A few sketches of the state of the population given by the agents of the Relief Committee of the Society of Friends, who exerted themselves nobly in relieving the distress, may help to give us a more vivid impression of the horrors of the famine. At Boyle they found numbers that had eaten nothing but cabbages or turnips for weeks. The children were in a condition of starvation, ravenous with hunger. At Carrick-on-Shannon a most painful and heartrending scene presented itself: poor wretches in the last stage of famine, imploring to be received into the house; women that had six or seven children begging that even two or three of them might be taken in, as their husbands were earning but eightpence a day. Famine was written in their faces. On bread being given to some of these poor creatures, many of them devoured it with ravenous voracity. But the mothers restrained themselves, and carried home portions to their children. The famine produced a peculiar effect on the appearance of the young. Their faces looked wan and haggard, seeming like old men and women, with an extraordinary sharpness of expression; they had lost all their natural sprightliness, making no attempt to play. In the crowded workhouses their bedding consisted of dirty straw, in which they were laid in rows on the floor, even as many as six persons being crowded under one rug—the living and the dying stretched side by side beneath the same miserable covering. The town of Westport was in itself a strange and fearful sight, like what we read of in beleaguered cities; its streets crowded with gaunt wanderers, sauntering to and fro with hopeless air and hunger-struck appearance; a mob of starved, almost naked women around the poor-house, clamouring for soup-tickets.
When the visitors entered a village, their first question was, “How many deaths?” “The hunger is upon us,” was everywhere the cry; and involuntarily they found themselves regarding this hunger as they would an epidemic, looking upon starvation as a disease. In fact, as they passed along, their wonder was, not that the people died, but that they lived; and Mr. W. E. Forster, in his report, said, “I have no doubt whatever that in any other country the mortality would have been far greater; and that many lives have been prolonged, perhaps saved, by the long apprenticeship to want in which the Irish peasant has been trained, and by that lovely, touching charity which prompts him to share his scanty meal with his starving neighbour. But the springs of this charity must be rapidly dried up. Like a scourge of locusts, the hunger daily sweeps over fresh districts, eating up all before it. One class after another is falling into the same abyss of ruin.”
One of the most appalling of the narratives sent to the Central Committee of the Society of Friends was Mr. William Bennet’s account of his journey in Ireland. He left Dublin on the 12th of January, and proceeded by coach to Longford, and thence to Ballina, from which he penetrated into remote districts of the county Mayo. In the neighbourhood of Belmullet he and his companion visited a district which may serve as a representation of the condition of the labouring class generally in the mountainous and boggy districts, where they burrowed and multiplied, more like a race of inferior animals than human beings. “Many of the cabins,” wrote Mr. Bennet, “were holes in the bog, covered with a layer of turf, and not distinguishable as human habitations from the surrounding moors, until close down upon them. The bare sod was about the best material of which any of them were constructed. Doorways, not doors, were provided at both sides of the latter, mostly back and front, to take advantage of the way of the wind. Windows and chimneys, I think, had no existence. A second apartment or partition of any kind was exceedingly rare. Furniture properly so called, I believe, may be stated at nil. I cannot speak with certainty, and wish not to speak with exaggeration, we were too much overcome to note specifically; but as far as memory serves, we saw neither bed, chair, nor table at all. A chest, a few iron or earthen vessels, a stool or two, the dirty rags and night coverings, formed about the sum total of the best-furnished. Outside many were all but unapproachable from the mud and filth surrounding them; the scene inside is worse, if possible, from the added closeness, darkness, and smoke…. And now language utterly fails me in attempting to depict the state of the wretched inmates…. We entered a cabin. Stretched in one dark corner, scarcely visible from the smoke and rags that covered them, were three children huddled together, lying there because they were too weak to rise, pale and ghastly; their little limbs, on removing a portion of the covering, perfectly emaciated; eyes sunk, voice gone, and evidently in the last stage of actual starvation. Crouched over the turf embers was another form, wild and all but naked, scarcely human in appearance. It stirred not nor noticed us. On some straw, soddened upon the ground, moaning piteously, was a shrivelled old woman, imploring us to give her something, baring her limbs partly to show how the skin hung loose from her bones, as soon as she attracted our attention. Above her, on something like a ledge, was a young woman with sunken cheeks, a mother, I have no doubt, who scarcely raised her eyes in answer to our inquiries; but pressed her hand upon her forehead, with a look of unutterable anguish and despair…. Every infantile expression had entirely departed; and, in some, reason and intelligence had evidently flown. Many were remnants of families, crowded together in one cabin; orphaned little relatives taken in by the equally destitute, and even strangers—for these poor people are kind to each other, even to the end. In one cabin was a sister, just dying, lying beside her little brother, just dead. I have worse than this to relate; but it is useless to multiply details, and they are, in fact, unfit.”
