27 MARCH 1847, Page 6


Subjoined is the minute by the Lords of the Treasury, directing the gradual discontinuance of labour on the public works. There has been some little delay in its appearance, but at last it has found its way into the papers.

298.799 545,004 January 736,125 " It is manifest from the general tenour of this report, and more particularly from the following passage, that all effectual control over the increase in the num- ber of persons employed, and over the manner in which the work is executed by them, has for the present been lost, " We feel that as long as the number of the destitute continue to increase as they have done, at the rate of about 20,000 persona per week, and as long as every person sent to the work meat be employed, and, no matter bow idle, cannot be diamissed, except ou account of insubordination r outrage, the overseers, the greater number of whom have been necessarily taken from the surrounding toantry, are unable, perhaps sometimes unwilling, to enforce regularity or system is works executed by a mass of unskilful and frequently weak and even dying creatures.'

"It has already appeared from a variety of evidence which has been laid before this Board, that the continuance of the relief works materially interferes with the prosecution of the ordinary agriculture of the country; and this conclusion is Wrongly confirmed by the following among other passages of the report. " livery exertion must be made to encourage private employment; but the people evince no readiness at present to avail themselves of it; nor will it be Wholly practicable at once to convince them that the works which remain in pro- vets are no longer to be considered merely as relief works. " TREASURY imarrs—Llth swum 1847.

"Their Lordships have given to the report of the Commissioners of Public Works, dated the 4th instant, describing the operations conducted under their superintendence during the preceding month of February, the serious attention which the great importance of the subject demands. "The number of persons employed upon the relief works at the close of each week during this month are stated to have beeu as follows—.

Week ending 6th February 66 01 :5 7051 5

13th ,,

20th „ 668,749

' 27th„ 70d,228 ' "The expenditure on Ube relief works during the month of February is stated to have been 044,1411.; which is entirely independent of the expenses incurred through the Commissariat and other public departments for the same general ob- *.te

” The sums expended on the relief works during each of the preceding months /ram the 1st of September were as follows—

September and October £54,875 November December

" 'Employment front the farmers is at present offered in vain, because the men employed on the land-works, on accoantof their numbers, can rarely be sufficiently attended to, and are consequently suffered to idle; as well as because where task- work has been introduced merely as a means of affording higher wages, in the first instance, the ordinary prices of manual work has been gradually increased, to enable the increasing numbers of unhappy, ill-fed, or unwilling labourers, still to earn from Is. to Is. 6d. per day.'

" The state of things above described has already engaged the serious con- sideration of this Board; and being strongly impressed with the necessity of im-

posing an effectual check upon it, their Lordships caused a communication to be made to the Board of Works, on the 16th ultimo' on the subject of the dn.' con- tinuance of the relief works; and on the 2d instant, the attention of the Commis- sioners of the same Board was strongly called to the financial consequences of permitting the expenditure for the relief works to continue at its present rate after the expenditure for the new Relief Act shall have commenced.

" Sir George Grey has likewise addressed a letter to the Lord-Lieutenant, re- presenting to his Excellency the urgent importance of proper measures being taken on these important subjects. " The matter has now become of so grave and critical a nature, that if the num- ber of persons employed on the relief works is not reduced in time to remove all obstacles to the usual amount of labour being employed in preparing the land for the next harvest, evils must ensue, which, while they would be painfully felt throughout the whole kingdom, would in Ireland produce calamities greater even than those which have been hitherto experienced. " It appears to my Lords, from the reports and other documents which have been laid before them, that all the instructions which have been from time to time issued, either to reduce the number of persona upon the works or not to employ w. sons rated at 61. and upwards, and every other regulation of similar import, have been found utterly inefficacious to check the inordinate increase of persona upon the relief works; and that a large proportion of the Relief Committees have recommended for employment upon those works, in considerable numbers, persons having no claim whatever to relief, and have latterly abandoned all attempt to in- vestigate the claims of the applicants. " My Lords are therefore convinced that the only effectual mode of checking the expenditure, and inducing the Committees to perform their duty in revising the lists, is by positive instructions, issued on the direct responsibility of her Majesty's

