IRELAND UNDER COERCION
THE DIARY OF AN AMERICAN
WILLIAM HENRY HURLBERT
"Upon the future of Ireland hangs the future of the British Empire." CARDINAL MANNING TO EARL GREY, 1868
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
CHAPTER VII. Rossbehy, Feb. 21, 1 The latest eviction at Glenbehy, 1 Trafalgar Square, 1, 2 Father Little, 3 Mr. Frost, 3, 4 Priest and landlord, 3 Savings Banks' deposits at Six-mile Bridge, 5 Drive through Limerick, 5 Population and trade, 5, 6 Boycotting and commerce, 6, 7 Shores of the Atlantic, 7 Tralee, 7 Killorglin, 8 Hostelry in the hills, 8 Facts of the eviction, 9-13 Glenbehy Eviction Fund (see Note G2), 12 A walk on Washington's birthday, 13 A tenant at Glenbehy offers L13 in two instalments in full for L240 arrears, 13 English and Irish members, 14 "Winn's Folly," 15 Acreage and rental of the Glenbehy estate, 16 Work of eviction begun, 17 Patience of officers, 17 American and Irish evictions contrasted, 17 "Oh, he's quite familiar," 18 A modest Poor Law Guardian, 18, 19 Moonlighters' swords, 20 Father Quilter and the "poor slaves," his people, 21,22 Beauty of Lough Caragh, 23 Difficulty of getting evidence, 25 Effects of terrorism in Kerry, 25 Singular identification of a murderer, 26 Local administration in Tralee, 28
CHAPTER VIII. Cork, Feb. 23, 30 Press accounts of Glenbehy evictions astonish an eye-witness, 30 Castle Island, 31 Mr. Roche and Mr. Gladstone, 31 Opinions of a railway traveller, 31, 32 Misrepresentations of evictions, 32 Cork, past and present, 34 Mr. Gladstone and the Dean, 35 League Courts in Kerry, 36 Local Law Lords, 36 Mr. Colomb and the Fenian rising in 1867, 37 Remarkable letter of an M.P., 38 Irish Constabulary, morale of the force, 40 The clergy and the Plan of Campaign, 41 Municipal history, 43 Increase of public burdens, 44 Tralee Board of Guardians, 46 Labourers and tenants, 46 Feb. 25, 47 Boycotting, 47-49 Land law and freedom of contract, 49 Rivalry between Limerick and Cork, 50 Henry VIII. and the Irish harp, 50 Municipal Parliamentary franchise, 51 Environs of Cork, 52 Churches and chapels, 53 Attractive home at Belmullet, 54 Lord Carnarvon and the Priest, 55 Feb. 26, 56 Blarney Castle, 56, 57 St. Anne's Hill, 56, 57 An evicted woman on "the Plan," 59 The Ponsonby estate, 59 Feb. 27—A day at Youghal, 60 Father Keller, 61-76 On emigration and migration, 66 Protestants and Catholics (see Note G3), 68 Meath as a field for peasant proprietors, 69 Ghost of British protection, 70 A farmer evicted from a tenancy of 200 years, 71 Sir Walter Raleigh's house and garden, 71-73 Churches of St. Mary of Youghal and St. Nicholas of Galway, 73 Monument and churchyard, 73, 74 An Elizabethan candidate for canonisation, 75 Drive to Lismore, 76 Driver's opinions on the Ponsonby estates, 77 Dromaneen Castle and the Countess of Desmond, 78 Trappist Monastery at Cappoquin, 78 Lismore, 78, 79 Castle grounds and cathedral, 79, 80
CHAPTER IX. Feb. 28, 82 Portumna, Galway, 82 Run through Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Queen's and King's County to Parsonstown, 82 A Canadian priest on the situation, 83 His reply to M. de Mandat Grancey, 83 Relations of priests with the League, 83-85 Parsonstown and Lord Rosse, 86 Drive to Portumna, 87 An abandoned railway, 88 American storms, grain, and beasts, 88, 89 Portumna Castle, 90, 91 Lord Clanricarde's estate, 92 Mr. Tener, 92-128 Plan of Campaign, 94-99 Ability of tenants to pay their rents, 95 Mr. Dillon in 1886, 96 Mr. Parnell in 1885, 97 Tenants in greater danger than landlords and agents, 100 Feb. 29, 100 Conference between evicted tenants and agent, 100-106 Castle and park, 107 The League shopkeeper and tenant, 108 Under police escort, 109 Cost of 'knocking' a man, 109 What constitutes a group, 110 Favourite spots for administering a League oath, 110 Disbursing treasurers, 111 Change of venue, 111 Bishop of Clonfert, 112-115 Bector of Portumna, 115 Father Coen, 116 Coercion on the part of the League, 118-121 Deposits in banks, 120 Should landlords and shopkeepers be placed on one footing? 121 New Castle of Portumna, 122 Portumna Union, 123, 124 Troubles of resident landlords, 125-127 Effects of the agitation on the people, 124 War against property and private rights, 127 Mr. Tener's experiences in Cavan, 127-130 Similar cases in Leitrim, 130-132 Sale of rents and value of tenant-right, 133, 134
CHAPTER X. Dublin, March 1, 135 Portumna to Woodford, 135 Evictions of October 1887, 135 Capture of Cloondadauv Castle, 137-141 A tenant and a priest, 141-144 Workmen's wages in Massachusetts compared with the profits of a tenant farmer in Ireland, 146 Loughrea, 148, 149 Murder of Finlay, 150, 151 The chrysoprase Lake of Loughrea, 154 Lord Clanricarde's estate office, acreage, and rental, 155 Woodford acreage and rental, 155,156 Drive from Loughrea to Woodlawn, 156-160 A Galway "jarvey" on the situation, 156-159 Woodlawn and the Ashtown property, 160
CHAPTER XI. Borris, March 2, 161 Mr. Kavanagh, 161-163 Borris House, 163-167 A living Banshee, 165, 166 Land Corporation—its mode of working, 167 Meeting in Dublin, 1885, 168 Rev. Mr. Cantwell, 168 Lord Lansdowne's property at Luggacurren, 169 Mr. Kavanagh's career, 170 Books and papers at Borris, 171 Strongbow, 172 "The five bloods," 172, 173 Genealogy of M'Morroghs and Kavanaghs, 173 March 4, 174 Protestant service read every morning, 174 A Catholic gentleman's views, 175 Relation of tenants to village despots, 176 Would America make a State of Ireland? 177 Land Acts since 1870, 178 The O'Grady of Kilballyowen and his rental, 179 Dispute with his tenants: its cause and effect, 180 His circular to his tenantry, 181-186
CHAPTER XII. Grenane House, March 5, 187 Visit to Mr. Seigne, 187 Beautiful situation of Grenane, 189 A lady of the country, 189 Mr. Seigne's experience of the tenants, 191-194 The beauty of Woodstock, 194-198 The watch of Waterloo, 197-200 Curious discovery of stolen property, 200 Dublin, March 6, 200 State of deposits in the Savings Banks, 200-201 Interest on "Plan of Campaign" funds, 202
CHAPTER XIII. Dublin, March 8, 203 Inch and the Coolgreany evictions, 203 Sweet vale of Avoca, 204 Dr. Dillon of Arklow, 204 Fathers O'Neill and Dunphy, 205, 206 Mr. Davitt watching the evictions, 207 Lazy and thriftless tenants better off than before, 209 A self-made committee, 211 The Brooke estate, 212 Sir Thomas Esmonde's house, 213 An Arklow dinner, 214 Dr. Dillon in his study, 215-217 Visit to Glenart Castle, 217
CHAPTER XIV. Dublin, March 9, 219 Athy, 219 A political jarvey, 220-225 "Who is Mr. Gilhooly?" 221 Lord Lansdowne's offer refused through pressure of the League, 226 Mr. Kilbride, M.P., and Mr. Dunne, 226-228 Lord Lansdowne's estate in Kerry, 228-231 Plan of Campaign at Luggacurren, 231-236 Interview with Father Maher, 236-239 A "jarvey" on a J.P., 240 "Railway amenities," 241 Dublin, March 10, 242 Mr. Brooke, 242-248 Unreasonable tenants, 243, 244 Size and rental of estate, 246 Sub-commissioner's reduction reversed, 246, 247
CHAPTER XV. Maryborough, 249 Archbishop Croke, 249 Interviews with labourers, 251-253 Views of a successful country teacher, 254, 255 A veteran of the '48, 256-260 Amount of wages to men, 261 The farmers and labourers and lawyers, 264, 265 Dublin, June 23, 268 Mr. Hamilton Stubber and Mr. Robert Staples, 268-270 From Attanagh to Ballyragget, 270 Case of "a little-good-for tenant," 271, 272 Mr. Kough and his tenants, 273-277 Mr. Richardson of Castle Comer, 277 Position of the tenants, 282 L70 a year for whisky, 282 Kilkenny Castle, 282 Mr. Rolleston of Delgany, 283-292 John O'Leary, 285-292 Boycotting private opinion, 292 The League as now conducted, 295 Poems and Ballads of "Young Ireland," 296 Law Courts and Trinity College, 297 American Civil War, 299-302 Dublin, June 24, 302 A dinner with officials, 303-306 A priest earns over L20,000, 305, 306 "Crowner's Quest Law," 309-311
CHAPTER XVI. Belfast, June 25, 313 Ulster in Irish history, 313 Moira, 315 Views of an Ulsterman, 315, 316 Beauty of Belfast, 317, 318 Its buildings, 319-321 Dr. Hanna, 322-324 Dr. Kane, 325 June 26, 326 Sir John Preston, 326-328 Mr. Cameron, of Royal Irish Constabulary, 328 Police parade, 328 Belfast steamers, 329 Scotland and America at work on Ireland, 330
EPILOGUE, p. 333-349
F. The Moonlighters and Home Rule (pp. 10, 38), 351 G. The Ponsonby Property (pp. 59-66), 353 G2 The Glenbehy Eviction Fund (p. 12), 360 G3 Home Rule and Protestantism (p. 68), 362 H. Tully and the Woodford Evictions (p. 149), 364 H2. Boycotting the Dead (p. 151), 370 I. The Savings Banks (P.O.) (vol. i. p. 39, vol. ii. pp. 5 and 200), 371 K. The Coolgreany Evictions (p. 216), 372 L. A Ducal Supper in 1711 (p. 283), 374 M. Letter from Mr. O'Leary (p. 291), 375 N. Boycotting Private Opinion (p. 293), 377 O. Boycotting by Crowner's Quest Law (p. 312), 382
ROSSBEHY, Feb. 21.—We are here on the eve of battle! An "eviction" is to be made to-morrow on the Glenbehy estate of Mr. Winn, an uncle of Lord Headley, so upon the invitation of Colonel Turner, who has come to see that all is done decently and in order, I left Ennis with him at 7.40 A.M. for Limerick; the "city of the Liberator" for "the city of the Broken Treaty." There we breakfasted at the Artillery Barracks.
The officers showed us there the new twelve-pounder gun with its elaborately scientific machinery, its Scotch sight, and its four-mile range. I compared notes about the Trafalgar Square riots of February 1886 with an Irish officer who happened to have been on the opposite side of Pall Mall from me at the moment when the mob, getting out of the hand of my socialistic friend Mr. Hyndman, and advancing towards St. James' Street and Piccadilly was broken by a skilful and very spirited charge of the police. He gave a most humorous account of his own sensations when he first came into contact with the multitude after emerging from St. Paul's, where, as he put it, he had left the people "all singing away like devils." But I found he quite agreed with me in thinking that there was a visible nucleus of something like military organisation in the mob of that day, which was overborne and, as it were, smothered by the mere mob element before it came to trying conclusions with the police.
On our way to Limerick, Colonel Turner caught sight, at a station, of Father Little, the parish priest of Six Mile Bridge, in County Clare, and jumping out of the carriage invited him to get in and pursue his journey with us, which he very politely did. Father Little is a tall fine-looking man of a Saxon rather than a Celtic type, and I daresay comes of the Cromwellian stock. He is a staunch and outspoken Nationalist, and has been made rather prominent of late by his championship of certain of his parishioners in their contest with their landlord, Mr. H.V. D'Esterre, who lives chiefly at Bournemouth in England, but owns 2833 acres in County Clare at Rosmanagher, valued at L1625 a year. More than a year ago one of Father Little's parishioners, Mr. Frost, successfully resisted a large force of the constabulary bent on executing a process of ejectment against him obtained by Mr. D'Esterre.
Frost's holding was of 33 Irish, or, in round numbers, about 50 English, acres, at a rental of L117, 10s., on which he had asked but had not obtained an abatement. The Poor-Law valuation of the holding was L78, and Frost estimated the value of his and his father's improvements, including the homestead and the offices, or in other words his tenant-right, at L400. The authorities sent a stronger body of constables and ejected Frost. But as soon as they had left the place Frost came back with his family, on the 28th Jan. 1887, and reoccupied it. Of course proceedings were taken against him immediately, and a small war was waged over the Frost farm until the 5th of September last, when an expedition was sent against it, and it was finally captured, and Frost evicted with his family. Upon this last occasion Father Little (who gave me a very temperate but vigorous account of the whole affair) distinguished himself by a most ingenious and original attempt to "hold the fort." He chained himself to the main doorway, and stretching the chains right and left secured them to two other doors. It was of this refreshing touch of humour that I heard the other day at Abbeyleix as happening not in Clare but in Kerry.
Since his eviction Frost has been living, Father Little tells me, in a wooden hut put up for him on the lands of a kinsman of the same name, who is also a tenant of Mr. D'Esterre, and who has since been served by his landlord with a notice of ejectment for arrears, although he had paid up six months' dues two months only before the service. Father Little charged the landlord in this case with prevarication and other evasive proceedings in the course of his negotiations with the tenants; and Colonel Turner did not contest the statements made by him in support of his contention that the Rosmanagher difficulty might have been avoided had the tenants been more fairly and more considerately dealt with. It is strong presumptive evidence against the landlord that a kinsman, Mr. Robert D'Esterre, is one of the subscribers to a fund raised by Father Little in aid of the evicted man Frost. On the other hand, as illustrating the condition of the tenants, it is noteworthy that the Post-Office Savings Bank's deposits at Six-Mile Bridge rose from L382, 17s. 10d. in 1880 to L934, 13s. 4d. in 1887.
After breakfast we took a car and drove rapidly about the city for an hour. With its noble river flowing through the very heart of the place, and broadening soon into an estuary of the Atlantic, Limerick ought long ago to have taken its place in the front rank of British ports dealing with the New World. In the seventeenth century it was the fourth city of Ireland, Boate putting it then next after Dublin, Galway, and Waterford. Belfast at that time, he describes as a place hardly comparable "to a small market-town in England." To-day Limerick has a population of some forty thousand, and Belfast a population of more than two hundred thousand souls. This change cannot be attributed solely, if at all, to the "Protestant ascendency," nor yet to the alleged superiority of the Northern over the Southern Irish in energy and thrift, For in the seventeenth century Limerick was more important than Cork, whereas it had so far fallen behind its Southern competitor in the eighteenth century that it contained in 1781 but 3859 houses, while Cork contained 5295. To-day its population is about half as large as that of Cork. It is a very well built city, its main thoroughfare, George Street, being at least a mile in length, and a picturesque city also, thanks to the island site of its most ancient quarter, the English Town, and to the hills of Clare and Killaloe, which close the prospect of the surrounding country. But the streets, though many of them are handsome, have a neglected look, as have also the quays and bridges. One of my companions, to whom I spoke of this, replied, "if they look neglected, it's because they are neglected. Politics are the death of the place, and the life of its publics."
As we approached the shores of the Atlantic from Limerick, the scenery became very grand and beautiful. On the right of the railway the country rolled and undulated away towards the Stacks, amid the spurs and slopes of which, in the wood of Clonlish, Sanders, the Nuncio sent over to organise Catholic Ireland against Elizabeth, miserably perished of want and disease six years before the advent of the great Armada. To the south-west rose the grand outlines of the Macgillicuddy's Reeks, the highest points, I believe, in the South of Ireland. We established ourselves at the County Kerry Club on our arrival in Tralee, which I found to be a brisk prosperous-looking town, and quite well built. A Nationalist member once gave me a gloomy notion of Tralee, by telling me, when I asked him whether he looked forward with longing to a seat in the Parliament of Ireland, that "when he was in Dublin now he always thought of London, just as when he used to be in Tralee he always thought of Dublin." But he did less than justice to the town upon the Lee. We left it at half-past four in the train for Killorglin. The little station there was full of policemen and soldiers, and knots of country people stood about the platform discussing the morrow. There had been some notion that the car-drivers at Killorglin might "boycott" the authorities. But they were only anxious to turn an honest penny by bringing us on to this lonely but extremely neat and comfortable hostelry in the hills.
We left the Sheriff and the escort to find their way as best they could after us.
Mrs. Shee, the landlady here, ushered us into a very pretty room hung with little landscapes of the country, and made cheery by a roaring fire. Two or three officers of the soldiers sent on here to prevent any serious uproar to-morrow dined with us.
The constabulary are in force, but in great good humour. They have no belief that there will be any trouble, though all sorts of wild tales were flying about Tralee before we left, of English members of Parliament coming down to denounce the "Coercion" law, and of risings in the hills, and I know not what besides. The agent of the Winn property, or of Mr. Head of Reigate in Surrey, the mortgagee of the estate, who holds a power of attorney from Mr. Winn, is here, a quiet, intelligent young man, who has given me the case in a nut-shell.
The tenant to be evicted, James Griffin, is the son and heir of one Mrs. Griffin, who on the 5th of April 1854 took a lease of the lands known as West Lettur from the then Lord Headley and the Hon. R. Winn, at the annual rent of L32, 10s. This rent has since been reduced by a judicial process to L26. In 1883 James Griffin, who was then, as he is now, an active member of the local branch of the National League, and who was imprisoned under Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1881 as a "suspect," was evicted, being then several years in arrears. He re-entered unlawfully immediately afterwards, and has remained in West Lettur unlawfully ever since, actively deterring and discouraging other tenants from paying their rents. He took a great part in promoting the refusal to pay which led to the famous evictions of last year. As to these, it seems the tenants had agreed, in 1886, to accept a proposition from Mr. Head, remitting four-fifths of all their arrears upon payment of one year's rent and costs. Mr. Sheehan, M.P., a hotel-keeper in Killarney, intervened, advising the tenants that the Dublin Parliament would soon be established, and would abolish "landlordism," whereupon they refused to keep their agreement. Sir Redvers Buller, who then filled the post now held by Sir West Ridgway, seeing this alarming deadlock, urged Mr. Head to go further, and offer to take a half-year's rent and costs. If the tenants refused this Sir Redvers advised Mr. Head to destroy all houses occupied by mere trespassers, such as Griffin, who, if they could hold a place for twelve years, would acquire a title under the Statute of Limitations. A negotiation conducted by Sir Redvers and Father Quilter, P.P., followed, and Father Quilter, for the tenants, finally, in writing, accepted Mr. Head's offer, under which, by the payment of L865, they would be rid of a legal liability for L6177. The League again intervened with bribes and threats, and Father Quilter found himself obliged to write to Colonel Turner a letter in which he said, "Only seventeen of the seventy tenants have sent on their rents to Mr. Roe (the agent). Though promising that they would accept the terms, they have withdrawn at the last moment from fulfilment.... I shall never again during my time in Glenbehy interfere between a landlord and his tenants. I have poor slaves who will not keep their word. Now let Mr. Roe or any other agent in future deal with Glenbeighans as he likes." The farms lie at a distance even from this inn, and very far therefore from Killorglin, and the agent, knowing that the tenants would be encouraged by Griffin and by Mr. Harrington, M.P., and others, to come back into their holdings as soon as the officers withdrew, ordered the woodwork of several cottages to be burned in order to prevent this. This burning of the cottages, which were the lawful property of the mortgagee, made a great figure in the newspaper reports, and "scandalised the civilised world." The present agent thinks it was impolitic on that account, but he has no doubt it was a good thing financially for the evicted tenants. "You will see the shells of the cottages to-morrow," he said, "and you will judge for yourself what they were worth." But the sympathy excited by the illustrations of the cruel conflagration and the heartrending descriptions of the reporters, resulted in a very handsome subscription for the benefit of the tenants of Glenbehy. General Sir William Butler, whose name came so prominently before the public in connection with his failure to appear and give evidence in a recent cause celebre, and whose brother is a Resident Magistrate in Kerry, was one of the subscribers. The fund thus raised has been since administered by two trustees, Father Quilter, P.P., and Mr. Shee, a son of our brisk little landlady here, who maintain out of it very comfortably the evicted tenants. Not long ago a man in Tralee tried to bribe the agent into having him evicted, that he might make a claim on this fund! At Killorglin the Post-Office Savings Bank deposits, which stood at L282, 15s. 9d. in 1880, rose in 1887 to L1299, 2s. 6d. James Griffin, despite, or because, of the two evictions through which he has passed, is very well off. He owns a very good horse and cart, and seven or eight head of cattle. His arrears now amount to about L240, and on being urged yesterday to make a proposition which might avoid an eviction, he gravely offered to pay L8 of the current half-year's rent in cash, and the remaining L5 in June, the landlord taking on himself all the costs and giving him a clean receipt! This liberal proposition was declined. The zeal of her son in behalf of the evicted tenants does not seem to affect the amiable anxiety of our trim and energetic hostess to make things agreeable here to the minions of the alien despotism. The officers both of the police and of the military appear to be on the best of terms with the whole household, and everything is going as merrily as marriage bells on this eve of an eviction.
TRALEE, Wednesday evening, Feb. 22.—We rose early at Mrs. Shee's, made a good breakfast, and set out for the scene of the day's work. It was a glorious morning for Washington's birthday, and I could not help imagining the amazement with which that stern old Virginian landlord would have regarded the elaborate preparations thought necessary here in Ireland in the year of our Lord 1888, to eject a tenant who owes two hundred and forty pounds of arrears on a holding at twenty-six pounds a year, and offers to settle the little unpleasantness by paying thirteen pounds in two instalments!
We had a five miles' march of it through a singularly wild and picturesque region, the hills which lead up to the Macgillicuddy's Reeks on our left, and on the right the lower hills trending to the salt water of Dingle Bay. Our start had been delayed by the non-appearance of the Sheriff, in aid of whom all this parade of power was made; but it turned out afterwards that he had gone on without stopping to let Colonel Turner know it.
The air was so bracing and the scenery so fine that we walked most of the way. Two or three cars drove past us, the police and the troops making way for them very civilly, though some of the officers thought they were taking some Nationalist leaders and some English "sympathisers" to Glenbehy. One of the officers, when I commented upon this, told me they never had much trouble with the Irish members. "Some of them," he said, "talk more than is necessary, and flourish about; but they have sense enough to let us go about our work without foolishly trying to bother us. The English are not always like that." And he then told me a story of a scene in which an English M.P., we will call Mr. Gargoyle, was a conspicuous actor. Mr. Gargoyle being present either at an eviction or a prohibited meeting, I didn't note which, with two or three Irish members, all of them were politely requested to step on one side and let the police march past. The Irish members touched their hats in return to the salute of the officer, and drew to one side of the road. But Mr. Gargoyle defiantly planted himself in the middle of the road. The police, marching four abreast, hesitated for a moment, and then suddenly dividing into two columns marched on. The right-hand man of the first double file, as he went by, just touched the M.P. with his shoulder, and thereby sent him up against the left-hand man of the corresponding double file, who promptly returned the attention. And in this manner the distinguished visitor went gyrating through the whole length of the column, to emerge at the end of it breathless, hatless, and bewildered, to the intense and ill-suppressed delight of his Irish colleagues.
Our hostess's son, the trustee of the Eviction Fund, was on one of the cars which passed us, with two or three companions, who proved to be "gentlemen of the Press." We passed a number of cottages and some larger houses on the way, the inmates of which seemed to be minding their own business and taking but a slight interest in the great event of the day. We made a little detour at one of the finest points on the road to visit "Winn's Folly," a modern mediaeval castle of considerable size, upon a most enchanting site, with noble views on every side, quite impossible to be seen through its narrow loopholed and latticed windows. The castle is extremely well built, of a fine stone from the neighbourhood, and with a very small expenditure might be made immediately habitable. But no one has ever lived in it. It has only been occupied as a temporary barrack by the police when sent here, and the largest rooms are now littered with straw for the use of the force. At the beginning of the century, and for many years afterwards, Lord and Lady Headley lived on the estate, and kept a liberal house. Their residence was on a fine point running out into the bay, but, I am told, the sea has now invaded it, and eaten it away. In 1809 the acreage of this Glenbehy property was 8915 Irish acres or 14,442 English acres, set down under Bath's valuation at L2299, 17s. 6d. Between 1830 and 1860 the rental averaged L5000 a year, and between these years L17,898, 14s. 5d. were expended by the landlord in improvements upon the property. This castle, which we visited, must have involved since then an outlay of at least L10,000 in the place.
The present Lord Headley, only a year or two ago, went through the Bankruptcy Court, and the Hon. Rowland Winn, his uncle, the titular owner of Glenbehy, is set down among the Irish landlords as owning 13,932 Irish acres at a rental of L1382.
After we passed the castle we began to hear the blowing of rude horns from time to time on the distant hills. These were signals to the people of our approach, and gave quite the air of an invasion to our expedition. We passed the burned cottages of last year just before reaching Mr. Griffin's house at West Lettur. They were certainly not large cottages, and I saw but three of them. We found the Sheriff at West Lettur. The police and the soldiers drew a cordon around the place, within which no admittance was to be had except on business; and the myrmidons of the law going into the house with the agent held a final conference with the tenant, of which nothing came but a renewal of his previous offer. Then the work of eviction began. There was no attempt at a resistance, and but for the martial aspect of the forces, and an occasional blast of a horn from the hills, or the curious noises made from time to time by a small concourse of people, chiefly women, assembled on the slope of an adjoining tenancy, the proceedings were as dull as a parish meeting. What most struck me about the affair was the patience and good-nature of the officers. In the two hours and a half which we spent at West Lettur a New York Sheriff's deputies would have put fifty tenants with all their bags and baggage out of as many houses into the street. In fact it is very likely that at least that number of New York tenants were actually so ousted from their houses during this very time.
The evicted Mr. Griffin was a stout, stalwart man of middle age, comfortably dressed, with the air rather of a citizen than of a farmer, who took the whole thing most coolly, as did also his women-kind. All of them were well dressed, and they superintended the removal and piling up of their household goods as composedly as if they were simply moving out of one house into another. The house itself was a large comfortable house of the country, and it was amply furnished.
I commented on Griffin's indifference to the bailiff, a quiet, good-natured man.
"Oh, he's quite familiar," was the reply; "it's the third time he's been evicted! I believe's going to America."
"Oh! he will do very well," said a gentleman who had joined the expedition like myself to see the scene. "He is a shrewd chap, and not troubled by bashfulness. He sat on a Board of Guardians with a man I knew four years ago, and one day he read out his own name, 'James Griffin,' among a list of applicants for relief at Cahirciveen. The chairman looked up, and said, 'Surely that is not your name you are reading, is it?' 'It is, indeed,' replied Griffin, 'and I am as much in need of relief as any one!' Perhaps you'll be surprised to hear he didn't get it. This is a good holding he had, and he used to do pretty well with it—not in his mother's time only of the flush prices, but in his own. It was the going to Kilmainham that spoiled him."
"How did that spoil him?"
"Oh, it made a great man of him, being locked up. He was too well treated there. He got a liking for sherry and bitters, and he's never been able to make his dinner since without a nip of them. Mrs. Shee knows that well."
To make an eviction complete and legal here, everything belonging to the tenant, and every live creature must be taken out of the house. A cat may save a house as a cat may save a derelict ship. Then the Sheriff must "walk" over the whole holding. All this takes time. There was an unobtrusive search for arms too going on all the time. Three ramrods were found hidden in a straw-bed—two of which showed signs of recent use. But the guns had vanished. An officer told me that not long ago two revolvers were found in a corner of the thatch of a house; but the cartridges for them were only some time afterwards discovered neatly packed away in the top of a bedroom wall. It is not the ownership of these arms, it is the careful concealment of them which indicates sinister intent. One of the constables brought out three "Moonlighters' swords" found hidden away in the house. One of these Colonel Turner showed me. It was a reversal of the Scriptural injunction, being a ploughshare beaten into a weapon, and a very nasty weapon of offence, one end of it sharpened for an ugly thrust, the other fashioned into quite a fair grip. While I was examining this trophy there was a stir, and presently two of the gentlemen who had passed us on Mr. Shee's car came rather suddenly out of the house in company with two or three constables.
They were representatives, they said, of the Press, and as such desired to be allowed to remain. Colonel Turner replied that this could not be, and, in fact, no one had been suffered to enter the house except the law-officers, the agent, and the constables. So the representatives of the Press were obliged to pass outside of the lines, one of the constables declaring that they had got into the house through a hole in the back wall!
Shortly after this incident there arose a considerable noise of groaning and shouting from the hill-side beyond the highway, and presently a number of people, women and children predominating, appeared coming down towards the precincts of the house. They were following a person in a clerical dress, who proved to be Father Quilter, the parish priest, who had denounced his people to Colonel Turner as "poor slaves" of the League! A colloquy followed between Father Quilter and the policemen of the cordon. This was brought to a close by Mr. Roche, the resident magistrate, who went forward, and finding that Father Quilter wished to pass the cordon, politely but firmly informed him that this could not be done. "Not if I am the bearer of a telegram for the lawyer?" asked Father Quilter, in a loud and not entirely amiable tone. "Not on any terms whatever," responded the magistrate. Father Quilter still maintaining his ground, the women crowded in around and behind him, the men bringing up the rear at a respectable distance, and the small boys shouting loudly. For a moment faint hopes arose within me that I was about to witness one of the .exciting scenes of which I have more than once read. But only for a moment. The magistrate ordered the police to advance. As they drew near the wall with an evident intention of going over it into the highway, Father Quilter and the women fell back, the boys and men retreated up the opposite hill, and the brief battle of Glenbehy was over.
A small messenger bearing a telegram then emerged from the crowd, and showing his telegram, was permitted to pass. Father Quilter, in a loud voice, commented upon this, crying out, "See now your consistency! You said no one should pass, and you let the messenger come in!" To this sally no reply was returned. After a little the priest, followed by most of the people, went up the hill to the holding of another tenant, and there, as the police came in and reported, held a meeting. From time to time cries were heard in the distance, and ever and anon the blast of a horn came from some outlying hill.
But no notice was taken of these things by the police, and when the tedious formalities of the law had all been gone through with, a squad of men were put in charge of the house and the holding, the rest of the army re-formed for the march back, our cars came up, and we left West Lettur. Seeing a number of men come down the hill, as the column prepared to move, Mr. Roche, making his voice tremendous, after the fashion of a Greek chorus, commanded the police to arrest and handcuff any riotous person making provocative noises. This had the desired effect, and the march back began in silence. When the column was fairly in the road, "boos" and groans went up from knots of men higher up the hill, but no heed was taken of these, and no further incident occurred. I shall be curious to see whether the story of this affair can possibly be worked up into a thrilling narrative.
We lunched at Mrs. Shee's, where no sort of curiosity was manifested about the proceedings at West Lettur, and I came back here with Colonel Turner by another road, which led us past one of the loveliest lakes I have ever seen—Lough Caragh. Less known to fame than the much larger Lake of Killarney, it is in its way quite worthy of comparison with any of the lesser lakes of Europe. It is not indeed set in a coronal of mountains like Orta, but its shores are well wooded, picturesque, and enlivened by charming seats—now, for the most part, alas!—abandoned by their owners. We had a pleasant club dinner here this evening, after which came in to see me Mr. Hussey, to whom I had sent a letter from Mr. Froude. Few men, I imagine, know this whole region better than Mr. Hussey. Some gentlemen of the country joined in the conversation, and curious stories were told of the difficulty of getting evidence in criminal cases. What Froude says of the effect of the prohibitive and protection policy in Ireland upon the morals of the people as to smuggling must be said, I fear, of the effect of the Penal Laws against Catholics upon their morals as to perjury. It is not surprising that the peasants should have been educated into the state of mind of the Irishman in the old American story, who, being solicited to promise his vote when he landed in New York, asked whether the party which sought it was for the Government or against it. Against it, he was told, "Then begorra you shall have my vote, for I'm agin the Government whatever it is." One shocking case was told of a notorious and terrible murder here in Kerry. An old man and his son, so poor that they lay naked in their beds, were taken out and shot by a party of Moonlighters for breaking a boycott. They were left for dead, and their bodies thrown upon a dunghill. The boy, however, was still alive when they were found, and it was thought he might recover. The magistrates questioned him as to his knowledge of the murderers. The boy's mother stood behind the magistrate, and when the question was put, held up her finger in a warning manner at the poor lad. She didn't wish him to "peach," as, if he lived, the friends of the murderers would make it impossible for them to keep their holding and live on it. The lad lied, and died with the lie on his lips. Who shall sit in judgment on that wretched mother and her son? But what rule can possibly be too stern to crush out the terrorism which makes such things possible?
And what right have Englishmen to expect their dominion to stand in Ireland when their party leaders for party ends shake hands with men who wink at and use this terrorism? It has so wrought upon the population here, that in another case, in which the truth needed by justice and the fears of a poor family trembling for their substance and their lives came thus into collision, an Irish Judge did not hesitate to warn the jury against allowing themselves to be influenced by "the usual family lie"!
A magistrate told us a curious story, which recalls a case noted by Sir Walter Scott, about the detection of a murderer, who lay long in wait for a certain police sergeant, obnoxious to the "Moonlighters," and finally shot him dead in the public street of Loughrea, after dark on a rainy night, as he was returning from the Post-Office on one side of the street to the Police Barracks on the other. The town and the neighbouring country were all agog about the matter, but no trace could be got until the Dublin detectives came down three days after the murder. It had rained more or less every one of these days, and the pools of water were still standing in the street, as on the night of the murder. One of the Dublin officers closely examining the highway saw a heavy footprint in the coarse mud at the bottom of one of these pools. He had the water drawn off, and made out clearly, from the print in the mud, that the brogan worn by the foot which made it had a broken sole-piece turned over under the foot. By this the murderer was eventually traced, captured, tried, and found guilty.
Mr. Morphy, I find, is coming down from Dublin to conduct the prosecution in the case of the Crown against the murderers of Fitzmaurice, the old man, so brutally slain the other day near Lixnaw, in the presence of his daughter, for taking and farming a farm given up by his thriftless brother. "He will find," said one of the company, "the mischief done in this instance also by prematurely pressing for evidence. The girl Honora, who saw her father murdered, never ought to have been subjected to any inquiry at first by any one, least of all by the local priest. Her first thought inevitably was that if she intimated who the men were, they would be screened, and she would suffer. Now she is recovering her self-possession and coming round, and she will tell the truth."
"Meanwhile," said a magistrate, "the girl and her family are all 'boycotted,' and that, mark you, by the priest, as well as by the people. The girl's life would be in peril were not these scoundrels cowards as well as bullies. Two staunch policemen—Irishmen and Catholics both of them—are in constant attendance, with orders to prevent any one from trying to intimidate or to tamper with her. A police hut is putting up close to the Fitzmaurice house. The Nationalist papers haven't a word to say for this poor girl or her murdered father. But they are always putting in some sly word in behalf of Moriarty and Hayes, the men accused of the murder."
"Furthermore," said another guest, "these two men are regularly supplied while in prison with special meals by Mrs. Tangney. Who foots the bills? That is what she won't tell, nor has the Head-Constable so far been able accurately to ascertain. All we know is that the friends of the prisoners haven't the money to do it."
Late in the evening came in a tall fine-looking Kerry squire, who told us, a propos of the Fitzmaurice murder, that only a day or two ago a very decent tenant of his, who had taken over a holding from a disreputable kinsman, intending to manage it for the benefit of this kinsman's family, came to him and said he must give it up, as the Moonlighters had threatened him if he continued to hold it.
