#OTD in 1847 – In an irate letter published in the Cork Examiner, “A.D.F.” condemns the proselytising (soul-jobbing) of starving Catholics.

“I just now want to draw public attention to a disgraceful practice that was carried on during the period of awful distress, when nothing should sway people from relieving the destitute, the practice of proselytising, a new accompaniment of famine. The duties that devolved on the priest were indeed laborious, inasmuch as they had to combat against famine, disease, and death, on the one hand, and on the other, against those proselytisers, (justly termed soul-jobbers).

In every locality where this nefarious system worked, the proselytising school consisted of about a dozen of the poorest children of the place, a Bible master or mistress was procured to diffuse knowledge to hungry stomachs. The pottage pot was superintended and conducted by the female proselytiser, and its salubrious contents distributed every day after five or six hours of lecturing, charitable donations were lavished in purchasing up bibles, paying the master or mistress so much per week, and as a matter of course, adding a little to their own private funds.

Is it not melancholy to know that all this was in operation when famine and disease desolated the land. Now another year’s famine is impending; and I ask what will be done with those two traffickers, the proselytiser and the corn merchant? I can tell you they are ripe for another opportunity, and that will very shortly be at hand. In the mean time public opinion ought to be brought to bear on them. Their very names should be set forth on the wings of the press as individuals base and degraded, to an extent, unmatched in any other country calling itself civilised.”

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