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Title: Disturbed Ireland - Being the Letters Written During the Winter of 1880-81.
Author: Becker, Bernard H., 1833-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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DISTURBED IRELAND:

BEING THE LETTERS
WRITTEN DURING THE WINTER OF 1880-81.

BY
BERNARD H. BECKER,
_SPECIAL COMMISSIONER OF THE "DAILY NEWS."_

WITH ROUTE MAPS.

London:
MACMILLAN AND CO.
1881.



LONDON:
R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR,
BREAD STREET HILL.



PREFACE.


Having been most cordially granted permission to republish these
letters in a collected form, it is my duty to mention that my mission
from the _Daily News_ was absolutely unfettered, either by
instructions or introductions. It was thought that an independent and
impartial account of the present condition of the disturbed districts
of Ireland would be best secured by sending thither a writer without
either Irish politics or Irish friends--in short, one who might occupy
the stand-point of the too-often-quoted "intelligent foreigner." Hence
my little book is purely descriptive of the stirring scenes and deeply
interesting people I have met with on my way through the counties of
Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Cork, and Kerry. It is neither a
political treatise, nor a dissertation on the tenure of land, but a
plain record of my experience of a strange phase of national life. I
have simply endeavoured to reflect as accurately as might be the
salient features of a social and economic upheaval, soon I fervently
hope, to pass into the domain of history; and in offering my work to
the public must ask indulgence for the errors of omission and
commission so difficult to avoid while travelling and writing rapidly
in a country which, even to its own people, is a complex problem.

           B.H.B.

ARTS' CLUB, _January 6th, 1881._



CONTENTS.


                                                        PAGE
I.
AT LOUGH MASK                                              1

II.
AN AGRARIAN DIFFICULTY                                    18

III.
LAND MEETINGS                                             26

IV.
MISS GARDINER AND HER TENANTS                             52

V.
FROM MAYO TO CONNEMARA                                    70

VI.
THE RELIEF OF MR. BOYCOTT                                120

VII.
MR. RICHARD STACPOOLE                                    153

VIII.
PATRIOTS                                                 160

IX.
ON THE FERGUS                                            166

X.
PALLAS AND THE PALLADIANS                                191

XI.
GOMBEEN                                                  207

XII.
THE RETAINER                                             215

XIII.
CROPPED                                                  225

XIV.
IN KERRY                                                 232

XV.
THE "BOYCOTTING" OF MR. BENCE JONES                      262

XVI.
A CRUISE IN A GROWLER                                    279

XVII.
"BOYCOTTED" AT CHRISTMASTIDE                             307

XVIII.
CHRISTMAS IN COUNTY CLARE                                328


       *       *       *       *       *


  [Illustration: (foldout Map of Ireland, showing author's route.)]

  [Illustration: (foldout detail map of western Ireland, showing author's route.)]


       *       *       *       *       *



DISTURBED IRELAND.

I.

AT LOUGH MASK.


WESTPORT, CO. MAYO, _Oct. 24._

The result of several days' incessant travelling in county Mayo is a
very considerable modification of the opinion formed at the first
glance at this, the most disaffected part of Ireland. On reaching
Claremorris, in the heart of the most disturbed district, I certainly
felt, and not for the first time, that as one approaches a spot in
which law and order are supposed to be suspended the sense of alarm
and insecurity diminishes, to put it mathematically, "as the square of
the distances." Even after a rapid survey of this part of the West I
cannot help contrasting the state of public opinion here with that
prevailing in Dublin. In the capital--outside of "the Castle," where
moderate counsels prevail--the alarmists appear to have it all their
own way. I was told gravely that there was no longer any security for
life or property in the West; that county Mayo was like Tipperary in
the old time, "only more so;" and that if I would go lurking about
Lough Mask and Lough Corrib it was impossible to prevent me; but that
the chances of return were, to say the least, remote. It was in vain
that I pointed out that every stone wall did not hide an assassin, and
that strangers and others not connected either directly or indirectly
with the land were probably as safe, if not safer, on a high road in
Mayo than in Sackville-street, Dublin. It was admitted that,
theoretically, I was quite in the right; but that like many other
theorists I might find my theory break down in practice. I was
entertained with a full account of the way in which assassinations are
conducted in the livelier counties of Ireland, and great stress was
laid upon the fact that the assassins were always well primed with
"the wine of the country," that is to say whisky, of similar quality
to that known in New York as "fighting rum," "Jersey lightning," or
"torchlight procession." It was then impressed upon me that
half-drunken assassins, specially imported from a distant part of the
county to shoot a landlord or agent, might easily mistake a stranger
for the obnoxious person and shoot him accordingly, just as the
unlucky driver was hit in Kerry the other day instead of the land
agent. Furthermore, I was taken to a gunsmith's in Dawson-street,
where I was assured that the sale of firearms had been and was
remarkably brisk, the chief demand being for full-sized revolvers and
double-barrelled carbines. The weapon chiefly recommended was one of
the latter, with a large smooth bore for carrying buck-shot and
spreading the charge so much as to make the hitting of a man at thirty
yards almost certain. The barrels were very short, in order that the
gun might be convenient to carry in carriage or car. This formidable
weapon was to be carried in the hand so as to be ready when
opportunity served; a little ostentation as to one's habit of going
armed being vigorously insisted on as a powerful deterrent.

To any person unacquainted with the humorous side of the Irish
character a morning spent in such converse as I have endeavoured to
indicate might have proved disquieting enough; but those who know
Irishmen and their ways at once enter into the spirit of the thing,
and enjoy it as much as the untamable jokers themselves. Nothing is
more amazing to serious people than the light and easy manner in which
everybody takes everything on this side of the Irish Sea. This is
perfectly exemplified by the tone in which the Kerry murder is
discussed. I have heard it talked over by every class of person, from
a landholding peer to a not very sober car-driver, and the view taken
is always the same. No horror is expressed at the commission of such a
crime, or at the state of society which makes it possible. Nothing of
the kind. A little sympathy is expressed for the poor man who was shot
by mistake, and then the humour of the situation overrules every other
consideration. That poor people resenting what they imagine to be
tyranny should shoot one of their own class instead of the hated agent
is a fact so irresistibly comic as to provoke a quantity of hilarious
comment. As laughter dies away, however, another expression of feeling
takes place, and the slackness of the master in not being ready with
his pistol, and his want of presence of mind to pursue the murderer
and avenge his servant's death, are spoken of with the fiercest
indignation. But nobody appears to care about the general and social
aspect of the case.

Beneath all this humour and a curious tendency to exaggerate the
condition of the West, there undeniably lurked very considerable
uneasiness. It was known that "the Castle" was hard at work, and that,
before proceeding to coercive measures, Mr. Forster was getting
together all the trustworthy evidence that could be obtained as to the
state of the country. As an instance of the absurd rumours flying
about, I may mention that I was in the presence of two Irish peers
solemnly assured that a "rising in the West" was imminent, and not
only imminent, but fixed for the 31st October. Now, who has not heard
at any time within the memory of man of this expected "rising in the
West"? It is the _spectre rouge_, or, to be more accurate as to local
colour, the _spectre vert_ of the Irish alarmist, and a poor, ragged,
out-at-elbows spectre it is, altogether very much the worse for wear.
Flesh and blood could not bear the mention of this shabby, worn-out
old ghost with calmness, and I conveyed to the gentlemen who
volunteered the information my opinion that the _spectre vert_ was, in
American language, "played out." Will it be believed that I was the
only person present who ridiculed the "poor ghost"? I soon perceived
that my scornful remarks were not at all in accordance with the
feeling of the company, who did not see anything impossible in a
"rising in the West," and refused to laugh at the Saxon's remark that
things did not "rise," but "set" in that direction. County Mayo and
parts of county Galway were beyond the law, and could only be cured by
the means successfully employed in Westmeath a few years
ago--coercion. It was of no avail to say that very few people had been
shot in the disaffected counties during the last ten years. The answer
was always the same. The minds of the people were poisoned by
agitators, and they would pay nobody either rent or any other just
debt except on compulsion.

Beyond Athlone the tone of public opinion improved very rapidly, and
in Roscommon, once a disturbed county, I found plenty of people ready
to laugh with me at the _spectre vert_. There was nothing the matter
in that county. A fair price had been obtained for sheep and cattle,
the harvest had been good, everything was going on as well as
possible. There was some talk, it was true, about disturbances in
Mayo, but there was a great deal of imagination and exaggeration, and
the trouble was confined to certain districts of the county, the
centre of disturbance being somewhere about Claremorris, a market
town, on the railway to Westport, and not very far from Knock, the
last new place of pilgrimage. At Claremorris I accordingly halted to
look about me, and was surprised at the extraordinary activity of the
little place. Travellers in agricultural England, either Wessex or
East Anglia, often wonder who drinks all the beer for the distribution
of which such ample facilities are afforded. A church, a public-house,
and a blacksmith's shop constitute an English village; but there is
nobody on the spot either to go to church or drink the beer. At
Claremorris a similar effect is produced on the visitor's mind. The
main street is full of shops, corn-dealers, drapers, butchers, bakers,
and general dealers in everything, from a horse to a hayseed; but out
of the main track there are no houses--only hovels as wretched as any
in Connaught. It is quite evident that the poor people who inhabit
them cannot buy much of anything. Men, women, and children, dogs,
ducks, and a donkey, are frequently crowded together in these
miserable cabins, the like of which on any English estate would bring
down a torrent of indignation on the landlord. They are all of one
pattern, wretchedly thatched, but with stout stone walls, and are,
when a big peat fire is burning, hot almost to suffocation. When it is
possible to distinguish the pattern of the bed-curtains through the
dirt, they are seen to be of the familiar blue and white checked
pattern made familiar to London playgoers by Susan's cottage as
displayed at the St. James's Theatre. The chest of drawers is nearly
always covered with tea-things and other crockery, generally of the
cheapest and commonest kind, but in great plenty. House accommodation
in Claremorris is of the humblest character. At the best inn, called
ambitiously Hughes's Hotel, I found that I was considered fortunate in
getting any sort of bedroom to myself. The apartment was very small,
with a lean-to roof, but then I reigned over it in solitary grandeur,
while a dozen commercial travellers were packed into the three or four
other bedrooms in the house. As these gentlemen arrived at odd hours
of the night and were put into the rooms and beds occupied by their
friends, sleep at Claremorris was not a function easily performed, and
it was some foreknowledge of what actually occurred that induced me to
sit up as late as possible in the eating, dining, reading, and
commercial room, the only apartment of any size in the house, but full
of occupants, most of whom were very communicative concerning their
business. Here were the eagles indeed, but where was the carcass? To
my amazement I found that Mike this and Tim that, whose shops are very
small, had been giving large orders, and that the credit of
Claremorris was in a very healthy condition. Equally curious was it to
find that the gathering of "commercials" was not an unusual
occurrence, but that the queer townlet was a genuine centre of
business activity. We sat up as late as the stench of paraffin from
the lamps--for there is no gas--would allow us. Lizzie, literally a
maid of all work, but dressed in a gown tied violently back, brought
up armful after armful of peat, and built and rebuilt the fire over
and over again. There was in the corner of the room a huge receptacle,
like half a hogshead, fastened to the wall for holding peat--or
"turf," as it is called here--but it never occurred apparently to
anybody to fill this bin and save the trouble of eternal journeys up
and down stairs. It may be also mentioned, not out of any
squeamishness, but purely as a matter of fact, that in the intervals
of bringing in "arrumfuls" of "torrf" Lizzie folded tablecloths for
newcomers so as to hide the coffee-stains as much as possible, and
then proceeded to set their tea for them, after which she went back to
building the fire again. In the work of waiting she was at uncertain
intervals assisted by Joe, a shock-headed, black-haired Celt, who,
when a Sybarite asked at breakfast for toast, repeated "Toast!" in a
tone that set the table in a roar. It was not said impudently or
rudely. Far from it. Joe's tone simply expressed honest amazement, as
if one had asked for a broiled crocodile or any other impossible
viand.

There are, of course, people who would like separate servants to build
up peat fires and to cut their bread and butter; but this kind of
person should not come to county Mayo. To the less fastidious all
other shortcomings are made up for by the absolutely delightful manner
of the people, whose kindness, civility, good humour, and, I may add,
honesty, are remarkable. At Hughes's Hotel the politeness of everybody
was perfect; and I may add that the proprietor saved me both time and
money by giving up a long posting job, to his own obvious loss. But if
a visitor to Mayo wants anything done at once, then and there, he had
better do it himself. I ventured to remark to Joe that he was a
civil-spoken boy, but not very prompt in carrying out instructions,
and asked whether everybody in Connaught conducted himself in the same
way. He at once admitted that everybody did so. "Divil the bad answer
ye'll iver get, Sorr," said he. "We just say, 'I will, Sorr,' and thin
go away, and another gintleman says something, and ye're forgotten.
Dy'e see, now?" And away he went, and forgot everything. Being at
Claremorris, I tried to see a "lister," that is, a landowner and agent
on the "black list." I was obliged to make inquiries concerning his
whereabouts, and this investigation soon convinced me that there was
something wrong in Mayo after all; not the _spectre vert_ exactly, but
yet an unpleasant impalpability. All was well at Claremorris. Trade
was good "presently now," potatoes were good and cheap, poverty was
not advancing arm-in-arm with winter. It was cold, for snow was
already on the Nephin; but turf had been stored during the long, fine,
warm summer, and nobody was afraid of the frost. But the instant I
mentioned the name of the gentleman I wanted to find not a soul knew
anything about him. Farming several hundred acres of land on his own
account, a resident on Lough Mask for seven years, and agent to Lord
Erne, he seemed to be a man concerning whose movements the country
side would probably be well informed. But nobody knew anything at all
about him. He might be at the Curragh, or he might be in Dublin, and
then would, one informant thought, slip over to England and get out of
the trouble, if he were wise. In one of the larger stores I saw that
the mention of his name drew every eye upon me, and that the
bystanders were greatly exercised as to my identity and my business.
In this part of the country everybody knows everybody, and a stranger
asking for a proscribed man excited native curiosity to a maddening
pitch. Presently I was taken aside, led round a corner, and there told
that most assuredly the man I sought had not come home from Dublin
_viâ_ Claremorris. Having a map of the county with me, I naturally
suggested that he might have reached Lough Mask by way of Tuam, and,
moreover, that, having a shrewd notion he would be shot at when
occasion served, he would most likely try to get home by an unusual
route on which he would hardly be looked for. "Is it alone ye think
he'd be going, Sorr?" asked my informant in astonishment. "Divil a fut
does he stir widout an escort." This was news indeed. "He came here,
sure, Sorr, wid two constables on the kyar and two mounted men
following him." I was also recommended to hold my tongue, for that Mr.
Boycott's friends would certainly not tell whether he was at home or
not, and his enemies would probably be kept in ignorance or led astray
altogether. But it was necessary for me to find out his whereabouts.
To go and see whether he was at Lough Mask involved a ride of forty
miles, enlivened by the probability of being mistaken for him,
slipping quietly home, and cheered by the risk of hearing at his house
that he had gone to England. Telegraphing to him appeared useless, as
communications were said to be cut off on the five Irish miles between
Ballinrobe, the telegraph station, and Lough Mask House. As time wore
on, I learned that he had had cattle at Tuam Fair, but that he had not
come home that way for certain. In despair I came on to this place,
where information reached me yesterday morning that, contrary to all
expectations, he had gone on the other line of railway to Galway, and
taken the steamboat on Lough Corrib to Cong, after having telegraphed
to his escort to meet him there.

From Westport to Lough Mask is a long but picturesque drive. I was
lucky enough to secure an intelligent driver and an excellent horse
and car. Thirty Irish miles is not in this part of the country
considered an extravagant distance to drive a horse. I believe,
indeed, that under other circumstances the unfortunate animal would
have been compelled to carry me the entire distance; but I remarked
that when I suggested a change of horses at Ballinrobe I was not only
accommodated with a fresh horse, but with a fresh car and a fresh
driver, who declared that the road to Lough Mask was about the safest
and best that he had ever heard of. Now from Westport to Ballinrobe we
had met nobody but a very few people going into town either riding on
an ass or driving one laden with a pair of panniers or "cleaves" of
turf, for which some fourpence or fivepence would be paid. All seemed
thinly clad, despite the fearfully cold wind sweeping down from the
Nephin, the Hest, and other snow-clad mountains. Crossing the long
dreary peat-moss known as Mún-a-lún, we found the cold intense; but on
approaching Lough Carra came into bright broad sunshine. At Ballinrobe
the sun was still hotter, and as I approached Lough Mask the heat was
almost oppressive. I was not, however, allowed to inspect Lough Mask
House and the ruins of the adjacent castle in the first place. I had
but just passed a magnificent field of mangolds, many of which weighed
from a stone to a stone and a half, when I came upon a sight which
could not be paralleled in any other civilised country at the present
moment.

Beyond a turn in the road was a flock of sheep, in front of which
stood a shepherdess heading them back, while a shepherd, clad in a
leather shooting-jacket and aided by a bull terrier, was driving them
through a gate into an adjacent field. Despite her white woollen shawl
and the work she was engaged upon, it was quite evident, from her
voice and manner, that the shepherdess was of the educated class, and
the shepherd, albeit dressed in a leather jacket, carried himself with
the true military air. Both were obviously amateurs at sheep-driving,
and the smart, intelligent bull terrier was as much an amateur as
either of them, for shepherd, shepherdess and dog were only doing what
a good collie would achieve alone and unaided. Behind the shepherd
were two tall members of the Royal Irish Constabulary in full uniform
and with carbines loaded. As the shepherd entered the field the
constables followed him everywhere at a distance of a few yards. All
his backings and fillings, turnings and doublings, were followed by
the armed policemen. This combination of the most proverbially
peaceful of pursuits with carbines and buckshot was irresistibly
striking, and the effect of the picture was not diminished by the
remarks of Mr. and Mrs. Boycott, for the shepherd and shepherdess were
no other than these. The condition of Mr. Boycott and his family has
undergone not the slightest amelioration since he last week wrote a
statement of his case to a daily contemporary. In fact, he is in many
respects worse off. It will be recollected that about a month ago a
process-server and his escort retreated on Lough Mask House, followed
by a mob, and that on the following day all the farm servants were
ordered to leave Mr. Boycott's employment. I may mention that Mr.
Boycott is a Norfolk man, the son of a clergyman, and was formerly an
officer in the 39th Regiment. On his marriage he settled on the Island
of Achill, near here, and farmed there until he was offered some land
agencies, which occupied so much of his time, that he, after some
twenty years' residence in Achill, elected to take a farm on the
mainland. For seven years he has farmed at Lough Mask, acting also as
Lord Erne's agent. He has on his own account had a few difficulties
with his workpeople; but these were tided over by concessions on his
part, and all went smoothly till the serving of notices upon Lord
Erne's tenants. All the weight of the tenants' vengeance has fallen
upon the unfortunate agent, whom the irritated people declare they
will "hunt out of the country." The position is an extraordinary one.
During his period of occupation Mr. Boycott has laid out a great deal
of money on his farm, has improved the roads, and made turnips and
other root crops to grow where none grew before. But the country side
has struck against him, and he is now actually in a state of siege.
Personally attended by an armed escort everywhere, he has a garrison
of ten constables on his premises, some established in a hut, and the
rest in that part of Lough Mask House adjacent to the old castle.
Garrisoned at home and escorted abroad, Mr. Boycott and his family are
now reduced to one female domestic. Everybody else has gone away,
protesting sorrow, but alleging that the power brought to bear upon
them was greater than they could resist. Farm labourers, workmen,
herds-men, stablemen, all went long ago, leaving the corn standing,
the horses in the stable, the sheep in the field, the turnips, swedes,
carrots, and potatoes in the ground, where I saw them yesterday. Last
Tuesday the laundress refused to wash for the family any longer; the
baker at Ballinrobe is afraid to supply them with bread, and the
butcher fears to send them meat. The state of siege is perfect.

When the strike first began Mr. Boycott went bravely to work with his
family, setting the young ladies to reaping and binding, and looking
after the beasts and sheep himself. But the struggle is nearly at an
end now. Mr. Boycott has sold some of his stock; but he can neither
sell his crop to anybody else, nor, as they say in the North of
England, "win" it for himself. There remains in the ground at least
five hundred pounds worth of potatoes and other root crops, and the
owner has no possible means of doing anything with them. Nor, I am
assured on trustworthy authority, would any human being buy them at
any price; nor, if any such person were found, would he be able to
find any labourer to touch any manner of work on the spot under the
ban. By an impalpable and invisible power it is decreed that Mr.
Boycott shall be "hunted out," and it is more than doubtful whether he
will, under existing circumstances, be able to stand against it. He is
unquestionably a brave and resolute man, but there is too much reason
to believe that without his garrison and escort his life would not be
worth an hour's purchase.

There are few fairer prospects than that from the steps of Lough Mask
House, a moderately comfortable and unpretending edifice, not quite so
good as a large farmer's homestead in England. But the potatoes will
rot in the ground, and the cattle will go astray, for not a soul in
the Ballinrobe country dare touch a spade for Mr. Boycott. Personally
he is protected, but no woman in Ballinrobe would dream of washing him
a cravat or making him a loaf. All the people have to say is that
they are sorry, but that they "dare not." Hence either Mr. Boycott,
with an escort armed to the teeth, or his wife without an escort--for
the people would not harm her--must go to Ballinrobe after putting a
horse in the shafts themselves, buy what they can, and bring it home.
Everybody advises them to leave the country; but the answer of the
besieged agent is simply this: "I can hardly desert Lord Erne, and,
moreover, my own property is sunk in this place." It is very much like
asking a man to give up work and go abroad for the benefit of his
health. He cannot sacrifice his occupation and his property.

There is very little doubt that this unfortunate gentleman has been
selected as a victim whose fate may strike terror into others. Judging
from what I hear, there is a sort of general determination to frighten
the landlords. Only a few nights ago a man went into a store at
Longford and said openly, "My landlord has processed me for the last
four or five years; but he hasn't processed me this year, and the
divil thank him for that same."



II.

AN AGRARIAN DIFFICULTY.


WESTPORT, CO. MAYO, _Oct. 25th._

"Tiernaur, Sorr, is on the way to Claggan Mountain, where they shot at
Smith last year, and--if I don't disremember--is just where they shot
Hunter last August eleven years. Ye'll mind the cross-roads before ye
come to the chapel. It was there they shot him from behind a
sod-bank." This was the reply I received in answer to my question as
to the whereabouts of a public meeting to be held yesterday morning,
with the patriotic object of striking terror into the hearts of
landlords and agents. It was delivered without appearance of
excitement or emotion of any kind, the demeanour of the speaker being
quite as simple as that of Wessex Hodge when he recommends one to go
straight on past the Craven Arms, and then bear round by the Dog and
Duck till the great house comes in sight. Tiernaur, I gathered, was
about fifteen miles to the north-west along Clew Bay towards
Ballycroy. It is called Newfield Chapel on the Ordnance map, but is
always spoken of here by its native name. It is invested with more
than the mere transient interest attaching to the place of an open-air
meeting, for it is the centre of a district subject to chronic
disturbance, and is just now the scene of serious trouble, or what
would appear serious trouble in any less turbulent part of the
country. It is necessary to be exact in describing what occurs here,
as a phrase may easily be construed to imply much more than is
intended. When it is said that the country between Westport and
Ballycroy is disturbed, and that law and order are set at defiance, it
must not be imagined that the roads are unsafe for travellers, or that
any ordinary person is liable to be shot at, beaten, robbed, or
insulted. I have no hesitation in stating that a stranger may go
anywhere in the county, at any hour of the day or night, alone and
unarmed, and that even in country inns he need take no precautions
against robbery. Mayo people do not steal, and if they shot a
stranger, it would only be by mistake for a Scotch farmer or an
English agent. And I am sure that the accident would be sincerely
deplored by the warm-hearted natives. I have thought it well to master
all the details of the Tiernaur difficulty, because it is a perfect
type of the agrarian troubles which agitate the West. In the first
place the reader will clearly understand that English and Scotch
landlords, agents, and farmers, are as a rule abhorred by the Irish
population. It is perhaps hardly my province to decide who is to
blame. Difference of manner may go for a great deal, but beyond and
below the resentment caused by a prompt, decisive, and perhaps
imperious tone, lies a deeply-rooted sense of wrong--logically or
illogically arrived at. The evictions of the last third of a century
and the depopulation of large tracts of country have filled the hearts
of the people with revenge, and, rightly or wrongly, they not only
blame the landlord but the occupier of the land. If, they argue, there
had been no Englishmen and Scotchmen to take large farms, the small
holders would not have been swept away, and "driven like a wild goose
on the mountain" to make room for them. Without for the present
discussing the reasonableness of this plea, I merely record the simple
fact that an English or Scotch farmer is unpopular from the beginning.
Here and there such a one as Mr. Simpson may manage to live the
prejudice down; but that he will have to encounter it on his arrival
is absolutely certain.

This being the case, it is not to be wondered at that when the late
Mr. Hunter, a Scotchman, took a large grazing farm at Tiernaur, his
arrival was at once regarded in a hostile spirit. The land he occupied
was let to him by two adjoining proprietors, Mr. Gibbings, of Trinity
College, Dublin, and Mr. Stoney, of Rossturk Castle, near at hand.
There was a convenient dwelling-house on the part of the farm looking
over Clew Bay towards Clare Island, and all was apparently smooth and
pleasant. No sooner, however, was Mr. Hunter established there than a
difficulty arose. The inhabitants of the surrounding country had been
in the habit of cutting turf and pulling sedge on parts of the
mountain and bog included within the limits of Mr. Hunter's farm. It
is only fair to the memory of the deceased gentleman to state that
such rights are frequently paid for, and that he had not taken the
farm subject to any "turbary" rights or local customs. Accordingly he
demanded payment from the people, who objected that they had always
cut turf and pulled sedge on the mountain; that they could not live
without turf for fuel and sedge to serve first as winter bedding for
their cattle and afterwards as manure; that except on Mr. Hunter's
mountain neither turf nor sedge could be got within any reasonable
distance; and, finally, that they had always enjoyed such right. And
so forth. As this was, as already intimated, not in the bond, Mr.
Hunter, not very unnaturally, insisted that if the people would not
pay him his landlord must, and asked Mr. Gibbings to allow him ten
pounds a year off his rent. The latter offered him, as I am informed,
five pounds. The matter was referred to an umpire, who awarded Mr.
Hunter twelve pounds, an assessment which Mr. Gibbings declined to
take into consideration at all. After some further discussion Mr.
Hunter warned the people off his farm and declared their supposed
"turbary" rights at an end. It is of course difficult to arrive at any
conclusion on the merits of the case. All that is certain is, that the
people had long enjoyed privileges which Mr. Gibbings declared to be
simple trespass. Finally he told Mr. Hunter he had his bond and must
enforce it himself. The unfortunate farmer, thus placed, as it were,
between the upper and nether millstone, endeavoured to enforce his
supposed rights. It is almost needless to remark that the people went
on cutting turf just as if nothing had happened. In an evil hour Mr.
Hunter determined to see what the law could do to protect him in the
enjoyment of his farm, and he sued the trespassers accordingly. I will
not attempt to explain the intricacies of an Irish lawsuit farther
than to note that, owing to some deficiency in their pleas, the
trespassers underwent a nonsuit, or some analogous doom, and went
gloomily away without having even the satisfaction of a fair fight in
court. At the instance of Mr. Hunter, execution for damages and costs
was issued against the most solvent of the trespassers, one John
O'Neill, of Knockmanus--his next-door neighbour, so to speak. On
Friday the execution was put in, and, on its being found impossible to
find anybody to act as bailiff, Mr. Hunter himself asked the
sub-sheriff to put in his name, and he would see himself that the
crops were not removed. This was done, and on the following Sunday Mr.
Hunter went with his family to attend Divine service at Newport.
Leaving Newport in the evening, he had gone not half-way to Tiernaur
when his horse's shoe came off. This circumstance, ominous enough in
the disturbed districts of Ireland, was not heeded by Mr. Hunter, who
put back to Newport and had his horse shod. As he set out for the
second time, the evening was closing in, and as he reached the road
turning off from the main track towards his own dwelling he was shot
from the opposite angle. The assassin must have been a good marksman,
for there were four persons in the dog-cart--Mr. Hunter, his wife, his
son, and a servant lad. The doomed man was picked out and shot dead.
It is obviously unnecessary to add that the assassin escaped, and has
not been discovered unto this day.

Immediately on the commission of the crime the widow of the murdered
man was afforded "protection," as it is called, in the manner usual
during Irish disturbances--that is, four men and a sergeant of the
constabulary were stationed at her house. In course of time, however,
Mrs. Hunter felt comparatively safe, and the constables removed to a
hut about two miles on the Newport road, opposite to some very good
grouse-shooting. There the five men dwell in their little iron-clad
house, pierced with loopholes in case of attack--a very improbable
event. At the moment of writing, four constables are also stationed at
Mr. Stoney's residence, Rossturk Castle, although it is not quite
certain what the owner has done to provoke the anger of the people.
This being the situation, a very short time since Mrs. Hunter elected
to give up the farm and leave this part of the country. The property
is therefore on the hands of the landlord, and is "to let." How bright
the prospect of getting a tenant is may be estimated by the remark
made to me by a very well-instructed person living close by--"If the
landlord were to give me that farm for nothing, stock it for me, and
give me a cash balance to go on with, I would gratefully but firmly
decline the generous gift. No consideration on earth would induce me
to occupy Hunter's farm." In the present condition of affairs it would
certainly require either great courage or profound ignorance on the
part of a would-be tenant to impel him to occupy any land under ban. A
rational being would almost as soon think of going to help Mr. Boycott
to get in his potatoes. For the people of Tiernaur are now face to
face--only at a safe distance for him--with Mr. Gibbings. The cause of
the new difficulty is as follows: Mrs. Hunter having given up the
farm, it was applied for by some of the neighbours, who offered a
similar rent to that paid by her. Either because the landlord did not
want the applicants as tenants, or because he thought the land
improved, he demanded a higher rent. This is the one unpardonable
crime--an attempt to raise the rent. For his own reasons the landlord
does not choose to let what is called Hunter's farm to the Tiernaur
people on the old terms, and the stranger who should venture upon it
would need be girt with _robur et æs triplex_.

Within the last few days this proprietary deadlock has been enlivened
by an act which has caused much conversation in this part of Ireland.
A house on Glendahurk Mountain has been burned down, and the cattle of
the neighbouring farmers have been turned on to the mountain to
pasture at the expense of Mr. Gibbings. Moreover the bailiff has been
warned not to interfere, or attempt to scare the cattle and drive them
off. Thus the tenant farmers are grazing their cattle for nothing,
and, what is more, no man dare meddle with them. The sole remedy open
to Mr. Gibbings is civil process for trespass. Should he adopt this
course he will probably be safe enough in Dublin, but I am assured
that the life of his bailiff will not be worth a day's purchase.



III.

A LAND MEETING.


WESTPORT, CO. MAYO, _Oct. 27th._

The way from this place to Tiernaur is through a country, as a Mayo
man said to me, "eminently adapted to tourists." Not very far off lies
Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain from which St. Patrick cursed the
snakes and other venomous creatures and drove them from Ireland. I was
assured by the car-driver that the noxious animals vanished into the
earth at the touch of the Saint's bell. "He just," said this veracious
informant, "shlung his bell at 'um, and the bell cum back right into
his hand. And the mountain is full of holes. And the snakes went into
'um and ye can hear 'um hissing on clear still days." Be this as it
may, the line of country towards Newport is delightfully picturesque.
The great brown cone of Croagh Patrick soars above all, and to right
and left rise the snow-covered Nephin and Hest. Evidences of careful
cultivation are frequent on every side. Fairly large potato-fields
occur at short intervals, and mangolds and turnips are grown for
feeding stock. Cabbages also are grown for winter feed, and the
character of the country is infinitely more cheerful than on the
opposite side of Westport. Inquiring of my driver as to the safety of
the country, I received the following extraordinary reply, "Ye might
lie down and sleep anywhere, and divil a soul would molest ye, barring
the lizards in summer time; and they are dreadful, are lizards. They
don't bite ye like snakes, or spit at ye like toads; but if ye sleep
wid ye'r mouth open, they crawl, just crawl down ye'r throat into ye'r
stommick and kill ye. For they've schales on their bodies, and can't
get back; and they just scratch, and bite, and claw at your innards
till ye die." There was nothing to be done with these terrible lizards
but to drink an unmentionable potion, which, I am assured, is strong
enough to rout the most determined lizard of them all, and bring him
to nought. It is, however, noteworthy that stories of persons being
killed by lizards crawling down their throats are widely distributed.
There is one of a young Hampshire lady who, the day before she was
married, went to sleep in her father's garden, and was killed by a
lizard crawling down her throat. And, my informant said, the lizard is
carved on her tomb--a fact which makes it appear likely that the story
was made for the armorial bearings of the lady in question.

By a pleasant road lined with cabbage gardens we came on to Newport--a
port which, like this, is not one of the "has beens," but one of the
"would have beens." There is the semblance of a port without ships,
and warehouses without goods, and quays overgrown with grass. Beyond
Newport the country grows wilder. There is less cultivation, and
behind every little shanty rises the great brown shoulder of the
neighbouring mountain covered with rough, bent grass--or sedge, as it
is called here. Grey plover and curlew scud across the road, a sign of
hard weather, and near the rarer homesteads towers the hawk, looking
for his prey. Now and again come glimpses of the bay, of the great
island of Innisturk, of Clare Island, and of Innisboffin. Wilder and
wilder grows the scenery as we approach Grace O'Malley's Castle, a
small tenement for a Queen of Connaught. It is a lone tower like a
border "peel," but on the very edge of the sea. The country folk show
the window through which passed the cable of a mighty war ship to be
tied round Grace O'Malley's bedpost, whom one concludes to have been,
in a small way, a kind of pirate queen. As we approach Tiernaur the
road becomes lively with country folk going to and from chapel, and
stopping to exchange a jest--always in the tongue of the country--by
the way. In this part of the wild road the Saxon feels himself,
indeed, a stranger--in race, in creed, and in language. Now and then
he sees the Irishman of the stage, clad in the short swallow-tailed
coat with pocket-flaps, the corduroy breeches, the blue worsted
stockings and misshapen caubeen, made familiar by a thousand novels
and plays. These articles of attire are becoming day by day as rare as
the red petticoats formerly worn by the peasant women. On the latter,
however, may still be seen, now and then, the great blue cloth cloaks
which once formed a distinctive article of costume, and a very
necessary one in this severe climate. Presently jog by a few men on
horseback, very ill-mounted on sorry beasts, and riding in unison with
the quality of their animals. Men, women and children are in their
Sunday best, and to all outward appearance scrupulously clean. I am
constrained to believe that among the very lowest class--that which
comes under prison regulations--the preliminary washing is counted as
the severest part of the punishment; but the evidence of my own
eyesight is in favour of the strict personal cleanliness of Sunday
folk in this part of the country. Near Tiernaur I find bands of men
marching to the gathering, which is a purely local affair, not
regularly organized by the Land League. But the men themselves appear
to be very strictly organized, to march well, and to obey their bugler
promptly. They are all in Sunday clothes, wear green scarves, and
carry green banners. The latter are inscribed with various mottoes
proper to the occasion. On the Kilmeena banner appears, "No prison
cell nor tyrant's claim Can keep us from our glorious aim." The
Glendahurk men proclaim on another green banner, bearing the harp
without the crown, that "Those who toil Must own the soil;" and the
Mulrawny contingent call upon the people to "Hold the Mountain," to
cry "Down with the Land Grabbers," and "God save Ireland." The musical
arrangements are of the humblest kind, and not a single man is armed,
at least outwardly, and not one in twenty carries a stick. All is
quiet and orderly, and the same tranquil demeanour obtains at
Tiernaur, or rather at Newfield Chapel, appointed as the
trysting-place after morning service. In accordance with recent
regulations there is no ostentatious display of police, but everybody
knows that a strong detachment is posted in Mrs. Hunter's house, and
that on any sign of disturbance they will promptly put in an
appearance. On the side of the Government, as on that of the people,
there is an obvious desire to avoid any semblance of an appeal to
force.

The scene at Newfield Chapel is both interesting and beautiful.
Tiernaur lies between the brown mountains and a sapphire sea, studded
with islands rising precipitously from its level. In front lies the
lofty eminence of Clare Island, below which appears to nestle the
picturesque castle of Rossturk. The bay--which is said to hold as many
islands as there are days in a year and one over--presents a series
of magnificent views. One might be assisting at one of the meetings of
the Covenanters held amid the seas and mountains of Galloway, but with
the difference that the faith of the meeting is that of the Church of
Rome, and that the scenery is far grander than that of Wigton and
Kirkcudbright. It is a natural amphitheatre of sea and mountain,
perfect in its beauty, but for one dark spot, just visible--the place
where Hunter was shot. The chapel, modest and unpretending, is a
simple, whitewashed edifice, surrounded by a white wall, over which
gleam, in the already declining sun, the red and black plaid shawls of
the peasant women who have remained after mass to witness the
proceedings. Not a dozen bonnets are present, and hardly as many hats,
for nearly all the women and girls wear the shawl pulled over their
heads, Lancashire fashion. In appearance the people contrast
favourably with those of the inland towns of county Mayo. The men look
active and wiry, and the women are well grown and in many cases have
an air of distinction foreign to the heavy-browed, black-haired Celt
of the interior. Altogether the picture is well worthy of a master of
colour, with its masses of black and green, relieved by patches of
bright red, standing boldly out against the background of brown moor
and azure sea.

The proceedings are hardly in consonance with the dignity of the
surroundings. Many marchings to and fro occur before the various
deputations are duly ushered to their place near the temporary
hustings erected in front of the chapel. When the meeting--of some two
thousand people at most--has gathered, there is an unlucky fall of
rain, advantage of which is taken by a local "omadhaun," or "softy" as
they call him in Northern England, to mount the stage and make a
speech, which elicits loud shouts of laughter. Taking little heed of
the pelting shower the "omadhaun," who wears a red bandanna like a
shawl, and waves a formidable shillelagh, makes a harangue which, so
far as I can understand it, has neither head nor tail. Delivered with
much violent gesticulation, the speech is evidently to the taste of
the audience, who cheer and applaud more or less ironically. At last
the rain is over, and the serious business of the day commences. The
chair is taken by the parish priest of Tiernaur, whose initial oration
is peculiar in its character. The tone and manner of speaking are
excellent, but alack for the matter! A more wandering, blundering
piece of dreary repetition never bemused an audience. In fairness to
the priest, however, it must be admitted that a Government reporter is
on the platform, and that the presence of that official may perhaps
exercise a blighting influence on the budding flowers of rhetoric. All
that the speaker--a handsome man, with a very fine voice--said,
amounted to a statement, repeated over and over again with slight
variations, that the people of Tiernaur were placed by the Almighty on
the spot intended for them to live upon; that they were between the
mountains and the sea; that all that the landlords could take from
them they had taken; "the wonder was they had not taken the salt sea
itself." This was all the speaker had to say, and he said it over and
over again. He was succeeded by his curate, who insisted with like
iteration on the duty of supporting the people imposed upon the land.
Out of the fatness thereof they should, would, and must be maintained.
Other sources of profit there were, according to this rev. gentleman,
absolutely none. The land belonged to the people "on payment of a just
rent" to the landlords. "Down wid 'em!" yelled an enthusiast, who was
instantly suppressed. And the people had a right to live, not like the
beasts of the field, but like decent people. And _da capo_.

Now among many and beautiful and picturesque things Ireland possesses
some others altogether detestable. The car of the country, for
instance, is the most abominable of all civilised vehicles. Why the
numskull who invented the crab-like machine turned it round sidewise
is as absolutely inconceivable as that since dog-carts have been
introduced into the West the car should survive. But it does survive
to the discomfort and fatigue of everybody, and the especial disgust
of the writer. There is another thing in Connaught which I love not
to look upon. That is the plate of a diner at a _table d'hôte_, on
which he has piled a quantity of roast goose with a liberal supply of
stuffing, together with about a pound of hot boiled beef, and cabbage,
carrots, turnips, and parsnips in profusion--the honour of a separate
plate being accorded to the national vegetable alone. It is not
agreeable to witness the demolition of this "Benjamin's mess" against
time; and when the feat is being performed by several persons the
effect thereof is the reverse of appetising. But I would rather be
driven seventy miles--Irish miles--on a car, and compelled to sit down
to roast goose commingled with boiled beef and "trimmings," than I
would listen to a political speech from the curate of Tiernaur. By
degrees I felt an utter weariness and loathing of life creeping over
me, and I turned my face towards the sun, setting in golden glory
behind Clare Island, and lighting up the rich ruddy brown of the
mountain, behind which lay the invaded pastures of Knockdahurk. By the
way this invasion of what are elsewhere deemed the rights of property
was barely alluded to by the reverend speakers, the latter of whom,
after making all kinds of blunders, finally broke down as he was
appealing to the "immortal and immutable laws of--of--of"--and here
some wicked prompter suggested "Nature," a suggestion adopted by the
unhappy speaker before he had time to recollect himself. After this
lame and impotent conclusion, a gentleman in a green cap and sash,
richly adorned with the harp without the crown, infused some vitality
into the proceedings by declaring that the only creature on God's
earth worse than a landlord was the despicable wretch who presumed to
take a farm at an advanced rent. This remark was distinctly to the
point, and was applauded accordingly. It was indeed a significant, but
in this part of the country quite unnecessary, intimation that safer,
if not better, holdings might be found than "Hunter's Farm." As most
of the persons present had come from a long distance, some as much as
fifteen or twenty Irish miles, the subsequent proceedings, such as the
passing of resolutions concerning fixity of tenure and so forth, were
got through rapidly, and the meeting dispersed as quietly as it
assembled. The organized bodies marched off the ground in good order,
without the slightest sign of riot or even of enthusiasm. Men and
women, the latter especially, were almost sad and gloomy--for Irish
people. I certainly heard one merry laugh as I was making for my car,
and it was at my own expense. A raw-boned, black-haired woman, "tall,
as Joan of France or English Moll," insisted that I should buy some
singularly ill-favoured apples of her. As I declined for the last time
she fired a parting shot, "An' why won't ye buy me apples? Sure
they're big and round and plump like yerself, aghra"--a sally vastly
to the taste of the bystanders. It struck me, however, that the
people generally seemed rather tired than excited by the proceedings
of the day--the most contented man of all being, I take it, Mike
Gibbons, who had been driving a brisk trade at his "shebeen," the only
house of business or entertainment for miles around.

As I drove homewards on what had suddenly become a hideously raw
evening, my driver entertained me with many heartrending and more or
less truthful stories of evictions. He showed me a vast tract of land
belonging to the Marquis of Sligo, from which the original inhabitants
had, according to his story, been driven to make way for one tenant
who paid less rent for all than they did for a part. One hears of
course a great deal of this kind of thing from the poorer
folk,--car-drivers, whose eloquence is proverbial, not excepted. My
driver had assuredly not been corrupted by reading inflammatory
articles in newspapers, for, although he speaks English as well as
Irish, "letter or line knows he never a one" of either, any more than
did stout William of Deloraine. His statements, however, are strictly
of that class of travellers' tales told by car-drivers, and must be
taken with more than the proverbial grain of seasoning. I find him as
a rule very quiet until I have administered to him a dose of "the wine
of the country," and then he mourns over the desolation of the land
and the ravages of the so-called "crowbar brigade" as if they were
things of yesterday. Whether the local Press reflects the opinion of
the peasants of Mayo, or the peasants only echo the opinion of the
Press as reproduced to them by native orators, I am at present hardly
prepared to decide. One thing, however, is certain. Not only that
professional "deludher," the car-driver, but tradesmen, farmers, and
all the less wealthy part of the community still speak sorely of the
evictions of thirty and forty years ago, and point out the graveyards
which alone mark the sites of thickly populated hamlets abolished by
the crowbar. All over this part of the country people complain
bitterly of loneliness. According to their view, their friends have
been swept away and the country reduced to a desert in order that it
might be let in blocks of several square miles each to Englishmen and
Scotchmen, who employ the land for grazing purposes only, and perhaps
a score or two of people where once a thousand lived--after a fashion.
It is of no avail to point out to them that the wretchedly small
holdings common enough even now in Connaught cannot be made to support
the farmer, or rather labourer, and his family decently, even in the
best of years, and that any failure of crop must signify ruin and
starvation. Any observation of this kind is ill received by the
people, who cling to their inhospitable mountains as a woman clings to
a deformed or idiot child. And in this astonishing perversion of
patriotism they are supported in unreasoning fashion by their
pastors, who seem to imagine that because a person is born on any
particular spot he must remain there and insist on its maintaining him
and his.

Now, it is not inconceivable that a landlord should take a very
different view of the situation. Whether his estate is encumbered or
not, he expects to get something out of it for himself. It was
therefore not unnatural that advantage should have been taken of the
famine and the Encumbered Estates Act to get the land into such
condition that it would return some ascertainable sum. The best way of
effecting this was thought to be the removal of the inhabitants who
paid rent or not as it suited them, and in place of a few hundred of
these to secure one responsible tenant, even if he paid much less per
acre than the native peasant. I draw particular attention to the
latter fact, as one of the popular grievances sorely and lengthily
dwelt upon is that the oppressor not only took the land from the
people, evicted them, and demolished their cabins with crowbars, but
that he let his property to the hated foreigner for less than the
natives had paid and were willing to pay, or promised to pay, him. He
let land by thousands of acres to Englishmen and Scotchmen at a pound
an acre, whereas he had received twenty-five and thirty shillings from
the starving peasants of Connaught. This was deliberate cruelty,
framed to drive the people away who were willing to stay and pay their
high rents as of old. But the fact unfortunately was that Lord Lucan,
Lord Sligo, and other great landowners in county Mayo had found it so
difficult to get rent out of their tenants that they determined to let
their land to large farmers only, at such a price as they could get,
but with the certainty that the rent, whatever it was, would be well
and duly paid, and there would be an end to the matter. This, I hear,
is the true history of the eviction of the old tenants and the letting
of great tracts of land to tenants like Mr. Simpson on favourable
terms. The landlord knew that he would get his rent, and he has got
it, that is, hitherto.

The story of the great farm, colossal for this part of the country,
leased by Mr. Simpson from Lord Lucan, and now on that nobleman's
hands, is a curious one as revealing the real capacity of the soil
when properly handled. Twenty-two hundred Irish acres at as many
pounds sterling per annum represent in Mayo an immense transaction.
The tenant came to his work with capital and ripe experience, farmed
well, and, I am assured on the best authority, fared well, getting a
handsome return for his capital. So satisfied was he with his bargain,
that he offered to renew his agreement with Lord Lucan if he were
allowed a deduction for the false measurement of the acreage of the
farm, which had been corrected by a subsequent survey. As I am
instructed, there were not 2,200 acres, but the tenant was quite
willing to pay a pound per acre for what was there. Now, an Irish acre
is so much bigger than an English acre that thirty acres Irish
measurement make forty-nine English. Lord Lucan consequently thought
the farm cheaply let, and hesitated to make any allowance. This
negotiation began last spring, but soon became hopeless. The country
about Hollymount and Ballinrobe grew disturbed. Proprietors, agents,
and large farmers required "protection" from the constabulary, and
there was no longer anything to attract capital to the neighbourhood
in the face of a deterrent population. Hence one of the largest and
most popular farmers in Mayo has retired from the field with his
capital, and has left his landlord to farm the land himself.
Apparently Lord Lucan can do no better; for it would be difficult to
find a stranger of sufficient substance to rent and farm twenty-two
hundred acres of land, endowed with sufficient hardihood to bring his
money and his life hither under the existing condition of affairs.

The incident just narrated, moreover, appears to prove that one object
at least of the party of agitation has been achieved. To
politico-economists it will appear a Pyrrhic victory. Capital is
effectually scared from this part of Ireland, and those who have
invested money on mortgage and found themselves at last compelled to
"take the beast for the debt" are bitterly regretting their ill-judged
promptitude. A large farm between this and Achill, or near Ballina on
the north, or in the country extending from the spot where Lord
Mountmorres was shot, towards Ballinrobe, Hollymount, Claremorris, or
Castlebar, could hardly be let now at any price, even where the
neighbours have not actually taken possession, as at Knockdahurk.
Landlords have apparently the three proverbial courses open to them.
They cannot sell their land, it is true; but they can let it lie
waste, they can farm it themselves "if," as a trustworthy informant
said to me just now, "they dare," or they can let it directly, as of
old, to small tenants, who will come in at once and perhaps pay what
they consider a fair rent in good years. It is folly to expect them to
pay at all when crops are bad. And then there is the inevitable delay
and uncertainty at all times which has led to the system of
"middlemen" of which so much has been said and written. The middleman
is that handy person, to the landlord, who assures him of a certain
income from his property by buying certain rents at a deduction of 30
or 40 per cent., and collecting them as best he can. To the landlord
he is a most useful man of business, thanks to whom he can count upon
a certain amount of ready money. To the peasant he appears as a
fiendish oppressor.

