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Title: Facts for the Kind-Hearted of England! - As to the Wretchedness of the Irish Peasantry, and the Means for their Regeneration
Author: Rogers, Jasper W.
Language: English
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[Illustration: University of London]

 Presented by
 the Worshipful Company
 of Goldsmiths.


                                 FOR THE

                        KIND-HEARTED OF ENGLAND!

                                  AS TO

                            THE WRETCHEDNESS

                                 OF THE

                            IRISH PEASANTRY,



                        BY JASPER W. ROGERS, C.E.

 This Edition (500 copies bound), has been presented by the Author, as a
 donation;--to be sold at the Ladies Bazaar, for relief of the famine in
 Ireland, and distress in Scotland.

                       JAMES RIDGWAY, PICCADILLY.


In my twentieth year my first visit was made to London--how long since
need not be said, lest I make discoveries. I arrived at the "Swan with
_two_ necks," in Lad Lane, to the imminent peril of my own _one_, on
entering the yard of that then famous hostelry, the gate of which barely
allowed admission to the coach itself--and first set foot on London
ground, midst the bustle of some half-dozen coaches, either preparing
for exit, or discharging their loads of passengers and parcels.

Four "insides" were turned out, and eight "outsides" turned in--I,
amongst the unfortunates of the latter class, taking possession of the
nearest point I could to the coffee-room fire. It is to be recollected
that in those days one had but _four_ chances in his favour, against
perhaps forty applicants for the interior of the mail--and he who was
driven in winter, by necessity of time, to the top of a coach in
Liverpool, and from thence to Lad Lane, and found himself in the
coffee-room there unfrozen, might be well contented. So felt I,
then,--and doubly so now, as I think of the dangers of flood, and road,
and neck, which I encountered in a twenty-six hours' journey, exposed to
the "pelting of the pitiless storm,"--for it snowed half the way.

Dinner discussed, and its etceteras having been partaken, in full
consciousness of the comforts which surrounded me, contrasted with the
discomforts, &c. from which I had escaped,--I sank into an agreeable
reverie; and during a vision,--I must not call it a doze,--composed of
port wine and walnuts--the invigorating beams of Wallsend coal--an
occasional fancied jolt of the coach--the three mouthfuls of dinner, by
the name, I had gotten at Oxford--and the escape of my one neck, when,
goose as I was, I presented it where two seemed to be an essential by
the sign of the habitation and the dangers of the gate,--I was aroused
by a crash, something like the noise of the machine which accompanies
the falling of an avalanche or a castle, or some such direful affair at
"Astley's;" and starting up, I thought,--had the coach upset? but, much
to my gratification, found myself a safe "inside." Still came crash
after crash, until I thought it high time to see as well as hear. "What
on earth is the matter?" said I to the first waiter I met, as I
descended from the coffee-room, and got to the door of the "tap," or
room for accommodation of the lower grade of persons frequenting the
establishment. "Oh! sir," said he, "it is two dreadful Irishmen
fighting: one has broken a table on the other's head; the other smashed
a chair." I stopped short, and well do I recollect that the blood
rushed to my face as I turned away; I confess, too, that while
returning to the coffee-room, when the waiter followed and asked, should
he bring tea, I "cockneyfied" my accent as much as possible, in the hope
that he should not know I was an Irishman:--such was my shame for my
country at the moment.

Many minutes, however, had not elapsed until I felt shame another
way--namely, that I should for a moment deny the land which gave me
birth;--and I at once determined to ascertain the facts and particulars
of the outrage. Down I went, therefore, again, and entering the
tap-room, found that in truth a table had been broken, and a chair too,
not to speak at all of the heads; but, on further investigation, it
appeared that the table, being weak in constitution, sunk under the
weight of one of the belligerents, who jumped upon it to assail the
other with advantage,--and that the chair had been smashed by coming in
contact with the table; the gentleman on the ground having thought it
fair to use a chair in his defence when his enemy took to the larger
piece of furniture:--hence the awful crash, crash--that awoke me from

So far well--but further inquiry brought forth further truths. It came
out that one of the party had called the other "a beggarly bogtrotter,"
for which he received in reply a blow upon his nose. Thus the row
commenced; but better still, it appeared that _one_ of "the dreadful
Irishmen" _was a Welshman_! and that it was _he_ who called poor Paddy
"a bogtrotter."

First then, said I to myself, the table was _not_ broken on the
Irishman's head; it was smashed by the Welshman's _foot_--and it was
_not_ "_two_ dreadful _Irishmen_," but _one_, who had been engaged in
the fray, and he was insulted; therefore, at the most, ONLY ONE HALF OF
THE STORY IS TRUE! _And in about that proportion have I since found
almost all the stories and charges against the lower class of my unhappy
countrymen_--and so will others too, who please to investigate facts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amongst my earliest introductions to "London Society" was "St. Giles's."
Notwithstanding the warnings of my friends, as to the danger attendant
even on a walk through its streets, I ventured a little farther; and who
ever may have suffered there, I have not, except from witnessing the
almost indescribable misery of its inhabitants. Throughout my entire
search into its wretchedness, I never received even an uncivil answer
but on one occasion, and I am the more desirous to state this fact,
because, although "St. Giles" sounds to English ears as a spot
_contaminated_ by the abode of Irish only, I found many and many an
Englishman there, as wretched as my own wretched countrymen.

