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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 367, May 1846
Author: Various
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As an instance of the extraordinary ignorance of the laws, in which the commissioners venture to propose amendments, and of the negligence with which the report is drawn up, we quote the following passage from the report:—"By the present practice, when a mesne lessee exercises his power of redeeming under an ejectment for rent, the landlord may be required to give up the land to him, without any occupiers upon it; and it is suggested that cases have occurred in which a mesne tenant has permitted, or even encouraged, a process of ejectment against himself, in order to throw upon the landlord the unpleasant task of removing a number of sub-tenants, so that he himself might, upon redeeming, obtain entire possession of the land. This requires alteration.

"The defendant, upon redeeming, is only entitled in justice to have the land restored to him in the same state as to occupiers in which it was when the ejectment was brought; and we recommend that the law should be amended in this respect. The possession of the under-tenants, or occupiers, who were upon the land when the process commenced, should, for this purpose, be treated as the possession of the lessee."

It is almost unnecessary to say, that the restitution of the interest of the mesne lessee by redemption, involves as a matter of course, as the law now stands, the restitution of all the minor interests derived under him—Who could have "suggested" such nonsense to the commissioners?—In like manner, the notices which they suggest in cases of ejectment and distress, are at this moment absolutely indispensable to render either proceedings valid.

Now, in this statement, the learned gentleman has not given even the particular year in which these evictions are said to have taken place; neither did he specify the period within which a third of the population of that county are said to have been displaced; while the land commissioners themselves admit, that the number of ejectment decrees obtained in all parts of Ireland, bear no proportion to the number of processes issued, and that those again are infinitely greater than the numbers which are executed. This Mr O'Connell well knows to be the case; because in a country where distress cannot be made available, the landlords have recourse to ejectment as the only means by which they can coerce their tenants into payment of the rent. All the assistant barristers in their evidence bear testimony to this fact, and to the comparatively few decrees under which possession is taken. Mr Tickell, one of those gentlemen, states that, according to the clerk of the peace's return made to him, the number of ejectments entered in the years 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, in his court, were 1753, and there were decrees or dismissals in 1210 of those cases. He is asked—"10. Have you any opportunity of knowing whether a considerable proportion of those cases in which decrees are so made are carried into effect?—"There is in the county of Armagh a very intelligent sub-sheriff, Mr McKinstry, and he informed his brother, the deputy-clerk of the peace, that the number of warrants signed by him as sub-sheriff in the last five years was, according to the best of his knowledge and computation, about seventy in each year; and that of these seventy, he thought not more then one-fourth was put in force; so as to cause a change of tenancy, certainly not more than one-third."

So that out of 1765 processes issued in one of the most populous counties within five years, only about 350 decrees were presented to the sheriff for signature; and that officer declared, he thought that not more than a fourth of the number (90) were put in execution—and this gives an annual average of about 23. But had the number of ejectments in Tipperary been as great as Mr O'Connell asserts, still the eviction of the tenantry would have been fully justified; for we have the evidence of Mr Sergeant Howley, the assistant barrister, to prove that no tenant was so proceeded against who did not owe an enormous arrear. This gentleman is asked—"6. In your experience, has it occurred to you to observe whether, in the majority of cases, more than a year's rent has been usually due, or just enough to found a suit?—My experience enables me to say, that more than a year's rent, and frequently three years' rent, is due before an ejectment is brought."

Mr Dillon O'Brien, a sessions attorney in that same county, and an out-and-out follower of Mr O'Connell, admits—"That the landlords have recourse to ejectment more as a means of getting the rent, than of evicting the tenantry." The Liberator's reference to Tipperary is an unfortunate one for his purposes; for not only have we it in our power to prove, by the most unimpeachable evidence, that comparatively few evictions or consolidations of farms have taken place there, but we can demonstrate most satisfactorily, that the tenantry in this bloodstained district hold on the most moderate terms as regards rent, in general by a lease, and that they are in the full enjoyment of "the tenant-right," the honourable gentleman's most favourite panacea.—Mr Thomas O'Brien, an extensive land-valuator, in a letter written to Mr Colles, the superintendent of Trinity College estates, (which was laid before the land commissioners,) writes—"I will say that Kerry tenants pay the highest rents I have met with in any part of Ireland, and Tipperary men the lowest."

Mr Griffith, the able engineer under whose superintendence the government valuation is being made, and who, as he states himself, has walked over nearly every part of Ireland, and has personal knowledge of almost every locality, is asked—"In the county of Tipperary, can you say whether the tenant-right prevails there?"—"The tenants generally hold under leases there; but the tenant-right does prevail to such an extent, that few are bold enough to take the land where a tenant has been dispossessed."

Mr Nicolas Maher, the Repeal member for the county, replies to the question—"Do you understand at all in Tipperary what is known in the north of Ireland as the tenant-right, by which a tenant, without a lease, expects a sum of money for giving up the possession of the land, either from the landlord if taking possession, or from another tenant to whom he may give up the farm?"—"That is expected in Tipperary. I have offered myself for fourteen Irish acres to a tenant-at-will who held at thirty shillings an acre; and if that land was to be let to-morrow, I would not charge more for it; so much so do I look on this land as fairly set, that last year and this year I gave this tenant fifteen per cent abatement upon his rent from the fall of agricultural produce, and conceived he had a right to it; and, though there is no lease, I offered him L200 for his interest, which he refused." Without one solitary exception, every witness examined in Tipperary, both at Roscrea and Nenagh, touching the point, by the Land Commissioners, bears testimony to its universal prevalence.

Mr O'Brien Dillon is asked—"73. Does the sale of the good-will of farms prevail much in the district?—Very much, I should say."

Mr Digan.—"39. Is the sale of the good-will of farms the custom of that district?—Yes, for small spots it is.

"40. Is it recognised by the landlord?—It is recognised by the agent. If there is a poor fellow who wishes to go to America, he gets L8 or L10 for his plot of ground, and he will let him go off if he gets a better tenant.

"41. Do they generally ask the agent's permission?—Sometimes, and sometimes not."

The Rev. William Minchin.—"73. Is the sale of the good-will of farms prevalent in the district, and recognised by the landlords?—Yes; it is quite recognised.

"74. Is the value of it increasing or diminishing?—I do not see any thing to make land decrease, though of course the purchase of the good-will will bear a proportion to the rent that the land bears.

"75. Suppose the landlord requires the land for himself, to add to his demesne, does he pay the usual price?—Yes, in general he does.

"76. Has there been any consolidation of farms?—No, not in the neighbourhood; nothing to any extent worth speaking of."

George Heenan, Esq., after stating the existence of the practice, is asked—"88. Does it take place in reference to lands held at will?—Yes; and for lands held at will the sum is altogether disproportioned to the apparent value of the interest given.

"89. Does a man purchase without knowing whether he will be recognised as the tenant?—Yes; I have known many instances of that.

"90. In case of a landlord taking land himself from a tenant, would he be expected to pay him for the possession of it?—Certainly, provided the rent of it was clear and the land was taken up, it would be expected he should pay him liberally for it;" and he further says, "in confirmation of the correctness of a former part of my evidence relating to the sale of the good-will of the land, I beg to produce a document which has recently come into my hands. The farm in question consists of fourteen acres Irish, which but three years ago was set by me to a tenant from year to year. The purchase to which the document refers, was effected without the consent of the proprietor, or of his agent. [The witness delivered in the following paper:—]

"Received from Michael Scully, L34 for all my land in Ballywilliam, containing fourteen acres, with all my wheat, dung, manure, &c.; and Michael Scully pledges himself to pay Ford Ross one half-year's rent of the said lands, now due—amount, L5:11:8. Given under our hands, at Ballywilliam, this 11th day of March 1843.

"L34.

his "JOHN X HORAN. mark.

her "CATHERINE X HORAN. mark.

"Present, PATRICK SCULLY."

"Received from Michael Scully, the sum of L10 sterling, being the consideration for one and one-half acre of the lands of Ballywilliam, for seven years, commencing 1st November last 1842, and ending 1st November 1849. Dated this 19th December 1842.

"L10.

his "JOHN X HORAN. mark.

her "CATHERINE X HORAN. mark.

"Present, PATRICK SCULLY."

Mr John Kennedy, who denies altogether the existence of any such system, admits—"That though the landlords never, in any instance, give remuneration for improvements, they always give money for subsistence and support;" and with regard to the incoming tenant he naively observes—"How they dispose of it is this: another tenant proposes to come and get it, and the other tenant is sure to be murdered if he does not give him something, and he gives him something; or, however long he has been out of possession, he will be either murdered or burnt, or his stock maimed, if he does not do something in that way."

Neither is the assertion that evictions of the tenantry, to any extent, have taken place, borne out by the evidence; and where such have occurred, it is admitted, or proved in the explanations of the accused, that non-payment of rent, and general misconduct, were the causes to which they might be attributed.

Mr Dennis Kennedy is asked—"56. Has there been any consolidation of farms in the district?—No, not in my district."

Mr Michael Digan—"46. Has there been any consolidation of farms in the district with which you are acquainted in the county of Tipperary?—No. In my immediate neighbourhood the cottier system of having five or six acres is more practised than in the county of Clare."

