The Reminiscences of an Irish Land Agent
by S.M. Hussey
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There was a poem, not particularly brilliant, which may be quoted because it is not widely known:—

'If I had a Balfour who wrong would go, Do you think I'd tolerate him?—No, no, no! I'd give him coercion in Kilmainham jail, And return him to Arthur, who'd laugh at his wail.'

In fact the impression prevailed that Ireland was then sacrificed to the nepotism of Lord Salisbury, who had inflicted the least capable of the House of Cecil on the distressful country.

When the Duke of York was in Ireland, he stayed with Lord Dunraven, and Mr. Gerald Balfour as Chief Secretary was one of the house-party, and the mother of the Knight of Glin was also there.

A short time before, a chemist from Cork, who had been appointed sub-confiscator, and desired to secure his own position, had heavily cut down the Fitzgerald rents.

Mr. Balfour, by way of making polite conversation, observed to Mrs. Fitzgerald:—

'I believe your son's property has been a long time in the family.'

'Yes,' she said, 'we got it in the reign of Edward I., and held it until last year, when the Government sent an apothecary from Cork to rob us of it.'

The conversation dropped.

Mr. Arthur Balfour was very plucky, not only personally, but in his legislative efforts, and he did wonders for Ireland—the light railways relieving numbers from starvation, and opening up the country.

An English journalist went down to the West, and tried to make inquiries about the popularity of the Chief Secretary.

He came to the cabin of a man who had been rescued from starvation by getting Government employment, and had thrived so well that he had become possessed of a pig.

This pig, on the appearance of the Englishman, escaped into a potato-field, and he heard the woman of the house shout to her son:—

'Mickey, look sharp and turn out Arthur Balfour before he does any mischief.'

The name of the pig showed the gratitude of the family.

When alluding to Mr. Lowther I omitted to mention that he was always of opinion that a well-planned scheme of education was the best panacea for the Irish troubles, and it certainly would have brought up a generation less keenly sensitive to the exaggerated wrongs of the country to which both sexes are so frantically attached. During his not very lengthy tenure of the office of Chief Secretary it was asserted that Sir George Trevelyan also had some such idea; but whether he went so far as to draft his plan, and it was consigned to some forgotten pigeon-hole by Mr. Gladstone, I cannot say.

When the Duke of Argyll described Sir George Trevelyan as a jelly-fish, he made a comparison which, from my personal experience, I should call particularly apt.

Ireland had very little use for such a flabby politician, and it may be added, he had very little use for Ireland.

He was in such a devil of a fright at being forced to succeed poor Lord Frederick Cavendish that it was some time before the pressure put upon him sufficed to make him accept office, nor would he be induced to go over to Dublin Castle at all until he had been given Cabinet rank. As for the Cabinet, they were so anxious to settle upon a living target for the Home Rulers to practise upon, and so afraid that through his default one of themselves might have to undertake the unpleasant office, that they would have given the prospective victim almost anything he liked, on the principle of letting the condemned criminal choose what he prefers for his final meal before that brief interview with the hangman.

Directly after the formation of the following Radical Government, I met an Englishman of considerable political importance in Pall Mall, and he observed:—

'The new Cabinet is quarrelling among themselves.'

'Who are fighting?' I asked.

'Chamberlain and Trevelyan,' he replied.

'What about?'

'Chamberlain says that he brought the party back into office, and he wants the Colonial Office; but Gladstone insists on his being content with the Local Government Board. Trevelyan says that, as he has for years had experience in naval affairs, he ought to be made First Lord. But Gladstone, though he cannot prevail on him to be Chief Secretary, has sent him to the India Office.'

'And may give him free lodgings in Kilmainham if he is refractory,' I chimed in. 'And so these two are like pigs with their bristles hurt, poor things. There's a pity.'

Some time later, when I heard Messrs. Chamberlain and Trevelyan were so disgusted with the Home Rule Bill that they were leaving the Government, says I to myself, 'I wonder if Mr. Gladstone in his own heart thinks if he had gratified their wishes about office he could have retained them.'

But as a matter of fact both are patriots far above such demeaning insinuations.

Mr. John Morley was a very well-meaning Chief Secretary, but a very misguided man.

In a conversation with me, Mr. Morley observed that, owing to the agitation, he saw no alternative but to make Parnell Chief Secretary.

I said that would be no use, for if he attempted to do his duty he would be shot, even more readily than I should.

Mr. Morley retorted:—

'He is the leader of the Irish nation.'

'I admit it,' I replied, 'and he is the only man you can make terms with.'

'How?' says he.

'You had better ask him,' says I, 'to nominate some foreign potentate to appoint commissioners who will say to Mr. Parnell, "Let Ireland pay her share of the national debt and buy out every loyal person who wishes to leave the country," and then, if Mr. Parnell says, "We are not able to do that," let them retort, "We will then disfranchise you, for this humbug has been going on long enough."'

'That's about it, according to your lights,' replied Mr. Morley.

Was I not right?

It is a singular fact that Ulster and Alsace-Lorraine have about the same acreage—5,322,334 to 3,586,560—and about the same population—1,581,357 to 1,719,470. The French and Germans are each willing to spend a hundred millions of money and half a million lives, the one to recover, the other to retain, the province, and yet Mr. Gladstone proposed, not only to abandon Ulster, but to put it under the rule of the people the Ulsterites hate most on earth.

It is also remarkable that at the time of the Union the population of Belfast was 35,000, and Dublin 250,000. Now Belfast is 335,000, while Dublin remains at a quarter of a million. Belfast, in point of customs, is the third largest city in the British dominions, coming next after London and Liverpool, whilst it is the finest shipbuilding town in the world.

Yet its inhabitants were to be sold as though they were African slaves, for the sole purpose of getting votes for the Liberal Government.

I was one day invited by Froude to come to his home to argue out the Irish question with Mr. Jacob Bright and Mr. John Morley.

I counted on having Mr. Froude on my side, knowing his strong views, but as host he would not interfere. However, Miss Cobbe was there, and to my mind was equal to any of the company. With her on my side, I flatter myself we were too many for the others; but the worst of all arguments is that the arguing rarely serves any purpose except to make either party more obstinate.

I knew John Bright very well.

He was far and away the most honest man of all the Liberal party, and he fully realised the fact that a visible concentration of property and universal suffrage could not exist together. He was therefore anxious to enlarge the number of proprietors, but he did not countenance it being done entirely at the expense of the English Government without the tenants having to find such a sum of money out of their own pockets as would give them an interest in paying off the Government charges.

He was a very broad-minded man, with a simplicity of character which was admirable. I liked him much, and my one complaint against him was that he would never accept my invitations to come and pay me a visit in Kerry.

I never heard him make a speech, but with his beautiful voice it was a great treat to hear him read Milton. On one occasion he took me to the House specially to see Mr. Gladstone, but after nearly an hour he had reluctantly to tell me that the Prime Minister could not find leisure for our conversation that day owing to pressure of business, and another opportunity never came.

Although I regret not having met Mr. Gladstone, I yet feel glad that I never shook him by the hand. I may here mention that I never met Mr. Parnell, though I have seen him in the House.

From my point of view Mr. John Morley has a dual existence. As man and as historian he is Jekyl, but as politician he is Hyde.

There is a well-known story about him, so familiar to some of us that it is possibly forgotten in England, wherefore I venture to relate it once more.

He was on a car, and asked the driver:—

'Well, Pat, you'll be having great times when you get Home Rule?'

'We will, your honour—for a week,' replied the man.

'Why only a week?' inquired the politician.

'Driving the quality to the steamers.'



Although the exact measure of my appreciation of the Irish policy of the most dangerous Englishman of the nineteenth century has already been clearly indicated by casual remarks in previous chapters, that will not absolve me from duly setting forth some sketch of the inestimable amount of evil which resulted from the interest he unfortunately took in my unhappy land.

If Napoleon was the scourge of Europe, Mr. Gladstone was the most malevolent imp of mischief that ever ruined any one country, and I am heartily grieved that that country should have been mine.

It is so difficult to get English people to take any interest in Irish topics that I fully expect this chapter will be skipped by most of my readers east of Dublin. Yet if any will read these few pages, they will get as clear a view of the harm one man can do a whole land as by wading through hundreds of volumes, for I am giving them the concentrated knowledge I have accumulated by years devoted to profound study of the subject.

The course of history may be taken up almost on the morrow of the famine, for potatoes began to be a scarce crop again in 1850, yet the country was improving rapidly, and the relations between landlord and tenant were as cordial as in any part of the world.