In the instance I allude to, I had entered the first lobby in one of
the houses of a most miserable street, where I saw a woman "rocking" in
the manner the lower class of Irish express silent agony of feeling. Her
body moved back and forward in that peculiar motion which told to my
heart she was in misery; and entering the room in silent respect for her
suffering, I forgot to knock or make any noise to attract attention. In
a moment a figure darted from the side of a bed behind the door, and
having caught up something as it passed between me and the entrance, he,
for I then saw my assailant was a man, brandished the "miserable
remains" of a kitchen poker before my face, and demanded, "_What did I
want, and how da-ar I come there to throuble thim with my curosity?_"
And what right had I to pry into their miseries, unless to relieve them?
I confess my object in visiting St. Giles's then, had not arisen from so
pure a motive, and I felt the justice of his demand--The miseries of the
heart are sacred amongst the rich: why should they not be equally so
amongst the poor? Nature has made original feeling alike in all; but the
poor feel more deeply; for the rich suffer in heart midst countless
luxuries and efforts from others to wean them from their sufferings,
while the poor suffer midst numberless privations, and almost utter
loneliness. Why then should I have "_throubled thim with my curosity_?"

But I made my peace, with little effort too; and then, for the first
time, saw a dead body lying on the bed from whence the man had come,
"waking," in the Irish fashion of the lower orders. It was a child of
about seven years old. Its last resting place on earth was dressed with
flowers, and the mother's hand had evidently done the most within its
feeble power to give honour to the dead. Rising, she with her apron
rubbed the chair she had been sitting on, and placed it for me; thus
offering, in her simple way, the double respect of tendering _her own_
seat, and seeking to make it more fit for my reception by dusting it.

I need not repeat all the tale of misery, the cause of their suffering
then, was apparent. "She was their last Colleen--th' uther craturs wur
at home with the Granny," and "_he_ had cum to thry his forthin in
Inglind; _an' bad forthin it was_. But the Lord's will be done, fur the
little darlint was happy, any how--an' sure they had more av thim at
home--an' why should she be mopin' an' cryin' her eyes out for her
Colleen, that was gone to God!"

Thus the poor creature reasoned as she cried and blamed herself for
crying; for miserable as she was, she evidently felt that she should be
thankful for the other blessings that were left her. Do we all feel
thus? Yet, at the moment that she did so, I believe there was not a
morsel of food within reach of her means, and that her last penny had
been spent to deck with flowers the death-bed of her child.

It is needless for me to describe the general miseries of "St.
Giles,"--now no more. Its wretched habitations have yielded their place
to palaces; its dreaded locality lives but in recollection; and its
inhabitants have gone forth--Whither? _Perhaps to greater wretchedness._
Aye, almost surely! The misery of St. Giles's has ceased, mayhap to make
misery double elsewhere; but, thank God! there no longer exists in
London a special spot upon which the ban is placed of _Irish residence
being tantamount to crime_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Years and years have since gone by, and many a time the story of "the
_two_ dreadful Irishmen" has risen to my mind, as I have read paragraph
after paragraph in the English papers, telling of some direful thing
which had occurred and was wrapped in mystery, but concluding after the
following fashion:--

    "HIGHWAY ROBBERY--(_Particulars_). There is no clue whatever to
    discover the parties who committed this atrocious act--but _two
    Irish labourers who live in the neighbourhood are, it is supposed,
    the delinquents_!"

    "BURGLARY AT ---- (_Particulars_). The parties who committed this
    robbery acted in the most daring manner. _The country is now filled
    with Irish harvest labourers!_"

    "FOOTPAD.--A daring attempt was made by a most desperate-looking man
    to rob a farmer some days since--(_further particulars_) after a
    great struggle he got off. _He is supposed to be an Irishman!_"

    "MARLBOROUGH-STREET.--There is a class of persons now known, called
    'Mouchers,' who go about in gangs, plundering the licensed
    victuallers, eating-house and coffee-shop keepers, to an extent that
    would be deemed impossible, did not the records of police courts
    afford sufficient evidence of the fact. _The Mouchers are mostly of
    the lower order of Irish._"--_London Morning Paper, 12th April,

    "HORRIBLE MURDER--(_Particulars_). Every possible search has been
    made for the murderers, but unfortunately without effect. However,
    _it is positively known that four Irish harvesters passed through
    the village the day before, and there cannot be a doubt the dreadful
    deed was committed by them_!"

Such are the kind of announcements seen frequently, particularly in
provincial papers. In the latter case, the facts impressed themselves
strongly upon my mind. A horrible murder had been committed, as well as
I recollect, in Lancashire. The widow of a farmer, much beloved in the
neighbourhood, and known to possess considerable property, was
barbarously murdered in her bed at night, and her presses and strong box
thoroughly rifled; nothing, however, having been taken but money, of
which it was known she had received a considerable sum a few days
previously. Much sensation was created by the fearful occurrence; and it
was fully believed that "the four Irishmen" had committed the
murder--why? _because they had been seen in the neighbourhood!_
verifying most fully the adage, that "one man may steal a horse without
being suspected, while another dare not look over the hedge." So it
eventually turned out. A month elapsed; the four Irishmen could never be
traced; but luckily the real murderer was. A labouring man offered a
£20. note to be changed in a town some miles distant from the scene of
the murder, and suspicion having arisen as to how he obtained it, he
was taken up: eventually turning out to be the confidential farm servant
of the unfortunate woman, still continuing to live unsuspected where the
murder had been actually committed by himself; and he was subsequently

But did this clear "_the four Irishmen_" from the imputation, or
retrieve the character of their class? Not an iota. The journalist who
accused them was not the fool to proclaim his own injustice; and
perhaps, even if he did, the refutation would never have met the same
eye that read the condemnation. No; "the four Irishmen" continued as
thoroughly guilty in the public mind as if twelve jurors on their oaths
had declared them so. The editorial pen had signed the death warrant of
_character_, if not of life, as it has done in many and many instances
with just as much foundation.

