Front Page Titles (by Subject) IRELAND. PREFACE. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 3
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IRELAND. PREFACE. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 3 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 3.
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Thought it is my business to treat of the permanent rather than of the transient causes of the distress of Ireland,—of her economy rather than her polities,—I have been perplexed by some of the difficulties which at present beset all who would communicate with the public on her behalf. It is impossible to foresee while writing what may have happened, before our thoughts are printed, to change the aspect of affairs, and modify the counsel we would offer. No pains have been spared to ascertain the correctness of the data on which my story is constructed; yet I have felt through the whole course of it that I might finally resolve to keep it back as useless, there being a strong probability that it might, a few weeks hence, appear antiquated in comparison with the treatises which may then be wanted. I cannot but trust, however, that leisure will soon be spared from the consideration of emergencies for an investigation into the long-subsisting causes of Irish distress ; that the painful labour of punishing crime may give place to the more hopeful task of superseding it; and that the government may ere long turn from enforcing obnoxious laws to fostering the resources of the country.
Many will think with me that the title of this story is too grand for its contents; and more may be disappointed oil finding how few are my personages, and how little I have dealt with the horrors of the time.—The purpose of my title is to direct the work into the hands of those whom it most concerns; and my personages arc few because it is my object to show, in a confined space. how long a series of evils may befall individuals in a society conducted like that of Ireland, and by what a repetition of grievances its members are driven into disaffection and violence. As for the incidents of the tale, my choice was influenced by the consideration, not of what would best suit the purposes of fiction, but of what would most serve the cause of the Irish poor. A much more thrilling and moving story might have been made of conspiracy, rebellion, and slaughter by weapon and by gibbet ; but these scenes want no further development than may be found in our daily newspapers; while the silent miseries of the cottier, the unpitied grievances of the spirit-broken labourer cannot have been sufficiently made known, since they still subsist. These miseries, protracted from generation to generation, are the origin of the more lively horrors of which everybody hears. Let them be superseded, and there !will be an end of the rebellion and slaughter which spring from them.
Now that it is the fashion with a certain portion of society to denounce every exposition of state impolicy as inflammatory, I may be exposed to the common charge of attempting to excite the disaffection, some of whose causes I have attempted to expose. Since it is no longer a secret, however, that Ireland has been and is misgoverned, and since the readiest method of winning back the discontented to their allegiance is to allow those things to be grievances which are felt to be so, and to show a disposition to afford redress, I cannot but hold the part of true loyalty to be to expose abuses fearlessly and temperately, and to stimulate the government to the reparation of past errors and the improvement of its principles of policy. Such should be my loyalty if I had access to the councils of the state ; and such it is now that I can speak only as a wellwisher to Ireland, and an indignant witness of her wrongs.
The Glen of the Echoes,—a title which conveys more to an English ear than its Irish counterpart, is one of the most obscure districts of a remote county of the Green Island, of which little is heard on this side the Channel except during the periodical returns of famine, when the sole dependence of its miserable population is on public benevolence. This glen probably owes its name to its vicinity to the sea, whose boisterous waves, keeping up a perpetual assault, have worn the coast into deep bays from the North Cape to Mizen-head, and whose hoarse music is chaunted day and night, summer and winter, from steep to steep along the shore. It is a rare thing for a traveller in the western counties of Ireland to behold a calm sea. Whatever the features of the land may be,—whether he passes through meadows and oat-fields, with villages and towns in the distance, or over black mountains and across shaking bogs, where a mud cabin here and there is the only vestige of human habitation,—the Atlantic is still swelling and lashing the cliffs, as if bringing its mighty force to a perpetual war against the everlasting hills. Such a traveller would have pronounced that the Glen of the Echoes was designed for no other purpose than to give perpetual tidings of this warfare; for no place could be more wild in aspect, or less apparently improved by being inhabited. It was a tract lying between the cliffs and the mountains, consisting partly of bog, and partly of cultivated patches of and, divided one from another by ditches, and here and there by a turf bank, which was the best kind of fence used within many miles, except on the grounds belonging to one or two mansions within sight and reach. Scarce a tree or a shrub was to be seen within the bounds of the glen, though tradition related that a vast forest had once extended along the sides of the mountains; which tradition was confirmed by the circumstance that trees were easily found in the bog as often as the inhabitants were at a loss how to pass a ditch or drain, and there happened to be hands enough near to make a half-buried trunk into a temporary bridge, for the advantage of a short cut to any given spot. A resident proprietor, Mr. Rosso, had surrounded his house with young plantations; but as these were intercepted from view by the shoulder of the mountain, they did not relieve the bleakness of the glen itself. The woods of another proprietor, Mr. Tracey, who had been for some years on the continent with his family, had been so effectually thinned by his agent, that little of them remained, and, in consequence, his mansion, Woodland Lodge, might now have better borne the name of a lodge in the wilderness. Woodland Lodge was about half a mile distant from Mr. Rosso's dwelling, and the contrast between the two was remarkable. The riding, driving, shooting, and fishing parties, in which the young Rossos were perpetually engaged, gave an appearance of bustle to the neighbourhood of their residence; and the fine growth of the plantations, the entireness of the stone fences, and the verdant crops of the surrounding fields, betokened good management: whereas the shutters of the Lodge were for ever closed; grass flourished on the door-steps, and moss on the window-sills; lean cattle were seen lying about in the woods, or rubbing themselves against the bark-bound trees; and goats, the most inveterate of destroyers, browsed among the ruins, which alone remained to mark the boundaries between corn-land and pasture, plantation and bog. The traveller's greatest perplexity was as to where the people dwelt whom he saw scattered in the fields or lying about on the only visible track by which he could traverse the glen, or assembled around the Lodge chapel, if it chanced to be a holiday. It was only by close observation that he could perceive any other erections than the little school-house, built by Mr. Rosso, and the farm-house, where a tenant of the better sort lived, and where the priest boarded. To the accustomed eye, however, a number of huts were visible on the mountain side, which were more like tufts of black turf than human dwellings. An occasional wreath of smoke, the neighbourhood of goats, pigs, or a starved cow, marked them as the abodes of the tenantry of the glen,—a tenantry neither better nor worse off than that of many a district in the island.
The school-house just mentioned had been built by Mr. Rosso, who, though himself a Protestant, wished his poor neighbours to have such an education as they were willing to receive, though it was mixed with much that appeared to him very baneful superstition. To the astonishment, first, of the objects of his bounty, and, next, of his Protestant visitors, he appointed a Catholic teacher to this school, and interfered no further in its management than to see that the teacher was diligent, and that the school was kept open to as many children as chose to attend. The reasons he gave were, that there were none but Catholics within five miles, out of his own house, and that as his neighbours would at all events be Catholics, he saw no harm in giving them reading, writing, and arithmetic, in addition to that instruction, of a different kind, which their zealous priest, Father Glenny, took care that they should not be without. These reasons, whether sound or not, had no weight with his Protestant friends, who might, as they said, have forgiven him, if he had had the good of a tenantry of his own in view, but who began to doubt the goodness of his religion, morals, and politics, when they considered that he had no tenantry but a farmer's family or two, who did not need his assistance: and that he was, therefore, gratuitously offering support to the most damnable faith in religion, and the most iniquitous creed in politics, that had ever deserved the wrath of God in heaven and of man upon earth. Mr. Rosso very quietly went on, holding an occasional conference with Father Glenny on the state of the school, and stepping in sometimes as he passed, to hear how the spelling improved, and whether the children could be induced to give attention to something besides arithmetic, which is, almost universally, the favourite accomplishment of the Irish who have had the advantage of any schooling at all. Father Glenny, and the young schoolmaster whom he had trained, always appeared glad to see Mr. Rosso. and even asked him occasionally to address the children, which he always took care to do so as to convey to them some useful information, or moral impression, which Protestant and Catholic would equally allow to be good. Thus, as the parties concerned wrought their benevolent work without jostling or jarring, it mattered little what any one else had to say about it. When importuned upon the subject, Mr. Rosso endeavoured to appease the inquirer by an acknowledgment that he might have found some difficulty if Protestant children had been brought to learn with Catholics, within so small a space, and with so few resources in the way of instruction; but he never could admit the doubt of its being right to supply a Catholic education to a purely Catholic population.
It was a much easier matter to the neighbouring cottiers to spare their children to the school, than it would have been if they had enjoyed a more prosperous condition. An English labourer employs his boys and girls as soon as they are strong enough for work; or, at least, has the excuse that he may do so: but an Irish cottier finds his business finished when he has dug and planted his potato-field, and lounges about the harvest; or, if he hires himself out to labour, does not find out that there is anything for his girl to do but to milk the cow and boil the pot; or for his boy but to feed the pig. This leisure, joined with the eagerness for learning which subsists among the Irish poor, kept Mr. Rosso's school always full, and might, under good management, have wrought a material improvement upon the rising generation: but it is too much the way with Irish “scholards” to be always reading, never learning; to be listening to legends, when they should be gaining knowledge; and invoking the holy blood of Abel, instead of improving the powers which God has given to each of them for a far more natural and effectual dependence. The real advancement of the young folks of the glen was, therefore, much less than it ought to have been, in return for the time bestowed; and though some came out ready readers, and most fluent story-tellers, there was but little knowledge even among the oldest of them.
Dora Sullivan was one of the most promising of the troop, and the master praised the prudence of her parents, and her own docility, for coming to the school as regularly as ever when she was past sixteen. It was feared that she would disappear when her only brother departed for England, in hopes of making a little money to bring back to his father; but Dora's parents were proud of her, and anxious that the most should be made of her, and, therefore, spared her from home for the greater part of every day, though she was now like an only child to them. There was another reason for their not grudging her absence, which was, that Dan Mahony, who lived in the next cabin, and had frequent access to Dora's society, from being the son of her father's partner in his lease, had been long in love with Dora, and would have married her out of hand, if he had had so much as half an acre of ground to marry upon. All parties approved of the match; but would not hear of its taking place till Dan had a roof of his own to lodge a wife young, and did what they could to separate the under, folks, by keeping Dora at school, and encouraging Dan to go and seek his fortune at a distance for a while; which the young man, after much murmuring, consented to do, upon a promise from both fathers that they would abstain from quarrelling about their partnership, or anything else, during his absence: a promise which they afterwards declared it was rash to have given, and next to impossible to observe. They contrived, however, to keep within the terms of their vow, by venting their wrath, in all difficulties, upon the third partner in their lease, Tim Blayney, who made an opportunity to elope before rent-day came round, leaving nothing but an empty cabin and a patch of exhausted soil for his creditors to wreak their vengeance on.
These partnership tenancies were almost universal in he district. In one or two cases there were as many as fourteen or sixteen tenants associated in one lease: in which ease the disputes respecting the division of their little meadows, or the payment of dues, became so virulent, that the agent could get no rest from squabbles and complaints in his occasional visits; and the middlemen, to whom the rent was paid, adopted the practice of getting it as they could, without waiting for the decision of opposing claims, or regarding the protests of those whose property they seized. Sullivan might think himself fortunate in having no more than two partners, since he could not be made to pay more than three times his share of rent; and being under vow not to quarrel with one partner, and the other being beyond the reach of his ears and tongue, he was in an enviable situation compared with many of his neighbours. As to the middlemen who were over them, indeed, there was little to choose among them. All pleaded alike that they had their rents them.to pay to other middlemen, or to the landlord; all were too busy to hearken to excuses, —too determined to be diverted from seizures,—too much accustomed to their business to regard appeals to their justice or their compassion. They were not all, or on all occasions, equally pressing as to time. Their urgency about their dues depended somewhat upon their own resources, and much on those of the people under them. If they could afford to wait, and their debtors were likely not to be totally destitute sometime hence, the middlemen mercifully consented to wait, for certain considerations, and with the prospect of extorting rich interest upon the payment thus delayed. The middleman, Teale, to whom Sullivan, Mahony, and Blayney paid their rents, was one of this merciful class.
When Dora came home from the school one fine afternoon, she perceived from a distance, that Mr. Teale's horse was standing within the inclosure, and grazing the roof of her father's cabin. Her approach was seen by Teale from the door, for there was never a window in the place. His humour being propitiatory this day, he assailed Sullivan's weak side:—
“Here she comes,—the pretty creature she is, that Dora of yours.”
“She's good, let alone her being pretty; and ‧tis she will write the note and sign it all and same as me. Here, Dora, my darling, hold the pen and write as you're bid, and show what a scholard Father Glenny has made of you.”
Dora, who was remarkably quiet and thoughtful for her years, and suited her deportment to the gravity of her mind, did not quicken her movements, but prepared to obey her father's request. She slipped down the petticoat tail which she had worn as a hood, gave the pig a gentle rebuke with her bare foot, which sent him out at the door, and room being thus found to turn about in, she made a table of her mother's low stool, took the paper Mr. Teale offered, dipped her pen in his inkhorn, and waited for directions.
“You have only to sign, you see,” said Mr. Teale,“ ‘Dora Sullivan, for John Sullivan,’ that's all”
“Hold your whisht,” cried the father: “you have had your time to write promises for me, Mr. Teale; but I've a scholard now of my own kin, and no occasion to be taken in with a scrap, when I don't know what's in it. So let Dora write after your words, Mr. Teale.”
“Pho, pho, Sullivan;—for what and for why do you misdoubt me this day? Miss Dora will be more polite—and I so pressed for time.”
Dora's politeness, however, disposed her to do as her father desired, and did not prevent her doing more. She wrote to Teale's dictation; and, before signing, looked up at her father, and asked if it was meant that he should promise to pay, both for himself and partners, all that should be in arrears, as well as all presently due (including the interest of the arrears), immediately after harvest, under penalty of seizure.
“I'm not clear of the meaning of it all, but I'm thinking it is much to pay, and more than we have to pay with, father; that's all.”
“Be easy, Miss Dora, since it comes out of your own mouth that the meaning is not clear. Only sign, my jewel; that's what is still to be done.”
“Quiet, my darling of the world, quiet! for what should I do? Here's Blayney, the scatterbrain! gone, the devil knows where, and left not a rag behind him; and Mahony has left the whole to me, entirely, the ruffian. And you wouldn't have the beasts driven away, Dora, and we left without a sup to sleep upon — you wouldn't, Dora?”
“Come, sign, my jewel,” said Teale, “and up with your pail to be milking the creatures, Dora, and that's better than seeing them lifted to the pound.”
Dora still balanced the pen, vainly wishing that Dan was at hand to fulfil his father's part of the contract. Sullivan urged her to finish. She begged to read it over once more aloud, and at the end asked if there was no way of making such an agreement as many made, that certain kinds of produce should constitute the rent, while the family lived as they could upon the rest, and so have nothing to do with coin, which she simply supposed was the cause of all the misery in the world. Some middlemen, she knew, took butter and pigs for the rent, and oats where there were any, and then there was no trouble about money.
“With your leave, Miss Dora, we'll hear what the priest has to say about that another time; for I suppose what you say is all one as listening to him; and very natural: but I must be going, my jewel; so give me my scrap, and no more words.”
As there was no help for it, Dora signed, and then saw the pen put into her father's hand, that he might make his mark, without which Mr. Teale would not allow the business to be finished. She did not smile, as her mother did, at Sullivan's joke about a raking fellow, like him, sitting down with a pen, like a priest or one of the priest's scholards. When the middleman was gone, and her father laughed at the easiness of putting a man off with a scrap of paper instead of the rent, she took up her pail to go and milk her lean kine.
“Off with you, honey, and leave your sighs behind you,” said her mother. “If I had begun as early as you, sighing and sighing, there would have been little breath left in my body by this. To-morrow or next day will do for care, honey. Go to your milking to-day, anyhow.”
“By dad, honey, your mother known more trouble and sorrow by your time nor you, by reason she was my wife, and had babbies to lose in the fever. I would have dried up her tears in a hurry if she had had no more to bestow them on nor you; and so will Dan, by dad, if you've no better a welcome for him.”
Dora smiled, and went about her dairy affairs, her father following to help, in case the kine wanted lifting; that is, in case they should be too weak from starvation to rise up at bidding to be milked. The poor animals being fairly set upon their legs, without much fear of falling, Sullivan directed his steps towards the last bush which was left in his field, and cut it down for fuel, not having turf enough dried to boil the pot this evening.
Sullivan was not very fond of looking about him on his little farm, or of observing the portions of his partners. It was hard to say which was in the worst condition, or which might have been in the best if properly cultivated. Their nearness to the coast put them in the way of manure; such part of the soil as was dry might have been made into fine grazing land by the frequent rains which fell in that district, or have answered for the growth of various crops in rotation; and such as was wet might have been improved, to almost any extent, by the limestone from the neighbourhood, or by fine sand from the beach. Instead of laying plans with prudence for their common advantage, however, and prosecuting them in harmony, the three partners made choice each of what his land should produce, and neither varied his crop from first to last. Their only agreement was to divide their portions by ditches, pronouncing a stone fence a trouble not to be thought of, turf banks a botheration, and a ditch the most “asy and nate to the hand.” This done, Mahony sowed barley every year, and every year less and less came up; and that which did make a shift to grow yielded less and less meal, till he began to wonder what ailed the crop that it had come down from being food for man, to be nothing better than pig's meat. Blayney tried his hand at oat culture with no better success than his neighbour, the produce being such as many a horse on the London road would look upon with disdain. Sullivan grew potatoes, as we have seen. While the land was in good heart, that is, for a season or two from the commencement of his lease, he had grown apple potatoes; but when the soil became exhausted, he could raise only an inferior kind, which is far more fit for cattle than foillegiblemen, and on which he and his family could not have subsisted, if it were not for the, milk with which they varied their meals. Sullivan's acre and half did not yield now more than eleven hundred stone; and as the consumption amounted to more than four stone a-day, at fourteen pounds to the stone,—a very moderate allowance for three hearty people,—there was no chance of paying the rent out of the crop, even if Sullivan had been answerable for nobody's dues but his own. He depended upon his live stock to clear him with the middlemen; or, rather, he depended upon nothing, but made a shift, when the time came near, to sell and raise the money somehow; and when that could not be done, he deferred the evil day, by giving his note of hand, as we have seen. Half these difficulties might have been avoided, if no one had stood between Sullivan and his landlord; and the other half, if he had known how to make the best of his own resources. In the first place, Mr. Tracey would never have thought of asking such a rent as eight pounds pet acre for such land; and, in the next place, he would have been so far considerate as to encourage Sullivan to improve the land; whereas the middleman under whom Mr. Teale held the place, paid the landlord a moderate rent, and made his profit out of the higher rent he asked of Mr. Teale, who, in his turn, did the same by Sullivan and his partners: so that the poorest tenant paid the most, and the landlord got the least; or, to put the matter in another light, the little farm was expected to support three families of tenants, and to pay rent to three landlords. Again: two of these landlords, having only a temporary interest in the place, cared only for getting as much out of it as they could while connected with it, and had no view to its improvement, or regard for its permanent value. This ruinous system has received a check by the operation of the Subletting Act; but not before it has inflicted severe injuries on the proprietors of the soil, and never-to-be-forgotten hardships on their tenantry.
Dan Mahony being fairly out of the way, Dora's parents agreed to her earnest request, countenanced by Father Glenny, that she might leave school, and try to earn somewhat wherewith to help the rent. Dora now sat at her spinning-wheel almost the whole day; and her mother doing the same, a respectable addition was made by them to the few shillings Sullivan had been able to muster. The next was a fine potato season moreover, and Sullivan reasonably reckoned on being able to sell a considerable portion of the produce of his land, and thus preventing any addition to the arrears already due, even if he could not discharge some part of them. The gentle Dora now smiled, instead of sighing, when her father asked where was the good of “troubling the brain at all at all about what was to come, when the good and the bad was hid entirely;” and answered only by a kiss, when he inquired for any good that had come out of the hitherto grave looks of his “darlin ‘o’ the world.”
The rent for the year was made up just in time by the sale of only one pig; and Mr. Teale was surprised, and looked as if he did not know whether or not to be pleased, when the sum was forthcoming. He congratulated Sullivan on having got a solvent partner in Blayney's place, and on Dan Mahony having sent his father the means of paying his share; so that Sullivan was free from all encumbrance but that for which he had given his note of hand. Dora's heart leaped within her, while she listened to the facts, and to her father's fervent blessing on her lover, whose heart was evidently still at home, wherever his feet might be wandering. She did not know,– for her father had actually forgotten to tell her, —that the tithe was not yet paid, nor had been for two years; the tithe-proctor having accommodated him by taking his note-of-hand for the amount, and for various incidental charges. Bitterly did Dora afterwards grieve that she had been for a while spared this additional anxiety.
The next time she returned from confession, it was with a light heart and a tripping step approaching to a dance. Father Glenny had readily absolved her from the sins of mistrusting heaven in regard of her father's rent, and mistrusting a holy and solemn oath in regard of Dan Mahony, having, in dark hours, been tempted to doubt his remembering the Glen of the Echoes, and all that was in it; which was a great sin, inasmuch as Dan bad vowed a solemn vow, which heaven would guard, to look upon himself as a banished wanderer, till she should, face to face, release him from the oath. Father Glenny not only gave her absolution, and taught her how to keep the tempter at a distance next time, by repeating the oath, and recalling the circumstances under which it was made, but spoke well of Dan, and seemed to think the sooner all doubts were laid, by their being made man and wife, the better.
Dora immediately began to obey his directions by recalling, during her walk home, the minutest circumstances connected with the vow. She could just discern, at the highest point of the rugged mountain-road, the big stone under which they knelt when she was obliged to leave him to pursue his way alone: she could mark the very spot where she had given him the “Poesy of prayers,” and where they had exchanged their crucifixes, and called six very choice saints to witness the vow. While gazing in this direction, shading her eyes from the setting sun, she perceived men driving two cows up this very road, sometimes pulling the poor creatures by a noose over the obstructions in their way, and sometimes lifting them up as fast as they fell. Dora's lightness of heart was gone in a moment. From the circumstance of there being several men to take charge of two cows, she was convinced that the cattle had been distrained from some tenant in the Glen; and she had a misgiving that they might be her own father's.
When she came within sight of home, she did not know what to make of the appearance of things. The cows were not visible; but they were apt to disappear among the ditches, or behind the cabin. Her father gave tokens of merriment; but with rather more activity than was natural to him. He was throwing stones and bits of turf at the pigs in the ditches, so as to make them run hither and thither, and singing, to drown their squeaking, in the following strain:—
This song, as soon as the words were distinguishable, told a pretty plain story, and the occupation of Dora's mother told a yet plainer. She was breaking up the milk-pails to feed the fire; and, in answer to the girl's remonstrance, demanded what was the use of vexing their sight with what would be tempting them to thirst, and putting them in mind to curse the “scruff of the earth” that had robbed them of their kine? But could not the cattle be got back again?—Lord save her! when did she ever know Mr. Teale give up anything he had clutched? Mr. Teale! he who had just been paid? Even so. He was behind-hand with his dues, like the people he scorned beneath his feet; and instead of seizing his ear, horses, or the luxuries of his house, the man who was over him distrained upon the poor tenants, who had already paid their rents; while Teale looked on, amused to see the Sullivans and others compelled to pay rent twice over, while he escaped. The people having, in former cases, discovered that this monstrous grievance is not known in England, had, for some time, come to the conclusion that England is favoured by Government, while there is no justice to be had in Ireland; not being aware that the law is the same in both countries, and that the exemption from this fatal liability which English cultivators enjoy, is owing to the rarity of the practice of subletting in their island.
It soon appeared that Teale was disappointed in the amount of the levy upon his tenants, since the same men returned early in the morning to take what else they could get, by virtue of the note-of-hand. The crop, just ready for gathering in, was dug up and carted away, a small provision only being left for the immediate wants of the family. The fowls and pigs disappeared at the same time; and to all the hubbub which disturbed the morning hours, the deep curses of Sullivan, the angry screams of his wife, the cackling of the alarmed poultry, the squealing of the pigs, and the creaking of the crazy cars, there succeeded a hush, which was only interrupted by the whirring of Dora's wheel. She had taken to her spinning, partly to conceal her tears, partly to drown thoughts which would otherwise have almost distracted her.
The ominous quiet of the cabin did not last long. Sullivan was sitting, so as to block up the doorway, with his back against the mudwall; he was chewing a straw, and looking out vacantly upon his trampled field, when his wife started up from her seat beside the fire-place, where the pot of cold potatoes was hanging over an extinguished fire. She greeted him with a tremendous kick.
“Get out o' that, you cratur!” cried she. “I'm thinking there's room and a plenty beyond there, let alone the styes with not a soul of a pig in them. Get out with ye!”
“Give over, honey, or it will be the worse for ye,” said Sullivan. “It's my own place where I'm lying entirely, and the prospect beyond is not so pleasing to the eye as it was, honey: that's all.”
“The more's the reason you should be bestirring yourself, like me, to hide what's left us in the bog.”
“What do you mean, if your soul is not gone astray?” inquired the husband.
“Work, work! if you'd save a gun, or a bed, or a bottle of spirits from the proctor. Into the bog with 'em, if you wouldn't have him down upon you, hearing, as he will, how little is left to pay the tithe. Leave off, I tell you,” she shouted to poor Dora; “whisht, and give over with your whirring and whirring, that wearies the ears of me. Leave off, or by this and that, l'll make you sorry.”
Dora did her best to understand the evil to be apprehended, and to guard against it. She roused her father from his posture of affected case, sought out a hiding-place among the rushes in a waste tract, where they might stow their household goods, and helped to strip the dwelling as actively as if they had been about to remove to a better abode. While her father and she were laden with the chest which contained her mother's bridal provision of bed-linen, which had thus far been preserved from forfeiture, a clapping of hands behind them made them turn and observe a sign that enemies were at hand.
“By the powers, here, they come,” cried her father. “Work, work, for the bare life, my jewel. In with it, and its back we'd be going with as innocent faces as if we'd been gathering rushes. Here, pull your lap full.”
Dora could not at first tell whether their movements had been observed.
“God save you, kindly, Mr. Shehan,” said Sullivan to the proctor. “Its just in time you'd be come to see the new way of thatching we have got, and these gentlemen to take a lesson, may be. Dora, my jewel, throw down the rushes and get some more out of hand.”
“One of my gentlemen shall go with her,” said Shehan. “There are things among the rushes sometimes, Sullivan, that fill a house as well as thatch it.”
Dora invited any of the gentlemen to help her, and led the way to a rush bank, in an opposite direction; but, declining to follow her lead, they entered the house, and laughed, when they found it completely empty.
“You're grown mightily afraid of the sky, Sullivan,” observed Shehan, “since you'd be after mending your thatch, sooner than getting a bed to lie on, to say nothing of a bit and sup, which I don't see you have to be boasting of.”
All Sullivan's good reasons why he should suddenly mend his thatch with rushes that lay “convaynient” went for nothing with the proctor, who had caught a glimpse of the stratagem. The claim for tithes, arrears, and fees was urged, certain ominous-looking papers produced, and no money being forthcoming, the goods were found and carried off, even down to Dora's wheel, with the flax upon it. The proctor gave no heed to the despair of the destitute tenants, but rather congratulated himself on having heard of the former seizures in time to appropriate what remained.
Of those whom he had left behind, the father lay down once more in the doorway, declaring himself nigh hand brokenhearted, and melancholy entirely; his wife went about to interest the neighbours in their wrongs; and Dora kneeled at her prayers in the darkest comer of the cabin. After a time, when the twilight began to thicken, her father, started up in great agitation, and dared somebody outside to come in and see what he could find for rent, or tithes, or tolls, or tax of any kind. His creditors might come swarming as thick as boys going to a fair, but they would find nothing, thanks to the proctor: unless they carried him off bodily, they might go as they came, and he would try whose head was the hardest before it came to that. Dora perceived that her father was in too great a passion to listen to one who seemed not to be a creditor; and she went to the door to interpose. More quick-sighted than her father, she .instantly saw, through the dim light, that it was Dan; and not even waiting for the assurance of his voice, threw herself on his neck, while he almost stifled her with caresses.
“Dan, are you come back true? Just speak that word.”
“True as the saints to the blessed, darling of my heart.”
“Then God is merciful to send you now, for we want true friends to raise us up, stricken as we are to the bare ground.”
“Bare ground, indeed,” cried Dan, entering and looking for a resting-place, on which to deposit the sobbing and clinging Dora. “They have used you basely, my heart's life, but trust to me to make it up in your own way to each of you. You trust me, Dora, don't you, as the priest gave leave?”
Dora silently intimated her trust in her lover's faith, which it had never entered her head to doubt—love having thus far been entirely unconnected in her mind with thoughts of the world's gear. She wept on his shoulder, leaving it to her father to tell the story of their troubles, and only looked up when she heard her mother's voice approaching, to ask, with great simplicity. what they were to do next?
“To be married in the morning, if father Glenny was at hand, and consenting,” her lover replied. He had two guineas in his pocket for the fees; and then they would be all on a footing, (as he had no more money,) and must help one another to justice and prosperity as well as they could. Sullivan interposed a few prudent objections, but soon gave up when he found his little Dora was against him. The fact was, that her filial duty, religion, and love, all plied her at once in favour of an immediate marriage. She had always had a firm faith that Dan could achieve anything he pleased; a faith which was much confirmed by his having paid his father's rent, and saved, moreover, enough for his marriage fees. It appeared to her that Providence had sent this able helper in the time of her parents' need, aud that it was not for her to prevent his lifting them out of poverty as speedily as might be.
Dan told them that there was to be a letting of land in the neighbourhood, the next day; and that if he made sure in time of having Dora for his cabin-keeper, he would bid for an acre or two, and did not doubt to do as well in the world as his father before him. Of all this, Dora's mother, on her return, seemed to have no more doubt than the rest of the party; and she immediately dismissed all her cares, except the regret that she could not walk so far as to see her daughter married. Dan was now requested to name his hour for departure in the morning, and to go home to his father, who had had but a hasty glimpse of him on his return. He busied himself in obtaining some clean dry straw and a rush candle for his poverty-stricken friends, overwhelmed Dora with caresses, and ran home.
Dora had little imagined, two hours before, with what a light heart she should lie, this night, on the cold floor of their bare cabin. To have Dan to lean upon was everything. She could not admit any further fear for the future. They had only to begin the world again, that was all; and with the advantage, too, of Dan's experience and skill in getting money; which it did not occur to her, might be of no avail, where no money could be got, or where it passed immediately into the hands of one tyrannical claimant or another. This ease from apprehension formed the substratum of her happy thoughts of this night; and it was her filial piety, only, which made the matter of so much importance to her. For herself, it was enough that Dan was her own. She had not a wish beyond what would be bestowed by the priest's office and blessing, which she hoped so soon to have obtained.
Father Glenny, though at first surprised at being called on to perform the marriage ceremony so early in the morning, and before so few witnesses, and mortified on behalf of the young folks, that the customary revelry and sanction of numbers must be dispensed with in their case, had nothing to say against the proceeding. Having ascertained that the friends of both parties approved he went on to exhort the young couple to remember that they were now in the act of fulfilling a divine command, and to trust for the blessing of God on their union accordingly. He then performed the ceremony and dismissed them: the bridegroom having taken care, as a point of honour, that the priest should not lose much in respect of fees, the amount being tendered by the parties instead of collected from an assemblage of guests. Father Glenny did not refuse the offering. He was unwilling to wound the feelings of the offerers: he was not aware of the extent of their poverty; and, moreover, considered the fees his due, even more than a Protestant clergyman would have done in a similar instance,—the remuneration of the Catholic clergy in Ireland being principally derived from marriage fees.
The pressure of the times obliged the proceedings of the whole party to be more businesslike than is at all usual on the day of an Irish wedding. The bridegroom stayed but to give his Dora into her mother's arms, and then set off, accompanied by Sullivan, for the place where two or three lots of ground were to be let by auction, or, as the phrase goes, by cant.
They were just in time to take a survey of the lots before bidding. There was small choice of advantages; for the preceding tenants, knowing that they need not hope for a renewal, and that the mode of letting by cant would, in all probability, turn them out of the place, had exhausted the land to the utmost for the last two or three years. This measure not only gave them as much as they could obtain for the time, but afforded a chance of getting the lot back again on cheaper terms. The excessive competition which is usual on such occasions, however, made this last hope a very doubtful one. The only thing that was certain beforehand was, that the affair would prove a very bad bargain to all parties:—to the landlord, because his land was nearly ruined, and little rent would, therefore, be paid, however much was promised; to the successful bidder, because he would be unable to fulfil his absurd promises about the rent, and be therefore liable to driving, distraint, or ejectment; and to the unsuccessful bidders, because they had come a great way, full of hopes and visions of being able to settle on the land, and must return destitute as they came, and disappointed.
A crowd surrounded the man of power, as soon as he appeared on the ground. Many an offering had he had that morning of dutiful service, of overstrained civility, or of something more substantial, from those who could afford it, with the hope of inclining him to favour their particular bid. The most diversified claims to a preference were whispered into his ear, or exhibited before his eyes, wherever he went. One had picked up the landlord's heir, when thrown by his pony into a bog in childhood; another had had the honour of lodging the agent, one stormy night, among the mountains. One limped ostentatiously before Mr. Flanagan, to remind him that the lameness happened from one of the landlord's fences having fallen upon him, while dozing beneath its shelter; another, a feeble old man, pleaded a yet unfulfilled promise of a Mr. Tracey who had been in his grave nearly thirty years.
Mr. Flanagan took no further notice of all this than to bid the people get out of his way. From many a clutch did he disengage his skirts; on many a petition, savoured with a scent of potheen, did he turn his back; many a venerable blue topcoat, and gray cloak, did he elbow from his side, before he could proceed to business. When once begun, it required an eye as practised, and an ear as inured, as his, to distinguish that any business was proceeding, amidst the hubbub of voices, the shoving, jostling, and scrambling, which took place while the bidding went on. The confusion fairly baffled some lookers on, who stopped their horses on the outskirts of the crowd to observe the scene. Mr. Alexander Rosso, just from college, his brother Henry, and a foreign gentleman, a college friend of the former, were taking their morning ride, surrounded by their dogs, when it occurred to Alexander, that this was the occasion on which to exhibit to his friend the resemblance between the Irish and his countrymen. He was scarcely aware that the occasion on which the people were assembled was similar to that which often collects the Italian peasantry in groups, to contend with equal vehemence for slips of land, which they hold on the same terms. The Irish cottier is of the same class with the metayer of Italy; and middlemen are, with few exceptions, alike all the world over: they are what it is natural to expect men to be under circumstances of strong temptation to oppression and of absolute impunity.
The Italian gentleman, after gazing with fixed attention, and an amused expression of countenance, for some minutes, used an expressive gesture, to intimate that he could make nothing of it.
“The first lot is disposed of, Henry, is it not?” asked Alexander. “That half-naked, capering fellow bid highest, I think.”
“Yes,” replied Henry; “and he looks as if he had just had the mines of Peru given him.”
“He!” exclaimed the foreigner, in astonishment. “And how will he pay?”
“No one will pay all,” replied Henry, laughing. “The agent can only weigh probabilities; and if he happens to know that that poor fellow has a little coin hidden somewhere, to help him on for a year or two, he will stop at his bidding as the highest.”
“But why stop? Is it not the people's part to stop?”
“We might wait long enough for that,” replied Alexander. “They will bid against each other till midnight. They will offer a hundred per annum per acre rather than lose their chance of getting the land. Our people are very rich in promises.”
“And how much has the ragged man promised?”
“Flanagan!” shouted Henry, above the din, which sank to silence in a moment, “how much has your first lot brought you?”
“Nine pounds per acre, Sir, and yonder stands the tenant.”
The successful bidder, came forward, smiling and scraping, not a whit ashamed of the bare knees which had burst through what had once been breeches, or of the tatters which were bound about his person, in various directions, by hayropes, there being no other way of keeping them together.
“Ask him,” urged the eager foreigner, “ask him where his pounds are to come from, and why he wishes to be a farmer.”
“There is most likely a lady in the case,” observed Henry; and then turning to the man, he inquired whether he had not done a very daring thing in engaging to pay so high a yearly sum?
“God save your honour kindly, the mother is turned out of her own, beyond there; and its a cabin I'm wishing to give her, old creature as she is, and a bite and sup with me.”
“And is there nobody else, friend, likely to be your cabin-keeper?”
The man's countenance fell, and he replied that there was to have been one last Shrovetide, but that she was forcibly carried off, and married to another man, before he could overtake her. Henry turned the subject hastily, shocked at his own curiosity, which had led to such a disclosure. He asked the man whether he could honestly say that he had a week's provision beforehand for his mother and himself? The tenant laughed and pointed to his new ground, saying that they might glean potatoes enough among the ridges, after the digging, to keep them for a few days till they could look about them a bit. His mother moreover had a cow, and a slip of a pig. He ended by bewitchingly asking for the “blissen” on his enterprise. The foreigner was amused to observe that in Ireland a blessing comes out of the pocket instead of the mouth; not that the verbal blessing is absolutely worthless; but it is considered merely as an accessory to something more substantial.
The process of giving the blessing quickened the bidding, as it was feared the gentlemen might leave the ground before the next successful candidate was ready to pay his smiling service. The lot was awarded to Dan, who, after tossing up his hat, advanced towards the horsemen, followed by his father-in-law. They observed to one another that he looked better qualified than his predecessor to pay rent, his dress being decent, and his manner betokening more forethought and experience.
“Have you an old mother to find a shelter for, too?” inquired Alexander.
“There's the mother and the father too that's to the fore,” replied Dan, turning to introduce Sullivan.
