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Title: About Ireland
Author: Linton, E. Lynn
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "About Ireland" ***







I am conscious that I ought to make some kind of apology for rushing
into print on a subject which I do not half know. But I do know just a
little more than I did when I was an ardent Home Ruler, influenced by
the seductive charm of sentiment and abstract principle only; and I
think that perhaps the process by which my own blindness has been
couched may help to clear the vision of others who see as I did. All
of us lay-folk are obliged to follow the leaders of those schools in
politics, science, or religion, to which our temperament and mental
idiosyncracies affiliate us. Life is not long enough for us to examine
from the beginning upwards all the questions in which we are
interested; and it is only by chance that we find ourselves set face
to face with the first principles and elemental facts of a cause to
which, perhaps, as blind and believing followers of our leaders, we
have committed ourselves with the ardour of conviction and the
intemperance of ignorance. In this matter of Ireland I believed in the
accusations of brutality, injustice, and general insolence of tyranny
from modern landlords to existing tenants, so constantly made by the
Home Rulers and their organs; and, shocking though the undeniable
crimes committed by the Campaigners were, they seemed to me the tragic
results of that kind of despair which seizes on men who, goaded to
madness by oppression, are reduced to masked murder as their sole
means of defence--and as, after all, but a sadly natural retaliation.
I knew nothing really of Lord Ashbourne's Act; and what I thought I
knew was, that it was more a blind than honest legislation, and did no
vital good. I thought that Home Rule would set all things straight,
and that the National Sentiment was one which ought to find practical
expression. I rejoiced over every election that took away one seat
from the Unionists and added another vote to the Home Rulers; and I
shut my eyes to the dismemberment of our glorious Empire and the
certainty of civil war in Ireland, should the Home Rule demanded by
the Parnellites and advocated by the Gladstonians become an
accomplished fact. In a word I committed the mistakes inevitable to
all who take feeling and conviction rather than fact and knowledge for
their guides.

Then I went to Ireland; and the scales fell from my eyes. I saw for
myself; heard facts I had never known before; and was consequently
enlightened as to the true meaning of the agitation and the real
condition of the people in their relation to politics, their
landlords, and the Plan of Campaign.

The outcome of this visit was two papers which were written for the
_New Review_--with the editor of whom, however, I stood somewhat in
the position of Balaam with Balak, when, called on to curse the
Israelites, he was forced by a superior power to bless them. So I with
the Unionists. The first paper was sent and passed, but it was delayed
by editorial difficulties through the critical months of the
bye-elections. When published in the December number, owing to the
exigencies of space, the backbone--namely the extracts from the Land
Acts, now included in this re-publication--was taken out of it, and my
own unsupported statements alone were left. I was sorry for this, as
it cut the ground from under my feet and left me in the position of
one of those mere impressionists who have already sufficiently
darkened counsel and obscured the truth of things. As the same
editorial difficulties and exigencies of space would doubtless delay
the second paper, like the first, I resolved, by the courteous
permission of the editor, to enlarge and publish both in a pamphlet
for which I alone should be responsible, and which would bind no
editor to even the semblance of endorsement.

I, only half-enlightened, write, as has been said, for the wholly
blind and ignorantly ardent who, as I did, accept sentiment for fact
and feeling for demonstration; who do not look at the solid legal
basis on which the present Government is dealing with the Irish
question; who believe all that the Home Rulers say, and nothing that
the Unionists demonstrate. I want them to study the plain and
indisputable facts of legislation as I have done, when I think they
must come to the same conclusions as those which have forced
themselves on my own mind--namely, that the Home Rule desired by the
Parnellites is not only a delusive impossibility, but is also high
treason against the integrity of the Empire, and would be a base
surrender of our obligations to the Irish Loyalists; that, whatever
the landlords were, they are now more sinned against than sinning;
and that in the orderly operation of the Land Acts now in force, with
the stern repression of outrages[A] and punishment of crimes, for
which peaceable folk are so largely indebted to Mr. Balfour, lies the
true pacification of this distressed and troubled country.




Nothing dies so hard as prejudice, unless it be sentiment. Indeed,
prejudice and sentiment are but different manifestations of the same
principle by which men pronounce on things according to individual
feeling, independent of facts and free from the restraint of positive
knowledge. And on nothing in modern times has so much sentiment been
lavished as on the Irish question; nowhere has so much passionately
generous, but at the same time so much absolutely ignorant,
partisanship been displayed as by English sympathisers with the Irish
peasant. This is scarcely to be wondered at. The picture of a gallant
nation ground under the heel of an iron despotism--of an industrious
and virtuous peasantry rackrented, despoiled, brutalised, and scarce
able to live by their labour that they may supply the vicious wants of
oppressive landlords--of unarmed men, together with women and little
children, ruthlessly bludgeoned by a brutal police, or shot by a
bloodthirsty soldiery for no greater offence than verbal protests
against illegal evictions--of a handful of ardent patriots ready to
undergo imprisonment and contumely in their struggle against one of
the strongest nations in the world for only so much political freedom
as is granted to-day by despots themselves--such a picture as this is
calculated to excite the sympathies of all generous souls. And it has
done so in England, where "Home Rule" and "Justice to Ireland" have
become the rallying cries of one section of the Liberal party, to the
disruption and political suicide of the whole body; and where the less
knowledge imported into the question the more fervid the advocacy and
the louder the demand.

It is worth while to state quite quietly and quite plainly how things
stand at this present moment. There is no need for hysterics on the
one side or the other; and to amend one's views by the testimony of
facts is not a dishonest turning of one's coat--if confession of that
amendment is a little like the white sheet and lighted taper of a
penitent. Things are, or they are not. If they are, as will be set
down, the inference is plain to anyone not hopelessly blinded by
preconceived prejudice. If they are not, let them be authoritatively
contradicted on the basis of fact, not sentiment--demonstration, not
assertion. In any case it is a gain to obtain material for a truer
judgment than heretofore, and thus to be rid of certain mental films
by which colours are blurred and perspective is distorted.

No one wishes to palliate the crimes of which England has been guilty
in Ireland. Her hand has been heavy, her whip one of braided
scorpions, her rule emphatically of blood and iron. But all this is of
the past, and the pendulum, not only of public feeling but of legal
enactment, threatens to swing too far on the other side. What has been
done cannot be undone, but it will not be repeated. We shall never
send over another Cromwell nor yet another Castlereagh; and there is
as little good to be got from chafing over past wrongs as there is in
lamenting past glories. Malachi and his collar of gold--the ancient
kings who led forth the Red Branch Knights--State persecution of the
Catholics--rack-rents and unjust evictions, are all alike swept away
into the limbo of things dead and done with. What Ireland has to deal
with now are the enactments and facts of the day, and to shake off the
incubus of retrospection, as a strong man awaking would get rid of a

Nowhere in Europe, nor yet in the United States, are tenant-farmers so
well protected by law as in Ireland; nor is it the fault of England if
the Acts passed for their benefit have been rendered ineffectual by
the agitators who have preferred fighting to orderly development. So
long ago as 1860 a Bill was passed providing that no tenant should be
evicted for non-payment of rent unless one year's rent in arrear.
(Landlord and Tenant Act, 1860, sec. 52.) Even then, when evicted, he
could recover possession within six months by payment of the amount
due; when the landlord had to pay him the amount of any profit he had
made out of the lands in the interim. The landlord had to pay half the
poor rate of the Government Valuation if a holding was £4 or upward,
and all the poor rate if it was under £4. By the Act of 1870 "a yearly
tenant disturbed in his holding by the act of the landlord, for causes
other than non-payment of rent, and the Government Valuation of whose
holding does not exceed £100 per annum, must be paid by his landlord
not only full compensation for all improvements made by himself or his
predecessors, such as unexhausted manures, permanent buildings, and
reclamation of waste lands, but also as compensation for disturbance,
a sum of money which may amount to seven years' rent." (Land Act of
1870, secs. 1, 2, and 3.) Under the Act of 1881 the landlord's power
of disturbance was practically abolished--but I think I have read
somewhere that even of late years, and with the ballot, certain
landlords in England have threatened their tenants with "disturbance"
without compensation if their votes were not given to the right
colour--while in Ireland, even when evicted for non-payment of rent, a
yearly tenant must be paid by his landlord "compensation for all
improvements, such as unexhausted manures, permanent buildings, and
reclamation of waste land." (Sec. 4.) And when his rent does not
exceed £15 he must be paid in addition "a sum of money which may
amount to seven years' rent if the court decides that the rent is
exorbitant." (Secs. 3 and 9.) (_a_) Until the contrary is proved, the
improvements are presumed to have been made by the tenants. (Sec. 5.)
(_b_) The tenant can make his claim for compensation immediately on
notice to quit being served, and cannot be evicted until the
compensation is paid. (Secs. 16 and 21.) A yearly tenant when
voluntarily surrendering his farm must either be paid by the landlord
(_a_) compensation for all his improvements, or (_b_) be permitted to
sell his improvements to an incoming tenant. (Sec. 4.) In all new
tenancies the landlord must pay half the county or Grand Jury Cess if
the valuation is £4 or upward and the whole of the same Cess if the
value does not exceed £4. (Secs. 65 and 66.) Thus we have under the
Land Act of 1870 (i) Full payment for all improvements; (2)
Compensation for disturbance.

The famous Land Act of 1881 gave three additional privileges, (1)
Fixity of tenure, by which the tenant remains in possession of the
land for ever, subject to periodic revision of the rent. (Land Act,
1881, sec. 8.) If the tenant has not had a fair rent fixed, and his
landlord proceeds to evict him for non-payment of rent, he can apply
to the court to fix the fair rent, and meantime the eviction
proceedings will be restrained by the court. (Sec. 13.) (2) Fair rent,
by which any yearly tenant may apply to the Land Commission Court (the
judges of which were appointed under Mr. Gladstone's Administration)
to fix the fair rent of his holding. The application is referred to
three persons, one of whom is a lawyer, and the other two inspect and
value the farm. _This rent can never again_ be raised by the landlord.
(Sec. 8.) (3) Free sale, by which every yearly tenant may, whether he
has had a fair rent fixed or not, sell his tenancy to the highest
bidder whenever he desires to leave. (Sec. 1.) (_a_) There is no
practical limit to the price he may sell for, and twenty times the
amount of the annual rent has frequently been obtained in every
province of Ireland. (_b_) Even if a tenant be evicted, he has the
right either to redeem at any time within three months, _or to sell
his tenancy within the same period to a purchaser who can likewise
redeem_ and thus acquire all the privileges of a tenant. (Sec. 13.)

Even more important than this is the Land Purchase Act of 1885,
commonly called Lord Ashbourne's Act, by which the whole land in
Ireland is potentially put into the hands of the farmers, and of the
working of which much will have to be said before these papers end.
This Act, in its sections 2, 3, and 4, sets forth this position,
briefly stated: If a tenant wishes to buy his holding, and arranges
with his landlord as to terms, he can change his position from that of
a perpetual rent-payer into that of the payer of an annuity,
terminable at the end of forty-nine years--the Government supplying
him with the entire purchase-money, to be repaid during those
forty-nine years at 4 per cent. This annual payment of £4 for every
£100 borrowed covers both principal and interest. Thus, if a tenant,
already paying a statutory rent of £50, agrees to buy from his
landlord at twenty years' purchase (or £1,000) the Government will
lend him the money, his rent will at once cease, and he will not pay
£50, but £40, yearly for forty-nine years, and then become the owner
of his holding, free of rent. It is hardly necessary to point out
that, as these forty-nine years of payment roll by, the interest of
the tenant in his holding increases rapidly in value. (Land Purchase
Act, 1885, secs. 2, 3, and 4.)

Under the Land Act of 1887, the tenants received the following still
greater and always one-sided privileges, (i) By this Act leases are
allowed to be broken by the tenant, but not by the landlord. All
leaseholders whose leases would expire within ninety-nine years after
the passing of the Act have the option of going into court and getting
their contracts broken and a judicial rent fixed. No equivalent power
is given to the landlords. (Land Act of 1887, secs, 1 and 2.) (2) The
Act varies rent already judicially fixed for fifteen years by the
Land Courts in the years 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, and 1885. (Sec. 29.)
(3) It stays evictions, and allows rent to be paid by instalments. In
the case of tenants whose valuation does not exceed £50, the court
before which proceedings are being taken for the recovery of _any_
debt due by the tenant is empowered to stay his eviction, and may give
him liberty to pay his creditors by instalments, and can extend the
time for such payment as it thinks proper. (Land Act of 1887, sec.

By these extracts, which do not exhaust the whole of the privileges
granted to the Irish tenant, it may be seen how exceptionally he has
been favoured. Nowhere else has such wholesale interference with the
obligations of contract, such lavish protection of the tenant, such
practical persecution of the landlord been as yet demanded by the
one-half of the nation; nor, if demanded, would such partiality have
been conceded by the other half. Yet, in the face of these various
Acts, and all they embody, provide for, and deny, our hysterical
journal _par excellence_ is not ashamed to publish a wild letter from
one of those ramping political women who screech like peacocks before
rain, setting forth how Ireland could be redeemed by the manufacture
of blackberry jam, were it not for the infamous landlords who would at
once raise the rent on those tenants who, by industry, had improved
their condition. And a Dublin paper asserts that anything will be
fiction which demonstrates that "Ireland is not the home of
rackrenters, brutal batonmen, and heartless evictors"; while political
agitation is still being carried on by any means that come handiest,
and the eviction of tenants who owe five or six years' rent, and will
not pay even one to clear off old scores, is treated as an act of
brutality for which no quarter should be given. If we were to transfer
the whole method of procedure to our own lands and houses in England,
perhaps the thing would wear a different aspect from that which it
wears now, when surrounded by a halo of false sentiment and convenient

The total want of honesty, of desire for the right thing in this
no-rent agitation, is exemplified by the following fact:--When Colonel
Vandeleur's tenants--owing several years' rent, refused to pay
anything, and joined the Plan of Campaign, arbitration was suggested,
and Sir Charles Russell was accepted by the landlord as arbitrator. As
every one knows, Sir Charles is an Irishman, a Catholic, and the
"tenants' friend." His award was, as might have been expected, most
liberal towards them. Here is the result:--"We learn that the
non-fulfilment by a number of the tenants of the terms of the award
made by Sir C. Russell is likely to lead to serious difficulties. They
refuse to carry out the undertaking which was given on their behalf,
having so much bettered the instruction given to them that they insist
upon holding a grip of the rent, and not yielding to even the advice
of their friends. About thirty of them have not paid the year's rent,
which all the Plan of Campaign tenants were to have paid when the
award was made known to them. This is the most conspicuous instance in
which arbitration has been tried, and the result is not encouraging,
although landlords have been denounced for not at once accepting it
instead of seeking to enforce their legal rights by the tribunal
appointed by the Legislature."

With a legal machinery of relief so comprehensive and so favourable to
the tenant, it would seem that the Plan of Campaign, with its cruel
and murderous accompaniments, was scarcely needed. If anyone was
aggrieved, the courts were open to him; and we have only to read the
list of reduced rents to see how those courts protected the tenant and
bore heavily on the landlord. Also, it would seem to persons of
ordinary morality that it would have been more manly and more honest
to pay the rents due to the proprietor than to cast the money into the
chest of the Plan of Campaign--that _boite à Pierrette_ which, like
the sieve of the Danaïdes, can never be filled. The Home Rule
agitators have known how to make it appear that they, and they alone,
stand between the people and oppression. They have ignored all this
orderly legal machinery; and their English sympathisers have not
remembered it. Nor have those English sympathisers considered the
significant fact that this agitation is literally the bread of life to
those who have created and still maintain it. Many of the Home Rule
Irish Members of Parliament have risen from the lowest ranks of
society--from the barefooted peasantry, where their nearest relations
are still to be found--into the outward condition of gentlemen living
in comparative affluence. It is not being uncharitable, nor going
behind motives, to ask, _Cui bono?_ For whose advantage is a certain
movement carried on?--especially for whose advantage is this anti-rent
movement in Ireland? For the good of the tenants who, under the
pressure put on them by those whom they have agreed to follow, refuse
to pay even a fraction of rent hitherto paid to the full, and who are,
in consequence, evicted from their farms and deprived of their means
of subsistence?--or is it for the good of a handful of men who live by
and on the agitation they created and still keep up? Do the leaders of
any movement whatsoever give a thought to the individual lives
sacrificed to the success of the cause? As little as the general
regrets the individuals of the rank and file in the battalions he
hurls against the enemy. The ruined homes and blighted lives of the
thousands who have listened, believed, been coerced to their own
despair, have been no more than the numbers of the rank and file to
the general who hoped to gain the day by his battalions.[B] The good
in this no-rent movement is reaped by the agitators alone; and for
them alone have the chestnuts been pulled out of the fire.
Furthermore, whose hands among the prominent leaders are free from the
reflected stain of blood-money? These leaders have counselled a course
of action which has been marked all along the line by outrage and
murder; and they have lived well and amassed wealth by the course they
have counselled.

From proletariats in their own persons they have become men of
substance and property. These assertions are facts to which names and
amounts can be given; and that question, _Cui bono_? answers itself.
The inference to be drawn is too grave to be set aside; and to plead
"charitable judgment" is to plead imbecility.

The plain and simple truth is--the protective legislation that was so
sorely needed for the peasantry is fast degenerating into injustice
and oppression against the landlords. Thousands of the smaller
landowners have been absolutely beggared; the larger holders have been
as ruthlessly ruined. For, while the rents were lowered, the charges
on the land, made on the larger basis, were kept to their same value;
and the fate of the landlord was sealed. Between the hammer and the
anvil as he was and is placed, his times have not been pleasant.
Families who have bought their estates on the faith of Government
sales and Government contracts, and families who have owned theirs for
centuries and lived on them, winter and summer--who have been neither
absentees nor rack-renters, but have been friendly, hospitable,
open-handed after their kind, always ready to give comforts and
medicine to the sick and a good-natured measure of relief to the hard
pressed--they have now been brought to the ground; and between our own
fluid and unstable legislation and the reckless cruelty of the Plan of
Campaign their destruction has been complete. Wherever one goes one
finds great houses shut up or let for a few summer months to strangers
who care nothing for the place and less than nothing for the people.
One cannot call this a gain, look at it as one will. Nor do the
tenantry themselves feel it to be a gain. Get their confidence and you
will find that they all regret the loss of their own--those jovial,
frank, and kindly proprietors who did the best they knew, though
perhaps, judged by present scientific knowledge that best was not very
good, but who at least knew more than themselves. Carrying the thing
home to England, we should scarcely say that our country places would
be the better for the exodus of all the educated and refined and
well-to-do families, with the peasantry and an unmarried clergyman
left sole masters of the situation.

In the desire of Parliament to do justice to the Irish peasant, whose
condition did once so loudly demand amelioration, justice to the
landlord has gone by the board. For we cannot call it justice to make
him alone suffer. His rents have been reduced from 25 to 30 per cent.
and over, but all the rent charges, mortgages, debts and dues have
been retained at their full value. The scheme of reduction does not
pass beyond the tiller of the soil, and the landlord is the sole

Beyond this he suffers from the want of finality in legislation.
Nothing is left to prove itself, and the tinkering never ends. A
fifteen years' bargain under the first Land Act is broken up under the
next as if Governmental pledges were lovers' vows. When, on the faith
of those pledges, a landlord borrowed money from the Board of Works
for the improvement of his estate, for stone cottages for his
tenantry, for fences, drainage, and the like, suddenly his income is
still further reduced; but the interest he has to pay for the loan
contracted on the broader basis remains the same. Which is a kind of
thing on all fours with the plan of locking up a debtor so that he
cannot work at his trade, while ordering him to pay so much weekly
from earnings which the law itself prevents his making.

If the sum of misery remains constant in Ireland, its distribution has
changed hands. The small deposits in the savings-banks have increased
to an enormous extent, and in many places where the tenants have for
some years refused to pay their rents, but have still kept the land,
the women have learned to dress. But the owners of the land--say that
they are ladies with no man in the family--have wanted bread, and have
been kept from starvation only by surreptitious supplies delivered in
the dead darkness of the night. These supplies have of necessity been
rare and scanty, for the most honest tenant dared not face the
vengeance of the League by openly paying his just due. Did not Mr.
Dillon, on August 23rd, 1887, say, "If there is a man in Ireland base
enough to back down, to turn his back on the fight now that Coercion
has passed, I pledge myself in the face of this meeting, that I will
denounce him from public platform by name, and I pledge myself to the
Government that, let that man be whom he may, his life will not be a
happy one, either in Ireland or across the seas." With such a
formidable organisation as this, what individual would have the
courage to stand out for abstract justice to a landlord? It would have
been, and it has been, standing out for his own destruction. Hence,
for no fault, no rack-renting, have proprietors--and especially
ladies--been treated as mortal enemies by those whom they had always
befriended--for no reason whatever but that it was an easy victory for
the Campaigners to obtain. Women, with never a man to defend them,
could be more easily manipulated than if they were so many stalwart
young fellows, handy in their turn with guns and revolvers, and man
for man a match even for Captain Moonlight. If these ladies dared to
evict their non-paying tenants they would be either boycotted or
"visited," or perhaps both. Besides, who would venture to take the
vacant land? And how could a couple of delicate ladies, say, till the
ground with their own hands? The old fable of the dog in the manger
holds good with these Campaigners. Those who will not pay prevent
others who would; and the hated "landgrabber," denounced from altar
and platform alike, is simply an honest and industrious worker, who
would make his own living and the landlord's rent out of a bit of land
which is lying idle and going to waste.

All through the disturbed districts we come upon facts like this--upon
the ruin and humiliation of kindly and delicately-nurtured ladies, of
which the English public knows nothing; and while it hysterically
pities the poor down-trodden peasant and goes in for Home Rule as the
panacea, the wife of a tenant owing five years' rent and refusing to
pay one, dresses in costly attire--and the lady proprietor knows
penury and hunger; not to speak of the agonies of personal terror
endured for months at a stretch. Let us, who live in a well-ordered
country, realize for a moment the mental condition of those who dwell
in the shadow of assassination--women to whom every unusual noise is
as the sentence of death, and whose days are days of trembling, and
their nights of anguish for the fear of death that encompasses them.
Is this according to the law of elemental justice? Are our sympathies
to be confined wholly to one class, and are the sorrows and the wrongs
done to another not to count? Surely it is time for some of the
sentimental fog in which so many of us have been living to be
dispelled in favour of the light of truth!

Here is an instructive little bit on which we would do well to

A certain authority gives the following anecdote:--He says that he
"has just had a long conversation with one of the leading Galway
merchants. 'A farmer of this county,' said he, 'told me yesterday that
he had let his meadowing at £8 an acre. I bought all his barley, and
he confessed that on this crop too he had made £8 an acre. Now the
judicial rent of this man's holding is 10s. the acre. He said, "I have
nothing to complain of."' This man was a tenant of Lord Clanricarde;
one of those people who decline to pay a farthing in the way of rent
to the lawful owner of the soil. The case we have cited may be an
extreme one, but it is generally admitted by those who are acquainted
with the facts, and who speak the truth that the rents on the
Clanricarde property, speaking generally, are low rents, and yet not
only is it impossible to collect these rents, but the agent who
represents Lord Clanricarde, and whose only fault is that he tries to
do his duty to his employer without unnecessary harshness to the
tenantry, dare not go outside his house without an escort of police,
and every time he leaves his house, he risks his life. Referring to
this agent, Mr. Tener, the correspondent says:--

"No one would think from looking at him that he literally carries his
life in his hand, and that if he were not guarded as closely as he is
he would be shot in twenty-four hours. He never goes outside the walls
of the Portumna demesne without an escort of seven policemen--two
mounted men in front, two behind, and three upon his car. He, too, as
well as the driver, is armed, so the would-be assassins must reckon
with nine armed men. In the opinion of those who know the
neighbourhood his escort is barely strong enough. He was fired at a
few weeks ago, and the horse which he was driving shot dead. The
police who were with him on the car were rolled out upon the road, and
before they could recover themselves and pursue the Moonlighters had
escaped.' And this is supposed to be a civilised country, and is a
part of the United Kingdom!

"Whereas it seems to us Lord Clanricarde is to blame is in not living,
at any rate for some part of the year, upon his Irish property. This
nobleman represents one of the most ancient families in Ireland. He is
the representative of the Clanricarde Burkes, who have been settled
upon this property for 700 years. He draws, or rather drew, a very
large income from it, and there can be little question that his
presence would encourage and sustain smaller proprietors who are
fighting a losing battle in defence of their rights. These proprietors
may fairly claim that the leading men of their order should stand by
them in the time of trial. Unfortunately, this assistance has not been
invariably, or even as a rule, rendered by the great Irish landowners.
It is, indeed, largely because they have failed in their duty that the
present troubles have come upon Irish landlords as a body. If only in
the past the great landowners had lived in Ireland and spent at least
a portion of the incomes they derived from Ireland upon their estates,
the present agitation against landlordism would never have reached the
point at which it has arrived. The absence of the landlords, and in
many cases their refusal to recognise the legitimate claims of their
districts upon them, has made it possible for the agitators who have
now the ear of the people to bring about that severance of classes,
and that embittered feeling of class against class, which is doing
Ireland more injury at the present time than all the rack-renters put

Those who plead for the landlords who have been so cruelly robbed and
ruined are weak-voiced and reticent compared to the loudly crying
advocates for the peasantry. English tourists run over for a fortnight
to Ireland, talk to the jarvies, listen to the peasants themselves,
forbear to go near any educated or responsible person with knowledge
of the facts and a character to lose, and accept as gospel everything
they hear. There is no check and no verification. Pat and Tim and Mike
give their accounts of this and that, bedad! and tell their piteous
tales of want and oppression. The English tourist swallows it all
whole as it comes to him, and writes his account to the sympathetic
Press, which publishes as gospel stories which have not one word of
truth in them. In fact, the term "English tourist" has come to mean
the same as _gobemouche_ in France; and clever Pat knows well enough
that there is not a fly in the whole region of fable which is too
large for the brutal Saxon to swallow. Abject poverty without shoes to
its feet, with only a few rags to cover its unwashed nakedness, and an
unfurnished mud cabin shared with the pigs and poultry for its sole
dwelling-place--abject poverty begs a copper from "his honour" for the
love of God and the glory of the Blessed Virgin, telling meantime a
heartrending story of privation and oppression. Abject poverty points
to all the outward signs and circumstances of its woe; but it forgets
the good stone house in which live the son and the son's wife--the
dozen or more of cattle grazing free on the mountain side--that bit of
fertile land where the very weeds grow into beauty by their
luxuriance--and those quiet hundreds hidden away for the sole pleasure
of hoarding. And the English tourist takes it all in, and blazes out
into wrath against the tyrannous landlord who has reduced an honest
citizen to this fearful state of misery; knowing nothing of the craft
which is known to all the residents round about, and not willing to
believe it were he even told. For the dramatic instinct is strong in
human nature, and in these later days there is an ebullient surplusage
of sympathy which only desires to find an object. Across the Bristol
Channel, the English tourist finds these objects ready-made to his
hand; and the question is still further embroiled, and the light of
truth still more obscured, that a few impulsive, credulous, and
non-judicially-minded young people may find something whereon to
excite their emotions, and give vent to them in letters to the
newspapers when excited.

Only the other day a young Irishman who has to do with the land
question was mistaken for a brutal but credulous Saxon by the jarvey
who had him in tow. Consequently, Pat plied his fancied victim with
the wildest stories of this man's wrongs and that lone widow's
sufferings. When he found out his mistake he laughed and said:
"Begorra, I thought your honour was an English tourist!" And at a
certain trial which took place in Cork, the judge put by some absurd
statement by saying, half-indignant, half amused: "Do you take me for
an English tourist?" Nevertheless the race will continue so long as
there are excitable young persons of either sex whose capacity for
swallowing flies is practically unlimited, and an hysterical Press to
which they can betake themselves.

The following authoritative instance of this misplaced sympathy may
suffice. The _Westminster Review_ published a certain article on the
Olphert estate, among other things. Those who have read it know its
sensational character. At Cork the other day the priest concerned had
to confess on oath that only three of the Olphert tenants had received

In the famous Luggacurren evictions the poor dispossessed dupes lost
their all at the bidding of the Campaigners, on the plea of inability
to pay rents voluntarily offered by Lord Lansdowne to be reduced 20
per cent. After these evictions the lands were let to the "Land
Corporation," which had some short time ago four hundred head of
cattle over and above the full rent paid honestly down; but the former
holders are living on charity doled out to them by the Campaigners,
and in huts built for them by the Campaigners on the edge of the rich
and kindly land which once gave them home and sustenance. How bitterly
they curse the evil counsels which led to their destruction only they
and the few they dare trust know. Take, too, these two authoritative
stories. They are of the things one blindly believes and rages
against--with what justice the dénouement of the sorry farce, best

"The correspondents of the _Freeman's Journal_, in response to the
circular some time ago addressed to them continue to supply fictitious
and exaggerated statements of events alleged to have happened 'in the
country,' nearly every day some example is afforded. One of the latest
is a pathetic tale of the 'suicide of a tenant.' It represents that
Andrew Kelly, of Cloonlaugh, 'one of the three tenants against whom
A.W. Sampey, J.P., landlord, obtained ejectments,' became demented
from the fear of eviction, and drowned himself in a bog hole in
consequence. The account is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
Andrew Kelly was not a tenant of Mr. Sampey's, nor had he been for the
last five years. His son, it is true, is one of the tenants against
whom a decree was obtained, but this did not apparently trouble the
father much, as he had been living away from his son for a long time,
although he had come to see him a few days before he was drowned.
There was no suspicion either of foul play or suicide, and the
coroner's jury returned no such verdict as that given in the
_Freeman_. The veracious correspondent of that journal stated that the
jury found that 'Andrew Kelly came by his death through drowning on
the 22nd October while suffering under temporary insanity brought
about by fear of eviction.' The following is the verdict which the
coroner's jury actually arrived at:--'We find that Andrew Kelly's
death was caused by suffocation; that he was found dead in the
townland of Clooncriur, on the 24th day of October, 1889.' This is the
way in which sensational news is manufactured for the purpose of
promoting an anti-landlord crusade and prejudicing the owners of
property in the eyes of the country."

"Speaking at Newmarch, near Barnsley, last month, Mr. Waddy drew a
heartrending picture of the tyranny practised in Ireland, and
illustrated his theme and moved his audience to the execration of Mr.
Balfour by the artistic recital of a horrible tale. He declared that a
little child had been barbarously sentenced by resident magistrates to
a month's imprisonment for throwing a stone at a policeman. Some
hard-headed or hard-hearted Yorkshireman, however, would not believe
Mr. Waddy offhand, and challenged him to declare names, place, and
date. On the 15th of November, Mr. Waddy gave the following
particulars in writing. He stated that the magistrates who had imposed
the brutal punishment were Mr. Hill and Colonel Bowlby, that the case
was tried at Keenagh on the 23rd of April, 1888, that the child's name
was Thomas Quin, aged nine, and that the charge was throwing stones at
the police.

"The clue thus afforded has been followed up. It is grievous that cool
and calculating investigation should spoil a pretty story, but here is
the truth.

"On the 20th of April, before Colonel Stewart and Colonel Bowlby,
resident magistrates, Thomas Quin, aged 19 years, was convicted of
using intimidation towards William Nutley, in consequence of his
having done an act which he had a legal right to do--viz., to evict a
labourer, Michael Fegan, of Clearis, who refused to work for him.
Thomas Quin was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

"I am quite sure that Mr. Waddy will publicly acknowledge that he
played upon the feelings of his hearers with a trumped-up tale of woe,
but I wonder whether anything will teach the British political tourist
that a great number of my countrymen unfortunately feel a genuine
delight in hoaxing them.

"Your obedient servant,


As for the assertion of poverty and inability to pay, so invariably
made to excuse defaulting tenants, I will give these two instances to
the contrary.

"Writing on behalf of Mr. Balfour to Mr. E. Bannister, of Hyde,
Cheshire, Mr. George Wyndham, M.P., recounts a somewhat remarkable
circumstance in connection with the position and circumstances of a
tenant on Lord Kenmare's estate who declined to pay his rent on the
plea of poverty:--'Irish Office, Nov. 28, 1889. Dear Sir,--In reply to
your letter of the 22nd inst., I beg to inform you that I have made
careful inquiries into the case of Molloy, a tenant on Lord Kenmare's
estate. I find that so far from exaggerating the scope of this
incident, you somewhat understate the case. The full particulars were
as follow:--The estate bailiffs visited the house of Molloy, a tenant
who owed £30 rent and arrears. They seized his cows, and then called
at his home to ask him if he would redeem them by paying the debt.
Molloy stated that he was willing to pay, but that he had only £7
altogether. He handed seven notes to the bailiff, who found that one
of them was a £5 note, so that the amount was £11 instead of £7. On
being pressed to pay the balance he admitted that he had a small
deposit of £20 in the bank, and produced a document which he said was
the deposit receipt for this sum. On the bailiff examining this
receipt he found it was for £100 and not for £20. On being informed of
his mistake, Molloy took back the £100 receipt and produced another,
which turned out to be for £40. A further search on his part led to
the production of the receipt for £20, with which and £10 in notes he
paid the rent. You will observe that this tenant, refusing to pay £30,
and obliging his landlord to take steps against him, possessed at the
time £171, besides having stock on his land.--Yours faithfully, GEORGE

And I have it on the word of honour of one whose word is his bond,
that certain defaulting tenants lately confessed to him that they had
in their pockets as much as the value of three years' rent for the two
they owed, but that they dared not, for their lives, pay it. They
would if they dared, but they dared not. The plea of inability to pay
the reduced scale of rent is for the most part simple moonshine; and
the terrorism imported into this question comes from the Campaigners,
not from the landlords, nor yet from the police. If these paid
political agitators were silenced, and if the laws already passed were
suffered to work by themselves according to their intent, things would
speedily settle. But then the agitators would lose their means of
subsistence, their social status, and their political importance. As
things are these men are ruining the country they affect to defend;
while the worst enemies of the peasant are those who call themselves
his friends, and the blind-eyed sympathisers who bewail the wrongs he
does not suffer and the misery he himself might prevent. All that
Ireland wants now is rest from political agitation, the orderly
development of its resources;--and especially finality in
legislation;[E]--so that the one side may know to what it has to
trust, and the other may be freed from those illusive dreams and
demoralising hopes which destroy the manlier efforts after self-help
in the present for that universal amelioration to be found in the
coming of the cocklicranes in the future.

There is, however, a good work quietly going on which will touch the
evil root of things in time, but not in the sense of the Home Rulers
and Campaigners. This good work will render it unnecessary to follow
the advice of that rough and ready politician who saw no way out of
the wood save to "send to Hell for Oliver Cromwell"; also that of the
facetious Dove who winked as he offered his olive branch:--"Shure the
best way to pacify Oireland is for the Queen to marry Parnell." A more
practicable method than either is silently making headway against the
elements of disorder; and in spite of the upsetters and their
opposition the rough things will be made smooth, and, the troubled
waters will run clear, if only the Government of order may be allowed
time to do its beneficent work of repression and re-establishment
thoroughly and to the roots.


In politics, as in nature, beneficent powers work quietly, while
destructive agencies sweep across the world with noise and tumult. The
fruit tree grows in silence; the tempest which uproots it shakes the
earth to its centre. The gradual evolution of society in the
development of art, the softening of manners, the equalization of
justice, the respect for law, the purity of morals, which are its
results and correlatives, comes about as silently as the growth of the
tree; but the wars which desolate nations, and the revolutions which
destroy in a few months the work of many centuries, are as tumultuous
as the tempest and as boisterous as the storm.

In Ireland at the present moment this rule holds good with surprising
accuracy. Where the tranquilizing effect of Lord Ashbourne's Act
attracts but little attention outside its own immediate sphere, the
Plan of Campaign has everywhere been accompanied with murder,
boycotting, outrage, and the loud cries of those who, playing at
bowls, have to put up with rubbers. Where men who have retained their
sense of manly honesty and commercial justice, buy their lands in
peace, without asking the world to witness the transaction--those
tenants who, having for years refused to pay a reduced rent or any
portion of arrears, are at last evicted from the land they do not care
to hold as honest men should, make the political welkin ring with
their complaints, and call on the nation at large to avenge their
wrongs. And the analogy holds good all through. The Irish tenant
yearns to possess the land he farms. Lord Ashbourne's Act enables him
to do this by the benign way of peace, fairness, and self-respect. The
Plan of Campaign, on the other hand, teaches him the destructive
methods of dishonesty and violence. The one is a legal, quiet, and
equitable arrangement, without personal bitterness, without hysterical
shrieking, without wrong-doing to any one. The other is an offence
against the common interests of society, and a breach of the law
accompanied by crimes against humanity. The one is silent and
beneficent; the other noisy, uprooting, and malevolent. But as the
powers of growth and development are, in the long run, superior to
those of destruction--else all would have gone by the board ages
ago--the good done by Lord Ashbourne's Act will be a living force in
the national history when the evil wrought by the Plan of Campaign is
dead and done with.

By Lord Ashbourne's Act the Irish tenant can buy his farm at (an
average of) seventeen years' purchase. He borrows the purchase money
from the Government, paying it back on easy terms, so that in
forty-nine years he becomes the absolute owner of the property--paying
meantime in interest and gradual diminution of the principal, less
than the present rent. The landlord has about £68 for every £100 he
used to have in rent. This Act is quietly revolutionizing Ireland,
redeeming it from agrarian anarchy, and saving the farmer from himself
and his friends. Thousands and thousands of acres are being constantly
sold in all parts of the country, and good prices are freely given for
farms whereof the turbulent and discontented tenants professed
themselves unable to pay the most moderate rents. Large holdings and
small alike are bought as gladly as they are sold. Those who buy know
the capabilities of the land when worked with a will; those who sell
prefer a reduced certainty to the greater nominal value, which might
vanish altogether under the fiat of the Campaigners and the visits of
Captain Moonlight.

The Irish loyal papers, which no English Home Ruler ever sees--facts
being so inimical to sentiment--these Irish papers are full of details
respecting these sales. On one estate thirty-seven farmers buy their
holdings at prices varying from £18 to £520, the average being £80. On
another, six farms bring £5,603, one fetching £2,250. In the west,
small farmers are buying where they can. In Sligo the MacDermott,
Q.C., has sold farms to forty-two of his tenants for £3,096, the
prices varying from £32 to £70 and £130; and the O'Connor Don has sold
farms in the same county to fifteen tenants for £1,934. The number of
acres purchased under this Act for the three years ending August,
1888, are a trifle over 293,556.

The Government valuation is £171,774,000. The net rent is £190,181
12s. 9d. The purchase-money is £3,350,933. The average number of
years' purchase is 17.6.

Perhaps the most important of all these sales are those on the Egmont
estate in the very heart of one of the gravely-disturbed districts.
The rent-roll of this estate was £16,000 a year; and it was estimated
that successive landlords had laid out about £250,000 in
improvements--which was just the sum expected to be realized by the
sales. All this land has passed into the hands of farmers who, from
agitators and No Renters have now become proprietors on their own
account, with a direct interest in maintaining law and order, and in
opposing violence and disorder all round. Other important sales have
been effected. A hundred and fifty tenants on the Drapers' estate in
county Derry have bought their farms from the London Company at a
total of £57,980. These, with others (197 in all), reached a sum total
of purchase-money of £63,305, as set forth in the _Dublin Gazette_, of
November 5th, 1889.

Lord Spencer, whose political _volte face_ is one of the wonders of
the hour, does not hesitate to say that this Act has not been a
success. Can he give counter figures to those quoted above? And Mr.
Michael Davitt does not approve of the sales in general and of those
on the Egmont estates in especial, "He hates the Ashbourne Act worse
than he hates the idea of an endowed Roman Catholic University, which
is saying a great deal. He hates it because it renders impossible his
visionary scheme of land nationalization, but more because it wrests
from his hands the weapons of Separatist rebellion. And what he openly
says, all the more cautious members of his party think. Every
purchaser under the Ashbourne Act is a soldier lost to the cause of
sedition. More than one of the ringleaders have indeed said this
formerly, but of late they have grown more reticent. The Parnellite,
it has been said, is essentially an Opportunist. Mr. Davitt is hardly
a Parnellite, but the real Parnellite items have discovered that their
seats in Parliament and their future hopes would be endangered, if
they openly fell foul of the Act under which so many Irish tenants are
becoming freeholders. They do not bless the Act, but they leave it

There is another misstatement that had better be frankly met. The
objectors to the Land Courts say that the applicants are so many and
the process is so slow, it is almost useless and worse than
heartbreaking to apply for relief. One thing, however, must be
remembered--during the interim of application and hearing, a tenant
cannot be disturbed in his holding, and if he refuses to pay his rent
the landlord cannot evict him. The following correspondence is

     "Braintree, Nov. 14.

     "Sir,--Will you be good enough to inform me whether the statement I
     give below is correct? It was made by an Irish lecturer (going
     about with magic-lantern views) for the purpose of showing how
     unjustly the Irish tenants are treated. The lecturer was Mr. J.
     O'Brady, and he was delivering the lecture at Braintree on
     Saturday, November 9:--'There are now 90,000 cases awaiting the
     decision of the Land Courts to fix a "fair rent" on their holdings,
     and as only 15,000 cases can be heard in one year, do you wonder at
     the tenants refusing to pay their present rent?'

     "Your faithful servant,


     "The Right Hon. A.J. Balfour, M.P."

     "Irish Office, Great Queen Street, Nov. 22.

     "Dear Sir,--I have made special inquiry into the subject of your
     letter of the 14th inst., and find that on the 31st of the last
     month the number of outstanding applications to have fair rents
     fixed was 44,295, and that the number of cases disposed of in the
     months of July and August (the latest month for which the figures
     are made up) was 5,380. You will see, therefore, that the arrear is
     less than one-half of the amount stated by the Separatist lecturer
     to whom you refer, and the rate of progression in disposing of it
     is considerably higher than that alleged by him. It may reasonably
     be hoped also (though the statistics are not yet available) that
     this rate has since been increased, as several additional
     Sub-Commissioners have been appointed to hear the cases. I would
     observe also that under the provisions of the Land Act, passed by
     the present Government in 1887, the tenant gets the benefit of the
     judicial rent from the date of his application, an advantage which
     he did not possess under Mr. Gladstone's Act. Such unavoidable
     delay as may occur, therefore, does not, under the existing law,
     involve the serious injury to the tenant implied by the lecturer. I
     enclose a printed paper, which will give you further information on
     this subject. In conclusion, I would point out that the suggestion
     that the agrarian trouble in Ireland arises from the difficulty
     experienced by the tenants in getting judicial rents fixed is not
     warranted by the facts. Take as illustrations the cases of two
     estates which have lately been prominently before the
     public--namely, the Ponsonby and the Olphert. In the former case
     the landlord is anxious, I believe, to get the tenants to go into
     Court, and offers to give retrospective effect to the decisions,
     though not bound by law to do so, but under the influence of the
     agitators the tenants refuse to go into Court. In the latter
     instance judicial rents have long since been fixed in the great
     majority of cases.

     "Yours faithfully,


Together with this easy mode of purchase by which the quiet and
industrious are profiting, rents are reduced all over the country,
though still the Home Rulers reiterate the old charge of
"rack-renting," as if such a thing were the rule. These unscrupulous
misstatements, indeed, make half the difficulties of the Irish
question; for lies stick fast, where disclaimers, proofs, facts, and
figures, pass by like dry leaves on the wind. But for all the fact of
past extortion the present reductions are not always a proof of
over-renting. What Mr. Buxton says has common sense on the face of

"Very serious reductions of rents are being made all through Ireland
by the Land Sub-Commissioners, who are supposed to be in some extent
guided by the appearance of the farms. Now it should be remembered
that at the interview that took place in London on July 3rd, between
Mr. Smith-Barry and some of his tenants, in reference to that
gentleman's support of the evictions on the Ponsonby estate, one of
the arguments for forgiveness of arrears was that when eviction was
threatened 'the tenants gave up their industry,' and 'how could they
get the rents out of the land when they were absolutely idle?' To
admit such a plea for granting a reduction of rent is most dangerous.
Tenants have but to neglect their land, get into arrears of rent, and
claim large reductions because their farms do not pay. An ignorant, or
slovenly, or idle farmer, under such circumstances, is likely to have
a lower rent fixed by the Sub-Commissioners than his more industrious
neighbour, and thus a great injustice may be done to both the good
farmer and the landlord, the--perhaps cunningly--idle farmer receiving
a premium for neglecting his farm. A comparison of the judicial rents
with the former rents and the Poor Law valuation is truly startling,
and must lead one to imagine that the system by which so much valuable
property is dealt with is most unjust."

Thus, the famous reductions in County Clare, where the abatements
granted averaged over 30 per cent., and in some cases exceeded 50 per
cent., were not perhaps all a sign of the landlord's iniquity, but
also may be taken to show something of the tenant's indifference.
Poverty is pitiable, truly, and it claims relief from all who believe
in the interdependence of a community; but poverty which comes from
idleness, unthrift, neglect, and which then falls on others to
relieve--these others having to suffer for sins not their own--how
about that as a righteous obligation? Must I and my children go
foodless because my tenants will neither till the land they hold from
me, so as to make it yield their own livelihood and that profit over
which is my inheritance, nor suffer others to do what they will not?
If we are prepared to endorse the famous saying: "La propriété c'est
le vol," well and good. Meanwhile to spend all our sympathy on men who
reduce themselves and others to poverty by idleness and unthrift,
seems rather a bad investment of emotion. The old-fashioned saying
about workers and eaters had a different ring; and once on a time
birds who could sing, and would not, were somehow made.

Co-incident with these conditions of no rent at all--reduction of rent
all round--and the free purchase of land by those who yesterday
professed pauperism, is the startling fact that the increase in Bank
deposits for the half-year of 1889 was £89,000--in Post Office Savings
Bank deposits £244,000--in Trustee Savings Banks, £16,000.

Mr. Mitchell Henry, writing to the _Times_, says:--"If any one will
tell the exact truth as to Irish matters at this moment, he must
confess that landlords are utterly powerless to coerce their tenants;
that the pockets of the tenants themselves are full of money formerly
paid in rent; that the price of all kinds of cattle has risen largely;
that the last harvest was an excellent one; and that the
banks--savings banks, Post Office banks, and ordinary banks--are
richer than they have ever been, whilst the consumption of
whisky--that sure barometer of Irish prosperity--is increasing beyond
all former experience. In addition to this, I venture to say that,
with certain local exceptions, the Irish peasant is better clothed
than any other peasants in the world. The people are sick of agitation
and long to be let alone; but they are a people of extraordinary
clannishness, and take an intellectual delight in intrigue, especially
where the Saxon is concerned. British simplicity is wonderful, and the
very people who have put on this cupboard love for Mr. Gladstone and
his lieutenants, whom they formerly abused beyond all decent license
of abuse, laugh at them as soon as their backs are turned."

