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that condition in which he stood before the intelligible in the humble lieutenant of Land Act, because he was deprived of his Lord Beaconsfield and the faithful colusual means, and had to contemplate eviction for non-payment of rent, and, as the conse- league of Lord Salisbury. quence of eviction, starvation. It is no great I have now, I think, proved my two exaggeration to say that in a country where propositions-(1) that there was fair agricultural pursuits are the only pursuits, ground for anticipating a famine in rent are entirely destroyed for the time by the 1879 ; and (2) that the landlords would visitation of Providence, the occupier may re- be ready to take full advantage of that gard the sentence of eviction as coming very famine to evict their tenants ; and I near to a sentence of starvation."*
have thus established an analogy between In connection with this passage we
the epoch of distress in the last three quote two others. Speaking in one of years with the period of famine between the debates on the Land Bill of 1870, 1846 and 1849. I proceed to show how, Mr. Gladstone said :
with these facts before them, the Land What is the greatest of all loss to a man? League and its leaders acted. To lose his improvements is something, to 1. The first thing to be done was to lose his future profits is something ; but what prevent a famine. To whom are we to is the greatest loss to a man? To lose his attribute the prevention in 1879 of the daily bread-to lose his means of livelihood.
scenes of 1847 ? Not to the landlords, When we think of loss, it may be loss of profit ; but in Ireland it is the loss of for, as has been seen, they increased livelihood--the right to live.”+
their harshness with the increase of the And in the same speech, on the Disturb- they did not take one single step to meet
distress. Not to the Ministry, because ance Bill
, from which I have already the distress until months after they had quoted, he summed the meaning of the been warned of its existence. * I claim eviction figures as showing that 15,000 that the credit of having prevented a individuals would be “ejected from their homes, without hope and without belongs absolutely, entirely, solely to remedy, in the course of the present Mr. Parnell. It will be immediately year."1. In other words, the Irish land- asked if I give no credit to the Duchess lords--in the year following that in of Marlborough for raising the cry of which there had been the worst potato distress and collecting, vast sums of crop since the Great Famine--the Irish money to relieve it? Have I forgotten landlords decreed 15,000 sentences of eviction, or, to
the Seeds Act ? Do I give no credit to use Mr. Gladstone's
the Government for the introduction of words, 15,000 sentences of starvation. I observed that Sir Stafford Northcote, is simply this : that the Marlborough
the Relief of Distress Act ? My answer in his speech at the Colston banquet, fund was a flank movement to the agitablamed Mr. Gladstone for the use of tion of Mr. Parnell, and the Seeds and such expressions as I have quoted, Relief of Distress Acts were the children pointing out the arguments it placed at of his agitation. In saying this I do not the disposal of the Land Leaguers.
The motives This is very characteristic of the atti: impute evil motives.
which originated the. Relief Fund and tude of the present leader in the House of Commons of the Tory party.
the Relief Acts were doubtless good ;
He does not stop to inquire whether Mr. tory of the subject must know that
but everybody who has watched the hisGladstone's definition of eviction is just neither Relief Fund nor Relief Acts or unjust, true or false ; it should not
would have ever existed but for Mr. have been given, whether just or unjust, true or false, because the Land Leaguers
* On March 27, 1879, the attention of the might be able to utilize it. I am not
then Government was called to the probasurprised at the attitude of Sir Stafford bility of severe distress in Ireland. Mr. LowNorthcote ; a higher regard for the ther, at that time Chief Secretary, said he was effect of statement on party discussions glad” to think that “that depression"-in than for their truth or their falsehood is Ireland—was neither so prevalent nor
so acute as the depression at present existing in
other parts of the United Kingdom !” (Han* Times, July 6th.
sard. 3 S., ccxlvi. p. 1399.) Nothing was done † Hansard, 3 S., cc. 1318–19.
till November 22d, when the circular was is#_Ibid. ccliii. p. 1666.
sued authorizing loans of money to landlords.
Parnell and the Land League agitation. as proclamations of our success in savThey are both post hoc and propter hoc. ing the Irish tenants from the abject
2. Mr. Parnell and the Land League spirit of their fathers. To me, indeed, had to deal with eviction, eviction being nothing in this great movement has been the inevitable sequel of distressed times. so astonishing-nothing has been a cause As will have been seen from the figures of such exultation of spirit, and such I have quoted, the work of destruction hopefulness of heart-as the change was not wholly prevented ; the propor- which the Land League movement has tions that work of destruction did reach made in the temper of the Irish tenant. were enough to shock the mind of a just A race of abject, cowering, and helpless and humane man like Mr. Gladstone. I slaves has been transformed into an ask him, and all like him, this home organized force of spirited, self-reliant, question : How many more evictions and even defiant freemen. would there have been had not the Land I next come to the consideration of League existed ? The highest total of the agencies through which the Land eviction was apprehended in the present League has worked. Its main princiyear : 15,000 people were to be ejected ples have been that only a fair rent from their homes “ without hope and should be paid, and that no one should without remedy." A terrible total, take a farm from which another person truly, in the year following a partial had been unjustly evicted-and it has famine in some, and a complete famine recommended combination among the in many, parts of Ireland ; but how tenants for self-protection. I will not small in comparison to the total of 300,- discuss the legality or illegality of such ooo in the year 1846, and 50,000 in the advice—that question has been referred year 1849! The enormous dispropor- to the legal tribunals. It will be suffition between the eviction figures of the cient to briefly note some of the main two epochs of distress is not wholly to objections, not of a legal character, be attributed to the disproportion be- which have been brought against those tween the intensity of that distress, for counsels. In order to understard the the failure of the potato crop of 1879 motives which dictated the prohibition was not so very much less than the fail- against the taking of a farm from which ure of 1847 ; nor is it to be sought in there has been an eviction, it is first the greater kindness of the landlords. necessary to grasp this great and central The only agency which did exist in 1879 fact of the land system of Irelandand 1880, and did not in 1847 and 1848, namely, that the want of any other and the only agency, therefore, that can means of earning a livelihood has made have caused the decrease in evictions is the competition for land fierce, uncalcuthe Land League.
lating, and self-destructive. Mill, in his 3. The third great danger against“ Political Economy," devotes several which the Land League had to contend pages to this disastrous feature in our was that the spirit of the people would peasant life, quoting one remarkable be so thoroughly broken by the distress case in which a farm, which was really that they would patiently submit to worth £50 a year, was taken by a tenant whatever steps the landlords might take ; at a rental of £450.* This fact leads to the tenants might, under the pressure of two conclusions-(1) That a combinafamine, pass on to the workhouse, the tion is advisable among tenants to keep emigrant ship, or the grave, as did their the demand for land within rational fathers in the Great Famine, with no limits ; and (2) That the money paid for sign beyond impotent wailings against a the good-will or in the rent of a farm in resistless fate. I take the cries of rage Ireland is no guide whatever as to the and fear which have issued from the real value of a farm. The first conclulandlord party ; the hurricane of abuse sion justifies the counsel of the Land through which the Land League leaders League not to take a farm from which a have been passing ; the active, unscru- tenant has been evicted, for it is the pulous, and skilful conspiracy of cal- power of eviction which enables the umny against the character of the Irish tenants, which has been working for so * Mill's “ Political Economy," Book ii, cap. many weeks past--I take all these things ix. p. 196.
landlord to stimulate unhealthy compe- lent and even wicked language which has tition. There is, besides, this further been employed against that body, I and stronger argument in favor of the shall resist the temptation, and in dealadvice, that anything which suspends the ing with this part of my subject, as power of eviction takes away from the throughout this article, I shall confine landlord that power of issuing a decree myself to the frigid statement of fact. of life or death which is the key to his The chief objection against the Land citadel. The second conclusion from League is that it has encouraged, and by excessive competition-that the rent of encouraging has enormously increased, a farm is no test of its real value- crime. Before proceeding to some figthrows considerable light on the advice ures which bear on this subject, I would not to pay an unjust rent. The rent in ask any reasonable man whether the most parts of Ireland is, in point of fact, substitution of open agitation for secret a rack-rent ; at all events, a rent which conspiracy does not tend to the diminuin ordinary times would be unfair, be- tion of crime? And has not the Land comes in times of distress a rack-rent. League substituted open agitation for Before I leave this point, let me just secret conspiracy? Up to the present call attention to a matter which, I think, epoch the tenant threatened with evicwas too much lost sight of in the discus- tion was an isolated individual, with no sion on the Disturbance Bill. The 9th weapon of defence but the blunderbuss ; section of the Land Act of 1870, as is to-day the peasant is one of a disciplined known, allows compensation for disturb- and organized force, that finds in comance in cases of capricious eviction ; but bination a weapon of defence far more disallows compensation when eviction effective, as it is far safer, than the bullet takes place for non-payment of rent. In of the assassin. the latter case, however, an important Moreover, it is, as will be seen, one proviso is made ; it is that the rent, the of the claims of the Land League that non-payment of which bars compensa- it has enormously decreased, and for tion, must not be “exorbitant." Now some time past has even stopped, evicas a rent which in ordinary times is fair tions altogether. Now every man acbecomes in times of distress exorbitant, quainted with the Irish Land Question the rents in nearly every part of Ireland knows that if there were no evictions in the last two years became exorbitant; there would be no agrarian crimes ; and and, accordingly, the non-payment of the Land League, in putting down evicsuch a rent showed not act as a bar to tions, has accordingly helped to put compensation for disturbance.
down crime. found out in practice that the proviso, But it will be said that, however bringing the fairness or exorbitancy of a rational this may appear in theory, the rent into the subjects of judicial discus- fact remains that crime in Ireland was sion in the Land Courts, had proved a never so rife as since the creation of the dead letter ; and the Disturbance Bill, Land League. A claim that the Land in insisting on the discussion of this League has diminished crime will indeed question in times of distress, appeared appear something like a mauvaise plaisto me always to have no further effect anterie in face of the fact that columns than that of making plain a provision of the English journals have been filled which in the Act of 1870 was rather ob- for weeks with nothing but Irish outscure, and of making effective a pro- rages ; in face of the fact that a large vision which in practice had proved inop- number of Liberal journals have been so erative. By rejecting that Bill the House shocked by the occurrence of these horof Lords placed a premium on eviction, rible crimes that they have rivalled the and, so doing, supplied the agrarian Tory organs in the demand for coercive criminal with the strongest temptation legislation ; in face of the fact, to put it to crime.
shortly, that England is convinced that I now come to deal with the objec- there never was such a horrible time in tions which have been raised against the the entire history of the Irish Land operations of the Land League ; and Question as this epoch, of which the though the temptation be strong to reply Land League was the parent. Lord in hot and passionate words to the vio- Randolph Churchill, speaking at Ports
mouth, put the general English impres- The extraordinary result, as the reader sion on this subject in a convenient will perceive, is that the aggregate of form. He declared that there were crime was greater for this unhappy year at present scenes of discord and in Ireland than in England and Wales. anarchy" to which they could find “no Passing on to another series of years, parallel since the days of '98."
we find the figures : I will now supply the reader with the
1845. 1846. opportunity of testing the accuracy of
137 176 Firing at the person.
138 158 Lord Randolph Churchill's judicial sum
Conspiracy to murder..
6 ming-up of English opinion on the pres- Assault, with intent to murder ent state of Irish crime. The dates I shall take are 1833,
to which, adding various other crimes, 1836, 1845, 1846, 1848, 1849, 1850-59, we find the total of offences against the and, finally, 1870.
person are :
1846. In 1833 there were 172 homicides, 465
1,923* robberies, 455 houghings of cattle, 2095 illegal notices, 425 illegal meetings, 796 Another classification of crime-offences malicious injuries to property, 753 at- against the public peace, including fires, tacks on houses, 3156 serious assaults, demands or robbery of arms, riots, and, finally, the aggregate of crime was threatening notices, firing into dwellings gooo.
and the like-shows that of this class of In 1836 crime reached even greater offences there were in proportions. Comparing England and
1846. Wales with Ireland, we find that of per
4,645 4,7667 sons committed the figures stood thus:t I next take 1848 and 1849,5 and the
figures stand thus :
1849. Homicide ...
203 Against the person...:
97 Against property, with vio.
Robbery of arms.
237 113 lence
95 90 Against property, without vio
I 66 16,167 Against property, maliciously 168 502 The following table, which I take Forgery and coining..... 339 214 from the criminal statistics for the year Not included in above classes 1,024
1859 (p. 5.), gives the crime between the Total....
20,784 23,891 years 1850 and 1859 :
1850. 1851. 1852. 1853. 1854. 1855. 1856. 1857. | 1858. 1859.
And, finally, the number of agrarian out- ed to the constabulary between ist of rages for the year 1870 was 1329.1 I now come to the present period.
* “ Returns" (Feb. I, 1847), No. 64, p. I. We have not as yet complete returns as
+ Ibid. p. 2.
# I have not been able to find a complete to the crime of this year, but we have
return for the year 1847; but the crime in fair indications as to what its amount is that year was so enormous that, as is known, likely to be. A return was presented to a Liberal Government brought in a Coercion the House of Commons during the last Bill. There is a return for the six months, session of the “ agrarian outrages report- figures are: Homicides, 96; attempts on life
ending in October, according to which the
by firing, 126; robberies of arms, 530 ; firing * “ Annual Register," 1833, p. 41.
into dwellings, 116.-Hansard, 3 S. xcv. p. | Ibid. # Thom's Almanac for 1880. 276.
January, 1879, and 31st of January, Ireland, during the present agitation, is 1880. This return (No. 131) was ob- entirely baseless; and the next thing I tained on the motion of the Right Hon. would wish to explain is why it is that, James Lowther.
the real state of facts being such as I Twelve of the thirteen months cov- have shown, the impression in England ered by this return belong to 1879—the is so extremely incorrect.
The pheyear when the value of the potato crop nomenon is strange, and yet it is most had fallen to £3,341,028 from £12,464,- easily accounted for. In the first place, 382 in 1876; when also the landlords I would account for it by the language had increased the number of evictions of Tory speakers, of which that used by to 2667 from 1749 in the previous year; Lord Randolph Churchill is a somewhat and in this period also the Land League exaggerated specimen. Take, for in was in full activity. What, then, was stance, the speech of Mr. Gibson in the the total of crimes in that year? 977. Ulster Hall, Belfast. Speaking of the The only information I have been able events which followed the death of Lord to obtain with regard to the present year Mountmorres, the late Attorney-General is one which was brought in on the mo- for Ireland spoke of the refusal by a tion of Mr. Tottenham, the Conserva- peasant woman to admit the corpse of tive and landlord member for County that unhappy nobleman into her house Leitrim. This is a return (No. 327, a proof of the evil of the Land dated July 8, 1880) of the number of League. The Land League had “unoffences committed between February sexed” this woman, was the phrase of 1, 1880, and June 30, 1880, in Gal- Mr. Gibson. Now Mr. Gibson, though way, Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal — the he employs his great talents for the perfour most distressed counties ; and the petuation of the worst miseries of Irenumber of the offences is 187. As to land, is an Irishman, and he ought to the murders in the present year, they know, as well as I, that the refusal of have all attracted so much attention that this unlettered woman was the result, everybody is acquainted with them. not of the cruel spirit begat since the They are--the murder of Ferrick the foundation of the Land League, less bailiff, of young Mr. Boyd, of Lord than two years ago, but of a superstition Mountmorres, of young Downing the probably centuries old. In all the carman, and of young Mr. Wheeler, at country districts of Ireland there lingers Limerick-in all five murders. I leave the belief that even the touch of a perthe reader now to compare the amount son untimely slain brings with it death ; of crime in the last two years with that indeed, I know of the case of a hapless in former years, as shown in the Tables friend of mine who was allowed to I have quoted.
drown in consequence of this o'ermasWe are now able to estimate the ac- tering idea in the rustics who were standcuracy of Lord Randolph Churchill's ing on the shore. This fact doubtless statement, that to find a parallel for the displays a most deplorable state of ignoscenes of anarchy and disorder at pres- rance in the Irish peasant, just as the ent being enacted one must go back to occasional appearances of rustics for asthe year '98. The member for Wood. saulting old women as witches proves stock is a legislator that invites com- how old superstitions still linger in rusment; but I abstain from any further tic England ; but assuredly it is ridicuremark just now than this : In the same lous to put down to the teaching of the speech in which he made the calculation Land League an incident which was the the accuracy of which I have tested, he creation of a prevalent superstition. * declared himself a strong supporter of the union between Great Britain and
* Some incidents occurred at the meeting Ireland. I ask reasonable men whether in Ulster Hall which might well make Tory
speakers a little more discreet in their attack's wild, reckless calumnies like his on the
on the leaders of the Land League. In the character of the Irish people are calcu- course of Mr. Gibson's speech there were sevlated to promote union between the two eral such expressions as “ Shoot the priests !"
“Shoot Parnell !" etc. Mr. Gibson made no countries. I have now, I think, proved that the reproof, He, afterward wrote to the Freio
man's Journal to deny that he had heard these cry of an unparalleled era of crime in interruptions. Though the Northern Whis