HotFreeBooks.com
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

A fine old man, living by the roadside near Oolagh, said:—"I wint to England for thirty-four years runnin', and to the same place, in North Staffordshire, first wid father, thin wid son. Whin I got too ould an' stiff I sent me own son. First it was old Micky, thin it was young Micky. He's away four months, and brings back enough to help us thro' the winter, thanks be to God. The other time he mostly works at the big farrum beyant there. Whin they cut up the big farrums into little ones, nayther meself nor Micky will get anything, by raison we're dacent, harmless people. 'Tis the murtherin' moonlighters will get the land, an' me son wouldn't demane himself by stoppin' in the counthry to work for them. First 'twas the landlords dhrove us away, next 'twill be the tenants. We're bound to be slaughtered some way, although 'twas said that when we 'bolished the landlords we'd end our troubles. But begorra, there's more ways o' killin' a dog than by chokin' him wid butther." There is a growing feeling among the farmers that the land will be heavily taxed to raise revenue, and that this means expatriation to the labouring classes, who will swarm to England in greater numbers than ever.

Another grand old man, named Mulqueen, spoke English imperfectly, and it was only by dint of frequent repetition that his meaning could be mastered. Well clothed and well groomed, he stood at his cottage door, the picture of well-earned repose. Thirty-two years of constabulary service and twenty-one years in a private capacity had brought him to seventy-five, when he returned to end his days on his native spot, among Irish-speaking people, and under the noble shadow of the Galtee Mountains. Divested of the accent which flavoured his rusty English, Mr. Mulqueen's opinions were as follows:—

"I am a Home Ruler and I voted for a Nationalist. But I am now doubtful as to the wisdom of that course. I see that Irishmen quarrel at every turn, that they are splitting up already, that the country under their management would be torn to pieces, that the people would suffer severely, and that England would have to interfere to keep our leaders from each other's throats. It was Irish disputes that brought the English here at first. In the event of an Irish Legislature Irish disagreements would bring them here again. We'll never be able to govern ourselves until the people are more enlightened." I left this sensible and truly patriotic Irishman with the wish that there were more like him. He was a pious Catholic, and regretted to learn that I was otherwise, admitting in extenuation that this was rather a misfortune than a fault, and, with a parting hand-shake, expressing an earnest hope that "the golden gates of glory might open to receive my sowl, and that we might again convarse in the company of the blessed saints in the peaceful courts of heaven." This old-fashioned pious kindliness is hardly now the mode, and isolated instances can rarely be met with even in remote country districts.

Running down to Limerick, I witnessed a warm contention between a Unionist from Belfast and a commercial traveller from Mullingar, a hot Home Ruler, the latter basing his arguments on alleged iniquitous treatment of his father, a West Meath farmer, and defending boycotting as "a bloodless weapon," which phrase he evidently considered unanswerable. The Land League he contended was a fair combination to protect the interests of the tenants, and avowed that all evictions were unwarrantable acts of tyranny. The Belfast man showed that these arguments were equally applicable to the other side, and asked the patriot if eviction were not likewise "a bloodless weapon," to which inquiry the Mullingar man failed to find the proper answer, and, not coming up to time, was by his backers held to have thrown up the sponge. This incident is only valuable as showing the poor line of country hunted by the more brainy Nationalists. A County Clare man boasted of his collection of Irish curiosities. "I have the pistol O'Connell shot So-and-So with, I have the pistol Grattan used when he met Somebody else, I have the sword of Wolfe Tone, the pike that Miles O'Flanagan—" Here the Ulsterman broke in with—

"Excuse me, Sir. There's one thing I'd like to see if ye have it. Like you, I am a pathriotic Irishman, and take deloight in relics appertaining to the histhory of me counthry. Tell me now, have ye the horsewhip, the thunderin' big horsewhip, that young McDermot, of Thrinity College, used when he administhered condign punishment to Tim Healy? Have ye that, now?"

The County Clare man was completely knocked out. He discontinued the recital of his catalogue, and surveyed the scenery in dignified silence. His own friends chuckled. This was the most unkindest cut of all. Irishmen love to see a splendid knockdown blow. They are full of fight, and their spirit must have vent. They fight for fun, for love, for anything, for nothing, with words, with blows, with tongues, with blackthorns, anywhere, anyhow, only let them fight. Remove Mr. Bull, they will fight each other. Heaven help the right when nobody stands by to see fair play!

A Mr. Magrath, of Killmallock, was inclined to take a jocose view of the situation. "Faix, the English could never govern Ireland, an' small blame to thim for that same. Did ye see the Divil's Bit Mountains as ye came down from Dublin? Ye did? Av coorse, ye couldn't help but see them. Did ye see the big bite he tuk out o' the range—ye can see the marks o' the divil's own teeth, an' the very shape of his gums, divil sweep him! Shure, I seen it meself whin I wint to the Curragh races wid Barney Maloney; an' by the same token, 'twas Barney axplained it to me. Didn't the divil take his bite, an' then didn't he dhrop it on the plain out there forninst ye, the big lump they call the rock iv Cashel? Av coorse he did. An' if the divil himself found Ireland too hard a nut to crack, how can the English expect to manage us? Anyway, 'tis too big a mouthful for Misther Bull." One gentleman stood at his shop door, and having looked carefully around, said, "Ye niver know who ye're spakin' wid, an' ye niver know who's spyin' ye. Ah, this is a terrible counthry since we all got upset wid this Home Rule question. Did ye hear of Sadleir, of Tipperary? Ye didn't? He was a savin', sthrivin' man, an' he married a woman wid money. He had a foine shop, wid ploughs, an' sickles, an' spades for the whole counthry round. 'Twas a grand business he had, an' he made a powerful dale o' money. He was a quiet man, an' niver wint to the whiskey shops, where the boys they would be quarrellin' an' knockin' hell out iv each other. He introduced a timprance lecturer that towld the boys the poteen was pizenin' thim, an' 'twas wather they must dhrink. Ha! Ha! Will I tell ye what owld Sheela Maguire said to the timprance man?"

I admitted a delirious delight in discursive digression.

"The timprance man had a wondherful glass that made iverything a thousand million times as big. What's this he called it? Ye're right, 'twas a my-cross-scrope; ye hit it to a pop; bedad 'tis yerself has the larnin.' An' the people looked through it at the wather he put in a glass, an' they seen the wather all swimmin' wid snakes an' scorpions; 'twas enough to terrify the mortal sowl out o' ye. An' so Sheela looked in an' saw them. An' the man put in the wather a good dhrop o' whiskey, an' he says, says he, 'Now ye'll see the effect on animal life,' says he. An' Sheela looked in again, an' she seen the snakes all doubled up, an' kilt, an' murthered an' says Sheela, says she:—

"'May the divil fly away wid me,' says she, 'if I ever touch wather again till I first put in whiskey to kill them fellows!'

"'Twas poor Sadleir, of Tipperary town, brought the man down. Sadleir must howld land; nothin' less would sarve him, an' he tuk from Smith-Barry a big houldin', an' paid the out-going tenant five thousand pounds for his interest. Whin the throubles began he refused to join the Land League, by raison that he'd put all his money in the land. They sent him terrible letthers wid skulls an' guns, an' coffins, an' they said Will ye join? An' he said No, once. They smashed ivery pane o' glass in his house, an' they said Will ye join? An' he said No, twice. They bate his servants next, an' said Will ye join? An' he said No, three times. They threw explosives into the house, an' said Will ye join? An' he broke down. He was afeard for his life. He wint in wid the rest, an' refused to pay rint', an' iv coorse he got evicted, an' lost his five thousand pounds he put into the farm, an' then he lost his business, an' before long he died with a broken heart. An' where did he die? Just in the workhouse. 'Twas all thro' William O'Brien, the great frind iv Oireland, that this happened. An' if O'Brien an' his frinds got into power, why wouldn't it happen again? But we're afeard to breathe almost in this unfortunate counthry, God help us!"

Amid the varying opinions of the Irish people there is one point on which they are unanimous. They have no confidence in their present leaders, whom they freely accuse of blackguardism, lying, and flagrant dishonesty. Business men, although Home Rulers, agree that the destinies of the country should not be trusted to either or any of the jarring factions, which like unclean birds of evil omen hover darkling around, already disputing with horrid dissonance possession of the carcase on which they hope to batten. At the Station Hotel, Limerick Junction, a warm Nationalist said to me, "The country will be ruined with those blackguards. We have a right to Home Rule, an abstract right to manage our own affairs, and I believe in the principle. But I want such men as Andrew Jameson, or Jonathan Hogg, or that other Quaker, Pym, the big draper. There we have honourable gentlemen, whom we or the English alike might trust, either as to ability or integrity. We might place ourselves in the hands of such men and close our eyes with perfect confidence. Our misfortune is that our men, as a whole, are a long way below par. They inspire no confidence, they carry no weight, and nobody has any respect for them." Here my friend mentioned names, and spoke of an Irish M.P.'s conduct at Sligo. I give his story exactly as I heard it, premising that my informant's tout ensemble was satisfactory, and that he assured me I might rely on his words:—"At the Imperial Hotel a discussion arose—a merely political discussion—and blows were exchanged, the 'honourable gentleman' and others rolling about the floor like so many savage bull dogs in a regular rough-and-tumble fight. The poor 'boots' got his face badly bruised, and for some days went about in mourning. I see that this same member is bringing in a Bill in the House of Commons, and I read it through with great interest, because I remembered the row, which was hushed up, and never appeared in the papers. Imagine any Irishman, with any respect either for himself or his country, trusting either to a parcel of fellows like that."