It was not only in the wild and dreary west, always the most neglected part of Ireland, without resident gentry, without a middle class, without manufacturers, and almost without towns, that the desolating effects of the famine were felt. In Ulster, even in the best counties and most thriving manufacturing districts, where the people were intensely industrious, orderly, and thrifty, some of its worst horrors were endured. In the county of Armagh, where the very small farmers kept themselves in comfort by weaving linen in their own houses, they were obliged to work their looms by night as well as by day in order to keep hunger from their homes. They worked till, by exhaustion and want of sleep, they were compelled to lie down. Many of them were obliged to sell or pawn all their clothes. In many cases, and as a last resource, those stout-hearted Presbyterians had to sell their Bibles in order to purchase a meal of food for their children. A clergyman of the Church of England in that county wrote to the Committee of the Society of Friends that he had seen the living lying on straw by the side of the unburied dead, who had died three days before. Not only the aged and infirm, not only women and children, but strong men, he had known to pine away till they died of actual starvation. Strong, healthy girls became so emaciated that they could not stand or move a limb. He visited houses, once comfortable homes, in which not an article of furniture remained. The poor-house of Lurgan was shut. Seventy-five persons died there in one day. In Armagh poor-house forty-five died weekly. The poor-houses became pest-houses, which sent forth the miasma of death into every parish, already full of dysentery and fever. The congregations in the various churches were reduced to almost nothing. Deaths occurred so rapidly that the Roman Catholic priest ceased to attend funerals in his graveyard. The most deplorable accounts came from Cork, and especially from Skibbereen, a remote district of that county. In December, 1846, Father Mathew wrote to Mr. Trevelyan, then Secretary of the Treasury, that men, women, and children were gradually wasting away. They filled their stomachs with cabbage-leaves, turnip-tops, etc., to appease the cravings of hunger. There were then more than 5,000 half-starved wretches from the country begging in the streets of Cork. When utterly exhausted they crawled to the workhouse to die. The average of deaths in that union were then over 100 a week. At Crookhaven the daily average of deaths was from ten to twelve; and as early as the first Sunday in September a collection was made to purchase a public bier, on which to take the coffinless dead to the grave, the means to procure coffins being utterly exhausted in that locality. Earlier still in Skibbereen numerous cases had occurred of the dead being kept for several days above ground for want of coffins. In some cases they were buried in the rags in which they died. Throughout the entire west of the county of Cork it was a common occurrence to see from ten to a dozen funerals in the course of the day during the close of 1846.
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Mr. J. F. Maguire, who writes as an eye-witness of the scenes he describes, referring to the spring of 1847, says:—”The famine now raged in every part of the 佛山桑拿论坛0757 afflicted country, and starving multitudes crowded the thoroughfares of the cities and large towns. Death was everywhere—in the cabin, on the highway, in the garret, in the cellar, and even on the flags or side-paths of the most public streets of the city. In the workhouses, to which the pressure of absolute starvation alone drove the destitute, the carnage was frightful. It was now increasing at prodigious pace. The number of deaths at the Cork workhouse in the last week of January, 1847, was 104. It increased to 128 in the first week in February, and in the second week of that month it reached 164; 396 in three weeks. During the month of April as many as thirty-six bodies were interred in one day in that portion of Father Mathew’s cemetery reserved for the free burial of the poor; and this mortality was entirely independent of 佛山夜生活桑拿论坛 the mortality in the workhouse. During the same month there were 300 coffins sold in a single street in the course of a fortnight, and these were chiefly required for the supply of a single parish. From the 27th of December, in 1846, to the middle of April, in 1847, the number of human beings that died in the Cork workhouse was 2,130! And in the third week of the following month the free interments in the Mathew cemetery had risen to 277—as many as sixty-seven having been buried in one day. The destruction of human life in other workhouses of Ireland kept pace with the appalling mortality in the Cork workhouse. According to official returns, it had reached in April the weekly average of twenty-five per 1,000 inmates; the actual number of deaths being 2,706 for the week ending the 3rd of April, and 2,613 in the following week. 佛山桑拿蒲友网 Yet the number of inmates in the Irish workhouses was but 104,455 on the 10th of April, the entire of the houses not having then been completed.
ON BOARD AN EMIGRANT SHIP AT THE TIME OF THE IRISH FAMINE. (See p. 542.)
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“More than 100 workhouse officers fell victims to the famine fever during this fatal year, which also decimated the ranks of the Catholic clergy of the country. Mr. Trevelyan gives names of thirty English and Scottish priests who sacrificed their lives to their zealous attendance on the immigrant Irish, who carried the pestilence with them in their flight to other portions of the United Kingdom. Pestilence likewise slew its victims in the fetid hold of the emigrant ship, and, following them across the ocean, immolated them in thousands in the lazar houses that fringed the shores of 佛山桑拿按摩兼职qq女 Canada and the United States. The principal business of the time was in meal, and coffins, and passenger ships. A fact may be mentioned which renders further description of the state of the country needless. The Cork Patent Saw Mills had been at full work from December, 1846, to May, 1847, with twenty pairs of saws, constantly going from morning till night, cutting planks for coffins, and planks and scantlings for fever sheds, and for the framework of berths for emigrant ships.”
At the Church of St. Anne, Shandon, under a kind of shed attached to a guard-house, lay huddled up in their filthy fetid rags about forty human creatures—men, women, children, and infants of the tenderest age—starving and fever-stricken, most of them in a dying state, some dead, and all gaunt, yellow, hideous from the combined effects of famine and 佛山桑拿论坛 disease. Under this open shed they had remained during the night, and until that hour—about ten in the morning—when the funeral procession was passing by, and their indescribable misery was beheld by the leading citizens of Cork, including the mayor, and several members of the board of guardians. The odour which proceeded from that huddled-up heap of human beings was of itself enough to generate a plague.
Skibbereen was described as “one mass of famine, disease, and death; the poor rapidly sinking under fever, dysentery, and starvation.” There, as early as the first week in February, 1847, there was constant use for a coffin with movable sides, in which the dead were borne to the grave, and there dropped into their last resting-place. On the whole, the resignation of this stricken people was something wonderful. Outrage was 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙图片 rare, and the violations of the rights of property were not at all so numerous as might have been expected from persons rendered desperate by hunger; and where such things occurred, the depredators were not those who suffered the severest distress. But as the famine proceeded in its desolating course, and people became familiar with its horrors, the demoralising effects of which we have read in such visitations were exhibited in Ireland also. Next to the French, the Irish have been remarkable for their attention to the dead, as well as for the strength of their domestic affections. They had a decent pride in having a respectable “wake” and funeral when they lost any member of the family; and however great their privations were, they made an effort to spare something for the last sad tokens of respect for those they loved. But now there was no mourning for the dead, and but little 佛山夜生活约炮 attention paid to the dying. The ancient and deep-rooted custom with regard to funerals was “swept away like chaff before the wind.” The funerals were rarely attended by more than three or four relatives or friends. Sometimes the work of burial was left entirely to persons hired to do it, and in many cases it was not done at all for five or six days after death, and then it was only by threats and rewards that any persons could be got to perform the dangerous duty.
The demoralisation appeared further in the abuses connected with the distribution of relief. The reports of the Commissioners have stated that, in those districts where the relief committees worked together with zeal and in good faith, the administration was excellent, checking fraud and imposture, while it relieved the really distressed. But in some districts this was unhappily not the case. Abuses existed, 佛山桑拿一条龙 varying from apathy and neglect to connivance at frauds and misappropriation of the funds. Gross impositions were daily practised by the poor. The dead or absent were personated; children were lent for a few days in order to give the appearance of large families, and thus entitle the borrowers to a greater number of rations. Almost the whole population, in many cases, alleged poverty and looked for relief; and then, conceiving the receipt of cooked food a degradation, they endeavoured to compel the issue of raw meal. One universal spirit of mendicancy pervaded the people, to which in several places the committees offered no opposition. Yielding to intimidation, or seeking for popularity, they were willing to place the whole population indiscriminately on the lists to be supported by public charity.
The Marquis of Lansdowne, the President of the Council in the Whig Ministry which had replaced that of Sir Robert Peel, in a speech delivered in the House of Lords on the 25th of January, 1847, gave an estimate, as accurate as the best calculation could make it, of the loss in money value that had been occasioned by the failure of the crops in Ireland. “Taking a valuation of ￡10 per acre for potatoes, and ￡3 10s. for oats, the deficiency on the potato crop alone amounted to ￡11,350,000, while on the crop of oats it amounted to ￡4,660,000, or to a total value of ￡16,010,000 for the whole of a country which, if it could not be said to be the poorest, was certainty not one of the richest in the world. In weight the loss was 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 tons of potatoes. The whole loss had been equivalent to the absolute destruction of 1,500,000 arable acres.” On the same day, Lord John Russell, who had succeeded Peel as Prime Minister, gave a statement of what the Government had done during the recess for the relief of the Irish population, in pursuance of Acts passed in the previous Session. He stated that an immense staff of servants had been employed by the Board of Public Works—upwards of 11,000 persons—giving employment to half a million of labourers, representing 2,000,000 of souls; the expense for the month of January being estimated at from ￡700,000 to ￡800,000.
It was proposed also to form, in certain districts, relief committees, which should be empowered to receive subscriptions, levy rates, and take charge of donations from the Government; and that out of the fund thus raised they should establish soup kitchens, and deliver rations to the famishing inhabitants. Sir John Burgoyne, Inspector-General of Fortifications, was appointed to superintend the works. Lord John Russell referred to measures for draining and reclaiming waste land in Ireland, and to advances of money for this purpose to the proprietors, to be repaid in instalments spread over a number of years. On a subsequent day, in answer to questions from Mr. Roebuck, the noble lord gave a statement of the sums that had already been advanced. ￡2,000,000 had been issued on account of the Poor Employment Act of the last Session. He expected that not less than ￡500,000 or ￡600,000 a month would be spent from the present time until August, and he calculated the whole expenditure would not be less than ￡7,000,000. There was great difference of opinion on the subject of the Government plans. A counter-scheme for the establishment of reproductive works deserves to be noticed for the interest it excited and the attention it occupied for years afterwards—namely, the railway plan of Lord George Bentinck. Acts of Parliament, he said, had been passed for 1,582 miles of railway in Ireland, of which only 123 miles had then been completed, while 2,600 miles had been completed in England. In order to encourage the formation of Irish railways, therefore, he proposed that for every ￡100 expended by the companies ￡200 should be lent by the Government at the same interest at which they borrowed the money, Mr. Hudson, who was “chairman of 1,700 miles of railroad,” pledging his credit that the Government would not lose a shilling by the transaction. By adopting this plan they could give reproductive employment to 109,000 men in different parts of the country, for earth-works, fences, drains, and watercourses connected with the lines. This would give support of 550,000 souls on useful work, tend to develop the resources of the country, and produce such improvement that the railways constructed would add ￡23,000,000 to the value of landed property in twenty-five years, and would pay ￡22,500 a year to the poor rates. The purchase of land for the railways would moreover place ￡1,250,000 in the hands of Irish proprietors, for the employment of fresh labour, and ￡240,000 in the hands of the occupying tenants for their own purposes. The Government also would reap from the expenditure of ￡24,000,000 on railways in Ireland, an enormous increase of revenue in the augmented consumption of articles of excise and customs. The noble lord’s speech, which lasted two hours and a half, was received with cheers from both sides of the House. Leave was given to bring in the Bill, though it was strongly objected to by Lord John Russell, Mr. Labouchere, and other members of the Government. It was also opposed by Sir Robert Peel, who exposed the unsoundness of the economic principles involved in it. The Bill was rejected by a majority of 204, the numbers being 118 for the second reading, and 322 against it. Notwithstanding this decision, loans were subsequently advanced to certain Irish railways, amounting to ￡620,000, so that the objection of the Government was more to the extent than to the principle of Lord George Bentinck’s measure.
