The government has wisely suspended all other business to direct more effectually the measures proposed for the alleviation of the misery and distress that is now depopulating Ireland. Our sympathies, in common with those of the inhabitants of all England, go with ministers in their object and their endeavours. Party spirit is hushed, public opinion undivided, when the necessity is urged of immediately and sufficiently supplying the wants of our suffering fellow-countrymen, unable from their situation and circumstances to do ought in favor of themselves. To help them now, indeed, is our immediate duty; to teach them better habits, a wiser social economy, and a less selfish nationality, must be reserved for more fortunate times, when, perchance, our readiness to assist them in adversity will have prepared even the most prejudiced against us, to receive our advice without questioning our sincerity.
That the government is active in performing what it proposes is evident. A fleet is already engaged in conveying provisions to Ireland. The Avenger, steam-frigate; the Geyser, steam-sloop; the Rattler, steam-sloop; the Emerald and Mercury, tenders; and the Lively and Devon, lighters, have arrived at Cork, with provisions from the English ports, and have been ordered to their respective destinations on the Irish coast. The Zephyr, one of the Holyhead steam-packets, and the Urgent, Liverpool mail-packet, have been ordered to be employed in conveying provisions; the former has already arrived at Cork. The Odin, steam-frigate, has arrived in Woolwich ordinary; and Capt. W. J. Williams, of the Amphion, 36, steam-frigate, and a portion of the crew of that vessel, is to navigate the Odin with provisions to Ireland. The Scourge, steam-sloop, is now ordered on the same service.
Measures are also in progress for the establishment of soup kitchens throughout the country. According to a statement of Lord Bernard, on Tuesday night, in the House of Commons, no less a number than 3000 persons receive gratuitous relief in Skibbereen every week; and this is but one of some thirty food depots, which had been opened during the last four weeks in the west of Ireland alone. In a few days these will be quadrupled. A steamer has been especially despatched, with a large supply of boilers for preparing soup, which will be distributed throughout the counties where such aid is most required.
We can well understand with what feelings of joy the famished inhabitants of these districts must behold each fresh arrival of provisions for their sustenance. They will not, at least, curse us whilst they receive our bounty. There must be some truce to national jealousy and misguided prejudice, when they see such ample proof of our sympathy and social affection. False prophets may indeed interrupt or suspend amicable feeling for a time between bread and stone, the experience of the present time must for the future enable them to perceive who are Ireland’s best friends, and who her most dangerous enemies.