The following extract is from Sister Mary Frances Cusack’s book ‘An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800’ published in 1868.
‘’The letter given below, which is from the pen of a distinguished Protestant clergyman, appears to me of such importance, that I place it here to be a permanent record for the future historian of Ireland, as an important opinion on the present history of this country, but too well supported by facts.’’
TO ISAAC BUTT, ESQ., LL.D.
My Dear Butt,-If every other man in the world entertained doubts of my sincerity, you, at least, would give me credit for honesty and just intentions. I write to you accordingly, because my mind has been stirred to its inmost depths by the perusal of your address in my native city of Limerick. I do not regard the subject of your address as a political one. It ought to be regarded solely as a question of humanity, common sense, and common honesty. I wish my lot had never been cast in rural places. As a clergyman, I hear what neither landlords nor agents ever heard. I see the depression of the people; their sighs and groans are before me. They are brought so low as often to praise and glorify those whom, in their secret hearts, are the objects of abhorrence. All this came out gradually before me. Nor did I feel as I ought to have felt as I ought to have felt in their behalf, until, in my own person and purse, I became the victim of a system of tyranny which cries from earth to heaven for relief. Where do I narrate my own story, it would startle many of the Protestants of Ireland. There are good landlords-never a better than the late Lord Downshire, or the living and beloved Lord Roden. But there are too many of another state of feeling and action. There are estates in the north where the screw is never withdrawn from its circuitous and oppressive work. Tenant-right is an unfortunate and delusive affair, simply because it is invariably used to the landlord’s advantage. Here we have an election in prospect, and in many counties no farmer will be permitted to think or act for himself. What right any one man has to demand the surrender of another’s vote I never could see. It is an act of sheer felony-a perfect ‘’stand –and –deliver’’ affair. To hear a man slavishly and timorously, say, ‘’I must give my vote as the landlord wishes.’’ Is an admission that the Legislature, which bestowed the right of voting on the tenant, should not see him robbed of his right, or subsequently scourged or banished from house and land, because he disregarded a landlord’s nod, or the menace of a land-agent. At no little hazard of losing the friendship of some who are high, and kind, I write as I now do.
Yours, my dear Butt, very sincerely,
Dundrum, Cough, Co. Down.