September 1847

September 1, 1847

The last American mail brings further distressing accounts of the sufferings of the emigrants arriving in Canada. After the first embarrassment, caused by the sudden outburst of a fierce plague, some amendment occurred in the reception given to the sufferers at Montreal, but the prospect was still darkening, and matters becoming worse there. Thirteen ships arrived in one week at Grosse Island, all, to a greater or less extent, afflicted with fever.

The greatest disaster from disease upon the deep, as yet recorded, befell the "Virginus," which left this port (Cork.) This vessel lost 156 out of 496 passengers, with all but two of the crew, and forty of the survivors died soon after reaching the shore. She was a long time at sea, and was short of provisions.

The health of New York continued good, owing in a great measure to the activity with which the emigrants were pushed on from the towns on the sea, and prevented from generating pestilence by stopping there; but they carried it inwards, and at Albany upon the river Hudson, the chief mortality arose from the disease thus introduced.

The difference between the healthiness of the emigrants to the United States and those to British America is accounted for by the inferiority of the ships sailing to the latter country, which made them more eagerly sought for by the humblest class on account of the lower fare. From the nature of the trade in which they are engaged, the transport of timber, the risk of their failing in open sea is diminished one-half, by the whole voyage to Europe, as with such a cargo they weather it out while a plank sticks together. This circumstance causes less attention to be paid to their sea-worthiness, since they are laden half the way with what can't sink, and the other with a freight, which is thought no loss if it do.

Apart from the crowded state of these wretched ships, and their insecurity for life, the constant wet on board of them, and their other defective qualities have contributed to render the unhappy passengers still more certainly a prey to infectious distemper.

September 3, 1847

WE have been informed by a Bantry correspondent of a fact which strongly bears upon the statements reported in our paper of Monday last, in connection with that calamitous district.

It appears that a man of the name of Harrington, a smith, resident at Droumgeriffe, near Glengariff, died upon the 31st ult., from want of sufficiency of food. --His removal from the relief was in obedience to one of those general orders of the Commissioners, detailed in the proceedings before referred to, and to the additional interdict of their inspecting officer; --preventive, under pain of a total stoppage of relief in the district, to his, or any other sufferers' name being restored to these lists within the prohibited classes.

This poor man had been ill for some time, was married, and had a family. --He had not had, for some time back, work adequate to his support, and had therefore been on the relief lists. His name was recently removed, he being in the rejected class of tradesmen. He could not have entered the Poor-house, without having abandoned his house and furniture-- his forge and implements of trade.

The law had given him a right to have received relief under the Temporary Relief Act. The Commissioners, and those assuming to act for them had taken the relief thus provided for him by that law, from him. His case was one of those ready to have been gone into on the 25th instant; but the declaration which had previously been made by the Inspecting Officer, that no danger to individuals-- no, not even though death was to be apprehended-- would induce him to add to their lists by the of rejected names, rendered it unavailing to have urged insertion his case in particular.

An inquest would be applied for, to ascertain the cause of this man's death, and whether it, in reality, was or not, the consequence and result of those recent orders; but that the magistrates have declared before, as reported heretofore by us, that they would hold no more inquests in cases of this description. It was a safe and cautious determination.

At whose door does this death lie?

September 6, 1847

THE Saunders of Friday furnishes us with an affecting statement of the privations and wretched condition of a steamboat-load of unfortunate people who were flung, as it were, on the Quays of Dublin, having been driven from the hospitable shores of our "sister" England. This ship-load of Irish destitution was composed of Irish reapers and Irish paupers; the latter of whom were grabbed up by the humane officials of generous England, and thrust on board a steamer, without provision for the voyage, or shelter against the inclemency of the weather, and the exposure of a wild night and an open deck. So that England was freed from the human rubbish, what cared the merciful Poor-law authorities and their tender-hearted officials! If the wretches died on the voyage, it was only one of those casualties which daily happen; and "we all must pay the grand debt, sooner or later."

The sick, the feeble, the fevered, the starving, were accordingly gathered from various places, from Rochdale as well as Liverpool; a loaf was placed in their trembling hands; and thus fortified against cold and hunger, they were shipped for the land of rags and starvation. The Saunders tells us that a boy died of fever on the passage; and that a reaper died soon after the arrival of the vessel at the Quay in Dublin. In each case the wanton and reckless exercise of authority, and the operation of a brutal law, accelerated the deaths of these new victims of English rule.

And yet, we are told that both countries are one and inseparable, while the people of this unhappy land are driven from the shores of England as soon as they are stricken by poverty or disease! When do we hear of an Englishman or a Scotchman being treated in a similar manner by the Poor-law authorities of this country? When do Irishmen drive from amongst them a stranger who has grown grey with toil in their service? When do they hunt out a fellow creature afflicted by the hand of GOD? Thank Heaven! we have not as yet become as heartless and merciless as our civilized and enlightened Saxon neighbours, who think it no crime, but a praiseworthy act of prudence, to send back to his native land a worn-out Irish mechanic, who has expended all his strength, and industry, and skill in adding to the wealth of England-- no violation of Christian charity to deny shelter and succour to a fever-stricken brother. . .

September 8, 1847

WE are glad to learn that, owing to the decrease of fever in Boston and New York, the quarantine regulations are now suspended there-- this argues well for the sanitary regulations put in force by the Americans during the fearful contagion that so lately visited them. Since last week there has been no quarantine observed on passengers at Liverpool. Of course this does not include Quebec and the ports of British North America, where for the want of such timely precautions as the authorities of the State insisted upon, such gross mortality now prevails.

September 10, 1847

Bantry, Sept. 6th, 1847.

SIR,-- This ill-fated and almost depopulated town became this day the scene of indescribable confusion. The withdrawal of the rations, coupled with the frightful prospect of an approaching winter, have blighted all hopes of existence, and goaded the enraged multitude to desperation. The consequences were painfully exhibited this day. The wretched and famished inhabitants of the neighbouring parishes proceeded to town, and from thence to the Workhouse, where they demanded admission, and as might be expected, were refused. They were not long supplicating, when a large party of military and police were on the ground, commanded by a Captain and Sub-Inspector of Constabulary, all under the control of minor Hutchinson, J.P.

At this stage of the proceedings, the hungry and disappointed applicants commenced uprooting a plot of potato ground attached to the Workhouse; but the military obliged them to retreat as quickly as their exhausted strength would permit them. Some of the dispersed people plucked up some turnips, and eat them whilst retiring. Still nothing serious occurred. Three only were captured for the very clamourous manner in which they sought to obtain food.

It is rumoured here that the melancholy scenes of this day are to be renewed on to-morrow and each succeeding day, until the people find a refuge in the Workhouse.


September 15, 1847

A correspondent from Dungarvan writes to us concerning spectacle to be commonly witnessed in the neighbourhood of that town, the existence of which is a public reproach. It consists in the congregation there of hosts of families, who have been evicted from their small holdings in the surrounding country, and have taken refuge in ditches and other places in the vicinity. In such abodes, any language would be inadequate to express the condition of those unfortunates, who seem stupefied from excessive suffering into an almost insensible state. Their mode of living levels them almost with brutes.

At one quarter, where a bank of stones runs along a high-road, they have formed in it cells of a few feet wide. Here whole families have been thrown promiscuously, whose condition is an offence to the feeling of the community. Pent up in such dens, fever preys incessantly upon the bodies of those miserable creatures.

It appears that the magistrates, conscious of the disgrace of suffering the neighbourhood to be barbarized by such spectacles, tried to repress them by the powers of the new vagrancy law; but from the numbers to be dealt with, after the first display of legal severity, that attempt had to be abandoned, as absurd and inhuman.

