Ireland as It Is - And as It Would be Under Home Rule
by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Baronets and other gentlemen of distinction headed the Unionist clubs, walking through the streets in such manner as was never known before. Magistrates and Presbyterian ministers tramped with the rank and file. Sir William Ewart, Bart., Mr. Thomas Sinclair, J.P.—a great name in the city—and the Rev. Dr. Lynd were especially prominent. Some of the teetotallers wore white sashes, which were perhaps more conspicuous than the gaudy colours affected by the Orangemen, and one body of Unionists from the suburban clubs waved white handkerchiefs, a feature which for obvious reasons can never occur in Nationalist processions. The Shepherds have a pastoral dress, each man carrying a crook, and the marshals of the lodges bore long halberds. The van of each column was preceded by a stout fellow, who dexterously raising a long staff in a twirling fashion peculiar to Ireland, shouted, "Faugh-a-Ballagh," which being interpreted signifies "Clear the way." The Oddfellows marched to the tune known in England as "We won't go home till morning," which is the same as "Marlborough goes to war," the favourite air of the Great Napoleon. All this time Mr. Balfour is standing at my elbow as I write, bareheaded, acknowledging the finest reception ever accorded to any man in Ireland, not excepting Dan O'Connell and Parnell. The funeral of the uncrowned king was a comparatively small affair, while the respectability of the crowd was of course immeasurably below that of the Belfast concourse. An old man somehow got near the platform and presented Mr. Balfour with a bunch of orange lilies, saying that was the flower the people would fight under. The Young Men's Christian Association cheered lustily for the Union to the tune of three thousand strong. The Central Presbyterian Association marched past singing "God is our refuge and our strength," and the Church of Ireland Young Men's Society, headed by the clergy, superintended by the Bishop of the diocese from the stand, made a brave and gallant show. Hour after hour glides by, and still the teeming multitude moves on, and still Mr. Balfour stands uncovered. No joke to be a hero nowadays. The "Young Irelands" gave a grand cheer, and passed in brave array, singing with the Y.M.C.A. "Hold the Fort" and "God Save the Queen." Dr. Kane, the Bishop of Clogher, Captain Somerset Maxwell, Colonel Saunderson, and the Earl of Erne, Grand Master of the Orangemen of Ireland, received a stupendous reception as they followed the Young Men Christians, mustered in overwhelming force. The "Marseillaise" here broke out with considerable severity, and Mr. Balfour broke out into a broad smile, which ran over into a laugh, as the too familiar strains of "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay" made the welkin ring. Then came "The March of the Men of Harlech," mixed with "Home Sweet Home" and "The Boyne Water," till the senses reeled again.

At 3.35 the two miles of Orangemen seemed likely to go on for ever, and Mr. Balfour said to me, "I think this demonstration undoubtedly the greatest ever seen, and if you like you may convey that as my message to the Unionists of Birmingham. They will know what the effect of this will be. I need say no more." I asked Mr. Balfour if he thought the bill would pass, and he replied, "Tell the Birmingham men what I have said already. They will require no more." At 4.10 the procession was in full swing, but Mr. Balfour seemed to have had about enough and showed symptoms of making a move, and, as a preliminary, put on his hat. This was the signal for cheering, which perhaps surpassed anything that had gone before. The great ex-Irish-Secretary effaced himself; and Colonel Saunderson, backed by Lord Salisbury's son and several Irish peers, essayed to fill the gap. I ventured in my timid way to tap the gallant Colonel on the shoulder with a view to tapping his sentiments, which proved to be exultant. He told me of the wire he had received from Lord Salisbury, and spoke of the meeting in the Botanic Gardens which had taken place while I had watched the procession. Then he said, "Tell the Birmingham people through the Gazette that as we have the last Prime Minister and the present Chief of the Opposition with us, we cannot be called revolutionary. As for this meeting, it will speak for itself. I think it the biggest thing ever known." During the procession a copy of the Home Rule Bill was burnt on the top of a pole in front of the Grand Stand.

After exactly four hours of watching, I accepted the proffered aid of an Irish friend who agreed to lead me by roundabout ways to the telegraph office. After many narrow passages and devious turns, we struck the Royal Avenue, a long, long way from our starting place. Here we took the still advancing procession in flank. It was now 4.45, and my friend said, "By jabers, there's forty million more of them. I believe the procession reaches all round the world, and moves in a continuous band." And, sure enough, they were coming on as fresh as ever, but I felt that four hours and a quarter of bands and drums was enough at once, so I made a dash for the wires before they should be absolutely blocked. My account is not, perhaps, quite perfect, but it was pencilled under extraordinary circumstances—ten people talking to me at once, a lady's umbrella in my side, a thousand people leaning on my right elbow, and five hundred bands sounding in my ear. Surely it may be said to have been written under fire.

Belfast, April 4th.


Before leaving Belfast I obtained incontrovertible evidence anent the growing fears of Mr. Gladstone's Government. Mr. Morley has denied the existence of any such nervousness, and has repudiated the assertion that precautions have been taken. But what is the truth of the matter? Let us see whether his statement is borne out by facts.

In February certain military officers received a confidential communication having reference to the defence of the Belfast barracks. They were requested to examine and report upon the possibility of these buildings being tenable against a coup de main, were ordered to examine the loop-holes for musketry, to prepare plans of the same, and to duly submit them to the proper authorities, giving their opinion as to the practicability and sufficiency of existing arrangements in the event of the buildings being assaulted by organised bodies of armed civilians, during the absence of soldiers who might be about the city, taking their walks abroad, after the regulation manner permitted to Mr. Thomas Atkins under ordinary circumstances. The order was executed, the plans were duly furnished, and if Mr. Morley is still unaware of the fact, I have much pleasure in imparting the information which I have on the best authority attainable in an imperfect world. He may rely on this statement as being absolutely undeniable, and to descend to particulars, I will add that plans were made of the Tram Stables Barracks, the Willow Bank Barracks, and the Victoria Barracks. As I have said, the instructions were marked Confidential, and the Irish Secretary may have relied on this magic word in formulating his denials. The alternative hypothesis is, of course, obvious enough. The work may have been ordered and executed without Mr. Morley's knowledge, but it has been done, and, after proper inquiry, he will not venture to deny it. The circumstance is a curious commentary on the Gladstonian affectation of perfect security, and the scornful references of Home Rulers to the alleged determination of Ulstermen, in the last resource, to push matters to extremity. I could tell him more than this. It would be easy to adduce other instances of Governmental nervousness, but prudential and confidential considerations intervene.

However, while in the vein, let me submit for serious contemplation the fact that up to the morning postal delivery of Wednesday, April 5, 1893, written offers of personal assistance in the matter of armed resistance to the exact number of ten thousand and five have reached a certain Ulster organisation from England and Scotland, the roll including five generals, with a percentage of Victoria Cross men. This statement is made on the authority of the Earl of Ranfurly, who told me that the matter was within his personal knowledge, and that the whole of these communications were entirely spontaneous and altogether unsolicited, and that nobody in Ireland was in any way responsible for their existence. Lord Ranfurly also said that while the hearty friendship and co-operation of these gentlemen were warmly appreciated by Irish Loyalists, he was quite certain that their generous aid would never be required, for that Home Rule was now defunct, dead, and buried, and beyond the possibility of resurrection. It may be remarked, in passing, that this is the feeling of the best-informed Irish Home Rulers, and that many in my hearing have offered to back their opinion by laying odds. The rejection of the Bill so far from exasperating the Nationalist party, would positively come as a relief. To say that they are lukewarm is only to fairly indicate a state of feeling which is rapidly degenerating into frigidity. They declare that the Bill is unworkable, and while maintaining their abstract right to demand whatever they choose, believe that, taking one consideration with another, the lot of autonomic Ireland would not be a happy one.