My friend spoke more moderately of the objectionable Irish M.P.'s than they do of each other, but his opinions were obviously strong enough for anything. The attitude of the Freeman's Journal moved him to contempt, and its abject subjection to the priesthood excited his disgust. He said, waving the despised sheet with indignity—"We have no paper now. We lost all when we lost Parnell. He was a Protestant, and could carry the English people, and with all his faults he had the training of a gentleman. Look at the low-bred animals that represent us now. Look at Blank-Blanky and his whole boiling. I swear I am ashamed to look an Englishman in the face. The very thought of the Irish members makes me puke."

The mention of Mr. Jonathan Hogg reminds me that this eminent Dubliner submitted to me a point which I do not remember to have seen in print. Said Mr. Hogg: "When the Irish Legislature has become an accomplished fact, which is extremely improbable, the land will be divided and sub-divided until the separate holdings will yield incomes below the amount required for the payment of income-tax. The effect of this will be that a large number of incomes now paying tax will disappear, each leaving a number of small incomes paying no tax, so that a larger tax must be levied on the remaining incomes to meet the deficiency. Then the large manufacturers who can move away will certainly do so, and the country will suffer severely. Employment will be scarce or altogether lacking, and the people will go to England, by their competition lowering the rate of wage." The mention of Mr. Andrew Jameson reminds me of his opinion re Customs. He said to me "The bill nominally deprecates Separation, and yet proposes to establish a Custom House between the two countries, making Ireland a foreign country at once." Mr. John Jameson, who was present along with Mr. Arundel, the business manager of the great J.J. concern, then expressed his fears anent the practicability of Customs' collections on the Irish coast. He said, "We have 1,300 coastguards at present, and this force is ample when backed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, marching and patrolling in the interior. But when the constabulary are no longer engaged in the direct protection of British interests the little force of thirteen hundred coastguards must prove quite insufficient, and I doubt if even thirteen thousand would prove an adequate force. The Irish people will have no interest in protecting the British Government. Their interest will be exactly the other way. Grave difficulties attend the proposition having regard to the Customs duties between the two countries." Another eminent authority then present referred to the encouragement which the Act would give to the enterprising smuggler, and thought that a small fleet of American steamers, smart built, fast little boats, would instantly spring into existence to carry on a splendidly paying trade—a trade, too, having untold fascination for the Yankees, while the average Irishman, as everybody knows, is a smuggler by nature, disposition, heredity, and divine right. It was also pointed out that, whereas huge quantities of spirits now pass to Ireland through the ports of Bristol and London, under the new dispensation Irish merchants would order direct, which would inflict loss on England. The details of this loss were fully explained, but I omit them for the reason that experts will understand, while lay readers may safely accept a statement uttered in the presence of the two Jamesons and receiving their assent.

But my friend's conversation reminded me of something more, and I remembered a little story I heard in Dublin respecting a daily disseminator of priest-ordered politics. It owed some rent for the premises it occupies on the thymy banks of the odorous Liffey. It owed, I say, for owing, not paying, is the strong suit of the party it represents. It was pressed to pay, coaxed to plank down, soothered to shell out. A registered letter with premonitory twist of the screw "fetched" the patriot laggards. They or "It" paid up, but failed to look pleasant. In his hurry the glad recipient of the cash gave a receipt up to date instead of up to the time the rent was due. The immaculate organ of highly-rectified morality wished to hold the writer of the receipt to his pen-slip, to nobble the rent; and being reproached backed out with:—

"We thought you wanted to give it as a present." The landlord is a strong Unionist. The rottenness of repudiation is spreading everywhere. Lying and theft, under other names, would be, the dominant influences under the new regime. But it may be objected—If Irishmen have no respect for their members, why did they elect them? If they object to Home Rule, why did they vote for it? And so on, and so on. These queries at first blush seem unanswerable, but they are not really so. Attentive readers of later letters will discover the reason why. Further, it may be remarked, in passing, that questions are more easily asked than answered. Here is an instance. The facts are undeniable, staring us in the face:—

The base and bloody Balfour, unaccompanied by men who have been called his black and brutal bloodhounds, moves about in Ireland unmolested, with no other protection than that of his sister.

The bright and brilliant O'Brien, the purist-patriot, visiting the constituency of which he is the senior member, is with difficulty protected by a powerful force of the police he has so often affected to despise.

Other Nationalist members dare not appear in Nationalist quarters. How is this?

To return to the objections given above. Since the appearance of the bill, Irishmen have been changing their minds. Day by day they dread it more and more. They still believe that under certain conditions Home Rule would be a good thing for Ireland. But they begin to see that the required conditions do not exist. They begin to see that they have been used by such men as O'Brien and Healy, they see the incompetency which has reduced the party paper to so low an ebb, they see the misery and degradation which the Land League inflicted on the once thriving districts of Tipperary; they saw their neighbours, poor, unlettered men, dupes of unscrupulous lying eloquence, men whom it was murder to deceive—they saw these men sentenced to long terms of penal servitude, while the instigators of the crimes for which they had suffered, availing themselves of the liberal English law, broke their bail, and, travelling first-class to Paris, lived in the best hotels of that gay city on the plunder they had wiled from ignorant servant girls, being clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day, while their friends the felons trod the tireless wheel and the housemaids went on with their scrubbing.

The Irish people have seen these things and many more, and, as the French say, they have reflected. A very considerable proportion of the lower classes have already changed their minds, but—they dare not own it. So the process of education is comparatively slow. A small farmer said to me, "Not an hour's walk from here, a small tinant like meself was suspicted to be a thraitor to the cause. He was a sthrivin' man, an' he had really no politics, an' only wanted to get lave to work his land, an' earn his bit an' sup.

"He had two sthrappin' daughters, as nice, dacent young girls as ye'd see in a summer's day. They were seen spakin' to a pliceman—that was all they done—an' four men came that night, four ruffians wid white masks, an' havin' secured the father, they dhragged the young girls out of bed at the dead hour, an' stripped them to the skin. Thin they cut off their hair close wid a knife, the way ye'd cut corn, an' scarified their bodies wid knives. Would ye wondher we're careful?"

I asked him whether a Protestant could in his district hope to be elected to any public position, the Board of Guardians for instance (he was a good Catholic). His answer was an unqualified No. Then he took time, and shortly proposed the following statement of the position, which I present on account of its gem-like finish:—

"I wouldn't say but they'd put on a Protestant av he paid for it by settlin' wid the priest that for certain considerations he would be contint wid a seat on the boord. An' thin he must renounce his political ideas, or promise never to mintion thim in public. But, begorra, he'd have to sell his birthright for a mess of pottage by makin' a decoy duck of himself!"

In adding this great specimen to the immortal list of memorable mixed metaphors, I feel that my visit to Ireland has not been quite in vain.

Oolagh, (Co. Tipperary), April 15th.



No. 10.—DEFYING THE LAND LEAGUE.

"Burn everything English except English coals." That was the first sentiment I heard in "rebel Cork," and it certainly expresses the dominant feeling of the local Nationalist party, who do not seem to have heard of the proposed Union of Hearts, or, if they have heard, they certainly have not heeded. Nor will anyone who knows for one moment assert that the Corkers entertain the idea. My hotel is a hotbed of sedition. It is the southern head-quarters of the Parnellite party. The spacious entrance hall is a favourite resort of the leading Cork Nationalists, who air their views in public with much excited gesture, having its basis in whiskey-nourished hatred of English rule. They walk to the bar, suck in the liquid bliss, and return to the spot whence they may look upon the beauteous promenaders of Patrick Street. They prefer the kaleidoscopic change of the streets to the stationary beauty of the bar, and while admitting the unfleeting quality of the fixed stars they worship the procession of the equinoxes. On Saturday last, the day O'Brien died, the Mayor of Cork, with Mayoral chain and hosts of satellites, might have been seen under the familiar portal, discussing the proposed public funeral of the lamented friend, once Mayor of the City, and described as "a gentleman who had, by his courageous and outspoken utterances, obtained the distinguished honour of imprisonment by the British Government." Particulars were not given, as the first two incarcerations occurred under Forster and Trevelyan. The third, under Balfour, was a term of fourteen days for assaulting a policeman. The Corporation discussed the patriot's merits without descending to detail. Outside, the newspaper boys were yelling "Arrest of Misther Balfour-r-r," but the Corporation were no buyers. The populace might be taken in, but official Cork know it was the "wrong 'un," and clave to its hard-earned pence.