So they continued in absolute amity until what is virtually universal suffrage was introduced and the ignoramus became the tool of every political knave.

Mr. Gladstone stated that he brought in the Irish Church Act to pacify the country in 1868, when the land was as peaceful as English pastures on a Sunday evening. He must really have done so to propitiate English dissenters, for no one in Ireland appeared to want it.

By this Act a resident gentleman was taken away from every parish in Ireland, whereby the evils of absentee landlordism were gravely enhanced.

Mr. Gladstone called it an act of sublime justice from England to Ireland. Previously, in virtue of ancient treaties commencing as far back as the reigns of William and Mary, the English Government was giving Presbyterians a grant—called Regium Donum—of L70,000 a year, and by a more recent arrangement was giving Maynooth a grant of L24,000, but that Whig Government actually paid them off out of the spoils of the Irish Church, thereby saving the British Exchequer L94,000 a year.

And if this be an act of justice, then Aristides can be classed among hypocritical swindlers.

It must be borne in mind that when William Pitt caused the Act of Union to be passed in Parliament, the union of the Churches was a fundamental feature, and this, indeed, was the main inducement held out to Protestants to promote the Union.

Surely it cannot be held to be a valid Union when the principal consideration in it is set aside, to say nothing of increasing the taxation by two million sterling a year more than was ever contemplated by the Act. This was clearly borne out by a Royal Commission composed mostly of Englishmen and presided over by Mr. Childers, an earnest politician and an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Catholic priests who expected that their Church would be established were disappointed, while the landlords, who were generally Protestants, had henceforth to support their clergy and at the same time to pay tithes to the State.

As Irish taxation increased 50 per cent, while that of England only increased 18 per cent., the Irish people did not find Mr. Gladstone's Act soothing or profitable.

His next perpetration was the Land Act of 1870, whereby he provided that no landlord could turn out his tenant without paying him for all his improvements (even if these had been done without the knowledge or sanction of the landlord) and giving the tenant a compensation in money equal to about one-fourth of the fee-simple.

This Act might have been all right in principle, but it was useless in practice, and the compensation made to the County Court Judge for adjudicature came to far more than the amount awarded.

This is easily accounted for, thus:—

You might as well bring in an Act of Parliament to prevent people cutting off their own noses.

No sane person does such a thing, and no landlord ever turned out an improving tenant.

But the Irish tenants, having almost the sole representation of the country in their hands, returned a body of representatives pledged to the confiscation of landed property; and in order to keep his party in power by securing their votes, Mr. Gladstone brought in the Land Act of 1881.

I heard him introduce the motion in the House of Commons, and his speech was a truly marvellous feat of oratory. He was interrupted on all sides of the House, and in a speech of nearly five hours in length never once lost the thread of his discourse.

As far as I could judge, he never even by accident let slip one word of truth.

When the Act passed, Mr. Gladstone anticipated that eight sub-commissioners would do the work. This number very soon ran up to one hundred sub-commissioners and more than twenty County Court valuers.

The result is that every tenant has been running down his land and letting it go out of cultivation, for the tenants know the commissioners value the ground as they find it, and a premium is thus, of course, put on neglecting the soil.

To show the system on which the valuation was done, many cases have been known of the commissioners arriving to value a property after three o'clock on a December afternoon.

It is a positive fact that there are professional experts who obtain substantial fees for showing tenants the speediest methods of damaging their own land.

All the same I cannot help thinking their services are a matter of supererogation, for a recalcitrant Irish tenant in the South and West needs instruction in no branch of villainy.

On one of Lord Kenmare's estates, I executed drainage works costing over L200. These were dependent upon sluices to keep out the tide at high water. A few days before the land was to be inspected, the tenants put bushes in the sluices, let the tide in and flooded the whole land.

And then a prating, mendacious local schoolmaster began comparing these villains to the patriotic Dutch who flooded their land rather than permit it to be conquered by the national foe.

I could give scores of such instances of wilful destruction of property for the purpose of obtaining a reduction.

Here is one.

A tenant near Blarney, in County Cork, was seen to be ploughing up a valuable water meadow.

When asked by a gentleman why he was injuring his land, he replied without hesitation that he was going to get his rent fixed, and immediately afterwards he should lay it down again as a water meadow.

It is scarcely credible how great was the amount of perjury that this Act brought into the country.

A tenant on a property to which I was agent, whose rent was L6 a year, swore he expended L395 on improvements and all that it was worth afterwards was L4, 10s. He received the implicit credit of the court.

According to the laws of the Roman Catholic Church perjury in a court of justice is a reserved sin for which absolution can only be given by a bishop or by priests specially appointed for that purpose.

One priest applied to the bishop for plenary powers, and said the bishop to him:—

'Are the people so generally bad in your parish?'

'It's the fault of the laws, my lord,' replied the priest.

'What laws?' asked the bishop.

'Firstly, under the Crimes Act, my poor people have to swear they do not know the moonlighters that come to the house, or they would be murdered.

'Secondly, under the Arrears Act, they have to swear they are worth nothing in the world or they would not get the Government money.

'Thirdly, under the Land Act, while they have to swear up their own improvements, they must also swear down the value of the land, or they will get no reductions.

'So you see, my lord, the sin lies at the door of those who made the infamous laws which lead weak sinners into temptation they cannot be expected to overcome.'

The bishop said nothing, but he gave the priest all the powers he desired.

I myself heard this story from a parish priest who was present, and as I have several times told it to different people, it may have found its way into print, though I have no recollection of ever seeing it in black and white.

Allusion having just been made to the Arrears Act, it may be here opportune to point out that this was the next step in Mr. Gladstone's long sequence of Irish mismanagement. This iniquitous measure provided that no matter how great the arrears owed by the tenant, by lodging one year's rent another could be obtained from the Government, and the landlord was compelled to wipe out the balance. So that if Jack, Tom, and James were all tenants on town land, should Jack be an honest man he obtained no redress, whereas if Tom and James were hardened defaulters they obtained the complete settlement of all their arrears.

To obtain the grant of a year's rent from Government, the tenant had to swear as to his assets and also as to the selling value of his farm.

Here is an illustration which came under my own observation.

A tenant named Richard Sweeney, whose rent was L48 a year, owed three years' rent. He paid one year, the Government provided another, and the landlord had to forgive the third.

To obtain this result, Sweeney swore that the selling value of his farm was nil, and he received a receipt in full.

A few weeks later he served me—as agent for the landlord—with notice that he had sold his interest in the property for L630.

That is not the end of my story.

The purchaser was a man named Murphy, and a very few years afterwards, upon the ground that the rent was too dear, he took the farm for which he had paid L630 to Sweeney into the Land Courts and got the rent reduced to L36.

The absurdity of this system was well brought out before the Fry Commission, when one high-commissioner and a sub-commissioner both said that in valuing the land they took into consideration the tenant's occupation interest.

The reader will see the way this works out, if he will accept the very simple hypothetical case of two tenants holding land to the worth of L40 each, and one of them only paying L20 a year rent. When they both took their cases into the Land Court, the man paying the lower rent of L20 would obtain the larger reduction, because he had the greater occupation.

These facts will show that a Purchase Bill was an absolute necessity. Lord Dufferin truly remarked that landlord and tenant were both in the same bed, and Mr. Gladstone thought to settle their disputes by giving the tenant a larger share than he had ever had before. But the tenant considered that as he had obtained that concession by fraud and violence, if he could only give one effective kick more, he would put the landlord on the floor for the rest of the term of their national life.

When introducing the Land Act of 1870, Mr. Gladstone proved himself if not an Irish statesman, an admirable prophet, for he denounced in anticipation exactly what the effect of the Land Act of 1881 would be.

In 1870, he prospectively criticised such an institution as the Land Court, which in 1881 he proposed, with its power to give a 'judicial rent.'

'But it is suggested we should establish, permanently and positively, a power in the hands of the State to reduce excessive rents. Now I should like to hear a careful argument in support of that plan. I wish at all events to retain at all times a judicial habit of not condemning a thing utterly until I have heard what is to be said for it; but I own I have not heard, I do not know, and I cannot conceive, what is to be said for the prospective power to reduce excessive rents. If I could conceive a plan more calculated than everything else, first of all, for throwing into confusion the whole economical arrangements of the country; secondly, for driving out of the field all solvent and honest men who might be bidders for farms; thirdly, for carrying widespread demoralisation throughout the whole mass of the Irish people, I must say it is this plan.'

And again:—

'We are not ready to accede to a principle of legislation by which the State shall take into its own hands the valuation of rent throughout Ireland. I say, "take into its own hands" because it is perfectly immaterial whether the thing shall be done by a State officer forming part of the Civil Service, or by an arbitration acting under State authority, or by any other person invested by the law with power to determine on what terms as to rent every holding in Ireland shall be held.'

This categorical denunciation of the principle which he was then asked, and which he peremptorily refused to sanction, was not enough for Mr. Gladstone, for the records of debate show he went farther, but enough has been cited to show that never was prophecy more fully fulfilled. Outrage followed outrage with a rapidity unequalled in Europe, and that in a country which previous to his remedial measures had practically been unstained by an agrarian outrage for fifty years.

It would certainly be both remiss of me, and altogether below the character which I trust I have acquired for honest plain speaking, if I omitted to give my views upon Mr. Wyndham's Act, for those readers who regard my book as something more than a storehouse of anecdotes—and since it is written at all, I maintain it claims to be more than that—having noticed the freedom with which I have spoken of previous English legislation for Ireland, may very naturally think I should be begging the question of the hour, if I did not offer a few observations on the latest development of the Irish question.

I must emphatically repeat what I have already asserted:—that the Acts of Mr. Gladstone rendered a Purchase Bill inevitable, and it fell to Mr. Wyndham's lot to formulate the scheme which has now become law.

Mr. Wyndham's Act is a great one for Ireland, because where a tenant previously paid L100 a year rent, all he will have to pay—even at twenty-four years' purchase—is L80 a year, and at that rate with the bonus the landlord obtains twenty-seven years' purchase. But this scale is a little halcyon in most instances.

It should prove a boon to the country, and it is the necessary outcome of the Land Act of 1881, by which rents were cut down by commissioners, whose means of living depended on the reductions they made.

And to make this state of things yet more remarkable, there were two courts established for fixing rates. The one consisted of sub-commissioners, who were paid by the year, and the other was that of the County Court judge, who was wholly dependent on a valuer paid by the day.

So, whoever cut down the most earned the most.

A valuer in Limerick was remonstrated with for cutting down local rents so low, and he replied:—

'It is all for the good of trade, for it will bring every tenant into the Court.'

And so it actually did, for that Court very shortly afterwards was chock full of cases.

My own opinion is that the Wyndham Act would have been far more beneficial, if the Government had given the tenant a free grant of some of the purchase money, and insisted on his finding some more of it himself, whereby would have been created a deeper interest in his land than is now inspired in his breast by the mere transference of his lease from his old landlord to the Government.

I made this remark to an Englishman at the Carlton Club, and he said to me that, according to his view, England should lend whatever money was wanted but give no free grant.

I replied:—

'A poor man from Kerry came to my house in London, and asked for the loan of a pound. I declined to lend him the sovereign, but I did lend him half a crown, and as he bolted to America the very next day, I think I had the best of the bargain.'

My friend accepted the analogy and dropped the subject.

That was far more tactful on his part than the conduct of the English Government, for the different Acts of Parliament relating to Ireland have had the effect of rendering the feelings between landlord and tenant much worse than they were before.

And the Act of 1881, which provided that landlord and tenant should have a lawsuit every fifteen years, brought the feeling up to boiling pitch.

Now the Government inherits all this hatred by proposing to be the sole landlord in Ireland. Therefore, England is reaping the whirlwind where Mr. Gladstone sowed the wind.

This does not appear to me to be sound statesmanship. An open hatred of the Government has been instilled into the brain of thousands of Irish children side by side with a more hypocritical hatred of the landlord. Now that these two are to be combined in one passion, and that directed against the receiver of rent, matters do not present a promising outlook.

If the Government sell up those tenants who do not pay rent in years to come, no Irish occupiers of the property will be obtainable.

If English tenants be imported, the latter had better insist on coats of mail for themselves, and on life insurance policies in favour of the nearest relatives they leave behind in England.

That reminds me of a story.

Sir Denis Fitzpatrick and his daughter were making a tour of the Kerry fjords some years ago, and the lady asked a boatman on Caragh Lake, what would happen to a tenant who took an evicted farm.

The reply was:—

'I don't think he'd do it again, Miss, leastways it's in the next world alone he'd have the chance of making such a fool of himself.'

This may be commended to any unsophisticated English who contemplate Hibernian immigration as a prospective way of cheaply obtaining that once popular bait of Mr. Jesse Collins, three acres and a cow.

Here is another aspect of not paying rent to Government, which would occur to no one unacquainted with Ireland, but is quite characteristic:—

Suppose twenty men were tenants on a townland; one would pay, and the other nineteen after being evicted would also squat down on his patch. Unless caretakers at a cost of about three times the rent were put in under excessive police protection, all the nineteen farms would promptly become derelict.

It would have been far better if the Government had given a free grant of one quarter of the purchase money, had compelled the tenant to himself find another quarter, and had lent the remaining half for a comparatively short term, say twenty-five years.

Then the tenant would have had genuine interest in the redemption of his own property.

But, asks the English tourist impressed by the apparent beggarliness of all he sees, how could the tenant procure a quarter of the money?

Naturally it would be alleged by the agitators that he could not. All the same you may confidently contradict any such denial as that.

It is clear that almost any tenant could get the money, if you bear in mind that though rents are so reduced, the most unimproving tenant can get from ten to twenty years' purchase for the good-will of his farm.

Of course, just now the old order is changing considerably in Ireland, but the loss of their old landlords is not appreciated by the better class of tenants, though the good have of course to suffer for the bad—a thing even better known in my country than elsewhere. I heard an interesting confirmation of this from a lady of my acquaintance, who having asked a respectable woman what had become of her son, received the reply:—

'Ah, for sure, he has got a situation with a farmer.'

'Well, that's a good start in life, is it not?' asked my friend, to which the woman retorted in melancholy accents:—

'That may be, but my family have always been rared (i.e. reared) on the gentry until now,' thereby expressing a feeling very prevalent in Ireland to-day.

The Home Rulers allege that these high prices which are paid for the good-will of land are attributable to two causes:—

(a) Excess of competition for land. (b) Irish returning from America.

Both these reasons are absurd.

When the population of Ireland was nearly eight millions, these prices could not be obtainable, nor anything like them, while to-day the population is only four millions. Unless the returning emigrants thought they were obtaining good value for their money, they would hardly abandon a country—the United States—where they can get land for nothing.

The enormous increase in the Irish Savings Banks, as well as the deposits in other Irish Banks, must be almost entirely derived from the savings of the farmers. The landlords have been ruined by the Land Act; labourers have no money to spare; and traders will not leave their money idle at the small rate of interest credited.

If the farmers thought they had better means of using the money, they would withdraw it, and they are without doubt as well aware as I am how they can do the English Government in the future, for if there is any roguery unknown to them, it is infinitesimal.

I cannot say that I think many landlords will leave Ireland in consequence of the Wyndham Act. The few who will go are those who are glad to be quit at any price, and to be free to pack out of the country. But many a landlord will be far more comfortable on his own estate, when he has rid himself of all his tenants.

One feature of this curious Act is that the Geraldines have got rid of the last of their property, and escaped all the forfeitures.

As for the sporting rights, far too much fuss has been made over them. Except where there are plantations or good fishing, they are of very little value one way or the other. The Act will not affect the hunting. Small Irish farmers like to see the hunt almost as much as the hunting set themselves like to participate in it.

Of course, too, the Act ought to be popular in Ireland, because it is taking so much money out of England.

A point I wish to emphasise is one about which there has been a great deal of misconception.

A considerable amount of capital has been made out of the depreciation of agricultural produce in Ireland as compared with England. But Ireland is a stock-producing country and not an agricultural country in the strict sense, for the cultivation of wheat in Ireland has long since ceased to exist. The true relation may be seen in the fact that in England the difficulty of getting store-cattle was a loss to farmers, whereas it has been a decided gain to farmers in Ireland—though they are not best pleased when you impress the fact on them.

Mr. Finlay Dun in Landlords and Tenants in Ireland in 1881 cites some examples which may be apt to-day when we are considering Mr. Wyndham's Act.