Mr. Richard Patterson, J.P., the great ironmonger of Belfast, observes that "according to Mr. Gladstone the only people who really understand Ulster are those who have never been in it." My interview with him was both instructive and interesting. He is one of the Harbour Commissioners, and a gentleman of considerable scientific attainments, as well as a great public and commercial man. He belongs to the Reform Club and, with his fellow-members, was up to 1886 a devoted follower of Mr. Gladstone. The name of his firm, established in 1786 on the very ground it now occupies, is a household word in Ireland, and Mr. Patterson himself has the respect and esteem of his bitterest political opponents. He pointed out the unfairness and injustice of Mr. Gladstone's reference to religion, when turning a deaf ear to the Belfast deputation. "The report of the Chamber of Commerce," he said, "was a purely business statement, and had no element of party feeling. The fact that the Protestant members of the Chamber outnumber the Catholics is in no respect due to religious intolerance, which in this body is totally unknown. Anybody who pays a guinea a year may be elected a member, whatever his religion, whatever his circumstances, providing he is a decent member of society, which is the only qualification required. Members are certainly elected by ballot, but during the many years I have belonged to the Chamber not a single person has been black-balled. If the Protestants are more numerous, the fact simply demonstrates their superior prosperity, arising only from their more steady application to hard work. We live on terms of perfect friendship with our Catholic countrymen, and we assiduously cultivate the sentiment. It is only when a weak and ignorant pandering to disloyalty excites opposition that enmity begins. Only let us alone, that is all we ask. We were going on beautifully until Mr. Gladstone and his accomplices upset everything." Speaking of the difference between the Ulster men and the Irish Kelts, Mr. Patterson said, "Prosperity or the reverse is indicative of the breed. The Southern Irish had more advantages than the Ulstermen. They had better land, better harbours, a far more productive country, and yet they always seethe in discontent. Put 20,000 Northerners in Cork, and in twenty years the Southern port could knock Liverpool out of time." Addressing himself to the Home Rule Bill, he declared that the practical, keen-witted merchants of Belfast dismissed the whole concoction as unworthy of sober consideration, and declared that an awful responsibility rested on Mr. Gladstone. Said this experienced J.P.:

"The Belfast riots of 1886 were terrible. Forty people were killed in the streets, and what I saw in my capacity of magistrate was dreadful in the extreme. The injuries from gun-shot wounds were almost innumerable, and many a local doctor gained experience in this line which is unknown to many an army surgeon. The riots began with the ruffian class, from which this great city is not entirely free, and gradually rose upwards to the shipbuilding yards. All this disturbance and awful loss of life were entirely due to the production of Mr. Gladstone's first bill. And now they tell us that a worse bill—for it is a worse bill—might become law without any inconvenience. I submit to any reasonable man that if the mere menace of a bill cost forty lives in Belfast alone, the loss of life all over Ireland, once the bill were passed, would be enormous. And all this will be attributable to the action of Mr. Gladstone, who has never been in Ulster."

Walking down Royal Avenue I met Colonel Saunderson, radiant after the great demonstration of two days ago, wearing a big bunch of violets in place of Tuesday's bouquet of primroses. He stopped to express good wishes to the Gazette, and said that the Belfasters were proud of Birmingham, which city he regarded as being the most advanced and enlightened in the world. While he so spake, up came the mighty Dr. Kane, idol of the Ulsterites, towering over the gallant Colonel's paltry six feet one, and looking down smilingly from his altitude in infinite space on my own discreditable five feet ten. He agreed with the Colonel as to the merits of Birmingham, and added that every Unionist in Belfast cherished a deep sentiment of gratitude to the hardware city, requesting me to explode the misleading statements of the Separatist press, which asserts that Tuesday's procession consisted of Orangemen. "The first two hours," said the Reverend Doctor, "consisted of bodies who do not processionise, and who never perform in public, in or out of Belfast, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the like, while the 25,000 or 30,000 Orangemen who came in at the tail of the show were a mere fraction of the whole. Colonel Saunderson, the Earl of Erne, and myself stood up in our carriage and cheered the Radical Reform Club, a thing we certainly have never done before." Here the Colonel laughed, and said—

"The union of hearts, Doctor."

"Yes, the union of hearts and no mistake, as the Grand Old Man will find—to his cost. All classes are united against the common enemy" (Mr. Gladstone). "But tell me something—How is it that the English people are deceived by that arch-professor of cant? Tell me that!"

I requested the good doctor to ask me something easier, and he doubtless would have done so, but at this moment up came the famous Dr. Traill, the Admirable Crichton of Ireland, and with my usual thirst for knowledge, I ventured to suggest that the mathematical intellect of the Trinity College Examiner might possibly grapple with the problem.

The learned professor smiled, gripped my unworthy fin, shook out some words of greeting, wagged his head hopelessly, and—bolted like a rocket.

Dr. Traill is said to be equally versed in Law, Physic, and Divinity, to sport with trigonometry, and to amuse his lighter moments with the differential calculus. But "this knowledge was too wonderful for him, he could not attain unto it," and to avoid confession of defeat, he fled with lightning speed. This erudite doctor is well known in England, especially among riflemen. Colonel Saunderson describes him as a wonderful shot at a thousand yards, and thinks he was once one of the Irish Eight at Wimbledon. I met him on the stand on Tuesday, when he amusingly described his adventures on the Continent. "The poor Poles," he said, "wished to take me to their collective bosom, and to fall on my individual neck, the moment they found I was an Irishman. They said we were brothers in misfortune!" Whereat this learned pundit laughed good-humouredly. It may be that Dr. Traill is the long-range rifleman of whom a Land League man remarked, on hearing that the marksman had made a long series of bull's eyes—

"The saints betune us an' harm—but wouldn't he make an iligant tenant!"

Dr. Kane was not surprised to see the professor run away. He said, "I cannot understand it all. I must and will cross the Channel immediately to investigate this strange phenomenon. I have always considered the English a people of superior mental force, men who could not be easily deceived. That they should pin their faith to a man who has proved to demonstration that Home Rule is impossible, who more than any other has branded the Nationalist party with ignominy, I cannot understand." The Doctor perhaps momentarily forgot that the English do not pin their faith to Mr. Gladstone, that the adverse majority are dead against him, and that this majority is daily increasing by leaps and bounds. Gallant Captain Leslie, whom I saw earlier in the day, more accurately hit the situation. This splendid old soldier said, "The English people are not to be blamed. Living under social conditions of perfect freedom and friendship they do not understand the conditions prevailing in Ireland; they cannot be expected to understand a state of things differing so widely from anything within the circle of their own experience. But all the same, if they grant Home Rule, if they listen to the disloyal party rather than to their loyal friends, if they truckle to treason rather than support their own supporters, the consequences will be disastrous to England, and where the disasters will stop is a piece of knowledge which 'passes the wit of man.'"

Running up to Ballymena, I encountered several interesting personalities, each of whom had his own view of the all-absorbing subject, and looked at the matter from his own standpoint. An Irish-American of high culture, a man of science, looked up from what he regarded as "the most interesting book in existence," which turned out to be Thompson's "Evolution of Sex," and said that once Home Rule were in force the blackguard American-Irish would return in shoals, and that the Fenians of America might be expected to "boss the show." "How is it," he asked, "that the English people listen to what appears the chief argument of Separatist orators—that agitation will come to an end, that the Irish will be content to rest and be thankful? Clearly while money and power can be had by agitation, so long will agitation continue. That seems so obvious to me, that I wonder at the patience of the North of England men—I was among them during the general election—in listening quietly to this argument, if it be one at all. And with all their experience of the past to enlighten them into the bargain. Was not the disestablishment of the Church to remove all cause of discontent? Then it was the land. You gave several Land Acts, most favourable laws, very one-sided, all in favour of the tenant, far beyond what English, Scotch, or Welsh farmers hope to get. Have you satisfied Irishmen yet? No, and you never will. The more you give, the more they ask. They never will be content. ''Tis not their nature to.' England now suffers for her own weak good nature. The true curse of Ireland is laziness. I left Belfast at twenty, but I am well acquainted with Ireland. In the North they work and prosper. In the South they do nothing but nurse their grievances. Twenty years' firm government, as Lord Salisbury said, would enrich the country. Do the right thing by them—put them level with England and Scotland, and then put down your foot. Let them know that howling will do no good, and they'll stop it like a shot. Paddy is mighty 'cute, and knows when he has a man to deal with. Put a noodle over him and that noodle's life will be a burden. And serve him right. Fools must expect fools' reward."

A Catholic priest I met elsewhere was very chary of his opinions, and confined himself to the "hope that England would see her way to compensate the Church and the country for centuries of extortion and oppression." This he thought was a matter of "common honesty." He did not exactly suggest a perpetual church-rate for the benefit of the Catholics of Ireland, but the thing is on the cards, and may be proposed by Mr. Gladstone later on. Something ought to be done, something substantial, for the gentlemen educated under the Maynooth Grant. Mr. Bull has admitted the principle, and his sense of fair play will doubtless lead him to do the right thing, always, of course, under compulsion, which is now usually regarded as the mainspring of that estimable gentleman's supposed virtuous actions.

Ballymena is a smart looking place, trig and trim, thriving and well-liking, a place to look upon and live. The people are all well-clad, and prosperous, well-fed and well-grown. The men are mostly big, the women mostly beautiful; the houses are of stone, handsome and well-built. On the bleaching grounds you see long miles of linen—Irish miles, of course—and all the surroundings are pleasant. After this, no need to say the place is one of the blackest, most Unionist, Protestant, and loyal in the whole country. A number of buff placards issued by Nationalists attract respectful attention. The same bill is stuck all over Belfast—in the High Street, on the hoardings facing the heretic meeting houses, everywhere. It purports to present the sentiments of the great Duke of Wellington re the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and is to the effect that in moments of danger and difficulty the Roman Catholics had caused the British Empire to float buoyant when other Empires were wrecked; that the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and they only, had saved our freedom, our Constitution, our institutions, and in short that it is to the Irish Roman Catholics that we owe everything worth having. Alone they did it. The priest, in short, has made Mr. Bull the man he is.

Can anybody in England "go one better" than this?

These extracts are plainly taken from some speech on the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill, and refer to the valour of the Irish soldiery, whose bravery in fighting for a Protestant cause was doubtless invaluable to the cause of liberty. There is an apocryphal story concerning Alfred de Musset, who on his death-bed is reported to have conveyed to a friend with his last breath his last, his only wish, to wit:—

"Don't permit me to be annotated." The Iron Duke might have said the same if he had thought of it. He could not know that, shorn of his context, divorced from his drift, he would be placarded in his native land as an agent in the cause of sedition and disloyalty. This truly Grand Old Man, who, in his determination to uphold the dignity and unity of the Empire "stood four-square to all the winds that blew," would scarcely have sided with the modern G.O.M. and his satellites, Horsewhipped Healy and Breeches O'Brien.

One word as to the alleged "intolerance of the fanatic Orangemen of Belfast."

The placards above-mentioned were up on Tuesday last. They are large and boldly printed, and attracted crowds of readers—but not a hand was raised to deface them, to damage them, to do them any injury whatever. I watched them for four-and-twenty hours, and not a finger was lifted against any one in the High Street or elsewhere, so far as I could ascertain.

There are twenty thousand Orangemen in the city, and the Protestants outnumber the Papists by three to one. Yet the placard was treated with absolute respect, and although I entered several groups of readers I heard no words of criticism—no comment, unfavourable or otherwise, no gesture of dissent. The people seemed to be interested in the bill, and desirous of giving it respectful consideration. I have seen Liberal Birmingham, when in the days of old it assembled round Tory posters—but the subject becomes delicate; better change our ground. It is, however, only fair to say that the Gladstonians of Birmingham, who, as everybody knows, formed the extreme and inferior wing of the old Radical party, can hardly teach the Belfast men tolerance.

Ballymena, April 6th.


Derry is a charming town, unique, indescribable. Take equal parts of Amsterdam and Antwerp, add the Rhine at Cologne, and Waterloo Bridge, mix with the wall of Chester and the old guns of Peel Castle, throw in a strong infusion of Wales, with about twenty Nottingham lace factories, stir up well and allow to settle, and you will get the general effect. The bit of history resulting in the raising of the siege still influences Derry conduct and opinions. The 'Prentice Boys of Derry, eight hundred strong, are ardent loyalists, and having once beaten an army twenty-five thousand strong, believe that for the good of the country, like the orator who had often "gone widout a male," they too could "do it again." They do not expect to be confronted with the necessity, but both the Boys and the Orangemen of Derry, with all their co-religionists, are deeply pledged to resist a Dublin Parliament. "We would not take the initiative, but would merely stand on our own defence, and offer a dogged resistance. We have a tolerable store of arms, although this place was long a proclaimed district, and we have fifteen modern cannon, two of which are six-pounders, the rest mostly four-pounders, and one or two two-pounders, which are snugly stored away, for fear of accident." Thus spake one who certainly knows, and his words were amply confirmed from another quarter.

Derry makes shirts. The industrious Derryans make much money, and in many ways. They catch big salmon in the middle of the town, and outside it they have what Mr. Gladstone would call a "plethora" of rivers. They ship unnumbered emigrants to the Far West, and carry the produce of the surrounding agriculturists to Glasgow and Liverpool. They also make collars and cuffs, but this is mere sport. Their real vocation is the making of shirts, which they turn out by the million, mostly of high quality. Numbers of great London houses have their works at Derry. Welch, Margeston and Co. among others. The Derry partner, Mr. Robert Greer, an Englishman forty years resident in the town, favoured me with his views re Home Rule, thus:—

"The bill would be ruinous to Ireland, but not to the same extent as to England. Being an Englishman, I may be regarded as free from the sectarian animosity which actuates the opposing parties, but I cannot close my eyes to the results of the bill, results of which no sane person, in a position to give an opinion, can have any doubt. We are so convinced that the bill would render our business difficult, not to say impracticable, that our London partners say they will remove the works, plant, machinery, and all, to the West of Scotland or elsewhere.

"About 1,200 girls are employed in the mill, and 3,000 to 4,000 women at their own homes all over the surrounding country.

"Mr. Gladstone may think he knows best, but here the unanimous opinion is that trade will be fatally injured. Ireland is no mean market for English goods, and the market will be closed because Ireland will have no money to spend. Go outside the manufacturing towns and what do you see? Chronic poverty. Manufacturers will remove to the Continent, to America—anywhere else—leaving the peasantry only. The prospective taxes are alarming. We know what would be one of the very first acts of a Dublin Parliament. They would curry favour with the poor, the lazy districts, by an equalisation of the poor rate. In Derry, where everybody works for his bread, the rate is about sixpence in the pound. There are districts where it runs to ten shillings in the pound. The wealthy traders, the capitalists, the manufacturers of the North will have to pay for the loafers of the South. The big men would gather up their goods and chattels and clear out. There are other reasons for this course."

Here Mr. Greer made the inevitable statement that Englishmen out of Ireland did not understand the question; and another large manufacturer chipped in with:—

"Leave us alone, and we get on admirably. There is no intolerance; everybody lives comfortably with his neighbour. But pass the bill and what happens? The Catholic employes would become unmanageable, would begin to kick over the traces, would want to dictate terms, would attempt to dominate the Protestant section, which would rebel, and trouble would ensue. They would not work together. It is impracticable to say: Employ one faith only and Home Rule means that Catholicism is to hold the sway. The Nationalist leaders foster this spirit, otherwise there would be no Home Rule. The workpeople would act as directed by the priest, even in matters connected with employment. You have no idea what that means to us. It means ruin. The people do not know their own mind, and their ignorance is amazing. My porter says that when the bill becomes law, which will take place in one month from date, he will have a situation in Dublin at a thousand a year, and both he and others sincerely believe in such a changed state of things for Catholics alone."

I went over Welch, Margetson's works, a wonderful place, where were hundreds of women, clean and well-dressed, working at the various departments of shirt-making. The highest class of mill hands I ever saw, working in large and well-ventilated rooms, many getting a pound a week. Another firm over the way employs one thousand five hundred more. And according to the best authority, that of the owners, all this is to leave the country when Ireland gets Home Rule.

A very intelligent Catholic farmer living a few miles out of Donegal said, "Farmers look at the bill in the light of the land question. We're not such fools as to believe in Gladstone or his bill for anythin' else. Shure, Gladstone never invints anythin' at all, but only waits till pressure is put on him. Shure, iverythin' has to be dhragged out iv him, an' if he settles the land question, divil thank him, 'tis because he knows he's bate out an' out, an' has to do it, whether he will or no. An' now he comes bowin' an' scrapin' an' condiscindin' to relave us—whin we kicked it out o' his skin. Ah! the divil sweep him an' his condiscinshun."

Ingratitude, thy name is Irish Tenant!

Misther O'Doherty proceeded to say that landlords were all right now, under compulsion. But the tenantry demanded that they should be released entirely from the landlords' yoke. He said that the agriculturists were not in touch with the whole question of Home Rule, nor would they consider any subject but that of the land. The Nationalists had preached prairie value, and the people were tickled by the idea of driving out landowners and Protestants. All the evicted tenants, all the men who have no land, all the ne'er-do-weels would expect to be satisfied. Ulster is tillage—the South is mostly grazing. Ulster had been profitably cultivated by black Protestants, and their land was coveted by the priests for their own people. My friend admitted that, although born a Catholic, his religious opinions were liberal. I asked him if the Protestant minority would be comfortable under a Dublin Parliament. He shook his head negatively—"Under equal laws they are friendly enough, but they do not associate, they do not intermarry, they have little or nothing to do with each other. They are like oil and wather in the same bottle, ye can put them together but they won't mix. And the Protestant minority has always been the best off, simply because they are hard workers. A full-blooded Irishman is no worker. He likes to live from hand to mouth, and that satisfies him. When he has enough to last him a day through he drops work at once. The Protestants have Scotch blood, and they go on working with the notion that they'll be better off than their father, who was better off than their grandfather. And that's the whole of it."

Mr. J. Gilbert Kennedy, of Donegal, holds similar views of Irish indolence. He told me that although living in a congested district he could not obtain men to dig in his gardens, except when thereto driven by sheer necessity, and that having received a day's pay they would not return to work so long as their money lasted. "They will put up with semi-starvation, cold, and nakedness most patiently. Their endurance is most commendable. They will bear anything, only—don't ask them to work." Mrs. Kennedy said that with crowds of poor girls around her, she was compelled to obtain kitchen maids and so forth from Belfast. "They will not be servants, and when they afford casual help, they do it as a great favour."