Poor, unhappy "Paddy" the labourer has had years and years of outcry to
bear up against and suffer under, a thousand times more trying to him
than that now raised against "Paddy" the Lord. The poor and lowly
struggle single-handed and alone; the rich and high face the enemies of
their order shoulder to shoulder, and as one. Poor fellow, he is like
the cat in the kitchen: every head broken is as unquestionably laid to
his charge, as every jug to pussy's. And he has another direful mark
which stamps him at once; namely, that "profanation to ears polite,"
_his brogue_! He possibly may not look ill to the eye--perhaps the
reverse; his countenance may be honest and open, and his bearing manly,
as he approaches an employer to seek for work; up to that point all goes
well, perhaps; but once his mouth opens, the tale is told; instantly
_Prejudice_ does her office, unknowingly almost, and unless actual need
exist, Paddy may apply elsewhere, again and again to meet the same
rebuff. Lancashire, Somersetshire, Yorkshire, may revel in their patois
without raising a doubtful feeling or a smile, but the brogue of Ireland
does the work at once, and the unhappy being from whom it issues slinks
back into himself degraded, as he hears the certain laugh which answers
his fewest words, and the almost certain refusal to admit him within the
pale of his class in England. Hence St. Giles's as it was--the purlieu
of Westminster, as it is--the Irish labourer's refuge in England, is
often the lowest point, because he cannot be driven lower.

And all this arises, not from ill will, but from long felt prejudice,
and the repetition of stories and anecdotes and caricature of Irish
character, which trifling circumstances have given rise to and upheld;
and which, I grieve to say, is greatly due to the domiciled Irishmen in
England, of the middle and better class. They sometimes forget their
country, and in place of explaining away fallacies and making known
facts which would have roused England long since to our aid, had they
been fairly understood, _fear_ to tell truths which they deem to be
unpalatable, while perhaps their own palates are being feasted on the
good things of the party who declaims against their country: thus
permitting the continued existence of prejudice and consequent

It is in no small degree amusing to observe the _attempt_ made, in
addition, to disguise the fact that the delinquent I speak of (I had
almost written renegade) is an Irishman. No wonder that he should
attempt the disguise, for he must deeply feel his delinquency. In all
cases such as this, the Cockney twang and occasional curtailment is
assumed to overcome the _brogue_, but in vain. For the first half dozen
words of each _paragraph_ in a conversation it gets on well enough, but
the conclusion is sometimes exquisitely ridiculous.

I had the _honour_ to meet at dinner recently, a person of this class,
and a conversation having arisen on the subject, he said, "I aam
pe-fectly ce-tain no one caaen know that I aam an I-ishman;" and the
next instant, turning to a servant, he added, "Po-ta, if you _plaze_."
When this thoroughly low-bred Irishism came out I could not help
smiling, and caught at the same moment the eye of a lady opposite, who
seemed greatly amused. In a few minutes after, she said, evidently for
the purpose of having another trial of the Anglo-Irishman, "Pray, may I
help you to a potato?"--the killing reply was, "Pon my hona' I neva'
_ate_ pittatis at all at all."

This was too much for the lady, as well as for myself; so we laughed
together. The Irish _gentleman_, however, perfectly unconscious of the

Having subsequently mentioned the circumstance to an "Irishman in
London," who does not fear to acknowledge his country, he said, "O! the
feeling descends lower still--the better class of labourers attempt to
speak so that they shall not be known." Continuing, he said, "A _porter_
in our establishment, who is an Irishman, came to me the other day, and
speaking very confidentially, whispered, 'Sure now, Misthur ----, you
woudn't guiss be me taulk, thit I wus an Irishmin.'" "Certainly not,"
said my friend, laughing, when the fellow replied, quite happily,
"Whi-thin that's right any how."

Who will excuse the man in a better grade who panders to prejudices, and
not only forgets the country of his birth, but aids, _by consent_, to
let her remain in misery? But must we not excuse the low and helpless,
who are driven by such prejudices to keep themselves in existence by
following the example of those above them? who, thus, have double sin to
answer for; _their own_, and that which their dastardly conduct creates.
Still, why should the unhappy labourer who feels that the tone of his
voice keeps bread from his mouth, not wish it changed?

"Move on," said a policeman to a poor Irishman, who was gazing with
astonishment at a shop window in the Strand, his eyes and mouth open
equally, with intensity of admiration. But Paddy neither heard nor
moved. "Move on, Sir, I say," came in a voice of command delivered into
his very ear. "_Arrah, ph-why?_" said the poor fellow, looking up with
wonder, and still retaining his place. "_You must move on, you Irish
vagabond_," now roared the policeman, "_and not stop the pathway_,"
accompanying the "must" with a push of no very gentle nature. Paddy did
move, for he could not help it; but as he turned away from the sight
which was yielding him harmless enjoyment, to the forgetfulness of
misery for the moment, and perhaps to create in him desires for better
things, and give him greater energy to work and labour for them; he was
rudely branded, with a mark of debasement, and I could see in the poor
fellow's eye and gait, though _labourer_ he was, pride and degradation
contending for the mastery; but the latter conquered, and he did "move
on," almost admitting by the act that he _was_ "AN IRISH VAGABOND."

       *       *       *       *       *

The position of the lower class of Irish in England is evidently not to
be envied, but what is it in Ireland?

In the paper annexed, on "_The Potato Truck System of Ireland_," will be
found the ground-work of the misery of the peasantry. The whole
recompense for their labour is the potato. If it fail, they starve. In
summer's heat and winter's cold the potato is their only food; water
their only drink. They hunger from labour and exertion--the potato
satisfies their craving appetite. Sickness comes, and they thirst from
fever--water quenches their burning desire. Nature overcomes disease,
and they long for food to re-invigorate their frame. What get they?--the
potato! The child sinks in weakness towards its grave. What holds it
betwixt life and death?--the potato. It is the Alpha and Omega of their
existence. A blessing granted by Providence to man, but made by man a
curse to his fellow-beings. From what causes come the charges made, and
made with truth, against the Irish peasant, of "_indolence_" and "_filth
in and about their habitations_?"--One and all from that dreadful
system, the "_potato truck_!"

