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Forster, William F., 1784-1854 / Memoirs of William Forster, Volume II [excerpt] (1865)

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[Chapter]

  [p. 224]  

CHAPTER XL.

DEATH OF JOSEPH JOHN GURNEY—FAMINE IN IRELAND, CONTINUED.

In the midst of his arduous engagements in Ireland, William Forster received the unexpected and affecting intelligence of the serious illness of his much loved friend Joseph John Gurney. “I am truly grieved,” he writes to his wife, “to hear that dear Joseph is so unwell: I acutely feel what he is to me every way. Thy mention of the death of Samuel Hoare and of dear John Wilkinson has brought me to some tender feeling. To know that it is well over with those who were about to depart is not to me what it is to have those in suffering who are so very near to me.”

On receiving a worse account, he again writes to his wife:—

1st mo. 8th. Castlebar.—Thy letter of the 4th has plunged me into such a depth of sorrow that I find it difficult to write; it speaks of a little hope, but I fear there was no reasonable ground to entertain it. If Prout acknowledges himself discouraged, and if “he was sinking,” unless there was some extraordinary and unexpected revival, I think our beloved friend must have passed away within a few hours after the time when thy letter was written. I have seemed, almost ever since, to have been treading the valley of the shadow of death with a heavy step, and borne down with an unutterable burden of sorrow. Through the tender care graciously extended towards me, I have been kept from any great conflict of mind. I do not lay claim to any very strong feeling of   [p. 225]   religious duty on the occasion, past or present; but I believe I am not here in the counsel of my own will, and that my coming was in that love over which I have no control, and which I could not have resisted without bringing myself into trouble. I cannot but remember how much he did at last to help me off, though in his kindness and love he would have kept me at home.

As William Forster anticipated, his beloved friend died on the 4th of First Month, 1847. On having the sorrowful tidings of the event confirmed, he again writes home:—

1st mo. 11th. Westport.—Not till this evening, and that but for a moment, have I had so much as a transient sense of that in which I could rejoice and give thanks—the thought that our most tender, faithful, helpful friend has passed through the depths of the valley—that to him there is no more suffering—“no more death”—no fear—no conflict now—no more of the tormenting of the wicked one, and not so much as the possibility of falling away—nothing but peace, joy, and love; such joy as, by the utmost working of his mind, even under that measure of God’s Holy Spirit that sometimes rested upon him, he could but imperfectly comprehend—such as has not entered the heart of man to conceive—nothing now seen as through a glass darkly—nothing—nothing for evermore, but light, life, and immortality!

12th. Achill Island.—There are few less in the way of noting and keeping days than I am, but I think this will be a marked day to me as long as I live. I was one with the mourners throughout the whole morning; a hopeful, thankful, comforted mourning, I can believe it to have been. I went with you from stage to stage, until I thought you had left the grave, and had retired to take comfort in that Gospel in which is the everlasting blessing.

With “sorrow upon sorrow,” yet “not left comfortless,” William Forster again patiently pursued   [p. 226]   the work of the good Samaritan, and thus continues his narrative:—

Meeting with an unexpected opportunity of sending some relief to a remote part of the barony of Erris, respecting which I had been anxious, I came off to this island with a peaceful mind. We had a better horse than usual, it was a remarkably mild winter’s morning, and, feeling myself in a fairer state of health than sometimes, there was much to be enjoyed and I was not insensible to it. As the day advanced, it turned out to be remarkably fine; the mountain scenery was magnificent, and the bright gleams of sunshine upon the water most beautiful. I thought how much he would have enjoyed it—a cheerful sunny day was such a pleasure to him; and it was just the sort of day I imagined he would have wished for his funeral.

