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The reports of the commissioners have stated, that in those districts where the relief committees worked together with zeal and in good faith, the administration was excellent, checking fraud and imposture, while it relieved the really distressed. But in some districts this was unhappily not the case. Abuses existed, varying from apathy and neglect to connivance at frauds and misappropriation of the funds. Gross impositions were daily practiced by the poor; the dead or absent were personated; children were lent for a few days, in order to give the appearance of large families, and thus entitle the borrowers to a greater number of rations. Almost the whole population in many places alleged poverty, and looked for relief; and then, conceiving the receipt of cooked food a degradation, they endeavoured to compel the issue of raw meal. One universal spirit of mendicancy pervaded the people, to which in several places the committees offered no opposition. Yielding to intimidation,” or seeking for popula

* The report of the Relief Commissioners alluded to several instances of intimidation. The following is given on the authority of a gentleman of landed property, as showing the manner in which a Roman Catholic clergyman was abused for refusing the unreasonable demands of some of the more powerful of his parishioners:

“I know of the most shocking instance of this, where shameless “worthless farmers came in bodies, and compelled the priest by threats “to give them the meal intended for the poor. In this very parish, a


rity, they were willing to place the whole population indiscriminately on the lists, to be supported by public charity. In some cases they even sought for a share of it themselves. It is stated in the reports of the commissioners, that gentlemen of station and property were not ashamed to sanction the distribution of rations to their servants and labourers, or to their own tenants; the same persons, while willing to give to those who did not need it, frequently disregarded the sufferings of the starving poor. This painful subject may be concluded in the words of a gentleman, who had full opportunity of knowing the abuses practised in one of the worst parts of the country: “Had I not been an eye-witness, I could scarcely

“scene occurred truly scandalous. The British Association gave our “parish priest three tons of meal. On its arrival, the riotous conduct “of the population was such, I had to go out, and the priest begged “of me to take in the meal and store it for him. I did so. On the “third day after, he took it to the parish chapel, where a scene occurred “that baffles description; and in the end this donation was totally mis“applied, as the destitute got nothing, and those well off every thing. “I can prove that persons retailing meal, whose houses at the moment “contained many hundred pounds weight of it, received large quantities. “The priest, poor man, came to me afterwards, and said “that for the “universe he would not distribute another pound of meal.’ It ap“pears that when he attempted to do what was right, a regular scene of “intimidation ensued; he was threatened with even personal violence, “and the instant demolition of the chapel itself; and he was absolutely “obliged to give away the food to those who did not require it. Now “this is only one instance; but one under my own eye, where an “honest man was made the victim of this species of intimidation.”

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“ have conceived it possible, that the awful visita“tion with which this country is afflicted, should “ have produced such an utter disregard of inte“grity in the administration of its relief.” Such shameless dishonesty is a melancholy proof of the low standard of morals existing in some parts of Ireland. The gross instances of actual fraud and misapplication of funds, on the part of members of committees, were probably confined to a very few places; but there were many, in which the committees neglected the duty of seeking out the really poor and destitute, or were willing to return the whole or even sometimes more than the whole population as standing in need of relief. Such reckless conduct can only be accounted for by the supposition, that they never anticipated being obliged to repay the money advanced, or that some members of committees were rated to so small an amount, that they had little personal interest in economical management; and under these circumstances were desirous to procure for their own friends as large a share as possible of the “ Both these causes existed to some extent. Sub

government money.”

sequent events have shown, that in many places

they fully expected to evade repayment; and in

those electoral divisions in which there were no

resident proprietors, the management frequently fell into the hands of parties, who considered that their interests would be best served by a lavish expenditure. But it must not be supposed that these abuses were every where prevalent. The commissioners state that in the greater part of Ireland the committees exerted themselves zealously. The destitute poor were relieved, and due precautions taken to avoid being imposed upon by those who were not in want. The distribution of food in a cooked state, whether Indian meal porridge, or rice and Indian meal mixed, while it was liked by the really destitute, and was much more wholesome for them than the same quantity of undressed meal, proved an excellent test of poverty; and in some instances “reduced the number of applicants wonderfully.” There were even some districts, in which the anxiety to economise was so great, as in some degree to impede the due administration of the law, the rate-payers endeavouring to prevent the issuing of rations to small holders of land, and to other parties to whom it was intended by the act of parliament to afford relieff

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* See Third Report of Relief Commissioners.

f From among many statements to the same effect made to the Relief Committee of the Society of Friends, the following are selected, which may serve to show the degree of economy with which some committees administered the law, and also that the feeling of honest independence is not every where broken down:


The efficient working to which the commissioners succeeded in bringing the act, in so short a space of time, and under so many difficulties, was only accomplished by the most anxious and perse

County of CAvAN, 23rd of June, 1847: “Another class of persons, “namely, small farmers holding from one to four acres, are now with“out any means whatever of subsistence; they have sold their pigs “ and every article they could part with, and spent the money in food. “Our relief committee will not afford any aid to those people, as the “present tax imposed on the rate-payers, which is seven shillings in the “pound, would be more than doubled if they did, so considerable is the “ number of small farmers in the district.

County of CAvAN, 9th of June, 1847: “We have still in the pa“rishes of and about 1000 persons supported by volun“tary relief, who will starve if it be withheld, and who are for one “reason or other excluded from the relief lists. These are daily sup“ ported with cooked food from four boilers under my care, and a most “trying and anxious and dreadful care it is, to have this multitude “depending on me (under Providence) for their daily bread. My pri“vate means are all but exhausted, and I know not what to do about “this. Those on the relief lists are safe. But the rest, what will they do?”

County of LoNDoNDERRY, 2nd of July, 1847: “There is, how“ever, a class who have been hitherto refused relief on the grounds of “their having some property, that present to me, who live among “ them, a most affecting spectacle. These are poor landholders, oc“cupying perhaps two or three acres, with large families in the most “ deplorable state of distress, and yet on the verge of starvation, “clinging to their holdings as their last remnant of hope in this world. “At this moment there is standing at my window a poor, and I will say, “a worthy man, (for I have long known him, a Roman Catholic, who “has a small farm of about five acres, and a family of ten to sup“ port from it, which he has hitherto done respectably) representing to “me, in that quiet subdued tone which shows the struggle between the “cry of his poor children and the shame of being a beggar, his situation “ and his distress. Before he would beg, he had parted with his cow, “had sold his last sheep, his last lamb, his bed-clothes—there now “remain barely two days' food of the most wretched description to sup“ port his little ones. This man is most industrious. In the midst of

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