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CONDUCT OF MR HEALY.
I deemed it prudent to move the men into the square, with their backs to the courthouse, thus putting the mob between us and the river. Loud curses were raised for the Queen, sticks nourished in the air, and the people, some thousands in number, pressed on the police, bringing, in some instances, their pikes even up to the men's breasts. The county inspector ordered swords to be "fixed," and matters were looking so serious, that I stood out in front, and taking off my hat, read the Riot Act in a loud voice. Mr Healy, M.P., Mr Davitt, several priests, and press reporters then passed away in the brake. Turning to Mr Healy, I said that if I found him addressing another meeting that day in Drogheda, I would have him arrested. Mr Healy subsequently attacked me in the House of Commons, insisting that I had threatened to shoot him if I met him again. I really believe he thought the latter expression was used, for he made direct for the railway station, I was informed, and left the town.
DISPERSION OF THE LEAGUERS. 21
The mob, with bands and banners, attempted to parade the streets; but as it was getting dark, and there was every indication of a very lawless spirit being in the ascendant, we succeeded in dividing the Land Leaguers in half, made them furl their flags, and disperse to their homes. The public-houses were closed, and by patient exertion on the part of the police the town soon resumed its ordinary appearance. That night I remained at the hotel where the Land League committee dined in honour of its defeat. I received a letter from the secretary, asking me to join them at dinner, to meet Mr Davitt, an invitation I was unable to accept.
In effectually protecting a Land League meeting at Saintfield and in dispersing one at Drogheda, in accordance with the instructions of the Government, it cannot be said at least that in the performance of two unpleasant duties there was any display of partiality on my part. The Irish Government highly commended the course pursued at both. The 22
AN IMPARTIAL POLICY.
approval of the Land League was only extended to that adopted at Saintfield, for my action at which the Orangemen hooted me, though they warmly applauded my proceedings at Drogheda.
TRANSFERRED TO LONGFORD. 23
TRANSFERRED FROM BELFAST TO CO. LONGFORD—DESCRIPTION OF LONGFORD—DRUMLISH AND LORD GRANARD'S TENANTS —PROCESS-SERVERS AND POLICE DEFEATED BY THE MOB— FIRMNESS ESSENTIAL IN DEALING WITH THE IRISH—ORDINARY LAW SHOULD BE ENFORCED ARREST AND TRIAL OF
RIOTERS AT DRUMLISH—DEFENCE OF PRISONERS BY PARISH PRIEST—DISCHARGE OF PRISONERS—RINGLEADERS COMMITTED FOR TRIAL—DIFFICULTY OF BAILSMEN—A GENTLEMAN FROM DUBLIN—CORRUPTION AND INTIMIDATION OF JURIES —ORDER RESTORED IN LONGFORD—GREAT ASSISTANCE RENDERED BY BISHOP AND PRIESTS OF CO. LONGFORD.
At the end of January 1881 I received instructions from the Government to proceed to and assume charge of the county of Longford. The Land League had there been established for some little time, the consequence being that a portion of the county was in a state little short of open revolt, while generally the law was trampled under foot. The town of Longford, in which I took up my temporary 24 THE LAND LEAGUE AT LONGFOBD.
residence, is one of the common type of dismal, dirty, Irish county towns; and had it not been for the kindness shown me by the owners of Castle Forbes, in the immediate vicinity, and by the officers of the 1st Royal Dragoons quartered in the town, the four months I spent there would have indeed been very dreary ones. It appeared that Lord Granard owned considerable property in an adjacent part of the county, known by the name of Drumlish. He was a resident landlord, of the same religion as the people, by whom he was much and deservedly respected. The inhabitants of Drumlish, however, were unquestionably poor, the land upon which they lived being somewhat unproductive. Lord Granard, by mistaken kindness, had allowed the Drumlish tenants to get many years in arrears. A tenant in Ireland should not be asked to pay as rent what is more than reasonable and just; but once the sum is agreed upon, it should be paid upon the day it becomes due, otherwise, with each day's delay