By Rev. Carey J. Sevell
It may be interesting to place on record some of the reasons for the
presence of large numbers of "British-born" people in this State,
many of whom are found in the immediate neighborhood.
Benjamin Disraeli, one time prime minister of England, who never
took a sympathetic look at the sufferings of those warm hearted and
generous Irish people; told the House of Commons that "the reason of
the misery and discontentedness of the Irish was the fact that
Ireland was surrounded by a melancholy ocean," which was a libel
upon one of the most beautiful spots of the world, and the delight
of summer tourists.
Well has it been called "The Emerald
Island," so beautifully green are her pastures, and so fruitful her
soil that no butter is so good as the Irish, and no bacon so
excellent as that which bears the Hibernian brand. No! It was not
"the melancholy ocean," it was the deep poverty of her people
induced by absentee landlords and their local agents too ready to
carry out their unreasonable behests.
The disease was "land
hunger," the life and labor spent without hope of ever owning for
themselves a bit of "God's-out-of-doors," and having to live in
dwellings that were a disgrace to civilization Hence their desire to
get a better country and their quick response to the friendly
invitation of Uncle Sam.
The same difficulties obtain to a
serious extent in Scotland. The case of Scotland shows the same
longings on the part of farm workers and tenant farmers for better
conditions. The eviction, some years back, of the Crofters peasant
agriculturalists, who, for many years had lived a quiet, contented
life in their small holdings which from father to son they had
cultivated for generations, and who were ruthlessly turned adrift
and the land suffered to go uncultivated because it was more
profitable to create a wilderness for the grouse that wealthy
aristocrats of England and America might use these acres for their
noble sport, created great indignation.
Scotland was the
country where former governments looked for their tallest and finest
soldiers; but today, alas! There is a poor supply of those kilted
giants, for along the years the United States and Canada have been
enriched by the incoming of these the choicest sons of the soil, and
they have made a happy exchange of countries.
from an old friend, the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Martin, pastor of the
Adelaide-place Baptist Church, Glasgow, a letter in which he says:
"I have now been twenty three years in my Glasgow pastorate and have
had much blessing in my work, having received no less than 715
members in that time. The church does not increase, always about 550
members, death and emigration taking so many away every year. The
latter cause raises a serious question in Scotland now, the
population having decreased by 300, 000 in ten years since the
census of 1901, in this interesting, but small country."
when we come to England we are confronted with laws and customs that
for many years have operated against the farm hands and the tenant
farmer. Seeing that land that was not cultivated was not taxed, it
encouraged the owners of immense tracts of land in letting it remain
without cultivation as it would enable them to enjoy to the
uttermost their sport in shooting and hunting, and the entertainment
of their friends, thus adding to their social and political
prestige, regardless of the fact of the fruitfulness of the English
soil, and the dependence of the country for it bread upon supplies
from other lands.
The condition of the agricultural worker
has been a standing evil for many years although it is now not quite
so bad as it used to be and yet it is a perplexing problem to
thoughtful people how a man can keep wife and family upon four
dollars a week.
Can you wonder that when such conditions
prevailed and these sons of hopeless toil heard of the land across
the Atlantic where with ordinary care and industry they would be
able to satisfy the natural craving of their hearts for fair wages
and a chance in a few years to possess acres of soil which they
could call their own "a good land and a large," and under a
Government that recognized the scripture doctrine that while "The
Heavens even the Heaven of Heavens are the Lord's, yet the earth he
hath given to the children of men," and were doing their best to
bring the land and the toiler together, is it any wonder that
multitudes would hear that call as they have done to the benefit of
themselves and the land of their adoption.
But when we come
to England itself, we find a country which with so much in its
government that is excellent, yet, has for generations retained upon
its statute books laws more adapted to feudal times than to the
demands and aspirations of the present age; and also unwritten laws
or customs which are in direct opposition to the just requirements
of its rural workers and tenant farmers without capital.
bad and inadequate are the laws relating to the land that the
British Government led by Lloyd George the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, had promised before the outbreak of the present war, that
the next session of Parliament should be devoted to the work of
reform of the land laws, and helping of rural workers and tenant
farmers, that the former might enjoy an adequate wage and housing,
with such a portion of mother earth as would enable him to keep pigs
or a cow, and raise his own vegetables, and that the latter, the
tenant farmer, might be able to acquire at a fair price, with the
assistance of the government, the land on which he works, fixity of
tenure, fair treatment under the game laws, and compensation for
improvements in the event of his leaving the land which he is
Under favorable conditions the many thousands of
acres that remain uncultivated would go into cultivation, and in the
home fields might be retained sufficient men of that quality that
have shown and are showing in this country what the persistent and
intelligent agriculturist can do when he has a fair field and no
It is pleasant to record that something in the right
direction has already been effected, and even in Ireland, we are
told, that prosperity has begun to appear, and that it is easier
today to purchase a piece of land than it is in the country from
whence they have been governed, but whose government, under the Home
Rule Bill (which will soon be operative) will be much more fair and
equitable, so that the best results may be expected.
to the credit of the present liberal government that already a sum
of money amounting to two million five hundred thousand dollars has
been set aside for the eraction of farm workers cottages, as, at the
present time many workers are obliged to walk miles before they can
get to their day's work, because of the reluctance of the
proprietors of the land to provide suitable homes for the laboring
classes, and because, forsooth, it might increase somewhat the
amount that they, the owners, might have to pay in taxation!
"Is there not a cause?" was the question that David put when he
expressed his purpose to go and meet in battle the philistine giant.
And the same question might be asked in view of the millions
of Britain's inhabitants who have left their native land to find in
the "land of the brave and home of the free" the life for which they
Discontented they were at home, and it was a "Divine
discontent," and the welcome they received and the advantages they
gained well repaid them for the hardships which they endured, and of
them it may be truly said, "they came, they saw, they conquered."
But still they love the land from whence they came; and much they
rejoice in the fact that the old conditions which drive them to
these hospitable shores are likely to pass away.
in their courses fought against Sisera," and the course of events in
the old country all tend toward the elimination of those evils under
which they suffered and the consummation of that, which they as
lovers of civil and religious liberty desire.
forgets "Punch's" comic cartoon which pictured "Mrs. Gamp" trying to
sweep back the waves of the Atlantic Ocean with her broom. There
comes a time when providence opens up a way through difficulties
before deemed insuperable, when to the leading reformers of a nation
there comes again the old command, "Speak unto the people that they
Pioneers of Fillmore and Adjoining
Source: Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining
Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter,
Sites I Like To Visit
Broken Line or Submit
Please let us know if one of our links don't work or you
would like to add your site to our pages!!