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Title: Present Irish Questions
Author: Morris, William O'Connor
Language: English
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Present Irish Questions



Publisher's Announcement

_By the Same Author_

    The Campaign of 1815: Ligny, Quatre Bras, Waterloo.

    Demy 8vo, cloth, with Maps, 12_s._ 6_d._ net.

M. Houssaye, in a letter to the author, says, "J'ai lu avec beaucoup de
plaisir votre livre sur La Campagna de 1815. C'est un excellent résumé,
copieux et critique, tres judicieux, tres précis, et tres clair."

Captain Mahan, in a letter to the author, says, "Your narrative is very
clear, and to me quite convincing."

_The Times_: "We can recommend this book as a painstaking and instructive
survey of the campaign."

_The Spectator_: "Provides what has long been wanted--a study of the
campaign by one well qualified to sift evidence dispassionately."

_Pall Mail Gazette_: "Will fill a high place in the all too scanty library
of British Military literature."

  LONDON: GRANT RICHARDS
  9 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, W.C.



  Present Irish Questions


  BY WILLIAM O'CONNOR MORRIS

  COUNTY COURT JUDGE AND CHAIRMAN OF
  QUARTER SESSIONS OF ROSCOMMON AND
  SLIGO, AND SOMETIME SCHOLAR OF
  ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD


  [Greek: Nosei de moi propas stolos, oud' eni
  phrontidos egchos hô tis alexetai.]--SOPHOCLES.

  'Blessed is the Amending Hand.'--_Old Proverb._


  London
  Grant Richards
  New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.
  1901



  I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
  A TRIBUTE OF ADMIRATION AND ESTEEM
  TO THE MARQUIS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA, K.P.
  THE MOST DISTINGUISHED IRISHMAN OF HIS TIME


  LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
  STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.



Preface


I have written much on Ireland from early youth, especially in the
_Edinburgh Review_ and the _Times_; and two works of mine, 'Ireland,
1494-1868' published in 'The Cambridge Historical Series,' and 'Ireland,
1798-1898,' have been received with more than ordinary favour. I have
ventured to think that the opinions of a veteran inquirer into Irish
affairs, with respect to 'Present Irish Questions' just now of much
importance, and certain to be ere long fully discussed in Parliament and
elsewhere, may be of some use to a younger generation, that will have to
examine and must be affected by them. I am not unaware of the cynical
remarks of Swift on the disregard shown to authors who may be said to have
had their day; and I do not pretend that, in the instance of myself, 'old
experience' has given something of a 'prophetic strain' to what is
contained in this volume. But I can say, with truth, that few living men
have had such opportunities as have fallen to my lot, during a long series
of years, to understand Ireland in its different parts, and the feelings
and sentiments of the Irish community; to form sound and moderate views on
the many and perplexing phenomena called 'Irish Questions;' to deal
reasonably with Irish political and social problems, free from the
influences of party prejudice and passion; in short, to do my subject
complete and impartial justice. How the accidents and associations of a
life already protracted beyond the ordinary span, have, as I hope, given
me these qualifications, I have explained at some length in my 'Ireland,
1798-1898;' I shall not repeat what I have already written. But Ireland
has constantly been uppermost in my thoughts; and as regards the
conclusions I have come to in these pages, I may say, with the Roman
historian, 'hæc senectuti seposui.'

The examination of 'Present Irish Questions,' in this work, shows the
views I entertain with regard to the actual condition of Ireland in its
various aspects, and to her probable future destinies. These views may be
censured as too gloomy, and even paradoxical; but Ireland remains, as she
was when Macaulay wrote of her, 'A member indeed of the Empire, but a
withered and distorted member;' the revolution which has passed, nay, is
still passing, over her, has destroyed a great deal that ought to have
been preserved, and has put little that is solid and stable in its place;
there is much that is threatening and even dangerous in her political and
social order, and in the sentiments of the mass of her community. In the
case of Ireland, indeed, as in that of any other people, I have faith in
the effect of salutary legislation on wise and just principles, and of
consistent good government steadily carried out, of both of which there
has been but too little evidence, during the last twenty years, in Irish
affairs; above all, my trust is large in the healing influences of Time.
But I have not forgotten that the vision of 'Pacata Hibernia,' which
flitted even before the majestic understanding of Bacon, three centuries
ago, has not been realised; the thoughtless optimism, which, during the
last two generations, has represented Ireland to be in a state of
continual 'progress,' nay, as 'contented and happy,' whenever she has not
been convulsed by disorder and trouble, or racked by poverty and distress,
has been completely falsified; and with nations, as with individuals, the
profound remark of Butler is true; a life of repentance often fails to
redeem the errors of the past. I proceed to indicate some at least of the
authorities which relate to the different parts of my subject. The
material condition of Ireland of late years may, perhaps, be best
ascertained by studying, over some length of time, the large body of
statistics compiled by the Government, and contained in that valuable
publication, 'Thom's Directory,' and by a perusal of the Irish debates in
Hansard. Reference, too, should be made to the important papers of Mr.
Childers, of Lord Farrer, and of Mr. Sexton in the Report of the Childers
Commission, and especially to the evidence of Sir Robert Giffen, and even
of Sir Edward Hamilton, in the Blue Books appended to that inquiry.
'England's Wealth, Ireland's Poverty,' by Thomas Lough, M.P., though a
one-sided book, also deserves attention; and useful information may be
obtained from 'The Five Years in Ireland, 1895-1900,' of Mr. Michael J. F.
McCarthy, too much a eulogy, however, of things as they are, and marked by
a spirit of aversion to, and distrust of, the Irish priesthood, which are
a characteristic of a small section of the Irish Catholics.

The sources of our knowledge respecting the moral, social, and political
state of Ireland are numerous and ample; I shall confine myself, as much
as I can, to those which relate to what may be called her recent
revolutionary period, though Irish history in the past, even in the
distant past, is anything but an 'old almanack.' This mass of evidence
faithfully represents the disturbances and the troubles that have
prevailed in Ireland, with intervals of time between, during the last
twenty years and upwards, and the fierce animosities and conflicts which
have been the consequence. Here a reader should again consult Hansard,
notably the debates on Ireland, during the agitated period from 1880 to
1889; of course he should only study the great speeches. The publications
on this subject are very many, and some of real importance; as regards
the policy and conduct of the Land, and even of the National Leagues, and
the frightful outbreak of disorder and crime which was the result, nothing
is equal in value to the Report of the Judges of the 'Special Commission,'
and to the immense body of evidence brought before them; 'The Verdict,' by
Professor Dicey, sums up well the conclusions at which they arrived. The
utterances of the so-called Irish 'Nationalist' Press, throughout these
years, fully verify the facts disclosed in the Report, and its findings;
they have, indeed, been continued in a less ferocious and violent, but in
a significant, strain ever since; a collection of them will be found in
the volumes published by the Irish Unionist Alliance. On this subject, and
also on the state of opinion existing among a large majority, probably, of
the Irish people, see 'The Continuity of the Irish Revolutionary
Movement,' by Professor Brougham Leech; 'The Truth about the Land League,'
by Mr. Arnold Foster, M.P.; 'Parnellism and Crime,' republished from the
_Times_; 'Incipient Irish Revolution,' anonymous but able; some valuable
articles on Ireland by the late Lord Grey that appeared in the _Nineteenth
Century_; 'Disturbed Ireland,' by Mr. T. W. Russell, M.P.; 'The Plan of
Campaign Illustrated;' and 'About Ireland,' by Mrs. E. Lynn Lynton. The
recent revolutionary and agrarian movements in Ireland have not found many
to vindicate them, or even fully to explain their causes; but reference
may be made to 'The Parnell Movement,' by T. P. O'Connor, M.P.; to the
'New Ireland' of Mr. A. M. Sullivan; to Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Irish Wrongs
and English Remedies;' and to a series of articles called 'Ungrateful
Ireland,' in the _Nineteenth Century_, from the pen of Sir G. Duffy. A
host of papers in quarterly, monthly, and other reviews and magazines on
the political and social condition of Ireland of late years has, also,
been published from time to time. Attempts have been made, quite recently,
to show that the troubles of Ireland have become things of the past, and
that she is a prosperous and happy land; but though real improvement has
certainly taken place, these are mere repetitions of the optimistic
fancies that have so often proved delusions.

The great question of Home Rule, 'present' if for a time postponed, was
first put forward formally by the late Isaac Butt. His 'Irish Federalism'
is a thoughtful and able treatise that ought to be studied. The speeches
in Parliament, from 1874 to 1885, on this subject, collected in Hansard,
deserve attention; notably the violent attacks on this policy made during
many years by Mr. Gladstone. Hansard, too, should be perused, after that
statesman became a convert to Home Rule, for the speeches on both sides,
on the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893; some are of marked power and
insight, though few rise to the heights of great constitutional
principles. Mr. Gladstone's defence of his sudden change of front will be
found in his 'History of an Idea,' a tract published soon after his defeat
at the polls in 1886; he has endeavoured to vindicate his later Irish
policy, in many pamphlets and speeches, in volumes collected by himself.
For a masterly examination of his public conduct on matters relating to
Ireland, and in some other passages in his career, I would especially
direct the reader to the 'Memoirs of the late Lord Selborne,' part ii.
vol. ii. pp. 339-360; Mr. Lecky's brilliant sketch in his 'Democracy and
Liberty,' Cabinet Edition, Introduction, pp. 19-56, is a composition of
rare excellence. Nothing is to be compared to Professor Dicey's 'England's
Case against Home Rule,' and his 'Leap in the Dark,' for a thorough
investigation, from the Unionist point of view, of the natural and the
probable consequences of the Gladstonian Irish policy, and for an analysis
of the two Home Rule Bills; few political works have attracted equal
attention. There have also been many publications, on the side of the
Union, of more or less merit; see 'Home Rule,' reprinted from the _Times_,
containing several very able letters and papers; 'The Truth about Home
Rule;' 'A Sketch of Unionist Policy;' and a number of articles in the
_Edinburgh_ and the _Quarterly Review_, and in other reviews and
magazines. The publications which advocate Home Rule have not been
numerous; a reader may consult the 'Hand Book of Home Rule,' edited by Mr.
Bryce, M.P.; 'Irish Members and English Gaolers,' and 'Combination and
Coercion,' by Mr. Shaw-Lefevre; and some contributions to a few reviews
and other serials.

The 'Present Question' of the Irish land, and of Irish landed relations,
goes back to even remote antiquity, and is connected with the whole course
of Irish history. The characteristics and peculiarities of tribal land
tenure in Ireland, before the Anglo-Norman Conquest, have been admirably
explained in Sir Henry Maine's 'Early History of Institutions,' a very
valuable work. I may refer to an article on this book, from my pen, in the
_Edinburgh Review_ of July, 1875. See, also, the 'Senchus Mor,' and the
'Book of Aicile,' fragments of the Brehon Laws, well annotated by the late
Professor Richey. The state of the Irish land, from the Anglo-Norman
Conquest to the beginning of the Tudor period, has been fully illustrated
in the 'Statute of Kilkenny,' edited by James Hardiman, whose learned
commentary is useful and important; in the 'Discovery' of Sir John Davies;
in Spenser's 'View of the State of Ireland;' in the 'O'Conors of
Connaught,' by the O'Conor Don; in Hallam's 'Constitutional History,' vol.
iii. chapter on Ireland; and in Professor Richey's 'Lectures.' I have
glanced at the state of Irish land tenure during the tribal and the feudal
ages, in the introductory chapters to my 'Ireland, 1494-1868,' in the
'Cambridge Historical Series.' The most complete account, perhaps, of the
confiscations of the Irish land, from the reign of Henry VIII. to that of
Charles I., will be found in the 'Carew Papers,' edited by J. S. Brewer
and William Bullen; valuable information abounds in the 'State Papers
relating to the reign of Henry VIII.,' edited by Hans Claude Hamilton; in
'The Life of Sir John Perrott and his Letters;' in the 'Earls of Kildare,'
edited by the Marquis of Kildare; in the 'State Papers,' edited by
Hamilton, _ante_, 'relating to the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, and
Elizabeth;' in the 'Annals of the Four Masters;' and see Davies and
Spenser, _ante_. Several modern writers have treated this subject in their
narratives of Irish history; Froude's 'History of England,' vol. ii. ch.
viii.; vol. iv. ch. xix.; vol. v. ch. xxviii.; vol. viii. chs. vii.-xi.;
vol. x. ch. xxiv.; vol. xi. ch. xxvii., may be consulted; but a reader
should be put on his guard against the brilliant but partisan historian.
There is a valuable chapter also, in a very different work, Mr. Lecky's
'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' vol. ii. ch. vi. pp. 92
_seqq._; and a great deal may be learned from the 'O'Conors of Connaught,'
and Richey's 'Lectures,' _ante_; and especially from an 'Historical
Account of the Plantation of Ulster,' by the Rev. George Hill, and from
Sigerson's 'History of Irish Land Tenure.' In the momentous period of
confiscation, from the beginning of the reign of Charles I. to that of
William III., a reader should study 'Strafford's Letters;' Carte's 'Life
of Ormond;' Lord Clanricarde's 'Memoirs;' the 'Letters of Cromwell,'
edited by Carlyle; the 'Acts of Settlement and Explanation;' the 'Articles
of the Treaty of Limerick;' Sir William Petty's 'Political Anatomy of
Ireland;' 'Macariæ Excidium;' and the Abbe MacGeoghegan's 'History of
Ireland.' The modern authorities on this period are numerous and some of
great value; see Gardiner's 'History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate'
(the Irish chapters), notably vol. iii. ch. xliv.; 'The Cromwellian
Settlement of Ireland,' by John P. Prendergast; 'The Life of Sir William
Petty,' by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, with an article by me in the
_Edinburgh Review_ of July, 1895; 'The Patriot Parliament,' by Thomas
Davis; Macaulay's 'History of England' (the Irish chapters), vol. iv. ch.
xxii.; vol. v. ch. xiv.-xvi.; vol. vi. ch. xvii.; and Mr. Lecky's
'History,' _ante_, vol. ii. ch. ix. Many instructive and philosophic
passages on all these confiscations and their results, will be found
scattered among the writings of Burke; they are admirable.

The era of violent confiscation closed with the reign of William III.; the
modern history of the Irish land system begins from this period. For an
account of the penal code, as it affected Irish landed relations,
reference may be made to Vincent Scully, 'On the Penal Laws;' to Howard's
'Popery Cases;' and especially to Burke's 'Tracts on the Popery Laws.'
Much, too, can be gathered from Curry's 'State of the Irish Catholics;'
from Primate Boulter's and Archbishop Synge's 'Letters;' from the writings
on Ireland of Swift and Berkeley; and from various passages in the 'Works
and Correspondence of Burke.' For the state of the Irish land from the
beginning of the reign of George III. to the Rebellion of 1798, study the
celebrated 'Tour' of Arthur Young, written in 1776-78; Crumpe's 'Essay;'
an admirable sketch by Mr. Lecky in his 'History,' _ante_, vol. vii. ch.
xxvii.; and Sir George Lewis on 'Irish Disturbances,' a book which gives
an account of the rise and progress of the Whiteboy movement, and carries
the narrative down to 1836. Froude has illustrated this subject very
skilfully in his 'Two Chiefs of Dunboy;' but his account, in his 'The
English in Ireland,' is very inaccurate and one-sided. The nature of Irish
landed relations during the troubled period before the Union is fully
explained in many passages of Mr. Lecky's 'History,' _ante_, vols. vii.
and viii.; and the reader should peruse Lord Clare's speech in the Irish
House of Lords during the debates on the Union. From the Union to the
present time, the authorities on the Irish land system are very numerous;
it is not easy to make compendious selection. For the period of the Great
War, Edward Wakefield's 'Account of Ireland' is valuable, and so is, for
the immediately subsequent period, the evidence on the state of Ireland
taken by a Committee of the House of Commons in 1825. The nature and the
characteristics of the Irish land system, in 1843-44, are fully explained
and commented upon in the well-known Report of the Devon Commission, and
the voluminous evidence; and for the revolution wrought in the Irish land
by the Famine of 1845-47, see the 'Irish Crisis,' by Sir Charles
Trevelyan, republished from the _Edinburgh Review_; and a 'History of the
Great Irish Famine,' by the Rev. John O'Rorke. Much information, too, on
the subject, as a whole, may be obtained from 'L'Irlande, Sociale,
Politique, et Religieuse,' of Gustave de Beaumont; from 'Ireland from the
Treaty of Limerick to 1851,' by John Mitchell; from parts of 'Two
Centuries of Irish History,' edited by James Bryce, M.P.; from several
'Reports' of the Loyal National Repeal Association; and from parts of Mr.
Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland,' and 'Irish Wrongs
and English Remedies.'

The Irish land question has given birth to a literature of its own in the
last half-century; legislation on the Irish land system has been
extraordinarily active. With respect to the first, reference may be made
to 'Two Centuries of Irish History,' _ante_, and to Mr. Barry O'Brien's
works, _ante_; to 'Emigration and the Tenure of Irish Land,' by Lord
Dufferin; to John Stuart Mill's 'The Irish Land Question;' to 'The Irish
People and the Irish Land,' by Butt; to Sir George Campbell's 'The Irish
Land,' a very good little book; to Judge Longfield's essay on the Irish
land in 'Systems of Land Tenure;' and to my own 'Letters on the Land
Question of Ireland,' republished from the _Times_. I am happy to think
that, on this subject, I have always 'pitched my Whiggery low;' my first
essay was on the Encumbered Estates Act; when fresh from Oxford I
condemned that scheme of confiscation as unequivocally as, in the present
and other works, I have condemned Irish agrarian legislation since
1880-81. Other books contain passages on the Irish land system that may be
read with profit; see the 'Recollections and Suggestions' of Earl Russell;
'Ireland in 1868,' by Gerald Fitzgibbon; 'Ireland,' by Lord Grey;
'Journals, Conversations, and Essays relating to Ireland,' by Nassau
Senior; and 'New Views on Ireland,' by Lord Russell of Killowen. As
regards recent legislation on the Irish Land, from 1870 to 1896, the Acts
passed by Parliament must of course be studied, and also the important
debates reported in Hansard. Butt wrote a very able volume on the Land Act
of 1870; I contributed a short treatise; an exhaustive and technical work
of great value, on all the Irish Land Acts, has been produced by Messrs.
Cherry and Wakely; this, with the Irish Reports, supplies ample
professional, and even general, information. With respect to the
administration of the Irish Land Acts, see the Report of the Committee of
the House of Lords, and the evidence published in 1872; the Report of, and
the evidence collected by, the Bessborough Commission of 1880-81; the
Report of a Committee of the House of Lords on the working of the Land Act
of 1881, published, with the evidence, in 1882; the Report, with the
evidence, of the Cowper Commission, 1888-89; the Report, with the
evidence, of the Morley Commission, 1894-1895; and, especially, the Report
of Sir Edward Fry's Commission of 1897, with the important evidence it has
put together. Mr. Lecky, in his 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. ch. ii.,
has criticised, almost as severely as I have done, recent Irish agrarian
legislation; no serious defence of it has ever been made or attempted.

To understand the real state of the financial relations between Great
Britain and Ireland, it is necessary to go back to the times of the Union;
those who resist the Irish demand avoid an appeal to history. The debates
in the Irish Parliament in 1800 should be carefully studied, especially
the speeches of Castlereagh, Grattan, and Foster. The Seventh Article of
the Treaty of Union, set forth in this work, should also be diligently
scanned and perused. See, too, the debates in the Imperial Parliament in
1816; the resolutions passed by the House of Commons in that year; and the
Act abolishing the separate Exchequer of Ireland. Reference, moreover,
should be made to the evidence taken before General Dunne's Committee in
1864, in which sophistry triumphed for the moment over truth. All these
sources of information, however, are scanty and imperfect compared to the
celebrated Report of the Childers Commission, with the valuable evidence
annexed to it; this for the first time completely brings out the whole
facts on the subject. The debates in Hansard on the financial claims of
Ireland may also be looked at; but they are not of peculiar importance;
the same remark applies to nearly all the articles in reviews, magazines,
and journals, in which endeavours have been made to answer the Report. I
may be allowed to say that I have some claim to have a distinct opinion in
this matter; when still quite a boy I often heard my grand-uncle, the late
Sir John Newport, one of the ablest and last of the Chancellors of the
Irish Exchequer, condemn the financial treatment of Ireland from 1800
onwards; many years afterwards I was intimately acquainted with several of
the independent Irish gentlemen, survivors of the great school of Grattan,
who protested against Mr. Gladstone's fiscal Irish measures from 1853 to a
later date; Butt and Judge Longfield, both very able economists, fully
concurred. With respect to local government and administration in Ireland,
see Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland,' vol. i.
books iv. and v.; the Report of the Commissioners on Irish Corporate
Reform issued in 1833-34, and the Irish Municipal Corporation Reform Act
of 1840; the Irish Towns Commissioners Acts; a report made by Mr. W. P.
O'Brien in 1878; a good treatise by Mr. Bailey published in 1888; and the
recent Irish Local Government Act of 1898, with the debates in Hansard on
this measure, should be perused. The authorities on Irish education of all
kinds are numerous, and some valuable. Froude has glanced at the subject,
with characteristic unfairness, in his 'The English in Ireland;' the
refutation of Mr. Lecky, in his 'England in the Eighteenth Century,' is
complete. A good description of education in Ireland, in all its branches,
as it existed in 1812, will be found in Edward Wakefield's 'Account of
Ireland,' vol. ii. ch. xxiv.; another in Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years
of Concessions to Ireland,' vol. i. book i.; vol ii. book x.; the author
brings the narrative down to 1881. As regards high education in Ireland,
reference may be made to 'The History of the University of Dublin,' by the
Rev. W. Stubbs; to 'The Constitutional History of the University of
Dublin,' by D. C. Heron; to the Report of Archbishop Whateley's
Commission, in 1853, on the University of Dublin; to Mr. Gladstone's Irish
University Bill of 1873, and the able debates on the subject in Trinity
College and the House of Commons; to Mr. Fawcett's Act of 1873; to a
masterly pamphlet by Butt, on the whole question, published in 1875; and
to the 'Irish University Question,' by Archbishop Walsh, with recent
debates in Parliament on Irish University reform. For the nature,
constitution, and working of the Queen's Colleges and the Queen's
University, see the debates in Parliament when Peel introduced this
policy; many Reports; the work of Archbishop Walsh, _ante_; and the Act
creating the Royal University in Ireland may be examined. As regards
primary and secondary education in Ireland, see the Reports of the
Education Commissioners from 1810 to 1825; the Reports of the National
Education Board; the Reports of the Kildare, Rosse, and Powis
Commissions, noticed in this work; and Mr. Godkin's 'Education in
Ireland.' An excellent synopsis of the subject, as a whole, will be found
in 'The Educational Systems of Great Britain and Ireland,' by Mr. Graham
Balfour.

WILLIAM O'CONNOR MORRIS.

  GARTNAMONA, TULLAMORE,
    _14th May, 1901_.



Contents


                                                                     PAGES

  CHAPTER I

  IRELAND IN 1901

    Ireland has passed through a revolution in the Victorian
    age--Material progress--Dublin--Belfast--Improvement in
    Catholic places of worship and in the habitations of the
    people--State of the Irish community--Symptoms of
    retrogression--Decline of agriculture--The progress of Ireland
    Ireland much less than that of England and Scotland, and
    why--State of the Irish land system--Recent legislation has
    done some good, but it has been unjust, and has had pernicious
    effects--Ireland divided into three peoples--Notwithstanding
    great reforms Catholic Ireland is still, in the main,
    disaffected--Presbyterian Ireland--Cry for the confiscation of
    the Irish land--Protestant Ireland--Fall of its old
    ascendency--Discontent among the landed gentry--Nature of the
    government of Ireland by the Imperial Parliament--Its merits
    and defects--Attitude of the greater part of Ireland towards
    it--The administration of Irish affairs--The bureaucracy of
    the Castle--The Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic Irish
    Churches--The administration of justice in Ireland--Irish
    literature and public opinion--General survey of the present
    state of Ireland--Irish policy of Lord Salisbury's
    Ministry--'Present Irish Questions' to be discussed in this
    work                                                              1-38


  CHAPTER II

  THE QUESTION OF HOME RULE

    The question of Home Rule not extinct--The reasons--Butt's
    scheme of Home Rule--It is denounced and ridiculed by Mr.
    Gladstone, and defeated in the House of Commons--Death of
    Butt--The Home Rule movement becomes allied with a foreign
    conspiracy--Davitt and Parnell--The Land League--Mr.
    Gladstone's surrender to it--The movement makes no progress
    in the Parliament of 1880-85--The General Election of
    1885--Mr. Gladstone suddenly adopts the policy of Home
    Rule--The probable reasons--The Home Rule Bill of 1886--Its
    nature and tendencies--Decisive objections to the
    measure--It is rejected at the General Election of 1886,
    having been previously rejected in the House of Commons--
    Policy and conduct of Mr. Gladstone--The Home Rule movement
    makes some progress in England, and why--The Home Rule Bill
    of 1893--It is much worse than that of 1886--The reasons--It
    is rejected by the House of Lords--Home Rule under different
    forms--The Union must be maintained--Proposal that Parliament
    should occasionally sit in Dublin--The over-representation
    of Ireland should be redressed                                   39-83


  CHAPTER III

  THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND--SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE
  LAND SYSTEM OF IRELAND TO THE YEAR 1870

    Great importance in the history of Ireland of the conditions
    of land tenure--The ancient Celtic land system and its
    characteristics--The Norman conquest of Ireland--Norman
    feudalism in the Irish land--The policy of Henry VII., and
    especially of Henry VIII.--The era of the conquest and
    confiscation of the Irish land--The possessions of the
    O'Connors of Offaly wrested from them--Forfeiture of the
    domains of Shane O'Neill, and of the Earl of Desmond--Attempts
    at colonisation--All Ireland made shire land--The extinction
    of the old Celtic land system--The Plantation of Ulster--
    Progress of confiscation during the reigns of the two first
    Stuarts--The Civil War--Immense confiscations made by
    Cromwell--His scheme of colonisation a failure--The era of
    confiscation closes after the battle of the Boyne and the fall
    of Limerick--The Penal Code of Ireland--Its fatal effects on
    the Irish land--Dismal period in Irish landed relations--
    Gradual improvement--The period described by Arthur Young--
    Evil traces of the past remain--Whiteboyism and agrarian
    disorder--State of Irish landed relations up to the rebellion
    of 1798, and after the Union--Over-population and the
    results--Distress after the Peace--State of Irish landed
    relations up to 1844--The Report of the Devon Commission--The
    Famine and its effects on the Irish land--The Encumbered
    Estates Acts--State of Irish landed relations from 1848 to
    1868                                                            84-129


  CHAPTER IV

  THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--THE IRISH LAND
  ACT OF 1870--THE LAND LEAGUE AND THE NATIONAL LEAGUE--THE LAND
  ACT OF 1881--SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION AS REGARDS THE LAND SYSTEM
  OF IRELAND

    State of landed relations in Ireland in 1869-70--Mr. Gladstone
    Prime Minister--The Land Act of 1870--Its merits and defects--
    A short period of prosperity in Ireland--Ominous symptoms--
    Michael Davitt--The teaching of John Finton Lalor in 1848--The
    'New Departure' in Fenianism arranged in America--Foundation
    of the Land League--It was a foreign rebellious conspiracy,
    with an agrarian side, under a constitutional mask--Parnell
    the master spirit of the League--His visit to America and the
    results--A short period of distress in Ireland--Conduct of the
    Irish landlords--Progress of the Land League--Mr. Gladstone
    again Prime Minister in 1880--The Compensation for Disturbance
    Bill rejected by the House of Lords--Outburst of agrarian
    crime, as the Land League increases in power--Rents at
    Griffith's valuation--Boycotting--Frightful state of Ireland
    in 1881--After a short attempt to repress it, Mr. Gladstone
    surrenders to the Land League--The Land Act of 1881--Mr.
    Gladstone breaks the pledges he had made in 1870--His promise
    of compensating the Irish landlords--The Land Act of 1881 a
    bad and unjust measure directly inconsistent with that of
    1870--The 'No Rent Manifesto'--The Kilmainham Treaty--The
    Phoenix Park tragedy--Coercion--Parnell founds the National
    League, the successor of the Land League--Renewal of agitation
    in 1886--Struggle with law and the Government--Subsequent
    agrarian legislation for Ireland--This is really a concession
    to agitation, for the benefit of Irish tenants, and to the
    injury of Irish landlords                                      130-187


  CHAPTER V

  THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--THE ADMINISTRATION
  OF THE IRISH LAND ACTS

    The administration of the Land Act of 1870 in the main
    good--Difficulty about claims for tenants' improvements--The
    administration of the Land Act of 1881, and of its
    supplements--The Land Commission and its Sub-Commissions--
    Allowances to be made for these tribunals--Principles which
    the Land Commission should have adopted in fixing 'fair
    rents'--The procedure and practice it ought to have
    established--It made mistakes as to both--The nature of the
    Sub-Commission Courts--This was objectionable in the highest
    degree--These Courts have, however unconsciously, done grave
    wrong to Irish landlords--Causes of this--Characteristics of
    their proceedings--They disregarded the principles they
    ought to have followed, and adopted faulty and erroneous
    methods--Different illustrations of these grave mistakes--
    The Land Commission and appeals as to 'fair rent'--Importance
    of this subject--Faulty procedure of the Land Commission in
    appeals--Valuers--The second Land Commission--Its procedure
    worse than that of the first--Theory of occupation right--
    This another wrong done to landlords--The Fry Commission and
    its report--Confiscation of the property of Irish
    landlords--The proofs of this--Apologies made for the Land
    Commission--The administration of the Land Purchase Acts       188-229


  CHAPTER VI

  THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--PROPOSED REFORM
  OF THE IRISH LAND SYSTEM

    Retrospect of the present Irish land system--Position of the
    Irish landlords--Position of the Irish tenant class--This
    not as advantageous as might be supposed--The effects of the
    land code on Irish agriculture injurious--The effects on the
    general Irish community--Confiscation, violation of
    contracts, shock given to credit, increased alienation of
    classes, and demoralisation--The land system considered on
    the side of ownership--'Voluntary purchase'--Mischief of
    this policy--It sets up a false standard against rent, and
    creates unjust distinctions between different classes of
    tenants--The results it has produced already--An instance of
    the system--The demand for the compulsory purchase of the
    Irish land caused by 'voluntary purchase'--Compulsory
    purchase has some hold on opinion, but is an impossible, and
    would be a disgraceful and ruinous policy--It would ruin
    Irish landlords as a class--Instances--It would ultimately
    bring Ireland into the state in which she was before the
    Great Famine--Proposed plan for the reform of Irish land
    tenure--Questions as to the means of compensating Irish
    landlords, a deeply wronged order of men                       230-270


  CHAPTER VII

  THE QUESTION OF THE FINANCIAL RELATIONS BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN
  AND IRELAND

    The subject briefly considered--Financial position of
    Ireland before 1782, and under Grattan's Parliament--Her
    taxation and debt small before 1798--Ireland financially a
    distinct country--At the Union, Pitt wished to 'assimilate
    her in finance' with Great Britain, but this impossible, and
    why--Ireland's contribution after the Union--This was
    unjust, but it left her financially a distinct country--
    Ireland made nearly bankrupt--The compromise of 1816--The
    Irish Exchequer closed, and the Irish and British debts
    consolidated--The object of the compromise was rather to
    relieve Ireland from her burdens than to assimilate her in
    finance with Great Britain--She still remained for many
    years financially distinct from Great Britain, and is so
    still to some extent--The conduct of Peel a striking proof
    of this--Mr. Gladstone imposes the income tax on Ireland,
    and her spirit duties are largely raised--Injustice of this
    policy--The Committee of 1863-64--Ireland does not obtain
    financial justice--The Report of the Childers Commission
    made upon a reference by Mr. Gladstone following Mr.
    Goschen--The Commission declares that Ireland has been
    greatly overtaxed for many years--Evidence on which it has
    founded this conclusion--Examination of arguments to the
    contrary--Another Commission promised, but the promise not
    fulfilled--Importance of settling this question                271-308


  CHAPTER VIII

  THE QUESTIONS OF IRISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION--OTHER
  QUESTIONS--CONCLUSION

    Irish county government--The grand jury system in the
    eighteenth century--Its merits and defects--The grand jury
    system in the nineteenth century, and especially since
    1836--The Irish poor law system--Elected and _ex-officio_
    guardians--The local government of cities and towns in
    Ireland--Municipal institutions founded in Ireland by the
    Norman kings--Why they did not prosper--Boroughs and
    municipalities founded by James I. and the Stuarts--Their
    condition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--The
    Municipal Reform Act of 1840--The Towns Commissioners
    Acts--Attempts to reform the municipal system of local
    government in Ireland--The Local Government of Ireland Act,
    1898--Complete change in Irish local government--The County
    Councils--The County Borough Councils--The District, Rural,
    and the Urban District Councils--Their functions, rights,
    and duties--All these bodies placed on a democratic basis--
    Attitude of the County Councils in the southern provinces--
    Education in Ireland--History of primary education--The
    National system of education--The principles on which it is
    founded--How it has worked, and what its results have
    been--Secondary education in Ireland--Its history--Its
    present condition very imperfect--The Intermediate
    Education Act--University education in Ireland--Its
    history--Trinity College--The Queen's Colleges and the
    Queen's University founded by Peel--Their comparative
    failure--Mr. Gladstone's Bill to reform University education
    in Ireland--Its glaring errors and failures--Trinity College
    thrown open in 1873--The Royal University founded in 1879--
    Present state of University education in Ireland--The true
    principles of reform--Other Irish questions--Conclusion        309-360

  APPENDIX        361-428

  INDEX            429



Present Irish Questions



CHAPTER I

IRELAND IN 1901

    Ireland has passed through a revolution in the Victorian age--Material
    progress--Dublin--Belfast--Improvement in Catholic places of worship
    and in the habitations of the people--State of the Irish
    community--Symptoms of retrogression--Decline of agriculture--The
    progress of Ireland much less than that of England and Scotland, and
    why--State of the Irish land system--Recent legislation has done some
    good, but it has been unjust, and has had pernicious effects--Ireland
    divided into three peoples--Notwithstanding great reforms Catholic
    Ireland is still, in the main, disaffected--Presbyterian Ireland--Cry
    for the confiscation of the Irish land--Protestant Ireland--Fall of
    its old ascendency--Discontent among the landed gentry--Nature of the
    government of Ireland by the Imperial Parliament--Its merits and
    defects--Attitude of the greater part of Ireland towards it--The
    administration of Irish affairs--The bureaucracy of the Castle--The
    Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic Irish Churches--The
    administration of justice in Ireland--Irish literature and public
    opinion--General survey of the present state of Ireland--Irish policy
    of Lord Salisbury's ministry--'Present Irish Questions' to be
    discussed in this work.


To understand thoroughly the Ireland of the present day, it is necessary
to have studied her history in the past. Nevertheless, if we go back to a
comparatively recent period, say to the beginning of the reign of
Victoria, we can obtain a reasonably clear idea of her existing
condition. A revolution has passed over her in this space of time almost
as complete as the revolution which has transformed France; the results
have not yet been fully developed, but in nearly all respects they have
been immense. The community has, for the most part, made material
progress; but this has been far from great or decisive; it has been
interrupted by seasons of distress, one culminating in a dire catastrophe,
and has been retarded by many causes of trouble. Taking the external
aspect of Ireland first, Dublin has certainly advanced in the last sixty
years; the capital has been surrounded by fine and increasing suburbs; the
squares, the streets, the shops have improved; above all, though much
remains yet to be done, the contrast between the dwellings of the rich and
the poor is much less painful than it was within living memory. No city,
however, has made such progress as Belfast: its population, which, in
1841, was not more than 75,000 souls, was, in 1891, upwards of 255,000;[1]
its opulence has probably grown tenfold; it is the centre of the great
manufacture of Ulster; its building-yards are renowned for its magnificent
ships; its estuary is crowded with the thronging fleets of commerce. The
towns dependent on it, too, and the whole adjoining region, are
flourishing from the great trade in linen, which has been aggregated
within a comparatively small space; indeed, this prosperity has extended
over all the north-east of Ireland, and Londonderry has long been a
thriving seaport. Few of the towns of the rest of Ulster and of the
southern provinces have improved; but signs of augmented wealth appear in
other directions; in this respect they are striking in the extreme. The
places of worship and the religious houses of the Catholic Church of
Ireland have been transformed; the mean 'chapels' of the past have largely
disappeared; most parishes have a suitable church; fine cathedrals
dominate many towns; we often admire monasteries and convents in
architectural splendour. The most remarkable phenomenon, however, of this
description is the great and fortunate change which has taken place in the
habitations of the community throughout the country. The dense and
wretched hovels which, sixty years ago, barely sheltered the millions of
Irish indigence, if still too frequent, have been, for the most part,
effaced; the houses of the better class have greatly increased in numbers,
though the population has enormously declined.[2] And the face of the
landscape in most counties bears witness, on the whole, to a still
perceptible progress. The chief industry of Ireland, indeed, as I shall
show afterwards, has certainly retrograded within the last twenty years;
her agricultural area and resources have much diminished. The advance,
too, which, from about 1853 to 1876, was manifest and rapid in most of her
rural districts, has been, to a considerable extent, checked; capital has,
for some time, been avoiding her soil. But if the process was stern, nay,
appalling, the land has, within the last half century, been thrown open to
husbandry, infinitely better and more fruitful than had existed before;
the exertions which were made, for a long space of time, to improve
cultivation have left far-spreading traces; we still behold the beneficent
results. The land over the greater part of its surface is not 'puckered
up' in thousands of squalid patches, the holdings of masses of cottar
paupers; it has been made more available for real farming; and it has been
largely drained, enclosed, and covered with woodland--at least, up to a
recent period.

The material condition of the Irish community has, also, improved since
the late Queen ascended the throne. This, no doubt, is to be largely
ascribed to the effects of the great Famine of 1845-47, and of the immense
emigration that followed in its train. The resources of Ireland, before
that calamity, were unable to support, in anything like comfort, the
teeming multitudes crowded on her soil; an official report, made in 1838,
proved that two millions and a half of the poor in Ireland were for months
in the year on the brink of starvation; this huge mass of indigence, which
forced up rent, beat down wages, and was most injurious to good husbandry,
was almost incompatible with real social progress. The great and
continuing exodus of the Irish race, which has gone on for more than half
a century, has not been without untoward results; but it has relieved the
country from a destructive incubus; and this has certainly wrought a
beneficent change, though the population has declined from about eight
millions in 1837 to about four and a half millions in 1895.[3] Ireland,
indeed, is still, mainly, a poor country--in some districts she is
exceedingly poor; but the disappearance of overwhelmingly redundant
millions has enabled her to maintain the millions that have remained much
better than of old, and has distinctly raised the standard of living among
all the humbler classes. The wages of agricultural labour, seldom more
than six or seven shillings a week before the Famine, and then paid in
potatoes by a vile truck system, have risen to ten and even twelve
shillings, usually paid in cash; and they have not fallen, though Irish
agriculture is very far from prosperous. The wages of the higher kinds of
labour have also greatly increased; this is apparent in nearly all trades,
and is especially apparent in the trades of Ulster. At the same time, the
potato has long ceased to be the sole food of the poor; their dwellings,
though still too often mean and bad, are infinitely better than they once
were; their attire, and even their appearance, has greatly improved. I do
not think, indeed, that O'Connell's description of the peasantry of
Munster in 1825 could now be fairly applied to even the worst parts of
Ireland, the impoverished tracts on the seacoast of Connaught: 'They have
no clothes to change, they have none but what they wear at the moment....
Their food consists of potatoes and water during the greater part of the
year; potatoes and sour milk during another portion; they use some salt
with their potatoes when they have nothing but water.'[4] There is
evidence, also, that, even of late years, the wealth of Ireland has, in
some measure, increased, especially in the middle and lower middle
classes. The landed gentry, indeed, owing partly to the effects of Free
Trade, and partly to those of legislation I shall describe afterwards,
have been impoverished in many instances, and in many ruined; and the
Irish tenant farmer, if gorged by the spoil of his landlord, has not
gained all that an agrarian revolution was expected to give him. But the
commerce of Ireland has made progress, within the last two decades, if
this has not been by any means great; and though the capital she holds in
the best securities has perceptibly diminished of late years, there has
been a very large increase in most kinds of other investments.[5]

This picture of Ireland, however, has dark features; her welfare has been,
at best, partial; considerable deductions must be made from it. The
progress of the capital, as has been the case in London, is largely to be
ascribed to the depletion of many country districts, a change that has
been going on for a long period, and has been accelerated by the decline
of the landed gentry in wealth. The enormous advance of Belfast, and of
the adjoining neighbourhood, has been, to a great extent, caused by the
concentration of the linen manufacture within a small area; the hand-loom
has disappeared from Ireland; this has been injurious to many petty towns
and villages. The population and the trade of nearly all the chief towns
in the southern provinces have diminished; Cork, with its immense natural
advantages, has not prospered; Limerick and, notably, Galway are in decay;
most of the inland towns show few signs of improvement; the outskirts of
almost all are defaced by lines of ruined hovels, the wrecks of abodes a
dwindling tale of indwellers has left. Many of these urban centres were,
sixty years ago, seats of manufactures and of other industries, which, to
a certain extent, were flourishing; but these sources of wealth have, for
the most part, been dried up; they have been blotted out by the gigantic
manufactures of England and Scotland poured into Ireland, everywhere,
within a few hours, by steam. The collapse, indeed, of Irish manufactures
in the last half century has been striking and mournful; 696,000 persons
were employed in textile and dyeing industries in 1841; in 1881 there were
only 130,000; and though the growth of machinery may in part account for
this difference, it assuredly cannot fully explain it.[6] The same remark
applies to Irish fishing industry; the small craft which once swarmed
along the coast, and, rearing a breed of hardy mariners, gathered in the
prolific harvests of the sea, have been vanishing year after year; in
1867, 9332 boats, and 38,444 men and boys were engaged in this calling;
the numbers were 5646 and 21,940 in 1891.[7] Turning to the face of the
country, agriculture, we have seen, has improved, if we look back to the
period before the Famine; but it is still centuries behind that of England
and Scotland, and of late years it has markedly declined. It is not only
that the prices of agricultural produce are much less than they were, in
the last generation, and that its total value has fallen from £97,885,000
in 1851-55, to £88,955,000 in 1889-93.[8] The agricultural area of Ireland
has diminished from 1879 to 1899 by rather more than 400,000 acres;[9] and
it is absolutely certain that within these decreasing limits, as I shall
point out in subsequent chapters, agriculture has made little or no
progress, and in some districts has distinctly become worse; we see the
results of the vicious legislation of the last twenty years in
deteriorated farms, in hundreds of cases, in a most injurious neglect of
arterial drainage, and in the destruction of thousands of acres of
woodland. And the ruin which has overtaken many of the landed gentry has
been made only too manifest in the desolate aspect of scores of country
seats, once happy homes, that now know their owners no more.

It must be borne in mind, too, as we examine the present state of Ireland,
that if, on the whole, she has made some progress, she is still, as I have
said, a poor country, and that a considerable part of Connaught, her
western province, has, for years, been in so poor a condition, that the
Government of late has laudably made a great effort to raise it out of the
depths of indigence. Other considerations, moreover, must be taken into
account, if we would form a just conclusion as to the material position
of Ireland, and, especially, as to her material prospects. The reduction
of her population, up to a certain point, was an essential condition of
her social progress; but that limit appears to have been far surpassed;
this continuous decline, during more than half a century, has become an
ominous symptom. More than 3,700,000 of souls have emigrated from Ireland
since 1851;[10] and this number does not include the masses which fled
from the catastrophe of 1845-47. This immense drain on the life of a
nation has, for years, had a pernicious effect; in large parts of the
country labourers have become so scarce that it is often difficult to save
the harvest, which should be quickly gathered in, in a wet climate; and
hands are wanting to industry in many places. Emigration, too, has taken
away the best part of the people, men and women in the flower of
existence; the reproductive power of the community has, accordingly,
declined; the birth-rate of Ireland is less than it was; infirmity,
disease, and, notably, insanity have increased; the population of the
towns is seldom active and thriving.[11] At the same time, the taxation of
Ireland has become many degrees more excessive in the last sixty years;
the local rates have advanced from about £1,000,000 to nearly £4,000,000;
the general taxation has been well-nigh doubled; and a tribunal of the
very highest authority has recently declared that Ireland is immensely
overtaxed, and has been for upwards of forty years. Nor can there be a
real question but that large interests connected with the land have
suffered greatly in the period that has now extended from 1878-79. It is
unnecessary to refer to the condition of the landed gentry; I shall notice
it at some length afterwards; but, much as the Irish people dislike the
Poor-law, pauperism has distinctly increased during the last ten years,
though the population has fallen off in numbers, and the charge of
pauperism shows a corresponding increase.[12] The Income Tax returns, too,
as regards the land, are of sinister omen; those under Schedule A have
greatly diminished since 1890; and there is a considerable decline of
property in the Funds.[13] As to the argument that the Tenant Right of the
Irish farmer has risen in value, and that this proves Irish agriculture to
be in a prosperous state, this is a complete, nay, a grotesque, fallacy.
The rise in the value of Tenant Right is simply one of the many signs that
a huge confiscation has taken place in the Irish land.

If Ireland, therefore, has made material progress, this has been slow,
partial, and with large drawbacks; such as it is, it must be mainly
ascribed to the results of the Famine, which liberated the soil from a
destructive burden. The whole country, it has truly been said, has still
too much the look of a 'great neglected estate,' requiring development in
most of its parts; large sections of the population are poor, feeble in
health, and backward. Any advance, moreover, which Ireland has made in
well being, since 1837-38, is as nothing compared with the extraordinary
growth of the prosperity of England and Scotland, within the same period.
True-hearted Irishmen grieve as they pass from the lesser to the greater
island, and contrast the husbandry of Galway and Mayo with that of the
Lothians and Kent; as they gaze on the Shannon, with scarcely a sail on
its waters, and the Clyde teeming with its fleets of commerce; above all,
as they turn from the decaying towns of their own country to such centres
of wealth and of gigantic trade, as some even of the provincial cities of
Britain, not to speak of the mighty world of London. The causes, indeed,
of this contrast may be easily found; the mineral resources of Ireland are
scanty; her commerce and manufactures are small; she is essentially an
agricultural land, which has lost much from the effects of Free Trade; she
has suffered greatly from misgovernment, agitation, and social disorder;
all this has kept her back in the national race. The mineral products, on
the other hand, of England and Scotland are immense, and of the first
importance in an age of invention; they have decisively contributed to the
huge development of the opulence and the trade of Great Britain; the
policy of Free Trade, carried out for years, has had marvellous results in
the same direction; if British agriculture is not progressing, British
commerce and manufactures are still supreme; and Great Britain has been
for ages a law-abiding land, in which order has been happily combined with
liberty. These considerations fully explain the wide and ever-increasing
distinction between Ireland and England and Scotland, only too manifest;
they have been amply verified by unerring statistics. Two figures may
suffice for a general reader; the resources of Ireland were estimated, a
few years ago, at a sum of about four hundred millions sterling, that of
Great Britain at not less than ten thousand millions.[14]

The social structure of Ireland springs from the soil; it is most apparent
in the relations that have been formed in the land. I shall dwell, at some
length, in other chapters of this work, on the history and the
characteristics of the Irish land system, and on the revolution through
which it has passed; I can here only briefly glance at the subject. That
system, at the beginning of the late reign, still represented, in many
respects, the features it had borne in the eighteenth century, though
these had been, in a great degree, modified. The land, over four-fifths of
its surface, was still in the ownership of a small class of men, divided
in race and faith from its occupants; the conquests and confiscations
which had drawn deep lines of distinction between the Anglo-Protestant
landlord and the Catholic and even the Presbyterian peasant, had still
left their indelible traces, if these had been, to a considerable extent,
effaced. Absenteeism had increased since the Union, though absentee
estates were showing signs of improvement; middleman tenures, with their
manifold and complex mischiefs, were disappearing, but were still
numerous; various causes, to operate for many years, were diminishing the
security of the peasants' tenure. The power of the dominant landlord class
was declining; it was being weakened by the Castle bureaucracy, and by the
emancipation of Catholic Ireland; but it was still nearly supreme in
landed relations; this class was all but the absolute lords of the tillers
of the soil. It is untrue that it was oppressive and unjust as a rule; but
some of its members abused their excessive power; it had too much in
common with an exclusive caste; and a whole train of economic causes were
aggravating the evils of a land system from its origin placed on unsound
foundations. Agriculture was advancing in not a few counties; many of the
landed gentry were improving men, who were making a beginning in the
scientific farming, which, before long, was to be more fully developed.
But the population, we have seen, had increased by millions Ireland could
not support; over whole districts, especially in Munster and Connaught,
the land had been split up into petty holdings, the seats of a huge
multitude of human misery. Rents, therefore, were being unnaturally forced
up, and the wages of labour unnaturally cut down; the land system was
disorganised, and filled with dangerous elements. The worst vice of the
system, however, has yet to be noticed; from different causes which I
shall point out afterwards, the occupiers of the soil in Ireland had, as a
general rule, made even the permanent improvements on their farms, and
large sums had repeatedly been paid on the transfer of these; they had
thus gradually acquired concurrent rights in the land, in tens of
thousands of instances; and yet these were outside the pale of the law,
and could be annihilated by eviction, or even the raising of rent. These
rights had the support, in parts of Ulster, of a long-established custom,
and were usually respected in the southern provinces; but they ought long
before to have had full legal protection; and they were sometimes violated
or disregarded by unscrupulous landlords. The results were seen in the
White Boy and the agrarian disorders which had disturbed Ireland for more
than a century, and even ran back to the confiscations of the past.

This land system, essentially bad as it was, marked by evil distinctions
and pregnant with wrong, scarcely attracted the attention of British
statesmen, until nearly the middle of the nineteenth century. Peel was the
first minister who, even dimly, perceived its vices; he appointed a
Commission to report on the subject. The labours of this body were, in
part, laudable; but the Commissioners, filled with prejudice as to the
excellence of British land tenure, and without experience of that of
Ireland, made a capital mistake in the suggestions they offered. Instead
of recommending that the concurrent rights of the Irish tenant in the
land, often equivalent to a real joint ownership, should receive, as was
but just, the sanction of law, they proposed to restrict these in many
ways; they put forward a plan of 'compensation,' as they called it, that
was worse than useless. Legislation to this effect was withdrawn from
Parliament; the terrible visitation of 1845-47 had ere long shattered the
Irish land system, bringing ruin on hundreds of the landed gentry, making
thousands of farmers of the better classes bankrupt, forcing the petty
holders of the land--the cottar population, as it was named--to fly from
the country in despairing multitudes. The land was largely set free from a
dense mass of wretchedness; it was the general belief of the public men of
the day, that what was most required, at this conjuncture, was to attract
men of capital to it to do it justice, and to get rid, as quickly as
possible, of the large body of Irish landlords, who, even before deeply
involved in debt, had been made hopelessly insolvent by recent events. The
Encumbered Estates Act became law, with scarcely an opposing protest; it
was to 'regenerate Ireland,' its authors proclaimed; its results were to
develop a bad class of landlords, to annihilate the rights of the Irish
peasant wholesale, and to cause an iniquitous confiscation on an enormous
scale. The Irish Land Question, as was the phrase, was now raised once
more; in 1852 the occupiers of the Irish soil set on foot an agitation to
vindicate their rights, destroyed or endangered by what had lately
occurred; the Government of Lord Derby lent a favourable ear; but it was
defeated in the House of Commons by intrigue; the land system remained in
the state in which it had been left; no real attempt to improve it was
made. A series of years followed in which Ireland made distinct progress,
and her agriculture advanced; it became a fixed idea with British
statesmen, that there was nothing radically bad in Irish land tenure, and
that its defects would gradually disappear; the grievances of the Irish
peasant were ignored; his claims to what was now known as his Tenant
Right, urged feebly by his advocates, were voted down in Parliament; and a
general belief prevailed that what Ireland most needed was a still further
and steady removal of what was deemed 'her surplus population' from her
soil.

As has so often happened in the affairs of Ireland, her real condition at
this period was not understood; and the reform in her land system, which
had become essential, was indefinitely delayed with disastrous results.
Meanwhile, though things were serene on the surface, the inherent vices in
Irish landed relations were not really changed, and, in some respects,
were made worse. The Fenian troubles and outbreak of 1865-67 showed how
much there was still peccant in the state of Ireland; Mr. Gladstone
addressed himself, in 1870, to the task of effecting a reform in her land
system. The measure he carried through Parliament was bold, and, in the
main, statesmanlike; but it was injured by the predilection for English
land tenure its author avowed, a general misconception of British
statesmen; it was not without marked and even grave defects; and though
unquestionably it did real good, it did not satisfy the tenant class--at
least, the men who had become its leaders. In a few years the frightful
period of the Land League had begun; a Reign of Terror prevailed in about
a third part of Ireland, accompanied by far-spreading and atrocious crime.
The movement was really a huge conspiracy, formed in America to overthrow
British rule in Ireland; but Mr. Gladstone, now minister for the second
time, resolved to deal with it only on its agrarian side; he wrought a
complete revolution in the Irish land system, on principles wholly
different from those of his measure of 1870. This legislation was prepared
without reflection; it passed through Parliament when that assembly was
almost in a state of panic; its author professed that his only object was
to secure the occupier of the Irish soil in his legitimate rights; but the
methods he adopted to attain this end have never been heard of in modern
times, and have never been employed before in civilised lands. The
principle of the mediæval statutes, which endeavoured to fix the price of
bread, and the rate of wages, was extended to the Irish land system; rents
were to be adjusted through the agency of the State, by tribunals to which
no parallel can be found; tenants' improvements were declared exempted
from rent; and a mode of land tenure, hitherto condemned by Mr. Gladstone,
and known as the 'theory of the Three F's,' was applied to the great
majority of Irish tenancies, in an exaggerated, crude, and dangerous form.
This legislation, revolutionary and socialistic alike, has been given more
ample scope in the last twenty years; it probably affects four-fifths of
the rented lands in Ireland; it has fashioned the type of land tenure over
nearly all the country. The successors of Mr. Gladstone, who, indeed, had
boasted that it set the doctrines of Adam Smith at nought, were not blind
to the evils it soon developed; but it is questionable if their attempts
to mitigate these, and to place the Irish land system on a better basis,
have not been at least as open to censure. With the ignorance of Irish
land tenure common in British statesmen, they proclaimed, what assuredly
was not the fact, that Mr. Gladstone had 'created a dual ownership' in the
Irish land, and that, in order to get rid of this intolerable thing, it
was necessary, in accord with English ideas, to bring Ireland, as far as
possible, under 'single ownership,' and to make the occupiers of the Irish
soil, to a large extent, its owners. The system of 'Land Purchase' in
Ireland, begun in 1870, was freed from the limitations which made it safe
and just, and widely enlarged under new conditions; Irish tenants were
encouraged to acquire the fee in their holdings, by a process never
contemplated before; instead of having to pay any part of the price, the
State advanced them the whole purchase moneys, repayable by an annual
charge much less than any true rent. About a tenth part of the tenant
class of Ireland have become owners of their farms by these means; the
transaction has been in no sense a 'purchase;' though given the name, it
is really the exact opposite.

I shall describe all this legislation, in detail, afterwards, and shall
indicate its far-reaching effects; here I can only take a cursory survey.
The attempts that have been made to reform the Irish land system, in the
last sixty years, have been, with scarcely an exception, failures; the
Irish land, it has truly been said, is strewn with the wrecks of repeated
errors. The Land Act of 1870 was, on the whole, a well-conceived measure;
but the recommendations made by the Devon Commission, the iniquitous and
destructive Encumbered Estates Act, the agrarian revolution wrought by Mr.
Gladstone, and the 'Land Purchase' Acts, as they are falsely called, have
been monuments of want of insight and knowledge. And, what is even worse,
legislation on the Irish land has, over and over again, been too long
delayed, and has been inconsistent, fitful, founded on no principle; the
results have been in a high degree disastrous. Reforms that would have
been gladly welcomed if made years before, have been treated with contempt
when made too late; and reforms have more than once been hasty
experiments, carried out under the stress of menacing troubles. The fable
of the Sibylline books has been realised in this matter; and not a few of
the efforts to improve Irish land tenures have been little better than
sudden leaps in the dark. As to recent legislation in this province, its
consequences and tendencies have become manifest. That it has effected
some good may be admitted; it has removed grievances that no doubt
existed; it has made the government of Ireland more easy for the time; it
has allayed discontent for a moment; but the good is far outweighed by
the evil. It is not only that the nostrum of the 'Three F's,' and the
adjustment of rent by the intervention of the State, have cut down the
rental of Ireland to an extent that cannot be justified, and have
transferred to the occupier of the Irish soil a large part of what was the
owner's property by a process of confiscation concealed, but certain. It
is not only that the status of the Irish landlord has been iniquitously
transformed to his extreme injury, and that the status of the Irish tenant
has been changed to his extreme advantage, in both instances without a
pretence to right. The Irish land system has been reduced to an almost
hopeless state; it presents some of the worst features of the past; its
conditions discourage the improvement of the land, promote its
deterioration in many ways, and banish capital away from it; and its plain
tendency has been to make agriculture decline. And the revolution, which
has been thus accomplished, has aggravated the divisions of classes in
Ireland, and has been attended with ruinous litigation on a huge scale;
and it has produced demoralisation far-reaching and profound, a sense of
insecurity in all landed relations, and a far too general disregard of the
respect due to contract. The policy, too, of so-called 'Land Purchase' has
been accompanied with a train of evils on the increase. It is not
creating, as its authors fondly hoped, a class of loyal and thriving
freeholders; it is not even creating a body of industrious and improving
farmers. It is, on the contrary, developing, in some of its parts, the bad
land system of the eighteenth century; it has proved injurious to
agriculture in one important respect. Above all, from the very nature of
the case, it has drawn harsh, nay, unjust, distinctions between the landed
classes, which necessarily have been a cause of much discontent; and it
has inevitably provoked a demand for a universal confiscation of the Irish
land even worse than any of those which have been the curse of Ireland.

I pass from the material and general state of Ireland to that of the Irish
community, in its different parts. That community is still divided, as it
has been for ages, into three separate and distinct peoples, marked off
from each other in race and faith; whatever 'Nationalist' leaders may
assert, it is not, and has never been, in a real sense, a nation. The
lines of demarcation between Catholic, Presbyterian, and Protestant
Ireland are at least as clearly defined as they have always been; they
have probably been widened by the troubles of late years, and by the
legislation which has been a consequence. Catholic Ireland has a
population of some three millions and a half of souls; it is in the main a
Celtic race, but with a considerable admixture of other elements; it has
passed through a revolution remarkable and immense. Sixty years ago, the
worst parts of the Penal Code had long been things of the past; but the
Irish Catholics had only recently thrown off the last remains of that
thraldom, under O'Connell's guidance; and their emancipation had only been
effected by a great and very threatening movement. They were still
comparatively an alien and a subject people; they had not many owners of
land; they were not numerous in the upper trading and the professional
classes; education was greatly wanting among them; they were for the most
part a backward and poor peasantry, almost serfs of landlords distinct in
creed and in blood; and they formed the bulk of the teeming millions that
vegetated on the soil in indigent misery. The Irish Catholics, too, had
still many and real grievances; the tithe of the Established Church had
long been an unjust burden on the petty husbandman; it had recently given
rise to a frightful war of classes, and had only been commuted a short
time; the Established Church itself was a moral wrong, felt acutely by the
Irish priesthood at least. Catholic Ireland, besides, was deeply sunk in
ignorance; the system of national education had only begun to flourish;
and the Irish Catholic was still all but wholly excluded from county
administration and municipal government. The worst of these grievances,
however, was the state of the tenure of the land; this was especially
harsh on the Catholic peasant; if oppression was not general or even
common, he was too often subjected to excessive rent and unfair eviction.
This order of things has all but completely passed away; the position of
Catholic Ireland in the State has almost wholly been changed. Catholic
emancipation has long been an accomplished fact; Irish Catholics and
Protestants are equal before the law; and have really equal chances in
fighting the battle of life. Though still not numerous, the Catholic
owners of land have multiplied; the Irish Catholic middle classes have
made a marked advance; they have grown in knowledge and increased in
wealth; they have risen to a higher plane of existence. At the same time,
the grievances of the past have nearly all been removed by law, often
indeed very late, and by questionable means; but the Established Church
has fallen from its high estate; education has been diffused through the
Catholic masses; the Irish Catholics have obtained more than a just share
in local government and administration of all kinds; their ascendency in
this province is well-nigh assured. The most important, however, of these
changes is that which has taken place in the state of the Irish Catholic
peasantry. The process which lifted up millions of these from the land and
sent them into exile was, no doubt, terrible; but it was the condition of
the welfare and the progress of the population which remained. A great
deal of the legislation, besides, which has revolutionised the tenure of
land in Ireland, and has had a special effect on the Catholic occupiers of
the soil, has been essentially ill designed and unjust; above all, it has
been much too long delayed. But the Irish Catholic peasantry have long ago
ceased to be serfs; they are more the owners of their own holdings than
their former landlords; their rights in the land have been more than
protected; they have acquired the fee in their farms in thousands of
instances; the days of rack rents and harsh evictions have passed away for
ever. If the lines of the old Irish land system may still be traced, they
rather resemble, it has truly been said, the lineaments of a phantom than
of a living being.

The attitude, however, of Catholic Ireland, and the sentiments of the
immense majority of the Irish Catholics, must cause painful misgivings in
reflecting minds. Their aristocracy, indeed, and their landed gentry have
always been loyal and true subjects; they can scarcely be distinguished
from their Protestant fellows. The Irish Catholics, too, of the upper
middle classes are generally attached to the institutions under which they
live; and Catholic Ireland has produced many eminent public servants, and
has given splendid ornaments to the Bench and the Bar. But the spirit that
prevails among the Irish Catholic lower middle classes, and notably among
the masses of the peasantry, and the opinions and feelings they
ostentatiously avow, are deeply to be regretted in many respects.
Notwithstanding all that has been done for it, and the immense reforms
made in its interest, this part of Catholic Ireland is, beyond question,
more disaffected and disloyal to the State than it was when O'Connell was
its master spirit; it is more hostile to government, law, and the existing
order of things. The teaching of the Land and the National Leagues, and of
the successor which has taken their place, has penetrated into the
Corporations and Local Boards, in which the Catholic Irish are supreme;
these assemblies echo with revolutionary and socialistic cries, and
denounce the whole system of British rule in Ireland, aiming especially at
the Sovereign and those in the highest places. The Irish Catholics, too,
in the three provinces of the south, have gained a complete ascendency in
county and municipal affairs; their first object has been to exclude the
landed gentry from them, and to destroy the influence which belongs to
property; and they have exhibited tendencies absolutely opposed to the
Constitution to which they owe their authority. The worst symptoms,
however, appear in the state of the peasantry; they have obtained
advantages of which their fathers never even dreamed; the land system has
been turned upside down for their behoof; they have no grievance in landed
relations; and yet they remain unfriendly to the State, and show no sign
of gratitude. This class contains the multitudes, who for more than twenty
years, have allied themselves with a conspiracy against our power in
Ireland, and who, at the bidding of designing men, shout treasonable
utterances at mob gatherings, and denounce the 'Saxon' and 'landlordism'
with one voice; and though they are a timid and somewhat inert mass, and
they would not rise like their fathers in 1798, they would not lift a hand
to support our rule were foreign invaders to descend on our shores. This
state of opinion, no doubt, is intelligible to the real student of Irish
history; the Irish Catholics are a people who have been cruelly wronged;
they have only slowly risen out of serf-like thraldom; above all, they
have only attained the position they hold in the State after long years of
trials, and by giving trouble; they treasure the Celtic traditions of the
past; we may regret that they are what they are, but can hardly feel
surprise. In other respects, the Irish Catholic masses, especially in a
democratic age, must arouse the solicitude of thinkers worthy of the name.
Many thousands of them are still illiterate; they are too generally the
mere followers of priests and demagogues, tossed hither and thither as
their masters direct; they are animated by crude and wild ideas, like the
peasantry of France before the Revolution; they have scarcely anything in
common with the corresponding class in England, trained for centuries in
habits of well-ordered liberty. They form, in a word, a dangerous and
easily led democracy; and yet, owing to recent legislation, ever to be
deplored, they possess almost a monopoly of political power in Ireland,
and have sent representatives to Parliament whose acts are a byword.

Conciliation, therefore, as the phrase is, has failed in the case of the
greatest part of Catholic Ireland; this remains an alien, even a perilous,
element in the State; it is worse than useless to shut our eyes to the
truth; the time is still apparently distant when it will become contented
and loyal. Presbyterian Ireland is a people of rather more than half a
million of souls, almost concentrated within a nook of Ulster; it was
rebellious in sentiment a hundred years ago; it is now devotedly attached
to the British connection, and has firmly supported the Union during a
period of trouble. This community, nevertheless, of artisans and farmers
is rather widely separated from the aristocracy in their midst, for the
most part English in blood, and of the Anglican faith; and though the
Presbyterian farmer has obtained the benefit of the late reforms of land
tenure, and has received advantages far in excess of justice, he declares
himself to be discontented with his lot, and is clamouring for a vast
confiscation of the Irish land in his selfish interest. The Irish
Protestants are a population rather larger than the Presbyterians; but
they are scattered over all parts of the country; they do not possess the
political influence of their distant kinsmen in Ulster. They comprise at
least three-fourths of the leading landed gentry, and a considerable
number of the better class of farmers; they predominate in the learned
professions, and in the higher walks of commerce. But their lower orders
feel the loss of the ascendency which was once their birthright; they have
been thrust out from corporate and local government; they are isolated
amidst a population not in sympathy with them; as a people they can hardly
be described as prosperous. As to the Protestant landed gentry, they have
for centuries been the most loyal of subjects; it is significant that they
have been called the British garrison by the conspirators who seek to
overthrow our rule in Ireland; they have given many eminent worthies to
the State, and proved their devotion to it at the gravest crises; what
they are has been shown in the war in South Africa. At present, however,
profound and just discontent has sunk deep into the hearts of this order
of men. They are the heirs of conquest and confiscation, it is said; but
they were placed in the position they hold by English kings and
Parliaments; is that any reason that, within the last half-century, the
Nemesis of conquest and confiscation should have been invoked against
them, in the Encumbered Estates Act and predatory agrarian laws? They were
too much of an exclusive caste, separated from their dependents, and
possessing powers over the occupiers of the soil, which were sometimes
abused; is that any reason that they should have been deprived of
political influence, supplanted by the bureaucratic Castle, changed from
owners of their estates into mere pensioners, shut out by the force of law
from local and county government? What, however, the Irish landed gentry
most deeply feel is that, in the course of the last sixty years, they have
been deceived, nay, betrayed, by British statesmen, who, having repeatedly
assured them that their position was secure, have sacrificed them when it
seemed to suit their purpose.

The Imperial Parliament has, during the last century, had absolute control
over the affairs of Ireland. No impartial student of history will deny
that it has governed Ireland very much better than her old Parliament
could possibly have done, after the dreadful rising of 1798 had literally
torn the country to pieces. The large majority of thinking persons have
long ago been convinced that the policy of Home Rule, that is, the
substitution for the Houses at Westminster of a statutory legislature
seated in Dublin, would be disastrous to the Empire and Ireland alike; and
that the evils attendant on the present system would be aggravated a
hundred-fold by the revolution Mr. Gladstone tried to effect. Nor can it
be questioned that the Imperial Parliament has, for a long period,
sincerely desired to legislate and rule for the good of Ireland, and has
accomplished important Irish reforms, whatever legitimate exceptions may
be taken to them. Protestant ascendency and the Established Church have
fallen; the law has long been indifferent to Irishmen of all classes;
education has been brought home to the mass of the people; the tenure of
land has been transformed, unwisely no doubt, but wholly in the interest
of the occupiers of the soil. Nevertheless, much that the Imperial
Parliament has done, and left undone, in the Victorian era, remains matter
of censure and regret; and its Irish administration has been in many
respects unfortunate. The neglect to make a provision for the Irish
Catholic priesthood, a main object of Pitt and of our best statesmen, when
the Anglican Church was disestablished in 1869, was a grave and a
calamitous mistake; the attempts that have been made to reform the Irish
land system have, with scarcely an exception, been sorry failures; the
results have been, in no doubtful sense, deplorable. Few, too, will
justify such measures as the establishment in Ireland of household
suffrage, that is, giving a monopoly of political power to an ignorant and
priest-ridden democracy,[15] and depriving property and intelligence of
all influence, or as the handing over county and city government, in
three-fourths of Ireland, to much the same classes. Nor are even positive
errors such as these the worst, perhaps, that can be laid to the charge of
the Imperial Parliament in the conduct of Irish affairs. With rare
exceptions, the reforms it has made have been, unhappily, too late, and
have been obtained only through menacing popular movements; it has over
and over again made Irish questions the mere subjects of the selfish
strife of party, with evil consequences for Irish interests; it has
occasionally, and even for large spaces of time, shown a marked
indifference to reasonable Irish demands; and its administration of
Ireland has repeatedly been inconsistent, even contradictory,
shortsighted, and feeble. It must be acknowledged, indeed, that the rule
of the Imperial Parliament, in the circumstances in which Ireland has been
placed, is, from the nature of the case, faulty in many respects; it is
that of a dominant assembly practically controlling a subject dependency;
and, as we see in the striking instances of Athens and Rome, this kind of
government has never been free from great and real objections. This, no
doubt, is no reason that we should fly from less to unbearable evils, and
adopt the fatal scheme of Home Rule; and the causes that have made our
Parliamentary _régime_ in Ireland as defective as it is are evident, and,
as I shall point out afterwards, may probably be removed, to some extent
at least, without subverting the constitution of these realms. But the
broad fact remains, and cannot be concealed; the Imperial Parliament, much
as it has done, has not reached the hearts or gained, in any degree, the
sympathy of an immense majority of the Irish people.

This conclusion, indeed, has been made only too manifest, if we look back
at the history of Ireland within living memory. The Catholic Association
defied the Imperial Parliament, and was supreme in four-fifths of Ireland,
from 1824 to 1829; O'Connell, in 1843, rallied the Irish Catholic millions
to the cause of the Repeal of the Union, that is, to the subversion of
British rule from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear. Home Rule became a
popular cry when proclaimed by Butt; Parnell soon rose to the head of an
Irish faction, which deliberately tried to paralyse and cross Parliament,
and to make its sway in Ireland of no avail and contemptible. The Land
League and the National League were essentially conspiracies of foreign
origin, and they appealed to socialistic greed in a season of distress;
but their chief object was to annihilate British power in Ireland; they
had the support of huge Catholic masses; they returned to Parliament a
band of more than eighty men, one of whose purposes was to checkmate its
authority. Too much is not to be made of these movements; three-fourths at
least of the Irish community have repeatedly been led away by able but
unscrupulous leaders, and rush into courses to which they are not
earnestly inclined; but these unquestionable facts assuredly prove that
the institutions under which they exist are not acceptable to the great
body of the people of Ireland. This attitude has been displayed with
marked and too plain significance, within a period, as it were, of
yesterday. The United Irish League fills the place of the Land and the
National Leagues; it is a conspiracy against the State, like its
forerunners; it aims ultimately at the same objects; its organisation and
machinery are the same; it seeks to establish its domination by similar
methods. It is, no doubt, less formidable than the Land and the National
Leagues; it has received little support from America, and has no one to
compare with Parnell at its head; but it has sent more than three-fourths
of the representatives of Ireland into the House of Commons; and these
have combined to put in force the arts of obstruction with an audacity, a
perseverance, and a measure of success, perhaps never so conspicuous
before. Its authority is less far-reaching than that of its predecessors;
but it has established a reign of tyranny in not a few counties; it is
largely backed by the Irish priesthood and by much the greatest part of
Catholic Ireland; and its leaders boast, not without truth, that, disloyal
as many of their utterances are, they are completely in accord with
popular sympathies. The acts and the speeches, indeed, of these men have
never been more unequivocal than within the last two or three years;[16]
yet almost everywhere they obtain the applause and the support of the
multitude. An Irish contingent was sent to fight for the Boers; the war in
South Africa was yelled at, at huge public meetings, as an odious instance
of English tyranny and crime; every reverse that befell our arms was
welcomed; the Irish masses, especially of late, have made a display of
their antipathy to, and hatred of, the State. There was an outbreak of
disloyal rioting in Dublin at the Diamond Jubilee; but for the accident of
the Spanish War there would have been a great commemoration of the
rebellion of 1798; even the visit of the late Queen to Ireland was made an
occasion for seditious speeches; if her death was very generally mourned,
public bodies were found to refuse an expression of regret.

Irish administration, I have remarked, is in many respects faulty; this is
mainly because it is dependent on British parties; it fluctuates as one or
the other prevails in Parliament. It sometimes represents completely
opposite principles; besides, as Lord-Lieutenants and Chief Secretaries
usually hold office for a short time only, they are tempted to adopt a
hand-to-mouth policy, and to govern with little thought of the morrow. A
marked change, however, has, in the course of time, passed over the
ordinary system of administration carried on at the Castle. The
aristocracy and the leading Irish gentry had still, even at the beginning
of the Victorian age, much influence in directing local affairs; their
authority was not nearly as great as it had been; but they were still
looked up to and consulted by the central government. This state of things
has long ago ceased to exist; this order of men has long ago lost all
political, and nearly all social, power; it has been superseded by a
bureaucratic _régime_, depending mainly on paid officials and police,
which rules Ireland from the Castle, with little external support. This
mode of government is imposing and apparently strong; but it is
essentially weak, and has little real hold on the country; the
information, with which it is amply supplied, is often false, and
occasionally causes grave mistakes; it forms an administrative system
resembling that of the old centralised monarchy of France, of which
Tocqueville has exposed the defects and the vices. Under this _régime_,
however, the law of the land has certainly been vindicated more
successfully than had been the case before; the Government has acquired
decidedly increased power in dealing with disorders dangerous to the
State, and perhaps in holding the scales of justice even between divided
classes; it has not diminished the strife of hostile Irish factions, but
it has maintained order more completely than of old; and this
unquestionably is a great advantage, and a real set-off against some
mischiefs and failures. It would be untrue to assert that this system of
rule has been the paramount and even a main cause of the great decline in
agrarian crime and trouble which Ireland has happily witnessed of late
years; other and far more potent causes have concurred; but it may fairly
be said that it has contributed to it. It would, however, be a complete
mistake to suppose that agrarian disorder, even in its worst aspects, has
become permanently a thing of the past in Ireland, or that this
destructive curse of Irish social life has not immense influence even at
this moment, though its outward manifestations have been greatly changed.
It was, so to speak, only yesterday that, under the auspices of the Land
and the National Leagues, there was the most frightful outbreak of
agrarian crime that had been seen since the great tithe conflict; it
assumed the proportions, in fact, of a horrible servile war; and shallow,
indeed, the understanding must be which imagines that this state of things
can never recur. If open agrarian disorder, too, has been largely
diminished, the spirit of agrarian disorder is still strong; and it is
doing infinite mischief in many parts of Ireland. Steadily adhering to the
precepts laid down by Parnell, the United Irish League has brought the
detestable system of 'boycotting' to a hideous perfection in several
counties; whole districts are subject to this secret but villainous
tyranny; the results are seen in numbers of derelict farms, in hundreds of
victims writhing under ever-present terror, in an infamous interference
with trade and industry. This malignant influence is more or less felt
through nearly the whole of the southern provinces, and even to a
considerable extent in Ulster; it should be added that the United Irish
League, for the present, discourages active agrarian crime, though its
agents hold this force in reserve; it believes it can compass its ends
without making use of this weapon.[17]

A few words must be said, in this short survey, on the organisations that
uphold the Christian faith in Ireland. The disestablished Anglican Church
has certainly made progress in spiritual life; it has more moral and even,
perhaps, social influence than when it was an appurtenance of the Erastian
Castle. It has been admirably administered and ruled; the uses of
adversity have been sweet to it, and it has been successfully launched on
its new career; this is a strong proof of the inherent energy and capacity
of the Anglo-Protestant Irish people. Very different, too, from what had
been expected, moderation and wisdom prevail in its councils; its clergy
are sincerely pious, but not given to extreme doctrines; its members are
for the most part free from the narrow sectarian views which had formerly,
not without reason, been laid to their charge. Its funds, amassed by good
management, are, for the present, ample; but the rapid impoverishment of
the landed gentry, the class from which it chiefly obtains support, and
the confiscation with which they are threatened, no doubt expose it to
future dangers; and it must always be the Church of a small minority,
surrounded by influences hostile to it, but a Church which the State is
bound to protect. The Presbyterian Church of Ireland has but little
changed; it has felt the effect of the great religious movement, which has
stirred the Three Kingdoms in the last half-century, and it is less
rationalistic than it once was; but it is still what it always was, a
powerful centre of the faith of John Knox, with a communion of strong
democratic sympathies. The Catholic Church of Ireland still rests on the
old foundations; but it is hardly the unshaken structure it was in the
last generation. Its material resources have enormously increased; its
fine edifices spread over the land; it still exercises immense influence
over probably nine-tenths of Catholic Ireland. But a party has been
growing up within it which resents, and has even defied, its pretensions;
and though the power it possesses is, in the main, beneficent in the
extreme, this has too often been abused in the domain of politics, and
especially of late in Irish landed relations. The priesthood still largely
direct their flocks, but they are more dependent on them than they once
were; had it been otherwise, they would have hardly conformed to the
bidding of the Land and the National Leagues, as unhappily they did in too
many instances. Their leading men perceived from the first that these
conspiracies were destructive of their moral influence; and had the whole
body of the clergy received a just provision from the State, it would all
but certainly have condemned the methods of the Leagues as these were
decisively condemned by Rome. For the rest, the Catholic Church of Ireland
is no friend of Protestant England, and of many of the institutions that
exist in Ireland; but this has been inevitable from the events of Irish
history; and whatever may be said, it has been essentially an ally of the
State, by reason of its great religious authority. And if properly
understood, it is a mighty conservative power, which ought if possible to
be won over to the side of order and law; this is an ample, if there were
no other, reason that statesmen should comply with its most reasonable
demand, and remove the grievance, in high Catholic education, that only
blind bigotry can deny.

The administration of justice in Ireland is better, on the whole, than it
was in the early Victorian era. It is not only that the law's delay has
been to a considerable extent, remedied, as it has been, in England, by an
improved procedure. Traces of Protestant ascendency were to be seen on
the Irish Bench sixty years ago, though these were evanescent and few;
such a trial as that of O'Connell in 1844, marked by partiality and even
by wrong, would be simply impossible at the present time. Trial by jury,
however, in Ireland too often reflects the animosities and prejudices of
class, and is liable to grave perversion and errors; it is sometimes
necessary, in causes where religious or political feeling is engaged, to
make a careful selection in forming juries, in order that common right
should be done; this inevitable, but invidious, process, held up to
execration by the name of 'packing,' is certainly a matter that causes
regret. The fairness seen in the administration of the law in Ireland has
been strikingly illustrated of late years; leaders and agents of the Land
and the National Leagues have had to answer for their offences in the
inferior courts; but despite rabid clamour against what is called
'coercion,' the conduct of these inquiries has not been really impugned. A
laudable attempt, however, to make the magisterial bench more popular, has
lately placed on it an order of men, of whom some have abused their power;
these instances, nevertheless, have not been frequent; the experiment
cannot be pronounced a failure. The intellect of Ireland is not so
fruitful as it was in the generation before the union; she has no
political thinkers to be named with Burke, no writer of fiction equal to
Maria Edgeworth, no dramatist to be compared to Sheridan, no orators who
have reached the heights of eloquence reached by Grattan, Curran, Plunket,
and other glories of her defunct Parliament. But there has been progress
in this respect within the last sixty years; Ireland cannot boast of such
public men as O'Connell, Sheil, and even Spring Rice; but she possesses
Dufferin in the diplomatic sphere, and Lecky, and one or two others of
repute in that of letters; she has only recently lost Lord Cairns and Lord
Russell. The improvement of primary education in Ireland has been
immense; the land is full of elementary schools, which, in the last
generation, were, comparatively, very few, and though a considerable part
of the population is still illiterate, the greater part, whose fathers
were sunk in ignorance, has felt the good influence of the light of
knowledge. High education, too, has advanced in Ireland; Trinity College
is greater than before as a place of learning; if two of the Queen's
Colleges have certainly failed, the Royal University has been, in a sense,
successful. But, as I shall point out, in subsequent pages, University
education in Ireland remains defective; a University for the Irish
Catholic upper middle class is a requirement rightly demanded from
Parliament. As for Irish secondary education, it is still backward, but
there is hope of improvement in this respect; the general standard of
Irish education, it should be added, is, except at Trinity College, low,
though this has been inevitable if we look back at the events of history.
Irish opinion generally still embodies the deep-seated animosities and
strife of race and faith, at least as fully as it ever did; with few
exceptions this appears in the tone of the newspaper press. The utterances
of many of the self-styled 'Nationalist' journals have been far more
hostile to the State, and are conceived in a much worse spirit, than those
of the same class of journals in O'Connell's day.

If we examine the condition of Ireland, as a whole, we see that there has
been some material progress, but with retrogression in important respects;
and if a certain measure of good has been done, great wrong and evil have
been accomplished, in the principal and the most far-reaching of her
social relations. Her moral and political progress has been at least
doubtful; notwithstanding immense and searching reforms, the mass of the
population is more disaffected than of old; discontent largely pervades
the classes most loyal to the State; if the mere power of government has
increased, its beneficent influence is but little recognised; the great
body of the community maintains a hostile attitude. The crooked has not
been made straight in Ireland, nor the rough places plain; a state of
society exists, in which, as the Greek poet said, 'the fountains flow
backwards, and things are out of joint.' An old order has nearly passed
away; but the new order that is replacing it is but of little promise; a
type of society has been well-nigh broken up, but a strong and solid type
is not being formed in its stead; at all events, in the phrase of Bacon,
the time is still distant 'when the strings of the Irish harp will all be
in tune;' many respond to the player's hand in discord. 'The Constitution
in Ireland,' Peel once exclaimed, 'is not the British Constitution, but
its ghastly image;' let us see what it is in Ireland at the present time.
The Sovereign is, in England, a main pillar of the State; he is a great
political and social force; the Monarchy is enthroned in the heart of the
nation. In Ireland he is almost an unknown name, associated with not a few
evil memories; his influence, which ought to be immense over a Celtic
race, has never made itself sensibly felt. In England Parliament responds
to the national will, and has gathered the reverence of ages around it; in
Ireland it is a foreign and alien assembly, with which the mass of the
people has no sympathy. In England the aristocracy is at the head of
public affairs, leads society, commands universal respect; in Ireland it
has lost all authority; has no weight in the National Councils; has no
popular support, is even disliked at the Castle. In England the middle
class is enormously strong, and is the best bulwark of order and law; in
England the democracy is almost wholly free from revolutionary ideas, as
regards property, and seeks reforms by constitutional methods. In Ireland,
it is unhappily quite otherwise; the middle class is comparatively weak,
and, in its lower strata, is opposed to the existing order of things; the
democracy is an easily led multitude, ready at its leaders' bidding to
rush into socialistic courses. In England, too, the Commonwealth is
completely secure; in Ireland there is literally no Commonwealth; and such
organisations as the Land, the National, and the United Irish Leagues, are
dangerous symptoms of a kind of Jacobin antipathy to the State. The words
of Peel are still unhappily true; but painful as the contrast he pointed
out is, even this is not the worst circumstance in the present condition
of Irish affairs. What, I think, most alarms a reflecting mind, is the
restlessness that pervades the mass of the people, an eagerness for some
undefined change, a demand for the universal spoliation of a class, a
sense of insecurity spreading far and wide, a neglect of the pursuits of
calm industry in the hope of what a revolution may effect, an instability
in the social fabric from top to bottom. The agitation, the disorder, and,
I will add, the vicious legislation of late years, will, however, largely
explain these phenomena.

Lord Salisbury's Ministry came into office, six years ago, at the head of
the most powerful majority that had been returned to the House of Commons
since the great Reform era. The time was singularly opportune to consider
the state of Ireland, and to deal with the Irish questions that required
sound and wise treatment. The Opposition was paralysed by a rout at the
polls; the National League conspiracy showed few signs of life; the
'Nationalist' party was rent asunder; the community was more quiescent
than it had been for years. It would be unfair to deny that, since it
acquired power, the Government has been beset by many and grave obstacles
in legislating on domestic subjects; it has been encompassed by a sea of
foreign troubles; it has had to conduct the protracted war in South
Africa. It would be absurd, too, to expect that it could, once for all,
have placed Irish affairs permanently on a secure basis; this can only be
the result of the wisdom of years aided by the healing influence of time.
But it has disappointed enlightened Irish opinion; it has not done, or
even tried to do, what it might have accomplished. Undoubtedly parts of
its policy have been good; it has effected something, if not much, in
developing the material resources of the west of Ireland, and in
mitigating the danger and the stress of Irish poverty; it has carried on
the excellent work of Mr. Arthur Balfour in this respect; the Department
of Agriculture it has lately formed will, not improbably, be of real use
in promoting industry and self-reliance among the peasantry, on the
principles advocated, a century and a half ago, by Berkeley. But
commendation, I think, must here end; the Government, I believe, has made
grave mistakes; it has assuredly not successfully dealt with the great
'Case of Ireland,' greater now than in the days of Molyneux and Swift. It
has not reduced the excessive representation of Ireland in the House of
Commons; until this is done the Union will not be secure. It has
disregarded the verdict of the important Commission which has declared
that Ireland has been immensely overtaxed for years; here it defies
universal Irish opinion; and having pledged itself to make a further
inquiry, it has not hitherto taken a step to redeem its pledge. It is
divided on the question of high education in Ireland, and professes that
this must be an 'open question,' as if this was not unwise and perilous;
and though it has appointed a Commission to report on the subject,
Catholic Ireland very possibly may not obtain the place of learning which
it is entitled to demand. Above all, on the capital question of the Irish
land, the Government has certainly all but ignored the recommendations of
a Commission chosen by itself, and has refused to lessen the injustice
proved to have been done wholesale; like its predecessors, in the case of
the Encumbered Estates Act, it is still bent on agrarian legislation that
has done infinite mischief. Its administration, too, up to this has not
been successful; it has allowed the United Irish League to grow up and to
gain strength, with far-spreading evil results; its conduct of Irish
affairs has been weak and empirical, and notably marked by false
optimistic fancies. Of late there has been improvement in this respect; we
can only hope it will not be abortive.

'In this gigantic body,' Macaulay exclaimed fifty-seven years ago, 'there
is one vulnerable part near the heart.'[18] The Empire has expanded into
ampler proportions than those described by the orator; its subject kings,
dominations, princedoms, powers, above all, its myriads of many races and
tongues, are united by far more durable ties than those which held it
together in a generation that has passed away. Four years ago, Canada sent
messengers from her great lakes, Hindustan representatives of her ancient
dynasties, the great island continent envoys from her free nations, to do
homage to Queen Victoria; the pageant, gathered 'within London's streaming
roar,' was a magnificent spectacle of world-wide loyalty. England has seen
another and a still more wonderful sight; the martial sons of our great
self-governing colonies have flocked in thousands to do battle in her
cause, in the distant and ill-known wastes of South Africa; in a long,
bloody, and sometimes disastrous conflict, they have proved themselves to
be worthy companions in arms of the offspring of the soldiery of Blenheim
and Waterloo; they have fought and bled for England as if she was their
common country. But Ireland, as regards the mass of the people, has, on
both occasions, stood sullenly aloof; her heart has gone out in sympathy
with the Boers; she remains, for the most part, hostile to our rule and
disloyal. It is mere foolishness to shut our eyes to plain facts; still
more so to join in the false pæans of interested partisans, and ignorant
scribblers, who announce that because Ireland is, on the surface,
comparatively at peace, she is in every sense a contented or a happy land,
free from grave elements of political and social danger. She is still the
'vulnerable part at the heart of the Empire;' the spectre at the great
national festival; the warning token, as in the case of the Oriental
despot, that human grandeur and power are, in the nature of things,
mortal. She is still, as she was in the day of Spenser, a malign influence
across the path of our greatness, a riddle difficult to understand and
interpret; the many problems she still presents to the statesman are
perplexing in the extreme, and await solution. That any policy will
suddenly remove the many evils apparent in her organic structure is a
delusion a rational mind rejects; the deep-seated ills in that distempered
frame may never be completely and finally cured. Something effectual,
nevertheless, may, I think, be done; I proceed to examine, in the
following chapters, the 'Present Irish Questions' that confront our
rulers; and to consider what the amending hand may accomplish.



CHAPTER II

THE QUESTION OF HOME RULE

    The question of Home Rule not extinct--The reasons--Butt's scheme of
    Home Rule--It is denounced and ridiculed by Mr. Gladstone, and
    defeated in the House of Commons--Death of Butt--The Home Rule
    movement becomes allied with a foreign conspiracy--Davitt and
    Parnell--The Land League--Mr. Gladstone's surrender to it--The
    movement makes no progress in the Parliament of 1880-85--The General
    Election of 1885--Mr. Gladstone suddenly adopts the policy of Home
    Rule--The probable reasons--The Home Rule Bill of 1886--Its nature and
    tendencies--Decisive objections to the measure--It is rejected at the
    General Election of 1886, having been previously rejected in the House
    of Commons--Policy and conduct of Mr. Gladstone--The Home Rule
    movement makes some progress in England, and why--The Home Rule Bill
    of 1893--It is much worse than that of 1886--The reasons--It is
    rejected by the House of Lords--Home Rule under different forms--The
    Union must be maintained--Proposal that Parliament should occasionally
    sit in Dublin--The over-representation of Ireland should be redressed.


Home Rule, it is very generally assumed, has vanished into the domain of
extinct politics. Unlike what had been the case from 1886 to 1895, when
this was the main of our domestic questions, Home Rule was scarcely
referred to at the late election; it will receive little countenance at
the hands of the present House of Commons, however Irish Nationalists may
persist in urging their demand. It would, nevertheless, be imprudent to
believe that this policy, as has been said, 'is as dead as Queen Anne,' as
impossible as a return to Protection or to an unreformed Parliament.
Isaac Butt's scheme of Home Rule was treated with scorn and ridicule by
Mr. Gladstone during many years; Mr. Gladstone was the author of the Bills
of 1886 and 1893, embodying Home Rule in forms few will now approve of;
and he left nothing undone to convert them into law. At the General
Election of 1880, Home Rule was regarded as a mere Irish craze, and hardly
a candidate could be found, in England and Scotland, to consent to an
inquiry upon the subject; within six years Home Rule was a Ministerial
measure; and though the House of Commons pronounced against it, and its
decision was emphatically ratified at the General Election of 1886, still,
on this occasion, the votes in favour of Home Rule were not much less
numerous than those cast against it.[19] In 1892 England condemned Home
Rule, if not as decisively as six years before; but Ireland, Scotland, and
Wales declared for it; and a Home Rule Bill received the sanction of the
House of Commons, which, but for the resistance made by the House of
Lords, would now be a fundamental law of these realms. It deserves notice,
too, that not one of the Liberal leaders, although, as a rule, they
avoided the subject, repudiated this policy at the late election; two or
three, indeed, gave it a qualified support; and it is evident that they
keep the question in reserve, in the hope of turning it to account at a
more convenient season. Nor can it be denied, as long as Ireland can send
more than eighty Nationalists into the House of Commons, pledged to insist
on Home Rule as their country's right, that the subject must command more
or less attention; for many reasons it is impossible to ignore the claims
of a representation so large in numbers. It must be added that, under our
system of party government, especially as this has existed of late years,
a considerable group of politicians, with a fixed purpose, can effect much
by throwing its weight indifferently into the Ministerial or the
Opposition scale, and giving its support to either side, in order to
compass its own ends; it has, sometimes with successful results, swayed
majorities by these means, and not in vain. This is the hope of the Irish
Nationalist leaders; 'let parties in the House of Commons,' they cynically
argue, 'be equally divided, as must at some time happen,' and 'we shall
gain Home Rule from either Tories or Whigs, if we assist either by our
votes to keep them in office.' It cannot be said, if we look back at some
political events within the last twenty years, that this expectation is
wholly groundless; and though I am convinced it will not be realised, its
existence alone suffices to prove that Home Rule cannot yet be dismissed
as outside the sphere of practical politics.

