Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

6

to me to demand money. The prisoner repeated, that it would be a great deal better to comply, went away, and proceeded to raise the other sums he had assessed from the different persons in the country, a list of whose names he showed at the time, and promised to call again, Mr. Miller having mentioned he was an officer in the army, and that his subscribing to such a'fund would involve him in difficulty. And what think you, Gentlemen, the very hour at which the judges were passing through Meelick Turnpike-gate, from Limerick, to open this Commission, he did again call on Mr. Miller. He was then in a considerably hurry. Hurry, hurry,' says he to Mr. Miller, several of the Ladies are at my house waiting.' Miller said he had mislaid the key of his desk; on which the prisoner said, 'Is that the answer I am to give to the Ladies ?' This is only one instance in which this man attempted thus to levy money. There are no less than fifteen who can be

produced, to whom similar visits were paid. He went from house to house, in a most impudent manner, and in the name and under the authority of this Lady Alt, levied contributions from the king's subjects. On the 13th of the present month, the police constables went to his house, and there found the list of the assessments and contributions. The man is now indicted for a transportable offence, of demanding money, by menaces and threats*.”

The subjoined testimonies refer to the Queen's County :

W. W. Despard, Esq.

“ Were there subscriptions raised for the defence of the persons tried ?-Yes, it was done openly.

To what description of persons did they apply?—They applied to all the farmers; they went to the farmers in my neighbourhood, and asked for money to defend their brothers in gaol.

“ Was it done in daylight ?—Yes, in the middle of the day.

* Clare and Limerick Special Commission, p. 162-4.

“ Was it made in a sort of way to be connected with any threat?--If they were refused, they would look at the man and say, 'Mind that.'

“ That was an intimation that the result of the refusal would be some sort of punishment and injury ? - Yes.

“ In this way they actually succeeded in raising a large sum of money for the defence of the prisoners ?-Yes.

“ In what way were they defended ; did the defence exhibit much expense ?-I believe the counsel were very well feed.

“How many counsel were employed in a case ?-Sometimes three, but generally two.

“ Was the trial conducted with every sort of advantage to the person charged, as far as money could provide for legal defence ?-I should think so.”—H. C., 1832, Nos. 538-46.

M. Singleton, Esq. :

“ Are you aware that the Whitefeet have a treasurer and a fund ?—Yes, I am; and I believe they have forcibly levied money for the defence of the different prisoners that were tried at the Special Commission.

“ Are you aware who the person is that is the treasurer ?I heard the name of a certain person who came from the town of Carlow, and attended during the Commission; and the report alleged that he was the treasurer, and that he paid a large sum of money for the prisoners' defence.

“ Do you believe that to be true?-I do*.” -H. C., 1832, Nos. 4085-7.

Having thus set forth at length the proceedings of the Whiteboys, when their system is in activity, it only remains to observe, that we are not to suppose that its influence ceases when the disturbances are no longer at their height, and when the country has passed from insurrection to a state of comparative tran

* Mr. O'Leary mentions that, so early as 1786, the Rightboys “col

in two or three places for the support of their confederates who were in gaol.”—Defence, p. 54.

lected money

quillity. At the present moment, in Ireland, many parts of the country are only tranquil because there is no need for disturbance. Whiteboyism reigns triumphant. It does not put forth its strength, because it has beat down all opposition. There is no need for applying the punishment where there is no disobedience. The country is tranquil ; but in many parts it is (as was once remarked in reference to this subject) the tranquillity of a barrel of gunpowder. If any person imagines that the Whiteboy code is abrogated, whenever outrages are not daily committed, let him ask the Tipperary or Limerick landlord to what extent he is a free agent in the letting of his land, and what would be the probable duration of the life of a new tenant who violated the Whiteboy rules. If such an inquirer finds the regulations of this system universally obeyed, he will admit, that the more effectual the penal system, the rarely are its penalties actually inflicted.

FACTIONS.

There are certain local parties among the peasantry, in a large part of Ireland, but especially in Munster and Connaught, usually known by the name of factions, which have been already mentioned as increasing the disposition, or at least the opportunity for disturbance*. “Have not local factions, in some places (Mr. Justice Day is asked), contributed to the disturbances ?-Yes (he says), in some places ; in the dark and more uncivilized parts of the country. It is a remnant of the old barbarous Irish system of clanship, which still continues

* See above, p. 179.

in practice. In the county of Tipperary that spirit has exhibited itself in frightful disorders and turbulence*.”

On account of this connexion, we shall now offer a brief explanation of these peasant factions.

There are two opposite principles in regard to the political union, which, like antagonist muscles, draw men in different directions, and both of which are manifested in what has been termed party spirit. The one is the separating principle, which induces men to distrust, to fear, to hate, to threaten, to use force against their fellows; the other is the combining principle, which induces them, for the sake of security, to form an association with their fellows, having its peculiar name and distinctive marks: the one is the principle which binds a man to his party, the other is that which repels him from all who are not of his party. In general, the intensity of one of these feelings also increases the intensity of the other: the more strongly a man is attached to his party, the greater is his dislike of his opponents; the more vehemently a man hates the adverse party, the more closely does he cling to his

One of the chief elements in the progress of civilization is the extension of men's sympathies to a more numerous body of their fellows, the enlargement of (what in a general sense we have termed) their party. At the beginning, society is composed of a number of small collections of families, called either clans, or tribes, or villages, in which each man's sympathies are confined to his own little confederacy, without extending to the larger union of the state. The next step is, for a man to sympathize with his class ; a poor man, for example, only cares for the poor, and a

* H. L., 1825, p. 532.

own.

rich man only for the rich. A further advance is, when a man sympathizes with his party, whether political or religious, as this comprehends persons of all ranks in society. A still higher and rarer ascent is, when a man desires the good of the whole civil community, and when not only his words or his reason, but even his affections, are turned to the general weal. This last is what is termed public spirit. Lastly, a man may rise above exclusive patriotism, and may seek to promote the interests of mankind at large.

Now the Irish factions mark a state of feeling which has not yet made the first step, which has not risen from sympathy with one's clan, to sympathy with one's order. In a large part of the south and west of Ireland it often happens that, when a quarrel upon some trifling ground arises among the peasantry, two parties are formed in the neighbourhood, each of which assumes a distinctive name, and a feud is established between them, which breaks out into open violence when they meet at fairs and markets. In these encounters they fight with as much fury as if they were waging a real war. The two parties hate one another with as hearty good-will as Athens hated Megara, or as Florence hated Pisa. Although the Whiteboys' union is for the protection of a class, there are hatreds among the factions contained in that class, just as vehement as the Whiteboys as a body bear against landjobbers. There is, however, this difference, that the hatred of the Whiteboys against land-jobbers is cool and lasting, and leads to premeditated assassination ; whereas the faction fights only occur when the blood is up, and the homicides occasioned by them are mostly unpremeditated. The following detailed statement of

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »