25 DECEMBER 1880, Page 13



SIR,—A leading article in the Pall Mall Gazette of the 21st inst. appears to quote Mr. Bence Jones's statement that if the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended he could have got labourers, as a specimen of the extravagant selfishness of the landlord view. "This is even more extraordinary," the writer tells us, after giving Mr. Bence Jones's assertion, "than Mr.. Plunket's regret that so strong a step was not taken, for the sake of getting ten or eleven worthless and mischievous rascals out of the country." That is, I suppose, it is extraordinary that any man should wish so violent a measure to be taken on ground so inadequate as his own personal interests. It seems as if, on the one hand, it was the question whether the Lisselan estate should, or should not, be well managed; and on the other, whether Ireland should be constitutionlly governed ? Surely such a tone is utterly unjuat. I cannot imagine a better concrete summary of the strongest arguments for coercion than the statement that it would have enabled a landlord to get labourers. It is another way of saying that the measure desired would have set free a number of people to follow their own inclinations, in a case where it is eminently to the interest of the community that they should follow their own inclina- tions. I can conceive that the belief that coercion would have had this effect should be mistaken ; but that, being true, it should be set aside as a preposterous irrelevance, that it should be granted that a few men have this power of frightening others, throughout a whole Country, from honest work, and yet that this concession should not be supposed to strengthen the argument for bringing extra-legal power to confront their illegal power,—this seems to me a stranger instance of party bias, of the spirit that invariably takes sides against authority, than Mr. Bence Jones's speech—even if it were, as the writer in the Pall Mall seems to suppose, a mere assertion about his own interests, and not the interests of a nation—would afford of the spirit of class selfishness, against which the Pall Mall Gazette and you, Sir, have raised so strenuous and, till lately I have thought, so generous a protest.—I am, Sir, esc., L. C.