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the history of Metayer tenancy is so obscure that I certainly

cannot undertake to say that practices answering to those I have

described had not in some countries something to do with its

primitive form。 But the distinctions between the ancient and the

modern tenancies are more important than the analogies。 In

Metayer tenancy a landlord supplies the land and stock; a tenant

the labour only and the skill; but in Saer and Daer…stock tenancy

the land belonged to the tenant。 Again; the effect of the ancient

Irish relation was to produce; not merely a contractual

liability; but a status。 The tenant had his social and tribal

position distinctly altered by accepting stock。 Further; the

acceptance of stock was not always voluntary。 A tribesman; in one

stage of Irish custom at all events; was bound to receive stock

from his own 'King;' or; in other words; from the Chief of his

tribe in its largest extension; and everywhere the Brehon laws

seem to me to speak of the acceptance of stock as a hard

necessity。 Lastly; the Tribe to which the intending tenant

belonged had in some cases a Veto on his adoption of the new

position; which was clearly regarded as a proceeding invasive of

tribal rights and calculated to enfeeble them。 In order to give

the Tribe the opportunity of interposing whenever it had legal

power to do so; the acceptance of stock had to be open and

public; and the consequences of effecting it surreptitiously are

elaborately set forth by the law。 It seems to me clear that it

was discouraged by the current popular morality。 One of those

rules; frequent in ancient bodies of law; which are rather moral

precepts than juridical provisions; declares that 'no man should

leave a rent on his land which he did not find there。'

    The system which I have been describing must have contributed

powerfully to dissolve the more ancient tribal and family

organisation。 If the Chief who gave and the Ceile who accepted

stock belonged to the same Tribe; the effect of the transaction

was to create a relation between them; not indeed altogether

unlike that of tribal connection; but still materially different

from it in many respects and much more to the advantage of the

chieftain。 But the superior from whom a man took stock was not

always the Chief of his own Sept or Tribe。 So far as the Brehon

law can be said to show any favour to the new system of

vassalage; it encourages it between natural chief and natural

tribesman; and; on the other hand; it puts difficulties in its

way when there is an attempt to establish it between a tribesman

and a strange Chief。 But there seem to be abundant admissions

that freemen did occasionally commend themselves in this way to

superiors other than their Chiefs。 avery nobleman; as I said

before; is assumed to be as a rule rich in cattle; and it appears

to have been an object with everyone to disperse his herds by the

practice of giving stock。 The enriched peasant who was on his way

to be ennobled; the Bo…Aire; seems to have had Ceiles who

accepted stock from him; as well as had the nobles higher in

degree。 Accordingly; the new groups formed of the Lord and his

Vassals  if we may somewhat antedate these last words  were

sometimes wholly distinct from the old groups composed of the

Chief and his Clan。 Nor; again; was the new relation confined to

Aires; or noblemen; and Ceiles; or free but non…noble tribesmen。

The Bo…Aire certainly; and apparently the higher Chiefs also;

accepted stock on occasion from chieftains more exalted than

themselves; and in the end to 'give stock' came to mean the same

thing as to assert feudal superiority; and to 'accept stock' the

same thing; which in the language of other societies was called

'commendation。' It is strong evidence of the soundness of the

conclusions reached of late years by historical scholars (and;

among others; by Mr Bryce); as to the deep and wide influence

exercised by the Roman Empire; even in its later form; that (of

course by a fiction) the Brehon law represents the King of

Ireland as 'accepting stock' from the Emperor。 'When the King of

Erin is without opposition'  that is; as the explanation runs;

when he holds the ports of Dublin; Waterford; and Limerick; which

were usually in the hands of the Danes  'he receives stock from

the King of the Romans' (S。 M。; ii。 225)。 The commentary goes on

to say that sometimes' it is by the successor of Patrick that the

stock is given to the King of Erin; 'and this remarkable passage

seems to show that an Irish writer spoke of the successor of St

Patrick; where a writer of the same approximate period in England

or on the European Continent would assuredly have spoken of the


    I hope it is unnecessary for me to insist on the interest

which attaches to this part of the Brehon law; it has been not

uncommon; upon the evidence furnished by the usages of the

Scottish Highlanders; sharply to contrast Celtic tribal customs

with feudal rules; and doubtless between these customs and

feudalism in its perfected state there are differences of the

greatest importance。 Yet; if the testimony of the Brehon tracts

may be trusted; such differences arose; not from essential

distinctions; but; in some measure at all events; from

distinctions of degree in comparative social development。 The

germs of feudalism lay deep in the more ancient social forms; and

were ready to assert their vitality even in a country like

Ireland; which; after it was once Christianised; can have

borrowed next to no institutions from its neighbours; cut off as

it was from the Continent by distance; and from England by

stubborn national repulsion。 It is also worthy of observation

that this natural growth of feudalism was not; as some eminent

recent writers have supposed; entirely distinct from the process

by which the authority of the Chief or Lord over the Tribe or

Village was extended; but rather formed part of it。 While the

unappropriated waste…lands were falling into his domain; the

villagers or tribesmen were coming through natural agencies under

his personal power。

    The Irish practice of 'giving stock' seems to me also to

connect itself with another set of phenomena which have generally

been thought to belong to a very different stage of history。 We

obtain from the law…tracts a picture of an aristocracy of wealth

in its most primitive form; and we see that the possession of

this wealth gave the nobles an immense power over the non…noble

freemen who had nothing but their land。 Caesar seems to me to be

clearly referring to the same state of relations in the Celtic

sister society; when he speaks of the Gaulish chiefs; the

Equites; having one principal source of their influence in the

number of their debtors。 (B。 G。; i。 4; B。 G。; vi。 13。) Now; you

will remember how uniformly; when our knowledge of the ancient

world commences; we find plebeian classes deeply indebted to

aristocratic orders。 At the beginning of Athenian history we find

the Athenian commonalty the bondslaves through debt of the

Eupatrids; at the beginning of Roman history we find the Roman

Commons in money bondage to the Patricians。 The fact has been

accounted for in many ways; and it has been plausibly suggested

that it was the occurrence of repeated bad seasons which placed

the small farmers of the Attic and Roman territory at the mercy

of wealthy nobles。 But the explanation is imperfect unless we

keep in mind the chief lesson of these Brehon tracts; and

recollect that the relative importance of Land and Capital has

been altering throughout history。 The general proposition that

Land is limited in quantity and is distinguished by this

limitation from all other commodities which are practically

capable of indefinite multiplic

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