Touching this word "peasant," a great deal of misconception concerning
the condition of the people of the West and their attitude towards
their landlords will be got rid of by substituting it for the word
"farmer." It is absurd to compare the tenant of a small holding in
Mayo with an English farmer--properly so called. The latter is a man
engaged in a large business, and must possess, or, as I regret to be
obliged to write, _have been_ possessed of capital. The misuse of the
word farmer and its application to the little peasant cultivators here
can only lead to confusion. The proper standard of comparison with the
so-called Mayo farmer is the English farmer's labourer. In education,
in knowledge of his trade, in the command of the comforts of life, a
Mayo cultivator of six, eight or ten acres is the analogue of the
English labourer at fourteen shillings per week. The latter has nearly
always a better cottage than the Mayo man, and, taking the whole year
round, is about as well off as the Irishman. The future of neither is
very bright. The Wessex hind may jog on into old age and the
workhouse; the Irishman may be ruined and reduced to a similar
condition at once by a failure of his harvest. Neither has any
capital, yet the Irishman obtains an amount of credit which would
strike Hodge dumb with amazement. He is allowed to owe, frequently one
year's, sometimes two years' rent. Indeed, I know of one particularly
tough customer who at this moment owes three years' rent--to wit,
24l.--and will neither pay anything nor go. Now for an English
labourer to obtain credit for a five-pound note would be a remarkable
experience. His cottage and his potato patch cost him from one to two
shillings per week; but who ever heard of his owing six months', let
alone three years', rent? But this is the country of credit; and, so
far as I have seen, nobody is in a violent hurry either to pay or to
be paid, bating those who have lent money on mortgage. And even they
are not in a hurry to foreclose just now.


CASTLEBAR, _Oct. 28._

The marked--I had almost written ostentatious--absence of weapons at
the meetings of the last two Sundays has attracted great attention.
From perfectly trustworthy information I gather that appearances are
in this matter more than usually deceitful. It is impossible to doubt
that the large population of this country is armed to the teeth. Since
the expiration of the Peace Preservation Act the purchase of firearms
has been incessant. At the stores in Westport, where carbines are
sold, more have been disposed of in the last five months than in the
ten previous years, and revolvers are also in great demand. The
favourite weapon of the peasantry, on account of its low price and
other good qualities, is the old Enfield rifle bought out of the
Government stores, shortened and rebored to get rid of the rifling.
The work of refashioning the superannuated rifles and adapting them
for slugs and buckshot has, I hear, been performed for the most part
in America, whence the guns have been re-imported into this country
in large quantities. It is believed that the suppression of arms on
the occasion of large gatherings is due to the judgment of popular
leaders, who are naturally averse to any display which would afford
the Government a pretext for disarming the inhabitants. There is,
however, no doubt that the people of this district are more completely
armed than at any previous period of Irish history. A ten-shilling gun
license enables any idle person to walk about anywhere with a gun on
his shoulder, but this privilege is rarely exercised. Two mornings ago
four men passed in front of the Railway Hotel at Westport with guns on
their shoulders, but such occurrences are very rare, the only
individuals who carry weapons ostentatiously being landlords, agents,
and the Royal Irish Constabulary affording them "protection." This
protection is always granted when asked for, but many landlords have
an almost invincible repugnance to go everywhere attended by armed
police. Lord Ardilaun, I hear, has organised a little bodyguard of his
own people, in preference to being followed about by the tall dark
figures now frequent everywhere in county Mayo from Achill to Newport,
from Ballina to Ballinrobe, and from Claremorris to Westport. Still,
anything like a "rising in the West" is regarded here as chimerical;
and the arming of the people as aimed only at the terrifying of
landlords. No apprehension of any immediate outbreak or collision
with the authorities is entertained in the very centre of disturbance.
It may be added that, owing to the firm yet gentle grip of the
Resident Magistrate, Major A.G. Wyse, late of the 48th Regiment, a
veteran of the Crimea and of the war of the Indian Mutiny, the
Government has this district well in hand, and is kept perfectly
informed as to every occurrence of the slightest importance.
Meanwhile, the possibility of armed resistance to the serving of
civil-bill and other processes is averted by the presence of an
overwhelming body of armed constabulary. Fifty men and a couple of
sub-inspectors attended the serving of some civil-bill processes
towards Newport only a few days ago, and a similar body attended to
witness an abortive attempt at eviction on Miss Gardiner's property
near Ballina.

From all that I can ascertain, the position of the Lord-Lieutenant of
the country is by no means enviable. Having succeeded in losing his
chief tenant and been compelled, in order to farm his own land in
safety, to ask for "protection," he is now embroiled with a portion at
least of the Castlebar people, who think, rightly or wrongly, that the
lord of the soil and collector of tolls and dues has something to do
with providing the town with a market-place. Into the merits of the
question it is hardly necessary to enter. Suffice it to say that the
local Press has taken advantage of the occasion to renew the popular
outcry against "this old exterminator." Perhaps it does not hurt
anybody very much to be called an "exterminator," especially when the
extermination referred to occurred thirty years ago. The instance is
merely worth citing as showing the undying hatred felt in this part of
the country towards those who, acting wisely or unwisely, after the
famine, determined to get rid of a population which the soil had shown
itself unequal to support. There is no doubt that Lord Lucan brought
"a conscience to his work" and made a solitude around Castlebar. "On
the ruins of many a once happy homestead," continues the local scribe,
"do the lambs frisk and play, a fleecy tribe that has, through
landlord tyranny, superseded the once happy peasant." It is also urged
as an additional grievance that the sheep, cattle, and pigs raised by
"the old exterminator" are sent from the railway station "to appease
the appetite of John Bull." Thus Lord Lucan and in a minor degree John
Bull are shown up as the destroyers of the Irish peasant and devourers
of that produce which should have gone to support him in that
happiness and plenty which he enjoyed--at some probably apocryphal
period. Be this, however, as it may, the personal hatred of the
"exterminator" is a fact to be taken into account in any attempt to
reflect the public opinion of this part of Ireland.

Those able to look more impartially on the matter than is possible to
the children of the soil can perceive that the decay only too visible
in many parts of Mayo is due in great measure to causes far beyond
the control of exterminators, or even of the arch-devourer John Bull
himself. In the old time, before the famine and before railroads and
imported grain, this far western corner of Ireland had a trade of its
own. I am not prepared to believe that the enormous warehouses of
Westport were ever filled to overflowing with merchandise, being
inclined rather to assign their vast size to that tendency towards
overbuilding which is a permanent characteristic of a generous and
hopeful people. Perhaps the trade of Westport might have expanded to
the dimensions of the gaunt warehouses which now look emptily on the
sea, but for adverse influences. At the period of the old French war
Westport was undoubtedly a great emporium for grain, especially oats,
for beef, pork, and military stores, which were shipped thence to our
army in the Peninsula. But other sources of supply and improved means
of communication have left the little seaport on the Atlantic, as it
were, on one side, and such vitality as exists in the coasting trade
of this part of the country is rather visible at Ballina than at
Westport. It is quite possible that under the old condition of affairs
the peasant whose oats were in brisk demand for cavalry stores fared
better than his son who fell on the evil days of the famine; but there
can be no doubt that the decline of Mayo as an exporting county can
hardly be laid to the charge of the depopulators of the land. So far
as can be descried through the cloud of prejudice which involves the
entire question, the land was no longer able to feed its inhabitants,
much less afford any surplus for sale or export.

The Marquis of Sligo, whose agent, Mr. Smith, was shot at--and
missed--last year, is almost as unpopular as Lord Lucan, for not only
have most of the people been swept from his country, but the rent was
raised on the remainder no longer ago than 1876. It is probably this
nobleman who was in the mind of the humourist who pointed out that the
shooting of an agent was hardly likely to intimidate that "distant
Trojan," the landlord. The Lucan and Sligo lands in Mayo have,
therefore, been managed on nearly parallel lines, and it is curious to
contrast with them the management of Sir Robert Blosse's estate. This
is another very large property, and has been conducted on the exactly
opposite principle to that pursued by Lords Sligo and Lucan. The
people have been let alone; they retain the holdings their fathers
tilled, and they have tided over bad times so well that their April
rents have, to my certain knowledge, been all paid. What will occur in
November it is unnecessary to predict, but it may be remarked, by the
way, that the Irish landlord, whose rents do not overlap each other,
is in an exceptionally fortunate position.

When I was at Ballinrobe the other day I was much struck with the
unanimity with which everybody had agreed to leave that unfortunate
gentleman, Mr. Boycott, in the lurch. That his servants should revolt,
that his labourers should go away, that strangers should be bribed or
frightened away from taking their place, are things by no means
unparalleled even in the most manufacturing town in England. But that
his butcher and baker should strike against their customer was a new
experience hardly to be explained on any ready-made theory. I confess
that I was so much astonished that I preferred waiting for facts
before committing myself to any explanation. At this moment I have no
hesitation in stating that the tradespeople of the smaller towns in
the west are neither strong enough to resist the pressure put upon
them by the popular party nor very much disposed to defend their right
to buy and sell as they please. On the same principle apparently that
a great nobleman of the Scottish Lowlands has, since the last
election, made his sovereign displeasure known to his tenants, have
the party of agitation made "taboo" any tradesmen who have dared to
run counter to the current of present opinion. When a baker is told he
must not do a certain thing he obeys at once, and, with a certain
quickness and suppleness of intellect, casts about to see how he can
best represent himself as a martyr. "Pay rint, Sorr," said a
well-to-do shopkeeper to me two days ago; "and how are thim poor
divils to pay rint that cannot pay me? And how am I to pay any one
when I can't get a shillin' ov a soul?"

This little incident will explain how the opportunity of shirking
responsibility is seized upon by many. To begin with, the advantage is
with the assailant, for the custom of any one farmer or agent is a
small matter compared with that of the country side. It is therefore
manifestly to the interest of the little shopkeeper to curry favour
with the populace rather than with those set in authority over them.
Again, the petty trader would fain, after the example laid down by
Panurge, pray to God for the success of the peasant in order that he
might "de terre d'aultruy remplir son fossé"--that the till might be
filled if the agent's book remained empty. As I have previously
explained, everybody owes to somebody, or is owed by somebody, in this
island of weeping skies and smiling faces. The peasant owes his
landlord, who owes the mortgagee or the agent. And the peasant has
another creditor--the little trader who works on the credit extended
to him from Dublin or Belfast. Beyond a certain limit the little
shopkeeper cannot go. So he likes to be threatened, to be made
"taboo," to be a martyr, and then presses the tenants who have paid no
rent to the landlord to pay him "as they can afford to, begorra, if
they hould the harvest." This advice of Mr. Parnell's is keenly
relished by many, and has gained him, from a poet, whose Hibernian
extraction speaks in his every line, the incomprehensible title of
"Young Lion of the Fold."

    Young Lion of the Fold,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht,
    Young Lion of the Fold,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht;
    Young Lion of the Fold,
    Bade us the harvest hold--
    We'll do as he has told,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht.

    We'll pay no more Rackrents,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht,
    We'll pay no more Rackrents,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht;
    We'll pay no more Rackrents,
    To upstart shoneen gents,
    Whose hearts are hard as flints,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht.

    Then glory to Parnell,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht,
    Then glory to Parnell,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht,
    Oh, all glory to Parnell,
    Whom the people love so well,
    And his foes may go to ----,
      Says the Shan Van Vocht.

There is an American humourist who once said that "if the lion ever
did lie down with the lamb it would be with the lamb inside of him."
Mayhap this is what the indigenous "pôte" dimly shadows forth from the
mistland of verse. Or has he mixed up the lion with the eagle in a
dovecot?



IV.

MISS GARDINER AND HER TENANTS.


WESTPORT, CO. MAYO, _Nov. 1st._

A trip into the northern part of this county, which has occupied me
for the last three days, has hardly reassured me as to the condition
of the country around Ballina and Killala. The last-named place is
famous for its round tower and that invasion of the French in '98,
which led to "Castlebar Races." Ballina is a town of about six
thousand inhabitants, situate on the river Moy--an excellent salmon
stream which debouches into Killala Bay, the most important inlet of
the sea between Westport and Sligo. Perhaps Ballina is the principal
town in county Mayo; certainly it seems to be the most improving one.
It is, however, a considerable distance from the sea. Just now it is
the seat of a species of internecine war between landlord and tenant,
waged under conditions which lend it extraordinary interest. Exacting
"landlordism" and recalcitrant "tenantism" seem here to have said
their last word. Between a considerable landholder and her tenants a
fight is being fought out which throws a lurid light on the present
land agitation in Ireland.

The landholder referred to is the Miss Gardiner whose name is familiar
in connection with more or less successful attempts at eviction. This
lady, who many years ago inherited a large property from her father,
the late Captain Gardiner, has become a by no means _persona grata_ to
"the Castle," the sub-sheriff, the Royal Irish Constabulary, and her
tenants. She is doubtless a resolute and determined woman, and
possessed by a vigorous idea of the rights of property. If not
descended from the celebrated Grace O'Malley, Queen of Connaught, she
has at least equally autocratic ideas with that celebrated ruler of
the West. For years past Miss Gardiner has been famous as a raiser of
stock, equine and bovine, but unfortunately she has been most
frequently before the public as the strong assertor of territorial
rights. She dwells far beyond Killala, near the village of Kilcun, at
a house called Farmhill. From Westport to Farmhill the country is as
picturesque as any in the West of Ireland. The snow-clad hills of
Nephin and Nephin Beg are in sight all the way from Manulla
Junction--the chief railway centre hereabouts, and the line past
Loughs Cullen and Conn to Ballina, and the car-drive beyond Ballina,
reveal a series of magnificent views. There is, however, something
very "uncanny" to the Saxon eye about Farmhill. The first object
which comes in sight is a police barrack, with a high wall surrounding
a sort of "compound," the whole being obviously constructed with a
view to resisting a possible attack. This stiff staring assertion of
the power of the law stands out gaunt and grim in the midst of a
landscape of great beauty. Autumn hues gild the trees, the wide
pastures are of brilliant green, and on the rough land the reddening
bent-grass glows richly in the declining sun, which throws its glory
alike over snowy hills and rosy clouds. The only blot, if a white
edifice can be thus designated, is the stern, angular police barrack.
In the front inclosure the sergeant is drilling his men; and those not
under drill are watching the domain immediately opposite, to the end
that no unauthorised person may approach it. Like most of the
dwellings in a country otherwise sparsely supplied with trees,
Farmhill is nestled in a grove. But the surroundings of the house are
not those associated in the ordinary mind with a home. The outer gate
is locked hard and fast, and the little sulky-looking porter's lodge
is untenanted. Its windows are barred, and all communication with the
house itself is cut off, except to adventurous persons prepared to
climb a stone wall. From the lodge onward the private road passes
through a poor kind of park, and subsides every now and then into a
quagmire. It is vile walking in this park of Farmhill, and as the
house is approached there is a barking of dogs. Oxen are seen grazing,
and peacocks as well as turkeys heave in sight. The house itself is
barred and barricaded in a remarkable manner. The front door is so
strongly fastened that it is said not to have been opened for years.
Massive bars of iron protect the windows, and the solitary servant
visible is a species of shepherd or odd man, who comes slinking round
the corner. No stranger gentlewoman's dwelling could be found in the
three kingdoms. The spot reeks with a dungeon-like atmosphere. It is,
according to the present state of life in Mayo, simply a "strong
place," duly fortified and garrisoned against the enemy.

It must be confessed that the proprietress who has a police detachment
opposite to her gate, and lives in a house defended by iron bars and
chains, has some reason for her precautions against surprise. She was
shot at through the window of her own house not very long ago. Now
this experience of being shot at acts variously on different minds.
Mr. Smith, the Marquis of Sligo's agent, whose son returned fire and
killed the intending assassin, took the matter as an incident of
business in the West, and is not a whit less cheery and happy than
before the attack at Claggan Mountain. It is also true that Miss
Gardiner is not an atom less personally brave than Mr. Smith. It is
said that she carries a revolver in the pocket of her shooting-jacket,
and only asks for an escort of armed constabulary when she goes into
Ballina. But she, nevertheless, thinks it well to convert her home
into a fortress--perhaps the only one of the kind now extant in
Europe. Here she dwells with a lady-companion, Miss Pringle, far out
of range of such social life as remains in the county, occupied nearly
exclusively with the management of her estate; a matter which, far
from concerning herself alone, entails great vexation, embarrassment,
and expense upon others. The sending of bodies of constabulary half a
hundred strong to protect the officers of the law serving writs on
Miss Gardiner's tenantry is a troublesome and costly business, and has
the effect of stirring up strife and exciting public opinion to no
small degree. As her property is widely scattered over Northern Mayo,
there is generally something going on in her behalf. One day there is
an ejectment at Ballycastle; the next an abortive attempt to evict at
Cloontakilla. In the opinion of the poorer peasantry this eccentric
lady is a malevolent fiend, an "extherminathor," a tyrant striving to
make the lives of the poor so wretched as to drive them off her
estate. "A sthrange lady is she, Sorr," cried one of her tenants to
me. "Och, she's a divil of a woman, entoirely. All she wants is to
hunt the poor off the face of the wor-r-rold." There are, however, to
this question, as to every Irish question, two sides--if not more. If
Miss Gardiner "hunts" her tenants off her estate, Lord Erne's people
are just now trying their best to perform the same operation upon
Captain Boycott.

It is not all at once that Farmhill has become a sort of dreary
edition of Castle Rackrent, oppressing the mind with almost
inexpressible gloom. The owner's feud with her tenants began long
before the Land League was known. It is said in Northern Mayo that her
father was the first of the "exterminators," justly or unjustly so
called, and that the traditions of the family have been heartily
carried out by his heiress. There is perhaps very little doubt that
Miss Gardiner, like Lord Lucan and the Marquis of Sligo, prefers large
farmers as tenants to a crowd of miserable peasants striving to
extract a living for an entire family from a paltry patch of five
acres of poor land; but whatever her wish may be she has undoubtedly a
large number of small tenants on her estate at the present moment. It
is therefore probable that she is somewhat less of an exterminatrix
than the exasperated people represent her to be. In their eyes,
however, she is guilty of the unpardonable crime of insisting upon her
rent being paid. Her formula is simple, "Give me my rent, or give me
my land." In England and in some other countries such a demand would
be looked upon as perfectly reasonable; but "pay or go" is in this
part of Ireland looked upon as the option of an exterminator. Miss
Gardiner merely asks for her own, and judged by an English standard
would appear to be a strange kind of Lady Bountiful if she allowed
her tenants to go on quietly living on her property without making any
show of payment. But this is very much what landlords are expected to
do in county Mayo, except in very good seasons. The majority of the
people in the islands of Clew Bay have given up the idea of paying
rent as a bad job altogether, and these advanced spirits have many
imitators on the mainland. To the request, "Give me my rent, or give
me my land," is made one eternal answer, "And how can I pay the rent
when the corn is washed away and the pitaties rot in the ground? And
if I give ye the land, hwhere am I to go, and my wife and my eight
childher?" This answer, long used as an _argumentum ad misericordiam_,
is now defended by popular orators. No longer ago than yesterday I
heard it averred that the failure of the crop by the visitation of God
absolved the tenant from the payment of rent. The assumption of the
speaker was that landlord and tenant were in a manner partners, and
that if the joint business venture produced nothing the working
partner could pay over no share of profit to the sleeping partner.
Such doctrine is naturally acceptable to the tenant. It signifies that
in bad years the landlord gets nothing; in good years, what the tenant
pleases to give him, after buying manure and paying up arrears of debt
all round. It is, however, hardly surprising that the landlords see
the question through a differently tinted medium. They entertain an
idea that the land is their property, and, like any other commodity,
should be let or sold to a person who can pay for it. Strict and
downright "landlordism," as it is called, as if it were a disease like
"Daltonism," does not see things through a medium charged with the
national colour, and Miss Gardiner is a true type of downright
landlordism such as would not be complained of in England, but in
Ireland is viewed with absolute abhorrence.

As a proof how utterly an exacting landlord puts himself, if not
outside of the law, yet beyond any claim to public sympathy, I may
cite the conduct of Mr. James C. MacDonnell, the sub-sheriff of this
county. I have the story from an intimate friend of that gentleman, on
whose veracity I can implicitly rely. I say this because I did not in
the first place pay much attention to the story, but have since been
enabled to verify it in every particular. Last spring Mr. MacDonnell,
in his capacity as sub-sheriff, was required by Miss Gardiner to serve
notices of ejectment against about a score of her tenants who had not
paid up. There was great excitement when it became known that twenty
families would be evicted from their holdings, and a breach of the
peace appeared very probable. In England the public voice would
possibly be in favour of executing the law at all hazards. Some of the
tenants owed two years' rent. The patience of the landlord was
exhausted. The tenants would neither pay nor take themselves off.
There was no option but to evict them; the sub-sheriff must do his
duty, backed by as large a body of constabulary as might be necessary.
Law and order must be enforced. This would be the view taken in any
other place but this, but in Ireland the matter appeared in a totally
different light. To begin with, the idea of blood being shed in order
that Miss Gardiner might get in her rents appeared utterly
preposterous. Secondly, the two past crops had completely failed in
Mayo. Thirdly, the bad crops of 1878 and 1879 in England had prevented
the Mayo men from earning the English harvest money on which they
entirely depend for their rent, and much more than their rent.
Finally, the sub-sheriff himself, who, despite his being at once a
proprietor, a middleman, and an officer of the law, has won popularity
by sheer weight of character, felt a natural reluctance to enforce his
authority. Compelled to execute the law, he determined to make a
personal appeal to the tenants before evicting them. Accordingly, he
adjured them to get together a little money to show that they really
meant to act well and honestly, and that he would then help them
himself. The matter ended in his advancing them about 140l. out of his
own pocket, on their notes of hand, and paying Miss Gardiner, who
observed that "he had done well for her tenants, but not so well for
her." To the credit of the tenants helped by Mr. MacDonnell it must be
added that all have met their notes save two or three, who among them
owe but 15l. This little story is entirely typical of the kindliness
and honesty of Mayo men, and of their peculiar ideas of right and
justice. Miss Gardiner's tenants would not pay her a shilling; they
were prepared to resist eviction by force, and would have been backed
by the whole country side, but they paid the sub-sheriff with the
first money they got. He had stood their friend, and they could not
act meanly towards him.

As a contrast to this pleasant picture I am compelled to draw one not
altogether so agreeable. I mentioned in a previous letter a
particularly "tough customer" who, owing £24 for three years' rent,
would part neither with a single shilling nor with the land. I thought
this champion of the irreconcilables must be worth a visit, and
foregoing the diversion of a call on Tom Molloy, a noted character in
the Ballina district, I drove out in the direction of Cloontakilla. On
the way to that dismal spot by a diabolical road I passed a homestead,
so neat and trim, standing on the hillside clear of trees, that I at
once asked if it were not owned by a Scotchman, and was answered that
Mr. Petrie was indeed a Scot and a considerable tenant farmer. On one
side of his farm was a knot of dismantled houses, telling their story
plainly and pathetically enough, and on the further side stood a row
of hovels, only one of which was uninhabited. The locked-up cabin had
a brace of bullet-holes in the door, those which caused a great deal
of trouble some time since. A Mr. Joynt it seems, in a wild freak,
fired his gun through the door of the cabin occupied by Mistress
Murphy, who with her children is now about to join her husband in
America. Instead of being frightened the courageous matron opened the
door, issued therefrom armed with a fire-shovel and administered to
the delinquent "the greatest batin' begorra" my informant had ever
heard of. Afterwards the law was invoked against Mr. Joynt, who was
esteemed very lucky in escaping punishment on account of his
ill-health. A little further on, still to the right of the road,
branched off suddenly a narrow bridle-path, or "boreen," as it is
called in this part of the country. It was my car-driver, a
teetotaller, opined on this "boreen," that the irreconcilable tenant,
one Thomas Browne, dwelt. There were doubts in his mind; but,
nevertheless, we turned on to the wretched track, and tried to get the
car over the stones and mud-lakes which formed it. It could not be
strictly called a road of any kind, but was rather a space left
between two deep ditches of black peat-oozings from the bog. Finding
progress almost impossible, we at last forsook the car. I can quite
imagine an impatient reader asking why we did not get out and walk at
first; but the option was hardly a simple one. By walking the horse
and letting the car swing and jolt along one experienced the combined
agonies of sea-sickness and rheumatism, with the additional chance of
being shot headlong into the inky ditch on either side. By taking to
what the driver called "our own hind legs," we accepted an ankle-deep
plod through filth indescribable and treacherous boulders, which
turned over when trust and sixteen stone were reposed on them. It was
at this part of the journey that I saw for the first time the Mountain
Sylph. Some women and children, who looked very frightened, cleared
away towards their wretched dwellings, and the place would presently
have been deserted had not my driver roared at the top of his voice,
"Hullo, the gyurl!" Presently, out of the crowd of frightened people
sprang a "colleen" of about twelve years, as thinly and scantily clad
as is consistent with that decency and modesty for which Irishwomen of
the poorer classes are so justly celebrated. Her legs and feet were
bare, as a matter of course; a faded red petticoat, or rather kilt,
and a "body" of some indescribable hue, in which dirt largely
predominated, formed all her visible raiment and adornment, except a
mass of fair hair, which fluttered wildly in the cutting wind.
Skipping from stone to stone she neared us swiftly, and stood still at
last perched on a huge boulder--an artist's study of native grace and
beauty--with every rag instinct with "wild civility." An inquiry
whether "Misther Browne" was at home was met by the polite answer that
he was from home "just thin," almost instantly supplemented by "Oi
know hwhere he is, and will fetch him to ye, sorr." And away went the
Sylph dancing from spot to spot like the will-o'-the-wisp of her
native bog. She had also indicated the dwelling of Thomas Browne, and
I pushed on in that direction through a maze of mud. At last I came to
a turning into a path several degrees worse in quality than the
"boreen," and concluded that, as it was nearly impassable, it must
lead to the home of the Irreconcilable. As a change it was pleasant to
step from deep slippery mud and slime on to stones placed with their
acutest angles upwards, but a final encounter with these landed me
literally at Mr. Browne's homestead.

It has been my lot at various times to witness the institution known
as "home" in a state of denudation, as my scientific friends would
call it. It is not necessary to go far from the site of Whitechapel
Church to find dwellings unutterably wretched. Two years ago I saw
people reduced to one "family" pair of boots in Sheffield, and without
food, or fire to cook it with if they had had it; and I have seen a
Cornish woman making turnip pie. But for general misery I think the
home of the Browne family at Cloontakilla equals, and more than equals
anything I have seen during a long experience of painful sights. The
road to it as already described, is a quagmire, and the dwelling, when
arrived at, exceeds the wildest of nightmares. Part of the stone wall
has fallen in, and the two rooms which remain have the ground for a
carpet and miserable starved-looking thatch for a roof. The horses and
cattle of every gentleman in England, and especially Mr. Tankerville
Chamberlayne's Berkshire pigs, are a thousand times better lodged than
the family of the irreconcilable Browne. The chimney, if ever there
were one, has long since "caved in" and vanished, and the smoke from a
few lumps of turf burning on the hearth finds its way through the sore
places in the thatch. In a bed in the corner of the room lies a sick
woman, coughing badly; near her sits another woman, huddled over the
fire. Now, I have been quite long enough in the world to be
suspicious, and had it been possible for these poor people to have
known of my coming I should certainly have been inclined to suspect a
prepared scene. But this was impossible, for even my car-driver did
not know where he was going till he started. And as we could not find
the house without the Mountain Sylph, the inference must be in favour
of all being genuine. There are no indications of cooking going on,
and, bating an iron pot, a three-legged stool, a bench, half a dozen
willow-pattern dishes, and a few ropes of straw suspended from the
roof with the evident object of supporting something which is not
there, no signs of property are visible. And this is the outcome of a
farm of five acres--Irish acres, be it well understood. There is
nothing at all to feed man, wife, sister-in-law, son, and daughter
during the winter, and the snow is already lying deep on Nephin.

While my inspection of the Browne domicile has been going on, the
Mountain Sylph has vanished, never more to be seen. Whether she
disappeared in the peat-smoke or sank gracefully into the parent bog
it is impossible to decide; but it is quite certain that she has faded
out of sight. Poor Mountain Sylph! When she grows older, and goes out
to earn money as a work-girl in Ballina, she will no longer appear
picturesque, but ridiculous. She will wear a cheap gown, but of the
latest fashion, and a knowing-looking hat flung on at a killing angle;
and she will don smart boots while she is in Ballina, and will take
them off before she is far on her way to Cloontakilla, and trudge
along the road as barefooted as of old. But she will never more be a
Mountain Sylph--only a young woman proudly wearing a bonnet and mantle
at which Whitechapel would turn up its nose in disdain. But the Sylph
has gone, and in her place stands the Irreconcilable himself--a
grey-haired man with bent shoulders and well-cut features, which
account for the good looks of the Sylph. He is a sorrowful man; but,
like all Irishmen, especially when in trouble, is not wanting in
loquacity. He shows me his "far-r-rum," as he calls it, and it is a
poor place. He has had a good harvest enough; but what does it all
amount to? An acre (English) of oats, mayhap a couple of acres of
potatoes and cabbages, and the rest pasture, except a little patch on
which, he tells me, he grew vetches in summer for sale as green feed
for cattle. Of beasts he has none, except dogs of some breed unknown
either to dog-fanciers or naturalists, and an ass--the unfortunate
creature who is made to drink the dregs of any sorrow falling upon
Western Ireland. Put to work when not more than a year old, the poor
animal becomes a stunted, withered phantasm of the curled darlings of
the London costermongers which excited the kindly feelings of Lord
Shaftesbury and the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.

A Mayo donkey is a wretched creature, and Mr. Browne has a very poor
specimen of an under-fed, overworked race. But there is a cow browsing
in the field, and the tenant hastens to explain that she is not his
own, but the absolute property of his sister-in-law. I must confess
that I cool somewhat after this--inwardly that is--towards the
Irreconcilable in battered corduroys who amuses me with a string of
stories more or less veracious. I am required to believe that "bating
the ass," no living beast on the five-acre farm belongs to the tenant.
The turkeys belong to a neighbour, as do the geese, and there is
neither hen nor egg left on the premises. "And where is everything?" I
naturally ask.

"And the neighbours is good to me, sorr, and they reaped my oats for
me in a day, and carried 'um in a night. And my pitaties they dug for
me, and carried all clane away before the sheriff could come. And when
Mr. MacDonnell did come my wife was sick in bed, and the house was
full of people, and all he could do was to consult the doctor and go
away."

Now, as the basis for a burlesque or Christmas pantomime, in which the
Good Fairy warns the tenant to remove his crops lest the Demon
Landlord should seize upon them--the tenant being of course transmuted
into Harlequin and the landlord into Clown--this would be funny
enough; but it is difficult to see how the everyday business of life
could be carried on under such conditions. The case of Miss Gardiner
against Thomas Browne is one purely of hide and seek. When he owed two
years' rent he begged for time on account of two bad crops. When he
was threatened with eviction he begged time to get in his crop. It was
given to him. It is quite easy to understand that a tenant who has
been thirty years on a little holding thinks himself entitled to great
lenity, especially if his rent has been raised during that period,
and, as this man asserts, his "turbary" rights restricted, and every
kind of privilege reduced. But it has been said by a great literary
and social authority that there are such things as limits. Now this
man, Browne, feeling that he had an execution hanging over him,
contrived to temporise until his grain and potatoes were secured, and
then, aided by the accident of a sick wife, defied the law. The house
was full of people, a doctor said that the woman could not be removed,
and the sub-sheriff, backed by fifty policemen, could make nothing of
the business without incurring the odium of tearing a sick woman from
her bed. He offered the irreconcilable Browne the offer of accepting
the ejectment and remaining in the house as "caretaker," but the
tenant was staunch and would make no terms. The consequence is that
when Miss Gardiner again attempts to evict him she must incur the
considerable cost of a new writ. The condition of affairs now is that
a tenant owing three years' rent, and not having paid a shilling on
account, simply defies the landlord and remains in his wretched
holding, having possibly--for the Irish are an intelligent as well as
good-humoured people--the proceeds of his miserable little harvest to
live upon through the winter months. Mr. Browne is, I doubt me, not
very rigid as to his duties, and takes but an imperfect view of
financial obligations; but he is horribly poor, nevertheless, and is
as much a type of his class as Miss Gardiner of hers.



V.

FROM MAYO TO CONNEMARA.


LEENANE, _Tuesday, Nov 2._

The meeting which took place on Sheehane Hill was only remarkable as
affording an additional proof of the extraordinary faculty of
selection possessed by Western Irishmen. Whether they intend to shoot
a landlord or merely to hold a meeting to bring him to his bearings,
they choose their ground with equal discrimination. In the former case
a spot is selected at the descent or ascent of a hill, so that the
carriage of the victim cannot be going at a sufficient pace to defeat
the marksman's aim, and a conveniently protected angle, with
facilities for escape, is occupied by the ambuscade. In the latter,
either a natural amphitheatre or a conspicuous hill is pitched upon
for the gathering. To the picturesque Mayo mind a park meeting on a
dead flat would be the most uninteresting affair possible unless
vitality were infused into the proceedings by a conflict with the
police, which would naturally atone for many shortcomings. The
meeting at Tiernaur was held in the midst of magnificent scenery, and
that on Sheehane was equally well selected. From the top of the hill,
which is crowned by a large tumulus, the country around for many miles
lay spread like a map; and, what was of more immediate importance, the
small additional hill afforded a convenient spot for posting the
orators and displaying the banners of the various organizations
represented at the meeting. The demonstration, however, could hardly
be represented as successful--not more than a thousand persons being
present. It was weary waiting until the proceedings commenced, the
only diversion being provided by a hare which got up in an adjacent
field. In a moment greyhounds, bull-dogs, terriers, and mongrels were
in pursuit, followed by the assembled people. The hare, however,
completely distanced both dogs and spectators, and was in comparative
safety several fields away from the foremost greyhound, when she
doubled back in an unaccountable manner, and ran into the midst of the
crowd, who set upon her with sticks, and killed her in the most
unsportsmanlike manner. A man next held poor puss over his head as if
she were a fox, and a voice went up "That's the way to serve the
landlords." This ebullition was followed by shouts of "Down wid 'em!"
and the meeting on Sheehane became more cheerful. It was recollected
that O'Connell once held a meeting on the same spot, and that the
hare and the meetings were both mentioned by the prophet Columbkill.

Of the speeches it need only be said that what they lacked in elegance
was made up in violence. The speeches made in the North were oddly
designated "seditious," and every kind of reprisal was hinted at in
the event of Mr. Parnell being arrested. If he were seized, not a
landlord in Ireland would be safe except in Dublin Castle. This kind
of thing, accompanied by shouts of "Down wid 'em!" at every mention of
the abhorred landlords, became very tedious, especially in a high wind
and drifting rain. The meeting gradually became thinner and thinner,
and finally faded out altogether. It is quite true that such
gatherings may have a powerful effect upon the vivacious Celt, but if
so, it is quite beneath the surface, for the people seemed to take
little interest in the proceedings. To all outward show the oratory at
Sheehane produced no more serious impression than that at Tiernaur on
the preceding Sunday. Yet there is something in the air, for the first
thing I heard on returning to Westport was that Mr. Barbour's
herdsman, who lives at Erriff Bridge, had been warned to leave his
master's service. The "herd" (as he is called here, as well as on the
Scottish border) is in great alarm. He cannot afford to leave his
place, for it is his sole means of subsistence, and if turned out in
the world the poor fellow might starve. Now it is a disagreeable thing
to think you will starve if you leave, and be shot if you remain at
your work; but I hear that the "herd" has asked for protection and
will try to weather it out. His master, Mr. Barbour, and Mr. Mitchell
hold each about half of the great farm formerly held of Lord Sligo by
Captain Houstoun, the husband of the well-known authoress. Large
numbers of black-faced sheep and polled Galloways are raised by Mr.
Barbour, who lives at Dhulough, in the house formerly occupied by
Captain Houstoun.

I have just come from Westport to this place, the mountain scenery
around which is magnificent. On the lofty heights of "the Devil's
Mother," a famous mountain of this country, the sheep are seen feeding
almost on the same level as the haunt of the golden eagles who breed
here regularly. I believe that the valley of the Erriff was once well
populated, but that after the famine the people were cleared off
nearly 20 square miles of land to make way for the great grazing farm
now divided between two occupants. As I have stated in previous
letters, the resentment of the surrounding inhabitants at this
depopulation of a vast tract of country is ineradicable. In the
wretched huts which appear at wide intervals on the sea-shore the
miserable people sit over the fire and talk of the old times when they
might go from Clifden to Westport and find friends nearly everywhere
on the road, while now from the last-named place to this--a distance
of 18 Irish miles--the country is simply wild mountain, moor, and
bog, bating the little Ulster Protestant village, not far from
Westport (a curious relic of '98), a few herds-men's huts, and the
police-station at Erriff Bridge. To those who, like myself, love
animals, the drive is by no means uninteresting. As the car jolts
along past "Hag's Valley," a dozen curlews take wing, and a little
further on the shrill cry of the redshank strikes on the ear. Now and
then a hare will start among the bent-grass, while aloft the falcon
rests poised on her mighty wing. But saving these wild animals, the
beautiful blackfaced sheep, and black Galloway calves, the country has
no inhabitants. What little was once cultivated has reverted to rough
pasture, covered with bent or sedge and a little grass, or to bog
impassable to man or any creature heavier than the light-footed fox,
who attains among these mountains to extraordinary size and beauty.
But hares and grouse, and even stray pheasants from Mr. Mitchell
Henry's woods at Kylemore, will not convince the fragment of
population around the great grazing farms that things are better now
than of yore; and there is some reason for believing that disturbance
is to be apprehended in this part of the country. The warning to Mr.
Barbour's unfortunate herd can hardly be a separate and solitary act
of intimidation and oppression. The work of one herd is of no great
matter. But the distinct warning given to the poor man at Erriff
Bridge to give up his livelihood on the first instant is possibly part
of a settled scheme to reduce great grazing farmers to the same
condition as landlords. They are to be frightened away, in order that
squatters may pasture their cattle on "the Devil's Mother," as the
Tiernaur people have done theirs on Knockdahurk. Nothing would
surprise me less than a strike against anybody in this neighbourhood.

If one may judge by the language used yesterday at Westport Fair, at
which I was glad to discover more outward evidence of prosperity than
had yet come under my observation in this part of Ireland, the
landlords and their agents are determined to make another effort to
get in their rents in January. Their view of the case is that the law
must assist them: but whatever abstract idea of the majesty of the law
may exist elsewhere is obviously foreign to those parts of Connaught
which I have visited. It is urged day after day upon me by high as
well as low, that if Sir Robert Blosse and Lord De Clifford can get in
their rents without "all the king's horses and all the king's men,"
other landlords must try to do the same. To prevent misconception, I
will aver, even at the risk that I may seem to "protest too much,"
that this argument is not thrust upon me by the Land League, but by
persons who are proprietors themselves. It is held ridiculous, in this
section of the country, that enormous expense should be thrown upon
the county in order that the rents of certain landlords may be
collected. There is, it must be admitted, a rational indisposition in
the West to ascribe any particularly sacred character to rent as
distinguished from any other debt. This is an agreeable feature in the
Irish character. In some other countries there prevails a preposterous
notion that rent must be paid above and before all things, as a
species of solemn obligation. Until the other day there prevailed in
Scotland the almost insane law of hypothec, which allowed a landlord
to pursue his tenant's goods even into the hands of an "innocent
holder." But there is no argument in favour of the landlord which any
other creditor might not advance with equally good reason. The
butcher, the baker, the clothier, as well as the farmer, the dealer in
feeding-cake and manure, have claims quite as good as that of the
landlord, and, as they think, a great deal better. Tradesmen who have
fed and clothed people, and others who have helped them to fatten
their land and their cattle, think their claims paramount. It is of
the nature of every creditor to think he has the right to be paid
before anybody else. But the landlord, probably because landlords made
the law, such as it is, has a claim which he can enforce, or rather
just now seeks to enforce, by the aid of armed intervention. The civil
bill creditor can only levy execution where anything exists to levy
upon; but the landlord can turn his tenants out of doors and put the
key in his pocket--that is, theoretically. But, it is argued, if this
cannot be done without the aid of an army, it would be better for the
majority of peaceable inhabitants if it were left alone. It is not
easy to predict the state of popular feeling here in January next; but
it is quite certain that attempts to evict, if made now, would be met
by armed resistance. I have already stated that Mayo is armed to the
teeth, and I have good reason for believing county Galway to be in a
similar condition. This being fairly well known on the spot, it is
quite easy to understand how any resolution to commence a landlords'
crusade is received by the public.


LETTERFRACK, CONNEMARA, _Wednesday._

At this pretty village, in the most beautiful part of the West of
Ireland, I hear that the disinclination to pay rent and the desire to
"hunt" grazing farmers out of the country have spread to the once
peaceful region of Connemara. Three years ago crime and police were
alike unknown. The people were poor, and preserved the sense of having
been wronged. But theft and violence, saving a broken head now and
then, were unknown.

Within the last two years a great change has come over this remote
corner of Ireland. Police barracks have made their appearance, and
outrages of the agrarian class have become disagreeably frequent.
Formerly cattle and sheep were as safe on the mountain as oats in the
stackyard. Now nobody of the grazing farmer class is entirely free
from alarm. At any moment his animals may be driven into the sea or
his ricks fired. The population, if not so fully armed as that of
Mayo, is arming rapidly. To my certain knowledge revolvers and
carbines are being distributed among the peasantry of Connemara
proper. This district--which including within its limits the pretty
village I write from, as well as Clifden and Ballynahinch, lies mainly
between the seashore and a line drawn from Leenane to Carna--has,
during the last twelve months become disturbed in such wise that it is
impossible to shut one's eyes to the fact that here, as in Mayo, a
sort of dead set is being made against grazing farmers. It is true
that life is not taken, and, it may be added, not even threatened in
Connemara proper, but outrages of a cowardly and destructive kind are
common. During last winter an epidemic of destruction broke out, the
effect of which may be seen in the large amount added to the county
cess to give compensation to the injured persons. The grand jury has
levied altogether between seven and eight hundred pounds more than
usual. So ignorant or reckless are the destroyers, that they take no
heed of what is well understood in other places; to wit, that the
amount of the damage done is levied upon the adjacent townlands. Thus
the addition to the county cess in Lettermore is 10s. 11½d. in the
1l.; in Carna, 8s. 9½d.; and in Derryinver, 8s. 7½d.--a cruel
additional burden on the ratepayer. Some of the items are very large.
To George J. Robinson was awarded 181l. for seventy-six sheep and two
rams "maliciously taken away, killed, maimed, and destroyed." To
Hamilton C. Smith three separate awards were made--28l. for four head
of cattle driven or carried out to sea and drowned; 21l. for fourteen
sheep maliciously driven off and removed; and again 17l. 10s. for
fourteen sheep similarly treated. Houses and boats have been burned,
and even turf-ricks destroyed. The object in all cases seems to have
been to "hunt" the injured persons out of the country in order that
the neighbours might turn their cattle on to his grazing land, as has
been done in Mayo. In one conspicuous case these tactics have proved
successful. Michael O'Neil was awarded 120l. "to compensate him for
ninety-six sheep, his property, maliciously taken or carried away and
destroyed, at Tonadooravaun, in the parish of Ballynakill." This sum
is levied off the fourteen adjacent townlands, among which is the
unlucky Lettermore, just quoted as paying an enormous addition to the
county cess. Michael O'Neil, who appears to have been a respectable
man, not otherwise objectionable than as the tenant of more grazing
land than was considered his share by his neighbours, has received his
120l., and is so far reimbursed; but he thought it better to obey the
popular will than to attempt to stand against it, and gave up his farm
accordingly. Such deeds as the frightening of "decent people" out of
Connemara by maiming cattle and burning houses, which must be paid for
by the offending districts, speak more distinctly than any words could
do of the ignorance of this part of the wild West. So wild is it that
although the Roman Catholic clergy of Connemara adhere to the
elsewhere-obsolete practice of holding "stations" for confession,
there are many dwellers on the mountain who have never received any
religious instruction. Chapels are few and remote from each other, and
even the "stations" kept for the purpose of getting at the scattered
population only attract those dwelling within reasonable distances.
The poor mountaineers in the neighbourhood of the Recess Valley and
away over the hills seldom go far enough from home to rub shoulders
with civilisation. Many of them have never seen bigger places than
Letterfrack and Leenane, and those perhaps not fifty times in their
lives.

The islanders of Clew Bay are almost as difficult to assist and to
improve as the highlanders of Joyce's country, Southern Mayo, and
Great and Little Connemara; but for an opposite reason. The latter are
thinly scattered on the fringe of the grazing farms, while the former
are crowded together on islands inadequate to support them. This
question of space assumes a curious importance in Ireland owing to
the want of other industry than such as is intimately connected with
the land. With the exception of a few manufacturing districts in
Ulster, which is altogether another country from Connaught, there are
no industries in Ireland independent of the produce of arable land and
pasture. What is to be enjoyed by the people must be got out of the
land, and this in a country where nobody will turn to and work hard as
a cultivator so long as he can graze, "finish," or "job" cattle,
sheep, or horses. I was citing to a Mayo-man this defect of the
so-called farmer, and was at once met by a prompt reply. The tendency
to graze cattle, which is not hard work, and to "gad" about to cattle
fairs, which are esteemed the greatest diversion the country affords,
is an indication of the distinct superiority of the quick-witted Celt
to the dull Saxon hind. An Irish peasant cultivator is a being of
greater faculty of expansion than Wessex Hodge. He is profoundly
ignorant and absurdly superstitious, but he is naturally keen-witted,
and his innate gifts are brightened by contact with his fellow man. He
is not a ploughman, for he often cultivates with the spade alone, and
he has, besides his oats, his potatoes, his cabbages, and mayhap a few
turnips, and a variety of animals, all of which he understands--or
misunderstands. If a holder of twenty or thirty, or, still better,
forty acres, he will have a horse, a cow, a beast or two, a few sheep,
and some turkeys and geese. It is possible to have all these on
fifteen acres or less of fairly good land, and then the Western
peasant cultivator becomes a many-sided man by dint of buying and
selling stock--that is, he acquires the sort of intelligence possessed
by a smart huckster. This is held to be cleverness in these parts, and
undoubtedly gives its possessor a greater "faculty of expansion" than
the career of an Essex or Wessex ploughman or carter. But what is
peculiarly pertinent to the burning question of peasant cultivators
and proprietors is the tendency, perpetually visible in the Western
Irishman, to fly off at a tangent from agriculture to grazing.
According to an ancient and indurated belief in all this section of
the country, animals ought to get fat on the pasture provided by
nature. I am told that thirty years ago there was not a plough in
existence from Westport to Dhulough, and that the turnip was an
unknown vegetable in Connemara. The notion of growing turnips and
mangolds in a country made for root crops was at first not well
received. "Bastes" had done hitherto on the rough mountain pasture
"well enough;" which signified that no properly fatted animal had ever
been seen around the Twelve Pins.

Now that the Connemara man here and there has been taught to grow root
crops for cattle he begins to yield, and feeds his beasts, sometimes,
on roots instead of sedge. Thus far he has become a cultivator; but I
have my doubts whether the hard work of tillage suits him well. To get
good crops off a little farm is an undertaking which requires
"sticking to work." It is not so pleasant by a great deal as looking
at cattle and taking them to market. Hence the tilled part of an Irish
farm in the West nearly always bears a very small proportion to that
under pasture. It is only quite recently that artificial feeding for
cattle has been resorted to, and compelled the farmer to grow root
crops. Perhaps, in the present condition of the market for beasts and
grain the nimble-minded Celt is hitting the right nail on the head,
and cattle and dairy farms are the future of the agriculturist, who
will compete against American meat with English produce fed upon
English grass and roots, and upon maize imported from the New World. I
prefer, however, to leave this possibility for the discussion of Mr.
Caird and Mr. Clare Read, and to confine myself to the fact that the
Western cultivator is far less a farmer than a cattle-jobber or
gambler in four-legged stock.

