Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BOYCOTT (11/01/18)
- TITLE: Origins
By Dave Walker
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Patrick cursed his leg, which had been too inflamed for him to work reliably for the last month. But most of all, he cursed his landlord. He'd worked twice as hard when he could, but his landlord didn't notice ---- or chose not to.
The other tenants were sympathetic.....yet he'd heard rumours.......nah, they couldn't be true. Rory wouldn't!
Down at the pub, Patrick's plight was the main topic. All agreed the system was wrong. To evict a family without notice or a stated reason wasn't right. In fact, the Irish Land League had drawn up what was known as the three 'f's. Fair rent, fixity of tenure and free sale, and were agitating for the implementation of these.
Someone mentioned he'd heard a rumour that as soon as the eviction order was served, Rory Blake made a bid for the house.
Shaun's eyes smouldered. "A man that does that should be killed."
"Aye. And his house burrned t' the ground!"
The place shook with a vociferous "Aye!" "Aye"
"Gentlemen. Gentlemen." Charles Parnell pounded the table for silence. "There's a more Christian way t'do it. If any man dare be so unkind, he should be shunned. The bartender here should refuse to serve him. Dame O'Malley should serve him no groceries, the postman not deliver his letters, nor the milkman his milk. There should be no greeting in the street --- all services denied."
The rumour proved unfounded, but Charles Parnell's words, repeated at the Land League's meeting some time later, were not forgotten.
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Captain Boycott was a mean-spirited, selfish man who managed an estate in Claremorris. Times were bleak after a bad season. The tenants asked for leniency in paying their rent. They were granted a ten percent reduction. It was not enough.
They descended on Boycott's stately home. "Ten percent's too little. Can't y' see we're starving? Give us twenty five."
Before Boycott were men in rags, skinny children and gaunt women trying to feed their children on morsels, but all he saw were troublemakers trampling his garden.
"Get off my land, or I'll set my dogs on you!"
He appeared at the door, the snarling dogs at his feet. As the mob shuffled off, he wrote out eviction orders for 11 of the tenants.
News of the pending evictions, like sparks to a thousand fuses, rushed from ear to ear, inflaming hearts and tempering the steel of resolve to resist.
The Land League backed them, and Parnell's tactics were implemented. The grocer refused to serve Boycott, the laundress wouldn't wash his clothes, the postman delivered no mail, nor the milkman his milk. His nephew, trying to retrieve his mail, was intercepted and threatened. No workers appeared to tend the fields or animals, or work in his house. Anyone who dared to arrive for work was manhandled and sent home. The crop could not be harvested.
------------ o -------------
Lord Sandler called from behind his newspaper. "I say, Sarah, listen to this. Some poor chap in Ireland has written in, saying his crop is about to fail because the Irish peasants are refusing to work for him. Bad show, I'd say. We should help the unfortunate fellow. We can't let the Irish treat an Englishman like that."
His response to a letter by Boycott to the London press was reiterated throughout England and Northern Ireland. A 'Boycott Relief Fund' was spawned to help him and fifty Orangemen, guarded by 1,000 policemen and soldiers, marched to Claremorris and harvested the Captain's crop. It was estimated it cost £10,000 pounds to harvest the £500 crop.
Yet God favours the poor and hates injustice. The enormous publicity the Boycott incident engendered highlighted the plight of the peasants. Within a year sweeping land reforms, including the Land League's three 'f's were written into law.
New York Times reporter James Redpath was chatting to Father O'Malley about how to report the incident.
"I don't know what to call their action, Father. When the peasants isolate a wicked landlord it's ostracism, but that's not a word peasants understand. We need a more graphic word."
"Hmm." Father O'Malley's nod showed his agreement. "How would it be to say they 'Boycott' him?"
Thus a new word was born.
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