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. 38] SPEECH AT DROGIIEDA S5
intrude upon you anything of a personal character, I prefer, as I always have done in public life, to deal with principles, and not with men. I have sliown you two planks of the platform of the Land League—the destruction of rack-rents and of landlord oppression and evictions, and the facilitation of occupying ownership by the tiller of the soil. Well, unmindful of this fact, we have been recently informed upon distinguished authority, at a meeting in Dublin, that we have been false to the spirit of the Land League, that we are unmindful of its principles, because we refused to desert that which has been our programme up to the present moment and follow this new craze. Ownership of land by anybody, we are told,-is theft. "Whether that anybody be landlord or tenant, it is equally a crime and a robbery, and because we refuse to agree with that sweeping assertion we are condemned as slack and as yielding basely to the present Coercion Act. The desire to acquire land is everywhere one of the strongest instincts of human nature, and never more developed than in a country such as Ireland, where land is limited and those who desire to acquire it are numerous. I submit further, that this desire to acquire landed property, and the further desire to be released from the crushing impositions of rack-rents, was the very basis and foundation of the National Land League, and that without it, although not solely owing to it, we never could have progressed or been successful. As reasonably might we have supposed that we could have persuaded the poor man that it was with him a crime to endeavour to hope for the ownership of the holding lie tilled. No more absurd or preposterous proposition •was ever made to a people than, after having declared on a thousand platforms by a million voices that the
D 2tionalists to go armed to their meetings until the bad example was set by the Orangemen.'— Hansard. American Land League.