A man of substance in Tralee gave me some startling facts as to the local administration here. In Tralee Union, he said, there were in 1879 eighty-seven persons receiving outdoor relief, at a cost to the Union of L30, 17s. 11d., being an average per head of 7s. 1d., and 1879 was a very bad year, the worst since the great famine year, 1847. A Nationalist Board was elected in 1880, and a Nationalist chairman in 1884. 1884 was a very good year, but in that year no fewer than 3434 persons received outdoor relief, at a cost of L2534, 13s. 10d., making an average per head of 14s. 9d.! And at the present time L5000 nominal worth of dishonoured cheques of the authorities were flying all over the county!
"On whom," I asked, "does the burden fall of these levies and extravagances?"
"On the landlords, not on the tenants," he promptly replied. "The landlord pays the whole of the rates on all holdings of less than L4 a year, and on all land which is either really or technically in his own possession. He also pays one-half of the rates on all the rest of his property."
"Then, in a case like that of Griffin's, evicted at Glenbehy, with arrears going back to 1883, who would pay the rates?"
"The landlord of course!"
CORK, Thursday, Feb. 23d.—We left Tralee this morning. It was difficult to recognise the events yesterday witnessed by us at Glenbehy in the accounts which we read of them to-day when we got the newspapers.
As these accounts are obviously intended to be read, not in Ireland, where nobody seems to take the least interest in Irish affairs beyond his own bailiwick, but in England and America, it is only natural, I suppose, that they should be coloured to suit the taste of the market for which they are destined. It is astonishing how little interest the people generally show in the newspapers. The Irish make good journalists as they make good soldiers; but most of the journalists who now represent Irish constituencies at Westminster find their chief field of activity, I am told, not in Irish but in British or in American journals. Mr. Roche, R.M., who travelled with us as far as Castle Island, where we left him, was much less moved by the grotesque accounts given in the local journals of his conduct yesterday than by Mr. Gladstone's "retractation" of the extraordinary attack which he made the other day upon Mr. Roche himself, and four other magistrates by name.
"The retractation aggravates the attack," he said.
When one sees what a magistrate now represents in Ireland, it certainly is not easy to reconcile an inconsiderate attack upon the character and conduct of such an officer with the most elementary ideas of good citizenship.
After Mr. Roche left us, a gentleman in the carriage, who is interested in some Castle Island property, told us that nothing could be worse than the state of that region. Open defiance of the moral authority of the clergy is as rife there, he says, as open defiance of the civil authorities. The church was not long ago broken into, and the sacred vestments were defiled; and, but the other day, a young girl of the place came to a magistrate and asked him to give her a summons against the parish priest "for assaulting her." The magistrate, a Protestant, but a personal friend of the priest, esteeming him for his fidelity to his duties, asked the girl what on earth she meant. She proceeded with perfect coolness to say that the priest had impertinently interfered with her, "assaulted her," and told her to "go home," when he found her sitting in a lonely part of the road with her young man, rather late at night! For this, the girl, professing to be a Catholic, actually wanted the Protestant magistrate to have her parish priest brought into his court! He told the girl plainly what he thought of her conduct, whereupon she went away, very angry, and vowing vengeance both against the priest and against him.
This same gentleman said that at the Bodyke evictions, of which so much has been heard, the girls and women swarmed about the police using language so revoltingly obscene that the policemen blushed—such language, he said, as was never heard from decent Irishwomen in the days of his youth.
Of this business of evictions, he said, the greatest imaginable misrepresentations are made in the press and by public speakers. "You have just seen one eviction yourself," he said, "and you can judge for yourself whether that can be truly described in Mr. Gladstone's language as a 'sentence of death.' The people that were put out of these burned houses you saw, houses that never would have needed to be burned, had Harrington and the other Leaguers allowed the people to keep their pledges given Sir Redvers Buller, those very people are better off now than they were before they were evicted, in so far as this, that they get their food and drink and shelter without working for it, and I'm sorry to say that the Government and the League, between them, have been soliciting half of Ireland for the last six or eight years to think that sort of thing a heaven upon earth. An eviction in Ireland in these days generally means just this, that the fight between a landlord and the League has come to a head. If the tenant wants to be rid of his holding, or if he is more afraid of the League than of the law, why, out he goes, and then he is a victim of heartless oppression; but if he is well-to-do, and if he thinks he will be protected, he takes the eviction proceedings just for a notice to stop palavering and make a settlement, and a settlement is made. The ordinary Irish tenant don't think anything more of an eviction than Irish gentlemen used to think of a duel; but you can never get English people to understand the one any more than the other!"
The fine broad streets which Cork owes to the filling up and bridging over of the canals which in the last century made her a kind of Irish Venice, give the city a comely and even stately aspect. But they are not much better kept and looked after than the streets of New York. And they are certainly less busy and animated than when I last was here, five years ago. All the canals, however, are not filled up or bridged over. From my windows, in a neat comfortable little private hotel on Morrison's Quay, I look down upon the deck of a small barque, moored well up among the houses. The hospitable and dignified County Club is within two minutes' walk of my hostelry, and the equally hospitable and more bustling City Club, but a little farther off, at the end of the South Mall. At luncheon to-day a gentleman who was at Kilkenny with Mr. Gladstone on the occasion of his visit to that city told me a story too good to be lost. The party were eight in number, and on their return to Abbeyleix they naturally looked out for an empty railway carriage. The train was rather full, but in one compartment my informant descried a dignitary, whom he knew, of the Protestant Church of Ireland, its only occupant. He went up and saluted the Dean, and, pointing to his companions, asked if he would object to changing his place in the train, which would give them a compartment to themselves. The Dean courteously, and indeed briskly, assented, when he saw that Mr. Gladstone was one of the party.
After the train moved off, Mr. Gladstone said, "Was not that gentleman who so kindly vacated his place for us a clergyman?"
"Yes." "I hope he won't think I have disestablished him again!"
At the next station, my informant getting out for a moment to thank the Dean again for his civility, and chat with him, repeated Mr. Gladstone's remark.
"Oh!" said the Dean; "you may tell him I don't mind his disestablishing me again; for he didn't disendow me; he didn't confiscate my ticket!"
With this gentleman was another from Kerry, who tells me there is a distinct change for the better already visible in that county, which he attributes to the steady action of the Dublin authorities in enforcing the law.
"The League Courts," he said, "are ceasing to be the terror they used to be."
I asked what he meant by the "League Courts," when he expressed his astonishment at my not knowing that it was the practice of the League to hold regular Courts, before which the tenants are summoned, as if by a process of the law, to explain their conduct, when they are charged with paying their rents without the permission of the Local League. In his part of Kerry, he tells me, these Courts used not very long ago to sit regularly every Sunday. The idea, he says, is as old as the time of the United Irishmen, who used to terrorise the country just in the same way. A man whom he named, a blacksmith, acted as a kind of "Law Lord," and to him the chairmen of the different local "Courts" used to refer cases heard before them!
All this was testified to openly two years ago, before Lord Cowper's Commission, but no decisive action has ever been taken by the Government to put a stop to the scandal, and relieve the tenants from this open tyranny. These Courts enforced, and still enforce, their decrees by various forms of outrage, ranging "from the boycott," in its simplest forms up to direct outrages upon property and the person.
"This dual Government business," he said, "can only end in a duel between the two Governments, and it must be a duel to the death of one or the other."
To-night at dinner I had a most interesting conversation with Mr. Colomb, Assistant Inspector-General of the Constabulary, who is here engaged with Mr. Cameron of Belfast, and Colonel Turner, in investigating the affair at Mitchelstown. Mr. Colomb was at Killarney at the time of the Fenian rising under "General O'Connor" in 1867—a rising which was undoubtedly an indirect consequence of our own Civil War in America. Warning came to two magistrates, of impending trouble from Cahirciveen. Upon this Mr. Colomb immediately ordered the arrest of all passengers to arrive that day at Killarney by the "stage-car" from that place. When the car came in at night, it brought only one person—"an awful-looking ruffian he was," said Mr. Colomb, "whom, by his square-toed shoes, we knew to be just arrived from your side of the water."
He was examined, and said he was a commercial traveller, and that he had only one letter about him, a business letter, addressed to "J. D. Sheehan."
"Have you any objection to show us that letter?"
"Certainly not," he replied very coolly, and, taking it out of his pocket, he walked toward a table on which stood a candle, as if to read it. A gentleman who was closely watching him, caught him by the wrist, just as he was putting the letter to the flame, and saved it. It was addressed to J. D. Sheehan, Esq., Killarney [Present], and ran as follows:
"Feb. 12th, Morning.
"MY DEAR SHEEHAN,—I have the honour to introduce to you Captain Mortimer Moriarty. He will be of great assistance to you, and I have told him all that is to be done until I get to your place. The Private Spys are very active this morning. Unless they smell a rat all will be done without any trouble.
"Success to you. Hoping to meet soon,—Yours as ever.
"(Signed) JOHN J. O'CONNOR."
