« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
horrors that resulted from like associations in 1798, and finally denounced the inen by name, and thus succeeded in removing them from the parish; this was in the spring of 1827. It appeared that they infected a good many persons engaged in this building, for in a short time after that, a body of men from the colliery, as I am informed, assembled at this building, and paid a visit to one of the neighbouring farmers, forbidding him to dispossess some people under him ; to be a good neighbour, meaning thereby that he should not refuse a free passage through his land to a neighbour who claimed it as a matter of right. When I heard this, I waited on the local magistrate, who apprised Mr. Foote, the chief of police, and I met them the following morning by appointment at the house so visited ; the servants and work-people were examined, and I found it my duty to put some questions to them, which they declined answering until compelled by the magistrate. I think it was in the harvest of mowing, two men, one of them calling himself Captain Rock, paid a visit to Mr. Cooper's workmen, forbidding them to work under a certain rate of wages, and also requiring a better quality of food for the mowers; I apprised the magistrate of this also. We had the steward and workmen summoned ; many of the respectable inhabitants of Ballynakill were present at their examinations. I put some very embarrassing questions to the steward, and upon both those occasions the people complained of my conduct, and said I outstepped my duty, and was rather officious. Those were the first two instances of insubordination that occurred in the parish over which I have presided for the last eight years; the persons concerned were not then known as Whitefeet or Blackfeet, but as members of the Ribbon Society.
" When did any further instances take place of this sort of proceeding ?-We remained pretty quiet for a year and a half afterwards, but I had occasion frequently to appeal to the people not to be employing strangers ; one of my chapels is in the neighbourhood of Timahoe, which at that period was very much disturbed, and I found that many of the people of that district resorted to my chapel to swear in the people ; and I
had (almost every second Sunday that I go there in turn) to caution the farmers not to employ strangers, and was at length under the necessity of forbidding such characters to resort to my chapel. The spirit of combination spread through the surrounding collieries, Wolfe-hill, New-town, Clough, and that belonging to Lady Ormonde; and after a short time it got into my parish, and a great many outrages were committed in consequence.”—H. C., 1825, Nos. 4345-7.
The following singular mode of communication among the peasantry (like the transmission of the cross described by Sir W. Scott in the Lady of the Lake*) has been practised over a large part of Leinster and Munster during the last few years : it appears to have excited mixed sentiments of curiosity and alarm; and it is interesting, as showing the means adopted for practising on the minds of credulous, ignorant, and discontented people, though it does not appear ever to have been applied to Whiteboy purposes.
Yesterday (says Sir Hussey Vivian) I received a report from Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, Waterford, Cork, and Kildare, of quite a new proceeding, which has created a very great degree of alarm in the minds of the Protestants of those counties. It appears that strangers entered some of the towns on the 10th and 11th, in the middle of the night, either with pieces of lighted turf, parcels of powder, lighted sticks, or pieces of brown paper; those they gave to the Catholics, and told them they were charms against the cholera, or that some of the neighbouring towns had been destroyed by fire from heaven, and that they would be burned if they did not give the charm, in some instances, to four other Catholics, and those to whom it was given were to do the same to others, until the whole Catholic population had received the blessed turf: this set the whole population in motion; they were running in all direc
* See Note 1 to Canto III.
tions without waiting to dress, and they appeared to be inspired with indescribable zeal in serving the stipulated number; some had many miles to travel. This will be fully inquired into, but I despair of getting at the originators of the affair : my belief is, that the object was to ascertain in how short a time the Catholic population could receive a summons, for the purpose of intimidation regarding tithes. I have little doubt myself it had reference to tithes, and was an experiment in order to see how soon they could convey a communication, and how rapidly they could get large bodies together ; because wherever there is a sale of tithe cattle, the manner they meet it is to assemble large bodies to intimidate the people from buying, but not to commit any outrage.”—H. C., 1832, No. 1475.
Mr. John Edge :
“ Were you in Ireland when the holy turf was sent about the country ?- I was.
“ Did you see any of it?-Yes.
“ To what extent in your neighbourhood did the thing proceed?—It went over the whole country, so far as I have learned; not only the part of the country where I lived, but extended to distant counties.
“ Had you any conversation with the persons carrying it?I had.
“ Did it appear to you that they had any understanding of what they were about, beyond warning the people against the effects of cholera ?-I cannot tell what their understanding was.
“ Do you think there was any political motive?—I do (not] think there was; I believe it was merely endeavouring to try the machinery of some further plot, to see how far it would extend.
“ Do you conceive it was to put down the cholera ?--I conceive not.
“ Did it appear to you by that means that information could be very rapidly spread through the country ?_Yes, it did, inasmuch as I have seen telegraphs along the road on the hills as I have travelled to Du lin.
“ But those were not connected with the turf-runners ?--No,
but they were intended as means to convey rapid communication.
“ Were the telegraphs erected by the persons that have been disturbing the public peace ?-I cannot say.
What effect had that holy turf on the minds of the people? - They appeared to be a good deal agitated ; and I was told by a person I conceive to be very honest and candid, that there was a deeper view in it; and I was so alarmed myself that I spoke to the army in my house to request that they would be on the alert that night.
“ Was your informant a Roman Catholic ?-Yes.
“ Had the turf been served upon that person that told you ? -Yes.”-H. C., 1832, Nos. 2981-94.
Having thus shown who are the persons concerned in the Whiteboy system, and what are the means by which it is propagated, we now proceed to explain the manner in which it is worked ; in other words, to set forth the process by which the Whiteboy code is carried into execution.
The first and most important step is to obtain possession of arms; inasmuch as without these the
peasantry can only enforce their commands by the destruction of property : death, the strongest sanction, they are scarcely able to inflict. An unarmed multitude cannot hope to carry into effect an extensive system of intimidation.
“ The people, (said Mr. Justice Moore, on the Clare Special Commission, in 1831,) by seizing of arms and getting them into their possession, provide the great means of effecting almost all these wicked acts. A disposition to seize arms has been always the characteristic of offences similar to what have been committed in this county. Therefore, the legislature has visited with the highest penalties the crime of taking arms,
when the country is in a state of disturbance. Either the taking them, or procuring them to be delivered by threats, is a capital offence, and the mere demand, without getting them at all, is a transportable offence *.”
The entering of houses and compelling people to give up their arms, or to swear that they have none, is carried on to a great extent at seasons of disturbancet. It is, however, remarkable that though the Whiteboys break into houses, and consequently have all the property contained in them at their command, they rarely take anything except arms.
• When a house is attacked and robbed of arms, (Colonel Johnson is asked,) do they ever take money?
I think latterly they have; in the first instance they certainly did not, but latterly they have assumed more the character of robbers than they formerly did.”—H. C., 1832, No. 762.
The writer of these pages was informed by a clergyman of the Established Church, resident near Athy, that one Sunday, during his absence at church, some persons came to his house and asked for arms: they were led by his wife quite peaceably through the dining room, (where there were silver forks and spoons on the table,) to his study, where she opened a glass case, in which were his arms and a purse containing some money: they took away the arms, but touched nothing else f. It has been recently stated in the newspapers,
* Proceedings under a Special Commission in Limerick and Clare, in 1831, p. 76,
† An attack on a body of police for the sake of their arms was mentioned above, p. 137. An intended attack on a yeomanry corps, near Limerick, for the same purpose, is described by Major Warburton.H. C., 1824, p. 138.
* The following is an instance of the same proceeding in the recent history of Spain. The formation of the Grand Permanent Council was the first great