Devon Commission - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

hesitate to make the assertion of this deliberate conspiracy. Take the facts and documents, and draw such inferences as they will bear.

First, then, for the Report of the Devon Commission. As first printed, it fills four stupendous "Blue Books." But it contained too much valuable matter to be buried, like other Reports, in the catacombs which yawn for that species of literature. The Secretary of the Commission, therefore, was employed to abstract and condense, and present the cream of it in two or three octavo volumes. This had the advantage, not only of condensation, but of selection; the Commissioners could then give the pieces of evidence which they liked the best, together with their own recommendations. Now, those volumes have been the Bible of British legislators and Irish landlords; the death-warrant of one million and a half of human beings, and the sentence of pauper banishment against full a million and a half more. It is worth while to examine so portentous a volume. It is called a "Digest of the Evidence," &c., is published by authority, and has a preface signed "Devon."

Much of the volume is occupied with dissertations and evidence respecting "Tenant-Right," which the North had, and the South demanded. The Commissioners are clearly against it in every shape. They term it "unphilosophical;" and in the preface they state that the Ulster landlords and tenants look upon it in the light of a life-insurance—that is, the landlord allows the sale of Tenant-Right, and the incoming tenant buys it, lest they should both be murdered by the outgoing tenant. The following passage treats this Tenant-Right as injurious to the tenant himself:—

"It is even questionable whether this growing practice of Tenant-Right, which would at the first view appear to be a valuable assumption on the part of the tenant, be so in reality; as it gives to him without any exertion on his own part an apparent property or security, by means of which he is enabled to incur future incumbrance in order to avoid present inconvenience—a practice which frequently terminates in the utter destitution of his family, and in the sale of his farm, when the debts thus created at usurious interest amount to what its sale would produce."

It appears, then, that it is injurious to the tenant to let him have anything on the security of which he can borrow money; a theory which the landlords would not relish if applied to themselves. Further, the Commissioners declare that this Tenant-Right is enjoyed without any exertion on the part of tenants. Yet they have, in all cases, either created the whole ...continue reading »

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 71