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testants of Ireland, would also combine them in opposition to it. These would soon open the eyes of dreaming statesmen, and show them that an essential injustice cannot be rectified by multiplying instances of its occurrence.
There must be no ambiguity about the position which Free Churches, and liberal statesmen occupy in relation to establishments. We in England have long been fighting this battle. We have affirmed the religious wrong, the social injustice, and the practical impolicy of Established Churches, when the established Episcopal Church in England was almost as preponderant as the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland now is. Bit by bit we have won the equality that we claimed ; in no instance by co-endowment of ourselves, but in every instance by disendowment of the church invidiously favoured. The progress of events has practically justified us. Conviction of the justice of our principles has been gradually wrought in the public mind. The failure of the established and protected church to maintain her national character, and her integral unity; the alienation from her communion of half the religious part of the nation; the distractions and divisions into hostile parties of her own members ; together with the marvellous growth and power of the Free Churches of the united kingdom, notwithstanding their disabilities, have conclusively proved the civil establishment of a church to be a blunder as well as wrong. With all our desire therefore that the injustice done to the Roman Catholics of Ireland should be redressed, we cannot consent to a principle and process of doing it, which we have uniformly repudiated for ourselves. We must insist that it shall be done upon the principles, which in our own case have hitherto proved so successful. The only possible justice to all, the only policy that will ultimately and permanently give satisfaction to all, is to remove iniquitous prerogatives, to discontinue invidious partialities, to place every citizen, irrespective of his church or religious creed upon an absolute equality before the law. Let this be done in Ireland, and the Roman Catholics who now avow this to be their wish, will be content. With the history of the church in past times, with the example of America, and with the present condition of the Free Churches of the kingdom before us, we can have no reasonable fear, that left to itself, the church of Christ will abundantly take care of itself.
The suppression, however, of the Irish State Church, in its present form of exclusive domination, would be only one of the measures required to mitigate the discontent of Ireland. We have alluded to the unquestionable fact than in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, the legal relations existing between the owners and occupiers of the soil are not softened by the
Reform of the Landed System.
29 kindly usages that prevail generally in Ulster and in England. In these three provinces the land is held for the most part by tenants-at-will, still often divided from their landlords by ancient memories of past wrongs, and too often completely in their power in consequence of the competition for farms. The harsh rules of the common law, unmodified by any of the milder customs which by degrees have grown up elsewhere, determine usually the dealings between these classes ; and at the same time, the demand for land forces up its rent to so high a point that the tenant's bargain is frequently an unfair one. In the case of contracts between landlords and tenants of capital and position these evils are, of course, seldom felt; but in the case of the great majority of the tenancies in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, the occupier is unable, practically, to treat with the landlord on equal terms ; poor, weak, and attached as it were to the soil, he is willing to offer any sum for it; and in this state of things the severity of the law, the absence of the customs we have referred to, and the rack-rents which commonly demanded, are repeatedly the cause of widespread hardship. The condition of the landed system of Ireland, in three out of its four divisions, although undoubtedly better than it was, still bears too many of the evil traces of Mr. Mill's remarkable description. The land even yet, to a great extent, is in the hands of small farmers, completely at the will of their landlords, who offer extravagant sums for it, and accordingly are ever on the verge of insolvency. Any improvements they make only cause the rent to be raised upon a new letting; and whenever a season of distress comes wholesale evictions are the necessary consequence. Hence discontent, and the feelings of wrong, a very backward state of agriculture, a disquieted and dissatisfied peasantry, and sometimes the sudden depopulation of districts most sad to reflect on and fearful to witness. Even now, as regards a large part of Ireland, there is too much truth in Mr. Mills remark, that it is hardly possible that a system of this kind should be other than a miserable agriculture.'
The legislature, as we have already intimated, has attempted to cope with this state of things by encouraging the transfer of the soil from the small farmer to the large agriculturist. It hoped that the change would either cause the former to emigrate to America, or would make him a contented labourer, and that it would create a class of occupiers who would be able to protect themselves in any dealings with respect to land, and so settle the Irish land question. It has been successful to a certain extent; the agriculture of Ireland has improved ; considerable tracts have been consolidated, and have fallen into the hands of solvent tenants; and in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, the landed system is on a better foundation than it ever was at a previous period. Still, the image of the old state of things remains too widely impressed on the soil in cottier tenancies, serf-like occupiers, exorbitant rents, a poor peasantry, an unkindly state of feeling existing between the owners and occupiers of land, in some instances evidenced in crime, a want of hope, a distrust of the law, occasionally serious acts of injustice, and sometimes the clearance of districts in the supposed interests of merciless landlords. The process of consolidation, too, is going on but slowly of late, and the progress of Ireland, although rapid in the first years that succeeded the famine, has been latterly very small, and since 1860 has been arrested. The legislature, therefore, we think, should attempt to make a change in the relations between the owners and occupiers of the soil in three of the four parts of Ireland, in the interest of the smaller agriculturists, and thus not only benefit husbandry, but promote justice, and close a source of deep complaint among the peasantry. Such notions as 'a forced valuation of the land,'' a maximum of rent,' and 'fixity of tenure,' we reject at once as measures of confiscation which never would be heeded in Parliament. But we see no reason why the usages with respect to the good-will of land, and the value of improvements made upon it, which practically give the agricultural tenant in England and in the North of Ireland a considerable property in the soil, even though his tenure be merely at will, should not be introduced into Ireland, the common law being superseded by a general statute instead of a custom. A change of this kind, in our judgment, would be no invasion of property; it would place the landed system of Ireland on the same footing in the four provinces; it would bind the peasantry more firmly to the soil, and give them at last an interest in it; it would contribute certainly to quiet discontent and promote good-will, as it would do justice; and we have no doubt it would improve agriculture, and put an end to a great deal of ill-feeling. We own that we see no reason why such a measure should be rejected by Parliament.
