Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 55, No. 343, May 1844
Author: Various
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We are gravely told, in well-rounded and high-sounding sentences, that "in Ireland famine urges men to take land at any price—they must have it or die;" and that, "when a piece of ground falls out of lease, it becomes a bone of contention amongst some twenty or thirty miserable competitors, who outbid each other, to the great delight and profit of the ruthless and exulting landlord, and to their own utter ruin." If any one takes time to reflect on what he reads in every day's newspaper, he must at once perceive that this statement can have no foundation in fact; if a landlord remove a tenant for non-payment of rent, he finds it difficult to get another to succeed him, (in the disturbed districts it is almost impossible to get any man to do so.) Such is the dread of taking land, from the occupation of which others have been expelled, even on account of owing the most unreasonable arrears, that farms frequently remain waste for years, without any person daring to bid for them. Now if public opinion, and the dread of the punishment which is sure to follow, operate so powerfully in favour of the really blamable person, as to keep his land untenanted, how much more influence will they possess in restraining any man from seeking to obtain the land of another, if that other be unobjectionable in character, solvent in circumstances, and still in possession? Such a thing is never heard of. The landlord, if he were bad enough, might try to induce men to act so; but he could not effect it. If death pursue the man who undertakes to rent unoccupied ground, as in most instances it does, how much more certain would it be to overtake him whose conduct was the means of driving from his home a solvent and industrious person? If a landlord distrain for rent, he can find no bidders for the crops or cattle; how much more difficult will it be for him to obtain bidders for land? We have frequently heard the bad cultivation of the land in Ireland attributed to the constant shifting of the tenantry: we are quite convinced the result of the enquiry now instituted will show how unfounded this supposition is, and that the shifting or removal of the tenants, will be found to be a matter of much more rare occurrence in Ireland than in England. That scarcity and want are periodically experienced in Ireland, is but too true. Those visitations (which, thank God, are not frequent) arise from the failure of the potato crops, and generally occur in those districts most densely populated, and consequently worst tilled; in fact, they are greatly to be attributed to the neglect of the people themselves; who will not take the trouble of using those precautions against rot, which ought always to be adopted on a moist soil or in a mountainous country: but to talk of persons dying in Ireland of starvation is absurd, and bespeaks an utter ignorance of the national character. There are poor-houses; and besides, in Ireland, the hungry man may enter without hesitation, and share without apology in the meal of his more wealthy neighbour; and lodging, humble though it be, is never denied to the houseless or the destitute. Those who accuse Irishmen, of any class or party, of hard-heartedness or inhumanity, had better look at home. In their country we never hear of verdicts of "death from starvation" being returned by coroners' juries; or of the weak and the unfortunate being compelled to seek for shelter in the hollows of decayed trees, or to sleep like brute beasts in the open parks, exposed to the cold and the inclemency of winter. The gentry may neglect their duties in other respects: as regards the performance of charitable acts, they are faultless; the middleman may be exacting—but he is hospitable; and the men who make those groundless charges, would be not a little astonished did they see the multitudes that are still fed (poor-laws notwithstanding) at the BIG House of the Irish gentleman. We have said that failures of the crops, and scarcity, occur much more frequently in the densely populated parts of the country than in any others, and that those failures arise in a great measure from the neglect of the people themselves. Parts of Mayo, Galway, and Donegal, are the localities most subject to those visitations. In those counties the most miserable class of the peasantry exist; and nothing, we think, can prove more conclusively, that their misfortunes and their wretchedness cannot with justice be attributed to the misconduct of their landlords, but rather to their own, than the undisputed fact, that in those districts in which the people are worst off, the land is set at the lowest rent; and that where the greatest quantity of waste land is unreclaimed, and where that which is under cultivation is worst managed and least attended to, there, invariably, is to be found the greatest amount of unemployed labourers. It may be said they know no better mode of cultivation than what they practise. They do; those are the very men who go, and have from their youth been in the habit of going, to England and Scotland, where they see the benefits arising from a good system of agriculture. They fully appreciate, but won't practise it. The truth is—and this is one of the great sources of Irish misery—that by the constant agitation of which (under one shape or another) he is almost always the victim, the Irish peasant is induced to consider himself as the worst treated of God's creatures; by it he is kept in a continual state of dependence on anticipated events, which leads him to expect the amelioration of his condition by means of political convulsions, rather than by patient and persevering industry.

We need scarcely say how much the sympathy expressed for his situation, and the abuse heaped on his landlord, tend to confirm the Irish peasant in his bad habits. Articles from the English press, and not extracts from the gospel, form the texts of the sermons which are delivered for his instruction: the object of the preacher is not to remove his prejudices, or to eradicate his faults; but to excite his animosities, and to extract his shillings: when peace and mercy are inculcated, it is not because they are commanded, but because they may be expedient.

In those parts in which there are no resident gentry to employ them, to set them an example, and to enforce a respect for the laws, the peasantry indulge in idleness, and engage in politics. They work at home only when it suits their convenience or inclination, and from others they can only procure work (at prices for which they will work) in the harvest and spring. In summer, after they have planted their crops, and made their turf, and set the milk of their cow, (if they have one,) they shut up their houses, send their wives and their families to beg, and betake themselves to England or Scotland to reap the harvest. There, until of late years, they earned the almost incredible sums of L16, sometimes of L20—latterly, competition and other causes have reduced the amount to, on the average, between L4 and L5. Out of this, on their return, they pay the rent of the con-acre which they have taken, while a third of their own holding is waste. With the balance and their oats they pay the landlord, in those cases in which he is so fortunate as to get any rent; and having secured an abundance of potatoes, they sit down to enjoy themselves for the winter. During the night they play cards for geese, turkeys, and herrings; attend dances, where they are enrolled and sworn into secret societies; and devote some hours to the wrecking of the houses, or the castigation of the persons, of those who are obnoxious to them. In the daytime, you find them at the places of public resort or amusement, or lazily and listlessly strolling about those miserable abodes—in whose floors you frequently find stepping-stones to carry you from the entrance to the space occupied by the fire, and before whose doors are those stagnant pools and heaps of filth, so disgusting to every traveller. Could they not remove those? Is it the landlord's fault that they don't? Does he wish their houses to be in such a condition, or encourage them to keep their own persons and those of their children in such a state of dirt and nastiness? Not at all. He does his best to prevail on them to adopt a different system; but his interference in their domestic matters is always looked on as an unjustifiable intrusion; in short, as a sort of minor grievance, and a petty act of oppression. Perhaps it is to be attributed to their poverty? Water, at least, is cheap and abundant in Ireland.

Such is a true and accurate account of the "tenor of those men's lives" and habits; and it is a continuance of this state of things that those who attack the Irish landlords so indiscriminately are, in reality, advocating.

