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In the examinations in the county of Longford, Mr. K — said, he represented the feelings of a great number, when he expressed himself “in favour of a support for the infirm, especially froin a tax on absentees, one of whom draws £10,000 per annum from the county, and £3000 from the parish, without contributing any thing for the support of the poor.”
2. Under the head of sick poor," we find that no relief exists for the poor, when sick or diseased.
If the disease be contagious, they are either put out of the cabin into a temporary hut, or the rest of the family leave it and them. Any nourishment the neighbours may give them, is left at the door, and the creatures crawl out to take it in. Many have been disabled for life, by scrambling out of bed to get what is left for them at the door. “ The day before yesterday," says a witness, “a woman coming from Galway, was taken ill on the road. The people thought she had the cholera, and refused to let her into their houses. She lay by the
side of a ditch and died in the morning." "Our diseases," says Mr. Powel, "are caused by cold, hunger, and nakedness. The poor man on regaining his appetite, finds nothing to eat. A little food would restore him, but he sinks for the want of it. People are constantly tapped for a dropsy arising from starvation.” “I have frequently,” says Dr. Walsh, “ found the sick lying on the bare damp ground, straw being considered a luxury which the pig only, which pays the rent, has a right to enjoy." In some places, there are charitable loan funds; "but,” says a witness, “ the gentry and landlords seldom subscribe.”
When we go to beg at a gentleman's house, says Pat Mitchell, beggarman, it is the wife that asks relief, and the answer frequently is, “ go from the door, woman." “ The farmers are kindlier by far. It is the humble sort that live on the road-side, that are really good to us; but half the country, God help them! have no Christianity in them at all.” Molamey says, that, in the mountains of this parish, when the potatoes fail them, they bleed the cattle, and eat the boiled blood, sometimes mixed with meal, but oftener without it; he has himself known the same beast to have been bled three times in one season ; they never bleed their cattle for this purpose, when they can procure any other food; he says, “ the mere labourers would not get å potatoe on credit; they would gladly take credit on any terms, if they could get it; they would promise any thing before they would beg, which some are obliged to do, and to leave their own place in shame. They take one journey by night before they begin, that they may save the exposure.'
The Assistant Commissioners entered into the cabin of a woman labouring under the disease of water in the chest. She said, “I have
not this morning been able to rise from that bed of straw. I felt a sort of gnawing about my heart. The only thing I had was these few potatoes, (pointing to some on the ground between her and a little girl, who had the small-pox,) you see they are rotlen the most of them, and all are wet.” “Yet these very people," says a respectable newspaper editor, “ thus abandoned by wretches—fiends in the human shape, who call themselves landlords, exhibit some of the finest feelings that ever adorned the human heart.” When one has a tolerable coat, he lends it to a neighbour, that he may carry something to the market, and look decent. The Rev. Mr. Gibbon says, “when I go to a village to hold a station, one man comes to me, and confesses, and when he has done, goes out and lends his coat to a neighbour, that he may come in also; the very women do the same, and lend not only their cloak but their gown.'
Mary Carr, who is a widow, and who is rearing up a foundling, says, “ the blanket that was on my bed, I cut up to make two little petticoats for the child. I do not know what kitchen means. not able to buy a ha' porth of milk in the fortnight, and have not tasted a herring these three months.” This woman, says Mr. G. Gottingham, is a fair specimen of the widows of the parish.
In transcribing the above revolting statements, I have been almost led to feel ashamed of the order of intelligent beings to which I belong. It cannot but fill every feeling and well-principled mind with a holy indignation, that such scenes should be found to exist in a country that boasts of its religion, and requires so much money for its support. The facts are not the exaggerations of any political party; as they were publicly and minutely investigated, and are admitted by all parties to be substantially correct. They are corroborated by the statements of the late Mr. Inglis, in his “ Journey throughont Ireland in 1834," and, by all others who have lately visited that misgoverned, and unhappy country. At this very moment, hundreds of poor starving wretches have been ejected by their rich landlords, from the half acres and miserable hovels they occupied, in the midst of the most inclement season of the year, to wander through the country, houseless and forlorn, and to perish of hunger and cold. One of the unfeeling miscreants, who acted as factor to some of the landlords, when remonstrated with on the dismal and destitute situation of the poor people, who were deprived of every shelter, and of every means of subsistence, had the fiendish effrontery to declare, that they might go and EAT ONE ANOTHER, if they pleased."
Even the “ Quarterly Review,” which is not generally very squeamish on such subjects, exhibits a becoming indignation at this picture. “The wonder surely is, (says a writer in No. 109,) not that men become monsters under such circumstances; that they make war upon the world, and the world's law which neglects and oppresses them; that being left to the destitution of the savage, they exhibit his disposition, adopt his system of self-preservation, and disregard the first principles of society. No! the wonder is, that philosophers are found audacious enough to maintain that sufferings, such as we have related, should remain unrelieved, in order to keep up the charitable sympathies of the people for each other, uncontaminated by the odious interference of a legal provision for the destitute.” And again, " the social virtues are stiħed in an atmosphere of such misery and selfishness, for the instinct of self-preservation overpowers every other feeling."
Perhaps there are few instances of covetousness more palpable and odious, than are displayed in reference to the facts that have been now stated. It is a striking feature connected with these facts that, while thousands of poor creatures are living in roofless huts, with nothing but a cold damp floor to lie upon, and not even enough of a few rotten potatoes for their food,—the nobility, gentry, and rich landlords, seldom contribute in the least, to relieve their misery, while none are more loud in their bawlings about religion, and the support of the church. It is a most unhappy and unnatural state of society, that when thousands are revelling in the midst of luxury and debauchery, there should be tens of thousands immediately around them, suffering every privation, and many of them absolutely perishing for want in the midst of plenty and splendour. That such scenes should be daily realized in a country blessed with fertility, and a fine climate; in a country where so much wealth is lavished in folly and extravagance, and where so many enormous pensions and sinecures are enjoyed, both from the church and the state, cannot but fill every generous mind with swelling indignation. Here is surely a fine opportunity for wealthy gentlemen of benevolent feelings, to come forward and display their generosity. What might binder therı from purchasing some of the Irish moors, and mosses, and wastes, and setting thousands of the labouring poor to bring them into a state of cultivation, and to rear for themselves comfortable habitations ? The blessing of thousands ready to perish would rest upon them, and their own hearts would feel a satisfaction superior to all the pleasures derived from pomp and pageantry, and riotous abundance.
What becomes of all that wealth which has been bestowed on the Bishops, Deans, and many of the Rectors of the Episcopal church; the one half of which would go a great way towards meliorating the condition of the lower class of the population of Ireland ? When the lands and other emoluments were first allotted to the bishops, it was, on the provision, that the one half, or at least the one third of the proceeds should be devoted to the poor. This appears to be admitted by the benevolent Archbishop of Tuam, in his evidence stated above. “If the church lands,” says the Archbishop, “ be re-appropriated to the original destination, a large fund would be supplied to the support of the people.” And would not the one half
, of incomes amounting to eighi, len, fifteen, or twenty thousand pounds annually, be quite sufficient for any order of ministers belonging to the Christian church? That such an appropriation has never yet been voluntarily made, even when the most urgent demand for it existed-seems to indicate, that there is a glaring want of Christian principle and benevolence, even among the ministers of the Christian church.