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£8 rating occupation franchise for the boroughs, and in 1868 the borough franchise was lowered to £4 and a lodger £10 franchise introduced; but the Fenian movement being then at its height, it was not deemed expedient to lower the county franchise in Ireland. In this same year a lowered franchise added 400,000 voters to the English county constituencies, and household suffrage was granted to the Scotch and English boroughs. This act was superseded in 1885 by a Reform Bill, which practically granted household suffrage to both Great Britain. and Ireland.
The Parliament which disfranchised the 40s. freeholders and granted Catholic emancipation, was dissolved in 1830 by the death of George IV., and at the ensuing election O'Connell and many other Roman Catholics were returned. From this time "the Liberator" devoted himself to the cause of repeal; this had been his first political aspiration, and now he returned to the old path. But the old allies were gone; the Protestant repealers were no more; religious bigotry had conquered self-interest and national sentiment; dread of O'Connell and the pope had converted the Irish Protestants into unionists. They could not realize that the days of religious disability were passed for Papist and Protestant, that a renewed Irish Parliament could never pay off old scores, no matter how great a majority of its members might be Catholics. They dreaded papal supremacy even more than they hated English ascendency, and they preferred the ill they knew to the ill they knew not. Moreover, repeal had become a much more complicated question; laws had been made, taxes levied, debts contracted that placed practical difficulties in the way of simple repeal; it was impossible after a lapse of thirty years to go back to the old order of things, and O'Connell had no project of an Irish Parliament for Irish affairs, and an Imperial Parliament for the settlement of the affairs of the empire. Home Rule, too, was easily confounded with Separation, or was mistrusted as a step towards the severance of the connection of the two countries.
Throughout the reign of William IV. the Irish masses remained indifferent to the repeal question; emancipation had brought them nothing but disfranchisement, and they were mainly occupied with the struggle for existence, with the emigration question, and above all with the tithe war. In
vain the rector claimed every tenth sheep; in vain an army as large as that which dragooned India tried to collect the tithe. A purely spontaneous resistance had arisen among the peasantry who, of their own accord, and without leaders or agitators. carried on war by means of outrage and what is now known as "boycotting." It was useless to try to sell the cattle that had been seized for tithe, for though thousands of persons attended the auctions not one bid would be made for cattle seized under the tithe decree. The state of the country was fearful. War, prosecuted on both sides with barbarous cruelty, raged between the peasantry and the tithe proctors, and a stringent Coercion Act did nothing for the pacification of the country.
In the meantime Mr. Stanley, afterward Lord Derby, who was then chief secretary, brought in a bill for primary education in Ireland. No religious instruction was to be given in the schools founded under this act; yet, notwithstanding the national objection to mixed education and the denunciations of priests and parsons, the schools prospered. Twenty years later Ireland contained 5,000 national schools, attended by 511,020 pupils, and in 1880 there were 7,590 schools with 1,083,020 pupils. Another much needed reform was accomplished in this reign by the passing of the Church Temporalities Act, whereby ten bishoprics were abolished and the Establishment was made to bear some proportion to the people for whose benefit it was maintained at the cost of so much bloodshed and injustice. The reign was but a short one; for in June, 1837, the king died, and was succeeded by his niece, Victoria.
It was impossible that so young a woman as the new queen could have more than a nominal voice in the government of a vast empire, and thus with the reign of Victoria began the era of constitutional government in England. One of the first acts of the queen's ministers was to pass the much-debated measure of poor law for Ireland, and soon afterward the Tithe Commutation Act abolished for ever the scandalous method of collecting tithe. No more were corn and cattle to be seized by force of arms, for in the future the landlord-not the tenantwas to pay a sum of money as tithe. By raising the rents the landlords generally transferred the obligation to the tenant, and by consenting thus to play the part of tithe collector, they attracted to
ward themselves all the ill-will that had been hitherto bestowed on the tithe proctor.
This same year, 1838, made memorable by the Poor Law and Tithe Reform Acts, also witnessed the establishment of two great national movements in Ireland-the repeal agitation and the teetotal
It was an era of conciliation, and O'Connell had agreed to accept "Justice to Ireland" as an alternative to repeal, and for the promotion of this somewhat indefinite cause he founded the Precursor Society, which soon numbered two million members, and which on the formation of the Tory ministry in 1841 merged into a full-grown and avowed repeal association.