“And the darling too that's been his wife almost since the sun rose,” added Sullivan. “Dan has had the priest's blessing this morn, and sure your honours' won't be long in following?”
“I would have married in the evening, Dan, if I had been you,” said Henry. “The land first, and then the girl, is the prudent way, you know. How would you have managed, if you had had the girl without the land?”
Dan could not pretend to guess what Providence's other way of providing for him and Dora would have been; the actual case was as much as any man had to do with. This reasoning put him in the actual case of receiving a large blessing from the foreigner, who then rode off with his companions, notwithstanding the vehement prayers of the crowd that they would stay till the third and last lot was disposed of. They had neither time nor further blessing to spare this day. They did not, however, escape by turning their backs. The third new tenant was posted in the middle of their road homewards, and on their approach, extended his arms, as if to embrace the three horses with their riders, praying for an infinity of blessings on their merciful an tender and bountiful hearts, and expressing his expectation that he should begin the world with a trifle from their honours, like Pat and Dan.
“See what you have done, Henry.,” said his brother. “We shall be expected to pay tribute, henceforward, to every new tenant, as often as a cant takes place within twenty miles.”
Henry set himself seriously to explain that their bounty of this day was purely accidental, and that none of the party meant to give again on a similar occasion. He would not dismiss the present applicant without a gift, since his companions had had one; but he gave him less than the others, in order to enforce what he had said. The man followed for some way, keeping close in their rear in hope of their relenting, and then retired to the road side, grumbling as if defrauded of a right.
“It is the most difficult thing in the world,” observed Henry, “to deal with these people; they have such strange notions of right. Every favour is immediately considered as a precedent to be for ever acted upon: every change in our methods of doing kindness is looked upon as caprice, and every suspension of a gratuity as an injury.”
“The same is the case in all regions,” observed the foreigner, “where the people have other dependence than on themselves. If it is remarkable in Ireland and in Italy, it is because the people of these unhappy countries have been long educated by political injury to servile dependence. It is for you to rectify their notions of right.”
“How must we do so?”
“You must make their little possessions secure, and also fortify their labours with the moral certainty of a due reward. While this is being done,—and it will be long in the doing,—you must vary your modes of charity perpetually, in testimony of its being optional: and O, above all things, save your poor from the blight of a legal charity! Save them from the delusion that they have a right, which, among a reckless people, would presently absorb all other rights, making cottiers of your middlemen, and beggars of your landlords, and converting this fertile region into a wilderness, which shall but echo the wild cry of famine.”
The accidental bounty of the Mr. Rossos enabled Dan to furnish himself with the few tools he needed to begin his tillage, and his wife with a wheel and a small stock of flax. As for clothes, they were obliged to wear, day and night, those they had on, having neither a change for the day, nor a bed which might supersede the use of them at night. This was thought no great hardship by any of the family, for it was a very common one. Many of their neighbours never attempted to undress after their garments had passed a certain point of wear. The most tidy, who really did patch their clothes very patiently while the patches would hold together, were for the most part content, after that time, to tie them on till they dropped away in fragments. Their reason for not undressing was one which their reproving superiors could not gainsay;—that, once off, no power on earth could get the garments on again. This was nearly the condition now of Sullivan's clothing and that of his wife; but they could scarcely trouble themselves to think of such a trifle in the midst of the affairs they were undertaking. New life and spirit had been given them by the timely support yielded by their connexion with Dan; and they all, under his direction, gave full play to the spirit of enterprise which ever distinguishes the Irish when in prospect of an equitable recompense of their exertions. Sullivan might now be seen toiling as a labourer under his son-in-law, thatching the cabin-roof (now in earnest) with rushes from the sandbanks, or bringing sand from the beach to work into the boggy soil of the potato-field, or cutting turf for fuel, or even carrying loads of it on his back for sale. The first money thus gained went to hire a pack-horse from one of Mr. Rosso's tenants, for the carrying out a further supply of turf; and this answered so well, that Dan finished by selling their own store, and making fuel for home consumption, after the manner of the Irish peasantry, when the turf in the neighbourhood is exhausted; that is, by scraping up what is left in the state of mire, and baking and shaping it with the hand till it becomes dry enough to be combustible. Their food was but poor as to quantity and quality, till Dan thought himself justified in adding a quarter of a cow to his establishment; from which time, potatoes and milk, milk and potatoes, were thought as good a provision as they had a right to look for.
When that which is usually the idle season came round, namely, the weeks which succeed the potato-sowing, when nothing more is to be done to the crop, Dan proposed a grand scheme to his father-in-law,—nothing less than to enlarge their cabin by adding a room at the end. Sullivan smacked his lips, and stretched himself, somewhat mortified to have his expected period of rest broken in upon by new toils: but, remembering that the summer nights were, indeed, somewhat oppressive to four people sleeping within a space of twelve feet by eight, with no air-hole but the door; and looking forward, moreover, to the inconveniences of Dora's confinement in such a place, he gave a groaning assent to the undertaking, and went through his part of it with a tolerable grace. He cursed, for his own sake, however proud for his daughter's, the grand notions which Dan seemed to have about a cabin, making the new apartment half as long again as the old one, and leaving space in the mud wall for a window. When finished, however, all was right in his eyes, and he did not sigh, as did the young folks, for yet more comforts; if indeed, they were not rather necessaries. Dora wished for a bed for her mother, who was growing more and more weakly, and got little rest on her bundle of straw. Dan wished for the same comfort for Dora, but was obliged at present to content himself with looking forward to the time when they might increase their stock of fowls, and obtain feathers enough from them, to sew up in a sack, and make a bed of. He had a little money by him, and was often tempted to spend it in Dora's behalf; but they both agreed that the first necessity was, to keep out of the clutches of the agent and the tithe proctor. Of paying the whole rent, there was but little chance; but as they had no partners, and as nobody near was likely to pay better than themselves, they hoped to satisfy the agent with such a proportion as might fairly average what he was in the habit of receiving in lieu of the nominal rent. On the whole, they considered themselves going on “fair and easy, and prosperous entirely.”
They had been nearly a year in their abode, the rent-day was coming round, and many jokes were continually suggested by that fruitful topic, when Father Glenny looked in upon them, in the course of his customary circuit among his people. Dora came curtseying to the door to invite him to repose himself on the turf seat within; her mother rose feebly to pay her reverence as he entered, and hoped he would be pleased to remain till her husband and Dan returned; the one being at work some way off, and the other having business to settle with the agent. The priest, who looked remarkably grave, assured her he was in no hurry, and examined their countenances as if to discover whether they had any thing particular to communicate. As they waited, “mannerly” for him to introduce his own topics, he began by remarking on the improvements in the place, and enquiring into the worldly condition of its inhabitants. His countenance brightened as he listened to their cheerful reports of their prospects, but he still seemed uneasy till he had put one question. Had Dan taken care to secure the lease? he asked; adding that this was a point on which many tenants were unaccountably and disastrously careless. They would put off signing and securing for months, if not years, after taking possession, and many were the cases in which he had known them rue their procrastination. Dora replied with a smile, that she hoped she might, by this time, say that the lease was in her husband's pocket; it had been drawn up, almost ever since they settled in this place, but, for some reason or another, never signed till now, such being her husband's business with the agent this morning, and also to pay the first year's rent. At this moment, Sullivan burst in, exclaiming, “Lord save us! your reverence, what can have fallen out now? Here's Dan coming up the glen, raving like mad, and my own eyes seen him hold up his fist at the agent; and they, as quiet as lambs together till now.”
Dora was flying out to meet her husband, when the priest laid his hand on her arm.
“Stop, my daughter, and listen to me,” he said. “I know it all. For your husband's sake hear it from me, that you may not add to his passion. Remember your vow of trust, daughter, and renew it now, in your time of need.”
Dora sat down trembling, beseeching, by her looks, that she might hear the truth at once. Father Glenny related that Mr. Tracey had written to his agent to say, that it was evident to him that his property had been much injured, and the condition of his tenantry no less so, by the subdivision of land having been encouraged to too great an extent: that it was his pleasure that the reverse process of consolidation should immediately begin; and that for this purpose, no new leases of small portions of land should be given, and no partnership tenancies allowed henceforward; his intention being, that instead of a small plot of ground supporting many holders, one substantial holder should unite several small plots of ground into a respectably-sized farm. The zealous agent, Father Glenny went on to say, had looked round him to see how many tenants he could eject, and had put Dan and his family down in his list; the unfortunate delay in signing the lease having put their little possession into his power. When Dora had made sure that this was all, she turned to her father who was standing against the wall, tattooing with his brogues upon the threshold. She might have thought that he did not hear the news but that he was humming in an under voice the tune to which he had sung, on a somewhat similar occasion, the burden—
“The curse o'Jasus light on ye all!”
His old wife not daring to give vent to her anger in the presence of the priest, had hooded her head with her petticoat tail, and ceased her spinning. Father Glenny was beginning a strain of consolation when Sullivan cried,
“O murther, Dora, my darling, what a sight it is to see Dan raging like the sea itself! King of Glory! he is mad entirely.”
The priest placed himself by the threshold, so as to be the first to meet the unhappy man. At the sight of the black coat, the oaths and threats were silenced; and presently the knit brow relaxed, the fierce eye was tamed before Father Glenny's mild, serious gaze. Before any words were exchanged, Dora drew her husband in with a smile, and asked him how they were worse off now than on their wedding morning, and where was the wonder of young and poor people like themselves having to go forth again to seek a home? She did not doubt they should again find one, and have a warm corner moreover for her father when he should be past his work.
Her husband impatiently stopped her, saying that there were no more homes to be had for poor tenants, and that if she wanted a warm corner, she must seek it among the beggar's haunts in the towns, —warm enough, with seven families in a cellar; a comfortable place truly, for her babe to be born in, and her parents to end their days in; and disregarding the priest's presence, he prayed for confusion on every mother's son of the Traceys from the first that had gone before, to the last that should come after. This brought Father Glenny to interpose.
“Peace, my son!” he said. “It is blasphemy to curse man for the judgments of heaven.”
He was going on, but Dan interrupted him to say that he was not thinking of heaven at all in the matter. What he cursed was the clearing of the estate, and the cruelty of those who would turn so many out of house and home —Father Glenny still insisted that this was heaven's work, since the Traceys were no Protestants, no strangers in the land, but members of the true church, ancient possessors of the soil, only kept at a distance by being deprived of their political rights, and as anxious as gentry should be, for the prosperity of their people. He mentioned that Mr. Tracey, while giving the fatal order, had mentioned the good of the tenantry as one of the motives thereto, it was clear to him that good would arise out of this measure, shine poverty had increased in proportion to the subdivision of the land; and the distress which must prevail in the mean time, should be patiently borne as the judgment of heaven on the sins of the poor, and on the slowness of the rich to divide their substance with the needy.—Dora, who was accustomed to receive with reverence whatever her priest let fall, enquired humbly whether he would have them go and ask assistance from Mr. Rosso, he being the only person in their neighbourhood who had substance to divide with the needy. Father Glenny shook his head, sighed, and advised them to remain where they were, till he should have considered their case and that of some of their neighbours, who were suffering under similar calamity. On inquiring whether they had any savings, Dora joyfully mentioned the rent, naturally supposing that Dan would not part with it when he found how matters stood; but her countenance fell when she extracted from her now moody husband the fact that the agent had received him with a smiling countenance, requested him to count down the money while he prepared his pen and ink, signed to his assistant to sweep off the gold, silver, and copper into a drawer and turn the key, and then, and not before, explained the necessity he was under, of refusing to fulfil his engagement, scoring the lease from corner to corner with his newly-mended pen as he spoke, and bidding the insulted Dan move aside to make way for his betters, who were fortunate enough not to have put off signing and sealing.
“Then we have nothing left,” said Dora calmly.
“Murther!” cried her father, “and we might have had an elegant bed to have carried away on the shoulders of us, instead of a coat that has nothing left but the sleeves, by reason of their having never been used. And much besides is it we might have had if you had let us be comfortable, Dan, and leave the rent to take care of itself in peace. By dad, we may very well pass for beggars without any pretending.”
His son-in-law looked fiercely at him, and the priest interposed to show that it was all right. All were to have their dues, and Mr. Tracey should, therefore, receive his rent; for paying which honestly, Dan might fully trust he should never suffer. After more words of exhortation and comfort, the priest gave Dora a small present of money, and expressed his hope of seeing them all at mass in the morning, after which he would converse further with them on their affairs.
Dan stood watching him from the door, after receiving his blessing with a dubious expression of countenance. Dora had sunk down at her mother's feet, hiding her face in her lap, when she heard her husband say, “Praise to the powers, he's out of sight! Up with you, you women, and all ready for nightfall.”
To the question of all three, what he meant to do? Dan replied, by giving orders, in a tone which none dared disobey. He made Sullivan take a spade and dig up, with all his might, potatoes which were not yet fit for cropping. Dora found up sacks and turf-panniers, and Dan proceeded, as soon as twilight came on, to impress into his temporary service a horse which grazed in the neighbourhood. On this animal he packed the panniers, so as to afford a seat between them, and then commanded the trembling Dora to mount by his assistance. She clasped her hands, crying,
“O, Dan! where will you be for taking us in the dark night? You are over full of haste, I'm thinking, Dan.”
His only reply was to lift her upon the horse.
“My mother!” cried Dora, weeping. “You will not leave her alone; and if my father stays without us, depend on it he will call in the neighbours.”
Dan lifted her down again, went for the old woman (who had seemed stupified ever since the news came), placed her between the panniers, gruffly desired Dora to remain behind till her turn came, and began to lead the horse up the hill which stretched towards the sea-shore. Dora followed, however, at some distance, determined to see whither her mother was to be conducted. The horse was a grey one, which enabled her to keep within sight, and out of hearing, amidst the increasing darkness. It was a dreary walk, over four or five miles of boggy ground; and many times would she have called out for her husband's help, if she had not feared his present mood more than the stormy sky above and the treacherous soil beneath. Gusts of wind blew from the sea, piercing her with cold through her scanty raiment. Drenching showers were dashed in her face, blinding her so effectually for many minutes together, that she would have lost the track and have sunk yet deeper than she did in the bog, if the same cause had not obliged those whom she followed to stop also, and turn their backs for awhile to the storm. The fitful gale brought to her the feeble wailings of the old woman, and the growlings of her impatient husband, who cursed heaven, earth, and hell, at every impediment to their progress. During one of their pauses on a ridge, over which the roaring of the sea rose more distinctly to their ears, Dora came closer upon them than she intended. The horse started, and his snort seemed to be answered from a distance by a cry. The old woman saw something waving near her, and screamed, and Dan himself shook with superstitious terror at the very moment that he swore another oath at those who were scared when the echoes were up and awake on a stormy night.
“The echoes are up and awake,” said Dora, venturing round to her husband's side. “Take care, Dan, that they repeat nothing you would not have heaven hear.”
As she expected, his anger was now turned on her, for risking her own life and her child's by so perilous a walk. She made no reply, but held by his arm till they arrived at their destination, thankful that he had slackened his pace and moderated his wrath somewhat, as if in consideration for her. They stopped on the extreme verge of the cliff when Dan desired his wife to hold the horse while he carried her mother home. She was not left for many minutes to conjecture what this home could be. Her husband led her down to a doorless and half-unroofed cabin, placed just so far below the verge of the cliff as to be unseen from the land. Having lodged both the women under shelter, Dan tried to strike a light with a flint and steel he had brought with him; but as fast as the little rush candle was lit, it blew out again, there being no corner of the hovel free from draughts. There was nothing for it but to abide in wet, cold, and darkness, till dawn. The horse being unloaded, Dan mounted, and bidding the women expect Sullivan and himself before morning, set off again across the bog. Three hours afterwards they appeared with another horse, and a heavier load; and, to Dora's disappointment, her husband again left her, not saying this time when he should return. Sullivan expressed his belief that Dan's purpose was to spoil the place as much as possible before morning, and then to hide himself for a time in some such convenient sort of place as he hinted he had thoughts of betaking himself to the next day. No inquiries could get out of him what sort of place that was.
Dora spent the rest of the night in mounting from the hut to the cliff, and descending from the cliff to the hut, trying to comfort her mother meanwhile, who lay moaning and peevishly complaining of manifold evils that it was impossible to remedy. Towards morning, it startled Dora on her watch to perceive a bright light burning in the direction of their late abode. She called Sullivan to look at it, who forthwith began to wave his hat, crying,
“Hilloo, hilloo! Dan is the boy in the world to deal with Flanagan. Hilloo! Dan, my darling, you've finished the job out of hand! 'Twill be as good as a year's rent to see the agent overlook the place, let alone the tenant. It's burning—the cabin is, nay jewel, and the turf-stack beside it; and it warms my heart at this distance!”
“And Dan—where is Dan, father?”
“O, the cratur, he'd just stop up the drain, and cut the pig's throat, and throw him into the bog, and see that everything that he couldn't bring with him is put in the way of the fire; and then he would set it alight, and creep off some roundabout way to us here.”
This was exactly what took place: and the device was so much to the taste of most of the ejected tenants, that the example was followed to a great extent before a sufficient force could be summoned to check this destruction of property. For the next three nights, fires were visible here and there in the dark and dreary glen. As fast as the agent and his body-guard galloped from one point of watch to another, a blaze arose in their rear; and as soon as they arrived at the scene of destruction, the perpetrators had vanished, and it was too late to do any good. A mocking laugh came, from time to time, out of the darkness which surrounded the horsemen, in the intervals of the conflagrations; but this always happened on spots where the ground on either side the road was not of a kind to be attempted on horseback. In the morning, slain pigs, not in condition to be made food of, were found scattered on the road; houghed horses lay groaning about the fields; and many a poor cow was burned in its shed. The agent was driven half frantic by these insults and injuries. He sent messenger after messenger for soldiers, called on Mr. Rosso, his sons, and tenants for assistance; and besides taking these necessary measures of defence, pointed out every cottier already ejected, or about to be so, as a criminal; exasperated every man he met by his insults; and rode against the women and overthrew the children as often as he passed a party of homeless wanderers, going they cared not whither, and to be kept alive they knew not how. It appeared so clear to the young Rossos that Flanagan was endangering his own life, and aggravating the evils of the time, by awakening the revengeful passions of the people, that one or other of them kept continually beside him, in order, by their presence, to impose a restraint upon him, and, by their mediation, to sooth the wounds he inflicted. They well knew that, by thus associating themselves with so obnoxious a person, they ran the risk of being hated by the people; but this risk they had courage to brave for a time in a good cause,
Alexander had taken his turn one day, when he rode up to join his father and brother, who had compassed a circuit of observation in a different direction, and were now returning home to refresh themselves before beginning their evening watch.
“Father,” said Alexander, “do you mean to forbid your tenants to receive any of these ejected cottagers?”
“Certainly not: it is no affair of mine.”
“So I thought; but Flanagan has not only been routing out some poor creatures from a barn of one of Tracey's tenants, but has taken upon him to declare that they must remove themselves out of the district, as they would be harboured neither by you nor any of the proprietors in it.”
“What business has the fellow to answer for anybody but himself?” said Mr. Rosso. “However, the poor people know more of the matter than he does. They know that I am harbouring many, — as many, alas! as I can afford to reheve. Would this were all over, boys! Every case I hear of seems a harder one than the last; and it breaks one's heart to leave them to take their chance, See, from this very point, what melancholy groups of them:—aged parents, or helpless children, or weakly women in each, to be a burden upon the spirit-broken cottager!”
“Where will they go? What will become of them, father?”
“The greater part will crowd into the towns, and herd by hundreds under the same roof, till the fever sweeps half of them away. Others will stroll the country as beggars; and others will live by plunder. The most fortunate of them will be those who will beg enough in crossing the island to pay their way over the sea in search of English wages. The noblest in their natures, the brave and high-spirited, will become white-boys, and die amidst acts of outrage, or on the gibbet. So much for that policy of landlords, by which they first increase the numbers of their tenantry, in order, by force of competition, to let their land high; and then, finding that they have gone too far, take a fit of consolidation, and make no provision for the crowd they called up around them, and now deprive of the means of subsistence. What think you of such policy, Henry?”
“I was just thinking, Sir, that it is rather surprising to me that you lift up your voice, on all occasions, against establishing poor-laws in Ireland, while you have such scenes as these before your eyes.”
“While that question is pending, Sir,” said Alexander,—“and it is a question which will not be speedily settled, and which, if settled in the affirmative, will bring tedious arrangements after it,—in the meanwhile, is not Tracey bound, by every merciful consideration, to give his ejected tenants dwellings elsewhere? Ought not each one of them now to have a slip of land on yonder mountain-side, and wherewith to build himself a cabin?”
“That would afford no present relief,” observed Henry. “Besides having to build their cabins, the people must drain and manure their ground by a process of many months, before it will yield them the food they are this day in want of.”
“Even supposing these new lots to be prepared before the ejectment was served,” said Mr. Rosso, “the plan would be a bad one. It would secure a future repetition of precisely the same evils we are deploring to-day. Bad cultivation and over-population, through the too extensive subdivision of land, are our grievances; and to remedy them, Alexander, you would begin afresh to divide and subdivide, and encourage the increase of numbers as before. This seems to me scarcely reasonable.”
“But the poor-laws we were talking of, Sir,” interrupted Henry; “do tell me how you can resist pleading for them. Tell me, if you please, that these poor people have been idle and improvident—tell me that they have brought families into the world without a prospect of maintaining them; but tell me whether such destitution as theirs is not a dreadful punishment for what are, after all, more faults than crimes. Look, too, at the number of innocent persons that suffer: the old, who lie down to die by the wayside after a life of toil; the infants, who expire of hunger on their mothers' breasts; the sickly, who, instead of being tended by careful hands, are shrinking and shivering in the wet and cold;— look at these wretches, in contrast with Tracey, living in luxury abroad, on funds wrung from the misery of his tenantry. ...“
“Tracey is a benevolent man,” interrupted Alexander; “he may be mistaken in the way in which he sets about improving the condition of his tenantry, and he may have chosen his agent badly; but he is far from being a hard-hearted man.”
“True,” replied Henry, “and all this makes for my argument. Levy a rate upon him, and he will no longer be insensible to what passes at home; the burden of relieving distress will no longer fall wholly upon the charitable,—upon you, father, and your kindhearted tenants, who are giving up their barns for lodging, and rood after rood of their potato-grounds, for food for the destitute. O, father, when I see these things, —the calamity of the oppressed, the insensibility of the oppressor, the liabilities of the charitable, the exemption of the selfish and the avaricious, I cannot but cry out for the interposition of the strong arm of the law to rectify these monstrous abuses, by making charity compulsory.”
“If the law could rectify these abuses, Henry, I would cry out with as loud a voice as you. It is because I am convinced that a legal charity would only aggravate them, that I advocate other methods of rectification. We all know that a permanent state of comfort depends on character. Do we not?”
“Certainly: we might give and give for ever to a set of depraved paupers, without any better result than impoverishing ourselves.”
“True. Well; the mistake seems to me to lie in supposing that, as character and comfort are connected, we must produce character by giving comfort; whereas this is beginning at the wrong end; and the results have always been the direct reverse of what was expected. We must begin at the other end. . . .”
“But, my dear father, how long it must be before education can work. . . .”
“Remember, Henry, there is another kind of education always going forwards, besides that of our reading and writing schools—the education of circumstances. By our present institutions, we educate our peasantry to indolence and improvidence; and by calling in Poor-laws, we should only be appointing an additional teacher to enforce the same bad lessons. Instead of this, I would fain have institutions which should stimulate, instead of superseding industry,—which should cherish, instead of extinguishing true charity,—and ensure its due reward to prudence, instead of offering a premium to improvidence.”
“I know the evils you speak of have grown out of the English pauper system; but must they, therefore, be inherent in every system of legal charity?”
“They must; because the supposition of a right to assistance is involved in the very notion of a legal provision; and herein lies the mischief. You will never improve character (which is the same as improving the external condition), while you separate character and its consequences,—while a right to support is accorded to any man, whether his conduct be wise or foolish, correct or profligate. Lay hold of a child, teach him effectually that industry and prudence are the means of comfort, and you put comfort within his reach. Take the profligate, or the reckless man, in his middle age, give him the means of comfort, and you will not give him character; he will presently be as poor as ever, and the more reckless for having received arbitrary assistance.”
“The more arbitrary charity there is, the less natural will there be,” said Alexander. “In England, our peasantry are held in respect for their filial duty and neighbourly kindness;—too little known there, alas! except in the remote districts where the poor-laws have not yet shed their blight over the growth of kindly sympathies. Give us poor-laws, and here, too, the aged will be committed to the cold care of strangers, orphans will be without a home, and the maladies of the body will involve the soul-sickness of pauperism.”
“Such is the fate of the helpless in England,” said Mr. Rosso; “and their calamities are aggravated in precise proportion to the amount of legal relief provided. The most deplorable misery prevails in the southern counties, where the poor-rate is highest: the condition of the poor improves to the northward, where a dislike of this species of relief has been longer kept alive. There is still less distress in Scotland, where assessments for the poor are rare; and least of all where their condition is confided to voluntary charity. That the misery is as much the consequence as the cause of legal relief, is proved by the result of an experiment of abolishing a stated mode of relief. Pauperism was on the perpetual increase in a populous district under a system of assessment; the assessment was discontinued, and pauperism vanished. It was swept away by the current of human affections, as soon as they were restored to their natural channels.”
“It seems rather absurd, to be sure,” observed Alexander, “first to complain that the misery about us arises from the obstructions imposed on human powers, and then to seek to remedy it by obstructing the current of human affections.”
“But what, after all,” inquired Henry, “have these human affections done? Whence comes all this misery, if they have been left free?”
“They have been rendered impotent by the force of bad institutions,” replied his father; “they live and act, but are baulked of their natural rewards by the injustice of our economy, and the impolicy of our government. While industry is overloaded and foresight baffled, as at present, children may honour their parents, and the poor have compassion to one another, but they can yield little mutual support against indigence.”
“It seems rather an injury to Ireland, brother,” said Alexander, “to ask what its benevolent sympathies have done. Our public provision for lunacy and sickness, is greater than in England; and innumerable plans have been tried, at a great expense of capital and trouble, to lessen the amount of pauperism. That all have failed, betokens not a want of charity, but an overpowering counteraction from other quarters. If we look only at the Mendicity Associations, what vast sums have been raised by them as often as the increase of pauperism suggested to some the idea of a compulsory rate! All this voluntary charity would cease, as it has ceased elsewhere, upon the establishment of a poor rate.”
“But, father, we ought to give more every year as our resources increase; and they certainly are increasing on the whole.”
“They are; and this is another reason for deprecating an institution which would swallow up all we have gained, and effectually prevent the further progress to improvement. The vast and increasing unproductive consumption which takes place wherever there is a poor-rate, would presently absorb our now growing capital, and repress the spirit of improvement which is beginning to stir among us. Let our capital be allowed to spread itself naturally; let more and more of the lower classes be encouraged to clothe themselves decently, to add a room to their cabin, to exchange a portion of their potato diet for oatmeal or bread; and far more will be done for the lowest class of all, than if the earnings of the industrious were directly applied to the maintenance of paupers. I see bakers' shops beginning to appear in many of our villages; and I regard them as an indication of growing prosperity. If, in their place, I were to see workhouses, or any part of the apparatus of a legal charity, I should regard it as an indication that a final and overwhelming curse had lighted upon the land.”
“But, father, every poor-rate need not have the abuses of the English system. It is not an inherent necessity in a poor-rate, that it should grow in one century from five hundred thousand pounds to eight millions.”
“No; but the principle of growth is inherent in the system,;whether that growth be rapid or slow; and the destruction of the country in which it is established becomes merely a question of time. The only way to get the better of it is, to annihilate it in time; and this being the case, it is mere folly to call it in for the relief of temporary evils.”
“It seems to me,” said Alexander, “that such a system would aggravate the very evils we want to remedy. It is for want of capital that the land is subdivided too far. If revenue is so far absorbed by a poor-rate as to check its conversion into capital, this subdivision will go on.”
“Undoubtedly such would be the effect in our agricultural districts; and in the manufacturing towns the case would be as bad. Our linen-weavers would be a burden upon the rates in slack times, and their masters must encroach upon their wages-fund to support them; and thus the masters would be brought lower and lower, to the permanent injury of their men.”
“I do not believe,” observed Alexander, “that the thing could ever be done here. We have not the requisites. All have a nearly equal horror of an assessment; and I could name many parishes where there are none to manage the business, and many more where no one would undertake it.”
“There would soon be an end of that difficulty,” replied Mr. Rosso; “there are people enough ready to administer the fund for the sake of living upon it. We should have a new class of unproductive consumers introduced; and for every one of them we should lose a hardy labourer, who would commit to them his aged parents and helpless little ones, and go to seek good wages in England. A poor exchange truly!”
“Do you complain of numbers, father, and yet object to the emigration of our poor?”
“To that of productive consumers who leave all the helpless members of their families upon our hands; and of this kind of emigration there would be a vast increase upon the establishment of a pauper system. The same influence which would supersede domestic charities, would dissolve domestic ties: and would not a legal relief be an irresistible temptation to a man to throw his burdens upon the public, and go to seek his fortune elsewhere? If it is done already while no legal provision exists, it would be done more extensively upon the establishment of such a provision.”
“Well, then, Sir, what would you do? Something, I suppose.”
“By all means. I would do much, and without loss of time, lest there should be many lives to answer for.—Till education can be made universal in Ireland, so that the interests of the people can be safely committed to their own guardianship, we must weather the evils which surround us, opposing peculiar methods of relief to their peculiar stress. We must consolidate our small farms.....”
“O, father, look about you and see the consequences!”
“Hear me out, Henry. We must gradually consolidate our farms, removing our ejected population, not to other small holdings in the neighbourhood, but to regions where population is the one thing deficient. The people are already making efforts to do this for themselves, at a tremendous expense of hardship and danger. It should be done for them on a better plan by those who eject them, on the understanding that it is a temporary measure, caused by the new arrangement of landed property. The tenants who remain should be freed from the burden of supporting two religious establishments, from all interference between themselves and their landlords, from all impediments to the free exercise of their industry, and to the gradual accumulation of capital.”
“Might not emigration remedy the worst evils of the poor-laws, father?”
“We cannot afford, Henry, to be for ever doing and undoing in any such way. To increase numbers by poor-laws and lessen them by emigration, would cost endless toil and expense, and have our grievances untouched: but as a temporary measure, as a specific remedy for a specific grievance, nothing can be wiser, or, in our case, more necessary. Tracey meant to do a patriotic thing when he ordered the consolidation of this estate: the deed would have answered to the will, if he had done it more gradually, carefully providing a settlement in Canada or Australia for every family that he displaced.”
“And why not on some of our waste tracts at home?”
“Because much capital is required to bring them into a productive state; while, in the case of emigration, the only cost incurred is that of transportation to a place where capital super-abounds and labour is the one thing wanted.”
“And this then, you think, opens a fair prospect of improvement.”
“I do. If this plan be pursued in conjunction with the removal of the most galling of our political fetters, we may see Ireland the flourishing region nature intended her to be. If a pauper system be introduced instead, our case is hopeless. To use the words of one who well understands our maladies and their causes, ' its probable effect appears to me to be to fill Ireland with a population multiplying without forethought; impelled to labour principally by the fear of punishment; drawing allowance for their children, and throwing their parents on the parish; considering wages not a matter of contract but of right; attributing every evil to the injustice of their superiors; and, when their own idleness or improvidence has occasioned a fall of wages, avenging it by firing the dwellings, maiming the cattle, or murdering the persons of the landlords and overseers; combining, in short, the insubordination of the freeman with the sloth and recklessness of the slave.'”
The Sullivans and Mahonys were not immediately pursued. Dora watched by day and listened by night, in vain, for tokens of the approach of enemies, till she began to believe, as she was told, that the place of their retreat was not known; or, if known, was supposed to be so surrounded by a disaffected and desperate peasantry, as to render any attack too perilous to be attempted. That this last supposition was true she had some reason to believe, though she knew little more than Mr. Flanagan himself what was passing around her. Her father disappeared the day after their arrival on the coast; but he had since looked in on them, twice at night and once early in the morning which seemed to prove that his abode was not very distant from theirs. He brought with him each time a supply of whiskey for his sick wife, who was failing fast, and able to enjoy little besides a drop of spirits to warm her. These gifts, coupled with what Sullivan had let fall about what went on in the bog, led Dora to think that he had connected himself with an illicit distillery in the neighbourhood; but no confession could she get from him but eloquent gestures and significant snatches of song. Dan was yet more mysterious. His tenderness to his wife in great measure returned after the night of the flitting, but there was no confidence with it. He went and came at all hours, never saying where he had been, or how long he should be absent; but always desiring her not to be uneasy, and showing that he thought of home during his excursions by bringing little comforts for her mother and herself, which she wondered how he could procure. Once he threw over her shoulders a cloak which was much less rent and tattered than her own; another time he produced a packet of tea for his mother-in-law; and with it a handsome teapot and cups nicely secured in straw: lastly appeared a piece of fine linen for the use of the expected baby. Dan expected very warm thanks for this, as he knew that Dora's great anxiety was on account of nothing being provided for her little one, who would too probably scarcely outlive its birth in circumstances of destitution: but Dora looked at her husband with anguish in her countenance, saying,
“O, husband, you would not doom your child before it is born! You will not wrap it about with crime as soon as it sees the light! This is not earned, Dan. It cannot be yours; and my child shall not be touched with that which is stolen.”
Dan, far from being angry, coolly observed that when there was an end of justice, there was an end of law. If he was cut off from earning what he wanted, he must take it where he could get it; and to take it thus was a less crime than to let his family die of hunger, and his child of cold, while food and clothing were within reach. In answer to his wife's timid questions what this would avail him when the law was urged against him, and soldiers were dogging his heels, he laughed, and said that if the gentry brought the matter to that pass, he and others must fight for it. They had driven him out, and must not wonder if he did not come in again at their beck and call. If the orderlies chose to try their strength against the desperates, there should be a fair battle. He was ready to fight bravely or to swing merrily, according as the powers decreed the one party or the other to prevail.
Dan could not succeed in any degree in imparting his spirit of recklessness to his wife. She became more thoughtful as he grew less so: a deeper and deeper melancholy shaded her countenance. Her form wasted, her spirits were hurried, and she seemed unable to control her temper by other means than perfect silence. Instead of soothing her mother's complaints, and patiently answering her incessant questions, as formerly, she heard the former in silence, and escaped as often as possible from the latter. Her practice was to set within the old woman's reach whatever she was likely to want, and then wander out, sometimes sitting on a perilous projection of the cliff to watch the swell of the sea, and sometimes hiding herself in a cave immediately below the cabin; whence she would come forth occasionally, climb the cliff laboriously, peep in at the door stealthily, to see if she was wanted within, and creep down again to her place of idleness and solitude. Yet it would seem as if, even in this place, she heard her husband's step from a distance, so invariably did she appear as he approached. At other times she came forth when it was not Dan moving over the bog, but some less welcome visitor; and then she turned back quickly and tried to evade observation. One woman, and another and another, came to visit her, she knew not whence nor why; but they were of a more companionable nature than herself, and gave broad hints that as their husbands or fathers or sons were united in enterprise, the women should be so in confidence; and would have told many a horrible tale of what was nightly done and daily suffered by the band they professed to belong to. Dora always stopped such communications at the outset; professing that Dan and she belonged to nobody and nobody to them, and that all she wished for was, to live alone and be left quiet. She did not so much as know where her visitors came from, she said. They pointed, some to the bog, some to the rocks, and others to little mounds of turf, from which a thin blue smoke was seen at times to curl up. Some hinted at an intention of building cabins on the cliff, near hers; to which she gave no encouragement. This kind of reception did not tempt them to repeat their visits very often, and after a short time, Dora flattered herself she had got rid of all intruders. She was not deceived. In a little while she was solitary enough.
It was a December night, wrapt in that kind of gloom which is as a stifling pall descending to shroud the world, when a vessel came ashore almost directly below Dan's dwelling. How the accident happened, those on board were wholly ignorant. They had believed themselves acquainted with the coast, and felt themselves secure while the beacon glimmered south-east of them. It did, indeed, only glimmer; but the fog lay so thick, that the wonder was how the beacon could be seen at all. What wind there was blew directly on shore; so that it was too late, when the vessel was once among the breakers, to preserve her. She struck; and with the first cry uttered by her crew, the supposed beacon vanished. The shouts of the mariners rose at intervals amidst the hoarse music of the waves, which renewed their dirge with every human life that they swept away. All might have been saved if there had been a ray of light to guide their efforts; but, murky as it was, they struggled in vain, while wave upon wave, without a moment's pause, found them full of desperate effort, and left them less able to encounter its successor. The first man that gained a footing on the beach found himself unable to yield the slightest assistance to his companions, and looked about for signs of human habitation. The only token was a feeble gleam from Dan's cabin, towards which he directed his steps, not perfectly satisfied at first whether it was light from a dwelling on an eminence, or a star seen through an opening in the gloom. Tripping, stumbling, now climbing, now falling, but still shouting all the time, he pursued his way in a direct line to the light, fearing every moment that it would vanish, like the supposed beacon, and leave him no choice but to sit down and wait on the spot for day. When he had drawn near enough to feel pretty secure of his object, his shout was suddenly answered by many voices, in immediate succession and from different distances; and moving lights at once appeared along the whole face of the cliff. A man started out from the darkness on either hand of the astonished sailor, and told him he was going the wrong way for assistance, there being none but women above. The sailor, on whom, being a foreigner, this information was lost, swore his deepest oaths at them for their delay, and for the artifice by which he suspected the vessel had been purposely brought on shore. His wrath, vented in unintelligible threats, was only laughed at.