Despatches were at once sent off to the authorities at different points. They were all transmitted, except to Cahirciveen, the wires to which place were found to have been cut. Mr. Colomb—who had a force of but seventeen men in the town of Killarney—saw the uselessness of trying to communicate with the officer at Cahirciveen, but was so strongly urged by the magistrates that he unwillingly consented to endeavour to do so, and a mounted orderly was sent. Just after this unfortunate officer had passed Glenbehy (the scene of the eviction I have just witnessed) he was shot by some of O'Connor's party, whom he tried to pass in the dark, and who were marching on Killarney, and fell from his horse, which galloped off. He managed to crawl to a neighbouring cottage, where he was not long after found by "General O'Connor" and some of his followers. The wounded man was kindly treated by O'Connor, who had him examined for despatches, but prevented one of his men from shooting him dead, as he lay on the ground, and had his wounds as well attended to as was possible. There was no response in the country to the Kerry rising, such as it was, because the intended seizure of Chester Castle by the Fenians failed, but O'Connor was not captured, though great efforts were made to seize him. How he escaped is not known to this day.
At that time, as always in emergencies, Mr. Colomh says the Constabulary behaved with exemplary coolness, courage, and fidelity. His position gives him a very thorough knowledge of the force, which is almost entirely recruited from the body of the Irish people. Of late years not a few men of family, reduced in fortune, have taken service in it. Among these has been mentioned to me a young Irishman of title, and of an ancient race, who is a sergeant in the force, and who recently declined to accept a commission, as his increased expenses would make it harder for him to support his two sisters. Another constable in the ranks represents a family illustrious in the annals of England four centuries ago.
As to the morale of the force, he cites one eloquent fact. Out of a total of more than 13,000 men, the cases of drunkenness, proved or admitted, average no more than fourteen a week! On many days absolutely no such cases occur. This is really amazing when one thinks how many of the men are isolated on lonely posts all over the island, exposed to all sorts of weather, and cut off from the ordinary resources and amusements of social life.
CORK, Friday, Feb. 24th.—This morning after breakfast I met in the South Mall a charming ecclesiastic, whose acquaintance I made in Rome while I was attending the great celebration there in 1867 of St. Peter's Day. Father Burke introduced me to him after the Pontifical Mass at San Paolo fuori le Mure; and we had a delightful symposium that afternoon. I walked with him to his lodgings, talking over those "days long vanished," and the friend whose genius made them, like the suppers of Plato, "a joy for ever." He is sorely troubled now by the attitude of a portion of the clergy in his part of Ireland, which is one almost of open hostility, he says, to the moral authority of the Church, and indicates the development of a class of priests moving in the direction of the "conventional priests," by whom the Church was disgraced during the darkest days of the French Revolution of 1793.
Almost more mischievous than these men, he thinks, who must eventually go the way of their kind in times past, are the timid priests, for the most part parish priests, who go in fear of their violent curates, and of the politicians who tyrannise their flocks. He showed me a letter written to him last week by one of these, whose parish is just now in a tempest over the Plan of Campaign. Certainly a most remarkable letter. In it the writer frankly says, "There is no justification for the Plan of Campaign on this property.
"I assented to putting it in force here," he goes on, "because I did not at the time know the facts of the case, and took them on trust from persons who, I find, have practised upon my confidence. What am I to do? I am made to appear as a consenting party now, and, indeed, an assisting agent in action, which I certainly was led to believe right and necessary, but which upon the facts I now see involves much injustice to —— (naming the landlord), and I fear positive ruin to worthy men and families of my people. I shall be grateful and glad of your counsel in these most distressing circumstances."
"What can any one do to help such a man?" said my friend. "The rebellious and unruly in the Church, be they priests or laymen, can only in the end damage themselves. Tu es Petrus; and revolt, like schism, is a devil which only carries away those of whom it gets possession out of the Church and into the sea. But a weak sentinel on the wall or at the gate who drops his musket to wipe his eyes, that is a thing for tears!"
He asked me to come and see him if possible in his own county, and he has promised to send me letters to-day for priests who will he glad to tell me what they know only too well of the pressure put upon the better sort of the people by the organised idlers and mischief-makers in Clare and Kerry.
To-day at the City Club, I made the acquaintance of the Town-Clerk of Cork, Mr. Alexander M'Carthy, a staunch Nationalist and Home Ruler, who holds his office almost by a sort of hereditary tenure, having been appointed to it in 1859 in succession to his father. He gave me many interesting particulars as to the municipal history and administration of Cork, and showed me some of the responses he is receiving to a kind of circular letter sent by the municipality to the town governments of England, touching the recent proceedings against the Mayor. So far these responses have not been very sympathetic. He invited me to lunch here with him to-morrow, and visit some of the most interesting points in and around the city. Here, too, I met Colonel Spaight, Inspector of the Local Government Board, who gives me a startling account of the increase of the public burdens. Twenty years ago there were no persons whatever seeking outdoor relief in Cork. This year, out of a total population of 145,216, there are 3775 persons here receiving indoor relief, and 4337 receiving outdoor relief, making in all 8112, or nearly 6 per cent. of the inhabitants. This proportion is swelled by the influx of people from other regions seeking occupation here, which they do not find, or simply coming here because they are sure of relief. This state of things illustrates not so much the decay of industry in Cork as the development of a spirit of mendicancy throughout Ireland. In the opinion of many thoughtful people, this began with the Duchess of Marlborough's Fund, and with the Mansion House Fund. Colonel Spaight remembers that in Strokestown Union, Roscommon, when the guardians there received a supply of one hundred tons of seed potatoes, they distributed eighty tons, and were then completely at a loss what to do with the remaining twenty tons. Mr. Parnell and Mr. O'Kelly, however, came to Roscommon, and the latter made a speech out of the hotel window to the people, advising them to apply for more, and take all they could get. "With a stroke of a pen," he said, "we'll wipe out the seed rate!" Whereupon the applications for seed rose to six hundred tons!
The Labourers Act, passed by the British Parliament for the benefit of the Irish labourers, who get but scant recognition of their wants and wishes from the tenant farmers, is not producing the good results expected from it, mainly because it is perverted to all sorts of jobbery. Only last week Colonel Spaight had to hand in to the Local Government Board a report on certain schemes of expenditure under this Act, prepared by the Board of Guardians of Tralee. These schemes contemplated the erection of 196 cottages in 135 electoral divisions of the Union. This meant, of course, so much money of the ratepayers to be turned over to local contractors. Colonel Spaight on inspection found that of the 196 proposed cottages, the erection of 61 had been forbidden by the sanitary authorities, the notices for the erection of 23 had been wrongly served, 20 were proposed to be erected on sites not adjoining a public road, and no necessity had been shown for erecting 40 of the others. He accordingly recommended that only 32 be allowed to be erected! For a small town like Tralee this proposition to put up 196 buildings at the public expense where only 32 were needed is not bad. It has the right old Tammany Ring smack, and would have commanded, I am sure, the patronising approval of the late Mr. Tweed.
I mentioned it to-night at the County Club, when a gentleman said that this morning at Macroom a serious "row" had occurred between the local Board of Guardians there and a great crowd of labourers. The labourers thronged the Board-room, demanding the half-acre plots of land which had been promised them. The Guardians put them off, promising to attend to them when the regular business of the meeting was over. So the poor fellows were kept waiting for three mortal hours, at the end of which time they espied the elected Nationalist members of the Board subtly filing out of the place. This angered them. They stopped the fugitives, blockaded the Board-room, and forced the Guardians to appoint a committee to act upon their demands.
It is certainly a curious fact that, so far, in Ireland I have seen no decent cottages for labourers, excepting those put up at their own expense on their own property by landlords.
I dined to-night at the County Club with Captain Plunkett, a most energetic, spirited, and well-informed resident magistrate, a brother of the late Lord Louth,—still remembered, I dare say, at the New York Hotel as the only Briton who ever really mastered the mystery of concocting a "cocktail,"—and an uncle of the present peer. We had a very cheery dinner, and a very clever lawyer, Mr. Shannon, gave us an irresistible reproduction of a charge delivered by an Irish judge famous for shooting over the heads of juries, who sent twelve worthy citizens of Galway out of their minds by bidding them remember, in a case of larceny, that they could not find the prisoner guilty unless they were quite sure "as to the animus furandi and the asportavit."
Saturday, Feb. 25.—I had an interesting talk this morning at the County Club with a gentleman from Limerick on the subject of "boycotting." I told him what I had seen at Edenvale of the practice as applied to a forlorn and helpless old woman, for the crime of standing by her "boycotted" son. "You think this an extreme case," he said, "but you are quite mistaken. It is a typical case certainly, but it gives you only an inadequate idea of the scope given to this infernal machinery. The 'boycott' is now used in Ireland as the Inquisition was used in Spain,—to stifle freedom of thought and action. It is to-day the chief reliance of the National League for keeping up its membership, and squeezing subscriptions out of the people. If you want proof of this," he added, "ask any Nationalist you know whether members of the League in the country allow farmers who are not members to associate with them in any way. I can cite you a case at Ballingarry, in my county, where last summer a resolution of the League was published and put on the Chapel door, that members of the National League were thenceforth to have no dealings or communication with any person not a member. This I saw with my own eyes, and it was matter of public notoriety."
I lunched at the City Club with Mr. M'Carthy. Sir Daniel O'Sullivan, formerly Mayor of Cork, whose views of Home Rule seem to differ widely from those of his successor, now incarcerated here, was one of the company. In the course of an animated but perfectly good-natured discussion of the Land Law question between two other gentlemen present, one of them, a strong Nationalist, smote his Unionist opponent very neatly under the fifth rib. The latter contending that it was monstrous to interfere by law with the principle of freedom of contract, the Nationalist responded, "That cannot be; it must be right and legitimate to do it, for the Imperial Parliament has done it four times within seventeen years!"
I walked with Mr. M'Carthy to his apartments, where he showed me many curious papers and volumes bearing on municipal law and municipal history in Ireland. Among these, two most elaborate and interesting volumes, being the Council Books of Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale, from 1610 to 1659, 1666 to 1687, and 1690 to 1800. The records for the years not enumerated have perished, that is, for the first five or six years after the Restoration, and for the years just preceding and just following the fall of James II. These volumes take one back to the condition of Southern Ireland immediately after English greed and intrigue had sapped the foundations of the peace which followed the submission of the great Earl of Tyrone, and brought about the flight to the Continent of that chieftain, and of his friend and ally, the Earl of Tyrconnell.
They give us no picture, unfortunately, of the closing years of Elizabeth's long struggle to establish the English power, or of the occupation of Kinsale by the Spanish in the name of the Pope. But there is abundant evidence in them of the theological hatred which so embittered the conflict of races in Ireland during the seventeenth century.
It was a relief to turn from these to a solemn controversy waged in our own times between Cork and Limerick over a question of municipal precedence, in which Mr. M'Carthy did battle for the City of the Galley and the Towers against the City of the Gateway and Cathedral dome. The truth seems to be that King John gave charters to both cities, but to Cork twelve years earlier than to Limerick. Speaking of this contest, by the way, with a loyalist of Cork to-night, I observed that it was almost as odd to find such a question hotly disputed between two Nationalist cities as to see the champions of Irish independence marching under the banner of the harp, which was invented for Ireland by Henry VIII.
"I don't know why you call Cork a Nationalist city," he replied, "for Parnell and Maurice Healy were returned for it by a clear minority of the voters. If all the voters had gone to the polls, they would both have been beaten."
A curious statement certainly, and worth looking into. Mr. M'Carthy gave me also much information as to the working of the municipal system here, and a copy of the rules which govern the debates of the Town Council. One of these might be adopted with advantage in other assemblies, to wit, "that no member be permitted to occupy the time of the Council for more than ten minutes."
There is an important difference between the parliamentary and the municipal constituencies of Cork. The former constituency comprises all residents within the borough boundaries occupying premises of the rateable value of L10 a year. The municipal constituency consists of no more than 1800 voters, divided among the seven wards which make up the city under the "3d and 4th Victoria," and which contain about 13,000 of the 15,116 Parliamentary voters of the borough. The same thing is true in the main of nine out of the eleven municipal boroughs of Ireland including Dublin. The 3d and 4th Victoria was amended for Dublin in 1849, so as to give that city the municipal franchise then existing in England, but no move in that direction was made for Cork, Waterford, Limerick, or any other municipal borough. The Nationalists have taken no interest in the question. Perhaps they have good reason for this, as in Belfast, where the municipal franchise has been widely extended since the present Government came into power, the democratic electorate has put the whole municipal government into the hands of the Unionists. The day being cool, though fine, Mr. M'Carthy got an "inside car," and we went off for a drive about the city. The environs of Cork are very attractive. We visited the new cemetery grounds which are very neatly and tastefully laid out. There was a conflict over them, the owners of family vaults staunchly standing out against the "levelling" tendency of a harmonious city of the dead. But all is well that ends well, and now two handsome stone chapels, one Catholic and one Protestant, keep watch and ward over the silent sleepers, standing face to face near the grand entrance, and exactly alike in their architecture. A very pretty drive took us to the water-works, which are extensive, well planned, and exceedingly well kept. They are awaiting now the arrival from America of some great turbine wheels, but the engines are of English make. In the city we visited the new Protestant cathedral of St. Finbar, a very fine church, which advantageously replaces a "spacious structure of the Doric order," built here in the reign of George II., with the proceeds of a parliamentary tax on coals. Despite his name, I imagine that admirable prelate, Dr. England, the first Catholic bishop of my native city in America, must have been a Corkonian, for he it was, I believe, who put the cathedral of Charleston under the invocation of St. Finbar, the first bishop of Cork. The church stands charmingly amid fine trees on a southern branch of the river Lea. We visited also two fine Catholic churches, one of St. Vincent de Paul, and the other the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, a grandly proportioned and imposing edifice.
It was at vespers that we entered it, and found it filled with the kneeling people. This noble church is rather ignobly hidden away behind crowded houses and shops, and the contrast was very striking when we emerged from its dim religious space and silence into the thronged and rather noisy streets. There is a statue here of Father Mathew; but what I have seen to-night makes me doubt whether the present generation of Corkonians would have erected it.
At dinner a gentleman gave us a most interesting account of the picturesque home which a man of taste, and a lover of natural history, has made for himself at the remote seaside village of Belmullet, in Mayo, the seat of the Mayo quarries, in which Mr. Davitt takes so much interest. The sea brings in there all sorts of wreckage, and the house is beautifully finished with mahogany and other rare woods, just as I remember finding in a noble mansion in South Wales, near a dangerous head-land, some magnificent doors and wainscotings made of that most beautiful of the Central American woods, nogarote, which I never saw in the United States, excepting in a superb specimen of it sent home by myself from Corinto. This colonist of Mayo employs all the people he can get in the fisheries there, which are very rich; and the ducks and wild geese are so numerous that he sometimes sends as far as to Wicklow for men to capture and sell them for him. He was once fortunate enough to trap a pair of the snow geese of the Arctic region, but Belmullet, in other respects a primeval paradise, is cursed with the small boy of civilisation; and one of these pests of society slew the goose with a stone. The widowed gander consoled himself by contracting family ties with the common domestic goose of the parish, and all his progeny, in other particulars indistinguishable from that familiar bird, bear the black marks distinctive of the Arctic tribe.
Belmullet, this gentleman tells me, boasts a very good little inn, kept by a Mrs. Deehan, which was honoured by a visit from Lord Carnarvon with his wife and daughters during the Earl's Viceroyalty. This was in the course of a private and personal, not official tour, during which, Lord Carnarvon says, he was everywhere received with the greatest courtesy by all sorts and conditions of the people. It is an interesting illustration of the temper in which certain priests in Ireland deal with matters of State, that when Lord Carnarvon politely invited the parish priest of Belmullet to come to see him, that functionary declined to do so. Upon this the placable Viceroy sent to know whether the priest would receive the visit he refused to pay. The priest replied that he never declined to receive any gentleman who wished to see him; and the Viceroy accordingly called upon him, to the edification of the people, who afterwards listened very respectfully to a little speech which His Excellency made to them from a car. It is rather surprising that these incidents have never been adduced in proof of Lord Carnarvon's determination to take the Home Rule wind out of the sails of the Liberals!
CORK, Sunday, Feb. 26.—I went out to-day with Mr. Cameron to see Blarney Castle and St. Anne's Hill. Nothing can be lovelier than the country around Cork and the valley of the Lea. A "light railway," of the sort authorised by the Act of 1883, takes you out quickly enough to Blarney, and the train was well filled. The construction of these railways is found fault with as aggravating instead of relieving those defects in the organisation and management of the Irish railways, which are so thoroughly and intelligently exposed in the Public Works Report of Sir James Allport and his fellow-commissioners. A morning paper to-day points this out sharply.
In the days of King William III. Blarney Castle must have been a magnificent stronghold. It stands very finely on a well-wooded height, and dominates the land for miles around. But it held out against the victor of the Boyne so long that, when he captured it, he thought it best, in the expressive phrase of the Commonwealth, to "slight" it, little now remaining of it but the gigantic keep, the walls of which are some six yards thick, and a range of ruined outworks stretching along and above a line of caverns, probably the work of the quarrymen who got out the stone for the Castle ages ago. The legend of the Blarney Stone does not seem to be a hundred years old, but the stone itself is one of the front battlements of the grand old tower, which has more than once fallen to the ground from the giddy height at which it was originally set. It is now made fast there by iron clamps, in such a position that to kiss it one should be a Japanese acrobat, or a volunteer rifleman shooting for the championship of the world. There are many and very fine trees in the grounds about the Castle, and there is a charming garden, now closed against the casual tourist, as it has been leased with the modern house to a tenant who lives here. In the leafy summer the place must be a dream of beauty. An avenue of stately trees quite overarching the highway leads from Blarney to St. Anne's Hill, the site of which, at least, is that of an ideal sanatorium. We walked thither over hill and dale. The panorama commanded by the buildings of the sanatorium is one of the widest and finest imaginable, worthy to be compared with the prospect from the Star and Garter at Richmond, or with that from the terrace at St. Germain.
Several handsome lodges or cottages have been built about the extensive grounds. These are comfortably furnished and leased to people who prefer to bring their households here rather than take up their abode in the hotel, which, however, seems to be a very well kept and comfortable sort of place, with billiard and music rooms, a small theatre, and all kinds of contrivances for making the country almost as tedious as the town. The establishment is directed now by a German resident physician, but belongs to an Irish gentleman, Mr. Barter, who lives here himself, and here manages what I am told is one of the finest dairy farms and dairies in Ireland. Our return trip to Cork on the "light railway," with a warm red sunset lighting up the river Lea, and throwing its glamour over the varied and picturesque scenery through which we ran, was not the least delightful part of a very delightful excursion.
After we got back I spent half-an-hour with a gentleman who knows the country about Youghal, which I propose to visit to-morrow, and who saw something of the recent troubles there arising out of the Plan of Campaign, as put into effect on the Ponsonby property.
He is of the opinion that the Nationalists were misled into this contest by bad information as to Mr. Ponsonby's resources and relations. They expected to drive him to the wall, but they will fail to do this, and failing to do this they will be left in the vocative. He showed me a curious souvenir of the day of the evictions, in the shape of a quatrain, written by the young wife of an evicted tenant. This young woman, Mrs. Mahoney, was observed by one of the officers, as the eviction went on, to go apart to a window, where she stood for a while apparently writing something on a wooden panel of the shutter. After the eviction was over the officer remembered this, and going up to the window found these lines pencilled upon the panel:—
"We are evicted from this house, Me and my loving man; We're homeless now upon the world! May the divil take 'the Plan'!"
CORK, Monday, Feb. 27.—A most interesting day. I left alone and early by the train for Youghal, having sent before me a letter of introduction to Canon Keller, the parish priest, who has recently become a conspicuous person through his refusal to give evidence about matters, his knowledge of which he conceives to be "privileged," as acquired in his capacity as a priest.
I had many fine views of the shore and the sea as we ran along, and the site of Youghal itself is very fine. It is an old seaport town, and once was a place of considerable trade, especially in wool.
Oliver dwelt here for a while, and from Youghal he embarked on his victorious return to England. He seems to have done his work while he was here "not negligently," like Harrison at Naseby Field, for when he departed he left Youghal a citadel of Protestant intolerance. Even under Charles II they maintained an ordinance forbidding "any Papist to buy or barter anything in the public markets," which may be taken as a piece of cold-blooded and statutory "boycotting." Then there was no parish priest in Youghal; now it may almost be said there is nobody in Youghal but the parish priest! So does "the whirligig of time bring in his revenges"!
At Youghal station a very civil young man came up, calling me by name, and said Father Keller had sent him with a car to meet me. We drove up past some beautiful grounds into the main street. A picturesque waterside town, little lanes and narrow streets leading out of the main artery down to the bay, and a savour of the sea in the place, grateful doubtless to the souls of Raleigh and the west country folk he brought over here when he became lord of the land, just three hundred years ago. Edmund Spenser came here in those days to see him, and talk over the events of that senseless rising of the Desmonds, which gave the poet of the "Faerie Queen" his awful pictures of the desolation of Ireland, and made the planter of Virginia master of more than forty thousand acres of Irish land.
We turned suddenly into a little narrow wynd, and pulled up, the driver saying, "There is the Father, yer honour!" In a moment up came a tall, very fine-looking ecclesiastic, quite the best dressed and most distinguished-looking priest I have yet seen in Ireland, with features of a fine Teutonic type, and the erect bearing of a soldier. I jumped down to greet him, and he proposed that we should walk together to his house near by. An extremely good house I found it to be, well placed in the most interesting quarter of the town. Having it in my mind to drive on from Youghal to Lismore, there to make an early dinner, see the castle of the Duke of Devonshire, and return to Cork by an evening train, I had to decline Father Keller's cordial hospitalities, but he gave me a most interesting hour with him in his comfortable study. Father Keller stands firmly by the position which earned for him a sentence of imprisonment last year, when he refused to testify before a court of justice in a bankruptcy case, on the ground that it might "drift him into answers which would disclose secrets he was bound in honour not to disclose." He does not accept the view taken of his conduct, however, by Lord Selborne, that, in the circumstances, his refusal is to be regarded as the act of his ecclesiastical superiors rather than his own. He maintains it as his own view of the sworn duty of a priest, and not unnaturally therefore he looks upon his sentence as a blow levelled at the clergy; nor, as I understood him, has he abandoned his original contention, that the Court had no right to summon him as a witness. It was impossible to listen to him on this subject, and doubt his entire good faith, nor do I see that he ought to be held responsible for the interpretation put by Mr. Lane, M.P., and others upon his attitude as a priest, in a sense going to make him merely a "martyr" of Home Rule. I did not gather from what he said that, in his mind, the question of his relations with the Nationalists or the Plan of Campaign entered into that affair at all, but simply that he believed the right and the duty of a priest to protect, no matter at what cost to himself, secrets confided to him as a priest, was really involved in his consent or refusal to answer, when he was asked whether he was or was not on a certain day at the "Mall House" in Youghal. Of course from the connection of this refusal in this particular case with the Nationalist movement, Nationalists would easily glide into the idea that he refused to testify in order to serve their cause.
As to the troubles on the Ponsonby estate, Father Keller spoke very freely. He divided the responsibility for them between the untractableness of the agent, and the absenteeism of the owner. It was only since the troubles began, he said, that he had ever seen Mr. Ponsonby, who lived in Hampshire, and was therefore out of touch with the condition and the feelings of the people here. In a personal interview with him he had found Mr. Ponsonby a kindly disposed Englishman, but the estate is heavily encumbered, and the agent who has had complete control of it forced the tenants, by his hard and fast refusal of a reasonable reduction more than two years ago, into an initial combination to defend themselves by "clubbing" their rents. That was before Mr. Dillon announced the Plan of Campaign at all.
"It was not till the autumn of 1886," said Father Keller, "that any question arose of the Plan of Campaign here, and it was by the tenants themselves that the determination was taken to adopt it. My part has been that of a peace-maker throughout, and we should have had peace if Mr. Ponsonby would have listened to me; we should have had peace, and he would have received a reasonable rental for his property. Instead of this, look at the law costs arising out of bankruptcy proceedings and sheriff's sales and writs and processes, and the whole district thrown into disorder and confusion, and the industrious people now put out of their holdings, and forced into idleness."
As to the recent evictions which had taken place, Father Keller said they had taken him as well as the people by surprise, and had thus led to greater agitation and excitement. "But the unfortunate incident of the loss of Hanlon's life," he said, "would never have occurred had I been duly apprised of what was going on in the town. I had come home into my house, having quieted the people, and left all in order, as I thought, when that charge of the police, for which there was no occasion, and which led to the killing of Hanlon, was ordered. I made my way rapidly to the people, and when I appeared they were brought to patience and to good order with astonishing ease, despite all that had occurred."
As to the present outlook, it was his opinion that Mr. Ponsonby, even with the Cork Defence Union behind him, could not hold out. "The Land Corporation were taking over some parts of the estate, and putting Emergency men on them—a set of desperate men, a kind of enfants perdus," he said, "to work and manage the land;" but he did not believe the operation could be successfully carried out. Meanwhile he confidently counted upon seeing "the present Tory Government give way, and go out, when it would become necessary for the landlords to do justice to the rack-rented people. Pray understand," said Father Keller, "that I do not say all landlords stand at all where Mr. Ponsonby has been put by his agent, for that is not the case; but the action of many landlords in the county Cork in sustaining Mr. Ponsonby, whose estate is and has been as badly rack-rented an estate as can be found, is, in my judgment, most unwise, and threatening to the peace and happiness of Ireland."
I asked whether, in his opinion, it would be possible for the Ponsonby tenants to live and prosper here on this estate, could they become peasant proprietors of it under Lord Ashbourne's Act, provided they increased in numbers, as in that event might be expected. This he thought very doubtful so far as a few of the tenants are concerned.
"Would you seek a remedy, then," I asked, "in emigration?"
"No, not in emigration," he replied, "but in migration."
I begged him to explain the difference.
"What I mean," he said, "is, that the people should migrate, not out of Ireland, but from those parts of Ireland which cannot support them into parts of Ireland which can support them. There is room in Meath, for example, for the people of many congested districts."
"You would, then, turn the great cattle farms of Meath," I said, "into peasant holdings?"
"But would not that involve the expropriation of many people now established in Meath, and the disturbance or destruction of a great cattle industry for which Ireland has especial advantages?"
To this Father Keller replied that he did not wish to see Ireland exporting her cattle, any more than to see Ireland exporting her sons and daughters. "I mean," he said, quite earnestly, "when they are forced to export them to pay exorbitant rents, and thus deprive themselves of their capital or of a fair share of the comforts of life. I should be glad to see the Irish people sufficient to themselves by the domestic exchange of their own industries and products." At the same time he begged me to understand that he had no wish to see this development attended by any estrangement or hostile feeling between Ireland and Great Britain. "On the contrary," he said, "I have seen with the greatest satisfaction the growth of such good feeling towards England as I never expected to witness, as the result of the visits here of English public men, sympathising with the Irish tenants. I believe their visits are opening the way to a real union of the Democracies of the two countries, and to an alliance between them against the aristocratic classes which depress both peoples." This alliance Father Keller believed would be a sufficient guarantee against any religious contest between the Catholics of Ireland and the Protestants of Great Britain.