The Rights of Man is a doctrine popularised by the bourgeois (capitalist) philosophers of the eighteenth century, and has no place in Socialist literature. Although Father Kane is kind enough to credit Socialism with the doctrine, it is in reality the child of that capitalist class he is defending, and was first used by them as a weapon in their fight for power against the kings and hierarchy of France. Now that capitalism has attained to power and made common cause with its old enemies, royalty and hierarchy, it would fain disavow much of the teaching of its earlier days, and hence listens complacently whilst Father Kane attacks the Rights of Man, and sneers at the ‘mob’, as he elegantly terms the common people for whom his Master died upon the Cross. We do not propose to follow the reverend gentlemen in all his excursions away from the subject, but shall content ourselves with citing and refuting those passages which have a real and permanent bearing upon the question at issue.
Man’s right to live is also the right to take the means wherewith to live. Hence he can make use of such material means as are necessary in order that he should live. But he cannot make use of certain necessary means if others may use them also. Hence his right to use these means is at the same time a right to exclude others from their use. If a man has a right to eat a definite piece of bread, he has a right that no one else shall eat it. We will set this truth in another light. The right of private ownership may be considered either in the abstract, or as it is realised in concrete form. That right in the abstract means that by the very law of nature there is inherent in man a right to take hold of and apply for his own support those material means of livelihood which are not already in the right possession of another man. What those particular means are is not decided in the concrete by Nature’s law. Nature gives the right to acquire, and by acquiring to own. But some partial fact is required in order to apply that abstract law to a concrete thing. The fact is naturally the occupying or taking hold of, or entering into possession of, a thing, by which practical action the abstract law of Nature becomes realised in a concrete practical fact. With this, or upon this, follows another right of man, the right to own his labour and the right to what his labour does. Furthermore, this right to exclusive personal ownership is not restricted to the means of one’s daily bread from day to day; it is a right to be secure against want, when the needed means may not be at hand. The man who has tilled a field through the winter and spring has a right to hold as his own the harvest which he has earned. Hence the right of ownership is by Nature’s law not merely passing, but permanent; it does not come and go at haphazard; it is stable. Hear the teaching of Pope Leo XIII in his Pontifical explanation of this point (Encyclical on Labour):
The Socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, endeavour to destroy private property, and maintain that personal property should become the common property of all. They are emphatically unjust, because they would rob the lawful possessor … If one man hires out to another his strength or his industry, he does this in order to receive in return the means of livelihood, with the intention of acquiring a real right, not merely to his wage, but also to the free disposal of it. Should he invest this wage in land it is only his wage in another form …
It is precisely in this power of disposal that ownership consists, whether it be question of land or other property. Socialists … strike at the liberty of every wage-earner, for they deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages. Every man has, by the law of Nature, the right to possess property of his own …
It must be within his right to own things, not merely for the use of the moment, not merely things that perish in their use, but such things whose usefulness is permanent and stable … Man is prior to the state, and he holds his natural rights prior to any right of the State …
When man spends the keenness of his mind and the strength of his body in winning the fruits of Nature, he thereby makes his own that spot of Nature’s field which he tills, that spot on which he sets the seal of his own personality. It cannot but be just that that spot should be his own, free from outside intrusion …
If one of the boys at the National Schools could not reason more logically than that he would remain in the dunce’s seat all his schooldays. Imagine a priest who defends landlordism as Father Kane and the Pope does saying, “The man who has tilled a field through the winter and spring has a right to hold as his own the harvest which he has earned”, and imagining that he is putting forward an argument against Socialism. Socialists do not propose to interfere with any man’s right “to hold what he has earned”; but they do emphatically insist that such a man, peasant or worker, shall not be compelled to give up the greater part, or any, of “what he has earned”, to an idle class whose members “toil not, neither do they spin”, but who have attained their hold upon the nation’s property by ruthless force, spoliation and fraud.
Man’s right to live is also the right to take the means wherewith to live.
His right to use these means is at the same time a right to exclude others from their use.
