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After the war, when the price of corn fell very low, and, consequently, tillage gave place to grazing, labourers became to the middleman an encumbrance and a nuisance that must be cleared off the land, just as weeds are plucked up and flung out to wither on the highway.

Then came Lord Devon's Land Commission, which inquired on the eve of the potato failure and the great famine. The Irish population was now at its highest figure—between eight and nine millions. Yet, though there had been three bad seasons, it was clearly proved at that time that by measures which a wise and willing legislature would have promptly passed, the whole surplus population could have been profitably employed. In this great land controversy, on which side lies the truth?

Is it the fault of the people, or the fault of the law, that the country is but half cultivated, while the best of the peasantry are emigrating with hostile feelings and purposes of vengeance towards England? As to the landlords, as a class, they use their powers with as much moderation and mercy as any other class of men in any country ever used power so vast and so little restrained. The best and most indulgent landlords, the most genial and generous, are unquestionably the old nobility, the descendants of the Normans and Saxons, those very conquerors of whom we have heard so much.

The worst, the most harsh and exacting, are those who have purchased under the Landed Estates Court—strangers to the people, who think only of the percentage on their capital. We had heard much of the necessity of capital to develope the resources of the land. The capital came, but the development consists in turning tillage lands into pasture, clearing out the labouring population and [pg 11] sending them to the poorhouse, or shipping them off at a few pounds per head to keep down the rates. And yet is it not possible to set all our peasantry to work at the profitable cultivation of their native land?

Is it not possible to establish by law what many landlords act upon as the rule of their estates—namely, the principle that no man is to be evicted so long as he pays a fair rent, and the other principle, that whenever he fails, he is entitled to the market value by public sale of all the property in his holding beyond that fair rent?

The hereditary principle, rightly cherished among the landlords, so conservative in its influence, ought to be equally encouraged among the tenants. The man of industry, as well as the man of rank, should be able to feel that he is providing for his children, that his farm is at once a bank and an insurance office, in which all his minute daily deposits of toil and care and skill will be safe and productive.

This is the way to enrich and strengthen the State, and to multiply guarantees against revolution—not by consolidation of farms and the abandonment of tillage, not by degrading small holders into day labourers, levelling the cottages and filling the workhouses. If the legislature were guided by the spirit that animates Lord Erne in his dealings with his tenantry, the land question would soon be settled to the satisfaction of all parties.

Therefore, if a man lays out money on his farm judiciously, he is certain to receive back the money, should he wish to go elsewhere. One tenant sold a farm of seventy acres in bad order for l. The landlord lost nothing by these changes. His rent was paid up, and in each case he got a good tenant for [pg 12] a bad one. Lord Erne is a just man, and puts on no more than a fair rent. But all landlords are not just, as all tenants are not honest.

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Even where tenant-right is admitted in name, it is obvious that the rent may be raised so high as to make the farm worth nothing in the market. To give to the tenant throughout the country generally the pleasant feeling that his farm is his castle, which he can make worth more money every day he rises, there must be a public letting valuation, and this the State could easily provide.

And then there should be the right of sale to the highest solvent bidder. This might be one way of securing permanent tenure, or stimulating the industry and sustaining the thrift of the farmer. But the nature of the different tenures, and the effect of each in bracing up or relaxing the nerves of industry, will be the object of deliberation with the Government and the legislature. It is said that, in the hands of small farmers, proprietorship leads to endless subdivision; that long leases generally cause bad husbandry; that tenants-at-will often feel themselves more secure and safe than a contract could make them; that families have lived on the same farm for generations without a scrape of a pen except the receipt for rent.

On the other hand, there is the general cry of 'want of tenure;' there is the custom of serving notices to quit, sometimes for other reasons than non-payment of rent; there are occasional barbarities in the levelling of villages, and dragging the aged and the sick from the old roof-tree, the parting from which rends their heart-strings; and, above all, there is the feeling among the peasantry which makes them look without horror on the murder of a landlord or an agent who was a kind and benevolent neighbour; and, lastly, the paramount consideration for the legislature, that a large portion of the people are disaffected to the State, and ready to join its enemies, and this almost solely on account of the state of the law relating to land.

Hence the necessity of settling the question as speedily as possible, and the duty of all who have the means to contribute [pg 13] something towards that most desirable consummation, which seems to be all that is wanted to make Irishmen of every class work together earnestly for the welfare of their country. It is admitted that no class of men in the world has improved more than the Irish landlords during the last twenty years. Let the legislature restore confidence between them and the people by taking away all ground for the suspicion that they wish to extirpate the Celtic race.

Nor was this suspicion without cause, as the following history will too clearly prove.


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A very able English writer has said: 'The policy of all the successive swarms of settlers was to extirpate the native Celtic race, but every effort made to break up the old framework of society failed, for the new-comers soon became blended with and undistinguishable from the mass of the people—being obliged to ally themselves with the native chieftains, rather than live hemmed in by a fiery ring of angry septs and exposed to perpetual war with everything around them.

Merged in the great Celtic mass, they adopted Irish manners and names, yet proscribed and insulted the native inhabitants as an inferior race.

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Everything liberal towards them is intercepted in its progress. It has been often said that the Irish must be an inferior race, since they allowed themselves to be subjugated by some thousands of English invaders. But it should be recollected, first, that the conquest, commenced by Henry II. So long as they had boundless territory for their flocks and herds, and could always move on 'to pastures new,' they increased and multiplied, and allowed the sword and the battle-axe to rest, unless when a newly elected chief found it necessary to give his followers 'a hosting'—which means an expedition for plunder.

Down to the seventeenth century, after five hundred years' contact with the Teutonic race, they were essentially the same people as they were when the ancient Greeks and Romans knew them. They are thus described by Dr.

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Mommsen in his 'History of Rome:'—'Such qualities—those of good soldiers and of bad citizens—explain the historical fact that the Celts have shaken all States and have founded none. Everywhere we find them ready to rove, or, in other words, to march, preferring movable property to landed estate, and gold to everything else; following the profession of arms as a system of organised pillage, or even as a trade for hire, and with such success that even the Roman historian, Sallust, acknowledges that the Celts bore off the prize from the Romans in feats of arms.

They were the true 'soldiers of fortune' of antiquity, as pictures and descriptions represent them, with big but sinewy bodies, with shaggy hair and long moustaches—quite a contrast to the Greeks and Romans, who shaved the upper lip—in the variegated embroidered dresses which in combat were not unfrequently thrown off, with a broad gold ring round their neck, wearing no helmets and without missile weapons of any sort, but furnished instead with an immense shield, a long ill-tempered sword, a dagger and a lance, all ornamented with gold, for they were not unskilful in working in metals.

Everything was made subservient to ostentation—even wounds, which were often enlarged for the purpose of boasting a broader scar.

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Usually they fought on foot, but certain tribes on [pg 15] horseback, in which case every free man was followed by two attendants, likewise mounted. War-chariots were early in use, as they were among the Libyans and Hellenes in the earliest times.

Many a trait reminds us of the chivalry of the middle ages, particularly the custom of single combat, which was foreign to the Greeks and Romans. Not only were they accustomed in war to challenge a single enemy to fight, after having previously insulted him by words and gestures; in peace also they fought with each other in splendid equipments, as for life or death.

After such feats carousals followed in due course. In this way they led, whether under their own or a foreign banner, a restless soldier life, constantly occupied in fighting and in their so-called feats of heroism. They were dispersed from Ireland and Spain to Asia Minor, but all their enterprises melted away like snow in spring, and they nowhere created a great state or developed a distinctive culture of their own.

Their freedom was lawlessness; an inherent incapacity of living under the dominion of laws distinguishes them as barbarians from the Greeks and Italians. As individuals had to procure the protection of some magnate in order to live in safety, so the weaker tribes took shelter under the patronage of a more powerful one. For they were a disjointed multitude; and when any people had in this manner acquired an extensive [pg 16] sovereignty, they exercised it arbitrarily until its abuses became intolerable, or their subjects were urged by blind hatred of their power to fall off from them, and gather round some new centre.

Both of them paid obedience to its tribunal, which administered justice once a year—an institution which probably was not introduced till long after the age of migrations, when the expulsion of the vanquished had ceased to be regarded as the end of war, and which must have been fostered by the constant growth of lawlessness in particular states—being upheld by the ban , which excluded the contumacious from all intercourse in divine worship and in daily life with the faithful.

The huge bodies, wild features, and long shaggy hair of the men, gave a ghastliness to their aspect.

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This, along with their fierce courage, their countless numbers, and the noise made by an enormous multitude of horns and trumpets, struck the armies arrayed against them with fear and amazement. If these, however, did not allow their terror to overpower them, the want of order, discipline, and perseverance would often enable an inferior number to vanquish a vast host of the barbarians.

Besides, they were but ill equipped. Few of them wore any armour; their narrow shields, which were of the same height with their bodies, were weak and clumsy; they rushed upon their enemies with broad thin battle-swords of bad steel, which the first blow upon iron often notched and rendered useless. Like true savages, they destroyed the inhabitants, the towns, and the agriculture of the countries they conquered.

They cut off the heads of the slain, and tied them by the hair to the manes of their horses. If a skull belonged to a person of rank, they nailed it up in their houses and preserved it as an heirloom for their posterity, as the nobles in rude ages do stag-horns. Towns were rare amongst them; the houses and the villages, which were very numerous, were mean, the furniture wretched—a heap of straw covered with skins served both for a bed and a seat. They did not cultivate [pg 17] corn save for a very limited consumption, for the main part of their food was the milk and the flesh of their cattle.

These formed their wealth. Gold, too, they had in abundance, derived partly from the sandy beds of their rivers, partly from some mines which these had led them to discover. It was worn in ornaments by every Gaul of rank. In battle he bore gold chains on his arms and heavy gold collars round his neck, even when the upper part of his body was in other respects quite naked.

For they often threw off their parti-coloured chequered cloaks, which shone with all the hues of the rainbow, like the picturesque dress of their kinspeople the Highlanders, who have laid aside the trousers of the ancient Gauls. Their duels and gross revels are an image of the rudest part of the middle ages. Their debauches were mostly committed with beer and mead; for vines and all the plants of southern regions were as yet total strangers to the north of the Alps, where the climate in those ages was extremely severe; so that wine was rare, though of all the commodities imported it was the most greedily bought up.

Ulster was known in ancient times as one of the five Irish 'kingdoms,' and remained unconquered by the English till the reign of James I. Up to that period the men of Ulster proudly regarded themselves as 'Irish of the Irish and Catholic of the Catholics. Those whom ethnologists still recognise as aborigines, in parts of Connaught and in some mountainous regions, an inferior race, are said to be the descendants of the Firbolgs, or Belgae, who formed the third immigration. They were followed and subdued by the Tuatha de Danans—men famed for their gigantic power and supernatural skill—a race of demigods, who still live in the [pg 18] national superstitions.

The last of the ancient invasions was by the Gael or Celt, known as the Milesians and Scoti. The institutions and customs of this people were established over the whole island, and were so deeply rooted in the soil that their remnants to this day present the greatest obstacles to the settlement of the land question according to the English model, and on the principles of political economy, which run directly counter to Irish instincts. It is truly wonderful how distinctly the present descendants of this race preserve the leading features of their primitive character.

In France and England the Celtic character was moulded by the power and discipline of the Roman Empire.