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manufactures which occupy twenty-five per cent. of the population are already supplied with artizans, and chiefly employ women.
It is very questionable if this field for employment affords work for the natural increase of those concerned in it. Whilst agricultural occupations employ 56,583 men, and 2,111 women in the county, manufactures and trade of every kind employ but 8,498 men, and 31,870 women, out of a population of 243,158. I think it must, therefore, be apparent that the narrow field of 'trade and manufactures,' which here exists cannot give employment to the increasing population, and that the wider field of agriculture neither can nor does.”
He then shows that the statistical accounts of all Ireland lead to the same result. The uniform rate of increase of the fixed population during the ten years from 1831 to 1841, was 12 per cent., but the returns show only an increase of 5 among residents, and the Census Commissioners account for the remaining 7 per cent., by estimating that upwards of half a million of unfortunate wretches were compelled to leave their native land to gain their bread in other climes. Among those who stayed at home, it appears that for three months in the year, men and their families had to undergo a lingering process of starvation upon four shillings a week! Of course, the payment of rent was out of the question, and so hundreds of miserable creatures were compelled to leave their hovels, to wander homeless where they would. Is it surprising that a man driven like a beast from his dwelling, with his aged widowed mother, and perchance, a sickly wife, with a troop of lean and ragged children crying around him ; is it a wonder, say we, that he, knowing not where to go, or what to do for a living, should league with his fellow outcasts, and plan in savage hate, wild schemes of retributive revenge? No! The wonder is the poor peasantry have borne their ills so patiently as they have, and not that every mail brings us intelligence of riot, robbery, and bloodshed.
The aristocracy of a nation should be the leaders of the people. They ought to take advantage of their high position and great powers to make those beneath them happy. Their first duty is to give them the means of gaining a comfortable subsistence, and of enlightening their minds. But what is the conduct of the majority of the landlords of Ireland ? Why they basely leave their property in the hands of some scurvy agent, who is paid in the shape of commission upon all the rents he obtains, and thus the tenantry are deprived of the fostering influence of the landowner, and are at the mercy of one who will heartlessly grind their faces, in order that his purse may be filled. As a specimen of the deplorable ills arising from absenteeism, Mr. Foster describes the condition of the Marquis of Conyngham's large estate in the county of Donegal. The Marquis, it appears, has only been there once in his lifeand that was about two years ago, when he stayed for a few
He is described as “a kind-hearted, generous man, fond of yachting and amusement, and having an excessive distaste for every kind of business or trouble.” Then of what use is he, we should like to know? While his tenantry are suffering he is a yachting! Oh! noble aristocrat !
“From one end of his large estate to the other, nothing is to be found but poverty, misery, wretched cultivation, and infinite subdivision of land. There are no gentry, no middle class, all are poor, wretchedly poor. Every shilling the tenants can raise from their half cultivated land is paid in rent, whilst the people subsist, for the most part, on potatoes and water. They are untaught, they know not how to improve, they have no examples before them of a better state of things, the year is left to themselves. As they increase in numbers, as not a shilling of the rent is ever spent among them, in the shape of capital, in giving them any kind of employment, they are driven to the land for support, till they infinitely subdivide it, and their poverty and wretchedness necessarily increase as their means lessen. Every rude effort that they make to increase the amount of the produce is followed immediately by raising their rents in proportion—as it were, to punish them for improving; they are naturally enough as discontented and full of complaints, as they are wretched in condition.”
What a picture! Mr. Foster then states that the poor fellows are sometimes so pushed for their rent, that they will buy a heifer on credit at £6, and sell it again for £3, to pay the sum they owe; or buy meal of local usurers, by means of a promissory note, at 20s. a barrel and sell it again to the same usurer at the market price for ready money at 9s. or 10s. a barrel ! One Farmer, who was considered to be comparatively well off, in fact the richest (!) man in the district, said he rented his land at £16 a year; that last year the butter produced by his cows only fetched £6, and his two pigs were sold for £5, and how he managed to make up the remainder of the money due, by selling oats and potatoes, he could hardly understand himself. Half of the
year his cows gave no milk, and he lived solely on pepper and water and potatoes ! Butter was too great a luxury for him, " and a bit of bread he had not eaten since he was born!!" and yet said he, “I have the largest farm in the district, and am as well off as any in the county.” God help him and them! He then continued, “The people do what they can to improve, but the Landlord does nothing, and they have not the ability to improve. They are tenants at will; and if they were to improve, their rent would be raised accordingly at the next valuation. The only good thing we have is plenty of turf to keep us warm. We never taste meat of any kind unless a pig chances to die of some disorder, and we cannot sell it.” The intelligent fellow then took the Commissioner to some cottages, which are thus described.
“They were stone built and well-roofed, but the mud floor was uneven, damp, and filthy. In one corner was a place for the pig, with a drain from it through the wall to carry off the liquid manure, like a stable. Two chairs, a bedstead of the rudest description, a cradle, a spinning-wheel, and an iron pot constituted the whole furniture. An inner room contained another rude bedstead; the mud-floor was quite damp. In this room six children slept on loose hay, with one dirty blanket to cover them. The father, mother, and an infant slept in the first room, also on loose hay, and with but one blanket on the bed. The children were running about as nearly naked as possible, dressed in the cast off rags of the father and mother; the father could not buy them clothes.”
Such is the condition — the shameful condition of nearly all the tenants of the amusement-loving lord. But here is a more shocking picture than the above. The indefatigable Mr. Foster went over to a little island on the coast of Donegal, where some more of the Marquis's famished human herd are congregated.
