|John James Murphy to Martin Murphy, 22 May 1869
|Argentina - Murphy
|Murphy, John James
|Haysland, Co. Wexford, Ireland
|correspondence, problem with neighbour who sent complaints to a newspaper
|Flor del Uncalito
Dear brother Martin,
About fifteen days ago the People paper came out to Mr Richards, which contained the enclosed letter. And in a few days later we received a letter from our friend Fr Reville saying that he had been told that Andy Pierce had wrote a letter in the People paper running down this country.
The above particularly private.
On the above information I spoke to him (Andy) about it. I asked him if he was the author. He neither denied nor acknowledged it but merely put me of by asking me what authority I had for asking him, which from the way he acted and the information of the above have no doubt but he is fabricator, though he is denying it now to others. But I think its show is inducing him to do so. If it be Andy that wrote that letter, which I have not a shadow of doubt [torn] but it is, and that I will know no matter what it cost me. He is one of the meanest wretches under Heavens seen, for in four days after the date of his letter he came to my house invited, and there with other friends and countrymen spent a couple days in amusements. He has been here several times since up to the time of me charging him with this foul act, and has on all occasions been treated with kindness both by myself and family. Little thinking we had amongst us a wolf in lamb clothing.
I would send a few lines directly to the attorney if I knew which of them you most approve of. But I trust you will for my sake as well as for your own and the rest of my friends carry out my instructions to the letter, and unless the parties interested give me the satisfaction I demand in my other note enclosed, I shall proceed against them as for as the Law will permit. Even if Andy felt disposed to apologise to me here it would not clear me in the eyes of the people of Wexford. It must be done in in the form before attended to it in the People paper, where his bible appeared. The young men about here, who felt for the injury done, has been kind enough to send a note home to the People paper in contradiction. It will likely appear before you receive this. I intend to send another in a few days on sheep-farming in contradiction to this letter of the Child of Respectable Parents. Tell the editor of the People paper that I am in no way angry with them, as I am well aware they never published a like article on their own responsibility or on the responsibility of a man living in this country, unless sanctioned by some parties at home. I had previous to this a trial of Andy's rascality. He got up amongst the men of the Caldera an insulting letter he wrote it himself, but he say now since he left there that he did not write it [torn], that the others forced him to sign it against his will. Mind you Andy forced to it against his will. But I forgave him that offence and received him again as a friend. Little thinking he would turn again on me. My dear brother, You may feel a delicacy in proceeding against people who perhaps you are acquainted with. But have no consideration for them as they had none for me or mine. Andy has demanded an apology from me, which I consider him entitled to providing he be not the guilty party, and for this reason I should like to know. Dear brother, we are all in good health and here. The young daughter is healthy, and well and very quiet. I sent you the other not apart from this so as you could [send] it to Fr Reville or any other you thought proper to let them see the instructions I give you. From the time you commence proceedings write me often as I will always be anxious to know how the business is progressing. There is a mail packet nearly every week from Liverpool, so I with the rest of the family bid you adieu with kind love to all. I remain your dear brother,
John J. Murphy
Of the letter sent from here by the young men (contradicting the statements made in the Respectable Child's letter) make enquiries at the office about and know if they did not receive it. If you can get the parties that got the letter published to give you the name of the author in writing it will satisfy me. I rather think that if Andy be the author of the letter that his friends had nothing to do with the publishing of it. It must be same of his old associates in Wexford that got it published for him. However do all in your power to find out the author. I send you the letter also for the People paper. Take it to Fr Reville to have it published in the People paper and to correct any blunders that may be in it.
Your dear brother,
Flor del Uncalito, May 22nd, 1869
Dear brother Martin,
On receipt of this see Mr Meadows, from whom your are sure to get an honest opinion. Show him the enclosed letter taken from the People paper of March 13th, 1869, and signed a Child of Respectable Parents. Ask him do not the statements made use of in it justify a prosecution. If he tells you that the language made use of can be prosecuted as a libel give instructions to an attorney to commence proceedings. If the power of attorney is necessary from me let me know and I will send it at once by letting me know in whose name it will should be, whether in yours or the attorney. Let the attorney name the damages he thinks the libel is entitled to. It is not for damages I proceed but to know the person that has most falsely belied me and wounded the feelings of my friends at home, which I think worse of than I do of myself.
