Ireland as It Is - And as It Would be Under Home Rule
by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
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Not long ago the point in the Lough was a rabbit warren, whence the name. Before that the situation was too exposed to the incursions of rovers to tempt settlers, and Narrow-water Castle, built to defend the pass, was (and is) between the town and Newry. But times have changed. Settlers flocked across from Ayr, from Troon, from Ardrossan, and other Scots ports lying handy. A smart, attractive town has sprung up, starting with a square a hundred yards across. Big ships which cannot get up to Newry discharge in the Lough by means of lighters. An eight-hundred-ton barque from Italy is unloading before my window. There is a first-rate quay, with moorings for many vessels. The harbour is connected by rail with all parts of Ireland, and in it seven hundred to eight hundred ships yearly discharge cargoes. The grassy beach-promenade is half-a-mile long, and an open tramcar runs along the shore for three miles. The residents are alive to the importance of catering for visitors, and the Town Commissioners, a mixed body, have provided bathing accommodation for both sexes. Galway, with thrice the population, a fine promenade, good sands, and a grand bay, has no such arrangements; and Westport has very little accommodation for tourists. The contrast between the North of Ireland and the South and West comes out in everything.

The Methodists and Presbyterians are strong in the town, to say nothing of the two Protestant Churches, one in Warrenpoint and another in the Clonallon suburb. The Catholic Chapel is counterbalanced by the Masonic Hall. Wherefore it is not surprising to learn that the bulk of the townsmen are staunch Unionists. The Nationalist papers have little sale hereabouts, the Belfast News Letter and the Irish Times having the pull. A business man, who has lived here for forty years, said:—

"We are fairly matched in numbers but the Conservatives have the wealth and respectability. The fishermen and labourers are nearly all Home Rulers, simply because they are Catholics. They are quite incapable of saying why they are Home Rulers, and some of them even profess to regard the proposed change with alarm, and say they prefer that things should remain as they are. But although they speak so fairly, yet when the time comes to vote, they vote as the priest tells them. They have no option, with their belief. I don't blame the poor fellows one bit. I followed the report of the South Meath election petition very closely, and I know that the same kind of pressure was exerted here. At Castlejordan Chapel Father O'Connell commanded the people, in a sermon, to go to a Nationalist meeting, and said he would be there, and that their parish priest expected them to go. He said that if any were absent he would expect them to give a good and sufficient reason for their absence. On another occasion a priest met a number of men who were going to an opposition meeting, and turned them back with threats. These priests not only threatened to refuse extreme unction to persons who voted against the clerical party, but they also threatened personal violence, and then said, 'Don't hit back, for I have the holy sacrament on me.' Father John Fay, parish priest of Summerhill, County Meath, told his people that they must not look on him as a mere man; if they did they might have some prejudice against him, for all had their shortcomings. 'The priest is the ambassador of Jesus Christ, and not like other ambassadors. He carries his Lord and Master about with him, and when the priest is with the people Almighty God is with them.' That is what Father Fay reckoned himself. Almighty God, no less. He alluded to the consecrated wafers he had in his pocket. The doctrine of transubstantiation is here invoked to assist in carrying a Home Rule candidate of the right clerical shade. And all the awful language used from the altar, in the confessional, all the threats of eternal damnation, and burning in the fires of hell, all the refusals of mass, and to hear dying confessions, were directed against another section of the Home Rule party, and not against a Unionist at all. How does this promise for the working of an Irish Parliament?

"I note that the English Home Rule papers say nothing good of the bill. They are always praising the management of the Old Parliamentary Hand. They beslaver him with fulsome adoration. They cannot point out anything good in the provisions of the bill, nor in the central idea of the bill, but they must fill up somehow, and they praise his artfulness, how he dodged this, and dexterously managed that. They have nothing but admiration for his jugglery and House-of-Commons tricks. They bring him down to the level of a practised conjuror or a thimblerigger. But, with all his wonderful cleverness, he is not admired or supported by any intelligent body of public men. The gag-trick ought to settle him. We in Ulster feel sure that a general election to-morrow would for ever deprive him of power. Of course the Old Hand knows that, and will not give the country an opportunity of pronouncing judgment. He and his flock of baa-lambs will put off the day of reckoning as long as ever they can. Either on the present or next year's register he is bound to be badly beaten. His course is clear. He used to have three courses open to him, but now he has only one. He must try to weather the storm until he has a chance of faking the voters' lists so as to improve his own chances. It is said that Mr. Henry Fowler is already preparing such a scheme. Like enough. If tricks will win, I back the G.O.M. There are more tricks in him than in a waggon-load of monkeys. The strangest thing I ever saw or ever heard of is the calmness with which the English people take the proposition that Ireland shall manage English affairs, while Ireland is to manage her own without any interference. I should have expected the British workman to processionise about this. I should have thought the British middle-classes would have been up in arms at the bare thought of so monstrous a proposition. And so they would if they thought it would become law. But, like us, they know there will never be any Home Rule. Then, they are not so nervous as we in Ireland are, because they don't know as we do what Home Rule really means.

"No earthly power can assist the Irish peasantry so long as they remain under the dominion of the priests. Popery is the vampire that is sucking the life-blood of the country. It is fashionable nowadays to abstain from denouncing other religious systems, on the plea of toleration. I agree with perfect toleration, and I am not desirous of making reference to Romanism. But they force it upon us. The Papist clergy say that the poverty of the country is due to English rule. We who live here know that it is due to Romish rule. How is it that all Protestants are well off, and make no complaint? How is it that their children never run barefoot? How is it that their families are well educated, that their dwellings are clean, and that they pay their way? Home Rule may impoverish those whom the teachings and habits of Protestantism have enriched, but neither Home Rule nor anything else will enrich those whom Popery has impoverished. England should turn a deaf ear to the cry for Home Rule, which means the ruin of her only friends in Ireland, and unknown damage to herself. To give her enemies the means wherewithal to damage her is very midsummer madness."

The difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic farmers was shown in striking contrast on the Marquess of Lansdowne's estate in Queen's County. Most of the tenants were non-judicial, and the total rents amounted to L7,000, of which the Marquess allowed L1,100 to be annually expended on the estate. In 1886 the tenants demanded thirty-five per cent. reduction on non-judicial and twenty-five per cent. on judicial rents, threatening as an alternative to adopt the Plan of Campaign. The Marquess refused to comply with this exorbitant demand, but offered reductions of fifteen to twenty-five per cent. on non judicial rents. The tenants declined to pay anything, and the landlord enforced his rights, Mr. Denis Kilbride, M.P., declaring that "these evictions differed from most of the other evictions to this extent,—that they were able to pay the rent. It was a fight of intelligence against intelligence, a case of diamond cut diamond." Mr. Kilbride, who held a large farm at a rental of seven hundred and sixty pounds was one of the evicted. Another of these poor destitute, homeless tenants, brutally turned out on the roadside to starve, or die like a dog from exposure, was no sooner evicted than he entered a racehorse for the great contest of the Curragh. This victim of Saxon tyranny was named John Dunne, and his holding comprised more than thirteen hundred acres. Let us hope the colt did him credit. Let us trust that the evicted quadruped carried off the blue ribbon of Kildare. For under the Lansdowne "Rack-rents" the struggling farmer could barely keep one racehorse, which, like the fabled ewe-lamb of ancient story, was his little all. Perhaps Mr. Dunne's colt was related to that well-bred travelling horse, of which the picture adorned the walls of Limerick and its vicinity, and which gloried in the name of Justice to Ireland. There were no evicted Protestants on the Lansdowne estate. Every Protestant farmer paid his rent and steadfastly refused to join the Plan of Campaign.

The injustice of an Irish rent largely depends on the question, To whom is it due? A good Nationalist may draw a higher rent than a Loyalist. A sound Home Ruler may ask for and insist on an exorbitant rent, but he is never denounced by the Nationalist press. The Corporation of Dublin is red-hot in the matter of patriotism. Its Parnellite members have from time to time comprised the pick of the Nationalist agitators. The Dublin "patriot" press has ever been foremost in denouncing Rack-rents. But the city of Dublin is a landlord. It has agricultural tenants who are never allowed under pain of eviction to get into arrears. The members of the Corporation fixed the rents, and, strange to say, the tenants at the first opportunity appealed to the Land Commissioners. Six of them holding four hundred and twenty-seven acres of land, were paying L883 16s. 4d. The rent was therefore over L2 an acre, which is perhaps double the average. The Government valuation was L625 10s. The new rent was finally settled at L683, being an all-round reduction of twenty-three per cent. Lord Clanricarde is frequently denounced by Nationalists for excessive rents, lack of conscience, and non-residence. The Land Commissioners were unable to deduct anything like twenty-three per cent. from the Clanricarde rent-roll. The Councillors of Dublin were never upbraided, nor put in danger of their lives. The Loughrea people shot Lord Clanricarde's agent, his driver, his wife, and several other people, in protest against the Clanricarde rents and to encourage the landlord to live on the estate. About a dozen were murdered altogether. Surely these parallel cases should demonstrate the utter hollowness of the Home Rule agitation.