Government, to limit the number of persons employed; leaving it to the local Com- mittees, with the assistance of the inspecting officers of the Board of Works, to

carry those instructions into effect, according to the circumstances of each district. With this view, their Lordships direct that notice be immediately given, that from Saturday the 20th March the number of persons employed on the relief

works will be reduced by no less_than 20 per cent, and that the remainder will be further diminished by successive reductions, in the proportions and at the times to be hereafter fixed by this Board, until the new system of relief under the 10th Victoria, cap. 7, shall have been brought into full operation.

" The necessary steps for carrying this arrangement into effect will be taken by the Board of Works in the following manner: persons holding ten acres of land and upwards are to be discharged from the 20th of March, even if they should exceed the proportion of 20 per cent. If the number of such persons should not amount to the proportion above stated, those persons are to be discharged who hold the largest amount of land, (although less than ten acres,) or of other pro-

perty of any description. If, however, rations of soup or provisions of other kinds can be supplied either by Relief Committees constituted under the 10th Victoria. cap. 7, or from other sources, for all destitute persons in any district, the relief works in that district are to be entirely suspended; and if rations can for the present be supplied only to a limited number, a proportionate reduction is to be made of the persons em- ployed upon the works.

` Numerous soup-kitchens have been for some time past established in various parts of Ireland, the number of which is daily increasing; and in the course of a short time arrangements for the same purpose, under the act 10th Victoria, cap. 7, will have been brought into general operation. My Lords therethre trust that the resources provided by this new system of relief will at an early period be available for the greater part of those now employed, and will supersede in ahnoat every part of Ireland the relief now given by means of public works. The Commissioners of Public Works having drawn the attention of this Board to the fact that, in existing circumstances, the mode of employing persona by task-work does not answer the expectations which were formed of it, my Lords, relying on the judgment which the Commissioners have formed after their experience of this system for some months, are prepared, where the Com- missioners may think expedient, to sanction a recurrence to a system of daily pay at such rates for each district as they may fix with the sanction of the Lord- Lieutenant.

" Thew Lordships have watched with the deepest interest the exertions which the Board and their officers have made in the execution of the arduous duties con- fided to them; and they rely with confidence upon the farther effort being now made which will be necessary to overcome the difficulties attending the present critical period of the relief operations."

This decree has been variously received in different parts. Accounts have arrived in Dublin from more than twelve counties, in which, upon the whole, it was received at least in quiet; the people awaiting with patience the formation of the new Relief Committees.

In other parts. where the new relief measures are not fully in operation, great anxiety is felt for the result. Already there have been some un- pleasant symptoms of disorganization. At a meeting of the Cork Grand Jury, on the 18th instant, the ordinary business was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Howe, a Magistrate; who stated that a body of 1,200 men, turned off the public works at Ballinasloe, were traversing the country, determined on pillaging the mills and stores. He had left 400 men at his own gate at Clonakilty, clamorous for food or employment. On the same day, at Dungarvon, 2,000 labourers dismissed from the public works applied to the Guardians for admission to the workhouse. As they could not be relieved, it was necessary to call out the troops to keep the people from the workhouse-gates. The despair of the people is said to have been extreme; and their wretchedness was so afflicting to view that the different bakers made a gratuitous distribution of bread, throwing out the loaves from the upper windows.

A deputation of Magistrates from the county of Wicklow had an inter- view with the Lord-Lieutenant on Monday, to remonstrate against the sudden discharge of labourers under the Treasury minute. It is reported

that the Magistrates threatened to resign if the airangement were perse- vered in. The Lord-Lieutenant referred the gentlemen to the Board of Works; who are understood to have consented to the reemployment of a portion of the discharged labourers until the relief measures should be in full operation.

