"I think the seventy-three Federationists, as they want to be called, are not only traitors to the greatest Irishmen of the age, but also mean-spirited tools of the Catholic bishops. A man may have proper respect for his faith, and may yet resent the dictation of his family priest. I admit his superior knowledge of spiritual matters, but I think I know what politics suit me best, and I send him to the rightabout. Let him look after the world to come. That's his business. I'm going to look after this world for myself. The main difference between the Parnellites and the Anti-Parnellites is just this—the Parnellites keep themselves independent of any English party; the Anti-Parnellites have identified themselves with the English Liberals, and bargain with them. My view is this, that the English Radicals will use the Irish party for their own ends, that they want to utilise them in carrying out the Newcastle programme, and that having so used them the Irishmen may go and hang themselves. 'We give you Home Rule and you give us the Newcastle budget'—that's the present arrangement. But after that? What then? Ireland will want the Home Rule Bill amended. The first bill (if ever we get it) must be very imperfect, and will want no end of improvement. It is bound to be a small, mean affair, and will want expansion and breadth. Then the Radicals will chuck over the Anti-Parnellites, who will be equally shunted by the Tories, and we shall be left hanging in the air. The Parnellites aim at getting everything on its merits, and decline to identify themselves with any party. They wish to be called Independents. And they one and all decline to be managed by the priests. The seventy-three Anti-Parnellites are entirely managed by the Clerical party. They have no will of their own any more than the pasteboard men you see in the shop windows, whose legs and arms fly up and down, when you pull a string. They are just like Gladstonians in that respect."
The Parnellites are hard up, and their organ asks America for cash. The dauntless nine want six thousand pounds for pocket-money and hotel expenses. The cause of Ireland demands this sacrifice. After so many contributions, surely America will not hold back at the supreme moment. The Anti-Parnellites are bitterly incensed. To act independently of their faction was of itself most damnable, but still it could be borne. To ask for money from America, to put in a claim for coppers which might have flowed into Anti-Parnellite pockets, shows a degradation, an unspeakable impudence for which the Freeman cannot find adequate adjectives. The priest-ridden journal speaks of its fellow patriots as caluminators and liars, tries to describe their "baseness," their "inconceivable insolence and inconceivable stupidity," and breaks down in the effort. A column and a half of space is devoted to calling the Parnellites ill names such as were formerly applied by Irish patriots to Mr. Gladstone. And all because they compete for the cents of Irish-American slaveys and bootblacks. The Parnellites are not to be deterred by mere idle clamour. Both parties are accustomed to be called liars and rogues, and both parties accept the appellations as a matter of course. Nothing can stop them when on the trail of cash. Is Irish sentiment to be again disappointed for a paltry six thousand pounds? Is the Sisyphean stone of Home Rule, so laboriously rolled uphill, to again roll down, crushing in its fall the faithful rollers? Will not some American millionaire come forward with noble philanthropy and six thousand pounds to rescue and to save the most beautiful, the most unfortunate country in the world from further disappointment? Only six thousand pounds now required for the great ultimate, or penultimate, or antepenultimate effort. Another twopence and up goes the donkey!
Roscommon, June 27th.
No. 41.—THE CHANGED SPIRIT OF THE CAPITAL.
The Dubliners have quite given up the bill. The Unionist party have regained their calm, and the Nationalists are resigned to the position. Nobody, of whatever political colour, or however sanguine, now expects the measure to become law. The Separatist rank and file never hoped for so much luck, and their disappointment is therefore anything but unbearable. My first letter indicated this lack of faith and also its cause. The Dublin folks never really believed a British Parliament would so stultify itself. The old lady who, on my arrival, said "We'll get Home Rule when a pair of white wings grows out o' me shoulders, an' I fly away like a big blackburd," finds her pendant in the jarvey, who this morning said, "If we'd got the bill I would have been as much surprised as if one o' me childhren got the moon by roarin' for it." Distrust of Mr. Gladstone is more prevalent than ever, and the prophets who all along credited that pious statesman with rank insincerity are now saying "I towld ye so." The Lord-Lieutenant is making his Viceregal progress in an ominous silence. The Limerick people let him go without a cheer. At Foynes something like a procession was formed, with the parish priest at its head; but the address read by his Rivirince reads very like a scolding. It points out that "our rivers are at present without shipping, our mills and factories are idle, and it is a sad sight to see our beautiful Shannon, where all her Majesty's fleet could safely ride on the estuary of its waters, without almost a ship of merchandise on its surface on account of the general decay of our trade and commerce." The address further shows that "we enjoy a combination of natural advantages in the shape of a secure, sheltered anchorage, together with railway and telegraph in immediate proximity to the harbour and the pier, and postal service twice daily, both inwards and outwards, and a first-class quality of pure water laid on to the pier. The facility for landing or embarking troops, or for discharging or loading goods or stores is as near perfection as possible, and having a range of depth of water of twenty-five feet at low-water spring tide, the harbour can accommodate ships of deep draught at any state of the tide." These advantages, mostly owing to British rule, with others, such as the "unique combination of mountain and river scenery," were not enumerated as subjects for thankfulness, but rather by way of reproach, the effect of the whole address being a veiled indictment of British rule. No doubt Lord Houghton's first impulse would be to exclaim, "Then why on earth don't you use your advantages? With good quays, piers, storehouses, and a broad deep river, opening on the Atlantic, why don't you do some business?" But he promised to do his best to send them a guard-ship, in order that the crew might spend some money in the district. The Galway folks asked him to do something for them. My previous letters have shown the incapacity of the Galwegians to do anything for themselves, and how, being left to their own devices—having, in fact, a full enjoyment of local Home Rule—their incompetence has saddled the city with a debt of fifty thousand pounds for which they have practically nothing to show, except an additional debt of one thousand pounds decreed against them for knocking the bottom out of a coaling vessel during their "improving" operations, which sum they never expect to pay, as the harbour tolls are collected by the Board of Works, which thus endeavours to indemnify itself for having lent them the "improvement" funds. The Killybegs folks showed the poor Viceroy their bay and told him what wonderful things they could do if they only had a pier, or a quay, or something. The Achil folks formerly said the same thing. Two piers were built but no man ever goes near them. The Mulranney folks pointed out that while Clew Bay, and particularly the nook of it called Mulranney Bay, was literally alive with fish, the starving peasants of the neighbourhood could do nothing for want of a pier. The brutal Saxon built one at once—a fine handsome structure, at once a pier, a breakwater, and a harbour, with boat-slips and three stages with steps, so that boats could be used at any tide. I stepped this massive and costly piece of masonry, and judged it to be a hundred yards long. There were six great mooring posts, but not a boat in sight, nor any trace of fishing operations. A broad new road to the pier was cut and metalled, but no one uses it. The fishing village of Mulranney, with its perfect appointments, would not in twelve months furnish you with one poor herring. The pier of Killybegs would probably be just as useful to the neighbourhood.
The Dublin Nationalist prints make some show of fight, but the people heed them not. They know too well that their inward conviction that Home Rule is for the present defunct is founded on rock. In vain the party writers use the whip. Your Irishman is cute enough to know when he is beaten. The new-born regard of the Irish press for Parliamentary purity is comical enough. Obstruction is the thing they hate. Ungentlemanly conduct in the House stinks in their nostrils. Fair play is their delight, and underhand dealing they particularly abhor. Mr. Gladstone is too lenient, and although his failings lean to virtue's side, his action is too oily altogether. He is old and weak, and lubricates too much. They in effect accuse him of fatty degeneration of the brain. Something heroic must be done. Those low-bred ruffians, the Unionists, must be swept from the path of Erin, while her eloquent sons, actuated by patriotism and six pounds a week, and spurred on by the hope of even a larger salary, obtain after seven centuries some show of justice to Ireland. The Irish wire-pullers demand decisive action. They declare that they will no longer submit to the "happy-go-lucky policy of the gentlemen who survey life from the Ministerial benches." They must "put themselves in fighting form and show their supporters that they mean business." "Unless the Ministry mean to throw up the sponge they had better begin the fighting at once." The Irish party "are looking for the action of the Government which is to make it evident to the Opposition that the majority mean to rule in the House of Commons, for unless this be done Parliamentary government becomes a farce." If Mr. Gladstone continues the policy of hesitation and waiting on Providence, the fate of Home Rule, and with it the fate of the Liberal party, are sealed. "Obstruction" (says the Parnellite paper) cannot be permitted!" It is the revelation of the impotency of Parliament, and Parliamentary procedure must be replaced by some quicker means of effecting reform. Mr. Gladstone's feebleness is an incitement to revolution. The Dublin press would manage these things better. An autumn session must not be adventured. If the House should rise before the bill has passed the Commons such a confession of weakness would fatally damage the Government prestige. The House must "be kept in permanent session, and not kept too long," which sounds like a bull, but the next sentence is plain enough.
"The obvious policy is to at once take the Opposition by the throat. That will excite enthusiasm, and convince the people that a Liberal Government is good for something."
