Зображення сторінки

to obtain any co-operation. Those who wished to assist in relieving the destitute were generally obliged to labour single-handed, having no one near them. This has been and is a great difficulty,

their decision. The money was distributed on each townland by the members of the committee, specially appointed to attend to it, to whom all the recipients of relief were personally known. They kept a tabular statement, showing the weekly allowances on each townland, and the number of families and individuals relieved. The average distribution was £17.12s. per week, for the four weeks ending the 22nd of January. And the average number relieved each week was 200 families, consisting of 921 persons, so that the weekly allowance was about four pence halfpenny for each individual. The exertions of this efficient and intelligent committee appear to have been very successful. The following statement of the arrangements adopted in Werburgh's parish, Dublin, show that a similar mode of arrangement is equally applicable to a town or city: “The parish was divided into districts containing certain streets and “lanes; two visitors were appointed for each district; who went to “every room, cellar, &c., and closely examined into the condition and “circumstances of every individual or family. Their reports to a ge“neral committee were entered in a book, in which was noted down the “street, number, what part of house, name, number in family, occupa“tion, circumstances, and which had also ruled columns for the weekly “assistance granted to each. The name of each was read out in open “committee, and the amount of relief (for a week) decided on—that “relief being in the shape of an order for food; the order being initialed “by the chairman, the visitor was then at liberty to issue it. Five provi“sion dealers were selected, who resided in the parish, and the party “relieved was at liberty to take his ticket to any of the five, thus leaving “him to select and purchase from the dealer who gave him the best “value. We considered this to be more economical than if we had pur“chased food, and kept up a staff of officers to distribute it, besides do“ing a positive good to a class of people who would themselves have be“come paupers if they had lost their trade. At every subsequent weekly “meeting of the committee the entire list was gone through, the visitors “reporting upon each case, and stating whether the relief should be “continued for another week, increased, or diminished; or (in case the

and can only be removed by such legal changes, as may enable those who do not choose to reside, to dispose of their property to others more willing or more able to perform its duties. The following statement of the numbers receiving rations, and the total expenditure under the act, in each of the four provinces, compared with the amount of population and the annual value assessed for poor-rate, may serve to illustrate the comparative means and destitution of each pro

Vince : *

Population. Valuation. ‘...." of * Ulster ... 2,386,373 ... 3,320,133 ... 346,517 ... £170,598 Leinster ... 1,973,731 ... 4,624,542 ... 450,606 ... 308,068 Munster ... 2,396, 161 ... 3,777,103 ... 1,013,826 ... 671,554 Connaught ... 1,418,859 ... 1,465,643 ... 745,652 ... 526,048

8, 175,124 13,187,421 2,556,601 + 1,676,268

“party had obtained employment, or removed out of the parish) be dis“continued. This system worked most satisfactorily.” * The total expenditure under the act appears, by the Seventh Report of the Relief Commissioners, to have amounted, when that report was made up, to £1,616,268 11s. 7d., which sum they state may be altered in a trifling degree by the payment of some small outstanding checks before their accounts are finally closed. The statement given above is as close an estimate of the number of rations given out, and the expenditure in each separate province, as the writer is enabled to make, from the information as yet furnished by the relief commissioners. It is probably sufficiently exact for practical purposes.


State of the country on expiration of temporary relief act—Plentiful harvest—Difficulties of the country lessened but not ended—Prevalence of disease—Want of clothing—Domestic manufactures—Sources of employment—Totally insufficient for the number of labourers— Ixtent of destitution—Condition of the western coast of Ireland— Great wretchedness of the people—Aggravated by the present calamity —Consequent apathy—Inevitably resulting from their hopeless condition—Anxiety for employment—Great diminution in the number of marriages—Prevalence of crime and pretence of poverty.

The first year of difficulty has terminated. One third of the people had been reduced to destitution by the loss of the potato crop, and the partial failure of the oat harvest. Of these many have died ; many of those who could raise the requisite funds have emigrated to America; others have removed to England; the rest have been kept alive by employment on public works, by private local charity, by local subscriptions, by contributions from all parts of the world, and finally, by the most extensive system of gratuitous distribution of food of which history affords any record. This distribution has now ceased. The relief commissioners have gradually reduced, and finally discontinued the issuing of food, without any extreme suffering being felt, except in some remote and destitute districts. They have been enabled to effect this, in great measure by the abundant harvest with which a merciful Providence has blessed us. The great dryness of the summer no doubt injured the turnips and other green crops, and prevented the usual growth of after-grass in the meadow and pasture lands. Still, in almost every important particular, the crops have grown with great luxuriance, and the produce has been plentiful. The wheat crop has been unprecedentedly large. The breadth of land sown was greater than usual. The yield has been good, and it has been saved in excellent condition. The produce of the oat crop has been more unequal, being in some places uncommonly large, while in other parts the report is unfavourable. Although the blight re-appeared on the potatoes in some districts, it was only partial, and the crop has been probably a full average on the extent of ground planted. Serious fears were entertained that a large portion of the land would be left uncropped, and no doubt there are many places in the wild and mountain districts of the interior, and of the western counties, which formerly were planted with potatoes, but which were this year left untilled. But the whole amount of uncultivated ground, though very important as respects its local effects, must have been so small when compared with the extent of cultivated land, that it could not have had much influence on the total value of the produce of the country. So far as a good harvest could relieve us, we have been relieved. It is fearful to contemplate the increased suffering which a deficient harvest would have caused. But although our difficulties are greatly lessened, they are by no means at an end. The measures taken under the temporary relief act averted starvation, but afforded little relief to the sick, for whom the rations distributed were frequently unsuitable food. This mode of relief being terminated, the destitute have no resource but private charity, until the new poor law can be brought into effective operation. In some places this may take a long time. The former system was supported by money advanced from the Treasury. There are no longer any advances, and all relief is therefore dependant on the collection of rates. The collection is now in progress, and it is understood that the result is encouraging; yet there are many districts, in which it seems very unlikely that sufficient can be collected to support the destitute. But this most important subject demands a more particular investigation, which is reserved for a future occasion. Meanwhile, it is painfully evident that much

« НазадПродовжити »