In Kerry, the chief County respecter, Mr. Stokes, had upon his own re- sponsibility declined to carry the order of the Commissioners into effect; and the Grand Jury have adopted a resolution earnestly remonstrating against a sudden stoppage of the public works. , A •

A correspondent of the sGeblin Evening Post, who writes from Cherie- vine, on the 22d instant, gives a sample of jobbing in the county of Limerick, shocking as an evidence of the extent to which moral feeling is

depraved— • " It is within the writer's knowledge that there is in this county a resident gentleman, a chairman of a Relief Committee, and a Magistrate, whose depend- ents, labourers, and tenants, were employed on the public works, thus—

The Magistrate himself (a valuator); The Magistrate's gardener ; The Magistrate's gardener's son ; The Magistrate's herdsman.. &c.; The Magistrate's herdsman's son ; The Magistrate's coachman's son; The Magistrate's gatekeeper ; The Magistrate's gatekeeper's son ; The Magistrate's tenants,

in the proportion of three in a family of five; three in a family of eight,and earn- ing 25s. per week in last November, when flour, now 2s. 9d. per stone, was then sold at 2s. 3d. per stone; and when (read this, andblush for our common nature!) a hundred families in the same electoral division, could be only allowed one each on the works to support families of six, and seven, and eight; and many families of three, and four, and five, and even of six, were literally perishing of hunger, and without a single individual of their families employed!"

A second letter from Commander Caffin on the state of Mayo has been published: it is addressed to the Reverend G. H. Stoddart, Secretary to the United Relief Association, Leicester Square, and is dated from the Queen's ship Scourge, but without specification of time- " In the barony of Erria, about Bellmullet, the wretchedness is very great, and the cases of death from starvation of frequent occurrence, although the greater number are carried off by dysentery, caused by insufficiency, change, and un- wholesomeness of food." The condition of the whole of Blacksod Bay is one of

wretchedness and wo. At the extreme South point is a village, seldom visited by anybody, called Surgeview; it'has shoat 150 or 200 inhabitants: at this place they had been living upon horse-flesh for three weeks past. I rode there in order that I might be able to bear testimony to this extreme state of destitution. It was the fact; and.on entering one of the cabins, and being shown apiece of horse, my heart sickened: but a moment's reflection led me to commend these poor people to bring themselves to this rather than allow themselves and their large famines to die. Some, however, preferred death, or a miserable existence upon limpets and sea-Weed; which may be said to have kept them in a state of exist- ence during the winter, together with a little fish which they catch when the weather permits them to venture out in their frail boats, which are only made of open basket-work, covered with horse-hides or canvass. In one cottage they had a quantity of the horse-flesh salted, and some of it smoked. I asked them how they obtained this meat? They said that the horses died of starvation; the own- ers of them skinned them, and then allowed the flesh to be taken; in some cases taking a portion for their own use. In this village lived an old lady with her two daughters—in fact the village belongs to her: she says she cannot get the rents paid, and the people impose upon her sadly: the poor creature, with tears rolling down her cheeks, told me she went to bed last night supperless, and cannot tell how one meal in advance of the other is to be obtain. She is the only Pro- testant in this wretched village, and appears well prepared for that end which most shortly overtake her. Her manners and those of her daughters are quite ladylike; whilst they dwelling is more wretched than you can conceive—a mere hovel, clean as far as it could be. There was no sickness in this village, and the looks of the people bespoke a better state of things than we found."

At Fall/J:1°re they were eating horse-flesh: their food during the winter had been sea-weed and limpets. The starvation got worse as you go South, till it reached its climax at Schnll. The whole face of the country Was lying fallow, not a patch being prepared for crops.

The following extract from a private letter, with which we have been favoured, tarnishes strong corroboration of many other statements that are in themselves more startling. The writer is a person of great literary emi- nence, and of well-known discretion- " County of Longford, 13th Marcia 1847.

