Gambar halaman

pute with his brother. Two more remained at his door as a watch.”—Papers relating to the State of Ireland, 1834, pp. 28, 29.

With reference to the facility of committing the Whiteboy crimes, Mr. Blacker

says“ The most usual crimes are burning houses, houghing cattle, and sending threatening notices. Now the misfortune is, that all those crimes are easily committed without detection; the party runs out at night with a coal in a kettle; it is not visible ; he puts it into the thatch, and runs away again; so in like manner with houghing cattle and with threatening notices. If there was every disposition on the part of the people, it would be very difficult to prevent those crimes; it would be impossible almost to prevent them; and there are other descriptions of crimes which are capable of detection at the time, such as murder and robbery, and carrying off a distress, flogging and punishing people who are obnoxious to them : all these are offences which are not in their nature secret; but unfortunately, from the state of the country, fear prevents the possibility of that detection ; persons are afraid to give information when they do see persons engaged in any of those last-mentioned acts of violence.”—H. C., 1824, p. 80.

When a country is in the state just described, terror reigns everywhere: the upper classes fortify their houses, and rarely go abroad except with arms; the farmers, and a large part of the poorer classes, unable to protect themselves, except by submission, live in a state of continual apprehension. The following statements will serve to give some idea of this miserable state of insecurity.

Mr. Blacker.

“ Have not the gentry of the country suffered much in consequence, by being obliged to remain in-doors after dark ?Certainly; some gentlemen's houses are dark all day almost ;

all the houses were barricadoed in some part of the house ; the barricadoes being necessarily of a heavy description, it is inconvenient to move them ; in some houses, they had but one sitting-room in the house where the light was admissible at all in the day-time, and not all the windows even of that room; the barricadoes, which were bullet-proof, were of course of a considerable thickness.

“ Have you known any instances, in the county of Cork, of gentlemen having their houses so barricadoed, and also feeling it necessary to have sentries upon their premises in the daytime? Yes."-H. C., 1824, p. 75.

Mr. Griffith :-

“ Will you describe the general state of the habitations of the middle gentry of that district, with respect to precaution ?The whole of the lower windows of the houses were nearly built


with stone and lime mortar. “ How were the doors secured ?-Bolted with very large wooden bolts. “ The Catholic, as well as Protestant ?-Just the same.

Throughout that district?—Yes; particularly that part of the country situated between Mallow and Limerick.”-H. C., 1824, p. 232.

Mr. Blacker, in reference to the county of Tipperary in 1822:

“ Was there at that time, amongst the higher and middling classes, a general apprehension of danger ?—Very great, particularly in the parts bordering on the county of Limerick.

“ Did this apprehension appear to you to be well founded ? -Certainly; I found some of the gentlemen's houses barricadoed, and guards about them during the night, and the greater part of the day; fire-arms in the bed room of every person,

even upon

the side-table at breakfast and dinnertime.”-H. L., 1824, p. 14.

After what has been said, it is only necessary to state simply, that these crimes are all committed solely

for the purpose of giving pain; that they are meant to be the sanction of a code of unwritten law set by the class of cottiers and agricultural labourers. The following statements of Mr. Justin M Carty, of the county of Cork, explain this in a few words.

“ Were the houses or haggards of many persons of that description attacked during the disturbances?—There were a great many in different parts of the country, and several in that district to which I immediately belong.

“ What was the alleged cause of attack in those cases ?Their not complying with the orders of the disturbers of the country.

“ Of what nature were those orders ?-They were of different descriptions: ordering them not to take ground, or to give up ground they possessed; ordering them not to turn out labourers, according as it suited, in fact, the individual fancy or the peculiar feeling of the individual.”—H. L., 1824, p. 207.

. In this respect the Whiteboy outrages differ essentially from ordinary crimes. The object of a common thief is to abstract property, not only without giving pain, but even without attracting notice. He wishes to profit without running the risk of detection ; and if the party plundered, not only does not feel, but is not even conscious of his loss, so much the better is it for the thief. The Whiteboy, on the other hand, in most cases reaps no individual gain ; and his direct and only purpose (except when he takes arms) is to inflict pain on the party attacked, either in his person or through his property.

Another characteristic of Whiteboy offences is, that they are specially directed against the individual who is the subject of them; an ordinary theft is directed against a man's property, not against himself; whereas a Whiteboy destroys property solely in order to injure

the proprietor. In the former case the injury to the individual is incidental; in the other it is the sole object of the crime. Even a robber who uses violence to effect his purpose, or a burglar who kills a man in order to prevent him giving alarm, has no ill-will against the individual: he would much prefer obtaining the property without being forced to use threats or destroy life.

The condition of the Irish peasantry is quite unlike a state of society in which thieving is not thought ill of; such as that which prevailed among the ancient Greeks, and in some barbarous nations on the confines of Greece in the time of Thucydides * ; among the Arabs of the Desert, and among the Borderers of England and Scotland. The latter were a set of outlaws, who formed almost a separate community of freebooters, were subject to a peculiar jurisdiction appointed to control them, practised no regular industry, and depended on plunder for their subsistence. Their hand was against every man, and every man's hand was against them. Hence, when caught, their doom, as Walter Scott says, was sharp and short t; they were hanged on the next tree, or drowned in the next water. Nevertheless, they made it a rule not to provoke more hostility than was absolutely necessary for their purpose ; and hence they were extremely careful not to shed blood, while they laid violent hands on every kind of property which they could carry off 1. The White

* I. 5.

fo Border Antiquities, in his Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 109.

“But I return to our Dalesmen or Borderers, in whom, though some things are to be noticed to their dispraise, yet there are others to be greatly admired; for most of them, when determined upon seeking their supply

boys, on the other hand, are not distinguishable from the rest of the community; their object, like that of the secret tribunals of Westphalia, is to strike in secret, but with effect; they do not seek plunder in the individual case, but to enforce a law for the general advantage of the poor ; consequently, if they meddle with property, it is to destroy it, in order to inflict pain and to give an example to others, not to take it for themselves; and if this is not sufficient, they kill without mercy.

And so far are they from relying on plunder for a livelihood, that their violences are committed in order to perpetuate a state of things, in which they shall be able to live by regular industry.

When the Whiteboy system is in such a state of activity as has been just described, the intimidation is complete ; a general terror pervades all classes; and it is less dangerous to disobey the law of the state than the law of the insurgent.

Mr. James Lawler, resident in Kerry.

“ You have stated that the people do not feel the protection of the law; will you be good enough to state to the Committee what their feelings and notions are with regard to the law ?—When they see that persons, notorious instigators, and persons who terrify them publicly; when they see them come among them again, freed from all responsibility of law, they exclaim, What are they to do?

“ That is, you mean by instigators, the persons who have from the plunder of the neighbouring districts, use the greatest possible precaution not to shed the blood of those that oppose them; for they have a persuasion that all property is common by the law of nature, and is therefore liable to be appropriated by them in their necessity, but that murder and other injuries are prohibited by the divine law.”—Leslæus de Origine, Moribus et Rebus gestis Scotorum, cited by W. Scott. Essay on Border Antiquities, App. ii. Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 146.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »