§ MR. GRAY,
in rising to move—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the statements as to the treatment and condition of the tenants on the estate known as the 'Galtee Estate,' in the counties of Cork and Tipperary, which were made in the evidence given during the second trial of John Sarsfield Casey in the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin,1528 said, the trial in question took place in November last, in the Court of Queen's Bench, Dublin, and was for a criminal information against Mr. Casey for an alleged criminal libel in connection with certain letters commenting upon Mr. Bridge's administration of the Galtee Estates as agent for Mr. Nathaniel Buckley. There were also certain important disclosures made in a preliminary application for an order to make absolute a conditional order for that criminal information. The Motion he brought before the House had nothing directly to do with the libel itself. He merely proposed that an investigation should be made into the circumstances disclosed incidentally at the trial. He might mention, however, that Mr. Casey was acquitted of the charge brought against him in the first counts of the indictment—namely, that he incited to, or attempted to justify, murder—and he trusted that that fact would be remembered in any discussion which might arise. Further, he might mention that on the counts charging Mr. Casey with alleging cruelty and oppressive raising of rents against Mr. Bridge, the jury failed to come to a verdict; but it was alleged that they were 11 to 1 for acquitting him. In asking the House to appoint a Committee of Inquiry, he thought he was bound to show—first, the importance of the subject itself; and, secondly, that no relief could be given to the aggrieved parties except by the method proposed. Both these points, he believed, he should be able to establish. The case—to deal with the first point—concerned the lives and well-being of some hundreds of individuals, and excited the greatest interest, not merely throughout Ireland, but in every portion of the world where the English language was spoken. Very large sums, moreover, were subscribed in order to secure for Mr. Casey a fair trial, because it was felt in Ireland that the case would be an exposure of the entire land system under which the Irish tenantry suffered. So much for the first point to which he had alluded. Passing to the second, he hoped to be able to show that no adequate remedy could be afforded to the unfortunate tenants concerned except by the machinery of a Select Committee of that House. To come now to the immediate question, he did not think he could better describe the estates 1529 than in the words of Judge Barry, in his judgment on the question of a provisional order for a criminal information against Casey. The learned Judge said—The portion of this district more particularly referred to in this case is described in the affidavits as of the wildest and most barren character, some of the holdings situate at a vast elevation, the soil in its natural condition covered with heath and stone, and only rendered productive of miserable crops by the most unremitting toil, involving in some cases the carrying by the tenants and their families of manure upon their backs to places inaccessible to any other means of carriage. It is sworn that if there be any remission of this laborious cultivation, the soil immediately reverts to its primitive sterility. It appears on the affidavits that a number of the tenants were in very poor circumstances, living in wretched cabins and able to afford only the meanest food and clothing; that many of them were in debt for the necessaries of life; that they were as a body most industrious; and that it was only by unceasing toil on the farms, and the wages earned by themselves or members of their families from the neighbouring farmers, that they were able to subsist and pay the former rents of their holdings. This class of tenantry was suffered by the Kingston family to make the best living they could out of this sterile district, paying rents in some cases nominal, in all cases very small. Unless tilled by such a class, the land was absolutely worthless. But the evil day came. The old lords of the soil became embarrassed; possibly, if they were made of sterner and it may be wiser stuff, of the material that would make the widow pay £1 instead of 5s., they might still have held the estates. But they got into Chancery, and a receiver was appointed, who, watched, it would seem, by jealous creditors, managed the estate till 1852, when the lands were sold in the Landed Estates Court. On the eve of the sale expressions of kindly feeling passed between this receiver, a Mr. Massey, and the tenants.In reply to an address from the tenantry, Mr. Massey thus wrote—Many a sleepless night have I had thinking on the sad scenes which the necessities of my position and the watchfulness of a most hostile party compelled me to enact. The performance of such a painful duty was, however, rendered less disagreeable by the patience, order, and excellent conduct of the tenantry—conduct which, for the twenty years I am engaged in the management of landed property, I have never seen equalled elsewhere, and which, under their privations, I consider to be almost miraculous. …. I have ever found Lord Kingston most anxious to assist the wishes of the needy. … It is to be supposed that the passing of the estates into new hands is not far distant when my connection with you will be severed. Yet I trust it will be for the benefit of the tenantry, and that the new owners will treat them with the forbearance and generosity to which they are so well entitled by their honesty and excellent conduct.1530 The land sold by the Landed Estates Court was bought by the Irish Land Company, of whom, at that time, the late John Sadleir was the managing spirit. Mr. Bridge became agent to that Company in 1869; but, while the Company held the estates, no ill-feeling between him and the tenantry was manifested. A small increase of rent in certain cases was exacted, but that was generally owing to an outlay by the Company itself on the land. But he never recommended to the Company, or attempted himself, to enforce any general increase. Indeed, it would have been, unjust to do so; for it was to be borne in mind that, although land in general had increased in value within the last quarter of a century, the value of these mountain holdings had not increased. For one thing, wood had disappeared; in the next place, turf was more difficult to procure; and, thirdly, more manual labour was required than previously. The fact that these mountain holdings had not shared in the general prosperity of Ireland was shown by this—that on adjoining property, held by such landlords as Lord Lismore and Captain Massey, the increase put on re-valuation a little time ago was very small indeed. On the Galtee estates, on the contrary, the increase was enormous, of which, however, more anon. In 1873, Mr. Buckley, who was at one time a Member of that House, and who was a director of the Company, purchased this property from the Company—that was to say, from his co-directors and himself. What price he paid for it did not appear, as he had declined to give evidence at the trial; but it had been asserted, and never denied, that it was such as to afford him on the old rents an income of 8 per cent on his investment, whereas in England, as the House was aware, land rarely or never brought more than 3½ or 4 per cent. At the trial, the word "fraud" was used in connection with this purchase; but he believed Mr. Buckley acquired the land at its full value, and that it was only by the extraordinary means he adopted afterwards that its value was unduly enhanced. Mr. Bridge, as he had stated, became agent for the property in 1869; and, as he himself testified, he never gave a hint to the Company on the subject of raising rents. 1531 When Mr. Buckley became proprietor of the land, however, he ordered it to be re-valued. Mr. Bridge had been held by the public to be responsible for the natural consequences of that revaluation; but some injustice had been done him in that respect, inasmuch as it was clear from the evidence that he acted merely as the servant of Mr. Buckley. Interrogated by Mr. Butt—You swear that Mr. Buckley, your employer, knew that the old improvements had teen made by the tenants and their predecessors?Mr. Bridge replied—I have no doubt whatever of it. And knowing that," continued Mr. Butt, "he ordered these old improvements to be re-valued?—Most certainly, and most justly,was the reply. This estate presented a feature not very peculiar in Ireland, but seldom seen in England—namely, that not a single improvement of any kind whatever had been effected by the landlord, such improvements as were made being solely the work of the tenants. What was the testimony of Mr. Bridge himself?Was not everything that was done on that mountain the work of tenants?—I suppose so. Don't you believe it?—I suppose so.Again, one of the tenants in examination said, amongst other things, this—All the help we ever got from Mr. Bridge was to have me fined £4 for cutting a barth of heath on the mountain to put a coat of thatch on the roof.In a subsequent conversation with Mr. Bridge, reported in the public papers and not contracdited, the same witness said—And by the same token," sir, says I, "there are two of the ould rafters split across, and I'd be thankful to you for couples to keep 'em from killing myself and the childer in the bed.—Why, then, I don't know how you have the face of asking for rafters—how innocent you are!" said Mr. Bridge. Said he, "How nice your neighbours would look, if I charged them for the timber and gave it for nothing to you; and, indeed," added the tenant, "it would be a rare story.Thomas Hyland, of Skeheenarinka, one of the tenants, swore an affidavit, in which he said—I hold a farm nearly at the top of the mountain from Nathaniel Buckley, Esq., consisting of about 40 acres plantation measure, at the rent of £5 sterling. Mr. Bridge says I must pay £10 10s. My farm when I got it was without a house or a home or a ditch, all covered with heath and not one foot of it tilled—all was wild and bleak as a mountain left to nature.1532 Michael Regan similarly deposed that he held 47 acres of rocky mountain at Skeheenarinka, and that when he first remembered it it was only grassy heath.Who reclaimed it?" he was asked. "My father and me," he replied, "and a brother of mine, with other helps we got. Did you get any help from the landlord?