“Be easy, now,” said one. “Sure it takes a man a long time to wake with such a lullaby going on all the while.”
“Sure a darker curtain was never about a sleeping man's head than this fog,” observed another.
“The beacon!” exclaimed a third; “it's just the drop made you see double, that's all. The beacon is far away south, and yon cabin's the only light.”
Their explanations were as much wasted as the foreigner's wrath; and after a prodigious expense of eloquence on both sides, recourse was had to action, the purport of which was presently intelligible enough. A shrill whistle set all the wandering lights converging towards the beach: the sailor's two guides, whose outer garment was a shirt, bound round the waist with a hayband, in which pistols and knives were stuck, slung their lanterns to their belts, seized each an arm of the stranger, and led him rapidly down the cliff. Instead of permitting him to proceed towards the wreck, they ordered him into the cave whither Dora often resorted, and set a guard of two men over him. One after another, five of his companions were brought to join him, the guard being strengthened in proportion. When no more live men could be found about the wreck, a small supply of food and spirits, and materials for making a fire, were sent into the cave, as an intimation that all the business was over in which the crew was to have any share. The poor wretches, soaked, battered, exhausted in body, and harassed in mind with grief and panic, were not interfered with by their guards, except when their lamentations became dangerously audible.
The work of violence on the beach meanwhile went on rapidly: all that the vessel contained was seized, and put out of sight, and great part of the wreck broken up and carried away before morning. The aim of some of the people employed was the very amusing joke of persuading the foreigners, on bringing them out into the daylight, that their vessel had been conjured away bodily to a distant point, whither they were to be sent to seek it. These people were scarcely aware how some of their noisy operations were heard by the crew, and how well they understood the knocking, heaving, and crashing, and especially the shouts which followed every grand achievement in the process of destruction.
Dan was among the plunderers. He was not at liberty to decline any enterprise proposed by the captain of the gang with which he had associated himself; and on his return from a distant expedition, which had detained him from his home for some days, he found himself called upon, in fulfilment of his oath, to take part in a scene of plunder, of a kind which he abhorred, in sight of his own dwelling. While he was ordered to rob middlemen, terrify agents, and half-murder tithe-proctors, he discharged his mission with hearty goodwill, under the notion of avenging his own wrongs: but it was quite a different thing to delude foreigners, put them in peril of their lives, and strip them of everything: and he said so. In reply, he was reminded of his oath (an oath too solemn to be slighted), and immediately commanded, as a test of obedience, to take up a bale of goods from the wreck, and carry it up to find houseroom in his cabin. He did so with a heavy heart, dreading thus to meet Dora, after a separation of some days. She had never yet seen him equipped as a whiteboy, or been expressly told what occupation he followed.
He paused outside, leaning against the doorless entrance to watch what was passing within. All was so strange and fearful, that a deadly horror came over him, lest the one whom he saw moving about should not be the real Dora, but some spirit in her likeness. She was employed about her mother's corpse, which lay on the bare ground. Her motions were so rapid as to appear almost convulsive. Now she kneeled beside the body, straightening the limbs, and striving in vain to cover it completely with a piece of linen which was too small for the purpose; now she fixed her one rush-light in a lump of clay, and placed it at the head; now she muttered from beneath the hair which fell over her face as she stooped; and then, leaning back, uttered the shrill funeral cry with a vehemence which brought some colour back to her ashy pale countenance.
“Whisht, whisht!” muttered she impatiently to herself. “I have given the cry, and nobody comes. Father Glenny forgot me long ago, and my own father has forgot us, and Dan——I don't know what has been done to Dan, and he tells nobody. He won't forget me long, however.”
“Forget you, Dora!” said Dan, gently, as he laid hold of her cloak. “Did I keep my oath so long when you lived in your father's cabin in the glen, and shall I forget you now?”
She folded her arms in her cloak with a look of indifference, as she glanced at the bale he carried.
“O, you have brought a sheet, as I was wanting,” said she; “but where are the candles? I have but this one; and nothing in the way of a shutter or a door, you see; and there's no company come yet; so you will have time. Make haste, Dan.”
“Shall I bid the neighbours to the wake?' inquired Dan, who thought the best way of gaining her attention was to help her to fulfil first the duties to the dead, which rank so high among social obligations in Ireland.
At a sign from her he threw down his load and hastened to the beach, whence he brought a plank, on which to lay the body, candles wherewith to illuminate the bier, and spirits with which to exercise hospitality. He gave notice. at the same time, to his captain and comrade's, that when a blaze should be seen on the cliff, and the funeral lament heard, all would be ready for their reception at the wake:—the burning of the bed of the deceased before the door, and the utterance of the death cry, being the customary mode of invitation to the wakes of the Irish poor.
Dan was yet more struck with the deathlike paleness of his wife's face when he again joined her. He inquired whether any neighbours had helped her to nurse her mother, and whether her rest had been much broken: but she scarcely attended to his questions. She clapped her hands, as if in glee, at sight of what he brought, and seemed altogether so much more like a wilful child, than like his thoughtful and devoted Dora, that the fancy again crossed him that some mocking fiend had taken possession of her form. He asked her, with much internal trembling, whether she had duly prayed this night? She started, and said she had strangely forgotten herself; and forthwith went through her customary devotions in a way which, though hurried, was very unlike any which a fiend would dare to attempt; and Dan was so far satisfied.
“Bring out the bed,” said she, pointing to the straw on which her mother had been wont to lie. “While it is burning, I will raise the cry once more, and see if any one will come.”
Dan moved a bundle which lay on the straw, but let it go again in a pang of horror when the feeble cry of an infant proceeded from it. In an instant he understood all. He took up the child, and placed it on Dora's bosom without saying a word.
“O, my child: aye, I forgot it when I forgot my prayers; but it cannot have been hungry long, I'm thinking. Hold him while I strip off my cloak that keeps me as hot as if I had a fire burning, within me.” And she carelessly slipped the babe into her husband's arms.
“O Dora!” cried he in a choking voice, “is this the way you give a child of ours into my arms for the first time!”
She looked at him with perplexity in her countenance, said she knew nothing at all about it, and before he could prevent her, set fire to the straw, and gave the other appointed signal. Up came the company of whiteboys, crowding round the cabin, rushing to the bier, and exciting Dora more and more every moment by their looks and their proceedings. She now, for the first time, perceived the peculiarity of her husband's dress. She went from one to another, observing upon the arms they carried, and stopped at last before Dan, who was in earnest conversation with his captain.
“So you have enrolled yourself, Dan! So you have plighted and pledged yourself to your band since you swore you would wed me only. Much may they do for you that I could not do! but O, may they never do you the evil that I would not do! They may give you clothes these winter nights, when I have nothing warmer at home for you than my own heart. They may find you whiskey and lights for the wake, and other things as you want them; but they will make you pay more than you ever paid to me, Dan. They will take you among snares in the night: they will set you on other men's beasts to go over bogs where you will sink, and under rocks that will crush you: they will set you where bullets are flying round you; they will put a knife in your hand and make you dip your soul in blood. If you refuse, they will burn you and me together within four walls; and if you agree, they will lead you on to something worse than bogs or rocks, or a soldier's shot: they will send you to be set before the judge, and refused mercy, and then. . . .”
“For Christ's sake stop her!” exclaimed Dan. He seized her hands to prevent her stripping his white-boy uniform from his shoulders, as soon as he had given his baby in charge to a compassion-ate by-stander.
“Move the corpse,” ordered the captain. “' Keep the wake down below, and bring the first woman you can meet with, to tend this poor creature. Clear the cabin instantly.”
“Give the word, captain,” cried one, “and we'll catch a doctor,—the same that we brought blindfold when O'Leary was murthered almost. We'll whip up horses, and have him here and home by noon.”
“No, no; not till we see what the women say. Hilloo, boys! bring out the bier, fair and easy, and decent.”
Dora's struggles to follow were fierce, and her cries at being kept from this duty heart-rending. No one could effectually quiet her till she had been some hours committed to the care of a matron, who was brought from some invisible place to nurse her.
Slowly and sadly she recovered. Some said she was never again the same Dora; but others saw no further change than the melancholy which was likely to become fixed in her by such an experience as her's. She could never recall any circumstances connected with the death of her mother and the birth of her child. She could only suppose, as her husband did, that the old woman's exertions had sufficed for her daughter, and been fatal to herself.
Sullivan made his appearance ere long from underground, where he had been engaged in breaking the laws after his own method. He was duly grieved at having been absent from the burial of his wife; but hoped to atone for the involuntary neglect, by devoting his gains at the still to the purchase of masses for her soul.
It was not possible that the acts of outrage, of which the whiteboys from Tracey's estate and others were guilty, should remain long unnoticed by the officers of the law. The foreigners, who had been deprived of their wrecked vessel, had been, the next morning, tied two and two, and conducted into the neighbourhood of a road, by which they might reach a town, and relate their hardships. Three of their number were missing, and they did not fail to attribute their disappearance to those who had done all the other mischief. As they went along the road, and through small villages, they met with little sympathy in any of their complaints against whiteboys; but the townspeople were of a different temper, and Ballina and Killala soon rang with the tidings of the horrible outrage which had been committed on the coast. The alarm spread through the whole district. There was, daily, news of intended attacks, which never took place; exaggerated reports of the numbers of the disaffected, and of their deeds, got abroad; and many a dweller in a lone house, many an oppressor with an unquiet conscience,—all who had wealth in their houses, and all who suspected that they had enemies abroad,—trembled, as often as the long winter nights settled down, whether in starless gloom, or upon tracts of moon-lit snow. The rovers did not fail to make use of the panic, while it lasted, to punish their enemies, and beat up for recruits among their friends. Opposition gave way before them in every direction; and many and various were the tokens of welcome they met wherever the population had tasted of oppression, or were struggling with hardship. The immediate occasion of the first check they encountered was an insult offered to an obnoxious landed proprietor,—an insult which roused him from fireside declamation to military action. His finest trees, some of which had ornamented the lawn of his mansion for an untold length of time, had been cut down in one night. He had looked westward the preceding evening, and seen the red sun tinge the tufts of snow that rested on their branchy heads; he looked again in the morning, and they lay like so many monuments of the grandeur that had been. He galloped off after breakfast in search of brother magistrates, soldiers, informers, guides, and all that was necessary for dislodging the enemy from their entrenchments. He would not wait till his usual body-guard had assembled, but ventured out with only a groom behind him. He had long suspected that some of his enemies were no further entrenched than in their own discretion, and that they were living and moving on all sides of him. He was now sure of it, from the ambiguous greeting which met him on all sides. He never remembered so many inquiries as to how all went on at the Hall, and such tender concern about his honour's rest o' nights, and so many remarks upon the marvellous darkness of the preceding night. He perceived signals pass across the road, before and behind him,—thought he detected hidings behind the fences,—was sure that an ominous whoop travelled over the bog westward,—and that more than one gossoon only waited till the horses were past, to begin all expedition in the same direction.
It was indeed the case, as usual, that instant tidings were conveyed of the motions of those who had been recently injured. Mr. Connor's departure from home, his application to this magistrate, and consultation with that, and the grand letter which his groom was seen to put into his bosom and to ride off with in the midst of an escort, and the other letter carried to the post-office, which looked just like it, were all faithfully reported of to Dan's captain, in time to have the express turned back without his dispatch, and the next mail stopped, in order to rifle the letter-bag, These expedients, however, could not long avail. Soldiers were at length known to be on the way, and suitable preparations were made for their reception. In one of the most important of these, Dora bore a principal part.
Her husband, whose absences had been shorter and less frequent, until he saw that she was perfectly recovered and able to occupy herself. with her infant, but were now again lengthening, came to her one night, and, gently waking her, told her that her services were wanted by himself, and three or four companions who were waiting outside.
“Troth, then, my jewel,” said he, “there's no need to be trembling and staring as if we were about carrying you off'. You are not going out of this; and the whole matter is nothing in life but writing a slip of a letter, my darling, because it's you that will be doing it neat and pretty.”
One of the party brought paper, pen, and ink, and as soon as Dora could steady her hand sufficiently, she wrote to her husband's dictation, subject to the suggestions of his companions:—
“Come no farther nor the big elms in Rosso's demesne, or it will be the worse for yourself and them you bring. What you come to ask us for is a trifle that gentlemen should not be thinking of asking of poor men, even if the ship was a ship still, which it is not, never having been more than an awkward boat, and that now burnt and gone entirely, so as not to be given up, except the arms, which will be offered in a different way from that you expect, if a man of you sets foot beyond the elms. Take heed to the ground, sir, which is mostly such as would bog a snipe, and you without a guide that may be trusted; for there's you not a boy in the glen that would do your honour the ill turn to bring you here. There are eels in the bog, sir, that slide easy out of the hand when you would take them; and your honour will find we take after the eels, except that you will be much the worse of not taking us,—being taken yourselves. One word more out of kindness.—No enemy ever sets foot out of this place more, barring he takes us as his prisoners, which not a man of us will ever be: so, unless you come to pick and choose a grave for every man of you, stir not a step farther than the big elms, near which one will meet you with this.”
Having amused themselves with inventing gibberish for the signature, and making rude drawings below of guns, pikes, and gibbets, ornamented with shamrock, the letter was folded, neat and pretty, and confided to one of the party, to be forwarded. Dan wondered that Dora made no remonstrance against being involved in such a proceeding; and, for a moment, suspected her of the weakness of being flattered, by the compliments paid to her writing, into a disregard of what it was that she had written: but Dora's passiveness arose from a sense of the uselessness of opposition, as far as the letter was concerned, and of its injurious influence on her domestic state. She would give Dan no shadow of a reason for leaving his home as he did. Her groan, when he kissed her and bade her farewell, on the letter being finished, went to his heart. He told her that it was for her sake, as well as for duty, that he must leave her, the boys being now on the look out to keep the enemy at a distance. He came back to whisper that, in case of real difficulty, She might be easy about himself and her father, as each man had a hiding place in the bog, theirs being below a certain stunted alder-bush, which she well knew.
From this hour, the sole employment of Dora, when not engaged within with her infant, was to sit with her eyes fixed upon this alder bush. No news came to her of the proceedings either of her people or of the enemy; but as long as she saw no sign from the appointed place, she knew that matters were not desperate. In frost or in fog, in sunshine and in rain, Dora sat abroad or paced along the ridge above her cabin, bending her gaze till she grew dizzy upon the black turf around the alder bush. There was not a tuft of moss, nor a twig, nor a rush, that was not presently as familiar to her as if she had planted them all. Every evening, as it became dusk, she drew nearer and nearer to the place, and, when it was quite dark, sat on the very spot as long as her child could spare her. Every morning, she devised some apparent reason, in case of curious eyes looking on, for making a circuit of the alder bush; and returned with a somewhat lightened heart, when she found no indication of any one being there.
This painful watching could not go on for ever, though Dora began to think it would. Some one at last appeared to be moving in that direction through the dusk of a foggy morning, now ducking and vanishing, now crawling among the uneven ground, now cautiously raising himself and looking about him. After vanishing near the alder, he appeared no more. Dora proceeded thither, and found her father.
“Where is Dan?” was her first question. Somewhere near, her father told her, but too busy to seek a hiding at present. It was only the old and helpless who were thus allowed to get out of the way; all who could fight, were out against the soldiers. Dan meant to come to her by the coast way this day, if possible, just to tell her what he was about.
Sullivan had provided himself with a supply of his own manufacture; but he had no food. Dora hastened to bring him some while it was still dusk, and she promised more at night, in case of his being unable to leave his hiding place before that time. Sullivan joked on the chances of an old man's keeping soul and body together in such a place for twelve hours, and promised to thank her heartily for food and warmth at night, barring he was dead. He bade her not be scared at the soldiers if they should cross-examine her this day; she was not his own daughter, he declared, if she could not delude the ruffians, and save her own kith and kin at their expense. Dora retired home to watch more nervously than ever, since she was listening for her husband's footstep from below; and to meditate on the entanglements of these her kith and kin. Her father had broken the law in the matter of the distillery, and her husband was under ban for burning his late dwelling, for his share in the robbery of the wreck, and probably for many more feats of whiteboyism, of which she had yet heard nothing. Her own liabilities she did not for a moment remember; yet the act of writing a threatening letter was uniformly punished very severely, whenever the perpetrators could be discovered. She stood in nearly as much jeopardy as her husband; and he knew it; and the purpose of his intended visit of this day was to convey her to a hiding. Her father was not aware of what she had done, and therefore thought no more than herself of her being in any danger.
How often since being involved in these troubles had she sighed for an opportunity of confession! It was long since she had eased her conscience; and she felt it among the greatest of the sins the family had committed, that they had cut themselves off from the services of devotion, and what she thought the means of repentance. Again and again, in her solitude, she had meditated a night expedition to Father Glenny's dwelling; but it was a step she dared not take without Dan's approbation; and he always put her off without an express permission. At this crisis she was more than ever distressed at her own spiritual state, and said to herself that her mind was so perplexed by her long solitude, and her conscience so burdened with an accumulation of sins, that she was not equal to what she might have to go through. Her ingenuity and presence of mind were gone, and she felt that, at the first question, she should betray either her conscience or her cause; that is, that she should either tell a direct lie or the plain truth, instead of being able to baffle and mislead, as she had been taught it was meritorious to do, on such an occasion. She had not much time to ponder her case.
As soon as the fogs began to disperse before the risen sun, she saw a glancing and gleaming on the extreme point of the track which led from the glen into this district. It was the glittering of the arms of a strong party of soldiers, who were accompanied by several horsemen in plain clothes, probably some of the neighbouring gentry who had offered their services as guides ; none of the country people having being found trust-worthy in the office. Dora's heart beat thicker and thicker as she traced them among the windings of the bog road. Presently they stopped at a cross track, and separated into three parties, as if more for purposes of search than battle. One of these parties, the smallest, seemed to receive directions from the gentry as to the course they should pursue, and then turned directly towards the alder-bush. Folding her arms forcibly on her bosom, to keep down her agitation, she stood conspicuous on the ridge of the cliff, hoping to draw their attention to herself. They looked about them at every step; but not more keenly when alongside the alder-bush than before. They passed it, and one pang was over. They came rapidly towards her, and she turned to enter the cabin. They shouted; she stopped, and awaited them with every appearance of willingness, gazing at the officer and his six soldiers as a child gazes at a show.
“Where do you live, my good woman?” inquired the officer. She pointed to the cabin.
“Who lives with you?”
“My child. My mother did live here too, but she died many weeks ago.”
“And your father?”
“I had a father too, your honour: but he is in the ground. Soft may the rain fall, and warm may the sun shine on the turf that hides him!”
“Is not your name Dora Mahony? I was told your father was alive, and engaged in some unlawful doings hereabouts.”
“He told me nothing of the nature of his doings, and it is not from strangers that I wish to learn them, when lie is not here to speak for himself. Keep what you have to say against him till the judgment day.”
“How long has your father been dead? We know he left the glen with you.”
“He was hid from the light of day before my mother shut her eyes upon it for ever. One of my griefs was, that he was not here to wake her. O, it went to my heart to lay her out with my own hands, and none to help: and I raised the cry many times, and no one came. How should they in such a lonesome place?”
“Where was your husband, Dora? It was not being a good husband to leave you at such a time.”
“It was before that, that he left me, and he knew nothing of my state. Far, far away he was before my mother breathed her last blessing on him; if a blessing she had for him, which is just what, with many other things, I have no memory of, your honour. I was crazed with grief, I suppose, for my husband having left me; and all is lost and gone belonging to that time, but the crying and crying on the cliff, and nobody coming.”
She was next questioned about the shipwreck; and here she was safe. She knew nothing of the matter but by hearsay, and could not answer a single question. Then came inquiries whither her husband had gone. She did not know; from place to place, she supposed, as he did before he married. It was a sore temptation to a man to leave a wife when he was turned out of his tenantcy into a pesert like this, while he knew that there were work and wages to be got elsewhere.—When did she expect her husband back, and how was she living in the mean time? As for the living, it had been off the provision of potatoes they brought with them; but it was nearly gone, and she did not know what to look to next. She had thought many a night and day of seeking out Father Glenny and some of her old neighbours; but the fear lest her husband should come back and miss her, weighed with her to stay where she was. As to when that return would be, many was the morn when she said to herself, as she did this morn, that he would come before the sun went down; but the sun staid for none, and solitary it ever left her, as solitary it found her. They might as well ask her child about it as her,—the child that was now crying for her in the cabin, and she must go to it.
As she turned, she found herself intercepted by two soldiers, who barred her entrance. A third went in and brought her baby to her. She smiled, and said she did not object to being kept out of her own cabin as long as the sky was fair overhead.
“Will you take a solemn oath,” asked the officer, “that your husband is not concealed within, or in the neighbourhood? and will you deliver up arms and whatever else may belong to him that is in your keeping?”
Dora declared that she feared an oath too much to swear that her husband was not in any place near, when she did not know where on the face of God's earth he was. She would swear that he was not in the cabin, nor any arms or other things of his, unless it might be any article of clothing left behind. She would swear that she did not know whether he was north, south, east, or west at that moment. This was thought satisfactory, and she took the oath deliberately, looking the officer full in the face as she spoke. This done, the soldiers were ordered to search the cabin, and Dora sat down on the ridge to hush her baby to sleep, and catch opportunities of throwing hasty glances down to the beach.— Before many minutes were over, the searchers re-appeared, bringing with them a dozen pikes, a blunderbuss, and three brace of pistols.
“You brought them in yourselves,” said Dora calmly. “There were none there before, to my knowledge.”
“Come, come, mistress,” said the officer; “no more speeches. A false oath is enough for one morning's work, and more than you will be able easily to answer for. You must come with us and take your trial for perjury.”
Dora declared with such an appearance of innocence that she neither knew of these arms nor could imagine how they came there, and inquired so naturally whereabouts they were found, that the officer appeared to be moved. He asked whether she would furnish him with a written promise to appear when called upon, to give her account of the matter to a magistrate, to save the trouble of carrying her with them this day. The simple Dora, delighted with so easy a way of escape, and suspecting no artifice, wrote the required promise in the officer's pocket-book. As soon as she had done, he took out a letter and compared the hands. “Seize her,” said he to a soldier beside her: “she is our prisoner.”
“Prisoner!” repeated Dora, falteringly.
“On two charges,” continued the officer; “one of perjury, on account of the oath you took just now; and the other of writing a threatening letter to Major Greaves.”
Perceiving that some whispering was going on among his men, the officer observed that the crime of perjury was so much on the increase in Ireland, as to make it necessary to prosecute it with the utmost severity. The convictions for perjury in Ireland were double the number in England, and very many more who had been undoubtedly guilty had hitherto escaped. In she present state of the country, justice could no have its course while the people were apt to swear falsely; and every instance of such swearing must therefore be punished.
“What is it that drives the people to swear falsely?” cried Dora. “You first teach them to take the holy name in vain by offering oaths that they understand no more than this babe of mine. There are oaths to the guager, and oaths at the fair and the market, and oaths at elections, that have no meaning at all to those that take them; and the blessed book is tossed about as if there was no more in it than old ballads. But when you have driven us from our homes, and taken from us all the bread but that which comes by crime,—when you have dug a pit under our feet, and thrown a halter over our necks, and made our hearts sick, and our spirits weary, and our consciences careless of what is gone and what is to come,—when you hunt our husbands and fathers and brothers till there is but one resting-place for the sole of their feet,—then you expect us of a sudden to fear an oath, and to point out the one hiding-place, and to deliver them up to be hanged in the midst of a gaping crowd. This is the way you make it a crime to love one another as God made our hearts to love. This is the way you breed hatred to the law, and then murder us for hating it. This is the way you mock God's truth, and then pretend to be jealous for it. This is what you call the course of justice. It is such a crooked course, that you will surely lose yourselves in it one day.”
“If you threaten me, Dora, by words, as you threatened Major Greaves by letter, there will be another charge against you.”
“And what are my threats?” replied she, smiling bitterly. “You may take me and murder me by law or otherwise, and there will be none that can call you to account, unless it be Father Glenny. You will outlive yonder sun if your life waits on my threats.”
The officer was not so sure of this when he saw how earnestly she glanced from time to time towards some particular spot in an opposite direction from the alder bush. It was an artifice; for Dora now began to be cunning, and to wish an end to this visit, lest her husband should appear from the beach. To various inquiries respecting tracks in the direction in which she was looking, she replied by asking, had they not better go back the way they came, since they knew that to be safe? By equivocating, hesitating, and giving ambiguous answers, she effected her purpose of determining the party to cross the most perilous part of the bog, where, if not lost, they would be disabled for further active service this day. A soldier was left to guard her till their return. As he ordered her into the cabin, and the rest rode away, her heart smote her as if she had their blood to answer for. She rushed out to call them back, but was only ridiculed for what was supposed to be her last device.
“I did not speak the word; I did not point the way,” muttered she to herself. “They can witness against the devil himself that I called them back, and they would not come. But, O! when shall I see Father Glenny? If he was here, he would tell me how much I may venture as a woman, because I am a wife and a daughter.”
Still she felt as if murder was on her soul, and her trouble of spirit showed itself in the hurry of what she did. She picked a hole in the mud wall of her cabin, since her guard would not allow her to watch from without the proceedings of the party. While thus engaged, she argued within herself (like thousands of her countrymen before her) the necessity of doing evil that good might come; the expediency of betraying the agents of the law, to avoid treachery to the nearest and dearest; the duty of sacrificing enemies in order to preserve those on whom the heart's love rests. Alas! for those who have taught any thus to reason!
When she had made a chink large enough for her purpose, she saw that the party had separated a little in order to traverse more safely the boggy tract before them. Each, however, appeared shortly to be sinking, sinking;—and from a distance came their faint shouts to one another;— and the efforts to rein up and direct the struggling horses were seen. The conviction that her scheme was succeeding,—or, as she afterwards said, the devil in actual presence,—gave her courage to look on and act. Presently she stole to the doorway to reconnoitre her guard. He was standing with his back to the sea, watching his party, and as if spasm-struck at their manifest danger. Dora sprang at him like a tigercat upon her prey. She hoped to throw him down the cliff. At the first moment, she had nearly succeeded; but he recovered his hold of her while tottering on the verge, grappled strongly with her for a few moments, and then mastered her failing strength. He was in a tremendous passion at her for her momentary advantage over him, and showing it in other ways besides oaths and foul names. He tied her hands painfully behind her, and kicked her into the hut again. The utmost mercy she could obtain after a time, was having her bonds transferred to her feet, for her infant's sake. When this was done, her guard told her to look through the chink, and see what was coming. She thanked heaven aloud when she saw the party returning, bemired and exhausted, but undiminished in number.
“Why there, now,” said her guard; “there's your Irish hypocrisy again! You thank God that they are out of the bog, when you know you would have them all sunk to the bottom of it this minute, if you could. And you are the people that call yourselves generous enemies!”
“I, for one, was not given to enmity till I was driven to it,” said Dora.
When the discomfited party arrived, the prisoner, with her infant in her arms, was mounted behind a soldier, and carried off to jail. While passing the alder-bush, she was in an agony lest her father should leap out in her defence. She carefully avoided looking that way and speaking, while they were within hearing of the place. Sullivan saw her pass; but aware of the hopelessness of resistance, adopted the wiser course of remaining where he was to inform Dan of her fate; thus sparing the husband the misery, —alas! too well known to some of his companions,—of finding his house empty, and no intimation why or whither his family had departed.
During her somewhat long and very toilsome journey, Dora had no other consolatory thought than that Dan had not come home this dreadful morning.
Mr. Tracey and his family returned from France about this time, in consequence of the passing of the Relief Bill. He had found, like many other gentlemen of station and fortune, that the disabilities under which he laboured on account of his religious belief, were too galling to be borne in the presence of those who were ready on all occasions to taunt him with his incapacity; and, like many other gentlemen, he returned, as soon as established in his civil rights, to discharge the offices which he had committed to others during his absence, or from which he had hitherto been excluded.
He was shocked and terrified at the aspect of his estate and of the neighbouring country. When he gave orders for the consolidation of the small farms, he imagined that he had done all that was necessary to secure the prosperity of his tenantry; and as Mr.Flanagan had not troubled him with any complaints from the ejected, he supposed all had gone right as far as he was concerned, and that the troubles in the neighbourhood, of which report spoke, had an origin for which he was in no way responsible. When he found that the disaffected were those from whose hands he had wrenched the means of subsistence, and that his remaining tenantry dared not for their lives enter upon the new farms,—when he heard of the acts of malice and depredation which had been committed, of the lives lost, of the prisoners taken, of the utter destruction of confidence between the upper class and the lower in his neighbourhood, and remembered how large a share he had had in doing all this mischief,—his first impulse was to go abroad again, and get out of sight of his own work: but his friend, Mr. Rosso, roused him to a better course.
The first thing to be done was to find subsistence for those who had been ejected. To settle them as before would have been mending the case but little. The great evil of over-population was to be guarded against, at all events. Mr. Tracey could not afford to give these people the means of emigrating with advantage; but it appeared to himself and his friend that if he afforded them the opportunity of earning these means, without taking work out of the hands of any already employed, he would be making the best atonement now possible for the errors of his management. This might be done by beginning some work which would improve the estate; and there was little difficulty in deciding what this work should be. A certain fishing village lay at a short distance from the southern extremity of Mr. Tracey's estate; but from the state of an intervening piece of land, little or no communication was held between this village and any of the places which lay to the north or east of it. This piece of ground was level, and almost perpetually overflowed, at some seasons by the tide, and at others by land springs. During a hot summer, the health of those who lived within a certain distance was affected by the taint the marsh gave to the atmosphere; and by reason of the manifold evils which might be referred to this slip of land, it had obtained the name of the Devil's Garden. It had long been settled that a sea wall of small extent, and a road and ditch would put an end to the fever, would establish an advantageous communication with the village, and probably convert this desert tract into good land: but the consent of a neighbour or two had not yet been obtained, because not asked in earnest.
Mr. Tracey now asked in earnest and obtained. In a short time his purpose was made known, and candidates for emigration (to whom the offer of employment was confined) dropped in from all quarters, and established their claim as old tenants or labourers on Mr. Tracey's estate. No questions were asked as to their mode of subsistence during their disappearance. The object was to win as many as possible from a life of violence to one of hopeful industry, and this object was gradually attained. Less was heard of crime and punishment, week by week; and at length Mr. Tracey had the satisfaction of knowing that several individuals among these labourers had resisted various inducements both of promises and threats to become whiteboys.
“What is the meaning of their tickets?” inquired Mr. Rosso, one evening, when the people went to the paymaster on leaving work, and Mr. Tracey and his friend stood by to observe the proceeding.
“These tickets are certificates of a day's work being done. The men carry them to the clerk yonder, who pays them what they absolutely want for present subsistence, and places the rest to their account in the emigration list. They are getting on in the world, I assure you, by this plan; and seem in a fair way to emigrate in a better condition than our poor countrymen usually do.”
“What, while earning only tenpence a day?”
“Yes; you must remember that if these wages are less than half what would be earned in England at the same employment, the people may live for as much less in proportion. A man who earns six shillings a week here is as well off, in his own opinion, as one who gains fifteen shillings a week in England. An English labourer would find it impossible to leave any part of his daily tenpence in his landlord's hands; but a friend of mine, who gave no more, was paid 4000l. of arrears by his tenants, when he set them to work on improvements of great magnitude on his estate. My project of enabling these people to emigrate, seems nothing in comparison to his.”
“What a pity it seems, Tracey, that our people should emigrate when there is so much to be done at home,—so many bogs to be drained,— so much fertile land to be tilled! But so it must be. We want capital; and though our capital is growing, we must limit the demands upon it before we can materially improve the condition of the people.”
“True,” replied Mr. Tracey; “some of them will do better abroad till we have learned to manage our resources more wisely. We may talk as we please about the fertility of our waste lands, and the facilities for draining our bogs; these cannot be made productive without capital; and we have not capital to spare for such purposes, while the present enormous demands are made upon the subsistence fund by our overgrown population.”
“If the deficiency be of capital, Tracey, what think you of those who carry Irish capital abroad? What think you of the patriotism of absentees? if one who has till now been an absentee will tolerate such a question.”
“I think that an Irishman who loves his country will do all he can to promote the increase and judicious application of capital in it: but this has nothing to do with the common question of absenteeism. Our absentees do not usually apply capital, but spend revenue in other countries; which alters the question entirely; it being perfectly immaterial in point of wealth to Ireland whether her landlords are supported by Irish produce abroad or at home.”
“Aye; I have heard that this was your plea for living abroad so long.”
“It was an opinion which satisfied my conscience in remaining abroad when I was driven there by evils which are now remedied. If I had not been satisfied that it is an error to suppose that a country is impoverished in proportion to the absence of its landlords, I would have borne my exclusion from all offices but that of subsheriff, and the obloquy with which our Protestant gentry are apt to treat us true Irish, rather than budge a step to the injury of the people. I am speaking now of a landlord's economical, not his moral influence, you are aware.”
“Certainly. The moral effect of a landlord's residence depends much on the man and his way of life. If he is a profligate, or brings down profligates in his service into the country, he may do a world of harm; and the contrary, if he and his household bear an opposite character. A really good agent, too, may exert as favourable a moral influence as a good landlord; and as for what a bad one can do, we need but look round and see what are the results of Flanagan's administration. But, in an economical point of view, do you suppose that the entire difference between doing harm and no harm by absenteeism consists in applying capital and spending revenue?”
“I do, as regards the whole of Ireland. See now. My agent collects my rents: shall we say in raw produce, or in money?”
“Both: raw produce first.”
“Very well. He sends me over to Paris five hundred head of cattle, which I exchange for French produce to be consumed within the year. Now, how does it matter to Ireland whether I exchange these cattle for something of the same value to be consumed there, or whether I consume the cattle at Paris?”
“It cannot matter at all. If Ireland kept the cattle, she would have the same amount less of something else.”
“To be sure. I am still living on Irish produce whether at Paris or in this glen. With a money-rent the case would be precisely the same. If I remained at home, Ireland would have more money and less of the money's worth.”
“That is clear enough. But how would it be if you fixed your revenue, instead of immediately consuming it?”
“If I consumed only a part of my revenue and employed the rest in setting up a manufactory, Ireland would remain in the same state as if I consumed the whole; and in a worse state than if I set up my manufactory within her borders. If I withdrew any of my capital from her to support my manufactory abroad, I should inflict on her a positive injury. But absentees never do this. When Irishmen invest capital abroad, it is as emigrants, not as absentees.”
“Suppose, instead of setting up a manufactory, you , built a mansion in France, how would the case stand then?”
“The mansion would be Irish property; erected with Irish funds, consumed (as long as it deteriorated) by an Irishman, and the remaining value to revert to Ireland at my death or at its sale.”
“But supposing it to be let to French tenants for ever.”
“Then it would be an investment of capital, and cease to bear any relation to the question of absenteeism.”
“True, true. But it seems to me that there must be a vast difference between using your resources to put in motion Irish and French industry. Have not the French been gainers all this time, and the Irish losers, by your having employed French workmen? Might not the profits of Irish work–people in your service have become substantial capital by this time, if you had staid at home?”
“Ireland has been as busy working for me all this time, Rosso, as if I had staid at home: not these my near neighbours, perhaps, but labourers of one kind or another. My revenue must first be spent here before my agent can get it for me to spend anywhere else. The only difference is that I myself might spend it in Irish bread, fish, milk, linen, &c., while he lays out exactly its equivalent in purchasing that which is to enable me to buy French bread, milk, fish, and linens; whether that which he purchases be labour and raw material united in a manufacture, or raw material which is the result of labour.”
“But the plain question is, after all, Tracey, whether you would have employed French labour if you had lived at home?”
“I should not, except in as far as I live on French wines; of which you know I am very fond; but at the same time, I supersede a portion of French labour by the produce of Irish labour which I introduce into France. Neither should I have employed more Irish labour at home than when abroad. The amount of Irish commodities which I should have consumed at home is exchanged against French commodities; that is all. It seems to me, Rosso, that since you feel perplexed about this, you must have the idea that this exchange is not an exchange of equivalents. Is not that what you are thinking of? You should remember that an exchange which is advantageous to individuals on account of convenience, &c. is a mere exchange of equivalents as regards the country at large. The baker gains by exchanging some of his loaves for broadcloth; but the same amount of wealth remains in the country as before. In like manner, it is a convenience to me to have my rents in money rather than cattle; but it is the same thing to Ireland whether I receive my revenue in the one form or the other.”
“True: give me a case. Show me the effect of sending your revenue to Paris through England.”
“Very well. Suppose the state of the exchange, or anything else, renders it undesirable to send me money; my agent sends cattle into England to be exchanged for something more convenient to me. Well; Ireland is minus my year's consumption, just as if I had been there during the year. The cattle is exchanged for Sheffield and Manchester goods, which are to be sent to France. Thus England is in the same state as if I had remained in London, using nothing but hardware and cottons. France gains nothing by me, for I consume precisely as much food, clothing and habitation as I give of knives and ginghams. And the case would be the same if my rents travelled round the world.”
“Is the outcry against absentees, then, so very senseless?”
“As far as regards the total wealth of a country, I certainly conceive it to be so, much as the residence of any one landlord may affect the locality where his capital resides. I may create a good deal of bustle about me by settling down here; but some other class of producers will have less to do than when I was abroad. Ireland is neither richer nor poorer for my return.”
“Yet it is a common remark that bare fields and broken fences on the one hand, or thriving estates on the other, show at a glance whether the proprietor is an absentee or a resident.”
“Aye: but we forget that the industry of the resident proprietor's tenantry may be called into action by the wants of the absentee. Their produce finds its way to him through the market in the shape of bills of exchange which represent his revenue.”
“Nothing can be clearer. I see it all now. The coin which the tenants pay purchases produce which is sent to the foreign country; and the bills of exchange drawn by the exporter, and made payable for the Irish produce exported, are the form in which the absentee receives his rent: so that Ireland sells one kind of produce to the foreign market instead of an equal value of other kinds to the absentee.”
“Exactly so. Now, how can it signify to Ireland where he eats his beef, as long as he derives it from his own country?”
“It cannot signify to the country at large, certainly. You have confirmed me in the opinion I have long held of the injustice of an absentee tax, for which so many are clamouring.”
“To be applied for the benefit of the poor, I suppose. It seems to me the last thing in the world likely to do any real good. You see the whole revenue of an absentee is first spent at home. Any part withdrawn as a tax would be so much diverted from its natural course, for the sake of being arbitrarily applied. It would only affect the distribution of capital, not its amount; and we all know that a natural distribution; more favourable to the welfare of a country than an arbitrary one.—As a stigma upon absentees, it would be unjust in a high degree; and as throwing an unequal burden upon them, intolerably oppressive.”
“One pretence is that absentees contribute nothing to our domestic taxes: but the objectors forget what taxes he is liable to as a proprietor of land and houses, and what he pays on the materials of manufactures.”
“And if he ought to be still further liable, Rosso, let it be done in any way but that which assumes to repair an injury done to his country by his leaving her. There are many ways of levying a tax on income or property which would affect him; and thus let him pay, if his own government is jealous of his assisting to support that of France or of Italy; and if, moreover, it overlooks the stimulus given by the absentee to exchanges and manufactures. Suppose an absentee should ere long be honoured as a benefactor to his country.”
“In Scotland the estates of absentees are considered in a better condition on the whole than those of residents; and the reverse is not always the case here, Tracey.”
“Well: we will not decide the question any further than to agree that the prosperity of an estate depends mainly on the qualities of the manager, be he landlord or be he agent. As for the prevailing prejudice respecting absenteeism, it may be trusted to go straight forward into the gulf of oblivion, if we all help to point out its way thither. Pity it is too late to atone to a host of absentees for the undeserved censure which has been cast upon them.”
“If undeserved: but, Tracey, do you suppose they have most of them thought much about their country's good before they left her?”
“God forbid that we should judge their motives!” said Tracey. “I answer for none but myself. I did thoroughly convince myself before I set out that I should not injure my country by going. Many, I doubt not, have been driven away by political wrongs, either directly inflicted on themselves, or inciting the peasantry to hostility against their landlords; and many more, probably, have hastened abroad to get out of sight of misery which they could not relieve. If I were to venture on judging my neighbour at all in these instances, it should not be the absentee, but the government; whose evil policy prompted to absenteeism.”
“Well: instead of judging, let us anticipate, since the past cannot be helped, and the future may be bettered.”
“That is what I try to comfort myself with saying,” replied Tracey, looking round with a sigh on his half–ruined estate and ragged corps of labourers. “Let others try, like me, to remember the past only as a warning; and let government do with the country as I am doing with my little corner of it. Let capital be well secured and well husbanded, in order that it may circulate with more confidence and become more abundant. Let the people be more wisely distributed over the surface, and let their surplus be carried where labour is wanted. Let all usurpers of unjust authority, all who make the law odious, and justice a mockery, be displaced from office as I have, displaced Flanagan. Above all, let education be abundantly given, so as to afford us hope that the people may in time understand that their interests are cared for; and that men who differ in religion and politics may find it possible to live in fellowship, like ourselves, friend Rosso.”
“Like ourselves, friend Tracey,” replied Rosso; “and then farewell to all Catholic oaths to wade knee-deep in Orange blood, and to all Protestant likenings of the pope and his flock to the devil and his crew.”
The friendship between these gentlemen proved of no little advantage to their neighbours when an occasion presently arose for their co-operation for the good of their parish.
_News reached Mr. Rosso's ears one day that a strange gentleman was on a visit at the house of a Protestant in the next parish, who had a field or two in the glen, just advertised for sale. It was immediately conjectured that the gentleman came as a purchaser of this land; but it was not till it had been repeatedly surveyed and measured that any gossip could ascertain what he meant to do with it. In due time, however, it transpired that the stranger was a builder, and that he was making his estimates for erecting a church.
Mr. Rosso's measures were immediately taken. He sent to the proper quarters memorials of the facts that he and his household, consisting of fifteen persons, were the only Protestants in the parish; that they stood in no need of a church, that of the neighbouring parish being nearer their dwelling than the field on which the new one was proposed to be erected; and that ecclesiastical burdens already weighed so heavily on a miserably poor population, that it would be absolute ruin to many to tax them further. Moreover, Mr. Rosso sent a pressing invitation to Mr. Orme, the incumbent, to take up his abode with him for a week. Mr. Orme had not appeared in his parish for some years; and there was hope that what he might now see would influence him to avert the dreadful infliction of a church where there were no church-goers. Mr. Tracey prepared Father Glenny for friendly intercourse with his heretic brother pastor; and all parties agreed that, if Mr. Orme should prove the reasonable and kind-hearted man he was reported to be, a further appeal should be made to him on the subject of his tithes.
Mr. Orme came, and, before he went to rest the first night, was convinced by ocular demonstration that his host's dining-room could conveniently contain the entire Protestant population of the parish. The next morning, he was seen standing with the priest on the ridge which overlooked the glen, and heard to sigh over its aspect of desolation.
“Whereabouts would you have your church erected?” quietly asked Father Glenny.
“Indeed, I know little more than you,” replied the clergyman. “I have not been consulted upon the matter in regular form, and had no idea it had gone so far. I fear it is a job, sir.”
“The architect happens to have his hands empty of contracts at present, perhaps,” observed the priest: “and the owner of the field may hope to gain a higher price for his land through the agency of your church than direct from our poor neighbours. But look round you, and find out, if you can, where the parish is to obtain means to answer such a call upon its resources.”
“It is indeed a different place from what I once remember it, though it had never much wealth to boast of. When I occasionally lodged here, it was in farmhouses where there was good food and sufficient clothing, and sometimes a pretty dower for the daughters on their marriage day. I see no such places now. These hovels are but the ruins of them.”
“Too true; and we preserve but the ruins of some of our former practices. Dowries are rare among the brides of this parish. Our old folks are less hopeful, our young ones less patient than formerly; and marriages are therefore rashly entered into without a provision of any kind.”
“I am sorry, very sorry for it, sir. There is more benefit than is at once apparent in the long preparation of the marriage provision. I have heard much ridicule of the old Scotch practice of accumulating a stock of linen for bed and board, which could scarcely be consumed in a lifetime; but there was much good in it. Besides the benefit to the parties concerned,—the industry and forethought it obliged them to exercise, and the resources it put in their power,—the custom proved an important check upon population. Young people had to wait two or three years before they married; and where this was universally the case, it was thought no hardship. Those who thus began their married life were never known to become paupers. But, sir, from the aspect of this place, I should imagine your entire flock to be paupers, except a tenant or two yonder.”
“The land is exhausted, Mr. Orme, and the people are therefore poverty-stricken and reckless. There is little encouragement to prudence while there are superiors to keep a rapacious hand in every man's pocket, and appropriate whatever he may chance to gain beyond that which will support life. We know such to be the results in Turkey, Mr. Orme, and in other seats of despotic government, and why not here?”
“Whom do you point at as these superiors?” inquired Mr. Orme. “Not either of the landlords, surely. And you are free, moreover, from the locust-like devastation of the poor-law system.”
“True: but what pauperism leaves, the middlemen consume; and what the middlemen leaves, the tithe-proctor consumes. Yonder field, sir, has been let out of tillage because the tithe devoured the profits. That row of hovels is deserted because your proctor seized all that rendered them habitable. Their inmates are gone where they may live by plunder, since the law of this district is to plunder or be plundered.”
“Plundered!” exclaimed Mr. Orme. “That is a somewhat harsh term, sir.”
“Is it an unjust one, Mr. Orme?—that is the question. What do these poor people gain in return for the portion of their earnings wrenched from them in the form of tithes? What does the Protestant church do for these Catholic tithe-payers?”
Mr. Orme could only reply that the Protestant church was established for the good of the people at large; and that it was the people's own fault if they would not take advantage of the ministrations of its clergy. He was ready, for one, to do duty as soon as his flock would listen to him; and, in the meanwhile, he conceived that he was causing no wrong to any man by receiving the means of subsistence decreed him by law. He would not defend the mode of payment by tithe in any country, or under any circumstances. He saw its evils as an impediment to improvements in agriculture, and as an unequal tax, falling the most heavily on the most industrious cultivator; but while payment by tithe was the method appointed by law, he could not allow that its exaction deserved the name of plunder.”
“With or without law,” observed Father Glenny, “it appears to me plunder to force payment for offered services, which are not only declined but regarded with dislike or contempt: in which light we know the services of the Protestant clergy are justly or unjustly regarded by our Catholic population. If you, sir, were a pastor in the Vaudois, and your flock under the dominion of some Catholic power, could you see one deprived of his only blanket, and another of his last loaf of bread, and a third of his sole portion of his field-crop, for the maintenance of a elergy whom they never saw, and not call it plunder, let the law stand as it might? And could you acknowledge your people to be justly charged with disaffection if they looked with an unfriendly eye on the priestly agent of this robbery, and muttered deep curses against his employer?”
No answer being returned, the priest invited his companion into certain of the dwellings near.
“To be looked on with an unfriendly eye?” asked Mr. Orme, smiling bitterly. “To be greeted width deep curses?”
“By no means, sir. I question whether an individual whom we shall meet will know the pastor of his parish. If you keep your own counsel, you may see things as they are. If you have courage, you may hear by what means your 400l. a year has been levied.”
“I will; on condition that you will allow me to speak as plainly to you on your relation to the people as you have spoken on mine. Will you bear with my rebukes in your turn?”
“I will,” replied the priest, “when I have finished my say. Do you conceive it just and merciful to Ireland that she should support four archbishoprics, and eighteen bishoprics, the total number of her Protestants being smaller than in certain single dioceses in England?”
“Certainly not. I have long advocated a reduction of our establishment. I would go so far as to make the four arehbishopries maintain the whole, which would strike off at once 100,000/. a-year from the revenues of the church. I would go farther, sir; and this will, I hope, prove to you that I am not one of the locusttribe to which you would assign me. I would commute the tithes for lands, in order to avoid the individual oppression of which the people complain.”
Father Glenny observed that he did not wonder the plan of commutation was rising into favour now that it was found impossible to collect tithes in the old method: but the nation might be found as impracticable respecting one mode of paying tithes as another; and he wished to know what was to be done in case of its declining the commutation proposed.
“The plan must be enforced,” replied Mr. Orme; “and, moreover, the arrears must be recovered by the strong arm of the law.”
“Whence can they be obtained?” asked Father Glenny. “How are you to compel the cottier who consumes his scanty crop, season by season, to pay the collected tithe-dues of several? I say nothing of the danger to yourselves and your families,—danger to life and property, —of enforcing your claim. I say nothing now of the violence which must attend upon such an effort. I merely ask whence the arrears are to be obtained in an impoverished country?”
“They must be converted into a government debt. By this means, the nation will learn the real disposition of the government towards its own ecclesiastical servants and those who refuse them their lawful rights. By this means, the consent of my brethren at large to a commutation of tithes will be most easily obtained. Yes; the arrears of tithe must be converted into a government debt.”
“By this means,” replied the priest, “the burden will be imposed where it is not due. Our cottiers cannot pay; and you would therefore have their richer neighbours discharge their arrears:—a vicarious obligation of a new kind!— No! this will scarcely be tolerated, believe me. You will carry neither of your points;—neither the payment of arrears nor commutation; the people having discovered a method of evading the payment entirely. Better waive your claim altogether, Mr. Orme, while there is yet time to do it with a good grace, or you will have the same trouble about tithe cattle that multitudes of your brethren have. You will pound them in vain; attempt in vain to sell them; carry them over the sea in vain; and find too late all you have gained is the name of oppressor.”
Mr. Orme muttered that it was a very hard case.
“Who can help it?” inquired the priest. “If the subsistence-fund was not, ample enough to afford tithes when due, in a poor district like this, how should it discharge an accumulation of debt? Here we have many more people, very little more capital, less industry, less forethought than when the debt was contracted. All the constituents of the subsistence-fund have become more or less debased, and yet you would tax it more heavily than ever. You must fail in your object, sir.”
“I will learn the truth for myself, instead of taking the assertion of any man whatever,” replied Mr. Orme, moving onwards towards a cluster of dwellings, into which he was introduced as a friend by the priest, and not therefore suspected of being the clergyman of the parish. All that he heard told the same tale; all that he saw confirmed it. The new church was spoken of in terms of execration, in which the parson and the proctor largely shared. One woman told how the wealthy churchman was living far away from his cure, subsisting his dogs on the food snatched from her children's mouths; and another showed where her son lay buried, having been smitten with fever in consequence of his useless over-toil to satisfy the demands of the rapacious agents of the law. Others pointed with moody mirth to their desolated dwellings, as affording a sign that the legal spoilers were not far off. Others observed that there would be few conversions to the Protestant faith in the parish, while the clergy snatched the loaves and fishes from the multitude instead of bestowing them. Yet more exhibited their uncomplaining poverty in their looks and dress rather than by words; and only gazed round their little tenements in perplexity at the mention of the dues that must be paid.
Mr. Orme had hitherto been a prejudiced man on the subject of his own rights; but he was open to conviction, and at length roused to ascertain the truth of his own case. He spent the whole of this day and the next in rendering himself acquainted with the condition of the people, and used no reserve with Father Glenny respecting the impression made upon his mind. Towards the conclusion of his investigation, he stopped short, and ended a long pause by exclaiming,
“I do not see how it is to be done! Setting aside all considerations of law and justice, I do not see the possibility of obtaining my dues from these poor people.”
“Nor I, Mr. Orme. What follows this conviction in your mind?”
“I scarcely know yet, further than that I shall give up my claim altogether, if, after a little consideration, I view the matter as I do now.”
“Then you will prove, as I expected, a faithful servant of your church; more heedful to her honour and usefulness than to your own peculiar gain.”
“Reserve your praise, I advise you, sir, till you have heard me out. By giving up my claim altogether, I mean only while the people are in their present state. When the subsistence-fund improves, when industry and forethought thrive, the people will be again in a condition to pay tithe, and will perhaps,” he added, smiling, “be my own flock, in allegiance as well as by destination, if Mr. Rosso and you continue your care of the school.”
“I will try the venture with you,” replied the priest, smiling also. “Let our respective faith be tried by the increasing light of the people. It this is also your wish, you will dispossess my flock of the prejudices they entertain against your church on account of her oppressions.”
“This reminds me,” said Mr. Orme, “of what I have to say against your relations with your flock. How do you defend your own emoluments while you complain of mine?”
Father Glenny, astonished, began to explain that he derived from his flock little more than would barely supply his wants. A hard couch, a frugal board, homely clothing, left him but a pittance with which to relieve the most pressing distress he encountered.
“Of all this I am aware,” replied Mr. Orme. “In these respects your lot resembles that of too many faithful servants of our church, who give their most strenuous exertions for a very poor worldly return. What I now complain of is not the amount of your recompense, but the mode in which it is levied. How can you in one hour lament those evils of the people's state which arise from the disproportion of their numbers to their means of subsistence, and in the next, consent to receive your emoluments in a way which exposes you to the charge of encouraging an increase of numbers?”
“The charge is false,” replied the priest. “My brethren and I do not make marriages, though we celebrate them with a view to the glory of God and the fulfilment of his holy commandment. We arc supposed to know nothing of an intended marriage till requested to solemnize it; and to refuse to discharge our office, with all the customs appertaining to it, would be to encourage sin.”
“I lay no charge to the door of any one man among you,” replied Mr. Orme. “I only observe that by receiving your emoluments chiefly in the shape of marriage fees, you expose yourselves to the suspicion of encouraging marriage; a suspicion which is much strengthened by your emphatic approbation of such connexions as often as you solemnize them, and by your known tremendous power over the minds of your flocks, obtained through the practice of confession. Hear me out, my good sir. I am not about to enter upon any controversy respecting the diversities in our discharge of the clerical office. I would only recommend to you, if you wish to place yourselves above the suspicion I have alluded to, to separate your worldly interest altogether from this particular rite. Appoint any other way you may choose of receiving your dues; but if you really believe your people to be prone to from imprudent marriages, if you are actually convinced that over-population is a principal cause of their distresses, remove from yourselves all temptation to connive at imprudent marriages and to sanction over-population: remove from the minds of your people all idea that they are gratifying and rewarding you by asking you to marry them; cancel every relation between the wedding propensities of the young and the welfare of their priest's purse,”
“I agree with you,” replied the priest, “that there is much that is objectionable in the modes in which we each receive our emoluments. You condemn tithes, and I condemn marriage fees, given as they are given now by the guests as well as the parties. The fee thus exposes us to the temptation and suspicion you speak of, without having the beneficial effect of obliging the young couple to save before they marry, like the Scotch ancient custom respecting house linen. It is for the state to remedy this evil by providing otherwise for us.”
Mr. Orme thought this was jumping to a conclusion in a terrible hurry. Why should not the same amount be given in a more judicious manner by the flock, instead of involving government at all in the matter? This point was argued till both gentlemen decided that the only method by which the permanent prosperity of the people could be secured was the general diffusion of such knowledge as would make them judges of their own condition and controllers of their own destinies. The Protestant and Catholic perfectly agreed that to further the grand object of education, it was worth while to concede certain points which elsewhere each would have strenuously insisted on; and that, should an impartial plan of general education be framed by government, it would be the duty, and would probably appear to be the disposition of all but a small minority of the factious and bigoted, to render hearty thanks for the boon, and all possible assistance towards the efficient working of the scheme.
“If this should be done speedily,” observed the Protestant, “I may live to be called hither to receive my dues in recompense of the services which I would fain render now, if the people would but receive them.”
“If this be done speedily,” observed the Catholic, “my brethren and I may live to see ourselves and our flocks no longer looked down upon by our scornful neighbours of your church as constituting a degraded caste. The law has at length emancipated us from our civil disabilities: it remains for education to lift us out of that worse and equally undeserved degradation whence the law cannot raise us up.”
The result of Mr. Orme's survey of his parish, — made known after long deliberation on his part, much consultation with Mr. Rosso, and intimate intercourse with the people,—was, that he relinquished altogether his claim for tithes for the present, on the ground that it was impossible for the people to pay them.
All the endeavours of Father Glenny and his enlightened neighbours to make the people grateful for this concession were in vain. When they heard of the changes made by Mr. Orme's family in their way of living, of the luxuries they surrendered, and the frugality they were obliged to exercise, the only remark was that these things had been fraudulently enjoyed thus long, as the nominal reward of services which had never been rendered. When reminded that the remission was an act of free grace on Mr. Orme's part, they replied “Thank him for nothing. He would never have got another pound of tithe in this parish, as he probably knows. He gives up only what he could not touch.”
When he rode away, ready to bestow kind looks on every side, he only met dubious smiles from those who gazed after him from field mid cabin, and who observed to one another that it was a great blessing to have one priest for a guide, but rather too much to have another and a strange one on their backs. To wish him well away was the utmost extent of their courtesy.
From another quarter, however, Mr. Orme had thanks. The three gentlemen whom he left behind considered themselves beholden to him for the absence of the tumultuous excitement which elsewhere attended the useless endeavour to exact tithes. This parish was saved all opposition of forces between the “loyal” and the “disaffected;” that is, between the oppressors and the oppressed. There was no need to cry out for the Insurrection Act on the one hand, or to threaten or perpetrate mischief on the other. The architect was seen no more. The field which he had surveyed bore oats instead of a church,— a happy circumstance; since the people were much in want of food for the body, while they had enough of that for the spirit, and of the kind which they preferred, in Mr. Tracey's chapel.
Dora was long in gaol before she could form an idea what was to become of her. The place was crowded, in consequence of the late disorders in her native district; and her child pined for want of the bracing air to which it had been accustomed from its birth. Night after night when she was kept awake by its wailing, day after day when she marked how its little limbs wasted, did the mother sigh to be one of those whose lot she had till now thought very wretched. Site would fain have been among such as were driven from the glen to seek a subsistence in the towns, begging by day, and nestling wherever they could find a hole by night. When she was brought into the town, she met several of these, whose faces she well knew, changed as they were from the cheerful or thoughtful countenances of dwellers in a home to the listless or bold expression of which characterises vagrants. She now envied them their freedom, however mournful their condition in other respects. They might carry their babes abroad into the free air, and if too much crowded in their noisome abodes, sleep under the open sky. They might meet their proscribed connexions, if such they had, without other restraints than their own prudence imposed: while she must see her infant languish for want of that which nature designed for all; and live on from day to day without hope of beholding husband or father, or of knowing what had become of them.
The first relief she found was in forming a desperate resolution respecting her infant. She had passed a long, wakeful night in such a state of distress as even she had seldom known. The heat was stifling, from many sleepers being collected within a small space. Her child would not lie still on her bosom one moment. Sometimes screaming, sometimes wailing, its signs of suffering wrung its mother's heart. She was first irritated and then terrified by the complaints of all who were disturbed like herself, and who seemed to think it her fault that the child would not rest. Hour after hour was she kept on the stretch, watching for tokens of fatigue from the child, or of mercy from her neighbours; but the heat increased, fresh cries wore her nerves, and new threats of getting rid of the nuisance made her feel as if every pulse in her body would burst. She threw herself down on her pallet, on the side of which she had been sitting, and closed her eyes and ears, muttering—
“God help me! and take me and my child where we may sleep in peace and no waking! My mind is just going as it did one night before; and let it go, if my child was but safe with its father. Little would it matter then what became of me; for Dan and I shall never meet more. O! hush, my child! hush! I could part with you for ever if I could only ease you from wailing, and from this sore strife. There is a curse upon me, and upon you while you live on my bosom. You never caress me, my child; you struggle out of my grasp! Other babes clasp their mothers, but you push me away. Well you may! God gave you free and strong limbs and an easy breath; and 'tis I that have laid a withering curse on your flesh, and a heavy load on your little breast. 'Tis I that have dropped poison in your veins. You shall go, my child. I will bear to be haunted all my days with your screams and your throes; I will bear to lie down without you, and wake, feeling for you in vain; I will bear to fold my empty arms when I see babes laughing in the sunshine, and wonder whether you are playing on the sod or lying beneath it,— if I can free you from my curse, and trust your little life to those who can nourish it better than I. O hush! my child. Bear with me this last night! If I could but see you but once. more quiet, if you would only once lay your little hand on my lips, if you would but look at me!— Again, again, again! your life will be spent, my child; you will die before I can save you!— O, neighbours! do ye think it's my will that my child should suffer this way? Do you think its cries do not pierce my ears more than yours? Is it worse for you to lose a night's sleep than for me to be parting with my child for ever?”
The softened grumblers inquired the meaning of her words, and praised her for intending to send the babe out of the gaol immediately, only complaining that it had not been done long before. All were ready to help her with suggestions how to dispose of it; none of which suggestions, however, satisfied her.
All difficulty on this head was removed the next day by the appearance of Father Glenny, who came, as he had done once or twice before, to administer to the religious wants of several of his flock who had found their way hither. He was shocked at the change in Dora since he last saw her, and thought the child dying. He engaged at once to have it carried out of the prison and conveyed into safe hands. Whose hands these were, he could not disclose, as Sullivan's retreat was made known to him under the seal of confession, and the circumstances must not be revealed even to the old man's only child. Of Dan the priest had heard nothing. No one had seen or heard of him since some days previous to Dora's capture.
The only thing which struck the priest as remarkable in Dora's state of mind was her utter indifference respecting her approaching trial. It seemed never to occur to her; and when she was reminded of it, it appeared to be regarded as a slight and necessary form preliminary to her going away for ever. She never took in the idea of acquittal, or remembered that she had a part to perform, and that she was one of two contending parties, with either of whom success might rest. She made no complaints of being a passive instrument in the hand of power, or of any hardship in the treatment she had experienced or was still to bear. She made no preparation of her thoughts for defence or for endurance. She was utterly unmindful of what was coming, taking for granted that she should never more see her husband, and beyond this, having no thought where she was to spend her days, or how she was to end them. This state appeared so unnatural, that the priest, after enlarging in vain on her accusation and means of defence, ventured to rouse her by mentioning a report he had heard that an attempt was to be made to rescue her and her companions by breaking the gaol before the trials, or by attacking the guard which should conduct some to tile gibbet and others to the coast, when their doom was to be enforced. For a moment a gleam of hope kindled in her eyes; but she immediately observed that if the report was abroad, the magistrates were no doubt on their guard, and the white-boys would ascertain the attempt to be vain before they committed themselves. After this, however, it was observed that she could recollect nothing. She had nothing to confess, nothing to ask for, no messages to leave, no desires to express. With a dull, drowsy expression of countenance, she looked at the priest when he rose to leave her, and seemed to ask why he stood waiting.
“Your child, my daughter,” said he, extending his arms to receive the babe.
With a start and a flushed cheek, she hastened to wrap it in the only garment of her own which she could spare to add to its scanty clothing. After a cold kiss, she placed it in the arms of its new guardian, saying with a stiff smile,
“I wonder whether there are any more such mothers as I am! I forget all about my child's coming to me, and I don't think I care much about its going from me. I'm past caring about any thing at times.”
“And at other times, daughter——”
“Hush, hush, hush! don't speak of them now. Well; there have been widowed wives and childless mothers; and I am only one more; and what is to come is dark to us all, except that there is death for everybody.—No blessing, father, to-day! It has never done me any good, and I cannot bear it. Try it upon that little one, if you like.”
As soon as the priest was gone, muttering amidst his tears the blessing to which she would not listen, Dora threw herself down on her pallet and instantly slept. She scarcely woke again till called up, eight and forty hours after, to prepare for trial.
Sleep had restored her to perfect sanity, and a full and deep consciousness of her misery. A demeanour of more settled sorrow, a countenance more intensely expressive of anguish, were never seen in that or any other court. She was silent from first to last, except when called upon for the few necessary words which her counsel could not say for her. Though deeply attentive to the proceedings, she appeared to sustain no conflict of hope and fear. In her mind it was evident that the whole matter was settled from the beginning.
She had all that law and justice, the justice of a law court, could give her. Her countrymen must still wait for the more enlightened law, the more effectual justice whose office is rather to obviate than to punish crime: but all that pertains to law and justice, after the perpetration of crime, Dora had, both in the way of defence and infliction. She had good counsel, an impartial jury, a patient and compassionate judge. She was accordingly fairly tried and condemned to transportation for life, on the first charge; the second was waived as unnecessary, the issue of the first being a conviction.
As the condemned was leaving the court, she heard (for on this day nothing escaped her) the lamentations of one who had known her from her infancy, over her having had an education. “If she had never been taught to write,” urged her sage neighbour, “this murtherous letter could never have been brought against her.” To which some one replied that she would still have been convicted of perjury.
“Is there no language to threaten in,” asked Dora, speaking rapidly as she passed, “but that which is spelled by letters? Overthrow every school in the country, empty all your ink into the sea, make a great fire of all your paper, and you will still find threats inscribed wherever there is oppression. There will be pictures traced in the sands of the sea-shore; there will be pikes stuck up on each side the doors; there will be mock gibbets for signals, and a multitude of scowling brows for warnings. Let those who are above us look within themselves, and as sure as they find these traces of tyrannical desires, will they see round about them marks of revengeful plots, though the people under them may be as brutish in their ignorance as slaves in their bondage. When do prosperous men plot, or contented men threaten, or those who are secure perjure them-selves, or the well-governed think of treachery? Who believes that conspiracy was born in our schools instead of on our cold hearths, or that violence is natural to any hands but those from which their occupation and their subsistence are wrenched together? The school in which my husband and I learned rebellion was the bleak rock, where famine came to be our teacher. A grim set of scholars she had——”
“What is the prisoner talking about?” cried a potential voice from behind. “Remove her, officer!”
The rumour of the intention of the whiteboys to break the gaol, or otherwise rescue the prisoners, was unfounded. Since the new works were begun on Mr. Tracey's estate, the numbers of the disaffected in the district had lessened considerably, and those who remained were for the most part employed on distant expeditions. Dan had been out of his own neighbourhood so long that he heard of Dora's capture only a few days before her trial, his father-in-law having failed in his attempt to give him immediate intelligence of the event. The exasperated husband vowed, as soon as he learned her sentence, to move heaven and earth to rescue her; and all that one man could do to this end he did: but he was not heartily seconded by his companions; they considering the attempt too hazardous for their present force, and not seeing that this case required their interference more than many which were presented to their observation every day. If their attempt had been agreed upon and planned ever so wisely, it would have been baffled by the fears of the magistrates, who, alarmed by the rumours afloat, determined to send the convicts round by sea to the port where the convict-ship awaited them, instead of having them traverse the island. A small vessel was secretly engaged to wait off the coast at the nearest point, to receive the convicts, before it should be known that they had left the gaol.
Father Glenny, who was aware of the scheme, and therefore prepared to make his parting visit at the right time to the unhappy outcasts from his flock, repaired to Mr. Tracey's when his painful duty was done, dispirited, and eager for some relief from the harrowing thoughts which the various interviews had left behind. Mr. Tracey invited him to inspect the works, and see what had been done thereby for the estate and for the people. They rode to the shore just as the labourers were leaving work, and at the proper time for conversing with some of them respecting their prospects, and the hopes and views with which they were about to begin life in another land. An ardent desire to emigrate was found to prevail: a desire arising out of hatred to middlemen and tithe-proctors, discontent with as much as they knew of the law, and despair of permanently improving their condition at home. They acknowledged their landlord's justice in enabling them to remove advantageously, smiled at the victory over Mr. Orme, on which they prided themselves as a grand parting achievement, and spoke with gratitude of the kindness of Mr. Rosso's family during their time of sore distress; but the only person among their superiors in whom they seemed to place implicit confidence was Father Glenny. To him they said little of the barrier which they believed to separate the rich and the poor in Ireland: on him no man among them looked with an evil eye; against him were directed no remarks that there was one sort of justice for the powerful and another for the helpless. Their affection being strong in proportion as it was concentrated, they almost adored their priest, and swore that when their wives and children should have followed them abroad, Father Glenny would be the only tie to their native district which they would be unwilling to break.
“How different an embarkation will theirs be!” he observed to his companion, when he had given his blessing and passed on along the ridge of the cliff. “How different a departure from that of their brethren who are sent away as criminals! Here, the husband goes in hope of soon welcoming his family to a home of better promise than they leave; there a wife is carried away alone, in disgrace, severed for ever from her husband and her child. It makes one thoughtful to consider that the least painful of these departures might possibly have been rendered unnecessary by a wiser social management; but, as for the the other, we ought to kneel in the dust, crying for mercy, till Heaven shall please to remove from us the scourge of crime, and the heart-withering despair which follows it. If you had seen and heard what I have seen and heard this day, you would tremble at the retribution which is sent upon the people and their rulers. Let us pray day and night to avert it!”
“And in the intervals of our prayers, father, let us exert ourselves to avert it by removing the abuses from which it springs. Instead of applying palliatives, let us go to the root of the evil.
Instead of providing a legal relief for our poor, which must in time become a greater burden than we now labour under, we must remove the weights which oppress their industry, guard against the petty tyranny under which they suffer, and all the while, persevere in educating, and still educating, till they shall be able to assist our reforms; to understand the law beneath which they live; instead of defying it, to respect the government (by that time more efficient to secure the objects at which it aims); and to act upon the belief that men of various creeds and ranks and offices may dwell together without enmity. May not all this come of education, coupled with political reforms, and sanctioned by the blessing we pray for?”
“Heaven grant it may!” exclaimed the priest, who was now attentively observing some one who was sitting on the sunny side of a fence which ran to the very verge of the rock. It was an old man, with a babe on his knee, to whom he was alternately talking and singing in a feeble, cracked voice. His song was of the sea, to which he looked perpetually, and over which the setting sun was trailing a long line of glistering gold, to the great delight of the infant as well as its guardian.
“It is Sullivan!” exclaimed the priest, “and it is poor Dora's child that he holds on his knee. True it is that God feeds the young ravens that cry. Yonder babe has thriven in this desert as if its nightly rest were on its mother's bosom. The old man, too, looks cheerily. You will not take advantage, my son, of his having ventured above ground in a still hour like this. You will not bid the law take its course on one whose gray hairs came before his crimes began?”
“Not for the world,” said Tracey. “Shall we alight and speak to him, or would it alarm him too much?”
They drew near while still unobserved by the old man, whose noisy sport hindered his hearing their footsteps. At this moment, a small vessel appeared from behind a projecting rock, her sails filled with a fresh north wind, and appearing of a snowy whiteness as they caught the sunlight. When she shot across the golden track, the babe sprang and crowed in the old man's arms.
“The saints' blessing on ye, my jewel!” cried he, in almost equal glee. “It's there you would be, dancing on the blue waves, instead of in my old arms, that will scarcely hold you in more than an unbroken colt, my pretty one! There she goes, my darling,
“Sullivan!” cried the priest, who could no longer endure this ill-timed mirth.
The old man scrambled up in a moment, and made his obeisance before the mournful gravity of his pastor.
“Sullivan!” continued Father Glenny, “Do you know that vessel? You cannot be aware what freight it bears! You——”
“I know now all about it,” replied the old man, pettishly. “How could your reverence expect my old eyes to see so far off what ship Dora was on board of? And what makes your reverence bring his honour to be a spy on an old man's disgrace, unless he comes to catch me, and send me after Dora.' Tis near the hour when foxes and justices come out after their prey. You may have me for the catching, your honour; and much good may it do you to have got me.”
He would not listen to a word Mr. Tracey had to say, but went on addressing the child, as if no one had been present, his glee being, how-ever, all turned to bitterness.
“Agh, my jewel! and you knew more nor I, while you sprung as a lamb does when the ewe bleats. Stretch your arms, my darling, for your mother is there; and fain would I bid ye begone to her, though it would leave me alone in the wide world, where there's not a thing my eyes love but you, babby dear!”
And so he went on, sitting doggedly down with his back to the gentlemen, who retreated, intending to come again the next day, when he might be in a more communicative mood. At some distance they looked once more behind them, and saw that another man had joined Sullivan, and was standing over him, pointing to the receding vessel.
“It is Dan!” cried the priest, quickly turning his horse and riding back. Before he could reach the spot, Dan had snatched a hasty kiss of his infant, and disappeared. The old man's countenance was now fallen, and his tone subdued.
“You will never see Dan more,” said he, “though you may hear much of him. The just and merciful will never see his face again, and he has forsworn his priest. Where he will show himself from this time, it will be in the dead of the night, with a crape on his face and a pike in his hand. They that have made him mad must put up with a madman's deeds.”
“Mad!” cried Tracey.
“He means exasperated,” replied the priest. “Dan hoped to the last to rescue his wife, and the failure has made him desperate.”
“I'm alone now in the world entirely,” muttered Sullivan, rocking the now wearied infant to sleep. “Barring this orphan's, I shall see little of the face of man. It was the face of a devil that bent over us just now. Long may it be before it scares us again.”
Sullivan said truly, that Dan would henceforth be heard of and not seen by any but the victims of his violence. He who was once the pride is now the scourge of the Glen of the Echoes.
Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume.
Whatever affects the security of property, or intercepts the due reward of labour, impairs the subsistence-fund by discouraging industry and forethought.
Partnership tenantcies affect the security of property by rendering one tenant answerable for the obligations of all his partners, while he has no control over the management of their portions.
A gradation of landlords on one estate has the same effect, by rendering one tenant liable to the claims of more than one landlord.
The levying of fines on a whole district for an illegal practice going on in one part of it, has the same effect, by rendering the honest man liable for the malpractices of the knave.
The imposition of a church establishment on those who already support another church, intercepts the due reward of labour, by taking from the labourer a portion of his earnings for an object from which he derives no benefit.
The practice of letting land to the highest bidder, without regard to former service or to the merits of the applicants, intercepts the due reward of the labourer, by decreeing his gains to expire with his lease.
All these practices having prevailed in Ireland, her subsistence-fund is proportionably impaired, though the reduction is somewhat more than compensated by the natural growth of capital.
While capital has been growing much more slowly than it ought, population has been increasing much more rapidly than the circumstances of the country have warranted: the consequences of which are, extensive and appalling indigence, and a wide spread of the moral evils which attend it.
An immediate palliation of this indigence would be the result of introducing a legal pauper-system into Ireland; but it would be at the expense of an incalculable permanent increase of the evil.
To levy a poor-rate on the country at large would be impolitic, since it would only increase the primary grievance of an insufficiency of capital, by causing a further unproductive consumption of it.
To throw the burden of a pauper system on absentees would be especially unjust, since they bear precisely the same relation to the wealth of their country as its resident capitalists.
In the case of Ireland, as in all analogous cases, permanent relief can be effected only by adjusting the proportions of capital and population: and this must be attempted by means suited to her peculiar circumstances.
The growth of capital should be aided by improvements in agricultural and domestic economy, and by the removal of political grievances; from which would follow a union in place of an opposition of interests.
Population should be reduced within due limits,
In the present emergency, by well-conducted schemes of emigration; and
Permanently, by educating the people till they shall have become qualified for the guardianship of their own interests.
printed by william clowes, stamford-street.