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land,—the object which we equally have in view, will be more speedily attained—the universal establishment in that country of a system of education, which shall teach its population, from the best and only infallible source of instruction, their relative duties, “to fear an oath, to obey magis“ trates, to fear God, and hononr the king."
The success which has attended the exertions of the Hibernian Society, affords abundant encouragement for making the effort we recommend, and as convincing evidence as could be desired of the practical advantages of educating
The districts in which it has established schools, though formerly the most turbulent, are now free from insurrections and disturbances. The most gratifying testimony has been every where borne to its usefulness.
“There have,” writes Mr. Steven, and we can give full credence to his assertions, “above one hundred and fifty thousand children, and above seven thousand adults, entered our schools since their commencement; and I have never heard of one scholar who had been educated by us, being arraigned for any crime. When it is, I believe, calculated, that twenty-one out of every thousand, are committed to prison in Ireland,- who can fully estimate the value of an institution, which has snatched above three thousand fellow-creatures from the jaws of ruin, and formed them for future usefulness ?Above three thousand who would have been the corrupters of tens of thousands by their bad example, are now trained up to be an example of industry, honesty, and dutiful submission to the laws. Let the enemies of education for ever be ashamed:-let the friends of the poor 'thank God, and take courage.” (pp. 50,51.]
poor themselves are, and will be encouragers of the work of education. In some places they have volunteered their services in the erection of schools, and have laboured at them without recompense or reward. Let the Government but employ them in a similar manner, and educate their children in the schools which the parents assist in erecting; and they need not employ soldiers in suppressing their insurrections; or the executioner in punishing their leaders at the least, and perhaps also but too many ignorant victims of their artful delusions.
The continued absence of the great landed proprietors from their estates, is an evil of no ordinary magnitude; and one, we admit, at the outset, extremely difficult to cure. It has been calculated, that since the Union, one hundred and fifty millions of money, at the least, have been drawn out of Ireland, and spent in foreign lands, instead of forming,
as a great proportion of it should have formed, a capital for the improvement of the agriculture, commerce, and manu factures of the country, from whose impoverished and impoverishing resources was wrung. But it is not of the mere loss of money that we, on behalf of the great bulk of the Irish tenantry, or that they upon their own behalf, complain. The absence of their landlords leaves them not only without protectors, but with oppressors in their stead, and, what is worse, with oppresssors acting in their name, and under their delegated authority. Hence, instead of the confidence and mutual good offices which should subsist and be cultivated between tenant and landlord, the tiller and the owner of the soil, unfeeling neglect on the one hand, hatred and distrust on the other, are not the bonds which unite, but the cold or angry feelings which sever their interests and affections, never to re-unite. Living more expensively abroad than he would, or need do at home, the Irish proprietor has no object but to draw from tenants whom he does not know, and for whom he does not care, as high a rental as can be procured. This, too, he naturally accomplishes by means the least troublesome to himself; and to accelerate his selfish and unpatriotic purpose, a set of agents have arisen, peculiar, though not indigenous, to the soil; of whose improvement they are the bane, of whose peasantry they are the curse. We scarcely need complete our allusion, by naming the middle-men, as those well-known speculators are not inaptly called, who take leases of the estates of absentee proprietors, that they may let and re-let them at advanced rents, but in smaller portions, to those who till the ground. The higher they pay, the more they exact; hence he who is the best nominal tenant of the landlord, becomes the worst landlord of the real tenants. In their interest he has no concern; in their welfare no stake. If they pay him his rent, though they and their children should go naked, half-starved, and uneducated, to do so—it is well, what is the rest to him? “ Look ye to that,” he might, indeed, say to the actual proprietor of the soil, the natural protector of the tenantry, as he laughs in his sleeve at the folly whence he derives his gains; but he thinks of those gains, and says it not. Nothing, indeed, that can tend to undeceive the proprietor-nothing that can awaken him from his dream of security to the ruin, which, unless speedily prevented, if distant is certain, and may too, be near at hand, accompanies across the channel the remit
tances of rent; and if the public papers should inform him of insurrections on his estate, of the ousting of his tenants, the distress of their cattle and potatoes; burnings, bayonetings, and murders—he feels the rental in his pocket; stirs the fire of the room in which he is wintering for economy, at Buxton, Harrowgate, Cheltenham, or Bath ; takes his snuff and his claret, and thanks God that he lives not in such a cursed place. He should know, however, and if he does not know, he must be told;—he should feel for his own sake, if not for his country's, that these mischiefs might have been prevented, had he been where he ought to be,-at home. There he must be soon, we hesitate not to say, if he wishes to have a home worth going to.
“If they will shut their eyes," remarks Mr. Steven, with great force and truth, on the danger which threatens, it will only accelerate the crisis. They may instruct their agents to seize the poor man's little stock, and force him from the land ; this may be done at the point of the bayonet. The land and cabin will then be vacant, but where will be find one hardy enough to occupy the deserted spot? This system may be persevered in, perhaps, until half or more of the estate is without tenants. But I ask, where is all this to end?" [p. 19.)
For the sake, not of this writer, but of the absentee proprietors, we will give this short answer to his question in their own ruin, certainly; too probably in the ruin of their country, also. Their estates will be untenanted; their income reduced or annihilated; the plebeian aristocracy, which the neglect of their duties has created, will become proprietors, or mortgagees equivalent to proprietors, of their patrimonial lands, and pay for them in their produce.
To prove-if proof to the dullest intellect, the most prejudiced mind, can here be necessary—that the evils of the system of middle-men, which we are now severely reprobating, is not theoretical, or imaginary, but real and practical; felt as strongly as it has been described; we will relate a simple fact which lately came to our knowledge. A gentleman of fortune in the north of England, where he has large landed estates, acquired in right of his wife considerable property in Ireland, which he leased out on the plan adopted by the native absentees. Complaints poured in, however, from the tenantry, who probably had hopes, that to an English landlord they should not complain in vain; and the event justified their expectations. Unable to leave home himself, he sent over an intelligent agent,
in his neighbourhood, who found the miserable occupiers of the land in a state of the greatest wretchedness and want; yet their only entreaty was, that they might be permitted to hold their cabins and potatoe grounds of his honour's honour, and their good young lady, themselves, and not of a middle-man, who took all they had, if their rent was not paid to the very day, and so oppressed them in every possible shape, that they had no heart to do anything for themselves. Rent they did not make an object; they would pay as much as they then did, or more, would his honour but be pleased to grant them their request. They were gratified in their wishes; a prudent agent was stationed on the spot; their landlord occasionally visited them-his other necessary engagements would not permit him to do more ;—their condition was improved; his rental increased, the parties were satisfied and benefited by a change so simple, and so easy to be made.
This was doing all that an English landlord could do for his Irish tenantry, but not all that an Irishman can do for his. He may-he can-he ought to reside the greater portion of his time, at least, upon his estate. As he has no occasion to trust to agents and to factors, he will find it to his advantage not to employ them, or at any rate to employ them but under his immediate eye. That there are amongst this class, many upright and honourable men, we mean not to deny, for in England at least we have known many such; but we lay it down as an incontrovertible principle of general prudence, never without the most urgent necessity to commit to any one the uncontrolled management of your affairs, and, as little as may be, to trust to another's acting for you, as you would act for yourself. Through confiding too much to the honour and integrity of his agent, and unwarrantably exposing him to temptations which he had not the firmness to resist, many an absentee proprietor has converted an honest man into a rogue; whilst others have systematically been defrauded themselves, and suffered their tenants to be defrauded and oppressed by rogues and sycophants, wearing the semblance of honest men. This they might avoid, would they but take upon themselves the general superintendence of their own estates, and occasionally condescend to visit the fields and the acres from which they derive, at once their consequence and support.
To this we counsel them for their own sakes; but their country has also a right to demand it at their hands. Every post from Ireland brings us intelligence of the spread of
insurrection, or at least of a lawless and armed opposition to the local authorities, to new districts of country, and and to the estates of proprietors not previously named. Nor can we marvel that it is so: we find amongst these bands of misguided men, some restless daring spirits, ready and able to lead them on to deeds, from which in cooler moments they would shrink; and when these emissaries present themselves to the oppressed tenantry of an absentee proprietor, who is there on the spot,—who is there in the moment of temptation, to warn them, on the one hand, against their wiles, to protect them, on the other, against their threats? Were the landlord at his post, his presence, his example, his exhortations, would in all probability keep them firm to their duty; would turn them to obedience to the laws if they wavered; or at the worst he would have the means of preventing their taking many steps in a contrary course. To that course at present they have every thing to tempt, and much, we had almost said--and considering their own ignorance, the arts of their seducers, and the criminal negligence of their natural and hereditary protectors, we will say-to impel them.
We have now fairly, faithfully, and fearlessly, stated one of the main causes of the popular commotions of the sister kingdom. The question presses upon us, how is it to be remedied ?-and again we answer, it is difficult to tell : yet we are satisfied that a remedy must be found, and speedily adopted too. If the great absentee proprietors of Ireland will continue deaf to the voice of their own interest, and the call of their country, other measures must be tried; first to win, and if they fail, to drive them to their duty. The visit of the King to Ireland was admirably timed for this purpose, and we regret to find, that it has not produced a more evident effect. We hope, however, that it will be repeated, and that the Irish metropolis will frequently become, as it equitably should do, the temporary abode of Royalty, and the seat of empire. This will be something gained ; though much, very much, will remain to do. Encouragement, in every way in which it can be shewn, must be afforded by the King and his ministers to the Irish nobility, and gentry. who reside chiefly in their native country, and upon their own estates. From them, whatever their political sentiments or party, let advancements in the peerage be made ; on them inferior honours be conferred. Let the Government place confidence in them, whilst to absentees without sufficient cause--and their absence on the public service is a good one