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casy. But, when out and free once more in the
soon she might say, all right ahead: for some
(To be concluded in the next Number.)
IRELAND IN REVOLUTION.
[We publish the following remarks on Ireland, without concurrring in several of them, such as those relating to Poor Laws, Churches, and some other matters.]
THE calamity now devastating Ireland is cha- | that the measures suggested by British statesmanracterized by many features that stand out among ship itself, indeed, at best, only moving unall its multiplex forms of desolation, stamping steadily towards the truth-have, in several init as peculiarly IRISH, and proclaiming the nature stances, been pared down, and in others, forced and cause of the evils afflicting that country, in on something alarmingly like injustice to this language which not the dullest can misunder-country, BY THAT VERY IRISH PARTY, from whom aid ought to have come." There are unhappily stand. many circumstances connected with the relations of Ireland to this country, which, in ordinary times, should induce one rather to lament and
It is a fact so unmistakable, that already the attention of many countries besides our own is fixed on it, and withal so pregnant and momentous, that it must be recorded by History--that harassed and horror-struck though we are by the visible appearance and hideous progress of DEATH among that unhappy people, not one practical suggestion regarding the overcoming or mitigation of its misery, or its future prevention, has, up to the present moment, been offered us by IRELAND HERSELF;-nay, on the very contrary,
The so-called IRISH PARTY is now dissolved. During the period that has elapsed since the paper in the text was written, its assumed functions have come to a close. And what were these? Any pretended proposal for the relief of Ireland? Any show, even of kindness, towards the pensantry? Not one! Hear it, ye Repealers of Ireland-your banded chiefs exhausted their power in soliciting Lord John Russell to pass no Poor-law which should give outof-door relief! When they had altered this, their breath was spent, and—they expired!
tial part in the unfolding of human affairs. That unseen and inscrutable end towards which human society, or the condition of man upon the earth, is unceasingly travelling, is being worked out, not so much by sagacity and conscious design, as by an imperious overruling necessity; and there are times when, through the unbalanced culture of some portions of the social fabric, or through the growth of powers and influences which statesmanship cannot manage, disorders arise, not comprehended by any theory; and whose adjustment is accomplished by the effort of the wronged instincts to avenge themselves against theory, and to achieve a free field for their development.
marvel at, than severely to condemn, impracti- | appear hitherto to have played a grand and essencable and grotesque political action; but, in the presence of those sternest realities, of those loudest demands for succour that humanity can ever make, the preservation of silence and the restriction of activity to a careful guardianship of Self, amounts to an abnegation either of the power or the will on the part of the Higher Orders to reckon the Poor Man's cause as their own; and emphatically demonstrates the inveterate and practical existence of the gravest of all social disasters. It is possible that a fact even so glaring may not be accepted by the honourable Member for Limerick, whose powers of perception are avowedly peculiar; but we believe that it has added the last bitterness to the languishing hours of a man more penetrating and powerful in intellect than all Irish parties besides-the veteran O'Connell.
Unhappily, the people of England-unhappily, we mean, for their right appreciation of the condition of Ireland-are placed in the most unfavourable position possible, for comprehending that any revolutionary motion in the present instance could have a right direction. The distribution of property, according to the strictest rules of economic science, even including those feudal absurdities-entail and primogeniture--has wrought so well, or rather wrought so little ill, in this Saxon country, and the existing mode of managing it has been found so consistent with the general well-being, that public opinion on this side the Irish Channel has fallen into two very grave errors-the first being that the Right of Property is an absolute and not a relative or conventional Right; and, secondly, that the mode in which it is operative here ought, therefore, to suit well everywhere—including our neighbouring Ireland. Now, in the first place, the right of property never was held as an absolute right by any people, savage or civilised -the English among the number. For, to speak only generally
Though possibly now observed by many for the first time--and observed now, because pressed on the world's notice as an undeniable truth-it ought long ago to have been the clearest among received political axioms, that Ireland has reached the worst stage of social disorganization --that the usual bonds of society are now extinct in that island-that rich and poor stand towards each other in a position of unconcealed hostility --that landlord and tenant have neither common purpose nor conservative relationship-in short, that at this moment the population there, would have found the solution of their accumulated and overwhelming difficulties in a REVOLUTIONARY CRISIS, had that not been rendered impossible by the presence of the bayonets of England. Now, no man with any heart or feeling can question that, as inseparable concomitants of Revolution, there are calamities so horrible, and transgressions of every fundamental humanity so revolting, that no price almost is too dear to pay, if, by the sacrifice, such terrors may be averted; but it ought not to be concealed, especially in a case like that with which we are dealing, that a question of profound import must be examined, ere we venture to felicitate our agency either on its beneficence or ultimate success :-Has the Revolution been averted by the removal of its cause, by the destruction or permanent abatement of the evils which brought a nation to the brink of it; or does the disease remain—is the incompatible, the incongruous Society only compelled by foreign force to seem to endure? If England has, by the latter mode--partly acting by force, partly by momentary acts of benevolence-arrested now the natural course of affairs in Ireland, then, indeed, she has cradi-or, graver still, when the possession of large estates cated no disease, but only hindered a fever from evolving itself the disorganization being preserved withal, which, in the arrangements of nature, it was the function of the fever to throw off. Life, in such a case, cannot result, nor aught worthy of the name-nothing better than a prolonged dying, or continuation of existence amid elements and circumstances where positive death had been a beneficence. It is a truth of import, in every respect awful, which should never pass from the thoughts of Statesmen, that Revolutions
what, in the long run, is its ultimate, and, therefore, its only true security? Certainly, the contentment of the nation, or, what is the same thing, the general well-being. The safeguard of accumulated property of any description, is simply the fact, and the general persuasion of it, that the existence of such property ensures to the mass of the people an amount of those higher enjoyments which separate the civilised life from the savage, and which, therefore, compensate for the restraints and abnegation of personal liberty, demanded by Society. Who can have forgotten the vehemence even of our protestation for these principles, when some opposite maxim was propounded by a foolish Lord of Clumber, when a Duke of Leeds claimed the mountains of Lochnagar as his preserves,
became a means of religious persecution? The time is not far distant when the entire free press of England followed up the celebrated warning so prophetically given by Mr. Drummond to Irish Landlordism; and, therefore, it is not permitted us, to hold now by the reverse-that property may have its rights while denying its duties. Having accepted the great principle in face of the world, we must abide by its realisation; and the barbarism of Ireland must be altered to its roots, until Society, there as here,
Freed from the delusions incident to our position, we shall come with less difficulty to a right consideration, and probably a right conclusion, regarding our functions at this great crisis. Placed by providence, as insuperable barriers to the horrors of an actual Irish revolution, we have to ask how, by realising its beneficent issues, or destroying the evils that have prepared for it, we can give a stability-a real and not legal basis to the society of that country. Now, no man can doubt, that the issue would here be the immediate abolition of great landlordism, and the institution of a multitude of independent holdings. The existing relations of the agricultural population-which are those of a peasant community— being fitted to this condition and no other-it would certainly and swiftly result from a political and social otherthrow: so that if England would now act permanently and beneficently-if, instead of wielding merely the bayonet, she would wield the power of eternal justice, and resolve chaos into order-it is in the direction thus distinctly pointed out that she must infallibly
can declare, through all its forms, that the con- | compared. The mode in which property is distract in regard of property is bilateral, and that tributed here, and the ideas by which it is prounless the poor man, or, to speak more accurately, tected, cannot be transported across the channel,the industrial masses, have first been assured that precisely because the classes have not grown up the sweat of their brow shall bring them food, THE in that country, whose increasing importance has RIGHT of the rich man is not held to have com- given them the surest means of defence and promenced. But probably the difficulty of gaining ad- tection-means above law, and of which law is at mittance for sound views on this abstract question best only the expression-viz., social standing and will be much less than with regard to our second consideration. It is a different thing to have a or practical error. The mechanical and unspecu- landlordism of absolute power at the head of a lative character of the English mind cannot well yeomanry, without whose aid its rental would imagine how the forms of a civilisation, among disappear; and one lowering over its peasantry in us so successful, should fail across the trifling unconcealed discontent-chiefly longing for exbreadth of the Channel; or how an INSTITUTE of cuses to eject, and opportunities to dispossess them. ABSOLUTE LANDLORDISM, whose operations have The contrast of the two countries may be made been so little oppressive, and accorded, in the palpable in one word ;-go to any district of Iremain, with the development of agricultural land you please, and we defy you to find among wealth, and the rise of a class of well-conditioned its population the materials out of which to conyeomen, should not, simply by transplantation, struct the society essential to one East Lothian effect every blessing for Ireland? Here, again, comes strongly into view the momentous reality, that in the course of civilisation, the grander portion of its progress manifests society acting with a sort of blind spontaneity, and is not the result of human prevision or design. There is in all self-contained or undisturbed communities, a certain life or principle of evolution, which, as time advances and circumstances change, causes the community ever to retain its internal harmony; or, in other words, which harmoniously develops the strength, and thereby preserves the relations, of all its parts. The power and independence of our English tenantry have increased exactly at the rate at which the right of our proprietors has become more pure or more absolute; so that, though unrestrained by law, unencumbered by the positive obligations of feudalism or chieftainship, the exercise of that absolute right is so hemmed in and regulated by the condition of other men, by its need for the skill, experience, and capital of the tenant yeoman, that it has become, as it is, a perfectly safe, and, in fact, a necessary element, in the economic machinery of this free country. But in Ireland there is a woful difference! That country, in one Looked on without preoccupation, the sense, may be said to wither still under the curse conditions of the problem are most simple, and of Cromwell. The folly of proceding reigns had can yield but one solution. It is a sole and unconstrained the great Protector to dispossess, for divided case, of a multitudinous peasant commuthe sake of order, the Irish race of landlords- nity, among whom no beneficial relation to landthen, bound to the tenantry by the obligations lordism, under any phase in which it has ever of the system of villenage-a system out of which shown itself, either does exist, or apparently can both peasant and proprietor would in due time be made to exist. It is this immense, this overhave arisen; and the weakness of the wretched whelming majority of a people demanding a stable princes who succeeded him utterly failed in esta-basis for themselves within their country; and blishing any new relations between the tenantry across all temporary shifts and expedients, there on the one hand, and the Englishmen who took stands forth but one answer to the demand. The the places of the Irish chiefs. At this period it was, only articulate voice that has yet come from Conthat society ceased to grow in Ireland; the con- ciliation Hall echoed this answer, in the form of a tract of property ceased from this time to be demand for the universal extension of the Ulster bilateral. The sword upheld its RIGHTS, but tenant-right—a proposal made, however, in by policy forgot to establish its DUTIES; and the re- far too low a tone. True and practical remedies, result is, even that hideous distortion which is now in fact, or, as we should say, those essential reboth an astonishment and a reproach to Christ-volutions, have ever been spoken of too mincingly endom. It is plain, then, that in reference to institutions fitted to express the actual relations of the classes existing and co-operating within each, this country and Ireland can in no wise be
in Conciliation Hall;-by no means, however, that we desiderate the more frequent apparition of Mr. Meagher's sword. The voices prevailing there humble and hesitating on this vital question
deductions; and this worst description of confiscation has already partly overtaken and farther menaces all property in Ireland. Can a landlord
-have not ventured to tell property, that itself, land. The land in this condition ought to be instead of being conservative, and a guarantee for regarded simply as the uncleared tracts of Cañapeace, may become one huge institute of never-da, and made localities for an easy emigration ; ending spoliation. They have not enough pro- but even with regard to the territories under èulclaimed, that nowhere, in all the world's long ture, it would not be difficult to offer an accepthistory, has property ever existed, with no con- able recompense to every conscientious Irishman. verse or counterbalance in the social machine, ex- It is easy enough to uphold by external force anycept a starving population. In countries of serf- where an absolute right of property; but after dom even, the serf has many rights, or portions all, in default of its own beneficence and good in the prosperity of the world, which the savage polity, it can nowhere be upheld other than in has not; nay, there are social comforts, provisions name only, in the face of a recusant or revolted for ease and against disaster-means to ward people. During a civil or social war, real or viraway the worst ills of humanity that act as atual property is necessarily subject to grievous set-off, even against the deprivations of the SLAVE! The organising of this great PEASANT COMMU NITY then, on principles so distinctly indicated by the grand and irrefragable laws of Nature-let his estate as he pleases? Remember Swing those laws whose persistent infraction has been so fearfully avenged by the condition of Ireland; -this is our first, paramount, and pressing duty.* The question, we say, is the settlement and organisation of a PEASANT COMMUNITY; for, as an element of civilisation, a potency for development and progress, the existence of landlordism has so slight a footing among present arrangements, that in our solution of the problem it might be accounted nil. But in this respect even, a locus penitentiæ might easily be preserved to it, and its true rights, as Rent Receiver, dealt with according to no measure of harshness or injustice. It is necessary, however, to scrutinise the effective amount of such rights; for otherwise, and according to wont, their pretended and not real existence will be made an excuse for plunder. Now, in the first place, it were surely little better than descending in this great question to the punctilio of the martinet, to admit of any Landlord-right over the immense, though cultivable and even rich, wastes of Ire-will-if Ireland continues the anomaly it is-be
*We ask the question-What statesman of our time will boldly assume to himself this task as his function? Alas!
If one man be excepted—and even regarding him there is doubtfulness as to his future course-the answer is tantamount to a sigh! Among the many strange prides of which this world is full, Lord John Russell's is among the oddest -it seems the pride of resisting the realising of his own opinions; he has never shown that he understands or cares for the noblest delights of power-those arising from the opportunity of giving action and a reality to one's thoughts! This Minister, in the midst even of his difficulties, has already obtained leisure to do that which no Minister but himself would have dared to do, viz., to declare by the mouth of the President of the Council-the virtual Minister of Education-that a national education is impossible; and by that uncalled for act, he has driven back the cause of education by half a century! Of such a Minister, in regard of his dealings with Ireland, we can have no hope; the hazard rather is, that he will surrender some momentous position. But apart from men and ministries, we regard with dread the prevailing tendencies of the time; these all point to the punishment of the landlord, not to the construction of the peasant community. The Poor-law, for instance, which, in default of a higher policy, is necessary; is at variance, utter and final, with that higher policy. That higher policy is to construct a community which shall not need a Poor-law, except for the few unfortunates who in every community will drop off from beneficial connexion with its organization; the policy of this Poor-law is to constrain that a population, not a society, found and left in a disorganised and starving state, shall by law fall back upon and eat up the rental. Sup pose this done, what next? The Poor-law may, indeed, terrify landlordism; but to organise Ireland, more is needed by a great way than even a terrified landlordism. We repeat again, we must realise a revolution.
and Captain Rock! Can he safely, even by some innocuous course, give umbrage or excite suspicion among his tenantry? Recollect Lord Norbury! Does he sigh for a large rental ?¤1 Let him inquire concerning the success of such aspirations at the present Irish attornies! And, above all, in calculating for the future, let him now listen with Lord Monteagle, and tremble like that shrewd placeman, at those forewarnings of an ENGLISH ELIZABETHAN POOR Lawan act as certain to be placed on his country by the Imperial Legislature, should it unwisely persevere in its present course,* as it is that Englishmen, with all their charity, will consent, for one season only, to sustain those for whom their own country should provide. It is vain to disguise or mince this part of the question.& We are willing to guard all real rights; but we shall not purchase such as exist only on paper. And be it again repeated, those that are real now
changed also into worthless rags, and scattered to and fro by the winds.
There is no insuperable obstacle, then, in the rights of existing landlordism, to the solution of the problem of Ireland; nor needs it that we exert tyranny, though we account them slightly, in reference to the future of that country. In what
Of the Poor Law we have spoken in the previons note. It simply postpones the regeneration of Ireland so long as any surplus revenue shall exist in that country. Assuredly the voracity of disorganization will destroy the surplus, and then the work of regeneration will probably be accomplished by the peasantry themselves. At any rate, under the Poor Law, landlordism will disappear. As will be seen by the text, there we set it wholly aside as an affective element în the existing or in the hoped-for civilisation, although, holding that the grand task to be accomplished is simply and solely the organising of a stable peasant community, we are in no wise disposed to abate, or by one farthing to do injustice, to the existing rights of any individual as a rent-receiver. Even now, thanks to the fertility of Ireland, and in this respect thanks to the inefficient waste even attendant on disorder, the whole effective surplus really existing as rent may be saved without an appreciable interference with the rights or demands of the community in general. Few can conceive the amount of the waste, at present existing, of the positive confiscation and destruction of the effects of labour that every year befals in the present condition of Ireland. Look, again, on Lord Devon's commission; or failing that, at an article in the twelfth number of the North British Review. Indeed, it is only amid order and prosperity that wealth enjoys its efficiency, or that economy can be realised in a State. It is very much otherwise amid a band of banditti!