The Nationalist prints are assuming the office of candid friend, a part which suits them admirably, and in the performance of which they make wonderful guesses at truth. The Gladstonian Ministry "are helpless and impotent in the hands of their opponents. The reforms so ardently desired by the people are seen to be mere mirages, called up to win the votes of the people for men who, once in office, make no real effort to enforce the mandate given to them by the country." The Liberal Ministry will be "swept out of existence because the people will come to recognise that their promises and programmes are so many hollow phrases, incapable of ministering to the needs or satisfying the aspirations of the multitude." "The real tug of war," says this Home Rule sheet, "will come in the next election." If Irish Separatists talk like this, what do Irish Unionists say?
Very little, indeed. They are disposed to rest and be thankful. They only want to be let alone. They are quiet and reserved, and thank their stars that the worst is over. The nervousness, the high-strung tension of three months ago, is conspicuous by its absence. They feared that the thing would be rushed, and that Mr. Bull would stamp the measure without looking at it, would be glad to get rid of it at any price, would say to Ireland, "Take it, get out of my sight, and be hanged to ye!" Thanks to the Unionist leaders, whose ability and devotion are here warmly recognised, the Dubliners know no fear. The ridiculous abortion has been dragged into the sunlight, and ruthlessly dissected. John's commonsense can be trusted, once he examines for himself, and worthy Irishmen lie down in peace. The graver Dubliners prefer to speak of something else. The young bloods still make fun of the "patriots," and conjure up illimitable vistas of absurd possibilities under an Irish Government. They invariably place the hypothetic Cabinet under the direct orders of Archbishop Walsh, and continue to make fun of that great hierarch's famous malediction on Freemasonry. The good Archbishop, they say, takes a large size in curses. They declare that his curse on the Masonic bazaar for orphans was a marvel of comprehensive detail; that it cursed the stall-holders, the purchasers, the tea-pot cosies and fender-stools, the five-o'clock tea-tables and antimacassars, the china ornaments, and embroidered slippers, with every individual bead; the dolls, both large and small; the bran that stuffed the dolls, and the very squeaks which resulted from a squeeze on the doll's ribs. Never was heard such a terrible curse. But what gave rise to no little surprise, nobody seemed one penny the worse. These scoffers propose to discontinue the habit of swearing. When the Archbishop produces no effect, what's the good of a plain layman's cursing? They declare that the dentists of Dublin are all Home Rulers, and that the selfishness of their political faith is disgustingly obvious. These mocking Unionists discuss probable points of etiquette likely to arise in the Legislature of College Green, and dispute as to whether members will be allowed to attend with decidedly black eyes, or whether they will be excluded until the skin around their orbs has arrived at the pale yellow stage. Some are of opinion that no Cabinet Minister should be allowed to sit while wearing raw beefsteak, and a story is going the rounds to the effect that some of the Irish members recently wished to cross the Channel for half-a-crown each, and to that end called on a boat agent, a Tory, who knew them, when the following conversation took place:—
"Can we go across for half-a-crown each?"
"No, ye can't, thin."
"An' why not?"
"Because 'tis a cattle boat."
"Never mind that, sure we're not particular."
"No, but the cattle are."
There was a great rush for Dynamitard Daly's letter, and some of his sentences were made subjects of leading articles in the Nationalist press. One paragraph seems to have been neglected. He writes—"Friend Jack, you amazed me when you mentioned the names of ex-felons now honourable members of the Imperial Parliament. And so they seem to forget the days when they were felons? Ah, well, thank God, the people did not forget them in their hour of need, and though some of them may try to palm off their own selfish ambitions on the people to whom they owe everything as genuine patriotism—oh, it won't do!" John Daly holds the same opinion of his fellow patriots as is expressed in a remarkable letter to the Separatist Dublin Evening Herald, wherein the writer says that his party is "disgusted with the duplicity of Mr. Gladstone," and goes on to say that "No one now believes that the bill will pass, and almost everyone believes it was never intended to pass. I have not yet met anybody who expressed themselves as even remotely satisfied with it. Peace to its ashes." I quote this as proving two points I have always endeavoured to urge—first, that the Irish distrust Mr. Gladstone, and are not grateful to him or his party; and, second, that no bill short of complete independence will ever satisfy the Irish people. It is what they expect and look forward to as the direct outcome of Home Rule, which they only want as a stepping-stone. This cannot fail to impress itself on any unbiassed person who rubs against them for long. The teaching of the priests is eminently disloyal, and although the utmost care is taken to prevent their disloyalty becoming public, instances are not lacking to show the general trend. Father Sheehy, an especial friend of the Archbishop Walsh aforesaid, thus delivered himself anent a proposed visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to Ireland:—"There is no need for a foreign prince to come to Ireland. The Irish people have nothing to say to the Prince of Wales. He has no connection with Ireland except that link of the Crown that has been formed for the country, which is the symbol of Ireland's slavery." This priest said he hated landgrabbers; all except one. "There is but one landgrabber I like, and that is the Tsar of Russia, who threatens to take territory on the Afghan border from England." Father Arthur Ryan, of Thurles, the seat of Archbishop Croke, has printed a manifesto, in which he says:—"Ever since the Union the best and most honourable of Irishmen have looked on rebellion as a sacred duty, provided there were a reasonable chance of success. It has never occurred to me to consider acquiescence to the Government of England as a moral obligation or as other than a dire necessity. We have never, thank God, lied to our oppressors by saying we were loyal to them. And when we have condemned the rebels whose heroism and self-sacrifice we have loved and wept over, we condemned not their want of loyalty, but their want of prudence. We thought it wrong to plunge the land into the horrors of war with no hope of success."
So much for our trusty and well-beloved fellow-subjects of this realm of England. Father Ryan is candid, truthful, and outspoken, and commands respect. Better an open enemy than a false friend. His summing-up of Irish feeling to England is both concise and accurate, but one of his sentences is hardly up to date. He thanks God that the Irish have never lied by saying they were loyal. How many Irish members can make this their boast? Compared with them, the Ribbonmen were heroes. The glorious prototypes of the modern member murdered their foes themselves, did their slaughtering in person, and took the risk like men. They hated Englishmen, qua Englishmen, and made no secret of it. The modern method is easier and more convenient. To murder by proxy, to have your hints carried out without danger to yourself, and to draw pay for your hinting, is a triumph of nineteenth-century ingenuity. To pose as loyal subjects and to disarm suspicion by protestations of friendship and brotherly love may be a more effective means of attaining your end, but it smacks too much of the serpent. The Ribbonmen were rough and rugged, but comparatively respectable. The Irish Separatists are just as disloyal, and infinitely more treacherous. The parchment "loyalty to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen," which Lord Houghton is in some places receiving, is revolting to all who know the truth. The snake has succeeded the tiger, and most people hate sliminess. Nationalist Ireland is intensely disloyal from side to side, and from end to end. Disloyal and inimical she has been from the first, and disloyal and inimical she remains, and no concessions can change her character. She is religious with a mediaeval faith, and she follows her spiritual guides, whose sole aim is religious ascendancy. So long as the Roman Catholic Church is not predominant so long the Irish people will complain. You may give them the land for nothing; you may stock their farms—they will expect it; you may indemnify them for the seven hundred years of robbery by the English people—they say they ought to be indemnified; you may furnish every yeoman with a gun and ammunition, with carte blanche as to their use with litigious neighbours; you may lay on whiskey in pipes, like gas and water, but without any whiskey rate; you may compel the Queen to do Archbishop Walsh's washing, and the Prince of Wales to black his sacred boots, while the English nobility look after the pigs of the foinest pisintry in the wuruld, and still the Irish would be malcontents. The Church wants absolute predominance, and she won't be happy till she gets it. Parnell was Protestant and something of a Pope. Tim Healy tried to wear the leader's boots, but Bishop Walsh reduced him to a pulp. This good man rules Dublin, and through Dublin, Ireland. You cannot walk far without running against his consecrated name. At present the city is labelled as follows:—
"By direction of his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, the annual collections for our Holy Father the Pope will take place on July the second." The National League and Our Holy Father the Pope between them cut very close. No wonder that poor Paddy has hardly a feather left to fly with.
"An ardent Nationalist" thus expresses himself in the Separatist Herald:—"I fear we must reluctantly abandon hope of a Home Parliament for a few more years. For the present we will have to content ourselves with Local Government, an ample measure of which will be given by the Conservatives. On the whole, ardent Nationalist as I am, I do not look on this as an unmixed evil. What kind of Government would be possible under six or seven factions?" This should be a staggerer for the English Home Rule party. The italics are in the original, and the writer goes on to say, "It is open to doubt that we should be able to at once manage our own affairs without some preliminary training." The whole letter is a substantial repetition of the sentiments emanating from a Home Ruler of Tralee, recounted in my letter from that town of Kerry.
