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been a failure, why should the new graft be expected to flourish any better? This is practically what the Irish representatives demand; granted. It is practically what the Irish people themselves say that they want; granted again. Have we come to the pass that the wishes or demands of a people are the only test of what is good for them? At least, the present Tories cannot say so.

There is no evidence that a peasant proprietary is more feasible for Ireland than the landlord system itself. It may be that the landlord system, under different landlords, is far better adapted to the needs of the Irish people than a peasant proprietary will be. This is one of the questions which are absolutely unanswerable, and yet which governments persist in trying to ignore, as though they were already answered, or as though they needed no answer. The lesson to be learned from the failure of the English system in Ireland is, not that it is necessarily a bad system where it has grown up spontaneously, but that any system is a bad system which has not grown up spontaneously. It is absurd and monstrous to suppose that the wit of one man, or of a House of Commons, can be made to take the place of the experience of generations.

We all know how landlordism has worked in Ireland; but, by way of contrast, we may notice how it works, according to a competent observer, in Italy. For this purpose, I will give this long extract from T. A. Trollope's recent memoir, "What I remember":

"As far as I can remember, no papers or documents of any sort passed between me and the contadino (peasant) whom I found on the land. It all seemed to pass as much as a matter of course as if I had bought him and his family with the farm. The terms of his holding were that he was to give me half of the net produce of the land. These were, and I suppose are, the terms universally prevalent around Florence, and very generally, but not entirely, throughout Tuscany. There are poor lands in the hill districts where the contadino engages to give the landlord only a third of the produce of the land, and I believe a few of the larger estates in the remote parts of Tuscany, where the land is leased for a money rent. But the mezzaria, as the half


and-half system is called, is universal in the neighborhood of Florence. And it is a most happy and favorable system for the tillers of the soil, and indeed for the owners of it also, although it may well be that the latter for many generations, from father son, have never got from their property all that it might have produced to them if rack-rented. It is essentially a patriarchal and easy-going system; not perhaps calculated to promote a rapid rate of advance in agricultural improvement, but eminently well calculated to produce a happy, prosperous, and contented peasantry, and to generate pleasant and kindly relations between landlord and tenant.

"Of course, the land-owner did not get absolutely the half of the net produce of the land. There was a vast amount of easy-going give and take between the parties, and very naturally the net result of this had a tendency to be in favor of the tenant. . . . When the grapes were ripe, I, and any of those at the villa, would stroll among the vines and pick and eat our fill of grapes, though of course every second grape was in strictness the property of the contadino.

"On the other hand, the farmyard around the casa colonica was always alive with numerous broods of chickens and turkeys; but it would have been thought very sharp practice on the part of the landlord if he inquired too narrowly into the question, whether this produce of the farm had been duly brought to account, and the half handed to him. At Christmas and Easter the peasant's wife would probably bring some poultry as a free-will offering to the villa kitchen, and more frequently, probably, a basket of eggs. If the year was a bad one, it was perfectly well understood that the money brought by the contadino would be diminished by somewhat more than the accurate half of the falling off in produce, because it was universally accepted that the first claim on the produce of the land was to feed the peasant. It was rarely indeed that his share, fairly calculated, failed to do this abundantly; but if it did, why, of course, he must live.

"If the lot and position in life of these Tuscan husbandmen be compared with the tillers of English soil, the difference between the two will not be found to be wholly to the advantage of the Englishman. It must be borne in mind that the Tuscan contadino must not be compared with the farmer, who employs hired labor, and whose work is mainly of the nature of superintending. The Tuscan peasant and his family do all the work that has to be done with their own hands, and should rather, as regards social position, be compared with the better class of farm laborers. But they live far better that the latter are in England able to do, both as regards food and, in a still greater degree, lodging. . . .

"... None of the regulations which usually bind the English tenant farmer, as regards the methods of cultivation adopted by him, seem to be necessary in the case of the Tuscan under the mezzaria system. It is perfectly certain that he will cultivate the land precisely as his father cultivated it. The rules he will follow may for the most part be found in the ' Georgics.' It is not a very progressive system, but it produces a very fine race of men, most re

markably different from the citizen race, who live on the other side of the town wall; and it produces much good-will between peasant and land-owner."

Into a state of things similar to this, almost idyllic compared to that of Ireland, at present, we must imagine the English to have intruded when they pushed across the channel, carrying their eighth perfection. They did not find what they or we should call a peasant proprietary in Ireland. Far from that. They found a state of things which may easily be so described as to make it appear very much worse than the pretended system which they introduced. But like so many bul's in china shops, they intruded into the agricultural (or rather pas toral) system of Ireland. This is not simply a question of conquest. A people might be held in military subjection, without having their industrial relations "reformed " into utter chaos. Imagine a thrifty English farmer put in possession of a Tuscan estate, with a dozen peasant tenants ready to lease from him on half and half, but with no intention in the world, or even conception, of having their chickens and turkeys counted! Will they be appeased by finding that the proprietor keeps count, and makes allowance for the grapes he eats? What would reconcile them to having the shortage of a lean year carried over with interest to the fat year-a procedure quite in accordance with English ideas, but fatally repugnant to Tuscan habits? Were there any evictions in Ireland under Brehon customs customs repugnant though they be to us? It is entirely within the range of possibilities that the Irish people might have found an entirely new solution of the land problem, if they had been left unimpeded by the English. It is quite conceivable that occupying ownerships might have sprung up among them, and that to-day every man might be his own landlord in a much more vigorous sense than in Mr. Balfour's plan. On the other hand, relations might have grown up, forming a system of tenancy far more easy in practice, because

congruous with the habits and feelings of the people, than simple in theory. There are no hard-and-fast lines to which industrial relations must conform in order to conduce to the happiness of a people. The range of variation is too wide. Relations which are relatively good for one people may be intolerably burdensome for another. It may be that neither the English landlord system, nor the present proprietary system, nor the Tuscan system, is quite adapted to the needs of the Irish. Who can tell what system will conduce to their happiness? The supposition that any one can tell, is untenable for a moment; the supposition of the House of Commons, that they can tell, is an arrogant presumption. And it would be equally presumptuous for an Irish Parliament to undertake to define and carry out a system of land tenure.

Of what avail, then, are the statements of Prof. Huxley, even if they are true as far as they go, that the Brehon laws were worse than English laws? He says:—

"Hence, the chief gradually acquired the characteristics of what naturalists have called synthetic' and 'prophetic' types, combining the features of the modern gombeen man with those of the modern rackrenting landlord, who is commonly supposed to be a purely Norman or Saxon product, saturated with the very spirit of industrialism, namely, the determination to get the highest price for an article which is to be had. As a fact, the condition of the native Irish, under their own chiefs, was as bad in Queen Elizabeth's time as it has ever been since." Evidently, if these statements are intended to imply that Ireland has profited by English rule, no implication could be less warranted. However much worse, according to our ideas, the Brehon system may have been better adapted to the Irish habits; and out of its ruins there might, there probably would, have arisen a system far more conducive to happiness.



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