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1848] PAILURE OF THE REBELLION
419 With the view of restoring confidence, the Queen visited Ireland in 1849. The enthusiastic welcome she received from all classes of the population would, it might be supposed, have been a reason for the repetition of an experiment which had proved so successful. But it proved otherwise, and, with one exception, no attempt was made in the succeeding period again to evoke the sentiment of personal loyalty to the throne on the side of law and the existing system of government.
Ireland had been hard stricken by the famine; but the famine, by removing the unemployed population and the class of spendthrift landowners, had administered a bitter but effectual medicine to the principal evil of the country. The policy advocated by Sir Robert Peel began to bear fruit sooner than many had dared to anticipate. A period of growing material improvement succeeded; and it became apparent that before long it would no longer be necessary for Ireland to sue in formå pauperis for the redress of her grievances, and to be perpetually enacting the part of Lazarus at the gate.
In the year 1841, according to the census report for that year, the waste lands of Ireland amounted to 6,489,971 acres. In the year 1881 the amount was only 4,729,251 acres. In other words, 1,760,720 acres of the whole surface of Ireland had been reclaimed in forty years, notwithstanding the immense diminution of population which was going on simultaneously.' A great change began in the
1 See the notes in the Appendix to the “ Report of Lord Cowper's Commission on the Statistics of Waste Land," by Dr. Grimshaw, registrar.general. “The decrease of waste land," he says, " between 1841 and 1851 was 1,073,652 acres; between 1851 and 1861 it was 828,228 acres; and between 1861 and 1871 it was 277,050. Between 1871 and 1881 an apparent increase of 418,210 acres took place, and the natural conclusion arrived at by any one testing the question in this manner, and without going into details, would be that during the last decade land in Ireland to the extent of nearly half a million of acres had fallen out of use. If a more detailed examination of this question is made, it will be found that up to the year 1876 the statistics show a general decrease of waste lands, with slight variations from year to year, sometimes showing a slight increase. From the year 1876 up to the present year the returns apparently point to a steady increase of waste land, and from this apparent fact the lamentable conclusion has been arrived at that
agriculture of the country, the land under tillage diminishing from 4,612,543 acres in 1851 to 2,939,708 in 1886, while the land under meadow and clover rose from 1,246,408 acres in 1851 to 2,094,138 in 1886, and the land under grass from 8,748,577 to 10,160,292. The landlords and tenants both largely increased their investments in the soil, and improved methods of cultivation and raising cattle began to come into general use. The number of oxen, bulls, and cows exported from Ireland to Great Britain rose, between 1847 and 1885, from 186,483 to 588,170 ; the number of calves from 6363 to 52,300; the number of sheep and lambs from 259,257 to 629,090; many of the intervening years, such, for example, as 1873 and 1882, showing even a higher return. A steady rise of wages continued over the same period, and the labourer and landlord both shared in the increasing prosperity of the farmer. It was not until a succession of wet seasons, at the close of the period on which we are now entering, had depressed the tillage farmer by the partial destruction of his crops, and the sudden increase of foreign competition had lowered the prices which the grazier and stock-farmer could obtain for his beasts, that the era of serious agrarian trouble again commenced in Ireland. But, as will be seen, there was another side to the picture; for though calmed by
Ireland is steadily 'going back to bog and waste.' The real facts of the case are these :-In the earlier days of the collection of agricultural statistics it was thought unnecessary to go into too minute detail ; and thus if a grazing farm on a mountain-side had a strip of barren mountain-land at the top, and a little bit of marsh at its lowest level, the whole area would be probably put down as grass. No doubt nearly all was grass, but the stony part and the marshy part were practically useless, and therefore the area of such a farm should have been divided among all these elements, and only the usable grass included as pasture. For some years prior to 1876 greater care was enjoined on the enumerators, and land not actually used for grazing or other purposes was, unless of good quality, classed as waste. In 1877, in accordance with the increased accuracy demanded by advancing knowledge, a still further detail was insisted on, and the enumerators were required to ascertain, as nearly as possible, the amount of land available for use, and how it was employed, and also how much bog and marsh, barren mountain-land, etc., was actually in the area of each farm. It has been this picking out of little scraps of waste of all kinds that has during the past few years apparently so diminished the land in use in Ireland.”
1848] IRELAND AFTER THE PAMINE
421 natural prosperity, nevertheless under the surface the mutterings of the everlasting land-question were from time to time still to be heard, warning the world of its continued life and existence. While the cheers which greeted the ship which bore the Queen back to the shores of England were still echoing, the first steps for the formation of a tenant-right league, which was to unite the farmers of the north and south, were being taken. The leaders of the Federalist party were also asking themselves whether they might not succeed, even if both the repealer and the revolutionist had failed, in securing an alteration in the constitutional relations which bound Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom, and whether an increase of the wealth and the education of the country would not afford a stronger basis for a claim to confidence in the powers of the people for self-government than the appeal from rags, poverty, and destitution.
It has been seen that Mr. Sharman Crawford and many of the northern Protestants, as well as some of the more moderate Catholic laity and clergy, had expressed their adhesion to this order of ideas. O'Connell himself had evinced a desire, after the failure of the Repeal movement, to direct the energies of his countrymen into this channel, but had been frightened by the denunciations of Davis and the Young Ireland party into a rapid abandonment of the new platform. Amongst the antagonists of Repeal a prominent position had been occupied by Mr. Isaac Butt, a man of great eloquence and varied abilities. Like Grattan, Mitchel, and so many other Irish leaders, he was a Protestant. He had been educated at the University of Dublin, where at one time he had held the professorship of political economy; he was the author of a “History of Italy”; he had rapidly obtained a leading position at the Irish bar, and had defended Smith O'Brien and his companions in the recent State Trials with consummate skill. On the other hand, he had led the opposition in the Dublin town council to the motion brought forward by O'Connell in favour of repeal, in a speech of marked ability, after hearing which O'Connell is said to have declared that the day would come when Isaac Butt would be found on the popular side. He was now devoting his great capacity to the construction of a plan for the future relations of Ireland and Great Britain, which he believed would command assent on both sides of St. George's Channel, and might even find acceptance with the Conservatives of Ireland, to whose ranks he still considered himself to belong. The ideas which inspired him and others came to be known as those of "Home Rule for Ireland," and, though as yet but vague and shadowy in outline, began to substitute themselves for the cry of Absolute Repeal as the expression of the national discontent.
" Ireland," said Thomas Reynolds, one of the followers of O'Connell, after the decision to abandon the great meeting at the scene of Brian Boroimhe's victory, “was won at Clontarf, and she is going to be lost at Clontarf." The cause of Absolute Repeal certainly never recovered that famous day. It remained to be seen whether some other solution was possible, which, modelled on the experience of the United States, mighty satisfy the legitimate aspirations of Ireland without alienating the support of the British people. Meanwhile the rulers of Great Britain had determined to govern Ireland on what appeared to them to be just and liberal principles, without reference to the views of the popular leaders. It would seem that Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston had been profoundly impressed by the fall of the Melbourne administration having been mainly due to the unpopularity in England of the alliance with O'Connell, and they were determined to avoid repeating that error. With the death of Lord Bessborough, the principal advocate of the old policy had disappeared ; consequently, though the Whigs were now in office, it was Peel's policy which prevailed—the policy of trusting to the material development of the country, and to even justice, administered by a highly centralised administration, as the remedy for agrarian and political discontent.
In following the course of Irish events during the past forty years, we feel at every step that we are moving in the shadow of the famine. Lapse of time has not effaced the impression made upon the Irish mind by that great catastrophe. In the widespread discontent, never far below the surface even during the tranquil years before the Fenian outbreak, we can thenceforth observe a fresh element of bitterness and hate. The feeling that prompted coroners' juries to return verdicts of "wilful murder against John Russell, commonly called Lord John Russell," still breaks out when Irishmen recall the "black forty-seven"; while a like feeling, carried away with them by streams of emigrants, cherished by them, and transmitted to their children, brought about that close relation between America and Ireland which in recent years has been one of the strongest forces of Irish agitation. On English opinion the famine produced an effect much less enduring, but hardly less important. It seemed to have altered the whole problem of governing Ireland, and even after the memory of its horrors had grown dim we can trace its influence in the long and successful resistance to Irish demands, and in the sanguine hopes that were entertained of peopling