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to encourage industrious habits, and to maintain feelings of self-respect among them. In the counties of Antrim, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Tipperary, and others, large quantities of linens and of knitted articles, of the coarser and stronger descriptions, have been manufactured in a creditable manner, and at a very low rate of wages. And many articles of worsted and cotton knitting of the more elegant kinds, suited for ladies' wear, have been made by the females in their poor cabins, in a style which would not disgrace the most practised hands. Ample proof is thus afforded, that the disposition to work is not wanting, and that employment and a market for the fruits of their labour are alone required.
The recklessness with which the poor Irish, more especially in the west, contracted marriage, has been frequently remarked. That they did not do so, without some prospect of being able to obtain the means of subsistence for themselves and their families, is shown by the fact, that since the recent calamity marriages are extremely rare in the more distressed portions of the country.
It has been always remarked, that great national calamities have been accompanied by an increase of crime among the people. Men reduced to despair become reckless : they consider prudence and exertion useless, because they see them frequently unsuccessful. In the universal disorder which prevails, the value of character is lessened, and many of the conventional restraints on immorality are lost. These results have, to some extent, taken place in Ireland. The increased number of murders, and of other acts of violence, affords the most painful proof of the despair and demoralization of the people. Theft also has increased, and many of the people seem to think that they cease to be responsible, from the moment that they have become destitute. That theft should be on the increase can scarcely be considered extraordinary. Men are not likely to starve with food within their reach ; and it is to be feared, that in some districts, a large portion of the people have been of late mainly supported by stealing potatoes and turnips out of the fields. That they should do so is a fearful proof of the amount of the present distress ; formerly, potatoes were safe from pillage ; the winter store was pitted in the open field, and no one touched it. This year it has been necessary to watch them constantly, or they would have been pulled up, even before they were ripe. What will be the result when, the crops being all housed, there may be nothing left in the fields to be stolen ?
Although distress of the most biting character is unquestionably prevalent throughout almost all
the western counties, it is equally certain, that many of those who pretend poverty possess the means of supporting themselves, if they would avow it; and that others are able to do something at least towards their own support. The following statement is taken from the letter of a gentleman in the county of Donegal, whose means of information and capability of judging render his testimony peculiarly valuable. It is dated 5th June, 1847, but is equally applicable to the present time :
“The people are unquestionably suffering as “ severe privations as it is possible to conceive, but “ unfortunately nothing can be more difficult than “ to ascertain precisely their circumstances and re“sources. That they have resources of which no “stranger can form an idea, is equally unquestion5 able. We have had the strongest proof of this “ lately ; first in the general assertion of every “one, that they had not the means of cropping “ their land, followed, as it has been, by a greater “ breadth of corn being sown than was ever re“ membered ; and secondly, by the sale of the “ cargoes of two different vessels, stranded near
- , at which numbers of the people, apparently the poorest, were purchasers to a considerable extent. The extreme difficulty of distinguishing those who possess some means from the absolutely destitute, and of relieving the latter without destroying every spark of energy and independent feeling, are among the peculiar difficulties of the present time, and greatly complicate the question of both public and private relief.
· CHAPTER VII.
Prospects of the future discouraging-Loss enormous when compared
with the resources of the country-Must be divided among all classesPotatoes were the capital, and served as the currency of the poorThe wages paid for public works supplied the deficiency of currency to some extent-Difficulty of repayment for government advancesDiminution of exports—The whole population will have less to live on_Disproportion between supply of labour and demand-Injurious results—Supply of labour increased by the present calamity_Ordinary sources of employment diminished_Extraordinary sources of employment now existing-Fearful amount of unemployed labourers How are these and their families to be supported during the winter? How are they to obtain the permanent means of subsistence ?- Capital must be supplied—Or they must emigrate—Or fall back on the poorrate for support.
The prospects of the future are sufficiently discouraging. A great loss has been sustained, estimated at £16,000,000, but amounting to much more than that sum, when the indirect effects are taken into consideration. We were obliged to import food at a greatly enhanced price, and the productive industry of the country has been in great measure paralysed. The loss can hardly be estimated with any tolerable exactness, but it has certainly been enormous, when compared with the resources of the country. This heavy loss