Emigration to England during the Irish Famine - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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by hard labour, "for any time not exceeding one month." Many poor people were escaping to England, as deck passengers on board the numerous steamers, hoping to earn their living by labour there; but "Government" took alarm about typhus fever—a disease not intended for England. Orders in Council were suddenly issued, subjecting all vessels having deck passengers to troublesome examination and quarantine, thereby quite stopping up that way of escape;—and six days afterwards four steamship companies between England and Ireland, on request of the Government, raised the rate of passage for deck passengers. Cabin passengers were not interfered with in any way; for, in fact, it is the cabin passengers who spend in England five millions sterling per annum.

Whither now were the people to fly? Where to hide themselves? They had no money to emigrate; no food, no land, no roof over them; no hope before them. They began to envy the lot of those who had died in the first year's famine. The poor-houses were all full, and much more than full. Each of them was an hospital for typhus fever; and it was very common for three fever patients to be in one bed, some dead, and others not yet dead. Parishes all over the country being exhausted by rates, refused to provide coffins for the dead paupers, and they were thrown coffinless into holes; but in some parishes (in order to have at least the look of decent interment) a coffin was made, with its bottom hinged at one side, and closed at the other by a latch—the uses of which are obvious.

It would be easy to horrify the reader with details of this misery; but let it be enough to give the results in round numbers. Imagination must fill up the appalling picture. Great efforts were this year made to give relief by private charity; and the sums contributed in that way by Irishmen themselves far exceeded all that was sent from all other parts of the world beside. As for the ship-loads of corn generously sent over by Americans, I have already shown how the benevolent object was defeated. The moment it appeared in any port, prices became a shade lower; and so much the more grain was carried off from Ireland by "free trade." It was not foreign corn that Ireland wanted—it was the use of her own; that is to say, it was Repeal of the Union.

The arrangements and operation of the Union had been such that Ireland was bleeding at every vein; her life was rushing out at every pore; so that the money sent to her for charity was only so much added to landlords' rents and Englishmen's ...continue reading »

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