And where any instances have been adduced, on turning to the explanations we find they were fully merited; while many alluded to by the priests and agitators will give some idea of the lengths those persons go, and the distance of time they are compelled to travel back to support their assertions. One man, Mr John Moylan, refers to "exterminations" which occurred just thirty years ago "on the estate of Mr Kinahan;" and was replied to by that gentleman's son, who states "that his father paid the then tenants L10,000 for their interest."

All the witnesses bear testimony to the mild manner in which those removals, necessary for the good of all parties, have been effected.

Mr Edward Byrne is asked—"35. Does the landlord, in general, remove for any other reason than considering that the lands are too thickly populated?—I never heard of the landlords putting them out, except that the land was too much divided, or too much devoted to the support of those families, that nothing would be left to pay the rent."

And Mr John Meagher—"27. When there is a large number of tenants upon a townland, what do they do when the middleman's lease expires?—I never knew them to do any thing harsh to them; they let them pull on one with another, except where some of their lands are mixed with their own, and they get some of the land to themselves.

"28. Do they give the tenants any thing in that case?—Yes, they forgive them what is due; and I knew one landlord to give a man L24 for leaving four acres, and forgave him what was due, and he was tenant-at-will."

Mr O'Brien Dillon, who has been proved to be very inaccurate in his statements, and who most probably, if asked to name the instances, could not adduce one, is forced to admit the paucity of their numbers—"67. Have tenants who have made improvements been ejected in order to get in fresh tenants, or been charged a higher rent themselves?—I do not know of any having been ejected on that estate for that reason; but there are some few instances in which they have been so treated: I should say, not generally; very few instances indeed."

Now, touching the disputed point of want of tenant-right, and insecurity of tenure, and displacement of the tenantry, we have quoted only the evidence of small farmers and some few agents, with one exception Roman Catholics, and to a man devoted followers of Mr O'Connell; if they have not heard of those dispossessions, and prove on oath the existence of that which he denies, what value should we place upon his statements—"that the enormous extent of the evictions in Tipperary, and the want of security in possession, have been the active causes of the state of crime in that county?" We have the sworn testimony of reluctant witnesses against the honourable gentleman's whole assertions. What becomes, then, of the one hundred and fifty thousand "men in buckram?" Could a third of the population have been dispossessed unknown to their neighbours?

It is not only proved that the Tipperary men in general hold by lease; but that, in some instances, when leases are offered them, they refuse to accept them.

Mr Maher, M.P., (then agent for his relative Mr Valentine Maher,) states, "that some four years ago, his principal ordered him to grant leases to any one who wished for them; that he announced this to the tenantry, and that on an estate containing 19,000 acres only six or seven parties made application, and not one of these afterwards took them out." We could adduce other testimony. We have selected Mr Maher's, because he will not be suspected of any undue leaning against the people, and because his estate is admitted to be most reasonably let. It is further proved, and every man who has any knowledge of Ireland knows the fact, that the most comfortable and improving tenantry hold at will. Mr Guinness, the extensive agent, holding employments in twenty-seven counties, and himself a proprietor in Tipperary, confirms the fact of leases being generally granted in that county; and contrasts the state of the inhabitants with that of Wexford, one of the most improved districts in Ireland, where the land is much worse in quality, the rents much higher, and the tenantry peaceable and independent, and almost universally tenants-at-will. And Mr Kincaid, the head of one of the largest agency houses in the kingdom, says in his examination—"I may state generally, that I never knew a case of a tenant inclined to improve, who declined making such improvements for want of a lease." But if the causes to which Mr O'Connell assigns the state of the disturbed counties be untenable as regards Tipperary, they are still more so as regards the others. It is admitted by all the witnesses who have been examined before the land commission touching the condition of Clare, Limerick, and Roscommon, that the tenant-right or "good-will" is recognized in these districts; that the evictions of the tenantry, or consolidation of the farms, have not been carried to any extent; and that, when such have taken place, most liberal allowances were given by the landlords.—Our space will not permit us to give extracts. But as regards Leitrim, the county next in criminality to Tipperary, there is not a shadow of any such excuses for agrarian disturbance in that district. There have been neither evictions nor consolidation, even to the most trifling extent;[6] and yet in this county, in which there is nothing to qualify agrarian outrage, we find, according to Sir James Graham's statement, the number of crimes committed in 1844 to be 226, and in 1845, 922. Amongst those who have spoken to the condition of this county, and who reside in the most disturbed parts, is the Rev. George Geraty, parish priest, who is asked—"30. Has there been any considerable consolidation of farms in your neighbourhood?—No; the population is as dense as it was formerly: there may be a few isolated cases."

Mr G. H. Peyton.—"22. Has there been any consolidation of farms in that neighbourhood?—No, I have not known of any for some years past."

Major Jones.—"44. Has the consolidation of farms taken place to any extent in the district?—No; no man is ever ejected if he pays his rent. It does not signify who he is, or what he is."

Touching the tenant-right, which is admitted to exist by Mr Geraty, the priest, Mr Burchall Lindsay is asked—"49. Is the sale of the good-will of farms prevalent in the district, and to whom is the purchase-money paid?—It is; and the money is paid to the tenant."

Mr Little, in answer to the same question, says, "Yes." He is further asked—"42. How far is it recognised by the landlords?—The landlord merely consents to the party coming in: he does not interfere with the tenant disposing of his interest, if he gets a decent man and an honest man for a tenant, whose character is recommended. He has no objection to the tenant disposing of his farm to the best advantage."

If we test the amount of rent by making the usual addition of 25 per cent to the government valuation, it will appear that in this county the tenantry pay for good land not more than seven shillings the acre; and this certainly is not a price which should produce either poverty or outrage. But it may be said, perhaps, the landlords are non-resident and negligent: the people have no example set them; they have no knowledge of a proper system of cultivation; and hence the poverty which generates crime. It so happens, however, that there are not better or more painstaking landlords in England than are to be found in this very district, and in the adjoining and equally disturbed county of Cavan. The Lord Primate has a large estate in Leitrim, and in the most disorganized part, on which he has had a Scotch agriculturist for the last sixteen years, merely for the purpose of instructing his tenantry. His grace is a model in every position of life; but as a landlord he is most conspicuous. Mr Latouche has an immense tract of land. He, too, has a Scotch steward for the same purpose; and his brother, who is his agent and resides on the estate, was regularly qualified by an agricultural education. The Earl of Leitrim has a Scotch steward: so has Mr White, Mr Simpson, Mr Crofton, and a host of minor proprietors who reside in the neighbourhood; and it is an important fact, that for the last three years, during which crime has so awfully increased, a great additional source of employment has been given the people by the improvement of the navigation of the Shannon.

"The Times Commissioner" has fallen into a great error in attributing the disturbances in Leitrim to evictions and non-resident landlords. He asserts—"There are no resident landlords in the neighbourhood of Balnamory," where the direct contrary is the truth, all the proprietors to any considerable extent being resident Irish landlords. Again he writes—"Nearly the same thing may be said of the parish of Cloone, the headquarters of Molly Maguire. In the Appendix to the Report of the Land Commission, Part II., page 90, Henry Smith, of Kells, in this county, swears to ejectments served on twenty-eight families, consisting of one hundred and fifty. He swears to seven families being ejected there in 1843, and of sixty-four people being ejected out of Irishtown, who owed no rent and received no compensation." Now Kells, where those evictions were said to have taken place, is in the county Meath, about fifty Irish miles from Cloone, where the commissioner states they occurred. We have only to refer our readers to the evidence of Mr Sergeant, the agent of the Marquis of Headfort, to show how unfounded the charge was, that so many people were ejected even there. The evidence of this gentleman was before the commissioner, and he should have attended to it.

The Gerrard case, of which we heard so much, ought to be a caution to those who put faith in the statements of the Repeal press, or of the Irish agitators. Yet the explanation given by Mr Gerrard does not seem to satisfy the Times. That journal indignantly asks, "Why did he suffer beggars to be bred upon his estate?" How could he prevent it? "He remonstrated; but because the people held under a lease, (or a written agreement, which was of equal value,) he could do no more." But suppose he had power to prevent "this propagation of beggars," how could he exercise it in the present state of Ireland? The same system of abuse and execration would have met him at every step he took. If his tenants were tenants-at-will, with the utmost vigilance, squatters would most likely have been admitted on his land, and have been living under the same roof with the holder of the farm, long before he was able to discover it; and when he did, his only resource would have been to serve notice to quit, and eject. He must then put out all parties; and the cry of extermination would have been then raised as loudly as it is now, and the Punishment of Death would, if there were but an opportunity to execute it, as inevitably have followed. Having granted a lease, the only power Mr Gerrard could exercise he did. If Irish landowners give leases, they cannot prevent "the propagation of beggars;" and if they refuse to do so, for the very purpose of guarding against this evil, they are denounced as men who keep their tenantry in dread of being dispossessed, and who effectually prevent the improvement of the country, by not giving to the tillers of the soil security of tenure. To talk of clauses against subletting is sheer nonsense. How are such clauses to be enforced? The penalties can only be levied by distress. No man can make distress available for the recovery of rent, much less so for a penalty inflicted on an occupier, because he gave one-third of his farm to a son, another to a married daughter, and thus planted three families on that portion of his estate which the landlord designed for the comfortable support of one.