These savings do not come from the landlords, so many of whom are
hopelessly ruined by the combined action of our own legislature and
the Plan of Campaign. Of this ruin Colonel Lloyd has given a very
graphic account. Alluding to Mr. Balfour's answer in the House on the
21st of June, to the question put by Mr. Macartney on Colonel Lloyd's
letter to the _Times_ (10th of June), the Colonel repeats his
assertions, or rather his accusations against the Court. These
are:--"First, that the percentage of reductions now being given is the
very highest yet made, notwithstanding that prices of agricultural
produce and cattle have considerably increased; secondly, that the
Sub-Commissioners have no fixed rule to guide them save one--viz.,
that existing rents, be they high or low, must be cut down, although
they may not have been altered for half a century; thirdly that it was
reported the Commissioners had instructions to give all-round
reductions of 33 per cent.; fourthly, that in the Land Court the most
skilled evidence of value is disregarded, as also the Poor Law
valuation; fifthly, that the Sub-Commissioners assign no reasons for
their decisions; and, sixthly, that the machinery of the Court is
faulty and unfair in the following instances:--_(a)_ If a landlord
appeals and fails, he must pay costs, but if he appeals and succeeds
he will not get costs; _(b)_ tenants' costs are taxed by the Court
behind the landlord's back; _(c)_ their rules are constantly changing
without any proper notice to the public; and _(d)_ appeals are
accumulating with no prospect of their being disposed of in any
reasonable time."

Colonel Lloyd disposes of Mr. Balfour's denials to these statements,
but at too great length to copy. It may be taken for granted here that
they are disposed of, and that he proves up to the hilt his case of
crying injustice to the landlords--as indeed every fair-minded person
who looks honestly into the question, must acknowledge. As one slight
corroboration of what he says he adduces the following instances:--

"The following judicial rents were fixed by the
Assistant-Commissioners in the West of Ireland:--

                               Poor Law       Judicial
Tenants' Names.   Old Rent.    Valuation.      Rent
                  £ s. d.        £ s. d.      £ s. d.
Tom Regan         9  9 10       12  0  0      5 15  0
J. Manlon         9  2  6       11 10  0      5 15  0
C. Kelly          9 12 10       11  5  0      6  0  0
J. Kenny          4 11  4        6  5  0      2 15  0

                £32 16  6      £41  0  0    £20  5  0

"The landlord appealed, and the appeals were heard a few days ago by
the Chief Commissioners in Roscommon. Two skilled valuers were
employed, who valued within a few shillings of the Government
valuation, and in the face of this evidence the decisions of the
Assistant-Commissioners were confirmed. These are not by any means
isolated instances. In fact they are the rule in the Land Court."

And he ends by this remarkable assertion:--

"The whole machinery of the Court must be remodelled if it is to
possess the confidence of the public. As it is at present composed, it
is too much subject to political influence and to the clamour of one
set of litigants to be independent. There are few of your readers, I
believe, who will not admit that it is a very alarming thing to find
a Court so constituted having the control of millions. The only
officials ever connected with the Court in which there was any degree
of confidence were the Court valuers attached to the Appeal Court.
They were men of independence and impartiality, but they were
dispensed with in a vain attempt to satisfy Mr. Parnell. I see by Mr.
Balfour's statement in the House of Commons on the 25th ult. that the
Chief Commissioners are again engaged in framing new rules with regard
to appeals. One would think that at the end of eight years they would
have had their rules complete, and that an alteration every three
months during that period ought to have brought them to perfection.
How long is this farce to continue? These are serious complaints
against a public body intrusted with the administration of justice.
They do not deserve to be lightly passed over, and I am confident
that, even should it suit the convenience of the present Government to
follow the example of their predecessors and ignore them, the English
people, with their strong sense of justice, will eventually insist on
the unfair treatment and glaring injustice and abuses complained of
being set right, and that those who have from political motives and
influence been placed in honourable and responsible judicial positions
shall give place to impartial men, who will deal out even-handed
justice to the landlord as well as to the tenant.--I remain your
obedient servant,

"JESSE LLOYD, Lieutenant-Colonel and J.P.,

"Agent for Lord Rossmore.

"Rossmore Agency Office, Monaghan."

Here, then, is the reverse of the medal. Hitherto the outcry has been
all for the tenant, and I do not say for a moment that this outcry was
not just. It was. The Irish peasant has had his wrongs, deep and
shameful; but now justice has been done to him so amply that the
overflow has gone to the other side. It is time to look at things as
they are, and to let well alone. Justice to the one has broadened out
into persecution of the other, and an Irish landlord is for the moment
the favourite cock-shy for aggressive legislation. But, as I have said
before, prejudice dies hard, and sentimental pity is often only
prejudice in a satin cloak. The Irish peasant is still assumed to be a
helpless victim, the Irish landlord a ruffianly tyrant; and a state of
things as obsolete as the Ogham language itself still rouses active
passion as against a living wrong. I go back to that statement in the
_Pall Matt Gazette,_ to which I have before alluded, as an instance of
the way in which the very froth of prejudice and falsehood is whipped
up into active poison by the short and easy way of imagination and
assertion. It is a fair sample of all the rest; but these are the
things which find credit with those who do not know and do not

Advocating the making of blackberry wine as the short cut from poverty
to prosperity in Ireland, the scheme being parallel to Mr. Gladstone's
famous remedy of jam, this sapient "B.O.N." says:--

"The blackberry harvest would be over in the sunny Rhine country
before it began in Ireland. Why should not some practical native, go
over from home and see how it is all done? I quite know that any plan
for bettering the physical condition of our people is open to the
objection that as soon as they seem a little 'comfortable' the
landlord would raise the rent in many a case; but perhaps in a still
larger number of cases he would now be afraid to do so. And I know,
too, that even a blackberry wine industry will not be quite safe till
we have Home Rule; but is not that coming fast?"

This mischievous little word is in the very teeth of the fact that
rents cannot be raised on any plea whatsoever--certainly not because
the tenant makes himself better off by an industry other than his
farming--and that the whole machinery of Government had been put in
motion to protect the land tiller from the land-owner. Yet the _Pall
Mall Gazette_ is not ashamed to lend itself to this lie on the chance
of catching a few fluttering minds and nailing them to the mast of
Home Rule on the false supposition that this means justice to the
oppressed tenant and wholesome restraint of the brutal proprietor.
Professor Mahaffy, in a long letter to the _New York Independent,_
speaks of the same kind of thing still going on in America--this
bolstering up a delusion by statements as far removed from the truth
as that of "B.O'N.'s," to which the _Pall Mall Gazette_ gives sanction
and circulation. That part of the American press which is under the
influence or control of the Irish Home Rulers still goes on talking of
the oppression to which the Irish tenant is subjected, just as the
speeches of the Agitators (_vide_ the astounding lies, as well as the
appalling nonsense talked, when Lady Sandhurst and Mr. Stansfeld were
made citizens of Dublin, and it was asserted that the Government
turned tail and fled before these "delegates") teem with analogous
assertions wherein not so much as one grain of truth is to be found.
Let it be again repeated in answer to all these falsehoods:--No tenant
can be evicted except for non-payment of one year's rent; that rent
can be settled by the courts, and if he has signed an agreement for an
excessive payment, his agreement can be broken; and he must be
compensated for all the improvements he has made or will swear that he
has made. Also, he can borrow money from the Government at the lowest
possible interest, and become the owner of his farm for less yearly
payment than his former rent. He, the Irish tenant, is the most
protected, the most favoured of all leaseholders in Europe or America,
but the old cries are raised, the old watch-words are repeated, just
as if nothing had been done since the days when he was as badly off as
the Egyptian fellah, and was, in truth, between the devil and the deep
sea. Let me repeat the legal and actual condition of things as
summarized by Mr. Montagu Crackanthorpe, Q.C. These six propositions
ought to be learned by heart before anyone allows himself to talk of
Home Rule or the Irish question:--

1. That every yearly tenant of agricultural land valued at less than
£50 a year can have his rent judicially fixed, and that the existence
of arrears of rent creates no statutory obstacle whatever, nor any
difficulty in procedure, if he is desirous of availing himself of the

2. That every such agricultural tenant, whether he has had a fair rent
fixed or not, may sell his tenancy to the highest bidder whenever he
desires to leave; and that, if he be evicted, he has the right either
to redeem within six months, or to sell his tenancy within the same
period to a purchaser, who can likewise redeem, and thus acquire all
the privileges of the tenant.

3. That in view of the fall in agricultural produce, the Land
Commission is empowered and directed to vary the rents fixed by the
Land Court during the years 1881 to 1885, in accordance with the
difference in prices of produce between those years and the years 1887
to 1889.

4. That no tenant in Ireland can be evicted by his landlord unless his
rent is twelve months in arrear, and that the yearly tenant who is so
evicted must be paid full compensation for all improvements not
already compensated for by enjoyment, such, for instance, as
unexhausted manure, permanent buildings, and reclamation of waste
land. He may, it is true, be evicted on title after judgment obtained
against him for his rent, and in that case his goods and interest
(including his improvements) may be put up to auction by the Sheriff.
This is a matter which seems to require amendment; but it is to be
observed that the same consequences would follow if the judgment
creditor were a shopkeeper who had given the tenant credit or the
local money-lender or gombeen man. A compulsory sale under these
circumstances is not peculiar to landlordism, and it is a method to
which landlords seldom resort.

5. That if a tenant falls into arrear for rent, and becomes liable to
eviction, whether on title or not, the Court can stay process, if
satisfied that his difficulty arises from no fault of his own, and
can give him time to pay by instalments.

6. That if a tenant wishes to buy his holding, and comes to terms with
his landlord, he can borrow money from the Government at 4 per cent.,
by the help of which he may change his rent into an annuity, the
amount of the annuity being less than the rent, and the burden of the
annuity altogether ceasing at the end of forty-nine years.

The result by the way of this peasant proprietorship will be twofold.
On the one side it will create a greater uniformity of comfort and a
larger class of peaceable, self-respecting, law-abiding citizens. On
the other it will lower the general standard by doing away with that
better class of resident gentry and capitalized landowners, who in
their way are guides, teachers and helps to the peasantry. The absence
of this better class of resident gentry is one of the misfortunes of
French agricultural life and the justification of M. Zola; their
presence is one of the blessings of England. How will it be in Ireland
when the exodus is more complete than it is even now, and when the
villages and rural districts are left solely to peasant proprietors
and a celibate clergy? The Romish Church has never been famous for
teaching those things which make for intellectual enlightenment and
social improvement. The difference between the Protestant north and
the rest of Roman Catholic Ireland, as between the Protestant and
Romish cantons in Switzerland; is a truism almost proverbial. And
without the little leaven of such influence as the better educated and
more enlightened gentry may possess, the Irish peasant will be even
more superstitious, more blinded by prejudice and ignorance than he
is now. As it is, the old landlords are sincerely deplored, and the
good they did is as sincerely regretted. Those grand old hunting days,
now things of the past, still linger in the memory of the men who
participated in the fun and had their full share of the crumbs--and
the times when a grand seigneur paid a hundred pounds a week in wages
alone seem something like glimpses into a railed and fenced off El
Dorado, which the Plan of Campaign has closed for ever. So that the
sunshine has its shadow, for all the good to be had from the light.