—No. What did you do with it to make it fit for use?—Dug it with spades and crowbars, and blasted the rocks, many of which were buried. How many years were you working before you got it reclaimed?—We did it by degrees—a little each year. What food have you?—Potatoes, stirabout, and bread—everything next to hand that I can get. What rent did you pay on the land before the rise?—£5 9s. 6d. That was a fair rent. It has been raised to £15 16s. 6d. at one jump. Did you agree to pay that rent?—No, I could not pay it. If I left the farm, I have nowhere to go.That was the testimony of all those unfortunate tenants. If they left their farms, they had nowhere to go. Patrick Kearney, speaking of his holding, said—When I remember it first it was a black mountainy land, the same as the top of the Galtees—nothing but stone, and heath, and bogs. My father and myself were many a year rooting at it and reclaiming it.James Phelan, of Glenacunnah, swore—When he first got his farm it was barren mountain; there was not a house nor a ditch, nor nothing but mountain there; he had set about reclaiming it. Who helped you to reclaim it?—God Almighty and myself, and my poor old father, and he did not live long after. (Laughter). I have worked at it for 50 years.Denis Murphy was asked—Did you get any assistance from the landlord?—No, no more than you did. Or from the company? Ah! nonsense; no more than we got from God and our own industry.Edmond Darney, of Coolegarranroe, swore—That my old rent was £2 6s.; the new rent is £4 6s. I must live on Indian meal the greater part of the year, and must buy that on credit. I reclaimed the lands, and was reclaiming it every year. Three of my children had to go to hospital, and my wife died there. I must keep goats to give a supply of food to my children when sick; I get medical Poor Law relief.Terence Murphy, of Caghergall, swore—That I am tenant of a small farm containing about 13½ acres on the estate of Nathaniel Buckley, Esq. The said farm is situate near the summit of the Galtee Mountain, and was reclaimed from the barren heath by my grandfather, my father, and myself. It is a very poor farm; only the worst kind of potatoes can be grown upon it. I have to rent a garden 1533 nearly every year on the farms of strangers to grow sufficient food for myself and family; when I sow oats, I must reap it while it is green, as the ear never fills or ripens, and it is only fit for feeding cattle. It will grow a kind of hay; I have to take meadow on other lands to feed my cows.It was not alone the tenants that testified to the absence of any improvements by the landlord. Mr. D. J. Reardon, of Raffan, County Cork, a highly respectable and independent witness, being asked—"I suppose you did not see any landlord's improvements on the estate?" replied—No, indeed, they have not a road to approach even to-day; nothing hut an impassable cut through the mountain.Mr. James Byrne, J. P., County Cork, also said—We came by what I suppose we should call a road, but it was only the bed of the mountain torrent, and there were very large rocks down along it. I wonder how any animals could draw up an empty cart there, much less a load of any kind.These witnesses, who were experts, swore, that to reclaim these holdings in the ordinary way would have cost from £20 to £30 an acre, and then their letting value would be only 5s. or 6s. a-year. In fact, it was only by the ceaseless toil of the tenants carrying manure and even soil on their backs up the mountains that the lands were ever made productive, even to the degree they now were. He mentioned these facts, because it was difficult for English landlords to conceive an estate in such a condition as Mr. Buckley's was. Chief Justice May, who certainly could not be accused of bias towards the tenantry, took the liberty of suggesting to this English millionaire that he should avail himself of the machinery of the Board of Works for borrowing money on easy terms in order to make some improvements; but whether the suggestion had been acted on he was not in a position to say. Now, as to the actual condition of the tenancies at the time Mr. Buckley got possession of the estate. He would quote principally from the evidence given at the trial, and from the affidavits of the tenants, as he thought it better to put unquestionable testimony of this kind before the House, than attempt any paraphrase of it himself. The only other source from which he would quote was from letters written by a special 1534 correspondent who visited the estate shortly after the trial—saw and conversed with the tenants, and published the facts which were never questioned. Richard Condon, examined by Mr. O'Brien, Q. C.—I am one of the tenants on Barnahown. Are the tenants very fat there?—(Gloomily) It is easy for them. Remember when my father took my farm there could not be worse to be found, all rocks of stones and heath. I remember when the Board of Works were carrying on the relief works during the famine times. I supplied them with over 500 loads, all taken off three-quarters of an acre. I reclaimed it by rooting out the heath and stones, and bringing manure from far away. My rent was increased from 14s. to £1 18s. I agreed to pay it, because I was in dread he would turn me out of it—that is the reason. I have not paid it out of my own money, but have to borrow it and pay interest on it.Mr. Daniel Joseph Reardon, of Raffan, County Cork, examined by Mr. Butt, Q. C.—As to the general character of the land, say what it appeared to you to be?—A pure mountain, almost worthless in my estimation for any agricultural purposes, without expending an immense lot of money on it. Did you observe the character of the houses of the people?—I did; they were the most miserable holdings I ever saw. They were hardly fit to call them even hovels itself. I saw some built of mud, but whether built of mud or stone they were of the same bad character.Mr. Matthew O'Flaherty, Donaman Castle, County Limerick, swore—I protest to God, I would not give 20 acres of my own land for the whole of Barnahoun.Mr. O'Flaherty was examined as to the farm of Laurence Carroll—Now, as to Laurence Carroll?—I went into that house. He has five children. Himself and his son work for Mr. Bridge, and there was not a worse house in Skeheenarinka than that. Was that house fit for human habitation?—No. Was it fit for the habitation of a beast?—It was not. You would not put a beast in it. A cow would be just as well off outside.In fact, he said, the bailiff was the only well-fed man on the estate that he saw. Mr. James Byrne, J. P., County Cork, President of the Mallan Farmers' Club, said—I went inside the house of a man named David Hennessy, whose old rent was £2 10s., and the new one £4 5s. I saw his little dairy was in his wretched bedroom. What kind was the house altogether?—A tumble-down looking affair. In the house of John Carey, at Lyrafinne, we found a great many children. We 1535 were afraid to enter it lest it would tumble down on us, there were so many props under it, the wall hanging out, ready to burst out. The Lord Chief Justice: But it did not?—Witness: We did not delay there very long to give it time. (Laughter).That witticism of the Lord Chief Justice created great laughter in Court. He (Mr. Gray) did not see cause for the laughter, nor did he think the House would, when he read them the description published by the correspondent he had mentioned of the present condition of that holding. Here it was, written a few days after the great joke of the Lord Chief Justice—A little way off, within a sort of shelter-trench from the storm, formed of huge stone ramparts, built out of the plenteous rockeries on the farm, stood the cabin of John Carey, of Lyrefunn—stood, for it has already half tumbled about the ears of its inmates. Misery seems here to have reached its acme. The walls that remain have bulged threateningly out. Half the roof blew down one night in the storm, the day after Lord Chief Justice May had intimated that there did not seem to be much danger of it. Six children and the mother were cooped up in bed when they heard the rafters crack, and fled for their lives. In the dismantled part of the cabin the sorry little dresser and broken chair which formed the principal furniture of the demolished chamber stand still under the open heaven rotting in the rain. …. He went to Mr. Bridge on his return, and begged for five couples to restore the roof. The answer was that Mr. Bridge was not planting, not cutting timber, and that if he got it he should pay for it. Said Carey, 'I have eight in family, no money, and no crops, trying to feed the children.' The argument did not prevail. …. His rent for some twelve Irish acres was raised from £1 5s. 4d. to £2 2s. 'I agreed to pay it like the rest, of course, fearing to be thrown out. I will owe two years' rent in March next, and nothing to pay it.'Mr. Byrne was asked—Did you examine the holding of a man called Timothy Cullenan?—I did; his old rent was £5 13s., his new rent £7. On that land I saw the most extraordinary specimen of reclamation I ever saw in my whole life, and the most expensive. A portion of a small field was literally covered with stones 1½ feet in depth. He had been six weeks in grubbing that field, himself and two labourers, and I could only see a rood reclaimed.He said you could take several hundred tons off each acre of Patrick Creagh's holding, and added—I never saw such distress, and poverty, and squalor, in all my life as I saw on the estate. Generally, now, on that townland did you make any remark about the general appearance of the 1536 people living on it?—They seemed to be a very broken-hearted people. I heard nothing there but wails and lamentations.Hon. Members might wonder how it was possible for these wretched tenants to pay any rent at all. In truth, many of them could never pay rent if they were wholly dependent on their farms; but the evidence showed by what means they eked out the rent which was now doubled and trebled upon them. John Duggan was examined, and stated—That his old rent was £2 11s. 8d., and the new rent was £6 1s. 6d. Could not pay the old rent, only for a brother of his that was in a foreign country. Only for that they would not be there to-day. Always had to earn his hire outside the farm until within the last two years, when the brother helped him. Was 7½ years in service on a neighbouring farm, and gave the wages to his father and mother. Drew timber from Galtee Castle to Fermoy at 6s. a-ton. Indian meal stirabout and potatoes were the ordinary food of his family.James Hennessy, examined by Mr. O'Brien, said—I live at Ballyladers, and I farm about 60 plantation acres. I am a guardian of the Mitchelstown union. On June, 1876, I went through some of the lands. The general condition of the tenantry appeared wretched, and the lands were bad. In the previous April I took a daughter in service from Denis Murphy. His condition was miserable, and so was hers too. She had not sufficient clothing to go anywhere. I had to advance him £1 in Mitchelstown soon after to buy meal.He (Mr. Gray) would not weary the House by further evidence as to the condition of these tenants, although he could produce it in abundance. What course did Mr. Buckley, or Mr. Bridge on his behalf, take? They found a valuator, a Mr. Walker, to value the lands—a gentleman totally unacquainted with the property, and who went there in the height of summer, when everything looked its best. He inspected the lands in the months of July, August, and September. Mr. Bridge himself admitted that it would have been madness to have brought Mr. Walker there in winter, as the lands would then have been little better than a bog. Mr. Walker was not instructed to take into consideration the improvements effected by the tenants and their forefathers. Mr. Bridge said he was instructed to value on the "live and let live" principle, and not to take into consideration modern improvements. Mr. Walker said he was not to estimate the improvements 1537 made within the previous five years; but it was acknowledged that all the improvements of over five years' standing were valued, and he (Mr. Gray) held that it was demonstrated at the trial that the holdings were valued just as they stood. Mr. Bridge had had experience before of "settling" estates. He swore that he had been employed by Sadleir years ago to settle the Goold estates, and was examined as to how he did it—What did you do to put the Goold estate in order?—In the first place, sending the sheriff home about his business; and, in the second place, giving the tenants time to pay whatever arrears were due; and I treated them kindly, as I always do.That was how he settled the Goold estates, according to his own testimony; but it was not the way he "settled" the Galtee estate. He (Mr. Gray) would not trouble the House with the long list of 68 re-valuations he held in his hand, but would read a few specimens of the re-valuation on the "live and let live" principle:—Patrick Macnamara—old rent, £3 6s. 0d.; new rent, £17 10s. 2d.; John M'Namara—old rent, £5 18s. 0d.; new rent, £13 12s. 0d.; James M'Guire—old rent, £3 6s. 8d.; new rent, £10 5s. 0d.; James M'Grath—old rent, £0 5s. 0d.; new rent, £3 0s. 0d.; Connor Lyons—old rent, 2s. 6d.; new rent, £1 0s. 0d. On one townland the increase was over 100 per cent, and the hardest and most pitiable portion of this most pitiable case was, that upon the poorest and most helpless class of tenants the increase was chiefly cast. Twenty-one tenants, whose old rent in the aggregate was £22 9s. 10d., were made to pay £62 16s. 6d., or an increase of 300 per cent. Taking all the tenancies set out in the alleged libels—68 or 69—the former rent of the whole was £341; the new rent, £742. The lands of Carregeen were £95—they were increased to £205. Some tenancies were increased 500 per cent, and one 1,200 per cent at a single valuation. That was done on what Mr. Bridge and Mr. Buckley called the "live and let live principle.'' Shortly afterwards, Mr. Bridge issued to the tenants a circular, informing them that the increase was to date from the 25th March following. Now, that was an illegal proceeding, the earliest date at which the increase could legally be made being the month of November following. The 1538 following was a specimen of that illegal notice:—James Maguire, I beg to inform you that the rent of your farm on Carrigeen, now £3 8s., will be £10 5s. a-year from the 25th March next, of which you will be allowed half the county cess when paying the rent.And it was followed by this—Estate of Nathaniel Buckley.—The tenants are hereby noticed that it will be necessary for them to signify to the agent, during the month of November, whether they will submit to Mr. Walker's valuation, and enter into new arrangements with their landlord, &c.Mr. Bridge was asked—How many of those notices did you issue?—I suppose I posted a dozen or half-a-hundred of them. Will you swear that you did not send more of them?—Begad, it might be 200 for all I know.He (Mr. Gray) thought Mr. Bridge neither knew nor cared how many of them he issued. He would ask the House to listen to what Judge Barry, one of the most eminent Judges on the Bench, said with reference to these notices—But what was the course adopted upon this estate in the Galtees? The purchase is made in 1873; a stranger unknown to the tenants, of whose integrity or skill they know nothing, is brought down in July; he completes his valuation in November; and in January, 1874, printed notices are sent to the tenants, informing them that their rent is to be so-and-so—specifying the amount fixed by Mr. Walker—from the 25th March then next. I have professionally and judicially come in contact with many cases of controversy between landlord and tenant; I have seen and heard the usual charges and counter-charges of harshness on the one hand and dishonesty and unreasonableness on the other, sometimes proved and sometimes disproved; but such a demand by agent or landlord as that made by these notices under such circumstances never fell within my observation. The demand was wholly unenforceable in law, and, so far as I can see on the facts before us, indefensible as a matter of dealing between man and man. In point of law, the landlord could no more enforce the advanced rent from the 25th March than he could enforce its payment retrospectively for the antecedent 10 years, the tenants were entitled by law to hold at the old rent until the end of the year, and the service of these notices must therefore be regarded as an attempt, and so far as I can see, an unjustifiable attempt, to exact, through the terror of apprehended eviction, that increase on the coming half-year which he could not obtain by any legal process. It does not appear whether many of the tenants yielded to this demand; but in October another notice is posted. I shall not comment upon the pregnant significance of the word 'submit' in this document; but every tenant who did not submit was, so far as I can gather, served with 1539 notice to quit. It appears that about 100 notices to quit were served.Well, what could these poor ignorant tenants do but submit? Most of them did submit. They were powerless, in fact. It might be argued that the fact of their submitting to the increase showed that they were content; the fact was far otherwise. What was the result of the submission of the tenants to the great increase of the rents? They had to pawn even portions of their clothes in order to meet the demands made upon them, and they subsisted on the commonest food—yellow meal porridge, and even turnips. Even at the risk of wearying the House, he must ask them to listen to the testimony as to the condition of the tenantry since they submitted. He knew it would be stated that all the tenants had now submitted, and that the whole matter was settled, and that inquiry would only disturb the happy relations now subsisting between a beneficent landlord and a happy and contented tenantry. But he (Mr. Gray) contended that the tenants submitted under compulsion, and that the law should protect them, as it protected other helpless persons driven to make unreasonable concessions under compulsion. Listen to the evidence of Dennis Murphy—What rent is he asking from you?—£6 15s., double £3 7s. 6d.. … When this rent was doubled upon me I knew the result, and I pawned my body coat, a frieze coat, my Lord, in order to be up to the rent, and there it went from that day until this from me, in the year 1874, and I never saw it since. (Laughter.) You have never been able since to get your coat out of pawn?—No, sir; because when the terms fixed by the pawn-office was passed it was sold. Was it to pay the increased rent that you pawned your coat?—It was just as I told you; I am on my oath. Since you agreed to pay that increased rent have you yourself had sufficient food?—Upon my oath, I had nothing but Indian meal stirabout, and I would be very glad to subsist upon Swedish turnips, but it was never decreed by Almighty God a human creature should subsist on it. After eating a bellyful of it I would not be able to go 10 perches through weakness. Were you going to America yourself at the time?—No, nor I won't to-day. I would sooner die where I am to-day. If I had the courage of a man, it would be better for me; but now, when I am worn down, let me sink or swim; I have no chance now, while God leaves me the life.Darby Naish, of Skeheenarinka, said—I am 70 years of age. The old rent was 10s. When the Walker (laughter) went out and he saw a little field, I whispered him to lower my rent. 