Public opinion here is much the same as in Dublin, only hotter. Respectable people who have anything to lose are, if possible, more seriously alarmed. The lower classes are, if possible, more bitter, more implacable in their animosity to everything English. Nevertheless, the feeling against Home Rule is assuredly gaining ground, even among the most ardent Nationalists. The great meeting of last Wednesday showed what the Unionists could do, how they could crowd a great platform with the intelligence of the country, and fill a great hall with the Unionist rank and file. The Loyalists have astonished themselves. They knew not their own strength. Now they are taking fresh heart, determined to hold out to extremity. The Separatists—for the Corkers are Separatists au naturel—are somewhat disconcerted, and try to minimise the effect of the meeting by sneering and contumely; but it will not do. They affect hilarity, but their laughter is not real. Perhaps nothing shows the shallowness of men more than the tricks they think sufficient to deceive. And then the leaders are accustomed to a credulous public. The place is eminently religious. Cork is the Isle of Saints—with a port and a garrison to enhance its sanctity. At certain seasons a big trade is done in candles, on which names are written, which being blessed and burnt have powerful influence in the heavenly courts. It costs a trifle to hallow the tallow, but no matter. A friend has seen a muddy little well, which is fine for sore eyes. Offerings of old bottles and little headless images were planted around, but the favourite gift was a pin, stuck in the ground by way of fee. Jolly Mr. Whicker, of Dublin, who represents three Birmingham houses, saw Father McFadden, of Gweedore, waving his hat when in custody. A policeman insisted that this should cease, when a man in the crowd said to Mr. Whicker:—

"Arrah, now, look at the holy man. He puts on his hat widout a wurrud, whin he could strike the man dead wid jist sayin' a curse. 'Tis a good saint he is, to go wid the police, whin if he sthretched out his hand he could wither thim up, an' bur-rn thim like sthraws in the blazin' turf!"

These people have votes, and to a man support the Nationalist party. It is proposed to place Ireland under a Government governed by these good folks, who are in turn governed by their sacred medicine-men.

A member of the firm of Cooke Brothers, a native of Cork, in business in this city fifty years, said:—

"There can be no doubt that the bill means ruin for Ireland, and therefore damage to England. The poor folks here believe the most extravagant things, and follow the agitators like a flock of sheep. They are undoubtedly wanting in energy. We have the richest land in Ireland, wonderful pastures that turn out the most splendid cattle in the world, big salmon rivers, a most fruitful country, a land flowing with milk and honey. As the rents are judicially fixed there can be no ground for complaint, but the people will not help themselves. Whether it is in the climate I cannot say, but I must reluctantly admit—and no one will gainsay my statement—that the people of the South, to put it mildly, are not a striving sort.

"They want somebody else to do something for them. They get on a stick and wait till it turns to a horse before they ride. No Act of Parliament will help them, for they will not help themselves.

"Look at the magnificent country you saw from Dublin to this city. Compare it with the black and desolate bogs of Ulster, and then ask yourself this question—How is it that the Ulster people, with far worse land, worse harbours, worse position, and having the same laws, are prosperous and content to have no change? If the Northerns and Southerns would swop countries, Ireland must develop into one of the most prosperous countries in the world. The Ulster men are tremendously handicapped as against the Munster folks, but—they are workers. Some say that if they were here the climate would enervate them, but I do not find that my experience countenances this supposition. Fifty years ago all the leading merchants and tradesmen of Cork were Catholics. It is not so now. What does that prove? I withhold my own opinion.

"The Southerners are better fixed than the Ulstermen, but they are idle, and—this is very important—extremely sentimental."

An avowed Nationalist, one Sullivan, completely bore out this last statement. "We want to manage our own business, and be ruled by Irishmen. You say in England that we shall be poor, and so we may, but that is no argument at all. It might influence a nation of shopkeepers, but it has no weight with Irishmen, who have a proper and creditable wish to make their country one of the nations of the world. The very servant girls feel this, and the poorest peasant woman now having what she calls a 'tay brakefast' is willing to go back to porridge if the country was once rid of the English. Never you mind what will happen to us. Cut us adrift, and that will be all we ask. If we need help we can affiliate with America or even France. The first is half our own people, the second understands the Irish nation, which fought for centuries in the French armies, and, under Marshal Saxe, an Irishman, routed the English at Fontenoy." This gentleman was civil and moderate in tone, but he did not promise to walk down the ages arm-in-arm with England, attesting eternal amity by exchanging smokes and drinks. "We'll be very glad to see the English as tourists," he said. "And they will have to behave themselves, too," he added, reflectively.

A large trader of Patrick Street has most serious misgivings as to the effect of the bill. He said:—

"I had just been over to England to make purchases. Arriving here, I found the bill just out. I read it, and at once cancelled half my orders. We are reducing stock. What Home Rule would do for us I cannot contemplate. The mere threat amounts to partial paralysis. What the Cork people want with Home Rule is beyond me. They have everything in their own hands. The city elections of all kinds are governed by the rural voters of five miles round. Wealth and commercial capital are completely swamped by these obedient servants of the priests. Mr. Gladstone talks of an Upper House, with a L20 qualification. Why, the qualification for the Grand Jury is L40. Many of the twenty-pounders round here cannot read or write, and yet they will be qualified for the Irish House of Lords.

A customer came up and said:—"Gladstone wants to hand the capital and commerce of this country to men like Tim Healy, who expects to be Prime Minister, and who will succeed, if the bill passes and he can eat priestly dirt enough. I knew where he was reared in Waterford, in a little tripe and drischeen shop."

I rose to a point of order. Would the honourable member now addressing the House kindly explain the technical term "drischeen shop?" "Certainly. The drischeen is a sort of pudding, made of hog's blood and entrails, with a mixture of tansy and other things. Tim would know them well for he was reared on them, which accounts for his characteristic career. Do you know that the Queenstown Town Commissioners call each other liars, and invite each other to come out and settle it on the landing? Get the Cork Constitution, look over the file, and you'll drop on gems that will be the soul of your next letter. Don't miss it. And that's the sort of folks Mr. Gladstone would trust with the fate of England as well as Ireland, for their fates would be the same. You cannot separate them. The people of England do not seem to see through that. They will have an awful awakening. And serve them right. They make a pact with traitors; they offer their throats to the murderer, and they say, 'Anything to oblige you. I know you won't hurt us much.'

"The Southern Irish are the most lovable people in the world, with all their faults, if they were not led astray by hireling agitators, who ruin the country by playing on the people's ignorance, exciting the Catholic hope of religious domination, and trusting to damage England as a great spreader of Protestantism. A lie is no lie if told to a Protestant. To keep a Protestant out of heaven would be a meritorious action. And they would readily damage themselves if by doing so they could also damage England. Englishmen hardly believe this, but every commercial traveller from an English house knows it is true."

I tested a number of English commercials on this point. All confirmed the statement above given. Many had been Gladstonians, but now all were Unionists. None of them knew an English or Scotch commercial who, having travelled in Ireland, remained a Home Ruler. Such a person, they thought, did not exist. Admitted that for business purposes the apparent rara avis might possibly, though not probably, be found, all agreed that no Englishman in his senses, with personal knowledge of the subject, could over support Home Rule. Two Gladstonians went from Chester to Tipperary to investigate the troubles: both returned converted. Six men from a shop-fitting establishment in Birmingham worked some weeks in Dublin: all returned Unionist to the core. This from Mr. Sibley, of Grafton street, Dublin, in whose splendid shop I met the Duchess of Leinster, handsomest woman in Ireland, and therefore (say Irishmen) handsomest in the world. She was buying books for Mr. Balfour, who, she said, was a great reader of everything connected with Ireland or Irish affairs. Mr. Sibley is a partner of Mr. Combridge, of New street, Birmingham, and is a leading Irish Unionist. Returning to the cancelling of orders, I will add that Mr. Richard Patterson, J.P., of Belfast, the largest buyer of hardware in Ireland, has cancelled very largely, together with two other large firms, whose names he gave me. You will remember Mr. John Cook, the Protestant Home Ruler, of Derry. His manager, Mr. Smith, has written the Birmingham factor of the house, to omit his usual visit, as the firm will have no orders for him. A strange comment on Mr. Cook's theories of confidence. Mr. Cook is an excellent, a high-minded man. He asked me how I would class him among his party. I called him a Visionary in Excelsis.

Every self-respecting Saxon visitor to Cork visits the famous castle of Blarney, seven miles away, to see the scenery and kiss the Blarney Stone, the apparent source of Home Rule inspiration.

There is a stone there That whoever kisses Och! he never misses To grow eloquent. 'Tis he may clamber To a lady's chamber, Or become a member Of Parliament.

A clever spouter He'll sure turn out, or An out-an'-outer To be let alone! Don't hope to hindher him Or to bewildher him— Sure, he's a pilgrim From the Blarney stone!

The walk is delightful, not unlike that from Colwyn Bay to Conway, but more beautiful still, as instead of the London and North Western Railway a lovely river runs along the valley on your right. The Cork and Muskerry Light Railway occupies the roadside for the first four miles, relic of the beneficent Balfour—winding by the river side for the rest of the journey, through fat meadows dotted with thriving kine, and having a background of richly-wooded hills. At Carrickrohane your left is bounded by a huge precipitous rock, covered from base to summit with ivy and other greenery, a great grey building on the very brink of the abyss, flanked by Scotch firs, peering over the precipice. A fine stone bridge, garrisoned by salmon-fishers, leads to the Anglers' Rest, and here I found a splendid character, one Dennis Mulcahy, who boasted of his successful resistance to the Land League. Having told me of his adventures in America, and how his oyster-bar experiences in the Far West had opened his eyes to the fact that the Irish people were being humbugged, he narrated his return to his native land, on his succession to a small farm left him by "an ould aunt he had." His language was so forcible and picturesque that I despair of conveying its effect, more especially as no pen can describe the rich brogue, which, notwithstanding his two years' residence in the States, was still thick enough to be cut with a knife. Apart from its amusing side, his story has a moral, and may be instructively applied.

