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Title: Paddy at Home ("Chez Paddy")

Author: baron de E. Mandat-Grancey

Release date: June 5, 2021 [eBook #65514]

Language: English



E-text prepared by deaurider, Martin Pettit,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See










Dr. J. COLLIS BROWNE’S CHLORODYNE.—Dr. J. C. BROWNE (late Army Medical Staff) DISCOVERED a REMEDY to denote which he coined the word CHLORODYNE. Dr. Browne is the SOLE INVENTOR, and, as the composition of Chlorodyne cannot possibly be discovered by Analysis (organic substances defying elimination), and since the formula has never been published, it is evident that any statement to the effect that a compound is identical with Dr. Browne’s Chlorodyne must be false.

This Caution is necessary, as many persons deceive purchasers by false representations.

DR. J. COLLIS BROWNE’S CHLORODYNE.—Vice Chancellor Sir W. PAGE WOOD stated publicly in Court that Dr. J. COLLIS BROWNE was UNDOUBTEDLY the INVENTOR of CHLORODYNE, that the whole story of the defendant Freeman was deliberately untrue, and he regretted to say it had been sworn to.—See The Times, July 13th, 1864.

GENERAL BOARD of HEALTH, London, REPORT that it ACTS as a CHARM, one dose generally sufficient.

Dr. GIBBON, Army Medical Staff, Calcutta, states: “2 DOSES COMPLETELY CURED ME of DIARRHŒA.”

From Symes & Co., Pharmaceutical Chemists, Simla. Jan. 5, 1880.

To J. T. Davenport, London.

Dear Sir,—We congratulate you upon the widespread reputation this justly-esteemed medicine has earned for itself all over the East. As a remedy of general utility, we much question whether a better is imported, and we shall be glad to hear of its finding a place in every Anglo-Indian home. The other brands, we are happy to say, are now relegated to the native bazaars, and, judging from their sale, we fancy their sojourn there will be but evanescent. We could multiply instances ad infinitum of the extraordinary efficacy of DR. COLLIS BROWNE’S CHLORODYNE in Diarrhœa and Dysentery, Spasms, Cramps, Neuralgia the Vomiting of Pregnancy, and as a general sedative, that have occurred under our personal observation during many years. In Choleraic Diarrhœa, and even in the more terrible forms of Cholera itself, we have witnessed its surprisingly controlling power.

We have never used any other form of this medicine than Collis Browne’s, from a firm conviction that it is decidedly the best, and also from a sense of duty we owe to the profession and the public, as we are of opinion that the substitution of any other than Collis Browne’s is a deliberate breach of faith on the part of the chemist to prescriber and patient alike.—We are, Sir, faithfully yours, SYMES & CO., Members of the Pharm. Society of Great Britain, His Excellency the Viceroy’s Chemists.


DR. J. COLLIS BROWNE’S CHLORODYNE is a liquid medicine which assuages PAIN of EVERY KIND, affords a calm, refreshing sleep WITHOUT HEADACHE, and INVIGORATES the nervous system when exhausted.


IMPORTANT CAUTION.—The IMMENSE SALE of this REMEDY has given rise to many UNSCRUPULOUS IMITATIONS. Be careful to observe Trade Mark. Of all Chemists. 1s. 1½d., 2s. 9d., and 4s. 6d.

Sole Manufacturer,
J. T. DAVENPORT, 33 Gt. Russell St., W.C.

Dr. BROWNE coined the word CHLORODYNE to designate his discovery, therefore to apply the word to other preparations is dishonest.

[Pg i]



title page

[Pg iii]









[Pg iv]

Richard Clay and Sons,
london and bungay.

[Pg v]







[Pg vii]



Agriculture has been subjected for some years past in all parts of Europe, and particularly in France, to a crisis so intense and terrible as only to be compared to that which Italy passed through at the time when, by the extinction of piracy in the Mediterranean, the transport of grain from Egypt and Algeria to Rome became possible. The effect of that measure was to ruin the agriculture of the peninsula, and to compel the rural population to exile themselves from their country; but it must be admitted that the result in the end was to benefit all the nations of the Mediterranean coast by enabling them to participate in the advantages of civilisation, which until then had been the appanage of a very small number. This economic revolution, disastrous as it was to the Roman Empire, proved beneficial to humanity.

I am absolutely convinced that the application of the discovery of steam, to diminish the spaces which separate us from the thinly-populated continents of America and Australia, must bring about an analogous[Pg viii] revolution—that is to say, a more equal division of wealth, and a more logical distribution of the human race upon the surface of the globe. I understand very well that those who can set the love of humanity before the love of country will rejoice at this—but I am not one of them.

I believe that for certain countries success in the contest of competition is impossible. In those countries a large emigration is the only remedy. With us in France it is different. I believe we can compete, and compete successfully, when aided by protection, and I am glad to recognise the fact that most of the continental nations adopt this policy, for it is the only one which, in my opinion, will preserve to the Caucasian race and to European civilisation the position which they hold at the head of mankind.

I have been to seek in Ireland the confirmation of these theories. I believe I have found it there. I know how repugnant such ideas will be to some, and that possibly they may call forth but little sympathy from the mass of English readers; I have therefore been desirous of offering these few words of explanation in order that they may understand the spirit in which this book has been conceived and written as it is—by a Frenchman for Frenchmen.

Traduttori! tradittori!” says an Italian proverb, and this I had so forcibly in my mind that I had some hesitation when Mr. Chapman did me the honour to[Pg ix] offer to publish an English translation of my book. I know well the difficulty of translating a book of this style, however intimate the translator may be with the two languages; and I should never have thought it possible for any one to succeed so completely in rendering even the slightest thoughts of the author, as has been accomplished by Mrs. Morton, who has so kindly served me by interpreting me to the English public. I may perhaps be permitted to offer to her here some expressions of my gratitude and of my admiration for her literary talent, which I have felt so strongly while reading the proof sheets.

Edmond de Mandat-Grancey.

17th July, 1887.

[Pg xi]



Ireland and France are still united by so many sympathetic memories that we have watched all the incidents of the struggle undertaken by the unfortunate Irish against England with the keenest interest. This struggle has now lasted nearly three hundred years, but the Irish have never despaired. They have always preserved their faith and their nationality unsullied. England has tried every means for their subjection. First—extreme repression. We may say that until the commencement of this century, the brutality and perfidy she has displayed, surpass all that one could imagine. How, for instance, can we allude calmly to the Bill (2 Anne, C. VI. § 3) which provided that if in a Catholic family the eldest son became a Protestant, he might, through that alone, lay claim to the property of all his relations who remained Catholic; the latter only retaining the usufruct, and being then obliged to remit a portion of the rents to him. This law has been repealed; but it was not until 1829 that a Catholic member could sit in Parliament.[Pg xii] These measures were quite inadequate to advance matters one single step. The two races always refused to assimilate. England herself has been conquered, and the Norman invaders were not too merciful towards the Saxons. However, the fusion took place so rapidly that at the end of one or two centuries there was no longer any distinction between the two peoples.

But it appears as though the Norman race in blending with the Saxon, had lost all its powers of assimilation. From that time England has made many conquests. Nearly everywhere she has scrupulously respected the customs, the religion, and even the prejudices of the vanquished. And yet neither in Canada, in India, nor anywhere else has she ever been able to assimilate the conquered race, in spite of the material progress that she often brings them, whilst the Spaniards or the Portuguese, who used the most abominable means to conquer their colonies, who did nothing for them, who exhausted them in every possible way, still managed to completely modify the nationality of the races with whom they were dealing, so that after they regained their freedom these colonies remained Spanish or Portuguese in language, customs, and religion.

It therefore seems as though modern Englishmen have an absolute inaptitude for the assimilation of foreign races. From 1829 they have done all in their power to win submission from Ireland by kindness, since they could not conquer it by violence.[Pg xiii] Everything that we hear about the state of this unhappy country shows us that these attempts have not been more successful than the former ones.

Now Mr. Gladstone wishes to try a third experiment. He says that unquestionably the union between Ireland and England has, until now, been a most unhappy one. We have only to look at the map to see that they must live under the same political legislation. A divorce is impossible. Let something like a judicial separation be tried; each one would regain liberty to a certain extent, and there would only be left those details under the old dual regulations which it would be absolutely impossible to deal with separately. This is the programme now laid before the English people. Has it any chance of being accepted by the parties interested? And then if it is adopted, what influence would it have over the future of the two countries?

I have often asked myself these questions, sympathising with one side when reading the excited debates in the House of Commons, with the other when hearing of the lamentable state of Ireland. But I seem to catch a glimpse of one view of the question that no one has yet alluded to. The Irish attribute their misery to England’s tyranny; the English, indignant at the accusation, reply that the laws which rule Ireland are the same which render the English people rich and prosperous; they assert that the Irish have only themselves to blame for their misery. In[Pg xiv] this discussion each starts with a fixed idea—that the misery of Ireland must have some social, religious, or political cause. May it not quite simply result from economical causes? The facility of transport is tending to level the value of land and population all over the world; and consequently it is ruining agriculture in Europe. This evolution is only commencing amongst us, whilst the accumulation of capital and the fertility of the soil have until now singularly mitigated its effects. But in Ireland, where no capital exists, and where the soil is very poor, this evolution commenced a long time ago, and its consequences must be more terrible than anywhere else. Is it not here that we must look for the real origin of the Irish crisis? And if this is so, may not the events now taking place in that unhappy country be reproduced amongst us sooner or later, if we do not guard against them?

It was in order to verify this theory that I determined last year to go and pass some weeks in Ireland, where I have many friends. The notes which I now ask you to read have been collected from day to day. As far as possible, I have named the persons who have given me information, and designated by their right names the localities through which I passed. But I have been forced to break this rule three or four times, in order not to expose my hosts to personal danger.

Grancey, April, 1887.

[Pg xv]


United Ireland
AND MR. O’BRIEN—The Freeman’s Journal

[Pg 1]




July 1st, 1886.—At twenty past eight this morning I left the Gare du Nord and arrived at Charing Cross at half-past five. When we reached Dover at three o’clock the English Custom House officers had closely examined all the luggage carried in the hand. Others now waited for us in London, who searched our trunks quite as minutely. They made me unscrew the little boxes in my dressing-bag, apparently to ascertain that they did not contain dynamite; for at the present time dynamite causes great preoccupation, not only to the English police, but also to a great many of Queen Victoria’s faithful subjects. I can prove this by a story which is only a few months old, and which was related to me a day or two ago.

It happened at the time when O’Donovan Rossa, at[Pg 2] New York, daily announced in his newspaper that the week would not close before all the public buildings in London were destroyed by the exertions of pupils who had just left the special school which he had founded at Brooklyn for the study of the use of dynamite; and since these threats have been corroborated by the explosions at the Tower of London and at the War Office, public excitement had reached its highest point. One morning when a very high official reached his office he saw a small, strangely-shaped parcel, which Had been placed on his writing-table.

“What is that?” demanded the official, addressing his secretary.

“I do not know,” replied the other; “it was there when I came in, and no one can tell me who put it there.”

“Oh, oh!” said the official. “I am obliged to go out for a few minutes; be kind enough to open it and see what it is,” and the great man precipitately left the room.

The secretary advanced to open it, but changed his mind.

“Mr. Jones,” said he to one of the chief clerks who was reading in the next room, “the chief has sent me to the city. Will you kindly open the small parcel you will find on the writing-table?” and he ran down stairs.

Half an hour later when the chief returned he found the man who cleans the office examining with an astonished face a pair of satin shoes that the minister’s wife, who was then in the country, had sent to her lord and master in order that they might be returned to the shoemaker.

However, for the moment dynamite seems to have become a matter of secondary interest. Every one is[Pg 3] thinking of the elections and of the events passing in Ulster.

You must know that of the population of this Irish province about fifty-five per cent. are Protestants, nearly all of Scottish origin. For two hundred years, thanks to English supremacy, they have not neglected a single opportunity of tormenting their Catholic neighbours, and they say that if Mr. Gladstone’s Bill should render Ireland independent, the positions will be reversed, and the Catholics will lose no time in returning their persecutions with interest. Their exasperation has therefore assumed alarming dimensions. It must also be acknowledged their arguments are very specious.

“We have,” say they, “been brought here by the English to consolidate their conquest. In all the southern revolts we have formed the vanguard of the English troops. It is just because we are loyal subjects of the Queen that we are hated by the Irish; and now England talks of abandoning us, bound hand and foot, to our enemies.

“We maintain that in doing this she will exceed her rights. No Government is allowed to cut the bonds that unite the different parts of the kingdom. English we are, and English we mean to remain; and if they intend to separate us, in spite of ourselves, we will resist, if necessary, even in arms. And we shall soon see whether the Queen will send her soldiers against us merely because we wish to remain her subjects.”

With this subscriptions were organised, not only in Ulster, but in most of the colonies; rifles were bought, volunteers were enlisted, and the party newspapers loudly announced that an army of 75,000 men was only[Pg 4] waiting until Mr. Gladstone’s Bill passed before taking the field.

No doubt there was a great deal of exaggeration in all this. However, that the movement existed cannot be denied, and from its nature it must create very great difficulties for Mr. Gladstone if he succeeded in passing his Bill, for he will be forced to send an English army against Englishmen only because they wish to remain English subjects. Would the army go? Would the soldiers accept such an odious commission? We may well inquire, for the other day at Aldershot some drunken soldiers invaded a Gladstonian election meeting. They beat the persons present, treating them as rebels, and when the guard were called in they did not conceal their sympathy for their comrades.

I also read in the Morning Post a fact which appears to me very significant. The officer who commanded the detachment which reached Khartoum some hours too late to save Gordon—Lord Charles Beresford, captain in the navy—is now candidate for the section of Marylebone, in London, which he represented in the last Parliament. A rumour had spread that he, General Lord Wolseley, and several other superior officers who are Protestants but of Irish origin, had promised in case of a conflict, to take the command of the Ulster volunteers. He was questioned on this point, and this was his answer:

“They have grossly distorted my words,” said he. “I am an officer, and I can never join men who fight against Her Majesty the Queen; but if I were ordered to serve against my fellow-countrymen I would resign my commission.”

It is therefore not impossible that the least skirmish[Pg 5] in Ulster would end, always supposing that the Bill passed, in mutiny in the English army. The situation is consequently very serious. At least this appears to be the general opinion. I had the good fortune to dine with several political men this evening. Our host, a very fine old man, occupies an important position in the magistracy. He is also a distinguished author who has exercised considerable influence in the Liberal movement of the last fifty years; he was the intimate friend of de Tocqueville and his assiduous correspondent.

Mr. R——, who honoured me with a long conversation before dinner, appeared to me deeply moved by current events. The crisis provoked by Mr. Gladstone seemed to him so serious, that, although an old Liberal who had belonged to the Whigs all his life, and although for some years he had not engaged in active politics, he had not hesitated to re-enter the arena and to take the field against his friends in favour of the Conservatives. Naturally, his attitude produced a great impression, and the other day he was invited to make a speech at a meeting over which Lord Malmesbury was to preside.

The newspapers published and commented upon his speech. I told him how much the reports given of it had interested me, and he was kind enough to condense into a few words the thesis that he had supported.

His estimate of the situation threw such a vivid light upon the question that I cannot do better than reproduce his words.

“What Mr. Gladstone really proposes to us,” said he, “is a dismemberment of England. He wishes that with our free consent and without any struggle we[Pg 6] should submit to the loss of one of our provinces, just as after a disastrous war, you lost Alsace.

“The wound thus inflicted upon the country would perhaps be even more dangerous than the one that France has suffered from, because, for many reasons, the scar would always remain open. And to whom in fact do they propose to surrender Ireland? To a Parliament elected by herself! But they know who the members of that Parliament would be. It would be Mr. Parnell and his partisans, the Irish members of the present Parliament, or rather Mr. Parnell and his followers, for no one denies the well-known fact that the Irish Nationalists, before their nomination, were obliged to sign an agreement which bound them to the most absolute obedience to Mr. Parnell’s orders.

“We should therefore surrender Ireland to Mr. Parnell, and to the National League of which he is president. Now the National League is a society organised in America under the patronage of Irish revolutionists and their accomplices whom they can find amongst us, whose avowed aim is to substitute their authority for that of the Queen. And they have so far succeeded that this irresponsible power has been able to establish in Ireland all the elements and all the machinery of regular authority. It raises taxes, promulgates laws, and has tribunals which simulate justice in the application of these laws, which are scrupulously obeyed because, whilst the enforcement of our law is hampered by the thousand formalities which always accompany the administration of regular justice, they use the dagger and pistol to ensure the execution of their decrees. Hundreds of innocent lives have already been[Pg 7] sacrificed in this way. Their power is so great that they have found means to render life intolerable to all who show the least inclination to free themselves; for their spies penetrate everywhere, and the country is so terrorised that the victims themselves dare not complain. And now they propose that we should surrender Ireland into the hands of these men!

“But this is not all. Is there, at least, any chance that so dishonourable an abdication, so painful a sacrifice, would secure peace? We assert that it would not do so. The Irish Nationalists have no definite aspirations. They use each concession that is made to them as an argument and basis for claiming a second. They are no longer content to demand that Ireland should have the right of framing her own laws; theoretically, this would still be admissible; they now wish that she should no longer submit to the laws of the English Parliament. As though two parts of the same nation can be ruled by different legislatures, by two codes so entirely different, and inspired by opposing principles. The experiment has already been tried in 1782, and it was then so clearly proved that this combination was absolutely impracticable, that Mr. Pitt won eternal honour by re-establishing, in 1800, that union which is so indispensable to a nation, yet which they now dare to ask us to repeal.

“I now approach another side of the question. I have the most profound respect for those of our fellow-citizens who profess the Catholic religion. But, as you know, the eighty-six present members of Parliament who have attached themselves to Mr. Parnell, owe their election to the influence of the Catholic clergy. They[Pg 8] are completely and absolutely devoted to the prelates of that Church. It is therefore these prelates who would rule Ireland. They would have the direction of the public education. But then, what would be the fate of the Protestant population, which is still loyal to England, whose cause they have defended for two hundred and fifty years? You would abandon them to their worst enemies. Would the Catholics at once proceed to massacre them as they did in 1641? Perhaps not. Still I feel convinced, that should troubles arise, the lives of the Protestants would be endangered, but, in any case, you may be sure that the Catholics would know how to render life intolerable to them.

“There is another consideration not less important than the former. From the day that Ireland possesses Home Rule, not a single Englishman will remain there, it would immediately be followed by a great emigration of the richer classes. Some would go to the colonies, but the others, in greater number, would come to England. Some of the linen manufacturers in Belfast are already making arrangements for the transfer of their business to the Isle of Man.

“Work, which is already scarce in Ireland, would then completely disappear. After the masters’ emigration we should see that of the workmen, and their influx upon the labour market in England, which is already overcrowded, would necessarily lead to a serious fall in wages.

“You now see the probable results of separation from both the social and economic aspects. Its consequences, from all political and military considerations, would be still more fatal. In case of war unity is[Pg 9] indispensable in a great empire. It was through unity that in our generation Italy has attained independence; it is through unity Germany governs Europe. And it is at this moment, when every nation is realising the necessity of strengthening the links that unite their different parts, that the proposal is made that we should create on our own coasts an independent, if not hostile, power....”

It appears to me that this speech, of which I can only give an epitome, faithfully reproduces the objections which Englishmen raise against the Gladstonian Bill. The first effect of the Bill was to throw the Liberal Party into absolute confusion. A lady whom I met to-day said to me:

“Really, everything is upside down! My husband was in the House of Lords; my eldest son is now a member of it; his two brothers sat in the last House of Commons; my family has always been Liberal. During the fifty years that I have lived in the political world I have always been accustomed to see the Tories considered our enemies. And now, thanks to Mr. Gladstone, we are forced to acknowledge that, for the moment, only the Tories can save England; and all my sons have entered the field on behalf of their former adversaries.”

It is evident that every one whom I have seen is much alarmed. People are greatly exasperated against Mr. Gladstone, who, in order to succeed, will not hesitate to provoke a war of classes. The dissentients who have abandoned him have shown great loyalty to their new allies, for, in many instances several of them have withdrawn from the contest, leaving the field open for the Conservatives.

[Pg 10]

What will be the result of this struggle? In the general opinion of all who were present at the dinner the elections would not throw any light upon the situation. The Conservatives would gain a great deal, but would not have a majority without the support of some of the dissentients. Now the latter will vote for them and against Mr. Gladstone on the question of Home Rule, but they will vote for Mr. Gladstone and against the Conservatives on every other subject. It will therefore, if these predictions should be realised, become necessary to have a third election before long. These are some of the circumstances in which we admire a parliamentary government.

Here I leave the English side of the question. To-morrow I start for Ireland. I am going to live in the country governed by the Land League; I shall see the principal heads of the Nationalist movement; in their turn they will explain the situation to me from the Irish side; and after hearing the pros and cons of the question I will endeavour to form an opinion.

July 3rd.—I really do not know why London should be described as a frightful city; but it is the English who speak of it in those terms. The French are contented to believe the report, and, as a rule, take care not to go there. For my part I have only visited it two or three times in my life, and have never remained more than four days at a time, but I own that I think London is charming. I only find fault with the distances.

In Paris one can get anywhere in twenty minutes; here the shortest drive takes at least half an hour or forty minutes, and yet the cabs travel faster than our fiacres. But what animation in the streets, which are nearly all filled with two and sometimes four rows of carriages[Pg 11] following each other uninterruptedly. And, besides, I have a weakness for the small English houses, which, without any architectural pretensions, all look so clean and comfortable. Still, the absence of porches for carriages (portes cochères) must be very inconvenient, particularly for women. What state must their satin shoes be in when they are obliged to cross a muddy pavement on a wet evening? We are, perhaps, a little inclined to exaggerate English comfort. But, really, when we have seen M. Boulanger’s untidy, bearded army, it is quite refreshing to look at the fine English soldiers, who walk about the streets holding a small cane in the hand. We may, perhaps, find fault with them for looking a little too much like fashion-plates, with their well-pomatumed hair and their small forage caps stuck over the right ear, in utter defiance of the most elementary laws of equilibrium; but it is always advisable that a soldier should take pride in his appearance. Still, some of them a little exaggerate the effect. But the Scotchmen—the Highlanders—are my delight. They exhibit their ruddy calves, and the long plaids that hang from their shoulders, with such amusing pride. But one should see them in India. A few years ago I was at Singapore at the same time as a Scotch regiment. We never missed going to see them parade and drill every evening. There was the officer passing in front of his troops, stiff, formal, handsome as a god. The men stood perfectly still, but their grimacing, convulsed features indicated the revolt of the flesh against discipline; as soon as the officer had passed the flesh asserted its right; the bayonets waved like corn shaken by the wind. In defiance of breaking the line all hastily bent down and furiously rubbed their legs,[Pg 12] which resembled zebra’s stripes from mosquito bites. It was a splendid sight.

I was staying at the Alexandra Hotel. From my windows I could see the fine trees and green lawns of Hyde Park. I occupied the same room four years ago. But then we formed quite a party, M. de Lesseps, the Duc de F——, and several others. I can never help laughing at the recollection of the disaster that awaited us. The promoters of the Channel Tunnel had invited us to come and see the works, which were being actively pressed forward, a little, I believe, in the hope of forcing the hand of the English Government, which did not seem very enthusiastic about it. At Dover they had invited us to a grand dinner at the Lord Warden Hotel; and on the following day a special train conveyed us to the entrance of the tunnel, at the foot of the long white cliffs by which the railway runs—the “white cliffs of Old England!” Everybody was in the most delightful humour, except, however, M. Hervé Mangon, since Minister of the French Republic, who would not unbend, but threatened a diplomatic representation because he had lost his portmanteau.

Small trucks drawn by workmen took us to the end of the long gallery already excavated. They had reached 1,600 metres from the shore. Colonel Beaumont’s perforating machine bit heartily into the white chalk, scarcely firmer than cheese, through which they daily advanced three or four yards. We emptied a respectable number of champagne bottles to the success of the enterprise, which to us all seemed so certain that we treated those who hinted that it could not be opened under two years as lukewarm partisans.

[Pg 13]

A magnificent luncheon, served in a tent, awaited us when we came out. We recommenced drinking the finest champagne. Every one thought of making his little speech, when suddenly we saw a gentleman arrive, who handed to the president, Sir Edward Watkin, a paper resembling an official document. He hastened to open it, and commenced reading it aloud. It was an order from the Board of Trade, I believe, commanding that the works should be stopped at once.

The particulars of this order are amusing. The collection of English laws is voluminous, for none of them are ever annulled. However, they had the greatest trouble in the world to find a law that applied to our case. They were obliged to content themselves with a statute dating from the Saxon Heptarchy, which “forbade the establishment of communications with foreign lands.” The punishment threatened by this statute was not a very agreeable prospect, but one could be sure that after the sentence was executed the condemned would not protest against it. For it was clearly explained that first his head would be cut off, then his body divided into thirteen pieces; and one piece would be sent to each of the thirteen chief cities in the country, to ornament its principal gate.

I remember that when Sir Edward, who did not appear to take all these details very seriously, reached this point he interrupted his reading, and piously raising his eyes towards heaven, he exclaimed:

“I hope that her most gracious majesty, taking into consideration the small size of her humble subject, will deign to make an exception in my favour, and allow the number of pieces to be reduced. I fear that some of the cities would be deprived of their share of me, but[Pg 14] at least the others would haw a reasonably-sized piece!”

This reflection provoked peals of laughter from the honourable company, in which the official who had brought the order joined. He was invited to sit down, and he also began to drink champagne with marvellous good will. Sir Edward was not cut in pieces, but the Channel works were effectively stopped, and God knows whether they will ever be recommenced. I always think of this story when I see the English struggling with any difficulties. No one knows how to harmonise their principles and their interest better than they do. The real reason of their opposition to this unfortunate tunnel is that they foresee that its construction would deal a severe blow to their coasting trade. But since, after two hundred years of close protection, they have now constituted themselves the apostles of free trade, they cannot possibly own that these considerations affect them. Others might have been embarrassed by this affair. They at once discovered the famous old Saxon law. It is the same thing with American cattle. They begin to see that agriculture will become impossible in England if cattle are imported too freely. So they have discovered an admirable method of arranging matters. Instead of stopping the imports by a Custom House officer, they employ a veterinary surgeon. The cattle are allowed to disembark, but as soon as they are landed the sanitary inspector examines them, declares that they are diseased, and has them killed on the spot. I feel sure that the English will evade the Irish difficulty by some duplicity of the same nature.

After passing my day in driving about, towards six o’clock I went and sat in Hyde Park to watch the[Pg 15] carriages and riders passing by. The latter are much less well cared for than we are in Paris. That dear Allée des Poteaux is replaced by a straight avenue, about a mile long, bounded by rails. On each side there is a footpath, and beyond that a road for the carriages.

I think that the equipages are much less brilliant than formerly. The number of imposing, fat, red-faced coachmen, with silk stockings and powdered wigs, has certainly diminished. However, one still sees a good many of those fantastic liveries in which Englishmen delight. There are some in shot-colours; I saw one of pale green, with cuffs, facings, and collar of red, braided with gold. I fancy, too, that the horses—at least the carriage horses—are strikingly inferior to the former standard.

This is all easily explained. Here, as with us, if not the largest fortunes, at all events the secondary incomes are seriously reduced. Commerce is weakened, industry is declining, and agriculture is utterly ruined. There are no English landowners who have not been obliged to grant a reduction of 15, 25, and sometimes 50 per cent. to their farmers; and it appears that in Ireland things are still worse. It is quite natural that luxury should suffer from this state of things. I hear that it must even be more affected by and by, and that if there is still so much outward appearance of wealth, it is because people are getting into debt. It is the same amongst us.

Women leave their carriages, and walk on the paths, or pause in groups, chatting with the riders as they pass. But if the horses have greatly deteriorated I think that the dresses have considerably improved. Some of them are charming. Æstheticism has disappeared, or nearly[Pg 16] so. My friend Mr. Burnand has very effectually caricatured its eccentricities in Punch. But, since action always involves reaction, the fashion, after going to an excess of poetry, is now inclined to fall into the opposite extreme. Lady Harberton has invented what she calls a divided skirt; it practically consists of Zouaves’ trousers. Another lady proposes a Greek costume; not that of Venus, but the arrangement worn by those antique statues that are really draped. A third suggests yet another, which perhaps has more chance of being adopted by a certain class, to whom it might be useful. There is but one button to unfasten, and it falls off. It appears that all these ladies preach by example, and have already a fair number of disciples. But I only quote what I am told, for I have not been fortunate enough to have an opportunity of judging the effect produced de visu.

At seven I tore myself away from the contemplation of so much beauty, and drove to Euston Station to catch the Dublin mail, which leaves London at 8.20. Towards two in the morning we reached Holyhead, a small island separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, which is crossed by a fine bridge. The railway has been brought here because it is the nearest point to Ireland, and also because this little island contains a superb port, where vessels find excellent shelter from the heavy seas of St. George’s Channel. I have rarely seen such fine ships as the steamers which carry the royal mails. They should be taken as models when it is decided to replace the tub-like boats still used between Calais and Dover. The one that brought me over three days ago, The Maid of Kent, was two hours crossing, although we had splendid weather. The[Pg 17] distance is twenty-one miles. This brings the speed up to ten and a half knots an hour. The Holyhead packet reached Ireland from England in three hours and a half, although it is sixty-three miles. We therefore made sixteen or seventeen knots per hour—the speed of a torpedo boat.

Whenever I chance to be on a ship, I amuse myself with noticing the changes that have taken place in maritime customs since the time—alas! already far distant—since I first embarked. I can remember when the old customs and bluff phraseology were still retained even in the imperial navy. Commissioned officers scattered a number of very picturesque expressions amongst their orders, which, although in all probability religiously handed down from squadron to squadron since the time of the Bailli of Suffren, would have made a grammarian shudder at their formation. A hundred times I have heard midshipmen or lieutenants shout to the men, “Bande de soldats, vas-tu haler sur le bras de misaine?” Or conversations of this kind: “Combien es-tu dans la grand-hunc?” “Je suis cinq,” replied a voice from above. “Eh, bien, reste deux et descends trois.” In moments of great excitement it frequently happened that a middy, and often even an officer, lent his aid in hauling in a rope, or to assist in a manœuvre, sending at the same time a backhander across the face of some Parisian novice, who pretended to haul and really did nothing.

Then came the reaction. Old officers were accused of being too free and easy. A new school replaced them who were stiff and formal in their deportment; giving their orders in measured tones so that the boatswain had to repeat them before they could be heard.[Pg 18] At first this was called chic Anglais, and some enthusiasts went so far as to command in English. I knew at least two navy lieutenants, two brothers, who would have fancied themselves lost had they shouted “Amarrez.” They always said “Belay,” which is the English translation.

But the English school triumphed. I am ready to acknowledge its superiority even whilst I regret the picturesqueness of old times. Our captain of the Holyhead steamer is a worthy representative of the former. This morning he managed to get off without a single word, a perfect triumph of its kind.

It was only half past two, yet the dawn spread over the waters and daylight appeared. We are five degrees farther north than Paris, and this accounts for the short nights. The morning is splendid. In the distance the horizon is clear, but behind us the English coast is lost in a thick mist; its outline is only indicated by a succession of lights that still shine against the sky. On the port side one of them burns with marvellous brilliancy.

The entrance to the harbour of Kingstown is extremely picturesque. I only speak from hearsay. I had made the acquaintance of two or three pleasant fellow passengers, and we had agreed to remain on the bridge during the crossing, but at the first movement of the vessel one of them left us; the two others held up for a little time but at last they also disappeared. In ten minutes I was left alone, and preferring to avoid the contemplation of the shapeless forms writhing on deck I went to bed and enjoyed the sleep of innocence until a steward came and warned me that we had reached the quay. I went on dock and found most of the passengers[Pg 19] already leaving the steamer. A short, extremely ragged man was threading his way between the groups of passengers, he wore long fair hair falling to his shoulders. I found that he was a well-known character. He is a vendor of nationalist papers. Nothing can be more amusing than the air of triumph with which he pushes the Freeman’s Journal or the United Ireland in an Englishman’s face shouting, “Buy the last speech of the Grand Old Man.” For over here Mr. Gladstone is the “Grand Old Man” only. The United Ireland is to Freeman’s what the Intransigeant is to the Temps, or rather since they are both very Catholic, what the Univers is to the Gazette de France. But even then the comparison is a little incorrect, for the Univers, even in M. Veuillot’s day, never approached the violent style of United Ireland. One of its writers indulged in a significant freak the other day. Mr. Parnell advised the Land League not to make itself conspicuous for a short time. For some reason they were anxious to appease England a little. The United Ireland published this advice in the following words:—

The Close Season.

Art. 1st.—It is forbidden to shoot landlords.”

This was in the early days of the League, and its agents displayed the zeal of all neophytes. I remember getting an idea of the state of this country by hearing a conversation repeated that had taken place between two Irish children who had come to Paris with their parents. They had been brought to play with some children belonging to one of my friends. As they reached the garden, the little boy—aged six—said to the little girl of seven:

[Pg 20]

“Wait a minute! I’ll show you a capital game. We’ll play at landlord and tenant. You shall be landlord and I’ll kill you with my gun.”

These were the ideas which a small Irish boy had imbibed from his surroundings in the year of Grace, 1882, upon the normal relations between landlord and tenant.

It only takes half an hour to go from Kingstown to Dublin. When I reached the station I had the pleasure of making acquaintance with the jaunting car, the favourite carriage with the Irish, who often refer to it in their novels.

The jaunting car is certainly the strangest vehicle that an insane mind ever conceived. The hansom, with its seat placed like a box behind the hood, is sufficiently original, but when one has seen a jaunting car, one begins to think that the cab is a rational conveyance.

Evidently the first idea of the jaunting car suggested itself to an ingenious man who found himself the owner of an old packsaddle and the frame of a cart. To utilise these articles he put the saddle on the two wheels and Erin was dowered with a jaunting car, the only one of her institutions that the Saxon conquest has respected.

The coachman seats himself on one side of the rolling saddle. In my own case he placed my trunk next to him, I installed myself on the other seat with my feet on a thin plank, which, in case of collision, protects the wheels at the expense of the traveller’s legs, and we started at a very good pace to my great satisfaction.

I must own that I am delighted with this style of locomotion, which resembles nothing found elsewhere. The Swiss carriages with side seats, which were used a few years ago, are the only things I can compare[Pg 21] them to, and it was in one of those vehicles that the legendary Englishman drove for three days round the Lake of Geneva, and then inquired where the lake was; he had not seen it, for he was sitting on the wrong side and his back was turned to it.

My first drive in a jaunting car also proved to me that mechanical laws are the same everywhere. The sentinel who guarded the gates of the Louvre could not free our kings from their consequences, and in spite of its power the Land League has no perceptible effect in this direction. On this occasion at every corner I was seized by an almost irresistible force, which, taking as its fulcrum the spot a little below the loins, where Dr. Liouville places the centre of gravity in the human body, threatened to throw me out upon the pavement. Thanks to the studies of my youth I recognised in this impulse the force which learned men call centrifugal, and defying its insidious attacks I clung to the car with both hands, quite ignoring the fact that I was outraging all sense of local etiquette. It appears that one must no more cling to a car in turning corners than hold on by the mane of a runaway horse.

The first thing that strikes the attention of a stranger arriving at Dublin is the tattered state of its inhabitants. When, owing to the social and economical condition of a country, the majority of its citizens are unable to afford themselves the luxury of even mending their clothes, custom really ought to allow them to dispense with garments entirely, at least in summer. It would be an act of charity and every one would profit by it. On one hand the eye would not be offended by the lamentable spectacle of an urchin who has but two hands with which to hold the tattered[Pg 22] fragments of stuff that once formed a pair of trousers; on the other, the said urchin, freed from his absorbing occupation, might perhaps do some work, which is manifestly impossible now. I venture humbly to suggest this idea to those conscientious philanthropists who seek every means of relieving suffering humanity. But it is not only the street arabs that are clothed in this way. The art of mending seems absolutely unknown here. I am sure that I have not seen one person in ten whose garments are not torn. My driver’s sleeve only holds on to the jacket by a miracle of good nature, and his trousers are slit from the knee to the ankle.

At every corner of the street one sees groups of women, their hair falling round the face, their dresses, full of holes, only reach the knees, leaving their incredibly dirty feet and legs visible below their rags. In hot countries poverty matters little. At Cadiz, Naples, and Cairo we see numbers of people who are certainly quite as poor as these. But they do not look miserable. The sun supplies nearly all they need. If it does not feed it comforts them. A Neapolitan lazzarone may only have eaten a slice of water-melon, but he looks satisfied. Here, under the cold grey skies, in the muddy streets, these poor creatures fill one with pity. The drawn faces, the hollow, brilliant eyes, have a hungry look which makes my heart ache.

I went and dressed at Shelburne House, the best hotel in Dublin, which looks over Stephen’s Green, the Hyde Park of the Irish capital. I then took another jaunting car and drove to the office of the United Ireland. Most of the heads of the Irish movement are absent from Dublin just now through the elections, but the[Pg 23] newspaper editors are naturally at their posts and I wish to make the acquaintance of the two most important of them—Mr. O’Brien, editor of the United Ireland, and Mr. Dwyer Gray, editor and owner of the Freeman’s Journal, to both of whom I have letters of introduction.

To-day the elections commence. I say commence, because in England things are not managed in the same way that they are at home. When an election is about to take place the Queen issues an official notice, a writ, to each electoral division by a special officer. Committees are then formed and each candidate must be nominated to the sheriff within a given time by a specified number of the electors. At the same time money for the purposes of the election must be placed in his hands—such as placards, notices, &c. &c. Of course this sum varies, with the number of voters, but it seldom exceeds more than 120l. or 160l.

If at the expiration of the fixed term only one candidate has been nominated there is no need to take a ballot. The candidate is declared elected and the business is settled. If, on the other hand, and naturally this occurs the most frequently, two or three candidates have presented themselves in time, the sheriff fixes a date for the election, which takes place by secret voting, in the same way as with us, only in a polling booth.

These formalities are all essential. The omission of a single detail would render the election void. A certificate bearing the name of a candidate who has not formerly deposited his nomination is of no legal value and, the most singular thing is, that a member, whose election was invalid, is at once replaced by his opponent. I must add that in case of appeal, the cause is heard, not by Parliament, but in the ordinary law courts.

[Pg 24]

This legislation seems to me infinitely more reasonable than our own, except in a few details. In the first place, it prevents the scandalous invalidations which we see in France, and which are sure to occur when they are pronounced by men who are both judges and partisans. The idea of declaring a candidate elected because he has no opponent also strikes me as a good one. It may not often happen in France, but it sometimes occurs, and then what is the use of disturbing a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand voters, since the result is a foregone conclusion and cannot injure any one’s interests? For if a minority wishes to reckon its strength by rallying round a name, there is no reason it should not announce its intention by a settled date.

But these arrangements have only existed a few years. They put an end to the formidable and legendary abuses of English elections. They were also effectual in reducing the candidate’s expenses to an enormous extent. An election amongst our neighbours is now far less onerous than with us. When the last elections took place in France, the conservatives spent about one franc upon every registered voter, and in many departments the republicans far exceeded this amount, thanks to the enormous sums placed at their disposal by the Government, sums probably raised from the Tonquin grants. In England the authorised expenses amount, according to the figures which have been given to me, to fifty or sixty centimes (5d. or 6d.) per voter. Now the electors are less numerous than with us, for universal suffrage does not yet exist, and it appears that these expenses are very little exceeded.

I had the good luck to find Mr. O’Brien in his office[Pg 25] with another member of Parliament, who had also been elected without opposition.

Mr. William O’Brien was born at Mallow, in 1852. His career has been very eventful. After leaving the small college of Cloyne, where he had completed his studies, he threw himself headlong into Fenianism, whilst his brother, with a Captain Mackay, won a great reputation in the south of Ireland by the audacity they displayed in attacking several police stations, with the object of procuring arms for the insurgents. At last they were arrested. This Mr. O’Brien died in prison of a chest complaint, his death being hastened, so they say, by the governor’s neglect. His father died on the same day—a singular co-incidence.

William O’Brien then suddenly found himself at the head of a family, but without any resources. A pamphlet that he published by Captain Mackay’s advice, won him an appointment to the Cork Daily Herald, one of the best papers in the south. In 1876 he came to Dublin, and was attached to the editor’s staff of the Freeman’s Journal. There Mr. Parnell found him in 1881, and placed him at the head of the United Ireland, which was just being started as the Land League’s official newspaper.

Since this time Mr. O’Brien has waged perpetual war against England, a war which has doubtless endeared him to his fellow-citizens, for having succeeded, in 1882, in wresting, by 161 votes against 89, the seat of Mallow from a Conservative; he has since that date always been re-elected without opposition.

No one can pass through a career like Mr. O’Brien’s without making many enemies; but he must possess[Pg 26] very fine qualities, for even his bitterest opponents acknowledge the perfect respectability of his life. In every one’s opinion he is a sincerely pious and exceedingly charitable man. Nearly all the money he earns, and he earns a great deal, is spent in good works. Last year, at the end of a political lawsuit, his opponent was sentenced to pay him 1,000l. damages and interest. With one stroke of the pen he gave it all to charity. Physically he is rather a small, dark man, who looks older than he is, in spite of the brightness of his eyes which shine through his spectacles. He has all the appearance of an enthusiast, and I believe that he is absolutely convinced of the justice of the cause that he serves without a mental reservation and with the most absolute devotion.

I will not record our conversation here, because it differed very little from the conversations that I had with other chiefs of the Land League. I prefer to discuss them all together and then sum up the information that I have collected. If I do not make this rule I shall repeat myself. When I left the office of the United Ireland, I was driven to that of the Freeman’s Journal, where I saw Mr. Dwyer Gray. Mr. E. Dwyer Gray is the son of a man who has played an important part in the political history of contemporary Ireland, Sir John Gray was the owner of the Freeman’s, which, even in his time, brought in, so they say, 200,000 francs, 8,000l., per annum. When I remember the trouble our papers have to pay their expenses I cannot understand the financial prosperity of English and American journals. The Freeman’s, which, after all, is only a small provincial newspaper, prints forty thousand copies; its size almost[Pg 27] equals the Times; it keeps a staff of seven shorthand writers in London, who telegraph daily by a special wire the debates in the House; it publishes very well written foreign correspondence, yet it brings in a great deal more since it has been in Mr. Dwyer Gray’s hands than formerly. He opened his political life as a member of the Dublin corporation, then he became lord mayor, and afterwards county Carlow returned him to Parliament where, as a business speaker, he has won a good reputation amongst Parnell’s colleagues. A converted Protestant, he represents a relatively moderate element in politics as well as in religion. A few incidents in his career deserve notice. In his relations with the Municipality he had an opportunity of discovering the embezzlements of the infamous Carey, afterwards so sadly notorious through first founding and then betraying the Invincible Society which assassinated Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke in Phœnix Park, by stabs with a knife. Although Carey was in the main a co-religionist, he did not hesitate to unmask him, and even pursued him so energetically that, later on, during the trial of the Invincibles, it was proved that they had once thought of ridding themselves of him (Mr. Gray) by murder in order to avenge their chief.

Unfortunately, just then the Freeman’s was engaged in a particularly violent series of articles against the Government, and on the evening that preceded the tragedy, the paper contained an unlucky phrase:—“There are rats in the Castle, which must soon be dislodged!” In ordinary times no one would have noticed this; but political passions intervened, and this phrase was at once connected with the murders that followed it so closely, and the, at all events, moral responsibility of[Pg 28] the author was carefully pointed out. Is it necessary to add that not one serious man ever attached the least importance to these insinuations?

I had spent some time in the office of the United Ireland, but I only remained in the Freeman’s a few minutes, for Mr. Gray, who was very busy during the day, kindly invited me to spend the evening with him. I had just seen the organs of what, in the secret government that Ireland now obeys, corresponds with the legislative power; for the only laws respected by the country are concocted in these two newspaper offices. I have now to become acquainted with the executive power, i.e., the ministers of the Land League; but I should first like to say a few words about them.

[Pg 29]



We will first describe the origin of the Land League. To fully understand the subject, we must first trace back Irish history to the year 1847. At that time the population, which in 1845 numbered 8,175,124, had certainly attained, if not exceeded 9,000,000. Then as now, we may say that no manufactures existed in the country. The population lived on the direct produce of the land. The repeal of protection on corn had caused the almost entire disappearance of cereals, for which the soil, and above all the climate, were always unfavourable, and consequently, only two possible industries were left—stock raising (and this was chiefly pig raising), and the cultivation of potatoes. The sale of pigs sufficed to pay the taxes, the landlord, and the few necessaries bought by the people. The potatoes were reserved for food.

Suddenly the potato disease broke out. In a few days, of a harvest which promised abundance, absolutely nothing was left, and by one blow nine millions of[Pg 30] people were left without anything to eat. This is the simple history of the famine in 1847. And this history must inevitably be repeated in every country that transforms its agriculture into raising stock, and which yet aspires to support the same number of inhabitants; for it is quite evident that a stock-raising country cannot feed as many people as an agricultural one.

This phenomenon had already happened in Scotland at the end of the last century. The difficulty was solved by the emigration of large numbers of the Highlanders from several counties. The same thing is now visible in France; and if we have not yet encountered the same consequences, it is because our peasants are living, and for some time can still live, on their capital. In Ireland the people had no reserve fund. The misery was therefore awful. One can hardly believe that such things can happen in our century; but it is undeniable that thousands of miserable people died of starvation in the midst of their fields, just as they might have done on a wreck in the middle of the ocean. The official statistics registered 6,058 deaths simply caused by hunger! And the famine preceded, and was followed by an epidemic of typhus, which killed thirty or forty thousand persons.

It has been widely stated that the landowners behaved badly under the circumstances; they are particularly reproached for having claimed their rents in spite of their tenants’ terrible misery. But these accusations have never been proved. The rents had been collected before the famine began and at a time when no one could have anticipated its occurrence. But here I will quote Mr. Sullivan, one of the most advanced members of the Nationalist party, who says in reference to this subject:—

[Pg 31]

“The majority of resident landlords really did all in their power. When the famine appeared many landowners found themselves on the verge of ruin. They had inherited property that was already heavily mortgaged. The money paid for rent did not remain in their hands but went to pay their creditors. The loss of a year’s rent brought them fatally near seizure and bankruptcy. They knew this and yet it must be acknowledged that a great many of them who might have escaped disaster by harshness towards their tenants, preferred their own ruin.”

The Government on its side was far from inactive. Works were opened in all directions for the construction of roads, with the idea of providing employment for the population, and so many were made that they cannot be maintained, and yet at the present time I doubt whether another country exists where roads are more numerous than in Ireland.

I believe, therefore, it would be just to own that under the sad circumstances, every one loyally tried to do his duty. It may be said that the measures taken were insufficient or not cleverly managed, but it must be remembered that the difficulties were immense, and there is no proof that any other Government would have been more successful.

However, the memory of this terrible episode has left ineffaceable hatred in many minds. Still it did not explode at the time. From 1852 to 1876, we may affirm that there was a very perceptible and continued increase in the national prosperity of the country. One point should be carefully noted, viz., that this increased prosperity coincided with an enormous diminution of the population. We have seen that in 1845 it[Pg 32] numbered 8,175,124; it is estimated that in 1848 it would have reached nine millions; in 1851 it was only 6,552,385; and in 1881, 5,173,836; it should now be under five millions. In thirty years, emigration has reduced the number from nine millions to five, that is by four millions in round figures. This prosperity was rudely interrupted in 1877, and once more the misfortune was due to a bad potato harvest.

If Ireland had still contained nine millions of inhabitants, we should certainly have seen a renewal of the scenes of 1847; but since she had only five millions there was no famine, in the real sense of the word, although the misery was very great; the farmers lost eight hundred thousand pounds, and those who paid their rent could only do so by borrowing the money.

The harvest in 1878 was nearly as bad as the preceding one. The deficit amounted to five hundred thousand pounds; the situation became more strained. All the tenants were in debt, for in the preceding years a number of banks had been established and had given them enormous credit, and now this credit became more restricted. Many found themselves on the verge of succumbing, and each one felt that if the next harvest were not exceptionally good no one could escape ruin. Anxiety was therefore at its height. And at this critical moment, in April, 1879, the farmers in county Mayo were summoned to attend a meeting that ought to have been held in Irishtown. The order of the day only disclosed that its object was to study the situation. The notices were signed by Mr. Michael Davitt.

Mr. Michael Davitt was not quite unknown in the country: his father had been a farmer there. Being[Pg 33] unsuccessful in business, he was forced to abandon his farm, and to go and live in England, where he only vegetated. At eleven years old his son was already working in a cotton factory; there one of his arms was cut off by some of the machinery. At seventeen he had joined the Fenian conspiracy. In 1870 he was arrested. The Fenians had blown up a prison wall to enable some of their number to escape. Young Davitt, implicated in this affair through receiving explosives, was sentenced to fifteen years’ penal servitude.

However, he only remained in prison for seven years. In 1878 he received what the English call a ticket-of-leave. The individual who receives this ticket is set at liberty, but conditionally; he is still under police supervision, and the Government has the right to imprison him again without further trial until the end of his sentence. Mr. Davitt’s case had been widely known. On the day that he returned to Dublin with one of his fellow prisoners, liberated with him, 300,000 persons waited for them at the station, and the impression produced was rendered deeper and more lasting by this man falling dead through the rupture of an aneurism as he entered the hotel where Mr. Parnell was waiting for them.

At this meeting at Irishtown the theory of the Land League was first explained. Curiously enough, Mr. Davitt first thought of the idea, but he did not make the first speech—he had missed the train, so others opened the subject instead of him. In such a centre it could not fail to receive an enthusiastic welcome. Thanks to an active method of propaganda, it spread through the country so rapidly and so successfully that a few months later Mr. Parnell summoned in Dublin a[Pg 34] meeting of delegates from all parts of Ireland, who were charged with drawing up the statutes of the Association, which, under the name of the Irish National Land League, was established on the 21st October, 1879.

The general principles which were to guide the Association, are stated in the following declaration:—The objects of the League are—

I. To obtain a reduction of rack-rents.

II. To facilitate the acquisition of the land by those who cultivate it.

III. To attain these ends the League will undertake—

1st. To create an organisation which will bind all the tenants together.

2nd. To defend all those who may be threatened by the landlords with eviction from their farms, through refusing to pay rack-rents.


4th. Lastly, to neglect no opportunities of forcing Government to pass laws allowing the tenant to become the owner of the soil he cultivates, by means of the payment of an annuity, and under the most favourable conditions possible.

The document was signed by Parnell, President; Patrick Egan, Treasurer; Michael Davitt and Thomas Brennan, Secretaries.

Scarcely launched, it required very little to make the League collapse. Numerous meetings were assembled in all parts of Ireland for recruiting adherents. Several orators, who were heard there, expressed such advanced Socialistic opinions, that the clergy, who until then had watched the proceedings without interfering on either[Pg 35] side, now took fright and protested loudly; one might have thought at one time that war would break out. If the clergy had persevered in that attitude, the League would probably have foundered; they would have conquered, but the people’s minds were already so excited by the struggle that the clergy must have compromised the preponderating influence that they always possessed. Besides, the heads of the League hastened to disown the imprudent words their representatives had uttered. But at last the name of the Bishop of Cashel appeared one day in the list of subscribers. All the prelates followed his example, and from that time the success of the League was insured.

The clergy have been much criticised for the position they then accepted. I believe that on the whole it was politic, and has been productive of good results. It may be considered extraordinary that the clerical influence should be employed in the service of an association which furthers its designs by the use of such violent measures; but we must add, that the League would probably have been a thousand times more violent had not the influence of the clergy been exercised over it.

But we must not think that the Irish clergy were constrained and forced by passing events to enter the Land League. Many of its members had little difficulty in bringing themselves to join it. Amongst us the clergy are chiefly recruited from the masses; but whilst on one hand the Government pays their stipends, on the other they derive their chief support from the upper classes. Being obliged to conciliate so many interests or frequently opposing sentiments, they are quite inclined to be extremely moderate. But in Ireland the position is very different. The clergy are also nearly[Pg 36] entirely recruited from amongst the peasants and small farmers; but, since the upper classes are Protestant there is no connection between them; nor even between the priests and the Government, for the latter can do little either for or against them. The priests have, therefore, all the instincts of the people from whom they spring, and with whose destiny they feel their own fate closely bound up. In the conditions of existence under which they live no preponderating element can exist. Under the French system there is a very moderate, but at the same time admirably disciplined, clergy, because everything comes from those above them. But these advantages are often gained at the expense of their influence over the people, from whom they are too much separated. Under the Irish system the clergy have, on the contrary, enormous influence, and by which their incomes are affected, and they quickly realise whether there is any danger of this influence being compromised. Only it frequently happens, when the passions are greatly excited, that instead of teaching the people the priests are obliged to follow them, and discipline not having the material authority that it has with us, these eager temperaments are only restrained by the hands of canonical obedience, though at the same time these are usually sufficiently powerful.

We must not, then, be surprised if the parochial clergy, living in the midst of a population that was unquestionably suffering great hardships, and having no connection with the classes whom they consider responsible for these sufferings, have thrown themselves into the struggle with frequently exaggerated ardour, or what at all events seems so to the French, who are[Pg 37] accustomed to much more reserved manners in our priests. Some of them allow their enthusiasm to attain extraordinary dimensions. I was dining, quite recently, with one of my relations; eight or ten persons were present, and one of them, an Irish parish priest, was telling us something about the present state of his country. Very intelligent and full of racy humour, he related a number of anecdotes illustrative of the prevalent state of feeling, each droller than the last, and above all full of local colour. He particularly impressed upon us the sympathy of the clergy for the Land League.

“The other day,” said he, “one of my colleagues was playing billiards with his vicar, when a message was brought to him that a man wanted to confess to him in the vestry. He immediately went, took his place in the confessional, and the man commenced the enumeration of his sins.

“‘My father,’ said he, ‘I confess that three months ago I shot a man and killed him.’

“‘Oh, oh!’ thought the priest, ‘this is a serious matter.’

“He still held the billiard chalk in his hand, and with it made a mark on his left sleeve.

“‘Go on, my son,’ he said aloud.

“‘That is not all,’ stammered the man. ‘Two days later I shot Paddy Ryan.... But I only wounded him.’

“The priest made a second mark on his sleeve, and repeated with a sigh:

“‘Go on, my son.’

“‘Since that I have shot at Corney O’Sullivan, and then at Tim O’Flaherty, and then again at Timothy O’Hagan.’

[Pg 38]

“The priest sprung up in his arm-chair.

“‘Good heavens, my son! but what had all these men done to you that you wished to hurry them into eternity? Who were they?’

“‘Oh, my father! they were all bailiffs or tax-collectors.’

“‘Idiot!’ growled the priest, furiously rubbing his sleeve. ‘Why didn’t you say so before, instead of letting me spoil my best cassock?’”

This story was much relished by the lay guests at dinner. It was less appreciated by the ecclesiastics present. It is, however, unnecessary to add that it was related as a good joke; but at the same time, we quite understood that the joke was intended to give the key to the present state of feeling amongst many of the Irish priests, and the narrator added that he was himself the President of the League in his district.

When the League was once founded, it was forced to assert its power. It was rendered particularly popular amongst the tenants, because it had promised them, if not the abolition, at least the reduction of a great portion of their rents. Now, the surest method of attaining this result would be the suppression of competition, so that the landowners, once convinced that if they withdrew the farms from their present tenants they would have them left on their hands, should be forced to accept all the terms their tenants liked to impose upon them. In a speech spoken at Ennis on the 19th September, 1880, Mr. Parnell undertook to point out by what means these results could be obtained. Here are his words, which have since been frequently quoted by those who wish to make him responsible for the storm they let loose.

[Pg 39]

“Now, you will ask me, what must be done to a tenant who takes a farm from which another man has been sent away?”

Several voices in the crowd—“Shoot Him.”

Mr. Parnell—“I think that some of you answer, ‘Shoot him!’ Now, I will point out to you another method, which is much more certain, and which has the advantage of being more Christian and more charitable, for it gives the sinner time to repent. When a man has taken a farm from which another has been unjustly driven out, you must, by your conduct, wherever you meet him, by the isolation in which you will force him to live, by treating him as formerly lepers were treated—you must, I repeat, by all these measures, show him the hatred and contempt you feel for his crime.”

Historians relate that one day Harlequin gave his three sons two drums, one large and one small one, and a pair of cymbals, telling them to amuse themselves with their new playthings, but to be careful not to make a noise. They add that, in spite of his instructions, his quiet was rather disturbed.

Mr. Parnell has unfortunately seen his counsel produce the same result as those given by Harlequin. He exhorted the crowd by advising them not to employ any but moral, charitable, and Christian measures. The crowd obeyed his words, but his instructions were soon left far behind. At that time, an ex-officer, Captain Boycott, after leaving the service had settled in Ireland, near Lough Mask. He made agriculture his business, and also managed estates. He had some difficulty with a tenant, who would not pay his rent, and he wished to evict him. The local committee of the Land League in his village, intimated to him that if he did, it was at[Pg 40] his own risk and peril. Naturally he ignored this hint, and war was declared.

The whole of Ireland watched this affair, with the greatest attention, for they felt that the future of the Land League depended upon the way in which it was settled. But every precaution was carefully taken, every one of Captain Boycott’s servants left him the same day; he went to the tradesmen in the small neighbouring town who usually supplied the house, they all refused to serve him. He could not buy either bread or meat at any price, and for some days he lived on potatoes that he dug himself, whilst Mrs. Boycott milked the cows.

The Land League had won the first battle. Public excitement was intense. Threats having been uttered the Government sent a garrison to the Captain, and he no longer ventured out without the protection of four men armed to the teeth. Reporters from every Irish and English newspaper followed him perpetually. Every morning the public learnt that on the preceding evening the Captain, guarded by six constables and accompanied by twelve reporters, had dug two dozen potatoes for his breakfast. Then they were much interested in a field of beetroot which ought to be taken up. In Ulster an association was formed, which sent twenty-five Protestant labourers to his aid; the Government sent a company of infantry to guard them, not only during their sojourn on the estate, but also on their journey there and back.

The beetroots were taken in, but the situation became more strained every day. One fine morning it was found that all the cows’ tails had been cut off during the night. The following week two or three bullets whistled round the ears of the Captain and his escort[Pg 41] Then, when they wished to sell the famous tailless cows, no butcher in the country would buy them. It was resolved to send them to the English market. But the railway and steamboat companies were informed that they too would be laid under an interdict, if they carried them, so they refused to take them. However, the cows went, but a special boat, chartered by the Belfast Association, was sent to fetch them. But it is really neither pleasant nor lucrative to cultivate a farm under these circumstances. The struggle assumed Homeric proportions. It had lasted for a month or two when the landlords committed a great error. If they had combined and subscribed eight or ten thousand pounds to enable the Captain to carry on the war, they might have gained the upper hand, and the League would never have recovered from the check; but they did not do it. The Captain, who had shown marvellous courage, and who only wished to continue his resistance, was abandoned to his own resources and was forced to yield. At the same stroke the Land League triumphed, and the English language was enriched by a new word. The verb ‘to boycott,’ which expressed the action of interdicting any one, as Captain Boycott had been interdicted, is now quite admissible. It is commonly used, not only in conversation but also in judicial and parliamentary language. For the Land League it was a party triumph. Questionable before this event, it had now asserted its power so effectually that friends and enemies were both forced to bend before it. From that day it is incontestable that the Land League has been the de facto government in Ireland; at any rate it is the only one whose orders have never been disputed.

Like all truly great things, it has a very simple[Pg 42] organisation. Every parish has a committee elected by the unanimous suffrage of all its adherents; that is to say, of everybody in it, for, in nine-tenths of Ireland, there is not one man, above all in the country districts, who dares to refuse joining the Land League, or who neglects to pay his subscription regularly, although this is never less than one shilling per month. The parochial committee elects a president, who is often the parish priest, or even one of the vicars, if the priest is considered too lukewarm. A county committee is in constant communication, on one side with the presidents of the parish, and on the other with the central committee, which meets twice a week at the central office of the League at Dublin. No one exactly knows how much money is at the disposal of this committee; but it must amount to a considerable sum. On one hand the subscriptions are paid very regularly; on the other, there is not an American city that has not its Irish committee or who does not send subsidies. I do not know how much the subscriptions amount to, but some one, whose information is thoroughly reliable, told me that they had never received less than 4,000 dollars per week.

But all these funds are used. The League is generous, and it pays well for the services it receives. One day, three years ago, the Bishop of Cashel proposed to offer a substantial testimonial to Mr. Parnell as a token of their public appreciation of his work. A special subscription was opened, which in a few days brought in 40,000l.

The League first pays a number of agents, who constantly scour the country to keep up the agitation; it subsidises a mass of newspapers, and distributes a[Pg 43] quantity of pamphlets. In the country, it has recourse, above all, as a means of propaganda, to allegorical coloured pictures. The United Ireland has just published one which is already seen everywhere, and which depicts Mr. Gladstone armed with an enormous sabre, on which “Home Rule” is engraved, with which he is evidently about to reduce to mincemeat a three-headed hydra, of which each head has a strong likeness to either Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Randolph Churchill, or Lord Salisbury.

We must, however, mention that these funds are never used for election expenses. The latter are covered by the production of a special subscription. The Parliamentary Fund, which has already been able, in the last few days, to send 1,000 dollars (200l.) to every candidate who includes Home Rule in his programme. I now approach a burning question. For more than six years the League has governed Ireland. Since Captain Boycott, many others have been boycotted, and these interdictions, decreed by the Land League, have led to innumerable agrarian crimes—that is to say, that a considerable number of men and women have been assassinated for having infringed the orders of the League. Sometimes it has been proved that between the murderer and his victim some private hatred existed; but more often the assassin did not even know him; the victim was pointed out, and he was paid to commit the crime. Where did the money come from, and what part has the Land League played in these sad cases?

To answer these questions, we must first observe that agrarian crimes have always been common in Ireland. It is a tradition amongst the peasants that when tenants[Pg 44] have to complain of the landlord, or of one of his agents, they should subscribe a sum to offer to one of their number, who undertakes to deal the blow, and is sure of his escape to America. These peasant customs were honoured for a long time before the Land League existed. It would therefore be unjust to say that it created them.

It is, however, very difficult not to accuse it of a large share of responsibility for many of the crimes committed. Mr. Parnell, its President, first invented and recommended boycotting. Now, boycotting cannot exist unless it is effective, and it cannot be effective unless all those who are charged with carrying it out are placed under strict discipline. A rich man who is boycotted would evidently try to induce the butcher or the baker to furnish him with provisions. He would, if possible, offer them large sums to tempt them to yield. In order that this butcher or baker should resist their offers, they must know that their disobedience will expose them to serious danger.

Boycotting, therefore, entails absolute discipline, and since there can be no discipline without authority, it ends in intimidation. Now, from intimidation to murder there is only one step. The facts prove it. Mr. Parnell often repeats that the only day that he despaired of the future, and was on the point of renouncing the struggle, was when he received the news of the murders at Phœnix Park. This is very possible; but still, Mr. Parnell cannot deny that his system could not work two days if murders had not been committed. He blames the assassins, but profits by their deeds.

We must, however, acknowledge that the question can be looked at from another side. It is certain that[Pg 45] the Irish people are in a state of war or of rebellion, whichever you like, against England. This is incontestable. The war is carried on by extraordinary means, but still it is war. Mr. Parnell is therefore the chief of a belligerent army. He has regular troops: namely, the official agents of the Land League; and then he has irregular troops, composed of men who all aim at the same thing, but who will not submit to any discipline, and who advance towards their end by whichever road they fancy will lead them the most directly. In Italy, the Turcos committed some atrocities; they willingly collected the ears of the Croates left dead or merely wounded on the field of battle. These atrocities served to found the legend which rendered them so formidable, and this legend in some degree assisted to win the battle of Magenta. Marshal MacMahon was absolutely incapable of cutting off an enemy’s ears whether he were dead or wounded. He never gave any Turco the order to commit these abominations; he would certainly have punished any man who did it in his presence; but who can tell the influence these ears had upon the battle of Magenta where the general found a field-marshal’s baton and a coronet?

But it is certain that side by side with the Land League there are several secret societies existing, which have usually their head-quarters in America. They are or were under the direction of the notorious O’Donovan Rossa, and it is almost proved that these societies instigate many of the crimes which are committed. But, even whilst admitting, what I believe to be true, that the Land League never directly recommends attempts at manslaughter or attacks on the person, it can be reproached because it has hitherto expressed so[Pg 46] very little censure of such crimes after they have occurred. With the enormous and varied resources at its disposal, it would be very easy for the League to bring the guilty to justice, and by so doing it would completely silence its accusers; but this it has never yet attempted.

The office of the Land League is at 43, Upper O’Connell Street. Here I must again make an observation: this street, one of the most important in Dublin, is in reality Sackville Street. One day, on its self-created authority, I do not know for what reason, unless it was simply to assert its omnipotence, the League decided that it should bear the name of the great Irish agitator. Since that event there is not a car driver who does not pretend that he does not understand where you mean when you ask for Sackville Street. I have been told this quite seriously, but I have not been able to verify it as a fact; so that I only mention it as a statement made to me. When I enter the office I seem to be in a ministerial department. I was shown into a room where five or six people were writing; one of them took my card, and asking me to wait for his return, carried it to Mr. Harrington, the general secretary. Busy men passed to and fro, with papers they had brought for signature; an elderly white-haired man danced attendance with me. We began to talk. He was an Australian doctor, who had brought funds from a committee at Melbourne; I was at once filled with respect for an establishment, where they even kept a man waiting who brought them money.

At last I was informed that Mr. Harrington could see me. I found him in a large lofty hall ornamented with allegorical pictures; three or four secretaries were[Pg 47] seated round a table covered with a green cloth, opening letters and coming forward every moment to ask for instructions or to bring piles of telegrams, which arrive from all quarters. I own that all this made me feel thunderstruck. Here is an Association that openly conspires against the established Government, and that everywhere declaims against its odious tyranny. And yet the offices occupy a whole house within two steps of the Viceroy’s palace; it has a badge over the door so that no one could mistake it, and a policeman walks up and down the pavement to keep the carriages in their ranks. What a difference between this imposing establishment and the dark cave where all classical conspiracies are formed! And yet some people deny that we are progressing! Unfortunately it appears to me that this fact alone suffices for the undeniable condemnation of the English Government. It asserts that these people are rebels and assassins. How then can it allow itself to be defied by them in this way? The first duty of every government is to carry out the law and to protect peaceful citizens. When it does neither of these things it must be nearly at its end, and it is even right to wish that its end may come as soon as possible, in order to make room for another administration which will better realise its duties.

Mr. Harrington was born at Bantry, in the south of Ireland; four years ago he superintended a local publication named the Kerry Sentinel, and which naturally waged perpetual war against the English Government. From time to time the Administration has spasms of severity which are disastrous, because just as this severity is likely to become efficacious it is abandoned for a return to gentler measures.

[Pg 48]

One day it thought it desirable to prosecute Mr. Harrington, who had not said one word more nor less than two or three thousand others had said. He was sentenced to two months imprisonment and confined in Mullingar gaol. Whilst working out his punishment he had an altercation with the governor and was condemned to six days in the cells. This caused some excitement. At the same time the member for Mullingar was obliged to resign his seat, though I do not know for what reason, and Mr. Harrington was thereupon elected in his place.

I have had something to do with French conspirators, though as little as possible, but still I have had some intercourse with them. They are nearly all, physically as well as morally, rough and unwashed, clinging to their principles as though they were stilts; in fact, insufferable. There are a few amiable sceptics who shave and wash themselves sometimes, but they do it with such visible affectation, that after all when one meets them one begins to regret they are not like the others.

The conspirators in this country appear to me a hundred degrees above ours. They never shave, but that I believe is a professional necessity. I have read in many classic works that the conspirators of former ages had the habit of forging swords out of their chains. Since in the present century chains are no longer used, they apparently forge them out of the steel of their razors. You therefore never see a stage conspirator without a formidable beard. All the Land Leaguers that I have yet seen wear them; but their beards are well kept, and their owners are as amiable and gracious as possible.

[Pg 49]

Mr. Harrington is far from being an exception to this rule. When I told him that I expected to visit first the south of Ireland, his own county, he hastened in the kindest way to place himself at my service, and offered to give me all the letters of introduction that I could possibly require; he particularly promised me one for the local president of the Land League, at Castle-Connell, a letter, which could, if necessary, be used as an introduction to all the others. He at once dictated what was requisite to one of the secretaries, who a few minutes later brought the letter for his signature. It was written on magnificent crested paper with quite an official appearance. At our Admiralty, the chief of the staff always conducted his business in a similar style. I certainly am in a minister’s office.

From time to time some political notoriety came in to inquire what was going on, and I was fortunate enough to be introduced to two of them—men of whom I had often heard.

The first was a small deformed man with sparkling eyes. This was Mr. Biggar, formerly a bacon factor in Belfast, who, having launched into politics, has become the fidus Achates of Mr. Parnell and his friends, and one of the creators of the well-known “sore” (I cannot find any more suitable expression) that is usually called the Obstruction campaign.

In 1881, the Government, seized with one of those paroxysms of firmness to which I have already referred, and wishing to re-establish a little order in Ireland, demanded from Parliament, not the proclamation of a state of siege, but simply powers which would enable them to act rather more rapidly than the ordinary form of procedure would allow of. This is what is meant by the[Pg 50] Coercion Bill. Mr. Parnell and his friends, whom it was really intended to affect, were naturally anxious that this bill should not pass; but, being only a very small minority, they had no regular means of checking or preventing its progress. They therefore had recourse to tactics, which they had already used on different occasions, but in a less complete way. In the absence of any written rules, the English Parliament only obeys traditional customs. One of these customs is, that when a member is speaking he can continue as long as he likes, and an adjournment cannot be moved before all the members have spoken who have in writing given notices of their intention to move amendments.

At this time there were eighteen Nationalist members in the House. It was arranged that each of them should propose an amendment on every clause, and that each of them should not only support his own amendment, but also the motions of the other seventeen, each member speaking as long as his strength would allow. They had already tried this little game in 1877, and they had succeeded in making one sitting last twenty-four hours consecutively.

But they were determined to do better next time, and they kept their word. They commenced by protesting against the mere idea, that the state of Ireland justified the adoption of special measures; they asserted that far from getting worse, the situation was visibly improving; every one must know that in December, 1880, there were 867 agrarian crimes; but in January, 1881, there were not more than 448. And what crimes! In the first fortnight of the year, there was not a single murder. It was true that four houses had been attacked; two men had been shot at, but they[Pg 51] were not hurt; only one person had been rather seriously beaten, but it was not even suggested that his life was in danger! It must be remembered that all this was said quite seriously. I have copied these details from a book that Mr. Gray recommended to me for its veracity, and which was written by Mr. O’Connor, one of his parliamentary colleagues, the title of the book is The Parnell Movement. The discussion thus commenced was continued in the same tone; an Irish member rose and proposed an amendment, no matter what it was, then he commenced to speak on no matter what subject. One of them recited some verses, another commenced to read an old collection of laws. In England Parliament sits in the evening; a sitting commenced on Monday evening was prolonged through the whole of Tuesday and far into Wednesday night. The two parties had organised relays; on each side of the House only twelve members were left lying on the benches, and the sole interruptions they offered to the orator, was the sounds of their snoring; one old member being rather delicate, brought a blanket for the second night.

Irish eloquence still flowed on. At a quarter to five on Wednesday morning, Mr. Sexton began to speak, and continued his speech until twenty minutes to eight o’clock. Mr. Leamy replaced Mr. Sexton; then followed Mr. Biggar, who had been home to bed and had just come back. He commenced his speech by saying, with a pleasant smile: “Perhaps I’m trespassing on the patience of the House.”

Some one, who had just awakened, replied as he stretched himself:

“No, no!”

[Pg 52]

And, encouraged by these friendly words, Mr. Biggar continued.

But at nine o’clock A.M. the Speaker entered. During the night a meeting of principal members of the Tory Opposition had been convened by the Government. They all agreed that it was high time to end the scandal, and having arranged the course to be pursued, the members were hastily summoned by the Whips, and re-entered in crowds.

Mr. Biggar still went on; but the Speaker, without apparently noticing that he was speaking, suggested that the House should adjourn.

Mr. Biggar uttered cries of “Shame,” “Order,” &c., but the Nationalists were not then present in force. Mr. Parnell himself was absent. The adjournment was moved amidst the hurrahs of the whole House, and Mr. Biggar was forced to content himself with calling upon the people to witness the abominable tyranny of which he was the victim.

The eighteen endeavoured to re-commence that evening; but at the first words pronounced by one of them, the House rose in a body and voted for their expulsion.

All this is certainly very droll; but what can be gained by these childish tricks? The Irish demand the establishment of a National Parliament at Dublin. What will they do if the Protestant members from Ulster use towards the majority the same tactics they—the minority—have so constantly employed in London? Many of them dream of the establishment of a Republic. They need only cross over to France to see how Republican assemblies treat the representatives of a minority. Under the first Republic they[Pg 53] guillotined them purely and simply. In our days, they have invented special bye-laws for their benefit. Perhaps in a few months Mr. Biggar will preside over an Irish House of Commons. It will be curious to see how he will deal with obstructionists.

The other politician to whom I had the honour of being introduced during a visit to the offices of the Land League is Mr. Sullivan, the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Mr. Sullivan, a tall, thin, elderly man, with a proud intelligent face, is an author. It is said that he has published a volume of poetry, which was a great success. Unfortunately, I have not read it.

How different public customs are in this country from our own! A morning paper related that yesterday the Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Town Clerk and a deputation of eight members of the Corporation, went to open some public baths that the Town Council have just built in Tara Street. The inauguration was thus completed:—His Lordship having considered it was part of his duty, took a header into the bath; Mr. Beveridge, the Town Clerk, did the same; then these two gentlemen challenged each other, and the enthusiastic crowd watched a most interesting swimming race. Was the Town Clerk only a base flatterer? I cannot say. But, at all events, the Lord Mayor won by a length. The Freeman’s, which complacently reported this exploit, has unfortunately omitted some of the details we should like to have known. Did the Lord Mayor take off his curled wig? Did he wear drawers of the national colour? And was there a white harp to relieve the green foundation? Why did not the mace-bearers follow their chiefs? This would all be interesting information, which he should have[Pg 54] given; yet the writer of the article has neglected to mention these details.

I had a long conversation with one of these diving magistrates. Unluckily I could not congratulate him upon his aquatic success, for I did not hear of it until after our interview. From him, too, I asked for an explanation about the real grievances of Ireland against the present government by England; I say present, because I quite admit the validity of old complaints. I am absolutely convinced that in the last and even in the commencement of this century, England treated Ireland abominably. The stories of confiscation do not touch me at all; they happened from four to eight hundred years ago. If it is still maintained that a title of four hundred years is not sufficient to constitute a right of ownership, it would become necessary to search for the titles of the people who were then dispossessed, and this might take us some time. Had I lived in the time of the French Republic, or even of the Empire, it would have been my pleasure and my duty to send a bullet through the head of the man who had bought my family property from the nation; but I can now look at their descendants without any rancour, because everything ends in this world.

But to return to Ireland. I ask every one what are the actual grievances, and in what way can Home Rule ameliorate the situation? Here are the exact words in which the Lord Mayor answered this question:

“For a long time Mr. Gladstone, the grand old man, has felt what we needed in Ireland. And this is why the Tories (who hate us) are so indignant with him, that if to-morrow a tiger were to escape from a menagerie[Pg 55] and to devour him; there is not one Tory who would not exclaim ‘Thank God!’

“At last he has found courage to say aloud that which he has always really thought—we require Home Rule; and now, thank God, we shall get it!

“You say: But why should it be to England’s interest to see Ireland unprosperous? That is true. But would you like to be governed by Prussians? God never intended that one nation should submit to another! This is so true that a conquering nation, merely from the fact that it has conquered, is powerless to do good!

“But we certainly do not anticipate that Ireland will attain prosperity in one day, solely because it is governed by Irishmen. England has killed all our industries; we require time before they can be revived. We may perhaps make some mistakes. But whilst waiting for prosperity we shall bear our sufferings and our poverty more cheerfully, knowing that the amelioration of our fate only depends upon our own exertions.

“And besides this, the mere fact of the proclamation of Home Rule would have considerable influence over our material prosperity. You Frenchmen have no idea of the cavilling fiscal spirit which animates the English administration. All our towns are in a state of tutelage; our smallest expenses must be authorised; a special law is required before a loan can be raised, and the charges for the formalities that must be gone through before these laws can be obtained, are so high, that the cost is at once augmented to a disastrous extent.

“I can quote a recent instance of this. A short time ago we wished to lay water on to the town. The estimate was for 21,000l. Before we could obtain the necessary Act we had to spend 9,000l. in London.

[Pg 56]

“Even whilst admitting that quite as much might have had to be paid in any other country, at least the money would have remained in the country, whilst now, this 9,000l. only enriched the London barristers and lawyers, and was quite lost to Ireland.”

I trust that Mr. Sullivan will forgive me for saying that his first sentences reminded me of Victor Hugo’s style. The others contain an objection that may be well grounded up to a certain point.

Yet I am struck with two things. In the first place, I never heard the English administration blamed for excessive centralisation before to-day. I always thought that, on the contrary, its chief failures were due to excessive decentralisation. But in return I quite believe it to be, if not venal, at all events very expensive. In England everything is made an excuse for a fee, a word which means emolument, but which also slightly conveys the sense of “tip.” Amongst us, officials are absolutely prohibited from accepting anything whatever from the public. In England it is quite understood that, besides their salaries—which are very handsome—it is even legal that officials should claim remuneration for services, which, according to our notions, should be quite gratuitous.

This remark even applies to officers! Some years ago I saw the captain of an English merchant vessel come on board a French man-of-war, and ask permission to compare their chronometers with ours. The officer in charge of the watch hastened to render him this small service, and was quite astonished when, after the examination was over, the Englishman gravely handed him a sovereign, whilst the Englishman appeared still more surprised when the Frenchman refused the money[Pg 57] rather hastily. It seems that English officers consider gratuities are perfectly legitimate.

Another instance happened at Shanghai. The Taïping army menaced the city. The bankers fearing a night attack asked the French and English captains to take charge of their cash on board in order that it might be safe; a favour that was at once granted. Only, when after some days all danger was past and the bankers sent for their money, those who had confided it to the English men-of-war were quite surprised to receive with it a rather heavy bill.

There is neither robbery nor even indelicacy in all this, for it is quite openly done. Still a French officer who acted in this way would be boycotted by his comrades and brought before a court-martial by his minister. I only quote these incidents to show how much the English views upon many points differ from our own, and to explain how with such a well-established system of fees the smallest step may become onerous.

However, to return to the Lord Mayor’s business; it seems to me preposterous that 9,000l. should have to be expended before permission to spend another 21,000l. can be obtained. With us, this permission would be only too easily granted gratuitously, particularly if it referred to the formation of an Academic group. It is certain, that if the Irish must give 9,000l. to barristers, it would be better, for the welfare of their country, that this substantial windfall should fill Irish pockets instead of benefiting English counsel as it now does; and the Irish expect to attain this result by having a Parliament of their own at Dublin. But why should it be necessary to spend 9,000l.? It seems to me, that by changing[Pg 58] the method of procedure, by making it resemble ours, for instance, economy could be easily secured. The Lord Mayor’s argument proves that there are reforms to be made, and this no one denies; but they do not prove that in order to make these reforms it is indispensable to go as far as separation.

“Ce n’était pas la peine,
Non, pas la peine assurément,
De changer de gouvernement,”

says worthy Madame Angot, who was certainly no fool.

Whilst making these reflections in petto, I took leave of his lordship, who is more perfect than good King Henry himself, for, according to the old song, he had only three accomplishments, whilst the Freeman’s Journal unhesitatingly attributes four to Mr. Sullivan, since in the article I alluded to just now his position as a “diver” is established, and he is also called the “poet,” “patriot,” and “statesman” several times. He looks a thoroughly honest man, and yet the information that he gave has not explained Home Rule to me.

The remainder of my day was spent in several other calls, which I will mention in their proper place. They gave me an opportunity of exploring the city, which seems immense. In reality it has 249,000 inhabitants. The streets are superb and relatively clean; there are several fine monuments, and one or two charming parks; but the city is spoilt by the miserable expression worn by every one I meet. When I ended my conversations with the chiefs of the Land League, I felt almost converted to English doctrines; but the sight of these miserable faces drew me back to the Land League. It is really impossible to leave things as they are. When,[Pg 59] during the day, I saw people who had evidently neither breakfasted that morning nor dined the day before, and who had absolutely no reason for supposing that they would be more fortunate to-morrow, it seemed incredible, and I could not help remembering the contemptuous air which Englishmen assume when they allude to what passes in view on the Continent.

Mr. Gladstone’s first political action was a letter in which he denounced King Ferdinand of Naples to all Europe. This document said that he deserved to lose his crown because he did not know how to govern his people. I do not see that Mr. Gladstone has succeeded much better. It is not enough to blame others; one must do better oneself. I have seen all the worst parts of Naples; I have seen the ghetto at Rome; both are, or rather were, charming localities if we compare them to a part of Dublin that I passed through to-day, called the “Liberties.” The only liberty that seems left to the inhabitants is the liberty of remaining unwashed and of dying by starvation. This district was peopled by a colony of French Huguenots, who introduced the poplin industry, which has now almost disappeared, but which at one time employed four thousand workmen. If these unfortunate people whom I saw this morning are really the descendants of our fellow-countrymen, I can only advise them to try a second emigration. I quite understand that the results of the first may not encourage them to attempt a second, but they have nothing to lose by a change now.

Here we see the great misfortune of this country. No industry that has been established here has been able to last: there is neither coal nor iron. How can they compete with England under these circumstances?

[Pg 60]

When I say that all industries have collapsed I am mistaken. One of them is a great success. It belongs to Mr. Guinness, a brewer, whose establishment now occupies nearly one district in the west of the city, on the banks of the river, with which it communicates by means of a tunnel made under the quay, which serves for the delivery of the barrels of beer on to the barges anchored in the muddy bed of the Liffey.

What an illusion the Liffey is! From the treacherous words of the Irish poets I had expected to find a superb river. I only saw a filthy ditch.

Mr. Guinness’s industry only prospers because everything that these unfortunate people earn is spent in drink. The Catholic priests, in spite of all their influence, cannot eradicate the vice of drunkenness, which is so deeply rooted in all northern populations. To-day, whilst passing through a fairly important street, I noticed a house with Temperance Hall painted in large letters above the door. In the window were hanging publications and pictures antagonistic to insobriety. But on the steps lay an old woman who had fallen there quite tipsy. Her grey hair fell over her stupefied face. One could see her skeleton legs through the holes in her dress. A younger woman, probably her daughter, a little more sober, but still scarcely able to stand, tried to persuade her to continue on her way. The old woman would not listen, but rolled helplessly on the pavement. At last the woman staggered off. What an eloquent commentary upon the sermons placed in the shop-window!

Two election meetings are announced for to-day. Mr. Gray is to speak at the first, which will be held in the city: but as I had told him that I should be[Pg 61] delighted to see an election where a little noise was made, he advised me not to attend his, but to go instead to the one that would be held in the Town Hall at Rathmines, a large borough in the outskirts of Dublin, where they expect rather a tumult. Yesterday there was a very stormy meeting at the University, which returns two members. The Nationalist candidate, who, it is admitted, has not the shadow of a chance, was very badly treated by the students. They threw at him a dead cat, seventeen rotten eggs, one of which broke in the face of a courageous lady who had accompanied him on to the platform, and such a number of cabbage stalks that the most conscientious reporters were forced to give up the attempt to count them. At last he was forced to beat a retreat.

Now, it appears that the students, proud of their success yesterday, intend trying to disperse the meeting at Rathmines, or, at least, to make a disturbance there. Everything, therefore, points to an evening full of incident. It will be rendered doubly interesting because it is organised by the “Protestant Home Rule Association,” that is to say, by the few Protestants in the country who have joined Mr. Parnell—by the way, he is a Protestant himself—and who have now entered on the campaign in favour of Home Rule. They declare that, far from being alarmed, as the English often assert that they are, at the idea of being abandoned to the Catholics without some protection, some of the Irish Protestants are so convinced of the sentiments of justice and benevolence, or at least of tolerance, which animate the majority of their fellow countrymen, that they are among the most eager to demand separation.

A jaunting-car conveyed me in less than half an[Pg 62] hour to the door of a very simple building, which is the Town Hall of Rathmines. If England’s tutelage, complained of by the Lord Mayor, has only the effect of recalling to the minds of the municipal architects the simplicity of style they so frequently lose sight of at home, this tutelage can scarcely be considered absolutely injurious. The street is already blocked by the crowd. Apparently the police are under the impression that there will be some work for them, for a hundred policemen are grouped in one corner, ready to interfere when necessary, but content to look on for the present. Some strong young men wearing a green badge, act as stewards and guard the doors. Every one desiring to enter must show a personal invitation. These cards have been sent out during the day. I have only an envelope signed by Mr. Gray. At first, therefore, I encountered some difficulties, because the signature was almost illegible; but as soon as it was recognised, one of the stewards gave me a formidable slap on the shoulder, exclaiming: “Bedad, sorr, with that name there isn’t any door in Ireland that wouldn’t be open to you!”

I explained to him that for the moment my sole ambition was to find a place where I could see well, and above all hear well. My friend at once told me to follow him; pushing through the crowd like a boar, hustling every one that stood in his way, and in five minutes I find myself on the platform, two steps from the president, and quite close to a window; a very advantageous position, because, first of all, I could get a little air, and secondly, if the tumult became too serious, a small jump of seven or eight feet would enable me to gain a small side lane; and this I determined to do, if[Pg 63] necessary, without the least hesitation, for it would be too stupid to allow myself to be knocked down by a Nationalist, wounded by a student, or simply led off to the station by a policeman, all for the honour of “Ould Ireland,” although my martyrdom could not help her in any way.

When I had once formed my plan of campaign, I began to look about me. There was evidently electricity in the air. The hall could hold about three or four hundred people; a hundred-and-fifty or two hundred were crowded in a small gallery above the door, yet formidable pressure still took place from time to time, and on each occasion a fresh stream of people penetrated into the hall, and the new arrivals pushed forward against those who had entered before them. It was intensely hot, and already a good many present had taken off their coats. In order to pass the time they yelled out a patriotic song, commencing with God Save Ireland, which was accompanied from the street by an orchestra composed of five or six fifes and as many drums.

A few minutes later, a grey-haired gentleman rose quite near to me and advanced to the front of the platform, where he was joined by a short, deformed man with long hair. I don’t know where he came from. Instantly there was a great silence, and the former bowed to the assembly.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “seconded by my friend, Mr. Shackleton,”—Mr. Shackleton—that was the little hunchback—bowed, in his turn, so low that his hump appeared higher than his head. The applause was enthusiastic. Evidently this is an important personage. He is the second hunchback I have seen in the Land League.[Pg 64] Mr. Biggar, like Æsop, had only one hump; this man has two, like Punch. The tall speaker is called Mr. Alfred Webb. He continued:

“Seconded by my friend Abraham Shackleton, and in the name of the Protestant Home Rule Association I wish to ask your support for our candidate, Sir Thomas Esmonde, Baronet, who already represents the electoral division of South Dublin.”

This declaration was received with a tremendous noise. Every one stood up, hats flew into the air, or were waved at the end of enormous blackthorn sticks that are here called shillalahs, mouths opened like ovens, and gave vent to hurrahs that made the hall shake. The voters in the gallery thumped with all their force on the wooden balustrade, making it resound like a drum. My eyes were fixed on a short man, standing in front of me; he shouted and gesticulated so violently that I expected he would be seized with an epileptic fit. After a moment he evidently broke something in his throat, for with a despairing gesture he indicated that his voice would not come again, and, red as a tomato, he sank upon a bench to recover his strength.

The same accident probably happened to several others, for comparative silence ensued. Unfortunately, some one took advantage of it to cry: “Boys! Three cheers for the Grand Old Man!”

The “Grand Old Man” is Mr. Gladstone. Some years ago they called him “the old scoundrel.” Now he is called the “Grand Old Man” but the usual pronunciation is not sufficiently emphatic. It must be pronounced very slowly: g-r-r-r-r-and, with four or five r’s, ôld with three circumflex accents on the ô, and two on mân. Any other pronunciation lacks respect.

[Pg 65]

The quite novel idea of cheering “the Grand Old Man” made every one recover his strength. One gentleman in the gallery gave the signal by attempting to demolish the balustrade with his shillalah and the nine hurrahs broke out like a peal of thunder. Their enthusiasm was so great that when it ended one voice cried, “Once more,” and they recommenced.

But human strength has its limits, and I saw with pleasure that they were nearly exhausted. The second volley of hurrahs is not so hearty as the first. At last their throats could only utter inarticulate sounds; in spite of the efforts betrayed by their distorted features aphony was rapidly approaching.

The orators grouped near to me on the platform evidently awaited this result. One of them rose and began to speak. He first alluded to the meddling of the Court with the elections. He had scarcely launched into his subject before a young man suddenly rose at the back of the hall. “Long live the Queen! Down with the rebels!” he cried in a clear voice. Two or three other voices responded. It was the students who had just entered, but their arrangements were badly planned. Their adversaries had taken every precaution, and very few students had succeeded in slipping into the room.

The tempest was unchained, a forest of cudgels waved overhead. The students made an heroic defence, but in less than a minute they were overpowered, picked up and thrust out amidst growls resembling those of wild beasts.

However, the affair was not yet over. In the streets their friends attempted a diversion. The music which had recommenced ended in a despairing scream. A[Pg 66] heavy blow had broken one musician’s instrument in his face and the others took to flight. Some curious fights took place under my window; the combatants, so far as I could judge, seemed to display very serious and profound knowledge of the principles of the noble art of boxing, for in the twinkling of an eye I saw two or three noses broken. “A very illigant foight! Is it not, sorr?” said one of my neighbours, addressing me; he evidently considered it would be a personal favour if I declared myself anti-nationalist so that he might have the opportunity of commencing an equally “illigant foight” with me. I took care not to give him this satisfaction; on the contrary, I declared that I thought the fight most “illigant.” I begin to understand Irish very well, and even to speak it a little; it suffices to change most of the e’s into i’s and all the i’s into oi’s—for instance one must never say Ireland but “Oirrlande.” With these precautions progress is very rapid.

The students are decidedly not in force. In less than five minutes the incident is over, every one returns to his place, and the orators peacefully continue their speeches.

Most of them say very little; they are only the supernumeraries, the important topics are reserved for a little later on. The appearance of the hall is the interesting and instructive spectacle. The meeting is evidently composed of men belonging to the lower middle class; they are shopkeepers or clerks. There are a few torn jackets, but very few; in such an assembly one ought to find comparative moderation, but on the contrary, all these men seem really and unquestionably exasperated. When, just now, the students shouted “Long live the Queen,” and when since that an orator[Pg 67] has pronounced her name, hisses and groans were heard on all sides. I consider this is one of the most serious aspects of the situation. Mr. Gladstone, once a constitutional minister, has assumed a revolutionary attitude; he has stripped the throne of its “divinity,” the name of the Queen is now treated with more contempt than the names of her ministers. The speakers, to do them justice, make no effort to excite this feeling; they constantly refer to Home Rule, but when they allude to the idea of absolute separation, or to a republic, they do so in terms which indicate that they will not even honour the question by discussing it. Do orders, resulting from political calculation, produce this state of things, or does it proceed from real conviction? I cannot tell, I can only state the fact; but I must also own that their contemptuous words were not echoed by the crowd. At last the candidate rose. Sir Thomas Esmonde is quite a young man, it appears that he is twenty-three, but he does not look more than eighteen or twenty. It is said that his fortune is very much reduced, and his family, which is far from adopting the same political views, and which now refuses to meet him, explains that it is with the hope of recovering his position that he has thrown himself into the arms of the League with so much enthusiasm.

This is another sign of the times. Formerly in England political opinions had no influence over social relations. It is said that a few years ago when Mr. Labouchere, widely known as the editor of Truth, was presented to the Prince of Wales, he, with an amiable smile said, “No doubt your Royal Highness is aware that I am a red republican.” This is quite possible in a country where the theories of social distinction not only have[Pg 68] never been practised, but even seem never to have any chance of being applied. In an English drawing-room one may come into pleasant intercourse with a gentleman who explains that the landowners should be deprived of their property and that their throats should be cut on the altar of the country; because in England this has never happened, and until lately no one saw that there was any possibility of it happening. In France for a long time these encounters have been most disagreeable, and in Ireland I am led to believe that the people begin to avoid them. I am told that Sir Thomas Esmonde is “cut” by the society that he frequented before he entered political life.

However, they have not yet reached the odious personalities which too often dishonour our election struggles; and, I notice with pleasure, that the candidate’s first phrases are devoted to saying in a few words that he considers his opponent, Mr. Todhunter Pym, a perfectly honest man, and that he delights in recalling the services rendered by his father. I always acted in this way in our election meetings, and I can recollect the stupefied expressions of our adversaries’ partisans and the alarmed faces of our own when they heard me break through old traditions in such a fashion.

Otherwise I am bound to say that the shadow of the illustrious Grattan does not seem to inspire his descendant. If the truth must be owned, the honourable candidate stutters a little and consults some papers, which contain his improvisation, a little unreasonably. This is perhaps excusable because his speech bristles with figures. Beyond this it contained nothing very new.

Ireland has always been oppressed. All its industries[Pg 69] have been successively sacrificed to the Machiavellian calculations of the English; first the silk manufactures, then the cotton have disappeared. Only agriculture remains. Now agriculture itself is threatened; it is dying of anæmia. Every year it pays nearly seventeen million pounds in rent, of which six millions are spent abroad by landowners who never visit Ireland. The country is therefore impoverished every year to the extent of six million pounds. How can it resist such a drainage!

“It is said that emigration is the only cure for the misfortunes of Ireland. On the contrary, emigration is killing her. In the first place, it is not true that she is too populated. Italy has 239 inhabitants per square mile”—(Oh! Sir Thomas! how wrong it is to juggle with figures in that fashion! You are quoting the statistics of Milan and Lombardy. If you took those of the Pontine Marshes or of Calabria, I think your argument would fall to pieces)—“Germany has 201; Holland, 181; France, 180; and Ireland only 169. And yet Ireland is much more fertile than England, or than most other countries.” (Oh, Sir Thomas!)

And then he added, “We suffer from a want of capital. Now at least four million Irishmen have emigrated in the last thirty years. Each man has spent at least 6l. on his voyage, this therefore amounts to twenty-four million pounds sterling, which Ireland has lost through emigration.” (Really, Sir Thomas, you are making fun of your audience! For one Irishman who has gone straight to America, ten have gone to England first, in search of fortune. Now whilst admitting that the emigrants to America have each spent 6l. on their journey, and this is far from true, for the ship[Pg 70] companies take a whole family for 6l., a great many of them have simply spent four or five shillings in reaching the English coast. I think that if you reduced your numbers by seven-eighths you would perhaps be a little nearer the truth.) “Now if Ireland had retained this twenty-four millions, her agriculture would be flourishing and prosperous.”

The last few sentences particularly called forth immense enthusiasm.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “it is a solemn hour. This is the last time that I shall solicit your votes to send me to London. In a few months you will be called upon to vote again, and this time to return me as your representative to our national Parliament in Dublin. My election is not doubtful; but it is important that the large majority you gave me last time should be increased now, to prove to England that there is but an infinite minority of Irishmen who are not determined to acquire Home Rule!”

Sir Thomas Esmonde was followed by a ferocious looking doctor, who handled the English in general, but Lord Randolph Churchill in particular, very roughly; he appeared to cherish a special animosity against the latter. What had he done to him? I do not know. But if I were Lord Randolph I would avoid that doctor if I were ill.

I hoped for some compensation when Mr. Abraham Shackleton began to speak. I had heard that he was a Quaker. The only thing that I ever understood about the religion of that sect was that its members never wore buttons to their coats, always kept on their hats, and thee’d and thou’d everybody. Now his waistcoat was buttoned, his head was only covered with badly-combed[Pg 71] hair, and I heard him say to the Lord Mayor, who came in; “How do you do?” This immediately put me on my guard, for I have a horror of renegades. I therefore only waited to hear him declare that he would rather be oppressed by a Catholic like his friend the Lord Mayor than protected by a Protestant like Mr. Chamberlain; then I slipped out, only too happy to breathe the fresh air once more.

Mr. Gray had invited me to smoke a cigar with him at Pembroke House after the meeting. It was already nearly eleven; however, I took advantage of his kind invitation. I was conducted to a magnificent library by a neat little maid who did not appear to have suffered much from Ireland’s misfortunes, nor particularly from famine, for she is quite plump. The master of the house had returned already; he was relating to Mrs. Gray all the incidents of his meeting, which had been very successful. From time to time a small bell recalled him to a telephone placed in the middle of the table. The special wire for the newspaper began to transmit the results of the English elections and the news was immediately forwarded to him. They were not brilliant for the Liberals. From all sides came tidings of the Conservative successes. Mr. Gray’s features expressed great annoyance.

“Bah!” said he at last, “we are beaten! Well, the English will have it hot! There must be new elections before six months are over!”

Apparently this means that there are a few good nights of obstruction reserved for the members of the House of Commons. How strange Mr. Gray’s position is! For in fact, however they may try to dissimulate it, the Irish claims if they do not yet amount to [Pg 72]communism as their avowed object—and they may still retain a few illusions upon that point—still it is quite certain that the methods employed by the Land League would not be disowned by the most advanced Communists. No one can proclaim the principle of permanent State intervention in a bargain regulating the value of the land without being a Communist.

Now amongst us there is no lack of rich Communists; but they are only men who are outcasts from their own class, and who have thrown themselves into the party through hatred of the society which they feel is closed against them; for they all lead irregular lives, or else have a blot on their past. Mr. Gray’s case is quite different. He belongs to an excellent family, his perfect respectability has never been questioned, even by his worst enemies. He leads the most regular life; has a large fortune, and yet places all these advantages, and his undoubted abilities, at the service of Communism. Either he shows admirable disinterestedness, or else the race of people, who, mounted on a tree, cut on the side nearest the trunk the branch that supports them, is not yet extinct.

I must now sum up the conversations I have had with these gentlemen during the day. First, I must affirm, that they all declare in the most positive way, that in asking for Home Rule they have no after-thoughts; they do not dream of complete separation. They wish to have autonomy, and power to regulate their own affairs, but they are all ready to contribute to the common expenses. They do not think of independence, still less of a republic. They are quite decided on this point. Besides they also explain, very clearly, that the separation, which would be a wound and a menace for[Pg 73] England, would be death for their country. Irish productions are exclusively agricultural, and England is the only market that geography allows them. England can buy whatever cattle or pigs she requires from other places; Ireland can only sell hers in England. Suppose that a lucky rebellion drove every Englishman out of the island; to bring Ireland to her feet, England need not blockade the Irish ports, she has only to close her own against Irish productions. Under these circumstances separation would evidently be suicide.

This once understood, they willingly say when they are asked about the agrarian laws, that they quite acknowledge how much danger State intervention in the relations between the farmers and the landlords involves, and how much the principle of that intervention is opposed to the most elementary laws of economy. “But,” they add, “necessity has no law. With us emigration is a last resource that every man endeavours to avoid.” (This quite upset all my theories; I fancied that Irishmen were much inclined to emigrate.)

“An Irishman never emigrates except through compulsion or force. A ruined man will take a farm at any price, knowing perfectly well that it will be impossible for him to pay for it, but also knowing that the landlord will give him credit for the first year or two’s rent, and that he will thus postpone the day when he must seek work in England or America as long as possible.

“Under these circumstances the law of supply and demand is evidently vitiated, and it is by looking at the question from this point, that we can maintain that the work of the Land League has done good. Without our intervention the landlords would have depopulated one-half of Ireland, for agriculture is in such a distressed[Pg 74] state that it is naturally impossible for farmers to pay their rent in the present state of the division of land; the only remedy for this situation is the formation of small holdings, which have so much enriched France.”

Here I stopped them. “But,” said I, “the agricultural crisis is not confined to your country. It exists all over Europe. We, Frenchmen, are suffering so much from it that in my department of the Aisne, one of the richest in France, one-tenth of the land is abandoned, because it is found that at present prices the sale of produce does not cover the expenses of cultivation. The peasant proprietors of whom you speak are absolutely ruined now, because their land has lost all its value. Now, allow me to say, without offending you, that our land and our climate are far better than yours.

“This state of things, which prevails all over Europe and which is the result of facility of transport, can only have two solutions: emigration or protection. Up till now you have had recourse to emigration, and you have managed comparatively well since the failure in the potato harvest, which led to the famine in 1847, when you had nine million inhabitants. In 1877 it only caused less misery because there were four or five million less mouths. It appears that now you do not wish for any further emigration, unluckily, protection is almost impossible. We can apply it at home. We have already done so, and shall do it again. It is possible because we are a very homogeneous people, where all industries work side by side. When we ask the blacksmith to pay a little more for his bread in order that his neighbour, the farmer, may live, he easily understands that if the farmer is ruined he will no longer have horses to be shod. Besides, the farmer is his neighbour,[Pg 75] perhaps his relation. With you everything is different. You only produce meat and butter, and only English workmen can possibly buy them. You require their custom, they do not need yours, and, more than this, you loudly proclaim that you do not belong to the same race, that between you and them there is war to the knife, that you wish to be as completely separated as possible, compatible with your own interests without paying the least attention to theirs. How can you hope to succeed when you act in this way?”

In my opinion these gentlemen have not answered my objections in a satisfactory manner. They do not appear to know that the agricultural crisis exists anywhere but here. In principle they would be partisans of the protective system, but they recognise that they cannot hope to obtain it from England, at least for a long time.

What form of government do they intend giving to autonomic Ireland? As a rule these men evade giving any decided information on the subject, and this is very natural. Give us the principle, they say, the first Irish Parliament will regulate all matters of detail. However, before giving the principle, it is natural enough that England should wish to know what the consequences will be. An article in the Nineteenth Century, from the pen of Mr. Barry O’Brien, has recently dealt with this question.

According to him, there are five men who, in public opinion, so completely personify the cause of Ireland that their ideas would prevail whenever it became a question of giving definite form to the Nationalist aspirations. These five men are Messrs. Parnell, Davitt, Healy, Archbishop Croke, and Archbishop Walsh. Now, according to what we know of their[Pg 76] opinions, we may form an exact idea of the combination they would uphold. It would consist in:

The creation of an Irish Parliament, sitting at Dublin, and invested with the most extended legislative powers on all local subjects; it would consequently make all the laws relating to questions of property, justice, police, and commerce. But the Imperial Government will preserve an absolute authority upon all the following questions:—Foreign relations—especially the right of declaring war—the army, navy, coinage, posts, and customs. All the Imperial expenses would be covered by means of a tax, collected before any other levy, from the Irish revenue, and the payment of this tax would be received by crown officials.

Would the Irish Parliament admit of an Upper House? Yes; in all probability. Mr. Dwyer Gray is a great partisan of this idea. Only he states, with deep regret, that all the Irish peers, having up to the present time shown themselves absolutely hostile to any project of Home Rule, and besides having lost any kind of political influence, it would probably be difficult to have recourse to them to form the Upper House. But he does not say who would replace them.

A second question arises: Would Ireland return members to the Imperial Parliament as Mr. Gladstone proposes? This idea alone exasperates the English considerably, for they say that if separation is forced upon them, they will at least be spared the insult of seeing the Irish continue to take part in the elaboration of laws, to which they will themselves be subject no longer. Many Irishmen renounce this privilege. It is, however, known that the Archbishops greatly desire it, because they consider that in the regulation of religious [Pg 77]questions, the influence of Irish Catholics might often be useful to the interests of their English co-religionists. Mr. Parnell also shares their views.

Such in its main lines is the programme desired by the Land League. It includes very onerous and very dangerous sacrifices for England. And then as Mr. R—— said, we may ask, whether when once these sacrifices are made, the Irish encouraged by their success, will not take them as a starting-point for new claims. Unfortunately the history of popular revolutions shows, that once entered on the pathway of concessions, it is very difficult for a government to stop.

However, it appears to me that in this respect the Irish revolution will offer some guarantees, of which the others were quite destitute. In this country there exist very powerful elements of social preservation. In the first place, religion has an enormous influence, that later events have only augmented. Then the war of classes is certainly not carried to its highest point, nor has it at all the same character as with us. The peasant’s hatred is not roused against the landlord because he is noble and rich, but because he is Protestant, and represents in his eyes the invader. The Irish who return from America bring with them ultra democratic ideas, which are, perhaps, propagated; but up to now, the bulk of the nation does not hold them. With us, in the eyes of all good democrats, it is an irremediable blot to belong nearly or distantly to the nobility. The Marquis de Songeon could not obtain a nomination to the Municipal Council of Paris, although he was atheist and radical to the last degree, unless he called himself M. Songeon. Here, in every case, where a man can attach himself to a noble family, he never[Pg 78] fails to do it, and as soon as a political man begins to attain notoriety, every newspaper belonging to his party asserts that he is a direct descendant from the Irish kings. Verily there must have been a great many of them!

In London, in Mr. R——’s drawing-room, I heard the Land League and Home Rule discussed from the English point of view; Messrs. Harrington, Gray, Biggar, and O’Sullivan have spoken to me about it from the Irish side. I am therefore well acquainted with the theoretical view of the question. Now I wish to see the Land League at work. In this respect, Ireland is divided into two very distinct parts, which are very unequal in size. In the first, which includes Ulster, and is much the smaller, the population is nearly equally divided between the two religions. In this province the Land League has been unable to establish its authority in an absolute way; it is always in the militant stage. In the south, on the contrary, the Protestant element, we may say, is non-existent, or at least is only represented by a few landowners. The Land League was able to establish itself there without any struggle. Its authority is unquestioned. Consequently everything that happens there is the application of its doctrines. I must therefore study them in the south. With this object I leave to-morrow for Limerick, where Colonel M—— has kindly invited me to stay with him. From there I shall branch off into Kerry and Clare, and I fancy that it is in that direction that I shall have the best opportunity of examining the work of this formidable machine which, for the last four years, has held all the powers of the English Government in check.

[Pg 79]



5th July.—Yesterday morning at eight o’clock I left Dublin to commence my tour in the Irish counties. Shelburne Hotel is feeling the effects of passing events for it is nearly empty. I am told that formerly at this season it would have been impossible for them to have given me a room—at all events to have kept one for me in advance—for it was the time when all the upper classes of Irishwomen met in the capital to pay their respects to the Viceroy, and to be kissed by him, for it appears that this is the essential point in the viceregal receptions. The Viceroy should kiss every lady presented to him, and when duels were still fashionable in Ireland, it would have been most imprudent for the Viceroy to show indifference whilst kissing any of the beauties who passed before him; the father, brother, husband, or betrothed would certainly have inquired his reason for such unjustifiable coolness. And, moreover—I cite this fact for the benefit of any travellers[Pg 80] who may wish for instruction in the matter—the art of kissing Englishwomen is extremely delicate, and involves a number of important details. It is scarcely necessary to say that as a rule it is more prudent to abstain even from kissing the hand, which our custom recognises, but which on the other side of the Channel is considered full of mental reservations. But under certain circumstances this reserve constitutes an unpardonable offence. For instance, if you should be invited to pass Christmas in an English family, take care as you enter to glance at the chandelier. You may make a bet that a large branch of mistletoe will be hanging there. In that case, if you do not wish to pass for the most ignorant or vulgar of men, you are in duty bound to immediately and unhesitatingly kiss every female in the house, from the grandmother to the smallest girl. Custom imperatively demands this attention, and the English of both sexes cherish it so greatly that in colonies where mistletoe does not grow it is imported by shiploads in time for that festive season.

But then, we have only to consult English history to see what an important part has often been played by kissing, both in military and political cases. They say that in the last century a Duchess of Marlborough, hearing that her husband’s regiment had sustained heavy losses and that the recruiting sergeants had some trouble in filling up the ranks, on one occasion accompanied one of them to the market, holding a shilling between her lips, which she offered to every recruit who would take it with his own; and the story-teller gallantly adds that in an hour the total strength of the[Pg 81] regiment was fully reached, and that they could have recruited a whole brigade in the same way had they wished it.

At the present time a kiss can still have great political influence. In order to oppose the Land League, Lady Randolph Churchill has founded a counter-league solely composed of women, which has been marvellously successful. Each member of the Primrose League undertakes to neglect no means, during the elections, of enticing voters to the Conservative party, and it is stated that some of the prettiest women unhesitatingly adopt the same method that the Duchess of Marlborough found so successful. But in spite of all these precedents we should advise tourist novices to be very careful. They had better sin through omission than by commission, for exaggerated eagerness or warmth might be misunderstood. A manual might be written on these serious questions.

Did or did not Lord Aberdeen, the late Viceroy, impartially kiss all the ladies of the Irish nobility and gentry who were suffering from the Land League, or did they wish to punish him for his Gladstonian tendencies by not giving him even a chance? I do not know. But in any case there is no season this year and the Shelburne is almost empty. The proprietors endeavour to console themselves with the aid of a few rich American tourists, and I must own that when a passing Frenchman falls into their hands, they treat him precisely like the Americans. It was after experiencing this fact that I confided my portmanteau and its owner to the tender mercy of a car-driver to take me to Kingsbridge station. But, since yesterday was Sunday, I explained to him that[Pg 82] I wished first to be driven to a Catholic church to hear mass, instructions that might have lowered me in the opinion of a French carriage-driver, but which in Dublin won for me the most unequivocal marks of consideration from this son of green Erin.

He first drove me to a chapel built on the banks of the river, in one of the poorest and most miserable districts, not far from Guinness’s brewery. I was extremely struck with all I saw.

When I entered, mass was about to commence; five or six hundred persons were kneeling on benches or on the ground. I do not think that amongst the whole number there was a single one whose appearance did not indicate the deepest misery. By my side five or six men were telling their beads. They were almost colossi, with bull-dog heads, very short cropped hair and unshaven chins. They wore patched woollen shirts and looked like dock porters. A little further away there was a group of twelve or fifteen women, frightfully thin, with the hungry worn-out look one sees on so many faces over here. All these miserable creatures had evidently attempted to tidy themselves for Sunday. Most of them wore shoes. I am told that these shoes go to the pawnbroker regularly every Monday, and are redeemed on Saturday evening for Sunday’s mass. The dresses have lost all their colour and their lank folds show there is nothing worn underneath, but the poor owners all pray with marvellous fervour. I have never seen in any church the striking and sincere faith then visible amongst these unfortunate Irish whom Providence seems to have condemned to such a hard life.

At the station I gained some information that made[Pg 83] me a little anxious. It appears that on Sundays the trains run very irregularly. They could, therefore, only give me a ticket to Limerick Junction, about twenty or thirty miles from the city; but the officials told me that excursion trains often ran on Sundays from Cork to Limerick, perhaps I could catch one of them; so I entered the train on this rather doubtful chance.

The appearance of the country through which we pass is very strange. I now understand the names “Green Erin” and the “Emerald Isle” which are so often found in Irish poetry. Green is the scarcely undulating plain which extends on each side of the railway; green also are the slightly elevated hills which bound the horizon. We may say that there is no agriculture. Only from time to time we catch sight of some fields of potatoes and oats. Not a single tree. The fences are only heaps of earth—the same enclosures that in Brittany are called fossés, only here there is seldom any hedge. My fellow-passengers explained to me that when a landowner wishes to make a plantation, everything is at once cut down by the tenants, or else they let their horses feed on the young trees, because they say no one has any right to deprive the people of the land by which they live.

In quality all this pasturage is very indifferent. The soil is not worth anything, but I expected at least to see the fields well kept. But, in reality, this is far from being the case. There is not one in fifty that does not manifestly require drainage, for they are all overrun with rushes. A fanciful agriculturist with whom I travelled gravely assured me that these rushes are much appreciated, because in winter the cattle know how to pull them up and eat the white part that is hidden in[Pg 84] the earth. I was too polite to laugh in his face; I was content to point out to him that the intellectual effort and intelligence which the cattle must develop in order to procure this food seems to interfere with their growing fat; the blade wears out the sheath; this explains why all those we pass are in such poor condition. Besides, the quantity as well as the quality is deficient. The pasturage would feed more animals than are now grazing upon it, for the grass is not sufficiently cropped. This all indicates a lack of capital.

Sir Thomas Esmonde told us yesterday that we should not find land to be compared to Ireland anywhere else. I suppose he was scarcely alluding to this district. Still, I read in a book of statistics—and the fact is confirmed by my fellow-travellers—that County Kildare and Queen’s County, which we are now passing through, both rank amongst the most fertile parts of Ireland. At all events there is less misery in them now than in any other counties. Whenever, in Dublin, the poverty of the population was spoken of, I was always told that I must go to the south and west to really appreciate it.

This leads me to make a comparison that again seems to contradict the assertions of the orator at Rathmines. Sir Thomas told us that emigration was one of the chief causes of the ruin of Ireland. Now, Queen’s County, which suffered enormously from famine in 1847, is precisely the county where there is the most visible diminution of the population. Queen’s County contained about 160,000 inhabitants in 1847; 153,000 in 1841. Its superficial area is 425,000 acres, of which 55,000 acres are absolutely unproductive. It was therefore necessary that 370,000 acres should feed 150,000[Pg 85] inhabitants. This makes almost one inhabitant to each two and a half acres, which is a very heavy average for a stock-raising country. It is not nearly so high with us, and it was evidently too much for the country, since many of the people died of hunger.

The population has diminished by more than one-half; there are now only 75,000 inhabitants, and if it seems proved that it suffers less than other counties from the present crisis, how can they declare that emigration is a source of ruin?

Turf pits are noticeable in every part of the land. Most people know how this curious combustible is formed. During the summer some cold damp countries become covered with an abundant vegetation of moss and herbage that forms a very close and thick undergrowth. These plants die every autumn. During the winter their decomposition produces a layer of leaf mould, in which a new vegetation of plants of the same species springs up again, and its rich growth mingling in its decay with that of the preceding year, the soil is thus annually raised by successive layers. Sometimes it reaches twelve or fifteen feet in height. Whilst digging in this mass of vegetable matter, enormous oaks are frequently discovered, after being buried for thousands of years, and the wood having become very close and perfectly black is much in request for cabinet-making, etc. They are called bog oaks. A quantity of stag and elk horns are also found, which prove that formerly Ireland was richer in large game than she is now; for, with the exception of a few found at Killarney, the stag has completely disappeared. The peat is formed by these accumulations of roots. The lower layers which have been compressed by the[Pg 86] others are the most appreciated. They are dug out with a spade, in black bricks, which are afterwards dried in small heaps. This is the sole fuel used by the Irish peasants, for it is now a long time since the forests were destroyed, and there is not a single coal-mine in the whole country. On a hearth, well-dried peat makes a fairly good fire; but its extreme lightness renders it almost useless for any industrial purposes. The smallest draught draws up the tall chimney all the fuel that is between the bars. Still, a little is used in a few factories in Germany.

Peat is therefore a very indifferent resource as fuel. This is very unfortunate for Ireland, as she has a great quantity of it. It forms the subsoil of at least half the pasturage we pass through. Every moment we see a large black trench at one corner of the field. Here the farmer digs out his fuel.

I am told that this indifferent, badly-kept pasturage is usually let as 2l., 3l., and 4l. the acre. The Irish acre is larger than the English. It is almost as large as one of our arpents, viz., an acre and a quarter. The hectare, nearly two and a half acres, is therefore let at 4l. to 10l. This is certainly much too dear. A Normandy farmer would not pay that price. In Calvados, pasturage resembling that which I have seen here would not be worth more than 3l. 10s., or 4l. an hectare. And then the farmer would be in a better position for working it, since first he would derive some profit from his apples; and besides this, he would have the command of sufficient capital to buy the necessary herd of animals, a capital that none of these people seem to possess.

I compare this country to Normandy for two reasons. In the first place, they have the same productions; in[Pg 87] the second, the same market. London prices regulate those of both countries. And we must also remember that Normandy is nearer to London than Ireland. On the other hand, the burdens that weigh upon the French farmer are much the heavier. The land-taxes are dearer with us than in England. The expenses of registration, so onerous in our country, do not exist on this side of the Channel. I saw the deed of sale of a property worth 4,000l.; the only duty to pay was a fee of 30s. In France the registration would have absorbed about 400l. Military service also weighs very heavily upon our agriculturists. And, evidently, all these things should be taken into account. However, when the Land Leaguers say that the rents are too high, I think they are right. But then, why do the tenants take the land at that price?

In the country we seldom see a group of houses; there seems nothing resembling our villages. Only at long distances, three or four cottages are visible clustered round a pond; as a rule, they are isolated. Externally, the houses do not look so miserable as I had imagined them to be. They are certainly small and low, but they are all carefully whitewashed, and their thatched roofs are generally in good order; but the gardens appear very badly kept.

I can boast of wonderfully good luck. Can it be my introduction to Messrs. Biggar and Shackleton that has brought it to me? When I reached Limerick Junction I saw a locomotive getting up steam in a corner of the station. It is one of the excursion trains that I had been told to look out for; I hurried into a carriage and arrived at Limerick just in time to catch another which conveyed the Limerick people, who were fond of nature,[Pg 88] out of the town to pass their evenings at Athlone; about five o’clock it deposited me at Castle Connell Station, about a mile from my destination.

But I had not found anything to eat on the road; all the refreshment-rooms are closed on Sunday. Luckily Castle Connell is frequented by a good many Englishmen who fish for salmon, and for their benefit one of those good little inns has been established where one can never find anything but an enormous piece of roast beef, but where this roast beef, the roast beef of Old England, is always delicious. Consequently five minutes after my arrival I was seated before one of those excellent products of English civilisation, from which I cut formidable slices that only just touched my plate. Whilst I was thus occupied, the landlady, a woman of respectable appearance, who called me “sir” with every three words, sent for a jaunting-car to take me to Ballinacourty, Colonel M——’s house. In a few moments I saw a tattered personage ornamented with a very red nose, and cheeks framed with a superb beard cut like a Russian Grand Duke’s, enter the room. It is wonderful how hairy the Irish race are! It is probably the damp air of the country which produces this great development of the capillary system. This individual is the driver to whom I must confide myself.

“And it’s to the Colonel’s I’m to take your honour?” said this modern Esau with the finest accent that can be heard.

“Yes, it is to the Colonel’s that you must take my honour. One mile from here! You know the way?”

“Do I know my own mother? Ah, your honour, it’s just as though your honour asked did I know the Colonel. Your honour! blessed be the saints, and a[Pg 89] foine gentleman he is! Every time he sees me, your honour, he offers me a dhrink.”

“And how much do you want for the drive?”

“How far did your honour say it was from here to Ballinacourty?”

“A mile. I saw it on the map.”

“A mile!”

The idea that it was only a mile from Castle Connell to Ballinacourty seemed so droll to him that he called the waiter, laughing heartily as he did so.

“Hear this, Tim?” said he. “Here his honour says that to go to the Colonel’s it is only a mile!”

Tim also found this idea so ridiculous that he laughed till his old coat threatened to split, but feeling his dignity compromised by this burst of hilarity, he wiped his face with a dirty napkin and politely apologised:

“Beg your pardon, sir!” said he, “but, holy Mother of God, there are at least four miles, and the road is very bad.”

“No, Tim, no,” replied the driver with a noble air, “the road has been mended, and it is not four miles; it is a little over three; but there, we will only say three. You know this gentleman is going to the Colonel’s, a man who never forgets to offer a dhrink, does he, Tim?”

“Never!” said Tim with an air of conviction; “he offered me one the day before yesterday.”

But as it was evident the driver had already met some foine gentlemen who had given him a great many more dhrinks than was good for him, I chose not to understand his hints. At last, in despair at my want of intelligence, he decided to put my portmanteau upon his car. We seated ourselves back to back, and in spite of the disadvantages of this[Pg 90] position from a conversational point of view, we soon became good friends. He even thought it his duty to do the honours of the local curiosities.

Castle Connell is now only a small village frequented by the fishermen, who are attracted by a desire to tease the salmon in the Shannon; but its past is more glorious, for it was once the capital of one of those innumerable kings who rendered to modern Irishmen a service they now seem to appreciate very highly, by enabling them all to claim a royal descent. It was the O’Briens, kings of Munster, who inhabited Castle Connell. They built on the banks of the Shannon a castle of which we still see the ruins, not far from the spot where the hotel now stands. To borrow a verse from king Pharaoh’s celebrated ballad, these monarchs though legitimate were full of perversity, and this led to their committing many crimes, thanks to which they became very rich and very powerful; but unfortunately for them they had one virtue, and this was enough to ruin them. They were exceedingly hospitable. But that is a common virtue in Ireland, and has ruined many families from the days of the O’Briens to the present time. The Irish gentry have always carried hospitality to such a point, that it formed the most expensive of all luxuries. The table was always laid, who ever liked was welcome, and the best in the house was reserved for strangers, until the sheriff’s officer intervened. Now Irish landlords no longer dine with each other, because they dare not go out in the evening for fear of being shot. If this wise reform now due to the benevolent watchfulness of the Land League had taken place fifty or sixty years sooner many Irish gentlemen would have escaped ruin. But Mr. Parnell and his agents commenced their work too[Pg 91] late, when the majority of landlords were already completely ruined; and consequently they feel no gratitude towards the new arrangements. It was therefore a taste for hospitality which ruined the dynasty of Castle Connell. One fine day the reigning O’Brien invited one of his friends to dinner. The latter profited by this invitation to introduce some of his followers into the castle, and seized the too hospitable dwelling. He then put out the eyes of his host and ruled in his place. In analogous circumstances Samson unhesitatingly sacrificed his life to his vengeance. He pulled down his own house and crushed the three thousand Philistines who were in it beneath the ruins. Apparently the last of the O’Briens did not seek to revenge himself in equally heroic fashion. In the first place, he was assassinated soon after the fatal dinner. Another thing, perhaps he was not so strongly framed as the victim of the fair Delilah; and also, perhaps the Irish were better builders than the Jews: the examination of the ruins strongly inclines me to this latter hypothesis. They consist of two or three rather dismantled towers, for the old fortress, which had remained intact until 1688, was taken at this date from the partisans of King James who defended it, by the Hanoverians, who undermined it and blew it up.

My Automedon did all in his power to awaken my sympathy for the family misfortunes; I also think he claimed some relationship to them, but I am not quite sure, for Irish explanations are rather diffuse and hard to comprehend. In courses of elementary mathematics pupils are often given very complicated formulæ to extract the unknown quantity therefrom: the conversations of the Irish remind me of these studies of my[Pg 92] youth. They are so embarrassed with incidental phrases, pious exclamations, or simply polite expressions, such as “Please your honour,” that the unknown, that is to say, the true meaning, is hard to extricate. Furthermore, they have a mania for answering one question by another. For instance, when I asked my coachman if he knew his way, instead of simply answering “Yes,” he asked me if I thought he did not know his own mother.

Besides, the length of his discourse and his anxiety to impart to me all the historical reminiscences which I have faithfully recorded, had manifestly the object of deluding me about the distance which separates Castle Connell from Ballinacourty. In reality it is only a mile, and, in spite of his efforts, in less than half an hour we arrived in front of Colonel M——’s house.

My host is still a victim of the Land League. This is his history. It is curious, precisely because it resembles that of hundreds of other landlords. All the tenants on his estate, in County Clare, had leases of thirty-one years, which fact, in parenthesis, is a formal contradiction to Mr. Parnell, when he claims fixity of tenure, that is to say, security for the tenants, and declares that one of the chief reasons which prevent improvements is that the landlords refuse to give them leases, and like to retain the right of sending them away whenever they please. I may even add that I have seen a number of these leases, and my tenants may feel certain that I will never sign anything like them. It seems to me that the essential point of a lease is that it should be bilateral—that the two parties should be bound for the same time. Each runs some risk. If the years are good the landlord does not[Pg 93] benefit by the rise, but if they are bad he does not suffer from the fall.

Now, the Irish leases—at least those that I have seen, and I am assured that until the last few years all were drawn up in the same form—contain a clause that absolutely destroys this principle. It is always stipulated that the tenant should have the right to withdraw at any time by giving six months’ notice in advance, without any reciprocal power being reserved for the landlord. I do not therefore see why the latter should tie his hands for thirty-one years; and if it is true that many landowners have refused to grant leases to their tenants, it appears to me that their refusal was clearly justified by this extraordinary clause.

But in any case the Colonel’s patrimonial estate had always been managed in this way, and consequently, while those of his neighbours who had refused to be bound by leases profited by the years of plenty that followed the famine by raising their rents 25, 50, and often 100 per cent., the rents on his property remained stationary, or at least were only raised in a very irregular manner, since the increased rents could only be charged when the leases had to be renewed.

When bad seasons returned the Government took the initiative by a law known as the Land Bill, which instituted committees charged with the regulation of the rents, but these committees ignored all previous contracts. They commenced by reducing all rents on an average 15 to 20 per cent. Then the Land League intervened, and by methods which, if illegal, were not the less efficacious, it obtained fresh reductions, which generally doubled the first. On some estates, those which are referred to when it is desirable to quote an[Pg 94] instance, things were restored to nearly their original condition. When this happened the landlords protested a little, but merely as a matter of form; for even had the committee not imposed a reduction, they would have been glad enough to receive their rents at the same rate as before the rise took place.

But the numerous class of those who had not raised their rents naturally considered that it was supremely unjust that reductions should be forced upon them when they had not profited by the good years. And really they had some ground for complaint. Let us take the case of two landlords who own estates of the same quality contiguous to one another. In 1855, for instance, both of them let the land at 4l. per acre; in 1870 the first of them raised the rent to 8l. The second, restrained by a lease or simply by moral considerations, had not altered the price. The Government and the Land League only reduced the former to his original sum of 4l., whilst the latter saw his rent fall to 2l., and found himself impoverished by one half simply because he had not ground down his tenant like his neighbour had done.

A great many resisted, the Colonel amongst them. He declared that, under the circumstances, he preferred taking back his land and cultivating it himself, but by thus acting he infringed the fundamental rule of the League. Here I cannot resist inserting a parenthesis.

The idea that ownership of the soil is a property like any other is certainly a modern idea. The old notion of land tenure, the outcome of feudal laws, considerably limited the landlord’s rights, by creating, amongst other things, between him and the tenant reciprocal obligations, such as personal or military service; these are no[Pg 95] longer compatible with modern ideas, but we still find persistent traces of them in every country in Europe, and particularly in France. Thus many of the lands of Sauterre, for instance, are or have till quite recently been subject to a law which provided that a landlord could not send away a tenant without replacing him by one of his relations, or by cultivating the farm himself. Of course this law has not been inscribed in any code for a very long time. It is asserted that it dates back to the Crusades; but it is so deeply ingrafted into the national customs that here the land subject to it is always let more cheaply than any other, because the owners well know that if they have reason to complain of a tenant, and that no one of his family is disposed to take the farm, this generally happens—they will not find any one to replace him. The owners of land subject to these laws are therefore in a great measure at the mercy of their tenants. Attempts have frequently been made to evade it, but they have always been followed by repentance, for they have invariably been punished, either by arson, or by mutilations of cattle. But this is all avoided if the proprietor cultivates the land himself. This is the sole proceeding that, according to custom, will enable him to act against the tenant.

These facts are well known. I recall them because they throw a new light upon the events now passing in Ireland. The Land League by refusing to allow the landlord the right of dismissing his tenant, endeavours, perhaps a little unconscionably, to revive in force old customs that are evidently of feudal origin, and which, if resuscitated, would completely subvert all modern notions of property, whilst it is very curious that the League is encouraged in these attempts by the [Pg 96]revolutionists of the whole world. But at least the old law acknowledged the proprietor’s right to cultivate the land himself, and this the Land League refuses to do.

The Colonel’s decision was scarcely announced when all corners of the estate were placarded with notices warning the public that the fields were boycotted. A butcher from Limerick rented a meadow, he had reason to regret it; during the night the tails of all his oxen were cut off. Then things became worse; the Colonel had left the service in order to manage the property himself. Soon after he first returned, he wished to make an example, and sent away two tenants who were pointed out to him as ringleaders in mischief. He immediately received several letters signed Captain Moonlight, couched in the most polite terms, but in which he was advised to have the measure for his coffin taken as soon as possible. A few days later he had dined with a neighbour and was on his way home towards eleven o’clock at night. It was fairly light; on leaving the park the road led up a rather steep incline, to the right there was a field of oats separated from the road by a low wall.

As they drove through the gate the coachman, who probably had partaken too freely of the hospitality of the servants’ hall, suddenly whipped up his horse. The Colonel, who was sitting on the second seat of the jaunting-car, turned round to tell him to drive more slowly; at the same time he heard the report of a gun; his hat was pierced, and by the light of the shot he distinctly saw the man who had fired from the other side of the hedge. He seized the gun that was always in the carriage, and jumped down; unfortunately the horse was still going so fast that he rolled into the ditch. When he got up again the man was already some[Pg 97] distance away, running across the oats. He fired twice but could not reach him. A few weeks later in his turn he had some friends to dinner. The dessert had been served, and, according to the English custom, the ladies had risen to return to the drawing-room; the Colonel drew back against the wall to allow his neighbour to pass when a shot was fired outside through the dining-room window; this time the bullet passed through his coat.

Two years later an Irish priest, settled in America, wrote to him saying that the author of the two attempts had just died in hospital, and that before receiving absolution he had asked his confessor to write to the Colonel to implore his pardon and to tell him all the details of the crime. He had received 100 guineas for the attempts, the result of a donation from all the tenants on the estate.

This is the position of affairs in the country, and the situation is rendered particularly serious by the offenders being very rarely arrested; their secret is too well kept. Besides, when they are arrested, it is not of much use; the juries know what to expect if they give an adverse verdict, and therefore the few culprits brought before them are nearly always acquitted. The other day there was a very amusing case of this kind.

One of the Colonel’s neighbours, also an ex-officer, Major F——, had some difficulties with a drover who occupied a very small farm. He gave him notice to quit. The man complained to the Land League, and the president wrote to the Major telling him that he had received a complaint against him and requesting him to give some explanation about the motives that had led him to act so harshly. The Major considering[Pg 98] this summons a simple piece of impertinence naturally took no notice of it. But he suffered for his neglect. A few days’ later as he finished breakfast, he noticed five or six cows feeding in a field of clover in front of his windows. He went out, for he could not understand how they had entered. When he reached the field he found they had passed through a gap in the wall that had evidently been made on purpose.

He drove them before him, intending to make them go out by the same gap, when he suddenly perceived, not ten paces from him, a man on the other side of the wall deliberately aiming at him with a long holster pistol. He instantly recognised his drover. The shot followed; he realised that he was not hit, but he turned on his heels and ran back into the house to find a weapon. When, ten minutes later, he returned to the fields, he made a curious discovery—the pistol had burst; this accident had saved his life. The fragments of the weapon were on the ground. The drover had disappeared, but he had been severely wounded; his right hand thumb had been blown off, and was found in a pool of blood.

Five or six days later the assassin was arrested in a hospital where he had gone to have his wounds attended to. He was sent to the assizes; but on the eve of the trial each juryman received a letter signed “Captain Moonlight,” informing him that the man had only obeyed orders, and that if he were condemned, others would be found ready to avenge him and to make them suffer the same fate from which the Major had so narrowly escaped.

The man denied everything, and was acquitted. As he came down from the prisoner’s bench, when the[Pg 99] judge had informed him that he was free, he had the impudence to turn round and say:

“Excuse me, your Lordship, but won’t they give me back my thumb? I should like to bury it!”

The Colonel told me this story as we strolled on the banks of the river. The Shannon is not navigable above Limerick. At the place where we now are it is a fine stream between two and three hundred yards wide. The water is clear as crystal, except where it foams round numerous rocky boulders, over which it descends from cascade to cascade until it reaches a kind of lake formed by a bend in the river which there suddenly turns westward.

The two banks are covered with fine trees which reach to the water’s edge, forming a lovely picture, which would exactly resemble a creek in the Rocky Mountains if one could not see pretty country houses in every direction, so near together that the parks join each other. From Lord Massy’s garden, where we stand, we can see five or six. The salmon-fishing is the great attraction; no one could imagine the follies Englishmen will commit for its enjoyment. Our own custom is repeated here, the owners of the river banks claim the fishing to the middle of the stream. I was shown the boundaries of one of these claims, which is only about four hundred and forty yards long. It is let during the season for 200l.; and the lessee must also employ two keepers, a boat, and two boatmen. Altogether, without counting the other expenses of his change of residence, the whole costs between 280l. and 320l. A rather longer reach, situated a little more up the stream, has been let for £400. I inquired whether these liberal fishermen catch plenty of salmon, and was at once[Pg 100] informed that I had made use of a very terrible barbarism. One must not say “catch a salmon,” but “kill a salmon.” This important point settled, I then learned that this has been rather a bad season, but that when the stream has risen well, lucky and skilful fishermen can kill as many as eight salmon in a day.

This morning I asked the Colonel’s permission to walk about the neighbourhood alone. After the events he related to me yesterday, he shut up his house in county Clare and settled on the other side of the river, in the small house at Ballinacourty, which he rented from a friend, and which is situated in county Limerick. He has therefore no interest in this district, and up to a certain point this takes him out of the category of landlords, and places him amongst the strangers. Consequently the Land League leaves him quite alone, and his relations with the country people are comparatively good. Yesterday we went out for a short time with a neighbouring landlord, and I noticed that whilst he was with us not one of the peasants whom we met saluted us, but when we were alone they all bowed to us, and some of them even greeted us with a few friendly words.

In spite of the personal sympathy evidently felt for him, Colonel M—— is still a landlord, the friend and neighbour of every landlord in the country. He is therefore certain to inspire some distrust, and I fancy that the people will talk more freely with me alone than if they see me in his society. After walking for some time in the country, I entered several houses in succession, under various pretexts; and I must at once own that I was very well received. In a moment, when I said I was French, my welcome became even enthusiastic. The whole family, and often even the neighbours, crowded[Pg 101] round me, asking me about France, the name alone seeming to contain a wonderful attraction for them.

I am told that this sympathy for France exists all over Ireland, but it is particularly visible in the south, because in the last century most of the soldiers of the brilliant Irish Brigade, that has filled such glorious pages in the annals of our military history, came from this district. The recruiting agents of the kings of France were naturally pursued by the English authorities, and consequently they experienced some very great hardships, but this circumstance has been invaluable to the Irish novelists, whose works are usually based on adventures of which these men are the heroes.

The coast of Bantry Bay was almost deserted at that time, and it was therefore from there that the recruits embarked in search of the French schooners that conveyed them to Dunkerque, where the depôts of the brigade were stationed. It is said, that, in order to avoid compromising themselves, the consignees had the habit of describing the men in their bills of lading as wild geese.

Few of them ever returned to the country. It is calculated that more than one hundred thousand died under the French flag; but those who did come back have left such vivid recollections of themselves, that here every one seems to look upon France as a second country, and imagine that they will ultimately regain their liberty through us.

Yesterday, when from the railway I saw the country cottages, I thought the descriptions I had received of their poverty were greatly exaggerated. But to-day I realise that these accounts did not overstep the truth,[Pg 102] and that appearances had greatly deceived me. The exterior is passable. Like many old houses in Perche and elsewhere, they are all built of mud tempered with cow-hair or hay, and consolidated with a few laths. As long as the roof is good, and that they are careful to frequently whitewash the exterior, these buildings are very warm in winter, very cool in summer, and they last a long time.

But when any one enters them the impression is quite changed. We must first remark that the Irish are extremely prolific. Most families include six or seven children, yet as a rule the houses have only one room, ten or eleven yards long by five or six wide.

To enable the whole family to sleep there they formerly resorted to very original arrangements. In one corner there was a great heap of reeds; in the evening they spread them out for a bed; the man and wife slept in the middle; the smallest boy by his father’s side, the youngest girl by her mother, and so on until they reached the eldest, who occupied the two extremities next to the pigs, who are always allowed inside. If they offered hospitality to a stranger, and this frequently occurred, the pigs were pushed a little further away. This was called sleeping “straddogue.”

It appears that this rather primitive couch is still used in many houses. But moralists have some reason to say that luxury is penetrating everywhere. In all the cottages that I have yet visited, the inhabitants have already mounted one step on the ladder of comfort. I have always seen one, and sometimes two beds, but never more. When there is only one bed, the father, mother, and daughters sleep side by side at one end;[Pg 103] the sons at the other. When there are two, the parents and daughters occupy one, and the sons repose on the other. The pigs had also profited by this innovation; they sleep under the bed, and the hens generally perch above it. I have never seen such arrangements even amongst the savages on the African coast.

This system, deplorable from a human point of view, seems, on the contrary, to have the happiest effect on the development of the intellectual and affectionate qualities of the pig. To him is confided the education of the children, who, almost naked, play in the mud outside the cottage. I saw two this morning, nearly of the same age, a little boy and a little girl, sleeping in the glare of the sun, their heads comfortably resting on the side of a great sow. The latter was evidently quite conscious of her important charge. When I advanced she first moved her ears, then uttered some little grunts, intended to herald the approach of a stranger, but she did not move for fear of awaking the two children. A little further on three others, of four and five years old, were filling an old tin box with dirty water, which they afterwards poured over their legs, with great satisfaction. Their guardian lying full length in the pool, watched this innocent amusement from one corner of her eye, and seemed to take extreme pleasure in it.

What have all these people to live on? And here I must assert that they have no appearance of suffering. The race is not remarkable for physical beauty. But though they are ragged and half naked, they do not look famished with hunger as the people do at Dublin. The children are very fat. We are now at the commencement of the hay season, but yet all the men seem idling about the cottages. The Colonel assures me[Pg 104] that many of them have money deposited in the banks, and that it is not rare to see a man living like those whom I have visited give his daughters when they marry a dowry of 40l. or 50l. each. Where do they get all this money, besides the sums they spend? More than a shilling a day is never paid for a man’s labour. The mystery is explained to me by the information that in a few days they will all go to England to assist in the harvest and hop-picking, and they live in idleness through the rest of the year on the money then made. Formerly, part of it went to pay the rent; but those good times are quite past now.

I have already had one long discussion with the Colonel. He says that the land is good. I persist in considering it very indifferent as a rule; moreover, the climate is very bad. Vegetation is so backward that haymaking has scarcely commenced. They never secure more than one crop. The bad weather comes too soon for it to be possible to get any aftermath. I have not yet seen a field of wheat. When it was grown, the harvest was rarely successful. I had the curiosity to visit a large garden which has some reputation in the county, for the owner sells the produce of it. I am certain that it is fully three weeks behind Normandy, and even more behind the suburbs of Paris. In my garden in the Avenue Friedland, the rhododendrons have flowered a month ago. Here they are just opening. It is the 6th of July, yet there are scarcely any strawberries. The gardener proudly showed me a cherry-tree, which, thanks to an excellent situation, has already some ripe fruit! They are being sold at 1s. 6d. per pound to a dealer, who retails them at 2s. 1d.!

How can agriculture prosper under such [Pg 105]circumstances? Owing to the Gulf Stream, the winter is not severe; but how can the poor work in January and February? Yesterday we sat down to dinner at eight o’clock. We left it soon after nine, and it was broad daylight. The lamps were still unlighted. I therefore conclude that in six months it will be dark until nine o’clock in the morning, and we are in the South of Ireland. What must it be in the North? And what is a day’s labour worth if it only contains five or six working hours?

After lunch, the Colonel took me for a drive. We first went ten or twelve miles to visit Sir Croker Barrington’s beautiful seat. The Castle is placed in the midst of a lovely park; it is modern, but it has several towers, machicolations, and battlements, which give it a look of feudal ferocity, completed by four or five old cannon, placed like a battery on the terrace which overlooks the road we drove up by. Alas! they did not suffice to intimidate the Land Leaguers of the neighbourhood; for one morning, three or four years ago, they came in broad daylight and organised a battue in the park. They killed all the deer without any one daring to oppose them. The deer have since been replaced, and we have even seen some of them. But what was done at Sir Croker Barrington’s is repeated, more or less, in all directions, on a smaller scale. In many counties it is now impossible to preserve at all. Poaching is openly carried on.

“We ourselves, the landlords, are now the game,” said the Colonel in a melancholy tone, “and for us there is no close season.”

However, sometimes the game resists. The instance of a Mr. Carden was quoted to me, who at last[Pg 106] succeeded in getting the best of the whole population.

Like every one else, he had serious difficulties with his tenants, who would neither pay their rents nor leave their farms. He had been shot at several times, but had never been hit. One day he was riding on the Nenagh road in full daylight, when, at the same moment, he heard two balls whistle past his ears. The would-be murderers were two men who had fired from a neighbouring field, and who ran away seeing that they had missed their aim. Mr. Carden jumped his horse over the wall and pursued them. He stunned the first with a blow from his loaded horse-whip, then throwing himself upon the second, he managed to knock him down with blows of his fists. He bound them together with his stirrup-leathers, and triumphantly conveyed them to Nenagh prison. Wonderful to relate, the jury, suddenly carried away by his courage, consented to find them guilty, and they were hanged!

Mr. Carden had another rather droll adventure with his tenants. One day, during the Fenian insurrection, he was warned that the inhabitants of the neighbouring village, taking the Socialist theories in earnest, had divided his park between them, and intended solemnly coming to take possession on the following Monday. Mr. Carden, assisted by his men-servants, immediately carried an old cannon, worked on a pivot, that he possessed, to an upper room. On the day named the tenants arrived with horses and carts, and commenced, in presence of an immense crowd, to dig up the lawn. At this moment they heard a window open, and they saw Mr. Carden ostentatiously leading his cannon up to the mouth with packets of grape-shot. He then turned[Pg 107] round, drew out his watch, and informed the spectators that he gave them ten minutes to get away in. They did not require five, and no one has since dreamt of digging up Mr. Carden’s lawn.

Sir Croker Barrington was away, and this unfortunately prevented us from seeing the interior of the castle, but we had a short walk through a small narrow copse that ran along the hill, on the top of which the castle was built, and which is really charming. The dampness of the country renders the vegetation of the underwood deliciously fresh, and of incomparable luxuriance by the side of anything we have at home. And I must add that Irish poachers are less destructive than ours. They kill the large game, but apparently disdain the thrushes, blackbirds, and wood-pigeons, for numbers of them flew up, literally from under our feet.

The road that has brought us back from Sir Croker Barrington’s to Ballinacourty passes through Lord Cloncurry’s estate. I much wished to visit this property, for it has been frequently mentioned for some time past. It is, in fact, the theatre where very extraordinary events have taken, and are still taking place, showing plainly the state of disorganisation which now prevails in Ireland.

Lord Cloncurry is a very rich man, who usually inhabits another estate in the vicinity of Dublin. His property in county Limerick is managed by an agent.

The tenants paid their rent neither better nor worse than their neighbours, when after Easter, 1884, they all went to the agent together. They carried their money in their hands. The agent, believing that they had come[Pg 108] to pay him, began complimenting them on punctuality to which he was unaccustomed, when the priest, who was with them, stepped forward, and, speaking in the name of his parishioners, told him that the tenants were ready to pay, provided that the rents were at once reduced ten per cent. If this reduction, which was to affect not only the quarters now due, but also those that were in arrears, were not accepted, nothing more would be paid.

The agent replied that he had not the requisite authority to accept these propositions, which to him seemed very unjust. The land was let in a very unequal way, for as the rents had not been raised for a long time the relative value of the land was much changed, so that whilst some paid a full price, others paid much too little. If they wished the arrangements re-made on a new basis it would not be just for the same reduction to be made for them all. The tenants would not listen, and they all left him without paying a penny.

The following day they assembled at a meeting, the priest still acting as president. It was agreed that five delegates should go to Dublin to see Lord Cloncurry and to lay the matter before him.

He did not receive the embassy very graciously, but replied to them in the same words as the agent had done. He did not refuse them all a reduction, but he would not admit that a reduction should be the same for all; lastly, and above all, he would not allow them to impose upon him, by threats, terms that he thought were undesirable. If the tenants would not pay, he would show himself lenient towards arrears, but he would get rid of them all, even if he cultivated the land himself.

[Pg 109]

Before they separated, they had roused a great deal of anger towards each other. It is easy to see that the whole business was badly managed from the commencement. Lord Cloncurry had not the reputation of being a hard or exacting landlord. On the other hand, any one who is in the habit of managing land, and who is acquainted with the state of agriculture, not only in Ireland, but nearly all over the world, will see at once that the demand for a reduction of ten per cent. was not excessive. Only it is quite certain that the tenants owed the rents in arrear. In asking for a reduction on this portion of their debt, they were soliciting a favour, and to begin with threats is not the way to obtain a favour. Lastly, in spite of my sympathy for the Irish, I can never understand one thing—namely, that the landowner can be denied the right of sending away a tenant who will not pay.

However, this is of daily occurrence in Ireland, and the most singular thing is, that it frequently happens that tenants who refuse to pay because others have refused, send their money by post or let one of their children carry it over during the night, entreating the agent not to say that they have paid it, because they are afraid of the others. One small estate was named to me, on which all the tenants, with the exception of one or two, have regularly paid in this way for some years, each persuading himself that he is alone in doing so.

Lord Cloncurry lost no time before putting his threats into execution. The tenants all received a summons to pay. They took no notice of it, and it was soon known that they were to be evicted.