The Protestants of Warrenpoint, like those of Newry and Belfast, are confident of their ability to hold their own. Their attitude is very different from that of the trembling heretics of Tuam or Tipperary. They are strong in numbers, discipline, and resolution, and in addition to upholding their own personal cause they declare that their isolated co-religionists in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught shall not be forsaken nor left to their own shifts. A rough and ready farmer thus spoke forth his mind:—"England may give the Papists a Parliament to manage Papists, but not to manage Protestants. We should never begin to consider the advisability of submitting to it. The thing's clean impossible. What! Let Papists tax us! Pay for the spread of Popery! Did you ever hear anything so absurd? Not one farthing would I ever pay. I'd leave the country first. So would all the decent, industrious folks. We know what happens in every country where Popery gets the mastery. Look at Spain, Italy, and the Catholic parts of Ireland. If England sends an army of redcoats to punish us for our loyalty, we shall give way at once. We've sense enough to know that we could do nothing against the Queen's troops, even if we wished to fight them. But to take arms against the soldiers of England would be quite against our principles. What we should ultimately do, under military compulsion, we have not yet decided, but we should never under any circumstances show fight against the Queen. We don't think the day will ever come when England would send the military to shoot us for sticking to England. As for the police of the Irish Parliament, that's another thing. They would have no assistance in Ulster. The sheriff's officers, when engaged in the compulsory raising of taxes, would have a lively time, and I am sure they would never get any money. We don't take it seriously yet. If the bill were actually on the statute book and an Irish House of Commons doing the Finnigan's wake business with the furniture legs of the College Green Lunatic Asylum, even then we would not take it seriously. We shall never think it worth while to be serious until we see the British army firing on us. It's too ridiculous. We pay no attention to the Irish Nationalist members, whom we regard as a bankrupt lot of bursted windbags. Why, hardly one of them could be trusted with the till of a totty-wallop shop. To how many of them would Gladstone lend a sovereign? How many of them could get tick in London for a new rig-out? Dublin is out of the question, of course, because in Dublin these statesmen are known. Would Englishmen let such men govern their country? Not likely. Nor will we."

I submitted that, so far as at present enacted, these very heroes were really going to govern both England and Ireland. The great organ of English Roman Catholicism objecting to this has given great offence to the Irish Papists, and the Nationalist press is shrieking with futile rage. English Catholicism and Irish Catholicism seem to be entirely different politically. Englishmen are Englishmen first, and Catholics next. Irishmen look first to Rome, and cordially hate England,—there is the difference. The Conservative Catholic organ says, referring to the retention of members at Westminster:—

"With just as much reason might we import a band of eighty South Africans, and whether they were eighty Zulus or eighty Archangels in disguise, their presence in the British House of Commons would be a gross violation of the principles of representative government. At present, as members of the common Parliament of an United Kingdom, English and Irish members have correlative rights, but when Irish affairs are withdrawn from the Parliament at Westminster, on that day must the Irish members cease to take part in purely British legislation. We are asked to grant Home Rule to Ireland in deference to the wishes of the local majority, and then we are told we must let the local majority in Great Britain be dictated to by eighty men who have neither stake in the country nor business in her Parliament, and who do not represent so much as even a rotten borough between them."

My Warrenpoint friend may well say that he cannot take it seriously. The dignity of the English Parliament is, however, a matter of great concern to Englishmen, and that for the present seems consigned to the charge of Dillon, Healy, and Co. And all to further the Union of Hearts. Yet Misther Tay Day Sullivan, not content with the management of both England and Ireland, proposes to oust us from India! The Irish faction will boss the wuruld from ind to ind. Begorra, they will. Tay Day says:—

England fears for India, For there her cruel work Was just as foul and hateful As any of the Turk. But when God sends us thither Her rule to overthrow, With fearless hearts rejoicing To work His will we'll go. Stupid little England Thinks to say us nay, But paltry little England Shall never stop our way.

There is a tribute of affection! There is an outpouring of loyalty! There is an anthem to celebrate the Union of Hearts! It should be sung round a table, Gladstonians and Irish Home Rulers hand in hand, as in "Auld Lang Syne," and given out by Pastor W.E. Gladstone, as short metre, two lines at a time. Why not? Stranger things are happening every day.

Warrenpoint, July 20th.


Englishmen who have any doubt remaining anent Home Rule should read the Irish Nationalist press. Those who propose to concede the measure for the sake of peace and finality should read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the United Ireland leader, which commences: "Let it be pretended no more that the fate of the present Home Rule Bill is henceforth a matter of vital interest to us," and afterwards says, "We shall have to go on fighting—to go on fighting—without even a temporary intermission, and whether this bill pass or not, this year or next, or the year after, no matter what becomes of it." "Mr. Gladstone's bill in its present form is exactly such a Central Council as Mr. Chamberlain would have agreed to at the time of the Round Table Conference. If it pass it can be no more than a milestone on our march. To talk of finality any more would be simply grotesque, and yet the Gladstonians have urged, in season and out of season, that the bill would be nothing if not 'final, reasonably final.'" The English Home Rulers are dealt with as severely as the most hardened Unionist could wish. The writer speaks of their "disastrous fatuity in consuming the whole of this session of the Imperial Parliament, and the greater part of one or two more, over a Home Rule Bill which will settle nothing, no, not even for three years." Disastrous fatuity is a good phrase, an excellent good phrase, in sooth. I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word. Those who believe in the security of the Gladstonian safeguards, and the pacific disposition of the Nationalist party, will perhaps be able to put a friendly construction on the passage which begins:—"And it is already settled that no man in Ireland is to bear a rifle unless he be a soldier of the army of occupation, which will still be encamped on our soil 'to mak siccare.' This hateful and degrading prohibition is what no Parnellite can pretend to consent to for any reasonable or unreasonable fraction of a period of reasonable finality." Those who believe in the severe commercial morality and rigid honesty of the authors of the Plan of Campaign will doubtless find their favourable opinion confirmed by the succeeding remarkable complaint. "And the Irish Legislature—would it not be better policy now to refuse to regard it as a Parliament and to refuse to call it so?—is forbidden to take away any person's property except by process of law, in accordance with settled principles and precedents. There's trouble here." There is indeed trouble here. An Irish Parliament which could not "take away any person's property except by process of law" would be shorn of its principal functions, would fail to justify its existence, would fall immeasurably short of the popular expectation, would have, in fact, no earthly raison d' etre. An Irish Parliament without power to take from him that hath, and give unto him that hath not, would be without functions, and the foinest pisintry in the wuruld would instantly rebel against such a nonentity. The farmers remember the oft-repeated statements of Mr. Timothy Healy to the effect that "landlordism is the prop of the British Government, and it is that we want to kick away." And the benefit accruing from this vigorous action was by the same eloquent patriot very plainly stated. "The people of this country ought never to be satisfied so long as a single penny of rent is paid for a sod of land in the whole of Ireland." And they never will be satisfied, with or without rent. Their dissatisfaction has enabled Mr. Healy to put money in his purse. The wail of a great people whose Parliament will not be allowed to rob from all and sundry is accounted for towards the close of the article. There will be trouble "as soon as the Dublin Legislature becomes hard pushed for money, which will be desperately often from the beginning, as is now plain."

These considerations are closely observed by the people of Strabane, the best of whom are steady loyalists. The town is bright, brisk, thriving, and Scotch. Or rather the Scottish element is conspicuous in the main street, with its McCollum and Mackey, its Crawford and Aikin, its Colhoun and Finlay, its Lowry and McAnaw. There are several shirt factories, of which the biggest is run by Stewart and Macdonald. A number of names which may be either English or Scotch are equally to the front, Taylor, White, and Simms, cheek by jowl with doubtful cases like McCosker and McElhinney, which, however, smack somewhat of the tartan. Macfarlane issues a notice, which is printed by Blair, and besides White I notice Black and Gray. The establishment of Mr. Snodgrass, near the Scotch Boot Stores, was remindful of Charles Dickens, and the small flautist piping "Annie Laurie," put me in mind of Robert Burns, the hairdresser of Warrenpoint. It became difficult to realise that this was Ireland. Not far away are two mountains, named respectively Mary Gray and Bessie Bell. The hills round Strabane retain their Irish names, but the genius of the place is distinctly Scottish. There are Irish parts of Strabane, but they are unpleasant and unimportant. The Unionists pay three-fourths of the rates, but there is only one Loyalist on the Town Council, which has nine members, of which number three retire annually in rotation. The Town Commissioners, as a whole, are not highly esteemed by the people of Strabane. One of them, the leading light of the local Nationalist party, is rated at L8. Another, a working plasterer, is the accredited agent of the Home Rule party in this division of Tyrone, and is playfully called the Objector-General, on account of his characteristic method of working in the Registry Court. The Chairman, who occupies the position of Mayor, but without the title, is rated at L13. Two small publicans are rated at L12 and L27 respectively. The remainder, including the Conservative member, are rated sufficiently high to be regarded as having some stake in the country, and no objection is taken on this score. But the Strabane Town Commissioners are intolerant. Apart from the fact that they admit only one Unionist to a body which derives three-fourths of its funds from Unionists, they are distinctly intolerant in the matter of employment. They employ no Protestants. Their solicitor, Mr. William Wilson, is indeed of the proscribed faith, but he seems to have inherited the office from his father. No Protestants need apply for any situation, however small, under the Strabane Town Council, which pays its servants with the money of Protestants. This is the party which clamours for equality of treatment, and eternally complains of the exclusiveness of Protestantism. A well-known Strabaner said:—

"If we are shut out from the Town Council, it is, to some extent, our own fault. Two causes mainly contributed to this result—the apathy of the Unionist voters, and the unwillingness of our best men to rub up against some of the men put forward by the other party. I say some only, not all. We did not care to be mixed up with fellows of low class, especially when they are as ignorant as possible. Then again, we are well represented on the Poor Law Board, which really has all the power, attending as it does to sanitation and so forth. The Nationalists greedily snap at every shred and semblance of power, and leave no stone unturned to get the mastery. There has come a sad change over the poor folks, that is, the Roman Catholics. Formerly they were civil and kind, and we all got on famously together. If a Protestant was out in the country a mile or two away, and rain came on, they were hospitable with that beautiful old courtesy which was one of the best things the nation possessed. It was something to boast of. It was unique, and could not be found in such perfection out of Ireland. It's all over now. Since Mr. Gladstone commenced to destroy the country the poor folks hereabouts have changed very much for the worse, and if you now got caught in a shower while out in the country you might be drowned before they would ask you to take shelter. They expect to be enjoying our property very shortly. They fully believe that they will soon have the land and goods that we have worked for and earned by the sweat of our brows, while they have stood by complaining, instead of doing their best to get on. What shall I do if Home Rule becomes law? Just this—I shall get out of the country in double-quick time. There will be no security for life or property. The country will be a perfect Hell upon Earth."

There are three rivers at Strabane, which, notwithstanding the neglect of the guide-books, is well worth the tourist's attention. The Mourne, a really beautiful river, runs beside the town, washing the very houses of a long street, and meeting the Finn, another fine river, in the meadows near Lifford, which is in Donegal, but for all that only ten minutes' walk from Strabane. From the confluence the river is called the Foyle, so that from the splendid bridge leading into Lifford may be seen the rare spectacle of three considerable rivers in one meadow. Lifford is very clean and very pretty. The gaol is the most striking building, and I wandered through its deserted corridors, desolate as those of Monaghan. There were some strange marks in the principal square; a number of parallel lines which puzzled me. I turned to the gaoler who had just liberated me for some explanation.

"Faith, thin, it's the militia officers that made them."

"Studying fortification?"

"Divil a fortification, thin. 'Tis lawn tennis it is, jist."

And so it was. Two courts of lawn tennis in the square of the county town of Donegal! That will give some idea of the business traffic.

An experienced electioneerer said:—"We had an awful fight before we could return Lord Frederick Hamilton for North Tyrone. We had all our work cut out, for although we have on paper a majority of about one hundred, many of our people are non-resident landlords, or army and navy men, and they are not here to vote for us. So that our majority of forty-nine was a close thing, though not so close as we expected. The other side do not fight fair. Their tricks in the Registry Court are most discreditable. Both parties fight the register, the Nationalists expending any amount of time and money, and showing such enthusiasm as our people never show. And this is the reason. Our Scots farmers—for they are as Scottish as their ancestors of two hundred years ago—will stick to their work, and persist in making their work the paramount concern of their lives. They cannot believe that objections will be made to their names on the register, and when such objections have been raised they must appear in person, and there comes the difficulty. For if it's harvest time, or if engaged on any necessary work, you cannot get them to the Court. At Newtonstewart where the bulk of the voters are Protestant, no less than five substantial farmers were objected to successively. The inspector, that is, the Nationalist agent who is supposed to look into the claims of the Unionist party, said that one had assigned the farm to his son, or that another was not the real tenant, or that something else was wrong, and as this statement established a prima-facie case, it became necessary for the persons whose votes were questioned to come into Court. Now, there is the rub. The objector calculates that some will not come, for he knows how hard it is to get them to come. Then they stuff the register with bogus names. They put down dozens of people who don't exist, with the object of polling somebody for them—if any of them should escape the scrutiny of the opposite party—and with the further object of causing the Unionist party expense and loss of time. For there is a stamp duty of threepence to be paid for every objection, and then the Loyalist lawyer and his staff are kept at work for six weeks, instead of a fortnight or three weeks, which should be the outside time taken. Then the annoyance and loss of time to the industrious Unionist voters, who have to leave their work. This does not hurt the opposite party, who have nothing else to do, and who in these wrangling affairs are in their native element, thoroughly enjoying themselves. What makes the work so hard for the Loyalist lawyer is the fact that our folks are all for business and look upon politics as a nuisance, while the other side make politics the principal business of their lives. They are tremendously energetic in this, but wonderfully supine in everything else. In politics they spare neither time nor money, nor (for the matter of that) swearing. The lying that goes on in the Registry Court would astonish Englishmen. The Papist party themselves admit that they are awful liars, but they laugh it off, and plead that all is fair in love and war.

"The priest sits in the Revision Court all day long. In these Revision Courts every priest is an agent of the Separatist party. They watch the inspectors and witnesses, keeping a keen eye on those who do not swear hard enough, ready to reward or censure, as the case may be. Every Sunday the people are instructed from the altar as to their political action. This eternal elbowing-on keeps them up to their work, as well as the promises of the good things to come. Our folks are never worked up. That makes it very hard for us. They came up pretty well last time, though. But when one side is all for business, and the other side all for politics, the business folks are handicapped.

"The Nationalists ran John Dillon on one occasion. We smashed him up. No respectable constituency would ever return any of his class, and we resented the attempt to couple us with a man of that stamp. He was beaten by several hundreds. Then they ran a Mr. Wylie, who had been a Land Commissioner for this district. We thought that positively indecent, and we wondered that any gentleman would put himself in such a position. He had been round here reducing rents, and then he came forward as a candidate. We accuse him of bad taste, nothing worse. He only made one speech, though, and that was to thank the people for placing him at the bottom of the poll. He confined himself to canvassing. If he had once mounted the hustings we would have heckled him about the Land Commission business. He knew that and never gave us a chance. It was a cute stroke of policy to bring him forward. He was a Presbyterian, and might be Land Commissioner again. At least the people thought so. Then they tried a Professor Dougherty, of Londonderry, another Home Rule Presbyterian; for there are a few, though you could count them off on your fingers, and they are a hundred times outnumbered by the Conservative Catholics. He belonged to Magee College, and we trotted out the whole of his co-professors against him. We never had a meeting without one or other of his colleagues pitching into him—a great joke it was.

"Over the water Mr. E.T. Herdman tried to get in for East Donegal, a very popular man who pays thirty or forty thousand pounds a year in wages. The people promised to support him. The priests promised to support him. They asked what would they do else, and what did he take them for? They are so anxious about employment, these good men. All they want is the good of the people. You saw how they ran after the Lord Lieutenant saying: Only find us work! You see how they run after the Countess of Aberdeen, who is encouraging industry (and about whom there are some pickings). What did the people of East Donegal do, under the guidance of their clergy? They returned Arthur O'Connor, who never did anything for them, who never darkens their doors, and who is utterly unknown to them. What can you say for them after that?"

