January 30, 1847
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 dispatched, 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.