From The Nation, October 16, 1847.
Cordially, eagerly, thankfully we agree with the English Times in this one respect – there ought to be no alms for Ireland.
It is an impudent proposal, and ought to be rejected with scorn and contumely. We are sick of this eternal begging. If but one voice in Ireland should be raised against it, that voice shall be ours. To-morrow, to-morrow, over broad England, Scotland, and Wales, the people who devour our substance from year to year, are to offer up their canting thanksgivings for our ‘abundant harvest,’ and to fling us certain crumbs and crusts of it for charity. Now, if any church-going Englishman will hearken to us; if we may be supposed in any degree to speak for our countrymen, we put up our petition thus – Keep your alms, ye canting robbers, – button your pockets upon the Irish plunder that is in them, – and let the begging box pass on. Neither as loans nor as alms will we take that which is our own. We spit upon the benevolence that robs us of a pound, and flings back a penny in charity. Contribute now if you will – these will be your thanks!
But who has craved this charity? Why, the Queen of England, and her Privy Council, and two officers of her Government, named TREVELYAN and BURGOYNE! No Irishman that we know of has begged alms from England. They have met, indeed, in many places, and declared that, to get over this winter, Ireland will need, and is entitled to demand, aid in money from the Treasury – the Treasury of what is still called the ‘United Kingdom,’ on which, say they, we have just claims, – claims to a greater amount than we are likely to get satisfied. From every corner of the island has gone forth the demand – Give us our own, and keep your charity!
But the English insist on our remaining beggars. Charitable souls that they are, they like better to give us charity than let us earn our bread. And consider the time when this talk of almsgiving begins: – our ‘abundant harvest,’ for which they are to think GOD to-morrow, is still here; and there has been talk of keeping it here. So they say to one another – ‘Go to; let us promise them charity and church subscriptions – they are a nation of beggars – they would rather have alms than honest earnings – let us talk of alms, and they will send us the bread from their tables, the cattle from their pastures, the coats from their backs.’
We charge the ‘Government,’ we charge the Cabinet Council at Osborne-house, with this base plot. We tell our countrymen that a man named TREVELYAN, a Treasury Clerk – the man who advised and administered the Labour-Rate Act, – that this TREVELYAN has been sent to Ireland that he, an Englishman, may send over from this side the channel a petition to the charitable in England. We are to be made to beg, whether will or no. The Queen begs for us; the Archbishop of Canterbury begs for us; and they actually send a man to Ireland that a veritable Irish begging-petition may not be a-wanting.
From Salt-Hill Hotel, at Kingstown, this piteous cry goes forth to England. ‘In justice,’ TREVELYAN says, ‘to those who have appointed a general collection in the Churches on the 17th, and still more in pity to the unhappy people in the western districts of Ireland,’ he implores his countrymen to have mercy; and gets his letter published in the London papers (along with another from Sir JOHN BURGOYNE) to stimulate the charity of those good and well-fed Christians who will enjoy the luxury of benevolence to-morrow.
We repudiate this TREVELYAN and his begging letter. We entreat our countrymen to read the account we give in another page of the rate at which Irish wealth is floating from our shores upon every tide. Twenty steamers go from Ireland to England every day laden with the choicest of wheat and oats, beef and butter, to feed the alms-giving English.
Let us not hear of the ‘benevolence of individual Englishmen.’ Who are the people who keep the Parliament that robs us? Individual Englishmen. Who hire the Government that slays us? Individual Englishmen. Who thrive and fatten on our famine and death? Individual Englishmen. Who read the Times, and all the other papers that abuse us six times a week? Why, individual Englishmen. When these individual Englishmen say to their Government and their Parliament, ‘Take your fangs from the Irish throat, your claws off the Irish dish; plunder and murder Irishmen no more’ – then we can afford to applaud them, but not till then.
Once more, then, we scorn, we repulse, we curse, all English alms and only wish these sentiments of ours could reach before noon to-morrow every sanctimonious thanksgiver in England, Scotland, Wales, and Berwick-upon-Tweed.