The Ashburton Guardian. MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1880. The Irish Cloud.
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There is now a cloud overhanging Ireland which is warlike in its portent, and as the days creep on and the cloud
developes, it becomes deeper and darker and evermore threatening. “ More troops for Ireland ” is an ominous headline of daily recurrence, and appears to be the preliminary of an iron treatment of the unfortunate country’s disorders. Ireland is far away from these shores, and there are some perhaps who may think her affairs can but lightly influence ours. But she has many sons in this colony—thousands of them—who have sought our shores as a refuge from the same grievances that are now stirring up their countrymen to agitation, and to a threatened defiance of the Government that rules them. Let us try briefly to review those grievances, and what has led to the
tumults that now distract once more the unhappy country and brought a Liberal Government face to face with the burning Irish question. The chief of those grievances may perhaps suffice, as it is the one that has more directly led to the trouble, and that chief grievance is the one of land. The difference between land tenure in Ireland and land tenure in England and Scotland is of so marked a nature that, when it is thoroughly understood, lie would be a a man with a very sodden soul indeed who would condemn the Irish farmer for writhing under its operation. In England and Scotland, before a landlord offers a farm for letting, he finds it necessary to provide a suitable farmhouse. braidings, &c., for the proper working of the farm. He puts the ga ! es and fences into good order, and he takes upon himself a great part of the burden of keeping the buildings in repair during the term of the lease, and the rent is fixed with all this in view. Special contracts departing from the above arrangement are sometimes made, to be sure, but these are exceptional, and we think we have fairly described the English and Scotch rule. Wholly different is the rule in Ireland. The general practice is that the Irish landlord builds neither dwelling-house nor farm offices, and does nothing in the way of fencing before he lets his land to a tenant. All this has to be done by the tenant himself, except in exceptional cases, and he also has to include in his improvements, all such things as drainage, deep trenching, and manuring. Without those buildings, fences, &c., on a farm no English or Scotch tenant could be found to take a lease, and to them the Irish system is simply inconceiveable. There is difficulty in generally applying the English and Scotch usage to Irish farms, which are generally let in small holdings of a few acres, and there are other reasons as well. But it is just upon those small holdings that the farmer feels all the more the grip of adversity. So long as he has a good harvest, and is getting an average return from the soil he cultivates, he is moderately content. Such capital as he had he invested in a cabin, and in such “ improvements ” as he could afford, and from his crop he pays the rent, and lives. Previous to 187 S the tenants had been improving in regard to the remuneration they were receiving from their holdings, but that year brought with it failure of crops, and its successor brought famine. The land yielded no surplus, out of which either rent or debt could be paid. They were left (as many readers of the Irish famine accounts will doubtless remember) literally without a penny. No money in their houses, nobody owing them anything—nothing coming to them ; while the year’s rents, and perhaps arrears, were due, with an account of more or less magnitude at the village store. All that is left to the poor man is the cabin he has erected on his small holding, the sheds he has put up for live stock, a few fences, and some needful drains and ditches. These are the results of the toil of the best part of his life. It is just here that the nature of the land tenure operates so cruelly upon the tenant, and threatens to plunge the country into rebellion. It is just here that we find the origin of the agrarian murders and other outrages that render Irish resident landlordism such a hazardous thing. AVhen the poor tenant is thus reduced to his last extremity, what happens? Let the process serving of which we read so much last year and this year be the explanation. The poor farmer is evicted—thrown out. Himself, his wife, his children, and perhaps an old father and mother, or other relative with whom the young people would willingly share their last crust, are expelled from the cabin they themselves erected, to spend their first homeless night on the nearest public road, or in the ditch by the side of it. All the little “ improvements ” in which the farmer invested his few pounds, or only shillings it may be, of cash capital, and his years of toil capital, are confiscated, and nothing remains for him and his family but to starve, or avoid starvation by such means as he may. This is no fancy picture, but one that was only too common during last year and the early part of the one just closing. And it was only because nearly every farmer in the country had more or less felt the sharp bite of the Irish land laws that the present agitation is being made. Yet those scenes are not new. They have been common to Ireland for many years, and will continue, we fear —judging from the Lords’ rejection of the Irish Tenants Compensation Bill—until some great upheaval shakes the country to its very centre, and shows that only for a time can human suffering endure. This upheaval, as we said at the outset, seems near at hand. The Irishmen have many grievances to redress, and a man with hungry stomach himself, his little ones crying for food, the. home he built taken from him before his eyes, and himself and all near and dear to him bundled into the highway to starve, is not likely to be the most cautious or the most reasoning man in creation. We shall be sorry if he takes to rebellion for redress, for against the British Power in arras his cause is hopeless. But what is Britain’s duty in the matter ? The accumulated evils of centuries cannot be wiped out at one stroke of the pen, but much may be done by judicious reform to remedy many of them. The first duty of Government will be to punish the murderers and the criminals; the second will be to remove the grievances which are the spawning grounds from which the agrarian murders spring. It is peculiar that while Lord Beaconsfield’s Government — no friends of Ireland—were in office and carrying out their “ spirited foreign policy,” they were not disturbed with,
the Irish trouble.- As soon, how - ver, as the only really friendly Administration that. Ireland has yet experienced comes into power, and essays to deal with the question of her wrongs, it gets its hands full of a threatened rebel ion. To the Land Leaguers and the Home Rulers the framers of the Irish Tenants’ Compensation Bill might naturally look for support and aid in helping Ireland, but we find the leader of the agitation addressing 40,000 Irishmen boding over with intense feeling, and speaking of the Secretary for Ireland as a hypocrite, holding the British Premier responsible for the assassinations of Irish landlords and the prevailing reign of murderous terror. When he says that the only remedy for Ireland’s woes is Irish self-government to end English misrule, he asks revolt, and invokes upon the Irish people unspeakable woe. Whether Parnell calls what he wishes autonomy, or other agitators call it Home Rule, when such language is used in connection with it, it can only he obtained through streams of b’.ood, and we are forced to the conclusion that the leaders of such an agitation have less the people’s welfare at heart than the success of their own crotchets and the gratification of their own feelings. The mitigation of IreLnd’s wrongs' are only practicable under an administration friendly to the country. Such a friend has Mr. Gladstone all along proved, and if the Irish leaders could but be persuaded to look at him in that light and work with him, the time we think has come when much that would ameliorate Ireland’s condition could be procured without the shedding of a drop of blood, ami the first concession would be the pioneer of many yet to come.
Tenders. —To-day the Borough Council calls for tenders for several work;, the most important of which is tha for asphalting the East street footpaths.
The Tiki Tiri Accident. —At the inquest on the body of Alfred Leith, tho victim of the Tiri Tiri accident, tho jury returned a verdict of “ Accidental death.” Pardoned. Tho man Edwards, a prisoner in the Dunedin gaol, who, as mentioned in our telegrams on Saturday, gallantly rescued a girl from drowning at Port Chalmers, has been pardoned.
School Examination. To-day the Revs. Messrs. Beattie and Hands an ’. Mr. Joseph Ward have been busy examining the children at the Ashburton school. It is expected that the examination will last over the next two days, but the examiners will be strengthened by the addition to their number to-morrow of tho Rev. Charles Fraser. The prizes will be distributed probably on Thursday afternoon, in the schoolroom, the annual concert following in the evening.
Captain William Jackson Barry Tho aspiring Captain Barry has found lecturing a mockery and a snare, and has taken once more to the shambles. Doubtless it will be more profitable for him to slaughter and cut up Otagan oxen and sheep than to slaughter the Queen’s English on a platform. Anyhow, blood fresh from a newly killed bullock is less disagreeable a bespattering than arc the yoke and glaire of eggs of very “ uncertain ago.”
The Monthly Talkue-Talkee. —The natives appear to be getting tired of the monthly meeting at Parihaka, if we may judge by the following telegram from tho Press Association agent at New Plymouth : —At tho Parihaka meeting, there was only a small attendance of natives. Te Whiti’s speech was of no political significance, and, so far as can be learnt, no allusion was made to tho Opunake murder. The meeting was of short duration, and the few natives who had visited Parihaka soon dispersed. Only one or two Europeans were present. ”
Treasure Trove. To-day Mr. St. Hill started to tear up the flooring of the Somerset verandah, preparatory to the laying down of a sheet of asphaltc in its place by Mr. Bradley. The wooden flooring has been in its place for many a day, and the door of a public-house is just tho place whore occasionally a shilling or two may he dropped, and the coins may bo likely to find their way through the flooring chinks, and be lost for ever to the losers. In the hope of finding some treasure trove of this kind quite a rush was made by the “ men at the corner” when the floor was lifted, but only some three or four shillings mid a carpenter’s rule rewarded tho “ diggers.”
Life Assurance. —We have received the eleventh annual report of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia, Limited, which shows that the vigorous policy adopted by the management lias been, in an eminent degree, successful. The business for the year just closed greatly exceeds that of any previous year since the Association was established. A large expenditure has been incurred in extending the business, but instead of treating the whole or a portion of this as an asset the directors have preferred writing the whole of it off in the year’s accounts. and still show that an amount exceeding L 34,000 has been added to the funds of the Association during the twelve months.
The Yeomanry Cavalry.— We understand that the local officer of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry, Mr. J. Stanley Bruce, has resigned his commission, and the contingent is temporarily under the command of Sergeant G. E. Scott. Regarding the annual three days’ training, which is this year to take place at Rangiora, a Christchurch contemporary has the following On the 28th, the members of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry will muster for three days’ training at Hangiora. It is expected that at least one hundred men of the various contingents will be on parade. The southern portion of the troop will bo metal Kaiapoi during the afternoon of tho 28th. Arrangements have been made for the men to mess at Roberts’ Junction Hotel, and to sleep at the various hotels in Rangiora. The drill will be carried out on one of the public reserves.
I. O. G. T. Deputation.— Tho Wellington Post of Saturday gives the following report of a deputation from the Grand Lodge of New Zealand 1. O. G. T., which waited on the Government in reference to the licensing laws;—Dr. Roseby pointed out that much more might be done towards the mitigation of intemperance than at present obtains if the existing laws were more stringently enforced. Sunday traffic was carried on in a most open manner. Ho admitted that there was a difficulty in sheeting home offences of this kind, but this arose from the provisions made for proving the case. With regard to the local option provisions in tho Bill of last session, these had given very general satisfaction, though they would like to see the provisions extended to existing houses, so as not only to check the evil but to diminish it. Tho Premier said that until the system had been tried, and public opinion was stronger in this direction, Government could not promise to go further than local option regarding now houses. Government were as anxious as anyone to check intemperance, and instructions would be given to the police to strictly enforce the present provisions of the licensing law. The Ministers present were the Premier and Minister of Justice, and among the members of the deputation were Messrs Sando and Andrews, of Ashburton
A Correction. Router’s agent at Adelaide sends the following correction to a cablegram which appeared in our Saturday’s issue:—For new wheat, 3s. 5d., road 4a. sd. For freight to London, sailing, 505., read 455, Borough Council. —Monday and Tuesday, the 27th and 28th hist., being holidays, the Borough Council will not meet on the usual meeting night, but will assemble on Wednesday the 29th. On Monday evening, the Town Clerk will attend as usual, and in accordance with the Municipal Corporations Act, will formally adjourn the meeting till the following Wednesday.
Winslow Sports. — A Committee meeting in connection with the above sports was held on Saturday evening last. There was a fair attendance, and a considerable amount of business was transacted. The ground Committee reported as to what was required to be done to the course, and the work was ordered to be done. The Secretary reported the amounts of the several tenders received by him for the confectioner’s booth. Mr. Thomas Taylor's tender was accepted at L 4 for the day. The meeting then terminated with a vote of thanks to tho chair. A full programme can bo seen in another column.
New Candidate. —Mr. A. S. Collins addressed the suburban electors at Richmond on Thursday night. There was a full attendance. Ho said that he would not pledge himself to support any men, but spoke in favor of the present Ministry, deprecating the conduct of the Grey Government. He advocated retrenchment, but said that the ten per cent, reduction all round was but a bungling attempt to do right. He spoke warmly in favor of the Royal Commission. There was much applause during the speech, and a vote of thanks was accorded tho candidate. Wakanui Sports. —On Saturday evening a meeting was held at the Wakanui School to consider the advisability of holding athletic sports on New Year’s Day. The meeting was very well attended, amongst those present being Messrs. Jas. Brown, A. G. Earle, Leadley, E. Thomas, W. Lines, C. Hill, jun., and J. Kilgour. Mr. Kilgour was voted to the chair, and after lie had stated the object for which the meeting had been called; Mr. J. Brown proposed and Mr. E. Thomas seconded “ That a committee be formed to make arrangements to hold athletic sports on New Year’s Day.” The resolution being put to the meeting, was carried. Several gentlemen were in favour of an amalgamation with the Seafield and Elgin districts. Mr. Thomas disagreed, saying that he did not see why Wakanui should not stand alone in its glory, possessing as it did both good ground and men. The following gentlemen were elected members of the committee :- Messrs. J. Kilgour, E. Thomas, AV. Cockle, J. Sturgeon, C. Hill, jun. A long discussion took place as to having the school children’s ground separate from that of the men. Mr. Earle spoke in favor of this, and it was ultimately decided to hold the men’s and children’s sports on tho same course. Mr. Leadley proposed—“ That this meeting do now adjourn, and leave the drawing up of the programme and the management to the committee. ” This being seconded by Mr. Kilgour and carried, the meeting adjourned, after passing the usual vote of thanks to the chairman.
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