Crime in Ireland during the Famine - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

vailed to a great extent in Ireland; and that such things could take place, he cared not how large a population might be suffered to grow up in a particular district, was a disgrace to a civilized country."

And Lord John Russell, in the Commons, said: "If they were to deal with the question of the crimes, they were bound to consider also whether there were not measures that might be introduced which would reach the causes of those crimes:"—and he horrified the House by an account he gave them of "a whole village, containing 270 persons, razed to the ground, and the entire of that large number of individuals sent adrift on the high-road, to sleep under the hedges, without even being permitted the privilege of boiling their potatoes: or obtaining shelter among the walls of the houses." Disgusting!—to a Whig statesman in Opposition!

Now these very same men had had the entire control and government of Ireland for a year and a half. Not a single measure had been proposed by them in that time to reach "the causes of those crimes;" not a single security had been given "in respect of the occupation of land;" not one check to that terrible "clearance system," which was "a disgrace to a civilized country." On the contrary, every measure was carefully calculated to accelerate the clearance system; and the government had helped that system ruthlessly by the employment of their troops and police. They had literally swept the people off the land by myraids upon myraids; and now, when their Relief Acts were admittedly a failure, and when multitudes of homeless peasants, transformed into paupers, were at length making the landed men and mortgagees, and Jews, and insurance officers tremble for their gains,—the Liberal Whig Ministry had nothing to propose but more jails, more handcuffs, more transportation.

The new Coercion Bill was in every respect like the rest of the series; in Ireland, these Bills are all as much like one another as one policeman's carbine is like another. Disturbed districts were to be proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant. He might proclaim a whole county, or the whole thirty-two counties. Once proclaimed, every body in that district was to be within doors (whether he had a house or not), from dark till morning. Any one found not at home, to be arrested or transported. If arms were found about any man's premises, and he could not prove that they were put there without his knowledge,—arrest, imprisonment, transportation. All the arms in the district to be brought in, on proclamation to that ...continue reading »

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 156