On the day named, everybody from two or three[Pg 110] leagues round, assembled to witness the proceedings. Lord Cloncurry’s representative soon appeared, accompanied by an imposing escort of police and about fifty soldiers from the Limerick garrison. The priest was there encouraging his parishioners to struggle for the good cause. However, considering the customs of the country, the crowd was not very threatening. They threw a good deal of mud and a good many stones at the police; but that always happens, and no one attaches any importance to it. Every tradition was minutely observed on both sides. In each house, the whole family lay on the ground and refused to move. Two policemen then took men, women and children, in succession, and gently deposited them on the manure heap; then they carried all the furniture outside, and lastly the landlord’s agent took possession—carefully shutting all the doors and windows, or else the evicted persons would hasten in again, and nothing would be gained; whereas, if they broke open a door after the seals were once placed upon it, they would fall under the power of the law. All these operations are extremely delicate. If any member of the family is still in the house when the seals are put on, the eviction is invalid. Consequently, those interested in possession being retained often try to hide a child in a corner, or, better still, in a hole prepared in the wall or in the thatched roof, and if this manœuvre is successful, the unfortunate landlord is obliged to obtain a fresh writ, and, with another hundred men, to attempt a fresh eviction, for it all must be done over again. “The fôôôrme!” said Bridoison, “is substance.”

All the “fôôôrmes” were therefore duly observed on either side, and, on the whole, the affair passed off[Pg 111] quietly. But it was scarcely ended, when an incident occurred which produced a deep impression. Lord Cloncurry’s representative was about to retire with the police, when a personage, whom no one had noticed until then, approached him, and intimated, in the name of the Land League, that all the land on the estate was boycotted, and that, in order to secure obedience to the orders of the League, the tenants would be installed, by its precautions, at the doors of their old houses, in such a way, that no interference would be possible. At the same time, the crowd opened, and he saw a number of carts filled with materials. Every one at once set to work; and before the day ended, fifty or sixty wooden huts, for which the frames had been sent all ready, were put up on the side of the road, and each evicted family was comfortably installed in one of them the same evening.

We may judge of the effect produced by this unexpected scene that the League had organised to give a new proof of its power. The arrangement has now lasted for two years; the seventy evicted families are supported at the expense of the League; the land on which these huts are built belongs to farms in the neighbourhood; they are regularly let to the tenants who occupy them. Some landlords wished to protest; but they were threatened with Lord Cloncurry’s fate, and so their opposition subsided.

At the same time, Lord Cloncurry has not yielded one inch. He put some cows into the boycotted fields, and curiously enough, their tails have not been cut off—an immunity that they probably owe to the fact that, on its side the authorities have stationed two or three bodies of police in the empty farms, and[Pg 112] that the fields are patrolled by well-armed constables every night.

At Dublin, Mr. Harrington had told me about this business, recommending me to go and visit the Land League huts. It appears that the Association has profited so much by their action on this occasion, that in spite of the great expense entailed, it has built other huts under similar circumstances in other parts of Ireland. It is certain that the seventy men whom the League has supported in idleness during the last two years must be invaluable agents, and the whole proceeding also serves as a very fine advertisement for the League.

After a few minutes’ walk, we reached a place by the roadside where two of these huts are built. I wished to visit them, in spite of the Colonel’s advice, for he warned me that having been seen with him, I might expect a very cold reception, and might even be most unceremoniously turned out. “For,” said he, “these men are the most desperate fellows in the country!”

And, in fact, it at first seemed very probable that his words would be verified. In the first house I entered a woman was sitting near the door peeling potatoes; five or six children of different ages were in the corners; the husband, a great fellow with a bad physiognomy, was seated near the window, smoking his pipe, with his hat on and both hands in his pockets.

“Good morning, madam!” said I pleasantly, as I entered. “Good morning, sir!”

The woman never even raised her head; the children looked at me, thrusting their fingers up their noses; the husband gave an ill-omened grunt.

[Pg 113]

This sounded badly. But at that instant an idea struck me that I can only call brilliant, although that word may cause my modesty to be questioned. The eldest child, a horrible-looking urchin of ten or twelve years old, frightfully dirty and half naked, was evidently poking the fire when I entered; he still held the stick he had been using for the purpose.

“Madam,” I continued still more pleasantly, “would you kindly allow your nephew to give me a light for my cigar?”

Instantly the woman raised her head and pushed away the locks of yellow hair that covered her eyes.

“My nephew!” said she. “But I haven’t a nephew!”

“But that boy there—is he not your nephew?”

“That boy there—he’s my son!”

“Your son—that great boy! But I can only beg your pardon. Upon my word, you look so young that I should never have supposed that you had a son of that age. I am a foreigner—a Frenchman. You must excuse my blunder.”

I had scarcely finished my pretty little speech, when everything in the house was reversed. First the mother, then the father, jumped from their chairs to offer them to me.

“Ah, your honour,” said the woman, “how can you say I look young? I am three years older than my husband, blessed be the saints! I have seven children, your honour. Pat, finish there, are you going to give his honour a light for his cigar?”

After that, nothing was refused to me. I went over the whole house. It was ten yards long by six wide. To the right two partitions, which were placed at right[Pg 114] angles to each other, formed two rooms, each containing one bed; the parents and daughters slept in one, the boys in the other; the large room was used as a kitchen. Mr. Parnell’s portrait hung on the wall. My hosts were unacquainted with Latin, or they should have written below it: Deus nobis hæc otia fecit. But still this does not prevent them from enjoying their position. The husband explained that the Treasurer of the Land League passes every Saturday, and gives them 2l. Besides this, he sometimes earns a shilling a day by working. Through the window he showed me his old farm on the opposite hill; it is one of those now turned into a garrison, but he appears quite resigned to his condition. I think that, at least so far as he is concerned, this display of military force is quite unnecessary, for I believe that he would be quite dismayed if he were told he would be reinstated in his old home.

I asked him whether he had ever thought of emigration. “Emigration!” said he, with extraordinary energy. “Never; I would rather die of hunger!”

These words confirmed the statements made by the heads of the Land League at Dublin. I thought that the Irish peasant, unlike the French of the same class, was easily persuaded to emigrate; but this is not so. Every one whom I have asked in my walk this morning has made the same answer. However, they tell me that the young men have different ideas and that, on the contrary, most of them were going to seek their fortunes in America and Australia.

When I had inspected the first house, I asked if I could see the second, and since they had now made my acquaintance, I was received there cordially at once. This one is rather larger; it is occupied by a man about[Pg 115] sixty years old, named Patrick Hogan. He lives there with eight women—his wife, and seven daughters or granddaughters. They were all bare-footed and very dirty, and in the last respect the house rivalled them, although it bore signs of great comfort. Three or four fine sides of bacon hung from the roof. To the right of the door stood a large sideboard, on which a dozen blue earthenware plates were displayed, representing a Chinese landscape, with a pagoda to the right and a bird to the left. I recognised it as the garden of Puntin-qua, at Canton. Many years ago some English china manufacturers made a drawing of it, and inundated the world with pseudo-Chinese productions of their own workmanship. On the wall Mr. Gladstone’s portrait hung between those of Mgr. Croke and Mgr. Walsh. There were also a few religious pictures.

Mr. Patrick Hogan is evidently in a superior position to that of his neighbour. He told me his own history in well-chosen words. He also receives 2l. per week. The rent of his farm was 40l., and when he was evicted he would willingly have signed a new lease at 36l.; but now farming is so bad that he would not agree to more than 30l. He also told me that he was two or three years’ rent in arrear.

I asked him if Lord Cloncurry had not seized his cattle.

“Oh, no,” said he with a cunning look; “I took care to get them all away on the eve of the eviction. One of my neighbours is keeping them for me.”

I told him that this trick was not altogether unknown amongst us; adding that I had even seen it carried out so skilfully, that one farmer managed to “get away” forty or fifty oxen and cows in one night. This[Pg 116] anecdote seemed to interest him immensely, and to confirm his high opinion of France.

“Ah, your honour,” said he, “the French are a great people!”

He then inquired whether we also had a Land League—he pronounced it lague—and was rather astonished when I told him that with us a tenant who could not pay always tried to leave, and that often, particularly just now, it was the landlords who compelled the tenants to remain in their farms. We agreed at once that landlords are a very bad lot, all the world over; he shook my hand with a vigour that nearly dislocated the arm, and we parted the best friends in the world.

I have forgotten one detail which is worth quoting. When I asked Mr. Patrick Hogan how he passed his time, he confided to me that he had taken some lands situate some distance from here. He held them at a very low price, and had managed to relet them at higher rents to three under-tenants. I asked him if he had not some trouble with his tenants. “Ah!” he answered; “I should like to see them refuse to pay me!” A reply that completely capsized all my notions of right and wrong, already much shaken by everything that I had heard and seen in this singular country!

[(April, 1887.) I have received from Ireland a request to rectify an error, which I hasten to do at once. I said that the Limerick butcher who took Colonel M——’s field, found his cows’ tails cut off. It appears that this misfortune happened to the cows of a neighbour under the same circumstances. The butcher hastened to withdraw his cows from the boycotted meadows before they suffered the same fate.

Neither was it Colonel M——’s would-be assassin who, when lying in a hospital in America, declared to his confessor that he had been paid by means of a subscription in which all the tenants on the estate had joined. The story is true, but it is applicable to another case.]

[Pg 117]



Tuesday, July 6th.—At nine o’clock this morning, I quitted the hospitable mansion of Ballinacourty, in order to keep an appointment which I had made with one of the most well-known agents in the south of Ireland. It seems that the Irish railway companies share in the general distress, or at least are doing a very poor amount of business. This, however, is not the result of the extremely luxurious accommodation afforded, for which our own lines are reproached. The station at Lisnagry, where I took my ticket, simply consists of a miserable shed leaning against a very small house; so small that one is quite surprised to see in it a tall young man, who is very ragged, but who discharges the triple duties of station-master, gate-keeper, and porter. As station-master he sells me a ticket—“Limerick single;” as gate-keeper he closes the barriers, addressing some invectives to a dozen freckled, bare-legged girls, who were noisily discussing their small affairs on[Pg 118] the line; and lastly, as porter, he seized my portmanteau and placed it on the seat of the compartment, responding to my tip by piously wishing that all the saints in Paradise might bear me company.

“Thank you, your honour, and may the saints be with you, your honour!”

If really they had come in answer to his prayer they would have found themselves badly off, for the carriages are indescribably dirty; the once blue cloth was torn in five or six places. The carpet was so ragged that the idea at once suggested itself to me that the company used up the remains of their worn carpets as clothing for their servants. I point out these details for two reasons. The English who travel by railway in France never fail to lament over the rapacity of our officials, and over the inferiority and the dirtiness of our carriages, etc. Besides, there is a whole class of Frenchmen who think themselves great travellers if they have made one journey from Dover to London, and who never lose an opportunity of going into ecstasies over the admirable organisation of English railways. I do not consider them superior to ours except in one respect—the transport of luggage. In the first place, every traveller has theoretically the right to have 100 lbs. carried, instead of 60 lbs. as with us. And further, in practice, the quantity is almost unlimited, for the boxes are never weighed however ponderous they may be. In other respects, as far as the service is concerned, their system appears to consist in not having any. The porter who takes your trunk from the cab, places it in the van, often without labelling it. You have nothing to prove it has been received on arriving at your destination; the box is simply pointed out to[Pg 119] another porter, who takes it from the van without any formalities. When this succeeds, and it apparently does succeed as a rule, it is an admirable arrangement, for, by avoiding our many formalities much loss of time is also avoided. But it seems to me that luggage must often be lost, and when that happens, I ask myself, on what basis can the owner make a claim on the company.

When I reached Limerick I was informed that the train for Mallow, which I ought to take, would not leave for another hour. I profited by this delay to visit the town. My guide-book—Black’s Picturesque Tourist in Ireland—which I had consulted on my way, told me that the town now contains 38,000 inhabitants; it is renowned for its bacon; that formerly it contained manufactories of gloves, and some large tanyards. Now, it seems that these industries have disappeared, or are rapidly declining. Limerick bacon is inferior to Chicago; scarcely any gloves are now made; and if they still prepare leather, it cannot be for the boots of the inhabitants, for only the men wear shoes—and what shoes! All the women and children I have met wisely and economically content themselves with walking in the mud on the skin of their own feet.

But at all events, if we believe Mr. Black, and I have no reason to doubt his assertions, the town of Limerick offers many interesting curiosities for the traveller’s amusement. It contains a large stone which is the joy of all antiquarians, because on this stone in 1691, a capitulation was signed and by its terms Sarsfield, Lord of Lucan, who held the town, surrendered with the Irish troops under his command to General de Ginckle who was besieging it for King[Pg 120] William. Why do these unhappy Irishmen who are such admirable soldiers when they are once away from their country, who in France formed the splendid Irish Brigade who so brilliantly contributed to the victory of Fontenoy—why do these same Irishmen always allow themselves to be defeated almost ignominiously at home when they are fighting pro aris et focis? This is one of the most inexplicable features of the national character.

Mr. Black also recommends us to visit the Catholic cathedral, a ruined castle, the bridges over the Shannon, and a number of other not less curious objects. Unfortunately I was unable to see any of them, for I was so much absorbed after I had left the station in contemplating the touching and instructive spectacle around me that the curiosity of the tourist disappeared before the emotion of the philosopher.

It is a well-known fact in history that from the origin of man the destiny of certain people is often found indissolubly bound up with that of a particular vegetable or animal. For instance, it seems proved that without the Egyptian leek the Jews would all have died of misery and regret before they had finished even the smallest of the three pyramids of Giseh. What would have become of the Arabs without the camel and the racahou, which it appears played such an important part amongst them before it invaded the fourth page of our newspapers? Suppress the seal, and to-morrow there will be no Esquimaux. This is why Jewish and Arabian poets are always most inspired when they sing of the leek and the camel; and that if ever the Esquimaux have poets, their poems ought to be entirely devoted to the seal.

[Pg 121]

The Irish are in the same case. It is proverbial amongst them that the poor man has only two friends—his potato and his pig. In days of distress—days, alas! so common—the potato has sometimes failed, but the pig never! Consequently, every historian has devoted eloquent pages to this friend of green Erin. They have described him playing with the children of the house, sharing their food after sharing their gambols, then sharing their beds, and when dead still sustaining the life of the family after having cheered it during existence. It appears that there are a number of poets who have been inspired by this subject and who have written the most touching ballads on it. Yesterday at Ballinacourty I already understood these sentiments. I comprehended them still more from the moment that I entered the street from the Limerick station.

It was market day. In the square before me there were about a hundred Irishmen, all very tipsy. If they had been alone they could never have guided themselves. Luckily each of them had confided himself to a pig which led him by means of a string tied to its foot. The man clung to the cord, the pig led him gently, stopping occasionally, it is true, to turn over the heaps of rubbish, often deviating from the path through the zigzags taken by the man, but always ending by re-conducting him to the right road; from time to time the man, losing his equilibrium, caught hold of the pig’s tail, then the latter squeaked loudly, but this was only natural. It certainly could easily have made its escape, but this it did not attempt, it so well understood the extent of its responsibility.

They proceeded in this way, the one following the[Pg 122] other, to the doors of a large building. A flaming notice informed me that it was a bacon factory! There they separated. The man received some money; the pig, quite resigned, addressed a last affectionate grunt to him, and then plunged into the crowd of its fellows, no doubt to conceal its emotion. The man went to bury his in a tavern. It was a grand and touching spectacle!

I saw a few national costumes in the crowd, resembling those we see in Punch’s caricatures. Tall, thin fellows, wear very high-crowned hats, with slightly-drooping brims; they wear tail coats made of frieze, and short breeches. It seems to me that it is the rich who are clothed in this way—those who at some time in their lives have been able to have a coat made for them. The others are simply covered with nameless rags.

I have already said that all the women, almost without an exception, are barefooted. But, alas! they are not like the pretty mulattoes in Bourbon who are never shod through coquetry, because they wish to preserve the pretty shape of their feet and the gracefulness of their walk, which they consider incompatible with boots. Coquetry does not seem to exist amongst the women of this country. The little they show is scarcely satisfactory. Their feet are large and ill-shaped; the leg, uncovered to the knee, has scarcely any calf; and they are horribly dirty. A characteristic note is given to their costume by their always wearing a shawl on the head. Many hold it drawn together before the face with one hand, only showing, like the Lima women, one eye. This, by the way, is the best thing they can do, for they have often fine eyes, which relieve the ordinary type of the rest of the face.

[Pg 123]

It would be wrong to call them ugly, for they have a charming expression. One never sees those little, rather pert, faces, which are so pretty and so common amongst us. Here the dominant note is a very sad, gentle, timid expression, which has a certain grace. But really these poor girls ought to do like the Corsican women, who, when they go to market, are careful before entering the town always to ford the last stream, so that their feet are washed. I also fancy that those women ought to comb their hair sometimes, instead of leaving it in a state of disorder which has nothing in common with art. Many do not even fasten it up, simply leaving it to fall about.

England is the promised land of charitable associations. Some one really ought to interest himself or herself in this matter; and my sympathy with green Erin is so great that if some energetic English spinster, of whom there are so many, will found a society with the object of distributing combs amongst the young Irish women, accompanied by tracts containing instructions how to use them, I now beg her to put my name down on the first page of the subscription list.

If this subscription succeeded well enough to enable the society also to distribute some soap, it would be very fortunate; but it would, I think, first be necessary to make a complete change in the nature of the people. The English are particularly well dressed and neat. The Irish are just the reverse. The railway servants are paid almost as much here as in England. The difference in wages is probably more than balanced by the greater cheapness of living. In England even the porters are always clean; here, the station-masters are shabby.

[Pg 124]

The train that was to take me to Mallow also conveyed a whole family of Irish emigrants, composed of the parents and two or three children. These people appeared to be in comparatively easy circumstances. The woman wore a kind of cloak trimmed with fur. Very much preoccupied about her luggage, she approached the porter’s pot of paste, and, in default of a brush, she put her hand in to re-stick a label which was coming off, and this done she wiped the hand on her cloak in the most natural way. During this time the young brother and the mother, probably, who were remaining behind, uttered absolute howls. I am told that it is the usual way of crying in this country. It is called a wail. It is often alluded to in the native poetry. But no one seems to pay any attention to it.

The country through which we pass is not very remarkable. It has the same characteristics as the district I saw the day before yesterday in going from Dublin to Limerick. We travelled towards the south. To the east the horizon is bounded by a few hills. But the line is laid in the middle of a large plain, which recalls a little the American prairie. But this is distinguished by being furrowed by a number of fences, formed by a mound of earth between two ditches—the classic Irish jump of our steeplechases—scarcely any trees; miserable little isolated houses show thatched roofs and whitewashed walls at long intervals; very little agriculture—a few fields of potatoes and oats. Here, again, the meadows have a miserable appearance; everything requires drainage; still the grass must have some good qualities, for we continually see very fine horses, which start off at a gallop, frightened by the locomotive. On[Pg 125] the other hand the cattle are indifferent and not very abundant; the pasture could easily carry a greater number of animals here, as well as in Queen’s County.

My fellow traveller was Mr. Sanders, a charming young man, who is agent for several important estates in the neighbourhood, and who only leaves me at Mallow. I had taken care to provide myself with letters of introduction to several of these agents before leaving Paris, thinking that it would be through them that I should obtain correct information respecting the state of the country. To understand the importance of their position, we must remember the manner in which land tenure is regulated in Ireland.

We may say that small holdings do not exist. But then we can hardly see how they could ever have been formed. All the estates are of considerable relative importance; at least taken with regard to their superficial area. In other countries this constitution of the domains would have been favourable to agriculture on a large scale. It is not so here, because of the excessive population. The landowners always endeavour to increase the size of the farms by diminishing the number of them, but they never succeed, because they have to contend with local customs. A farmer will take a farm of 60 acres, then without any authority he divides it between his six children as they marry, and each young couple, still without the landlord’s permission, hasten to build a small cottage on the piece of ground allotted to them. With each generation the land becomes further parcelled out; and thus holdings of two acres and a half, or even less, are formed, and these are evidently too small to feed a family.

Under these circumstances the management of an[Pg 126] estate becomes very complicated, and morally speaking very painful; for the proprietors are continually forced to use harsh measures. For this reason, all the Irish landowners, even those who reside on the estate, confide the management of the property to professionals, who are called “agents.” These agents are very important personages. In our northern departments, we might perhaps find some receveurs who can be compared to them. As a rule they receive 5 per cent. upon all the rents they collect; but all the expenses of collection, &c., fall upon them, and these expenses are very considerable, for their receipts are so great that frequently they have regularly organised offices. One of those to whom I have an introduction receives commissions amounting to 4,000l.; only I am told that his general expenses absorb one half. I must add that the agents form a class whose respectability is publicly acknowledged, even by the Land Leaguers, who are naturally their bitterest enemies. Their duties often force them, particularly during the last few years, to incur the responsibility of measures that appear very harsh; but in spite of this I have constantly noticed that they are far from being as much hated as one would think. Latterly, however, the agents have frequently been fired at, and several have been killed. Nearly all discharge the same duties, from father to son for several generations, and it is most curious that this profession is so well known that young men intended for it commence by an apprenticeship with one of their number, and even pay very heavy sums to obtain this education. One case was cited to me where the young man paid a premium of 120l.

Few of them manage one estate only. Most of them[Pg 127] have charge of several of varying importance. For it is a curious thing that landowners who, amongst us, would certainly never afford themselves the luxury of a farm bailiff; people who have not more than 320l. to 400l. a year, have in this country nearly always recourse to an agent; but this is of course explained by the local customs to which we have previously alluded. Most of the estates are entailed. The proprietors are therefore, strictly speaking, only life tenants. The land is transmitted from male to male, in order of primogeniture, and none of the titles can be alienated. This is called the birthright of the elder, which has existed nearly everywhere in Europe, and which, from an economic point of view, is far from having always produced bad results, since agriculture has never flourished so well anywhere as in England, where the inheritance by order of birth has been more strictly applied than anywhere else.

It is very curious that one cause of the misery in Ireland is the result of a custom which has been introduced, and which, if it does not restrict the system of entail in principle, at least renders it singularly onerous. Nearly all the deeds by which the property is entailed give a right to the owner to burden the patrimonial inheritance with annuities payable to the younger members of the family. For instance, a landowner having an entailed property which brings in 4,000l. has the right, should he have five children, to burden this property, with four annuities of 200l. each for the support of the younger ones. When the father dies, the eldest, therefore, only inherits 3,200l. per annum, whilst he still retains all the expenses and risks of managing the estate. If his son exercises the same right, he will only have 2,400l.; and[Pg 128] thus, from generation to generation, the property becomes more and more “encumbered,” as they call it here. If one of the family is an economical man, or marries an heiress, he wipes off the mortgages, and the estate regains its nominal value; but if nothing of this kind happens—and unfortunately, in Ireland, it very rarely does happen—the land, which cannot be sold because it is entailed, at last becomes so overburdened that when a bad year comes, or the rents are not paid, the landlord does not even receive enough to pay the annuities or charges, and he is forced to borrow at enormous interest to enable him to meet his own requirements.

It will readily be seen how these customs aggravate the situation. In Ireland there are a number of estates which still pay “head rents” (or annuities) given to the younger members of the family more than two hundred years ago. The money which has been expended upon many estates has been constantly provided by English capitalists. Until within the last few years, these investments were greatly sought after. As long as the rents continued to rise all went well; but now they are diminishing, even where they have not quite disappeared, one can imagine what happens. I dare not say the majority, but I may say that a great number of the Irish landowners are really reduced to insolvency. For instance, here is a case that I can verify, because I have seen the accounts of the estate: Lord X—— has a rent-roll that, five years ago, amounted to 32,000l., but he has been obliged to agree to a diminution of 4,000l. The rent-roll is therefore now reduced to 28,000l. If the rents were paid, which they are not, only 500l. would remain as surplus in the proprietor’s hands.

[Pg 129]

It is easy to understand the terrible results of this state of things. The property I allude to has been seized by the creditors—English bankers who have never entered the country—and they have appointed an agent on their own account. Can any one reasonably expect that these men, who are not in the receipt of any interest on their money, will agree to fresh reductions?

Unfortunately, if the landlords or their representatives find themselves so placed that it is impossible for them to make the sacrifices necessitated by the situation, it must be acknowledged that on their side the Irish, or, at least, the Land League, often, by their measures, render matters worse. The Irish complain bitterly of absenteeism. The other day, at Rathmines, Sir Thomas Esmonde laid great stress upon the fact that out of rentals amounting to 17,000,000l., more than 6,000,000l. go out of Ireland every year to be spent in England. I quite admit these figures. It is evident that such a drain of capital must be disastrous. But do not the leaders of the Land League often use all their powers to increase it?

Two very striking cases have been mentioned to me. A few years ago a regiment was stationed at Limerick. The officers were all very rich, and spent a great deal of money in the town. One day, I do not know under what circumstances, the regiment openly avowed its anti-Home Rule sympathies. It was immediately boycotted; every tradesman refused to supply, not only the soldiers and officers, but even their families. Feelings became embittered; quarrels were of daily occurrence; and the regiment was recalled to England, and was not replaced—a net loss to the town of[Pg 130] 40,000l. a year. Is it just to reproach the English Government for this state of things?

Another example: a very rich Irish officer settled at Bruree, near Limerick, and bought a pack of foxhounds, arranging the hunt on the most liberal scale. He had a hundred or a hundred and fifty hounds, thirty or forty horses, sixty or eighty keepers, grooms and men-servants, indoors and out.

After a few disputes with his tenants, the Land League boycotted him; and the first time the hounds went out they were poisoned. He at once dismissed all his servants, closed his house, and established himself in Northamptonshire. It is calculated that the county now loses 20,000l. or 24,000l. per annum through his departure. He is another “absentee”—but through whose fault?

It is the Land League’s misfortune to pursue two objects, and for the sake of one it often turns its back upon the other. The Land Leaguers are first filled with hatred against England; they wage desperate war against her by every means that they have at their disposal. We can understand a little of this feeling when we read the atrocities that the English have committed in this country even to a comparatively recent date.

“Vengeance is a divine pleasure,” says a poet; but he omitted to add that, as a rule, vengeance is a very expensive pleasure. The Irish are wrong in wishing and in endeavouring to avenge themselves and to improve their position at the same time; they must choose between the two ideas. In driving the owner of Bruree away they avenged themselves; but they have changed the situation of this little corner[Pg 131] of Ireland very much for the worse; and the same thing that happened at Bruree has taken place in a hundred other localities.

Mr. Sanders left me at Mallow, which we reached about half-past one. He was obliged to go to a small village in the neighbourhood, where he had to carry out an eviction on the following morning. He had requisitioned a force of constabulary, of which one detachment came in our train. For a few minutes I walked alone on the platform, and then I noticed a man coming towards me, of middle height, thick-set, carefully shaved, his face quite sunburnt, under very short, quite white hair. He introduces himself as Mr. Townsend Trench, to whom some mutual friends living in Paris have given me letters of introduction, and he had been kind enough to come and meet me to take me to his usual residence, Lansdowne Lodge, at Kenmare, from which he had been absent some weeks, but he was now returning home on purpose to receive and welcome me.

Mr. Trench is one of the best known persons in Ireland; his agency is one of the most important; the estates that he manages certainly represent the superficial area of a whole county, and are situated in the most disturbed regions. Therefore, in the eyes of five or six thousand tenants and their families, he is the incarnation of landlordism; on him centres all the odium of the measures that he has been forced to take during the war that has now lasted four years, and he has never attempted to evade his responsibility. In all the Parliamentary inquiries when he has been called to give evidence, he has always spoken with unparalleled clearness. Moreover, he is not a Roman[Pg 132] Catholic; he does not even belong to the Established Church, but is one of the most active members of a particular sect called the Plymouth Brotherhood. Nothing was therefore lacking to prevent his becoming the bête noire of the whole country side, yet it is a singular coincidence—and this proves the man’s real value—that of all the agents he is perhaps the least detested. No one has ever attempted to murder him—but this may possibly be a little due to the fact that he is credited with being one of the best shots in Ireland; he has never been formally boycotted—that is to say, the Land League has never laid him under an interdict; he has even retained personal and almost amicable relations with its principal chiefs. The other day at Dublin, Mr. Harrington, the general secretary of the League, when he heard that I was to be the guest of Mr. Trench, began to laugh.

“Oh,” said he, “you are going to Trench; you could not do better to hear the other side of the question. I knew him well formerly, and I have preserved a great esteem for him, although we have not two ideas in common. Tell him so from me. Have you heard the pun they have made about him?—’One Trench is enough to drain all Ireland!’”

Under the guidance of this man, whose personal worth is so great that he has won respect and even sympathy from his bitterest political enemies, I am now about to visit part of county Kerry, the most disturbed district in Ireland.

We took our tickets for Killarney, and from there we shall drive to Kenmare, passing through the most picturesque scenery in the country. Every year a number of tourists flock there, an excursion to Lake[Pg 133] Killarney being an indispensable item in every tour round Ireland.

Shortly after our departure from Mallow we approached a mountainous region, and, although trees are rare in Ireland, where there are scarcely any forests, these mountains are covered with brushwood. The town of Killarney itself contains 6,000 inhabitants (again I quote Mr. Black), and it is built near to a lake. As we had nearly twenty-five miles to drive before we could reach Kenmare we went into the hotel to lunch. The landlord came forward to make a sad complaint to Mr. Trench. The poor man adjudged politics, the Land League, and above all, the newspaper reporters, to the infernal regions. There had been so many murders in the neighbourhood, so many outrages as they say here, and the journalists have painted the state of the country in such black colours, that the tourists have taken fright and have gone to quieter countries. His hotel is empty or nearly so. He appears so disconsolate that I feel I ought to say a few consoling words to him.

“Sir,” said I, “allow a stranger, who is quite disinterested in the matter, to give you a little advice. You must evidently take some steps. You must give up the timid tourist. But there exist, thank heaven, other varieties of tourists! Why do not you examine the position of affairs and find an attraction for romantic tourists—those who on their return home enjoy making their neighbours shudder while relating to them the dangers from which they have escaped during the holidays? The Neapolitan hotels are always so full when there is any chance of an eruption of Vesuvius that, if we can believe the newspapers, the innkeepers there have combined and have promised a large[Pg 134] reward to Professor Palmieri, a man who has made the study of volcanoes his speciality, if he will organise artificial eruptions when the syndicates desire them. At Ajaccio an hotel-keeper of my acquaintance subsidises a brigand, the celebrated Ballacoscia—a wonderful man! Twice a week he leaves his house at Pentica to settle in a very picturesque grotto above Boccognano, near the railway station. He receives travellers there. I have known several old English ladies who have for five pounds bought the stiletto with which he avenged his sister’s honour. Another, to whom he gave a lock of his hair, sent to England for a capital waterproof for him to use in his professional excursions. All these small benefits or gains are amicably divided between the intelligent innkeeper and the brigand, and every one is content. Why do not you attempt something of the same kind? In your place I should ask Mr. Trench to arrange a small eviction in the neighbourhood every week. You may rest assured that amongst the evicted family you could always arrange to have a venerable looking old man and a few pretty girls who would wail together harmoniously. You could organise excursion trains. For two shillings there might be a simple eviction; for three shillings an old woman of ninety should be forcibly carried from the house by the police; and for four shillings the police should be received with volleys of stones. Take my advice, think over the idea. Perhaps it contains the solution of the Irish question. For I hope that you would give good fees to your company of performers.”

The Killarney innkeeper listened to me with great interest. I heard him mutter “Bedad! there is something in that.” And after vigorously shaking hands he[Pg 135] accompanied us to the carriage, where I seated myself with Mr. Trench and his secretary, a tall young man, named Lewis.

“You are not afraid to sit next to me?” said Mr. Trench laughing. “We shall pass through some of our worst villages. If any one shoots at me you will have your share of the charge.”

“Bah!” I answered, “every landlord that I have met has been shot at two or three times. Your boys seem very unskilful!”

“All right! Drive on, Dick. Lewis, is your revolver loaded?”

“Yes, sir; here it is.”

“Ah! I must change the cartridges in mine.”

This is how we travel through county Kerry in the year of grace 1886.

But the surprises in store for me had not yet come to an end.

We had scarcely gone a hundred paces before Mr. Trench showed me an enormous building that we were passing on our right. “Do you see the castle down there?” said he. “Lord X—— lives there. Three years ago, after a dispute with one of his tenants, he was informed that his castle was doomed. It had been agreed that it should be blown up with dynamite. The Government at once sent off twenty constables, who are still there. Ten keep guard during the day and ten during the night. They cost the Government 2,000l. per annum.”

“Do you really believe that if the men were withdrawn the castle would be blown up?”

“I am absolutely certain of it. The dynamite is already prepared.”

[Pg 136]

The next moment we quitted the road and entered a fine park, bordered by the lake.

“We will get down here,” said Mr. Trench. “I want to show you the ruins of Muckross Abbey.”

Before us, on a small eminence, I saw a large wall pierced by pointed arched windows, which I recognised at once, for all the Irish railway carriages are ornamented with photographs of it. The abbey was founded, it is said, in 1440. Now, only a few towers and a very curious little cloister remain, and in the centre a magnificent yew tree has grown. The ground outside of the chapel is still used as a cemetery for the members of certain families. After all, in my opinion, the ruins are hardly worthy of the reputation they have acquired.

As we were re-entering the carriage a man came running out.

“There’s two shillings a head to pay, please your honours,” cried he.

“Do you take us for tourists by any chance?” said Mr. Trench, whom he had not at first seen.

The man, laughing, bowed low, and then without any further demand on us ran to a carriage full of Americans who had just driven up.

“Now look at the castle,” continued Trench. “It was built by the father of the present owner, Mr. H——, of Muckross. He spent 40,000l. upon it—something like a million of your francs. Everything that you see is derived from the estate. Still it is what is called ‘an encumbered estate.’ It has been seized by creditors, and Mr. H—— is now in America. He was an officer, but was compelled to resign his commission, and to work as clerk in a New York attorney’s office. Do you know how they keep up the paths and replace the slates on[Pg 137] the roof?—with the shillings that poor old man makes the tourists pay him for relating the history of the abbey! This is what we are reduced to in Ireland!”

The road gradually ascended, skirting the mountains which overlook the lake. These mountains are covered with woods containing handsome beech, fir, and other trees, and even a few oaks.

“Look there,” said Trench, pointing them out to me, “those are fine trees, are they not? The Canadian and Norwegian firs are now brought to us so cheaply that the few trees we possess are not worth the expense of cutting down. The only deer now left in Ireland are here. From time to time there is a hunt to amuse the tourists. After an hour the animal takes to the water The hounds are recoupled, and the stag escapes with a bath!”

As we ascend, the landscape becomes more charming. At our feet on the right we see the largest lake in Killarney, covered with islets, that at a distance resemble bouquets of verdure. The stream that flows at the bottom of the valley feeds three or four others that we pass by in succession. By degrees the woods disappear, and the mountains seem bristling with huge grey rocks.

This rough country, however, is not a desert. Wherever the rocks have held a little vegetable earth one sees a small field, and then by looking carefully we finally perceive a small hut. There are people vegetating there.

Catching sight of one of these houses not far from the road, between us and the stream, I asked Mr. Trench to allow me to visit it.

“Wait a moment,” said he, “I will go with you. Tell[Pg 138] them that you are French, and give them a shilling, then you are certain to be well received.”

We descended by a goats’-path. I wish to assure my readers that the details that follow are strictly true, and that all the figures were written down on the spot.

The house in front of us was about eight yards long by five wide. One of the gables is formed by the vertical side of a large rock against which it leans. The other gable and the two side walls are built of dry stone. The walls are only about six feet high, but the roof is very sloping, and this renders the inside room sufficiently lofty.

The roof is formed of a few bundles of reeds and clods of grass which rest on a dozen bare poles. There is neither chimney nor window, and the earth is the floor. The smoke escapes as it best can through the numerous holes in the roof. The little daylight that enters can only come in by the same way. The occupiers walk about on the mud. The hearth, on which a few clods of turf are burning, is formed by four or five stones arranged in a circle. The opening that is used as a doorway must also serve as the entrance for every wind, for there is not the least trace of anything to close it with. With regard to furniture, I can only discover a saucepan, a kind of watering pot, an old, broken iron bedstead, on which an old blanket is thrown, and which stands to the left of the door, between it and the rock; on the right there is a camp bedstead, formed of a few planks supported by stakes The family, which surrounds us, consists of a man about forty years old, his wife, his mother-in-law, who is about seventy-seven and quite blind, and four children from[Pg 139] ten to two years old. I never saw such utter misery in any part of the world. The man is covered with tattered garments that can hardly, strictly speaking, be called clothes. He has also shoes. In this country agriculture is all carried on with a spade. Now in order to dig with a spade one must have shoes. This is why the men are the only members of a family who wear anything on their feet. The nameless rags that are wrapped round the women and children defy description. The old woman, who is blind, as I have said, only wears a chemise and a skirt that scarcely reaches her knees. These two garments are in such a state that she is really almost naked. When she tries to walk she drags herself from rock to rock in order not to fall, testing the ground with her feet which are covered with cuts. The other woman is dressed in about the same style. The two smaller children are quite naked, and they certainly look the best. But it is terrible to see the sickly skin, the hollow cheeks, and drawn features of these poor people who are evidently suffering from hunger.

How can it be otherwise? When the husband gets any work it is on the road, and he earns a shilling a day; but he rarely finds anything to do, and the money only pays the rent. The whole family must therefore live on the produce of two cows and the potato field. I asked if I might see it.

A few steps from the hut a bank of rocks rises at the foot of the mountain, the tableland thus formed arrests the soil that the rain brings down from the heights above, the layer of vegetable mould is therefore a little thicker there than elsewhere. It is this tableland that has been cleared. I measured it. It is about sixty-two[Pg 140] yards long by twenty-nine wide. I notice that only seven or eight hundred yards of the enclosure are really fit for cultivation. I am then shown the cows; they are two miserable little thin beasts of the native race, called Kerry cows; they are as thin as the horse in the Apocalypse and jump like chamois over the rocks that surround them. I asked myself what they could possibly find to eat.

The man had built his own house, but, after all, that had not taken him long. His landlord has, therefore, only given him the field I have just seen, and the right of pasturage for his two cows, while for this handsome establishment, that he pompously calls a farm, the wretched man pays 3l. per annum. The price is absolutely ridiculous; but even if he paid nothing at all, supposing he was given the whole place, a field of sixty-two yards long by twenty-nine wide cannot possibly provide food for a family of six or seven persons, nor even provide work for the man. Nor is there any manufacture in the neighbourhood which could employ him. If he were the owner instead of the tenant, even if he had not one penny of taxes nor of rent to pay, he and his family would still die of hunger; and I defy all those gentlemen in O’Connell Street to prove the contrary. What, then, is the object of making him a landowner? They would attach him to the soil like a rock; and the soil will not feed him. At least, in the present state of things; he would go away if he retains any common-sense. Nothing could be droller—if it is possible to use this word in speaking of such sad subjects—than the manner in which these little inquiries are made. Mr. Trench was the first to enter the house, twirling his shillalah with an easy air. The two[Pg 141] women, crouched in a corner near the fire, did not move; the youngest only looked askance at us.

“Good morning, ladies! How are you?” said Mr. Trench.

A grunt was the only answer.

“Here is a French gentleman who wishes to see your house. You well know what Frenchmen are!”

“Ah! your honour!” stammered the old woman. “There—I have heard of the French! may the blessed Virgin Mary be with them! Will they not come soon? When they are here we shall be less miserable! God bless them!”

The young one joined in chorus. We heard a running fire of pious ejaculations, to each of which Mr. Trench devoutly shouted “Amen!” The noise made it impossible to hear oneself speak. The old woman was particularly terrible, her voice was so piercing. Then from time to time Trench gave a great thump on the ground with his stick, exclaiming, though still with the utmost politeness, “Whish’t! my dear madam! whish’t!” I had always heard that “whish’t” meant silence. It appears that this is so, only it is not in English, but in Irish. But I never saw anything so strange as the way in which the conversation was thus carried on. It had, at all events, the effect of putting us on the best terms with the whole family—a result which the distribution of a few sixpences perhaps tended to accelerate. The women then conducted us back to the carriage, overwhelming us with the noisiest benedictions.

“Let me understand,” said I to Mr. Trench as soon as we were a little way from the cottage. “Will you explain to me how you can ask 3l. rent from those unfortunate people for less than an acre of very bad[Pg 142] land and for the right of valueless pasturage that is absolutely visionary, for you see the state of his two cows?”

“Allow me to wait a few moments before answering your questions,” he replied.

Ten minutes later we came to a bend in the road, which having now reached the top of the hillock that we had been ascending since we left Killarney, turns suddenly to the left, and then re-descends into another valley, still wilder than the first, and where there are no more trees. The names in this country are so diabolic that I avoid writing them down as much as possible, because I foresee that the proofs would have to be sent at least four times to the printers before we could expect the compositors to reproduce them as they are spelt. Another thing is that nine-tenths of my French readers would abandon the attempt to read them. For instance, the valley we have just passed through is called Coom-a-Dhuv; the last lake we saw is the Loc-an-bric-Dearg; the mountain opposite is Cro-mag-lan; and the pass by which we go from one valley to another bears the soft name of Derrygariff. One of my old relations often excites herself about the obstinacy that leads English people to say pocket-handkerchief when it would be so much easier to pronounce mouchoir de poche. And really, without going so far as this worthy lady, I cannot help thinking that it must be very tiring in the end to be obliged to utter such long words, and that it must seriously complicate existence.

We are now at Derrygariff, since there is a Derrygariff. On the right side of the road stands a horrible house of dry stones, from which an old woman came out, very dry too, and not less tattered than those whom we[Pg 143] had just left. On seeing her, Trench abruptly leaned back in the carriage. She rushed towards us, crying in a whining voice:

“Just a penny, your honour! And may the Blessed Virgin be with your honour!”

“Amen,” growled Trench, suddenly showing himself like a devil springing from a holy-water vase.

The old woman drew back thunderstruck.

“Tell me then, Mrs. Finnigan; will you please tell me who authorised you to settle under-tenants on your land?”

“Holy Virgin! Mother of God!” said Mrs. Finnigan, stupefied. Then, at once assuming an amiable expression:

“Eh! is it good Mr. Trench? May God protect him! He’s a sight to cure sore eyes. And I took him for a tourist!”

“I see that,” continued Trench, “and you are not ashamed to beg, although, to my knowledge, you have 500l. in the bank at Kenmare? But you have not answered my question. Who is this under-tenant that you have settled on your land?”

“Oh, Mr. Trench! To accuse us of under-letting our land. Holy Mother of God! Never! It is only a poor man who asked leave to settle there; now we can’t turn him off; and then, taking pity upon him, we engaged him as caretaker, and we are only paid for the land he occupies by his work upon ours, or upon the roads, because my husband has undertaken the care of the roads. Your honour, the poor must help each other, your honour!”

“Ah! Just so. I see how it is,” said Trench. “Drive on, Dick.”

[Pg 144]

Then, turning towards me:

“Now do you understand? You heard that impudent hussy explain in a few words the system of under-tenants, which is one of the worst plagues in Ireland, and for which they account us responsible. Finnigan, her husband, rents a farm of ninety acres; he also has the right of pasturage on the mountains. As far as I recollect, he pays a rent of 15l. or 20l. a year. You see that it is pretty moderate; and the proof that it is not let too dearly is that he has made large savings, in spite of the bad years that we have passed through. He is an active, intelligent man, but horribly avaricious. You saw the house he lives in; he would not improve it for anything in the world, because his wife and children never fail to ask alms from passing tourists, and he considers that it is especially desirable to arouse their pity. Now, without saying a word to us, he under-lets the land. You have just seen one of his tenants; perhaps he has three or four others hidden in different corners; and you have heard the money he demands from them. His rents are never in arrear; they are even paid in advance, because he is careful to have them paid by the man’s work.

“You must remember that this arrangement is strictly forbidden; first by the lease, and afterwards by the law. To avoid difficulties, the unfortunate man is reported as his landlord’s servant. He can, therefore, at any moment be turned out of the house that he has built himself.

“What can be done in the matter? I could certainly get rid of him by ejectment. But I should have to summons him, then obtain a company of soldiers, receive stones and mud from the whole population; risk[Pg 145] a fight, in which one or two men may be killed; and then be called a tyrant by the newspapers. From time to time, when the abuse gets too flagrant, I make an example, but as a rule I close my eyes.

“Good heavens!” he continued, “I don’t know what they reproach us for! First they say that in bygone days the land was confiscated—taken from its rightful owners. We will admit that to be true. Four or five hundred years have passed since the event took place that they are alluding to. But how did the old landowners get possession of the land? By conquest, as a rule, if not always. And why should conquest create a more legitimate title than confiscation?

“Besides, I altogether deny that all the landed estates in this country were acquired through confiscation. We are, at this moment, on the Marquis of Lansdowne’s estate, the present Governor of Canada. He owns 100,000 acres here, all in a ring fence. Now this is how the estate came into the family.

“You see how bad the land is. Two hundred years ago the country was absolutely a desert. At that time all the mountains you now see bare were covered with forests; in the last century they were cut down to provide the wood required for fuel. One of the ancestors of the present marquis came over, settled here, and obtained a concession of the land on the condition that he brought it into cultivation. At his own expense he brought the labourers. He built the town of Kenmare, where we are now going. It still belongs entirely to the family. Afterwards, in recognition of his services, he received the title of Marquis of Lansdowne.

“He therefore created the property. It did not exist[Pg 146] before he came to the country. The land was as barren as Greenland may be now. He brought the soil into good condition, and all the ancestors of the people now living here came with him. I do not say that in Ireland there are many estates that have the same history as this one; but can there be in the whole world a property which has a more legitimate and respectable origin?

“How can they say that the landowners have not done enough for their estates? Assuredly there are some of them who are not above reproach on this score. But towards many of them the accusation is most unjust. This estate never brought in more than 15,000l.; now it only produces 7,000l. Since I have managed it I have spent more than 25,000l. in improvements of every description, and, I may add, in improvements that are quite unproductive for the owner, since the income is always decreasing. Look at that small house. I built it last year for a tenant with whom I was much pleased, and whom I wished to encourage. It cost me 120l., and his rent—which was not increased one penny—is 14l.

“Now, look over there, at that group of abominable tumble-down huts, which are quite as bad as the one we visited just now. One of the tenants had six sons. He gave up portions of the farm in order to settle them upon it. Each of them, when he married, built a house, and he now lives here, cultivating the tenth part of the original farm, which did not exceed about thirty acres. These divisions were all made without our permission. Each of the sons has five or six children; there are therefore thirty acres of land—and bad land too—from which they expect to get food for forty-five[Pg 147] or fifty persons, and this in a country which, properly speaking, is only fit for stock raising! How can they escape dying of hunger? They answer by telling me that in certain parts of China the land supports still more people.

“Apparently the climate and the land are better there than with us; here it is impossible. When one is dealing with the first tenant, one calculates that a family of five or six people can live off the farm; now they want to make it support forty or fifty. There is a limit to the earth’s productiveness, and this limit has been already passed.

“We must always return to the fact that the great misfortune is the lack of manufactures. I have done all in my power to acclimatise them over here, but I have never succeeded. I asked a celebrated geologist to come and examine and ascertain what resources the country might offer. He left at the end of a week, telling me that he should be robbing me if he stayed any longer. There is a little iron, but since we have no coal to work it with we cannot hope to make it profitable.

“I turned to another quarter for help. If we had not the raw material, at least labour was cheap. We thought that we might utilise that by establishing a manufactory which would have for its aim the production of objects that required but little raw material. Our railway companies import all their requisites from England. I wrote to some English capitalists: we had been studying to ascertain if these requisites could not be made in Ireland. Whatever combinations were adopted, even at the lowest calculation, we could never see our way to pay more than 3 per cent. on the capital[Pg 148] invested. Another thing, who would be mad enough to establish a manufactory in a country where now every one is at the mercy of an occult and irresponsible power like the Land League, which has often prevented vessels from loading or unloading, solely because the owner of the ship had infringed or not obeyed some of its orders? Imagine a factory suddenly boycotted without warning! What would become of the shareholders?

“It is only too evident that the present state of things cannot last. Is it admissible that a Government should spend 2,000l. per annum for an indefinite period to keep policemen on guard over that castle I have just shown you? It would be easier and more economical to let the Nationalists blow it up, except for the indemnity to which the owner might become entitled. But there are ten others in the same position.

“Where is the remedy? Unhappily, we cannot see any sign of it. Mr. Gladstone has come to an understanding with the Land League, and one plan is now proposed. They wish to dispossess the landlords, and to make the peasants landowners. But let us consider what the practical results of that measure would be. Let us take, for instance, the case of the tenant of whom we were speaking just now. He has not paid one penny of rent for the last three years. Are he and his forty children and grandchildren any richer on that account? They are near dying of hunger; and if they should die of hunger, it is because they insist upon existing on the produce of thirty acres of very middling land. If we imagine him the owner of the thirty acres, in what way will the situation be improved? Will that change make the land any better, or the climate less moist?

“Besides, he would not retain the ownership very long.[Pg 149] In every village there is a pawnbroker, on whose premises all the furniture accumulates belonging to the peasants, and who often buys their harvests before they are reaped. They are all in debt to the grocer and to the manure merchant—even the bonnets worn by the women on Sundays are all bought on credit. Three months after the land had been given to them they would have found means to mortgage it, if possible, at double its value.

“More than that, is it quite certain that they wish to become landowners as much as is pretended? It does not seem at all certain to me. As soon as the principles of the Land Act were known, a landlord, whose property I manage, wrote to me, saying that he authorised me to treat with all his tenants on that basis. He has more than eight hundred! I gave them all the opportunity of accepting the arrangement; they all refused, without a single exception.

“However, some of them told me that they were willing to treat with me, but the conditions they proposed were absolutely inadmissible. Judge for yourself.

“They desired that I should accept as a basis, not the reduced rents that had been already fixed by the Land Commissioners, who, however, had already reduced the rentals on an average from 25 to 30 per cent., but that those rents should again be reduced 25 per cent. Then instead of multiplying this figure by 20, according to the provisions of the Land Act, making the price of purchase 20 years’ rent, they wished to multiply it by 12 or 13 only. So that the owner of a property that five years ago brought in 400l., and was then worth about 8,000l. or 9,000l. first saw his rents reduced by 100l., and then by the terms of the Land Act, the price of[Pg 150] expropriation or forced sale would have been but 6,000l. (300l. × 20); he had already therefore to submit to a loss of from 2,000l. to 3,000l. of his capital. But I was authorised to accept this valuation.

“They, however, proposed to diminish the original rental by another 25 per cent., which would thereby be reduced to 200l., and then by multiplying the 200l. by 12, the purchase-money would be 2,400l., twelve years’ purchase. They, therefore, would have it inferred that in five years the property had lost more than three-fourths of its value.

“Now on nine-tenths of all Irish estates the annual charges and expenses exceed, and greatly exceed, one-fourth of the average income. Nine times out of ten, therefore, the indemnity for expropriation would not suffice to pay off the debts. Not a single penny would reach the unlucky proprietors. Frankly, now, can we wonder that they refuse to aid in their own ruin?”

Whilst he was speaking to me I was looking at the country we were passing through. An artist would find a certain charm in it, but in the eyes of an agriculturist its appearance is lamentable. On all sides are rocky, barren mountains; we have not seen a tree since we left Derrygariff. The streams daily wash a little more of the thin layer of vegetable mould from the great schistic blocks that are visible on all sides, carrying it down to the turf pits that fill the bottom of the valley. The destruction of the forests has been another great misfortune for this country, and I asked Mr. Trench if he had never tried to re-establish plantations.

“Replant!” said he. “In the first place, as I have already told you, wood has no value here because of the[Pg 151] timber imported from Canada and Norway; and in the second, if I replanted the mountains, the farmers would hasten to complain to the Land League that I was depriving their cattle of pasturage, and my plantations would soon cease to exist. They all have goats; and you know how little time goats require to destroy young trees. If I wished to replant these mountains or simply to cultivate them on a new method, I must begin by sending the tenants away. Mr. Adair tried to do it, and you know how that business ended.”

I had heard Mr. Adair’s history. A few years ago it was much discussed both in Ireland and England. It is one of the most typical cases that I can quote. It shows that in this unhappy country the most elementary exercise of the rights of ownership may entail serious complications.

In 1859 Mr. Adair bought the estate of Derryveigh, in Donegal. It was a very mountainous and very poor district. There was scarcely any of the land under cultivation; the tenants only kept a few cows and goats.

Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Adair thought that sheep-breeding would be profitable. But to organise that undertaking he was obliged to make some alterations in the farms, and thereby produced great dissatisfaction amongst the population. One day the sheep disappeared as though by magic. The peasants declared that they had died of hunger on the mountains, and, in fact, a great many of them were found dead at the bottom of the precipices, but Mr. Adair’s shepherds asserted that the sheep had been stolen, and the strict search instituted by the police confirmed their statements, for undeniable proofs were found that a certain number of[Pg 152] them had been eaten. The County Court accepted the facts, and condemned the parishes to pay rather heavy damages to Mr. Adair, and this naturally considerably envenomed their relations. At length one evening the chief shepherd did not return from an expedition he had made on the mountain. His body was found—he had been murdered; but the peasants assisted the police so badly that the murderers were never discovered.

Mr. Adair was exasperated to the last degree. The crime took place near the hamlet of Glenveigh, and it was also here that traces of the lost sheep had been found. He declared that he considered the tenants at Glenveigh morally responsible for all that had happened, and that he intended getting rid of them all.

When this decision was announced the priest and the Protestant minister sent him a joint letter, pointing out that the consequences of such a determination must weigh heavily upon the innocent, and begging him not to carry out his intentions.

Mr. Adair replied that his decision was irrevocable; all the tenants must leave Glenveigh. But, in recognition of the fact that there might be some foundation for his correspondents’ observations, he declared that he was ready to find new farms on another part of the estate, and for which he would grant leases, to all the old tenants who could bring letters of recommendation from either of the reverend gentlemen.

I cannot resist entering into the minutest details of this story, for it reveals a state of affairs that, to us Frenchmen, appears quite incomprehensible. I have taken all these details from New Ireland—a very interesting book by Mr. Sullivan, one of the most eminent members of the Irish Nationalist party. Mr.[Pg 153] Gray, the editor of the Freeman’s Journal, advised me to read it, telling me that it is one of the best written books that have appeared on Ireland. I am convinced that the author fully intended to relate these events with the utmost impartiality. But, after all, if he shows a little partiality in his recitals, it is evidently not for Mr. Adair, whose conduct he stigmatises as frightful.

Well, here are the facts. Mr. Adair believed that a small village, entirely occupied by his tenants, was a nest of thieves. And he had good reason to believe it, since the police had given him the proofs. Moreover, one of his servants had been killed, and everything seemed to indicate that the murderer, if he did not belong to the village, was, at all events, well known to the inhabitants. It is impossible, in my opinion, not to think that Mr. Adair acted very wisely. And I must add that his propositions to the priest and the minister appear to me indications of an intention to pursue a most moderate course.

But I go still further. What landowner in France has not found it necessary to join three farms into one simply to diminish the number of buildings, and to reduce the working expenses? To do this he is obliged to send away two farmers. Who dare maintain that in doing so he was committing a criminal action? Is any progress possible if this theory be admitted? But we will continue the story of Glenveigh.

Mr. Adair, therefore, gave due and formal notice to all the inhabitants of Glenveigh that they must leave their houses. Not one of them moved. On the contrary, they all intimated that they would offer every resistance, if not active, at least passive, to any [Pg 154]endeavour to turn them out. Mr. Adair, therefore, according to custom, presented himself before the authorities at Dublin, and, having affirmed upon oath that he considered that the men employed in the eviction would be exposed to personal danger in the discharge of their duties, he demanded that they should be protected by the police. The authorities thoroughly shared his views on the subject, and at once ordered a regular army corps to proceed to his assistance. Two hundred constables assembled, and thirty soldiers, under the command of an officer from Dublin garrison, joined their party.

These operations commenced on the 8th April, and here I recite as literally as possible:

When they reached Lough-Barra the police halted. The sheriff, accompanied by a small escort, advanced towards a house occupied by a widow named M’Award, aged sixty, who lived there with her seven children—six girls and one boy.

The sheriff, forced to carry out his painful duties, entered the house and put Mr. Adair’s agent in possession.

Six men, engaged for the purpose, immediately began to pull down the house. The scene that followed baffles description. The despair of the unhappy widow and her daughters amounted to frenzy. Stretched on the floor, they at first appeared insensible, but soon recovering, they gave vent to that terrible Irish lamentation called the ‘Irish wail.’ The whole valley resounded with their cries.

All the inhabitants burst into tears.

The eviction was not ended until Monday evening. Before leaving his house for the last time an old[Pg 155] man of eighty knelt down and kissed the doorpost. His wife and children imitated his example.

In the evening the scene became particularly distressing. None of these unfortunate people had been able to resign themselves to leave the ruins of their homes. They lighted fires and camped out under a pouring rain, sheltering themselves as they best could under the hedges.

Mr. Sullivan then relates that a subscription was immediately raised. Funds arrived from all sides. An Irish Society in Australia offered to defray all the expenses of the voyage if the unhappy people would emigrate. They had already dispersed. However, traces of them all were soon discovered; some of them were dead. One man, named Bradley, had gone mad.

When all those who were willing to leave were assembled, they first went to the cemetery to gather some blades of grass from the graves of their parents, to carry away as mementoes of their home. Their priest, the Rev. Mr. O’Fadden, accompanied them to Liverpool. This young priest had never, since their troubles, ceased to pay the most admirable and devoted attention to them.

I was on the quay at Dublin, continued Mr. Sullivan, when these unfortunate people embarked and quitted Irish soil. I prayed to God, that in His mercy He would compensate them for the misery they had endured. Six months later, I received a letter from Mr. O’Grady, telling me that they had all arrived safely at their destination, and that they started in the colony with every chance of success.

This story is certainly very touching; but, after all,[Pg 156] the moral of it, if it contains one at all, is that those people, who were very unhappy in Ireland, are now prospering in Australia, and that if they were invited to return to Glenveigh they would probably all refuse.

But if Mr. Sullivan, with the money produced by his book, should buy a house and let it, how could he, if he felt inclined to change the internal arrangements, turn his tenant out?—this is what I should like to know. And if the old man of eighty was so unwilling to leave his native land, why did he not ask the Rev. Mr. O’Fadden to speak to Mr. Adair for him, and he would then have received a tenancy where he could have died in peace?

We reached Kenmare about six o’clock. It is a pretty little port, situated on one of the deepest of the innumerable bays that the great Atlantic rollers have washed out of the west coast of Ireland; they form havens that would be invaluable for commerce—if there were any. There is a gate in the chief square of Kenmare, I may say the only square, through which we enter a beautiful park, and in the midst of it stands one of those small English villas, which look foolish when they are placed side by side in a row, but which, standing alone, are really charming. This one is hidden under a thick mantle of climbing plants, through which the large glass panes of the bow windows glitter brightly. This is Lansdowne Lodge, the residence provided by the Marquis of Lansdowne for the use of his agent.

The interior is not less delightful than the exterior. The hall is ornamented with a number of deer and elk horns, found in admirable preservation in the turf pits.[Pg 157] I had already seen some superb specimens the other day at Sir Croker Barrington’s. To the left opens a dining-room, where at eight o’clock some of the inhabitants of Kenmare assembled, to whom Mr. Trench wished to introduce me. The chief dish on the table was a splendid salmon that one of these gentlemen had killed two hours before. The conversation was most lively and interesting, but really whilst listening to it one feels in a dream. For instance, I discover that in compliment to me these gentlemen have consented to dine away from home, but that it is a very exceptional circumstance, and they are not sure that they may not regret it. No one dare go out at night for fear of being shot. One of them, who is employed on the estate, has just heard that he is to be boycotted, because of an eviction in which he was concerned. He expected that on the morrow the butcher would refuse to supply him with meat, but he consoled himself by the reflection that he had some biscuits and some tins of preserves in the house.

After dinner we went to Mr. Trench’s study to smoke. I sat down by a small table on which stood a candlestick, and placed my coffee by it.

“Excuse me, dear sir,” said one of the guests, addressing me, half laughing, half serious, “but you are wrong to sit there. You see, if any one fired at us through the window you might be hurt. There, allow me to move your chair a little. Now you are safe. And besides, hanging on the wall within reach of your hand you have a loaded revolver and a tomahawk—both excellent weapons. Try the edge of the tomahawk. Look, too, on the mantel-piece, there is a bowie knife; some people prefer a bowie knife, but I[Pg 158] like the tomahawk best, and this one is extremely sharp.”

I effusively thanked this amiable gentleman. The conversation became general, and the guests discussed weapons. Each drew a revolver from his pocket and warmly defended his own theories. They all agreed that Mr. Trench’s revolver was too small. He was sitting about five or six paces from me on the other side of the chimney.

“Ah!” said they, “you may be the best shot in the country, but you are wrong to use such a short weapon, it cannot be relied on; you would miss a man at ten paces.”

“You say that I could not be sure of my aim!” cried Mr. Trench; “you shall see.”

Instantly I heard a frightful noise, in which I distinguished three reports, a sound of broken glass, and then I felt on my back and head a succession of tiny pricks, as though all the archers of Lilliput were shooting at me. Thinking it was a Fenian attack I sprang to the tomahawk, seized the revolver in the other hand, and, entrenched behind my arm-chair, I awaited events.

It was only Mr. Trench who had fired at the candle within a foot of my head. The first two bullets had simply broken the sconce, the last had cut the candle in two, and one of the balls had struck a box of steel pens that had been placed on a what-not; the pens had flown into the air, and some had fallen into my collar and had produced the pricking.

After warmly congratulating the master of the house, the guests took leave of us, we conducting them to the door. There each one grasped his shillalah with the[Pg 159] left hand and his revolver with the right, and we saw them passing all the clumps of trees carefully and at a respectful distance. For ourselves, after watching them for a minute we securely barricaded the door, and I was then shown to a capital room, where I slept in an excellent bed.

But what an extraordinary country!

[Pg 160]



July 8.—When I came down stairs this morning, the sitting-rooms presented a most animated scene. The library floor had disappeared under a litter of papers, and of half-opened deed boxes. Mr. Trench stood before his bureau emptying the pigeon-holes, where all his correspondence had accumulated during his absence. His two secretaries, seated in a corner, classed all the letters, as soon as he had looked through them, making notes, in large registers, of the instructions given them by their chief. Mr. Trench appeared to be discharging the double duties of “agent” and magistrate.

To me he even seemed, at times, to be filling a third office; that of doctor—of amateur doctor, to be sure, but all the more appreciated, because his advice and his remedies were given gratuitously. From time to time, the door opened and a bundle of rags appeared, from which issued a voice of lamentation. This was an old woman, who had come to ask for a prescription. Special aptitude is required to practise medicine in this country;[Pg 161] for it appears that, as a rule, every village possesses an old woman, who, for a small salary, undertakes to go in search of the doctor, giving as though for herself an exact account of the illness from which the real patient, who does not show himself, is suffering, but to whom she faithfully delivers the medicine that has been given to her. This system has the advantage of avoiding journeys and expense on the patient’s account, for the old woman, who is always the most miserable in the district, receives the medicine and advice gratis from the county. But these customs render the diagnosis curiously complicated.

It is not only invalids who, this morning, flock to Mr. Trench. There are also a great many farmers. Twenty-five or thirty are waiting grouped before the door. They are tall, thin fellows, with short breeches, and high-crowned hats pulled down over their eyes, each holding a blackthorn shillalah under one arm. Still smoking their little short pipes, they gesticulate, talk and laugh, with so much animation that from time to time one of the secretaries interposes with “Hush, hush!” Each man, when admitted in his turn, begins by carefully putting out his pipe, and placing it in his waistcoat pocket; then, taking off his hat, his whole physiognomy suddenly changes its expression. The man, lively a minute before, assumes a broken-hearted attitude as he crosses the threshold of the office, and begins in a dolorous voice the litany, now so well known by every landowner in the country: “The year is very bad. The cattle will not sell!”

However, a good many bring something on account, and it is easy to see that the relations are much less strained here than in many other parts. These sums[Pg 162] on account are not large. Mr. Trench told me yesterday that usually at this season he receives 400l. per week, but that this year he does not receive more than 40l. This is not brilliant certainly; but, however, they must not complain. The priest at Kenmare, a president of the Land League, is a gentle, conciliating man; he is on the best terms with Mr. Trench, and through each doing his best, they have, until now, prevented a complete rupture.

Knowing that Mr. Trench would be very busy this morning, one of our guests of the previous evening had offered to fetch me in order to do the honours of Kenmare. I could not be in better hands. Mr. C—— is the greatest merchant in the town; he knows the country thoroughly, and has always managed to keep good friends with everybody. There are not many Irishmen who can say as much at the present time.

We remained for some time talking to the farmers at the door. I made the acquaintance of one of them, who is the director of the dairy founded on the estate by Mr. Trench—a dairy which has produced such good results that a second is now being started.

This creation deserves some notice. The Land League declares that the landowners and their agents are leeches that are exhausting Ireland, and that they never attempt to develop her resources. Is this true? It appears to me that here is one instance proving the contrary. Judge for yourselves.

The production of butter is the great industry of the country. We may almost say it is the only one. Now this industry is worked under the most deplorable conditions. As a rule, the very poor farmers only possess four or five milch cows. They are therefore[Pg 163] obliged to keep their cream some time before churning it. Besides, we can imagine what the dairies must be in a country where the people are lodged as they are here—usually the milk-pans stand in a corner of the single room where the whole family sleep together. Under these circumstances the butter can only be very inferior, and it is so much so, that it is always sold in London for sevenpence or eightpence per pound less than our Normandy butters. Some qualities are so bad that they never sell for more than tenpence the pound, and an Irish member, Major Saunderson, lately stated in the House of Commons, that the merchants could only use it to mix with margarine: it was only fit to adulterate butterine.

It was this unsatisfactory state of things that Mr. Trench wished to improve by creating a central factory, where the milk is brought every day, and where the butter can be made under the most favourable conditions. Mr. C—— related to me how the business had been arranged. This is another curious specimen of social customs.

First of all, it was necessary to obtain the farmers’ co-operation. Mr. Trench therefore assembled the inhabitants of two or three villages, in order to explain the proposed scheme to them. Irishmen will walk ten miles to be present at a meeting, so on the day named, Mr. Trench, arriving at the spot appointed, found himself in the presence of a crowd of two or three thousand persons.

“Boys,” said he, “I intended speaking to you in the schoolroom, but it is not possible; there are too many of you. Fetch me a table, put it there near the trunk of this tree; it will do for a platform.”

[Pg 164]

The table was ready in a second. He climbed upon it and explained his idea. The crowd, at first indifferent, became visibly antagonistic. Some agents of the Land League were present, and the great majority of the men assembled were manifestly hostile. Luckily Mr. Trench caught sight of a priest who had come with the others.

“Boys,” said he, at the end of his speech, “you do not seem enchanted with my proposals. You know that I cannot discuss it separately with each one of you. But there is Father X——. Let him come on the table by my side; he will tell you what he thinks of it all.”

Much surprised, Father X—— mounted the table and commenced to speak. He raised some objections, but listened attentively to Mr. Trench’s reasoning, and ended by declaring that, to him, the idea seemed excellent.

This was quite enough to produce a complete change. The case was won; applause broke out on all sides; those nearest to the table already proposed carrying Mr. Trench in triumph. He resumed his speech. Once the principle was declared good, it became necessary to decide upon a place for the first dairy. Then the whole thing was spoilt. These men, who one minute before would not hear of a dairy at all, now quarrelled as to which village should possess it. At first they only abused each other, but as their tempers warmed, the shillalahs began to play. A formidable tumult commenced, the table was upset, Mr. Trench and the curate rolled into each other’s arms, and only picked themselves up to run away as fast as they could in great danger of having their skulls cracked in the brawl, a[Pg 165] misfortune which happened to two or three dozen of those present. This meeting is still discussed on the country side. It was what they term “an illigant foight.”

At last the dairy was founded and worked to the general satisfaction. Every one brings his milk, and is paid accordingly. The results are very satisfactory, in the sense that the butter, being well made, is sold for two or three pence more than other kinds, though it is still a long way from any rivalry with the Normandy butter—a decided proof of the inferiority of the pasturage in this country.

I said, just now, that the situation is less strained here than in many other parts. But that does not mean that it is very brilliant. After talking to the manager of the dairy, I went into the office to say good-bye to Mr. Trench, whom I should not meet again before luncheon. He was reading a letter just brought to him. “There,” said he, giving it to me, “you have just come in time. Look what has taken place during my absence.”

I have this letter on my table whilst I write these lines. I wish I could copy it in extenso. Unfortunately it is too long. I must therefore confine myself to giving a summary of its contents. It is another study from the life.

We must first mention that the barony where we now are is called Kilgawan, and that on it there is a farm called Ballinaconiga. What names, ye gods! For a long time this farm was occupied by a certain O’Leary who yielded his soul to God two years ago, leaving two sons, Tim and James. The elder, who took on the farm, died shortly afterwards, owing several quarters in[Pg 166] arrear. Tim’s widow and daughters wished to continue his business, but the agent, who had not found the deceased a very satisfactory tenant, would not consent to the arrangement, but insisted that the farm should be ceded to the younger brother, James O’Leary. They agreed to this with fairly good grace, but changing their minds after some time, they wrote a complaint to the Land League, and its agents, only too happy to find an opportunity for exercising authority, assured them that they were in the right, and informed James O’Leary that he must leave the farm immediately. He refused and was boycotted in consequence.

These events happened some months ago. Since then he has found it impossible to sell anything in the market. His wife and daughters appeared at church on the Sunday following the notice served by the League, but were so hustled and knocked about that their clothes were torn to pieces, and they dared not go again. His little boy went to school; a week ago, when he entered the room, all the other children got up and went out. The same thing happened on three successive days, so the school was closed.

This state of things has lasted for the greater part of the winter. With the appearance of spring they invented something new. Every Sunday afternoon a hundred or a hundred and fifty people assemble before his door, led by his sister-in-law and his nieces. The whole party go into a large field of oats, which is in front of the house, and there begin a game of football. When night arrives they disperse, shouting to him that they will come back on the following Sunday. Whilst his oats were still too young to be hurt, the unfortunate O’Leary bore this annoyance patiently, but when they[Pg 167] commenced to grow he could endure it no longer. Last Sunday when he saw the game arranged, he opened his window and warned the aggressors that he would fire upon them if they did not go away. They answered by hooting (this is called “boo-ing” in the country), and then by a volley of stones and mud. He fired both barrels of his gun, loaded with small shot, into the crowd. A man and two women fell wounded. The poor fellow was at once arrested and taken to prison. Yesterday he was released on bail; but he must appear at the assizes, and, since the jury will probably be formed of Land Leaguers, he is sure to be condemned.

This is one of the great difficulties of the situation. In France the juries often pronounce strange enough verdicts. But how can this system produce satisfactory results in a country so profoundly disturbed as this is, where three-fourths of the jurymen sympathise with the Land League, and the last fourth join them through fear? The Government is reduced to having its political opponents judged, for purely political offences, by people who openly profess the same opinions as the accused. I will not compare the Irish to our communists of 1871, but if we had tried the pétroleuses by a jury composed of pétroleuses, we might bet heavily that they would have been acquitted, whilst on the other hand, if the same jury had been employed to try one of those rare members of the national guard, who joined the army at Versailles, he would have been condemned for the smallest peccadillo. As long as the jury officiates in Ireland, no one will dare to rally round the Government, and all its enemies are sure of escaping with impunity. The English Government has shown that it is quite incapable of protecting property, or[Pg 168] even of securing the personal safety of its partisans. It would be very extraordinary if it had many of them. Of all the arguments that I have heard brought forward in favour of Home Rule, this is the one that strikes me as the most forcible.

I took advantage of a free morning to visit the parish priest of Kenmare, or, rather, to give him the title and name by which he is known, the “Venerable Archdeacon O’S——.” A letter from Mr. Harrington, the secretary of the Land League, served as an introduction to him; though I do not say that I owe the cordial welcome I received to it, for a foreigner, particularly a Frenchman, is always sure of being well received by an Irish Catholic priest; but Mr. Harrington’s letter was not detrimental to me, for Father O’S—— is president of the Land League Committee which acts in this barony. This I had heard without surprise, but I now learnt with some astonishment that the vice-president is no other than the Anglican minister, Mr. X——. For the town of Kenmare possesses an Anglican minister.

When the State Church was suppressed—was “disestablished,” to use the common phrase—that is to say, when the tithes that supported it were abolished, it was decided that all acquired purchased positions should be respected, and that the holders should continue to be paid out of a special fund created for the purpose, and called the Ecclesiastical Fund. The Rev. Mr. X——’s case was one of these, and he will continue to receive during his life the stipend of 370l., on the condition of providing spiritual food for the Protestant population of the barony, who numbered twenty families at the outside, and who do not even appear to me animated[Pg 169] with any very exclusive faith, for four out of their number send their children to the Catholic school at the Convent.

Under these circumstances he is not overworked. He leads the life of a country gentleman. At the moment when I had the honour of being introduced to him he appeared much interested in training a very fine pony, which seemed to give him some trouble; for the groom, very well turned out, who accompanied him, had got down from the dog-cart to go to the animal’s head. His manners, however, are charming, and since he has never attempted to draw any of Father O’S——’s sheep into his own fold, the two pastors live on very good terms. At last, he avows opinions that are so favourable to the Land League, that it was felt the members could not do better than nominate him as vice-president, as I have already said.

It is interesting to see a Protestant minister adopting this position. I am assured that he is not the only one, and, that a fair number of his colleagues have clearly declared themselves partisans of Home Rule. It may be remembered that the opponents of this institution have always laid great stress upon the dangers that the Irish Protestants would be exposed to were they handed over to a national government, without adequate means of self-protection. It seems as though this danger were not very real, if it is true that those most deeply interested show so little fear of it. In any case it is most creditable to the Catholics that men representing a party of which they have had so much reason to complain, display such entire confidence in their toleration and sense of justice, that they aid by their votes a state of affairs in which the Catholics[Pg 170] would evidently have every facility for revenge. 1 had already at Rathmines heard Mr. Shackleton point out this thesis. I own that the sight of a Protestant minister, vice-president of the Land League, has made me think of it much more seriously than I had done before.

Father O’S—— did not tell me much about the O’Leary affair, but he interested me greatly by explaining clearly to me under what conditions the Catholic organisation has been working, and what has enabled the Church in Ireland to retain all her social and political influence, whilst in every other part of Europe she daily finds more difficulty in discharging her Apostolic functions.

When we reflect upon these questions of internal organisation, we notice, first of all, an important difference that exists between Catholicism and the majority of other sects. Amongst the latter, the unity is the parish, and often even the tie that binds the parishes together is so slight that we may almost call it non-existent. In our Church, on the contrary, the parish is certainly of great importance; but yet we may say that in many respects it is rather the diocese which is the unity in the organisation. This is so true that, whilst the diocese is constituted everywhere in absolutely the same manner, we find great diversity in the constitution of the parish. On this question, very distinct currents of ideas have been produced in the Church, although as a body, she is still so homogeneous. We can first define them in the mission countries. Some fraternities, the Jesuits, for instance, seem almost to cling to the diocese as a unity; they never appear in a hurry to increase the divisions by[Pg 171] forming parishes. The groups of Christians, confided to the spiritual direction of the catechists, are frequently visited by priests, who often remain in the midst of them, but who do not habitually reside there in a definite way. These are visitors sent by the bishop, to whom they return after each tour, in order to give an account of their mission, and to strengthen themselves in the religious life; but these are not curates in charge. On the contrary, others, foreign missions for instance, are inspired by quite different principles. As soon as a Christian congregation is formed, a priest is attached to it, who makes his residence with it, and, so to speak, does not move again. A small village in Konangsi, or in Yun-nan, thus finds itself formed into a parish as effectively as any small French commune. In the first system the bishop is kept informed of all that passes by the reports of the priests, who constantly return to him from all points of the diocese, whilst he travels very little himself. In the second, on the contrary, he is constantly travelling in order to visit his priests. This division, it is scarcely necessary to say, has nothing absolutely settled. The rule admits of numerous exceptions. But when one lives for any time amongst missionaries, these tendencies are soon noticed. I may add that the results of the first of these two systems appear to be superior to those of the second. These divergent views are also slightly felt amongst the clergy in the different countries of Europe. Some appear to prefer concentration of effort, others its dispersion. In France, there is evidently a tendency to parcel out the parishes as much as possible. Both bishops and people agree on this point. All seem to wish that each collection of houses, however small it may be, should become[Pg 172] a parish, if it be not already one, and remain a parish even when the population has diminished. When there is a scarcity of priests, they prefer suppressing the office of vicar, to uniting several parishes in one. I know, in one department, that I could name three villages, containing one to two hundred inhabitants; they are all three situated on the same road. Between the first and the third there are not more than three miles distance; all three are parishes, and to replace one of the priests who was missing, it was necessary to withdraw the vicar from a large commune of from eighteen hundred to two thousand souls.

Some bishops consider that this system could be modified with advantage. I know this because one of them told me so. The requirements of too large a flock can exceed the strength of a pastor; whilst if the flock be too small his abilities are not fully occupied. On the other hand, there are frequently serious difficulties in launching a young priest, who has not yet found his vocation, and who has scarcely left college, into the midst of a population, often indifferent and frequently hostile, without his finding near to him a guide and counsellor to direct him. When we see, in some districts, in what circumstances these young men are placed, we cannot help feeling deep pity for them, for their lives are passed in an intellectual isolation, which must be very hard to bear and which is not found to the same extent in any other career. The prelate to whom I alluded just now deplored this state of things and told me that, were he able, he would suppress several of the least important curacies in each district, provided that he could give two or three curates to those priests, whom he retained to[Pg 173] officiate, for those who would no longer have resident priests.

The practical experiment of this system is impossible in France, at all events for the moment, and for several reasons. First of all there are pecuniary considerations which are of paramount importance. The Government not only exacts that the religious service should be conducted but that the residence should be effective, and if these conditions are not carried out, the salary is stopped. And then it is also possible, it is even probable, that, amongst us, this new organisation would not be accepted by the clergy and people without some difficulty, for it is quite opposed to all our traditions.

It is not the same in Ireland. It is precisely this organisation which seems to have enabled the clergy in my country to acquire and retain the prodigious influence they now exert over the population. There are very few parishes. Few have less than three thousand souls; and most of them have eight or ten thousand. I am speaking, of course, of rural parishes. The population is widely scattered, much more so than in most of our provinces. But yet no attempt is made to create new parishes. This is not for lack of priests. The clergy are recruited with the greatest facility, the lists are full, and every year priests leave for the Colonies. But no one seems to think that any increase in the number of parishes would be desirable.

In fact, in each of them, the religious offices are discharged by several young curates, who aid the vicar and who go wherever they are called, on horseback or in carriages, as a rule, for the distances are often very great. Very simple buildings, without any architectural pretensions, have been erected to serve as chapels, in[Pg 174] order that no one should have too far to go to attend the Sunday services. Besides, the number of masses celebrated is considerable, for the custom of the priest celebrating two masses on the same day is very general.

Upon the whole, the priests perform nearly all the parochial work; catechising, confessions, visiting the sick, &c. &c. The vicars are bishops on a small scale, who can concentrate their attention almost exclusively on preaching, on the superintendence of the work and of the schools, and on the temporal and spiritual administration of the parish.

In Ireland, as we know, the clergy do not receive any grant from Government. To be strictly correct, we must, however, mention, that for some years the administration has subsidised the College of Maynooth; but its intervention has been entirely limited to this. We may, therefore, say, that for all requirements, as well as for the construction and maintenance of the buildings used for worship, the Church can only rely upon the offerings of the faithful. She never appears to have had cause to regret this position. Fifty or sixty years ago there were, we may almost say, no Catholic churches in Ireland, the oldest and most important had been confiscated by the Protestants; the others were in ruins; the religious services were celebrated in buildings that were, in reality, only barns barely fitted up. Now, there is scarcely, so to speak, a single parish which does not boast of a superb church. The one at Kenmare is a Gothic edifice of beautiful design. That at Castle Connell, which I saw the other day, is still more important; every one tells me that their dimensions and the beauty of their construction is[Pg 175] nothing unusual, that it is nearly the same everywhere. The Irish who have emigrated have contributed largely to this result. For several generations they all remain in correspondence with those branches of the family who have remained in the “ould country,” as the Canadians call it, and are warmly interested in all that takes place there; so that when a church is to be reconstructed in the midst of the cemetery, where their relations are lying, they display the most admirable generosity. The most remarkable thing about these offerings—I am now speaking of those provided by the residents—is not only their importance but their regularity. The vicars’ and priests’ stipends are supplied by two collections made every year. As a rule, they scarcely vary at all. The general distress has not perceptibly diminished them during the last few years, although they are high. A vicar usually receives 250l. to 400l.; a priest 120l. or 160l.; the fee for a mass is three shillings.

The moral purity of the Irish people is proverbial. I do not believe that any nation in the world can be compared to them in this respect. When inquiries are made on this subject, one hears facts that anywhere else would appear fabulous, but which, however, are confirmed by the official documents. There are many baronies containing a population of ten or twelve thousand souls, where for twenty years there has not been an illegitimate birth.

At Dublin, where there is a numerous garrison and a considerable floating population, the morality is naturally a little lax; but everywhere else, even in cities containing thirty thousand souls, like Limerick, we may almost say that prostitution does not exist.[Pg 176] Numbers have been quoted to me that, unfortunately, appear so extraordinary to a Frenchman, that I was anxious to confirm them by asking for information on the subject from men of the most divergent professions and opinions. I have consulted priests, Protestant ministers, landlords, police officials, regimental doctors—all tell me the same thing. Let us inquire at home and ask ourselves what a French population would be living in the same state of misery and crowding.

It is quite useless to point out the moral purity that characterises the clergy, when they are recruited from such a population. Even their most inveterate political enemies, those who would have the most interest in destroying their political influence, have never ventured to hint the least insinuation on this subject.

The devotion of the Irish clergy is not less remarkable than its morality. At a still recent date, the Irish Church suffered from a real persecution. At the beginning of this century, a great many priests sacrificed their lives for their faith, exactly like the Roman martyrs in the early days of Christianity. During the war against France, and particularly at the time when an invasion was dreaded, the English Government formed, in every county in the kingdom, regiments of irregular cavalry known as the yeomanry. The English yeomanry was a sort of national guard, who afforded much sport for the wit of the caricaturists of the day, but who have never harmed anybody. In Ireland things happened very differently. All Catholics were carefully eliminated from the yeomanry, and this was quite natural, since they openly avowed their sympathy with France. But in consequence of this exclusion, the yeomanry corps were only composed[Pg 177] of small landowners or small English Protestant farmers, who, exasperated by the real or supposed danger that they imagined they were in, surrounded by an excited population, became guilty of abominations which make the hair stand on end as one reads of them. Lord Cloncurry, in his Personal Recollections, p. 39, relates the following anecdote, which gives some idea of what took place at that time.

“It happened that the barony of Carbery, in the county of Kildare, was proclaimed under the Insurrection Act, and a camp established in it, which was occupied by the Fraser Fencibles. One evening the commanding officer, a Captain Fraser, returning to camp from Maynooth, where he had dined and drank freely, passed through a district belonging to my father, which was very peaceable and had not been included in the proclamation. As Captain Fraser rode through the village of Cloncurry attended by an orderly dragoon, just as the summer sun was setting, he saw an old man, named Christopher Dixon, upon the roadside, engaged in mending his cart. The Captain challenged him for being out after sunset in contravention of the terms of the proclamation. Dixon replied that he was not in a proclaimed district, and that he was engaged in his lawful business, preparing his cart to take a load to Dublin the following day. The Captain immediately made him prisoner, and placed him on horseback behind his orderly. The party proceeded about half a mile in this manner to a turnpike, where the officer got into a quarrel with the gatekeeper, and some delay took place, of which Dixon took advantage to beg of the turnpike man to explain that the district in which he was taken[Pg 178] was not proclaimed, and that, therefore, there was no just ground for his arrest. While the altercation was proceeding, the poor old man (he was about eighty years of age) slipped off from the dragoon’s horse and was proceeding homewards when the officer and soldier followed him, and having despatched him with sixteen dirk and sabre wounds, of which nine were declared to be mortal, they rode off to the camp. A coroner’s inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of wilful murder returned; whereupon Mr. Thomas Ryan, a magistrate and the immediate landlord of Dixon under my father, proceeded to the camp, with a warrant for the apprehension of Captain Fraser, who, however, was protected by his men, and Mr. Ryan was driven off. Mr. Ryan applied to my father, who sent me with him to Lord Carhampton, then commander-in-chief in Ireland. We were accompanied by Colonel (afterwards General Sir George) Cockburn; and Mr. Ryan having produced the warrant, and Colonel Cockburn having pointed out the provision of the Mutiny Act bearing upon the case, we formally demanded the body of Fraser, which his lordship refused to surrender. At the next assizes Captain Fraser marched into Athy, with a band playing before him, and gave himself up for trial. The facts were clearly proved; but the sitting judge, Mr. Toler[1] (afterwards Lord Norbury), instructed the jury that ‘Fraser was a gallant officer, who had only made a mistake; that if Dixon were as good a man as he was represented to be, it was well for him to be out of this wicked world; but if he were as bad as many others in the[Pg 179] neighbourhood (looking at me, who sat beside him on the bench), it was well for the country to be quit of him.’ The Captain and his orderly were acquitted accordingly.”

This is how simple peasants were treated. As to the priests, they were outlawed, and a price was put upon their heads. The yeomanry, therefore, pursued them with unparalleled energy. One of their most celebrated chiefs publicly said one day:

“There are two very amusing hunts—fox-hunting and priest-hunting. But to me the most amusing is priest-hunting.”

When they were taken they were put to death with a refined cruelty that would not have discredited Carrier, the butcher of Nantes; for it should be noticed that if we Catholics have the right to speak of such deeds in the terms they deserve, it is a right that French republicans cannot pretend to, although in their newspapers they willingly declaim on the oppression of Ireland. Carrier, a good republican, invented the republican marriages and the noyades de Nantes. Lord X—— (I prefer not mentioning his name—it is well known in Paris)—filled his victim’s hat with pitch; it was then pressed down on the head and afterwards torn off, bringing with it the skin and the hair. The Sioux scalp more humanely.

In some parts of Ireland this state of things lasted ten or twelve years. During all this time the priests lived like wild beasts, constantly wandering to evade the informers’ researches, living in the midst of the bogs, in absolute dens, from which they only crept out at night to carry religious consolation to the dying, only living on the alms of the miserable people, who had not[Pg 180] always a piece of bread for themselves. It required strongly-tempered characters to withstand such a life for a long time. But they found the necessary support in their faith, for not one of them failed. They might have emigrated, but would not, preferring to remain in the midst of their people to the end, and they found their own steadfastness and devotion responded to by a steadfastness and devotion not less worthy of admiration. They had neither bishop nor college. Still the empty places that time produced in the ranks of the clergy were filled up at once; there was never any lack of priests. Those young men who intended to enter the sacerdocy went and completed their studies on the Continent, and then returned after their ordination to fill the place and continue the labours of those who had disappeared.

The English often complain that the Irish Catholics display some passionate feeling in making their claims. But they should remember that not more than eighty years have passed since these events took place. It was proposed at Dublin the other day to introduce me to an old lady, nearly a centenarian, who saw Lord X——’s yeomen apply the pitch hat to a priest, her uncle, whom they arrested at the bedside of her dying mother.

This heroic age has passed. But for the last thirty or forty years unfortunate Ireland has passed through many tribulations. There have been epidemics, there have been famines, and under all circumstances the clergy have behaved admirably. When one sees an Irish priest amongst his parishioners, one is first struck with the community of ideas, impressions, and tastes that exists amongst them. With us, a young peasant who has become a priest is no longer a peasant. His[Pg 181] nature has been so well modified during the ten or twelve years that he has passed at college, that he has been made into a new being. Here a young vicar, a parish priest, son of a small farmer, differs wonderfully little from his former comrades. He is their superior in instruction, but he has retained all their tastes, all their ideas, and, I was about to add, some of their faults. I frequently see French curés, agriculturists’ sons, who can scarcely distinguish between a beetroot and a turnip; they have no further interest in agriculture. Here a great many of the parish priests have a small farm. The other day I saw a lease signed by one of them. This morning’s paper announces that at the Cahirmee Fair, which will soon take place, the first prize at the show will probably be awarded to a filly reared and entered by a priest, who has already been successful in this way.

There should evidently be a line drawn; but I own that these agricultural priests—although, strictly speaking, a little given to horse-jobbing—please me greatly. I know that few people will be of my opinion, but I believe that the priest should be as closely allied to his people as possible. If he is not, if he isolates himself, if he has no longer any interests or tastes in common with them, he soon becomes a stranger, and, however holy he may be, he loses all influence over them. Customs which shock us when we meet with them in a foreign land, are often useful, because they entail this closer intercourse. I remember once making the same reflection at Manilla. In that country there is a mania for cockfighting. One day, some years ago, I was walking with the abbé of the frigate. We saw a stout native curé gravely walking down the street before us, carrying a superb cock under his arm. In a few minutes he met[Pg 182] one of his parishioners, who was also fondly clasping one of these birds. They began to talk to each other. By their gestures we divined that they were comparing their cocks, and that each extolled the merits of his own animal. Then the arguments became warmer; the two owners placed themselves in position, and made their cocks fight. The abbé was exasperated at this want of dignity. Who was right? I really cannot tell.

In our day all the nations of Europe, one after the other, have passed through a crisis. This crisis is produced by the social transformation that results from the new economic conditions of life amongst the people. But there is no instance of the popular classes disturbing themselves first. In France the revolution, prepared by a portion of the nobility, was carried out by the tiers état. In Russia the sovereign power took the initiating step. In Italy and elsewhere it was the aristocracy first, the middle class next. Nearly everywhere these innovations render the clergy uneasy, and they stand aside even when they do not show themselves resolutely hostile to them. Besides, these changes have caused them to lose the greater part of their political influence.

In Ireland the situation is quite exceptional. Neither of the classes which have led the movement in other countries have been found prepared to occupy an analogous position in this one. For the last four or five hundred years there has not been any national aristocracy. The foreign aristocracy which has replaced it is detested, precisely because it is not national. Whilst the electors were few in number, and the votes were openly given, it was able to elect its own members; but since the ballot has become secret, it so fully realises that its political influence in the country is[Pg 183] ended, that in the majority of counties it does not even nominate candidates. We may say, strange as this assertion may appear, that in most of our French provinces, in spite of the hostility shown by the Government, a great landowner has infinitely more political influence in his district than an Irish landlord possesses in his own barony.

In a very poor country, where agriculture has never been remunerative, and where industry does not exist, no middle class has been able to form itself. What we call the bourgeoisie has absolutely no existence in the country districts; in the towns it is represented by a few merchants, who are absorbed in their business, with little education, exercising no influence, and not seeking for any. The clergy has therefore found itself alone in a position to direct the social and political movements. Yet, in the last few years, a class of politicians has become formed, composed of Irish-Americans and journalists, who have frequently displayed independent ideas. One proof of this was given at the time of the Fenian Conspiracy, to which the clergy opposed the most resolute hostility from the commencement, obeying the orders sent from Rome, and the principles of the Catholic Church, which condemns secret societies. The politicians were unsuccessful in the struggle, but it was so indecisive that the clergy thought it prudent to use their victory with extreme moderation, so that the two parties, having tested their strength, have always since that made reciprocal concessions, as we have seen from the time that the Land League was created.

Upon the whole, the politicians are gaining ground. This is quite certain, the best proof being in the fact that they have been able to impose the Land League[Pg 184] upon the clergy. But the latter are still unquestionably masters of the situation. In order to understand the political state of the country, it is therefore necessary to have, as far as possible, an exact idea of what the Irish clergy, so different from our own, are really like; and this is the reason why I have enlarged so much on this subject, because I wish to collect in this chapter not only the impressions that I received during my visit to Kenmare, but also those that I have gathered from the books I have consulted, and the conversations I have held during my whole sojourn in Ireland.

Now, to form a correct idea of a political body, it is necessary to know not only what its friends think of it, but also what its adversaries say of it. As I have already said, the legend of the vagabond, dissipated priest, so dear to French republicans, does not exist here. The attacks are directed to other points. The Irish clergy are first reproached with being very authoritative; and secondly, with an unreasonable love of money.

It is very difficult for a foreigner to decide how much importance should be attached to these accusations. However, I should not be astonished if there is a certain foundation of truth for them. I have already mentioned that the morality of the young Irish villagers is above all praise; but I am told that in the rare circumstance of a scandal occurring, the parish priest never hesitates to drive the offending sheep out of his flock, to use “striking” arguments, a line of conduct which, even to the present day, meets with complete approval from the population, but which, some day or other, may entail disastrous consequences.

These customs, which to us appear so strange, no[Pg 185] doubt have their origin in a very primitive society, very homogeneous, and whose manners were absolutely patriarchal. But it appears to me quite impossible that they can be maintained much longer, and it would perhaps be wiser if the Irish clergy were to take the initiative in a reform which ultimately will be enforced upon them.

The second accusation—that of too much love for money—also deserves some notice. But, first of all, it must be defined. Avarice is not a national defect in Ireland. When the clergy are accused of greed for money, it must not be understood that they amass it. No one has ever heard of priests becoming rich. The money which they receive they dispense liberally in alms.

Living, as they do, in the midst of a population whose misery is extreme, one can understand that they do perhaps seek a little unreasonably for the means of relieving the distress around them. The accusation is therefore rather in the form than in the substance, and to appreciate its value we must recollect that the English treat money matters with a roughness that often shocks us, but which they consider quite natural. I believe I have already made this remark in one of the preceding chapters à propos of the naval officers in this country, who receive veritable fees from the captains in the merchant service before they will allow them to make comparisons with their chronometers. We must therefore take into account, and this in a great measure, the habits which seem inherent in the race. This admitted, is it true that the Irish priests shear their parishioners a little too closely? Some anecdotes which are related on this subject, particularly[Pg 186] in England, but also a little in Ireland, seem to prove it. These stories have in all cases the merit of being each more droll than the other, and they tend to demonstrate that the clergy are more skilful than the Government in their manner of proceeding. Even whilst admitting that they pluck the fowls, they not only find means to prevent their crying out, which in itself is a great art, but even manage to please them: whilst the Government, which, far from plucking, rather allows itself to be plucked, only succeeds in exasperating them.

Twice a year in each parish the priest names a Sunday which is consecrated to the collection of the dues—that is, to the subscription which provides his stipend. It seems that nothing can be more amusing than the scenes which take place on those days. It must be admitted that the parishioners are generous, and the pastor absolutely disinterested; but, after all, human nature is weak, as every one knows, and it never quite loses its ascendency; each parishioner is divided between the desire to eclipse his neighbours and yet to give as little as possible. The pastor, on his side, is not sorry to speculate on these conflicting sentiments, and since both of them are Irish—that is to say, as witty as possible—the tempest that stirs beneath their skulls, as M. Victor Hugo would say, produces the oddest incidents possible.

I was recommended to read a book, which I found charming, and which I am assured is very true. It is called Pictures from Ireland. The author, Mr. Terence McGrath, is not favourable to the Land League. He has devoted one chapter of his book to a description of one of these collections of the dues. I borrow this passage from him:—

[Pg 187]

“After mass a table is brought and placed in front of the altar; Father Morrissy stands by its side, and as the chief men of the parish pass before him, he declares aloud the amount deposited by each on the plate:—

“‘Michael Egan—one pound.’

“‘Martin Fruen—one pound. Martin Fruen, with one hundred acres of land, one pound. Just twopence an acre!’

“‘William Slattery, ten acres—ten shillings.’

“‘Mary Finnegan, a widow with eight children and five acres of land—six shillings. Verily, I say unto you, that this poor widow has cast in more than all they that have cast into the plate.’

“‘John Sweeney’ (Fruen’s bitterest enemy) ‘seventy acres—three pounds. I am glad to feel that John Sweeney is more liberal than some of those who would have no hesitation in robbing the Holy Church of her dues, and leaving their priest in want.’

“An interruption from Martin Fruen, who returns to the altar steps and says, ‘I beg your pardon, Father Peter, but I forgot to say that I have an acre of meadow for your reverence.’

“‘Thank you, Martin, I thought you must have forgotten’”—and so on.

I will not swear that the scene is not highly coloured; but it is very effective, and above all very characteristic of Irish humour. However, I am more inclined to believe that there may be a foundation of truth in these reproaches, from a fact that I often remarked in America. In the far west the only Catholics are Irish or Canadian. The priests invariably belong to one of these two nationalities. Now, I often noticed that[Pg 188] whilst the Canadian priests are always much liked by their parishioners, by Canadians, as well as by Irish, the Irish priests, on the contrary, are constantly in difficulties with the Canadians, who accuse them of being too exacting. But, after all, this is of little consequence in Ireland, since the persons most interested, who are certainly the parishioners, declare they are quite satisfied with their clergy. Besides, the latter have already given so many proofs of their political talents, that we may be quite certain that they would know how to modify their requirements, should the necessity arise, and how to preserve intact the admirable spirit of union, and the community of aspirations, which bind them so closely to the population, and which gives them so much strength.

I happened to meet, to-day, with an opportunity of ascertaining the confidence which the clergy inspire and how much the Irish people are used to seeing in the person of their priests the natural interpreters of their claims.

The good town of Kenmare, although usually very quiet, is extremely excited at the present time. But any one would be the same, at least, for the inhabitants have just learned that they will probably be obliged this year to pay their taxes twice over, and, since they already find these taxes very heavy when they only pay them once, their state of exasperation can readily be imagined. The position is very curious, but, in order to make it fully understood, I must say a few words about the political and administrative state of Ireland. This organisation is infinitely less complicated than our own; but still that does not insure that it is better. The county and the barony correspond pretty nearly to our[Pg 189] department and district, but the arrondissement does not exist; and we may say that the administrative division is not carried further than the barony. The baronies include a certain number of parishes. But the parish has no definite existence. A large borough like Kenmare has neither a municipal nor a local budget. The great cities only are provided with a “corporation,” to use the correct word. In one of our departments the public funds are managed by three different assemblies: the general council, the councils of the arrondissement, and, lastly, the municipal councils. In Ireland these are all replaced by one single assembly, the grand jury, and this assembly is not even elective. The sheriff chooses the members from a list of important persons. The law only exacts that each barony should be represented.

However this curiously formed assembly possesses very extensive power. In fact, it fills in the county almost as many posts as Molière assigns to Maitre Jacques in Harpagon’s house. The grand jury discharges at the same time all the judicial or administrative functions. First, it serves the county law court, and decides whether the accused should be sent to the assizes; it taxes the county and orders the execution of public works. It also, with the sheriff’s assistance, nominates all the functionaries, for the only representatives of the state in each county are the lord-lieutenant, whose duties are purely honorary, the sheriff, the deputy-lieutenants, and the magistrates, which are divided into two classes, although they are all nominated by the Lord Chancellor. Some are simply landowners, invested with a commission as justices of the peace, who perform their duties[Pg 190] gratuitously: the others, stipendiary magistrates, are paid, and are obliged to reside on the spot.

Now that the reader is sufficiently enlightened upon the general principles that rule the administrative organisation of Green Erin, I will pass on to those particular events which have excited the inhabitants of the barony of Kilgawan. About eighteen months ago, the office of tax collector was vacant. In ordinary times there is no lack of candidates. This official has a right to a commission of 5 per cent. upon all the money he collects; so that if the taxes amount to 2,000l., this produces a sum of about 100l., which annually falls into the lucky official’s pocket, who, besides, usually adds these functions to the duties of some small business; but the post is much less in request lately, for the tax-payers have adopted the lamentable habit of responding to their summons by gun-shots. However, at last they found an amateur candidate. He was still a young man, alert, vigorous, and the best shot in the county, after Mr. Trench bien entendu. Besides, he could furnish the two securities exacted by the law. He therefore appeared to unite all the requisite qualifications; and he had not long to wait for his nomination.

He commenced his duties about a year ago, and for some time everything went well. The taxes were admirably paid in, considering the hardness of times, and every one agreed that in him the barony had found a model official. The surprise was therefore great when it was discovered some days ago that he had disappeared, as all cashiers do disappear, i.e. with their cash boxes. By a singular coincidence his securities, two tradesmen in the place, had suspended[Pg 191] their payments at a few days’ interval. For a short time after this event, public opinion hesitated. Some were delighted and praised the patriot, who, sooner than pay into the oppressor’s Government the funds that would be used to pay its hired assassins, had simply appropriated them for his own necessities; but the more politic shook their heads and pointed out that if part of the funds were destined for the Government, the rest was intended for local expenses, whilst they asked themselves how all the wheels of the barony could work during the coming year.

Helas! The patriotic misgivings of these sages were only too well founded. Mr. Trench has consulted a lawyer. The answer arrived this morning. It is terrible. The collector is an official of the barony, but the barony undertakes to collect the Government taxes through him, at the same time as its own. Thus, on the one hand, since the money had not been paid into the Government, the barony was still responsible; and, on the other, a number of necessary expenses had been incurred and they must meet their engagements. Now the 2,000l. received, only representing the exact amount of these two deficits, it became necessary to raise another two sums of 1,000l. each, i.e. the taxes must be paid again. The argument is as clear as water from the rock, but it is not pleasant.

Now the grand jury are to meet to-morrow at Tralee, and this is why it was resolved to convene an indignation meeting in order that Mr. Trench, when discharging his duties on the grand jury, might convey to his colleagues the expression of the but too well justified complaints of the unfortunate inhabitants of Kenmare.

[Pg 192]

Mr. C—— and I started a few minutes after breakfast for the Town Hall, where the meeting was to take place. The hall, which is generally used for musical evenings and charitable associations, is of good size. However, when we arrived it was already crowded, but when we were recognised, those present made room for us so pleasantly that we ended by reaching the platform, where Mr. Trench and Father O’S—— were conversing with great animation. The types present offered a most interesting study. The peasants and farmers were crowded together at the back of the hall: the benches nearest the platform being filled by the inhabitants of Kenmare, small merchants and workmen. I noticed one man near to me, already aged, thin, very brown skin, white, closely cropped hair, an eager, very expressive face, the head of a Spanish priest. Mr. C—— told me that he was a poor workman, who had been some years ago one of the most active and energetic Fenian agents in the country. He has only lately left prison. Opposite to me a small crowd is pressed round a short man leaning against the wall. He has a collar of thick white beard, which frames a pale face, ornamented with a red nose, to which he applies snuff in a dignified way in those rare moments when he is not speaking. Under his frock-coat he wears a long brown waistcoat, and he keeps his left hand in one of its pockets whilst he gesticulates with the right, talking all the time in a loud voice. He is a tailor. He speaks at every meeting, is one of the most active members of the Land League, and enjoys great influence. In the first ranks of his audience are a dozen worthy citizens with fat, sheepish faces, who appear to drink in his words, and who undertake to[Pg 193] repeat them, with their own comments, to the crowd that presses behind them endeavouring to catch his words. As I looked at first one and then the other, the liberated Fenian and the little tailor, I could not help thinking of the fable of “Bertrand et Raton.” I fancied that the little tailor would never go to prison, though he would probably be the means of others going there; sure to eat the chestnuts if others could find the means of taking them from the fire.

But the compressibility of the body has a limit. It soon became evident that the hall would not hold another person. Mr. Trench began to speak.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “before opening the proceedings, I think it would be advisable to elect a president.”

A great silence followed.

The little tailor longed to speak, for he rubbed his beard in a feverish way; but suddenly a voice was heard in the crowd—

“Suppose we nominate the French gentleman over there as president.”

Naturally, I made a forcible gesture of dissent. The hall echoed with a peal of laughter. The nervous tension relaxed a little. Mr. Trench seized upon the opportunity.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “it appears to me that we could not do better than invite the Venerable Archdeacon Father O’S—— to be kind enough to preside over us.”

Applause broke out from all sides. The arrangement had been so well provided for, that the Archdeacon was already seated near the presidential chair. He thanked the assembly in two words, seated himself comfortably,[Pg 194] and leant back folding his two hands in the air, and resting his elbows on the arms of the chair.

“Well, Mr. Trench,” said he, “we are listening to you!”

How well Mr. Trench knew with whom he had to deal! With the first words he managed to win the sympathy of his audience.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “you know that the grand jury is a body selected, not elected.”

“Hear, hear!” cried the little tailor, gesticulating like a devil in holy water. “It is not elected; it is another of those tyrannical institutions which crush poor Ireland.” (Prolonged murmurs.)

“I agree with you, that it is a great misfortune. I believe that it would be better, in every respect, if the representative of the barony could be chosen by you. But since that is impossible, I cannot do better than come and consult you, in order to learn your opinion of the serious business that now preoccupies us all, whilst promising to act according to your instructions.”

He then rehearsed the situation; but when he explained to them that in all probability the taxpayers would have to replace the 2,000l. carried off by the collector, the tumult became so formidable that the Archdeacon rose and began to speak.

This was, perhaps, scarcely correct for the president, but no one appeared to mind it. But then no one here seems to trouble himself particularly about the formalities that are so cherished at Bridoison. Father O’S—— stood upright, his two hands plunged into the pockets of his cassock, his hat still upon his head. Our unfortunate French priests are so accustomed to see their most elementary rights of citizenship contested,[Pg 195] that, once outside their church, they always look embarrassed and awkward. They never speak without a thousand hesitations, carefully weighing every word. They conceal their thoughts as much as possible; insinuations are the utmost they ever venture upon. What a contrast from the attitude of this priest; what authority he evidently derives from the conviction that he speaks in the name of the whole people. He does not spare his words.

“Mr. Trench,” said he, “every one present renders justice to the feeling which prompted the step that you have just taken. We all thank you for it. You have described the situation very well. We are ruled by an assembly, the members of which are chosen by those who are masters of Ireland, but who are not elected by us. This assembly settles our taxes as it likes; appoints the agents charged with the collection of these taxes, and because the agent that it sent to us without consulting us on the subject, but armed with all its authority, is a thief, we are now told that our receipts are of no value; that the unfortunate inhabitants of this poverty-stricken barony will be forced to pay a second time. It is a disgraceful thing! We Irish are accustomed to submit to many shameful things, but I declare I never heard anything quoted that is more shameful than this!”

But here he was forced to pause. Whilst he was speaking one could hear the exclamations of the audience gradually increasing. At his last words the noise suddenly became indescribable. The Fenian near me could not control himself. He roared.

The little tailor was so excited that he gesticulated like a madman. At the back of the hall the farmers[Pg 196] tapped with their shillalahs on the floor, from which issued clouds of dust.

The priest had only to raise his hand in the air; all stopped as by enchantment. He resumed, with the same calm manner:—

“Well, Mr. Trench, to-morrow the grand jury, of which you are a member, is to assemble. You propose to act as our interpreter to your colleagues. For the second time we thank you for this proposition, and we know that you will carry out your promise to us. Tell the grand jury——”

“Wait!” said Mr. Trench. “I will write down your resolutions.”

“Certainly! Tell the grand jury that the inhabitants of this barony protest with all their power against the odious injustice, which they think of imposing upon us, and which, by every legal means——”

“Not at all! I protest! I object to the word legal being used! I demand that we should put, by every means!”——

It was the little tailor shouting at the top of his voice. And then as every one looked at him, he proudly drew himself up and majestically applied a great pinch of snuff to his nose.

His interruption made a great sensation. The shillalahs recommenced to move at the back of the hall. The Fenian at my side uttered from the depths of his chest, a hurrah, which made me jump into the air; his eyes started from his head. Evidently, at this moment, he would give his chance of Paradise to be able to shoot an English policeman; the citizens who surrounded the tailor seemed slightly[Pg 197] embarrassed; they evidently considered that things were going too far. Only the Archdeacon retained his imperturbable air.

“Let us see, Mr. X——, you apparently advise us to take guns and blunderbusses and to attack the police?” said he.

The little tailor only answered by a gesture of the arms and head, which said clearly: “If everybody were like me, things would not end like that,” but which at the same time, had the great advantage of giving no handle for pursuit, if things turned out badly. But Father O’S—— soon re-established quiet; the resolution that he proposed was applauded and the meeting soon broke up without further incident.

I have, perhaps, dwelt too long upon the details of this meeting; but they appear to me very curious in many respects. In thinking over what I have seen and heard, I find food for much reflection.

It is the fashion in France to complain bitterly of centralisation, and of the great administration which results from it. M. de Tocqueville, in particular, expatiates everywhere on the beauties of the English system, which completely differs from our own. Amongst us, the Government appoints the officials charged with the collection of the taxes, and lends them to the Communes, or the Department, for the collection of the local rates. Here, on the contrary, the collectors are the agents of the local authorities and are lent to the Government by them. I acknowledge that this system has the advantage of leaving to the local power the greater part of the authority, which they have taken from the state; but this satisfaction appears to me a little platonic. Under[Pg 198] the French system if my collector absconds with the cash box, admitting even, though this is almost impossible, that his security were insufficient to meet the deficit, this deficit being divided between thirty-eight millions of taxpayers, I should suffer in an infinitesimal proportion from this theft; whilst, under the same circumstances, the poor people of Kenmare are forced to pay twice over, and they must pay, because in consequence of the decentralisation, they cannot employ a state official amongst them, and, therefore, as their agent is completely independent of the collective populace, there is no reason why the neighbours should suffer through his theft.

There is a school of men that is always lost in admiration of all foreign institutions, and that has the greatest contempt for all that passes at home. Is this a right sentiment? We know our own institutions through experience, but others only in theory. It therefore happens that, whilst we see quite easily the defective side of our own, we are I believe much too inclined to exaggerate the merits of neighbours. The English inhabit an old house. The arrangements, which were excellent in former times, are now frequently found very inconvenient. They make a few reforms, but those are done with the utmost prudence, because when workmen are placed in an old building there is always danger of the walls giving way. They know that if they decide to pull down the old house and build a new one they must spend a good deal, and also sleep outside for some time. In order to avoid this inconvenience, they prefer remaining where they are, as long as it will hold together. I think their argument is just, but they are not as well lodged as they might be.

[Pg 199]

We are not in the same position; our old house has fallen, we have had all the annoyance and expense of a removal: we had to sleep outside for a long time. Now, the great work of the new one is finished, the roof is in its place; the ensign is still missing and also many small interior fittings, but still, such as it is, we can certainly say, that the service is better done there than in most other establishments.

But to continue the comparison, it is but too evident that great reforms are needed in this country. For instance, this institution of a grand jury, almost omnipotent and absolutely irresponsible, is made to exasperate the people. It is not even a feudal institution, for the feudal law provided that “none could be judged save by his peers.” It is the application, pure and simple, of the rights of conquest. If the Land Leaguers confined themselves to demanding the abolition of such abuses, they would be so manifestly right that every reasonable man would sympathise with them, and the English would be forced to yield at once. Instead of doing this, they claim a number of things that cannot possibly be granted, which would manifestly be either useless or injurious to them if they obtained them, and no one really can tell whether they would reform existing abuses or whether they would not rather content themselves with using them against their political adversaries. Thus the other day the Lord Mayor of Dublin told me that Ireland suffered from too much centralisation. If such cases as that which formed the subject of the meeting at which I was present are of frequent occurrence, it seems to me that it is rather an excess of decentralisation from which she is suffering.

[Pg 200]

And besides, was it necessary to complicate by a political crisis, the agricultural and economic crisis, which is already so hard to bear in this country? And this political crisis, a little goodwill on all sides would suffice to check, at least in a great measure. I only require the facts that I see here as a proof of what I say. In every country in the world, where such an accident happened, the population would be much excited by it. Every one would feel it. Such an incident is a God-send for an opposition politician. It would not require many like the little tailor, or the old Fenian, to put a light to the powder. Luckily, the two conflicting parties are each headed by thoroughly honest men, benevolent and moderate. Mr. Trench came and said: “I agree with you, the grand jury is not what it ought to be; it is true that you are not represented in it. I cannot change the existing laws, but since I form part of the grand jury, allow me to act as though I were really your representative.” Father O’S—— took him at his word, and that sufficed to make the meeting pass off quietly. I therefore cannot help thinking that if really willing men were more common, peace would be less disturbed, and this is why I believe that the clergy have rendered a great service to Ireland by placing themselves at the head of the Land League. A few of its members are certainly hot-headed men, who do not use their influence in the right way; but a great many others act like Father O’S——; and, whilst tolerating what they cannot help, they act as mediators, and very efficacious mediators, in a movement which, if they were not there, would in each village be led by men like the little tailor.

This evening, Mr. Trench invited me to dine with the[Pg 201] inspector of police for the district of Kilgawan. This young man, who discharges all the duties of a lieutenant of gendarmerie amongst us, has about thirty constables (Irish constabulary force) under his orders. This corps seems copied from the French gendarmerie. They are superb men, admirably disciplined, who render the greatest services. They are, however, abominated by the populace, although they are all Irish officers and men. But, at the same time, this does not prevent there being ten candidates for one vacancy. One of the reasons for this is that the pay is exceedingly high. This young man, who is dining with us, gets about 240l. per annum; more than a major receives in France. He is twenty-six years old. A simple constable has from 80l. to 100l.; there are 12,000 of them; 7,000 Catholics, and 5,000 Protestants. The maintenance of this corps is a heavy item in Irish finance.

A Government should always give its servants a rate of pay which is in accordance with the scale of salaries in the country. If it fixes too low a sum, it can only obtain very inferior men; if it pays them too much, there are ten candidates for one vacancy, and, since it can only give one appointment, it creates nine irreconcilable enemies in the persons of those it was forced to disappoint. The English Government, however, like every other, is influenced by this principle; only its pay is regulated by the scale of English salaries, and these salaries are very high. It can scarcely have a special scale for Ireland. An English constable who gains four or five shillings a day is not too well paid, because his brother or his father, who are workmen, earn about the same amount. But[Pg 202] because an English constable receives five shillings, it is necessary to give five shillings to an Irish constable, although he is living in a country where the workmen never earn more than one shilling per day. Now, since it is precisely upon these Irish workpeople, who earn so little, that the taxes producing the soldiers’ high pay weigh so heavily, they feel exasperated. The same events take place under all administrations. This is another of the Land League grievances, and one of its best arguments in favour of Home Rule, for they point out that if Ireland were completely separated from England, the pay could be reduced in proportion to the general distress, and this can never be done whilst the union lasts.

The inspector of police spoke to me about the state of the country, with which he is naturally better acquainted than any one else. The neighbourhood of Kenmare is relatively quiet. However, he knows that the tribunal of the Land League works regularly, and meets every Sunday: everybody obeys its decisions.

To-day, a constable seized eight or ten summonses issued in the name of this tribunal. This is an exact reproduction of one of them:—

June 24, 1886. 


Dear Sir,

Your presence is requested in the league 2 p.m. On the 27th inst. On behalf of the committee,

John Godfrey, Sec.

He believes that he shall be forced to give James O’Leary two men as a protection, who will not leave him day or night. There are already several persons[Pg 203] in the county in the same position. And it is only because the expense is so very heavy, nearly 200l. a year, that there are not more. However, the Government defrays this expense by levying a special tax from all the inhabitants of the district.

But, I repeat that the situation of this part of the county is exceptionally good. There is another barony in the neighbourhood where the situation is far worse. This property belongs to the Honourable Roland Wynne. Already two of his agents have been killed, and he is now vainly endeavouring to find a third. The last tax-collector having had a ball pass through his leg whilst discharging his duty, hastened to send in his resignation, and it is impossible to replace him.

This estate has not paid one penny either to the landlord or to the state for the last three years. In fact, then, the farmers have become the owners.[2] In all that concerns them, the programme of the Land League has been fully carried out, and it has been realised in the most economical fashion, since, to obtain this result, the people have only had to spend the sum necessary for the acquisition of a gun and three charges of powder. I may add that the inhabitants of this lucky barony can only lose by a change of government, since, however economical the new one may be, it will always be necessary to pay some taxes, whilst now they do not pay anything to anybody. It is therefore a golden age which reigns for the time in this corner of Ireland. I[Pg 204] ask whether the fate of this population seems capable of amelioration?

I am answered that, the land being very bad, the distress is terrible; the people are literally dying of hunger, and that emigration is the sole resource of the population! But then, in that case, the crisis has not arisen from the land laws, and they cannot cure it by making the peasants landowners. I had always doubted it, but I am well pleased to have my opinion so convincingly proved.


[1] Mr. Toler was at the time (as well as my memory serves me) Solicitor-General, but sitting as Judge of Assize.

[2] Since my visit to Ireland, this estate has been seized by creditors, who have driven out all the farmers. The most lamentable scenes took place, and have been much discussed in the newspapers.

[Pg 205]



July 9th.—To-day the grand jury opens at Tralee, the capital of county Kerry. In his double office of magistrate and grand juryman, my host, Mr. Trench, is obliged to attend this ceremony. Besides, this year his presence is doubly necessary, because he must plead the cause of the taxpayers in the barony,[3] according to the promise given yesterday. He kindly suggested that I should accompany him, an offer which I hastened to accept, for I am very curious to see how this strange institution works.

In consequence of these arrangements, the faithful Dick brought his carriage to the door about eight o’clock this morning, just as we finished breakfast.[Pg 206] Experienced travellers assert that if one would have a correct idea of a country, one should see it at the season which most characterises it. Thus one should see Russia in the month of January, when it is covered with snow, and Naples in the month of August. A cold country is only curious when it is cold; a moujik sweating violently being as little interesting as a lazzarone shivering in a corner by the fire.

This being so, one must arrange to see Ireland under heavy rain, for it is only necessary to consult the meteorological charts to be convinced that more rain falls in Green Erin than in any other country in Europe. But this is not my fate, at least not at present. It appears that I have unusual luck. Since I have been in Kerry, particularly, the weather has been splendid. This morning a brilliant sunshine illumined the lawns and old oaks of Lansdowne Lodge, when I turned round to give them a last glance, as the carriage passed through the gate. During breakfast, Mr. Trench and I had commenced a serious theological discussion. It had no visible result, as far as our conversion is concerned, for we still remain, he a Plymouth brother, and I an Apostolic Roman Catholic; but it continued with increasing animation during the whole journey from Kenmare to Killarney, and by this time we had reached such transcendental heights, we had “talked and retalked” with so much animation, that, absorbed in seeking my arguments, I had allowed myself to forget my duties as a conscientious tourist, and had scarcely paid any attention to the country we were passing through. I am, however, almost sure that the road we followed was the same as that we had arrived by the day before yesterday. I can therefore[Pg 207] affirm, with a quiet conscience, that Derrygariff is always in the same place, that we have again followed the valley of Coom-a-Dhuv; that we skirted the lakes of Cummeen and Thommeen and I distinctly recollect that some one called me to admire the cascade of Derrycunihy, explaining to me that the mountain from which it issues is no other than majestic Garranthuohill! (I am anxious to give the exact facts, for à propos of my first articles an influential critic reproached me in his paper the other day because I did not give sufficient details.)

We found great animation reigning at the Killarney railway station when we arrived there. Mr. Trench met there, first of all, a number of his colleagues, who, like himself, were going to Tralee, and who, as a rule, profited by the opportunity to take their families for a little excursion. Whilst he was speaking to them I went to a corner of the station from whence nasal exclamations had reached me, riveting my attention. They proceeded from a group of American tourists of both sexes, who were contemplating with much interest a fat Irishman, dressed like a farmer, who passed to and fro, attended on each side by an enormous constable, as stiff as though he were made of wood, his little black jacket fitting his figure without a wrinkle, his policeman’s cap inclined 45° over one ear, his stock mounting to his teeth, a small staff in his hand, and a revolver at his side.

This unusual spectacle interested me greatly. Could this stout man be a victim of perfidious Albion, who was about to expiate his patriotism by rotting on the mouldering straw of a dungeon? Is he a common criminal? These two hypotheses are manifestly [Pg 208]inadmissible. The stout man has not the air of a prisoner; far from wearing handcuffs, he grasps an enormous shillalah, and his two guards, instead of leading him, appear to regulate their movements by his: in any case they allow him to communicate freely with the Americans, who all, one after the other, advance and ask him to inscribe his name in their albums. Trench is too far off to explain this enigma. Luckily, I noticed close to me a native, well dressed and benevolent-looking, whom the stout man had greeted as he passed. I spoke to him, for he looked very polite—but that all Irishmen are, at least as long as they remain in Ireland. From the time they arrive in America, they too often become as rough as barley bread. “Certainly, sir,” replied the obliging native, “I can tell you. I know that man very well. His name is Denis McGrath, and he lives near to me. He is bailiff to one of my neighbours.”

“Well, sir, what has happened to him? Why is he followed by those two constables? Is he a prisoner?”

“Oh, no! Quite the contrary. For the last two years he has been protected by the police.”

“But why do the police protect him?”

“Ah! That is because he was mixed up in an eviction case that ended badly. The Land Leaguers in our barony have condemned him to death. He has been shot at already three times during the night through his window. He was not hurt; the balls went into his mattress. But since he has every reason to believe they intend trying again, the police have given him two men to protect him. The parish defrays the expenses.”

“Sir, you interest me greatly! Do these constables live with him?”

[Pg 209]

“Certainly. Since they never leave him, day or night!”

“That must be a great inconvenience in a small household.”

“Ah! you see the administration does all in its power to render the existence of those whom it protects as agreeable as possible. Before choosing the men for this office, the officials first make thorough inquiries respecting the people with whom they have to deal; and they try to send them constables whose similarity of tastes can make their society pleasant to them. Thus, for instance, they are careful not to send a Protestant constable to a Catholic household. McGrath certainly has nothing to complain of. He has five daughters, all freckled, and very plain. He would assuredly have had a great deal of trouble in marrying them. They sent him two bachelor constables, both very fine men. You see them there. Naturally, living amongst the five daughters, they inevitably commenced a courtship. They have married two of them!”

“Then are they now all living together?”

“Yes; but things no longer go smoothly.”

“Ah, the deuce! What has happened then?”

“Listen. The three younger daughters are very anxious to marry too. That’s very natural. They therefore try to persuade their father to complain of their brothers-in-law, in order that they may be replaced by two other unmarried constables. Only the two married sisters will not hear of such a proceeding, because, they say, that it would cause bad marks to be placed against their husbands, which would hinder their promotion; and, besides, they might also be sent to protect other families where they could not follow them. There are, therefore, such terrible scenes in the house that[Pg 210] McGrath passes his life outside. He has become a real support to the public-house: only, since his sons-in-law follow him everywhere, their wives are furious because they fear their husbands will contract bad habits. They blame their father, who finds himself between the anvil and the hammer. Ah! he hasn’t a pleasant life of it. So now he is going to Tralee I shall not be surprised to find that he has decided to yield to the three younger ones. He is probably going to ask for two new constables!”

Not far from here, at Blarney, near Cork, there stands a strong old castle, dating from the fifteenth century. It was built by Cormac M’Carthy, a celebrated personage in the history of the county. Very important ruins still remain of it. Above the principal dungeon is seen a carved stone, to which a very ancient legend attributes magic power.[4] Every one who kisses it devoutly immediately receives the gift of a special eloquence known by the name of blarney, which ensures for them the most varied successes.[Pg 211] Only this advantage is counterbalanced by one defect—they all become horribly untruthful. Unfortunately this pilgrimage is extremely run after. During the summer the railway companies organise special trains that bring excursionists from every corner of Ireland.

The amiable native who so kindly enlightened me upon the incidents of the domestic drama now being enacted by the McGrath family, can he be one of those called in this country Blarney pilgrims—the same thing that at home we call vulgar fumiste? Even whilst I effusively thank him for his extreme kindness, I ask myself this question. Another idea has also crossed my mind. I distinctly saw in the station the manager of the Killarney hotel, who only yesterday I advised to organise some evictions as an attraction for tourists. He seemed to appreciate the notion; and now he is explaining McGrath’s case to the Americans. This interesting bailiff, his five daughters and two sons-in-law, can they be only supernumeraries? After all, this is quite possible.

But these reflections were rudely interrupted. The train was starting, and I was forced to run in order to catch Mr. Trench in his compartment. He introduced me to one of his colleagues, who, with his son and daughter, were, like ourselves, going to Tralee. À propos, some people have a fancy for knowing the exact pronunciation of foreign words; here are a few directions for their use:—

If you wish to pronounce Tralee in the Irish fashion, you must first commence by uttering a hoarse sound drawn from the bottom of your throat, the lower the better. Gradually swell this sound, imitating a dog growling before he bites. In[Pg 212] this way you will modulate something that can be written thus: Trrreull! And then, when your breath is nearly gone, suddenly jerk out the last syllable lee, which you must of course pronounce ly. It is fairly difficult, but if you practise it for a little while, scrupulously following my instructions, I am convinced that you will attain such a pure pronunciation that you will astonish every inhabitant of Kerry who hears you. But, I repeat, I only mention this for those who think they must pronounce foreign words in foreign fashion. Personally, I am not of their opinion, and an illustrious Academician who honours me with his friendship, assures me that I am right; and this is the reason why, in Paris, I always say “Rue Va-sin-je-ton,” and not “Rue Washington.”

Having said this in the interest of the ultra-refined in linguistic details, I resume my narrative.

The grand juryman with whom we are travelling is a descendant of O’Connell the great agitator, as he is called. I rather suspect him of privately thinking that his illustrious ancestor succeeded in agitating Ireland only too well; for, from what he and his son tell me of the state of the country, it is certain that no one has any reason to complain of excessive tranquillity. We happened to pass through their properties. The father was installed by one door, the son by the other. Every moment these gentlemen very pleasantly directed my attention towards the ruins of some house that had been destroyed by dynamite, the remnants of a haystack that had been burnt, a meadow where all the cows’ tails had been cut off, or a tree beneath which a bailiff had been found with a ball through his head. As landlords, and boycotted landlords, they assuredly cannot approve[Pg 213] of these acts; but, as Irishmen, they enumerate all these facts with a certain complacency. National pride is always worthy of our respect. I remember an American who described to me the collision between two trains; he spoke of carriages precipitated into the Mississippi, of two or three hundred persons drowned, and then he ended by saying, with a patronising air: “Nothing equal in Europe, I guess, stranger!”

We reached Tralee about one o’clock. I was first taken to a club, where we found most of the grand jurymen preparing for the discharge of their duties by taking an excellent luncheon. Even whilst following their example I was introduced to five or six of these gentlemen, who, like Mr. Trench, are “agents.”

The information which they gave me confirms all that I have already heard about the state of this county. The rents continue to diminish. One of them quotes figures to me. The income of the property which he superintends amounted to more than 8,000l.; its remittances equalled 4,000l., taking good and bad years together. This year it will not receive more than 600l. Besides this, the people recently placed a charge of dynamite under his windows. The explosion was so violent that the whole front fell down. Sixteen persons were in the house; no one was hurt, but it was a miraculous escape. I asked him if, on his soul and conscience, he really believed that the heads of the Land League are responsible for deeds of this kind. He replied that he was absolutely sure of it, and that if the country were not terrorised he could arrest the perpetrators; if he has not done so, it is simply because he knows that no witness dare appear against them. He is giving up the struggle. He intends retiring from[Pg 214] business at the end of the year, and his son intends using the family capital in starting a ranche in Colorado.

The Land Leaguers are very indignant when any one predicts that their success will be the signal for the general emigration of capital. Yet here is an instance which seems to prove that this prediction has some foundation. And frankly, is it possible to blame those who adopt this course? I own that I am only astonished at one thing, and that is that it does not happen more often. Leading such an existence as this is not life.

In order to realise the point which affairs have reached in Kerry, it is enough to read the speech pronounced by Baron Dowse, President of the Assizes, at the opening of the session.

“Scarcely four months,” said he, “have elapsed since the last session, and now I am again summoned to preside over you. After a careful examination of the situation in County Kerry, in respect to the criminal law, I am forced to tell you that it is worse than ever. In four months 119 criminal cases have been inscribed on the list, and their details are very significant:—

Murders 2
Despatch of letters threatening murder 19
Attempts at murder with fire-arms 9
Manslaughter 1
Outrage 1
Blows and wounds 11
Assaults upon agents 1
Armed attack upon houses 1
[Pg 215]Robbery 20
Arson 19
Killing or mutilating domestic animals     12
Thefts of arms or extortion of money 26
Shots fired into inhabited houses 10
 Etc., etc.

“You see, gentlemen, that nearly all these crimes are of the same character; they are agrarian. In counting up all the events coming under the same category that have taken place in this county during one year, we find a total of more than 500. Whatever political or religious opinions one may hold, it is impossible not to consider the situation lamentable. In former times the moral state of this county was very different. Criminal cases were rather less here than elsewhere. Now there is not a single county in Ireland that can be compared to it. County Clare has certainly a very bad reputation, but yet it has not fallen so low as this.”

When I read these edifying figures, I sincerely congratulated myself upon not being a landowner in County Kerry, and I thought that if I had the ill luck to possess any land there I should have real pleasure in selling it, as soon as possible, for any price it would fetch, and in getting away. I can quite sympathise with landowners who never go near their estates, and I cannot see how the Nationalists can reproach them. Still, possibly whilst creating this state of affairs, the latter may have some mental reservations. No doubt they think that by rendering life intolerable to the landowners, they will depreciate the price of land so much that they will be able to share it gratuitously[Pg 216] amongst themselves. Perhaps they will attain this result. But as I have already said several times, what advantage will they find in that? At the commencement of the Revolution the French peasants made the same calculation; they pillaged the castles, massacred the owners when they could, and divided the estates of those who had succeeded in emigrating, to punish them for getting away. The operation has been fairly profitable for many of them. That is because at that time, and particularly a little later, the land, through the difficulty of transport, had a real value. But now the situation is quite altered; in every country in the world the land tends to have only the value which the capital employed in its cultivation may give it. What is the use of pasturage, if, on one hand, there are no more farmers, and if, on the other, one has not money enough to buy the cattle necessary to place on it before a profit can be obtained? Therefore, in our days, the emigration of capital from a country is an irremediable disaster. Now they can scarcely have any idea of making the landowners emigrate, yet of retaining their capital. I humbly venture to suggest a few of these reflections to my friends in the Land League. I think they would be wise to ponder over them in their own interest, for if they realise their programme, it may happen that as soon as the population see the results of the campaign they have led them through, a reaction may be produced, and they would be its first victims.

In another part of his speech Baron Dowse again laid stress upon the fact that a few years ago County Kerry, now so disturbed, was quoted throughout Ireland as the model county. It appears that this is absolutely true. In this little Arcadia even politics[Pg 217] never caused any divisions. The inhabitants had discovered an excellent method of avoiding all those quarrels which they usually engender. Still there were two parties; but since the county returned precisely two members, it had been agreed, from time immemorial, that each side should have its own representative. It was always a member of the family of Herbert of Muckross, who stood for the Liberals, whilst the eldest son of the Kenmares undertook in Parliament the defence of the Conservatives. When one died, his son replaced him, and everything went smoothly in this most quiet county.

In 1871 an unforeseen circumstance put an end to this peaceful arrangement. The old Lord Kenmare died in that year. His son, Lord Castlerosse, heir to the peerage, sent in his resignation as member. Now it happened that his son was not old enough to succeed him. It was arranged that until he attained his majority the seat should be occupied by his cousin, Mr. Dease. Conservatives and Liberals assisted to secure this combination. But the opportunity seemed favourable to the Nationalists, who, precisely at the same time were commencing to draw public attention towards themselves; they decided that the party should open a struggle in Kerry. Naturally, the excitement was very great; the partisans of each candidate were soon in position. A very curious event took place, which makes the want of discipline, the weak point in the religious organisation of Ireland, very conspicuous. Mr. Dease was a great landowner in the county, a resident, highly respected and Catholic. It appeared therefore as though his candidature would be approved by all the clergy, and this seemed still[Pg 218] more probable because Mgr. Moriarty, the bishop, had accepted the presidency of his committee.

It all went for nothing. The diocesan priests in a body openly and passionately exerted all their influence in favour of the opposing candidate, Mr. Blennerhassett, quite a young man and a Protestant! And this was only because he was the candidate for the popular party. The reason was that, in Ireland, a priest dare not get embroiled with his parishioners. This situation is often his greatest strength, but it sometimes involves him in very delicate relations with others. I believe it was M. Ledru-Rollin who one day made this striking remark: “I am forced to obey them, since I am their chief!” More than one Irish priest could say the same thing.

It was a grand electoral campaign. Political veterans still speak feelingly about it. At that time the votes were given openly. The landowners brought their tenants to the poll under safe escort and never lost sight of them until their votes had been registered. Besides, each party had recourse to heroic measures. The Isle of Valencia, which is entirely owned by the Knight of Kerry, had no polling office. Its electors, who were fairly numerous, were believed to be thoroughly devoted to their landlord, who had energetically declared himself in favour of Mr. Dease. He chartered a steamboat to take them over to the mainland to Cahirciveen, where they ought to vote. The Nationalists managed during the night to stove in the bottom of the steamer and to hire every fishing boat in the neighbourhood for the day, so that not one of the Knight of Kerry’s men was able to vote. Elsewhere, when they came in contact with timid[Pg 219] folks, who, although partisans of Blennerhassett, dared not run full tilt at their landlord, the Nationalists made them vote not for Mr. Dease but for Lord Kenmare, so that their votes were lost; afterwards they assumed a dismayed expression and excused themselves to their furious landlord by saying that they thought they were voting for the candidate he patronised.

Is it necessary to add that Blennerhassett was elected by a large majority? Alas! the world becomes sadder. Every time one meets with a really lively institution, one feels sure that it will speedily be abolished! Open voting has submitted to the universal law. The Blennerhassett election was the last of its kind that took place in Kerry. Some months afterwards, in 1872, the new electoral law was passed. Since that time the Irish elections are, like all others in the world, horribly dull.

It is needless to add that now the county only returns Nationalists to Parliament. Tralee, the capital, which is a small town containing 10,000 inhabitants, claims to be a sea-port because they have made a canal two miles long between it and the coast, and this enables a few coasting boats to anchor in a miniature dock situated near the town. They probably come in search of pigs, for I have met almost as many of them in the streets as at Limerick. But I do not think they bring women’s shoes, for I do not remember seeing a single one walking except with bare feet.

But the streets are full of animation when we leave the club. The market has just ended. Buyers and sellers are preparing to return home. Before the smaller inns men commence harnessing grey donkeys to little[Pg 220] two-wheeled carts which stand in rows two deep, the shafts in the air. Five or six women squeeze into each of them, their backs leaning against the sides of the cart, the chin between the knees, or even lying flat one against the other lengthways, their muddy feet and bare legs hanging outside. The husband or brother seats himself at the side on one of the shafts, and when they have wished the neighbours good-bye, they slowly start on their way home to the small thatched house standing on the edge of some bog, which they will only leave once more during a whole week, when they go to mass on Sunday next.

In front of the houses on the market-place there is an interminable line of old women; each has in front of her on the edge of the pavement a small heap of nuts, potatoes, or turnips. The purchasers do not seem numerous, but the poor old women do not appear uneasy about it. They evidently return there every market day, less to sell anything than to see the people, to meet each other, to gossip together about the good old times, when potatoes were more plentiful, the sun hotter, the girls prettier, and the “boys” more gallant than they are now! There they are, seated in the mud, their bare legs twisted on one side to leave room for passers by, their heads wrapped in old shawls, a few grey locks peeping through the holes in them, the majority smoking short black pipes. Myriads of children, charming, but very dirty, roll in the gutter around them. Poor old women! In their dull, sad lives these market days stand out like nails placed at intervals in a wall, on which their recollections are hung. I remember at Tamatave seeing the old Malagachy women arrive from all sides, almost naked, their ribs projecting under their[Pg 221] sickly skin, emaciated, hideous, yet having walked twelve or fifteen miles to sell two eggs and a cabbage palm—in reality to gossip with their neighbours. Human nature is the same everywhere.

But I have not time now to continue my observations. As soon as the grand jury had finished luncheon they started to go to the town-hall, and since these gentlemen had kindly invited me to be present at their work, I hastened to accompany them.

It is evident that the principles on which the composition of the grand jury rest are no longer tenable. I have already said so, and I repeat it. They are contrary to every idea of right, since the taxes are voted by these men, who are, but very indirectly, the representatives of those who ought to pay them, and who at all events are not elected by them. The best medicine in the world usually works only harm if the patient takes it against his will. A peasant may be obliged to pass over the bridge in front of his house every day, but if he is asked for a shilling to keep it in repair, and if the man who imposes the shilling is the great landowner next to him, he will always remain convinced that it is only the great landowner who will profit by the shilling he has made him pay. Formerly, when the different classes agreed, it was not the same thing; but now that war is declared, it is manifestly impossible that an Irish peasant will be anything but exasperated by the thought that it is only his political enemies who have any voice on the subject, and who administer the affairs of his barony or county. This institution of the grand jury must then disappear: it is fatal. So much for the question of principle. But, this once admitted, we may ask ourselves whether, practically, matters would be[Pg 222] improved if the people had as magistrates and grand jury men such men as the little tailor of Kenmare. It seems very doubtful to me.

I made these reflections this morning whilst watching the assembly of the grand jury. After its members had taken the oath, they honoured me by admitting me into the council hall, and giving me a chair behind the president’s, Colonel Crosbie’s, seat. He was placed in the middle of a table, shaped like a horseshoe, around which all his colleagues were seated. When I entered they were occupied with the public works. A secretary standing behind the president read aloud the contractors’ tenders—tenders which, I believe, had already been examined by a sub-committee. From time to time a member asked for a few words of explanation from the county engineer or from the contractors, who stood apart at the end of the hall. No one made any speeches. No one wished to raise an election cry by asking for impossibilities, as occasionally happens amongst us. One felt that there were only competent well-bred men present. It must be owned that that is a good deal.

Both Protestants and Catholics are here—I am even told that for some years the sheriff has always taken care to introduce a certain number of Nationalists—opinions are therefore much divided. However, politics do not appear in any way. These gentlemen only seem to occupy themselves with the affairs of the county. What a lesson for us! At this moment, in Paris, one cannot be a Republican and yet believe in the efficacy of Pasteur’s method; in revenge one cannot be a Conservative and doubt it! These Irishmen would seem very far behind the Parisian municipal councillors![Pg 223] At all events they are good-humoured, and that, in my humble opinion, is always an advantage. They exchange little jokes even while despatching business. The order of the day involved a most interesting discussion. “In consideration of the annual payment of a sum of 16l. 13s. the undernamed Joseph A. Connell offers to undertake the maintenance of the road from Knocknagasher to Ballinascreena, between the cross of Ballinagerah and that of Meendhorna! Does this offer conceal a trap, or should it be accepted?” At the moment that each grand jury man mentally and with some anxiety asks himself this question, a lamentable voice is heard.

“Mr. President!” exclaims an old, wretched-looking grand jury man, who is seated at the end of the table, to the left facing the door—“Mr. President! Could not the window behind me be closed? I am in such a draught that I feel my hair blowing off my head.”

“Sir,” replied the president with serene courtesy, “although I am secure myself from the danger you foresee,” (the honourable president is as bald as an apple,) “I consider it my duty to accede to your request. Constable, shut the window!”

The clerk, convulsed with laughter, buries his face in his papers; the grand jury men shake in their chairs; the contractors at the end of the hall laugh out loud; and even one of the constables smiles. He is a young man, and has not yet attained the Olympian impassibility that is distinctive of this select corps.

Unfortunately the train is due. I am obliged to hastily shake hands with Mr. Trench whilst thanking him for his kind hospitality. I penetrated, with some effort, through the groups of peasants who thronged the porch of the town-hall, and I had but just time to[Pg 224] jump into the carriage which was to take me back to Ballinacourty.

Travelling by railway is singularly favourable to reflection, particularly when one is alone in the compartment and the country on either side utters little of interest. Whilst the locomotive speeds on, without too much hurry, in the direction of Limerick, I reflect over all that I have seen in the last three days. What a singular social organisation exists in this country. Positively, one cannot conceal it from one’s self, the country is, from a material point of view, entirely at the mercy of half a dozen agents. These agents offer, in most respects, every possible guarantee. They are men of great experience, because in nearly all cases they fill the office of estate managers from father to son. They are intelligent and upright; if they were not their business would soon suffer from it, for it is not unusual for a landowner to change his agent. But no one denies their possession of all these qualities. Every morning I read all the newspapers on both sides. I have not yet found a single accusation against the respectability of the agents. It is certain that no other nation owns a body of officials who can be compared to them.

But they are not officials, they do not seek any part of the public power, and they are not elected for any. They have not, therefore, to render any account of their actions, either to the Government as though they were officials, nor to the electors as though they were their representatives; and yet, at a time when the system works regularly, the force of circumstances gives them over almost all the citizens power nearly as absolute as that of the pachas over the raias of the[Pg 225] Turkish empire. They cannot impale an individual who offends them, but they can easily transport him. In fact, in this country, where agriculture is the only industry, a man can only live, on condition of having some land, the necessary tool for the exercise of this industry. Now an agent can take this tool from him, and, if he does, the man has no resource but to emigrate. One can therefore say that thousands of families are dependent upon one man to such an extent that he can transport them if he wishes to do so. It must unquestionably be very hard to feel one’s self so completely in a man’s power, however honourable he may be. This position of affairs results from an economic situation which laws cannot affect. It is not the less true that it is dangerous, for it is easily understood that in certain dispositions it produces a state of exasperation which may lead to any crimes.

You must notice that it is not the administration of the land which is the chief source of this state of things. Most of the estates are very large, that is true, but there are also a fair number of middle-sized ones. If they were managed by their owners or by different agents, the situation would be less serious. A farmer dismissed from Lord X——’s estate could find a farm under Lord Y——, or Messrs. A——, B—— or C——; but here he is prevented from doing so by the fact that the same agent manages the properties of all these gentlemen. As I said in the commencement, the whole county is therefore in the hands of five or six men, who are all interested in keeping on good terms with each other. When there has been a rupture with one of them, a man may feel sure that he will not be accepted by either of the others.

[Pg 226]

In England the situation is very different. A man dismissed from Lord X——’s land may perhaps be unable to become a tenant of Lord Y——, another great landowner in the neighbourhood, but there are twenty factories in the environs where he can always earn his living. Expulsion from the farm where he is working does not necessarily end in emigration.

It is now more than a hundred years since France commenced her evolution towards absolute political liberty. Of the orators and authors who have placed their thoughts on paper to aid their ideas, every one without exception has taken Great Britain as an example. To all those who feel alarm at the rapidity of the movement, they always answer, “What are you afraid of? The absolute freedom of the press, the right of meeting, the right of association—all these liberties of which you dread the abuse, have existed in England for centuries, and have never injured either order or property.”

I will not give an opinion on the root of this question, that would entail too long a digression. I would only prove that the comparison is fundamentally wrong, and consequently, argument is of little value. It is very true that at all epochs the Irish or English agricultural labourers have had the right of assembling, when they liked, on the highways, around one of their number, and of there comfortably listening to the most furious diatribes against the established laws. The police had no right to interfere, and so they abstained from interference.

Only, the following day the orators, and, if requisite, some of the assembly, receive notice from the agent that they would have to remove, sometimes at twenty-four [Pg 227]hours’ notice, more frequently at the end of the lease; and this notice is equivalent to a sentence of transportation, at least as far as concerns the Irish. In England the consequences are less serious; but it is not less true that in most of the rural counties, only an infinitesimal number of electors have the right of avowing political opinions which differ from those of the chiefs of the two great national parties. The result is that an action, which, although illegal in France, would only entail a fortnight’s imprisonment to the man who committed it, is in England followed by the most terrible consequences, although it is perfectly legal in the country. The English Government, ultra Liberal in theory, which now poses to all Europe as a model of Liberalism, has therefore only worked until a very recent period through a system which suppressed in an almost absolute degree all political liberty amongst the lower classes. Now, for some years, particularly in Ireland, these classes have begun to appreciate the situation; they wish to have in fact the rights they had only in theory; and they have been able, by coalition, to paralyse the anonymous powers which formerly ruled them, and above all, which encircled them so efficaciously.

And now the Government has ceased to act at all! I require no other proof than the speech made by Baron Dowse.


[3] If any of my readers are interested in the misfortunes of the poor people of Kenmare they will be pleased to learn that owing to his forcible eloquence and diplomacy Mr. Trench was able to induce the grand jury to make an order, which charged the whole county with the sum that the barony alone ought to have reimbursed through the collector’s theft. The taxpayers at Kenmare had then good reason to congratulate themselves upon having confided to him the care of their interests.

[4] Here are two of the old couplets, which confirm the claims of the Blarney stone:

“There is a stone there
That whoever kisses,
Oh! he never misses
To grow eloquent.
’Tis he may clamber
To a lady’s chamber,
Or become a member
Of Parliament.
“A clever spouter
He’ll sure turn out, or
An out and outer
To be let alone!
Don’t hope to hinder him,
Or to bewilder him,
Sure he’s a pilgrim
From the Blarney Stone!”

[Pg 228]



July 12th.—The study of the newspapers and everything that is said around me shows me that I have at present only seen Ireland in the most exceptional light. At Kenmare a fortunate combination of circumstances has resulted in the two parties having as their chiefs very intelligent men, both very popular in the two camps, and both using every effort to calm the public feelings. The situation is so strained, that in spite of these favourable conditions, there are some drawbacks: but suppose a less prudent agent or landlord, or even a president of the Land League who was anxious to attain notoriety, was there, as elsewhere, they would certainly be in the same state that I am told is only too common in this unhappy country.

I should be much disappointed if I were forced to quit Ireland without being able to judge for myself[Pg 229] what the life of an unfortunate man severely boycotted, as they say here, is like. The hospitable traditions of the Emerald Isle are always in full force. I had therefore scarcely expressed this wish before my amiable hosts endeavoured to gratify it. It was not difficult to find a boycotted person. There are enough of them to form a regiment, and every one to whom I explain my difficulty says at once: “I know exactly what you want.” They then proceed to enumerate with the greatest complacency all the claims which their man can advance to be called “severely boycotted.”

In this way I received so many invitations, that, naturally being unable to accept them all, I was involved in a serious amount of work before I could ascertain which was the most authentic case. I proceeded to eliminate them. For instance, one amiable landlord, who has not received one penny from his farms for two or three years, about a fortnight ago received as compensation three shots in his hat in one evening, whilst he was driving his dog-cart along the road. This at first appeared to be a serious claim; but I soon changed my impression. Mr. X—— was actually fired at, but the shot was intended for one of his neighbours. His servant never doubted it for an instant. When he heard the shot whistling past his ears he turned round, and furiously apostrophising the assassin whom they saw running away across a field, he shouted out—

“You fool, to take his honour for Mr. Z——! Have you no eyes?”

Then, when his first anger had passed, he turned towards his master and amicably admonished him.

“There,” he said, “your honour is wrong! You know that Mr. Z—— has been condemned by the League,[Pg 230] and yet you drive out in the dusk with a grey horse as like Mr. Z——’s as two drops of water. It isn’t reasonable. A poor fellow can easily make a mistake!”

And on the next morning Mr. X—— received by post a letter signed “Captain Moonlight,” confirming in every respect his servant’s explanation. The Captain much regretted his agent’s mistake, and congratulated himself on the fortunate want of skill which had prevented an “accident,” which he could never have forgiven himself, ending his letter by advising his correspondent in a friendly way to get rid of his grey horse or to leave it in the stables for some time.

The first duty of a really patriotic traveller is to point out to the merchants of his own country every good thing that may present itself to him. I therefore notify Parisian horse-dealers that for the last fortnight grey horses were sold for next to nothing in this country. But this is a digression, which I hope will be pardoned on account of the sentiment which inspired it. I said then that these explanations appeared to me to diminish the value of Mr. X——’s claim to the title of “severely boycotted;” in my opinion those of Mr. Z—— are superior. But since he hastened to Italy, where he wished to visit some of the museums, and his return still appears to be indefinitely postponed, I am forced to renounce the idea of studying the beauties of boycottage at his house.

At last I discovered the object of my search. Mr. Thompson is one of the principal agents in County Cork; he is unquestionably boycotted, and if only one half of what is reported in the newspapers about him is true, he is quite as “severely” so as any one could wish; for during the last eighteen months it has been[Pg 231] necessary to place a garrison of seventy-five men in his house. It has but just been withdrawn, and will probably be replaced. Mr. Thompson, with whom I had been put in communication, immediately and with the greatest kindness wrote to invite me to stay with him, only he begged me not to arrive before Monday. I had therefore three days to spend at Ballinacourty. I was, however, only too pleased with the delay, which allowed me to enjoy Colonel M——’s charming hospitality a little longer, and to see a little of that country life, which differs so much in England from anything of the same kind in France, and which—must I own it?—is so much more agreeable.

This morning I went for a walk alone to see the country and talk at leisure to the peasantry. My first visit is always to the Shannon; through my open windows, I can hear in the night the roaring of its cascades. Its banks are covered with superb trees, and nothing is more charming than a walk there in the morning. It can only be made by passing through private grounds, for from here to Castle Connell the whole country between the high road and the river is occupied by the parks of seven or eight castles or country houses. But in this country the owners seem to invite you to enter their properties. Everywhere you find hurdle fences or gates always standing open.

I own that I was first attracted by the fly-fishing. Amongst us a fisherman is nearly always an elderly man for whom life has ceased to have illusions. He likes solitude, and consoles himself by the society of the gudgeons in place of the mortifications of an existence passed on the stool of a bureau or in the thick atmosphere of a back shop; the fraternity is also[Pg 232] recruited by a number of retired officers; there are even some old captains of the line who belong to it, but they are in bad odour with the general inspectors and are never promoted to a superior rank.

English fishermen are very different. That which amongst us is almost regarded as the first halting-place in the progress towards the final softening of the brain, is, on the contrary, amongst our neighbours, considered a brevet of supreme elegance. Angling is one of their most-appreciated sports. A whole literature is devoted to it. When a young cavalry guardsman can announce to his comrades, towards the month of June, that he has obtained three weeks’ leave to go and install himself in a hut in Sweden, on the banks of a stream where he can get some fly-fishing, he becomes the object of secret envy amongst all his less fortunate comrades. If a French novelist made one of his heroes enjoy fly-fishing, you would feel sure that he is a husband, who would be abominably deceived before the third chapter; when an English one wishes to explain the lightning flash that kindled in Miss Kissmequick’s heart an inane love for the lively Irish Major O’Kelshick, he describes him taking three trout in ten minutes before the young heiress! That is quite enough to subjugate her, and not an English girl reads it but she inwardly owns that it would be quite enough for her too!

There is another thing well recognised by all observers really worthy of the name, and this is that amongst the different races of men and animals called to live together in the same country, there are always physically, as well as morally, if not some points of resemblance, at least some phenomena of conformation which indicate that they are made to assist each other.[Pg 233] Thus, suppose that Providence had decreed that the race of Perche horses should resemble the Corsican ponies, where would the stout Normandy farmers’ wives, with their rounded forms, have been able to place all that, by the gift of exuberant Nature, they are forced to carry to market, when they are seated pillionwise behind their husbands? It is because they require so much room that the Percheron mares themselves have those beautiful round haunches which have made them so justly celebrated; whilst the small Corsican women whom one sees arrive at the Alata or Boccognano markets are perfectly comfortable on their thin ponies. Providence does all things well!

We must also notice—and it is in order to reach this point that I have allowed myself this digression—we must, I say, notice that this similitude does not only exist in external forms, it is also visible in characters. For instance, an Englishman knows how to imprint his individuality on all that surrounds him, animate as well as inanimate objects. The Englishman is a being whose manners are always solemn and systematic. He is so much the slave of his habits that he carries them with him wherever he may be. Imagine two Englishmen, one at Chimborazo, the other on the Himalayas, and except for the difference of time which results from the difference of longitude, you may be sure that they will both eat the same thing at the same hour. If you offer them at two o’clock the meal they have been accustomed to eat at eight, or at eight the repast they are used to take at two, they will wither you with a glance pregnant with the deepest contempt, and turn their backs upon you. The completeness of these habits constitute what is called respectability.

[Pg 234]

Well, the fish in this country—it is of Ireland that I am speaking—have contracted these habits. Offer as bait to one of our fish anything extraordinary, and he will swallow it, even if it is not good, simply from love of change, from curiosity. This sentiment in the last century made all our great ladies enjoy going to the porcherons so much to eat the petits plats canailles there. This is why we are such a revolutionary people! The trout and the salmon in the Shannon are not like that. If at eight o’clock you offer them a fly which they adore, but which generally they only eat at noon, instead of being seduced by the novelty, as our French fish would be, instead of allowing themselves to be tempted by the earliness of the season, they would turn round with a whisk of the tail, and you would not see another of them. Your advances, although well meant, shock them, because you have broken the usual rules, and they perceive in your action an attack against their respectability.

The English quite understand these sentiments. This is why, just as Baron Brisse composed a daily menu, to the great assistance of his readers, so they formed albums of artificial flies, which one has only to turn over to see what a trout or salmon who respected himself, should take not only every day of the year, but also every hour of each day. This idea appeared so sublime to me that I bought one of these albums; it cost me five pounds, and its information has never aided me in catching a single French fish.

But the English are more fortunate, or more skilful, than I am. Every morning, at dawn, I see the tenants or owners of fishing wending their way towards the river, consulting their albums. Two men are waiting[Pg 235] for them seated in a punt moored to a tree. They begin by a long discussion as to which fly it would be most advisable to offer as the dish of the day. In order to settle this, they carefully examine the flies that are visible on the river. A still more certain means, when it is practicable, is to procure a trout, and to open its stomach to see what it has eaten for its first breakfast. When once their choice is made, they dress four or five hooks; one is fastened to the line, the others are placed round the hat ready for use. I ought to have mentioned that fly-fishing requires a special costume. It seems to me that it is absolutely necessary to wear knickerbockers, and for the complete suit to be of homespun, with yellow or green squares, the same sort of thing that we see the English wear from time to time in the opera amongst us—but not over here!

When these preparations are once ended, the punt is pushed into the midst of the river; the two boatmen, seated at the extremities, keep it still in the current, and their master sets to work. He flourishes his line two or three times in the air, and then with an adroit turn of the rod, he throws the fly up the stream, as far away as possible, holds it on the surface of the water whilst it descends the stream, and then recommences, without growing tired of it, during four or five hours. Every morning I see seven or eight gentlemen devote themselves to this amusement. From time to time their fly catches a hat on its way, either their own or a boatman’s. This is about the only thing I ever saw them catch. When it happens, they pause an instant in order to enable the owner to recover his lost headgear, but this is the only incident which can trouble their Olympian serenity.

[Pg 236]

These are the lucky ones of this world. They pay 200l. or 300l. per annum, and sometimes more, to obtain the right of enjoying this amusement. They alone can hope to capture a salmon, but allow others to gather up the crumbs from their table. On the bank one sees gentlemen of less importance, whom the others allow to fish for trout. This is the democracy of fly-fishing. Outside all questions of sentiment or prejudices, whichever you like, I do not pity them much, for they appear to me to catch a great deal more than the others.

I am not the only one who contemplates all these beautiful scenes. I also meet on the river banks a good number of people who are taking their constitutionals—that walk for health’s sake which absorbs one-half of every good Englishman’s existence. The “constitutional” is still an institution of the country. I must say a few words about it.

All philosophers agree that the body is a machine given to man for his use. English ideas about the method of employing this machine are very different from our own. A Frenchman, as a rule, is not anxious to make any exceptional demands upon its strength. His great desire is that the machine should work properly and without requiring too much care. If on days when he feels so inclined he can walk twelve or fifteen miles without fatigue; if at the fair at Saint Cloud he can unhook an honourable number with a blow on the Turk’s head, he is perfectly satisfied. And if any one came and said to him, “Place yourself under my directions; I will make you rise early and go to bed early, although you like to rise late and sit up late: I will make you walk quickly six or seven hours a day,[Pg 237] after which I will exterminate you with exercises on the dumb-bells; I will prevent your eating when you are hungry and drinking when you are thirsty; but thanks to my rules you will be able to do thirty miles without noticing it; at the next fair at Saint Cloud you will when you play give such a blow to the Turk’s head that the whole machine will be reduced to matchwood, and if you will accept a pair of the running breeches which Mr. Marseille offers for the use of amateurs, you will beat all his pupils in turn, amongst the applause of the idolatrous crowd;” I would bet heavily that ninety-nine Frenchmen out of a hundred would reply to this vile tempter—

“A thousand thanks! But first of all, I have a number of more interesting and amusing things to do than any of those you propose for me. I have only one life, and should be miserable if I used it in so wearisome a fashion. And lastly, if I must tell you the whole truth, it is possible that the prospect you open out to me may be very attractive to certain people, but it leaves me quite indifferent! Allow me, then, to remain as I am!”

An Englishman would probably accept the bargain at once. I was wrong to use the conditional. Two-thirds of the English, at least of those who belong to the upper classes of society, look up to this ideal from their earliest youth. Amongst our neighbours the truest happiness in reality consists in the enjoyment and exercise of physical strength. Incontestably that is the quality that they most appreciate. I have seen many Englishmen, thoroughly exasperated against Mr. Gladstone because of his Radicalism, allow their anger to melt away when they remember that although nearly[Pg 238] eighty years old, he can still cut down trees at Hawarden.

A father feels more pride in his son’s talents as a boxer or rower, than in his literary success at Oxford or Cambridge. Amongst us, the newspapers write lengthily about the great competitions, but completely neglect to inform us of the games of prisoner’s base which the young candidates may have previously waged in their respective colleges. In England, the Times gives a short summary of the examinations at the end of the Oxford and Cambridge years; but as soon as the annual boat-race between the two universities draws near, its columns are freely opened to all details respecting it. For three months before the event takes place special reporters are employed to keep the English and colonial populations acquainted with the most minute particulars respecting the rowers’ health. They begin by quoting the men’s weights; the special rules that the trainers impose upon each of them are carefully explained. One fine morning, England learns with consternation that Jones, the stroke of one of the boats, has awakened with a slight headache; but on the morrow a relieved sigh escapes from thirty million breasts on reading the assurance that judicious purging has cured Jones’s headache.

These customs, which seem so strange to us, have certainly their good side. A young Englishman of sixteen or seventeen is intellectually one of the most prodigious dunces in creation. If one is absolutely determined to make him talk, one can induce him easily enough to relate every detail of the fine boxing match between Jack Thompson and Dick Harris, or he will even explain to you, and very clearly, the rules he[Pg 239] followed in order to lose five pounds of his weight in one week, and beat Tom Wilkinson racing. This is all you can get from him, and it is very wearisome. But I infinitely prefer the type to that of Chérubin de Beaumarchais, who, nevertheless, never existed, or that of Fanfan Benoîton, who, unfortunately, is only too common amongst us.

The most terrible thing is that in this respect a young Englishman does not improve as he grows older, at least for the first few years. When he is nearly thirty years old, and he has seen and done a good many things, he often becomes interesting. But before that he has an extraordinary lack of conversation. There are several reasons for this. First of all he knows very little, for, in fact, he never learnt anything whilst he was at college. He does not read much: he really only interests himself in questions of sport. More than this, he takes no trouble. A Frenchman always thinks he can please a woman by seeking to be witty in her presence. The efforts he makes with this object may perhaps render him ridiculous, but it is because every one is doing his best that our salons are so agreeable and contain so many pleasant talkers. In England these ideas do not exist. Physical beauty rather than wit secures worldly success for a young man. In France a woman is fairly content not to be witty, but she desires above all to be beautiful; on the contrary, most of the men are indifferent about their appearance, but would be greatly mortified if any one questioned their wit.

In England the position is completely reversed. A fashionable young man, entering a drawing-room, takes no trouble to please the ladies present; he almost seems to say: “You must court and admire me!” On the[Pg 240] other hand an Englishwoman is not coquettish in dress. She often flirts à outrance before her marriage, but that is necessary in order to obtain a husband. As soon as she has landed her prize she troubles very little about her appearance. But, in return, her husband is always well dressed, and often spends more on his clothes than she does on hers.

I said that young Englishmen know very little when they leave college. It would be very difficult for them to do otherwise, having given to study only the few hours left from cricket and boating. Most of the well-informed men that one meets have learnt all that they know after they left college. The educational system in this country has then a curious result. Whilst they are paying dearly for classes held by excellent professors, and for the use of the finest libraries in the world, they only learn boating, and it is quite impossible to study seriously, since all the time is passed in recreation. But some higher natures resent this deprivation of work so strongly that they leave college with a profound distaste for idleness, and they succeed in their self-instruction. Perhaps it would be more rational to work seriously during the years at college and to boat afterwards. This is the French system, only we exaggerate it so much that through unremitting study at college many of our young men are apt to dislike work afterwards. The true idea, according to the Romans, would be to have a mens sana in corpore sano. We Frenchmen, particularly in former years, have perhaps done rather too much for the development of the mind and not enough for the body; but really the English have always seemed to me to have gone too far in the opposite direction.

[Pg 241]

When I had ended my walk by the river-side, I returned across the fields and highway, talking to the peasants whom I met. Really, the more one sees of these fine Irishmen, the more one becomes attached to them. They have only two faults—they are very idle and horribly untruthful. But how witty they are! I am told that the other day an English tourist, a man already elderly, arrived at Castle Connell. He intended passing some weeks here, and on the recommendation of a friend, he had written to the inn to secure a room; he wished for one in the front of the house. He had been promised one, but did not get it. An honourable individual, living by his wits, introduced himself as having fishing rights in the river, and led him, for a consideration, to a certain spot, where he left him, promising him wonderful success. In five minutes he was arrested by a keeper, who threatened him with prosecution. After three or four adventures of the same kind he packed his portmanteau, vowing that he would never visit Ireland again.

At the station, just as he was starting, he was surrounded by four or five beggars.

“You tell me,” said he, “that you are dying of hunger; that too, must be a lie. Since I have been in this country I hear nothing but lies. Look, here are three shillings! I promise them to whoever will tell me the biggest!”

“Ah,” readily answered the most ragged of the band, addressing his neighbour, “here, at least, is a ra-al gintleman!” And he held out his hand, sure of having won the three shillings.

We must not judge this want of veracity too severely: it is the certain result of centuries of oppression, during[Pg 242] which untruthfulness was the sole protection of the persecuted against the persecutor. Every race that has passed through the same trials has the same defect, and it is very slowly corrected. If I allude to it, it is because I perceive that the information that one receives in this country must be accepted with some reserve. An Irish peasant, in contrast to our own, is always inclined to speak of his affairs. Only if one holds two conversations with him, leaving a day’s interval between them, one finds that frequently his statements on the second day bear very little resemblance to those he had made on the preceding one. It is therefore difficult to arrive at the truth. Thus, after once visiting all their houses, I considered that the fact that these people were living in misery was conclusively proved.

But perhaps this is not so certain as I fancied. We must distinguish between them. Those who twenty or twenty-five years ago had a fair-sized and not too bad a farm have profited by the rise in the price of meat, and have made money. If they live so miserably it is because it suits them. The proof that until quite recently they were doing well, is, that when they felt inclined to give up their farms they easily found people who gave them relatively considerable sums as the price of their lease. And this often when the landlords had not received one penny of rent for some years. But a farmer’s position could not be as bad as he pretended, since he could find others who were ready to accept it, although it was aggravated by the price of the lease. I, however, believe that an enormous decrease in the number of farms is inevitable here as elsewhere, and here more than elsewhere. The price of meat is lower in all the English ports, particularly the price of medium[Pg 243] qualities, through the immense importations of American and Australian meat: this trade is likely to increase prodigiously, for its profits are enormous. But, until the last few years, farmers who had one hundred acres, ought, at least, to have been able to pay their rents very comfortably.

We must therefore distinguish between them. The large farmers, who were able to raise cattle, pretend to be miserable, but are not really in distress. They try to profit by the situation. But the misery is terrible amongst the small farmers, who are much more numerous, since it certainly includes four-fifths of the population. Some years ago there were 300,000 holdings under 5 acres; 250,000 from 5 to 15 acres; 80,000 from 15 to 30; and only 50,000 of more than 30; and, consequently, there were more than 600,000 families who lived on farms of less than 15 acres. The great majority were therefore unable to raise cattle. Now agriculture, which has never been very remunerative in this country, on account of the climate and of the inferior quality of the soil, is absolutely impossible now that to these drawbacks foreign competition is added. The small farm has therefore no future here, as I have already said, but it cannot be repeated too often, because any policy that is not inspired by this fundamental truth, can only result in disaster. Besides, one of the reasons which have made small holdings so successful with us, is the spirit of order, economy, and industry, which so greatly characterises our peasantry. Now, I do not know whether Irishmen are very economical; I rather doubt it; but I am sure that the Irishwomen, at least, are not industrious. If they were they would never allow their[Pg 244] own and their children’s clothes to remain in the state we see them in. Every lady tells me that there is scarcely one peasant in ten who knows how to sew. The other day I visited the convent at Kenmare, and I saw there a hundred little girls, whom the Sisters were teaching to make a lace that appeared to me to resemble the lace made at Caen. The nuns owned to me that their pupils had very little inclination for needlework. Neither have they any aptitude for cooking. When I enter a house at meal times I always see three rather dirty dishes on the table. On the first there is a piece of bacon, on the second and the third there are boiled potatoes and cabbages. The whole is as little appetising as possible. It reminds me of the horrible meals in the Far West. With the same materials a Burgundian would make a dish of which the smell alone would revive the dead.

The afternoon was passed in calling upon the neighbours, for I find that there is much sociable visiting in this country. The day before yesterday there was a grand charitable sale of work, which was attended by more than three hundred people. Every day of the week there is a tennis party held somewhere. There I met, dressed in white flannel and in an extraordinary state of perspiration, all the people whom I saw in the morning taking their constitutionals or fly-fishing. At each of these little festivals assemble at least thirty or forty people who live in a radius of about six miles at the outside—and even less, for many of the young men come on foot, carrying their tennis shoes with them. I do not know any province in France, and I do not believe there are any, where it would be possible to organise so many reunions of this kind. The ruin[Pg 245] of Ireland through absenteeism!—this thesis so frequently brought forward is surely a legend! In any case, at least in this county, absenteeism is much rarer than is reported and than I had imagined. In the immediate neighbourhood of Ballinacourty there are at least twenty castles and country houses. All but one are inhabited. If this is empty, it is not the owner’s fault; he is dead.

To-day is Sunday. This morning two jaunting cars conducted the master and servants to Castle Connell. Since noon yesterday it rains in torrents. This does not prevent all the peasant women whom we meet on the road, walking to church, being dressed in wonderful costumes. I noticed five or six women, whom I had seen during the week, their hair falling round their faces, bare-footed, scarcely covered with a chemise and a petticoat. To-day they have bonnets with flowers, boots, and some of them silk dresses. The men, without being so brilliant, are relatively well dressed. Apparently it is only the children who do not participate in this general Sunday smartness. I see numbers of them running in the mud, nearly as naked as during the week. But they improve by being seen in the rain. They are washed.

At the entrance to Castle Connell our carriages draw up before the Protestant Church, a pretty little place, where a young English clergyman officiates who has not, like his colleague at Kenmare, joined the Land League. He is therefore not on good terms with the Catholic population. But on the other hand, his parishioners praise him highly.

The neighbouring gentry arrive one after the other. Seeing me remain in the carriage, Lord M——[Pg 246] graciously signed to me to take a seat in his pew; but I reply to this proposal by a horrified gesture which makes them all laugh heartily, and I go with all the coachmen and footmen to the Catholic church.

When I reach it a compact crowd is hurrying in. Under the porch I notice a group of men surrounding a table on which a tray is placed. One of them addresses me roughly as I pass:

“Don’t you mean to subscribe?”

“Subscribe! What for?”

“Take care, Jim!” interrupted one of his companions, “it’s the Frenchman staying with the Colonel.”

“Ah! you are French. God bless the French! Now, sir, won’t you kindly subscribe something for the election expenses of those who defend the good cause [the Parliamentary Fund]?”

I placed a few shillings on the tray. I am sure that there were already 8l. or 10l. there. What a nice thing it is to be a candidate in this country! Alas! it is not like this at home!

I hope that my offering will please Mr. Harrington. In any case, it has not injured me in the opinion of the inhabitants of Castle Connell, for one of them at once led me to the front, and showered civilities upon me all through the mass.

This evening I said good-bye to my kind hosts, for I must start early in order to meet Mr. Thompson at Limerick, where he undertakes to show me Irish life under a new aspect. It appears that up to now I have only seen the Land Leaguers in rose colour. He will take me home with him, where he promises to show me the best they can do in this way. I am, therefore, on my way to a boycotted country!

[Pg 247]

July 13th.—I quite understand that, strictly speaking, the Irish complain of having too many policemen. However, seeing what is taking place amongst them, it appears as though there were more reason to increase their number than to withdraw those who are already there. But they ought, at least, to feel proud of those whom the English Government gives them. For whatever may be the connection that exists with them; whether they protect or arrest you, it is always preferable to have dealings with a clean, well-dressed policeman than with a dirty one. The lists of the Irish constabulary force are so numerous that this corps is perhaps more like an army than a police force. But I have never seen an army so well dressed. When I see some of its men passing, and I mentally compare them with those we see at home, I cannot help owning that the comparison is very painful to my national pride. Why do they not improve such a sorry state of things? Why, for instance, is it necessary, no matter what the rulers are—and yet, God knows, we change them often enough—why, I repeat, must the breeches of our army be always so badly made, whilst the trousers of all these constables look as though they had come from some great tailors’ workshops? The other day, I was sufficiently curious to ask the officer with whom I dined at Kenmare, how they managed so as to make it always quite unnecessary to address to these men the reproaches good St. Eloi so freely bestowed on his august master. He explained to me—I am speaking of the officer, not of St. Eloi—that the clothes are all kept in the shops, not made as they are with us, but simply cut out. In this state they are given to the men. Then, thanks to an allowance, given on purpose,[Pg 248] there is a tailor in each locality, who undertakes to fit them and sew them together. The same system also prevails in the navy. Would it then be quite impossible to attempt an analogous combination amongst us? Whatever the results might be, they could not be worse than those which sadden our eyes and disgrace one half of our army—the half nearest the ground.

Mr. Thompson had appointed to meet me this morning in the Limerick station, from which we were to start together for his home at Shaunganeen, but as he was coming from the south, and I from Castle Connell, our trains did not fit in, and I had to wait nearly three-quarters of an hour. What can be done in a railway station, unless one dreams? might have said M. de la Fontaine, had stations existed in his time. And therefore I allowed myself to make all the reflections which I have just written down—reflections suggested to me by the sight of twenty or twenty-five constables, who, after forming on the quay under a sergeant’s orders, took their seats four by four on the benches of jaunting cars, which were waiting for them before the door. They then drove off towards the country.

“There, a few more poor devils will sleep homeless to-night!” said one of the railway officials, standing by my side, looking at them with an unsympathetic air.

And it is probable that they are going to aid in an eviction. The men are in marching dress, knapsack on the back, and rifle on the shoulder. I must mention that the cars waiting for them are painted red, and driven by officials belonging to the Government. Formerly, when a squad had to be transferred rapidly[Pg 249] from one point to another, the Government hired carriages, but now it has been obliged for some years to have its own, for there was not one owner who dared provide them for its use.

My meditation was suddenly interrupted.

“We must hurry,” said Mr. Thompson, who had just arrived; “our train is ready, we have but just time to take our places.”

Two minutes later we were rolling towards Shaunganeen. Mr. Thompson is, like Mr. Trench my host at Kenmare, one of the best known agents in the south of Ireland. During the two hours that the journey lasted he told me his story, and related through what train of unlucky circumstances he could now boast of being at the present time one of the most boycotted men in all Ireland. You must first know that Mr. Thompson is not, like most of his brethren, content to be only a receiver of rents. Instead of letting to the farmers all the land, the management of which has been confided to him, he retains a sufficiently large portion in his own hands, reserving it for the landlord. This arrangement would be quite unsuccessful amongst us. However, they say that certain Irish landlords have derived benefit from its adoption. In any case, it has one advantage. The landlords are less at the mercy of a coalition of farmers, for the latter, knowing that the bailiff or agent disposes of all the necessities of cultivation, always dread that their lands may be taken from them if they ask for too much reduction—a dread that may be salutary, but which they would not have by the other arrangement.

Mr. Thompson’s case proves that this weapon has not great efficacy in actual circumstances. One of his[Pg 250] farmers was greatly in arrear; he did not pay, and showed no intention of paying. His land was contiguous to some of the land cultivated by Mr. Thompson. The latter thought that it would be a good opportunity of uniting them; he therefore asked the farmer to come and see him, and proposed to take them back—adding that if he were willing to consent to this arrangement, they would give him a receipt for the rent in arrear. He curtly refused, and said that he would refer the matter to the Land League. He did so, for, two or three days later, Mr. Thompson received a notice that if the man were sent away, the farm would be boycotted. Usually the boycotting of a farm inflicts great loss upon its landlord because he cannot find a tenant. But since Mr. Thompson had no intention of seeking one, for he intended cultivating the land himself, he thought it useless to take any notice of this threat. The necessary formalities were completed; at the termination of the legal delay he secured the assistance of a good number of soldiers and constables, and the eviction took place, without more stones and mud than usual being thrown at the representatives of authority.

Mr. Thompson felt quite proud of the victory he fancied he had gained over the League. But he soon discovered that his triumph was less complete than he had at first imagined. One day, in going round the farm, he noticed that the hay was ready to cut. The same evening he told four men, who usually worked for him, to take their scythes the next morning and commence mowing. The men curtly refused, saying that the League had placarded in the village a prohibition against working on the land, and they dared[Pg 251] not disobey. They were immediately dismissed. Only it was equally necessary to send away all the other farm-labourers, for none of them were more docile. He endeavoured to procure substitutes from the neighbouring villages by offering two or three times the usual wages; it was impossible to find a single one.

A short time before these events some of the victims of the League had recognised that one cause of their weakness was their isolation. They agreed that the best means of resistance would be to borrow some of its methods of procedure. Similia, similibus! Resistance, although impossible to one man, could be made efficacious if they organised themselves—all the more so, because many of the people who now submitted would have resisted had they been sure of being supported. They therefore formed, under the name of the Cork Defence Union, an association, which was intended to unite all opponents of the League, and to paralyse by every possible means its most offensive measure, i.e. boycotting. The most important persons in the county, the Earl of Bandon and Viscount Doneraile, were named president and vice-president. Numerous adherents joined from all sides, and soon the Anti-league had command of sufficient resources to enter upon a campaign. In order to bring those to reason whom the Leaguers of the neighbourhood found refractory, they had adopted two very efficacious methods. They forbade the blacksmiths to shoe the horses, and the owners of machines to thresh the harvest of those whom they had interdicted. The association imported machines and portable forges, which, protected by a strong escort of constables and managed by picked men, scoured the country and[Pg 252] worked in spite of all attempts to break them. For the first time they succeeded in counteracting the League.

Mr. Thompson was one of the first adherents and even one of the organisers of the Cork Defence Union. He, therefore, at once thought of applying to it for help in his embarrassment. The Cork Defence Union was equal to the circumstances. In two days it supplied twelve determined mowers from England, who arrived escorted by a picket of cavalry and a company of infantry. This haymaking was useful for the instruction of the troops. The rules of the service when in campaign were strictly observed. Every morning the cavalry reconnoitred the country, ready to fall back upon the infantry, who were drawn up in battle array on the edge of the field, and during the night advanced posts guarded every haystack. Thanks to these wise precautions, and also to the fact that there was very little rain, the hay was gathered in at the end of four days. But when making up his accounts Mr. Thompson found with some bitterness that agriculture is really not remunerative when it is carried on under military protection.

However, he found a little consolation in the fact that, questionable though his own triumph might be, the partisans of the Land League were greatly troubled by it. In place of material results, he had secured a moral victory. He saw the proof of this result in the great number of meetings that immediately took place in the neighbourhood, meetings attended by two or three thousand people. The parish priest of Shaunganeen who was president of the local Land League, made a speech, and expressed himself with the greatest violence.[Pg 253] He declared in allusion to Mr. Thompson that his name “smelt of blood,” and he made his auditors pass the most energetic resolutions. But here I must make a few observations; boycotting has become so common in Ireland, that gradually a kind of jurisprudence has been introduced into its application. Thus, there is a first degree of boycotting, which is not applied directly to persons. A refractory landlord finds his produce or his property interdicted. He can neither let the one nor sell the other. Usually, he hastens to yield, apologises, pays a fine, and things remain as they were. But if he still resists, the measures taken against him begin to assume a more personal character. He can no longer buy anything that he may require, for whoever sells anything to him, or renders him any service, is at once excommunicated. Until then the League takes the whole responsibility of its actions. Its sentences are often placarded. In every case they are announced in the party newspapers. It is not until the series of mutilations of cattle, arson, and attempts at murder, which form the third degree of boycotting, commences, that it always disclaims all responsibility. Now, until the memorable day on which Mr. Thompson gathered in his hay, thanks to the skilful manœuvres of a little “army corps,” only the first degree of boycotting had been applied to him, and the situation might have been indefinitely prolonged without any perceptible aggravation. But all was spoilt, because on the one hand, the League would not submit to a defeat, and above all, Mr. Thompson was not content to triumph quietly. He at once wrote a letter, which was published in all the newspapers, in which, after thanking the Union, he related the events that had taken place, announced the[Pg 254] success of his proceeding, and urged all those who were in the same position to have recourse to the same means. He did not know the wasps’ nest he was throwing himself into, but he soon learnt. The letter appeared on a Saturday. The following day about two o’clock, he saw a well-meaning friend arrive. He had walked the three miles that separated the house from the town, in order to warn him that the League were holding a meeting, and he had great reason to believe that he was the subject of it. Mr. Thompson, still elated by his success, would not believe it. But the same evening at seven o’clock, the constabulary sergeant sent a man to him, warning him to take precautions, and particularly to be careful to remain indoors, for serious things might happen during the night. Mr. Thompson, who is unmarried, lived at that time with one of his sisters, a young girl of fifteen; two servants, who had been in his service for a long time and upon whom he thought he could rely, slept in the house. They had an abundance of arms, and, what was more important, the doors and window shutters had been lined with sheet iron during the Fenian insurrection. They hastened to barricade the house, and every one prepared to go to bed, when towards nine o’clock knocking was heard at the kitchen door. Armed to the teeth, Mr. Thompson went to it at once.

“Who is there?” said he.

“Open, open quickly, for the love of God, your honour,” replied a stifled voice.

“Who are you? I warn you that I shall fire.”

“I am the butcher’s servant, your honour. They came and told Mr. McCarthy that from to-day he is forbidden to supply your honour with anything at all.[Pg 255] Mr. McCarthy wished that your honour should at least have time to get straight. He therefore sends two legs of mutton, which I have brought, but I was much afraid I should never reach the house! Two men are already standing as sentinels at the gate. I saw them arrive, and I crept through a gap in the hedge. But for the love of God, your honour, take your mutton quickly and let me go. I shall go back by the river, walking in the water, and I hope they won’t see me leave the park. But then, if they should see me, I can say that I left the master’s house before he received the order from the League.”

Mr. Thompson took the mutton and shut the door, feeling very uneasy at the turn affairs were taking. However, the night passed quietly. The following morning, well armed, he went out to reconnoitre; on the side of the road, in front of his gate, he saw two peasants standing, leaning against a tree; whilst he looked at them he saw two others arrive from the town. They exchanged a few words with the first two and then took their places. They were day sentinels who relieved those who had watched through the night.

He went towards the outhouses. The yard men had already left some time before, but the household had up till then continued in his service. Every one had disappeared during the night. The two old servants who had slept in the house were the only ones left, and they were quite drunk already, but swore that they were ready to die for their good master, who found himself obliged to feed his horses, for they were not in a state to do it.

“That is how my boycotting began,” said Mr. Thompson as he ended his recital; “and now it has[Pg 256] lasted six years!” he added philosophically. “But here we are!”

The train had just stopped before a small isolated station in the middle of some fields, for the town is between two and three miles from the station. Shaunganeen, like Castle Connell, has had its days of splendour. It is, however, one of the few localities in this country which has not been the capital of a kingdom, but a saint with a very complicated name settled here towards the seventh century, and attracted, says history, by the fertility of the soil and the favourable dispositions of the inhabitants, he founded an abbey which soon became celebrated. Only a few rather fine ruins remain of the monastery, and the city, which, until 1787 was represented in Parliament by two members, is now only a large and rather miserable town. The station yard presented an interesting spectacle. In the centre an old coachman was standing holding with one hand a very handsome cob harnessed to a dog-cart, and with the other a grey donkey harnessed to a small cart. The first of these vehicles was intended for us, the second for our luggage. Half a dozen urchins in wonderful rags were standing round contemplating the group, with their hands in their pockets; and there, calm and serious, a gigantic constable stood on the quay, a switch in one hand, benevolently standing to be admired by the population.

The old servant greeted us with such a lugubrious gesture of the head, and his whole appearance denoted such extreme dejection, that I saw Mr. Thompson turn visibly paler.

“Good heavens, Tim!” he exclaimed, hastening towards him, “has anything fresh happened?”

[Pg 257]

“Ah, your honour! Has anything happened? Yes, something has happened!”

“But what?”

“Your honour, when leaving, told Miss Thompson to write to Dublin to order beer and whisky, but she has forgotten to do it. The day before yesterday she sent me to Tom Sweeney, the tavern-keeper, to get some. He refused to give it! And since yesterday there has not been a drop of whisky in this house!”

“This is very serious,” said Mr. Thompson, by whose side I was already installed in the dog-cart, “but I dreaded something worse. Tim, you can follow us with the luggage.”

“Monsieur,” he continued, laughing, “you were kind enough to accept the hospitality of an unfortunately boycotted household; but you see, you will have to share some privations. However, I can promise you some bread for this evening. There is not a baker, within a round of ten leagues, who will supply us with bread, but we have a kind neighbour who is willing from time to time to give us some of his provisions. He brings it himself across the park by night. We dare not ask him very often because he risks being shot on every journey; but we shall have some to-day. On the other hand, you will not have any meat; it comes to us from Dublin, about forty miles away, and I have not had time to write for it. Usually we do without it, because it has to be fetched from the station, for no messenger will bring it to us, and our household is so much reduced that we avoid errands as much as possible. We therefore content ourselves with biscuits, preserves, and the produce of the poultry yard.”

[Pg 258]

“But, dear sir,” I replied, “believe me, I am too glad of your kind invitation not to be very grateful for it, even if you could only give me a potato and a glass of water. But let me speak freely to you. I quite admit that the butcher, for instance, makes different excuses in order to avoid supplying your cook with meat, but if you went yourself, and, with the money in your hand, you asked him to sell you a leg or a loin of mutton, it appears to me very difficult to believe that he would dare to refuse to give it to you.”

“Will you make the experiment with me?”

“I dare not ask you to do so, but really nothing would give me greater pleasure.”

We had just reached the market-place, which was surrounded with shops. At the door of one amongst them, hung neck downwards two magnificent half oxen; evidently this was the butcher’s. On the pavement stood a group of beggars and vagabonds of all ages, looking with famished eyes at all the good things displayed in front of the shop on a marble table. Mr. Thompson drove across to that side.

“Boys,” said he, stopping his horse five or six steps away from the group, “which of you will earn sixpence by holding my horse?”

An unlucky urchin of eight or ten years old at once jumped at the reins. But he had not time to seize them before a vigorous kick reached him in that part of his body which was not facing the horse. At the same time a threatening voice addressed five or six words to him in Irish; he seemed quite able to comprehend the second warning, for he at once returned to the pavement, energetically rubbing the place where he had received the first. No one else stirred.

[Pg 259]

“You see, it begins well,” said Mr. Thompson in a low voice.

I was becoming deeply interested. A cart stood there unharnessed. We descended from the carriage, fastened our horse to its wheel, and entered the shop.

Quite at the back of it, to the right behind the counter, we saw a very pretty girl of seventeen or eighteen, very elegant, with small curls on her forehead, her well-fitting black bodice showing off her already fully-formed figure to great advantage, a red ribbon tied like a dog’s collar round her neck; on the whole showing a very pretty specimen of Irish brunettes.

“Good morning,” said Mr. Thompson politely. “I did not know that Shaunganeen had the happiness of possessing such a pretty butcher; I have never had the pleasure of seeing you before. Have you been here long?”

The young lady was evidently delighted. She smiled upon us both in the most engaging way.

“Oh, sir,” she replied, “my father, Mr. McCarthy, only took me from the convent three days ago; my mother is unwell, and I am therefore taking charge of the shop.”

“It was a very good idea of Mr. McCarthy’s! Any one would come here only to see you! Tell me, you have some fine legs of mutton there. Will you sell me one?”

“Why, of course, sir, they are there to be sold! Here, take this one, I am sure it is very tender.”

“Oh! the moment you recommend it I will take it at once.” I was triumphant. Mr. Thompson looked much astonished.

“Well, Miss McCarthy,” he continued, to hide his[Pg 260] surprise, “you will send it home to me before this evening, if you please.”

“Certainly, sir! Will you give me your name, please, sir?”

“What! don’t you know me?”

“No, sir; I have only just left the convent.”

“Ah, very well. I am Mr. Thompson.”

“Oh, you are Mr. Thompson of —— Lodge?”

“Yes, I am Mr. Thompson of —— Lodge.”

The poor girl, red as a peony, looked with a terrified air at the fine leg of mutton she kept turning in her hands, as though it were already on the spit, to give herself courage.

“The truth is, sir,” she began, almost in tears, “I cannot send it to you, I made a mistake, I forgot that it is already sold!”

“Very well,” said Mr. Thompson, “I understand,” and he immediately left the shop.

I relate the scene word for word as it happened. I could only declare myself vanquished. Decidedly the accounts I have heard are not exaggerated. However, Mr. Thompson declares that, at all events, so far as he is concerned, things are improving a little. At first he could not get his horses shod unless the Government sent him a portable forge from the artillery. Afterwards he discovered a farrier living at L——, several miles away. I asked myself what the shoes of horses, which had to go many miles before they reached a forge, ought to be made of? Under the circumstances, I would rather have had them without shoes. But a few weeks ago another farrier, who lives only nine or ten miles away, sent him word that he would shoe them provided the horses came to him at night.

[Pg 261]

“And therefore,” he continued, “Tim’s story rather surprises me, for several times lately they have consented to supply beer for the house. Tim says that it was refused to him to-day. Something new must have happened.”

At this moment we passed an individual adorned with long whiskers and a moustache, who, on seeing us, immediately looked the other way, with much affectation.

“Oh,” said Mr. Thompson, “I understand it all now. I have the honour of introducing you to our member of Parliament, the Honourable Mr. X——, beer and spirit merchant, and naturally an outrageous Land Leaguer. Since he attained this honour, one of his nephews keeps his shop. The nephew is rather indifferent, we can manage him. But it appears as though the uncle has come to see his constituents, he wishes to get a little popularity at my expense, and poor Tim must go without his whisky.”

—— Lodge, which we reached in a few minutes, is a pretty house situated in the middle of a fair-sized park, crossed by a river. Under the windows of the house it forms a large piece of water covered with water lilies, and shaded by superb trees, on which a great number of herons were nesting, making an incredible noise. Two young girls of sixteen and seventeen stopped their game of lawn-tennis when they saw us, and ran to greet their brother, with whom they, were passing their holidays. Naturally, we at once told them about the incident at the butcher’s. The young ladies severely criticised pretty Miss McCarthy’s conduct. But, in reality, in spite of their genuine hatred for Mr. Parnell, it appeared to me that boycottage was not[Pg 262] one of the least attractions of their sojourn here. It entails a Swiss Family Robinson kind of life which is full of amusing incidents.

My kind host hastened to do the honours of —— Lodge. He first showed me his farm. Since he can now only employ the men provided for him by the Cork Union he has naturally been forced to alter his method of culture in order to reduce the number of hands as much as possible. This gave him the idea of trying the ensilage, which has been so much used amongst us for many years, but which is still quite unknown in this part of Ireland. Only he had to struggle against a difficulty peculiar to the country. The sub-soil is so damp that at a depth of five or six feet water is found everywhere. He was therefore obliged to undertake considerable works before he could render his pits water-tight. He had some idea of trying ensilage above the soil. I should like to say a few words about this arrangement, which appeared to me extremely curious.

On the ground, side by side, were laid fifteen or twenty oak joists, furnished at each end with a screw ring, to which an iron pulley is attached. The hay is packed on this floor whilst it is still damp, just as it comes from the meadow. When the pile is twenty foot high they fix the end of a long steel cord to one of the extremities of the first beam, the cord passes across the stack into the pulley at the other extremity, returns to that of the second beam, and so on across the stack. In our navy we call this a passeresse (a brail). When the whole stack is thus supported they apply a wheel purchase or a tourniquet to the end of the chain. The cord sliding through the pulleys produces so much compression that[Pg 263] the height of the stack diminishes by one-half. This pressure, which is about 200 lbs. to the square foot, so completely prevents the entrance of any air to the interior, that fermentation is produced in exactly the same way as when the hay is in a pit. The external surface is sacrificed, but by plunging the hand in the interior, we find that below the crust, which is only from six to eight inches in thickness, the quality of the ensilage is quite as good as that of the pits. It seems that the whole apparatus only costs 18l. I am quite determined to offer one to the first of my farmers who asks me to rebuild his barn.

After lunch Mr. Thompson again harnessed his dog-cart in order to show me the neighbourhood. It appears that we are in the most fertile part of Ireland. And in fact the land is very superior to any other that I have seen at present. However, even here, agriculture has been unremunerative for a long time. And therefore all the landowners are endeavouring to restrict it as much as possible in order to increase the cattle breeding, which is the only thing now likely to produce good results. But to do this it is necessary to reduce the number of farms, and this exasperates the population; here, in fact, as elsewhere, fathers are quite determined to divide their farms amongst their children, and this be it understood without the landlord’s authority. They can, therefore, scarcely produce enough food for themselves from the land.

All great undertakings succeed. Horse-breeding produces extremely good results. The best horses in Ireland come from here. Every moment as we drive along the highway we see fine brood mares, which, on hearing the carriage, rush at full speed from the other[Pg 264] end of the pastures to see us pass. We went into two or three farms to look at the colts; they were playing with the children in the yards. Mr. Thompson described a little scene to me that he had lately witnessed. He had been to see a filly that had been recommended to him, and that he wished to buy for his sister.

“Ah! it is a pretty creature, your honour,” said the farmer, leading his visitor up to the animal which was lying at the foot of a tree; “and besides, it is just the horse for a lady to hunt.”

“We shall see,” replied Mr. Thompson, continuing to advance; “is she good tempered?”

“Ah, your honour, is she good tempered! She is as quiet as a lamb! My daughter Kathleen will tell you so, they play together all day!”

Kathleen, a fine handsome girl of sixteen or seventeen, who listened to the conversation with great interest, made an affirmative gesture when thus appealed to as a witness.

“Really,” said Mr. Thompson, laughingly turning towards her; “do you ride her?”

“You shall see.”

And the young girl sprang upon the mare’s back as she rose to her feet. The frightened filly started off at a gallop. The girl standing, her hair flying in the wind, her arms stretched out to aid her balance, her body leaning forward, her little bare feet clinging to the filly’s back, allowed herself to be carried round like a circus rider. She remained there during three or four rounds, and then feeling herself about to fall, she sprang lightly to the ground and returned laughing to her father quite proud of her freak. What a pretty subject for a picture!

[Pg 265]

Amongst us, every where, except in Normandy and in a few country houses in other parts of France, the stable arrangements are deplorable. Here, on the contrary, even in the most miserable farms that we visited, they are wonderfully complete for securing the well-being of the horses. Loose boxes are very general. The use of straw as litter would be very difficult and very dear, since we may say that scarcely any wheat is grown; it is always replaced by a mossy turf, which is first thoroughly dried and is then reduced to powder by the stamping of the horses. This litter appears excellent in every respect. It forms very soft standing for the feet, and a good bed; there is no dust, and cleanliness is secured by a simple stroke of the rake. Besides, the turf once reduced to a pulverised state is so absorbent that one cannot detect the faintest smell. I noticed that the other night at Sir Croker Barrington’s, and I have been struck with it again to-day when visiting a stallion’s stable. One thing appears very singular to me; I am told that all the turf used is imported from Germany, being found superior to anything in this country for the purpose. The loss is so little that in spite of the money spent in carriage the expenses are very small. There are many places in France where turf is most abundant, but I have never yet seen any used in this way in our own country.

In the villages and on the roads we continually pass long lines of horses fastened one behind the other and led by a man who rides the leader. They are returning from the fair at Cahirmee which ended to-day; it is the most important in the south of Ireland. The farmers tell us that they saw seven or eight French dealers there. They ought to have done a good business, for[Pg 266] the sales were bad, only weight-carrying hunters fetched a good price. A stout priest passed in his cassock, his legs encased in black leggings, mounted on a good cob, and complacently eyeing a superb filly which a ragged urchin was leading in front of him. He was pointed out to us as the victor of the day. His filly won the first prize at the show. He refused 250l. for her.

These prices are quite exceptional. However, I think that this crisis is less felt here than with us. Horses were shown to me that had been sold for 90l. or 100l. which would certainly not have fetched the same money at the last fair at Guibray; but on an average the carriage horses are not at all better than those we see in the Normandy markets. On the other hand, saddle horses are certainly superior and are yet sold very cheaply. Mr. Thompson took me to see a lady, who showed us a very handsome little mare, five years old, a wonderful jumper, beautifully groomed, which had been just brought back from the fair unsold, although only 45l. were asked for her. How small the world is! We entered the lady’s house quite accidentally, and after five minutes’ conversation we discovered that we had already met twenty years before, when she was quite a little girl and I was a middy. Our meeting had taken place at Siam.

