March 20, 1846
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
DUBLIN, March 18.
THE APPREHENDED SCARCITY.
The Cork Reporter of yesterday has a long article complaining of the "evils of delay," and asserting, that while parties in the state and elsewhere are squabbling among themselves as to what is to be deemed the starvation test, sickenss and famine are already doing their work.
"The afflicting spectacle," says the Reporter, "of man and wife borne to the grave from fever was witnessed in our streets yesterday. The melancholy procession and the cry by whichthey were followed, sufficiently attested the class to which they belonged -- they were of the poor. Three of their orphans are struggling with the same malady and remain in the same buliding from which they were removed. How many,let us ask, must perish before any of the four bills laterlypassed is in operation, or any of the food in hand distributed? Are we to have nothing and hear of nothing but precautions? Will the Fabian policy conquer hunger and subdue in pestilence? As yet no family has had a meal of the state-imported corn. It is here -- it is on the way -- it is grinding -- sailing -- travelling from one estuary to another. It is talked of -- one day it is off the harbour, another at the quays; the next it is reloaded and wafted won the river, and the last announcement left it off the coast of Dingle, where the ship that bore it loomed through the mist like the Flying Dutchman, disappearing, perhaps, to attract the anxious gaze of the watchers on some other shore. We have the substantial proof of food being really here in the daily marching and counter-marching of marines and regulars, but beyond that we have no gratification. The people do not well know how to apply or where to come to; the distant parishes have heard rumors, but yet require information. They have received hints and read letters once or twice, but there is no public proclamation of the terms on which they are to apply for sustenance. They have goneon eating or fasting on the tainted potato, imbibing mortal disease, and have sickened, died or starved, while the machinery of grand jury and other intervention was preparing. Food and employment ought to be afforded at once, instantly. We have said so over and over; we repeated the warning until we grew tired of the reiteration."
After briefly noticing the fever report recently laid upon the table of the House of Commons, the Reporter thus continues:
"Unsound potatoes have bred typhus. The sick are in some cases quintupled; contagion is fearful; even the word we fear to write -- cholera is apprehended. Why is this? Where is it to end? Precautions were taken. Every wise and sufficient antidote was contemplated. The plans were faultless, the scheme of the campaign against the double foe of famine and pestilence was without a flaw. Sir R. Peel assures us he had foreseen all that was to happen, but how many are they whohave gone to the grave through the wards of the hospitals while he and his colleagues were quarreling and pondering, resigning and resuming office? We repeat our question: what is the number of dead we must first count over before food will begin to be distributed?"
And by way of bearing out the foregoing remarks, the following correspondence is quoted:
"Mayor's office, Cork, March 11, 1846.
"My Lord -- I take the liberty of addressing your Excellency in compliance witha resolution adopted by the trustees of the Poor Relief Fund of this city, and as the chariman of the meeting held on Friday last. It is unnecessary for me to go into the numerous and most painful details of the deep distress of the poor of Cork, and of its alarming progress; but I am directed lay before your excellency the humbel prayers of the committee, that immediate measures may be taken for a general issue and sale of Indian corn and oatmeal to the pooreer classes, who are at this moment for the most part subsisting on rotten potatoes, and among whom disease is already making fearful ravages.
"I have the honour to be, my Lord
"Your obedient and humble servant
"A.F. ROCHER, Mayor of Cork
"To His Excellency William Lord Heytesbury
"Lieutenant Governor and General Governor of Ireland, Dublin Castle."
"Dublin Castle, March 14, 1846
"Sir, -- I am commanded by the Lord Lieutenant to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th , and to acquaint you , that by his Excellency's directions, your communication, with its accompanying resolutions of the trustees of the Poor Relief Fund of the city of Cork, has been sent to the commissioners for inquiring into all matters relating to the failure of the potato crop, for their consideration.
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your obedient servant.
With respect to the scarcity or failure of the potato crop, another Cork paper (the Constitution) contains the fllowing cautious statement:
"Amid all the talk which we hear about potatoes, we find nothing to guide us to a satisfactory estimate, or even conjecture, as to the actual supply in the country. On one hand we have nothing but fearful forebodings -- the stock is exhausted and famine stares us in the face; on the other, we are told of stores that will bring us safely through the season, and that the noise about scarcity is only a political device. Applied to different districts there may be truth in both. Throughout the controversy we have endeavored to to steer clear of extremes. We have given no credence to the exaggerations of even officals information, but have endeavored to set before our readers as they came in our way, such accounts as from the opportunities of the writers, appeared most worthy of attention. We believe the fact to be that in some places there is a sufficiency -- in others, the reverse; and we are not without hope that with the precautions taken by Government, we shall be able to struggle on until the new crop comes in. But on the part of the poor, the struggle will be severe. Even at present, the price is beyond their reach; but this is in a great measure owing to the habit of forestalling. The potatoes are purchased before they enter the market, and there retailed to the consumer at an enormous profit. Thus while they bring in the market from 9d to 11d per weight, they are selling from the boats at 7 d. . . . During the week a gentleman, observing four cartloads of fine-looking potatoes in the street, asked the owner the price. The answer was, 'Sir, we couldn't sell them under sixpence;' yet though offered at those terms, theyhad been brought from within a mile of Mallow. The consumer, however, was probably nothing better for the moderationof the owner, for we dare say they fell into the hands of the forestaller, and were by him sold at nearly double the sixpence. We mention these facts, as it is well that, while we take all prudent precautions to meet any danger of which there may be reasonable apprehension, people should be warned against lending themselves to either pecuniary or political designs by exciting fears and spreading alarms for which there is no foundation."
The proceedings of an anti-famine meeting, held at Mallow on Saturday, were diversified toward their conclusion by the following dialogue: --
"EDMUND WALSH, a working farmer, addressing the meeting from one of the galleries, said that he was turned out of his land by Mr. Pierce Nagle, though hehad paid his rent, and it was the adopting of such courses as this toward the poor tenants that injured the country.
"REV. MR. M'CARTHY -- How many were ejected from that property for the last 10 years?
"WALSH -- I suppose 50 or 60 families.
"MR. M'CARTHY -- Is this Mr. Nagle, of Annakissy?
"WALSH -- It is.
"MR. M'CARTHY -- Were they put out for non-payment of rent?
"WALSH -- No; they all paid their rent; I was only a yearly tenant, and my term was expired.
"MR. M'CARTHY -- Is your rent paid?
"WALSH -- It is, Sir.
"MR. GIBSON thought such matters as these were worthy of inquiry, but this was not the place to entertain them.