Now, let us suppose that a tract of two thousand acres, set perhaps by the grandfather of the preset owner, and inhabited by a class of tenantry such as we have described, comes on a landlord's hands. It has been let and relet—tied up in settlements—and, until the termination of the lease, there may have been three or four intermediate landlords between the occupant and the proprietor. The present possessor comes to deal with an estate, ruined and almost worthless from mismanagement, over which he could exercise no control, and peopled by a pauper and surplus tenantry, for whose creation he is in noways accountable. This is exactly the condition of those estates, and the position of those landlords, whose treatment and whose acts have been latterly so much commented on. And we will now ask those who blame others so much, candidly to tell us what they would advise to be done—what, if placed in such a situation, they would do themselves. They will, no doubt, at once say, "Remove some, give them the means of going to the colonies, and make the rest comfortable." Why, that is exactly what the landlords have been endeavouring to do, and for which they have been denounced. This is just what Lord Lorton, Colonel Windham, and others, did; and for doing which they were designated "miscreants." If the tenantry were removed, even to better their own condition, the dues of the priest, and the physical force at the command of the agitator, would be lessened—and this would never answer. "Well, then, if this mode of management be not popular, leave all on the land, build them comfortable houses, and insist on a proper mode of cultivation. In Belgium and France men live on smaller portions of land in comfort, why should they not in Ireland? Lay out money in affording them employment, pay them for draining and sewering—the benefit will be ultimately yours." The answer is obvious. It would require more money than the property is worth to build good houses for all; and, if built, they would soon go to ruin from the habits of the people. If they possessed the land in fee, the occupants, from their numbers, could not exist upon it. The landlord cannot make them emulate the Belgian or the Frenchman in industry. The produce of the orchards he may plant will be stolen, and the trees broken and destroyed, to obtain the fruit. They will not exert themselves to raise many things which are sources of profit to the poor man in this and other countries; or if they did, they would have no market—they would obtain no price for them. And why? Because their own misconduct prevents the establishment of any manufactures, or the outlay of any money amongst them. Who will carry his machinery to a country where—though he may be a good master and a kind friend, though he may give occupation to hundreds and diffuse wealth among thousands—his spindles may be stopped at the beck of a priest, and his machinery left to rust at the dictate of Mr O'Connell. Independent men do not wish to lose all self-control—to sacrifice all right of private judgment; and he who dares to assert his own opinions, or to defy the behests of the "Liberator," has no business to betake himself to Ireland. As to giving employment in sewering and draining—which would benefit the estate—it is not every man who can afford to set his land at a cheap rate, and afterwards to expend his income for the immediate benefit of the occupier. But even this has been attempted. Lord Lansdowne tried to accomplish it on his Irish estate; but the steward he sent to superintend the work was noticed to quit, and driven out of the country, by the very persons for whose benefit those improvements were planned—by the very men who were to be paid for their execution. Under such circumstances as we have stated, in many instances the fear of death compels the landlord to abandon all idea of improvement. He must submit to sacrifice his rent, because those in possession can't or won't pay him; and, if he removes them, he can find no one to succeed them: and, in addition to his other consolations, he has the pleasure of seeing himself described as a monster more ruthless than any Russian despot; while some hut, the erection of which he dared not have prevented, is described, perhaps sketched and stuck in a book, as an incontrovertible proof of the miserable condition to which his rapacity and neglect have reduced his unhappy dependents.

No direct legislation can affect the social condition of Ireland; before you can hope to benefit the country, you must establish tranquillity, and inspire the peasantry with a due respect for the law, and a just estimate of the rights of private property. The question is—by what means are those things to be accomplished? You may give land at a lower price than it now brings, but you will not thereby cause any perceptible change in the habits of the people. They may be wealthier, but they will not be cleanlier. Their rents may be better paid, but the peasant will still live on the potato. The filthy cabin will exist, and the cow and the pig will feed at the same board, and occupy the same apartment as the owner, until you elevate the moral and social feelings of the man, and teach him to require as a necessary what he now looks on as a superfluous luxury.

Much of the poverty of the Irish peasantry has been attributed to the con-acre system. But if this system were not found, by the persons who practise it, to be more beneficial, and less laborious, than raising crops from their own land, it would not be persevered in. In those counties in which con-acres are scarce, the cry is, that the people are starved, because they can't have them. Where they are abundant, they are impoverished by the prices they pay for them. The Terryalt system, in the south, originated in the gentlemen farmers refusing to break up their land, and in the people assembling in mobs, digging the ground, thereby rendering it unfit for pasture, and compelling the owners to let it for potatoes. It may be said, how could they avoid doing this? They had no land to raise potatoes on, and they must have them or die. This is not the case. The only persons who could be so circumstanced are the day-labourers; and to them it must, personally, be a matter of indifference what land was, or was not broken: for, by their agreements, those gentlemen and farmers who employ them, are bound to provide them with potato land; consequently they would not risk their lives to procure what was already guaranteed them. Those agrarian disturbances originated with small farmers, whose own farms were not half cultivated; or tradesmen, who would not have been so anxious to procure con-acres, if they did not find them in general a much cheaper mode of procuring their staple commodity than by having recourse to the markets. The first use a servant boy or girl makes of their earnings, is to plant con-acres, not for subsistence, but for sale. Half an acre of potatoes is generally the foundation of the fortune. The rent paid for potato ground has been enormously magnified. Mr Wiggins sets it down at L12 per acre. It may let for this price (the plantation acre) in the immediate vicinity of Dublin, Belfast, or some other large cities; where, from the contiguity of the market, the produce of a good acre will be worth from L40 to L60, according to the rate of prices. But, in the rural districts, such a price is never heard of; and it is only by the prices in those districts that the condition of the people can be affected. From L5 to L7 and L8 will be found the usual prices; and we should be glad to know what English farmer would give upwards of one acre three roods of his best land, well tilled and highly manured, at such a price, the renter only holding it for one crop, and paying no taxes whatever. The average produce per acre of good con-acre will be, at least, twenty tons of eating or marketable potatoes, independent of a large quantity fit for seed, and for the feeding of pigs; the value of those latter will greatly over-pay the expense of seed, planting, and digging. And taking the price at 1s. per 112 lbs., the renter will have L20 worth of potatoes for L8; a clear profit of L12 on the acre. It, of course, occasionally does occur, that from failure of the seed, rot, or other casualties, the crop may not be worth the rent; in this case an abatement, sufficient to satisfy him, is made to the holder, or it is left on the landlord's hands. Potatoes being a perishable crop, and a species of food which cannot be preserved beyond a season, their price fluctuates more than that of any other kind of provisions. Last year the price in this "country of famine" was 4d. for 112 lbs.; in general the prices vary from 1s. (seldom less) to 2s., and sometimes 3s., the 112 lbs.

In Ireland, good con-acres are looked on by the peasantry as a certain source of wealth; here they are considered as a main cause of their poverty. Who are the best judges—the people who use, or those who read about them? But whatever may be the merit or demerit of the con-acre system, (and we are none of its advocates,) it is unjust to charge its practice on the landlords. They have nothing whatever to do with it; it is a mode of dealing between one class of tenantry and another. The assertion in the "Cry from Ireland," that the peasant gives his manure, and pays 18s. an acre besides, is too ridiculous to require confutation.

But suppose the rents in Ireland were exorbitant, who would be to blame?—the landlords who accepted them, or the people who swore to their extraordinary moderation? Let us look to the registry courts:—[36]

"There the landlords were found opposing the admission of their tenantry to the register, and stating on oath that they considered the rents received by them as the full value of the land—while the tenants, and their neighbours, and the liberal 'valuators,' were proving 'that it was let by those rack-renting and heartless men' grossly under its value. And indeed, when the small extent of the farms whose occupiers claimed the right to vote is taken into consideration, this must appear true; for it sometimes required to prove the land worth thirty shillings the acre more than the rent paid, to bring the annual profit up to the requisite ten pounds.

"That the rents were not considered as too high, we have not only the testimony of the freeholders themselves, but of other 'competent persons,' employed by the registry association, who, before the claimant was placed on the register, were obliged solemnly to swear, in public court, 'that the land was in most instances worth, and that a solvent tenant could afford to pay for it, DOUBLE THE RENT imposed on the occupier by the landlord.' We say, in almost every instance, double the rent; for when it is considered that many have registered from seven to eight acres, it would be necessary to do so in order to bring the value up to the required L10; and yet those men who have so sworn, and those leaders who have encouraged and induced them so to swear, and who have procured and paid others to corroborate their testimony on oath, are the persons who so lustily proclaim the extortion of the landlords! If what they have sworn, and what their priests have encouraged them to swear, be true, their landlords must be indulgent and merciful indeed. If the contrary, not only have they been guilty of perjury for their own injury; but those who assisted and abetted them must have been aware that they were encouraging them to commit a grievous sin."

At that time it was Mr O'Connell's object to attain political power, by proving the lands were set at a cheap rate; now it is his object to obtain popularity, by declaring that they are set at a rate far too dear. Which of his assertions are we to believe?

It may be said that only a few, comparatively speaking, of the landholders registered their votes; and that, from the value of the holdings of a few, it would be unfair to draw a conclusion as to the terms on which the land was held by the bulk of the people. This objection could only be urged by a person unacquainted with Ireland; for any man who attended the quarter-sessions there, must know that, if all the persons for whom the priests and liberal clubs served notice, and whose qualifications they were prepared to support, had come forward to claim and establish their rights to the franchise, the number on the register would have been quite as great as (if it did not exceed) that of the old forty-shilling freeholders. If the claims of those who did apply, and who, although rejected, were most vigorously sustained by the agitators, had been substantiated, the constituency would have been quite as numerous as the most ardent patriot could desire.

From whatever causes the wretched condition of Ireland may arise, want of tenure cannot be included amongst them; for if length of tenure secured prosperity, Ireland should have been prosperous indeed. In no country were such long leases heretofore given: from three lives and thirty-one years to three lives and sixty-one years, were the terms usually granted; and at this moment there are many leases still in existence, in all parts of the country, made towards the close of the last century, and held directly from the owners. And although the lands held under these are at a rent very much below even the present depressed value, and of course greatly under what they would have fetched in the time of the war, still we do not find their possessors generally comfortable or independent; but, on the contrary, they are in most instances in a worse condition than those tenants whose rent has varied with the times, and been influenced by the rise or fall in the value of agricultural produce. Seeing, then, that men placed in the most favourable circumstances, both as regards the moderation of their rents and the length of their tenures, are generally more wretched in the appearance of their dwellings, and more neglectful of the cultivation of their farms, than those at the mercy of landlords, represented to be the most tyrannical on earth—we must seek the cause of the degraded state of the people elsewhere than at the door of the owners of the soil. Until within the last few years, (and those are the years in which the landlords have most exerted themselves, and in which the tenantry, who would be influenced by them, have most improved,) leases of at least twenty-one years, and one life, were always given, which not unfrequently prolonged the tenure to sixty or seventy years. And nothing can be more erroneous than to suppose that the refusal to grant leases, latterly practised by some Irish landlords, has been the cause of any hardship or suffering to the people. The contrary is the fact; and no men know this better than those who so loudly exclaim against the practice. It is a great mistake to imagine that leases are in no instance granted: the truth is, that they are still very generally given; and that in a great majority of those instances where they are withheld, they are so withheld, not with the intention of taking advantage of the tenant's improvements, or depriving him of his political rights, (as the English people are led to believe,) but for the purpose of compelling him to improve and to live comfortably, in spite of his own predilections. On the best managed estates in Ireland, and those where green-cropping has been most generally brought into operation, there are no leases; yet on those properties the tenantry are invariably the most independent and contented. On the estates of the Earl of Gosford, and other proprietors in the north, under the able superintendence of Mr Blacker, (whose conduct is the theme of universal approbation,) no leases are given until the tenant shows, by his industry and his exertions, that he deserves one; and then, after he has for some years cultivated his farm in a proper manner, and is taught to estimate the value of an improved system, he gets his lease as the reward of his industry, without the slightest advance in his rent. From the bad feelings implanted in the minds of the peasantry, they generally prefer living in comparative misery, and allowing their land to remain in a state of nature, whether they have leases or not, rather than make any improvements which might tend to the landlords' ultimate advantage, even though these improvements would produce immediate benefit to themselves; and this bad feeling is actually supported by the undisguised enmity, which unfortunately, of late years, subsists between the gentry and the priests. We are far from saying that acts of oppression and injustice may not sometimes be perpetrated by landlords and agents. Amongst so numerous a body, there must be bad men: and if an instance, lately mentioned by Mr O'Connell, be true—namely, that of an agent who set a farm occupied by an industrious and well-behaved tenantry, who owed no rent, to an extensive grazier, at a rent of four pounds a year less than the resident tenants offered to secure—we must at once admit that nothing could be more heartless or cruel. But then we are bound in justice to state, that the agent so accused was the bosom friend of the great agitator himself, and a leading member of the Repeal Association, which has constituted itself the protector, par excellence, of the Irish people. May we not fairly suppose that, when Mr O'Connell denounces his friends, he would not hesitate to drag his political opponents to the bar of public opinion; and that the paucity of facts which he is able to adduce against the landed gentry, is a proof that they have not neglected the duties of their station, in so flagrant a manner as his wholesale denunciations would lead us to expect?

How can we be surprised at Irish absenteeism? Can we expect that any man who can avoid it, will willingly expose the lives of himself and his family, by taking up his residence amongst the "Thugs" of Tipperary? If an absentee comes to reside personally to superintend the improvement of his property, and takes part of his own estate to make a demesne and build a mansion, he must dispossess someone—and, like Lord Norbury, he is shot. Should he escape his fate, his motives are misrepresented, and his anxious endeavours to give occupation and employment to the people, are converted into the worst crimes; because they can only be carried into effect by changing the condition of men from pauper and idle tenants to that of regularly worked and well paid labourers. And what object can he have, in risking death in the cause of those who suffer themselves to be so misdirected and misled? Local influence he can have none—that will be monopolized by the priest; political importance he cannot expect, in a country where the representation is placed exclusively in the hands of the Roman Catholic bishops.[37]

Mr Waller resided, and employed the labourers in his neighbourhood; but he took a part of his own land into his own hands—he ejected tenants who were unable or unwilling to pay their rents, and he gave them compensation, and to such as remained employment. What of that? He dared to occupy his own property, and for this he suffered years of persecution. His own expenditure, and his wife's charities, were no protection; and at length, while enjoying the comforts of his home, he and the amiable and unoffending females of his family, were cruelly butchered on his own hearth: and though, in the conflict, their assailants must have been wounded and marked, they have not as yet been discovered. May we not ask why is this? How comes it that, in a Christian country, murder is tolerated, nay openly approved? that the assassin is protected and concealed, instead of being delivered up, and made amenable to the offended laws of his country?[38] Can the ministers of that religion professed by the vast majority of the people, have faithfully discharged their sacred obligations, if men be found, professing the religion of Christ and understanding its precepts, willing to enrol themselves as the hired bravoes of a "Black Sheep Society," and to butcher their neighbours for a petty reward? The Roman Catholic religion condemns murder as strongly as the Protestant religion; yet how happens it, that a whole community professing that faith winks at the crimes of the guilty? This total demoralization we look on as the worst feature of the case. There are, and always must be, bad men in every society; but how the great mass of the people could be brought to tolerate the commission of crimes amongst them, which cry aloud to Heaven for vengeance, is more than we can comprehend. Had the priests devoted that time which they spent in exciting the passions and misleading the judgment of their flocks, in the inculcation of the divine precept of brotherly love—had they exercised that influence which they undoubtedly possess in calming the passions and enlightening the minds of their people—the condition of their country would now be widely different from what it is; and surely their bishops might have been better employed in remedying the neglect of their subordinates, than in attending political meetings, and delivering postprandial orations, savouring more of the braggart boastings of a drunken drumboy, than of the deliberate opinions of a dignified ecclesiastic. In their zeal as politicians, the Roman Catholic clergy have forgotten their duties as priests; and they are now beginning to get a foretaste of the consequences: they became mob leaders at elections and popular meetings—they rode the whirlwind, "can they direct the storm?" The ruffian tasting blood in beating the electors, soon undertook business on his own account. The step from savage assault to actual murder, is but ideal. The man who encouraged, or connived at, the lesser crime, could scarcely expect to prevent the perpetration of the greater and the "boy" who commenced by applying "gentle force" to a reluctant voter, became in the fulness of his crimes the avowed assassin. The priest used him as "the bully"—he may repudiate, but he dare not denounce, him as "the murderer."

In the late debate, two publications on the state of Ireland were recommended to special attention; the one, "A Cry from Ireland," by Lord John Russell—the other, Mr Wiggins's book, by the Marquis of Normanby. The first we should scarcely have noticed, (the noble lord mentioned it with so much diffidence,) but for the impression it seems subsequently to have made on the mind of Sir R. Peel; but when we found a noble ex-lord-lieutenant recommending, as trustworthy and instructive, a book written on a subject which engrosses much of the public attention, we felt it our duty at once to apply to his "fountain of knowledge."