Tourists tell that "_the cabin of the Irish peasant must be approached
through heaps of manure at either side, making it necessary to step over
pool after pool, to reach the entrance_." This is no more than fact, but
the cause should be told too.

From the detail of the truck-system, it will be seen that the
unfortunate peasant is paid for his labour by land to cultivate the
potatoes which sustain his existence, and these potatoes cannot be
effectively grown without manure. His cabin is usually situate on some
road-side, his potato-garden rarely with it, and the only spot he
possesses, upon which he can collect manure to obtain food for himself
and family throughout the year, is the little space reserved before his
door. He has nothing else, it may be said, in the world, but that
manure. It is that which is to yield sustenance to his family, and if he
have it not, they starve. If put outside the precincts of his holding
it is lost to him, and that which he collects scrap after scrap from the
road side, or elsewhere--that upon which his life actually depends, is
too precious to be risked beyond his care. Why should he be blamed then
for the apparent "filth" which surrounds it? Whether is it his fault, or
that of the system which has driven him to this degrading necessity? Not
his, surely!

Then he is described as to be seen "supporting his door-frame, and
smoking his 'dhudeen,'[1] while he should be at work." It is true; but
whence his seeming idleness? The truck system again! He is engaged by
the year to some farmer, and is bound to do his work, for which he gets
his potato land; but the farmer is not bound, as he should be, to give
him continuous labour throughout the year. And many a day, and half-day,
and quarter-day is cut off his year's labour, when the weather, or the
farmer's absence, or his _mighty_ will and pleasure, may make him think
it fit to stop the work. When this occurs, and it is sadly frequent, it
is impossible that the poor labourer can either seek or find a half, or
even a whole day's labour. He has no garden, or patch of ground upon
which he might expend with profit his leisure, or his extra time; he has
nothing to occupy him; nor can he make an occupation perhaps, for he has
not the most trifling means to obtain even lime to whitewash his cabin.
Then, if he do smoke his "dhudeen, leaning against his door-way," where
so proper for him to be, as with his wife and children? And is the
so-named "weed of peacefulness" sought for by the highest in the land as
a soothing enjoyment; by those who have but to wish for and obtain every
luxury and blessing that wealth can give--is the scanty use of the
meanest portion of it, improper or slothful in him who knows no single
blessing but his wife and family? But it cannot be fairly deemed so. The
custom is universal, and the Irish peasant, declared by the Legislature
it may be said, to endure more privation than the peasant of any other
country in Europe, ought not to be set down as _slothful_, because, to
soothe his care, he smokes his "dhudeen."

Again, we are told by tourists of the fearful fact, that men, women,
children, a cow, a horse, a pig, congregate together at night in one
cabin; _one bed for all_! How dreadful the truth--for it is true to the
letter. But we are not told the cause; on the contrary, subsequent
commentary ascribes the fact, in no gentle terms, to the "slothful,
filthy habits of the people." Yet, when such realities exist, it is not
wonderful that they who so patiently bear, should be set down as the
producers of their own misery--still they are not only not so, but they
have no power to release themselves from the thraldom which sinks them
day by day deeper in degradation.

Once more I return to the truck system of the potato. If 4,000,000 of
the people of Ireland have sustained life, and barely, on that root
alone--many and many a day without even salt--how well may it be
understood that they have not means to buy proper clothing. In fact,
their only hope for this, is on "_the woman_," as they express, whose
sole dependance has been on eggs from her few hens--knitting stockings,
in some localities, in others, spinning. But the numerous calls for
family necessities swallow up these little means; and it may with truth
be said, that except a single blanket, or a coarse rug, there is rarely
to be found any thing in their cabins as covering for the night. The
clothes of all are clubbed together to do the office of the blanket and
the counterpane. Then, think of the cabins they live in. In one county
alone, Mayo, there are 31,084 composed of one apartment only, without
glass windows, and without chimneys; and the door so frail and badly
made, that every blast finds its way through it. The floors are _mud_,
the beds straw or ferns strewed sometimes on stones raised above the
ground. The father and mother sleep in the centre, the children at each
side, and the pig and horse, or goat, as may be, at one end. How
dreadful it is to contemplate that such should be a fact existing in a
Christian country--and worse, that this most fearful reality, which
arises from the people's helpless misery, should be made a charge of
"filthy habit" in place of being urged as the ground-work for the
perfect change of a system which could allow so crying an evil. It is a
truth, that men, _women_ and children, pigs and cattle, lie in one
bed!--but what causes it? Their hopeless, helpless, poverty. They have
not a sufficiency of clothes to cover them at night in winter; _and if
they did not bring in the pig and cattle to create warmth in their
cabins, they must perish of cold_. This is the cause, and the only
cause, and the true proof is, no tourist will pretend to tell you it
occurs in summer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having now seen what the lower class of Irish endure, it may be well to
look into their natural character, and ascertain what is the cause of
that endurance--what are their virtues, and what their vices?

That "endurance under privation, greater than that of any country in
Europe," is the true characteristic of the peasantry, cannot be
questioned, particularly after being declared by the high authority of
the Devon Commission. That it is innate in their character, is evident.
They believe that "whatever is, is best"--not as fatalists; for under
the most severe suffering, you will hear them say, "Well, shure, it's a
marcy 'twasn't worse any how." "Well, I'm shure, I might be contint,
bekase it might be double as bad." And every sentence ends--"And God is
good." They have also a certain natural _spring_ (lessening daily)
which upholds them, and they _try_ to make the best of every thing as it

"Jack," said I, some years since, to a handy "hedge carpenter," in the
county of Wexford, "why did you not come last night to do the job I
wanted? It is done now, and you have lost it." "Whi-thin, that's my
misforthin any how--an be-dad 'twas a double misforthin too, for I wus
dooin nothin else thin devartin meeself." "_Diverting_ yourself," said
I, "and not minding your business?" "Bee-dad it's too thru; but I'll
tell your hanur how it happened. I wus workin fur the last three days
fur my lan'lady, which av coorse goes agin the rint; and whin I cum home
yisterday evenin, throth, barrin I tuck the bit from the woman and
childre, sorra a taste I could get--so sis I, Biddy jewel, I'm mighty
sick intirely, an I cant ate any thing. Well, she coxed me--but I
didn't. So afther sittin a while, I bethought me that there wus to be a
piper at the Crass-roads, an I was thin gettin morthul hungery; so sis I
t'meeself _I'll go dance the hunger off_--and so I did:--an that wus the
way I wus divartin meeself." Now, I have no doubt, that many an Irishman
has _danced_ the thought of hunger away as well as Jack. But the
following incident will prove that the innate feeling of the people is
to make the best of their miseries.

It was, I think, in the winter of 1840, a fortnight of most severe
weather set in at Dublin. I had suffered in London from "Murphy's
coldest day" in 1838, and thought it was in reality the coldest I had
ever felt; but 1840 would have won the prize if left to his Majesty of
Russia to decide the question. In addition to a black frost, there came
with it a biting, piercing, easterly wind, which seemed to freeze and
wither every thing it came upon. Pending this infliction (for I confess
I suffered under sciatica as well as the easterly wind), I left home
rather early one morning, muffled in two coats, a cloak, muffler, "bosom
friend," worsted wrists, and woolsey gloves; and yet as I closed the
door, I half repented that I had faced the blast.

Not twenty yards from my dwelling, I overtook a little creature, a boy
of about eight or nine years old, dressed in--of all the cold things in
the world--a _hard_ corduroy habiliment, intended to have fitted closely
to him; but his wretched, frozen-up form, seemed to have retreated from
the dress, and sunk within itself. I believe he had not another stitch
upon him. His little hands were buried into his pockets, almost up to
the elbows, seeking some warmth from his body; and he crept on before
me, one of the most miserable pictures of wretchedness my eye ever
rested on.

As I contemplated him, I could not but contrast my own blessings with
his misery. I had doubted whether I should leave the comforts of my
home, although invigorated by wholesome, perhaps luxurious food, and I
was clothed to _excess_; while the being before me, likely had not
tasted food that day, and was _barely covered_. Such were my thoughts;
and I had just said to myself, we know not, or at least, appreciate not,
a tithe of the blessings we possess, when that little creature read me a
lesson I shall recollect for my life. He shewed me that _he_ could bear
up against his ills, and make light of them too.

At the moment I speak of, I saw one hand slowly drawn from his pocket,
and in effort to relieve it from its torpor, he twisted and turned it
until it seemed to have life again. Next came forth the other hand, and
it underwent the same operation, until both appeared to possess some
power. Then he shrugged up one shoulder and the other, seeking to bring
life there also; and at length flinging his arms two or three times
round, he gave a jump off the ground, and exclaimed in an accent half
pain, half joy, "_Hurrah! for the could mornins!_"--and away he went
scampering up the street before me, keeping up the life within him by
that innate natural power of endurance I have described, evidently with
a determination to make the best of his suffering, and not sink under
misfortune. What a noble trait of character--but how little appreciated!

With such a ground-work to act upon, what might not these people be
made? and that they have intellect of almost a superior order, cannot be
questioned. Their ready replies alone prove it; and their usual success
any where but in their own country, tells it truly. Some years ago I
stood talking to an English gentleman on particular business at a ferry
slip in Dublin, waiting for the boat. A boy, also waiting for it,
several times came up to shew some books he had for sale, and really
annoyed my friend by importunity, who suddenly turned round and
exclaimed, "Get away, you scamp, or I shall give you a kick that will
send you across the river." In an instant the reply came--"_Whi-thin
thank yur hanur fur thit same--fur 'twill just save me a ha-pinny._"
They are quick to a degree--and have great activity and capability for
labour and effort, _if but fed_, which may be seen by every Englishman
who looks and thinks. The coal-whippers of the Thames, the hod-men, or
mason's labourers of London, the paver's labourers, and such like,
almost all are Irishmen. But they must be fed, or they cannot labour as
they do here. Treat them kindly, confide in them, and be it for good or
evil; I mean to reward or punish, _never break a promise_, and you may
do as you please with them. My own experience is extensive; but one who
is now no more, my nearest relative, had forty years of trial, and he
accomplished by Irish hands alone, in the midst of the outbreak of '97
and '98, as Inspector-General of the Light-houses of Ireland, the
building of a work, which perhaps more than rivals the far-famed
Eddystone,--namely, the South Rock Light-house three miles from the
land, on the north-east coast of Ireland,--every stone of which was laid
by Irish workmen. And to the honour of the people be it spoken, when
the rebellion broke out it was known that a large stock of blasting
powder and lead lay at the works on the shore; yet not a single ounce of
one or the other was taken. It was known, too, that their employer was
then engaged in the command of a yeomanry brigade, formed for the
defence of the east side of Dublin; still his _lead_ and _powder_ lay
safely in the north of Ireland. But more extraordinary still, after the
battle of Ballinahinch, where the rebels were routed, his yacht was
taken by a party of them to make their escape to England; and lest any
ill should befall it, when they arrived at Whitehaven they drew lots for
three to deliver it up to the collector of the port, and state to whom
it belonged. They were immediately arrested, as indeed they must have
expected, and with great difficulty were their lives afterwards saved.

