into the STATE OF THE POORER CLASSES IN IRELAND.
665 Appendix (A.)
common, was formerly exceedingly numerous, and proved in many ways a very serious Vagrancy.
nuisance about the country.
Their idleness was only interrupted by outbreaks of depravity, and thev were not unfrequently successful in frightening individuals into giving them com-Munster, pulsory" charity; at the present day their numbers are much fallen, and are calculated Couiity Cork, not to exceed 20.
It is further stated that none of them are vicious to the same degree as ,, .
, nut, tu ca^ b Examinations taken by formerly.
Thomas Martin, Esq.
The Assistant Commissioners were informed that the habits of strange vagrants were not JÂ°ha Lalor, Esq.
characterized by any remarkable propensity to debauchery or dissoluteness : they were not known to form companies for the purpose of carousing or drinking in the evening, nor
^Vm *Ross Carbery.
had outrages either on person or property been in any instance traced to mendicants.
East Carbery, Their o-eneral disposition to the resumption of industrious habits may be doubtful; but it is (West Division.)
stated that the able-bodied vagrants, who are occasionally to be met with, would very willingly avail themselves of any opportunity which might offer to them of emigrating to America.
That in one important respect, viz.
in their feeling towards their children, the disposition of vagrants does not necessarily differ from that of the labouring class in general, is proved by the kindness of their behaviour to their offspring.
The practice of borrowing children for the purpose of adding to the claims of the pretended mother, is unknown.
Perhaps it may not be necessary to use the stratagem, as very few menÂ¬ dicants are without large families of their own.
The ^Assistant Commissioners endeavoured, but without success, to obtain some data for forming an estimate of the rate of mortality among beggars, compared with other classes, but no facts have been preserved on this point; it was merely stated that no case of death from starvation had occurred within the knowledge of the witnesses.
The witnesses present do not hesitate to give it as their opinion, that the condition of the labouring classes, as a body, is much inferior on the whole to that of mendicants.
They are unable to overcome their repugnance to, and their sense of shame inspired by the publicity of begging, and they remain at home in their cabins, undergoing patiently the severest privations.
When it is considered how large the proportion of strange mendicants is to that of those who solicit alms in the locality in which they are known, it will readily be.
perceived, that in most cases the giver of relief niust necessarily be but imperfectly acquainted with the character of him who applies for it.
In general it is not even attempted to become so, and the.
beggar gets at once, without being questioned, whatever alms it is thought proper to give, or whatever can be afforded.
This indiscriminate mode of contributing to the wants of the necessitous has not, however, been found in practice to operate prej udicially on the morals of the labouring classes.
It does not appear to have made a life of idleness seem preferable to one of industry, nor has it had the effect of inducing any one to have recourse to mendicancy, who could have procured an adequate subsistence by labour.
It was stated, that in all cases where employment had been offered to vagrants, it had been glady accepted.
The generality of farmers and labourers do not hesitate to grant a night's lodging to any vagrant who solicits it; and in many cases this practice is persevered in, even after it has been productive of much loss and injury to those who had adopted it.
Speaking on this subject, Mr.
" A circumstance illustrative of this occurred about a year and a ka*f agÂ°j to a farmer with whom I was acquainted; he had been long in the habit of giving lodging to beggars, and where a man gets the name of being kind in that way, he becomes universally known, and is sure always to have crowds of applicants.
He once took in a woman and her family, who had fever amongst them; one of them died in his house, and the rest having recovered their health, went away.
After a time the farmer's own son fell sick of disease and died ; this almost broke the father's heart; I happened to meet him after his calamity, and talking to him of the cause of it, I asked him if he would expose his family again to a similar danger, by receiving strangers ; he answered, *" Yes, the house was there for them, and they might come if they chose.'"
The most usual article of food given in charity by farmers is potatoes; milk is also given by the same class of occuÂ¬ piers, but not to any considerable extent.
Ihe quantity of potatoes given away daily in charity at the house of a farmer, is not restricted to any fixed amount; almost every beggar who calls gets relief; and Mr.
Hunger-ford says, " he has often seen persons apply, and has never known any one to be sent away without relief."
The only exception to this observation occurs in summer; at that time, when potatoes have become scarce and dear, the smaller holders of land, of whom there are many very poor, can afford to give but little or nothing.
Ihere can be but little doubt that the burthen of mendicant pauperism is almost excluÂ¬ sively borne by farmers.
It is stated that mendicants do not even apply to the gentry, i ae class of labourers, too, contribute not a little to the relief of vagrants, and are always round willing to give to the utmost of their ability.
In the words of one of the witnesses, you will often see the labourer sharing his dinner with the beggar;" however, the entire amount derived as aid from working people cannot be very great.
iae witnesses do not-coincide in their computations of the precise quantities given away on an average of days by any individual holding, for instance, 10 acres of arable land.
In |eneral terms they say that there are not far from 200 farmers, who give to the amount of weight of potatoes each day during summer, a quantity which would be expressed in money oy trom 2s.
to 3 s.
per week, and that each of these may on an average be considered o give potatoes to the value of about 2/.
in the course of each year.
The majority a"11.ers
are represented to prefer the continuance of the giving of alms in the present certain mode, rather than the substitution of a fixed and definite money-tax, of anything Â°"5,