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of authority, thought they governed the country; but a new power had risen in the land, who laughed at their edicts; a visionary monarch, a Captain Right, who seemed to have more real strength than the legislature ever had. This royal Willo'th'Wisp, whom no man could catch, made laws infinitely more effectual, or better enforced, than those of parliament. .. His first law was to disarm all the Protestants in the country. There had been a law to disarm persons of another persuasion, which had been hung over them in terrorem, but never executed; but the law to disarm Protestants was very thoroughly carried into execution. As he had not by this means sufficiently supplied himself with arms and ammunition, his next step was to lay the whole country under contribution to purchase military stores. This was not sufficient, without securing the permanent obedience of his subjects, and therefore they were bound by an oath to obey blindly all his laws, without knowing what they might be.”
To how great an extent a sense of the general character of the crimes of the Whiteboys is present in their minds, appears even from the common phraseology of the threatening notices, “ that if the party does not comply with the order, he will suffer the death of so and so," referring to some remarkable murder ; by which it is plain that such homicides are considered, not as casual acts of individual malice or vengeance,
but as exemplary inflictions, intended to deter all others from such courses as led to the death of the individual referred to*.
The following threatening letter, addressed to a person in the barony of Gallen, county of Mayo (which contains a different expression of the same feeling), is cited from a Mayo newspaper in the Times of 11th December, 1835:
NOTICE. Take notice Mr. John Waters of Stripe that unless you give up your transgressing and violating and attempting persecuting poor objects or poor miserable tenants remark that the country is not destitute of friends
of removing certain evils, is forcibly stated in the following passage of a despatch from Lord Wellesley, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to Lord Melbourne, dated 15th April, 1834 :
“ A complete system of legislation, with the most prompt, vigorous, and severe executive power, sworn, equipped, and armed for all purposes of savage punishment, is established in almost every district. On this subject I cannot express my opinions more clearly, nor with more force nor justice, than your lordship will find employed in a letter addressed by Lord Oxmantown, lieutenant of the King's County, to Mr. Littleton. Lord Oxınantown truly observes, that the combination established surpasses the law in vigour, promptitude, and efficacy, and that it is more safe to violate the law than to obey it.”—Papers relating to the State of Ireland. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 7th July, 1834, p.
5. A similar statement is made by Colonel Ralph Johnson, a magistrate of the Queen's County :
“ What do you imagine to be the object of this association ? -I have said before, it is intimidation,—to legislate; they conceive they have grievances, and they take this mode of redressing them.
“ What grievances ?-Very many grievances, in my mind; I think there is very great mismanagement of landed property; it is very great, even on the part of resident landlords, although not to the same extent that exists with absentees.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1832, Nos. 763-4.
The same view, with regard to the assumed authority of these combined peasants, seeking to substitute their own law for that of the state, is also taken in a speech delivered in the Irish House of Commons by Mr. Browne, in reference to the disturbances of the Rightboys in 1787 :
“ The legislature sitting there (he said), with a vain image
of authorit. ITET E Frenet the country; but a ne
Toinen alent a sense ! rasta i mies of the W.. them to ren from top ustices," t:.: Car to order, he .
Pierring to som VII i vain that suc: 1 said, acts of individu. 22 sepay inflictions mez
*1*1 Epurses as lec 7
10 lvlowing threatening ka Sala county of Mayo partnerite suhe ting), is cited from a Merre Daian, 1835,
* Take notice Mr. John Waters a stra transgressing and violating and stomar prou werable tenants remark that the cente.
may be moreover remarked, that in their threatening letters they affect the form and phraseology of legal notices (of which examples will be given in the next chapter), thereby intimating that they administer a law subsidiary to, or rather substituted for, the law of the state.
That the main object of the Whiteboy disturbances is to keep the actual tenant in undisturbed possession of his holding, and to cause it to be transferred at his death to his family, by preventing and punishing ejectment and the taking of land over another's head, is proved by a whole body of testimony. A secondary but not unfrequent object, is to regulate the rate of wages, by preventing the employment of strangers, or by requiring higher payment from the farmers. The Whiteboys, of late years, have rarely interfered with the collection of tithe, which was at one time their principal object of attack.
Before I proceed to the general statements of witnesses, I will lay before the reader an account of the objects or motives of the crimes committed in the
province of Munster in the year 1833, so far as they could be collected from the reports made to the government by the inspectors-general of police. This Table (abstracted by the permission of the Irish government from the original Reports) will exhibit the comparative frequency of different motives, and will shew, at one glance, the peculiar character of the crimes in those parts of Ireland where the Whiteboy spirit prevails :
or otherwise if you do not give over your foolishness or ignorance you will will be made an example in the country that never was beheld.
“ Here is to our foe of Stripe. “ Mr. John Waters, Esq., and I would be sorry to be in your clothes.
“Captain Rock, Esq."