I am sure the people of Wexford has not bestowed much credit on the letter but that says nothing as my character has been most maliciously slandered and without cause. And the only way to prevent a repetition is be making them feel the gloat of their own envious and malicious designs.
I am sure there is some simple person at home that has been made a tool of by this Child of Respectable Parents, as I could not for a moment think that the Editor of the People ever published such a letter on his own responsibility, or on that of any person residing in this country without the guidance of some person at home. But to show that I do not seek for more than to have my character cleared up I will stay proceeding so soon as the person or persons that feel themselves responsible for the publication of the above named letter come forward and make a declaration in the public papers. Contradicting the statements made use of in that letter paying the expense of the proceeding up to the time of him doing so, and letting me know the real author's name. And if the parties do not wish to enter into these conditions let the case proceed to its conclusion. I hope you will not think the worse of doing this much for me to enable me to clear up my character. Were it not that I have been delayed in completing the purchase of my new place in consequence of a Director not being appointed to the public land office, I should most likely proceed home myself to look after the proceedings. But I trust the case will be followed up with energy by yourself and by those in whose hands you you empower to do so. And I remain your dear brother,
P.S. The following is another method I would propose to obtain the satisfaction. I consider myself entitled to see the Editor of the People. Tell him before proceedings commence to speak on write to the parties who are responsible for the publication of the letter and tell them that prosecution will be staged on conditions that they give orders to the Editor to make the following declaration in his paper, which is this: The letter which appeared in our issue of date 13th March 1869 and signed a Child of Respectable Parents, we are authorised by the parties responsible for the publication of said letter to apologise to Mr Murphy and to retract the statements made herein and to also give the name of the author of said letter. J.J.M.
The Wexford People, 13 March 1869
Sheep Farming in South America
To the Editor of the People.
Buenos Ayres, Dec. 20, 1868.
Dear Sir. I trust you will, with your usual kindness, allow me space in reply to a letter which appeared in the People of October 3rd, 1868, signed J. Murphy, commenting on a letter which appeared in the Buenos Ayres Standard, signed "Bucolic." Of Bucolic's letter I only speak from memory. But I think it was a very fair statement, at all events. I believe it was honestly written, and not for a purpose, as Mr. M. insinuates. Why not Mr. M. give figures to prove Bucolic's calculation wrong. It is disagreeable imputing motives to any person; but as Mr. Murphy has not spared others I suppose he cannot object if I should attributes motives to him. I do not wish to charge him individually, but as one of a class (I mean the owners of sheep establishments). They are most anxious just now to make Europeans believe that sheep farming in this part of the world is paying a good percentage. And I have no doubt that it pays 3 or 4 per cent on large establishments, say if you invest £10,000 or £12,000, and those should be (what Mr. M. would call) well managed. But without an increased emigration of men with capital, say from £200 to £500 each, and those parties anxious to invest in sheep farming, it will not under present circumstances pay even that small percentage. It must therefore be quite obvious to any person that a small capital will not pay. As to the management of sheep establishments the greater part consists in making contracts apparently fair on the face of them, but with sundry sentences that can be interpreted, in whichever way is most advantageous to the owners. Now, Mr. Editor, it is scarcely fair to expect the son of respectable parents to make a rogue of himself in order that his employer may realize 12 or 15 per cent, and, without so doing, he will be put down as an idle, careless, worthless fellow; and because when sheep establishments are managed by men more interested and with a convenient conscience, (i.e.) the owners, they can make any percentage they wish. I also beg to say that it is a foul libel on the character of the young men in this country to say that they are badly conducted. In my opinion they will bear comparison with the young men of any other country. But it is a very effective way to silence your adversary if you cannot answer him otherwise blacken his character, &c. It would be impossible for me to give your readers an idea of this country at present in the space allowed for an ordinary letter. It is sufficient to say that not one in twenty of those parties having from 1,000 to 3,000 sheep but are in debt to half their value. And nothing is more common than to hear of sales of sheep weekly by the magistrate of the different districts. I therefore, Mr. Editor, would strongly recommend any person having a small capital, and intending to emigrate, to try some other country, as unless he invests in sheep here every other business is closed against him if he is not conversant with the language. I have no personal motive in writing this; but as the characters of myself and others have been slandered, I have thought it my duty to say this much in my own defence. I trust you will kindly publish those few remarks; and though I do not give my name for publication, and therefore give Mr. M. an opportunity of being witty at my expense, I beg to subscribe myself yours very respectfully,
A Child of Respectable Parents
Sheep Farming in Buenos Ayres
To the Editor of the People
Flor del Uncalito, Salto, Bs. Ayres, May 26th 1869
About a year ago I replied to a letter which appeared in your columns copied from the Buenos Ayrean Standard and signed Bucolic. Influenced by the interest I feel in your country and fearful less the gross mistatements of the author should cast a blur on this republic deter many young men from entering the list of this country, where so many with nothing but a resolute heart and firm will have acquired wealth and respect.
Mr. Editor, the reason I have again to refer to Bucolic's letter is in consequence of a letter which appeared in your issue of the 13th March 1869 and signed a Child of Respectable Parents, who has endeavoured by his false statements to lessen the character of this country in the eyes of the public. Those letters adverse though I am to all newspaper controversy I feel myself again called upon to contradict not for any interest of my own but as one long resident in the country. I think it my duty to uphold its reputation against the calumnies of those, some of whom from motives of their own case, not to lower it in every possible manner.
Therefore, I should feel myself blameable in the extremi were I to allow the people of Wexford (who are still dear to me) to harbour under such erroneous ideas as these letters might possible lead them to. Anonymous writings have ever been the bone of society, emanating from men who either lack courage to boldly affix their name to truth, or worse, still from those who assert facts they know to be as false as they are malicious.
Now Mr. Editor, as this Child of Respectable Parents has demanded of me figures to prove that Bucolic's calculation is wrong, I will give you a true estimate of the sheep business this last year, though being the worst we have had for this last fifteen, and which is beyond the power of any to contradict. Not I must say to afford that Child any information for were I not influenced by the desire to give the people of the County Wexford who have friends here a true idea of the country I would treat his letter of those of that class to which he allies himself with that silent contempt which he and his partisans so greatly merit. There are three circumstances which do not come within the range of the following calculation, neither of which is sufficient of themselves to leave the business unprofitable, namely bad land, overstocking and negligence on the part of the proprietor or manager.
In order the figures I am about to give may be the better understood and that the people at home may be the better able to make their own calculations, I think it right to say that the current price of money here is 122 ½ paper dollars to the £ sterling, or a small fraction over 2 d. per dollar. One league of land is 40 squares square. One square is 150 Spanish yards square. And one yard being 34 inches English. Consequently, one square league of land contains thirty-six million of square yards of 34 inches. It can be understood that the lambs fit to shear at the proper season make up in wool for the number of sheep sold for market. I have also set down the increase at a very low figure, as I never had on my own establishment the worst years less than 23 per cent. The increase I allow here is a little over 17 per cent.
The result of sheep farming for one year on an establishment consisting of one square league of land with full stock
To 21,000 sheep at $14.-
" 11 stations, estancia house, galpon, corrals, etc.
" 150 ewes for ram breeding at 50.-
" 3 rams for the above at 3,000.-
" 210 rams for the flocks at 250.-
" 10 horses at 300.-
" cart and implements necessary
Total amount of capital invested
" Interest on 485,000 dollars at 12 per cent per annum
" 11 men in stations in charge of flocks at per month each 450.-
" two workmen, one shepherd and one cook at per month each 300.-
" one capataz or foreman at 700.-
" support of the above five persons at 110.-
" cartage of 3,000 arrobas of wool a distance of 40 leagues at 7.-
" shearing of 21,000 sheep at 7/8.-
" broker's commission on wool at 2 per cent
" rent of one league of land at
By 3,000 arrobas wool of 25 lbs. at $50.- $150,000
" 3,600 increase:
2,000 sold fat at 25.- 50,000
1,600 retained at 14.- 22,400
" 100 increase fine flock:
50 rams at 250.- 12,500
50 ewes at 50.- 2,500
" skins, grease, etc. 2,600 $240,000
Now Mr. Editor, with these remarks and figures, which are I think within the comprehension of all and which are quite sufficient of themselves to refute all arguments, I will bid adieu to all anonymous writers on sheep-farming and trust that for the future they will cease to circulate statements which bear in themselves the guise of falsehood and retort upon the circulator. With respect to the letter written by this Child of Respectable Parents, I will be as brief as possible. I dislike anonymous persons though I confess I should myself feel a delicacy in affixing my name to an article for the public press.
Yet I prefer having known my wont of capacity for such a task, and undergo the penalty of public criticism rather than make myself one of those who (like this Child of Respectable Parents) fatten on the idea of wounding the reputation of his opponent by discharging his missiles under cover of a fictitious name. But I feel I would not be doing myself or others justice were I to pass over in silence all his erroneous statements, statements which are as false as they are unfounded.
This gentleman asserts that on large and well-managed establishments 3 or 4 per cent might possibly be made. I will here mention one of the many circumstances that has this year occurred which will I am sure illustrate the matter and will also be some information to capitalists who intend emigrating to this country.
Mr. Hale, one of the wealthiest and most influential foreign merchants in Buenos Ayres, and an old resident in this country, purchased an estate about two years ago, a few miles distant from my place, and is now one of the finest properties of the country. Mr. Hale no doubt has a perfect knowledge of how the sheep business is paying. Yet a few months ago he, Mr. Hale, rented at the rate of $40,000 dollars per square league the estate of the late Mr. Riddle, and not only did he rent the land but also bought at the current price the sheep, which amounted to as much as the land could bear.
Now, if on rented land sheep-farming did only pay 3 or 4 per cent, why should Mr. Hale, a merchant and experienced sheep-farmer, invest capital in the business where in the market of Buenos Ayres he would realise 12 per cent for his money?
But this Child of Respectable Parents sets down the opinion of such men as Mr. Hale at nought and boldly asserts in the public press that unless convenient consciences and contracts be called into requisition the owners of sheep establishments would find it impossible to make the business pay even that small percentage.
The present value of this land, which Mr. Hale has rented, is from $330,000 to $340,000 dollars per square league, which shows that the proprietors receive on his capital invested on interest of about 12 per cent per annum.
Mr. Editor, it does not follow that sheep-farming don't pay because Bucolic or others having invested in bad land, or if invested in good land by putting on stock to double the amount it will bear which in both cases he can have neither increase weight of wool nor fat sheep fit for market, or because others, of this class alluded to in my previous letter, who spend their time one half in bed the other in the village where his hotel and other accommodations are swelled by his extravagance a figure for exceeding his means, thence follows the consequence, which he at once attributes to the state of the country.
This Child of &c. would make me say that I implied habits and vices to all the young men in this country, but before proceeding further I will just ask him, have we not in this country or in all others men whose misfortune it is to be of the class referred to in my previous letter? But I will for the satisfaction and information of respectable families in Wexford say that my previous letter had no way neither directly nor indirectly referred to their friends in this country, neither was there any Wexfordman that I know of at that time in the position or of that class referred to in my previous letter, nor could I be made believe that any Wexfordman in this country was false enough to write such absurd letters or those which I felt it my duty to at first reply to.
I may also state in contradiction to this Respectable Child's letter that a contract never existed between me and any of the men that is, as ever has been on my place all having sufficient confidence in my ward. Also that there are not one of those at present with me, or that has been, ever had to sell sheep or that is this day one single farthing in debt. Before closing this letter, which has already exceeded the limit I intended for it, there is but one more remark I would wish to make with regard to this Respectable Child's letter, which is an important one as it might serve as a guide to those who have an idea of emigrating. I mean those small capitalists from £200 to £500 whom the Child advises to try some other country.
Now Mr. Editor, it is an established fact that there is a wide field for capitalists small as well as large in a new country such as this is, but allow me to impress on their mind the fact that the small capitalists must exercise great prudence and forethought, and it behave him to put both mind and shoulder to the wheel.
In conclusion, Mr. Editor, I must beg you will excuse the liberty I have taken with your time and space the great interest I take and the interest which I know you as well as the people of Wexford since all South American matters will I hope will sufficient to plead my excuse, yet I will say one word more before I bid a final adieu to all anonymous writers. Let me beg of such young men as are about emigrating here not to follow or seek for advice from such men as this Child of Respectable Parents, many of whom he may meet in the city, but to follow the advice of those experienced men who will not lead them astray or draw them into any speculation that in after years they may regret.
I trust Mr. Editor that you will, with your usual impartial kindness, allow me space for the publication of the above in your deservedly popular paper, and believe to be yours very sincerely,
P.S. It is evident that Child of Respectable Parents, when writing his libellous fabrication, has been actuated by envious and malicious feelings, as there is not a shadow of truth in the whole composition and the consequences that may evolve from the publication of such a letter. I trust you were not simple enough to risk it on your own responsibility. J.M