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Railway Commission, was devoted to securing the material prosperity of the people—to a solution of the land question, in short, in a round-about way, by rendering the Irish less dependent on the land. Lastly, he made valuable contributions to our knowledge of the state of Ireland and of Irish questions. His evidence contained in the Report of the Roden Committee, taken along with those portions of the Railway Commission Report which emanated from his pen, form the completest and most authoritative account that exists of the state of Ireland between 1835–39.*
In the immediately following chapters, it is proposed - 1st, To give a view of the state of Ireland in those years, chiefly as it appears from the reports referred to; 2d, To exhibit the efforts of Mr Drummond and his colleagues in the Government in behalf of order in Ireland—taking, as falling under this head, his im
* In 1839, a Select Committee of the House of Lords (known as the Roden Committee, from having been appointed on the motion of Earl Roden), took evidence as to the state of crime in Ireland between 1835 and 1839, and as to the whole course of the Administration in regard to its suppression. The object of the inquiry was to test the truth of various grave charges brought against the Government, which shall hereafter be noticed. Before this committee Mr Drummond was the chief figure, not only as the principal witness, but as the member of the Government most referred to by all the witnesses. Of the value of his evidence on this occasion an opinion is expressed by an able writer in the Edinburgh Review (vol. lxx. p. 317). “The Committee," says this writer, “have rendered a great public service (however little they may deserve credit for it), in being the means of calling Mr Drummond's evidence into existence. In addition to the opportunities afforded him by his high official situation, his duties as Railway Commissioner have led him to make the most extensive inquiries of all classes, in all parts, as to the moral and social condition of the people, and he has brought to bear upon the matter thus collected all the energies of an enlightened and intelligent mind."
provement of the constabulary, and those acts of his in which the impartiality of the Government was exhibited ; and, 3d, To give some account of Mr Drummond's scheme for developing, by a national system of railways, the resources of the country, and securing the well-being of the common people.
In these chapters, which are intended to show the work in which Mr Drummond was engaged in Ireland, and the spirit in which he performed his share in it, the object, it must be remembered, is not historical, but biographical. In a history of Ireland between the years 1835 and 1840, many would have prominence who are here overlooked or barely mentioned; persons and events being, as a rule, noticed only as connected with or affecting the life and labours of Mr Drummond. Moreover, by the method of treating this portion of his life, to which it has been found necessary to have recourse, he himself is, to a great extent, the author of the account of the state of Ireland under the administrations in which he served. Should any one think that there is more historical matter introduced than is proper to be found in a memoir, he should reflect that the only good reason that can be stated for writing the life of any one is, that it is instructive, and that, for the same reason, it is proper to make it as instructive as possible.
IRELAND, 1835–1839; SECRET SECTARIAN AND POLITICAL
ORGANISATIONS IN IRELAND; ORANGEISM AND ORANGE PROCESSIONS; RIBBONISM OR RIBANDISM; AGRARIAN OUTRAGES ; FACTION FIGHTS; EFFORTS TO ESTABLISH ORDER ; IMPROVEMENTS IN THE CONSTABULARY ; INTRODUCTION OF STIPENDIARY MAGISTRATES ; EXTENSION OF CROWN PROSECUTIONS ; SUPPRESSION OF FACTION FIGHTS; SUPPRESSION OF ORANGE PROCESSIONS ; REMEDIES FOR EVILS LEADING TO DISTURBANCES ; DIMINUTION OF CRIME; DIFFICULTIES IN DEALING WITH RIBANDISM.
In 1835 the Orange system was in full blow. It was a common notion that the United Irishmen formed an antagonistic society under the name of Ribbonmen or Ribandmen. Orangeism was armed and secret ; Ribandism secret and unarmed; each had its characteristic public manifestations. These were supposed to be hedge-murders, midnight house-invasions, and fierce personal assaults; those were armed processional demonstrations, spreading terror among the Catholic Irish, and frequently resulting in deadly conflicts.
In 1835–36 the proportions assumed by Orangeism became exceedingly alarming. It numbered no less than 1500 lodges (with secret oaths and pass-words), affiliated with one another under the direction of a Grand Lodge, whose head was the Duke of Cumberland. A Commission of Inquiry brought out the fact that there were Orange lodges even in the army. In 1836 Mr Hume stated, on authority which was incontrovertible, that there were 200,000 armed Orangemen in Ireland, and that they were accustomed to meet in armies of 10,000, 20,000, and even 30,000 at a time; that these demonstrations tended to breaches of the peace, and that the law could not be administered till they were put down. A suspicion which had got abroad gave additional importance to this statement. It was that the Orangemen were engaged in a plotknown as the Fairman Plot, from the chief agent in it being a Colonel Fairman—to alter the succession to the throne. A resolution was at once passed in the House of Commons, that an address should be presented to the King, urging the dissolution of the Orange organisation, and the removal from public trusts and employments of all who countenanced it. The address was presented, and acted upon. Orangeism was dissolved in 1836, or rather it was resolved into lodges no longer affiliated. The Orange processions and armed demonstrations, however, still continued. They came on as certainly as July arrived, and were, as formerly, followed by riots and outrages. These were, of course, mainly confined to the North and the strongholds of Protestantism.
About the nature and objects of Orangeism there was no dispute. It was the phalanx of the Ascendancy ready at any moment to re-assert their domination by force of arms.
The nature of Ribbonism or Ribandism was more obscure, and a subject of much speculation and controversy. Subjoined is the view of it which Mr Drummond formed from the whole facts brought to the knowledge of the Government:
“There are two grounds on which an opinion may be formed of the nature of Ribandism-first, the direct information obtained from informers; and, secondly, the effects ascribed to it. With respect to the effects, on comparing them with similar effects in other counties where Ribandism is not alleged to exist, I should doubt the existence of any such society formed with a view to the commission of agrarian outrages, or founded on feelings of religious animosity. We see outrages of the same character and description committed in other counties to the same and even to a greater extent. From the effects which appear, therefore, I think no conclusion can be drawn as to the existence of such secret combination at all. With respect to the information received from informers, very different conclusions may be come to by different individuals, according to the degree of credit they are disposed to attach to it. There are several (Riband) oaths, which are very different in their nature; the most common one is, as far as I recollect, unexceptionable in its terms.
There are other oaths of a highly treasonable and seditious character, but we have no authority, except that of informants, that such oaths are in use by those societies ; nor have we in any one instance been able to detect them in administering such oaths./. . . With regard to the members of the society, I think in some instances they may have had in view political or religious changes; but in the greater number they appear to have had no defined object beyond that of standing by one another, as it is called, for mutual defence at fairs, or assisting in the redress of real or supposed wrongs. That, I think, is the general notion of the members of the society ; but with regard to the promoters of it, there is less difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to their objects. They are almost all publicans-publicans of a very low class, and of a very bad character. All the meetings are held in the houses of publicans, to whom regular quarterly payments are made; nor is any account returned of the money so received. As to all this our information agrees. We have proof. that these societies are got up and promoted by a class of men