The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 704 pages of information about The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902).

The manner in which he dealt with the potato blight, and consequent Irish Famine, is indefensible.  His policy from first to last was a policy of delay—­delay in a case in which delay was ruin.  He went on by slow and almost imperceptible degrees preparing his colleagues for his altered views on the Corn duties; talking and writing all the time pathetically, about the deep apprehensions he entertained of an impending famine in Ireland, while his whole heart was set on quite another object.  To aid this masked policy of his, there was Commission after Commission—­the Scientific Commission, the Castle Commission, the Police inquiry; and these went on analyzing, printing, and distributing hundreds weight of query sheets, and making reports, long after it was proved, beyond all doubt, that half the food of the Irish people had been irretrievably lost, the money value of which was estimated at from eight to ten millions of pounds sterling.  So early as the end of October, 1845, Dr. Playfair, his own scientific investigator, expressed to him his opinion that fully one half of the potatoes in Ireland were perfectly unfit for human food; he said he had made a careful tour of the potato shops of Dublin, and had found that those potatoes picked as sound had nineteen bad for fourteen good!  Sir Robert Peel knew this in October, 1845; admitted its truth more than once during the session of Parliament that followed, and yet the bill which he persisted in regarding as the only panacea for such a national calamity, did not become law until the 25th of June, 1846, eight months afterwards; but of course four millions of foodless Irish must battle with starvation until the Premier had matured and carried his measure for securing cheap bread for the artizans of England; and further, those same famishing millions had, day after day, to submit to be insulted by his false and hollow assertion, that all this was done for them.  Nor can it be urged in his favour, that the delay in repealing the Corn Laws was the fault of his opponents, not his own; for no one knew better than he, a shrewd experienced party leader, that every available weapon of Parliamentary warfare would be used, as they were used, against his bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws, in order to strike it down by sheer defeat if possible, but if not, at least to maim and lop it of its best provisions.


[88] Mr. Culhoun.

[89] During the debate in the House of Lords on the Address, in January, 1846, Lord Brougham stated his views about the repeal of the Corn Laws; the reasons why they should be repealed, and the effects of that repeal.  These views must have seemed to many at the time strange enough, if not eccentric, but they have turned out to be singularly correct.  He said:—­“It was my opinion that an alteration in the commercial policy of this country with respect to corn, as well as to other commodities, was highly expedient; I will not say solely, but principally,

Project Gutenberg
The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook