March 8, 1847
(From Our Correspondent)
DUBLIN, March 1
Government Supply of Seed
From the following letter, addressed to me Irish landed proprietors by Mr. George McCartney, of Lissanoors-Castle, county of Antrim, it will be seen that the promise of Government aid towards supplying the people with stores of seed, corn, & c., has dwindled down to an intimation, conveyed through Sir Randolph Routh, that the issue will be limited to some beans and peas, now on the way to this country, and seeds for green crops purchased by the Treasury, to be distributed only upon the order of relief committees. As might be anticipated, this announcement has created the greatest dissatisfaction here:
"To the Landed Proprietors of Ireland.
"Sackville -street Club, Feb. 27
"Gentlemen, Induced by the statement of Her Majesty's Minister, Lord J. Russell, on propounding, at the opening of Parliament, his measures of relief for Ireland, that advances would be made to procure seedcorn as follows:
"'There was another proposal, of which, though of doubtful tendency, he was inclined to try the experiment; he proposed to advance 50,000l. to be repaid on or before the 31st of December, 1847, to the proprietors of Ireland, to furnish seed for sowing their lands; he did nto intend to advance any part of it to the small cottier tenantry, as it might not be used for the purpose for which it was intended, but he thought if the advances were made to the proprietors of the soil, the measure might be safe and useful.' [See Lord J. Russell's speech, Monday 25th Jan.]
"I therefore entered into arrangements (provided I could obtain a loan from the Government in accordance with the foregoing statement, and which was in a subsequent debate confirmed by Mr. Labouchere, as also that the advances would not be restricted to 50000 l.) to procure about 40 tons of sound seed oats from Scotland, to distribute amongst my smaller tenantry in the county of Antrim, and waited on Sir. R. Routh on Friday for the purpose claiming a loan, when he stated it was not the intion of the Government to make any advances for seed corn, his duty and that of the commissariat, as regarded seeds, being strictly confined to the issuing of some peas and beans, then on the way, and seeds for green crops, which had been purchased by the Treasury, as advised by Mr. Trevelyan, to be issued from the commissariat stores in Ireland, only upon the orders of relief committees, and that no seed corn, or funds for the purchase of the same, should be issued, the growing opinion of all parties in England being against any interference in such a matter. I therefore take this mode of communicating the result of my demand for a loan for seed corn, lest others, placing faith in Lord J. Russell's opening speech, may have been induced to depend upon a loan to procure seed corn for their suffering tenantry. Whilst, at the same time, placement in shoals are daily arriving to fatten on the vitals of your estates in the administration of the Poor Relief Act, by indiscriminate outdoor relief, the paltry aid of 50000l. or 100,000l. towards cropping the grounds fo the small farmers is withheld at the intance of Trevelyan, the commissariat and the political economist of the merchants of London.
"I remain, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
"50,000L. would supply turnip seed for 350,000 acres, at 10d. per lb., at 23 lb. to the acres; whilst it is a melancholy fact that there are not 20,000 acres of tenants' land prepared or fit to receive such a crop."
The Galway papers of Saturday bring lamentable reports of the spread of destitution in that county. A Roman Catholic clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Newel) thus writes of the state of Oranmore and the surrounding district:
"The wholesale destruction of human life, occurring here from want of the necessities of life, is fast approximating to what we have read and heard of Skibbereen a few weeks ago, and we shuddered to have to record deaths from starvation by 'units,' but now, alas, we have to compute them by dozens! No less than 54 individuals (men, women, children) have perished of want since December last in th parishes of Oranmore and Ballinacourty; and if the Government, from any compunctious feelings, shall required to ascertain, through their "Relief Commissionerss,' the number of starved wretches provided for in the grave, I shall be able to furnish them with a truly black list, well authenticated, showing the names, and residences of the person victimised here, to the so much spoken of political economy of our rulers. Hitherto, the Relig Committee here have given coffins for the interment of starved dead -- but they are becoming so numerous now that it has been resolved, instead of procuring the common decency of burial for the dead, to reserve the relief fund for the support of the living. I fear much that the want of coffins for the burial of the dead will cause them to be unburied, and to generate infection, more disastrous to human life than the wantof food itself. The unusual occurrence here of a human being having been interred without the decency of a coffin took place (as I have heard) in the parish of Ballinacourty a few days ago, when the corpse, after five or six days unburied, was at last sacked up in a coarse canvas and deposited in its parent earth. Another horrifying circumstance occurred near Oranmore, of a poor wretched woman named Redington, perishing during the night time, and in the morning her lifeless body was found partially devoured by rats."
A letter from Loughrea, published in the Galway Mercury, contains the following passage. The writer evidently labours under the anti-Russell mania:
"The distress in Loughrea at present is at its utmost height; and any alleviation of that daily increasing distress need not be expected, at least from the Whig Government. That such is the general and growing opinion of almost the entire rural population might be easily inferred from the expressions of unqualified condemnation which were given vent to by all of them with whom I, on this day, happened to hold any conversation. They believe that the Government are determined to systematically put to death one half of the people. With such an opinion daily gaining ground, it is not easy to calculate how long, or why, the Whigs ought to remain in place and power. Under their regime provisions have risen to double the famine price. On this day (Thursday) wheat has been sold at from 55s. to 60s. per barrel, and oats reached up to the enormous price of from 29s. to 30s. per barrel, and who can tell but that, a few markets hence, the above articles may reach so high as to be almost above purchase. It is no wonder then that the people should be panic-stricken, especially when the wisest and best amongst us has no hope in the Whig Administration."