Bantry, August 2d, 1847.
SIR– Our much afflicted town presented this day a scene of wretchedness and discontent; hundreds of squalid applicants for out-door relief assembled in front of the Courthouse, where the Relief Committee were assembled. The multitude seemed by their murmurs to particularise one gentleman who, they said, was instrumental in having their names struck off the relief list. Whether this gentleman’s conduct was censurable as the people imagined I cannot say, yet he narrowly escaped their fury by the interposition of a rev. gentleman and one of the authorities who accompanied and conveyed him out of town. The presence of these gentlemen disarmed the enraged crowd. He proceeded uninjured to his residence about five miles distant.
Whilst on this subject I may be permitted to mention another circumstance relative to this gentleman, as a benevolent landlord, and one which excited more than ordinary dissatisfaction in this town and vicinity. He now happens to be the proprietor of a certain farm, the residents on which are remarkable for destitution, and being one of these quarterly landlords he watched the growing crops. The first object that caught his attention was a small plot of potato ground, the entire property of a poor widow, the parent of five young children who had no other protection against approaching famine, but the produce of this small garden; he sent his workmen to dig out the unripe potatoes and had them conveyed in butts to the Bantry market to be disposed of.
In the mean time this treatment reached the public ear in the market-place, when it was unanimously agreed that no purchaser should offer even half-price for the Widow’s potatoes. He was then, of necessity, obliged to order them home to his family mansion, leaving the Widow and Orphans the tillage for their support.
I regret to say this is not a singular case. In the west, what is now spared by the blight is about to be carried off by the Landlord, yet I am proud to add, there are honourable exceptions here– gentlemen who regard the happiness and welfare of their tenantry as inseparable from their own. By attention and encouragement they have placed the tenant-farmer in a position to pay his rent now as in years gone-by, whilst the heartless oppressor is driven to the cruel and unprofitable shifts I have already described; for example, I have known a gentleman here who has given his tenants this season fifty pounds’ worth of seed potatoes, and by so doing has enabled them to pay him his rent.
Many of the evils we now complain of are attributable to landlord inattention and disregard and in all probability will continue to afflict us if the tenant-right be not established. I shall conclude for the present by subscribing myself your oft obliged Correspondent.