The poor inhabitants of the islands between this place and Achill
Point cannot certainly be accused of a tendency to gad about. Almost
everybody blames their dull determination to remain at home. They are,
I doubt, neither good fishermen nor good farmers--at least, I know
that they neither catch fish nor pay their rent. Neither on Clare
Island, Innishark, Innisbofin, nor Innisturk is there any alacrity in
making the slightest attempt to satisfy the landlord. That these
little tenants are only removed by a hairsbreadth from starvation at
the best of times will be gathered from the facts that Clare Island
with 4,000 acres, some of which is let at 10s. per acre, with common
grazing rights "thrown in," is called upon to support nearly seven
hundred souls. A glance at the picturesque outline of the island will
tell of the proportion of "mountain," that is moor and bog, upon it,
and it is at once seen that unless there is either good fishing or
some other source of supply the land cannot keep the people. No better
proof can be given than that of the greatest tenant, who pays 55l. a
year for some five hundred acres. In Innisbofin and Innishark are at
least 1,500 individuals, nearly all very small tenants, either on the
brink of starvation or pretending to be so. It is nearly as impossible
to extract any rent from them as from the twenty-three families on
Innisturk, an island belonging to Lord Lucan, whose rents are farmed,
so far as Innisturk is concerned, by Mr. MacDonnell, the sub-sheriff,
who is said to have a bad bargain. Lord Lucan, of course, receives his
150l. yearly from his "middleman," who is left to fight it out with
the people, and get 230l., the price at which the land is let, out of
them, if he can. Just now he is getting nothing, and the situation is
becoming strained. The people pay no rent, the sub-sheriff, is not
only losing his margin of profit but cannot get 150l. a year out of
them. They said they liked him well enough but would not pay a
"middleman's" profit, whereupon he offered to take the exact amount
he contracts to pay to Lord Lucan, and forego his profit altogether;
but this proposition, after being received with some amusement, was
not declined exactly, but, in American language, "let slide." And
nothing has been or can be done. For if it were attempted to evict the
Innisturk people the evictors would be accused of hurling an entire
population into the sea.

The more that is seen of the people of far Western Connaught the more
distinct becomes the conviction that the present difficulty is rather
social and economic than political. It is far more a question,
apparently, of stomach than of brain. The complaints which are poured
out on every side refer not in the least to politics. Very few in
Mayo, and hardly anybody at all in Connemara, seem to take any account
of Home Rule, or of any other rule except that of the Land League. The
possibility of a Parliament on College-green affects the people of the
West far less than the remotest chance of securing some share of the
land. If ever popular disaffection were purely agrarian, it is now, so
far as this part of Ireland is concerned. Orators and politicians from
O'Connell until now have spoken of Repeal and Reform; but it is more
than probable that the Connaught peasant always understood that he was
to be emancipated from some of his burdens. All his ideas are
dominated by the single one of land. He knows and cares for very
little else. He is superstitious to an astounding degree, and his
ignorance passes all understanding--that is, on every subject but the
single one of land. And the land he knows of is that in his own
county, or home section of a county. But his knowledge of this is
singularly and curiously exact. Either by his own experience or by
tradition he is perfectly acquainted with the topography of his own
locality and with the history of its present and former proprietors
and occupants. With perfect precision he will point out a certain
tract of country and tell how, in the old, old time, it was, "reigned
over" by the O'Flahertys, and then was owned by the Blakes, who
disposed of part of their country to the present possessors. He knows
perfectly well how the great Martin country came first into the hands
of the Law Life Insurance Company, and then into those of Mr.
Berridge, and how the latter gentleman came down to Ballynahinch, of
the traditional avenue, extending for forty miles to Galway. More than
this, he knows how an island was bought by its present owner with so
much on it due to the above-named society. Moreover, he knows the site
and size of the villages depopulated by famine, emigration, or the
"exterminator," and in many cases the very names of the former
tenants. He is a man of one idea--that the country was once prosperous
and is now wretched, not in consequence of natural causes but of
oppression and mismanagement. When he shouted in favour of Repeal he
meant Land. When he applauded Disestablishment and Denominational
Schools he meant Land, Land, nothing but Land. At last his dominant
feeling is candidly expressed when he cries out against landlords,
"Down wid 'em!"

In one of those neat remarks, distracting attention from the real
point at issue, for which Lord Beaconsfield is justly famous, he
expressed an opinion that "the Irish people are discontented because
they have no amusements." Like all such sayings, it is true as far as
it goes. Despite dramatists, novelists and humorists, Ireland is
singularly barren of diversion. In a former letter I pointed out that
the only relaxation from dreary toil enjoyed in Mayo is found at the
cattle-fairs, and little country races to which they give rise. There
are no amusements at all at Connemara. One ballad-singer and one
broken-legged piper are the only ministers to public hilarity that I
have yet seen. Nothing more dreary can be imagined than the existence
of the inhabitants. When by rare good luck a peasant secures road-work
or other employment from a proprietor at once sufficiently solvent and
public-spirited to undertake any enterprise for the improvement of the
country, he will walk for a couple or three hours to his work and then
go on with it till dinner-time. But it is painfully significant that
the word "dinner" is never used in this connection. The foreman does
not say that the dinner hour has arrived, but "Now, boys, it is time
to eat your bit o' bread." The expression is painfully exact; for the
repast consists of a bit of bread and perhaps a bottle of milk. Indian
corn meal is the material of the bit of bread, a heavy square block
unskilfully made, and so unattractive in appearance that no human
being who could get anything else would touch it. Then the man works
on till it is time to trudge over the mountain to the miserable cabin
he imagines to be a home, and meet his poor wife, weary with carrying
turf from a distant bog, and his half-clad and more than half-starved
children. Luckily the year has been a good one for drying peat, and
one necessity for supporting human life is supplied. What the
condition of the people must be when fuel is scarce is too terrible to
think of.

I esteem myself fortunate in being enabled to describe what the life
of the Connemara peasant is under favourable circumstances. His abject
misery in years of famine and persistent rain, when crops fail and
peat cannot be dried, may be left to the imagination. Potatoes raised
from the "champion" seed introduced during the distress last year are,
if not plentiful, yet sufficient, perhaps, for the present, in the
localities to which a good supply of seed was sent; but I should not
like to speculate on the probable condition of affairs in March next.
I have also spoken of such a peasant as has been fortunate enough to
obtain work at nine shillings a week, esteemed a fair rate
hereabouts. But in truth there is very little work to be had; for the
curse of absenteeism sits heavily on the West. Four great landed
proprietors, who together have drawn for several years past about
70,000l. from their estates in Mayo, Galway, and Clare, have not, I am
assured, ever spent 10,000l. a year in this country. As with the land
itself, crop after crop has been gathered and no fertiliser has been
put in. The peasant is now aware of as many of such facts as apply to
his own locality, and this knowledge, coupled with hard work and
hunger, has aroused a discontent not to be easily appeased. To him his
forefathers appear to have led happy lives. It would be beyond my
purpose to discuss whether the good old times ever existed, either
here or anywhere else. My object just now is simply to reflect the
peasant's mind, after having endeavoured, so far as is possible in
this place, to verify the facts adduced by him, and I may add
generally admitted by others.

The peasant looks lovingly on the tradition of the old time when the
native proprietors dwelt among their people, without reflecting that
it was the almost insane recklessness and extravagance of the
hereditary lords of the soil which led to the breaking up of their
estates among purchasers who had no kind of sympathy with the
inhabitants. But good or bad, as they may have been, the names of the
Martins, the O'Flahertys, the Joyces, and the Lynches are still held
in honour, although their descendants may have disappeared altogether,
or remained on a tenth or twentieth part of the vast possessions once
held by their family. Some of the present representatives, however,
are unpopular from no fault of their own. To cite a typical case.
There is a large estate between this place and Clifden, the present
holders of which should hardly be held responsible for the faults of
their ancestors. A very large part of it has been sold outright and is
in good hands. The remainder is strictly settled on a minor, and is
mortgaged, in the language of the country, "up to the mast-head."
Naturally the guardians of the minor are unwilling that the estate
should be sold up, all possibility of improvement and recovery
sacrificed, and themselves erased from the list of the county gentry.
Landlords have as much objection to eviction and compulsory emigration
as tenants, and are as much inclined to cling to their land, hoping
for better things. Thus arises a state of affairs against which the
peasant at last shows signs of revolt. Physically and mentally
neglected for centuries by his masters, he has found within the last
fifty years neglect exchanged for extortion and oppression. To prevent
the sale of the property, the owners or trustees must pay the interest
on the encumbrances. Moreover, they, being only human, think
themselves entitled to a modest subsistence out of the proceeds of the
property. To pay the interest and secure this "margin" for themselves
there are only two ways--to wring the last shilling out of the
wretched tenants, to first deprive them of their ancient privileges,
and then charge them extra dues for exercising them, or to let every
available inch of mountain pasture to a cattle-farmer, whose herds
take very good care that the cottier's cow does not get "the run of
the mountain" at their master's expense.

This "run of the mountain" appears to have been the old Irish analogue
of the various kinds of rights of common in England, which have for
the most part been lost to the poorer folk, not always without a
struggle with the neighbouring landlord or lord of the manor. I hear
from almost every place a complaint that within thirty or forty years
the "run of the mountain" has been taken from the people and let to
graziers. On the legal merits of the case I cannot at this moment
pretend to decide, but inasmuch as this addition to an ordinary
holding survives on some estates, there appears strong ground for
believing that the practice was general. Where the cattle-run remains
it is mapped out as a "reserve" for a certain townland, and is greatly
prized by the peasants. It may therefore be imagined that those from
whom it has been taken by the strong hand are bitterly resentful, and
even where the change was made so long as twenty-five or thirty years
ago nourish a deeply-rooted sense of wrong. It is absurd to suppose
that when the act of spoliation took place village Hampdens could
spring up on every hill-side in Connemara. Owing to the neglect of
those who were responsible for their condition, they were the most
ignorant and superstitious people in the British Islands. Landlords
were not yet awakened to a sense that their tenants should at least be
taught to read; and Connemara was esteemed, I am told, as a kind of
penal settlement for priests who had not proved shining lights in more
civilised communities. The latter reproach can no longer be brought,
for the zeal and activity of the local clergy are conspicuous; and
where the children are within any reasonable distance of a school they
come readily to it, and prove bright and apt scholars. But when the
"run of the mountain" was seized upon by many proprietors, the people
were mentally, if not bodily, in a swinish condition. The idea of any
right which a landlord was bound to respect had not dawned upon them,
and, if it had, prompt vengeance would have descended on the village
Hampden in the shape of a notice to quit, and he whose conception of
the world was limited to his native mountains would have been turned
out upon them with his wife and children to die.

I hear on very good authority that the purchaser of part of one of the
old estates has acquired an unpleasant notoriety in his management of
the land. I am compelled to believe that in the old period the
peasants enjoyed their little holdings at a very low rent. Moreover
these holdings were not all "measured on 'um," as one of my informants
phrased it, but were often composed of two or more patches, bits of
productive land, taken here and there on the rough mountain. Doubtless
this arrangement had its inconveniences, but the people were
accustomed to it, and also set great store by the run of the mountain,
which they had, it seems, enjoyed without let or hindrance from time
immemorial. The first act of the new management was to "sthripe the
land on 'um," that is to mark it out into five-pound holdings, each in
one "sthripe" or block. This arrangement, which to the ordinary mind
hardly appears unreasonable, was considered oppressive by the tenants,
who submitted, however, as was then the manner of their kind. They had
still the mountain, and could graze their cow or two, or their
half-dozen sheep upon it, and they naturally regarded this privilege
as the most valuable part of their holding, inasmuch as it paid their
rent, clothed them, and supplied them with milk to drink with their
potatoes. In these days of alimentary science it is needless to remind
readers that, humble as it appears, a dinner of abundant potatoes and
milk is a perfect meal, containing all the constituents of human
food--fat, starch, acids, and so forth.

Thus many of the tenants were, as they call it, "snug." Satisfied
with little, they rubbed on contentedly enough, only the more
adventurous spirits going to England for the harvesting. Then came
serious changes. The rent of the five-pound holdings was raised to
seven pounds, and the mountain was taken away. The poor people
protested that they had nothing to feed their few animals upon on the
paltry holdings of which a couple of acres might be available for
tillage, a couple more for grass, and the remaining two or three good
for hardly anything. An answer was given to them. If they must have
the mountain they must pay for it--practically another rise in the
rent. To this they agreed perforce, and even to the extraordinary
condition that during a month or six weeks of the breeding season for
grouse they should drive their tiny flocks or herds off the mountain
and on to their holdings, in order that the game might not be
disturbed at a critical period. I hear that for the last year rents
have fallen into arrear, and that the beasts of those who have not
paid up have just been driven off the mountain.

I have cited this case as one of the proofs in my hands that the
country is not overpopulated, as has been so frequently stated. I
drove over part of the estate mentioned, and questioned some of the
people as to the accuracy of the story already told to me, and the
agreement was so general that I am obliged to give credence to it. To
talk of over-population in a country with perhaps half-a-dozen houses
per square mile, is absurd. What is called over-population would be
more accurately described as local congestion of population. The
people who in their little way were graziers and raisers of stock have
been deprived of their cattle run, and having no ground to raise
turnips upon, cannot resort to artificial feeding. What was originally
intended to serve as a little homestead to raise food on for
themselves is all they have left, and it is now said that they are
crowded together. It would be more correct to say that they have been
driven together like rats in the corner of a pit. As one steps out of
one of their cabins the eye ranges over a vast extent of hill, valley,
and lake--as fair a prospect as could be gazed upon. Yet the few
wretched inhabitants are cooped within their petty holdings, and
allowed to do no more than look upon the immense space before them.
Where there is so much room to breathe they are stifled.


GALWAY, _Tuesday, Nov. 9th._

On the long dreary road from Clifden to this place, the greater part
of which is included in the vaunted "avenue" to Ballynahinch, there is
visible at ordinary times very little but mountain, bog, and sky. Of
stones and water, and of air marvellously bright and pure, there is no
lack, and some of the scenery is of surpassing grandeur, especially on
a day like yesterday, so fair and still that mountain and cloud alike
were mirrored on the surface of a legion of lakes. It was only when
one reached the clump of trees which in these wild districts denotes
the presence of a house of the better sort that any symptoms of
disturbance were seen. All was calm and bright on Glendalough itself,
but no sooner had I entered the grounds of the hotel than I became
aware of the presence of an armed escort. Presently Mr. Robinson, the
agent for Mr. Berridge, the purchaser of the "Martin property" from
the Law Life Insurance Company, came out, jumped on his car with his
driver, and was immediately followed by the usual escort of two men
armed with double-barrelled carbines. A few minutes later I heard that
Mr. Thompson's "herd" over at Moyrus, near the sea-coast, had been
badly beaten on Sunday night, or rather early yesterday morning; and
there were disquieting rumours of trouble impending at Lough Mask. If
the Moyrus story be true, it is noteworthy as marking a new line of
departure in Connemara. Hitherto actual outrages have been confined to
property; persons have only been threatened, and few but agents go in
downright bodily fear. I have not heard why Mr. Thompson is unpopular;
but can easily understand that Mr. Robinson has become so. The
management of 180,000 acres of poor country, in some parts utterly
desolate, in others afflicted with congested population, can hardly
be carried on without making some enemies. Moreover, I have no reason
to believe that the vast "Law Life" property has, since it passed out
of the hands of its ancient insolvent owners, been either more wisely
or liberally administered than in the wild, wicked days when the
Martins "reigned" at Ballynahinch, and boasted that the King's writs
did not run "in their country."

Before leaving Connemara I resolved to give a detailed account of the
condition of the peasants of the sea-coast at the conclusion of a
phenomenally good season followed by a fair harvest, thinking that a
better impression would be obtained now than in periods of distress. I
regret to say that the effect of several excursions from Letterfrack
and Clifden has been almost to make me despair of the Connemara man of
the sea-coast. I hesitate to employ the word "down-trodden," because
it has been absurdly misused and ignorantly applied to the whole
population of Ireland. I may be pardoned for observing in this place,
once for all, that my remarks are always particularly confined to the
place described, and by no means intended to apply to districts I have
not yet visited, still less to Ireland generally--if a country with
four if not five distinct populations should ever by thoughtful
persons be spoken of "generally." What I say of the inhabitants of the
sea-coast of Connemara does not, I hope most sincerely, apply to any
other people in the British Islands. They are emphatically
"down-trodden"--bodily, mentally, and in a certain direction morally.
They do not commit either murder, adultery, or theft, but they are
fearfully addicted to lying--the vice of slaves. Their prevarication
and procrastination are at times almost maddening. I have seen men and
women actually fencing with questions put to them by the excellent
priest who dwells at Letterfrack, Father McAndrew, who was obliged to
exercise all his authority to obtain a straight answer concerning the
potato crop grown on a patch of conacre land. Did they have any
"champion" seed given to them at the various distributions of that
precious boon? "Was it champions thin?" was the reply. "'Deed, they
had the name o' champions." The woman who said this in my hearing only
confessed under very vigorous cross-examination that "the name o'
champions" signified four stone weight of the invaluable seed which
has resisted disease in its very stronghold. Now in very poor ground
the yield of this quantity should have been twelvefold, or about 5
cwt. of potatoes. "'Deed, and it wasn't the half of it. The champions
was planted too thick, sure; and two halves of 'um was lost." Taken
only mathematically this statement would not hold water, but it was
not till after a stern allocution that the fact was elicited that
much champion seed had been wasted by over-thick planting--a habit
acquired by the people during successive bad years. As these poor
people prevaricate, so do they procrastinate. The saddened man who
said, in his wrath, all men are liars, would have found ample
justification for his stern judgment on the Connemara sea-coast at the
present moment; but the Roman centurion immortalised in Holy Writ
would make a novel experience. He might say "Go," but he would have to
wait a while before the man went, and if he cried "Come" would need to
possess his soul with patience. Yet the people are not dull. In fact
the dull Saxon is worth a hundred of them in doing what he is told,
and in doing it at once. This simple fact goes far to explain the
unpopularity of English land-agents. Prepared to obey their own chief,
Englishmen, especially if they have served in the army, expect instant
obedience from others. Now that is just what they will not get in
Clifden or elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Almost everybody is as
fearfully deliberate in action as in untruth, and the Saxon who
expects instant attention and a straightforward answer, and is apt to
storm at procrastinators and shufflers, appears to the poor native as
an imperious tyrant. Now the native is always as civil as he is
deceptive. About the middle of my journey yesterday, I discovered that
the pair of horses who were to bring me twenty-six Irish miles from
Clifden to Oughterard had been driven ten miles before they began
that long pull. Of course the poor creatures dwindled to a walk at
last, and I sank into passive endurance lest the driver might inflict
heartless punishment upon them. My remarks on arriving at Oughterard,
where an excellent team awaited me, were vigorous in the extreme; but
I am bound to admit that they were accepted in a thoroughly Christian
spirit.

My long car-drives from Letterfrack and Clifden were directed mainly
towards the spots mentioned in a former letter as of specially evil
reputation for agrarian crime, and as being heavily amerced by the
grand jury. A very slight acquaintance with them excites amazement
that cess, rent, or anything else can be extracted from the utterly
wretched cabins looking on the broad Atlantic. A large number of these
are built on the slope of a lofty peninsula rising to 1,172 feet from
the sea-level, and marked on the maps as Rinvyle Mountain. It is
better known to the natives as Lettermore Hill, and forms part of the
Rinvyle estate, one of the encumbered properties alluded to in my last
letter. The hill-folk, who appear, on the best evidence procurable, to
have had hard measure dealt to them by the Mr. Graham who bought part
of the old Lynch property, declaim against the "new man," as others
ascribe every evil to the middleman; but others again hold that the
old proprietors, who remain on the land, fighting against
encumbrances, are the "hardest of all," and that the whips of cupidity
cannot compare with the scorpions of poverty. Be this as it may, the
present holder of Rinvyle is by no means personally unpopular, and has
helped the district lately in getting subscriptions and a Government
grant for building a pier, extremely useful both as a protection to
fisher-folk, and as providing labour for the still poorer people. It
is also only fair to state that much of the local congestion of
inhabitants at Rinvyle is due to the kelp-manufacture. The kelp-trade
was at one time very prosperous, and employed a large number of people
in collecting, drying, and burning seaweed. At that period it was the
object of proprietors on the seaboard to attract population to their
domains, on account of the royalty levied on kelp, which exceeded by
far the rent asked for a little holding. While some proprietors were
wiping off the map great villages, containing hundreds of families,
like that of Aughadrinagh, near Castlebar, the holders of the
sea-coast encouraged people to settle on their estates. No reasonable
person can blame them for doing so. The proprietor was poor, and saw
that a large accession to his means might be secured by attracting
kelp-burners. He made a good thing of it. The people paid about 3l. or
a little more a year for their cottage and little, very little,
paddock, not bigger than a garden; about 11s. a year for the "right to
gather seaweed," and one-third of the proceeds of the kelp they made
as "royalty" to the landlord. It should be added that the owners of
Rinvyle were not themselves dealers in kelp, like some middlemen along
the coast, and that their "people,"--save the mark!--could sell to
whom they pleased, but the lords of the seashore took their third of
the proceeds. Within comparatively recent times kelp has been worth
6l. and 7l. per ton. Putting the "royalty" at 2l. per ton, and the
production of each family at a couple of tons per annum, we arrive at
the position that the landlord drew, in rent and royalty, about half
his tenants' summer earnings. The tenants obtained about 8l. clear per
family for the summer's laborious work in collecting, drying, and
burning seaweed. The rest of their living was made either out of a
conacre potato patch, for which they were charged a tremendous rent,
or eked out by the excursion of one member of the family to England
for the reaping season. It was not a prosperous life, except in
comparison with that which has succeeded it. For the last few years
kelp has been almost thrown out of the market, and such small prices
are obtainable that it is not worth while to collect it. But the
population originally attracted by kelp remains to starve on the rocks
of Rinvyle.

Lettermore Hill, rising directly from the sea level, is a magnificent
object glittering in the sun. It is "backed" rather like a whale than
a weasel, and includes some good rough mountain pasture, as well as
green fields near its base. As one approaches it a ring of villages is
seen delightfully situated, high for the most part above the sea and
the green fields, and lying back against the huge mountain. It is
natural to suppose that here resides a race of marine mountaineers
seeking their living on the deep while their flocks and herds pasture
on the hill. But no supposition could be wider of the actual fact.
Neither the fields beneath nor the mountain above belong in any way to
the villages which form a belt of pain and sorrow half-way up its
side, drooping at Derryinver to the sea. One of these villages,
Coshleen, surely as wretched a place as any in the world, is
unapproachable by a wheeled vehicle. The pasture land in front is
walled off, and, together with the mountain behind, down almost to the
roof of the cabins, is reserved to the use of a great grazier living
far away. Below, near the sea, stands Rinvyle Castle--whence the name
Coshleen, the village by the castle--the ruined stronghold of the
O'Flahertys who ruled this country long ago, either better or worse
than the Blakes, who have held it for some generations, and under
whose care it has become a reproach to the empire. There is a little
arable land farther down Lettermore Hill, which, being also called
Rinvyle Mountain, might well receive the third name of Mount Misery.
This bit of arable land is let to the surrounding tenants on the
conacre principle--that is, the holders are not even yearly tenants,
but have the land let to them for the crop, the season while their
potatoes or oats are on the ground. By letting this conacre land in
little patches, a high rent is secured, which the tenants have no
option but to promise to pay. Apparently it is these wretched people
who, maddened by the sight of a stranger's flocks and herds pasturing
above and below them, have risen at times and driven his animals into
the sea. All the notice he has taken of the matter is to make the
county pay his loss, and leave the county to get the amount out of the
offending townlands if it can. He is not to be scared, for he lives
far away, and apparently his herds are not much afraid either--at
present, that is. How any compensation money is to be got from the
hundreds of miserable people who inhabit Coshleen and Derryinver I
cannot conceive. They have, it is true, potatoes to eat just now, and
may have enough till February; but their pale cheeks, high
cheek-bones, and hollow eyes tell a sorry tale, not of sudden want but
of a long course of insufficient food, varied by occasional fever.
With the full breath of the Atlantic blowing upon them, they look as
sickly as if they had just come out of a slum in St. Giles's. There is
something strangely appalling in the pallid looks of people who live
mainly in the open air, and the finest air in the world. Doubtless
they tell a good story without, as I have already said, any very
severe adherence to truth; but there can be no falsehood in their
gaunt, famished faces, no fabrication in their own rags and the
nakedness of their children. I doubt me Mr. Ruskin would designate the
condition of Mount Misery, otherwise Lettermore Hill, as "altogether
devilish."

The cabins of Connemara have been so frequently described that there
is no necessity for telling the English public that in the villages I
have named anything approaching the character of a bed is very rare. A
heap of rags flung on some dirty straw, or the four posts of what was
once a bedstead filled in with straw, with a blanket spread over it,
form the sleeping-place. Everybody knows that one compartment serves
in these seaside hovels for the entire family, including the pig (if
any), ducks, chickens, or geese. Few people hereabouts own an ass,
much less a horse or a cow, and boats are few in proportion to the
population. Such a cabin as I have rather indicated than described is
occupied by the wife of one John Connolly, of Derryinver. When I
called the husband was away at some work over the hill, and the two
elder boys with him, the wife and seven younger children remaining at
home. I had hardly put my foot inside the cabin when a "bonniva," or
very little pig, quietly made up to me and began to eat the
upper-leather of my boot, doubtless because he could find nothing else
to eat, poor little beast. Besides the "bonniva," who looked very
thin, the property of the entire family consisted of a dozen fowls
and ducks, some potatoes, a little stack of poor oats, not much taller
than a man, and a still smaller stack of rough hay. An experienced
hand in such matters, who accompanied me, valued the stacks at 2l.
15s. together. This was all they had at John Connolly's to face the
winter withal, and I was curious to know what rent they paid for their
little cabin and the field attached. An acre was quite as much as they
appeared to have, and for this they were "set," as it is called here,
at 3l. per annum, and, in addition, were charged 2s. 6d. for the
privilege of cutting turf, and 5s. 6d. for the seaweed. This toll for
cutting seaweed is a regular impost in these parts, sometimes rising
for "red weed" and "black weed" to 11s. The latter is used only for
manuring the potato fields, the former being the proper kelp weed, and
must be paid for whether it is used or not. As a matter of fact, Mrs.
Connolly's place assigned for cutting red-weed is the island of
Innisbroon, some four or five miles out at sea, and as her husband has
never been worth a boat she has paid her dues for nine years for
nothing. The seaweed dues in fact have for several years past
represented merely an increase of rental. It should not, however, be
forgotten that when kelp was valuable the lords of the soil took their
third part of it when it was burnt, in addition to the first tax for
collecting the weed, a most laborious and tedious operation.

It may be asked, and with some appearance of reason, why, if people
are hungry, they do not eat what is nearest to hand. That one owning a
dozen fowls and ducks and a stack of oats, be the same never so small,
should be hungry, seems at a superficial glance ridiculous. But the
fact is that this is just the flood time of harvest, the oats are
stacked and the potatoes stored, but there is a long winter to face;
and, what is more depressing to hear, these people who rear fowls
would as soon think of eating one as of flying. They do not even eat
the eggs, but sell them to an "eggler," and invest the money in Indian
corn meal, a stone of which goes much farther than a dozen or a dozen
and a half of eggs. Those, and they are greatly in the majority, who
have no cow are obliged to buy milk for their children, and find it
difficult and costly to get enough for them.

In equally poor case with the cottiers is the woman who keeps the
village shop at Derryinver. Those who know the village shops of England
and the mingled odour of flour, bacon, cheese, and plenty which
pervades them, would shudder at Mrs. Stanton's store at Derryinver. It
is a shop almost without a window; in fact, a cabin like those occupied
by her customers. The shopkeeper's stock is very low just now. She
could do a roaring trade on credit, but unfortunately her own is
exhausted. Like the little traders during English and Welsh strikes,
her sympathies are all with her customers, but she can get no credit
for herself. She has a matter of 40l. standing out; she owes 21l.; she
has sold her cow and calf to keep up her credit at Clifden, and she is
doing no business. When I looked in on her she was engaged in combing
the hair of one of her fair-skinned children, an operation not common
in these parts, where the back hair of even grown women in such centres
of commercial activity as Clifden has a curious knack of coming down.
It is part of the tumble-downishness of the neglected West. At some
remote period things must have been new, but bating Casson's Hotel, at
Letterfrack, there is nothing in good order between Mr.
Mitchell-Henry's well-managed estate at Kylemore and Galway. At Clifden
and all through the surrounding country things appear to be decaying or
decayed. The doors will not shut, and the windows cannot be opened; the
bells have no handles, and if they had would not ring; the wall-paper
and the carpets, the houses, the land and the people seem to be all
very much the worse for wear. The dirt and slovenliness are
unspeakable. I tried to write on the table of the general room of a
well-known inn, or so-called hotel, the other day, and my arm actually
stuck to the table, so adhesive was the all-pervading filth. The white
flannel cloaks and deep red petticoats of Connemara women are
picturesque enough on market-day in Clifden, but, like Eastern cities,
they should be seen from afar. I have a shrewd suspicion that the
blight has gone beyond the potato, and it is not very difficult to see
how it strode onward. The little towns of the West depend entirely upon
the surrounding country for their subsistence, and, when the peasantry
are poor, gradually undergo commercial atrophy. Just at this moment
they are in a livelier condition than usual, somewhat because the
comparatively well-to-do among the peasants have taken advantage in
many places of the popular cry to pay no rent, and have, therefore, for
the moment a little ready money. But there is no escaping the saddening
influence of a general aspect of dirt and decay.

It is a significant feature of the present agitation in Ireland that
all parties are nearly agreed so far as the Connaught peasant
cultivator is concerned. That anything approaching agreement on any
part of the complex Irish problem should be arrived at is so
remarkable that I am inclined to hearken to the popular voice.
Whatever may be done for the benefit of other parts of the country,
something must, it is thought, be attempted for the counties of Mayo
and Galway. So far as I have been able to arrive at facts and
opinions, it is not altogether a question of rent. A general remission
of rent in these two counties would merely have the effect of
enriching those farmers who are already "snug," but would leave the
peasant cultivators exactly as they are at present. It is quite true
that in some of the most wretched places I have seen the rent is
extravagantly high; but while exclaiming against attempted extortion,
I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that for the last two years the
attempt has been in the main abortive. Everybody is not so deep in his
landlord's books as the irreconcileable Thomas Browne, of
Cloontakilla; but a vast number of poor tenants owe one and a half and
two years' rent. I speak of those whose holdings are "set" from 3l. to
8l. per annum. The rent has not impoverished them this year at any
rate; they have had a fair harvest, their beast or few sheep have
fetched good prices, and yet they are miserably poor. It is quite true
that two very bad years preceded the good one, but allowing for all
this there is no room for hope that under their present conditions of
existence they will ever be better off than they are now--when they
are practically living rent free.

Letting for the moment bygones be bygones between landlord and tenant,
what is to occur in the future? Hunger is an evil counsellor, and
there would apparently always be hunger and consequent discontent
among the little cultivators of Connaught, even if the land were given
to them outright. The fact is that, despite the assertions of
demagogues, the holdings on which the people now live cannot support
them, and, in fact, never have supported them. It is, as I remarked in
one of my previous letters, the harvest money from England and the
labourers' wages brought from Scotland which have kept body and soul
together after a poor fashion. The annual migration of reapers and
labourers has been a matter not of enterprise, but of necessity; for
on the summer savings, varying from 10l. to 15l., the family entirely
depend. It is, therefore, an absolute mistake to speak of the Mayo and
Galway men as peasant cultivators living on the produce of the soil
they cultivate. It cannot be done. I have talked to scores of these
people, and have invariably found that a decent cabin with properly
clad inhabitants depended upon something beyond the food produced on
the spot. Either the father went to England for the harvest, or the
boys were working in a shipyard on the Clyde, or the girls were in
America and sent home money. On the seashore, among the wretched
people who send their children out on the coast to pick shell-fish
worth fourpence per stone, I found here and there a household such as
I have described really depending on money earned far away. I have
thought it well to put the case somewhat strongly because it is sheer
absurdity to expect that a living for a family can be extracted from
five Irish acres of land in Connaught. In very good years, and when
credit is abundant, not so unusual an occurrence as might be supposed,
it is just possible for the peasant to struggle on; but he can never
be said to live. His land is exhausted by the old Mayo rotation of
"potatoes, oats, burn," and he has no manure but guano and seaweed.

It is like inhaling fresh air to turn aside from poorly nourished
people and land to look, from the window of Casson's hotel at
Letterfrack, on two bright green oases rising amid a brown desert of
bog. Turnips and mangolds are growing in great forty-acre squares.
Dark-ribbed fields of similar size show where the potatoes have been
dug, and men are dotted here and there busily engaged with work of
various kinds. The green oases at the mouth of the magnificent pass of
Kylemore are the work of Mr. Mitchell-Henry, M.P. for the county of
Galway. When Mr. Henry first went salmon-fishing in the river Dowris,
which flows from Kylemore Lake into the sea at Ballynakill Harbour,
Kylemore was a mountain pass and nothing more. Now it not only boasts
a castle, but is the centre of extraordinary activity, the first
fruits of which are seen in the villages of Currywongoan and
Greenmount already alluded to as forming conspicuous objects in a
landscape of strange grandeur. Mr. Henry, who was an eminent surgeon
before he became a great landowner, has gone about the work of
reclamation with scientific knowledge as well as vigorous will, and
now has a great area in the various stages of conversion from bog into
productive land. When he began to reclaim land at Kylemore the
neighbouring gentry smiled good-humouredly, plunged their hands into
their (mostly empty) pockets, and wished him joy of his bargain. Now
the Kylemore improvements are the wonder of Connemara. The long
unknown mangold is seen to flourish on spots which once nourished
about a snipe to an acre. Root crops are very largely grown, and it is
to these that the climate and reclaimed bog of Connemara are more
particularly favourable; but there is abundance of grain at
Currywongoan, at Greenmount, and at the home-farm at Dowris.
Neighbouring proprietors are thinking the matter over, and are
wondering whether an Irish landlord ought, like an English one, to do
something to employ and encourage his poor tenants, and help on with
improvements those inclined to help themselves. Even the tenants
themselves on the Kylemore Estate are beginning to wake up under the
care of a resident landlord inclined to set them in the way of
improving their condition. With the run of the mountain in addition to
holdings varying from twelve to forty and fifty acres in extent, Mr.
Mitchell Henry's people are learning by example, are breaking up land,
and every year increasing the area under the plough. It would thus
seem that the Connemara peasant is not unteachable, if only some
patience be shown and fair breathing space allotted to him.

Mr. Mitchell Henry's idea of reclamation was purely scientific at
first, and has only by degrees been developed into a large enterprise.
He was struck by the fact that the bog lies directly on the
limestone, as coal, ironstone, and limestone lie in parts of
Staffordshire, only awaiting the hand of man to turn them to practical
account. Draining and liming are all that bog-land requires to yield
immediate crops. The main difficulty is of course to get rid of the
water, which keeps down the temperature of the land until it produces
nothing but the humblest kind of vegetation. All the steps of the
reclaiming process may be seen at Kylemore. The first thing to be done
is to cut a big deep drain right through the bog to the gravel between
it and the limestone. Then the secondary drains are also cut down to
the gravel, and are supplemented by "sheep" or surface drains about
twenty inches deep and twenty inches wide at top, narrowing to six
inches at the bottom. This process may be called "tapping the bog,"
which begins to shrink visibly. The puffy rounded surface gradually
sinks as the water runs off, and the earth gains in solidity. When
this process is sufficiently advanced the drains are cleared and
deepened, and a wedge-shaped sod, too wide to reach the bottom, is
rammed in so as to leave below it a permanent tubular covered drain,
which is thus made without tiles or other costly material. Then the
surface is dressed with lime, which, as the people say, "boils the
bog" instead of burning it in the old-fashioned Irish manner. On such
newly broken-up ground I saw numerous potato ridges, the large area
of turnips and mangolds already spoken of, grasses and rape for
sheep-feed. The celery grown on the reclaimed bog is superb, even
finer than that grown on Chat Moss, which gave Manchester its
reputation for celery-growing.

It is not pretended that all the bogs in Ireland are susceptible of
similar treatment, nor is it by any means necessary that they should
be. For there is plenty of bog-land less than four feet in depth, and
this alone is worth draining and liming at present. According to Mr.
Mitchell Henry's calculation he can drain and lime the land, take a
first crop off it, and then afford to let it at fifteen shillings per
acre. This is thirteen shillings more than it is worth now, and would
return interest for the necessary outlay at five per cent. per annum.
It is well known that Mr. Mitchell Henry has pursued his work at
Kylemore in the spirit of a pioneer, and that he looks to the
employment of the poor Connemara folk on reclamations as the loophole
of escape from their present miserable condition. But, while anxious
for the people, he is not unjust to the landlords who, whatever their
wish may be, are too poor to attempt any extensive improvement of
their estates. With the exception of Mr. Berridge and Lord Sligo,
nobody has much money in these parts besides Mr. Henry, whose example
is followed slowly, because proprietors lack the means to undertake
anything on a grand scale. His impression is, that to effect any good
the matter must be made Imperial. The suggestion is, that suitable
tracts of the best waste lands should be acquired by the Government;
that the work of reclamation should be carried on by labourers who
would be paid weekly wages and lodged in huts close to their work; and
that when the land had been properly fertilised it should be divided
into farms of forty acres and the men who have worked at reclaiming it
settled upon it with their families, and instructors appointed to
teach them farming. It is no part of the scheme that the land should
be given to the people. On the contrary, a rent should be charged
them, calculated upon the basis of a percentage on the original outlay
in the purchase of the estate and of the amount paid in wages,
together with a small sum to pay off the capital in the course of a
term of years. The occupant would thus in time become a freeholder,
and as much interested in maintaining the law as any other proprietor.
Meanwhile he would, like the Donegal folk mentioned by Mr. Tuke, live
on hopefully under the rule, for the time being, of the Kingdom, as
landlord.

I am far from inclined to detract in any way from the merit of Mr.
Mitchell Henry's project for Imperial reclamation any more than from
his scheme for draining and for improving the internal navigation of
Ireland. Although born in Lancashire he is a thorough-bred Irishman,
and naturally hopeful of his country. But, although I am most
painfully impressed by the fearful degradation into which a part of
the Western people has fallen, I cannot on that account shut my eyes
to their failings any more than to their poverty. Mr. Henry's scheme,
if it deferred actual proprietorship in fee simple till the next
generation, would I hope prove of incalculable benefit to Mayo and
Galway, especially if his excellent idea of appointing agricultural
instructors were carried out faithfully. But I fear from what I have
actually seen and heard from the most trustworthy informants of all
classes, that the forty-acre farmer of this generation would require a
firm hand to guide him. This is no insolent Saxon assumption of
superiority, but is said, after due consideration, sadly and
seriously. The poor people of the West have been brought very low, so
low that even their very virtues have become perverted into faults.
They are affectionate to their kith and kin; but this amiable quality
leads to their huddling together in a curiously gregarious way, and in
some cases has been made the means of extorting money from them. It is
this tendency to live together and thus divide and subdivide whatever
little property they may have, which will require to be most
strenuously guarded against.

It is of no use assigning to a man forty acres of land to get a living
out of, if he immediately sublets some of it to a less fortunate
friend, or takes all his remotest relations into partnership. It
requires no prophet's eye to discern that the instant the tenant's son
got married he would bring his wife home to his father's roof, and
that if the energies of the united family did not suffice to cultivate
the whole of the forty acres, part would be let at "conacre," that is,
for the period of one harvest, to a man with or without a holding of
his own. The tendency to bring several families together in one cabin
is almost irresistible, and has, as mentioned above, not been wisely
and firmly met by proprietors, but taken a mean advantage of to wring
money out of tenants.

Subdivision of holdings has in many cases been, not sternly forbidden
on pain of eviction, but made the occasion of inflicting a fine. This
shabby and extortionate kind of protest against subdivision has long
obtained on certain estates. If one may believe evidence given on oath
in a court of justice, as reported in a local newspaper, there was
within the last twenty years on at least one estate a custom of
exacting a fine from tenants who married without leave. Probably this
originated in some clumsy attempt to prevent the subdivision of
holdings and the accumulation of population in certain places--in
itself a laudable and necessary precaution. Whatever shape any attempt
to settle the unfortunate peasants on fresh holdings may take, the
tendency to subdivide and sublet must be sternly resisted--and
prevented. A thousand excuses will be made for taking partners, for
subletting on the "conacre" and other systems. "Sure I was sick, your
honour, and the farrum was gettin' desthroyed;" or, "I was too poor to
buy seed for the whole of it, and let some at conacre to Thady
O'Flaherty, that's a good man, your honour, as any in Galway!" or "Wad
ye have me tur-r-r-n my own childther out like geese on the mountain?"
are a few of the replies which would, I am assured by a native, be
made to any inquiry or reproof concerning the subletting of land or
the accumulation of people. But if any attempt be made to help the
West, nothing of the kind must be listened to. The young bees must
depart from the parent hive and begin life on their own account. This
may appear the harsh judgment of a half-informed traveller. It is, on
the contrary, the mere reflection of native opinion.



VI.

THE RELIEF OF MR. BOYCOTT.


BALLINROBE, CO. MAYO,
_Wednesday, Nov. 10th._

Finding that despite all the influence brought to bear upon it the
Boycott Brigade was actually going to invade Lough Mask, I came from
Galway to-day by the route preferred by Mr. Boycott himself, just
before I met him and Mrs. Boycott herding sheep more than a fortnight
ago. The steam packet _Lady Eglinton_ conveyed an oddly assorted
freight. Among the passengers were Mrs. Burke, the wife of Lord
Ardilaun's agent, two commercial travellers, the representative of the
_Daily News_, and thirty-two of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who had
been summoned from Galway to the scene of action. From every side
soldiers and constabulary--soldiers in everything but name--converge
upon Ballinrobe and Claremorris, townlets, which, if one could quite
believe their artless inhabitants, are Arcadian in their simplicity,
prosperous to every degree short of the payment of rent, and
absolutely safe as to life and property.

When the good ship _Lady Eglinton_ had puffed and scraped her way
through the tortuous shallows of Lough Corrib to Cong, she was
received by a large meeting of the country folk assembled on the pier.
Fortunately I had secured a car from Ballinrobe to await my arrival,
and the driver, a perfect "gem of the sea," received me with high good
humour. "To Ballinrobe, your honour?" he said, and drove off like a
true son of Nimshi. As soon as he was fairly on the way, I said that I
should like to drive to Ballinrobe by Lough Mask House. "It's not on
our way, your honour," was the first and civil objection. I then
observed that I wished to go that way in order to call on Mr. Boycott.
"Sure it's a different way altogether, your honour," was the answer.
"A long way round, your honour." Then I said, after the brutal Saxon
fashion, "Go that way, nevertheless." No answer, but the speed of the
car relaxed until two other cars came up. Then a particularly wild
Irish conversation was kept up among the drivers, and I observed a
pleasant commercial gentleman who was bound for the village, as
distinguished from the landing-place of Cong, laughing consumedly as
his car branched off and left me to pursue my way in the twilight.
Then my car-driver, evidently backed by a brother car-driver, put his
case plainly. He had been engaged to drive a gentleman from Cong to
Ballinrobe, and would do what he had engaged to do cheerfully, but he
had not engaged himself to go to Lough Mask House. It was not, as a
notorious claimant said, "in the contract." I hinted that a mile or
two out of the way, even Irish miles, could not matter; that at
complete sundown there would be a moon; that increased pay would be
given. Not the slightest effect was produced.

My driver would go to Ballinrobe and nowhere else. He had not engaged
to go to Lough Mask House, and he would not go. I confess that for an
instant I asked myself should I threaten my man and make him take me
to Lough Mask whether he liked it or not; but an instant's reflection
convinced me that any such attempt would be worse than futile. The
horse would go lame or fall down within a quarter of a mile, and I
should never arrive anywhere. So I tried coaxing, much against the
grain, but it was of no use. To Lough Mask House the car-driver would
not go. He would drive me to Galway or to Newport, "bedad," but "divil
a fut" would he stir towards the accursed spot. He was good enough to
say that he would not interfere with me. If I liked to walk, I was
welcome to do it. Now a walk of seven Irish miles at sundown in a
steady rain, over a line of road watched at every turn by disaffected
peasants, was not attractive; so I made a last appeal to my
car-driver's personal courage--Was he afraid? "Begorra, he was not
afraid of anything, but would my honour want to set the whole country
against him?" This is what it all came to. He durst not for his life
drive anybody to Mr. Boycott's with or without escort. He was
compelled to form part of the strike.

Here in Ballinrobe we are in a state of siege. About 600 soldiers came
in last night, who, together with the resident garrison, make a rough
total of 750 military. Claremorris, I hear, is also strongly occupied
to-night. In Ballinrobe are now stationed, under Colonel Bedingfeld,
R.A., commanding the district, two squadrons of the 19th Hussars, or
123 sabres, commanded by Major Coghill. The Royal Dragoons, under the
command of Captain Tomkinson, number sixty sabres, and with the
Hussars will probably perform the main work of convoy to-morrow. The
Royal Engineers are also represented, and 400 men of the 84th Regiment
from the Curragh, under Lieut.-Colonel Wilson, have reinforced the
resident detachment of the 76th Regiment, commanded by Captain Talbot.
Moreover, there are nearly two hundred Royal Irish Constabulary in the
town, and the sub-inspector, Mr. McArdle, has his work cut out for
to-morrow. A great part of the troops are now under canvas, and last
night were in even worse condition.

As one trudges across the slushy road over Ballinrobe Fair Green, the
illuminated tents light up the foreground pleasantly, while the moon
tinges the tree-tops and the river Robe with silver. All is beautiful
enough were it not for the persistent rattle of the sabre and the
jingle of the spur. So far as can be ascertained at present the Ulster
contingent will consist of no more than fifty men, who will probably
arrive by train at Claremorris about three o'clock to-morrow
afternoon. Early in the forenoon a hundred infantry and sixty sabres
of the Royal Dragoons will occupy Lough Mask House and the surrounding
fields, and about four hundred infantry, a strong detachment of
police, and the two squadrons of the 19th Hussars will receive the
harvesters at Claremorris and escort them to Lough Mask House.

It has been suggested that if sufficient cars can be requisitioned the
Boycott Brigade might be mounted upon them and sent through guarded by
the cavalry alone. The pace at which this evolution could be performed
is its greatest recommendation. Any encounter with the people of the
country side, who are sure to assemble in large numbers, would be
completely prevented, and, what is of greater importance, the reapers
would reach their destination before sundown. The long distance from
Claremorris would be certain to prolong a foot march into the night,
when all kinds of complication might occur. At the moment of writing
the streets are dotted with little knots of people, and the excitement
concerning the morrow is intense.


BALLINROBE, CO. MAYO, _Thursday, Nov. 11th._

Hearing that the march of the Ulster men upon Lough Mask House would
not commence till nearly nightfall, I drove over early this morning to
Mr. Boycott's in a private carriage, hired cars being, for the reasons
stated yesterday, quite unattainable. "Did your honour wish to set the
country on me?" is the only reply vouchsafed by car-drivers since one
of their body was cruelly beaten, presumably for the unpardonable sin
of driving a policeman to the house under taboo.

The drive through the warm soft morning air was much pleasanter than
that of yesterday evening; nor did people start up in an uncomfortable
way from behind the stone wall, as they did last night. At intervals
the sun shone out on the reddened foliage, greatly changed in hue
since my first visit to Lough Mask. The half-dozen persons I met
appeared to be going about their daily work like good citizens; and a
casual visitor might, if he could have persuaded anybody to drive him
along the road to Lough Mask, have gone away convinced that the whole
story of wrong and outrage was the work of a distempered brain. The
isolated dwelling itself was by far the most gloomy object in the
landscape--grey and prison-like as most of the Irish houses of its
class.

