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in September 1850 there were on the books of this school 59 boys and 60 girls; and in September 1851, 67 boys and 63 girls. The boy had to go some distance to the school, which was evidently much prised by the mother.
During my conversation with the mistress of the house, I observed that her female companion took from her pocket a piece of paper, and looked wistfully yet doubtfully over its contents, as if not quite certain of their import. I immediately guessed what the matter was, and asked if she had got a letter from America ? She said it was a letter from her husband, which she could not very well read. She handed it to me, and I read it to her. Her husband had only left Ireland in the beginning of the year, having been sent for (that is, having had his passage paid,) by his younger brother, a young man of twenty-five, who had emigrated three years before, and was now in the receipt of 120 dollars annual wages. The writer informed his wife that, by the blessing of God, he had got into good work, and would soon, he hoped, through the same blessing, be enabled to send her home money enough to bring her and the children out to him. He enclosed an order for 31., which would enable her to live in the meanwhile. Like most letters of the
poor, short, and obviously the production of no great clerk. It was, however, much to the point; telling everything that was essential, and bearing the unquestionable impress of true affection.
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin;" —and surely it was impossible not to sympathise with this poor woman, nursing her sick child on the floor of that humble cabin, and shedding tears over the crumpled piece of paper that reminded her, at once, of the far-absence and the unabated affection of her husband; and awakened, no doubt, a thousand memories of the past and a thousand hopes of the future. What was it to this gentle wife, or to her warm-hearted husband, under what form of government they lived, provided they had the means of living, and could hold in peace and security one sacred spot whereon to build up the fabric of the affections in a home they might call their own? So true is it, that to the children of labour, at least, the first and dearest necessity is still the very same as that which was the first necessity of the savage when struggling into civilisation—a home and the means of living.
Hence it is surely the first duty of a government, to see that all classes of the community have these means, or may have them, at least, under due submission to the conditions imposed on the members of social and civilised life. It is only when so circumstanced, that men in the lower ranks of society are in a fit condition to think wisely or to think at all or to judge calmly of their remoter relations with political governments or ecclesiastical arrangements. In our intellectual as in our social condition, we must possess the necessaries before we aspire to the luxuries of life. In the present state of Ireland, therefore, as well as of England also, it is most wise to regard the amelioration of the social condition of the labouring classes as the necessary preliminary step to, or at least as an essential ingredient in any extension of their political powers.
Such an extension is their undoubted right, and they must obtain it in due time; but they have still more imperative claims to still more important rights—namely, to be placed in a position to obtain "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work ;" to obtain a sufficiency for houseroom, food, and clothing for themselves and families, and education for their children. Until the state has discovered the means of satisfying these claims-and our recent legislation respecting "unrestricted competition” has gone a great way towards satisfying them--political rights and political powers are to the poor but as "sounding brass or tinkling cymbals;" they may play round the head, but come not to the heart.
We stopped for a very short time at Manor Hamilton, a small town about twelve miles from Sligo. It is situated in a beautiful neighbourhood, with a fine range of hills for a back ground. Like most of the places visited by us, its population has considerably decreased of late years. In 1841 it contained 1507 persons, and in 1851 only 1127, that is, exclusive of its workhouse, which, at the time of the last census, contained 552 inmates.
I had not time to visit the public institutions of
the place, but I learnt from my constant informants, the police constables, that the schools were flourishing and well attended. On referring to the official documents respecting them, I find that the following was their condition, as to numbers, by the last returns: National School in September, 1850, boys, 95; girls, 110; in September, 1851, boys, 93; girls, 89. Workhouse Schools—in 1850, boys, 89; girls, 185; in 1851, boys, 71; girls, 116. Church Education Society's Schools--in 1851, boys and girls, 96; with an average attendance of 51.
According to the testimony of the same authorities, there were only about 20 teetotallers in Manor Hamilton, and three of these belonged to the constabulary force of 15, stationed in the place.
The country beyond Manor Hamilton generally presented the more common characteristics of Irish lowlands,-half cultivation and half bog; though there were many litttle spots not devoid of beauty.
Having crossed the narrow breadth of the county of Leitrim, we entered into the county of Fermanagh, and into the PROVINCE OF ULSTER, through the small neck of land that separates the upper and lower Lough Macnean, or Lough Cane and Lough Nitty, as they are also called. Of the former we could only see a small portion, but our road took us some distance along the northern shore of the latter. The views here are fine, both of the shores and the lake, though not equal, in point of beauty, to those of Lough Gill. The upper lake is about four miles long and two miles broad, and the lower has about one half of these dimensions. The isthmus between the two is about half a mile wide. The two lakes communicate by a small river, and they both discharge their superfluous waters through the river Arney into Upper Lough Earne.
From the shores of Lough Macnean onwards the country presents nothing remarkable until we come within four or five miles of Enniskillen, when it assumes more the appearance of England than any place we had seen since leaving the county of