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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 are in fact the endeavour of the small farmers, by illegal combination, to extend the tenant-right throughout Ireland. The perpetrators of these out. rages 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
* 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
“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“mity.”
office in the year 1844, but to constitute nearly one-third in the counties of Tipperary, Leitrim, Roscommon, and the King's County. These outrages occasionally, though rarely, arise from sectarian prejudice; or they are perpetrated with a view of regulating wages or rents, or of compelling the letting of land by con-acre, or of regulating its price; but in almost all cases they are more or less connected with an anxiety to retain possession of land, which, in places where it is extremely difficult to obtain employment during a large part of the year, offers the only certain means of subsistence. To lose the possession of land, to be refused ground on con-acre, is to be deprived of all means of support.” It is often a question of life and death to the unfortunate peasant. The perpetrators of these outrages are screened from justice, by the active sympathy of the labouring classes and small farmers, who consider them as supporting the cause of the poor against the rich. Murders are committed in the open day, before hundreds of spectators, and no offer of reward can procure information. If the party be arrested, it is difficult to obtain a conviction. Witnesses refuse to give evidence. Juries are often unable to agree, even where the evidence appears conclusive of the guilt of the accused. The perpetrators of a large proportion of agrarian outrages escape detection. It is evident that the insecurity of possession, for which a remedy is sought in these outrages, has a most depressing effect upon the industry of the agricultural population. “The greater portion of the occupiers of land in Ireland hold as tenants from year to year.” If, as is the practice in England, the farms were let, with suitable houses and farm buildings, with good gates and fences, and that the tenant had merely to keep the place in order, he might perhaps dispense with all security, except for the gathering in of his crop. But having to erect all buildings, to make fences and gates,f to do every thing in short which may be necessary to render the ground available as a farm, and still liable to be turned out at six months' notice, without any compensation for his improvements, it is not to be expected that he will expend much of his labour or capital, where it is uncertain how long he may be permitted to enjoy the fruits of his exertions. The Irish tenant acts in these circumstances just as an Englishman would do if in his place; he spends on his farm as little both of capital and labour as he can. The buildings are
* See Appendix A A.
* Digest of Evidence before Commissioners of Inquiry into Occupation of Land. Part I. page 234. of See Appendix W.
house of the same materials. They cost him but little, and will not be of much value to his successor. The fences are inexpensive ; the gates are make-shifts; perhaps the cart, or a turf-creel turned upside down, is run into a gap in the ditch. He never thinks of draining. The long winters are passed in idleness. If successful, he conceals his success. He pretends poverty, lest his landlord should be tempted to raise the rent. His capital is not expended on the improvement of the farm, but he tries to lay by something, perhaps hidden in a hole in the thatch, to enable him, if dispossessed, to get another. It is true that there are many proprietors of land, who would not take advantage of such improvements on the part of a tenant, in order to raise his rent; but a very few instances to the contrary are sufficient to shake confidence and paralyse exertion.
[It has been already stated that more than half the farms in Ireland are under five acres. Various causes have combined to produce this. The desire to create voters, in order to increase the parliamentary interest of the landlord, had considerable effect, so long as a lease for lives, giving the lessee an interest of forty shillings per annum, conferred the franchise. Higher rents could also be obtained for these small farms, than large farmers were willing