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BREHON


754


BREHON


stock tenant — saer means free in 'Jie Irish language — accepted only a limited amount of stock; and re- tained his tribal rights, always most carefully guarded by the Brchon law, in their integrity. But the Daer- stock — daer means unfree — tenant, who took stock from his chief, became liable for hea\ner but still care- fully defined duties. For instance for every three heifers deposited with him by his chief, he became liable to pay his chief the "proportionate stock of a calf of the value of a sack with its accompaniments", and refections for three persons in the summer, and work for three days. The tribesman, it will be ob- served, by accepting stock from his chief parted to some extent with his freedom, but his interests were carefully looked after by law, and it was pro\nded that after food-rent and service had been rendered for seven years, if the chief should die, the tenant should become entitled to the stock deposited with him. If, on the other hand, the tenant died, his heirs were partly relieved from tlieir obligation. It will be observed that wliile this to some extent resembles the well-kno'WTi Metayer system, so common on the continent of Europe, where the landlord supplies the stock and the land, and the tenant the labour and the skill, it differs from it in tliis, namely that in Ireland the saer- and daer-stock farmer did not supply the land, which was theirs by right of their free tribesmanship. In this way, namely, by accepting stock from their over-lords, a rent-paying class grew up in Ireland, to which undoubtedly in time a large proportion of the ancient Irish came to belong, but the rent was paid not for the land but for the chief's property deposited with the tenant.

But outside of the Free-tribesman (the Feine and Ccile) there grew up gradually a class of tenants who were not free, who in fact must have been in something very like a state of servitude. These were known by the name of juidirs or bothachs, i. e. cottiers. They appear to have been principally composed of broken men, outcasts from foreign tribes, fugitives from justice, and the like, who, driven out of or for- saking their own tribes, sought refuge under some other chief. These men must have been natural ob- jects of suspicion if not of detestation to the free tribesmen, and, being themselves absolutely helpless, and having no tribal rights of their own, tliey became entirely dependent upon their chief, who settled them down upon the outlying or waste lands of the tribe, or possibly at times upon his own separate land which as chief he held in severalty, and imposed upon them far hea\-ier tolls or rents than the law permitted to be exacted from any other members of the tribe. As Ireland became more troubled by Northmen, Nor- mans, and English, this class of tenant increased in numbers, so many tribes were broken or destroyed, and the survivors dispersed to find refuge in other tribes and under other chiefs. In this way there grew up gradually, even under Irish law, a body of tenants to whom their chiefs must have stood in the light of soraetliing like English landlords.

The Irish F.«iily or Fi.ve. — A curious Irish social unit was the fine (finna), consisting of one group of five persons and three groups of four, aU males. The head of the family, called the ccann- fine (Kan-finna), and four members made up the first group, called geil-fine, the other three groups of four each were called deirbh-fine, or true family, iar-fine, or after family, and inn-fine, or end famUy. On the birth of a new male member in the geil-fine the eldest member of the group was moved up into the next four (the deirbh-fine) , and one out of that four into the next four, and one out of the last four was moved out of the fine altogether, into the clan, or sept, this last male thereby ceasing to be a member of the fam- ily, or fine. The sept, to use the English term, sprang from the family, or the family after some generations grew into the sept and then into the clan, contracting


a greater share of artificiality in proportion to its enlargement. Because, while all the members of the sept could actually point to a common descent, the descent from a single ancestor in the case of the whole tribe was more or less founded upon fiction. The por- tion of territory ruled over by a sul>king was called tuath (too-a) and contained within it, at all events in later times, members of different descents. The chief, both of the tuath and tlie sept, was elected by the tribe or clansmen. The law of primogeniture did not obtain in Ireland, and the selection w-as made of the man who being of the chieftain's near blood could best defend the tribe and lead it in both war and peace. "The head of every tribe", says the Bre- hon Law tract the Cain Aigillne, "should be the man of the tribe who is the most experienced, the most notable, the most wealthy, the most learned, the most truly popular, the most powerful to oppose, the most steadfast to sue for profits and to be sued for losses." As early as the third century, in a well-known piece of Irish literature, Cairbre. afterwards Iving of Ireland, is depicted as asking his father Cormac Mac Airt the question: "For what qualifications is a king elected over countries and tribes of people? " And Cor- mac in his answer embodied the views of practically every clan in Ireland down to the beginning of the seventeenth century. "He is chosen", said the king, "from the goodness of his shape and family, from his experience and wisdom, from his prudence and mag- nanimity, from his eloquence and bravery in battle, and from the number of his friends." He was, how- ever, always chosen from the near kindred of the reigning chieftain.

Irish Crimin.\l Law. — There seems to have been no hard and fast line drawn between civil and crimi- nal offences in the Brehon law. They were both sued for in the same way before a Brehon, who heard the case argued, and either acquitted or else found guilty and assessed the fine. In the case of a crime committed by an indi\-idual all the sept were hable. If the offence were one against the person, and the criminal happened to die, then the liability of the sept was wiped out, for. according to the maxim, "the crime dies with the criminal". If, however, the of- fence had been one causing damage to property or causing material loss, then the sept remained still liable for it, even after the death of the criminal. This regulation resulted in every member of the sept ha\'ing a direct interest in suppressing crime. There was always a fine inflicted for manslaughter, even unpremeditated, which was called an eric. If the manslaughter was premeditated, or what we would call murder, the eric was doubled, and it was dis- tributed to the relatives of the slain in the proportion to which tliey were entitled to inherit his property. If the eric were not paid, then the injured person or family had a right to put the criminal to death. Tliis acceptance of a blood-fine or eric for murder was a great source of .scandal to the English, but, as Keating points out in the preface to his history of Ireland \\Titten in Irish, it was really a beneficent and logical institution, made necessary by the number of tribes into which Ireland was divided. Nor was the pun- ishment, though short of the capital one, by any means light, and it at least insured compensation to the murdered man's relatives, a compensation amount- ing to the entire "honour-price" of the murderer. For every man, from king to juidir (the lowest class of tenant), had what was in Irish law termed his eineachlan, or honour-price, and this was forfeited in part or in whole, according to well-defined rules, for various crimes. It was always forteited for taking human life. Clergj' we find more hea\-ily punished than lajanen. A man of high rank was always fined more than one of low rank for the same misdemean- our. An assault on a person of rank was more se- verely punished than one on an ordinary nmn. fines