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go away if there was security for life and property at home? They are chiefly from the counties of Tipperary, Clare, Galway, and Limerick ; they leave the finest land in Ireland, some of the finest in the world, to till the deserts ; a climate where they can work the whole year, for one where they can work but six months.
There is abundance of reclaimable land in Ireland in the same condition—so far as human industry is concerned—as it was left by the deluge. They carry with them, and spend in the expenses of transit, abundant capital for its redemption from waste, and they have willing hands and stalwart arms, but it neither can nor will be sold, and they dare not fix a spade in it: 3850 such emigrants left the port of Limerick this spring, as many more must have taken their departure from other ports; the whole number cannot fall short of 10,000 in the year, from Tipperary and the surrounding counties alone. What a drain is this
the industrious and virtuous inhabitants of a district containing
a population of little more than 1,000,000! Suicidal landlords of Tipperary—of Ireland, ye are driving into banishment the men who would relieve you from debt and pauperism, and make the titles ye possess, not empty sounds as at present, the mockery of those amongst whom
ye flaunt them; men who would save you from the clutches of the bailiff and the money-lender. Ye are draining your lands, not of its superabundant moisture, but of its industrious and thrifty population, and retaining the idle, the imbecile, and the extravagant. I will not say,
men, weep and howl for your misèries that shall come upon you,”—for they have already overtaken ye. “ Your gold and your silver are cankered, and your garments, (the flimsy trappings of your former greatness) are worn and moth-eaten.” Ye are a scoff and a byword, the beggarly hangers on of aristocracy, watching for the shreds and droppings of pensions and sinecures, or grabbling amongst blacklegs and horse jockeys, for the spoils of the silly sons of the English nobility.
Another striking proof of the insecurity of property amongst the poor in Ireland, may be drawn from the nature of the deposits in the savings banks. At present those banks hold about two and a half millions of unemployed capital-judging from the Cork banks, of which alone I know anything--and where 400,0001. are deposited. Mueh the largest portion of this belongs to small farmers. The average deposits are under 301.; the interest less than 3 per cent. Now it must be obvious to all, that a farmer
NO, XIX. VOL. IV.
66 Go to, ye
whose land wants everything that is necessary to make it fruitful, would not put his little savings into a bank where he gets less than 3 per cent. for it, when he might put it into his land, and make 10 or 20 per cent., if he were sure of its remaining his own. There is no bank to the farmer like the soil ; every extra shilling and every extra effort it repays with redoubled interest. Some of the scenes at one bank, though indications of the unsound condition of society, are highly ludicrous ; frequently the manager, or one of the clerks, is called out to some one on particular business gaunt peasant is in waiting, who, after carefully peering through the doors to see that no one is listening, pulls off his hat, and whispers softly, that he has a pound or two to have kept for him, but adds with energy, “God bless your honour, and don't tell anybody.” He then produces the money from some recess in his drapery ; but should any one appear it is instantly conveyed back to its place of concealment. But the money in the savings banks forms but a small portion of the savings of the Irish peasantry; the greater number will not trust them even there, and prefer hiding their accumulations in some cranny in their hovels, the squalid condition of which is, in many cases, preserved to avert suspicion. Yet how have these miserable savings been gained ? One would think, from the caution and fears of the possessors, they were the produce of fraud or violence; far from it ; they are the gleanings of the most rigid parsimony, from the results of hard, earnest, and most ill-paid toil.
The previous reasoning replies also to two other items in Mr. Nichols' magic circle-want of capital, and want of employment. Were there security to the farmer, there is over 1,000,0001. in our savings banks, and to this we might add at least as much more, which would assuredly be at once expended on our waste and half-tilled lands, giving employment to all our surplus population ; an employment they are ready to undertake at once, requiring neither training nor acts of parliament. To the other charge, of “want of industry,” the dockyards and harvest-fields, the workshops and railways of England, and the prairies and backwoods of America give the most emphatic denial ; although there is no doubt that the benumbing influence of hopeless poverty, and the contentment produced by despair of advancement, have had their influence on the national character ;--and it would take, perhaps, a generation or two even of more wise and just government than we have ever yet been blessed with in Ireland,
to produce that self-dependence and untiring perseverance for which the English people are remarkable.
There is but one true remedy for the evils of Ireland, and it is comprised in one word—JUSTICE ; justice to her toiling, ill-clad, ill-housed, ill-fed children. She might, with a fair claim to being heard, ask of England mercy, and a helping hand as well. From her she has received the deep wounds that yet rankle in her sides ; but let her receive justice, free unstinted justice, and rapidly will the evils of her condition disappear, and plenty and prosperity visit her, This is vague: I will explain what I mean. It is security for life and property-the cant phrase of some of her doctors, but not as they mean it :-security, not for the lordling in his castle, he does not require it, but for the peasant in his cottage; not for the landowner, but from him ;-security to the poor man for the just results of his industry. There are robbers and murderers in Ireland who disturb its whole moral and physical constitution, and prevent its progress; but they are not clad in rags or frieze, but in brocades and broad cloth, reclining in saloons, living in clubs and palaces, and received and acknowledged in the houses of the great
-not the puny midnight assassin doing his solitary murder, but wholesale slaughterers, who sweep away whole families by tens and hundreds at a time—not the caitiff wretch, driven by penury to snatch from the traveller his gold, and trembling for the consequences, but men of title, noblemen, as they are called, wresting from the trembling hand of penury the bread of life, from the toiling hand of industry its hard-earned profits, and doing the whole with legal sanction, according to act of parliament.