The politician who was preferred to Mr. Herdman probably promised to give the people "all they want," while the Unionist was only paying them wages for working all the year round. And besides this, Mr. O'Connor's speeches were probably more full-flavoured, more soul-satisfying, than those of Mr. Herdman, who, being a practical man of business, and having a sense of responsibility, would only talk common-sense, and would promise no more than he could hope to perform. Mr. O'Connor speaks in the epic style. He reminds you of Bombastes Furioso, or Ancient Pistol, with a subtle admixture of Falstaff and Parolles. He belongs to the lime-light and blue fire school of oratory, and backs up a vivid imagination with a virulent hatred of England. The raging sea of sedition which surged around us is now silent enough. It Now hath quite forgot to rave While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave. The reason why is plain or should be plain to anything above the level of a Gladstonian intellect. It cannot be amiss, though, to recall a specimen of Mr. Arthur O'Connor's style, that so we may judge of his superior acceptability to the people of East Donegal. Speaking after the Union of Hearts had been invented and patented (provisionally), Mr. O'Connor said:—

"I know it to be a fact that in whatever war Great Britain may be involved, whatever Power she may have to struggle with, that Power can count on a hundred thousand Irish arms to fight under her flag against Great Britain—(great cheering). Does not the Government of the United States know perfectly well that at three days' notice it could have a force, of which one hundred thousand would only be a fraction, a force willing to serve against Great Britain for the love of the thing, without any pay?—(renewed applause). And it is not amiss that the Government of England should know it also"—(continued applause). The M.P. who made this speech is one of the politicians now dominating the English Parliament at Westminster. It is in response to the clamour of him and his sort that the gag is put on men like Balfour, Goschen, Chamberlain. This little gem set in the silver sea, this isle, this realm, this England, is becoming a paltry concern, is fast being Gladstoned into drivelling imbecility. What does O'Connor mean by the 100,000 Irish arms? Does he mean 50,000 Irishmen? The point is obscure, as will be seen from the oratory of another distinguished patriot, who said, "Ten millions of Irish hearts are beating with high anticipation, ten millions of eyes are looking forward to the passing of the bill." A very large number of one-eyed Irishry.

The Irish Catholic makes a slip. The journal approves of Mr. Gladstone's closure, but with reference to the refusal of a newspaper to print a Dr. Laggan's letter about, something delivers itself thus:—

The application of the gag in polities has always been the resort of the stupid, incapable, and tyrannical politician. Whether tried in Russia, in France, or in England of old, it has invariably failed in its purpose. The stifling of the individual voice becomes of small advantage when the object-lesson of its possessor with a bandage across his mouth, and his hands tied behind his back, is presented to the populace. Just as the gag has failed elsewhere it is, we are glad to think, destined to fail in Ireland also, and, indeed, if it were not so destined, Ireland would be precisely the best country to live out of.

So much for absent-mindedness. It is pleasant to be able to agree with the Irish Catholic for once.

On the whole, the confusion is deepening. The Grand Juries of Ireland are passing unanimous resolutions condemning the bill. The Nationalist party condemns the bill. The Scottish Covenanters, who have not delivered a political pronouncement for more than two hundred years, and who never vote either way, have risen in their might and cursed the bill, smiting the Papists hip and thigh with great slaughter, and denouncing the movement as purely in the interests of Romanist ascendency. Be it understood that these religionists live in Ireland and date their malediction from Coleraine. But nothing will stop the G.O.M.'s gallop over the precipice. Let him go, but let him not drag the country after him. And in after years his Administration will be described in words like those of Burke, who, speaking of the Gladstone of his day, said, "He made an Administration so checked and speckled, he put together a piece of joinery so crossly indented and whimsically dovetailed, a cabinet so variously inlaid, such a piece of diversified mosaic, such a tesselated pavement without cement, that it was indeed a curious show, but utterly unsafe to touch and unsure to stand upon. The colleagues whom he had assorted at the same boards, stared at each other, and were obliged to ask, 'Sir, your name?' 'Sir, you have the advantage of me. Mr. Such-a-one, I beg a thousand pardons.' I venture to say that persons were there who had never spoken to each other in their lives until they found themselves together they knew not how, pigging together heads and points in the same truckle bed." This is prophecy.

Have you heard that Mr. Balfour, who went through Ireland without an escort, is unable to move about England without the protection of a hundred and fifty mounted police to save him from English Home Rulers who are burning to avenge the wrongs of Ireland? No? England is badly served in the matter of news. They manage these things better in Ireland. A leading Dublin Nationalist print has a number of prominent headlines referring to the "facts." "The Arch-Coercionist Protected by Police. Caught in His Own Trap." The writer even goes into particulars and tells how "effusively" the ex-Secretary thanked the police for protecting his "frail personality." The Irish moonlight patriots are gratified. Balfour was their aversion. During his reign it could no longer be said that the safest place in Ireland, the one spot where no harm could befall you, was the criminal dock. Balfour stamped out midnight villainy, and helped the industrious poor. Wherefore he is honoured by honest Irishmen and hated by all rascalry. Ireland needs him again with his suaviter in modo, fortiter in re; his fairness and firmness, his hatred of tyranny, his determination to do right though the heavens should fall. With Balfour in office the Irish agitators have hard work to keep the broil agoing. They hate him because of the integrity which won the confidence of the Irish people, and because of the substantial benefit arising from his rule, a benefit there was no denying because it was seen and known of all men. The return of Balfour to power threatens to cut the ground from under the feet of those who live by agitation. They dread him above everything. They are horror-stricken at the prospect of a return to his light railways and heavy sentences. Hence this attempt to damage his prestige. Unhappy Mr. Balfour! To be protected by one hundred and fifty mounted police, and not to know of it! And the venal English press which conceals the fact, what shall be said of it? Where would England be but for Irish newspaper enterprise?

Strabane, July 22nd.


This is a terribly Protestant place. The people are unpatriotic and do not want Home Rule. They speak of the Nationalist members with contempt, and say they would rather be represented by gentlemen. They are very incredulous, and refuse to believe in the honesty of "honest" John Dillon. They say that Davitt is a humbug and Healy a blackguard. They speak of O'Brien's breeches without weeping, and opine that Davitt's imprisonments and Healy's horse-whipping served them both right. These misguided Irishmen affect to believe that the English laws are good, that Ireland is a splendid country, and that things would be far better as they are. Raphoe is on the road to nowhere, and yet it runs a rattling tweed mill—the proprietor is a Unionist, of course. Queer it is to see this flourishing affair in the wilds of Donegal. Blankets, travelling rugs, and tweed for both sexes, of excellent quality and pretty patterns. Raphoe has a cathedral, but without features of note. The bishop's palace is in ruins. In 1835 the bishopric was annexed to Derry. The police of this district are sad at heart. There are but few of them, very few indeed, and they have no work to do. These Protestant districts afford no pleasurable excitement. Work, work, work, without any intervals of moonlighting and landlord shooting. These Saxon settlers have no imagination. Like mill horses, they move in one everlasting round, unvaried even by a modicum of brigandage. An occasional murder, a small suspicion of arson, might relieve the wearisome monotony of their prosaic existence, but they lack the poetic instinct. They have not the sporting tastes of their Keltic countrymen. They are not ashamed of this, but even glory in it. An Orangeman asked me to quote a case of shooting from behind a wall by any of his order. He says no such thing ever took place, and actually boasted of it! He declared that if the body had in future any shooting to do they would do it in the open. The Nationalist patriots are more advanced. They know a trick worth two of that. The Protestant party have no experience in premeditated murder, and must take a back seat as authorities in the matter. They have not yet discovered that shooting from behind a wall is comparatively safe, and safety is a paramount consideration. Landlords and agents carry rifles, and should they be missed unpleasant results might ensue. The case of Smith, quoted in a Mayo letter, shows the danger of missing. It is not well to place the lives of experienced and valuable murderers at the mercy of a worthless agent. The Nationalist party cannot afford to expose to danger the priceless ruffians whose efforts have converted Mr. Gladstone and his Tail. The patriots need every man who can shoot, and the stone walls of Ireland are a clear dispensation of Providence. To shoot in the open is a flying in the face of natural laws. The patriots are wedded to the walls, or, as they call them in Ireland, ditches. The "back iv a ditch" is a proverbial expression for the coign of vantage assumed for the slaying of your enemy. Like General Jackson, the Irish are Stone-wallers, but in another sense. They have brought the Art of Murder with Safety to its highest pitch of perfection. They are the leading exponents of mural musketry.

A moderate Unionist said:—"To speak of tolerance in the same breath with Irish Roman Catholicism is simply nonsense. You will not find any believers in this theory among the Protestants of this district, although being more numerous they are not so much alarmed as the unfortunate residents in Romanist centres. We cannot believe anything so entirely opposed to the evidence of our senses. A Protestant farmer of my acquaintance, the only Protestant on a certain estate, has confided to me his intention of leaving the district should the bill pass, because he thinks he could not afterwards live comfortably among his old neighbours. A woman who had occupied the position of servant in a Protestant family for forty years, recently went to her mistress with tears in her eyes, and said her clergy had ordered her to leave, as further continuance in the situation would be dangerous to her eternal interests. A girl who had been four years in another situation has also left on the same plea. The progress of Romanism is distinctly towards intolerance. It becomes narrower and narrower as time goes on. This is proved by the fact that formerly dispensations were granted for mixed marriages—that is, Catholic and Protestant—on the understanding that the children should be brought up, the boys in the father's faith, the girls in the mother's. All that is now changed, and dispensations are only granted on condition that all the children shall be Roman Catholics. The absolute despotism of the Catholic clergy is every year becoming more marked. They rule with a rod of iron. A bailiff of my acquaintance who had paid all his clerical dues, was very badly treated because he was a bailiff and for no other earthly reason. No priest in Ireland would perform the marriage ceremony for his daughter, who actually went to America to be married. She was compelled to this, the bridegroom going out in another boat. The ceremony being performed, they returned to Ireland, and the girl's father assures me that the affair cost him fifty pounds. The case of Mrs. Taylor, of Ballinamore, was a very cruel one, which a word from the priest of the district would have altogether prevented. But that word was not spoken, for she was a Protestant. Her brother had discharged a cotter, I do not know whether justly or unjustly, but although Mrs. Taylor had nothing whatever to do with the affair—and it was not asserted that she had—she was severely boycotted. The brother, who was the guilty party, if anybody was guilty, was rather out of the way, and being a substantial farmer, quite able to hold his own, could not be got at. But Mrs. Taylor was a widow, and lived by running a corn mill. Nobody went near it, nobody would have anything to do with the widow, who, however, struggled on, until the mill was burnt to the ground. She was compensated by the County, and rebuilt the mill. This spring it was again burnt down, and she is ruined. Her property is now in the Receiver's hands, and she is going through the Bankruptcy Court.

"The Home Rule Bill has produced, with much that is tragic, some comical effects. Since the passing of the Second Reading our servant has become unmanageable. She is evidently affected in the same way as many of the most ignorant Papists, believing that the time will soon come when, by the operation of the new Act, she will so far rise in the social scale as to be quite independent of her situation. This kind of thing is visible all around. There is work for everyone about here, but the farmers cannot get labourers. In many parts of Ireland the cry is 'There is no employment,' but here it is not so. There is plenty of work at good wages, waiting to be done, but men cannot be got to do it. The Sion Mills, which employ twelve hundred people, eight hundred Catholics and four hundred Protestants, would employ many more if they could be had. The labourers of this district are Catholic, and they prefer to stand loafing about to the performance of regular work. They believe that a perpetual holiday is coming, and that they may as well have a foretaste of the ease which is to come. Up to the times of the Home Rule Bill they were industrious enough. The Catholics of Tyrone and Donegal are not like those of the South and West. They are very superior, both in cleanliness and industry. Having for so long mingled with the Saxon settlers of the North, they have imbibed some of their industrial spirit, and until lately there was no reasonable ground of complaint. Their morale is unhappily now sadly shaken, and whether the bill passes or not it will be long, very long, before they resume their industrial pursuits with the energy and regularity of men who have nothing on which to depend but their own exertions. And whatever happens to the bill, the country will be the poorer for its introduction. Ireland is now an excellent country to live out of, and those who can leave it have the most enviable lot."

A man of few words said:—"Under Home Rule the landlords may take their hook at once. Their property will disappear instanter. The tenant has already more lien on the land than the fee-simple in toto is worth, and with a Nationalist Parliament he would pay no rent at all. The judges would not grant processes, and if they did their warrants could not be enforced. The destruction of the landlord class means the destruction of English influence in Ireland. A short time ago two men were talking together. One was doubtful, and said, 'Michael Davitt says we must have only five acres of land. Now you have twenty-five acres, you'll lose twenty.' 'Ye didn't read it right,' said the other. ''Tis the landlords and them that holds a thousand and two thousand acres that'll be dispossessed, and their land divided among the people. In six years we'll have the counthry independent, and then we'll do as we like. Every Saxon will be cleared out of the counthry. Only keep yer tongue between yer teeth. Be quiet and wait a bit till ye see what happens.'

"'But,' said the objector, 'them Ulster fellows'll give us no peace. They have arms, and I'm towld they have a lot of sojers among them, and that they're drilled, and have officers, regular military officers. Sure, how would we do as we liked, wid an army of them fellows agin us? And they're devils to fight, they say.'

"'Arrah now, sure, ye're mighty ignorant, thin. Sure, they say they'll not pay taxes. Thin the sojers comes in and shoots them down, and you and I stands by wid our tongues in our cheeks. 'Tis no consarn of ours. We have nothin' to say to it, one way or another. The Orangemen can shoot the troops, and the troops can shoot the Orangemen, and they can murdher each other to their heart's contint, and fight like Kilkenny cats, till there's nothin' left but the tail. And good enough for the likes of them. Sure, twill be great divarshun for them that looks on. And that's the way of it, d'ye mind me?'"

This worthy politician must have been a perfect Machiavelli. His favourite saying was doubtless 'A plague on both your houses,' and with equal certainty his favourite quotation the bardic 'Whether Roderigo kill Cassio, or Cassio kill Roderigo, or each kill the other, every way makes my gain.' His theory of Nationalist progress was four-square and complete, and showed a neat dovetailing of means with the end. There is some justification for his simple faith. He has seen Mr. Gladstone and his supporters, converted en bloc, including the great Sir William Harcourt, styled by the Parnellite sheet "the new-born, emancipator of Ireland," the unambitious and retiring Labouchere, the potent Cunninghame Graham, the profound Conybeare, and the pertinacious Cobb—he has seen these great luminaries throwing in their lot with the sworn enemies of England, and doing all that in them lies to disintegrate and destroy the Empire, and the rude peasant may be pardoned for expecting that the British army will, at his call, complete what these worthies have so well begun. To narrow loyalist liberties, to tax loyalist industry, to create a loyalist rebellion, and to have the loyalists shot by other loyalists is an excellent all-round scheme. This is indeed a high-souled patriotism.

Continuing, my friend said:—"A Romanist neighbour of mine had promised to vote for Lord Frederick Hamilton, for, as he said, he had no confidence in any Irish Parliament. Just before the battle he called and said he must vote the other way, for Father Somebody had called on him and said, 'I hear you are going to vote for Lord Frederick Hamilton.' Admitted. 'Then you may call in Lord Frederick Hamilton to visit you on your death-bed. You can get him to administer the Sacraments of the Church.' 'What could I do?' said the farmer. 'I couldn't go against the priest. I could not incur the anger of my clergy without imperilling my immortal soul. Besides that, I'd be made a mark and a mock of. Perhaps I'd be refused admission to Mass, like the men in South Meath who voted contrary to the orders of the priest. So to save my soul I'll have to vote against my conscience. No use in telling me we will vote by ballot. Them priests knows everything. They fix themselves in the polling booths, and they can read what way ye went in your face. Sure, they know us all inside and out, since we were So high. We couldn't desave them.' Then they always act as personation agents, and they order people who can read and write to say they can't do either. So they have to declare aloud whom they will vote for, and the priest hears for himself. This is the true explanation of the fearful illiteracy of Donegal, as revealed by the voting papers. Is it likely that in one quarter of Donegal—that is, in one-fourth part of one county—there should be more illiterates than in the whole of Scotland? Yet according to the election returns, it was even so. The fact that the people declared themselves illiterate at the orders of the priest, when they were not illiterate, shows how degraded are the people, and how completely they are under the thumb of the priests."

