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209 knows the relation between landlord and tenant in England, not to be struck with the differences in the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland. Nothing is more striking in Ireland than that a number of burdens which English landlords are willing to take upon themselves the Irish landlords do not find it necessary to take upon themselves. In the maintenance of a farm in England, all the expensive part of the capital employed upon a farm is provided by the landlord: the houses, the gates, the fences, and the drains. Everybody knows that in Ireland that is not the case. And at the same time the landlord obtains as rent in Ireland a much larger proportion of the value of the produce of the land than he obtains in England. In parts of Ireland, it appears to me that the landlord sometimes obtains for rent more than is produced by the land. In the northern parts of Ireland, where linen-weaving is established, more goes to the landlord, in some cases, than is produced by the land. I believe, in some parts of Ireland, where the land is extremely subdivided, and where the cottier tenants are persons who live partly by labour for hire, and partly by what they can extract from the small portion of oats and potatoes, and the cabin they have, they pay more rent than is actually the produce of the land. I have been informed there are parts of. Connaught where a man plants his potatoes at the proper season, and shuts up his cabin and goes to England and labours, and perhaps his wife and children beg about the roads; and when he comes back to dig his potatoes, with the wages of his English labour in his pocket, he is able to pay a larger sum for rent than he could have extracted from the land."
It is not to be supposed for a moment that Irish landlords, or even that the majority of them, were hard or grasping men. In Ireland, as in England, there were good landlords and bad; but the standard on which the estimate was founded was wholly different. The distinction was not that with which Englishmen are familiar, between the landlord who spent money freely in works of permanent improvement, charging reasonable interest on the outlay, who remitted rent in bad seasons as a matter of course,
and who in every way promoted the well-being of his neighbourhood, and the landlord who did these things less wisely and more grudgingly. In Ireland the difference between bad and good landlords was more like that of creditors with a giant's power to crush their debtor, who used that power to the full, or who refrained from using it.
This power was, in the majority of cases, delegated to middlemen. With the exception of that part which the owner or his agent had parcelled out in 40s. freeholds for political purposes, the land was held in leases of from twenty to one hundred and fifty acres, granted for varying periods, but very commonly for twenty or thirty-one years, with one or more lives. The land so held was sometimes cultivated by the lessee. But it was a far more rapid road to wealth to parcel it out in patches of five, three, or one acre, at extravagant rents to cottiers on yearly tenancy, or to let larger tracts on the same terms to groups of families in village partnership. The counties of Monaghan and Tyrone in Ulster, of Roscommon in Connaught, were striking instances of the first system; Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Cork, and Kerry, of the second
The rents paid by the middleman to the landlord were high; those received by the middleman from the cottiers extravagant. A great rise in the value of land had taken place in the last quarter of the previous century. The Act of 1778, allowing Catholics "to take, hold, and dispose of lands in the same manner as Protestants," had unlocked the frozen stream of agricultural industry. Commerce and manufactures had thriven during the brief period of Parliamentary independence. The tide of prosperity had been checked by the rebellion, and by the increasing burden of the war-taxes. But the price of corn steadily rose, and with it the price of land. Thirty-five to forty shillings per 1815]
1 Wakefield noted many cases of perpetual leases, or leases for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, where the tenant was, of course, nearly in the position of a landlord, except that the latter reserved mineral wealth (vol. i. p. 243).
English 1 acre was a common price for land; and in many instances double that amount was given.2
While Wakefield was in Ireland, many of the leases made in 1778 were falling in. On Lord Fitzwilliam's estates in Wicklow, which in all respects were well managed by the Irish standard, though the owner was an absentee, “preference was always given to the old tenants, if they were desirous of renewal." 3 But this procedure was a rare exception. "In Cork,” says Mr. Townsend, in his “Statistical Survey,” “many landed proprietors advertise to let to the highest bidder, without any consideration for the claim of the occupying tenant. Hence the frequent failure of tenants, and the generally unimproved state of the country. The farmer, who sees his lease drawing near a close, and feels no animating hope of a renewal upon reasonable terms, yielding to the emotions of despair, racks and impoverishes the land he has so little chance of retaining."4 In Kerry, we hear that "the usual practice is to expose land to public cant (auction), and he who bids most obtains it. The unfortunate cottier, if he wishes to procure a small tenement, must then apply to the lessee, and submit to pay an extortionate rent, which is wrung from him by this petty lord, who by this means acquires a considerable income.”