As in the whole history of the world, perhaps, so great a calamity as the Irish famine never called for sympathy and relief, so never was a more generous response elicited by any appeal to humanity. The Government and the Legislature did all that was possible with the means at their disposal, and the machinery that already existed, or could be hastily constructed, to meet the overwhelming emergency. The newly established Poor Law system, though useful as far as it went, was quite inadequate to meet such great distress. It had been passed while the country was comparatively prosperous, and contained no provision for such a social disorganisation as this famine. By the Acts of 1 and 2 Victoria, c. 56, no outdoor relief whatever could be given in any circumstances. The size of the unions was also a great impediment to the working of the Poor Law. They were three times the extent of the corresponding divisions in England. In Munster and Connaught, where there was the greatest amount of destitution and the least amount of local agency available for its relief, the unions were much larger than in the more favoured provinces of Ulster and Leinster. The union of Ballina comprised a region of upwards of half a million acres, and within its desert tracts the famine assumed its most appalling form, the workhouse being more than forty miles distant from some of the sufferers. As a measure of precaution, the Government had secretly imported and stored a large quantity of Indian corn, as a cheap substitute for the potato, which would have served the purpose much better had the people been instructed in the best modes of cooking it. It was placed in commissariat dep?ts along the western coast of the island, where the people were not likely to be supplied on reasonable terms through the ordinary channels of trade. The public works consisted principally of roads, on which the people were employed as a sort of supplement to the Poor Law. Half the cost was a free grant from the Treasury, and the other half was charged upon the barony in which the works were undertaken. The expense incurred under the Labour Rate Act, 9 and 10 Victoria, c. 107,” amounted to ￡4,766,789. It was almost universally admitted, when the pressure was over, that the system of public works adopted was a great mistake; and it seems wonderful that such grievous blunders could have been made with so many able statesmen and political economists at the head of affairs and in the service of the Government. The public works undertaken consisted in the breaking up of good roads to level hills and fill hollows, and the opening of new roads in places where they were not required—work which the people felt to be useless, and which they performed only under strong compulsion, being obliged to walk to them in all weathers for miles, in order to earn the price of a breakfast of Indian meal. Had the labour thus comparatively wasted been devoted to the draining, subsoiling, and fencing of the farms, connected with a comprehensive system of arterial drainage, immense and lasting benefit to the country would have been the result, especially as works so well calculated to ameliorate the soil and guard against the moisture of the climate might have been connected with a system of instruction in agricultural matters of which the peasantry stood so much in need, and to the removal of the gross ignorance which had so largely contributed to bring about the famine. As it was, enormous sums were wasted. Much needless hardship was inflicted on the starving people in compelling them to work in frost and rain when they were scarcely able to walk, and, after all the vast outlay, very few traces of it remained in permanent improvements on the face of the country. The system of Government relief works failed chiefly through the same difficulty which impedes every mode of relief, whether public or private—namely, the want of machinery to work it. It was impossible suddenly to procure an efficient staff of officers for an undertaking of such enormous magnitude—the employment of a whole people. The overseers were necessarily selected in haste; many of them were corrupt, and encouraged the misconduct of the labourers. In many cases the relief committees, unable to prevent maladministration, yielded to the torrent of corruption, and individual members only sought to benefit their own dependents. The people everywhere flocked to the public works; labourers, cottiers, artisans, fishermen, farmers, men, women, and children—all, whether destitute or not, sought for a share of the public money. In such a crowd it was almost impossible to discriminate properly. They congregated in masses on the roads, idling under the name of work, the really destitute often unheeded and unrelieved because they had no friend to recommend them. All the ordinary
employments were neglected; there was no fishing, no gathering of seaweed, no collecting of manure. The men who had employment feared to lose it by absenting themselves for any other object; those unemployed spent their time in seeking to obtain it. The whole industry of the country seemed to be engaged in road-making. It became absolutely necessary to put an end to it, or the cultivation of the land would be neglected. Works undertaken on the spur of the moment—not because they were needful, but merely to employ the people—were in many cases ill-chosen, and the execution equally defective. The workers, desirous to protect their employment, were only anxious to give as little labour as possible, in which their overlookers or gangers in many cases heartily agreed. The favouritism, the intimidation, the wholesale jobbing practised
in many cases were shockingly demoralising. The problem was to support 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of destitute persons, and this was in a great measure effected, though at an enormous cost to the empire.
FIGHTING AT THE BARRICADES IN PARIS. (See p. 551.)
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The following statement of the numbers receiving rations, and the total expenditure under the Act in each of the four provinces, compared with the amount of population, and the annual value assessed for poor-rate, may serve to illustrate the comparative means and destitution of each province:—
Population. Valuation. Greatest number
given out. Total
Ulster 2,386,373 ￡3,320,133 346,517 ￡170,598
Leinster 1,973,731 4,624,542 450,606 308,068
Munster 2,396,161 3,777,10
3 1,013,826 671,554
Connaught 1,418,859 1,465,643 745,652 526,048
8,175,124 ￡13,187,421 2,556,601 ￡1,676,268
In order to induce the people to attend to their ordinary spring work, and put in the crops, it was found necessary to adopt the plan of distributing free rations. On the 20th of March, therefore, a reduction of twenty per cent. of the numbers employed on the works took place, and the process of reduction went on until the new system of gratuitous relief was brought into full operation. The authority under which this was administered was called the “Temporary Relief Act,” which came into full operation in the month of July, when the destitution was at its height, and three millions of people received their daily rations. Sir John Burgoyne truly described this as “the grandest attempt ever made to grapple with famine over a whole country.” Never in the history of the world were so many persons fed in such a manner by the public bounty. It was a most anxious time—a time of tremendous labour and responsibility to those who had the direction of this vast machinery. This great multitude was, however, rapidly lessened at the approach of harvest, which happily was not affected by the disease. Food became comparatively abundant, and labour in demand. By the middle of August relief was discontinued in nearly one half of the unions, and ceased altogether on September 12th. It was limited by the Act to the 1st of October. This was the second year in which upwards of 3,000,000 of people had been fed out of the hands of the magistrates in Ireland; but it was now done more effectually than at first. Organised armies, it was said, had been rationed before; but neither ancient nor modern history can furnish a parallel to the fact that upwards of three millions of persons were fed every day in the neighbourhood of their own homes, by administrative arrangements emanating from, and controlled by, one central office. The expense of this great undertaking amounted to ￡1,559,212—a moderate sum in comparison with the extent of the service performed, and in which performance the machinery of the Poor Law unions was found to afford most important aid. Indeed, without such aid the service could hardly have been performed at all; and the anticipations of the advantages to be derived from the Poor Law organisation in such emergencies were fully verified.
The relief committees were also authorised to adopt measures to avert or mitigate the famine fever, which had prevailed to an awful extent. They were to provide temporary hospitals, to ventilate and cleanse cabins, to remove nuisances, and procure the proper burial of the dead, the funds necessary for these objects being advanced by the Government in the same way as for furnishing food. Upwards of 300 hospitals and dispensaries were provided under the Act, with accommodation for at least 23,000 patients, and the sanitary powers which it conferred were extensively acted upon. The expense incurred for these objects amounted to ￡119,000, the whole of which was made a free gift to the unions in aid of the rates. The entire amount advanced by the Government in 1846 and 1847 towards the relief of the Irish people under the fearful calamity to which they were exposed was ￡7,132,286, of which one half was to be repaid within ten years, and the rest was a free grant.
The clergy, Protestant and Roman Catholic, almost the only resident gentry in several of the destitute districts, worked together on the committees with commendable zeal, diligence, and unanimity. Among the Roman Catholic clergy, Father Mathew was at that time by far the most influential and popular. The masses of the peasantry regarded him as almost an inspired apostle. During the famine months he exerted himself with wonderful energy and prudence, first, in his correspondence with different members of the Government, earnestly recommending and urging the speedy adoption of measures of relief; and next in commending those measures to the people, dissuading the hungry from acts of violence, and preaching submission and resignation under the heavy dispensation of Providence. If the temperance organisation established by Father Mathew had been perverted to political purposes by the Repeal agitation, there is no doubt that it contributed in a very large degree to the preservation of life and property during the two awfully trying years of famine. “It is a fact,” said Father Mathew—”and you are not to attribute my alluding to it to vanity—that the late provision riots have occurred in the districts where the temperance movement has not been encouraged. Our people are as harmless in their meetings as flocks of sheep, unless when inflamed and maddened by intoxicating drink. Were it not for the temperate habits of the greater portion of the people of Ireland, our unhappy country would be before now one wide scene of tumult and bloodshed.”
The consumption of Indian corn during the famine caused a great deal of wild speculation in the corn trade. Splendid fortunes were rapidly made, and as rapidly lost. The price of Indian corn in the middle of February, 1847, was ￡19 per ton; at the end of March it was ￡13; and by the end of August it had fallen to ￡7 10s. The quantity of corn imported into Ireland in the first six months was 2,849,508 tons.
The action of private benevolence was on a scale proportioned to the vast exertions of the Government. It is quite impossible to estimate the amount of money contributed by the public for the relief of Irish distress. We know what sums were received by associations and committees; but great numbers sent their money directly, in answer to appeals from clergymen and others, to meet demands for relief in their respective localities. In this way we may easily suppose that abuses were committed, and that much of the money received was misappropriated, although the greater portion of it was honestly dispensed. Among the organisations established for raising contributions, the greatest was the British Relief Association, which had for its chairman and vice-chairman two of our merchant princes—Mr. Jones Loyd, afterwards Lord Overstone, and Mr. Thomas Baring. The amount of subscriptions collected by this association, “for the relief of extreme distress in Ireland and Scotland,” was ￡269,302. The Queen’s letters were issued for collections in the churches throughout England and Wales, and these produced ￡200,738, which was also entrusted to the British Relief Association. These sums made together no less than ￡470,040, which was dispensed in relief by one central committee. One-sixth of the amount was apportioned to the Highlands of Scotland, where there was extensive destitution, and the rest to Ireland. In fact, the amount applied to these objects by the association exceeded half a million sterling, for upwards of ￡130,000 had been obtained by the sale of provisions and seed corn in Ireland, and by interest accruing on the money contributed. In administering the funds placed at their disposal, the committee acted concurrently with the Government and the Poor Law authorities. It wisely determined at the outset that all grants should be in food, and not in money; and that no grant should be placed at the disposal of any individual for private distribution. The committee concluded their report to the subscribers by declaring that although evils of greater or less degree must attend every system of gratuitous relief, they were confident that any evils that might have accompanied the application of the funds would have been far more than counterbalanced by the benefits that had been conferred upon their starving fellow-countrymen, and that if ill-desert had sometimes participated in their bounty, a vast amount of human misery and suffering had been relieved.
But the chief source whence the means at their disposal were derived was the magnificent bounty of the citizens of the United States of America. The supplies sent from America to Ireland were on a scale unparalleled in history. Meetings were held in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and other cities in quick succession, presided over by the first men in the country. All through the States the citizens evinced an intense interest, and a noble generosity, worthy of the great Republic. The railway companies carried free of charge all packages marked “Ireland.” Public carriers undertook the gratuitous delivery of packages intended for the relief of Irish distress. Storage to any extent was offered on the same terms. Ships of war, without their guns, came to the Irish shores on a mission of peace and mercy, freighted with food for British subjects. Cargo after cargo followed in rapid succession, until nearly 100 separate shipments had arrived, our Government having consented to pay the freight of all donations of food forwarded from America, which amounted in the whole to ￡33,000. The quantity of American food consigned to the care of the Society of Friends was nearly ten thousand tons, the value of which was about ￡100,000. In addition to all this, the Americans remitted to the Friends’ Committee ￡16,000 in money. They also sent 642 packages of clothing, the precise value of which could not be ascertained. There was a very large amount of remittances sent to Ireland during the famine by the Irish in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no records of those remittances prior to 1848; but after that time we are enabled to ascertain a large portion of them, though not the whole, and their amount is something astonishing. The following statement of sums remitted by emigrants in America to their families in Ireland was printed by order of Parliament:—During the years 1848, ￡460,180; 1849, ￡540,619; 1850, ￡957,087; 1851, ￡990,811.
CHAPTER XVIII. The Reign of Victoria (continued).
Insecurity of the Orleanist Monarchy—the Spanish Marriages—lord Palmerston’s Foreign Policy—meeting of the French Chambers—prohibition of the Reform Banquet—the Multitude in Arms—Vacillation of Louis Philippe—He Abdicates in favour of His Grandson—Flight of the Royal Family—Proclamation of the Provisional Government—Lamartine quells the Populace—The Unemployed—Invasion of the Assembly—Prince Louis Napoleon—The Ateliers Nationaux—Paris in a State of Siege—The Rebellion quelled by Cavaignac—A New Constitution—Louis Napoleon Elected President of the French Republic—Effect of the French Revolution in England—The Chartists—Outbreak at Glasgow—The Monster Petition—Notice by the Police Commissioners—The 10th of April—The Special Constables—The Duke of Wellington’s Preparations—The Convention on Kennington Common—Feargus O’Connor and Commissioner Mayne—Collapse of the Demonstration—Incendiary Placards at Glasgow—History of the Chartist Petition—Renewed Gatherings of Chartists—Arrests—Trial of the Chartist Leaders—Evidence of Spies—The Sentences.
Louis Philippe, King of the French, had been the subject of constant eulogy for the consummate ability and exquisite tact with which he had governed France for seventeen years. It was supposed that the “Citizen King” had at length taught his restless and impulsive subjects the blessings of constitutional government, and that they were perfectly contented with the free institutions under which it was now their happiness to live. Guizot, regarded as one of the greatest statesmen on the Continent, was at the head of affairs in 1847, and it was hoped that his profound wisdom and keen sagacity would enable him to guard the state against any dangers with which it might be threatened by the Legitimists on one side or the Democrats on the other. But the whole aspect of public affairs in France was deceptive, and the unconscious monarch occupied a throne which rested on a volcano. The representative government of which he boasted was nothing but a sham—a gross fraud upon the nation. The basis of the electoral constituency was extremely narrow, and majorities were secured in the Chambers by the gross abuse of enormous government patronage. The people, however, saw through the delusion, and were indignant at the artifices by which they were deceived. The king, who interfered with his Ministers in everything, and really directed the Government, was proud of his skill in “managing” his Ministry, his Parliament, and the nation. But the conviction gained ground everywhere, and with it arose a feeling of deep resentment, that he had broken faith with the nation, that he had utterly failed to fulfil his pledges to the people, who had erected the barricades, and placed him upon the throne in 1830. The friends of the monarchy were convinced that it could only be saved by speedy and effectual reform. But the very name of Reform was hateful to the king, and his aide-de-camp took care to make known to the members of the Chambers his opinions and feelings upon the subject. M. Odillon Barrot, however, originated a series of Reform banquets, which commenced in Paris, and were held in the principal provincial cities, at which the most eminent men in the country delivered strong speeches against political corruption and corrupters, and especially against the Minister who was regarded as their chief defender—Guizot.