September 17, 1847

THE following is an extract from the letter of an emigrant, addressed to one of his friends in this city, and received by the last mail from Boston. It contains a vivid and painful picture of the emigrant catastrophe in Canada. The letter is dated from the barque Bridgetown, lying off Grosse island, in front of Quebec, which, it appears, was converted to a vast burial place:--

We arrived here on the 22nd from Liverpool. I regret to tell you that fever broke out, and that seventy passengers and one sailor were committed to the deep on the voyage. There are several more ill. We buried six yesterday on shore. The carpenter and joiner are occupied making coffins. There are six more dead after the night. I cannot say when we can go to Quebec, as we cannot land the remainder of the sick at present, there being no room in the hospitals for them, though the front of the island is literally covered with sheds and tents.

The accounts from the shore are awful, and our condition on board you can form no idea of-- helpless children without parents or relatives, the father buried in the deep last week, and the mother the week before,-- their six children under similar unfortunate circumstances, and so on. I trust God will carry me through this trying ordeal-- I was a few days sick, but am now recovered. Captain Wilson was complaining for a few days. It is an awful change from the joyous hopes with which most of us left our unfortunate country, expecting to be able to earn that livelihood denied us at home-- all-- all changed in many cases to bitter deep despair.

September 20, 1847

We understand that arrangements are being made for the organization of a new system of poor relief for the coming season, but of the details of the system intended to be adopted we have as yet heard nothing. The only fact that has at present transpired is, that all the corn stores which were lately occupied by the Commissariat, and which were a short time since closed up, have been retaken for the purpose, of course, of laying by bread-stuffs of every description to meet the emergency expected to arise.

From everything we can learn, the harvest of this year is abundant; but still the effects of the blight that has fallen on the potato crop, will, for a long time to come, be felt by the people, for whom provision will have to be made even after the potato has regained its former healthy fecundity.

As we have observed already we know nothing as yet of the plans of the Government. All we know is, that the Commissariat staff has been again put into a state of activity, and that measures are on foot to have the depots lately occupied by that department again filled with bread-stuffs in anticipation of another season of scarcity. --Galway Vindicator

September 20, 1847 - #2

A most afflicting case of eviction, on a large scale, has been communicated to us. The scene of the expulsion is Tonnymageera, near Mount Nugent, in the county Cavan, where ninety nine houses were pulled down, and the unfortunate occupants set adrift upon the world. Five houses upon the property have for the present escaped; they have not as yet been leveled, because the occupants are afflicted with the pestilence which has so effectually aided the "clearance system."

The estate in question is, for the present, under the administration of the Court of Chancery; but, we need scarcely say, the case is one in which the court had no discretionary power; neither had the receiver in the cause any option. He had postponed the evil day as long as he could, and, furthermore, we understand, did all in his power to alleviate the sufferings of the mass of human beings thrown out on the highways, without a home-- without shelter or sustenance. --Evening Post.

September 24, 1847

THE REV. PETER MURRAY, R.C. Administrator, writing to the Freeman from Moat, says--

Within a mile of this town, in the course of last week, eleven families were driven from their homes, which were torn down.

From the same property, about a year since, twenty-one families were cleared away. I think it would be culpable to allow such doings to escape public notice any longer. Many of these unfortunate tenants were able and willing to pay their rents-- many of them had large families-- the neighbouring families were prohibited, under the most severe penalties, to give them the shelter of their houses even for a night. Who is the culpable party?

Thus the work goes bravely on; but the "culpable party" is now before the tribunal of public opinion, where his pleadings must go for what they are worth.

September 29, 1847

SIR-- Permit me to ask, through your valuable paper, the gentry and merchants of Cork, if they would aid, and help to establish, in the harbour of Cork, something like Captain Thomas and Major Beamish have done for Cosheen-- viz, by advancing money to purchase the necessary gear, and getting boats sufficiently large to permit the fishermen to venture with safety further off the coast than they are accustomed at present to do. I would particularly call the attention of the Society of Friends-- who last winter proved to the poor of this city that they were to them friends indeed. If some good member of their Society would undertake this, he would be doing a great good.

This winter the poor will be very badly off and any way we increase the food of the people we confer public good. Will you, Sir, publish this note, and, please God, some good man will do something to establish this valuable undertaking-- let us not be waiting for Government to assist us-- "Aid yourselves and Heaven will aid you," --Your obedient servant,