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The speech of the Earl of Darnley, (himself an Irish Landlord,) in the British House of Lords on the condition of the Irish poor, states an amount of wretchedness in that country almost incredible. His lordship appears to think the sympathy bestowed on the negroes in the West Indies, and on the Turks, would be much better employed on a very numerous class of sufferers nearer home, "whose wretchedness was more squalid, whose houses, clothes and food were worse, than those of an population on the surface of the habitable globe." With the exception of liberty, the Irish peasantry were in all circumstances worse off than the slaves of the West Indies; and it was obvious, with the existing facility of intercourse with England, and the consequent emigration of the Irish, labourers to that country, that either the Irish peasantry must by some means be raised to the level of the English, or the later must come to endure all the wretchedness of the Irish pauper. He quoted from the testimony of Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare, in order to show that his representations on this subject were not exaggerated. That prelate declares the distress to be "indescribably great," and that not only "the lives of many hundreds are shortened by it, but their energies are paralysed, and they rendered incapable of any useful exertion." Notwithstanding this extreme distress, adds the Bishop, these poor people marry without care or precaution. With all this, the Irish poor are not suffering, it seems, the extremity of distress. These are comparatively good times for them, - they are enjoying their halcyon days,- for such was the cheapness of potatoes, that a man and his wife could live for three farthings a day and as the price of bacon was fortunately high, the pig according to the old story, paid the rent.

The population of Ireland is stated at not less than eight millions, of whom not less than six millions were probably in the distressed state just described! It appeared that the increase of population was the ratio of the sparceness of it. Thus in Ulster, where it was most dense, the ratio of increase was but 11 per cent, and in Connaught, where it was least so, it was 23 per cent. The true remedy for all these evils was, said his lordship, the diffusion of capital through the country; and this was what was anticipated and designed in the Union. But it was in vain to expect this in the insecure state of Ireland; and that insecurity would continue as long as the religious distinctions existing there, continued to irritate and unsettle the country. Eight or nine millions, of Irish capital were lying in the English funds at this time, because of its employment at home was not deemed secure, and it was on this account that the funds were rising. Meanwhile in Ireland the people were starving and dying the the streets and highways.- Even those who found work for the lower orders, were in some instances, obliged to feed them for six weeks, before they were strong enough for labour. If their lordships, said the speaker, would visit Ireland, they would see human animals enduring the utmost misery with the most exemplary fortitude.

Balt. Gaz.

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Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish comprised over one third of all immigrants to the United States. Living conditions in Ireland were terrible with food scarce even before the great potato famine of 1845. According to the Earl of Darnley, the state of the Irish people was worse than the slaves in the West Indies. The Irish had little say in their government and how money was spent. Following the Reformation in England and the establishment of the Church of England, the Test and Corporations Acts were passed. This prevented all non-Anglicans from holding public office, allowing only Anglicans to vote and sit in parliament. These laws also applied in Ireland even though some 80% of the population was Catholic. The Greenfield Gazette and Franklin Herald was the newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts, from June 26, 1827 to June 27, 1837. It changed its name to the Gazette & Mercury.


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"State of Irish Poor" article from in the Greenfield Gazette and Franklin Herald newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Franklin Herald
date   Nov 25, 1828
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   9.25"
width   2.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L05.127

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See Also...

"Irish Immigration" article from the Greenfield Gazette and Franklin Herald newspaper

"Paupers in Massachusetts" article from the Gazette and Courier newspaper

View of Cheapside

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