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Title: The Land Question - Rev. Mr Mullen
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileRev. Mullen/9
SenderRev. Mullen
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationclergyman
Sender ReligionCatholic
Destinationletter published in The Belfast Commercial
Recipient Gender
SourceThe Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Wednesday, 28 April, 1852
ArchiveThe Linenhall Library, Belfast.
Doc. No.9807242
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 07:07:98.
Word Count1988

(From the Evening Freeman)

A very remarkable and important letter has been
received from the Rev. Mr. Mullen, late curate of
Clonmellon, on the state of the Irish emigrants in America.
It will be recollected that the Rev. Mr. Mullen, who has long
been identified with every effort calculated to note the
interests of the Irish people, and whose interests in the
popular cause are familiar to every reader of the Freeman,
was recently sent on a mission to America, on behalf of the
Irish Catholic University. - This mission has given him
peculiar opportunites of observing the state of the Irish
population of that great country, and the results of his
observations, as regards the dangers which await the poor Irish
emigrant beyond the Atlantic, is given in this important
communication. We can only find room for the following
extracts from the rev. gentleman's letter, which we need
hardly say, demand the most serious attention not only on the
part of all those of our countrymen who entertain any project
of abandoning their native land for the far west, but of
every Catholic clergyman and every layman who values the
prosperity of this land and of its people and the interests
of Catholicity.
Leave the Protestant establishment to fester in its
rottenness for a time; it is a sore, all the appearance
whereof indicate proximate suppuration; it is better to leave
it so for a time. The "ecclesiastical titles bill" can well
afford some delay, particularly when millions are perishing in
Ireland from want, hundreds lost spiritually, and multitudes of
your countrymen and former parishioners swallowed into hell
and a from the barbarous system of land tenure in Ireland. Are
all the energies of the new association to be directed to
the proselytism of a few? Is there to be invoice raised, no
hope held our, that will keep the people at home, and thus
save millions from spiritual destruction! I say millions;
here are my facts:-
The present population of the United States is about
15,000,000, and of these the Catholic church claim only
From the year 1825 to 1844, 1,250,000 left Ireland one
million of whom came to America; the portportion of Catholics
amongst them may be very fairly estimated at 800,000.
Since that perios to the present the numbers who emigrated
here from Ireland at the lowest calculation were 1,500,000; and
taking Catholics as above, we will have in nine years 1,200,000.
A large number (say half a million) came from Germany, some
from Italy, France, Belguim, and other countries, during the
last ten years, half of whom were Cathilics, say 250,000.
Twelve years ago America had a Caholic population
(according to Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston), of
Calculating the increase of this number by births, and the
very small number of 500,000, and adding for [con---?] in the
larger cities and towns 20,000, we have the following total:-
Catholic emigrants from the year 1825 to 1844 800,000
Catholic emigrants from the year 1844 to 1852 1,200,000
Catholic emigrants from other countries 250,000
American Catholic population twelve years ago 1,200,000
Increase by births since 500,000
Number of converts 20,000