"Mrs. —'s whole time is taken up, and all her thoughts and money employed for the poor; and her spirits are much depressed by the want and misery we daily bear of and see. We are not, however, nearly so ill-off in this part of the country as in many others. We have an excellent clergyman and his family, who unite with Mrs. — in all her charities, and who'are extremely charitable themselves. They have established a soup-shop fot immediate supply of food at a penny a quart, per tickets; and quantities of rice are given at half-price, and sometimes gratis; but as little as we can eleemosynaly feeding. Some benevolent Quakers, ("Relief Association,") have given us SOL in money for the soup-shop, and 101. for the employment of women and girls in knitting,plain-work, dm.; and a clothing society of Quakers (same institution, I suppose,) have supplied us with ten pounds' worth of old clothes and new, and pieces of flannel and leather for shoes; a great assistance, as the poor men who get employment in draining can- not stand at the wet work without thick shoes. Two clergymen in Birmingham have sent me (unsolicited, and strangers to me,) five-pound bank-notes each, for the poor of this parish! There is a great deal of good and kindness yet in the world, and a great deal from England to Ireland; for which we ought to be, and some are—I trust we are—grateful. I do not enter into any details, because I really have not time; and besides, they would be useless as well as endless. The newspapers tell you enough; and, I am sorry to say, are not and cannot be be- yond the truth, as far as my information goes.

The deaths from starvation reported are fewer in number; but fever was raging with frightful violence, particularly in Cork, parts of Galway, and King's County. The disease is spreading amongst the middle classes. In Sligo the prospect is equally appalling. In the workhouse of that town, the Master and Assistant Master, the Matron, and the Clerk, have all been carried off by typhus fever. The paid nuraes,are described as all ill: the house was one scene of disorder and pestilence. The disease is making great ravages in the country districts, particularly in the Rosses, Colloony, and Coolavin. In the Kilkenny Union there were 593 persons sick on the 13th nstant, 500 ill of fever.

Meanwhile, emigration is proceeding with unusual activity; but it is still remarked, chiefly among those whose presence is just now most ne- emery for the neglected cultivation of the soil.

The accounts from the different grain-markets mention the arrival of supplies, and the consequent decline in prices. At the Cork market, on the 19th instant, Indian corn fell to 151. 10s. per ton. The Carlow mar-. ket was well supplied with potatoes; and it is mentioned that many farm- ers who had hoarded their stock were in a fright lest they should not realize "famine prices? Potatoes which could not be procured for 11. los. may now be got for seed at 11. per barrel.

More favourable accounts are arriving of the preparations for the spring cropping. The exceptions seem to lie in the Western and Southern dis- tricts, where the landlords are described as very supine. Green crops are superseding the potato; and an eye-witness of the state of matters in Kildare, Meath, Westmeath, and Louth, reports the land to be better

prepared than in previous rears. The Duke of Leinster has informed his poorer tenantry, that he will supply them with seed at a reasonable price, to be repaid " hereafter "; and the Marquis of Ely has lately purchased 1,0001. worth of seed-corn for the use of his tenantry.

An Industrial Female School is now in operation in Belfast, under the management of the Belfast Ladies' Local Society. The inmates consist of destitute children taken from the streets; who are clothed, fed, and in- structed in some useful occupation.

The Repeal Association met as usual on Monday; but the proceedings exhibited strong signs of approaching dissolution. A letter was read from Mr. John O'Connell, announcing an amendment in his fathers health, and his departure for the Continent. Rent 221.

It was stated at the inquest on the bodies of Mr. Prim sod the Policeman who were murdered near Kees, that numbers of the peasantry saw the slowly and deliberately retreating with their guns and booty; but, instead pursuing them, the people merely debated on the prudence of attempting their capture. Comerford, a farmer, proposed to take his gun and pursue the 'Mistime but he could get no one to join him. The wounded man is not expected to live. Several arrests have been made. It is remarked that " Government has offered a reward of only 1001. for the discovery of the assassins."