« НазадПродовжити »
to pay; and therefore many tenants with long leases sublet their holdings in small portions, thus obtaining a considerable profit rent. Another, and perhaps the principal cause was this, that the possession of land having heretofore offered the only certain means of subsistence, the father looked upon his farm as a provision for his family, and subdivided it among his sons at his death; thus often dividing it into portions so small, that the whole produce would have been insufficient for the support of a family, even if there were no rent to be paid.*
* “The parent possessed of a farm, looks upon it as a means of provi“ding for his family after his decease, and consequently rarely induces “them to adopt any other than agricultural pursuits, or makes any other “provision for them than the miserable segment of a farm which he can “carve for each out of his holding, itself perhaps below the smallest size “which can give profitable occupation to a family. Each son, as he is “married, is installed on his portion of the ground, and in some cases, “even the sons-in-law receive as the dowries of their brides some share of “the farm. In vain does the landlord or agent threaten the tenant; in “vain is the erection of new houses prohibited, or the supply of turf “limited. The tenant relies on the sympathy of his class to prevent “ejectment, and on his own ingenuity to defeat the other impediments “to his favorite mode of providing for his family.
“The peculiar system adopted in most parts of Ireland in subdividing “land, adds much to the evils necessarily accompanying the existence of “holdings so minute as those which the practice of subdivision tends to ** create.
“Instead of each sub-tenant, or assignee of a portion of the farm, re“ceiving his holding in one compact lot, he obtains a part of each particu“lar quality of land, so that his tenement consists of a number of scattered “patches, each too small to be separately fenced, and exposed to the con“stant depredations of his neighbour's cattle, thus affording a fruitful
The only remedy for this great and increasing
' to re-unite several of
these minute holdings into one of reasonable size.
evil was “consolidation ;’
To effect this, it was necessary to eject many of the holders of those subdivided farms: or, in other words, to “clear the estate.” This has been a work of great difficulty, and a fertile source of outrage. The tenants have availed themselves of every means to retain possession, and have frequently succeeded by illegal combination and threats of violence. Sometimes ejectments have been effected on a large scale. (The inhabitants of whole villages have been turned adrift at once, without a home to go to, without the prospect of employment, or any certain means of subsistence.) Some few landlords, feeling bound to help those whom they have dispossessed, have procured for them other means of
“source of quarrels, and utterly preventing the possibility of the intro“duction of any improved system of husbandry. “Lord George Hill records, among other facts relating to land held in “this way, or according to the provincial term, “held in rundale,” that “one person held his farm in forty-two different patches, and at last gave “it up in despair of finding it: and that a field of half an acre was held “by twenty-two different persons. “It frequently happens that when land has been sublet or subdivided, “but one tenant is recognised by the landlord, although there are several “actual occupiers. In this case, each portion of land being responsible “for the rent of all, the industrious tenant may be forced to pay the “arrears really due by his idle partners.”—Digest of Evidence on Occupation of Land, Part I. page 419. * See Appendix X. for the remarks of the Commissioners on Occupation of Land respecting consolidation.
support, or have assisted them to emigrate to America. Others, thinking it better to pay for quiet possession than to incur the risk of outrage, have induced them to quit by the payment of a small sum of money. But unless some further care be given, to place them in a way of obtaining employment for their support, the money is soon expended, and the unfortunate people become perfectly destitute." Even in cases where the tenant, being dispossessed of his farm, receives the full value in money, he often finds it impossible to obtain another, and after some ineffectual attempts, his capital is expended, and he sinks into hopeless poverty. A case which has come under the writer's personal observation will illustrate this. The party alluded to held a farm of twenty acres in the county of Wicklow, under a lease for twenty-one years and one life, which expired seventeen years since. For two years he hoped to obtain a renewal, and repeatedly tendered his rent, which was always refused ; but, at the expiration of this period, he was served with an ejectment, and forced, very unwillingly, to quit, and the farm was added to the holding of another tenant. The agent arranged that the new tenant should give the late occupier £50 for quiet possession, to which the landlord added £50 more, and forgave him the two years' rent. The landlord even offered to pay the passage of himself and his family to America, but he preferred remaining, still hoping to obtain another farm, and being then possessed of a capital of £300. Three years were spent in ineffectual efforts to obtain a farm ; meanwhile he lived on his capital, until it gradually dwindled away, and left him, as he now is, a common day labourer. He is a sober, industrious, intelligent old man, and has brought up his children respectably.
* The following is from the report of a charitable relief committee, after investigating the circumstances of some of these ejected paupers:
“The committee further learned that some landed proprietors in the “neighbourhood, finding that the small cottiers and squatters on their “properties were incapable of cultivating their land, and being also de“sirous of relieving their estates from the burden of a pauper popula“tion, offered them money if they would give up quiet and peaceable “possession of their holdings, and pull their houses down. These offers “were generally accepted; the dwellings were destroyed, and the “wretched houseless outcasts sought refuge in the town; and when “ their money was expended, being unable to procure admission into “the union workhouse, owing to its crowded state, they were compelled “to wander about the streets, or lie in open sheds, without any means of “support. There is too much reason to believe that although some “landlords gave money, and perhaps to the full value, to their poor “tenants, to level their houses, yet that several others were by no “means so scrupulous; some of the poor squatters being very harshly “treated; advantage being taken of their absence while at work on the “roads to prostrate their dwellings, without either notice or compensa“tion, and thus, on returning from their day's work, they found them“selves deprived of a place of shelter. The numerous demolished “houses which met the eye in the neighbourhood, but too plainly indicate “that measures of a sweeping character were resorted to. Unless “something in the nature of a law of settlement be speedily adopted, “this wholesale eviction of tenantry will be certain to increase.”
The houses in which these poor people have lived are generally destroyed, to prevent others taking possession of them. The unhappy outcasts themselves, taking refuge in the nearest town, hide their distress in some cellar or low-priced room; or they build a turf cabin on the outskirts of a bog, and look for casual employment, and take “a bit of ground in con-acre” to plant with potatoes; or they squat on some mountain common, or on some rocky place near the sea, tempted by the facility of obtaining sea-weed for manuring the potato ground. The more enterprising proceed at once, before their means are exhausted, to England, where they generally contrive to make out a living by laborious employment.
For a small farmer in Ireland to sink to the condition of a labourer, is so great a fall, that he will make every effort to avoid it. The farmer almost invariably has a tolerable house and a good roof over him, and a sufficiency of potatoes at least. The labourer's cabin is too well known to need much description; a single room, with mud floor, often without window or chimney, and with a roof so ill thatched that heavy rain penetrates it. The supply of labour is much beyond the demand; there is therefore great deficiency of employment, and the wages are miserably low. In the eastern part of Ireland, and near the large cities, these wages are gene