Home Rule, therefore, is a 'Present Irish Question,' and if not at this
moment urgent, it remains the most important of Irish questions, for it
directly affects the fortunes of the Three Kingdoms. It is necessary,
accordingly, to examine it, in its principles at least; and an inquiry is
opportune, at this juncture, for the subject can be fairly discussed in
its different bearings, apart from the obscuring influences of national
and party prejudice, and especially of political passion. Isaac Butt was
the true author of the conception of Home Rule; for though a movement in
favour of a Repeal of the Union had become dangerously active in 1843-44,
and had been feebly intermittent since that period, this peculiar
modification of the arrangements made at the Union, in fixing the
relations between Great Britain and Ireland, was wholly an idea of that
distinguished lawyer. The occasion, on which this scheme was put forward,
was not a little remarkable for various reasons. Mr. Gladstone had just
disestablished the Anglican Church in Ireland, and had disendowed it, to a
considerable extent; this policy was angrily resented by a party of Irish
Protestants; for the maintenance of the Established Irish Church had been
made an essential condition of the Treaty of Union. These men, who were
not without energy and parts, declared that a great international compact
had been broken; and they gradually obtained the support of leaders of the
'Young Ireland' following, of survivors of the 'Tail' of O'Connell, and
even of adherents of the Fenian cause, all, in different degrees, opposed
to the Union. Butt became the head and spokesman of this curiously
assorted band, composed of essentially discordant elements; but he
endeavoured to combine it into a strong Parliamentary force, by
propounding a plan of Home Rule for Ireland, which he had thought out with
patience and care, his hope being that this would unite his followers, and
that his project would at least be entertained in Parliament, and would
not be as hopeless as an attempt to repeal the Union. His views are set
forth in his 'Irish Federalism,' a long-forgotten work, but which, even
now, may be read with profit. Butt professed, and I have no doubt
sincerely, that he did not seek to disturb the Union, and that the
Imperial Parliament was to remain as it was; but he proposed to give
Ireland a Parliament of her own, with full powers of legislation on Irish
affairs, and an Executive practically appointed by this, which would have
the government of Ireland in its hands. Having thus called into existence
an Irish State, possessing State rights of supreme importance, he sought
to connect Ireland with Great Britain by a Federal tie; representatives
from Ireland were to repair to the Imperial Parliament, and to vote in
that assembly on Imperial questions, but not, as I believe Butt meant, on
those which belonged to England and Scotland.[20]

The cry of Home Rule was welcomed in Ireland by her Catholic masses; at
the General Election of 1874, sixty men were returned to the House of
Commons to support this policy, a party formidable in numbers, if not in
essential strength. Butt brought forward his plan, in outline, on three or
four occasions; but the question was not discussed with the fulness of
knowledge and the breadth of view it certainly required; on the whole, it
was superficially treated. Neither Butt nor his opponents thoroughly
perceived that his proposals virtually repealed the Union, for if the
Imperial Parliament was, nominally, to be left intact, a real Parliament
was to be placed in its stead, in Ireland, which would practically annul
its effective authority, from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear; and they
seem not to have understood that 'Irish Federalism' implied Federalism for
Great Britain to a great extent, and introduced into the Constitution the
Federal principle with its far-reaching and dangerous effects. Butt's
scheme, however, was powerfully attacked in its details; by no one so
powerfully as by Mr. Gladstone, who had lately announced, to an approving
multitude, that Home Rule was sheer folly or worse, and had exultingly
asked, 'Can any sensible man, can any rational man, suppose that, at this
time of day, in this condition of the world, we are going to disintegrate
the great capital institutions of the country for the purpose of making
ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind, and crippling any power
we possess for bestowing benefits, through legislation, on the country to
which we belong?'[21] Little knowing what the future was to bring forth,
Mr. Gladstone declared that Home Rule was not to be even thought of, until
it could be proved that the Irish affairs, to which the Irish Parliament
was to be confined, could be separated from Imperial and British affairs,
a partition he evidently deemed impossible; and he insisted that the
introduction of Irish members into the Imperial Parliament, which,
according to this plan, was to have nothing to do with Ireland, was not
only essentially unjust, but involved the absurdity that these men 'were
to judge as they might think fit of the general affairs of the Empire, and
also of exclusively English and Scotch questions,' an interpretation not,
I believe, correct. Home Rule was rejected by overwhelming majorities in
the Parliament of 1874-80; and at the General Election of the last-named
year, it found no countenance, I have said, in England or Scotland. The
subject was scarcely referred to by Mr. Gladstone, wholly preoccupied by
his Midlothian campaign, and by his persistent efforts to deprive Lord
Beaconsfield of power.

Butt had sincere reverence for the Constitution and the Law; the Home Rule
movement, as long as he was at its head, was a constitutional and a lawful
movement. But this eminent man had been supplanted, by degrees, by a
politician of a very different nature; and when he had passed away in the
spring of 1879, Parnell, and what was called the 'active Irish party,'
which had baffled and incensed the House of Commons, became the directors
of the Home Rule policy. The character of the movement was almost wholly
changed; it became associated with a conspiracy hatched in the Far West,
which aimed at the separation of Ireland from Great Britain; Butt's
moderate followers fell away from it, especially the band of Protestants
who had first set it on foot. Meanwhile, American Fenianism, which had in
vain attempted open rebellion in Ireland in 1865-67, had, at the
instigation perhaps of Michael Davitt, made another effort to compass its
ends; the 'New Departure' in treason was made; the Land League was formed
with the avowed purpose of overthrowing 'Irish Landlordism,' as it was
called, as being the mainstay of British power in Ireland, and then of
wresting Ireland by force from her British rulers. But Davitt was not well
fitted for his work; Parnell became the leader of the Home Rule and the
Land League movements; and during a short visit to the United States, he
openly professed that his ultimate aim was 'to break the last link between
Great Britain and Ireland,' though he was still the chief of an apparently
constitutional cause. Ere long the Land League, availing itself of a
season of distress, and subsidised by Fenians across the Atlantic, had
taken root in different parts of Ireland; and gradually a reign of terror,
marked by detestable crime, and essentially of the Jacobin type, had
acquired a frightful ascendency in ten or eleven counties. By this time,
Mr. Gladstone had become Minister: how he denounced the League in
passionate language; endeavoured, for a few months, to hold it in check;
succumbed to it, when he made the 'Kilmainham Treaty;' and, finally, how,
after declaring that Parnell and his adherents were 'aiming at
dismemberment through rapine,' he became the author of the Land Act of
1881, and threw the Irish landed gentry as a sop to Cerberus,--is
sufficiently known, but I shall recur to the subject. During these years,
Parnell, artfully playing the double game, which this born conspirator
especially made his boast, and linking what he called 'a constitutional
with an illegal movement,' had more than once spoken on behalf of Home
Rule in the House of Commons, his moderate and even statesmanlike language
being in marked contrast with his treasonable harangues in Ireland. But
Parliament had been otherwise engaged with Irish affairs; it had become
more averse to Home Rule than ever; it had learned what the movement had
begun to involve, veiled, if not open, rebellion against the State, and it
voted down the question by immense majorities. Statesmen of all parties,
Tory, Whig, and Radical, without exception, concurred in this view; Lord
Salisbury, Lord Spencer, and John Bright alike condemned the very idea of
Home Rule. Mr. Gladstone indeed asserted afterwards that he had a policy
of this kind in his thoughts; but if he had, he kept it to himself; it
cannot be gathered from his speeches of the time; he never breathed to
his colleagues a word about it; he allowed them to pronounce against Home
Rule with his full apparent sanction.[22]

Mr. Gladstone's Ministry fell in 1885; Majuba, Gordon, and his Irish
policy had set the best sense of the country against him. Lord Salisbury's
Government came in his place; for a short time the tendency, too often
seen in British parties, to temporise with sedition and even crime in
Ireland was exhibited with untoward results; the negotiations between
Parnell and Lord Carnarvon have not yet been explained. At the General
Election of 1885, Parnell openly took the Conservative side, denounced the
Liberals in the bitterest language, and perhaps, through the influence of
the Irish vote, deprived them of a few seats in England. His principal
object certainly was to increase his own power and that of his band by
weakening the strongest of British parties; but this association with the
Conservatives probably lessened the antipathy of their opponents to Home
Rule, and was not without effect on the events that followed. Ireland,
however, was by no means a prominent question in this electoral contest;
the Tory, Whig, and Radical leaders dealt, for the most part, with
different topics; and though Mr. Gladstone dropped ambiguous phrases,
which, he ere long contended, indicated his conversion to Home Rule, his
lieutenants continued to declare against this policy, their chief
remaining openly in accord with them; indeed, all that could be collected,
from what he wrote and said, was that he called upon the country to give
him such decisive support as would make him independent of all Irish
factions. The result of this General Election, taken as a whole, was to
gain for the Liberals a majority of some eighty seats in Great Britain;
but in Ireland it effected a notable change in politics. By a recent,
and, for Ireland, a most unwise statute, the electoral franchise had been
assimilated in the Three Kingdoms; political ascendency had, for the first
time, been secured for the masses of Catholic Ireland, largely an ignorant
and superstitious multitude; property and intelligence were overwhelmed at
the polls; and Parnell and his satellites, now called Nationalists, won
more than eighty seats out of a total of one hundred and three. The
Liberal majority, therefore, would be effaced should the Irish leader and
his men give the Conservatives their votes; a weak Government would be the
inevitable result; Mr. Gladstone, now in his seventy-sixth year, could
hardly expect to return to office. In these circumstances, it became
gradually known that Mr. Gladstone had accepted Home Rule in principle,
and was even prepared to legislate upon the subject. It would be unfair to
assert that personal motives alone determined this sudden resolve; though
obviously should the Liberal chief retain the allegiance of his party, and
draw Parnell and the Nationalists to his side, by inaugurating Home Rule
as a practical measure, he would inevitably be restored to power with a
great majority. Mr. Gladstone, ever ready to yield to a popular cry, may
have believed that five-sixths of Ireland were passionately eager for Home
Rule; he may have been convinced himself that, as affairs now stood,
Parliament would well-nigh be reduced to a deadlock should nothing be done
to redress the balanced state of parties, and that Home Rule was the
condition of a stable Government; he may have thought that since the
Conservative dalliance with Parnell, it had become impossible permanently
to resist this policy; yet these considerations form no apology for the
conduct of the aged, but most impulsive, statesman. Only a few years
before large parts of Ireland had been in a state of frightful anarchy; a
rebellious and socialistic movement against British rule and Irish landed
property had acquired great force; even at the present time, the National
League, replacing the Land League, kept disorder prevalent in many
counties. Was this the moment to effect a revolution in Ireland, to tamper
with, and to impair, the Union, to hand over the loyalty, the property,
and the worth of the island to the classes and the men against whom but,
as yesterday, it had been necessary to put the severest coercion in force?

Lord Salisbury resigned office in the first months of 1886; Mr. Gladstone
became Prime Minister in his stead. Had parties in the House of Commons
remained unchanged, the prospect for the old statesman would have been
auspicious; the Liberals and Nationalists combined would have been
supreme; Home Rule would have been the fruit of the new alliance. But the
most distinguished men of the Liberal party, resenting a coalition far
worse than that of Fox and North, and convinced that Home Rule would be
ruinous to the State, fell off from their leader in large numbers; the
powerful Press of Great Britain, with few exceptions, emphatically
condemned the Minister's conduct. Mr. Gladstone, however, did not pause in
his violent course; he introduced his first Home Rule Bill in April, 1886.
I can only glance at the main features of this famous measure, and devote
to it a passing comment.[23] A Parliament was to be established in the
Irish capital; this, subject to the limitations set forth in the Bill, was
practically to exercise supreme power in Ireland. This Parliament was to
be composed of two Orders, the first containing one hundred and three
members, and formed of a few Irish peers and of men of some substance; the
second comprising two hundred and four or two hundred and six members
elected on the existing democratic franchise. The two Orders were
ordinarily to sit together; but should differences in legislative
measures arise, the first Order was, for a short time, to have a
suspensive veto on the decisions of the second Order, which, however,
possessing an immense majority, would almost necessarily in the long run
completely prevail. The Irish Parliament was precluded from legislating on
many subjects, for the most part Imperial, but partly domestic; it was
notably to have no control over the Customs and Excise of Ireland, which
were to be kept in the hands of the Imperial Parliament; and though it was
permitted to impose any other taxes, the whole revenue of Ireland was to
pass through the hands of a British official, who was to pay into the
Imperial Treasury a sum of about four millions sterling, as a contribution
from Ireland, for Imperial purposes, before the Irish Treasury could
receive a farthing. Bills voted by the Irish Parliament might be annulled
by the veto of the Lord-Lieutenant and perhaps of the British Ministry;
and the Judicial Committee of the English Privy Council, reinforced by a
small body of Irish judges, was to have the power to pronounce Acts of the
Irish Parliament void, if inconsistent with its constitutional rights.
Subject, however, to these restrictions and checks, the Irish Parliament
was to be a sovereign power in Ireland; it could practically appoint or
displace the Irish Executive Government; it could enact, change, or repeal
any laws it should think fit; it could pass any resolutions it pleased; if
an assembly partly subordinate, it would be largely supreme. Ireland was
to have no representatives in the Imperial Parliament, though this could
dispose of the Irish Customs and Excise; no Irish protest could be made at
Westminster against unjust fiscal exaction, by no means impossible. For
the rest, the Union was nominally not disturbed, and the Imperial
Parliament was nominally left intact; but it was declared that the Irish
Parliament was to possess the rights secured to it, unless these were
annulled by an Act of the Imperial Parliament, to which the Irish had
given its consent, or by an Act of the Imperial Parliament, in which
representatives from Ireland should have a voice.

The Bill was debated with great force of argument, but hardly in its high
constitutional aspects. Like the plan of Butt, and every plan of the kind,
it impliedly, if not expressly, repealed the Union, for the very creation
of an Irish Parliament destroyed the real authority of the Imperial
Parliament, the symbol and guarantee of the Union, in one of the main
parts of the Three Kingdoms. It effected a radical change in our polity as
a whole, for practically it gave birth to three Parliaments, the Irish
sitting in College Green in Dublin, the British at Westminster without
Irish members, and the Imperial, properly to be only so-called, when
assembled upon one great occasion; and, even more distinctly than the
scheme of Butt, it let the principle of Federation into the constitution
of the State. And it did all this obscurely, indirectly, and, so to speak,
with reserve; the hand of a veiled prophet appeared in his work; this must
have led to endless controversies dangerous in the extreme. Nor did the
Bill even attempt to mark out the distinction between Irish, British, and
Imperial affairs, which its author had declared was a _sine quâ non_; this
distinction, in fact, cannot be drawn, as Mr. Gladstone acknowledged
afterwards; Irish, British, and Imperial affairs so run into each other,
that they cannot be divided into separate heads, to be under the
jurisdiction of different Parliaments. The conditions, too, which Mr.
Gladstone described, as essential to a measure of Home Rule, were, in no
sense, fulfilled. 'The Unity of the Empire,' that is, of Great Britain and
Ireland, as Mr. Gladstone no doubt had in his mind, was not secured, or,
even in name, preserved; the subordinate Irish Parliament and its superior
might, and probably would, come in serious conflict; this was absolutely
inconsistent with the unity to be maintained. The 'political equality of
England, Scotland, and Ireland' was not assured; the Bill placed Ireland
in a degraded position, especially in all that dealt with taxation, and
through the exclusion of Irish members from the British House of Commons.
It did not 'produce an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens,' for
the financial arrangements were thoroughly unjust, and subjected Ireland
arbitrarily to a most galling tribute, without giving her the means of
making a complaint. It did not 'provide safeguards for the minority,' that
is, for the loyal classes of Protestant and Catholic Ireland; it handed
them over to an Irish Parliament, certain to be for years an instrument of
their avowed enemies; and its supplement, a Land Purchase Bill, did not
furnish a third part of the funds required to buy out the Irish landlords,
a class which, Mr. Gladstone declared, it was 'an obligation of duty and
honour' to save harmless, and which he admitted an Irish Parliament would,
probably, plunder and destroy. Lastly, the Bill did not secure 'finality;'
it was in no sense in the nature of a 'permanent settlement,' as
subsequent events have conclusively proved.[24]

It may be urged, however, that even if this measure made a fundamental
change in the constitution of these realms, and did not satisfy the
conditions its author laid down, still the real question was, would it
bring peace to Ireland, and improve the relations in which she stood
towards Great Britain? Mr. Gladstone and his followers assumed that this
would be the case; the 'Union of Hearts' was to accomplish marvels; but
this assumption was without the slightest warrant. The most favourable way
to consider the subject, from the point of view of the Home Rule party, is
to suppose that Great Britain and Ireland were two communities, in no
sense estranged from each other, and that Ireland was not a widely divided
people; and that both were not unwilling to accept the Bill, as a kind of
modification of the partnership made by the Treaty of Union. This
supposition would be obviously contrary to the facts; but, even on this
supposition, the proposed measure would have completely failed to attain
its objects, and, on any ordinary view of human nature, would have
exasperated Great Britain and Ireland alike, and could not have been a
'message of peace' to Ireland. The Parliament at Westminster would soon
have found out that its real sovereignty in Ireland had been practically
destroyed; that the Irish Parliament could, in many ways, interfere with
British and Imperial affairs; that most of the checks on its powers were
of little avail; this would certainly deeply offend the deceived British
nation. The Irish Parliament, on the other hand, would necessarily resent
the harsh limitations by which it had been bound; yet as it had most of
the powers of a real Parliament, it could very effectually evade or impair
these; could, through its Executive, largely annul them; could, at least,
make continual and powerful protests. Discord, and perhaps conflict,
between Great Britain and Ireland, from the nature of the case, would be
the result; and, besides, there were special provisions in the Bill which
would be deemed intolerable by five-sixths of Irishmen. Even loyal Ireland
would not endure the banishment of Irish representatives from the British
House of Commons, which would have power to impose the Irish Customs and
Excise; this would be taxation without representation, in the very worst
sense. It was monstrous that Ireland was to contribute a large sum for the
charge of the Empire and yet was to have no voice in the Empire's affairs;
it was humiliating that a British official was to have absolute control
over the whole Irish revenue. All this was subjecting Ireland to a
degrading tribute; it should be added that the prerogative of the English
Privy Council, to set aside practically Acts of the Irish Parliament,
would have provoked the deepest and most widespread discontent. The Bill,
in a word, revealed strange ignorance of the feelings of mankind; it would
have worked on the assumption only that human beings in Great Britain and
Ireland were without passions and wills of their own; it would have been
blown to the winds, when put to the test.

But 'the circumstances,' to adopt the words of Burke, 'are what render
every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind;'[25]
what were the circumstances in the present instance? England and Catholic
Ireland had been long opposed; the Land and the National Leagues formed a
conspiracy against our rule in Ireland; England had interests in Ireland
of the first importance; she had a large community of her own blood and
faith in Ireland, attached to the Union and the old mother country.
Ireland had been distracted for ages by feuds of race and religion;
Protestant and Catholic Ireland stood apart from each other; the Irish
Parliament, created by the Bill, would certainly be an instrument of the
heads of the Catholic masses, supported by Parnell and his band, and by
Fenians across the Atlantic. Under these conditions, Home Rule would have
been a fatal gift, ruinous to Great Britain and Ireland alike. Suppose,
for example, that an Irish Parliament, established in College Green, since
1886, had ruled Ireland during the war in South Africa. It would
unquestionably have taken the side of the Boers, as the Nationalist
leaders have openly done; and it would have possessed the means of doing
infinite mischief. It could have passed resolutions condemning the war;
have called on Irishmen to keep aloof from the British army; have
discouraged recruiting throughout Ireland; have sent messages of good will
to the Boer Government. But probably it would have gone far beyond these,
its constitutional, rights; it could have winked at the preparation of an
armed force in Ireland to be despatched to the aid of the Boers; it
could have invited Foreign Powers to put a stop to the conflict; nay, it
could have laid hands on the Irish taxes, and refused to 'pay tribute to
an alien Government;' and what, in these cases, would have been England's
means of obtaining redress, save by the power of the sword? In the
instance of other wars, the same course would be followed; we cannot
forget that at Nationalist meetings, the Mahdi, the Dervishes, nay, all
our enemies, were the objects of the applause of shouting Irish
multitudes. And as the Irish Parliament could injure England in war, so it
could embarrass and annoy her, in a hundred ways, in peace. There was
nothing in the Bill to prevent Protection in Ireland, for the Irish
Parliament could vote bounties on Irish exports; there was nothing to
prevent the issue of Irish assignats, to mask confiscation of different
kinds; and recourse would not improbably be had to these very expedients.
It is unnecessary to dwell on what would be the legislation of the Irish
Parliament at home, and the administration of the Executive it would have
a right to set up. Composed as it would be, it would abolish 'landlordism'
by a stroke of the pen, or by merely preventing the recovery of rent; it
would simply turn society upside down, and establish a Catholic ascendency
by many degrees worse than Protestant ascendency ever was; it would, in a
word, let revolution loose in the island. Protestant Ireland would, as a
matter of course, resist; a savage war of race and creed would certainly
follow; the scenes of 1690 and 1798 might well be repeated; and the
struggle would end in general bankruptcy. England, in her own interest,
and in that of her friends in Ireland, would assuredly intervene, under
conditions like these; and the concession of Home Rule would probably lead
to reconquest.

The Home Rule Bill of 1886--apart from the fatal evils it must have
caused--placed Ireland in such an inferior position, that every Irishman
of spirit ought to have treated it with contempt; it was so dangerous to
Great Britain, and, indeed, to the Empire, that John Bright declared that
not twenty English members approved of it at heart. Mr. Gladstone himself,
it should be remarked, regarded it with no doubtful misgivings; he
presented it to the House of Commons as 'but a choice of evils;' his
measure itself, in many passages, revealed the profoundest distrust of the
Parliament he proposed to create. Parnell, imposing his imperious will on
his followers, accepted the Bill with professions of delight; this was
effusively welcomed by the emotional statesman, deceived by an
unscrupulous plotter, over and over again; it is now known this was a mere
pretence; Home Rule, under the conditions of the scheme, would have been
made a stepping-stone only for larger demands; and this, indeed, might
have been easily foreseen. The Bill was rejected by a majority which did
not express the true sense of the House of Commons, and showed how strong
may be the ties of party; the great body of the Liberals, as, doubtless,
they now bitterly regret, threw in their lot with Mr. Gladstone in his
most reckless venture. It is of more importance to observe what the views
on the subject were of the conspirators in America, who had set the Land
and National Leagues on foot, and had supplied almost the whole of their
funds; without their assistance the movement led by Parnell would probably
have never struggled into life. The prospect opened by the Home Rule Bill
was thus welcomed by the Clan na Gael, the most energetic and daring of
the Fenian parties; it will be noted that it was to be a means only to a
very decisive end. 'The achievement of a National Parliament gives us a
footing on Irish soil; it gives us the agencies and instrumentalities of a
government _de facto_, at the very commencement of the Irish struggle. It
places the government of the land in the hands of our friends and
brothers. It removes the Castle's rings, and gives us what we may well
express as the plant of an armed revolution.'[26] And at a great Fenian
meeting held after the rejection of the Bill, one of the leading speakers
dropped these significant words: 'We have no desire to force the hand of
Parnell, or to drive the Irish people into war unprepared. All that we
demand is this, and we will be satisfied with nothing less--that no leader
of the Irish people, who is supposed to speak for them, shall commit
himself, or them, to accepting as a final settlement, bills of relief
unworthy of the dignity of Ireland's national demand. We are perfectly
willing to see them accept such bills as that of Gladstone, as a
settlement on account, but that must not be accepted as closing the
transaction. We see no wisdom in it. It lowers the tone of the national
cause. It lowers the spirit of the true people. To ask them to subside to
a species of mere provincialism is an outrage on their struggle of seven
hundred years for liberty. We admit that it may be good policy on the part
of Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt to be what is called moderate in tone; but
for us, who represent the national idea of the Irish people, it would be
worse than folly to conceal our sentiments. We recognise that Ireland is
incapable of fighting at present.'[27]

Mr. Gladstone dissolved Parliament when it had thrown the Bill out; he
appears really to have believed that the nation would give its sanction to
Home Rule. At the General Election of 1886, he exerted himself 'in the
sacred cause of Ireland,' with the energy he had shown in his Midlothian
Campaign; he associated his new Irish policy with appeals to the
multitude; the opposition to him was that 'of the classes against the
masses;' in a word, the enthusiastic, and perhaps sincere, convert played,
with little scruple, the part of a mere demagogue. But England pronounced
against him, with no uncertain voice; 'men of education and property,' as
he sadly acknowledged, resisted him with the steadfastness of the English
nature; a great majority was sent into the House of Commons pledged
against Home Rule; Lord Salisbury's Government came again into office. It
deserves special notice that the rejection of the Bill did not, as was
predicted would be the case, arouse anything like real discontent in
Ireland, or cause her Catholic community to stir; this spectacle, which
has been seen over and over again, proves how little the main body of the
Irish people care for a political revolution of the kind; and how Home
Rule, as Parnell and his band conceived it, was the work of a conspiracy
of foreign origin, seeking, through it, to subvert British rule in
Ireland. The real purpose of these men was very clearly shown at a
Convention assembled at Chicago, in the summer of 1886; speeches of the
most incendiary nature were made; and two of Parnell's envoys, despatched
to collect funds 'for the cause,' announced that, after the failure of Mr.
Gladstone's measure, their 'duty was to make the government of Ireland by
England impossible.' Two or three years of trouble in Ireland followed; it
is unnecessary to refer to these at any length. A season of agricultural
distress and of a fall in prices made the payment of Irish rents
difficult; the occasion was seized by the heads of the National League,
which had gradually been acquiring formidable strength; the 'Plan of
Campaign' was set afoot; and another attack was made on the Irish landed
gentry, with the ultimate object of paralysing the Irish Government, as
had been solemnly proclaimed at Chicago. The social disorder of this
period was not so deeply marked with horrible deeds of blood, as the
Saturnalia of the Land League were; but the movement was, perhaps, not
less dangerous; the cruel practice of 'boycotting' was reduced to a
system, and caused widespread misery and distress; an agrarian war was
carried on in a few counties; judges, magistrates, and juries were
terrorised in the administration of the law; and there were too numerous
instances of atrocious crimes. But a firm hand was at the helm of the
Irish Government; Mr. Balfour did not palter with sedition and treason;
the conspiracy was before long put down; and it should be added that
'boycotting' and 'the Plan of Campaign' were unequivocally condemned at
Rome.

In this struggle between the forces of disorder and law, the Rump of the
Liberal party, which had accepted Home Rule, freely declared itself on the
side of the National League and of anarchy. Mr. Gladstone, however,
towered over his fellows; his vehement and, when aroused, unscrupulous
nature, has never been more unfortunately displayed. He had been three
times at the head of the State, charged with the administration of Irish
affairs; the Government in office was engaged in a conflict with a
conspiracy of no contemptible strength; yet Mr. Gladstone did not shrink
from throwing his full weight into the scale against it, and giving his
sanction to the movement led by Parnell and his creatures. His conduct was
so flagrantly at odds with his former self, that, but for the gravity of
the situation, it would have been ludicrous; it consisted in adoring what
he had burned, and burning what he had adored; nothing like it had been
seen since Fox, breaking away from the traditions of British statesmen,
flung himself into the arms of Jacobin France, and rejoiced at every
reverse that befell England.[28] A remarkable episode in the politics of
the day was not without real effect on events that followed. The acts of
the Land and, in part, of the National Leagues, and of the leaders of the
revolutionary movements which had convulsed Ireland, were investigated by
the judges of the Special Commission appointed by Parliament for the
purpose; the inquiry, which lasted many months, was of supreme importance;
such a damning sentence was never pronounced on a body of public men, as
that pronounced on Parnell and his followers, though the accusation of
treason was not brought into question.[29] This decision was sufficient
for well-informed and sensible men; but Parnell was acquitted on a
personal, but minor, charge, that of having been the author of the
well-known forged letters all but approving of the assassinations in the
Phoenix Park; Mr. Gladstone and his adherents welcomed him as an injured
martyr; the House of Commons rang with their plaudits when he re-entered
its walls. For a few months Parnell became a popular personage in
democratic England; he had negotiations with Mr. Gladstone with respect to
Home Rule, the tenor of which has not transpired; his satellites appeared
at many public meetings, and split the ears of the groundlings with
plausible talk about 'self-government' for Ireland and the 'Union of
Hearts.' This mystification and falsehood were not without effect; the
cause of Home Rule made a kind of progress in England; and, strange to
say, the fall of Parnell which ere long followed--I shall not dwell on its
squalid and grotesque incidents--had an influence in the same direction.
Ireland had been brought into a state of comparative repose; the power of
the National League appeared broken; the formidable leader of the
conspiracy had left the stage; his adherents were scattered sheep, which
had not a shepherd. With the ignorance of Irish affairs so common to
Englishmen, and the desire, partly selfish, but partly generous, to 'get
rid of the Irish difficulty,' by any tolerable means, thousands in the
constituencies, even in England, lately bitterly hostile to it, were
gradually won over to the idea of Home Rule.

The General Election of 1892 followed; a number of causes, in addition to
that I have set forth, contributed to favour the Home Rule movement. The
'swing of the pendulum,' seen in British politics, since Democracy has
gained the ascendant, very distinctly appeared; the 'idea that each side
ought to have its innings' was widely spread; many Unionist seats were
lost by these means. The extraordinary energy shown by Mr. Gladstone, at
an age far beyond the ordinary span, had considerable influence on the
masses; and though his real authority had been long on the wane, he was
still the popular figure in England and, above all, in Scotland. He had,
also, carefully kept his Home Rule scheme to himself; it was announced by
his followers that his next measure for securing 'self-government,' as it
was called, for Ireland, would be free from the manifest faults of that of
1886, and would finally, and happily, settle the question. A large part of
the electorate was gained in this way; but the influence that most
effectually assisted Mr. Gladstone was, essentially, of a very different
kind. The Anti-Unionist Liberals had been out of power for many years;
though they had long been split into separate groups, they resolved to
combine against the common enemy, and to drive the Unionist Government
from its seat, by appeals to the ideas they assumed were dominant in
democratic England and Scotland. The Newcastle programme was
ostentatiously published; the question of Home Rule was mixed up with
projects for disestablishing the Church in England and Wales, for the
destruction or the emasculation of the House of Lords, for enforcing
temperance by the tyranny of the Local Veto, for extending the suffrage
and raising the labourer's status; in this way they satisfied themselves
they 'would sweep the country.' They knew, indeed, that Mr. Gladstone had
no heart for much of their policy; but his passionate eagerness to
accomplish Home Rule was notorious; they believed that by giving him a
cordial support on this question, they would secure his powerful aid for
the others, and that by the process known as 'log-rolling,' they would
attain their objects. The Unionist party was weakened at the election; but
the sanguine hopes of its opponents were not fulfilled. Many of the
Radical cries were far from popular; they nearly all combined large
classes against them; England returned a large majority to the House of
Commons pledged against Home Rule, if not so considerable as six years
before; and though Scotland and Wales were, in the main, favourable to Mr.
Gladstone's policy, still the electorate of Great Britain, as a whole,
pronounced against it. The election in Ireland presented features which,
with respect to Home Rule, were of marked significance. In 1886, as in
1885, the educated and upper classes were swamped at the polls, by the
flood of illiterate and indigent multitudes; the Irish Catholic Church
used, nay, abused, its immense authority, to secure votes for Mr.
Gladstone's coming measure. The same spectacle was beheld in 1892; but an
element of confusion and disorder came in; the leaders of the factions,
divided by the fall of Parnell, though Nationalists, ferociously flew at
each other's throats; the election was marked by disgraceful scenes of
lawlessness. These certainly prefigured what would be the character of a
future Irish Parliament sitting in College Green.

This election gave Mr. Gladstone a majority of some forty seats in the
House of Commons, but a majority composed of not well-united elements; and
the best opinion of England was strongly averse to his policy. But the
veteran statesman--he was in his eighty-third year--did not pause for a
moment in his headlong venture, though ominous sounds were being already
heard; after the resignation of Lord Salisbury, through a weak adverse
vote, his rival became Prime Minister for the fourth time. He had staked
everything to obtain the success of the cause to which he had passionately
devoted his declining years; he brought in his second Home Rule Bill in
the first months of 1893. The measure had much in common with that of
1886; but in some respects it was very different, especially in one
feature of supreme importance. An Irish Parliament was again to be set up
in Dublin; but it was to be a much smaller body than that proposed by the
previous Bill; it was to be composed of a Legislative Council of
forty-eight members only, and of a Legislative Assembly of only a hundred
and three; these were analogous to the First and Second Orders of 1886,
but were not to be even half in numbers; and no Irish peers were to have a
place in the new Parliament. The Legislative Council and Assembly,
differing here from the original scheme, were to sit, not together, but
apart; but the Legislative Council, like the First Order, was to have a
temporary suspensive veto on the Assembly's acts; the Assembly, too, like
the Second Order, possessing a majority which would place real power in
its hands; and both bodies, it should be added, being more democratic than
the two which were to have been created in 1886. The new Irish Parliament,
like that to be formed seven years before, was restricted by
limitations--these much the same as those contained in the former Bill--in
a number of Imperial and domestic matters; it was, like its predecessor,
to be subjected to the same kind of veto, and to nearly the same authority
of the English Privy Council. In finance, the 'tribute,' which had been
loudly condemned by all parties in Ireland, was given up; there was to be
no British official to lay his hands on Irish revenue, and to divert it
from its legitimate uses; but the Irish Customs were to be appropriated to
the Imperial charge, which Ireland was declared to be justly liable to
pay; and this was a sum of about two millions and a half, with an addition
for a time of one million, a sum less than the estimate made in 1886. The
Irish Parliament, however, if thus made largely subordinate, was like the
Parliament of the preceding Bill, to be in many, and most important,
respects supreme. It was to rule Ireland as a sovereign power, subject to
the limitations by which it was to be bound; it could make, change, and
repeal laws, as regards the Irish community, almost as it pleased; it
could, in a word, do nearly everything within the province of a real
Parliament. Above all, it could appoint and control the Irish Executive
Government, to which the administration of Irish affairs would belong; and
it would thus have complete power over the most important machinery of the
State.

The Bills of 1886 and of 1893 so far resembled each other, with some
distinctions; but, in other respects, they markedly differed. The
supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, implied but not expressed in the
first scheme, was unequivocally asserted in the second, though this
supremacy could not be effective, as respects Ireland. The Imperial
Parliament was nominally left untouched by both Bills, though this was a
play on words only; but it was to hold a position in the second it was not
to hold in the first; the Union was not in terms repealed by either
measure, though virtually it was repealed by both, through the mere
creation of an Irish Parliament. The Bill of 1886 had, as its complement,
a Land Purchase Bill; in fact, both were made parts of the same policy; a
sum of £50,000,000 was to be an indemnity for Irish landlords who should
think fit to part with their estates; for Mr. Gladstone, we have seen, had
declared that it was 'an obligation of duty and honour' to protect this
order of men; and he asserted that Parliament would, doubtless, vote any
further sums required, a singular exhibition of credulous hope, for these
would have amounted to £150,000,000 at least; and he had himself, in a
speech addressed to Lord George Hamilton, valued the lands of Ireland at
£300,000,000. But what was to be deemed sacred, in 1886, had a very
different aspect in 1893; the settlement of the Irish land was, indeed,
withheld for three years from the Irish Parliament, but, after this brief
space of time, this was to be certainly left to a body, which Mr.
Gladstone had evidently thought would make short work of the Irish landed
gentry, and would drive them, in beggary, out of their own country. These
differences, however, between the two Bills, sank into insignificance
compared to a vital distinction which made them essentially unlike each
other, and made their projects of Home Rule completely dissimilar. The
exclusion of Irish representatives from the House of Commons at
Westminster, under the measure of 1886, was palpably unjust, and had been
condemned with much force of argument. Mr. Gladstone proposed to redress
this wrong by summoning eighty Irish members into the Imperial House of
Commons; these were to have no cognisance of British questions, but were
to have a right to vote on Imperial and even Irish questions, though the
Imperial Parliament was to have little or no power in Ireland, and an
Irish Parliament was practically to fill its place, and to have all but
supreme authority over Irish affairs. This strange expedient obviously
made the Home Rule schemes of 1886 and 1893 altogether different; but Mr.
Gladstone never saw the essential distinction; he maintained that the
inclusion of the Irish members was little more than a detail of the
measure. It would be perhaps unfair to insist that he introduced this
immense change in order only to strengthen his already enfeebled party,
which would be greatly in want of Irish votes at Westminster; more
probably his intellect, yielding to old age, did not thoroughly grasp all
that was involved in his project.[30]

The Bill of 1893, from a purely constitutional point of view, was
infinitely more objectionable than that of 1886. It not only, I have said,
virtually repealed the Union; it created a kind of Federalism in these
realms to which there has never been a parallel. The Irish Parliament was
practically to rule Ireland; no British members were to show their faces
in it; it was to be all but the sovereign of the Irish State. The British
Parliament was nominally to be sovereign of the British State;
representatives from Ireland were not to appear in it, and, in theory,
they were not to deal with British questions. The Imperial Parliament was
to be analogous to a supreme Federal Council; this ought to have
jurisdiction over Imperial affairs alone; but eighty Irish members were to
have seats in it, and they were to have a right to vote on Imperial and
Irish questions, though Ireland was to have a separate Parliament of her
own. This arrangement, in conception, was simply monstrous; it gave
Ireland powers to which she had no pretence to a claim; it really
subjected Great Britain to her; it formed a Federation in which a weak and
small State was to have immense authority over another tenfold as strong;
it might be described as one-sided Federalism run mad. Passing from the
main principles to the details of the Bill, this, like its predecessor,
did not satisfy the conditions Mr. Gladstone had deemed to be essential.
It did not separate British, Irish, and Imperial affairs; its author
admitted at last that this was not possible. It asserted the supremacy of
the Imperial Parliament, and gave it a more imposing position than it had
under the Bill of 1886; but it did not maintain the Unity of the Three
Kingdoms; the mere creation of an Irish Parliament placed this in
jeopardy. It did not provide for the 'political equality' of Great Britain
and Ireland, for, in contradiction to the measure of seven years before,
it practically gave Ireland a kind of ascendency; her representatives were
to possess rights in no sense to be justified. It did not provide an
'equitable distribution of Imperial burdens;' in this province it would
have done wrong to Great Britain; for, while it abandoned the odious Irish
tribute of 1886, and an effective control over Irish revenue, its
expedient of allocating the Irish Customs, and nothing else, as the only
source for the payment of Imperial charges, would, in all probability,
have caused the Imperial Treasury a great loss; the Customs would have
been enormously reduced by smuggling, to which Irishmen have always been
much addicted, which the Irish Parliament would have no interest to
prevent, and which, very likely, it would directly encourage. Again, it
did not create 'safeguards for the minority;' as we have seen, it threw
the Irish landed gentry, after a brief respite, to the wolves, that is, to
the tender mercies of the Irish Parliament; and, like the measure of 1886,
it took no heed of Protestant and loyal Catholic Ireland, as a whole,
though this assuredly was 'a minority' that required protection. Finally,
it could not have effected a 'permanent settlement' of the affairs of
Ireland; a 'lopsided' and iniquitous arrangement like this would certainly
have had a very short existence.

The measure of 1893, in short, would have effected a complete revolution
in the polity of these realms; it would have given the least important of
the Three Kingdoms an iniquitous authority over the most important; it
would unnaturally have placed weakness in superiority to power; it would
have subjected the dominant to the lesser partner; all this, it will be
observed, followed from the inclusion of Irish representatives in the
Imperial Parliament, who, though a Parliament in Dublin was to rule
Ireland, were to have a right to deal with Imperial and Irish questions.
Mr. Gladstone, I repeat, seems never to have understood the strange and
ruinous consequences this would involve; but this can be made manifest by
one or two examples. The Irish members would be excluded from the British
Parliament, and would have no right to vote on purely British questions,
say upon the extension of the British railway system, or the
disfranchisement of an English or Scottish borough. But they would have
eighty seats in the Imperial Parliament; and as it was impossible to
separate a number of British questions from those of an Imperial or Irish
character, they would have a most potent influence over British affairs;
for example, they could legitimately vote upon such subjects as the
confidence to be placed in a British Ministry, the financial relations
between Great Britain and Ireland, or the validity of British incumbrances
affecting Irish estates. The exclusion, however, of Irish members from the
British Parliament, and their introduction into the Imperial Parliament,
would have led to even more disastrous results; it must, in many
instances, have caused a complete paralysis of the State. This in-and-out
plan, as it was derisively called, must have made Parliamentary government
well-nigh impossible; if Irish members were to have a right to vote in the
same House of Commons on Imperial and Irish questions, but were not to
have a right to vote on British questions, to vote, say, upon a war with a
Foreign Power, and upon the domicile and status of Irish subjects, but not
to vote on matters of purely British commerce, there might, and very often
would be, two conflicting majorities in the leading House of Parliament;
Parliamentary affairs would be brought to a stand; the tenure of even the
strongest Ministry would be utterly insecure. It is needless to point out
that the relations between Great Britain and Ireland would almost
certainly have been more strained, under the Bill of 1893, than they would
have been under that of 1886; and that the government of Ireland by the
Irish Parliament, would, under both, have been much of the same character.
The British nation would have been indignant at the humiliation of their
ancient Parliament, which would be sometimes placed at the mercy of Irish
members; it would have condemned the weakening in Ireland of its
authority, through the mere establishment of an Irish Parliament; it would
have been sorely vexed that Irish smuggling would filch away a large part
of British revenue. It should be borne in mind, too, that the Irish
members, who would have been let into the Imperial Parliament, would have
been more difficult to deal with, by many degrees, more openly disloyal,
more obstructive, than Irish Nationalists could be, as affairs stand at
present; they would have the support of the Irish Parliament; the Imperial
Parliament could hardly impose a check on them. As for the rule of the
Irish Parliament, within its proper domain, it would have been the same,
or much the same, under either measure; that is, it would have been a
succession of angry wranglings with England and oppression in Ireland,
leading to anarchy and general ruin.

The Home Rule Bill of 1886, in a word, bad measure as it was, was
innoxious compared to the Home Rule Bill of 1893. The fatal tendency of
the scheme was quickly perceived; the sound mind of England was profoundly
stirred; the Bill was publicly burned in the City of London; innumerable
petitions against it flowed in; an immense assembly, representing loyal
Catholic and Protestant Ireland, met in the capital, and denounced this
whole policy in most determined language. As had happened, too, seven
years before, the Press of Great Britain, all but universally, condemned
the new measure as hopelessly bad; it was significant that the Liberal
Press was well-nigh silent, and that Mr. Gladstone was supported by very
few petitions. The Opposition simply tore the Bill to shreds in the House
of Commons; but the self-deluded Minister desperately held his course; the
Radical groups servilely gave him their votes; the process of
'log-rolling,' never before so recklessly displayed, kept his petty
majority almost intact, a crying disgrace to any party in the State. At
last, whether afraid of the country rising against him or yielding to the
instigation of his Irish allies--his subserviency to their truculence had
been most painful--Mr. Gladstone forced the measure through the House of
Commons by a method never employed before; 'closure by compartments,'
rightly compared to the 'guillotine,' put an end to resistance by
iniquitous means. The Bill passed the Lower House by thirty-four votes
only; not half of it had been examined or discussed; the part that had,
had been so completely transformed, that its parent could hardly have
known his own offspring. The most notable of these changes was that the
in-and-out plan was given up; its ruinous effects had been fully dragged
into the light, but an arrangement, perhaps even worse, had been placed in
its stead. Ireland was to retain her Parliament in College Green; but the
eighty Irish members were to have a right to sit in the Imperial
Parliament, and to vote on all questions, not only Imperial and Irish, but
strictly British alike. A philosophic and calm-minded writer has indicated
what this would involve: 'Irish members may disestablish the Church of
England, though England is to have no voice in the pettiest of Irish
affairs. Irish members are to be allowed to impose taxes on England, say,
to double the income tax, though of these taxes no inhabitant of Ireland
will pay a penny; the Irish delegation, and this is the worst grievance of
all, is to be enabled, in combination with a British minority, to detach
Wales from England, or to vote Home Rule for Scotland, or to federalise
still further the United Kingdom by voting that Man, Jersey, and Guernsey
shall send members to the Imperial Parliament.'[31] To say that this
proposal would be unconstitutional would be to do it too much honour; it
was scandalous in the existing situation of affairs; it implied that heads
of the National League, leaders of a rebellious and socialistic movement,
would have the power, without restriction or check, to rule the Imperial
Parliament, in many instances, with reference to exclusively English and
Scottish questions; it practically bound Great Britain hand and foot in
fetters to Ireland; it was rightly called 'an absurd piece of infamy.' It
is unnecessary to say that the system it would have established could not
have stood a trial of even three months; England, whenever crossed, would
have indignantly swept it away. But Nemesis had commended the poisoned
chalice to Mr. Gladstone's lips; the project, on which he had staked his
fortunes, was that which he had incorrectly ascribed to Butt, and had
declared to be impossible and worse.

The Bill, it was notorious, could not have passed the House of Commons had
not its rejection by the House of Lords been assured beforehand. It
received its quietus, in that assembly, by a majority of about ten to one;
the mind of England felt unquestionable relief; a great national peril had
been averted. Exactly as had happened in 1886, scarcely a sound of
discontent was heard in Ireland; the demand for Home Rule, in fact, is
largely a fictitious cry, with which the great body of Irishmen has little
or no sympathy; the evidence of this can be no longer doubtful. Mr.
Gladstone retired, within a few months, from public life; one of his last
acts was to shoot a Parthian arrow at the House of Lords, which, happily
for these realms, had wrecked his policy; since that time he has
disappeared from the scene; few eminent statesmen have been so soon
forgotten. Home Rule was scattered to the winds at the General Election of
1895; it has not been a prominent question at that of 1900; but if Ireland
has sent more than eighty of its supporters into the House of Commons, the
best elements in her community remain angrily hostile; and the opinion of
Great Britain is distinctly adverse. For many reasons, however, as I have
remarked, it is impossible to ignore the subject; in the strange chances
and changes of British politics, and under our system of party government,
a minister may again become an advocate of Home Rule, though certainly
not in the present Parliament. Mr. Gladstone's Bills, it is likely, will
not be heard of again; but Home Rule may be embodied in other forms; I may
briefly refer to, and comment, on these. The project of restoring the
Parliament of 1782-1800, an ideal of O'Connell during many years of his
life, will hardly be revived in these times; the conditions in Great
Britain and Ireland have so completely changed. The centripetal forces
which, a hundred years ago, held the British and Irish Parliaments, in the
main, together--they differed, however, on important questions--have long
ago been all but completely destroyed; the present Irish Parliament could
not be an assembly identified in race and faith with England; its House of
Commons could not be elected by a small body of Protestants, and latterly
by masses of Catholic peasants, the serfs of their landlords. The
centrifugal forces, on the other hand, those which would keep the two
Parliaments utterly apart, would probably be overwhelmingly strong; the
Irish House of Commons would practically, at least for years, be ruled by
the nominees of the National League and of the Irish Catholic priesthood;
its electorate would, for the most part, be subject to these dominant
powers; and Protestant Ireland would alike be swamped and incensed.
Nevertheless, the restoration of what has been called Grattan's
Parliament, would, in my judgment, be a much better project than either of
Mr. Gladstone's schemes of Home Rule. The Irish Parliament would be bound
by known and fixed precedents, which it would be difficult wholly to
disregard; an Irish House of Lords would exist as a check on the House of
Commons; above all--and this is of the very first importance--the Irish
Executive would not be subject to the Irish Parliament; it would be
appointed from Westminster by British statesmen. A Parliament of this type
could hardly effect the ruinous mischiefs which Mr. Gladstone's Irish
Parliaments could certainly effect.

Ireland, it has been urged, would obtain Home Rule, if she were
assimilated to one of our self-governing colonies. These nations, as they
may fitly be called, are by no means, as is commonly supposed, wholly
independent of the Crown and the Imperial Parliament; they have
Parliaments and Executives of their own; but these in theory, and partly
in fact, are subordinate. No Act passed by the Parliament of a
self-governing colony can in any way contravene an Imperial statute; the
governor of a self-governing colony is a real governor; appeals run to the
English Privy Council from colonial Courts of Justice. Nevertheless,
self-governing colonies are practically all but independent; they pay no
contribution to Imperial charges; they maintain their own garrisons,
without a British army in their midst--at least, in a great many cases;
they are hardly ever interfered with by the Imperial Parliament, or by the
men in power at Westminster. Why, it may be argued, should not the same
liberties belong to Ireland, for centuries the peccant part of these
kingdoms; would not the concession make her as loyal as most of our
self-governing colonies? The answer is short, but amply sufficient; the
circumstances of our self-governing colonies and of Ireland are altogether
different. In none of these settlements is there the profound estrangement
which has long divided Great Britain from Ireland; in none is there a
community in which a loyal minority is separated from a disaffected
majority by long-standing discords of race and faith; Ireland is at our
doors, our self-governing colonies distant. Give Ireland a Parliament like
that of Victoria, and Ireland would break off from the British connection;
the Irish Parliament would possess ample power to trample on and oppress
hundreds of thousands of law-abiding men, of whom the protection was
England's duty; the Irish Parliament and Executive, within a few leagues
of our coasts, could, in innumerable ways, do infinite mischief. The
supposed analogy, therefore, completely fails; it would be treason to the
State, and to loyal Irishmen, to make Ireland a self-governing colony; and
no British politician has as yet countenanced this mode of Home Rule. It
has been hinted again, but with bated breath and humbleness, that the
relations of Great Britain and Ireland have been so long unfortunate, such
a dreary record of disputes and miseries, that we should say to our
intractable partner, 'Depart in peace;' in a word, separation is a
conceivable Home Rule policy. This proposal has never been discussed in
Parliament; the interest, the self-respect, the pride of Englishmen almost
forbid the thought. Yet separation, strange as it may appear, would be a
better and more safe expedient than either of Mr. Gladstone's schemes of
Home Rule. The Imperial Parliament would have complete liberty to exercise
its sovereign power in Great Britain; it would have a free hand to prevent
injustice in Ireland, either by the strong arm, or by fiscal and other
expedients, say, by laying an embargo on Irish products; it would not be
subject to the exasperating but often effective checks which Home Rule
would in any form involve; and the Imperial Executive would possess ample
means to protect the interests of England and of her friends in Ireland.
Let it not be forgotten that in perhaps the ablest speech ever made, in
the House of Commons, on this subject, Peel declared that he would
infinitely prefer separation to a repeal of the Union, by no means so evil
a policy as Home Rule.

A few politicians, however, have put the theory forward that 'Home Rule
all round' will meet the 'national demand' of Ireland, and give her what
they are pleased to call 'self-government.' England, Scotland, Ireland,
and perhaps Wales are to have local Parliaments to deal with their own
affairs; Imperial affairs are to be directed by an Imperial Council. I am
willing to admit that a scheme of this kind would be better than Mr.
Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1893; it would be less illogical, possibly
not more disastrous. But I must be permitted to doubt whether these sages
understand what their project certainly involves; this, indeed, seems to
be rather in the nature of a device to angle for Nationalist votes,
without scruple, and then to propose a plan which England, Scotland,
Ireland, and Wales have never asked for, and which England and Scotland,
at least, would indignantly reject. This scheme is pure Federalism, in the
proper sense of the word; let us briefly consider what this means from the
very nature of the case. England, Scotland, Ireland, and, I assume, Wales
would form separate States; they would have separate Legislatures and
Executives to manage their local affairs, separate local forces, separate
Courts of Justice; they would be, essentially, separate countries. The
Imperial Parliament and its Executive would be the only link between them;
there would be an Imperial army, and navy, and Imperial tribunals; but the
Imperial Parliament and its Executive would only have jurisdiction over
Imperial affairs, and would be only the head of the separate States as
respects Foreign Powers. But as it would be difficult in the extreme,
under these conditions, to distinguish local from Imperial affairs, an
arbiter of some kind, armed with sufficient powers, would be necessary to
say what affairs were local and what Imperial, and decisively to pronounce
on the subject, on the innumerable occasions when the question would
arise; and it would be necessary, too, that there should be some means,
perhaps a Referendum to a popular vote, to effect any constitutional
change, to reform or to abolish the Constitution itself. This scheme
obviously would be complex, intricate, and difficult to carry into effect;
it would be a huge system of divided, and probably conflicting, powers,
not easy to reconcile with each other; for this, and other reasons, it
would require a formal Constitution reduced to writing, and setting forth,
under distinct heads or articles, the conditions of the Federation that
had been established, the spheres of the authority of the separate
States, and the sphere of the authority of the Imperial Council. Is it
possible to suppose that the Parliament of the United Kingdom would ever
break up this ancient and undivided Monarchy; would tamely surrender its
sovereign rights, and would substitute a new-fangled fabric of this kind
for the venerable and unwritten constitution of these realms--a majestic
temple that has grown up in silence; and that the British people, at all
events, would not rise up in wrath at the very thought of such a change?
For Federalism 'amounts to a proposal for changing the whole constitution
of the United Kingdom. It is, in fact, the most "revolutionary" proposal,
if the word "revolutionary" be used in its strict sense, which has ever
been submitted to an English Parliament. The abolition of the House of
Lords, the disestablishment of the Church, the abolition of the Monarchy,
might leave the English Constitution far less essentially changed than
would the adoption of Federalism.'[32]

It should be observed, too, with respect to this subject, that the
conditions, under which Federalism would have a chance of success, would
be absolutely wanting in the present instance. England, Scotland, Ireland,
and Wales have long been moulded into a single sovereign State, and united
under a supreme Monarchy; no Federation, I venture to assert, has been
formed out of communities that have had a government of this kind.
Federations, in fact, have almost always grown out of an association of
existing States, which desire to remain separate, and yet to be a nation
for some purposes; they have not been evolved out of the fragments of one
State artificially rent asunder. Again, Federalism requires that no single
State should be enormously more powerful than the other partners; there
must be something like equality between the different States;[33] it is
unnecessary to remark that England has tenfold the resources and strength
of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; and, in truth, would annihilate the
Federation were her will really crossed, and break through the arbitrary
limitations imposed on her. Suppose, for example, that England had set her
heart on a great foreign war, and had the support of her own Parliament;
does any one suppose that, if she were outvoted, by deputies from
Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, in the Imperial Council, even though backed
by their own Parliaments, the people of England would submit to be
thwarted in this way; was Samson bound by the withs of the Philistines?
Something like this, indeed, was seen in the great Civil War; the result
was the subjugation of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and the complete
ascendency of England, under Cromwell; an attempt to federalise the Three
Kingdoms might lead to a similar issue. Let us assume, however, that,
through some evil stroke of destiny, Federalism were made the constitution
of these realms, and that this strange arrangement could be made to work
even for a few years; the inevitable consequences, from the nature of the
case, would follow. The omnipotence of the Imperial Parliament, the
mainstay of the Empire, would be gone; so would the omnipotence of the
Imperial Executive Government, the best security for justice and for equal
liberties. Their powers would be parcelled out and subdivided; they would
not survive anywhere in their complete fulness; they would be distributed
in fractions between separate States, and would be transformed and
impaired in the process; real Imperial unity and sovereignty could have no
existence. General national weakness would be the probable result,
leading, perhaps, to despotism within a short time; for Federalism is
essentially weak; I have no sympathy with Jacobin France, but the
Committee of Public Safety rightly put Federalism down, when they were
engaged in their death-struggle with Europe; and Napoleon--perhaps the
ablest ruler of the nineteenth century--approved of their conduct. But
weakness would not be the only consequence; the dissemination of different
powers would certainly produce disputes and conflicts between the Federal
and the State authorities; above all, the very existence of separate
States and of a Federal Government would divide allegiance, and powerfully
tend to disruption, as was seen in the great Civil War in America. As
regards Ireland, the establishment of 'Home Rule all round' would
necessarily be attended by all the evils inseparable from Mr. Gladstone's
schemes; but Federalism, having been thus made manifest, would probably
increase, and in some sense justify, the alienation of Ireland from the
other parts of these kingdoms.

Home Rule, therefore, whatever the form it may assume, would be, it is my
firm conviction, incompatible with the welfare of the Three Kingdoms,
injurious to Great Britain, a curse to Ireland. In the peculiar
circumstances which exist in Ireland, and to which I have adverted before,
separation, I believe, would be an expedient less disastrous than Home
Rule of any description, this involving the creation of an Irish
Parliament, and of an Irish Executive, which would be its instrument. Home
Rule, in fact, gloss it over as you please, has been forced to the front
by an Irish faction, hostile to a man to the existence of British rule in
Ireland, and depending on Fenianism in the United States; this party would
be all-powerful in an Irish Parliament; and Home Rule would be made the
means to a ruinous and disgraceful end. Thousands of Irishmen, indeed,
honestly think Home Rule would do their country good, and have little or
nothing to do with this bad conspiracy; this too, doubtless, is the case
with the followers of Mr. Gladstone; but Home Rule is an Irish Nationalist
movement, and Irish Nationalist movements are dangerous to the safety of
the State. The Union, therefore, must be maintained in the interest of
Great Britain and Ireland alike; and the Union is an international
settlement that has endured for a century. But no candid student of Irish
history, no impartial observer of Irish affairs, from 1800 to the present
time, can deny that the Union has been in many respects a failure. It has
been an incident, perhaps a result, of the Union, that Presbyterian
Ireland, rebellious from 1795 to 1798, has, we have seen, become attached
to the British connection, and is now devotedly attached to England. The
power of the Imperial Parliament and of its Executive have kept
lawlessness and disorder down in Ireland, and has restrained the evil
passions of Irish factions more than was ever the case under the rule of
the Irish Parliament. The Imperial Parliament, too, has accomplished
reforms in Ireland, if often unwise, in the main beneficent; and, under
the Imperial Executive, justice in Ireland has been administered, for many
years, in a very different way from that which was seen a century ago; its
tribunals are perfectly free and impartial. But the Union was, in itself,
a bad half measure, tainted with iniquity and false promises; it did gross
wrong to Catholic Ireland; the evil consequences are felt to this hour.
The Union has not fulfilled the sanguine hopes of Pitt; Ireland, as I have
pointed out, is far more behind Great Britain in wealth than she was sixty
years ago; she is perhaps the poorest country in Europe at the door of the
richest. The Union, too, has not reconciled the feuds of religion and race
in Ireland; they are as marked as they were a century ago, if not attended
with such deeds of violence; above all, the Union has not made the chief
part of the Irish community attached to England, as Pitt confidently
predicted would certainly happen. Nor can it be denied that the Irish
reforms of the Imperial Parliament have too often been ill-designed and
faulty, especially, as we shall see, as regards the land; and they have
unfortunately, in many instances, been concessions to agitation and
dangerous social movements, and have been effected too late to do real
good. The administration of Ireland reveals the same defects; it has been
marked by good intentions, which, sometimes, have proved gross mistakes;
and notably it has, over and over again, been shifty, vacillating, without
principle, and showing a curious disregard of sound Irish opinion.
Unquestionably, too, Ireland has, on many occasions, to the indignation of
true-hearted Irishmen, been made the mere plaything of British faction,
with the worst results to her best interests; this has been perhaps the
most pernicious incident that has followed the Union; and in the immense
revolution which has transformed Ireland, within the last hundred years,
the effects that may be traced to the Union have by no means been wholly
on the side of good.

These evil consequences cannot be really questioned; it is very advisable
to consider their causes, and if possible to see how they can be removed
or lessened. They are partly to be ascribed to the fact that Great Britain
and Ireland are countries differing from each other in most important
respects, and standing, so to speak, on different planes of existence;
this alone makes British rule in Ireland difficult, and perplexes and
embarrasses British statesmen. They are partly due to defects in the
English national character, essentially just in intention, and even
generous, but with no sympathy with races of a character unlike its own,
self-asserting, obstinate, sometimes rude and offensive; this has had
marked and evil effects in the affairs of Ireland. They are largely to be
attributed to the nature of Irish administration, seldom consistent, and
changing with party changes: British statesmen appear at the Castle; rule
for a few years; and then depart and give place to successors, who
probably carry out a very different policy. They are largely due to the
nature of the representation of Ireland, notably of late years; the
Nationalist party--and the same remark applies, in some degree, to the
'Tail' of O'Connell--have shown such an aversion to England, have used
such seditious and even criminal language, have been so extravagant and
wild in their demands, and have been such a dangerous element in the House
of Commons, that Englishmen and Scotchmen turn away from Irish questions
with disgust, and Ireland unfortunately has often been the sufferer. But
the most important of these causes, one which may be traced throughout
Irish history, and has been scarcely less evident since the Union, has
been the strange but signal ignorance of Irish affairs--of all, in a word,
that relates to Ireland--which has been but too characteristic of the
British people, and, in a lesser degree, of many British statesmen. This
capital fault aroused the _sæva indignatio_, of Swift; it was exposed by
Grattan, O'Connell, even by Lord Clare; it was condemned in severe but
thoughtful language by Burke; it has been conspicuous during the events of
the last twenty years.[34] The resulting mischiefs have been numerous and
grave in the extreme; can nothing be done to mitigate these and to make
them less, consistently with maintaining the Union in its full
completeness? I, for one, have long thought that much could be effected
were the Imperial Parliament occasionally to hold its sessions in Dublin,
and to govern Ireland directly, so to speak, on the spot. This very
measure was proposed by many distinguished Irishmen, during the agitation
for Repeal in 1843-44; it was made the subject of an eloquent eulogy by
Sheil at O'Connell's trial; it was seriously entertained by the Whig
opposition of the day, as we know from a remarkable letter of Lord
Waveney. This policy unfortunately passed out of sight; but even now, I
believe, it would do the greatest good in Ireland. It would be something
that the proposed change would cause the wealth of England and Scotland
largely to flow into a poor country; that Irish absenteeism would be
diminished; that Ireland would become, more than she is now, an attractive
place of resort to the traveller. But it would be far more that the
presence of the Imperial Parliament in College Green would necessarily
largely remove the ignorance of Irish affairs I have just referred to; it
would make English and Scotch members familiar with the requirements, the
feelings, the wishes of Irishmen; as has happily been said, it would
render our Irish legislation and administration 'racy of the Irish soil.'
And probably more than any other expedient, it would exorcise the weak
phantom of Home Rule by bringing Irishmen in contact with the majesty of
the Sovereign Assembly of the British Empire. I shall not comment on the
petty inconveniences the scheme might cause; really they are not worthy of
serious attention.

The occasional presence of Royalty, too, in Ireland, as was made manifest
during the late Queen's visit, unquestionably would have beneficent
results. It would gratify a sentiment of Celtic nature, always attached to
persons rather than to institutions and laws, and especially attached to
rulers and chiefs, which, in Ireland, has been scarcely gratified before;
it would spread far and wide a happy and good influence; it would
certainly improve the social life of Ireland, and add something to her
scanty material wealth. The maintenance of the Union, however, is the
first requirement of a sound Irish and Imperial policy; one means of
strengthening that fundamental law of these realms, consistently with
strict constitutional justice, nay, if constitutional wrong is not to
continue, has long been apparent to impartial minds. The
over-representation of Ireland, in the House of Commons, is a flagrant
anomaly, acknowledged for years; as I have remarked, it was largely
expected that this important subject would have been taken up before this
by Lord Salisbury's Government, and have been settled in the Parliament of
1895-1900. Taking the test of population alone, Ireland has, compared to
England, Wales, and Scotland, an excess of twenty-three members; taking
the test of population and property combined, she has an excess probably
of from thirty to forty. I am willing to allow that, in this matter, we
ought not to follow arithmetic only; Ireland, a poor country, far away
from Westminster, may have a claim to a representation somewhat more
numerous than mere figures would give her. But can anything be more
unjust, nay, absurd, than that Ireland should have one hundred and three
members, and that the world of London, with a population about the same as
that of Ireland, and probably possessing tenfold wealth, should have
little more than half that number? This excessive representation must be
reduced, and Irish Nationalists cannot here appeal to the Union; the Union
did not save the Established Church of Ireland, secured by the Treaty in
emphatic terms; and the Union must not be wrested to work gross injustice.
The anomaly can be only removed by a large scheme for the redistribution
of seats, founded on sound constitutional principles; and should this
become law, as I confidently hope will be one of the achievements of the
existing Parliament, the Union will acquire a new security, for the
Nationalist vote in the House of Commons would be greatly reduced, and the
Irish Unionist vote would be greatly increased. A very few figures will
prove this: the rural populations of the Unionist counties of Antrim and
Down are upwards of four hundred and thirty thousand souls; the rural
populations of the Home Rule counties of Kildare, Kilkenny, King's,
Longford, Wicklow, and Louth have a population less than three hundred and
ninety-eight thousand;[35] yet Antrim and Down have only eight members,
the other six counties have no less than twelve. The same disparity runs
through all the Irish counties; in the boroughs of Ireland it is even more
visible. Protestant and Unionist Ireland, in a word, has probably fifteen
or sixteen members too few; Catholic and anti-Unionist Ireland fifteen or
sixteen too many; it is high time this plain wrong should be redressed; it
is unnecessary to point out how this would strengthen the Union. And what
probably is not less important, it would make the representation of
Ireland, not, what it is now, an utterly false index of Irish opinion, but
a reasonably fair and trustworthy index; were the Irish representation cut
down to eighty members, the Nationalists would probably command not more
than fifty seats; the Unionists would command about thirty; and this,
taking all things into account, would be a proportion approaching what is
just. The 'doing' of right, in this matter, has been too long deferred;
loyal Ireland feels strongly upon the subject; the reform would be
altogether in the interest of the State.



CHAPTER III

THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND--SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE LAND SYSTEM
OF IRELAND TO THE YEAR 1870

    Great importance in the history of Ireland of the conditions of land
    tenure--The ancient Celtic land system and its characteristics--The
    Norman conquest of Ireland--Norman feudalism in the Irish land--The
    policy of Henry VII., and especially of Henry VIII.--The era of the
    conquest and confiscation of the Irish land--The possessions of the
    O'Connors of Offaly wrested from them--Forfeiture of the domains of
    Shane O'Neill, and of the Earl of Desmond--Attempts at
    colonisation--All Ireland made shire land--The extinction of the old
    Celtic land system--The Plantation of Ulster--Progress of confiscation
    during the reigns of the two first Stuarts--The Civil War--Immense
    confiscations made by Cromwell--His scheme of colonisation a
    failure--The era of confiscation closes after the battle of the Boyne
    and the fall of Limerick--The Penal Code of Ireland--Its fatal effects
    on the Irish land--Dismal period in Irish landed relations--Gradual
    improvement--The period described by Arthur Young--Evil traces of the
    past remain--Whiteboyism and agrarian disorder--State of Irish landed
    relations up to the rebellion of 1798, and after the
    Union--Over-population and the results--Distress after the
    Peace--State of Irish landed relations up to 1844--The Report of the
    Devon Commission--The Famine and its effects on the Irish land--The
    Encumbered Estates Acts--State of Irish landed relations from 1848 to
    1868.


The fortunes of many communities, it has truly been said, have been
decisively affected by the conditions of the ownership and the occupation
of the soil. The social, even the political, life of modern Europe has
been, in a great measure, moulded by the land tenures that have grown out
of the feudal system; I need only refer to the history of England, of
France, and of Germany. This remark, however, especially applies to the
events that make up the annals of Ireland; that long and unhappy tale of
misfortunes and errors is intimately associated, all through, with the
land, and with the relations connected with it. Modern research has shown
how grotesque and mischievous was the ignorance of the Tudor lawyers and
statesmen, who described the ancient organisation of the Irish land as a
medley of barbarian and pernicious usages; it was an archaic and imperfect
specimen of the feudal system, with differences indeed, but marked with
its essential features. Norman feudalism, lawless and ill-ordered, was for
centuries, after the first Conquest, placed beside this primitive form of
society, in parts of a country not half subdued; the results were seen in
incessant strife and discord, and in social anarchy, which prevented
civilisation growing up. The Irishry had well-nigh driven the Englishry
into the sea, when Henry VII. tried to make his authority felt in Ireland;
his successor, partly a Celt in blood, and a real statesman, devised a
noble scheme for bringing an ill-governed dependency within the domain of
order and law, by planting an Anglo-Norman and native aristocracy in the
soil, subject to a strong monarchy that would have protected the community
as a whole. Most unfortunately the policy of Henry VIII. was not carried
out; in the great conflict of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries,
Ireland was drawn into a long struggle with England, and was repeatedly
made a place of arms for her foes; an era of savage conquest, accomplished
piecemeal, with ruthless confiscation following in its train, was
protracted during nearly a century and a half; and at the close of the
reign of William III., nine-tenths probably of the land of Ireland had
been wrested from its former possessors, and the old Celtic land system
had been destroyed by the sword and by law. Race and religion made this
position of affairs much worse; the age of Protestant ascendency in
Ireland began; in infinitely the greatest part of the island the land was
parcelled out among a caste of owners distinct in blood and faith from the
children of the soil, and lording it over an oppressed peasantry; and the
system was propped up by a code of cruel laws, which maintained and, so to
speak, stereotyped these evil divisions. The lines of the land system of
Ireland were thus finally laid down; a variety of economic and social
causes increased and deepened their extreme harshness; and though they
have gradually been softened, and are now all but effaced, their traces
and the results are still to be seen. The last thirty years have witnessed
repeated attempts to effect radical changes in the modes of the ownership
and the occupation of the land in Ireland; they have wrought a revolution
in Irish landed relations, and have well-nigh turned them upside down; but
the consequences have assuredly not been fortunate. The land system of
Ireland has been made a chaos of economic disorder, of dissensions of
class, of legalised wrong, absolutely incompatible with social progress
and the general welfare.

I must glance, for an instant, at the distinctive features of the land
system of Ireland in the Celtic age, for despite the effects of
confiscation and conquest, faint traces of it may still be seen, and have
a kind of influence.[36] As was the case in all communities of the Aryan
stem, the land originally was largely held in collective ownership; but
agriculture developed individual ownership by degrees, though less so in
Ireland than in more progressive countries. The people were settled on the
soil in tribes, clans, and septs, these being the larger and the smaller
units; the modes of the tenure of the land, misinterpreted by Elizabethan
sages, differed widely from each other, but revealed the traditions of old
patriarchal usage and power, especially in their canons of descent and
succession. The feudalisation of the land, as it has been significantly
called, a process which took place in nearly the whole of Europe, was also
witnessed in Ireland, to a certain extent; but this was not so complete
and strongly marked as in France and England. The land, nevertheless, was,
throughout the island, held ultimately from a supreme monarch; it was
divided, under him, among families of princely chiefs, who ruled vast
tracts with scarcely controlled authority; inferior chiefs were subject to
these; the organisation of the land had much in common with the
organisation of the Anglo-Norman manor, and with the position of the Lord
Paramount of every manor, the head of the English State. The Irish kings
and chiefs had lands in demesne; they had a landed and a personal
_noblesse_; the territories they ruled were held by classes strongly
resembling the free tenants, the villeins, and the serfs of the feudal
system. All this, however, was not as perfectly defined as it was in lands
feudalised to a higher degree; and though the Davieses and Spensers were
wholly in error in representing the dependents of the Irish kings and
chiefs as little better than a horde of fighting men and slaves, Ireland
never fully possessed the liberties feudalism secured. The Ceile of
substance, who had lands of his own, seems to have been in an inferior
position to the English freeholder; the Saer stock and Daer stock tenants
held their lands by a tenure like that of the metayers of France; the
Fuidhirs were kept in complete subjection, and had not even the rights of
the villein. The land, too, was still largely held in collective
ownership; in its occupation this is even now seen in backward and poor
districts; and, curiously enough, distinctions were drawn between what was
a 'fair' and a 'rack rent,' words still common in the mouth of the Irish
peasant, and to which recent legislation has given its sanction.

As in the case of most lands where anything resembling feudalism
prevailed, with the single exception of England, under her strong
Monarchy, Ireland in these circumstances was torn by continual discord,
increased by the recurring struggles with the Dane. The Celtic kings and
chiefs, nevertheless, were beloved by their people; the land system fell
in with Celtic tribal ideas and sentiments. I pass over the incidents of
the first Norman Conquest; in the course of time, an Anglo-Norman colony
was established, within a Pale ever-varying in extent, and held parts of
the country under feudal conditions, the remaining, and by far the
greatest, parts being left in the possession of the Celtic kings and
princes. Anglo-Norman feudalism, however, was completely different, in
Ireland, from what it was in England; it was not subject to vigorous
kingly rule; it was confined within comparatively small limits. In these
circumstances the Pale fell into the hands of a few leading and great
families; these, as had been largely the case in Scotland, formed a
domineering and oppressive _noblesse_, continually engaged in quarrels
between themselves, and in petty wars with the Celtic chiefs, and
completely superior to the royal power in England. The Geraldines, the
Butlers, the De Burghs, and other great houses, had no law but their own
wills in their vast lordships; their exactions and tyranny became a
byword; their lives were spent in savage feudal strife, and in 'hostings
against the Irish enemy.' Strange to say, too, these scions of a mighty
conquering race fell under the spell of the Celtic genius, and, as it was
said, 'became more Irish than the Irish themselves; they were at least
largely assimilated to a Celtic model, and they adopted many of the usages
of the Celt. It was not much otherwise in the Celtic region outside the
Pale; the Irish chiefs often blended in marriage with the Anglo-Norman
settlers; but they were continually at war with them, and with each
other. Under these conditions, feudalism, in its best aspects, could take
no root, in the land, in Ireland; and there is much reason to believe that
the archaic Irish land system was gradually changed and almost broken up,
the power of the kings and chiefs being greatly increased, and the
position of their dependents being made essentially worse. It is obvious
that in a land, a scene of such disorder and misrule, civilisation and all
that the word implies could not exist; Ireland was probably more barbarous
at the close of the fifteenth century than she had been when she first saw
Henry of Anjou. The Pale had been restricted within ever-narrowing bounds;
generations of colonising 'Englishry' had entered the country, and had
left it in angry despair; the 'Irishry' had encroached on their
conqueror's domain; the work of Strongbow and Fitzstephen appeared to be
undone. Especially it was observed that nothing like a middle class, even
then the best element in the social life of England, had been able to
develop itself in Ireland, and that the humbler classes were always in a
state of wretchedness, ground down by exaction, and exposed to incessant
wrongs of all kinds. 'What common folk of all the world'--these were the
words of a State paper of the age--'is so poor, so feeble, so evil be seen
in town and field, so greatly oppressed and trodden underfoot, fares so
evil, with so great misery, and with so wretched a life, as the common
folk of Ireland?'

Henry VII. strengthened the authority of the Crown in Ireland; the
Viceroyalty of Poynings marks an epoch in her chequered annals; but the
conduct of the king was shifting and weak; the land fell under the control
of the great House of Kildare; the Irishry were driven back, but in no
sense subdued. Surrey, the victor of Flodden, intreated Henry VIII. to
make the country his own by sheer force of arms; but his master refused in
striking language; and proposed a scheme for bringing Ireland under the
control of the Monarchy, for encouraging civilisation and promoting order,
the wisest that has ever suggested itself to a British statesman. He made
several of 'the degenerate' Norman _noblesse_ peers; he extended the same
dignity to several Irish chiefs; he assembled representatives of Ireland
in a Parliament composed of both races; he appointed commissioners to go
through the country and to punish crime; above all--and this deserves
special notice--he tried to conciliate the Celtic community by bringing
their usages within the cognisance of the law, and giving them effectual
legal sanction; and he condemned the attempts being already made to force
laws on them peculiar to England. Had this enlightened policy been
steadily pursued, the history of Ireland would have run a wholly different
course; but destiny, that has played so sinister a part in Irish affairs,
interfered to thwart the admirable designs of the king. The great
Geraldine rebellion broke out, supported by irregular Celtic risings; from
this time forward, during five generations of man, the era of cruel but
intermittent conquest, accompanied by wholesale confiscation, set in. The
powerful tribe of the O'Connors of Offaly, closely associated with the
fallen House of Kildare, was the first to feel the weight of the arm of
England; its territories were forcibly overrun and annexed, given the name
of the King's and the Queen's Counties, and peopled with a colony of
settlers from England. Celtic Ireland ere long was brought into the
conflict between Elizabeth and Philip II., the representatives of the
faiths that were dividing Christendom; the princely chief, Shane O'Neill,
fell a victim to the English conquerors, though their quarrel with him was
not wholly one of seeking the assistance of a foreign enemy; his vast
domains were, also, in part forfeited, in part handed over to a puppet of
English power. The frightful Desmond rebellion followed; it was directly
encouraged by the Pope and by Spain; after a protracted struggle
approaching a real civil war, the immense lordships of the great Geraldine
House were confiscated, and granted to a colony of English blood. Tyrone,
the real successor of his kinsman, Shane O'Neill, a soldier and statesman
of no ordinary parts, seeing, as he bitterly said, that his 'lands were
marked down by the spoiler,' endeavoured, not without partial success, to
combine a great Irish League against England; he entered into an alliance
with Spain; a Spanish army landed on the southern coast of Munster; after
a long and sanguinary contest, Tyrone yielded, but his resistance had been
so formidable that he was allowed to retain his possessions.

The subjugation of a large part of Ireland, in the Elizabethan wars, was
marked by incidents of a most atrocious character. The Government had no
regular army to act in the field; it was compelled largely to rely on
armed levies of the Englishry, and on bodies of the Irishry attached to
the conqueror's standards; for in this, as in nearly all instances
throughout their history, the Irish Celts were at feud with each other;
Celtic Ireland was a house divided against itself. The queen, it has been
written, 'ruled over blood and ashes,' when Mountjoy sheathed his
victorious sword; the memory of this period still lives in Irish
tradition. A season of exhaustion and repose ensued after James I. had
ascended the throne; but the time, in the phrase of Tacitus, had an evil
aspect in peace itself. The Pale had long before this been effaced;
conquest and confiscation had spread over nearly the whole island; the
domination of England was felt almost everywhere. As the result, the whole
of Ireland was made shire land; the old Celtic land system, which still
widely prevailed, was swept away by decisions of the Anglican Courts of
Justice; it was declared to be 'a lewd and not law-worthy thing;' all the
Irish land was subjected to English modes of tenure; they were imposed on
a people which detested these gifts of the stranger; innumerable tribal
rights were destroyed. Ere long the work of confiscation began again; the
domains of Tyrone and of his kinsman O'Donnell were pronounced forfeited
for reasons that have never been ascertained; the Crown was placed in
possession of nearly six counties of Ulster. Up to this time the
settlements of English colonists, which had been made in Ireland by Tudor
conquest, had failed; the colonists had been almost lost in the midst of
the Irishry, who hemmed them around. This immense confiscation was,
however, in part successful; it was carried out on comparatively
enlightened principles; it has produced the famous Plantation of Ulster;
and this, with other settlements in the counties of Antrim and Down, has
established, in a large part of the northern province of Ireland, a hardy
and thriving community, in the main, of Scottish blood. Confiscation,
nevertheless, did not stop here; 'the ravages of war,' in Burke's
language, were 'carried on amidst seeming peace;' enormous tracts were
torn from their former owners on pretexts usually of the flimsiest kind,
and were flung to Court favourites, to jobbing speculators, to greedy
adventurers of the baser sort. By this time three-fourths probably of the
soil of Ireland had passed into the hands of a new race of possessors; the
descendants of Anglo-Norman nobles and of the Celtic princes had been
sufferers well-nigh in the same proportion. At last Strafford marked out
the whole province of Connaught, for what has been called 'his majestic
rapine;' this and other innumerable acts of spoliation and wrong
unquestionably were the paramount cause of the great Celtic rising of
1641. Another and soon to be a most potent element of evils and troubles
had already begun to make its sinister presence felt in Ireland. In the
great religious schism of the sixteenth century, England had become
Protestant, Ireland had remained Catholic, and each had taken opposite
sides in the conflict that followed; though the Elizabethan wars were
rather struggles of race than of faith. But as conquest and confiscation
progressed in Ireland, the Anglican Church, a scion of the Norman Church
of the Pale, was erected on the ruins of its Celtic Catholic rival; the
land more and more became possessed by settlers alien in creed from the
old owners, and from the vanquished children of the soil; and harsh laws
had begun to deepen the distinctions between them. Nevertheless, though
its signs had in some measure appeared, the era of Protestant ascendency
and Catholic subjection had not been developed in Ireland, as yet, in its
worst aspects.

The wild Celtic rising of 1641 was followed by a rising of the old
Englishry of the Pale--the descendants of the first Anglo-Norman settlers;
both movements were probably encouraged from France; though widely
different, they ran into each other. The great Civil War was now running
its course in England; Ireland, for the most part, took the side of the
king; the majority of Englishmen were certainly on the side of the
Parliament. I cannot retrace the scenes of the contest in Ireland; after a
fierce and protracted struggle, in which an envoy of the Pope became the
representative of an ill-united Irish League; in which Preston and Ormond
led the forces of the Pale, and Owen Roe O'Neill was at the head of the
Irish Celts,--the whole island was subjugated by the sword of Cromwell, as
it never had been subjugated before. Drogheda and Wexford are names of woe
in the annals of Ireland; but the conquest of the Protector, ruthless as
it was, was not so cruel as that of the Elizabethan soldiers; if deeply
stained with blood, it was rapid and completely decisive. The colony in
Ulster had begun to flourish; Cromwell designed a scheme for the
colonisation of the vanquished country more thorough and extensive than
any which had been designed before. Three-fourths of Ireland had been in
arms against the Parliament; that assembly had made grants by
anticipation of Irish forfeited lands to 'adventurers' who had advanced it
moneys; an opportunity for immense confiscations had arisen; the Protector
was not slow to take advantage of it; his Puritan fanaticism, his hatred
of the Irish people, especially of its 'idolatrous Papists,' his strong
English and religious sympathies, united to confirm him in his purpose.
The forfeited lands in four of the Irish counties were appropriated to the
Commonwealth and its uses; those in eighteen were to be granted to the
'adventurers' and the soldiery of the late conquest; those in seven were
to be allotted to the army in England. The grants were to be either free,
or to be purchased at nominal prices; the owners, who had lost their
lands, were to be deported to Connaught--'Hell' was the alternative, the
tradition runs--and 'Courts of Claims,' as they were called, were to be
set up, to adjudicate on the conduct of those who were to be
dispossessed--they were to be subjected to a test which scarcely one could
satisfy--and practically to measure confiscation out under the pretence of
law. By these means Cromwell calculated that some forty thousand
colonists, of English blood and of the Puritan faith, would be poured into
the millions of acres which the sword had placed in the hands of his
Government; these would form a prosperous settlement loyal to England;
would keep rebellion in Ireland for ever down; and would regenerate a land
taken from a race akin to the Amalekites of old. As a foretaste of the new
and glorious order of things, Sir William Petty, a very able man,
remarkably skilful in feathering his own nest, made a cadastral survey of
Ireland, which still remains.

Cromwell's scheme of confiscation was thoroughly carried out, spite of
much angry wrangling between the Puritan warriors. The remains of the
defeated Irish armies went, in thousands, into exile in foreign lands;
they were the heralds of the renowned soldiery who, for a century and a
half, were deadly, but honourable foes of the British name. The rule of
the Protector in Ireland was stern but enforced peace; Ireland was
prostrate in the exhaustion of despair; there is much proof that, under
the Cromwellian settlement, the country made a kind of material progress.
But Cromwell's great scheme of colonisation failed, as such schemes had
failed in many instances before; a large majority of the 'adventurers' and
the soldiers sold their possessions, usually for a mere nothing: many
'degenerated' like the old Norman families, and, won over by the spells
'of the daughters of Heth,' had, in one or two generations, become 'mere
Irish.' The ultimate result of the Cromwellian conquest was to establish
in Ireland three or four thousand owners of the soil, of English blood and
Puritan leanings, without the support of inferior dependents, in the midst
of a vanquished population hostile in race and faith; the sentiments thus
engendered have never died out; to this day 'a Cromwellian landlord' is a
name of reproach in Catholic Ireland. At the Restoration hope for a moment
revived in the hearts of the ruined owners, who had been dispossessed by
Cromwell, and of whom hundreds had fought for the Crown; but this was
dashed by the perfidy of Charles II. and his courtiers; the Cromwellian
forfeitures were, in the main, confirmed; large tracts were given back to
favourites of the Stuarts, but thousands of beggared families lost their
estates for ever through a policy of cruel baseness and wrong. Ireland
remained quiescent for nearly thirty years; she even prospered under the
wise rule of Ormond--one of the noblest figures in her unhappy history;
but the bitter memories of the past lived in the conquered people, though,
as has repeatedly been seen in a Celtic race, they were treasured in
silence, and caused little apparent trouble. James II. ascended the throne
in 1685; he had a great opportunity to mitigate many of the wrongs of
Ireland; he might have removed some of the evils of the Cromwellian
conquest, and have effected changes in the settlement of the land, which,
at least, would have done partial justice. But the unfortunate king was a
bigot, and, in no sense, a statesman; like his father he tried the
desperate policy of making use of Ireland in his designs against English
liberties; he sent Tyrconnell to Dublin, and, in a few months, revolution
had broken out through the country; English and Protestant Ireland was
well-nigh trampled underfoot; Catholic and Celtic Ireland rose up in a
wild hope of revenge. I cannot even glance at the stirring events that
followed; the descendants of ruined barons of the Pale and of Celtic
princes driven from their lands and their homes, joined in a great effort
to raise a large armed force; the rising almost assumed a national aspect;
but after the Boyne and the fall of Limerick, it was finally quelled by
William III. The process of confiscation was once more renewed; thousands
of acres were taken forcibly from those who had resisted in the field, and
were handed over to a new race of colonists belonging to the blood and the
creed of the victors; and the shameful violation of a solemn Treaty made
all that was cruel in spoliation worse.

The era of conquest in Ireland and of confiscation by force--an agony
prolonged for a century and a half--was brought to an end in the reign of
William III. This is not the place to examine the question on which side,
as between England and Ireland, the balance of the wrongs that were done
inclines; but if much that is cruel and shameful is to be laid to the
charge of England, Ireland, it cannot be forgotten, crossed her path
repeatedly in an age of grave national perils and troubles, and, moreover,
wrecked her own cause by her wretched dissensions. The Irish land had now
nearly all fallen into the hands of a caste of owners, of English and
Scottish descent, and in faith Protestant, divided from a people of
Catholic occupiers for the most part of the Irish race; wide lines of
demarcation had been drawn between them; and there was no middle class to
bridge over the gulf. In a part of Ulster alone where the proprietors and
the holders of the soil were largely of the same religion and blood, was
there the promise of a more auspicious order of things; even here causes
of disunion were not wanting. Nor were these the only vices and dangers of
a land system which has scarcely had a parallel. Enormous tracts had been
bestowed on owners who never saw their estates; absenteeism existed to an
immense extent; their lands, too, had, in thousands of instances, been
underlet to a class of intermediate owners, who were to form a body of
most oppressive landlords. In addition, the representatives of numbers of
ruined families still vegetated on the domains which had been their own;
the few families which had escaped from the spoilers, were held in
reverence by the peasantry around; elements of disorder and trouble
continued to fester. The destruction, too, of the old Celtic modes of land
tenure, and the substitution of the English system, had unjustly
annihilated tribal rights wholesale; the free, and other dependents of the
Irish chiefs, had sunk into the position of mere tenants at will, that is,
at the mercy of foreign and often unknown masters. One of the worst, if
not the most apparent evil, of the gigantic confiscations which had taken
place, and on which the land system had, so to speak, been founded, was
that the respect which attaches to the ancient ownership of land, and
which forms, perhaps, its surest support, could hardly exist in any part
of Ireland; the disastrous consequences may be traced to the present hour.
Landlords, with titles of yesterday, won by the sword, could not feel the
interest in their estates and in the inhabitants on them, naturally felt
by owners of gentle and ancient descent; the land which, as has been said,
had been flung like a fox to ravening hounds, could not attract to it
happy and peaceful memories; the very Government had learned to think it
could deal with the land as it pleased, and treated the rights gained by
confiscation with contempt. Prescription, the strongest cement of
property, had no place in this ill-compacted land system.[37]

The era of Protestant ascendency bringing Catholic subjection with it, had
now set in for many years in Ireland; its evils were aggravated by harsh
divisions of race, and by more than a century of bitter memories; its
effects were more conspicuous in the land than in other social relations.
This unnatural and calamitous position of affairs might, however, have
been replaced ere long by a better order of things, had it not been
artificially maintained and made enduring by legislation unexampled for
its far-reaching cruelty. I cannot attempt to describe the Penal Code of
Ireland; in the emphatic words of Burke, 'it was a complete system, full
of coherence and consistency; well digested and well composed in all its
parts; it was a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance; and as well
fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of a people,
and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from
the perverted ingenuity of man.'[38] The objects of these execrable laws
were threefold: to exclude the Irish Catholic whether of Anglo-Irish or
Celtic descent--misfortune had well-nigh effaced the distinction--from
every office of trust in the State, from every profession, almost from
every walk of life; to persecute and proscribe the Catholic Church of
Ireland, and to place its priesthood under a humiliating ban, and finally
to ruin and degrade the few remaining Catholic owners of the soil; to
prevent the Irish Catholic from acquiring any real interest in it; and,
above all, to keep the Catholic peasantry in a condition of thraldom.[39]
The Code was only too successful in compassing its ends; I pass from its
operation as regards the two first, to point out how it sought to attain
the third, and how its provisions affected the Irish land and the manifold
relations connected with it. The estate of the Irish Catholic owner was
not to follow the ordinary courses of descent; it was 'to gavel,' and to
be divided among many persons; this was for the avowed purpose of making
'the landed property of Papists crumble away, and disappear.' The Irish
Catholic owner was subjected to cruel enactments that literally set his
household against him; his wife and children were bribed to become his
foes; law sate at his hearth to make his existence wretched. The Irish
Catholic, too, was forbidden to acquire land by purchase or even to
possess an incumbrance on it; as far as possible the ownership of land was
strictly confined to the Protestant caste. But the wrong that, in its
consequences at least, was perhaps the worst, was that the Catholic
occupier of the Irish soil could not obtain anything like an advantageous
tenure; he could not have a lease for a period beyond thirty-one years,
and this, too, at an excessive rent; and, in the great mass of instances,
he was a serf holding merely at will.

The forty years that succeeded the death of William III. are certainly the
most mournful period in Irish history. The memories of conquest and
confiscation were still fresh; the Penal Code kept Catholic Ireland in its
chains; society was fashioned on the type of the domination of a class,
separated from a whole community in race and faith. Nothing was left
undone to perpetuate this evil order of things; the Irish Parliament was a
mere oligarchy of the sons of the colonists of Elizabeth, Cromwell, and
William, apart from a few leading men in Ulster; its legislation for the
vanquished race was barbarous; Lords-Lieutenant spoke of the Irish
Catholics as of 'the common enemy;' a 'Papist was presumed not to exist'
in the Irish Courts of Justice. Meanwhile the penal laws were relentlessly
carried out for years; the Irish Catholic was placed under a universal
ban; the Catholic Church of Ireland lay, as it were, in the valley of the
shadow of death. But the direst consequences appeared in the land, and in
the social life of the landed classes; these were most calamitous and have
still left their traces. Many of the few Catholic owners abandoned their
estates, and carried their swords into foreign lands, where some rose to
well-deserved eminence; a small number conformed to the dominant faith in
order to exist in comparative peace at home; the majority clung to their
lands and bowed their heads to oppression. The Protestant lords of the
soil were what their antecedents and the law had made them; they were long
a harsh and exacting order of men, filled with bigotry and the pride of a
conquering race; they regarded the inferiors they ruled as pariahs and
helots. But, as usually happens, when society is in an unnatural state,
they did not prosper amidst the ruins around them; their lands were kept
on a kind of pernicious mortmain, as they could not mortgage or sell them
freely; absenteeism with all its mischiefs greatly increased; and
middleman tenures largely multiplied, subjecting the peasantry to a
detestable breed of landlords, Protestants and of English descent, like
their superiors, but much worse tyrants. As for the mass of the Catholic
occupiers of the soil, they were kept down in the lowest state of serfdom;
but multitudes found their way into foreign armies; 'the wild geese,' as
they were pathetically called, flew to Austria and, above all, to France,
where, in the ranks of the celebrated Irish Brigade--'ever and everywhere'
true to the Bourbon lilies--they won renown at Dettingen, Fontenoy, and
other fields of fame. The aspect of Ireland bore too faithful witness to
the misery engendered in this evil order of things. The country was still
covered with the wrecks of the late wars; the habitations, even of the
Protestant gentry, were squalid and mean; the towns were, in many
instances, sinking into decay; the peasantry were huddled together into
villages of huts; the traveller roamed through vast wastes of unfenced
pasturage, evidences of a land almost left in a state of nature. Hideous
famines were of repeated occurrence; one, that of 1739-41, swept the
population away in tens of thousands; the Irish Parliament
characteristically did nothing to help the sufferers; it met the emergency
by strengthening the means to enforce the payment of rent. The miserable
condition of Ireland was made worse by the legislation of the British
Parliament, which treated the country as a conquered colony; and, true to
the principles of the mercantile system, impeded or prevented the growth
of several Irish industries. This was, of course, most injurious to the
Protestant settlers; but these were held down by the ruling power; as was
finely said, 'they knelt to England on the necks of their countrymen.' The
state of things in the colonised parts of Ulster was somewhat better; but
the Scottish and Presbyterian population of this corner of Ireland had not
a few causes of serious complaint.[40]

In the next generation a great but gradual change passed over the state of
the Irish community. The Penal Code was not in letter relaxed; but the
evil spirit which had conceived it lost much of its force. The men who had
fought at the Boyne and at Aghrim had passed away; the human conscience,
moved by the influences of the eighteenth century, revolted from the
barbarous legislation of a half-fanatical age. The Irish Catholics slowly
began to make themselves felt in the State; many amassed large fortunes in
foreign commerce; shut out as they still were by law from almost every
profession and office, they made their way into the medical calling, and
especially at the Bar, where their disabilities were evaded or ignored.
The Catholic Church was no longer proscribed; its worship, indeed, was
still carried on under degrading conditions; but its priesthood were
permitted to perform their sacred functions in peace; its dignitaries were
even countenanced by the men in power at the Castle. This great social
change was conspicuously seen in the land; landed relations were markedly
improved, and partly transformed. The Catholic owners were permitted to
hold their estates free from the cruel vexations of the past; they began
to live on terms of friendship with the Protestant caste; legal fictions
annulled the laws which had made their lives wretched; their lands were,
in many instances, held by the Protestant gentry on secret trusts; and
these, though contrary to law, were, as a rule, most honourably fulfilled.
The principal, however, and most decisive change appeared in the position
and the sentiments of the Protestant lords of the soil. As time rolled on,
and threw its kindly growths over the settlement of confiscation and the
sword, these men began to feel that Ireland was their country and home;
they became, to a certain extent, Irishmen; they felt sympathy, by
degrees, with the conquered serfs in their midst. This feeling was
strengthened by the tyrannous selfishness of the British Parliament, which
treated Ireland as if she were its footstool, and of the official class,
nearly all Englishmen, who lorded it over the land they despised; an
'Irish interest' grew up in the Parliament at College Green, composed very
largely of the Protestant landlords; this became patriotic, in a certain
sense, and a protector of the scanty rights of Ireland. As social order,
too, was seldom disturbed, the wealth of the country had considerably
increased; the gentry acquired a greater interest in their estates, and
became more and more attached to them; absenteeism, as the result,
perceptibly lessened; and middleman tenures, though still prevalent,
diminished remarkably in the more progressive counties. The deep lines of
demarcation which kept apart the owners and the occupiers of the soil were
thus to a certain extent bridged over; the Irish landlord, especially if
resident, became a kindlier superior than his fathers had been; the Irish
peasant became less a stranger to him.