He writes on page 64:—

'Kilcockan parish between Lismore and Youghal was in great part disposed of in the Landed Estates Court thirty years ago. It was bought, some of it by occupiers, some of it by shopkeepers and attorneys. Rents have been raised, and there is not much appearance of prosperity. Newtown, for several generations the fee-simple property of a family of the name of Nason, after the famine of 1846, was cut up and sold; the family residence is in ruin. At Lower Curryglass, a few miles east of Lismore, a good farm of five hundred acres, belonging to a family who have been obliged to leave it, bears sad evidence of neglect; the good old deserted manor-house, the farm buildings, and a dozen cottages in the village are falling to pieces. Contrary to what might be anticipated, some of the smaller proprietors in this district have been strenuous supporters of the Land League, although it is to be hoped that they repudiate the destruction of the cattle on the land of Mr. Grant, which were stabbed, and some of them drowned in the river. Mr. Grant had come under the ban of the League for evicting a dissipated bankrupt tenant, whose debts to the extent of two hundred pounds he had paid, and who would have been reinstated, if there had been the remotest prospect of reformed habits or of getting clear of his difficulties. Such acts appear to justify the statement, "that Irishmen don't know what they want, and won't be satisfied until they get it."'

God knows we have waded knee deep in blood of men, and domestic animals since that was written, yet to-day are we any nearer the final solution of the Irish difficulties? In my opinion, certainly not.



It has been stated that it is only within the last forty years that the bulk of the people of Ireland, long outside the pale of the ballot-box, have actively entered political life. This is quite true.

The whole of the Home Rule troubles followed the presentation of practically universal suffrage to the half-educated and over-enthusiastic Irish, who are easily led away, apt to believe mob-orators, and, by inherited instinct, to go against the Government.

What the effect of universal suffrage in India would be it is not my business to estimate. Still, the analogy of what the ballot-paper provided in Ireland, if applied to the teeming population of our Oriental Empire, suggests a pandemonium to which the horrors of the Mutiny are but a mere scream of agony.

The ballot transformed Ireland; or rather, it permitted the worst passions of the most ignorant to be played upon by interested adventurers, when the political power of Ireland had passed for ever out of the hands of the restraining classes. Democracy spelt anarchy, and the word patriotism was degraded in a way that had no parallel since the French Revolution.

The first outward and visible sign was the creation of the Irish Home Rule party, which constituted itself separate and distinct from the rest of the House of Commons, the standard of which the new gang was to debase. Nor did they rest content until it became the scene of faction fights and organised obstruction in combination with the flagrant violation of all decencies of language and behaviour.

Members were returned for Irish constituencies who had been convicts; others came who richly deserved imprisonment for life. They instigated murders, and clamoured because the murderers were not regarded as heroes; or if they were hung, canonised them as martyrs. They attempted to prostitute the law to their own base standard of political morality. They assiduously laboured to render life valueless in Ireland and property worthless, whilst no deed was too cowardly, no atrocity too barbarous, for them to praise. They alone in modern times warred against women and children. Animals were the dumb victims of the inhuman ferocity they in no way tried to check, and they effectively taught the receptive Irish millions that a British Government could be coerced into giving what was demanded provided a sufficient number of crimes created a holocaust large enough to intimidate the weak-kneed at St. Stephen's.

But Mr. Parnell and the Land League would all have been promptly reduced to the pitiful unimportance from which they had so noisily emerged if it had not been for Mr. Gladstone.

The root of English politics has been party government—'where all are for a party, and none are for the State,' to reverse Macaulay's famous line. Now the Irish vote of sixty was a solid asset, capable in many cases of weighing down one side of the political scale. It was obvious that the votes would be unscrupulously given, and Mr. Gladstone bid higher than the Tories. Literally the necessary parliamentary machinery for the government of the United Kingdom was clogged by the Nationalists, who brought obstruction to a fine art, and it was Mr. Gladstone who always gave in when the Irish outcry would have stimulated an honest man to avail himself of all loyal forces which law and the common weal provided.

Long before this the Irish political agitator had set himself to embitter the relations existing between landlord and tenant. An Englishman goes into Parliament for various motives; an Irishman for his living. If he did not outshout his neighbour, if he were not implicitly obedient to Mr. Parnell, if he did not arouse the worst passions of the worst people in his constituency, he was promptly dismissed.

To do them justice, the Irish members gave such an exhibition of blackguardism as has no parallel on earth, though it earned but the mildest rebuke from their obsequious ally, Mr. Gladstone.

In 1869, for example, before this balloting away of all that was creditable to Ireland, the relations between landlord and tenant were of the most kindly nature. The leading landlords of Kerry generally represented the county in Parliament with uniform decency and occasional brilliance, while larger sums were borrowed and expended by the landlords under the Land Improvement Act than were spent in the same way in any other county. I can prove that the principal landowner in Kerry—Lord Kenmare—expended a greater sum in ten years on his estates than he received out of them, though I cannot say he ever found out for himself that it was better to give than to receive.

For fifty years prior to what Mr. Gladstone was pleased to call his 'remedial legislation,' Kerry was unstained by agrarian crime; all things went on smoothly, and a number of railways were constructed with guaranteed capital, half of which was contributed by the landlords, although they received no benefit from the increased prices of farm produce caused by railway communication. The Board of Works returns show that the money borrowed by Kerry landlords under the different Land Improvement Acts amounted to almost half a million, and yet the deductions made under the Land Act were greater in Kerry than in other counties.

Here is an instance from my own experience.

I purchased from the Government in 1879 an estate, the rental of which was L517, 2s. 4d.; it was considered so cheaply let that the majority of the tenants offered twenty-seven years' purchase for their farms. I borrowed from the Government and expended on drainage L1120, 14s. 11d. Then the Commissioners under the Land Act reduced the rental to L495, 10s. 6d., and the Government which sold me the estate continued to compel me to pay interest on the amount borrowed, although by its own legislation I was deprived of any advantage resulting from the outlay.

The rental of Kerry in 1870 was considerably less than it had been forty years previously, and higher prices were paid for the fee-simple of land than were offered in any other part of Ireland. But Mr. Gladstone's 'remedial manoeuvres' changed the country and the people.

Demoralising bribes to the Irish nation frittered away the proceeds of the plunder of the Irish Church. A notable instance was a million under the Arrears Act, the principle of which was that no honest tenant who had paid his rent could derive any benefit from it, but that any drunkard or squanderer who had not paid his rent might have it paid for him by the Government on swearing that he was unable to pay.

Here is an instance that occurred on an estate under my management.

A tenant, whose yearly rent was L48, had one year's rent paid by Government and another year's rent given up by his landlord, on his swearing that the selling value of his farm was nil; ten weeks afterwards he served me with a notice, as required by the statute, that he had sold the interest of the farm for L670.

Again, there was a tenant who swore that he had expended L513, 14s. 6d. in permanent improvements, and that after this expenditure the fair letting value of the farm was only L17, though the original rent was L26, 4s.

How could I blame an ignorant peasantry for making false statements, when laws were framed by the leaders of public opinion in England which released the Irish tenants from every moral obligation, and made their assumed responsibilities and agreements a dead letter; while orators, living on the wages of patriotism, were allowed to preach sedition and plunder to an excitable people? The result was that the work of demoralisation made rapid progress, perjury became a joke, assassination was merely 'removal,' and men who had been brutally murdered were said to have met with an accident.

I have already shown how apt a prophet Mr. Gladstone was in his forecast in the House of Commons in 1870, and one more quotation adds testimony to his inspiration—though from what direction it came I will not linger to inquire:—

'Compulsory valuation and fixity of tenure would bring about total demoralisation and a Saturnalia of crime.'


Mr. Laing, formerly M.P. for Orkney, in a magazine article defended the 'Plan of Campaign' as an innocent attempt to defend the weak against the strong, and as having been adopted only on estates where rents were too high, in fact, as the result of high rents. As a matter of fact, in Orkney the rents advanced 194 per cent., and during the same period in Kerry they dwindled. He also asserted that the Irish tenants' improvements had been confiscated by the landlords as the tenant improved.

Certainly the law did not prevent them increasing the rent; but, unfortunately for the reasoning of Mr. Laing, and his taking for granted imaginary 'confiscations,' figures most decidedly prove that the landlords did not use any such power. The rentals have steadily decreased while the landlords were borrowing and expending nearly half a million in my own county.

This fact is conclusively demonstrated by the Government returns.

As to the National League—with all its paraphernalia of boycotting, shooting from behind a hedge, merciless beating, shooting in the legs, and other similar variations of Irish Home Rule, on which I shall dwell in a later chapter—being only a protector of the weak tenant against the hard landlord, I think one fact will prove more forcibly than any argument the fallacy of such an assertion.

There were two estates in Kerry let at a much lower rate than any others in the county—those of Lord Cork and Colonel Oliver.

Colonel Oliver's agent was the only one fired at in Kerry in 1886, and Lord Cork's agent was the only one obliged to employ over two hundred police to protect him in endeavouring to recover in 1887 rent which was due in 1884. This rent was due on land let at considerably under the Poor Law valuation, and the rents were only half what was paid in 1860.

These cases afford a decided proof that the Land or National League carries on its government irrespective of high or low rents, and the 'Plan of Campaign' is worked according as the local branches of the League have disciplined or terrorised the inhabitants of a district, the orders from 'headquarters' depending on the probability of success.

I should like to retort on Mr. Laing that, while the evidence before the Land Commissioner proved the rental of Ireland was diminishing, that of the country where his own property lay increased to an unusual degree. I do not say the landlords confiscated the tenants' improvements, possibly they made none. But figures are hard facts, and they prove three things:—

First, that Kerry landlords spent L453,539 on improvements. Secondly, that the rental of Kerry was lower in 1880 than in 1840. Thirdly, that the rental of Orkney increased 194 per cent. during that time.

On the south-west coast of Kerry lie the Blasquets, a group of islands the property of Lord Cork, one of them inhabited by some twenty-five families. The old rental was L80, which was regularly paid. This was reduced by Lord Cork to L40, the Government valuation being L60. Now this island reared about forty milch cows, besides young cattle and sheep, and at the period when might meant right in Ireland the inhabitants, having some surplus stock, took possession of another island to feed them on.

This island was let to another man, but he was not able to resist the tenants any more than the mouse nibbling a piece of cheese is able to fight a cat.

For ten years up to 1887 those tenants paid no poor rate. They successfully resisted the payment of county cess, to the detriment of their fellow taxpayers, and they only paid one half year's rent out of six, and that not until they had been served with writs. And these people, in the year 1886, sent a memorial to the Government to save them from starvation.

This is a remarkable case, and proves that poverty and the cry of starvation are not always the result of rents and taxes, as the Irish patriots and their English separatist allies so frequently assert.

I am going to quote a colloquy overheard at a Kerry fair to show how deeply the teaching of Messrs. Parnell, Gladstone, Dillon, Morley, Davitt, Biggar, and Company has taken root in the Irish mind.

Jim from Castleisland meeting Mick from Glenbeigh, asks:—

'Well, Mick, an' how are ye getting on?'

'Illigant, glory be to the Saints.'

'How's that, Mick? Sure, prices is low.'

'True for you, Jim, prices is low; but what we has we has, for we pays nobody.'

And to that I will add another observation.

Somebody asked me:—

'If Ireland were to get Home Rule, what would become of the agitator?'

I replied:—

'He would be called a reformer, unless it paid him better to clamour for a fresh Union. He'd sell all his patriotism for five shillings, and his loyalty could be bought by a few glasses of whisky.'

And that's the whole truth of the matter.



Davitt called the generation after O'Connell's 'a soulless age of pitiable cowardice.'

I should call the generation that was active in the early eighties 'a cowardly age of pitiless brutality.'

Times had begun to mend in Ireland from 1850, and had continued to do so until the ballot made the country a prey to self-seeking political agitators.

Mr. Gladstone considered that if you gave a scoundrel a vote it made him into a philanthropist, whereas events proved it made him an eager accessory of murder, outrage, and every other crime.

Yet this happened after Fenianism had practically died out in the early seventies.

I myself heard Mr. Gladstone say that landlords had been weighed in the balance and had not been found wanting, for the bad ones were exceptional.

None the less were they and their representatives delivered over to their natural opponents, who were egged on by the Land League and by its tacit or active supporters in the House of Commons.

Emphatically I repeat the assertion that neither Mr. Parnell nor the Land League would have been formidable without the active help of Mr. Gladstone.

Before 1870 Kerry used to be represented by gentlemen of the county. The present members in 1904 are an attorney's clerk, an assistant schoolmaster, a Dublin baker, and a fourth of about the same class.

This was no more foreseen by the landlords when the ballot was introduced any more than we anticipated the way in which we were to be plundered. Many considered that the confiscation of the Irish Church, which had been established since the reign of Elizabeth, was an inroad into the rights of property very likely to be followed up by further aggressions, but we never looked for such a wholesale violation as ensued.

By the Act of 1870 no tenant could be turned out without being paid a sum averaging a fourth of the fee-simple in addition to being paid for his improvements, and there the most observant of us thought the worst had been reached.

When the Act of 1881 was passed, I met Lord Spencer, one of the authors of it, and said to him:—

'This Act will have as much effect in settling Ireland as throwing a cup of dirty water into the Thames would have in creating a flood.'

My words were soon proved right, for the tenants, having obtained half the landlord's property by it, thought that by well working their voting and shooting powers they would get the remainder.

I have been getting away from my own experiences to give my own convictions. When you have meditated for twenty years amid the ruins of what you had been building up all your life long and know that it is due to Irish outrage and English misrule, there is a temptation to speak plainly on breaking silence.

The year 1878 was a wet year and yielded a bad harvest; 1879 was worse. The prosperity of Ireland depends on its harvest, and starvation is the opportunity of the lying agitator.

On July 8, 1880, I gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Agriculture, being mainly examined by the president, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, others on the board being Lord Carlingford, Mr. Stansfeld, afterwards Lord, Mr. Joseph Cowen, and Mr. Mitchell Henry.

Here are some of my statements on a then experience of thirty-one years:—

'The expenditure by landlords on farm buildings is as great in Ireland as in Scotland.'

'In the exceptional state of things I strongly disapprove of tenant-right in Ireland, which, as Lord Palmerston said, is landlord wrong.'

'Small holdings are a very bad thing in Ireland where they are not mixed with large holdings.'

'The distress in Kerry is considerable, but has been considerably exaggerated.'

'Every tenant in Ireland has six months to redeem after he is evicted.'

'I have never known a man leave a farm unless compelled.'

'I contradict the statement that tenants make improvements which tend to increase the letting value of the land.'

'You pay four times as much for spade tillage as for ploughing by horse.'

'Bad farming in Ireland is due to want of education and to the enhanced subdivision of the land. When the farmer gets higher up the social scale he will have more sense than to make beggars of his children by subdivision.'

'Distress has not produced the discontent.'

'Almost more land has been sold in Kerry than in any county in Ireland.'

Three months later, in my evidence before the Irish Land Act Commission, in answer to the Chairman, I stated that in my opinion it was simply impossible to arbitrate on rent. I had two tenants of my own whose yearly rent was L20 and whose valuation was L20. One of them in 1880 sold L135 worth of pigs and butter, and the other man's children were assisted in charity from my house, though both had equal means of success.

I also pointed out that there were then 300,000 occupiers of land in Ireland, whose holdings were under L8 Poor Law valuation, and these occupiers when their potatoes failed had nothing but relief works, starvation, or emigration. To give them their whole rent would not meet the difficulty.

I submitted a scheme of purchase, in which Baron Dowse was greatly interested, and I suggested that all holdings under L4 a year should be ejected at Petty Sessions, because it was a great hardship for the tenant of such a holding to have L2, 10s. costs put upon him.

I ended with:—

'There is a case in this county in connection with which there is likely to be very considerable disturbance. A man had a farm put up for sale and a Nationalist bought it at a very low figure, on the understanding that he was to keep it for the man's family; but as soon as he got it he turned Conservative and kept it.'

BARON DOWSE—'Turned what?'


BARON DOWSE—'Rogue, I would say. You would not say that Conservatives are rogues?'

Since that was a debatable point on which the Commission had no jurisdiction to inquire, I returned no answer.

As the distress was alluded to above, I may lighten the recent seriousness of my observations by an anecdote on the topic.

In 1880 the Duchess of Marlborough organised a fund for supplying the people with meal. The Dublin Mansion House did the same, but their meal was of a coarser description.

A Blasquet Islander was asked how he was getting on, and made answer:—

'Illigant, glory be to the Saints. We're eating the Duchess, and feeding two pigs on the Mansion House.'

This recalls the story of the Englishman who inquired of a Kerry man which measure of English legislation had proved most beneficial for Ireland.

'The Famine (of 1879) was the best, beyond a shadow of doubt,' was the reply, 'for I fattened and sold ninety fine turkeys on the strength of it.'

