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move, even more than does systematic oppression, the wrath of a Celtic race, was shot dead as he was bolting the door of his house. Mr. Vandeleur's family fled in terror from the mansion, and took refuge in Limerick. That gentleman himself courageously resolved to act at once. He found at Manchester a like-minded coadjutor in the person of a Mr. Craig, who undertook to act as organizing secretary to the association which we are about to describe. Mr. Craig, whose first business it was to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the people, found his part in nowise enviable. He was a stranger and a Sassenach, and, therefore, a natural object of suspicion. It was hinted to him by those unmistakeable symptoms which the Irish peasant is accustomed to employ on such occasions; that he was likely to share the fate of Hastings. Neither he, however, nor his master was daunted ; and, in November, 1831, the experiment was begun. The whole population living on the estate, and some neighbours who, it is to be presumed, were connected with it, were assembled in public meeting to deliberate on a proposal from Mr. Vandeleur that they should form themselves into an association, which should be called “ The Ralahine Agricultural and Manufacturing Co-operative Association.” The meeting lasted for three days, not, as we may gather from the account, without some stormy debate. Finally it was proposed and settled that every person wishing to become a meinber of the association should be balloted for by the assembly, and should be rejected if he failed to obtain a majority of votes. Mr. Craig himself submitted to the ordeal; but the meeting was satisfied with the concession of power, and no one was rejected. The members admitted on this occasion are thus described :
Mr. Pare subjoins to this table the remark that out " of the foregoing there were only eighteen efficient labouring men;" but eighteen in fifty-two, or something near one in three, is not by any means an unfavourable proportion. Professor Kirk,* of Edinburgh,
* “ Social Politics," p. 120.
calculates that “the productive workmen above twenty years of age”
-a phrase which must mean much the same as Mr. Pare's “ efficient working men"-number about one in five of the total population, and adds that “one able-bodied man can produce easily for seven or even for nine persons.” At Ralahine, therefore, the number of unproductive persons was exceptionally small. Most of the women seem to have earned wages. In fact, according to a return given on p. 34, referring to a time when the population had much increased, all of them did so, and at the close of the experiment there were only two who did not. The labour of the young people between the years of seventeen and nine was reckoned, as we shall shortly see, to pay for their support, so that there remain as dead weight on the community, only the five infants, a number, it may be remarked by the way, most surprisingly small to be divided among seven Irish couples. That there was not a systematic exclusion of unproductive members from the association may be held to be proved by the fact that an aged widow, “ fit only to look after the poultry," with six children, one of them deformed and feeble, was admitted at the first ballot. Yet we find it mentioned as a remarkable fact that one of the new members admitted afterwards had a wife and four children. “The chief reason for accepting this family," writes Mr. Pare, “was that the man was a good and steady labourer.” And it seems clear, on the whole, that the community was in a very favourable condition as regards its labouring power. This fact must be remembered when we consider the economical value of the experiment. The most improvident benefit club is prosperous as long as its members are young, and a village in which a family of four children was exceptionally large would certainly present much less than the average amount of distress.
To the association thus formed Mr. Vandeleur agreed to lease his estate of Ralahine, containing 618 acres, thus divided :
The land is said to have been of good quality; the 60 odd acres of bog, otherwise unproductive, performed the important function of supplying the members with fuel. The live-stock on the estate numbered 223 head, the most important part of it being a herd of 37
The whole was valued at £1,500. The buildings consisted of dwelling-houses, the barns, &c., usually required for farm purposes, a
weaving factory and a flax mill, which do not appear to have been used, a threshing mill, &c. These were valued at £1,000. The rent paid, £700, was adequate to the value of the estate, about as much as ordinary agricultural land can be let for in England. £200 additional was charged as interest on the value of the farm-stock, buildings, tools, &c. The only peculiarity in this arrangement was that the rent and interest were to be paid in kind; the quantity being fixed by the average of three years' produce of the estate, and the nominal prices by the average of the Limerick market. The kinds of produce to be delivered to the landlord were not fixed, but, as a matter of fact, during the society's holding they were as follows:
320 barrels of wheat (6,400 stone) at 1s. 6d. per stone £480
160 20 40 60 140
So far, then, the society seems to have had no advantage over ordinary tenants, though their tenure did not continue long enough to bring them into a cycle of adverse seasons. They paid a sufficient rent, and paid it, it is said, with the utmost regularity.
Mr. Vandeleur was made president of the association, and was endowed with considerable power. He could dismiss any member for misconduct. (This privilege, however, was to expire after the first year.) He could veto any proposition, and he appointed the secretary, the treasurer, and the storekeeper.
A constitution was drawn up for the community, of which the most important part is to be found under the head “ Production.” Rules 9—15 run as follows:
“9. We engage that, whatever talents we may individually possess, whether mental or muscular, agricultural, manufacturing, or scientific, shall be devoted to the benefit of all, as well by their immediate exercise in all necessary occupations, as by communicating our knowledge to each other, and particularly to the young.