The evidences of this better order of things became manifest on the face
of the country. Agriculture, though still backward, made real progress;
the breeds of farming animals greatly improved; the huge breadths of
pasturage had a less deserted aspect. The country towns had generally
advanced; the land had been opened by good roads; the means of locomotion
had been largely multiplied. The rental of Ireland had doubled within
living memory; in some counties, indeed, it was nearly as high as it is
now; the land was at a price of more years' purchase than it is at the
close of the nineteenth century. It was at this period that the great
country houses of Ireland were built, and their vast demesnes laid out;
the wages of labour were low, but had distinctly risen; the peasant hind,
Arthur Young tells us, in point of food and clothing, was as well off as
his fellow in England. The land was largely parcelled out into
considerable farms; but small holdings were on the increase; and the
cottar system, in the course of time to become a source of manifold evils,
was not yet a cause of much mischief; the pressure of population on the
soil was not severely felt. Many of the great landlords, too, were
excellent men; they ruled the country well, and greatly improved their
estates; in numberless instances they had won the hearts of dependents,
who regarded them as kind masters. Yet the picture was not without a dark
side; this land system still had evil, nay, repulsive, features. Except in
the best part of Ulster the deep divisions of race and faith continued to
be profoundly marked; the Penal Code had made these, to a great extent,
indelible. There was still much oppression and exaction in landed
relations; the class of small landlords and the class of middlemen were
too generally tyrannical and harsh; complaints of over-renting were not
infrequent; and if the great landlords, as a rule, were not severe
superiors, many were extravagant, addicted to excess, and reckless
duellists; they bore a strong resemblance to the seigneurie of the old
French Monarchy. The peasantry, too, remained serfs, illiterate,
ignorant, and superstitious; the good feelings they often had for their
lords had too much of the submissiveness of the slave; and virtuous as
their women ordinarily were, they too generally yielded to the lusts of
their masters. The habitations, besides, of this population were still
wretched; if their lot had assuredly become better, it was often hard,
above all, degraded. They had begun to feel more acutely the ills they
suffered; in many counties they had banded themselves together into
lawless leagues, to protect themselves and to resist authority. These
associations, known by the general name of Whiteboys--perhaps taken from
the Camisards of the Cevennes--had as their objects the preservation of
rights of commonage, the extinction of tithes, and the reduction of rents;
they may be traced back to the great confiscations of the past; they were
held together by secret leaders and passwords; and they often kept whole
districts in a state of terror. A Draconic Code was directed against them;
though often put down they have risen to life again; Ireland has never
since been completely free from them; their influence still is distinctly
apparent. Associations of somewhat a similar kind, known as Steelboys and
Oakboys, were formed even in the good parts of Ulster; but they were much
less dangerous and were not permanent. It is a characteristic of
Whiteboyism, as it has ever since been called, that it has always had a
political side, and lends itself to revolutionary movements against
government itself.[41]

Though Protestant ascendency was still supreme at this period, the
confiscations of the past had not been forgotten; they were treasured in
the minds of the descendants of the old Catholic families, and of the
population among which they lived. The extinction, too, of the tribal
Irish tenures, had, we have seen, been a cause of grievous wrongs; this
was a tradition, also, handed down from father to son, and was still fresh
in the remembrance of a whole race. The land system, though to outward
seeming secure, nevertheless rested on unstable foundations, as was to
appear in the course of time; another element of disturbance was being
formed, which ultimately was to have immense force. Under the modes of
land tenure, which prevailed in England, since the system of small
holdings had been broken up, the land had generally been laid out in large
farms; partly from this circumstance, and partly owing to custom, the
charge of making permanent improvements of the land had almost everywhere
devolved on the owner of the soil; a tenant, who rented a farm, took it,
so to speak, equipped with the buildings and other things of the kind that
were suitable to it. But in Ireland, partly because small farms were
numerous, and partly because the custom had never grown up--the history of
the past fully accounts for this--the permanent improvements were very
seldom made by the landlord; the tenant, who held land, had to add, as it
were, its plant to it; he had to do much that gave it any real value. As
the inevitable result, the Irish occupier of the soil felt that he had
acquired a concurrent right in it; this, if the improvements were solid
and lasting, might almost amount to a partial joint-ownership, at least
give him, in equity, a real hold on the land. But a right of this kind was
not recognised by the law, founded as this was upon notions of English
tenure; it was liable to be destroyed should the tenant be dispossessed;
and as the tenure of the immense majority of the occupiers of the soil in
Ireland was either at will, or for a short term at a high rent, this
right, essentially of a quasi-proprietary kind, was made precarious, and
had no legal protection. With the prescience of genius, Burke perceived
the evils that might grow out of this state of things, though, as yet,
these were not much felt; he saw that it discouraged improvement of almost
every kind; especially he saw that the denial of legal sanction to the
rights in the land a tenant might have, and the fact that his tenure was
short and uncertain, might become a source of grave wrong, and of
far-reaching discontent. In a word, he detected an economic vice in the
land system of Ireland which, in the long run, was to do great mischief;
and curiously enough he indicated the remedies that ought to be applied,
and pointed out the true principles of a reform of Irish land tenure. It
would have been well had British statesmen adopted these; his simple,
just, and statesmanlike plan puts to shame the ill-designed and
unsuccessful attempts that have been made to recast the Irish land system
of late years, and the false, reckless, and socialistic theories at
present current on this important subject.[42]

I must pass over even the main events of the history of Ireland, after
this period, up to the close of the eighteenth century. The 'Irish
interest,' mainly composed of the great landed gentry, and turning to
account the American War, compelled the Parliament at Westminster to relax
many of the commercial restraints on Ireland, and to concede her a partial
free trade; under the guidance of the illustrious Grattan it obtained
legislative independence for the Irish Parliament. At the same time the
Penal Code was largely repealed; the Irish Catholic was permitted to
acquire the ownership of the soil; before long he received the electoral
franchise, though he was still excluded from the Irish Houses of Lords and
Commons. In these circumstances, Ireland made real material and social
progress; the wealth of the country rapidly increased; the Protestant and
Catholic upper classes began to unite in marriage; a commercial middle
class, if still very weak, grew up. Ireland seemed about to enter a
happier era; yet there were drawbacks to this partial welfare, especially
as regards the land system. Middleman tenures were becoming much less
frequent; absenteeism was markedly on the decline; but partly owing to
their contact with the Parliament in College Green, and to the brilliant
social life it created in Dublin, the landed gentry became more
extravagant than their fathers had been; they began to raise their rents
and to encumber their estates; over-renting became more common than
before; Whiteboy movements and agrarian disorder prevailed in many
districts. Ireland, however, probably would have made a great advance but
for the evil passions which the French Revolution engendered in the frame
of a society still deeply diseased. I cannot dwell on the unhappy years
that followed, leading to the Rebellion of 1798; I must confine myself to
their influence on the Irish land system. The object of Tone and of the
United Irish leaders was to combine Scottish and Presbyterian Ulster, and
the great mass of the Irish Catholics, into a league against British rule
and for 'Irish freedom;' unhappily, they were but too successful. They
appealed, not in vain, to thousands of farmers and traders in the Northern
Province, who had long had solid grounds of discontent, and had been
deeply stirred by the Revolution in France; they laid hold on the elements
of disorder and of division of race and faith, abounding in Catholic
Ireland, but largely concealed, and called on the peasantry to overthrow
their Protestant tyrants, and to strike a decisive blow in 'the cause of
Ireland.' Evil incentives were recklessly employed to arouse popular
passions; maps of the old confiscated lands were made; and active
emissaries went through the country, reviving dangerous traditions of the
past, and stimulating the worst sentiments of hatred, greed, and revenge.
As the result, sedition ran riot in Ulster; in the Southern Provinces
there was a great outburst of Whiteboy crime, and a widespread rising
against the payment of rent; and thousands of the occupiers of the soil
were swept into the United Irish ranks, scarcely conscious of the perils
to which they were exposed. How the movement led to the bloody rebellion
of 1798, and how this was put down after a desperate struggle, it is
unnecessary to consider here; the consequences in Irish landed relations
were most unfortunate. It is untrue that the large majority of the owners
of the Irish soil were guilty of the crimes that have been laid to their
charge; but they bitterly resented the allusions to the confiscations of a
bygone past; they became more estranged from their inferiors than they had
been for years.[43]

This terrible outbreak shook society in Ireland to its base, revived the
old divisions of race and faith which had been disappearing to a
considerable extent, and left memories behind which have not been
forgotten. Its inevitable result was to lead to the Union, a measure long
in the contemplation of British statesmen, and especially of Pitt, and
perhaps necessary in the most critical circumstances of the time. I cannot
even refer to the events attending this great constitutional change; a
large majority of the leading Irish landlords disliked it at heart; but a
minority, alarmed for their possessions, gave it support; how strong this
feeling was may be seen in a famous speech of Lord Clare, who described
the whole order of men as 'the heirs of confiscation hemmed in by enemies
brooding on their wrongs.' The Union greatly weakened the influence of
the Irish landed gentry, which had been very powerful in the defunct
Parliament; the 'Irish interest,' for many years a real force, was almost
subverted; English officials became again supreme at the Castle; a
bureaucracy gradually began to supplant the aristocracy of landlords in
every sphere of government. As respects the land and landed relations, the
class of Catholic owners slowly augmented; but the consequences were
trivial and not marked; middleman tenures continued steadily to disappear;
but absenteeism certainly increased, though absentee estates were usually
better managed than before. Meanwhile causes of grave importance, tending
to momentous social results, were profoundly affecting the whole land
system, and the position of the classes dependent on it. Partly owing to
the corn laws of the Irish Parliament, partly to the extension of the
Parliamentary franchise, in 1793, to the great mass of the Catholic
peasantry, but principally to the effects of the long war with France,
Ireland, it may be said, was well-nigh changed from a pastoral to an
agricultural country; large farms were generally replaced by small; the
land in most districts was divided into little tillage holdings; the
cottar system multiplied apace; the population, about three millions of
souls in the day of Arthur Young, increased to more than six millions at
the Peace of 1815; and this population becoming every year more dense, for
the most part eked existence out on a precarious root. The economic and
social consequences were very great, and continued in operation during a
long series of years. The competition for the possession of land became
intensely keen; rents were unnaturally forced up in thousands of cases;
the value of landed property enormously rose; all this encouraged
extravagance among the landed gentry, and especially induced them largely
to encumber their estates. At the same time the wages of labour distinctly
declined; the condition of the Irish labouring peasant, when Edward
Wakefield, a very industrious and able observer, wrote on the state of
Ireland in 1812, was markedly worse than it had been in the time of Arthur
Young. Yet these were not the most serious, at least, the most lasting,
effects of the revolution taking place in landed relations. As the large
farm system was being broken up, as the small farm system had come in its
stead, and as population had rapidly grown, the occupiers of the soil had
more and more made the permanent additions to their holdings; they had
built, fenced, and reclaimed land, more and more; and in the general
eagerness to obtain the possession of land, considerable sums were often
paid for farms on their transfer. The concurrent rights of the tenant
classes in Ireland had thus become enormously increased; they often
amounted, equitably, to a real joint-ownership; yet these rights were
without the support of law, and were liable to be extinguished often at
the mere will of the landlord. In Ulster alone, in its Presbyterian and
Scottish parts, where the landed classes had been less disunited than in
the South, a custom, now of considerable strength, had for a long time
made the tenure of the peasant comparatively secure; yet even this was not
under the ægis of law.[44]

Made wise, after the event, we now clearly perceive what ought to have
been done for Ireland in this position of affairs. There never had been an
Irish poor law; Protestant property was not to be charged for Catholic
want; but the population was fast increasing; a mass of wretched poverty
was being formed; this should have been supported, and yet checked, by a
poor law. At the same time legislation, as Burke had contended, should
have vindicated the moral rights of the occupier of the soil, should have
made what really was his property his own, should have rendered his tenure
profitable and secure. Nothing of the kind, however, came into the minds
of British statesmen, or even, it must be said, of the best Irishmen of
the day--the age was one of Toryism harsh and unfeeling; the abuses of the
poor law in England were great; it was not contemplated to apply it to
Ireland; above all, the equitable claims of the Irish tenant were not
understood or deemed worthy of notice; English tenure, utterly unfitted to
his true position, was good enough for him. The land system, nevertheless,
was not much disturbed while the high prices of the war prevailed; there
was a good deal indeed of disorder connected with the land, but society
was not deeply affected. And it is only just to observe that the
landlords, as a class, did respect the concurrent rights of their tenants
in the soil; the conclusive proof is that these could not have grown up
had they been generally, or even largely, set at nought. But a great and
calamitous change passed over Ireland when the comparative wealth caused
by the war collapsed, and when the return to cash payments made the
effects worse. Rents suddenly fell greatly, and even disappeared; the
wages of labour, which had usually been paid through what may be called a
wretched truck system, were reduced to a remarkable degree; hundreds of
thousands of the cottar peasantry sank to the lowest depths of indigence.
A great social convulsion, in a word, took place; this culminated in
famine in several counties; a miserable population was deprived of the
means of subsistence. In these circumstances the owners of the soil acted
as a class would ordinarily act; many, impoverished themselves, let things
drift; many made themselves conspicuous for good works of charity; a
minority had recourse to severe measures, like the English landlords of
the sixteenth century, to get rid of a mass of poverty clinging in despair
to the land. The old divisions of race and faith unquestionably
aggravated this state of things; but the Government of the day showed
little forethought, and, in fact, was infinitely the most to blame; it met
the emergency, not by wise and healing measures, but by legislation, which
made the eviction of the peasant from his holding easy and cheap, and by
having recourse to repression unjust and severe in the extreme. In too
many instances, 'clearances' of estates, an evil word, were witnessed;
hundreds of families were driven from their homes and cast on the world;
as the necessary result, in numberless cases, the equitable rights of the
Irish tenant were ruthlessly destroyed. As a matter of course,
Whiteboyism, never completely suppressed, broke out in formidable agrarian
disorder; the peasantry, deprived of the protection of law, leagued
themselves together to enforce a law of their own; crime multiplied to an
immense extent; all the machinery of coercion could not wholly keep it
under.[45]

I must pass rapidly over the next twenty years, though a very important
period in Irish history. Catholic emancipation was wrung by O'Connell,
from a reluctant Ministry, through violent agitation, which distracted
Ireland for years; the Irish Catholic was admitted into Parliament at
last. This great event was followed by the savage Tithe War, a movement
against the Anglican Church in Ireland stained with detestable deeds of
blood; the representation of Ireland passed largely into O'Connell's
hands, the head of what was called 'his Catholic Tail.' Protestant
ascendency in Ireland received a mortal blow; the influence of the Irish
landed gentry still further declined; that of the bureaucracy at the
Castle increased. From this time forward the Irish landlord began to feel
his position really insecure; it is remarkable how few large mansions and
demesnes have ever since been designed or completed by this order of men.
After the disastrous period which came to an end about 1826, the wealth of
Ireland perceptibly grew; a kind of prosperity existed in many parts of
the country. The age, too, had become more liberal and humane; the
middleman was got rid of in not a few districts; the absentee landlords
devoted more attention to their estates than they had ever devoted before.
The process of eviction, moreover, became much less frequent, though too
frequent for social order and peace; a considerable number of Irish
landlords expended large sums in improving their lands; farms were
consolidated, with good results, in many parts of the country. But the
essential features of the land system were not much changed; its economic
conditions became, in important respects, worse. The landed gentry, if
much less extravagant than their fathers had been, were, nevertheless, as
a class, much involved in debt; and, as usually has been seen in cases of
the kind, they became less really prosperous, as their authority declined.
Meanwhile, the population had continued rapidly to increase; by the close
of this period it exceeded eight millions of souls, a total far too great
for the resources of the land. The phenomena, already critical, became
more sinister; rents were again forced up as the wealth of the country
augmented, and reached the highest level they have ever attained; the
wages of labour did not fall, indeed, they could hardly fall lower; but
the cottar population had become more than ever dense; the competition for
the possession of the soil grew fierce; as necessarily followed, the
quasi-proprietary rights of the tenant in his holding had been enlarged,
and yet these were still outside the pale of the law. A Report, made in
1837-38, disclosed the appalling fact that two millions and a half of the
Irish community were for months in every year on the verge of starvation,
and always in a condition of extreme misery. Though Ireland had made, in a
sense, progress, her economic state had thus become dangerous, and very
bad; and a poor law, enacted at last in 1838, was utterly unable to cope
with the evil. Whiteboy crime and disorders continued to abound; in 1844,
an average year, there were more than a thousand instances of offences in
landed relations.

The year 1843 was that of the great Repeal movement, of which O'Connell
was the master spirit. Peel had been Prime Minister for two years; his
attention had been already turned to the vices and the perils of the Irish
land system. He had been Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1812 to 1818;
but he had been identified with the Tory misrule of that time; and though,
like Chesterfield in another age, he had been too sagacious not to see
that poverty made the social ills of Ireland more acute and worse, he had
been the ablest opponent of the Catholic cause, had supported Protestant
ascendency in many ways; and had not been in any sense an Irish reformer.
A strong Conservative of the great middle class in England, he looked on
Ireland as an almost foreign land, and had scarcely any knowledge of her
real needs; and though his severe administration at the Castle had been
wise and just, he carried out coercion with a steady hand, and is supposed
to have been the author of the code of cheap ejectment, a cause of a great
deal of evil and wrong. But his mind, if slow in moving, was moved at
last; he saw that Ireland largely required the amending hand; the conduct
of O'Connell, no doubt, had quickened his purpose. I cannot dwell on
Peel's other Irish measures; at the close of 1843 he appointed a
Commission charged to inquire into the state of Irish landed relations;
had he continued long at the head of the State, he would probably have
done much to improve the Irish land system. The Commission had, as
President, the chief of the great House of Courtenay; it was almost wholly
composed of Englishmen, more or less associated with land in England; it
was, therefore, ill constituted to deal with what may be called the Irish
Land Question. But it investigated the subject it treated with most
praiseworthy care; entering into every detail of Irish landed relations,
their history in the past, the state of land tenure, the condition of the
different classes seated on the land, the working of the law with respect
to tenant's improvements, the means of diminishing the wretched millions
squatting on the soil, agrarian crime and all that it involved; the mass
of evidence it collected is still of the greatest value. The Report it
made, if somewhat over-cautious and timid, was very instructive in many
respects; especially it showed how the Irish land system grew out of the
conquests and confiscations of the past, and still bore the marks of its
ill-omened origin, notably in the lines drawn between the owners and the
occupiers of the soil marked by a profound division of race and faith; and
many of the suggestions it made were wise, nay, excellent. But on the
capital subject of land tenure, by many degrees the most important, the
Report only too clearly revealed the ignorance of Englishmen as regards
Ireland, and, above all, as regards her landed relations. The Commission
ought to have fully recognised the concurrent rights in the soil, which
the Irish occupier had acquired in tens of thousands of instances, rights
often equivalent to more or less joint-ownership; it ought to have
insisted that the Tenant Right, as it was now called, of the Ulster
Custom, and the claims arising from improvements, the work of the tenant,
and from sums paid on the transfer of farms, should be made law-worthy,
and effectually secured. With a want of insight which would have made
Burke gnash his teeth, it took exactly an opposite course; it warned the
Irish landlord that these concurrent rights were creating against him 'an
embryo copyhold,' and eating away his freehold ownership; it plainly
hinted that he would do well to get rid of them. It even refused to
acknowledge that the tenant had a claim to any improvements if made in the
past; but it proposed a scheme for compensating him for improvements made
in the future, so limited and fenced round with restrictions, that it was
quite illusory, and indeed deceptive. The Report caused intense
indignation in Ulster, and was not well received in any part of
Ireland.[46]

Bills, founded on the Report of the Devon Commission, as it was called,
were brought into Parliament, but never became law. Within a few months
Ireland was in the throes of an agony, the most terrible, perhaps, that
has befallen any land in the nineteenth century. In the autumn of 1845,
the potato, which formed the only food of the indigent multitudes fastened
on the land, failed, to a considerable extent, in many districts; in the
following year the crop was all but completely destroyed. Famine, far more
general and appalling than that of twenty-five years before, had soon held
a wretched population in its grasp; the results may almost be compared to
those of the Black Death, and of the famines of the Middle Ages. The land
system went to wreck in whole counties, especially in the west and along
the seaboard; hundreds of the landed gentry were involved in ruin;
thousands of farmers of the better class became bankrupt; the dense cottar
multitudes were literally lifted up from the soil, and cast adrift, the
waifs and strays of a far-reaching tempest. This is not the place to
review the measures adopted to meet the dread visitation; if not free from
errors, inevitable in a situation of the kind, they were, essentially,
and, in the main, successful. Peel was still in office in 1845; well
knowing what poverty in Ireland was, he introduced supplies of food into
the remote and backward districts, which the energies of commerce could
hardly reach; this wise policy saved tens of thousands of lives; as is
notorious, he repealed the corn laws in the interest of the afflicted
country. The Government of Lord John Russell had succeeded him in 1846; it
had to confront an emergency infinitely worse; it followed, in many
respects, the example of Peel, who had established 'relief works' in many
counties; but it did not assist the most impoverished parts of Ireland
with food through the agency of the State; this possibly was a real
mistake. Nevertheless, it manfully and humanely met the tremendous crisis;
it is easy to censure some of its acts, for instance, the wasteful and
useless public works it set on foot, and the gigantic outdoor relief it
was compelled to lavish; but millions in starvation were thrown on its
hands; and the poor law, only lately in operation, could not cope with
universal distress. On the whole, the statesmen in power did their duty
wisely and well; thousands of unhappy victims succumbed, indeed, to
famine, and to dire diseases following in its train; but Ireland as a
people was saved; assuredly she could not have saved herself. A word, too,
must be said on the magnificent charity which flowed in from many lands
into the community in its woe. England had turned in sympathy towards
Ireland in the season of distress which had followed the Peace; she
bestowed great sums on her, in 1845-46, through private subscription. The
United States, France, Germany, and Italy joined in the good work; even
the Ottoman Empire was not behindhand.

I must dwell for a moment on the conduct and the position of the classes
connected with the land during this appalling trial. The attitude of the
landed gentry was much the same as it had been at an infinitely less
disastrous crisis; but, on the whole, it was marked by nobler and more
attractive features. The charity of the great landlords of Ireland was
most praiseworthy; many devoted large sums for the support of the poor on
their lands by instituting fine works of enclosure and drainage; some, I
know, even mortgaged their estates for this very purpose. Hundreds of the
lesser gentry, stricken down as they were, imitated their superiors as
well as they could; old divisions were forgotten in the common misfortune;
spite of the interested lies of a calumnious faction, as an order of men
they acted extremely well. One of their bitterest enemies, who wrote at
the time, has placed it on record, 'that the resident landlords and their
families did, in many cases, devote themselves to the task of saving these
poor people alive. Many remitted their rents or half their rents; and
ladies kept their servants busy and their kitchens smoking with continual
preparation of food for the poor.'[47] Many, however, of the Irish
landlords, as was to be expected, looked hopelessly on at the misery
around them; this was the case with feeble and incapable men, and the
sight has always been seen in grave social crises; it was but in
conformity with our frail and imperfect nature. A certain number,
moreover, of the class had recourse to severe measures to remove from
their lands the masses of wretchedness crowded upon them; the process of
eviction became too frequent; hundreds of families were in this way
dispossessed of their holdings. These acts of harshness were certainly to
be deplored; but it was almost universally believed that the cottar in
Ireland could not live from the land after the failure of almost his only
means of subsistence; it must be added that, in this very matter, the
conduct of Parliament and the Government was by many degrees more severe.
A strict test of destitution had to be applied; a law was passed that, as
a condition of obtaining relief, no person possessing more than a quarter
of an acre of land should be entitled to support from the State; thousands
of families abandoned their homes, through the effects of this measure;
for one evicted by a landlord, fifty perhaps were practically evicted by
this stern policy. The law was possibly required in the terrible
circumstances of the time; but it was condemned by the Lord-Lieutenant,
Lord Bessborough, a great Irish peer, and an able man; at all events, it
justified, to a considerable extent, all that could be laid to the charge
of a few Irish landlords whose acts were most unfairly denounced by many
writers, and were falsely described as common to the great body of the
class. For the rest, as I have said, the land system was broken up in many
districts; and not only the owners but the occupiers of the soil suffered
cruelly from the highest to the lowest grade.

After the first months of the famine, the immense exodus of the Irish
race, as it has fitly been called, began. The population fled from the
country in hundreds of thousands; some found a home in England and in our
Australian colonies; nine-tenths, probably, in the great Republic of the
West. The sufferings of numbers of the emigrants were terribly severe;
huddled together in the ill-found vessels of the time, hundreds perished
before they beheld the lands they were seeking; that some check was not
placed on the greed of the merchants, who subjected these victims to
horrors like those of the Middle Passage, was certainly the worst mistake
of the Government of the day. During the agony of the famine there was
comparatively little crime; the minds of men were engrossed by a dire
calamity; but in a few months Whiteboyism had been again aroused; there
was a widespread outbreak of agrarian disorder followed by the abortive
rising of 1848. The time was now ripe, in the judgment of even leading
statesmen, for making another of the great experiments on the Irish land,
which had been their policy since the age of the Tudors. Many of the Irish
landed gentry had been ruined; the estates of many were heavily charged
with debt, in part caused by extravagance in the past, but chiefly by
large provisions made for their families in more prosperous times,
especially during the period of the high prices of the war.[48] The
object of the Government--and Peel concurred--was to make a clean sweep of
the embarrassed owners, and to transfer their lands to a new order of men;
'English and Scottish capital was to be attracted to the Irish soil;' the
Irish landlord was to be 'sold out cheap;' his successor was to be a
person fit 'to discharge the duties of property;' the 'regeneration of
Ireland' was to be the magnificent result.[49] The sale of encumbered
estates in Ireland had from various causes been a slow and a costly
process, an Act was run through Parliament with scarcely an expression of
dissent,[50] making the process as rapid and inexpensive as the wit of man
could devise; a Commission was appointed to carry the law into effect; and
intending purchasers were to be given an indefeasible title to any lands
they might acquire. This was a strong measure, but it was not nearly all;
the concurrent rights of the tenants in the estates to be sold were
absolutely ignored, and left without protection; the new possessors were
empowered to destroy them if they pleased. The results were such as might
have been looked for when lands were forced into the market wholesale,
when Ireland was still reeling from the strokes of a terrible famine, and
agricultural ruin was seen everywhere. The Commission acted as such
tribunals invariably act when skilfully selected to carry out a policy; it
addressed itself to its task of 'selling land cheap;' it was egged on by
the Lord-Lieutenant of the day; and it sacrificed estates, in scores of
instances, at less than half their value. This iniquitous proceeding went
on for years, until the market for land in Ireland righted itself at last;
but the Encumbered Estates Act was often renewed; about a sixth part of
the lands of Ireland has been transferred by these means. As the result
many of the Irish gentry, who might have tided over the crisis, were
beggared and cast on the world penniless; and confiscation from above had
its counterpart in confiscation from below; the partial joint-ownership of
thousands of the occupiers of the soil was ruthlessly annihilated in
numbers of cases. And what were the consequences of this scheme of
spoliation and wrong, which English politicians would never have thought
of but for their traditional contempt of the rights of property in land in
Ireland? English and Scottish capital, indeed, reached the Irish soil; but
it reached it in the form of large mortgages, a heavy drain on the
country's resources; the English and Scottish purchasers of the Irish land
were a mere handful of men. The estates, in fact, transferred under the
Encumbered Estates Acts, as a rule, passed into the ownership of jobbers,
speculators, and mortgagees, people without the associations old
possession ensures; they have formed, as a class, harsh and exacting
landlords, the true successors of the almost defunct middleman; they are
responsible for much that is bad in Irish landed relations of late years.
A huge confiscation, in a word, failed, as those of Elizabeth and Cromwell
failed before; the fact ought to be a warning to public men, who have been
parading theories about the Irish land--strewn as this has been with
monuments of misdeeds and errors--as false and more dangerous than those
which produced the Encumbered Estates Acts.[51]

The exodus had, by 1851, reduced the population of Ireland by nearly two
millions of souls; this decline has continued ever since; the population
which, in 1846, was considerably more than eight millions, is now, we
have seen, only about four and a half millions. In 1852 an agitation
sprang up, which might have wrought a great change in Irish landed
relations, had it not been brought by mere accident to an untimely end.
The Report of the Devon Commission, I have said, had troubled Ulster; the
Famine had driven peasants, in tens of thousands, from their homes; the
operation of the Encumbered Estates Act was destroying their concurrent
rights in their holdings. At the General Election of 1852 Ireland returned
a large party of representatives to the House of Commons pledged to
vindicate the claims of the tenant farmers; these were expressed in a
demand that has been called the 'Three F's,' 'Fair Rent,' 'Fixity of
Tenure,' and 'Free Sale,' a mode of occupation which had been largely
secured by the Custom of Ulster, and to which O'Connell had given his
sanction. The Government of Lord Derby was now in office; it had brought
in measures which, in some degree, would have legalised the rights of the
Irish tenant; but the Ministry was defeated, partly through an
intrigue;[52] the cause of the Irish farmer was baffled and kept in
suspense for years, largely owing to dissensions and treachery on the part
of some of the Irish members. By this time the country had begun to
revive, and to throw off the worst effects of the Famine; vast depopulated
tracts had been opened to new husbandry; the land had been set free, over
an immense area, from the incubus of a mass of wretchedness which had
preyed on it, and had completely disorganised the land system, unnaturally
forcing up rent and cutting down wages. Under these conditions the
statesmen in power, already expecting great things from the Encumbered
Estates Act, believed that the Irish land system would right itself, and
that it was unnecessary to consider or to protect the rights of the
tenant classes; these would either disappear, or would be fairly adjusted
in the improved landed relations that were being formed. At all events,
there was no legislation to secure these claims; the scanty legislation,
that dealt with the Irish land, was unfavourable, in many ways, to these,
and endeavoured to assimilate Irish to English tenures, as Tudor lawyers
had done three centuries before; and Lord Palmerston, for a long time the
head of the State, discouraged Irish tenant right, in more than one
speech, and declared that it only meant landlord wrong, unwise utterances
that showed he did not understand the subject. At the same time, the
policy of clearing the land for cultivators of a capitalist class, able to
occupy and do justice to large farms, was generally advocated in high
places; more than one Lord-Lieutenant announced that nature had made
Ireland a great grazing tract, and that her petty occupiers were little
better than a social nuisance.[53]

For some time it seemed as though the forecasts made by the great majority
of our statesmen would prove correct. The immense emigration from Ireland
to the United States had important results, unfortunate in many respects;
but the uplifting of redundant millions from the soil greatly contributed
to the country's welfare. Holdings were consolidated over very large
areas, a beneficent process, if humanely carried out; a certain number of
Englishmen and Scotsmen rented large farms; the progress of husbandry of
all kinds was distinct; a vast field for agriculture, really worthy of the
name, was opened. A new standard for the management of land was, in fact,
set up; at the same time a few purchasers, under the Encumbered Estates
Acts, laid out considerable sums in improving their estates; the Treasury
made large advances to many Irish landlords; these did much in works of
enclosure, draining, planting, and the like. Ireland began to wear a new
aspect in several counties, especially in the more thriving parts of the
southern provinces; the ruins made by the Famine, indeed, caused hideous
eyesores, in wrecks of villages and the remains of peasant dwellings; but
the mud hovels of the cottar population had largely disappeared, and the
habitations of farmers of the better class very markedly improved. The
economic conditions of landed relations became more conducive to
prosperity than they had ever been before; rents fell considerably during
a series of years, as the intense competition for land diminished; though
they gradually rose in the course of time, they never reached the
excessive rates of 1840-45; and the wages of labour greatly increased, and
attained a level that, happily, has since been preserved. Many
circumstances concurred to quicken and augment this unquestionable social
and material progress. Agricultural prices were high from about 1852
onward; Free Trade was as yet adding to the wealth of Ireland; and there
was a long succession of good harvests, the most important element in her
general welfare. The railway system, too, introduced of late years, opened
a number of new markets to her products, and greatly facilitated their
access to British markets. At the same time the turnip replaced the potato
over hundreds of thousands of acres; farm machinery greatly improved in
Ireland; the importation of the best stock from England and Scotland had
excellent results, and almost transformed the old breeds of Irish farming
animals. An era of prosperity, in a word, had seemed to dawn on Ireland;
and though agrarian disorder had not disappeared, the Whiteboy secret
societies were greatly broken up, and political agitation well-nigh
ceased.

In these circumstances, it was a common belief in England that 'the Irish
difficulty,' as it was called, was passing away, and that the 'Hibernia
Pacata' had at last become a happy reality. Yet the progress and
tranquillity of this brief period were largely superficial and even
deceptive; fires were still alive beneath the smouldering ashes. The
partial prosperity of Ireland mainly depended on good harvests and high
prices; it was interrupted, even in these years, by two or three seasons
of distress. Notwithstanding the widespread consolidation of farms, and
the removal from the soil of indigent millions, the land still, for the
most part, remained in the possession of a mere peasantry; very few of the
English and Scottish capitalist farmers settled in Ireland, and really
throve; the great majority left the country, like the 'Englishry' of a
bygone age. And though things wore a serene aspect, the inherent vices of
the land system continued to exist; in some respects they increased, or
were more painfully felt. The old divisions of race and faith between the
owners and the occupiers of the soil remained; they had but little changed
and even had perhaps widened; much had happened to keep the landed classes
more apart than before. The new purchasers, under the Encumbered Estates
Acts, were, we have seen, often hard-fisted and grasping landlords; they
raised their rents, without scruple, in too many instances; standing on
the letter of the law, they too often ignored the partial joint-ownership
in their farms of their tenants; they had sometimes recourse to unjust and
severe evictions. The old landlords, too, never recovered from the effects
of the Famine; they were overshadowed by the bureaucracy of the Castle,
which, for many years, had been growing in power; they thus became an
order of men with privileges, but without authority, in the midst of
inferiors, who had little sympathy with them, a dangerous position like
that of the French seigneurie in the later years of the eighteenth
century--a position described by Tocqueville in very striking language. At
the same time the peasantry stood aloof from them more than in the days of
their fathers; and though they remained quiescent for years, as has often
happened in Irish history, there were causes for this increasing
estrangement. They were no longer the grossly ignorant multitude of fifty
years before; education had made some way among them, though in this
respect they were still backward; they felt more acutely all that was hard
in their lot, like the French peasantry before the great Revolution of
1789-94. This sentiment, however, owed its principal force to sentiments
engendered in far distant lands. The thousands of the exodus had left
their country with memories embittered against some Irish landlords, and,
notably, against the British Government; a new Ireland was rising across
the Atlantic; the emigrants and their sons were in constant communication
with the old Ireland once their home; socialistic ideas as regards the
land, blending with dislike of the superiors and the rulers, under whom
they lived, were gradually diffused among the Irish peasantry. The
economic conditions, too, of landed relations by degrees made these
feelings more general and intense. Rents were rising as the wealth of the
country increased, though, except in the cases of the new landlords, and
of a very few surviving middlemen, they were, as a rule, by no means
excessive. Simultaneously a concurrence of causes had extinguished
leasehold tenures in most parts of Ireland, and had reduced the status of
the Irish farmer to that of a mere tenant at will, liable to be
dispossessed by a notice to quit, at the mercy, in fact, of the lord of
the soil. And, meanwhile, the equitable rights of the occupiers as a
class, due to improvements, and to sums paid for the goodwill of farms,
had been increasing to an immense extent; and yet a grievous wrong--they
were not even recognised by law. Law and fact had long been sharply
clashing in landed relations; there was much that was essentially bad in
the land system; and agrarian trouble and crime was on the increase.

The mind of England had turned away from Ireland after the petty outbreak
of 1848; it charged the Irish community with ungrateful folly, as it
recollected the charity lavished during the Famine. This sentiment was
replaced by what was worse, indifference; throughout this period--from
1850 to 1868--Parliament gave little attention to the affairs of Ireland.
British statesmen continued to pin their faith to their policy; they
disregarded ominous symptoms on the increase; Ireland was rapidly becoming
more prosperous; the claims of the Irish tenant farmer were a delusion, or
worse. This apathy was augmented by the state of the representation of
Ireland in these years; this was in a feeble, even a degraded condition;
and largely owing to the authority of Cardinal Cullen, who prohibited the
Irish priesthood from taking any part in politics, agitation, I have said,
had become a mere tradition of the past. Yet the causes I have glanced at
were silently at work, which ultimately were to lead to grave social
troubles. The first sign of disturbance was seen in a little outbreak, the
result of a conspiracy hatched by one of the rebels of 1848, and supported
to some extent from America: but the 'Phoenix plot,' as it was called,
almost at once collapsed; the Government thought it hardly worthy of
notice. Another and much more formidable conspiracy was matured in
1864-65; and though it was put down with little difficulty in time, it
showed that there was much that was peccant in the state of Ireland; and
it deeply affected the minds of Englishmen, aroused as it were out of a
fool's paradise. The millions of the Irish race in the Far West were
passionately appealed to by leaders, not without parts, to assist in a
crusade against 'landlordism,' and British rule in Ireland; they gave the
movement very general support; they found numerous allies in thousands of
Irishmen disbanded after the great conflict between the North and the
South. The Fenian conspiracy was launched on its course; its directors
made skilful attempts to debauch whole regiments, and to stir up the
passions of the mob in many of the towns of Ireland; and they especially
turned their attention to the mass of the peasantry. Here, however, their
policy was injudicious and ill-conceived; they promised the Irish land as
a spoil to those who would join the ranks of the 'patriot Irish army;' but
all this alarmed the occupiers of the soil, whose only object was to
acquire a better mode of tenure for their farms, and who rightly thought
the Fenian movement made their possessions insecure, a belief generally
encouraged by the Catholic priesthood. A short-lived rising, conducted by
a few American soldiers, and backed by the rabble of a few villages and
towns, found no real support in Ireland, and was finally quelled in 1867;
but in England there was a spurt of Fenian disorder, and this, though
easily quenched, made a profound impression. It was generally felt in
England and Scotland that, notwithstanding the optimism of a generation of
public men, there was still much that was rotten in the state of Ireland,
and that this should be removed by large and searching reforms. The chief
sign of this change in British opinion was seen in the result of the
General Election of 1868; Mr. Gladstone, who, hitherto, had taken
comparatively little part in Irish affairs, but who, with his keen
instinct of every turn in the public mind, had been vehemently enlarging
on the wrongs of Ireland, was placed in power with a great majority, and
at once addressed himself to the task of Irish reform.[54]



CHAPTER IV

THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--THE IRISH LAND ACT OF
1870--THE LAND LEAGUE AND THE NATIONAL LEAGUE--THE LAND OF
1881--SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION AS REGARDS THE LAND SYSTEM OF IRELAND

    State of landed relations in Ireland in 1869-70--Mr. Gladstone Prime
    Minister--The Land Act of 1870--Its merits and defects--A short period
    of prosperity in Ireland--Ominous symptoms--Michael Davitt--The
    teaching of John Finton Lalor in 1848--The 'New Departure' in
    Fenianism arranged in America--Foundation of the Land League--It was a
    foreign rebellious conspiracy, with an agrarian side, under a
    constitutional mask--Parnell the master spirit of the League--His
    visit to America and the results--A short period of distress in
    Ireland--Conduct of the Irish landlords--Progress of the Land
    League--Mr. Gladstone again Prime Minister in 1880--The Compensation
    for Disturbance Bill rejected by the House of Lords--Outburst of
    agrarian crime, as the Land League increases in power--Rents at
    Griffith's valuation--Boycotting--Frightful state of Ireland in
    1881--After a short attempt to repress it, Mr. Gladstone surrenders to
    the Land League--The Land Act of 1881--Mr. Gladstone breaks the
    pledges he had made in 1870--His promise of compensating the Irish
    landlords--The Land Act of 1881 a bad and unjust measure directly
    inconsistent with that of 1870--The 'No Rent Manifesto'--The
    Kilmainham Treaty--The Phoenix Park tragedy--Coercion--Parnell
    founds the National League, the successor of the Land League--Renewal
    of agitation in 1886--Struggle with law and the Government--Subsequent
    agrarian legislation for Ireland--This is really a concession to
    agitation, for the benefit of Irish tenants, and to the injury of
    Irish landlords.


Mr. Gladstone, after his conversion to Home Rule, more than once declared
that, almost from early manhood he had given special attention to
Ireland; either his memory was at fault, or he had kept the fact to
himself. He had been a conspicuous figure in politics, for many years
before 1868; but until he had been placed at the helm of the State, he had
shown little acquaintance with Irish questions, and, indeed, had expressed
few opinions on them. In 1866 he had said in the House of Commons, that
the existence of the Anglican Irish Church would be probably long; he had
been in high office almost since 1853, and, as a colleague of Lord
Palmerston, had acquiesced in the philippics of that statesman against
Irish tenant right, conduct that revealed ignorance of the land system of
Ireland. But, in 1868, when the Fenian outbreak had caused the nation to
demand large reforms in Ireland, he suddenly abandoned his attitude of
reserve; he threw himself into Irish affairs; his zeal, it may be
remarked, as often happened, fell in with his interests, and with those of
the Liberal party, and gave him a leverage to drive Disraeli from office.
During months before the General Election that ensued, the orator
thundered on Irish grievances, and on the manifold ills of Ireland; in
figurative and impassioned language, he said that the island was blighted
by a huge upas tree, the Church, the land, and education being the three
main branches. These harangues, addressed to the new democracy,
contributed powerfully to the fall of the Conservative Ministry; it was
little noticed, at the time, that one of the results was ere long to
compel Mr. Gladstone himself to subject Ireland to severe repressive
measures, for Whiteboy and agrarian outrages became frequent In 1869, the
Minister addressed himself to the task of hewing down the first branch of
the poisonous upas; he disestablished and disendowed the Protestant Church
of Ireland. This is not the place to comment upon that great measure; it
was well designed upon its professed principles; it dealt liberally, nay,
generously, with the voluntary Church, which replaced the Church of the
State it overthrew. But essentially it was a scheme of destruction, formed
in Nonconformist not in Irish interests, and opposed to the views of
generations of statesmen; it made no provision for the clergy of the Irish
Catholic Church, a policy which Pitt, Castlereagh, and Lord John Russell
had had at heart, which had been all but a condition of the Union, and
which, if carried into effect, would have done much to strengthen and
maintain that fundamental law, and to promote tranquillity in Ireland and
her general welfare.

Mr. Gladstone now turned to the second branch of the upas, the land system
of Ireland and her landed relations. His whole career, especially in its
Home Rule phase, proves that his knowledge of Ireland was not exact or
profound; at this time he had had little experience of the Irish land
question. But the mind of England was still attracted to Irish affairs; a
number of distinguished Englishmen and Scotchmen went to Ireland, to
investigate the state of the country on the spot; the British Press sent
some of its best contributors; the time was singularly opportune for a
fair and complete inquiry; no Minister has had, before or since, such
assistance in dealing with Irish problems. I must glance at the state of
the Irish land system in 1869-70, as this was fully explored and made
manifest.[55] The material progress being made, since about 1854, had
been largely developed in by far the greatest part of the island. The
population was being still diminished by emigration and other causes; the
area for real husbandry had been greatly extended; the rural community, at
least in its lower grades, was infinitely better off than it had been
before the Famine. The look of the country, in most places, bore witness
to a change beneficent in the main; it had been almost transformed since
1844-45. The cottar system, no doubt, was to be found in backward
counties; but even in these it had been largely effaced; it was all but
passing away in the more thriving counties; masses of indigence were to be
seen only in tracts west of the Shannon; and these were aggregated on an
area comparatively small. The general consolidation of farms had,
meanwhile, gone on; and though Ireland remained, on the whole, a land of
small farms, her land system had, from top to bottom, ceased to depend for
its support on a perishable root. In every conceivable respect a marked
improvement was visible in the state of the peasantry; they were by many
degrees better clothed and fed than their fathers had been; the wages of
agricultural labour were still rising, and were now paid in money, and not
in plots of potatoes; and though the habitations of this whole class were,
as a rule, still mean, the dwellings of the class of substantial farmers
had shown signs of distinct social progress. At the same time agriculture
had made a marked advance, owing to the influences I have referred to
before; fine specimens of extensive farming were very commonly to be seen;
thousands of acres had been reclaimed and enclosed of late years; at no
period certainly had the landed gentry, in a great measure through moneys
borrowed from the State, expended such large sums in improving their
estates, especially in arterial drainage, and the introduction of the
best breeds of stock of all kinds. The wealth of Ireland, too, was
increasing, if not rapidly; and a change for the better might be traced in
what we may describe as her general social life. Her middle class was
still weak and small compared to that of England and Scotland; but it had
been growing in wealth and power; and this, to some extent, had had a good
effect on a community still mainly dependent on the land.

The material and even the social progress of Ireland, since the Famine,
had thus been marked; it had been more decided than it has been, at any
period, except, possibly, that from 1782 to 1800. Her land system, too,
had become better in important parts; but in many respects it remained
vicious; some of its vices had been aggravated, or were more sensibly
felt. The hope that the land would pass generally into the hands of large
farmers, able to develop its resources, had not been realised, or had been
realised only to a relatively trivial extent; it was still held in the
main by a peasantry of small occupiers of the soil, though the
consolidation of farms had gone on over extensive areas, especially over
wide tracts of pasturage, in the eastern, midland, and western counties,
and this, in some instances, through a process of harsh eviction. The
profound divisions of race and faith, the distinctive feature in the
organic structure of the whole community, were at least as visible as ever
in the land system; from causes I have pointed out before, they had, not
improbably, been widened; this tended to increase the old dissension in
landed relations, and the long-standing separation between the landed
classes. Middleman tenures, with their mischievous effects, had, since the
Famine, well-nigh disappeared; but the new landlord had largely replaced
the middleman; absenteeism remained what it had been; and though absentee
estates, as a rule, were under good agents, there was too much of that
'absenteeism of the heart,' condemned by Tocqueville as a grave social
danger. The purchasers under the Encumbered Estates Acts, with some
honourable exceptions, no doubt, were too often oppressive landlords; the
old landlords, as a class, had, certainly, done much for their estates,
but they had lost their political and largely their social influence;
partly owing to apprehensions as regards tenant right, partly to the
assurances of statesmen that their position was safe, they had become
perhaps more exacting in their dealings with their dependents; in the
existing situation, they more and more resembled a weak caste, controlled
by the central Government, and isolated amidst a community, to a great
extent, not friendly. All this tended to produce a want of stability and
insecurity in the land system, which was ominous of social strife and
trouble; but the most active element of disturbance was to be certainly
found in the contact with the rebellious movement which Ireland had lately
witnessed. Fenianism had been scotched, but by no means slain; and though
the peasantry had held aloof from it, Fenian emissaries were going through
the country, appealing to the passions and the greed of the occupiers of
the soil, for different reasons not contented with their lot, hostile, in
a great degree, to the order of things around them, and more alive to
their grievances than in the past generation; at this very time a cry
against the payment of rent, and against 'landlordism,' as it was called,
was being heard in a few counties. It was significant that agrarian
crimes--some of the worst type--and agrarian disorder were distinctly
increasing; and it should be added, that, in spite of Cardinal Cullen, the
younger Catholic priests, in some districts, were beginning to play the
part of agitators again.

Passing from the general state of landed relations, the conditions of land
tenure, briefly noticed before, had not improved of late years, and were,
in some respects, worse. Rents had been rising for a considerable time:
but except in comparatively few instances, they were not excessive, as
affairs stood; whatever mendacious calumny has since maintained, Ireland,
on the whole, was in no sense an over-rented land.[56] But the modes of
occupation were essentially bad; they were open to the gravest objections;
their vices had become more than ever apparent. The tenant right, under
the Ulster custom, had, I have remarked, largely secured the tenant
farmer, in parts of the province, what was generally known as the 'Three
F's,' Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure, the power of a Free Sale of the
holding;[57] though it should be especially borne in mind that the fair
rent was never adjusted by an external agency, but was settled by what
Adam Smith would have called 'higgling' between the owner and occupier of
the soil. The custom, however, had been very powerful; its violation, on
anything like a great scale, would have certainly caused a fierce war of
classes; and it gave the Ulster tenant, in tens of thousands of cases, a
real proprietary right in the land, whatever might be the terms of his
contract; a right equivalent to more or less joint-ownership, and that
might be described as a precious _peculium_, subject to conditions that
long had made it practically secure. But this most important right,
involving property worth many millions, still remained wholly unprotected
by law; and though its value had enormously increased, as the wealth of
Ulster had been developed, of late years, it was being 'nibbled away' on
not a few estates, and restricted by limitations of many kinds that had
greatly impaired it. An analogous right, like seed scattered by the
winds, had partially spread into the southern provinces, as the natural
result of the equitable claims, the occupiers of farms had repeatedly
acquired, though this had not been recognised on many estates, and its
efficacy was not as yet great; but this right, such as it was, like its
fellow, was not law-worthy, and depended wholly on the will of the lord of
the soil. In addition to the tenant right in the north and the south, the
concurrent claims of the tenant farmers, throughout the country, in
respect of improvements and of sums paid on the transfer of farms, for
'good-will,' had been greatly increasing of late years, especially as
prosperity was advancing; and yet tenures had continued to become more
precarious; leaseholds were being almost everywhere replaced by tenancies
at will. These claims were never so extensive before; often equivalent to
joint-ownership, in no doubtful sense, and, in almost all cases, of some
value, they were, nevertheless, still outside the ægis of the law, a fact
that must ever be borne in mind; they could be destroyed or greatly
reduced by the raising of rent, they could be annihilated by a notice to
quit, if eviction followed. Unquestionably in the great mass of instances,
these rights, whatever their nature, were not invaded; but they certainly
had been in a certain number; a single case of invasion created alarm and
distrust, and had a bad effect on landed relations; throw a stone into a
pond, and it makes a ripple; it has a disturbing influence far beyond the
surface it strikes. No wonder, then, that complaints of these modes of
tenure had become very general, and were loudly expressed, not only by
those who might suffer from them, but by intelligent minds which had
mastered the subject. It was an exaggeration to assert, as was said at the
time, that the peasant in Ireland lived under a sword of Damocles; but he
lived under a system in which law and right were very plainly opposed.

Only a revolution, which Parliament would not have sanctioned, could have
effaced the inveterate ills of the Irish land system, running up to the
conquests and the confiscations of the past, and the divisions of race and
faith in the Irish land; the remark is as true now as it was thirty years
ago; and a revolution of the kind, I am firmly convinced, would, even
under the best conditions, make infinitely worse whatever was already bad.
But it was possible for legislation to remove or mitigate the essential
vices in the modes of Irish land tenure; Mr. Gladstone rightly confined
himself to this object. He brought in his first Irish Land Bill in the
early spring of 1870; he had to address a House of Commons not much in
sympathy with a project of the kind. Many of the members were ignorant of
the subject; many thought English land tenure perfect, and could not
understand why it would not do for Ireland, a prejudice at least three
centuries old; some believed Irish tenant right to be a violation of Free
Trade, then in the ascendant in every phase of commerce. The Minister's
speech was adapted to those who heard it; it was tentative, moderate, not
striking; he drew, indeed, very plain distinctions between British and
Irish land tenure, and showed how the first could be no rule of right for
the second; but if he enlarged on the just claims of the occupier of the
Irish soil, he did not venture to maintain, what he probably felt, that
these were often equivalent to a joint-ownership more or less developed.
He was, in short, dexterous, but not profound; very inferior to Burke,
who, a century before, had grasped the essential facts in this province,
though the question was still in the remote future. The most important
parts of Mr. Gladstone's speech, and indeed, of those of his leading
followers, regard being had to events by no means distant, were those in
which he repudiated, with no doubtful censure, the whole theory of the
'Three F's,' the extreme demand, at this time, of the tenant class in
Ireland. 'Fair Rent' he argued, especially if adjusted by the State,
deprives a landlord of his first proprietary right, and involves his
expropriation in the long run; 'Fixity of Tenure' means a perpetuity for
the tenant, to which he has no just claim, and involves confiscation
hardly disguised; 'Free Sale' was but a corollary to legislation on these
principles.[58] At the same time, Mr. Gladstone protested, with marked
emphasis, that the Bill he was introducing was to be absolutely a final
measure; it was to effect a permanent settlement of the Irish land; Irish
landlords would have nothing more to apprehend, Irish tenants to expect.
In this instance, as in that of Home Rule, the orator was to belie
himself, and to be a curious example of the irony of Fate; within a few
years he was to legislate on the lines he had denounced as dangerous and
false; to carry into effect a scheme for dealing with the Irish land,
infinitely worse than that of the 'Three F's;' to scatter the 'finality,'
to which he had pledged his word, to the winds.

The Bill thus launched was a comprehensive and wise measure, if not free
from real, even grave, defects; it remains the only statesmanlike scheme
for the settlement of Irish landed relations that hitherto has received
the assent of Parliament.[59] It made the tenant right of Ulster, in its
various forms, as these existed in different estates, law-worthy, and
protected to the fullest extent; it gave the same sanction to the inchoate
tenant right of the southern provinces. This was, in itself, an immense
reform; but the Bill properly had a far wider sweep; it extended, with the
exception of certain kinds of lands, such as demesnes, town parks,
holdings of a residential type, and, in most cases, large pastoral
holdings, to nearly all the occupiers of the Irish soil; even the excepted
lands were partially within its scope. The first great object of the
measure was to secure to the Irish tenant the rights he had acquired to
improvements he may have made on his farm, a right hitherto not within the
pale of the law; its provisions, in this respect, were, I think,
excellent. With a true perception of the unquestionable fact that, though
the Irish landlords, especially of late years, had expended considerable
sums on their estates, still, as is inevitable under the small-farm
system, the Irish tenant, as a general rule, had made the greatest part of
the additions to the land, Mr. Gladstone provided that, subject to
limitations by no means severe, in order that the law should not run wild,
improvements made on farms, in the absence of proof to the contrary,
should be deemed to be the tenant's property, thus reversing the
presumption of English law, iniquitous when applied to Irish tenures, that
what is annexed to the soil belongs to the owner, and not to its occupant.
The ground being, so to speak, cleared, the Bill declared that, in almost
all cases, a tenant should have a right, when leaving his farm, even
though dispossessed for the failure to pay his rent, to claim
compensation, from his landlord, for his improvements; and facilities were
offered to landlords to discharge these claims through loans from the
State. In order, however, reasonably to secure right being done, in a
complex and very difficult matter, the Bill proceeded to define
improvements, and to impose restrictions on claims, to which objection
could fairly be made. Apart from unexhausted tillages and manures, an
improvement was to be a work 'suitable to a holding, and adding to its
letting value,' a description as equitable and precise as could well be
desired. And, speaking generally, claims in respect of improvements were
not to be preferred were the improvement twenty years old, except in the
case of buildings and the reclamation of waste land; nor if the
improvement were prohibited by the landlord, under the conditions laid
down; nor if it were made under a contract for value; nor if it were
forbidden by a special contract; nor if, in certain cases, the landlord
had agreed to make it; nor if the claim was barred by express written
contract, in the case of improvements made before the Bill became law;
nor, in the case, with some exceptions, of certain classes of leases; nor
if the landlord, under certain conditions, permitted a tenant to dispose
of his interest in his farm.

This measure, therefore, gave the Irish tenant farmer complete property in
his improvements, within reasonable bounds, and yet did not here invade
the just rights of the landlord; it was only to be regretted that it had
not been proposed many years before. It proceeded, however, a great deal
further, and asserted a principle, for the behoof of the tenant, which has
since been very generally condemned,[60] though in my judgment, it was
essentially right, if carried somewhat beyond proper and safe limits.
Except in the case of leases granted before the Bill, and of a class of
leases granted when it was to become law, Mr. Gladstone engrafted on the
great mass of Irish tenancies what really was a new tenant right; he was
probably convinced, though he did not say so, that this was to be an
equivalent for the joint-ownership, more or less manifest, which, in
innumerable instances, the Irish occupier had acquired in the soil. This
tenant right was given the rather ambiguous name of 'Compensation,' in the
event of 'Disturbance;' a sum varying in amount from seven to one year's
rent, according to the size of the holding, but in no case to exceed £250,
was to be paid to a tenant when dispossessed by a notice to quit, and, in
some circumstances, by other means; this was to be over and above any sum
due in respect of improvements; but this, too, as in the case of the
last-named sum, was to be paid only when the tenant was 'quitting' the
land. Obviously this was a potential tenant right, if to be realised only
in one way; it practically gave a quasi-proprietary right in the fee, as,
when commenting on the Bill, I pointed out at the time; and I certainly
thought that the compensation was very large, and introduced a principle
into the Bill which might be abused. Two other provisions of the measure,
with respect to the position of the Irish tenant, may be briefly noticed.
No attempt was made to adjust rents, through the agency of the State, Mr.
Gladstone having expressly denounced the idea; but in the case of petty
occupiers, subjected to 'exorbitant rents,' compensation for disturbance
might be adjudged to them, even if evicted for not paying the rent, that
is, the landlord might be mulcted in very heavy penalties. In nearly all
instances, too, the tenant was declared to be entitled to 'his away-going
crops,' another privilege, sometimes of no little value, and analogous to
that secured by usage in many parts of England. So far the Bill dealt with
the Irish land on the side of occupation; but it dealt with it, also, on
the side of ownership. John Bright had urged the expediency, during
several years, of facilitating the transfer of the fee simple, in his
holding, to the Irish tenant; this policy had been carried out, to some
extent, by the Act disestablishing the Anglican Church in Ireland. The
Bill of 1870 extended the principle; it provided that the State might
advance moneys to Irish tenants, to enable them to become owners of their
farms; but--and this should especially be kept in mind--the tenant was to
supply a third part of the purchase money at least; and the transaction
was to be effected by free contract, that is, by the voluntary act of the
landlord disposing of his land. It remains to add, that the administration
of the measure, was, for the most part--subject to an appeal to the
Superior Courts--entrusted to the County Courts of Ireland, that is, to
long-established tribunals of repute.

The Bill passed through both Houses with little change; it has long been
known as the Irish Land Act of 1870. It was, in the main, I repeat, a
great reforming measure; it effected a far-reaching improvement in the
tenure of land in Ireland, and that without any marked infringement of the
just rights of property. No impartial mind can fairly object to the
protection given to the tenant right of the north and the south, or to the
compensation secured for tenants' improvements; if 'Compensation for
Disturbance' was a bold experiment, still this Parliamentary tenant right,
as it may be called, was in harmony with fact in nearly all instances.
Nevertheless, the Act had three marked defects; these largely detracted
from its practical value. It bristled with such exceptions and limitations
that it was difficult even for the learned to understand; it seemed to the
unlettered peasant a dangerous puzzle, involving him, perhaps, in lawsuits
and costs; it did not strike his imagination as a substantial boon.
Though, too, it annexed a real tenant right to nearly all farms, and thus
secured to the Irish tenant, in almost all cases, any joint-ownership he
may have acquired in the land, still this was intelligible only to
educated men; 'Compensation for Disturbance' was to be given only when an
occupier was about to leave his holding; but this was exactly what he
could not bear to do; he was, therefore, ready to accept almost any terms,
rather than face consequences he dreaded to think of. Mr. Gladstone,
again, had, in this measure, shown that he wished to assimilate Irish to
English land tenure in the long run; he sought to vindicate the just
claims of the Irish tenant; but he desired ultimately to give him the
status of his fellow in England, a long-standing, false conception of
British statesmen. The Land Act, therefore, provided that most of the
rights it conferred on the tenant might be commuted by the grant of a
lease for thirty-one years or upwards; and it further enacted that tenants
of the larger kind might 'contract themselves out' of the privileges it
gave, by voluntary agreements made with their landlords. The object of
this was to place the Irish land, by degrees, no doubt, under rather long
leases, discharged from the tenant right and other claims; but in the
circumstances of Ireland this was a mistake. This part of the Act was a
temptation to landlords, to persuade or even to force tenants to accept
leases under conditions which might be too severe, with respect to rent
and many other things, and to forego rights they would otherwise have
enjoyed, by a process which might not be a free contract; it encouraged,
in a word, unfair evasion of the law. This flaw in the measure was pointed
out from the first; Mr. Gladstone, however, denied its existence, and
characteristically shut his ears to other schemes of reform, notably to an
ingenious proposal of the late Judge Longfield to extend the Ulster tenant
right to all Irish tenancies by a very simple and self-acting process, and
to a proposal of Butt to convert tenancies at will into long leaseholds,
at the rents then current. These projects certainly deserved attention;
and, whatever their shortcomings, were easy to understand.

The Act of 1870, like the Act dealing with the Protestant Church, was
followed by a short-lived outbreak of agrarian crime put down only by
severe coercive measures. This phenomenon has been common in Irish
history, from the days of Tyrconnell to the present time; disorder has
been the immediate result of concessions; peccant humours discharge
themselves if you touch the head of an ulcer. There is some reason, too,
to believe that in a few instances--and they were very few--wrongheaded
landlords, alarmed at the prospect before them, began to harass and even
to dispossess tenants; they aimed at 'clearing' their estates, in order to
evade the law; conduct of this kind naturally provoked indignation in some
places.[61] Nevertheless, the Land Act of 1870 was generally well received
in Ireland, though it fell short of the popular demand, and it was ill
understood by the tenant classes;[62] many farmers availed themselves of
its benefits, especially those holding under the Ulster custom. Five or
six years of prosperity followed, the brightest perhaps ever seen in
Ireland; agricultural prices were high, harvests extremely good; the
material progress of the country was decided; the peasantry seemed, as a
rule, contented; agitation abandoned, as it were, the land, and
concentrated itself on the Home Rule movement. Mr. Gladstone, always
optimistic, and proud of his own offspring, boasted, towards the close of
his first Ministry, that his recent legislation had done wonders; the Land
Act had reconciled Irish landlords and tenants, and had greatly increased
the selling price of land; he refused to see how much of all this was due
to a cause wholly independent of himself, the comparative well-being of
nearly all Ireland. As had happened in the period from 1854 to 1870, this
tranquillity was not deeply founded or complete; as then, it was, in a
great degree, deceptive. The peasantry were living fast in a good time;
banks and traders had made large advances to them on the security of
tenure the law had created; their position became such, in some districts,
that a season of distress might reduce many to sudden poverty, and be
productive of the necessarily resulting evils. Rents, again, were rising
as the country grew in wealth, though except in comparatively few cases--a
fact that should be steadily kept in view--they were still, as a rule, by
no means excessive; they were far below the rents of thirty years before;
but this gradual rise was of course not popular. In some instances,
too--but these were very rare, as was conclusively proved at a subsequent
time--tenants, under more or less pressure on the part of their landlords,
had accepted leases excluding them from the advantages of the law, and not
equitable in some respects, or had wholly 'contracted themselves out' of
the Act; this naturally caused alarm and distrust in many peasant
dwellings. But the principal reasons that content was really less than it
seemed to be in landed relations were altogether of a different nature.
Like too many even excellent reforms in Ireland, the Land Act of 1870
became law too late; twenty years before it would have been hailed as an
extraordinary boon; it was now regarded as almost a half measure, in view
of the socialistic ideas about the land afloat. At the same time,
Fenianism continued to make its influence felt; Irish-Americans continued
to flit through the country denouncing British rule and Irish landlords,
and calling upon the peasantry, as in 1798, to rise. Even in these years
of prosperity, though rents were well paid, there was a secret movement
against rent beneath the surface of things, so well concealed that it was
absolutely unknown by the Government.

Meanwhile, in the midst of apparent peace, the elements of trouble in
Ireland still quiescent were to come to a head and to give rise to a
movement. The most formidable to British rule though skilfully masked,
which had been seen since the rebellion of 1798. Revolutionary schemes in
Ireland have always fastened on the land as the chief source from which
they could derive strength; the United Irish movement as I have pointed
out, was connected with a peasant movement against the payment of rent.
This idea had been brought into marked prominence by John Finton Lalor,
one of the rebels of 1848, a comparatively unknown but a sagacious man;
'You must associate' he wrote, 'the cause of Irish liberty, for which the
people really care little with a cause for which they care a great deal;
an inert mass must be yoked to a powerful engine; the Irish landlord must
be driven from the land and the peasant masses be made its owners; and the
fall of English power will follow that of its landlord garrison.' These
words fell for the moment on unheeding ears; but the tradition has
continued from that day to this the destruction of Irish 'landlordism' was
one of the objects of the Fenian leaders of 1865-67, and they denounced
the Irish gentry in atrocious language, though they did not know how to
carry out their policy. This teaching was eagerly adopted by Michael
Davitt, a Fenian, who had been convicted of a crime against the State;
during a long imprisonment at Dartmoor, he brooded 'on his country's
wrongs,' but satisfied himself that if the independence of Ireland was a
patriot's first object, this could be attained only by uprooting the
existing land system, by hounding on the occupiers of the soil against its
owners, and by handing it over as spoil to the peasantry. Davitt was
released from Dartmoor at the close of 1877; he attended a meeting in
Dublin at which Parnell was present, and two of the assassins of the
Phoenix Park tragedy; and he became supreme in the ranks of the Fenian
societies, known as 'the Irish Republican Brotherhood,' which still
retained a feeble life in Ireland, and even in England and Scotland. A
short time afterwards he made his way to the United States, where he found
the Fenians divided into two parties, known under the general name of the
Clan na Gael, but having different objects, though with a common purpose.
Both parties were for liberating Ireland 'from the Saxon yoke;' but the
most violent and the most active sought to attain this end by expedients
of desperate force; a 'skirmishing fund' had been established; 'England
was to be invaded' by small bodies of 'resolute men;' her capital and
chief towns were to be destroyed by dynamite. The other party, more
prudent, but with similar aims, had been struck by Parnell's attitude in
the House of Commons, and by the success of his unscrupulous tactics; its
leaders began to think that something might be done by 'constitutional
means;' they gradually came to an agreement with Davitt, that 'the
overthrow of English domination' was to be their ultimate end; but that
efforts in this direction were to be linked with energetic efforts to
subvert 'the landlord system, a disgrace to humanity and to the
civilisation of the present century;' to banish the Irish landed gentry
from their country, and to secure their estates for their tenantry. This
movement, though rebellious in no doubtful sense, was nevertheless to have
a legal disguise; the wolf was to wear sheep's clothing; the 'formation of
a peasant proprietary, and the abolition of arbitrary evictions,' were to
be its proposed objects.[63]

Treason, seeking support from socialistic greed, was thus the origin of
the Land League conspiracy, for this was its only legitimate name. I have
glanced at this movement, on its political side, as it was associated with
the cause of Home Rule; I must here consider it on its agrarian side, the
most prominent, if not the most dangerous, to the State.[64] The compact
between Davitt and the moderates of the Clan na Gael was called the 'New
Departure;' Davitt returned to Ireland to stir up what became known as the
'Land War;' Fenian emissaries went to Ireland, about the same time, in
order to collect arms and to drill peasants, with a view to a possible
rising should the occasion be found. Meanwhile, Davitt had addressed
himself to what was more immediately at hand; in the spring of 1879 he got
a meeting together, in his native county, Mayo, at which 'landlordism' and
all its works were savagely denounced; during the following months other
meetings of the same sort were held, but as yet only in the western
province of Connaught. At these gatherings the crusade against the landed
gentry went on; rebellious utterances were blended with ferocious
diatribes against[65] landlords sometimes marked out for vengeance by
name; and the peasantry were called on to keep 'a firm grip on their
lands;' these would become their own should they only be steadfast. The
Land League movement was now launched on its course; but it was known to
be an essentially Fenian movement; it was subsidised from Clan na Gael
funds; it was supported by a murderous Clan na Gael print; it was
condemned in the severest language by an aged Catholic prelate, one of the
few of O'Connell's surviving friends. The movement, however, as yet was
not of much strength; Davitt had opinions about the 'nationalisation of
the land,' which, like those of the Fenian leaders of 1865-67, were not to
the mind of the peasantry; his efforts, hitherto, had not had much
success. In this position of affairs he addressed himself to Parnell, who
had had Fenian sympathies and associations for years, and had, we have
seen, attracted Fenian admiration abroad; what passed between the two men
has not transpired; but Parnell, if with reluctance, consented at last to
become the head of the Land League and to direct the movement. The
measures he adopted were skilfully designed, in harmony with the 'New
Departure,' and with the double-dealing nature of a true conspirator. A
Central Land League was established in Dublin; it was to have 'branches'
extending through the country; it was to make a steady attack on the land
system. Its professed objects, however, were constitutional, nay, fair; it
was 'to agitate against rack-rents and unjust evictions,' and to
'facilitate the ownership of the soil by its occupants.' The ultimate
purpose of the League, nevertheless, was that of the Fenian chiefs; of its
seven high officers four were Fenians; it was wholly supported by Fenian
moneys; its most prominent members made a boast of their Fenian
sentiments.[66] It was, in a word, a rebellious organisation in a
constitutional garb; it was the embodiment of what Parnell avowed
afterwards: 'A true revolutionary movement in Ireland should, in my
opinion, partake both of a constitutional and an illegal character. It
should be both an open and a secret organisation, using the Constitution
for its own purposes, but also taking advantage of its secret
combination.'[67]

The Land League established, under these auspices, gradually made some
progress in the western parts of Ireland, always centres of poverty more
or less developed. It had not, however, as yet, become a power in the
land; Parnell went to the United States, as I have mentioned before, in
order to obtain support for the 'New Departure.' He was the grandson of a
distinguished American; the elections for a President were near; it was
necessary to bid for the Irish vote; the chief of the League was invited
to say what his Irish policy was in the Representative House of the
people; and this he did in moderate and carefully chosen language. His
real attitude, however, was very different; he associated with well-known
Fenian leaders, became acquainted with a contributor to the _Irish World_,
the worst journal of the Clan na Gael press; and more than once gave
utterance to what was plain treason, notably to the 'last-link' speech
already referred to. He obtained considerable funds for the League in
Ireland, and before long founded a similar League in America, which became
a Fenian organisation of the very worst type. Meanwhile a season of
distress had visited Ireland; this quickened the elements of disorder
being already let loose. The harvest of 1878 was not good; that of 1879
was the worst known since the Great Famine; the prosperity of the country
suddenly came to an end. There was a universal calling in of demands,
especially from tenant farmers, who, I have said, had been rather
extravagant, and had become involved in debt;[68] the whole class suffered
more or less, though there was very little extreme indigence, and Lord
Beaconsfield's Government was not slow in providing relief, which private
charity largely increased. In these circumstances the landed gentry acted
as any class would naturally act; a considerable number made remissions of
rent; if a large majority, as certainly was the case, insisted upon their
legal rights--conduct which must be pronounced unfortunate--it must be
recollected that an agitation of extreme violence had been directed
against the whole order; and that Mr. Gladstone had declared that, after
the Land Act, there were to be no more concessions. The League now
acquired new power; its branches spread over large parts of the west; its
directors, from members in the House of Commons, to its avowed agents, and
to the 'village ruffians,' who carried out its bidding in many places,
rioted in atrocious threats against landlords whether good or bad; and a
movement against the payment of rent began. The teaching which had been
spread abroad during many months, bore the fruits which were to be
expected from it; there was a sudden outbreak of agrarian crime, and of
Whiteboyism in its worst aspect; it deserves special notice that this was
confined to the counties where the League was in real force. The
landlords, under these conditions, were often driven to enforce their
claims; attempts were made to show that the evictions that followed were
the sole causes of this social disorder. But it is absolutely certain that
this was not the case; it was the Land League which provoked the
evictions, and was responsible for the incidental crime.[69]

The spring of 1880 had come; Lord Beaconsfield had been driven from
office, in an evil day for the renown of England; Mr. Gladstone had been
returned again to power, on the flood of a tide of democratic sympathy.
Lord Beaconsfield was not an author of any very large Irish reform, but he
understood Ireland much better than his impetuous rival; he had seen from
the first the real nature of the Land League movement; in his address to
the nation, when he dissolved Parliament, he declared that an 'attempt
scarcely less dangerous than famine and pestilence' was being made to
separate Ireland from Great Britain, words treated by Mr. Gladstone with
scornful ridicule, but words of real truth. The incoming Minister had of
late taken little heed of Irish affairs; he had been engaged in his
crusade in Midlothian, and in stirring up the multitude on the Eastern
question; but he had clung to his optimistic Irish faith; he had solemnly
announced that Ireland was 'contented and happy,' when the country was
suffering from unquestionable distress; he had even refused to renew a
measure for the repression of agrarian crime, when agrarian crime was
formidably on the increase, and the Land League was rapidly growing in
strength. At last, however, partly opening his eyes to the facts, he
appointed a Commission charged to report on Irish land tenure; and he
introduced a Bill slightly to amend the Land Act of 1870, showing thus
from the outset that he choose to regard a conspiracy against the State on
its economic side mainly, and not in its far more grave political aspect.
A word must be said on this measure, which had its origin, to a great
extent, in sheer and audacious falsehood. By this time Parnell was at the
head of some sixty adherents in the House of Commons; he had linked the
Home Rule and the Land League movements; his followers were, in many
instances, chiefs of the League; they induced Mr. Gladstone to listen to
them, on representations characteristically untrue. Evictions were on the
increase in Ireland, owing to the onslaught made by the League on the
landed gentry; Parnell and his band unscrupulously exaggerated the number,
perhaps twenty-fold, by confounding ejectment decrees of the Courts with
evictions actually carried out; Mr. Gladstone appears to have accepted
this shameful statement. The new 'Compensation for Disturbance' Bill, as
it was called, provided that in the case of certain classes of tenants,
although they had failed to pay their rents, compensation, withheld, we
have seen, under the Act of 1870, might be afforded them, under rather
strict conditions; this was certainly an innovation of a startling kind,
but something was to be said for it, in the existing position of affairs.
The House of Commons, however, disliked a measure nicknamed 'payment by
reason of non-payment,' and limited its application in many ways; and the
House of Lords, unfortunately, I think, threw it out.

This Bill, closely circumscribed as it was, would not have extended,
perhaps, to many tenants; it was condemned by Parnell and his satellites
as a sham. Its rejection, however, gave an opportunity to the League; its
leaders proclaimed at meetings, never so frequent before, that Ireland
had nothing to expect from a foreign Parliament; the attack on
'landlordism' became more intense; treasonable and predatory harangues
increased in vehemence. The influence of the conspiracy spread beyond
Connaught, over nearly all Munster, and parts of Leinster; wherever it was
felt it was attended with agrarian crime; 'crime,' as Mr. Gladstone
exclaimed, 'always dogged its footsteps.' Offences of this kind
portentously multiplied; they had been eight hundred and sixty-three at
the close of 1879; they were two thousand five hundred and eighty-nine at
the close of 1880;[70] and these included a number of barbarous murders,
and of other atrocious deeds of outrage and blood, especially of the
mutilation of the cattle of those opposed to the League. A kind of servile
war springing from the land had set in; and during this whole period the
spokesmen of the League, whether in the highest or the lowest grades,
continued to denounce the landed gentry, though they knew that their
utterances were the direct incentive to far-spreading crime. Parnell,
however, infinitely the ablest of the conspirators, perceived that this
brutal disorder would incense Parliament, and, besides, could not have
decisive results; the cool, calculating schemer laid down a plan of
operations for the League, which he hoped would be less openly detestable,
and much more effective. Orders were issued that tenants should, in every
part of Ireland, repudiate the rents they had agreed to pay, and should
pay only such sums as had been assessed on land by a valuation made by the
State for rates, a standard long acknowledged to be much too low; every
landlord who should reject these terms was to incur the vengeance of the
League. By these means Parnell expected, and not without reason, that a
great combination for the forcible reduction of rent would be formed, and
that numbers of farmers would flock in to the League, but he knew that
his proposal was simply a defiance of the law, and that it would be
resisted by many of the landed gentry; he hit on an expedient through
which he believed he would attain his end. Should any landlord refuse to
accept the sum offered instead of the proper rent, and should proceed to
dispossess the defaulting tenant--and practically he could have no other
remedy--the evicted farm was to be left derelict; it was to be smitten, as
it were, by the interdict of the League; and any wretch who should dare to
take it was to be banned by the whole neighbourhood; he and his, and those
who dealt with him, 'were to be shunned as lepers,' and 'treated as
traitors to the cause.'[71] In this way, the crime of 'boycotting,' as it
has ever since been called--its origin may be traced to the great Tithe
War in Ireland--was made part of 'the unwritten law' of the League; and
Parnell professed, whether sincerely or not, that through this device the
League would baffle the law, and the landlords, as a class, as unhappily
it did, in too many instances. Having thus armed the conspiracy with
increased power, he cynically began to deprecate crimes of violence: the
device of 'boycotting' was a more excellent way; it would before long
'bring landlords to their knees,' and would ultimately 'plant the tenant
in his farm to be held at a nominal rent,' should he only be true to the
League. At the same time the astute plotter found other means to extend
his authority and that of the conspiracy he ruled. He appealed to the
elective Local Boards in each county, composed for the most part of tenant
farmers, to join the League, and to carry out his policy; and continuously
but steadily he brought the force of the League to bear upon the
administration of the law, by the intimidation of juries, magistrates, and
even judicial persons.

The teaching of Parnell was disseminated by the League and its agencies,
especially at gatherings of peasant mobs; it was largely followed wherever
the League prevailed. In hundreds of instances tenant farmers were
compelled or induced to tender sums, 'at Griffith's valuation,' as it was
called, in lieu of the rents they were bound to pay; and on the rejection
of the offer, refused to pay anything. A widespread combination against
rent was thus set on foot, sustained by a principle of greed which held it
together; the League was more completely organised than it had been
before; it made its way into ten or eleven counties, the only centres in
which it was formidably strong. In these circumstances the landed gentry
acted, as an order of men so assailed would act; not a few accepted the
terms imposed on them, and took their rents at the reduced scale, the
majority resisted the mandates of the League, and appealed to the law to
enforce their rights. The terrors of the League were at once directed
against those who had dared to defy it; in a certain number of instances
landlords and agents were brutally murdered, for popular passions had been
let loose for years; in many more 'boycotting' was carried out with such
fatal effect that scores of families were driven out of Ireland, banned,
persecuted, deprived even of the necessaries of life; in many others the
demesnes of gentlemen were ravaged by 'Land League hunts,' overrun and
half destroyed by savage mob gatherings. Evictions of course increased as
the law was being trampled under foot; it is hardly necessary to say that
Parnell's doctrine was here ruthlessly applied; evicted farms were left
deserted and waste over thousands of acres; the fears caused by
'boycotting' had become so intense, that no 'land-grabber,' as the name
was, would dare to take them; the success of the League was in this
respect remarkable. The vengeance of the conspiracy, too, was extended
universally to another class of persons. Tenants in numbers of instances
paid their rents, either from an honest motive, or through dread of
eviction; the payment was often made at night, and under a pledge of
secrecy; but wherever they were discovered the League marked 'the
traitor's doom;' they were sometimes 'boycotted' almost to death;
sometimes murdered, often visited by gangs of ruffians--significantly
known as Parnell's police; the victims were shot in the legs, or the hair
of their women was cut off, or their cattle were cruelly mutilated and
maimed. It deserves special notice that, as was to be expected, Parnell's
warning against open crime was but little heeded; 'boycotting,' as Mr.
Gladstone said, truly 'was but a passive thing;' it 'required
assassination as its sanction;' the peasantry had been stirred up, in
places, to frenzy; although Parnell made few violent speeches at the time,
his satellites still gave a free rein to their wicked licence. Agrarian
crime increased to an appalling extent; it had reached in 1881 a total of
four thousand four hundred and thirty-nine cases, nearly two thousand more
than those of the preceding year.[72]

In the spring and summer of 1881, the power of the League was at its
height; in its organisation and working it bore a strong resemblance to
the Jacobin societies of the Revolution in France. It was directed by a
council from a central office in Dublin; its orders were sent thence to
the bodies connected with it; these, scattered over many parts of the
country, enforced its decrees through 'boycotting' crime, and terror.
'Obnoxious' persons, landlords, agents, 'land-grabbers,' and tenants who
had paid their rents, were denounced and exposed to the League's
vengeance; officers of the law and of justice were especially banned; even
those thought to be 'luke-warm' in the cause were declared 'suspected.' In
some districts the regular government was practically superseded by the
government of the league, described by Mr. Gladstone as 'a scheme of
anarchic oppression;' in these a Reign of Terror was really supreme. It
will never be known to what extent the League made use of Whiteboyism and
its secret conclaves in order to carry out its purposes; the central body,
controlled by Parnell, probably did not, but the affiliated bodies
certainly did; it is impossible to account otherwise for the enormous
increase of agrarian crime; the branches of the League, it is generally
supposed, overshadowed, so to speak, the Whiteboy societies; these were
active agents in the atrocious deeds that were done. It is scarcely
necessary to refer to what the condition of social life was wherever the
influence of the League was great; despair settled on the hearts of
thousands, who felt themselves exposed to unseen perils, and existed, as
it were, in an atmosphere of crime; and it must be borne in mind that for
one member of the better class, fifty probably of the humbler, who had
transgressed the law of the League, were kept in a state of moral dread
and torture. By this time the Fenian League in the United States, formed
by Parnell, but ruled by the Clan na Gael, had completely joined hands
with the League at home; its emissaries were found in many parts of
Ireland; its organ, the _Irish World_, 'spread what it called the light,'
the teaching of treason, murder, and dynamite; and it supplied the parent
League with, probably, nine-tenths of its funds, for it is a significant
fact, deserving special notice, that the contributions of the peasantry to
the League were, from first to last, small. Large parts of Ireland were
thus in a deplorable state; but it is a complete mistake to suppose, as
has been asserted, that the authority of the League was general throughout
the whole island. Protestant Ulster, with a true instinct of what the
conspiracy was, a movement against British rule in Ireland, kept aloof
from the League, in angry contempt; and though its influence was more
widely diffused, it was confined, I have said, to comparatively few
counties if regarded as a dangerous and formidable power. It is also
absolutely untrue that the movement was the uprising of an injured
peasantry against oppressive landlords. There was little distress in 1880
and 1881, when the League was rapidly growing in strength, for the
harvests of those years were above the average; and the Commission lately
appointed by Mr. Gladstone had reported that over-renting in Ireland was
not common, though instances of over-renting were of course to be
found.[73]

The centre of disturbance formed by the Land League was, I have said,
comparatively small; and it was, for the most part, limited to backward
and poor districts; its wicked and sordid teaching did not command the
sympathies of the more intelligent and better parts of Ireland. Its
influence, however, spread, in different degrees of strength, over nearly
the whole of Catholic Ireland, and it was more or less supported by the
Catholic priesthood, in many instances yielding to the pressure of their
flocks. Within the bounds where it did not create a Reign of Terror, it
was joined by thousands who thought it a constitutional movement,
especially by peasants only seeking an improved tenure; and it is not
pretended that even a majority of those who took part in it had
treasonable or rebellious objects in view. But it was not the less a
conspiracy hatched abroad, and aiming at the subversion of British power
in Ireland; this was the policy its leaders avowed; and a conspiracy must
be judged by the acts and words of those who direct it. The state of
anarchy in Ireland had become such, in the spring of 1881, that the
Government was compelled to try to put it down; a prosecution against
Parnell and his chief lieutenants had failed; a Bill, resisted by
obstruction, more persistent than had been ever known before, passed
through Parliament with the object of repressing the Land League. The
measure, however, was not well designed; minor agents of the League,
'village ruffians,' 'Parnell's police,' and the like, were imprisoned in
large numbers, no real punishment; but the chiefs of the conspiracy were
not brought within the law; the funds of the League were removed to Paris;
the movement went on in its destructive course. 'Coercion,' nevertheless,
was beginning to produce its effects, as it has always done in Irish
disorders, when Mr. Gladstone made a sudden change in his policy, never
made before by a Minister at the head of the State. He had denounced the
conspiracy in passionate language; he had partly at least seen what its
objects were; 'it aimed at dismemberment through rapine;' but always a man
of phrases and not of action, he had shrunk in every passage of his career
from facing difficulties where popular feelings were involved; and while
Ireland was still in a terrible state, he resolved to make a great
concession to the League, and to effect a complete revolution in the Irish
land. It was a surrender akin to that of Majuba, made with little
information, and without mature reflection; whether its author believed,
as I have remarked, that the conspiracy was most dangerous on its agrarian
side, or was willing to propitiate Parnell, at the expense of the Irish
landed gentry, he inaugurated the legislation, ever since pursued, which
has resulted in destroying the property of the Irish landlord, without
gaining the sympathy of the occupier of the Irish soil, has reduced the
land system of Ireland to a ruinous chaos, and has, in essential respects,
been an absolute failure.

Mr. Gladstone's position was difficult when he introduced his new Irish
Land Bill; his speech in the House of Commons, lucid as regards details,
was apologetic, ambiguous, often beside the subject. He went out of his
way to praise Irish landlords, 'acquitted,' he declared, by the late
Commission; he deeply regretted a new experiment on the Irish land. He
retained his admiration for the Act of 1870, but insinuated that it had
been injured in the House of Lords; had this not been the case, it would
have settled the Irish land question. He passed over his solemn pledges,
on the faith of which millions had been lent on Irish estates, that the
legislation of eleven years before was final; here he took refuge in
appeals to 'Divine Justice,' in the 'light of which' a statesman must
walk, as if Divine Justice was an excuse for a gross breach of faith. He
then unfolded his plan of reform; he endeavoured, with an ingenuity all
his own, to distinguish it from the schemes he had emphatically condemned
in 1870; but in this respect mystification was at fault; the measure was a
clumsy imitation of the 'Three F's,' and where it differed, it differed
greatly for the worse. Anticipating objections certain to be made, the
orator dismissed 'political economy to Saturn' with a confident gesture;
for some untold reason the philosophy of Adam Smith could not possibly
apply to the order of things in Ireland. But by many degrees the most
important part of the speech, in view of events which have since happened,
was that in which Mr. Gladstone announced that should the measure really
injure the Irish landlord, the State was bound to provide an indemnity. He
denied, indeed, that the Bill could have any such effect; it would be a
boon, he gravely said, to the Irish landed gentry; but should the contrary
be the case, 'compensation' would be clearly their right. 'I do not
hesitate to say'--these were his very words spoken after the Bill had made
much progress--'that if it can be shown, on clear and definite experience,
at the present time, that there is a probability, or if after experience
shall prove that, in fact, ruin and heavy loss has been brought on any
class in Ireland by the direct effect of this legislation, that is a
question which we ought to look very directly in the face.' The same
meaning was even more clearly expressed: 'I should certainly be very slow
to deny that where confiscation could be proved, compensation ought to
follow,' and several of Mr. Gladstone's lieutenants spoke in the same
sense.[74]

The Bill, I have said, applied the principle of the 'Three F's' to the
relation of landlord and tenant in by far the greatest part of Ireland. As
in the case of the Land Act of 1870, it excluded certain classes of lands
from its scope, demesnes, residential holdings, town parks, and large
pastoral farms; it extended also only to tenants at will, that is, subject
to a notice to quit; it left tenants under leases outside its purview. It
was confined, too, to 'present tenants in occupation,' at or near the
existing time; it had no reference to 'future tenants,' that is, to
tenants holding by contracts made after the Bill should pass, or a few
months afterwards. Subject, however, to these exceptions, on the whole not
large, the measure placed tenancies in Ireland under the 'Three F's,' but
with conditions of tenure peculiar to itself, and hitherto unknown in
Ireland, or in any part of Europe. 'Fair Rent,' which, under the Ulster
Custom, was settled by a bargain between landlord and tenant, was to be
adjusted through the intervention of the State, legislation akin to the
mediæval statutes regulating the price of bread, and the wages of labour.
'Fixity of Tenure' was not to be a perpetuity in name; Mr. Gladstone
feared that the speeches would be thrown in his teeth, in which he had
declaimed against the idea; it was to be a lease for fifteen years, but
capable of being renewed for ever, as a rule, through a periodical and
costly lawsuit. 'Free Sale' was to be conceded under somewhat strict
conditions; and the landlord was to be afforded a right of pre-emption in
the case of such sales, in accordance with the analogy of the Ulster
Custom. An estate virtually perpetual, at a State-settled rent, was thus
to be carved out of the landlord's fee, and given to tenants actually in
possession of the land; it was created in absolute derogation from the
landlord's rights; it was a large if partial expropriation, in no doubtful
sense. As to the interest of landlords in what was left of their property,
they were to retain what are usually known as 'royalties'--timber,
minerals, mines, and privileges of sport; they were to have the ordinary
remedies for enforcing payment of rent; and the statutory leases were to
be subject to certain conditions, taken, for the most part, from the
Ulster Custom, the violation of which might lead to their forfeiture. A
tribunal, called the Land Commission, was to be set up to carry the law
into effect, that is, to 'fix fair rents,' and to make tenures 'fixed;' it
was to be assisted by dependent agencies, known as Sub-Commissions, which,
Mr. Gladstone intimated, were to be quite subordinate, and from which
appeals to the Land Commission were to run; but a sinister feature of an
untried revolutionary scheme--the decision of the Land Commission as
respects 'fair rent'--was to be final. Subject to an appeal to the Land
Commission, the Irish County Courts were empowered to administer the law;
but it was foreseen that they would not do much in this province. The new
modes of tenure might be applied to lands, by agreements between landlords
and tenants carefully guarded; and Mr. Gladstone believed that this would
be the ordinary course of dealing. The Bill, he thought, would not cause
litigation to any great extent; it would operate as a self-acting force to
lead to friendly contracts.[75]

So much for the scope of the Bill and the classes of tenants to which its
benefits were to extend. A most important change was made in the measure,
which contained, originally, nothing of the kind; this has been attended
with far-reaching results. As we have seen, tenants were to be compensated
for their improvements, under the Act of 1870; but the compensation was
to be paid only when they were leaving the land; Mr. Healy, one of the
ablest of Parnell's lieutenants, induced Parliament to accept a provision
exempting tenants' improvements from rent, when the adjustment of 'fair
rent' was to be made. However equitable in principle this might appear to
be, it was, in the peculiar state of Irish land tenure, unjust in the
extreme to landlords, as I shall endeavour to point out afterwards; and it
has been a source of litigation, as mischievous and demoralising as can
well be conceived. The Bill, like the Act of 1870, prohibited the
subdivision and subletting of farms--an inveterate evil practice of the
Irish peasant--under conditions possibly rather too strict; and it made
changes, in that statute, which require attention. It added weight, so to
speak, to the law, in the tenant's interest; it increased the amount of
compensation in respect of disturbance; it limited the power of
'contracting out,' to a smaller class of tenants than had been the case
before, in fact, to large capitalist farmers; and it provided that
tenants, who had accepted leases excluding them from the benefits of the
Act of 1870, through illegitimate conduct on the part of their landlords,
should be exonerated from such unfair contracts. It thus greatly amended
the original Land Act; but it left many of its defects untouched; it is
only right here to add that despite the lying clamour raised by the
subsidised Press of Parnell--lying has ever since been part of its
stock-in-trade--the instances were exceedingly few in which 'forced
leases,' as they were called, were set aside by the Courts. A remarkable
feature of the Bill has yet to be noticed: Mr. Gladstone, as was the case
eleven years before, had still the wish, so characteristic of British
statesmen, to assimilate Irish to English land tenure; for this reason, as
I said, he deprived 'future tenants' of the advantages of the Bill; these
were to hold their farms on the footing of pure contract. This was a
shortsighted and bad arrangement; it tempted directly ill-conditioned
landlords to dispossess tenants, whenever a chance offered, and to create
'future' tenants so as to discharge their estates from a burden; it
revealed marked ignorance of the affairs of Ireland. The Bill dealt, also,
with the land on the side of ownership; it gave additional facilities to
tenants to purchase their holdings; the State was empowered to advance
three-fourths of the moneys; but the tenants were to find the remaining
fourth; the transaction was to be still a purchase, and not in the nature
of a gift.[76]

The Bill became law, with very little change; the House of Lords, though
fully alive to its evils, did not amend it in any important respect; the
Peers had in mind, perhaps too much, what had followed the rejection of
the Bill of the year before. Mr. Gladstone and his followers maintained at
the time, and the statement has been ever since repeated, that the Land
Act of 1881, its popular title, was but a natural development of the
original Act of 1870; but this assertion is not only untrue, but
absolutely contrary to the truth. The Act of 1870, no doubt, considered as
a whole, annexed a large tenant right to the estate of the landlord, and
to that extent placed a burden on it; but it preserved for the landlord
the ownership of the land; it did not interfere with his rent, his first
proprietary right; above all, it was, in the main, in accord with fact,
and just. The Act of 1881 was almost the exact opposite; it deprived the
landlord of the ownership of his land, and nearly converted him into a
mere rent-charger; it created against him a perpetuity at a State-settled
rent; it really all but made the tenant the owner of the land; it was, in
short, inconsistent with fact, and essentially unjust. The Act of 1881,
too, established a principle, never heard of before in civilised
countries, that tribunals of the State were to fix the rate of rent; this
not only annihilated the most important of landed contracts, entirely to
the landlord's detriment, it inevitably tended to cut down rents
wholesale, as Judge Longfield had predicted would be the case. 'It is
probable,' wrote that great authority, 'that the value of land, as fixed
by any tenant-right measure, would be less than half the rent, which a
solvent tenant would be willing to pay;'[77] the prediction has been too
well verified. The Act of 1870, in a word, was a remedial law, fairly
adjusting the rights of landlord and tenant; the Act of 1881 was a
socialistic law, despoiling the landlord of his property wholesale, and
handing it over to a dependent who had no claim to it; it was sheer
confiscation hardly disguised; and it should be added that the exemption
of tenants' improvements from rent, as affairs stood in Ireland, was a
grave wrong to the landlord. The Act of 1881, to speak plainly,
transformed the Irish land system iniquitously for the benefit of a single
class; and it directly promoted litigation of the very worst kind, on an
enormous scale, embittering, and still further dividing, the classes
connected with the land. The evils of this legislation, a monument of
reckless unwisdom, were at once manifest to well-informed persons; the
Duke of Argyll and Lord Lansdowne resigned office rather than take part in
a measure of the kind; Lord Ashbourne, the present holder of the Great
Seal in Ireland, caustically remarked that Parliament would do much better
should it deprive Irish landlords of a fourth part of their rents on the
spot. The verdict of enlightened and impartial opinion in Ireland was very
much the same.

I shall comment on the administration of this law in another chapter;
enough to say here that what was bad was made, by many degrees, worse. The
conduct of Parnell, as regards the measure, was characteristic; he assumed
an attitude of moderation, and proposed to make 'a trial of the Act by
test cases;' he wrote to his Fenian friends in the Far West that the Act
was a mockery; he allowed the Land League to riot in lawlessness as
before. Mr. Gladstone, always incensed when his will was crossed, shut him
up in prison under the recent statute, with several prominent leaders of
the League; the reply was a manifesto against the payment of any rent,
unhappily obeyed in some districts, though every symptom of exceptional
distress had passed away. A brief but violent struggle was the result; the
peasantry refused to pay a shilling in several counties; and as the
principal agents of the League were within four walls, flights of
viragoes, like those of the French Revolution, were let loose to preach,
far and near, the evangel of 'no rent.' This conflict, however, was not
lasting; agrarian crime and disorder, indeed, still continued frequent;
but the Government was too strong for the 'Ladies' Land League;' by the
spring of 1882 its triumph appeared to be certain. But Mr. Gladstone,
'unstable as water' in view of what he deemed popular movements, would not
steadily persist in vindicating the law; the imprisonment of the chiefs of
the conspiracy and their subordinates, in large numbers, seems to have
made him feel sore if unworthy misgivings; he surrendered to the enemies
of the State, for the second time, and entered with Parnell into the
famous 'Kilmainham Treaty,' as shameful as the Glamorgan Treaty which cost
Charles I. his head. The 'Suspects,' as they were called, were set free in
scores; the Lord-Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary indignantly left their
posts; a new Government for Ireland was formed, charged to carry
'conciliation,' as the phrase was, out, that is, to make fresh concessions
to Parnell and his creatures. But the auspicious prospect was suddenly
darkened by the frightful assassinations of the Phoenix Park; these
cannot be justly laid to the charge of the League, indeed were against
Parnell's interest, for it was generally expected he would obtain high
office; but two agents of the League were implicated in the crime; and the
Press of the League began soon to plead for the murderers. The mind of
England was now thoroughly roused; Mr. Gladstone, bowing at once to
England's will, carried through Parliament the severest repressive measure
that has ever, perhaps, been applied to Ireland. The battle with the
League was soon brought to a close; the conspiracy indeed resisted for a
time, and crime, as always, was attendant on it; and the Clan na Gael gave
it all the assistance it could, in large subsidies which had never ceased,
in the dissemination in Ireland of its incendiary journals, and especially
by 'carrying the war into England,' and fulfilling its threats to attack
her chief towns by fire and dynamite, outrages, however, that really came
to nothing. But 'coercion,' as has been invariably the case in Ireland,
produced its effects; agrarian crimes, which, in 1882, if less than those
of the year before, were, nevertheless, three thousand four hundred and
thirty-two in number, had fallen to eight hundred and seventy in 1883.[78]

The Land League was paralysed, if not destroyed; its organisation was, in
name, suppressed by its framers. It reappeared, however, at once, in a new
form; the skill of Parnell in masking a conspiracy was never more fully
displayed. He felt that the Land League could not cope with the law; that
the crimes of violence and blood, which attended its course, gave the
Government opportunities to put it down; that its openly avowed purposes
were a danger to it. He set up, therefore, the 'National League' in its
stead; the professed object of the association was to promote 'Home Rule,'
while it upheld the rights of the occupiers of the Irish soil, and kept
the Irish land, so to speak, in view; it was thus apparently a mere centre
of a constitutional movement. Through these means, and under these
pretences, the astute and able plotter swept into his net thousands who
had held aloof from the Land League; many of the middle classes joined the
National League, notably hundreds of the clergy of the Catholic Church in
Ireland; the peasantry gave it increased support; its influence spread
beyond its predecessor's limits. The National League, however, was only
the Land League under another name;[79] its leaders and officials were the
same men; its 'branches' were those of the League it replaced; its real
objects were exactly the same, the overthrow of British rule in Ireland,
and the annihilation of the Irish landed gentry. But the methods it
employed to work out its ends were, to a great extent, different; open
agitation was kept down; public meetings, likely to be violent, were not
held; the perpetration of agrarian crime was not encouraged. The movement,
in a word, was comparatively secret and below the surface; but it was
essentially the successor of the Land League in its aims; we may say of
it, with a slight change, in the words of the poet--

          'Facies non una sororum,
  Nec diversa tamen.'

'Boycotting' was now made the chief weapon of the reformed conspiracy;
'National League Courts' were held regularly in many districts, at which
this barbarous interdict was systematically pronounced on persons
violating 'the unwritten law' of the old League; the persecution against
landlords, agents, 'land-grabbing' peasants who were 'disloyal and
traitors,' and traders suspected of dealing with 'rotten sheep,' was
carried on with a pertinacity and ingenuity hardly known before; the
number of derelict farms augmented; and the Government found it far from
easy to deal with these crimes. At the same time, 'the Nationalist Press,'
as it had been named, fully revealed the purpose of the conspirators;
trusting to impunity, under the law of libel, which depended upon the will
of juries, it was even more treasonable and seditious than before; and it
gave infamous license to defamation of personages in high places, worthy
of the abominations of the Père Duchesne.[80] Ireland, however, remained
in comparative peace while the recent measure of repression continued in
force; but this was injudiciously allowed to expire in 1885--a strange act
on the part of a Conservative Ministry; and in a short time agrarian
disorder broke out afresh. Crimes of this class had fallen, in 1884, to
seven hundred and sixty-two in number; they were one thousand and
fifty-six in 1886; and 'boycotting' had increased fourfold.[81]

The National League remained quiescent, while Mr. Gladstone was making
another surrender, and endeavouring to carry Home Rule through Parliament.
Upon the rejection of the measure of 1886, its activity was renewed; and
it found considerable support from the American Fenians, who, from first
to last, had been its chief paymasters. I have referred to the Convention
at Chicago graced by Parnell's envoys, and to the wild boast that the
English 'government of Ireland was to be made impossible;' the treasonable
aspect of the conspiracy became at once manifest. The League was assisted
by another season of distress, from 1886 to 1888; the number of its
adherents greatly increased; it began, like its predecessor, to defy the
authority of the State. I have already dealt with this movement on its
political side; I shall not repeat what I have already written: how the
League endeavoured to stir up disorder in Ireland; how it declared open
war against the Castle; how it tried to terrorise the ministers of the
law; how it made 'boycotting' more effective than it had ever been; how,
if responsible for many grave deeds of blood, it mainly relied on this
malign influence, which tortured hundreds of victims in many districts,
and was fitly compared to 'the pestilence that walks in darkness;' how Mr.
Gladstone and the Opposition, to the disgrace of both, gave the conspiracy
their support and excused its crimes; and how it was ere long put down by
Mr. Balfour strongly seconded by Rome. But I must say a word on the
agrarian side of the movement; for this illustrated the increased
ingenuity of the League. Some of its leaders issued a mandate against the
payment of rent, except upon reductions to an enormous extent; should the
landlords refuse, the tenants, on every estate, were to lodge their rents
into what was called the 'War chest,' a common fund to be held in trust;
the object of this being to prevent the secret payment of rent, which had
repeatedly, we have seen, taken place, and to put a stop to 'defection
from the cause.' The 'Plan of Campaign' as was its name, was thus ushered
on; it was a criminal plot of the very basest kind; but though it proved
successful in some instances, and it caused much agrarian disorder and
crime, it was, on the whole, a comparative failure. The peasantry,
close-fisted and shrewd, distrusted the so-called 'trustees of the War
chest;' they generally declined to put their money in it; the 'Plan' was
only carried out on few estates, though it compelled many landlords to
make reductions of rent; it is remarkable that Parnell did not approve of
the swindle. Long, however, before the defeat of the League, there had
been a thousand instances of agrarian crime: five thousand miserable
beings had been 'boycotted,' in many cases with frightful results; a
thousand had been placed under the protection of the police. As had
happened during the _régime_ of the Land League, these victims were nearly
all of the humble classes.

In 1887 another change was made in the Irish land system, essentially a
development of the Land Act of 1881. That measure, I have said, applied to
tenants at will only, that is, liable to be dispossessed by a notice to
quit; it did not apply to tenants under leasehold tenures. A sharp
distinction, therefore, was drawn between the two classes; a farmer, with
land on one side of a ditch, could secure the advantages of the 'Three
F's;' his neighbour, on the other side, could not; the distinction was so
palpably harsh, that many landlords in Ireland saw its injustice, and
enabled leasehold tenants to obtain the benefits of the law. An Act,
prepared by Lord Salisbury's Government, brought ordinary Irish
leaseholders within the Land Act of 1881; these were given a right to have
'fair rents' fixed, and 'fixity of tenure' and 'free sale' under certain
conditions. The Act of 1887, also, empowered the Courts to set aside
perpetual leases unfairly obtained; and it relaxed the restrictions of the
Act of 1881 with respect to subletting and subdivision, and the exclusion
of 'town parks.' It improved, moreover, the law of ejectment,
facilitating the vindication of the rights of the landlord; and--a strange
provision--it enabled a middleman, in certain events, to creep out of his
contract, and to free himself from the rent due to his superior landlord.
In consequence of the fall of prices that had lately occurred, and the
depression of agriculture that had been the result, the Act, too, reduced,
for a short period of time, 'fair rents' that had been already fixed; and
it contained other enactments wholly in the interest of the occupier of
the Irish soil. Regarded as a whole, something was to be said for the
measure, on the principles of the legislation of 1881; but the liberation
of the middleman from the payment of a debt has been attended with grave
wrong, and was an ominous precedent leading to others of the kind. The new
law was, of course, another inroad on the rights of the Irish landlord,
another innovation made against his interests; it has certainly
strengthened his claim to compensation for the loss of his property,
acknowledged by Mr. Gladstone to be unquestionable, should it be
reasonably made out. For the rest, the National League made a boast that
the Act had been wrung by its efforts from a foreign Parliament; the Act
certainly, like that of 1881, was a concession, derogating from the rights
of a powerless class, in the hope of weakening a conspiracy against the
State, by detaching from it large classes supported by it, and handing
over to these what had belonged to the Irish landed gentry.[82]

The Land Act of 1887, it has been alleged, was the principal cause that
disorder in Ireland was suppressed, and that comparative peace was
restored. The measure may have had effects in this direction; but these
assuredly were not great; the number of leaseholders was not large; the
reductions made in 'fair rents' were temporary and small. In truth, as
agrarian war, stirred up by the Land League, did not diminish when the Act
of 1881 was passed, but was brought to an end by what is called coercion,
the agrarian war, stirred up by the National League, was quelled, not by
the Act of 1887, but by resolute government, assisted by a repressive
measure infinitely less stringent than that of 1882, and, in some degree,
I have said, by Rome. It is worse than unwise to ignore plain facts; grave
outbreaks of disorder and crime in Ireland can only be put down by severe
means, and invariably have been put down by these; that 'force is no
remedy' is mere false sentiment. The violence, nay, the power, of the
National League decreased rapidly and greatly after about 1889; the
conspiracy seemed well-nigh to have dwindled away. This was partly because
Parnell, negotiating with Mr. Gladstone, in the hope of obtaining Home
Rule, discouraged agitation of every kind in Ireland, and in order to
hoodwink the English people, and to bring about the 'Union of Hearts,'
represented, with his followers, that Ireland was at perfect peace, and
only awaited 'self-government' to be completely happy. But infinitely the
most potent reason was that the fall of Parnell almost broke up the
League; his creatures split into angry factions, exasperated against each
other by furious discord; as the result the organisation of the League was
shattered; the peasantry and the Catholic priesthood fell away from it. At
the same time the Fenians in the United States, much its best supporters,
withdrew the subsidies they had hitherto lavished; the League became
penniless and almost powerless. By 1895 the conspiracy showed scarcely a
sign of life; agrarian crime had sunk to a very low ebb; there was no sign
of a movement against the payment of rent; order prevailed, it may be
said, throughout the community. The conspiracy, nevertheless, was not
dead; its leaders, if quiescent, had not disappeared; well-informed
observers knew that the end had not come. I have described in another
chapter, by what means, and through what conditions, it revived gradually
under Lord Salisbury's third Government, and acquired strength that may be
on the increase; it is not yet formidable, in any real sense, and its
leaders are not to be named with Parnell; it is not receiving funds as yet
from America; but the United Irish League is its true successor; and this
commands eighty votes in the House of Commons. Time only can show if a
period of agrarian strife and crime may not be about to open again for
Ireland; it is foolish optimism to assert that this is impossible, or to
contend that the agrarian legislation of the last twenty years, as regards
the Irish land, will necessarily, or even probably, produce this fortunate
result.

In 1891 another change was effected in Irish landed relations, as usual in
the interest of the tenant, and against his landlord. Middleman tenures
had well-nigh been extinguished; but some hundreds, probably, were still
to be found; and as a middleman, through the legislation of 1887, was
enabled to repudiate his contract, in certain cases, and to escape the
payment of rent to his superior landlord, he was now to obtain an
advantage in other instances. The large majority of this class of
intermediate owners, originally created in the eighteenth century, held,
at least, in present times, by perpetual leases, which had long ago, as a
rule, been converted into estates in fee farm, that is, estates in fee,
subject to a perpetual rent; Parliament passed an Act in 1891, enlarged
and amended five years afterwards, declaring that, in cases in which
tenants of this kind were 'in _bonâ fide_ occupation' of lands, under
rents which, in the judgment of the Land Commission, should be 'a full
agricultural rent,' they might either agree with their landlords to redeem
the rent at a price to be determined by that tribunal, or, should the
landlords refuse their consent, might have 'fair rents' fixed as in the
instance of common farming tenants.[83] The application of this law could
not extend far, for tenants of this description were very few; but it
asserted a strange, and, I think, a most vicious principle. The Act
practically forced a superior landlord, often a poor man, either to accept
a price assessed by a Court over which he had no control, in lieu of a
rent, in all probability reasonably well secured, or, as an alternative,
to submit to have a 'fair rent' fixed on the land, the rent to be
discharged from improvements made by the tenant. If, therefore, a tenant
of this kind had built, say, a valuable house, on his holding, which would
thus largely add to the security for the rent, this--at least, so it is
generally believed--was not to be taken into account in fixing 'the fair
rent;' and this principle, it may confidently be predicted, will be
extended further. Should a tenant, at a 'fair rent,' in this predicament,
be evicted for the failure to pay the rent, a law, in all human
probability, will be made, to obtain for him compensation, under the Act
of 1870, from the benefits of which he would be, as affairs stand,
excluded. The result might be that if, as would often happen, the
improvements he had made were of great value--his interest, in the land,
being a perpetual interest--the sum the landlord would be adjudged to pay,
might swallow up the whole value of the rent, and practically confiscate
his whole property.[84]

In 1896 another inroad was made on the rights of Irish landlords, and
another dole given to the tenant class in Ireland; the descent to Avernus
had proved easy; a Conservative Government had followed it since 1887.
This fresh legislation was mainly in the interest of the Presbyterian
farmers of Ulster, who had supported the Union almost to a man, and
possessed no little political weight; but who, always separated more or
less from their landlords, had shown dissatisfaction with the fixing of
'fair rents,' and had begun to cry out for what is called 'the compulsory
purchase' of the estates of their landlords, a policy on which I shall
comment afterwards. The Bill contained just and well-devised provisions;
it improved the procedure for fixing 'fair rents,' if not nearly as
thoroughly as it ought to have done; it protected the leases creating
'fixity,' under the new tenure--Mr. Gladstone, flying in the face of the
ablest lawyers, had passionately declared that these were sacrosanct--in
instances in which these might have been annulled; it proposed, what I had
always considered right, that old arrears of rent ought not to be allowed
to hang over the heads of tenants, and that rent could not be recovered on
eviction, if due for upward of two years.[85] But the Bill abounded in
principles dangerous and false; it was, taken as a whole, a mischievous
measure; it was another mine sprung upon the Irish landed gentry. Lands
hitherto excluded from the benefits of the 'Three F's,' under the Acts of
1881 and 1887--that is, demesnes, town parks, residential, and pastoral
holdings--were largely brought within the scope of the Bill, that is, they
were made subject to 'fair rents,' and, if held by tenants, were
practically taken away from the landlords; the provisions of the Bill, as
to demesnes, were especially harsh; many a mansion and demesne, which
might happen to be let, would really become the property of the tenant,
the owner being put off with a rent-charge. The worst proposals of this
measure, however, were those relating to improvements made by tenants,
exempted from rent, we have seen, by the Act of 1881. The Courts of
Justice in Ireland had rightly declared with one voice, that improvements
of this kind were not to be discharged from rent, unless they were the
improvements treated by the Act of 1870, that is, rents might be charged
on tenants' improvements, if these did not fall within the definition laid
down by that law, or if they were outside the limitations it had imposed,
in order to shut out obsolete and unjust claims, which might harass and do
grievous wrong to landlords. All this was completely changed by the new
measure; the definition of improvements was wholly altered, in order to
secure their being exempted from rent; the restrictions in point of time,
and many other matters, as regards claims for improvements, were largely
swept away, and the power of 'contracting out' of such claims was still
further abridged. The whole law, in a word, as to tenants' improvements,
as these were to create exemption from rent, was placed on altogether a
new basis; this was detrimental in every respect to the landlord, and gave
advantages to the tenant, in my judgment, utterly unjust.[86]

The Bill contained other provisions, all in the same direction, that is,
for the advantage of the Irish tenant, and to his landlord's loss,
especially one relaxing the law as to the subdivision and subletting of
farms, an inveterate and very pernicious practice. It introduced, also, a
new principle, on which I shall say some words afterwards, with respect to
another experiment on the Irish land, that is, what is called Land
Purchase, under conditions, not thought of before, until they were laid
down by a Conservative Government. The measure was hustled through the
House of Commons with such indecorous haste, that Sir Edward Carson, now a
law-officer of the Crown, walked out of that Assembly to express his
disgust; it narrowly escaped defeat in the House of Lords, loyal as the
Peers to Lord Salisbury are; indeed, though hardly debated, its vices were
soon made manifest. It is unnecessary to point out what the general
character of the Act is; it enlarged very considerably the sphere of the
'Three F's,' greatly increasing the wrong done to the Irish landlord, by
doing away with the restrictions, placed by Mr. Gladstone, in 1870, on
illegitimate claims in respect of improvements; its direct tendency was to
reduce rents wholesale, and to promote more litigation between landlord
and tenant; and if it encouraged tenants to make improvements on their
farms, its plain effect, I will not say its purpose, was to 'improve the
Irish landlords out of their estates,' the contemptuous phrase of a great
master of Equity. Its mischief, however, went a great deal further;
tenants making improvements are only exempted from rent, in respect of
these, by this Act; they are not within the protection of the Act of 1870,
if improvements of any kind are excluded by it; if a tenant, therefore,
makes an improvement on his farm, which is not 'suitable' to it in a real
sense, say, builds a mansion upon a petty holding, he will not be entitled
to compensation, should he quit it, even though dispossessed for
non-payment of his rent. But tenants, in these circumstances, like those I
have referred to before, would assuredly proclaim that they had here a
great and real grievance; and they would be relieved from it, doubtless,
by another law, giving them compensation, perhaps, to their landlord's
ruin. A dangerous principle is thus hidden within the Act; this will
probably be asserted against the owners of ground rents, not only in
Ireland, but in England and Scotland; and the law, taken as a whole, has
strengthened the claim of the Irish landed gentry to be indemnified, as
was solemnly promised, for what they have suffered from the legislation
begun in 1881.

While the Irish land system was thus being dealt with, on the side of
occupation, during many years, experiments were made on it, likewise on
the side of ownership. Resenting the legislation that had produced the
'Three F's,' Conservative politicians took it into their heads that Mr.
Gladstone had 'created' 'dual ownership,' as they gave it the name, in
Ireland; they insisted that this was simply an intolerable thing.
Unfortunately Mr. Gladstone had no more 'created dual ownership' than he
had created the mountains and lakes of Ireland; he had only developed the
joint ownership, which the Irish tenant possessed in his holding, in
thousands of instances, if he had developed it under the very worst
conditions. This theory, however, at which Burke would have laughed with
contempt, and which revealed the incapacity to understand Irish land
tenure, ingrained, it would appear, in the English mind, was eagerly taken
up and found much support; it was resolved to extend the process of
converting tenants in Ireland into owners of their farms, by a method
hitherto untried, and unknown in any part of Europe. Under the Church
Disestablishment Act, and the Land Acts of 1870 and 1881, the State had
advanced money to the occupier of the Irish soil, in order to enable him
to acquire his farm; but it had made it incumbent on him to contribute
part of the price; the transaction, therefore, was, in a real sense, a
purchase. This, the only security for honesty and thrift, was taken away
in 1885; Parliament passed an Act enabling the Irish tenant to become
owner of his holding without paying down a shilling; the State was to
advance the whole price; and the State was to be repaid by a terminable
annuity, charged on the land, and extinguished at the end of less than
half a century. This terminable annuity was to be much less than a true
rent, or even than a 'fair rent' adjusted by the State; the transaction,
therefore, was not a purchase, but a gift, akin to a bribe, another
largess bestowed on the tenant class in Ireland, and another injury, as I
shall prove, inflicted on the Irish landed gentry. This 'Land Purchase,'
as it was falsely called, was to be voluntary on the part of landlord and
tenant; it was to be conducted on the footing of free contract, as had
been the case under the preceding statutes; the State was to obtain a
guarantee from the landlord; and Parliament voted £5,000,000 to carry out
this policy.

Exactly as had happened in the case of the Encumbered Estates Act, this
scheme of 'Land Purchase' was pronounced successful; some scores of
landlords sold land, some hundreds of tenants bought it; the real nature
of the proceeding and its inevitable results were ignored; it was even
boasted that 'dual ownership' would be got rid of, nay, that the Irish
Land Question was being finally 'settled.' But when the first sum of
£5,000,000 had been expended, and Parliament was asked to vote a second
sum, it began to hesitate as to this dealing with the Irish land; the
British taxpayer demurred and growled; with a true instinct he disliked
the security; it was found very difficult to procure the funds required,
large as the majority was of Lord Salisbury's Government. His Ministry,
however, adhered to the new policy; and Parliament enacted a measure in
1891, which I have always thought unconstitutional in the highest degree,
not to speak of the evils it was certain to produce. By this Act a sum of
about £30,000,000 was made forthcoming to facilitate 'Land Purchase,' to
abolish 'dual ownership,' and to change Irish tenants into owners of land;
this sum was to be secured by the methods before referred to, that is, by
terminable annuities less than any equitable rent, and by guarantees on
the part of selling landlords; but, furthermore, a whole series of funds,
devoted to Ireland, for Irish purposes, and absolutely essential to her
most important needs, were appropriated to make good any default on the
part of 'purchasing' tenants, in the payment of annuities charged on their
farms; and even the Irish counties were rendered liable in the last
resort. Should, therefore, tenants in Ireland, who had acquired the
ownership of their farms, refuse to pay those annuities on any pretence,
say, through an appeal made by a Land League conspiracy--the manifesto
against all rent cannot be forgotten--this extraordinary spectacle would
then be seen: the State would have a right to seize upon the grants made
for National schools and lunatic asylums throughout Ireland; these
institutions would be shut up; children and madmen would be let loose
through the country; and the owner of an Irish estate would have to pay
for the dishonesty perhaps of his former tenants. The late Lord Randolph
Churchill severely condemned this scheme; I agree with him it was utterly
unjust, and but too characteristic of the contempt of the rights of
Ireland, unhappily often displayed by British statesmen.

Only a sum, it will be observed, of about £40,000,000, that is, two of
£5,000,000, and some £30,000,000 more, has thus been made available for
'Land Purchase;' this obviously could not transfer even a fourth part of
the Irish land, valued, we have seen, by Mr. Gladstone at £300,000,000--in
a remarkable speech in reply to Lord George Hamilton--and almost certainly
worth from £150,000,000 to £200,000,000. The process of doing away with
'dual ownership' and making tenants in Ireland owners of their farms,
having been pronounced by its authors slow, the Act of 1896, referred to
before, enabled the landlord's guarantee to be dispensed with, and
provided that, in the case of hopelessly embarrassed landlords, whose
estates were being offered for sale in the Courts, the tenants should
virtually have a right of pre-emption, thus asserting a principle, on
which I shall dwell afterwards, and known as the 'Compulsory Purchase' of
the Irish land. I shall point out, in another chapter, the present and the
inevitable future results of this policy of so-styled 'Land Purchase;'
suffice it to say here, that, in my judgment, it betrays utter ignorance
of the Irish land system, and of the customs and inclinations of the Irish
peasant; that it proceeds on an essentially immoral principle, the bribery
of a class to promote its welfare; that, from the very nature of the case,
it cannot abolish 'dual ownership;' that, human creatures being what they
are, it cannot, as is being already proved, establish a thriving body of
occupying owners on the Irish soil; that it must create sharp and unjust
distinctions in Irish land tenure, iniquitous to the landlord and to every
tenant, who may be excluded from its benefits; that it must directly tend,
as it is even now tending, to arouse a cry for a wholesale confiscation of
Irish estates, the most shameful and wrongful Ireland has yet witnessed;
and that so far from settling the Irish Land Question, it must necessarily
unsettle it from top to bottom. As respects the legislation I have briefly
described, on the side of the occupation of the Irish land--by many
degrees the most important--I shall also comment upon its results in a
subsequent chapter, after examining its administration by the tribunal it
has set up. But a word may be said, in this place, on its essential
character: from 1881 to the present time, it is absolutely without a
precedent in civilised lands; it has trampled on economic science and the
truths it teaches, as, indeed, its chief author made his boast; it has
created a mode of land tenure in Ireland not in accord with fact, which
has virtually deprived the Irish landlord of real ownership in his estate,
has turned him into a kind of annuitant, and has virtually changed the
Irish tenant into a kind of owner, but under conditions absolutely bad;
its inevitable tendency was to cut down rents wholesale, without regard to
the simplest justice; it established a system of mischievous litigation
between landlord and tenant, demoralising and increasing the division of
classes; it exhibited, on an enormous scale, characteristic contempt of
Irish rights of property; and finally, if Parliamentary pledges are to be
fulfilled, and gross wrong is not to be consecrated by law, it has given
the Irish landlord a great and legitimate claim to compensation from the
State. As we survey this unwise and destructive medley of law, we are
forcibly reminded of the words of Burke:--'I am unalterably persuaded that
the attempt to oppress, degrade, impoverish, confiscate, and extinguish
the original gentlemen, and landed property of a whole nation, cannot be
justified under any form it may assume.'[87]



CHAPTER V

THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE
IRISH LAND ACTS

    The administration of the Land Act of 1870 in the main
    good--Difficulty about claims for tenants' improvements--The
    administration of the Land Act of 1881, and of its supplements--The
    Land Commission and its Sub-Commissions--Allowances to be made for
    these tribunals--Principles which the Land Commission should have
    adopted in fixing 'fair rents'--The procedure and practice it ought to
    have established--It made mistakes as to both--The nature of the
    Sub-Commission Courts--This was objectionable in the highest
    degree--These Courts have, however unconsciously, done grave wrong to
    Irish landlords--Causes of this--Characteristics of their
    proceedings--They disregarded the principles they ought to have
    followed, and adopted faulty and erroneous methods--Different
    illustrations of these grave mistakes--The Land Commission and appeals
    as to 'fair rent'--Importance of this subject--Faulty procedure of the
    Land Commission in appeals--Valuers--The second Land Commission--Its
    procedure worse than that of the first--Theory of occupation
    right--This another wrong done to landlords--The Fry Commission and
    its report--Confiscation of the property of Irish landlords--The
    proofs of this--Apologies made for the Land Commission--The
    administration of the Land Purchase Acts.


I turn to the administration of the new Irish Land Code, of which I have
described the distinctive features. The County Courts of Ireland, I have
said, were entrusted with the task of carrying out the Land Act of 1870;
the principal duty of the judges was to determine rights, under the Ulster
and analogous Customs in the south, and to declare the sums to be paid to
tenants, when leaving their holdings, for compensation for improvements,
and in respect of disturbance. As evictions were by no means frequent, in
the period between 1870 and 1879, the litigation before these tribunals,
under these different heads, though by no means trivial, was not
excessive; the applications on the part of tenants were not very numerous;
there was ample time to consider the law, whether in the subordinate or
the appellate Courts; and though there was much difference of opinion as
to the amount of compensation to be given to suitors, the administration
of the Act was not seriously impugned,[88] and, on the whole, was
reasonable and just. The most remarkable circumstance in the inquiries
held before the Courts was, certainly, the extravagance of the claims put
forward, on account of tenants' improvements, circumscribed as these were
by the limitations of the law; everything in the nature of an agricultural
work was called an improvement, from repairing an old fence to cleaning an
old drain; hours and days were lost in endeavours to disentangle the
truth, and to arrive at sound and legal conclusions. I could fill scores
of pages with descriptions of demands of this kind, usually pressed with
reckless and hard swearing; they ought to have been a warning, as
unhappily they were not, not to break down the restrictions contained in
the Act of 1870, and not to extend legislation, in this direction, against
the rights of the landlord. I confine myself to a single example: I tried
a case, in 1895, in which a tenant's claims, under the Act of 1870, were
£1130; I cut these down to £164; after deducting £155 found due to the
landlord, I adjudged to the tenant a sum of less than £10; and there was
no appeal from the decision I pronounced.[89]

The Land Act of 1870 has been well-nigh superseded by the great measure
of 1881, and by the legislation which has been its supplement. The
administration of this part of the new Land Code, by many degrees the most
important, was given, as I have pointed out before, to a wholly new
tribunal, the Land Commission, and to Sub-Commissions dependent on it; a
concurrent jurisdiction was given to the Irish County Courts; but they
have had very little to do in this province. The principal work of the
Land Commission has been to fix 'fair rents,' and to make statutory
leases, 'fixity of tenure,' in a word, in a kind of disguise, and thus to
give effect to the policy adopted by Mr. Gladstone in 1881. The three
original members of the Land Commission, in all respects its directors,
were the late Mr. Justice O'Hagan, the late Mr. E. F. Litton, and the late
Mr. John E. Vernon; Lord Salisbury denounced these appointments in
emphatic language, as being against the just rights of Irish
landlords;[90] the charge was not without plausible grounds at least, for
Mr. Justice O'Hagan had been one of the 'Young Ireland' party, and Mr.
Litton had been a strong tenant-right advocate. These two gentlemen,
nevertheless, were most honourable men, and capable, if not very
distinguished, lawyers; Mr. Vernon was an excellent and experienced
country gentleman, if, in politics, of the Liberal faith; and as all three
have long ago passed away, it would be unjust to make charges of
illegitimate conduct, even if they may not have been wholly free from
unconscious bias. Great allowance ought to be made, in common justice, for
the Commissioners in the situation that had been made for them, and regard
being had to their most arduous duties. To fix 'fair rent,' even
approximately, was difficult in the extreme; as Judge Longfield predicted
many years before, and every well-informed Irishman knew, the adjustment
of rent, through the agency of the State, would inevitably cause a general
lowering of rents. Again, the Commissioners were, from the outset,
harassed by a rush of applications to fix 'fair rents;' these came in,
within a few weeks, in thousands; they were tempted, therefore, to set
about their work at once, without taking the careful precautions, or
entering into all the considerations, the nature of their duty required.
Two circumstances, also, no doubt, had effect on their minds; the Land
League was creating a Reign of Terror, and destroying the property of the
Irish landlords; the Commissioners probably hoped that they would weaken
the power of the League, by, so to speak, bidding against it, and cutting
rents down. Above all, the Land Commission, like the Encumbered Estates
Commission, was a tribunal set up to carry out a policy, that is, in word,
to abate rents; and all experience, Irish experience notably, proves that
such a body of men usually fulfils its mission.

Mr. Gladstone, we have seen, had expressed a belief that 'fair rents,' as
a rule, would be fixed by contract; that the Act of 1881 would produce
this result; and that this part of the work of the Land Commission,
accordingly, would not be very great. Unquestionably, too, with his
leading followers, he was convinced that rents in Ireland would not be
largely reduced;[91] it is important to bear this distinctly in mind,
regard being had to subsequent events. These anticipations were to prove
vain; but the Land Commissioners possibly may have shared his views, and
may have resolved to act upon them, before they first addressed themselves
to the task of 'fixing fair rents.' After experience, it is easy to be
wise; but we can now clearly discern what they ought to have done,
considering the heavy work they were soon to find imposed on them. Their
first duty should have been to establish some standard, which would make a
reasonable criterion of rent; the means to accomplish this end were not
wanting. Mr. Law, the Irish Attorney-General of Mr. Gladstone, one of the
most distinguished lawyers of his day, and afterwards a holder of the
Great Seal of Ireland, had made a definition of 'fair rent' in the House
of Commons; 'a fair rent was to be a competition rent minus the yearly
value of the tenant's interest in the holding; that was what was intended,
and anything else would be monstrously unjust.'[92] For some reason that
has not transpired, this definition did not find a place in the Act; but
the authority of its framer was great; it must have been known to the Land
Commissioners; had they adopted it, and based their decisions upon it,
things would have been very different from what they are at the present
time. But there were other tests to indicate a standard of rent, to be
regarded at least, if not conclusive. The valuation of the lands of
Ireland made for the assessment of rates, Griffith's valuation, as it was
commonly called, which Parnell had made a measure of 'fair rent,' would
certainly have been of real use, though it varied greatly in different
counties; and the Commission appointed by Mr. Gladstone, only a few months
before, had, I have said, reported, that Ireland, as a whole, was in no
sense an over-rented land. There was another consideration, as regards
Irish rents, which the Land Commissioners ought to have borne in mind. The
rents on the estates of the great landlords, and of the gentry of old
descent, were, as a rule, low; the rents of the purchasers under the
Encumbered Estates Acts were high, nay, excessive, in not a few instances.

Other circumstances, moreover, of great importance, ought to have been
taken into account, with respect to this subject. The rental of Ireland
was not as high as it had been before the Great Famine; where rents,
therefore, had not been increased, and had been regularly paid for a long
series of years, there was the strongest possible presumption that these
would be 'fair.' Again, the material progress of Ireland had been great
during the forty preceding years: the wages of labour had, indeed, risen;
but owing to the introduction of good farm machinery, the cost of
production, in agriculture, had diminished; the extension of the railway
system had opened new markets, and had brought even Connaught within a few
hours of Great Britain; steam navigation had multiplied and improved; the
modes of husbandry and the breeds of stock of all kinds had become
infinitely better than they had been; and prices of late had been very
high. These were all elements to be regarded in the determination of 'fair
rent;' they ought to have been examined with care; and inquiries on these
matters should have extended over a long space of time. Moreover, as the
Land Act of 1881 discharged improvements made by tenants from rent, as
these were defined and limited by the Act of 1870, the greatest pains
ought to have been taken that claims for exemption should be strictly
dealt with, and not permitted to run riot, especially as it was notorious
that demands of this kind, made under the law already in force, were
usually excessive, supported by untrue statements, and by no means easy to
resist and disprove. Another fact, also, of the gravest moment, ought to
have been thoroughly considered, as regards this question. As improvements
made by tenants were not to be charged with rent, it was but equitable
that the lands they might hold should be valued as if in their normal
state; that if these had been deteriorated, either through wilful
misconduct, or gross neglect, their occupiers were not to make profit of
their own wrong; that deterioration, in a word, was not to be allowed to
work rent down, and was to be taken into account, in adjudicating upon
'fair rent.' This was the more necessary because it was well known that
numbers of farms in Ireland had been more or less run out; and especially
because, as in the case of the ryot of Bengal, under the Permanent
Settlement of Lord Cornwallis, an Irish tenant would be strongly tempted
to injure his lands, if he believed that, when 'a fair rent' should be
fixed on them, he would be permitted to take advantage of his own default.
It should be added that, in the fixing of 'fair rents,' the large sums
which, in many instances, Irish landlords had laid out in improving their
estates, notably since the years that succeeded the Famine, ought, as a
matter of course, to have been kept in mind.

These were the general principles which should have guided the Land
Commission in approaching the question of fixing 'fair rent.' There was
nothing in the Act of 1881 to prevent the Land Commissioners, as a Court
of first instance, adjudicating directly in cases of this kind, or to
compel them to refer these to their Sub-Commissions; indeed the plain
intention of the law was in a contrary sense. Had the Land Commissioners
adopted this course--and this, I venture to say, was their obvious
duty--they would, no doubt, have considered the questions before them at
length, and with close attention; have made their inquiries go back many
years, and have laid down, in elaborate judgments, the maxims and rules to
be applied in the fixing of 'fair rent.' The evidence that would have
come before them would have been of two kinds: that which depended upon
the statements of valuers, on the side of landlords and tenants alike;
this, of course, would be of great importance; but it should have been
borne in mind that it would be biassed evidence; and that, in the existing
state of Ireland, and of Irish opinion, the statements of tenants' valuers
would require to be strictly watched. The other head of evidence was of a
much more trustworthy kind; it was indicated by the circumstances of the
cases being heard, and was necessarily suggested by the inquiries
themselves. This class of evidence would be desired from a consideration
of the rate of rent in the neighbourhood or even of adjoining lands, in a
word, of what may be called the market price of rent; from an examination
of what a reasonable rent would be, payable by a solvent tenant to a
fair-minded landlord; and even from a review of rent fixed by the
competition of bidders for land, these circumstances, in every given case,
being, of course, controlled by a due regard being had, in the words of
the law, for the 'tenant's interest.' There was another and very important
test; the sums paid in Ulster and elsewhere on the transfer of farms were
usually large, sometimes not less than a third or even a half of the value
of the fee simple; and as these sums were always subject to the existing
rents, the first charges on the lands being sold, this would afford a
strong presumption that such rents would be 'fair.' No doubt the Act of
1881 declared that such payments were not to be taken into account, _per
se_, and apart from other considerations in the actual fixing of rent, so
far as regards a given farm; but the law certainly allowed--and it has
always been so held--that payments of this kind might be kept in view in
forming, generally, an estimate of what a 'fair rent' should be.[93]

The Land Commissioners, but from a different point of view, might have
learned something from Parnell in this matter. They were, no doubt,
harassed by the prospect of the task before them; but had they taken a
certain number of 'test cases,' and investigated them as a Court of first
instance, they would have laid down principles to be followed in the
fixing of 'fair rent;' have explained these in well-considered judgments,
going over the whole field of inquiry; and, so far as in them lay, have
tried to do justice. Even if they had not adopted this course, one of
their members, as the Act of 1881 provided, might have taken part for some
time with their subordinates in the adjustment of rent; this would have
been in accord with Mr. Gladstone's assertions that the Land Commission
was to be the real arbiter of rent. Unfortunately the Commissioners acted
quite otherwise; their conduct, palliate as you may, was an abdication of
a plain duty, on the plea that they were overwhelmed by the work before
them. Not one of them ever sat in a Court of first instance to fix 'fair
rents;' they delegated this the most important of all their functions to
their Sub-Commissions, to which they thus committed the charge of
adjusting rent throughout the whole of Ireland. These Sub-Commissions
formed Courts, each composed of three members, one a legal Commissioner
and two laymen; the Sub-Commissioners were nominees of the Government,
whether appointed on the recommendation of the Land Commission or not is
not certain; the only qualifications for the legal Commissioners were that
they should be barristers or solicitors of six years' standing, and for
the lay Commissioners that they should have some knowledge of land. These
were strange tribunals to deal with property worth hundreds of millions;
but this was only a part of what must be called a scandal most
discreditable to those responsible for it. The Sub-Commissioners, one and
all, were much underpaid; their salaries were inadequate to secure fitting
men; and, one and all, they were at the sufferance of the men at the
Castle, liable to be dismissed at a moment's notice, and without the
independence which is the best guarantee of justice. Some of the
Sub-Commissioners, indeed, were only paid for the job, by the day; they
had, therefore, a direct personal interest to reduce rents, in order to
make work for themselves and to retain their places. Even in Ireland such
tribunals were never set on foot, since Cromwell assembled his Courts of
Claims to give their sanction to his huge forfeitures; that they were ever
thought of is one of the many proofs of the disregard shown to property in
land in Ireland. No wonder that it was significantly remarked: 'The whole
spirit of our judicial institutions suggests that officers with such
extensive powers should be selected with the greatest care and with
reference to their possession of high qualifications, and that they should
be placed in a position of independence, and should, so far as possible,
be lifted above the suspicions that surround them.'[94]

Sixty or seventy officials of this type--the number was afterwards largely
increased--were thus, in the significant words of one, 'let loose over
Ireland' to deal with estates; it is very remarkable that they have never
received instructions from the Land Commission how to perform their
duties. The procedure of the Courts of the Sub-Commissions was, under
existing conditions, as well devised as could be fairly expected. The
three Commissioners, who formed a Court, nearly always sate together, and
heard the evidence brought before them as to what were 'fair rents;' the
legal Commissioner decided questions of law; and, this evidence having
been taken, the two lay Commissioners inspected the farms, the subjects of
the previous inquiries, and having conferred with their legal colleague,
determined with him what should be their 'fair rents.' This was the
ordinary if not the universal practice; if some deviations have been made
from it, these cannot be deemed of very great importance. Grave complaints
have been made, in not a few instances, of the lay Commissioners, when
engaged in examining lands; it has been said that they often neglected and
'scamped' their work; but these charges have been hardly, if at all,
sustained; my own experience--and it is tolerably large--is that the
Commissioners performed their functions with diligence and care, and
sometimes gave proof of real knowledge of husbandry.[95] But it was
utterly impossible that tribunals of this kind, not composed of experts of
a high order, dependent upon the breath of the Castle, without regulations
to direct their conduct, and acting, without concert, in many districts,
could adjust rent in a satisfactory way, and in conformity with true
methods, especially as the work they had to do was excessive; indeed, they
sometimes fixed 'fair rents' by dozens in a day. It was equally impossible
that the Sub-Commissions--and to do their members justice they never made
the attempt--could take into account all the manifold and far-reaching
elements which enter into the question of 'fair rent,' and could set
forth, in exhaustive judgments, the principles applicable to a most
intricate problem. On the contrary, as a rule, and no doubt wisely, they
avoided topics which might have tasked the highest judicial powers; they
decided the cases before them summarily, and with little reflection,
certainly without the protracted examination required to establish settled
rules and doctrines. And the result has been that they disregarded, and
even set at nought, a whole series of considerations, of supreme
importance, with reference to the fixing of 'fair rent;' and, however
unconsciously and innocently, they have been the authors, in the first
instance at least, of the gravest injustice, and of wrong, done wholesale,
to the landed gentry of Ireland.

To make this plain, let us glance back at the principles which assuredly
ought to have been kept in view, in coming to sound conclusions on the
subject of 'fair rent.' It will be seen that the Sub-Commissioners either
gave little or no attention to these, or directly violated them in,
perhaps, tens of thousands of cases. They have never attempted to
establish some kind of standard, which would form a general measure of
'fair rent;' they have completely ignored the definition of Mr. Law,
precise and most valuable as it was; they have treated 'Griffith's
valuation' as though it did not exist; they have regarded the Report of
Mr. Gladstone's Commission, declaring that Ireland was not excessively
rented, as mere waste paper; they have apparently taken hardly any account
of the well-known distinction between the low rentals of the great and old
landlords, and the rack-rents too often exacted by purchasers under the
Encumbered Estates Acts. So, too, it would seem, they have refused to
consider the strong presumption that rents would be 'fair' if not raised
during a long series of years, and if reasonably well paid, within that
period; and they certainly have given no real weight, as an element in
adjusting rent, to the agricultural progress made by Ireland since the
Great Famine. Innumerable complaints have been made against their
decisions as to the exemption of tenants' improvements from rent; but my
belief is that they gave great attention to this subject; the wrong that
has been done was owing to the difficulty of the law, and of its
application to given cases; and the law, besides, was not, I think, just.
On the correlative and most important question of the deterioration of
farms through the default of tenants, they have hardly ever inquired into
this; they have repeatedly done the landlords wrong; they have made grave
and palpable mistakes; and in many instances they have made no allowances
for the expenditure of landlords upon their estates. Having thus refused
to follow the principles which ought to have been their guide, they have
widely deviated in the actual fixing of 'fair rents' from rules and
methods they should have observed and made effective. They have given too
much weight to the class of evidence that was least important and most
open to question; they have attached little and sometimes no value to the
class of evidence by far the most trustworthy, and that ought to possess
the greatest influence. This has especially been the case, as we shall
see, with respect to the sums paid on the transfer of farms, the strongest
possible indication that their rents must be 'fair,' on the ordinary
principles of human nature, and giving the purchasers credit for the
simplest common sense.

These are grave charges against quasi-judicial bodies; let us see if they
are not completely justified. The Sub-Commissioners, I have said, have
taken no heed of Mr. Law's definition of 'fair rent;' but they have acted
as though they set it at defiance; they have ignored the principle of
competition in fixing 'fair' rents. Unquestionably, as Mr. Law pointed
out, a deduction should be made from a competition rent, regard being had
to 'the tenant's interest,' that is, to his rights in respect of
improvements, and perhaps to his rights on account of his tenure, a lease
renewable every fifteen years, when a 'fair rent' is being fixed on his
farm; but why the very idea of competition, that is, of market value, was
to be excluded as an element in estimating 'fair rent,' is what men of
common sense have never understood. This, in fact, was a portentous
mistake, with consequences of a far-reaching kind; you might as well argue
that because two partners had an interest in a fee simple estate, or two
peasants had each a share in a cow, the price of the land or the cow was
not to depend on what would be given for it at an auction mart or a county
fair. Yet this was a position the Sub-Commissions have always taken; they
have always insisted that competition had nothing to do with 'fair rent.'
The evidence on this subject is conclusive; I can only take a few samples
from the statements of a cloud of witnesses, who really seem to make a
boast of their faith. Colonel Bayley, a Sub-Commissioner of large
experience, has laid it down that the 'difference between a competition
rent and the fair rent would be more than 20 per cent.; it would, I
think, be more than that; there would be between 30 and 75 per cent.
difference between the fair rent and the competition rent.'[96] Mr.
Roberts, another Sub-Commissioner, has deposed to much the same effect:
'Decidedly, I believe that if the land was put in the market it would
bring 25 per cent. more than the rent I put on.'[97] So, too, Mr. Bailey,
a legal Sub-Commissioner, very much respected, has alleged: 'It would be
most misleading to take the evidence of letting value in the
neighbourhood, thus bringing in competition value, which we rigorously
exclude in fair-rent cases.'[98] Mr. Bomford, a well-known
Sub-Commissioner, has said, in much the same sense: 'We do not take the
competition rent, and cannot take it into consideration, when fixing what
the fair rent should be. Then you utterly exclude, when you come to the
fixing of the fair rent, the element of competition?--Yes, except in one
matter, when we have town parks.'[99]

Let us now see what distinctions, in fixing 'fair rents,' the
Sub-Commissioners have drawn between landlords whose rentals were low and
landlords whose rentals were really high; and how they have dealt with
rents, paid for a long space of time, without having been raised; this is
a fair index of the equity of their proceedings. It should be remarked, at
the outset, that it soon appeared that rents had only been increased in
comparatively few instances, going back over a series of years; yet, as a
rule, nearly all rents were indiscriminately reduced. No attempt has been
made, by any official of the Land Commission, to answer this damaging
charge made, in 1897, at a judicial inquiry held upon the subject: 'The
result of that calculation, the accuracy of which cannot be challenged,
shows that, as the result of all the cases that were heard, in only 8 per
cent. of them was any increase of rent for many years prior to 1881
proved. But whether the Sub-Commissioners are dealing with an estate on
which for centuries the rents had remained unchanged, and on which the
tenants had been fairly treated, or whether they were dealing with estates
that had come into the hands of speculators by purchase in the Landed
Estates Court, in all cases the average result was the same. They deducted
something between 15 and 20 per cent. from the existing rent, no matter
how long it had existed, and no matter upon what estate it was being
paid.'[100] This significant evidence, too, points to the same conclusion:
'There is nothing to justify the reductions that have been made in the
rents of good landlords, who did not raise their rents in the good years.
In fact, the landlords who did raise their rents got off a great deal
better, at the hands of the Sub-Commissioners, than the good landlords who
did not raise them.'[101] And Mr. Lecky, a calm-minded observer, if there
ever was one, has added these striking and pregnant remarks: 'The
landlords who have suffered least have probably been those who simplified
their properties by the wholesale evictions, the harsh clearances, that
too often followed the Famine. Next in the scale come those who exacted
extreme rack-rents from their tenants. These rents had been received for
many years, and though they were ultimately reduced more than rents which
had been always low, they still, in innumerable instances, remained higher
than the others. The large class who regarded land simply as a source of
revenue, and, without doing anything harsh, or extortionate, or unjust,
took no part in its management, have suffered very moderately. It is the
improving landlord, who took a real interest in his estate, who sank large
sums in draining and other purposes of improvement, who exercised a
constant and beneficent influence over his tenants, who has suffered most
from the legislation that reduced him to a mere powerless rent-charger,
and, in most cases, rendered the sums he had expended an absolute
loss.'[102]

The Sub-Commissions dealt with the subject of the exemption of tenants'
improvements from rent, on the whole, as fairly, I think, as could be
expected; and on the different questions of law that arose, appeals ran
from them to the Land Commission, which usually investigated these cases
at length. But this part of the law, really an excrescence on the Act of
1881, was unfair to the landlords, in the circumstances in which they were
placed; they were confronted by innumerable and often obsolete and
worthless claims, which they had only seldom the means of refuting; and if
the demoralisation and false swearing under the Act of 1870 was bad, they
were infinitely worse under the Act of 1881. A witty Irishman, indeed,
once said that he could wish no severer punishment for Mr. Gladstone than
to see him in a Sub-Commission Court listening to those wrongful
statements; the mischief has, of course, been aggravated since the Act of
1896 has made the basis for the exemption larger and more ill-defined. The
Sub-Commissions, I have said, were gravely in error, almost, as a rule,
with respect to the deterioration of land, as an element to be considered
in fixing rent; in this respect gross injustice has been done to
landlords. There is scarcely any proof that, even in a single instance,
the Sub-Commissioners valued land 'for fair rent,' as in its normal state;
and yet, assuredly, this was what ought to have been done, if a premium
was not to be put on misconduct, and because farms had been injured and
exhausted in hundreds, throughout Ireland. The deterioration was usually
of two kinds--wilful waste committed in order to work down rent, and
passive waste caused by negligence and bad farming. Out of many
instances, under the first head, I shall refer to one; the
Sub-Commissioners usually gave little or no attention to wrongs of this
kind; in this instance they enabled the tenant to make money by his own
misdeeds; they reduced the rent nearly 30 per cent.: 'The dykes were full
of stuff and choked, and the sluice-gate, which we had repaired at our own
expense, was all choked up, and the water had been left on the land as
long as it could stay on it. I complained and remonstrated with the
tenant. I sent for Madden, and in Mr. Lyle's presence I stated this to
him. His answer to me was that he was not such a damned fool as to have
his land looking well when the Commissioners came to look at it.

'SIR E. FRY: Did that case come before the Sub-commissioner Court?--It
did.

'Did you give evidence of what the tenant said?--Yes, sir....

'MR. CAMPBELL: I will tell you, sir, what they did.

'How much did they reduce the first judicial rent?--They reduced the first
judicial rent; they cut it down from £70 10_s._ to £51.'[103]

As for passive waste, that is, the bad cultivation of farms, the proof is
conclusive that it has been seldom, if ever, considered by the
Sub-Commissions in fixing 'fair rents.' If we bear in mind that many
thousands of acres in Ireland have been well-nigh destroyed by the burning
done by tenants, and that hundreds of thousands have been run out by
slovenly farming, the injury thus done to landlords has been enormous,
especially as tenants' improvements have been exempted from rent against
them; the 'candle,' it has been justly said, 'has been melted down at
both ends.' I cite two instances, out of hundreds, of the injustice thus
done; it has been proved over and over again that, in the case of two
adjoining farms, in all respects of the same natural quality, the rent on
that which was deteriorated was fixed at a much lower rate than the rent
on that which was in good heart; in other words, the landlord was
despoiled of the difference, and the tenant had the benefit of his bad
husbandry. I take, almost at random, a case in Ulster: 'The Commissioners
always value the land as they see it. I have two cases on my property in
one townland. One tenant was an industrious, hard-working man, who had his
farm in very good order. The second tenant, his wife had died, he was in
poverty, with a lot of young children, and he himself was not quite "all
there." These two holdings came at the same time before the
Sub-Commissioners, and the rents were cut down in each case. When the
thing was over, I said to Quinn, who was one of the tenants, "Are you
satisfied with your reduction?" "How can I be satisfied," he said, "when
my rent is at the same rate as Hurson's rent?" I looked at the return and
saw he was quite right.... The deteriorated farm was cut down considerably
more than the cultivated farm.' Another remarkable case occurred in the
west: 'I had a case, I think decided this year; a farm that was divided
between two sons fifteen or twenty years ago; the father divided the land
before I came into the management of the property.

'Did they get an equal portion? was it divided into halves?--Into halves,
and paid an equal rent.

'Before the Act of 1881?--Before the Act of 1881.

'And was the land of uniform quality?--Yes.

'Had one of these men, before he went into Court, greatly deteriorated the
land?--Yes.

'Had the other attended to it?--He had attended to it; he looked after the
land very well indeed.

'What reduction did the man who had deteriorated his half get?--The man
who had deteriorated his half got 17-1/2 per cent, reduction.

'What did the other get?--The other got 7-1/2 per cent.

'The industrious tenant got 7-1/2?--He got 7-1/2.'[104]

This was obviously gross and crying injustice; but two apologies have been
made for acts of this kind. It is said that were a deteriorated farm
rented as if it were in a normal state, the tenant could not afford to pay
the 'fair rent,' in other words, the landlord is to be despoiled for the
tenant's neglect. It is said again that the Sub-Commissioners are bound to
value the land as they find it, and cannot estimate it at its intrinsic
worth, that is, they are under no obligation to ascertain the truth, and
do their duty. Yet this sophistry has been gravely put forward as a
justification for palpable wrong, through which the property of landlords
has been filched away wholesale: 'The land to this day has suffered a very
serious deterioration in value; but we did not deal with that as against
the present tenant ...'[105] 'Have you frequently asked the
Sub-Commissioners why they do not attach sufficient importance to
deterioration?--No, but I heard them saying one reason was that if they
put the rent of the farm as if it had been fairly treated, the tenant
would not be able to pay that rent now in the deteriorated state.'[106]
The general result of these proceedings as regards exhausted farms has
been thus described: 'My view with reference to deterioration is this. Bad
tenants, who had ill-treated and worn out their land, undoubtedly, in my
opinion, have obtained larger reductions than they would have got had they
farmed well. Probably the reason is that were the Land Commissioners to
put a rent on the land according to its natural capacity, before a
deterioration, it would be an impossible rent for a broken-down bad
tenant to pay. This stereotypes the rent in such cases at a figure
unfairly low to the landlord; tends to lower the standard of fair rent
generally; is a premium on bad farming; and places tenants under a serious
temptation to ill-treat their land, so as to secure a larger reduction
from the Land Court than otherwise could be obtainable.'[107]

The Sub-Commissions appear to have disregarded the just rights of
landlords in another important respect. Unquestionably, in the great mass
of instances, as is inevitable when the land is held in small farms, the
Irish tenant had made the improvements on his holding; but the landed
gentry, as I have pointed out, had done a good deal since the Great
Famine. There is nevertheless cogent evidence that, in 'fixing fair
rents,' the Sub-Commissions took hardly any account of the expenditure of
landlords under this head. In the case of the estate of the late Mr.
Talbot Crosbie, one of the best breeders of prize stock in the Three
Kingdoms, and a country gentleman of parts and intelligence, these
significant facts were conclusively proved: 'Table E gives the cases of
eight holdings upon which there was an expenditure by the landlord of
£1936?--Yes.

'The old rent was £688?--Yes.

'That was reduced by the Sub-Commissioners to £493?--Yes. A reduction of
about 30 per cent.

'Notwithstanding the outlay by the landlord in the interval of nearly
£2000?--Yes, that is it.

'Table F is a list of eleven farms, on which there was practically no
expenditure by the landlord?--Quite so, no recent expenditure. That is,
between 1863 and 1887?--There was a good deal done in the famine time, but
I did not take account of that.

'You had no evidence in these eleven cases of expenditure for many years
prior to the fixing of the rent?--No. In these cases the old rents tot up
to £361?--Yes. And the reductions only brought them to £280?--A reduction
of 18 per cent.

'In other words, on the unimproved farms the reductions only average 18,
while on the improved farms they went as high as 30 per cent.?--Quite so.

'SIR E. FRY: Were these two sets of farms different classes of
farms?--They were practically of the same class.'[108] In the same way, in
the case of the estate of Lord Leconfield, a great and excellent landlord
in the County Clare, the Sub-Commission made no real allowance for a sum
of £20,500 expended on twenty-seven farms. 'Am I right in saying that from
1852 to 1881 there was spent by Lord Leconfield £20,500 in these
twenty-seven cases?--The return speaks for itself. That is the result of
it.' 'No. 4: As an example of the reductions of the Sub-Commissioners were
the rents put back to what they had been in 1852?--Very nearly. There is a
difference, I think, of about 1/2 per cent.?--About 1/2 per cent. The rent
in 1852 was £2524, and the judicial rents on these farms was £2632.'[109]

I pass on to the methods pursued by the Sub-Commissioners in actually
fixing 'fair rents.' As I have said, they usually heard the cases at
length in Court; they usually devoted attention to them. I do not think
they set much store on the reports of valuers, on the part either of
landlords or tenants; they formed their decisions, as a general rule, on
the inspections made by the lay Commissioners of the lands they visited.
This was a much better method, as I shall point out afterwards, than that
adopted by their superiors; but obviously inspections of this kind made by
officials without local knowledge of the farms, which they examined and
valued, could not be a sufficient, or a satisfactory, way to fix 'fair
rents.' The great error, however, made, in this matter, by the
Sub-Commissions--and in this respect they had the countenance of the
higher tribunal--was that they had little or no regard for the evidence
which in adjusting rent was assuredly of the greatest importance. They
rejected, we have seen, the principle of competition in adjudicating on
rent; in fixing the 'fair rents' of holdings before them, they refused to
consider the rents of the neighbourhood and of adjoining lands, that is,
to consider the price of the market. Yet this was but a trifling compared
to their capital mistake, one that, indeed, can hardly be explained: in
investigating the subject of 'fair rent,' they would not take into account
sums paid on the transfer of farms, that is, their tenant right, in other
words, as an indication of what ought to be their 'fair rents.' If we bear
in mind, as I have said before, that these sums were given subject to the
existing rents, which always formed the first charge on the lands, it is
most difficult to understand, as we have seen, how this circumstance did
not create a very strong presumption that the rents in question must be
'fair' from the very nature of the case, assuming the Irish tenant to be a
rational being. The sums paid for this tenant right were sometimes
enormous, not uncommonly equal to one-third or one-half of the value of
the fee; I illustrate my meaning from the evidence, taken with reference
to the estate of Lord Downshire, one of the largest and best managed in
Ulster: 'What would you say the tenants' interest would be worth on the
Downshire estate?--Well, judging from the average prices obtained by
tenants on transfers, my opinion is that the tenants' interest would be
worth £1,000,000.

'On the Downshire estate alone?--Yes.

'Now, could that value in the tenants, or that interest in the tenants,
exist, unless the rents at which they were holding were low rents?--No,
the prices of tenant right are incompatible with high rents. Does it in
your opinion point to their being lower than the commercial rents?--Yes,
they are lower.'[110] And will it be believed that on this very estate, in
the case of thirteen farms, held at the rents fixed by the landlords, the
tenant right realised £7296, and yet the Sub-Commission reduced the rents
more than 20 per cent.? In other words, they declared that the old rents
were not fair, though these lands, when transferred, fetched £7296 paid by
their purchasers, subject to the rents in question![111]

The Downshire was only one of many scores of estates in which the tenant
right was exceedingly high, that is, the sums paid, at existing rents, on
the transfer of farms, were very great, yet in all these instances this
striking fact was not taken into account. It cannot cause surprise that,
at a judicial inquiry held afterwards to review the subject, tenants'
advocates endeavoured to exclude the evidence which, in the judgment of
plain men of sense, affords almost a decisive indication as to whether
given rents are 'fair.' It has been argued, however, that the price of
tenant right, that is, the sums paid by incoming to outgoing tenants, on
the sale of farms, at the current rents, ought to form no element in the
fixing of 'fair rent;' it is only just to set forth the reasons. Mr.
Bailey, the able legal Sub-Commissioner, referred to before, has explained
them in this passage: 'Do you attend to tenant right in considering the
fair rent?--No, we do not. The view we take of it is this. The tenant
right paid for land is paid for something of an altogether different
character from the rent of the land.... When a tenant sells his interest
in his holding, he sells two things, first, the improvements on the
holding, and secondly, his goodwill or share of the gross product of the
holding.... When you put these two items together, viz. improvements and
goodwill, it seems to me that the prices paid for tenant right are not at
all remarkable. Then your view is that the price paid for tenant right
throws no light on what the fair rent ought to be?--No, no light at all.'
Mr. Bailey has added these significant words: 'The tenant does not buy at
the rent which the tenement at present stands at, but he buys with a
possible increase or reduction of the rent?--Quite so. And in latter years
with the fall of prices he was buying with the expectation of a very
considerable reduction?--Undoubtedly.'[112]

The first of these arguments appears to me to be wholly irrelevant to the
real question. Undoubtedly the tenant right of a farm represents the
tenant's improvements and his interest in the land, and is completely
distinct from the rent; and this is acquired on a sale by an incoming
tenant. But the purchaser buys the tenant right, subject to the first
charge, the rent; if the rent were excessive, or even high, either he
would not buy at all, or he would pay a low price; when, therefore, we
find the tenant right commanding very large sums, the conclusion is
inevitable, that, taking human nature as it is, the rent must be in the
nature of a 'fair rent.' The Sub-Commissions rejected a plain inference
they ought to have drawn; that they refused to give weight to an
all-important fact cannot be justified in any sense; and the result has
been that in hundreds of cases they have done grave wrong to landlords. As
for the second argument, it is very probable that in many instances
tenants purchased farms in the anticipation of a reduction of rent; they
speculated--a significant fact--that the Sub-Commissions would 'bear' the
market; but even, on that supposition, this can hardly explain the huge
sums paid for tenant right while the existing rents were current. For the
rest, I refer to part of my own evidence given on this subject at the same
inquiry; readers of ordinary intelligence may judge for themselves: 'The
first question I ask the tenant is, "How much will you take for the land,
£100, £200, £300; ten, fifteen, twenty, or forty years' rent?" But I never
can get an answer. They say, "Oh, your honour, I am here to look after a
'fair rent,' and I am not going to tell your honour what I am going to ask
for the land." However, I have a very shrewd notion.... You take into
consideration in fixing the fair rent the price paid by the tenants?--Yes,
the price which an incoming tenant would give, because I am not one of
those who think that the Irish tenant is a fool; and when I find an
incoming tenant giving ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty years' purchase
for a farm, I have a very shrewd suspicion that the rent is right.'[113]

It was under these conditions, and by proceedings of this kind, that the
Sub-Commissions, bodies of ill-paid men, dependent upon the will of the
Government, and constituted to give effect to a policy, were sent
throughout Ireland to 'fix fair rents.' They had no assistance, we have
seen, from the Land Commission; they often entertained very different
views; but their uniform course was in the same direction; they
indiscriminately abated rents, as they would abate a nuisance. In fact,
they might have joined in the chorus of the doctors of Molière: 'Et
saignare, et purgare, et clystériasaire;' they applied the same remedies
to all their victims, and brought them nearly all into the same weak and
low condition. But there was a right of appeal from the Sub-Commissions to
the Land Commission; and this tribunal, certainly designed to have
absolute power in the determination of rent, ought surely to have been
expected to redress injustice. I approach a part of the subject on which
the plain truth must be told, without making personal imputations of any
kind. Appeals from the Sub-Commissions were numbered by many thousands;
and, as I have said--an iniquitous provision of the Act of 1881--the
decisions of the Land Commission on the subject of 'fair rent' was made
final, at least as regards the rate of rent; there was to be no further
appeal to a higher tribunal. I quote these significant remarks on this
restriction: 'In an ordinary case, I need not tell you, sir, who are
conversant with the procedure of Courts of Justice, a litigant, in a civil
case, no matter how much the issue may be involved, has the right, if he
thinks fit, of taking the case from one Court to another, until he reaches
the highest tribunal of the land, the House of Lords. And as you know,
there is a well-known case, which the House of Lords had to decide, in
which the amount involved was one penny, an alleged overcharge on a
railway ticket; but in these land cases, where there may be, and often is,
a sum of £200, £300, or £400 a year involved, because in some of the large
farms in this country there have been reductions of £300 and even of £400
in the rent, under the Act of Parliament they cannot go beyond the Head
Land Commission, upon any question of value. That is the Act of Parliament
whether it be right or wrong. There it is, and I am not here to discuss
the policy of the Act. But when a rehearing is given by the Act of
Parliament to the Land Commission, and when the Land Commission are
constituted the final judges in such large and important matters, it is
obviously of great importance that the final rehearing should be full, and
in every respect what the Act of Parliament says it is to be, namely, a
rehearing.'[114]

The Land Commission sometimes heard these appeals at length, though
usually their proceedings were summary in the extreme. The Commissioners
occasionally pronounced well-considered judgments, on the difficult
questions of law that came before them, especially as regards the
exemption of tenants' improvements from rent; in several instances the
results were curious. The lay Commissioner now and then dissented from his
legal colleagues; his plain common sense rejected theories in tenants'
interests; his decisions were more than once confirmed, on these points of
law, by the highest Court of Appeal in Ireland, a circumstance of no
slight significance. Nineteen-twentieths, however, of these appeals were
conversant only with the amount of 'fair rent,' as to which the
conclusions of the Land Commission could not be challenged. The Land
Commissioners undoubtedly heard these cases, and sometimes had much
evidence brought before them; in tolerably many instances they varied the
'fair rents' fixed by the Sub-Commissions, if these variations were seldom
important. But the Land Commission practically adopted, with scarcely a
single exception, the errors of principle and the faulty methods which had
marked the practice and the proceedings of the Sub-Commissions.[115] They
excluded the element of competition from the subject of 'fair rent;' they
never attempted to define 'fair rent,' or to establish a standard by which
to gauge it; they disregarded, to a considerable extent at least, the
distinction between the rentals of the old and the new landlords; they
paid little or no attention to the fact that rents had been paid for many
years without an increase; they hardly ever took deterioration into
account, or the expenditure made on their estates by landlords. And in the
actual fixing of 'fair rents' they virtually followed in the wake of their
inferiors; they rejected, as a rule, the evidence that was most relevant;
they refused to consider the rents of adjoining or neighbouring lands, in
a word, the price of the market, in determining rent; above all, they gave
scarcely any heed to the enormous sums paid for the tenant right of lands,
as an indication that their rents were 'fair.' On all these particulars,
in a word, supremely important as they were, they almost said ditto to the
Sub-Commissions; in these respects the appeals were well-nigh useless. It
should be added that the animus of the head of the Land Commission was
significantly exhibited on one striking occasion. When opening the
proceedings of the Land Commission, Mr. Justice O'Hagan pointedly laid it
down, that the object of the Act of 1881 was 'to make tenants live and
thrive;' in other words, as Lord Salisbury indignantly remarked, to compel
rent to gravitate to the level of the most indolent and worthless Irish
peasant, and practically to discourage industry.

These considerations indicate, to some extent at least, the nature and
especially the value of these appeals. But this was not all, or nearly
all; there was a grave miscarriage of the simplest justice in this
important province. Appeals, I have said, came in, in thousands; the work
thrown on the Land Commissioners was immense; as one of their present
successors remarked, 'If proper consideration' (had been) 'given to all
the appeals you would' (have) 'wanted ten Appeal Courts to do it;'[116] as
was said again substantially, 'Appeals would have crushed the Land
Commissioners, had they not been crushed by them.'[117] In this position
of affairs, the Land Commissioners, no doubt with no bad or sinister
purpose, adopted what must be called a device, to enable them quickly to
dispose of appeals, nay, almost in a summary way. They were empowered,
under the Act of 1881, to appoint 'independent valuers' to examine lands,
and to report on the subject of their 'fair rents;' it was never
contemplated that statements of this kind were to dispense with the duty
of hearing appeals in detail, and pronouncing solemn judgments upon them;
but, practically, the Land Commissioners, in the great mass of instances,
when adjudicating on appeals, as regards 'fair rents,' almost wholly
relied on the reports of these valuers, who, be it observed, were in no
sense witnesses, and were not subject to examination on the part of the
suitors before the Court. In a word, the Land Commissioners did not
exclude other kinds of evidence; but unquestionably the dicta of the
valuers, as a rule, determined the decisions they made on 'fair rent.'
This expedient greatly accelerated appeals; but it reduced the right of
appeal well-nigh to a sham; and this procedure was by many degrees more
repugnant to justice than that of the Sub-Commissions. In an inquiry held
before the House of Lords in 1882, an eminent member of the Irish bar
remarked, 'It was the most unsatisfactory tribunal that I ever was before.
What occurred was this: they took up the figures of the old rent, which we
will say was £100, and the valuation £70, and the new rent £80. Then they
took up the valuer's report, which was a document concealed from the
parties. It was entirely for the information of the Court, and they turned
round to me, as the landlord's counsel, the landlord being the appellant,
and said, "Can you go on with this appeal in the face of this document?"
and they would show me the document.'[118] And in the inquiry I have often
referred to before, another distinguished lawyer has said, 'I have been in
cases where, in order to overcome the difficulty, I marshalled a perfect
phalanx of witnesses, for the landlord, but it was all no use. They
listened to them, I admit,--they suggested that I was wasting time, but I
am not stating they did not hear them,--but in the end, in the morning,
the announcement was made that the judicial rent was confirmed.'[119]

As the general result these appeals, as it has been said, 'were
strangled;' in thousands of instances they were withdrawn, the decisions
of the Land Commission being final; expedition was attained; but it was
only attained at the cost of gross wrong done to the landlords, a singular
exhibition in a Court of Justice. I quote the following--and it should be
borne in mind that the Land Commissioners have never attempted to explain
this conduct, though the amplest opportunity was afforded, a few years
ago: 'The extraordinary and anomalous state of things is that the valuers,
not being assessors, do not sit with the Commissioners, and do not hear
the evidence, and yet they are not witnesses in the proper sense of the
term, because they are neither examined nor cross-examined. Common sense
and justice revolt at the idea, when it is the duty of the Land
Commissioners, upon the rehearing of a case, to sit and go through the
proceedings _de novo_, that they should receive the evidence of valuers,
which is not laid before the parties, and that those valuers should not be
examined and cross-examined in the regular way. There is another matter to
which I would refer. You will find, what is, indeed, what you might
expect, that when the Commissioners go to Dublin, or Cork, or elsewhere,
with a list of two or three hundred cases to be heard by them, involving,
it may be, thousands of pounds a year of rent, that list is gone through
in two or three days, and why? Because all the parties present know that
they are taking part in what really is a solemn farce, and that what will
happen in the morning after the hearing of their case is just this: John
Brown, landlord, James Fogarty, tenant; judicial rent affirmed; John
Robinson, landlord, James McNorth, tenant; judicial rent affirmed.'[120]

The first set of Land Commissioners passed away; they were succeeded by a
second Land Commission, the president of which was Mr. Justice Bewley, an
accomplished, if not a very eminent, lawyer. This Commission, like the
other, was composed of honourable men; it is only just to remark that it
was bound by the bad precedents made by the tribunal which it had
replaced. The procedure of the Sub-Commissions was, in some degree,
improved; but the methods of the second Land Commission differed for the
worse where they differed from the methods of its predecessor. The Land
Commissioners appear to have not at all regarded the general principles in
fixing 'fair rent,' which ought to have had effect on their judgments;
they gave less weight, than Mr. Justice O'Hagan, and his colleagues did,
to the most important evidence, in this province, to which I have adverted
before, and laid too much stress on the least important evidence. As has
been truly remarked, 'We believe that much more attention was paid in the
early days of the Land Commission to the remaining kinds of popular
evidence than has been the case of late years; and we are assured by one
of the head Commissioners that the Act of 1896 has made a great change in
the fixing of fair rents by placing an emphasis on the technical evidence,
and throwing the popular evidence into the background.'[121] The
Commissioners, too, followed the bad example of the first Land Commission,
in the province of appeals; they practically disregarded almost everything
but the reports of their valuers, unchecked statements made by men who
were not even witnesses, were not sworn, and were not examined--a
procedure worthy of the Council of Ten at Venice; as before, the result
was that appeals were made all but fruitless, in the Court of which the
decisions were, in this respect, final.

There was, too, another grave miscarriage of justice caused, perhaps, by a
mistake made by the head of the second Land Commission. The Act of 1881
provided that 'fair rent' should be fixed, having due regard to the
'interest' of the tenant on the land, that is, to his improvements, and
perhaps to the mode of his tenure. Mr. Justice Bewley seems to have
decided that another element ought to be taken into account, and should
effect a reduction of rent; the tenant had 'an occupation right' in his
favour, over and above the 'interest' the law gave him; by reason of this
he had a right to have his rent cut down. The only plausible ground
alleged for this doctrine was that landlords would usually accept a lower
rent from a 'sitting' tenant in possession than from an incoming tenant;
in other words, their good nature was turned against them, and was to be
made a pretext for their being despoiled. It is just to observe that Mr.
Justice Bewley's colleagues dissented from this curious view of the law;
and the claim for 'occupation right' has since been blown to the winds in
the superior Courts of Ireland. But though many faint denials were made,
some of the Sub-Commissioners acted upon Mr. Justice Bewley's doctrine;
the evidence is conclusive that this imaginary right was made the means of
considerably reducing rent. Mr. Justice Bewley candidly admitted: 'From
the commencement, apparently, a number of the Sub-Commissioners have acted
on the principle that there is a certain occupation interest, which every
tenant has, varying according to circumstances, not any fixed amount, but
varying, and that that is to be taken into account in fixing the fair
rent.'[122] This statement has been confirmed by a host of witnesses by no
means willing in not a few instances. 'Would you make a difference between
the assessment of the fair rent in the case of a sitting tenant, and in
the case of an incoming tenant--a stranger? Certainly. Can you give us any
idea what that difference is, expressed in percentage?--I could not very
well answer that question. It is a mental calculation, and a good deal
would depend upon the length of the tenure of the tenant.'[123] And again:
'In your experience of the Land Commission Court, do you find the
"occupation interest" has been taken into account in fixing the fair
rent?--Yes, I cannot account for the reductions that have been made,
except on that supposition.'[124] And again: 'As far as your experience
goes, do they invariably value the holdings on the principle of giving an
occupation interest to the sitting tenant?--Yes, the tenants' valuers, as
a rule, give 40 or 50 per cent. as the interest of the sitting tenant....
Do you find that the Sub-Commissioners fix the rent on what the valuers
state?--Well, no; that would be going too much out of the way.'[125] And
again: 'Have you any doubt that the rents are fixed on the basis of the
occupation interest in the sitting tenant?--I have none. I do not know how
else the rents could have been arrived at.'[126] And once more: 'Did the
Sub-Commissioners invariably take the occupation interest of the sitting
tenant into account?--I think so.' I conclude with these remarks of Mr.
Barnes, one of the best and most impartial of Irish valuers: 'When I came
to give evidence in Court I found that nothing else would be accepted as
evidence unless based on occupation interest. It was almost the first
question.... Whenever there was an answer made that the valuation was
based on what the landlord would get for the land in his own hands, it was
discounted at once.'[127] No wonder that it has been alleged by the
highest authority with respect to this claim, since proved to have been
unfounded, guarded and cautious as the language is: 'There is, however,
reason to believe that this notion of an occupation interest existed in
the minds of some of the early valuers, and did, in fact, influence them,
and it is very possible that some cases in which the reductions there made
appear startling, may be, in part, attributable to this doctrine.'[128]

What amount of the rental of Ireland was unlawfully cut down owing to the
theory of 'occupation right,' it is, of course, impossible to ascertain.
Reductions of rent, too, were probably unjustly made through the
ignorance of the Land Commission as to agricultural matters. I refer to a
grotesque instance of this: 'You have marked a passage there in the
judgment, which, according to you, shows that owing to their ignorance as
experts they entirely mistook what six-course rotation meant?--Yes. The
fact is they took it to be the same crop in the whole seventy acres, that
instead of having so many different crops in this portion of the ground,
it was to be put into one crop for the year, and that is what they call
"rotation" in the Court of Rehearing.... It is plain enough, from the
authorised report of the judgment, that they made that mistake?--It is
clear as possible, and it was upon that that they threw me out. The tenant
himself knew that it was all absurdity and mistake.'[129]

A remarkable incident occurred in 1897 which threw a strong, if not a
complete, light on the proceedings of the Land Commission and its
Sub-Commissions in the adjustment of rent. In 1896 the time had come for
renewing the first statutory leases, under the Act of 1881; the
Commissioners suddenly made such enormous reductions of rent that persons
who knew Ireland were simply astounded. The Irish landlords naturally were
indignant; after some hesitation, and with plain reluctance, the
Government gave its consent to a very imperfect inquiry. A Commission,
presided over by Sir Edward Fry, a judge of the highest eminence, retired
from office, and composed of four additional colleagues, two being
well-known agricultural experts, was appointed to investigate the subject
on the spot; but the scope of the inquiry was limited in the extreme; it
was confined, in this respect, to examining the procedure and practice
adopted in fixing 'fair rents;' it did not extend to the conduct generally
of the Land Commission and its dependent tribunals. The Commission was
engaged nearly three months in its task; it held its sittings in different
parts of Ireland; it had before it 183 witnesses; and restricted as it
was in this province, it pronounced, in grave and judicial language, a
marked censure on the methods that had been followed in fixing 'fair
rents' in Ireland. In fact, Sir Edward Fry and his colleagues confirmed,
in many respects, the charges which I have made with regard to this whole
system. No doubt they reported, in very guarded words, 'that they were
unable to conclude that the machinery of the Land Statutes has been
uniformly worked with injustice towards landlords;'[130] but as they
pointedly refused to rehear a single case, in which the Land Commission
and the Sub-Commissions had fixed a 'fair rent,' this statement, ambiguous
as it is, is of no real importance. In other particulars the expression of
these opinions cannot be mistaken; to impartial minds it will appear
decisive. They evidently thought that such wrong had been done to
landlords owing to the want of a definition of 'fair rent,' that they
actually framed a definition of their own, in order to establish some kind
of standard; this did not widely differ from that of Mr. Law, which, I
have said, would have made things very different had it been adopted.[131]
They pointed out that the Land Commissioners should have assisted the
Sub-Commissions in fixing 'fair rents,' and should not have left them
'like ships without a rudder or a compass on a stormy sea;' it is 'a
subject of regret,' they reported, 'that in the early days of the system
the Land Commissioners were unable to take a part in the tribunals of
first instance; and that the whole original business was left to
Sub-Commissions.'[132] They strongly condemned the nature of the
Sub-Commission Courts, as being composed of members inadequately paid and
mere tenants at sufferance; and they put forward an elaborate scheme to
make the administration of justice in these tribunals more above
suspicion.[133] They evidently believed that the Land Commission and the
Sub-Commissions did not give due weight to the class of evidence that was
most important, and gave too much weight to that which was the least; and
they made significant observations on this subject.[134] On the whole,
they arrived at the conclusion that the fixing of 'fair rents' 'gives
opportunity for dissatisfaction, and leaves much more for improvement; ...
and that the settlement of fair rents has been effected in an
unsatisfactory manner, with diversity of opinion and practice, sometimes
with carelessness, and sometimes with that bias towards one side or the
other which exists in many honest minds.'[135] But their strongest
animadversion was found in the system, through which, I have said, the
Land Commission really 'strangled' appeals, though in this province its
decisions were final: 'An almost universal dissatisfaction is expressed
with regard to these appeals, a dissatisfaction felt by some at least of
the Commissioners themselves. No witness, with, perhaps, a single
exception, spoke in favour of the existing system.'[136]

Mr. Justice Bewley has retired from office, and has been replaced by Mr.
Justice Meredith, a capable and experienced lawyer. He has done, probably
as much as in him lay, to alleviate some of the wrong done to Irish
landlords; and for this he has been subjected to violent abuse, especially
on the part of an advocate of Ulster farmers, whose tongue is at odds with
his trade in temperance. But he is bound by the precedents set by those
who have gone before him; and though the work of the Land Commission is
now better done than it was before the Report of the Fry Commission
appeared, and its general procedure has improved, little change has been
effected in the reduction of rent in Ireland. The Government, as I have
pointed out in a preceding chapter, has made a few administrative reforms
in the composition and the arrangement of the Sub-Commissions; but it has
not taken a single step to give effect to the recommendations made by the
Fry Commission, so far as these are of real importance; it has refused to
legislate on the subject, and to bring in the measure that was required;
it has even refused to set a further inquiry on foot. The general results
of the labours of the Land Commission and of its subordinate tribunals in
fixing 'fair rents' may be summed up in a very few sentences. According to
the Report of the Fry Commission, the tenants of rural holdings in Ireland
are about 486,000 in number; 328,720 of these have had 'fair rents' fixed,
between August, 1881, and the end of March, 1900.[137] The tenants, who
have not had 'fair rents' fixed, are probably either tenants of lands not
within the Land Acts, or 'future tenants' since 1881-82, or tenants too
poor to pay law costs; but these, perhaps in nine cases out of ten, have
indirectly had the benefit of the law, and have had their rents reduced
like those of the large majority, by voluntary concessions on the part of
landlords. The great mass of 'fair rents' has been fixed by the Land
Commission and its dependents, and the proceedings of these tribunals
have, beyond question, formed a standard for the adjustment of rent;
whether 'fair rents' have been fixed by the County Courts,[138] or by
agreements between landlord and tenant, they have, in the main, conformed
to the measure established by the Courts set up in 1881. The reductions of
rent made, in every way, in the first statutory leases, were, on an
average, rather more than 20 per cent. on the old rental;[139] but those
on the second statutory leases have been 22 per cent. more,[140] that is,
the fixing of 'fair rents,' so far as it has gone, has reduced rents
rather more than 42 per cent. It may be asserted, with some confidence,
that through the operation of the new Irish land code, taking in tenancies
of all kinds, Irish rents have been cut down nearly 40 per cent.; little
doubt can exist that they are now lower than they were in the day of
Wakefield, and in some instances in the day of Arthur Young, when the
price of Irish agricultural produce was less than half what it is at the
present time.[141]

The agricultural rental of Ireland, therefore, in all probability, has
been reduced almost 40 per cent., or will be in a short space of time; and
as long as the present system of fixing 'fair rent' continues, however it
may be lowered, it will certainly not be raised. The Act of 1881, I have
already said, would, by itself, necessarily reduce rents; but the faulty
administration of it, on which I have dwelt, has reduced them far more
than ought to have been the case. In fact, disguise it as you may, an
immense confiscation, gradual, indeed, and veiled, but not the less real,
has been made of the property of Irish landlords, even on the principles
of a bad law; the evidence of this is, I believe, conclusive. Rents have
been cut down indiscriminately in the great mass of instances; for
example, rents in country districts only opened to good markets of late
years, have been reduced quite as much as rents around Dublin, which had
almost a monopoly of the best market until about 1855-60. But the proof of
this spoliation is made most apparent by taking into account a single
fact, and drawing the natural inference from it. The value of the
landlords' interest in the land, before 1881, was from 20 to 25 years'
purchase; it is now between 15 and 18; at the same time the value of the
tenants' interest has, in thousands of cases, enormously increased. I
refer to a few examples out of scores to be found in the evidence given to
the Fry Commission. I take first an estate in Ulster: 'I only remember one
case of a holding before 1881 that went up (in a sale of the farm) to
anything like 20 years' purchase of the rent, and I have several cases
since then that have gone beyond it. I remember one case that struck me
very forcibly because of the great amount the man got--20 years' purchase.
Since then I have known, 29, 35, 36, 34 years' purchase to be given.' I
turn now to two estates in the south of Ireland: 'Charles Bolster, 112
acres; rent £79 5_s._; sold for £570 in 1889. Daniel Buckley, 9 acres, at
rent of £3 3_s._; sold in 1889 for £45. Christopher Crofts, 131 acres; old
rent, £86; judicial rent fixed in 1893, £80; sold in 1889 for £120.
Timothy Reefe, 5 acres; rent, 29_s._; sold in 1891 for £47.' I pass on to
the second estate: 'Next case, 65 acres; old rent, £60; judicial rent, £56
14_s._, fixed in 1883 by agreement; sold in 1883 for £330. Next, 76
statute acres; old rent, £115; judicial rent fixed in 1885 at £108; sold
in December, 1885, for £1600.'[142]

This great fall in the value of the fee simple in the Irish land, and this
great rise in the value of the tenant right, coinciding with the general
fixing of 'fair rents,' distinctly point to a plain conclusion: the
interest of the Irish landlord has been enormously reduced, a result never
contemplated by the author of the Act of 1881. In truth, there has been
little or no decline in the market price of land in Ireland; but property
that ought to belong to the landlord has been improperly taken from him,
and has been transferred to the tenant who had no right to it. Excuses,
however, have been made for this wholesale abolition of rent; they are
worthless, but may be briefly noticed. Ireland, it is said, is suffering,
like England, from the agricultural depression of late years; and rents
in Ireland have not been cut down more by the act of the State than they
have been reduced in England by the voluntary acts of landlords. But
agricultural depression in Ireland, a land of small holdings, and of
pasturage, to a considerable extent, is not, by many degrees, as severe as
in England, a land of large farms and largely of cereal culture; a signal
proof of this is that, while in England, tenants have, in hundreds of
instances, thrown up their farms, there has hardly been a case of the kind
in Ireland, as appears from the Report of the Fry Commission. Besides, if
agricultural prices have fallen in Ireland, compared to what they were,
say, twenty-five years ago, they are higher than they were in the years,
say, 1850-55, not to take into account the progress made by Ireland, in
the last half-century, in crops, farm machinery, and the breeds of farming
animals. As to the reduction of rents in England and Ireland, the supposed
analogy completely fails. The rental of England rose greatly from 1850 to
1880; there was no corresponding increase in Ireland; there was thus a
margin for reduction, in the greater island, which in the lesser did not
exist. Again, no comparison can be made between State-settled Irish rents
and English rents lowered by the voluntary acts of landlords. 'Fair rents'
have practically been reduced for all time; the reduction of English rents
is temporary, and can be at once annulled; this difference makes a
supposed resemblance a very striking contrast. As to the argument that the
Courts which have fixed 'fair rents' have been composed of honourable men,
and that it is extremely invidious to make charges against them, mere
leather and prunella may be brushed aside. No one disputes the honour of
the Land and the Sub-Commissioners, but it does not follow that they have
not done injustice; no one has disputed the honour of the Commission which
carried out the Encumbered Estates Act, and yet it repeatedly sold
estates at less than half their value.

The Irish landlords, I repeat, have been iniquitously despoiled; a huge
confiscation has been made of their property. If the simplest right is to
be done in this province, their claim to compensation has been rendered
complete--apart from the utterances of Mr. Gladstone; should this be
disregarded, Parliament will have been chargeable with a grave breach of
faith, and a precedent will have been set from trampling on the just
rights of property in the Three Kingdoms, which will be dangerous in the
extreme. I pass on to consider the Irish land on the side of ownership,
and the administration of the system of so-called 'land purchase.' Of the
total of £40,000,000 alone available, some £20,000,000 appear to have been
expended; some 50,000 tenants have been made owners of their farms,
without having paid a shilling of their own, that is, rather more than one
in ten of the whole tenant class in Ireland. The politicians who declared
against 'dual ownership,' that bugbear of self-sufficient ignorance, can
find little consolation in these figures; I shall comment afterwards on
what this state of things has produced. The Government of Lord Salisbury
still proposes to seek to accelerate 'land purchase' of this kind; and
loud complaints have been made of the law's delay in not having made the
process more speedy. I have had no experience in this matter, and shall,
therefore, give no opinion on it; but it appears to me that there has been
some want of care in making advances to these so-styled 'purchasers;' not
a few were insolvent when they acquired their farms, and many are now on
the verge of bankruptcy. This, however, was perhaps inseparable from the
system that has been pursued; it is only an additional proof of its
essential vices.



CHAPTER VI

THE QUESTION OF THE IRISH LAND (_continued_)--PROPOSED REFORM OF THE IRISH
LAND SYSTEM

    Retrospect of the present Irish land system--Position of the Irish
    landlords--Position of the Irish tenant class--This not as
    advantageous as might be supposed--The effects of the land code on
    Irish agriculture injurious--The effects on the general Irish
    community--Confiscation, violation of contracts, shock given to
    credit, increased alienation of classes, and demoralisation--The land
    system considered on the side of ownership--'Voluntary
    purchase'--Mischief of this policy--It sets up a false standard
    against rent, and creates unjust distinctions between different
    classes of tenants--The results it has produced already--An instance
    of the system--The demand for the compulsory purchase of the Irish
    land caused by 'voluntary purchase'--Compulsory purchase has some hold
    on opinion, but is an impossible, and would be a disgraceful and
    ruinous policy--It would ruin Irish landlords as a
    class--Instances--It would ultimately bring Ireland into the state in
    which she was before the Great Famine--Proposed plan for the reform of
    Irish land tenure--Questions as to the means of compensating Irish
    landlords, a deeply wronged order of men.


Having traced the attempts that have been made to reform Irish land
tenure, in the last thirty years, and noticed the administration of the
new Irish land code, I must, for the sake of clearness, take a short
retrospect, and consider the Irish land system as it exists at this day; I
shall review it on the side of occupation first, that is, in the relations
of landlord and tenant. The agricultural rental of Ireland, we have seen,
has been, or is being, reduced about 40 per cent. since 1881, through the
operation of laws carried out by tribunals of the State; this proceeding,
unexampled in civilised lands, has been the means, I have proved, of doing
gross wrong to the Irish landed gentry. But this, if a signal, is only one
of the many acts of injustice perpetrated on a cruelly injured body of
men. The fee simple has been wrested from the Irish landlord, where he has
been subjected to the legislation of late years; he has been deprived of
the ownership which had been his birthright. An estate, nominally for
fifteen years, but really capable of being renewed for ever, has been
created against him by an unjust law; and this has been vested in his
former tenants, subject to the mode of land tenure known as the 'Three
F's,' the chief of these being 'fair,' that is, State-settled rents, in
the adjustment of which he has no voice. He may, no doubt, retain
fragments of his old proprietary rights; parts of his estate may be
excluded from the provisions of the law; he may be the lord of 'future
tenants;' he is left 'royalties,' such as minerals, mines, and timber; he
possesses most of his former legal remedies; and should the holders of the
lands, which had been his own, who have obtained the benefits of the
'Three F's,' infringe the statutory conditions imposed on them, they may
be dispossessed, and he may enter upon their farms again. But,
notwithstanding exceptions and possibilities like these, the Irish
landlord has, for practical purposes, been well-nigh assimilated to a
rent-charger, and his tenants have been nearly converted into owners of
the soil, an utter revolution in the whole land system, in truth, turning
it upside down. The status, indeed, of the Irish landed gentry now bears a
strong resemblance to that of the chief landlords of the eighteenth
century, who, separating themselves altogether from their lands, let them
in perpetuity at low rents, and, as a necessary consequence, produced the
middleman, the pest, as he has rightly been called, of Irish land tenure.

The enormous and, as I believe, the unjust benefits secured by recent
legislation to the Irish tenant, are not, however, so complete as they
appear to be, and are not without disadvantages attendant on them. Tenants
of holdings, to which the law does not apply, such as tenants of demesnes
and large pastoral lands, if rightly excluded, nevertheless complain; and
'future tenants,' and petty occupants, who cannot afford to seek 'fair
rents' from the Courts, have, from their point of view, solid grounds of
complaint. The scope of the new land code is, therefore, to some extent,
restricted; and if the law has actually caused a general reduction of
rents, it has not secured the 'Three F's' for a considerable body of
farmers, not improbably a fourth or fifth part of the class as a whole.
And even the occupiers of the Irish soil, who have obtained the advantages
of the new mode of tenure, have not obtained these without a certain kind
of drawback. Completely separated as they now are from their former
landlords, they cannot expect indulgences from a class which considers
itself to have been shamefully wronged; the allowances, which, whatever
may be said, had been made to them, in thousands of cases, have, as a
rule, been altogether withdrawn; they get no help in making improvements;
they are usually obliged regularly to pay their 'fair rents;' above all,
landlords, of a strict or harsh nature, are sometimes on the look-out to
see if they do not violate the statutory conditions to which they are
subject, in order to convert them into 'future tenants,' outside of the
protection of the law, and even to reacquire their lands. These
circumstances are not without adverse effects; though unquestionably they
are far more than countervailed by the change which has been wrought in
Irish land tenure, and has given the Irish tenant the benefits already
described. Yet, even from this point of view, the law does not operate as
unreservedly in his favour as might be supposed. He has his 'fair rent,'
probably much too low; his 'fixity of tenure,' a perpetuity in all but
name; his right to 'free sale,' sometimes worth thousands of pounds. But,
as a rule, he can only gain these advantages at the cost of a lawsuit
recurring at short intervals of time, with the vexation and mischief this
brings with it, a lawsuit, too, of which the results may be more or less
doubtful. If, too, he is a saving and thrifty man he will hardly be able
to acquire lands for himself, as, in consequence of the right of 'free
sale,' the tenant right of these will have become immensely high; he will
be confined, in most instances, to the farm he holds. On the other hand,
if he be dishonest or imprudent, he will be tempted to run out and even to
injure his land, in order to effect a reduction of rent, or to sublet or
mortgage it should an opportunity be found.

The new Irish land code has thus had this special feature: it has done
infinite harm to the despoiled landlord, but the tenant has not gained the
expected benefits. Let us now see what effect it has had on the great
industry on which the Irish landed classes depend, the main source of the
wealth of their country. Unquestionably, as I have remarked, over and over
again, the tenant in Ireland makes, for the most part, the plant of his
farm a necessary incident of the small-farm system; but the Irish landed
gentry, in the last half century, have done a great deal in the work of
improvement. Whatever interested calumny may falsely assert, they have
expended millions, as unerring statistics show, in planting, enclosure,
and, especially, in arterial drainage, this last beyond the reach of the
common peasant; they have, in thousands of instances, made the breeds of
stock better; they have made large allowances as regards farm buildings.
All this is now a thing of the past; the sometime landowner, in a real
sense, has been divorced from his former estate; law has prohibited him
from doing anything for it; his only interest is to collect the
rent-charge called, in mockery, 'fair rent.' On the other hand, tenants in
Ireland have, in a great many cases--I have briefly glanced at the
conclusive evidence--positively wasted or neglected their holdings, for
the express purpose of working rent down; this shameful expedient has been
hardly checked; the deterioration of a large area of land has been thus
accomplished. And, at the same time, as 'fair rent' is much lower than the
rent of the market, a considerable minority of this class have sublet or
mortgaged their lands, in order to get advances of which they stand in
need; this, no doubt, is a violation of the law; but it is a violation
difficult to prove, and they run the risk. In this way, as I have shown,
in a preceding chapter, the husbandry of Ireland has declined of late
years; woodland has been cut down recklessly to a great extent; main
drainage has been largely neglected, a ruinous thing in a wet climate; in
thousands of cases the farming of tenants at 'fair rents' is wretched. The
face of the country reveals these facts: Ireland is worse cultivated than
it was twenty years ago; indeed, the best farming, in the island, by many
degrees, is that conducted by a small number of men of substance, who
still hold on the footing of free contract, having settled with their
landlords, and taken out leases, a significant commentary on Irish
legislation since 1881.

This subject, however, must be considered from a broader point of view,
and with reference to the community of Ireland, as a whole. A great
confiscation, I have said, has been wrought in the Irish land; the immense
fall in the value of the landlord's estate, and the immense rise in the
value of the tenant right, prove that property belonging to one class has
been transferred, wholesale, by law, to another, a result never
contemplated by responsible statesmen. And confiscation has produced its
inevitable effects; free dealing in land has been prevented; except to his
former tenants an Irish country gentleman cannot sell what remains to him
of his former estate, and that through the system of 'land purchase;'
capital shuns the Irish soil as if it were a quicksand; trustees and
mortgagees will not invest in it; in a word, as respects the class which
had been its owners, the Irish land has been bound in a kind of pernicious
mortmain. It is unnecessary to dwell on the resulting evils; one of the
sources of the wealth of Ireland has been made barren; a paralysis has
fallen on a member of Irish industry; what is, perhaps, even worse, a
sense of insecurity, of instability, of fear of unknown change, so widely
prevails in Irish landed relations, that they have become completely
unsettled, and are a mere chaos. And as vicious legislation has cut the
old landlord off from his estate, has assimilated him to the chief lord of
the eighteenth century, and is evolving, by degrees, the middleman, so the
effects of confiscation, by keeping land out of commerce, have unnaturally
limited and restricted its nominal ownership; in fact, many of the
features of the detestable penal laws of Ireland are reappearing in the
Irish land system, and are being reproduced by the modern Irish land code.
Another mischievous effect of this code, in another direction, requires
attention. The value of tenant right, we have seen, has enormously
increased; the sums paid by incoming to outgoing tenants, on the transfer
of farms, have, accordingly, become enormous; these purchasers, therefore,
are being subjected to heavy outlays, practically in the nature of
rack-rents, which hamper their industry, starve their capital, and most
injuriously affect good husbandry. One class of the community is thus
wronged for the behoof of another; and agriculture must, more or less,
suffer.

Not the least, however, of the manifold evils caused by this legislation
have to be yet noticed. The ancient divisions of race and faith in the
Irish land system still continue; what was most harsh and oppressive in
them has been effaced; but they have become wider and more marked in the
last twenty years; and this is largely to be ascribed to the present land
code. A mode of land tenure, which produces harassing litigation at short
intervals of time, and makes landed relations cockpits for legal
conflicts, necessarily sets the landed classes against each other; it has
aggravated the old differences deep-rooted in the Irish soil. The
Protestant gentleman and the Catholic peasant are more estranged from each
other, in the southern provinces, than they have been, I believe, within
living memory; the same remark, too, applies to Presbyterian Ulster, where
the gentry belong, for the most part, to the late Established Church, and
the tenant classes are of the faith of John Knox; the lines of distinction
between these orders of men have deepened; and this alienation, concurring
with another cause, has contributed to the cry for the confiscation of the
Irish land, which is now being very generally raised, and to which I shall
refer afterwards. Another mischief of this legislation, at which I have
already glanced, is the widespread demoralisation it has caused, from the
nature of the case. The litigation in the Courts where 'fair rents' are
being fixed, is often a miserable spectacle of hard and mendacious
swearing productive of the worst effects on the human character. Peasants,
as a rule, do not scruple to pledge their oaths that their rents ought to
be at most a fourth of the rents they had paid for perhaps half a century;
the witnesses they call as valuers usually repeat these statements. The
claims, too, for exemption from rent, on account of improvements, are
often ridiculous, often shameful; I have seen sums paid for manures twenty
years old, gravely put forward as creating a claim for exemption; and the
subject of the deterioration of farms is another fruitful source of
falsehood. It is hardly necessary to comment on the results, as regards
self-respect and the moral sense of men, which must follow proceedings of
this kind, carried on, over whole counties, in thousands of cases; they
are, inevitably, in a very high degree, unfortunate; but, when law
encourages dishonesty, they were to be only expected.

Such have been the fruits of the new Irish land code, on the side of the
occupation of the Irish land. Legislation, essentially faulty and unwise,
in conflict with economic science and the facts of the case, has taken
from the Irish landlords their chief proprietary rights, and forcibly
transferred these to their tenants; it has not conferred the benefits it
intended on an unfairly favoured class; it has wrought a revolution in the
Irish land system, in contravention to plain justice, and given it an
unnatural and evil aspect; it has caused iniquitous confiscation on a vast
scale and demoralisation profound and widespread, with the far-reaching
inherent mischiefs; and bad administration has made bad laws worse.
Political economy, spite of Mr. Gladstone, has not fled from this world at
his bidding; she looks on, so to speak, at the ruins in Ireland produced
by the violation of her most certain principles; I will add, she affirms
the claim to compensation of the Irish landlord, if the simplest equity is
not to be set at nought. As to the general situation evolved by the
present Irish land code, I may refer to these pregnant words of Mr. Lecky:
'It cannot be denied that this legislation has redressed some hard cases
and benefited a large number of tenants; and as few men look beyond
immediate consequences, or rightly estimate those which are indirect and
remote, this fact is accepted by many as its justification. For my own
part, I believe that it will one day be found that the evils resulting
from this policy have greatly outweighed its benefits, and that they will
fall far more heavily on another class than on the small class which was
directly injured. In a poor country, where increased capital, improved
credit, and secure industry are the greatest needs, it has shaken to the
very basis the idea of the sanctity and obligation of contract; made it
almost impossible to borrow any considerable sum on Irish land;
effectually stopped the influx of English gold; paralysed or prevented
nearly all industrial undertakings stretching into a distant future. It
has reacted powerfully upon trade, and thus contributed to impoverish the
Irish towns, while it has withdrawn the whole rental of Ireland from the
improvement of the soil, as the landlord can have no further inducement or
obligation to spend money on his estate. In combination, also, with the
Home Rule movement, it has driven much capital out of the land.'[143]

I pass on to the legislation of late years, with respect to the Irish
land, on the side of ownership. I have briefly described what that
legislation is: a Conservative Ministry, impressed with the wrong idea
that Mr. Gladstone had 'created dual ownership,' by the ill-conceived
measure of 1881, resolved to abolish this evil thing if they could, though
it is the natural mould of Irish land tenure; and Parliament has allotted
£40,000,000 to attain this object, through the operation of what is
falsely called 'land purchase.' The mode of proceeding has been explained:
an Irish landlord, who desires to sell his estate to his tenants, can
obtain an advance for this purpose from the State, through the agency of
the Land Commission; the tenants are then made owners of their farms,
without contributing any moneys of their own, and hold at terminable
annuities much lower than even 'fair rents.' The transaction, therefore,
we have seen, is, in no sense, a purchase; it is a gift, in the nature of
a bribe; it is completely different from the policy of John Bright and the
sales of land made to tenants before 1885, in which these men paid part of
the price at least, the only real security for thrift and honesty. Of the
£40,000,000, nearly half, I have said, has been spent; and out of the
486,000 agricultural Irish tenants, some 50,000 have acquired their
holdings, in fee, under these conditions. The law thus applies to a mere
fraction of the class; it is idle to assert that this can do much to
extinguish 'dual ownership' in all Ireland; the sum required would be many
times more than that which alone has been made available; and the
process, at the present rate of 'purchases,' would not be accomplished
within a century. We may, therefore, pass away from this part of the
subject; but let us see how 'land purchase,' effected in this way, bears
on the position of the Irish landed gentry. The immense majority of this
order of men still cling to their native country and their homes; they
hate the idea of parting with the rights they retain in the land, trampled
down and injured as they have been; this is especially the case with the
best and most solvent landlords. But as the terminable annuities payable
on 'land purchase' are not nearly so high as even very low rents, not to
speak of the other conditions of this mode of tenure, it follows that
tenants who have thus been made owners are infinitely better off than
tenants still subject to rent; one class has great advantages, of which
the other is deprived; as a necessary consequence an artificial standard
is set up against rent, which does wrong to the landlord, from the nature
of the case; gives every tenant on his estate a grievance; and not
improbably may expose him to a determined refusal to pay any rent
whatever.

'Land purchase,' therefore--the name is a mere untruth--has been a failure
as regards 'dual ownership;' and it is establishing against the Irish
landlord a false measure of rent, analogous to a base coinage, a strange
achievement of a Conservative Government. Let us next consider what has
been the working of this economic nostrum, with respect to the class, for
the benefit of which it was first prescribed, and which has reaped the
advantages it gives. The tenants, who have been made owners of their
farms, have, as a rule, discharged their obligations to the State very
well, though I could point to not a few exceptions; and there have been
strikes against the payment of the terminable annuities in some instances.
This may be sufficient for official bureaucrats; it is not sufficient for
those who know Ireland, and can impartially watch the course of events.
It was fondly expected that 'land purchase,' that is, bribing tenants in
Ireland to become owners of their farms, would create a powerful body of
freeholders loyal to the State; but this has already been seen to be a
mere delusion. As Parnell predicted would be the case, these 'purchasers'
are 'patriotic' in the highest degree; they fill the ranks of the United
Irish League, that is, of a conspiracy against our rule in Ireland, and
are numbered among its most efficient agents; human nature being what it
actually is, this is precisely what was to be expected. It was confidently
foretold, again, that these 'purchasers' would form a thriving class of
model farmers; and that their lands would be patterns of admirable and
improved peasant husbandry, but this forecast is being, in a great degree,
falsified. These men, 'rocked and dandled into their possessions,' in the
words of Burke, without a single guarantee for common prudence, and
especially without an effort of their own, have, in hundreds of instances,
turned out sorry failures; and it has been the almost universal practice
of the whole class to cut down every tree that grows on their lands, an
act of ruinous waste in a rain-drenched climate. Besides, as freehold
ownership is not an Irish idea--indeed, is opposed to Irish ideas--these
'purchasers' have, in many cases, following the example of tenants 'at
fair rents,' subdivided, sublet, or mortgaged their holdings; instead of
remaining owners in a true sense, they are becoming middlemen lording it
over rack-rented serfs. The agriculture, too, of hundreds of these farms
is slovenly in the extreme, for bribery does not promote industry; what is
'easy got, easy goes' is a true proverb; and, in addition, a number of
these men were really insolvent when they were made 'purchasers.' That
Ireland will blossom like a rose, under these conditions, is seen even now
to be a chimera; and there is much reason to believe that many of these
'purchasers' have become the prey of the race of local usurers, a
consummation that might have been predicted. 'I shall sell my estate,' a
witty Irishman once remarked, 'but I will keep two loan offices and four
public-houses; and in two generations my "purchasing" tenants will be too
happy to resell their lands to my grandsons.'

A singular instance of 'land purchase,' and, indeed, of the working of
another part of the land code, has come under my notice of late; I can
answer for the accuracy of what I write; scores of similar cases could be,
probably, found. In 1852, an industrious Scottish tradesman invested the
savings of years of his life in buying a chief rent under the Encumbered
Estates Act; he gave £5000 for a perpetual rent-charge of £192, that is,
not quite 4 per cent. on his capital. The tenant of the lands subject to
the rent was a middleman, with an estate of about £3000 a year; he had
sublet the lands to a tenant in occupation of them, a slovenly,
ill-conditioned, and indolent farmer. The Land Act of 1887 passed; the
wealthy middleman, an excellent 'mark' for the chief rent, who, therefore,
had been obliged to pay the £192 a year, was empowered by the new law to
evade his contract, and practically to get rid of his interest; the owner
of the chief rent, therefore, had only the tenant in occupation to look to
for the discharge of his claim. This person was succeeded by his son, a
good-for-nothing and drunken man, who soon became head over ears in debt;
but he was declared 'a purchaser' by the Land Commission, and, subject to
a terminable annuity, was made owner of the lands. But the advance made
was not more than £2300; the representative of the hardworking Scotchman,
who had bought property, as secure, at the time, as Consols, was a loser
of more than half of his capital; he was simply cheated out of £2700,
through the operation of an iniquitous law; his indignant protests may
well be conceived. The subsequent history of this so-styled 'purchase' is
significant, and not without interest. The worthless owner took possession
of the lands; his first step was to cut down the woodland, until he was
stopped by a creditor to whom he owed a mortgage. Since that time he has
become insolvent in all but name, and cannot pay the annuity due to the
State; the Land Commission has been trying to sell the lands; but the
attempt has, hitherto, been a failure; the lands have been 'boycotted,'
and the market has been closed against a sale. These proceedings do not
require a word of comment; they strikingly illustrate how the agrarian
code of Ireland makes havoc of capital, annuls contracts, and confiscates
property for the behoof of dishonest thriftlessness. Meanwhile the happy
middleman enjoys his £3000 a year; I dare say he licks his lips as he
thinks of the Land Act of 1887, which scattered a just liability to the
winds.

The most remarkable and the worst effect--with a revolutionary tendency in
no doubtful sense--of this mischievous system has, however, to be still
noticed. About one out of ten of the agricultural tenants of Ireland have
'purchased' their farms in the way described; the fund available for 'land
purchase' cannot include more than one in five; and the process is and
must be slow, owing to the law's delay. Legislation, therefore, with a
singular want of insight, has drawn, and is drawing, an unjust distinction
between 'purchasing' and rent-paying tenants; it is dividing them into a
small favoured class, and a multitude harshly left out in the cold--fat
sheep in one fold, lean goats in another; as the inevitable result, the
rent-paying tenant resents the benefits obtained by 'the purchaser;' and
the immense majority of the farmers of Ireland are made discontented with
their lot, from their point of view not without reason. It is idle to say
to this great body of men that they have already gained advantages from
the State, on which they never reckoned thirty years ago, and that they
have the 'Three F's,' and all that the phrase implies; those who have
secured much are eager to secure more; the unfair distinction arbitrarily
made against them is unintelligible and exasperating, man being what he
is. The policy of 'voluntary purchase,' as it is called, has, accordingly,
from the very nature of the case, provoked and called into being the cry
for the 'compulsory purchase' of the Irish land, now being heard far and
wide in Ireland--that is, for the forcible expropriation of all Irish
landlords, and for placing all their tenants, in their stead, as owners of
their estates. This demand has as yet been rejected by statesmen, and is,
I believe, both hopeless and shameful; but it has, nevertheless, some
logic on its side; it is a corollary from legislation essentially bad;
and, backed as it is by a large force of Irish opinion, it cannot be
ignored or treated with contempt. It is simply extraordinary that many
Irish landlords have been encouraging, and still encourage, 'voluntary
purchase,' on its existing lines, and will not perceive that it leads to
'compulsory purchase;' either from a desire to dispose of parts of their
estates, or from motives not easy to understand, they are promoting a
revolution, which, if accomplished, would assure their ruin, as I shall
conclusively prove afterwards. But the well-informed and most thoughtful
members of their class are not flies lured into a bottle by a bit of
sugar; they are alive to all that is involved in what is called 'land
purchase.' Many years ago, when Parliament was voting funds for 'voluntary
purchase,' on the present system, I indicated what would be the results; I
only claim credit for some share of common sense: 'Law will have been
severing the occupiers of the soil by an arbitrary process into a pampered
caste, marked off from a disfavoured multitude; and, as a necessary
consequence, the mass of tenants, kept in an inferior position, will be
filled with discontent--and from their point of view with perfect
justice--when, as the advances from the State run short, their prospects
of "land purchase" shall wane and diminish. An "ugly rush" will be made
throughout the country to force landlords, as a class, to sell, in order
to get a chance of buying; in Ulster the cry for "compulsory purchase,"
already heard, will swell high and fierce.'[144]

These, therefore, have been the fruits of the system called 'land
purchase' with euphemistic falsehood. 'Compulsory purchase,' a demand
caused by an unwise policy, is a question that must be fairly discussed;
it is nothing to the purpose that it has as yet made little way in
Parliament. This claim would have been regarded as sheer insanity thirty
years ago; it was scouted by John Bright as in the highest degree
mischievous, though John Bright was the first statesman who proposed
making tenants in Ireland owners of their farms, but through a real, not a
sham, mode of purchase. The compulsory purchase of the rented land of
Ireland is a policy that has advocates even in England and Scotland; and
it is lamentable to observe how British opinion seems to take little heed
how a measure of this kind would affect the position of the Irish
landlord, another of the many instances of its habitual disregard of the
plainest rights of property in land in Ireland. A set of doctrinaires,
ignorant of Irish nature and of the Irish land, imagine that 'the creation
of a peasant proprietary,' in all parts of Ireland, as the cant phrase is,
would, in any case, make the Union secure, and would promote tranquillity,
industry, and content. Some politicians still cherish the fond belief,
that thrusting Irish tenants, wholesale, into the place of their
landlords, by an act of violence without a parallel, would make Irish
government and administration more easy; and shut their eyes to the nature
of this policy. English and Scottish capitalists, who have made advances
on Irish estates, see in compulsory purchase the best probable means of
realising securities now in danger; a few great absentee landlords, eager
to part with their possessions in Ireland, at almost any price, are
possibly not opposed to this scheme; and so maybe a few bankrupt Irish
landlords, hoping to get a trifle out of a general shipwreck. The demand,
however, for compulsory purchase has its only real strength in Ireland;
and unquestionably it is widespread and far-reaching. The conspiracy
against British rule in Ireland, which has made the annihilation of Irish
'landlordism' one of its main objects, calls for compulsory purchase, as a
matter of course; it finds no difficulty in banding together the peasantry
of the southern provinces in support of a cry which means for this class
an improvement in their lot, and appeals to deep-rooted sentiments of
human nature. The Irish Catholic priesthood, too, back the movement to a
man, and so do the local Nationalist boards; for obvious reasons, both
these orders of men seek to drive the Irish landed gentry from their
homes, and to replace them by dependents in sympathy with them. The demand
has also extended to Ulster, chiefly on account of the harsh distinction
drawn between 'purchasing' and 'non-purchasing' tenants; it is economic
rather than social or political; but the cry for compulsory purchase is
perhaps loudest in parts of the northern province. Its principal champion,
at present, is an enthusiast, sincere, indeed, if without judgment and
insight; but he is sustained by bodies of farmers formidable in numbers at
least.

The sharp and, as I think, the unfair distinction drawn by the present law
between tenant 'purchasers' and tenants still subject to the payment of
rent, has created, it cannot be said too often, the demand for the
compulsory purchase of the Irish land, and for this Lord Salisbury's
Government is largely responsible. But because an Irish peasant, on one
side of a fence, cannot obtain the benefits of land tenure, which his
neighbour, on the other side, has obtained, and may even have a right to
complain, it does not follow that compulsory purchase is a possible, or
aught but a disgraceful policy; other interests and considerations must be
taken into account. Let us first see how compulsory purchase would affect
the financial position of the Three Kingdoms. Great as the prosperity of
the Empire is, the strain on its resources is immense; the expenditure of
the State at home is vast, and on the increase; the war in South Africa,
and the settlement of that huge region, will cost unknown millions; the
reform of our military and even of our naval system, necessary to our
safety, will be a weighty burden for years; every Chancellor of the
Exchequer has declared that fiscal economy, as far as possible, is his
first duty. But what does the compulsory purchase of the Irish land
involve, and what, confessedly, are its essential conditions? Mr.
Gladstone, I have said, asserted, long ago, that the value of the
agricultural area of Ireland was £300,000,000; this estimate, I believe,
is too high; but, in the opinion of competent judges, it cannot be deemed
less than £150,000,000. But the forcible expropriation of the Irish landed
gentry on every principle of civilised law, as, indeed, Sir Michael Hicks
Beach has already insisted, would imply giving them a large additional
bonus; this probably would not be less than £50,000,000; the sum,
therefore, required for compulsory purchase, would, it may be assumed, be
not less than £200,000,000. Now, can any one imagine that the general
taxpayer, in the financial situation in which we are, and shall be for
years, will make himself liable for this colossal charge, equal to the
ransom Germany extorted from France, in order to bribe Irish peasants into
the ownership of their farms, and to effect an agrarian revolution, in
which he has no interest? I should like to see the Minister who would go
to the country on such an insane policy, and who would call on the hardly
taxed millions of England, Scotland, and Ireland, to burn huge holes in
their pockets for such an object, for simply robbing Peter to pay Paul,
and that without a pretence of right, or any conceivable good. And what
security would the Irish land afford for the payment of this enormous
impost? The terminable annuities due from the 'purchasing' tenants would,
it has pleasantly been said, be a sufficient guarantee; but men of common
sense are not to be caught by chaff; the idea is a vain and worthless
delusion. The 'No Rent Manifesto' and the 'Plan of Campaign' were
movements of Irish peasants, so to speak, of yesterday; what if another
Parnell were to arise and to issue a ukase that 'a foreign and alien
Government had no right to an unjust tribute;' and how could this be
collected by a Department of an absentee State?

The general taxpayer, therefore, who, thirteen years ago, grumbled at a
demand of £5,000,000 only, will assuredly not fling £200,000,000, or half
that sum, into the Serbonian bog of the Irish land. It is hardly necessary
to dwell on so small a fact, 'that compulsory purchase would reduce the
income tax of Ireland about one-half, for nine-tenths of the tenant
'purchasers' would be below its level;' but even this cannot be left out
of sight. Conservative statesmen, it should be added, are especially bound
to reject this scheme; in 1886 they denounced, in emphatic language, Mr.
Gladstone's far less dangerous plan of making the State liable for
£50,000,000, to buy out Irish landlords; flagrant inconsistency in
politics should be eschewed. The probably fixed purpose of the general
taxpayer not to mulct himself heavily to fling the Irish soil to a mass of
peasants, is doubtless, and I say it with regret, the best security
against the destruction of the Irish landlords; this despoiled and
maltreated body of men just now fill the place in Irish affairs of the
'Injured Lady' of Swift's satire, gravely told by her lover across the
Channel that 'I had cost him ten times more than I was worth to maintain
me, and that it had been much better for him if I had been damned, or
burnt, or thrown to the bottom of the sea.'[145] Nevertheless, I have
faith in right-minded Englishmen, however prejudiced or ill-informed about
an unpopular class, if plain facts and figures are set before them; let us
see how it would fare with the Irish landlord were he forcibly
expropriated under compulsory purchase. I will take the case of an Irish
country gentleman, who, in the period between 1868 and 1878, had an income
from his estate of £1500 a year, subject to a family charge of £10,000 at
4 per cent., that is, had a net annual income of £1100. Owing to the
depression of agriculture since 1879, his rents would have naturally
fallen about £300 a year; but let us suppose that, through the operation
of the new Irish land code, they have been cut down to 'fair rents' of
£900 a year only. His annual income, therefore, would be £900 less by
£400, that is, he would still have £500 a year he could call his own; how
would it be with him were he forcibly sold out? Admit that his estate
would fetch eighteen years' purchase--the present average rate is
seventeen--that is, would realise £16,200; deducting, say, £200 for law
costs, this would be a net residue of £16,000. But the family charge would
absorb £10,000; the surplus would be £6000 only, producing, let us
calculate, £4 per cent.; this ruined man, therefore, who, little more than
twenty years ago, possessed an income of £1100 a year, would be left £240
at the very utmost. I have taken care to understate the case; I challenge
attention to my figures; I ask honest Englishmen would not this be sheer
robbery, accomplished, to the disgrace of the State, in its name?

It has been urged, however--and to those who know the facts, the statement
is cruel and shameful mockery--that the Irish landlord would only lose his
rented lands, and that 'he could live happily on the demesne land, which
he would still retain.' This would be simply impossible in the case of
nineteen-twentieths of the class; they would not have the means to keep
their demesnes up; they would be compelled to part with them at almost any
price; and the few, who would have the means, would, all but certainly,
with their beggared fellows, leave a country in which they had been foully
betrayed. It is notorious, indeed, that Irish Nationalist leaders, knowing
what compulsory purchase means, have marked down the demesnes of the Irish
landed gentry as their prey; associates of American Fenians and of the
Clan na Gael are to revel in the mansions of the Geraldines, the Butlers,
the O'Connors, the O'Neills, as Jacobins revelled in the mansions of the
La Tremouilles and the De Noailles. But man does not live by bread alone;
the material ruin of the Irish landlord would be bad enough; but the moral
consequences of his expropriation must not be left out of sight. Few of
the purchasers under the Encumbered Estates Acts care probably much about
the lands they have bought; the same remark probably applies to most Irish
absentees. But an immense majority of the Irish landed gentry are deeply
attached to their hearths and their homes; they are bound to their lands
by innumerable ties; they have been brought up with the sentiments which
property in land creates; in the pathetic words of an old chronicler,
'They do not wish to pray in foreign churches, or to lie in foreign
graves;' their hope has been to live and die amidst their ancestral
surroundings. The State has, in a special manner, encouraged this belief;
it rooted the Irish landlord in the soil to be its supporter; is it to
expel him from the position it has made for him, without a thought of the
shock to his best feelings this must produce? Would not such an act be
dishonourable, nay, infamous? Let us hear what the deepest of our
political thinkers, Burke, has written upon a somewhat parallel case:
'When men are encouraged to go into a certain mode of life by the
existing laws, and protected in that mode as in a lawful occupation--when
they have accommodated all their ideas, and all their habits to it, ... I
am sure it is unjust in legislature, by an arbitrary act, to offer a
sudden violence to their minds and their feelings; forcibly to degrade
them from their state and condition, and to stigmatise with shame and
infamy that character and those customs, which before had been made the
measure of their happiness and honour. If to this be added an expulsion
from their habitations, and a confiscation of all their goods, I am not
sagacious enough to discover how this despotick sport, made of the
feelings, consciences, prejudices, and properties of men, can be
discriminated from the rankest tyranny.'[146]

I have referred to an instance, within my knowledge, of the operation of
the new Irish land code, in the case of a middleman, his under-tenant, and
a despoiled owner of a rent. I now refer to an instance, also within my
knowledge, of what compulsory purchase would do in the case of an Irish
landlord. This person is a scion of one of the princely Irish-Milesian
houses; his forefathers were lords of a tract extending from the Boyne to
the Shannon. They belonged to one of the famous 'five bloods of Ireland,'
acknowledged to be half-royal by Henry of Anjou; they intermarried with
the great Norman-Irish _noblesse_; one of their matronage was half-sister
of Surrey's fair Geraldine; the ruins of the abbeys they founded are still
to be seen. Their domains were torn from them in the reign of Mary Tudor;
but they fought stubbornly with their tribe in the great Desmond war; they
retained, though proscribed, the rank of princes, until the close of the
sixteenth century; leaders of the house then carried their swords into
foreign armies, and have given a field marshal to Austria and grandees to
Spain. The direct line of the chiefs, however, remained in Ireland; it
vegetated in obscurity until the Irish rising of 1689-90; one of its
members then appeared in the Parliament of James II. in Dublin, and
perished, at the head of his regiment, it is said, at Aughrim. The
fortunes of his descendants are not without interest; one is believed to
have been a companion-in-arms of Villars at Malplaquet and Dénain; two of
his remote offspring, the tradition exists, perished in the ranks of
Napoleon's armies. But the heir of the family bowed under the yoke of the
Irish penal laws, and became a Protestant, at least in name; his near
kindred gave Ireland Anthony Malone, one of the most illustrious Irishmen
of the eighteenth century, and gave England the best commentator on her
most immortal poet. One of his representatives, the person of whom I
write, still possesses a fragment of the immense possessions his fathers
ruled; of more than thirty of their castles he has the wreck of one; a
scroll on the roof of his house bears the touching legend that he has
sprung from the loins of the old Milesian princes. He is not wholly
unknown as an Irish landlord of this day; curiously, too, his rental has
been hardly reduced by the visitations of the Land and the
Sub-Commissions. Is this scion of the best and the most ancient _noblesse_
of Ireland to be banished in his old age from his home, and to be replaced
in it by ornaments of the Land, the National, and the United Irish
Leagues, for this would be one result of compulsory purchase?

Let us imagine, however, that, owing to the malign influence which,
Spenser said, attends England in Irish affairs, the Irish landed gentry
were removed from the land, and their former tenants were put in their
place as owners. What would be the consequences, economic, social,
political, of this sudden agrarian revolution in one of the Three
Kingdoms? The distribution of the Irish soil between the classes which
would possess it, would be unfavourable, in the highest degree, to the
establishment of a 'peasant proprietary,' the common name in use on this
subject. Of the 486,000 tenant farmers in Ireland, some 132,000 hold
patches of from less than one to five acres in extent; are these to be
stereotyped as real land owners? More than 90,000 occupy from fifty to
five hundred acres and upwards; these include the great graziers of the
rich tracts of pasturage; do these supply elements of a 'peasant
proprietary' in any rational sense? The only class which even on
plausible, _a priori_ grounds could be made occupying owners of the land
would contain much less than 300,000 families; and probably it occupies
less than two-thirds of the island as a whole. Are all these bodies of men
to be lumped, so to speak, together, and universally to receive the
ownership of the soil; would not compulsory purchase, even on these
conditions, be the sheerest folly? Furthermore, the configuration of
Ireland and her climate make it next to impossible that a 'peasant
proprietary' could generally thrive within her borders; Nature herself
forbids an attempt to carry out, on a large scale, a settlement of the
kind. The central area of the island is a low watershed of wide extent,
from which a succession of streams descends through vast tracts of morass
and bog; in other parts of the country there are large and deep rivers,
curving as they approach the sea, and flowing through mountain spaces; the
lands they traverse are swampy, and require main drainage; a large part of
Ireland is composed of wild hill ranges only fit for the rearing of young
and coarse breeds of cattle; she possesses a fine area of the best
pasturage, confined, however, to a few counties; her true agricultural
area is comparatively small. Her climate, moreover, is wet to a proverb;
torrents of rain from the Atlantic fall on her plains for months; above
all, her inland towns are far from each other, and petty; scarcely one is
peopled by more than 10,000 souls. Any well-informed and right-judging
person who knows the conditions under which a 'peasant proprietary' can
alone flourish, must know that, from the nature of the case, it would be
a failure, in the circumstances in which it would be necessarily placed,
were it forcibly established in every part of Ireland. Ireland has little
in common with Belgium, with Northern Italy, with France; this settlement
of confiscation would go the way of the Englishry of the Middle Ages and
the Cromwellian colonists.

The most conclusive argument against compulsory purchase has,
nevertheless, to be yet put forward. The state of things 'voluntary
purchase' is evolving would assuredly be aggravated a hundred-fold were
every tenant in Ireland made the owner of his farm by a revolutionary act
on the part of the State. It is significant, in the highest degree, that
from the time of the 'New Departure' to this hour, the conspiracy against
our rule in Ireland has clamoured for the expropriation of the Irish
landed gentry by force, and for the conversion of their tenants into
possessors of these estates; far better informed than British statesmen,
it has rightly calculated that this violent change would increase the
'Nationalist' sympathies of the Irish peasant; and this opinion is being
confirmed, to a great extent, by the results of 'voluntary purchase' being
now developed. The coarse materialist view that bribery will make a class
law-abiding and loyal, is opposed to human nature and fact; bribery will
not efface ideas, feelings, and tendencies, deep-rooted in history and
ancient tradition; above all, if it is a concession to agitation and a
rebellious movement, it will only quicken the animosity to the State and
the greed of the favoured class. Parnell, I have said, had his mind made
up on this subject; he always insisted that the Irish tenant, wherever his
holding had been made his own, would be 'more true to the cause than
ever;' it is curious that the confident prediction of a most able man
appears to have been persistently ignored. For the rest, the mischief
'voluntary purchase' is already doing would be enormously aggravated by
the effects of compulsory purchase. The Irish tenant farmers, made owners
of the land everywhere, would, like the present 'purchasers,' cut down
woodland wholesale; the country would be disafforested over an immense
area; the consequences to agriculture would be as bad as possible.
Arterial and main drainage too would, as a rule, be neglected; but these
would, comparatively, be trifling results; the compulsory purchaser would
deal with the land as their 'voluntary' fellows are now largely dealing,
but, in all probability, more generally, and in much a greater proportion.
Holding as they would nine-tenths of the Irish soil at terminable
annuities much lower than any rent, they would inevitably subdivide,
sublet, and mortgage their farms in tens of thousands of cases; they would
become middlemen, over whole counties, the harsh oppressors of a multitude
ground down by rack-rents; the worst kind of 'landlordism' would be
reproduced in the worst aspect. The tendency of events is even now
confirming what I wrote a long time ago on this subject: 'Freehold
ownership, therefore, would disappear more or less quickly over extensive
tracts, the "yeomen" would become a diminishing quantity, and these would
be replaced by a new class of landlords with tenants at competition rents,
that is, determined by the land hunger of the Celt. The transformation
would inevitably go on, for its causes would operate with intense force;
and before many years probably two-thirds of Ireland would have become a
land of mere peasant landlords placed over a mass of rack-rented
tenants.'[147] The creation of a universal 'peasant proprietary,' by
force, would, in fact, bring the Irish land system back by degrees into
the state in which it was before the Great Famine, when millions of
serfdom squatted on the soil, disorganising agriculture and preventing
social progress.

These considerations, however, by no means exhaust the case against the
compulsory purchase of the rented land of Ireland. Irish landlords have
been decried, for an evil purpose, during many years; their position is
difficult and open to attack; but if they are an unpopular class, they
have been a civilising influence in Ireland of real value, the most
civilising influence, perhaps, in her three southern provinces. Their
annihilation, despoiled and impoverished as they are, would still withdraw
a large fund from Irish rural labour; and it would be most injurious to
agriculture in many ways, especially as regards main and arterial
drainage, an absolute necessity for the Irish soil, and scarcely possible
except under a system of large estates. Their extinction, too, Englishmen
ought not to forget, would deprive the State of one of its mainstays in
Ireland; the idea to the contrary growing up is a mere delusion; it was
not for nothing that Parnell and Davitt described this order of men as
'the British garrison' and insisted that were it once out of the fortress
the power of England in Ireland would certainly perish. The conversion of
Irish farmers universally into landowners would also have a ruinous effect
on many Irish industries. It would do infinite harm to many branches of
commerce, especially to trades of the higher type; it would be disastrous
to such towns as Dublin and Belfast, already beginning to protest against
it; and, whatever may be said, the prospect of it is dreaded by
agricultural Irish labourers as a class, which has always been ill-treated
by their masters, the farmers, though, owing to the influence of priests
and demagogues, they are unwilling to express the sentiments they really
feel. Compulsory purchase, in fact, is by no means so generally asked for
in Ireland as is supposed; her representation demands it by a great
majority of votes; but this representation, as I have pointed out before,
is not a true index of Irish opinion. Another consideration, too, should
be taken into account in coming to a reasonable conclusion on this
subject. The land system of England and Scotland, from a variety of causes
sufficiently known, is essentially different from that of Ireland;
politically, socially, economically, it has little in common with it. But
were Parliament to declare that the whole tenant class of Ireland were to
be transformed into fee simple owners, subject only to renders, much less
than true rents, and payable for a short space of time, I much doubt if
English and Scottish tenants would acquiesce, and would not agitate for
legislation of a similar kind, especially as British agriculture is still
heavily depressed. Leaseholders of large houses in towns, for long terms
of years, at ground rents, and a whole class of builders, assuredly would
join in such a demand; the contagion of revolution and socialism is always
perilous. English and Scottish landlords have usually played the part of
the Jew to the Samaritan as regards their Irish fellows; but 'proximus
ardet Ucalegon' might be borne in mind.[148]

The Irish land system, therefore, from every point of view, is simply in a
deplorable state; it is an economic and social chaos, pregnant with
mischiefs and dangers of many kinds. Confiscation has wrought its work on
the Irish landlord; has shaken the structure of Irish society; and has
produced its inevitable results in banishing capital from the land, and in
dealing a weighty blow to Irish credit. The legislation of 1881, and of
subsequent years, has conferred immense advantages on the tenant class in
Ireland; but these have fallen short of what might be supposed; this class
declares itself to be dissatisfied with its lot; it is clamouring for the
wholesale transfer to itself of the rented lands of Ireland, through what
is known as compulsory purchase, that is, corruption and spoliation
combined in an act of the State. And these efforts of legislation,
essentially unwise, in direct conflict with fact and economic science, a
mere makeshift to stave off agitation and trouble, are, in all
probability, by no means the worst. Demoralisation has spread throughout
Irish landed relations, affecting them, unfortunately, in many ways;
divisions of class have been made worse, as well as the old divisions of
race and faith; respect for contracts and obligations has been destroyed;
dishonesty and thriftlessness have been favoured, and industry and honesty
not encouraged; an evil spirit of discontent and desire for change is
abroad; agriculture is plainly on the decline; there is nothing secure or
settled in the land. Vicious as the Irish land system unquestionably was
before Mr. Gladstone first took it in hand, I believe that, having regard
to the general interests of the State, it is still more vicious at the
present time; it has been transformed, but, on the whole, transformed for
the worse. As I wrote before, when commenting on the position of affairs
in Ireland, before the Land Act of 1870, a revolution only could have
removed the deep-rooted ills in all that related to the land; a revolution
alone could remove them now. But in the one instance, as in the other, the
evil caused by a revolution would be infinitely greater than the good; a
new agrarian revolution in Ireland would be a curse to her; it is better,
as Burke has remarked, to try to repair even ruins than to blot out every
trace of the edifice. Still, taking it as we find it, can nothing be done
to amend, in some measure, at least, the existing land system? Much of it,
I admit, must be left untouched; the principle of settling rent, through
the agency of the State, false as it is, must continue to work; the
principle of so-called 'land purchase' must, within reasonable limits, be
still given free scope. But something in the nature of reform is, I think,
possible; the discussion of the subject may be of use; I contribute my
mite to it, if with unfeigned diffidence.

In order to find out the truth, and thoroughly to clear the ground, a
Commission, I suggest, ought to be appointed, as important as the Devon
Commission of nearly sixty years ago; it should investigate the Irish Land
Question in all its branches. Its President should be a great English
nobleman--the nation would have confidence in the Duke of Bedford, a
princely and most liberal English landlord; but the judicial element
should be strong in it; English and Irish judges should be among its
members; it should include trained agricultural experts: it should have
representatives of Irish landlords and tenants. It should examine the
Irish land system as this existed before 1870; should review the whole
series of Irish Land Acts, from 1870 to the present time, and inquire into
their results and tendencies; should carefully consider the operation of
the tribunals selected to carry out the new Irish land code, especially as
regards the fixing of 'fair rents,' and that not with respect to their
procedure only, an unjust limit imposed on the Fry Commission, but with
respect to the principles that have been adopted and the methods pursued;
it should deal exhaustively with the subject of so-called 'land purchase,'
and see whether it has not directly led to the demand for compulsory
purchase; it should take evidence as to 'peasant proprietary' and its
creation; and it should make a complete and searching report, with a view
to the legislation it might recommend. And if I am not altogether
mistaken, such a Commission would state, in emphatic language, that the
present Irish land code was ill designed, even if it cannot be now much
changed; that its administration has been attended with grave errors; that
cruel wrong has been done to Irish landlords, while Irish tenants have not
obtained what was hoped for; that the economic and social results have
been deplorable; that if 'land purchase' cannot be stopped, it is a bad
expedient on its present lines, and that the cry for compulsory purchase
has been its evident effect; and that extensive, still more universal
peasant ownership, is an impossible and would be a pernicious policy.
Finally, if I am not much mistaken again, such a Commission would report
that a reform of the Irish land system, if very difficult, should be
attempted; and that, in its main scope and operation at least, it should
be carried out on the side of land tenure, that is, in the relations of
landlord and tenant, as has been the opinion of every thinker from Burke
onwards, who has not been swayed by the exigencies of agitation, or of
party politics.

I proceed briefly to put my scheme forward, assuming that I have made a
reasonably correct forecast. I may say it has been a subject of reflection
during many years, indeed, since the legislation of 1881; Mr. Gladstone,
in his place in the House of Commons, pointedly approved of a tract in
which I set forth my views; and so, curiously enough, did Parnell. It is
impossible, I have said, to transform the existing system of Irish land
tenure; a wide departure from it cannot be made; but improvement is really
feasible within certain limits. My object would be to get rid of palpable
evils, inseparable from the present state of things; to make the positions
of both Irish landlords and tenants in some degree better than they now
are; to place the Irish land system on a somewhat less precarious basis.
In the first place, the law as to the exemption of tenants' improvements
from rent, an excrescence on the Land Act of 1881, and made extravagant by
the Land Act of 1896, should be restricted in its application to some
extent; as it stands, it is a fruitful cause of injustice, of
demoralisation, and of hard swearing, producing endless litigation to very
little purpose; claims in respect of improvements ought to be more
limited, in point of time, than they are; a check should be placed on
obsolete and illusory claims; this would be advantageous, I think, to all
interests involved. Again, it would be impracticable to exclude from the
operation of the present land code lands that have been already brought
within its scope; but a more precise definition should be made of the
lands that are intended to be now excluded--demesnes, town parks,
residential holdings, and large pastoral farms; the decisions of the
Courts, in this province, are very perplexing; a good definition would
make litigation very considerably less. These changes, I am convinced,
would do much appreciable good; but I would go a long way farther in
attempting to make the status of both landlord and tenant in Ireland less
insecure and vexatious than it now is. In the first place, leaving lands
now excluded out, I would make all agricultural and pastoral Irish tenants
entitled to the tenure of the 'Three F's,' removing the prohibition as to
'future tenants,' a distinction that never ought to have been made, and,
as far as possible, securing this mode of tenure to the poorest tenants,
by means to which I shall advert afterwards. In the next place, I would
make an earnest effort to lessen the ruinous litigation and the
instability caused by the statutory leases renewable at short intervals of
time. The tenant should have 'fixity of tenure' in a real sense; the
estate created in his favour against the landlord ought not to be one of
fifteen years only, however indefinitely it may be extended; I would
prefer to see it an estate for ever; but, as in the present state of
agriculture, there would be objections to this, on account of the
uncertainty of the rate of rent, it might be an estate for a limited term.
But the term ought not to be less than thirty years at least, renewable,
of course, like the shorter term of fifteen; this would quiet possession
and get rid of lawsuits for the period of a generation of men. The tenant
should retain his right of 'free sale;' but I would make the conditions
less stringent than they are under the existing law.

The position of the Irish tenant would thus be greatly improved; the
sphere of the 'Three F's' would be largely extended; he would have 'fixity
of tenure,' for a long time, at least, without the hazard and loss of
litigation every fifteen years; his right of 'free sale' would be less
restricted; and he would have distinct advantages, as respects 'fair
rent,' under the part of my plan I am about to explain. I turn to the
position of the Irish 'landlord'--I still use this expression and that of
'tenant,' though both words are hardly applicable to existing facts; this,
too, in my judgment, would be made much better. The estate that is now
created against him would still be preserved; I wish it were a perpetual
estate, but it would be one for thirty years at least; he would,
therefore, remain assimilated to a rent-charger, as he is at present. But
like his tenant he would be comparatively free from lawsuits; he would be
less harassed by claims in respect of improvements; he would have, in many
particulars, a more stable tenure. He should, of course, retain the
'royalties' still reserved to him--mines, minerals, timber, and such
things; and he should have the title to the statutory conditions he now
has; but as his reversionary rights would be somewhat lessened, he should
be compensated for these by a small money payment. With one great
exception he should have the legal remedies to enforce the rights he now
possesses; and that exception would be of great importance. I have always
thought the law of ejectment for non-payment of rent harsh; it is an
innovation on the ancient Common Law; it sometimes causes forfeitures far
from just; it is not properly applicable to tenancies of long duration. I
would certainly abolish this mode of procedure; I would instead of it give
the landlord a power to sell the tenant's lands, by a procedure analogous
to that of bankruptcy, should default be made in the payment of the rent,
or rather the rent-charge that might be due. The advantage to both
landlord and tenant would be great: the first would have a remedy more
expeditious and just than he has; the second, should the land be sold and
lost to him, would, as a rule, have a surplus over and above his debts;
unlike what is sometimes the case in evictions, he would realise for
himself his whole legitimate interest in the land. This single reform
would do much to make 'fair rent' a less onerous charge than it now is.

By these means the status of the Irish landlord would be made by many
degrees more secure; the Irish tenant would acquire an interest in the
land much more durable and stable than he has now, in fact, nearly
equivalent to full ownership, subject to a rent-charge; and if his
interest were made a perpetuity, as I hope would be the case at last, he
would be assimilated to an owner subject to a perpetual rent, or to an
English copyholder subject to a similar render. This is the position Burke
proposed he should have, considerably more than a century ago;[149] it is
that which has been advocated by John Stuart Mill, and, I am happy to add,
by Mr. John Morley; it is the only position, compatible with common sense
and justice, which the new Irish land code has left possible, for I put
the quackery of compulsory purchase out of sight, and voluntary purchase
is a bad half-measure. The great subject of fixing rent by the State would
remain; for, unjustifiable as this expedient is, it is impossible, after
what has happened, to dispense with it. Without imputing personal motives
or moral blame to any one, the Land Commission and its Sub-Commissions
ought, I am convinced, to cease to be the agency to fix 'fair rents;'
however unconsciously, in my judgment, they have often proceeded on false
principles, and have done immense, if not wilful wrong; they are decried
by landlords and tenants alike in Ireland. Besides, there is a
constitutional objection to their adjusting rent; the Land Commission is
entrusted with the task of carrying out 'land purchase;' it has a direct
inducement to whittle rents away, in order to facilitate the sale of land;
its interest and its duty are thus placed in conflict. Be this as it may,
my plan for fixing 'fair rents' in Ireland by the State would be
altogether different. In the first place, a definition of 'fair rent'
should be made by statute, and should dominate, so to speak, the subject;
the omission of this criterion has caused grave injustice. This having
been made, I would adjust Irish rents by a method much better, I believe,
than that now in existence. A body of competent and well-paid valuers of
land should be formed--there would be no difficulty about this in
Ireland; these men should visit, when required, estates; and having heard
what landlords and tenants had to say on the spot, should declare what
they consider the 'fair rents' of farms, making a deduction for
improvements as arranged by a reformed law, and taking waste and
deterioration into account. The reports made by the valuers should be
complete and explicit; they would probably satisfy landlords and tenants
in most instances; but dissatisfied persons should have a right to an
appeal, which should be a full rehearing of all the facts in issue; but
the appeal should be at the peril of costs against unsuccessful suitors.
The tribunals to decide the appeals should, I suggest, be composed of two
eminent judges, for each of the four provinces, assisted by trained
agricultural experts; but the authority of the judges should prevail on
all questions. From these Courts a further appeal should run to the Court
of Appeal in Ireland, on all matters of law and fact, and ultimately
should run to the House of Lords; the present restricted appeal to the
Land Commission has been little better than a sorry mockery of right.

The scheme I propose has obvious defects; it sanctions the vicious
principle of State-settled rents, a thing unknown in lands outside of
Ireland, a defiance of the simplest axioms of economic science. But it
endeavours at least to improve a bad system of tenure dealing with
accomplished facts now beyond recall; I certainly think it would make the
relations of Irish landlords and tenants better than they are, and would
tend to place both classes in the positions which, as affairs now stand,
they will probably, in the long run, occupy. As regards 'alternative
policies,' as they have been called, I have set forth the reasons that the
compulsory purchase of the Irish land would be, I believe, impossible,
and, were it possible, would be a confiscation of the foullest kind,
ruinous to Great Britain and Ireland alike. I have also shown how the
present system of so-styled 'voluntary purchase' is, in my judgment,
essentially immoral, and pregnant with dangers; and I have indicated the
results being already produced. That system, however, must go on; for the
present it cannot be arrested; a Conservative Government still pins its
faith on it, as a Whig Government, half a century ago, pinned its faith on
the Encumbered Estates Act; but a 'peasant proprietary' rooted in
corruption will hardly succeed, and 'voluntary purchase' draws the worst
kind of distinctions in Irish land tenure. The acceleration, indeed, of
this 'remedy' has been deemed advisable; and as long as the sum voted by
Parliament is not expended, the system evidently must continue in force.
Some of its evils, however, would be lessened were the State to reserve to
itself the woodland, which tenant 'purchasers,' as a rule, cut down and
sell; and if tenants proved to be solvent were compelled to advance part
of the money required to transfer their lands to themselves. It is
revolting to my mind to see a wealthy Irish farmer bribed into the
ownership of his farm by an Act of the State, without having paid a
shilling of the price. I commend this spectacle to the hard-pressed
general taxpayer.

I need hardly say that, under the scheme I propose, existing interests of
tenants should remain intact, and statutory leases should be allowed to
come to an end, before a change should be made by law in the position they
hold. The question of compensating the Irish landlords would remain; a
very few words on this will suffice. I must remind the reader, as I have
already shown, that the Land Act of 1881 was passed on the condition that,
should experience prove that real injury had been done to this order of
men, their right to indemnity would be plain; Mr. Gladstone's language was
unequivocal; the House of Commons approved. Nor can any reasonable doubt
exist that the course of legislation from 1881 to 1896 has confiscated the
property of the class to an immense extent; the simple fact that the
value in Ireland of the fee simple in land has been reduced by a third at
least, and that the value of the tenant right has been increased in about
the same proportion, points to a conclusion evident to impartial minds. I
am satisfied as to what would be the report on this subject of the
Commission I should wish to see appointed; it could not avoid drawing an
inference that cannot be resisted. The question, therefore, will have to
be faced; the good faith of Parliament is virtually at stake; and if a
pledge made in the name of the State is not to be broken, the right of the
Irish landlords to compensation is complete. Independently, too, of
considerations of this kind, it is a recognised principle that should a
policy have caused loss to a class, the State is morally bound to make the
loss up; a violation of this principle is unjust and dangerous alike. I
quote from John Stuart Mill on this very question: 'The principle of
property gives the landowners no right to the land, but only a right to
compensation for whatever portion of their interest in the land it may be
the policy of the State to deprive them of. To that their claim is
indefeasible. It is due to landowners and to owners of any property
whatever, recognised as such by the State, that they should not be
dispossessed of it without receiving its pecuniary value, or an annual
income equal to what they have derived from it. If the land was bought
with the produce of the labour of themselves or their ancestors,
compensation is due to them on that ground; even if otherwise, it is still
due on the ground of prescription. Nor can it ever be necessary for
accomplishing an object by which the community altogether will gain, that
a particular portion of the community should be immolated. When the
property is of a kind to which peculiar affections attach themselves, the
compensation ought to exceed a bare pecuniary equivalent.... The
legislature, which, if it pleased, might convert the whole body of
landlords into fundholders or pensioners, might, _à fortiori_, commute
the average receipts of Irish landowners into a fixed rent-charge, and
raise the tenants into proprietors; supposing always that the full market
value of the land was tendered to the landlords, in case they preferred
that to accepting the conditions proposed.'[150]

Assuming, then, the case for compensating the Irish landlords to have been
made out, compensation can be afforded without the loss of a shilling to
the State. The _bonâ fide_ encumbrances on their estates, that is, those
which represent advances in cash, are now at an interest of from 4 to 5
per cent.; the State could pay off those which were perfectly secure at an
interest of 2-1/4 per cent., and could make the landlords chargeable with
interest at 3 per cent., in order to provide against possible loss. As for
encumbrances that were not perfectly secure, the State should only pay off
what was well charged; but it should do this on the same conditions; and
it should declare hopeless encumbrances extinct. This would be a
considerable and just boon to the Irish landlords; the securities taken
by the State should be in the form of debentures, which would pass from
hand to hand in the market; and many owners of encumbrances would no doubt
accept sums less than their full demands, for these, they well know, are
at present in danger. I would go, however, farther in relieving the Irish
landlords; their estates are subject to a mass of family charges created
under a different order of things; if the State has arbitrarily cut down
the fund set apart for these, by a wholesale reduction of rents, I cannot
understand how it is not the simplest justice to cut the charges down in
some fair proportion. At all events, I make these suggestions for what
they may be worth; if right is to be done to the Irish landed gentry, and
a gross breach of public faith is not to be made, some relief of this kind
should be extended to them. Very possibly this will not be afforded; but I
venture to remind politicians that even an unpopular class cannot be
cruelly wronged and sacrificed, without doing injury to all classes, and
shaking to their foundations the clear rights of property. And I openly
avow that, in my judgment, it would be in the highest degree against the
national interest to annihilate this body of men, as must probably happen,
should things in Ireland be left as they are. What if they are the heirs
of conquest and confiscation in the past? Is that a reason for destroying
them after the lapse of centuries, and when England planted them in the
land to be her mainstay? What if, in instances, comparatively few in the
extreme, they have abused the social trust imposed on them? Was not this
because the opportunity was given by law, and was not the law the work of
successive Parliaments? Is it not a fact that British ministers, so to
speak, of yesterday, declared that they were secure in their proprietary
rights; and that Mr. Gladstone solemnly acquitted them of what had been
laid to their charge? On the other hand, have they not been for ages the
staunchest friends of England in Irish affairs, especially in troubled
and perilous times? Is it for nothing that they have been called the
British garrison by her foes, the strongest obstacle to rebellion and
treason? And is a class, which has, on the whole, been a civilising
influence, for many years, in Ireland, and which has given the State far
more than a due proportion of worthies--warriors, orators, statesmen,
thinkers, men of eminence in all the arts of life--to be sacrificed at the
bidding of a conspiracy bent on subverting British rule in Ireland, or in
deference to false and perilous theories?



CHAPTER VII

THE QUESTION OF THE FINANCIAL RELATIONS BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND

    The subject briefly considered--Financial position of Ireland before
    1782, and under Grattan's Parliament--Her taxation and debt small
    before 1798--Ireland financially a distinct country--At the Union,
    Pitt wished to 'assimilate her in finance' with Great Britain, but
    this impossible, and why--Ireland's contribution after the Union--This
    was unjust, but it left her financially a distinct country--Ireland
    made nearly bankrupt--The compromise of 1816--The Irish Exchequer
    closed, and the Irish and British debts consolidated--The object of
    the compromise was rather to relieve Ireland from her burdens than to
    assimilate her in finance with Great Britain--She still remained for
    many years financially distinct from Great Britain, and is so still to
    some extent--The conduct of Peel a striking proof of this--Mr.
    Gladstone imposes the income tax on Ireland, and her spirit duties are
    largely raised--Injustice of this policy--The Committee of
    1863-64--Ireland does not obtain financial justice--The Report of the
    Childers Commission made upon a reference by Mr. Gladstone following
    Mr. Goschen--The Commission declares that Ireland has been greatly
    overtaxed for many years--Evidence on which it has founded this
    conclusion--Examination of arguments to the contrary--Another
    Commission promised, but the promise not fulfilled--Importance of
    settling this question.


The financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland have been a
subject, at intervals of time, no doubt, of strong controversy during a
whole century. I shall not harp on the saying of Johnson to an Irish
friend, 'Avoid a Union with England, she will only rob you;' but, in the
opinion of well-informed Irishmen, the fiscal treatment of Ireland, since
1800-01, strikingly illustrates the significant remark of Burke, 'When any
community is subordinately connected with another, the great danger of the
connection is, the extreme pride and self-complacency of the superior,
which, in all matters of controversy, will probably decide in its own
favour.' There is no reason to impeach the good faith of Pitt and
Castlereagh; but the financial arrangements they made for Ireland, when
the Union became law, were denounced by the most distinguished Irishmen of
the day; these imposed on Ireland an overwhelming burden, and, in fact,
reduced her to the very edge of bankruptcy. A compromise was effected in
1816-17; this has been described as a generous boon to Ireland; but it was
at best a slight relief from injustice; and it weakened securities she had
against fiscal exaction, while it involved her in liabilities which, if
remote, were not the less possible. It is a most significant fact that
Peel, who, as Chief Secretary from 1812 to 1818, was familiar with the
economic state of Ireland, refused, though under the strongest
inducements, to apply to Ireland the fiscal charges extended to her by one
of his brilliant successors; the most sagacious financier of the
nineteenth century played, in this matter, a very different part from the
most impulsive and not the least unscrupulous. In 1853, and from thence in
other years, Mr. Gladstone, in order to carry out a policy distinctly
opposed to many Irish interests, subjected Ireland to a sudden and heavy
load of taxation, exactly at the time when, for the plainest reasons, she
ought to have been exempted from it; from that day to this, Irishmen, who
understand the question, are agreed that this was gross, nay, cruel,
injustice. The whole subject of British and Irish financial relations was
sent by Mr. Gladstone to a Commission in 1893, here following the example
of Mr. Goschen; a careful inquiry was held during many months; the Report
of the Commission was startling and important in the extreme. This
tribunal, mainly composed of eminent English experts, announced, and that
almost with one voice, that Ireland was being enormously overtaxed, and
had been for upwards of forty years; and it plainly intimated that a
remedy for this wrong should be found. No real answer has been made to
this remarkable judgment; the attempts at answers that have been made are
nearly all mere trifling; Lord Salisbury's Government evidently believes
that an answer is not possible; it promised to appoint another Commission
to investigate certain parts of the subject; years have passed, and it has
not performed its promise. Meanwhile, even amidst the hurly-burly of Irish
politics, Irishmen of all parties have united in a demand for redress; and
if the demand is not pressed with extreme vehemence, it is sustained by
all that is best in Irish opinion. It is obviously unwise, and it may
become dangerous, to continue to ignore such a claim; in any event the
financial relations of the Three Kingdoms are not the least important of
'Present Irish Questions;' I shall briefly examine it in this chapter.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the financial relations of Great Britain and
Ireland before 1782 and the Union. England held the position of an
absolutely dominant State before 1782, Ireland that of a conquered and
despised colony; Ireland was under the control of the British Parliament,
and was governed by English officials supreme at the Castle. Ireland was
excluded from the foreign and colonial trade of Great Britain; her
agriculture and manufactures were half destroyed by the selfish jealousy
and greed of her imperious neighbour. She contributed, on the other hand,
nothing to the treasury of the ruling power; she had little or no part in
British wars, or in building up the edifice of the Empire, except through
her soldiers in the British army; she was free from British debt and from
British taxation. In these circumstances, grievous as was the incubus of
Protestant ascendency upon the land, it is remarkable what material
progress she made; her Parliament, though little more than a local vestry,
unquestionably promoted her material welfare; she was very lightly taxed,
and was free from debt for many years. She was still so completely
distinct from Great Britain, that it was not until 1769 that her
Parliament agreed that 15,000 men, of whom 12,000 were to remain in
Ireland, should be enrolled for the defence of the State; before that
time, she was only obliged to maintain a small British force within her
borders. After a partial relaxation of the restraints on her commerce
caused by the stress of the American War, and by the famous volunteer
movement, Ireland obtained legislative independence in 1782; she ceased to
be subject to the British Parliament, and to fill the position of a
degraded colony; she became, in theory at least, an independent State in
many respects. Her Parliament was all but sovereign in name; Ireland was
now united to Great Britain only by the link of the Crown; by an executive
always despatched from Downing Street; and, it must be added, by the
corruption of her Houses of Lords and Commons. She was thus more than ever
a distinct country; in fact, most British statesmen had soon perceived
that the celebrated settlement of 1782 greatly weakened her old connection
with England. She advanced, however, markedly in prosperity for many
years, until the French Revolution arrested this; her debt was little more
than £2,000,000 for a long time, her taxation only about £1,000,000. But
by the close of the eighteenth century these figures had been disastrously
changed; her debt had risen to upwards of £28,000,000, her taxation to
about £2,500,000. This great increase had been partly caused by the costly
expenditure of her transformed Parliament, which had spent considerable
sums on public works, and on economic experiments of different kinds; but
five-sixths of it was probably caused by the enormous charge incurred by
the Rebellion of 1798--one of the most woeful tragedies of Irish
history--and by the suppression of that ill-starred movement.[151]

The Rebellion led at once to the Union; it precipitated what had perhaps
become a necessity of State. The great measure of Pitt was badly designed,
and was, moreover, tainted by a grave breach of faith; it was only what
was called a 'Protestant Union,' that is, it rested upon false and narrow
foundations; it deceived Catholic Ireland, and did her gross wrong; above
all, it did not effect its main object, and incorporate the lesser with
the more powerful country. It left Ireland, hitherto completely distinct,
still, to a very considerable extent, a distinct State; she retained a
separate Government and Administration, separate Courts of Justice, a
separate Exchequer for many years; this shadow of separation, as Foster,
one of her ablest worthies, foretold, would give a demand for separation
substance.[152] The financial arrangements between Great Britain and
Ireland were practically altogether the work of Pitt. A disciple of Adam
Smith, the minister's wish was to 'assimilate the two countries in
finance;' to place both under the same fiscal system, to make taxation in
both uniform. But in 1800, the National Debt of Great Britain was more
than £446,000,000, and her taxation was about £3 a head; the National
Debt of Ireland, we have seen, was some £28,000,000, and her taxation by
the head not more than 10_s._; this immense inequality made 'assimilation
in finance' impossible. Besides, Pitt, as a matter of course, knew that
Great Britain was a very rich country, and Ireland perhaps the poorest in
Europe; he was too great a financier to accept the false and shallow
theory that, as between two communities wholly unequal in wealth, equal
taxes were really equal burdens, and could be just; he had emphatically
remarked in 1785, when his celebrated 'Commercial Propositions' were
opposed by the selfish monopolies of British commerce, 'If one country
exceeded another in wealth, population, and established commerce in a
proportion of two to one, he was nearly convinced that that country would
be able to bear near ten times the burden that the other would be equal
to.'[153] It had become necessary, therefore, at the time of the Union, to
place the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland on a basis
that had nothing in common with uniformity of taxation, and a common
fiscal system; 'assimilation in finance' was for the present to be
indefinitely postponed.

The financial settlement made at the Union distinctly embodied these
principles, and was carried by Castlereagh through the Irish Parliament,
by what methods history records with shame. Like Pitt, the Chief Secretary
looked forward to a time when Great Britain and Ireland might be under the
same fiscal system; but at this juncture, this consummation was, he
acknowledged, hopeless. Ireland was, financially, to remain a separate
country; she was to have a separate exchequer and separate taxes; her
National Debt was to be kept distinct from that of Great Britain. She was
to furnish only a contribution to the State; and Castlereagh declared,
over and over again, that this contribution was to be only in proportion
to her means, and that in no event was she to be unduly taxed. 'The great
point to be ascertained is the best criterion that can be found of the
relative means of the two countries, in order to fix the relative
proportions of their contributions.... As to the future, it is expected
that the two countries will move forward together, and unite with regard
to their expenses in the measure of their relative abilities.' By a
comparison made between British and Irish imports and exports, and between
the values of certain commodities, Castlereagh came to the conclusion that
the contributions which Great Britain and Ireland ought to be expected to
make for the general support and administration of the State, should be,
respectively, fifteen- and two-seventeenths, that is, Great Britain was to
pay about 88 per cent., and Ireland about 12 per cent. of the sum total.
This proportion was to be made liable to revision at the end of twenty
years; for this provision, Castlereagh remarked, gave 'Ireland the utmost
possible security that she cannot be taxed beyond the measure of her
comparative ability, and that the ratio of her contributions must ever
correspond with her relative wealth and prosperity;' and then followed
arrangements which undoubtedly had the 'assimilation of Great Britain and
Ireland in finance' remotely in view; but subject to limitations that
would preserve for Ireland her fiscal rights, and would secure her from
taxation beyond her means, and unjust. It was proposed that if, at some
future time, the debts of both countries should be discharged, or if their
debts and their contributions were in the same proportion, Great Britain
and Ireland might be 'assimilated in finance,' and placed under the same
fiscal system; but this was to be on two express conditions, that the
circumstances of the two countries should admit of this change, and that,
in any case, should the change be made, Ireland--as was the case of
Scotland when her Union took place-should have the benefit of such
'exemptions and abatements' of taxation as might be deemed proper, and
the circumstances of the situation might allow. The meaning of the
technical words, 'exemptions and abatements,' interpreted of late years in
a pettifogging sense, was fully recognised at the time, and for a long
subsequent period, indeed, has been recognised to this day by most of our
leading statesmen, namely, that Ireland was not to be taxed unfairly or
beyond her resources, as Castlereagh had repeatedly promised.[154]

The Opposition in the Irish Parliament had many able lawyers--the names of
Saurin, of Plunket, of Bushe are still known to fame; it is to be
regretted, perhaps, that these powerful minds did not examine with more
jealousy the conditions under which Great Britain and Ireland might be
'assimilated in finance,' distant as the contingency appeared to be; did
not criticise more sharply words that might be wrested from their accepted
sense; and trusted too much to Castlereagh's phrases. But the attention of
the Opposition was rather directed to the Union in its political than in
its financial aspect; it rather denounced the attempt to destroy the
settlement of 1782 than scrutinised the terms of the fiscal system to be
imposed on Ireland, at least, as these were concerned with the future. The
arrangements, nevertheless, by which Ireland was to make the contribution
of the two-seventeenths were fiercely assailed in both the Houses in
College Green; Foster described the calculations of Pitt and Castlereagh
as utterly false, and declared that the charge to be borne by Ireland was
much too large; Grattan echoed this opinion in characteristic language:
'Though I do not think the means of this country are unequal to any
necessary expense, yet I do think they are inadequate to that contributory
expense which the Union stipulates.... The attempt will exhaust the
country, at the same time that it enslaves her. Colour it as you please,
Ireland will pay more than she is able. Considering these the terms of the
Union so far as they relate to revenue, they amount to a continuation of
the double establishment, an increase of the separate establishment, and a
military government, with a prospect of soon succeeding to the full taxes
of England.'[155] The Opposition, too, in the Irish House of Commons
loudly protested: 'Your Majesty's faithful Commons are satisfied that this
calculation is extremely erroneous; and that on a just and fair inquiry
into the comparative means of each country, the Kingdom ought not, and is
not able to contribute anything like that proportion.'[156] And twenty
Irish peers placed this emphatic protest on record; I have space for a few
sentences only: 'Under such circumstances, it appears to us that if this
Kingdom should take upon herself irrevocably the payment of
two-seventeenths of these expenses, she will not have means to perform her
engagements unless by charging her landed property with 12_s._ or 13_s._
in the pound; it must end in the draining from her her last guinea, in
totally annihilating her trade for want of capital, in rendering the taxes
unproductive, and consequently in finally putting her in a state of
bankruptcy. We think ourselves called upon to protest against a measure so
ruinous to our country, and to place the responsibility of its
consequences upon such persons as have brought it forward and supported
it.'[157]

The Treaty of Union left Ireland, financially, still a separate country,
paying a fixed contribution for the uses of the State. The great war with
France soon broke out again; England was involved with Napoleon in a
life-and-death struggle; her fiscal resources were strained to the utmost;
her expenditure became prodigious for a series of years. In these
circumstances, the debt of Ireland rose from £28,000,000 to upwards of
£112,000,000; and her taxation from about £2,500,000 to about £4,500,000;
while the debt of Great Britain advanced from some £446,000,000 to some
£737,000,000, and her taxation from some £24,000,000 to £54,000,000; the
taxation of Ireland being by the head about £1 in 1816, that of Great
Britain being about £5, the figures sixteen years before being 10_s._ and
£3. The immense increase in the debt of Ireland, much greater in
proportion than that of Great Britain, was certainly due to a large extent
to the fact--and this was frankly admitted by Grattan--that the poorer
country could not keep pace with the richer in the gigantic charges of the
war; the case, it has justly been remarked, may be compared to a case of
this kind: 'If one man, A, who has been living at the rate of £100 per
annum, arranges to keep house with another man, B, who has for some time
been living at the rate of £700 per annum, and to spend £1 for every £7
which B spends, then so long as B continues to live at the same rate as
before, the expenses of A will not be increased. But if B begins to live
at the rate of £2100 a year, A will have to spend £300 a year, and if his
means are not sufficient for this, he must become bankrupt.'[158]
Allowing, nevertheless, for all this, it is not the less certain that the
calculations of Pitt and Castlereagh were utterly falsified by the event,
and that the warnings of Foster, Grattan, and other well-informed
Irishmen, besides the protests made in the Irish Parliament, were verified
to the fullest extent; as has been remarked by a distinguished English
expert, 'The calculations of Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, the ministers
who promoted the Union, and who declared that Ireland would be able to
pay, and ought to pay, two-seventeenths of the joint expenses of the
United Kingdom, turned out to be mistaken, and the opinions of Mr.
Grattan, Mr. Foster, and other Irish members, who denied that she would be
able to contribute so large a proportion, are proved by the event to have
been well founded.'[159]

This contrast, it is hardly necessary to say, to persons acquainted with
Irish history, is only one of the innumerable proofs of the ignorance of
Ireland too common to British statesmen, and of their too common disregard
of the best Irish opinion. In 1815-16, at the close of the war, Ireland
was financially in a bankrupt condition; she could not pay the interest on
her debt; she could not bear the weight of further taxation; she was
exhausted and sucked dry by fiscal injustice. Her social state, too, had
become very alarming; her population had rapidly increased, and, mainly
depending on the frail potato, was already becoming an incubus on the
land; the collapse of the high war prices had caused a sudden fall in
rents and the wages of labour; there was general distress in several
counties, and Whiteboy and agrarian disorder widely prevailed. The
financial position of Ireland was necessarily taken up by Parliament; a
Committee of the House of Commons was selected to report upon it. By this
time one of the contingencies had taken place for the possible
'assimilation in finance' with Great Britain of the much weaker country;
the contribution of Ireland, compared with her debt, was even in less
proportion than the contribution of Great Britain to her own; she had been
left far behind in the effort to pay her way. In this position of affairs
the Committee made its report, after a long and careful examination of the
case; the House of Commons passed these resolutions in May, 1816: 'That it
is the opinion of this Committee that the values of the respective debts
of Great Britain and Ireland, estimated according to the provisions of the
Acts of Union, have been, at a period subsequent to these Acts, in the
same proportion to each other (within one-hundredth part of the said
value), with the respective contributions of each country respectively,
towards the annual expenditure of the United Kingdom; and that the
respective circumstances of the two countries will henceforth admit of
their contributing indiscriminately by equal taxes imposed upon the same
articles upon each, to the future expenditure of the United Kingdom;
subject only to such particular exemptions and abatements in Ireland and
in Scotland as circumstances may appear from time to time to demand; and
that it is no longer necessary to regulate the contribution of the two
countries according to any specific proportion, or according to the rules
prescribed by the Acts of Union, with respect to such proportions. That it
is the opinion of this Committee, that it is expedient that all expenses
henceforth to be incurred, together with the interest and charges of all
debts hitherto contracted, shall be so defrayed indiscriminately by equal
taxes to be imposed on the same articles in each country; and that from
time to time, as circumstances may require, such taxes should be imposed
and applied accordingly, subject only to such exemptions and abatements in
Ireland and Scotland as circumstances may appear to demand. That it is
the opinion of this Committee that such legislative measures should be
adopted as may be necessary to carry into further effect the purposes of
the said Acts of Union, by consolidating the public revenues of Great
Britain and Ireland into one fund, and applying the same to the general
services of the United Kingdom.'[160]

These resolutions were partly embodied in an Act which received the Royal
assent in June, 1816. By this law the separate exchequer of Ireland was
shut up; there was to be but one exchequer for the Three Kingdoms; all the
revenues of Great Britain and Ireland were thrown into a general fund to
be applied to the requirements of the State; the separate debt of Ireland
was fused into that of Great Britain, the two making a common National
Debt. By these means Ireland was relieved from an intolerable load of
debt; but those who contend that an immense boon was thus conferred on
her, only illustrate the aphorism of Burke referred to before; the matter
was decided by the opinion of the dominant power. Ireland, no doubt, was
set free from an overwhelming burden; but the burden was one improperly
cast on her by the Union; the relief was only a small redress of
injustice.[161] On the other hand, the arrangements of 1816 abolished the
contribution of the two-seventeenths, and made Ireland less a separate
country, financially, than she had been before; the resolutions of the
House of Commons did not all become law, but they at least declared that
she might become 'assimilated in finance' to Great Britain at a convenient
time, and thus diminished her security against undue taxation; and the
amalgamation of her debt with that of Great Britain made her subject, at
least conceivably, to a gigantic charge, for which she was not in any way
liable. The compromise, however, effected at this time, rather
contemplated the relief of Ireland from existing debt than her ultimate
'assimilation in finance to Great Britain,' and the extension to both
countries of the same fiscal system. For many years after 1816 Ireland
remained, financially, completely distinct from Great Britain, and under a
scheme of taxation altogether different. Nor is the reason difficult to
seek; she was declared entitled, by the resolutions before mentioned, to
the 'exemptions and abatements' secured to her by the Treaty of Union; and
the Parliament of that day respected the treaty, interpreting these terms
in their true sense, that Ireland was not to be taxed beyond her means.
Her fiscal wrongs, besides, from 1800 to 1816, were still fresh in the
minds of statesmen; these did not wish to repeat injustice; above all, she
had many representatives of real weight at Westminster--Grattan was a
tower of strength in himself, and he had very able followers; these men
would certainly have fiercely resented attempts to impair the financial
rights of their country.

The fiscal systems of Great Britain and Ireland, still altogether
distinct, continued nearly on this footing for a series of years. Great
Britain was gradually relieved from taxation peculiar to herself,
amounting to very considerable sums; Ireland was not relieved in the same
proportion; but this was hardly a real grievance; the taxation of Great
Britain during the war had been enormously higher than that of Ireland. In
1819-20 the charge on Great Britain, which had been about £5 per head, had
been reduced to £3 13_s._; that on Ireland, which had been about £1 a
head, had been reduced to 15_s._ 5_d._ There seems to have been little to
complain of in these figures. Some steps, however, but tentative only,
were made by degrees in 'assimilating the two countries in finance,'
according to the resolutions of 1816; the duties on tea were made equal
for the Three Kingdoms, and the duties on tobacco, as early as 1819; but
it deserves special notice that this policy was angrily opposed by many
Irishmen in the House of Commons, the most conspicuous of these being Sir
John Newport, a real master of Irish finance, who had been Chancellor of
the Irish Exchequer in 1806-07. Still, notwithstanding innovations like
these, the fiscal systems of Great Britain and Ireland remained
substantially distinct for a long period; this was notably made manifest
as late as 1842. At this time the population of England was in an alarming
state; the Chartist agitation was in full swing; British commerce was half
strangled by heavy duties on foreign imports; the corn laws crippled and
burdened industry. Peel was at the head of his great Ministry; he began to
carry into effect the policy of free trade, inaugurated by Pitt, but
unhappily delayed; in order to accomplish this he had to diminish or get
rid of the charges on foreign imports, and generally to substitute direct
for indirect taxation. He was under a strong temptation to 'assimilate
Great Britain and Ireland in finance;' but he had been a friend and
colleague of Castlereagh; he understood the true import of the Treaty of
Union; above all, he knew Ireland well for an Englishman; he had
practically been her ruler for nearly six years. In these circumstances he
imposed the income tax on Great Britain as an equivalent for many indirect
taxes; but he pointedly abstained from extending the tax to Ireland; he
felt that this would be an act of financial wrong; and though he increased
for a short time the duty on Irish spirits, he took off the increase
within a few months. The only 'assimilation in finance' he effected was to
make the stamp duties in Great Britain and Ireland equal, and this was
rather a legal than an economic reform.

The life of the great minister was prematurely cut short; time brought
with it its changes on its wings. The statesman who had living traditions
of the Union and its finance had passed away; O'Connell had disappeared
from the scene; the representation of Ireland had fallen into a
deplorable state. Meanwhile the free trade policy of Peel had achieved
great results in England and Scotland; free trade had given an immense
impulse to our manufactures and our foreign commerce; the repeal of the
corn laws had wonderfully quickened industry, and had been a magnificent
boon to the mass of the people; the prosperity of Great Britain was
advancing by leaps and bounds. The development of free trade was the
object of nearly all our statesmen; to accomplish this it was essential
still further to lessen or to abolish the duties on foreign imports, and
to let in the raw materials of manufactures free; indirect taxation was
still further to give place to direct. In 1853, and during part of the
subsequent period, our finances were in the hands of a minister whose
impulsive nature was upheld by a most imperious will, and who, whatever
was his policy, seldom stuck at trifles. Apparently without mature
reflection, and, it is to be hoped, with little knowledge of the facts of
the case, Mr. Gladstone, setting the example of Peel at nought, suddenly
subjected Ireland to the income tax, and began to raise the duties on
Irish spirits; by 1860 these duties had been more than trebled; and the
taxation of Ireland had been increased by upwards of two millions
sterling. And what were the circumstances, during a large part of this
period, of the country on which this enormous burden had been laid?
Ireland, no doubt, had begun to revive from the effects of the catastrophe
of 1845-47; but, compared with Great Britain, she was miserably poor; and
the Great Famine had shaken her social structure to its base. Two millions
of her population had fled from their homes into exile; a large part of
the upper and of the middle classes had been involved in ruin; whole
tracts of her lands were derelict wastes; her local taxation was
exceedingly high. The imposition of this load of taxation on a country in
such a condition, unjustifiable in the abstract, and from every point of
view, was, in the existing position of affairs, an act of cruel wrong; no
wonder even one of Mr. Gladstone's colleagues has remarked, measured as is
his language, 'We think that if the House of Commons, in the period 1853
to 1860, when the great enhancement of taxation took place, had fully
considered the circumstances of Ireland, they would not have felt
themselves justified in increasing the taxation of that country by means
of the income tax and the equalisation of the spirit duties.'[162] At this
time, in a word, the future Solon of Home Rule proved himself to be the
merciless Draco of Irish finance.

This great increase of taxation, to a considerable extent, 'assimilated
Ireland to Great Britain in finance;' placed the two countries under
nearly the same fiscal system; made the taxes of each not far from equal.
This assimilation, however, was still by no means complete--indeed, is not
complete to the present day; Ireland has still fiscal privileges under the
Treaty of Union; and this should be carefully borne in mind. Mr.
Gladstone, moreover, when he made this increase, acknowledged that Ireland
remained a distinct country, entitled to immunities of her own; when he
made her liable to the income tax, he cancelled a debt of £4,000,000 which
he professed she owed; and if this was an illusory pretence, for her
liability for this reason was more than doubtful, and the income tax she
has since paid has exceeded £23,000,000, still he distinctly admitted the
principle--indeed, it has always been admitted by statesmen worthy of the
name. The enormous new burdens imposed on Ireland, from 1853 to 1860,
provoked widespread and profound discontent; a Parliamentary inquiry was
conceded; a Committee of the House of Commons went into the subject in
1863-64. But the representation of Ireland, I have said, was feeble; her
complaints were stifled by the arts of the treasury; the arguments of her
members were overborne by specious but utterly false sophistry; the
inquiry came to nothing as regards her interests. The question remained in
abeyance for years; the Irish reforms of Mr. Gladstone, from 1869 to 1873,
the troubles caused by the Land and the National Leagues, and the Home
Rule agitation that followed, turned public attention away from the
subject; but it was not forgotten by well-informed Irishmen; two real
economists, Butt and Judge Longfield, insisted that Ireland had here a
grievance; and this was the opinion of several independent gentlemen,
survivors of the illustrious school of Grattan. At last Mr. Goschen,
perhaps moved by remonstrances from Ireland being urged again, appointed a
Committee of the House of Commons to examine into, and to report upon,
'the equity of the financial relations in regard to the resources and the
population of the Three Kingdoms;' Mr. Gladstone, in 1893, recurred to the
subject, which, rather unaccountably, had been let drop. He directed a
Commission of great authority, composed for the most part of expert
Englishmen, and presided over by the late Mr. Childers, a Chancellor of
the Exchequer of Mr. Gladstone, to inquire thoroughly into the whole
question of the financial relations of Great Britain and Ireland, and
fully to set forth the conclusions they should form. The scope of the
investigation was to include the history of the subject since the Union; a
consideration of the financial resources of Great Britain and Ireland
regarded as distinct countries, and the principles to be kept in mind in
forming a correct judgment; and, finally, the charge of Ireland with
respect to the State, and the contribution which Ireland should make to
it.[163]

This inquiry, set on foot by a British statesman who had made himself
notorious for 'assimilating Great Britain and Ireland in finance,'
proceeded, nevertheless, upon an admission that, financially, the two
countries were still distinct, and that the resources of each--their
'taxable capacity,' in other words, a phrase turned into absurd
ridicule--afforded the true and the only test, as to the equity of Irish
compared to British taxation. The Commissioners were engaged in their
arduous task for months; they explained, with a fulness and clearness
never before so complete, the history of the financial relations between
Great Britain and Ireland. They brought distinctly out the fiscal position
of the two countries before the Union; they set forth at length the
financial arrangements made in 1800-01; they described the compromise
effected in 1816; they dwelt on the fiscal policy of Peel to Ireland, and
placed it in significant contrast with that of Mr. Gladstone; and they
conclusively proved that, from the Union to the present time, Great
Britain and Ireland had been treated financially as separate countries,
despite the 'assimilation' of 1853-60, and that the right of Ireland,
under the Treaty of Union, to the 'exemptions and abatements' secured to
her, these being interpreted as the case requires, still give her
immunities from taxation especially her own, which must be recognised if
she is to obtain justice. Turning, then, to the resources of Great Britain
and Ireland, regarded as apart, as being the true criterion of the
taxation which Ireland ought to bear, the Commissioners reviewed a great
mass of evidence, which, as far as was perhaps possible, made the truth
manifest, and arrived at conclusions which appear to be decisive.
Comparing the death duties of Ireland and of Great Britain, the proportion
is about 1 to 18; comparing the income tax, it is about 1 to 22; taking a
great variety of other tests, receipts of railways, savings banks
deposits, money and postal orders, and letters and telegrams, it varies
from 1 to 24 and 16; and an estimate of the income of the two countries,
an estimate certainly not fair to Ireland, gives a proportion of about 1
to 18. There are many reasons that these figures exaggerate the true
resources of Ireland, but, assuming them to be approximately correct, the
Commission has reported that Great Britain exceeds Ireland in resources by
20 to 1; in other words, that the 'taxable capacity of Ireland, as
contrasted with that of Great Britain, cannot now be more than as 1 to
20.'[164] Applying this inference to the taxation of the two countries,
the conclusions formed by this tribunal can hardly admit of question. The
revenue and taxation of Ireland compared with that of Great Britain from
1889 to 1894 has been £7,300,000 and £7,800,000 against from £85,000,000
to £89,000,000, that is, Ireland contributed from 8 to 9 per cent. of the
sum total. But if the resources of Ireland are only one-twentieth of those
of Great Britain, her taxation ought to be one-twentieth only, that is, it
ought not to be from £7,300,000 to £7,800,000; it ought to be less than
£5,000,000; not 8 or 9 per cent., but less than 5 per cent. It follows
from this that Ireland has been overtaxed at the rate of between two and
three millions a year, and that for a very considerable space of
time.[165]

Enormous against Ireland as is this excess of taxation, it may amount to a
very much larger sum, if the national account be taken on another,
perhaps a sounder, basis. There is the highest authority to show that
taxation ought only to fall, in the instance of any given country, on the
surplus remaining over and above the cost of the necessaries of life; and
as regards the populations of Great Britain and Ireland, this cost may be
assumed to be £12 a head. But if we take the income of Great Britain to be
1400 millions sterling, the cost of the necessaries of life at the above
rate would for Great Britain be a sum of 324 millions; and the surplus
available for taxation would be 1076 millions. On the other hand, if we
turn to Ireland, the poor country, and suppose her income to be 76
millions sterling, the cost of the necessaries of life for Ireland would
be a sum of 46 millions; and the surplus available for taxation would be
30 millions only. On this hypothesis, the resources of Ireland which might
be fairly taxed--her taxable capacity, in a word--would, compared with the
resources of Great Britain, be, not as 1 to 20, but as 1 to 36 only; and
her taxation ought to be less than £3,000,000, not, as before mentioned,
less than £5,000,000. The Childers Commission, no doubt, with the
exception of one of its members, did not give its sanction to this
conclusion; but it was that formed by Sir Robert Giffen, a master of the
subject on all its bearings, and it cannot, in common fairness, be left
out of sight. Sir Robert Giffen's view is expressed in these words; it
will be observed that his figures do not correspond with those just cited;
but the only point to consider is the principle on which he takes his
stand: 'If you deduct a minimum sum, so much per head from each of the
community, as a sort of minimum sum, though you would not wish to take
anything from a man who had no more than that, then the taxable income
would be the whole income in each country above that sum. That was the
sort of general idea. If you apply that to Ireland, and take a minimum sum
of, say, £12 a head, you would get upon the basis of an Irish income of
£76,000,000 a taxable surplus, I think, now of about £22,000,000, and in
Great Britain your taxable surplus would come to over £900,000,000.'[166]

Setting, however, these last considerations aside, the Childers Commission
has conclusively shown that Ireland is very largely overtaxed, and has
been so for a long series of years; and the figures that represent this
great overcharge by no means represent the real difference of the burdens
imposed on the two countries. It does not require the authority of Pitt to
tell us that even equal taxation, equally applied, is felt much more
acutely by a poor community than by one that is rich and prosperous; let
us assume, what is by no means the fact, that this equality exists as
between Great Britain and Ireland, still Ireland suffers much more than
Great Britain. As Mill remarked a long time ago, 'It is not the same thing
to take £2 from a man who has £40 a year, as to take £4 from a man who has
£80, or £40 from a man who has £800; the sacrifice imposed on the taxpayer
is greater upon the man from whom you take £2 out of £40 than it is on the
man from whom you take £40 out of £800, although the proportion is the
same.' A few examples, taken from the case of Great Britain and Ireland,
will make the truth of this proposition perfectly clear. The wages of an
agricultural labourer in Great Britain are, say, £40 a year; the wages of
an agricultural labourer in Ireland are, say, £26; the first pays £3 taxes
on his tea and tobacco; the second pays only £2; but the £2 are obviously
much the heavier charge. Or suppose that a British artisan has £100 a
year, and an Irish artisan no more than £80; is not the first more lightly
taxed than the second, if he contributes £5 to the revenue against £4? And
the same thing happens if we ascend the social scale; the £150 income tax
paid by a British landlord of £3000 a year is not felt by him to be such
a charge as the £50 paid by an Irish landlord of £1000 a year; the same
principle would extend to the profits of trade were there small sums in
Ireland and large sums in Great Britain. Make taxes, therefore, as equal
as possible, and make their incidence completely equal, still, in the case
of a poor compared to a wealthy country, the real burden on the taxpayer
will be very different; it was for this reason that the late Mr. Nassau
Senior, an economist of no ordinary parts, pointedly remarked, as regards
British and Irish taxation, 'England is the most lightly taxed and Ireland
the most heavily taxed country in Europe, although both are nominally
liable to equal taxation: I do not believe that Ireland is a poor country
because she is overtaxed, but I think she is overtaxed because she is
poor.'[167]

Ireland, therefore, on a full review of the argument, has been overtaxed
at least between two and three millions sterling a year for certainly more
than forty years; and this excess, as she is a very poor country, is, in
her case especially severe. The trend of taxation, if the phrase may be
employed, as we follow its course, during a long period, clearly indicates
that she has suffered from grave financial wrong. In 1819-20, we have
seen, the taxation of Great Britain was at the rate of £3 13_s._ a head,
that of Ireland being 15_s._ 5_d._; the proportion was £2 13_s._ 1_d._ and
£1 6_s._ 7_d._ in 1859-60; in 1893 it was £2 4_s._ and £1 8_s._; in other
words, the imposts of the wealthy country were progressively decreased,
while the imposts of the poor country were progressively raised. This
distinction, no doubt, has been partly due to the fact that the population
of Great Britain has been largely augmented, and the population of Ireland
has been enormously reduced in numbers; the charge in Great Britain has
been distributed among ever growing millions, the charge in Ireland has
been concentrated upon ever lessening thousands; but this will not nearly
account for the difference; 'the wealthier country' it has been
caustically said, 'was taxed less and less as it became more wealthy; the
poorer country was burdened more and more as its poverty increased.'[168]
And the overcharge on Ireland is all the more grievous because it owed its
origin to the policy of free trade; and this policy has been a
questionable boon to Ireland, while to Great Britain it has been an
immense benefit. No doubt the cheapening of the price of the necessaries
and of some of the conveniences of life, which has been one of the results
of free trade, has been a great advantage to the Irish labourer, artisan,
and mere cottar peasant; but free trade has been injurious to the real
Irish farmer and the Irish landlord, and to most of the classes connected
with the land; and the land is the main source of the scanty wealth of
Ireland. Free trade, on the other hand, has been a principal cause of the
extraordinary development of the material welfare of England which has
been witnessed during the last fifty years; it has doubled and trebled her
gigantic manufactures and trade, if her agriculture is by no means
flourishing. This striking contrast gives pain to right-minded Irishmen;
they feel, as Grattan predicted would be the case, that their country's
interests have been sacrificed to British commerce; and the following
observations are essentially true and just: 'The change' (from protection
to free trade) 'has not been so advantageous to Ireland, a country in
which there is but little trade or manufacturing industry, as it has been
to England; although, as consumers, the Irish population may have gained
in some cases by the abolition of the duties on foodstuffs, yet, on the
other hand, as producers, chiefly dependent on agriculture, they have lost
in a far greater degree by the cheap prices in the British markets,
produced, in part at least, by the free and untaxed supply of foreign
corn, live stock, dead meat, butter, cheese, eggs, and other articles of
food.... It may even perhaps be said that just as Ireland suffered in the
last century from the protective and exclusive commercial policy of Great
Britain, so she has been at a disadvantage in this century from the
adoption of an almost unqualified free trade policy for the United
Kingdom.'[169]

Many attempts, I have said, have been made to answer the conclusive Report
of the Childers Commission, to carp at its proceedings, to challenge its
statements, to deny that Ireland has been largely overtaxed; but, with
scarcely an exception, they have been grotesque failures. I need hardly
notice an audacious sally, which has been turned to account in the House
of Commons, and has split the ears of the groundlings in different parts
of England. England, the argument runs, has been too kind to Ireland;
Ireland pays no land tax and sundry other duties; in other respects she is
equally taxed with Great Britain; she has not even a semblance of a real
complaint; and--exactly in the manner of Swift's satire--'let her hold her
tongue, or it may be the worse for her.' Ireland, no doubt, 'assimilated
as she has been in finance,' is free from some charges imposed on England;
she has still 'exemptions and abatements' which, to some extent, preserve
her rights under the Treaty of Union, and show that she is still
financially a distinct country, as has been recognised by every leading
British statesman, from the day of Pitt to the day of Mr. Gladstone. But
the English land tax, properly speaking, is not a tax at all; it is a
rent-charge for centuries payable by the land; at all events, the Irish
Crown and quit rents may be set off against it; and, as to the other taxes
referred to, the cost of collection in Ireland would exceed the returns;
it would be a case of _in Thesauro nihil_, as in Plantagenet times.
Another argument, of which the late Mr. Lowe was the author, is more
plausible, and has done better service; but it is not the less shallow
and false sophistry, when brought to the test. Taxation, it is said, falls
on populations only; it is sheer nonsense to say that it falls on
countries; it is not levied from Great Britain and Ireland; it is levied
from the inhabitants within their borders. But the Englishman, the
Scotsman, and the Irishman are equally taxed; the Irishman, indeed, has a
small advantage; equality of taxation is the rule in this matter; and
obviously equality is the same thing as equity. An English landlord in
Kent, a Scotch landlord in Perthshire, an Irish landlord in Kildare, pay
the same income tax on the same rentals; so does a merchant in London, a
merchant in Edinburgh, a merchant in Belfast, on the same profits; and the
same principle extends to all other classes. A farmer in Surrey, a crofter
in Argyleshire, a shopkeeper in Galway, pay exactly the same tax on a
gallon of rum, a gallon of whiskey, a hogshead of beer; the charge is the
same for each commodity in the three households. This Irish grievance,
therefore, is a mere delusion; it is a sickly phantom that vanishes in the
light of the day.

