Relief Measures during the Famine - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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during those same three years, exactly as fast as the English people and working classes advanced to luxury, the Irish people and working classes sank to starvation: and further, that the Irish people were still sowing and reaping what they of the sister island so contentedly devoured to the value of at least £17,000,000 sterling.

As an English farmer, artizan, or labourer began to insist on tea in the morning as well as in the evening, an Irish farmer, artizan, or labourer, found it necessary to live on one meal a day. For every Englishman who added to his domestic expenditure by a pudding thrice a-week, an Irishman had to retrench his to cabbage-leaves and turnip-tops. As dyspepsia creeps into England, dysentery ravages Ireland; "and the exact correlative of a Sunday dinner in England is a coroner's inquest in Ireland."

Ireland, however, was to have "alms." The English would not see their useful drudges perish at their very door for want of a trifle of alms. So the Ministry announced, in this month of February, a new loan of ten millions, to be used from time to time for relief of Irish famine—the half of the advances to be repaid by rates—the other half to be a grant from the Treasury to feed able-bodied paupers for doing useless work or no work at all. As to this latter half of the ten millions, English newspapers and members of Parliament said that it was so much English money granted to Ireland. This, of course, was a falsehood. It was a loan raised by the Imperial Treasury, on a mortgage of the taxation of the three kingdoms: the principal of it, like the rest of the "National Debt," was not intended to be ever repaid, and never can be; and as for the interest, Ireland would have to pay her proportion of it, as a matter of course.

This last Act was the third of the "Relief measures" contrived by the English Parliament, and the most destructive of all. It was to be put in operation as a system of out-door relief; and the various local boards of Poor Law Guardians, if they could only understand the documents, were to have some apparent part in its administration; but all, as usual, under the absolute control of the Poor Law Commissioners, and of a new Board, namely: Sir John Burgoyne, an Engineer; Sir Randolph Routh, Commissary-General; Mr Twisleton, a Poor Law Commissioner; two Colonels, called Jones and M'Gregor, Police-Inspectors; and Mr Redington, Under-Secretary.

In the administration of this system there were to be many thousands of officials, great and small. The largest salaries were for Englishmen: but the smaller were held up as an ...continue reading »

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