'Oh,' said he, 'that's out of the question, 1540 but it will only be a few shillings;' that is what the Walker said. (Laughter.) I got my memorandum then, £1 15s., at which I trembled. (Laughter.) My father made the field out of the mountains, and the Kingstons never asked a half-penny during generations. My father broke his heart reclaiming it, nothing but wild rocky stones. Sure I should agree with the £1 15s. sooner than throw me out or put me into the poor-house. I have throe boys, and my wife, and myself. Besides working at the land, I am a poor carpenter, making chairs and stools. My father built the house. Yellow meal and stirabout is my ordinary food. I don't know how much I owe. My wife died in the workhouse a year after I had been there. I live at Coolaganaure. £2 6s. a-year was the old rent; £4 6s. is the now rent. O'Loghlen, the bailiff, came to me at different times, and I went to Mr. Bridge by his orders. I offered him the land for something that would enable me to keep up my family for a little while after I came out of hospital, and he offered me nothing. I paid the new rent, for I had nowhere to go unless back to the workhouse. I had to borrow the money from the neighbours and to sell the only little cow I had for less than £10 to pay it.The rent of James Lynch was raised from £1 17s. 6d. to £3 7s., and he was asked—Is it a fact that Mr. Bridge decreed you for the costs of the lease and amount?—He did, sir. (Laughter.)He (Mr. Gray) saw no cause for laughter here, but the fact showed the condition of the tenantry. There was the testimony of the correspondent he had mentioned as to another of these tenants—At the other side of the borheen lives one of the 'settled' tenants, the most wretched I had met yet. This is the woman, Johanna Fitzgerald, whose husband has gone to England as a labourer to earn bread for her four children. Mrs. Fitzgerald had not been seen at the chapel that morning, but her bare feet and coarse petticoat made a pretty eloquent apology. The children, who played about the door, had clean faces and clean rags, and the earthen floor was newly swept. A mess of Indian meal was in the pot for dinner. The family, of course, slept in one room; and a man and wife, who are lodged in consideration of help on the farm, stretched by night on the floor inside the doorway. Except a few blue plates, the dresser was only stocked with marmalade pots, whose contents were never emptied on the Galtees. Mrs. Fitzgerald said she had not heard from her husband these five weeks, and a shilling was all the money she had in the world. Her rent was raised from £2 10s. 4d. to £4 4s. Her stock of potatoes was out this month past, 'except a handful of seed,' and from this to August yellow stirabout must be bought on credit. Her other tillage was half-an-acre of oats, which cost her £1 for seed, 7s. for labour, and 10s. for a cwt. of superphosphate—which she had not paid for yet. The whole crop was sold to James Fitzgerald, a neighbour, for £2, straw and all. Two 1541 geese and some hens made the total of her live stock. It was pitiful to see the open-mouthed surprise with which a woman, supposed to be the mistress of some 20 acres, gloated over the couple of pieces of small silver given to the children, the eagerness with which she pounced upon them, and the extravagant thanks with which she repaid them.And, with a quaint pathos which he thought might touch the heart of any man, her neighbour, Darby Mahoney, added—Sure, we would not mind if they let us alone; but we have no sort of spirit to root a stone or put on a bit of thatch owing to this man always promising to turn us out.This was the condition of the Widow Roche, another "settled" tenant—The family sleep in two straw beds in a suffocating little apartment, some 7 feet by 10, and the rain pours through the thatch within a few inches of the head of the bed in which a withered little old man, Mrs. Roche's father-in-law, lay for three months this year with swellings and pains in the bones. How a sanitary officer could permit a man ill of rheumatism to linger in such a den I cannot imagine. Yet Mrs. Roche states that her husband lay sick here for a year and a-half, and died of dropsy and rheumatic pains. Dr. Fenton, indeed, who visited him on a dispensary red ticket, advised him not to stay in a wet house but to go to the workhouse, where he would have nourishment. He did for a time go into Clogheen workhouse hospital, where he was told that if he had come six mouths earlier he would have been cured. He returned, however, to the cabin to die. So said Mrs. Roche, and she informed me that her rent had been raised from 18s. to £2 4s., and that her husband had accepted the terms from the commencement. 'Sure only the mercy of God I don't know where 'tis to come from.'We never will be able to pay it nor to pay what's due," said Mrs. Murphy. "We had 6lb. of pork yesterday for our Christmas dinner among 12. 'Twas the poorest Christmas day we ever had, striving to pay everybody his dues, and sure it's equal if we're there at all next Christmas.We would not keep it at all," said Mrs. Shaughnessy, "only about two years ago a boy of ours went out to New Zealand on the cheap emigration, with only 21s. in his pocket when he landed, and he was not landed two months when he sent us home £9, and he always told us never to give up the old place while there was a roof over it.This was what Phelan, another "settled" tenant, said—We must sell the little cow for meal, and after eating her out we must sell the other one. After that we have only to trust to Providence. Sure only for the confidence the people have in our honesty they would not trust us with a cow nor a sheep.And, having seen the little cows," adds the correspondent," which were more warmly housed in the outhouse than their Christian masters 1542 next door, I am disposed to think they will not long stave off the trust in Providence.Upon another night," says the correspondent, "I had an opportunity of seeing several other tenants whose holdings are seated amidst the stony heaths behind Phelan's. One of the houses struck me particularly by its neatness. It was that of Timothy Drislane; it was newly whitewashed for the holidays, scrupulously clean within, furnished with several handy, though cheap, little appliances that I had seen nowhere else, the children fairly dressed for peasant children, and the woman of the house clad with something like comfort. Drislane's rent was raised from £2 to £3 7s. 6d., and he accepted the increase from the beginning. Here, surely, was a case where the increase had brought no misery! But the explanation soon came. 'Ever since he paid it,' said this exceedingly quiet and respectable housewife, 'we have been falling deeper and deeper into debt every year. His means would not pay quarter of his debts this moment. We would not be able to live at all upon this unfortunate place only he goes out and earns himself here and there as a handyman, as you may see by his little jobs about the house.' And another tenant related how Phelan and himself would start at 1 o'clock in the night for Clogheen and sleep in a hayrick, to get a day's employment at harvest work, and would tramp it home the same night with a half-crown each in their pockets.We halted," says the correspondent," at the farmhouse of James Lynch—dingy and scantily thatched as usual—and held conference with his busy and active-minded wife. There was evergreen stuck over the dresser—the only Christmas emblem I have yet met upon the estate. A penny print of Father Tom Burke had an honoured place on the wall; the rain came down quite near his reverence's head. Now, Lynch's rent was raised from £1 18s. 6d. to £3 7s. 3d., and he has taken a 31 years' lease at the increased rent. 'What in the world ever possessed him to do such a thing?' cried his wife, who was very poorly dressed. 'And there he is now,' she added bitterly, 'with his 31 years' lease, and he owes him a year's rent already with the hanging gale—that will be two years' rent in March. We were finding ourselves getting into debt with the old rent, and only God is good I don't know in the world how we are going to manage. You know, yourself, doctor,' turning to my very reverend companion, 'I had often to put the children in off the road for fear they would be seen.'Patrick Creagh is another of those who took a 31 years' lease—'What was a man to do when every person was settling, and no way out of it but the poor-house?'—his rent having been raised from £2 19s. to £3 7s. 6d. He paid two guineas for the expense of the lease, and has three acres and a-half arable acres, which himself and his father have broken with crowbars, drained, manured, and fenced. The result is that he is already a year's rent in arrear, beside the hanging gale. £35 would not pay his debts, and 'if he was thinking till the day of his death' he could not tell where the money was to come from. Richard Condon had the same dismal tale, It was he 1543 who swore in the Court of Queen's Bench that in the famine times he sold to the Board of Works 500 loads of stones, taken off three-quarters of an acre of his reclamation.He would not test the patience of the House further than by reading the following from a letter from the respected parish priest of the district, the Very Rev. Dr. Delaney, D. D., which he (Mr. Gray) had received the previous day:—The tenants are here with me every day asking for food. I am here only three years, and during that time I have had such tales of misery and suffering, and seen such poverty as I thought existed only in the famine years. They were poor when your correspondent was here; they are poorer now. They were in debt then; they are hopelessly in debt now. It is true they have settled. They had no alternative but the workhouse; but those who have settled this year are convinced they never can pay the rent they have promised. Many of those who have accepted are already two years in arrear. Their troubles are only commencing. They will he evicted for non-payment of the rents which they cannot pay.These were the people of whom Mr. Bridge's counsel said—They were, he believed, as well off as their neighbours, and as for eating beef or mutton they would not like it, and he did not believe they would eat it if they had it to eat; they preferred the food of their fathers.But how if they had no food at all? Let the House contrast these facts with the following description given by the correspondent to whom he had alluded, for whose accuracy he repeated he could vouch, and whose statements had not been questioned of a neighbouring estate. It was attempted to be set up at the trial that this was a case of a Catholic tenantry at enmity with a Protestant landlord; but how far this was from the fact, let the following