It ought to be that peasant proprietorship will make the holder more
industrious and a better farmer than he has been as tenant. Whether it
will or not remains to be seen. As things are--always excepting Ulster
and the North generally--farming could scarcely be more shameful in
its neglect than it is--domestic life could scarcely be more squalid,
more savage, more filthy. Even rich farmers live like pigs and with
their pigs, and the stone house is no better kept than the mud
cabin--the forty-acre field no better tilled than the miserable little
potato patch. Had the farming been better, there would never have been
the poverty, the discontent, the agitation by which Ireland had been
tortured and convulsed. Had the men been more industrious, the women
cleaner and more deft, the Plan of Campaign would have failed for want
of social nutriment, where now it has been so disastrously triumphant.
Physical well-being is a great incentive to quiet living--productive
industry checks political unrest. Those who have something to lose are
careful to keep it; and we may be sure that Captain Moonlight would
not risk his skin if he had a good coat to cover it.

Also there is another aspect in which this land question may be
viewed, and ought to be viewed--in reference to the manner in which
the Irish farmer treats the property by which he lives:--that is the
aspect of his duty to the community in his quality of producer for the
community. We must all come down to the land as the common property of
the human race. Parcelled out as it may be--by the mile or the square
yard--it is the common mother of all men. We can do without everything
else, from lace to marble--from statues to carriages--but food we must
have; and the holders of land all the world over are really and
rightfully trustees for the race. The Irish peasant has no more right
to neglect the possibilities of produce than had William Rufus, or his
modern representative in Scotland, to evict villages for the making of
a deer forest. The principle of trusteeship in the land holds good
with small holders and great alike; but imagine what would be the
effect of a law which required so much produce from a given area on an
average for so long a period! The principle is of course conceded in
the rent, rates and taxes; but a direct application to produce would
set the kingdom in a blaze.

But in Ireland fields of thistles and acres of ragwort, with tall
purple spikes of loose strife everywhere, seem to be held as valid
crops, fit for food and good at rent-paying. These are to be found at
every step from Dublin to Kerry, and the most unpractised eye can see
the waste and neglect and unnecessary squalor of both land and
people. As an English farmer said, with indignation: "The land is
brutally treated." So it is--idleness, unthrift, and bad farming
generally, degrading it far below its possibilities and natural
standard of production. Cross the Channel, and Wales looks like a trim
garden. Go over to France, and you find every yard of soil carefully
tilled and cultivated. Even in comparatively ramshackle Sicily, among
the old lava beds of Etna, the peasants raise a handful of grain on
the top of a rock no bigger than a lady's work-table. In Ireland the
cultivated portion of a holding is often no bigger relatively than
that work-table on an acre of waste. Will the tiller, now the owner
and no longer only the leaseholder, go back from his evil ways of
thriftlessness and neglect, and instead of being content to live just
above the line of starvation, will he educate himself up to those
artificial wants which only industry can supply? Will the women learn
to love cleanliness, to regard their men's rags and their children's
dirt as their own dishonour, and to understand that womanhood has its
share of duties in social and domestic life? Will the sense of beauty
grow with the sense of proprietorship, and the filth of the present
surroundings be replaced by a flower garden before the cottage--a
creeper against the wall--a few pots of more delicate blooms in the
window? Will the taste for variety in garden produce be enlarged, and
plots of peas, beans, carrots, artichokes, pot-herbs, and the like, be
added to the one monotonous potato-patch, with a few cabbages and
roots for the baste, and a strip of oats as the sole cereal attempted?
Who knows? At present there is not a flower to be seen in the whole of
the West, save those which a luxuriant Nature herself has sown and
planted; and the immediate surroundings of the substantial farm-house,
like those of the mud cabin, are filth unmentionable, savage squalor,
and bestial neglect.

These things are signs of a mental and moral condition that goes
deeper than the manifestation. They do not show only want of the sense
of beauty--want of the sense even of cleanliness; they show the
absence of all the civilizing influences--all the humanizing
tendencies of modern society. By this want Ireland is made miserable
and kept low in the scale of nations. Had the race been
self-respecting, sturdy, upright, stubbornly industrious, all this
savage neglect would have mended itself. Being what it is--excitable,
imaginative, spasmodic, given over to ideas rather than to facts, and
trusting to Hercules in the clouds rather than to its own brawny
shoulders--this squalor continues and is not dependent on poverty.
Time alone will show whether changed agrarian conditions will alter
it. So far as his power goes, the priest does nothing to touch it. The
Church uses up its influence for everything but the practical purposes
of work-a-day-life. It teaches obediences to its ordinances, but not
civic virtues. It encourages boys and girls to marry at an age when
they neither understand the responsibilities of life nor can support a
family; but in its regard for the Sacrament it forgets the
pauperization of the nation. It enforces chastity, but it winks at
murder; it demands money for masses for the souls of the dead, but it
leaves on one side the homes and bodies of the living; it breeds a
race of paupers to drag the country lower and lower into the depths of
poverty, and thinks it has done a meritorious work, and one that
calls for praise because of the paucity of numbers in the percentage
of illegitimate births. Thus in Ireland, where everything is set
askew, even morality has its drawbacks, and less individual virtue
would be a distinct national gain.

The Home Rule enthusiasts say all that is wanted to remedy these
ingrained defects is a Parliament; all that is wanted to make Irishmen
perfect and Ireland a paradise is a Parliament chosen by the people
and sitting in College Green. Human nature will then be changed, and
the lion and the lamb will lie down together. The Papist will love the
Protestant, and the moral of the story about those two Scotch
Presbyterian boys, whose presence at the Barrow House National School
so seriously disturbed both priest and people, is one that will read
quite the other way. All the bitter hatred poured out against England,
against Protestants, against the law and its administrators, will
cease so soon as Catholics come to the place of power and the
supremacy of England is at an end. The Church which burned Giordano
Bruno and is affronted because his memory has been honoured--which
placed the Quirinale under the ban of the lesser excommunication, and
withstood the national impulse towards freedom and unity as
represented by Garibaldi--the Church which has ever been on the side
of intolerance and tyranny will suddenly, in Ireland under Home Rule,
become beneficent, just, and liberal, and heretics will no longer herd
with the goats but will take their place among the sheep. If, as Mr.
Redmond says, it is the duty of Irishmen to make the Government of
England an impossibility, it will then be their pleasure to make her
alliance both close and easy. Ulster and Kerry will march shoulder to
shoulder, and Leaguers and Orangemen will form an unbroken phalanx of
orderly and law-abiding citizens. In a word the old Dragon will be
chained and the Millenium will come.

The prospect seems too good to be true. Were we to follow after it and
put the loyal Protestant minority into the power of the anti-imperial
Catholic majority in the hope of seeking peace and ensuing it, we
might perchance be like the dog who let fall that piece of meat from
between his teeth--losing the substance for shadow. We do better, all
things considered, with our present arrangements--trusting to the
imperfect operations of human law rather than shooting Niagara for the
chance of the clear stream at the bottom.

The whirligig of Time has changed the relative positions of the two
great parties in Ireland. Formerly it was the Catholics who desired
the abolition of Home Rule, and the Protestants who held by the
National Parliament. That Parliament was exclusively Protestant, and
the powerful minority ground the helpless majority to the very ground.
Catholics were persecuted from shore to shore, and all sorts and
conditions of Protestant bullies and tyrants sent up petitions to
forbid the iniquity of Catholic trade rivalry. What was then would be
now--changing the venue and putting the Catholics where the
Protestants used to be. We do not believe that the "principle of
Nationality" is the working power of this desire for Home Rule, as Mr.
Stansfeld asserts--unless indeed the principle of Nationality can be
stretched so as to cover the self-aggrandizement of a party, the
bitterness of religious hatred, and the tyranny of a cruel and
coercive combination. The grand and noble name of Nationality can
scarcely be made so elastic as this. Respect for law lies at the very
heart of the principle, and the Irish Home Rulers are of all men the
most conspicuous for their contempt of law and their bold infraction
of the very elementary ordinances of civilized society.

As for tyranny, no coercion established by Government--not even that
proclaimed by Mr. Gladstone--has been more stringent than the coercion
exercised by the Plan of Campaign. What happened in Tipperary only
the other day when certain rent-paying tenants, who had been
boycotted, did public penance in the following propositions? They
offered:--"Firstly, to come forward to the subsequent public meeting
and express public contrition for having violated their resolution to
hold out with the other tenants; secondly, not to pay the next
half-year's rent, due on the 10th of December, but to in future act
with the general body of the tenantry; and thirdly, to pay each a
pecuniary sum, to be halved between the Ponsonby tenants and the
Smith-Barry Tipperary tenantry in the fight which is to come on."
Surely no humiliation was ever greater than this!--no decree of secret
council or pitiless Vehmgericht were ever more ruthlessly imposed,
more servilely obeyed! Can we say that the Irish are fit to be called
freemen, or able to exercise the real functions of Nationality, when
they can suffer themselves to be hounded like sheep and rated like
dogs for the exercise of their own judgment and the performance of
their duties as honest men and good citizens?

If the mere presence in Ireland of Lady Sandhurst and Mr. Stansfeld
dismayed Mr. Balfour and scattered his myrmidons as the forces of the
Evil One fly before the advent of the angels, could they not have used
their semi-divine power for these humiliated rent-payers? Instead of
complacently listening to bunkum--which, if they had had any sense of
humour would have made them laugh; any of modesty would have made them
blush--could they not have brought their inherited principles of
commercial honesty and manly fidelity to an engagement to bear on
these irate Campaigners, and have reminded them that the very core of
Liberalism is the right of each man to unrestricted action, provided
he does not hurt his neighbour? But Home Rulers are essentially
one-sided in their estimate of tyranny, and things change their names
according to the side on which they are ranged. To boycott a man, to
mutilate his cattle,[F] to commit outrages on his family, and finally
to murder him outright for paying his rent or taking an evicted farm,
are all justifiable proceedings of righteous severity. But for a
landlord to evict a tenant from the farm for which he will not pay the
covenanted rent--will not, but yet could, twice over--is a cowardly, a
brutal, a damnable act, for which those slugs from behind a stone-wall
are the well-deserved reward.

Here is an instance of the vengeance sought to be taken by wealthy
tenants evicted for non-payment of rent.

"Lord Clanricarde writes to the _Times_ to corroborate the statement
that an infernal explosive machine had been found in a cottage at
Woodford, in Ireland. His lordship quotes as follows from the account
of an eye-witness:--

'When possession was taken of the sub-tenant's house, No. 1, there was
the usual crowd crowding as close to our party as the police would
allow; but it was remarked that on our approach to houses Nos. 2 and
3, close together, and which concealed the infernal machine, the crowd
kept well away out of hearing, while the Woodford leaders were on a
car on the road, but out of danger like the others; but all well in
sight of any destruction that might befall the officers of the law.
This house, No. 3, when last examined in June, was found vacant, door
not locked, but open, and used as a shelter for cattle. Finding it
locked now, X. detached the lock, pushed the door open, and he and I
and others went inside. The house was empty, but a pile of stones was
heaped up in the doorway, some of them had been displaced by the door
when opened, and the top of a box 6 in. square was seen embedded in a
barrel containing 25 lbs. of 'excellent gunpowder,' a bottle full of
sulphuric acid, and other explosives, as well as a number of
detonators, and the blade of a knife (apparently) with a spring
attached by a coil of string to the door, the machine being so
arranged as to be liable to explode in two ways. The expert who
examined the machine said that had the sulphuric acid been liberated,
as meant, all our party, twenty in all, must have been destroyed, as
there were enough explosives to destroy any living thing within 100
yards. Neither on that day, nor on the 22nd (date of sale) did either
the tenant or the Woodford leaders--R. and K.--utter one word of
surprise, much less of abhorrence!'