ever form that peasant community be organised whether by one or many means-by the constitution of an extended Ulster tenant-right, with fixity of tenure and the appropriation of wastes it will be easy to preserve existing rights over rental, from real diminution. But though this difficulty be dismissed, there is another of a different description, and of mightier moment, that may avail with many earnest thinkers. Suppose your peasant community constituted, what is the result? In what direction shall we look for its progress? What is the probable future of Ireland? Now, we take refuge here, at once in the inscrutable. It is not necessary to satisfaction on a point like that we are discussing, that we trace the future of any society. To do so is, in all probability, beyond our power; for it may involve considerations superior to our knowledge. In the case before us, we have an immense population located on a fertile island; and our duty, as the ordaining human power, simply is, to give that population a stable habitation there. The peasant demands from us a position in which, by honest labour, he can secure himself food and permanence. He demands an interest in these lands, so that he may sow them in security, and rejoice over Heaven's auspicious seasons, as preparing a harvest that he and his family will reap; and, assuredly, unless that request be granted, policy can do nothing for the welfare and advancement of his country. It may be difficult, or even impossible, to say what will be the next movement of such an organisation; but we know all that we now require, in knowing that, unless the absolute and indefeasible basis of security for labour and its effects be supplied, there cannot possibly be any next stage.* The difference between
the state we desire and the state now existing in Ireland is simply this, that where there is now no security, and where, therefore, the condition of the peasantry is shaped by the absence of security, there will be absolute security to all worthy effort and industry, and a free onward for hope. We have heard it gravely dreaded that the step following any such settlement must be one of descent; that increase of population beyond increase of wealth must inevitably follow, and end only in a more wide-spread and then unmitigable misery; but assuredly, in a calculation so melancholy and rash, the most important of all springs of human action has not been taken into account. There is no more potent element among our active habits than the fear of the loss of existing comforts; and for that very reason, a state of poverty or abject dependence is the death of all forethought. When we cannot lose, it needs not that we be very careful; but where there is aught to lose, the whole force of habit, which is second nature, rebels against whatever acts would necessitate descent. In respect of advance, surely it is not requisite, because we cannot point out its precise direction, that we despair of it, or account it impossible. That direction, indeed, to a great extent, will be fashioned by agencies imperfectly known to us; but if we once do our duty in regard of the first requisite, it will not be difficult to act with the power of our high civilization in regard of this also. It cannot be but that a people so generous, lively, and sharp, have, with all their insouciance, higher elements of character, alike practical and rooted, to which we might successfully appeal. The fallacy and hopelessness of an endeavour to impose on Ireland institutions such as would be best for us, have been demonstrated by It may be conceived that we are here recommending, centuries of no-success; but it is impossible that a or, at least, countenancing, that refuge so acceptable to well-meaning indolence, viz.: action, or what is called prin- great country like England could fail-were she ciple, irrespective of consequences. Very far from it. It is true to the occasion-to operate with vast power on a rare case, indeed, that duty can at all be discerned with- the upward-pointing tendencies of this stable and out a view of consequences; but, nevertheless, there is a good as well as a bad application of the FIAT JUSTITIA. peaceful peasant community, even by positive inFor instance, a case may occur-and this is one-in which, stitutions. How much might she not do by semiunless you do a certain act, no good consequences can naries of all sorts-among which industrial and supervene; and a man is not, then, obliged to defer action, until he has been able to develop alike the precise amount agricultural schools would stand foremost? How of good that will flow from that action, and the precise much might she not do by aiding medical instimode and fashion of it. To reduce him to the true dilem-tutions, and ensuring a very high education to all ma, his opponent would require to be entitled to say this:"I grant you that, if you don't do this action, no good can occur; but I assert that, if you do it, the result will be equally barren of good; and, therefore, since mere change is an evil, the act should not be done." Now, the first part of the proposition certainly only amounts to an affirmation of the reality of all Irish history; but the second would amount to this-that for the Irish people there is no hope, and ought to be no place-that they are unfit to take any part in civilised life, and, therefore, cannot attain to it. Certainly we shall not venture to state precisely in what manner they would unfold themselves; but it is utterly impossible to yield to the conclusion, that they are capable of no advancement. Those fears and auguries of future evil besetting this question-whatever their real value-arise, too, from a very unfair and unjustifiable mode of estimating the Irish peasantry. Even the most abstract moralist considers it necessary, while judging of a man, to examine the circumstances within which his mind and morality have been developed; and it is especially needful, when we speak of social duties, to ask first what society has done, so that it obtains a right to demand these duties in return? Now, the fact is, that the Irish peasant, in the main, has obtained his comforts purely by health. Every hand of influence around him, political or social, except that of his own priest, has been against him; and is it possible that the endurance
VOL. XIV.—NO. CLXI.
the members of that important and indispensable faculty? How much would inevitably flow from a great national church-a church independent of sect and creed*—such a one as our own Coleridge for centuries of this eminently practical teaching could breed within that population any code of morals save that which prevails in a state of civil war? By this code, and no other, ought the Irish peasant now to be tried; and that code will explain the real failures of British efforts to conciliate Erin, without demanding in aid of it one visual estimate of their race. Reference is not made here to the mere political wrongs with which he has been in contact. These have, indeed, been bad enough; bad enough, that his oppression alone can bring justice; bad enough, that he could be taught the road to Heaven only by a proscribed man; but they all think it utterly unjustifiable, beside those social evils which have, in very truth, made him an alien. The man who will judge hopelessly of the Irish peasant has not, on the spot, had an opportunity of judging of the Irish landlord.
* We do not of course mean that there should be any church without a definite creed; but simply that all churches shall be welcomed as effective instruments of civilization, whatever their forms and special dogmata. The State should