"'Twas at Ballina I was, the toime o' the Land Lague. 'Twas there Captain Moonlight started from, an' the whole disthrict was shiverin' in their shoes. I refused to subscribe to the Land Lague, an' they started to compil me, but, be the powers, they tackled the wrong tom-cat whin they wint to coarce Dennis Mulcahy. Threatenin' letthers, wid pictures o' death's-heads, an' guns, an' pikes, an' coffins, was but a thrifle to the way they wint on. But they knew I had a thrifle of a sivin-shooter, an' bad luck to the one o' thim that dared mislist me at all. At last it got abroad that I was to get a batin' wid blackthorn sticks, for they wor tired the life out o' them, raisonin' wid me. Well, says I, I'm here, says I, an' the first man that raises a hand to me, I'll invite him to his own inquist, says I, for, bedad, I'll perforate him like a riddle, says I. Well, it wint on an' on, till one day I was stayin' at a bit of a shebeen outside the place, when a slip o' a girleen kem to me—I was sittin' on a bench in the back garden, the way I'd enjoy my pipe in the fresh air, an', says she, 'Get out o' this, for there's a whole crew o' thim inside going to bate you.' That was six or seven o' a fine summer's night, an' I walked into the house an' took a look at thim—a thievin' heap o' blayguards as iver ye seen wid your two eyes."

"I wint out again an' sat in the haggard, where I could kape my eye on the dure. Prisintly out comes one o' thim, to commince the row, I suppose.

"He spoke o' the Land Lague, an' I towld him I didn't agree wid it at all, and 'twas a thievin' invintion o' a set o' roguish schamers.

"'Ye'd betther mind yer manners,' says he, 'onless ye have yer revalver,' says he, lookin' at me maningly.

"Faix, 'tis here, says I, pullin' out the tool.

"'But can ye handle it?' says he.

"Begorra, says I, I'd shoot a fly off yer nose; an' wid that I looked round for a mark, an' I seen in a three foreninst me a lump o' a crow sittin' annoyin' me. 'Will ye quit yer dhrimandhru?' says I, to the botherin' ould rook.

"'Caw, caw, caw,' says he, vexin' me intirely.

"Bang! says I, an the dirty blackburd comes fluttherin' down, an' dhropped in the haggard like a log o' limestone.

"Ye should have seen that fellow! The landlord wid the whole rout o' thim runs out. 'What's the matter?' says he, starin' round like a sick cod-fish.

"'I'm afther charmin' a burd out iv a three; 'tis a way I have,' says I, shovin' in a fresh cartridge from my waistcoat pocket, fair an' aisy, an' kapin' me back to the haystack.

"'Was it you kilt the jackdaw?' says he.

"''Twas meself,' says I, 'that did it,' says I.

"'An' ye carry a murdherin' thing like that in a paceful counthry,' says he. ''Tis yer American thrainin' says he, sneerin'.

"I tuk off me hat an' giv' him a bow an' a scrape. 'Is it yerself would insinse me into the rudiments o' polite larnin'?' says I. Thin I looked him straight into the white iv his eye, an' give him the length o' my tongue. Me blood was up whin I seen this spalpeen wid his dirty set o' vagabones waitin' to murther me if they ketched me unbeknownst. 'Michael Hegarty,' says I, 'where did ye scour up yer thievin' set o' rag-heaps?' says I. 'Ye'd bate me wid blackthorns, would ye? Come on, you and your dirty thribe, till I put sivin shots into yez. Shure I could pick the eye out o' yez shure I could shoot a louse off yer ear,' says I. 'Anger me,' says I, 'an' I'll murther the whole parish; raise a stick to me, an' I'll shlaughter the whole counthry side.' An' wid that I cocked me little shootin'-iron.

"Ye should have seen that shebeen-keeper; ye should have seen the whole o' them whin I raised me voice an' lifted me little Colt!

"They tumbled away through the dure, crossin' each other like threes ye'd cut down, lavin' the landlord, struck all iv a heap, the mug on him white as a new twelve-pinny, staggerin' on his two shin-bones, an' thrimblin' an' shiverin' wid fright, till ye'd think he'd shake the teeth out iv his head.

"The murdherin' vilyans want shtandin' up to, an' they'll rispict ye. I had no further trouble. That was the last o' thim. 'Tis the wake an' difinceless people they bate an' murther. I heerd there was talk o' shootin' me from the back iv a ditch; an' that one said, 'But av ye missed?' says he. 'What thin?' says he.

"Ye should sind ould Gladstone an' Morley an' the other ould women to Carrignaheela till I give them a noggin' o' right poteen an' insinse thim into the way iv it. The only way o' managin' me counthrymin is to be the masther all out, an' 'tis thrue what I spake, an' sorra one o' me cares who hears me opinion. I'm the only man in the counthry that dares open his teeth, an' yet they all thrate me well now, an' the priest invites me to his house. An' all because I spake me mind, an' don't care three thraneens for the whole o' thim. 'Twas in America I larned the secret."

Cork, April 20th.



No. 11.—THE CRY FOR PEACE AND QUIETNESS.

"What's the next place to this?" I asked, as the Southern and Western Railway deposited me at Tralee. I was uncertain as to whether the place was a terminus, but the gintleman who dhrove the cyar I hailed marvelled greatly at my ignorance. He surveyed me from top to toe with a compassionate expression. No doubt he had heard much of the ignorance of the uncivilised English, but this beat the record. Not to know that Tralee was on the sea, not to know that the little port frowned o'er the wild Atlantic main, as Mr. Micawber would have said. He struggled for a moment with his emotion and then said,

"Musha, the next parish is Amerikay!"

I apologised for my imperfect geographical knowledge, but the cyar-man was immovable. No pardoning look stole over his big red face, which was of the size and complexion of a newly cut ham. Nor would he enter into conversation with the inquiring stranger. He cursed his horse with a copiousness which showed his power of imagination, and with a minute attention to detail which demonstrated a superior business capacity. Put him in the House amongst the Nationalist members, and he is bound to come to the front. The qualifications above-mentioned cannot fail to ensure success. We have the examples before us, no need to mention names. A hard cheek, a bitter tongue, and a good digestion are the three great steps in the Irish Parliamentary gradus ad Parnassum, the cheek to enable its happy possessor to "snub up" to gentlemen of birth and breeding, the tongue to drip gall and venom on all and sundry, the digestion to eat dirt ad libitum and to endure hebdomadal horsewhippings. Such a man, I am sure, was the dhriver of my cyar, who may readily be identified. His physiognomy is very like the railway map of Ireland, coloured red, with the rivers and mountain ranges in dark-blue or plum-colour. As a means of ready reference he would be invaluable in the House of Commons. How interesting to see Mr. Gladstone poring over his cheek (Connaught and Leinster), his jaw (Munster, with a pimple for Parnellite Cork), and his forehead (Ulster, with the eyes for Derry and Belfast). The G.O.M. would find the Kerry member invaluable. Like the rest he would probably be devoid of shame, untroubled by scruples, and a straight voter for his side, so long as he was not allowed to go "widout a male." Who knows but that, like the Prime Minister's chief Irish adviser, he may even have been reared on the savoury tripe and the succulent "drischeen"?

All the Tralee folks are shy of political talk. They eye you for a long time before they commit themselves, but when once started they can hardly stop, so warm are they, so intensely interested in the great question. Running down the line, a Cork merchant said "The Kerry folks are decent, quiet folks by nature. Do not believe that these simple villagers are the determined murderers they would seem to be. No brighter intellects in Ireland, no better hearts, no more hospitable hosts in the Emerald Isle. They are very superstitious. There you have it all. 'Tis their beautiful ingenuousness that makes them so easily led astray. What do these simple country folks, living on their farms, without books, without newspapers, without communication with large centres—what do they know about intricate State affairs? What can they do but listen to the priest, regarded as the great scholar of the district, reverenced as almost—nay, quite infallible, and credited with the power to give or withhold eternal life? For while in England the people only respect a parson according to the esteem he deserves as a man, in Ireland the priestly office invests the man with a character entirely different from his own, and covers everything. These poor folks felt the pinch of hard times, and the agitators, backed by their Church, saw their opportunity and commenced to use it. Hence the Kerry moonlighters, poor fellows, fighting in their rude and uncouth way for what they believed to be patriotism and freedom. They should be pitied rather than blamed, for they were assuredly acting up to their light, and upon the advice of men they had from childhood been taught to regard as wise, sincere, and disinterested counsellors.