The tenant proceeded against (says Lord Clanricarde, owed four and
a-half years' rent, at £47 8s. per annum) much below the taxation
valuation of £67 19s., for a mill, with the sole use of the
water-power, a valuable privilege, and 440 statute acres, a
considerable part of them arable land. He had ten sub-tenants, was
reported to make £500 per annum from mill and farm, and though he had
removed part of his stock, there were still cattle on the land on the
day of eviction enough to cover two years' arrears. If he had paid
even those two years on account he would have received an abatement,
and saved his farm. The judge in Dublin who gave the decree against
him, gave also costs against him to mark his sense of the tenant's bad

And to think that good, honest, noble-hearted, and sincere Englishmen,
who in their own persons are law-abiding, just, honourable, and
faithful, should uphold a state of things which strikes at the root of
all law, all commercial honesty--blinded as they are by the glamour of
a generous, unreal, and unworkable sentiment! If only they would go
over to Ireland to judge for themselves on the basis of facts, not
fancies--and to be informed by truths not lies!

I know that we cannot all see alike, and that every shield has its two
sides. In this matter, on the one side stand Earl Spencer, now
converted to Home Rule, since his Viceroyalty; on the other is the
example of Mr. Forster, who went to Ireland an ardent Home Ruler and
came back as strong a Unionist. The Quaker became a fighting man, and
the idealist a practical man, believing in facts as he had seen them
and no longer in sentiments he could not realise--in measures grounded
on the necessities of good government, and not like so many epiphytes
with their roots in the air. Let Lord Spencer bring to this test his
late utterances. He goes in now for Home Rule, and the right of
Ireland to appoint her own police and judges. He is out of the wood
and can hallo; but where would he have been if the Irish had appointed
their police when he was at the Castle?--with Lord Frederick and Mr.
Burke! And if the judges were appointed by the Irish, we should have,
in all probability, Mr. Tim Harrington, barrister-at-law, on the
bench; and a few years ago Mr. Tim Harrington crumpled up the Queen's
writ and flung it out of the Court House window. And what power over
the fortunes of others can be given to men who boycott a railway for
political spite?[G]

So many things have conspired to make this Irish question a
Gordian-knot which no man can untie, and but few would dare to cut.
The past extravagance of the landlords, absenteeism, rack-renting,
injustice of all kinds; the past jealousy of England and her
over-shadowing all native industries and productions; difference of
religion, racial temperament, and the irreconcilable enmity of the
conquered towards the conquerors; ignorance and idleness; the morality
which marries too early, when the land, which was just enough to
support one family, is expected to keep three or four; want of
self-respect in the dirt and disorder of domestic life; want of all
communal life or amusement, save in heated politics and drink; bogs
here, unthrift there, small holdings everywhere--all these things help
to complicate a question which passion has already made too difficult
for even the most radical kind of statesmanship to adjust. All the
panaceas hitherto tried have been found ineffectual. The repeal of
Catholic disabilities, the establishment of national schools, the
disestablishment of the Protestant Church, the Maynooth grant, the
various Land Acts--all have done but little towards the settlement of
the question, which, like certain fabulous creatures, has increased in
strength and the extensions of its demands by every concession made.
The best chance yet offered seems to be in the quiet working of Lord
Ashbourne's Act, by which the tenant becomes the owner and the
landlord is not despoiled. And certainly the crying need of the moment
is legislative finality and political rest. Existing machinery is
sufficient for all the agrarian ameliorations demanded. To do much
more would be to act like children who pluck up their seeds to see how
they are growing, leaving nothing sufficient time for development or

No one would deny such a measure of Home Rule to Ireland as should
give her the management of her own internal affairs, in the same
manner and degree as our County Councils are to manage ours. But this
is not the Home Rule demanded by the leaders of the party. That for
which they have taken off their coats means the loss of the country as
an integral part of the Empire; the oppression and practical
annihilation of the Protestant section; the opening of the Irish
ports to all the enemies of England; or the breaking out of civil war
in Ireland and its reconquest by England. The alternative scheme of
federation is for the moment unworkable. But to hand over the whole
conduct of Irish affairs to the Roman Catholic majority would be one
of those ineffaceable political crimes the greatness of which would be
equalled only by the magnitude of its mistake. The language of the
indigenous Home Rulers and their Transatlantic sympathisers--as well
as the things they have done and are still doing--ought to be warnings
sufficiently strong to prevent such an act of folly and wickedness on
our part. Even our men--men of light and leading like Mr. John
Morley--seem to lose their heads when they approach the Irish question
and to become as rabid in their accusations as the paid political
agitators themselves. I will give these two short extracts, the one
from Mr. Morley's speech at Glasgow, and the other from Lord
Powerscourt's temperate and rational commentary:--

"Mr. Morley says," quotes Lord Powerscourt, "that the Irish people are
more backward than the Scotch or English, which I venture to doubt, at
least as regards intelligence, and gives as the reason:--

"'It is because the landlords, who have been their masters, have
rack-rented them, have sunk them in poverty, have plundered their own
improvements, have confiscated the fruits of their own industry, have
done all that they could to degrade their manhood. That is why they
are backward. (Cheers.) Will anybody deny that the Irish landlords are
open to this great accusation and indictment? If anybody here is
inclined to deny it, let him look at the reductions in rent that have
been made since 1881 in the Land Court.'

"Well, have not rents in England and Scotland been reduced quite as
much, nay, more, than Irish rents since 1881? And have not the
economic causes which have lowered the prices of all farm produce all
over Europe caused the same depreciation in the value of land in
Germany or France, for instance, in the same ratio as in Ireland? And
has not the importation of dead meat from America, Australia, or New
Zealand had something to do with it?

"These facts are well known. But to return to the Irish landlords.
Does not every one who is resident in Ireland, and therefore
conversant with the state of affairs there for the last twenty or
thirty years, know that the discontent and uprising against the land
system is due to the action of a very few unjust persons, now mostly
dead, but whose names are well known to any one who really knows
Ireland, as I venture to maintain Mr. Morley does not? The principal
actors in the drama could be counted on the fingers of one hand. And
Mr. Morley, _ex uno disce omnes_, accuses the whole of the Irish
proprietors of these cruel and unjust practices which we should scorn
to be guilty of. And he is an ex-Cabinet Minister, and late Chief
Secretary for Ireland for a few months, and a very popular one he was!

"He says, again: 'Public opinion would have checked the Irish
landlords in their infatuated policy towards their tenants,' &c. He
challenges denial of these charges. Well, I deny them most
emphatically, and am quite willing to abide by the verdict of the
respectable tenants. I throw back in his face the accusation that the
Irish landlords as a body have rack-rented or plundered their tenants
or confiscated their improvements.

"Far be it from me to taunt the Irish population. No, they have been
tempted very sorely by prospects being held out to them of getting the
land for nothing, and, all things considered, it is wonderful how they
have behaved. But Mr. Morley is like many another politician who comes
to Ireland for a few months or a few weeks, and goes about the few
disturbed districts and listens to all the tales told him by
cardrivers and those very clever people who delight in gulling the
Saxon, and goes back to England, full of all sorts of horrors and
crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by landlords, and takes it all
as gospel, making no allowance for the great intelligence and
inventive genius of his informers, and says, 'Oh! I went to the place,
and saw it all.' And this he takes to represent the normal state of
the whole of Ireland, and makes it a justification of the Plan of

Take too the Irish Home Rule press, and read the floods of abuse--some
spreading out into absolute obscenity--published by the principal
papers day after day against all their political opponents, and we can
judge of the temper with which the Irish Home Rulers would administer
affairs. Of their statesmanlike provision--of their patriotism and
care for the well-being of the country at large--the local war now
ruining Tipperary is the negative proof--the damnatory evidence that
they are utterly unfit for practical power. Governed by hysterical
passion, by mad hatred and the desire for revenge, not one of the
modern leaders, save Mr. Parnell, shows the faintest trace of politic
self-control or the just estimate of proportions. To spite their
opponents they will ruin themselves and their friends, as they have
done scores of times, and are doing now in Tipperary. History holds up
its hands in horror at the French Terror--was that worse than the
system of murder and boycotting and outrage and terrorism in the
disturbed districts in Ireland? And would it be a right thing for
England to give the supreme power to these masked Couthons and
Robespierres and Marats, that they might extend their operations into
the now peaceable north, and reproduce in Ulster the tragedies of the
south and west? Mr. Parnell puts aside the tyrannous part of the
business, and cleverly throws the whole weight of his argument at
Nottingham into the passionless economic scales. All that the
Nationalist party desires, he says, "is to be allowed to develope the
resources of their own country at their own expense," "without any
harm to you (English), without any diminution of your resources,
without any risk to your credit, or call upon you," all to be done "at
our own expense and out of our own resources." Yet Mr. Parnell in
another breath describes Ireland as "a Lazarus by the wayside"--a
country "where unfortunately there is no manufacturing industry." "Ex
nihilo nihil fit," was a lesson we all learned in our school days. Mr.
Parnell has evidently forgotten his.

I will give a commentary on these brave words which is better put than
I could put it.


"Sir,--People in England, whatever political party they belong to,
should glance at what is now going on in the town of Tipperary before
finally making up their minds to hand over Ireland body and soul to
the National League. No country town in Ireland--I think I may add or
in England either--was more prosperous three months ago than
Tipperary. The centre of a rich and prosperous part of the country,
surrounded by splendid land, it had an enormous trade in butter and
all agricultural produce, and a large monthly pig and cattle fair was
held there. It possessed (I use the past tense advisedly) a number of
excellent shops, doing a splendid business, and to the eyes of those
who could look back a few years it was making rapid progress in
prosperity every year.

"All is changed now. Many of the shops are closed and deserted, others
will follow their example shortly; the butter market has been removed
from the town, the cattle fairs have fallen to half their former size.
One sees shopkeepers, but a short time back doing capital business,
walking about idle in the streets, with their shops closed; armed
policemen at every corner are necessary to prevent a savage rabble
from committing outrages, and many people avoid going near the town at
all. All this is the result of William O'Brien's speech in Tipperary
and the subsequent action of the National League. The town and whole
neighbourhood were perfectly quiet till one day Mr. O'Brien descends
on it like an evil spirit, and tells the shopkeepers and surrounding
farmers that they are to dictate to their landlords how to act in a
case not affecting them at all. For fear, however, of not sufficiently
arousing them for the cause of others, he suggests that, in addition
to dictating to the landlord what his conduct shall be elsewhere, all
his tenants, farmers and shopkeepers alike, shall demand a reduction
of 25 per cent, on their own rents. As to the farmers' reduction I
will say nothing; if they wished it, they could go into the Land
Court, and if rented too high could get a reduction, retrospectively
from the day their application was lodged. The reduction, however,
that the shopkeepers were advised--nay, ordered--to ask for must have
surprised them more than their landlord. Many of them, at their
existing rents, had piled up considerable fortunes in a few years;
others had enlarged their premises, doubled their business, and
thriven in every way; nevertheless, they had to obey. The landlord
naturally refused to be dictated to by his tenants in matters not
affecting them; he also refused to reduce the rents of men who in a
few years had made fortunes, and some of whom were commonly reputed to
be worth thousands. Legal proceedings were then commenced, and the
tenants' interests were put up to auction. Some of the most thriving
shopkeepers declined to let their tenancies, out of which they had
done so well, be sold; others, in fear of personal violence and
outrage, not unusual results of disobeying the League, did allow them
to be knocked down for nominal sums to the landlord's representative.
Let lovers of liberty and fair-play watch what followed. All the
shopkeepers who bought in their interests were rigorously boycotted;
men who had had a large weekly turnover now saw their shops absolutely
deserted. Plate-glass windows that would not have shamed Regent
Street, were smashed to atoms by hired ruffians of the League, and
the shopkeepers themselves and their families had to be protected
from the mob by armed police, placed round their houses night and day.
All this because they desired to keep their flourishing businesses,
instead of sacrificing them in a quarrel not their own.