A Protestant clergyman on his holidays, and not belonging to these parts, was very eloquent on the subject of political popery. In all my journeyings I have never interviewed a Protestant parson, save and except Dr. Kane, whom I met in the Royal Avenue, Belfast, along with the Marquess of Londonderry and Colonel Saunderson, as recorded in an early letter. I was disposed to believe that the English public might regard their evidence as being prejudiced, and therefore of little value. But my Raphoe acquaintance was a singularly modest and moderate man, upon whose opinion you at once felt you could rely. He said:—"My Catholic neighbours were friends until lately. Nobody could have been more kind and obliging. There was no sensible difference between us, except that they did not come to church. They would do anything for me and my family; we would do anything for them. Lately they have changed their manner. They have grown cold. Their children playing with mine have let out the secret. Through them we learn that the days of the Protestants are numbered. Father says this, and mother says that. My land is disposed of among my Papist neighbours. All my congregation have similar experiences. This makes things very unpleasant, and nothing can ever bring back the kind, neighbourly feeling of old. The Papist clergy are the cause of it all. Their church is nothing if not absolute, and dominancy is their aim. The Protestant party will get no quarter. I do not say we shall be murdered, or even personally maltreated. But when the large majority of a district want to see the back of you, with the idea of dividing your farm or your Church lands, they have many ways of making things so unpleasant that you would soon be glad to go. For my own part, I should endeavour to leave the country at the earliest possible moment. And that is what 999 Protestants out of 1,000 would tell you. The clergy are inimical to England. Here and there you find a Conservative, and, strange to say, the scholarly men, what you might call the gentlemanly party, are against Home Rule. These, unhappily, are very few. The Maynooth men are violently against England." This cleric called attention to the opinion of Dr. Wylie, of Edinburgh, who has made a special study of the matter. The learned professor says the more palpable decadence of Ireland dates from the erection of Maynooth. Before the institution of this school the Irish priests were educated in France, then the least ultramontane country in popish Europe. They could not be there without imbibing a certain portion of the spirit of "Gallican liberties." It was argued that by educating them at home, we should have a class of priests more national and more attached to British rule; at least we would have gentlemen and scholars, who would humanise their flocks. These have since been shown to be miserable sophisms. "Maynooth is a thoroughly ultramontane school. We have exchanged the French-bred priest, illread in Dens, with low notions of the supremacy, and proportionally high notions of the British Crown, for a race of crafty, Jesuitical, intriguing, thorough-trained priests of the ultramontane school, who recognise but one power in the world—the Pontifical—and who are incurably alienated from British interests and rule. The loud and fearful curses fulminated from the altar, which come rolling across the Channel, mingled with the wrathful howls of a priest-ridden and maddened people, proclaim the result. These are your Maynooth scholars and gentlemen! These are your pious flocks, tended and fed by the lettered priests of Maynooth! Better had we flung our money into the sea, than sent it across the Channel, to be a curse in the first place to Ireland, and a curse in the second place to ourselves, by the demoralising and anti-national sentiments it has been employed to propagate. The better a priest, the worse a citizen. And whom have Government found their bitterest enemies? Who are the parties who have invariably withstood all their plans for civilising Ireland? Why, those very priests whom they have clothed, and educated, and fed."

Such, according to an expert, are the men who now manipulate the voting powers of the Irish people. The priests do not deny that they have this full control; they merely say they have a right to it. Bishop Walsh, of Dublin, says that as priests, and independent of all human organisations, they have an inalienable and indisputable right to guide the people in this momentous proceeding, as in every other proceeding where the interests of Catholicity as well as the interests of Irish nationality are involved. He suggested, and the suggestion was adopted, that at all the political conventions held in the various Irish counties an ex-officio vote should be given to the priests! This embodied the principle that if Home Rule became law the Irish priesthood would have privileges which would make them absolute rulers of Ireland. Cardinal Logue says:—"We are face to face at the present moment with a great disobedience to ecclesiastical authority." This was in view of the Parnellite rebellion against priestly dictation. "The doctrines of the present day," said the good Cardinal, "are calculated (horror!) to wean the people from the priests' advice, to separate the priests from the people, and (here the Cardinal must have shivered with unspeakable disgust) TO LET THE PEOPLE USE THEIR OWN JUDGMENT." These are Cardinal's words, not mine. To make any comment would be to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume o'er the violet. Well might Mr. Gladstone say nineteen years ago:—"It is the peculiarity of Roman theology, that by thrusting itself into the temporal domain, it naturally, and even necessarily, comes to be a frequent theme of political discussion." Archbishop Croke was the inspirer of the Tipperary troubles, worked out by his tools, Dillon, O'Brien, and Humphreys. Dr. Croke helped to found the Gaelic Athletic Association, which is well-known to be the nucleus of a rebel army. Dr. Croke gave L5 to the Manchester Murderers' Memorial Fund, and accompanied the gift with a letter stating that the men who murdered Police-sergeant Brett were "wrongfully arrested, unfairly tried, barbarously executed, and went like heroes to their doom." It was Dr. Croke who supported a movement to raise a pension for James Stephens, the Fenian Head-centre, the famous Number One, the general of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood. We are asked to believe that this gentleman and his crew of subordinate clergy are eminently loyal, and that the moment a Home Rule Bill puts it into their power to injure England, from that very moment they will become friendly indeed, will cease to do evil and learn to do well, and that the altars from which England is now every Sunday hotly denounced will in future vibrate with the resonant expression of sacerdotal affection.

These gentlemen must have a wonderful opinion of the gullibility of the great Saxon race. But as they see a certain portion believe in Mr. Gladstone they may expect them to believe in anything. To swallow the G.O.M. plus Harcourt, Healy, Conybeare, Cobb, O'Brien, and the Home Rule Bill is indeed a wonderful feat of deglutition.

Raphoe, (Co. Donegal), July 25th.


The Stranorlar people can be excessively funny. In a well-known public resort yesterday I witnessed a specimen of their sportive style. A young fellow was complaining that the examining doctor of some recruiting station had refused him "by raison of my feet."

"I heerd tell they wouldn't take men wid more than fifteen inches of foot on thim," remarked a bystander. "The Queen couldn't shtand the expinse at all at all in leather."

"Arrah, now, will ye be aisy," said another. "Sure, Micky isn't all out so bad as Tim Gallagher over there beyant, that has to get up an' go downstairs afore he can tur-rn round in bed. An' all on account iv the size iv his feet. 'Tis thrue what I spake, divil a lie I tell ye. The boy has to get up and go down shtairs, an' go into the sthreet, an' come up the other way afore he can tur-rn round, the crathur."

"Hould yer whist, now, till I tell ye," said another. "Ye know Kerrigan's whiskey-shop. Well, one day Kerrigan was standin' chattin' wid his wife, when the shop-windy all at once wint dark, an' Kerrigan roars out, 'What for are ye puttin' up the shutters so airly?' says he. An' faix, 'twas no wondher ye'd think it, for ould Hennessy of Ballybofey had fallen down in the street, an' it was the two good-lookin' feet of him stickin' up that was darkenin' the shop. Ax Kerrigan himself av it wasn't."

A roar of laughter followed this sally, and the rejected recruit was comforted.

Stranorlar is pleasantly situated on the river Finn, in a fertile valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of green hills, beyond which may in some direction be seen the more imposing summits of the Donegal highlands. The walk to Meenglas, Lord Lifford's Irish residence, would be considered of wonderful beauty if its extensive views were visible anywhere near Birmingham; but in Ireland, where lovely scenery is so uncommonly common, you hardly give it a second glance. The tenantry are mostly Nationalist, if they can be said to be anything at all. They one and all speak highly of Lord Lifford, whose kindness and long-suffering are administered con amore by genial Captain Baillie. They have no opinions on Home Rule or, indeed, on any other political subject, and will agree with anything the stranger may wish. Whatever you profess as your own opinion is certain to be theirs, and like Artemus Ward they might conclude their letters with "I don't know what your politics are, but I agree with them." Every man Jack of the Catholic peasantry votes as he is told by his priest, and no amount of argument, no amount of most convincing logic, no earthly power could make him do otherwise. He will agree with you, will swear all you say, will go further than you go yourself, will clinch every argument you offer in the most enthusiastic way. Then he will vote in the opposite direction. He thinks that in voting against the priest he would be voting against God, and his religion compels him to conscientiously vote against his conscience, if any. A burning and shining light among the Home Rulers of Stranorlar having been indicated, I contrived to meet him accidentally as it were, and after some preliminary remarks of a casual nature my friend informed me that he was agin Home Rule, as, in his opinion, it would desthroy the counthry; that the farmers believed they would get the land for nothing, and that they were told this by "priests and lawyers;" that he believed this to be a delusion from which the people would have a dreadful awakening; that Protestants were better off, cleaner, honester than Catholics; that they were much more industrious and far better farmers, and so forth, and so forth. This man is a red hot Nationalist, and was under the impression he was "having his leg pulled," hence his accommodating speech. When taxed with flagrant insincerity he only smiled, and tacitly admitted the soft impeachment. Farmers you meet in rural lanes will profess earnest Unionism, but—find out their religion—you need ask no more. Whatever they may say, whatever their alleged opinions may be, matters not a straw. They must and will vote as the priest tells them. So that the last franchise Act endows every priest with a thousand votes or so. Will anybody attempt to disprove this? Will any living Irishman venture to contradict this statement? The fact being admitted, Englishmen may be trusted to see its effect. Is there any class or trading interest which would be by working men entrusted with such enormous power? And these thousand-vote priests are unfriendly to England, as is proved by their own utterances and by innumerable overt acts. All of which merits consideration.

The Stranorlar folks are warm politicians. At the present moment feeling runs particularly high, on account of the riot on King William's Day, to wit, July twelfth. Two Orangemen were returning from Castlefinn, a few miles away, where a demonstration had taken place, and passing through Stranorlar, accompanied by their sisters, they were set upon by the populace, and brutally maltreated. Several shots were fired, and some of the rioters were slightly wounded or rather grazed by snipe shot, but not so seriously as to stop their daily avocations. The Catholic party allege that the Orangemen assaulted the village in general, firing without provocation. The Protestant party say that this is absurd, and that it is not yet known who fired the shots. A second case, less serious, is also on the carpet. A solitary Orangeman returning from the same celebration is said to have been waylaid, beaten, and robbed by a number of men who went two miles to meet with him. This also is claimed as Orange rowdyism.

A Protestant handicraftsman said:—"If we had a Catholic Parliament in Dublin we should not be able to put our head out of doors. Those who in England say otherwise are very ignorant. I have no patience with them. Only the other day I heard an Englishman who had been in the country six hours, all of which he had spent in a railway train, arguing against an Irish gentleman who has spent all his life in the country. 'Give 'em their civil rights,' says this English fellow. He could say nothing else. Give 'em their civil rights,' says he. 'What civil rights are they deprived of?' says the other. 'Give 'em their civil rights,' says he. That was all he could say. He was for all the world like a poll-parrot. He was one of these well-fed fellows, with about three inches of fat on his ribs and three inches of bone in his skull, and a power of sinse outside his head. He turned round on me and asked me to agree with him. When I didn't he insulted me. 'I see by your hands,' says he, 'that you've been working with them, and not with your brains,' says he. Well, he was a man with a gray beard, but not a sign of gray hair on his head, so says I, 'Your beard,' says I, 'is twenty-five years younger than the rest of your hair, and it looks twenty-five years older.' I see,' says I, 'that you have been working with your jaws and not with your brains.' That made him vexed. He didn't know what to say next, and 'twas well for him. He was too ignorant for this counthry, though he might do very well for them places where they vote for such men as Harcourt or the like of him.

"The people of these parts are skinned alive by their religion. Not a hand's turn can be done without money. Money for christening, for confession, for everything from the cradle to the grave. And when they're dead the poor folks are still ruining the counthry, for their relatives run up and down begging money to get their souls out of purgatory. I have no objection to that; let them do it if they like, but let them not say they are poor because of England. The more money they pay the sooner their father's or mother's soul is out of torment. Of course they spend all they have. I was speaking with a priest lately, and I said, 'Suppose I fell into Finn-water, and a man who saw me drowning said, "I'll pull ye out for half-a-crown or a sovereign," what would ye think of him?' Says the priest, 'I'd think him a brute and a heathen.' 'But suppose, instead of Finn-water it was purgatory I was in, and the priest said, "I'll pull ye out for five pounds," what about him?' 'Good morning to ye,' says the sogarth aroon (dear priest). There was no answer for me."

Another Stranorlar man said:—"When the bill passed the second reading, there was not a hill round about, for many a mile, without a blazing tar-barrel on it, and the houses were lit up till ye'd think the places were on fire. The people were rejoicing for they knew not what. Says one to me, 'Ye can pack up yer clothes,' says he. They think they will now get rid of the English, and have things all their own way. That's their general idea. All their rejoicing passed off without a word of dissent from any Unionist. But if we rejoiced—! Suppose the bill were thrown out, and we lit a tar-barrel. We'd be stoned, and, if possible, swept off the very face of the earth. On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, they march over the place, flags flying, drums beating, bands playing, and nobody says a word against it. But if we started an Orange procession on July 12 in Stranorlar, we'd be knocked into smithereens. And yet in the town we are about half-and-half. Of course, when you get out into the wild districts the Romanists greatly outnumber us. The plea of reduction of rent being required is very absurd when you come to examine the matter. Many of them pay three or four pounds a year only. What reduction on that sum would do them any real good?"

A land agent of Donegal showed me one page of a rent book, that I might bear witness to indisputable facts. There were twenty-one annual rents on the page, and eleven of them were under two pounds—most of them, in fact, were under thirty shillings. One man held thirty-three acres for thirty-three shillings per annum. He had paid no rent for two years. Another estate in Donegal has two thousand tenants for a total rent of L2,800. The agent has to look after all these "farmers"—to conciliate, threaten, soother, bully, beg, pray, promise, cajole, hunt, treat, fight, curse, and comether the whole two thousand a whole year for, and in consideration of, the princely sum of a hundred and forty pounds. Many of the farmers have the privilege of selling turf enough to clear the rent several times over, and of course every man can shoot at the agent as much as he chooses, his sport in this direction being only limited by his supply of ammunition. Of late their powder has given out. Could not something be done for these deserving men?

A superior Home Ruler, one of those honest visionaries sometimes met in Ireland, said:—"For my own part, I confess that I aspire to complete independence. Then, and not till then, would the two countries be friendly. We in Ulster are ten times more patriotic than Irishmen elsewhere, for it is in Ulster that we have been most deeply wronged. The Hamiltons of Abercorn planted the country round here with Scotch settlers, and various agencies between 1688 and 1715 are said to have brought over more than fifty thousand Scottish families to Ulster, which was already populated to its utmost extent. The Irish were dispossessed, kicked out, and they have been out ever since. The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel took flight to save their heads, and six counties were declared confiscated—Londonderry, Donegal, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, and Armagh. These were all 'planted' with English and Scotch colonists. The land was given to certain favourites by the English Government, which at that time was the stronger, and has remained so ever since When we ask for our own again you cry out 'Robbery, robbery!' We are the people to say 'Stop thief!' You say the owners of the land rebelled, and their property was rightly confiscated. We say they had a right to rebel, and that rebellion was an honourable action. You took the country at first by force and fraud. We have, and always had, a right to regain what belongs to us, by any means in our power. We have never expressed affection for the English Crown. We have never affected loyalty. We have been open, honourable enemies, and have always said we were biding our time. We are accused of fraud, of duplicity. Never was any accusation so ill-founded. I can refer to a hundred, aye, to a thousand utterances of my countrymen which clearly set forth the sentiments which animate every single individual Irishman. These settlers are not Irishmen. Their best friends would never claim for them Irish nationality. Most of them came from the South-west of Scotland, where the most rigid and bigoted Presbyterianism flourished. Their creed, as well as ours, forbade any intermarrying. Separate they were, and separate they remain. You might as well try to mix dogs and cats. And the attitude of the two races is mutually antagonistic—exactly like dogs and cats. They have led a dog and cat life from the first, and if the Scots have thriven while the Kelts have made little progress, it is because the Scots have been favoured by the English Government, which is composed of Teutons like themselves. Let the Scots stick to England. It suits them, it does not suit us. The Welsh don't like you either, but they have not the pluck to spit it out. They will tell Irishmen what they think, and it is not flattering to England. They are quite as bitter as Irishmen, and, like them, look on England as the biggest humbug, hypocrite, and robber in the world. I never heard a Welshman speak well of England, and I have spoken with scores of them. Now, we have a religious difference with England, which Taffy has not.