“ 10. That, as far as can be reduced to practice, each individual shall assist in agricultural operations, particularly in harvest, it being fully understood that no individual is to act as steward, but all are to work.
“ 11. That all the youths, male or female, do engage to learn some useful trade, together with agriculture and gardening, between the ages of nine and seventeen years.
“ 12. That the committee meet every evening, to arrange the business for the following day.
“ 13. That the hours of labour be from six in the morning till six in the evening, in summer, and from daybreak till dusk, in winter, with the intermission of one hour for dinner.
“ 14. That each agricultural labouring man shall receive eightpence, and
every woman fivepence per day for their labour, which it is expected will be laid out at the store in provisions, or any other article the society may produce or keep there ; any other articles may be purchased elsewhere.
“ 15. That no member be expected to perform any service or work but such as is agreeable to his or her feelings, or they are able to perform; but if any member think that any other member is not usefully employing his or her time, it is his or her duty to report it to the committee, whose duty it will be to bring that member's conduct before a general meeting, who will have power, if necessary, to expel that useless member."
A note to Rule 14 informs us that the “eightpence and fivepence paid as daily wages to male and female labourers respectively are the ordinary wages of the country. The sum seems ludicrously small, but it is to be remembered the necessaries of life were very cheap, that potatoes cost only twopence per stone, and milk one penny per quart, that four eggs could be got for a penny, and a pound of mutton for fourpence. To this note there is a significant addition “The secretary, storekeeper, smiths, joiners, and a few others, received something more, the excess being borne by the proprietor.” Rule 10 seems to point to the principle of an absolute equality in the remuneration of labour of all kinds, a system which must have broken down at once if it had not been for the arrangement just mentioned. It is obvious that, whatever may be theoretically right, for the present, and for the future as far as we can see, brain-work will have to be remunerated more highly than the work of the hands, and that no community which ignores the distinction can continue to exist. Every “ Ralahine” cannot count upon having a Mr. Vandeleur to pay for the power which organizes and governs it, and for everything beyond the mere labour which breaks the clod, sows the seed, and gathers in the harvest. In one word, it is impossible to draw any conclusions from the economical success of a society which had the expense of its skilled labour borne for it.
The committee spoken of in Rule 12 was an important institution. It was accustomed to meet every evening for the purpose of allotting the work of the next day, and in doing so gave a careful consideration, not only to the capacities and powers, but also to the tastes and likings of each member. Every man had given him the work which he liked best, and, it may be presumed, could do best. Even under this system, indeed, complaints and heartburnings would arise. For these a safety-valve was provided in a “Suggestion Book.” In this every adult member was invited to enter any complaint or suggestion which he or she had to make. The committee considered these entries, and the result of their consideration was read aloud by the secretary at the weekly meeting of the members. All these arrangements seem excellent and perfectly practicable. Mr. Pare's testimony on these points is worth quoting :
“ This mode [by the action of the committee) of appointing the daily
labour worked well in practice. Those who had witnessed the disorder, the waste of time, the display of bad feelings, and heard the violent language used in the appointment of the men to work before the society was established, would have been astonished and gratified at the change. Usually all went to their occupations without a question being asked, or command given, or complaint made; for all had the opportunity of seeing that fairness and discretion were observed."
The Suggestion Book produced not only content, but positively valuable results. “Very judicious suggestions would be made by men who all their lives previously had been treated as unworthy of a moment's consideration.” The two first rules under the head of “Distribution and Domestic Economy,” are important. "16. That all services usually performed by servants be performed by the youth of both sexes under the age of seventeen
years, either by rotation or by choice.” This was found to work well; it was calculated that the support of this part of the population was paid for by their labour. The arrangement, indeed, would hardly be possible for a more complex condition of society. It must be a very simple diet, such as the people of Ralahine were content with, that can be dealt with by cooks whose age must not exceed seventeen years. Where a variety of food has to be managed nothing can be worse economy than an inexperienced cook. We find, indeed, that the labour of adults was, as a matter of fact, employed in the kitchen. The same remark may be applied with more or less force to other branches of domestic service.
Rule 17 enacts “ That the expenses of the children's food, clothing, washing, lodging, and education, be paid out of the common funds of the society, from the time they are weaned till they arrive at the age of seventeen, when they shall become eligible to become members.”
This, however, was to apply only to such children as should be trained under the common care of the society by persons appointed for such purpose. The maintenance of such as were retained in their parents' houses had to be paid for. Mr. Pare says that these laws were framed for the purpose of securing a superior training of the children, and that they were effectual. The evidence is noteworthy and must be allowed its weight, though it cannot be taken to settle the very perplexed and difficult question in social morals which it raises, whether the best training ground for the young is to be found in the family or what, for want of a more appropriate term, we must call the school. Other regulations were aimed at promoting the common as opposed to the family life; though it may be as well to state, to prevent any possibility of misunderstanding in an important point, that there does not appear to have been any tendency to interfere with the sanctions of family life. Fuel, for instance, consumed in a private house had to be paid for ; whereas it was supplied free of expense to the public rooms, which were used by the un