. His only daugh ter, Vanda, having lost her mother at her birth, the Count hired as her nurse the wife of one of his Ukra nian subjects, a soldier who, a few months before, had departed with his regiment for the Caucasus. The woman, with her infant son, was transferred from their humble abode to the castle of Count Bro-ky, and Vanda and her foster-brother Iwan were consequently brought up to gether. The boy, as he grew up, developed the germs of those noble qualities which nature had implanted in him; and the Count, becoming more and more attached to him, sent him to complete his education at the University of Wilna, which Prince Ozortorinskey had at that time rais
ning, I shall, I dare say, find an op-ed to a level with the most celebrat ed learned institutions in Europe. There he remained three years, and on his return, being scarcely twenty years of age, the Count made him his steward, and gave him the complete management of all his estates. In this situation he acquitted himself so honourably, that while he dimin ished the labour and the burthens of the peasantry, he increased considerably the revenues of his patron,
portunity of satisfying you." Here our conversation was interrupted by the noisy and barbarous music of a Calmuck regiment. This was followed by a band of horns, the melancholy harmony of which can perhaps only be heard in perfection in Russia. At length the dinner being concluded, and the usual toasts drunk to the accompaniment of loud cheers and discharges of artillery from the garrison, 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. Lafout 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
which is washed by the waves of the