"Ah me, what terrible times we had in Cork! Belfast may boast, but Belfast is not in it. We were in the centre of the fire. The shopkeepers of Patrick Street deserve the fullest recognition from the British nation. They had to furnish juries to well and truly try the moonlighters of Kerry, Clare, and several other counties. They sat for eight months, had to adjourn over Christmas, and those men returned true bills at the peril of their lives. The venue was changed to Cork for all these counties, and every man jack of the jury knew full well that any day some fanatic friend of the convicted men might shoot or stab him in the street. The loyalty of Belfast is all the talk, but it has never undergone so severe a test. There the Loyalists have it all their own way. Here the Loyalists, instead of being three to one, are only one to three. The Ulstermen are the entrenched army; the Cork Unionists are the advanced picket. More judges got promotion from Cork than elsewhere. We changed the barristers' silk to ermine, too. All this shows what we went through. Everything is quiet now; Balfour terrified the life out of them, and Captain Moonlight at the mention of that name would skip like spring-heeled Jack."

The Kerry folks turned out bright as their reputation. It was hard to believe that these simple, kindly peasants had ever stained their beautiful pastoral country with the bloodiest, cruellest deeds of recent times. They have a polite, deferential manner without servility, and a pious way of interpolating prayer and thanksgiving with their ordinary conversation.

"Good morning, Sir."

"Good mornin', an' God save ye, Sorr."

"Fine weather."

"'Tis indeed foine weather, glory be to God."

"Nice country."

"Troth, it is a splindid country. The Lord keep us in it."

A prosperous-looking shop with a portly personage at the door looked so uncommonly Unionistic that I ventured to make a few inquiries re the antiquities of the district. The inevitable topic soon turned up, and to my surprise my friend avowed himself a Home Ruler and a Protectionist. His opinions and illustrations struck me as remarkable, and with his permission I record them here.

"Yes, I am a Home Ruler—in theory. I think Home Rule would be best for both. Best for you and best for me, as the song says; but mark me well—NOT YET.

"You are surprised that I should say Not Yet so emphatically, but the fact is I love my country, and, besides, all my interests and those of my children are bound up with the prosperity of the country. This ought to sharpen a man's wits, if anything could do it, and I have for many years been engaged in thinking out the matter, and my mind is now made up.

"Home Rule from Gladstone will ruin us altogether. We must have Home Rule from Balfour. We must have Home Rule, but we must have it from a Conservative Government. You smile. Is that new to you? It is? Just because Home Rulers in this country cannot afford to express their views at this moment. But the hope is entertained by all, I will say all, the most advanced Irish Home Rulers. By advanced I mean educated, enlightened. Let me give you an illustration which I heard from a friend in Cork.

"Here is Ireland, a delicate plant requiring untold watching and careful training. Around it on the ground are a number of slugs and snails. Or call them hireling agitators if you like. I sprinkle salt around the roots to kill off the brutes and save my darling plant. That salt is Conservatism. It is furnished by people of property, by men who have interests to guard. Salt is a grand thing, let me tell you! Balfour is the man to sprinkle salt. Home Rule from him would be safe. He is the greatest man that ever governed Ireland, but that must be stale to you. You must have heard that everywhere. He put his foot on rebellion and crushed it out of existence. On the other hand the poor folks of the West coast would lie down and let him walk over them. They hold him in such esteem that they would regard it a favour if he would honour them by wiping his feet on them. He might walk unarmed and unattended through Ireland from end to end with perfect safety. But which of the Nationalist members could do that? Not one. The city scum, the criminal, irreclaimable class, shout 'Hell to Balfour,' but these poor readers of the Freeman's Journal and such-like prints, prepared for their special use and written down to their level, must not be classed with the people of Ireland at all. Every country has its ruffian element, every country has its poisonous press. Ireland is no worse than other countries in these respects."

My Irish Conservative Home Ruler would have gone on indefinitely, furnishing excellent matter, for he improved as he warmed up, but unhappily a priest called on him to make some purchase, and he had to leave me without much notice. "Over the way," he said. "Trip across to the opposite shop, and you'll find another Tory Home Ruler."

As I "tripped" across I thought of the Pills and Ointment man who amassed a colossal fortune by fifty years' advertising of the fact that wonders never will cease. Mr. Overtheway was not quite so Tory as might be supposed, after all. He said:—

"I have no objection to Home Rule, but, although a Catholic, I have the greatest objection to Rome Rule, which is precisely what it means. I object to this great Empire being ruled from Rome. The greatest Empire that the world ever saw to be bossed by a party of priests! Do the English know what they are now submitting to?

"Let me put the thing logically, and controvert me if you can.

"If Mr. Gladstone wished to go to war to-morrow, is he not at the mercy of the Irish Nationalist party? Could he get votes of supply without their aid? In the event of any sudden, or grave emergency, any serious and critical contingency, would they not hold the key of the position, would they not have the power to make or mar the Empire? Surely they would. And are not these men in the hands of the priests? Surely they are. That is a matter of common knowledge, as sure as that water will drown and fire will burn. A pretty position for a sensible man like John Bull to be placed in by a blethering idiot, who can argue with equal volubility on either side, but with more conviction when in the wrong. Bull must have been drunk, and drunk on stupid beer, when he placed his heart strings between the finger and thumb of a quack like that, who, whatever the result, whether we get Home Rule or not, has ruined the country for five-and-twenty years.

"Yes, I am a Home Ruler. But for heaven's sake don't thrust self-government on an unfortunate country that is not ready for it. That country cries for it, you say. The snuffling old air-pump across the Channel says the same thing. Says he: 'Beloved brethren, I greet you. I fall on your neck and kiss your two ears, and give you all you ask. For why, beloved brethren? Why do I this thing. Let us in a spirit of love enquire. Because it is the wish of the country; because it is the aspiration of the people; because I feel a deep-seated, internal affection for your beautiful land, in whose affairs, during my eighty-four years' pilgrimage in this vale of tears, I have, as you know, always shown the strongest, the warmest, the most passionate interest, and on whose lovely shores I have during my seven dozen years spent (altogether) nearly a week. It has been said that I have never been in Ulster, and that, therefore, I am unable to appreciate the situation. An atrocious falsehood. I have spent two hours (nearly) in the northern province, having landed from Sir Somebody's yacht to see the Giant's Causeway. I have studied the Irish question by means of mineral specimens gathered from the four provinces, and I am, therefore, competent to settle the Irish question for ever. Do you know a greater man than myself? I confess I don't. Bless you, my children. You ask for Home Rule. Enough. The fact that you ask proves a Divine right to have what you ask for. You are a people rightly struggling to be free,' says owld Gladstone. 'Hell to my sowl,' says he, 'but that's what ye are,' says he.

"And he starts to murder us by giving what the most ignorant, unthinking, unpatriotic, self-seeking people in the country have asked for, and swears that because they ask they must have.

"As well give a razor to a baby that cried for it.

"Ireland must be treated as an infant.

"An Irish Legislature would lead to untold miseries. We might arrive there some day, but not at a jump. The change is too sudden. We want a little training. We want to grow, and growth is a thing that cannot be forced. It takes time. Give us time for heaven's sake. Give us Home Rule, but also give us time. Give us milk, then fish, then perhaps a chop, and then, as we grow strong, beefsteak and onions. A word in your ear. This is certain truth, you can go Nap on it. Tell the English people that the people are getting sick of agitation, that they want peace and quietness, that they are losing faith in agitators, having before them a considerable stretch of history, which, notwithstanding the scattered population, is filtering down into the minds of the people, with its morals all in big print. The Irish folks are naturally quick-witted. They are simple and confiding, many of them very ignorant, if you will, but they find out their friends in the long run. Look at Balfour. Not a man in the whole world for whom the people have so much affection. Which do you think would get the best welcome to-morrow—Balfour or Morley? Balfour a hundred thousand times. Ah, now; my countrymen know the real article when they see it. Home Rule we want for convenience and for cheapness. We don't want to be compelled to rush to London before we can build a bridge. But rather a million times submit to expense and inconvenience than hand the country over to a set of thieves who'd sell us to-morrow. We're not such fools as ye take us for. Don't we know these heroes? And when we see them and Gladstone and Morley and Humbug Harcourt with his seventeen chins, all rowling together in Abraham's bosom (as ye may say)—Harcourt licking Harrington's boots, when only yesterday Tim was spittin' in his eye—we say to ourselves 'Wait yet awhile, my Boys, wait yet awhile.' But when ye've finished yer slavering and splathering, and when Tim Healy can find time to take his heel off Morley's neck, then, and not before, we'll have something to say to you.

"But you should call on my friend on the right. He is also a Home Ruler—like myself."

Number three had powerfully-developed opinions. He said—"Home Rule on Conservative lines is my ticket. We'll get it on no other. I console myself with that idea. Otherwise it would be a frightful business, and what would become of us, I cannot tell. But I do not believe that even Gladstone would be so insane as to give it us. I cannot believe that the middle class voters of England would stand by and see the corresponding class in this country exterminated. Home Rule as much as you like, if we had the right men. The very poorest peasants are becoming alive to the fact that under present circumstances the thing would never do for them. They want the right men, that is, men of money and character, to come forward. And I declare most solemnly, that I am convinced that the Irish people would fall into line, and see the bill thrown out with perfect quietude. Now the push has come, they really do not want Home Rule, and, what is more, they absolutely dread it, and I firmly believe that a general election at the present moment would send a majority of Unionists to power. The priests are working for life and death. They see that this is their best chance, perhaps their very last opportunity. I am a Catholic; but then I am a Parnellite, a Tory Parnellite. And I have no intention of bartering away my political freedom to my Church, which, in my opinion, should keep clear of politics. The clergy have now advised payment of rent, so that the Government may not be embarrassed at a very critical juncture. And the tenants are paying their rent, although the present period is one of great agricultural depression. Look at this: The Ulster farmers are terribly hard up, are complaining that they cannot pay. This is the Protestant province, where the priests have little scope. But in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, the people are paying the landlord. The word has gone round—pay the landlord, whomever else you don't pay! The oilcake man, the implement man, the shopkeeper, are not getting their dues, but notwithstanding the pinch of the present moment, the landlord (who knows all about it) is paid. And the priests in some cases are actually remitting the clerical dues to enable the small men to pay the rint. Pay the rint, say they, if you pledge your very boots, if you have to go to the gombeen man (money-lender), if you have almost to rob the Church. They want to get possession, they want to get power, they want to get Home Rule; and then they know that, as Scripture says, 'All these things shall be added unto them.' Let them once get the upper hand, and they can very soon recoup themselves.

"The priests are showing England their power, with a view to future good bargains. 'You see what we can do,' say they. Arrange the matter with us. We are the boys. The Reverend Father O'Codling is the man. Have no dealings, except such as are authorised by us, with the red-headed Tim Healy Short. The Clergy have only one idea; that is, of course, the predominance of their Church. Very natural, and, from their point of view, very proper. I find no fault with them, but I say their object hardly commends itself to my undivided admiration, and, being still friendly, we on this subject part company. I wish to let the priests down easy. They are mostly very good men, apart from politics. They are good customers to me, and they pay very promptly. They spend their money in the country, and I'd have no fault to find if they'd lave politics alone. Mind that owld Gladstone doesn't become a Papist all out. 'Twould be better for him, no doubt, and as the whole jing-bang that turned round with him before would no doubt still follow at his heels, we'd get a considerable quantity of converts, if we could say little about the quality. D'ye hear what that owld woman's singing?"

I listened with interest. The minstrelsy of Ireland seems to have drifted into the hands of the most unpoetical people in the green isle. The poor old creature walked very, very slowly along the gutter, ever and anon giving herself a suggestive twitch, which plainly indicated some cutaneous titillation—the South is a grazing country. This was all I heard—

Owld Oireland was Owld Oireland Whin England was a pup. Oireland will be Owld Oireland Whin England's bur-r-sted up!

If my friends are right as to the change of feeling re Home Rule, the dear old lady was hardly up to date. But the great author of "Dirty Little England"—I judge of the author by the internal evidence of sentiment, style, and literary merit—certainly composed the above beautiful stanza in the sure and certain hope that the present bill would become law.

Number Three qualified his remarks on rent, when speaking of the County Clare. "There they embarrass the Government by refusing to pay, and by shooting people in the good old way, just at the most ticklish time." He said, "Clare has always been an exceptional county. Clare returned Daniel O'Connell, by him secured Catholic Emancipation, and from that time has called itself the premier county of Ireland. They are queer, unmanageable divils, are the Clare folks, and we are only divided from them by the Shannon. So the Kerry folks go mad sometimes by contagion. I should advise you to keep away from Clare. You might get a shot-hole put into you. Every visitor is noticed in those lonely regions, and the little country towns only serve to disseminate the arrival of a stranger to the rural districts. Suppose you walk five miles out of Ennis the day after you arrive there, I would wager a pound the first woman that sees you pass her cottage will say, 'That's the Englishman that Maureen O'Hagan said was staying at the Queen's Hotel.' The servants are regular spies, every one of them. I couldn't speak politics in my house because I've a Catholic nurse. Good bye, I hope ye won't get shot."

I thanked him for the interest expressed, but failed to share his nervousness. After having mingled with the Nationalist crowd that followed the Balfour column in the Dublin torchlight procession, after having escaped unhurt from the blazing Nationalists who swarm in the Royal Victoria Hotel, Cork, having walked down the Limerick entrance to the balmy Tipperary, a little shooting, more or less, is unworthy a moment's consideration. Besides which, my perpetual journeying and interviewing and scribbling have made me so thin that Captain Moonlight himself would be bound to miss. However, it is well to be prepared for the worst, so—Pax vobiscum, and away to County Clare.

Tralee (Co. Kerry), April 20th.



No. 12.—ENGLISH IGNORANCE AND IRISH PERVERSITY.

A most enchanting place when you have time to look at it. My flying visit of ten days ago gave the city no chance. Let me redeem this error, so far as possible. There are two, if not three Limericks in one, a shamrock tripartition, a trinity in unity,—English-town, Irish-town, and New Town Perry. New Limerick is a well-built city, which will compare favourably with anything reasonable anywhere. Much of it resembles the architecture of Bedford Square, London. The streets are broad and rectangular, the shops handsome and well furnished. But it is the natural features of the vicinity which "knock" the susceptible Saxon. The Shannon, the classic Shannon, sweeps grandly through the town, winding romantically under the five great bridges, washing the walls of the stupendous Castle erected by King John, the only British sovereign who ever visited Limerick—serpentining through meadows backed by mountains robed in purple haze, reflecting in its broad mirror many a romantic and historic ruin, its banks dotted with salmon-fishers pulling out great fish and knocking them on the head, its promenades abounding with the handsomest women in the world. For the Limerick ladies are said to be the most beautiful in Ireland, and competent English judges—I know nothing of such matters—assure me that the boast is justified. Get to Cruise's Royal Hotel, which for a hundred years has looked over the Shannon, take root in its airy, roomy precincts, pleasant, clean, and sweet, with white-haired servitors like noble earls in disguise to bring your ham and eggs, Limerick ham, mind you, which at this moment fetches 114s. per cwt. in London; and with the awful cliffs of Kilkee within easy distance, where the angry Atlantic Ocean, dashing with gigantic force against the rock-bound coast, sends spray two or three miles inland, the falls of Castleconnel with the salmon-fisheries under your very nose, and the four hours river-steamer to Kilrush, with more Cathedrals, statues, antiquities, curiosities, novelties, quaintnesses than could be described in a three-volume novel—do all those things, and, while on your back in the smoke room, after a hard day's pleasure, you will probably be heard to murmur that in the general Fall some of us dropped easily enough, and that, all things considered, Adam's unhappy collapse was decidedly excusable.

The Limerick folks are said to be the most Catholic people in Ireland. They are more loyal than the Corkers. Why is this? The more Catholic, the more disloyal, is the general experience. Nobody whose opinion is worth anything will deny this, and however much you may wish to dissociate religion from politics, you cannot blink this fact. In dealing with important matters, it is useless to march a hair's-breadth beside the truth. Better go for it baldheaded, calling things by their right names, taking your gruel, and standing by to receive the lash. You are bound to win in the long run. I say the Catholic priests are disloyal to the Queen. Men of the old school, the few who remain, are loyal, ardently loyal. The old-timers were gentlemen. They were sent to Douai or some other Continental theological school, where they rubbed against gentlemen of broad culture, of extensive view, of perfect civilisation. They returned to Ireland with a personal weight, a cultivation, a refinement, which made them the salt of Irish earth. These men are still loyal. The Maynooth men, sons of small farmers, back-street shopkeepers, pawnbrokers, and gombeen men, aided by British gold, these half-bred, half-educated absorbers of eleemosynary ecclesiasticism, are deadly enemies to the Empire. This is Mr. Bull's guerdon for the Maynooth grant. My authority is undeniable. The statement is made on the assurance of eminent Catholics. Two Catholic J.P.'s yesterday concurred in this, and no intelligent Irish Catholic will think otherwise. Surely this consideration should be a factor in arguments against Home Rule.

Then why are the Limerick Catholics loyal? Because the Limerick Bishop is loyal. Bishop O'Dwyer is opposed to Home Rule. Said Mr. James Frost, J.P., of George's Street: "When the Bishop first came here he invited some four hundred Catholics to a banquet at the palace. After dinner he proposed the health of the Queen, and all the company save two or three rose and received the toast with enthusiasm, waving their handkerchiefs and showing an amount of warmth that was most gratifying to me. I need not tell you that an average Home Rule audience would not have accepted the toast at all. This shows you the feeling of the most intelligent Catholics. The people of education and property are loyal. It shows also that they are opposed to Home Rule."

"But if the best Catholics are opposed to Home Rule, why don't they say so publicly?"

"A fair question, which shall have a precise answer. But first, we must go back to Mr. Balfour's great Land Act, and the lowering of the franchise, and observe the effect of these two enactments.

"The people were at one time terribly ill-used. That is all over now, but the memory still rankles. The Irish are great people for tradition. The landlords have for ages been the traditional embodiment of tyranny and religious ascendency. The Irish people have long memories, very long memories. Englishmen would say: 'No matter what happened to my great-grandfather; I am treated well, and that is enough for me.' Irishmen still go harping on the landlord, although he no longer has any power. The terrible history of the former relationship between landlord and tenant is still kept up and remembered, and will be remembered for ages, if not for ever. Presently you will see the bearing of all this on your question—Why do not the best Catholics come forward and speak against Home Rule?