Parnell is still worshipped in Dublin. He looks big beside his successors. His grave in the splendid cemetery of Glasnevin is well worth a visit, although there is no monument beyond a cast-iron Irish cross painted green, which serves to hang flowers upon. The grave is in a rope-enclosed circle, some twenty yards in diameter, and most of the space is occupied by big glass shades, with flowers and other tributes of respect and affection. I counted more than a hundred, many of them elaborate. The Corkmen send the biggest, a small greenhouse with two brown Irish harps and the legend DONE TO DEATH. An Irish harp worked in embroidery lies sodden on the earth. Green shamrock leaves of tin, with the names of all the donors—this is important—obtrude themselves here and there. A six-foot cross of white flowers, like a badge of purity, lies on the grave, labelled Katherine Parnell, in a lady's hand. The place is swamped with Irish harps, and it occurs to me that the badge would not be so popular if the patriots knew that the harp was imposed as an emblem of Ireland by English Henry the Second. The name PARNELL in iron letters is on the turf, flowers growing through them, a poetical idea. As I walk past they vibrate with a metallic jingle, which reminds me of the shirt of mail the living man wore to preserve himself from his fellow-patriots. Tay Pay's life of the dead leader proves that his sole secret of success was inflexible purpose, and that his notion of party management was to treat the patriot members as dirt. Parnell was an authority in Irish matters, and his example should be useful to Messrs. Gladstone, Morley, and Co. An eminent Irishmen to-day said:—"With your wibble-wobble and your shilly-shally, your pooh-pooh and your pah-pah, you are ruining the country. Put down your foot and tell the Irish people that they will not now nor at any future time get Home Rule, and not a word will come out of them." A word (to the wise) is enough.
Dublin, June 29th.
No. 42.—AT A NATIONALIST MEETING.
The most remarkable feature of Dundalk life is the fact that the people are doing something. Not much, perhaps, but still something. The port is handy for Liverpool and Glasgow, and a steam packet company gives a little life to the quays. The barracks, not far from the shore, indicate one large source of custom, for wherever you find a British regiment you find the people better off. The Athlone folks say that but for the soldiers the place would be dead and buried, and the Galway people are complaining that the garrison, the hated English garrison, has been withdrawn. This inconsistency at first surprises you, but you soon grow familiarised with the strange inconsistencies of this wonderful island. Dundalk has vastly improved during the three dozen years which have elapsed since first I visited the town. There is a Catholic church for every hundred yards of street, and on Thursday last one of them at least was full to overflowing. It was the festival of Saints Peter and Paul, and England was being solemnly dedicated to Rome. There was no getting inside to witness the operation, for the kneeling crowds extended into the street and flopped down on their marrow-bones on the side walks. The men with the collection plates could hardly hold their ground in the portals, and many worshippers were sent empty away, raising their hats as they reluctantly turned from the sacred precincts. This was between eleven and twelve in the forenoon, so that the day's work was hopelessly broken. Ireland has endless customs demanding cessation of labour, but none demanding the pious to go to work. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches were closed, and possibly their adherents were stealing a march on the Catholics in the matter of business. The Church of Ireland has a bright green spire, which at first puzzles the unlearned. Its hoisting of the national colour is due to the fact that the whole structure is covered with copper, which in its turn is covered with verdigris. The surroundings of the town are pleasant, and, although thatched cottages abound, they are very superior to the dirty dens of Tipperary. Nearly all have the half-doors so convenient for gossiping, and the female population of these cabins spend much of their time in leaning over the lower half. The superiority of Dundalk is by most people attributed to the strong mixture of Northerners there resident, and the favourable position of the port. Earnest Unionists are by no means scarce, and, as usual, they are the pick of the population. The Parnellites are also present in strong force, and this may account for the fact that Mr. Timothy Healy, the respected member for North Louth, is unable to visit the chief town of his constituency without a guard of two hundred policemen, paid and commanded by his life-long foe—the base and brutal Saxon. A prominent citizen said:—
"We have a number of Englishmen coming over here, and most of them are Unionists. But a few birds of passage I have seen have vexed me with their confident ignorance, and caused me to believe that English Gladstonians are the densest donkeys under the sun. They are so self-opiniated, and so full of self-satisfaction, that it is hard to be patient with them. Not a few say simply that they are content to leave the matter in the hands of Mr. Gladstone, and that as they followed him so far, they will follow him to the end. They decline to examine for themselves, although facilities are offered on the spot. This must be the ruling temper of the English Home Rule party, for if they stopped to examine for themselves, or even to hear the evidence submitted by men of position and integrity they could never tolerate the insane proposition of an Irish Parliament for a day. They sometimes say that Irishmen should govern their own land, and that no one could venture to dispute this proposition. This is their principal argument, and some are led away by its show of reason. But what is the truth?
"Irishmen do govern Ireland. Listen. Is England governed by Englishmen? Now Ireland has a far greater number of members in proportion to her population than England has. These men have far more power in the English Parliament than England herself, for they hold the balance of parties. In every question, Irish or English, they have the casting vote. So that they can almost always decide what is to become law.
"Dundalk is at this moment placarded with a request that all men should join in the glorious struggle for freedom. Unless the Irish people were constantly told they were slaves, they would never know it. They are fed on lies from their infancy. The current issue of United Ireland states in a leader that the prison authorities have three times tried to get rid of John Daly, the dynamitard, by poisoning him in prison. As if they could not do it if they liked! And a few weeks ago, at an amnesty meeting at Drumicondra, a speaker stated, in the presence of two or three members of Parliament, that five of the thirteen political prisoners still locked up had been driven mad by horrible tortures. What freedom do the Irish want? Have they not precisely the same freedom as that enjoyed by England, the freest country in the world? Have they not the same laws, except where those laws have been relaxed in favour of Ireland? Have they not religious equality, free trade, a free press, and vote by ballot? And with all this they are told at every turn that they are the most down-trodden nation of slaves on earth. Supposed they groaned under conscription like France and Germany, what then?
"The English people have seen the results of the influence exercised by the present Irish leaders. One would think that sensible Britons would decline to entrust such men with power. Did they not bring about the rule of the Land League, with its stories of foul murder which sound like a horrible dream of the tyranny of the Middle Ages? Are these men not hand and glove with the clerical party, which hates England as heretic and excommunicate? It is not proposed by Home Rule to put in office men who are the mere tools of the Catholic church, the most unyielding and intolerant system in the world!"
I remembered the leader in the Irish Catholic, which sings a paean of triumph over alleged successes against the Freemasons of Italy. British Masons may be interested to learn that this authority couples them with Atheists, Fenians, and Ribbonmen, and holds up the craft to contumely and scorn. The acceptance by Mr. Gladstone of the principle of Home Rule seems to rejoice the Papist heart. "Never was it more clear than it now is that the indestructible Papacy exercises an authority over the hearts and minds of humanity which nothing, neither fraud, nor oppression, nor misrepresentation, can weaken or destroy. How near may be the day of its inevitable triumph no man can say, while that its coming is as certain as the rising of the morning sun ... none will doubt or deny. That in the moment when the Vicar of Christ is vindicated before the nations, and the reign of right and truth and justice re-established throughout Christendom, Ireland can claim to have been faithful when others were untrue, will be the proudest trophy of an affection which no temptation and no tyranny was ever able to weaken or destroy." The Freemasons are expressly stated to lie under "the terrible penalty of excommunication," but they are afterwards lightly dealt with. They are regarded with an amused tolerance by Irish Catholics, who only laugh to see them "hung with a number of trumpery glass and Brummagem metal trinkets about their persons, and generally indulging in an amount of fantastic and childish adornment which would turn the King of the Cannibal Islands green with envy." Their profanation of God's holy name and their sacrilegious oaths are regretted, but they will never do much harm in Ireland, where the people laugh at their "fantastic tomfoolery." A parallel column advises the public to join in the present pilgrimage to Saint Patrick's Purgatory, where the saint saw, by special favour of God, the purgatorial fires. Another column advertises prayers at fixed prices—a reduction on taking a quantity. The men who hold these beliefs and opinions are the sole governors of Irish action, the sole creators of Irish opinion. For the lay agitators who from time to time have dared to oppose the clerics have been mostly suppressed, and the few still in existence will probably disappear before long. Colonel Nolan must hold this opinion, for when canvassing in Headford, the parish priest came up and cut his head open with a bludgeon. The gallant militarian submitted to this, and would fain have passed the affair in silence. How many Englishmen would have stood it? This incident, properly considered, should enlighten Britons on the dominant influences of Irish Parliamentary action.
On the way to Dundalk I met Major Studdert, of Corofin, County Clare. He spoke of the disturbed state of the district, and thought the present condition of things scandalous and intolerable. He mentioned the case of Mr. J. Blood, who has been four times fired at for dismissing a herdsman. He said:—"Mr. Blood is universally admitted to be one of the most amiable and benevolent of men. His herdsman had a son who would not work, and who was reckoned one of the greatest blackguards in the county, which is saying a good deal in County Clare. Mr. Blood told him to send away this son, or he himself must leave his situation. He refused, and Mr. Blood discharged his herdsman, but with an extraordinary liberality gave him one hundred pounds as consolation money. Since then Mr. Blood is everywhere protected by four policemen. One of the bullets aimed at him passed between his back and the back of the chair he was sitting in."
