Изображения страниц

"It would, therefore, not be enough to destroy the Protestant aristocracy, it is necessary to annihilate the very principle of aristocracy in Ireland, so that another may not be established in the room of the one suppressed. It is necessary, after having overturned the existing institutions, to sweep away their ruins, and prepare a foundation fit to receive another edifice."

Our author does not profess to desire that the Irish aristocracy should be destroyed in the same manner as the French nobility was abolished by the democrats of the French revolution; nor did the political writers, whose works led the way to the French revolution, when inculcating their doctrines of liberty and equality, venture to recommend that those natural rights of man should be enforced by massacre and confiscation. Such advice would have been imprudent, and the event proved that it would have been superfluous. It is not prudent yet to avow such doctrines, and M. De Beaumont carefully disclaims them. We shall give his disclaimer in his

Own words

[ocr errors]

Lorsque je dis qu il faut detruire l'aristocratie d'Irlande et l'extirper jusqua sa racine, je n'entend point par la une destruction violente et sanguinaire."

"When I say that the Irish aristocracy must be destroyed and extirpated to its very root, I do not mean by that a sanguinary and violent destruction."

After further disclaimers of all violent and unjust means, he proceeds to show, page 181, what he means, and how the object is to be accomplished

"I'entends l'abolition de l'aristocratie Irlandaise, en ce sens qu' on la depouille de son pouvoir politique, dont elle ne s'est servie que pour opprimer le peuple; qu'on lui enleve ses privileges civils qui n'out ete pour elle qu un moyen pour satisfaire son egoisme, et qu' on abatte sa predominance religieuse, qui, lors meme qu'elle n'engendre plus les persecutions, en perpetue les souvenirs."

"I understand the abolition of the Irish aristocracy in this sense, that it be deprived of its political power, which it has never exercised but to oppress the people; that its civil privileges be taken away, which it has merely used as an instrument to gratify its selfishness; and that its religious ascendancy be overturned, which, even when it ceases to engender persecution, preserves its memory."

He next proceeds to point out the political power of which the aristocracy must be deprived, and the means by which this is to be effected, and to the credit of his penetration and authority, as an expression of the intentions of the Whigs, it must be confessed that a process very similar to what he recommends, is at this present moment going on in Ireland. It is not enough which they possess, as forming one to deprive the aristocracy of the power branch of the legislature, but the influence which is attached to ancient birth and extensive possessions must be destroyed. According to the present, constitution of the country, persons of or perhaps we should say the ancient, property and respectability were chosen trates, and grand-jurors, and were, at to fill the offices of sheriffs, magisthe same time, encouraged to frequent the Irish court, and keep up a friendly connection with the viceroy. The advantages of this system were supposed to be, that the local business of the counties was entrusted to men, whose birth and education naturally inspired them with generous ideas, and principles of truth and honour; whose wealth placed them above the reach of low temptation, and whose stake in the welfare of the country was so great, that they themselves must be the principal sufferers by any mismanagement. On account of their wealth, also, they were men who could easily be made responsible for any misconduct, either by punishment or compensation, and being peculiarly sensitive of disgrace, they could be sufficiently kept in check by a slight rebuke, which men of meaner station would not feel. Their habitual supposed to be of advantage, by enapresence at the court was also bling the viceroy (generally an English nobleman) to make himself acquainted with the state of the country,. by conversing with men of honour and veracity, belonging to every party, instead of being obliged to depend upon the representations made to him by the retainers of one party, who had an immediate personal interest in every act. This system contributed not a little to the power of the aristocracy. It gave them the influence naturally attached to the offices we have mentioned. It gave habits of business and application to men, whose station exempted them from the necessity of industry, and by making them useful citizens of the state, it gave them additional respectability, and preserved them from that

contempt into which, from vice and idleness, they might otherwise fall. Their presence at the court also added to their influence, as the viceroy would naturally pay some attention to the opinions, and even to the wishes and feelings of men, with whom he was in habits of frequent social intercourse. All this, in M. De Beaumont's judgment, is wrong, and must be altered.. No longer must sheriffs, grand juries, or magistrates, be chosen from the Janded proprietors of the counties. Their functions must, whenever it is possible, be administered by the government, and whenever this centralization is impossible, the persons appointed to fill the offices must, instead of the aristocracy of the county, be mean partisans of the government which appointed them, and must depend upon that government for encouragement and rewards. This will tend, in a great measure, to make the nobility and principal gentry mere cyphers, without occupation, influence, or authority; and lest their presence might influence, or their absence annoy the court, he recommends that the office of lord lieutenant of Ireland should be abolished, and the Irish business be transacted by a commissioner, resident

in London.

souart a dissimuler l'injustice ou l'incapacité des juges de paix, maintenant il travaille plutot a jeter un voile sur les fautes, et sur les ecarts du peuple. Les magistrats salariés (stipendiary magistrates) dont tout l'office consistait a seconder les juges de paix, sout institués a present dans le but manifester de les remplacer."-Page 311.