The teetotal movement had been founded some years earlier by the Quakers of Cork, but it took no hold on the people till Theobald Mathew, a young Capuchin friar, joined it in 1838. His unfailing kindness and devotion to the poor had already endeared Father Mathew to the lowest classes of the community, and, through his influence, 156,000 persons took the pledge in the first nine months of his mission, and by 1842 he had made a successful crusade in every part of his native land. Without any special gifts or influence beyond that of goodness, this simple friar wrought a moral reformation almost beyond belief. The curse of drink seemed banished from Ireland, and millions took the pledge. With a rapidly-increasing population, crime rapidly decreased; in 1839, when the movement was beginning, there were twelve thousand committals and sixty-four capital sentences, while six years later, when the movement was at its height, there were but seven thousand committals and fourteen death sentences. But these statistics give only a very faint picture of the extent of the reform. In five years, public opinion changed. utterly, no man was any longer ashamed to be temperate, and many who felt no need to bind themselves by a pledge abstained from strong drink. The friar wisely, and in true Christian spirit, refused to make his mission a question of politics or creed, and administered the pledge with equal kindliness to Leinster Repealer and Ulster Orangeman, and thus a common bond of interest was established between creeds and parties.
The formation of the Peel ministry, in 1841, shattered O'Connell's hopes of justice to Ireland,
and the Precursor Society, by a change of name, became the Repeal Association. The movement gained ground rapidly; there was abundant oppression and distress, and all the Catholic or "lower" nation cried loudly for a change. In the early days of the Association the Repealers were almost exclusively Catholics of the middle or lower class: indeed, the peasantry of the three southern provinces became Repealers almost to a man. The Anglicans were held back from the movement by the conviction that the first act of an Irish Parliament would be the disestablishment of the English Church, and, moreover, O'Connell's attitude towards Protestants was not such as to encourage their national aspirations. The "Saxon" in any form was abhorrent to O'Connell, and for purely political purposes he revived the race-hatred which had become almost extinct.
But though O'Connell's method of agitation pleased the peasantry, such young men of the more cultured classes as joined the Repealers disapproved strongly of his practice of appealing to passions of race and creed. To these young men it seemed more to the point that the English government of 1842 was countenancing wholesale eviction than that the government of Elizabeth had connived at treachery. They felt no need to awaken the memory of bygone wrongs; it was enough for them that almost one-fourth of the cultivable land of a country which was held to be over-populated was lying waste; that in Mayo, alone, there were 500,000 acres of improvable waste land; that Catholic peasants paid tithe for Protestant rectors; that no tenant had security for his tenure or compensation for his improvements; that the rack-rented peasantry had no redress; that juries were packed, and the poor law badly administered. To air these and other grievances, to give the public a fair view of contemporary history, three young Repealers-Thomas Osbourne Davis, John Blake Dillon, and Charles Gavan Duffy-founded the Nation newspaper. Such a journal was much needed; O'Connell's organ, The Pilot, was conducted on the most bigoted principle conceivable, and it was the ambition of the founders of the Nation to establish a journal worthy of the cause of nationality and free from religious bigotry. Like the vast majority of Irish leaders, Thomas Davis was a Protestant; Dillon
and Duffy were staunch Catholics, but absolutely free from prejudice or fanaticism, and all were men of exceptional talent and purity of motive. Davis was possessed of poetic gifts akin to genius. Under the guidance of these young men the Nation at once took a high position.
O'Connell had declared that 1843 should be the repeal year, and all through the summer the most. intense excitement prevailed. Enormous multitudes attended the repeal meetings, and between forty-eight and forty-nine thousand pounds were subscribed for the association. Larger and larger grew the meetings; Tara and Mullaghmast had each been the scene of a peaceful triumph, and a monster meeting was announced to take place at Clontarf on Sunday, the 8th of October. The English government now took alarm, and though O'Connell maintained that "no political reform is worth the spilling of one drop of human blood," the attitude of the country was considered dangerous, and on Saturday, Sept. 7th, the meeting was proclaimed. Many thousands had come up from the country, and it was no easy matter to prevent the gathering; but O'Connell decreed that the proclamation must be obeyed, and by strenuous exertions the meeting was prevented. But that was the real end
of O'Connell's influence. The people began to feel that that agitation which repudiates action is powerless, and that an army pledged not to fight is no defence. The proclamation of the Clontarf meeting was followed by the arrest of O'Connell and eight other prominent Repealers for conspiracy and kindred offences, and in November the State trials began. At the conclusion of the trials in May, the traversers were all found guilty. O'Connell was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, and the others to shorter terms. The jury had been shamefully and notoriously packed, and the traversers appealed against the judgment, which was reversed by the House of Lords. The released traversers received a triumph; but the repeal movement never regained its strength, the repeal year had passed, and the Union was as firmly established as ever. The faith of the masses in the agitation was shaken, and there were divided councils in Conciliation Hall, where the "Young Ireland Party," as the staff of the Nation were called, often found themselves unable to subscribe to the ruling of their leader. Throughout '44 the disunion increased, and in the autumn of '45 Ireland
fell a prey to that long agony of famine through which all her energies were absorbed in the struggle for dear life.
