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least. Such were some of the wise provisions of that plantation or colonizing with Scotch or English, which, whatever may have been its humanity or justice towards the original owners, has certainly resulted in producing in Ulster an industrious and enterprising population, which will bear a fair comparison with the best parts of England. There is a spirit of industry and independence among the peasantry, and an energy in the manufacturing and commercial classes, superior to any other part of Ireland. The farmers, small and large, are more thrifty and more desirous to improve their farms, than elsewhere. Education is more widely diffused, and the amount of social comfort is greater than in most other parts of Ireland. The provision against absenteeism may not fully have attained the intended object, but it has certainly secured a considerable number of resident proprietors.
There is one most striking peculiarity, which prevails in many of the counties of Ulster—the custom of tenant-right,—respecting which the following extract is quoted from the report of the commissioners for inquiry into the occupation of land :
“ Under the influence of this custom, the tenant “ claims, and generally exercises, a right to dispose “ of his holding for a valuable consideration, al" though he may himself be a tenant-at-will, and
" although he may have expended nothing in per“ manent improvements. We found that in various “ parts of that province, sums equal to ten, twelve, " or fifteen years' purchase upon the rent, are “ commonly given for the tenant-right; and this “ not only when the rent is considered low, but “ when it is fully equal to the value.
“ Anomalous as this custom is, if considered with " reference to all ordinary notions of property, it “ must be admitted, that the district in which it “ prevails has thriven and improved, in comparison “ with other parts of the country."*
This custom has probably resulted from that article of the terms of settlement, by which the undertakers were restrained from demising their lands to tenants-at-will, joined to the independent character of a tenantry, who knew and were determined to maintain their rights. The first tenants, it is natural to suppose, were promised leases in accordance with the terms of the plantation. They must have incurred the whole or great part of the expense of the buildings and other necessary improvements, and they naturally claimed the right to hold undisturbed possession so long as they paid their rent duly ; and to bequeath it to their heirs, or dispose of it by sale to others.
• Par. Rep. 1845, vol. xix. page 14.
The landlord appears to have prudently consented to this claim, requiring all arrears of rent to be paid, and that the new tenant should be approved of by him. This custom appears somewhat analogous to the copyhold tenure in England, of which Blackstone says, that it " was in its original and foun“ dation nothing better than a mere estate at will." “ Yet that will is qualified, restrained, and limited, “ to be exerted according to the custom of the “ manor. This custom being suffered to grow up by " the lord, is looked upon as the evidence and inter“ preter of his will : his will is no longer arbitrary “ and precarious, but fixed and ascertained by the “ custom to be the same, and no other, that has 6 time out of mind been exercised and declared by “his ancestors.” “A copyhold tenant is therefore “ now full as properly a tenant by the custom, as " a tenant-at-will, the custom having arisen from a " series of uniform wills.”
Whether a court of law would adjudge to the tenant where this custom of tenant-right prevails, the same legal estate enjoyed by a copyholder in England, is questionable. Probably the case may never be disputed at law. Large sums of money have been invested in permanent buildings and other valuable improvements, without any other security. The landlords, if from no higher principle, are compelled to recognize it by the fear
of outrage. It can scarcely be touched with impunity. Any serious attempt, where the custom has generally prevailed, would create a Tipperary in Down or Armagh ; and to quote the words of John Hancock, agent to Lord Lurgan, as given in evidence before the commissioners, “ if systematic “ efforts were made amongst the proprietors of “ Ulster to invade tenant-right, I do not believe “ there is force at the disposal of the Horseguards “ sufficient to keep the peace of the province.” It may safely be asserted that a successful attempt, which should deprive the tenantry of their present security of possession, would quickly check improvement, and reduce the people of Ulster to a level with the rest of Ireland, as regards industry and respect for the laws.
The custom of tenant-right naturally connects itself with agrarian outrages,* a portion of which
* Extract from Reports of Commissioners of Inquiry into Occupation of Land in Ireland (Reports, 1845, vol. xix. p. 42) :
"In Tipperary for a long time past, and in some other counties more “ recently, there has prevailed a system of lawless violence, which has “ led in numerous instances to the perpetration of cold-blooded murders.
“ These are generally acts of revenge for some supposed injury inflict“ed upon the party who commits or instigates the commission of the “ outrage.
“But the notions entertained of injury in such cases, are regulated “ by a standard fixed by the will of the most lawless and unprincipled “ members of the community.
" If a tenant is removed, even after repeated warnings, from land “ which he has neglected or misused, he is looked upon, in the districts
are in fact the endeavour of the small farmers, by illegal combination, to extend the tenant-right throughout Ireland. The perpetrators of these outrages are generally the sons of small farmers or the farm servants. They have not succeeded in inducing the landlords in the three southern provinces to recognize the right; but they have been able, in many districts, to compel a payment on the part of the incoming tenant, under the name of purchasing the good-will. The amount paid is by no means so large as in those parts of Ulster where it is sanctioned by long usage. It may rather be considered as a payment for the sake of quiet pos. session, the amount of which depends very much on the turbulence of the district, and the desperation of the former tenant. Outrages of this character appear to be nearly one-sixth of the whole number specially reported to the constabulary
“to which we are now referring, as an injured man, and the decree too often ' goes out for vengeance upon the landlord or the agent, and upon the “ man who succeeds to the farm ; and at times, a large numerical pro“ portion of the neighbourhood look with indifference upon the most “ atrocious acts of violence, and by screening the criminal, abet and “ encourage the crime. Murders are perpetrated at noon-day on a pub“ lic highway, and whilst the assassin coolly retires, the people look on, “ and evince no horror at the bloody deed.
" The whole nature of Christian men appears, in such cases, to be “ changed, and the one absorbing feeling as to the possession of land, “ stifles all others, and extinguishes the plainest principles of huma“nity."