The two measures we have briefly indicated, the extinction of the revenues of the Establishment, and a change in the Irish landed system for the benefit of the small agriculturists, would, in our opinion, go a long way to remove gradually the Irish difficulty. They would, as we believe, do justice, would redress legitimate causes of discontent, would bring the law and the constitution in a greater degree in harmony with the people, and, we have no doubt, would tend to develope the happiness and the wealth of the island. Some other measures, of a like kind, we hope, might be ere long accomplished ; thus we think that Trinity College, Dublin, ought to be made a
really national university, instead of being what it now is, a stronghold of sectarian ascendancy, so that the higher education of Ireland should be open equally to all communions. The proposed compromise, the affiliation of the Catholic University to the Queen's Colleges, is an imperfect and unsatisfactory change, though we are ready to believe that at this juncture, no more would be conceded by Parliament. As regards the fiscal arrangements of Ireland, we agree fully with those Irish reformers who insist that England in the last century did great fiscal injustice to Ireland, and that this has been one cause of her backwardness; but we concur with Mr. Gladstone's conclusion that the fact is not a legitimate ground for relieving Ireland from existing taxation, that her taxation is not really unjust, and that it would be impolitic in her own interests, to seek for any special examption. Such a claim would degrade her in the face of the Empire, would make her appear a suppliant dependency, to be dealt with with an insolent tenderness, and might disentitle her to that political equality with Great Britain which she ought to aspire to. Ireland, nevertheless, may have good grounds for obtaining more of the State expenditure, than has been allotted to her of late; and we feel convinced that a certain outlay on the part of the State in some public works, especially in arterial drainage, would be not only just to Ireland, but of real and lasting benefit to the nation. We trust too that, ere many years, the whole provincial government of Ireland will be merged in the administration of Great Britain ; and that in return the Royal family will repeatedly visit their Irish subjects. This change in our judgment would be important in winning the Irish people to loyalty, through the magic of the sovereign's presence, the influence of which on the Celtic nature it is not easy to overestimate.
That the policy we have endeavoured to indicate would at once redress all the evils of Ireland, we do not for a moment anticipate. For years, probably, in any case, Ireland will be a cause of anxiety to those thoughtful statesmen who appreciate the wants and the interests of these kingdoms, and who wish to see the different nations, that form the community of Great Britain, combined in a happy and united people in spite of distinctions of race and history. But we feel assured that the measures we have advocated will tend towards that noble consummation, will gradually pacify and enrich Ireland, will mitigate the angry passions which consume her, and diffuse contentment throughout her borders. To attain such objects, we would appeal to the interests and the feelings of all who have the welfare of the Empire at heart, and who really love
the British constitution. Is Ireland for ever to remain the peccant part of our illustrious England, her reproach in the mouths of those who envy her, her weak point in the eyes of her enemies ? Are we always to hear in the councils of Europe, that Ireland is the British Poland, and that, in the event of an attack on our shores, the mass of Irishmen would welcome the invaders ? Nay, is it to be said that constitutional government has been more than a failure in Ireland, that it has disregarded her essential interests, oppressed her by a Parliamentary majority, ignored her demands, and denied her justice? Is history to record that Imperialism fused France into a concordant mass of equal and patriotic citizens, that it healed the strife of Catholic and Huguenot, and staunched the wounds of a war of classes, and that the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain could not make the people of Ireland contented, or remove the effects of past dissensions? We hope, in the interest of our country and her fame, that such questions will receive in the future the answer which every good man must hope ; and that they shall do so, we think will depend on this, whether our conduct to Ireland shall be, in its general principles, at least, such as we have endeavoured to indicate.
ART. II.-(1.) The Ogilvies. London: Chapman and Hall. 1849.
(2.) Olive. Chapman and Hall. 1850.
It is in general the duty of a critic to respect absolutely the incognito of a writer, but the Author of John Halifax' is so well known as the lady who was Miss Mulock, and is Mrs. Craik, that we commit no breach of confidence, and cannot be considered impertinent in speaking openly of her.
She takes the title of Author of John Halifax,' so it seems, rather to identify her with that particular book than as a veil behind which she may conceal her own personality. It is the work which she offers, and which the public is willing to receive, as representative both of her style and character.