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Ireland ? -No, I believe no such purchase has been made, or was intended to be made. . Can you inform the Committee, what was the amount of the purchase money of Castle Brown ; what was the capital invested in that establishment?-I may be very wrong in what I say, but to the best of my recollection, I think it cost. 16,0001.
You are not aware whether that arose from funds contributed by several individuals, or whether it was the investment of one individual ?-No.
A few years ago, petitions were presented to Parliament from some of the Roman Catholic bishops, complaining of the state of the law with regard to Catholic charities; what are at present the feelings and opinions of the Catholic bishops, with respect to the powers that are possessed by Roman Catholics to endow Catholic charitable institutions ?The impression upon the minds of the Catholic bishops and clergy, and even laity, is, that every donation or foundation of that kind would be liable to litigation ; and that, unless the instrument whereby it would be conveyed were drawn up in a very careful way, the Commissioners of Charitable Bequests in Ireland would be entitled, as no doubt they would be inclined, to seize upon it; and therefore the doubtful state of the law upon that subject is one cause, and I might say a chief one, why our places of Worship, and our religious establishments, which might be very useful to the country, are left destitute of those means which they would otherwise acquire. It was a feeling of this kind which induced the bishops to send forward the petition which has been now mentioned, and I myself was among those who signed it; and the same feeling still continues, though in some degree mitigated. - Has not there been a decree of the court of Chancery, that goes to settle the doubts entertained with respect to the law ? -There was a decree that bore upon that subject, made by the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland ; but we conceive, that a decree of the Lord Chancellor is a very bad security for property, as he himself might make a different decree, or certainly his successors ; and as every case that comes before the Lord Chancellor, is affected more or less by circumstances, we would fear very much to take a single decree of his as a precedent upon which to risk property; that is the feeling in my mind, and it is a feeling generally prevailing amongst the
Catholic prelates. ; · Are you aware, that the decision of the Lord Chancellor in that case has been entirely acquiesced in by the Commis. sioners of Charitable Donations ?-I do not know that cir. cumstance.
Are you aware, that when Lord Manners intimated the leaning of his opinion on the subject, in favour of the bequest for purposes connected with the Roman Catholic religion, it was entirely acquiesced in by the counsel on behalf of the Commissioners, and that they said they would not argue against it ?-I believe I recollect the occurrence, and it was known to us all, that His Majesty's Attorney-General ap, peared in court, and waved his right to oppose the decision.
And distinctly stated, that he thought it so clear that it could not be controverted ?-Yes, I believe we are aware of that. . Does there, in point of fact, exist a want of confidence amongst Roman Catholics, in the present state of the law, as to applying property in support of Catholic charitable institutions !—There does exist such want of confidence ; after the short discussion which took place in Parliament last Session, I myself endeavoured to impress à contrary opinion upon the minds of many with whom I conversed about it; but I did not succeed in making them think even as I did myself.
Does this state of the law operate by throwing obstructions in the way of the building of chapels, and the establishment of schools ?-Unquestionably; it is a great obstacle to the establishment of very useful institutions in the country. • What is the state of the lower orders of the people in your
diocese ?-I might say, that even in the lower orders we · should distinguish some grades, there are some of them very
low, but who yet have the necessaries of life ; but there is a very numerous class who are extremely low, whose distress is, doubtless, indescribably great. I am in the habit of conversing with many of this description, I sometimes visit them in sickness ; occasionally I see them in their cabins; my intercourse with them is constant, and I might say extensive ; and I can safely state to the Committee, that the extent and the intensity of their distress is greater than any language can describe, and that I think the lives of many hundreds of them are very often shortened by this great distress; it enervates their minds, and paralyzes their energies, and leaves them incapable of almost any useful exertion.
Are the numbers, who are in this wretched state, very great ?
Their numbers are comparatively very great; I would give the Committee an idea of it, by stating what I know of it from the last year. The town of Carlow and suburbs contain about 8000 or 9000 inhabitants by the late census; last year the distress was something more than usual; there were of
the poor of Carlow 237 families, consisting, I suppose, of five and a half persons on an average each, who applied to us for relief in public; and I should think, from the applications made to myself, by distressed persons, that the number of those, who would not go abroad to receive the food which we distributed, might be about 500 persons more, there was that number then in the town of Carlow. In the parish of Killishean, in which I reside, we also enumerated the poor who were actually in a state of starvation, and they amounted to 700, and some more, in a population of about 3000, or between 3000 and 4000 souls. In addition to those paupers in that parish, I know that the distress amongst the great bulk of the people was extremely great, so much so, that men having cabins and a few acres of land, and perhaps a horse or two, were obliged to sell even the furniture of their houses, and to pledge their beds, in order to procure subsistence, and this subsistence consisted of a few potatoes, supplied to the family once in each day, for about six or eight weeks, or perhaps longer. And I also can state, that this distress extended so high, that I myself, and I regret very much being obliged to introduce myself so frequently; but, as the mention of myself is necessary, in order to make the case clear, I do it, however reluctantly ; I myself, have been obliged to lend money to almost the largest occupiers of land in the parish where I live, to buy seed for their farms; and if I, or some other charitable person had not done so, the land would have remained untilled. The Committee can perceive then, that not only the 700 paupers who were in a state of starvation, but also a great proportion of the remaining part, were reduced to the difficulties I mention. And, though the last year was a year of more than ordinary distress, yet I am confident, from the great number of poor not employed, and the small stock of provisions which they are enabled to preserve for the summer, that the season which is now approaching will be as pressing nearly as that which is passed.
Was last year a year of any extraordinary distress ?-I can. not call it a year of very extraordinary distress ; but it was a year of much more than ordinary distress.
Was the distress as great as it was in 1822 ?-By no means.
Then, is it your opinion, that this state of distress will be in some degree a matter of ordinary occurrence at particular seasons of the year !_That we will have great distress every summer, whilst the present state of things continues, is a matter of course ; it will be greater or less in proportion, as the potatoe-crop happens to be good or otherwise, but that we
there nohe mearharvesten unempay hary half
will have a great deal of it each year, is a matter to be counted upon as certain. í What is the reason you mentioned the summer, as a period of particular distress ?_The poor people in general collect a little dung, (they have no land) this dung they put upon a piece of land given to them by a farmer, and it produces to them a little stock of potatoes ; this, with their earnings, supports them until, suppose, March or April, then their entire stock is exhausted ; and when the summer advances, particularly the latter part of it, before the harvest comes in, they have no means at all of support ;. they have no employment; they have no food ; and they are actually dying of hunger. · Is there not sufficient employment during the summer, to give them the means of purchasing even potatoes ?-By no means; till the hay harvest commences, you might get hundreds upon hundreds of men unemployed; when the hay harvest comes in, (and last year, the hay harvest being very fine, many labourers were not necessary); not half the number of persons disposed to work were employed.
In what manner does this large number of persons contrive to live ?-The people who have some property are in general very charitable, and they see that broths are made in their families, and cabbages and roots which are very abundant, boiled and distributed out to the poor. Again, the male part of the family lie very frequently in bed ; during the day, the wife or daughter perhaps goes abroad and begs about the neighbourhood for some few potatoes, which she brings home; on these they vegetate; and even an honourable Member of this Committee, who is so well acquainted with our poor, 'can scarcely imagine upon what a small pittance one of those wretches endeavours to subsist; in fact he is almost like a savage of the American deserts ; he lies down on a little straw upon the floor, and remaining there motionless nearly all day, he gets up in the evening, eats a few potatoes, and then throws himself again upon the earth, where he remains till morning ; thus he drags out an existence, which it were better were terminated in any way, than to be continued in the manner it is. : Do you think this evil is likely to increase ?-If the laws be not altered, and the country so settled, that people will have a confidence in the peace and good order to be established, and if English capitalists do not go to Ireland, and those who have capital there employ it in agriculture, in manufactures, and in mines, I do not see why this evil must not increase.
What alteration in the law do you contemplate, as likely to
produce those effects ?—The abolition of all disabilities on account of religious opinions, in the first place, because without that, I think no other measure can have effect ; if that be done, I should suppose that those other institutions which are now in progress, and particularly the disposition which seems to exist on the part of English capitalists, to transfer their money to that country, and employ it in industrious pursuits, would produce those effects to which I allude.. • You just now used the expression, " the present state of things," was it with reference to the circumstances last-mentioned that you used that expression ?-I used it with reference to the state of the laws, which keep every thing unsettled, and every thing insecure, and which discourages men of capital and industry from embarking both in the improvement of the state of Ireland, and the advancement of their own fortunes.
Is that only a general observation, or have any instances come within your knowledge, in which those laws have discouraged persons from embarking capital in Ireland ?-It is rather a general observation than one founded upon a knowledge of particular facts ; but, however, this general observation is one that is founded upon a general notoriety as to the state of things, which notoriety, I think, is in itself a sufficient proof that the observation is not light or unfounded.
Have any circumstances contributed, particularly in the district you have spoken of, to increase the large amount of population you have described, to an amount so much beyond the means of employment ?-I live in the vicinity, as I mentioned, of a very considerable town, into which there has been a great influx of poor people from the country, who occupy little dwellings, hoping to live by their labour. I speak of Carlow and its immediate vicinity; now, whilst the prices of corn were very high, there were mountainous districts and marshy lands, chiefly in the Queen's County, not far from us, which afforded to the people some support; and this support failing, they, not being able to pay their rent, were obliged to relinquish their habitations, and crowd down upon us ; this is one cause.
Do very early marriages prevail amongst the poor? I find also, that those poor people, without care or precaution, intermarry one with the other, even when they have no prospect of being able to support a family; and those early and improvident marriages, I think also, are a cause why we are oppressed with this starving population.
The town of Carlow is, in general, in a much more flourishing condition than other towns in the south of Ireland ?