"The assistant barrister, who formerly received from the central government an express or secret direction, to support the upper classes against the people, has today instructions to support the people used all his skill to conceal the injustice against the aristocracy. Formerly be or incapacity of the justices of the peace; now he endeavours rather to throw a veil over the faults and transgressions of the people. The stipendiary magistrates, whose duty it was to act as subsidiary to the justices of the peace, are now appointed with the evident object of superseding them."

This is a bold admission for the partisan of a Whig government to make, that the officers sworn to execute the laws with justice receive instructions from the Castle to show partiality to the democratic party; and the reader will scarcely think this conduct sufficiently justified by the unauthorised, unproved assertion that the former government did the same. The assertion is evidently false, and, even if true, would be no justification for the present conduct of the Whigs. It is always M. De Beaumont's practice, when it is impossible for him to avoid

"Pour detruire le pouvoir politique de Paristocratie, il faudrait lui ôter l'application quotidienne des lois, comme on l'a privée precedemment du pouvoir de les faire. Il faudrait par consequent ruiner de fond aucomble le systeme administrativ et judiciare, qui repose sur l'in-making stitution des juges de paix et sur l'organization des grands jurys, tels qu'ils sont constitues anjour d'hui. Et d'abord pour executer cette destruction, il faudrait centraliser le pouvoir."-Vol. 2, page


"To destroy the political power of the aristocracy, the daily administration of the laws must be taken away from it, as it has been already deprived of the power of making them. It is, therefore, necessary to overturn entirely the present judicial and executive system, which rests upon the institution of justices of the peace, and on the organization of grand juries, as they are at present constituted. And first, to effect this destruction, a centralization of power must take place." "L'assistant barrister, qui, jadis recevait du pouvoir central mission expresse on tacite de soutenir les hautes classes contre le peuple, a pour mandat aujour d'hui de soutenir le peuple contre l'aristocratie. Autrefois il mettait tout

some admission against the Whigs, to accompany it with some charge of a corresponding misconduct in the Tories; and this leads to a peculiarity in his style which must strike the most careless reader, that

nearly every second sentence contains or implies some assertion which is altogether irrelevant to his immediate argument, but is merely introduced for the purpose of making some general charge against the Irish aristocracy.

But it is not enough that the agents of the government, whose duty it is to administer the law, should receive secret instructions to thwart the local authorities, with whom they ought to co-operate; it is also expedient that the government should catch at every opportunity of insulting the latter, or of removing them.

"Il suffit en effet, de jeter un coup d'œil sur l'Irlande pour s'appercevoir que non seulement le gouvernment Whig

n'accorde point a l'aristocratie de ce pays l'exorbitante protection que celle-ci recevait des Tories, mais encore qu'il la traite en veritable adversaire: Il ne se borne pas a ne plus lui conferer les emplois publics dont elle avait autrefois le monopole, il s'efforce de la depouiller de ceux qu'elle possede encore. Un juge de paix, grand proprietaire, commet il une faute, le gouvernment saisit l'occasion de le remplacer par un magistrat salarié. Quelque autre se signale-t-il comme chef du parti orangiste, on le destitue purement et simplement. En meme temps qu'ils enlevent a l'aristocratie d'Irlande les faveurs et les graces du pouvoir executif, les Whigs accordent ces graces et ces faveurs aux ennemis les plus violent de cette aristocratie; ils appellent le plus qu'ils peuvent de Catholiques dans la commission de la paix ; ils nomment aux fonctions publiques les plus eminents des hommes notoirement engages dans le parti national. Au lieu d'elire pour sherifs des comptes les grands proprietaires que desire l'aristocratie, le gouvernment choisit ceux qu'elle considere comme des ennemis. Depuis les moindres emplois jusqu'aux plus elevés, depuis les dignites de la judicature jusqu'a la police, il prend ses agents dans le parti populaire. A vrai dire le gouvernment des Whigs en Irlande et l'aristocratie de ce pays sont en etat de guerre ouverte."-Page 316.

"It is sufficient in fact to take a cursory view of Ireland, in order to perceive that not only the Whig government does not afford to the aristocracy of that country the excessive degree of protection which it received from the Tories, but even that it treats it exactly as an enemy. It does not limit its hostility to ceasing to confer on it the public offices of which it had once the monopoly, it strives to deprive it of those which it still possesses. Does a justice of peace, owner of a large estate, commit any error, the government eagerly seizes this opportunity to fill up his place by a stipendiary magistrate. Does another signalise himself as a leader of the orange party, he is at once deprived of his office. At the same time that they take away from the aristocracy the favour and protection of the executive power, the Whigs grant that favour and protection to the most violent enemies of that aristocracy. They nominate, as much as possible, Catholics to the commission of the peace; they fill all the public offices with the most eminent of the men notoriously engaged in the national party. In place of choosing the sheriffs of the counties from the men of landed property, according to the wishes of the aristocracy, the government chooses those whom the aristocracy considers as its

enemies. From the lowest employments to the highest, from the dignities of the bench to the police, it takes its agents from the popular party. In truth, the government of the whigs in Ireland, and the aristocracy of that country are at open war."

Our author remarks, page 317, that in England the most democratic laws are tempered by the spirit in which they are administered; but, in Ireland, the whigs, in their hostility to the aristocracy, go beyond the intentions of the legislature.

[blocks in formation]

After these admissions, it was scarcely necessary for him to add, page 318,

"Il serait du reste, peutêtre juste de dire que le pouvoir executif en Irlande s'aneantil plus completement encore dans sa fusion avec le parti populaire que dans son alliance avec le parti aristocratique."

After this description of the conduct of the Whig government, it would be difficult for M. De Beaumont to deny that the Protestants of Ireland have serious reason to complain. They are not only excluded from every office of influence or emolument, on account of their religious, and political opinions, but they see those offices conferred on their inveterate foes. Those whose duty it is to administer the laws with impartiality, are instructed to act as partisans. The laws are perverted contrary to the intentions of the legis lature, to the subversion of the aristocracy. Every opportunity is sought weight and influence, and to supply to dismiss them, to deprive them of all their places by stipendiary magistrates, mere creatures of the government, who soon find it is their interest, as it is naturally their inclination, to insult on all occasions the resident gentlemen of the country. No common degree of partiality shown by the whigs would have made M. De Beaumont admit that they have been, in all their conduct, more strongly influenced by party feeling than he, the inveterate enemy of the tories, ventures to charge against the tories. This oppressive partiality of the whig government is doubly oppressive, on account of the character and disposition of the party to which

it is subservient. This party, according to M. De Beaumont, cherishes a feeling of deadly hatred against the Protestants, and against the wealthy, and to gratify this feeling, the members of this party never scruple to commit perjury, murder, or crime of any kind. Thus, it is not an ordinary political foe that the wealthy Protestant finds opposed to him, but a party animated by fierce hatred, false, unprincipled, reckless of the means which it employs to crush or to wound its antagonists, and having the whole power of government at its disposal, to assist, or to protect, or to reward its instruments. And, what is the object for which the government deserts its duty, and makes all its functions subservient to anarchy? What is the end which is supposed to sanctify these iniquitous means? To destroy the church, to subvert the constitution, and place Ireland under the dominion of a Roman Catholic democracy. This can scarcely be considered a consummation so devoutly to be wished for, as to induce the Protestants of Ireland to endure with equanimity the oppressions that are to lead the way to



Besides destroying the church establishment, aud depriving aristocracy of its civil and religious privileges, it is necessary, according to M. De Beaumont, to alter the laws relating to landed property, so as to produce a race of small fee-simple proprietors, instead of the tenantry who now occupy the soil. Until this is done, he thinks that Ireland never will be peaceable or happy; and this is the general opinion of most politicians of his party, but he affects to differ with them as to the means by which this state of things is to be brought about. In this difference, we must say that they are wiser in their generation than he is, (if he is sincere,) and that in differing with them, he is not able to be consistent with himself. Their plan is very much on the principle of the good old rule." It is to declare, that those who are in the present day in possession or occupation of any land, shall be henceforth, by operation of law, the fee-simple proprietors thereof, aud that the state shall take upon itself the task of making some reasonable compensation to the landlords for the loss of their property. This plan has, at least, this one merit, that it would certainly succeed in effecting its object; but that of M. De Beaumont is more complex, less preguant with injus

[ocr errors]

tice, but, at the same time, it would be utterly insufficient to bring about the state of things which he thinks desirable. His plan is to repeal the law of primogeniture, and to pass a law to prevent entails and settlements, and to make all property, at the death of the parents, be equally divided among their children. In this project, and in his arguments in support of it, there is not much that is original, or much that is absurd. It is practicable, for it has been tried in other countries, and does not differ much from the present law of France. Its economical advantages and disadvantages have been often discussed, and its political merit will be judged according to each person's views, whether he is favourable to a pure democracy, or to a mixed monarchy. As a democrat, M. De Beaumont is consistent in recommending the abolition of the law of primogeniture.

