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land system of the country as the trades-union outrages in England were the offspring of the unequal and unjust legis lation that gave all the power to the master and lent no protection to the workman. All the while five out of every six English writers and political speakers were discoursing gravely on the incurable idleness and lawlessness of the Celtic race and the Irish peasant. The law gave the Irish tenant no security for the fruit his labor, and Englishmen wondered that he was not laborious. The law told him that when he had sown he should not be entitled to reap, and Englishmen were angry that he would not persist in sowing. Imperial legislation showed itself its steadfast enemy, and Englishmen' marvelled at his want of respect for the law.
In one province of Ireland indeed a better condition of things existed. Over the greater part of Ulster the tenantright system prevailed. This system was a custom merely, but it had gradually come to acquire something like the force of law. The principle of tenant-right was that a man should be allowed to remain in undisturbed possession of his holding as long as he paid his rent; that he should be entitled, on giving up the land, to compensation for unexhausted improvements, and that he should be at liberty to sell the “good-will" of his farm for what it would fetch in the market. The tenant was free to do what a man who has a long lease of any holding may do; he might sell to any bidder of whom his landlord approved the right to enter on the occupancy of the place. Wherever this tenant-right principle prevailed there was industry, there was prosperity; where it did not prevail was the domain of poverty, idleness, discontent, and crime. The one demand of the Irish agri. cultural population everywhere was for some form of fixity of tenure. Let it be sought by legalizing the Ulster custom everywhere, or by declaring that men should hold their land as long as they paid a fair rent, to be fixed by authorized and impartial valuation, or by some plan of establishing a
peasant proprietary-let the demand be made as it would there was substantially one demand and one only-security of tenure. The demand was neglected or refused by generations of English statesmen, chiefly because no statesman would take the trouble to distinguish between words and things; between shadowy, pedantic theories and clear, substantial facts. “ Tenant-right," said Lord Palmerston, amid the cheers of an assembly mainly composed of landlords, “ is landlords' wrong." Lord Palmerston forgot that the landlord, like every one else in the commonwealth, holds even his dearest rights of property subject to the condition that his assertion of them is not inconsistent with the general weal. The landlord holds his land as the shipowner holds his ship and the railway company its lines of rail , subject to the right of the state to see that the duties of possession are properly fulfilled, and that the ownership is not allowed to become a public danger and a nuisance. Land is, from its very nature, from the fact that it cannot be increased in extent, and that the possession by one man is the exclusion of another-land is the form of property over which the state would most naturally be expected to reserve a right of ultimate control. Yet English statesmen for generations complacently asserted the impossibility of any legislative interference with the right of the factory-owner, the owner of mines, the possessor of railway shares, the shopkeeper : the right of the master over his apprentice, the mistress in the hire of her maid-of-all-work. Long years before Lord Palmerston talked so decisively of the landlord's right, a man of far more truly conservative mind than Lord Palmerston had defined in a few sentences the limits of private or corporate rights. In his speech on Fox's East India mea. sure Burke frankly met this difficulty about individual and corporate rights. He was speaking for the moment especially of chartered corporations; but of course a single owner of property can claim no greater right than a company of
property.owners. “It has been said, if you violate this charter, what security has the charter of the bank, in which public credit is so deeply concerned, and even the charter of London, in which the rights of so many subjects are involved? I answer: In the like case they have no security at all; no, no security at all. If the bank should, by every species of mismanagement, fall into a state similar to that of the East India Company, it it should be oppressed with demands it could not answer, engagements which it could not perfom, and with bills for which it could not procure payment, no charter should protect such mismanagement from correction and such public grievances from redress. If the City of London had the means and will of destroying an empire, and of cruelly oppressing and tyrannizing over millions of men as good as themselves, the charter of the City of London would prove no sanction to such tyranny and such oppression. Charters are kept when their purposes are maintained ; they are violated when the privilege is supported against its end and its object.” It ever there was a creature of law and of authority acting in the place of law, it was the landlordism of Ireland. It was a plantation made by the orders of English sovereigns and governments. It was not a growth of the soil ; it was strictly an exotic. It was imposed upon the country and the people. It could not plead in support of any of its alleged rights even that prescriptive title waich grows up with the growth of an institution that has held its place during all the ages to which tradition or memory goes back. The landlordism of Ireland was, compared with most European institutions, a thing of the day before yesterday. It was the creation of conquest, the impost of confiscation. It could plead no title whatever to maintain an unlimited right of action in opposition to the welfare of the people on whom it was forced. At last it could claim no such title when once the time had passed away which insisted that the right of
conquest superseded all other human rights, that the tenant, like the slave, had no rights which his master was bound to respect, and that the common weal meant simply the interests and the privileges of the rulling class. The moment the title of the Irish land system came to be fairly examined, it was seen to be full of flaws. It was dependent on conditions that had never been fulfilled. It had not even made the landlord class prosperous. It had not even succeeded, as no doubt some of its founders intended that it should succeed, in colonizing the island with English and Scotch settlers. When the famine of 1846 and 1847 had tried the whole system with its gaunt, stern hand, legislation had per. . forced to interfere with the fancied rights of landlordism, and invent a new juuical machinery for taking from the brokendown owner what he could keep no longer with profit to himself or the country. For generations the land tenure system of Ireland had been the subject of parliamentary debate and parliamentary inquiry. The Devon commission had made ample investigation of its principles and its operation. Mr. Sharman Crawford had in vain devoted an honest life to the advocacy of tenant-right. Mr. Cardwell, Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Lord Naas had introduced measures trying more or less feebly to deal with Irish land tenure, Nothing came of all this. The supposed right of the landlord stopped the way. The one simple demand of the occasion was, as we have shown, security of tenure, and it was an article of faith with English statesmanship until Mr. Gladstone's time that security for the tenant was confisca. tion for the landlord.
Mr. Gladstone came into power full of genuine reforming energy and without the slightest faith in the economic wisdom of our ancestors. In a speech delivered by him during his electioneering campaign in Lancashire, he had declared that the Irish upastree had three great branches: the State Church, the Land Tenure System, and the system of Educa.
tion, and that he meant to hew them all down if he could. His figure of speech met with a good deal of contemptuous literary criticism; but it expressed a very resolute purpose. On February 15th, 1870, Mr. Gladstone introduced his Irish Land Bill into the House of Commons. The measure was one of far greater importance as regarded its principles than it proved to be in its practical operation. In plain words, what it did was to recognize the fact that the whole system of land tenure in Ireland, so far as it was the creature of law, was based upon a wrong principle. Mr. Gladstone's measure overthrew once for all the doctrine of the landlord's absolute and unlimited right. It recognized a certain pro. perty or partnership of the tenant in the land which he tilled. Mr. Gladstone took the Ulster tenant-right as he found it, and made it a legal institution. In places where the Ulster practice, or something analogous to it, did not exist, he threw upon the landlord the burden of proof as regarded the right of eviction. The tenant disturbed in the possession of his land could claim compensation for improvements, and the bill reversed the existing assumption of the law by presuming all improvements to be the property of the tenant, and leaving it to the landlord, if he could, to prove the contrary. The bill established a special judicial machinery for carrying out its provisions. It allowed the tribunals thus instituted to take into consideration not mere ly the strict legal conditions of each case, but also any circumstances that might affect the claim of the tenant as a matter of equity. Mr. Gladstone's great object was to bring about a state of things by virtue of which a tenant should not be dispossessed of his holding so long as he continued to pay his rent, and should in any case be entitled to full compensation for any substantial improvements which his energy or his capital might have effected. The bill met on the whole with a cordial reception from the Irish members of Parliament, although some of its clauses were regarded