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Jacobins to secure what proved their chief stronghold in the war waged against the liberties of France. They were suffered to seize the exclusive control of the local government of the country. It is in this quarter, too, that the danger is now greatest in Ireland. The Leaguers see, with their wonted acuteness, the importance of having their sentinel at every post, and that a factious local government would be the best of all supports for the fighting line in Parliament. This, says one of the ablest of Mr. Parnell's lieutenants, 'is the true principle to work on.' 32 The Poor Law Boards have already given trouble in Ireland, and they may give more. Mr. Sexton tells us they are ready to make liberal grants out of the poor-rates for the maintenance of evicted families;' that half of these grants will fall upon the gentlemen, and that "arrangements can be made by which the ratepayers will be protected from the full portion of their own moiety of the poor-rates.' Yet but a third of the guardians are elected; the other two-thirds are composed of county magistrates. Unfortunately, recent ministerial utterances are not of a nature to discourage these tactics. Mr. Gladstone bas stated that there are senses perfectly acceptable, and even desirable, in which 'what is popularly known as Home Rule may be understood,' and that he would hail with delight any measure of local government for Ireland' that would not break down or impair the supremacy of Parliament. The Lord Privy Seal, fresh from the revelations of the Irish Juries Committee, talks complacently of the cravings of honest and loyal men’ for “some form of what is called Home Rule.'33 Finally, we have Lord Hartington's private secretary suggesting that the Premier does not believe the Land Act to be the one thing necessary for the salvation of Ireland.
If Mr. Gladstone bas doubts,' 34 Mr. Brett is reported to have said, “if he thinks that the whole question of the government of Ireland requires thorough examination and reform, every one again will appeal to him to make use of the powers which he possesses.' With reformed municipalities and representative County Boards, the form of Home Rule' which appears to be hinted at, every Corporation, every Poor Law Board, every Grand Jury, and all the minor patronage of the country, would be in the absolute control of the Dublin manipulators. Can any grave man think without dismay of such a prospect? Have the honest and loyal men'shown such intrepidity as jurors,35 or even as magistrates, that they should be entrusted with yet ampler powers over the properties of their fellow-subjects ?
The Liberals are indeed pledged to these measures, and to a
32 Speech of Mr. O'Connor at Cork. 33 Speech at Radstock: Times, October 18. 34 Liverpool Mercury, October 25. 35 Irish Juries Committee, 3204-6.
measure yet more ominous—to the extension of the electoral franchise,36
The question now is, whether the great statesmen who head the Liberal party will have the courage to postpone the fulfilment of these pledges, and steadily to enforce the law ? True, 'force is no remedy,' but there are moments in history, fateful moments, when force is the condition precedent of all remedies. In Ireland such a moment is upon us. None but the merest doctrinaires—the veriest Sangrados of politics, can seriously propose to strengthen the hands of the Irish populace, because in other circumstances, and in quieter times, such a course would be in harmony with their constitutional theories. Consistency, in itself, is no doubt an excellent thing, and one which conduces much to the fame and profit of the practitioner. But when the realisation of the cherished theory is invariably followed by the death of the patient, mere men of the world and empirics like Gil Blas may be pardoned for suggesting that it were well to try some
The recent action of the Government shows that they possess the rarest form of political courage, the courage to acknowledge past mistakes. But if that action is to be effectual, it must be systematic and continuous. The heavy blows of the executive have struck down the League, but such organisations live long. Whether the great conspiracy is indeed dead, or stunned, time only must show. Meanwhile, all practical men are agreed that it will take years of strenuous rule to eradicate the evil germs of eighteen months' successful anarchy.
36 The qualification under the Constitution of 1789-90 was low, and there were about 250 Jacobins returned. That qualification was abolished in 1792, and the new constituencies elected the purely Jacobin Convention.
J. WOULFE FLANAGAN.
THE SCOTCH LAND QUESTION,
Six years ago the traveller in Scotland who took an interest in political and economical questions affecting the landed interest, would have found it difficult to discover any part of the country where there was less apparent cause for external interference between the owner and the occupier of the land, than existed in Aberdeenshire. In most parts of the county ages had passed since the old tribal communism of the earlier and less civilised races of people had practically disappeared. The great landed proprietors, possessed in practice, as well as by law, rights of ownership as complete as could be found in any civilised country in modern days. Those rights were defined and guarded by an elaborate and scientific system of Land Laws, which imposed few limits to the right of ownership, save those which were supposed to be necessary to preserve estates unimpaired and undiminished, from generation to generation, by perpetual descent in the same family.
The occupiers and actual cultivators of the land were, for the most part, tenant-farmers holding under leases from the landowner. In the case of all tenancies for more than a few acres, these leases were usually for nineteen years--a term which had been settled by custom as affording to both parties what they agreed on, as a fair return for their respective interests in the land and its cultivation; and allowing them to reconsider the terms of their bargain, whenever, by lapse of time, or change of circumstances, the value of the land or of its produce might be altered.
Such reconsideration was regarded as a matter of course when the lease expired. It was equally a matter of course to raise or lower the rent as the parties interested thought proper ; and for the tenant to quit the farm, if he could not agree with his landlord as to the terms on which his lease should be renewed.
The tenant-farmers were as a body among the best educated agriculturists in the kingdom. They prided themselves on being always among the first to consider, and decide on, the merits of any proposed improvements or alterations of law, or practice, affecting their
calling; and their decision was generally considered in other counties as one of great practical weight.
Many of the landowners occupied and cultivated for themselves portions of their own land. This practice had an excellent effect in preventing either landowners or land-cultivators from becoming a separate caste. It enabled the landowner to become practically acquainted with all details of the local system of agriculture, to test what was profitable or the reverse, and to have a real practical commercial sympathy with the tenant-farmer, who cultivated lands he did not own.
The results of the system were on the whole satisfactory. As far as could be judged by existing lights, the utmost was got out of the land. The soil in Aberdeenshire is of very varied quality, some by nature extremely fertile, some extremely barren, but all soils, even the best in the county, require much capital and labour to be expended on them to procure a productive return. Dykes must be built, drains must be cut, manure must be supplied, before a good crop can be got off the most fertile lands; and the farm buildings and machinery must be of the best, to ensure a speedy sale for the produce in good condition, when harvested and brought to market. Some of the lighter or more rocky soils, and the less fertile peat mosses, were turned to account by planting. But this, though often a profitable investment of the landowner's capital, required many years to realise. Others, of the poorer and more mountainous portions of estates, would furnish food to grouse and red deer, and yield a return by being let for shooting. Taken as a whole, and looking to the nature of the soil and climate, it was not easy to see how any more could be got out of Aberdeenshire, by skilful husbandry or careful management, than was obtained by the system which had grown up within the last three or four generations. In special localities it might seem at first as if a Belgian, Swiss, or Italian peasant might make more of a farm than the Aberdeenshire crofter; but considering that soil and climate alike forbade such culture as the vine, or mulberry, and bound the cultivator to turnips and the hardier root crops, to grass and the hardier grain crops, and to the judicious management of the less delicate breeds of cattle and sheep, the ultimate conclusion generally was that Aberdeenshire farmers, as a rule, made the most of such land and climate as Providence granted to them. It could not be said that the system was a bad one for the land
Estates varied greatly in size, from a few farms to domains of princely dimensions. Custom had handed down obligations which bound the greater proprietors to a very profuse hospitality, and the consequent lavish household expenditure was at times too much for the laird's income, and obliged him to sell his ancestral acres. But except from some such cause as profuse living, or gambling, landed proprietors rarely became impoverished. The cost of living increased, and the style of living became more luxurious, but the value of land and the rental of estates rose in even greater proportion, and as roads and railways opened up the country, many a prudent laird, whose estate was of moderate value in the days of the early Georges, became a wealthy landowner, by almost insensible increment of the value of his fields and pastures, his woods and moorside shootings.
When an estate did come into the market it generally sold for a price so high as to leave to the purchaser but a moderate return for the capital so invested. Good bargains might occasionally be made in land as in everything else, and sometimes a thriftless laird would sell a well-wooded estate, whose timber alone went far to pay the whole purchase money, when the purchaser cared more for a wellfilled purse than for well-clothed and picturesque valleys and hillsides; but as a general rule the competition for land to be sold was so keen, that the purchaser who got more than three and a half per cent. was exceptionally fortunate, and money invested in land, as a general rule, yielded less than money invested in the public stocks, and far less than safe and well assured commercial investments.
It could not be said that this increase of value to the land was generally obtained at the cost of the cultivator. As high farming' was developed, and the cost of cultivation increased, the tenantfarmer needed increased capital to be expended in making farming profitable. But, as he spent more money in manure and machinery, and in purchasing the stock best adapted to make money surely and rapidly, his profits steadily increased ; and the tenant-farmer of this generation had become, relatively as well as absolutely, a richer man than his grandfather, the tenant of eighty years ago. He bad not only generally a larger sum to bequeath to his heirs, but the difference between him and his laird in education, in mode of living, and in the power of commanding the luxuries, as well as the necessaries of life, was less than it had been between their grandfathers.
In the partnership for the cultivation of land, the landlord's rents were often raised by the skill, capital, and labour of an improving tenant. But the return the tenant got for himself was ample to yield a good interest on his capital; and a sufficient return for his skill and labour to make the tenant-farmer's occupation a profitable and popular one, and to cause a constant competition for the tenancy of a farm when it became vacant.
There were doubtless occasional cases where a bard or grasping landlord took advantage of the mistakes, omissions, or necessities of bis tenant. But there were quite as many cases where the reverse occurred, and where a knowing tenant enriched himself, to the damage of his landlord's interests and property. In Aberdeen agriculture, as in every other case of bargainiug and contract, the barder and shrewder of the two contracting parties had the advantage, and such