From The United Irishman, February 19, 1848.
The only assembly, meeting or body, club, committee or council, connected with this island, which appears totally ignorant that a famine now rages in the land, happens just to be the sovereign legislature of Great Britain. The Commons House of the “United Kingdom” is now sitting in its third week; and we defy any practical man to conclude from its proceedings that it knows a tittle or feels it is responsible for, or shows it cares, a whiff about the present sufferings or future lot of our people! Why, the legislature which is supposed to make laws for Ireland is engaged in the aesthetics and courtesies of legislative science, a bill for the emancipation of Jews, who lend them “certain monies” – is immersed up to the elbows in the very extreme of social ameliorative measures, the “Sanatory Reform of Towns!” Yes, indeed, our patriotic countryman SHIEL, has delivered a heartfelt and most exquisite bouquet of rhetoric, on the constitutional sufferings of old Clothesmen, and Bell Brokers; and the “amiable MORPETH,” he whom patriots gave dinners to in Hawkins-street, has spoken volumes on deep sewers, barrel-drains, and, above all, the enormities of “intra-mural interments.”
And you, starveling people of Ireland, below a common sewer in the regard of your “legislature,” “where do YOU bury your dead?” If you consider for a moment on “the whole question of intra-mural interments, and on obsequies generally,” as the Morning Chronicle importantly puts it, as regards you, you must come at once to the conclusion that you need not this bland undertaker MORPETH. For twelve months you have enjoyed the full benefits of extra-mural interment, and in the open air, too. Yet, strange to say, the sanatory effects thereof are not quoted in the report of one CHADWICK, a constitutional authority relied on implicitly by those who manage these matters for you. Your fathers, your mothers, your brothers, your sisters, your children, have lain coffinless and shroudless for weeks in the ditch, with the rain bleaching their faces, and the wintry wind moaning over them, bearing up to Heaven the offensive stream of suffering, and yet you never thought that was a “sanatory reform.” Outside the workhouse walls we have seen the coffins piled up – up, like logs of timber; we have seen them lying there for weeks and months, till the ends fell out, and the blue unshapen matter (which had been man) protruded itself in the daylight once more, and yet you did not duly appreciate the inestimable benefits of “extra-mural interment.” Oh! were you among your legislators for an hour, you would acquire some knowledge of the benefits of civilization, which, without boasting or speeching, its members have for twelve months forced you to enjoy. “A moral as well as physical degradation is perpetuated” say they, by corpses dying after death in the houses where they died. That moral and physical degradation has been spared you. You could not wait – you could not take time to kiss the damp lips of the dead – but you were compelled at once to drag the corpse naked through the doorway, and fling it into a bottomless creek. You looked not for “mortuaries” – for artistically solemn, sculptured, architectural houses, “specially provided for the purpose” (suggests the Chronicle), wherein to store your dead, but when you could you brought them to the nearest pit – and when you could not, they lay within the walls they builded, rotten on their own hearthstones.
But these matters have no concern with the recent debates. We are thinking not how to get rid of the dead, but how to keep the living alive – a matter of very small interest to the body which makes laws for us. Nevertheless, even to some Irishmen “sanatory reform” in England does appear a most important consideration – nay, some Irishmen do feel, like Mr. JOHN REYNOLDS, very uncomfortable for the last week, because this chief city of Ireland is not going to be patronized with governmental sewers, Viceregal water-closets, and state offices of that character. Here is a “sanatory reformer” of Ireland in the year of God, 1848, and of Famine the year III! Our national Representative, REYNOLDS, imploreth England for a comprehensive measure!
Yes! one sewerage we want – one common drain for this whole land, one cloaca, deep and Broad as Tartarus, and stern and implacable as Styx, to sweep away from us for evermore the corruption, the currish fawning, the slavish envy of even English foulness, the avarice, the jobbing, the ignorance, the besotted brutish insensibility in which we are steeped to the neck! Get on thy knees for that, O Corporator REYNOLDS!