ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE WHIG ADMINISTRATION.
Churchtown Dec. 29th, 1846.
SIR– Political economy is doing its bloody work– slowly, steadily, but not the more surely. One day we read of 47 deaths from starvation in Mayo, ratified by the solemn verdicts of so many coroners juries. Another, we read of frightful destitution in Skibbereen, dreadfully augmented by fever and dropsical complaints. Not a single day passes by without abundant evidence of the total inadequacy of the present government, to wield the destinies of this great empire, or to preserve from actual starvation the great majority of this long misgoverned and unfortunate country.
Were you to seek for an exception to the general distress prevailing over the face of the country, could you discover one spot before another not entirely suffering through the dreadful ravages of the famine, you may fix on this parish as a resting place– as an oasis in the desert. True, our poor people are not all employed– true, the rate of wages allowed is not entirely sufficient for the support of the working man himself; but, ere this, we have had no reason to complain of any death immediately caused by starvation. This was a proud, a triumphant boast; but now, Sir, we can no longer make a similar boast– one of our poor people– one of God’s poor people– has already gone to his account, a victim of Whiggery, before that just and awful God, who on the last day will see no distinction between the lord and the vassal– the beggar and the prime minister– before that Court of Justice where paltry special pleading on Bourke’s political economy will not avail.
Yes, Sir, a poor fellow, named Courtney, after working a few days on the public road, badly fed and worse clothed, caught cold. Little though his earnings were, 10d. a day, doled out with a niggard hand, still it kept him alive till sickness prevented his being able to work, and, horrid to relate, he was obliged in his pitiable state to depend for several days on cabbage to support existence, till death, more merciful than our rulers, came to the rescue, and took him to himself. He has left a wife and six children in a most miserable state. How else could they be? The lowest price of meal and flour here is 2s. 8d. per stone. Good God! how could any man with 10d. per day support a wife and six children on this paltry stipend?– eight persons depending for support on 5s. for seven days, not minding any wet days on which they may not be able to work; –1 1-14th pence per day, equivalent to 7-1/2 ounces of flour! Think of a working man– yes, or even an idle man– living on 7-1/2 ounces of flour every twenty-four hours. It is absurd– it is horrifying– it is more than dreadful to contemplate; but why pursue it further? It is dark enough before.
The Irish are the most patient people on the face of the globe. Cast your eyes over the wide world, and can you discover another people suffering so much, and bearing those sufferings so patiently? The people heretofore had some hopes; they are now beginning to give themselves up to despair; and I would remind our rulers that if the bounds of descretion be once set at defiance– they may find it more difficult, nay more expensive, than to restrain a frantic multitude, maddened into despair, than now to feed a hungry, a quiet, but a feeling people.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,