While thus tottering on the verge of revolution the Orleanist monarchy had the misfortune to affront the British Court. The reason of the rupture is known to history as the affair of the Spanish marriages, of which it is enough to say here that Louis Philippe succeeded in marrying the young Queen of Spain to her cousin, the Duke of Cadiz, who was imbecile, while at the same time he secured the hand of her sister for his youngest son, the Duc de Montpensier. Thus he apparently acquired the reversion of the throne for his family, but the coup was effected in defiance of pledges made repeatedly to Lord Aberdeen and continued to his successor at the Foreign Office, Lord Palmerston. It was undoubtedly the advent of the latter to power which hurried on the conclusion of the intrigue. Louis Philippe and Guizot suspected him of trying to secure the hand of the Queen of Spain for a prince of the House of Coburg, and was justified to a certain extent by an imprudent despatch sent by the English Foreign Secretary to our Minister at Madrid. Thereupon the King of the French frightened the Queen-Mother of Spain into giving her consent to the marriages, which were celebrated simultaneously on the 10th of October, 1846. The calculating cunning displayed by Louis Philippe and the deliberate sacrifice of a young girl to sordid requirements of State aroused a feeling of universal disgust. From Queen Victoria the proceedings provoked a letter to Louis Philippe’s queen, which concluded with the scathing remark—”I am glad that I can say for myself that I have always been sincere with you.” It was in fact, as her Foreign Minister wrote to his brother, “a twister.”
LOUIS PHILIPPE HEARS OF THE REVOLUTION. (See p. 551.)
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Thus the entente cordiale was broken, and the two Powers were left isolated in Europe, for the efforts of Louis Philippe to form an alliance with the Austrian Court were without success. In the circumstances Lord Palmerston’s foreign policy during these eventful years was inevitably somewhat unsatisfactory. When Austria, in defiance of pledges, annexed the Republic of Cracow, he could only issue a solitary protest, which was completely disregarded. In Portugal affairs were once more in complete confusion, the Conservative party, headed by the Queen, being in arms against the so-called Liberals led by Das Antas. Palmerston left them to fight it out until foreign intervention appeared inevitable from Spain, if not from France; then he made an offer of help to the Queen Donna Maria, on condition that she would grant a general amnesty and appoint a neutral Administration. The terms were accepted by the Conservatives. The Liberal Junta submitted on hearing that its fleet had been captured by the British, and the civil war came to an end. Meanwhile, in Switzerland Lord Palmerston was upholding the cause of the Diet against the secessionist cantons known as the Sonderbund, by refusing to countenance the intervention of the Powers in Swiss affairs, which was advocated by Prince Metternich and also by Guizot. For a moment his position was dangerous, as Guizot declared that the opportunity had come for France to take vengeance upon England by forming another Quadruple Treaty, from which Great Britain should be excluded. But the prompt victory of the Diet’s general, Dufour, over the forces of the Sonderbund saved the situation, and owing to Palmerston’s representations the victorious party abstained from vindictive measures. Thus revolution was postponed in Europe for another year, and Palmerston attempted similar results in Italy, whither he sent Lord Minto, the First Lord of the Admiralty, on a special mission to support constitutional reforms in Sardinia and at Rome, where the new Pope, Pius IX. by title, was supposed to be the friend of progress. But the blind hostility of Metternich prevailed. The reforms granted by his puppet princes were wholly insufficient in extent, and events in Italy were evidently hastening towards an upheaval, when the train of the European explosion was fired in France.
The French Chambers were summoned for the 28th of December, and the king opened them in person, reading a Speech which was vague, vapid, and disappointing. It contained one passage, however, which was sufficiently intelligible. It was a denunciation and a defiance of Reform. He said:—”In the midst of the agitation fomented by hostile and blind passions, one conviction sustains and animates me—it is that in the Constitutional monarchy, in the union of the great powers of the State, we possess the most assured means of surmounting all obstacles, and of satisfying the moral and material interests of our dear country.” Next day a meeting of the Opposition deputies was held in Paris at the Café Durand, in the Place de la Madeleine, when it was proposed that they should all send in their resignations. This would cause 102 elections, at which the conduct of the Government would be fully discussed at the hustings in different parts of the country. This was objected to by the majority, who were for holding a banquet in defiance of the Government. A committee was appointed to make the arrangements, and the announcement caused the greatest excitement. On the 21st of February, 1848, the Government issued a proclamation forbidding the banquet, which was to take place on the following day. The prohibition was obeyed; the banquet was not held. In the meantime, great numbers of people arrived in Paris from the country, and immense multitudes from all the faubourgs assembled at the Madeleine, in the Champs Elysées, and at the Place de la Concorde, consisting for the most part of workmen and artisans. The people seemed violently agitated, as if prepared for the most desperate issues. The troops were under arms, however, and the king, who was in the gayest humour, laughed with his courtiers at the pretensions of Barrot and the reformers. The excitement, however, increased every moment. When the troops came near the crowd, they were received with hisses and assailed with stones. The Rue Royale, the Rue de Rivoli, and Rue St. Honoré, were cleared and occupied by cavalry, and the populace were driven into the back streets, where some barricades were constructed, and some occasional shots exchanged between the military and the insurgents. The principal struggles, however, were between the people and the Municipal Guard, which they abhorred. Wherever they met through the city, the conflict became fierce, sanguinary, and ruthless. But the National Guard had no such animosity against the people; on the contrary, they sympathised with them thoroughly, raised with them the cry of “Vive la Réforme,” and refused to act against them. The king could not be got to believe this fact till the last moment.