We cannot say that we have "read with attention" the whole of this whimsical production: few there are, we believe, who could command patience enough to wade through such a mass of contradictory absurdity; but we have selected such parts as we could find at all bearing on the subject Mr Wiggins professes to write upon; and we shall transcribe some few passages, if not for the benefit, at least for the amusement, of our readers; merely premising, that this gentleman gives us no data on which to found our opinions, and no guarantee for the truth of his statements but his own assertion. First, as regards the amount of rent charged in the north and south, Mr Wiggins says—

"In accordance with this view of the case, we find, in practice, that the rents are far higher in proportion to the produce of the land in those parts of Ireland where Romanism prevails, than in other parts, where Protestantism is professed by a considerable portion of the population."

We refer to our previous statements, founded on unquestionable authority, to show how perfectly erroneous this "view of the case" is. The direct contrary is the fact; land is set for at least one third more in the Protestant and peaceable north, than in the Roman Catholic and turbulent south. As a specimen of our author's style when he becomes jocose, and of his veracity when he describes the conduct of Irish landlords, we give a graphic sketch, representing the mode of letting land in the sister country—

"Fancy a 'lord of the soil' (a petty one 'tis true) walking with a bevy of bidders humbly following him, after obtaining a bid of money far beyond the value from one, exciting the others to outbid in duty rent, thus:—'Well, Mich, you hear what Pat bids; now, what will you advance?'—'Why, yer honer, God knows it's more than the value, but I'll give yer honer three days turf-drawing.'—'Three days is it, my lad, when you know well enough that my turf-stack takes a month's fine weather to get in?'—'Och! then,' says Denis, 'but I'll not grudge your honer a week.'—'By the powers now,' says Larry, 'I'd give yer honer two weeks, if the place and the rint would kape a horse, or a mule, or a donkey, in the way of drawing; but I'll bring yer honer a fat pig any how, and pay the rint of four pounds an acre as punctually as any other man.'—'Larry, the land is yours, my boy, and a mighty chape bargain too! Ted Sullivan promised me five pounds an acre plantation; but I was rather doubtful of his manes—I'll only ask ye to cut and save me a few slane, according to times, as you cannot draw it.'"

L4 the acre!!! this certainly beats any thing we ever heard of before; and until now we thought it a service of danger for any man to bid for another's holding, or even to take an unoccupied one; but Mr Wiggins has made many discoveries which are new to us, and not the least extraordinary is, that "Lycurgus gave laws to the Athenians."!!!

One of the great panaceas of Lord Normanby's protege is, that the land should be "set at full rents, on sensible leases"—which he proceeds to describe as leases for not less than twenty-one years. We have heard of many longer leases than those of twenty-one years, we never heard of any shorter being granted; and as the usual course is also to add a life—which may, and not unfrequently does, prolong the tenure to sixty or seventy years—we think that, if "sensible" leases had any effect, Ireland would have been long since contented.

Lord Normanby is reported to have stated as facts, on the authority of Mr Wiggins, "that in Ireland, where the saleable produce of a farm was L150, the share of the landlord in rent was L100; while on the other hand, in England, if the produce was L300, the share of the landlord was still L100." Mr Wiggins, in his "able work," also shows, that in the shape of county cess the charge was nearly double in Ireland what it was in England. It is difficult to form any accurate idea of the relative amount of the county cess paid in Ireland, and of the local taxes in England, as in both countries they vary in each different locality. In Ireland, the exact amount of county cess levied in each barony, can be easily ascertained by reference to the respective county books; but in England, as the local taxation is in a great measure put on by vestry, it would be an arduous task to strike an average.

In Ireland, the county cess varies in every barony, according to the amount of public works executed in each, or according to the state of crime in each district. In peaceable counties, and those which do not border on the Shannon, the county cess will vary from tenpence to one shilling an acre, half-yearly; while in disturbed districts, and in those counties adjoining the Shannon, it will amount to much more. In the first, because of the large sums obliged to be levied off them, as compensation to those whose cattle were maliciously houghed, or whose houses were burned; and in the latter, because of the great boon (the grant to improve the river) bestowed on Ireland by that government of which Lord Normanby was a prominent member. In the former case, those who pay highly have only themselves to blame; if they were well conducted, and discouraged the commission of crime, as all well-disposed men ought to do, they would not have to bear those additional burdens. In the latter, the grand-juries have no control; they must assess to repay the principal of the money advanced to them, and discharge the interest. Here we may be permitted to remark, that we believe, since publicity was given to their adjudications on fiscal matters, there is quite as little jobbing in Ireland as in this country. As a proof of the disposition of the gentry to reduce the expenditure to the lowest possible amount, we will state, what every gentleman serving on grand-juries in Ireland must be cognisant of—namely, that not more than one-third of the presentments approved of by the rate-payers, are ever passed by the grand-juries; and yet road sessions, at which the principal rate-payers have power to vote, were instituted to check the extravagance of the proprietors.

The difficulty in ascertaining the proportion of the produce of the soil taken as rent by the landlords in either country, exists principally as regards the large holdings; because in England a great proportion of the farms are under tillage, while in Ireland, if not the whole, by far the greater part of all the extensive farms are under grass; and the profits of the grazier vary so much, that it is hard to form any correct estimate of the proportion of the produce taken by the landlord as rent, and that left to the tenant as interest for the money employed in the purchase of stock. But in the smaller class of holdings, we can have no difficulty in coming pretty near the truth; and as it is the grievances of the class of men by whom those small farms are held which require examination, the amount taken from them as rent, and left to then as remuneration for their labours, is what is most requisite to be ascertained. Let us, then, take a farm of twelve Irish acres, at 30s. an acre.

According to the Irish mode of cultivating, it will be cropped and stocked as follows:— Saleable Acres. R. P. produce Landlord's rent, L18 0 0 1 2 0 Potatoes, at L18 per acre, L27 0 0 County cess, 1 4 0 3 0 0 Oats, at L7 per do. 21 0 0 Poor-rates, 0 7 0 1 2 0 Meadow, at L4 per do. 6 0 0 ————- 6 0 0 Under pasture, feeds four cows Rent and taxes, L19 11 O which produce 8 firkins of butter, at L2, 10s. each, 20 0 0 Profit on calves, 6 0 0 Probable profit on pigs, 10 0 0 ———— L90 0 0 Amount of rent and taxes paid by tenant, 19 11 0 ———— Surplus left to tenant as remuneration for labor L70 9 0

This is but a rough calculation, and an underrated one as regards the profits of the tenant; but it serves our purpose sufficiently, and shows that, instead of taking two-thirds of the produce, the landlord takes not one-fourth—much less than the amount assumed to be taken in England. But when we consider the additional imposts which the English farmer has to pay in tithes, poor-rates, turnpikes, &c., we must at once perceive how very much less the Irish tenant is charged in comparison to what he is subject to. But if the farm, stocked and cropped as we have above described it, (and it is the usual mode,) were cultivated as it ought to be—if, instead of having one-half under natural pasture, it were tilled after the Scotch or English system, and one-half or two-thirds of what is now comparatively unproductive pasture, were under green crops—we need not say how much the saleable produce would be increased; and consequently, how much the tenant's profits would be augmented. Yet surely that it is not so cultivated, is not the landlord's fault. If he has given a lease, he has no control further than to exact his rent; if he supply instruction, it may not be received; if he set a good example, it may not be followed. If the tenant will not consult his own interests, the landlord is not to be held as responsible for the consequences of his neglect. The fair way to calculate in this particular would be, not to take the saleable produce at what it is, raised under a deficient system and negligent cultivation; but at what it might be, if the tenant had but industry, and would but do his duty.

In an article on the Irish fisheries, in the Quarterly Review for September last, (page 475,) we find it stated, that "the agricultural produce of Ireland was, in 1832, estimated at L36,000,000 per annum, issuing out of 14,603,473 acres of land—a return nearly one-half less than that rendered by an equal number of English acres; and this with five labourers employed in Ireland, where two only are required in England." The rental of Ireland is ascertained to be above L12,000,000; and thus we see that in fact the Irish landlord only receives the one-third of the saleable produce, raised by his slothful and negligent tenant, as rent. Let the produce be made equal to that of England, (and with common industry this might be made to exceed it,) and the share of the produce extracted as rent would only be about one-sixth. Yet Lord Normanby "burkes" this correct information, and clutches on the vague and unfounded assertions of Mr Wiggins, merely for the purpose of damaging the character of a body of men, who had already been sufficiently injured by the consequences of his misgovernment.

We shall briefly advert to a few more of the items in the catalogue of Irish tenants' grievances.

"In England, the markets are near, and the cost of conveyance thereto seldom exceeds five per cent on value. In Ireland, the cost of preparing for and marketing, is ten and fifteen to twenty per cent on the value of the produce, and often more."

In Ireland the saleable produce consists almost generally of oats, butter, potatoes, and pigs; for which there is a ready market in every village and town. As those markets are very seldom more than four or five miles apart; and as, moreover, horse-hire and human labour are at least fifty per cent cheaper in Ireland than in England—we are at a loss to discover how "the cost of preparing, and taking to market," can be fifteen per cent more in the cheaper than in the dearer country.

Mr Wiggins makes one statement founded on truth, and we willingly give Lord Normanby the benefit of it. "In England, labour is effectual, and men skilful: in Ireland, three men are required for one in England." And we would respectfully ask his lordship who is to be blamed for this. Is it the landowner?—who, though he nominally pay less, in reality pays more wages than the Englishman for the cultivation of a given quantity of ground, and who would, if he could, for his own sake remedy the evil. Or does the blame lie at the door of Lord Normanby's own proteges, the priests and agitators?—those men who held the reins of power, and the keys of prisons, during his administration; and who, by their pestilent conduct, have raised the minds of the peasantry from their natural occupation, and taught them to hope for affluence and independence from other sources than industry and employment. Those labourers, when working on task in England or Scotland, are found to be quite equal to English or Scotch labourers: why are they not so when at home? Lord Normanby's "unquestionable authority" is so very contradictory in his assertions, that, had he not received the sanction of his lordship's approbation, his own conflicting statements must have effectually destroyed his credibility, but for the encomiums passed on it. In one passage he condemns the landlords for the exorbitance of their rents; while in the next he makes it a matter of pride and gratification that he has himself, during his management, raised the rental of the property under his control at least one-third—while the adjoining estate is much more favourably circumstanced, and much more cheaply let, though by no means so prosperous.

When a nobleman, so long and so intimately connected with the country whose interests are under discussion, as Lord Normanby was with Ireland, and who, from the position which he occupied and the opportunities which he possessed, ought to be particularly well informed on the question at issue, solemnly assures us, from his place in Parliament, and in a debate which he himself has originated, that the landlord and tenant question is one on which the most profound ignorance exists in this country, and that there never was a government which had so little local knowledge as the present, and which, consequently, was so ill fitted to legislate on the subject—when he laments other men's ignorance, and glorifies himself on his own particular knowledge—when, we say, a nobleman so circumstanced as the Marquis of Normanby, does all this, and at the same time recommends a guide, by whom the ignorant may be enlightened and the blind led, we are bound to believe that he has accurately ascertained the trustworthiness of the person under whose guidance he now would place us; and that he has maturely considered, and carefully proved, the correctness of those statements on which he would found legislation, by the test of his own experience. We are bound to believe (and we do) that the noble lord is firmly convinced of the accuracy of Mr Wiggins's views and principles, because they are exactly similar to those on which, during his government, he always acted. During his rule, the cause of the mob was every thing, and the cause of the gentry was nothing. Can we, then, be surprised at the state in which we find Ireland, and the difficulty experienced in hitting off the measures requisite for the emergency—when we see "the most beloved and popular viceroy that ever administered the government," and the one "who was said, beyond all others, to be best acquainted with the wants and wishes of that country," so profoundly ignorant of its most simple statistics—simple, it is true, but still bearing most importantly on a great and momentous question?

We fear that, in his viceregal "progresses," the noble marquis was too much excited by the hearty cheers which greeted him, and too much engaged by the brilliant eyes that beamed upon him, to attend to the more ostensible and more serious duties of his office; and that he devoted the time which, if properly employed, might have enabled him to arrive at the truth, in chucking the chins and patting the heads of the pretty frail ones, to whom he addressed valedictory admonitions as he released them from those dungeons to which the over-strict laws of their country had (no doubt unjustly) consigned them.

In the observations which we shall make on the pamphlet entitled "A Cry from Ireland," we wish to be distinctly understood—we do not undertake the task of showing up its glaring and wilful falsehoods for the purpose of exculpating Mr Shee, the principal person whose conduct is arraigned in it. He is openly, and boldly assailed; and if he be either unable or unwilling to defend his character, he is unworthy of sympathy or support. We undertake this duty, from higher and more important motives than the exculpation of any individual. The conduct of the Irish gentry is assailed through Mr Shee; and we wish to show that no landlord, however ill inclined he may be, could practise such legal tyranny as is imputed to this man. The administration of justice has been impugned—we wish to show how unjustly; and this we shall be able to do, even from the statements made by this wholesale libeller himself. The conduct of the government has been vilified, because they are accused of supplying Mr Shee with a police force, under whose protection, and by whose assistance, he is said to perpetrate the most glaring felonies in the open day—we leave the defence of their participation in Mr Shee's enormities to her Majesty's ministers, when they are called to account, as no doubt they will be, for allowing a force, paid for the protection of her Majesty's subjects, to be employed as the author of this pamphlet states them to be, in the following instance:—

"In one case, that of a tenant named Bushe, of whom with many other sufferers I have not yet spoken, the landlord resolved on an ejectment; but Bushe owing no rent, he could only proceed as he had done against Pat Ring, or by some other process of a like kind. He took a shorter one. It so happened that, though Bushe had paid his rent in order to keep the house above his head—a very good house it was, to judge from the size and worth of the substantial walls which, in most parts, were still standing when I was there—he had not paid every man in the county to whom he was indebted. He owed one person, residing at a distance, a sum of money more, as it soon appeared, than he could pay at once. This man the landlord found out, through some of his agents appointed for such purposes, and purchased from him the debt which Bushe owed him. This account being legally conveyed to the landlord, he at once proceeded against his tenant the debtor, threw him into prison, and as soon as he got him there, went and took the roof off his house, turning out his wife and six young children upon the open highway. There they remained without shelter and without food, until some of the people of the adjoining village assisted them. The father was in prison, and could neither resist the spoliation of the house which he himself had built nor could he do any thing, by work or otherwise, for his family's subsistence. In every respect, the proceeding was illegal on the part of the landlord, but, though the lawyers urged Bushe to prosecute, and assured him of ultimate success, he was too far gone to listen to them. He was heartbroken. He had no confidence in any redress the law might give: he had seen a rich man set the law at defiance; and the ruin of his roofless house—every piece of timber from which, and every handful of thatch, as also the doors and windows, had been carried away by orders of the landlord, and b the assistance of the constabulary, who are located on the estate at the express request of the landlord, and by sanction of the government."