Number who ought to be Catholics 3,970,000
Number who are Catholics 1,980,000

Number [faded] the Catholic church 4,950,000
Say, in round numbers two million.
You, priests of Ireland, knew that irresponsible land [faded]
Ireland's curse; that it robbed and plundered classes, obliging
them to live on one root you knew that drove millions here -
that it forced other millions into pauper prisons, to perish
slowly you knew this, and preached patience incessantly to a
famishing people, and in many instances, without explaining
the privilege of the natural law of taking what would support
life in extreme want. Ireland's monster evil was landlordism
- cruel, unjust, irresponsible. - You, priests, said it, knew
it, and felt it, even in your own straightened circumstances,
-and yet there was no universal shout of execration against it
- no cry that would frighten a minister to remedy so great an
evil. The thousands driven out by landlords came here, and
what became of them? Multitudes settled in the suburbs of
the large cities, where thousands of the most depraved and
abandoned of every sect were congregated, where infamy was
sweltering, and crime of every species abounding. The poor
emigrants were simple, with souls uncontaminated by
enormous sins; it might be said of the majority that their
hearts were pure as crystal - green as their own soil -
they knew not the ways of seduction. The old people (a
great many, at least) persevere (if not in virtue) at
least in retaining faith, and many times wept on beholding
their children carried down the rapids that lead to
destruction; yes, they wept and thought of Ireland, its
village churches, its priests, its religion, constituting
happiness, even amidst privations and poverty. They died
remembering the land they loved and with faith, though
in many instances without religious comforts.
Priests of Ireland, who now deplore so much the loss of
a few hundred and are anxious to turn the whole influence
of the new association to remedy it think of the millions
of our countrymen lost here, and think of the multiplied
millions that will be lost unless you contrive to keep them
at home. Now, let me remove any grounds for supposing the
fault was here, either with the American priests or bishops.
No, for in the universal church there is not a more apostolic
prudent, zealous, self-sacrificing body, than the American
bishops. Whilst paying due respect to men in authority, they
are never courting their smiles or soliciting their
patronage. They never permit the result or their deliberations
in council to transpire until its manifestation is necessary
or useful. It was, therefore, neither the fault of bishops or
priests here that "the faith died out" in so many millions.
No; and though it may be as unpalatable to you as it is to me,
I must say that their loss rests with the Irish priests, and
perhaps bishops too, who tamely permitted hundreds of
thousands to be banished here when it was impossible to
raise sufficient churches for theit accommodation or to
have a priesthood sufficiently numerous for years.
There [faded] other class who made no effort to save
the people - clergymen of nice manners (suave, I believe
the French call it); men who would consider God against the
oppressors of His poor, and who were always anxious to pay
court to those possessing wealth or titles. They would not
by any harch language (sometimes used by a Chrysostom)
displease Lord Pincer, Sir Jeremy Flint, or the Honorable
Mr. Screw, who lived in their parishes. Poor human nature!
God forbid I should include many of the priests of Ireland
in this description. No, the great majority were true to their
trust; but influenced by a "mysterious terpor," they made no
combined effort - and hence the people perished. A good
many were deterred by fear of the exercise of undue authority
themselves, as it is clear by a speech from one, published
and praised as a pattern by the Cork Examiner, in which
he advises a concordat between Whiggery and Rome,
between Lord Russell and Pio Nono, and accuses the Holy
Father of injuring the church on a point of etiquette.
Well, there is no use in idle regrets about the past.
What is to be done now? Combine all classes, farmers,
traders, peasants, and priests, and make one great
effort to have the land laws changed, holding out to
honest industry the prospect of remuneration. By doing
this you will keep the people at home, you remove teh
fruitful source of proselytism at home, and you save millions
from perverses here. Let the titles bill rest and allow
the Protestant Church a longer day; settle the land
question, and you may make the people comfortable, and
they will despise the bribes of those who would tread on
their poverty. Turn the attention of the association to
this at once, and let it employ its funds for the success
of a tenant bill, and it will thus effectually prevent
the monster evil complained of.
You never had so glorious a prospect or better
opportunity of success. England is threatened with invasion
all the continental kingdoms hate her, and would gladly
lend a helping hand for her destruction. France thirsts
for an opportunity to wipe off the disgrace of Waterloo.
Louis Napolean is anxious to make his position strong
and tenable, and sees no better opportunity of carrying out
his designs than by indulging the national pride and
gratifying the desires of the French to humble England.
He will most probably do something of the kind, to make
himself, like his uncle, the idol of the army and navy. Such
is England's position in Europe, and if she looks to America,
how stands the case? An American minister at St. James's
may flatter England by promises of an union; but this I
know, that such an union will never take place; it
would be the signal for revolution here. One-third of the
population is Irish, or of Irish descent; they hate
England with an intensity of which you have no possible
conception. Half the American army is Irish, and
nine-tenths of her navy are jolly tars from Paddy's land,
who would whoop, and halloo, and jump as Indians at the
prospect of a dash at the boasted wooden walls of wicked
England, which crushed, and robbed, and plundered their
country and made themselves exiles. Such is England's
position, such here prospects here and at home.
Remember O'Connells saying - "England's difficulty is
Ireland's opportunity" and of a truth her opportunity is
[faded]. It remains with you not to allow it to be thrown
[faded]. You are on the eve of an election; for God's
[faded] and the people's sake don't throw the chance
of success away by returning incompetent members;
members who will use the parrot-cry of "civil and
religious liberty," and talk about the Protestant church
and the titles bill, in order to walk into parliament, and
betray the interests of the landholders and the poor of
If you confine your selections of members to the landlord
class, you deserve to be betrayed and spat upon. They have
ever been Ireland's greatest enemies; the English garrison,
oppressing the people and living on the plunder of unjust
rack-rents. I tell you, moreover, there are men now
joining the people, and there is every reson to apprehend
their motive is not to save or assist, but to promote
their own ambitious interests, using the new association
as a stalking-horse to ride into parliament.
Elect no man who is not for tenant-right - for full
tenant justice, as embodied in Mr. Sharman Crawford's
bill, with its additions made by the League. Take no man
that will not go at least to the full extent of that bill.
Remember how the men of your choice betrayed you after
the last election. I know in my own country one man who
attended a tenant meeting previous to his election; he was
then a real tenant's friend, but since that period he has
never opened his lips except to ridicule the League,
and those zealous men who were endeavouring to serve
the country; and you have many like him. Now, if the bishops
or priests of Ireland lend their influence to elect such
men, I say it deliberately, they betray their highest
trusts (the interests of God's poor,) and assist (as far
as in them lies) proselytism at home and the perversion
of millions here. Priests of Ireland, don't return Whigs
or Tories; use all your energies to have honest tenant-right
men returned, and you will thus fulfil a high and sacred
duty and do much to secure for your order taht high
character invariably accorede them, "friends of the