"We claim that our nation is more talented than stupid England, more sparkling, more brilliant. But we also say that as we are more sentimental, and as sentiment is to us a matter of life and death, we cannot develop our industries, we cannot do ourselves justice, while subjugated by England. Freedom is our watchword. We want an army, a navy, a diplomacy of our own. We do not admit that England has any right to control our action, and we defy any man to prove that any country has a right to dictate our laws. Independence must come in the long run. Everything is tending in that direction. We may not get Home Rule at present, but we shall get it. Then we shall be able to report progress. I believe that the material prosperity of this country will increase by leaps and bounds in exact proportion to the loosening of Saxon restraint, and freedom from selfish English interference. Our trade has been deliberately strangled, our manufactures deliberately ruined, by English influence on behalf of English interests. Then you ask us to believe that we have benefited by our union with England! We do not believe it. England has been the greatest modern curse, spreading her octopus arms over every weak country in the world. She goes to make money, and says she only wishes to push forward civilisation. Read Labouchere's opinion of England, and you will see what she is—a greedy, whining hypocrite. She holds India by fear, at the point of the bayonet—all for greed. Then her speakers get up on their philanthropic platforms, and after shooting a few thousand niggers and poisoning off the rest with rum, they say that such and such a country is now under the blessed rule of England, which is established merely for the propagation of the truth as it is in Jesus. You make out that your rum, rifles, and missionaries are only instruments in the hands of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Away with such hypocrisy! England is a big bully, crushing the weak and truckling to the strong—truckling to the weak, even, when fairly taken to. Look at the Transvaal. When I see what a handful of Dutch farmers did with your grand army—when I see how a country with less than a quarter of the population of Ireland freed itself and knocked your bold army into a cocked hat, I am ashamed to be an Irishman submitting to foreign rule. You will at any rate see why we Irishmen in Ulster are even more rebellious than our southern countrymen. It is because these devilish plantations were in the North, and because we are outnumbered in the North by men who are really foreigners. Let them be loyal. No doubt it suits them best. But we will only be loyal to our country, which is Ireland, not England. And if these Scots, wrongly called Ulstermen, don't like the new arrangement, they can leave the country. No obstacle will be placed in the way of their departure. That I can promise you. They will leave the land, I suppose? That being so, we can spare the settlers. And as they got the land for nothing, they must be content to part with it on the same terms. Now you understand the No Rent cry. Now you understand the No Landlord cry. The land was stolen from the people, and the people carefully remember the fact. You hear Nationalists speaking ill of the Irish members. The members have done well for us. They have done grandly. Fourscore Irishmen have conquered the British Empire, and without firing a shot. That after all beats the record of the Boers, but they got complete independence. We are not yet there; but it will come, it will come."

An equally intelligent Unionist, who bore a Scottish name, said:—"Does it suit England to throw us overboard? Because that means the giving up of the country. You can't hold Ireland without a friend in it. Twice the Protestant population have saved it for you. Its geographical position forbids you to give it up. That would ruin you at once. And yet immediate separation would be far better than a wasting agitation. Better plunge over a precipice than be bled to death. Better blow out your brains than be roasted at a slow fire. England is being kicked to death by spiders. And all in the interests of Rome. If the people here had any opinions I would not say a word against anything they might do, but they have none at all. They show their teeth because they are told to do so. All the disturbances which disgrace the country are excited by the priests, who pretend to disapprove of them, but who secretly approve. For the priests have the people thoroughly in hand, and whatever they really disapprove they can stop in one moment.

"There is an organised clerical conspiracy to resist the law and to keep the agitation on foot, with the object of obtaining a complete Catholic ascendency. They bleed the poor people to death with their exactions, and the number of new buildings they have lately erected in Ireland almost exceeds belief. We have a splendid new Romanist Church in this little place. Well may the people say they can't pay rent. When Cardinal Logue's father died there was a collection for the general Church which realised more than eight hundred pounds. When a priest dies or when a priest's relative dies there is always a collection for the cause. Eight hundred pounds out of the starving peasantry of Donegal, for whose relief the English are always collecting money! Cardinal Logue's father was Lord Leitrim's coachman, and was on the spot when my lord was shot. The horse fell lame at the right moment. Curious coincidence—very. This Home Rule farce is growing rather stale. Cannot the English see that it is urged by a set of thieves and traitors? Cannot they see that brains and property are everywhere against it? And Gladstone's speeches show such ignorance of the subject that no Irishman can read or listen with common patience. To judge from his Irish orations I should say that he is not fit to be Prime Minister to a Parliament of idiots. What do you think?"

I was sorry to dissent, but I said that to the best of my knowledge and belief Mr. Gladstone was of all men best fitted for such a post.

Stranorlar (Co. Donegal), July 27th.


The country round here seems especially rich in minerals of all sorts. Bog-ore, to be spoken of as bog ore, is abundant, and manganese is known to exist in large quantities. Soapstone of excellent quality is also plentiful, and the peasantry will tell you that on the passing of the Home Rule Bill they will at once proceed to dig out the inexhaustible stores of gold, silver, lead, iron, tin, and coal, with which the district abounds. Ireland is a perfect El Dorado, and when the brutal Saxon shall have taken his foot off her throat, when Parlimint and the sojers allow the quarries to be worked, the mines to be sunk, the diamonds under Belfast to be dug up, the country will once more be prosperous, as in the owld ancient times, when the O'Briens and O'Connells cut each other's throats in peace, and harried their respective neighbourhoods without interference. Captain Ricky, of Mount Hall, is exploiting the bog-ore, and sending it to England by thousands of tons. The stuff is an oxide of iron and is used for purifying gas. The queerest feature of the use of bog-ore is the fact that when used up it is worth twenty-five per cent. more than before. Delivered to the gas companies at thirty shillings a ton, it fetches forty shillings when the gas-men have done with it. It seems to be composed of peat which by a few millions of years of saturation in water containing iron has become like iron-rust. The soapstone of Killygordon is used instead of fire-clay, and is also made into French chalk. Or rather it might be, but that the Captain declines to proceed with its extraction pending the Home Rule scare. There is much alder on the estate, which is watered by the river Finn. This is the right wood for the manufacture of clogs for the people of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Captain Ricky sends tons of these interesting articles to the sister isle. Men are turning out these favourite instruments of feminine correction, in a rough state, by boat loads. When the coster's done a-jumping on his mother, he should thank Ireland for his clogs. When the festive miner rejoices, his dancing would lack the distinguishing clatter which is its richest charm, without alder grown on the banks of the Donegal Finn. The countries were made to run in harness. One is the complement of the other. The brainy dwellers of Hibernia know this, and stick like limpets to England. Only the visionary, the lazy, the ne'er-do weels, the incompetent, the disorderly, the ignorant, the ambitious, want Home Rule. The contemners of law and order want to flourish and grow fat. The Healys and Sextons and all of that ilk know that while under an Irish Parliament their country would be ruined, yet that they themselves would pick up something in the general confusion, while Dillon, like Mrs. Gargery, could be ever on the rampage, carrying out his promises of dire revenge, and flourishing like a young bay tree. Nobody here rejoiced when the bill was reported amended. They are losing faith in its merits. Their simple faith received a severe shock after the return to power of the Three-acres-and-a-Cow Government. Then the Labourers' Dwellings Act proved a fraud. The peasantry asked the neighbouring landowners for an acre of ground and a new cottage. A neighbouring J.P. to-day told me that he had more than twenty applications from people who are now awaiting the gold mines, the great factories which the new Irish Government are about to open. If you would remain poor, vote for the Unionist candidate. If you would become rich beyond the dreams of avarice, if you would occupy the place of the Protestant landlords, if you would preserve your immortal soul from eternal flames, vote as instructed by Father Gilhooly. A patriot priest yesterday said that the Day of Independence would be the "Day of Ireland." He should have called it the Dies Irae.

A Scottish Covenanter, not of the straitest sect, has no faith in the Home Rule Bill. He said:—"The people up in the mountains, those who want Home Rule, or rather those who have voted for it and expect to benefit by it, are all of the class no Act of Parliament would ever help. They don't farm their land, and they don't want to farm it. Half of it lies to waste every year, and they cut turf which they get for nothing, and sell it in the small towns about for three or four shillings a load, instead of making the land produce all it will. Go to their houses at ten in the morning, and you will find them smoking over the fire. My people are up and at work by six o'clock every morning in the week. The Scots farmers round Strabane are that keen on getting on that you can't get them away from their work, which is their pleasure. They are so keen on making the most of the ground that they are doing away with the hedges, and substituting barbed wire, merely to gain the difference in area of ground to till. Look at yon brae-face. Every yard tilled right up to the top. The Papist peasantry would never do that. You want to know what's the reason? Goodness knows. All the Protestants round here have got on till they have farms. There are no Protestant labourers. If English working men, agricultural fellows, would settle in Ireland, they would soon get their Three acres and a cow. The people who can and will do the best with the land ought to have it, that's my theory. Ireland everywhere illustrates the principle of the survival of the fittest. The only way to succeed is by work. The Catholic Irish are so accustomed to leave everything to the priest that they have no self-reliance, and in worldly matters they always ask, who will help us? They are all beggars by nature. The Duchess of Marlborough and other kind but mistaken ladies have pauperised some districts of Donegal. The people have a natural indisposition to work, and a natural disposition to beg. As for loyalty and tolerance, they have none of either. You never saw industry without other virtues, you never saw laziness without other vices. These everlasting grumblers are a generation of vipers. They are a peevish and perverse set of lazy, skulking swindlers. They can pay. Every man could pay his rent and be comfortably off if he liked. The Protestant farmers pay and get along. And we agree that the landlords favour the other sect. They know that we will do the right thing, and they let us do it, but the Papists may do less—for less than the right thing is what the landlord expects from them. He thinks himself lucky if his Papist tenants come anyway near the mark. Therefore I say, and any Protestant will say, the Papists are favoured by the landlords."

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