The Contemporary Review, November 1879 Volume 36
Excerpt: ...5s. 01/2d.; Ireland only 3s. 4d. Pg 456 Of course these figures must undergo modification in view of the altered circumstances of the present time. The statistics of 1876 are not an accurate guide to the facts of 1879. During the last three years there has been considerable depression of trade; and it may very well be that the returns of this year will indicate an ebb in the tide of prosperity. But, unless I am very much mistaken, after making all allowances, it will probably be found that Ireland is the part of the United Kingdom least affected by the present prolonged commercial crisis. 22 The figures and facts recorded above will probably astonish the considerable class of persons to whom the word "Irish" has an air of wanting something, unless it is followed by "pauper." A smaller but perhaps not less intelligent class-that of English travellers in Ireland-will promptly jump to the conclusion that the figures are cooked; they will argue, "We have travelled in Ireland, and have been beset with beggars; how, then, can the country be so free from pauperism? Surely the true state of the case is that the people keep out of the workhouses merely in order to live on public charity in another form?" It cannot, I regret to say, be denied that mendicancy is very common in Ireland; so common as to be little less than a national scandal. There is, however, something to be said in mitigation of judgment, though perhaps not in defence. It is a matter in which figures are of little use; for no one could, by any possibility, estimate how many persons live wholly by begging. That there are in every community some persons who do may be taken as certain. That their number is larger in proportion to the bulk of the population in a Roman Catholic than in a Protestant community, is antecedently probable. The theory of the Roman Catholic religion positively encourages mendicancy. It is held to be no sin to live on alms, and to be a positive merit to give alms. Never.
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- 13 Sep 2013
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