"When the franchise was lowered the rebound from repression was tremendous, like a powerful spring that has been held down, or like an explosive which is the more destructive in proportion as it is more confined. People newly made free go to the opposite extreme. Emancipate a serf and he becomes insolent, he does not know how to use his freedom, and becomes violent. The great majority of the people are smarting from the old land laws, which have left a bitter animosity against English rule, which is popularly denounced as being responsible for them.

"To speak against Home Rule is to associate yourself with the worst aspects of the land question. The bulk of the people are incapable of making a distinction. And while they entertain some respect for a Protestant opponent, they are irreconcilable with Unionist Catholics, just as the English Gladstonians have a far more virulent dislike for the Liberal Unionists than for the rankest Tories. They say to the Protestants, 'We know why you uphold Unionism'—that is, as they believe, landlordism—'for the landlords are English and Protestant; your position is understandable.' But to the Catholic they say, 'You are not only an enemy, but a renegade, a traitor, and a deserter.' And whatever that man's position may be, the people can make things uncomfortable for him."

Another Catholic living near, said: "'How would Home Rule work?' you ask. Most destructively, most ruinously. Under the most favourable circumstances, whether Home Rule passes or not, the country will not recover the shock of the present agitation for many a year; not, I think, in my lifetime. I was over in the North of England last year, and I found that the people there knew nothing of the question, literally nothing. Clever men, intelligent men, men who had the ear of the people, displayed a profundity of ignorance on Irish questions, conjoined with a confidence in discussing them, surpassing belief. They changed their minds on hearing my statements, and on obtaining exact information. I must give them credit for that. I believe the English Gladstonians are only suffering from ignorance. Their leader is certainly not less ignorant than the bleating flock at his heels. They smugly argue from the known to the unknown on entirely false premises. They know that when Englishmen act in this or that way, such and such things will happen. They know what they themselves would do in certain conjunctures, and when they are told by Irishmen that Irishmen under similar conditions would act quite differently, they snort and say 'nonsense.' They are too dense to appreciate the radical difference between the two races. The breeds don't mix and don't understand each other. It was miserable to hear these men—I am sure they were good men—prattling like bib-and-tucker babies about Irish affairs, and speaking of Gladstone as possessing a quality which we Catholics only ascribe to the Pope. Ha! ha! They think that vain old cataract of verbiage to be infallible. He knows nothing of the matter, does not understand the tools he is working with, any one of whom could buy and sell him and simple, clever Morley twenty times over. Both Gladstone and Morley are clever in books, in words, in theories, adepts in debating, smart and adroit in talk. But they know no more of Paddy than the babe unborn. I say nothing of Harcourt and the other understrappers. They'll say anything that suits, whatever it may be. We reckoned them up long since. Cannot the English people see through these nimble twisters and time-servers, this crowd of lay Vicars of Bray?"

Catholic Home Ruler Number Three said, "I agree with all who say that the priests would do their best to secure a dominating influence in political affairs. And although I think we ought to have an Irish Legislature, although I believe it would be good for us, yet if the priestly influence were to become supreme for one moment of time—if you tell me that the Catholic Church is to hold the reins for one second, then I say, away with Home Rule, away with it for ever! Better stay as we are."

This gentleman seems to have about as much logical foresight as some of those he criticises. He dreads priestly domination above everything, and yet would approve of giving the priests a chance of being masters. He continued:—

"The present Irish leaders are the curse of the movement, which, should it succeed, would in their hands bring untold sorrows on the country. As a Catholic Home Ruler, I put up my hands in supplication, and I beg, I implore of the English people to withhold their assent. For God's sake don't give it us at present. We must have it sooner or later, but wait till we have leaders we can trust. Have you met a decent Home Ruler who trusts the present men? No. I knew you would say so. Such a man cannot be found in Ireland. Then why send them to Parliament, say you? That is just what you Englishmen do not understand. That is one of the points old Gladstone is wrecking the country on. You think it unanswerable. Listen to me.

"When the franchise was lowered, then the mistake was made. You let in an immense electorate utterly incapable of discussing any question of State; and, rushing from the extreme of abject servility to a sort of tyrannical mastery, they elected as their representatives, not the most able men, not the most orderly men, not the men of some training and education, not the men who had some stake in the country, but the most violent men, the glibbest men, the most factious, the most contumacious, the most pragmatical men were the men they elected. Look at the Poor-Law Boards. See the set sent there. Those are the men who will be sent to the Dublin Parliament. Are they men to be trusted with the affairs of State? Look up your Burke, and observe the qualifications he thinks necessary to a statesman. Then look at the blacksmith who represents the county Tipperary, the mason who represents Meath, the drapers' assistants and bacon factors' clerks who represent other places. You don't quite see this in England. These men perhaps tell you that they are kings in their own country. Ireland is a long way off, and far-away hills are green.

"Reverse the situation. Let Dublin be the seat of Empire and London wanting Home Rule. You really want it, and think it would be best for both—a convenience for yourself and a saving of time for all. Would you not draw back at the last moment if under the circumstances I have named, your country was to be handed over to fellows whose sole income was derived from their political work, artisans, clerks, and shopkeepers' assistants? What would these men do with their power? Make haste to be rich—nothing more. Patriots are they? Rubbish; they are mere mercenaries. Parnell knew that. He said to me:—

"'Under the circumstances I must use these men, whom I would not otherwise touch with a forty-foot pole. Adversity makes us acquainted with strange bedfellows. Any port is good in a storm. These men will fight well—for their pay, and will work the thing up. But when we get the bill, when we come into power, their work is done. They will be dropped at once, or furnished with places where they may get an honest living.'"

Catholic Home Ruler Number Four said: "The Meath election shows the feeling of the priests, and what they would do if they could. They loathed Parnell, but he was too strong for them. And weren't they glad to give him the slip on the ground of morality. Home Rule was comparatively a safe thing while Parnell lived. Now I would not advise it for some years. We must have better men to the fore. We in Limerick are loyal, although Catholics and Home Rulers. Don't laugh at that. It is a fact, though I admit it is hard to believe. Put it down, if you like, to the influence of the Bishop. The young priests I say nothing about. Their loyalty is a negligeable quantity. They do not object to Protestants qua Protestants, but they object to them as representatives of English rule."

This reminded me of Dr. Kane, of Belfast, who said to me, "They hate us, not because we are Protestants, not because we are Orangemen, not because we are strangers in the land, but because we are the hated English garrison."

Here I am bound to interpolate a word of qualification. The Mardyke promenade of Cork, a mile-long avenue of elms, has many comfortable seats, whereon perpetually do sit the "millingtary" of the sacrilegious Saxon, holding sweet converse with the Milesian counterparts of the Saxon Sarah Ann. The road is full of them, Tommy's yellow-striped legs marching with the neat kirtle of Nora, Sheela, or Maureen. As it was in the Isle of Saints, so it was in Ulster, is now in Limerick, and shall be in Hibernia in saecula saeculorum. A Limerick constable said, "A regiment will come into the city at four o'clock, and at eight they'll every man walk out a girl. The infatuation of the servant-girl class for the military is surprisin'. Only let them walk out with a soldier, and they 'chuck' everything, even Home Rule." The hated garrison are not among the people who never will be missed. Wherever Tommy goes he seems to be able to sample the female population. The soldiers always have a rare good time.

A carman who drove me to Castleconnel proved the most interesting politician since Dennis Mulcahy, of Carrignaheela. He knew all about the average English voter, and resented his superior influence in Irish affairs. "Shure, we're all undher the thumb o' a set o' black men that lives undher the bowils o' the airth. Yer honner must know all about thim miners in the Black Counthry, an' in Wales, an' the Narth o' England? Ye didn't? Ah, now, ye're jokin' me, ye take me for an omadhaun all out. Ye know all about it; ye know that these poor men goes down, an' down, an' down, till ye'd think they'd niver shtop, an' that they stay there a whole week afore they come up agin. An' then they shtand in tubs while their wives an' sweethearts washes an' scrubs thim, an' makes white men out o' the black men that comes up, an' thin walks thim off home. Now, shtandin' in a tub at the mouth o' the pit to be washed by yer wimmenfolks is what we wouldn't do in this counthry—'tisn't black naygurs we are—an' these men that lives in the dark and have no time to think, an' nothin' to think wid, these are the men ye put to rule this counthry, men that they print sich rubbish as Tit-Bits for, because they couldn't understand sinse. An' the man that first found out that they couldn't understand sinse, an' gave thim somethin' that wanted no brains, they say has made a fortune. Is that thrue, now?

"As for owld Gladstone, I wouldn't trust him out o' me sight. We'll get no Home Rule, the owld thrickster doesn't mane it. 'Tis like a man I knew that was axed to lind a friend L100. He didn't like to lind, an' he was afeared to say No, an' he was in a quondairy intirely. So, says he 'I'll lind ye the money,' says he, 'if ye'll bring the securities down to the bank,' says he, 'an' get the cash off me banker.' Thin he went saycretly to the banker, an' says he, 'This thievin' blayguard,' says he, 'wants the money, and he'll never repay me; I wouldn't thrust him,' says he. 'Now, will ye help me, for I couldn't say No, by raison he's a relative, an' an owld acquaintance,' says he.