Here we have it asserted that an undoubted and most audacious felony has been committed, and that the police force not only protected the aggressors, but actually assisted in the perpetration of the crime. Surely this is a case in which immediate punishment must have followed, if an appeal lad been made to the law. It admitted of no excuse. A man, without a shadow of right, destroys and carries of the materials of another man's house. The police force not only do not prevent, but they assist him. There is a stipendiary magistrate, but he does not interfere; a petty sessions court, but no recourse is had to it; and, strange to say, there is Daniel O'Connell, to whom every thing is known, and he is silent; the two Messrs Butler, the members for the county, and they are mute; Lord J. Russell assails the conduct of the ministry towards Ireland—here was a case more flagrant than any he brought forward; he knows it, for he recommends the book in which it is stated—he dares not bring it forward, for no doubt he enquired, and found it was untrue. To have it refuted, would not answer his purposes or those of O'Connell, his ally. He recommends the book as an authority to those who wish to see how the Irish are treated by their landlords; and, receiving his sanction, it gets into circulation, and obtaius belief for, others in addition to the many calumnies already propagated against the Irish gentry. The author tells us—

"The writer of the following pages has personally visited many of the towns and rural districts of Ireland; and, in obedience to those who instructed him to perform the task, has drawn up a plain statement of facts, for the benefit of persons interested in the welfare of Ireland, and who cannot visit that country personally to judge for themselves."

And right clumsily has he performed the duty assigned to him. Had his cunning been equal to his malignity, he would have acted with more prudence. He would not have recklessly asserted in one place what his own admissions refute in another. He would not have charged the most talented, distinguished, and impartial law-officers of the crown with having strained the law to protect a delinquent because he was a Protestant—and afterwards shown that the conduct of this man was condemned by those very persons accused of partiality towards him; and that his illegal acts were punished by those very tribunals to which (he asserts) no poor man need think of applying for redress. He, however, does his best to cover those glaring inconsistencies. He breaks the thread of his narrative, and intersperses his stories in such a manner, that a casual reader, who has not time or inclination to examine or compare them, may easily be deceived and misled. For the purpose of showing the reliance to be placed on Lord John Russell's authority, we shall take up one case, (that of Patrick Ring,) and follow it out to its conclusion.

"The first proceeding was against Patrick Ring, a tenant, who held on a lease of thirty-one years and a life, and who owed no arrears up to 1842; the proceedings against him began in March 1841, and have given rise to a complicated variety of actions at law, ending with his ejectment and utter beggary.

"As he owed no rent, and as no possible reason for getting rid of him as a tenant could be assigned, nor was ever offered until long after proceedings had begun, a bold stroke to make a beginning was absolutely requisite, and it was struck. The lease specified a certain day in May and in November, as that on which the half-yearly rent would fall due. Those days had been strictly adhered to, and no one knew this better than the landlord. But in 1841 he obtained a warrant of distraint,[39] and seized on Ring on the 26th of March, for rent alleged to be due on the 25th. It might have been a hard enough misfortune to be distrained on the day following that of the rent being due in any case, especially in spring, when the cattle and implements of labour, as also the seed-corn, and potatoes, the articles distrained, are required for the peculiar duties of that most important season, seed-time. But when such a distraint was made on such articles, so indispensable in their uses even for a day, to say nothing of weeks, and no rent nor debt of any kind owing, the case is peculiarly a hard one on the tenant.

"Patrick Ring caused a replevin to be entered with the sheriff—that is, he gave security that he would pay the rent, if rent was due, as soon as a trial at quarter-sessions or assizes could be had—that he might in the mean time get the use of the property upon which the distraint lay. He accordingly proved by his lease that he owed nothing—that no rent was due until May. But before that was done, May had come, and the rent was due. He paid it punctually, and proceeded against the landlord for damages, or rather for the costs to which he had been exposed. This being opposed, occupied much time; and before it was settled, the landlord once more distrained for rent alleged to be due on the 29th of September. Again Patrick Ring replevined, and proved his rent-days to be in November and May, and not in September and March. The case of costs and trespass came to trial in respect of both seizures, and was decided in Ring's favour. Thus a jury and a judge certified by their decision that the tenant was right, and the landlord wrong. The damages awarded were very moderate, only L12 and costs; but the tenant looked on the verdict as most important, in respect of its setting, as he thought, the validity of his lease and the period of his rent-days at rest. But that the damages were too moderate as regarded the landlord was manifest from the fact, that he again distrained in March for rent not due until May.

"He now, it being again seed-time, took a more effectual way of crippling the tenant than before. He seized on the farm implements and stock, of which the dunghill was in his eyes the most important. He had it, without a legal sale, carried away to his own farm-yard, even to the very rakings and sweepings of the road and the yard near which it lay. This he did that Ring might have no manure for his potato ground, knowing that crops so planted would not easily afford the rent; and that, when no rent was forthcoming, an ejectment would soon follow. Other things—a plough, and a horse, and some furniture—were sold, and Ring was once more involved in litigation. These things were bought in with his own money, save the dung-heap, which the landlord would not give him a chance of buying in; and thus Ring was obliged to pay his rent before it was due, with all the expenses of a distraint and sale—the most expensively conducted of any distraints and sales under the British crown. He thought to recover damages for all this loss; but he was not able to pay his rent in addition to all this, when it became due; and thus, by some hocus-pocus of the law, the two cases became so mingled together as to be inextricable."

From this statement it would appear that this Mr Shee distrained illegally, that the tenant sought the protection of the law, and that he obtained damages to the amount of L12. This may appear an inconsiderable sum; but when it is considered that an officer entitled a "replevinger," resides in almost every town, that the stock or implements were not removed from the premises, and that Ring, if he exerted himself, could not be deprived of their use for a second day—we must admit it was a fair remuneration for his trouble. Well—but this Mr Shee, with the knowledge of his former misconduct, and its punishment before him, again seizes: and this time he commits a felony, as well as an illegal act; for he carries off the tenant's manure, and appropriates it to his own use, without going through any legal form whatever. The tenant obtained justice before; but now (with a still stronger case) he refuses to bring his action, which, in the quarter-sessions court, would have cost him 2s. 6d. He is quite aware of his rights, for he defended them successfully before; yet for some reason or another, studiously concealed, he now remains inactive.[40]

* * * * *

Is every person so silly as to believe that this Mr Shee, who was more than once successfully prosecuted for assaults and illegal acts, would not again be brought to justice for such a serious breach of the law as that of forcibly carrying off another man's property. The criminal prosecution would only have cost one shilling; and can we believe he would a third time subject himself to an action for illegal distress, with the rent-days specified in the lease well known to him?

But all the assertions of this paid maligner sink into insignificance compared with what follows. We know not which to be most amazed at—the recklessness, or the stupid ignorance of the man.

"It would be too tedious to give a detailed account of every lawsuit that now followed; but from that time, the summer of 1842, up to the summer assizes of 1843, the landlord proceeded in the courts for a warrant of ejectment against Ring nine times. On the first eight cases he was defeated; but he succeeded on the ninth. He had thirteen other lawsuits of various kinds with the same defendant, during which he sold his furniture five times and his horse twice. In all, he had twenty auctions of sale previous to midsummer of this year. Part of the furniture was in several of these instances only bought back by the agent, Mr James Coyne, handing money privately to Ring to pay for it. This is the agent formerly spoken of, who at last gave up his situation out of sheer disgust at the odious work he was called on to perform.

"The crop of 1842 was seized on and sold at seven different times. It was much more than sufficient to pay the rent, even though the manure was carried away in the spring by the landlord; but those seven different seizures, with seven different sales, with a number of men receiving at each of the seven seizures 2s. 4d. a-day, as keepers to watch the crop from the day of distraint to the day of sale—those seven seizures on a crop which might have been all seized and sold at one time, with only one set of expenses—resulted, as they were intended to do, in nearly doubling the rent. Moreover, the crop being distrained on while growing, was cut down by people whom the landlord employed, although the tenant and his family were standing unemployed; and to such work-people the landlord can give any wages he chooses, to be deducted from the tenant, up to 2s. 6d. a-day! even though the harvest wages of the district be 8d. or 10d. a-day![41]—even though the tenant, who is thus not allowed to give his own labour to his own farm, may, to avoid starvation, be compelled to work to another employer for the fourth part, to wit, 7-1/2d. a-day, of what the law obliges him to pay for workmen on his own farm.

"It will give some proof of the exertions made by the tenant to pay his way when I state, that, notwithstanding all the extraordinary expenses of the seizures, and of the protracted and complicated litigation, the rent was paid by the autumn of 1842. There as nothing owing by Ring save a sum of L1 and odds, connected with the expenses of a summons which had been decided against him on some technical point of law."

Here it is stated, in the first place, that from the summer assizes 1842, to the same period in 1843, Ring was nine times proceeded against by ejectment. Now the landlord could only proceed by ejectment in the quarter-sessions' court, or in the superior courts. The quarter-sessions' courts are held but four times in the year, namely, in January, April, July, and October. The sessions were only held three times within the period during which Ring is said to have been nine times sued by ejectment; and consequently, if Mr Shee were even inclined, it would be impossible for him to have proceeded more than three times against him in the sessions court. But if he instituted his suit in the superior courts, (if defence were taken, as clearly was the case,) he could only have proceeded twice, "for the ejectment served at November should be tried at the spring assizes, and the one served subsequently at the summer assizes;" and the production of any process from the superior courts, or the proof that such was had recourse to, would effectually bar the landlord from proceeding in the inferior courts. He could not proceed in both at the same time; and thus we see that it would be impossible for any landlord, however oppressive, to have proceeded by ejectment more than three times within the period in which this veracious compiler of grievances positively asserts Shee proceeded nine times. Next, he says, "the crop of 1842 was sold seven different times," and "altogether he had twenty auctions of sale before midsummer of 1843." Now, any proceeding by distress, pending the progress of the ejectment, would have vitiated it and upset it; for the law does not allow two different modes of proceeding for the same debt at the same time; and in no courts is such scrupulous regard paid to the rights of the tenant as in the quarter-sessions courts. But no decree can be granted in ejectment cases until a clear year's rent shall have been proved to be due; and yet we find this man, Patrick Ring, who, it is asserted, owed no arrears of rent up to 1842, and the sale of whose crops and stock paid his rent up to autumn 1842, evicted in summer 1843, when only half a year's rent could have accrued due; and this, too, by a Roman Catholic assistant barrister, (Mr O'Gorman,) a judge above any suspicion, and who, if we are to believe the statement contained in Ring's own letter, was not at all partial to his persecutor.

To show how tyrannically men may act with impunity, (if they be landlords,) he quotes the case of O'Driscoll, who struck a boy with his horsewhip; yet he is obliged to admit, that for doing so he was fined L3 by his brother magistrates, and dismissed from the commission of the peace by the lord-chancellor. To create the desired degree of prejudice against the Irish landlords, it is necessary to impugn the administration of justice; for people here would naturally enough say, when they read of such atrocities, "why don't those men so injured have recourse to the law?" Therefore it must be shown (at any risk) that the law is no impediment in the way of a tyrannical landlord. The falsehoods may not be immediately detected; and in the mean time the object may be achieved. Accordingly we find that a landlord can thus summarily dispose of an obnoxious tenant. This Mr Shee was fired at: our author has his doubts—although it appears, by his own account of the trial, that slugs were lodged in his hand, and that his hat was perforated—and he adds—

"But, if really fired at, and therefore much frightened, as he doubtless would be, it was not a loss to him. With the facility which the law in Ireland gives him as a landlord, he at once threw those tenants into jail with whom he had been involved in litigation. Consequently, before they could prosecute him for damages, or before they could be witnesses in another case, they had themselves to be tried for attempted murder!

"Patrick Ring was one of those arrested; and though several hundreds of people, some of them gentlemen of rank and property, knew that he had been in the Catholic chapel for an hour before and an hour after the time the shot was alleged to have been fired, and that at the distance of two miles, yet he was kept in prison, in solitary confinement, not allowed to see any friend, nor even a lawyer, for several weeks. He was not even examined before a magistrate. This last fact in the administration of the law is, I believe, peculiar to Ireland only. Whether it is consistent with, or contrary to law, I cannot say. In England we consider it but justice to the accused and the accuser, to bring them face to face before a magistrate at the earliest opportunity. But in this case, the landlord (and I am told such a thing is quite common in all such cases) put Pat Ring in prison, kept him there three weeks in close confinement, apart even from a legal adviser, and then allowed him to go out without even taking him before a magistrate, or offering any evidence against him.

"We may easily conceive circumstances which would warrant the landlord to suspect this man, so as to have him taken up, and which might ultimately turn out to be so weak as to prevent the production of any evidence whatever. Had the landlord merely put Pat Ring in prison, and let him out again after finding, through a period of three weeks, that he could get no evidence against him, there would be little to complain of, save that the law should not compel the magistrates to bring the accused up for examination, or that the prison authorities should not let the prisoner have an interview with a legal adviser; but the landlord did much more. While Pat Ring was in jail, the landlord sent and made a wreck of his house and farm; took the roof, thatch, and wood off the barn, stable, and dwelling-house, save in one small portion of the latter; and every handful of the thatch and wood so pulled down was carried away to the landlord's own premises. The doors and windows he also carried away; pulled down the gates of the farm-yard and the garden, and the garden-wall. These gates were iron, and had been erected by the tenant a few years before at considerable expense. The houses were also all of his own erection; the thatch and timber of the roof, carried away by the landlord, was Pat Ring's own property; and all was taken away, and the whole place wrecked, without any warrant whatever for so doing; without any right whatever, save the right which, by the laxity of the law and the dominancy of a faction, a landlord, belonging to that dominant faction, may create for himself; without any authority whatever, save the power of his own high hand, against which the law is powerless.

"Pat Ring, after being kept in prison for three weeks, apart from every friend and adviser, and apart from every human creature, save the spies with which every prison in Ireland abounds—(persons who are kept there at the public expense, and who are put to sleep with such men as Pat Ring; and who, pretending to make a confidant of the fresh prisoner, tell tales of the assaults and murders which, as a trap, they profess to have been concerned in—they urging the new prisoner to confess all, to split on his accomplices, and take the reward of L100 at once,—except such companions as these, some of whom I saw produced as witnesses for the Crown at the Kilkenny assizes, thus learning from their own mouths the nature of their diabolical employment)—excepting these, to whom, as Pat Ring declares, he indignantly answered again and again that he had nothing to confess, he saw no human being during his incarceration—was liberated, and went joyfully home; but when he went there, alas! his home was a ruin."

We suppose we need scarcely point out the absurdity of such a statement as this. Some magistrate must have committed this man; the jailer could not receive him without a committal, nor set him at large[42] without a discharge; although, from the account given, the inference may be easily drawn that, on his own will, Shee had thrown Ring into prison. If falsely imprisoned, he had his action against the magistrate who committed him. The committal, which the jailer holds for his own security, would discover the person who had acted so illegally. If any man acted as Shee is said to have done in this instance, the law is not to be blamed—for it forbids such conduct: the government officers who permitted it to be violated, are the really guilty parties. And here again we may ask—why were not the government called on to explain the conduct of their officials, by Lord John Russell, who read and recommended the book to the attention of Sir Robert Peel? But in addition to the necessity of having Ring thrown into jail, to exhibit the power of the landlords, it was necessary, for our author's purposes, that he should be put out of the way, in order to account for an apology given by the editor of a local newspaper to this Mr Shee.

"An action was brought against the proprietor of the journal for a malicious libel, in calling this gentleman a 'notorious landlord.' A man who had, in two years and a half, had above two hundred disputes with his peasantry, not half of which I have yet even alluded to, but all of which, alluded to and related, had occurred previous to that time—such a man, to prosecute for being called 'notorious,' had good confidence.

"But he had also a good case. It would be scouted out of Westminster Hall, but it was a good case in Ireland. An English judge, after hearing evidence for the defence in such a case—evidence in justification—would not sum up to the jury, or, if he began his summary, the jury would stop him with an intimation that their minds were made up! But to the Irish jury—the special jury of landlords before whom this case was about to be brought—the proprietor of the Irish newspaper looked forward with a certainty of being convicted on a criminal charge, the punishment of which would have probably been one or two years' imprisonment and a heavy fine.