"I have only one argument for the country folks who talk of Home Rule. I challenge them to show me a single industrious man in the whole country who is not well off. They can't do it. What Ireland wants is not Home Rule but industry. When they are at work they do not go at it like Englishmen. I go over to Cheshire every year for the hunting season, and it is a treat to see the English grooms looking after the horses. They pull off their coats and roll up their sleeves in a way that would astonish Irishmen. It is worth all they get to see them at work. They get twice as much as Irish grooms, and they are worth the difference. The people around me, the working people, do not perform five months' work in a year."
And these are the people who are surprised at their own poverty, and who monopolise the attention of the British Parliament, which toils in vain to give them an Act which will improve their worldly position. The Irish farmer is petted and spoiled, and a victim of over-legislation. Do what you will you can never please him. Mr. Walter Gibbons, of South Mall, Westport, told me of a case which came under his own observation, as follows:—Rent, five pounds a year. None paid for seven years. Tenant refused possession. Landlord paid tenant twenty pounds in cash, and formally remitted all the rent, thirty-five pounds to wit.
"I saw the money paid," said Mr. Gibbons, a fine specimen of the British sailor, present in the Cornwallis at the bombardment of Sebastopol.
"And was the landlord shot?" I inquired.
"Not that I know of," said the old sailor.
Most people will agree that if ever a landlord deserved shooting this was the very man.
The walls of Dundalk were placarded with a flaming incitement to Irishmen to meet in the Labourers' Hall at eight o'clock, to "join in the onward march to freedom." The meeting was to be held under the auspices of the Irish National Federation—Featheration, as the Parnellites call it and most of its members pronounce it—and therefore it was likely to be a big thing, especially considering the Parliamentary tension existing at the present moment. I determined to be present, To beard the lion in his den, The Douglas in his hall; to see the labouring Irish in their thousands marching onward to Freedom. A friend attempted to dissuade me from the project. "You'll be spotted in a moment, and as you are very obnoxious to the priests, to be recognised at such a meeting might be unpleasant." A public official who pointed out the place followed me up with advice. "Unless you are connected with the party, it would be better to keep away. These people are very suspicious." These were fine preliminaries of a public meeting. The building is poor, but not squalid, and seems to have been built within the last few years. A gateway leads to the yard and the Hall blocks the way. All the rooms are small, and I looked in vain for anything like an assembly chamber. Two roughish-looking men, who nevertheless had about them a refreshing air of real work, stood at the gateway, and from them I learned that the meeting would take place upstairs. Twenty-four steps outside the building almost gave me pause. At the top was an open landing, whence the Saxon intruder might be projected with painful results. Trusting in my luck, I entered a narrow corridor, some fifteen feet long, with doors on each side, and one at the opposite end. That must open on the assembly room. No, it only led to another flight of outside steps, and here it was comforting to observe that the drop might be into the soft soil of a garden, instead of a bricked yard. But where was the great meeting?
Once more I left the Hall and spoke my rugged friends. Yes, it was after eight, but the people wanted a bit of margin. Half-past eight was the time intended. Half-an-hour's march around, and back again. The crowd was swelled from two to three persons. Fifteen minutes more, and further inquiry.
"When will the meeting begin."
"When the people comes."
"But they're an hour late already."
"Sure ye can't hurry thim."
At 9.15 I went again.
"Meeting begun yet?" I asked.
"Just startin' now. The praste's afther goin' in."
"You're rather unpunctual."
"Arrah, how would we begin widout his Rivirince!" This was unanswerable. Once more into the breach, up the lonely shivery steps. This time I heard voices, and opening a door found a narrow room with about twenty people therein. The show was just agoing to begin, for, as I entered, somebody proposed that the Priest should take the chair. A short, stout, red faced man, with black coat and white choker, seemed to expect no less, and moved into the one-and-ninepenny Windsor with alacrity. He spoke with the vilest, boggiest kind of brogue, and the hideous accent of vulgar Ulster; calling who "hu" with a French u, should "shoed," and pronouncing every word beginning with un as if beginning with on—ontil, onless, ondhersthand, ondhertake. "Ye'll excuse me makin' a spache, fur av I did I'd make a varry bad one," said the holy man, and the audience seemed to believe him. Enrolment was the order of the day, and the thousands were requested to come forward. A man next me went to the front and paid a shilling, receiving in return a green ticket, with Ireland a Nation printed at the top. He twirled it round and round, and seemed disappointed to find there was nothing on the other side. The secretary encouraged the meeting by the official statement that the local Featheration now numbered nearly sixty members, whereat there was great rejoicing, the masses (to the number of twenty) working off their emotion by thumping their heels on the floor. The meeting, after this exultant outburst, got slower and slower, and threatened to expire of inanition. Divil a mother's son could be got to shpake a single wurud. Some malevolent influence overhung the masses. His Rivirince sent down a messenger to me with the request that I would say a few wuruds. Declined, with thanks, as being no speaker. Uncertainty as to my colour and object still prevailed; and silence, not loud, but deep, succeeded this artful feeler. Father O'Murtagh (or words to that effect) to the rescue! The Rivirind Gintleman arose and delivered a bitter attack on Parnell, whom he characterised as mean, base, untruthful, treacherous, and contemptible. The foinest pisintry in the wuruld could not be soiled by contact with anybody like Parnell, and therefore the Catholic bishops had been compelled to give him up, and to say, Get thee behind me, Satanas. The dear Father did not tell the meeting why the bishops waited sixteen days after the verdict of the Court, and until Mr. Gladstone had delivered judgment, before deciding to cut Parnell adrift. Father O'Murtagh (I think that was the name) made some allusion to the present crisis of public affairs—(he called it cresses)—and assured his masses that the Tories were about to be for ever plucked from the pedestal on which they had long been planted by ascendency and greed! This was not so racy as the mixed metaphor of a Galway paper, which assures its readers that "the Unionist party will soon be compelled to disgorge the favouritism which for so long has been centred in their hands;" but it might pass. His Rivirince made some feeble jokes, and the audience tried to laugh, but failed. "They say that whin we luck at ourselves in the lucking lass, we see nothin' but Whigs," said the funny Father, and the audience sniggered. This was his masterpiece. He finished with "It's wondherful what a spache ye can make whin ye have nothin' to say;" and the masses sniggered again. Ten minutes more of silence broken only by whispered confabulations of the secretary and chairman, and I grew tired of obstructing the march to Freedom. I left the chair, the only one at my end of the room, with considerable regret. Part of the back, one upright, was still remaining, and although the thing had evidently been used in argument at some previous meeting, it hung together, and good work might still have been done with the legs. A gentleman with a complexion like a blast furnace, and a facial expression which looked like a wholesale infraction of the Ten Commandments, was smoking moodily on the steps.
"Did ye injy the matein?" he inquired.
"Thought it rather dead," I replied.
"Faix, 'twas yerself that kilt it."
I feared as much. What happened after I left no man will tell, though doubtless the resolutions adopted by the twenty men sitting on the forrums of ellum would vibrate through the Empire, and shake the British monarchy to its iniquitous base. Irish meetings must be taken with a grain of salt. A Westport man long drew fees for reports of mass meetings which never took place. Three or four Nationalists met in a back parlour, and their speeches, reported verbatim, rang through Ireland. Gallant Mayo was praised as heading the charge of Connaught, and Westport was lauded for its public spirit. And all the while the Westport folks knew nothing about it. The Dundalk folks will doubtless be equally astonished to learn that the cause is advancing so powerfully in their midst. This hole-and-corner meeting, waiting for the priest, addressed by the priest, bossed by the priest, is a fair sample of the humbug which seems inseparable from the Irish question. A very short acquaintance with the country and its people is sufficient to convince any reasonable person that the whole movement is based on humbug, sustained by humbug, and is itself a humbug from beginning to end. To see the English Parliament managed and exploited by these groups of low-bred and ignorant peasants, nose-led by ignorant and illiterate priests, is enough to make you ashamed of being an Englishman. The country has come to something when Britons can be worked like puppets by mean-looking animals such as I saw in the Dundalk Labourers' Hall, where the only respectable thing was an iron safe bearing the stamp of Turner, of Dudley. And this meeting, in status, numbers, and enthusiasm, was quite representative of Nationalist meetings all over Ireland. The English people are waiting for their turn while Papal behests are executed. John Bull stands hat in hand, taking his orders from Father O'Baithershin. The Irish say that England is in the first stage of her decadence, and they say it with some reason. England, the land of heroes, sages, statesmen, is the mere registrar of the parish priest and his poor, benighted dupes. Raleigh, Cromwell, Burleigh, Pitt, Palmerston, are succeeded by Healy, Morley, Sexton, Harcourt, Gladstone. England is Ireland's lackey, and must wait till her betters are served, must toil and moil in her service, receiving in return more kicks than halfpence. Britannia is the humble, obedient servant of Papal Hibernia. To what base uses we may return!
Dundalk, July 1st.
No. 43.—IN THE PROSPEROUS NORTH.
This is a blessed change from dirt and poverty to tidiness and comfort. After the West of Ireland the North looks like another world. After the bareheaded, barelegged, and barefooted women and children of Mayo and Galway, the smartly-dressed people of Newry come as a surprise. You can hardly realise that they belong to the same country. There are no mud cabins here, no pigs under the bed, no cows tethered in the living room, no hens roosting on the family bedstead. The people do not follow the inquiring stranger about, as in Ennis or Tuam, where they seem to have nothing better to do. The Newry folks are minding their own business, and they have some business to mind. Three extensive flax spinning mills, two linen weaving factories, and an apron factory, give large employment to girls. There are several flour mills, some of them possessing immense power, and having the most modern machinery. Two iron foundries of long-established reputation, two mineral water factories, salt works, stone polishing mills, seven tanneries, cabinet furniture manufactories, and coachbuilding works cater for the town and surrounding district. Granite quarries of high repute, such as the Rostrevor green granite, exist in the vicinity, and are worked energetically, the products forming a valuable addition to the exports. The town is beautifully situated on a continuation of Carlingford Lough, the choicest bit of sea around Great Britain. Thackeray says that if England possessed this beautiful inlet it would be reckoned a world's wonder. Twenty miles of winding sea running inland like a league-wide river, mountains on both sides, many of them wooded to the furthest height. Rostrevor is a bijou watering place such as only France here and there can boast. You walk on the cliff side, steep verdurous heights above and below, looking through tree-tops on the shimmering sea and the purple mountains beyond, for ten miles at a stretch, wondering why nobody else is there. Newry is encompassed by mountains, one range above another. Even as the hills stand round about Jerusalem, so stand the hills about Newry. A big trade is done with Liverpool and Glasgow by means of the Dundalk and Newry Packet Company's fine service of boats. For this inland place has been made into a thriving seaport, and these Northerners make the water hum. At low tide the artificial cutting of the navigation works looks unpromising enough, but the people of these parts would be doing business if they had to float the boats on mud. The hills are cultivated to the topmost peak, or planted with trees where tillage is impossible. The people seem to have made the most of everything. They are digging, hammering, chopping, excavating, building, mining, and generally bustling around. They break up the mountains piece-meal, and sell the fragments in other lands. To make you buy they show you how it looks when polished, and they are ready to earn an extra profit by polishing all you want by steam power. The streets are clean, well-paved, kept in perfect order. The houses are well-built and far superior to the English average. A little cockney from 'Ackney, who has sailed the six hundred and seventeen miles between London and Cork and has explored most of the South and West, is quite knocked over by Newry. Leaning on the "halpenstock" with which he was about to tackle Cloughmore, he confessed that Newry hupset his hideas of Hireland and the Hirish. "The folks round 'ere," he said, "are hexactly like hus." He would have accorded higher praise, had he known any.
Why this great difference? Look around the shop-keepers' signs in Tipperary or Tuam and note the names. Ruane, Magrath, Maguire, O'Doherty, O'Brien, O'Flanagan, O'Shaughnessy, and so in saecula saeculorum. In Newry you see a striking change. Duncan, Boyd, Wylie, MacAlister, Campbell, McClelland, McAteer, and so on, greet you in all directions. You are in one of the colonies. The breed is different. You are among the men who make railways, construct bridges, invent engines, bore tunnels, make canals, build ships, and sail them over unknown seas. You are among a people who have the instincts of achievement, of enterprise, of invention, of command, who depend upon themselves, who shift for themselves, and believe in self-help rather than in querulous complaint. The Newry folk belong to Ulster, where as a whole the people can take care of themselves. A careful perusal of the addresses presented to Lord Houghton on his current Viceregal tour accentuates the difference in the Irish breeds. The aborigines all want to know what is going to be done for them. We want a pier, we want a quay, we want a garrison or a gunboat to spend some money in the district. Will your Excellency use your influence with the powers that be to get us something for nothing? And let it be something to enrich us, or at least to keep us alive without work. We can't be expected to do anything while groaning 'neath the cruel English yoke. The Newry folks, and all of their breed, abstain from whining and cadging. The Westport people have endless quarries of hard blue marble, which they are too lazy, or too ignorant, or both, to cut. The Ulster breed would have quarried, polished, exported a mountain or two long since. The universal verdict of employers of labour proves that a northern Irishman is worth two from any other point of the compass, will actually perform double the amount of work, and is, besides, incomparably superior in brains and general reliability. The worthless hordes who approach the Viceroy with snuffling petitions are invariably headed by Father Somebody, without whose permission they would not be there, and without whose leave they dare not raise the feeble and intermittent cheers which here and there have greeted the Queen's representative. The lying expressions of loyalty referred to in a previous letter are severely censured by the Nationalist papers. One of the leading lights says: "Judging from a sentence in the address presented by the Mullingar Town Commissioners to the Lord-Lieutenant on Thursday last, it would appear that these gentlemen are looking forward eagerly to the day when they can write themselves down West Britons. This is what they said: 'In your presence as the representative in this island of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, we wish to give expression to our fealty to the throne, convinced as we are that the day will soon be at hand when we can with less restraint, and in a more marked manner, testify our admiration for the Sovereignty of the British Isles.'" The more sincere newspaper which falls foul of these expressions goes on to say:—
"It is true that Ireland is described in the map made by Englishmen as one of the British Isles, but it is not so written in the true Irishman's heart, and never will be, in spite of the toadyism of gentlemen like the Town Commissioners of Mullingar."
This pronouncement embodies the sentiments of every Nationalist Irishman. The Union of Hearts is not expected to succeed the Home Rule, or any other bill, and to do Irishmen justice, they never use the phrase, neither do they profess to look forward to friendliness with England. I have conversed with hundreds of Home Rulers, and all looked upon the bill as a means of paying off old scores. The tone of the Nationalist press should be enough for sensible Englishmen. Nobody who regularly reads the leading Irish Separatist papers can ever believe in the friendship supposed to be the inevitable result of the proposed concession. Once the present agitation is crowned with success, a tenfold more powerful agitation will at once arise. The Irish people will have more grievances than ever. Already they are complaining of insult and betrayal. And their reproaches are directed against the G.O.M. and his accomplices, or rather against Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Morley, for they know as well as Englishmen know that the rest count for nothing; that, in fact, they resemble the faithful and unsophisticated baa-baa of whom we heard in our early infancy. "Mary had a little lamb, Whose fleece was white as snow, And everywhere that Mary went, The lamb was sure to go." This is the attitude of the English Gladstonian party, and the Irish people know it. A Home Ruler I met to-day disavowed loyalty except to Ireland, and asked what was the Queen and the rest of the British Royal pauper party to him or to Ireland that he should be loyal? He said:—
"All interest is over here, whether among Nationalists or Unionist. The fate of the bill affects us no longer. The new financial proposals are the last straw that breaks the camel's back. Where is the managing of our own affairs? Where does the Nationalism come in? And Gladstone, in allowing himself to make in the first proposal a mistake of one thousand pounds a day, damaged his prestige as the framer of the bill, and fatally damaged the bill itself. Anybody can now say that if he was so grossly mistaken in an ascertainable matter like revenue and figures he stands to be equally wrong (at least) in matters which are not demonstrable, but which are at present only matters of opinion and argument. I am not sure that he ever intended to give us any Home Rule at all. We are being fooled because we have no leader. The bill, as it stood at first, would never have been prepared for a man like Parnell. Gladstone dare not have done it. The whole bill is a series of insults. As a reasonable, fair-minded man you will not deny that. It purports to come from friends who confide in us, and yet every line bristles with distrust and suspicion. There is not one spark of generosity in the whole thing from beginning to end. Better have no bill at all. For as a business man, I foresee that the passing of any such bill would lead to a complete upset of trade. We should have a most tremendous row. The safeguards would only invite to rebellion. Tell a man he must not have something, must not do something, and that is the very thing he wants to do. He might not have thought of it if you had not mentioned it; but the moment you point it out, and particularise the forbidden fruit, from that very moment he is inspired with a very particular wish for that above all things. So with a nation. We want our independence. We want to do as we like. Otherwise, why ask for a Parliament? Gladstone says, Yes, my pretty dear, it shall have its ickety-pickety Parliament; it shall have its plaything. And it shall ridy-pidy in the coachy-poachy too; all round the parky-warky with the cock-a-doodle-doo. But it mustn't touch! Or if it touches it mustn't be rough, for its plaything will break so easily. We don't want this tomfoolery, nor to be treated like children. We want a real Parliament, and not one that can be pulled up every five minutes by London. For if the English Parliament have the power to veto our wishes, where's the difference? We might have just as well stayed as we were. That's perfectly clear.
"So that I for one will be glad when the farce is over. The present bill at best was but a fraud, a tampering with the national sentiment. And I am beginning to think that we have no chance of a National Legislature until the coming of the next great Irishman. I am not so disappointed or broken-hearted as you might suppose. For the prospect of an Irish Parliament under present auspices is not very enticing. The country might be made to look ridiculous, and the thing, by bursting up in some absurd way, might make a repetition of the attempt impossible for a century. I would rather wait for a better bill, and also for better men to work it. We are not proud of the Irish members. But we didn't want Tories, and all the propertied men are Tories. What were we to do? We know the want of standing and breeding which marks most of our men, but we did the best we could, and came within an ace of succeeding. Let me tell you the exact feeling of the respectable Home Rule party of Ireland at this moment.
"Having exerted ourselves with enthusiasm, and having undergone considerable pecuniary sacrifice with good chances of success, we now see clearly that all our efforts are for the present thrown away. It is the fortune of war. The fates were against us, and we rest content with the hope that we have furthered the ultimate success of the movement. For the moment, we make our bow, and hope to call on Mr. Bull at a more propitious season. Of course we expect to win in the end."
The next politician whose opinions I noted was a horse of quite a different colour. He bore a Scottish name, and had the incisive, argumentative style of the typical Ulsterman, who unites the cold common-sense and calculating power of the Scot with the warmth and impulse of the Irish nature. He said:—
"The bare existence of Belfast is, or should be, enough to negative all arguments in favour of Home Rule. The agitators say that Ireland is decaying from political causes, while all the while this Ulster town is getting richer and more powerful and influential. While the people of Cork are begging the Viceroy to please to do something for their port, to please to be so kind as to ask Mr. Bull to favour the city with his patronage, the Belfast people, with a far inferior harbour, an inferior climate, an incomparably inferior position, surrounded by far worse land, are knocking out the Clyde for shipbuilding, and running the Continent very close in linen-weaving. Belfast is actually the third in order of the Customs ports in the United Kingdom. The Belfast people flourish without Home Rule, and what is more, they know their neighbours. They've reckoned these gentry up.
"How is it that the Catholic population, as a rule, are merely the hewers of wood and drawers of water? They have precisely the same opportunities as their Protestant countrymen. Where-ever you go you will find the Protestants coming to the top. Cork is a very bigoted Catholic city, and the huge majority of the population are Catholics. How is it that most of the leading merchants are Protestants? Why do heretics flourish where the faithful starve? Transfer the populations of Cork to Belfast and vice versa, and, as everybody knows perfectly well, Belfast would at once begin to decay, while Cork would at once begin to prosper. Therefore it is absurd to say that Home Rule would cure the poverty existing in Catholic districts. Yes, there is a party of ascendency. The Protestants are distinctly the party of ascendency. They have the ascendency which ability and education and industry will always have over incapacity and ignorance and laziness. Now, I know something about the linen trade, and also something about the growth and preparation of flax.
"Linen has made the North, and flax is grown in the North. But it would grow much better in the South. If they would grow it we would be very glad to buy it. But they won't. And why not? Because it needs care and skill, and a lot of watching and management. The beggars are too lazy to grow anything that wants tending from day to day. It would pay them splendidly, and the advantages of flax growing and dressing have over and over again been drummed into them without effect. The climate and soil of Southern Ireland are far more suitable for flax growing than the North, and as about three-quarters of all the flax woven in Belfast is grown on the Continent, it is clear that the market is waiting for the stuff. The Belfast merchants have done all that in them lay to bring about flax cultivation in the South. They have sent out lecturers and instructors, they have planted patches and grown the stuff, and shown the pecuniary results, and with what effect? Absolutely none. The people won't do anything their grandfathers didn't do. They won't be bothered with flax, which wants no end of attention. Why, if they grew flax, they'd have to work almost every day! And nobody who knows Irishmen, real Keltic Irishmen, ever expects them to do that, or anything like it. I've been in India, and I deliberately say that I prefer the Hindoo to the Southern Irishman for industry and reliability.
"These people, who are too lazy to wash themselves, expect their condition to be improved by a Home Rule Parliament. Can anything be more unreasonable or more unlikely? And because there are more of them, their wishes are to be taken into account, and the opinions and wishes of men of whom each one is worth a hundred are to be disregarded. Where is the English sense of the eternal fitness of things?
"What the Irish really seek is some effective substitute for work. They have no idea of developing the resources which lie nearest to them. Carlyle says a country belongs to the people who can make the best use of it, and not the people who happen to be found there. Ireland for the Irish is a favourite cry. Why? Is not England for the Irish, America, Australia, New Zealand? My ancestors came here in the time of Henry the Second, and I am told that I have no business in the country. Wherever English and Scots settlers have been located, there the country is well worked and the people are thriving. If we can thrive, why can't they thrive? If we can get on without Home Rule, why can't they get on without Home Rule? If it were going to be a good thing for the country we'd all be on it like a shot. If it were good for them, it ought to be good for us. We have shown by our success that our judgment is sound. Their failure in everything they undertake, their dirt, their general habits and character, should cause their statements and opinions to be looked upon with very great suspicion. Does it stand to reason that merely by Home Rule, by the exercise of the privilege of making Irish laws by Irishmen in Dublin, that these people would gain all we have attained by hard and honest labour? That is what they expect up here.
"The Catholics are our servants, and in selecting them we seldom ask their religion. Our employes in most cases expect by the bill to take the place of their masters. That is their conception of Home Rule. They have been told from infancy that the British Government keeps them down because of their religion. They know that the British Government is Protestant, and they believe that in some occult way the superior position held by the Protestants in Ireland is due to favouritism. Under a Home Rule Parliament, that is, a Catholic Parliament, this condition of things will be reversed, and they will at once, and by their own innate force, as faithful believers, spring to the top of the tree, and exchange positions with their former masters and mistresses."
The general effect of my friend's discourse was well summed up by Mr. James Mack, of Galway, who said:—
"When I see that the Belfast men who would make fortunes out of river mud, and who would skin a flea for his hide and tallow, turn their backs on Home Rule, and declare they will have nothing to do with it, I feel sure it can be no good. Then my own experience and observation assure me that, instead of a settlement, it will only be the beginning of trouble for both countries. Firmness is wanted, and equal laws for all. At present everything is in favour of Ireland." United Ireland says:—"It would be better to go on for twenty years in the old miserable mill-horse round of futile and feverish and wasting agitation than to accept this bill as a settlement of national claims. And if the bill passes now it cannot deflect the national agitation by a hair's breadth, or cause its intermission for a day."
Nobody who knows the Irish people ever expected anything else. Agitators who live by agitation will always agitate, and only a few namby-pamby Radicals ever thought otherwise. Those who would fain have sold their souls for the Newcastle Programme also stand to be taken in. This Home Rule Bill will not do. Another must be brought forward immediately. Where is this dreary business going to end? When will Mr. Gladstone consider that England has eaten dirt enough?
Newry, July 4th
No. 44.—THE PROSPEROUS NORTH.
This famous historical city must be eminently offensive to Irish Nationalists. It is so clean and sweet and neat and tidy that you can at once see the hopelessness of expecting Home Rule patriotism from the place. There are no dunghills for it to grow in, and my somewhat extensive experiences have long ago taught me that Home Rule and Nationalist patriotism will not flourish in Ireland without manure, and plenty of it. Anyhow, it is mostly associated with heaps of refuse and pungent odours arising from decomposing matter, and in the south and west is scarcely ever found flourishing side by side with modern sanitation. Home Rule not only, like pumpkins and vegetable marrows, requires a feculent soil, but like them, and indeed like all watery and vaporous vegetables, it needs the forcing-frame. Left to its own devices the movement would die at once. There is nothing spontaneous about it. It is a weedy sort of exotic, thriving only by filth and forcing. It cannot live an hour in the climate of Armagh. The cold, keen air of these regions nips it in the bud. The peculative patriots who are now monopolising Westminster have from time to time made descents on the district, to sow the good seed, as it were, by the wayside. But next day came a frost, a killing frost. The Northerners are too mathematical. They have taken Lord Bacon's advice. They "weigh and consider." They want logic, and will not be content with mere rhetoric. They require demonstrations, and have opinions of their own. Before accepting a theory they turn it round and round, and test it with the square, the level, and the line. They care nothing for oratory unless there is sense at the back of it. They know that fine words butter no parsnips, and they know the antecedents of the patriotic orators. They do not believe that a paid Parliament-man is necessarily a self-sacrificing patriot, and they note that Nationalist members are making their patriotism much more profitable than their original and legitimate pursuits, if any. The Armagh folks believe in work, and in keeping things in order. The Scots element is dominant. Not so much in numbers, as in influence. The Kelts are easily traceable, but the races are partly amalgamated, and the genuine Irish are greatly improved. I paraded the streets for many hours, but I saw no dirt, rags, wretchedness. It was market day, and the country people came streaming in from all sides, everyone well dressed and respectable, and in every way equal to the farmers and their wives who on market days drive into Lichfield or Worcester. It was a pleasure to see them, and my Cockney friend, quoted in the Newry letter, might have been tempted to discard his affected superiority, and drawing himself proudly up, to smite himself on the chest, and to say "And hi, too, ham a Hirishman."