We are told those persons have been turned out to starve. They have the poor-house to go to, if they wish; but, if they had not this resource, their condition should not excite much sympathy. They had the landlord's property for four years, without paying any rent—they took all their crops away with them; and if they were so improvident as to spend all they made, they were entitled to but little of our commiseration. It so happens that Mr Gerrard is a very rich man, and can afford this loss; but hundreds of cases are there where poor men, with large families, and with heavy encumbrances put on their properties by their ancestors, are similarly treated. They are compelled, by the dishonesty of the tenantry, to sell the "homes of their fathers," and emigrate to foreign lands. But there is no expression of sympathy for them. No; "they belong to the upper classes;" "they can suffer nothing on such occasions." 'Tis only the people who can feel, "only the people who ought to be compassionated." Strange as it may appear to those who choose to indulge in remarks on subjects with which they are perfectly unacquainted, and who put forward their nostrums for diseases of which they do not understand the nature, not only is it proved, that generally, in Ireland, the tenantry without leases, and holding at fair rents, are in better circumstances than those occupying under old leases, and paying very low rents; but it is made manifest, by undoubted testimony, that the possession of a farm, at an under rent, and for a long tenure, almost universally leads to poverty and ruin; and any person who knows the Irish character can easily account for this seeming anomaly. The love of display and the spirit of ambition which pervade all classes in Ireland, leads every one to assume a station, and incur an expenditure, far beyond what his circumstances would entitle him to. The shopkeeper styles himself a merchant, and must have a car and a country-house; the man who has a long lease of fifty or sixty acres at an under rent, sets up at once for what is significantly termed a "half sir;" he will be quite above doing any thing for himself, and will keep two or three servant-maids, while he has four or five "young ladies" walking about doing nothing. The time which should be devoted to business, is by all classes consumed in pleasure or in politics; and the consequences are to be seen in the embarrassments of the gentry, the bankruptcy of the tradesmen, and the poverty of the people.

"I have found by experience," says Mr Wilson—a large proprietor and most painstaking landlord of the county Clare, who was examined before the commission—"that leases are positive bars to improvement, however low the rent; and I hand in several cases as proving my assertion." Amongst them was one statement furnished by Mr Fitzgerald, the agent of Mr Vandeleur, of the condition of the tenantry on a large farm of that gentleman's estate which had lately fallen out of lease. "This tract of land was divided into seven parts, six of which were originally let to persons who under-let at very considerable profit-rents to others; on those divisions the occupying tenantry were, in general, in comfortable circumstances." The seventh portion had been leased to persons in the rank of cotters or small farmers, "and their families are still in possession, all of them in a state of poverty, although there were only eight holdings on a hundred and seventeen plantation acres, and they paid but L27: 10s: 2 for that extent of land, which was valued under the poor-law valuation at L68, and in addition to which they had a considerable extent of mountain and bog." Mr Lambert, an extensive farmer in Mayo, declares—"I see among the poor people having land, that those who have leases are much less inclined to make improvements than those who have not." Mr Kelly of Galway, a large proprietor, is asked—"What effect has tenure at will upon the tenants, or the improvement of their farms?" and he answers—"I think it makes exactly this difference: The man who has a fixed tenure considers that he cannot be put out; he immediately mismanages the farm—he sublets, divides, and the whole thing is lost." Mr Fetherston of Westmeath states the particulars of a farm of which he holds a division at L2 an acre, and small tenants hold the other parts on lease at eighteen shillings an acre, in divisions of from ten to twelve acres, "and they are in want. Those men will work ten hours a-day for him at tenpence, yet they won't till their own lands; and when they do any thing, they never commence to work before nine o'clock in the morning." And he gives an instance of a labourer of his own to whom he gave two and a half acres of the same land, which was a perfect waste, at his own rent, (two pounds an acre;) and by his industry this man supports a large family on this small and dear spot, while those about him who have good-sized farms of better land, at less than half rent on lease, "are starving."

Mr Spottiswood, who holds many extensive agencies, including Lord Londonderry's and Sir Robert Bateson's, states that part of the properties with which he is connected have been leased in perpetuity in small quantities; and he adds, that such mode of letting "has not a good effect at all." He is asked—"Do you find that the tenants are less industrious?" "Yes, they are paying the present proprietor, in many instances, not more than two-and-sixpence or five shillings an acre; they are quite independent of their landlords, who have no control over them."—"How do you suppose that their poverty arose?" "I think it arose from the subdivision of the properties; and the parties feeling a sort of independence, they do not think it necessary to become industrious, depending upon their farms for their support, and paying these very small rents;" and Mr Fagoe says—"I must admit that there are tenants who hold old leases, whose farms are very badly cultivated."

We have now quoted authorities from all quarters of Ireland, to show that the want of tenure cannot be the cause of the poverty of the people, or the bad cultivation of the land; but that, in point of fact, it has directly the contrary effect. Almost the whole of Earl Fitzwilliam's tenantry hold at will; and Mr Furlong, the agent, swears that two-thirds of the Devon estate "is set from year to year;" if this be a bad system, why do those noblemen practise it?—if a good one, why condemn others for acting as they do themselves?

By the agitators, the deplorable state of the Irish people is, on all occasions, attributed to the want of security in possession, and to the exorbitance of the rents. We have already, we trust, disposed of the former, more particularly as regards the disturbed counties. We shall now apply ourselves to ascertain the truth of the latter assertion; and the evidence taken before Lord Devon's Committee, strange as it may appear from the nature of the report, proves to a demonstration, that in those parts of the country where the land is worst and highest rented, the people live in contentment and affluence; and that those parts in which the rents are lowest, and the soil richest, are stained with the commission of the most abominable atrocities; and yet, with those facts staring them in the face, we find the government ready to adopt the suggestions of men who live by levying tribute on the people whose wretchedness they affect to deplore, because the opinions of those persons happen to be backed by a report utterly at variance with the evidence on which it purports to be founded.

As if there must be blunders in every thing connected with Ireland, Mr Griffith, the government engineer, was sent forth to make his valuation, according to a scale of prices furnished him, of the principal agricultural productions of the country, from which two of the most important—namely, flax and wool—were altogether omitted; and by this means he found himself obliged to exclude from his consideration the staple crop of the country when he was valuing the land in the north, and the clip of the grazier when he was estimating the rich pastures of the west. "Previous to commencing the valuation of the counties of Derry and Antrim, in the year 1830," (says Mr Griffith in his examination,) "I ascertained that the general average prices for agricultural produce throughout the principal markets of Ireland, for the preceding five years, were one-eighth, or two-and-sixpence in the pound, higher than those contained in the Act; and, consequently, the amount of valuation, according to the Act prices, should be in each case one-eighth less than if the valuation were made according to the then prices." Now, we beg to impress upon the minds of our readers, that this valuation, by which the fairness of the rents in Ireland is to be tested, was made when the ascertained value of those productions on which it was to be based were 12-1/2 per cent above the prices according to which Mr Griffith was compelled by Act of Parliament to make it; and that the prices of butter, pigs, and cattle, are now, and have been, at least 20 per cent higher since 1830 than before that period; while corn has varied but little, if any thing, from the price it then bore: in short, that almost all the productions on which Mr Griffith's valuation is founded, are now at least 33 per cent higher than they were taken to be in the schedule by which he was guided. We must submit, then, that if the rents paid come within 30 per cent of the government valuation, the amount is less than the circumstances would warrant. And such is the view Mr Griffith himself has taken; for he says—"I have uniformly replied to applications from the guardians of Poor-law Unions, in different parts of the country, respecting the addition that should be made to the amount contained in the printed schedules of the general valuation, to bring it to a rent value, that if one-third be added, the result will give very nearly the full rent-value of the land under ordinary proprietors." But if, on the other hand, we ascertain that the actual rents paid assimilate in a great majority of instances to the government valuation, in those parts of the country where destitution and lawless violence prevail, we must acquit the landlords in those districts of inhumanity and extortion; and this, too, on proofs adduced by an individual whose competency and whose impartiality are alike unimpeachable. "In regard to the difference between the valuation of land adopted by me," (continues Mr Griffith,) "I have to observe, that our valuation is about twenty-five per cent under the full rent-value, but very near that of many of the principal landed proprietors in the country. * * * The foregoing observations will apply to all lands to the eastward of the Shannon; but within the last year, in comparing the valuation made in the county Roscommon with the average letting prices of land in that county, I find that our valuation is not more than 2s. 6d. in the pound, or 12-1/2 per cent, under the letting rents. This does not arise from any change in the relative scale of valuation, but is owing to the poverty of the people, and the injurious system which prevails of burning the upland soils for the purpose of raising crops without the aid of ordinary manure, or new lime, which is abundant in the country; hence the land, though intrinsically of equal value with similar land in the counties of Longford and Westmeath, on the east side of the Shannon, does not bring so high a rent, and yet the people, on an average, are not nearly so well off as those of Westmeath or Longford—their houses, as well as their food and clothing, being inferior. * * * * * On going into the west of Ireland, I found my valuation nearer to the rents than it was near the east coast. I consider that the circumstance arose from want of industry in the people, and their ignorance of the ordinary principles of agriculture, as practised in the districts to the eastward of the Shannon. For these reasons, the small farmers of Roscommon, Mayo, and Galway, do not, on an average, raise the same quantity of produce from land of similar quality and circumstances as do the farmers to the eastward; and hence the rents are necessarily lower, and at the same time the people are not so well off." And on being asked to account for the vast difference between the rents paid in the county Down and his valuation, in answer to the question—"You have stated that the rental in parts of Down is fifty per cent higher than your valuation: is it your opinion that rents in that county are high according to the ability of the people to pay them?" "I think the rentals of the county Down, in proportion to the industry of the people, are not higher than they are in other counties. The people are better off."