The autumn of '45 was cold and wet; chill and persistent rains fell over the north of Europe, bringing scarcity and disease in their train. The bad weather set in too late to affect the wheat crops, but the potatoes were seriously damaged, and by the failure of that crop hundreds of thousands were deprived of their usual food. In Germany, France, Denmark, and Holland, the poor suffered; but the Irish, being more dependent on the potatoes, suffered more. The whole energy of the people was needed to cope with the emergency; all their savings were expended in keeping body and soul together, and in buying seed for next year's sowing. The winter was one of terrible privation; those who had savings lived off them, but among the really poor there was widespread destitution. The loss of the potato crop was valued at £16,000,000, and to replace this with grain would cost £20,000,000, but compared to the extent of the calamity the efforts to cope with it were lamentably inefficient. The starving peasantry forced to sell their clothes for food-resisted the payment of their rent, and where the uttermost farthing was extorted, barbarous outrages were committed. To meet the difficulty, a Coercion Bill was passed, but in the early part of winter government fearing to overrate the extent of the calamity, refused to take further steps; in the begining of '46, however, £50,000 were voted to be expended on public works. The amount shows how utterly the government failed to realize what the loss of the potato crop meant; it was only a two-hundredth part of what was needed to replace the loss, and only one quarter of the sum expended in the same year on Battersea Park. But the great measure of the session was the repeal of the Corn Laws which, it was hoped, would prevent a recurrence of such terrible scarcity of food. The English manufacturing towns had long clamored for their repeal, and in England this had become an absolute necessity. Bread was at starvation. price, and was actually scarce; British islands were incapable of raising food for their increasing population; and had it not been for the strength of the landed interest in Parliament, the Corn Laws must have gone much earlier.
All through the spring and summer of '46 the
people worked on in hope; the season was fine, and the potatoes looked well, till the magnificent grain crop was whitening for the harvest. Then, in July, a blight swept over the land, and in one fortnight the potatoes were totally, utterly destroyed; nothing remained, not even enough for seed. The people endured their loss with an apathy incomprehensible in England. Their food was gone, their savings were spent, the blackened, blighted potato tops were a sentence of death that the most illiterate could read. Weakened by a year of privation, the people met their fate with the indifference of ill health and the patience of despair. Quietly, without murmur or complaint, they went into their cabins, closing the doors, because the close air made them feel less hungry, and so, without remonstrance or effort, they watched the departure of the heavy carts of golden grain. Potatoes were the exclusive diet of three million persons, the staple diet of two million more;-five million persons were without money and without food. It was useless to sell food even at a moderate price. Potatoes are the very cheapest form of human food, and "to a people subsisting on them, no retrenchment is possible. They have," said John Stuart Mill, "already reached the lowest point of the descending scale, and there is nothing beyond but beggary and starvation." The problem of how to cope with this famine of the thirteenth century with a population of the nineteenth was no easy one to solve; and many and various were the plans suggested. "Close the exports," cried some; "let us eat our own food." "Open the imports," cried others; "import cheap grain;" and this indeed was done, but with very limited success.
Fifty thousand pounds were again voted for relief works, and, in accordance with the laws of political economy, these were strictly unproductive. Roads were broken up, and works were set on foot, which, the inspector reported, "would answer no other purpose than that of obstructing the public conveyances." Further grants of money were made, and at a cost of seven or eight thousand pounds weekly, good roads were broken up and re-made. The Irish party urged that the money would be better expended in draining some of the five million acres of improvable waste land; and Lord George Bentinck proposed a scheme for laying railroads on a large scale, but both projects were held to be inimical to
private enterprise, and the unproductive works were continued. As the winter wore on the distress increased. The men, weakened by starvation, were unable to work, and many reached the spot only to faint or die. Some had to walk five or ten miles to their work, and were too exhausted to perform the task exacted of them; indeed, so reduced were they that in some districts attendance was obliged to be considered qualification for wage; and one of the superintendents reports that "as an employer he was ashamed of allotting so little work for a day's wage, while as a man he was ashamed of extorting so much." The people crowded into the works, and in March 734,000 heads of families, representing 3,000,000 persons were thus employed. "A nation," said Disraeli, "equal to the population of Holland, breaking stones on the road."
But government was not left to cope with the difficulty alone. All over the world hearts were touched by the appalling misery of the unhappy nation. So dire was the distress that the Quaker commissioners state that it would be impossible to exaggerate it. Whole families existed on a daily ration of a few ounces of oatmeal till death ended their sufferings. Typhus of a most malignant and infectious type raged among them, and the dread of contagion overwhelmed even the boundless charity of the poor toward one another. Save in the case of those stricken with fever, there was no limit to the charity of these starving people. Mr. W. E. Forster, who was among the most zealous of the Quaker commissioners, tells us of more than one instance where destitute strangers were housed and fed by families who could rely only on a few ounces of thin gruel for food. "Never," writes another authority, "have I witnessed so much good feeling, patience, and cheerfulness under privation. I hardly remember an instance of their murmuring or begging." On the public works the same good feeling prevailed; those whose claims were rejected in favor of a still more distressed applicant submitting with a cheerful patience for which any praise would be insulting. The suffering from cold was only second to that from hunger. During the scarcity of the preceding year no new clothes had been bought, and many old ones sold, so that the poorer peasantry were almost naked. The children suffered least, for the parents stripped and starved that their little one should have food and covering. In
deed, in all accounts of this fearful misery, the one bright spot is the touching and unparalleled unselfishness of the people. Perhaps the most horrible of all the horrors of this time was the fearful condition of the workhouses. The Irish hatred of the poorhouse gave way before the pangs of hunger, and the unions were filled to overflowing. In these loathsome lazarhouses typhus, starvation, filth, and death reigned supreme. Dead and dying lay in one bed or side by side on the floor, and the poorhouse was known to be the gateway to the tomb.
The condition of the towns was no better than that of the country; the people below the middle class were reduced literally to skeletons, and the whole of the poorer class were starving. An appalling picture of the state of Cork is given by the late Mr. A. M. Sullivan in his sketches of "New Ireland." "Daily in the street and on the footway some poor creature lay down as if to sleep, and presently was still and stark. In our district it was a common occurrence to find, on opening the front door in the early morning, leaning against it the corpse of some victim who in the night had 'rested' in its shelter. We raised a public subscription, and employed two men with horse and cart to go round each day to gather up the dead. One by one they were taken to Ardnabrahair Abbey, and dropped through the hinged bottom of a trap coffin' into a common grave below. In the rural districts even this rude sepulchre was impossible. In the fields and by the ditches the victims lay as they fell, till some charitable hand was found to cover them with the adjacent soil." In the attempt to assuage this awful misery, devoted men and women were daily laying down their lives. The resident landlords, for the most part, did their duty well-establishing soup coppers and distributing cooked food. Many remitted their rent or half their rents, and if others were exacting and extorted their full legal dues, we must remember that their estates were often so deeply mortgaged that they were only less destitute than the tenantry, and, in some cases, were thankful to accept a daily ration of cooked food. Several of their body fell victims to their devotion, and large number of doctors and of the clergy died of fever, caught in the performance of their duty.
At last the sowing time came round again, and it was found that sickness, death, the poorhouse,
the emigrant ship, and the public works, had absorbed the male population. It was clear that political economy was ruining the country, and government now adopted the cooked food system which they had rejected as pauperizing, but which had been employed by private charity throughout. The cooked food relief proved much more efficacious and less expensive than the public works. The rations, including all expenses, cost only 2d. each, and the total expenditure in meal was only a million and a-half out of the millions which were advanced out of the Imperial exchequer, half as a loan to be repaid, and half as a free grant to meet the expenses of the famine. But public works, free food, poor-law, and charity, were insufficient to cope with this vast distress, and east to England and west to America fled the stricken multitude, carrying everywhere the seeds of deadly disease, till England, to protect herself, subjected ships with steerage passengers to quarantine, and several companies raised the rate of steerage passage. Westward now was the only escape from famine, and the poor wretches flooded the emigrant ships to Canada and the United States.
The ships were terribly overcrowded, carrying double the legal number of passengers, and here, as in the work-houses, filth and mismanagement had it all their own way; the death-rate on the passage rose to twelve times its usual extent, and many were landed in such a diseased condition that the deaths in quarantine increased from one and one third to forty per thousand. In Montreal alone eight hundred emigrants died in nine weeks, and in six months the deaths amounted to three thousand. Of the hundred thousand Irish who fled to Canada in the black '47 one out of every five died on the voyage or on their arrival; one out of every three was received into a hospital, and the remainder dispersed among the population, carrying death everywhere, and shunned and dreaded for the contagion they brought with them. Too weak to work, too poor to live without work, the condition of the Irish emigrant was pitiable. The labor market in the towns was over-stocked, and these half-starved people were little fitted for backwoods settlers. Such settlers must have means of support from twelve to fifteen months after their arrival, and this cannot be accomplished for less than sixty pounds per family at the lowest estimate,