Evictions of Peasantry in Ireland

THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS. [Dec. 16, 1848.]

Ejectment

DayAfterA vast social change is gradually taking place in Ireland. The increase of emigration on the part of the bulk of the small capitalists, and the ejectment, by wholesale, of the wretched cottiers, will, in the course of a short time, render quite inappropriate for its new condition the old cry of a redundant population. But this social revolution, however necessary it may be, is accompanied by an amount of human misery that is absolutely appalling. The Tipperary Vindicator thus portrays the state of the country:–

The work of undermining the population is going on stealthily, but steadily. Each succeeding day witnesses its devastations– more terrible than the simoon, and more deadly than the plague. We do not say that there exists a conspiracy to uproot the ‘mere Irish;’ but we do aver, that the fearful system of wholesale ejectment, of which we daily hear, and which we daily behold, is a mockery of the eternal laws of God– a flagrant outrage on the principles of nature. Whole districts are cleared. Not a roof-tree is to be seen where the happy cottage of the labourer or the snug homestead of the farmer at no distant day cheered the landscape. The ditch side, the dripping rain, and the cold sleet are the covering of the wretched outcast the moment the cabin is tumbled over him; for who dare give him shelter or protection from ‘the pelting of the pitiless storm?’ Who has the temerity to afford him the ordinary rites of hospitality, when the warrant has been signed for his extinction? There are vast tracts of the most fertile land in the world in this noble county now thrown out of tillage. No spade, no plough goes near them. There are no symptoms of life within their borders, no more than if they were situated in the midst of the Great Desert– no more than if they were cursed by the Creator with the blight of barrenness. Those who laboured to bring those tracts to the condition in which they are– capable of raising produce of any description– are hunted like wolves, or they perish without a murmur. The tongue refuses to utter their most deplorable– their unheard-of sufferings. The agonies endured by the ‘mere Irish’ in this day of their unparalleled affliction are far more poignant than the imagination could conceive, or the pencil of a Rembrandt picture. We do not exaggerate; the state of things is absolutely fearful; a demon, with all the vindictive passions by which alone a demon could be influenced, is let loose and menaces destruction. Additional sharpness, too, is imparted to his appetite. Christmas was accustomed to come with many healing balsams, sufficient to remove irritation if not to stanch wounds; but its place is usurped by other and far different qualifications. The howl of misery has succeeded the merry carol which used to usher in the season; no hope is felt that an end will soon be put to this state of wretchedness. the torpor and apathy which have seized on the masses are only surpassed by the atrocities perpetrated by those who set the dictates of humanity and the decrees of the Almighty at equal defiance.”