That taxation falls on populations and not on areas of land is a truism
really never disputed; the use of the word 'countries,' in this sense, is
a mere popular phrase. This argument keeps out of sight the fact that
equal taxes, however equally imposed, are much heavier in the case of a
poor than of a rich community; but, waiving this objection, it is a sheer
fallacy. If two populations had exactly the same tastes, used the same
commodities in the same proportions, and were in the possession of the
same resources; equality of taxation, if equally applied, would probably
be essentially just. But if two populations have different tastes, if they
differ in the use of even the same commodities, and if their resources are
very different, and especially if equal taxation be not equally applied,
this apparent equality, far from being equity, may become plain, nay, very
grave iniquity. This may be made intelligible, at a glance, by the
consideration of a few instances easily conceived. Impose an equal tax on
coals in England and Ireland: would the charge fall equally on Englishmen
in a land of coal and on Irishmen in a land of peat mosses? Tax Londoners
and Parisians at the same rate on coffee: would the Londoner, who drinks
comparatively little coffee, be as heavily mulcted as the Parisian, who
drinks a great deal? Or suppose that light taxes were laid on articles
that suit Englishmen, and enter into the consumption of the millions of
England, and that heavy taxes were laid on articles that suit Irishmen,
and are consumed by the Irish millions: would not this system favour
Englishmen, and injure Irishmen, though the taxes on all these articles
were the same in both countries? Examples by the hundred might be brought
forward; these suffice to prove that equality of taxation, as between
communities, differing from each other in the conditions and circumstances
of life, and notably if the incidence of this taxation is not the same,
may be made to effect the grossest injustice. And this financial wrong has
been done, to a very great extent, if we compare the taxation of Great
Britain and Ireland. The consumption of tea and tobacco by the head is
nearly the same in both countries; the taxes on these commodities are the
same; admit that this is equitable in a certain sense, though the impost
is relatively more burdensome on the poor community. The consumption of
spirits by the head, also, is much the same for the Three Kingdoms; the
taxation is precisely the same; this, for the sake of argument, I will
call justice. But the consumption of beer by the head in Great Britain is
about double what it is in Ireland; probably ten Englishmen drink beer
compared to one Irishman; whiskey is the ordinary spirituous drink of
Irishmen. Now, the taxes on beer and on whiskey are the same in Great
Britain and Ireland; but the tax on beer, measured by the alcoholic
standard, is about six times lower than the tax on whiskey;[170] beer,
therefore, compared with whiskey is greatly undertaxed; whiskey compared
with beer is greatly overtaxed; the ordinary drink of Englishmen is
treated differently from the ordinary drink of Irishmen, one being
encouraged, the other discouraged; though the taxes on each commodity may
be everywhere the same, the equality of taxation manifestly results in
wrong. The difference amounts to a very large sum; it is one of the causes
that Ireland is overtaxed.[171]

Equality of taxation may, therefore, be not equity; it may, as I have
said, be sheer iniquity; and this is emphatically the case with respect to
Ireland. This system is productive of gross injustice as regards what may
be deemed the popular Irish drink; but arguments to support it have not
been wanting; they have been complacently gulped down at several public
meetings, it is unnecessary to add within the borders of England. The
'mere Irish,' it is said, have shocking bad tastes; let them take beer
instead of whiskey and they can have no grievance; besides, whiskey is a
nasty and unwholesome thing; it is in mercy to them that it is excessively
taxed. Is it possible that people who utter this stuff do not see that
sumptuary legislation of extreme harshness, nay, persecution of the worst
kind, may be justified on the same class of premises? Suppose that
Napoleon, in the plenitude of his power, had declared that the Parisians
did not know what was good for them, and had heavily taxed their coffee to
make them drink tea, even Austerlitz would not have saved the Empire.
Marie Antoinette actually made an attempt to banish from her Court the
velvets and silks of Lyons, and to make it adopt the cambrics and muslins
of Belgium; she would have been too glad to see the first taxed and the
second duty free, for she thought the French taste for heavy and gorgeous
apparel bad; she only aroused the indignation of Versailles. Or say that
the priests of the Jove of the Capitol had argued in this way: 'Really
these detestable Christians are fools for worshipping a crucified Jew;
they have only to bow down to Cæsar to escape the lions; otherwise they
have themselves alone to blame.' Nay, coming nearer home, might not a holy
prelate of the Irish Established Church in the eighteenth century have
reconciled the penal code to his conscience, by whispering to himself that
the deluded Papists had but to give up their vain superstitions, and to
conform to the pure well of faith that had its source in the Castle, and
that then they would be no longer outlaws; but let them take the
consequences if they were blind to their best interests on earth and in
heaven. In fact, any act of despotism on the part of the State might be
vindicated on these very laudable principles; but on this matter of the
taxation of Irish whiskey I shall confine myself to a single remark.
Reverse the cases of England and Ireland with respect to the imposts on
beer and on whiskey; tax beer very heavily and whiskey very lightly; and
what would Englishmen say of an argument that has been thought good enough
for Irishmen; how long would a Government exist that would try to carry
out such a policy? In truth, this reasoning, if it can be so called, is
the worst kind of sophistry: the frank brutality of the Roman proconsul,
who told the population of a subject province that they must endure their
burdens as they would endure the rain and the tempest, is less censurable,
to my mind at least, than this compound of absurd and offensive insolence.

Another argument, really of no greater value, has had many supporters in
the House of Commons. True it is, it is admitted, that, compared with
Great Britain, Ireland has been hardly treated in finance; but this is
because she is a poor country, and a poor country must suffer from
taxation, fair as it may be, more than a wealthy country. But the same
inequality is seen in England: Dorset and Wiltshire are more heavily
burdened than Yorkshire and Lancashire, yet Dorset and Wiltshire make no
complaints as Ireland does. This argument, however, ignores history, and
sets the Treaty of Union at nought; Dorset and Wiltshire are mere
fractions of England; Ireland has always been financially a distinct
country, entitled to separate financial rights; and this has been
recognised by the ablest British statesmen, notably, of late years, by Mr.
Goschen, and by Mr. Gladstone. This reasoning, in a word, assumes that
Ireland is merely an aggregate of British counties; but this has never
been her true financial position; it is easy to sneer at the phrase
'separate entity' by which she has been called, that is, a land,
financially, apart from Great Britain, but sneers cannot get the better of
facts. These statements of distinguished English experts are
unquestionable in view of the record of history. Lord Farrer has remarked:
'It is abundantly clear that of the two conflicting theories--viz. the one
which regards Great Britain and Ireland as one country for the purpose of
taxation and expenditure, and the other which regards Great Britain and
Ireland as separate partners--the second is the one upon which our
instructions are founded; the one which has the greatest support in
history, and the one upon which all parties in Parliament have recently
acted.'[172] And Mr. Childers completely concurs: 'If apart from the
reference, it is asked why a distinction should be taken between Great
Britain and Ireland any more than between Kent and Yorkshire, the answer
is that Ireland entered into a partnership with Great Britain under a
formal Treaty of Union, which did, to a certain extent, by the recognition
of the claim of Ireland to abatements and exemptions, if circumstances
should require, maintain the position of Ireland as entitled to separate
treatment as a whole, so far as relates to taxation. It must also be
recollected that, as a matter of fact, Ireland has, at all times since the
Union, in various degrees received such separate treatment. Ireland,
therefore, cannot be regarded as merely a group of counties of the United
Kingdom.'[173]

Two other arguments may be ascribed to the ingenuity, if this is the true
word, of the Treasury; but the first rests on a gross misrepresentation of
fact, the other upon a false theory; both, with a slight reservation, may
be dismissed as hopeless. Ireland, it is said, may possibly be
overtaxed--admit this for the sake of argument--but she has had more than
her fair share of loans from the State; a considerable part of these has
been freely remitted; this has not been the case in England and Scotland;
a large counterclaim, therefore, may be made against her. 'Out of a total
sum of about one hundred and nineteen millions and a half advanced in the
United Kingdom, a little over fifty-two millions, or 43.7 per cent., has
been advanced to Ireland, and of this, so large a proportion as one-fifth,
or over ten millions, had to be remitted, or treated as a free grant,
whilst only one fifty-eighth part of the advances made to Great Britain
were so treated.'[174] So far as these loans have been advances for the
real good of Ireland, for example, for the promotion of reproductive
works-these may fairly be taken into account; but millions have been
misapplied and wasted or spent in the unproductive relief of
distress;[175] these sums probably are greater than the excess made out by
the Treasury. As regards the remission of the £10,000,000, the assertion
relied on is simply deceptive. Not less than £4,000,000 of this sum
represent the fund the extinction of which was the consideration of
putting the income tax on Ireland by Mr. Gladstone; and, as the charge of
that tax has been since more than £23,000,000, it savours of impudence to
call this a remission; it was writing off a doubtful debt to justify a new
and portentous burden. The residue of the £10,000,000 is composed of
advances that have been misspent or spent on purposes really not Irish;
these were not remitted in the proper acceptation of the word. 'The
remaining portion of the ten millions of alleged remissions of loans
consists mainly of remissions of the repayment of expenditure by the Board
of Works, where it was shown that such expenditure had been wasteful, and
of advances to the clergy and laity of the Established Church of Ireland,
which advances Parliament, by legislation, deprived them of the ability of
repaying. Altogether it would appear, from Sir Edward Hamilton's evidence,
that in reality only about one million out of the ten corresponded in
their character to the advances made to Great Britain, and that
consequently the proportion of real remissions of loans to Ireland did not
differ very materially from that of the proportion of the remission in
Great Britain.'

The second argument appears to be more plausible; but it is mischievous,
in a high degree, and dangerous; except to a slight extent, it is
completely fallacious. Ireland, it is allowed, contributes from £7,300,000
to £7,800,000 to the exchequer; but of this sum £5,000,000 and upwards are
expended on her; she really hardly pays £2,000,000 to the State; the
£5,000,000 therefore, or nearly all this sum, create a just counterclaim
against her, even admitting she is excessively taxed. This expenditure on
Ireland, it is contended, is for Irish 'local' purposes; it is not
expenditure for 'Imperial' purposes; the account, as between Great Britain
and Ireland, is to be taken as if all this expenditure, or nearly so, were
purely local. But is not the expenditure for keeping up the
Lord-Lieutenant and his Court, is not the expenditure on the government
and administration of Ireland, essentially, and in the main, Imperial, and
not local in a legitimate sense, so long as the United Kingdom exists? Is
it not as Imperial, at least for the most part, as the expenditure on the
British army and navy and on the government and administration of England
and Scotland is Imperial, and not, properly speaking, local? This argument
could be retorted with decisive effect, if urged in the interest of
Ireland against Great Britain. If this kind of expenditure in Ireland is
held to be local, not Imperial, the same rule must apply to England and
Scotland; this expenditure in their case must be local and not Imperial.
Why, then, should Ireland contribute to such charges as public works in
Edinburgh and London, as the maintenance of the great English dockyards
and harbours, as the cost of the army and navy outside Ireland, and of the
government and administration of England and Scotland? Clearly on the
Treasury hypothesis she should not contribute; and if she does, she has an
immense counterclaim, so far as her contributions are applied to these
local objects. But, in truth, this whole argument, when examined, is a
mere sophism. The revenues of the Three Kingdoms are paid into a common
exchequer; they are distributed according to the uses of the State; this
expenditure, as a general rule, must be held to be Imperial, not local,
and cannot give a part of the Three Kingdoms a right to make a claim
against another. The State spends millions on London which it does not
spend on Surrey; it spends millions in Hants which it does not spend in
Berkshire: does this circumstance give Surrey or Berkshire a title to say
we can make a demand on London and Hants? Precisely in the same way, the
expenditure of the State on Ireland, as contra-distinguished from that on
Great Britain, cannot, at least as a general principle, give Great Britain
a right to make a counterclaim on Ireland.

It is unnecessary to point out how this theory has a tendency to create
local and even national ill-will; to set parts of one country against
other parts, and two countries against each other; it distinctly alienates
Ireland from Great Britain; as I have said, it is full of mischief and
peril. In truth, however, it is a mere device to excuse the overcharge of
Irish taxation; it has never entered the minds of statesmen. Nothing can
be more certain than that every great British financier, from the day of
Pitt to the day of Peel, and to the day of Mr. Gladstone, has regarded the
expenditure of the Three Kingdoms, as this is paid into a common
exchequer, as a general fund to be allocated as the State requires; and
has not regarded it as a fund, under local heads, to be laid out in
separate districts, so as to give any one district a counterclaim against
another. I quote from a report of one of the members of the Childers
Commissions: 'A division of the expenditure of the United Kingdom into
"charge for Irish purposes" and "Imperial expenditure," cannot be made
under the system of finance embodied in the constitution established by
the Legislative Union. All expenditure under that system is "expenditure
of the United Kingdom," or, to express it more briefly, "Imperial
expenditure;" and all Imperial expenditure is defrayed from the common
fund of the Imperial Exchequer. If a part of the Imperial expenditure be
described as a charge "for Irish purposes," this classification does not
affect the fact that it is Imperial expenditure, and charged as such upon
the whole Imperial revenue. To regard this expenditure as non-Imperial, to
deduct it from the particular revenue contributed by Ireland to Imperial
expenditure, to treat the fraction of Irish revenue left as if it were the
whole of the Irish contribution to Imperial expenditure, and to regard
Imperial expenditure itself as not including "the charge for Irish
purposes," would be to do what the Constitution does not sanction: it
would be to deal with the revenue and expenditure of the United Kingdom as
if the revenues of Great Britain and Ireland were raised and administered
by separate authorities, each of which, having first, out of its own
revenue, defrayed its separate charges, then applied the balance to
payment of common expenses, which, in that case, would be properly
classified as Imperial.'[176] And the evidence of Sir Robert Giffen is to
the same effect: 'The opinion which I have formed is that, on the whole,
it is not possible to make the distinction between the different objects
of Imperial expenditure which is made in some of these discussions; that,
in fact, all the expenditure by an Imperial Government is to be considered
expenditure for Imperial purposes, and although part of it may be spent
locally, you cannot in any way call it expenditure for the special benefit
of that locality. It is expenditure for the general objects of the
Imperial Government.'[177]

The theory of the Treasury is thus essentially false; but accidentally, it
contains, I think, a residuum of truth. When, as between two countries,
one pays a considerable sum, exclusively or mainly from local rates, and
the same charge in the other country is for the most part defrayed from
Imperial taxation by the State, it appears to me that a portion of the sum
so paid by the State may give one country a counterclaim against the other
to some extent. This is the case as between Great Britain and Ireland; the
cost of national education and of the police force is largely discharged
in Great Britain by local rates; in Ireland it amounts to about
£2,700,000, and is mainly defrayed from Imperial taxes; this may create a
counterclaim against Ireland within reasonable limits at least. No doubt
the charge of bringing up the young of the poorer classes and of
maintaining public order by a suitable force, ought largely to be an
Imperial charge; but when in one community it is chiefly borne by local
funds, and in another it is chiefly borne by the common Exchequer of both,
this seems to give the first community a partial claim against the second.
This counterclaim, such as it is, has been reckoned, in addition to a sum
for free grants, at about £500,000 a year by the Childers Commission; but
it did not thoroughly go into the subject; this estimate is believed to be
too low by well-informed persons; the counterclaim has been calculated to
be about £1,000,000 sterling. Lord Salisbury's Government, we have seen,
promised to appoint a second Commission to examine this question at
length, besides some other financial questions suggested by the Report of
the Childers Commission; for some unknown reason it has not redeemed its
pledge; it is very desirable that it should redeem it. Apart from the
mischief of a delay approaching a breach of public faith, the only
inference that can be drawn, if this promise is broken, is that the
Government accepts the view in this matter of the Childers Commission.

The Childers Commission has conclusively proved that Ireland is much too
highly taxed; whatever counterclaim may be made against this excess, the
overcharge can be little less than two millions a year. The arguments
urged against this conclusion are mere leather and prunella that may be
brushed aside; the Report of the Commission has had the sanction of nearly
all economists of a high order. By all means let another Commission strike
a balance after making every fair allowance; but if it shall be struck, as
it must be in Ireland's favour, the only real question for impartial men
will be how it shall be best discharged. Ireland has practically
acquiesced for years in fiscal injustice; in any view of the case she has
no right to call for a change in our whole system of finance for her
special benefit. Still less has she a right to demand that her customs and
excise duties should be placed at a lower level than those of Great
Britain; this would raise a mischievous barrier between the two countries;
this policy would be, perhaps, impossible; if possible, it would probably
injure Ireland greatly in the long run. The only remaining alternative is
to leave our existing fiscal system intact, but to make an annual grant
from the exchequer for Irish uses, as compensation for excessive taxation;
this has the support of the Childers Commission. 'The third method, and
that which most strongly recommends itself to our judgment, is to give
compensation to Ireland by making an annual allocation of revenue in their
favour, to be employed in promoting the material prosperity and social
welfare of the country.'[178] It is difficult to suppose, should a large
yearly sum be found to be due to Ireland, as affairs now stand, that
Parliament will refuse to pay honourably a just debt; it would be a
shameful act to repudiate an obligation of the kind. Years ago Pitt
declared in his characteristic style that 'Ireland might safely rely on
Great Britain for the discharge of any fair claim on her; the liberality,
the justice, the honour of the people of Great Britain have never been
found deficient.' The time has come to test the value of this pledge; it
has been announced by the highest authority, in which English opinion
largely prevails, that Ireland has been immensely overtaxed for years:
will the 'people of Great Britain' give effect to this judgment, and make
good a claim which hardly admits of a doubt? The demand of Ireland, no
doubt, is not sustained by violent agitation and the shouts of multitudes;
but it is backed by all that is best in Irish opinion; it rests upon the
simplest financial justice. It is dangerous to treat a demand such as this
with contempt, and still more so with weak sophistry; not that Ireland can
make an effective resistance to fiscal wrong, however clearly proved; and
I for one deprecate rhodomontade about 'the Boston tea-ships.' But a claim
may have great moral force, though it be not supported by physical power;
the disregard of this claim would provoke well-informed Irishmen, and
weaken the Union perhaps greatly; and, after all, is it a seemly sight, is
it becoming in the eyes of the world, that the richest country in Europe
should practically impose an iniquitous burden upon the poorest?



CHAPTER VIII

THE QUESTIONS OF IRISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION--OTHER
QUESTIONS--CONCLUSION

    Irish county government--The grand jury system in the eighteenth
    century--Its merits and defects--The grand jury system in the
    nineteenth century, and especially since 1836--The Irish poor law
    system--Elected and _ex-officio_ guardians--The local government of
    cities and towns in Ireland--Municipal institutions founded in Ireland
    by the Norman kings--Why they did not prosper--Boroughs and
    municipalities founded by James I. and the Stuarts--Their condition in
    the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--The Municipal Reform Act of
    1840--The Towns Commissioners Acts--Attempts to reform the municipal
    system of local government in Ireland--The Local Government of Ireland
    Act, 1898--Complete change in Irish local government--The County
    Councils--The County Borough Councils--The District, Rural, and the
    Urban District Councils--Their functions, rights, and duties--All
    these bodies placed on a democratic basis--Attitude of the County
    Councils in the southern provinces--Education in Ireland--History of
    primary education--The national system of education--The principles on
    which it is founded--How it has worked, and what its results have
    been--Secondary education in Ireland--Its history--Its present
    condition very imperfect--The Intermediate Education Act--University
    education in Ireland--Its history--Trinity College--The Queen's
    Colleges and the Queen's University founded by Peel--Their comparative
    failure--Mr. Gladstone's Bill to reform University education in
    Ireland--Its glaring errors and failure--Trinity College thrown open
    in 1873--The Royal University founded in 1879--Present state of
    University education in Ireland--The true principles of reform--Other
    Irish questions--Conclusion.


That local government in Ireland should still be a 'Present Irish
Question,' may appear strange to persons only versed in the mere routine
of politics. The subject has been before Parliament for nearly thirty
years; it has engaged the attention of more than one of its Committees;
Butt endeavoured, to no purpose, to legislate on it. In 1892 Lord
Salisbury's Government brought in a measure which aimed at transforming
the whole system of administering local affairs in Ireland; but it had
unquestionable defects and was vehemently opposed; unfortunately, as I
believe, it was permitted to drop. Six years afterwards, that is, in 1898,
the greater part of a parliamentary session was employed in dealing with
the question again; a Bill became law which placed Irish local government,
in all its departments, upon a new basis, and completely changed the
characteristics it had had for centuries. The measure was to be a _ne plus
ultra_; it was extolled by applauding partisans as a magnificent scheme of
popular reform; these have since, over and over again, declared that its
success has been more than manifest. It is too soon to pronounce, with
anything like confidence, on what its ultimate results may be, or even to
say, with certainty, how it will practically work; but enough has already
been made apparent to cause thoughtful and fair-minded Irishmen to regard
the changes it has effected with grave misgivings; to question the
principles on which it rests, or at least the wisdom of applying them to
Ireland as she now is; and to ask whether it must not be amended if the
social structure of Ireland is not to be still more violently disturbed,
than it has been by the experiments that have been made on it. Besides,
the local government and administration of every community, especially if
formed on a popular type, affect its existence in many ways; strongly
indicate what its opinions are, what its qualities, what its evident
tendencies; in a word, largely represent its essential nature. It was not
for nothing that in his survey of the Revolution in France, Burke did not
confine himself to the sovereign assembly at Versailles, but turned his
penetrating glance on the petty assemblies which had been set up in the
new-made departments, for the conduct of their local affairs; these, he
insisted, formed the truest expression of the mind of the people and of
the leaders at its head. For these reasons, therefore, if we would
understand Ireland, her local government is a 'Present Irish Question;' it
is a question, moreover, which, whatever may be said, in all probability
has not been finally settled.

In order to understand the subject, I must glance at the system of Irish
local government, as this existed until, as it were, yesterday; I turn, in
the first instance, to Irish county government. The beginnings of this
scheme have been traced back to the time of Strafford; but it was not
finally established until the reign of William III., when the subjugation
of Ireland had been made complete. The Irish grand juries always had
criminal jurisdiction in their countries like their English fellows; but
unlike these they were now entrusted with almost absolute control over
Irish county government. This was partly because they were representatives
of the conquering race, by this time the owners of nine-tenths of the
lands of the country; and partly because there was no local organisation
in Ireland, like the English parish, which could give local influence to
the conquered race. The grand juries were always composed of the leading
landed gentry of their respective counties; they were nominated by the
sheriffs, that is, by officials of the Central Government; they were
wholly devoid of a popular element; and as no Catholic could have a share
in their councils, until nearly the end of the eighteenth century, they
embodied, in the fullest sense, the Protestant ascendency of the day,
supreme in every sphere of authority in the State. The grand juries had
almost the exclusive power of administering the local affairs of their
counties, of managing their roads, public buildings, and police; and they
levied the charges for these by a local rate, known as the county cess to
this hour, and imposed almost wholly on the occupiers of the soil, that
is, in five cases out of six on the Catholic peasantry, a striking
instance of taxation without representation to check it. These assemblies
of local magnates met twice a year at the assizes which were held in their
counties. Miss Edgeworth has given us graphic accounts of them: how a seat
on a grand jury was deemed a prize to be sometimes fought for; how the
grand juries entertained the judges in state, and vied with these sages in
their mighty potations; and how, while wretches were hanged and jurymen
dined, the assize towns were scenes of not fastidious revelry. There was
much jobbing, corruption, and waste in the administration of the counties
in those days; much of the 'scratch me, and I will scratch you;' much
'give and take' at the cost of the ratepayers. But there was another and
better side to the picture: the Irish gentry of the time had the faculty
of command; they ruled their districts efficiently with their police; the
public works for which they were responsible were usually good. Arthur
Young has especially noticed that the roads they constructed were almost
always well laid out and kept up.

Catholics were not admitted on grand juries until the great Relief Act of
1793, the first general relaxation of the execrable penal code. But the
Catholic members of these bodies have always been few; the large majority
of the Irish landlords remains still Protestant. The bureaucracy of the
Castle, after the Union, began to encroach on the domain of the grand
juries; at the same time the growing needs of the country made the
expenditure on local affairs much larger. The grand juries lost much of
their authority by degrees; they were more and more controlled by the
Central Government, which supplanted them in a variety of ways; and they
were ere long compelled to vote sums for public works of different kinds
for the behoof of their counties. This change effectually checked
corruption and jobbing; but as the requirements of the counties
increased, and the 'imperative presentments,' as they were called, were
augmented, the charge of the local rate or county cess became more
onerous--it has advanced enormously in the last sixty years; and this was
still mainly imposed on the Catholic peasantry. The civil or fiscal
administration, which the grand juries possessed until 1898, was finally
arranged by an Act of Parliament passed in 1836,[179] supplemented, from
time to time, by subsequent statutes. These bodies were composed of the
same elements, and nominated by the sheriffs as before; and they had a
general supervision over all the public works, roads, bridges, and
buildings for public purposes, comprised within their different counties,
including within these areas nearly all villages, and the large majority
of the lesser towns. But they were made strictly dependent on the Central
Government; this had the appointment of their chief officers; their
accounts were subjected to a regular audit; and their 'imperative
presentments' were largely extended. They acquired, too, an additional
jurisdiction in some respects, especially as regards inquiries into
criminal injuries and compensating persons who had been sufferers, and as
regards voting an extra police force in disturbed districts; but their old
local police had disappeared, and had been replaced by the great central
constabulary force. A change, too, was effected in the modes through which
local rates were voted in the counties for public purposes. These sums
were 'presented' in the first instance at 'baronial' and 'county at large'
sessions, held by county justices and ratepayers of substance; but these
bodies were subordinate to the grand juries, and to a considerable extent
drawn from the same classes; no popular element was infused in county
government, and the grand juries were, in the last resort, supreme, within
the limits which had been assigned to them. The local expenditure voted
and assessed in this way was subject to examination by a judge of assize,
who 'fiated' it, as a general rule; and ratepayers had a right to
challenge it, by a procedure called 'a traverse,' which, however, was
seldom turned to account.

The Irish grand juries were thus oligarchic bodies, survivals of the
Protestant ascendency of a bygone age, and with a tendency, in their later
history, to become subordinate boards of the Castle. I pass on to the
Irish poor law system, another considerable department of Irish local
government. As we have seen, unlike what had been the case in England, no
poor law existed in Ireland until 1838; the want of such a measure was one
of the causes of the pressure of a huge mass of indigence on the soil
before the catastrophe of 1845-47. The Irish poor law, with some marked
distinctions, was analogous to the new English poor law, as it has long
been called; it has now been in operation for about sixty years. The
country was divided into a series of unions, which have varied from 130 to
163 in number; at present there are 159 of these; these were the principal
units for carrying the poor law system into effect. The unions were again
subdivided into lesser districts, electoral divisions for the county,
wards for the larger towns; the persons chosen to administer the poor law
were taken from these areas; and the unions and all that pertained to them
were placed under the control of the Central Government, represented by
the Local Government Board of Ireland. The persons returned from the
electoral divisions and the wards were selected by the votes of the
ratepayers, and were known as the elected guardians; a popular element was
thus introduced into the administration of the law, which had never been
introduced into Irish county government. The vote of the ratepayers,
however, was cumulative, not single; the largest ratepayers had the most
votes, a safeguard, it has been assumed, for property; and the elected
guardians, in theory at least, were balanced by an equal number of
_ex-officio_ guardians, composed of magistrates within the unions. The
chief duties of the elected and the _ex-officio_ guardians, collectively
known as Boards of Guardians, were to provide for the wants of the poor,
and to assess and levy poor rates for that purpose; but many other duties
were gradually imposed on them, the principal of these being the care of
the sanitary state of the lesser towns within their districts. There was a
marked difference between the incidence of the poor rate and of the county
rate, or cess, of the grand juries. The county cess, we have seen, was
mainly a charge on the Catholic occupiers of the soil, the poor rate was,
to a very considerable extent, a charge on the owners, for the most part
Protestants; for the landlord was bound to pay the whole poor rate in the
case of the pettiest holdings, and to allow his tenants half the poor rate
in the case of other holdings; by these means the burden of at least half
the poor rate, it is believed, was borne by the Irish landed gentry. It
should be added that the elected guardians have practically had the
administration of the poor law in their hands; the _ex-officio_ guardians,
especially of late years, took little part in it.[180]

I turn from the administration of local rural affairs in Ireland to that
of its chief cities and its towns. The Irish towns, conquered and settled
by the Danes, had, perhaps, a kind of municipal government; the
Plantagenet kings conferred municipal rights as freely in Ireland as they
did in England. Thus Dublin received a charter from John, modelled on that
of his 'liegemen of Bristol;' Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny, and several
other towns were incorporated and given powers of self-government at
different periods of the Middle Ages. But the municipal life and the
municipal spirit which grew up and gained strength in the thriving towns
of England, and secured for them a large measure of local liberty, had
hardly any existence in a land like Ireland, distracted by feudal and
tribal anarchy; the corporate cities and towns of Ireland fell into the
hands of great Anglo-Norman nobles and Celtic chiefs, and seem to have all
but lost their local franchises. During the long agony of the sixteenth
century, when Ireland was devastated by a horrible strife of race and
faith, these privileges were still further effaced; at the death of
Elizabeth the Irish municipal centres, with the exception of the capital,
were mere names and shadows. A great change took place when the subjugated
land passed under the domination of the first Stuarts. English law was now
extended over the whole of Ireland; a colonial caste of settlers was
becoming lords of the soil; the Government was conducted by the men at the
Castle, ruling through a Parliament largely composed of the new settlers.
James I. created forty-six Irish boroughs with a stroke of the pen, and
gave them a representation in the Parliament and municipal rights; but
these, for the most part, were mere villages; they obtained their large
privileges solely in order to support 'the English interest,' as it was
called, in the Irish House of Commons. This system was continued by the
later Stuarts; besides Dublin and the larger towns of Ireland, there were
about a hundred of these petty municipalities and parliamentary boroughs
in the eighteenth century. These places, however, could have no municipal
freedom, and were wholly devoid of municipal feeling; they became nearly
all the mere appanages of the neighbouring leading families; and, with
hardly an exception, they were extreme types of the Protestant ascendency
which prevailed everywhere. Something of the same kind was witnessed in
England, under the aristocratic rule of that age, but there was the
difference between a sorry caricature and a picture; the great cities and
the better towns of England still retained an ample measure of municipal
liberty, and, especially, did not lose the municipal spirit; the exact
contrary was the case in Ireland.

A large majority of the little Irish boroughs were deprived of their
parliamentary representation at the Union, but they retained their nominal
municipal rights. They still remained under the control of the chief
landed gentry; and they became, as indeed they had always been, centres of
maladministration, corruption, and peculation of all kinds. When, after
the passing of the great Reform Act of 1832, statesmen directed their
minds to the questions of corporate and municipal reform in England, they
naturally turned their minds to Ireland also, where this reform was
notoriously still more imperative. After the publication of a masterly
report in 1834-35, which thoroughly illustrated the whole subject, the
abuses in the Irish corporations were shown to be such--they were enormous
even in the cities and larger towns--that Peel, the leader of the
Opposition, actually gave them up; he proposed to deprive the corporate
towns of all municipal rights and franchises, and to place them under the
authority of Commissioners appointed by the Crown. This plan, however, was
rejected by the Melbourne Government, and was not sanctioned by the House
of Commons; after a long and angry controversy, which continued for years,
a measure became law as late as 1840; and by this, with the exception of
ten, all the corporate towns of Ireland lost their municipal rights, and
were thus left without any power of self-government. With respect even to
the ten still enfranchised towns, their old privileges were greatly
curtailed and were transferred to the Central Government; and their
municipal liberties were restricted and narrowed. They retained, indeed,
many rights of self-government; but the municipal franchise was placed at
a high level; the great body of the townsmen did not possess it; and they
were subject to the supervision of the Local Government Board, that is, of
the Central Government, to a considerable extent at least. True municipal
life, and the municipal sentiment, could not, therefore, become well
developed, in the case of towns under such conditions; they showed but few
symptoms of the wonderful growth of prosperity and power which has been
such a marked feature in the history of the great corporate towns of
England, in what may be called the Victorian age, though, no doubt, the
cases were widely different--poor Ireland could not, in this respect,
compete with wealthy and progressive England. The deficiency of corporate
towns in Ireland was felt ere long to be such, that, in 1854, and
subsequent years, municipal rights were, in some measure, extended to
nearly a hundred of these towns. These places were governed by bodies
called Town Commissioners elected by a kind of popular vote; but the
authority of these bodies has never been large; the municipal franchise
was very high; and these towns were also under the Irish Local Government
Board.

Municipal institutions, like others of English origin, had thus, from a
variety of causes, when transferred to Ireland, only a stunted, imperfect,
and maimed existence. We may briefly glance at the operation of the system
of rural and urban local government, of which we have endeavoured to
sketch the outlines. Except, perhaps, in the instance of criminal
injuries, and of the compensation to be adjudged by them, where they did
not always give proof of a judicial spirit, the grand juries, for upwards
of two generations, administered county affairs very well; they were
economical, prudent, and jealous of expense, if the public buildings they
sanctioned were, occasionally, too costly; but the system was an
anachronism, and had had its day. In ordinary times the Irish poor law was
reasonably well administered by the Boards of Guardians, as well,
probably, as was the case in England; they were rather parsimonious in
assessing rates, and gave little attention to the sanitary state of their
towns, but, on the whole, there was not much cause to complain of them;
and the Irish people, it must be recollected, have never liked the poor
law. The local administration of the cities and the larger towns of
Ireland was worse--a notable exception was seen in Belfast; but these, as
a rule, gave proof of the restricted system on which their government had
been formed; the results appeared in a high death rate, in bad supplies of
water, in crowds of squalid and deserted dwellings--in a word, in
stagnation and a want of progress, if other and powerful causes concurred.
When the movement conducted by Parnell acquired strength, almost a
revolution passed over the seats of Irish local government, where these,
except in Ulster, possessed a popular element. Parnell called on the
Boards of Guardians, the Corporations, and the Town Commissioners, in
places where the 'people' had any effective voice, to rally round the Land
and the National Leagues; he achieved remarkable success in the three
provinces of the south. This was especially made manifest in the Boards of
Guardians, composed largely of farmers of substance, and in which the
_ex-officio_ guardians had little real power; these bodies set a crusade
against the landed gentry on foot; marked them out for plunder in many
ways; encouraged 'boycotting' and defiance of the law; gave a free rein to
rebellious utterances of many kinds; and denounced Irish 'landlordism' and
British rule in Ireland, as fiercely as they had been denounced at Land
and National League gatherings.[181] The same phenomena appeared in many
of the corporate and inferior towns: the Corporation of Dublin indulged in
anti-British threats and speeches; the Corporation of Limerick refused to
pay a lawful tax; the Corporation of Cork proclaimed itself supreme in a
'rebel' city; the example was generally followed in the lesser towns of
the south; in short, these bodies became centres of sedition, socialism,
and resistance to the law, and widely disseminated their pernicious
teaching. In fact, they made themselves agencies of the Land and the
National Leagues; at the same time, in numerous instances, they set the
authority of the Local Government Board at naught.[182]

The system of Irish local government was obviously so defective, so
antiquated, so contrary to the spirit of the age, that several attempts,
we have seen, were made, long ago, to reform it. It has now been
completely transformed on the principles applied to England and Scotland;
the occasion of this transformation was somewhat singular. In 1896
considerable relief was given, in England and Scotland, to the landed
interest by a subvention made by the State, which defrayed half the charge
of the local county rates, the depression of agriculture being so
grievous; the justice of this measure was hardly disputed. But the Report
of the Childers Commission, declaring that Ireland was greatly overtaxed,
and had been for a long series of years, was published about the same
time; the Government, probably because it had made up its mind not to
countenance the report in any way, refused to extend the same relief to
Ireland, although it was as much required--a decision that simply nothing
could warrant. The indignation, however, expressed in Ireland, and the
remonstrances even of the Ministerial Press, angrily as it had challenged
the findings of the report, before long changed the Government's purpose;
it was formally announced, in 1897, that Ireland would obtain the same
boon as Great Britain, and, apparently, as a condition of this, that Irish
local government was to be reformed. The measure of 1898 was the result of
this compromise; the interdependence of two subjects, which have nothing
in common, has made it not easy to interpret; but, as we shall see, its
authors have provided, with skill, against one of the dangers the change
involved, that is, the probability that it might expose the Irish landed
gentry to predatory attacks. Before examining the recent law, I venture to
make a single remark. The question of the alleviation of the charge of
rates, a concession made to Ireland with bad grace, and made to England
and Scotland as a matter of course, has nothing to do with the infinitely
larger question of the excessive taxation imposed on Ireland; relief in
the one case does not imply relief in the other; the two subjects are
altogether distinct. It is essential carefully to keep this in mind, for
attempts are being made to confuse the two questions, and
characteristically to argue that Ireland ought to rest and be thankful,
and not to say a word about her overtaxation, because, forsooth, in common
with England and Scotland, she has received assistance as regards her
local rates.

The transformation which has been effected in Irish local government has
completely changed the old order of things, and is of an extremely
democratic character. County government has been taken from the grand
juries, and has been extended to bodies known by the name of County
Councils, recently formed in Great Britain. The County Councils proper are
thirty-two in number, corresponding to the number of the Irish counties;
they are popular assemblies in the fullest sense of the word. They are
elected by the ratepayers of their districts, who possess the present
extravagantly low suffrage; the right of election is also bestowed on
women; and the protection of the cumulative vote has been removed; a
cottar has the same voting power as a man of forty thousand a year. Any of
these voters may have a seat in a County Council; the body, therefore, may
be crowded with petty ratepayers; and women also may have seats. Three
members of the grand jury, in each county, are entitled to sit in a County
Council, but for a short time only--a provision intended to reconcile the
old with the new; the County Councils are given a right to 'co-opt' a few
members; and the heads of bodies subordinate to them have the privilege of
taking part in their counsels. The rights and the responsibilities of the
grand juries have, as a rule, been transferred to the County Councils,
except in the instance of criminal injuries, and of determining
compensation for these; this jurisdiction, subject to an appeal to a judge
of assize, has been properly conferred on the County Court judges, for it
is essentially of a judicial nature. The powers of the County Councils
thus extend to the management and the supervision of the roads, bridges,
and buildings for public purposes comprised within their counties, and
also to the regulation of villages and petty towns; but, like the grand
juries, they are subject to the same control of the Central Government;
they must make 'imperative presentments' like the grand juries; and, as in
the instance of the grand juries, subordinate bodies have the initiative
in part of their duties. Their powers, however, have been made larger and
wider than those of the grand juries; they have been given the right to
assess and levy the poor rate in rural districts, the management of the
asylums of the lunatic poor, an authority, in cases of exceptional
distress, subject to the permission of the Local Government Board, to
sanction relief to poor people out-of-doors, and several other powers of
not much importance. It should be added that the County Councils are not
restricted in any way by judge's 'fiats' and by 'traverses' as the grand
juries were; these securities, such as they were, have disappeared; but
their conduct may be controlled to a certain extent by the Superior Courts
of Ireland, as that of most public bodies may be, if only through a
tedious and costly procedure, and they are more or less under the
authority of the Local Government Board.

Six of the principal cities and towns of Ireland, Dublin, Belfast, Cork,
Limerick, Londonderry, and Waterford, have been made distinct counties,
with the appellation of County Boroughs. The scheme of County Councils has
been applied to these also; the townsmen and townswomen have the same
power of voting, and the same democratic suffrage as the counties proper;
the borough assemblies may have the same kinds of members; but the titles
of mayors, aldermen, and burgesses have been preserved, in recognition, so
to speak, of strictly urban government. These bodies, which, it will be
observed, are popular in the widest sense of the word, have the powers of
grand juries within their respective spheres; but they retain besides
their former administrative powers subject to the control of the Local
Government Board; they have thus been changed from narrow and close
oligarchies into democracies on the very broadest basis. The County
Councils have under them two minor bodies, the Rural District Councils and
the Urban District Councils, the characteristics of which may be briefly
noticed. The sphere of the authority of the Rural District Council
corresponds, for the most part, to the Poor Law Union; these councils are
elected and constituted under the same conditions as the larger councils
already described; they are, therefore, mere democracies in considerable
numbers. The Rural District Councils are given the powers of the Baronial
Presentment Sessions of the Grand Juries, that is, they may initiate
proceedings as their predecessors did; they are made the sole guardians of
the poor within their districts, the _ex-officio_ guardians having been
abolished; their chairmen are members of the County Councils; it may be
added here that rating for the poor has been extended generally over the
union, not as hitherto confined to the electoral division and the ward, a
questionable provision which will certainly increase the expenditure for
the relief of poverty. The sphere of the authority of the Urban District
Councils has been made that of the larger towns of Ireland, being sanitary
areas within themselves; but power has been taken to increase the number
of these towns, and this increase will be probably witnessed. The Urban
District Councils resemble, in their mode of election and their
constitution, the other assemblies, that is, they are democracies to the
fullest extent; but they retain the names of Corporate or Town
Commissioners towns, and of mayors, aldermen, and burgesses where they
possessed these before. The powers of the Urban District Councils are
those of the grand juries within the towns, except as respects the larger
public buildings, which were formerly charged on 'the county at large;'
these councils levy and assess the poor rate within their districts; and
they retain the powers of urban government they formerly possessed. The
Local Government Board has authority, also, over the Rural District and
the Urban District Councils.

The entire system of Irish local government has thus been placed on an
extremely democratic basis, subject, however, to partial control by the
Central Government. This revolution, for it has been nothing less, was
obviously liable to be attended by the many mischiefs inseparable from a
sudden transfer of enormous powers to local assemblies of the most popular
type, to maladministration, waste, and extravagance, and, as especially
would be the case in Ireland, to violent or insidious attacks on the
landed gentry. The late measure has provided against these evils, if not
completely or adequately, with ingenuity and skill. The relief of Irish
agriculture was its first financial object; to effect this the county cess
and the poor rate have been consolidated into a single charge; and half of
this is to be defrayed by the State and appropriated to the relief of
agricultural lands, towns and lands, within municipal limits, being
excepted. The subvention is not to extend to sums payable in respect of
criminal injuries, nor to sums payable in respect of extra police in
disturbed districts; these charges are properly to be borne by local areas
as before. The relief afforded is an annual sum of about £700,000; it is
divided in tolerably equal shares between the owners and the occupiers of
the soil, that is, between the landlords and tenants of Ireland; it is
characteristic of Radical clamour, that a boon, the justice of which could
not be disputed, was denounced as an 'infamous job' for the behoof of the
Irish landed gentry. A powerful check has been placed on extravagance and
waste, and on attempts to injure property in land, exposed, we have seen,
to undoubted dangers. The relief afforded was calculated on the local
expenditure for 1897, in the words of the law, 'the standard year;' it was
regularly to be one-half of this sum. Should the local expenditure,
therefore, in subsequent years, be in excess of that of the standard year,
the proportionate value of the relief would fall; should it be a lesser
amount, the value would rise. A strong restraint was thus imposed on
attempts recklessly to job and waste local funds, and notably to plunder
Irish landlords; but this restriction only applies to agricultural lands;
it does not extend to property in towns; and it is difficult to say that
it will always prove effective against democratic sentiment, passion, and
greed. The extent of the relief afforded to Irish landlords differs widely
as between landlords of different classes of tenants; landlords of mere
cottars will get very little; landlords of farmers of substance will get
much more; but it is unnecessary here to enlarge on this special
subject.[183]

This sweeping measure, in my judgment at least, might have been better
framed to carry out its policy. Like much of the legislation of the
Imperial Parliament, it has been fashioned too closely on the English
model; it gives to a poor and backward country, not trained in
self-government, local institutions naturally adapted only to an opulent
and well-ordered country accustomed for centuries to local liberties.
Having regard to the peculiar state of Ireland, it might have made the
powers of local government it conferred larger, but it ought not to have
been as purely democratic as it is; and it ought to have been accompanied
by safeguards it does not possess. I would have been disposed to give the
Irish County Councils a right to take evidence for private Bills on the
spot; this, if transmitted to the Irish Privy Council, and considered by
it, might be made the basis of reports by that body, which could be turned
into Acts of Parliament, by a summary process, thus getting rid of great
and useless expense, and silencing one of the few real arguments in favour
of Home Rule. I would also have allowed the County Councils of different
counties, in matters in which they had a common interest, say, in the
drainage of some of the great Irish rivers, to carry out together public
works of this kind, and to assess and levy rates for the purpose if, on
consideration, this was deemed expedient; at present they have no
authority like this; and such a power would, I think, be for the general
good of Ireland. The County Councils, too, I believe, might be given a
deliberative voice, in cases they have not at present; for example, should
the rate-payers of any county make a demand for sectarian education,
within its area, and declare themselves ready to pay a rate for it, the
County Council should have a right to entertain the project, and to report
on it to the Central Government. And I am convinced that members of the
County Councils ought to have some seats on the Local Government Board,
and on other boards now filled by the Castle bureaucracy; this would
introduce a popular element into these bodies, and, in many ways, would be
of real advantage. On the other hand, in the election and the constitution
of the County and other Councils, democracy has simply been let run riot;
and the resulting evils have already been made manifest. Illiterate
persons ought not to have been qualified to be electors; the single should
not have replaced the cumulative vote, property being thus deprived of its
legitimate weight; above all, as is evident, security should have been
taken that the landed gentry should have a proper representation on the
County Councils. The authority, too, of the Superior Courts over all these
assemblies should have been made more effective and less costly than it is
at present; and that of the Local Government Board should have been better
defined and increased. In all this province the checks possessed by the
Central Government over these local democracies are not, I think,
sufficient.

It is impossible, I have remarked, to say with certainty what the end of
this social revolution will be; but some of the results are, even now,
apparent. There has, as yet, been little tendency in the local boards to
waste, or to attempts to despoil the landed gentry; the check in this
respect is of great force; but no one, I repeat, can predict what may be
done under the influence of democratic sympathies, especially should the
existing agitation acquire increased strength in Ireland. Some of the
councils have been very fairly managed; a few others have been badly
administered; as a rule, much time has been misspent in irrelevant talk;
there has been a good deal of squabbling with the Local Government Board;
but, on the whole, the local business of the counties and towns has been
conducted as reasonably well as could be expected in the case of a new and
immense experiment. But the consequences of giving raw democracies great
and sudden power have already been made but too manifest, as persons, who
knew Ireland, foresaw would happen. In parts of Ulster representatives of
the landed gentry have been elected to the County Councils; property in
these has still legitimate influence. But in Leinster, Munster, and
Connaught, this order of men has been all but completely shut out from
these boards; the land is not represented at all; this is an absolutely
unnatural position of affairs, pregnant with many ills to the community as
a whole. It is not only that the landed gentry have been deprived of an
influence they ought to possess, in a society in any degree well ordered;
this change has a tendency to make them more and more, what they have
largely been made already, a privileged class without duties, akin to the
old seigneurie of France, a state of things of which Tocqueville has
powerfully described the evils. In the southern provinces, too, the new
democracies, composed of Catholic 'Nationalists,' by large majorities,
have driven loyal, and especially Protestant, men and women from local
offices they had filled with credit, and this too at a considerable charge
on the rates, a clear proof how no restraints can be wholly effective. But
the main feature in the conduct of the County and other Councils is that
in most parts of Ireland they have followed the advice given by Parnell to
their weaker forerunners; they have made themselves agencies of the United
Irish League, as boards before them were agencies of the Land and the
National Leagues, and they have given but too ample proof of disaffection,
disloyalty, and hatred of British rule. In some counties, the councils
seized the court houses, and refused light and fire to the Superior and
the County Court judges. Throughout the South of Ireland most of the
boards vied with each other in wild expressions of sympathy with the
Boers, and of hopes that disaster would befall the British army; many gave
free voice to frankly rebellious language; many denounced Irishmen being
recruited for the British army. Nor did these sinister exhibitions end
here; some of these bodies went out of their way to sneer at their aged
sovereign, when she paid last year her last visit to the Irish shores, to
question her motives, to speak all kinds of evil; a few even refused to
say a word of regret for her death, nay, indulged in language of scarcely
veiled insult. These councils, in a word, in a number of instances, have
shown a marked resemblance to the Assemblies of the Communes of Jacobin
France, indignantly held up to execration by Burke; they have been petty
nests of seditious agitation and clamour. It is at least well that this
manner of men has not succeeded, in the great statesman's language, in
'ascending from parochial tyranny to federal anarchy' and have warned us
what would be the nature of a Home Rule Parliament.

This scheme of local government must be given a trial; but ultimately it
will have to be reformed, in a Conservative sense, if things in Ireland
are not to be left upside down.[184] I turn to the subject of Irish
education, which has been lately attracting much public attention.
University education is the most prominent part of this question; but, in
order to understand it, we must briefly consider the history of Irish
education in all its branches. The first scheme of primary education in
Ireland, of which we have a record--I pass over the traditions of the
Middle Ages--was due to the policy of Henry VIII.; he procured an Act
from the Irish Parliament, to the effect that elementary schools should be
set up in different Irish parishes; but, true to the ideal of Tudor
statesmen--an ideal, however, which he did not always pursue--he required
that these should be 'English schools,' to teach the Irish poor 'the
English language.' Many years passed before these schools were found
beyond the borders of the Pale; but, as the march of conquest advanced,
they existed in many Irish parishes; there were more than five hundred of
them in 1810, the largest number probably they ever attained. These
schools were originally intended to be open without distinction of creed;
but, under the conditions of Irish history, they necessarily became
confined to the lower Protestant classes; they were under the control of
the clergy of the Established Church, and Catholic children were kept away
from them. Elizabeth founded another class of schools, in part elementary,
in part of a higher type; these were known as the Diocesan Irish Schools;
but there seem never to have been more than sixteen of these; and they,
too, became exclusively Protestant. To these schools should be added 'the
English Erasmus Smith Schools,' as they were called, foundations grafted,
so to speak, on grammar schools established by a wealthy Cromwellian
settler; at one time they were more than one hundred in number; and if not
wholly, they were nearly confined to Protestant children. A series of
Reports of Commissions and other records show that the education afforded
in all these schools was not what it ought to have been; but this was to
be expected in the case of a country where Protestant ascendency was
supreme, where all administration was selfish and corrupt, and where the
schools were the monopoly of a fraction of the people only. As to the
education of the Irish Catholic poor in these centuries, it was
discouraged, and ultimately prohibited by the penal code; the Catholic
child could not learn the rudiments in his own land; but in spite of
this, 'hedge schools,' a significant name, grew up, in hundreds,
throughout the country, in which, to adopt the words of Davis, a man of
genius--

  'Still crouching 'neath the sheltering hedge, or stretched on mountain
        fern,
  The teacher and his pupils met feloniously to learn.'

As may, however, be supposed the instruction afforded in these schools was
usually bad; throughout the eighteenth century and a part of the
nineteenth, the young of Catholic Ireland were brought up in ignorance. In
1733 an odious experiment was made, and continued for a long period, to
cause education to wean the Catholic child from his faith. An institution,
called the Charter School, was established; the object of its founders was
to make 'the young of the Papists' Protestant, by attracting them to
seminaries where they were kept apart from their parents and priests,
boarded, lodged, and handed over to Protestant tradesmen; millions were
spent in furthering a detestable policy, which literally set up Mammon
against God. The Charter Schools, however, completely failed; they never
had more than fourteen hundred pupils, and they became wretched Dotheboys
Halls where cruel and pampered Squeerses, eating up funds set apart for
education such as it was, starved and ill-treated children victims of
every kind of disease.

When the partial relaxation of the penal laws allowed the children of the
Irish Catholics to be taught the rudiments, the 'Christian Brothers' began
to found their schools, under the sanction of a Bull of Pius VI.; these
schools, sectarian, like the genius of the Irish people, have, though
receiving no endowment from the State, grown from small beginnings into a
number of excellent Catholic schools. The Quakers in Ireland had
established a few elementary schools before the Union; and so had the
Presbyterians of Ulster. The Charter Schools lingered down to the year
1832; they disappeared when their subsidies ceased; but the 'Incorporated
Irish Society' is in possession of the lands they once held, and it
supports a number of good Protestant schools. Primary education, however,
in Ireland remained very backward; the Protestant schools did not
flourish; the Catholic 'hedge schools' continued until the nineteenth
century had far advanced. Attempts were made to promote Irish primary
education, in different ways, after the Union; a Board of Commissioners of
Education was appointed, and made valuable reports; but these efforts were
of little avail for the benefit at least of the Catholic young; the
schools thus established were all Protestant; and the evangelical
movement, which was then powerful, made them proselytising with scarcely a
single exception, a danger which the example of the Charter Schools had
especially made the Catholic Irish priesthood dread. An institution,
however, called the 'Kildare Place Schools' had, for a time, considerable
success; these schools were thrown open to children of all creeds, and had
the high approval of O'Connell himself; but it was one of the rules that
the Bible should be read in the schools; they became proselytising in no
doubtful sense, and ultimately they were tabooed by the Catholic
priesthood. Primary education in Ireland was in this state, when the
subject was taken up by Mr. Stanley, the Chief Secretary for Ireland of
Lord Grey, and, in after years, the 'Rupert of Debate.' He founded in
1831-34 what has ever since been known as the 'National System of
Education' of an elementary kind in Ireland. The principles on which he
proceeded were in accord with the somewhat shallow Liberalism of the day,
but, it must be added, with the ideas of many enlightened Irishmen.
Primary education was to be endowed by the State, but it was to be divided
into two parts: secular instruction was to be given in the new schools to
children assembled together to learn, and that without distinction of
creed; but religious instruction was to be given to children kept apart,
Protestants and Catholics being completely separate, by the pastors of
their respective communions. By these means it was hoped that a sound
system of primary education would be formed; that proselytising would be
made impossible; and that the youth of the warring races and faiths of
Ireland, under the influence of a common teaching, would be made gradually
to forget the animosities of the past. The National Schools were to be the
Lethe of Irish discords.

I can barely glance at the chequered history of the institution which was
thus established. The 'National System,' the name long in common use, was
angrily condemned by the clergy of the Established Church of Ireland, and
by a majority, perhaps, of the laity; this opposition was partly due to
the spirit of an ascendency that would not brook equality; but it was
largely to be ascribed to a higher motive. The new system, it was argued,
cut education in two; the separation of what is secular from what is
religious practically postpones what is divine to the human; and this is
especially the case under the arrangements in force, for religious
instruction in the schools may be a mere accident. The Irish Protestant
clergy, and many other Protestants, have never taken to the National
Schools; their sincerity is proved by the fact that a 'Church Education
Society' exists, which, though depending on voluntary subscriptions alone,
supports nearly two hundred exclusively Protestant schools. As for the
Presbyterians of Ireland, the National system of education fell in with
their views; its 'Liberalism' was congenial to them; but though schools of
this type have flourished in Ulster, the Presbyterians have given a great
deal of trouble to the Commissioners charged to carry out the law, and
have shown much animosity to the Catholic Irish. The Irish Catholic
priesthood at first accepted the National system almost with gratitude; it
gave their flocks a rudimentary instruction they were much in need of; it
seemed to provide against the proselytising they feared above all things;
and during some years the heads of their Church in Ireland, for the most
part not of the Ultramontane faith, were not indisposed to welcome a
compromise. By degrees, however, opposition grew up in Catholic Ireland
against the system; and, it must be allowed, not without reason. The
Catholic element on the Commission was much too weak; the purely secular
instruction in the schools was made partly religious, for books of a
Protestant complexion found their way into them; a cry of Protestant
proselytising was raised; and the National system was solemnly condemned
in 1850, at the great Catholic Synod of Thurles, a sentence, however,
which had no effect on the Government. But the real grievances of the
Irish Catholics, in this matter, have nearly all been removed; the
Catholic Commissioners have been made equal in number with the
Presbyterian and Protestant; secular instruction in the schools has again
been made strictly secular; attempts at proselytising have long been
rendered impossible; it should be added--and this is very important--the
Catholic priesthood have become the managers of a large majority of the
schools. The system has certainly struck deep roots in Ireland; there are
now nearly 9000 National Schools, endowed with about £1,300,000 by the
State, and teaching nearly 800,000 pupils; they are supported by model and
training schools, and have a large staff of competent teachers; the
instruction they afford, if not remarkable, is, on the whole, sufficiently
good. It may fairly be said that the National system has been a beneficent
influence of the greatest value; light has shone on a people that once
sate in darkness. The system, however, has become, insensibly, but
greatly, changed; the National Schools have long been, for the most part,
sectarian, that is, composed of Protestant or of Catholic children; the
'mixed' schools, as they are called, are comparatively few. But the main
principle of the system still is in force; the instruction given in the
schools, when the pupils sit together, is strictly secular; and this is
secured by a conscience clause; the Bible cannot be read, in school hours,
even in a Protestant school; no Catholic school can have a Catholic
emblem. The religious instruction given in the schools is hardly what it
ought to be, especially in the case of the Protestant schools; it must be
added that the hope of their founders that they would bridge over the gulf
of discords in Ireland has not been, in the slightest degree, realised.

The Irish are, naturally, a religious people; their history, a long
conflict of races and faiths, has, necessarily, made them intensely
sectarian. The system of education, of which I have traced the outlines,
was certainly not well designed for them; it would have been severely
condemned by Burke, the deepest of thinkers on the affairs of Ireland. And
though the National system has had a real measure of success, it owes
this, in the main, to the immense subvention it receives from the State;
it has little or no support from voluntary aid; an attempt to impose an
education rate on Ireland would be a failure, would not improbably wreck
the system. Nor is this in harmony with genuine Irish sentiment; one of
the most conclusive proofs is that National education has become, to a
great extent, sectarian; the 'Christian Brothers' and the 'Church
Education Society' schools, sustained by voluntary effort alone, and
overweighted in the race by the endowed schools of the State, show how
strong is Irish sectarian feeling. The clergy, too, of the late
Established Church, and a considerable body of their communion, remain
hostile to the National Schools; and though the Catholic priesthood have
made them, to a great extent, their own, and avail themselves of the
advantages they afford, they are hardly in heartfelt sympathy with them.
Nor can it be denied that the conscientious objections to the National
system have real weight; the system, if not irreligious, is, we may say,
neutral; it does not make religion an essential part of school life. It
would, nevertheless, I believe, be exceedingly unwise to disturb a system
which, on the whole, has for many years had excellent results in Ireland.
The opposition to it is not strong; the children of the humbler classes
freely avail themselves of it, and that with the full consent of their
parents. Nor is the conscientious objection of much force in the case of
schools which are only day schools, and in which the rudiments alone are
taught; this is not the case of education of the higher kind, in which
this objection is perhaps decisive; and it cannot be said that the
National Schools have, in any sense, impaired the religion of the Irish
people.[185]

I pass from elementary to schools of a secondary kind in Ireland. The
Diocesan Schools of Elizabeth were nearly all secondary schools; but they
were never numerous, and have all but disappeared. The two first Stuarts
made an attempt to establish secondary education in Ireland on a larger
scale. They founded the 'Free Royal Schools,' as they have been called,
now seen at Armagh, Cavan, Dungannon, Portora, and Raphoe; they endowed
them with lands perhaps worth in our day, £6000 a year; they looked
forward to a time when they might rival Eton, Winchester, and the great
public schools of England. Erasmus Smith established three considerable
'grammar schools,' and granted valuable estates for their support; a
tolerably large number of secondary schools was also founded, from time to
time, by benefactors of the dominant race in Ireland: of these Kilkenny
College, a seminary created by the House of Ormond, which reared Swift and
Berkeley, was the most conspicuous. These schools, though often nominally
open to different creeds, became, nevertheless, in the eighteenth century,
under the Protestant ascendency, supreme in the land, restricted to the
young of the Protestant caste; they felt the effects of monopoly, and of
the corruption prevailing in the State; the education they afforded was,
for the most part, bad; their governing bodies and masters were often
grasping and selfish. After the relaxation of the penal code, the Irish
Catholics began to found secondary schools; their exertions were, in a
high degree, praiseworthy; and though these schools received no support
from the State, some of them have done really excellent work. A number,
too, of secondary schools were established in Ulster, for the most part
for Presbyterian uses; some of these are sectarian, some open to all
faiths; some have, others have not, received assistance from the State; in
several the education given has been, on the whole, good. A few secondary
schools--St. Columba is much the best--have also been founded within the
last century, usually for the benefit of the late Established Church of
Ireland.

The progress made by secondary schools in Ireland, even in the nineteenth
century, has not been rapid. It is not to be named with the immense
development of public schools in England, within the same period, caused,
in some measure, by the genius of Arnold; secondary Irish schools, in
fact, have been largely a failure, like other institutions of British
origin. This is mainly to be attributed to three reasons: the higher upper
classes in Ireland usually send their sons to be educated in the great
English public schools; the Irish secondary schools are seldom well
endowed; above all, the upper middle class in Ireland is small and has
little influence. Two Commissions, appointed in 1854 and in 1878, examined
secondary education in Ireland as it then existed; their reports give a
far from favourable account of the system. The secondary Irish schools
have not been much affected by an Act of Parliament passed in 1885, which
provided for making better schemes for their management; but certainly
they have derived very great benefit from the Intermediate Education Act
of Lord Cairns, which established a system of competition between them,
and secured prizes for successful competitors. In these honourable trials
the Catholic schools have done well; but even now the secondary schools
are decidedly inferior to what they ought to be, and do not exhibit many
signs of improvement. An impartial inquirer thus described them in
1871:[186] 'Upon the whole, secondary instruction, throughout the country,
was as some one--I believe Lord Cairns--said, "bad in quality and
deficient in quantity." The fact seems incredible, but there can be no
doubt of its authenticity, viz. that out of a total population of
5,500,000, there were only 10,814 boys in Ireland learning Latin, Greek,
or modern languages in 1871. Or, to put the matter in another way, while
in England about ten or fifteen in every 1000 were instructed in these
languages, only two in every 1000 were instructed in them in
Ireland.'[187]

I pass on to University life in Ireland, the question, I have said, most
prominent at this time. Ireland had no Oxford or Cambridge in the Middle
Ages; an attempt to establish a University in Dublin failed; science and
literature could not grow up in a land distracted by feudal and tribal
strife, and in which two Churches were continually at war with each other.
Elizabeth founded Trinity College towards the close of her reign, on the
site of a monastery that had been suppressed; it was the intention of the
queen, and of her two first successors, that this seminary should expand
into a University in the true sense, containing a number of colleges
within its sphere, and probably open to all students whatever their race
or their faith. This happy consummation, however, was made impossible
during the long period of civil war and trouble, which only came to an end
with that of the seventeenth century. Trinity College remained a single
foundation; and, in the era of Protestant ascendency that ensued, when
Catholic Ireland lay under the ban of the penal code, it necessarily
became an exclusively Protestant place of learning, its dignities, its
honours, nay, admission to it, being reserved to members of the
Established Church. It had, however, been amply endowed; and, from an
early period, it possessed many distinguished worthies, the names of
Ussher, of King, of Browne, and of others, being still remembered. Trinity
College, strange to say, was very High Church during the reigns of the two
last Stuarts and of Anne; its leading divines preached the creed of
passive obedience; and it was remarkable for its aversion to Presbyterian
Ireland, as was clearly shown in the diatribes of Swift. The college,
however, became Whiggish and Low Church during the reign of Walpole--its
Provost was appointed by the Crown; and until nearly the close of the
eighteenth century, its professorships, its fellowships, its scholarships,
its degrees, even entrance to its walls, were strictly confined to the
dominant communion of the Anglican Church. But a liberal spirit grew up,
and gained strength within it; this appears in many of the admirable
writings of Berkeley, breathing the ideas that afterwards inspired
Grattan, and in the histories of Leland and Warner, on the whole just to
the vanquished Catholic people; and after the almost National movement
which produced the Revolution of 1782, Trinity College took a remarkable
step, which proved that it was in advance of the politics of that age. In
1793, when the Irish Parliament passed a great measure of Catholic relief,
the college made Catholics eligible for its degrees and its minor prizes;
and, but that its statutes made this impossible, it would, perhaps, have
allowed Catholics to become professors, fellows, and scholars--in short,
to have a share in its dignities and its government. Nothing like this was
done at Oxford and Cambridge until the nineteenth century had run far its
course.

From this time onwards Trinity College, accessible to Presbyterians some
years before, received Catholics honourably within its precincts. A few
distinguished Catholic Irishmen have obtained the excellent education it
has always afforded; and these have been treated with scrupulous fairness;
no attempt at proselytising has ever been made or thought of. Their
numbers, however, have never been large; and they were necessarily placed
in an inferior position, for they could not become professors, fellows, or
scholars; the college remained an institution essentially Protestant, even
anti-Catholic, in much of its teaching, for example, in the predilection
it long showed for Locke. The college continued to thrive and to make
progress; the reproach cast on it that she was the 'silent sister,' was
rather due to the want of publishing enterprise in the Irish capital, than
to any deficiency in literary power; at all events, it has long ago been
removed; Trinity College has stood for a century in the foremost rank of
places of learning famed for scientific eminence. In 1843-44 an attempt
was made to introduce Catholics on the foundation, as scholars; but this
was prohibited by the statutes; some 'non-foundation' scholarships were
then endowed; and Catholics were enabled to compete for them. This was the
position of the college, when, in 1844-45, after the agitation for Repeal
had shown how disaffected Catholic Ireland still was, Peel turned his mind
to Irish remedial measures, and among these to a reform of high education
in Ireland. His policy was to maintain the Union intact, and all the
institutions closely connected with it, but to create institutions, so to
speak, alongside of these, to which Irish Presbyterians, and Catholics
especially, might freely resort, in complete equality with all Irishmen;
he therefore left Trinity College exactly as it was, but resolved to
establish and endow places of learning, which he hoped would be popular
supplements to it, and would give a University training to students who,
as affairs stood, were not on the same level as the favoured Protestants
in it. He founded the Queen's Colleges of Belfast, of Cork, and of Galway;
these were supplied with an ample staff of professors, endowed, and given
the means to bestow many prizes; and they were affiliated to the Queen's
University, empowered to confer degrees. The principle on which these
institutions were formed was, following the so-called liberalism of the
time, almost exactly the same as that on which the Irish National Schools
had been based. Secular education in them was to be united, religious
education was to be kept apart; their students were to learn the things
that belonged to this world together; but as to what belonged to another
world, this teaching was to be provided by their pastors outside their
colleges, and they were not to have it in common. The colleges, and the
University, therefore, were essentially seats of non-religious knowledge;
religious equality, it was said, could be only thus secured; and residence
in the colleges was not required.

The principle pervading the Irish National education system was certainly
open to grave objections; these became infinitely stronger, when it was
applied to a system of high education in Ireland. Secular instruction
could be really combined, and given to children together, when limited to
the first rudiments: how could it be combined when it should embrace such
subjects as moral philosophy, metaphysics, modern history, nay, physical
science, and when taught to young men of the University age? Besides,
religious instruction, without a great shock to conscience, could be made
a subordinate consideration in mere day schools: how could it,
consistently with Christian duty, be practically excluded from a
University course, and left to undergraduates to be dealt with as they
might think fit, and that at the most critical time of their life?
Indifference to the Divine, masked in specious 'liberal' phrases, was, in
truth, the cardinal feature of this scheme; it would have been severely
reprobated by Burke; it was repugnant to the ideas of five-sixths of
Irishmen; its tendency was to form minds in superior men, like those of
Hume and Gibbon, in inferior men, to produce infidel, even atheistic,
sentiments. It was denounced as 'godless' in the House of Commons by the
High Church party; it was condemned by O'Connell, from the outset, though
the men of 'Young Ireland' were not adverse; after some hesitation, it was
rejected unequivocally by the Irish Catholic bishops,[188] and finally was
held up to anathema at the Synod of Thurles. That the bishops were sincere
is proved by the fact, that they established the Irish Catholic University
a few years afterwards--the first head of this creation was Newman; and
the foundation has been maintained ever since, though it could not give a
degree, and it received nothing from the State, and its only funds were
the contributions of a poor communion, a noble example of self-sacrifice
and of a true sense of duty. Meanwhile, the Queen's Colleges and
University were kept up and endowed, at the rate of about £30,000 a year;
the College of Belfast has done well, for it falls in with Presbyterian
ideas; but the Colleges of Cork and of Galway, notably the last, have been
sorry, nay, almost useless, failures; and Peel's hope that his project
would secure a good University training to Irish Catholics of the better
class has not been, to any real extent, fulfilled. Trinity College
remained for many years unchanged, that is, it gave an admirable education
to a very few Catholics; but it continued to be a Protestant institution
in its essential nature; its governing body and its hierarchy were all
Protestant; its teaching was Protestant in some of its parts; its higher
honours were a monopoly of the favoured communion.

The extreme unfairness of this University system, the ascendency secured
to Trinity College, which, admirable institution as it was, was
practically nearly confined to Protestants of the upper class; the
failure, with respect to Catholic Ireland, of the Queen's Colleges and the
Queen's University, and the large and useless expenditure this involved;
above all, the denial to the Catholic University of any share in the
bounty of the State, though its claim to it could be hardly
doubtful,--attracted the attention of several statesmen, from 1850 to
1870; but nothing was done, or even attempted. The subject was taken up by
Mr. Gladstone, with characteristic earnestness, during his first Ministry;
he declared that University education in Ireland was 'a scandal;' indeed,
Irish education of the higher kind was the third branch of the upas tree
which threw its baleful shade over the land. He brought in a measure of
reform in the session of 1873; it was an ambitious and a comprehensive
scheme; but it was much the worst of his Irish reforms of this period; and
it ended in complete and disastrous failure. With the historical instinct
occasionally seen in his legislation, Mr. Gladstone proposed to revive the
idea of Elizabeth and the first Stuarts, and to found a great National
University, which was to have the management and control of the higher
education throughout Ireland. The governing body of this new institution
was to be composed partly of men chosen by the Lord-Lieutenant, and partly
of the heads of the colleges to be connected with it; and it was to have
the sole power of conferring degrees in Ireland. Trinity College was to
hand over to the National University a sum of £12,000 a year, that is,
more than a fourth of its endowments from the State; its professorships,
its fellowships, its scholarships, in a word, all its prizes, were to be
thrown open to all its students whatever their faith; but in most other
respects it was not to be essentially changed, except as to the power of
granting degrees. Trinity College was to be affiliated to the National
University as a dependent college, and so were a number of minor colleges;
but this remarkable distinction was made in homage to the 'liberalism' of
the day: the Queen's Colleges, that of Galway being suppressed as useless,
were to retain the endowments they received from the State, on the ground
that they were free to all comers; but the Catholic University was not to
obtain a shilling, nor yet other colleges of a sectarian type, on the
ground that they were 'close and exclusive,' this being the case of all
the Catholic colleges that could be affiliated to the new foundation. The
Queen's University was to be abolished, for the National University was to
be sole and supreme; and then came provisions, which, strange as they may
appear at first sight, were perhaps inevitable under the conditions on
which the project was formed. Moral philosophy, metaphysics, and modern
history were shut out from the National University course; they might be
taught in the colleges, but were to be no part of University learning. And
the National University, like the Queen's Colleges, was to be
'non-religious;' its system of education was to be secular and united,
that is its students were to be examined together in secular learning, but
in religious matters they were to stand apart; religion, indeed, might be
a subject of college teaching, but it was not to be heard of within the
University walls; in fact, it was probably to be left to the students and
their clergy.

This complicated measure, not easy thoroughly to understand, was
sustained, for a few days, by the glamour of Mr. Gladstone's rhetoric. But
ere long it arrayed against it an immense preponderance of opinion in
Ireland, and was assailed with fatal effect in the House of Commons. The
Heads of Trinity College took the initiative in declaring against it; in
debates, wise, patriotic, and just alike, they recognised the claims of
Catholic Ireland; but they protested against the wrong being done to the
great and ancient foundation they represented, and especially against the
degradation to which it was subjected by the Bill. Trinity College was to
be deprived for no reason of a large part of its revenue; it was to be
placed under a governing body, in which nominees of the Castle would be
all-powerful--an influence pernicious to its independence and
self-government; above all, the National University was to supplant it,
and was to exclude from its teaching the noblest studies of the intellect
of man. The Platonism which had inspired Berkeley, the records which had
animated the genius of Burke, and had been fostered in the Alma mater of
these great worthies, were to be banished from a foundation which was to
be made the head of University life in Ireland. These sentiments were
fully shared by enlightened Irishmen: that moral and metaphysical science
and modern history should be virtually proscribed in the University about
to be set up, was, as it were, putting out one of the eyes of the
intellect, effacing what was best in the map of knowledge. But the most
decisive condemnation of the scheme was that pronounced by the Irish
Catholic bishops. Like their predecessors of nearly thirty years before,
and the Anglican High Church party of that day, they asserted that the
project was really 'godless;' it was irreligion in the mask of
non-religion; its liberalism was in the highest degree illiberal, for it
offered their flocks a system of education it was known they would reject;
and it was flagrantly, nay, basely, unjust, for while Trinity College, and
the Queen's Colleges, and the Queen's University, were to remain endowed,
the Catholic University and all Catholic colleges were to get nothing from
the State. These arguments made their way into the House of Commons, and
were vindicated in speeches of great ability. Disraeli dwelt especially on
the poverty and the imperfection of a University scheme, in which the
finest branches of knowledge were not to enter; he frankly denounced the
Bill as 'atheistic,' an epithet which Burke assuredly would have fastened
on it. Other speakers, notably Ball, a very brilliant Irishman, enlarged
on the wrong done to Trinity College, and earnestly advocated the Catholic
claims; not only was the minister offering a stone for bread, he was
virtually trying to bribe the Irish Catholic into accepting institutions
he disliked, and in the attempt was deeply offending his conscience.
Notwithstanding the efforts of a powerful Government, the Bill was
rejected by the House of Commons; nearly all the Irish members voted
against it, and so did the best men of the Liberal party.

The year that witnessed the collapse of Mr. Gladstone's measure,
witnessed, also, a reform of Trinity College conceived in the spirit of
the 'liberalism' of the hour, and hailed as an illustration of what is
called progress. The government, the dignities, and the prizes of the
college were thrown open to all without regard to their creed; this was
welcomed as 'University equality' in the most perfect sense. It is a
mistake to suppose that a corresponding change was ever made at Oxford and
Cambridge; the extension of their privileges to persons whatever their
faith, has, thanks to the exertions of the late Lord Selborne, been
strictly confined to lay offices; the religious character and teaching of
the Universities have been carefully preserved.[189] Though Trinity
College has been made 'non-religious' by this measure, and that to such a
degree that its governing body might conceivably be composed of avowed
atheists, it has, nevertheless, to this day remained a Protestant
institution in all essential respects. Its professors, fellows, and
scholars have, since 1873, been nearly all Protestants; its Catholic
students are not eight in a hundred of the number as a whole; and the
chief practical result of the late reform has been to make the heads of
the Irish Catholic Church more opposed than before to seeing Catholics
enter its precincts. In 1879, Lord Beaconsfield's Ministry made an attempt
to diminish the injustice done to Irish Catholics by the system of
University education still in force in Ireland. The Queen's University was
abolished; a Royal University was established, which was enabled to confer
degrees on, and to give prizes to, the students of the Catholic University
and other colleges; but the Royal University is a mere Examining Board; it
is not a University properly so called. One incident connected with this
institution deserves attention; the success of the students of Catholic
colleges at the Royal University examinations has been so great, that it
ought to silence jeers at the 'superstition' which keeps them back, the
vulgar cant of ignorant prejudice or worse.[190] Meanwhile the iniquities
and anomalies of the Irish University system have continued but very
little changed.[191] Trinity College remains a Protestant institution
well endowed, almost a monopoly of the Protestant upper class in Ireland,
practically little resorted to by Irish Catholics; the Queen's Colleges
are avoided by the Irish Catholics, as being 'irreligious' if called
'non-religious,' though the College of Belfast suits Presbyterian views;
they, too, receive a large bounty from the State; but the Catholic
University, the true seminary for the upper middle Catholic classes, and
now divided into different colleges, is still, as such, left out in the
cold. Its students, no doubt, can obtain Royal University degrees, and
some of its professors have been placed as examiners on that foundation;
but it is the veriest mockery to call this justice when we look at Trinity
College and the Queen's Colleges. 'The words of scripture are reversed,'
in Macaulay's language; 'the rich are filled with good things and the
hungry are sent empty away.'

I do not envy those who, whatever their reasons, refuse to acknowledge the
wrong done by these arrangements. It will hardly be denied, in the
twentieth century, that Protestant ascendency ought not to exist in any
sphere of Irish affairs, and that in University life, as in all matters,
Irish Catholics ought to have civil equality, and that without a violation
of the rights of conscience. It has been triumphantly maintained that, in
high education, these conditions are actually fulfilled in Ireland;
Trinity College and the Queen's Colleges are accessible to all students,
without regard to their religion or no religion; these have a perfectly
equal right to share in the government and the honours of institutions
thrown completely open. But those who argue in this way either shut their
eyes to facts, or will not perceive that this fine 'liberalism' in Ireland
works sheer injustice. Catholics are but a handful of students in Trinity
College and the Queen's Colleges compared to what their natural proportion
ought to be; Trinity College, if nominally open, is in all essential
respects Protestant; the Queen's Colleges as being 'non-religious,' that
is, in the view of their Church 'irreligious,' are practically avoided by
Irish Catholics; yet the State endows Trinity College and the Queen's
Colleges; it starves the Catholic University and other Catholic colleges,
which are thus unfairly handicapped by their rivals. If this is not
furthering Protestant ascendency in Irish high education, and denying
civil equality to Irish Catholics who, in this matter, will not forego the
rights of conscience, I do not know what else it can be; it seems to me to
be iniquity in no doubtful sense. And are the objections of the Irish
Catholics, in this province, as 'irrational' and 'superstitious' as has
been scoffingly said? Reverse the case of Trinity College: suppose that
England was a Catholic Power, and that she kept up a great Catholic
University in the Irish capital, discountenancing Protestant institutions
in many ways, how many Protestants would enter its walls, how soon would
the cry of Catholic ascendency be raised? Or suppose that Oxford and
Cambridge were made 'non-religious,' as the Queen's Colleges in Ireland
are, would not an immense majority of English parents declare that these
seats of learning were 'godless,' and persistently keep their sons away
from them? The simple truth is that the Catholic objections to Trinity
College and the Queen's Colleges are really those which, in this matter,
have been entertained by the deepest thinkers; to my mind, at least, they
seem perfectly well-founded. As to the statement that these objections are
those of the Irish Catholic bishops alone, and are mere 'superstitious
fancies,' it is enough to reply that, on two occasions, the Irish
Catholic laity have distinctly pronounced on this subject, and have
declared that they agree with the heads of their Church. And as to the
argument that Catholic States do not endow sectarian institutions like the
Catholic University and other Irish Catholic colleges, it will be quite
time enough to examine this when anything like such a state of things can
be found as that which at present exists in Ireland.

One argument, however, seldom frankly set forth, but hinted at in a
variety of ways, has been a real obstacle to a reform of this vicious
system; it strongly appeals to British national prejudice, of all
aberrations of opinion the most difficult to overcome. 'Popery,' it is
said, is a 'detestable thing;' a 'Protestant' State 'must have nothing to
do with it;' to endow a Catholic University in Ireland, therefore, or any
colleges of the same complexion, would be 'sacrificing to Baal,' or
something as wicked. Catholic Ireland must put up with Trinity College and
the Queen's Colleges, which have been made open to all sorts and
conditions of men; its 'conscientious objections' are mere 'bigotry.' This
reasoning, which condemns as impious the religion of the greatest part of
Christendom, would unfortunately overthrow many arrangements by which
provision has been made in our 'Protestant' State for Catholic
institutions of different kinds; if pushed to its consequences, it would
revive the penal code in Ireland, and lead to the confiscation of Catholic
charities. But though it has still indirectly an effect on some
politicians, it is, in its naked simplicity, only the faith of Mr. Kensit
and of those who walk in his footsteps; it is worthy of the philosophy of
Lord George Gordon, of the meekness of Orangeism, of the bray of Exeter
Hall. For some time a turn in British opinion has happily taken place;
'liberalism,' it has been perceived, in Irish University education has
failed; Mr. Arthur Balfour has made himself conspicuous in advocating the
just claims of Catholic Ireland. Even as I write a Commission is being
appointed to consider the whole subject of University life in Ireland;
there can be no reasonable doubt that it will fully bring to light the
anomalies and the unfairness of the existing system, and will recommend
that the Catholic University, and other Catholic colleges perhaps, shall
be endowed. In truth, things have already come to such a pass that Trinity
College, the one institution of which, it is said, 'all Irishmen are
really proud,' will, owing to the exceptional favour it receives from the
State, be placed in grave danger, and the Queen's Colleges also, if a
Catholic University in Ireland be not established and endowed, in order to
secure to the Irish Catholic civil equality, in high education, through
the assistance of the State.[192]

On what principles, then, and by what means, is University education in
Ireland to be so reformed as to do equal justice to all Irishmen, to place
Protestants, Presbyterians, and Catholics on the same level, and,
especially, to vindicate the rightful claims of Catholic Ireland? Two
leading projects have at least been sketched out: the first, the grander
and the more ambitious, but, in my judgment, scarcely possible to carry
into effect; the second, more simple, more in harmony with existing facts,
and, I think, safer and much more easy to realise. The first scheme,
following in some respects the measure of Mr. Gladstone of 1873, but
making a marked improvement on it, would aim at establishing and endowing
a National University for all Irishmen, which should have a power to
confer degrees, in common with the Royal University now existing, and
should have an ample professional staff; it should have its examinations
for degrees and for other honours. The governing body of this University
should be composed of the heads of the colleges affiliated to it--the
element of the Castle being excluded, according at least to the best
authorities--and Trinity College should not be deprived of any part of its
revenues, as it was to be under the Bill of 1873. Two of the Queen's
Colleges probably should be suppressed; but the College of Belfast, which
has been successful, should probably be made a Presbyterian college, at
least in the main; the endowments it would receive should be, doubtless,
increased. High Catholic education should be provided for in this way: The
Catholic University should be established and endowed, and placed
reasonably on a level with Trinity College, and perhaps other Catholic
colleges also; but, in consideration of this assistance from the State, a
lay element should be introduced into the Catholic University governing
body; this should not be composed wholly of Catholic clergymen; and the
teaching body should be composed of men, chosen without regard to
religious distinctions, but so constituted that a majority should be
Catholics, and that Catholic education should be predominant. Other
Catholic colleges might be connected with this institution; and Trinity
College, the Catholic University, and the Belfast and all other colleges,
should be subordinate to the National University in this sense; their
students should be obliged to resort to it, or to the Royal University if
they preferred it, in order to pass examinations, and to obtain degrees or
other honours, there being thus two Universities of different types in
Ireland. Education in all the affiliated colleges should be perfectly
free, that is, left to the arrangements made by their governing bodies;
but a certain standard of proficiency should exist, which, however, the
tests of University examinations would probably secure.

An Irish National University, could it be founded on these lines, would
present many attractive features, would realise, indeed, a noble ideal. It
would preserve Trinity College as a great place of learning, would give
Presbyterian Ireland a college practically its own, and ought to satisfy
the legitimate demands of Catholic Ireland. That its dependent colleges
should compete with each other for its degrees and honours, and be
friendly rivals in the splendid race of learning, would also be an immense
advantage; and the Royal University would, doubtless, suffice for students
too poor to enter the dependent colleges, and yet aspiring to pass
examinations and to obtain degrees. But could a National University of
this type be set up in Ireland with a prospect that it would succeed or
flourish? Its governing body would be formed of the heads of the colleges
connected with it; these would be mainly composed of Catholic and
Protestant divines: could these, in the existing state of Ireland, agree
as to the University course that ought to be adopted? Suppose that
Archbishop Walsh and Dr. Salmon, the venerable provost of Trinity College,
were together members of this supreme board. Would the first approve of
Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding as a subject of examination in
the University schools? Would the second approve of Bellarmine and even of
Bossuet? Dissension, I fear, would be the inevitable result; and in that
case 'the Castle' would certainly try to gain authority over the governing
body, and to place on it nominees of its own, in my judgment, an
exceedingly mischievous thing. Very probably, too, the State, in the long
run, would deprive Trinity College of some of its revenues, on different
pleas that could be plausibly urged; to this there would be the gravest
objections. And how could moral philosophy, metaphysics, and modern
history, nay, even physical science itself, be made parts of University
studies? How could Protestants and Catholics be examined in them in
common? Would it not be necessary to exclude them from University
teaching, as in the case of Mr. Gladstone's ill-starred measure--to close
the University to the best works of the intellect of man, to deprive it of
the most fruitful branches of learning? I fear the idea of a National
University, as affairs now stand in Ireland, is not likely to become a
reality with results that could be deemed hopeful. No doubt the Royal
University does, to some extent, have examinations on these debateable
subjects; but they occupy a very small place in its teaching; and in a
National University this ought not to be the case.

A National University would not be founded in Ireland under the second
project. Trinity College would remain completely intact; it would retain
its present governing body, its privileges, and its power of conferring
degrees. The Queen's Colleges--that of Galway being probably suppressed,
and its funds transferred to the College of Belfast--and the Royal
University would continue unchanged; the students of the Queen's Colleges
would probably seek degrees from the Royal University as they do at
present. But the Catholic University should be established and endowed,
and placed on the same level as Trinity College, as far as this could be
effected by law; the charge of the endowment would not be great--it would
be perhaps £100,000 for buildings, and perhaps £40,000 a year for other
purposes; but the students, and those of other colleges to be connected
with it, would not be numerous, at least for years; it should, of course,
have the power of conferring honours and degrees. In return for these
advantages, the State should have a right to insist that its governing
body should be in part laymen--the Irish Catholic bishops have already
agreed to this; and the State ought, also, to have a right to require
that the secular education it should afford should be good, a security
which could fully, if indirectly, be obtained. The advantages of this
scheme, it is obvious, are that it would get rid of the difficulties
inseparable from a National University in Ireland; it would preserve
Trinity College exactly as it is, an enormous gain for that great place of
learning; it would interfere as little as possible with things as they
are; and it would do all that Catholic Ireland could reasonably demand. It
is understood that a scheme of this description has the approval of the
authorities of Trinity College, and of their distinguished representative,
Mr. Lecky; their opinions are of the very greatest weight. The only real
objection made to this plan is one made by characteristic prejudice: the
education, in the Catholic University, it is said, would be bad, and its
degrees would be of no value. In the face of the success of Catholic
University students at the Royal University examinations, the first
assertion has been proved to be false; and besides, this is the affair of
the students and their parents alone. As to the inferiority of the
Catholic University degrees, there is no reason to believe that this would
exist; these degrees, moreover, would have to compete with those of the
Royal University and of Trinity College; if they were really inferior,
this would soon be found out, and the Catholic University would have to
increase their value. This is the true security the State and the public
would possess.

A few 'Present Irish Questions' remain, on which I may offer passing
remarks. Ireland is essentially a poor country; her middle class is
comparatively very weak; her trade and manufactures are small; the greater
part of the community is a Celtic race. It has long been contended by
well-informed Irishmen that many undertakings, which, in Great Britain,
have properly been left to private enterprise, ought, in Ireland, to be
carried out by the State, as for centuries has been the case in France, a
Celtic land, as was largely the case in Ireland under her extinct
Parliament. This observation especially applies to the Irish railway
system. As long ago as 1836, Thomas Drummond, the Under Secretary of
well-known renown, strongly recommended that Irish railways should be laid
out, managed, and controlled by the Government; but this was inconsistent
with English ideas; the Irish railways were abandoned to private
companies. The results have been very far from fortunate; many of the
lines have been badly designed; the Irish railway fares are a great deal
too high; too numerous boards of directors are a heavy charge; railway
communication, in a word, in Ireland is of an inferior kind, and much too
costly in a backward and poor country. Not indeed that the State has not
made large advances to Irish railway companies, some of these on terms
very unjust to ratepayers; but the system is faulty and ill-developed; a
reform in this direction is greatly wanted.[193] As Drummond insisted, the
State, even now, ought to buy up and direct the Irish railways; but this
is only a part of what it ought to do in this province. The material
condition of Ireland is not prosperous; her main river basins require
drainage; her whole arterial drainage is in a bad state, and has suffered
much from the legislation of 1881, and from the policy of so-called 'land
purchase,' for ordinary Irish tenants will not keep it up, and their
landlords cannot now be expected to do so; these works must be undertaken
by the State, or assuredly they will not be undertaken at all. Mr. Arthur
Balfour has done something in this direction by the encouragement of light
railways in remote parts of Ireland, and by the foundation of the
'Congested Districts Board,' an institution that has had excellent
results. But this is only the fringe of the subject; an enormous amount of
work remains to be done; and this, in the circumstances of Ireland, can
only be done by the Government.

In a book which has attracted some attention--'Ireland, 1798-1898'--I
wrote these words nearly four years ago: 'An Irishman, Wolseley, an
Irishman, Roberts, are the foremost of living British soldiers; but there
are no Irish Guards, and few Irishmen in our artillery; we see here a want
of tact and of sympathy.' Time, in this respect, has suddenly brought its
changes; has again illustrated the genius of the Irishman in war, and, in
some measure, has removed a reproach from England. It is true that the
conspiracy, which still exists in Ireland, did all that it could to
prevent Irishmen from taking part in the contest in South Africa, and that
even a petty Irish contingent appeared in the ranks of the Boers. But Lord
Wolseley had at least a great share in fitting out the largest expedition
which has ever left our shores to fight an enemy at a distance of six
thousand miles--no other power could do anything of the kind; and without
disparaging our other generals, the presence of a superior mind was at
once seen when Lord Roberts was given the supreme command in our army. And
the Irish soldiery who fought in the campaigns of 1899-1900 were true to
the noble traditions of their race; they were in the forefront of many a
bloody conflict; and now that a regiment of Irish Guards has been at last
embodied--a tardy acknowledgment of Irish military worth--England may rest
assured that these men will rival the famous Irish Brigade of another age,
'ever and everywhere true' to the Bourbon lilies, and conspicuous in the
service of France on many a field of renown. I may add a word on another
subject, in which Ireland perhaps has a just claim on England. The
descendants of the chiefs, who, in Scotland, clung to the cause of the
Stuarts, have, for the most part, regained their forfeited lands and
honours; no such reparation has been made to the descendants of Irish
nobles and princes, who supported the Stuarts in the nobler cause of
their country. The representative of the last of the Celtic kings of
Ireland--a man of large possessions and of unquestionable parts--has no
place on the roll of the peerage; the sons of ennobled Cromwellian
troopers and tradesmen have precedence at Court over the sons of the most
illustrious Milesian Houses. This is not a mere trifle as may carelessly
be said; it tends to revive memories that it were better to forget. Can
nothing be done to make a graceful concession, which would touch many an
Irish heart, and would go some way to promote a spirit of loyalty and hope
in Ireland, which it should be a great object of statesmanship to create
and foster?

If the picture I have drawn of Ireland is correct in outline, there is
much of evil omen in her present condition. The ancient divisions of race
and faith, the most distinctive feature in her social structure, are at
least as deeply marked as they have been for a century; bad legislation
has made them deeper and wider. Catholic Ireland remains disaffected to
British rule, despite efforts of conciliation and concessions that cannot
be justified; no class in the community is completely satisfied;
discontent rankles in the hearts of the landed gentry. The Union, indeed,
has been successfully maintained; the frightful agrarian disorder of
1881-89 no longer exists. But the Union is not permanently assured as long
as the Liberal party and eighty Irish members demand Home Rule, and the
over-representation of Ireland continues; the conspiracy of the Land and
the National Leagues has revived in that of the United Irish League; and
this seeks to compass the ends of its prototypes by obstruction in
Parliament and detestable socialistic tyranny. And the frame of Irish
society has been well-nigh shattered; ruins have been made, nothing solid
has been put in their place. An aristocracy, long waning, has been
practically destroyed, and can no longer be a support of the State; the
bureaucracy of the Castle reigns in its stead; but this is essentially a
weak Government; it can maintain order, but has no hold on the people; the
Irish democracy, to which power has been transferred, regards it with a
dislike and a contempt it does not try to conceal. The country has made
hardly any progress of late years; if some improvement in the state of the
middle classes appears, agriculture, its leading industry, has perceptibly
declined. In by far the most important of Irish social relations, those
connected with the land, a revolution has taken place; a huge if a veiled
confiscation has gone on; the landed gentry have been shamefully wronged;
the occupiers of the soil have been most unduly favoured; yet both classes
declare they have been ill-treated, notably the last. And the Irish land
system has been turned upside down, with consequences disastrous and
far-reaching; the landlord has been cut off from his estate; the tenant
has been encouraged in thriftlessness and waste by law; the land has been
bound in a ruinous mortmain, like that which existed under the penal code,
and subjected to demoralising litigation, breeding a war of class; capital
and fruitful enterprise turn away from it. And, at the same time, in order
to lessen these evils, recourse has been had to remedies that are perhaps
worse; the system of so-called 'land purchase' has been devised; the
result has been to create a class of peasant owners reproducing the nearly
extinct middleman, and, above all, to arouse a cry for the 'compulsory
purchase' of the rented lands of Ireland, an act of wholesale spoliation
unjust and disastrous alike. In the position of affairs we now see in
Ireland, the stability of society has been rudely shaken; the sense of the
security of property has well-nigh disappeared; the sanctity of contracts
has no respect; the pillars on which order and prosperity rest have been
injured; violent revolution has been arrested, indeed, but revolutionary
and socialistic ideas spread far and wide. And will any impartial inquirer
deny that these untoward results may be largely ascribed to the faulty
legislation of late years, and to a system of administration shifty and
feeble? And what judgment is to be passed on the thoughtless optimism too
common in opinion with respect to Ireland? Meanwhile, reforms imperatively
required are not even attempted; they are passed over or postponed to some
more convenient season. The time surely has come to look things in Ireland
straight in the face; to see if statesmanship cannot do something really
effective for her good. This end assuredly will not be attained by
breaking up the Three Kingdoms under the guise of Home Rule, or by
promoting a confiscation the worst Ireland has ever seen; still less will
it be attained by the quackery in legislation and administration too
apparent of late years; nor can trifling and foolish optimism blind the
eyes of intelligent thinkers to facts. Ireland can only expect to make
progress by ruling the community on the just and sound principles to which
long experience has given its sanction; and this consummation can only be
the slow result of time.



APPENDIX


THE IRISH GOVERNMENT BILL, 1886.

ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES.

Part I.

  _Legislative Authority._

  CLAUSE

  1. Establishment of Irish Legislature.
  2. Powers of Irish Legislature.
  3. Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.
  4. Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.
  5. Prerogatives of Her Majesty as to Irish Legislative Body.
  6. Duration of the Irish Legislative Body.

  _Executive Authority._

  7. Constitution of the Executive Authority.
  8. Use of Crown Lands by Irish Government.

  _Constitution of Legislative Body._

  9. Constitution of Irish Legislative Body.
  10. First order.
  11. Second order.

  _Finance._

  12. Taxes and separate Consolidated Fund.
  13. Annual contributions from Ireland to Consolidated Fund of United
      Kingdom.
  14. Collection and application of Customs and Excise duties in Ireland.
  15. Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.
  16. Irish Church Fund.
  17. Public loans.
  18. Additional aid in case of war.
  19. Money bills and votes.
  20. Exchequer Division and revenue actions.

  _Police._

  21. Police.


PART II.

_Supplemental Provisions._

  Powers of Her Majesty.

  22. Powers over certain lands reserved to Her Majesty.

  Legislative Body.

  23. Veto by first order of Legislative Body, how overruled.
  24. Cesser of power of Ireland to return members of Parliament.

  Decision of Constitutional Questions.

  25. Constitutional questions to be submitted to Judicial Committee.

  Lord-Lieutenant.

  26. Office of Lord-Lieutenant.

  Judges and Civil Servants.

  27. Judges to be removable only on address.
  28. Provisions as to Judges and other persons having salaries charged on
      the Consolidated Fund.
  29. As to persons holding Civil Service appointments.
  30. Provision for existing pensions and superannuation allowances.

  _Transitory Provisions._

  31. Transitory provisions in Schedule.

  _Miscellaneous._

  32. Post office and savings banks.
  33. Audit.
  34. Application of parliamentary law.
  35. Regulations for carrying Act into effect.
  36. Saving of powers of House of Lords.
  37. Saving of rights of Parliament.
  38. Continuance of existing laws, courts, officers, etc.
  39. Mode of alteration of Act.
  40. Definitions.
  41. Short title of Act.


SCHEDULES.

_A Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland._
[A.D. 1886.

Be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent Majesty, by and with the
advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in
this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as
follows:


PART I.

_Legislative Authority._

[Sidenote: Establishment of Irish Legislature.]

=1.= On and after the appointed day there shall be established in Ireland
a Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and the Irish
Legislative Body.

[Sidenote: Powers of Irish Legislature.]

=2.= With the exceptions and subject to the restrictions in this Act
mentioned, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty the Queen, by and with the
advice of the Irish Legislative Body, to make laws for the peace, order,
and good government of Ireland, and by any such law to alter and repeal
any law in Ireland.

[Sidenote: Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.]

=3.= The Legislature of Ireland shall not make laws relating to the
following matters, or any of them:--

    (1) The status or dignity of the Crown, or the succession the Crown or
    a Regency;

    (2) The making of peace or war;

    (3) The army, navy, militia, volunteers, or other military or naval
    forces, or the defence of the realm;

    (4) Treaties and other relations with foreign States, or the
    relations between the various parts of Her Majesty's dominions;

    (5) Dignities or titles of honour;

    (6) Prize or booty of war;

    (7) Offences against the law of nations; or offences committed in
    violation of any treaty made, or hereafter to be made, between Her
    Majesty and any foreign State; or offences committed on the high seas;

    (8) Treason, alienage, or naturalisation;

    (9) Trade, navigation, or quarantine;

    (10) The postal and telegraph service, except as hereafter in this Act
    mentioned with respect to the transmission of letters and telegrams in
    Ireland;

    (11) Beacons, lighthouses, or sea-marks;

    (12) The coinage; the value of foreign money; legal tender; or weights
    and measures; or

    (13) Copyright, patent rights, or other exclusive rights to the use or
    profits of any works or inventions.

Any law made in contravention of this section shall be void.

[Sidenote: Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.]

=4.= The Irish Legislature shall not make any law--

    (1) Respecting the establishment or endowment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or

    (2) Imposing any disability, or conferring any privilege, on account
    of religious belief; or

    (3) Abrogating or derogating from the right to establish or maintain
    any place of denominational education or any denominational
    institution or charity; or

    (4) Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a school
    receiving public money without attending the religious instruction at
    that school; or

    (5) Impairing, without either the leave of Her Majesty in Council
    first obtained on an address presented by the Legislative Body of
    Ireland, or the consent of the corporation interested, the rights,
    property, or privileges of any existing corporation incorporated by
    royal charter or local and general Act of Parliament; or

    (6) Imposing or relating to duties of customs and duties of excise, as
    defined by this Act, or either of such duties, or affecting any Act
    relating to such duties or either of them; or

    (7) Affecting this Act, except in so far as it is declared to be
    alterable by the Irish Legislature.

[Sidenote: Prerogatives of Her Majesty as to Irish Legislative Body.]

=5.=--Her Majesty the Queen shall have the same prerogatives with respect
to summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the Irish Legislative Body as Her
Majesty has with respect to summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the
Imperial Parliament.

[Sidenote: Duration of the Irish Legislative Body.]

=6.=--The Irish Legislative Body whenever summoned may have continuance
for five years and no longer, to be reckoned from the day on which any
such Legislative Body is appointed to meet.

_Executive Authority._

[Sidenote: Constitution of the Executive Authority.]

=7.=--(1) The Executive Government of Ireland shall continue vested in Her
Majesty, and shall be carried on by the Lord-Lieutenant on behalf of Her
Majesty with the aid of such officers and such Council as to Her Majesty
may from time to time seem fit.

(2) Subject to any instructions which may from time to time be given by
Her Majesty, the Lord-Lieutenant shall give or withhold the assent of Her
Majesty to Bills passed by the Irish Legislative Body, and shall exercise
the prerogatives of Her Majesty in respect of the summoning, proroguing,
and dissolving of the Irish Legislative Body, and any prerogatives the
exercise of which may be delegated to him by Her Majesty.

[Sidenote: Use of Crown lands by Irish Government.]

=8.=--Her Majesty may, by Order in Council, from time to time place under
the control of the Irish Government, for the purposes of that Government,
any such lands and buildings in Ireland as may be vested in or held in
trust for Her Majesty.

_Constitution of Legislative Body._

[Sidenote: Constitution of Irish Legislative Body.]

=9.=--(1) The Irish Legislative Body shall consist of a first and second
order.

(2) The two orders shall deliberate together, and shall vote together,
except that, if any question arises in relation to legislation or to the
Standing Orders or Rules of Procedure or to any other matter in that
behalf in this Act specified, and such question is to be determined by
vote, each order shall, if a majority of the members present of either
order demand a separate vote, give their votes in like manner as if they
were separate Legislative Bodies; and if the result of the voting of the
two orders does not agree the question shall be resolved in the negative.

[Sidenote: First order.]

=10.=--(1) The first order of the Irish Legislative Body shall consist of
one hundred and three members, of whom seventy-five shall be elective
members and twenty-eight peerage members.

(2) Each elective member shall at the date of his election and during his
period of membership be _bonâ fide_ possessed of property which--

    (_a_) If realty, or partly realty and partly personalty, yields two
    hundred pounds a year or upwards, free of all charges; or--

    (_b_) If personalty yields the same income, or is of the capital value
    of four thousand pounds or upwards, free of all charges.

For the purpose of electing the elective members of the first order of the
Legislative Body, Ireland shall be divided into the electoral districts
specified in the First Schedule to this Act, and each such district shall
return the number of members in that behalf specified in that Schedule.

(3) The elective members shall be elected by the registered electors of
each electoral district, and for that purpose a register of electors shall
be made annually.

(4) An elector in each electoral district shall be qualified as follows,
that is to say, he shall be of full age, and not subject to any legal
incapacity, and shall have been during the twelve months next preceding
the _twentieth day of July_ in any year the owner or occupier of some land
or tenement within the district of a net annual value of twenty-five
pounds or upwards.

(5) The term of office of an elective member shall be _ten years_.

(6) In every fifth year thirty-seven or thirty-eight of the elective
members, as the case requires, shall retire from office, and their places
shall be filled by election; the members to retire shall be those who have
been members for the longest time without re-election.

(7) The offices of the peerage members shall be filled as follows, that is
to say,--

    (_a_) Each of the Irish peers who on the appointed day is one of the
    twenty-eight Irish representative peers, shall, on giving his written
    assent to the Lord-Lieutenant, become a peerage member of the first
    order of the Irish Legislative Body; and if at any time within _thirty
    years_ after the appointed day any such peer vacates his office by
    death or resignation, the vacancy shall be filled by the election to
    that office by the Irish peers of one of their number in manner
    heretofore in use respecting the election of Irish representative
    peers, subject to adaptation as provided by this Act, and if the
    vacancy is not so filled within the proper time, it shall be filled by
    the election of an elective member.

    (_b_) If any of the twenty-eight peers aforesaid does not within _one
    month_ after the appointed day give such assent to be a peerage member
    of the first order, the vacancy so created shall be filled up as if he
    had assented and vacated his office by resignation.

(8) A peerage member shall be entitled to hold office during his life, or
until the expiration of _thirty years_ from the appointed day, whichever
period is the shortest. At the expiration of such _thirty years_ the
offices of all the peerage members shall be vacated as if they were dead,
and their places shall be filled by elective members qualified and elected
in manner provided by this Act with respect to elective members of the
first order, and such elective members may be distributed by the Irish
Legislature among the electoral districts, so, however, that care shall be
taken to give additional members to the most populous place.

(9) The offices of members of the first order shall not be vacated by the
dissolution of the Legislative Body.

(10) The provisions in the Second Schedule to this Act relating to members
of the first order of the Legislative Body shall be of the same force as
if they were enacted in the body of this Act.

[Sidenote: Second order.]

=11.=--(1) Subject as in this section hereafter mentioned, the second
order of the Legislative Body shall consist of two hundred and four
members.

(2) The members of the second order shall be chosen by the existing
constituencies of Ireland, two by each constituency, with the exception of
the City of Cork, which shall be divided into two divisions in manner set
forth in the Third Schedule to this Act, and two members shall be chosen
by each of such divisions.

(3) Any person who, on the appointed day, is a member representing an
existing Irish constituency in the House of Commons shall, on giving his
written assent to the Lord-Lieutenant, become a member of the second order
of the Irish Legislative Body as if he had been elected by the
constituency which he was representing in the House of Commons. Each of
the members for the City of Cork, on the said day, may elect for which of
the divisions of that city he wishes to be deemed to have been elected.

(4) If any member does not give such written assent within _one month_
after the appointed day, his place shall be filled by election in the same
manner and at the same time as if he had assented and vacated his office
by death.

(5) If the same person is elected to both orders, he shall, within _seven
days_ after the meeting of the Legislative Body, or if the Body is sitting
at the time of the election, within _seven days_ after the election, elect
in which order he will serve, and his membership of the other order shall
be void and be filled by a fresh election.

(6) Notwithstanding anything in this Act, it shall be lawful for the
Legislature of Ireland at any time to pass an Act enabling the Royal
University of Ireland to return not more than two members to the second
order of the Irish Legislative Body in addition to the number of members
above mentioned.

(7) Notwithstanding anything in this Act, it shall be lawful for the Irish
Legislature, after the first dissolution of the Legislative Body which
occurs, to alter the constitution or election of the second order of that
body, due regard being had in the distribution of members to the
population of the constituencies; provided that no alteration shall be
made in the number of such order.

_Finance._

[Sidenote: Taxes and separate Consolidated Fund.]

=12.=--(1) For the purpose of providing for the public service of Ireland,
the Irish Legislature may impose taxes, other than duties of Customs or
Excise as defined by this Act, which duties shall continue to be imposed
and levied by and under the direction of the Imperial Parliament only.

(2) On and after the appointed day there shall be an Irish Consolidated
Fund separate from the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

(3) All taxes imposed by the Legislature of Ireland and all other public
revenues under the control of the Government of Ireland shall, subject to
any provisions touching the disposal thereof contained in any Act passed
in the present session respecting the sale and purchase of land in
Ireland, be paid into the Irish Consolidated Fund, and be appropriated to
the public service of Ireland according to law.

[Sidenote: Annual contributions from Ireland to Consolidated Fund of
United Kingdom.]

=13.=--(1) Subject to the provisions for the reduction or cesser thereof
in this section mentioned, there shall be made on the part of Ireland to
the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom the following annual
contributions in every financial year; that is to say,--

    (_a_) The sum of _one million four hundred and sixty-six thousand
    pounds_ on account of the interest on and management of the Irish
    share of the National Debt:

    (_b_) The sum of _one million six hundred and sixty-six thousand
    pounds_ on account of the expenditure on the army and navy of the
    United Kingdom:

    (_c_) The sum of _one hundred and ten thousand pounds_ on account of
    the Imperial civil expenditure of the United Kingdom:

    (_d_) The sum of _one million pounds_ on account of the Royal Irish
    Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

(2) During the period of _thirty years_ from this section taking effect
the said annual contributions shall not be increased, but may be reduced
or cease as hereinafter mentioned. After the expiration of the said
_thirty years_ the said contributions shall, save as otherwise provided by
this section, continue until altered in manner provided with respect to
the alteration of this Act.

(3) The Irish share of the National Debt shall be reckoned at _forty-eight
million pounds_ Bank annuities, and there shall be paid in every financial
year on behalf of Ireland to the Commissioners for the Reduction of the
National Debt an annual sum of _three hundred and sixty thousand pounds_,
and the permanent annual charge for the National Debt on the Consolidated
Fund of the United Kingdom shall be reduced by that amount, and the said
annual sum shall be applied by the said Commissioners as a sinking fund
for the redemption of the National Debt, and the Irish share of the
National Debt shall be reduced by the amount of the National Debt so
redeemed, and the said annual contribution on account of the interest on
and management of the Irish share of the National Debt shall from time to
time be reduced by a sum equal to the interest upon the amount of the
National Debt from time to time so redeemed, but that last-mentioned sum
shall be paid annually to the Commissioners for the Reduction of the
National Debt in addition to the above-mentioned annual sinking fund, and
shall be so paid and be applied as if it were part of that sinking fund.

(4) As soon as an amount of the National Debt equal to the said Irish
share thereof has been redeemed under the provisions of this section, the
said annual contribution on account of the interest on and management of
the Irish share of the National Debt, and the said annual sum for a
sinking fund shall cease.

(5) If it appears to Her Majesty that the expenditure in respect of the
army and navy of the United Kingdom, or in respect of Imperial Civil
expenditure of the United Kingdom, for any financial year has been less
than _fifteen_ times the amount of the contributions above named on
account of the same matter, a sum equal to _one-fifteenth_ part of the
diminution shall be deducted from the current annual contribution for the
same matter.

(6) The sum paid from time to time by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's
Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues to the Consolidated Fund of the United
Kingdom on account of the hereditary revenues of the Crown in Ireland
shall be credited to the Irish Government, and go in reduction of the said
annual contribution payable on account of the Imperial Civil expenditure
of the United Kingdom, but shall not be taken into account in calculating
whether such diminution as above mentioned has or has not taken place in
such expenditure.

(7) If it appears to Her Majesty that the expenditure in respect of the
Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police for any
financial year has been less than the contribution above-named on account
of such constabulary and police, the current contribution shall be
diminished by the amount of such difference.

(8) This section shall take effect from and after the _thirty-first day of
March, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven_.

[Sidenote: Collection and application of Customs and Excise duties in
Ireland.]

=14.=--(1) On and after such day as the Treasury may direct all moneys
from time to time collected in Ireland on account of the duties of Customs
or the duties of Excise as defined by this Act shall, under such
regulations as the Treasury from time to time make, be carried to a
separate account (in this Act referred to as the Customs and Excise
account) and applied in the payment of the following sums in priority as
mentioned in this section; that is to say,--

    First, of such sum as is from time to time directed by the Treasury in
    respect of the costs, charges, and expenses of and incident to the
    collection and management of the said duties in Ireland not exceeding
    four per cent. of the amount collected there;

    Secondly, of the annual contributions required by this Act to be made
    to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom;

    Thirdly, of the annual sums required by this Act to be paid to the
    Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt;

    Fourthly, of all sums by this Act declared to be payable out of the
    moneys carried to the Customs and Excise account;

    Fifthly, of all sums due to the Consolidated Fund of the United
    Kingdom for interest or sinking fund, in respect of any loans made by
    the issue of bank annuities or otherwise to the Government of Ireland
    under any Act passed in the present session relating to the purchase
    and sale of land in Ireland, so far as such sums are not defrayed out
    of the moneys received under such Act.

(2) So much of the moneys carried to a separate account under this section
as the Treasury consider are not, and are not likely to be, required to
meet the above-mentioned payments, shall from time to time be paid over
and applied as part of the public revenues under the control of the Irish
Government.

[Sidenote: Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.]

=15.=--(1) There shall be charged on the Irish Consolidated Fund in
priority as mentioned in this section:--

    First, such portion of the sums directed by this Act to be paid out of
    the moneys carried to the Customs and Excise account in priority to
    any payment for the public revenues of Ireland, as those moneys are
    insufficient to pay;

    Secondly, all sums due in respect of any debt incurred by the
    Government of Ireland, whether for interest, management, or sinking
    fund;

    Thirdly, all sums which at the passing of this Act are charged on the
    Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom in respect of Irish services
    other than the salary of the Lord-Lieutenant;

    Fourthly, the salaries of all judges of the Supreme Court of
    Judicature or other Superior Court in Ireland, or of any County or
    other like Court, who are appointed after the passing of this Act, and
    the pensions of such judges;

    Fifthly, any other sums charged by this Act on the Irish Consolidated
    Fund.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Legislature of Ireland to impose all such
taxes, duties, or imposts as will raise a sufficient revenue to meet all
sums charged for the time being on the Irish Consolidated Fund.

[Sidenote: Irish Church Fund.]

=16.=--(1) Until all charges which are payable out of the Church property
in Ireland, and are guaranteed by the Treasury, have been fully paid, the
Irish Land Commission shall continue as heretofore to exist, with such
Commissioners and officers receiving such salaries as the Treasury may
from time to time appoint, and to administer the Church property and apply
the income and other moneys receivable therefrom; and so much of the
salaries of such Commissioners and officers and expenses of the office as
is not paid out of the Church property shall be paid out of moneys carried
to the Customs and Excise account under this Act, and if these moneys are
insufficient, out of the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, and if not so paid,
shall be paid out of the moneys provided by Parliament. Provided as
follows:--

    (_a_) All charges on the Church property for which a guarantee has
    been given by the Treasury before the passing of this Act shall, so
    far as they are not paid out of such property, be paid out of the
    moneys carried to the Customs and Excise account under this Act, and
    if such moneys are insufficient, the Consolidated Fund of Ireland,
    without prejudice nevertheless to the guarantee of the Treasury;

    (_b_) All charges on the Church property, for which no guarantee has
    been given by the Treasury before the passing of this Act shall be
    charged on the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, but shall not be
    guaranteed by the Treasury nor charged on the Consolidated Fund of the
    United Kingdom.

(2) Subject to any existing charges on the Church property, such property
shall belong to the Irish Government and any portion of the annual revenue
thereof which the Treasury, on the application of the Irish Government,
certify at the end of any financial year not to be required for meeting
charges, shall be paid over and applied as part of the public revenues
under the control of the Irish Government.

(3) As soon as all charges on the Church property guaranteed by the
Treasury have been paid, such property may be managed and administered,
and subject to existing charges thereon disposed of, and the income or
proceeds thereof applied, in such manner as the Irish Legislature may from
time to time direct.

[Sidenote: 32 & 33 Vict. c. 42.]

[Sidenote: 44 & 45 Vict. c. 71.]

(4) 'Church property' in this section means all property accruing under
the Irish Church Act, 1869, and transferred to the Irish Land Commission
by the Irish Church Act Amendment Act, 1881.

[Sidenote: Public loans.]

=17.=--(1) All sums due for principal or interest to the Public Works Loan
Commissioners or to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland in
respect of existing loans advanced on any security in Ireland shall on and
after the appointed day be due to the Government of Ireland instead of the
said Commissioners, and such body of persons as the Government of Ireland
may appoint for the purpose shall have all the powers of the said
Commissioners or their secretary for enforcing payment of such sums, and
all securities for such sums given to such Commissioners or their
secretary shall have effect as if the said body were therein substituted
for those Commissioners or their secretary.

(2) For the repayment of the said loans to the Consolidated Fund of the
United Kingdom, the Irish Government shall pay annually into that Fund by
half-yearly payments _on the first day of January_ and _the first day of
July_, or on such other days as may be agreed on, such instalments of the
principal of the said loans as will discharge all the loans within _thirty
years_ from the appointed day, and shall also pay interest half-yearly on
so much of the said principal as from time to time remains unpaid at the
rate of _three_ per cent. per annum, and such instalments of principal and
interest shall be paid out of the moneys carried to the Customs and Excise
account under this Act, and if those are insufficient, out of the
Consolidated Fund of Ireland.

[Sidenote: Additional aid in case of war.]

=18.= If Her Majesty declares that a state of war exists and is pleased to
signify such declaration to the Irish Legislative Body by speech or
message, it shall be lawful for the Irish Legislature to appropriate a
further sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Ireland in aid of the army or
navy, or other measures which Her Majesty may take for the prosecution of
the war and defence of the realm, and to provide and raise money for that
purpose; and all moneys so provided and raised, whether by loan, taxation,
or otherwise, shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund of the United
Kingdom.

[Sidenote: Money bills and votes.]

=19.=--(1) It shall not be lawful for the Irish Legislative Body to adopt
or pass any vote, resolution, address, or Bill for the raising or
appropriation for any purpose of any part of the public revenue of
Ireland, or of any tax, duty, or impost, except in pursuance of a
recommendation from Her Majesty signified through the Lord-Lieutenant in
the session in which such vote, resolution, address, or Bill is proposed.

(2) Notwithstanding that the Irish Legislature is prohibited by this Act
from making laws relating to certain subjects, that Legislature may, with
the assent of Her Majesty in Council first obtained, appropriate any part
of the Irish public revenue, or any tax, duty, or impost imposed by such
Legislature, for the purpose of, or in connection with, such subjects.

[Sidenote: Exchequer Division and revenue actions.]

=20.=--(1) On and after the appointed day, the Exchequer Division of the
High Court of Justice shall continue to be a Court of Exchequer for
revenue purposes under this Act, and whenever any vacancy occurs in the
office of any judge of such Exchequer Division, his successor shall be
appointed by Her Majesty on the joint recommendation of the
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland and the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

(2) The judges of such Exchequer Division appointed after the passing of
this Act shall be removable only by Her Majesty on address from the two
Houses of the Imperial Parliament, and shall receive the same salaries and
pensions as those payable at the passing of this Act to the existing
judges of such division, unless with the assent of Her Majesty in Council
first obtained, the Irish Legislature alters such salaries or pensions,
and such salaries and pensions shall be paid out of the moneys carried to
the Customs and Excise account in pursuance of this Act, and if the same
are insufficient shall be paid out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, and if
not so paid shall be paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United
Kingdom.

(3) An alteration of any rules relating to the procedure in such legal
proceedings as are mentioned in this section shall not be made except with
the approval of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, and the
sittings of the Exchequer Division and the judges thereof shall be
regulated with the like approval.

(4) All legal proceedings instituted in Ireland by or against the
Commissioners or any officers of Customs or Excise, or the Treasury,
shall, if so required by any party in such proceedings, be heard and
determined before the judges of such Exchequer Division, or some or one of
them, and any appeal from the decision in any such legal proceeding, if by
a judge, shall lie to the said division, and if by the Exchequer Division,
shall lie to the House of Lords, and not to any other tribunal; and if it
is made to appear to such judges, or any of them, that any decree or
judgment in any such proceeding as aforesaid, has not been duly enforced
by the sheriff or other officer whose duty it is to enforce the same, such
judges or judge shall appoint some officer to enforce such judgment or
decree; and it shall be the duty of such officer to take proper steps to
enforce the same, and for that purpose such officer and all persons
employed by him shall be entitled to the same immunities, powers, and
privileges as are by law conferred on a sheriff and his officers.

(5) All sums recovered in respect of duties of Customs and Excise, or
under any Act relating thereto, or by an officer of Customs or Excise,
shall, notwithstanding anything in any other Act, be paid to the Treasury,
and carried to the Customs and Excise account under this Act.

_Police._

[Sidenote: Police.]

=21.=--The following regulations shall be made with respect to police in
Ireland:--

    (_a_) The Dublin Metropolitan Police shall continue and be subject as
    heretofore to the control of the Lord-Lieutenant as representing Her
    Majesty for a period of _two years_ from the passing of this Act, and
    thereafter until any alteration is made by Act of the Legislature of
    Ireland, but such Act shall provide for the proper saving of all then
    existing interests, whether as regards pay, pensions, superannuation
    allowances, or otherwise.

    (_b_) The Royal Irish Constabulary shall, while that force subsists,
    continue and be subject as heretofore to the control of the
    Lord-Lieutenant as representing Her Majesty.

    (_c_) The Irish Legislature may provide for the establishment and
    maintenance of a police force in counties and boroughs in Ireland
    under the control of local authorities, and arrangements may be made
    between the Treasury and the Irish Government for the establishment
    and maintenance of police reserves.


PART II.

_Supplemental Provisions._

Powers of Her Majesty.

[Sidenote: Power over certain lands reserved to Her Majesty.]

=22.=--On and after the appointed day there shall be reserved to Her
Majesty--

    (1) The power of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and
    other buildings for military or naval purposes;

    (2) The power of taking waste land, and, on making due compensation,
    any other land for the purpose of erecting such forts, magazines,
    arsenals, dockyards, or other buildings as aforesaid, and for any
    other military or naval purpose, or the defence of the realm.

Legislative Body.

[Sidenote: Veto by first order of Legislative Body, how overruled.]

=23.=--If a Bill or any provision of a Bill is lost by disagreement
between the two orders of the Legislative Body, and after a period ending
with a dissolution of the Legislative Body, or the period of _three
years_, whichever period is longest, such Bill, or a Bill containing the
said provision, is again considered by the Legislative Body, and such Bill
or provision is adopted by the second order and negatived by the first
order, the same shall be submitted to the whole Legislative Body, both
orders of which shall vote together on the Bill or provision, and the same
shall be adopted or rejected according to the decision of the majority of
the members so voting together.

[Sidenote: Cesser of power of Ireland to return members to Parliament.]

=24.=--On and after the appointed day Ireland shall cease, except in the
event hereafter in this Act mentioned, to return representative peers to
the House of Lords or members to the House of Commons, and the persons who
on the said day are such representative peers and members shall cease as
such to be members of the House of Lords and House of Commons
respectively.

Decision of Constitutional Questions.

[Sidenote: Constitutional questions to be submitted to Judicial
Committee.]

=25.= Questions arising as to the powers conferred on the Legislature of
Ireland under this Act shall be determined as follows:--

    (_a_) If any such question arises on any Bill passed by the
    Legislative Body, the Lord-Lieutenant may refer such question to Her
    Majesty in Council;

    (_b_) If, in the course of any action or other legal proceeding, such
    question arises on any Act of the Irish Legislature, any party to such
    action or other legal proceeding may, subject to the rules in this
    section mentioned, appeal from a decision on such question to Her
    Majesty in Council;

    (_c_) If any such question arises otherwise than as aforesaid in any
    Act of the Irish Legislature, the Lord-Lieutenant or one of Her
    Majesty's principal Secretaries of State may refer such question to
    Her Majesty in Council;

    (_d_) A question referred or appeal brought under this section to Her
    Majesty in Council shall be referred for the consideration of the
    Judicial Committee of the Privy Council;

    (_e_) The decision of Her Majesty in Council on any question referred
    or appeal brought under this section shall be final, and a Bill which
    may be so decided to be, or contain a provision, in excess of the
    powers of the Irish Legislature shall not be assented to by the
    Lord-Lieutenant; and a provision of any Act which is so decided to be
    in excess of the powers of the Irish Legislature shall be void;

    (_f_) There shall be added to the Judicial Committee when sitting for
    the purpose of considering questions under this section, such members
    of Her Majesty's Privy Council, being or having been Irish judges, as
    to Her Majesty may seem meet;

    (_g_) Her Majesty may, by Order in Council from time to time, make
    rules as to the cases and mode in which and conditions under which, in
    pursuance of this section, questions may be referred and appeals
    brought to Her Majesty in Council, and as to the consideration thereof
    by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and any rules so made
    shall be of the same force as if they were enacted in this Act;

    (_h_) An appeal shall not lie to the House of Lords in respect of any
    question in respect of which an appeal can be had to Her Majesty in
    Council in pursuance of this section.

Lord-Lieutenant.

[Sidenote: Office of Lord-Lieutenant.]

=26.=--(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any Act
of Parliament, every subject of Her Majesty shall be eligible to hold and
enjoy the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, without reference to his
religious belief.

(2) The salary of the Lord-Lieutenant shall continue to be charged on the
Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, and the expenses of his household
and establishment shall continue to be defrayed out of moneys to be
provided by Parliament.

(3) All existing powers vested by Act of Parliament or otherwise in the
Chief Secretary for Ireland may, if no such officer is appointed, be
exercised by the Lord-Lieutenant until other provision is made by Act of
the Irish Legislature.

(4) The Legislature of Ireland shall not pass any Act relating to the
office or functions of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

Judges and Civil Servants.

[Sidenote: Judges to be removable only on address.]

=27.= A judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature or other Superior Court
of Ireland, or of any County Court or other Court with a like jurisdiction
in Ireland, appointed after the passing of this Act, shall not be removed
from his office except in pursuance of an address to Her Majesty from both
orders of the Legislative Body voting separately, nor shall his salary be
diminished or right to pension altered during his continuance in office.

[Sidenote: Provisions as to judges and other persons having salaries
charged on the Consolidated Fund.]

=28.=--(1) All persons who at the passing of this Act are judges of the
Supreme Court of Judicature or County Court judges, or hold any other
judicial position in Ireland shall, if they are removable at present on
address to Her Majesty of both Houses of Parliament, continue to be
removable only upon such address from both Houses of the Imperial
Parliament, and if removable in any other manner shall continue to be
removable in like manner as heretofore; and such persons, and also all
persons at the passing of this Act in the permanent Civil Service of the
Crown in Ireland whose salaries are charged on the Consolidated Fund of
the United Kingdom, shall continue to hold office and to be entitled to
the same salaries, pensions, and superannuation allowances as heretofore,
and to be liable to perform the same or analogous duties as heretofore;
and the salaries of such persons shall be paid out of the moneys carried
to the Customs and Excise account under this Act, or if these moneys are
insufficient, out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, and if the same are not
so paid shall continue charged on the Consolidated Fund of the United
Kingdom.

(2) If any of these said persons retires from office with the approbation
of Her Majesty before he has completed the period of service entitling him
to a pension, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, if she thinks fit, to
grant to that person such pension, not exceeding the pension to which he
would have been entitled if he had completed the said period of service,
as to Her Majesty seems meet.

[Sidenote: As to persons holding Civil Service appointments.]

=29.=--(1) All persons not above provided for and at the passing of this
Act serving in Ireland in the permanent Civil Service of the Crown shall
continue to hold their offices and receive the same salaries, and to be
entitled to the same gratuities and superannuation allowances as
heretofore, and shall be liable to perform the same duties as heretofore
or duties of similar rank, but any of such persons shall be entitled at
the expiration of _two years_ after the passing of this Act to retire from
office, and at any time if required by the Irish Government shall retire
from office, and on any such retirement shall be entitled to receive such
payment as the Treasury may award to him in accordance with the provisions
contained in the Fourth Schedule to this Act.

(2) The amount of such payment shall be paid to him out of the moneys
carried to the Customs and Excise account under this Act, or, if those
moneys are insufficient, out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, and so far as
the same are not so paid shall be paid out of moneys provided by
Parliament.

[Sidenote: 34 & 35 Vict. c. 36.]

(3) The Pensions Commutation Act, 1871, shall apply to all persons who,
having retired from office, are entitled to any annual payment under this
section in like manner as if they had retired in consequence of the
abolition of their offices.

(4) This section shall not apply to persons who are retained in the
service of the Imperial Government.

[Sidenote: Provision for existing pensions and superannuation allowances.]

=30.= Where before the passing of this Act any pension or superannuation
allowance has been granted to any person on account of service as a judge
of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Ireland, or of any Court
consolidated into that Court, or as a County Court judge, or in any other
judicial position, or on account of service in the permanent Civil Service
of the Crown in Ireland otherwise than in some office, the holder of which
is, after the passing of this Act, retained in the service of the Imperial
Government, such pension or allowance, whether payable out of the
Consolidated Fund or out of moneys provided by Parliament, shall continue
to be paid to such person, and shall be so paid out of the moneys carried
to the Customs and Excise account under this Act, or, if such moneys are
insufficient, out of the Irish Consolidated Fund, and so far as the same
is not so paid, shall be paid as heretofore out of the Consolidated Fund
of the United Kingdom or moneys provided by Parliament.

_Transitory Provisions._

[Sidenote: Transitory provisions in Schedule.]

=31.= The provisions contained in the Fifth Schedule to this Act relating
to the mode in which arrangements are to be made for setting in motion the
Irish Legislative Body and Government, and for the transfer to the Irish
Government of the powers and duties to be transferred to them under this
Act, or for otherwise bringing this Act into operation, shall be of the
same effect as if they were enacted in the body of this Act.

_Miscellaneous._

[Sidenote: Post office and savings banks.]

=32.= Whenever an Act of the Legislature of Ireland has provided for
carrying on the postal and telegraphic service with respect to the
transmission of letters and telegrams in Ireland, and the post office and
other savings banks in Ireland, and for protecting the officers then in
such service, and the existing depositors in such post-office savings
banks, the Treasury shall make arrangements for the transfer of the said
service and banks, in accordance with the said Act, and shall give public
notice of the transfer, and shall pay all depositors in such post-office
savings bank who request payment within _six months_ after the date fixed
for such transfer, and after the expiration of such _six months_ the said
depositors shall cease to have any claim against the Postmaster-General or
the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, but shall have the like claim
against the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, and the Treasury shall cause to
be transferred in accordance with the said Act the securities representing
the sums due to the said depositors in post-office savings banks, and the
securities held for other savings banks.

[Sidenote: Audit.]

=33.= Save as otherwise provided by the Irish Legislature--

    (_a_) The existing law relating to the Exchequer and the Consolidated
    Fund of the United Kingdom shall apply to the Irish Exchequer and
    Consolidated Fund, and an officer shall from time to time be appointed
    by the Lord-Lieutenant to fill the office of the Comptroller-General
    of the receipt and issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and
    Auditor-General of public accounts so far as respects Ireland; and

[Sidenote: 29 & 30 Vict. c. 39.]

    (_b_) The accounts of the Irish Consolidated Fund shall be audited as
    appropriation accounts in manner provided by the Exchequer and Audit
    Departments Act, 1866, by or under the direction of the holder of such
    office.

[Sidenote: Application of parliamentary law.]

=34.=--(1) The privileges, immunities, and powers to be held, enjoyed, and
exercised by the Irish Legislative Body, and the members thereof, shall be
such as are from time to time defined by Act of the Irish Legislature, but
so that the same shall never exceed those at the passing of this Act,
held, enjoyed, and exercised by the House of Commons, and by the members
thereof.

(2) Subject as in this Act mentioned, all existing laws and customs
relating to the members of the House of Commons and their election,
including the enactments respecting the questioning of elections, corrupt
and illegal practices, and registration of electors, shall, so far as
applicable, extend to elective members of the first order and to members
of the second order of the Irish Legislative Body. Provided that,--

    (_a_) The law relating to the offices of profit enumerated in Schedule
    H to the Representation of the People Act, 1867, shall apply to such
    offices of profit in the Government of Ireland not exceeding ten, as
    the Legislature of Ireland may from time to time direct;

    (_b_) After the first dissolution of the Legislative Body, the
    Legislature of Ireland may, subject to the restrictions in this Act
    mentioned, alter the laws and customs in this section mentioned.

[Sidenote: Regulations for carrying Act into effect.]

=35.=--(1) The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland may make regulations for the
following purposes:--

    (_a_) The summoning of the Legislative Body and the election of a
    Speaker, and such adaptation to the proceedings of the Legislative
    Body of the procedure of the House of Commons as appears to him
    expedient for facilitating the conduct of business by that body on
    their first meeting;

    (_b_) The adaptation of any laws relating to the election of
    representative peers;

    (_c_) The adaptation of any laws and customs relating to the House of
    Commons or the members thereof to the elective members of the first
    order and to members of the second order of the Legislative Body; and

    (_d_) The mode of signifying their assent or election under this Act
    by representative peers or Irish members of the House of Commons as
    regards becoming members of the Irish Legislative Body in pursuance of
    this Act.

(2) Any regulations so made shall, in so far as they concern the procedure
of the Legislative Body, be subject to alteration by Standing Orders of
that Body, and so far as they concern other matters, be subject to
alteration by the Legislature of Ireland, but shall, until alteration,
have the same effect as if they were inserted in this Act.

[Sidenote: Saving of powers of House of Lords.]

=36.= Save as in this Act provided with respect to matters to be decided
by Her Majesty in Council, nothing in this Act shall affect the appellate
jurisdiction of the House of Lords in respect of actions and suits in
Ireland, or the jurisdiction of the House of Lords to determine the
claims to Irish peerages.

[Sidenote: Savings of rights of Parliament.]

=37.= Save as herein expressly provided, all matters in relation to which
it is not competent for the Irish Legislative Body to make or repeal laws
shall remain and be within the exclusive authority of the Imperial
Parliament, whose power and authority in relation thereto, save as
aforesaid, shall in no wise be diminished or restrained by anything herein
contained.

[Sidenote: Continuance of existing laws, courts, officers, etc.]

=38.=--(1) Except as otherwise provided by this Act, all existing laws in
force in Ireland, and all existing courts of civil and criminal
jurisdiction, and all existing legal commissions, powers, and authorities,
and all existing officers, judicial, administrative, and ministerial, and
all existing taxes, licence, and other duties, fees, and other receipts in
Ireland shall continue as if this Act had not been passed; subject,
nevertheless, to be repealed, abolished, or altered in manner and to the
extent provided by this Act; provided that, subject to the provisions of
this Act, such taxes, duties, fees, and other receipts, shall, after the
appointed day, form part of the public revenues of Ireland.

(2) The Commissioners of Inland Revenue and Commissioners of Customs, and
the officers of such Commissioners respectively, shall have the same
powers in relation to any articles subject to any duty of excise or
customs, manufactured, imported, kept for sale, or sold, and any premises
where the same may be, and to any machinery, apparatus, vessels, utensils,
or conveyance used in connection therewith, or the removal thereof, and in
relation to the person manufacturing, importing, keeping for sale,
selling, or having the custody or possession of the same as they would
have had if this Act had not been passed.

[Sidenote: Mode of alteration of Act.]

=39.=--(1) On and after the appointed day this Act shall not, except such
provisions thereof as are declared to be alterable by the Legislature of
Ireland, be altered except--

    (_a_) By Act of the Imperial Parliament and with the consent of the
    Irish Legislative Body testified by an address to Her Majesty, or

    (_b_) By an Act of the Imperial Parliament, for the passing of which
    there shall be summoned to the House of Lords the peerage members of
    the first order of the Irish Legislative Body, and if there are no
    such members then twenty-eight Irish representative peers elected by
    the Irish peers in manner heretofore in use, subject to adaptation as
    provided by this Act; and there shall be summoned to the House of
    Commons such one of the members of each constituency, or in the case
    of a constituency returning four members such two of those members, as
    the Legislative Body of Ireland may select, and such peers and members
    shall respectively be deemed, for the purpose of passing any such Act,
    to be members of the said Houses of Parliament respectively.

(2) For the purposes of this section, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty
by Order in Council to make such provisions for summoning the said peers
of Ireland to the House of Lords and the said members from Ireland to the
House of Commons as to Her Majesty may seem necessary or proper, and any
provisions contained in such Order in Council shall have the same effect
as if they had been enacted by Parliament.

[Sidenote: Definitions.]

=40.= In this Act--

    The expression 'the appointed day' shall mean such day after the
    _thirty-first day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and
    eighty-seven_ as may be determined by order of Her Majesty in Council.

    The expression 'Lord-Lieutenant' includes the lords justices or any
    other chief governor or governors of Ireland for the time being.

    The expression 'Her Majesty the Queen,' or 'Her Majesty in Council,'
    or 'the Queen,' includes the heirs and successors of Her Majesty the
    Queen.

    The expression 'Treasury' means the Commissioners of Her Majesty's
    Treasury.

    The expression 'Treaty' includes any convention or arrangement.

    The expression 'existing' means existing at the passing of this Act.

    The expression 'existing constituency' means any county or borough,
    or division of a county or borough, or a University returning at the
    passing of this Act a member or members to serve in Parliament.

    The expression 'duties of excise' does not include a duty received in
    respect of any licence whether for the sale of intoxicating liquors or
    otherwise.

    The expression 'financial year' means the twelve months ending on the
    _thirty-first day of March_.

[Sidenote: Short title of Act.]

=41.= This Act may be cited for all purposes as the Irish Government Act,
1886.


SCHEDULES.

FIRST SCHEDULE.

First order of the Irish Legislative Body.

  -------------------------------------------------
  Electoral Districts.|Number of Members.|Rotation.
  --------------------|------------------|---------
                      |                  |
                      |                  |
                      |                  |
  -------------------------------------------------

SECOND SCHEDULE.

Provisions relating to the first order of the Irish Legislative Body.

THIRD SCHEDULE.

Boundaries of divisions of the City of Cork for the purpose of returning
members to the second order of the Legislative Body.

FOURTH SCHEDULE.

Provisions as to superannuation allowances of persons in the Permanent
Civil Service.

FIFTH SCHEDULE.

Transitory provisions.



THE IRISH GOVERNMENT BILL, 1893.

ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES.

PART I.

  _Legislative Authority._

  CLAUSE

  1. Establishment of Irish Legislature.
  2. Powers of Irish Legislature.
  3. Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.
  4. Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.

  _Executive Authority._

  5. Executive power in Ireland.

  _Constitution of Legislature._

  6. Composition of Irish Legislative Council.
  7. Composition of Irish Legislative Assembly.
  8. Disagreement between two Houses, how settled.

  _Irish Representation in House of Commons._

  9. Representation in Parliament of Irish counties and boroughs.

  _Finance._

  10. As to separate Consolidated Fund and taxes.
  11. Hereditary revenues and income tax.
  12. Financial arrangements as between United Kingdom and Ireland.
  13. Treasury Account (Ireland).
  14. Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.
  15. Irish Church Fund.
  16. Local loans.
  17. Adaptation of Acts as to Local Taxation Accounts and Probate, etc.,
      duties.
  18. Money bills and votes.
  19. Exchequer judges for revenue actions, election petitions, etc.

  _Post Office, Postal Telegraphs, and Savings Banks._

  20. Transfer of post office and postal telegraphs.
  21. Transfer of savings banks.

  _Irish Appeals and Decision of Constitutional Questions._

  22. Irish appeals.
  23. Special provision for decision of constitutional questions.

  _Lord-Lieutenant and Crown Lands._

  24. Office of Lord-Lieutenant.
  25. Use of Crown lands by Irish Government.

  _Judges and Civil Servants._

  26. Tenure of future judges.
  27. As to existing judges and other persons having salaries charged on
      the Consolidated Fund.
  28. As to persons holding Civil Service appointments.
  29. As to existing pensions and superannuation allowances.

  _Police._

  30. As to police.

  _Miscellaneous._

  31. Irish Exchequer Consolidated Fund and Audit.
  32. Law applicable to both Houses of Irish Legislature.
  33. Supplemental provisions as to powers of Irish Legislature.
  34. Limitation on borrowing by local authorities.

  _Transitory Provisions._

  35. Temporary restriction on powers of Irish Legislature and Executive.
  36. Transitory provisions.
  37. Continuance of existing laws, courts, officers, etc.
  38. Appointed day.
  39. Definitions.
  40. Short title.


SCHEDULES.

_A Bill to amend the provision for the Government of Ireland._ [A.D. 1893.

Whereas it is expedient that without impairing or restricting the supreme
authority of Parliament, an Irish Legislature should be created for such
purposes in Ireland as in this Act mentioned: Be it therefore enacted by
the Queen's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of
the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament
assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:--


PART I.

_Legislative Authority._

[Sidenote: Establishment of Irish Legislature.]

=1.= On and after the appointed day there shall be in Ireland a
Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and of two Houses, the
Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.

[Sidenote: Powers of Irish Legislature.]

=2.= With the exceptions and subject to the restrictions in this Act
mentioned, there shall be granted to the Irish Legislature power to make
laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland in respect of
matters exclusively relating to Ireland or some part thereof.

[Sidenote: Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.]

=3.= The Irish Legislature shall not have power to make powers of laws
respect of the following matters or any of them:--

    (1) The Crown, or the succession to the Crown, or a Regency; or the
    Lord-Lieutenant as representative of the Crown; or

    (2) The making of peace or war or matters arising from a state of war;
    or

    (3) Naval or military forces, or the defence of the realm; or

    (4) Treaties and other relations with foreign States, or the relations
    between different parts of Her Majesty's dominions, or offences
    connected with such treaties or relations; or

    (5) Dignities or titles of honour; or

    (6) Treason, treason-felony, alienage or naturalisation; or

    (7) Trade with any place out of Ireland; or quarantine, or navigation
    (except as respects inland waters and local health or harbour
    regulations); or

    (8) Beacons, lighthouses, or sea-marks (except so far as they can
    consistently with any general Act of Parliament be constructed or
    maintained by a local harbour authority); or

    (9) Coinage; legal tender; or the standard of weights and measures; or

    (10) Trade marks, merchandise marks, copyright, or patent rights.

Any law made in contravention of this section shall be void.

[Sidenote: Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature.]

=4.= The powers of the Irish Legislature shall not extend to the making of
any law--

    (1) Respecting the establishment or endowment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or

    (2) Imposing any disability, or conferring any privilege, on account
    of religious belief; or

    (3) Abrogating or prejudicially affecting the right to establish or
    maintain any place of denominational education or any denominational
    institution or charity; or

    (4) Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a school
    receiving public money, without attending the religious instruction at
    that school; or

    (5) Whereby any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property
    without due process of law, or may be denied the equal protection of
    the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just
    compensation; or

    (6) Whereby any existing corporation incorporated by Royal Charter or
    by any local or general Act of Parliament (not being a corporation
    raising for public purposes taxes, rates, cess, dues, or tolls, or
    administering funds so raised) may, unless it consents, or the leave
    of Her Majesty is first obtained on address from the two Houses of the
    Irish Legislature, be deprived of its rights, privileges, or property
    without due process of law; or

    (7) Whereby any inhabitant of the United Kingdom may be deprived of
    equal rights as respects public sea fisheries.

Any law made in contravention of this section shall be void.

_Executive Authority._

[Sidenote: Executive power in Ireland.]

=5.=--(1) The executive power in Ireland shall continue vested in Her
Majesty the Queen, and the Lord-Lieutenant, on behalf of Her Majesty,
shall exercise any prerogatives or other executive power of the Queen the
exercise of which may be delegated to him by Her Majesty, and shall, in
Her Majesty's name, summon, prorogue, and dissolve the Irish Legislature.

(2) There shall be an Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Ireland
to aid and advise in the government of Ireland, being of such numbers, and
comprising persons holding such offices, as Her Majesty may think fit, or
as may be directed by Irish Act.

(3) The Lord-Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the said Executive
Committee, give or withhold the assent of Her Majesty to Bills passed by
the two Houses of the Irish Legislature, subject nevertheless to any
instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any such Bill.

_Constitution of Legislature._

[Sidenote: Composition of Irish Legislative Council.]

=6.=--(1) The Irish Legislative Council shall consist of _forty-eight_
councillors.

(2) Each of the constituencies mentioned in the First Schedule to this
Act shall return the number of councillors named opposite thereto in that
schedule.

[Sidenote: 48 & 49 Vict. c. 3.]

(3) Every man shall be entitled to be registered as an elector, and when
registered to vote at an election, of a councillor for a constituency, who
owns or occupies any land or tenement in the constituency of a rateable
value of more than _twenty_ pounds, subject to the like conditions as a
man is entitled at the passing of this Act to be registered and vote as a
Parliamentary elector in respect of an ownership qualification, or of the
qualification specified in section five of the Representation of the
People Act, 1884, as the case may be: Provided that a man shall not be
entitled to be registered, nor if registered to vote, at an election of a
councillor in more than one constituency in the same year.

(4) The term of office of every councillor shall be _eight_ years, and
shall not be affected by a dissolution; and one _half_ of the Councillors
shall retire in every _fourth_ year, and their seats shall be filled by a
new election.

[Sidenote: Composition of Irish Legislative Assembly.]

=7.=--(1) The Irish Legislative Assembly shall consist of _one hundred and
three_ members, returned by the existing parliamentary constituencies in
Ireland, or the existing divisions thereof, and elected by the
parliamentary electors for the time being in those constituencies or
divisions.

(2) The Irish Legislative Assembly when summoned may, unless sooner
dissolved, have continuance for _five_ years from the day on which the
summons directs it to meet and no longer.

(3) After _six_ years from the passing of this Act, the Irish Legislature
may alter the qualification of the electors, and the constituencies, and
the distribution of the members among the constituencies, provided that in
such distribution due regard is had to the population of the
constituencies.

[Sidenote: Disagreement between two Houses, how settled.]

=8.= If a Bill, or any provision of a Bill, adopted by the Legislative
Assembly is lost by the disagreement of the Legislative Council, and after
a dissolution, or the period of _two years_ from such disagreement, such
Bill, or a Bill for enacting the said provision, is again adopted by the
Legislative Assembly, and fails within three months afterwards to be
adopted by the Legislative Council, the same shall forthwith be submitted
to the members of the two Houses deliberating and voting together thereon,
and shall be adopted or rejected according to the decision of the majority
of those members present and voting on the question.

_Irish Representation in House of Commons._

[Sidenote: Representation in Parliament of Irish counties and boroughs.]

=9.= Unless and until Parliament otherwise determines, the following
provisions shall have effect:--

    (1) After the _appointed day_ each of the constituencies named in the
    Second Schedule to this Act shall return to serve in Parliament the
    number of members named opposite thereto in that Schedule, and no
    more, and Dublin University shall cease to return any member.

    (2) The existing divisions of the constituencies shall, save as
    provided in that Schedule, be abolished.

    (3) An Irish representative peer in the House of Lords and a member of
    the House of Commons for an Irish constituency shall not be entitled
    to deliberate or vote on--

        (_a_) Any Bill or motion in relation thereto, the operation of
        which Bill or motion is confined to Great Britain or some part
        thereof; or

        (_b_) Any motion or resolution relating solely to some tax not
        raised or to be raised in Ireland; or

        (_c_) Any vote or appropriation of money made exclusively for some
        service not mentioned in the Third Schedule to this Act; or

        (_d_) Any motion or resolution exclusively affecting Great
        Britain, or some part thereof, or some local authority, or some
        person or thing therein; or

        (_e_) Any motion or resolution incidental to any such motion or
        resolution, as either is last mentioned, or relates solely to some
        tax not raised or to be raised in Ireland, or incidental to any
        such vote or appropriation of money as aforesaid.

    (4) Compliance with the provisions of this section shall not be
    questioned otherwise than in each House in manner provided by the
    House.

    (5) The election laws and the laws relating to the qualification of
    parliamentary electors shall not, so far as they relate to
    parliamentary elections, be altered by the Irish Legislature, but this
    enactment shall not prevent the Irish Legislature from dealing with
    any officers concerned with the issue of writs of election, and if any
    officers are so dealt with, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty by
    Order in Council to arrange for the issue of such writs, and the writs
    issued in pursuance of such Order shall be of the same effect as if
    issued in manner heretofore accustomed.

_Finance._

[Sidenote: As to separate Consolidated Fund and taxes.]

=10.=--(1) On and after the appointed day there shall be an Irish
Exchequer and Consolidated Fund separate from those of the United Kingdom.

(2) The duties of Customs and Excise and the duties on postage shall be
imposed by Act of Parliament, but subject to the provisions of this Act
the Irish Legislature may, in order to provide for the public service of
Ireland, impose any other taxes.

(3) Save as in this Act mentioned, all matters relating to the taxes in
Ireland and the collection and management thereof shall be regulated by
Irish Act, and the same shall be collected and managed by the Irish
Government, and from part of the public revenues of Ireland: Provided
that--

    (_a_) The duties of Customs shall be regulated, collected, managed,
    and paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom as heretofore; and

    (_b_) All prohibitions in connection with the duties of Excise, and
    so far as regards articles sent out of Ireland, all matters relating
    to those duties, shall be regulated by Act of Parliament; and

    (_c_) The excise duties on articles consumed in Great Britain shall be
    paid in Great Britain, or to an officer of the Government of the
    United Kingdom.

(4) Save as in this Act mentioned, all the public revenues of Ireland
shall be paid into the Irish Exchequer and form a Consolidated Fund, and
be appropriated to the public service of Ireland by Irish Act.

(5) If the duties of Excise are increased above the rates in force on the
_first day of March one thousand eight hundred and ninety-three_ the net
proceeds in Ireland of the duties in excess of the said rates shall be
paid from the Irish Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

(6) If the duties of Excise are reduced below the rates in force on the
said day, and the net proceeds of such duties in Ireland are in
consequence less than the net proceeds of the duties before the reduction,
a sum equal to the deficiency shall, unless it is otherwise agreed between
the Treasury and the Irish Government, be paid from the Exchequer of the
United Kingdom to the Irish Exchequer.

[Sidenote: Hereditary revenues and income tax.]

=11.=--(1) The hereditary revenues of the Crown in Ireland which are
managed by the Commissioners of Woods shall continue during the life of
Her present Majesty to be managed and collected by those Commissioners,
and the net amount payable by them to the Exchequer on account of those
revenues, after deducting all expenses (but including an allowance for
interest on such proceeds of the sale of those revenues as have not been
re-invested in Ireland), shall be paid into the Treasury Account (Ireland)
hereinafter mentioned, for the benefit of the Irish Exchequer.

(2) A person shall not be required to pay income tax in Great Britain in
respect of property situate or business carried on in Ireland, and a
person shall not be required to pay income tax in Ireland in respect of
property situate or business carried on in Great Britain.

(3) For the purpose of giving to Ireland the benefit of the difference
between the income tax collected in Great Britain from British, Colonial,
and foreign securities held by residents in Ireland, and the income tax
collected in Ireland from Irish securities held by residents in Great
Britain, there shall be made to Ireland out of the income tax collected in
Great Britain, an allowance of such amount as may be from time to time
determined by the Treasury, in accordance with a minute of the Treasury,
laid before Parliament before the appointed day, and such allowance shall
be paid into the Treasury Account (Ireland) for the benefit of the Irish
Exchequer.

(4) Provided that the provisions of this section with respect to income
tax shall not apply to any excess of the rate of income tax in Great
Britain above the rate in Ireland or of the rate of income tax in Ireland
above the rate in Great Britain.

[Sidenote: Financial arrangements as between United Kingdom and Ireland.]

=12.=--(1) The duties of Customs contributed by Ireland and, save as
provided by this Act, that portion of any public revenue of the United
Kingdom to which Ireland may claim to be entitled, whether specified in
the Third Schedule to this Act or not, shall be carried to the
Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, as the contribution of Ireland to
Imperial liabilities and expenditure as defined in that Schedule.

(2) The civil charges of the Government in Ireland shall, subject as in
this Act mentioned, be borne after the appointed day by Ireland.

(3) After _fifteen_ years from the passing of this Act the arrangements
made by this Act for the contribution of Ireland to Imperial liabilities
and expenditure, and otherwise for the financial relations between the
United Kingdom and Ireland, may be revised in pursuance of an address to
Her Majesty from the House of Commons, or from the Irish Legislative
Assembly.

[Sidenote: Treasury Account (Ireland)]

=13.=--(1) There shall be established under the direction of the Treasury
an account (in this Act referred to as the Treasury Account (Ireland)).

(2) There shall be paid into such account all sums payable from the Irish
Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, or from the latter to
the former Exchequer, and all sums directed to be paid into the account
for the benefit of either of the said Exchequers.

(3) All sums which are payable from either of the said Exchequers to the
other of them, or being payable out of one of the said Exchequers are
repayable by the other Exchequer, shall in the first instance be payable
out of the said account so far as the money standing on the account is
sufficient; and for the purpose of meeting such sums the Treasury out of
the Customs revenue collected in Ireland, and the Irish Government out of
any of the public revenues in Ireland, may direct money to be paid to the
Treasury Account (Ireland) instead of into the Exchequer.

(4) Any surplus standing on the account to the credit of either Exchequer,
and not required for meeting payments, shall at convenient times be paid
into that Exchequer, and where any sum so payable in to the Exchequer of
the United Kingdom is required by law to be forthwith paid to the National
Debt Commissioners, that sum may be paid to those Commissioners without
being paid into the Exchequer.

(5) All sums payable by virtue of this Act out of the Consolidated Fund of
the United Kingdom or of Ireland shall be payable from the Exchequer of
the United Kingdom or of Ireland shall be payable from the Exchequer of
the United Kingdom or Ireland, as the case may be, within the meaning of
this Act, and all sums by this Act made payable from the Exchequer of the
United Kingdom shall, if not otherwise paid, be charged on and paid out of
the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

[Sidenote: Charges on Irish Consolidated Fund.]

=14.=--(1) There shall be charged on the Irish Consolidated Fund in favour
of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom as a first charge on sums which--

    (_a_) Are payable to that Exchequer from the Irish Exchequer; or

[Sidenote: 54 & 55 Vict. c. 48.]

    (_b_) Are required to repay to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom
    sums issued to meet the dividends or sinking fund or guaranteed land
    stock under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891: or

    (_c_) Otherwise have been or are required to be paid out of the
    Exchequer of the United Kingdom in consequence of the non-payment
    thereof out of the Exchequer of Ireland or otherwise by the Irish
    Government.

(2) If at any time the Controller and Auditor-General of the United
Kingdom is satisfied that any such charge is due, he shall certify the
amount of it, and the Treasury shall send such certificate to the
Lord-Lieutenant, who shall thereupon by order, without any
counter-signature, direct the payment of the amount from the Irish
Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, and such order shall be
duly obeyed by all persons, and until the amount is wholly paid no other
payment shall be made out of the Irish Exchequer for any purpose whatever.

(3) There shall be charged on the Irish Consolidated Fund next after the
foregoing charge--

[Sidenote: 54 & 55 Vict. c. 48.]

    (_a_) All sums, for dividends or sinking fund on guaranteed land stock
    under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, which the Land
    Purchase Account and the Guarantee Fund under that Act are
    insufficient to pay;

    (_b_) All sums due in respect of any debt incurred by the Government
    of Ireland, whether for interest management, or sinking fund;

    (_c_) An annual sum of _five thousand pounds_ for the expenses of the
    household and establishment of the Lord-Lieutenant;

    (_d_) All existing charges on the Consolidated Fund of the United
    Kingdom in respect of Irish services other than the salary of the
    Lord-Lieutenant; and

    (_e_) The salaries and pensions of all judges of the Supreme Court or
    other Superior Court in Ireland or of any County or other like Court,
    who are appointed after the passing of this Act, and are not the
    Exchequer judges hereafter mentioned.

(4) Until all charges created by this Act upon the Irish Consolidated Fund
and for the time being due are paid, no money shall be issued from the
Irish Exchequer for any other purpose whatever.

[Sidenote: Irish Church Fund. 32 & 33 Vict. c. 42. 44 & 45 Vict. c. 71.]

=15.=--(1) All existing charges on the Church property in Ireland--that is
to say, all property accruing under the Irish Church Act, 1869, and
transferred to the Irish Land Commission by the Irish Church Amendment
Act, 1881--shall so far as not paid out of the said property be charged on
the Irish Consolidated Fund, and any of those charges guaranteed by the
Treasury, if and so far as not paid, shall be paid out of the Exchequer of
the United Kingdom.

(2) Subject to the existing charges thereon, the said Church property
shall belong to the Irish Government, and be managed, administered, and
disposed of as directed by Irish Act.

[Sidenote: Local loans.]

=16.=--(1) All sums paid or applicable in or towards the discharge of the
interest or principal of any local loan advanced before the appointed day
on security in Ireland, or otherwise in respect of such loan, which but
for this Act would be paid to the National Debt Commissioners, and carried
to the Local Loans Fund, shall, after the appointed day, be paid, until
otherwise provided by Irish Act, to the Irish Exchequer.

(2) For the payment of the Local Loans Fund of the principal and interest
of such loans, the Irish Government shall after the appointed day pay by
half-yearly payments an annuity for _forty-nine_ years, at the rate of
_four_ per cent., on the principal of the said loans, exclusive of any
sums written off before the appointed day from the account of assets of
the Local Loans Fund, and such annuity shall be paid from the Irish
Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, and when so paid shall
be forthwith paid to the National Debt Commissioners for the credit of the
Local Loans Fund.

(3) After the appointed day, money for loans in Ireland shall cease to be
advanced either by the Public Works Loan Commissioners or out of the Local
Loans Fund.

[Sidenote: Adaptation of Acts as to Local Taxation Accounts and Probate,
etc., duties. See 50 & 51 Vict. c. 41. 54 & 55 Vict. c. 48.]

=17.=--(1) So much of any Act as directs payment to the Local Taxation
(Ireland) Account of any share of Probate, Excise, or Customs duties
payable to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom shall, together with any
enactment amending the same, be repealed as from the appointed day without
prejudice to the adjustment of balances after that day; the like amounts
shall continue to be paid to the Local Taxation Accounts in England and
Scotland as would have been paid if this Act had not passed, and any
residue of the said share shall be paid into the Exchequer of the United
Kingdom.

[Sidenote: See 21 & 22 Vict. c. 86, ss. 12-18. 21 & 22 Vict. c. 95, s. 29.
22 & 23 Vict. c. 31, s. 25. 39 & 40 Vict. c. 70, ss. 41-44.]

(2) The stamp duty chargeable in respect of the personalty of a deceased
person, shall not in the case of administration granted in Great Britain
be chargeable in respect of any personalty situate in Ireland; nor in the
case of administration granted in Ireland be chargeable in respect of any
personalty situate in Great Britain; and any administration granted in
Great Britain shall not, if re-sealed in Ireland, be exempt from stamp
duty on administration granted in Ireland, and any administration granted
in Ireland shall not, when re-sealed in Great Britain, be exempt from
stamp duty on administration granted in Great Britain.

(3) In this section the expression 'administration' means probate or
letters of administration, and as respects Scotland, confirmation
inclusive of the inventory required under the Acts relating to the said
stamp duty, and the expression 'personalty' means personal or movable
estate and effects.

[Sidenote: Money bills and votes.]

=18.=--(1) Bills for appropriating any part of the public revenue or for
imposing any tax shall originate in the Legislative Assembly.

(2) It shall not be lawful for the Legislative Assembly to adopt or pass
any vote, resolution, address, or Bill for the appropriation for any
purpose of any part of the public revenue of Ireland, or of any tax,
except in pursuance of a recommendation from the Lord-Lieutenant in the
Session in which such vote, resolution, address, or Bill is proposed.

[Sidenote: Exchequer judges for revenue actions, elections petitions,
etc.]

=19.=--(1) Two of the judges of the Supreme Court in Ireland shall be
Exchequer judges, and shall be appointed under the Great Seal of the
United Kingdom; and their salaries and pensions shall be charged on and
paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

(2) The Exchequer judges shall be removable only by Her Majesty on address
from the two Houses of Parliament, and each such judge shall, save as
otherwise provided by Parliament, receive the same salary and be entitled
to the same pension as is at the time of his appointment fixed for the
puisne judges of the Supreme Court, and during his continuance in office
his salary shall not be diminished, nor his right to pension altered,
without his consent.

(3) An alteration of any rules relating to such legal proceedings as are
mentioned in this section shall not be made except with the approval of
Her Majesty the Queen in Council; and the sittings of the Exchequer judges
shall be regulated with the like approval.

(4) All legal proceedings in Ireland, which are instituted at the instance
of or against the Treasury or Commissioners of Customs, or any of their
officers, or relate to the election of members to serve in Parliament, or
touch any matter within the powers of the Irish Legislature, or touch any
matter affected by a law which the Irish Legislature have not power to
repeal or alter, shall, if so required by any party to such proceedings,
be heard and determined before the Exchequer judges or (except where the
case requires to be determined by two judges) before one of them, and in
any such legal proceeding an appeal shall, if any party so requires, lie
from any Court of first instance in Ireland to the Exchequer judges, and
the decision of the Exchequer judges shall be subject to appeal to Her
Majesty the Queen in Council and not to any other tribunal.

(5) If it is made to appear to an Exchequer judge that any decree or
judgment in any such proceeding as aforesaid has not been duly enforced by
the sheriff or other officer whose duty it is to enforce the same, such
judge shall appoint some officer whose duty it shall be to enforce the
judgment or decree; and for that purpose such officer and all persons
employed by him shall be entitled to the same privileges, immunities, and
powers as are by law conferred on a sheriff and his officers.

(6) The Exchequer judges, when not engaged in hearing and determining such
legal proceedings as above in this section mentioned, shall perform such
of the duties ordinarily performed by other judges of the Supreme Court in
Ireland as may be assigned by Her Majesty the Queen in Council.

(7) All sums recovered by the Treasury or the Commissioners of Customs or
any of their officers, or recovered under any Act relating to duties of
Customs, shall, notwithstanding anything in any other Act, be paid to such
public account as the Treasury or the Commissioners direct.

_Post Office, Postal Telegraphs, and Savings Banks._

[Sidenote: Transfer of post office and postal telegraphs.]

=20.=--(1) As from the _appointed day_ the postal and telegraph service in
Ireland shall be transferred to the Irish Government, and may be regulated
by Irish Act, except as in this Act mentioned and except as regards
matters relating--

    (_a_) To such conditions of the transmission or delivery of postal
    packets and telegrams as are incidental to the duties on postage; or

    (_b_) To foreign mails or submarine telegraphs or through lines in
    connection therewith; or

    (_c_) To any other postal or telegraph business in connection with
    places out of the United Kingdom.

(2) The administration of or incidental to the said excepted matters
shall, save as may be otherwise arranged with the Irish Post Office,
remain with the Postmaster-General.

(3) As regards the revenue and expenses of the postal and telegraph
service, the Postmaster-General shall retain the revenue collected and
defray the expenses incurred in Great Britain, and the Irish Post Office
shall retain the revenue collected and defray the expenses incurred in
Ireland, subject to the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to this Act;
which schedule shall have full effect, but may be varied or added to by
agreement between the Postmaster-General and the Irish Post Office.

(4) The sums payable by the Postmaster-General or Irish Post Office to the
other of them in pursuance of this Act shall, if not paid out of
Post-Office moneys, be paid from the Exchequer of the United Kingdom or of
Ireland, as the case requires, to the other Exchequer.

[Sidenote: 26 & 27 Vict. c. 112.]

(5) Sections forty-eight to fifty-two of the Telegraph Act, 1863, and any
enactment amending the same, shall apply to all telegraphic lines of the
Irish Government in like manner as to the telegraphs of a company within
the meaning of that Act.

[Sidenote: Transfer of savings banks]

=21.=--(1) As from the _appointed day_ there shall be transferred to the
Irish Government the post-office savings banks in Ireland, and all such
powers and duties of any department or officer in Great Britain as are
connected with post-office savings banks, trustee savings banks, or
friendly societies in Ireland, and the same may be regulated by Irish Act.

(2) The Treasury shall publish not less than six months previous notice of
the transfer of savings banks.

(3) If before the date of the transfer any depositor in a post-office
savings bank so requests, his deposit shall, according to his request,
either be paid to him or transferred to a post-office savings bank in
Great Britain, and after the said date the depositors in a post-office
savings bank in Ireland shall cease to have any claim against the
Postmaster-General or the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, but
shall have the like claim against the Government and Consolidated Fund of
Ireland.

(4) If before the date of the transfer the trustees of any trustees
savings bank so request, then, according to the request, either all sums
due to them shall be repaid, and the savings bank closed, or those sums
shall be paid to the Irish Government, and after the said date the
trustees shall cease to have any claim against the National Debt
Commissioners or the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, but shall
have the like claim against the Government and Consolidated Fund of
Ireland.

(5) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, if a sum due
on account of any annuity or policy of insurance which has before the
above-mentioned notice been granted through a post-office or trustee
savings bank, is not paid by the Irish Government, that sum shall be paid
out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

_Irish Appeals and Decision of Constitutional Questions._

[Sidenote: Irish appeals.]

=22.=--(1) The appeal from Courts in Ireland to the House of Lords shall
cease; and where any person would, but for this Act, have a right to
appeal from any Court in Ireland to the House of Lords, such person shall
have the like right to appeal to Her Majesty the Queen in Council; and
the right so to appeal shall not be affected by any Irish Act; and all
enactments relating to appeals to Her Majesty the Queen in Council, and to
the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, shall apply accordingly.

[Sidenote: 39 & 40 Vict. c. 59]

(2) When the Judicial Committee sit for hearing appeals from a Court in
Ireland, there shall be present not less than four Lords of Appeal, within
the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876, and at least one
member who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court in Ireland.

(3) A rota of privy councillors to sit for hearing appeals from Courts in
Ireland shall be made annually by Her Majesty in Council, and the privy
councillors, or some of them, on that rota shall sit to hear the said
appeals. A casual vacancy in such rota during the year may be filled by
Order in Council.

(4) Nothing in this Act shall affect the jurisdiction of the House of
Lords to determine the claims to Irish peerages.

[Sidenote: Special provision for decision of constitutional questions.]

=23.=--(1) If it appears to the Lord-Lieutenant or a Secretary of State
expedient in the public interest that steps shall be taken for the speedy
determination of the question whether any Irish Act, or any provision
thereof, is beyond the power of the Irish Legislature, he may represent
the same to Her Majesty in Council, and thereupon the said question shall
be forthwith referred to and heard and determined by the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council, constituted as if hearing an appeal from a
Court in Ireland.

(2) Upon the hearing of the question such persons as seem to the Judicial
Committee to be interested may be allowed to appear and be heard as
parties to the case, and the decision of the Judicial Committee shall be
given in like manner as if it were the decision of an appeal, the nature
of the report or recommendation to Her Majesty being stated in open Court.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall prejudice any other power of Her Majesty in
Council to refer any question to the Judicial Committee, or the right of
any person to petition Her Majesty for such reference.

_Lord-Lieutenant and Crown Lands._

[Sidenote: Office of Lord-Lieutenant.]

=24.=--(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any Act, every
subject of the Queen shall be qualified to hold the office of
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, without reference to his religious belief.

(2) The term of office of the Lord-Lieutenant shall be _six years_,
without prejudice to the power of Her Majesty the Queen at any time to
revoke the appointment.

[Sidenote: Use of Crown lands by Irish Government.]

=25.= Her Majesty the Queen in Council may place under the control of the
Irish Government, for the purposes of that Government, such of the lands
and buildings in Ireland vested in or held in trust for Her Majesty, and
subject to such conditions or restrictions (if any) as may seem expedient.

_Judges and Civil Servants._

[Sidenote: Tenure of future judges.]

=26.= A judge of the Supreme Court or other Superior Court in Ireland, or
of any County Court or other Court with a like jurisdiction in Ireland,
appointed after the passing of this Act, shall not be removed from his
office except in pursuance of an address from the two Houses of
Legislature of Ireland, nor during his continuance in office shall his
salary be diminished or right to pension altered without his consent.

[Sidenote: As to existing judges and other persons having salaries charged
on the Consolidated Fund.]

=27.=--(1) All existing judges of the Supreme Court, County Court judges,
and Land Commissioners in Ireland, and all existing officers serving in
Ireland in the permanent Civil Service of the Crown and receiving salaries
charged on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, shall, if they are
removable at present on address from both Houses of Parliament, continue
to be removable only upon such address, and if removable in any other
manner shall continue to be removable only in the same manner as
heretofore; and shall continue to receive the same salaries, gratuities,
and pensions, and to be liable to perform the same duties as heretofore,
or such duties as Her Majesty may declare to be analogous, and their
salaries and pensions, if and so far as not paid out of the Irish
Consolidated Fund, shall be paid out of the Exchequer of the United
Kingdom: Provided that this section shall be subject to the provisions of
this Act with respect to the Exchequer judges.

(2) If any of the said judges, commissioners, or officers retires from
office with the Queen's approbation before completion of the period of
service entitling him to a pension, Her Majesty may, if she thinks fit,
grant to him such pension, not exceeding the pension to which he would on
that completion have been entitled, as to Her Majesty seems meet.

[Sidenote: As to persons holding Civil Service appointments.]

=28.=--(1) All existing officers in the permanent Civil Service of the
Crown, who are not above provided for, and are at the appointed day
serving in Ireland, shall, after that day, continue to hold their offices
by the same tenure, and to receive the same salaries, gratuities, and
pensions, and to be liable to perform the same duties as heretofore, or
such duties as the Treasury may declare to be analogous; and the said
gratuities and pensions, and until three years after the passing of this
Act, the salaries due to any of the said officers if remaining in his
existing office, shall be paid to the payees by the Treasury out of the
Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

(2) Any such officer may, after _three years_ from the passing of this
Act, retire from office, and shall, at any time during those three years,
if required by the Irish Government, retire from office, and on any such
retirement may be awarded by the Treasury a gratuity or pension in
accordance with the Fifth Schedule to this Act: Provided that--

    (_a_) Six months' written notice shall, unless it is otherwise agreed,
    be given either by the said officer or by the Irish Government, as the
    case requires; and

    (_b_) Such number of officers only shall retire at one time, and at
    such intervals of time as the Treasury, in communication with the
    Irish Government, sanction.

(3) If any such officer does not so retire, the Treasury may award him,
after the said three years, a pension in accordance with the Fifth
Schedule to this Act, which shall become payable to him on his ultimate
retirement from the service of the Crown.

(4) The gratuities and pensions awarded in accordance with the Fifth
Schedule to this Act shall be paid by the Treasury to the payees out of
the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

(5) All sums paid out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom in pursuance
of this section shall be repaid to that Exchequer from the Irish
Exchequer.

(6) This section shall not apply to officers retained in the service of
the Government of the United Kingdom.

[Sidenote: As to existing pensions and superannuation allowances.]

=29.= Any existing pension granted on account of service in Ireland as a
judge of the Supreme Court or of any Court consolidated into that Court,
or as a County Court judge, or in any other judicial position, or as an
officer in the permanent Civil Service of the Crown other than in an
office the holder of which is after the appointed day retained in the
service of the Government of the United Kingdom, shall be charged on the
Irish Consolidated Fund, and if and so far as not paid out of that fund,
shall be paid out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

_Police._

[Sidenote: As to police.]

=30.=--(1) The forces of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin
Metropolitan Police shall, when and as local police forces are from time
to time established in Ireland in accordance with the Sixth Schedule to
this Act, be gradually reduced and ultimately cease to exist as mentioned
in that Schedule; and after the passing of this Act, no officer or man
shall be appointed to either of these forces; Provided that until the
expiration of _six_ years from the appointed day, nothing in this Act
shall require the Lord-Lieutenant to cause either of the said forces to
cease to exist, if as representing Her Majesty the Queen he considers it
inexpedient.

(2) The said two forces shall, while they continue, be subject to the
control of the Lord-Lieutenant as representing Her Majesty, and the
members thereof shall continue to receive the same salaries, gratuities,
and pensions, and hold their appointments on the same tenure as
heretofore, and these salaries, gratuities, and pensions, and all the
expenditure incidental to either force, shall be paid out of the Exchequer
of the United Kingdom.

(3) When any existing member of either force retires under the provisions
of the Sixth Schedule to this Act, the Treasury may award to him a
gratuity or pension in accordance with that Schedule.

(4) Those gratuities and pensions and all existing pensions payable in
respect of service in either force, shall be paid by the Treasury to the
payees out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.

(5) Two-thirds of the net amount payable in pursuance of this section out
of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom shall be repaid to that Exchequer
from the Irish Exchequer.

_Miscellaneous._

[Sidenote: Irish Exchequer Consolidated Fund and Audit.]

31. Save as may be otherwise provided by Irish Act--

    (_a_) The existing law relating to the Exchequer and Consolidated Fund
    of the United Kingdom shall apply with the necessary modifications to
    the Exchequer and Consolidated Fund of Ireland, and an officer shall
    be appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant to be the Irish Comptroller and
    Auditor-General; and

[Sidenote: 29 & 30 Vict. c. 39]

    (_b_) The accounts of the Irish Consolidated Fund shall be audited as
    appropriation accounts in manner provided by the Exchequer and Audit
    Departments Act, 1866, by or under the direction of such officer.

[Sidenote: Law applicable to both Houses of Irish Legislature.]

=32.=--(1) Subject as in this Act mentioned and particularly to the
Seventh Schedule to this Act (which Schedule shall have full effect), all
existing election laws relating to the House of Commons and the members
thereof shall, so far as applicable, extend to each of the two Houses of
the Irish Legislature and the members thereof, but such election laws so
far as hereby extended may be altered by Irish Act.

(2) The privileges, rights, and immunities to be held and enjoyed by each
House and the members thereof shall be such as may be defined by Irish
Act, but so that the same shall never exceed those for the time being
held and enjoyed by the House of Commons, and the members thereof.

[Sidenote: Supplemental provisions as to powers of Irish Legislature.]

=33.=--(1) The Irish Legislature may repeal or alter any provision of this
Act which is by this Act expressly made alterable by that Legislature, and
also any enactments in force in Ireland, except such as either relate to
matters beyond the powers of the Irish Legislature, or being enacted by
Parliament after the passing of this Act, may be expressly extended to
Ireland. An Irish Act notwithstanding it is in any respect repugnant to
any enactment excepted as aforesaid, shall, though read subject to that
enactment, be, except to the extent of that repugnancy, valid.

(2) An order, rule, or regulation, made in pursuance of, or having the
force of, an Act of Parliament, shall be deemed to be an enactment within
the meaning of this section.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall affect Bills relating to the divorce or
marriage of individuals, and any such Bill shall be introduced and proceed
in Parliament in like manner as if this Act had not been passed.

[Sidenote: Limitation of borrowing by local authorities.]

=34.= The local authority for any county or borough or other area shall
not borrow money without either--

    (_a_) A special authority from the Irish Legislature, or

    (_b_) The sanction of the proper department of the Irish Government;

and shall not, without such special authority, borrow:

    (i.) In the case of municipal borough or town or area less than a
    county, any loan which together with the then outstanding debt of the
    local authority, will exceed twice the annual rateable value of the
    property, in the municipal borough, town, or area; or

    (ii.) In the case of a county or larger area, any loan which together
    with the then outstanding debt of the local authority, will exceed
    one-tenth of the annual rateable value of the property in the county
    or area; or

    (iii.) In any case a loan exceeding one-half of the above limits
    without a local inquiry held in the county, borough, or area by a
    person appointed for the purpose by the said department.

_Transitory Provisions._

[Sidenote: Temporary restriction on powers of Irish Legislature and
Executive.]

=35.=--(1) During _three_ years from the passing of this Act, and if
Parliament is then sitting until the end of that session of Parliament,
the Irish Legislature shall not pass an Act respecting the relations of
landlord and tenant, or the sale, purchase, or letting of land generally;
Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the passing of any
Irish Act with a view to the purchase of land for railways, harbours,
water-works, town improvements, or other local undertakings.

(2) During _six_ years from the passing of this Act, the appointment of a
judge of the Supreme Court or other Superior Courts in Ireland (other than
one of the Exchequer judges) shall be made in pursuance of a warrant from
Her Majesty countersigned as heretofore.

[Sidenote: Transitory provisions.]

=36.=--(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act Her Majesty the Queen in
Council may make or direct such arrangements as seem necessary or proper
for setting in motion the Irish Legislature and Government and for
otherwise bringing this Act into operation.

(2) The Irish Legislature shall be summoned to meet on the _first Tuesday
in September, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-four_, and the first
election of members of the two Houses of the Irish Legislature shall be
held at such time before that day as may be fixed by Her Majesty in
Council.

(3) Upon the first meeting of the Irish Legislature the members of the
House of Commons then sitting for Irish constituencies, including the
members for Dublin University, shall vacate their seats, and writs shall,
as soon as conveniently may be, be issued by the Lord Chancellor of
Ireland for the purpose of holding an election of members to serve in
Parliament for the constituencies named in the Second Schedule of this
Act.

(4) The existing Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and the senior of the
existing puisne judges of the Exchequer Division of the Supreme Court, or
if they or either of them are or is dead or unable or unwilling to act,
such other of the judges of the Supreme Court as Her Majesty may appoint,
shall be the first Exchequer judges.

(5) Where it appears to Her Majesty the Queen in Council, before the
expiration of _one year_ after the appointed day, that any existing
enactment respecting matters within the powers of the Irish Legislature
requires adaptation to Ireland, whether--

    (_a_) By the substitution of the Lord-Lieutenant in Council, or of any
    departments or office of the Executive Government in Ireland, for Her
    Majesty in Council, a Secretary of State, the Treasury, the
    Postmaster-General, the Board of Inland Revenue, or other public
    department or offices in Great Britain; or

    (_b_) By the substitution of the Irish Consolidated Fund or moneys
    provided by the Irish Legislature for the Consolidated Fund of the
    United Kingdom, or moneys provided by Parliament, or

    (_c_) By the substitution or confirmation by, or other act to be done
    by or to, the Irish Legislature for confirmation by or other act to be
    done by or to Parliament; or

    (_d_) By any other adaptation; Her Majesty, by Order in Council, may
    make that adaptation.

(6) Her Majesty the Queen in Council may provide for the transfer of such
property, rights, and liabilities, and the doing of such other things as
may appear to Her Majesty necessary or proper for carrying into effect
this Act or any Order in Council under this Act.

(7) An Order in Council under this section may make an adaptation or
provide for a transfer either unconditionally or subject to such
exceptions, conditions, and restrictions as may seem expedient.

(8) The draft of every Order in Council under this section shall be laid
before both Houses of Parliament for not less than two months before it is
made, and such order when made shall, subject as respects Ireland to the
provisions of an Irish Act, have full effect, but shall not interfere with
the continued application to any place, authority, person, or thing, not
in Ireland, of the enactment to which the Order relates.

[Sidenote: Continuance of existing laws, courts, offices, etc.]

=37.=--Except as otherwise provided by this Act, all existing laws,
institutions, authorities, and officers in Ireland, whether judicial,
administrative, or ministerial, and all existing taxes in Ireland shall
continue as if this Act had not passed, but with the modifications
necessary for adapting the same to this Act, and subject to be repealed,
abolished, altered, and adapted in the manner and to the extent authorised
by this Act.

[Sidenote: Appointed day.]

=38.=--Subject as in this Act mentioned the appointed day for the purposes
of this Act shall be the day of the first meeting of the Irish
Legislature, or such other day not more than _seven_ months earlier or
later as may be fixed by order of Her Majesty in Council either generally
or with reference to any particular provision of this Act, and different
days may be appointed for different purposes and different provisions of
this Act, whether contained in the same section or in different sections.

[Sidenote: Definitions.]

=39.=--In this Act unless the context otherwise requires--

    The expression 'existing' means existing at the passing of this Act.

    The expression 'constituency' means a parliamentary constituency or a
    county or borough returning a member or members to serve in either
    House of the Irish Legislature, as the case requires, and the
    expression 'parliamentary constituency' means any county, borough, or
    university returning a member or members to serve in Parliament.

    The expression 'parliamentary elector' means a person entitled to be
    registered as a voter at a parliamentary election.

    The expression 'parliamentary election' means the election of a member
    to serve in Parliament.

    The expression 'tax' includes duties and fees, and the expression
    'duties of excise' does not include licence duties.

    The expression 'foreign mails' means all postal packets, whether
    letters, parcels, or other packets, posted in the United Kingdom and
    sent to a place out of the United Kingdom, or posted in a place out of
    the United Kingdom and sent to a place in the United Kingdom, or in
    transit through the United Kingdom to a place out of the United
    Kingdom.

    The expression 'telegraphic line' has the same meaning as in the
    Telegraphs Acts, 1863 to 1892.

    The expression 'duties on postage' includes all rates and sums
    chargeable for or in respect of postal packets, money orders, or
    telegrams, or otherwise under the Post-office Acts or the Telegraph
    Act, 1892.

    The expression 'Irish Act' means a law made by the Irish Legislature.

[Sidenote: 26 & 27 Vict. c. 112. 41 & 42 Vict. c. 76. 55 & 56 Vict. c. 59.
7 Will. 4, and 1 Vict. c. 36. 32 & 33 Vict. c. 73. 48 & 49 Vict. c. 58.]

    The expression 'election laws' means the laws relating to the election
    of members to serve in Parliament, other than those relating to the
    qualification of electors, and includes all the laws respecting the
    registration of electors, the issue and execution of writs, the
    creation of polling districts, the taking of the poll, the questioning
    of elections, corrupt and illegal practices, the disqualification of
    members, and the vacating of seats.

    The expression 'rateable value' means the annual rateable value under
    the Irish Valuation Acts.

    The expression 'salary' includes remuneration, allowances, and
    emoluments.

    The expression 'pension' includes superannuation allowance.

[Sidenote: Short title.]

=40.=--This Act may be cited as the Irish Government Act, 1893.


SCHEDULES.

FIRST SCHEDULE: LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL--CONSTITUENCIES AND NUMBER OF
COUNCILLORS.

  ------------------------------------------
  Constituencies.            | Councillors.
  ---------------------------|--------------
  Antrim County              |   Three
  Armagh County              |    One
  Belfast Borough            |    Two
  Carlow County              |    One
  Cavan County               |    One
  Clare County               |    One
  Cork County--              |
    East Riding              |   Three
    West Riding              |    One
  Cork Borough               |    One
  Donegal County             |    One
  Down County                |   Three
  Dublin County              |   Three
    "    Borough             |    Two
  Fermanagh County           |    One
  Galway County              |    Two
  Kerry County               |    One
  Kildare County             |    One
  Kilkenny County            |    One
  King's County              |    One
  Leitrim and Sligo Counties |    One
  Limerick County            |    Two
  Londonderry County         |    One
  Longford County            |    One
  Louth County               |    One
  Mayo County                |    One
  Meath County               |    One
  Monaghan County            |    One
  Queen's County             |    One
  Roscommon County           |    One
  Tipperary County           |    Two
  Tyrone County              |    One
  Waterford County           |    One
  Westmeath County           |    One
  Wexford County             |    One
  Wicklow County             |    One
  ---------------------------|--------------
                             | Forty-eight
  ------------------------------------------

The expression 'borough' in this schedule means an existing parliamentary
borough. Counties of cities and towns not named in this Schedule shall be
combined with the county at large in which they are included for
Parliamentary elections, and if not so included, then with the county at
large bearing the same name.

A borough named in this Schedule shall not for the purposes of this
Schedule form part of any other constituency.

SECOND SCHEDULE: IRISH MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

  ---------------------------------------------------
                                |  Number of Members
  Constituency.                 |     for House
                                |    of Commons.
  ------------------------------|--------------------
  Antrim County                 |       Three
  Armagh County                 |        Two
  Belfast Borough (in divisions |}
     as mentioned below)        |}      Four
  Carlow County                 |        One
  Cavan County                  |        Two
  Clare County                  |        Two
  Cork County (in divisions     |}
     as mentioned below)        |}      Five
  Cork Borough                  |        Two
  Donegal County                |       Three
  Down County                   |       Three
  Dublin County                 |        Two
     "   Borough (in divisions  |}
     as mentioned below)        |}      Four
  Fermanagh County              |        One
  Galway County                 |       Three
     "   Borough                |        One
  Kerry County                  |       Three
  Kildare County                |        One
  Kilkenny County               |        One
     "     Borough              |        One
  King's County                 |        One
  Leitrim County                |        Two
  Limerick County               |        Two
     "     Borough              |        One
  Londonderry County            |        Two
     "        Borough           |        One
  Longford County               |        One
  Louth County                  |        One
  Mayo County                   |       Three
  Meath County                  |        Two
  Monaghan County               |        Two
  Newry Borough                 |        One
  Queen's County                |        One
  Roscommon County              |        Two
  Sligo County                  |        Two
  Tipperary County              |       Three
  Tyrone County                 |       Three
  Waterford County              |        One
     "      Borough             |        One
  Westmeath County              |        One
  Wexford County                |        Two
  Wicklow County                |        One
  ------------------------------|--------------------
                                |       Eighty
  ---------------------------------------------------

(1) In this Schedule the expression 'borough' means an existing
parliamentary borough.

(2) In the parliamentary boroughs of Belfast and Dublin, one member shall
be returned by each of the existing parliamentary divisions of those
boroughs, and the law relating to the divisions of boroughs shall apply
accordingly.

(3) The county of Cork shall be divided into two divisions, consisting of
the East Riding and the West Riding, and three members shall be elected by
the East Riding, and two members shall be elected by the West Riding; and
the law relating to divisions of counties shall apply to these divisions.

THIRD SCHEDULE: FINANCE-IMPERIAL LIABILITIES, EXPENDITURE, AND
MISCELLANEOUS REVENUE.

_Liabilities._

For the purposes of this Act, 'Imperial liabilities' consist of:--

(1) The funded and unfunded debt of the United Kingdom, inclusive of
terminable annuities paid out of the permanent annual charge for the
National Debt, and inclusive of the cost of the management of the said
funded and unfunded debt, but exclusive of the Local Loans Stock and
Guaranteed Land Stock, and the cost of the management thereof; and

(2) All other charges on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom for
the repayment of borrowed money, or to fulfil a guarantee.

_Expenditure._

For the purpose of this Act Imperial expenditure consists of expenditure
for the following services:--

1. Naval and military expenditure (including Greenwich Hospital).

2. Civil expenditure, that is to say--

    (_a_) Civil list and Royal family.

    (_b_) Salaries, pensions, allowances, and incidental expenses of--

        (i.) Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

        (ii.) Exchequer judges in Ireland.

    (_c_) Buildings, works, salaries, pensions, printing, stationery,
    allowances, and incidental expenses of--

        (i.) Parliament;

        (ii.) National Debt Commissioners;

        (iii.) Foreign Office and diplomatic and consular service,
        including secret service, special services, and telegraph
        subsidies;

        (iv.) Colonial Office, including special services and telegraph
        subsidies;

        (v.) Privy Council;

        (vi.) Board of Trade, including the Mercantile Marine Fund, Patent
        Office, Railway Commission, and Wreck Commission, but excluding
        Bankruptcy;

        (vii.) Mint;

        (viii.) Meteorological Society;

        (ix.) Slave trade service.

    (_d_) Foreign mails and telegraphic communication with places outside
    the United Kingdom.

_Revenue._

For the purposes of this Act the public revenue to a portion of which
Ireland may claim to be entitled consists of revenue from the following
sources:--

1. Suez Canal shares or payments on account thereof.

2. Loans and advances to foreign countries.

3. Annual payments by British possessions.

4. Fees, stamps, and extra receipts received by departments, the expenses
of which are part of the Imperial expenditure.

5. Small branches of the hereditary revenues of the Crown.

6. Foreshores.

FOURTH SCHEDULE: PROVISIONS AS TO POST OFFICE.

(1) The Postmaster-General shall pay to the Irish Post Office in respect
of any foreign mails sent through Ireland and the Irish Post Office shall
pay to the Postmaster-General in respect of any foreign mails sent through
Great Britain, such sum as may be agreed upon for the carriage of those
mails in Ireland or Great Britain, as the case may be.

(2) The Irish Post Office shall pay to the Postmaster-General;

    (i.) One-half of the expense of the packet service and submarine
    telegraph lines between Great Britain and Ireland after deducting from
    that expense of the sum fixed by the Postmaster-General as incurred on
    account of foreign mails or telegraphic communication with a place out
    of the United Kingdom, as the case may be; and

    (ii.) Five per cent. of the expenses of the conveyance outside the
    United Kingdom of foreign mails, and of the transmission of telegrams
    to places outside the United Kingdom; and

    (iii.) Such proportion of the receipts for telegrams to places out of
    the United Kingdom as is due in respect of the transmission outside
    the United Kingdom of such telegrams.

(3) The Postmaster-General and the Irish Post Office respectively shall
pay to the other of them on account of foreign money orders, of
compensation in respect of postal packets, and of any matters not
specifically provided for in this Schedule, such sums as may be agreed
upon.

(4) Of the existing debt incurred in respect of telegraphs, a sum of five
hundred and fifty thousand pounds, two and three quarters per cent.
Consolidated Stock shall be treated as debt of the Irish Post Office, and
for paying the dividends on and redeeming such stock there shall be paid
half-yearly by the Irish Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom
an annuity of _eighteen_ thousand pounds for _sixty_ years, and such
annuity when paid into the Exchequer shall be forthwith paid to the
National Debt Commissioners and applied for the reduction of the National
Debt.

(5) The Postmaster-General and the Irish Post Office may agree on the
facilities to be afforded by the Irish Post Office in Ireland in relation
to any matters the administration of which by virtue of this Act remains
with the Postmaster-General, and with respect to the use of the Irish
telegraphic lines for through lines in connection with submarine
telegraphs, or with telegraphic communication with any place out of the
United Kingdom.

FIFTH SCHEDULE: REGULATIONS AS TO GRATUITIES AND PENSIONS FOR CIVIL
SERVANTS.

SIXTH SCHEDULE:

    PART I.--REGULATIONS AS TO ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICE FORCES AND AS TO
    THE ROYAL IRISH CONSTABULARY AND DUBLIN METROPOLITAN POLICE CEASING TO
    EXIST.

(1) Such local police forces shall be established under such local
authorities and for such counties, municipal boroughs, or other larger
areas, as may be provided by Irish Act.

(2) Whenever the Executive Committee of the Privy Council in Ireland
certify to the Lord-Lieutenant that a police force, adequate for local
purposes, has been established in any area, then, subject to the
provisions of this Act, he shall within six months thereafter direct the
Royal Irish Constabulary to be withdrawn from the performance of regular
police duties in such area, and such order shall be forthwith carried into
effect.

(3) Upon any such withdrawal the Lord-Lieutenant shall order measures to
be taken for a proportionate reduction of the numbers of the Royal Irish
Constabulary, and such order shall be duly executed.

(4) Upon the Executive Committee of the Privy Council in Ireland
certifying to the Lord-Lieutenant that adequate local police forces have
been established in every part of Ireland, then subject to the provisions
of this Act, the Lord-Lieutenant shall within six months after such
certificate, order measures to be taken for causing the whole of the Royal
Irish Constabulary to cease to exist as a police force, and such order
shall be duly executed.

(5) Where the area in which a local police force is established is part of
the Dublin Metropolitan Police District, the foregoing regulations shall
apply to the Dublin Metropolitan Police in like manner as if that force
were the Royal Irish Constabulary.


PART II.--REGULATIONS AS TO GRATUITIES AND PENSIONS FOR THE ROYAL IRISH
CONSTABULARY AND DUBLIN METROPOLITAN POLICE.

SEVENTH SCHEDULE: REGULATIONS AS TO HOUSES OF THE LEGISLATURE AND THE
MEMBERS THEREOF.

_Legislative Council._

(1) There shall be a separate register of electors of councillors of the
Legislative Council which shall be made, until otherwise provided by Irish
Act, in like manner as the Parliamentary register of electors.

(2) Where, for the election of Councillors, any counties are combined so
as to form one constituency, then until otherwise provided by Irish Act,

    (_a_) The returning officer for the whole constituency shall be that
    one of the returning officers for Parliamentary elections for those
    counties to whom the writ is addressed, and the writ shall be
    addressed to the returning officer for the constituency with the
    largest population, according to the census of 1891.

    (_b_) The returning officer shall have the same authority throughout
    the whole constituency as a returning officer to a Parliamentary
    election for a county has in the county.

    (_c_) The registers of electors of each county shall jointly be the
    register of electors for the constituency.

    (_d_) For the purposes of this Schedule 'county' includes a county of
    a city or town, and this Schedule, and the law relating to the
    qualification of electors, shall apply, as if the county of a city or
    town formed part of the county at large with which it is combined, and
    the qualification in the county of a city or town shall be the same as
    in such county at large.

(3) Writs shall be issued for the election of councillors at such time not
less than one or more than three months before the day for the periodical
retirement of councillors as the Lord-Lieutenant in Council may fix.

(4) The day for the periodical retirement of councillors shall, until
otherwise provided by Irish Act, be the last day of August in every fourth
year.

(5) For the purposes of such retirement, the constituencies shall be
divided into two equal divisions, and the constituencies in each province
shall be divided as nearly as may be equally between those divisions, and
constituencies returning two or more members shall be treated as two or
more constituencies, and placed in both divisions.

(6) Subject as aforesaid, the particular constituencies which are to be in
each division shall be determined by lot.

(7) The said division and lot shall be made and conducted before the
appointed day in manner directed by the Lord-Lieutenant in Council.

(8) The first councillors elected for the constituencies in the first
division shall retire on the first day of retirement which occurs after
the first meeting of the Irish Legislature, and the first councillors for
the constituencies in the second division shall retire on the second day
of retirement after that meeting.

(9) Any casual vacancy among the councillors shall be filled by a new
election, but the councillor filling the vacancy shall retire at the time
at which the vacating councillor would have retired.

_Legislative Assembly._

(10) The Parliamentary register of electors for the time being shall,
until otherwise provided by Irish Act, be the register of electors of the
Legislative Assembly.

_Both Houses._

(11) Until otherwise provided by Irish Act, the Lord-Lieutenant in Council
may make regulations for adapting the existing election laws to the
election of members of the two Houses of the Legislature.

(12) Annual sessions of the Legislature shall be held.

(13) Any peer, whether of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England,
Scotland, or Ireland, shall be qualified to be a member of either House.

(14) A member of either House may by writing under his hand resign his
seat, and the same shall thereupon be vacant.

(15) The same person shall not be a member of both Houses.

(16) Until otherwise provided by Irish Act, if the same person is elected
to a seat in each House, he shall, before the eighth day after the next
sitting of either House, by written notice, elect in which House he will
serve, and upon such election his seat in the other House shall be vacant,
and if he does not so elect, his seat in both Houses shall be vacant.

(17) Until otherwise provided by Irish Act, any such notice electing in
which House a person will sit, or any notice of resignation, shall be
given in manner directed by the Standing Orders of the Houses, and if
there is no such direction, shall be given to the Lord-Lieutenant.

(18) The powers of either House shall not be affected by any vacancy
therein, or any defect in the election or qualification of any member
thereof.

(19) Until otherwise provided by Irish Act, the holders of such Irish
offices as may be named by Order of the Queen in Council before the
appointed day, shall be entitled to be elected to and sit in either House,
notwithstanding that they hold offices under the Crown, but on acceptance
of any such office the seat of any such person in either House shall be
vacated unless he has accepted the office in succession to some other of
the said offices.

_Transitory._

(20) The Lord-Lieutenant in Council may, before the appointed day, make
regulations for the following purposes:--

    (_a_) The making of a register of electors of councillors in time for
    the election of the first councillors, and with that object for the
    variation of the days relating to registration in the existing
    election laws, and for prescribing the duties of officers, and for
    making such adaptations of those laws as appear necessary or proper
    for duly making a register;

    (_b_) The summoning of the two Houses of the Legislature of Ireland,
    the issue of writs and any other things appearing to be necessary or
    proper for the election of members of the two Houses;

    (_c_) The election of a chairman (whether called Speaker, President,
    or by any other name) of each House, the quorum of each House, the
    communications between the two Houses, and such adaptation to the
    proceedings of the two Houses of the procedure of Parliament, as
    appears expedient for facilitating the conduct of business by those
    Houses on their first meeting;

    (_d_) The adaptation to the two Houses and the members thereof of any
    laws and customs relating to the House of Commons or the members
    thereof;

    (_e_) The deliberation and voting together of the two Houses in cases
    provided by this Act.

(21) The regulations maybe altered by Irish Act, and also in so far as
they concern the procedure of either House alone, by Standing Orders of
that House, but shall, until altered, have effect as if enacted in this
Act.



NOTE I

FROM THE 'MEMOIRS OF THE LATE LORD SELBORNE'

(Part ii. pp. 261-263).


... Each new step Gladstone takes is, as it seems to me, more and more on
the side of _moral_ as well as political evil. Much as I disapproved of
his surrender of last year to Parnell, I disapprove very much more of his
present endeavour to prevent the restoration in the present stage of the
Home Rule question, of the reign of law in Ireland, and of the _means_ he
is attempting to use for _that_ purpose. Deliberate and organised
obstruction in the House of Commons, and an attempt to overrule a majority
against him there, of more than one hundred, by violent appeals to popular
passions outside,--those appeals being supported by representing the cause
of anarchy and conspiring against law as the cause of liberty,--by denying
the existence of any case for strengthening the law, in the face of a
complete and manifest paralysis of law by the power of a seditious
organisation, into whose scale he has now thrown his whole influence,--and
by denouncing, in the most violent terms, the principle of measures for
the protection of the loyal, and for securing the due administration of
justice, which are the same (in their general character, for it is not
necessary here to go into questions of detail) with those by means of
which he himself governed Ireland for the last years of his power, and far
more consistent with all real ideas of liberty than the suspension of the
Habeas Corpus Act, which he introduced in 1881. It was quite open to him
(of course) to contend that, by the acceptance of his Home Rule scheme,
the necessity for any such measures might be prevented, and that he
prefers and insists upon that alternative,--so much as _that_ was involved
in his measures of last year; but it is quite a different thing to
denounce the principle of maintaining law and government, and defending
those who respect and obey law from the tyranny of conspirators against
it, and making the ordinary criminal law of the country a reality and not
a mere idle name,--'as coercion,' in the sense of an undue invasion of
liberty. To do this, and to appeal _ad populum_ against it from an
overwhelming majority in Parliament is _Acheronta movere_, with a
vengeance.... For a man who, with his attainments, his experience, his
professions, his fifty years' public service, his political education
under some of the greatest and best men of the time, has three times
filled the highest office in the State, and is now on the verge of the
grave, so to end his career, seems to me more shocking and disheartening
than anything else recorded in our history. It is only the old respect,
and old attachment, which makes one search about for the possible
explanations, in the workings of a very complex and intricate mind. If (as
I trust) the Government and the House of Commons stand firm, all his
efforts in the cause of anarchy will be in vain. The clause as to removing
trials to England may have to be given up; but the _permanence_ of the
Bill (its best feature of all) must remain, if any good is to be done.

... I will spare you a long yarn about politics this time. The G.O.M.
seems to be determined to pull the whole Irish house down, parliamentary
government and all, unless he can have his own way. But I have no fear
that he _will_ have his way, just at present, whatever harm he may do in
the endeavour. But the struggle is very disagreeable, as well as sharp.



NOTE II

REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMISSION (Vol. iv. pp. 544, 545).

_Conclusions of the Report of the Judges._


We have now pursued our inquiry over a sufficiently extended period to
enable us to report upon the several charges and allegations which have
been made against the respondents, and we have indicated in the course of
this statement our findings upon these charges and allegations, but it
will be convenient to repeat _seriatim_ the conclusions we have arrived
at upon the issues which have been raised for our consideration.

I. We find that the respondent members of Parliament collectively were not
members of a conspiracy having for its object to establish the absolute
independence of Ireland, but we find that some of them, together with Mr.
Davitt, established and joined in the Land League organisation with the
intention by its means to bring about the absolute independence of Ireland
as a separate nation. The names of these respondents are set out on a
previous page.

II. We find that the respondents did enter into a conspiracy by a system
of coercion and intimidation to promote an agrarian agitation against the
payment of agricultural rents, for the purpose of impoverishing and
expelling from the country the Irish landlords who were styled the
'English Garrison.'

III. We find that the charge that 'when on certain occasions they thought
it politic to denounce, and did denounce, certain crimes in public they
afterwards led their supporters to believe such denunciations were not
sincere' is not established. We entirely acquit Mr. Parnell and the other
respondents of the charge of insincerity in their denunciation of the
Phoenix Park murders, and find that the 'facsimile' letters on which
this charge was chiefly based as against Mr. Parnell is a forgery.

IV. We find that the respondents did disseminate the _Irish World_ and
other newspapers tending to incite to sedition and the commission of other
crime.

V. We find that the respondents did not directly incite persons to the
commission of crime other than intimidation, but that they did incite to
intimidation, and that the consequence of that incitement was that crime
and outrage were committed by the persons incited. We find that it has not
been proved that the respondents made payments for the purpose of inciting
persons to commit crime.

VI. We find as to the allegation that the respondents did nothing to
prevent crime and expressed no _bonâ fide_ disapproval, that some of the
respondents, and in particular Mr. Davitt, did express _bonâ fide_
disapproval of crime and outrage, but that the respondents did not
denounce the system of intimidation which led to crime and outrage, but
persisted in it with knowledge of its effect.

VII. We find that the respondents did defend persons charged with agrarian
crime, and supported their families, but that it has not been proved that
they subscribed to testimonials for, or were intimately associated with,
notorious criminals, or that they made payments to procure the escape of
criminals from justice.

VIII. We find, as to the allegation that the respondents made payments to
compensate persons who had been injured in the commission of crime, that
they did make such payments.

IX. As to the allegation that the respondents invited the assistance and
co-operation of and accepted subscriptions of money from known advocates
of crime and the use of dynamite, we find that the respondents did invite
the assistance and co-operation of and accepted subscriptions of money
from Patrick Ford, a known advocate of crime and the use of dynamite, but
that it has not been proved that the respondents, or any of them, knew
that the Clan-na-Gael controlled the League or was collecting money for
the Parliamentary Fund. It has been proved that the respondents invited
and obtained the assistance and co-operation of the Physical Force Party
in America, including the Clan-na-Gael, and in order to obtain that
assistance, abstained from repudiating or condemning the action of that
party.



Index


  A

  Administration of the affairs of Ireland: its nature and defects, 28, 29.

  Agrarian crime in Ireland, 12, 29, 128, 135, 146. _See_ Whiteboyism

  Agriculture, state of, in Ireland, 3, 7, 204, 205, 206, 234


  B

  Balfour, Mr. Arthur: his successful policy when Chief Secretary for
        Ireland, 58;
    he establishes light railways in Ireland, and the Congested Districts
        Board, 35, 36

  Belfast, improvement in, within the last sixty years, 2

  Bewley, Mr. Justice, the head of the Second Land Commission: his theory
        of occupation right in the Irish land, 219, 220

  Bureaucracy, the, of the Castle, 28, 29

  Butt, Isaac: the true author of the conception of Home Rule, 41;
    his work on Irish Federalism, 42


  C

  Chicago, the Convention at, in 1886: speeches of two of Parnell's
        envoys, 57

  Code, the Irish Penal: its effects on the Irish land, 99, 100. _See_ the
        Question of the Irish Land, Chap. III., in several places

  Commissions appointed for considering and administering Irish affairs:
    (1) the Devon Commission and its Report--the mistake it made as to
        Irish land tenure, 116;
    (2) the Childers Commission and its Report on Irish finance, 288-291
        (_see_ chapter on the Present Question of Irish Finance, _passim_);
    (3) the Land Commission appointed to carry out the Land Act of 1881
        and its supplements, 166, 190, 191. _See_ Chaps. IV., V., VI., on
        the Question of the Irish Land, in many places

  Confiscations of the Irish Land, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96. _See_ Chap.
        III., on the Question of the Irish Land, in several places

  Cork has not prospered within the last sixty years, 2

  Cromwell, Irish policy of, especially as to the land, 93, 94


  D

  Davitt, Michael, inaugurates the Irish Land League, 44

  Derby, the Administration of Lord, brings in Irish Land Bills in 1852,
        which do not become law, 123

  Dublin, improvements in, within sixty years, 2


  E

  Emancipation, Catholic: its effects on Irish landed relations, 113, 114

  Encumbered Estates Act: an iniquitous measure of confiscation, and its
        results, 121, 122

  Exodus, the, of the Irish race after the Famine, 120. _See_ Chap. III.,
        the Question of the Irish Land, in several places


  F

  Famine, the Great Irish, of 1845-47, 117, 118, 119;
   and _see_ Chap. III., on the Irish land, in several places

  Fenian outbreaks in Ireland, 128, 129;
    the consequences, 129;
    the influence of Fenianism in Ireland after 1870, 147

  Finance, the question of Irish: the financial relations between Great
        Britain and Ireland a subject of long controversy, 271;
    what they were before 1782, 273,
    and under Grattan's Parliament, 274;
    increase of the debt and the taxation of Ireland by the close of the
        eighteenth century, 274, 275;
    the financial arrangements made at the Union, the work of Pitt, 275,
        276;
    his object was to 'assimilate Great Britain and Ireland in finance,'
        but this was impossible, and why, ibid.;
    the financial settlement effected at the Union--Ireland to pay a
        contribution, but not to be taxed beyond her means, ibid.;
    the seventh article of the Treaty of Union and its constitutional
        meaning, 277, 278;
    the settlement denounced in the Irish Parliament, especially by Foster
        and Grattan, 279;
    protest of the twenty peers, 279, 280;
    the Union left Ireland financially a distinct country, 280;
    the settlement made at the Union reduced her to bankruptcy, and how,
        281, 282;
    the compromise of 1816, 282, 283;
    the real objects of this measure, 283, 284;
    though theoretically to 'be assimilated' in finance, Ireland remained
        for many years financially a completely distinct country, and the
        reasons, 284;
    this fully recognised by Peel in 1842, 285;
    he refused to extend the income tax to Ireland, and permanently to
        increase her spirit duties, ibid.;
    Mr. Gladstone in 1853 suddenly disregards this policy, and imposes the
        income tax on Ireland, and raises her spirit duties, 286;
    gross injustice of this increase of taxation, especially under the
        circumstances of Ireland, 286, 289;
    Ireland to a considerable extent 'assimilated in finance' to Great
        Britain, but not completely, even to the present day, a fact that
        should be kept in mind, 287;
    the Committee of 1863-64 on Irish finance, ibid.;
    it fails to get Ireland justice, 288;
    Mr. Goschen appoints a Committee to investigate the subject, ibid.;
    this followed by the Childers Commission, appointed by Mr. Gladstone
        in 1893, ibid.;
    scope of the inquiry, 288, 289;
    the work of the Childers Commission, 289;
    it reports that Ireland has been overtaxed at the rate of between two
        and three millions a year, and that for a very considerable space
        of time, 290;
    view of Sir R. Giffen that even this estimate falls short of the real
        truth, 291, 292;
    this overtaxation especially severe in the case of Ireland, a poor
        country, 292-295;
    the attempts that have been made to answer and refute the Report of
        the Childers Commission have been grotesque failures, 295;
    examination of these arguments and reply to them--they are either
        fallacious, or mischievous and dangerous, 295-305;
    question of a counterclaim against Ireland in finance, 306;
    financial redress which Ireland has a right to demand, 307;
    the question should be settled, 308

  Foster, Mr., Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, opposes the
        financial arrangements of the Union, 272


  G

  Galway in decay, 6

  Gladstone, Mr.: he ridicules Butt's scheme of Home Rule, 44;
    fall of his Administration in 1885, 46;
    his attitude at the General Election of that year, ibid.;
    he becomes a convert to Home Rule and the probable reasons, 47, 48;
    the best members of the Liberal Party break away from him, 48;
    he introduces his first Home Rule Bill, ibid.;
    he dissolves Parliament after the rejection of that measure by the
        House of Commons, 56;
    he allies himself with the party of disorder in Ireland, 58, 59;
    he negotiates with Parnell about Home Rule, 59;
    he returns to office in 1892 with a small majority, 61;
    he introduces his second Home Rule Bill in 1893, 62;
    his Irish policy in 1868, 131;
    he disestablishes and disendows the Protestant church in Ireland,
        ibid.;
    he makes no provision for the Irish Catholic clergy, a capital
        mistake, 132;
    he introduces the Land Act of 1870 for Ireland, 139, 140;
    he declares against the Three F's, and announces that this measure is
        to be final, ibid.;
    he becomes Minister for the second time in 1880, 154;
    he introduces the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, 155;
    he surrenders to the Land League and introduces the Land Act of 1881,
        169;
    he makes the Kilmainham treaty with Parnell, 170;
    the fiscal wrong he does to Ireland in 1853-60, 286;
    he appoints the Childers Commission in 1893 to investigate the subject
        of Irish finance, 288;
    his scheme of Irish University Reform, 343, 344.
    And _see_ Chap. VIII., on Other Irish Questions

  Goschen, Mr., refers the question of the financial relations of Great
        Britain and Ireland to a Committee, 288

  Grattan: he denounces the financial settlement made at the Union for
        Ireland, 279


  H

  Henry VII.: his Irish policy, 89

  Henry VIII.: his wise policy for Ireland unhappily prevented, 89, 90

  Home Rule, the question of: Home Rule not dead, 39;
    the present attitude of the Liberal and the 'Nationalist' parties
        towards Home Rule, 40;
    it is a 'Present Irish Question,' 41;
    Isaac Butt inaugurated this policy, ibid.;
    his plan of Home Rule, 42;
    the Irish Home Rule party, 43;
    Butt's proposals powerfully attacked in Parliament, notably by Mr.
        Gladstone, ibid.;
    Butt is gradually supplanted by Parnell, 44;
    Michael Davitt and the 'New Departure,' ibid.;
    Parnell the head of the Land League, 44, 45;
    Mr. Gladstone succumbs to it, 45;
    Home Rule condemned by statesmen of all parties in 1880-84, ibid.;
    Mr. Gladstone accepts Home Rule, 47;
    the first Home Rule Bill of 1886, 48;
    its characteristics and the objections to it, 48-50;
    what its results would have been, 51-54;
    the Bill is rejected in the House of Commons, 55;
    attitude of the Fenians in America, 55, 56;
    causes that promoted the Home Rule policy in Great Britain, 59, 60;
    results of the General Election of 1892, 61;
    the Home Rule Bill of 1893, 62;
    its characteristics and vices, 62-64;
    it is a much more objectionable measure than that of 1886, and why,
        65;
    strong opposition to it in the country, 68;
    the in-and-out plan given up, 69;
    the Bill passes the House of Commons by a small majority through the
        expedient of 'closure by compartments' 69;
    it is rejected in the House of Lords by an overwhelming majority, 70;
    Home Rule is scattered to the winds at the General Election of 1895,
        ibid.;
    it is not a prominent question at that of 1900, ibid.;
    the subject cannot be dismissed, 71;
    different forms of Home Rule, 71-73;
    separation a better policy than Home Rule, 73;
    'Home Rule all round,' 73, 74;
    conclusive objections to this scheme, 74-77;
    the Union must be maintained, and Home Rule rejected by the nation, 78;
    the rule of the Imperial Parliament has had some bad effects in Irish
        affairs, and why, 79, 80;
    proposal that the Imperial Parliament should occasionally sit in
        Dublin, and the advantages of this, 81;
    royalty should sometimes visit Ireland, 82;
    necessity, in order to guard against Home Rule, and for other reasons,
        to reduce the over-representation of Ireland in the House of
        Commons, 82, 83


  I

  Ireland in 1901: a revolution has passed over Ireland, 2;
    she has made some material progress, 2;
    Dublin and Belfast, ibid.;
    improvement in the habitations of the community and in Catholic places
        of worship, 2, 3;
    material progress of the community, 3-5;
    the dark side of the picture, 5;
    decline of several towns in Ireland, of manufactures, of fishing
        industry, and of agriculture, 6, 7;
    Ireland a poor country, 7;
    excessive emigration, 8;
    great increase of local and general taxation, 8;
    the progress of Ireland as nothing compared to that of England and
        Scotland, 9;
    the Irish land system at the beginning of the reign of Victoria, 11;
    sketch of it from that to the present time, 11-17 (and _see_ the
        Question of the Irish Land, Chap. III., in many places);
    Ireland and her three peoples, 18;
    Catholic Ireland remains for the most part disaffected, despite the
        great reforms effected in its interest, 19-21;
    the Catholic democracy of Ireland, 21;
    failure of the policy of conciliation, 22;
    Presbyterian Ireland--its sentiments and demands, ibid.;
    Protestant Ireland--its position in the community, 22, 23;
    discontent of the landed gentry, 23;
    character of the Irish legislation of the Imperial Parliament, 23-25,
    and of its administration of Irish affairs, 28, 29;
    the Anglican Church of Ireland, 30;
    the Presbyterian Church, ibid.;
    the Catholic Church, 31;
    the administration of justice in Ireland, 31, 32;
    Irish literature and education, 32, 33;
    _resumé_ of the general condition of Ireland, 33-35;
    the Irish policy of Lord Salisbury's Government during the last six
        years, 35, 36;
    Ireland still 'the vulnerable part near the heart of the Empire,' 37,
        38


  L

  Lalor, John Finton, a rebel of 1848: his teaching with respect to the
        Irish land, 148

  Land, the question of the Irish: importance of the subject, 184, 185;
    the Celtic tribal land system in Ireland, 86, 87;
    the tribes, clans, and septs, 87;
    the partial feudalisation of the land system, 87;
    collective ownership of which traces still exist, 87;
    the Anglo-Norman Conquest of Ireland and the Colony of the Pale, 88;
    the land falls into the hands of great families, ibid.;
    miserable state of Ireland at the close of the fifteenth century, 89;
    Henry VII. and Poynings, ibid.;
    sagacious policy of Henry VIII., especially as regards the land, 90;
    this, unfortunately, was not carried out, ibid.;
    the era of conquest begins, and of the confiscation of the Irish land,
        ibid.;
    confiscation of the territories of the O'Connors of Offaly, of Shane
        O'Neill, and of the Earl of Desmond, 90, 91;
    rebellion of Tyrone, 91;
    all Ireland made shireland, and the old Celtic land system is effaced
        by law, ibid.;
    English modes of land tenure imposed on the people, 91, 92;
    confiscation of the territories of Tyrone and of O'Donnell, 92;
    the Plantation of Ulster, ibid.;
    further confiscation in times of peace, ibid.;
    Strafford marks out Connaught for confiscation, 92;
    beginning of Protestant ascendency in the land, 93;
    vast confiscations effected by Cromwell, 93;
    his scheme of a general colonisation of Ireland fails, 93-95;
    results of the Cromwellian conquest in the land, 95;
    policy of Charles II. as regards the land, ibid.;
    confiscations after the Boyne and the fall of Limerick, 96;
    state of the Irish land system when the period of violent confiscation
        ends, 97, 98;
    the era of Protestant ascendency and of Catholic subjection in
        Ireland, 98, 99;
    the Penal Code and its effects on the land, 99, 100;
    mournful period in Irish history, 100-102;
    gradual improvement in Irish landed relations, 102-104;
    evil traces of the past: Whiteboyism, 105;
    traditions of the ancient land system survive, 106;
    Edmund Burke on Irish land tenures--he indicates a grave economic vice
        in the land system, 107;
    progress of Ireland after 1782, ibid.;
    its effects on the land, 108;
    evil results of the Rebellion of 1798, 109;
    the Union Speech of Lord Clare on Irish landed relations, 109;
    revolution in the land system in the first years of the nineteenth
        century, 110;
    the important social and economic results, 110, 111;
    want of a poor-law, 111;
    the concurrent rights of tenants in the land not protected by the law,
        ibid.;
    period of distress after the Peace of 1815, 112, 113;
    evictions and clearances of estates, 113;
    agrarian disorder, 113;
    Catholic Emancipation, ibid.;
    its results as regards Irish landed relations, 114;
    Peel and the Irish land, 115;
    the Devon Commission and its Report, 115, 116;
    its recommendations as to land tenure ill conceived and condemned in
        Ireland, 117;
    the Famine of 1845-47, and its effects on the Irish land, 118, 119;
    the exodus, 120;
    the Encumbered Estates Act, and the effects of this scheme of
        confiscation, 121, 122;
    agrarian agitation of 1852 in Ireland fails, 123;
    false ideas of British statesmen as regards the land, 129;
    partial prosperity in Ireland for some years, 125;
    this largely deceptive, 126;
    growth of Fenianism, 128;
    the Fenian outbreak, 128, 129;
    change of opinion in England as regards Ireland, 129;
    Mr. Gladstone Prime Minister, 130;
    state of the Irish land system before the Land Act of 1870, 132-138;
    the Land Act of 1870 and its provisions, 141-143;
    merits and defects of this measure, 144, 145;
    state of Irish landed relations after the Act, 146, 147;
    origin of the Land League, 151, 152;
    distress in Ireland, and the Land League, 152-154;
    the Compensation for Disturbance Bill rejected by the House of Lords,
        155;
    frightful state of Ireland and of landed relations in 1880-81, 155-161;
    the Land Act of 1881, 165;
    the provisions of the measure, 165, 166;
    the Act is directly opposed to that of 1870, 168;
    the no-rent movement, 179;
    the National League replaces the Land League, 171, 172;
    state of Irish landed relations in 1886 and 1887, 175;
    the Land Act of 1887, 175;
    the Land Act of 1891, 178, 179;
    the land purchase section in the Irish Land Act, 183;
    the principle of this system false and dangerous, ibid.;
    the Land Purchase Act of 1891, 184;
    recent legislation on the Irish land unjust and tending to
        confiscation, 186, 187.
    The administration of the Irish Land Acts, 188;
    of the Act of 1870, 189;
    of the Act of 1881, and its supplements, 190;
    the first Land Commission--allowances to be made for it, 191;
    principles it should have followed and course it should have pursued
        in fixing 'fair rents,' 192-197;
    the Sub-Commission--nature of these tribunals, 197, 198;
    how they ought to have fixed 'fair rents,' 199, 203;
    criticism of Mr. Lecky, 203, 204;
    examples of injustice, 204, 209;
    faulty methods of fixing 'fair rents,' 209, 213;
    appeals to the Land Commission rendered almost nugatory, 215, 218;
    the second Land Commission: Mr. Justice Bewley and his theory of
        occupation right, 219, 221;
    instance of a gross mistake, 222;
    the Fry Commission--its Report a masked censure on the proceedings of
        the Land Commission, 222, 224;
    Mr. Justice Meredith head of the present Land Commission, 224;
    conduct of the Government as regards the Report of the Fry Commission,
        225;
    results of the labours of the Land Commission and the Sub-Commission
        in fixing 'fair rents,' 225, 227;
    confiscation of the property of landlords, 227;
    excuses made for this false, 228, 229;
    results of the system of land purchase so far, ibid.;
    mischievous and dangerous consequences of all this legislation on the
        Irish land;
    a retrospect of it on the side of occupation, 230-237;
    judgment of Mr. Lecky, 237, 238;
    retrospect of it on the side of ownership, especially with regard to
        the subject of 'compulsive purchase,' which the system of
        'voluntary purchase' has necessarily made a grave question,
        238-256;
    judgment of Mr. Lecky, 256, 257;
    the Irish land system in a deplorable state, 257-259;
    plan of the author for the reform of this system approved by Mr.
        Gladstone and by Parnell, 259-266;
    the compensation of the Irish landlords must be accomplished if public
        faith is to be kept and common justice done, 266-270

  Land League, the: Reign of Terror caused by, 14;
    its teaching and that of the National League, 20;
    ascendency of the Land League in ten or eleven Irish counties, 45;
    frightful state of Ireland due to it, 158-162

  Law, Mr., the Irish Attorney-General of Mr. Gladstone in 1881: his
        definition of 'fair rent,' 192

  Limerick in decay, 6

  Litton, Mr. E. F., a member of the first Land Commission, 192

  Local Government, sketch of, in Ireland, 309-329. _See_ Chap. VIII.,
        Other Irish Questions, in several places


  M

  Macaulay, Lord: speech on the state of Ireland in 1844, 36

  Meredith, Mr. Justice, head of the present Land Commission: a capable
        lawyer, but bound by the precedents of his forerunners, 229


  N

  National League, the: it replaces the Land League, 47, 48;
    its leaders set on foot 'The Plan of Campaign,' 57;
    it was founded by Parnell, 171;
    its character, 172;
    agrarian side of the National League movement, 174, 175;
    decline of the power of the National League in 1889, 177;
    it is at its lowest ebb in 1895, ibid.

  National system of education, 332-336. _See_ Chap. VIII., on Other
        Present Irish Questions


  O

  O'Connell: his evidence on the state of Ireland in 1825, 5;
    he wrings Catholic Emancipation from a reluctant Government, 113;
    leader of the Repeal movement of 1843-44, 115

  O'Hagan, Mr. Justice, head of the first Land Commission, 190

  'Other Present Irish Questions,' Chap. VIII.
    I. Local Government in Ireland, 309;
    the grand juries, their composition and functions, 311-314;
    the administration of the poor law and the Boards of Guardians,
        314-315;
    the administration of cities and towns--its history, 315-318;
    character of, in recent times, 318-320;
    how the reform of 1898 was brought about, 320, 321;
    sketch of the Local Government Act of 1898, 321-326;
    and of its working up to the present time, 326-329.
    II. Education in Ireland, history of, 330 _seqq._:
    primary education, 330-332;
    the National system founded by Mr. Stanley--its principles and
        history, 332-336.
    Secondary education, diocesan schools, 336;
    Royal schools, ibid.;
    Erasmus Smith schools, 337;
    other schools; the system has not been successful, and why, 337, 338.
    University education, Trinity College, its history and the character
        of the institution, 338-341;
    Peel founds the Queen's Colleges and University, 341;
    character of these institutions, 392;
    the Catholic University, ibid.;
    Mr. Gladstone's scheme of Irish University reform, 343, 344;
    grave objections to it, 345, 346;
    it is rejected by the House of Commons, 346;
    Trinity College "opened," ibid.;
    the Royal University, 347;
    injustice of the present system of University education in Ireland,
        347-351;
    two plans of reform suggested, the second to be preferred, 351-360


  P

  Palmerston, Lord: he condemns Irish tenant right, 124

  Parnell: supplants Butt, 44;
    leader of the Land League, 44, 45;
    he denounces the Conservative party in 1885, 46;
    he pretends to accept the Home Rule Bill of 1886, 55;
    the special commission and Parnell, 59;
    he negotiates with Mr. Gladstone on Home Rule, ibid.;
    his fall, 59

  Peel: his remarks on the Constitution in Ireland, 32;
    he appoints the Devon Commission, 115;
    his policy during the famine, 117;
    he refuses in 1842 to extend the income tax to Ireland, 285;
    he founds the Queen's Colleges and the Queen's University in Ireland,
        341

  Pitt: the author of the financial arrangements made at the Union, 275

  Primary education in Ireland, 330-336. _See_ Chap. VIII., on Other
        Present Irish Questions


  Q

  Queen's Colleges and Queen's University: founded by Peel, 341. _See_
        Chap. VIII., on Other Present Irish Questions


  R

  Rebellion of 1798: its effects on the Irish Land, 109


  S

  Salisbury, Lord: character of the Irish policy of his ministry, 35, 36

  Stanley, Mr., founds the system of National Education in Ireland, 332

  Strafford: his Irish policy, 92


  T

  Trinity College, 338-341. _See_ Chap. VIII., on Present Irish Questions


  U

  Ulster Custom, the, 111, 123, 137, 141

  Union, The, 78, 79, 109

  United Irish League, the: fills the place of the Land and the National
        Leagues, 26;
    speeches and conduct of its leaders, 26, 27


  V

  Vernon, Mr. I. E., one of the members of the first Land Commission, 190


  W

  Whiteboyism in Ireland, 12, 105, 160, 161


  Y

  Young, Arthur: his tour in Ireland, 109, 110


  APPENDICES

  I. The Irish Government Bill, 1886, 361-387

  II. The Irish Government Bill, 1893, 388-424

  III. Note I. From the 'Memoirs of the late Lord Selborne,' 425, 426

  IV. Report of the Special Commission, vol. iv. pp. 544, 545. Conclusion
      of the Report of the Judges, 426-428


THE END



  LONDON:

  PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
  STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] It considerably exceeds 300,000 by the figures of the census of 1901.

[2]

                                    1841         1891
  Houses of the first class        40,080       70,740
      "         second class      264,184      466,632
      "         third class       533,297      312,589
      "         fourth class      491,278       20,617

These figures are taken from that most valuable publication, 'Thom's Irish
Directory for 1901,' p. 631. It contains the statistics of Ireland
carefully compiled from official sources.

[3] There has been a small decrease since 1895.

[4] Evidence taken before a Select Committee of the House of Commons,
1824-25, vol. i. p. 49. The whole of O'Connell's evidence should be
studied.

[5]

                                      1894             1900
  Funded Debt held in Ireland      £22,917,530      £18,303,627

  Government Funds and other securities:
  India Stock, Land Stock,
  War Stock, Joint Stock Banks,
  Trustee Savings Banks, and Post
  Office Savings Banks             £67,432,000      £77,494,000

  'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 718.


[6] See the remarkable evidence of Mr. Booth, a high authority, taken by
the Childers Commission, 'Minutes of Evidence,' vol. ii. pp. 212, 213.
This should all be studied.

[7] 'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 699.

[8] Report of Childers Commission, p. 43--

                      1851-55         1889-93
  Crops            £58,537,000      £34,643,000
  Stock            £39,348,000      £53,312,000


[9] 'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 684.

[10] 'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 629.

[11] See the striking observations of Mr. Childers, well worth serious
attention: 'Report of the Childers Commission,' pp. 186, 187.

[12] 'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 662. Number of paupers relieved in 1890,
454,178; in 1898, 525,104. Charge in 1890, £856,008; in 1898, £981,333.
These are the latest returns.

[13] 'Thom's Directory, 1901,' p. 674. Assessment of lands, in 1890, under
Schedule A, £12,736,967; in 1899, £11,664,453. Funded property at the same
periods, £803,300 and £615,630. These, too, are the latest returns.

[14] 'Report of the Childers Commission,' p. 72. I cite also the following
from the Report, p. 43: 'The income-tax figures are, perhaps, the best and
most complete test of the comparative growth of the wealth of the two
countries. Taking the two years, 1854 and 1892, we find that the net
assessment for Great Britain was, in 1854, £245,389,931; and in 1892,
£570,971,740. The net assessment for Ireland was, in 1854, £21,334,448;
and in 1892, £26,851,585. In these thirty-eight years the net assessment
for Great Britain is more than two and a third times as great as it was in
1854, whilst that for Ireland has only increased by one quarter. Put in
percentage form, the figures are still more striking: In 1854 Great
Britain was assessed at 92 per cent. of the whole; Ireland 8 per cent. In
1892 Great Britain was assessed at 95.50 per cent, of the whole; Ireland
4.50 per cent. In other words, Ireland's assessment was to that of Great
Britain as 1 to 11 in 1854, and as 1 to 21 in 1892.'

[15] See on this subject the true and indignant remarks of Mr. Lecky,
'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. pp. 27, 28.

[16] The tone of disaffected opinion in Ireland can only be thoroughly
understood by a careful study of the conduct and the language of
'Nationalist' leaders. I select a few specimens out of hundreds of
instances. Mr. William O'Brien, the Corypheus of the United Irish League,
spake thus at Letterkenny in January, 1900: 'If ten thousand Frenchmen, or
Russians, or Germans were to land in Bantry Bay, with a supply of arms for
the people, they would walk over the country and drive the English
garrison into the sea.' The same worthy exclaimed at a monster meeting in
Dublin in September, 'English rule in Ireland was so bad that they would
be justified in chasing the English out of Ireland bag and baggage. What
was wanting to them, unfortunately, were the guns and artillery to do it.'
Mr. Michael Davitt, of Land League renown, speaking in the Queen's County
about the same time, said, 'England is unquestionably the greatest empire
of liars (loud cheers and laughter), of hypocrites, and of poltroons,
judged by its achievements in South Africa, that has ever postured before
mankind with a civilising mission.' Because the Corporation of Dublin
voted, by a small majority, an address to Queen Victoria when she paid her
last visit to Ireland, Mr. John Redmond, the chairman of the 'Irish
Parliamentary Party,' said, in January, 1901, 'It rests with the people
themselves to say whether they will redeem the reputation of Dublin from
the stain that has been cast on it.' So Mr. John Dillon, M.P., spoke in
the same sense, a few months ago, 'The voice of the capital will be the
voice of the rest of Ireland (applause), that we will not tolerate in this
old city that new type of politics which thinks it consistent with Irish
nationality to cringe and crouch before a foreign queen.' At least two
County Councils in Ireland, and more than one Local Board, refused to vote
an expression of condolence when the Queen died. It is painful to contrast
these sentiments with the loyalty of O'Connell when the Queen ascended the
throne.

[17] Since the above lines were written, there has been a serious outbreak
of agrarian crime in Ireland in the form of incendiary fires, which may be
distinctly traced to the operations of the United Irish League.

[18] Speech in the House of Commons, February 19, 1844.

[19] The figures were 1,238,342 against 1,316,327: Dicey, 'England's Case
against Home Rule,' p. 35.

[20] Butt maintained, in his place in Parliament (Hansard, March 20,
1874), that this was the true import of his project.

[21] Speech on receiving the freedom of Aberdeen, September 26, 1871.

[22] See Mr. Gladstone's 'History of an Idea,' an apology for his attitude
towards Home Rule at this time, which seems to me to be his condemnation.

[23] For an admirable analysis of the Bill, see Dicey's 'England's Case
against Home Rule,' pp. 223-273. The text of the Bill will be found in the
Appendix to this volume.

[24] For a full statement of Mr. Gladstone's 'conditions,' see his speech
in the House of Commons, April 8, 1886.

[25] 'Reflections on the Revolution in France,' vol. i. p. 384, ed. 1834.

[26] Report of the Special Commission, vol. iv. p. 542.

[27] 'The Queen's Enemies in America,' p. 24.

[28] For a scathing condemnation of Mr. Gladstone's public conduct in
these years, see several great speeches of Lord Hartington and Mr.
Goschen. See also 'The Memoirs of Lord Selborne,' Part II. vol. ii. pp.
261, _et seq._, and note in Appendix to this volume. See, too, Dicey's
'Leap in the Dark,' p. 190. Lord Selborne's sketch of Mr. Gladstone's
character as a statesman, 'Memoirs,' Part II. vol. ii. pp. 339-359,
deserves careful study. Mr. Lecky's admirable account, 'Democracy and
Liberty,' introduction to vol. i., second edition, is well known.

[29] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. pp. 544, 545. See the note at the end
of this volume in the Appendix.

[30] For a very able analysis of and commentary on the Bill of 1893, see
Professor Dicey's 'Leap in the Dark.' For the text of the Bill, see the
Appendix to this volume.

[31] Dicey's 'Leap in the Dark,' p. 57.

[32] 'England's Case against Home Rule,' p. 168.

[33] The German Empire, in which Prussia is the leading State, may seem an
example to the contrary; but the German Empire is hardly a Federation
properly so called; it is a great military monarchy ruling subject
kingdoms.

[34] I feel obliged to refer to these authorities; not in order to stir up
resentment against England in Ireland, but to point out a most important,
if unfortunate, fact in the relations between the two countries. Swift, in
his 'View of the State of Ireland,' Works, vol. ii. 8vo ed. 1890, says,
'We are in the condition of patients, who have physic sent them by doctors
at a distance, strangers to their constitution and the nature of the
disease.' Burke, 'Correspondence,' vol. iii. p. 438, has remarked, 'I have
never known any of the successive Governments of my time influenced by any
other feeling relative to Ireland than the wish that they should hear of
it and of its concerns as little as possible.' So Grattan, cited by Mr.
Lecky, vol. vii. p. 108, exclaimed, 'It is a matter of melancholy
reflection to consider how little the Cabinet knows of anything relating
to Ireland. Ireland is a subject it considers with a lazy contumely, and
picks up here and there, by accident or design, interested and erroneous
intelligence.' I quote this passage from one of the speeches of Lord
Clare: 'The people of England know less of this country than of any other
nation in Europe;' and this passage from one of the speeches of O'Connell:
'We are governed by foreigners; foreigners make our laws.... As to
Ireland, the Imperial Parliament has the additional disadvantage springing
from want of interest and total ignorance. I do not exaggerate; the
ministers are in total ignorance of this country.' This want of knowledge
of Ireland, too often associated with indifference, has, I repeat, been
distinctly made manifest of late years.

[35] These figures are taken from the Irish census of 1891. By the census
of 1901, the population of Antrim and Down has increased, and that of
every other county in Ireland, except Dublin, has declined. The
over-representation of Ireland has thus become more than ever an unjust
anomaly.

[36] For an admirable account of the ancient land system of Celtic
Ireland, see Maine's 'Early History of Institutions.' I may be allowed to
refer to an article on this work, from my pen, in the _Edinburgh Review_
of July, 1875, and to the first chapter of my 'History of Ireland,' in the
Cambridge 'Historical Series.'

[37] In the case of this, as of all the chapters, a list of the principal
authorities and sources of information will be found in the preface to
this book. For the conquest and confiscations of the Irish land, from the
Norman Conquest to the end of the reign of William III., see 'The Statute
of Kilkenny,' edited by James Hardiman; 'The Discoverie of Sir John
Davies;' 'The Carew Papers,' edited by J. S. Brewer and William Bullen;
Spenser's 'View of the State of Ireland;' Holingshead's 'Chronicles of
Ireland;' Carte's 'Life of Ormond;' Lord Clanricarde's 'Memoirs;' Sir
William Petty's 'Political Anatomy of Ireland;' 'Macariæ Excidium;' and
King's 'State of the Protestants of Ireland.' As regards modern
authorities, numerous, and some very valuable, the reader may be referred
to Froude's 'History of England,' vol. ii. ch. viii.; vol. v. ch. xxviii.;
vol. viii. chs. vii., xi.; vol. x. ch. xxiv.; vol. xi. ch. xxvii.; to Mr.
Lecky's 'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' vol. ii. ch. vi.;
and to the Irish chapters in Mr. Gardiner's 'History of England,' from the
Accession of James I. to the outbreak of the Civil War; to his 'History of
the Great Civil War,' vol. i. chs. vi., xi.; vol. ii. chs. xxvii.,
xxxvii., xliv.; and to the Irish chapters of his 'History of the
Commonwealth and Protectorate.' Other modern works on the subject are
Sigerson's 'History of Land Tenure in Ireland;' 'An Historical Account of
the Plantation of Ulster,' by the Rev. George Hill; 'The Cromwellian
Settlement of Ireland,' by John P. Prendergast; and the 'Life of Sir
William Petty,' by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice. See a review by me of this
last work in the _Edinburgh Review_ of July, 1895; and also chs. iii.,
iv., and v. of my 'History of Ireland, 1494-1868,' referred to before.
There are innumerable minor authorities; and Hallam's 'Chapter on
Ireland,' vol. iii., may be studied.

[38] 'Letter to Sir Hercules Langriche:' 'Works,' vol. i. p. 560, ed.
1834.

[39] For an account of the penal laws of Ireland, see Vincent Scully on
'The Irish Penal Laws;' Howard's 'Popery Laws;' and Burke's 'Tracts on the
Popery Laws,' a short but masterly work.

[40] For the state of Ireland and of the Irish land at this period, see
the Irish Statute Book from 1700 to about 1750, and especially the
writings of Swift and Berkeley on Irish affairs. Swift, however, is not
just to the Irish landed gentry, many as were their faults. See also the
'Letters' of Archbishop Boulter, the virtual ruler of Ireland during a
series of years, and of Archbishop Synge. Reference, too, may be made to
Molyneux's 'Case of Ireland,' and to Hutchinson's and Caldwell's
'Restraints on the Trade of Ireland.' For modern authorities, consult
Lecky's 'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' vol. ii. ch. vii.;
vol. iv. chs. xvi., xvii. Froude's 'English in Ireland' is very inaccurate
and one-sided for this period; but his fine romance, the 'Two Chiefs of
Dunboy,' contains a brilliant, and, in the main, a true account of the
state of Irish social life in those days.

[41] By far the best account of the state of Ireland, at this period, is
to be found in the celebrated 'Tour' of Arthur Young, who wrote in
1776-78. See also Mr. Lecky's 'History of England in the Eighteenth
Century,' vol. vi. chs. xxiv., xxv.; vol. vii. ch. xxvii. The 'Irlande,
Sociale, Politique, et Religieuse' of Gustave de Beaumont may also be
consulted; but though a very able work, it is that of a democratic
doctrinaire. For the Whiteboy movements, see the Irish Statute Book, and
Sir George Lewis on 'Irish Disturbances.'

[42] See Burke's 'Tracts on the Popery Laws,' vol. ii. pp. 445, 446.
Arthur Young, too, often dwells on this subject.

[43] For an account of this period nothing can be compared to Mr. Lecky's
'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' vols. vii., viii. These
contain all the information that can be obtained, collected from every
available source. I may refer to my 'Ireland, 1798-1898,' chs. i., ii.

[44] There is no complete history of Ireland from the Union to the present
time, though the materials for such a work are abundant. I may refer to my
'Ireland, 1798-1898,' from the second chapter to the end. An excellent and
elaborate description of Ireland from 1800 to 1812 will be found in the
volumes of Edward Wakefield.

[45] The best account of this period--the forerunner of one even more
calamitous--will be found in the proceedings of a Parliamentary Committee
on the state of Ireland in 1824-25, and in the mass of evidence collected
by it. The evidence of O'Connell is full of interest.

[46] I perfectly recollect, though quite a boy, this strong and widespread
expression of sentiment.

[47] Mitchel's 'History of Ireland,' vol. ii. p. 213. Mitchel was a rebel,
but an honourable man, superior to the falsehoods disseminated by later
agitators against Irish landlords.

[48] Every one acquainted with the history of Irish titles, from about
1790 to 1820, knows that this was the case.

[49] 'Clarendon,' wrote Greville, 'told me he expected the Encumbered
Estates Act would prove the regeneration of Ireland.'

[50] That great lawyer, Lord St. Leonards, protested. He had been Lord
Chancellor of Ireland.

[51] For the state of Ireland during the Famine and the years that
followed, see 'The Irish Crisis,' by Sir Charles Trevelyan, reprinted from
the _Edinburgh Review_; and the 'Letters' of Mr. Campbell Foster, the
Commissioner of the _Times_. Valuable information will also be found in
the Greville 'Memoirs,' vols. v., vi. I may refer to my 'Ireland,
1798-1898,' chs. v. and part of vi.

[52] For an account of these machinations of party, see Greville,
'Memoirs,' vol. vii. p. 33.

[53] I heard several of these most injudicious and ill-informed
expressions of a false opinion.

[54] For the state of Ireland from the end of the Famine to 1868,
reference may be made to 'Two Centuries of Irish History,' edited by Mr.
Bryce; to the Greville 'Memoirs,' vols. vii. and viii.; to Greville's
'Policy of England towards Ireland;' to the 'Recollections and Suggestions
of Earl Russell;' to parts of the 'Life of Lord Palmerston;' to 'Journals,
Conversations, and Essays relating to Ireland,' by Nassau Senior; to the
'Young Ireland,' the 'Four Years of Irish History,' and 'The League of the
North and South,' by Sir C. G. Duffy; to the 'New Ireland' of Mr. A. M.
Sullivan; and to the 'Parnell Movement' of Mr. T. P. O'Connor. Valuable
information as to this period will also be found in Mr. Barry O'Brien's
works, 'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland' and 'Irish Wrongs and
English Remedies;' and there are many other authorities. This period is
dealt with in my 'Ireland, 1798-1898.' ch. vi.

[55] From the mass of literature on this subject reference may especially
be made to 'The Irish Land,' by the late Sir George Campbell; Judge
Longfield's essay in 'Systems of Land Tenure;' the 'Irish Land and the
Irish People,' by Butt; and the 'Ireland, Industrial, Political, and
Social,' of the late Mr. J. N. Murphy. As Special Commissioner of the
_Times_, I went into the Irish land question at length on the spot; and it
would be affectation to deny that my letters, since republished,
powerfully contributed to the legislation which ere long followed. See,
for further information, 'The Irish Land Question' of John Stuart Mill;
'Emigration and the Tenure of Irish Land,' by Lord Dufferin; 'The New
Ireland' of the late Mr. A. M. Sullivan; parts of Mr. Barry O'Brien's
'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland'; 'Ireland in 1868,' by the late
Mr. G. Fitzgibbon, a Master of the Court of Chancery in Ireland; and Mr.
Lecky's 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. ch. ii.

[56] This fact has been established by conclusive and impartial evidence,
which hardly admits of question. It should be steadily kept in the
reader's mind; for an idea, largely countenanced by iniquitous legislation
badly administered, has prevailed of late years, that rack-renting in
Ireland was common, nay, general. Exactly the contrary has been the case
during the last half century. Butt, in his 'The Irish People and the Irish
Land,' published in 1867, hardly alludes to over-renting; he properly
dwells on the insecurity of Irish land tenure. Master Fitzgibbon, a great
authority on the subject, in his 'Ireland in 1868,' p. 268, pointedly
remarked, '452 estates are under my jurisdiction, in the Court of
Chancery, the rents of which amount to £330,809, paid by 18,287 tenants. I
have been now nearly eight years in office, during which time the rents
have been paid without murmuring or complaint worth noticing.... It is
well known that my ears are open to any just complaint from any tenant.'
The testimony of Judge Longfield, another great authority, is nearly to
the same effect. In 'Systems of Land Tenure,' published in 1870, he wrote
thus (p. 21): 'This complaint of high rents has been made without ceasing
for more than three hundred years. There was never less ground for it than
at the present day, although in some instances the rent demanded is still
too high; but this chiefly occurs where the landlords are middlemen, or
where the property is very small.' These views are fully confirmed by
evidence of a later period, to which I shall refer. I may add that, in
1869, I examined the rentals of many scores of Irish estates, and was
convinced that over-renting was very rare. See my 'Letters on the Land
Question of Ireland,' republished from the _Times_, _passim_. I quote a
single instance, from many to the same purpose (p. 221): 'It may be
asserted, too, without fear of contradiction, that if in some districts
rents are too high, they are not so as a general rule.' I have managed an
Irish estate for upwards of fifty years, and have some claim to be an
agricultural expert.

[57] For the characteristics of the Ulster tenant right, see Butt's
'Landlord and Tenant Act, 1870,' ch. xv. pp. 296-310. As to the legal
authorities on the subject, reference may be made to the learned treatise
of Messrs. Cherry and Wakley, 'The Irish Land Law and Land Purchase Acts,'
pp. 150-152. A popular account of the Ulster custom will be found in my
'Letters on the Land Question of Ireland,' pp. 242-247, and a more
technical account in a legal treatise from my pen on the Land Act of 1870,
pp. 30-56. The best definition I have seen of the right is one made by the
late P. J. Blake, Q.C., C.C.J. of a northern county, 'Cherry and Wakley,'
p. 150: 'The right or custom in general of yearly tenants, or those
deriving through them, to continue in undisturbed possession so long as
they act properly as tenants and pay their rents. The correlative right of
the landlord periodically to raise the rent, so as to give him a just,
fair, and full participation in the increased value of the land, but not
so as to extinguish the tenant's interest by paying a rack rent. The usage
or custom of the yearly tenants to sell their interest, if they do not
wish to continue in possession, or if they become unable to pay the rent.
The correlative right of the landlord to be consulted, and to exercise a
potential voice in the approval or disapproval of the proposed assignee.'

[58] I quote a few passages from the speeches of Mr. Gladstone, and
others, on this subject. Mr. Gladstone said, March 11, 1870, 'If you value
rents you may as well, for every available purpose, adopt perpetuity of
tenure at once. It is perpetuity of tenure only in a certain disguise....
The man who becomes a mere annuitant loses all general interest in the
prosperity of the land.' And again, February 15, 1870: 'Perpetuity of
tenure on the part of the occupier is virtually expropriation of the
landlord.... The mere readjustment of rent can by no means dispose of all
contingencies the future may produce in his favour.' Sir Roundell Palmer,
afterwards Lord Selborne, said, March 10, 1870, 'Fixity of tenure, in
plain English, means taking away the property of one man and giving it to
another.' So Lord Granville, June 14, 1870, said in the House of Lords,
'They might have introduced a Bill--which they were determined not to
do--adopting fixity of tenure, taking away his property from the landlord,
and establishing a valuation rent.' Passages of this kind, at least as
strong, might be multiplied a hundred-fold.

[59] It is impossible, in a sketch like this, to describe in detail the
agrarian legislation for Ireland, which Parliament has enacted from 1870
to this time. The work of Butt referred to before is an admirable
commentary on the Bill of 1870, which soon became law. A brief account of
all this legislation will be found in Mr. Lecky's 'Democracy and Liberty,'
vol. i. ch. ii. The legal treatises of Messrs. Cherry and Wakley, pp.
149-448, and of Mr. Justice Barton, are elaborate and complete.

[60] Judge Longfield and Mr. Lecky are much the most distinguished of
these numerous censors.

[61] By this time I was an Irish County Court Judge; and I had some
experience of reprehensible acts of this kind, extremely few as they were.

[62] It is very remarkable that the stringent provisions of the Act
against exorbitant rents seem to have been almost unknown to the
peasantry, though exorbitant rents were, no doubt, existing here and
there.

[63] Report of the Judges of the Special Commission, vol. iv. pp. 478-480.

[64] By many degrees the best account of the Land League movement will be
found in the 'Report of the Proceedings of the Special Commission of
1888-89,' republished by the _Times_ in four volumes. Reference may also
be made to 'Parnellism and Crime,' a series of essays in the _Times_; to
the 'Truth about the Land League,' by Mr. Arnold Foster; to 'The
Continuity of the Irish Revolutionary Movement,' by Professor Brougham
Leech; and to a pamphlet called 'The Queen's Enemies in America.' A kind
of apology for the conspiracy will be found in 'The Parnell Movement,' by
Mr. T. P. O'Connor, M.P.; but the Irish 'Nationalists' have judiciously
been reticent on the subject. I may refer to my 'Ireland, 1798-1898,' ch.
viii.

[65] These infamous speeches, worthy of Marat and Hébert, were continued
for years, and fill a large part of the evidence in the proceedings of the
Special Commission. I select a sample or two taken at random. Mr. M.
Harris said, 'If the tenant farmers of Ireland shoot down landlords as
partridges are shot in September, Mat Harris would never say a word
against them' (vol. ii. p. 38). The same worthy, afterwards an M.P.,
exclaimed on another occasion (vol. i. p. 26), 'Mrs. Blake of Keenoyle is
no better than a she-devil.... Mr. Robinson called the people of Connemara
vermin; the people of Connemara ought to treat him as vermin. Leonard of
Tuam I will say nothing about. I will denounce him at his own door.' So,
too, a Mr. Boyton said (vol. iv. p. 277), 'We have seen plenty of them,
landlords and agents, that deserve to be shot at any man's hand. I have
always denounced the commission of outrages by night, but meet him in the
broad daylight, and if you must blow his brains out, blow them out in the
daytime.' Multiply such speeches addressed to an excitable peasantry, and
the results which followed can easily be understood.

[66] This has been established by conclusive evidence, and should be
carefully borne in mind. Mr. Egan, one of the treasurers of the League,
said, 'On my own behalf, and on behalf of my friends of the League, both
in prison and outside, I can say that we regard the land question only in
the light of a step towards national independence, which is, and shall
continue to be, the goal of all our efforts.' Mr. Healy, M.P., said, 'This
is a movement to win back from England the land of Ireland, which was
robbed from the people by the confiscating armies of Elizabeth and
Cromwell.... But I would remind you that Mr. Parnell ... explained the
basis of the movement when he told the Galway farmers that he would never
have taken off his coat in this movement were it not with Irish
nationality as its object.' Parnell occasionally let out the truth; he
said, 'Let every farmer, while he keeps a firm grip of his holding,
recognise also the great truth that he is serving his country and the
people at large, and helping to break down English misrule in Ireland'
(Report of the Proceedings of the Special Commission, vol. iv. pp. 203,
204). These speeches were, in hundreds, imitated and followed by other
speakers.

[67] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 486.

[68] I was at this time judge of the County Kerry; these demands increased
more than twofold at a single Quarter Sessions.

[69] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. pp. 522-525.

[70] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 522.

[71] Some of the cynical and wicked utterances of Parnell in proclaiming
and expounding the new policy of 'boycotting' must be quoted. These, it is
needless to say, were exaggerated in scores of speeches by orators of the
League. In view almost of the corpse of a land agent who had been foully
murdered, the arch-conspirator coolly remarked (Proceedings of the Special
Commission, vol. iv. p. 257): 'I had wished in referring to a sad
occurrence which took place lately, the shooting or attempted shooting of
a land agent in the neighbourhood (uproar)--I had wished to point out that
recourse to such measures of procedure is entirely unnecessary and
absolutely prejudicial where there is a suitable organisation amongst the
tenants themselves.' The methods to be adopted in 'boycotting'--the word
was so named from a Captain Boycott, who was one of the first
sufferers--were those set forth by Parnell (Report of the Judges, vol. iv.
p. 498): 'Now, what are you to do to a tenant who bids for a farm from
which his neighbour has been evicted? (Various shouts, among which, "Kill
him!" "Shoot him!") Now, I think I heard somebody say "Shoot him" ("Shoot
him!"); but I wish to point out to you a very much better way, a more
Christian and charitable way, which will give the lost sinner an
opportunity of repenting. (Hear, hear.) When a man takes a farm from which
another has been evicted, you must show[A] him on the roadside when you
meet him, you must show him in the streets of the town, you must show him
at the shop counter, you must show him in the fair and in the
market-place, and even in the house of worship, by leaving him severely
alone, by putting him into a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the
rest of his kind as if he was a leper of old. You must show him your
detestation of the crime he has committed, and you may depend upon it, if
the population of a county in Ireland carry out this doctrine, that there
will be no man so full of avarice, so lost to shame, as to dare the public
opinion of all right-thinking men within the county, and to transgress
your unwritten code of laws.'

    [A] In other, possibly more correct, reports, the word is 'shun,' not
    'show.'

[72] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 522.

[73] It is very important to bear this in mind, regard being had to the
circumstances of the time, which have been shamefully misrepresented, and
to subsequent legislation and its administration. I quote a few words from
the Report, p. 3: 'It was unusual in Ireland to exact what in England
would have been considered as a full or fair commercial rent. Such a rent
over many of the larger estates, the owners of which were resident, and
took an interest in the welfare of their tenants, it has never been the
custom to demand. The example has been largely followed, and is, to the
present day, rather the rule than the exception in Ireland.' M. de
Molinari, a very competent foreign observer, wrote to the same effect in
1881: 'Le taux général des rentes est modéré; autant que j'ai pu en juger,
il est à qualité égale de terrain de moitié plus bas que celui des terres
des Flandres' ('L'Irlande, le Canada, Jersey,' p. 138). See for further
authorities, Mr. Lecky's 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. p. 179.

[74] Mr. Gladstone, speeches in the House of Commons, July 22, 1881, and
May 10, 1881. Lord Carlingford, and notably Lord Selborne, said nearly the
same.

[75] This I know to be the fact on the very best authority.

[76] A good popular account of the law of 1881 will be found in Mr.
Lecky's 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. pp. 182-197. See for an elaborate
and technical description, 'Cherry and Wakley,' pp. 217-343.

[77] 'Systems of Land Tenure,' p. 59.

[78] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 522.

[79] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 532: 'We consider that the National
League, like the Ladies' Land League, was substantially the old Land
League under another name.'

[80] I quote a few words from hundreds of these detestable writings, which
should be studied. Mr. William O'Brien, the editor of one of Parnell's
newspapers, and now the leader of the 'United Irish League,' published
this in _United Ireland_, April 18, 1885: 'It would be still more
gratifying if the Irish millions, scattered over the globe, should wake up
one of these mornings to hear the war chimes joyfully ringing the
declaration that would drive England on to downfall and destruction.' And
again, September 19, 1885: 'We cannot fight England in the open. We can
keep her in hot water. We cannot evict our rulers neck and crop. We can
make their rule more insupportable for them than for us.... It is no fault
of ours if we cannot organise Waterloos to decide our quarrels.' As to
personalities, I quote two passages. December 15, 1883: 'Monstrous and
incredible, surely, six hundred Irish gentlemen could not eat their dinner
without pouring out libations to the adoration of an old lady who is only
known in Ireland by her scarcely decently disguised hatred of this
country, and by the inordinate amount of her salary.' Again, June 13,
1885: 'With all the stubborn force of a cruel, narrow, dogged nature, Lord
Spencer struck murderous blow after blow at the people under his rod. He
stopped at nothing; not at subsidising red-handed murderers, not at
knighting jury-packers, not at sheltering black official villainy with a
coat of darkness, not at police quarterings, blood taxes, the bludgeoning
of peaceful meetings, the clapping of handcuffs and convict jackets on
M.P.'s, mayors, and editors, not at wholesale battues of hangings and
transportations by hook or crook.'

[81] Report of the Judges, vol. iv. p. 522. Mr. Gladstone in the House of
Commons, April 8, 1886.

[82] For an elaborate account of the Act of 1887, see 'Cherry and Wakley,'
pp. 367-420. Reference, too, may be made to Mr. Lecky's 'Democracy and
Liberty,' vol. i. pp. 198-200.

[83] For an account of this legislation, which has not received the
attention it deserves, as it is limited in its scope, see 'Cherry and
Wakley,' pp. 468-472, and 'Barton,' pp. 104-106.

[84] Upwards of thirty years ago, when the question of compensating Irish
tenants for their improvements was coming fully to the front, a wealthy
middleman, who held a large demesne in perpetuity, at a rather high rent,
and had built a valuable mansion on it, in addition to planting hundreds
of acres of woodland, asked me 'if I thought Parliament would compensate
him, for, in that case, he could make his landlord pay him £30,000.' My
reply was that 'Parliament would not be so insane.' I should be sorry to
make such a reply now, having regard to recent legislation.

[85] I believe I may claim some credit for having contributed to this
provision. I had had large experience of the injustice of keeping tenants
subject to long-standing arrears; and, as a judge, had taken strong
measures to prevent and defeat the practice.

[86] For an elaborate account of the Act which was the result of this
Bill, see the work of Mr. Justice Barton, 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act,
1896.'

[87] 'Letter to a Member of the National Assembly,' vol. i. p. 478.

[88] A Committee of the House of Lords sate, in 1872, to consider the
administration of the Land Act of 1870. The report and the evidence were,
in the main, in favour of the judges.

[89] Rushe _v._ Whitney, Roscommon Quarter Sessions, October, 1895.

[90] Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords, August 1, 1881: 'They are all
three strong Liberals, with strong views of tenant right.... There is no
doubt that all three are appointed with a strong prepossession in favour
of views which are advocated by the representatives of the tenantry in
Ireland, and which are deprecated by the landlords.... It is not the
relegation of landlord and tenant to an impartial tribunal.'

[91] Mr. Gladstone, July 22, 1881: 'I shall be bitterly disappointed with
the operation of the Act if the property of the landlords of Ireland does
not come to be worth more than twenty years' purchase on the judicial
rent.' Mr. W. E. Forster, same date: 'I think the final result of the
measure will be, within a few years, that the landowners of Ireland, small
and large, will be better off than they are at this moment.' Lord
Carlingford, August 1, 1881: 'My Lords, I maintain that the provisions of
this Bill will cause the landlords no money loss whatever. I believe that
it will inflict upon them no loss of income, except in those cases in
which a certain number of landlords may have imposed upon their tenants
excessive and inequitable rents.'

[92] Hansard, vol. 260, p. 1399.

[93] The nature and character of these two classes of evidence has been
thus well described in the Report of the Edward Fry's Commission, p. 18:
'If the matter were perfectly open, it appears to us that two independent
lines of evidence might be pursued by a person inquiring what is the fair
rent to be fixed for a holding. One class of evidence may for shortness be
called the popular evidence; the other the technical. The popular evidence
would comprise the prices obtained by the tenant for a sale of his
interest or _bonâ fide_ offers which he had received for it, evidence of
the letting value or judicial rents of similar holdings, evidence of the
sums paid for conacre or agistment, evidence of the long and punctual
payment of a real rent, or of the long arrears of a nominal rent, and
evidence of the prosperity or poverty of the persons who had successively
lived off the produce of the holding. The technical evidence would be that
more familiar to professional valuators. They would inspect the land,
ascertain the acreages of the different classes of land on the farm, and
what they would produce or carry; they would consider the quantity and
value of the produce and the cost of production, and the shares of the
surplus remaining after the cost of production divisible between landlord
and tenant respectively. The popular evidence would be affected by all the
motives which make men in Ireland desirous to occupy land; the technical
evidence would assume the desire of making a money profit out of the
occupation of land as the sole motive of such occupation. The eighth
section of the Act of 1881 seems to admit of both lines of evidence with a
single exception. It provided that in fixing the fair rent consideration
should be given not to some but to all the circumstances of the case, the
holding and the district, with the single exception that (sub-sec. 10) the
price paid for the tenancy otherwise than to the landlord or his
predecessors was not of itself, apart from other considerations, to be
taken into account; though, conjoined with other considerations, it still
remains admissible.'

[94] Report of the Fry Commission, p. 13.

[95] Ibid., p. 14: 'Some specific charges of misconduct or negligence have
been made against lay Assistant Commissioners and Court valuers; as _e.g._
visiting the land without due notice to the landlord; visiting the holding
when lying under snow or water, or when suffering from prolonged drought,
and refusing to wait whilst a trench was dug to show the condition of the
alleged drainage. We have investigated many of these cases, and the
explanations given have generally been satisfactory to us.'

[96] Evidence taken by Mr. Morley's Commission on the Irish Land Acts, p.
236.

[97] Ibid., p. 397.

[98] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 131.

[99] Ibid., p. 208.

[100] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission: Mr. Campbell, p. 41.

[101] Ibid., p. 682.

[102] 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. pp. 205, 206.

[103] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 692. As a County Court
judge I have a concurrent jurisdiction, happily seldom exercised, in
fixing 'fair rents.' I had a somewhat similar case before me some
seventeen or eighteen years ago, and I adjourned the hearing for four
years to allow the land to recover. I believe I am the only official who
did anything of the kind until quite recently.

[104] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 836.

[105] Evidence taken by the Morley Commission, 1894-95, p. 333.

[106] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 952.

[107] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 607. The procedure of the
Sub-Commissions has, since 1896, been somewhat improved with respect to
deterioration and waste, but many years too late.

[108] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 677.

[109] Ibid., p. 842.

[110] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, pp. 478, 476.

[111] Ibid., p. 476.

[112] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 129.

[113] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 339.

[114] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission: Mr. Campbell, p. 25.

[115] Mr. Vernon, the Lay Commissioner, was, of course, not responsible
for this.

[116] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 156.

[117] Ibid., p. 615.

[118] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 33.

[119] Ibid., p. 30.

[120] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission: Mr. Campbell, p. 30.

[121] Report of the Fry Commission, p. 18. I entirely dissent from the
above opinion of the head Commissioner.

[122] Evidence taken by the Morley Commission, p. 507.

[123] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 461.

[124] Ibid., p. 616.

[125] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 628.

[126] Ibid., p. 631.

[127] Ibid., p. 941.

[128] Report of the Fry Commission, p. 22.

[129] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, p. 676.

[130] Report of the Fry Commission, p. 20.

[131] Ibid., p. 21.

[132] Ibid., p. 9.

[133] Ibid., p. 14.

[134] Report of the Fry Commission, pp. 18, 19.

[135] Ibid., pp. 12-26.

[136] Ibid., p. 15.

[137] Report of the Irish Land Commission to March, 1900, p. 64.

[138] It is but just to the Land Commission to state that the reductions
of rent made by the County Courts were somewhat higher than those it made.
But this was notoriously because rack-rented tenants, for the sake of
expedition, rushed first to these tribunals.

[139] Report of the Irish Land Commission, p. 64.

[140] Report of the Irish Land Commission, p. 3.

[141] See a remarkable instance in the Evidence taken by the Fry
Commission, p. 683: 'The holding was let in 1771 at 30_s._ the Irish acre,
equal to about £1 per statute acre. The Sub-Commissioners have now cut it
down to less than 12_s._ 6_d._ per acre.'

[142] Evidence taken by the Fry Commission, pp. 496, 609, 670.

[143] 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. i. pp. 202, 203.

[144] Letters to the _Manchester Guardian_, written in 1890, and since
republished. This little work was much noticed at the time; attempts to
answer it were made to no purpose. The facts now speak for themselves.

[145] Swift's 'Works,' vol. ii. p. 82, ed. 1870.

[146] 'Reflections on the Revolution in France,' vol. i. p. 440.

[147] The _Manchester Guardian_, 1890. I quote this passage, for I think
its substance was referred to by the late Mr. Rathbone, member for
Liverpool.

[148] Mr. Lecky, 'Democracy and Liberty,' vol. ii. pp. 487-489, rather
favours the policy of creating and extending peasant ownership in Ireland,
and, to a certain extent, approves of the so-called 'Land Purchase' Acts,
but only as a doubtful experiment, to endeavour to escape from a
hopelessly bad land system. The distinguished historian and thinker, in my
opinion, is not sufficiently alive to the iniquity of these measures as
they affect landlords who wish to retain their estates, or, rather, what
remains of them; but he clearly perceives some of the objections to this
vicious legislation. I quote his remarks at some length: 'In Ireland, as
is well known, great efforts are made to create such a proprietary; but
the conditions of Ireland are unlike those of any other part of the
civilised globe. It has been the deliberate policy of the Government to
break down, by almost annual Acts, the obligation of contracts, and the
existing ownership of land has been rendered so insecure, the political
power attached to it has been so effectually destroyed, and the influences
tending to anarchy and confiscation have been made so powerful, that most
good judges have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to force into
existence by strong legislative measures a new social type, which may,
perhaps, possess some elements of stability and conservatism. In order to
effect this object, the national credit has been made use of in such a way
that a tenant is enabled to purchase his farm without making the smallest
sacrifice for that object, the whole sum being advanced by the Government,
and advanced on such terms that the tenant is only obliged to pay for a
limited number of years a sum from 20 to 30 per cent. less than his
present rent. In other words, a man whose rent has been fixed by the Land
Court at £100 a year, can purchase his farm by paying, instead of that
sum, £70 or £80 a year for forty-nine years. The arrangement sounds more
like burlesque than serious legislation; but the belief that political
pressure can obtain still better terms for the tenant, and that further
confiscatory legislation may still more depreciate the value of land to
the owner who has inherited it, or purchased it in the open market, has
taken such deep root in Ireland that the tenants have shown little
alacrity to avail themselves of their new privilege. What may be the
ultimate issue of the attempt to govern a country in complete defiance of
all received economical principles remains to be seen. The future must
show whether a large peasant proprietary can be not only called into
existence, but permanently maintained, under these conditions, and whether
it will prove the loyal and conservative element that English politicians
believe. According to all past experience, peasant proprietors rarely
succeed, except when they possess something more than an average measure
of industrial qualities, and the Irish purchase laws give no preference to
the energetic, the industrious, and the thrifty. On the contrary, it is
very often the farmer who is on the verge of bankruptcy who is most eager
to buy, in order to reduce his annual charge. The tendency of the new
proprietors to mortgage, to sublet, and to subdivide, is already manifest,
and some of the best judges of Irish affairs, who look beyond the present
generation, are very despondent about the future. They believe that a
peasant proprietary, called into existence suddenly and artificially, with
no discrimination in favour of the better class, in a country where
industrial qualities are very low, and where the strongest wish of the
farmer is either to divide his farm among his children, or to burden it
with equal mortgages for their benefit, must eventually lead to economic
ruin, to fatal subdivision, to crushing charges on land. The new policy
must also, they contend, almost wholly withdraw from the country life,
where it is peculiarly needed, the civilising and guiding influence of a
resident gentry. Whether or not these apprehensions are exaggerated time
only can show. Two predictions may, I think, with some confidence be made.
The one is, that the transformation is likely to be most successful if it
is gradually effected. The other is, that a great part of the influence
once possessed by the landlord will, under the new conditions, pass to the
money-lender.'

[149] I quote these remarks of Burke, a striking instance of his political
wisdom ('Tracts on the Popery Laws,' vol. ii. p. 446): 'It is on this
principle (to get rid of short and unprofitable tenures) that the Romans
established their _emphyteusis_, or fee-farm. For though they extended the
ordinary term of their creation to nine years only, yet they encouraged a
more permanent letting to farm, with the condition of improvement, as well
as of annual payment where the land had lain rough and neglected.' So John
Stuart Mill ('Irish Land Question,' p. 31, ed. 1870): 'The idea of
property does not, however, necessarily imply that there should be no
rent, any more than that there should be no taxes. It merely implies that
the rent should be a fixed charge, not liable to be raised against the
farmer by his own improvements, or by the will of a landlord. A tenant at
a quit rent is, to all intents and purposes, a proprietor; a copyholder is
not less so than a freeholder. What is wanted is permanent possession on
fixed terms.' Mr. Morley said not long ago, in his place in Parliament,
that, as things now stand in Ireland, the landlord must become a
rent-charger and the tenant a copyholder, a true utterance.

[150] 'Principles of Political Economy,' book ii. chap. ii. p. 6. I may
refer, too, to these pregnant remarks of Bentham ('Theory of Legislation,'
chap, xv.): 'The principle of security requires that reform should be
attended with complete indemnity.... I cannot yet quit the subject, for
the establishment of the principle of security demands that error should
be pursued in all its retreats.... The interest of individuals, it is
said, ought to yield to the public interest; but what does that mean? Is
not one individual as much a part of the public as another? The public
interest which you introduce as a person is only an abstract term; it
represents nothing but the mass of individual interests.... Individual
interests are the only real interests. Take care of the individuals; never
molest them, never suffer any one to molest them, and you will have done
enough for the public.... I shall conclude by a general observation of
great importance. The more the principle of property is respected, the
stronger hold it takes on the popular mind. Slight attacks on this
principle prepare the way for heavier ones. A long time has been necessary
to carry property to the point where we now see it in civilised societies;
but a fatal experience has shown with what facility it may be shaken, and
how easily the savage instinct of plunder gets the better of the laws.'

[151] For the constitutional position of the British and Irish Parliaments
before the Union, see Hallam's 'Constitutional History,' vol. iii.,
chapter on Ireland, and Ball's 'Legislative Irish System,' chaps. v., xv.
See also Lecky's 'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' vol. ii.
chap. vii.; vol. iv. chaps. xvi., xvii. As to the financial position of
the two countries, see the opening pages of each of the Reports of the
Childers Commission.

[152] Grattan described this vicious state of things in his inimitable
style ('Speeches,' p. 258, ed. published by Duffy): 'The Union is not an
identification of the two nations; it is merely a merger of the parliament
of one nation in that of another.... There is no identification in
anything save in legislature, in which there is complete and absolute
absorption. It follows that the two nations are not identified, though the
Irish legislature be absorbed, and by that act of absorption the feeling
of one of the nations is not identified, but alienated. The petitions on
our table bespeak that alienation.'

[153] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 20.

[154] I transcribe this part of the seventh article of the Treaty of
Union; I believe that I have fairly described its purport (Report of
Childers Commission, p. 140): 'That if at any future day the separate debt
of each country respectively shall have been liquidated, or if the values
of their respective debts ... shall be to each other in the same
proportion with the respective contributions of each country
respectively.... And if it shall appear to the Parliament of the United
Kingdom that the respective circumstances of the two countries will
thenceforth admit of their contributing indiscriminately by equal taxes
imposed on the same articles in each, to the future expenditure of the
United Kingdom to declare that all future expense thenceforth to be
incurred, together with the interest and charges of all joint debts
contracted previous to such declaration, shall be so defrayed
indiscriminately by equal taxes imposed on the same articles in each
country, and thenceforth from time to time, as circumstances may require,
to impose and apply such taxes accordingly, subject only to such
particular exemptions or abatements in Ireland, and in that part of Great
Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may appear, from time to time,
to demand.'

[155] Grattan's speeches, quoted in a memorandum supplied to the Childers
Commission by Sir Edward Hamilton, p. 9.

[156] 'Minutes of Evidence,' Childers Commission, vol. i. p. 329.

[157] Memorandum of Sir Edward Hamilton, p. 9.

[158] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 143.

[159] Ibid., p. 32.

[160] Report of the Childers Commission, pp. 147, 148.

[161] Ibid., p. 33.

[162] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 158.

[163] I think it necessary to set out verbatim the terms of reference to
the Commission; I have for the sake of clearness changed their order: 'To
inquire into the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland,
and their relative taxable capacity, and to report: I. Upon what
principles of comparison, and by the application of what specific
standards, the relative capacity of Great Britain and Ireland to bear
taxation may be most equitably determined. II. What, so far as can be
ascertained, is the true proportion, under the principles and specific
standards so determined, between the taxable capacity of Great Britain and
Ireland. III. The history of the financial relations between Great Britain
and Ireland, at and after the Legislative Union, the charge for Irish
purposes on the Imperial Exchequer during that period, and the amount of
Irish taxation remaining available for contribution to Imperial
expenditure; also the Imperial expenditure to which it is considered
equitable that Ireland should contribute.'

[164] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 26.

[165] Since 1896, when the Childers Commission made its report, the
overtaxation of Ireland has increased.

[166] Report of Childers Commission: 'Minutes of Evidence,' vol. i. p. 17.

[167] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 16.

[168] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 89.

[169] Report of the Childers Commission, pp. 159, 160.

[170] 'Minutes of Evidence,' Childers Commission, vol. ii. p. 218.

[171] I quote from the Report of the Childers Commission, p. 68, these
valuable remarks on the subject: 'Neither can there then be any question
that a system of equal rates of taxes on the same subjects is compatible
with the utmost inequality of burdens between two countries contributing
to one exchequer. All that need be done in order to exact an undue
proportion--unlimited in extent--of the means of either of the countries
is to tax the commodities most consumed in that country, and in fixing the
rate of the tax on each commodity, to fix the higher rates on the
particular commodities most generally in use in that country, and the
lower rates on those most consumed in the other. The same kind of effect,
of course, may be produced, and the same discrimination exercised, by
totally exempting some commodities and taxing others, however lightly. In
fact, a system of equal rates of taxes may thus be rendered more easily
unjust and burdensome to the country discriminated against than one of
differential taxes, because in the latter case, the unequal treatment, and
the mode of it being manifest, are more liable to criticism and
limitation; whilst in the former, the true effect of the system is
disguised by the circumstances that each particular head of tax is at the
same rate in both countries.'

[172] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 39.

[173] Ibid., p. 166.

[174] Report of the Childers Commission, p. 11.

[175] Ibid.: Evidence of Mr. Munough O'Brien, pp. 12, 13: 'The system of
Imperial loans for temporary emergencies and charity tends to increase the
poverty of Ireland, whose future income is mortgaged to pay interest on
expenditure from which there is no return. There is no surer road to ruin
for an individual than borrowing money to live upon, and most of these
Imperial loans are practically made from time to time to enable the Irish
people to live or relieve acute distress and disorder. Loans are almost
annually made to keep the people quiet or to keep them alive. Yet this
expenditure does not prevent the recurrence of famine, distress, and
discontent; it rather tends to cause their recurrence.'

[176] Report of the Childers Commission: Report of Mr. Sexton and others,
pp. 102, 103.

[177] Report of the Childers Commission: 'Evidence,' vol. ii. p. 18.

[178] Report of the Childers Commission, pp. 194, 195.

[179] 6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 116. The works of Messrs. Vanston and Foote on
the grand juries of Ireland may be referred to.

[180] The reader may be referred to Mr. Moore's work on the Irish poor
law.

[181] See the Report of a Committee of the House of Lords, and especially
of the Evidence, taken in 1884-85, with respect to the administration of
the Irish poor law at the time.

[182] For a further account of local government in Ireland, a reader may
consult the Report of Mr. W. P. O'Brien on Local Government, 1878, and
reports on the towns of Ireland and their taxation about the same date. An
excellent tract on the subject was published by Mr. William J. Bailey in
1888, called 'Local and Centralised Government in Ireland.' With respect
to the system of municipal government in Ireland as it existed before
1840, nothing is so valuable as the Reports of the Commissioners, very
able men, charged to inquire into the subject in 1834-35. A useful and
well-informed account will also be found in Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty
Years of Concessions to Ireland,' vol. i. book v.

[183] I have only been able to sketch the outlines of the measure, the
Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, p. 1, 62 Vict. cap. 37. A good
commentary on it has been written by Mr. Brett of the Irish Bar.

[184] Mr. Lecky, 'Democracy and Liberty,' Cabinet Edition, Introduction,
p. 13, has well described this vaunted reform: 'It was a measure
introduced in fulfilment of distinct pledges, and it contains very skilful
provisions intended to protect existing interests. But, after all is said,
it means a great transfer of power and influence from the loyal to the
disloyal, and it goes in the direction of democracy far beyond anything
that a few years ago would have been accepted by the Conservatives, or by
the moderate Liberals.'

[185] For a description of elementary education in Ireland up to 1812, see
passages in Wakefield's 'Account of Ireland;' and for a description in
earlier and later times, see Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years of
Concessions to Ireland,' book i. chs. i.-xiv.; Mr. Graham Balfour's
'Educational Systems of Great Britain and Ireland,' pp. 80-128; the Report
of the Commissioners of Irish Education, 1810-21; the important Report of
the Powis Commission, 1870-71; and the Reports of the Commissioners of
National Education in Ireland. Mr. Froude, in his 'English in Ireland,'
vol. i. p. 514; vol. ii. p. 491, has characteristically eulogised the
Charter Schools; but he stands alone; Mr. Lecky, 'History of England in
the Eighteenth Century,' vol. ii. pp. 200-304, has commented on this
odious system as it deserved.

[186] Barry O'Brien, 'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland,' vol. ii. p.
322.

[187] See Wakefield's 'Account of Ireland' for the state of her secondary
schools in 1812; Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland,'
book x. chs. i., ii., iii.; Graham Balfour's 'The Educational System of
Great Britain and Ireland,' pp. 203-218; and the Reports of the two
Commissions of 1854-57 and of 1878-80, of which the heads were Lord
Kildare and the Earl of Rosse.

[188] See the resolutions in Duffy's 'Young Ireland,' pp. 713, 714. There
has been much misrepresentation on this subject.

[189] See 'The Problem of Irish Education,' by Butt, a masterly and
impartial tract.

[190] See for the figures 'The Irish University Question,' by Archbishop
Walsh, _passim_.

[191] For further information on the history and the present state of the
University system in Ireland, see 'The History of the University of
Dublin,' by the Rev. J. W. Stubbs, and 'The Constitutional History of the
University of Dublin,' by D. C. Heron; Howley on 'Universities;' 'What is
meant by Freedom of Education,' by the O'Conor Don; 'University
Education,' by an Irish Protestant Celt; and especially 'The Problem of
Irish Education,' by Butt. See also the Irish University Debates in
Hansard for 1873, and the very able debate in Trinity College. The reader,
too, may be referred to Mr. Barry O'Brien's 'Fifty Years of Concessions to
Ireland,' book xi.; to Mr. Graham Balfour's 'Educational Systems of Great
Britain and Ireland,' pp. 273-288; to Mr. Godkin's 'Education in Ireland;'
and to Archbishop Walsh's 'The Irish University Question.'

[192] Too much is not to be made of 'Nationalist' clamour; but these
remarks of Mr. Dillon, M.P., are significant (_Freeman's Journal_, April
13, 1901): 'I do not believe that these movements will ever succeed ...
until that fortress of English domination and anti-Irish bigotry, Trinity
College, is for ever swept away, or there is placed opposite to it a truly
National University, where the most honoured classes will be the classes
of Irish literature and Irish history.' Archbishop Walsh, a much abler
man, has written in the same sense in his work, 'The Irish University
Question.' The question, he contends, in many passages, must be settled by
levelling up or by levelling down, that is, by raising the Catholic
University to the position of Trinity College, or by disestablishing and
disendowing Trinity College. The evil precedent of the Act disestablishing
the Anglican Church in Ireland, will, it is hoped, be eschewed.

[193] See on this subject Mr. Lough's 'England's Wealth, Ireland's
Poverty,' pp. 88-94.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.





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