prove:—Mr. Buckley's property is confined to Barnahown East. Barnahown West, which is a continuation of the same mountainous ridge, naturally of the same obstinate barrenness, but nursed into a higher state of cultivation, forms part of the estate of the Rev. M. A Collis, D. D., Queenstown—a vigorous hater of Papacy, I am told, but none the less passionately praised as a landlord by his Papist tenantry. I had a curiosity to know whether they managed these things better in Barnahown West, and took good care that in learning I should not be at the mercy of any over-officious underling itching for favour with his lord. I had an opportunity of questioning three of the most independent tenants on the Collis property, and their statements tally too exactly to leave any shadow of suspicion of their truth. Here, then, is the substance of the statement of James Fitzgibbon—a man of very solid intelligence, who wore the nearest approach 1544 to a silk hat and a broadcloth cape which I have seen in these latitudes:—'If we till an acre of barren mountain,' he said, 'the Rev. Dr. Collis will either give the lime or whatever it may cost to the amount of 50 or 60 barrels per statute acre, and if the land is in want of drainage, he will make full compensation to the tenant for the cost of that also. The tenant has only to give in the tickets for the lime or the cost of the drainage or of fencing, and it will be allowed out of his half year's rent. Whenever timber is wanting to repair a house Dr. Collis gives it for nothing, and if ever a tenant is short in the rent through bad times I never knew it to make a difference. The estate has never been revalued for the last 17 years, since it passed into Dr. Collis's hands in the Landed Estates Court, and kinder or better landlord there never was.' The praises of the Rev. Dr. Collis and of his agent, Mr. Thomas Perrott, of Uplands, Fermoy, were chorussed even more warmly by my two other informants, Patrick Drislane and Jeremiah Kenealy. When the tenants on Barnahown West were, by accident or design, amerced with the police tax which fell upon the rest of the townland after the first attempt on Mr. Bridge's life, Dr. Collis exerted himself warmly and with success to secure the exemption of his tenantry. It is almost superfluous to add that he is repaid with gratitude and reverence by a punctual and improving tenantry.All honour was due to the Rev. Dr. Collis. If they had many landlords like him, they would have less of the Irish Land Question. He (Mr. Gray) had now placed the House in possession of the facts of this case. He had not given his own description of them, but had quoted evidence which was open to all. Such being the state of the tenants on the Galtee estate, the question was, whether he was right in bringing their case before Parliament? It might be said, in defence of Mr. Buckley, that it was a gross exaggeration to say that the rents had been raised 200, 500, 700, or 1,200 per cent, and that the average increase was not more than 20 or 25 per cent, which was moderate, seeing that there had been no re-valuation for many years; but this was a mere evasion. The complaint was not of the average increase, or of increases on the low-lying farms, which might bear a fair increase, but of those enormous increases on the mountain farms, which were simply ruinous. He hoped any hon. Member who wished to follow him would deal with the cases of those mountain tenants, and not go into mere generalities or averages, which were only misleading. The tenants themselves acknowledged that on some of the farms in the plains an 1545 increase might fairly be made. He (Mr. Gray) did not say that some increase on certain portions of the estate was not justifiable. The whole of his remarks were applicable to the mountain property, which was uninhabitable save from the ceaseless toil of these wretched tenants. And, with regard to Mr. Buckley's conduct, it was intolerable, insufferable, and calculated to bring them to absolute ruin. It might be said that they might go for protection to the Land Act; but the great flaw in that Act was, that it afforded protection to those who least required it, and no adequate protection to those who most required it. The sliding scale of compensation afforded no protection to the tenant who paid a few shillings a-year. The payment of seven years' rent to him, only meant keeping the recipient for a few weeks out of the workhouse. In the same way, the compensation for the reclamation of waste lands was a nullity, because there was a clause in the Act which provided that the time the land was held at a low rent was to be taken into account. But it was stated on the trial of Casey, by experienced farmers, that they would not take these lands at all. It might be asked why these tenants agreed to pay these increased rents, which only beggared and ruined them? But their case at that trial was likened to that of a shipwrecked crew on a rock, to whom a steam-tug came and demanded £2,000 for taking them off. They entered into an agreement to pay the money; but when that bargain was questioned in a Court of Equity, it was held to be an immoral contract which the law would not uphold. In like manner, these contracts by an English millionaire with these starving Irish cottiers was an immoral contract. But the law afforded them no remedy, and they came, therefore, and asked the House for help. He was not there to justify the outrages which had been committed against Mr. Bridge, but he firmly believed that the great body of the tenants had no part or hand in them. He did not ask that their case should be decided on an ex parte statement, but only that an inquiry should be made; and he was confident that if the facts were as he had stated, Englishmen, who extended their aid and sympathy to suffering Turks and 1546 Bulgarians, would not withhold it from their fellow-subjects in Ireland. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the statements as to the treatment and condition of the tenants on the estate known as the 'Galtee Estate,' in the counties of Cork and Tipperary, which were made in the evidence given during the second trial of John Sarsfield Casey in the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin,"—(Mr. Gray,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. A. MOORE
said, he wished to be allowed to make some observations on the case. He lived within some eight or ten miles of the scene of these troubles, had walked portions of the land, and had judged of the matter for himself. He did not rise to defend or palliate the awful crime of murder. He believed the men who fired at Mr. Bridge, and still more those who fired into a whole carful of people, killing the poor driver and wounding a policeman, were capable of any enormity. Still, the outrage could not justify Mr. Buckley's conduct; and the fact remained, that this district, which was peaceful and orderly before the time of Mr. Buckley's purchase, was now entirely demoralized from end to end. The landlord could not visit his property unless escorted by an armed force. The agent had a barrack at his door, and the police patrolled the country day and night—and this was the case amongst a people whose good conduct and peaceful disposition were recognized on all hands. He was of opinion that the lot of any ordinary labourer in the more favoured low lands was preferable to that of some of the small farmers, for their poverty could not be exceeded, whilst their industry was amazing. He entered one house a few weeks previously. He was told the mother had been reduced to a state of utter prostration by feeding on turnips. The children wore clothes sent them from Cork by a charitable lady. The land was five acres in extent, and they told him the rent had been raised 1547 from 18s. to £3 2s. 6d. In another house he found people living on Indian meal, and the bed—such a bed he never saw—some hay, with some tattered strips of what once had been bedclothes. The rent, he said, had been raised from £2 to £3 5s. He would not weary the House with further details, of which he had plenty at his disposal; and he would only say what he had said before, in and out of the House, that he believed this man to be an oppressor; that it was the duty of the House to stay his hand, or at least inquire into his actions. He believed it was not the agent, but the landlord, that should be held responsible. Some change was necessary in the Land Laws. He would wish to see arbitrary and capricious evictions restrained by law; and he hoped to see undue additions of rent made impossible by arbitrations, and the consequent abolition of notices to quit as an engine merely for raising rent. He thought some means ought to be established of arranging rent without necessarily determining the tenancy; and, finally, he should wish to see sufficient protection for the improvements of the tenant. English landlords were too apt to forget that in Ireland, as a rule, all building, fencing, and other improvements, were effected by the tenant at his own expense. This was the crucial point of difference between the land system of the two countries. These were some of the changes he wished to see, and some change, he was convinced, was necessary. Ho believed, moreover, that the longer the change was delayed the worse it would be for the landlords. Men like Buckley brought odium on an entire class, and prevented good landlords from getting a legitimate rise of rent. But there was another result which followed from oppression; it demoralized the people. First, they sympathized with crime; then, perhaps, they aided in shielding its perpetrators; and, finally, if not criminals themselves, they looked upon crime at least with indifference. This indifference, painful as it was to contemplate, was widespread, he feared, in the present instance. In conclusion, he hoped that the House would, by a very distinct Vote, mark its disapproval of the conduct of a man who, with an ample income from other sources, was attempting to grind an honest, industrious, and hardy race, 1548 trafficking in their honest sweat—he might almost say their heart's blood—and that he would be told that he might not trample on his Irish tenants any more than on Lancashire operatives.
§ MR. BARING
said, as far as any Englishman could understand an Irish question, he believed that he understood this; and, long before any speeches had been made in the House on the subject, he had felt that a case was in existence demanding such an examination as no body but a Committee of the House could give it. Therefore, he would only say, that if the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Gray) pressed his Motion to a division, he should certainly vote with him. But he thought it would be very wise of the Government not to oppose the appointment of this Committee. If they had read, as he had for some years past, the evidence produced in courts, in newspapers, and in pamphlets without contradiction, as to what was going on in this particular district, they must feel that this was one of those real Irish grievances which an English Parliament ought not to refuse to inquire into.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. GIBSON)
said, he had no intention or desire to discuss the details of the management of this property which had been brought under the notice of the House, or to consider the relationships of the particular tenants on the property to the landlord; nor was it his intention to discuss whether Mr. Buckley gave too much or too little for the property, or go at all into the question of the purchase money. He should like the House to consider what was exactly the motive and character of the inquiry into which they were gravely asked to enter through the agency of a Committee of the House. The House was asked by it to constitute a court of inquiry and appeal in the case of differences which had arisen between a landlord and his tenants. Let them consider the inconveniences which must ensue if their interposition was invited—as it might be if they acceded to the Motion—in every case where such differences arose. It was perfectly clear that this would tend materially to prolong and render more acrimonious controversies of this kind; nor, for his own part, could he see on what principle that House could base an inquiry into mat- 1549 ters of perfectly private dispute, which fell within the executive power of the Courts of Law. That consideration seemed to him conclusive against the Motion, even if this case was a new one, and if it had never been before the Courts of Law. But the truth was, that the dispute between Mr. Buckley and his tenants had taken place some time ago. They had been more than once the subject of proceedings in the Courts of Law, in which all the facts connected with them had been as fully ascertained as they could be by an inquiry before a Committee of that House. There was really little for a Committee to ascertain; nor, even if the disputes in question were still open, did he see what that House could do. If any wrong admitting of redress had been committed, it was to the Courts of Law, not to that House, that an appeal should be made. On principle, therefore, he objected to the Motion before the House. The short facts of this case were these. An English gentleman, named Buckley, whom he had never seen, but who, he believed, had formerly sat on the opposite side of the House, had purchased the Galtee estate, it was said, as a mercantile matter, with the view of making a profit out of it in the ordinary way of business. The property had been in the occupation of the same tenants for a considerable number of years, and the rent had not been raised for some 70 or 80 years. Mr. Buckley had employed a Mr. Bridge as his agent, and it was impossible not to admire the courage and the fortitude of that gentleman in the circumstances in which he had been placed. Mr. Bridge, acting under the instructions of his employer, had raised the rents through the instrumentality of a valuer; and, no doubt, a substantial increase had been made in them. Of the 500 tenants upon the estate, only some 40 or 50 had refused to come to terms with their landlord, and the whole dispute was in train for settlement, when, unfortunately, the tenants were told by those who knew more about their business than they themselves did, that they were being very badly dealt with, and were very hardly used, and the result was that an agitation was got up, and the process of settlement was put a stop to. Upon this followed the two grave attempts to assassinate Mr. Bridge, and the subsequent trial in the Court of Queen's 1550 Bench in Dublin. Matters were not now in the position in which they were a year and a half-year ago. No doubt, at that time, there was a considerable ill-feeling between Mr. Buckley and a portion of his tenants; but tranquillity now prevailed on the estate and in the neighbourhood, and it would be most inexpedient for the House to re-open the former disputes, and to rip open wounds which were in process of healing. If ever there was a time for inquiry, that time was now passed, seeing that no disputes any longer existed, but the rent had been in all cases settled by agreement between the parties. He had said, and he would adhere to the resolution, that he would not enter into the management of Mr. Buckley's estate, into the merits of the disputes between him and his tenants, or into the grievances which any of them might individually have to complain of. The hon. Member for Tipperary had drawn a graphic picture of the sufferings and hardships; but it was only fair to Mr. Buckley to say that much might be urged on the other side. He had before him a statement, from which it appeared that in many, at any rate, of these cases of alleged hardship the old rent was very low, so low, in fact, that there could hardly be a doubt that it might fairly be raised; and that, after the rent had been thus raised, the tenants were able to sell their tenant-right for larger sums, not to strangers, but to the other tenants on the estate. He would take three such cases. There was, for instance, the case of Richard Walsh, who occupied a farm of 27 acres at the old rent of 25s. a-year, and on whom a rise was put to the extent of £5 2s. Now, that did not strike him as being a very exaggerated rise; but, whether it was or not, Walsh succeeded in selling his farm to another tenant for £130. It was suggested that a man could not live on those farms; but, as a matter of fact, the purchase money for the farm of which he was speaking was supplied by another tenant farmer on the same property, who got it, he supposed, by his labour. Then there was another case of a farm of 82 acres, the whole rent of which—£5 12s. 6d.—had been raised to £6 12s. 8d., and which was sold for £250. The last case which he would mention was that of a man named O'Shaughnessy, the interest in 1551 whose farm of 55 acres, subjected to £7 4s. a-year rental, raised to £11 19s., was sold for £160. These facts, he thought, showed that the figures which had been quoted by the hon. Member for Tipperary did not present a true picture of the present condition of the Galtee estate. The tenants who appeared to give evidence before the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin appeared to be thoroughly shrewd and intelligent, and he was told that they were comfortably clad, and that their evidence went strongly to show that the majority of them were not reduced to that state of abject penury which had been suggested; but that they were able, by their own good conduct, to raise a considerable amount of stock, and when their daughters were married, or their sons went out into the world, to give them a little portion to assist them. But he would not enter into further detail on the subject. He ventured to say that no case had been made out for the application of such exceptional machinery as that proposed by the hon. Member for Tipperary to inquire into the estate of a private individual. Nothing could be gained by such an inquiry, and he therefore asked the House to reject the Motion, on the ground that it was inexpedient to interfere in the private disputes between landlords and tenants in Ireland, more especially when those disputes, after being ventilated in the Courts of Law, had now happily ceased to exist, in consequence of their having been terminated by an amicable arrangement between the parties.