In 1880 some Kerry men did a very good stroke of business. They sent a cargo of potatoes from Killorglin to Scotland and brought them back as imported Champion seed, selling them for six times the original price.

About this period Mr. Leeson-Marshall, who had been away from Kerry and coming back found some cottages near Milltown still only half built, observed:—

'Good God, aren't those houses finished yet?'

'Well, sor,' was the reply, 'the contract's finished but the houses aren't.'

And it has been my life-long experience that ninety-five per cent, of all the penalties in contracts are worthless, as the contractors themselves are only too well aware.

Being a land agent, I wish to provide some account from another pen of my stewardship, for which said stewardship I was falsely called 'the most rack-renting agent in Ireland.'

Out of Mr. Finlay Dun's book, from which I have previously quoted, I condense the following from the chapter he devoted to the estates for which I was agent.

He observes that in 1881 my firm had the supervision of eighty-eight estates, upwards of three thousand farming tenants, and annually collected rents to the value of a quarter of a million sterling. From the particulars I furnished him he deduces:—

'So recently as the end of November the Lady Day rents had been well paid up; old arrears had been reduced; on two estates in the Court of Chancery L6000 had been collected with only a few shillings in default. Dairy farmers prospering had been particularly well able to pay rents and other claims. More recent rent collections, unfortunately, were not so satisfactory. Tenants generally had earned the money, but had not been allowed to pay it over.

'Many of the low-rented estates were badly farmed and the tenantry in low water. On the higher rented, the struggle for existence had brought out extra industry and energy and led to fair success.'

The following provided an apt illustration:—

'Mr. Gould Adams of Kilmachill had a small estate on the north side of a hill rented at 20s. an acre; the rents were paid up, the tenants doing well. On the southern aspect of the same hill, with better land, at the devoutly desiderated Griffith's valuation, which was 16s. 4d., the tenants were invariably hard up, some of them two years in arrears. All tenants had free sale, averaging five years' rent.

'The larger proprietors, as a rule, were most helpful and liberal to their tenants. Where improvements were not effected or initiated by the landlords, they were seldom done at all. There had often been considerable difficulty in overcoming the prejudice and "the rest-and-be-thankful" spirit both of landlords and tenants.

'On Sir George Colthurst's Ballyvourney estate, twenty miles east of Killarney, under Mr. Hussey's auspices about L30,000 had been expended in draining, building, and roadmaking. The economic value of many holdings had been doubled, although the rents had only been increased five per cent., and subsequently the Commissioners fixed the rents at 25 per cent. less than they had been fifty years earlier.

'The extending village of Mill Street had been in great measure reconstructed by his exertions.

'The Land League having enforced non-payment of rent, the obligation to meet other debts was weakened. Although there was more money than usual in the hands of the farming community, shopkeepers were not so willingly and promptly paid as formerly. Want of security checked the improved business which should have set in after a good harvest. The Land League agitation generally originated with the publicans, small shopkeepers, and bankrupt farmers, rather than with the actual land occupiers. For peace and protection, many pay their subscription to the League and allow their names to be enrolled. The intimidation and 'boycotting,' which was so widely had recourse to, rendered it dangerous for either farmers or tradesmen to make a stand against the mob. With Sam Weller it was regarded expedient to shout with the biggest crowd.'

Thus wrote a critical visitor keenly surveying the situation in no prejudiced spirit, having gone on a visit to Ireland to inquire into the subjects of land tenure and estate management.

In his next chapter is a tribute to Lord Kenmare, 'a kind and considerate landlord, united to his people by strong ties of race and creed, residing for a great part of the year on his estates, ready with purse and influence to advance the interests of his neighbourhood. On his mansion and on the town of Killarney, since his accession to the property in 1871, he has spent L100,000. At his own expense he has erected a town hall, and improved and beautified Killarney. Within the last twenty years L10,000 of arrears have been written off. From last year's rents ten to twenty per cent, was deducted. During the last few years of distress, L15,000 has been borrowed for draining and other improvements; regular work has thus been found for the labourer; on such outlay in many instances no percentage has been charged. Since 1870, three hundred labourers have been comfortably housed and provided with gardens or allotments varying from one to three pounds annually.'

I could not myself so tersely put the situation to-day as by quoting this contemporary narrative, the facts for which I supplied.

Once more let me draw upon Mr. Finlay Dun. 'Unmindful of all this consistent liberality, ungrateful for the great efforts to improve his poorer neighbours, popular prejudice has been roused against Lord Kenmare; it has been impossible to collect rents; threatening letters have been sent to him. Mortified with the apparent fruitlessness of his humane endeavours he has been compelled to leave Killarney House.

'His agent, Mr. Hussey, who for twenty years has been earnestly and intelligently labouring to improve Irish agriculture, to bring more capital to bear on it, to render it more profitable, and has, besides, most energetically striven to elevate and house more decently the labouring population, has also brought down on himself the odium of the powers that be. For months he has had to travel armed and guarded by a couple of constables; now he has thought it discreet to leave the country.'

This, however, is erroneous. I only took a house for my family in London for the winter, and was backwards and forwards between Kerry and the metropolis.

Against all this let me set another quotation. In New York Tablet for 1880, a letter from Daniel O'Shea, who stated that for a large number of years he was a resident in Killarney.

'Among the most prominent tyrants was Lord Kenmare, who has so recently surpassed himself and his antecedents in despotism. He is a lineal descendant of the original land thief, Valentine Brown, who was a special pet of 'the Virgin Queen' Bess, and strange to relate, this descendant of that Brown is a much-favoured pet of John Brown's Queen. Let me explain that he lives with the Queen in London where he holds the position of chamberlain (sic) ... At Aghadoe House now resides that ruthless Sam Hussey. Allow me to give you an outline of this heartless fellow's antecedents. This Hussey is of English origin and was formerly a cattle-dealer, and practised usury as far back as 1845. If all Ireland were to be searched for a similar despot he would not be found. He is a regular anti-Christ and Orangeman at heart, and, in fact, he acts as agent for all the bankrupt landlords in Kerry. An English-Irish landlord is an alien in heart, a despot by instinct, an absentee by inclination; and all the foul confederacy of landlordism in Kerry is always in direct opposition to the cause of Ireland.'

There is a copious mendacity about that effusion which makes me think the real mission of the writer should have been to become an Irish Member of Parliament. His powers of misrepresentation would have raised him to an eminence among obstructionists.

After all, scurrilous denunciation never affected me. His life by Sir Wemyss Reid reveals how Mr. W.E. Forster flinched under the vituperation levelled at his head. But he was not an Irishman, least of all a Kerry man, and so he never felt the fun of the fray, the grim earnest of the fight which made me set my teeth and give as good as I received. Indeed, I'll take my oath no man had the better of me, either in bandying words or yet in acts, so long as they were open and above-board, but it has always been the way of sedition and conspiracy to hit below the belt.



Once launched upon memories of those horrible perpetrations by so-called Christians, which disgraced alike my native country and all Christendom (because the criminals nominally worshipped the same God, and professed reverence to Him), I could enumerate instances until I had filled a volume.

You know how the Ghost told Hamlet that he could a tale unfold, whose lightest word would harrow up his soul. Why, I could tell five score, and still not have exhausted the roll of crime.

As my experience is mainly connected with Kerry, it is characteristically Irish for me to start with an example from County Cork. The outrage was on the Rathcole estate of Sir George Colthurst. The rental was L1500, and the landlord had expended L10,000 on improvements, so that it was not to be wondered that the labourers should meet to celebrate their employer's marriage.

Nor to any one knowing Ireland was it surprising that the Land League should have despatched one of their well-armed bands to fire on them for so doing.

This was apparently a challenge to Kerry not to be outdone in barbarity by Cork, her neighbour and rival.

Kerry was quite equal to current demands on her inhumanity.

A labourer of the M'Gillycuddys was visited by another Land League detachment and had his ear, a la Bulgaria, cut clean off to the bone, because he worked on a farm from which a tenant had been evicted.

The next night a small Protestant farmer near Tralee found his best cow tortured and killed because he had sold milk to the police.

On the same night a farmer's house was sacked because he had bought some 'boycotted' hay.

Still on the same night, at Millstreet, another Land League gang attacked a house, one of the Land League police being killed, and one of the Crown police wounded.

In fact, all law save Land League law was for a time at an end in Munster.