The country between Newry and Armagh is very beautiful from a pastoral point of view. After the savage deserts of the West it "Comes o'er my soul like the sweet south That breathes upon a bank of violets." Every yard of ground is going at its best pace. The valleys stand so thick with corn that they laugh and sing. Immense vistas of highly cultivated country unroll themselves in every direction. The land is richly timbered, and tall green hedges spring up everywhere. You are reminded of Dorsetshire, of Cheshire, of Normandy, of Rhineland. The people at the wayside stations are all well-dressed and well-shod. Achil Island seems to be at an immeasurable distance. The semi-savages who in Mayo demand autonomy have no supporters here. The Ulster folks eschew them and all their works, and would no more associate with them than with Hottentots. I use the term because the Irish people have ten thousand times been told, and told untruthfully, that Lord Salisbury had applied the term to the nation at large. The people of Mayo and some other parts of Connaught are for the most part worthy of the name, if, indeed, it be not a libel on the Africans. The disgusting savagery of their funeral customs is of itself sufficient to stamp them as lowest barbarians. I am prepared to prove this to the hilt. Let their defenders come forward if they dare.
And so it happens that the inhabitants of Armagh city are mostly Conservatives. They ought to be religious, too, for they have not only two cathedrals and an archbishop, but also a cardinal archbishop, Dr. Logue, to wit. I saw this distinguished ecclesiastic at Newry. He wore the scarlet robe, the extraordinary hat, the immensely thick gold ring of the cardinalate, in a railway carriage. An ordinary sort of man, with the round face and mean features of the typical Keltic farmer. He holds that the people should take their political faith from their priests, but the Northerners hardly agree, and are not so proud of their cardinal as they should be, seeing that he has been raised from the ranks, his father (so they say) having been Lord Leitrim's coachman, and the coachman who was driving when Lord Leitrim was shot. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Armagh has an imposing position on the summit of a steep hill. The portal is approached by sixty or seventy steps in flights of five and ten with steep terraces between, extending over a great space, so that the flights of steps, seen from the bottom of the hill, seem continuous, and have a fine Gustave Dore effect of vastness and majesty. On a neighbouring steep stands the Protestant Cathedral, with its sturdy square tower, memorial of remote antiquity. The city is piled up between the two cathedrals, but mostly around the heretic structure, and away from the Papist pile, which stands among the fields. The Presbyterians have a very beautiful church, apparently of the Armagh marble of which the city is built, the perennial whiteness of the stone making the old place appear eternally young. The market-place, behind the market-hall, and on the steep slope to the Protestant Cathedral, was very busy indeed. Market gardeners were there with young plants, useful and ornamental, for sale. Home-made chairs with rushen seats were offered by their rural makers. Wooden churns, troughs for cattle, and agricultural implements were there galore. Crockery was artfully disposed in strategetical corners, and gooseberry stalls were likewise to the fore. None of these features are visible in the Western markets. A vendor of second-hand clothing stood on a cart well loaded with unconsidered trifles, and this gentleman was especially interesting. A number of poor women stood around while the salesman, who knew his clientele to their smallest tricks, displayed his wares and recklessly endeavoured to ruin himself for the good of the country. Holding up an article, he would turn it round and round, expatiating on its excellent qualities, and then, after naming the very lowest price consistent with common business principles, would run down the figure to one-tenth or less, with a pause or two here and there for critical comment on his audience, of which he professed to entertain the most unfavourable opinion. Then with a final thump, punching the article contemptuously, he would offer it, regardless of consequences, for half his previous offer. Sometimes he refused to accept the money because the customer was not quick enough. Neither might the people examine his goods. He was master, and more, and found his account in it. He took up a frowsy old gown. "There ye are. Ten shillin's worth of stuff in that. An' ten for the makin'. An' that's twinty. I'll take ten, an' I couldn't afford to take a penny less. Will ye have it? Don't all spake at once. Ye won't. But I'll make ye. I'll take five shillin', four, three, two, one, I'll take sixpence. (Thump.) Take it away. Here! Have it for thruppence. Ye won't? Sweet bad luck to the one of ye is worth thruppence. Ye wouldn't raise tuppence in the crowd of ye. Ye want me to clothe ye for nothin'. An' thin ye'd want me to give ye lodgin' and washin'. 'Twas a black day on me whin I come among such a ruinatin' lot. Here now, sure this ought to timpt ye. A lady's jacket, an' a large, big, roomy jacket at that—fit for a lady that can ate a stone of praties at a male. Thurty shillin's ye'll be offerin' me, but I won't take it. Ye can give me ten, av ye're only quick enough. Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two shillin's. Eighteenpence. (Thump.) Take it for a shillin'! Ye won't? Ye didn't sell yer ducks well. Ye didn't get the money for yer eggs. Will I lind ye a trifle? What d'ye take me for? Am I to stand rammin' me bargains down yer throats like wagon wheels? Do yez iver buy any clothes at all, or do yez beg them? Me heart's bruk to pieces wid blayguardin' and bullyraggin. Luk at this. A boy's coat. An it's lined wid woollen linin'; that's the only fault wid it. An' here's a bonnet. A fortin to any young woman. Will ye be plazed to take what ye want for nothin'? Tis charity ye want, ye poor misguided crathurs. 'Tis a pack of paupers I'm discoorsin', God help me."
The Armagh shopkeepers are prosperous and content. "No Home Rule," they say. They are no longer angry with the Nationalists. The snake is scotched, if not killed outright, they think. The whole absurdity has received such a damning exposure that it cannot be revived for another generation. The Separatist party will be perforce compelled to wait until the people have forgotten what Home Rule really means. Therefore, to work again! Useless to waste more time. Ulster will sleep with one eye open, bearing in mind the favourite Northern saying which advises men to put their trust in Providence, but to keep their powder dry. For, like the Achilese, they believe that prayer is effective in shaving, only the Ulstermen prefer to pray over a keen razor. A genial citizen of Armagh said:—
"We would be as ready for Home Rule as any other Irishmen if it meant what we are asked to believe it means. But we know better. We are convinced that it will bring, not prosperity and peace, but bankruptcy and war, intolerance and social retrogression, robbery and spoliation, not only of the landlord but also of everybody else who has anything. The propertied Roman Catholics are just as dead against Home Rule as any Protestants. Only they dare not say so.
"England ought to have sense enough to see that instead of freedom from Irish difficulties, the old grievances will be intensified, and any bill whatever will at once generate a fresh series of complications, so that the English Parliament will be crippled in perpetuity, to the detriment of British interests. The Empire, as a whole, must be weakened, because the Irish masses are most unfriendly, and the more England concedes the more unfriendly Ireland becomes. For Ireland regards all concessions as being wrung from England by superior force and skill, and as being, in short, the fruits of compulsion. Therefore, the more Ireland gets the more exacting she will always become. Ask any Englishman or Scotsman resident in Ireland if the Irish masses are friendly, and everyone will laugh at you. The English Home Rule party say, 'Just so. Let us cure this. This is the principal argument for Home Rule.' They think this sounds very fine. Just as if in private life, a man to whom you have given his due, and more than his due, should continue to abuse you, while you strain every nerve to satisfy him, and go out of your way to obtain peace and quietness, he all the time becoming more and more exacting and more and more discontented. And then as if you were to say, 'I must continue my concessions, my efforts, my sacrifices. I must contrive to satisfy this amiable person.' What a fool any man would be to adopt such a course. A sensible man would say 'You have your due, and you'll get no more.' Treat Ireland so, and all will be well. Be firm and the trouble will amount to nothing. Paddy will soon drop shouting when he sees it has no effect. The agitators will soon dry up, or waste their sweetness on the desert air. But so long as there is a prospect of success, so long as you have a weak-kneed old lunatic in power, so long as Paddy sees a prospect of obtaining substantial advantages, such as reduction of rent or rent-free farms, so long the row will be kept up. If Englishmen could only realize that, the whole movement would cease. For Gladstonian Englishmen mistakenly think that they can settle the thing by further concession and get to their own business. Few of them care for Home Rule on its own merits. They want Ireland out of the way. They are going the wrong way about it. To give this is to give everything. And let me tell you something new. Once the bill becomes law, and the exactions of a Home Rule Government were enforced by England a great part of Ulster would in pure self-protection, being no longer bound to England by the ties of loyalty, sympathy, and mutual dependence—a great part, practically the whole of Ulster, would box the compass and go in for complete independence, as the best thing possible under the circumstances. England would then feel something in her vitals, something serious and something astonishing. The only rebellion that ever gave England any trouble was worked by Ulstermen. The most effective agitators have nearly always been renegade Protestants. Let England think what she is about before she, at the bidding of a foolish old man, turns her back on her faithful friends to throw herself into the arms of her sworn enemies."
Another Conservative, for I met none other in Armagh, said:—"Surely the minority are worth some consideration. There are one million two hundred thousand loyal Protestants, and certainly many thousand Roman Catholics, who are against the Bill. As Sir George Trevelyan said, 'We must never forget that there are two Irelands,' and as John Bright said, 'There are more loyal men and women in Ireland than the whole population of men and women in Wales.' Yet Mr. Gladstone is so very considerate of Wales. Ireland can point to fully one-third of the entire population, who view with abhorrence the very name of Home Rule, and are pledged to resist it to the last. These people have been and are the friends of England, and England can be proud of them as having flourished under her rule. They have been and are the English garrison in Ireland, and England sorely needs a garrison here. Mr. Gladstone cares nothing for their opinions. On the other hand, he spends his life in pandering to disloyal Ireland, led by men who have openly avowed and gloried in their hatred of England, and who have hundreds of times publicly declared their determination to secure complete independence; men who have broken the law of the land, and have incited others to break it; men who turned a peaceful country into a perfect hell, and have for ever upset the people's notions of honesty. Parnellites and anti-Parnellites have only one end and aim, and only one sentiment. They hate British rule and British loyalists, and aim at the ultimate repeal of the Union, and the absolute separation of the two countries. And they would always be unfriendly. The party of lawlessness, outrage, and rebellion would never hold amicable relations with a law-abiding and peaceful commercial country. There would be no peace for Ireland either. The factions of the Irish party are yearly becoming more and more numerous. In all except hatred to England they are bitterly opposed. All very well to set up Ulster as being the ugly duckling, as being the one dissentient particle of a united Ireland. If every Protestant left the country Ireland would still be divided, and hopelessly divided. Personal reviling, riot, and blackguardism are already common between the factions, united though they try to appear, so far as is necessary to deceive the stupid Saxon. And if the Saxon cannot see the result of trusting the low blackguards who form the working plant of the Nationalist party he is stupid indeed, and deserves all that will happen to him.
"Have you noticed how the Irish people are gulled?"
Yes, I have noticed it. The Freeman's Journal, as the representative paper of the party and the chosen organ of the Church, is run on a pabulum of falsehood. Englishmen would hardly believe such lying possible, but the Freeman, as a liar, has, by constant practice, attained virtuosity. What Rubinstein is on the piano, what Blondin was on the tight-rope, what the Bohee Brothers are on the banjo, what Sims Reeves was in the ballad world, what Irving is in histrionic art, what Spurgeon was as a preacher, what Patti is in opera, what Gladstone is as a word-spinner, what Tim Healy is as a whipping-post, what the Irish peasant is as a lazybones, what Harcourt is as a humbug, what the member for Kilanyplace is as a blackguard, so is the Freeman's Journal as a liar. When quoting great masters examples of their work are always interesting.
The late Chamberlain-Dillon episode is fresh in the minds of all newspaper readers. Dillon wanted the date. The date was given him. He promised to answer the charge, but anybody can see that no answer was possible. He failed to come up to time. Being lugged to the front by the scurf of the neck, he explained that he had used the words, namely, that when the Irish party got power they would remember their enemies, but—much virtue in But—he used the words under the influence of exasperation arising from the Mitchelstown affair—which took place a year later!
Mr. Chamberlain pointed this out, and referring to this incident the Freeman says:—
"Mr. Chamberlain literally grew pale under the succession of exposures, and wriggled in his seat, while he attempted to meet them, now by wriggling equivocations, now by reckless denial." "Mr. Goschen, prompted by Mr. Bolton," horrified the Freeman's delicate taste by "jocose allusions to watertight compartments and to the vessel's toppling over, which grated horribly on the members of the House, with the memory of the recent terrible calamity fresh in their minds." I was in Dublin when the news of the Victoria disaster arrived, and I heard a typical Nationalist express a wish that the whole fleet had perished. Such sentiments are the natural result of the lying literature provided by the "patriot" press of Dublin and the provinces. Well may Home Rule opinion in Ireland be rotten through and through! Mirabeau said of a very fat man that his only use was to show how far the skin would stretch without bursting. The Freeman exists to show to what lengths human fatuity can go. Lying and slander and all uncleanness, envy and hatred and malice and all uncharitableness, are its daily bread. With Home Rule in Ireland, this sheet would be the ruling power. To support Home Rule is for the Freeman to breathe its native air. Under an Irish Parliament, nutriment "thick and slab" would abound, and the patriot print would wax in strength and stature day by day. Enlighten the popular mind, and the Freeman's hours are numbered. It would vanish as a dream, forgotten by all except some old diver into the history of the past, who having read its pages, will shake his head sadly when he hears of Liars, and remembering its Parliamentary notes will say—
"There were Giants in those days."
Armagh, July 6th.
No. 45.—A PICTURE OF ROMISH "TOLERATION."
The country from Armagh to Monaghan is a very garden of Eden, undulating, well wooded, well watered, and in a high state of cultivation. The intervening towns and villages are neat and sweet, and the people seem to be hard workers. Monaghan itself, during the last generation, has wonderfully improved. It suffers by reason of its position on an almost inaccessible branch line, and the complete absence of manufactories, but it has no appearance of poverty. The Diamond is a well-built square, and the whole town, mostly built of stone, some of the streets on terraces, many of them thickly planted with trees, has a shady and sylvan look. The gaol, an enormous building crowning a steep hill, looks like the capitol of a fortress, and appears to have exercised a salutary effect on the neighbourhood, for it has long been disused. The district did not furnish malefactors enough to make the establishment pay. The gaol officials stood about with folded hands wishing for something to do, and probably locked up each other in turn by way of keeping up a pretence of work. The governor had nothing to govern, and the turnkeys sighed as they thought of old times. The thing was growing scandalous, and the ever-diminishing output of convicts marked the decadence of the country. Day by day the officials climbed to the topmost battlement in the hope that rural crime-hunters might be descried bringing in some turnip-stealer, some poacher, some blacker of his neighbour's eye, and day by day these faithful prison-keepers sadly descended to renew the weary round of mutual incarceration, so necessary if they wished to keep their hands in, and to apply somebody's patent rust-preventer to the darling locks, which formerly in better times they had snapped with honest pride. At last the authorities intervened, discharged the turnkeys, and locked up the place. It was a case of Ichabod. The fine gold had become dim and the weapons of war had perished. The officials departed in peace, each vowing that the country was going to the Divil, and each convinced that such a state of things would never come to pass under Home Rule. All became earnest Nationalists in the sure and certain hope that under an Irish Parliament business would revive, that the old place would be re-opened, that its venerable walls would again re-echo the songs of happy criminals, that the oakum-picking industry would revive and flourish, and that the treadwheel (which they identify with the weal of the country) would continuously revolve. Meanwhile, Armagh extends hospitality to stray wrong-doers and Monaghan boards them out to the manifest injury of the local turnkey industry.
The new Roman Catholic Cathedral is said to be the finest in Ireland. It was over thirty years in building, and although the stone of the main fabric cost nothing, the structure cost more than a hundred thousand pounds. The interior is more gorgeous than beautiful, and the money seems to have been expended with execrable taste. The marble mosaic of the chancel floor is beautifully done, the work having been entrusted to Italian workmen, who were engaged on it for several years. The numerous statues of Carrara marble are well executed, and other items are also of the best. But the effect of the whole is inharmonious, and the great lines are obscured by over-ornamentation. You are reminded of an over-dressed woman. The pulpit, surmounted by a lofty conical canopy richly gilt, is supported on four lofty pillars of coffee-coloured marble highly polished. The baldacchino is a glittering affair, forty or fifty feet high, and big enough for a mission church. This also rests on marble columns. The sacristy, chapter-house and other offices are splendidly furnished, and the furniture of the doors, brass branches spreading all over them, massive as mediaeval work, were remindful of Birmingham. The oak drawers of the robing room contain sacerdotal raiment to the tune of two thousand pounds, and the banners, many in number, and of richest work, must also represent a small fortune. Beautiful oil paintings from Italy hang around, and the bishop's throne is a marvel of gold lace and luxury. A queer-looking utensil, like a low seat, but with round brass bosses at each corner, proved to be merely a sort of crinoline whereon the bishop might extend his robes, so as to look inflated and imposing. So does the noble turkey-cock extend himself when bent on conquest of his trustful mate, gobbling the while strange-sounding incantations. To describe in detail would require a book. The confessionals are snug, with rich external carving. Plenty of accommodation for penitents here. Amid such surroundings to be a miserable sinner must be indeed a pleasure. The spire is two hundred and fifty feet high. I mounted and saw the great bell, over three tons in weight. I also saw the bishop's robes of wondrous richness and penetrative virtue, the consecrated slippers which the acolytes wear, with their scarlet robes, remindful of Egyptian flamens and African flamingoes; the blessed candle-box and the seven-times blessed candles, which at once drop tallow on the holder's clothes and benison on his sin-struck soul. All this expense in poor Ireland, all these advantages for poor Ireland. And still the Irish are not happy. With Roman Catholic cathedrals on every hand, with monasteries, nunneries, seminaries, confraternities, colleges, convents, Carmelites, Christian brothers, and collections whichever way they turn, the Irish people should be content. What could they wish for more?