That is to say, that a man has the right to take the means wherewith to live, and he has also the right to prevent other men taking the means wherewith to live. The one right cancels the other. When the supply of a thing is limited, and that thing is necessary, absolutely necessary, to existence, as is land, water, and the means of producing wealth, does it not follow that to allow those things to be made private property enable the owners of them to deny Man ‘the right to live’, except he agrees to surrender the greater portion of the fruits of his toil to the owners? Capitalism and Landlordism are based upon the denial to Man of his right to live except as a dependent upon Capitalists and Landlords; they exist by perpetually confiscating the property which the worker has in the fruits of his toil, and establish property for the capitalist by denying it to the labourer. Why talk about the right to live under capitalism? If a man had all the patriotism of a Robert Emmet or a George Washington, if he had all the genius of a Goldsmith or a Mangan, if he had all the religion of a St. Simeon Stylites or a St. Francis d’Assisi, if he belongs to the working class he has no effective right to live in this world unless a capitalist can see his way to make a profit out of him. Translated into actual practice these ‘natural rights’ of which the reverend gentleman discoursed so eloquently mean for 23,000 families in Dublin the right to live in one room per family – living, sleeping, eating and drinking and dying in the narrow compass of the four walls of one room.
“When man spends the keenness of his mind and the strength of his body in winning the fruits of Nature he thereby makes his own that spot of Nature’s field which he tills”, so says his Holiness, as quoted by Father Kane. It follows then that the Irish peasantry, like the peasantry of Europe in general, are and were the real owners of the soil, and that the feudal aristocracy, the landlord class, whose proudest boast it was, and is, that they have never soiled their hands by labour, are and were thieves exacting by force tribute from the lawful owners of the soil. Yet those thieves have ever been supported by the hierarchy in their possession of property against the peasants who had made it their own “by spending the keenness of their mind and the strength of their body” in tilling it.
The working class of the world, by their keenness of mind and their strength of body, have made everything in the world their own – its land, its factories, its ships, its railroads, its houses, everything on earth and sea has been consecrated by the labour of the working class, and therefore belongs to that class; and as factories, ships, railroads and buildings cannot be divided up in pieces, they must be owned in common. If land belongs to those who have tilled it, by what means, other than common ownership, shall we re-establish the right of that seventy-five per cent. of the Irish people who, according to Mulhall, were evicted between 1837 and 1887, or of those agricultural labourers who toil upon the land but own no one foot of it, or of all those labourers in towns and cities whose forefathers have been hunted like wild beasts from the land they had made their own, by the keenness of mind and strength of body applied to labour, and who are now compelled to herd in towns, dependent upon the greed of capitalists for the chance to exist?
Father Kane, in this portion of his address, came to curse Socialism, but his arguments serve to bless it.
Let me bring from another world – the old Pagan world – the greatest philosopher of pure reason, as witness to the truth of the same principle. Aristotle wrote: “socialism wears a goodly face and affects an air of philanthropy. The moment it speaks it is eagerly listened to. It speaks of a marvellous love that shall grow out from it between man and man. This impression is emphasised when the speaker rails against the shortcomings of existing institutions, giving as the reason for all our shortcomings the fact that we are not Socialists. These evils of human life are not, however, owing to the absence of Socialism, but to the always inevitable presence of human frailty.”
This is a puzzle. The word Socialism, and the Socialist principles, were unheard of until the beginning of the nineteenth century; and Aristotle flourished in the year 384 B.C. Hence to quote Aristotle as writing about Socialism is like saying that Owen Roe O’Neill sent a telegram to the Catholic Confederation at Kilkenny in 1647, or that George Washington crossed the Delaware in a flying machine. It is an absurd anachronism. For hundreds of years the works of Aristotle were used to combat Christianity, principally by the Arabians in the Middle Ages, and now the same works are used by a Christian priest to combat Socialism. Truly “misfortune makes strange bedfellows!”
Father Kane says:
We will go back to the old Greek philosopher, Aristotle, the philosopher compared to whom our Kant, Hegel, Comte, Hobbes and Locke are merely dreaming boys or blundering students. Aristotle founded his philosophy on fact, and worked it out through common sense. Our modern philosophers, with marvellous talent, evolve their principles out of their own inner consciousness, and ground their conclusions on their own mental mood.
In a criticism of Draper’s Conflict between Religion and Science, published by the Catholic Truth Society as the report of a lecture delivered in Cork and Limerick by the Rev. Dr. O’Riordan, the author says, “Owing to the use which the Arabians had made of the name of Aristotle, his name had become a word of offence to Christians, so much so that even Roger Bacon said that his works should be burnt”; and further on, “St. Thomas (Aquinas) took up the philosophy of Aristotle and, purifying it of its Pagan errors, he established Christian truth out of the reasoning of the Greek philosopher”. So that, according to Father Kane, Aristotle “founded his philosophy on fact, and worked it out through common sense”, and according to Dr. O’Riordan this philosophy of fact and common sense was subversive of Christianity until it was “purified of its Pagan errors”. Well, we Socialists, while second to none in our admiration for the encyclopaedic knowledge of Aristotle, will carry the purifying process begun by St. Thomas Aquinas a step further. We will purify Aristotle’s philosophy of the teaching he derived from the slave-world in which he lived, and make it Socialistic. Let us remind Father Kane that Aristotle’s mind was so completely dominated by his economic environment that he was unable to conceive of a world in which there would be no chattel slaves, and so declared that slaves must always exist. A prophecy now falsified for hundreds of years.
We do not propose to follow the reverend gentleman in his wonderful attempt to discredit the Marxist position on value; that has been dealt with sufficiently already in the passage upon value in exchange, in the criticism of the first discourse, and the attempt to elaborate his position by our opponent in his second discourse is about as enlightening as an attempt to square the circle generally is. It is summed up in his declaration that “Labour alone cannot create use value, therefore Labour alone cannot constitute exchange value”. Which is equivalent to saying that appetite and desire are the real arbiters in civilised life and under normal conditions of the basis on which articles exchange among human beings. The appetite and desire of human beings for water and for bicycles will illustrate to the simplest mind the absurdity of our opponents’ position. Water under normal conditions in a modern community will not fetch a half-penny the bucketful, but bicycles retail easily at £7 and £8 apiece. Yet our desire and appetite for water is based upon a human necessity so imperative that we would die without its satisfaction, but countless millions go through life without even straddling a bicycle. What makes so cheap the article without which we would die? The small amount of labour necessary to convey it from the mountains to our doors, of course. And what makes so costly the article that is not a necessity at all? The comparatively great amount of labour embodied in its production, of course. Then, what fixes the exchange value of an article in the normal, modern market? Its cost in labour, certainly.
It is contrary to Divine Law even to covet our neighbour’s field. The Church of Christ has always approved, both in principle and in practice, of private and personal property. It is utterly and irreconcilably against the teaching of the Catholic Church to deny man’s right to hold personal property, even independently of the sanction of the State, or to brand such ownership as theft. Pope Leo XIII wrote:
Christian democracy, by the very fact that it is Christian, must be based upon the principles of Divine Faith in its endeavours for the betterment of the masses. Hence to Christian democracy justice is sacred. It must maintain that the right of acquiring and possessing property cannot be gainsaid, and it must safeguard the various distinctions and degrees which are indispensable in every well-ordered commonwealth. It is clear, therefore, that there is nothing common between Social and Christian democracy. They differ from each other as much as the sect of Socialism differs from the Church of Christ.
Dear, oh dear! What heretics we must be! And yet we are in good company. Saints and Pontiffs of the Catholic Church have gone before us on this road, and the wildest sayings of modern Socialist agitators are soft and conservative beside some of the doctrines which ere now have been put forth as sound Catholic teachings. Read:
“The use of all things that are found in this world ought to be common to all men. Only the most manifest iniquity makes one say to the other, ‘This belongs to me, that to you’. Hence the origin of contention among men.” – St. Clement.
“What thing do you call ‘yours’? What thing are you able to say is yours? From whom have you received it? You speak and act like one who upon an occasion going early to the theatre, and possessing himself without obstacle of the seats destined for the remainder of the public, pretends to oppose their entrance in due time, and to prohibit them seating themselves, arrogating to his own sole use property that is really destined to common use. And it is precisely in this manner act the rich”. – St. Basil the Great.
“Therefore if one wishes to make himself the master of every wealth, to possess it and to exclude his brothers even to the third or fourth part (generation), such a wretch is no more a brother but an inhuman tyrant, a cruel barbarian, or rather a ferocious beast of which the mouth is always open to devour for his personal use the food of the other companions.” – St. Gregory. Nic.
“Nature furnishes its wealth to all men in common. God beneficently has created all things that their enjoyment be common to all living beings, and that the earth become the common possession of all. It is Nature itself that has given birth to the right of the community, whilst it is only unjust usurpation that has created the right of private poverty.” – St. Ambrose.