Every one confirms what I already suspected, that horse-breeding is in its decadence here as well as in England. Formerly the English were greatly in advance of us in rearing carriage horses. Now they have nothing equal to our Anglo-Norman horse, and of this I have just received a most convincing proof. The Americans are now endeavouring to create a race of carriage horses in their country, that are to be elegant[Pg 267] and yet a little taller and stouter than their present breeds. They come to Caen to purchase their studs. A train of thirty-five was sent over from there quite recently. If they had formed the same wish thirty or forty years ago, they would not for one instant have dreamed of seeking the horses they required from us. Why have we remained behind England for so long? In order to have good horses we must have good pastures, a good climate, and above all the assurance of a remunerative sale. Now, our pasturage is quite equal to theirs, and our climate is infinitely better; if then our breeders could not compete with theirs it is only because they did not obtain a sufficiently high price for their productions. I have a very clever friend with whom I have often talked over this subject, and who clearly explains why English horse raising is so much more flourishing than our own. He asserts that we have no reason to blush for this retrospective inferiority, and that, on the contrary, we may feel proud of it, for it proceeded from a purely moral cause. The superiority of English horse-breeding was, according to him, entirely due to the extraordinary way in which the English manage their love affairs. Every one knows that, during the whole of the last and even during the early part of the present century, English ladies were extremely frivolous. In France, when a marquise selected a lover, it never occurred to them that it was necessary to scour the high roads together in order to assure each other of their affection. On the contrary, when an Englishwoman felt that she could not offer a prolonged resistance to some gallant colonel, she did not throw herself into his arms, but into a post-chaise drawn by the four best horses money[Pg 268] would procure in the neighbourhood. Custom exacted that, as soon as the husband had discovered to which point of the compass his guilty wife and her lover had fled, he should also procure four horses, equally good, for their pursuit; and thus as the mischievous little god, who is so sedentary with us, only appeared in English homes with the attributes of a postilion, one sees at a glance the connection between these strange customs and the production of light carriage horses. Lovers are always liberal, and if those who followed them wished for any chance of stopping their flight, they were obliged to equal them in that respect. Post-masters who had the reputation of owning excellent horses made their fortunes at once. Lovers came even from a distance to elope from their neighbourhood. Competition intervened, and they became willing to pay any price for a pair of horses which could secure a large custom. Moralists should deplore these things; horse-breeders can only regret them. If the Norfolk trotters acquired such high reputations, was it because the ladies of that county lamentably compromised their own?

All this ceased with the accession of Queen Victoria. England became virtuous. No woman dared to elope, for she knew she would not be received at Court afterwards; the postilions became stout, the old trotters became broken-winded and were not replaced; the breeders, reduced like their colleagues in France to the custom of the public coaches, soon discovered that they could not afford to make the same sacrifices as before, and their productions degenerated. Have they any chance of seeing their ancient prosperity restored? It is very improbable. With advancing years her majesty[Pg 269] has ceased to watch over the English ladies so carefully, and it is said that their moral standard is considerably lower. If we may believe some recent law reports, they can enter into elopements with as much spirit as their grandmothers. But they no longer have recourse to a post-chaise, and this return to ancient custom can now benefit only railways and steamers. This is my learned friend’s theory. I have tried my best to explain it in the interest of science. But I leave him all the responsibility of it and all the honour.

Mr. Thompson exaggerated greatly when he spoke to me of the privations I should be obliged to submit to when sharing the life of a boycotted landlord. In default of the leg of mutton which he had been forced to leave in Miss McCarthy’s rather red hands, rabbits from the park, poultry from the yard, and vegetables from the garden, furnished materials for a dinner that an old cordon bleu, who had remained faithful to his master even in boycottage, rendered excellent. I said the other day when speaking of the manner in which Irishwomen prepare their husbands’ meals, that I believed they have little taste for cooking; I perhaps spoke rather too hastily. Their taste is not sufficiently developed, but it exists. This is another good side to the national character; I even think that if the nations were to be arranged in the order of their culinary aptitudes, the Irish would take a very honourable rank. Professors affirm that it is to them we owe that excellent combination our fathers appreciated under the name of haricot mutton, and that ignorant practitioners of our epoch call navarin. It seems that from the earliest ages this dish has been known in Ireland as Irish stew. According to the same authorities, the recipe was[Pg 270] brought to St. Germain by King James’s cooks, who took refuge in France with their master after the disaster of the Boyne; and that by diffusing it amongst us they acknowledged our country’s hospitality. If this be true, here is a new instance of the consoling truth, that a kind action is never lost.

Perhaps, however, to be absolutely impartial we should temper this praise by some criticism. Irishmen are volatile and little observant. These faults, which injure their politics, have also a regrettable influence over their cooking. Thus the affinities, secret, yet so close, between a duck and turnips seems to have escaped their notice. During my sojourn in Ireland I was able to prove that the country produces numbers of excellent ducks, and an abundance of most succulent turnips. But the palmipede always appeared separated from the vegetable, and I never was lucky enough to find united on the same dish these two elements, although, when combined, nature has rendered them so rich in gastronomic delights.

An organisation so powerful and complicated as the Land League necessarily appears under very different aspects when one studies it in the different centres where it works. At Dublin I saw some of the men who composed the managing body, and they spoke to me about the general direction of the movement. At Kenmare I found it weakened by a combination of circumstances which contributed, if not to paralyse it, at least to prevent it from pushing things to extremities. With Lord Cloncurry and in the neighbourhood of Ballinacourty the situation was more strained already. There the League found favourable soil, its evolution was able to pass through each of its successive[Pg 271] phases; I am now, at this moment, in a fully boycotted county. I wished to ascertain the state of feeling amongst a population subject to such a rule, and particularly that of the secondary personages who are charged with carrying out the instructions of the directing committee. Mr. Thompson gave me every facility for this work, by this evening confiding to me as I was leaving him, a thick bundle of documents relative to his boycottage—a bundle which he wished to carry to my room himself, for he was unwilling I should ascend the staircase alone. And, indeed, this staircase is an interesting monument. Four years ago it was being repaired, the workmen had taken off the balustrade on the very day the boycotting was declared. From that time it has been impossible to get it replaced!

It would be very difficult to deny that the movement is Socialistic, if not in its end, at least by the means it employs for its success. Evidently the principal leaders have deliberately made up their minds. But the others, do they know what they are doing? I do not believe so, for here is an extract from a speech pronounced at the great meeting which I alluded to above, the one that assembled when Mr. Thompson sent to the Cork Union to get his grass mown.

“What the Land League requires,” said the orator, “is to succeed in making the State dispossess the landlords in consideration of a fair indemnity, in order that afterwards the State may give the land to the tenants, making them repay the advances and the interest by means of successive annuities. Some people say that acting in this way is Socialism, but the Irish protest against such accusations. If we were Socialists,[Pg 272] we should agree with Gambetta, that faithless man who spoke against us, when, throughout Europe, we had only friends. We should agree with the Parisian communists! those wretches who know neither justice nor virtue, who dyed their hands with the blood of an archbishop! (prolonged groans!) who were not ashamed to destroy the monument erected to celebrate their fathers’ victories! We have no more sympathy for them than they have for us! (Immense acclamations.) No! we are not Socialists because we demand the dispossession of the landlords! If this idea were Socialistic, it would not be approved of by the newspaper published under the shadow of the Vatican.”

The speaker was Father McCarthy, the parish priest of a neighbouring village; but now here are the expressions of one of his colleagues, Father Sheehy:—

“Have not all these people, the Thompsons, the X——s, retained all the best land of the country for already too long a time, my friends? And what is left for all of you?—the right to go and die of hunger in the workhouse.

“The office in which Mr. Thompson receives his slaves resembles a prison.

“He speaks to his tenants through his office-wicket, for he is a coward who has not courage to look them in the face.”

Now it is Mr. W. H. O’Sullivan’s turn. Mr. O’Sullivan is the spirit-dealer, the member of Parliament whom we met to-day.

“I am going to read you some clauses from the lease they are trying to impose upon some of the tenants in the neighbourhood. This is a very interesting document, judge for yourselves:

[Pg 273]

“First, it is stipulated that the tenant cannot plough either of his fields without the landlord’s written permission. (Groans.) It then says that each year the farmer must lay down in grass a certain portion of the land which is given him in plough. (Violent groans.) The next clause forbids the tenant to sell his straw or hay. Everything should be consumed on the farm. (Explosion of murmurs.) Then come the following items [bonds]:—The tenant must preserve all the buildings given to him in their present condition, he is forbidden to let any of the outbuildings as dwelling-houses; he must keep and give them up in good repair; lastly, the taxes are all to be paid by him.” (Prolonged murmurs, cries, and howls.)

Oh! French landowners, unlucky brethren! Who amongst you, on consulting his lease, will not find, one after the other, all these clauses? When you discuss them with your tenants, does conscience warn you that you are committing an infamous act? I am a little reassured on the point, because for the last three or four years, the Government, which is the very essence of morality, since it is Republican, sends us every summer agricultural professors, who recommend us to transform all our lands into meadows.

After the meeting, Fathers McCarthy and McSheehy probably went home with Mr. O’Sullivan, and, whilst taking a glass of something on this honourable merchant’s counter, the three orators mutually congratulated themselves on their success. They had reason to do so in some respects. As rhetorical amplifications their speeches were pretty good. Only when they assert that they have nothing in common with the Socialists, is it[Pg 274] wise to tell two or three thousand peasants, all more or less doing badly in money matters, that their poverty is the result of Mr. Thompson and others detaining for such a long time the land that ought to be given to them?

I have only to continue reading the bundle to ascertain the effect produced. The newspaper cuttings are arranged in chronological order; unfortunately, they are not all dated. I cannot, therefore, give the dates quite precisely, but evidently very little time had elapsed between this meeting and the facts stated here.

This is what first happened at New Pallas. There is a farm about half a mile from the railway station, from which a man named Bourke had been sent away. The landlord could not find a new tenant; but since, every night, men ravaged his land, he demanded protection from the police. The authorities decided that they would erect a block-house, plated with sheet-iron, in which they could place a permanent garrison of five constables. The farm buildings were not sufficiently strong for their security.

The sheet-iron arrived at the station, but it was impossible to get it carried to the farm; no one in the country would undertake to do it. It was decided to obtain an artillery waggon from Dublin, and the accounts which reached the authorities denoted so much popular excitement that it appeared necessary to send an escort also. Half a battery of artillery started for the estate; a squadron of the 7th Hussars, one hundred and fifty men of the 9th Foot, and a detachment of constables, brought the effective total to five hundred men. They all met at the station after a[Pg 275] convergent movement, which did great credit to the military skill of the chief of the expedition, and succeeded in transporting an iron hut, that filled one cart, five-eighths of a mile! The Government newspapers loudly congratulated themselves on the success of the operation.

During this time a permanent garrison was established at Mr. Thompson’s. It at first consisted of seventy-five men, but after some time the numbers were reduced. They were not too much bored, for they had plenty to do. Every morning, four men and one corporal, all well armed, were ordered on duty to escort the milkmaid when she went to milk the cows. The detachment which proceeded to the station for letters and parcels, was commanded by a sergeant, and flanked the whole way. It was exactly like a besieged town. Still, the Land League sentinels never left the gate, and on their side watched with the greatest vigilance. Nevertheless, once or twice the blockade was run. A reporter of the Daily News, who came expressly from England to keep the readers of his paper well informed about the operations of the siege, thus describes it:—

December 25th, Christmas Day.—Yesterday evening, great excitement. Darkness had fallen upon us, when the dogs commenced to bark, and suddenly we saw a woman mysteriously issue from a clump of trees and approach the door, marching so softly that one might have fancied her a ghost! She carried hidden beneath her shawl an enormous Christmas cake, still hot, which a kind neighbour had sent us, but, naturally, I must not mention his name. We had obtained this windfall through his noticing, as he passed the gate, that the[Pg 276] sentinels’ watch was not nearly so keen as usual thanks, probably, to the numerous libations they had indulged in whilst celebrating the festival. He at once took advantage of the fact to entrust this brave little woman with the commission she so skilfully executed. I hope she was not seen during her retreat, for neither she nor her husband would then be able to remain in the country.”

It was on Christmas Day, 1880, that the Daily News reporter wrote this letter. From the 13th July, 1886 the Land League has ceased placing sentinels at Mr. Thompson’s gate, but the boycotting is still strong enough to prevent Miss McCarthy from selling him a leg of mutton. There is an improvement, but the improvement progresses very slowly.

I do not only find newspaper cuttings in the bundle. It also contains a file of letters; they are all signed “Captain Moonlight.” But this is a generic name, for the letters evidently come from different people. The Irish revolutionists are not revolutionists like ours. With us every generation insists on working in its own way. In Ireland, on the contrary, they are careful to conform exactly to the old customs. The stock-in-trade of accessories of every conspiracy that respects itself still includes the mask, the dagger, and the blunderbuss which are completely out of fashion amongst us since the time of the Carbonari of the Restoration. Anonymous letters are one of their dearest traditions. Landowners are continually receiving them. They invariably enumerate the different measures which will be adopted to hasten the unfortunate recipient’s departure from this life. It is imperative that a little explanatory[Pg 277] drawing should accompany the text, because they must guard against the possibility of the victim being illiterate. This necessity, imposed by custom, is evidently embarrassing even to the conspirators. It is a stumbling-block to those Captains “Moonlight” who have no talent for drawing. One of Mr. Thompson’s correspondents had, however, found an ingenious method of evading the difficulty. Here is a description of one of these documents. I am looking at it while I write:

At the head of the sheet of paper there is a drawing belonging to that naïve school which amongst us is especially reserved for illustrating Latin dictionaries with pierrot pendu (hanging clowns). However, we can easily distinguish that the first drawing represents a gun, with its bayonet. But below there is a combination of strokes and blots which it is absolutely impossible to make anything of. Happily the artist, obeying a sentiment of praiseworthy modesty, and understanding the deficiency of his talent, has put an explanatory note at the side of each vignette. By the side of the first there is in parentheses “gun;” at the right of the second, “bombshell.” The text at least, in default of other merit, had that of conciseness. It only consisted of two lines—

“Beware of the above, lads!
Ireland for the Irish!”

The author was probably proud of his work. However, we must own that the general effect would be better if the drawings were more intelligible. If I had the honour of being admitted into the councils of the Land[Pg 278] League I should suggest that instead of relying upon the artistic sense of inferior agents, they should distribute amongst them papers already engraved with pictures of coffins, cross-bones, guns, gibbets, and bombshells, since they appear to be the necessary accessories of a style of literature from which the League evidently expects great results, since it encourages it so much.

[Pg 279]



Here I must end these extracts from my travelling diary. Of what use could it be to continue noting day by day all that I saw in Ireland? Besides, the inquiry, summary as it is, to which I devoted myself, has left me with an impression of profound melancholy. Every one knows the traps in which one sees the captive mice beating against the wire that ornaments one of the extremities, and in their desperate efforts to obtain their freedom they thrust and wound themselves against the bars of their cage. On this side they see the light; here they fancy they have the best chance of escape. They can never succeed, for the door lies exactly at the other end.

The poor Irish—so interesting, so sympathetic—are a little like them. They, too, are exhausting their strength in despairing efforts to escape from a misery that is only too real; but for them, too, the way out is not on the side where they are seeking it.

When we see, on one hand, the great fermentation going on in the lower classes of the population, and, on the other, the Government utterly incapable of restoring[Pg 280] order, one is tempted to believe that a bloody revolution is about to break out. This seems to be the only logical solution which the situation admits of. Evidently, so they say, the heads of this powerful organisation which binds the whole country, wish to break out; they form their lists and keep their followers in working order. The daily skirmishes which one hears perpetually discussed can have but that end; they keep the hand in whilst waiting for action. As soon as a favourable opportunity offers, they will call the whole population of five million souls to arms; they are only waiting for the signal. An immense popular uprising will take place immediately, and if the English rule is to be re-established in the country, it will only be after a long and bloody war.

This reasoning appears well founded, because in Greece, in Poland, and everywhere that a conquering people have been unable to assimilate with the conquered, the same results have always followed. I am, however, quite convinced that it is absolutely false as regards Ireland. In every son of Erin there is the making of a conspirator. At all times conspiracy has been an element where they have been as much at their ease as fish in water. But amongst them a conspirator finds great difficulty in transforming himself into a rebel. Why is this? I cannot tell. It is certainly not for want of courage. As soldiers, the Irish have no need to prove their abilities. And yet we have only to consult their national history to perceive that of all the rebellions they have attempted not one has been serious. Towards the end of the last century, when Brittany and Vendée rose against the Republic, they had no resources of any kind, and they had to deal with a military power[Pg 281] that had routed all the armies in Europe. Six months later they placed 80,000 men in the field, who, at first armed with sticks, used them with such effect that at the end of a few days they were all armed with guns taken from their enemies. For some years they held in check all the forces that were sent against them. Towards the same date the Irish made several attempts at insurrection. One of them was even aided by a detachment of French troops being landed. The English sent very insignificant troops to oppose them. Yet after a few days they had overcome the insurgents without the latter being able to form a military force capable of resisting one battalion of infantry in the open field. If the Irish showed themselves so powerless when circumstances were all in their favour, what chance of success have they now?

But in order that a nation should throw itself headlong into a rebellion of this kind, it must have a definite object in view. Greece and Poland were determined to regain their independence, and knew what they would do with this independence if they succeeded in winning it. Now, unfortunately, it is very different with the Irish. Their political men are quite aware of the facts of the case. Independent Ireland is an impossibility.

First of all, whilst England possesses a soldier or a crown she will never consent to the separation. It is a question of life or death for her. Imagine a war with France and Ireland allied, what would become of her?

But there is another reason, and this is an economic one, why the Irish themselves will never push matters to extremities. They know perfectly well that the day after their independence was acknowledged, they must[Pg 282] either conquer England or else throw themselves upon her mercy. How could they support a separate State? They would require money to live with, and this money can only be found by selling their produce. Now if the English can buy the cattle, pigs and butter they require from all parts of the globe, the Irish themselves can only sell the cattle, pigs, and butter, which are their sole produce, in England; for they could hardly aspire to sending their pigs to Chicago or their butter to Isigny. They would be absolutely at England’s mercy.

As long therefore as they cannot transport their country some hundred miles further west, the Irish must be content and resign themselves to the fact that Ireland can only be an appendage to England. Equality between the two countries cannot exist. If the Irish succeeded in conquering England the seat of government might be at Dublin; the greater part of the taxes paid by the English would be spent there, in the same way that a large portion of Irish taxes are now spent in London. But until they feel strong enough to bring this great enterprise to a successful issue, they must bear their share of a situation which, after all, is not worse than that of the inhabitants of Bordeaux or Dijon, whose taxes are in a great measure spent in Paris.

It may be objected that without going as far as actual separation, which, in fact, no one asks for, because it is manifestly out of the question, they may ask, as Mr. Gladstone does, for a relative separation.

I have already stated at some length and several times in the course of this work, the reasons which lead me to believe that even with this amelioration a separation would be disastrous for Ireland; it would result in all[Pg 283] capital being withdrawn from Ireland, for it is now almost exclusively in English hands.

In my opinion Mr. Gladstone has been very wrong in encouraging the Irish to persevere in this absolutely false idea, that all their misfortunes are due to political causes, whilst in reality the terrible crisis they are passing through is only a result of the economic evolution which is taking place all over the world.

The burning question in this country which dominates every other is the question of land ownership. Ireland is a country of small cultivators. Let us first examine the question on the theoretical side.

Originally in all societies the land belonged to whoever would cultivate and enclose it; since it had no value no one enclosed more than he could cultivate himself, that is, very little, for their implements were very primitive. Small estates were therefore formed by the mere force of circumstances. In some countries, in France for instance, at least in a considerable portion of the territory, small estates have been preserved to the present time. This is very fortunate, for, from a social point of view, it is the most perfect system, and wherever it is possible to uphold it by law no hesitation should be shown about doing so.

Unfortunately from an economic point of view the system is utterly condemned. Agriculture is an industry like any other—one is always obliged to repeat this fact, because when one alludes to it this evident truth always seems forgotten. Now, in the present day, all industries are concentrated. Factories diminish in number but increase in importance. Those who cannot or will not submit to this necessity, disappear. A farm is a factory of meat and corn. Now, if all other things were equal, a[Pg 284] large farm would always produce more economically than a small one, because, as a rule, its expenses are less, and it has a more perfect apparatus for doing the necessary work. The smaller ones must therefore disappear.

And they are disappearing everywhere, even amongst us. In my opinion this is not even doubtful. The other day M. Yves Guyot asserted it in the Chamber of Deputies. He was right; property in France is becoming concentrated; we have but to look round us to be convinced of the fact. I may be answered that according to the returns of the tax-collectors the number of properties does not seem to be decreasing. This argument is not worth anything. How many landowners are there possessing property in fifteen or twenty communes? How many are there who, having by degrees bought ten or twelve lots in the same commune, ever gave themselves the trouble of uniting them in one return? The truth is that in all agricultural countries the peasants have ceased to buy land, and they are selling it wherever they find a great landowner willing to buy it. I, of course, except the vine districts from this statement.

The same phenomenon is noticeable in America, and still more conspicuously. The Government does everything in its power to form and maintain small properties; it distributes land to the emigrants by lots of 160 acres, forbidding them to sell it under five years. As soon as the five years are over the emigrants hasten to sell their lands, which are never seriously cultivated until twenty or forty lots are united in the same hands. Every American economist observes this tendency; it is universal. Wherever the laws do not intervene large estates are rapidly absorbing the smaller ones, because[Pg 285] the small ones cannot compete with the large, and if the laws intervene they are only efficacious in diminishing production. Except in a few privileged countries small farms must therefore disappear. Can Ireland boast of being one of the fortunate exceptions? Most evidently not! Then why create small farms in Ireland? or rather, since they already exist with all their drawbacks, why endeavour to maintain them by founding small estates, as the Land League is trying to do? It is aiming at impossibilities, for they can only succeed by destroying steamers, railways, and agricultural machinery all over the world.

We will now resume the discussion at the point where we left it. I said that only two systems of agriculture are known—the small and the great. Facility of transport and the perfection we have reached in agricultural tools have rendered small cultivation impossible nearly everywhere. Only the great remains. Let us now see under what conditions it is working. It requires great capital; besides, it evidently, like every other industry, has more chance of success when it is directed by competent men. Now the most competent men not being always those who have the most capital, the countries where agriculture would flourish best would be those, of course if all other things were equal, where a combination had been discovered which placed large capital at the disposal of the most competent men—those, to use a modern expression, where agricultural credit would be the best organised.

This question has attracted great attention. It is very difficult to solve, because no combination can be discovered which ensures that the capital directed into agricultural channels would find sufficient securities and[Pg 286] interest. But the real reason is that agriculture is already burdened with a first mortgage, for from time immemorial it has had recourse to credit, and if it has been able to struggle on until these latter times in spite of all the charges which crush it in countries belonging to the old civilisation, it is because there is an institution which has provided it with capital in such abundance and at such low rates of interest, that naturally no other organisation of agricultural credit can live by making needless repetition of its arrangements; this institution is rent. If it has so many detractors in the present day, it is because the people believe it to be of feudal origin, and above all because they do not consider the conditions under which it is working, nor the fate of agriculturists in countries where renting land is little or never practised.

Some weeks ago I was in a smoking compartment of the express train which goes from Chicago to New York. It was just at the time when Mr. Henry George, the celebrated Socialist, had offered himself as candidate for the New York mayoralty. The news had produced a great impression all over the United States. Mr. George, has, in fact, used his talent as a writer, which is really very great, for the diffusion of the most advanced opinions. He considers that since the soil has no value except through the labour that is spent upon it all the fruit of the soil should return to the labourer, the rent of the land, if there is one, being acquired as a right from the State. His system therefore leads to the absolute suppression of landed property, since the owner would soon tire of being only cashier to the State.

One of our travelling companions, a barrister from Minneapolis, commenced to talk. From his first words[Pg 287] it was easy to see that we were listening to an ardent partisan of Mr. George’s doctrines.

“Gentlemen,” said he, as he ended a long speech intended to celebrate the advantages of Socialism, “you know how all European nations are now situated. In England, in a great part of France, and particularly in Ireland, unfortunate wretches work like slaves to win harvests from the earth, harvests of which they are only allowed to retain just the amount absolutely necessary to keep them from dying of starvation, all the rest goes to maintain in idleness people who have only had the trouble of being born. It is private estates that have caused it all. It is because the earth, the common property of all mankind, has been unjustly monopolised by a few, that these infamous things have taken place. You will tell me that these things are only seen in Europe amongst nations of backward civilisation, but these private estates also exist amongst us, and if we do not guard against it we shall also feel the fatal consequences of the system here. Our agriculturists are already in the hands of capitalists, who will now only advance them money at fabulous interest.”

I had just finished my cigar, and thought that a discussion with the good man might be amusing.

“Excuse me,” I commenced, interrupting him, “in which State do you live then?”

“In Minnesota. But what is taking place in Minnesota is taking place in the other States too.”

“And what interest did you say agriculturists are obliged to pay for loans in these districts?”

“At one and a-half at least, and generally at two, and even at three, per cent per month.”

[Pg 288]

“Quite right! I know that. Now that wheat is only worth fifty cents the bushel the farmers make no profits; the capitalists feeling their money is in danger will no longer lend without high interest; but then, why do the farmers require money?”

“To build their houses, to drain, irrigate and plant, in fact, to put the land into order that the State gives them.”

“That is exactly what I wished to make you say. The State gives the land gratis: it is inalienable. Besides, in its present condition it is valueless. Then what security has the capitalist? In our country, land is not given gratuitously; but there are people who take, or who have taken, the trouble to drain it, to make fences, to build outhouses, and who then, not having the necessary aptitude for cultivating it, put the whole property into the hands of a professional farmer, on condition of receiving a very moderate rent in proportion to the amount of capital tied up in it. Mr. George pretends that it is the land that the landlord lets to his farmer. This is absolutely false. Suppose an earthquake or some other cataclysm destroyed one of our old French farms, demolished the buildings, effaced every trace of fence, plantation, farm roads, and drainage—forced the land, in fact, to return again to the state it was in two thousand years ago, in the time of the Druids, or to the condition of the land given gratuitously by your State to the emigrants in this country—I assert that to efface all the results of this disaster, such large sums must be spent that whatever rent might be asked for, even under the most favourable circumstances, that rent would only produce a nominal interest on the capital. It is then[Pg 289] not the soil that I let, but the result of the work and the capital that I and my predecessors have expended. I am in exactly the same position as the capitalist in Minnesota. I advance money to a professional farmer to enable him to earn his living by cultivating the land; only since I am owner of the land the farmer cannot carry off my security; I have, therefore, a good guarantee, I can be satisfied with a very small interest, which I could not be if I lived in Minnesota.

“One thing is certain, that owing to this association between capitalist and cultivator, which is called tenant farming, a farmer amongst us can retain as floating capital all his available money, on which he can make eight or ten per cent., whilst he only pays three or four per cent., and often less, for the sum, usually much greater, that the landlord places at his disposal in the form of buildings and fittings up of every kind. With our system, a labourer therefore obtains money at three per cent. per annum, with yours, they must pay three per cent. per month. And you think that we are the backward nation! Allow me, dear sir, to return the compliment.”

I never saw faces more astonished than those of fifteen or twenty Yankees who listened to me, seated in arm-chairs, their feet in the air. Then happened one of those incidents that appear so odd, and which, however, are so common now that every one travels. A young man, whom I had not noticed, approached me from the end of the compartment.

“Sir,” he said, “for the last few minutes I seem to recognise you. Did you not speak in public last year at Tergnier upon the subject you have just been explaining?”

[Pg 290]


“I thought so. I was there. I am Irish; I had just finished my studies at Juilly, and I had been passing my holidays with the father of one of my comrades, who was a farmer in the neighbourhood. Now I live with my father, who is an architect at Saint Paul, Minnesota. It therefore happens that I am well acquainted with the situation in both the countries we are discussing, and allow me to say that I am certain you are perfectly right.”

The young man’s intervention secured a complete triumph for me. I was particularly pleased, because Mr. George’s partisan himself at once said, in the most pleasant way:

“Well, stranger, I own I never thought of looking at the question from that point of view. I don’t own myself beaten yet, but I’m shaken.”

In justice to the Americans, I must own that they always display the most perfect courtesy and good faith in these discussions.

I am convinced that the thesis I maintain is perfectly correct. If European agriculture, crushed with taxes and burdens of all kinds, has been able to struggle for so long against the competition of new countries, it is simply owing to the abundance of capital placed at its service by the system of renting the land. Particularly now that the struggle, if it is possible at all, is only possible through the aid of large sums of money, it is the worst of follies to believe that in breaking the tie that binds the capitalist and the farmer so closely together, they can ameliorate the situation. This is true of Ireland more than of anywhere else.

This, however, is the aim that the National League[Pg 291] proposes to itself. The most curious thing is that, in the end, their success will, in reality, only benefit the landlords.

What, in fact, is now passing all over Europe? Land has lost nearly all its value. The future is so dark that in France, as everywhere else, one cannot find one landowner in a hundred who would not be too happy, if not to sell all that he possesses, at least to ease his position in a great degree, if he could obtain a reasonable price for his land. And this is the time that the League chooses to propose dispossessing the landlords by giving them sums of money equal to their actual income, multiplied at least by fourteen, at most by twenty. How can they procure the necessary money for such an operation, that is to say, several milliards? By borrowing. If the Irish Budget is completely distinct from that of the metropolis, and consequently the moneylenders know that they cannot rely upon England’s guarantee, I doubt whether they will display much eagerness. However, let us admit that this immense undertaking may succeed. What would be the result?

The fifteen or twenty thousand present landowners, of whom a great number are, until now, only retained in the country through the difficulty of leaving it, would hasten to emigrate at once; they would, therefore, no longer pay one penny of the old taxes, nor of the new taxes, which the Government would be forced to raise to meet the interest of the loan. From landowners, they would have all become fund-holders; instead of having the trouble of collecting rents that are very irregularly paid, they would be relieved by the State—which would simply have substituted itself for them—from all these expenses and all this annoyance.

[Pg 292]

The operation would certainly be most advantageous to them. But, I ask myself, what would the farmer gain when he was obliged to pay the tax-gatherer probably more than he now pays the agent? If one could foresee, in the near future, a great increase in the produce of the earth, one could understand their desire to become landowners, because they would benefit by this increase, whilst with the present arrangement it would be promptly followed by a rise in the rents. But, on the contrary, everything indicates that the depreciation in the price of land is far from having reached its lowest point.

They have therefore, in my opinion, everything to gain by remaining tenant farmers. Now, is it true that they have as much reason to complain of their landlords as they pretend? On that subject, too, I think there is a good deal to be said. Let us proceed as we have done before, and first examine the question from a theoretical point of view.

When we examine these things closely, we find that tenant farming has existed from the most distant times. It was the first application of the fertile principle of the division of labour. Some worked, whilst others fought to protect them. Formerly, the landowners were called lords, or seigneurs, and the farmers vassals; but, in reality, it was always an association between capital and labour with a view to the cultivation of the land. Only the difference of customs at that date caused the mutual obligations imposed upon each party to be much more numerous than they are now. For instance, the lord not only provided the land and the buildings, he was also forced to promise to provide as far as possible the security, without which the vassal’s enjoyment[Pg 293] of them would only be illusory. On the other hand, the vassal, besides his dues, also promised his personal service. A farmer therefore gained some advantage by taking lands in a seigneurie where they were dearly let, but where he hoped to dwell in more security than elsewhere. But, as compensation, the lord of the manor must often have consented to great diminutions in favour of a tenant who seemed likely to render, when required, good service as a soldier.

With the exception of a few trifling differences, the same arrangements were made all over Europe, in Ireland as elsewhere. When an Irish lord started for the crusades, or simply to make war upon one of his neighbours, he selected those of his vassals whom he wished to accompany him. If one of them refused, I fancy that no time was lost before “evicting,” if not before hanging him; and, according to the ideas of the period, he only received what he merited, since he had failed in one of the obligations imposed upon him by his lease. Customs have changed. Certain obligations, necessitated by the social state which then existed, have now ceased to be requisite. A landlord no longer guarantees his tenants personal safety. The police are charged with the duty. And in the same way a young Irish captain, whose regiment was ordered, three or four years ago, to go and fight Arabi Pasha, never thought of asking his tenants to reinforce his company if the effective total were incomplete. He contented himself with sending a recruiting sergeant to seek for the men he required in the neighbouring taverns, and he would most probably have even given him a smart reprimand had he enlisted one of his tenants’ sons. The farmers then owe absolutely nothing to their landlords[Pg 294] except the obligations which are freely discussed between them when the lease is signed, and very clearly stated in its clauses. They are so perfectly aware of their independence that they treat as tyrants those landlords who, at election times, claim to nominate a candidate whose opinions do not please them.

Would they like to return to the old customs? Evidently not. They wish that to be an impossibility. Then, if landlords and tenants no longer have, and never can have again, in strict law, any connection between them except that which, in all business, links the buyer and seller, what do these recriminations against the landlords, that now form the foundation of Irish literature, mean? The sole duty of a buyer is to be honest about the quality of the merchandise he offers for sale. Can a Kerry farmer pretend that where he leases seventy-five acres of peaty meadow, he expects to reap a harvest of pineapples? The truth is, that he knows the land quite as well as the landlord, perhaps even better. If he pays too much for it he can only blame himself and the competition of the other farmers. But it is absurd to reproach the landlord because prices are exaggerated.

If one considers the question from a strictly legal point of view, one cannot then even discuss the Irish tenants’ complaints, for they have no foundation.

But the relations of men with each other cannot be only based upon strictly legal rights. There is a sentiment of a higher order, which some call charity and others humanity, and which must also be taken into account. Therefore, a really honourable man would never take advantage of the circumstances that had[Pg 295] placed another at his mercy in order to force him to accept a ruinous bargain. Have the majority of Irish landlords profited by the competition to raise their rents unreasonably, as they are so often reproached with doing?

It is naturally impossible to answer this question in a general way. When we reflect on the enormous and regular increase in the price of meat which has characterised the last fifteen or twenty years, and which, until a quite recent date, was apparently unlimited, we must maintain, like the Irish landlords still do, that the rents have not been excessively high. It must be remembered that Irish leases are much longer than our own. They usually include three lives; that is to say, that the landlord renounces the right to raise the rent until the death of the would-be tenant’s grandson. It was therefore quite natural that, remembering the rise in prices, by which he had not profited, the landlord should exact a rent which might in some cases be exaggerated, in consideration of current prices, but which would have seemed reasonable had the rise continued. The misfortune is that prices have fallen, and therefore a reduction of rent is absolutely necessary.

But it is quite certain that until these last few years the farmers were doing well. The proof is, that when for some reason or other they wished to retire, they always managed to sell their leases, and sometimes to sell them very dearly. And even now they find buyers. I was given numerous instances of this fact. Mr. Henry George, the Socialist of whom I have already spoken, himself acknowledged, that “Irish land is generally let below the price that the landlords could obtain if it were put up to auction and they consented[Pg 296] to let it to the highest bidder without regard to persons.” He even quoted an article in the Nineteenth Century, in which a well-known Irish economist, Miss O’Brien, states that the sub-tenants generally pay the leaseholders twice the amount for the land that the latter give to the landlords. This fact established, we must still acknowledge that certain landlords, particularly those who seek to sell, have sometimes profited, at a moment when the majority of the leases were drawing to a close, by suddenly raising the rents in a formidable manner. This transaction has been carried out by speculators or by creditors on mortgage, who have taken possession. It has rarely been done by hereditary landowners. However, there is one well-known man who is accused of having, with the aid of one of his brothers, doubled in one year all the rents on an estate which he had just inherited, and of having immediately sold it to an English manufacturer for a price based on the new rental. This man is Mr. Parnell, the chief of the Land League. Knowing the usual inaccuracy of accusations inspired by political passions, I was much inclined to doubt the truth of this one. However, the incident has been vouched for by so many of Mr. Parnell’s neighbours, so many details respecting it have been quoted to me, that it appears difficult to believe that there is not some foundation for it.

When we examine facts closely we find then that in nine cases out of ten, when an unfortunate man is spoken of as rack-rented to death, it is of a sub-tenant they are speaking, not of a farmer. The Irish farmer, on whose fate so much pity is wasted, is in reality more often than not a frightful jobber; and it would be well to remember that, in spite of all the laws that are made[Pg 297] to prevent it, in spite of the formal clauses contained in most of the leases, there are very few farmers who do not contrive by different combinations, to find five or six poor fellows who give themselves up to him, bound hand and foot, so great is their desire to have a few acres of bad land. This is the case of a man whose cabin I visited at Derrygariff; and there are in Ireland two or three hundred thousand men who are in the same position.

When a farmer thinks of hiring a farm he should always, before closing the agreement, consider the following argument: “If my wife, my children, and I, placed ourselves in service our united salaries would amount, for instance, to a sum of 80l. Besides, I have money invested which brings me in another 40l. If I take a farm, it is evidently not in order that I should lose money by it. It must therefore bring me in a minimum of 120l., that is to say, the difference between the sum I can reasonably draw from it, in good and bad years, and the rent I have to pay, must amount to more than 120l., since in this difference will lie my profits. I must therefore estimate as exactly as possible what the average of this income will be, and when once I know it I shall be able to judge what I can offer the landlord, who on his side should make an analogous calculation. If his claim is so high that I cannot hope to regain the 120l. per annum that represent my work and the interest of my capital, I will leave him his farm and search for another!”

Things would go better if every one reasoned in this way. The Irish landlords would not let their farms too dearly, for the excellent reason that no one would give[Pg 298] them more than they are worth, and the tenants would not insist upon keeping seven or eight of their children and their families on a farm already too small for themselves. As for those who are unable to obtain a farm, they would not seek a sub-tenancy without any guarantee of tenure and for which they pay two or three pounds per acre, while the farmer only pays one pound to his landlord—when he pays him at all. Only fathers will not be separated from their children; others will not resign themselves to emigration; the population is constantly increasing and the number of farms is rather diminishing, so, whilst the number of those who wish for land augments, it is quite natural that prices rise.

How can Mr. Gladstone and the Land League seriously believe that they can remedy this state of things by political or legislative measures? One proof that the laws can do nothing for it is that there is no country in the world where the law is already so favourable to the tenant. It can never hold the balance equal between him and the landlord. Thus, even if there is a lease, the tenant has always the right of leaving his farm, by giving six months’ notice in advance, and yet he cannot be sent away from it. That is to say that he profits by all the good luck, without any of the risks of his bargain. A law was passed five or six years ago which entails still more extraordinary consequences. It gives the tenant the right to undertake, on his farm, under pretence of improvements, any work he chooses to attempt, and imposes upon the landlord the obligation to repay him the whole value, if at the end of the lease, he will not renew it at the same rent, or he wishes to send away the tenant. Some years ago one of my acquaintances let a field situated near the[Pg 299] town, to a butcher in Limerick. The lease formally stipulated that the field was to be retained in grass. But it happened that through the increase of population, the town extended on that side. The butcher determined to build a house in the field, which would bring him a good profit. To get rid of him now, it is necessary to pay him for this house, and yet his rent cannot be raised! One might just as well have given the butcher the right of expropriation.

The Irish are always comparing their fate with that of Americans. I had the curiosity to inquire what the American law could be on the subject of rent. I commenced by making inquiries from several well-informed persons, and then by their advice I bought a small book, to which I would refer every one who wishes to be really edified, Every Man his Own Lawyer.

The results of these inquiries rather astonished me. In America there is no law that restricts the landlord’s rights. This is what Mr. George says on this subject—I like to quote him, because he is not suspected of sympathy for the social arrangements which prevail in Europe:—

“We must acknowledge that an aristocracy like that of the Irish landlords has the virtues as well as the vices peculiar to it. In their transactions its members often allow themselves to be influenced by considerations that would be valueless in the eyes of ordinary business men. An American who had land to let would only think of obtaining the highest possible rent. If he were told that humanity exacted that he should let it below the price he hoped to obtain, he would consider the proposal as strange as if his exchange[Pg 300] agent proposed to him to sell stock below the current price.”

Mr. Buckle, who has interested himself in these questions, considers that the rent in Ireland generally equals one-fourth of the gross produce. In California a great deal of the land is let for one-third of the gross produce, sometimes even at one-half. In the north-west of the United States the system of rent is definitively extended—the land is let for half the produce.

It is quite certain that if Ireland became an American State, the fate of Irish farmers would be infinitely more precarious than it now is. The political question has then a very minor influence in reality. The Irish population has been for a long time more miserable than the populations of other European countries, because in proportion to the resources of the country, it has always been much too numerous. And this disproportion between the number of the population and the resources which the country can provide, tends to become greater as the expenses necessitated by an ever-advancing civilisation become more considerable. A larger portion of these resources must be withdrawn to meet the general outlay. In the time of Fin M’Coul and the other Irish kings, there were, it is said, more inhabitants,[5] and there were certainly more cattle than there now are; but at that time the cattle in the country were only used to feed the inhabitants, while now, out of every ten oxen there is one that must be sold to pay the constabulary, another to pay the schoolmasters, a third to support the navy, and so on, so that,[Pg 301] in fact, only two or three are left as food for the inhabitants. This is no longer enough, and consequently the Irish are dying of hunger.

There are but two means of restoring the equilibrium. Increase the number of cattle. To do this, it is necessary to improve and drain the pasturage, and the landowners are open to reproach for not having done more in this direction; this is the most serious reproach that can be made of them; but we must acknowledge that whatever they may do the result could not materially influence the general situation. This can only be seriously ameliorated by a great diminution of the population. We feel some repugnance at this solution of the difficulty. But still, we have only to consult history to be convinced that from the earliest ages there have always been nations upon whom it was imposed.

The Germans threw themselves upon the Roman Empire because they had not enough to eat at home; it was hunger that drove the Normans to France. A hundred years ago the Scottish Highlanders literally died of starvation; they were conveyed in a body to Canada, where many of them have acquired large fortunes. It is unquestionable that they suffer much less in Ireland since they have only five million inhabitants instead of nine. However, they still suffer there, and it is because Ireland, in its present economic condition, cannot feed more than two or three million people, perhaps less.

But she could assuredly retain more if it were possible to create some industry. Unfortunately this seems very difficult. I am convinced that we are destined to see, in a very near future, a large number[Pg 302] of industries removed: all those dealing with materials that are neither produced nor consumed in the country, that is to say, the only ones which are possible in Ireland, which does not produce any raw material, and where the consumption is always very small. I believe that many of these industries, if not all, will be forcibly transported to other localities than those where they are now working, and that in choosing these localities the owners will be guided in a great measure by climatic considerations. Workmen of all countries evidently aspire to an equality of enjoyment. On the other hand, the facility of transport, the amalgamation of working apparatus, resulting from the diffusion of capital, impose upon masters the levelling of salaries. Now with equal salaries, men suffer more in cold damp climates than in dry warm ones. I add that they work less. This fact is well known in the French navy, for a ship built or repaired in Brest costs infinitely more than if the same work had been executed in the dockyards at Toulon. In Ireland, a workman must always spend more for his food, his firing, and the maintenance of his family, than if he lived in France or America. The workman’s associations, which are now multiplying on all sides, will soon reveal this disadvantage to him; he will demand an increase of salary and ruin his master.

I have therefore little faith in the resurrection of Irish industries. But what is impossible for private enterprise may be done by Government. I even think it may be considered a Government duty. The Irish landowners are reproached for their absenteeism, that is, for the habit of spending their income outside the country. If there is a landowner guilty of absenteeism[Pg 303] it is certainly the Government. For instance, the Irish coast is broken by a series of roads, each finer than the other. If England were to suppress one of her Channel arsenals and re-establish it in Ireland, the transfer would certainly cost her some money. But the money would be well spent, for it would enable some thousands of families to remain in the country, instead of being forced to expatriate themselves before long.

If the wish to obliterate the odious memories of the last century is not strong enough to induce England to engage in this task, there is another consideration which should make her reflect. Her power is wholly based on her colonial empire. Until now she has been able, without too much difficulty, to govern by force one hundred and fifty million Indians, and maintain the colonies of her own people in a state of political guardianship—Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. If she had not enough men to keep up the effective total of the sixty or eighty regiments that garrison India she would soon be driven from the country. The white population of the other colonies doubles itself every eight or ten years. When they have two or three times more inhabitants than the metropolis, is it probable that the legislative supremacy of the latter will be long maintained? It is therefore of vital importance to England to retain in Great Britain the largest population it can possibly support, and on this account the emigration of two or three million Irish would be a great misfortune for her.

In the first part of this study I related a few incidents of the crisis which now rages in Ireland. How will this crisis end? I believe in the most simple way in the world. The adoption of Mr. Gladstone’s Bill would[Pg 304] only have made things worse. The tenants would perhaps have imagined that they derived some advantage from it at first; but, as I have said, it is not the leaseholders of the farms who are really miserable, but the under-tenants, who are shamefully rack-rented by the farmers. But no one can do anything for them, since in their eagerness to obtain the land they will accept any combination proposed to them, in order to evade the law, which forbids sub-letting. I therefore believe that Mr. Gladstone’s defeat was a good thing for Ireland.

The Government’s first duty is to re-establish material order, and this can only be done by suppressing the jury. The Times already speaks of it. There would certainly not be an uprising, or if there were, it would not be of any importance.

Rents would fall enormously, as they have already done all over Europe, and agriculture would disappear almost entirely, to give place to cattle-breeding.

Many signs prove that this will be the way a settlement will be arranged. It is first the enormous subsidies sent from America, and secondly the support given by the clergy, that have made this crisis so important and the League so powerful. Now the Americans begin to tire of it. After my return from Ireland I made a tour in the United States, and I can affirm that this sentiment is becoming visible. At a great Irish meeting held at Chicago whilst I was there, one of the orators ventured to say, that if the millions of dollars sent to Ireland were only used to pay for firing an occasional shot at a landlord from behind a hedge, the results were not in proportion to the sacrifices made, and the audience seemed to agree with his opinion. I[Pg 305] have every reason to believe that lately the American subsidies have greatly diminished.

I fancy also that the clergy are only waiting for a good opportunity to withdraw from the League. The other day, Mr. Harrington, at Killarney, had already uttered some words which seem to indicate that politicians are beginning to fear something of the kind. The clergy entered the League in spite of themselves; the movement first showed itself with so much violence that had they left its exclusive direction in the hands of the politicians, they would have run the risk of compromising, at least for a time, all their popularity. But the Catholicism of many of the Irish-Americans, whose alliance they were forced to submit to, is so doubtful, that it is easy to foresee that the cause of religion will not gain anything from their triumph. I am quite convinced that the clergy will not long defer separating themselves from the League.

The movement itself may yet last for some time, but it will gradually become weaker. Everything depends on the rapidity with which emigration is conducted. Now, I believe it will be speedily carried out. Formerly, the Irish would not leave the country until they had absolutely no means of staying there. I always thought that they emigrated pretty willingly; but I was mistaken with regard to the past. Now, on the contrary, all the young men only think of expatriation. An Australian ex-official, who has retired about fifteen years, and is living in the county of Limerick, pointed out to me this change of feeling in the population. Every Irishman who leaves for Australia or the United States does more towards the solution of the crisis than Mr. Parnell’s finest speeches; for, in[Pg 306] diminishing the number of competitors for the land, he lowers the price of farms, and the whole question is answered!

Mr. Parnell, and all the otherwise honourable men who give him their assistance, will not then succeed in re-establishing the independence of Ireland, nor in modifying to any visible extent the present political situation. We are convinced that after some years, when they see peace and relative prosperity restored to their country, they will not regret that they failed to carry out their programme; for we do them the honour to believe that they would be more contented with an arrangement that secured, as far as possible, the amelioration of their fellow-countrymen’s fate, than with the egotistical satisfaction which a momentary success would give them. If their only aim was to obtain revenge by the ruin of England for all the injuries she inflicted upon their fathers, they would certainly have some chance of success in continuing the struggle. But it is only too evident that instead of profiting by the downfall of English power, Ireland could only be crushed by the wreck.

So many sacrifices, so much devotion—have they all been expended to no purpose? Assuredly not. The shock given to Irish society by exposing all its misery has certainly assisted in ripening the question, of hastening its solution, and consequently of shortening the sufferings of all that too numerous class of the population who persist in remaining in their native land, although that land can no longer nourish them. A second Ireland already exists in America; a third will soon be founded in Australia or elsewhere. In the prosperity that they have found will the Irish retain[Pg 307] the religious faith, the morality, and the gaiety, which have supported and consoled their fathers through so many years of oppression and misery? Unfortunately, we are not quite sure. These fine qualities, which seem inherent in the race, receive very severe blows when it quits its native soil. Let us at least hope that they will be perpetuated amongst those who remain in the Emerald Isle, and that travellers will be able to continue paying them the homage that I have done when returning from a visit to Paddy at Home.



[5] I scarcely believe this, but the Irish like to assert it.

[Pg 308]

Richard Clay and Sons,
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Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.