At one Kerry Assize, a criminal caught by four policemen in the very act of breaking into a house, was acquitted, and at the Cork Assize the Crown Prosecutor, after half a dozen acquittals, announced he would not continue the farce of putting criminals on their trial.

I mentioned boycotting just now, but I am tempted to pause, because a new generation that knows not Parnellism, nor the extent of crime in that unhappy period, may not be aware of the origin of the term.

Captain Boycott was agent for Lord Erne's Mayo estates, and laid out the whole of his capital L6000, in improving and stocking his own property. Because, in the course of his duty, he served some ejectment notices, he was denounced by the Land League, his farm servants were terrorised into leaving his employment, and when he imported fifty labourers from the north of Ireland to save his crops, the Government had to despatch a small army corps of troops and constabulary to protect them. So great was the power of the League, that even in Dublin the landlord of a hotel declined to let him stop more than twenty-four hours in the house, as he was threatened if he ventured to harbour him. For the protection of his life and no more, the unfortunate gentleman had to leave the country.

Baron Dowse said in charging the Grand Jury of the Connaught Western Assize, that this case had 'excited the wonder and amazement of a great part of the United Kingdom and the sorrow of a considerable portion of Ireland.' Very soon the name of Boycott was given to the approved method of actively sending a man to Coventry, or threatening his life and property as well as refusing to permit him to be supplied with even the bare necessities of existence.

Baron Dowse, a man who had no fear of unmanly criminals, justly styled this a reign of terror.

Kerry is divided into six Poor Law Unions, three of them—Kenmare, Cahirciveen and Dingle—are very poor districts; but there was practically not an outrage in them. Killarney, Tralee and Listowel are rich by comparison, Tralee being the richest of the three, and Castleisland the wealthiest portion of the district. There were nearly as many outrages there as in the whole of the rest of the country, which shows that poverty was not the cause.

I was in and out of Castleisland, but though I had a sheaf of threatening letters, I never met with any insults or received a threat to my face.

Only once did I overhear any hostile mutterings. This was when I was driving out of Tralee, and my coachman stopped to give a message in the dusk at a house on the outskirts of the town.

Suddenly two or three men came up, and one said:—

'Now's the time to settle old Hussey.'

Old Hussey—to use their accurate nomenclature—popped his head out of the window, and also his right hand which held a most serviceable revolver and invited them to come on.

They did not. In fact they scattered with a rapidity which proved they had not imbibed enough whisky to affect their legs or give them courage.

This will show that my business—to collect what was due to the landlords I represented—was not always agreeable work or always easy. But my duty was to get in rents, and so I got them, whenever I could.

The tenants did not all pay direct, for many were far too frightened. Quite a number, even of the Roman Catholics, used to send the money through the Protestant clergy.

How they settled this in the confessional I do not know, possibly it was a trifle they did not consider worth troubling the priest with.

Three tenants on Lord Kenmare's estate came into my office on one occasion, and said they would like to pay their rent, but were afraid of the Land League.

I treated their fears as arrant nonsense, but told them to come and argue it out with me in my own room.

So soon as they could not be seen by any one they paid up.

Within a few days an armed party went to their houses and shot the three in their legs.

One man's life was despaired of for some time, but finally they all recovered.

This outrage was a rather late one, because the Land League latterly decided to shoot objectionable characters only in the legs, because though a fuss was made at the time, if a man was killed it was soon forgotten afterwards, whereas a lame man was a lifelong testimony to their power.

There is a man hobbling about Castleisland to this day, who was peppered in this comparatively humanitarian way. I am quite sure he would say such a comparison had proved odious.

Judge Barry very truly said that a thatched cabin on a mountain-side was not much of a place of defence, and if the tenant was supposed to have paid his rent, he would be told to run out with probably three men standing at the door to shoot him. That was terrorism as inculcated by the so-called friends of Ireland.

Mr. Forster in his plucky speech to the crowd at Tullamore, said:—

'I went when I was at Tulla to the workhouse, and there saw a poor fellow lying in bed, the doctors around him, with a blue light over his face that made me feel that the doctors were not right, when they told me he might get over it. I felt sure that he must die, and I see this morning that he has died. But why did that man die? He was a poor lone farmer. I believe he had paid his rent—I believe he had committed that crime. He thought it his duty to pay. Fifteen or sixteen men broke into his house in the middle of the night, pulled him out of his bed and told him they would punish him. He himself, lying in his death agony as it were, told me the story. He said, "My wife went down on her knees and said, 'Here are five helpless children, will you kill their father?'" They took him out, they discharged a gun filled with shot into his leg, so closely that they shattered his leg.'

Now there were dozens of instances of that kind of thing in Kerry.

Mr. Parnell started the whole vile crusade, when at Ennis he gave the advice to shun any man who had bid for a farm from which a tenant had been evicted.

'Shun him in the street, in the shop, in the marketplace, even in the place of worship, as if he were a leper of old.'

His words were implicitly obeyed, and outrage followed mere boycotting till the rapid succession of crimes prevented each one having its full effect in horrifying civilised Europe.

A very bad case occurred in Millstreet.

Jeremiah Haggerty was a large farmer and shopkeeper. There was no objection to him, except that he declined to join the Land League, for which his shop was boycotted, which he told me meant the loss of a thousand a year to him, but the League failed to boycott his farm, because he was too good an employer.

He was fired at coming into Millstreet, and the outrage had been so openly planned, that it was talked of on the preceding evening in every whisky store.

On another occasion he was leaving Millstreet station, about a mile from the town, and when about twenty yards from the station he was fired at and forty grains of shot lodged in the back of his head, neck, and body. As it was twilight, a railway porter obligingly held up his lantern to give the miscreants a better view of their victim.

He was a man of most honourable and upright character, who had worked his way up, and he has now regained his popularity. He started as a clerk in quite a small way, and must now be worth a very large sum of money. I was instrumental in getting him made a magistrate, and I have the greatest respect for him.

I regard this as a decidedly serious example, because of the popularity of the victim, and also because he had offended no one by word or deed. Still, there were, of course, many instances which were even more outrageous.

A farmer, name of Brown, was shot at Castleisland. Two men were arrested for the murder, and were twice tried before Cork juries. The first disagreed, but the second found them guilty.

A subscription was made up for the families of the two murderers, to which contributions were made by the leading shopkeepers of several neighbouring towns. For several years afterwards, Mrs. Brown could not get a man to dig her potatoes, nor a woman to milk her cows, although she had tendered no evidence at the trial, and it was clearly proved that Brown had given no cause of offence.

But, as a Land Leaguer said to me, it was suspected that he might be in a position to do so.

Red Indians, or any other barbarians you can think of, would not have been guilty of wreaking vengeance on the widow of an innocent murdered man, nor of endowing the wives of his assassins.

Here is another murder story.

A caretaker on an evicted farm on the property of Lord Cork, near Kanturk, was murdered for taking charge of it.

The evicted tenant had owed eleven years' rent.

Lord Cork had agreed to accept one year's rent in full acquittal, and so good a landlord was he, that the neighbours of the debtor offered to make up the amount to that sum.

The tenant firmly declined to pay, because he said another year would bring him within the statute of limitations.

So then he had to be evicted.

Two men were clearly identified as having perpetrated the unprovoked crime of assassinating the temporary occupant of the property, and were arrested.

The Gladstonian Attorney-General, in order to curry popularity, declined to challenge the jury, when the first man was put on his trial. Consequently three cousins of the prisoner were impanelled, the jury disagreed, and the wretch bolted to America that same night.

The second man, though less guilty, was duly tried before a challenged jury, and not only sentenced but hanged.

He was the organiser of outrages for Cork, and his brother held the similar delectable office for Kerry. A good deal of the impunity with which crime was committed was due to the change in the jury laws, by which so low a class of man was summoned into the box, that criminals began to consider conviction impossible. To my mind it was quite worth the consideration of the Cabinet of the time, whether trial by jury ought not to be abolished in Ireland—indeed, even to-day, I can see few reasons for its retention and many for its abolition.

Anyhow in the bad times I am now dealing with, to send persons for trial before a jury was but to advertise the weakness of the law.

Two men at Tralee were suspected of having paid their rent to me, and in spite of their assurances that they were quite innocent and had not paid a farthing for two years, it was necessary for the police to escort them after nightfall to their homes about four miles away, and to advise them not to venture into the town for a long while after.

One of the worst features, however, of all this terrible period was that helpless girls and women were victims as well as men, I know of a case where some ruffians entered the house of a family at night, went into the bedroom of one of the girls, seized her violently, forced her on her knees, and held her in that position while one of the gang cut off her hair with shears, and then poured a quantity of hot tar on her head before entering the bedroom of her sister to do the same.

A similar fate befell two girls named Murphy merely because they were suspected of speaking to a policeman.

A man named Finlay was boycotted and then shot dead, and the neighbours jeered and laughed at his wife, when in her agony she was wringing her hands in grief.

The poor woman went into the street and knelt down crying:—

'The curse of God rest upon Father —— for being the cause of my husband's murder.'

The priest had denounced him from the altar on the previous Sunday.

'Carding' has always been a favourite Irish form of physically insinuating to a man that he is not exactly popular. It consists of a wooden board with nails in it being drawn down the naked flesh of a man's face and body. This foul torture was often heard of, and it has been whispered that women and even girls have been the victims of this atrocity.

The merciful man is proverbially merciful to his beast, and those who showed mercy to neither man nor woman had none on the dumb animals owned by their victims.

A valuable Spanish ass belonging to Mr. M'Cowan of Tralee was saturated with paraffin, set on fire, and horribly burned.

A farmer named Lambert found the shoulder of a heifer had been smashed by some blunt instrument like a hammer. I myself had a couple of cows killed and salted.

Indeed cattle outrages became incidents of nightly occurrence. Tenants in all disturbed counties, besides having their houses burnt, saw their cattle so horribly mutilated that the poor dumb creatures had to be killed to put them out of their misery. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have no chance of obtaining general support among the lower classes in Kerry, where beasts belonging to your enemy are simply regarded as so many goods and chattels, to be as badly damaged as possible.

It is a curious thing that the Irish and the Italian are the two most poetic and most sensitive races of Europe, and also are the two which exhibit the greatest indifference to the sufferings of dumb animals.

The distress in Kerry, of course, in the winter of 1879 had been as great as in the more famous famine, and I have heard the theory advanced in a London drawing-room that physical suffering renders uneducated people indifferent to any torture endured by animals. Personally, I should have thought a fellow feeling made us wondrous kind.

Reverting to matters with which I had more personal connection, an interesting episode occurred in June 1881, when The O'Donoghue moved the adjournment of the House of Commons to force a debate upon the subject of Lord Kenmare's estate, and I wrote a letter in the Times in reply, from which may be condensed the following facts:—

On the Cork estate, from 1878 to 1881, the evictions did not average one for each year for every two hundred tenants.

On the Limerick estate for five years there have been no evictions.

On the Kerry estate, since he succeeded (in 1871), Lord Kenmare has expended L67,115 on drainage, road-making, and building cottages. The evictions have been about one in five hundred in every half year. The abatements, allowances, and expenditure in 1878, '79, '80, and '81, exclusive of what was spent on the house and demesne, were, L33,645, and I am under the mark when I say that, altogether, for these years of distress, Lord Kenmare spent more on his Kerry estates than he received out of it; yet for this, Land League meetings were held on his estate, and he was denounced in Parliament. The week that the Land League compelled Lord Kenmare to discontinue his employment to labourers, the weekly labour bill was L460.

There is no need to trouble readers with any further correspondence on a topic on which no one could answer me except by abuse, which is no argument; nor will I inflict any of the letters in which Mr. Sexton was clearly proved in the wrong when he misrepresented the case of Pat Murphy of Rath.

As an example of the state of affairs, in Millstreet—a mere village—there were thirty cases of nocturnal raid in the month of August 1881, even while it was engaging the attention of Mr. T.O. Plunkett, R.M., Mr. French, chief of the detective department, two sub-inspectors, thirty-five constabulary, and fifty men of the 80th Regiment.

In the Daily Telegraph, with reference to the murder of Gallivan, near Castleisland, this remark appeared in a leader:—

'Horror-stricken humanity demands that an example be speedily made of the truculent and merciless ruffian who perpetrated this outrage.'

I quoted this in a letter the editor published, adding:—

'A few weeks after that occasion an old man named Flynn was shot within two miles of the place, because he paid his rent. His leg has since been amputated.'

Then I gave the following horrible case:—

On Sunday night the Land League police went to the house of a man named Dan Dooling, who lived within a mile of Gallivan's house, and within one mile of Castleisland, and because he paid his rent on getting a reduction of thirty per cent., he was taken out and shot in the thigh. His wife, who was only three days after her confinement, pleaded for mercy on this account, but these lynch law authorities were deaf to the appeal for mercy, and she did not recover the shock of the entry of these 'moonlight' Thugs. This man could have identified his assailants, but he did not dare.

A good fellow called M'Auliffe, whose arm was shot off, could have done the same. The poor chap could be seen walking about with one arm, deprived of the means of earning his bread, and no doubt moralising over the state of the law, which would compensate him for the loss of his cow, if he had one, but gave him nothing for the loss of his arm.

On Friday, November 18, 1881, two tenants, named Cronin and one O'Keefe, holding land from Lord Kenmare, came into my office in Killarney.

O'Keefe, an old man of seventy, was the spokesman, and said:—

'If you plase, sorr, we have the rint in our pocket, and would be glad to pay it if it were not for the fear that we have of being shot.'

To my lasting regret, I replied:—

'There is no danger. You must pay.'

They did, and on the Sunday week following, a band of marauders, headed by fife and drum, went to the houses of these men, and shot them in the presence of their families. All the flesh on the lower part of O'Keefe's legs was shot away, one of the Cronins was shot in the knee, but the other in the body.

Everybody in the neighbourhood knew the perpetrators of this ghastly outrage, but said:—

'What use would there be in our telling, as the jury would acquit them, and we should be shot?'

Then came this announcement, which caused great excitement in Killarney:—

'In consequence of the difficulty of getting his rents, the Earl of Kenmare has decided to leave the country for the present. All the labourers employed on the estate are discharged, as well as some of the gamekeepers.'

My own opinion was that he showed great wisdom in abandoning the ungrateful locality where only man, debased by the Land League, was vile.

Outside my own folk, I found the people stiffer and less affable than formerly; but at no time had I any difficulty in obtaining or keeping domestic servants, though my wife got the majority from the neighbourhood of Edenburn.

I used to sit, on and off, on the bench as regularly as most of the other magistrates, whenever, indeed, my business permitted me to do so, and to my face no one ventured to abuse me.

Quite late in the bad times when I wanted a decree of ejectment against a fellow, the chairman, desiring to make peace, explained that his hesitation was entirely on my account, to save me from danger.

I replied that I had not quailed all those years, and I was too old to begin; so I had my decree, and that fellow's threats were as contemptuously treated as all the rest.

The Bank had a decree against a tenant of mine, and, having sold him out, entered into possession and put in a caretaker.

He was in occupation about eight hours, when he grew so frightened that he ran away. The tenant then went back into possession as a caretaker, whom nobody dared dislodge, and he promptly went to the Tralee Board of Guardians to obtain a pound a week as an evicted tenant.

At that time two-thirds of the poor-rate was paid by the landlord. When the tenancy was over L4 a year, they had to allow each tenant half the rate he paid; when it was under this sum, they had to pay the whole of it, and, of course, all the rates for land in their own occupation.

Thus the Board of Guardians were utilising the money of the landlords in order to remunerate the men who were robbing them of their property.

If a tenant—who generally had some money—was evicted, a notice was served on the relieving officer to provide him with a conveyance, in which he was taken to the poorhouse; but if a farmer evicted a labourer—who had, perhaps, nothing but the suit of clothes in which he stood up—he was allowed to walk to the poorhouse as best he might, and, when he got there, he obtained no special relief.

It is true that the passing of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act offered another opportunity to the Government for striking a severe blow, but it was frittered away, although, before it became law, many of the leaders of disorder left the country, dreading its provisions.

Instead, the isolated arrests revealed that the criminals were provided with special accommodation and superior fare.

A district officer, asked by Lord Spencer for his views on the Coercion Act, replied:—

'The only coercion I can perceive, your Excellency, is that people accustomed to live on potatoes and milk are forced to feed on salmon and wine.'

The last outrage I intend to mention in this chapter was a very remarkable one.

There was a contest for the chairmanship of the Tralee Board of Guardians. The Land League put forward a candidate who was at the time an inmate of Kilmainham gaol. The landlords, who at this earlier stage still had some power, conceived that the residence of the Home Ruler would not facilitate his control over the Board, and chose a candidate whose abode was not only more adjacent, but whose movements were unfettered.

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