Asenath Nicholson
Chapter IX (2) | Start of Chapter

The landlords have a heavy burden, and if the burden cannot be removed, it is right that they should be heard.

Even if by their own neglect or unskillfulness they are now where they feel the wave rolling over them, and this wave is like to swallow them entirely, what philanthropist would not throw out the life-boat and take them to land?

If they are not good steersmen, then place them not again at the helm; if they neither understand the laws of navigation, nor the duties of captains to the crew, assign them a place where with less power they can act without injuring the helpless, till they learn lessons of wisdom from past ages of recklessness and thoughtless improvidence.

And while God says, “What measure ye mete shall be measured to you again,” yet who shall presume to deal out this promise, nor let one retaliating lisp be encouraged to clothe the oppressive or careless landlord in like rags that his tenants have worn. Give him a second coat, and though his hands may not be adorned with rings, yet dress him in clean garments, and put shoes upon his feet.

If you give him not the “fatted calf,” yet feed him not on the one root which his scanty pay has compelled the sower and reaper of his fields to eat, strip him not of the last vestige his habitation may possess of decency and comfort, and shut him not in the walls of a workhouse, to lie down and rise up, go out and come in, at some surly master’s bidding.

Let him walk among men, as a man breathing free air on God’s free earth that he has freely “given to the children of men.”

Say not to him, when you see that his day has already come, “Ah! I told you so.”

Conscience, if he have any, will tell him that, and if he have not any, you cannot furnish him with one.

There are landlords in Ireland who have measurably rendered what is “just and equal,” if not wholly so.

There are Crawfords and Hills, who have done nobly and outlived the storm, and there are many others, who like them have acted well, but could not, and have not outlived it.

In one crumbling mass, they and their tenants are looking in despair on each other without cause or disposition to recriminate, and when they part, it is like the separation of kindly members of one family, united by one common interest.

These are some of the bright spots, green and fresh, which still look out upon that stricken country, and leave a little hope that lingering mercy may yet return and bless her with the blessing that adds no sorrow.