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the observance of an “unwritten law,” which in numerous instances, caused murder, not to speak of a Reign of Terror, and agrarian outrages on an immense scale; and this being the fact, it is no wonder that the Commissioners have found the accused responsible, from a moral point of view, for the worst kind of crime. English law properly dislikes constructive crime, and requires positive proof of direct complicity in order to bring home the guilt of crime; but the moral law is expressed in the striking words "woe "to them from whom offences come;" and, tried by this test, the Parnellite chiefs may be left, on the fifth charge, to the doom of History.
Forty-four of the accused have been declared guilty in the Report on part of the second charge; that is, they endeavoured to ruin Irish landlords" by a system of coercion and intimidation.” Mr. Gladstone and his allies have laboured in vain to lessen the significance of this finding, which brings before us perhaps the worst incidents of the Parnellite movement on its social side. Mr. Parnell propounded the method of “ boycotting” as the avowed substitute for agrarian outrage ; having preached passive resistance to the payment of rent, and compelled landlords to have resort to eviction, he announced that evicted farms were to be left derelict, and that the "people" should “shun as a leper" any “land grabber" who should take land from which a tenant had been removed for not paying his debts. This wicked doctrine was eagerly taken up; and as the two Leagues extended their evil power, it was applied to all persons who, in any way, disobeyed the “unwritten agrarian law” of confederacies, which, in some counties, had supplanted Law and the Government of the Queen, and exercised fearful “anarchic oppression,” in Mr. Gladstone's appropriate language. That “boycotting,” even in the abstract, is a crime is certain; it is a direct attack on the rights of a class; it keeps land out of
commerce to the public detriment; it deprives its victims of the first rights of citizens, security, freedom, and the power of acquiring property.
But this is no measure of the atrocious guilt of this execrable system as it was carried out in Ireland, where the Land and National Leagues had become dominant. In those districts the organizations had Committees everywhere, as a rule one for each parish and town, resembling the Jacobin Clubs of 1791-3; these bodies enforced the League mandates with pitiless and farreaching severity; and “boycotting” became, under these conditions, as cruel a tyranny as was ever practised, especially in places where the population was sparse, and it was difficult to obtain the conveniences and the necessaries of life. A social ostracism, as tremendous at least as that caused caused by mediæval Interdicts,
thus directed, in the words of the Report, "against those who
paid their rent when others refused to pay " against agents of landlords, bailiffs, caretakers, emergency “men called in to prevent land becoming waste, against " those who supplied goods to such men, and generally
against all who supplied food or even spoke to boycotted “persons; against those who refused to join the League ;
against those who gave evidence in Courts of Justice “ adverse to those accused of agrarian crime ; against “ those who supplied cars to the police; against the “ children of boycotted persons, and the schools they "attended; and against a school because an assistant “ teacher was related to persons who had offended the “ League. The funerals of obnoxious persons were put “ under a similar ban, and even coffins or the wood to “ make them were withheld from the dead."
This, however, is not a complete account of “ boycotting" in its effects and working. The interdict of the Leagues is a kind of sentence; and whenever these Bodies became powerful, the ostracism that followed was an unchallenged
result; the system was self-acting, and, in appearance, peaceable; and farms were left derelict and “obnoxious
persons ” banned, that is handed over to ruin and misery, over whole districts, without a sign of violence. As Sir James Stephen has well pointed out, the worst feature, perhaps, of this scheme of wickedness, is that it saps society without shocking humanity by open and repeated crime; and it has been compared to the pestilence that walks in darkness, and that destroys its victims stealthily and in deadly silence. But before this quiescent state has been reached, and those who are proscribed submit to it, it becomes necessary to enforce the sentence. This can only be done by deterrent punishment; and, accordingly, the Leagues were compelled to inflict the edict of“ boycotting" by crime and outrage, until they had become supreme in any given district. This law, Mr. Gladstone truly remarked, must“ have a sanction like
any other law; the“ sanction” of boycotting was " the 'assassination' that was not denounced;" and shooting in the legs, cutting off the hair of girls, the mutilation of dumb beasts, and other barbarities formed a graduated scale of inferior penalties. The prelude to the system devised by Mr. Parnell was the most frightful outbreak of agrarian crime that probably was ever known in Ireland : assassins and moonlighters lurked in companies behind the “boycotters” of the two Leagues, and murder, outrage and lawless disorder stalked, scarcely kept under, through whole counties. The responsibility for this atrocious terrorism attaches to the Parnellite leaders convicted upon the charge of “boycotting ;” and Sir Charles Russell, their distinguished advocate, felt this so strongly, in this part of his case, that he laboured for days to refer the horrors of the Land War of 1879-82 to causes other than the conduct of the Leagues. In this attempt, however, he completely failed; and the remarks of the Judges on this subject form one of the most valuable
parts of the Report. They distinctly have proved that the agrarian crime, which, Mr. Gladstone significantly said, “ dogged the Land League” wherever it appeared, was not to be attributed in any large degree, either to the distress of the Irish peasantry, or to evictions inflicted by Irish landlords, or to the rejection of the remedial
of 1880, or to the operation of secret societies; and they find that “the increase of
agrarian crime from 1879 to 1882, though not exclusively
to be ascribed to the agitation, was mainly due to the “action of the Land League, its founders and leaders.” To this I would add a striking fact, conclusive, if other proof were wanting ; distress and evictions largely prevailed in Protestant Ulster throughout this period, if secret societies did not exist; but Protestant Ulster repelled the Land League, and there was no agrarian disorder within its bounds. Another finding of the Judges is here important: and I commend it to the sentimental persons who swallow League falsehoods about Irishi landlords, and run over to Donegal striving to witness dramatic scenes got up to illustrate the "exile of a down“ trodden peasantry.” “ That the landlords in such “ circumstances should oppose the League, and resort to “ the only weapon they had for their protection, viz.,
eviction, is not to be wondered at, and, in our judgment, “ the increase in evictions which began in 1879 and con“tinued during the subsequent years, was the result of the " agitation against the landlords."
The fourth charge is that the accused Members " dissemi“ nated the Irish World and other newspapers tending to “ incite to sedition and the commission of other crime." The movement, we have seen, had a double aspect; it had a political and a social side ; it was treasonable, and aimed at destroying Property. To effect their purpose the leaders “ spread the light" that streamed from the studio of
Patrick Ford, apostle of incendiary fire and dynamite ; and published the Irishman and United Ireland, Irish imitations of the evangel of Hébert, and of the abominations of the Père Duchêne. We quote a few of these detestable passages. The Irish World proposed to lay London in ashes; and this has been a tradition since 1798
“Our Irish skirmishers would be well disguised; they would enter London “ unknown and unnoticed. When the night for action came—the night that " the wind was blowing strong-this little band would deploy, each man setting “ about his own allotted task; and no man, save the captain of the band " alone, knowing what any other man was to do, and at the same instant, “strike with lightning 'the enemy of their land and race.
In “ two hours from the word of command, London would be in fames, and shooting up to the heavens in fifty different places."
And again “ I believe that all the material damage possible ought to be inflicted on the enemy, and that the war against the foeman ought to be persisted in without
quarter to the end. I believe that England ought to be plagued with all “the plagues of Egypt-that she ought to be scourged by day and terrorised by “ night. I believe that this species of warfare ought to be kept up until
England, hurt as well as scared, falls paralysed upon her knees, and begs “ Ireland to depart from her.”
United Ireland thus referred to the Queen :“ Surely six hundred Irish gentlemen could not eat their dinners without
pouring out libations to the adoration of an old lady who is only known in “ Ireland by her scarcely disguised hatred of this country, and by the inordi“ nate amount of her salary."
As it was part of the game to deny authority, the following was the strain in which patriots wrote of Lord Spencer :
“ Lord Spencer stopped at nothing ; not at subsidising red-handed “murderers; not at knighting jury packers; not at sheltering black official “ villainy with a coat of darkness; not at police quarterings, blood taxes, the “ bludgeoning of peaceful meetings, the clapping handcuffs on M.P.'s, mayors “ and editors; not at wholesale battues of hangings and transportations by “ hook or crook; not at burying the proof of his victims' innocence in “their graves.”
As for the agrarian passages, they will be mostly found in a series of papers, without comment, under the appropriate heading, “Incidents of the Campaign”-a desire to