THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE IRISH FARMER.
[TO THA EDITOR OF THE " SPICTITOR."]
Sin,—As Irish farmers have got so much by agitation, it is only natural that they should hope to get a little more. Were Mr. Gladstone still in power, no one could blame them. Bat, as Lord Salisbury is not so "squeezable," they would do well to secure the immense advantages they have got already,—a course in which every one except Irish agitators would encourage them.
The Irish farmer has now an unprecedentedly favourable oppor- tunity of acquiring the freehold of his farm. In consequence of a depression which is probably very temporary in its applica- tion to Ireland, Irish land is to be bought freely at about eighteen years' purchase of a rental reduced to very little, if at all, above Griffiths's valuation. Under Lord Ashbourne's Act, the whole of the purchase-money may be advanced by the State, on such easy terms that the half-yearly payments to amortise the loan would fall sensibly below the present rental.
It is incredible that Irish farmers will fail much longer, if firm government is applied, to see on which side their bread is buttered. Irish land to an Irish farmer would prove, I anticipate, an incomparably better bargain than most British land to the British farmer. The competition of India and Australia, which threatens to keep British grain permanently depreciated, will not at all injuriously affect Ireland, whose produce consists mainly of butter, bacon, hay, potatoes, and cattle. In possessing a climate mild enough to admit of store-cattle picking up a living in the open, even in winter-time, the Irish farmer enjoys a very important advantage over most British farmers. When the worst of the American competition shall be overpast, and the Irish have adopted improved methods of butter-making (in- cluding more attention to cleanliness), the agricultural out- look in Ireland will be bright by the aide of ours on the English side of the Channel.—I am, Sir, &c., St. Raphael, France, December 13th. W. H. Eau.