"So that the people in the county of Down, paying fifty per cent higher than your valuation, are able to pay that, and yet be comfortable?" "Certainly; they are amongst the most comfortable tenantry in Ireland."

Mr James Clapperton, a Scotchman, agriculturist to the Ballinasloe Farming Society, being asked—"What is the rent here compared with the rent in Berwickshire?" replies, "It is not one-third what some are there." "What would the lands you have described as let here for twenty-one shillings be let for?" "They would be considered cheap at four pounds the acre. The land that lets at one pound an acre here, would give three pounds an acre in the county of Antrim and the north of Ireland."

Mr Andrew Muir and Mr William Milne, Scotch farmers employed by Lord Erne in Fermanagh, after describing the bad cultivation, say:—"They think the land of the same quality in Scotland would fetch L4 the Irish acre." "You think the Scotch farmer could afford to pay L4 an acre, corresponding with this, under the Scotch system?"[7] "Yes, and if he had the advantage of the Scotch markets here."

We have thus proved, we trust, to the satisfaction of our readers, and solely by the evidence of impartial and most competent witnesses, that the exorbitance of the rent cannot possibly be the cause of Irish discontent, because, as we before stated, the most respectable and comfortable tenantry are to be found on the worst and highest-priced lands; and we shall conclude our remarks upon this subject by a quotation from "the Times commissioner" as to the quality of the soil thus moderately rented:—"In no part," says that gentleman, writing from Enniskillen, "have I seen the natural capabilities of the soil and climate surpass those of Ireland, and in no part have I seen those natural capabilities more neglected, more uncultivated, more wasted, than in Ireland. It is now the middle of the hay harvest in Ireland—the meadows, for the most part, are wholly unmanured, and yield simply a natural crop of grass. I speak with confidence when I say, that the quantity of hay cut appears to the eye to be, in proportion to the land, nearly double the amount which ordinary land in England well manured produces; and it is certainly one-fourth more than the best land in England yields; but this is the produce of the unassisted soil and climate. I have seen such crops of potatoes growing as I never saw before."

Security of tenure is amply attained in every part amongst the lower classes, and in their favour—where leases do not exist, the tenant-right, and the system of terror, protects the occupier; and this tenant-right, or "good-will," is admitted to exist in every part of the country—the only difference being found in the persons by whom it is paid, and the purposes to which it is appropriated. In the north, the incoming tenant invariably pays, and the arrears are deducted from the purchase-money, for the benefit of the landlord; while in the west and south it comes direct from the purse of the landlord himself, who never dreams of being allowed what is due him, and is swelled in amount by the conditions of the succeeding holder, who pays for liberty "to occupy and live." Mr O'Connell himself bears testimony to the fact; for although he on all other occasions absolutely denied the existence of any such compact, yet when writhing under the exposures of the "Times commissioner," he claimed merit for having "introduced and extended all over the south the benefit of the tenant-right."[8]

But if the northern tenantry can and do thrive under the double infliction of much higher rents than are paid in other provinces, and of a money outlay for merely getting into the possession of land which would purchase the fee-simple elsewhere, surely this fact furnishes the strongest argument against the truth of the assertion, that the misery and distress which we are told prevail in the west and south, may be attributed to the exactions of the owners of the soil.

Does not the condition of Mr O'Connell's own tenantry bear out our assertions, that indolence, inattention, and want of industry, are the real blights of Irish prosperity? They have no dread of being dispossessed or deprived of the benefit of their improvements; they don't, we are told, pay rack-rents; yet the security which he must feel upon living under the protection of "the Liberator" cannot induce Mr Sullivan, of whose cabin we have given the description, to remove the filth "which has percolated from the cess-pool before his door, and which is trodden into a glutinous substance by the feet and hooves of the semi-naked children and animals who occupy his floor;" nor "to devote so much of his unoccupied time as would be necessary to render waterproof his cabin, which was falling into pieces." Surely, if security of tenure and moderation of rent were alone necessary to ensure happiness, among the tenantry of Mr O'Connell, if any where, comfort and respectability ought to be visible; yet, if we are to credit "the Times commissioner," "on the estates of Daniel O'Connell are to be found the most wretched tenants that are to be seen in all Ireland."

Not only are the southern tenantry averse to taking out leases, as Mr Maher and others state, but they are unwilling to receive, at the hands of their landlords, those comforts of which gentlemen here so feelingly deplore the want; for when a proprietor attempts to give them domestic conveniences or suitable homesteads, he finds that, instead of conferring a favour, he inflicts what is considered a hardship. Mr Maher, M.P., (from whose evidence we have before quoted,) having had the covenants of a lease granted by the Grocers' Company read over to him, in which it is stipulated, "That the tenant shall have slates, tiles, bricks, timber, and lime, delivered free of expense, on condition that he makes use of such materials as are furnished him within a certain period, and under the advice of an appointed agent, and that fences, and quicks, and hay-seed, necessary to complete them, and drains, should be allowed for at a certain rate,"—is asked, "What is your opinion of such a clause as that applied to Tipperary? I apprehend that much in a clause of this kind could not be carried into effect in Tipperary."—"In what do you think it deficient?—what is there which would prevent its being carried into practice? The dispositions of the people do not lead them to look for the comfort which buildings of this kind would give."

"Do you know of any estates in Tipperary in which there are such covenants in leases?—No, I do not. I have heard from the agent of Baron Pennefather, with whom I am intimate, that he has succeeded in some measure in getting slated houses built by the tenants: he advanced the money to the tenants for the houses, charging as rent five per cent upon the money so expended in building." "That is in the case of a lease?—Yes."

"Can you state from your own knowledge, whether in those cases the tenants seem to feel the advantage of having money lent to them on those terms?—I am told that they feel it a hardship, that they look upon it as a hardship to pay this charge, and that they do it with great reluctance." "Does that arise from their inability to pay, or from not appreciating the advantages?—My own opinion is, that it arises not so much from their inability to pay, as their not appreciating the advantages."

"Are the farmers of a respectable class?—Yes, they are a very comfortable class of farmers. I have passed through the estate, and they appeared to me to be so."

"From your knowledge of the state of farming in Tipperary, do you conceive that the produce of the land might be considerably improved by a better system of farming?—I have no doubt of it."

"Would not a better system of farming in some degree be promoted by an improvement in the farm buildings as one means?—Yes, I think so; but I do not think that those men wish for it. In fact, they have not in reality a desire for it—even those that can afford it. I know farmers who could afford to build or make their houses comfortable, and they have no disposition to do it."

Mr Collis, the superintendent of the Trinity College estates, says, "When I spoke to them (the tenants) about improvements, they said as much as that they did not want any, if they would only let them remain as they were."

And Mr Walker, an extensive agent, says—"I have induced some of Mr Stafford O'Brien's tenantry to engage in raising green crops, but, when left to themselves, they have invariably gone back to their old system, even although satisfied that it was remunerating while they followed it, but it gave them too much trouble." Yet these are the people who are said to want employment while they refuse to cultivate their own farms—"are so loudly compassionated on account of the huts in which they live"—and who consider it a hardship "to be compelled to have better."

What an incomprehensible set of men are the Irish patriotic members! In the extracts which we have given from Lord Devon's Blue-Book, we have Mr Maher, one of the most respectable of them, swearing an oath that clauses in a lease, by means of which "all the materials for building, clearing, and fencing, are proposed to be given for nothing provided the tenantry only used them, could not be carried into effect in Tipperary because the dispositions of the people don't lead them to wish for the comforts which buildings of this kind would give." And we find the same gentleman one of the party of declaimers against the tyranny of Irish landlords, who state in the House of Commons that the peace of "Ireland can only be secured by giving the tenant 'contingent compensation,' for improvements which, he swears, they cannot be induced to make, even where the materials are furnished for nothing, and where the labour is immediately paid for."

The same man, who supports O'Connell in his assertions that exorbitant rents are the cause of Irish poverty, gave before the commissioners the following opinion under the obligation of an oath—"54. If the occupiers are not prosperous, do you attribute that more to the mismanagement of their farms, rather than to the rate of rents?—Yes, indeed I do; to their badly farming the land in many instances."

And it is undoubtedly true that it is not improvement in their condition, or their comforts, which the Irish tenantry desire, if those are to be acquired at the cost of labour and exertion; what they wish for are low rents, which they can easily discharge, without restricting their pleasures or their amusements; and the fact is, that from the exertions lately made by the landlords to better the condition of their estates, arises all the outcry which has been raised against them. Had the old system been persevered in, it would have been much more agreeable to the people. In their operations the proprietors were necessarily compelled to dispossess some, because the ground they had to dispose of could not possibly, if even given rent-free, support the numbers of inhabitants upon it; but this distressing task has been performed in almost all cases with the most extraordinary kindness; and we venture to assert, that in the whole of the evidence laid before Lord Devon's committee, five well substantiated instances cannot be adduced in the rural districts, in which rent-paying and well-conducted tenantry were evicted; and not one in which any tenant has been removed without receiving some compensation—while what is pompously denounced as consolidation of farms, amounts to having increased the holdings of the occupants, in many cases, from a rood to two acres, "and in others to the enormous extent of eight." But was not this change unavoidable? Could the old system have been longer persevered in? Let us see the opinion of the late Dr Doyle, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carlow, a man of extraordinary talents, and perfect knowledge of the situation of Ireland. Speaking of the necessity of preventing subdivision, and of increasing the holdings to such a size as would afford employment and adequate support to the occupiers, Dr Doyle says—"Had the evil gone much further, the misery would of necessity have increased. It was, indeed, essentially necessary to the good of the country that the system should be corrected, and every wise man applauds those measures which were taken for the correction of it."

As regards the humanity of the affair, sure we are that it is more to the interest of the dispossessed to be afforded the means of going to countries where land is plenty, and labour well remunerated, than to be allowed to remain at home in squalid misery and idleness. Advantage was taken of the dispossession of the people under any circumstances by the agitators—it was found to be a good subject by means of which the passions of the sufferers could be excited; and they have made a handsome harvest of it.

But it is not enough for our purpose to show that the tenantry are averse to have improvements thrust upon them—it is necessary that we should exhibit their conduct towards those who have endeavoured to improve their condition, or to set them examples by following which they would be sure to profit; and above all we wish to place before the public, in its true light, the behaviour of the labouring classes which has called forth so fully the approbation of the Devon Commissioners, and to prove that it is principally the misconduct of those very men which tends to their own disadvantage, and to the ruin of their country; and again we have recourse to the Blue-Book.

Mr Quin, whose good conduct as a landlord was borne testimony to by his neighbours, and approved of after a public investigation by Lord Ebrington, wished to occupy some of his own lands to build a mansion, and give employment to the people; he determined not to turn off a single man, and this he told them personally. To provide for those he must dispossess of their present holdings, he purchased the good-will of another part of his own property, sold by the executors of a deceased tenant, where he purposed to locate them, and there he sent his steward (Mr Powell) down to commence improvements. The wretched man was murdered in the arms of his daughter, and the first who struck him was a monster he was forbidden to employ, but to whom he had given work from compassion. "I saw the man," said he to his master in explanation of his conduct, "living in such a wretched hovel; I had pity on him, and could not help employing him." An anonymous letter, written to the unhappy victim previous to his murder, and warning him of his fate, is characteristic of the cool barbarity with which those "patient people" undertake a murder—of the sordid calculations which retard or accelerate its commission—and of the gratitude which they evince to those who, following the recommendation of the Commissioners, "endeavour to introduce an improved system of agriculture, and thereby extend the employment of the agricultural population:"—

"Honoured Sir,—I take the liberty on myself in sending you these few lines, informing your honour that you and Mr Quin, Esq., is to be shot the first opportunity, and if you had paid the men that worked at the drain when it was done, you were killed long ago. Now they have sat on it, there are some of them that would wish to have it done at where you live at present.... They have made a collection, and the man that kills you will go to America... They have heard that you are one of the skilfullest men in Ireland for planting and making drains; and they are saying that if they had you killed, he (Mr Quin) would never come to the country. If you don't take my advice, your daughter will cry salt tears. And be God you will be killed."

Mr Armstrong, the history of whose persecutions is well worth the trouble of reading, says—"In the same summer I was fallowing and preparing at considerable expense a field for wheat. Every one exclaimed at the folly of sowing wheat in that country; but finding that this would not dissuade me from my plan, one of the most respectable men in the neighbourhood told me, that 'the country' thought it a bad example to bring in new plans, and that he had himself 'declined to sow wheat, rather than get the ill-will of the people.' I said I really could not see 'what offence this could give to any man.' 'Oh,' said he, 'you know if the landlords saw the ground producing wheat and good crops, they would raise the rent.' Determined, however, that nothing less than a failure after trial should convince me of 'the folly of sowing wheat,' I ventured to do so, and it turned out very fine, producing thirteen barrels to the acre; but I was obliged to keep a guard watching for two months, as a man who lived close to the spot told me, that it would 'be mowed down in the shot-blade; bekase the country did not like whate there at all at all.'"

Many similar instances could we adduce from the same source, did our limits permit; but we have only to refer to what is daily occurring in Ireland, to show the utter impossibility of the gentry making any efforts to improve their own estates, or the condition of the tenantry, under existing circumstances. Men here talk flippantly of the evils of absenteeism, while they are the very first to object to measures which would render it possible for landlords to reside at home. A coercion act is opposed, while Sir Francis Hopkins, a resident and admirable landlord, is fired at at his own hall door, and for what? because, six years ago, he dispossessed an insolvent tenant, "forgiving his arrears, and paying him his own valuation for his interest;" while the life of Sir David Roche is attempted, because "he refused to assist a tenant to turn out his brother's widow while her husband lay on his bed of death, hardly allowing the body to get cold, when he insisted that he should help him to add the widow's holding to his own."[9]

Mr Wilson of Clare, a gentleman whose exertions to improve the condition of his tenantry are fully detailed in the Devon Blue-Book; who allowed the entire cost for subsoiling and fencing; who provided all the materials for his tenants' houses, requiring only that they should perform the labour, for which they were subsequently to be allowed on their rents; who founded an agricultural school and benevolent fund, and visited and inspected the improvements which he paid for; while, we say, Mr Wilson, (a Roman Catholic, too,) who performed all his duties as well as we could wish them performed, is threatened with death, and obliged to desert his property, and fly his country, and for what? why, simply because he dared, in the distribution of a farm containing one hundred and forty acres, to reserve four for the use of a faithful servant, whose honesty and attachment he wished to reward; and because, as we are told by the member for Ennis, "he was fond of a draining and subsoiling system, which he wished to have practised, but which his tenants did not like." "The fact was," (the candid, if not discreet, Mr Bridgeman is reported to have said,) "the people who sent those notices had no intention to assassinate Mr Wilson at all—they sent the notices, thinking to frighten him out of his subsoiling." Now, we have the admission of this favourite "Joint off the Tail," that the people are not anxious for those improvements, which we are told here they so much long for; that they do not wish to improve the condition of their land or their homesteads, even when they are paid for doing so; and that the recompense which those men meet with who endeavour to induce them to be industrious, by paying them for doing their own business, and who seek to procure them employment at home, instead of sending them to England or Scotland to seek it, is notice of assassination to frighten them from giving employment, and, no doubt, death if they persevere. But is Mr Bridgeman reported to have expressed any condemnation of the conduct of those men?—Not a bit of it; and yet he is one of the set of brawlers against the evils of absenteeism, one of the persons who attribute the poverty of the peasantry to the neglect of their landlords, and one of those who will strenuously oppose the enactment of laws which would give security to the gentry and protection to the farmer, and, by restraining the violence of the labouring classes, lead to the pacification and prosperity of the country. But such a condition of things is just what Mr Bridgeman, and those like him, wish to avoid. In a wholesome state of society, men of his station in life could never have been pitchforked into Parliament. If agitation ceased they must again betake themselves to the tillage of their farms, according to ministerial doctrine, and be compelled to become industrious when they ceased to be PROTECTED.

Mr Clarke is shot in Tipperary, because he came to reside on his land; and his murder was plotted and executed, not because he did harm or injustice to any one, but because he ventured to do what Lord Grey and others, who "pick their teeth" in safety here, insist that Irish gentlemen should do—he dared to live on his own land. The approver—in whose house the assassination was planned, and in which the assassins resided while waiting an opportunity to destroy their victim—declared, in his examination on their trial, "that he was a good friend to him," and that he never knew him to distrain any man for rent, and yet he gave him no notice; and the intended murder was openly spoken of before a numerous family of children—ay, girls of fifteen years of age were privy to it; and yet no compunctious feelings touched their hearts. One of them, in giving her testimony, admitted that she knew what the men meant to do when they were leaving the house; and that, when she heard the shot, she was convinced that her landlord had been murdered.

In passing sentence on two of the persons convicted of this dreadful outrage at Nenagh, on the 3d, Judge Ball said—"With regard to you, Patrick Rice, I have searched in vain through the evidence for something that might suggest a motive for joining in the conspiracy. There was no evidence that you had any dealing or transaction with the unfortunate murdered man. There was no connexion between you in any way, and not the slightest ground for resentment or provocation that could be traced. As for you, Hayes, (the other prisoner,) your case is much the same. You were a tenant of Mr Clarke's; there is evidence that he expressed some wish that you or your mother should give up a house; and he offered you every facility to build a house elsewhere, and to supply you with materials, and the means of removing them, with his own horses and drags. It has been said that this desire of his might have suggested a motive for the murder; but when the evidence comes to be given, I find that you and your mother, instead of expressing displeasure, expressed a readiness to give up the house after harvest." Here is a man murdered for merely proposing change of locality, which must be accompanied, as a matter of course, by better accommodation. This is his only crime, and yet it is sufficient to secure his destruction. What a grateful people are the Irish!—how patiently they endure wrong!—and what a picture of their morality do the details of this horrid assassination afford!

But it is not alone the landlords who become obnoxious to the peasantry, when they seek to do them good by giving them profitable employment. The same hostility is extended to others who attempt the same object, if they endeavour to get "a fair day's work for a fair day's wages." Mr M'Donald, the superintendent of the Killaloe Slate Quarries, was shot at and desperately wounded in the presence of three men, who refused to arrest the assassin, for no other reason than because he endeavoured to have justice done his employers; and the following extract from the report of the Irish Mining Company of Ireland, contains the particulars of as wanton an outrage as can well be conceived:—

"At Earlshill Colliery, possession of which was recovered on 4th of April last, considerable progress had been made in sinking two engine-pits, one of which was sunk forty-four yards, the other twenty-six yards, on the 20th October, when the steward in charge of the works, Martin Morris, was shot at and severely wounded on his return from the colliery to his house; and although large rewards have been offered for information that might lead to the conviction of the authors and perpetrators of the outrage, they have not been made amenable to justice. And your board having reason to believe that the outrage was contemplated with a view to impede free action by your agents in the proper management of the works, and having been satisfied, on minute inquiry, that there was no cause of complaint on the part of the men employed against the steward or manager of the works; and some of the men employed on contract, subsequent to the outrage committed on Martin Morris, having received threatening notices to resign their contracts on pain of death, your board deemed it advisable, means not having been yet devised for affording due protection to the men employed, to order that the works should be suspended on the 20th December; and the works have been suspended accordingly. The working of South Balinaslick Colliery has been suspended for the same reason—Martin Morris having had charge of the underground works in both collieries. If your board and its agents in the management of those works had neglected the moral duties of such an establishment as yours in this important district, some excuse might be offered by the Guild for the outrage committed—the first, however, your board has had to complain of during twenty years that your works have been in operation; but the following facts prove that the company's duties have been duly and literally attended to. The men are promptly paid weekly—contractors as well as daily labourers. The contractors at Earlshill, at the period in which the outrage was committed, earned on an average 2s. 6d. per day, some so much as 3s. The average rate earned at the entire of the company's works at the same period was 2s. 1d. per day, whilst the customary rate of wages paid to farm labourers in the district is but from 8d. to 10d. per day. When circumstances admitted, houses of a better description than usual in the district have been erected for the men; schools have been provided at the principal works, and several of the children and adults educated. They are now employed as stewards and clerks. When it has been necessary to levy fines for inattention, the amount has been uniformly applied, at this season of the year, in providing comforts for the deserving men's families. In times of scarcity, good and cheap food has been provided, and distributed at low prices; and at all times the men and their families have the advantage of good medical aid when required. Under those circumstances your board feel confident that the perpetrators of the outrage on Martin Morris—a man deservedly raised from the ranks to a place of trust in his native village—will not be permitted to remain unpunished; and that the projected extension of the works will soon be resumed, with advantage to the well-disposed workmen, and through them to the company and the country."

Neither is this a solitary instance. The contractors on the Shannon improvements and many of the railroads, where the labourers earned 9s. a-week, were compelled to suspend their operations because those turbulent people turned out for wages so exorbitant that no contractor could afford to pay them; and not only stopped working themselves, but forced those who were anxious to earn a livelihood to give up also. We are told that the Irish peasantry wish for employment on any terms; yet, when it is offered them at their very doors, and when they can earn wages such as never before were paid them, they shoot the stewards, and compel the abandonment of the undertakings.

Mr Collis, a gentleman who entertains very strong opinions in favour of the peasantry, is obliged to admit, in his evidence before Lord Devon's Committee, what is borne testimony to by many others, the existence of a reign of terror exercised by the labourers over their employers. Alluding to a visit which he paid to the College estates, and an interview he had with the people, he says—"I must also mention that I heard that day from respectable occupying tenants, one in particular in the lower class of life, and also from his wife when he was absent, that she was dread of her life; that her husband was in distress, and set part of his farm, and that he could not with safety take it into his hands again; that the labourers he employed could not be controlled—they would work as they pleased; and if a new man was engaged, he might do well at first, but would soon fall into their ways; and that if he, or the farmers generally, were to dismiss the parties, they would be revenged in some way or other."

To show the state of intimacy which subsists between this gentleman and the peasantry, and how implicitly they confide their feelings and intentions to him, and how competent he must be to speak to both, and how unlikely to misrepresent them, we copy the following passage, which to our countrymen may exhibit a rather extraordinary state of society. Mr Collis and the neighbours had been discussing the conduct of a certain gentleman, and the question is put—"Did they say any thing about the landlord?" "They did; from the statements made I said something about his being shot. They said he had been fired at three times; and when I said I thought Tipperary boys were better marksmen, some person in the crowd said, 'he would get it yet.'" We should be glad to know if this gentleman did afterwards "get it," or if Mr Collis thought it necessary to communicate his own charitable suggestion, or the benevolent intentions of his tenantry. How coolly they answer and talk over those little matters in "virtuous and religious Ireland!" All the witnesses who have spoken to the point bear proof to the idleness of the labourers, and their desire to work as little as they can. Even Mr Balfe, the chairman of O'Connell's "Grievance Committee," acknowledges "that they expect to give labour for it (con-acre rent), and they do not think they are bound to work well when that labour goes to pay for their potato rent." While Mr Beere, after stating that poverty is not the cause of crime in Tipperary, as respectable persons are engaged in it, answers to the question—"What do you think is the reason for those farmers having to do with every thing that is bad?" "I think that many of them are driven to that line of conduct in order to protect their property."—"Do you think that those farmers you speak of, holding fifty or sixty acres, are compelled to encourage those proceedings for fear of damage to their own property?" "I do, positively."—"Does that lead them to give protection frequently to known offenders?" "Yes, it does; they dare not refuse them."—"By what class of persons are those outrages generally committed?" "They are generally committed by the servant boys." And the Irish papers present every day repeated instances of the same spirit:—

"On Tuesday evening last, a large armed party came to the house of a farmer named Connolly on the lands of Ballinderry, county Westmeath, within a mile of the town of Moats, and demanded why he had turned away two servant boys he had, and directed him to send off the two boys he had since. They then ordered the two men in his employment to be off, or it would be worse for them—an order, such is the state of the country, which was promptly obeyed."

"On Wednesday night last, a threatening notice was posted on the gate of a respectable farmer named Egan, ordering him at once to dismiss two Connaught men he had employed, and to take back his former labourers, whom he was obliged to dismiss for idleness."

"On the morning of the 16th, an armed party attacked the house of Pat Leray, of Stratlanstoun, and beat Leray and his son in a severe manner. The only reason assigned for this is, that Leray went to plough some land for his landlord, Captain Robinson of Rossmead."

"The same morning, the house of Pat Woods was attacked by the same party, and for the same cause of offence. Woods and his mother were severely beaten."

* * * * *

Now, those outrages have been perpetrated, not in any of the five condemned counties, but in Westmeath, where almost every proprietor is resident. What a state of society do they exhibit? Ruffians assailing men because they dared to change their servants, and beating old women solely because their sons were on good terms with their landlords. And those daring violations of the law were enacted in the open day by a party of thirty men, well armed with both pistols and bludgeons. A tithe of the outrages committed in Ireland are not only never heard of in this country, but never even reported to the police. Such is the power of those banded assassins—such the terror which they inspire—that their victims submit to their decrees in silence rather than bring further misfortunes upon their families. Sir James Graham, in his statement, mentioned the case of a man dying of his wounds, who refused to identify his murderers out of regard for the safety of his relatives and friends. A person of the name of Gleeson, who came into his land twenty years ago, was dreadfully beaten, and ordered to give up his farm; and, although five of his sons were present, not one of them informed the police. "Had they done so," says Sir James, "there is but little doubt the perpetrators would have been arrested. I have heard it said, and I do believe," (continued the most moderate of exponents,) "that, in the five counties, the great body of the people are tainted. I believe the bands are small, though perfectly organized; but the number of persons comprising these lawless bands is small compared with the great body of the people. But still evidence cannot be obtained, and the law is by reason of this inoperative. And if these small bands prevent the exercise of the law, these outrages remaining unchecked, the bulk of the population will not heed the law." And whose fault is it that those counties are tainted, and that the law in Ireland has ceased to be respected? Why, chiefly the fault of the government, of which the right honourable gentleman is so prominent a member. Had they acted as they should have done when they were placed in power, the state of that wretched country would be now widely different from what it is. Lord Normanby's jail deliveries, and the arrangements of his law-officers in regard to the formation of the juries, laid the foundation of the system of terror. Convicted malefactors were enlarged by "the gracious Viceroy," and the guilty received effectual protection from their accomplices in crime, who were admitted to the jury-box by his patriotic officials—the laws were rendered inoperative, and combination spread, and outrages multiplied. When the Conservative government were placed in power, the well-disposed expected that crime would have received a check; and the turbulent and seditious were prepared to submit to the blow, had it been immediately and fearlessly dealt them; but the opportunity was allowed to pass. The disaffected recovered from their temporary panic—atrocities became again the order of the day, and the assailed submitted in silence, because they saw no hope of obtaining redress. The Ministers permitted monster processions, after they had suppressed monster meetings. The friends of order and of the British constitution were disheartened and discountenanced; and, as a necessary consequence, the opinions of the agitators gained ground. Their organization became complete, and their power irresistible.

