4 MARCH 1871, Page 14



Szu,—I trust you will permit me to say a few words about the agrarian outrages in the county of Westmeath. The subject is a painful one to me, as it is to you, but the Spectator, which is as conspicuous for honesty of purpose as it is for ability, would not, I am sure, desire any facts should be suppressed that deserve publication. The truth is, that it is impossible to understand the state of feeling which exists there from the police reports alone. They only state the cases which are laid before the authorities, and do not naturally mention how many live in a constant fear of assassination. My next neighbour, whose predecessor was shot at and severely wounded, has received more 'than one threatening letter, and is now absent. A little beyond a land agent lives, who. has been for some time a marked luau; and nearer the borders of the King's County, a young gentleman-farmer cannot stir without a guard, because his father twelve or fourteen years ago made some transaction in land which the popular code does not allow. Close- to his residence a clergyman who possesses land in the neighbour- hood was lately fired at ; while a little further off are Messrs. Perry's= mills, whose steward was not long ago shot dead. In another- direction a gentleman, who farmed highly and well, has lately dismissed his labourers and sold off his stock, because he could not ensure the life of his bailiff, who was fired at. Beyond Mul- linger the outrages have been numerous. The county has lost the' services of a valuable county surveyor, whose life, had he re-- mained, would have probably been sacrificed to the fidelity with which he discharged his trust. It is impossible that this can ba- the state of a large district without producing a disastrous result. upon its prosperity. Capital will not be invested while life is in- secure, and there will be a corresponding diminution in the employ- ment of labour. The Ribbon Societies, by a very skilful and well arranged organization, have learned how to baffle the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act. The good effect which the legisla- tion of the last two sessions was intended to produce must be gradual, and it was not likely to disarm men who think themselves- justified in avenging their wrongs by death. I have no more wish- than you have to govern Ireland by a "policy of coercion," but- the preservation of order is not a policy of coercion, and is dis- tinctly the duty of any government, whether it be Liberal or Con- servative. If I have advocated the suspension of the Habeas Cor- pus Act in those parts of Ireland where Secret Societies have been- able to render the Law of no effect, it was because I perceived no- other means of restoring to it force.

The elements of prosperity abound in Ireland. Its inhabitants. are intelligent and naturally well-disposed. But the former can. be of no avail, if the supremacy of the law is not recognized, and without education, one not merely directed to a sectarian purpose, the noble qualities which the latter possess can never be-

[What has all this to do with the matter ? We do not deny the- disorder in Westmeath. Our contention is that it is the duty of Government to deal with that disorder, not to ask suggestions. from a committee of the House.—ED. Spectator.]