[ocr errors]

He also complains, and with some justice, of the impediments which the present state of the law opposes to the transfer of real property. On this subject he declaims with great force against the trammels of the feudal system, against which the French in general entertain an unaccountable antipathy. A French democrat concludes his arguments against every principle he dislikes, with an assertion that it is a remnant of the feudal system. He thinks the force of reason can no farther go;" but the fact is, that the feudal system is innocent of all the offences which M. De Beaumont charges against it. After the statute of "quia emptores" was passed in England, lands under the feudal system could be conveyed without expense or difficulty. The expense of the conveyance, and the difficulty, were less than they are at present in France. All the impediments which at present exist to the conveyance and sale of landed property, have been the effects of departures from the feudal system, which were called for by the wants and wishes of the country. Many of those impediments are caused by laws that were passed for the benefit of commerce and of the middling classes. Thus, laws have been passed, by which judgment creditors of a landed proprietor can take his land in execution, and in some instances sell it. Land may be also taken in execution for crown bonds and recognizances; and the searches and various expenses that are necessary in consequence of these

laws are enumerated by M. De Beaumont himself as among the principal impediments to the transfer of landed property. Great difficulties and expenses are also caused by the practice of mortgaging, than which nothing can be more adverse to the spirit of the feudal system. Uses and trusts, and all the complication of family settlements, are equal departures from the feudal system: and from all those causes arise the difficulties of which he complains, and which he charges against the feudal system. We perfectly agree with him, that it would be an advantage to have one simple system of registration, so that all incumbrances upon any given property could be ascertained without expense or delay, and we trust that such a system will be established before long. The cause of the delay is, that certain parties are so intent on subverting or altering the political institutions of the country, that they leave to parliament little time or inclination to attend to any measures of practical utility.

terre vendue est plus considerable comparativement moindres : c'est ce qui explique pourquoi en Angleterre il n'y a possibi lité d'acheter que de grandes terres, et comment des entraves qui gênent même le riche, arrêtent tout court le pauvre. C'est ainsi que dans ce pays, alors même que le sol change de mains, il ne se divise pas.",

"Besides, be the searches necessary or useless, they cost always the same price. They are preserved traditionally by lawyers, who thus acquire the exclusive prithe titles to real property. vilege of examining and comprehending their hands, like those dangerous mediLand is, in cines which no one is permitted to purchase without the certificate of a physician. And it little matters whether the land to be sold is of great or small extent, the examination of the title requires always the same care and the same expense. The consequence is, that to the possible division of landed property in England there is a limit, beyond which the division of land is morally impossible. This limit is found at the point where the expenses of the contract being equal or superior to the value of the estate sold, absorb the But these exprofits of the transaction. penses, which do not vary, are less compa

when the value of the land sold is more considerable. This explains why in England there is no possibility of buying any but large property, and how those clogs which annoy even the rich stop the poor man altogether. It is thus that in that country even when the soil changes owners it is not divided."

Some of M. De Beaumont's observations on this state of things are very happy. He states the consequence to be, that it is impossible to purchaseratively land without legal advice. That whether they are necessary or not, certain investigations must be made at great expense for the security of the purchaser, and that the expense of making out the title to a small property is often equal to its price, and that this impedes the division of property into small parcels. Page 212

"Du reste, que les investigations soient necessaires ou inutiles, elles coutent toujours le meme prix; elles se conservent traditionellement par les hommes de loi, auxquels appartiennent ainsi le privilege exclusif d'examiner et de comprendre les titres de propriete. La terre est entre leurs mains, comme ces substances tout a la fois bienfaisanteset dangereuses que nul ne peut acheter sans l'ordonnance d'un medecin. Et peu importe que la terre a vendre soit de grande ou de moindre etendue, l'examen des titres entraine toujours les memes soins et les mêmes depenses. Il en resulte qu'il y a en Angleterre, dans la division possible du sol, une limite au dela de laquelle le fractionnement de la terre est moralement impossible; cette limite se trouve au point ou les frais du contrat egaux ou superieurs a la valeur du domaine vendue detruisent l'interet de la transaction. Or ces frais, qui ne varient point, sont a mesure que la

In those observations, although there is some exaggeration in the assertion that the expense of making out title is not at all increased by the value or extent of the estate, we are disposed to concur, and we think that an alteration in the law is loudly called for, which may make the search for incumbrances on an estate a more simple and less expensive process. This may be done by one uniform system of registration by which corded in the same place, instead of apall incumbrances may be found repearing, as at present, in a variety of different places according to the nature of the incumbrances. There are at present eight offices in any of which an incumbrance may be found to deprive the purchaser of the property for which he paid his money.

The law of entails, as it at present exists, interferes very little with the transfer of property; but the practice of marriage settlements has a much greater influence, and M. De Beau

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »