Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

common

sense

as

mons.

tion of Ireland, and that it was When Kavanagh told the House equally the duty of the Govern- of Commons, in 1875, that the ment to repress both. There is, Irish people, with all their faults, however, but little to record of were not wanting in gratitude," Kavanagh's parliamentary career. he never thought he should live to Considering how rarely he spoke, see the day when all his good and that he never spoke at all on

deeds at Borris would be forgotany question of first-rate import- ten, and all his confidence in Irish ance, it is surprising what an im- sincerity and loyalty annihilated. pression he left behind him. It is For Ireland, however, Kavanagh the impression created by such men was able to do pretty nearly as as Mr Henley and Mr Bouverie- much out of doors as he could men whose integrity, sagacity, and have done in the House of Comraise them

Mr Gladstone's Land Act much above the level of the rank- of 1881 created a new sphere for and-file as the leaders of parties his activity. He had supported are above themselves; who are in such parts of the first Land Act reality statesmen of the second as he thought, under existing cirrank, and practical administrators cumstances, might be the lesser of of the first.

two evils, thus showing himself no In 1877 his eldest son came of enemy to exceptional legislation age, and this was the last occasion when necessary. But the second in which he and his tenantry met he denounced in terms which cartogether in the old spirit. Ten ried conviction to every impartial years sufficed to ripen the crop

mind. If we quote one passage which was sown in 1870. Agita- from a speech made at the Rotunda tion, soon to culminate in such on a phase of the question which terrible disorders, was already has long since become ancient hispractically triumphant. And the tory, it is only because a disposibond between landlord and tenant, tion has been manifested to apply who had once been so proud of the same principle to the Tithe each other, was dissolved for ever.

question. At the general election of 1880, the two Conservative candidates

“It has been announced,” he said, were at the bottom of the poll cording to the value of the land itself

,

“ that the rent is to be fixed, not ac-Kavanagh, who fourteen years but according to the capability of the before had polled upwards of occupying tenant to get value out of 4000 votes, obtaining only 710. it. The extravagance of such a prinHis own tenants, who had prom-ciple is too glaring to require comised to support him, all turned ment. A holding may be of the best against him, and lighted bonfires description, the land of the richest to celebrate his defeat. Yet these quality, with every facility for realwere the men whom he had loaded ising its productiveness. It may be

that these very facilities were conwith benefits; on whose farms he ferred by the landlord's expenditure. had spent thousands of pounds But according to this new theory, if it without asking or expecting inter- be held by a drunkard, a thriftless, est; to whose families, in sick- idle, or slovenly tenant, who fails to ness or in health, in prosperity or

work the holding to profit, the landadversity, he had shown the most

lord is to get nothing out of it. A unwearied kindness; with whom

direct premium is held out to all

kinds of extravagance, by which it he had lived and worked for a quar- would not be difficult for the tenant ter of a century on terms of the to arrive at the stage of not paying greatest confidence and cordiality! any rent at all:

“We have another announcement fiscation, and an unwarrantable and not a whit less extraordinary in the arbitrary interference with rights of case of a tenant holding a rich bit of property which the circumstances meadow-land in the vicinity, I think, could in no sense justify.” of the city of Limerick.

It was proved that the land had been of

His great work at this time, considerable value from its fertility. however, was the Land CorporaBut this went for nothing on the tion, of which he gave a full aclandlord's behalf, because it was count in a letter to the Times' proved for the tenant that by taking of June 24, 1882. On the 17th of excellent crops off it year by year, March following, the Company was without putting a single bit of manure on it, he had completely exhausted it. registered, and the effect was inThe rent was reduced to the value, stantaneous. The object of it was I believe, to which the tenant had by to counteract the operations of his wanton and, I might almost say, the League, and this it was prohis malicious conduct, deteriorated it.” posed to do by the formation of

a fund for the cultivation of dereKavanagh was a member of the lict lands-lands, that is, for which Bessborough Commission appoint- the owner could find no occupier ed in July 1880, and he sent in a in consequence of League intimiseparate report which we have at dation. The Corporation would full length in an appendix. It is either advance him the money extremely interesting, and testifies wherewith to cultivate it himself, to the firm grasp of the subject or take it off his hands and farm which Kavanagh possessed, as well it for him. If necessary, they as to the breadth and liberality of would buy it. It might be asked his views, and the openness and how they could procure labour; flexibility of his mind. He thought but it is to be noted that Kavathat the Act of 1870 did not give nagh, in his Bessborough Report, quite enough security to the ten- comments on the fact that the ant; and though he was irrecon- genuine agricultural labourer in cilably hostile to fixity of tenure, Ireland had little in common with he thought that the principle of the farmers either small or great. free sale might be further ex- There was therefore no difficulty tended wherever it did not inter- on that score. The mere threat of fere with the claims of justice handing over the land to the or with the moral authority of Corporation was often enough the landlord, to which he con- to bring the tenant to his senses ; tinued to attach great importance. and in a letter to Mr W. H. To this end the landlord was to Smith in September 1888, Kahave “a veto on an objection- vanagh gives some examples of able incoming tenant,” and in its working which inspire him districts

with good hopes for the future.