The people of Achill are in a state of greater starvation than I expected to find them. I hope to make arrangement for some supply to at least a few of the more destitute before I go away. There is a store of Indian corn and meal for those who have a little money left, or anything they can turn into money; but what can that avail to those who have none: nothing at all? What the old people and the infirm, and those who cannot work if they had it to do are living on, and how they exist from day to day, I cannot imagine; and those of whom I make the inquiry cannot tell me, except it may be that one and another now and then give them a small handful of meal. The cloud seems thickening and darkening every hour. It is very affecting to me; and I think one of the most fearful features of the times, is that men of high standing, the principal gentlemen of the country, are breaking down and sinking into hopelessness. I made some acquaintance at Sligo with Colonel Knox Gore, the lieutenant of the county, and a large proprietor. At that time he was energetically and laboriously devoting himself to the good of the people, working every day of the week, as I thought, with a hopeful mind, and with confidence that they would struggle through. But I was concerned to hear from Sir Richard   [p. 227]   O’Donnell, yesterday morning, that he had had a letter from him written in quite a desponding mind—that things were hourly growing worse—that soon there would be no food—and that thousands must die.

I have had two or three letters from G. V. Jackson of Oranmore: he is one of the most active men in the county. Upon going more thoroughly into the state of the poor, he found things to be worse than he had imagined, and he had spoken to us of their being very bad. I have done something towards forming a central committee for Mayo; but I have had no help in it, and I am soon discouraged, much sooner damped and put down than many are aware of; this was what I always dreaded most before I came. I do not know that I can leave the county satisfied without further effort; possibly I may find the Marquis of Sligo at Westport on my return, or he may come before I set off for Connemara, and that may open the way to do something more.

We came to breakfast at Sir R. O’Donnell’s yesterday morning: they were most kind and friendly. Lady O’Donnell and her sister Margaret Glendinning entered very warmly with me into the state of their poor. There is a population of no less than 25,000 on their estates, mostly small farmers, besides the wretchedly poor; such as they did not know were in existence until these times came—those who had never anything but potatoes to eat, and, having them, had all that they wanted. He took me to the relief committee, where there was a long discussion on the domestic employment of their poor women, in order to provide for them without their labouring at men’s work on the public roads, &c. We see more or less of this in almost every gang in this county. And then he took me to his flax loft, to see a new flax mill that he has been building. He inherited his property under heavy incumbrances; but by good management and industry he has already greatly relieved himself.

13th. Achill Island.— shall be interested in hearing how my scheme for a supply of clothing to the poorest of the people seems to take. It will require a great effort, but I think it might be done without any very large amount of   [p. 228]   individual sacrifice. I have been doing what I could in almost every place to promote the employment of the women, and I hope something will be effected. I long to have authority to give orders for the making of some hundred yards of domestic flannel, such as they make in Connaught from their own wool,—spun and woven in their own cabins: it might go to the clothing of thousands now almost naked.

I had a cold ride across the island, most wild and dreary. I was looking out for the eagles. They say there are many that build in the clefts of the rock in the mountains; but I could not see them. We found the sea very rough at the ferry. Our landlord, a remarkably kind and civil man, quite affectionate, brought a large boat, and we were soon safely over.

27th. Tuam.—The bishop called, and was very pressing upon me to take up my abode at the palace: I think I am not wrong in having declined to accept this invitation. I am to breakfast there to‐morrow. They tell me there is a great deal of dysentery.

I have great hope that the good women of Galway will act up to their promise. They were most of them in active life, and it was quite cheering to see so much of what I took to be an evidence of true Christian piety, and of that godly zeal which stirs up the believer to good works; and it was very pleasant to see how much the Protestants were desirous of getting the Catholics to work with them. I gave orders for two pieces of flannel, one hundred yards each. It continually comes home to my consideration, what it would be to add one‐fourth, or it might be even in some cases one‐third or one‐half, to the earnings of the father, if we could get employment for the daughters as well as their mothers; and of course it would add so much to the food of the country people, where food is to be had. The bishop invited me to the relief committee. I went, and was much interested by the people I met there, particularly a Roman Catholic gentleman, O’Kelly, full of heart and good sense. It was affecting to hear so many of them express themselves in the tone and language of despondency. I thought it my duty to ask   [p. 229]   permission to say a few words on that point; perhaps they did not fall to the ground. It evidently cheered their hearts when I told them what Friends in Ohio were doing.

29th. Athenry.—I had a fine afternoon for the ride; and soon found something to do on my arrival at this place. I have what I think a pretty full day’s work for to‐morrow; it helps to satisfy me that I am not out of the path of duty. The more I give myself to the work, in the simplicity of faith, looking neither right nor left, confining myself to the relieving of the destitute and increasing the comforts of the poor, the more peaceful I am in mind, and the more I feel that which reconciles me to all that I have to do from day to day.

I made a little intimacy this morning with the curate of Tuam. He is a tender‐spirited man, religiously devoted to his calling. I did not think the worse of him for a hitch that he has in conscience on the union of the Church with the State; of course, I did not ask him for it. I called at the bishop’s this morning, and was glad to find they had not lost sight of the associating for visiting the sick, &c. They had evidently come to some arrangement with the wives and daughters of some of the principal people of the place, and I thought were really in earnest about it. I put a supply of rice and arrow‐root at their disposal, and money enough to start the operation.

Seventh‐day, 30th. Roscommon.—I hope my visit to Ballinasloe did not go for nothing. We came by the mail from Loughrea. On Fifth‐day I introduced myself to the Protestant clergyman. I found him civil and cordial, ready to lend me a hand in forming an association. Whilst there the Earl of Clancarty came in. He said Lady Clancarty was interested in the employment of the women. In the course of two or three hours a letter came, asking me to call. She gave proof of her heartiness in the object, making a great effort to put me in possession of her wishes.

There is not a class among the poor for whom I have a more tender feeling than the poor tailors, who used to work for that part of the population who have now no money to spend in clothing—many of them very unfit to be turned out to work upon the roads, or for any other out‐door   [p. 230]   employment. What the poor labouring men are to do for shoes, till they can find money to buy them, I cannot see: it often brings me to much painful anxiety.

2nd mo. 3rd. Loughrea. My first visit was to William O’—— (he has the title of Honourable and Reverend). Their means are small; but it was touching to me to see the effort they were making in a quiet way for the help of the poor. They had bought rice in Dublin on their own account, and his wife had been selling it out on a small scale. She gave me her account of sales, which I send as evidence of what can be done with a little money; and surely they are the sort of people to whom one would be glad to entrust it. I then went to D—— P——; everything upon a large scale, evidently people of high standing. They have been doing a little in the making of soup, and I saw it in operation; they have accommodation for carrying it out upon a much larger scale, but he gave me to understand that it did not suit him to advance the money for it; and on showing me an account of deficit in his rents from his small tenants, I confess I had no hesitation in offering him a donation. If such people will accept £10 or £15, I think we can hardly doubt its being wanted; at any rate if it goes to the feeding of those who would not have been fed, the object is answered. I then went to Robert Daly’s, of Castle Daly, a large Roman Catholic proprietor: he was out about the public works; however, his wife soon came to an understanding of the part I wanted the ladies to take, gave me her name as agent, and I thought her heart too. . . . . I found in another town they had adopted a new plan for supplying the country by sending out provisions for sale; they had sold a ton the day before in a village a few miles distant. . . . . it ought to be known, and might be very useful in other places. The ladies at Gort had formed themselves into an association, and were going to make soup on a large scale; they had already a small concern in the town, and two or three in the neighbourhood. I told them about the clothing: they gave me some names. . . . . . I then called on Redmond Burke, of Armagh, landed proprietor in the neighbourhood, living in Gort for   [p. 231]   the winter. I had made his acquaintance at the meeting at Galway. His wife is a woman of very enlarged active benevolence, and had undertaken to get some flannel made for me—just the sort of woman to help in that concern. . . .