To do that justice, to effect that security, the whole system of landed tenure should be altered—it is at present most artificial and absurd. Improvements are proposed, and they show a disposition to grapple with the monster evil of Ireland, but they are but tinkerings. It is not enough that a simple form of lease should be appointed ; landholders should be obliged to give them, by decreeing that in all disputes about land, where there is not documentary evidence to the contrary, and in all doubtful cases, the occupier should be deemed to be the owner.
This is the case with regard to all other property ; why is land an exception ? Thus would the granting of leases be enforced. These should be as simple as possible, and always at the expense of the landlord, as they would be for his protection, and not that of the tenant. The second improvement proposed is no doubt of value; yet is
it like Portia's maxim, “ To do a great good, do a little wrong.” There seems no fairer claim than that of the tenant-farmer to remuneration, when at the expiration of his term he gives up his land greatly enhanced in value. He borrows it in a certain condition; if he improves it while in his possession, surely he should be allowed for that improvement; he should not be made to give back more than he has received. The usurer who, with his ten or fifteen per cent., requires also whatever his debtor
have realised, would be looked upon as doubly iniquitous, yet such usurers are our landholders—they exact for what they lend the highest possible rate of interest, and when they get back their own, require also the vested energies of their debtors. This is manifestly unjust; and yet, to do justice, government is obliged to do an act of injustice. The tenant made a voluntary agreement-at least as voluntary as a drowning man could be said to make with him who offers to save him from destruction-and they are obliged to step in between the necessities of the victim and the crushing influence of a tyrannous system. They are obliged to say to the landholder—“From the necessities of his condition, you have forced from your tenant unjust and arbitrary engagements. We know you have his promise to fulfil them, but we will not allow them to be enforced.” Surely there can be something better than this ! What endless sources of litigation will it give rise to-how ineffectual is its protection? The tenant will still be dependent on his landlord, the victim of oppression and petty tyranny, and of the fearful evils of legal persecution, one of the worst of the curses of Ireland.
The whole borrowing system should be discountenanced, and every encouragement and facility given to purchasers of land. The laws of entail and all the legal difficulties and technicalities surrounding its sale and transference should be done away with, and it should be rendered as easy for a man to buy an acre, or half an acre of land, as a cow or a sheep. The immense tract of country kept waste by the nominal titles which a few possess to them, should be given up to the husbandman, the value of those nominal titles paid, and the drones driven from the hive. When such things are done, a free and independent resident proprietary would spring up. In a few years the greater portion of the land in Ireland would change owners, greatly to the advantage both of the present possessors and the tillers of the soil. The country would be held by five millions of its own people, instead of by five
hundred foreigners. The advantages are obvious. Its wastes would be reclaimed, its fruitfulness increased an hundred fold, its population would be all busy and industrious, we would hear nothing of discontent or disturbance, and plenty would overspread the land.
I have now stated my case and given my proofs. To my mind, it is as clear as daylight, that all the political vicissitudes, not only of this country but of England, are traceable to the land monopoly, and the absurdities of land tenure. It is not merely an Irish question; but with you English it is not, as with us, one of life and death. You have large and profitable manufactories to provide bread for your people ; and your land-holders, though too often opposers of everything that has a tendency to elevate humanity, are yet Englishmen, and live in England, and are consequently less likely to abuse their power, and more under the influence of sympathy and public opinion. Yet you are deeply interested : this worst of the heir-looms of accursed feudalism yet remains ; it must be struck down by the same hands that felled the giant monopoly. No greater boon could be conferred on our involved aristocracy, than to give them facilities, and urge on them the necessity for selling off large portions of their estates : most of them are only nominal owners, and are in reality but a sort of land-agents to a host of money lenders, lawyers, and relatives. It is for such reason, and in connection with measures of a more comprehensive character, that the proposed expedient of compensation to tenants would be of value; it would force sales, for few of our proprietary would be able to pay for improvements in their lands, and therefore should sell.
I do not say that this is all that should be done for Ireland : there are many other questions of importance. The Church abuse should be cut down, and the franchise and the representation equalised with England. But, compared with the land question, all are minor matters, and, if that were settled, other reforms would soon follow.
If such measures pass, the repeal of the Union may be deferred for years to come ; if they do not, it should be granted at once. If England is incapable of governing Ireland except by force, and with a constant recurrence to extraordinary and temporary enactments, let her give it up. We are still satisfied to pay our share in the expenses of Government, tawdry and extravagant though it be in appearance, and clumsy and bungling in execution -our share in the expenses of war, so long as that great sin of