11 JANUARY 1908, Page 16


SIR,—In your last issue you published a letter relative to cattle-driving by Mr. Gwynn, in which he condemns certain statements in your paper on the ground that they are "poisoned bullets." It seems to me that Mr. Gwynn ought to be somewhat more careful in making such charges against the well-grounded statements which you have made, and that he would be well advised to consider his own words before he uses what is literally a "poisoned bullet" against the unfortunate men, chiefly tenant-farmers, whose property is now being destroyed by the outrage and intimidation which prevail in Ireland. He calls those men who hold grazing farms "speculators in dry stock." The word " speculator " has evidently been carefully selected by him in order to raise public feeling against the men whom he refers to; but the opprobrious term might with equal justice be applied to all tillage farmers, who might equally fairly be termed "speculators" in potatoes, in oats, or any other agri- cultural produce. Mr. Gwynn well knows that the public dislike speculators, and it is evidently for this reason that he has chosen the word. But those to whom he applies this appellation 'are really men who do a great deal for the cattle trade, which is the staple trade of Ireland. It is impossible for a small farmer to finish off the stock which he produces. A considerable portion of the small farmer's holding is generally devoted to tillage, and consequently he has not grazing-land sufficient to rear and finish off his stock; nor has he capital to enable him to retain the stock a sufficient length of time to prepare it for the market. He is assisted in these circumstances by the grazing farmer, who devotes his attention entirely to the finishing off of the stock which he buys from the small farmer. He invests a considerable sum of capital in the purchase of young stock, and has to lie out of his money until the stock is improved to such an extent that it can be marketed for export or for use in the chief towns of Ireland. If the grazing farmer is prevented from using the land which is in his hands for this purpose, immense injury will be done to the cattle trade, and the smaller farmers will ultimately suffer considerably.

It may be urged by Mr. Gwynn that if the grazing farms were broken up the small farmer would have sufficient land to finish off the stock himself; but such an argument would only show ignorance of the real conditions, because if all the grazing farms in Ireland were broken up and divided up amongst the small farmers, the area thus dealt with would be totally insufficient to supply more than a very small percentage of them with increased land, and those tenants who did not get a portion of the plunder would be left without the assistance of the large grazier to whom to sell their young stock ; and, furthermore, those small tenants who might be fortunate enough to secure a portion of their neighbour's grazing-land would be without the capital necessary to enable them to retain their stock a sufficient time to bring it to marketable maturity. In the face of these facts, think Mr. Gwynn has himself committed the very act which be so condemns, and has used a "poisoned bullet" in applying to a meritorious class the opprobrious term of " speculator."—I am, 'Sir, &c., .T. CRAIG DAVIDSON, LL.D.

7 Mount Street Crescent, Dublin.