Hon. William Butler

The Hon. William Butler, who was appointed as an overseer by government, was an exception, so far as language was concerned; he spoke feelingly, but his personal habits were not brought to that test of many with a lower station; he acted kindly as an inspector, and devised the best means which he could, and I was informed, when making the inquiry respecting his distinguished humanity, that he accepted his appointment from principle, and not from necessity, that he might see that justice was better administered.

Let us now follow the self-moved or heavenly-moved donor. He was found mingling with the poorest, often taking the lowest seat, curtailing all unnecessary expense that he might have more to give, seeking out the most distressed; looking into the causes of distress, that he might better know how to remove them, never upbraiding with harshness, and always seeking some apology for their misdoings, when representing their case to the uninformed. Many, both men and women, among this class, took most responsible donations without any reward, and acted in the kindest and most judicious manner; always minding to serve first those who needed most and had come the farthest. This kindly spirit was reciprocated at once by the poor, and with an astonishing discernment they often manifested this knowledge; sometimes much to the uneasiness of the party who were guilty. Through the whole of the famine, I never heard any of the poor complain of one who was giving from his own purse, and seeking out his own objects; nor, on the other hand, did I ever hear one say, who gave him true benevolence, that he ever met ingratitude. This might have been, but I speak only from personal observation.

Read "Annals of the Famine in Ireland" at your leisure

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

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This book still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be apalled and distressed.

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.