Tenants were beginning to come " where enormous sums have been

forward on several estates for the spent by the landlords in improving evicted farms, even on less favourtheir properties-on some few properties it has been proved that the able terms than were offered them English system exists in its purity, in the beginning of the struggle. the landlords having made all the im- In fact, all Kavanagh's belief in provements—and on holdings where

the possible regeneration of his tenant right formerly existed and has

country was founded on what he been bought up by the landlord, instances of which ħave been proved, beld to be an indisputable fact, -its extension or re-establishment namely, that there were two Irewould in my opinion be simple con- lands, of one of which the outside

world knew very little, and two peasant - proprietors on a large sources of discontent, political and scale with the maintenance of an social, entirely distinct from each order of landed gentry, which it is other. We have no space to perfectly clear that Kavanagh had quote his statement at any length, no thoughts of giving up. From but it is of the greatest interest, an unpublished paper composed in taken in connection with the ob- 1883, from another written at the jections now raised to the Govern- Carlton just after the election of ment Land Purchase Bill. He 1886, and seen only by a few seems to have believed that if friends, and from the letter adthe pressure of intimidation was dressed to Mr W. H. Smith in once taken off, the orderly classes September 1888, we may glean would be found far more numer- his general views, though it is imous than has been supposed, even possible to say whether the particamong the lowest grades of the ular difficulties foreseen by writers people ; that they would show on the Irish question at the present themselves amenable to reason, moment had presented themselves and ready to wait while the scheme to his mind. In England or in any in hand for creating a large class other country where the growth of of yeoman proprietors was gradu- peasant - proprietorship is left to ally working itself out. This is natural causes, the process is injust what the critics of the Bill evitably gradual, and creates no deny, and what, judging only from further disturbance in the land past experience, it might seem system of the country than is difficult to believe. Yet Kava necessary to promote a healthy nagh had all the qualities required circulation. The class above is in a first-class witness,-complete constantly recruited from among knowledge of the subject, perfect the fittest of the class below. honesty of purpose, and the sound Such men are very likely to amass judgment and powers of calcula- money, and to add acre to acre tion which he had displayed in so till they accumulate a small estate. eminent a degree in the manage- Where the owners of land are ment of his own estate. A resi- miscellaneous, and buy it for a dent Irish proprietor for thirty- variety of reasons, there will alfive years, with all the sympathies, ways be sellers ; and thus the traditions, and prepossessions of danger of subdivision is counterhis own order; the lineal descen- acted as fast as it arises. But dant of an ancient and warlike where a class of petty farmers is race, with all the instincts of an created by artificial means; where aristocrat, -he was not likely to the growth is forced by State asrecommend anything calculated to sistance; where the occupier is subvert the system of which him- turned into an owner, not because self and his ancestors had been he is fit to be a proprietor, but the creators and defenders, which because he is unwilling to be a had worked so beneficially in his tenant; where the owners of the own hands, and to which he him- land would all belong to one class, self was still devotedly attached. with no other prospects in life

We must suppose, therefore, than what is afforded by it, -the that the great problem to be is

very different indeed. solved in connection with the Under the one system the tenIrish land question did not seem deney is always towards consolto him insoluble—and that is, how idation, in the other towards subto combine the establishment of division. In the one there is change, variety, and progress; in speeches of Mr John Morley, “that the other immobility and stagna- the powers of the State will not tion.

case

be much longer used to enforce Moreover, under the artificial payments of rent, and that by system you do not get a picked obtaining money from the State class who have raised themselves to purchase their holdings, they by their own merits, and whose would be exchanging a liability success nobody grudges. You get which they would be forced to men with no claim to such good meet for one which they would fortune beyond their fellows,- not.” Hence he sees the chief to which all, therefore, will seem impediment to the working of equally entitled, and which all, any such scheme, not more in therefore, will equally demand. the unwillingness of landlords to Now it is a remarkable fact that sell than in the unwillingness while advocating a wide extension of tenants to buy, and talks of of the Land Purchase system, compulsion being applied to these Kavanagh insisted on the neces- last. Any way, however, we sity of its being gradual. Any are only landed in this dilemma sudden or sweeping change would, — namely, that if the tenant did he thought, be very dangerous. It jump at the proposal, there would is plain, therefore, that he must be an ugly rush, and that if they either have overlooked such con- hung back nothing would be done. siderations as the aforesaid, or But Kavanagh himself declined to have thought such apprehensions be nailed to either of these altergroundless.. No doubt there is natives. He believed that means this to be remembered, that all might be found of inducing the his ideas on the subject of land tenants to purchase, without crepurchase were based on the indis- ating any dangerous discontent pensable condition that the orderly among those who were obliged to classes should be efficiently, uni- wait, without necessarily comversally, and permanently protect- pelling the landlords to part with ed. But by these means he seems to their estates, and, last but not have still thought it possible that least, without any financial risk the better class of sentiments sur- to the State. The tenants must viving in the Irish people would be convinced that they had no furhave room secured for their ex- ther concessions to expect. Subpansion and development, till in division might be guarded against time they had leavened the whole by reserving to the State or the population, and made the trade landlord some powers of intervenof the agitator worthless.

tion. The landlords, when they inforces this argument by referring pleased, instead of parting with the to the efforts of the Land League fee-simple, might grant long leases to prevent tenants from buying, or “perpetuities,” and the State knowing that the general success

would have excellent security. of the Land Purchase Act would

“In the first place, it would have the be fatal to themselves. But noth- fee-simple of the land bought. In the ing could be done—he admitted second, it would have the value of the that—unless the Irish people were

tenants' interests, evidence of which convinced that they had got to the is afforded by the enormous prices bottom of England's concessions.

still paid for tenant-right.' People

who would lightly forfeit the posses6. There is,” he writes in 1886, sion of land would not be so eager to va growing belief in the minds acquire it as the prices they pay for of the tenants,” based upon some it prove them to be. As each suc

He re

ceeding instalment was paid to the of the law, and continuity in the State by the occupier, his acquired government of the country.

He interest in the land would be in- would have substituted for the creased, and he would be the more unwilling to lose it by default. If the present Lord Lieutenancy a peroccupiers were satisfied that a speedy manent Viceroy, independent of and irredeemable eviction would fol- all parliamentary changes; and the low the non-payment of the yearly appointment to such a post of a instalments, the necessity of the State member of the Royal family would, having recourse to such would, save

he thought, have an excellent effect. in very exceptional cases, at once cease.

It may occur perhaps to some To provide against these, I would sug people that if we could only have gest a system of mutual responsibility, such a system as this

, we should so that all living within a certain area would become mutually responsible want no Land Purchase Acts. for each other's payments : all sym- With it or without it, however, pathy with defaulters would thus be Kavanagh thought the experiment put an end to, and the other occupiers 'worth trying—and that is perhaps of the area affected would, in their all that its warmest advocates own interests, endeavour to find a solvent substitute or purchaser for a

could say for it. holding rendered vacant by the action

We should not omit to add that of the State in enforcing payment. Mrs Steele has given us a most inThe most powerful weapon in the teresting letter, addressed by Mr Land League policy would thus be Kavanagh to Mr Goschen in Demade inoperative."

cember 1885, on the cattle trade It is much to be assured that, and cattle breeding of Ireland, with his knowledge of the Irish showing in the clearest colours the people and the condition of Irish suicidal character of the land agiagriculture, with his sound judg- tation. The cattle trade is the ment, temperate disposition, and main branch of Irish agriculture, great capacity for business, all If the quality of Irish store cattle united with strong conversative had been sustained, the foreign and aristocratic instincts, Kava- stores would hardly have been nagh regarded the prospects of looked at. That quality has not such a

as the present been sustained, because the means Government have brought for- by which the best sires of all kinds ward with a favourable eye. At were secured for breeding purposes the same time, he founded his have been destroyed. These means hopes of its success chiefly on the were the agricultural shows, at permanence of conditions which which prizes were offered for the cannot be otherwise than preca- best animals, amid keen competirious, and on a change in our tion. Now the landlords are immethod of administration to poverished and cannot subscribe which it would take some time to these societies, and the farmers for the English people to become are told that shows are landlord accustomed. IIis demand was for institutions, and that they ought continuity, continuity, continuity to have nothing to do with them. -continuity in the administration So down goes the Irish cattle trade.

measure

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

« AnteriorContinuar »