I could relate several similar instances which occurred to others; but I
shall only state one more, as occurring to a defenceless woman. My
maternal grandmother occupied at the time of that rebellion the castle
of Dungulph, in the county Wexford, the family residence. It was an old
stronghold regularly fortified and surrounded by a moat, with a
drawbridge; and when she left it to take refuge in the fort of
Duncannon, with the other gentry of the county, it was immediately taken
possession of by a force of rebels from the county Kilkenny, as a most
valuable place of defence, &c. They remained in possession for about a
fortnight, and during that time killed twenty of the sheep found in the
demesne. At the expiration of the period, the rebels of the
neighbourhood, who had been in the interim engaged at the battle of
Ross, returned, forced the others to leave the castle, and when my
relative came back to her residence, she found that twenty sheep had
been brought from another part of the country, and placed with her own
in the demesne; which on being traced by their marks, were discovered to
belong to a county Kilkenny grazier, the county from whence the rebel
party had come; thus the sheep were brought from the same place the
rebels had come from,--it was supposed, as an act of retaliation. I
should add, too, that while these occurrences took place, the heir to
the property was engaged in the defence of Ross, where many of his own
tenantry were slain or wounded, as rebels, by the military under his

Naturally the mind of the Irish peasant is good, honourable, and
grateful--but it has been deteriorated by miseries and neglect; and is
being so, more and more daily _at home_; while, when they go abroad they
seem to inherit all their original good qualities.

It is a fact too, known to all who know them, that when they settle in
England as labourers, they almost invariably share their earnings with
their relations at home. The remittances from London alone to Ireland
amount to many thousands yearly. There is no possible means of
ascertaining the sum; but I know numerous instances myself, and it may
be judged of from the facts which appear in the following statements,
recently published in the _Times_ and _Morning Chronicle_, shewing the
amount which comes yearly from America.

    "A curious fact is presented in a letter from a correspondent at New
    York, showing that it is not to England alone that the Irish
    proprietors are largely indebted for the support of their poor. It
    has generally been understood that the Irish emigrants to the United
    States have always remitted very fully of their hard earnings to
    their relatives at home, but most persons will be surprised to hear
    the extent of this liberality. 'A few days since,' says our
    correspondent, 'I called upon the different houses in New York who
    are in the daily practice of giving small drafts on Ireland, from
    five dollars upwards, and requested from them an accurate statement
    of the amount they had thus remitted for Irish labourers, male and
    female, within the last sixty days, and also for the entire year
    1846. Here is the result--"Total amount received in New York from
    Irish labourers, male and female, during the months of November and
    December, 1846, 175,000 dollars, or 35,000_l._ sterling; ditto, for
    the year 1846, 808,000 dollars, or 161,600_l._ sterling."' These
    remittances are understood to average 3_l._ to 4_l._ each draft, and
    they are sent to all parts of Ireland, and by every packet. 'From
    year to year,' our correspondent adds, 'they go on increasing with
    the increase of emigration, and they prove most conclusively that
    when Irishmen are afforded the opportunity of making and saving
    money, they are industrious and thrifty. I wish these facts could be
    given to the world to show the rich what the poor have done for
    suffering Ireland, and especially that the Irish landlords might be
    made aware of what their former tenants are doing for their present
    ones. I can affirm on my own responsibility that the amount stated
    is not exaggerated, and also that from Boston, Philadelphia,
    Baltimore, and New Orleans, similar remittances are made, though
    not to the same amount.' With regard to the feeling in America upon
    the calamity under which the Irish people are at present suffering,
    the same writer observes: 'Collections are being made for their
    relief, but the distress is so general that our benevolent men have
    been almost afraid to attempt anything; they think the British
    Government and Irish landowners alone competent to the
    task.'"--_Times, 3rd of Feb. 1847._

    "AMERICAN SYMPATHY.--We do not think we can better express the
    sympathy which is now so universally felt in the United States, for
    the sufferings of the people of this country, than by stating that
    _immediately after the news brought by the Cambria had been
    promulgated, 1,500 passages were paid for by residents in New York,
    into the house of George Sherlock and Company, for the transmission
    of their friends in Ireland to the land of plenty_. Through the same
    house, by the last packet, there have arrived remittances to the
    amount of 1,300_l._, in sums varying from 2_l._ to 10_l._"--_Dublin
    Evening Post._--_Morning Chronicle, 5th of April, 1847._

As to the vices[2] of the Irish peasant, a few years since they might
have been set down as three--whiskey drinking, cupidity, and
combination. The first exists no longer, and if we seek for proof of
good intention and desires in the people, this gives it forcibly. Having
food of but one kind, and that possessing no stimulating power, nor
capability of imparting grateful warmth, such as the "brose" of the
Scotch, or the soup of the continental peasant; and the climate being
cold and humid to excess, they _naturally_, it may be said, used the
only stimulant they could obtain. And if we think how anxiously _we_
seek such, under the influence of wet and cold, (we, who have all
comforts and all varieties and luxuries of food)--can it be wondered
that the Irish peasant, who working for the day in a winter's mist, his
clothes saturated through, and none to change when he returned to his
wretched cabin, should have been tempted to take this stimulating
poison? But, by the gentle guidance of one good and great man, they have
been led from the evil, receiving no substitute for what they
relinquished; getting nothing in return, they gave up their only luxury
at his bidding. What may not be done with such a people?

But the peasant has two vices which still continue--cupidity and desire
for combination. Strange that amongst all the evils laid to his charge
the first has been passed over. It exists to a great extent, and in
place of being reckless as to money, he too eagerly grasps at it when
the opportunity offers; hence the combinations which have at different
times occurred in the accomplishment of public and also private works.
He mars his object by his ignorance. This has arisen principally from
the unfortunate frequency of public undertakings, caused by famines or
distress. In any such case he took it, to use his own expression, as a
"good luck," and sought by any means to make the most of it while it
lasted. Then, in private works, when he imagined a necessity existed for
their accomplishment, he sought to make the most by demanding higher
wages, and forcing the well-inclined to join in the demand. It is a fact
that he suffers under _natural cupidity_, and its evils have been
increased by the circumstances named, the effects of which will require
care to overcome, if his regeneration be attempted; and, perhaps, under
all circumstances, it cannot be wondered at. The opportunity to obtain
money for his labour so rarely occurred, that when it did he could not
resist the temptation of getting as much as possible to provide against
the day which he knew would soon come again, when he would be left to
the potato alone; and on this point he will require to be led and taught
as in other things. But the Irish peasant is, in fact, now in that
position which it is fearful to contemplate. From the nature of his food
alone he has been long retrograding in physical capability, and, of
course, energy of mind. It is impossible that beings living entirely
upon one description of food, no matter what it be, can exist in
strength and healthfulness. But if the food be of that nature which,
used as the potato is, tends to produce evil from the _quantity_
necessary to be consumed, in order to give to the body bare nourishment
to uphold existence, it must be evident that the very _quantity_ alone
will produce listlessness and want of energy, while the system itself
receives scarcely enough to uphold its vital powers.

My own memory (and I am not so old as to count half centuries) shows an
evident change in the general physical appearance and capacity of the
peasant labourer. He is not the same, even within twenty years; and to
those who recollect fifty, the alteration must be painfully great.

A little thought will shew it could not be otherwise. The potato, eaten
in the way it is, simply boiled, and as I have again and again pointed
out, _without aught else with it but salt!_ and not even that sometimes,
contains but little more than _two pounds weight_ of that description of
nutriment (gluten, or animal matter) which is essential to uphold
strength, in fact to re-create bone and muscle in the system, for every
_hundred pounds weight_, the unfortunate being condemned to live upon it
solely, is obliged to gorge himself with, in order to sustain his animal

The average quantity of potatoes an adult peasant labourer consumes in
the day is about ten pounds--his meal being usually a quarter of a stone
each at breakfast, dinner, and supper; thus he receives into his system
every twenty-four hours, about 3 ounces of that which is essential to
give him power to perform his functions of labour. In other words, he
eats in that time but 3 ounces of the representative of _meat_. What
would the railroad "Navvy" of England say--what the farm labourer--if
either was doled out 3 ounces of beef or mutton per day to work upon?
and if he seemed _listless_ and unenergetic, was then taunted with the
name of "_indolent, reckless, good-for-naught_." Still, my unhappy
countrymen have received this quantum of food, with submission for ages;
and with it received those degrading appellations, as a fitting reward
for their "_endurance_."

Now, medical research has fully established that the quantum of animal
matter, be it obtained from vegetable or else, actually necessary to be
taken into the system merely to reproduce the bone and muscle worn away
by the general labourer in his day's work, is 5 ounces! It cannot
therefore be doubted, that the Irish labourer, _in Ireland_, is and has
been deteriorated in physical capability, and consequently, mental
energy, by want of proper nutrition.

Such has been his position for ages; and my firm belief is, that his
sufferings would not have been so long borne, but for the hope which
has been, from time to time, kept alive in him. Alas, how delusively!
In "Emancipation"--he was taught to see deliverance from his
miseries--mayhap, remission of his rent. In "Repeal"--"plenty of work
and plenty of money; and the cattle kept at home, and the pigs to be
eaten by himself, in place of by _the Saxon_."

Unhappy designation, and unhappy delusion, which have held the countries
asunder, in place of being one and the same in all things. But he has
lived upon that hope, until now, when it has vanished from him for ever.
And with his hope, the food that kept life barely in him has gone too.
He is bereft of all that holds existence and soul together, and sees
nought before him, even if he do live, but ceaseless struggle and
ceaseless misery. Can such a being aid himself? No more can he, than the
invalid, weakened and powerless from sickness. Aid must be given him by
those who have strength and knowledge, or he will sink, if not into
death, to that which will be worse,--_hopeless, helpless degradation_.

And will Ireland then be "the right arm of England?" No; she will be the
blot upon her noble scutcheon--mayhap the "millstone" to sink her in
that ocean over which she now so proudly and gloriously rules.

It has been proved that above 4,000,000 of the peasantry of Ireland live
upon the potato, which they receive as payment for their labour--about,
or nearly _one half_ of the population of the country, and from whom
should, and now does spring its almost entire wealth. Their hands, with
God's permission and will, produce the means to feed themselves; to feed
the remaining half of the population, and to give to England many
millions' worth yearly; which supports the aristocracy of Ireland, and
pays the taxes to the nation. Humanity and justice, then, are not the
only claims upon us; self-interest, nay, self-preservation demand, that
they who yield us food and comfort, should have ample food and comfort
themselves--that they who aid to clothe us should have at least
sufficient covering to protect them from the rigour and humidity of the
climate in which they labour--that they should have houses fitted for
the inhabitants of a civilized country, not wigwams worse than those of
the savage--that they should be taught and led and fostered till they
understand and can practise at home the arts of proper industry--to give
not only blessings to themselves but the nation at large. Then would
Ireland be in truth "England's right arm;" but more, she would have her
heart, which now lies open, yearning to receive and give affection. I
know my country and its feelings well--I mean _its people's feelings_;
and there exists not elsewhere more genuine gratitude than in its heart.
Causes and circumstances already explained have encased it in icy doubt
towards England; but now England has proved her heartfelt pity; not
alone her money, but the kind and high and noble-minded have risked
their lives to distribute food and help and covering to the wretched
beings as they lingered between life and death. And I know the people
not, if I may not vouch, as a man and Christian, that every mouthful
given (not through public works), every comfort yielded, every gentle
and kind and consoling word uttered, is indelibly impressed upon their
feelings, and will live there. Seize, then, the opportunity to
amalgamate as one, Ireland with England's people. Fear not the idle
stories of the past; look but upon the present, and think of the
glorious future which the guidance and help of England may accomplish.
England has laboured for, and won her glories by her labour. Teach
Ireland, and she will win glories too--not for herself alone, but for
the general weal. Lead her kindly now, and she will rush to your
foremost ranks in the hour of danger--not _pray_ for that hour, that it
may give her chance of rescue from her misery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Shall I conclude, and rest in hope of general sympathy? No; although it
has magnificently proved itself.

History gives some thousand facts to shew that man is led to good by
woman; deprived of her gentle guidance towards that good, he usually
sinks to evil. Unchecked by the example of her patience, gentleness, and
faith, he often revels in thoughtless wantonness,--while, resting under
the beaming influence of her love and sympathy, he melts and is moulded
into a form approaching her own. Happily for Great Britain, this
peaceful, blissful influence sheds its beams over almost all men's
destinies, hence its public virtues, its private happiness; and hence
the cause of my present appeal _to the Ladies of Great Britain_!

Pardon me, fair Ladies! if I approach you on that which may be deemed "a
matter of business;" but I am not of those who consider woman's mind
unfitted for the toils and difficulties of life and only made for its
pleasures--far the reverse. Nor shall I yet approach you under the sweet
incense of flattery, said to be a _cloud_ which gives to you a grateful
odour--I believe it not. Nor shall I, to tell you of the prowess of man
in his deeds of arms; nor of his glories midst the slain or dying; for,
thanks to God! the heart of an Englishwoman shudders at the thought. Man
shall not be my theme. I come to tell you of the ills and sufferings of
unhappy _Women_!--beings like to yourselves, in gentle and good
feelings, though poor--like to yourselves in love and affection, though
wretched--Woman, in truth, kind, affectionate, and good; blessings to
their own--Woman in all things, but in that which is her due and right
in Great Britain--_care and respect for her sex and virtues_. Those
whose cause I plead are blessed with as pure and spotless bosoms as your
own--though one may be cased in russet or in rags, the other enshrouded
in lace--and they die, not through the horrors of war, or of plague, but
of starvation and of cold.

In my description of the cottage of the general peasantry, you will have
seen, and I doubt not recollect the fact, that upon some 2,000,000 of
your sex in Ireland is entailed the degradation of passing the hours of
her rest with the family, all in one resting-place, and getting warmth
by being forced "to herd with the beast of the field." Think of this
indignity and say shall it longer exist?

To you is due the final accomplishment of one of the noblest acts of
England--the abolition of West Indian slavery. The battle was commenced
by man, and fought manfully; but without your aid he could not have
conquered as he did. Your generous voices cheered him on, and he became
invincible. And so will it ever be in Great Britain. O! give but the
same aid now, and you will accomplish at least an equal good.

If of the aristocracy, tell to those whose halls you adorn, that the
peasant _woman_ of Ireland can only obtain warmth enough to save her
from perishing, and give her sleep, by herding with her pig! Say, _Woman
sleeps thus!_ and ask, _should it be?_ Mayhap when Woman in her
loveliness and power thus pleads for Woman in her misery and poverty,
the chord may be struck which will proclaim the _sin_, and produce its

If the mansion of the wealthy be guided or blessed by thy residence,
proclaim the fearful fact, and whispering ask, "For what does God give
wealth?" The answer may not come at first, or for a time; but whisper
again--and 'tis said that angels' whispers fill the air with charity and
love. So, perhaps, will thine--and wealth may at thy bidding aid to
rescue Woman from such degradation.

If the middle class (from which England's greatness springs), claims
thee as its own, tell to all around the truth which tells of Britain's
shame--_that the Irishwoman is forced to herd with cattle_! Plead, and
say--Am I not a woman, and is she not my sister? And by degrees thy
pleadings will strike man's heart, for the thought will come upon
him--"Oh! that one I love should fall to such a lot," and his voice will
join thine in truthfulness and charity, to win others to the task of
rooting out the evil.

If thou art poor, I need not plead. The poor feel for the poor, and
spare even somewhat from their poverty. Their hearts can tell the pangs
of poverty, and pity fills them with love and charity and regret that
poverty makes them powerless. But still thou hast a _voice_. Raise it,
and cry shame on those who may, yet will not save the nation from the
stain of this deep indignity to _woman_!

       *       *       *       *       *

And how, you may ask, is this to be done? Most simply. Ireland possesses
wealth in soil--in fuel--in minerals--in fisheries--in water-power--in
short, in all things fitted to be developed by the great and wonderful
business capability, knowledge, and capital of England; but the latter
has feared without just reason--has been acted upon by groundless
prejudices and dreads, so as to prevent that business intercourse and
mercantile enterprise, for which Ireland offers such beneficial opening;
and she has been left to herself, to anarchy, misrule, and neglect,
until she has sunk into pauperism. In a word, let England but embark a
just portion of her enterprise and capital, and talent in Ireland, in
place of _seeking_ for opportunity to do so abroad. In doing this, she
will employ the people in useful occupations highly profitable, and in
proportion as such be done will Ireland's poverty vanish, and Great
Britain's wealth increase. _Ask for this;--and that the peasant labourer
shall be paid in money, not potatoes. And if you ask from your heart,
you will succeed._

Then, fair pleaders for my countrywomen!--then your labours may
cease--for even those who possess _your_ affections do not, nor cannot,
value them more highly; nor those who hold you in their hearts do not
love more truly, than the peasant of Ireland. Your labours may
cease--for it will then be his labour of love to guard and protect his
own from insult and indignity. And as you rest after your glorious
victory, your pillow mayhap will not even crease by the pressure of the
fair cheek upon it, so light and so sweet will be the sleep to follow so
kind and good a work.


[1] Short tobacco-pipe.

[2] See Comparative Statement of the Crimes of England and Ireland, in
"_The Appeal for the Irish Peasantry_."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Dialect
    spellings have been retained. Punctuation has been standardised. The
    following significant amendments have been made to the original text:

      Page 17, added 'that' to 'When this occurs ... it is impossible
        _that_ the poor labourer can ...'

      Page 39, removed additional 'you' from 'And if you ask from your
        heart, you _you_ will succeed.'

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