“I landed,” says the Commissioner, "at a village called Labgarroo, containing twenty-four cottages, and almost the whole of its shockingly destitute, and half-naked, shoeless population immediately swarmed out and surrounded me, begging me to go into their cottages,—such at least of them as could speak English,--and look at their misery. Picture to yourself the beggars who sometimes on Sundays lie about the pavements in the streets of London, dressed up to excite commiseration, and who write with a piece of chalk on the flags, “I'm starving,” and then lay themselves down beside this scrawl, crouched up in a violent shivering fit, as the people pass them from church, and you
have an exact fac-simile of the kind of looking people around me - the tenants of the Marquis of Conyngham !"
Mr. Foster went into a cottage and saw a woman preparing a dinner of potatoes and SEA-WEED !! and on enquiry he found the latter to be a common article of food among the horribly destitute tenantry! But the yachting Marquis is not the only bad landlord. There are others worse, if possible, than he. We mean those who are what may be termed sub-landlords, and go under the title of middlemen.' These middlemen pay a certain yearly sum for their acres, and let them out in parcels, at a much increased rate. Upon the difference between the amount they get, and that which they pay, these fellows fatten, to the great detriment of the unfortunate cottiers. One of these middlemen is the notorious Daniel O'Connell, who has an income of £3000 a year, two-thirds of which consists of the profit derived from the annual payments of small tenants.
“The Derrynane tenantry,” says Mr. Foster, “are worse off than any tenantry in Ireland. They are in a more lost, filthy, wretched, and neglected condition. Badly off as are the Marquis of Conyngham's tenantry, Mr, Daniel O'Connell's are worse off, and for this reason, the tenantry of the Marquis of Conyngham hold under the head landlord, and pay but one rent, whilst the majority of Mr. O'Connell's tenantry hold under him as a middleman, and pay two rents, namely, the head-landlord's rent, and this middleman's profit rent,—the two united being three times as much as is paid to the head-landlord; that is, Mr. O'Connell as a middleman, puts twice as much profit rent into his pocket, extracted from wretched sub-tenants, as he pays for the same land to the landlord from whom he rents it."
The distress of the “Liberator's” (!) tenantry, Mr. Foster characterizes as “horrible," and the accounts he gives of their sad condition are sickening. This exposure of the pseudopatriot, has done more to ruin his character with Englishmen, than all the virulent nonsense he ever gave utterance to. Every person having an ordinary portion of common sense is convinced that instead of ranting about ‘repeal'in “Conciliation Hall,” O'Connell should be reforming the condition of his neglected peasantry at Derrynane Beg.
From the few facts we have already given, it is evident that the immediate and chief cause of the dreadful state of the
poor Irish is, WANT OF EMPLOYMENT, produced by the gross disregard of duty on the part of the absentee and resident landlords.
We now come to these questions,—whether plenty of productive labor is not at hand ? and whether it is not possible to put the working power of the people into operation without delay?
First as to the existence of material for labor. which county we have already found has more mouths than loaves to fill them with, there are 72,000 acres of unimproved land. Of this the Land Commissioners declare there are 20,000 acres capable of improvement for cultivation, and that 28,000 acres might be drained for pasture. In Donegal there are about 150,000 acres which might be improved for cultivation, and 250,000 which might be drained and made available for rearing young cattle. And so on through all Ireland, to the extent of about Four MILLIONS AND A HALF of acres of waste land, which are lying barren for the lack of the industrious application of hands and spades. Out of the Eight Millions of human beings in the Emerald Isle, nearly Two Millions and a Half are absolute paupers ! and this while mines of wealth are being trampled under foot! But this is not the fault of the peasantry: they, poor things, are like children-just as obstinate, vacillating, and
helpless. Idleness is to them a habit, and persevering industry is an abhorrence. Harsh usage irritates them, and causes them to fly to open rebellion; but kindness, constantly displayed, wins their affections, and causes them to be tractable and obedient. They have been so unused to good treatment, that any display of benevolence toward them on the part of a philanthropic landlord is looked upon with marked suspicion. They have no idea of a landlord having such a thing as a “heart," and they repulse his overtures with undisguised distrust. Yet indefatigable perseverance on the part of a zealous reformer will totally change their opinions; and they at length display a capability of progressive improvement. As we have seen an instance of a bad landlord, we will show our readers a sketch of a good one ; and describe, as concisely as we can, the efforts he has made towards ameliorating the condition of his people, and the success thereof.
In the year 1838, Lord George Hill bought several small properties in the county of Donegal, which in all consisted of about 23,000 acres. At the time of his purchase, the condition of the inhabitants was wretched in the extreme. In one parish where there were upwards of 9,000 persons, they had among them only one plough, twenty shovels, thirty-two rakes, two feather and eight chaff beds: there were no clocks, and no garden vegetables or fruits, excepting cabbage and potatoes. Few of the women had any shifts, more than half of both sexes were destitute of shoes, and not many families had a second bed: fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters-infant and of mature age, would huddle nightly together for rest, The farms occupied by these poor people were so small, that from four to ten could be harrowed in a day-with a rake! And, more than all, in many of the wretched houses would be found quadrupeds as well as bipeds, and an accumulation of dung varying from ten to fifteen tons in weight ! The tenantry were so poor that a single beast would be the property of three or four persons. It is stated in an interesting book by Lord Hill, entitled “ Facts from Gweedore,” that on a portion of his lordship's estate “three men were concerned in a horse; but the poor brute was rendered useless, as the unfortunate foot of the supernumerary leg remained unshod, none of them being willing to acknowledge its dependency, and consequently it became quite lame. There were many intestine rows on the subject. At length one of the company came to the mainland and called on a magistrate for advice, stating that the animal was entirely useless now; that he had not only kept up decently his
proper hoof, at his own expence, but had shod this fourth foot twice to boot; yet the other two resolutely refused to shoe