A Scotsman who employs five hundred men in the mechanical work said: "I have been in Ireland fifteen years, and have gone on fairly smoothly, but with a world of management. For the sake of peace I have not five Protestants in the place; and I would have none if I could help it. It is, however, necessary to have Protestant foremen. Irishmen are not born mechanics. In Scotland and England men take to the vice and the lathe like mother's milk, but here it is labour and pain. Irishmen are not capable of steady, unremitting work. They want a day on and a day off. They wish to be traders, cattle-drovers, pig-jobbers, that they may wander from fair to fair. My men have little to do beyond minding machines; otherwise I must have Scots or English. Discharge a man and the most singular things occur. In a late instance I had seven written requests from all sorts of quarters to take the man back, although before discharge he had been duly warned. The entire neighbourhood called on me—the man's father, wife, mother, the priest, a Protestant lady, three whiskey-sellers, two Presbyterians, the Church of Ireland parson, God knows who. This lasted a fortnight, and then threatening letters set in; coffins, skulls, and marrow-bones were chalked all over the place, with my initials. Indeed you may say they are a wonderful people."

Mr. E.T. Herdman, J.P., of Sion Mills, Co. Tyrone, should know something of the Irish people. The model village above-named belongs to him. Travellers to Londonderry via the Great Northern will remember how the great Herdman flax-spinning mills, with their clean, prosperous, almost palatial appearance, relieve the melancholy aspect of the peaty landscape about the Rivers Mourne and Derg. Mr. Herdman pays in wages some L30,000 a year, a sum of which the magnitude assumes colossal proportions in view of the surrounding landscape. The people of the district speak highly of the Herdman family, who are their greatest benefactors, but they failed to return Mr. E.T. Herdman, who contested East Donegal in 1892. The people were willing enough, but the priests stepped in and sent a Nationalist. Said Mr. Herdman, "Home Rule would be fatal to England. The Irish people have more affinity with the Americans or the French than with the English, and the moment international difficulties arise Ireland would have to be reconquered by force of arms. And complications would arise, and in my estimation would arise very early." A landowner I met at Beragh, County Tyrone, held somewhat original opinions. He said, "I refused to identify myself with any Unionist movement. If we're going to be robbed, let us be robbed; if our land is going to be confiscated, let it be confiscated. The British Government is going to give us something, if not much, by way of compensation; and my opinion is, that if the Grand Old Man lives five years longer he'll propose to give the Irish tenants the fee-simple of the lands without a penny to pay. That's my view, begad. I'm a sportsman, not a politician, and my wife says I'm a fool, and very likely she knows best. But, begad, I say let us have prairie value to-day, for to-morrow the G.O.M. will give us nothing at all."

The most extraordinary curiosity of Derry, the lusus naturae of which the citizens justly boast, is the Protestant Home Ruler of brains and integrity who, under the familiar appellation of John Cook, lives in Waterloo Place. Reliable judges said, "Mr. Cook is a man of high honour, and the most sincere patriot imaginable, besides being a highly-cultured gentleman." So excited was I, so eager to see an Irish Home Ruler combining these qualities with his political faith, that I set off instanter in search of him, and having sought diligently till I found him, intimated a desire to sit at his patriotic feet. He consented to unburden his Nationalist bosom, and assuredly seemed to merit the high character he everywhere bears. Having heard his opinion on the general question, I submitted that Mr. Bull's difficulty was lack of confidence, and that he might grant a Home Rule Bill, if the Irish leaders were men of different stamp. He said they were "clever men not overburdened with money," and admitted that a superior class would have been more trustworthy, but relied on the people. "If the first administrators of the law were dishonest, the people would replace them by others. The keystone of my political faith is trust in the people. The Irish are keen politicians, and may be trusted to keep things square."

I submitted that the patriots were in the pay of the Irish-Americans, who were no friends of England—

"The present Nationalist members are not purists, but to take money for their services, to accept L300 a year is no more disgraceful than the action of the Lord Chancellor who takes L10,000. The American-Irish cherish a just resentment. They went away because they were driven out of the country by the land system of that day. And the Irish people must be allowed to regenerate themselves. It cannot be done by England. Better let them go to hell in their own way than attempt to spoon-feed them. But the injustice of former days does not justify the injustice to the landlords proposed by the present bill. It is a bad bill, an unjust bill, and would do more harm than good. England should have a voice in fixing the price, for if the matter be left to the Irish Parliament gross injustice will be done. The tenants were buying their land, aided by the English loans, for they found that their four per cent. interest came lower than their rent. But they have quite ceased to buy, and for the stipulated three years will pay their rent as usual, and why? Because they expect the Irish legislature to give them even better terms—or even to get the land for nothing. Retributive justice is satisfied. For the last twenty years the landlords have suffered fearfully. The present bill is radically unsound, and I trust it will never become law."

And this was all that the one specimen of a Protestant Home Ruler I have found in Ireland could say in favour of his views! His intelligence and probity compelled him to denounce Mr. Gladstone's Bill as "unjust" and radically unsound, and his patriotism caused him to pray that it might never become law! I left him more Unionist than ever.

The great Orange leader of Derry, Mr. John Guy Ferguson, once Grand Ruler, and of world-wide fame, deprecated appeal to arms, except under direst necessity. "I should recommend resistance to all except the Queen's troops. Before all things a sincere loyalist, I should never consent to fire a shot on them. Others think differently, and in case of pressure and excitement the most regrettable things might happen. The people of Derry are full of their great victory of 1688, and believe that their one hundred and five days' resistance saved England from Catholic tyranny. The Bishop of Derry, as you know, had ordered that the troops of King James should be admitted when the thirteen Prentice Boys closed the gate on the very nose of his army." I saw the two white standards taken from the Catholic troops flanking the high altar of the Cathedral; which also contains the grandly-carved case of an organ taken from a wreck of the Spanish Armada in 1588, just a century before the siege. The people have ever before them these warlike spoils, which may account for their martial spirit. An old Prentice Boy told me of the great doings of 1870, how a Catholic publican, one O'Donnell, endeavoured to prevent the annual marching of the Boys, who on the anniversary of the raising of the siege, parade the walls, fire guns, and burn traitor Lundy in effigy; how 5,000 men in sleeve-waistcoats entered the town to stop the procession, how the military intervened, and forbade both marching and burning; how the Boys seized the Town Hall, and in face of 1,700 soldiers and police burnt an effigy hanging from a high window, which the authorities could not reach; how Colonel Hillier broke down the doors and stormed the hall at the bayonet's point, to search both sexes for arms. Gleefully he produced an alphabetical rhyme, which he thought rather appropriate to the present time, and which ended as follows:—"X is the excellent way they (the authorities) were beaten, and exceeding amount of dirt they have eaten. Y is the yielding to blackguards unshorn, which cannot and will not much longer be borne. Z is the zeal with which England put down the Protestant boys who stood up for the crown." In 1883 Lord Mayor Dawson of Dublin wished to lecture at Derry, but the Boys took the Hall and held it, declining to permit the "colleague of Carey" (on the Dublin Town Council) to speak in the city. There you have the present spirit of Derry.

Two miles outside the town I came on a fine Home Ruler, who had somewhere failed to sell a pig. "Sorra one o' me 'll do any good till we get Home Rule." He paid L5 a year for two acres of land with a house. "'Tis the one-half too much, Av I paid fifty shillings, I'd be aisy," he said. Truly a small sum to stand between him and affluence. I failed to sympathise with this worthy man, but my spirits fell as I walked through a collar factory, and thought of Mr. Gladstone. The dislocation of the shirt trade is less serious. Few Irish patriots have any personal interest in this particular branch of industry.

Dublin, April 8th.


Mr. Balfour is the most popular man in Ireland, and his Dublin visit will be for ever memorable. The Leinster Hall, which holds several thousands, was packed by half-past five; ninety minutes before starting time, and the multitude outside was of enormous proportions. The people were respectable, quiet, good-humoured, as are Unionist crowds in general, though it was plain that the Dubliners are more demonstrative than the Belfast men. The line of police in Hawkins Street had much difficulty in regulating the surging throng which pressed tumultuously on the great entrance without the smallest hope of ever getting in. The turmoil of cheering and singing was incessant, and everyone seemed under the influence of pleasurable excitement. As you caught the eye of any member of the crowd he would smile with a "What-a-day-we're-having" kind of expression. The college students were in great form, cheering with an inexhaustible vigour, every man smoking and carrying a "thrifle iv a switch." Portraits of Mr. Balfour found a ready sale, and Tussaud's great exhibition of waxworks next door to the hall was quite unable to compete with the living hero. Messrs. Burke and Hare, Parnell and Informer Carey, Tim Healy and Breeches O'Brien, Mr. Gladstone and Palmer the poisoner, with other benefactors and philanthropists, were at a discount. The outsiders were waiting to see Mr. Balfour, but they were disappointed. Lord Iveagh's carriage suddenly appeared in Poolbeg Street at the pressmen's entrance, and the hero slipped into the hall almost unobserved. Inside, the enthusiasm was tremendous. The building is planned like the Birmingham Town Hall, and the leading features of the auditorium are similar. The orchestra was crowded to the ceiling, the great gallery was closely packed, the windows were occupied, and every inch of floor was covered. A band played "God Save the Queen," "Rule Britannia," and the "Boyne Water." The word "Union," followed by the names of Balfour, Abercorn, Iveagh, Hartington, Chamberlain, and Goschen, was conspicuous on the side galleries, and over Mr. Balfour's head was a great banner bearing the rose, thistle, and shamrock, with the Union Jack and the English crown over all. Boldly-printed mottoes in scarlet and white, such as "Quis Separabit?" "Union is strength," "We Won't submit to Home Rule," and "God Bless Balfour," abounded, and in the galleries and on the floor men waved the British flag. The people listened to the band, or amused themselves with patriotic songs and Kentish fire, till Mr. Balfour arrived, when their cheering, loud and long, was taken up outside, and reverberated through the city.

The preliminaries being over, the principal speaker rose amid redoubled applause, which gradually subsided to the silence of intense expectation. Mr. Balfour's first words fell like drops of water in a thirsty land, and never had a speaker a more eager, attentive, respectful audience. Now and then stentorian shouts of assent encouraged him, but the listeners were mostly too much in earnest for noise. It was plain that they meant business, and that the demonstration was no mere empty tomfoolery. Parnellites were there—a drop in the ocean—but their small efforts at interruption were smilingly received. True, there was once a shout of "Throw him out," but a trumpet-like voice screamed "Give him a wash, 'tis what he mostly needs, the crathur," upon which a roar of laughter proclaimed that the offender was forgiven. The outsiders continued their singing and cheering, and when Mr. Balfour concluded sent up a shout the like of which Dublin has seldom heard, if ever. Succeeding speakers were well received, the audience holding their ground. Mr. J. Hall, of Cork, evoked great cheering by the affirmation that Protestants desired no advantage, no privilege, unshared by their Catholic brethren. Similar points made by other speakers met with an instant and hearty confirmation that was unmistakable. Lord Sligo pointed out that firmness and integrity were nowhere better understood than in Ireland, and said that while William O'Brien, the great Nationalist, visited Cork under a powerful escort of police, who with the utmost difficulty prevented the populace from tearing him to pieces; on the other hand, Mr. Balfour had passed through the length and breadth of the land, visiting the poverty-stricken and disturbed districts of the West, with no other protection beyond that afforded by "his tender-hearted sister." Mr. Balfour rose to make a second speech, and the enthusiasm reached its climax. The great ex-Secretary seemed touched, and although speaking slowly showed more than his usual emotion. When he concluded the people sent up a shout such as England never hears—an original shout, long drawn out on a high musical note, something like the unisonous tone of forty factory bulls.

The students went outside, and with their friends formed in military columns—the outside files well armed with knobby sticks as a deterrent to possible Parnellite enterprise. An extemporised arch of Union Jacks canopied Mr. Balfour in his carriage, which was drawn by hundreds of willing hands linked in long line. The column, properly marshalled, moved away, keeping step amid loud shouts of "Right, left, right, left," until perfect uniformity was attained, and the disciplined force marched steadily on to College Green, following the triumphal chariot with alternate verses of "God Save the Queen" and "Rule Britannia," each verse interpolated with great bursts of applause. At Trinity College the glare of torches appeared, and simultaneously an organised attempt at groaning boomed in under the cheering. Heedless of the rabble the column marched merrily on, not with the broken rush of an English mob, but with the irresistible force of unity in a concrete mass, with the multitudinous tramp of an army division. The yelling slummers hovered on each flank, frantic with impotent rage; willing to wound and yet afraid to strike, knowing that to themselves open conflict meant annihilation. A savage, unsavoury horde of rat-like ruffians, these same allies of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Morley, a peculiarly repulsive residuum these Dublin off-scourings. They screamed "To hell with Balfour," "To hell with the English," "To hell with your Unionists," "To hell with Queen Victoria." Some of them sang a doggerel, beginning:—

Let the English remember, We'll make them surrender, And chase them to their boats, And cut their —— throats, And make a big flood Of their bad black blood—

not precisely a poem to herald the famous "Union of hearts" so confidently expected. The Unionists tramped on cheering triumphantly, rejoicing in their strength, ignoring the taunting and jeering of the Parnellite scum as beneath contempt. An old Home Ruler expressed disapprobation of his party. "What's the use of showing your teeth when you can't bite?" he said. "Wait till we get the bill and then we will show them and the English what we can do."

On through Grafton Street, Nassau Street, and into Dawson Street, always with great shouting and singing of "God Save the Queen," and "Rule Britannia," the torches still glaring in front. At Morrisson's Hotel, where Parnell was arrested, a man shouted "Three cheers for Gladstone," but nobody responded. The rabble may use him, but they refused a single shout. On the other hand groans were given with leonine force both for Morley and his master. Arrived at St. Stephen's Green, the procession halted at Lord Iveagh's residence, and Mr. Balfour came on the balcony, receiving a welcome right royal. He made another speech amid cheering and groaning of tremendous energy, making himself tolerably well heard under abnormal conditions. When he said "This day shall never fade from my recollection," the lamp beside him was removed and all was over. Back tramped the column, with its clouds of camp-followers, on the way cheering and sending to hell the member for South Tyrone, with other prominent politicians who live on the line of march. The students held their sticks aloft, striking them together in time to their singing. A shindy had been predicted on the return to College Green, and little groups of Scots Greys and Gordon Highlanders, the latter in their white uniforms, lounged about smoking their pipes in happy expectation, but beyond cheering at the statue of Orange William in Dame Street, nothing whatever occurred, and presently the crowd began to disperse. Seeing this, the police, who until now had been massed in strong force broke up into units, and moving leisurely about said, "Good night, boys; you have had enough fun for one day. Get to bed, all of you." Then the young men who had composed the great loyalist column left the square in little bands, each singing "God save the Queen," and every man feeling that he had deserved well of his country. The bill may be stone dead, but there is a satisfaction in the act of shovelling earth on the corpse.

Dublin, April 8th.


Home Rule for Ireland means damage and loss to English working men. During the late general election the working men candidates of Birmingham, and of England generally, argued that once Ireland were granted Home Rule the distressful land would immediately become a Garden of Eden, a sort of Hibernian El-Dorado; that the poverty which drove Irishmen from their native shores would at once and for ever cease and determine, and that thenceforth—and here was the bribe—Irishmen would cease to compete with the overcrowded artisans and labourers of England. That these statements are diametrically opposed to the truth is well known to all persons of moderate intelligence, and the personal statement of several great capitalists with reference to their course of action in the event of Home Rule becoming law tends to show that multitudes of the industrious classes of Irish manufacturing towns will at once be thrown out of employment, and must of necessity flock to England, increasing the congestion of its great cities, competing with English labour, and inevitably lowering the rate of wages. Hear what comfortable words Mr. Robert Worthington can speak.

Mr. Worthington is no politician; never has interfered with party questions; has always confined his attention to his business affairs. It was because of this that Mr. Balfour sent for him to confer anent the light railways, which have proved such a blessing to the country. It was Mr. Worthington who carried out most of these beneficent works. Besides this, Mr. Worthington has built railways to the amount of three-quarters of a million in Ireland alone. He has employed 5,300 men at one time, and his regular average exceeds 1,500 all the year round. He may therefore be said to know what he is talking about. I called on him at 30, Dame Street, before I left Dublin, and he said, "The bill would be bad for England in every way, and would ruin Ireland. The question is certainly one for the English working man. If he wishes to avoid the competition of armies of Irish labourers and artisans he must throw out the bill. And this is how it will work—

"All the railways I have constructed in Ireland have been built on county guarantees assisted by special grants from the Imperial Treasury. Without these special grants the work could never have been undertaken at all. If Home Rule becomes law those special grants from the Imperial Treasury will be no longer available; and what will be the result? Clearly that the work will not be undertaken; that the building of railways will come to an end, and that the Irish peasants who have devoted themselves to railway work will go to England and try to find employment there. Once a railway navvy, always a railway navvy, is a well-known and very true saying.

"For my own part I shall be compelled to compete in England, having nothing to do in Ireland, and I shall of course transport my staff and labourers across the Channel.

"The railways of Ireland, fostered by English capital, resting on England's security, have given vast employment to my countrymen. But they would do so no longer. Let us give an example to prove my point.

