IRELAND UNDER COERCION
THE DIARY OF AN AMERICAN
WILLIAM HENRY HURLBERT
"Upon the future of Ireland hangs the future of the British Empire." CARDINAL MANNING TO EARL GREY, 1868
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
Although barely a month has elapsed since the publication of these volumes, events of more or less general notoriety have so far confirmed the views taken in them of the actual state and outlook of affairs in Ireland, that I gladly comply with the request of my publisher for a Preface to this Second Edition.
Upon one most important point—the progressive demoralisation of the Irish people by the methods of the so-called political combinations, which are doing the work of the Agrarian and Anti-Social Revolution in Ireland, some passages, from a remarkable sermon delivered in August in the Cathedral of Waterford by the Catholic bishop of that diocese, will be found to echo almost to the letter the statement given to me in June by a strong Protestant Home Ruler, that "the Nationalists are stripping Irishmen as bare of moral sense as the bushmen of South Africa."
Speaking of what he had personally witnessed in one of the lanes of Waterford, the Bishop says, in the report which I have seen of his sermon, "the most barbarous tribes of Africa would justly feel ashamed if they were guilty of what I saw, or approached to the guilt I witnessed, on that occasion." As a faithful shepherd of his people, he is not content with general denunciations of their misconduct, but goes on to analyse the influences which are thus reducing a Christian people to a level below that of the savages whom Cardinal Lavigerie is now organising a great missionary crusade to rescue from their degradation.
He agrees with Archbishop Croke in attributing much of this demoralisation to the excessive and increasing use of strong drink, striking evidences of which came under my own observation at more than one point of my Irish journeys. But I fear Archbishop Croke would scarcely agree with the Bishop of Waterford in his diagnosis of the effects upon the popular character of what has now come to pass current in many parts of Ireland as "patriotism."
The Bishop says, "The women as well as the men were fighting, and when we sought to bring them to order, one man threatened to take up a weapon and drive bishop, priests, and police from the place! On the Quay, I understand, it was one scene of riot and disorder, and what made matters worse was that when the police went to discharge their duty for the protection of the people, the moment they interfered the people turned on them and maltreated them in a shocking way. I understand that some police who were in coloured clothes were picked out for the worst treatment—knocked down and kicked brutally. One police officer, I learn, had his fingers broken. This is a state of things that nothing at all would justify. It is not to be justified or excused on any principle of reason or religion. What is still worse, sympathy was shown for those who had obstructed and attacked the police. The only excuse I could find that was urged for this shameful misconduct was that it was dignified with the name of 'patriotism'! All I can say is, that if rowdyism like this be an indication of the patriotism of the people, as far as I am concerned, I say, better our poor country were for ever in political slavery than attain to liberty by such means."
This is the language of a good Catholic, of a good Irishman, and of a faithful Bishop. Were it more often heard from the lips of the Irish Episcopate the true friends of Ireland might look forward to her future with more hope and confidence than many of the best and ablest of them are now able to feel. As things actually are, not even the Papal Decree has yet sufficed to restrain ecclesiastics, not always of the lowest degree, from encouraging by their words and their conduct "patriotism" of the type commemorated by the late Colonel Prentiss of Louisville, in a story which he used to tell of a tipsy giant in butternut garments, armed with a long rifle, who came upon him in his office on a certain Fourth of July demanding the loan of a dollar on the ground that he felt "so confoundedly patriotic!"
The Colonel judiciously handed the man a dollar, and then asked, "Pray, how do you feel when you feel confoundedly patriotic?"
"I feel," responded the man gravely, "as if I should like to kill somebody or steal something."
It is "patriotism" of this sort which the Papal Decree was issued to expel from within the pale of the Catholic Church. And it is really, in the last analysis of the facts of the case, to the suppression of "patriotism" of this sort that many well-intentioned, but certainly not well-informed, "sympathisers" with what they suppose to be the cause of Ireland, object, in my own country and in Great Britain, when they denounce as "Coercion" the imprisonment of members of Parliament and other rhetorical persons who go about encouraging or compelling ignorant people to support "boycotting" and the "Plan of Campaign."
Yet it would seem to be sufficiently obvious that "patriotism" of this sort, once full-blown and flourishing on the soil of Ireland, must tend to propagate itself far beyond the confines of that island, and to diversify with its blood-red flowers and its explosive fruits the social order of countries in which it has not yet been found necessary for the Head of the Catholic Church to reaffirm the fundamental principles of Law and of Liberty.
Since these volumes were published, too, the Agrarian Revolution in Ireland has been brought into open and defiant collision with the Catholic Church by its leader, Mr. Davitt, the founder of the Land League. In the face of Mr. Davitt's contemptuous and angry repudiation of any binding force in the Papal Decree, it will be difficult even for the Cardinal-Archbishop of Sydney to devise an understanding between the Church and any organisation fashioned or led by him. It may be inferred from Mr. Davitt's contemporaneous and not less angry intimation, that the methods of the Parnellite party are inadequate to the liberation of Ireland from the curse of landlordism, that he is prepared to go further than Mr. George, who still clings in America to the shadowy countenance given him by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Baltimore, and that the Nationalisation of the Land will ere long be urged both in Ireland and in Great Britain by organisations frankly Anti-Catholic as well as Anti-Social.
This is to be desired on many accounts. It will bring the clergy in Ireland face to face with the situation, which will be a good thing both for them and for the people; and it should result in making an end of the pernicious influence upon the popular mind of such extraordinary theological outgivings; for example, as the circular issued in 1881 to the clergy and laity of Meath by the Bishop of that diocese, in which it was laid down that "the land of every country is the common property of the people of that country, because its real owner, the Creator who made it, has transferred it as a voluntary gift to them."
Language of this sort addressed to ignorant multitudes must do harm of course whenever and by whomsoever used. It must tend to evil if addressed by demagogues to the Congress of a Trade Union. But it must do much more harm when uttered with the seeming sanction of the Church by a mitred bishop to congregations already solicited to greed, cunning, and dishonesty, by an unscrupulous and well-organised "agitation."
Not less instructive than Mr. Davitt's outburst from the Church is his almost furious denunciation of the Irish tenants who obeyed an instinct, thought honourable to mankind in most ages and countries, by agreeing together to present to their landlord, Earl Fitzwilliam, a token of their respect and regard on the celebration of his golden wedding day.
These tenants are denounced, not because they were paying homage to a tyrannical or an unworthy landlord, though Mr. Davitt was so transported beyond his ordinary and cooler self with rage at their action that he actually stooped to something like an insinuation of disbelief in the excellence of Lord Fitzwilliam's character. The true and avowed burden of his diatribe was that no landlord could possibly deserve well of his tenants. The better he is as a man, the more they ought to hate him as a landlord.
The ownership of land, in other words, is of itself in the eyes of Mr. Davitt what the ownership of a slave was in the eyes of the earlier Abolitionists—crime so monstrous as to be beyond pardon or endurance. If this be true of Great Britain and Ireland, where no allodial tenure exists, how much more true must it be of New York? And if true of the man who owns a thousand acres, it must be equally true of the man who owns an acre. There could not be a better illustration than Mr. Davitt has given in his attack on the Fitzwilliam tenants of the precise accuracy of what I have had occasion to say in these volumes of the "irrepressible conflict" between his schemes and the establishment of a peasant proprietorship in Ireland. It is more than this. It is a distinct warning served upon the smallest tenants as well as upon the greatest landlords in the United Kingdom that fixity of any form of individual tenure is irreconcilable with the Agrarian agitations.
I anticipated this demonstration, but I did not anticipate that it would come so fully or so soon.
I anticipated also abundant proof from my own side of the water of the accuracy of my impressions as to the drift of the American-Irish towards Protection and Republicanism in American politics. This, too, has come earlier and not less fully than I had expected. Mr. Patrick Ford, the most influential leader of the American-Irish, issued early in August a statement of his views as to the impending Presidential election. "The issue to-day," he says, "is the Tariff. It is the American system versus the British Colonial system. The Irish are instinctively Protectionists." And why? Mr. Ford goes on to explain. "The fact," he observes, "that the Lion and the Unicorn have taken the stump for Cleveland and Thurnan is not calculated to hurt Harrison and Morton in the estimation of the Irish, who will, I promise, give a good account of themselves in the coming Presidential election." Hatred of England, in other words, is an axiom in their Political Economy!
Mr. Davitt's menacing allusion to Parnell as a landlord, and Mr. O'Leary's scornful treatment in a letter to me of the small-fry English Radicals, when taken together, distinctly prefigure an imminent rupture between the Parnellite party and the two wings—Agrarian and Fenian—of the real revolutionary movement in Ireland. It is clear that clerical agitators, high and low, must soon elect between following Mr. George, Dr. M'Glynn, and Mr. Davitt, and obeying fully the Papal Decree.
It is a most curious feature of the situation in Ireland that much more discontent with the actual conditions of life in that country seems to be felt by people who do not than by people who do live in Ireland. It is the Irish in America and Australia, who neither sow nor reap in Ireland, pay no taxes there, and bear no burdens, who find the alien oppression most intolerable. This explains the extreme bitterness with which Mr. Davitt in some recent speeches and letters denounces the tameness of the Irish people, and rather amusingly berates the British allies of his Parnellite associates for their failure to develop any striking and sensational resistance to the administration of law in Ireland. I have printed in this edition an instructive account, furnished to me by Mr. Tener, of some recent evictions on the Clanricarde property in Galway, which shows how hard it is for the most determined "agitators" to keep the Irish tenants up to that high concert pitch of resistance to the law which alone would meet the wishes of the true agrarian leaders; and how comparatively easy it is for a just and resolute man, armed with the power of the law resolutely enforced, to break up an illegal combination even in some of the most disturbed regions of Ireland. While this is encouraging to the friends of law and order in Ireland, it must not be forgotten that it involves also a certain peril for them. The more successfully the law is enforced in Ireland, the greater perhaps is the danger that the British constituencies, upon which, of course, the administrators of the law depend for their authority, may lose sight and sense of the Revolutionary forces at work there. History shows that this has more than once happened in the past. Englishmen and Scotchmen will be better able than I am to judge how far it is unlikely that it should happen again in the future.
As to one matter of great moment—the effect of Lord Ashbourne's Act—a correspondent sends me a statement, which I reproduce here, as it gives a very satisfactory account of the automatic financial machinery upon which that Act must depend for success:—
"Out of L90,630 of instalments due last May, less than L4000 is unpaid at the present moment, on transactions extending over three years with all classes of tenants. The total amount which accrued, due to the Land Commission in respect of instalments since the passing of the Act to the 1st November 1887, was L50,910. Of this there is only now unpaid L731, 17s. 9d. There accrued a further amount to the 1st May 1888 of L39,720, in respect of which only L4071, 16s. 11d. is now unpaid, making in all only L4803, 14s. 8d. unpaid, out of a total sum of L90,630 due up to last gale day, some of which by this time has been paid off."
This would seem to be worth considering in connection with the objection made to any serious extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act by Mr. Chamberlain in his extremely clear and able preface to a programme of "Unionist Policy for Ireland" just issued by the "National Radical Union."
LONDON, 21st Sept. 1888.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
CLUE MAP Frontispiece PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION v PROLOGUE xxi-lxvii
CHAPTER I. London to Dublin, Jan. 20, 1888, 1 Irish Jacobite, 1 Proposed Mass in memory of Charles Edward, 2 Cardinal Manning, 3 President Cleveland's Jubilee Gift to Leo XIII, 4 Arrival at Kingstown, 5 Admirable Mail Service, 5 "Davy," the newsvendor, 6 Mr. Davitt, 7 Coercion in America and Ireland, 8 Montgomery Blair's maxim, 8 Irish cars, 9 Maple's Hotel, 9 Father Burke of Tallaght, 10, 11 Peculiarities of Post-offices, 12, 13 National League Office, 13 The Dublin National Reception, 14 Mr. T.D. Sullivan, M.P., 14 Dublin Castle, 15 Mr. O'Brien, Attorney-General, 16 The Chief-Secretary, Mr. Balfour, 17-24 Fathers M'Fadden and M'Glynn, 18 Come-outers of New England, 18 Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, 19, 20 Sir West Ridgway, 24 Divisional Magistrates, 24 Colonel Turner, 25 The Castle Service, 25-29 Visit of the Prince of Wales, 27 Lord Chief-Justice Morris, 29-37 An Irish Catholic on Mr. Parnell, 31-33 Mr. Justice Murphy, 36 Lord Ashbourne, 37, 38 Unionist meeting, 39 Old Middle State type of American-Irish Protestant, 39 Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in America, 41 Difficulties of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, 43 Dr. Jellett, 43 Dinner at the Attorney-General's, 43-46 Sir Bernard Burke, 46-49 Irish Landlords at Kildare Street Club, 49-52 The people and the procession, 53-55 Ripon and Morley, 54, 55
CHAPTER II. Dublin to Sion, Feb 3, 56 Poor of the city, 57 Strabane, 58-60 Sion flax-mills, 60-62 Dr. Webb, 63-65 Gweedore, Feb 4, 65 A good day's work, 65 Strabane, 66 Names of the people, 66 Bad weather judges, 67 Letterkenny, p 67, 68 Picturesque cottages, 67 Communicative gentleman, 68 Donegal Highlands, 68-70 Glen Veagh, 71 Errigal, 72 Dunlewy and the Clady, 72 Gweedore, Feb 5, 73 Lord George Hill, 74 Gweedore 1838 to 1879, 75-81 Gweedore 1879 to 1888, 81-91 Father M'Fadden, 83-104 A Galway man's opinions, 84-89 Value of tenant-right, 83 Condition of tenantry, 84 Woollen stuffs, 87, 88 Distress in Gweedore, 88, Do. in Connemara, 88 Mr Burke, 90 Plan of Campaign, 93 Emigration, 94, 95 Settlement with Captain Hill, 94 Landlord and tenant, 96-98 Land Nationalisation, 98 Father M'Fadden's plan, 98 Gweedore, Feb 6, 104 On the Bunbeg road, 104-110 Falcarragh, 111-123 Ballyconnell House, 112-123 Townland and Rundale, 118 Use and abuse of tea, 119 Lord Leitrim, 121 A "Queen of France," 121 The Rosses, 123
CHAPTER III. Dungloe, Feb. 7, 124 From Gweedore, 124 Irish "jaunting car," 125 "It will fatten four, feed five, and starve six," 125 Natural wealth of the country, 125 Isle of Arran and Anticosti, p 12 The Gombeen man, 126-130 Dungloe, 126-131 Burtonport, 129 Lough Meela, 128 Attractions of the Donegal coast, 128 Compared with Isles of Shoals and Appledore, 129 Wonderful granite formations, 129 Material for a new industry, 129 Father Walker, 131 Migratory labourers, 133 Granite quarries, 133 Stipends of the Roman Catholic clergy, 134-137 Herring Fisheries, 137 Arranmore, 137 Dungloe woollen work, 138 Baron's Court, Feb 8, 139 Dungloe to Letterkenny, 139-141 Doocharry Red Granite, 140 Fair at Letterkenny, 142 Feb 9, 143 On Clare and Kerry, 143 A Priest's opinion on Moonlighters, 143 The Lixnaw murder, 143 Baron's Court, 144 James I.'s three castles, 145 Ulster Settlement, 146 Descendants of the old Celtic stock, 146 The park at Baron's Court, 146 A nonogenarian O'Kane, 148 Irish "Covenanters," 150 Shenandoah Valley people, 151 The murderers of Munterlony, 151 A relic of 1689, 152 Woollen industry, 152-155 Londonderry Orange symposium, 156 February 11, 157 Sergeant Mahony on Father M'Fadden, 157-163
CHAPTER IV. Abbeyleix, Feb. 12, 164 Newtown-Stewart, 164 An absentee landlord, 164 "The hill of the seven murders," 165 Newry, Dublin, Maple's Hotel, Maryborough, 165 "Hurrah for Gilhooly," 166 Abbeyleix town, chapel, and church, 168 Embroidery and lace work, 169 Wood-carving, 170 General Grant, 171 Kilkenny, 172 Kilkenny Castle, 173 Muniment-room, 174 Table and Expense Books, 176 Dublin once the most noted wine-mart of Britain, 177, 178 Cathedral of St. Canice, 178 The Waterford cloak, 179 The College, 180 Irish and Scotch whisky, 180 Duke of Ormonde's grants, 181 The Plan of Campaign, 182-186 Ulster tenant-right, 186, 187
CHAPTER V. Dublin, Feb. 14, 188 The Irish National Gallery, 188-191 Feb. 15, 192 London: Mr. Davitt, 192 Irish Woollen Company, 193 Mr. Davitt and Mr. Blunt, 193 Mr. Davitt's character and position, 192-199
CHAPTER VI. Ennis, Feb. 18, 200 Return to Ireland, 200 Irish Nationalists, 200, 201 Home Rule and Protection, 202 Luggacurren and Mr. O'Brien, 204 Dublin to Limerick and Ennis, 204, 205 Colonel Turner, 205 Architecture of Ennis Courthouse—Resemblance to White House, Washington, 206 Number of public-houses in Ennis, and in Ireland, 207, 208 Innkeepers of Milltown Malbay, 208,209 Father White (see Note E), 209 Sir Francis Head, 210, 211 Different opinions in Ennis, 212, 213 State of trade in Ennis, 213, 214 Edenvale, Heronry, 215 seq. Feb. 19, 215 The men of Ennis at Edenvale, 216 Killone Abbey, 218-221 Stephen J. Meany, 220 "Holy Well" of St. John, 221 Superstition as to rabbits, 222 Religious practices under Penal Laws, 222 Experiences under National League, 223, 224 Case of George Pilkington, 224-226 Trees at Edenvale, 227 Moonlighters, a reproduction of Whiteboys, 227, 228 Difficulty in getting men to work, 228 A testimonial to Mr. Austen Mackay, 229-232 Effect of testimonials, 232 Feb. 20, 232 The case of Mrs. Connell at Milltown Malbay, 232 seq. Estate accounts and prices, 240 A rent-warner, 245 Mr. Redmond, M.P., 245 Father White's Sermon, 246 A photograph, 246
A. Mr. Gladstone and the American War (Prologue xxix), 249 B. Mr. Parnell and the Dynamiters (Prologue xxxiii), 251 C. The American "Suspects" of 1881 (Prologue xlvii), 255 D. The Parnellites and the English Parties (Prologue l.), 262 E. The "Boycott" at Miltown-Malbay (p. 209) 264
This book is a record of things seen, and of conversations had, during a series of visits to Ireland between January and June 1888.
These visits were made in quest of light, not so much upon the proceedings and the purposes of the Irish "Nationalists,"—with which, on both sides of the Atlantic, I have been tolerably familiar for many years past—as upon the social and economical results in Ireland of the processes of political vivisection to which that country has been so long subjected.
As these results primarily concern Great Britain and British subjects, and as a well-founded and reasonable jealousy exists in Great Britain of American intromission in the affairs of Ireland, it is proper for me to say at the outset, that the condition of Ireland interests me not because I believe, with Cardinal Manning, that upon the future of Ireland hangs the future of the British Empire, but because I know that America is largely responsible for the actual condition of Ireland, and because the future condition of Ireland, and of the British Empire, must gravely influence the future of my own country.
In common with the vast majority of my countrymen, who come with me of what may now not improperly be called the old American stock—by which I mean the three millions of English-speaking dwellers in the New World, who righteously resented, and successfully resisted, a hundred years ago, the attempt—not of the Crown under which the Colonies held their lands, but of the British Parliament in which they were unrepresented—to take their property without their consent, and apply it to purposes not passed upon by them, I have always felt that the claim of the Irish people to a proper control of matters exclusively Irish was essentially just and reasonable. The measure of that proper control is now, as it always has been, a question not for Americans, but for the people of Great Britain and of Ireland. If Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his associates had succeeded in expelling British authority from Ireland, and in founding an Irish Republic, we should probably have recognised that Republic. Yet an American minister at the Court of St. James's saw no impropriety in advising our Government to refuse a refuge in the United States to the defeated Irish exiles of '98.
It is undoubtedly the opinion of every Irish American who possesses any real influence with the people of his own race in my country, that the rights and liberties of Ireland can only be effectually secured by a complete political separation from Great Britain. Nor can the right of Irish American citizens, holding this opinion, to express their sympathy with Irishmen striving in Ireland to bring about such a result, and with Englishmen or Scotchmen contributing to it in Great Britain, be questioned, any more than the right of Polish citizens of the French Republic to express their sympathy with Poles labouring in Poland for the restoration of Polish nationality. It is perhaps even less open to question than the right of Americans not of Irish race, and of Frenchmen not of Polish race, to express such sympathies; and certainly less open to question than the right of Englishmen or Americans to express their sympathy with Cubans bent on sundering the last link which binds Cuba to Spain, or with Greeks bent on overthrowing the authority of the Sultan in Crete.
But for all American citizens of whatever race, the expression of such sympathies ceases to be legitimate when it assumes the shape of action transcending the limits set by local or by international law. It is of the essence of American constitutionalism that one community shall not lay hands upon the domestic affairs of another; and it is an undeniable fact that the sympathy of the great body of the American people with Irish efforts for self-government has been diminished, not increased, since 1848, by the gradual transfer of the head-quarters and machinery of those efforts from Ireland to the United States. The recent refusal of the Mayor of New York, Mr. Hewitt, to allow what is called the "Irish National flag" to be raised over the City Hall of New York is vastly more significant of the true drift of American feeling on this subject than any number of sympathetic resolutions adopted at party conventions or in State legislatures by party managers, bent on harpooning Irish voters. If Ireland had really made herself a "nation," with or without the consent of Great Britain, a refusal to hoist the Irish flag on the occasion of an Irish holiday would be not only churlish but foolish. But thousands of Americans, who might view with equanimity the disruption of the British Empire and the establishment of an Irish republic, regard, not only with disapprobation, but with resentment, the growing disposition of Irish agitators in and out of the British Parliament to thrash out on American soil their schemes for bringing about these results with the help of Irishmen who have assumed the duties by acquiring the rights of American citizenship. It is not in accordance with the American doctrine of "Home Rule" that "Home Rule" of any sort for Ireland should be organised in New York or in Chicago by expatriated Irishmen.
No man had a keener or more accurate sense of this than the most eloquent and illustrious Irishman whose voice was ever heard in America.
In the autumn of 1871 Father Burke of Tallaght and San Clemente, with whom I had formed at Rome in early manhood a friendship which ended only with his life, came to America as the commissioned Visitor of the Dominican Order. His mission there will live for ever in the Catholic annals of the New World. But of one episode of that mission no man living perhaps knows so much as I, and I make no excuse for this allusion to it here, as it illustrates perfectly the limits between the lawful and the unlawful in the agitation of Irish questions upon American soil.
While Father Burke was in New York Mr. Froude came there, having been invited to deliver before a Protestant Literary Association a series of lectures upon the history of Ireland. My personal relations with Mr. Froude, I should say here, and my esteem for his rare abilities, go back to the days of the Nemesis of Faith, and I did not affect to disguise from him the regret with which I learned his errand to the New World. That his lectures would be brilliant, impressive, and interesting, was quite certain; but it was equally certain, I thought, that they would do a world of mischief, by stirring up ancient issues of strife between the Protestant and the Catholic populations of the United States.
That they would be answered angrily, indiscreetly, and in a fashion to aggravate prejudices which ought to be appeased on both sides of the questions involved, was much more than probable. All this accordingly I urged upon Father Burke, begging him to find or make time in the midst of his engrossing duties for a systematic course of lectures in reply. What other men would surely say in heat and with virulence would be said by him, I knew, temperately, loftily, and wisely. Three strenuous objections he made. One was that his work as a Catholic missionary demanded all his thought and all his time; another that he was not historically equipped to deal with so formidable an antagonist; and a third that America ought not to be a battle-ground of Irish contentions. It was upon the last that he dwelt most tenaciously; nor did he give way until he had satisfied himself, after consulting with the highest authorities of his Church, and with two or three of the coolest and most judicious Irish citizens of New York, that I was right in believing that his appearance in the arena as the champion of Ireland, would lift an inevitable controversy high above the atmosphere of unworthy passion, and put it beyond the reach of political mischief-makers.
How nobly he did his work when he had become convinced that he ought to do it, is now matter of history. But it is a hundredfold more needful now than it was in 1871 and 1872, that the spirit in which he did it should be known and published abroad. In the interval between the delivery of two of his replies to Mr. Froude, Mr. Froude went to Boston. A letter from Boston informed me that upon Mr. Froude's arrival there, all the Irish servants of the friend with whom he was to stay had suddenly left the house, refusing to their employer the right to invite under his roof a guest not agreeable to them. I handed this letter, without a word, to Father Burke a few hours before he was to speak in the Academy of Music. He read it with a kind of humorous wrath; and when the evening came, he prefaced his lecture with a few strong and stirring words, in which he castigated with equal sense and severity the misconduct of his country-people, anticipating thus by many a year the spirit in which the supreme authority of his Church has just now dealt with the social plague of "boycotting," whereof the strike of the servant girls at Boston sixteen years ago was a precursory symptom.
Father Burke understood that American citizenship imposes duties where it confers rights. Nobody expects the European emigrant who abjures his foreign allegiance to divest himself of his native sympathies or antipathies. But American law, and the conditions of American liberty, require him to divest himself of the notion that he retains any right actively to interfere in the domestic affairs of the country of his birth. For public and political purposes, the Irishman who becomes an American ceases to be an Irishman. When Mr. Gladstone's Government in 1881 seized and locked up indefinitely, on "suspicion" of what they might be about to do, American citizens of Irish birth, these "suspects" clamoured, and had a right to clamour, for the intervention of the American Government to protect them against being dealt with as if they were Irishmen and British subjects. But by the abjuration of British allegiance which gave them this right to clamour for American protection, they had voluntarily made themselves absolute foreigners to Ireland, with no more legal or moral right to interfere in the affairs of that country than so many Chinamen or Peruvians.
Having said this, I ought, in justice to my fellow-citizens of Irish birth, to say that these elementary truths have too often been obscured for them by the conduct of public bodies in America, and of American public men.
No American public man of reputation, holding an executive office in the Federal Government, has ever thrust himself, it is true, so inexcusably into the domestic affairs of Great Britain and Ireland as did Mr. Gladstone into the domestic affairs of the United States when, speaking at Newcastle in the very crisis of our great civil war, he gave all the weight of his position as a Cabinet Minister to the assertion that Mr. Jefferson Davis had created not only an army and a navy, but a nation, and thereby compelled the Prime Minister of Great Britain to break the effect of this declaration by insisting that another Cabinet Minister, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, should instantly make a speech countering it, and covering the neutrality of the British Government.
Nor has either House of the Congress of the United States ever been guilty of the impertinence of adopting resolutions of sympathy with the Home Rule, or any other movement affecting directly the domestic affairs of the British Empire, though, within my own knowledge, very strong pressure has been more than once put upon the Foreign Affairs Committees of both Houses to bring this about.
But such resolutions have been repeatedly adopted by State Legislatures, and individual members, both of the Federal Senate and of the Federal Lower House, have discredited themselves, and brought such discredit as they could upon the Congress, by effusions of the same sort. The bad citizenship of Irish-American citizens, however, is not the less bad citizenship because they may have been led into it by the recklessness of State Legislatures—which have no responsibility for our foreign relations—or the sycophancy of public men. If it were proved to demonstration that Home Rule would be the salvation of Ireland, no American citizen would have any more right to take an active part in furthering it than to take an active part in dethroning the Czar of all the Russias. The lesson which Washington administered to Citizen Genet, when that meddlesome minister of the French Republic undertook to "boom" the rights of men by issuing letters of marque at Charleston, has governed the foreign relations of the United States ever since, and it is as binding upon every private citizen as upon every public servant of the Republic.
I must ask my readers, therefore, to bear it constantly in mind that all my observations and comments have been made from an American, not from a British or an Irish point of view. How or by whom Ireland shall be governed concerns me only in so far as the government of Ireland may affect the character and the tendencies of the Irish people, and thereby, through the close, intimate, and increasing connection between the Irish people and the people of the United States, may tend to affect the future of my country. This being my point of view, it will be apparent, I think, that I have at least laboured under no temptation to see things otherwise than as they were, or to state things otherwise than as I saw them.
With Arthur Young, who more clearly than any other man of his time saw the end from the beginning of the fatuous and featherheaded French Revolution of 1789, I have always been inclined to think "the application of theory to methods of government a surprising imbecility in the human mind:" and it will be found that in this book I have done little more than set down, as fully and clearly as I could, what I actually saw and heard in Ireland. My method has been as simple as my object. During each day as occasion served, and always at night, I made stenographic notes of whatever had attracted my attention or engaged my interest. As I had no case to make for or against any political party or any theory of government in Ireland, I took things great and small, and people high and low, as they came, putting myself in contact by preference, wherever I could, with those classes of the Irish people of whom we see least in America, and concerning myself, as to my notes, only that they should be made under the vivid immediate impress of whatever they were to record. These notes I have subsequently written out in the spirit in which I made them, in all cases taking what pains I could to verify statements of facts, and in many cases, where it seemed desirable or necessary, submitting the proofs of the pages as finally printed to the persons whom, after myself, they most concerned.
I have been more annoyed by the delay than by the trouble thus entailed upon me; but I shall be satisfied if those who may take the pains to read the book shall as nearly as possible see what I saw, and hear what I heard.
I have no wish to impress my own conclusions upon others who may be better able than I am accurately to interpret the facts from which these conclusions have been drawn. Such as they are, I have put them into a few pages at the end of the book.
It will be found that I have touched only incidentally upon the subject of Home Rule for Ireland. Until it shall be ascertained what "Home Rule for Ireland" means, that subject seems to me to lie quite outside the domain of my inquiries. "Home Rule for Ireland" is not now a plan—nor so much as a proposition. It is merely a polemical phrase, of little importance to persons really interested in the condition of Ireland, however invaluable it may be to the makers of party platforms in my own country, or to Parliamentary candidates on this side of the Atlantic. It may mean anything or nothing, from Mr. Chamberlain's imperialist scheme of four Provincial Councils—which recalls the outlines of a system once established with success in New Zealand—to that absolute and complete separation in all particulars of the government of Ireland from the government of Great Britain, which has unquestionably been the aim of every active Irish organisation in the United States for the last twenty years, and which the accredited leader of the "Home Rule" party in the British Parliament, Mr. Parnell, is understood in America to have pledged himself that he will do anything to further and nothing to impede. On this point, what I took to be conclusive documentary evidence was submitted to me in New York several years ago by Mr. Sheridan, at a time when the fever-heat of British indignation excited by those murders in the Phoenix Park, for which I believe it is now admitted by the best informed authorities that Mr. Sheridan had no responsibility, was driving Mr. Parnell and his Parliamentary associates into disavowals of the extreme men of their connection, which, but for Mr. Sheridan's coolness and consciousness of his well-assured domination over them, might have led to extremely inconvenient consequences to all concerned. But whatever "Home Rule" may or may not mean, I went to Ireland, not to find some achromatic meaning for a prismatic phrase, which is flashed at you fifty times in England or America where you encounter it once in Ireland, but to learn what I could of the social and economical condition of the Irish people as affected by the revolutionary forces which are now at work in that country.
I have watched the development of these forces too long and too closely to be under any illusion as to the real importance relatively with them of the so-called "Parliamentary" action of the Irish Nationalists.
The visits to Ireland, of which this book is a record, were made on my return from a sojourn in Rome during the celebration of the Jubilee of His Holiness Leo XIII. What I then and there learned convinced me that the Vatican was on the eve of grappling in Ireland with issues substantially identical with those which were forced, in my own country, two years ago, upon a most courageous and gifted member of the American Catholic hierarchy, the Archbishop of New York, by the open adhesion of an eminent Irish American ecclesiastic, the Rev. Dr. M'Glynn, to the social revolution of which Mr. Henry George is the best-equipped and most indefatigable apostle. Entertaining this conviction (which events have since shown to have been well-founded), I was anxious to survey on the spot the conditions under which the conflict so vigorously encountered by the Archbishop in New York must be waged by the Vatican in Ireland.
To suppose that the Vatican, in dealing with this conflict, either in Ireland or in America, is troubling itself about the balancing of political acrobats, British or American, upon the tight-rope of "Home Rule," is as absurd as it would have been to suppose that in 1885 the Vatican concerned itself with the subterranean intrigues which there is reason to believe the Irish Nationalists then sought to carry on with the wire-pullers of the two great British political parties. To get a correct perspective of the observations which I came from Rome this year to make in Ireland, my readers, as I have already said, must allow me to take them across the Atlantic, and must put aside as accessory and incidental the forensic and polemic phenomena of Irish politics, with which they are perhaps only too familiar.
It is as easy to go too far back as it is not to go back far enough in the study of such a revolutionary movement as that of which Ireland is just now the arena.
Many and sore are the historical grievances of the Irish people. That they are historical and not actual grievances would seem to be admitted by so sympathetic and minutely well-informed a writer as Dr. Sigerson, when he gives it as his opinion, that after the passage of the Land Act of 1870, "the concession in principle of the demands of the cultivators as tenants" had "abolished the class war waged between landlords and their tenantry."
The class war between the tenantry and their landlords, therefore, which is now undoubtedly waging in Ireland cannot be attributed to the historical grievances of the Irish people. The tradition and the memory of these historical grievances may indeed be used by designing or hysterical traders in agitation to inflame the present war. But the war itself is not the old war, nor can it be explained by recurring to the causes of the old war. It has the characteristics no longer of a defensive war, nor yet of a war of revenge absolutely, but of an aggressive war, and of a war of conquest. In his able work on "The Land Tenure and the Land Classes of Ireland," Dr. Sigerson, writing in 1871, looked forward to the peaceful co-existence in Ireland of two systems of land-holding, "whereby the country might enjoy the advantage of what is good in the 'landlord,' or single middleman system, and in the peasant proprietary or direct system."
What we now see in Ireland, after nearly twenty years of legislation, steadily tending to the triumph of equal rights, is an agitation threatening not only the "co-existence" of these two systems, but the very existence of each of these systems.
To get at the origin and the meaning of this agitation we must be content, I believe, to go no further back than ten years, and to look for them, not in Ireland, but in America, not to Mr. Parnell and Mr. Gladstone primarily, but to Mr. Davitt and Mr. Henry George.
In a very remarkable letter written to Earl Grey in 1868, after the Clerkenwell explosions had brought the disestablishment of the Irish Protestant Church into Mr. Gladstone's scheme of "practical politics," the Archbishop of Westminster, not then a Cardinal, called the attention of Englishmen to the fact, not yet I fear adequately apprehended by them, that "the assimilating power of America upon the Irish people, if seven days slower than that of England in reaching Ireland, is sevenfold more penetrating and powerful upon the whole population." By this the Archbishop meant, what was unquestionably true, that even in 1868, only twenty years after the great Irish exodus to America began, the social and political ideas of America were exerting a seven-fold stronger influence upon the character and the tendencies of the Irish people than the social and political ideas of England. Thanks to the development of the cables and the telegraph since 1868, and to the enormous progress of America since that time in wealth and population, this "assimilating power" reaches Ireland much more rapidly, and exerts upon the Irish people a very much more drastic influence than in 1868. This establishes, of course, a return current westward, which is as necessary to he watched, and is as much neglected by American as the original eastward current is by British public men.
In this letter of 1868 to Earl Grey, the Archbishop of Westminster desiring, as an Englishman, to counteract, if possible, this influence which was drawing Ireland away from the British monarchy, and towards the American Republic, maintained that by two things the "heart of Ireland" might be won, and her affections enlisted with her interests in the support of the unity, solidity, and prosperity of the British Empire. One of these two things was "perfect religious equality between the Catholics and the Protestants of Ireland." The other was that the Imperial Legislature should by statute make it impossible for any landlord in Ireland to commit three wrongs,—"first, the wrong of abusing his rights by arbitrary eviction; secondly, by exacting an exorbitant rent; thirdly, by appropriating to his own use the improvements effected by the industry of his tenants."
Perfect religious equality has since been established between the Catholics and the Protestants of Ireland. The three wrongs which the Archbishop called upon the Imperial Legislature to make impossible to Irish landlords have since been made impossible by Statute.
Yet it is on all hands admitted that the "unity, solidity, and prosperity" of the British Empire have never been so seriously threatened in Ireland as during the last ten years. Was the Archbishop wrong, therefore, in his estimate of the situation in 1868? Or has the centripetal influence of remedial British legislation since 1868 failed to check a centrifugal advance "by leaps and bounds," in the "assimilating power" of America upon Ireland?
Just ten years ago, in 1878, Mr. Michael Davitt and Mr. John Devoy (the latter of whom had been commissioned in 1865 by the Fenian leader Stephens, as "chief organiser of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the British army"), being then together in America, promulgated, Mr. Davitt in a speech at Boston, and Mr. Devoy in a letter sent to the Freeman's Journal in Dublin, the outlines of a scheme for overthrowing British rule in Ireland by revolutionising the ownership of land in that country.
The basis of this scheme had been laid thirty years before, in 1848, by Finton Lalor, John Mitchel, and the present Archbishop of Cashel, then a simple curate.
It was thus stated by Lalor in his paper, the Irish Felon:—
"The entire ownership of Ireland, moral and material, up to the sun and down to the centre of the earth, is vested, as of right, in the people of Ireland. The soil of the country belongs as of right to the entire people of the country, not to any one class, but to the nation."
This was a distinct denial of the right of private property in land. If true of Ireland and the Irish people this proposition was true of all lands and of all peoples. Lalor, though more of a patriot than of a philosopher, saw this plainly; and in one of the three numbers of his paper which appeared before it was suppressed by the British Government, he said "the principle I propose goes to the foundations of Europe, and sooner or later will cause Europe to uprise." Michael Davitt saw this as clearly in 1878 as Finton Lalor thirty years before. He had matured his plans in connection with this principle during the weary but not wasted years of his imprisonment as a Fenian at Dartmoor, a place, the name of which is connected in America with many odious memories of the second war between England and the United States; and going out to America almost immediately after his release on a ticket of leave, he there found the ideas of Finton Lalor and his associates of 1848, ripened and harvested in the mind of an American student of sociology, Henry George. Nowhere in the world has what a shrewd English traveller calls "the illegitimate development of private wealth" attained such proportions in modern times as in America, and especially in California. Nowhere, too, in the world is the ostentatious waste of the results of labour upon the antics of a frivolous plutocracy a more crying peril of our times than in America. Henry George, an American of the Eastern States, who went to the Pacific coast as a lad, had grown up with and watched the progress of this social disease in California; and when Davitt reached America in 1878, Henry George was preparing to publish his revolutionary book on Progress and Poverty, which appeared in 1879. Dates are important from this point, as they will trace for the reader the formation of the strongest forces which, as I believe, are to-day at work to shape the future of Ireland, and, if Cardinal Manning is right, with the future of Ireland, the future of the British Empire.
The year 1878 saw the "Home Rule" movement in Irish politics brought to an almost ludicrous halt by the success of Mr. Parnell, then a young member of Parliament for Meath, in unhorsing the leader of that movement, Mr. Butt. As the Irish members then had no coherent purpose or policy, Mr. Parnell had, without much trouble, dominated and brigaded them to follow him blindly into a system of parliamentary obstruction, which there is reason to suppose was suggested to him by a friend who had studied the Congressional proceedings of the United States, the native country of his mother, and especially the tactics which had enabled Mr. Randall of Pennsylvania, the leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives, to check the so-called "Civil Rights Bill," sent down by the Senate to that House, during a continuous session of forty-six hours and a half, with no fewer than seventy-seven calls of the house, in the month of January 1875, some time before Mr. Parnell first took his seat in the House of Commons.
When Mr. Parnell, early in 1878, thanks to this system, had ousted Mr. Butt, and got himself elected as President of the Irish "Home Rule Confederation," he found himself, as an Irish friend of mine wrote to me at the time, in an awkward position. He had command of the "Home Rule" members at Westminster, but he had no notion what to do with them, and neither they nor he could see anyway open to securing a permanent hold upon the Irish voters. Three bad harvests in succession had thrown the Irish tenants into a state which disinclined them to make sacrifices for any sentimental policy, but prepared them to lend their ears eagerly to Michael Davitt, when, on his return from the United States in the early spring of 1879, he proclaimed anew, at Irishtown in his native county of Mayo, the gospel of 1848 giving the land of Ireland to the people of Ireland. Clearly Mr. Davitt held the winning card. As he frankly put the case to a special correspondent, whom I sent to see him, and whose report I published in New York, he saw that "the only issue upon which Home Rulers, Nationalists, Obstructionists, and each and every shade of opinion existing in Ireland could be united was the Land Question," and of that question he took control. Naturally enough, Mr. Parnell, himself a landowner under the English settlement, shrank at first from committing himself and his fortunes to the leadership of Mr. Davitt. But no choice was really left him, and there is reason to believe that a decision was made easier to him by a then inchoate undertaking that he should be personally protected against the financial consequences to himself of the new departure, by a testimonial fund, such as was in fact raised and presented to him in 1883. In June 1879 he accepted the inevitable, and in a speech at Westport put himself with his parliamentary following and machinery at the service of the founder of the Irish Land League, uttering the keynote of Mr. Davitt's "new departure" in his celebrated appeal to the Irish tenants to "keep a firm grip of their homesteads." In the middle of October 1879, Mr. Davitt formally organised the Irish National Land League, "to reduce rack-rents and facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the land of Ireland by the occupiers," and Mr. Parnell was made its first President. He was sent out to America in that capacity, at the end of the year to explain to the Irish-American leaders the importance of supplying the new organisation with funds sufficient to enable it to take and keep the field at Westminster with a force of paid members not dependent for their support upon the Irish constituencies. It was obviously impossible either to guarantee any considerable number of Irishmen holding property against loss by a policy aimed at the foundations of property, or to count upon finding for every Irish seat a member of local weight and stake, imbued with the spirit of martyrdom.
Mr. Parnell landed at New York on the 1st of January 1880. An interview with him, written out on board of the steamer which took him to America by a correspondent detailed for that purpose, was published on the morning after his arrival. It made on the whole an unfavourable impression in America, which was not improved by an injudicious quarrel into which he drifted with a portion of the American press, and which was distinctly deepened by his inexcusable misrepresentations of the conduct of Queen Victoria during the famine of 1847, and by his foolish attacks upon the management and objects of the Duchess of Marlborough's fund for the relief of Irish distress. The friends of Mr. Davitt in America, however, and the leaders of the most active Irish organisations there, came to the rescue, and as the two American parties were preparing their lines of battle for the Presidential conflict of 1880, Mr. Parnell was not only "put through" the usual course of "receptions" by Mayors and State legislatures, but invited on an "off-day" to address the House of Representatives at Washington. His tour, however, on the whole, harmed more than it helped the new Irish movement on my side of the Atlantic, and when he was called back to take his part in the electoral contest precipitated by Lord Beaconsfield's dissolution of Parliament at Easter 1880, Mr. Davitt went out to America himself to do what his Parliamentary associate had not succeeded in doing. During this visit of Mr. Davitt to the United States, Mr. Henry George finally transferred his residence from San Francisco to New York, and made his arrangements to visit England and Ireland, and bring about a practical combination between the advocates of "the land for the people" on both sides of the ocean. These arrangements he carried out in 1881-82, publishing in 1881, in America, his treatise on the Irish Land question, while Mr. Davitt, who had been arrested after his return to Europe by Mr. Gladstone's Government in February 1881, on a revocation of his ticket-of-leave, lay a prisoner at Portland. Mr. George himself, while travelling in Ireland with an academical English friend, came under "suspicion" in the eyes of one of Mr. Forster's officers, and was arrested, but at once released. During the protracted confinement of Mr. Davitt at Portland, the utter incapacity of Mr. Parnell and his Parliamentary associates to manage the social revolution initiated by the founder of the Land League became fully apparent, not only to impartial, but even to sympathetic observers in America, long before it was demonstrated by the incarceration of Mr. Parnell in Kilmainham, the disavowal, under pressure, of the no-rent manifesto by Archbishop Croke, and the suppression of the Land League. In sequestrating Mr. Davitt, Mr. Forster, as was shown by the extraordinary scenes which in the House of Commons followed his arrest, had struck at the core of the revolution, and had the Irish Secretary not been deserted by Mr. Gladstone, under influences which originated at Kilmainham, and were reinforced by the pressure of the United States Government in the spring of 1882, history might have had a very different tale to tell of the last six years in Ireland and in Great Britain.
It was after the return of Mr. George from Ireland to New York in 1882 that the first black point appeared on the horizon, of the conflict, inevitable in the nature of things, between the social revolution and the Catholic Church, which assumed such serious proportions two years ago in America, and which is now developing itself in Ireland. Among the ablest and the most earnest converts in America to the doctrine of the new social revolution was the Rev. Dr. M'Glynn, a Catholic priest, standing in the front rank of his order in New York, in point alike of eloquence in the pulpit, and of influence in private life. Finding, like Michael Davitt, in the doctrine of Henry George an outcome and a confirmation of the principle laid down in 1848 for the liberation of Ireland by Finton Lalor, Dr. M'Glynn threw himself ardently into the advocacy of that doctrine,—so ardently that in August 1882 the Prefect of the Propaganda, Cardinal Simeoni, found it necessary to invite the attention of Cardinal M'Closkey, then Archbishop of New York, to speeches of Dr. M'Glynn, reported in the Irish World of New York, as "containing propositions openly opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church."
It did not concern the Propaganda that these propositions ran on all-fours with the policy of the Irish Land League established by Mr. Davitt, and accepted by Mr. Parnell. What concerned the Propaganda in the propositions of Dr. M'Glynn at New York in 1882 was precisely what concerns the Propaganda in the programme of Mr. Davitt as mismanaged by Mr. Dillon in Ireland in 1888—the incompatibility of these propositions, and of that programme, with the teachings of the Church.
Upon receiving the instructions of the Propaganda in August 1882, Cardinal M'Closkey sent for Dr. M'Glynn, and set the matter plainly before him. Dr. M'Glynn professed regret for his errors, promised to abstain in future from political meetings, and begged the Cardinal to inform the authorities at Home of his intention to walk more circumspectly. The submission of Dr. M'Glynn was approved at Rome, but it was gently intimated to him that it needed to be crowned by public reparation for the scandal he had caused. He disregarded this pastoral hint, and when the Archbishop Coadjutor of New York, Dr. Corrigan, went to Rome in 1883 to represent the Cardinal, who was unequal to the journey, he found the Propaganda by no means satisfied with the attitude of Dr. M'Glynn. Two years after this, in October 1885, Cardinal M'Closkey died, and Dr. Corrigan succeeded him as Archbishop of New York.
Between the first admonition given to the sacerdotal ally of Mr. George in 1882 and this event much had come to pass in Ireland. The Land League suppressed by Mr. Forster had been suffered to reappear as the National League by Earl Spencer and Mr. Trevelyan. Sir William Harcourt's stringent and sweeping "Coercion Act" of July 11th, 1882, passed under the stress of the murders in the Phoenix Park, expiring by its own terms in July 1885, Mr. Gladstone found himself forced either to alienate a number of his Radical supporters by proposing a renewal of that Act, or to invite a catastrophe in Ireland by attempting to rule that country under "the ordinary law."
He elected to escape from the dilemma by inviting a defeat in Parliament on a secondary question of the Budget. He went out of power on the 9th of June 1885, leaving Lord Salisbury to send the Earl of Carnarvon as Viceroy to Ireland, and the Irish party in Parliament to darken the air on both sides of the Atlantic with portentous intimations of a mysterious compact, under which they were to secure Home Rule for Ireland by establishing the Conservatives in their places at the general election in November.
What came of all this I may briefly rehearse. Going out to America in November 1885, and returning to England in January 1886, I remained in London long enough to assure myself, and to publish in America my conviction of the utter hopelessness of Mr. Gladstone's "Home Rule" measure, the success of which would have made his government the ally and the instrument of Mr. Parnell in carrying out the plans of Mr. Davitt, Mr. Henry George, and the active Irish organisations of the United States. All this is matter of history.
The effect of Mr. Gladstone's speech of April 8, 1886, introducing his Home Rule Bill, upon the Irish in America was simply intoxicating. They saw him, as in a vision, repeating for the benefit of Ireland at Dublin, on a grander scale, the impressive scene of his surrender in 1858 at Corfu of the Protectorate of the Ionian Islands to Greece.
Upon thousands also of Americans, interested more or less intelligently in British affairs, but neither familiar, nor caring to be, with the details of the political situation in Great Britain, this appearance of the British Premier, as the champion of Home Rule for Ireland, denouncing the "baseness and blackguardism" of Pitt and his accomplices, the framers of the Union of 1800, naturally produced a very profound impression. What might be almost called a "tidal wave" of sympathy with the Irish National League, and with him as its ally, made itself felt throughout the United States. Had I witnessed the drama from the far-off auditorium in New York, I might doubtless have shared the conviction of so many of my countrymen that we were about to behold the consummation tunefully anticipated so many years ago by John Quincy Adams, and—
"Proud of herself, victorious over fate, See Erin rise, an independent state."
The moment seemed propitious for a resolute forward move in America of Mr. Henry George, and the other American believers in the doctrine of "the land for the people." It would have been more propitious had not the political managers of the Irish party, misapprehending to the last moment the drift of things in the British Parliament, and counting firmly upon a victory for Mr. Gladstone, either at Westminster or at the polls, insisted upon holding a great convention of the Irish in America at Chicago in August 1886. A proposition to do this had been made in the spring of 1885, and put off, in judicious deference to the disgust which many independent Americans of both parties then felt at the course pursued by Mr. Parnell's friends, Mr. Egan and Mr. Sullivan in 1884, when these leaders openly led the Irish with drums beating and green flags flying out of the Democratic into the Republican camp.
As it was, however, Mr. Gladstone having gone out of power a second time, on the second day of June in 1886, the non-parliamentary and real leader in Ireland of the Irish revolutionary movement, Mr. Davitt, came overtly to the front, and crossed the Atlantic to ride the whirlwind and direct the storm at the Convention appointed to be held in Chicago on the 18th of August.
In New York he found Mr. Henry George quietly preparing to put the emotions of the moment to profit at the municipal election which was to occur in that city in November, and Dr. M'Glynn more enamoured than ever of the doctrine of "the land for the people," and more defiant than ever of the Propaganda and of his ecclesiastical superiors. It was resolved that Mr. George should come forward as a candidate for the mayoralty in November, and Dr. M'Glynn determined to take the field in support of him.
We now come to close quarters.
Dr. Corrigan, as I have said, had become the Archbishop of New York in October 1885. The Irish-American Convention met at Chicago, Mr. Davitt dominating its proceedings by his courageous and outspoken support of his defeated Parliamentary allies in England. The candidacy of Mr. Henry George had not yet been announced in New York. But Dr. M'Glynn resumed his practice of addressing public meetings in support of the doctrines of Mr. Davitt and of Henry George. The Archbishop's duty was plain. It was not pleasant. A Catholic prelate of Irish blood living in New York might have been pardoned for avoiding, if he could, an open intervention at such a moment, to prevent an able and popular priest from disobeying his ecclesiastical superiors in his zeal for a doctrine hostile to "landlordism," and cordially approved by the most influential of the Irish leaders.
But on the 21st August 1886, while all the Irishmen in New York were wild with excitement over the proceedings at Chicago, Archbishop Corrigan did his duty, and admonished Dr. M'Glynn to restrain his political ardour. The admonition was thrown away. A month later, the canvass of Mr. Henry George being then fully opened, Dr. M'Glynn sent Mr. George himself to wait upon the Archbishop with a note of introduction as his "very dear and valued friend," in the hope of inducing the Archbishop to withdraw his inhibition and allow him to speak at a great meeting, then about to be held, of the supporters of Mr. George.
The Archbishop replied in a firm but friendly note, forbidding Dr. M'Glynn "in the most positive manner" to attend the meeting referred to, or "any other political meeting whatever."
Dr. M'Glynn deliberately disobeyed this order, attended the meeting, and threw himself with ever increasing heat into the war against landlordism. On the 2d of October 1886, therefore, he was formally "suspended" from his priestly functions—nor has he ever since been permitted to resume them. Another priest presides over the great church of St. Stephen, of which he was the rector. More than once the door of repentance and return has been opened to him; but, I believe, he is still waging war in his own way, and beyond the precincts of the priesthood, both upon the right of private property in land and upon the Pope.
He is a man of vigorous intellect; and he has defined the issue between himself and the Church in language so terse and clear that I reproduce it here. It defines also the real issue of to-day between the Church speaking through the Papal Decree of April 20, 1888, and the National League of Ireland acting through the "Plan of Campaign."
No heed having been paid by Dr. M'Glynn to several successive intimations summoning him to go to Rome and explain his attitude, he finally, on the 20th of December 1886, wrote a letter in which, with a single skilful turn of his wrist, he took out the core of Henry George's doctrine as to land, which really is the core also of the Irish Plan of Campaign, and thus laid it before the Archbishop of New York:—
"My doctrine about land has been made clear in speeches, in reports of interviews, and in published articles, and I repeat it here. I have taught, and I shall continue to teach in speeches and writings, as long as I live, that land is rightfully the property of the people in common, and that private ownership of land is against natural justice, no matter by what civil or ecclesiastical laws it may be sanctioned; and I would bring about instantly, if I could, such change of laws all over the world as would confiscate private property in land without one penny of compensation to the miscalled owners."
There is no shuffling here. With logical precision Dr. M'Glynn strips Mr. George's doctrine of its technical disguise as a form of taxation, and presents it to the world as a simple Confiscation of Rents. Many acute critics of Progress and Poverty have failed to see that when Mr. George calls upon the State to take over to itself, and to its own uses, the whole annual rental value of the bare land of a country, the land, that is, irrespectively of improvements put upon it by man, he proposes not "a single tax upon land" at all, but an actual confiscation of the rental of the land—which for practical purposes is the land—to the uses of the State, without a levy, and without compensation to "the miscalled owners."
When a tax is levied, the need by the State levying it of a certain sum of money must first be ascertained by competent authority, legislative or executive, as the case may be, and the law-making power must then, according to a prescribed form, enact that to raise such a sum a certain tax shall be levied on designated property or occupations. If the exigencies of the State are held to require it, a tax may be levied upon property of more than its value, as in the case, for example, of the customs duty which was imposed in one of our "tariff revisions" upon plate glass imported into the United States by way of "protecting" a single plate-glass factory then existing in the United States. This was an abominable abuse of a constitutional power, but it was not "confiscation." What Henry George proposes is confiscation, as Dr. M'Glynn plainly sees and courageously says. What he proposes is that the State shall compel the annual rental value of all land to be paid into the public treasury, without regard to the question whether the State does or does not need such a sum of money. That is confiscation pure and simple, the State, in the assumed interest of the State, proceeding against the private owners of land, or the "miscalled owners," to use Dr. M'Glynn's significant phrase, precisely as under the feudal system the State proceeded against the private property of rebels and traitors. No good reason can be shown why the process should not be applied to personalty and to debts as well as to land.
This was the doctrine indorsed at the polls in New York in November 1886 by 68,000 voters. Nor can there be much doubt that it would have been indorsed by the few thousand more votes needed to defeat Mr. Hewitt, the actual Mayor of New York, and to put Mr. Henry George into the Chief Magistracy of the first city of the New World, had not its teachers and preachers been confronted by the quiet, cool, and determined prelate who met it as plainly as it was put. "Your letter," said the Archbishop, "has brought the painful intelligence that you decline to go to Rome, and that you have taught, and will continue to teach, the injustice of private ownership of land, no matter by what laws of Church or State it may be sanctioned. In view of such declarations, to permit you to exercise the holy ministry would be manifestly wrong."
In these few words of the Archbishop of New York, we have plainly affirmed in 1886 the principle underlying the Papal Decree of 1888 against the Plan of Campaign and Boycotting in Ireland. There is no question of parties or of politics in the one case or in the other. When Dr. M'Glynn talked about the private ownership of land in New York as "against natural justice," he flung himself not only against the Eighth Commandment and the teachings of the Catholic Church, touching the rights of property, but against the constitutions of the State of New York and of the United States. That "private property shall not be taken for public uses without just compensation" is a fundamental provision of the Constitution of the United States, which is itself a part of the Constitution of every State of the Union; and the right of private ownership in land is defined and protected beyond doubt or cavil in New York under the State Constitution. An Act passed in 1830 provides and declares that all lands within the State "are allodial, so that, subject only to the liability to escheat, the entire and absolute property is vested in the owners according to the nature of their respective estates."
By this Act "all feudal tenures of every description, with all their incidents," were "abolished." Most of the "feudal incidents" of the socage tenure had been previously abolished by an Act passed in 1787, under the first Constitution of the State, adopted at Kingston in 1777, a year after the Declaration of American Independence; and socage tenure by fixed and determinate service, not military or variable by the lord at his will, had been adopted long before by an Act of the first Assembly of the Province of New York held in 1691 under the first Royal Governor, after the reconquest of the province from Holland, and in the reign of William and Mary. This Act provided that all lands should "be held in free and common socage according to the tenure of East Greenwich in England." It is an interesting circumstance that the right of private ownership in land, thus rooted in our history, should have been defended against a threatening revolutionary movement in New York by the courage and loyalty to the Constitution of his country as well as to his Church of a Catholic Archbishop. For this same Assembly of the Province of New York in 1693, in an Act "to maintain Protestant ministers and churches," enacted that "every Jesuit and popish priest" found in the Province after a certain day named, should be put into "perpetual imprisonment," with the proviso that if he escaped and was retaken he should suffer death. And even in the Constitution of 1777 the Protestantism of New York expressed its hostility to the Catholic Church by exacting subjection "in all matters ecclesiastical as well as civil."
The position of the Archbishop, both as a churchman and as a citizen, was impregnable. When Dr. M'Glynn advocated the plan of Henry George, he advocated at one and the same time the immoral seizure and confiscation of the whole income of many persons within the protection of the Constitution of New York, and the overthrow of the Constitution of that State and of the United States. It may be within the competency of the British Parliament to enact such a confiscation of rent without a revolution, there being not only no allodial tenure of land in Great Britain, but, it would appear, no limit to the power of a British Parliament over the lives, liberties, and property of British subjects, but the will of its members. But it is not within the competency of the Congress of the United States, or of the Assembly of New York, to do such a thing, the powers of these bodies being controlled and denned by written Constitutions, which can only be altered or amended in a prescribed manner and through prescribed and elaborate forms.
By the middle of October 1886 it became clear that Mr. George, whose candidacy had at first been regarded with indifference by the party managers, both Democratic and Republican, in New York, would command a vote certainly larger than that of one of these parties, and possibly larger than that of either of them. To put him at the head of a poll of three parties would elect him. This was so apparent that he and his friends, including Dr. M'Glynn and Mr. Davitt, were warranted in expecting a victory.
It was hardly therefore by a mere coincidence that this precise time was selected for opening the war in Ireland against Rent. It is quite possible that if Mr. Dillon and his Parliamentary friends had been in less of a hurry to open this war before the return of Mr. Davitt from America, it might have been opened in a manner less "politically stupid," if not less "morally wrong." But, of course, if Mr. Henry George had been elected Mayor of New York, as he came so near to being in November 1886, and Mr. Davitt had returned to Ireland with the prestige of contributing to place him in the municipal chair of the most important city in the New World, Mr. Dillon and his Parliamentary friends would probably have found it necessary to accept a much less conspicuous part in the conduct of the campaign.
It was on the 17th of October 1886 that Mr. John Dillon, M.P., first promulgated the "Plan of Campaign" at Portumna, in a speech which was promptly flashed under the Atlantic to New York, there to feed the flame, already fanned by the eloquence of Dr. M'Glynn, into a blaze of enthusiasm for the apostle of the New Gospel of Confiscation.
Had the "Plan of Campaign" then been met by the highest local authority of the Catholic Church in Ireland, as Henry George's doctrine of Confiscation was met in New York by Archbishop Corrigan, it might never have been necessary to issue the Papal Decree of April 1888. But while the Bishop of Limerick unhesitatingly denounced the "Plan of Campaign" as "politically stupid and morally wrong," the Archbishop of Dublin bestowed upon it what may be called a left-handed benediction. Admitting that it empowered one of the parties to a contract to "fix the terms on which that contract should continue in force," the Archbishop actually condoned the claim of this immoral power by the tenant, on the ground that the same immoral power had been theretofore exercised by the landlord! Peter having robbed Paul from January to July, that is, Paul should be encouraged by his spiritual guides to rob Peter from July to January!
That the Catholic Church should even seem for a time to speak with two voices on such a point as the moral quality of political machinery, or that speaking with one voice upon such a point in America, it should even seem to speak with another voice in Ireland, would clearly be a disaster to the Church and to civilisation. From the moment therefore, in 1886, when the issue between Dr. M'Glynn and the Archbishop of New York was defined, as I have shown, and the Irish National League, with a quasi-indorsement from the Archbishop of Dublin, had arrayed itself practically and openly on the side of Dr. M'Glynn and against the Archbishop of New York, interests far transcending those of any political party in Ireland, in Great Britain, or in the United States, were involved. Unfortunately for the immediate and decisive settlement by Rome of the issue between Dr. M'Glynn and the Archbishop of New York, a certain vague but therefore more vexatious measure of countenance had been given, before that issue was raised, to the theories of Mr. Henry George by another American prelate, the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore, and by more than one eminent ecclesiastic in Europe. Of course this would have been impossible had these ecclesiastics penetrated, like Dr. M'Glynn, to the heart of Mr. George's contention, or discerned with the acumen of the Archbishop of New York the fundamental difference between any imaginable exercise of the power of taxation by a Constitutional Government, and Mr. George's doctrine of the Confiscation of Rent. But this having occurred, it was inevitable that Rome, which has to deal with a world-wide and complex system of the most varied and delicate human affairs, should proceed in the matter with infinite patience and care. In January 1887 the Propaganda accordingly cabled thus to the Archbishop of New York,—Dr. M'Glynn persisting in his refusal to go to Rome—"for prudential reasons Propaganda has heretofore postponed action in the case of Dr. M'Glynn. The Sovereign Pontiff has now taken the matter into his own hands."
In the hands of his Holiness the matter was safe; and in the Papal Decree of April 20, 1888, we have at once the most conclusive vindication of the wisdom and courage shown by the Archbishop of New York in 1886, and the most emphatic condemnation of the attitude assumed in 1886 by the Archbishop of Dublin.
It must not be assumed that Mr. George has been finally defeated in America. On the contrary, he was never more active. A legacy left to him by an Irish-American for the propagation of his doctrines has just been declared by the Vice-Chancellor of New Jersey, to be invalid on the ground that George's doctrines are "in opposition to the laws"; and this decision has bred an uproar in the press which is reviving popular attention all over the country to the doctrines and to their author. He is astute, persevering, as much in earnest as Mr. Davitt, and as familiar with the weak points in the political machinery of the United States as is Mr. Davitt with the weak points in the political machinery of Great Britain. This is a Presidential year. The election of 1888 will be decided, as was the election of 1884, in New York. The Democratic party go into the contest with a New York candidate, President Cleveland, who was presented to the Convention at St. Louis for nomination, not by an Irishman from New York, but by an Irishman from the hopelessly Republican State of Pennsylvania, and whose renomination, distasteful to the Democratic Governor of the State, was also openly opposed by the Democratic Mayor of the city of New York, Mr. Hewitt, Mr. George's successful competitor in the Municipal election of 1886. Leaving Dr. M'Glynn to uphold the Confiscation of Land against the Pope in New York, as Mr. Davitt, Mr. Dillon, and a certain number of Irish priests uphold the Plan of Campaign and Boycotting against the Pope in Ireland, Mr. George supports President Cleveland, and in so doing cleverly makes a flank movement towards his "exclusive taxation of land," by promoting, under the cover of "Revenue Reform," an attack on the indirect taxation from which the Federal Revenues are now mainly derived. Meanwhile the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore, who is also a political supporter of President Cleveland, has not yet been confronted by the supreme authority at Rome with such a final sentence upon the true nature of Mr. George's "exclusive taxation of land," as the clear-sighted Archbishop of New York is said to be seeking to obtain from the Holy Office. What the end will be I have little doubt. But for the moment, it will be seen, the situation in America is only less confused and troublesome than the situation in Ireland. It is confused and troubled too, as I have tried in this prologue to show, by forces identical in character with those which confuse and trouble the situation in Ireland.
Of the social conditions amid and against which those forces are working in America, I believe myself to have some knowledge.
To get an actual touch and living sense of the social conditions amid and against which they are working in Ireland was my object, I repeat, in making the visits, of which this book is a record. More than this I could not hope, in the time at my disposal, to do. With very much less than this, it appears to me, many persons, whose views of Irish affairs I had been inclined, before making these visits, to regard with respect, must have found it possible to rest content.
DUBLIN, Monday, Jan. 30, 1888.—I left London last night. The train was full of people going to attend levees and drawing-rooms about to be held at Dublin Castle.
Near Watford we lost half an hour by the breaking of a connecting-rod: but the London and North-Western is a model railway, and we ran alongside the pier at Holyhead exactly "on time." There is no such railway travelling in America, excepting on the Pennsylvania Central; and the North-Western sleeping-carriages, if less monumental and elaborate than ours, are better ventilated, and certainly not less comfortable.
I had expected to come upon unusual things and people in Ireland, but I had not expected to travel thither in company with an Irish Jacobite. Two of my fellow-passengers, chatting as they smoked their cigarettes in the little vestibule between the cabins of the carriage, had much to say about Lord Ashburnham, and the "Order of the White Rose," and the Grand Mass to be celebrated to-morrow morning at the Church of the Carmelites in London, in memory of Charles Edward Stuart, who died at Rome in 1788, and now lies buried as Charles III., King of Great Britain and Ireland, in the vaults of the Vatican, together with his father "James III.," and his brother "Henry IX." One of the two was as hot and earnest about the "Divine Right of Kings" as the parson who, less than forty years ago, preached a sermon to prove that the great cholera visitation of 1849 was a direct chastisement of the impiety of the Royal Mint in dropping the letters D.G. from the first florins of Queen Victoria issued in that year. He bewailed his sad fate in being called over to Ireland by family affairs at such a moment, and evidently did not know that the Mass in question had been countermanded by the Cardinal Archbishop.
The incident, odd enough in itself, interested me the more that yesterday, as it happens, the Cardinal had spoken with me of this curious affair.
He heard of it for the first time on Saturday, and, sending at once for the priest in charge of the Carmelite Church, forbade the celebration. Later on in the evening, two strangers came to the Archbishop's house, and in great agitation besought him to allow the arrangements for the Mass to go on. He declined to do this, and sent them away impaled on a dilemma. "What you propose," said the Cardinal, "is either a piece of theatrical tomfoolery, in which case it is unfit to be performed in a church, or it is flat treason, in which case you should be sent to the Tower!"
They went away, like the Senatus of Augsburg from the presence of Napoleon—"tres mortifies et peu contents." After they had gone, the Cardinal remembered that for some time past queer documents had reached him through the post-office, setting forth the doctrine of Divine Right, and the story of the Stuarts. One of these, which with the rest he had thrown into the fire, was an elaborate genealogical chart, designed to show that the crowns of Great Britain and Ireland ought rightfully to be worn by a certain princess in Bavaria!