On the 23rd the aspect of the insurgent multitude became more fierce, daring, and determined. Guizot had announced the resignation of his Cabinet; the king had sent for Count Molé, then for M. Thiers, who was asked to form a new Ministry. He declined unless Odillon Barrot became one of his colleagues. The king gave a reluctant consent, but Barrot was not prepared to sanction measures of military repression. Marshal Bugeaud, the hero of Algiers, whose exploits there made his name terrible, had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the first military division, and of the National Guard of Paris, but the National Guard were not prepared to fight against the people. The people, knowing this, shouted, “Vive la Garde Nationale!” and the National Guard shouted, “Vive la Réforme!” In the evening, about seven o’clock, an immense body of the working classes formed in procession, headed by men carrying blazing torches, and marching along the Boulevards, chanted two lines of the Girondists’ song—
“Mourir pour la patrie,
C’est le sort le plus beau, le plus digne d’envie!”
This was only interrupted by the cries of “à bas Guizot!” “à bas les Ministres!” These cries, everywhere received with electrical enthusiasm, were uttered with the greatest bitterness about Guizot’s house, where an incident occurred that, whether intended or not, sealed the fate of the Orleans dynasty. The people were pressing on the military, and in the confusion a man named Lagrange stepped forward and shot the commanding officer. The troops then fired point blank into the dense mass, and many were killed. When the firing ceased, a funeral procession was rapidly formed, the bodies were collected and placed upon a large cart, their still bleeding wounds exposed under the glare of torchlight. The effect may be imagined: it thrilled the whole city with feelings of horror and revenge.
New barricades were now raised at the end of almost every street, and the astonished army, who had received no orders either to attack or retreat, remained passive spectators of the insurrection, a prey to emotions of terror and grief. At daybreak on the 23rd Paris was a vast battlefield. Upon the barricades, hastily constructed of overturned omnibuses, carts, furniture, and large paving-stones, were seen glistening weapons of every size and form. “Vengeance, vengeance, for the murders committed under the windows of Guizot!” was the only cry. The people did not for a moment doubt that the deed was done by the order of that Minister. Their feelings were still more inflamed by the appointment of Bugeaud. Even at this moment, however, the king could with difficulty be brought to see his position. However, his eyes were opened at last, when too late, and a proclamation was issued announcing that Barrot and Thiers were charged by the king with the formation of a Ministry; that the Chamber would be dissolved; that General Lamoricière was Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of Paris, instead of Bugeaud (whose appointment was cancelled); and concluding with the words, “Liberté, Ordre, union, Réforme.” Barrot himself rode along the Boulevards to explain the nature of the changes, but without effect. The people had lost all faith in the king; they would trust him no more; nothing would satisfy them but his dethronement. On the morning of the 24th of February the royal family were assembled in the gallery of Maria, where breakfast was about to be served. At this moment it was announced to the king that the troops were quitting their ranks, and delivering up their arms to the people. The Tuileries were now filled with deputies and functionaries of all parties and ranks, all bringing the same tidings, that the city was in possession of the insurgents; that the army had fraternised with the people; that the école Polytechnique were behind the barricades; that the troops had delivered up their muskets and cartouches, and the Revolution was everywhere triumphant. The fatal word, “abdication,” was pronounced. The king faltered, but the heroic queen energetically resisted. But, while she spoke, the insurgents were attacking the last post which protected the Tuileries. The fusillade which thundered in the Place du Carrousel reverberated in the chamber in which the king then stood, and already an armed multitude was entering the palace of the ancient kings of France. Thereupon the king abdicated in favour of his young grandson, the Count of Paris, whom his mother, the Duchess of Orleans, presented to the Chamber of Deputies. It was, however, too late; the Revolution had got the upper hand. The king and queen had escaped through the garden of the Tuileries, and hastened to the gate which opens upon the Place de la Concorde. After various vicissitudes they arrived at Honfleur at eight o’clock, on the 26th of February, and after many hairbreadth escapes and fruitless efforts to sail from Trouville, they embarked on the 2nd of March at Honfleur, for Havre, among a crowd of ordinary passengers, with a passport made out in the name of William Smith. There he was received by the English Consul. He embarked in the Express, which arrived at Newhaven on the 3rd of March. The royal party reached Claremont, and remained there, under the protection of Queen Victoria, whom he had not long since visited in regal pomp, and whom he had welcomed with parental affection at the Chateau d’Eu. Such are the vicissitudes of human life! He died at Claremont on the 26th of August, 1850, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
The first proclamation issued by the Provisional Government was the following:—”A retrograde Government has been overturned by the heroism of the people of Paris. This Government has fled, leaving behind it traces of blood, which will for ever forbid its return. The blood of the people has flowed, as in July; but, happily, it has not been shed in vain. It has secured a national and popular Government, in accordance with the rights, the progress, and the will of this great and generous people. A Provisional Government, at the call of the people, and some deputies, in the sitting of the 24th of February, is for the moment invested with the care of organising and securing the national victory. It is composed of MM. Dupont (de L’Eure), Lamartine, Crémieux, Arago, Ledru Rollin, and Garnier Pagès. The secretaries to this Government are MM. Armand Marrast, Louis Blanc, and Ferdinand Flocon.” Scarcely had the ex-king found a resting-place on British soil than every vestige of royalty was obliterated in France.