The uncalled-for contest in which the Peel administration have chosen to engage with the agricultural interest of England, has added to the mischief. Their unexampled political tergiversation has deprived them of the support of almost all their former adherents; and now, when they see the evil consequences of the vacillating policy which they have pursued with regard to Ireland, and are desirous of repressing the enormities which they have permitted to accumulate around them, their mouthpiece is obliged to recount a mass of horrors sufficient to curdle the blood of the most unfeeling, without daring to give utterance to one burst of honest indignation, lest by doing so he should deprive his government of the only assistance by means of which they can hope to accomplish their free-trade projects; and with a full knowledge that neither life nor property are secure in Ireland, they are compelled to succumb to the threats of their temporary allies, and virtually to abandon even the emasculated measure which they dared to introduce, by consenting to postponements which must deprive it of all moral weight, and still further encourage vexatious opposition. But can the ministers suppose that the Irish liberals support them for any other purpose than that of attaining their own ends? Whatever may be their ultimate effects upon the condition of this country, it is clear that the repeal of the corn-laws, and the alterations in the tariff, must be most hurtful to Ireland.

No one can entertain a doubt but that pork will be raised, and bacon cured, to such an extent in America, as to deprive the Irish cotter of the assistance he has heretofore derived from his pig, and that foreign butter will supplant his in the English market: and that, in consequence, Irish lands must greatly fall in value, unless they be applied to the rearing and fattening of cattle; and such being the case, what a prospect have both the Irish gentry and the Irish people before them,—ruin, if the small farmers are allowed to continue in occupation; and desolation and insurrection if they be removed. The government express an anxiety to secure the employment of the people on the reclamation of waste lands, and they propose to advance the money to enable the proprietors to pay them; but, at the same moment, by removing protection, they render it certain that such proceedings must be attended with a total loss. Whatever may be said by theorists, the profit to be derived from reclamation of waste lands in Ireland is at least but problematical. The repeal of the corn-laws must render any such attempt ruinous; and, as if it were not enough to expose the Irish farmer to foreign competition, the ministry are now trying, and "they hope with success," to destroy the home market; by substituting Indian corn, which can never be raised in the country, in place of oats and potatoes, which have hitherto constituted the food of the people. Now, putting out of consideration the interest of the gentry, what, we may ask, is to become of the Irish farmer and of the Irish labourer, if the crops which yield profit to the one, and employment to the other, were to be superseded by a species of grain which their climate cannot produce.

The Irish Radicals are quite aware of the misfortunes which the ministerial measures will inflict upon their country; yet they urge the government to their adoption, in the hope of being able to profit by means of the discontent and ruin which they must effect.

But if we are surprised at the conduct of the government in complacently witnessing, for four years, the existence of a state of things in a portion of the United Kingdom itself, which was a "serious disgrace to the age, and to the government, and the country in which we live," without endeavouring, by the enactment of more stringent laws, to correct it, the evasions, by means of which they now seek to palliate their neglect, and the strange want of perspicacity which they display in not being able to discover the real source of mischief, or their timidity in not daring to denounce it, must naturally excite our astonishment. Let any man read the reported speech of the Home Secretary, and from it he would never be able to discover that there existed at this moment, in that portion of the empire, so disgraced by crime and distracted by dissensions, an Association whose whole occupation is to disseminate falsehood and preach sedition—an organized band of men who levy tribute on their dupes, and who, in return for their pence, administer political poison to the minds of their victims—a political body, whose interest it is that acrimony, and ill-will, and civil strife, should prevail; because in the storm of passions which they evoke, they reap the harvest of pelf on which they live—whose acts have been pronounced by the tribunals of their country to be illegal, and whose leaders have been denounced by this individual minister as "convicted conspirators"—an Association whose doctrines, preached by a political priesthood and enforced by a sanguinary mob, have rendered life and property insecure, and the quiet existence of independence and industry impossible.

The ministry admitted the extent of this evil, when they prosecuted "the political martyrs;" yet now, when the power of the Conciliation Hall conspirators is more dangerous, because more time has been given them to consolidate their strength—in laying before Parliament the condition of Ireland, and in referring to the causes by which it has been produced, her Majesty's servants affect an utter ignorance of the existence of a body which they heretofore thought it necessary to arraign, and by their silence tacitly exculpate from all blame those men at whose doors they formerly, and with justice, laid all the blood which has been shed, and all the crime which has been committed in Ireland.

See the quibbles by which the Home Secretary seeks to make the coercion measure which he advocates a sort of collateral support to the corn-law question, which he desires to pass:—"Now, sir, in reference to this measure which I am about to propose, painful as it is, and unconstitutional as I admit it to be, I must say that I, for one, foreseeing some time ago that the necessity for some such measure would shortly arrive, felt that I could not reconcile it to my conscience and sense of duty to be a party to it, when, at the same time, with the great increase of crime, I saw the extreme physical distress of the people of Ireland, arising from a deficiency of that which they had been accustomed to make their principal food. I felt, I say, that it was of vital importance that provision should first be made, by an effort on the part of the government, to relieve the physical wants of the people before this measure should be brought forward; and I resolved that I could not be a party to the measure unless I had the sanction of my colleagues to a bill which would have the effect of opening the corn trade, and placing articles of the first necessity within the reach of the people of Ireland." But this cannot avail the right honourable gentleman; for his own returns show that the amount of crime was infinitely greater up to the month of August 1845, when provisions were most abundant, and the prospects of the new harvest most cheering, than now, when it suits his convenience to notice its existence, or to sustain the potato panic. "When the greatest increase of crime existed," he could not possibly have anticipated "the extreme physical distress of the people," because no such distress was then heard of. But because his object was to make the suppression of crime auxiliary to other measures of the government, he takes no step to accomplish it until he comes backed by the exaggerations of political knaves, and the reports of philosophical quacks, to prove his case, in order that the humanity of his auditory may be excited; and that, before he is called upon to coerce, he may be permitted to repeal the corn-laws, on the pretence of relieving "the physical wants of the people."

We are far from denying that a great loss has been sustained in the potato crop; but that loss does not in reality affect the food of the people so much as would appear at first sight; for the cattle and pigs which used to get sound potatoes in other years, were exclusively fed on diseased ones in this: neither has the rot been attended with pecuniary loss to any considerable extent; for the diseased part being removed, the remainder was as fit to use as the soundest potato; and more pigs were reared and fatted than usual on the rotted portions, and they never fatted better or bore a higher price. But, (and this fact has been studiously suppressed by Sir Robert Peel,) even admitting that the loss has been great, there could be no famine. The crop of oats exceeded by a third any crop known in the memory of man, and the price of oats in October last exceeded the average price at that season for many years past by nearly one-half. Consequently rather more than half the quantity which the tenantry required to sell in other years to make up a given sum, answered the same purpose on this; and even such of the tenantry as paid their rents had an unusual quantity left after disposing of what enabled them to meet their engagements; and this has been converted into meal and stored in their houses, or remains in stack in their haggards. Now, oatmeal always constitutes a principal ingredient in the food of every Irish peasant from this season forward; and yet the ministers never once alluded to the great quantity of oats which they must know to be in the country, nor to the fact that there has been, as the season advanced, a steady and progressive decline in its price. In the Dublin market, on the 18th November 1845, oats brought from fourteen to sixteen and sixpence the barrel; on the 28th of March 1846, it sold from twelve to fifteen shillings; while at the same period in the last year, when no famine was anticipated, it fetched twelve shillings; and there can be no doubt but it will experience a still further fall as the season advances, for potatoes now are, on the whole, lower than they were a month ago; and the holders of meal will soon begin to perceive that they cannot realize the prices which the exaggerations of the government led them to expect, and they will supply the markets more freely.

It is extraordinary to see how people here can be humbugged. Mr O'Connell, some time since, produced in the House a return from a priest, which professed to give the state of his parishioners, as regarded the amount of food each family possessed. In this document it was stated, (and the announcement was received with loud cries of "hear, hear,") that a certain number of families had not a week's provisions; and no doubt this was true; and the same reverend gentleman, or any other in any part of Ireland, might make just the same report at the same period in any year, even when potatoes sold for eightpence the cwt.:—All the class of small cotters have generally used the produce of their con-acres at this season, and they commence to buy—the work which they always have in abundance in the spring enabling them to pay. They purchase weekly; and the fact that a certain number of them had not a week's provisions, at the time this return was made, in their possession, no more implies the presence of famine in that particular locality, than the fact, that the labourers in London have generally no greater supply proves the existence of a scarcity in the metropolis. Both parties purchase weekly, and consequently have never more than a week's provisions by them.

No doubt, there is a deficiency of provisions in particular neighbourhoods; but, take the kingdom all over, there is a sufficiency; and if the government had not, for their own purposes, magnified the danger, the pressure on the people would now be less than it is.

We express surprise that the assertions of Mr O'Connell and the agitators continue to be credited by the people, although they have been a thousand times rejected and belied; but her Majesty's ministers exhibit a still greater extent of gullibility, if they really, as they affect to do, believe in the statements made by the Radical members and their organs of the press, after the repeated instances in which those statements have been proved to be erroneous. On the 20th November, the Mansion-house Committee proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the British empire, and in the presence of an all-seeing Providence, "That in Ireland famine of a most hideous description must be immediate and pressing, and pestilence of the most frightfull kind, and not remote, unless immediately prevented." And on the 17th of December, Mr O'Connell announced, that "Some say the crop will last till April. Even those most sanguine admit that we will have a famine in April—others say the crop will last till March—others that it will not last beyond February—others that a famine will come on before the month of January is over—for my own part, I believe the last;" yet, here we are, thanks to a beneficent Providence, now approaching the 1st of May, neither suffering from famine nor from pestilence, with almost all the crops sown, and with well-supplied and steadily-falling markets; and yet the Premier eagerly grasps at any new exaggeration of those men, for the purpose of supporting his own overdrawn pictures of fresh distress.

But there is, in reality, neither that distress nor that scarcity in Ireland which we are taught to believe exist there. The people are fond of coarse food, which we think unfit for men, but they prefer it—witness the various insinuations of the paupers against the use of Indian corn flour.

That the Irish consider the constant use of "bread and meat" as an infliction, is proved by a rather ludicrous account given of their feelings on this head in his evidence before Lord Devon's Committee, by Mr Thomas Glennon, No. 418, part second. After telling the Commissioners that many persons had emigrated from his neighbourhood to South America, "that they had succeeded there, and sent large remittances to their friends through his hands," he is asked—"Have they sent any statement how the climate agrees with them?" "It agrees very well with them, and the only difficulty they find is, that they have not potatoes to eat; the bread and meat, and constant eating, is what disagrees with them." Now, surely, if we ought to consult the political prejudices of the Irish people when legislating for them, as the Premier says we should do, we ought not altogether to disregard their culinary tastes, or force them to eat a diet which they dislike, only because we prize it ourselves.

The extraordinary blunders which some of those enthusiastic men who undertake to legislate on Irish subjects so frequently commit, would excite feelings of ridicule, if the observations in which they see fit to indulge were not calculated to produce mischief in quarters where their insignificance is not known, and where their flippant fallacies may be mistaken for facts. Thus, Mr Poulett Scrope exclaims,—"What! are 130 work-houses, capable of containing 100,000 people, to be considered sufficient to supply accommodation for 2,800,000 destitute paupers?" If the honourable gentleman took the trouble of consulting documentary evidence, he would have found that they were much more than sufficient. It is true that the commissioners reported that there were in a population of 8,000,000, 2,800,000 in a state of destitution, and they proposed that 100, subsequently they suggested that 130 houses, capable of containing 100,000 persons, should be built for their accommodation. In the 9th report of those gentlemen, we find that, in the quarter ending December 1842, eighty-six houses, built to contain 73,960 paupers, were in operation in Ireland, and that on the average, only 27,000 persons availed themselves of the relief they afforded, "about one-third the number they were capable of accommodating." In the report for 1843, we see that in ninety-two houses, built to contain 78,160, in which relief had been administered from the 10th January 1844, the average number of inmates was 31,578, and the gross number to whom relief had been afforded during the year, was 53,582. And in the 11th report, the last published, "in 105 houses which were open from January 1844 to January 1845, the gross number relieved was 68,371, and the average number of inmates 37,780, although those 105 houses were capable of accommodating 84,000 individuals."[10] Thus we have it clearly proved, that those houses never at any time contained one-half, and very seldom more than one-third of the numbers they were constructed to accommodate—and yet Mr Scrope waxes furious because more houses are not built, while those already erected are not half occupied.

Lord George Bentinck, to whose opinions and to whose statements great weight is deservedly attached, expresses his dissatisfaction at the working of the Irish Poor-law, because while L5,000,000 is expended annually in this country in succouring 16,000,000, only L250,000 is spent in Ireland in giving relief to 8,000,000 of the people. But if his lordship took time to consider, he would see that the disproportionate expenditure was not caused by any restrictions which the Irish law imposed, but by the unwillingness of the Irish people to take advantage of its enactments. If he had recourse to the returns of the commissioners, he would have found, that while in the year ending January 1844 the gross number of those who received parochial relief in Ireland was 53,582, the number of those who received similar relief in England amounted to 4,279,565, considerably more than one-fourth of the population, of whom 958,057 actually entered the Bastiles. Thus we have nearly the sixteenth part of the population seeking in-door relief in England and Wales, and not the one hundred and twentieth part in Ireland. But the small numbers admitted in Ireland, and the small expenditure incurred in succouring the poor in that country, is not the fault of the law. It sets no limit to the benevolence of the guardians. Neither is it the fault of those who administer it; for the guardians being almost all thorough-paced patriots, of whom the great majority pay under ten shillings annually to the tax, never reject applicants, and frequently solicit persons to become candidates for admission. And when we consider that those who, we are told, "dwell in ditches and live on weeds," and to whom "beds and blankets are rare luxuries," have only to apply for shelter where they can have good beds and better diet than the commissioners assure us they are even accustomed to at home, we cannot but express surprise at the taste of our neighbours, who prefer dirt and starvation to cleanliness and abundance; and our sympathy for persons who bewail their sufferings, and yet will not accept the proffered relief, must be greatly diminished.

The truth is, and facts such as those prove it, that though there is more squalid filth and raggedness in Ireland, (for those are national tastes,) there is much less of real misery or distress in that country than exists in England.

To make their coercive policy palatable to their present supporters, the ministry announce the immediate introduction of a bill to regulate the arrangements between landlord and tenant, and to secure the latter adequate compensation for any improvements he may have effected. It is always better for governments to leave the adjustment of private rights to the parties concerned in them. But if they are to be guided in their legislation by the evidence given before the land-commissioners, and not by the report which it pleased those gentlemen to adopt, there never was a case in which such interference was less called for. We do not find in the whole mass a solitary well substantiated instance in which an improving and rent-paying tenant was dispossessed by the landlord for the purpose of availing himself of the additional value which had been given to his land. And Mr Stewart, an extensive agent and land-valuator, declared in his examination, "that he considered improving tenants had, at the expiration of their tenures, a just claim upon the consideration of their landlords—a claim," he continues, "which, in a great number of instances coming under my own observation, I never yet knew to be disregarded." Can the government believe that contingent and trifling rewards for levelling old ditches, and for building ill-constructed houses, will be sufficient to satisfy men who, according to Mr Maher's sworn testimony, "desire no such improvements, even when they are paid promptly for their execution;" or that drainage will be effected, in the hope of their being allowed a paltry consideration in case they are dispossessed, "by persons who threaten with death those who are willing to give them at once the full value of their labour?" Not a bit of it. Any attempt to legislate on the subject will only increase the present difficulties. If you give the tenant a right to execute such improvements as he pleases, and guarantee him remuneration, who is to be the umpire between the occupier and the landlord?—"a commissioner." Well, where are you to get respectable men to act in such a capacity, with the certainty that if they decided honestly, they would become unpopular, and secure the reward of death? And if you take those commissioners from the class of small farmers, and pay them by the business they transact, why, then, there will be no limit to jobbing and dishonesty—each of them will bid for popularity and increase of income, by deciding in favour of the tenant, and against the landlord, in all instances—and litigation and confusion without end will be the consequence. As to Mr O'Connell's other remedies—extension of municipal reform, and increase of representation—grant them, and what could the change effect? No extension of municipal reform can possibly make the corporations more revolutionary than they are—with one solitary exception (Belfast), his influence and his principles prevail in all. They are all at his beck, "good men and true." What more would he have? What more could any alteration in the law effect for him? And as to the increase in the Irish representation, what benefit could that be to the country, when, admitting that the number of members were increased, the additional ones would only swell the amount of those who altogether, and purposely, absent themselves from their duties, under the sanction of their constituents, and by the express dictation of their leader.

With the facts which we have laid before them—with the proofs which we have adduced from their own authorities, to show that there is neither injustice nor oppression practised on the Irish people, that their distress is to a great extent simulated, and their poverty the fruits of their own misconduct—we ask the government, will they continue to allow themselves to be misled by the mistatements of interested and designing men, who, while accounting for the state of Ireland, assert one thing and swear another; will they legislate for that country on the suggestions of persons who make a boast of their hatred of England, and openly express their desire for her humiliation—who, with loyalty on their lips, seek Repeal because they know it must produce separation; and who hesitate not to advocate measures which they feel must be ruinous to all classes of their fellow-countrymen, because they hope to accomplish, through the agency of the British ministry, what they have hitherto been unable to effect by flattery or by force—the alienation of the loyal and well-disposed from the British connexion?

There is a remedy for the ills of Ireland, and a simple and an efficacious remedy it will be found to be, if adopted. Enforce obedience to the laws, and establish security of life and property, no matter at what sacrifices or by what means. The more severe and uncompromising the measure by which those objects shall be sought to be effected, the more prompt will be the success, and the more merciful the operation. Freedom of action once attained, you may safely leave the gentry and the people to make their own arrangements, and count with certainty on the rapid improvement of the country, and the full development of its resources, provided only you maintain that fair degree of protection which can alone enable Ireland to compete with more favoured countries.

The Association must be suppressed: it will be folly to expect peace or tranquillity while that pestilent body is in existence; smite it "hip and thigh," and you at once cut off the fruitful sources of discontent and crime. Stop the rent, and at one blow you annihilate the profligate press, which turns the minds of the people from their legitimate avocations, which panders to their prejudices, and excites them to outrage. Of what use will it be to confine the peasant to his house by night, if you allow him to be beset during the day by the noxious publications which contain the treason of the Conciliation Hall?

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