"Let us follow still further what happened. The shopkeepers, finding
their trade quite gone, for it was almost worth a person's life to go
into their shops, watched as they were by paid spies, had to
capitulate to the League. An abject apology and a promise to let
themselves be evicted next time were the price they had to pay to be
allowed in a free country to carry on their trade. Ruin faced them
both ways. After having the ban of boycotting taken off them, with
eviction not far distant, most of them held clearance sales, at
tremendous sacrifices, so as to be prepared for moving. One man is
reputed to have got rid of seven thousand pounds' worth of goods under
these circumstances. Of the other division, who allowed their places
to be sold, most of them are now evicted. Dozens of shop assistants,
needlewomen, and others connected with the trade of a thriving town,
are thrown out of employment, and a peaceful neighbourhood has been
changed into a scene of bloodshed and violence.

"I appeal to the English people not to encourage or support a vile
system of intimidation and violence, a system which not only pursues
and ruins its enemies, but refuses to allow peaceably-inclined people
to remain neutral. A case like this should not be one of Party
politics, but should be looked upon as the cause of all who wish to
pursue their lawful vocations peaceably against those who wish to
tyrannise by terror over the community at large.

"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,


"December 12."

My private letters strengthen and confirm every word of this account;
and the following letter is again a proof of personal tyranny and
political malevolence not reassuring as qualities in the governing


"Sir,--I have received a letter from my friend Mr. Edward Phillips, of
Thurlesbeg House, Cashel, and the round, unvarnished tale that he
delivers throws more light upon Ireland than any amount of the windy
rhetoric which is so plentifully displayed on Parnellite and
Gladstonian platforms. Mr. Phillips writes as follows:--

"'I hold 270 acres from Mr. Smith-Barry at a rent of £340 under lease
and tenant-right, which, with my improvements, I valued at £1,000. The
Land League have decided, thinking to hurt Mr. Smith-Barry, that all
tenants must prepare to give up their farms by allowing themselves to
be evicted. They are clearing off everything, and because I refuse to
do this, and forfeit my £1,000, I am boycotted in the most determined
manner. I am refused the commonest necessaries of life, even medicine,
and have to get all from a distance. Blacksmiths, &c., refuse to
work, and labourers have notice to leave, but have not yet done so.

"'Heretofore people were boycotted for taking farms; I am boycotted
for not giving up mine, which I have held for 25 years. A neighbour of
mine, an Englishman, is undergoing the same treatment, and we alone.
We are the only Protestant tenants on the Cashel estate. The remainder
of the tenants, about 30, are clearing everything off their land, and
say they will allow themselves to be evicted.'

"I think this requires no comment. Public opinion is the best
protection against tyranny, and your readers can judge how far the
above narrative is consistent with the opinions expressed by Mr.
Parnell and others as to the liberty and toleration which will be
accorded to the loyal minority when the Land-National League becomes
the undisputed Government of Ireland.

"Your obedient servant,


"Clonmell, December 27th."

Again an important extract:--

"This is Mr. Parnell's language at Nottingham, but would he venture to
use the same arguments in this country? Would he enumerate clearly to
an Irish audience the countless advantages they derive from Imperial
funds and Imperial credit, and tell them that the first step to Home
Rule is the sacrifice of all these advantages? Our great system of
national education is provided out of Imperial funds to the extent of
about a million a year; so are the various institutions for the
encouragement of science and art which adorn Dublin and our other
large towns. The Baltimore School of Fishery and other technical
training places, the piers and harbours on the Irish Coast, the system
of light railways, and the draining of rivers and reclamation of waste
lands, are all supported out of the Imperial Exchequer. The Board of
Works alone has been the medium of lending almost five millions of
money on easy terms under the Land Improvement Acts in the country.
Nor have the agricultural interests been neglected. For erecting
farmhouses alone over £700,000 has been given, while immense sums have
been spent in working the Land Acts. For drainage over two millions
have been lent, and a sum of over one million has been remitted from
the debt. A debt of eight and a-half millions appears in the last
return as outstanding from the Board of Irish Public Works, besides
three millions and a-half from the corresponding board in England. In
fact, there is not a project enumerated by Mr. Parnell as necessary,
under a new _régime_, to promote the 'Nationality of Ireland,' which
is not at present being helped on by the funds or the credit of the
'alien Government.' All these national advantages the supporter of a
shadowy Home Rule bids us give up."

If ever there was a case of the spider and the fly in human affairs
this mild and perfectly equitable reasoning of Mr. Parnell is the
illustration. How about the djinn crying inside the sealed jar, and
the fate of the credulous fisherman who obeys that voice and breaks
the seal which Solomon the Wise set against him?

In writing this pamphlet I have not cared for graces of literary style
or dramatic strength of composition; and I have largely supported
myself by quotations as a proof that I am not a mere impressionist,
but have a solid back-ground and a firm foothold for all that I have
said. Judged by these extracts it would seem that, outside the right
of full communal self-government, the cry for Home Rule is either
interested and fictitious--or when sincere--save in certain splendid
exceptions, of whom Mr. Laing is the honoured chief, and the only Home
Ruler who makes me doubt the rightness of my own conversion--it is a
mere sentimental impulse shorn of practical power and working
capacity. In any case it is a one-sided thing, leaving out of court
Ulster, the integrity of the Empire, and the obligations of historic
continuity. It is a cry that has been echoed by violence and murder,
by outrage and ruin, and that has in it one overwhelming element of
weakness--exaggeration. It is the cry at its best of enthusiasts whose
ideas of human life and governmental potentialities are too generous
for every-day practice--at its worst but another word for self. For
the men who raise it and hound on these poor dupes to their own
destruction are men who would be rulers of the country in their own
persons, or members of a Gladstonian ministry, were the Home Rule
party to come to the front. With neither section does the strength,
the glory, the integrity, and the continuance of the Empire count;
and the honour of England, like the true well-being of Ireland, is
the last thing thought of by either party. The motto of the one is:
"_Fiat justitia ruat caelum_"--of the other: "_Après moi le déluge._"
The one abjures the necessities of statesmanship, the other the
self-restraints of patriotism. Surely the good, wholesome, working
principles of sound government lie with neither, but rather with the
steady continuance of things as they are--modified as occasion arises
and the needs of the case demand.


[Footnote A: Lord Hartington's statistics--and Lord Hartington is a
man whose word not his bitterest enemies have dared to question or to
doubt--are these:

1880 (No coercion)               2,585 agrarian crimes.
1881 (Partial and weak coercion) 4,439    "        "
1883 (Vigorous coercion)           834    "        "
1888 (Vigorous coercion)           660    "        "


[Footnote B: Mr. Hurlbert, a Roman Catholic, an American, and a
personal friend of Mr. Davitt--all which circumstances give a special
weight to his testimony, now borne after frequent and lengthened and
recent visits to Ireland, and after close converse with men of all
classes and of all political and religious views, says in his _Ireland
under Coercion_: "An Irish gentleman from St. Louis brought over a
considerable sum of money for the relief of distress in the north-west
of Ireland, but was induced to entrust it to the League, on the
express ground that, the more people were made to feel the pinch of
the existing order of things, the better it would be for the
revolutionary movement."--_The Irish Question_, I., 193. By Dr.

[Footnote C: Some time after the Great Famine, the Government brought
in an Act called the Encumbered Estates Act. A judge was appointed to
act as auctioneer. The income of the estate was set out in schedule
form, and a man purchased that income by competition in open court. He
got with his purchase what was supposed to be the best title then
known, commonly called "A Parliamentary title." If he wanted to sell
again, that was enough. Many years after the bargain was made by the
court, Mr. Gladstone dropped in and upset it. A friend of mind
purchased a guaranteed rental of £600 a year, subject to £300 annuity,
as well as other charges, head rent, &c., &c. Now the Government may
have been said to have pledged its honour to him, speaking by the
mouth of a judge in open court, that it was selling him £600 a year.
Surely it was a distinct breach of faith to swoop down on the
purchaser, years after, and reduce the £600 to £500 without reducing
the charges also in due proportion, or giving back one-sixth of the
purchase money. Mr. Gladstone and his party say the land was rented
too high. Does that (if true) get over the dishonesty of selling for
£600 a year what was really worth only 500? Such a transaction as that
between man and man would be actionable as a fraud. But this excuse is
not true, for when any tenant wants to sell his tenant-right he gets a
large price for it, far larger than the normal proportion to his rent.
When a nation sanctions such absolute dishonesty as this on the part
of its Prime Minister, it is not surprising that the shrewd Irish
peasant profits by the lesson and improves the example.]

[Footnote D: The following in reference to the Olphert estate
evictions under the Plan of Campaign is from the _Freeman's Journal_.
Will Mr. Spencer when exhibiting his photos, state the facts about
this case--which reason and common-sense show to be altogether in the
landlord's favour?

"Mr. Spencer, Trowbridge, England, arrived in Falcarragh to-day,
visited the scenes of the late evictions, and took photographs of
several of the demolished houses in the townland of Drumnatinny. Mr.
Spencer intends, on his return to England, to bring home to the minds
of the English people by a series of illustrative lectures, the misery
and hardships to which the Irish peasantry are subjected."]

[Footnote E: On this question of further legislation I will quote part
of a letter from a correspondent which shows the views of a singularly
able, impartial, and fair-minded Irishman. "The breaking of leases was
another risky thing to do, for it shook all faith in the sovereignty
of the law and the finality of its _dicta_. Till Mr. Gladstone made
himself the champion of the tenants and the oppressor of the
landlords, Parliament never dreamed of revising rents paid under
leases. Mr. Gladstone began by breaking these leases when held for a
certain term defined by him. But we cannot stop there now. If another
Land Bill is to be brought in by the present Government it must, to
really and finally settle matters, _break all leases_. If it stops
short of this the trouble will crop up again. If a man now with a
thirty-nine years' lease can go into the Land Court, the man with a
lease of a hundred years, or a hundred and fifty, or two hundred,
should not be shut out. This point cannot be put too strongly to this
Government. If the thing is to be done let it be done thoroughly, and
let every man who holds a lease--no matter for what term--go into the
Land Court, and also purchase under Lord Ashbourne's Act. Lord
Ashbourne's Act is the real cure if made to apply all round."]

[Footnote F: The Irish have always been cruel to animals. It is a
curious fact that most Roman Catholic peasants are. In the time of
Charles I. an Act was passed to prevent the Irish farmers from
ploughing by their oxens' tails. Even now they pluck their geese

[Footnote G: The boycott against the Great Northern Railway line
between Carrickmacross and Dundalk is now in full swing. It was begun
at Friday's fair in the former town, intimation having been given to
all dealers in cattle and pigs that not an animal was to leave by the
Great Northern line. Not a hackney car was permitted to attend the
railway station, and commercial travellers had to leave their samples
at the station. Many of the cattle and pigs purchased at the fair were
driven by road to Kingscourt, where there is a station of the Midland
Great Western Company, a local National League branch having published
a resolution recommending all goods to be sent and received _viâ_
Kingscourt. It has also been resolved to do no business with
commercial travellers from Belfast, or other parts of the North of
Ireland, whose goods had been carried over the Great Northern system.
Travellers from Scotland, England, and Dublin are only to be dealt
with under guarantees that they do not use the Great Northern line.



There has been issued by the National League in the county Waterford a
"list of objectionable persons, with whom it is expected that no true
man will have any dealings whatever"--cattle dealers, butter
merchants, grain and hay merchants, brokers, and farmers being
specially enjoined to refrain from any dealings with them, the farmers
being told that they "must carefully avoid" the sale of milk or stock
to agents of objectionable persons, and evicted tenants that they
"must deem it their strict and imperative duty to follow to the
markets all stock and produce reared upon their farms."

Look, too, at the abuse poured out on all the Government leaders and
officials. In the _Freeman's Journal_, of December 5th, is one of the
most disgraceful attacks on Mr. Balfour ever made by journalism. It
reads like a filthy outpour of a Yahoo rather than the utterance of a
sane and responsible man. Are these the minds to govern a great and
honest country?]

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