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326                CHARLES  STEWART PAUNELL             [1882
constabulary reports.    The impunity from punishment is spreading like a plague/
On April 19 Lord Cowpcr wrote to the Cabinet:
Lord Cowpcr to the Cabinet
* The returns of agrarian crime daring the last two years are before the Cabinet. They have been presented in every kind of shape, and comparisons may be made by weeks, by months, and by quarters. The increase of murders and other serious outrages is fluctuating, and not uniform, but this increase is very serious, and for this reason new legislation is demanded. With regard to this fluctuation, I may remark in passing that after any very great crime, towards which any considerable attention has been attracted, there appears generally to be a lull.
' For instance, since the murders of Mr. Herbert and Mrs. Smythe l there were very few outrages for nearly a fortnight. This seems to point towards proving that a strong organisation still exists, and that the Land .League is not so completely broken down as was imagined. This is, I am afraid, very much owing to the fact that since the imprisonment or dispersion of the men who led it the work has been taken up by women. We know that women go about tho country conveying messages and encouraging disaffection, and that they distribute money in large quantities both by hand and by letter,
if they should ' accidentally commit an error in shooting any person on suspicion of that pernon being about to commit a murder,' the production of tho circular would exonerate them. Thin document —which, as tho Annual Hcgistcr nays, was practically authority * to shoot on sight '-— had ultimately to be withdrawn.—-Annual Register, 1882, p. 187.
1 On April 2 a most sensational agrarian murder was committed. Mr. Bmythe, while driving with his sister-in-law, Mrs. Henry Smythe-was fired at. The shot missed him, but hit and killed Mrs. Smythe.