“The earth of which they are born is common to all, and therefore the fruit that the earth brings forth belongs without distinction to all”. – St. Gregory the Great.
“The rich man is a thief”. – St. Chrysostom.
Our reverend critic proceeds:
To enchain men with fetters of equality would be to degrade the wise, the good, the energetic, the noble amongst them, to the depths of the men who are nearest to the brute. Freedom must have fair play. Man must be free to make and mould his own life according to his own talent, his own opportunity, his own energy, his own ambition, his own merit, and his own will, according to the circumstances in which Providence has placed him. But you say is it not a pity that, owing to the mere accident of birth, a brainless and worthless creature should wear a ducal crown, while a man of mind and character is sweeping the crossing of a street? Yes, to merely human view it is a pity, just as it is a pity that one girl should be born beautiful while another girl is born ugly; just as it is a pity that one man should be born weak-minded and weak-kneed while another man is born with a treasure-trove of talent and with a golden mine of sterling character; just as it is a pity that one more man, by the accident of birth, is born to be himself. There is accident all round, if you wish to call it accident. No man deserves what he gets with him when he is born into the world, and no man has deserved anything different. What you may, perhaps, call accident I call Providence. We do not choose our own lot; it is given to us. It is our duty to make the best we can of it.
The first part of this is clap-trap: the second is rank blasphemy. The clap-trap consists in the pretence that the Socialist idea of equality involves the idea that men should be reduced to one moral or intellectual level. Trade unionists are generally and rightfully in favour of a minimum wage – a wage below which no worker shall be depressed. Unscrupulous employers and ignorant journalists and politicians dealing with this demand strive to make the thoughtless believe that a minimum wage will prevent higher wages being paid for extra skill. In other words, they speak as if it were a maximum wage that was demanded. So with the Socialist idea of equality. Like the trade unionist our demand is for a level below which no man shall be driven, a common basis of equality of opportunity to all. That whatever promotion, distinction, reward or honour be given to or attained by a man shall not confer upon him the right to exploit, to degrade, to dominate, to rob or humiliate his fellows. And our hope and belief is that in the future, sane men and women will find as much delight in, strive as eagerly for, the honour of serving their fellows as they do now for the privilege of plundering them. Men and women are at all times zealous for honour, for the esteem of their fellows; and when the hope of plunder is removed out of the field of human possibility those specially gifted ones who now exhaust their genius in an effort to rule, will as vehemently exert themselves to win the honour accorded to those who serve.
The second part is, we repeat, rankly blasphemous. The reverend gentleman, unable to answer the obvious question he supposes, attempts to draw an analogy between what he would call the “hand of God” in shaping the faces, forms, minds and characters of His creatures, and the historical and social conditions which have created dukes and crossing-sweepers, brainless aristocrats and intelligent slum-dwellers, morally poisonous kings and Christian-minded hod-carriers, vile ladies idling in mansions and clean-souled women slaving over the washtub. The attempt is an insult to our intelligence. We, as individuals, are not personally responsible for our faces, forms or minds; these are the result of forces over which we had and have no control. But the gross injustices of our social system we are responsible for, in the degree in which we help or acquiesce in their perpetuation. In the degree in which we support them to-day we become participators in the crimes upon which they were built. And what were those crimes? Need we remind our readers of the origin of private property in Ireland? It had its root in the adulterous treason of an Irish chief; it was founded upon the betrayal of liberty, and enforced by the wholesale slaughter and enslavement of the Irish people. Must we remind our readers that if they seek for the origin of aristocratic property in Ireland they must seek for it not in the will of a beneficent Deity, as this bold blasphemer alleges, nor in titles won by honest labour on the soil, but in the records of English marauders in the stories of poisonings and treacheries told in the state papers of the English ruling class, in the light of the burning homes of Munster in the wake of the armies of Inchiquin , in the despatches of the English nobleman who boasted to Elizabeth that his army had left in Ulster “nothing save carcases and ashes”, in the piteous tale of the imprisoned jurors of Connaught  who refused to perjure themselves and yield up Irish tribe lands to greedy aristocratic thieves from England, or in the log of the emigrant ships, whose course across the Atlantic was marked by the floating corpses of hunted Irishmen, Irish women and Irish children.
Or shall it be necessary to recall to our readers the grim fact that the origin of great estates in England is found in the court records, which tell us that in the reign of Good Queen Bess, 72,000 workers were hanged in the name of law and order, hanged as vagrants after they had been driven off the lands they had tilled; that during the peasant wars of Germany the nobility slaughtered so many poor peasants that one of the aristocracy eventually called a halt, saying, “If we kill them all we shall have no one to live upon”; that in Scotland 15,000 people were evicted off one estate in the nineteenth century – the Sutherland clearances; that in fact in every European country the title deeds to aristocratic property have been written in the blood of the poor, and that the tree of capitalism has been watered with the tears of the toilers in every age and clime and country.
Next, wonder of wonders, our clerical friend becomes solicitous for a free press and free speech. He declares:
In Socialism there could be no healthy public opinion, no public opinion at all except that manufactured by officialdom or that artificially cultivated by the demagogues of the mob. There could be no free expression of free opinion. The press would be only the press of the officials. Printing machines, publishing firms, libraries, public halls, would be the exclusive property of the state. We do not indeed advocate utter licence for the press, but we do advocate its legitimate liberty. There would be no liberty of the press under Socialism; no liberty even of speech, for the monster machine of officialdom would grind out all opposition – for the monster machine would be labelled, ‘The Will of the People’, and ‘The Will of the People’ would be nothing more than the whim of the tyrant mob, the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all, because blindly led by blind leaders. Brave men fear no foe, and free men will brook no fetter. You will have thought, in your boyhood, with hot tears, of the deeds of heroes who fought and fell in defence of the freedom of their fatherland. That enthusiasm of your boyhood will have become toned down with maturer years in its outward expression, but mature years will have made it more strong and staunch for ever, more ready to break forth with all the energy of your life and with all the sacrifice of your death in defiance of slavery. You may have rough times to face; you may have rough paths to tread, you may have hard taskmasters to urge you toil, and hard paymasters to stint your wage; you may have hard circumstances to limit your life within a narrow field; but after all your life is your own, and your home is your own, and your wage is your own, and you are free. Freedom is your birthright. Even our dilapidated modern nations allow to a man his birthright – freedom. You would fight for your birthright, freedom, against any man, against any nation, against the world; and if you could not live for your freedom, you would die for it. You would not sell your birthright, freedom, to Satan; and I do not think that you are likely to surrender your birthright, freedom, to the Socialist. Stand back! We are free men. Stand back, Socialist! God has given us the rights of man, to our own life, to our own property, to our own freedom. We will take our chance in the struggle of life. We may have a hard time or a good time, we may be born lucky or unlucky, but we are free men. Stand back, Socialist! God has given us our birthright, freedom, and, by the grace of God, we will hold to it in life and in death.
After you have done laughing at this hysterical outburst we will proceed to calmly discuss its central propositions. To take the latter part first, it is very amusing to hear a man, to whom a comfortable living is assured, assure us that we ought to tell the Socialist that “we will take our chance in the struggle of life”.
He speaks of our “birthright, freedom”, which is allowed us even by dilapidated modern nations, and that we ought not to surrender it to the Socialists. In Ireland 87 per cent. of the working class earn less than 20s. per week; in London a million of people, according to the non-Socialist investigator, Charles Booth, live below the poverty line – never getting enough to eat; in all civilisation, according to Huxley, the lot of the majority of the working class is less desirable than the lot of the mere savage; and this awful condition of the only class in society that is really indispensable is the result of the capitalist system, which mocks the workers with a theoretical freedom and an actual dependence. The freedom of the worker is freedom to sell himself into slavery to the class which controls his supply of food; he is free as the wayside traveller is free of clothes after highwaymen have robbed and stripped him. Says well the poet Shelley:
What is Freedom? Ye can tell
That which slavery is too well,
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
‘Tis to work, and have such pay,
As just keeps life, from day to day,
In your limbs as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell.
How can a person, or a class, be free when its means of life are in the grasp of another? How can the working class be free when the sole chance of existence of its individual members depends upon their ability to make a profit for others?
The argument about the freedom of the press – a strange argument from such a source – is too absurd to need serious consideration. Truly, all means of printing will be the common property of all, and if any opposition party, any new philosophy, doctrine, science, or even hair-brained scheme has enough followers to pay society for the labour of printing its publications, society will have no more right nor desire to refuse the service than a government of the present day has to refuse the use of its libraries to the political enemies who desire to use those sources of knowledge to its undoing. It will be as possible to hire a printing machine from the community as it will be to hire a hall. Under Socialism the will of the people will be supreme, all officials will be elected from below and hold their position solely during good behaviour, and as the interests of private property, which according to St. Clement are the sole origin of contention among men, will no longer exist, there will be little use of law-making machinery, and no means whereby officialdom can corrupt the people.
This will be the rule of the people at last realised. But says Father Kane, at last showing the cloven foot, “the will of the people would be nothing more than the whim of the tyrant mob, the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all, because blindly led by blind leaders”. Spoken like a good Tory and staunch friend of despotism! What is the political and social record of the mob in history as against the record of the other classes? There was a time, stretching for more than a thousand years, when the mob was without power or influence, when the entire power of the governments of the world was concentrated in the hands of the kings, the nobles and the hierarchy. That was the blackest period in human history. It was the period during which human life was not regarded as being of as much value as the lives of hares and deer; it was the period when freedom of speech was unknown, when trial by jury was suppressed, when men and women were tortured to make them confess crimes before they were found guilty, when persons obnoxious to the ruling powers were arrested and kept in prison (often for a lifetime) without trial; and it was the period during which a vindictive legal code inflicted the death penalty for more than one hundred and fifty offences – when a boy was hung for stealing an apple, a farmer for killing a hare on the roadside. It was during this undisturbed reign of the kings, the nobles, and the hierarchy that religious persecutions flourished, when Protestants killed Catholics, Catholics slaughtered Protestants, and both hunted Jews, when man “;made in God’s image” murdered his fellow-man for daring to worship God in a way different from that of the majority; it was then that governments answered their critics by the torture, when racks and thumbscrews pulled apart the limbs of men and women, when political and religious opponents of the state had their naked feet and legs placed in tin boots of boiling oil, their heads crushed between the jaws of a vice, their bodies stretched across a wheel while their bones were broken by blows of an iron bar, water forced down their throats until their stomachs distended and burst, and when little children toiled in mine and factory for twelve, fourteen and sixteen hours per day. But at last, with the development of manufacturing, came the gathering together of the mob, and consequent knowledge of its numbers and power, and with the gathering together also came the possibility of acquiring education. Then the mob started upon its upward march to power – a power only to be realised in the Socialist Republic. In the course of that upward march the mob has transformed and humanised the world. It has abolished religious persecution and imposed toleration upon the bigots of all creeds; it has established the value of human life, softened the horrors of war as a preliminary to abolishing it, compelled trial by jury, abolished the death penalty for all offences save one, and in some countries abolished it for all; and to-day it is fighting to keep the children from the factory and mine, and put them to school. The mob, “the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all”, with one sweep of its grimy, toil-worn hand, swept the stocks, the thumbscrew, the wheel, the boots of burning oil, the torturer’s vice and the stake into the oblivion of history, and they who to-day would seek to view those arguments of kings, nobles, and ecclesiastics must seek them in the lumber room of the museum.
In this civilising, humanising work the mob had at all times to meet and master the hatred and opposition of kings and nobles; and there is not in history a record of any movement for abolishing torture, preventing war, establishing popular suffrage, or shortening the hours of labour led by the hierarchy. Against all this achievement of the mob its enemies have but one instance of abuse of power – the French reign of terror – and they suppress the fact that this classic instance of mob fury lasted but eight months, whereas the cold-blooded cruelty of the ruling classes which provoked it had endured for a thousand years.
All hail, then, to the mob, the incarnation of progress!
1. Inchiquin was an Irish apostate in the service of the English. Taken as a hostage into England when a child he was reared up in hatred of the religion and people of his fathers. As an English general in the Irish rebellion of 1641 he became infamous for his cruelties and purposeless massacres; the march of his armies could always be traced by the fire and smoke from burning homes and villages.
2. The English Government under Charles I appointed a ‘Commission to inquire into defective titles’ in Connaught. As all lands in Ireland under the ancient Celtic system were common property it followed that all Irish titles were defective under the feudal law of England. Much land fell into the hands of the English adventurers under this ‘Commission’, and when the Irish juries refused to be bribed or terrorised into returning verdicts to suit the Commissioners they were promptly imprisoned and their property confiscated.