"He might have hoped for a verdict in his favour had the case stood for a common jury, or for a special jury in any of the counties where he was known, or where his paper circulated. When it was intimated to him that the trial would not take place in Kilkenny, he urged that the venue might be laid in Waterford, or Tipperary, or Wexford, or Carlow, or in the Queen's County, where something was known of each of the parties; but no, the venue was laid in the county of Dublin, where the gentlemen who would form the special jury were all of the landlord class, and nearly all belonging to the dominant church-and-state party. In that county nothing was known of either plaintiff or defendant, save that the first was a distinguished Protestant partisan and that the other was a Catholic, and proprietor of a liberal newspaper. Of their private characters nothing was known.

"Still the defendant resolved to go to trial, and justify the epithet 'notorious' as applied to the landlord. He intended taking several of the worst-used tenants up as witnesses; and he also obtained the official records of the petty sessions, quarter sessions, and assize courts, to put in as evidence to show the overwhelming amount of litigation carried on by the landlord with his tenantry. He resolved on doing all this, though sure of being condemned to imprisonment and a fine by the special jury; he judged, from the well-known reputation of that class of men, and from what he had seen other newspaper proprietors receive at their hands for publishing the oppressive conduct of landlords; but he resolved on justifying by evidence, in the hope that a public trial, at which such witnesses as the persecuted tenants of plaintiff would appear, would draw public attention to their unfortunate condition. He had chosen Patrick Ring and John Ryan, the worst-used of the tenants, and one or two others, as witnesses; but what was his dismay when he found Patrick Ring once more thrown into jail, as also the others, at the instance of the landlord, on the charge of attempting to shoot him!

"Thus, without his witnesses, the defendant, after incurring the expense of about L100 in preparing his defence, was glad to get out of the case in any shape. He made a public and most humble apology, paid all expenses, and the prosecution was dropped. As soon as this was effected, Patrick Ring, but for whose imprisonment on an accusation of murder the trial would have gone on, 'was again allowed to walk out of jail, without having undergone any examination—without having had any evidence produced against him.'"

The juries of the county Dublin are certainly the most independent, and least likely to be prejudiced in favour of a landlord, that can be found. They are in a great measure composed of wealthy merchants, who reside in the neighbourhood of the city; and every one knows that a judge's summons would have procured the attendance of Ring at the trial; but it was necessary to find an excuse for this abject apology.

We cannot, in the present instance, impute the conduct of this truth-telling authority to ignorance; we must attribute it to his wish to make the British public believe that all those civil bill processes were at the suit of landlords against tenants—to the desire or the necessity he felt himself under of sacrificing all principle to the objects for the accomplishment of which he was employed. He must know that nineteen-twentieths of those civil bills are actions for debts brought by shopkeepers against their customers, or by one peasant against another—for money lent, or for the price of provisions sold them: he must know (if he knows any thing) that perhaps not fifty, out of the whole 4318, are for rent; and that, where rent is at all sued for by process, it is only in cases where the landlord takes the tenant's I O U, in order to give him more time for what was long since due. The landlord can at any time distrain for his rent; what object, then, would he have in incurring expense, and encountering delay, to procure a decree, which, when obtained, would only restrict his former power? All this does he know; and yet he quotes the number of processes issued by the most litigious people on earth against each other, as a proof of the tyranny of the landlords, and as the fruitful source of poverty and crime.

We have to apologise for the length of our remarks on those two productions. The one contains, we doubt not, the sincere opinions of a well-meaning, but very silly gentleman; while the other bears upon its unprincipled statements the stamp of premeditated dishonesty. Yet it is upon authorities such as these that the Irish gentry are to be condemned, and their estates confiscated; upon authorities such as these that the interests of men, whose greatest crime is attachment to British connexion, are to be sacrificed to greedy agitators, and a ferocious and idle people. Sir Robert Peel may, perhaps, without danger, give an extension of the franchise—the corporations are all, with one solitary exception, (Belfast,) as revolutionary as they can be made; and the Roman Catholic bishops may not be able to obtain political ascendancy over any more counties than those already subject to their sway; but we would call on him to pause and consider well before he disgusts the best friends of England, by lending attention to the unfounded statements of revolutionary priests, promulgated by mercenary writers; or the legislative quackeries of a disappointed, dishonest, and despicable faction.


[29] Ireland—The Landlord and Tenant Question—Lord Normanby's Speech—Mr Wiggins's Book, "A Cry from Ireland."

[30] One would think there were no poor-houses.

[31] Scotland has been more favoured in this respect. Ample details on the point mentioned, and on every other relating to its physical, moral, and economical state, may be found in the New Statistical Account—a work which places the country under great obligations to the clergy of the Established Church, who have furnished the accounts of their parishes, and which display, in general, a range of intelligence in the highest degree creditable to their order.

[32] Taken from the last census. Average rent of land per acre[32] in each county of Ireland.

Ulster. Antrim L0 16 0 Armagh 0 11 8 Cavan 0 13 7-1/2 Donegal 0 6 0 Down 0 16 0 Fermanagh 0 13 7 Londonderry 0 12 2-1/2 Monaghan 0 13 3-1/2 Tyrone 0 14 6

Leinster. Carlow L0 15 0 Dublin 0 18 0 Kildare 0 13 0 Kilkenny 0 17 0 King's County 0 12 0 Longford 0 12 3 Louth 0 16 0 Meath 0 18 0 Queen's County 0 14 0 Westmeath 0 13 7 Wexford 0 14 0 Wicklow 0 12 0

Munster. Clare L0 11 0 Cork 0 13 7 Kerry 0 6 1 Limerick 0 18 8 Tipperary 0 17 8-1/2 Waterford 0 12 0

Connaught. Galway L0 12 1 Leitrim 0 10 7-1/2 Mayo 0 8 6 Roscommon 0 13 0 Sligo 0 10 8

[33] The plantation acre, containing more than 1:3:0 statute.

[34] In a letter, signed "an Irishman," published by the Times, the writer adduces as a proof of the extortion of Irish landlords, that he has known a tenant in the north, whose lease was about to expire, receive L270 for his interest in fourteen acres of land.

[35] We read in the Times a few days since, that the men employed in opening the navigation of the Shannon at Rooskey had struck for an advance in wages—they had 1s. a-day, and demanded 2s. Those who were willing to continue were forced by armed men to abandon their work, and threatening notices were served on the contractors; yet in this very neighbourhood it is stated in the poor-law report that able-bodied men were willing to work for 6d. a-day, but could not procure employment. It is always thus:—when there is no employment, it is an excuse for their idleness, when there is, they won't work but at the most extravagant wages. To show that 1s. a-day was fair wages, we shall give an account of the quantity of provisions which can be purchased at Rooskey for one shilling.

14 lbs. of potatoes, 0 1-1/2 2 do. oatmeal, 0 2 2 do. bacon, 0 7-1/2 3 quarts of milk, 0 1 ———- Total, 1 0

[36] Irish Landlords, Rents, and Tenures, &c. Published by Murray, Albemarle Street.

[37] Doctor M'Hale declared publicly, that, if it so pleased him, he would place two cow-boys in the representation of Mayo.

[38] At the trial of the men for the murder of Mr Brian the other day, at the Wexford assizes, the people cheered so loudly when the witnesses hesitated or doubted, that a woman, the principal evidence, declared "she would tell nothing more." The judge was obliged to order the court-house to be cleared, and the accused were acquitted.

[39] A landlord requires no such warrant—he can distrain without any authority.

[40] In case of replevin, the valuation of the stock or crop seized is left to the tenant himself, so that sometimes he may value stock worth 50s. at only 20s., and they must be restored to him, on giving security for what he sets them down as worth. The landlord cannot interfere.

[41] The law never allows the landlord more than the wages paid in the neighbourhood, in case he is obliged to employ men to save the crop.

[42] A man committed can only be discharged on bail, or by the bills being ignored by the grand jury.

* * * * *

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.


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