Fourth‐day. Ballinasloe.—At Gort I fell in with Robert Gregory, father of the M.P. for Dublin. I found him very friendly, and wanting help for the neighbourhood of Kinverra, lying near the coast. He apologized for not inviting me to Coole Park, as his wife had just received the account of the death of a very near relation; but soon there came a note from the lady begging me to go; and a few minutes afterwards the sister of Robert Gregory arrived to take me over in their car. I was glad to go, and found them all most warm in their hospitality; people of high standing, everything about the house wearing the appearance of refinement and elegance,—had lived abroad for several years—beautiful statuary—costly library—high‐bred manners; but, best of all, deeply interested about the poor, and wanting to help them. The lady incidentally said that, previous to the resolution proposed by the Irish nobility, they had discarded all luxuries from their table. Their heart and mind were evidently full of the misery and distress that surrounded them. .

Redmond Burke’s wife came over with us: they entered together very heartily into my wishes for the employment of the women, and I hope they will do something. They wanted me to stay and go to Kinverra; but, after making some arrangements for soup, &c., I thought it best to come off. . . . .

Robert Gregory returned before we left, thoroughly harassed by the managers of the public works, who had thrown 300 of their men out of employment, and out of bread too, as far as I could gather, without any notice; however, on his own responsibility he had set them to work again. I thought it looked well for the M.P. that, in his letter to his mother from London, he had written about nothing else but the poor at Kinverra, begging them to set themselves to work. We had a long cold ride to Killchrist. I did not forget a poor creature I had visited in a hut on the roadside the day   [p. 232]   before: it was the most appalling instance of misery and wretchedness I have seen or heard of. The poor man had no wife—three children—not an article of furniture except two or three cooking utensils—no fire—a large part of the thatch torn away; and there he lay on a little coarse hay in a corner of the cabin. I wanted him to go to the poorhouse. No; all he wanted was food; and if he could only get that he should soon be able to go to work again. He said he wanted nothing but stirabout. Of course I supplied his need as far as money would go; and I found on my return that he had had perhaps as much food as was necessary for him; but what was most affecting to me, and showed the state of the country, was that when I spoke of him to a well‐dressed young man who was standing in the road just by the cabin, apparently a farmer’s son, he said it was as much as they could do to get food for themselves—that they could do nothing for others. It was a striking and very affecting contrast to the former state of the Irish peasantry, who used to be so kind one to the other. . . . .

At the Burkes’ I heard a very sad report from Galway, where the ladies had entered upon their work: her sister wrote that their visits had led them into lanes that they did not know were in existence, and had brought them into acquaintance with almost indescribable misery, and that they had met with two women mad with hunger. It gave me the hope that my endeavours were not all thrown away. . . . I think we cannot possibly do better than keep these working committees of ladies liberally supplied, and get them established in all the large towns. I had a pleasant visit at J. G——’s, and was glad to find that arrangements had been made for assembling the ladies: there was really a goodly company. They all seemed anxious to help on the object. I imagine they were all Roman Catholics, with the exception of G——’s wife, who was appointed secretary.

The town (9,000 inhabitants) was divided into two districts, six visitors to each: to enable them to commence their operations immediately I gave them £10, two hundredweight of rice, and one stone of arrow‐root. I then told them all   [p. 233]   about the clothing, and they are most willing to act; and I should hope, if left to themselves, they will act well.

9th. Roscommon.—I wish to speak and write of any little sense of duty that may be granted me in very lowly terms, as I know I ought to do; but I must confess I believe it may be most for my peace and good to be given up for a while longer to sympathize with this poor people in their many afflictions. Under this impression my mind is for the moment brought into quietness; and perhaps I may say, into something of confidence also. In our reading just now, I was broken into tenderness before the Lord on those words of our Saviour, “How much, then, is a man better than a sheep?” It has brought me to think of the tenderness of his compassions; and to believe that He does not despise the feeblest efforts of those who love Him, in their endeavours to follow his steps, even though it be at an immeasurable distance.

There is a deep snow this morning, and probably it may impede our travelling. I wish to try and get to Castlerea to‐night; to‐morrow I shall probably think it best to make an effort to see two or three people on my way to Claremorris and that neighbourhood, and so onwards to Ballinrobe.

Castlerea.—We have had very cold and wearisome travelling in deep snow and frost. I wished to see Robert Blundell, rector of a union of parishes in Mayo, Galway, and Roscommon, consisting of a very large rural population. I called upon the nephew of Lord Mount Sandford; he wished to go with me. They both entered warmly into one of my objects, which they could not but acknowledge to be of little less than national importance—an attempt to do something towards providing shoes for the poorest and most destitute of the labourers on the public works. In the conversation I had with Lord Clonbrock, he expressed himself very strongly upon it; and he is a thoroughly practical man. My plan would be for the men to pay one‐third out of their weekly earnings by small instalments, and the remaining two‐thirds to come from the funds raised by the British subscriptions; it might lead to an expenditure of some hundreds, or two or three thousand   [p. 234]   pounds. I can hardly see how money can be spent to better purpose; if their employment be such that they cannot work without shoes, and cannot provide the article out of their earnings. I am sure I had not need to take anything new on hand, but as this has come before me in close connexion with other objects, I do not know how to put it aside.

About this time, at the urgent request of the Committee in Dublin, William Forster broke off a little from his toilsome and distressing labours, and came to the city to confer with the Committee on their future course of action.

On his return to the scenes of starvation and suffering, he writes from Sligo, on the 24th of Second Month:—

We arrived early in the evening; upon the whole a pleasant journey to me, without, as far as I can recollect, a single moment of misgiving. And I regard it as a special mark of the tender pity of our heavenly Father towards one of the very feeblest of his children, that I feel myself at home, at my post and in the path of duty. In the midst of sorrow, famine, disease, and death, happy and hopeful—at the same time I feel that the hand of the Lord is heavy. But it is his hand, and a sense of that, as it is now renewed upon my mind, ministers to my comfort, and peace, and trust. He is wise and good, the perfection of wisdom and goodness; and in all his dealings there is wisdom, justice, and love. So that I now know that there is a place of anchorage for me; not only as relates to that which is pressing hard upon me at the present hour, but in that which often breaks in upon me, and bears down my soul into the depths of horror, darkness, and distress, in thinking upon the cruelty and suffering inseparable from the African slave‐trade.

Without date.—I have found most quietness of mind in looking towards the course that I had thought was pointed out to me; there is much of a cross and much trial in it. But I sometimes feel that which is not at my command, which   [p. 235]   bears up my spirit over all, and by which I am, as I think, helped to hold on and to press forwards. I have often asked that my steps might be ordered of the Lord; and now I should fear the consequence to myself if I were to rebel against that which, I believe, is in his blessed ordering.

It might seem that the measures of Government would have set me at liberty from much that has occupied my time and mind, and to a certain extent they do. But there is that which no poor‐law, nor merely legal provision of any kind, can do; and it is in that line of service I shall probably find that I have most to do during the remainder of my visit; endeavouring to promote voluntary associations for the personal domestic visiting and relief of the sick,—now, alas! so much needed; for, wherever I go, pestilence is treading upon the heels of famine, and I am earnest that the people, especially in the large towns, should be prepared to meet it.

I have not nerve—there is no need to tell my weakness—to look upon the suffering of the afflicted; it takes too much possession of me, and almost disqualifies me for exertion. But what a comfort to believe, and to be made sure, that there is One who does look upon it all. The thought of that brings me into tenderness before Him, and quickens my soul to a little renewal of hope in his mercy, and pity, and love. It was enough to have broken the stoutest heart to have seen the poor little children in the union workhouse yesterday—their flesh hanging so loose from their little bones, that the physician took it in his hand and wrapped it round their legs. I have seen some adults in the same condition. And if it be so with the little that comes under my notice in my very transient visits, what must it be with the much larger proportion, those that I do not see, nor even hear of. The two forms of disease most prevalent are dysentery and dropsy, and some cases of low fever. In establishing the Ladies’ Association, I have thought it right to put a quantity of good rice and arrow‐root at their disposal. The poor people have been so much used to potatoes and nothing else, that they have to be taught to cook the rice, and the arrowroot must be prepared for them.

  [p. 236]  

The employment of the women in their own cabins, and the right disposal of the clothing when it comes, is an object with me wherever I go; and almost everybody seems alive to its importance as I endeavour to put it before them. In the towns, and many of the villages and country places, people are at work doing what they can; and they are doing much: but still there are many places, mostly small towns and rural districts, almost or entirely neglected. I do what I can as I go along, little as it is. I had hoped to have got some large measure adopted to have met their case; but I fear I must now give it up. If the Government do not put their new law into effective operation, they will soon have the people dying on their hands by hundreds and thousands; for in such places they have nothing to keep them alive, nor anybody to look after them.

If I pursue my journey, my present intention is to go from hence to Roscommon; thence, in a zigzag direction, towards Ballinrobe, in the county of Mayo, and across the country to Swineford and Foxford, where I have heard of a great deal of wretchedness, and to Ballina, and then to Sligo. Another visit to that place bears heavily upon my mind, and I feel much interested for some parts of the county where I have not yet been: perhaps I may go into the northern parts of the county of Leitrim, and finish off with the county of Longford. My heart sinks at the writing of it: but as that word comes before me, “Sufficient for the day,” I hope to meet it all in a trustful mind, and to try to do my duty without expecting that it can or will turn to much account, and there to leave it.

3rd mo. 7th. Ballinrobe.—If in heavenly goodness my health should not give way, I hope I may be enabled to accomplish that which I have believed to be laid upon me in this county by the end of this week, or in the week following. I have never been able to make arrangements far before me; so far as I have set myself to work it has almost always ended in disappointment. We are here in the midst of destitution and disease: famine in its direst form is doing the work of death. Surely it will not now be long before we have arrivals   [p. 237]   from abroad, and the Indian corn of 1846 be brought in, to feed these starving and perishing multitudes.

8th.—It is impossible for anyone to conceive the horrors of famine unless they come into its midst. However, I am thankful to say we have done something worth coming for. The most destitute of the poor of this place will not perish for the next two or three weeks from the want of food, if those into whose hands we have put it do their duty; and I have met with some good people for the care of the sick.

I have a good letter from Catherine Plunkett, of Bray; she has set their tenantry in the mountains of Mayo to work, spinning for flannel, &c.; and I hope to be allowed to keep them at it for some time to come. This domestic industry, if we can but carry it on, will, I hope, be a real good. Nothing pleases me more than to find the young entering into my plans. I give them the hope that they will have the flannel, at least the first hundred yards, to make up for their own poor. It ought to be known how the first ladies of the land are exerting themselves, weighing out meal, seeing after soup, &c. I have never met nor heard of anything like it among the same class in England.

3rd mo. 12th. Sligo.—The liberality of friends in Philadelphia and of people in America, far exceeds my expectation; and I think our friends are doing their part nobly.

3rd mo. 21st. Lurgan Bay.—I reached Sligo on Fifth‐day evening, and on Sixth‐day morning went to Cliffory to visit a wretchedly poor population on the shores of the bay of Sligo, principally tenants of Lord Palmerston. I was glad to find a gentleman there come to conduct the draining of the land under Act of Parliament, and whose present business it is to look after the people; but, do what you can, it is in such places a time of extreme destitution and suffering. They are making arrangements upon a large scale for shipping many of the smallest of the tenantry to America, which can hardly fail to improve their condition; and, such is their very low state of degradation, they can hardly make a change from bad to worse. I do not like to be meddlesome, or to seem to be so;   [p. 238]   but, having been there, I believe I must see Lord Palmerston on my return, and try whether something cannot be done for these poor people on their arrival on the western shores of the Atlantic. I know a little about new countries; and think there are points upon which I should feel myself at home in reference to emigration.[1*]

29th. Manor Hamilton.—I have been much cheered by hearing of the large arrivals of grain from America: the price has fallen more rapidly than I could have anticipated. I now hope and trust that, in the goodness of divine Providence, the famine may be stayed; that the people will not die from actual want of food. I long to get the poorest of the people supplied with flannel garments; as much as possible all to be made of their own domestic manufacture.

4th mo. 2nd. Swanlinbar.—It was late in the afternoon when I reached Florence Court. I had driven from the house when I met Lord Enniskillen coming to take me to see their bakery and soup‐kitchen; they have a large concern in hand, and I have no doubt are doing real good: it was touching to me to hear such people speaking so gratefully of the help that had been sent them out of England. They were very pressing on me to stay the evening; but I broke through and had a pleasant ride to Swanlinbar. I endeavoured to seek out those who care most for the poor, and found them very grateful for what they had received from Dublin. I hope I have done something in the way of providing a little employment for some of their poor women, which is one of my main objects wherever I go.

3rd. Belturbet.—I have been endeavouring to make the best of the time; and to turn the day to some good purpose. I have made a visit to their large union‐house, and gone pretty much into the state of their young people, and found much to interest me, both in what I heard from some of the managers of the establishment, and in thinking over some of my own notions and schemes; many of which, considering my time of life, I am never likely to see brought into action.

  [p. 239]  

8th. Dublin.—Lord Farnham was most polite and kind, and really took pains to make my visit agreeable. I think he is interested about the poor, and wishing to do his duty; but they are much more favourably circumstanced at Cavan than at any place I have visited; and yet there is distress, if people could but search it out. I was glad of an opportunity when they were together, and the nieces and nephew in the room, to speak my mind very fully on the slave‐trade; as I did both to Lord Sligo and Lord Clancarty, and at John Wynne’s. I don’t know that it answers any purpose; but, so long as it does exist, I find a satisfaction in bringing it before those who ought to feel it.

10th.—The report from the Castle was that the Viceroy was not in a state of health to receive a visit; but I have since seen the Under‐Secretary, and endeavoured to put him in possession of my wishes. I had a long and full opportunity. He heard me patiently upon every point; and I think very generally admitted the importance of the objects I wished to bring before the Government.

I spoke on the want of clothing for the poor, and their utter inability to provide it for themselves; told him what I knew and had heard of the number of orphans and deserted children—of the want of employment for the females—of the destitute condition of poor servant girls, discharged by their employers in consequence of the pressure of the times and thrown upon the public—of the state of the multitudes of children in the union poor‐houses.

I spoke my mind very freely on the importance of industrial education for those who have to get their bread by the labour of their hands, and threw out a suggestion for the establishment of educational institutions for that portion of the children which may be considered as permanent objects of the care of the State. I adverted to the want of better regulated and more extended means of obtaining medical assistance for the poor in rural districts, and of providing for the burial of the dead in cases of extreme poverty. He very kindly opened my way for communication with the local authorities in different parts of the country.

  [p. 240]  

4th mo. 12th.—I am using all diligence, but cannot be sure that I shall get off to‐morrow, most earnestly as I do wish it. What a mercy once more to get to dear old England again!

Long after his return from Ireland, he continued to be much occupied with the concerns of the “Central Relief Committee” in Dublin. He wrote many letters, obtained additional subscriptions among his friends, and was in other ways perseveringly interested in the present relief of the distressed, as well as in the permanent amelioration of the condition of the poor people with whom he had sympathized so largely, and among whom he had laboured so long and so efficiently.


Notes

[1*] After his return William Forster had an interview with Lord Palmerston on the subject referred to; but the result is not known.

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