"'An' how'll I do that?' says the banker.

"'Ye can tur-rn up yer nose at the securities.'

"'Ha, Ha,' says the banker, 'is it there ye are? Ye're a deep one; begorra ye are. Nabocklish,' says he, 'I'll do it for ye,' says he.

"So whin the borrower wint for the money, the banker sent out word that the securities wor not good enough, an' that he wouldn't advance a farden.

"Then the borrower goes to his frind an' complains, an' thin the frind acts all out the way Gladstone'll act when the bill's refused at the Lords, or may be at the Commons. 'Hell to him,' he roars, 'the blayguard thief iv a thievin' banker. I'll tache him to refuse a frind, says he. 'Sarve him right,' says he, 'av I bate his head into a turnip-mash an' poolverise him into Lundy Foot snuff. May be I won't, whin I meet him, thrash him till the blood pours down his heels,' says he. That'll be the way iv it. That's what Gladstone will say whin the bill's lost, which he manes it to be, the conthrivin' owld son o' a schamer.

"A gintleman axed me which o' them I like best o' the two Home Rule Bills, an' I towld him that whin I lived at Ennis, an' drove a car at the station there, the visithors, Americans an' English, would be axin' me whin they lepped on the car which was the best hotel in Ennis. Now, whiniver I gave them my advice they would be cur-rsin' an' sinkin' at me whin they met me aftherwards in the sthreet, be raison that there was only two hotels in the place, an' nayther o' thim was at all aiqual to what they wor used to in their own counthries. So I got to know this, an' iver afther, whin they would be sayin' to me,

"'Which is the best hotel in Ennis?' says they, an' I would answer,

"'Faix, there's only two o' thim, an' to whichiver one ye go ye will be sorrowin' that ye didn't go to the other,' says I.

"An' that's my reply as to which of the two Home Rule Bills I like best."

In the city of Limerick itself all is quiet and orderly. Outside, things are different. Disturbed parts of the County Clare are dangerous to strangers, and, what is more to the point, somewhat difficult of access. The country is not criss-crossed with railways as in England, and vehicles for long journeys are rather hard to get. However, I have chartered a car for a three-day trip into what may be called the interior, have fired several hundred cartridges from a Winchester repeating rifle, and written letters to my dearest friends. I start to-morrow, and if I do not succeed in bottoming the recent outrages—which are hushed up as much as possible, and of which the local newspaper-men, both Nationalist and Conservative, together with Head-Constable MacBrinn, declare they cannot get at the precise particulars—if I cannot get to the root of the matter, I shall in my next letter have the honour of stating the reason why.

Limerick, April 22nd.



No. 13.—THE CURSE OF COUNTY CLARE.

Once again the difference between Ireland and England is forcibly exemplified. It was certain that several moonlighting expeditions had recently been perpetrated in the neighbourhood of Limerick, which is only divided by the Shannon from the County Clare. You walk over a bridge in the centre of the city and you change your county, but nobody in Limerick seems to know anything about the matter. The local papers hush up the outrages when they hear of them, which is seldom or never. The people who know anything will not, dare not tell, and even the police have the utmost difficulty in establishing the bare facts of any given case. English publicity is entirely unknown. Local correspondents do not always exist in country towns, and the distances are so great, in comparison with the facilities for travel, that newspaper-men seldom or never visit the scene of the occurrence. And besides the awkward and remote position of the country hamlets and mountain farms, there are other excellent reasons for journalistic reticence. The people do not wish to read such news, the editors do not wish to print these discreditable records, and the police, although eminently and invariably civil and obliging, are debarred by their official position from disclosing what they know. The very victims themselves are often silent, refusing to give details, and almost always declining to give evidence. That the sufferers usually know and could easily identify the cowardly ruffians who so cruelly maltreat them is a well-ascertained fact. That they usually declare they have no clue to the offenders is equally well known. The difficulty of arresting suspected men is enhanced by the fact that the moonlighters have a complete system of scouts who in this bare and thinly populated district, descry the police when miles away, giving timely warning to the marauders; these, besides, are readily concealed by their neighbours and friends, who in this display an ingenuity and enthusiasm worthy a better cause. Suppose the villains are caught red-handed; even then the difficulties are by no means over. In Ireland a felon once in the hands of the police, by that one circumstance at once and for ever becomes a hero, a martyr, a man to be excused, to be prayed for, to be worshipped. No matter how black his offence, the touch of the constabulary washes him whiter than snow, purifies him from every earthly taint, surrounds him with a halo of sanctity. Those whom he has injured will not bear witness against him, because their temerity might cost them their lives, the loss of their property, the esteem of their fellow-men. What this means we shall shortly see. The cases I have examined will speak for themselves. And let it be remembered that close proximity to the scenes described produces an incomparably stronger effect than any description, however minute, however painstaking. The utter lawlessness of the districts I have visited since penning Monday's letter has produced a profound, an indelible impression. I pass over the means employed to get over the ground, merely stating that horseflesh has borne the brunt of the business. That and pedestrianism are the only means available, with untold patience and perseverance to worm out the true story. People will not show the way, or will direct you wrongly. Their ignorance, that is, their assumed ignorance, is wonderful, incredible. They are all sthrangers in those parts. They never knew a family of that name, never heard of any moonlighting, swear that the amusement is unknown thereabouts, assert that the whole thing is a fabrication of the police. All the people round are decent, honest, hard-working folks, without a fault; pious, virtuous, immaculate. You push on, and your friend runs after you. Stay a moment, something has struck him. Just at the last distressing hour, his brain displayed amazing power. Now he comes to think of it, something was said to have happened over there, at Ballygammon, ten miles in the opposite direction. A stack was fired, and they said it was the Boys. It was the police who burnt the hay, but they deny it "av coorse." He is suspiciously anxious to afford all the information he can. Ballygammon is the spot, and Tim Mugphiller your man. Mention Mike Delany and you will get every information, and—have ye a screw of tobacky these hard times. You pursue your way certain that at last you are on the right track, and Mike's jaw drops to his knees. Too late he sees that his only chance of altering your course was to point out the right one.

Dropping for once scenery and surroundings, let us at once plunge, as Horace advises, in medias res. The district in Mr. Balfour's time was pleasant and peaceable. Curiously enough its troubles commenced with the change of Government. From March 18 to April 18 the police of Newcastlewest received tidings of fifteen outrages. How many have been perpetrated no man living can tell, for people often think it wisest to hold their peace. Ireland is often said to be almost free from crime, except of the agrarian kind, and moonlighting is partly condoned by reason of its alleged cause. How must we class the following case?

On February 19, 1893, four armed men with blackened faces and dressed as women, attacked the dwelling of T. Donoghue, of Boola, not far from Newcastle. They burst open the door and entered, not to revenge any real or fancied wrong, but purely and simply to obtain possession of a sum of L150, which Donoghue's daughter had brought from America. They believed they would have an easy prey, but they were mistaken; there were two or three men in the house, and the heroes decamped instanter, followed, unknown to themselves, by one of Donoghue's family. Having duly run them to earth, he informed the police, who caught them neatly enough, their shoes covered with fresh mud, and with every circumstance of guilt. The Donoghue folks identified them. The case was perfectly clear—that is the expressed opinion of everybody I have met, official and otherwise. It was tried at the Limerick Spring Assizes, and the jury returned a verdict of "Not guilty!" These patriotic jurors had doubtless much respect for their oaths, more for the interests of justice, more still for their own skins. This case is public property, and is only cited to prove that when the difficulty of arrest and the greater difficulty of obtaining evidence are with infinite pains overcome, the jury will not convict, no matter what the crime. Before he commences his career of crime, the moonlight marauder knows the chances of being caught are immensely in his favour, that should luck in this matter be against him, his very victim will decline to identify him, nay, will affirm that he is not the man, and that when the worst comes to the worst, no jury in the counties of Kerry, Clare, or Limerick will convict.

Here are some results of my researches. The particulars of these cases now first appear in print.

A man named James Dore, who keeps a public-house in Bridge Street, Newcastlewest—I can vouch for his beer—also held a small farm of forty-nine acres from the Earl of Devon, for which he paid the modest rent of L11 10s. per annum—the land maintaining sixteen cows and calves, which, on the usual local computation of L10 profit on each cow, would leave a gain of L148 10s.—not a bad investment, as Irish farming goes. So it was considered, and when the tenant-right was announced as for sale by auction, two cousins of Dore, who held farms contiguous, agreed to jointly bid for the tenant-right, and having secured the land, to arrange its partition between themselves. They went to L400, but this was not regarded as enough, and the tenant-right was for a specified time held over for purchase by private agreement. A farmer named William Quirke offered L590, which was accepted, and the money paid. After this, the two cousins came forward and said they would purchase the tenant-right, offering L40 more than Quirke had paid. They were told that they were too late, and the Earl's agent (Mr. Curling) said nothing could now be done. This was on the 13th of the present month of April. On the 14th, Mr. James Cooke, Lord Devon's bailiff, was seen showing the purchaser Quirke over the newly-acquired holding. Poor Quirke little knew what was at that moment hanging over him. He had not long to wait. The dastard demon of moonlight ruffianism was on his track.

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