From almost every part of the country the condition was the same. “The holder of land,” says the reporter from Queen's County, "prefers a certain profit rent to the risk of manufacturing it himself; his successor is caught by the same bait, till at last it descends to the miserable peasant, to whom it is rated at double its value at a rack
1 The English acre is five-eighths of the Irish.
2 “Mr. Quin, of Adare, county Limerick, was offered for a farm of 230 acres (Irish), one-third arahide £6 per acre." Near Castle Oliver, “land, though in the midst of mountains, lets at £4 per (Irish) acre." In Tipperary, Wakefield estimated the average rental at £3, 3s. per (Irish) acre ; but he found, near Marefield, a farm of twenty-five acres without a house on it let at twelve guineas; and near Clonmel, another farm at fourteen guineas (Wakefield, vol. i. pp. 267, 277).
3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 283.
* Townsend, “Statistical Survey of Cork," p. 583. The writer was a Protestant clergyman. The survey was published in 1810.
5 Wakefield, vol. i. p. 263.
rent, who is without capital to work it, and, for the few seasons which he perhaps may hold it, is obliged to till it incessantly with corn crops till its vitals are exhausted. Then it is left during a year of forbearance, and perhaps another in the stages of ejectment, in a slovenly coshier fallow, overrun with weeds, and thus its improvement, had it been in judicious hands, and let out at a reasonable rent, is retarded for a length of time.” 1
It would be hardly credible, were it not confirmed by witness after witness, that these cottiers frequently paid their rent twice over. “I have frequently seen,” says Wakefield, “the cattle of the occupying tenant driven to the pound, and after a certain number of days sold, when he had paid his rent to the middleman, who had failed to pay it to the head landlord. The numerous instances of such distress, which every one who has resided some time in Ireland must have witnessed, are truly deplorable; and I believe them to be one of the chief causes of those frequent risings of the people under various denominations which at different times have disturbed the tranquillity of the country, and have been attended by atrocities shocking to humanity and disgraceful to the empire.”? A law was passed in
" 1816 to prevent this; yet it would seem that, nine years afterwards, responsible witnesses speak of it as an evil for which no adequate legal remedy had yet been provided. Mr. J. L. Foster and Mr. T. L. Lewis, when examined before the Parliamentary committees of 1825, stated as fact beyond dispute that “often the property of the occupying tenant is seized for rent which is not due from him individually. There are many persons who hold as intermediate tenants between the head landlord and occupier, each of them enjoying a certain portion of profit rent; and if any one of these fails in the payment of the rent due to the person of whom he holds, the remedy is sought for upon the land, and the stock of the occupier is driven off
1 Sir C. Coote, “Survey of Queen's County," p. 20 (quoted by Wakefield, vol. i. p. 273). The original report for this county is not in the British Museum. “Coshier” is neglected stubble.
2 Wakefield, vol. i. p. 244.
213 and sold, when he, perhaps, has paid up every farthing of the rent due from him.” 1
It remains to speak of another and a very potent motive for subdivision of the soil—the desire of proprietors and of middlemen alike to increase their political influence by granting leases for a life, the annual value of which could be sworn to amount to 40s. The oath was frequently false, the system of registration being lax and slovenly in the extreme. It was not pretended that the voter exercised any free-will throughout the business. He was taken to the registration office and to the poll by the landlord's "driver," otherwise employed in driving distrained cattle to the pound. His trouble and loss of time was part of the price he paid for his holding. There was no reason why he should take any interest in the matter. The member elected made no pretence of caring for his constituents. He voted in most cases steadily against the claims of their religion. He supported every new law which made ejectment easier. Every suspension of Habeas Corpus or renewal of the Insurrection Act had his full consent. resisted inquiry into the state of the people as stoutly as any Tory squire on the other side of the Channel. He voted in Parliament as he was told to vote, and expected his tenants to do the same. That the time would come when these freeholders would refuse to walk before his driver to the poll, seemed as wildly improbable as that his
i See “ Evidence before Select Committee of House of Lords," 1825, pp. 40, 54. It was cold comfort for the tenant thus ejected to be told that the law in England was the same. Speaking of the remedial Act of 1816, Mr. Foster observes, “ I have scarcely hea of any proceedings under that clause. I conceive that the unfortunate tenantry, who are ruined by the circumstance under consideration, are so annihilated that they have not the means of having recourse to the remedy.”
2 Lord Carbery stated to the House of Commons Committee of 1825 (p. 617), that the principal manufacture of 4os. freeholds took place under middle. men. Often, however, it was managed by the landlord's agent. It was the practice to insert in the lease the life of some old man not likely to live long after the event for which the freehold was created. See also Colonel Currey's evidence, p. 305 of “Report of the House of Commons Committee of 1825." The number of 4os. freeholders in 1825 appears to have been about 100.000, In Ulster there were 28,492; in Munster, 41,256. See Appendix, Wyse’s “History,” p. cxi.