« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
disturbances ; and 2nd, their character and objects, the means used for accomplishing these objects, and the effects produced by them; and lastly, to inquire what measures are likely to prevent their recurrence.
CAUSES OF DISTURBANCES IN IRELAND.
In order to ascertain the causes of the local disturbances which have now prevailed in Ireland to a greater or less extent for more than seventy years, it is necessary to consider the state of the occupying tenantry and the labouring classes in that country, at the time when these disturbances began.
The treatment of the native Irish, as an incurably barbarous race, before the Reformation, and the various civil wars and confiscations which took place after the Reformation, had, at the period of the Revolution, when King William's power was finally established in Ireland, so completely broken up the framework of society, and so loosened men's notions as to the obligations of law and morality, that it would have been a difficult task for the wisest and most beneficient government to raise the mass of the Irish people to the general level of European civilization. Instead, however, of attempting a course of policy which, if it did not effect everything, was at least sure of partial success, the Government, alarmed at the strength of the Pretender's party, and acting on the persecuting maxims which were then still current in Europe, introduced the penal code against the Catholics, and treated the majority of the Irish people as outlaws. According to this system (which has to a greater or less extent been acted on nearly up to the present day) every Irish Catholic was presumed to be disaffected to the
State, and was treated as an open or concealed rebel: the entire government was carried on by the Protestants and for their benefit *; and the Protestants were considered as the only link between England and Ireland. The English thought it for their interest that Ireland should belong to them, and they supported the Irish Protestants in oppressing the Irish Catholics t, who, it was assumed, without that oppression would throw themselves into the arms of France. At the same time that a wide and impassable line was drawn by the law between the two religions in Ireland, and the one persuasion was made a privileged, the other an inferior class, the whole of Ireland was treated as a province or colony, whose interests were to be sacrificed to those of the mother-country. Hence arose the restrictions on Irish commerce, on the exportation of corn, cattle, and woollen goods,-avowedly for the benefit of Englandt. A system of government administered in this
* See the passages from Berkeley's Querist, cited in Mackintosh's Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy, p. 211, 8vo. ed.
t“ It seems (says Mr. Hallam, in his able sketch of the History of Ireland) as if the connexion of the two islands, and the whole system of constitutional laws in the lesser, subsisted only for the sake of securing the privileges and emoluments of a small number of ecclesiastics, frequently strangers, who performed no duties, and rendered no sort of return for their enormous monopoly." Constitut. Hist. of England, c. 18. Such was doubtless the effect of the system ; but such was not the object of the English Government in establishing it. They looked only to their own interests, and imagined that the subjection of Ireland to England could only be maintained by giving a monopoly of power to the Protestants of the Established Church,
An amusing instance of the feeling that Ireland was to be sacrificed to England is mentioned by the author of the Commercial Restraints of Ireland, p. 125. In 1698 two petitions were presented to the English House of Commons from the fishermen of Folkstone and Aldborough, stating that they were injured “ by the Irish catching herrings at Waterford and Wexford, and sending them to the Straits, and thereby forestalling and ruining petitioners' markets."
spirit, and in a country where the people were already in a state of great rudeness and disorder, necessarily led to the degradation and demoralizing of the bulk of the population.
The relation between landlord and tenant was affected in two ways by the treatment which Ireland had experienced from England. In the first place, the large grants of land which the Government had, at different times, made to Englishmen, naturally led to the nonresidence of many of the chief landed proprietors ; inasmuch as Englishmen, who had also large estates in England, naturally preferred living in the land of their birth, which, moreover, was nearer the seat of Government, was in a more civilized and better cultivated state, and was, in general, a more agreeable place of residence. These persons were forced to manage their Irish estates by agents; or, more frequently, they were tempted to let them in large portions to middlemen, who then divided the land into small holdings, and sub-let it to the occupying tenantry*. In the second
* There is a close analogy between the letting of absentee property in Ireland to middlemen, and the management of the government by undertakers. Certain persons made a bargain with the Government, that they would be answerable for a majority in both houses, and for the coercion of the people, if a certain number of appointments were placed at their disposal. The Government, by this proceeding, secured the submission of Ireland, but lost the advantage of a large part of its own patronage, and moreover was occasionally compelled to be a quiet spectator of the most frightful injustice. (See Lord Chesterfield's Miscellaneous Works, vol. ii. pp. 499–500. Compare p. 512.) In like manner an absentee landed proprietor, unable to manage his own estate, and unwilling to trust an agent, let it to a middleman at a rate which left him the power of making a large profit rent; and who, having no permanent interest in the estate, oppressed the miserable cottier tenants without mercy. In this manner the landlord secured a man who undertook for the property ; but he lost the difference between the rent paid by the occupying tenants and the rent paid by the middleman; and he prevented the possibility of a respectable tenantry being ever formed on his property.
place, the landlord, if resident and an Irishman, was almost invariably a Protestant, as Catholics were incapacitated from holding land: and as in the three southern provinces nearly all the occupying tenants were Catholic, the landlord exercised over his tenant not only that influence which a creditor necessarily exercises over his debtor, but also that power which the law gave to the Protestant over the Catholic, to the magistrate and grand juror over the suspected rebel*.
In these two ways all friendly connexion between the landlord and the tenant of the soil was broken : either the landlord was at a distance, and was represented by an oppressive, grasping middleman, or, if on the spot, he was the member of a dominant and privileged caste, who was as much bound by his official duties as he was prompted by the opinion of his order, by the love of power, and by the feeling of irresponsi
* John O'Drischol, Esq.:
:-“ Has not the conduct of the magistrates very much contributed to alienate the people from the law, and to make them dissatisfied and violent in their conduct?—No doubt it has; but I consider the conduct of the magistrates as growing very much out of the state of the laws with respect to Catholic and Protestant; the magistrates have long been used to treat the Catholic people as if they were an inferior class; the law so far has spoiled the magistrates; and it has spoiled most of the upper class of Protestants as much as it has the Roman Catholics; it has converted the one into a class of petty tyrants, and the other into a class of slaves.
“ You mean, that being called upon to administer those laws and the privileges conferred by them, have induced the magistrates to form notions unfit for their stations in society with respect to their conduct towards the lower orders ?-I think the superiority which they suppose themselves to enjoy as Protestants, has induced them to treat the lower class of Catholics with less justice than they would otherwise have done.
Was it not common for the Irish Parliament to pass resolutions or take other steps in order to compel the magistrates to enforce with rigour the old penal statutes ?--Yes, I have heard and read to that effect." Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1824, p. 383. See also Edin: burgh Review, vol. xli, p. 368.
bility, to oppress, degrade, and trample on his Catholic tenants. Hence it was impossible that the different classes of society should be shaded into one another; that the rich should pass into the poor by that insensible gradation which is found in England; or that the amicable relations should ever be formed between landlord and tenant, which (with temporary and partial exceptions) have subsisted for some centuries in the latter country, to its great and manifest advantage. The sharp separation of the upper and lower ranks, the degradation of the peasantry, their ignorance, poverty, recklessness, and turbulence, were as necessarily the consequences of the system pursued in Ireland, as the comparative comfort of the labourer, the occupation of the land by a respectable tenantry, the general tranquillity of the agricultural population, and the gradual passage of the richer into the poorer ranks, were the consequences of the system pursued in England. Any person who had attentively studied the state of society in England and Ireland at the opening of the eighteenth century might, without any remarkable gift of political prophecy, or without hazarding any rash conjecture, have foretold the respective destinies of the agricultural population in either country.
Arthur Young, who travelled in Ireland in 1776 and the following year, appears to have been much struck with the difference between the relation of landlord and tenant in England and in Ireland; and in describing the wretched condition of the latter, he makes use of expressions which might be thought hyperbolical, if they had not proceeded from a dry matter of fact writer on the details of husbandry.
“ It must be very apparent to every traveller through that