Mr. Boycott's habitation has thoroughly the look of a place in which
crimes have been, or, as a native of these parts suggested, "ought to
be committed." Two dark figures of the Royal Irish Constabulary occupy
the front-door step, and others of the same keep watch and ward over
stables and ground. Nearly three weeks of painful excitement had made
but slight change in Mr. Boycott's family. His wife and daughter live
under circumstances which would drive many people mad, and the
combative land-agent and farmer himself maintains a belligerent
attitude, the grey head and slight spare figure bowed, but by no means
in submission. On the contrary, never was Mr. Boycott's attitude more
defiant. It is only by skilful subterfuge that he can get a shirt
washed for his outer, or a loaf of bread made for his inner man. The
underground routes which existed a fortnight ago are closed. In fact
"every earth is stopped," and the hunted man is driven to the open.
Not a soul will sell him sixpence-worth of anything. He cannot even
get a glass for his watch, for the watch-maker no more than anybody
else dare serve him. Every feature of his extraordinary situation
depicted in my first letter on "Disturbed Ireland" is exaggerated
almost to distortion.

Last evening the following letter was handed to him by the tenants of
Lord Erne:--"Kilmore. Nov. 10, 1880. C.C. Boycott, Esq. Sir,--In
accordance with the decision made in Lord Erne's last letter to us, we
want you to appoint a day to receive the rents.--THE TENANTS. A reply
requested."

Mr. Boycott's reply was that he was ready to receive the rents at ten
o'clock this morning, an hour after which time he received the
following notice:--"The tenants request an answer to the following
before they pay you the rent:--1st. Don't you wish you may get it?
2nd. When do you expect the Orangemen, and how are they to come? 3rd.
When are you going to hook it? Let us know, so that we may see you
off. 4th. Are you any way comfortable? Don't be uneasy in your mind:
we'll take care of you. Down with the landlords and agents. God save
Ireland." Such communications as this are agreeable and amusing enough
when addressed to a distant friend, but are hardly so diverting when
directed to one's self. It is also disquieting to hear people say, as
one passes, "He will not hear the birds sing in spring."

Next to open and secret enemies, indiscreet friends are, perhaps, the
most disagreeable of created beings. Unfortunate Mr. Boycott, who
wanted a score, at most, of Northern men to get in his crop, has been
threatened with an invasion from Ulster. The opposition of the
Government to such "Ulsterior" measures, as a Galway man called them
to-day, has at least had the effect of moderating the rancour of the
relief expedition. Only fifty, with baggage and implements, are
announced as on the march, but even this number is a hideous
infliction on Mr. Boycott. He has nowhere to lodge them but in a
barn, and has assuredly not the wherewithal to feed them, so that
their help and sympathy are somewhat overwhelming. Three hundred men
of the 76th Regiment have been sent over from Castlebar to Claremorris
to keep order, with Captain Webster's squadron of the 19th Hussars to
furnish escort to Hollymount, where a troop of the Royals, under
Lieutenant Rutledge, and 200 men of the 84th Regiment meet them. To
Lough Mask House itself a squadron of the 19th Hussars and 100
infantry have been despatched to occupy the ground inspected and
selected this morning by Colonel Bedingfeld and Captain Tomkinson
during my visit to Mr. Boycott.


BALLINROBE, CO. MAYO, _Friday Night, Nov. 12th._

The march of the Ulster contingent last evening commenced smoothly
enough at Claremorris. The dismal little country station was lined
with troops, and perhaps made a more brilliant show than at any other
period during its existence. After the manner of this part of the
country the train due at 2.41 arrived at 3.30 P.M., and it was almost
twilight before the well-guarded procession commenced. Perhaps two
thousand persons assembled at dreary Claremorris, but the small
representation of the country side made up for the paucity of its
numbers by the loudness of its voice. The groans which announced the
arrival of the train were repeated again and again as the sixty-three
officers and men of the Ulster contingent made their way towards the
cars engaged for them. At the cars, however, some difficulty occurred;
for the drivers absolutely refused to carry anybody but police. They
were not bound, they said, to carry Orangemen, and would not carry
them. This difficulty occasioned some little hustling, but the upshot
was that the Ulster men, a well-grown, powerful set of fellows, were
compelled to walk all the way from Claremorris to the infantry
barracks at Ballinrobe.

The march was inexpressibly dreary. When any sound was heard it was a
yell, and these expressions of disapprobation were repeated at
Hollymount, and with increased vigour at Ballinrobe, where the streets
were full of people. The Boycott Brigade was last night kept strictly
within barracks, not a soul being allowed to venture out of the gate.

The general aspect of everybody and everything in Ballinrobe this
morning expressed fatigue. The Ulster contingent, who call themselves
"workmen," were terribly knocked up by their walk of about thirteen
miles from Claremorris, a fact which hardly speaks well for their
thews and sinews, but in fairness it must be admitted that they were
obliged to undertake their march after a long and fatiguing railway
journey, at sundown, on a muddy road, and in alternate light and heavy
rain. They were also poorly fed, for their carts and implements
generally only came in here this afternoon, escorted by the Royal
Dragoons, under Captain Tomkinson, during part of the distance, and
for the remainder by a troop of the 19th Hussars; wherefore the Ulster
"workmen" hardly appeared to advantage this morning until breakfast
had been supplied them in the infantry barracks. Then they
straightened their backs and stood squarely enough to make a very old
soldier exclaim with delight, "Foine men, sorr, they'd be with me to
dhrill 'um for a couple o' weeks."

Poorly fed as the Orangemen were, their case was not nearly so hard as
that of the military. It is all very well to send "the fut and the
dhragoons in squadhrons and plathoons" to the fore, but it is not
clever to send them to Ballinrobe or elsewhere without tents, baggage,
or food. That furious Ulster Tories, "spoiling for a fight," should
leave everything but repeating rifles and revolving pistols behind
when rushing to possible fray is quite conceivable; but that the
Control Department should always blunder when troops are moved rapidly
is not quite so easy to understand.

By what appears almost persistent clumsiness the troops sent hither
were allowed to arrive many hours before their tents, baggage, and
provisions. Suddenly ordered to leave Dublin, two squadrons of the
19th Hussars, a not very huge or unmanageable army of a hundred and
twenty men, came away without being allowed to bring rations with
them. The effect of this blundering is that the Hussars have been
pursued by their food and tents, and on the night of their arrival
were utterly without any accommodation whatever. The cooking pots have
only just arrived here. Why it should take three days to convey a
cooking pot over the distance a man travels in less than ten hours it
is difficult to imagine; but the fact is absolutely true,
nevertheless. The officer commanding the unlucky Hussars has more
cause to complain than any of his men, for, owing to an accident to
his own charger on the railway platform, he was obliged to ride a
fresh horse, which, startled by the crowd, yesterday reared suddenly,
and fell backwards upon Major Coghill, who is now confined to his
room. It is hoped that no bones are broken, but this is not yet
accurately ascertained, so great is the swelling and inflammation.

The hour of starting was late, by reason of everybody being tired with
the hard, dull, wet work of yesterday, unrelieved by the slightest
approach to a breach of the peace. Fatigue and disappointment had done
their work, and only a few of the more ardent and sanguine spirits
looked cheerfully forward to the march to Lough Mask House. The
Orangemen, however, had not lost all hope, and one stalwart fellow,
who told me he was a steward, and not an agricultural labourer,
rejoiced in carrying a perfect arsenal, including a double-barrelled
gun of his own, a "repeater" of Mr. Maxwell's, and several full-sized
revolvers. This honest fellow confessed that digging potatoes and
pulling mangolds were not his regular occupations, but that he had
come "for the fun of the thing," and to show them there were still
"loyal men left in Ireland." This is hardly the place in which to
discuss the loyalty which goes on an amateur potato-digging excursion
armed with Remington rifles and navy revolvers and escorted by an army
of horse, foot, and police.

The quality of loyalty, like that of mercy, is not strained, but it
has fallen upon Mayo unlike the "gentle dew from heaven." The people
here are undoubtedly cowed by the overwhelming display of military
force, but they vow revenge for the affront put upon the soil of the
county by the Northern invaders. Against the soldiers no animosity is
felt, but the hatred against the cause of their presence is bitter and
profound. Mayo has its back up, and only waits for an opportunity of
vengeance.

At eleven o'clock the march from the barracks to Lough Mask commenced.
First came a strong detachment of constabulary, then a squadron of the
19th Hussars, commanded by Captain Webster, and next two hundred men
of the 84th and 76th Regiments, who completely surrounded and enclosed
the so-called "workmen" and their leaders, Mr. Somerset Maxwell, who
contested Cavan at the last election in the Conservative interest,
and Mr. Goddard, a solicitor of Monaghan, who led the men of that
county, with whom was the Mr. Manning to whose letters in the _Daily
Express_, a Dublin newspaper, the Orange movement is attributed in
this part of the country. In the rear came the men and waggons of the
Army Service Corps.

To the astonishment of most of those who formed part of the procession
the number of persons assembled to witness it was almost ridiculously
small, and popular indignation roared as gently as a sucking-dove. In
their own opinion the most law-abiding of Her Majesty's subjects, the
Ballinrobe folk indulged but very slightly in groaning or hissing, and
when the little army got clear of the town its sole followers were a
couple of cars, a market cart, and a private gig driven by a lady, the
tag-rag and bobtail being made up of a dozen bare-legged girls, whose
scoffs and jeers never went beyond the inquiry, "Wad ye dig auld
Boycott's pitaties, thin?" There was no wit or humour racy of the
soil, no flashes of bitter sarcasm, no pungent observations: everybody
felt that the thing was going off like a damp firework, and that,
bating the "Dead March" from _Saul_, it was very like a funeral.
Still, those who ought to know declared that the absence of any
demonstration was in itself a bad sign. Hardly any men were seen on
the line of march, but it was said that scouts were on every hill, and
that pains were being taken to identify the Orangemen. It was also
heard on the best authority that Mr. Ruttledge's herds had been
threatened and ordered to quit his service by the mysterious agency
which rules the rural mind of Mayo.

Silently, except for an occasional laugh or two from a colleen
standing by the wayside, we kept the line of march towards Lough Mask.
At the village, standing on two townlands, a few more spectators hove
in sight, but at no point could more than a dozen be counted. As the
sun now shone through the western sky it revealed a picturesque as
well as interesting scene.

Like a huge red serpent with black head and tail, the convoy wound
gradually up a slight hill, the scarlet thrown into relief by the long
line of grey walls on either side, beyond which lay green fields and
clumps of trees dyed with the myriad hues of autumn, the distance
being filled in by the purple mountains beyond Lough Mask. Presently
came the angle which marks the extremity of Captain Boycott's land.
Taking the road to the right, we approached the house under ban, and
around which a crowd of peasants had been expected. The only human
beings in sight were the police guarding the entrance by the lodge,
and those stationed near the hut on a slight eminence to the right.
Here the surrounding trees contrasted vividly with the animated and
highly coloured scenes beneath. Completely enclosed by foliage was an
encampment of the most picturesque kind.

On the greenest of all possible fields in front of the tents the
officers commanding the escort, the leaders of the Ulster Brigade, and
the resident magistrates were received by Mr. Boycott, who appeared in
a dark shooting-dress and cap, and carried a double-barrelled gun in
his hand. A little further on stood Mrs. Boycott and her nephew and
niece, the house itself seeming almost deserted. The workmen, like the
troopers, formed in line, and appeared to be equally well armed.

Presently the arduous task of stowing the uninvited Northern
contingent was undertaken. The troops, who had remained on the ground
all night, and had been reduced to straits by the failure of the
commissariat, had, after some reflection and the exercise of
considerable patience, taken care of themselves as best they might.
Sheep had been slain, and chickens and geese had lent savoury aid to
the banquet of the warriors, who also, in the absence of other fuel,
were constrained to make short work of Lord Erne's trees. But they had
done their work cheerfully in the cold and wet, and had pitched tents
for the Ulster men. When the belligerent "agriculturists" came to be
told off into these tents an amusing difficulty, illustrative of the
light handling necessary to the conduct of affairs in Ireland,
interrupted the dulness which had hitherto oppressed all present.

Those "agriculturists" who hailed from Cavan insisted that they would
foregather only with Cavan men, while the men of Monaghan were equally
indisposed to give a Cavan man "as much space as a lark could stand
on" in their tents. Moreover some jealousy was exhibited as to the
situation and furniture of the tents assigned to the two wings of the
army of relief. At last harmony was restored, and the edifying
spectacle of Cavan and Monaghan fighting it out then and there, while
Mayo looked on, was averted, greatly to the sorrow of a Mayo friend of
mine, whose eyes sparkled and whose mouth watered at the delicious
prospect.

It seems that Mr. Boycott, fully aware of the feelings of Mayo folk
after having Orangemen set on them, is about to leave the country, at
least for a while, after his crop has been got in--probably a rational
decision on his part. Meanwhile he is having a hard time of it between
friends and foes. His enemies have spoiled a great part of his crop,
and what they have left his defenders threaten to devour.


BALLINROBE, CO. MAYO, _Nov. 13._

A wild night of wind and rain was borne with unflagging spirit by the
unlucky troops condemned to the most uncongenial of tasks. The fair
green of Ballinrobe is now a quagmire, and the men under canvas have
had the roughest possible night of it. Only two tents were actually
carried away, but the hurricane made all those in the others
uncomfortable enough. For ordinary pedestrians, perhaps, the slush of
this morning was better than the sticky mud of yesterday, in which it
was impossible to move; but the autumnal charm of Ballinrobe was gone
for this year.

In the cavalry encampment the leaves lay thick around the unfortunate
horses exposed to the weather with miserably insufficient covering.
There was a general air of wetness and wretchedness from the infantry
to the cavalry barracks, and some misgivings were entertained as to
the condition of the garrison of Lough Mask House. General opinion has
set in decidedly against the Ulster contingent: horse and foot, and
police, magistrates and floating population unite in wishing the
Ulster Orangemen "five fathoms under the Rialto." In the language of
those who dwell habitually on the banks of the river the wish is
epigrammatically expressed, "May the Robe be their winding-sheet."

Originally imagined as a scheme to force the hand of the Government,
the Ulster invasion has been so far successful. The great actual
mischief has been already done. According to public opinion in Mayo,
the Government had no more than the traditional three courses open to
them--they could have let armed Ulster come in hundreds or thousands,
an invading force, and civil war would have ensued; they could have
allowed the small number of labourers really needed by Mr. Boycott to
arrive by threes and fours, at the risk of not getting alive to Lough
Mask at all; and they could do as they have done. The probable effect
of the movement, if any, will be to bring Mr. Somerset-Maxwell to the
fore at the next contest for the county of Cavan. It may be imagined
that the picked men of Monaghan are not very pleased at playing second
fiddle to an electioneering scheme. Concerning Cavan, the hope of a
fight between the men of the two counties has by no means died away.

To do justice to the Ulster men, they displayed a great deal of
earnestness at Lough Mask House this morning. In the midst of a
hurricane a large number of them went bravely out to a potato field
and worked with a conscience at getting out the national vegetables,
which ran a risk of being completely spoiled by the rain. The
potatoes, however, might, as Mr. Boycott opined, have been spoiled if
they had remained in the ground, and might as well be ruined in one
way as the other.

The remainder of the Orangemen, when I saw them, were busy in the barn
with a so-called "Tiny" threshing-machine, threshing Mr. Boycott's
oats with all the seriousness and solemn purpose befitting their task.
Nothing could have been more dreary and wretched than the entire
proceedings. Mr. Boycott himself had discarded his martial array of
yesterday, and appeared in a herdsman's overcoat of venerable age,
and, as he grasped a crook instead of a double-barrelled gun, looked
every inch a patriarch. He exhibits no profuse gratitude towards the
officious persons who have come to help him, thinking probably that he
would have been nearly as well without them. Thanks to his obstructive
assistants, he is almost overwhelmed with sympathisers gifted by
nature with tremendous appetites. Keen-eyed officers detect the
mutton-bones which tell of unauthorised ovicide, and "clutches" of
geese and chickens vanish as if by magic. There will be a fearful bill
for somebody to pay when the whole business is over, whenever that may
be.

From every quarter I hear acts of the so-called "staunchness" of the
population. When Captain Tomkinson went over to Claremorris yesterday
with dragoons to convey the carts and other impediments of the Ulster
division, it happened that one of the cart-horses lost a shoe. Will it
be believed that it was necessary to delude the only blacksmith who
could be captured with a story that the animal belonged to the Army
Service Corps? Simple and artless, the Claremorris blacksmith made the
shoe: but before he could put it on he was "infawrrumd" that the beast
he was working for was in an Ulster cart. Down fell the hammer, the
nails, and the shoe. The blacksmith was immovable. Not a blow more
would he strike for love or money; nor would any blacksmith for miles
around this place. At last the shoe was got on to the horse's foot
among the military and police; but not a soul belonging to this part
of the country would drive a cart at any price.

All this appears to point to the conclusion that when Mr. Boycott's
potatoes, turnips, and mangolds are got in, and his oats are threshed
out, when his sheep are either sold or devoured on the spot by his
hungry defenders, he will accompany the Orangemen on their return
march, at least to the nearest railway station. That neither he nor
his auxiliaries would be safe for a single hour after the departure of
the military is certain, and the expense of maintaining a huge
garrison in Ballinrobe will therefore of necessity continue until the
last potato is dug and the last turnip pulled.[1] If the weather were
only moderately favourable, the work might be got through in a week or
ten days; but if it rains as it has done to-day, it is quite
impossible to say when it will be done. As I was looking at the men
potato-digging the rain seemed to cut at one's face like a whip, and
all through the afternoon Ballinrobe has been deluged. In this
beautiful island everybody disregards ordinary rain, but the downpour
of the last few days is quite extraordinary. The river is swollen to
double its usual size, and the slushy misery endured by the military
under canvas is quite beyond general camp experience. The soldiers
have only one consolation--that the Orangemen are under canvas too.


GALWAY, _Tuesday, Nov. 16th._

"Thim that is snug, your honour, is slower in payin' than thim that is
poor," said one of my informants a few days ago, just as I was setting
out for the seat of war in county Mayo. The speaker was a Connemara
man, and his remark was applied more particularly to his own region;
but the state of affairs in the neighbouring county illustrates his
opinion in the most vivid colours.

Ballinrobe is the centre of a by no means unprosperous part of
Ireland. Pretty homesteads are frequent, and well-furnished stackyards
refresh the eye wearied with looking upon want and desolation. Between
Ballinrobe and Hollymount the country is agreeably fertile; toward
Cong and Cloonbur, where Lord Mountmorres was shot, and in the
direction of Headford, on the Galway road, there is plenty of evidence
of prosperity. It is, however, precisely in the rich country lying
east of Lough Mask that the greatest disinclination to pay rent
prevails. Nowhere is the disaffected party more completely organized,
and nowhere is it, rightly or wrongly, thought that some of the
tenants could more easily pay up if they liked. As contrasted with
the hovels of the northern part of Mayo and the west of county
Galway, the houses at Ballinrobe are comfortable, and the people
apparently naturally well off. Moreover, they have a better idea of
what comfort is than the inhabitants of the seaboard. I cannot better
show this than by describing the houses in which I passed part, at
least, of the last two Sundays.

When I arrived at Ballinrobe on Wednesday last it was almost
impossible to obtain quarters either for love or money. I had
telegraphed beforehand to that most civil and obliging of
hotel-keepers, Mr. Valkenburgh, of Ballinrobe, to secure rooms for me
and send a car to Cong. The car came, and the driver with whom I had
the debate already recorded, but it had been impossible to obtain a
room for me anywhere. Mr. Valkenburgh's own house was crammed to the
roof with closely laid strata of guests, from the American reporter
under the roof to the cavalry officer in the front parlour. There was
nothing for it but to be bedded out--a severe infliction in some parts
of Ireland. The polite hotel-keeper finally bethought him that in the
house of a widow, who had only four officers of Hussars staying with
her, a stray corner could be found; and I was finally established in
the widow's drawing-room or best parlour, in which a cot, only a foot
too short for me, was placed.

The excellent woman, whose house was converted into military
quarters, is by no means rich. Her late husband was in the office of a
neighbouring landlord, and would appear to have been just getting on
in the world when he died. He certainly lived in a house properly so
called; not a house in the Irish meaning of the word, which includes a
Connemara cabin. It is only one storey high. The ground floor is
occupied by two parlours, a kitchen, and offices; the bedrooms being
upstairs. There are curious signs of better times about the place. My
bed was far too short, but by the side of it was an old-fashioned
square pianoforte. There was no carpet on the floor, but the lamp was
a very good one, and well trimmed. The fire was entirely of turf, but
of enormous size, and on the mantelpiece were some excellent
photographs. Hens clucked as they hopped on to the table, and a
red-headed colleen was perpetually chasing a cat of almost equally
ruddy hue, but everybody was mightily civil and kindly. The room was
full of peat-smoke, but the eggs were undeniably fresh; so that there
were compensations on every side. The widow, her step-daughter, and
the colleen before mentioned did all the work. They made my bed, what
there was of it, they tended the fire with unflagging zeal, they
brought water in very limited quantity for the purposes of ablution,
they dried my boots and clothes with almost motherly care and
tenderness when I came in out of the pouring rain. In fact, nobody
could have been kinder or more attentive, and when Major Coghill was
laid up by his accident their sympathy was almost overwhelming. Yet I
believe that we annoyed them and deranged the tenor of their lives by
our matutinal habits. Perhaps they might have been strong enough to
resist my desperate efforts to get a cup of tea at some time before
nine o'clock in the morning, but the officers' servants were too
strong for them. They came and knocked the house up betimes, and then
the bustle of the day began.

Now, I have been assured by the Irish priests and people that whatever
faults your Commissioner may have, prejudice against Ireland and the
Irish is not one of them. But at the risk of being thought a
censorious Saxon I must confess that I am quite at issue with Western
Ireland on the question of early rising. It is impossible to get
anybody out of bed in the morning except the Boots at an hotel, and
then the chances are that no hot water is to be obtained.

A housemaid in one of the Mayo hotels on coming up to make a fire
complained bitterly, not of the toil of coming up stairs, but of the
early hour of ten, and do what I would I could get nothing done
earlier. On another occasion I was told that people out West rose late
because the "day is long enough for hwhat we have got to do." I
retorted that they did not do it, but fear that my remark was put
down to prejudice. It is not my function to indulge in sweeping
assertions, but if I were asked why the Western people do not prosper
I should be inclined to reply--Because they will not turn out early in
the morning.

But they are pleasant people in Ballinrobe nevertheless. Our widow
never complained of our unearthly hours any more than we did of the
turf smoke which communicated a high flavour to all our habiliments.
The widow, although not rich, is evidently "snug" in her
circumstances. She has a farm or two, part of which is underlet of
course. This is another peculiarity of Irish life very remarkable to
the stranger. Everybody seems to do work by deputy. A proprietor of a
landed estate, not worth a thousand pounds a year when interest is
paid on the various mortgages, would never think of being his own
agent--that is doing his own work on his own estate. Not at all. He
employs an agent who, thinking him rather small fry, neglects him or
hands him over to the bailiff, who again transfers him to his
"headmen," so that three people are paid for looking on before anybody
does anything. This practice also may be in part the cause of the
decay of the wild West.

I have been so far particular in my remarks concerning the Ballinrobe
widow, in order to compare the inland standard of comfort with that
prevailing on the sea-coast. Just before the Ulster invasion as it is
called here, I was induced to go to Omey Island. It is a place of evil
repute for poverty, but is as healthy as it ought to be, having the
blue Atlantic for one lung and the brown hills of Connemara for the
other. It is one of those interesting islands which become peninsulas
at low tide, a charming natural feature making it a matter of tidal
calculation whether one can drive on board of them or not. It is not
as bad as Innishark, which requires a trained gymnast to effect a
landing, for it only needs nimbleness of brain instead of that of
limbs.

While that zealous and hard-working young minister of the gospel,
Father Rhatigan, was saying mass, and visiting that part of his flock
congregated at Claddaghduff Chapel, I made my way over the
intermittent isthmus of dry, hard, fine sand. It was an agreeable
change from the road, which for some distance had lain over a "shaved
bog"--that is, a locality from which the peat had been cut away down
to its rocky bed. For some distance nothing was visible but stones, on
which the rain came plashing down like a cataract. But the aspect and
situation of Omey Island are such as to suggest to the speculative
mind another and better Scheveningen without anything between it and
Labrador. The island is not, however, purely sandbank, as Scheveningen
appears to be, for it has a nucleus of rock, the sand being a later
accumulation, every year increasing in volume, after the manner
observed in Donegal, or as stones are amassed at Dungeness. I had
heard wild stories of Omey Island, of troglodytes, hungry dwellers in
rocky seaside caves, and rabbit-people burrowing in the sand. As
Maundeville observes, "Verilie I have not seen them," but I can quite
understand how the story was spread.

Over against the inhabited part of the island is what is now a mere
sandbank. It is now covered with sand, and not a soul dwells thereon.
But there were people there once who clung to their stone cabins till
the sand finally covered them; so that they might fairly be described
as dwellers or burrowers therein. At last their cabins became sanded
up, and the poor folk moved to their present situation. Now I have
seen superb potatoes grown literally in the sand at Scheveningen, and
was not surprised to hear that Omey Island was once so famous for the
national staff of life that few cared to grow anything else. But there
are difficulties everywhere, and it is parlous work to break up ground
at Omey. There is too much fresh air; for it blows so hard that people
are afraid to disturb the thin covering of herbage which overspreads
the best part of the island. "If ye break the shkin of 'um, your
honour, the wind blows the sand away and leaves your pitaties bare.
And, begorra, there are nights when the pitaties thimselves 'ud be
blown away."

Statements like this must always be taken at a reduction, but,
judging from my own experience, Omey is a "grand place for weather
entirely." Half of the island is rented by a considerable farmer, for
these parts. He pays a hundred pounds a year for his farm at Omey, and
a hundred and fifty for another cattle farm up on the hills. When I
said he "pays," I am not at all sure whether he has paid up this year
or not, but he has flocks and herds, and of course is a responsible
tenant. Yet he lives with his family in but a "bettermost" sort of
cabin. His wife treated me most hospitably; in fact, she paid me too
much honour, for she insisted that I should not sit round the fire
with the countryfolk, but occupy the best parlour, a room large
enough, but blackened with smoke, and unutterably depressing, despite
the cabinet pianoforte opposite the fireplace. Musical instruments of
torture appear to be considered a necessary mark of competence in
Western Ireland, just as a big watch-chain is in certain parts of
England. Not a soul on Omey Island could play the pianoforte, thank
heaven; so it remained with its back against the wall, as mute
evidence of solvency. There was no carpet on the floor, which was of a
fine dirt-colour, and the chickens, ducks, and geese circulated freely
about.

Here now was a man paying, or promising to pay, 250l. a year in rent,
and who yet seemed to have not the faintest idea of comfort. It should
be recollected that my visit was paid on a Sunday, when his family
would be seen at their best; but the girls were running about with
bare feet and dirty faces, and the neighbouring gossips, also
barefooted and dirty beyond all imagination, were hanging round the
fire, talking amongst themselves about the stranger, and half mad with
curiosity concerning him. The farmer lived, it is true, in a wild
place; but sand is so clean a thing in itself that it is a mystery how
his tribe of children got so abominably dirty.

The drive homeward past Streamstown was wet enough, but still
interesting in many ways. In no part of Ireland has the curse of
middlemen been felt more severely than in Connemara. The middleman is
specially abhorrent to the people when he is one of themselves. He is
"not a gentleman, sure," is a deadly reproach in this part of the
country. Practically he is objectionable because, being one of the
people, he is aware of their tricks and their ways, and suspects them
as they hate and suspect him. What would be urbanity on the part of
the real "masther" is in the middleman viewed as deceit. The sharp
tone of command endurable in a superior is resented when employed by a
person of low origin. And it would seem that middlemen are not as a
race persons of agreeable character. All the old rags of feudalism
which have hung about Connemara long after their annihilation
elsewhere, have been saved wherever it was possible by the middleman.

I am not quite certain that any one of these has ever "hung out his
flag for fish" after the manner of the old proprietors who, when they
wanted fish for dinner, made their tenants obey their signal and put
back, whatever might be the chance of the night's catch. This flag
was, so "men seyn," hung out often by the Bodkins, the ancient owners
of Omey Island, but how long it is since it was last done is hardly
worth while to inquire. Far more interesting is the much talked of
"survival" of feudalism in the shape of what is called "duty work."
Something analogous to the _corvée_ existed, I believe, in Hungary
till a comparatively recent period, when it was commuted for rent.
Within the limits of the English Kingdom, however, stories about "duty
work" clash oddly on the ear, and yet I am assured that in the lesser
island of Turk such work has been insisted on and "processed" for
within twelve or eighteen months. Vexatious processes are not
undertaken just now for very obvious reasons.

"Duty work," so far as I can gather, is, or was--for no such work will
be done again in Ireland--a modified, form of the _corvée_. Here and
there it was enforced in various shapes. At Omey, in Aughrisbeg, at
Fountainhill, and at the lesser isle of Turk, the conditions varied
greatly. The general principle appears to have been that besides rent
in money, fine on entry, and dues analogous to tithes on stock of pigs
and poultry, a certain number of days in the year were the property
of the landlord. The usual term was about a week in spring and a week
at harvest-time. In some places five days only were exacted; in others
three. In the case concerning which I am best instructed, five days in
spring and five in harvest-time were demanded, together with any one
day in the year on which the tenant might be wanted, at a wage of
sixpence. If the tenant refuse "duty work" he may be sued in
court--the damage incurred by his default being generally assessed at
five pounds.

Now it does not require any very clear perception to discover that
among agriculturists or fishermen "duty work" is an improper mode of
levying tax. In spring and autumn, and especially in the latter, the
tenant requires for getting in his own crop precisely the week that
the landlord is entitled to claim. Yet he must leave his own to assist
his landlord. On one of the little islands, let to a middleman, all
the evil features of the _corvée_ are brought into prominence. The
island produces three kinds of sea-weed, the so-called "red weed," cut
off the rocks and used for kelp; the "black weed" on the shore, used
for manure for potato-fields--often the only manure to be got; and the
drift, or mixed weed.

After spring tides there is a great mass of drift-weed on the rocks,
half of which is on the territory reserved by the middleman, and the
other on that half rented by the tenants. The latter must give their
master his day's work first to get in his weed, and take the chance of
seeing their own washed away during the night.

From Ballynakill--where the ribs rising in the green grass-land, like
waves in an emerald sea, tell of extinct cultivation, of depopulated
villages, and an "exterminated" people--to the supremely wretched
islands of Bofin and Turk, the record is fearfully consistent. A
people first neglected, and then crushed by evictions, has sunk quite
below the level of civilization.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: This prediction was literally fulfilled.]



VII.

MR. RICHARD STACPOOLE.


ENNIS, CO. CLARE, _Nov. 21st._

At the seat of war by Lough Mask, I was informed that it would be
sheer waste of time to go to Clare; that all was peaceful in the
county which Daniel O'Connell formerly represented in Parliament; that
at Ennis, under the shadow of the Liberator's statue, rebel commotion
was unknown. All was quiet. It was true that people did not pay their
rent, but that was all. I should waste my time, and so forth. But no
sooner had I set foot in Ennis than I found that the _jacquerie_ which
broke out in Mayo and Galway had reached county Clare, and that at
least one gentleman living close to the principal town is at war with
his tenants and the country side.

The condition of affairs at Edenvale is in many respects even more
curious than that at Lough Mask House. There is none of the pomp and
circumstance of open war. There is not a soldier or a policeman on the
premises. All is calm and pastoral. From a lodge so neat and trim
that it is a pleasure to look upon it, a well-kept road winds through
a well-wooded and beautiful park, in the centre of which, on the brink
of a lake, stands a large and handsome country house. All is
ship-shape, from the gravel on the path to the knocker on the door,
which is promptly opened, without grating of bolt or rattle of chain,
by a clean, well-dressed, civil servitor.

All such signs of peace, order, and plenty are very noteworthy after
one has been four or five weeks in Mayo and Galway, and convey a first
impression that law, order, and civilization generally are to the fore
in county Clare. The large and handsome drawing-room strengthens the
conviction that here at least life and property are secure. It is true
that several double-barrelled guns are on the hall-table; but country
gentlemen in Ireland go out shooting as they do elsewhere. Several
large dogs, too, are running about outside the house; but as Mr.
Richard Stacpoole is a celebrated sportsman, there is nothing
wonderful in that.

Mr. Stacpoole, whose appearance and manner are as frank as his welcome
is hearty, is by no means reticent as to the matters in debate between
him and the tenants holding from him and other members of his family
for whom he acts as agent. To the question whether he goes in fear of
his life, he replies, "Not at all; I take care of that," and out of
the pocket of his lounging jacket he takes a revolver of very large
bore. It is a curious picture, this drawing-room at Edenvale. On his
own hearth-rug, in his own house, with a silky white Maltese lapdog
and a beautiful terrier nestling at his feet, stands no English or
Scotch interloper, agent, middleman, or "land-grabber," but the
representative of one of the oldest, most honourable, and, I may add,
till recently most honoured families in the county, with his hand on
the pistol which is never out of his reach by day or night. There was
once no more popular man in Clare. His steeplechasers win glory for
Ireland at Liverpool, whether they return a profit to their owner or
not. He keeps up, with slight assistance from members of the Hunt, a
pack of harriers, and hunts them himself. His cousin, the late Captain
Stacpoole, of Ballyalla, was the well-known "silent member" who for
twenty years represented Ennis in Parliament. Finally, he is spending
at least 3,000l. a year in household expenses alone; but he never
leaves his revolver; and he is in the right, for not two hours ago a
local leader declared to me with pale face and flaming eyes that he
would "gladly go to the gallows for 'um."

But the local leader does not, or at least has not yet shot at Mr.
Stacpoole because he "can't get at 'um"--a phrase which requires some
explanation. I had, with an eye becoming practised in such matters,
scanned the house and its approaches as I drove up to the door, and
had discussed with the friend who introduced me to its master the
chances of "stalking" that gentleman on his own ground. Trees and
brushwood grew more closely to the house than a military engineer
would have permitted, and I hazarded the opinion that it would be easy
to "do him over," as it is called. But on talking to Mr. Stacpoole I
quickly discover that the real reason why he is now alive is that
ninety-nine out of a hundred of his enemies are as afraid of him as
the Glenveagh folk up in Donegal are of Mr. J.G. Adair. Brave and
resolute to a fault, he has openly declared his dislike for what is
called "protection." "But," he observes, quietly and simply, "I always
carry my large-bore revolver, and I never walk alone, even across the
path to look down at the lake. Whenever I go out, and wherever I go, I
have a trustworthy man with me carrying a double-barrelled gun. His
orders are distinct. If anybody fires at me he is not to look at me,
but let me lie, and kill the man who fired the shot. And I am not sure
that if he saw an armed man near me in a suspicious attitude that he
wouldn't shoot first. I most certainly will myself. If I catch any of
them armed and lurking about here near my house, I will kill them, and
they know it."

There was no appearance of emotion in the speaker, whose collection of
threatening letters is large and curious. His position was clearly
defined. There was no longer any law in Clare. It was everybody for
himself, and he would take care of himself in his own way. Mr.
Stacpoole's situation is certainly extraordinary. He is not an
"exterminator," but perhaps he is a "tyrant," for everybody is
considered one who tries to exact obedience from any created being in
the west of Ireland. He has incurred the ill-will of the popular
party, mainly through his debate with one Welsh, or Walsh, a small
farmer.

So far as it is possible to understand the matter, this Welsh and two
other persons held a farm of about fifty acres among them as
co-tenants, paying each one-third of the rent. Whether Welsh had
reclaimed bog and increased his store is not clear, but it is certain
that when the lease fell in he had about half of the farm and the
other two tenants the other half between them.

Moreover, the land was not "striped" in blocks, but remained in
awkward patches, so that each man was obliged to cross the other's
land, and perpetual squabbling occurred. So when the question of a new
lease arose, Mr. Stacpoole sent a surveyor to divide the holding into
three equal shares as justly and conveniently as might be with
reference to the tenants' houses. This was done, the land was
re-valued at 12s. 6d. per acre, the tenants preferring to hold it
without a lease. Thus two were pleased and one displeased by the new
arrangement, and the displeased one, Welsh, or Walsh, was finally
evicted a short while since, and his house pulled down. Only the other
day a mob assembled, rebuilt Welsh's house, and reinstated his wife
and family, who occupy it at this moment. Welsh himself is not with
them for the reason that Mr. Stacpoole has an attachment out against
him. However, the family remains, and no process-server would show his
face at the rebuilt house for fifty pounds. Mr. Stacpoole could, of
course, go and turn the people out as trespassers, but does not think
it worth while until he joins issue with all the recalcitrant tenants
under his control. Some forty of these will neither pay up nor
surrender their holdings, and Mr. Stacpoole declares that he will get
Dublin writs against the whole of them, and that if they do not yield
he will evict them all and compel the authorities to support him.
There is no concealment about all this, and it is quite certain that
if Mr. Adair's action in the Derryveagh matter is imitated it will
only be by aid of the military. The landlord declares he will "have
his own," and the tenants talk ominously of the "short days and long
nights" between this and spring.

Meanwhile they carry on the war after their fashion. Only a few days
ago they levelled the walls of a holding which had not been
administered to please them by Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald. The week before
last when Mr. Stacpoole's harriers met there was a crowd assembled of
men on foot and on horseback, and the huntsman was ordered by the
fugleman of the mob to go home. Luckily Mr. Stacpoole himself was at
Liverpool, winning races with Turco, or something serious might have
happened. As it was, Mr. Healey and Mr. Studdert, well-known
cross-country riders, and very popular here, being present, as well as
one lady, the sport of hare-hunting was allowed to go on; but this
week, although ordered to go out with his hounds, the huntsman thought
it wiser to stay at home, and a meeting of the Hunt has been called to
consider what shall be done.

The people can and will prevent Mr. Stacpoole from hunting unless
members of the Hunt think it worth while to turn out with carbines and
revolvers, with the possible result of bringing on a civil war.
Probably the harriers will be taken over by a Committee of the Hunt to
whom the present owner offers them, as well as the use of his kennels.
Should his harriers be effectually prevented from hunting he will have
no farther reason for remaining in the country, and will probably shut
up his house, dismiss his servants, and leave Ireland; but this he
will not do until he has "had his own."



VIII.

PATRIOTS.


ENNIS, CO. CLARE, _Nov. 22nd._

Ennis, on deliberate inspection, proves to be by far the most
interesting western town I have yet visited. To paraphrase a familiar
saying, its politics and its liquor are as strong as they are
abundant. Ennis is famous for its electioneering fights, for its three
bridges, for its public square "forenint" O'Connell's statue, said to
have held thirty thousand people on a space which would not contain a
fifth of that number, for its numerous banks, for its fine salmon
river, the Fergus, for its police barrack, once the mansion of the
Crowe family, and for its long since closed Turkish bath, the ruined
proprietor whereof is now in the lunatic asylum on the road to
Ballyalla. Ennis is also proud of its County Club, of its handsome
drapery stores, of its brand-new waterworks, of its hundred and odd
whisky-shops, and of its patriots. Of the latter by far the most
eminent is a certain man named in newspaper reports M.G. Considine,
Esq., but better known to his fellow-citizens as "Dirty Mick." Mr.
Considine is a fine specimen of the good old crusted Irish patriot. He
has pursued patriotism ever since the day of Daniel O'Connell, and it
redounds greatly to his honour that he is now as poor as when he
started in that profession.

This Milesian Diogenes is in many respects the most remarkable man in
county Clare, after, if not before, The O'Gorman Mahon himself. He is
also the dirtiest. But the grime on Mr. Considine has a romantic
origin. It is the fakir's robe of filth. When he was only a budding
patriot the great Liberator once kissed him. Mr. Considine determined
that the cheek sanctified by the embrace of O'Connell should never
again be profaned by water, that the kiss should never be washed off.
Without speculating as to the degree of cleanliness previously
favoured by Mr. Considine, it must be conceded that it is very
difficult to wash day by day, or week by week, as the case may be,
round a certain spot on one cheek which, moreover, would soon get out
of harmony with the remainder of the countenance. It is easier,
"wiser, better far," to bring the whole face into harmony with the
sacred sunny side of it.

This has been done; and the result is a picture worthy of Murillo or
Zurbaran. From the grimy but handsome well-cut face gleam a pair of
bright, marvellously bright blue eyes, and the voice which bids
welcome to the stranger is curiously sweet and sonorous. Mr.
Considine is quite the best speaker here, and his summons will always
bring an audience to Ennis. One enthusiast said to me, "Whin he dies,
may the heaven be his bed, and his statue should be beside O'Connell's
in Ennis." Now this model patriot, whom every one must perforce
respect for his perfect honesty and disinterestedness, keeps a
wretched little shop in a trumpery cabin. His stock-in-trade consists
of a few newspapers, his pantry holds but potatoes. Yet he is a great
power in Ennis, and the candidate for that borough who neglected him
would fare badly. I am not insinuating that any charge of venality can
attach to him. Quite the contrary. He is admitted to be a perfectly
disinterested citizen by those most opposed to him socially and
politically. He is not only one of those who have kept the sacred fire
of agitation burning since the days of O'Connell, but he is the
possessor of relics of '98. He owns and dons upon occasion the Vinegar
Hill uniform, and has '98 flags by him to air on great days. By dint
of sheer honesty and truthfulness this poor grimy old man has become
actually one of the chiefs of county Clare.

Another patriot came under my notice in a queer kind of way. I had
gone to look at the reclamation works on the Fergus river, and there
encountered a scene odd and peculiar beyond previous experience.
Shortly before me, had arrived Mr. Charles George Mahon, the nephew
of The O'Gorman Mahon, and a Mr. Crowe. These two gentlemen being
neighbours of Mr. Drinkwater, had looked in to see his works, and in a
friendly way were chatting to one of his foremen, bringing work to a
standstill, but conducting themselves with the easy affability common
to the lesser proprietors of county Clare. All was going smoothly
when, like his predecessors, disregarding the warning that no person
could be admitted except on business, a strange personage put in an
appearance. Neither Cruikshank, Daumier, nor Doré ever conceived a
more grotesque figure than that which entered the Clare Reclamation
works.

Imagine a singularly small rough-coated donkey stunted by too early and
too hard work, and on its back a cripple--a _cul-de-jatte_--carrying
his crutches with him, laid across the withers of the unfortunate
animal he bestrode. Imagine also a face, very cleanly washed, and of
that Semitic outline and expression by no means uncommon in Connaught,
dark flashing eyes, an aquiline nose, and a wide expressive mouth.
Dismounted from his steed and placed up against the wall, the decently
dressed and well-spoken man, propped up on his crutches, would have
been thought rather an object of charitable interest than of distrust,
if not of fear.

This poor and apparently helpless man is a popular speaker and
lecturer--one who does not deliver his harangues in high places, but
rides on his donkey from village to village, spreading the doctrines
now acceptable to the rural population. By the upper classes he is
abhorred as a specially obnoxious and pestilent person. He, on the
other hand, considers himself oppressed. He was a National
Schoolmaster, but got into a scrape about a threatening letter, which,
it is fair to state, was not completely brought home to him. However,
he lost his place. In the hope that he might be reinstated he passed a
science and art examination, but he fared no better, and then found
that the trade of a popular agitator was the most congenial one he
could pursue. He is also an itinerant scribe, writing letters for
people who cannot write, making aggrieved people aware of the full
extent of their grievance, and assisting them to send furious letters
to the smaller local newspapers, concerning which I hesitate to
express any opinion, lest the readers of the _Daily News_ should think
they had stumbled upon the Commination Service.

The bright-eyed, flexible-mouthed _cul-de-jatte_ was firmly planted
against a stone wall, when his eye caught the figures of the two
gentlemen talking to Mr. Drinkwater's quarrymen. Immediately the eye
before-mentioned was aflame, and in sonorous tones the owner
"war-r-r-ned" the foremen and workmen from holding any converse with
Mr. Charles George Mahon, whom he addressed personally as "a
rack-renting landlord," and otherwise held up to scorn and derision.
Perched on his crutches, the cripple defied him, and poured out a
torrent of eloquence on "the fiery dthragon of hunger" and other
direful creatures, including landlords, which would have set at
defiance Canon Dwyer's "exploded shaft of Greek philosophy." The scene
afforded, at least to many there present, as much amusement as
astonishment. That a nephew of a county member should be publicly
attacked before a large number of people and be compelled to hear them
"war-r-r-ned" not to buy an egg or a pat of butter from his tenants
would be incredible anywhere else than in Ireland at this moment. But
people are growing accustomed to strange things in these parts.

The Clare Harriers Hunt Club met on Saturday, when Mr. Richard
Stacpoole formally made the offer of the hounds, got together by
himself at great expense, to the members of any Hunt Committee that
might be found. The offer was declined. Mr. Stacpoole then declared
his resolution to sell off the pack. He cannot keep them at Edenvale,
for his "dog-feeder" has been "warned" not to give bite or sup to the
animals for his life. So the hounds go to England to be sold, and the
eviction--of landlords--goes merrily on. Such things may appear
impossible. But it is precisely The Impossible which occurs every day
in Ireland.



IX.

ON THE FERGUS.


ENNIS, CO. CLARE, _Friday, Nov. 26th._

It is noteworthy that the only two persons who are doing much
reclamation work in the West of Ireland are Manchester men. Mr.
Mitchell Henry has awakened Connemara, and Mr. Drinkwater has
performed a similar operation upon county Clare Nothing in connection
with the Kylemore and Fergus Reclamation works, which have brought to
and distributed a large sum of money in their respective districts, is
more remarkable than the apathy of the surrounding proprietors in one
case and their hostility in the other. Mr. Mitchell Henry could afford
to wait, and his patience has been attended with success; but Mr.
Drinkwater was compelled to encounter, not mere passive indifference,
but active acquisitiveness. For a time stretching beyond the memory of
man the reclamation of what is called the Clare "slob" has been talked
about. This talking stage is not unfamiliar in the recent history of
Ireland.

Everything has been talked about, and some few things have been done
after a fashion. There remains in Galway a very comfortable and
well-managed hotel at the railway station, which was originally built
with a view to the American traffic scheme since become notorious; but
the Galway people still believe that their ships were wrecked by a
combination of Liverpool merchants interested in destroying them. The
Harbour of Foynes, on the Shannon, was once talked about, but never
grew into a seaport; while the fishing-piers, as they are called, lie
dotted around the coast in places to which nobody ever goes and from
which nobody ever comes. But it was seen long ago that something could
be done with the Fergus "slob" if anybody could be found to do
anything. Companies were formed and concessions were obtained, but
nothing was done, although several square miles of magnificent
alluvial deposit sixteen feet in depth were to be had for the asking.

In 1843 The O'Gorman Mahon himself, as a county member, talked about
the grand lands to be reclaimed from the Fergus, and the county talked
about it; but nothing was done. This is the pleasant way of the West.
All take an interest in any possible or impossible enterprise; but
when it comes to finding some money and doing something, the scheme is
relegated to the limbo of things undone.

The principal riparian proprietors were Lords Inchiquin, Leconfield,
and Conyngham, mostly absentees. Lord Conyngham was naturally
indifferent, for his estate in Clare was to be sold in Dublin on
Tuesday, and his interest in the county thus had ceased. Lord
Leconfield is also an absentee, without even an address in the county.
Perhaps, as the three noblemen mentioned own between them 85,226 acres
in county Clare alone, without counting their other possessions, they
thought that at any rate there was land enough, such as it is, in the
county. Judging by the Government valuation the land held by them is
not of the best quality, for it is set down at 38,188l., and probably
is not let at very much more than that sum; but at the most moderate
estimate they draw, or rather drew, more than 40,000l. a year from
county Clare. When they were invited to share in reclaiming the rich
mud-banks of the Fergus, and thus add 10,000 acres of virgin soil to
the rateable value of the county, they declined with perfect
unanimity. They did more than this. When Mr. Drinkwater had bought out
the concessionees of 1860 and 1873--who had not struck a single stroke
of work--and was endeavouring to get the necessary Bills through
Parliament, he found himself confronted by the seignorial and other
vested rights of these great landowners, who appeared determined, not
only to do nothing themselves, but to prevent anybody else from doing
anything--unless he paid handsomely for their permission.

I do not cite this as an act of special iniquity. Their action was
only part of the general system of taking as much out of Ireland as
possible and putting nothing into it. A claim of 20,000l. and 5 per
cent. of the land reclaimed for manorial rights over a mud-bank could
hardly be overlooked by the Crown; and it is, I believe, not quite
settled how this large sum of money and valuable land is to be
divided, if at all. The landowners base their claim on various grants
and charters and the Crown opposes them on public grounds, while the
Court of Chancery takes care of the money. Contending against
"landlordism" and other difficulties Mr. Drinkwater pushed vigorously
on, almost, as it has turned out, a little too vigorously for his own
interest. The English public is aware that the Government has at
various times encouraged Irish landlords to improve their property by
offering to lend, at different rates of interest, two-thirds of the
money to be spent, always with the proviso that the Government
engineer approves of the plan and sees the work well and duly
performed. Under the old Act of William IV., passed in 1835, the rate
of interest was fixed at 5 per cent. Under this statute Mr. Drinkwater
applied for 45,000l. and thanks to his ill-timed energy in urging his
application, obtained his loan at 5 per cent., just before the Act of
1879 was brought in for affording somewhat similar help at 1 per cent.

Mr. Drinkwater has thus the satisfaction of knowing that his
neighbour, Lord Inchiquin, who has commenced improvements on his own
account, has obtained 8,000l. at 1 per cent., while he pays 5 upon the
large sum employed on the Clare Slob Reclamation; a state of things
greatly enjoyed here as turning the laugh against "the Saxon."

Being sceptical about the "slob," I went to see it. When I started the
moon was shining so brightly that it would have been impossible to
miss a landlord at forty yards. The sky was as blue and clear as that
of Como or Lugano; but the wind which swept over Ballyala's sapphire
lake was of a "nipping and an eager" quality, not commonly encountered
in Italy. The ground was as hard as steel and as slippery as glass,
and the first half-mile convinced us that the best thing to be done
was to get off the car, catch hold of the mare's head, and try to hold
her on her legs while struggling to keep on our own. It was three
miles to the nearest blacksmith's, but there was nothing for it but to
walk to Ennis as well as might be along the slippery road.

This mode of progression was very slow, and it was nearly half-past
eight when we reached that centre of political and alcoholic
existence. Leaving the mare to be "sharpened" we strolled through the
town in contemplative mood. Not a shop was open. Not a blind was
drawn. Not a soul was stirring excepting the blacksmith, who had been
knocked up comparatively early by the market folk. There was ample
time and space to inspect the fierce but sleepy-headed town. In the
main street I observed six grog-shops, side by side, actually shoulder
to shoulder, cheek by jowl. Another street appeared to be all
grog-shops but for the ominous exception of an undertaker. About nine
o'clock a few people came out of chapel, and shortly afterwards the
butchers' shops gave signs of life, one opening on each side of the
main street, and blinking like a bloodshot eye upon the slumbering
groceries and groggeries, drapery stores, and general drowsiness.
Ennis was evidently sleeping off the previous day's whisky, and
preparing to renew the battle with "John Jamieson."

Presently the mare came round to the door of the principal hotel. The
people there were just stirring, and visions of brooms and unkempt
back-hair were frequent. At last we were on the road to Clare Castle,
which might, in the high-flown language of the West, be fitly
described as the "seaport" of Ennis. The river Fergus flows through
Ennis, but it is broader and deeper at Clare Castle, a village of
ordinary Connaught hovels. There is, however, a quay here, a relic of
"relief-work" in famine time, and affording "convenience" for vessels
of considerable size. Below the bridge and alongside the quay lies a
large steam-tug, and lower down the stream is moored a similar vessel.
A large number of rafts are being laden with stone to be presently
towed down to the reclamation works. As we steam down the Fergus
towards its junction with the Shannon at "The Beeves" rock, the stream
spreads out to a great width, enclosing several islands, green as
emeralds, of which Smith's Island and Islandavanna are, perhaps, the
principal.

There is, however, a marked difference between the area of the Fergus
at high and low water. What at one time is an inland sea, is at the
other a vast lake of mud rich in the constituents of fertility. As we
reach this point of the river a mist arises compelling reduced speed,
and as we pass by the upper station of the Slob Works a low range of
corrugated iron shedding shines out suddenly through a break in the
vapour, and, as the sun again pierces through, a long, low, dark line
is seen stretching from the shore into the water like the extremity of
some huge saurian of the Silurian period reposing on his native slime
and ooze. But the lengthy monster lying in a vast curve is not at
peace, for on the jagged ridge of his mighty back a puffing, snorting,
smoking plague perpetually runs up and down. The apparent plague,
however, is really increasing the size of the saurian. Every day
hundreds of tons of stone are carried over his back-ridge and tipped
into the water at the end of him, while scores of raftloads are flung
into the water on the line staked and flagged out by the officials of
the Government. Within a few weeks the growth of the saurian will not
cease by day or night, until, as in the case of his kindred ophidian,
his two extremities are brought together. For Mr. Drinkwater has
contracted with the British Electric Lighting Company to supply him
with the electric light. The motive power is all ready, and no sooner
is the apparatus fixed than county Clare will be astonished by the
sight of work going on perpetually till it is completed, and amazement
will reach its highest pitch. The people, gentle and simple, already
confess themselves astonished at what can and has been done, and those
who at first laughed are now seeking how they may best imitate.

As the tail of the saurian may be said to stretch into the water high
above Islandavanna, so may his head be said to project from that
pretty patch of verdure. Islandavanna is already a peninsula being
connected with the mainland by a massive stone causeway, traversed
every half-hour by a locomotive, hauling a train of trucks laden with
stone, which, passing over the end of the island, runs out into the
water to the "tip end," as it is called.

So the work is carried on, like modern railway tunnelling, from both
ends simultaneously, and when head and tail of the saurian meet the
first 1,500 acres will be reclaimed. The "slob" will be easy to drain,
and it is tolerably certain that within twelve months the first
instalment will be ready for cropping. It is a sight to make a
Dutchman's mouth water--a "polder" of surpassing excellence, but it
is viewed in a different light by enthusiastic wild duck shooters,
who, like the owner of a grouse moor, look upon drainage and
reclamation as the visible work of the devil. I do not think they need
be alarmed for some time to come, for, without exaggeration, I have
seen so many duck on the Fergus and the lower Shannon that I hesitate
to speak of figures and incur the fate of Messer Marco Polo, who, when
he spoke of the vast population of China, was nick-named by his
incredulous countrymen "Marco Millione." But when I say that I have
seen scores of flights a quarter of a mile long, that I have seen
reaches of water so full of ducks and other water fowl that they
looked like floating islands, I only give a faint idea of the quantity
I have beheld between Islandavanna and the abortive ocean steam-packet
port of Foynes.

Islandavanna is one of three stations of the reclamation works, and is
occupied by about a third of the four hundred and fifty men now at
work. In the summer seven hundred were employed, but the present
season is not so favourable for getting stone and pushing on
operations.

The electric light, however, will, it is hoped, help matters greatly,
and redress the balance of the "long nights and short days." By the
way, I saw at Islandavanna, or rather at the other end of the causeway
which connects it with the mainland, a man who once employed that
expression in the menacing manner I have previously alluded to, with
the effect of causing the foreman of the works to seek occupation in
another and far distant land. Owing to some disagreement the foreman
had dismissed or suspended this man, who had already been tried for
murder and acquitted. Hereat he took his gun to go snipe-shooting as
he said, walked about lanes and generally hovered about the place in
such threatening fashion that it was thought well to persuade the
foreman to go away. At the present moment Mr. Drinkwater and his
friend Mr. Johnstone, the civil engineer from whose plans the work is
carried out, are on the best terms with the workpeople; but the
process by which comfortable relations have been brought about has
been gradual. It is not pretended that when labour is required, and
there is money to pay for it, any prejudice is felt against the Saxon
as an employer. Far from it. A downright, straightforward Saxon, even
if he be a Protestant, is looked upon by the Irish working folk with
far less suspicion than one of their own class, and there is little
fear of their combining against him, for they are far more likely to
quarrel amongst themselves.

It is hardly possible to convey more than the faintest idea of the
rancour evolved by the jealousy of the Clare men against the Limerick
men, of the hatred of both against a Galway man, and of the aversion
of all three counties for Mayo and Donegal people. The citizens of the
petty republics of Greece and Italy never abhorred each other more
fervently. Now on large works with sub-contractors, gangers, artizans,
and labourers, by piece and by day, it is no easy matter to keep
matters going smoothly. It is needless to say that skilled artizans,
such as engine-men and the like, are not picked up in county Clare;
but no especial spite is felt against them. They are Englishmen, and
that is sufficient; but if a gang of Clare men be dismissed and one of
Limerick men taken on, there are signs of trouble in the air. Justice
must be done to county Clare. Are the children of the soil to want
bread while strangers eat it? For a Limerick man to the poor
untravelled folk of Clare Castle, of Kilrush, and of Kilbaha is a
stranger. Yet the small peasant cultivators on an islet near
Islandavanna flatly refused to work at the "slob." Smoking a pipe and
looking at a cow and calf grazing was a more congenial occupation, so
they preferred staying at home. The slob work was too hard entirely.
Now, this may appear incredible to those who have only seen the
awakened Irishmen who do a vast quantity of the hardest and roughest
kind of work in Great Britain and in the United States. In the latter
country it is a matter of notoriety, supported in my own case by the
evidence of my eyesight, that almost all the hard manual labour is
performed by Irishmen and negroes. But downright steady hard work is
just what the Western Irishman is not accustomed to at home. He will
work nobly for a spurt, but when the spurt is over he loves to loiter
and do as he likes.

It is no easy matter to found such a centre of industry as the works
on the Fergus, but it is to be sincerely hoped that many such attempts
will be made despite of discouragement. Experience has shown that the
neglected and, in many localities, degraded West is abundantly capable
of improvement. Mr. Drinkwater determined to take the only way
possible in these parts, that is, to feed and lodge his little army of
workpeople, to establish a club for them, to give them a reading-room,
to get porter for them at wholesale price--in short, to afford them
every inducement to prefer the new settlements on the Fergus to the
wretched huts and groggeries of Clare Castle and the surrounding
villages. He insists, moreover, that every man shall have his
half-pound of meat, either beef, mutton, or bacon, every day but
Friday.

There is no pretence of philanthropy in all this. It is done on the
ground that it is foolish to pay a man liberal wages, if he have to
walk several miles to work and home again, and be allowed to live on a
scant supply of potatoes and bread, washed down with too much of the
whisky of the country. An ill-fed man can no more work well than an
ill-fed horse, and inasmuch as the sooner the work is done the less
interest will be paid on the Government loan, it is obviously
important to get the work done as soon as possible. Hence high wages,
on the condition that a certain proportion shall be spent on food and
lodging, in a range of labourers' houses admirably built of iron lined
with wood, perfectly warmed and lighted, and kept wonderfully clean.
There are a store-house and a refectory, a cooking department and
dormitories, perfectly ventilated and swept and garnished every day.
Tea, beer, and other beverages except whisky can be obtained, and
there is an abundant supply of books and newspapers. Every facility
and encouragement is given to the priests to visit their people. In
short, the colony on the Fergus Reclamation Works is one of the most
extraordinary sights in the West of Ireland. As the entire work will
hardly be completed under five or six years, the influence of such a
community of people doing their work steadily and thoroughly ought to
be very valuable.

Such works, as well as the reclamation of mountain and bog suggested
and tried by Mr. Mitchell Henry for the benefit of peasant
cultivators, are absolutely required to quicken the industry of the
languishing West. The poor people here require to be taught many
things; notably to obey orders, to mind their own business, to hold
their tongues, and to wash themselves; but it is impossible to expect
four such virtues as obedience, industry, silence, and cleanliness to
be acquired all at once by people who have been neglected for
centuries. But there can be no radical defect in them, for they work
hard enough in America, and under strict taskmasters too, for a Yankee
farmer is like a Yankee skipper, inclined to pay good wages, but to
insist on the money being earned. So far as discipline is concerned
there is no better soldier or soldier-servant than a Western Irishman,
none more patient under difficulty and privation, none so full of
cheerfulness and resource. Probably the conditions of life are more
favourable elsewhere, as they may easily be. Here in county Clare
there seems to a perhaps too-hasty observer a complete want of social
homogeneity. What lamps of refinement and intellectual culture burn
here burn for each other only, and serve but to intensify the darkness
around.

In no part of Ireland that I have seen are class distinctions more
sharply defined. The landholding gentry are with but two or three
exceptions Protestants, and, with the exception of Lord Inchiquin, are
of English, Scotch, or Dutch descent, as such names as Vandeleur,
Crowe, Stacpoole, and Burton indicate. I am not aware of the landed
possessions of The O'Gorman Mahon, but I have already stated that his
nephew holds only a moderate estate, let by the way at about three
times the Government valuation--but not, I must add, necessarily,
rack-rented, for Griffiths is, for reasons fully explained by a score
of writers beside myself, a deceptive guide in grazing counties. The
gentry of the county, however, are nearly all Protestant, and it is
curious to note on Sunday at Ennis how the masters and their families
go to one church and their servants to another. I am not insinuating
that there is any sectarian squabbling. There is not, for the simple
reason that the two classes of gentry and tradesfolk are too far apart
to come into collision. On one side of a broad line stand the lords of
the soil, of foreign descent, of Protestant religion, of exclusive
social caste; on the other stand the people, the shop-keepers, the
greater farmers and the peasants, all of whom are Irish Roman
Catholics, and bound to each other by the ties of common religion,
common descent, and often of actual kinship. There is, excepting
perhaps a dozen professional men, no middle-class at all, through
which the cultivation of the superior strata could permeate to the
lower.

Probably no more difficult social condition ever presented itself. To
show how completely the members of what ought to be a middle-class, I
mean the large tenant-farmers, are identified with the peasant class,
I may add that many of them, working with a capital of many thousands
of pounds, are subscribers to the Land League, and that many are not
paying their rent. Lord Inchiquin enjoys a good reputation as a
landlord; but his tenants refuse to pay more than Griffiths's
valuation, and I hear that other great landlords in the county are not
much more fortunate. What is most singular of all is that the
middlemen, who are subletting and subdividing their holdings at
tremendous rack-rents, are among the most prominent in refusing to pay
the chief landlord. They see a great immediate advantage to themselves
in the present movement, for they give but short credit to their
tenants, while they enjoy the full benefit of a "hanging gale," or
owing always half a year's rent, according to the custom of this
county.


ENNIS, COUNTY CLARE, _November 28th._

The first news which greeted me on Friday night was, that, at a
meeting of magistrates on Wednesday morning, Mr. Richard Stacpoole had
been persuaded to accept police protection, and that two men living at
Ballygoree, near Ballyalla, had been taken out of their houses on
Thursday night and severely taken to task for having committed the
atrocity of paying their rent. The poor fellows urged, in extenuation,
that they had the money, that they owed it, and that their holdings
were not "set" at an extravagant price. All this availed them nothing.
They were compelled to kneel down in the midst of the muddy road, in
the dead of the night, and to solemnly swear never to behave so
wickedly again, after which six guns were fired in a volley over their
heads, and they were allowed to regain their houses.

The event which had drawn me back to Ennis was a meeting of the
magistrates of Clare, specially called to consider the state of the
county. A large attendance was looked for, and Saturday being market
day in Ennis, two more things were certain--the first, that the town
would be full of people, and the second, that the people would be full
of whisky. A great crowd assembled to greet the magistrates on their
arrival, but, owing to the meeting taking place two hours before the
published time, a grand opportunity of hooting the more unpopular
justices of the peace was lost, and the "makings of a shindy"
evaporated in some sporadic groaning. There was a very large
attendance of magistrates. Lord Inchiquin, the Lord-Lieutenant of the
county, was present, as well as Mr. Burton, of Carnelly; Mr. T. Crowe,
of Dromore; Colonel Macdonell; Mr. Hall, of Cluny, who has outlived
sundry attempts at assassination; Mr. Dawson, of Bunratty; Mr. Hewett;
and thirty-eight other magistrates. The formal business of the day was
got through without speechifying, and after some little consultation
the following resolutions were adopted:--

  First Resolution--That the state of lawlessness and intimidation
      at present existing in this county is such that the law is
      utterly unable to cope with it, and urgently demands the
      attention of her Majesty's Government.

  Second Resolution--That the landowners, having hitherto shown the
      greatest forbearance, will doubtless now be compelled to take
      legal proceedings to enforce the payment of rent, in order to
      meet their own pressing obligations, and as this can only be
      done at the imminent risk of life we consider that the general
      peace of the county will very shortly be seriously endangered.

  Third Resolution--That with a view to the maintenance of law and
      order we respectfully call on her Majesty's Government
      immediately to summon Parliament, in order to obtain such
      extraordinary powers as shall enable them to deal effectively
      with a conspiracy unprecedented in character, which aims at
      the total disorganization of society.

It is quite possible that these resolutions may produce some
astonishment in England, especially now that it is well known that
nothing beyond a special emergency will induce the Government to adopt
coercive measures. But things said and done in the West of Ireland are
apt to be somewhat after date. Still the resolutions of the Clare
magistrates have their value as giving a tolerably clear idea of what
may be designated the landlord mind. Minute subdivisions set aside,
there are at least four ways of looking at the subject of the day in
this part of Ireland. There is the view of a great landlord who,
because he helped his people with food during the potato famine and
with money to emigrate with afterwards, and has spent a little money
here and there out of a huge income, thinks he has amply discharged
his duty to his tenants. It is true that he began by charging them 4
and 5 per cent, respectively on building and drainage improvements, a
tolerably round percentage; but it is fair to admit that for several
years past he has not charged more than 2½ per cent, for such
improvements as he has made. The great landlords of this county are
less attacked than others by popular orators, mainly because their
rents are not exorbitantly high in the first place. The land is let on
lease for terms as long sometimes as sixty-four years, and is
sometimes underlet at greatly increased prices to the ultimate
tenants, whose precarious condition brings the "head" landlord into
undeserved odium. The great landholders and their agents maintain that
to quote Griffiths against a landlord who has spent money in
improvements since that valuation was made, and let his farms so low
that other people can relet them at a profit, is a manifest absurdity.

Another practical view of the landlord mind is that it is foolish to
go on borrowing money under the Act of 1879 during the present
uncertain condition of tenure and impossibility of getting in rents.
Hence the Scariff drainage works, for which 34,000l. was to be
borrowed by the owners of the property affected by the scheme, have
been suddenly abandoned, and will not be carried any further, at least
during the present winter. One consequence of this decision will be to
throw a large number of people out of employ, who must either leave
Clare or ask for relief.

The first order of the landlord mind, however, is, to do it justice,
not affected very seriously by the present crisis. The great
landholders of Clare and Limerick are not in a heavily mortgaged or
downright insolvent condition. Like the wealthy manufacturer during a
strike, they do not care either to employ or to threaten harsh
measures against their tenants. There is time enough for the present
agitation to subside, as others have subsided, and if the Government
should wish to acquire their land and disestablish "landlordism," as
Mr. Parnell suggests, so much the better, especially since it has
become manifest by the example of the Marquis of Conyngham's estate
that purchasers, other than tenants, are hardly to be found for Irish
property. And--as the agent of a great absentee landholder observed to
me--of what avail would it be to proceed to ulterior measures against
the tenants? Granted that all the weary delays of the local courts
were got rid of by a Dublin writ, what would be the consequence? The
tenant would, unless he chose to spend his own ready money to defend
his case in Dublin, be swiftly ejected--that is, if sufficient police
were requisitioned to make any attempt at resistance absurd. The
landlord would get his own after a fashion; but unless he chose to
keep a force of police on his farms the dispossessed tenants would be
reinstated and their houses rebuilt by the mob; and nothing would be
got in the shape of rent. As no person in the possession of his senses
would take any farm from which a tenant had been evicted, the landlord
would have only one course to pursue. He must farm his land himself,
and then he would be "isolated" or "Boycotted." Nobody would work for
him; nobody would buy anything from his farms.

Everybody in Ennis knows the case of Littleton, whose farm is now
under "taboo," and whose oats no man dare buy, and the similar case of
a draper who had sold some material to a man working on the
"Boycotted" farm, and was compelled to take it back. "There is nothing
now," added another informant, "but to touch your hat to tenants, for
they have left off doing so to you. And it is folly to talk of
reprisals, or of persevering in hunting and going armed to the meet.
Suppose an affray occurred and I shot a tenant, I should be most
assuredly identified, tried, convicted, and severely punished, if not
hanged. But if a tenant shot me it would be difficult to identify him,
more difficult to arrest him, and downright impossible to convict him.
Since Lord O'Hagan's Jury Act it is quite impossible to get
convictions against the lower orders--witness the memorable instance
of Mr. Creagh, when the assassin's gun burst and blew his finger off.
The prisoner and his finger were both in court, there was no manner of
doubt, and yet the jury acquitted him."

Thus far the greater landowner or his agents. The tone is one of
patient, if not amused, endurance, mingled, of course, with profound
contempt for the _personnel_ of the Land League. But the smaller and
resident landlord is of much more inflammable stuff. A strike against
rent-paying signifies to him an end of all supplies. Whether he have
two thousand or five thousand a year in land--for I omit the little
"squireen" class as of no importance on either side of the
question--he has almost certainly settlements and probably mortgages
on his estate. Now, mortgagees in Dublin or London are not at all
ready to take into account the difficulty of collecting rents in
Connaught, and insist on being paid.

Even their rancour, however, has moderated slightly just of late, for
they are as afraid to foreclose on unsaleable property as the
mortgagor is of losing his claim on it for ever. But the settlements
must be paid, and as no rents are coming in, dowagers are obdurate,
and the landlord lives well up to his means, times are hard just now
in county Clare.

It is not exactly "tyranny" which inclines the lesser landlord to get
the rent out of his tenant, but his own need, which drives him to
extreme measures. In bitterness of spirit he bewails his dulness in
not following the example of some of his peers in getting rid of their
tenantry and farming their land themselves, like Colonel Barnard in
King's County. He also envies the lot of Mr. "Tom" Crowe, of Dromore,
who, without acquiring the name of an "exterminator" or a "tyrant,"
has succeeded in shaking off the load of teeming population and the
abomination of "duty work" by degrees, and has now a magnificent farm
of his own which might bear the inspection of Mr. Clare Read himself,
and of all Norfolk to boot. Mr. Crowe, too, has not gone through the
ordeal of being shot at like Colonel Barnard, and if not specially
loved by the people, has no kind of quarrel with them. Mr. Burton, of
Carnelly, who owns 9,669 acres in Clare, has been fortunate in getting
some rent, mainly in consequence of his tact in driving round one day
to collect it himself and taking his tenants by surprise. But Mr.
Burton is an exception, both in tact and fortune, to the majority of
landlords of the second rank. Colonel Vandeleur has been very
unfortunate, like all landholders encumbered with what would be called
small farmers in England. The few really large farmers in Clare, as a
rule, have paid up either openly or privately, and in sentiment are
quite with the landlord class. The lesser landlords are talking of
nothing but Dublin writs, and declare that the so-called peace of the
county is only unbroken because no attempt is made to execute the law.

The farmers are of course peaceful enough so long as they are
permitted to send a rich harvest to market, to pocket the proceeds,
and to pay no rent. "But," said a small landholder to me, "is this law
and order? Because I know it is hopeless at this moment to recover my
rent, and therefore abstain from proceedings, does it follow that the
peace would not be broken were I to put the law into operation?" I am
sorry for this gentleman, for I know that he is what is called in
commerce a "weak holder," or one who can afford neither to conduct his
business with a firm hand nor to throw it aside till better times. He
must go on, for he has mortgages and settlements on his estates; and,
admitted that his tenants would go away to-morrow without any trouble,
he could not spare what they owe him, and assuredly would not find new
tenants for his farms. He of course is for the immediate suspension of
the Habeas Corpus Act, and declares that to be the most merciful
solution of the immediate difficulty. To him the "Three F's" appear
altogether diabolical, and he proposes the substitution of "Three
D's"--Disarmament, Disfranchisement, and a Dictator, the more military
the better.

From the medium and smaller farmers, who with the whisky dealers and
the majority of the other tradespeople form the opposite camp, I hear
that no measure that the Government can pass before the present
Parliament will be acceptable to what is called the Irish people. It
is now averred that the extension of the borough franchise to counties
must be carried before a Parliament adequate to deal with the Irish
question is formed. This appears a strong demand, and one likely to
protract the present distracted state of the country. But I hear, on
the best authority, that the Land League and the associated farmers
can wait. They are in no hurry. England can take her own time and they
will wait patiently, meanwhile of course paying no rent, nor any other
debts which may prove inconvenient.

Having passed their resolutions, the magistrates drive off quietly
enough--but by daylight. Within the last three weeks the County Club
sittings have been earlier than usual, the members thinking it at
least as well to get home before dark. The valedictory wish expressed
here just now is of itself ominous. It is not "Good-bye" or
"Good-night," but "Safe home."



X.

PALLAS AND THE PALLADIANS.


LIMERICK.

In a previous letter I hinted that the well-to-do farmers of the West
were not a whit more prompt in paying their rent than the starveling
peasants of Mayo and Connemara, who, at the best, are barely able to
keep body and soul together. Trusting far more to what I see than to
what I hear, I become aware that in these troubled districts of
Ireland, it is precisely the most favoured spots which are the most
mutinous. Ballina, the most prosperous town in Mayo, is a stronghold
of the anti-landlord party; and the Ballinrobe, Claremorris, and Cong
country, full of good land and comparatively large farmers, is the
district which has isolated Mr. Boycott, whose turnips and potatoes
will probably cost the country and the county at least a guinea a
piece. In no part of Mayo or Galway is the Land League more perfectly
organised than in Clare, yet the farmers in that county are
confessedly well off. There are some of course towards the sea, in
the direction of Loop Head, who are poorly off, but the great majority
are by no means in evil case. Ocular demonstration of this fact is
supplied by the numerous farmhouses of the better class with which the
country is studded. These are not merely large cabins, but houses,
some of which are whitewashed. The haggards are full of corn-stacks,
the rich pastures are full of kine. There is every visible evidence of
material prosperity. It is true that when one has driven up the
private road, be the same a mere "boreen" or a "shplendid avenue," the
bell is found to be broken, the knocker wrenched off, the blinds
hauled up awry, and the servants hard to be got at; but the
householder is prosperous nevertheless. His larder is well supplied
with poultry and wild fowl, his cellar contains "lashings," not only
of "Parliament and pot," or "John Jamieson" and illicit "potheen," but
of port and sherry, claret and champagne. His daughters are at the
costly training schools of the Sacré Coeur, his lads are studying law
in Dublin. Yet this man is a subscriber to the Land League either by
sympathy or, as is quite as probable, by terror. Farmers of not quite
such large acreage live in almost equally luxurious style. Their
houses, that is the "show" rooms, are solidly if tastelessly
furnished. Their horses and jaunting cars carry them to chapel; they
live in the midst of rude plenty. If further demonstration be needed,
I will point to the groceries and wine stores of Ennis. There are at
least three of these almost on the scale of Fortnum and Mason's or
Hedges and Butler's. Now Ennis is what an American traveller might be
tempted to call a "one-horse" town of some six or seven thousand
inhabitants, yet its grocery and drapery stores would hardly be beaten
in York or Chester. Every imaginable eatable or drinkable can be
obtained always for ready money, and very often on credit, and I am
informed that all articles of feminine adornment, including cosmetics,
are also to be had. Passing still farther from the domain of things
seen to that of things heard of, I am assured on the best authority
that for years past the banks have not held so much money on deposit
as at the present moment. Yet nobody pays his rent. The form of
offering Griffith's valuation is gone through, albeit it is known that
that calculation is absolutely untrustworthy so far as a pasture
county like Clare is concerned.

My remarks concerning county Clare will apply, almost with greater
force, to county Limerick. The city is of course a very different
place from Ennis; but it is impossible to avoid noticing from the
window at which I sit writing the crowds of purchasers streaming in
and out of Cannock and Co.'s store, from late in the morning till
early in the evening. I use the last words advisedly, for the people
of the West seem to have accepted Charles Lamb's humorous quibble in
good faith. If they begin work later than any other civilized people,
they assuredly leave off earlier. But until evening sets in there is a
torrent of customers pouring in over the way, and wooing the eye from
the contemplation of the Shannon at the Thomond Bridge. Of the
groggeries of Limerick and of the poison vended in them, I will
forbear to discourse, for my business just now is with the country
rather than with the town.

Having heard much of the outrages at Pallas on the Tipperary border, I
determined to drive over and visit the scene of action. For this
country the journey was a short one; fifteen or sixteen miles out and
in on an outside car is thought a mere trifle in Limerick. The trip
occupied the entire day nevertheless. As we drove out of Limerick past
the great pig-slaughtering and curing houses, we soon became aware
that an immense convergence of the farming interest on Limerick was
taking place. Car-load after car-load of well-dressed people passed
us, and then came horsemen riding in couples or by half-dozens. For
the most part the cavaliers were very well mounted, and also well and
warmly dressed in the fashion of the day. Neither Connemara nor
Claddagh cloaks were seen in the cars, nor were the blue or grey
frieze swallow-tailed coats of Mayo and Galway seen on the powerful
horses pounding along townward through the heavy road. All was sleek,
prosperous, and quite modern, and was as refreshing to look upon after
the frieze and flannel aforesaid as the green hills of Limerick and
Clare after the brown mountains of Joyce's country. I naturally asked
the meaning of such an important meeting of well-to-do folk. It was a
funeral. An old lady was to be buried, and the whole country-side for
twenty miles around had turned out to do honour to the deceased, and
to enjoy a holiday on the principle that "a wake is better than a
wedding." Not one in a hundred of those who rode by had paid his rent,
nor was he prepared to pay more than Griffith's valuation, although he
might have a deposit note for one, two, or more thousands of pounds in
his cash-box.

Pushing along this lively road we entered a famous part of Ireland,
the Golden Vale, so called from its great fertility. Great part of the
land here is composed of alluvial bottoms, a large area of which was
drained by the Mullkear Cut, through the exertions of Mr. William
Bredin, of Castlegard, a charming old fortress overgrown with
creepers, and standing like a sentry over the more modern part of the
dwelling. As we neared Pallas I was reminded that I was on classic
ground, and that Old and New Pallas and Pallas Green formed the scene
of the never-to-be-forgotten feud of the "Three and Four Year Olds,"
the tradition whereof hath a rich and racy savour. Readers of the
_Daily News_ will hardly need to be reminded that this historic
vendetta commenced with a dispute concerning the age of a bull, one
disputant maintaining that the animal was four, while the other
insisted he was but three years old. The matter was settled, or was
rather put on the footing of a "mighty pretty quarrel," by a desperate
fight, wherein one of the combatants was either slain or grievously
maimed, whereupon his cause was taken up by his family and friends,
and a feud inaugurated which lasted many years, and led to the death
of a considerable number of persons, besides continual "diversion" in
the way of faction fights. Pallas is in the midst of the Golden Vale,
a deliciously pastoral country, admirably fitted on such a glorious
spring-like morning as that of yesterday for the sports of shepherds
and shepherdesses as Watteau and Lancret loved to limn. But the first
object which catches the eye in Pallas is not a bower of ribbons and
roses, but a stiff-looking police barrack. Close at hand is the
railway station, another unlovely edifice, and lounging about in
groups are seventy or eighty of the gloomiest and most sullen-looking
people I have seen in this country. The very little cheerfulness there
is in Connaught is quite absent from Munster, or at least the
Tipperary border of county Limerick. I learn that the occasion of this
general loafing is a "rent-gathering," or rather an attempt to gather
rent, and that Mr. Sanders, the agent for the Erasmus Smith School
Trusts, is sitting, but not in receipt of custom. There has been the
usual talk of Griffith's valuation and the usual result of not a
shilling being paid; the present fear on the part of landlords of
fixity of tenure being established being so great that nobody will
accept payment according to Griffith lest his receipt should be taken
as permanently settling the value of his land for ever. No money
passes, as a matter of course, and the tenants mutter among
themselves, "nor ever will." One neck-or-nothing friend of the people
assures me that Griffith and rent and the rest of it is all
"botheration," and that Pallas folk are going to "have their own"
again, as was once said of a Stuart king, who did not get it
nevertheless. I am not assuming that the opinion of a farmer anxious
to get rid of his principal debt is that of all Munster; I merely give
his observation for what it is worth, and as a sign that the hope of
concession is gradually enlarging demand.

Driving in the direction of Castlegard, I pass the signs of an
eviction which took place at least a fortnight ago. The outgone
tenant's bedsteads and wash-hand-stands are piled up against the wall
as if crying to Heaven for vengeance against the oppressor. The
display strikes me as entirely theatrical, for it is well known that
vengeance is not left to Heaven by Pallas people, but confided to
Snider bullets. The bailiff's left in charge of the house have been
attacked, and yesterday an iron hut for lodging four policemen on the
disputed property was brought to Pallas station. It went no further,
however, for neither horse nor cart could be got to convey any
fragment of the accursed fabric to the spot required. It is expected
that the district will, after this display of "tyranny" on the part of
the police, "strike" against them and refuse to supply them with food
or forage. Pursuing the road past Castlegard I meet another crowd of
tenants and learn that they also have been to a rent gathering, and
have been offered acceptance of Griffith's valuation if the balance
between that and the rent be considered as a "reduction" without
prejudice to further arrangements, and without fixing a standard of
value. This proposition remains under consideration, and is favourably
viewed by the tenants. It seems, however, that everybody is afraid, or
pretends to be afraid, to act without the sanction of the Land League.
I am vastly inclined to think that in many parts of the country
farmers pretend to be more scared than they really are, but around
Castlegard they have evidently some cause for alarm. I called upon a
farmer who has committed the unpardonable crime of failing to be, as
Ouidà would say, "true to his order." He has been so lost to all the
sentiments of manhood and of patriotism as to pay his rent. No sooner
was it known that he was guilty of this dastardly deed than he was
spoken of as a marked man, and three nights ago a Snider bullet was
fired through his front door into the hall of his newly-built house.
I saw the hole made by the bullet through the door, and also the mark
where it tore out a piece of the balusters before striking the
ceiling.

The farmer in question is one of those extraordinary persons who only
exist in Ireland. He is a sturdy, pleasant-looking man of forty, and
has made his way despite what would appear intolerable difficulties.
He has farmed for some considerable time about thirty-three acres of
good land, and must have worked hard, for during that time he has had
a large family to maintain. His father died but a short time since,
and reduced the number by one, but he now supports his mother and his
aged aunt and uncle, as well as his wife and himself and six children.
With all these mouths to feed he has built him, well and solidly, a
thoroughly good house, with extensive outbuildings and other
improvements, obviously worth many hundreds of pounds. It might be
thought the people of Pallas and Castlegard would have been proud of
him; but he has paid his rent, and is marked for "taboo," if for
nothing worse.

Trudging across some fine pastures, and jumping sundry ditches, we
regain the main road and our car, and proceed on that instrument of
torture back to Pallas. Here we find the "threes" and the "fours," not
at issue with each other, but united like brothers against the common
enemy. Fearful howls arise from the railway bridge and the railway
station, both covered with Palladians, male and female. A thoroughly
good Irish yell of execration acts differently on different persons.
The blood of those unaccustomed to it is apt to turn cold at the
savage sound; but, with a little practice, "the ear becomes more Irish
and less nice," and a good howl acts as a stimulant on the spirits of
many landlords and agents. All the screeching at Pallas is brought
about by the departure of Mr. Sanders, who, escorted by the police
till he is safely off, rentless, but undismayed, slips away in the
train, leaving the "Threes" and "Fours" to talk the matter over, not
unaided by the presence, in the spirit, of all-powerful "John
Jamieson."


TIPPERARY, _Tuesday Night._

Another proof has been given that it takes more people to do less in
Ireland than in any other country in the world. The attitude of the
combined "Three and Four Year Olds" was yesterday so threatening that
the authorities decided that the police-hut at Pallas could only be
erected in the teeth of the Palladians by dint of an overwhelming
display of force. There is no doubt of the wisdom of this policy. A
small force, insufficient to overawe the country side, only provokes
the resistance it is unable to overcome, but a strong detachment of
redcoats thoroughly cows the adventurous spirits of the most mutinous
localities. What threatened at one moment to become a civil war in
Mayo was put down without the loss of a drop of blood by an imposing
military force, and the lesson so well illustrated at Ballinrobe is
hardly likely to be lost in other rebellious districts. Yesterday, the
affair at Pallas came to such a pitch that extraordinary measures were
resolved upon. A bailiff had been shot because he, in the execution of
his duty, occupied the dwelling of an evicted farmer, one Burke; hence
it was decided that a police-hut should be built on the ground lately
occupied by Burke, but, as readers of the _Daily News_ are aware, the
Palladians actually struck against the police, and proceeded to
"Boycott" those "myrmidons" after the most approved manner. Not only
did Pallas refuse to aid in conveying the materials for a police-hut
to a short distance from the railway station, but prevented the police
from doing their work themselves. Yesterday, the whole border-folk of
county Limerick and county Tipperary turned up at Pallas, and the
conduct of the crowd was such as to lead persons by no means of an
alarmist character to expect an ugly morrow. The authorities had
determined that a police-hut should be erected on the spot chosen, and
the populace had equally made up their minds that although "the
makings" of a hut had been brought to Pallas railway station, they
should remain there, and never be allowed to defile the land of
Burke's farm. The police, despite their barrack, which looks strong
enough to bear a siege, were obviously unable to quell the people, and
it would hardly have been politic to let the latter enjoy a victory;
consequently it was determined to employ the military to convoy the
police-hut, or rather its _disjecta membra_, from the railway to its
proposed site.

It was pitch dark at five o'clock this morning, the hour for parade at
the fine new barracks at Tipperary. The air, too, was keen, and the
detachment of the gallant 48th Regiment ordered for service at Pallas
paraded in no very affectionate spirit towards the Palladians. The
ill-humour of the 48th is easily accounted for. After twelve years'
service abroad no regiment would be cheered by the announcement that
instead of Portsmouth its destination was Queenstown, _en route_ for
Tipperary. Such, however, has been the fate of the unlucky 48th, from
whom the mob of Pallas, or any other centre of mutiny, could expect
but little mercy. Tempers, however, brightened at sunrise, and by the
time the hundred men under the command of Captain Cartwright and
Lieutenants Fraser and Maycock arrived at the Tipperary station every
one was in a good-humoured, contemptuous frame of mind. Everybody knew
that there was no chance of a row, and that the very presence of all
the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men would make it certain that
a blank would be drawn. The whole military plan of campaign had been
well imagined. While the 48th came on from Tipperary the 9th came on
also by rail from Limerick, together with a half battery of the Royal
Artillery. It must not, however, be supposed that cannon was deemed
necessary to quell the ardent spirits of Pallas. The guns were left at
Limerick, and only the waggons brought as a means of conveyance for
the makings of the hut. But the Limerick contingent was imposing
nevertheless. It consisted of 105 men of the 9th Regiment, of a
squadron of Hussars, who went by road, and of the artillery
before-mentioned, who came, like the infantry, by rail. So well was
the movement timed by Colonel Humphreys, R.A., in command, that the
trains from Tipperary and Limerick met almost exactly at New Pallas
station a little before nine o'clock this morning, just as the busbies
of the Hussars appeared upon the bridge. Pallas was evidently taken by
surprise, for any movement on a western Irish town before nine in the
morning may be taken as a night attack. The people of the border of
county Limerick and county Tipperary are quite ready to "muster in
their thousands" at a convenient hour, but they are sure to be taken
at a disadvantage before nine o'clock. The Palladians rubbed their
eyes to find the classic battle-ground of the "Three Year Olds" and
"Four Year Olds" occupied by the matutinal redcoats, and horse, foot,
and artillery already in possession. As Pallas woke up about a
hundred and fifty or a couple of hundred roughs made up "the name of
a crowd," but those in command were informed that this poor show of
resistance was really a feint, and that no sooner would the materials
for the hateful hut be put in motion than a rush would be made by the
people collected "in thousands" behind the village, either upon the
railway station or upon the convoy in motion. I had no opportunity of
getting round behind the village to review the supposed thousands who
were to make the ugly rush and overwhelm the redcoats, but I have a
strong impression that the Palladian army might have been dubbed the
"Mrs. Harris" brigade. With the respected Mrs. Prigg, I disbelieve in
its existence absolutely. Two arguments will destroy it. On the one
hand, it is incredible that thousands of persons were out of their
beds at ten minutes to nine A.M.; on the other, if they had sat up all
night in the hope of a fight with the police they would most certainly
have anticipated that diversion by a preliminary "shindy" among
themselves, and have broken up in disorder.

But when horse, foot, artillery, and police converge on a disaffected
spot, it is hardly the province of their commander to disbelieve in
the existence of an enemy. Colonel Humphreys accordingly made the
wisest use of his forces. He had at his disposal 200 infantry, a
squadron of cavalry, a demi-battery of artillery, and 70 armed
constables--in all about 350 men. His first care was to secure his
base, the railway station, and this _point d'appui_ was strongly
garrisoned by the 48th Regiment. Then the road between the station and
Burke's farm was strongly patrolled--so strongly as to keep up an
unbroken line of communication between the farm and the railroad. When
this was established, the procession, bearing the materials of the
hut, set forth. First went the armed police, then an escort of
Hussars, and then the Artillery waggons, carrying the pieces of the
hut, guarded by the soldiers of the 9th Regiment. It is hardly
necessary to add that no attempt at rushing or crowding the station
was made by the populace. Father Ryan, the parish priest, behaved in
the most praiseworthy manner, and exhorted the people to be quiet; but
my own impression is that they were already completely cowed by the
sudden appearance of the military from two quarters at once. By no
means wanting in keenness of perception, they knew that, if ordered to
do so, the soldiers will fire "at" them, and not vaguely, after the
manner of the police. So the whole affair passed off quietly, and
after trebling the ordinary police garrison of Pallas, the military
returned to their respective quarters. A beginning has been made of
building the hut, and at the moment of writing (9 P.M.) all is quiet
at Old and New Pallas, as well as at Pallas Green. Whether the blood
of the "Threes" and "Fours" will endure the sight of the detested hut
gradually rising on the farm of the sainted Burke remains to be seen;
but it it is doubtful whether the "Boys" will attempt a _coup de
main_. Should such an attempt be made, the police would be compelled
to make a desperate resistance, and serious consequences would
certainly ensue. There is a curious contrast between the state of the
"Three and Four Year Olds" yesterday and to-day--between the bragging
of the one and the cowed look of the other. There is also something of
amusement, were not the entire question all too serious, in the sudden
and contemptuous withdrawal of the troops to-day, after having shown
the Palladians that, however they felt about the hut, it should be
built, and law and order maintained "maugre their teeth."



XI.

GOMBEEN.


CORK, _December 2nd._

Among the many spectres which haunt the sadly-vexed West and South of
Ireland, there is one far more grim and real than the _spectre vert_
who is either buried for ever and aye, or has undergone gradual
transformation since '98 into Repeal of the Union, Young Ireland,
Fenianism, Nationalism, and finally perhaps into Anti-Landlordism;
albeit this latter avatar of an ancient and familiar spirit is by no
means imbued with the poetic attributes of the original spectre.
During my stay in Ennis and Limerick I succeeded in holding somewhat
protracted conversations with three landed proprietors, three of the
largest land-agents in Ireland, two bank managers, an influential
lawyer, three leaders of the people, and one probable assassin.
Through the discourse of all of these--varied and contradictory as
much of it necessarily was--I could see distinctly one ugly shadow, as
of an old man filthy of aspect, hungry of eye, and greedy of claw,
sitting in the rear of a gloomy store looking over papers by the light
of a miserable tallow dip. From the papers the figure turned to a heap
as of bank-notes, and there was in the air the chink of money. For the
name of this grisly and terribly real spectre is _gombeen_; which, in
the Irish tongue, signifies usury.

To Thackeray's truthful remark that there is never so poor an Irishman
that he has not a still poorer countryman as a hanger-on, it may be
added that when an Irishman is not a borrower he is almost certain to
be a lender--the advice of Polonius being abhorrent to the spirit of a
free-and-easy, happy-go-lucky people. When a man in these parts gets
or keeps out of debt himself, he is mostly engaged in encouraging
others to get into it. Often he has little or nothing himself, but
acts after the Irish fashion as deputy _gombeen_ man for the pleasure
of the thing, and also for a commission well and duly paid. This
determination towards borrowing and lending is not confined to any
particular class, but is characteristic of all. As the peer, who would
never have put his hand into his own pocket to pay for improving his
property, suddenly awakes to the value of drainage when the Government
offers a million and a half at one per cent., so did the _gombeen_
man, who would never have dreamed of lending more than a pound at a
time to a peasant, extend his credit four or five fold when the Land
Act of 1870 gave him the first instalment of proprietary right in the
land he occupied. The instalment was a very small one, but it was at
once discounted by the _gombeen_ man, whose rate of interest enabled
him to run extraordinary risks. As the poor pay dearly for everything,
so do they pay an extravagant interest for money. There was once a
fashionable West-end usurer, who, pretending to know nothing about
arithmetic, met his clients on the subject of percentage with "I don't
understand figures, but my terms are a shilling per pound every month.
It is easy to reckon up without going into sums on slates." This poor
innocent was charging just 60 per cent., but his terms were lavishly
liberal as compared with those of the _gombeen_ man. Instead of a
shilling per month the latter charges a shilling a week for every
sovereign advanced, and then "Begorra, it's only the name of a
sovereign," which being interpreted signifies that an advance of one
pound, less charges, only amounts to 18s. 10d., and that upon this sum
a shilling interest must be well and duly paid weekly. Any failure
entails a fine, and a failure to pay off the original sovereign
borrowed within six months is very heavily fined indeed. I am told
that the _gombeen_ man actually puts on cent. per cent. for this
failure of redemption; but, on my principle of believing only a
percentage of all I hear, and of taking a liberal discount off all I
see, I doubt this enormity. Concerning the shilling interest per week
on a pound there is, however, unhappily no room for doubt, and for
small unsecured loans 260 per cent. per annum is still the ruling
figure.

This enormous rate of interest, however, is now only exacted on the
very smallest loans, for the old-fashioned _gombeen_ man has lost his
customers for larger sums. In old times he was the only means of
obtaining such little sums as five and ten pounds on personal
security; but since 1870 the banks have entered into competition with
him, have undersold him, and, in fact, "run him out of the market,"
except for sums under four or five pounds. The unfortunates who are
short of a sovereign or two must look up their old friend in the back
shop smelling of bacon, tallow, pepper, tea, and whisky, just as their
social superiors seek the intrepid sixty per cent. man of St. James's,
whose snuggery is perfumed by the best Havannahs that other people's
money can buy. But when the soul of Mike rises to the sublime
conception of a loan of five pounds he dismisses the old-fashioned
usurer, and hies him to one of the branch banks which abound in every
petty townlet in Western and Southern Ireland. When I say "abound" I
mean to be taken literally. What would be thought in England, I
wonder, of four banks in a town like Ennis, or of two in pettifogging
places like Kilrush or Ennistynon--mere hamlets of some two thousand
inhabitants? Yet these three places have eight branch banking
establishments among them. It must not, however, be supposed that Mike
gets his paltry four or five pounds on his promissory note without
further security. Nothing of the kind. Mike must go through as much
artful financiering to raise his five pounds as the Hon. Algernon
Deuceace to raise his "monkey." His bill must be well backed by his
friends, Thady and Tim. Now, Thady's name on the back of a five-pound
bill is not good for much. He is but a peasant, like Mike, not a
farmer, properly so called, and even as two blacks will not make a
white, so will the joint credit of Mike and Thady not rise to the
height of five one-pound notes. But they have a potent ally in Tim,
who married Thady's wife's cousin. Tim is a prudent man, has worked
hard at his farm, and, as a rule, has a matter of twenty or thirty
pounds on deposit note at the bank, receiving for the same interest at
the rate of one per cent. per annum. His name at the back of a
five-pound bill is therefore a tower of strength, and, in fact, floats
the entire speculation. In commercial phrase, he "stands to be shot
at" while his own deposit money, on which he receives one per cent.,
supplies the funds for the bank to lend Mike and Thady, at ten or
twenty per cent., for there is no pretence made of doing very small
bills at anything approaching ordinary rates. In fact, the peasant
cultivator, having acquired under the Land Acts now in force a species
of proprietory interest in the soil, has a sort of credit which,
backed by a friendly and innocent depositor, can be made an engine for
raising ready money in a small way. This help from the banks is so far
good that it has relieved the decent peasant from his ancient
bloodsucker, the _gombeen_ man. Admitting that with charges and fine
for renewal and so forth the loan ultimately costs Mike fifteen or
twenty per cent, he is vastly better off than he was under the old
system. He gets money to buy pigs to fatten for sale, or manure for
his bit of arable land, and if the rate appears high, it is wondrously
merciful as compared with that to which he was formerly accustomed.

But there is an awkward side even to the business which enables the
principal Irish banks to pay large dividends. So long as care is taken
that Mike and Thady do not overdo the accommodation bill system,
perhaps no very great harm is done in extending the advantage of
moderate credit to the humblest cultivator; but when competition is
sharp in a petty townlet between two rival banks, the tendency towards
a mischievous extension of credit is almost irresistible, and bank
managers are at last driven to look sharply after their clients on
market days, lest the ready money which is their due should be
deflected to other purposes. The provision man, who has supplied bacon
and other necessaries, is on the alert to secure something on account;
and if, as is most probable, he has been giving credit somewhat
recklessly, he is pinched for money, despite the high rate of profit
he has been charging to cover his risk. For some time past the game of
credit has been going on gaily; but since the commencement of the
present agitation both banks and _gombeen_ men have distinctly
narrowed their operations, and the landlord is now the almost
universal creditor. The harvest-money has either gone to pay advances
or to settle accounts with tradesfolk, so that an awkward future is in
preparation for all but the prosperous tenants, of whom there is no
lack in counties Clare and Limerick. Whatever the details of the
forthcoming Land Act may be when it has passed the ordeal of both
Houses of Parliament, the work of passing it will take time, and at
least another half-year's rent will accrue before it takes the shape
of law. Now, with all the talk of Griffith's valuation, there has
been, except in a few cases, no hint of paying that sum "without
prejudice" into court or into any bank whatsoever; and the cash held
by both farmers and peasants runs, in the opinion of many well
qualified to judge, sore risk of diminution before any comprehensive
measure can pass through Parliament. Even the well-to-do farmers will
be called upon to expend their balance in hand in many ways which they
will find difficult to resist. Not only the provision merchants, but
the drapers and milliners of Limerick, Ennis, and Galway, will hold
out allurements to those in possession of ready money. To put the
case briefly, there is great danger that, without any intentional
dishonesty on their part, the cultivators, great and small, of Western
and South-Western Ireland will hardly be in as good a position for the
discharge of their liabilities six months or a year hence as they are
at present. The three "F's" will hardly wipe off existing debt, and
the result of a division of the population into two sharply defined
classes of debtors and creditors is viewed by many thoughtful people
with considerable apprehension.



XII.

THE RETAINER.


CORK, _December 4th._

In describing the character of the Western and Southern Irishman
nothing would be more unfair than to leave out of the estimate his
curious faithfulness to some persons, and the tenderness with which he
cherishes the traditions of the past. In no country in the world is
the superstition concerning the "good old times" more fervently
believed in than in Western and Southern Ireland. And in the opinion
of the mass of the people the good old times extended down to a recent
date. One is asked to believe that before the period of the potato
famine Ireland was the abode of plenty if not of peace, and that
landlords and tenants blundered on together on the most amicable
terms. It is hardly necessary to state that the golden age of Ireland,
like the golden age of every other country, never had any real
existence. It is like the good old-fashioned servant who from the time
of Terence to our own has always lived in the imaginary past, but
never in the real present. The belief in a recent golden age is,
however, so prevalent in Ireland that I have thought it worth while to
investigate the grounds on which it is based and the means by which it
has been kept fresh and green.

The first fact which strikes the observer is that since the potato
famine the West and South have been going through a period of
transition still in progress. Under the authority of the Encumbered
Estates Court a vast area of land has changed hands, and the new
proprietors have only in rare cases succeeded in securing the
affection of their tenants and neighbours, who sit "crooning" over the
fire, extolling the virtues of the "ould masther" and comparing him
with the new one, very much to the disadvantage of the latter. It is
not remarkable that such comparisons should be instituted. The people
have very little to do, and do that in a slovenly, slip-shod way, and
they have therefore plenty of leisure for gossip. As they are ignorant
of everything beyond their own county, it is only natural that the new
proprietor or lessee should be discussed at great length, and all his
acts and deeds be fully commented upon. And it is not remarkable that
the judgment should be adverse to the new man. He is generally North
Irish, Scotch, or English. The two former are hated at once, at a
venture; but the "domineering Saxon" is given a chance, and with a
little tact and good temper can secure, if not affection, at least
toleration.

But it is not easy to get the good word of the people, even when one
is neither a "tyrant" oneself nor the lessee of an "exterminator"; for
the ways of the most just and generous of the new men do not suit
those of the natives like the system, or rather want of system, of the
old chiefs. Even when a demesne only is leased by a "foreigner," and
all risk of quarrelling with tenants is thus avoided, it is hard work
to achieve popularity. As I drove up the avenue of a dwelling thus
inhabited, I asked the driver what he and the country-side thought of
the new tenant of the old house. "A good man, your honour," was the
cold answer; followed by an enthusiastic, "Och, but it was the ould
masther that was the good man! Sorra the bite or sup any one wanted
while he was to the fore!" Now, the "ould masther" was, I understand,
a worthy gentleman, of good old county family, who lived in the midst
of his tenantry for several months every year, and "kept up his old
mansion at a bountiful old rate," like a fine old "Celticised Norman,"
as he was. Like the descendants of the early settlers described by Mr.
Froude, he and his had retained their popularity by concessions to
Celtic habits, not in religion or personal conduct be it understood,
but in letting things go on easily, in a happy-go-lucky way, without
any superstitions concerning the profuse employment of soap and water
by their dependents. Probably no lady of the house had for many
generations entered the kitchen, which apparently served as a focus
for the country folk. The stone floor was a stranger to hearthstone
and to water, except such as might be spilt upon it; and was either
slippery or sticky here and there, according to the nature of the most
recent deposits. The table and dressers were in such a condition when
taken over by the "domineering Saxon" that washing was abandoned as
hopeless, and scraping and planing were perforce resorted to. But
overhead, firmly fixed in the beams of the ceiling, hung many a goodly
flitch of bacon, many a plump, well-fed ham. Under the shadow of this
appetising display might be found at any time during the day about a
score of persons who had no business there whatever, but found it
"mighty convanient" to look in about meal times for the bite and sup
my car-driver so regretfully alluded to, and to sit round the fire
smoking a pipe and talking for hours afterwards.

It was in the larder attached to this fine old kitchen that I met a
glorious specimen of the fine Old Irish Retainer, faithful to the
memory of the "ould masther," who had left him an annuity of eight
shillings per week, and not unmindful of the virtues of the new one,
who keeps him on the establishment as an interesting "survival," and
lodges, feeds, and clothes him, in order that he may not be obliged
to divert any portion of his income from its natural course towards
Mary Molony's shebeen, to the purchase of the prosaic necessaries of
life. The Retainer, who was enjoying the occupation of turning some
hams and bacon in salt, and inspecting the condition of some pigs'
heads in highly spiced pickle, was a singularly good-looking man,
with, well--I will not say "clean"--cut features and a generally
healthy look, speaking wonders for the vigour of constitution which
had successfully withstood sixty odd winters and an incalculable
quantity of the poisonous new whisky of the country. He was interested
in the subject of obtaining sundry rounds of salt beef for
Christmastide, holding that roast beef is but a vain thing, good
enough for Saxons, no doubt, but not to be compared with corned beef
or bacon and cabbage. The Retainer spoke kindly of his new master, but
at the mention of the old one at once kindled to fever heat. "Thim was
times, your honour. Niver a week but we killed two sheep, or a month
that we didn't kill a baste. And pigs, your honour. If we didn't kill
a pig every day, as your honour says, we killed a matther of four
score every sayson. And there was lashings and lavings of mate for
every one. And the ould masther said, says he, 'As long as it's
there,' says he, 'all are welcome to a bite and a sup at my house. As
long as it's there,' says he. And he was the good man, your honour."

This was it. The present tenant's Celticised predecessor, whose glory
still fills the land, lived the life of an African chief. When ox,
sheep, or pig was slain, the choice morsels of the animal were perhaps
reserved for the chieftain's table, and the remainder of the carcase
was distributed among the tribe assembled in that part of the kraal
called the kitchen. Odds and ends of food were always on hand; and if
there was not much to eat at home there was always something to be had
at the chieftain's tent. Outside of the kitchen door was the stable
yard, knee deep in the accumulated filth of years, and the garden was
a wilderness. "But, your honour," said the Retainer, "it was the foine
gentleman he was, and it tuk three waggons to carry away the empty
champagne bottles when the new masther came, and long life to him and
to your honour; and I wish your honour safe home and welcome back."

Thus far the Retainer, who is fairly well cared for, and ought to be
satisfied whether he is or not; but it is otherwise with the
surrounding public. As the old order changes and gives place to the
new, the poorer tenants have seen one privilege depart from them after
the other. To the new occupant, however much inclined he may be to
deal liberally, nay, generously with the country folk, it appears
preposterous that a score or more of loafers should assist his
servants in "eating up his mutton." The new comer is prepared to deal
handsomely with the people, who with all their faults have endearing
qualities almost impossible to resist; but the fact is that he does
not understand the situation till it is too late. A good Scotch or
English housewife going into her kitchen and finding it so
inexpressibly dirty that her feet are literally rooted to the ground,
is apt to express a very decided opinion, despite the presence of a
dozen or more of gossips smoking their pipes round the fire; but her
remarks are hardly likely to be taken in good part, and she is classed
as a "domineering" person forthwith. And a general misunderstanding
can only be averted by timely concessions and the prompt dismissal of
English servants who neither can nor will live with their Irish peers.
And yet it cannot be fairly said that anybody is to blame. The
"foreigner" cannot endure to be kept in bed till late in the morning,
and hence easily acquires the reputation of a "tyrant." And the small
tenants feel the loss of the African system, under which they never
actually went short of a meal. As the right of mountain pasture and of
cutting turf have vanished on some estates, so has the privilege of
living at free quarters disappeared on others, to be replaced by no
compensating advantage. This is one of the features of a period of
transition during which, without ill-will on either side, the gulf
between rich and poor is becoming perceptibly wider.

Inasmuch as I am just now contradicted by peers in the columns of the
_Daily News_ itself, and attacked--I must add, in very courteous as
well as brilliant style--by a leader writer of the _Irish Times_, and
held up to public opprobrium at Sunday meetings, I thought it well to
submit the foregoing to a friend, born and bred in Ireland, before
committing it to print. Where, except so far as the retainer is
concerned, I was obliged to depend so much on hearsay evidence, I
thought it just possible that I might have selected an extreme case
instead of a fair type of what I have ventured to call the African
system. I am quite reassured. My friend, who is an accomplished and
experienced Irishman, tainted only by a very few years' residence in
England, assures me that I have considerably understated the wild,
wasteful profusion, slothfulness, and dirt of the old-fashioned
chieftain's kitchen. He assures me that families are now abroad in the
world without an acre of land or a halfpenny beyond their earnings,
who, within his recollection, have been "ruined by their
kitchen,"--literally eaten up by hungry retainers and tenants. He
mentioned one family in particular, whose income sank from 12,000l. to
nothing a year under the ancient system which united almost every
possible defect. The tenants were not, it is true, charged a heavy
rent in money, because civilisation had not advanced quite so far as
the commutation of all dues into cash; but "duty work" was as strictly
exacted on the lord's farm as it is now on some estates when coal is
to be drawn, and "duty" tribute in kind was levied as well. Thus the
tenant was obliged not only to cultivate the "ould masther's" land,
but to give him at Christmas tide a "duty" pig and "duty" geese and
fowls according to a fixed percentage. My friend, whose position
places his assertion above all doubt, assures me that in old leases it
is quite common to find a sum of money specified as the equivalent of
a "duty" hog; and other tribute of similar kind. The "ould masther,"
whose bailiffs looked sharply after "duty" of all descriptions,
himself dispensed the indiscriminate hospitality already described,
and "masther" and man floundered in the slough of debt and poverty
together, making light of occasional hardship. All this feudal
fellowship has gone with the old chieftains, whom the people profess
to admire, and compare regretfully with the new men who expect to pay
and be paid. But I am reminded that I have omitted to mention an
important factor in the older polity of Ireland. The opposite ends of
the social chain were brought together by that time-honoured ensign
and instrument of authority, one end of which was in the master's hand
and the other in the man's ribs or across his shoulders. It was "the
shtick" which kept things together so far as they were kept so at all.
The descendants of the masters say little or nothing about the good
old custom of their forefathers in "laying about them with their
rattan;" but the Retainer has not forgotten the ungentle practice
which stimulated him to exertion in his youth. To hear the Retainer
one would believe that the great smoother of difficulties, stimulant
to exertion, and pacificator of quarrels was the "shtick." The idea of
one of the tribe "processing" his chief for assault was never dreamt
of in the good old times; for the recalcitrant one would have been
"hunted out" of the county by the indignant population. To the
Retainer the old time has hardly passed away, for it is not long since
he actually recommended a "domineering Saxon" on the occasion of a
domestic disturbance to "take the shtick to 'um, your honour. Sure the
ould masther always did. And when he had murthered 'um they was as
saft as silk." It is curious that the wand of the enchanter during the
Golden Age of "Ould Ireland" should prove to have been the
all-persuasive, all-powerful "shtick."



XIII.

CROPPED.


GORTATLEA, CO. KERRY, _Monday, Dec. 6th._

Having heard agrarian outrages reported one day and denied or
explained away the next, I thought it worth while to ascertain the
exact truth concerning the case of Laurence Griffin, of Kilfalliny,
co. Kerry. It had been reported at Cork that Griffin had been taken
out of his bed in his own house, that his ears had been slit, and that
he had been otherwise maltreated by a band of ruffians, on the night
of Monday last. Then it was roundly asserted that he had never been
attacked at all, and that he was a malingerer who had slit his own
ears, or persuaded his wife to slit them for him, with an eye to the
excitement of sympathy and charity; that winter was coming on; and
that, after all, the ear is not a very sensitive part of the human
form. To ascertain the exact truth there seemed to be only one
method--to see for oneself. Having seen the man, and assisted at the
application of a fresh dressing to his wounded ear, not _ears_, I must
confess myself incapable of entertaining any doubt as to his veracity.
His mutilated ear is not slit, nor is he "ear-marked" like a beast, by
a notch being cut in that organ. The upper and exterior convolution of
his left ear is cut clean off, so that its outline, instead off being
rounded at the top, is straight. The wound is of course still fresh
and sore, but is already showing signs of healing. The poor man has
evidently been not only barbarously mutilated, but nearly frightened
to death. With his pale face and half-grown beard, and his head bound
up, he is a pitiable object. Obviously he was nearly as much afraid of
me as of his midnight assailants, and was far too much bewildered by
the harsh tone of "the Saxon" to tell a smooth and coherent story. Bit
by bit, amid many interruptions, he told his pitiful narrative, only
one part of which I consider doubtful. He denied that, either by their
clothes or any other sign, he could identify any one of the men who
attacked him. I am obliged to believe that, despite their blackened
faces, he could have done so, were he not in fear of his life. The
hand of his enemies is still heavy upon him, for his wife cannot get
milk from the neighbours for her children. They are either afraid, or
say that they are, to give or sell to Laurence Griffin, his wife, or
his children. He is thrown out of employment, and may, so far as the
anti-landlord party are concerned, starve. The causes which led to
the outrage on this poor man afford such a curious picture of the
present state of county Kerry as to be worth narrating.

A man named Sullivan occupied a farm at Kilfalliny, on the little
river Main, a spot almost equidistant from each of the three railway
stations of Farranfore, Gortatlea, and Castleisland. When Sullivan
died several years ago, the farm, for which he paid about 190l. a year
rent, was divided between his three sons, the man who obtained the
middle or best section being "set" to pay 5l. more than either of the
others, as having the best farm. The brothers on the outside sections
have prospered. One has saved some hundreds of pounds; the other has
given good, substantial portions to his three daughters. No objection
was made to the manner in which the land was subdivided by the agent,
Mr. Hussey, of the firm of Hussey and Townsend, of Cork, Tralee, and
other places. The Sullivan who inherited the "good will," as it is
called here, of the "Benjamin's mess" has not succeeded in life so
well as his brothers. At the October sessions of 1878 an ejectment
order was obtained against him for one and a half year's rent, equal
to 100l. 10s. In January, 1879, possession was taken, and the farmer
formally ejected, but immediately reinstated as "caretaker," a
convenient practice, when it is borne in mind that in Ireland an
ejected tenant has six months allowed him for "redemption," during
which the landlord can only let the farm subject to the risk of the
late tenant paying up his rent, less whatever has been taken off the
farm in the meanwhile. Sullivan then was re-established in his farm as
"caretaker," and there he remained with the consent of the agent until
last spring, when he was summoned to depart. To this request he has
declined to pay the slightest attention. When he is summoned for
trespass and sent to gaol the Land Leaguers pay his fine and restore
him to his family, who still keep houses on the farm as before. As the
case at present stands he is indebted to his landlord (deduction being
made for sums received for grazing and for about 100l. worth of hay
still stacked on the farm) in the sum of 100l. The agent, anxious to
settle the matter, persuaded the landlord to offer him a receipt for
this, and a bonus of 100l. in cash, if he would go away, but this he,
or the Land League for him, declines to do.

It was obviously necessary at the end of the hay harvest to appoint a
caretaker to see that the crop was not "lifted," after the manner of
that of the irreconcilable Tom Browne, of Cloontakilla, county Mayo.
Hence, Laurence Griffin, a labouring man, with an acre patch of land
to his house, was given the job of looking after the hay, and
occasionally summoning Sullivan for trespass. It must be understood
that Sullivan's family have never been disturbed, and that Griffin
lives, not like a man in possession of their holding, but in his own
little house hard by with his own family. The supervision exercised
was, therefore, of the mildest character, but the summoning for
trespass was accounted a dire offence by the popular leaders. Hence
Griffin was first "noticed" to give up the occupation assigned to him
by his employer, Mr. Hussey, who had given him his house and potato
patch. The poor fellow was sadly exercised in his mind, but he kept on
with his duty until a second notice was affixed to his door. Then he
lost heart, and a fortnight ago gave up his dangerous occupation.

On the Saturday following, however, he happened to go into Tralee, and
the exponents of the popular will made up their minds that he had not
given up his employment as he was "noticed" to do, that he was still
persevering in the nefarious career of a caretaker, and that he had
actually dared to go in the light of day to Tralee to receive the wage
of his iniquity. If not actually guilty of this enormity, he had at
least a guilty look, and it was determined to punish him, and make him
a warning to other evildoers.

According to the man's account, given in a disjointed manner under
severe cross-questioning, he had gone to bed on Monday last, when
somebody tapped at his door and called to him to open. Thinking the
visit was from the police, who occasionally looked in upon him, he got
up, and huddling on some clothes as he went, made for the door. As he
was on the point of opening it, a voice called out to him to "make
haste," for the speaker was "starved with the cold;" then he knew the
voice was not that of the policeman, and he would fain have closed the
just opening door, but a gun was thrust through the opening, the door
was pushed open, and a dozen men with blackened faces and armed to the
teeth burst into the room.

The ringleader then proceeded to go through some form akin to a trial,
and asked his companions what should be done with Laurence Griffin,
who had disregarded the notices served on him, and persevered in his
villanous calling. It was suggested that death alone would meet the
case. "Shoot 'um, says they," said Griffin to me. At this his wife
sprang out of bed shrieking, and his children collected round him.
Almost out of his wits with terror, the poor fellow declared that he
had obeyed the notice, that he had relinquished his office, and that
he was out of work, and full of trouble in consequence.

After some little consultation the chiefs of the Blackfaces consented
to swear Griffin as to the truth of his statement, and while guns were
held to his breast and to each side of his head, he swore solemnly
that he had obeyed the notice, that he was no longer watching
Sullivan's farm, and that he would never offend in such wise again.

When an end was made of swearing him, poor Griffin, more dead than
alive, was marched out alone between his guards into the road, where
he found himself among a score more of men, all with blackened faces.
Then, so far as I could understand Griffin, the leader of the men
outside displayed some dissatisfaction at the way in which things had
passed off, and expressed his determination that the unhappy caretaker
should not go scot free.

"What did we come out for to-night?" growled the chief; "did we come
out for nothing?" Muffled groans followed this appeal, and encouraged
the spokesman to add, "Shall we go back as we came, boys?" the answer
to which was a decided negative. Then the unlucky man, Griffin, saw
something glitter in the chief's hand, and while he was kept steady by
gun barrels pressing against each side of his head, he felt a sharp
pain in his left ear, and the blood running down his neck.

As to what followed he was very incoherent; but it seems that the
Blackfaces departed, leaving him with his wife and children nearly
frightened to death, and with the top of his ear cut clean off.

I may add, as an indication of the state of Kerry, that a gentleman
invited to meet me last night postponed the meeting till daylight, on
the ground that night air is not good for landlords. Not a single
person directly or indirectly connected with land ventures out unarmed
even in broad daylight. It is needless to say that no money would hire
a man to watch Sullivan's farm.



XIV.

IN KERRY.


TRALEE, CO. KERRY, _Wednesday, December 8th._

The character of the principal estates in counties Cork and Kerry
appears to be like that of their bacon and beef--streaky. There are to
be seen some admirable specimens of skilful and liberal management, as
well as instances of almost insane blundering on the part of both
landlord and tenant. From Blarney to the Blaskets the distance is not
that of a couple of counties, but the gap between Kylemore and Rinvyle
between civilization and savagery. It would be thought that worse
degradation than that on Innisturk and Innisbofin would be difficult
to find; but in poverty, misery, and lawlessness the population of
those inclement isles is far outdone by the five-and-twenty families
now in the position of squatters on the Great Blasket. This is an
island some three miles and three-quarters long, lying off the
peninsula of Corkaguiny beyond Dunmore Head, on the northern side of
Dingle Bay, as Bray Head and the island of Valentia lie on its
southern side. Of old the Greater Blasket, which has some good
pasturage upon it, was let to a few tenants who made a sort of living
on this wild spot. They fed their sheep, they grew potatoes, caught
great store of porpoises, which they converted into bacon, and thus
kept body and soul together in a rough way. But whatever of rude
plenty once existed on Great Blasket has vanished before its
increasing population. The island is now asked to maintain some
hundred and forty persons, and refuses to respond to the demand.

The tenants can hardly complain of much interference of late years,
either from Lord Cork, the head landlord, or from Mr. Hussey, who till
just recently leased the island from him; for they have paid no rent
for four or five, nor county cess for seven, years. They have never
paid any poor-rate, and yet hunger after "relief meal." They are
simply attempting the impossible--to live on a place which might
perhaps support a score of people, but will not support six times that
number.

Blarney, for other reasons than its groves and "the stone there, that
whoever kisses he never misses to grow eloquent," is one of the most
interesting places in the south of Ireland. It is not only the centre
of a rich agricultural country and the abode of an improving landlord,
Sir George St. John Colthurst, of Ardrum, but the seat of an
important manufacture of woollens, a rare and curious industry in
Munster. The Blarney mills make a great "turn over" of tweed, and
employ five hundred and fifty men, women, and girls. I had an
excellent opportunity of seeing the factory hands, for I went to
Blarney on pay-day, and was greatly struck by the difference between
their appearance and that of the people engaged in agriculture alone.
The number and appearance of the women employed is a good answer to
those pessimists who maintain that the curse of the poorer Irish is
the filthiness, laziness, and general slatternliness of the women. In
dress and general bearing the girls of Blarney would compare
favourably with those of many English manufacturing towns; and,
inasmuch as Blarney Mills are successful, their work must be well
done. One reason of course of the comfortable look of the Blarney folk
is that all the family work. Perhaps the husband works at agriculture,
and the wife and daughter at the mill. All work, and hence a good
income, as at Blackburn and other cotton towns, instead of the
starvation which attends a useless woman who, with her string of
helpless children, hangs like a millstone round her husband's neck.
There are no "useless mouths" at Blarney, where everybody helps to
maintain the family roof-tree, and to prove that the Irish of the
south, like those of Connemara, are susceptible of being taught, if
only pains be taken with them. It must be admitted that Blarney Mills
are in the second generation, having been founded by Mr. Mahony, the
father of the late "Father Prout" and of the present proprietor. The
houses of the workpeople at Blarney are neat and trim, white and
clean, and a repose to the eyes of beholders, sick of slouching thatch
and bulging mud walls.

Perhaps, however, the spot of all others in which the sharpest
contrast occurs between the old life of Ireland and that brought about
by "improving" landlords and tenants is the hamlet of Millstreet,
situate on the line of railway between this place and Mallow, once a
kind of Irish Tunbridge Wells, and famous for the "Rakes of Mallow,"
whose virtues are immortalised in verse. When Mallow was the farthest
south-western outpost of civilization it is possible that the "rakes"
who converged upon that pretty spot from the surrounding country
"ranted," "roared," and "drank" to the extent that the poet has
credited them withal. But they are gone now, these rakes, and Mallow
appears to get on very well without them.

It is remarkable for its pretty villas, and for a comfortable hotel,
kept by a self-made man, who has risen from the ranks into prosperity
by sheer industry and foresight. Millstreet is a very different kind
of place from Mallow. The latter has the beautiful Blackwater river to
give it beauty; but Millstreet is chiefly remarkable as the _locale_
of the mill which gives it a name; as the habitation of the Rev.
Canon Griffin, a Roman Catholic of high culture, who, unlike some of
the priesthood, abjures the Land League and all its works; and as the
spot on which "Ould Ireland" and New Ireland meet face to face.

The hamlet is mainly divided between two proprietors. That part known
as the McCarthy O'Leary property is mainly composed of filthy hovels
of the worst Irish type--is, in fact, rather a gigantic piggery than a
dwelling-place for human beings. The houses are not so small as the
mountain cabins of Mayo or the seaside dens of Connemara, but they are
small enough, crowded with inhabitants, and filthy beyond the belief
of those who know not the western half of Ireland. It is hardly
possible, nor would it be worth while, to inquire into the causes
which have made one half of Millstreet an opprobrium and the other
half a model hamlet. I simply record what I see--filth and swinishness
on the left hand, order, neatness, and cleanliness on the right.

The white houses, the trim streets of the townlet, are on the Wallace
property, which is at present, and will be for some little time to
come, in the hands of the Court of Chancery. Skilfully administered
for several years past, the Wallace property is very well known in
these parts for the success with which its management has been
attended. One of the principal tenants of this thriving estate is Mr.
Jeremiah Hegarty, whose peculiar position towards his landlords
affords a curious instance of the working of the present land laws of
Ireland. To begin with Mr. Hegarty holds about eight hundred acres as
a tenant farmer, without a lease or any guarantee against his being
turned off by his landlords at any time, except the natural goodwill
and joint interest of landlord and tenant. He has of course the Act of
1870 in his favour, but inasmuch as his "improvements" have extended
over a long term of years, it is almost certain that if a series of
deaths should bring the property into needy or unscrupulous hands Mr.
Hegarty might be removed from his farm, or rather farms, at great loss
to himself, despite the compensation that would be awarded him, and on
which the landlord would assuredly make a great profit. It may be
thought hardly likely that any landlord would be mad enough to
disestablish a tenant of eight hundred acres of land who pays his rent
with commendable punctuality; but as such things, and things even more
foolish, have been done during the present year, it is not agreeable
to think of the risks run by an improving tenant in county Cork, and
an improving tenant Mr. Hegarty assuredly is.

It is a curious illustration of that difference between English and
Irish farming which makes the agrarian question so difficult for
Englishmen to understand, that Mr. Hegarty, who may be accepted as a
type of the Irish farmer, possessed by advanced ideas, conducts his
operations successfully and profitably by almost exactly reversing the
proportions of tillage and pasture existing on Mr. Clare Read's famous
farm at Honingham Thorpe. On the particular farm of Mr. Read's here
referred to, the quantity of pasture is about one eighth or ninth of
the whole. On Mr. Hegarty's farms, for he has more than one to make up
his total of eight hundred acres, there is exactly one-ninth under
tillage to eight-ninths of pasture.

This will not at first strike the English eye as any great thing in
the way of reclamation; but it must be recollected that in this part
of Ireland it is no small matter to obtain good pasture. One of the
first sights the eye becomes accustomed to is the long bent or sedge,
shooting rankly up among the sweeter grass, and telling surely of land
overcharged with water. There is no escape from the fact that Ireland
as a country is cursed with defective natural drainage. The fall of
the greater rivers is so slight that they meander hither and thither
in "S's," as they say here, and only require a little surplus on the
average rainfall to overflow the more valuable land. And it is
astonishing how quickly good land left untilled reverts to its
primeval condition, or, in the expressive language of the country,
"goes back to bog." This has been shown in many cases.

There is, for instance, a not small portion of Lord Inchiquin's and
Lord Kenmare's land, which has been allowed by the tenants to
gradually go back to sedge, if not to bog, for the want of keeping
drains clear and putting on lime. A curious instance of the effect of
not liming the land is supplied on one of the fields newly reclaimed
by Mr. Hegarty. Owing either to the supply of lime running short, for
the moment, or to the carelessness of his men, a patch of recently
drained land was left without lime which was liberally bestowed on the
rest of the field. The forgotten patch can be seen from afar by the
tufts of sedge sprouting from it.

Mr. Hegarty's eight hundred acres are, saving one or two little lots,
divided between the Millstreet farm and the mountain farm of
Lackadota, for the goodwill whereof the incoming paid the outgoing
tenants 560l. before he began the work of thorough reclamation. His
success on this hill-side has been remarkable. This season he has
taken out potatoes from eight acres at the rate of 20l. per acre, and
the triumph of his method has been equally great in other crops--to
wit, oats, mangolds, and turnips.

It is needless to remind agricultural readers that the artificial
feeding of cattle is still in its infancy in the west and south-west
of Ireland. The various kinds of cake--oil, cotton, and nut--and
cattle "spices," made up of fenugreek seed and other condiments, are,
if not unknown, quite unused by all but a few gentlemen farmers, of
whom I shall in another letter have more to say. The old-fashioned
notion was to rear cattle, turn them loose on the mountain, and sell
them to be finished in the Meaths or elsewhere. On the Millstreet
farm, however, root-crops are largely used for feeding, and the beasts
are kept more under cover than is common here. All this means, of
course, large outlay, and the farmer has expended not less than six
thousand pounds in building, and in draining and liming four hundred
acres of the eight hundred he occupies. He was, like Canon Griffin,
one of the first to recognise the necessity for changing the potato
seed, and imported "champions" before other people thought of it, and
while they were growing potatoes not much bigger than marbles, and
hardly fit to feed pigs upon, he was getting crops of fine tubers. In
draining the portion of his farm near the river, he has found himself
obliged to employ stone drains, the attempts previously made with tile
drains having failed signally; and it may be added that his attempts,
now shown to be successful, to drain the flat land near the river
Oughbane were derided by neighbouring agriculturists, who could not
see that if the land do not slope sufficiently towards the natural
drainage the artificial drains may be made to do so. His
farm-buildings, machinery for threshing, &c., are an agreeable sight.
In building, concrete has been largely used, especially in the
cow-houses and feeding stalls, and the general effect of this large
farm in county Cork is that of a well-managed business, every detail
of which is familiar to its head.

It can hardly be thought extraordinary that farmers like Mr. Hegarty,
even on a smaller scale, are anxious for a good, sound Land Bill.
They, with all good feeling toward their present landlords, cannot
avoid recognising that as the law stands the work of their lives may
be taken from them by any accident of succession. Despite the Land
Bill of 1870, they are harassed by a sense of insecurity. Monetary
payment for the work of their best years would not compensate them for
the loss of the holdings, the value of which has been created by their
own intelligent work. In England farmers of this type would assuredly
have a lease, and their Irish brethren hold that schemes for the
gradual acquirement of land by tenants should be accompanied by the
"Three F's," and extended over fifty instead of thirty-five years. The
latter plan would, they think, be of little use to the present tenant,
as it would practically raise his rent too far, and thus prevent him
from doing his best by the land. Great force is given to these
opinions by evidence in my possession, that, although a great deal of
land has been reclaimed within the last fifty years, a large
proportion is running barren for want of means on the farmers' part to
cultivate it properly.

The panic among all classes connected with "landlordism" is on the
increase. All who can conveniently leave county Kerry are doing so. If
I go for a drive with one of those proscribed by the grogshop-keepers
of Castleisland the muzzle of a double-barrelled carbine peeps
ominously from the "well" of the car. Meanwhile all enterprise and
development of the country is arrested. The North Kerry Railway,
connecting this town with Limerick, will, I believe, be opened next
week, "despite of foes," but other undertakings are for the moment
paralysed. This is the more to be regretted, as Tralee is a rising
place. After a desperate struggle against the inertness of Western
Ireland on the subject of pure water, the uncongenial element has been
introduced so skilfully and with so much fall that a jet can be thrown
over any house in Tralee. The last new idea is a railway to Fenit
Without, six miles down the bay. Up to the present time vessels have
been brought to Tralee by a ship canal, but it is now sought to
construct a railway running on to a pier, the elbow of which should be
formed by Great Camphire Island. The cost of the railway will be
45,000l., of which 30,000l. is guaranteed by the county, and a large
part of the balance taken up by the town. The pier is a far more
serious business, depending on the Board of Works; but all attention
is diverted from this and other important subjects by the terrorism
which has, only just recently, extended to the county of Kerry.


KILLARNEY, CO. KERRY, _Thursday, Dec. 9th._

The eviction--of landlords and land-agents--is going on bravely. Mr.
Hussey, Lord Kenmare's agent, left Kerry a short time ago, and the
Lord Chamberlain himself left Killarney House yesterday morning, not
in a paroxysm of indignant "landlordism," but "more in sorrow than in
anger." Lord Kenmare, who is a downright resident Irish landlord,
_s'il en fust oncques_, confessedly leaves Ireland with great regret,
and bade his people "Good-bye, for a long time" with no feigned grief.
But he finds the country uninhabitable, while indignation meetings are
held almost at his gates, and the very labourers whom he has done so
much to employ make common cause with the farmers against him in
paying no rent. The improvements going on here for some time past are
stopped, and about 200l. a week of wages lost to the neighbourhood.
The causes which led to Lord Kenmare's departure have but recently
sprung into existence. The _jacquerie_ only reached Kerry the other
day, and already the county is revolutionised. Thanks to The
O'Donoghue and other Land Leaguers, Kerry is now in as unsettled a
condition as Mayo, Galway, Clare, and Limerick. The flame was long in
reaching this remote region; but when it came it fell among
inflammable stuff, as will be gathered from the almost ridiculous
circumstance of farmers and labourers combining together against a
supposed common enemy. Farmers who a fortnight ago talked scornfully
of those who "held the harvest" have, to my certain knowledge,
subscribed to the Land League within the last few days, and I am
informed that those who have hitherto held out will be members before
another week is gone. It is true that additional allurements are held
out to them. The three "F's" no longer satisfy the more advanced
spirits who emulate Mr. Parnell's magnificent vagueness, and declare
it quite impossible that any measure likely to pass the Houses of
Parliament as at present constituted will satisfy the people of
Ireland. Meanwhile terrorism is upheld as a legitimate weapon of
reform. If it were possible to be surprised at anything taking place
in Ireland at the present moment, I should have been surprised at a
farmer to whom I was talking a couple of days ago, and who farms
between two and three hundred acres under an "improving" landlord. The
farmer, who was evidently a local luminary on the land question, is
only a recent convert to Land League principles; but he was
nevertheless prepared to defend the cowardly kind of general strike
against an individual, known as "Boycotting." He also talked a great
deal about fair rents and the compulsion that farmers are under to pay
anything that their landlords choose to ask. Yet this very man was,
not long since, offered the profitable farm he now occupies in the
place of smaller and less convenient holdings. Asked by his landlord
what he thought he ought to pay, he offered two and a half times
Griffith's valuation, and on the landlord asking him three times that
rate, agreed with him to "split the difference," and was, or appeared
to be, satisfied. But at that moment he had not been made conscious of
his wrongs, and of his down-trodden, serf-like condition. He is fully
aware of them now, and, in plain English, is prepared to make the best
of the present opportunity.

As the possible peasant proprietor of the future is a personage much
discussed among landlords and others just how, I thought it well to
consult the farmer as well as the legal and proprietorial minds on
this important subject. I was at once struck by the "so far and no
farther" tone, so to speak, of the larger farmers. According to many
of those I consulted, no greater disaster could occur to Ireland than
the creation of peasant proprietors. I will endeavour to give, as
nearly as possible, the exact words of farmers whose ideas concerning
the claims of their own class are of the most advanced I have heard.

The instant I asked a question concerning the peasant-proprietor
problem and the future of the "poor devil" cottiers, whose sufferings
have made an excellent stalking-horse for the farmers, properly
so-called, I was met with a well-formulated objection to any scheme of
peasant proprietorship. The cottier _pauvre diable_ appears, I
apprehend, to the farmers as a labourer, and they therefore look with
anything but favour upon a scheme for raising the poor peasants above
the necessity of working for them, by giving the poor a real stake in
the country. The farmers hold that, unless some stringent regulations
against subdividing or subletting be adopted and firmly enforced, the
creation of peasant proprietors on an extensive scale will be the
greatest misfortune that ever befell Ireland; as in the course of time
it will create a nation of beggars, which cannot be maintained on the
land. The farmer mind fails to perceive how any Act of Parliament can
prevent an owner or peasant proprietor from selling his entire
interest in his holding. This, they argue, will lead to the creation
of a race of landlords who will bring more misery and ruin upon the
country than anything that the present generation is acquainted with;
as necessarily the class of landlords thus formed will be more
exacting and severe upon their tenants than the present large
territorial proprietors.

Thus far the farmer, who so far as the evils of subdivision or
subletting are concerned is at one with the great landed proprietor,
who, thanks to the recklessness of his predecessors, sees his efforts
to improve his property paralysed, and his own personal honour and
reputation endangered by the acts of the leaseholders or fee-farm,
renters over whom he has no power whatever. Many large holdings are
leased to middlemen who have sublet them at extravagant rents, but
cannot be dispossessed. This is the system which now exists, yet the
great landholders I have consulted describe it as the result which
will be brought about by giving the fee-simple of holdings to cottier
tenants. "And," I am asked on all sides, "is fixity of tenure to
signify the fixture of little tenants in their present holdings, on
which they cannot possibly lead a reasonably human existence? Is it
intended to stereotype disaster, to perpetuate the blundering of the
past? Or is it intended to give them at great expense to the country,
larger holdings on partially reclaimed waste lands on the system
commended by Mr. Mitchell Henry, and perhaps applicable to Connemara,
if not to other places? And is it intended that when Mike, and Thady,
and Tim are settled on their new clearings they are to do as they like
on them, to subdivide, to sublet, to conacre, to settle their numerous
children and their children's children on the original forty-acre
farm? And are they, after they have taken possession of it, partly
reclaimed and brought under plough, to be allowed to cultivate it or
not cultivate it as they like--to let it all go back first to pasture
then to sedge, and finally to bog?"

Mainly with a view to elicit further expression of opinion, I hinted
to the last and most accomplished person who put these queries to me,
that it would be absurd to give the cottier absolute control over his
land, and that he should have a conditional lease from the
Government, the four cardinal conditions being--that he should not
subdivide; that he should not sublet; that he should not take in a
partner; that he should cultivate some portion of the land according
to a prescribed system. I saw the fine Irish "oi" of my friend gleam
with triumph. "A second Daniel," he almost shouted; "a second Daniel
come from England. But are you aware, my friend, that you have evolved
from your own unaided consciousness one of 'Lord Leitrim's
leases'--the leases, which cost him his life? Bating the fines which
he injudiciously levied you have exactly the programme for enforcing
which he was shot, as you would probably be if you attempted anything
of the kind. It is not at the signing of the leases that any
difficulty would arise, but in carrying their letter and spirit into
effect."

In view of the conflicting opinions held by able residents in the
western and south-western counties, I thought it well to inspect a few
estates, great and small, and to record such visible and otherwise
well ascertained facts as might bear on the questions now at issue. My
first visit in Kerry was to Clashatlea on the hill-side, opposite the
station of Gortatlea on the railway line to Tralee. This townland is
the property of Mr. Arthur Blennerhasset, of Ballyseedy, and it has
fallen into an awful condition through no fault of its present
proprietor.

Years ago the land was let for electioneering purposes, akin to the
creation of faggot votes, and a vast number of small holders became
fixed upon land from which it is impossible to evict them. The
approach to the small holdings lies along a cross road now in the
course of construction from the lower road to the mountain road into
Tralee. The cross road is in its present wet and unfinished condition
a sore trial to man and beast; but it has a history nevertheless.
Years ago it was a matter of complaint by the cottiers of Clashatlea
that to obtain turf they were obliged to make a great detour involving
the climbing of a severe hill. An attempt was made to lay a road on
the lines now in progress; but it never grew into more than "the name
of a road." So the little peasant cultivators whose land abutted on
the abortive road gradually absorbed it into their possessions, each
peasant taking his section in turn; a system exactly like that
followed in bygone days by English landholders, and now attempted by
the riparian proprietors of the Thames Valley. So far these poor
people imitated the method of their social superiors; but they were
not so fortunate as some of these in retaining their plunder. The new
road was decreed, and Mike, and Thady, and Tim were obliged to
withdraw within their ancient limits. Along the new road we went,
bumping and jolting, at the imminent risk of the guns and revolvers in
the car going off, until we reached the upper road by the glen. In
parts the wretched houses were separated by a perceptible distance;
but here and there they had been built side by side to accommodate the
increasing population on the holdings.

How minute the subdivision has been may be gathered from the fact that
335 English acres, whereof some 250 are good for anything in their
present condition, are divided among 40 tenant families, whose numbers
may be safely put down at 200 souls. The land is therefore divided at
the rate of one and a quarter English acres per head, and when it is
mentioned that the most important tenant pays a rent of 17l. 10s., it
will be seen that some of the holdings are ridiculously small. Many
range from 4l. to 5l. per annum and are absolutely incapable of
providing food for a family. It has been found impossible to reduce
the number of tenants to any sensible degree without incurring the
hatred of the country side, and the old and infirm whose children are
dead or have emigrated, still cling to the miserable cabins in which
their lives have been passed.

On the opposite side of Tralee I witnessed a spectacle of a widely
different character. A smart drive from Tralee northwards through a
blinding rain landed me at Ardfert, the village in the centre of Mr.
W. Crosbie's wonderfully improved estate. Going about his work quietly
and unostentatiously, the proprietor has, in the course of forty-two
years, completely altered the conditions of existence on his land.
When it came into his possession in 1838, it was, as many Irish
estates are now, suffering from local congestion of population. Mr.
Crosbie's father had inherited from the Earl of Glendore, who had
given leases under the old penal laws. At the time only Protestants
were allowed to hold leases, and in consequence of the small number of
Protestants compared with the demand for lessees, the leases were
obtained upon very advantageous terms--a long period, a low rent, and
few conditions. The result was that the penal law, like other clumsy
devices of the kind, defeated itself; for there was nothing to prevent
the lessee from subletting the land. This had been done to an enormous
extent when Mr. Crosbie came into possession, and the lowland part of
the estate was greatly over-populated. The upper part was greatly
under-populated, and in the words of the proprietor, nothing could be
worse than the way in which the tenants held the land. "No one knew
from year to year which farm he had to till, and they used to divide
every field and divide the crops every year." Mr. Crosbie was not
deterred by the difficulty of the task before him, and undertook the
redistribution of his tenantry, on the anti-rundale system, and by
degrees succeeded in planting the surplus population of the lowlands
upon the higher ground. Moreover he anticipated the ideas of Mr.
Mitchell Henry and Canon Griffin by putting his tenants under the
direct control of a skilled agriculturist, under his own supervision.
Having thus redistributed his people on the land and taught them the
elements of agricultural science, he commenced the work of building
them suitable houses and farm buildings.

Mr. Crosbie's estate in Kerry is of 9,913 acres valued by Government
at 4,638l., with a present rent roll of 8,500l., thanks to the
expenditure of 40,000l. since 1839. As one approaches Ardfert the
cabin common in Kerry vanishes to make room for houses well and
substantially built of concrete, with whale-back roofs also of
concrete. The merit of originally introducing concrete as a building
material into this part of Ireland belongs, I believe, to Mr. Mahony,
of Dromore, who has employed it largely on his own estate; but Mr.
Crosbie was, at least, one of the first to perceive the advantage of
using it. With Portland cement and the sand and pebbles of the
adjacent sea-shore he has made a concrete village, and given his
farmers houses of a kind previously unknown in his neighbourhood.
Concrete has several advantages keenly appreciated in Kerry. It is
dry--an immense advantage in a humid climate, and floors, ceilings,
partition walls, and roofs, are all made of it, as well as the
external walls. It also requires very little skilled work, and can be
built up by ordinary labourers under proper supervision. Another great
advantage is that it can be moulded to any shape and thickness, and is
therefore most useful for barns, cowhouses, and feeding stalls.

The houses and farm buildings I have seen certainly seem perfect, and
have, I am informed, been constructed at about the same price as
corrugated iron. Those fond of tracing the genius of a nation in its
constructive faculty will probably be amused at finding that the
latest work of structural genius in Kerry is a development of that
mud-hut order of architecture which has existed here from pre-historic
times. But concrete well employed is a very different thing from the
dirt-pie or mud-hut idea at the other end of the evolutionary chain.

Mr. Chute, of Chute Hall, is also an improver and architectural
reformer, his efforts being directed towards the abolition of thatch
in favour of slate, an idea which has proved more fortunate in his
case than in that of the great-grandfather of the present Lord
Kenmare. The great estates of the Lord Chamberlain have curiously
enough been equally damaged by the care and carelessness of his
ancestors. His great-grandfather was disgusted at the condition of the
town of Killarney, and offered any tenant who would build a decent
house with a slate roof a perpetual lease of the land it stood upon
and the adjoining garden for a nominal rent of four shillings and
fourpence per annum, without other important conditions. The result
has been that Killarney can boast of as filthy lanes as any in London
or Liverpool. The ordinary process, the same as that which formed the
hideous slums between Drury-lane and Great Wild-street, now happily
demolished, has gone on in Killarney. Tenants under no restrictions
gradually converted their gardens into lanes of hovels, and made money
thereby, and the result is a concentration in Killarney of filth which
would be better distributed on the side of a mountain, and which is
under the nose of a landlord who is powerless to apply a remedy.

Not long ago Lord Kenmare sought to establish what is called here a
Temperance Hall, for the purpose of giving lecturers and entertainers
a chance of amusing the people; but the proprietor of the ground,
after a prolonged negotiation, declined to surrender his property.
Killarney is in the hands of the dwellers therein, and a very poor
place it is.

Conversely Lord Kenmare's property suffers severely from the
recklessness of the ancestor who flourished in the "comet year,"
famous for hock. That spirited nobleman, averse to the nuisance of
dealing directly with tenants, leased a large portion of his property
to middlemen in 1811 for forty-one years or three lives; that is to
say, for a minimum of forty-one years with expansion to three lives.
The effect of this fatal policy of giving away all power of
supervision and management has been made manifest in the past, and is
yet visible on those portions of the estate the three-life leases of
which have not yet fallen in. The gross rental of Lord Kenmare's
estates in Kerry, Cork, and Limerick, amounting altogether to 118,606
acres, is 37,713l., against Griffith's valuation of 34,473l., but the
distribution of this sum is very unequal, especially since the rents
of the yearly tenants were raised in 1876, in some cases to the by no
means unfair extent of 50 per cent. above the poor-rate valuation.

The 3,300 tenants on Lord Kenmare's property have been mainly put upon
the land by middlemen who made a great profit out of their three-life
leases. The lands of Mastergechy, Knockacrea, and Knockacappul are all
let at an immense reduction on Griffith's valuation, but to middlemen,
who realise from 200 to 300 per cent. on their investment. Despite
these drawbacks, Lord Kenmare is an "improving" landlord, and has laid
out in the last ten months some 7,000l. on his property. The pretty
tile-roof cottages outside of Killarney are a reproach to the town
itself, over which Lord Kenmare, after the manner of many other Irish
landlords, has no kind of control.


VALENTIA, CO. KERRY, _Dec. 12th._

In a previous letter I alluded to the length of time it had taken the
Land League agitation to make itself felt in Kerry, and to the
swiftness with which, when once ignited, the far south-west of Ireland
blazed into open disaffection. The causes of this slowness to light
up, immediately followed by a fierce and sudden flame, are by no means
obscure. Kerry has always been the last place to follow a popular
movement, and the last to relinquish it.

As the French Revolution and its effects on Ireland were not heard of
in Kerry till long after the establishment of the Empire, so was Ross
Castle, on the lower lake at Killarney, the last stronghold subdued by
Ludlow; and so also was Kerry the last stronghold of Fenianism.
Moribund in the other parts of Ireland until Nationalists and Land
Leaguers were united, by the prosecution of Mr. Parnell, Fenianism
still lingered and lingers on in Kerry. In the pot-houses of Tralee,
Castle Island, and Cahirciveen the embers of Fenianism have smouldered
since the outbreak of 1867. Slow to learn, Kerry has been slow to
forget, and when once the emissaries of the Land League arrived here
they found ready to their hand the _cadre_ at least of a formidable
organisation, and the reign of terrorism at once commenced.

Up to the present moment I have not heard of houses being blown up by
dynamite after the fashion in Bantry, but the farmers who have already
not paid their rents decline to do so, or pay in full secretly, while
openly subscribing to the Land League and denouncing the mean-spirited
serfs who would pay a farthing above Griffith's valuation.

There is no mistaking the strength of the movement which has at last
reached this remote island, between which and America, as a native
said to me yesterday, "There is not as much as the grass of a goat."
This saying refers to the popular method of measurement, which is not
by acres, but by the grass of so many cows, according to the richness
of the pasture. Up to a month ago there was no talk of the Land League
on Valentia Island. The tenants had for the most part paid their May
rents, and the situation therefore afforded little scope for
agitation; but the subtle spirit which spread instantaneously from
Tralee to Cahirciveen quickly traversed the ferry, and now the
Valentians are as keen on the subject of their grievances as anybody
else in the western half of Ireland. At Cahirciveen anti-landlordism
is as vigorous at this moment as at Tralee, or even at Ennis itself,
albeit violent personal outrages have not been perpetrated in the
immediate neighbourhood.

A resolute and influential leader of the people declared to me
yesterday that the spirit now aroused would never be quelled but by a
full and generous recognition of the claims of the cultivators. He
averred that the people are not only awakened to their wrongs and
determined to have them redressed, but that they possess the power of
enforcing their will. I hinted that savage threats and deeds of
violence might produce temporary anarchy, but that the end of all
would be the crushing of the League with a strong hand. The answer was
not argument, but defiance. It was impossible, the speaker asserted,
to crush the combination now existing in Kerry. It could not be
crushed, for the simple reason that it did not transgress the law.
This was startling news, and I at once asked what was to be said of
the dynamite affair at Bantry, the ear-cutting business near Castle
Island, and the shooting of a bailiff in Tyrone? Only one of those
things, I was instantly reminded, had occurred in Kerry, and I was
moreover instructed that personal violence was preached against by the
Land League priests, and opposed by all lay leaders. The crimes
alluded to were the accidents of a great upheaval of the people, who
could attain their objects perfectly well without violence.

To the objection that without occasional violence the terrorism now
existing would lose all its strength, that threats never carried out
would become ridiculous, that when violence ceased, tenants as well as
landlords would set the Land League law aside and, do as they pleased,
it was replied that the great agrarian movement had passed through the
period of terrorism as nations pass through the early stage of
baronial rights, especially that of private war. The present condition
of the anti-landlord party was not that of a revolt, but of a strike,
which whether it was wise and according to the laws of political
economy or not, was clearly lawful. There was no constitutional right
in any one man to compel another to work for him, and a strike was
therefore clearly permissible. It was nonsense to cry out against
combination. It was the only possible method of the weak making good
their case against the strong, and the landlords might combine, and
welcome, if they thought it would do them any good. Nobody wanted to
shoot them any more, for they were "Quite, quite down." The present
strike was of an unprecedented character. Strikes of workpeople were
sometimes met and defeated by combinations of masters, because the
masters held the property and plant, and the men had nothing but their
heads and hands, and perhaps a little money in savings banks. So the
masters lasted the longest and won, except when their number included
a large proportion of needy, speculative manufacturers, who durst not
stop their mills, and thus became the indirect and unwilling allies of
the artisan. But where the masters were few and wealthy, the artisans
had no chance against them.

It was far otherwise with the Irish farmers and cottiers, who not only
"held the harvest," or rather its monetary result, but held the land
and were "not going to give it up." The people, the speaker opined,
had really won the battle already, and it was for them to exercise the
power they had suddenly become aware of wisely and mercifully. There
was no further need for violence or threats of violence, but what was
called the law should not be carried out until the claims of the Irish
people were fully admitted by the English Government.

How then was this gigantic strike to be carried on without violence or
threatening life or limb? Quite easily was the reply--by extending the
process of "Boycotting." This is, it seems, the great constitutional
weapon on which neither horse, foot, nor artillery can be brought to
bear. Those who will not join the _Jacquerie_, and aid and abet those
Irish analogues of Jacques Bonhomme, Mike and Thady and Tim, in their
resistance to "landlordism" shall be "Boycotted"; and all those who
refuse to join in "Boycotting" an offender shall be treated in the
same way.

Already the stoutest hearted are yielding on every side to the dread
of being "Boycotted," a doom which signifies simply that the victim
must surrender or leave the country. It means that nobody will buy or
sell with any member of the family which is declared "taboo"; that the
farmer may drive his cattle and pigs to market, but will not find a
purchaser; that he may reap his grain and pull his potatoes, but that
not a soul in the country will buy them for fear of being "Boycotted"
himself. It means that the baker will refuse him bread, and the
butcher meat; that no draper who knows his wife by sight will sell her
as much as a ribbon; that not a creature will buy her butter and
eggs, chickens and turkeys, geese and ducks; that she will be unable
to buy any article of food or luxury for her children, and that they
will be "sent to Coventry" at school.

There is not an atom of exaggeration in anything here stated. It is
not a fancy picture, but as genuine as that of Mr. Boycott himself;
and there is no doubt that the taste for "Boycotting" is spreading
rapidly, as my informant, who is heartily in favour of it, declares it
is "clean within any law that could be made, let alone carried out."
It is impossible to compel any community to have dealings with a
person whom they dislike, and the anti-landlord party are determined
to carry their point without, as appears on the notices served on
farmers, "hurting one hair of their heads." "Isolation" has, in fact,
been added to the number of the arts which soften manners and forbid
them to be savage. It is the sprig of shillelagh in a velvet sheath.



XV.

THE "BOYCOTTING" OF MR. BENCE JONES.


CORK, _Friday, Dec. 17th._

The present condition of Mr. W. Bence Jones, of Lisselan, whom I
called upon to-day, illustrates most vividly the advance made in the
art of "Boycotting" since its invention. Early attempts in any
artistic direction are apt to be crude, and when "Boycotting" was
first practised at Lough Mask it put on the guise of a general strike
of the country side against an individual, but its effect was purely
local. Since that time great progress has been made in shaping and
finishing what one of my informants defined as "a strictly
constitutional weapon." At this moment the arm of the skilful
"Boycotter" is long. It can stop the sale of the original victim's
potatoes in a northern town; it can keep Mr. Stacpoole from getting
rid of his horses in Limerick; and can actually prevent Mr. Bence
Jones from sending his cattle from Cork to England. The latter
gentleman is isolated on his estate at Lisselan, a place near
Ballinascarthy, between Bandon and Clonakilty, in this county, but his
isolation has not yet gone, in some respects, to the same brutal
length as that of Mr. Boycott. He is still permitted to receive and to
despatch his letters; and car-drivers have, perhaps by some oversight
of the "Boycotters," not yet been warned to avoid his house as if it
were a lazaretto, and to refuse to carry his visitors within miles of
his door. Perhaps he is considered by the mysterious persons who alone
exercise authority in Ireland just now as only a "tyrant" of the
second or third degree, and not as a first-class malefactor.

But, however this may be, I found none of the difficulty in reaching
Lisselan which accompanied my second visit to Lough Mask House. When I
started from Bandon this morning, that thriving town was wrapped in
slumber, although the sun was shining brightly out of a deep blue sky,
just flecked at the horizon with pearly-hued clouds. The ground was
hard and crisp, and the hoofs of the horses rang out merrily as I sped
in the direction of Clonakilty, through an undulating country mainly
devoted to pasture, some of which was rough and sedgy. As I approached
Ballinascarthy the quality of the land was visibly better.

Lisselan House lies in the midst of a charming pastoral scene. Beyond
the clean-cut lawn flows the silvery flood of the Arrigadeen, its
opposite bank is clothed with the bright green tops of white turnips
in the midst of which is penned a flock of sheep (Shropshire Downs),
and in the distance are green meadows and browsing kine. All would be
soft, peaceful, and Arcadian, were it not for the helmets of the 3rd
Dragoon Guards glittering in the sun as the patrol turns the corner of
the wood, and the tall, dark figures of the Royal Irish Constabulary
guarding the gate and doorstep. At present the house, the farm, and
the neighbouring village are occupied by the police, and it has been
thought necessary to increase the strength of the garrison in order to
assure the safety of the servants who, to their infinite credit in
such times as these, remain true to their master.

It is not pretended for an instant that either Mr. W. Bence Jones or
his son, who are as gigantic of stature as they are resolute of mind,
need fear personal attack. They are known to be armed to the teeth,
and the chances are that the weak-minded labourers who have deserted
them are far more afraid of "the masters" than they are of them. The
household of Lisselan consists for the time being of the Messrs. Bence
Jones, father and son. Miss Bence Jones, their English house servants,
two labourers--whereof one is English and the other Irish--Mr. Law,
the Scotch bailiff, and an Irish housemaid, who has remained faithful,
and helps Miss Bence Jones to milk the cows and to attend to the
dairy. The road is slippery on the high ground hard by, and it is
debated at Lisselan House whether the farrier of the Dragoon Guards
shall not be asked to "sharpen" the shoes of the animals employed
there, for no local workman will touch them.

As I pass by the dairy, one of those in which collectively Mr. Bence
Jones makes 1,000l. worth of butter yearly, I see the trim housemaid,
dressed in cotton print, milking a cow, and am presently aware of "the
master's" son and daughter, who have been up since the dawn feeding
and penning cattle and sheep, and milking the cows. Since Monday the
strike among the Irish employed on the house and the farm has, with
the exceptions already mentioned, been rigidly maintained. The men,
about forty in number, were "noticed" on Friday; on Saturday they
announced their intention of working no more for Mr. Bence Jones, and
on Monday deserted the place as if it were plague-stricken.

On Monday morning Mr. Law stood aghast at the sight of a farm of a
thousand acres with nobody to work it; but he soon recovered himself,
and with the help of his own work, that of a couple of labourers left,
and the co-operation of the master's son and daughter, matters went on
despite the strike. Mr. Law is, of course, as a good Scotch bailiff
should be, greatly distressed at the state of his cow-houses,
feeding-stalls, and stockyard, now ankle-deep in "muck"; but the fine
shorthorned bull seems none the worse, and the pigs have taken kindly
to the new and disorderly condition of affairs. But things are not
brought to a deadlock yet. Of the animals "Boycotted" in Dublin the
sheep have since been shipped, and it is thought here that at the
moment of writing the cattle will be on their way to Sir Thomas Dyke
Acland, to whom they are consigned.

Byron wrote that "nought so much the spirit calms as rum and true
religion;" but this dictum is hardly confirmed in the case of Mr.
Bence Jones's assailants, who number among them a minister of
religion, as well as the irrepressible grogshop-keeper. I am informed
that last Sunday the mutinous labourers--or, perhaps, it would be more
correct to say the labourers who have been coerced by threats into
mutiny--were addressed in the vestry by Father Mulcahy, and that
either he or some other person assured them that they would receive
their wages as if they were still employed. However this may be, the
unfortunate families, about thirty in number, who have struck at the
bidding of the anti-landlord party, are making a sorry bargain; for
many of the men are getting on in years, and will have to seek work
and house-room elsewhere when they are turned out of their cottages to
make room for the strange hands who are coming to do the work they
refuse to do. The neat little dwellings of stone and slate that I
observed to-day on the Lisselan estate are not let to the labourers,
but are, with as much potato land as they can manure, thrown in with
their wages, 11s. per week. They must now make way for people who will
work, and are not afraid of "Rory of the Hills." Offers of help pour
in upon Mr. Bence Jones, and the first detachment of labourers is
expected forthwith. One friend offers a phalanx of English navvies;
but temperate counsels prevail, and it is thought better to get the
really small number of men required brought in quietly. With police
everywhere at Lisselan and Ballinascarthy, and cavalry patrols always
at hand, it is hardly likely that violence will be attempted towards
the newcomers or the present slender garrison.

There are, as in all such cases, conflicting reports as to the cause
of the quarrel, if such it can be designated, between landlord and
labourer at Lisselan. In his forthcoming book, _A Life's Work in
Ireland, by a Landlord who tried to do his duty_, Mr. Bence Jones will
doubtless describe with characteristic accuracy the objects he had in
view, and the means he took to accomplish them. He has also already
made known his difficulties and disappointments through the medium of
the Press. He has undoubtedly, had abundant opportunity of weighing
the possibilities of Irish country life during the long period of his
residence in Ireland. It is also clear to any unprejudiced person that
he has striven, not only to do his duty by the land, but by the
tenants occupying one part of it and the labourers employed on the
other. In round numbers he owns about 4,000 acres, of which he farms
1,000 himself. Besides 1,000l. worth of butter annually made, he sells
1,000l. worth more of cattle, and 1,000l. worth of sheep and wool,
besides oats and various other produce.

While this one-thousand-acre farm was let to tenants, it yielded its
proprietor an average rental of 17s. an acre. No person acquainted
with farming would for an instant assume that a small tenant could
make nearly as much out of his land as the farmer of a thousand acres;
but allowing for all this, 14s. 3d. per acre appeared a very low rate
to the landlord of the farm of fifty-eight acres occupied for the last
half-century by the Walsh family. I gather that the grandfather of D.
Walsh held the farm from the grandfather of the present landlord; that
the original occupant was succeeded by his son; that on the son's
death his widow retained undisturbed possession until her son was old
enough to assume the management, and that then the landlord required
20s. per acre from him. To the landlord it seemed that the Walsh
family had had a good bargain. He was informed, with what degree of
accuracy I cannot at this moment ascertain, that the widow had given
her four daughters respectively 140l., 130l., 130l., and the stock of
a farm, probably of equal value "to their fortune," and that she had
also helped one of her sons to make a start in the world on an
independent farm. From these circumstances he concluded that he was
entitled to more rent than he had been receiving, and demanded 20s.
from her son for a lease of thirty-one years.

To the tenant the case assumed a widely-different aspect. His
grandfather, his father and his mother, had successively occupied the
fifty-eight acre farm for fifty years. Two generations had been bred,
if not born, on the holding at Ballinascarthy, just beyond the bridge.
They had been decent people. They had paid their rent, and if his
sisters had received good portions it was no more than their due,
considering the respectability of their family. Was he, after his
people had held the land for fifty years, to have it "raised on him"
to nearly double Griffith's valuation? Was it just to increase the
rent because his father and mother were dead? All these questions
occurred to the tenant, beyond any matter of improvements and so
forth. The landlord's position is quite intelligible. The value of
farm produce had risen so greatly since the original rent was levied,
and the farmer had prospered so well of late years, that the holding
was demonstrably worth more rent than had been paid. On the other
hand, the tenant held that the farm had done well by his people,
because they had done well by it, and that to "raise the rent on him"
because his family had behaved honestly and industriously was a
monstrous exercise of arbitrary power. The upshot of the whole matter
was a refusal on the part of the whole tenantry to pay the last "gale"
or six months' rent. It is a noteworthy circumstance that none of the
tenants are in arrear.

There are other accusations than that of raising the rent brought
against Mr. Bence Jones. The police barrack at Ballinascarthy was once
a grogshop, given by the landlord to a dairymaid who had been long in
his service. No sooner had she a groggery "to her fortune" than her
hand was sought by a legion of admirers. It is not, I fancy, generally
known in England that in this romantic country the warmhearted,
impulsive peasants almost invariably contract _mariages de
convenance_.

It is said that a young man in the neighbouring city of Kerry was once
sorely vexed in his mind as to his matrimonial choice. The
"matchmaker" who arranges such matters had proposed two girls to him,
one of whom had one cow and the other two cows "to her fortune." Now,
the "Boy" liked the girl with one cow far better than her rival who
had two, but the magnitude of the sacrifice he wished to make sat
heavy on his soul. He consulted a patriarch renowned for his wisdom,
and laid great stress upon his love for the girl with one cow. The
oracle spake as follows: "Take the gyurl wid the two cows. There isn't
the difference of a cow, begorra, betune any two women in the
wor-r-ld." By similar reasoning a superannuated dairymaid with a
grogshop is a very different person to the "pretty girl milking her
cow"--sovereign lady of her presence, but of no groggery beside.
Consequently the woman got married and died, and her husband having
proved objectionable was evicted and the grogshop extinguished. This
was another grievance against Mr. Bence Jones, who is known to oppose
the indiscriminate licensing which takes place in many parts of
Ireland. I believe that in the neighbouring townlet of Clonakilty
there are no less than forty-two whisky shops, a proportion to make
Lord Aberdare's hair to stand on end. Furthermore it seems that after
bearing with Mr. Bence Jones for nearly forty years the people have
dubbed him "tyrant" and "domineering Saxon," epithets certain to be
applied to any Englishman who tries to do his own work in his own way
in Ireland. Any insistance on anything being done in the master's way
instead of the man's is "tyranny." Any curt command is "domineering."
Irish peasants are accustomed to easier and pleasanter ways, and like
to be coaxed and petted. It is only just to admit that under this
treatment they display the utmost goodwill and pliancy. They will do
anything to serve those who take them rightly, but they hate
discipline. To the Saxon again it seems hard that he should be called
upon to waste time in coaxing a mere hewer of wood and drawer of
water, who, moreover, hews wood very badly, and draws water with
exasperating deliberation. But a peremptory tone will not answer in
southern and western Ireland.

It may be urged that it has taken the people a long time to discover
that Mr. Bence Jones was a tyrant. One thing is certain--they are
likely soon to be rid of him. By living carefully he has been enabled
to spend a large proportion of his income in improving his estate. He
now announces his intention of throwing all his farm into pasture and
leaving a country which has become uninhabitable.

It is curious, to say the least, that as he was correcting the proofs
of the volume which embodies his experience, he was called upon to
rise and welcome the resident magistrate and the officer commanding
the patrol, considered necessary for the preservation of himself, his
family, and the few dependants who yet remain steadfast.


CORK, _December 20th._


It is impossible to exaggerate the panic prevailing among the landed
proprietors of Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare. Within the
triangle, which may be roughly described as inclosed by Galway town,
Waterford, and Valentia Island, a reign of terror paralyses all those
classes of the population owning any kind of property directly or
indirectly connected with land.

Perhaps the agents whose calling is menaced with extinction preserve
the most equable mind under the present arduous circumstances. They
are to the manner born. They are accustomed to receive threatening
letters frequently, and to be shot at now and then. Individually,
therefore, they bear up very well, but it is far otherwise with their
families, who look forward to St. Stephen's Day and its threatened
meetings with undisguised apprehension. The men leave home in the
morning bristling with double-barrelled carbines and revolving
pistols, and, confiding either in themselves, their police escort, or
both, keep, in the language of the country, a "good heart"; but it is
far otherwise with their wives and daughters. As the "master" and the
"boys" prepare to depart, and guns are being put on the car, together
with the rugs and macintoshes, the matron's cheek grows pale, and her
lips quiver as she bids farewell to the beloved ones, whom she may
never see "safe home" again. This is no picture drawn by the
imagination, with which flattering critics are pleased to credit me.

Such a scene as I describe was witnessed by me a few days ago, and I
regret to hear that the brave lady, who bore up well for several weeks
against ever-present anxiety, has broken down at last, and lies on a
bed of sickness. In this struggle against a covert mutiny, women, as
in open warfare, are the chief sufferers. There are many of the men
who ask for nothing better than to be let loose on some visible mortal
representatives of their intangible foe. But the general feeling is
despondent. The unfortunate landowners, house proprietors, and many of
the merchants, complain bitterly that they are delivered into the
hands of a "convict," whose ticket of leave enables him to paralyse
the industry of the country.

To a person unconnected with the landed interest of Ireland it is at
first a little difficult to understand the almost insane terror of
nearly all persons endowed with property. To the stranger the country
is absolutely safe, and unless in the company of landlords or land
agents he may go safely unarmed in any part of Ireland I have visited;
but resident proprietors, and the representatives of absentees, are in
very different case, and the farmers and labourers who have not yet
joined the Land League are in a still worse position. So skilfully has
this organisation been carried out that hardly a creature dare do his
duty or speak his mind except the judges. In Court to-day the man
O'Halloran, whose being sent up for trial at the Assizes here
occasioned the riot at Tulla a few days since, was tried for appending
a threatening notice to a chapel door. It will be recollected that the
prisoner was brought before the magistrates at Tulla rather than at
Ennis, in order to avoid a tumult, but that on its being known that he
was committed for trial an uproar occurred, which ended in the
bayoneting of three of the rioters by the police. The man was tried
here to-day, and he will be tried again to-morrow before another
jury.

I may not express an opinion on the evidence of the police; it will
suffice that the jury of to-day did not agree, and that this absence
of result provoked some severe remarks from the bench. Great blame is
thrown upon Lord O'Hagan's Act for frequent miscarriage of justice in
this country, but the truth is that the outside pressure is too strong
for any but a "packed" jury of independent, that is to say
non-resident, persons to withstand.

That terrorism has prevailed not only over landlords who are flying
from the country, and agents who are at least putting their families
in the few places in which some semblance of order prevails--that is,
within the shadow of a police barrack or under the wing of a
garrison--but over merchants, as was proved the other day in the case
of Mr. Bence Jones's cattle. I hear of a similar occurrence to-day.
Mr. Richard Stacpoole, of Eden Vale, county Clare, wrote a few days
since to a firm in Limerick for twelve tons of oilcake, not an
insignificant order from a responsible person as times go. The answer
was that the firm in question had not a pound of oilcake in store, but
that the order could be transferred to a firm in Cork, who would
direct the cake to some other person than Mr. Stacpoole, "to be left
till called for" at the Ennis Railway Station, and that if the
purchaser would send somebody else's carts for it late at night or
very early in the morning, he would probably get it home safely. It
may be imagined that Mr. Stacpoole declined to receive oilcake as if
it were "potheen" or other contraband, and at once closed his account
with the firm in question.

This instance is quoted out of many to show that the art of
"Boycotting" is advancing from the proportions of a mere local strike
to those of an almost national combination against any person who has
incurred the resentment of the popular party. It is noteworthy that
strict adherence to the "constitutional weapon" is mainly confined to
the cases of those whom it is unsafe to attack by more violent means.
His enemies dare not make an onslaught on Mr. Stacpoole himself, for
reasons well known and thoroughly appreciated; so they clip the ears
of wretched hinds who are neither strong nor courageous enough to
resist their violence, which is just now only employed against the
defenceless; but such outrages are apparently quite sufficient to make
the power of the _Jacquerie_ absolute.

I am weary of hearing from panic-stricken interviewers that the "real
Government of Ireland is that of the Land League;" but the facts
adduced can hardly be passed over in silence. For the present,
creditors have only two courses to pursue--to accept Griffith's
valuation where they can get it, or to do nothing, await the action of
Parliament, and go without money for their Christmas bills. "Weak
holders," as they are called in the commercial world, must take what
they can get, and stronger capitalists may wait for better times; for
it is impossible to put the existing laws for the recovery of debt
into effect. Evictions are out of the question. Neither Dublin writs
nor "civil bills" can be served, except in a large town or its
immediate neighbourhood, and seizure of goods for a common debt in
country places is quite out of the question. The principal
process-server in the town of Tipperary has retired from service, and
addressed himself to "J.J." for several days past. That matters are
going from bad to worse is proved by the calibre of the persons who
are amply capable of paying their rent, but are afraid to do so. More
than this, those who have paid before they received notices are
threatened with pains and penalties if they do not join, publicly
approve of, and subscribe to the popular combination.

Startling cases have just occurred in Tipperary. A farmer paying a
very large rent even by English measure is leaving the country because
he is threatened by vengeance if he do not immediately take back a
labourer whom he dismissed for misconduct. Another large farmer is
informed that all his labourers will be compelled to leave his
employment unless he instantly joins the League. His farm includes a
large percentage of tillage, and he must either undergo heavy
pecuniary loss or submit, as he probably will do. A smaller tenant,
who had been discovered to have paid on account a trifle more than
Griffith's valuation, has been compelled to ask his landlord to give
him the little balance back and a receipt in full. The request was
acceded to, for the poor man declared that his life was not safe; that
nobody would speak to him, and that nobody would work for him until he
had righted himself with "the only Government which can carry its
decrees into effect."

The 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade has just arrived from Gibraltar, under
the command of Colonel Carr Glyn, and will remain, together with the
26th Regiment, under Colonel Carr, and three troops of the 3rd Dragoon
Guards, in Cork. The 37th Regiment leaves to make room for the Rifle
Brigade; three companies go to Waterford, and the remainder to
Kilkenny.



XVI.

A CRUISE IN A GROWLER.


CORK, _December 21._

Just before starting towards the scene of the last case of Boycotting
I had returned from a tour in Kerry, undertaken mainly with the object
of collecting facts and ideas concerning the fiercely-debated question
of peasant propriety. There are other great estates in Kerry besides
that of Lord Kenmare, which is twenty-six miles long, and covers
91,080 acres. There are Lord Lansdowne's still greater estate of
94,983 acres, and the large property held by Trinity College, both of
which have given rise to considerable controversy of late.

In many parts of Kerry may be found townlands vying in wretchedness
with Coshleen and Champolard, with Derryinver, Cleggan, and Omey
Island while others give abundant evidence of improvement and
enlightened management. On the north side of Dingle Bay lies the
estate of Lord Ventry, a popular landlord I am told, for the reason
that he has not "harassed his tenants" with improvements, nor sought
to wipe out the effect of the old middleman style of mismanagement by
reducing their number and forcing them to live in habitations better
perhaps than they care for. The crowding of people into a few
villages, brought about partly by the desire of middlemen to make a
profit, partly by electioneering schemes, and partly by the natural
gregariousness of the peasants, has been already too fully dwelt upon
to need repetition. What was done by landlords and middlemen in many
places has been emulated by squatters wherever they have succeeded in
occupying free land like the Commons of Ardfert, the condition whereof
rivals that of Lurgankeale, in Louth, and of the historic townland of
Tibarney, in common, a map of which hung, if I mistake not, for some
time in the Library of the House of Commons. This last-named spot
consisted of 164 statute acres, divided into 222 lots among eleven
tenants, who cultivated alternate ridges and patches in the same
field. Whether held by small tenants or landlords or of middlemen or
by small proprietors, the land was always in the same state of
confusion.

On portions of the Blennerhasset estate previously spoken of, and on
the Commons of Ardfert, the effect may be studied of influences
against which the modern Kerry landlord has been in many cases
striving for the whole of his lifetime. Half a century ago the advice
to "neither a borrower nor a lender be," was systematically ignored.
It is curious to hear that two eminent patriots of the period, Daniel
O'Connell and the Knight of Kerry, were both middlemen, and in the
case of Cahirciveen had one of the Blennerhassets as a co-middleman
under Trinity College, and that the compact was only finally annulled
by the resolution of the latter to have no more to do with it. The
great "Liberator" considered as a middleman appears in an odd light,
but he was a liberal specimen of the genus, and with his partners
supplied Cahirciveen with previously unheard-of drainage and pavement.
At the same time the ends of the Island of Valentia were leased by
Maurice Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry, the friend of Castlereagh and
Wellington, to other middlemen, and it seemed that the work of
confusion could go no further.

The Island of Valentia was, I was informed, a favourable spot on which
to study the operation of paternal government. Sir Peter Fitzgerald,
the late Knight of Kerry, had enjoyed unbounded popularity, and had
employed his personal influence to raise the population under his care
in the social scale. When he had retaken the lands leased to Sir James
O'Connell or his ancestor, he found certain lowlands, notably that of
Bally Hearny, among a number of small holders; but the patches held by
each tenant were oddly distributed. Three men held farms of thirty
acres each, made up of detached lots completely separate one from the
other, and scattered broadcast over the area of the townlands; while
another man's farm of the same area extended from the sea at one end
to the top of the mountain at the other, measuring one mile and
fourteen perches in length, with an average width of twenty perches.
After some difficulties had been surmounted the fields were "squared,"
the odds and ends of lands consolidated, and the partnership in
fields, with its absurd practice of cultivating alternate ridges,
abolished.

In a speech addressed by the Knight of Kerry to his tenants, he
distinctly put his foot down on the system of subdivision, to which
the peasantry of Ireland are almost insanely attached. He determined
to permit nothing of the kind in the future. To those who had already
subdivided he offered new mountain farms, leaving the sub-dividers to
decide who should remain and who should remove. To those removed for
sub-dividing their small holdings, and to those whose still smaller
patches made their removal imperative, reclaimed and reclaimable lands
at Corobeg and Bray Head were offered, with brand new houses; and
after much discussion and final casting of lots the extruded ones
resigned themselves to the fearful doom of removal from the spots to
which they had long clung like limpets.

To reach Valentia Island it is necessary to leave the railway track
from Mallow to Tralee, and at Killarney commence what in London
parlance might be called a cruise in a "growler;" for an unmistakable
"growler," well built and comfortably lined, was the vehicle supplied
to me as a "carriage," with a pair of excellent horses, by Spillane,
the sometime guide and present postingmaster of Killarney. The
postchaise assumes many forms in Ireland, but only once have I met the
original _coupé_ holding only two persons. It is a long drive to the
ferry at the extremity of the peninsula between the bays of Kenmare
and Dingle. Beyond, the Island of Valentia lies like a breakwater
against the Atlantic, and the scene at nightfall is strange enough,
with flashing lanterns, shouting ferrymen, and plashing oars. The
ferryman is far from considering Valentia Harbour as a drawback to the
island, and, like a fine old discontented retainer as he is, complains
bitterly of the attempt made years ago by the late Knight of Kerry to
establish a steam ferry. But ferrymen are always stern sticklers for
vested rights. Doubtless Charon claimed heavy compensation when the
Styx Ferry was disestablished. Apart from the ferryman, however, the
Valentians are by no means enamoured of their insular position. "That
ould blackgyard of a ferry" is, in fact, just now a serious item of
discontent.

It is urged by the islanders, nearly three thousand in number,
including the villagers, the quarrymen, and the staff of
telegraphists, presided over by the skilful and courteous Mr. Graves,
that the ferry is the cause of half their troubles. The peasants, who
sell their stock at the thirteen fairs held yearly at Cahirciveen,
declare that the cost of the ferry-boat for themselves and their
beasts is a substantial reason for the reduction of the rent, inasmuch
as they are put at a disadvantage with the people on the mainland.
This is not the only grievance of that section transplanted to the
hill side by Bray Head. They complain that they are afar off--a droll
objection on an island six miles long--and have given their settlement
the nickname of "Paris," in allusion to its remoteness from
Knightstown and the ferry which leads to the grogshops and Fenian
centres of Cahirciveen. I am told that the duty on the spirits sold in
that cheerful townlet exceeds the whole annual value of the barony of
Iveragh, and can bear witness to the convergence of the surrounding
population on market day.

Beside the grievances already enumerated, and only felt in their full
poignancy since the establishment of a branch of the Land League at
Cahirciveen, the Valentians now complain that their land is "set" too
high.

Amid the mass of conflicting evidence and the diverse methods of
calculation, it is very difficult to arrive at any conclusion on this
point. That the land is let above Griffith's valuation is certain, but
so is much more of the cheapest land in the west and south. Moreover,
the improvements made by the late Sir Peter Fitzgerald were not only
considerable in the way of draining and fencing, but are visible to
the naked eye in the shape of some fifty new houses, well and solidly
built of stone with slate roofs, sleeping rooms up stairs, properly
separated after the most approved fashion, a cowhouse, and other
offices required by the Board of Works. These houses, which contrast
remarkably with the old structures not yet improved off the face of
the island, accommodate half of Sir Maurice Fitzgerald's agricultural
tenants, of whom there are about 100 on his part of the island, as
well as eighty-eight cottier or labourer tenants, who work for the
farmers or at the slate quarry, and have little patches of ground
attached to their cabins. Each new house built out-and-out has cost
80l., and those put on existing foundations about 60l. It seems to me
wonderful that anybody should dream of building anything on the site
of an Irish peasant's hut, but perhaps I am fastidious. So far as I
make it out, about 6 per cent. has been charged for building and other
improvements to the tenant, whose rent has thus in one case been
raised by 2s. 6d., and in others by as much as 3s. 3d. per acre. As
the entire rent in one case reaches 8s., and in the other 10s. 9d. per
acre, it does not seem enormous; but it is no business of mine to
decide on value. I only state facts as distinctly as I can, and
whether the rent be light or heavy there is no doubt that the tenants
have paid it with some approach to regularity even up to date, and
that the local agitation is deprived of much of its effervescence
owing to this fact. Against this fair side of the picture is the
awkward truth that during the bad times of last winter the Valentians,
including the tenants of the Knight of Kerry and those of Trinity
College, received about 1,200l. worth of relief among a couple of
thousand souls.

It is equally worthy of remark that those tenants for whom new houses
have been built are by no means enthusiastic about them, and
apparently would rather save the rent of them and live in a rough
stone cabin as of old. I am aware that in making this statement I am
liable to a charge of prejudice against the ignorant people, of whom I
can only speak with pity not unmixed with kindness. I may be told that
pigs were thought to be dirty until people took to keeping them clean,
and that the animals are known to prefer their last state to their
first. I may also be told that filth is the outcome of poverty, and
that the Irish peasantry are filthy in their habits because they are
poor. Now, to speak out plainly, this is not true; for I have seen
people with a round sum on deposit at the bank, and in one case paying
as much as 250l. rent for their farms, living amid almost
indescribable filth. The dislike of soap and water, except for the
visible parts of the human body on high days and holidays, appears to
be part of the general indifference to beauty remarkable in the Irish
peasant. His cottage is never adorned with flowers. Neither rose,
honeysuckle, nor jasmine clings around his door. In a climate which
allows fuchsia hedges to grow and bloom luxuriantly none appear round
the peasant's garden. Myrtles, laurel, and bay there are in plenty at
Valentia, but they are grouped near the gigantic fuchsia bush at
Glanleam, or nestle among the houses of the telegraphic company. It is
the same in other places. All is unloveliness and squalor, even when
potatoes are plentiful and butter fetches a high price at Cork.

These thoughts were borne strongly in upon me during a visit to
"Paris." A drifting rain obscured the Skelligs, and drove me to take
shelter in a "Parisian" household. The house stood sound and square to
the wind with its slated roof and thick stone whitewashed walls,
whitewash being ordained by a Board of Works wildly striving for
cleanliness and health. The exterior of the house itself was well
enough, but alack for the approaches and the interior! Plunging
through mud I reached the door, and, glancing through the window,
descried the inevitable pig inside the kitchen. The people--to be just
to them--seemed a little fluttered, if not ashamed, of the plight in
which I found them. It was quite evident that since the new 80l. house
was built not a drop of water had been expended on its interior. The
wooden staircase leading to the bedrooms aloft was in such condition
that I shuddered to touch its sticky surface, the floor so filthy that
I instinctively gathered up the skirts of my overcoat, the bedsteads
filled up with blankets and odds and ends of unimaginable shades of
dirt colour.

Yet this apparently poverty-stricken home was already subdivided in
defiance of the conditions of tenancy. The eldest daughter had been
married some little time without the landlord or bailiff finding it
out, and there was the bridegroom established in half of the house and
endowed with half of the farm. He was at home too; a huge black-browed
fellow, doing nothing at all, after the manner of his kind. And this
was the outcome of an attempt to distribute the Valentians in holdings
of respectable size and to make them live in houses instead of hovels.
Two families were already established in the place of one, and the
house was already like unto a stye. The inhabitants, however, were
mighty civil when they recovered from their surprise, and spoke well
of their landlord and of everybody connected with him, especially of
the ladies of his family, who had done much to find paying employment
for the girls by getting them a market for knitted and other
needlework.

Pursuing my cruise in a Growler round the coast I came past some
magnificent scenery by Waterville, at the head of Ballinskelligs Bay
to Derrynane, once the abode of the "Liberator," and now occupied by
Mr. Daniel O'Connell, his grandson, who gave me a curious instance of
the profit to be realised on a dairy and grazing farm. He has leased
the island of Scariff from Lord Dunraven for 60l. per annum, has put a
dairyman upon it, and sells off of it yearly produce, butter, cattle,
sheep, wool, and pigs, to the value of 230l., the valuation of the
island, according to Griffith, being, including the dairyman's house
27l. 5s. Mr. O'Connell also gave me an odd proof of the retribution
which appears likely to fall upon the landowners of the barony of
Iveragh.

When the Government valuation was first made public it was protested
against by Sir James O'Connell, who succeeded in getting it reduced by
30 per cent., an unfortunate circumstance for the present proprietors
if the Land League continue to have it all their own way. The League,
however, has not yet troubled Derrynane; the tenants, who since 1841
have been greatly reduced in number by emigration and the
consolidation of holdings, have paid their rent fairly up to this,
that is to say fairly according to the usage of that remote part of
Kerry. They average "the grass of six cows," with the run of the
mountain, "for rather more" collops or young cows, not yet in milk.

Derrynane rejoices in many memorials of the Liberator, but the relic
of "Ould Dan" that all visitors, and especially Irishmen, are most
anxious to see, is in the oblong mahogany box lying on the tall desk
at which he was wont to stand and write. It is that article of
furniture without which no Irish gentleman's equipment was more
complete than his house without an avenue. "My pistols which I shot
Captain Marker," as poor Rawdon Crawley put it. There reposes
peacefully enough now by the side of its companion, the weapon with
which the "Liberator" shot Mr. D'Esterre. It is a flint lock pistol of
very large bore, and with stock reaching to the muzzle. One
peculiarity about this pistol is worthy of note. Beneath the trigger
guard a piece of steel extends curving downwards and outwards towards
the muzzle, a convenient device, as I find, for steadying the weapon
by aid of the second finger. On the stock is cut rudely a capital D.,
for D'Esterre. There are no other marks, although the pistols have a
pedigree and a story attached to them.

One day an English officer stationed in Ireland found himself in the
painful position of waiting for remittances. Knowing nobody likely to
be useful to him he appealed to the most noteworthy Irishman of his
day, and stating his pressing need, asked him to lend him 50l. until
his funds came to hand. Daniel O'Connell, who was a keen judge of
character, lent him the money without hesitation, and was shortly
repaid, with many expressions of gratitude. About a year afterwards
the Englishman was ordered on a foreign station, and, unwilling to
leave Ireland without giving some tangible expression of his
thankfulness to O'Connell, called upon him and presented him with the
duelling pistols in question, which were accepted as heartily as the
money was lent. On taking his leave the Englishman said, "If you
should ever have occasion to use these pistols you will find them very
good ones; they have already killed ten men." The first and only time
"Ould Dan" used them he killed Mr. D'Esterre, to whose family, it must
be added, he afterwards did all he could to atone for that injury.

Mr. O'Connell also showed me a brass blunderbuss once the property of
Robert Emmet. It has a revolving chamber, which, instead of turning
automatically, must be adjusted by hand after every shot, a curious
forerunner of Colt's invention, adaptation, or revival. Derrynane is
delightfully situated at a spot called appropriately "White Strand,"
from the silvery sand washed by the Atlantic waves. Above it stands
the celebrated circular fort of Staigue, built of dry stone, and with
an inclined plane inside like those at West Cove and Ballycarbery.
Opposite is the magnificent rocky peninsula of Lamb Head, the road
across which much resembles parts of St. Gothard, plus the magnificent
sea shining in the sun.

The crag of Lamb Head, broken into a thousand jagged slopes, is here
and there overgrown with short sweet herbage. Wherever grass grows
there will a Kerry calf or "collop" be found. How the pretty little
black cattle cling like flies to those dizzy windy heights is
marvellous; but there they are, night and day, for months at a
stretch, giving no trouble to anybody, growing into condition ready
for "finishing" on richer pasture, and giving life and beauty to a
scene which would, without them, be but grandly desolate. The little
Kerries are greatly prized as "milkers," and they yield good beef, but
very little of it--not more than four hundredweight per beast. By the
side of the superb shorthorns of the Ardfert herd they look like
goats; but such cattle as Mr. Crosbie's cream-coloured bull are only
suited to richer pasture than the rocks of Lamb Head. It may also be
added that for the purpose of dairy-farms the best commercial cows are
all bred between the rough native cattle and shorthorns, or between
Devon and Ayrshire, the latter cross being specially liked by Mr.
Hegarty, of Mill Street, county Cork, referred to in a previous
letter, and by many other good judges. This fact, however, by no means
detracts from the value of such a magnificent herd as that of Mr.
Crosbie. On the contrary it is held by many experts that first-class
shorthorn bulls are a necessity for preventing the cross-bred animals
from reverting to the original local type.

The improvement in cattle in Kerry, owing to the importation of
shorthorns by Mr. Crosbie, and in a smaller degree by other
proprietors, is very marked; but despite this the thoroughbred Kerry
still remains and is likely to remain lord of the mountain until
mayhap he be displaced by the smaller Scotch cattle, as he has already
been in some localities by the black-faced sheep, who leads an equally
hardy and independent life until wanted for "finishing."

From Derrynane the road passes along the coast, and through Sneem to
Derryquin, the estate of that typical landlord, Mr. F.C. Bland, beyond
whose lands lie those of Mr. Mahony, of Dromore, the apostle of
concrete and author of a pamphlet which has made a great noise in
Ireland, and is accepted by "improving" landlords as stating their
case perfectly. Mr. Bland, whose domain lies on the north side of the
embouchure of the Kenmare River, owns about thirty-eight square miles
of territory, and is one of the most popular men in Kerry.
Extraordinary stories are told of him. "Know 'um, begorra," answered a
native to my query, "Don't I know 'um; and it is he that's the good
man, your honour, and every man and baste will do anything for 'um,
and he has got tame lobsthers that sit up to be fed, and a tame salmon
that follows 'um about like a dog."

This, to say the least, appeared an ample statement; but I confess the
temptation to see the man who owned contented tenants and tame fish
was too strong to be overcome, and I therefore procured an
introduction to Mr. Bland, who with great modesty promised to show me
his improvements on condition that I would also look over those of
that arch improver his neighbour, Mr. Mahony. To appraise the real
value of the work done by these two gentlemen at Derryquin and
Dromore--a region of some eighty-five square miles altogether--it must
be understood that forty years ago this part of Kerry was, with the
exception of the main track to Cork, absolutely without roads, an
almost impassable tract of wild mountain and morass cut up by streams,
which when swollen stopped all communication even for foot passengers.
Yet it was inhabited by a considerable population paying rent,
sometimes, for the mountain farms, to which they carried their store
of meal on their backs.

It is said that the father of Mr. Bland went to his first school in a
pannier, a stone being put in the opposite one to steady the load on
the ass's back. This was the "good old-time," when few of the people
could speak English, none could read or write, all spun their wool and
made their bread at home, and none dreamed of opposing "the master's
will." Fortunately they were in good hands, for Mr. Bland went to
work, at first gently and afterwards more swiftly, at the task of
making land and people more civilised than had been thought possible
up to his time. During thirty years he has laid out 7,000l. of his own
and 10,000l. of Government money in bringing his estate and people
somewhat into consonance with modern ideas. He has made twenty-three
miles of road, built thirty stone houses with slated or tiled roofs,
and three schools. When the estate came into his hands there was not a
cart upon it except at Derryquin itself. Now two-thirds of the tenants
have carts and horses. Forty years ago the entire export and import
trade was done by a carrier who came from Cork once a month and was
looked for as anxiously as the periodical steamer at a station on the
West Coast of Africa. Now there are carriers weekly in all directions,
and steamboats calling regularly in Kenmare Bay. All this work has
been compassed by the landlord, with the partial assistance of the
Government, with the exception of one solitary house, which was built
by the tenant.

The story of Mr. Bland's tame fish, which "sat up, and followed him
about like a dog," turns out to have had some foundation in fact.
There is a fine pool of salt water at Derryquin (Ang. "Oakslope")
Castle, which stands on the edge of Kenmare Bay; and this pool not
long since held a number of tame fish, which came to be fed when
anybody approached, just as carp do in many well-known places.
Unluckily, however, a neighbouring otter found this out, and carried
away the unfortunate fish at the rate of two every night till not a
single fish is left. I hear that both salmon and pollock became
equally tame, but that the former, although eating everything offered
them, became miserably poor in a comparatively short time. The only
denizen of the pool that I actually saw was a lobster, who came out
from under a stone as I approached, in the hope, I was told, that I
was going to give him a mussel.

Mr. Bland, however, if he has not proved so redoubtable a fishtamer as
my original informant opined, has proved very successful in oyster
culture. Having a little salt-water inlet, with a river running into
it, he conceived the idea of breeding and raising oysters, but found
the climate bad for "spatting," and now buys his tiny young oysters by
the ten thousand at the Isle of Rhé, and puts them down in long
perforated boxes on his oyster beds. When they are between three and
four years old he consigns them to a correspondent at Ballyvaughan,
who puts them in, I believe, deep-sea oyster beds for a while and
converts them into the famous Burren oysters, which, like the Marenne
oysters, are generally preferred by Englishmen to "Natives," while the
"spat" of the latter is eagerly sought by the French for development
into Huitres d'Ostende.

It rained so furiously at Derryquin that I hardly saw so much of Mr.
Bland's estate as I could have wished, but between the showers I was
able to form a fair idea of his building and road improvement. It is a
matter of pride to the proprietor that on a territory once impassable
by a wheeled vehicle he can now drive to every farm in a carriage and
pair, and that among tenants averaging "the grass of six cows" apiece;
men and women at least speak English, and children go to school. The
barbarous state of the country and inhabitants forty years ago may be
gathered from the following anecdote. Two gentlemen were out shooting
on the mountain and were driven by a "Kerry shower"--which is as much
like a cataract as anything I know of--into a peasant's cabin. The man
received them with all the dignity and self-possession peculiar to the
best of his class, and when the storm cleared off invited them to eat
with him on their return from the hillside. When they came back,
expecting only potatoes and butter, they were astounded to see their
host take several pieces of some kind of meat out of the pot and place
them on the table, for there were no plates before them. It turned out
that the mysterious meat was that of a newly-born calf whose dam was
yet lying helpless in a corner of the cabin. The man was quite
unconscious that there was anything objectionable in the dreadful
food, and offered it to "the masthers" with perfect grace, and without
the slightest pang at the costliness of the banquet. He had given the
best and only meat he had to his guests. Like the Italian gentleman
with his falcon, or rather the Arab sheik with his horse, who, my
friend Mr. Browning tells me, is the original of Boccaccio's
mamby-pamby story, the Kerry mountaineer had fulfilled the rites of
hospitality at whatever cost. For long after the date of the grim
repast just recorded, in fact, even till to-day, the peasants on the
Derryquin estate have been accustomed to refer their almost
innumerable wrangles and squabbles to the decision of "the masther,"
who might be figured as a kind of Hibernian St. Louis, sitting under a
tree, and adjudicating between his subjects. Sometimes it was not very
easy to arrive at a decision. Not very long ago a man came with a
complaint that his once-intended son-in-law had behaved shabbily and
fraudulently. It appeared that the father of the girl had agreed with
the "boy" that a cow should be killed "to furnish forth the marriage
table;" that the father should provide the cow for the happy day, and
that the cost of the animal should be shared between them. The cow had
been killed, and the bride had been dressed, but the Kerry "county
Guy" had not been forthcoming, that mercenary youth having married out
of hand another girl with four more cows to her fortune than the one
he was engaged to. Hereat the outraged parent demanded, not that he
should pay damages for breach of promise, but his share of the cost of
the cow. "And," said the masther, "you had the cow and the daughter
thrown on your hands?" "Divil a throw, your honour," was the reply;
"mee daughter got another husband in tin minutes, begorra, and we ate
the cow, your honour; but Mike is a blackgyard, and should pay his
half of the cow, your honour." This was a knotty case, but his
"honour" decided that Mike should pay his share, and, to do that
fickle bridegroom justice, he paid up with very little demurring. He
was clearly three cows and a half the better by his bargain, and, I
believe, lives happily to this day. It is needless to say that he has
numerous children.

Mr. Bland has under his paternal rule about 300 agricultural tenants
besides the villagers of Sneem, who mostly have lots lying contiguous
to, or at some little distance from, their houses. The holdings,
albeit averaging the grass of six cows, vary very considerably in size
and quality. Thus one farmer holds 803 acres, or "the grass of
twenty-four cows," with mountain run attached, at a rent of 35l.,
while another who has 1,493 acres is only charged 26l. for "the grass
of seventeen cows," with proportionate mountain. Even on holdings of
this size, as well as on others of less value, such as 250 acres at a
rent of 13l. 15s., Mr. Bland has experienced great difficulty in
inducing the tenants to bear any share of the cost of building and
other improvements. Of course there are tenants and tenants at
Derryquin, as elsewhere, but the general feeling has undoubtedly been
averse to paying an extra percentage for improvements. Mr. Bland has
done what he could, but has rarely found anybody inclined to pay more
than 2 per cent., and one irreconcilable actually refused to pay 1l. a
year extra to have a 70l. house built for him. The "masther" appears
to take a view of the subject which might have been with great
advantage more widely distributed among Irish proprietors of the
improving sort. It is not extravagant to ask a farmer with the nominal
grass of twenty cows, and a mountain run on which he grazes twice as
many bullocks, to pay 5 per cent. on 80l. or 100l. as the rent of a
good and substantial house; but it is preposterous to ask the holder
of a ten-acre lot to do likewise. Such peasants should, as I observed
in one of my early letters, not be called farmers at all. Their
condition is about equal to that of the English farm labourer. When
the landlord can afford to build better cottages for them than they
now have, he should certainly not expect more than 1, or at best 2 per
cent. for his outlay, and carry the balance to his profit and loss
account, after the manner of English landowners of the best class. The
Derryquin houses or cottages are very well built and excellently
planned; they are also very pretty with their whitewashed walls, red
tile roofs, and doors painted red to match. These patches of bright
colour give extraordinary cheerfulness to a landscape otherwise of
green, brown, and grey, looking cold enough under a weeping sky. The
walls are of stone, "dashed" after the Irish fashion with mortar or
concrete, and slate roofs have now given place to red tiles in fancy
patterns. Inside they are divided into two rooms on the ground floor,
paved with concrete, and two sleeping rooms above, in order, if
possible, to keep the people from huddling together at night. It is a
fact, impossible as it may appear, that when the pretty and tasteful
lodge at the gate of Derryquin was first built, the occupants, four in
number, all slept together in one room rather than be separated at
night, and were only induced to occupy the apartments built to prevent
this habit by the threat of eviction. I might have doubted this
amazing story had I not seen the condition of a cottage rebuilt
recently on an old foundation at a cost of 60l., for which a rent of
1l. is charged. The tenant fought hard against the innovation, and
yielded to the imposition of 1l. a year, and a clean new house, only
under fear of being turned off the estate. He and his have only been
in the new building for a few weeks, but they have made wild work of
it already. In the room to the left of the door a "bonneva," or
half-grown pig of the size called a "shote," in the State of Georgia,
was disporting himself by looking on at a girl spinning wool, a "boy"
doing nothing, and two dirty youngsters wallowing on the floor. In the
other brand new room, not long since left sweet and tidy by the
builders, were piled an immense heap of turf and a great store of
potatoes, over against which stood a bedstead and a pair of boots.
There was nothing else in the room, not the slightest fragment of
table or chair, not a sign of water or washing utensils; in the room
above were also bedsteads, without anything that could be called
bedding, and no other stick of furniture. Before the front door was a
rough stone causeway, already ankle-deep in filth. Close up to the
rear of the house was a dung-heap of portentous size and savour.
Evidently this was a case of taking the horse to the water and being
unable to make him drink, for the people thrust into a clean house
were obviously doing their best to bring it into harmony with their
own views. I heard also of a remarkable case of subdivision on the
part of some labourers on Mr. Bland's estate, higher up on the
mountain. A couple or three years ago two "boys" received permission
to occupy a cabin on a little patch of land. This spot has since grown
into a colony. The "boys" have both got married, and have children.
Their brothers-in-law also, with wives and children, as a matter of
course, have built their cabins against the original one given to the
two bachelors, and the holding has a population of forty-five souls.
These poor people are surely the most affectionate in the world, and
the uproar when any one of the colony is ailing is astonishing, and
bewildering to more civilised and perhaps colder-blooded folk.

Mr. R. Mahony's estate of Dromore (_Anglice_ "Big Ridge") is the
theatre of even more extensive improvements than those of Derryquin.
Mr. Mahony has 29,163 acres in Kerry, valued by Griffith at 3,071l.
In his pamphlet he states:--"In the year 1851 I came into possession
of my estate. Old rentals in my possession show that for many years
previous to that date there had been allowances made to tenants at the
rate of about 1,000l. per annum. Yet when I took up the estate there
was not one drain made by a tenant, not one slated house, not a perch
of road, not a yard of sub-soiled land. I then adopted the system of
making all improvements myself, charging interest of the outlay upon
the occupier according to the circumstances and increased value of the
farm. The result has been that in five-and-twenty years I have built
about eighty houses and offices slated or tiled, made twenty-eight
miles of road, built nine bridges, made twenty-three miles of fences,
thoroughly drained about five hundred acres, planted one hundred and
fifty acres of waste land, and proportionately improved the condition
and circumstances of the people."

There is abundant evidence of Mr. Mahony's work on his estate, which
is not only valuable in itself but as an example. The roads are
admirably laid, and the employment of concrete made of Portland cement
and the sand and pebbles of the seashore, since followed at Ardfert,
was initiated at Dromore. Walls, floors, partitions, are all of
concrete, and the roofs of the houses last built of handsome red
tiles. The disposition of the apartments in the Dromore cottages
varies somewhat from that of the neighbouring estate. The principal
room, or kitchen, has nothing above it but the high-pitched roof,
lined with wood tastefully disposed. The remaining three apartments
are two on the ground floor, a tiny parlour and convenient bedroom,
and one full-sized bedroom above. Separate cow-houses and pigsties are
also appended to each cottage. So far as can be judged from a hurried
visit, many of the houses are very well and tidily kept; in fact, so
treated as not to destroy hope in the future of the Irish peasant
cultivator, although this trimness is by no means so general as it
might be. Mr. Mahony has also, by way of showing his people how things
should be done, a model farm and dairy, of such moderate size as not
to be beyond the ambition of a successful tenant. The proprietor has
also, like Mr. Bland and Mr. Butler, of Waterville, a successful
salmon fishery, great part of the produce whereof goes, at some little
advance on sixpence per pound, to the agents of a London firm, who
also get an enormous supply of mushrooms from county Kerry.

There is a greatly-improved property in county Cork, lying west of
Macroom and south of Mill Street. This is Ballyvourney, one of the
estates of Sir George St. John Colthurst, of Ardrum, whose father laid
out an immense sum in reclaiming a portion of the 25,000 acres, which
bring him in about 5,000l. per annum.

There are other landlords in the counties of Cork and Kerry who, like
Mr. Bence Jones, have done well by their land; but there is no
occasion to multiply experiences of a similar character. The purpose
of my Kerry excursion was to observe the Kerry peasant when he had
been left to himself, and where he had been looked after, and perhaps
governed, by a landlord whose interest in him had not been diminished
by recent legislation. My impression is very much the same as that
produced by my visit to Connemara, that the peasant requires firm as
well as gentle handling, and that his emancipation from the control of
his landlord should be accompanied by some other authority
representing the State, and interfering to prevent the tendency to
local congestion of population.

The Kerry peasant's qualities are in the main good, and he is upheld
under difficulties by hopefulness almost equal to his vanity and habit
of exaggeration. A Kerry man's boat is a ship, his cabin is a house,
his shrubs are trees, his "boreen" is an avenue, and, as a native bard
declares, "all his hens are paycocks." He may be briefly described as
in morals correct, disposition kindly, manners excellent, customs
filthy. It is, however, despite his hopefulness, difficult to find any
trace of that gaiety for which he was formerly famous, whether justly
or not. His amusements outside the calm of Derrynane, Derryquin, and
Dromore, appear to be cattle fairs, whisky, and sedition. At times he
is unconsciously humorous, as in the story of the Duchess of
Marlborough's Indian meal distributed for the relief of the poor
during the hard time of last winter. A gentleman, who ought to know
better, was buying some potheen, or illicit whisky, of the maker.
"Now, Pat," said he, "I hope this lot is better than the last." "And,
your honour," was the reply, "the last was but the name of whisky.
Begorra, it's the Duchess's meal as makes mighty poor potheen." This
was said quite seriously and with an injured air. For there is no
merriment in Kerry. The old dances at the cross roads are danced no
more. The pipe of the piper is played out.



XVII.

"BOYCOTTED" AT CHRISTMASTIDE.


KILFINANE, CO. LIMERICK, _Christmas Eve._

The fox-terrier sits blinking on the hearth-rug in the pretty
drawing-room as nightfall approaches, and a servant appears with a
message that a woman has come with a big cake from Mrs. O'Blank, a
sympathising neighbour. There is no mistake about the size and
condition of the cake; it is a yard and a quarter in circumference; it
has a shining holiday face, like that of the fabled pigs who ran about
ready roasted, covered with delicately-browned "crackling," perfumed
with sage and onions, and carrying huge bowls of apple-sauce in their
mouths. As the pigs cried, "Come and eat me," so does the cake appeal,
but in more subtle manner, to the instincts and nostrils of all
present. It has that pleasant scent with it peculiar to newly-baked
plumcake. Huge plums, which have worked their way perseveringly to the
surface, wink invitingly, and, above all, the cake is hot, gloriously
hot, besides having with it a delicate zest of contraband acquired by
being smuggled on to the premises under Biddy M'Carthy's shawl.

Biddy has watched the moment when the "boys" on the watch--scowling
ruffians by the same token--had gone in quest of tea or more potent
refreshment, and has slipped from the avenue which runs past the house
instead of up to it, by the lodge gate and up to the door in that
spirit-like fashion peculiar to this part of Ireland. When they wish
to do so, the people appear to spring out of the ground. Two minutes
before the monotony of existence is broken by a fight there will not
be a soul to be seen, but no sooner is it discovered that some unlucky
wight is in present receipt of a "big bating" than hundreds appear on
the spot, and struggle for a "vacancy," like the lame piper who howled
for the same at the "murthering" of a bailiff.

This ghost-like faculty, however, has served us right well, for I need
not speculate upon what would have happened to Mrs. M'Carthy (whose
real name is not given for obvious reasons) if she had been discovered
carrying a huge cake to a house under ban. She would not have been
injured bodily; no soul in Kilfinane would have touched the cake, much
less have eaten the hateful food made and baked and attempted to be
carried to the stronghold of the "tyrant"; but it would have gone ill
with the brave little woman nevertheless. Her husband would have been
compelled to seek elsewhere for a livelihood, for neither farmer nor
tradesman would dare to employ either him or her. Her elder children
would have been pointed at as they went to school, and sent to
Coventry while there; and she would have been refused milk for the
younger ones. Not a potato nor a pound of meal nor an egg could she
have bought all through the hamlet; and if people at a distance had
sold her anything, they would have been intercepted and compelled to
take it back again. The carriers would not have delivered to or taken
parcels from her; she would, in fact, have been very much in the
condition that Eve, according to Lord Byron, thought she could put
Cain into by cursing him.

Fortunately, however, the cake-bearer has escaped, and we fall with
keen appetites upon the not very digestible banquet she has provided.
The blockade has been successfully run, and we celebrate the event
accordingly. We are not so very badly off after all, and in fact have
passed a by no means dull time for the last two days. It is not quite
so easy to frighten our garrison as a pack of sympathising peasants
who attempt no kind of resistance against the mysterious leaders of
the _Jacquerie_. The son of the house and his two grown cousins are
here, the butler and gardener still remain staunch, as well as the
coachman and a couple of bailiffs living outside, all "Boycotted"
also. Moreover, we have a cook and housemaid with us, and two members
of the Royal Constabulary. We have busy times, too. So far as
turkeys, geese, chickens, and eggs, butter and bacon are concerned, we
have enough and to spare within protecting range of rifle and
revolver, but for fresh beef and mutton and flour we must depend upon
Cork. Now the mysterious agent in Cork who sends us the supplies
cannot get them carried nearer to the house than the railway station
at Kilmallock, the interesting little town at which one of the county
members keeps the inn and "runs" the cars, a fact whereof the citizens
are not a little proud. When we receive the news, letter or telegram,
announcing that meat or other stores will arrive by a certain train,
we drive down to meet it, and without the slightest assistance, for
not a single gloomy by-stander would do us a hand's turn, we carry it
off to our own car, and thanks to the awe inspired by army revolvers,
Winchester rifles, one constable on the car, and those officially at
the railway station, bring our property away.

A day since there was great excitement concerning the arrival of a
daughter of the house, who was coming down to keep house for the
"boys" whose guest I am. Her brother and one of her cousins went down
on the car to meet her, armed as usual, for although they would be
comparatively safe with a lady on the car, they ran considerable risk
until she was actually on board. The train came, but not the young
lady, and as it was broad daylight her well-armed escort came back
again. Towards the hour for the arrival of the evening train there was
more anxiety. It was dark, but it was absolutely necessary to go down
to Kilmallock again, on the off chance that she might have come later
than was expected, and had forgotten to telegraph. If she had arrived
and nobody had been there to meet her, the consequences would have
been awkward. She would not, it is true, have been exposed to the
slightest insult, for except in the case of Miss Gardiner, of
Farmhill, I believe Irishmen have never forgotten their natural
gallantry so much as to insult, much less shoot at and wound, a lady.
There would, therefore, have been no fear of violence; but it is very
doubtful whether anybody would have removed her trunks from the spot
on which they had been laid down. Most assuredly no cardriver would
have dared to drive her home, and I question if any house in
Kilmallock would have afforded her shelter. However, she did not come
by the train after all, and the "boys" drove back, not without an
Irish howl to keep them company on the road.

Dinner over, the company being composed of the three "boys" and the
writer, who among them made short work of a plump turkey and a
vigorous inroad on a round of beef, besides disposing of soups,
sweets, and sherry--not a bad _menu_ under "Boycotting" rules--we,
after seeing that the front door was properly barred, bolted, and
chained, and the iron-linked shutters, relics of the Fenian time, made
equally secure, adjourned to the kitchen for a smoke, a common
practice in this part of Ireland. The kitchen, with its red-tiled
floor, is a capital smoking room, warm and cosy, and while tobacco is
leisurely puffed, and that eternal subject, "the state of the
country," discussed, the eye reposes complacently on the treasures
suspended from the hooks on the ceiling, plump hams and sides of
well-fed bacon giving assurance that the garrison is far from being
reduced to extremities. But there are in the kitchen other objects
less suggestive of festivity. On the round table by the central column
supporting the kitchen roof lie sundry revolvers, and nearer one of
the windows a couple of repeating rifles and the double-barrelled
carbines of the constabulary. Two members of that well-grown and well
set-up corps are seated at a corner of the dresser, deeply engrossed
in the intricacies of the mysterious game of forty-five, before which
the mind of the dull Saxon remains bewildered in hopeless incapacity.
Presently the well-thumbed pack is laid aside, and one of the
constables addresses himself to the task of closing and barring up the
shutters, thus shutting out all chance of any present being picked off
by a shot through the window, as was done when Miss Gardiner was
wounded under somewhat similar circumstances.

There is a great deal of gossip concerning the "Boycotting" of Mr.
Bence Jones, and that of the most recent victim, The Macgillicuddy of
the Reeks, whose family is well known to all present; but even the one
engrossing subject wears itself out at last. One cannot attain any
wild pitch of hilarity among bolts and bars and Winchester rifles.
Nobody appears to care for any stories but such as bear upon the
present troubles and the Fenian affair in 1867. At Kilmallock there is
no sign of song or dance; no talk of pantomimes, and what jokes are
made bear grim reference to troubles actually endured and possible
troubles to come.

By day it is by no means dreary. To begin with, the house is built on
a charming spot six miles distant from a railway station; in front and
beyond the lawn is a pretty little lake broken up by islands, making a
tender foreground for the Galtee and nearer mountains. From the
opposite side the view is equally delightful, the hills being crowned
with trees and brushwood, an unusual sight in Ireland. Down the slope
of the immense saddle-backed range lie fields of the brightest green,
divided by banks and hedges delightful to look at after the grim stone
walls of Mayo, Galway, and Clare. From behind these grassy slopes
peeps the purple crest of the distant mountains, giving grandeur to a
scene which might otherwise have been deemed tame. The climate,
although chilled by recent heavy rains, is deliciously soft, and the
breeze has none of that incisive quality common to the more northern
hills. It is needless to say that at sunrise there is no chance of
meeting any watchers of the "Boycotting" brigade. At seven o'clock any
quantity of cargo might be "run" into the beleaguered citadel; but so
for that matter can anything one likes be done at noon, under
sufficient escort. When nothing is to be carried there is not the
slightest occasion for escort in Kilfinane itself, although the
attitude of the people is hostile in the extreme. Going for a stroll
with the nephew of the absent "master," I am recommended to put a
pistol in my pocket, and, much against the grain, do so.

I must confess that I draw a line at agents. Alone I should not dream
of going about armed, although "indignation meetings" have been held
to denounce me for speaking the truth and believing my own eyes, and I
consider myself quite safe while in the company of many landlords. But
agents are another matter. There is while with them always the off
chance of something untoward turning up, and it is, perhaps, as well
to be prepared for emergencies. Personally I must confess that I am
favourably disposed towards the much vilified agents. They are in many
respects the most manly men in Ireland. Nearly always well-bred, they
excite sympathy by the position they hold between the upper and nether
millstone of landlord and tenant. Perhaps they have made a good thing
of it, but if so they have earned it, for their position always
reminds one of that assigned by Lord Macaulay to the officers of the
East India Company, such as Olive and Warren Hastings. To these
founders of our Eastern Empire "John Company" said, "Respect treaties;
keep faith with native rulers; do not oppress the people; but send us
money."

This is exactly what easy-going Irish absentee proprietors
preach--"Don't hurt my tenants; don't make my name to stink in the
land; above all, let there be no evictions among my people; but send
me a couple of thousand pounds before Monday, or remit me at least one
thousand to Nice some time next week.--Yours, The O'Martingale." This,
I take it, has been the situation for the last quarter of a century,
since the younger sons of Irish families took to land agency as a
profession because there seemed nothing else in Ireland for them to
do. Nevertheless they are hideously unpopular, and I like to be armed
when I take a stroll with them in a lonely country district.

So we walk down to Kilfinane to look after the progress made in
arranging quarters for the soldiers presently expected, some fifty odd
redcoats or rifles as the authorities may decide. It is instructive to
observe the demeanour of the people towards us. My companion formerly
lived at Kilfinane, and took his share of the work there, but he was
the first of his family "Boycotted," and was obliged to take up his
quarters in his uncle's house. Not a blacksmith could be found to
shoe his horse, and not a living creature to cook his food; so a forge
belonging to the mounted division of the Royal Irish Constabulary was
sent down for the horse, and the master of that interesting animal
went up to the big house to eat and sleep, and the "Boycotters" were,
so far, brought to nought. But the good folk of Kilfinane eye us
terribly askant, or, to be more literally exact, do not eye us at all;
at least, their eyes betray "no speculation." Had I driven in from
Charleville alone I might have gossipped with all the idlers of the
village, but now that I am walking with a "Boycotted" person I seem to
have become invisible. A few men are on the side walks--a few women at
their doors--but they either look at us as if we were transparent as
panes of glass, or suddenly become interested in their boots or finger
nails, both which would be better for more regular attention. The
children run away and hide themselves as if a brace of megalosauri or
other happily extinct monsters had crawled out of the bog and come
into Kilfinane to look for a meal. It is altogether a strange
experience. It dawns upon me that the man who has driven me over from
Charleville might issue from the hotel and ask for my orders, but he
does not.

The edifice wherein he has established himself, his vehicle and
horses, is of a bright salmon colour, rejoiceful to the eyes of the
natives. My driver, on being asked at my arrival, greatly preferred
the rude freedom and plenty of this pink hostelry to the supposed
narrow rations of a house under ban. Possibly he loves the ruddy-faced
village inn on account of its affinity in hue to that of his own
visage, in which nose and beard contend fiercely for pre-eminence in
warmth of tone. But be this as it may, he is just now giving warmth
and colour to the interior of the establishment, instead of trying to
catch my eye as I go past.

There is absolutely no sign of life or movement in the "Salmon Arms,"
or "The Rose," or whatever its name may be. Thus we stride down the
street of Kilfinane in lonely grandeur till we come to the
schoolmaster's house, to be presently converted with the schools into
a barrack. Schoolmaster and wife are being temporarily evicted to make
room for the military, in whose behalf a quantity of work is being
done, not surely by the "Boycotters," who have already determined to
"Boycott" the soldiers as far as they can by refusing to let a car
carry a single article from the railway station. The military when
they arrive and give that sense of security attached to a redcoat in
Ireland, will be obliged to bring every kind of vehicle and transport
animal with them.

In the cabbage garden of the school-house I meet an old acquaintance,
Sub-Inspector Fraser, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who seems to
enjoy a monopoly of posts in which the roughest kind of "constabulary
duty is to be done." Whether he esteems his "lot a happy one" I do
not know; but at any rate, he looks hearty and healthy enough upon it,
and is mightily cheerful withal. He has finished off one tough job,
for it was Mr. Fraser who was left at Pallas on the great day when
horse, foot, and artillery smote the combined "Three and four year
olds," or, rather, would have smitten them if they had been so
misguided as to show fight. I have already recorded how the Palladians
on that memorable occasion displayed a keen appreciation of the better
part of valour, and I also marked my surprise that after it had taken
"the fut and the dthragoons in shquadrons and plathoons," and "the
boys who fear no noise" to boot, to bring the "makings" of a police
hut from the railway station, where they lay "Boycotted," to Bourke's
farm, twenty-five constables should have been judged a sufficiently
imposing force to overawe the Palladians and to build the hut. But I
hear that Mr. Fraser's slender army proved quite sufficient for its
purpose, and that the hut is not only built, but very well built, and
likely to vex the souls of the Palladians for some time to come. There
is plenty of work to do in getting ready for the soldiers. Masons and
carpenters are hard at work--that is to say, as hard as anybody ever
works in this part of Ireland.

On the dairy farms, which form the principal "industry"--save the
mark!--of this rich part of the country, the life of the male kind is
of the laziest imaginable. Employing girls to milk the cows and make
the butter, the farmer appears to me to do nothing whatever except go
to market and drink himself into a disaffected, discontented
condition. He is rarely visible before ten or eleven o'clock in the
morning, except on market days, and he appears to smoke and dawdle
most of his time away. Just now he broods over his wrongs, and
declares he "will have his own again," whatever that may signify. He
says he is enormously over-rented. Perhaps he is; but I cannot forget
that it is not many years since he and his neighbours in the adjacent
county of Tipperary boasted that they had brought about an equitable
adjustment of values by an ingenious process invented by
themselves--that of "shooting down the rents." Have they gone up since
under maleficent Saxon coercion? Verily, I do not know; for the faith
I put in estimates and valuations, not excepting "The Book of
Griffith," is but small.

Information in Ireland depends entirely on the person who
"infawrrrums" one, and is rarely complete. Almost everybody seems to
think that an inquirer has some object to serve, and they either tell
him what they think will amuse him or advance their own interest if it
be repeated; but there are notable exceptions to this as to all other
Irish rules.

Chatting easily, we stroll back through Kilfinane, bewailing the
sternness of military rule, which keeps officers and men together, and
will not permit of the principal coming warriors being quartered at
Spa-hill. On one point we are most anxious, and that is, that the
troops shall be in Kilfinane by Christmas-day, to the end that the
gaiety proper to the British Army should enliven the "Boycotted"
establishment at dinner time; while the imposing presence of Thomas
Atkins should overawe the village mutineers, and bring grist to the
proprietor of the Couleur de Rose Hotel. As evening gathers in we sit
down drowsily to listen to the loud ticking of the clock and drink a
glass of sherry to the health of "all poor and distressed Boycottees"
within her Majesty's "sometime kingdom of Ireland." Soothed by sherry,
incipient sleep, and the subtle influence of the season, the little
garrison of Spa-hill gradually waxes benevolent, until one of its
number actually suggests that a fat goose should be sent to the
proximate cause of all its woes, Father Sheehy. Even as a big loaf of
bread was once thrown into an enemy's camp, at one moment this
spirited proposition is nearly carried, but it breaks down before the
remark that the coachman, gardener, and two bailiffs are "Boycotted,"
bringing up the total number to about thirty-six, and that geese would
be better distributed among these than flung away on the enemy; and
the clock goes on to tick, the ticking growing louder and louder, and
then comes the harsh, grating sound of shooting bolts and the clank
of the chain on the front door.

There is some pretence on the part of one of my young hosts of going
into his uncle's office and drawing a lease, until he is reminded that
he will probably be performing a work of supererogation, that leases
and feudalism and property are going out of date, and that the land
agents of the future, if suffered to cumber the earth at all, will be
elected by the tenants, as the New York magistrates are elected by the
persons whom they will be called upon to judge. And the clock ticks
and the fox-terrier whines in his sleep. He is dreaming of rats,
perhaps. It is pleasant to dream, even if one is a dog.

A sudden start. The long-looked-for telegram has come announcing the
arrival of the daughter of the house shortly at Kilmallock Station.
There is another skirmish for rifles, rugs, and revolvers, and a sally
out of the fortress. No sooner has the brave young lady arrived, who
with her brother and cousin, and perhaps the representatives of the
British army, will form the Christmas dinner-party, than she draws up
a bill of fare, which includes, as well as turkey, ham, and plum
pudding, lobsters brought from afar, thanks to feminine foresight. The
retainers will feast on mighty joints of beef and on plum pudding
galore. And now another telegram--The troops will arrive before the
bells ring in Christmas-day.

As I approach the end of my letter, it occurs to me that although the
place, events, and persons described would be recognised by anybody
living in the counties of Limerick, Cork, or Tipperary, this account
might appear to English readers rather as an imaginative and
highly-coloured picture, painted for the Christmas market from a
number of models, than as a simple sketch in neutral greys as exactly
and faithfully drawn as is possible to the writer. To prevent any such
misapprehension, I will observe that the events which I describe as
occurring before me, have all taken place within forty-eight hours in
and near the house of Mr. Townsend, of Spa-hill, Kilfinane, county
Limerick, and are telegraphed from Limerick city to the _Daily News_,
because there was no nearer or more convenient office from which to
send so long a message. Mr. Uniacke Townsend is one of a large family
mostly engaged in land agency, and has incurred the ire of the people
of Kilfinane, Kilmallock, Charleville, and the surrounding country, in
consequence of a difficulty with one Murphy, a fairly large farmer
according to the Irish measure of farming capacity. Murphy's farm is
known as Lisheen. It includes between 40 and 50 acres, and the rent,
240l. per annum, has, I am informed, not been changed for forty-six
years. When Murphy owed a clear year's rent and a balance on a "broken
gale," he was sued for the whole amount. By May of this year he owed
another gale of half a year's rent, and he was formally evicted and a
caretaker put in possession on the 21st June.

It has been explained in a previous letter that after receiving any
amount of credit an Irish farmer is again allowed six months'
"redemption" after eviction. After paying up everything, including the
additional "gale" incurred, less the proceeds of the farm, he
re-enters on possession at any time within the margin of six months.
Thus another "gale" fell due in November, and Murphy was still
unprovided with funds. He did, however, very well without them; for
the Land League, having become strong in the meanwhile in county
Limerick, the caretaker was frightened away from the farm and Murphy
reinstated. Mr. Uniacke Townsend requested him to give up possession,
and was refused, and it then became known that Murphy might expect
imprisonment or fine for trespass. Thereat a meeting was held, and Mr.
Townsend solemnly adjudged worthy of "Boycotting." The lead in these
disgraceful proceedings was taken by a Father Sheehy.

Whatever the merits of Murphy's case may be, and it seems that members
of his family have held Lisheen for some considerable time, there is
no doubt that Father Sheehy made an almost frantic speech against Mr.
Townsend, the agent, and Mr. Coote, the owner of the property,
declaring that "the very name of Coote smelt of blood." I am not aware
of the sanguinary deeds of the Cootes in the past; all I know of them
is that the present incumbent is a very old man, of somewhat clerical
exterior, who, like "A fine old Irish gentleman, one of the olden
time," lives in London, requests his agent to enforce the law against
his tenants without delay, and, in order to encourage him to do his
duty, sends down to Spa-hill the very best repeating rifles that money
can buy.

The upshot of the matter is that Mr. Townsend has been so threatened
that he has yielded to the entreaties of his family and left Kilfinane
for a week or two, at any rate. He is, however, like most of his
profession, a very determined man, and declared that he would come
home and eat his Christmas dinner in his own house, "despite of foes;"
but Mrs. Townsend, who, like the lady to whom I referred in a previous
letter, has borne up nobly under her severe trial, was so scared at
the thought of her husband's coming among a population banded together
against him that she set off on Saturday and joined him, as the only
way of averting some terrible disaster; for there is little doubt that
the law will be put in force against Murphy now that his six months
for "redemption" have expired; and nobody can tell what will happen at
Lisheen any more than at Ennistymon if writs are issued against the
tenants on the Macnamara estate, or on Mr. Stacpoole's property, if he
perseveres in his resolution to "Dublin writ" the people with whom he
has to deal.

So the family at Spa-hill is broken up this Christmas; father and
mother are both away--where I should hardly divulge, but assuredly
where their Christmastide will be passed peacefully, if not joyfully.

Another gentleman of these parts is being severely "Boycotted," to wit
Mr. T. Sanders, of Sanders Park, Charleville, county Cork, just over
the border from county Limerick; the Mr. Sanders, in fact, whom I saw
the Palladians roaring and yelling at on the occasion of my first
visit to the classic battlefield of the "three and four year olds." On
that occasion he had been vainly trying to get in rents for the
charitable bequest known as Erasmus Smith's Schools, and Pallas was
full of noisy and more or less drunken Palladians, who dealt with Mr.
Sanders in such wise that the police were obliged to see him into a
railway carriage, and stand by the door till the train moved on. I
would fain have called upon Mr. Sanders as I drove to Charleville, but
the civil and obliging landlord of Lincoln's Hotel at that place, who
supplied me with an excellent carriage and horses, politely apologised
for his inability to drive me thither. He could not possibly enter
Sanders Park, nor would any of his men go near that abhorred spot. No
orders concerning Spa-hill had been issued by the "Real Government" in
the absence of the hated head of the house, and I might be driven
there and welcome; but Sanders Park was another matter. I might walk
out of the town, and across the park if I liked, and my informant
would ensure that I went and returned in safety, as for that matter I
knew very well; but not being fond of walking against time through the
mud, I preferred going whither I could be driven in comfort. Moreover,
the novelty of the thing is wearing off, and "Boycotting" is now only
interesting when ingeniously evaded or boldly defied.

So long as a railway station is near him, the "Boycottee," if he have
only two or three servants to stand firm, can practically bring the
Boycotters to their wits' end. The railway companies being, I take it,
common carriers, dare not refuse, like the cowardly shippers of Cork,
to take the "Boycottee's" beef and plum pudding, wine and whisky, to
the most convenient railway station, whence he, if well-armed and
provided with an escort of constabulary, can bring in his supplies
under the very nose of the infuriated peasants who stand scowling
around the station gate and roar and "boo" their disgust at being
foiled. There is not the slightest fear of the "Boycotters" running
their heads against Winchester rifles and army revolvers, and the
convoy need apprehend nothing hotter or harder than curses and groans,
which, "like the idle wind, hurt not the mariner ashore."

This last quotation had the misfortune to displease one of my young
hosts, who opined that he thought, on the contrary, we were all at
sea in Ireland just now, and breakers were ahead. Perhaps he is over
much of an alarmist, but his present situation is hardly calculated to
inspire confidence in anything but conical bullets and cold steel. As
we stand together on the doorstep, he remarks that it will be long
before Christmas _à la_ Boycott is forgotten in Ireland, and then he
wishes me the compliments of the season. "Good bye," and "Safe
home"--hateful valediction! I wish him and his a happier new year than
the old one has been; but it would be a sorry jest to wish a merry
Christmas to one whose greatest happiness and consolation are that at
this time of gathered kindred, at the feast which comes but once a
year for the re-knitting of the ties of domestic affection, the kindly
voice of the house-mother is not heard beneath her own roof tree; that
the chair of the house-father stands empty at the Christmas board.



XVIII.

CHRISTMAS IN COUNTY CLARE.


ENNIS, _Monday._

In a picture exhibited a few years ago, and since engraved, was
powerfully and pathetically portrayed a scene of the early life of the
Pilgrim Fathers of New England. It was winter time, and the day was
Sunday. Clad in raiment of quaint severity, the head of the house led
his Puritan family and servants across the snow-clad fields to
worship. Living in the midst of a hostile population, the little band
of worshippers was armed to the teeth. The father carried his "plain
falling band" and steeple-crowned hat with a stiff air, and also
carried lethal weapons. His prim wife and daughters bare Bibles, and
his serving men, muskets. "Like a servant of the Lord, With his Bible
and his sword," the unflinching old soldier of the Commonwealth strode
manfully from his homestead to his religious duties, not unprepared to
deal with any foes who might turn up by the way.

As a glimpse of the remote past, as well as a work of art, this
picture struck me as valuable; but it certainly did not occur to me
that a similar sight would be seen within a short space in the kingdom
of Ireland. Nevertheless, it may be witnessed on any Sunday in county
Clare. Near Tulla, a spot of evil repute just now as the theatre of a
recent attack upon magistrates returning from doing their duty,
Colonel O'Callaghan, his wife and son, may be seen on any Sunday
morning going to church armed with rifle and revolver, and protected
by an escort of constabulary. The church is a long walk from Lismeehan
(_Anglice_, Maryfort), and the way is not safe either for Colonel
O'Callaghan himself, his wife, his child, or anything that is his.

I will not pretend for what are called "sensational" purposes that the
stranger who ventures within the gates of Maryfort is in any danger so
long as he remains within them, or that any weightier missiles than
groans and hisses are launched at him as he goes to and from the house
under "taboo." It is well known that an attack on Lismeehan would not
be bloodless, and that the defence would be far fiercer and more
deadly than that made at the Clare-street Police Barrack at Limerick.
The little garrison is perfectly armed, and small as it is, would work
mischief on any attacking mob; but the experience at Tulla the other
day proves that safety is only purchased at the trouble and
inconvenience of going everywhere armed to the teeth.

After my experience in the matter of Mr. Sanders, of Sanders Park,
Charleville, I did not think it worth while to go to a posting-house
for a carriage and horses to reach Maryfort; but being fortunate
enough to obtain the loan of a friend's victoria and servant I got a
horse "sharpened" as to his shoes at Ennis; and drove over the
frost-bound road to Colonel O'Callaghan's house yesterday afternoon.
It was a long drive to the most severely "Boycotted" house in Clare.
It was also a drive of surpassing dreariness. The sun, which had made
the hoar frost to sparkle on Christmas Day, barely pierced through the
clouds on the afternoon of St. Stephen's. Leaving trim lawns, a forest
of box-trees, budding roses and peonies, well-grown early brocoli and
York cabbages behind, we drove through a country of eternal little
fields and grey stone walls.

It is needless to say that Maryfort is a long way from Ennis. Every
place is a long way from everywhere in this western part of Ireland--a
fact, by the way, not unfrequently forgotten by critics of the
much-criticised constabulary. Where gentlemen's houses and
considerable villages are as much as fifteen miles apart, the area of
country to be watched becomes quite unmanageable. Only those who have
incurred the fearful loss of time in getting from place to place in
Connaught can form an adequate idea of it. Despite the discouraging
remarks of its critics, this well-drilled, well-grown corps of Royal
Irish Constabulary remains as staunch and loyal as of old, but it is
absurd to expect impossibilities. Galway to a person sitting
comfortably in his own library appears to be overwhelmed with
constables. I believe that there is, in fact, one constable to every
fifty adult males in that county--an enormous proportion judged
statistically, but yet slight enough when the vast area of the county
and the miles of actual desert which separate one partially civilised
spot from another are considered.

A large percentage of the constabulary is also deflected from general
to special service in affording downright personal protection, and
that modified protection known as "looking after" individuals. A
hundred and twenty persons in Ireland are now receiving "personal
protection," amounting to the constant attendance of never less than
two constables, frequently to the residence of four or more on the
premises or the property. At least eight hundred persons are being
"looked after;" so that it is no exaggeration to state that twelve or
thirteen hundred men are detached from the regular force on particular
duty of the most harassing and vexatious kind. Wherever the person
under protection chooses to go, at whatever hour, or in whatever
weather, his "escort" must accompany him; for their orders are "not to
lose sight of him" outside of his own door. This is a troublesome
duty, sometimes greatly aggravated by the conduct of the protected
persons, who take sudden fits and starts, and fly hither and thither
in the oddest kind of way. The constables get no rest; they are
perpetually harassed and exposed, and they are quite superior to the
consolation of a "tip."

I say this deliberately, for on three several occasions I tried to
give a drenched and half-frozen constable a reward for service
rendered, not for information to be given, and on each and every
occasion I met with a dignified refusal, accompanied by one man with a
friendly caution not to attempt that sort of thing, as some of the men
might be rough. I say that I did not ask for information, because I
generally knew more than the constables, for the excellent reason that
I had wider and better sources to draw upon. From the country folk it
is absolutely impossible to glean any scrap of information. A question
immediately shapes their countenances into a look of hopeless
simplicity and guilelessness bordering upon idiocy. Persons in quest
of information in the remote parts of Ireland put me in mind of the
hunter of the Rocky Mountains, who, while he was trying to stalk some
antelope, became aware that a grizzly bear was stalking him. The
people find out all about the person seeking for knowledge, but he
discovers nothing.

After this it is needless to say that the constabulary must of
necessity be the last people to learn anything from the country folk,
and that a London detective would be as much out of his element as "a
salmon on a gravel walk."

Between Ennis and Maryfort we only met two brace of constables on the
road, but we knew there were others with Mr. Hall, of Cluny, at Tulla,
and other places within ten miles of Colonel O'Callaghan's house.
There was a little gathering of people near the chapel at Bearfield,
but in other respects the road was empty till we neared our
destination, when a little crowd set up an Irish howl against us,
followed by a shout of "Long live Parnell." Presently we came to
Lismeehan gates, opened after a good steady look at us by an ancient
retainer, in a grey frieze coat. I was told civilly enough that "the
masther" was at home. Beyond a pretty park, full of well-bred cattle,
lay the "Boycotted" house, tall and grey and grim, in the waning
light. There was no sign of life in it. Under a handsome portico was
the grand entrance, bolted and barred up, with shutters closed. There
was nothing for it but to tug vigorously at the bell. Nobody came to
the door, but around each corner of the house stepped an armed
constable. A moment later a narrow slip of the shutter was moved, and
we became aware first of a fur cap and then of a youthful face, which
ultimately proved to be that of Colonel O'Callaghan's eldest son, home
for the holidays from a great English school, and undergoing the
"hardening" process of spending Christmas in a state of siege.

Presently came a maidservant, neat and trim, and after some wrestling
with bolts the outer door was opened a little way, and our names and
business demanded, after which we entered a great hall, apparently
used as a refectory. Huge logs blazed on the hearth, and the room
looked comfortable enough. We were next ushered into the drawing-room
of Colonel O'Callaghan, who had just come in from herding his cattle
and sheep, and was still girt with a brace of full-sized revolvers.

No whit dismayed by the attack made on him at Tulla, and holding his
foes in very slight estimation, Colonel O'Callaghan is yet subjected
to inconvenience and oppression of an extraordinary kind. The
proximate cause of his being "Boycotted" was his action is serving
four processes himself, because neither love nor money nor threats
would induce a process-server to do his work. The country folk know
quite well the difference between Land League law and the phantom
which remains of the law of the land. The former is instantly
enforced, the latter cannot be carried into effect at all, a fact
which is telling upon its officers with discouraging effect.

Finding his writs could be served by nobody but himself, Colonel
O'Callaghan started early one morning, attended by his escort, served
the four writs himself, and then prepared to hold his own. Pigs were
killed, barrels of flour and other stores were brought in, and the
house provisioned to stand a siege. Recollection of old days in the
Crimea, when Colonel O'Callaghan was in the 62nd Regiment, were
revived under the provisioning process, which was by no means complete
when he was formally "Boycotted," and left with 300 cattle and sheep
upon his hands, with only one man to help him to look after them.
Thirty odd herds, labourers, and other dependents have left Maryfort.
Only three maid-servants, the old man at the gate, and another man now
remain, and even the housemaid, who is Irish and a Roman Catholic,
must be guarded to and from mass, amid the yells of the natives. It
must be remembered that Maryfort is a lonely place, three miles from a
post-office, and three times that distance from a railway station;
that it is no light matter to send in and out for letters and parcels;
and the emissary would, if unarmed, assuredly be stopped, if not
maltreated. This difficulty of getting letters and fresh joints has
been met in the latter case by falling back upon patriarchal customs.
As Colonel O'Callaghan can neither sell his sheep nor buy mutton, he
has taken to consuming his flock, albeit a sheep is a large animal to
kill in a small family, and but for the winter weather the loss would
be very great.

There is another annoyance--the risk of valuable cattle being houghed
or otherwise mutilated; a risk calling for incessant watchfulness.
That it is not of an imaginary nature is demonstrated by the fact that
the tails were cut off of two of Mrs. Westropp's cows a few nights
since, and a threatening letter, savagely coarse and brutal in its
wording, was sent to that lady. There is no doubt about this, for I
have seen the letter, in which reference is made to the cows and
brutal treatment promised to Mrs. Westropp, a widow of small property.

The difficulty concerning letters, which it seems the postmaster at
Callaghan's Mills is not compelled to deliver at Maryfort, is got over
in another way. As we are discussing the question of supply, there
enters to us a lady dressed in walking costume of studied simplicity.
This is the terrible Mrs. O'Callaghan, of whom I had heard wonderful
stories in Clare and Limerick; "And begorra," said one informant,
"it's herself that's a divil of a lady entoirely, and she shoots
rabbuts wid a rifle at three hundred yards and niver misses, and she
tould 'um at the village that she'd as soon shoot one of 'um as a
rabbut, and she is the sisther of Misthress Dick Stacpoole, of
Edenvale. They was the Miss Westropps, your honour, out of county
Limerick, and it is thim as makes their husbands the tyrants that they
are." This account made me wonder at two things--firstly, at the
astounding power of lying and exaggeration displayed by my
interlocutor; and secondly, where the old Irish gallantry towards the
fair sex has gone to. It seems to have gone very far, for one hears
now of ladies being shot at. But, although not impressed with the
truth of the information vouchsafed to me, I expected to see at least
an Irish version of Lady Macbeth, instead of the graceful,
well-dressed, thorough-bred Irish gentlewoman who had just come from a
long walk to the post-office and back. Since the boy who used to carry
the letter bag was frightened away, Mrs. O'Callaghan has taken up his
duties, and, armed with rifle and revolver, performs them daily.

With the case of Miss Ellard, and other ladies, before my eyes, I
cannot blame Mrs. O'Callaghan for going about armed, and maintaining a
defiant attitude towards the people, who really go in bodily fear of
her. There is, as I have observed, nothing to terrify in the look or
voice of Mrs. O'Callaghan, but I gradually gather from her
conversation that it is not all romance about her wonderful shooting.
If not at three hundred, yet at thirty yards she can hit a rabbit
cleverly enough, and actually does go out rabbit shooting "for the
pot" to relieve the monotony of everlasting pig and sheep. Mrs.
O'Callaghan is also nearly as good a shot with the revolver as her
husband, and would certainly not hesitate to use that weapon in
self-defence.

Such is the present _personnel_ of Maryfort at this moment, affording
a sketch of manners reminding one rather of a Huguenot family in
southern France just after receiving the news of St. Bartholomew, than
of any social condition extant in modern Europe.

As we drive out into the darkness and heavily-falling snow there is
some debate touching the lighting of the carriage lamps. It is thought
better not to light up, and to keep firearms handy until we get some
miles from Maryfort.

A howl pierces through the darkness as we pass a clump of houses, and
I remark that my friend's coachman drives very fast by any house on
the road; but nothing occurs till we stop at a "shebeen" to light both
cigars and lamps, for the snowstorm is increasing. Not desiring
refreshment, I give the woman of the house a shilling for a drink for
a man who is sitting by the fire. I explain the nature of the
transaction to him, and wish him a happy new year. The sulky brute
answers me never a word. Probably he knows or suspects where I have
been, and if so would let me lie on the ground under a kicking horse
till an end was made of me rather than stretch forth a hand. He will
not speak now, and I observe that the woman, who has kept a tight hold
on the shilling, has not poured out any whisky, although she has had
the decency to ask me if I wished for any. It is a strange sight, this
sullen silent savage sitting scowling over the fire; but _on se fait à
tout_ in Disturbed Ireland.



LONDON: R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS.


MESSRS. MACMILLAN & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

NEW BOOKS ON IRELAND.


  NEW VIEWS ON IRELAND, OR IRISH LAND GRIEVANCES AND REMEDIES. By
    CHARLES RUSSELL, Q.C., M.P. Crown 8vo, cloth. 2s. 6d.

  "They should be studied by every one who desires to understand the
  existing crisis in Ireland."--SPECTATOR.

  "Mr. Russell has undoubtedly done his best by careful observation
  to arrive at the prevalent evils and their causes, and he has
  honestly and sincerely propounded his remedial scheme. His work is
  worthy of careful perusal."--EXAMINER.


  THE LIFE'S WORK IN IRELAND OF A LANDLORD WHO TRIED TO DO HIS
    DUTY. By W. BENCE JONES, of Lisselan. Crown 8vo. 6s.

  "Mr. Bence Jones has written an interesting and instructive book,
  but not the least enlightening part of it is the preface. This is
  dated the 12th of December, 1880. He had just been threatened with
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  "Mr. Bence Jones, every one must own, has a fair claim to be
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  affairs till he has read his really valuable book."--LITERARY
  WORLD.


  THE IRISH LAND LAWS. By ALEXANDER G. RICHEY, Q.C.; LL.D., Deputy
    Regius Professor of Feudal and English Law in the University of
    Dublin. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d.

  "To all who, either as legislators or publicists, are called on to
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  "This book cannot fail to do good ... Mr. Richey writes throughout
  fairly, and in no partisan or controversial spirit, and his book
  is a contribution of great value to the discussion in which we now
  find ourselves involved."--ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE.


  THE IRISH CRISIS, being a Narrative of the Measures for the
    Relief of the Distress caused by the Great Irish Famine of
    1846--47. By SIR CHARLES TREVELYAN, Bart., K.C.B. 8vo. Price
    2s. 6d.

  THE LAND-WAR IN IRELAND: A HISTORY FOR THE TIMES. By JAMES GODKIN,
    Author of "Ireland and Her Churches," late Irish Correspondent
    of the _Times_. Demy 8vo. 12s.

MACMILLAN AND CO., LONDON.



MESSRS. MACMILLAN & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS.

BY THE RIGHT HON. HENRY FAWCETT, M.P.

  THE ECONOMIC POSITION OF THE BRITISH LABOURER. Extra fcap. 8vo.
    5s.

  SPEECHES ON SOME CURRENT POLITICAL QUESTIONS. 8vo. 10s. 6d.

  CONTENTS:--Indian Finance--The Birmingham League--Nine Hours
  Bill--Election Expenses--Women's Suffrage--Household Suffrage in
  Counties--Irish University Education, &c.

  FREE TRADE and PROTECTION. An Inquiry into the Causes which have
    retarded the general adoption of Free Trade since its
    Introduction into England. Third Edition. 8vo. 7s. 6d.


BY W.T. THORNTON, C.B.

LATE SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC WORKS IN THE INDIA OFFICE.

  A PLEA for PEASANT PROPRIETORS, with the Outlines of a Plan for
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MACMILLAN AND CO., LONDON.

       *       *       *       *       *


  [Illustration: (foldout Map of Ireland, showing author's route.)]

  [Illustration: (foldout detail map of western Ireland, showing author's route.)]


       *       *       *       *       *

    +--------------------------------------------------------------+
    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                      |
    |                                                              |
    | Page  14: escert replaced with escort                        |
    | Page  24: similiar replaced with similar                     |
    | Page  44: licence replaced with license                      |
    | Page  75: 'kings men' replaced with 'king's men'             |
    | Page 149: posssble replaced with possible                    |
    | Page 218: 'he split upon it' replaced with                   |
    |           'be split upon it'                                 |
    |                                                              |
    +--------------------------------------------------------------+

       *       *       *       *       *





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