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in the country must be more or less obnoxious, at a period when the greater number of tenants refused to pay any rent, and consequently they were not certain that their houses might not be attacked.
“ You have drawn a great distinction between a person that has any thing to do with land and a person engaged in commerce and manufacture ?-A great one; a person engaged in commerce or manufacture is generally a favourite with the people.”—H. C., 1824, pp. 230, 231, 233.
Mr. Frankland Lewis remarks :
“ When disturbances exist in Ireland, the persons who are active in them have settled objects in view, which are generally well known, and the character of them distinctly ascertained ; and it does not appear to me, I never have been able to observe, that a wanton destruction of manufactories has ever formed a part of the objects of those persons who have been active in committing the outrages which are committed in Ireland. If the manufacturers were likely to have collections of grain driven for rent in their premises, I should expect to see them on fire ; but I never heard that the establishment at Bandon was exposed to the slightest hazard; and I do not myself believe that any manufactory in the south part of Ireland would be exposed to more than casual or accidental danger, when disturbances occurred of which we are unhappily in the habit of hearing; and my opinion is, that the persons employed in manufactories will soon find out the fact; and that if they find that they can employ labourers with advantage, they will soon find that they can employ them with security.”—H. L., 1825,
pp. 35, 36.
“ The traveller (says Mr. Inglis) need be under no apprehension in any part of Ireland. Irish outrages are never committed upon strangers ; and however strong the disposition may be among the peasantry of Ireland to oppose the law and screen delinquents, I do not believe an outrage committed on a stranger and a traveller would receive anything but condemnation from all classes *.”
* Tour in Ireland, vol. ii., p. 92.
This conduct is an additional proof that the Whiteboys act with a settled and limited object, and that however ready they may be to resort to extreme measures in order to accomplish that purpose, they put a restraint
themselves in other respects, even when the means of gratifying themselves are in their power. For the most part, indeed, the conservative feeling, which we have above described, presides over the worst excesses of the Whiteboys: but when the country has been long and seriously disturbed, and the habit of submission to the government has been weakened by a considerable interruption, then the people begin to prey on one another, and the country begins to taste some of the horrors of the anarchy, of which the sack of a captured town affords a complete exemplification.
" When once the people (says Mr. J. Jebb, in charging the grand jury of Limerick) have indulged in this career, the effects are visited on persons of their own classes, and are not confined to persons of the upper ranks of society, against whom they were first directed, and who were the original objects of their hostility. These crimes, under which so many of themselves suffer, become general throughout the country; the bad passions of the heart-revenge of the slightest injury, the indulgence of the animal propensities of our nature—become frequent at the slightest temptation ; and the consequence is, that in those parts of the country where such a system has prevailed, homicide is frequent at fairs and all public meetings under the most trivial provocation; abduction of females who offer any temptation either of fortune or personal charms; the violation of the persons of females, whether married or single, becomes frequent and general throughout the country. Gentlemen, the consequences of such a state of things are not confined to the upper ranks of society, against whom those outrages were originally directed, but they recoil on the unfortunate people themselves with tenfold violence; and poverty, distress,
want, aggravated famine, disease ripening into pestilencethese are the sure consequences of such a dreadful state of society, and are as inevitable as, in the progress of nature, cause produces effect *.”
Nevertheless even when the disturbances are at their worst, there is never so complete a subversion of law, or so frightful a demoralization, as accompanies an insurrection of slaves : such, for example, as is described by ancient historians to have prevailed in Sicily during the Servile Wart, or such as, at a more recent period, has occurred in St. Domingo. The Whiteboys, even when masters of the country, seem always to pre
* Proceedings under Limerick and Clare Special Commission, 1831,
opo Diodorus, Fragm. lib. xxxvi., gives the following striking account of the horrors produced in his native country by this slave rebellion :
“ Not only (he says) did the revolted slaves ravage the island, but those persons in the country who had no landed property betook themselves to plunder and lawlessness. Numbers of these, reckless from their poverty, marched in bands over the country, driving away the cattle and sheep, and plundering the grain stored up in the homesteads: all persons whom these parties fell in with, whether freemen or slaves, they at once put to death, in order that no one might give information of their violence and excesses. The Roman authorities having ceased to administer justice, there was a complete anarchy: and all men having irresponsible power inflicted many and grievous wrongs on each other : in every place rapine lorded it over the possessions of the rich. Those who had hitherto been the first in power and wealth in each city, now, from this sudden reverse of fortune, not only were stript of their property by the slaves, but were compelled to endure in patience the insults and contumelies of the citizens. Hence no one considered anything as his own except what was within the city walls; whatever was without the walls they looked upon as lost, and swept away in the universal licence. And in general throughout the community there was a complete subversion of all legal rights: for the revolted slaves, having got possession of the open country, made every place inaccessible, being eager to take revenge on their masters, and not yet satiated with their unexpected good fortune: while those slaves who were within the walls being unsettled in their minds, and looking out with anxiety for the moment of deliverance, were most formidable to their masters."
serve a certain degree of self-restraint, and the excesses unconnected with their object into which they may degenerate are rather the work of scattered individuals, than the result of a general and wide-spreading licence.
Such then is the system by which the Whiteboys carry their law into execution; such are the sanctions by which they enforce their commands. As however the means which they use for administering their own law are in every case a contravention of the criminal law of the state, it becomes necessary to take measures for nullifying this law, and for preventing the punishers from being themselves punished in their turn. For this, the most arduous part of their proceedings, a whole series of precautions and exertions are employed : it is easy to commit a crime, but the difficulty is to avoid detection, conviction, and punishment for it. At first sight it might seem that a poor, an ignorant, and an unorganized peasantry would wage a very unequal war with a Government having almost unlimited resources at its command ; it is however remarkable to what an extent they have been successful in this struggle.
In the first place it is to be remarked that the Whiteboys find in their favour already existing a general and settled hatred of the law among the great body of the peasantry. The Irish peasant has been accustomed to look upon the law as an engine for oppressing and coercing him, administered by hostile persons, and in a hostile spirit * This has arisen from
* Rev. John Keily:
“ I believe it was a pretty general feeling among the common people in Ireland, that there was little justice to be had for them; in fact, I conceive it to be one of the greatest blessings that Ireland can obtain, an equal
the unfortunate religious and civil distinctions in Ireland, and from the other causes, tending to alienate the upper and lower classes, which have been explained in a former chapter. He has been accustomed to look upon himself as the object of general persecution ; • the world has not been his friend nor the world's law:' and he has sought for protection from illegal combination against legal oppression. The extent to which the hatred of the law and the sympathy with criminals are carried in Ireland, is so great as to be scarcely credible to persons who have lived in a country where the mass of the community feel that their interests are on the side of the established order of things. I have heard it remarked by persons engaged in the administration of criminal justice in Ireland, that the bystanders will hear with calm indifference the prosecutor's account of the most brutal assault and of the severest wounds and injuries inflicted on him: but when the jury have found their verdict, and the court proceeds to pass sentence on the prisoner, a thrill of pity and sympathy runs through the auditory. A singular instance of this feeling (which came to the author's knowledge in Ireland) was the conduct of a labourer, in the county of Tipperary, who, unable to obtain employment in his own neighbourhood, changed
distribution of justice to all classes there. I do not here make distinction of classes as it regards religion, but I mean the poor and the rich. It was formerly an Irish adage, that a word in the court was better than a pound in the purse. It is an Irish phrase, the idea that nothing was to to be done but through interest, I will not say bribery. But, that a word in the court was better than a pound in the purse, is a phrase almost in every person's mouth in the country whence I came.
“ What circumstances induced them to entertain those opinions ?-A general feeling that might was more powerful than law and right in Ireland.”—H. C., 1825, p. 397.