congratulated the House upon the manner in which the subject had been introduced and discussed. The men who attempted to commit such atrocious crimes as that attempted against Mr. Bridge were the deadliest foes to justice, and those miscreants did all that their blind ignorance could do to prejudice a case which he thought must carry conviction to every impartial mind. The trial which had been held in Dublin only furnished a primâ facie case for such an inquiry as that which was now asked for. He considered his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary was perfectly justified in bringing this case to the attention of Parliament—the highest tribunal in the country—which could not only inquire into the causes of 1552 those atrocious outrages, but could also take measures to prevent their recurrence in the future. The Attorney General for Ireland had said that it would be a strange and in convenient thing if every Irish gentleman were exposed to a Parliamentary inquiry into the manner in which his estate was managed. But that was an argument which Parliament had repeatedly pushed aside. A notable precedent of the kind was furnished by an inquiry which Parliament, in 1858, granted—an inquiry into the condition of the tenants of Gweedore, in Donegal, and the outrages thence arising—an inquiry which involved, in the most direct manner, an investigation as to the manner in which the estates in that district were managed. It was well known that there were on the estate which formed the groundwork of the Motion tenants whose rents might without injustice be raised; but it was equally clear to anyone acquainted with the facts that there were on the property many tenants who had actually made the land which they cultivated by carrying soil from the low-lying lands to the mountain farms on which they lived. If there were false charges made against the landlord, an inquiry would bring the fact to light. If, on the other hand, the people were ground to the dust by oppression, the House was bound to act as the protector of the people. An impartial inquiry directed by the House of Commons would, he believed, do more to tranquillize the neighbourhood than would the presence of a battalion of soldiers, or any Coercion Act that might be passed. But how could the House expect to obtain the confidence of the Irish people if they declined to listen to grievances such as this, or to protect the people against oppression as bad as any which had been suffered by the Bulgarians?
admitted that it was impossible to read the evidence which had been produced before the Courts in Dublin without a feeling of pity and sorrow for the tenantry upon the Galtee estates, which had been purchased by a Lancashire gentleman as a purely commercial speculation. For his own part, he believed that a great deal of the agrarian crime which had recently taken place in Ireland was occasioned by the transfer of landed property in Ireland from the old proprietors to purchasers 1553 in the Landed Estates Court consequent upon the famine of 1846 and 1847. The old landlords might have been guilty of improvidence and extravagance; but they had never been guilty of harshness to their tenantry. There was no doubt the rise in the rents was sudden and enormous, and the tenantry were taken by surprise, no consideration being shown for the length of time they had occupied their farms; consequently, much discontent had been occasioned. The present Motion pointed, he thought, to a proceeding which would not attain the object the hon. Member for Tipperary had in view; and what he would suggest to the hon. Member was, that he should move that the evidence taken at the trial should be printed and laid upon the Table of the House. He should be sorry to regard the purchaser of the estate in question as a model specimen of an Irish landlord. In the first place, he was not an Irishman; and, in the next, he believed he had not long been a landed proprietor, or acquainted with the management of a landed estate, and perhaps he was surprised at the little return he got from his investment. On the other hand, he could not regard the tenants who were guilty of the outrage to which allusion had been made as being fair specimens of Irish tenants. He hoped the hon. Member for Tipperary would act upon the suggestion he had thrown out.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
wished to know whether the Government intended to object to this inquiry; and, if so, on what grounds? The House had a right to ask what the Government intended to do in regard to the proposal put forward by the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney). No one could deny that great injustice had been done to a portion of the Irish community, and that had resulted in the perpetration of certain outrages against other persons. He did not quite approve of the Motion. Considering the greatness of the case in hand, the Motion was too narrow. He thought his hon. Friend should say—"Here are facts brought to light by protracted inquiry in Dublin, which proved that Irish tenants are not sufficiently protected by law," and urge them to provide a remedy. The Galtee landlord was by no means a specimen of the average landlord in Ireland. If they had had the opportunity of going into 1554 the whole question, they might show that in almost every instance—certainly in the Southern and Western Provinces—where oppression had occurred, it was mainly attributable to the ambiguity of the law—the law itself being an agent of oppression. He hoped the Government would answer the question of the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney), and that his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Gray) would defend his Motion against the objections brought against it by the Attorney General for Ireland, or accept—if he were permitted the alternative—the proposal put forward and sustained by the hon. Member for the County Tyrone.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he was not about to contradict the statements of the hon. Member for Tipperary. He accepted them as true. He had heard them with attention, and they had made a deep impression on his mind; but the question was, what was the object of the inquiry? It appeared that the tenantry were struggling with adversity at the time Mr. Buckley took possession. The land was in a miserable condition, and the crops that were raised would not pay the cost of cultivation. It certainly appeared to be a harsh proceeding on the part of Mr. Buckley to raise the rents so suddenly as he had done; but, while he (Mr. Gregory) admitted the industry and energy of the tenantry, and sympathized with their misfortunes, he thought it would have been better for them if they had given up their tenements and become day-labourers, rather than hold on to those patches of soil which would never remunerate the labour expended upon them. No doubt the expenditure of capital might have improved their dwellings and drained their land; but they could not expect money to be laid out without the prospect of a remunerative return, and in this case there was no prospect of such return. Mr. Buckley was wrong in attempting to extort increased rents; and, before requiring them to be paid, ought to have incurred some outlay. But, admitting this, what was to be the object of inquiry, unless some alteration of the law was to follow upon the Report of the Committee? The law ought not to be altered because of what had happened in an individual and exceptional case, and he doubted whether by change in the law they could prevent cases of hardship 1555 and oppression. Such alteration would involve an extension of the Land Act, and it would become a question where they were to stop. Where oppression was determined upon it could be carried out under any law, and certainly Parliament ought not to legislate upon individual cases. The Motion would have had all the success which the Mover of it would have anticipated in securing the condemnation of Mr. Buckley, for not a word had been said in his defence. He appeared to have been an exceptional landlord, and what had been said of him in that House could not but have its influence in deterring others from acting in a similar manner. The discussion would have effected all that could be desired.
§ MR. O'CLERY
claimed for these poor tenants that protection, without which, such was their position, as shown by the hon. Member for Tipperary, in a short time they must be utterly ruined. It had been often said that in Ireland "Land is life;" and, undoubtedly, this was so in the case of these poor tenants on this mountain side. What alternative had they? The workhouse only; and, as had been heard, in many of these miserable homes sickness had entered; and, eviction hanging over their heads, before applications for admission to the workhouse were entertained, death would step in. It had been suggested that the subject might be brought before Parliament in the form of a Return; but it was well known that the fate of Returns and Blue Books was to be, after a delay of months, circulation silently among hon. Members, and then forgotten. What effect had the scores of Blue Books on the lives of the people in 1847–8?
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, it was quite certain the inquiry would not be granted. ["No, no!"] He heartily hoped it might. But, if not, the result would be a declaration to the Irish people that, under no circumstances, would the House of Commons institute an inquiry into the treatment of tenants on any particular estate in Ireland. He confessed he could not see, if an inquiry of the kind could ever be granted, how, in this instance, it could be refused. The Attorney General for Ireland, in his amiable speech, which passed dexterously over the doubtful points, praised the tenants for the frugality which enabled them to portion their daughters out of 1556 their scanty savings. But how were those savings effected? Simply, that during their life-time, and the lives of their fathers, they had never known the ordinary comforts and decencies of civilized life. There were thousands of poor people in Ireland who did not taste butcher's meat more than two or three times in a year, but who lived in a chronic state of starvation. A landlord had no right to raise rents so as to get an exorbitant interest for his money; and Mr. Buckley, by his conduct as a landowner, had reduced his tenantry to the condition of the fellaheen of Egypt—the most miserable peasantry in the world—who toiled for earnings which were instantly swallowed up in the payment of taxes. Such wrongs ought not to pass without notice in the House of Commons, especially when they were endured by the Christian population of our own country. It was unfortunate that the Government, in the interests of order and truth, would not grant an inquiry. In his opinion, an inquiry ought to be held for the information of the whole country, not only into the circumstances of the case before the House, but also into the case of Lord Leitrim's tenantry, lest the people, having all faith in the justice of their rulers, should allow the fever of Communism to infect this country as it had infected Germany. These were disagreeable truths; but these cases had no parallel in England, where the poorest labourer was better off than his fellow in Ireland. The possession of land was a luxury, and carried with it many responsibilities; and, while eviction and the increase of rents were lightly talked of, cases of hardship and misery occurred to which other countries were absolute strangers. He hoped that even at the last moment the Government would withdraw their opposition, and allow a Committee of Inquiry to be appointed.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
trusted that the Chief Secretary for Ireland would consent to some inquiry into that matter, even if the inquiry did not take the precise form in which it had been moved for. It had been admitted that the tenants on the Galtee estate had suffered great hardship, and if that case really illustrated, as was alleged, any defects in the Irish Land Act, surely they ought to know what the facts of the case really were? The appointment 1557 of a Parliamentary Commission to investigate the infraction of the Truck Acts had done a great deal of good; and if a similar inquiry were now instituted into these transactions, he believed it would tend to encourage the people of Ireland to confide in the justice of Parliament. He thought it would be well if the people of Ireland could understand that it was better to appeal to Parliament than to shoot at a landlord from behind a hedge.
said, he regretted this discussion, as he was going that evening to bring in a Bill which would materially affect the question before the House. They had heard that these unfortunate tenants had been ground down by a gentleman who had bought property in Ireland. His own opinion was that there ought to be some kind of arbitration adopted before a man could settle or raise the rents of his tenants in the way which had been described. No tenant in Ireland objected to pay a fair rent. There were, however, men who went to Ireland to buy estates, with the view of making some 10 per cent of their money. This was a case which ought to be investigated by a Committee of the House.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he had hoped that it would not have been necessary for him to have addressed the House on this subject, especially after the very convincing observations of the Attorney General for Ireland; but he thought it right to make one or two remarks in reply to statements which had been made by hon. Members opposite. The Motion certainly asked for an inquiry of a very novel character, it being one not into the general administration of the law, but into the affairs of one particular estate named by the hon. Member. A very gloomy picture had been drawn of the condition of the tenantry on that estate; but that picture, however accurate it might be, was not sufficient ground for appointing a Parliamentary Committee. The name of the gentleman, the owner of that estate, had been very freely mentioned in the course of this debate; and he confessed he felt in a somewhat peculiar position in being called upon, as the Representative of a Conservative Government, to defend a gentleman who never, on any single occasion, had voted in the same Lobby with him. He, however, 1558 merely asked for justice towards a gentleman with whom he had neither personal nor political relations; but he confessed that the state of the benches opposite—upon which the hon. Gentleman in question used to sit—as they appeared at the present moment, was a matter which caused him some surprise. The hon. Member for Tipperary had spoken of the condition of the tenantry, but all he could say was that, from the description he had given of them, he did not think that they would be desirable tenants, as they were evidently without the means to cultivate the land so as to make it produce the greatest amount of food. Turning, however, to the present Motion, he must remind the House that Mr. Buckley had had the advantage of the services of Mr. Bridge, whose ability, courage, and integrity, no one could doubt, and no just fault could be found with his management of the estate. In justice to Mr. Buckley, it should be remembered that he was a gentleman who had had no experience in the management of land; and even if all that had been said could be fully established, they ought to judge leniently of one who was suddenly placed in a position for which he had had no previous training. He hoped that the advocates of what was called Free Trade in land, and who urged the granting of facilities for the indiscriminate transfer of land from one person to another, would make a note of this case which showed that considerable prejudices existed against persons who were pitchforked into a position for which they were usually not particularly well qualified, and in which they laboured under serious disadvantages as compared with those who had been practically associated with the management of landed property throughout life. There was no analogy whatever between the general inquiry undertaken by the Truck Commission to which the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had referred, and that now proposed with reference to one estate. He should like to ask the House where all this was to end? If they began inquiring into the management of one estate, why should not they also inquire into the management of the others? Allusion had been made to the case of a Peer, whose decease was matter of recent general lamentation. Should there be inquiry there?
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he had been speaking of an estate which had been the scene of a great crime.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, then if every estate that had been talked about were to be the subject of an inquiry by that House, every workshop and mine would be equally a fair subject for Parliamentary inquiry; and under such a system his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works would have to make fresh arrangements for Committee rooms, and they would probably have to increase the number of Members of the House. He really would ask the House to pause before it plunged into inquiries like this now proposed, which would lead them into depths of which they could not estimate the extent. The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had put one point very concisely. Into what were they to inquire? Into matters now pending, into a controversy at present unsettled; or were they to re-open old disputes, and bring back discord where it was universally admitted that there now was peace? Hon. Members might find fault with the status quo, and think that matters were not as they would like them to be; but it could not be denied that a settlement had been arrived at on the Galtee estate, and that the tenants had acquiesced in the arrangement made. The hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) suggested that the facts should be laid before the House in a tangible form, by laying certain documents already in existence on the Table, as Parliamentary Papers. He would be very glad to communicate with the hon. Member as to the nature of such Papers, and to place all the facts in that way fully before hon. Members, if it was found practicable to do so. He trusted the House would not consent to this Motion.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
said, he had heard with some regret the tone which the right hon. Gentleman had taken in regard to this matter. He thought, of all persons, Mr. Buckley was the one most entitled to complain of it. Either he had used his position to oppress his tenants, as had been asserted in that House, and still more broadly asserted in the public Press, or he was a much maligned man. If he were in the place of his friend, Mr. Buckley, he should above all thing courts an inquiry into 1560 his conduct, in the full confidence that if the result would show that he had been unjustly accused of facts of which he was incapable. He was very well acquainted with Mr. Buckley; and when his right hon. Friend spoke about a defence of Mr. Buckley coming strangely from the Government Benches, because Mr. Buckley, when in that House, had sat upon the Opposition side, he would tell him that in such a case as this he could recognize no Party whatever; and that, on whichever side of the House he sat when a man's conduct was impugned, all he had to look at was whether the accusation was founded upon sufficiently broad and just grounds to justify an inquiry. He had seen and spoken to Mr. Buckley more than once on this matter. He had seen a list of those tenants who had had their rents raised, and he had found that not only had persons come forward to take the land at advanced rents, but they had been willing to pay a considerable sum to the out-going tenants for the good-will. That led him to suppose that if the inquiry were granted, Mr. Buckley and his agents would be able to show that they had been, if not fully, at any rate to a certain extent, justified in the course they had taken. In any event, if there were such facts, they ought to be known before Mr. Buckley was condemned in the manner in which he had been condemned. What would be the result of refusing the inquiry? Two hon. Gentlemen had spoken from the other side, and had announced their intention of voting against this inquiry; but neither of them said a word for Mr. Buckley. The hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) said, no consideration whatever had been shown to these tenants, and the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) said that the result of the debate had been entirely to condemn the conduct of Mr. Buckley. What he asked was, how, after such statements as those, the House could refuse an inquiry which might show Mr. Buckley to be blameless in the matter? With regard to the suggestion that certain Blue Books should be laid on the Table, nothing would be easier than to have that evidence referred to the Committee appointed, which would give it something to deal with, but merely to lay it on the Table of the House would be useless. His right 1561 hon. Friend asked where these inquiries into the management of estates, if they once began, were to end? Well, it would be a different thing if these were general complaints; but there was a Land Act with which the Government were not satisfied, and in which they believed there were faults. [Mr. J. LOWTHER: I never said so.] He was in the memory of the House, and his right hon. Friend certainly indulged, on a former occasion, in expressions concerning the Land Act which must have led the House to think he did not Consider it satisfactory; and he emphatically declared that the present Government were not responsible for it. In the interests, then, of his right hon. Friend, he supported this inquiry, in order that it might be seen whether the faults which he supposed to exist in the Land Act were really there. There was, in the present case, a specific charge that in consequence of the Land Act, certain evils had taken place; but instead of having a specific inquiry which would show whether the charges made were correct, the right hon. Gentleman said—"Oh, no, let us have a general, or none at all;" so that he would rather they should lose themselves in generalities than deal with a specific charge. With regard to this complaint, he cherished a hope that Mr. Buckley might not turn out to be the sinner he was represented; but, certainly, when charges like these were brought, nothing was more likely to make the public believe him to be guilty than to shuffle off an inquiry in this manner. In the interests of justice, then, he regretted that the Government should refuse an inquiry, and had not accepted the Select Committee in the way in which it ought to have been accepted. He thought the subject should be fairly and thoroughly inquired into, and that nothing but good would come of it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 74; Noes 50: Majority 24.—(Div. List, No. 172.)