"Before the introduction of the Home Rule Bill the railway stock to which I have referred stood at a premium of 27 per cent. Since the bill became public and has been the subject of popular discussion, I brought out the Ballinrobe and Claremorris Railway—with what result? Not one-seventh of the sum required has been subscribed, although in the absence of the bill the amount would certainly have been subscribed four times over, at a premium of 20 per cent. What does this prove?

"Simply this—that the farmers and small shopkeepers who invest in this class of security will not trust their savings in the hands of the proposed Irish Legislature. The bill, therefore, stops progress, retards enterprise, drives away capital, and the workers must follow the money. That seems clear enough. Everybody here concedes so much. More than this. I can say from my own experience, and from the reports of my agents and engineers in the South and West of Ireland, that the Nationalists do not want this bill. I do not speak of Home Rule, but of this bill only. All condemn its provisions, and universally concur in the opinion that once it were passed it would be succeeded by a more violent agitation than anything we have yet seen—an agitation having for its object the radical amendment of the measure.

"There is a complete cessation of railway work. Already the men are thinking of moving. But this is not all. I am now at a standstill, pulled up short by the bill. What is the effect on England? Under ordinary circumstances I buy largely all kinds of railway material—steel rails, sleepers, fasteners, engines, and carriages. Every year I send thousands and thousands of pounds to England for these things, and surely most of the money goes indirectly into the pockets of English working men, who are now suffering the loss of all this by reason of their apathy in this matter. I speak only as a man of business, anxious for the prosperity of my country. I do not discuss Home Rule; never did discuss it and never will. But I end where I began, and I repeat the bill will ruin Ireland, will be bad for England, and I will add that the British Government will soon be compelled to intervene to stave off Irish bankruptcy. Home Rulers are now becoming afraid of the bill; artisans, farmers, and labourers think it a good joke. They relished the hunt, but they don't want the game.

"Returning to my own affairs, I say without hesitation that though the mere threat of the bill has paralysed my business, and that the passing of the bill would drive my men to England, yet—throw out the bill, deliver us from the impending dread, and during the next two years I shall myself expend L150,000 in railway material manufactured by British artisans. Emphatically I repeat that Home Rule to the British working man means increased competition and direct pecuniary loss."

Mr. S. McGregor, of 30, Anglesea Street, Dublin, has been located in the city for 34 years, and seems to have been a politician from the first. Coming from the Land o' Cakes, he landed an advanced Radical, and a devoted admirer of the Grand Auld Mon. Once on the spot a change came o'er the spirit of his dream. His shop has the very unusual feature of indicating his political views. Her Gracious Majesty, Lord Beaconsfield, and Mr. Balfour look down upon you from neat frames. I am disposed to regard Mr. McGregor as the pluckiest man in Ireland. A quiet, peaceful citizen he is, one who remembers the Sawbath, and on weekdays concentrates his faculties on his occupation as a tailor and clothier. I did not seek the interview, which arose from a business call not altogether unconnected with a missing button, but his opinions and his information are well worth recording. Mr. McGregor said, "I thrust my opinions on none, but I have a right to my opinions, and I do not affect concealment. The great defect of the Irish Unionists is want of courage. They dare not for their lives come forward and boldly state their convictions. If Lord Emly or some other Irish Roman Catholic nobleman had come forward earlier, it might have induced weak-kneed members of the party to do likewise. The Unionists do not exercise the great influence they undoubtedly possess. They allow themselves to be terrorised into silence. Let them have the courage of their opinions and they have nothing to fear. The masses of the industrial population are not in favour of Home Rule. The corner-men, who want to spend what they never earned, and the farmers, who hope to get the land for nothing, are the only hearty Home Rulers in Ireland. I employ ten people, all Roman Catholics, some of them with me for twenty-five years. None of these are Home Rulers. I became a convert to Conservatism by my intimate knowledge and personal acquaintance with many of the leaders of the Fenian movement. I saw through the hollowness of the whole thing, and declined any connection therewith. Poor Henry Rowles, who was to be told off by signal to shoot Mr. Foster, was one of my workmen. He died in prison, some said from sheer fright, but two or three of his friends were hanged. He was mixed up by marriage with the Fenian party, and was drawn on and on like many another. I would rather not name the Fenian leaders I knew, and the reason is this. I knew them too well. Speaking of the Unionist lack of courage, you must not be too much surprised. During the last fourteen years Unionists have had to maintain a guerilla warfare for existence. But the strangest feature of the present position is this—the Home Rulers are kicking at the bill! A great Home Ruler of my acquaintance (Mr. McGregor referred me to him) is getting quite afraid. He is a farmer holding 300 acres under Lord Besborough, and says that he trusts things will remain as they are. He has a good landlord, borrows money by the subvention, and has a perfect horror of the class of men who will obtain the upper hand in Ireland. A Nationalist over the way was about to extend the buildings you see there. Plans were drafted, and offices were to be built. Out comes the bill and in goes the project. He has no confidence in the Irish Nationalist leaders; but, strange to say he believes in Mr. Gladstone. He admits that the Irish M.P.'s are not quite up to his ideal, but believes that the Grand Old Man's genius for accommodation and ingenious dovetailing of Imperial interests will pull the country through. Meanwhile he lays out no penny of money.

"I am a Presbyterian, and what is more a United Presbyterian, belonging to the Presbyter of Scotland. All Scotch Presbyterians are advanced Radicals. We have four hundred members here. They came here worshippers of Gladstone and Home Rulers to the tune of 97 per cent. The congregation is now 99 per cent. Unionist or Conservative out and out. Of the four hundred we have only three Home Rulers. What will the English people say to that? Tell them that our minister, who came here a Home Ruler, is now on a Unionist mission in Scotland—the Rev. Mr. Procter, brother of Procter, the cartoonist of Moonshine and the Sketch, to wit. My workpeople, all steady, industrious people, ask but one thing—it is to be let alone."

Here Mr. G.M. Roche, the great Irish wool-factor and famous amateur photographer, said—

"Ah! we must have the bill. 'Tis all we want to finish us up. We're never happy unless we're miserable; the bill will make us so and we'll never be properly discontented till we get it!"

Passing through the Counties of Louth, Dublin, Londonderry, Monaghan, Tyrone, Donegal, and Fermanagh, I met with many farmers whose statements amply confirmed the words of the descendant of the great Sir Boyle Roche. These unhappy men had been divested of their last grievance, stripped of their burning wrongs, heartlessly robbed of their long-cherished injuries. It was bad enough before, when Irishmen had nothing except grievances, but at least they had these, handed down from father to son, from generation to generation, along with the family physiognomy, two precious, priceless heirlooms, remarkable as being the only hereditary possessions upon which the brutal Saxon failed to cast his blood-shot, covetous eye. And now the grievances are taken away, the Lares and Penates of the farmer's cabin are ruthlessly removed, and the melancholy peasant looks around for the immaterial antiquities bequeathed by his long-lost forefathers. "Ah; don't the days seem lank and long, When all goes right and nothing goes wrong, And isn't our life extremely flat, When we've nothing whatever to grumble at." The Irish farmer is with the poet, who hits his harrowing anguish to a hair. He folds his hands and looks about, uncertain what to do next. His rent has been lowered by 35 per cent., he has compensation for improvements, fixity of tenure, and may borrow money to buy the land outright at a percentage, which will amount to less than his immortal Rint. What is the unhappy man to do? His grievances have been his sole theme from boyhood's happy days, the basis of his conversation, his actuating motive, the very backbone of his personal entity. Now they are gone, the fine gold has become dim, and the weapons of war have perished. Once he could walk abroad with the proud consciousness that he was a wronged man, a martyr, a brave patriot struggling nobly against the adverse fates, a broth of a boy, whose melancholy position was noted by the gods, and whose manly bearing under proffered slavery established a complete claim to high consideration in Olympus. But now, with heart bowed down with grief and woe, he walks heavily, and even as a man who mourneth for his mother, over the enfranchised unfamiliar turf. He peeps into the bog-hole, and does not recognise himself. He could pay the rent twice over, but he hates conventionalities, and would rather keep the money. He is constructed to run on grievances, and in no other grooves, and the strangeness of his present position is embarrassing. The tenants of Lord Leitrim, Lord Lifford, and the Duke of Abercorn make no complaint of their landlords. On the contrary, they distinctly state that all are individually kind and reasonable men, and while attributing their own improved position to the various Land Acts given to Ireland, which leave the actual possessor of the land small option in the matter, they freely admit that these gentlemen willingly do more than is ordained by any act of Parliament, and that over and above the provisions of the law, all three are fair-minded men, desirous of doing the right thing by their people and the country at large. Other landlords there were on whose devoted heads were breathed curses both loud and deep.

The late Lord Leitrim was exalted to the skies, but his murdered father was visited with blackest malediction. At Clones, in the County Monaghan, I met a sort of roadside specimen of the Agricola Hibernicus, who explained his position thus:—"Ye see, we wor rayduced 35 per cent., an' 'tis thrue what ye say; but then produce is rayduced 50 per cent., so we're 15 per cent. worse off than iver we wor before. We want another Land Act that'll go to the root. An' that we'll get from an Oirish Parliament an' only from that. 'Tis not the tinints that's always the worst off. Many's the time I seen thim that had a farrum of their own go to the dogs, while thim that had rint to pay sthruggled and sthrived an' made money an' bought the freeholders out. For whin they had nothin' to pay they did no work, an' then, bedad ivery mortial thing wint to the divil. An' that's how it'll be wid the lazy ones once we get Home Rule, which means the land for nothin' or next to nothin'. Barney will kick up his heels and roar whirroo, but call again in a year an' ye'll see he hasn't enough money to jingle on a tombstone."

My next from the New Tipperary, whither I journey via Kildare, Kilkenny, and Limerick, en route for Cork and the Blood-taxed Kerry, where Kerry cows are cut and carved. Now meditation on marauding moonlighters makes melancholy musing mine.

Limerick, April 11th.


Tipperary is Irish, and no mistake. Walking into town from Limerick the first dwellings you reach are of the most primitive description, whether regarded as to sanitary arrangements or otherwise. The ground to the right slopes downwards, and the cabins are built with sloping floors. The architects of these aboriginal erections stuck up four brick walls, a hole in, a hole out, and a hole in the top, without troubling to level the ground. Entering, you take a downward step, and if you walk to the opposite exit, you will need to hold on to the furniture, if any. If you slip on the front step you will fall head first into the back yard, and though your landing might be soft enough, it would have a nameless horror, far more killing than a stony fall. The women stand about frowsy and unkempt, with wild Irish eyes, all wearing the shawl as a hood, many in picturesque tatters, like the cast-off rags of a scarecrow, rags and flesh alike unwashed and of evil odour. The children look healthy and strong, though some of them are almost in puris naturalibus. Their faces are washed once a week; one of them said so, but the statement lacks confirmation, and is opposed to the evidence of the senses. Scenes like these greet the visitor to Old Tipperary, that is, Tipperary proper, if he enter from Limerick. The town is said to be old, and in good sooth the dunghills seem to possess a considerable antiquity. In this matter the Tipperary men are sentimental enough—conservative enough for anything. At Tipperary, of all places, the brutal Saxon will learn how much has been bequeathed to Irishmen by their mighty forefathers.

The eastern side is better. A grand new Roman Catholic church has just been built at a cost of L25,000, and in front of the gilded railings—for they are gilt like the railings of Paris—were dreadful old women, like Macbethian witches, holding out their skinny hands for alms. Smartly dressed young ladies, daughters of publicans and shopkeepers, passed in jauntily, took a splash in the holy water, crossed themselves all over, knocked off a few prayers, and tripped merrily away. The better parts of the town belong to Mr. Smith-Barry, the knock-me-down cabins to Mr. Stafford O'Brien, whose system is different. As the leases fall in the former has modern houses built, while the latter is in the hands of the middlemen, who sub-let the houses, and leave things to slide. The laissez-aller policy is very suitable to the genius of the genuine Irish, who may be said to rule the roost in Tipperary.

I interviewed all sorts and conditions of men, but every individual bound me down to closest secrecy. And although nobody said anything approaching high treason, their alarm on finding they had ventured to express to a stranger anything like their real opinion was very significant. The conversations took place last evening, and this morning before breakfast a young man called on me at the Station Hotel, Limerick Junction, three miles from Tipperary, "on urgent business." "Me father thinks he said too much, an' that ye moight put what he said in print, wid his name to it. Ye promised ye wouldn't, an' me father has confidence, but he wishes to remoind ye that there's plinty in Tipperary would curse him for spakin' wid an Englishman, an' that dozens of thim would murther him or you for the price of a pot of porter." Another messenger shortly arrived, bearing a letter in which the writer said that any mention of his name would simply ruin him, and that he might leave the country at once. And yet these men had only said what Englishmen would account as nothing.

New Tipperary adjoins the old, to which it is on the whole superior. All the descriptions I have seen of the Land League buildings are untrue and unfair. Most of them were written by men who never saw the place, and who paraphrased and perpetuated the original error. It was described as a "mile or two from Tipperary," and the buildings were called "tumble-down shanties of wood, warped and decaying, already falling to pieces." The place adjoins and interlocks with the old town; it is not separated by more than the breadth of a street, is largely built of stone, and comprises a stone arcade, which alone cost many thousands. Some of the cottages are of wood, but they look well, are slated, and seem in good condition. The butter mart, a post and rail affair, with barbed wire decorations, is desolate enough, and nearly all the shops are shuttered. Enamel plates with Dillon Street and Emmett Street still attest the glory that has departed, but the plate bearing Parnell Street escaped my research. The William O'Brien Arcade is scattered to the winds, save and except the sturdy stone walls, which (a la Macaulay's New-Zealander) I surveyed with satisfaction, sketching the ruins of the structure from a broken bench in Dillon Street.

A full and true history of the New Tipperary venture has never been written. As in the present juncture the story is suggestive and instructive, I will try to submit the whole in a form at once concise and accurate. The particulars have been culled with great pains from many quarters and carefully collated on the spot, and may be relied on as minutely exact and undeniable. Everyone admits Mr. Smith-Barry's claim to the title of a good landlord, an excellent landlord, one of a thousand. Before the casus belli was found by William O'Brien all was prosperity, harmony, and peace. Mr. Smith-Barry owns about 5,000 acres of land situate in the fat and fertile plain of Tipperary, known as the Golden Vale, with the best part of the county town itself. Tipperary is a great butter centre. The people are ever driving to the butter factory, which seemed to be worked in the Brittany way. Donkey-carts driven by women, and bearing barrels of milk, abound on the Limerick Road. The land is so rich, grand meadows, and heavy dairy-ground, that the place prospered abundantly, and was by commercial men reckoned an excellent place for business. But they have changed all that. The Tipperary folks were once thought as good as the Bank of England. Now they dislike to pay anything or anybody. Their delicate sense of meum and tuum is blunted. They take all they can get, and pay as little as they can. They affect dunghills and dirt, and have a natural affinity for battle, murder, and sudden death. How did all this come about?

First, as to Mr. Smith-Barry's character. The most advanced Nationalists, the Fenian papers, the Catholic clergy, all concurred in blessing him. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, Canon Hegarty, P.P., and Tim Healy spoke of him in the character of a landlord in highest terms. Sir Charles Russell, Tim Harrington, Mr. O'Leary (Chairman of the Clonakilty Town Commissioners, a violent Nationalist), and Canon Keller (R.C.) unanimously agreed that Mr. Smith-Barry must be exempted from the general condemnation of Irish landlords. They said he was the "kindest of landlords," and that his tenants were "comfortable, respectable, and happy." They proclaimed his "generous and noble deeds," declaring that "there have been no cases of oppression or hardship, and the best and most kindly relations have existed." All these sayings are gathered from Nationalist papers, which would supply thousands of similar character, and up to the time of O'Brien's interference, none of an opposite sort. But, as Serjeant Buzfuz would have said, the serpent was on the trail, the viper was on the hearthstone, the sapper and miner was at work. Thanks to the patriot's influence, the Paradise was soon to become an Inferno.

A Mr. Ponsonby wanted his rents, or part of them. His tenants had lived rent-free for so long—some of them were seven years behind—that they naturally resented the proposed innovation. Mr. Smith-Barry and others came to Mr. Ponsonby's assistance, and, endeavouring to settle the thing by arbitration, proposed that the landlord should knock off L22,000 of arrears, should make reductions of 24 to 34 per cent. in the rents, and make the tenants absolute owners in 49 years. This was not good enough. Judge Gibson thought it "extravagantly generous," but the Tipperary folks resented Mr. Smith-Barry's connection with such a disgracefully tyrannical piece of business, and, at the instance of William O'Brien, determined to make him rue the day he imagined it. They sent a deputation to remonstrate, and Mr. Smith-Barry, while adhering to his opinion as to the liberality of the proposition, explained that he was only one of many, and that whatever he said or did would not change the course of events. The Tipperary folks required him to repudiate the arrangement, to turn his back on his friend and himself, and—here is the cream of the whole thing, this is deliciously Irish—they soberly, seriously, and officially proposed to Mr. Smith-Barry that in addition to the 15 per cent. abatement they had just received on their rent he should make a further remittance of 10 per cent. to enable them to assist the Ponsonby tenants in carrying on the war against their landlord, on whose side Mr. Smith-Barry was fighting. They said in effect, "You have given us 3s. in the pound, to which we had no claim; now we want 2s. more, to enable us to smash the landlord combination, of which you are the leader." This occurred in the proceedings of a business deputation, and not in a comic opera.

Mr. Smith-Barry failed to see the sweet reasonableness of this delightful proposition, and then the fun began.

O'Brien to the rescue, whirroo!

He rushed from Dublin, and told the Tipperary men to pay Smith-Barry no rent. If they paid a penny they were traitors, slaves, murderers, felons, brigands, and bosthoons. If they refused to pay they were patriots, heroes, angels, cherubim and seraphim, the whole country would worship them, they would powerfully assist the Ponsonby folks in the next county, they would be saviours of Ireland.

And besides all this they would keep the money in their pockets. But this was a mere detail.

The people took O'Brien's advice, withholding Mr. Smith-Barry's rent, keeping in their purses what was due to him, in order that somebody's tenants in the next county might get better terms. Still Mr. Smith-Barry held out, and the Land League determined to make of him a terrible example. He owned most of the town. Happy thought! let the shopkeepers leave his hated tenements. Let their habitations be desolate and no man to dwell in their tents. The Land League can build another Tipperary over the way, the tenants can hop across, and Mr. Smith-Barry will be left in the lurch! The end, it was thought, would justify the means, and some sacrifice was expected. Things would not work smoothly at first. The homes of their fathers were void; new dunghills, comparatively flavourless, had to be made, the old accretions, endeared by ancestral associations, had to be abandoned, and the old effluvium weakened by distance was all that was left to them. The new town was off the main line of trade and traffic, but it was thought that these, with the old Tipperary odour, would come in time. Streets and marts were built by the Land League at a cost of L20,000 or more. The people moved away, but they soon moved back again. The shopkeepers could do no business, so with bated breath and whispering humbleness they returned to Mr. Smith-Barry. The mart was declared illegal, and the old one was re-opened. But while the agitation continued, the town was possessed by devils. Terrorism and outrage abounded on every side. The local papers published the names of men who dared to avow esteem for Mr. Smith-Barry, or who were supposed to favour his cause. The Tipperary boys threw bombshells into their houses, pigeon-holed their windows with stones, threw blasts of gun-powder with burning fuses into their homes. They were pitilessly boycotted, and a regular system of spies watched their goings out and their comings in. If they were shopkeepers everything was done to injure them, and people who patronised them were not only placed on the Black List but were assaulted on leaving the shops, and their purchases taken by violence and destroyed. Broken windows and threats of instant death were so common as to be unworthy of mention, and the hundred extra armed policemen who were marched into the town were utterly powerless against the prevailing rowdyism of the Nationalist party. Honest men were coerced into acting as though dishonest, and one unfortunate man, who had in a moment of weakness paid half-a-year's rent, pitifully besought Mr. Smith-Barry's agent to sue him along with the rest, and declared he would rather pay it over again than have it known that the money had been paid. "Ye can pay a year's gale for six months, but ye can't rise again from the dead," said this pious victim to circumstances.

At last the leaders were prosecuted, but before this the Boys had great divarshun. These good Gladstonians, these ardent Home Rulers, these patriotic purists, these famous members of the sans-shirt Separatist section, set no limits to their sacrifices in the Good Cause, stuck at nothing that would exemplify their determination to bring about the Union of Hearts, were resolved to take their light from under a bushel and set it in a candlestick. They wrecked many houses and sorely beat the inmates. They burnt barns, and stacks, and homesteads, and in one case a poor man's donkey-cart with its load of oats. They exploded in people's homes metal boxes, leaden pipes, and glass bottles containing gun-powder, in such numbers as to be beyond reckoning. They burnt the doors and window sashes of the empty houses, knocked people down at dark corners with heavy bludgeons, and fired shots into windows by way of adding zest to the family hearth. Poor John Quinlan escaped five shots, all fired into his house. Mr. Bell, of Pegsboro, beat this record with six. He was believed to sympathise with Mr. Smith-Barry! Men with white masks pervaded the vicinity from the gentle gloaming till the witching morn, and woe to the weak among their opponents, or even among the neutrals, whom they might meet on their march!

The tenants were great losers. A commercial man from Dublin assured me that the agitation cost him L2,000 in bad debts. The people were inconvenienced, unsettled, permanently demoralised, their peaceful relations rudely interrupted, themselves and their commercial connections more or less discredited and injured, and the whole prosperous community impoverished, by the machinations of O'Brien and Bishop Croke of Thurles, a few miles away. The inferior clergy were of course in their element. Father Humphreys and others were notorious for the violence of their language. Gladstonians who think Home Rule heralds the millennium, and who babble of brotherly love, should note the neat speech of good Father Haynes, who said, "We would, if we could, pelt them not only with dynamite, but with the lightnings of heaven and the fires of hell, till every British bulldog, whelp, and cur would be pulverised and made top-dressing for the soil." This is the feeling of the priests, and the people are under the priestly thumb. That this is so is proved by recent events in Dublin. None but the Parnellites could make head against the Catholic Party. In the recent conflict the Parnellites were squelched. Tim Healy kicked and bit, but Bishop Walsh got him on the ropes, and Tim "went down to avoid punishment." The priest holds Tim in the hollow of his hand. Tim and his tribe must be docile, must answer to the whistle, must keep to heel, or they will feel the lash. Should they rebel, their constituencies, acting on priestly orders, will cast them out as unclean, and their occupation, the means by which they live, will be gone. Tim and his congeries hate the clerics, but they fear the flagellum. They loathe their chains, but they must grin and bear them. They have no choice between that and political extinction.

The opinion of Tipperary men on the question of religious toleration is practically unanimous. Pass Home Rule and the Protestants must perforce clear out. As it is, they are entirely excluded from any elective position, their dead are hooted in the streets, their funeral services are mocked and derided by a jeering crowd. The other day a man was fined for insulting the venerable Protestant pastor of Cappawhite, near Tipperary, while the old man was peacefully conducting the burial service of a member of his congregation. Foul oaths and execrations being meekly accepted without protest, a more enterprising Papist struck the pastor with a sod of turf, for which he was punished. But, returning to our muttons, let me conclude with three important points:

(1) Mr. Smith-Barry built the Town Hall of Tipperary at a cost of L3,000, and gave the use thereof to the Town Commissioners for nothing. He spent L1,000 on a butter weigh-house, L500 on a market yard, and tidied up the green at a cost of L300. He gave thirty acres of land for a park, and the ground for the Catholic Cathedral. He offered the land for a Temperance Hall (I think he promised to build it), on condition that it was not used as a political meeting-house. The Catholic Bishop declined to accede to this, and the project was abandoned.

(2) Several dupes of the Land League, for various outrages, were sentenced to punishment varying from one year's hard labour to seven years' penal servitude.

(3) O'Brien, M.P., and Dillon, M.P., who had brought about the trouble, were with others convicted of conspiracy, and were sentenced to six months' imprisonment. But this was in their absence, for soon after the trial commenced, being released on bail, they ran away, putting the salt sea between themselves and their deservings. Heroes and martyrs of Ireland, of whom the brutal Briton hears so much, receive these patriots into your glorious company!

The spirit of Tipperary is ever the same. No open hostility now, but the fires of fanaticism are only smouldering, and only a breath is needed to revive the flame. Every Protestant I saw, and all the intelligent and enlightened Catholics, concur that this is so, and that Home Rule would supply the needful impulse. These men also submit that they understand the matter better than Mr. Gladstone and his patch-work party.

Tipperary April 12th.


The peasantry and small shopkeepers of this district can only be captured by stratagem, and this for two reasons. Their native politeness makes them all things to all men, and their fear of consequences is ever before them. Their caution is not the Scotsman's ingrained discretion, but rather the result of an ever-present fear. English working men of directly opposite politics chum together in good fellowship, harbouring no animosity, agreeing to differ in a friendly way. It is not so in Ireland. The Irish labourer is differently situated. He dare not think for himself, and to boldly speak his mind would mean unknown misfortunes, affecting the liberty and perhaps the lives of himself and those nearest and dearest to him. That is, of course, assuming that his opinions were not approved by the village ruffians who watch his every movement, of whom he stands in deadly terror, and whom he dreads as almost divining his most secret thoughts. A direct query as to present politics would fail in every case. As well try to catch Thames trout with a bent pin, or shoot snipe with a bow and arrow. My plan has been to lounge about brandishing a big red guide-book, a broad-brimmed hat, and an American accent; speaking of antiquities, shortest roads to famous spots, occasionally shmoking my clay dhudeen with the foinest pisantry in the wurruld and listening to their comments on the "moighty foine weather we're havin', Glory be to God." They generally veer round to the universal subject, seeking up-to-date information. Discovering my ignorance of the question, they explain the whole matter, incidentally disclosing their own opinions. The field workers of this district are fairly intelligent. Most have been in England, working as harvesters, and some of the better-informed believe that in future they will be compelled to live in England altogether.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse