* * * * *
- Transcriber's Note: The original book for this e-text is full of inconsistent hyphenation, punctuation and capitalization, which has been preserved. This e-text contains Irish dialect, with unusual spelling. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. -
* * * * *
IRELAND AS IT IS AND AS IT WOULD BE UNDER HOME RULE.
SIXTY-TWO LETTERS WRITTEN BY THE SPECIAL COMMISSIONER OF THE BIRMINGHAM DAILY GAZETTE, BETWEEN MARCH AND AUGUST, 1893.
With Map of Ireland showing the places visited.
BIRMINGHAM: BIRMINGHAM DAILY GAZETTE COMPANY, LIMITED, HIGH STREET.
LONDON: 47, FLEET STREET, E.C.
PRINTED BY THE BIRMINGHAM GAZETTE CO., LTD., 52 AND 53, HIGH STREET, BIRMINGHAM.
SPECIAL COMMISSIONER'S PREFACE.
Irish Loyalists will not soon forget the early part of 1893. Arriving in Dublin in March, it at once became evident that the industrial community regarded Home Rule, not with the academical indifference attributed to the bulk of the English electorate, but with absolute dismay; not as a possibility which might be pleasantly discussed between friends, but as a wholly unnecessary measure, darkly iniquitous, threatening the total destruction of all they held dear. English lukewarmness was hotly resented, but the certainty that England must herself receive a dangerous if not a mortal wound, was scant comfort to men who felt themselves on the eve of a hopeless struggle for political, nay, even for material existence. This was before the vast demonstrations of Belfast and Dublin, before the memorable function in the Albert Hall, London, before the hundreds of speakers sent forth by the Irish Unionist Alliance had visited England, spreading the light of accurate knowledge, returning to Ireland with tidings of comfort and joy. The change in public feeling was instant and remarkable. Although from day to day the passage of the Bill through the Commons became more and more a certainty, the Irish Unionists completely discarded their fears, resuming their normal condition of trust and confidence. Mr. H.L. Barnardo, J.P., of Dublin, aptly expressed the universal feeling when he said:—
"We have been to England, and we know three things,—that the Bill will pass the Commons, that the Lords will throw it out, and that the English people don't care if they do."
This accounted for the renewed serenity of the well-doing classes, whose air and attitude were those of men thankful for having narrowly escaped a great danger. The rebound was easily observable in cities like Dublin and Belfast, where also was abundantly evident the placid resignation of the Separatist forces, whose discontent with the actual Bill and profound distrust of its framer, superadded to an ever-increasing qualmishness inevitably arising from acquaintance with the prospective statesmen of an Irish Legislature, caused them to look forward to the action of the Lords with ill-disguised complacency. In regions more remote the scattered Loyalists lacked the consolation arising from numbers and propinquity to England, and accordingly their tremors continued, and, in a smaller degree, continue still. To them the Bill is a matter of life and death; and while their industry is crippled, their mental peace is destroyed by the ever-present torture of suspense.
As to the merits of the case for Home Rule, I would earnestly ask fair-minded opponents to remember that during my wanderings I met with numbers of intelligent and honourable men, both Scots and English, who having come to Ireland as earnest, nay, even by their own confession, as bigoted Gladstonians, had changed their opinions on personal acquaintance with the facts, and strove with all the energy of conscientious men who had unwittingly led others astray, to repair, so far as in them lay, the results of their former political action. And it should be especially noted that of all those I so met who had arrived in Ireland as Home Rulers, not one retained his original faith. A very slight process of inductive reasoning will develop the suggestiveness of this incontestible fact.
Readers will hardly require to be reminded that the letters were written, not in studious retirement with ample time at command, but for a Daily Paper, at the rate of nearly eight newspaper columns a week, in the intervals of travel and inquiry, often under grave difficulties and with one eye on the inexorable clock. The precepts of the Master were of necessity ignored:—
Saepe stylum vertas, iterum quae digna legi sint Scripturus; neque, te ut miretur turba labores Contentus paucis lectoribus.
But before committing them to paper, the facts were sifted with scrupulous care, and where personal investigation was impracticable, nothing was adduced except upon evidence of weight and authority sufficient to prove anything. And as during a six months' hue and cry of the Nationalist press of Ireland, aided and abetted by some English prints, no single statement was in any degree shaken, the letters have re-appeared precisely as at first.
R.J.B., Special Commissioner of the Birmingham Daily Gazette.
The Birmingham Daily Gazette of August 18, 1893, thus summed up the labours of its Special Commissioner:—We publish to-day the last of our Special Commissioner's letters on "Ireland As It Is." His task has been an arduous one, and not without a strong element of personal danger. That he has been kept under the close observation of the Irish police; that they have frequently given him timely warning of personal danger; that he has dared to go to places in County Clare when the police warned him to refrain, and his native car-driver refused to venture, are facts which he has modestly abstained from bringing into the prominence they deserved. We must necessarily speak of the merits of his labour with a certain measure of reserve, but the many letters which lie before us are at least a gratifying proof that his work has been appreciated, and that it has cast new lights upon the Irish problem. To the simple direction, "State nothing that you cannot stand by," he has been faithful even beyond our most sanguine hopes. A stranger in a strange land seeking information wherever it can be found, and compelled on many occasions to accept the statements made to him, may easily be led into error. It is to the credit of our Commissioner that he has withheld some of the most sensational stories retailed to him, because he had not an opportunity of verifying them in detail. The notorious Father Humphreys, of Tipperary, will not soon forget his experience of giving the lie to the Gazette; neither will those who organised an "indignation" meeting at Tuam be likely to congratulate themselves upon having stung our Commissioner into retaliation. It may be recalled as an illustration of the desperate efforts made to discredit him that after he had attended a Nationalist meeting at Dundalk he was denounced as a "liar" and a "pimp" because he had stated that he was invited to address the score of persons who had "met in their thousands" to shake the foundations of the British Empire. His assailants fiercely declared that he was not invited to speak; he was only informed that he might address the meeting if he desired to do so!
Our Commissioner has travelled about four thousand miles since he started last March. He has taken no lop-sided view of Ireland. The prosperous North has been contrasted with the stagnant South, and the causes of their difference have been explained. The splendid work of industrial development inaugurated in the poverty-stricken West by that greatest of all Irish Secretaries, Mr. Balfour, has been compared with the mischievous encouragements of idleness, the lavish professions of sentimental sympathy, and the dogged refusals of substantial help since the present Government took office. Above all, our Commissioner has provided conclusive evidence that Irish Nationalism is a mere delusive sham—a paltry euphemism for the predatory passion which a succession of professional agitators have aroused in the hearts of the people. If the Land Question could be settled, there would be an end of the clamour for independence and of the insensate shrieking against British rule. With a definite stake in the country the peasantry upon whom the Nationalist agitation mainly relies would cease to place their faith in the impecunious and blatant scoundrelism which fattens upon the discord and misery which it provokes in the name of Patriotism. Our Commissioner believes that the priests, who have an even stronger hold upon the people than the politicians, would find their power weakened if it were possible to greatly extend the system of peasant proprietary which it was the purpose of the Land Purchase of 1891 to foster. Land hunger lies at the root of Irish disaffection, and the Romish hierarchy have found in the deep-rooted prejudices and the ignorant superstitions of the people a foundation upon which they have reared an appalling superstructure of social and spiritual tyranny. Politicians have taught the peasantry to believe that they have been robbed of the land which is their only means of subsistence in a country that is destitute of mineral wealth, that lacks capital, and is overshadowed by the enormous commercial energy of Great Britain. The priests have adopted the theses of politicians, and have brought the terrors of their sacred calling into play in order to make themselves the masters of the people.
Home Rule would be the signal for a ghastly civil war, ruinous to Ireland, and fatal to that spirit of religious toleration by which the Roman Catholics and the Protestants have obtained equal rights of citizenship under the rule of the Queen and the Imperial Parliament. The cultured Roman Catholics of England and Ireland look with pain and regret at the insensate bigotry and domineering intolerance which made the exposures in County Meath possible. They see in these wild claims of absolutism in the domain of temporal as well as spiritual affairs, a grave danger to all pure religion. They perceive that the revival of the old sectarian passions in Ireland cannot fail to react on Great Britain, and even if the Keltic priesthood triumphed over the Ulster Protestants their victory would be a fatal one to all who hold by the Roman Catholic faith in England. Home Rule would bring misery and disaster in its train, and even the Parnellite section of the Irish people, who have shaken off clerical domination, tremble at the prospect of it while nine-tenths of their co-religionists are destitute of personal freedom. We must find the solution of Ireland's disaffection in another way, and mainly by a bold handling of the agrarian question, which lies at the root of all. The task before the Unionist party is not a light one. They must crush the Nationalist conspiracy, and uproot the fantastic hopes which unscrupulous men have implanted in the minds of an ignorant and credulous people. They must extend the noble system of practical aid to Ireland so successfully inaugurated by Mr. Balfour in his light railway, fishery, and agricultural development schemes. And they must mitigate the friction between owners and occupiers of the soil by making it easy and profitable for tenants and landlords alike to avail themselves of British credit in terminating a relationship which has been fraught with occasions of bitter hostility and mistrust. Under such a policy we can see bright prospects of a happy future for the sister island, but under the policy of Home Rule we see only the lowering clouds of civil war and the dark shadows of reawakened religious animosity.
No. 1.—The Spirit of the Capital Dublin, March 28th 1
No. 2.—Panic and Disaster Dublin, March 30th 7
No. 3.—Ulster's Preparations for War Belfast, April 1st 13
No. 4.—Mr. Balfour's Welcome Belfast, April 4th 20
No. 5.—Has Mr. Morley Lied? Ballymena, April 6th 27
No. 6.—The Exodus of Industry Dublin, April 8th 34 Mr. Balfour in Dublin Dublin, April 8th 40
No. 7.—Bad for England, Ruinous to Ireland Limerick, April 11th 43
No. 8.—Terrorism at Tipperary Tipperary, April 12th 48
No. 9.—Tyranny and Terrorism Oolagh, Co. Tipperary, April 15th 54
No. 10.—Defying the Land League Cork, April 20th 61
No. 11.—The Cry for Peace and Quietness Tralee, Co. Kerry, April 20th 67
No. 12.—English Ignorance and Irish Perversity Limerick, April 22nd 75
No. 13.—The Curse Of County Clare Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, April 24th 81
No. 14.—Lawlessness and Laziness Killaloe, Co. Clare, April 27th 89
No. 15.—The Peril to English Trade Ennis, Co. Clare, April 29th 96
No. 16.—Civil War in County Clare Bodyke, Co. Clare, May 2nd 102
No. 17.—Rent at the Root of Nationalism Bodyke, Co. Clare, May 2nd 109
No. 18.—Hard Facts for English Readers Gort, Co. Galway, May 6th 116
No. 19.—Indolence and Improvidence Athenry, Co. Galway, May 6th 123
No. 20.—Religion at the Bottom of the Irish Question Tuam, Co. Galway, May 9th 128
No. 21.—Mr. Balfour's Fisheries Galway Town, May 13th 135
No. 22.—The Land League's Reign at Loughrea Loughrea, May 16th 142
No. 23.—The Reign of Indolence Salthill, May 18th 149
No. 24.—The Aran Islands Galway, May 20th 156
No. 25.—The Priests and Outrage Moycullen, Connemara, May 23rd 163
No. 26.—The Connemara Railway Oughterard, Connemara, May 23rd 169
No. 27.—Cultivating Irish Industry Athenry, May 27th 177
No. 28.—Could we Reconquer Ireland? Barna, Co. Galway, May 30th 184
No. 29.—What Rack-Rent Means Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, June 1st 190
No. 30.—The "Union of Hearts" Athlone, June 3rd 197
No. 31.—The "Union of Hearts" Westport, June 6th 203
No. 32.—Home Rule and Irish Immigration Castlebar, June 8th 209
No. 33.—Tuam's Indignation Meeting Ballina, June 10th 217
No. 34.—Why Ireland does not Prosper Oughewall, June 10th 223
No. 35.—In a Congested District Newport, Co. Mayo, June 15th 230
No. 36.—Irish Improvidence the Stumbling Block Mulranney, Co. Mayo, June 17th 237
No. 37.—On Achil Island Achil Sound, June 20th 244
No. 38.—The Achil Islanders Dugort, Achil Island, June 22nd 251
No. 39.—Irish Unfitness for Self-Government Castlereagh, June 24th 259
No. 40.—Object Lessons in Irish Self-Government Roscommon, June 27th 265
No. 41.—The Changed Spirit of the Capital Dublin, June 29th 271
No. 42.—At a Nationalist Meeting Dundalk, July 1st 279
No. 43.—In the Prosperous North Newry, July 4th 285
No. 44.—The Prosperous North Armagh, July 6th 291
No. 45.—A Picture of Romish "Toleration" Monaghan, July 8th 298
No. 46.—A Bit of Foreign Opinion Enniskillen, July 11th 304
No. 47.—The Loyalists and the Lawless Clones, July 13th 310
No. 48.—A Search for "Orange Rowdyism" Belfast, July 15th 317
No. 49.—The Constitution of the Orange Lodges Portadown, July 18th 324
No. 50.—The Hollowness of Home Rule Warrenpoint, July 20th 331
No. 51.—The Irish Press on "Finality" Strabane, July 22nd 337
No. 52.—How the Priests Control the People Raphoe, Co. Donegal, July 25th 345
No. 53.—What they think in County Donegal Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, July 27th 351
No. 54.—A Sample of Irish "Loyalty" Killygordon, July 29th 358
No. 55.—A Truly Patriotic Priest Donegal, August 1st 365
No. 56.—Do-Nothing Donegal Donegal, August 3rd 371
No. 57.—Barefooted and Dilatory Ballyshannon, August 5th 378
No. 58.—The Truth about Bundoran Sligo, August 8th 383
No. 59.—Irish Nationalism is not Patriotism Birmingham, August 11th 390
No. 60.—Land Hunger: its Cause, Effect, and Remedy Birmingham, August 14th 396
No. 61.—Clerical Domination and its Consequences Birmingham, August 16th 403
No. 62.—Civil War a certainty of Home Rule Birmingham, August 18th 409
[For a General Index the reader is referred to the end of the volume.]
IRELAND AS IT IS
AND AS IT WOULD BE
UNDER HOME RULE.
IRELAND AS IT IS
AND AS IT WOULD BE
UNDER HOME RULE
No. 1.—THE SPIRIT OF THE CAPITAL.
By the Spirit of the Capital I do not mean, as an Irishman would tell you, Jameson's whiskey, nor yet the vivifying soul of Guinness's double stout, but the mental posture of the dwellers in Dublin with reference to Home Rule. There can be no doubt of the interest prevailing in the Irish metropolis. The people are wrought into a fever-heat of expectancy and intense nervous excitement. Home Rule is the only topic of conversation. In hotels, on the steamers, in railway carriages, on tramcars, in the market-place, on the steps of the temples, at the corners of the streets, in the music halls, the wondering stranger hears of Home Rule, Home Rule, Home Rule, first, last, midst, and without end.
Obviously so much discussion shows difference of opinion, divergency of conception, conflicting interests. It is borne in upon you that the Irish people are far from agreed as to what Home Rule means, and that every individual has his own pet notion, the various theories differing as widely as the education and social position of their proposers. But the most striking feature in the attitude of Dublin is undoubtedly the intense, the deep-rooted, the perfervid hatred of the bill shown by the better sort of people, the nervous anxiety of the law-abiding classes, the undisguised alarm of everybody who has anything to lose, whether commercial men, private traders, manufacturers, or the representatives of learning and culture. The mere shadow of Home Rule has already seriously affected stocks and securities, has brought about withdrawal of capital, and is sending both English and Irish commercial travellers home empty-handed. Sir Howard Grubb, maker of the great telescope of the Lick Observatory, America, an Irishman whose scientific and commercial successes are a glory to his country, and whose titular honours have been won by sheer force of merit, declares that the passing of the Home Rule Bill will be the signal heralding his departure to England, with plant and working staff, and that he has been preparing for this since 1886. One of the largest booksellers in the city tells me that, acting in conjunction with others of the trade, during the last six weeks no orders have been given to English travellers, adding—and thoughtful people should find this highly suggestive—"The Dublin Unionists are the people who have the money and the education. The people who have money to spend are becoming excessively careful. They know not what may be in store, but they fear that if Home Rule becomes law they will be ruined, and more than ninety-five per cent. of my customers are Unionists."
Further inquiry confirmed the statement that the book-buying community are practically Unionists to a man. The same figures hold good among the Irish Quakers. Ninety-five per cent. is the proportion given to me by an eminent Friend, no stranger to Birmingham, intimately known to Alderman White and three generations of the Cadbury family. He said, "Irish Quakers are Unionists, because they are on the spot, because they understand the subject, because they know what will follow, because they share the dangers of the threatened revolution. What may be the proportion of Home Rulers among the English Friends I do not know, but probably the Gladstonians have a majority, for precisely opposite reasons to those I have stated, that is,—they are not on the spot, do not understand the matter, are unable to see what will take place, and regard themselves as safe, whatever happens." The Irish Quakers have issued a manifesto which should weigh with their English brethren and with the country at large. The Quakers know their way about. Their piety has not blunted their perceptive faculties, has not taken the edge off their keenness. Their reputation for shrewdness is equal to their reputation for integrity, which is saying a good deal. With them the innocence of the dove is happily combined with considerable wisdom of the serpent. And at least ninety-five per cent. of the Irish Quakers are earnest Unionists.
But although the deep concern of the respectable classes of the Irish capital is calculated to fill the wandering Englishman with grave uneasiness, it is not all tragedy. The Dubliners must have their fun, and, like the Parisians, will sport with matters of heaviest import. The poorer classes treat the universal subject lightly, as beseems men who have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The prevailing trait in their mental attitude is incredulousness. You cannot make them believe that the bill will pass. "We'll get Home Rule when a pair o' white wings sprouts out o' me shoulders an' I fly away like a blackbird," said an old market woman with great emphasis; and a Dublin jackeen, piloting an American over the city, said: "This, Sorr, is College Green, an' that, Sorr, is Thrinity College, an' that Sorr,"—here he pointed to the grand pile opposite the College—"that Sorr, is the grate buildin' in which the Irish Parliament is not going to meet!" At one of the music halls an old woman (Ireland) is represented as buying a coffin for a deceased son named "Home Rule" Bill, when the following conversation occurs:—
"Is it an oak or an elm coffin ye want?"
"Ah, thin, just a chape deal coffin, shure—wid a few archangels on the lid."
"Will ye want any trimmings?"
"Arrah, what d'ye mane by trimmin's?"
"Trimmings for the coffin."
"Bad luck to yer trimmin's. What would I want wid them? Sure 'twas 'trimmin's' that kilt him!"
It is hoped that Saxon readers will see this subtle joke when I explain that "delirium" should come before "trimmin's."
Underneath the incredulity of the lower classes—and be it observed that their incredulity is obviously based on an instinctive feeling that the claims and arguments of their own party are alike preposterous—underneath this vein of unbelief is a vein of extraordinary credulity. Poverty is to be at once and for ever abolished. "The millions an' millions that John Bull dhrags out iv us, to kape up his grandeur, an' to pay soldiers to grind us down, we'll put into our own pockets, av you plaze," was the answer vouchsafed to an inquiry as to what advantages were expected from the passing of the Home Rule Bill. The speaker was a political barber. Another of the craft said, in answer to the same query, "Well, Sorr, I think we have a right to our indipindence. Sure, we'd be as sthrong as Switzerland or Belgium." A small farmer from the outlying district thought that rents would be lowered, that money would be advanced to struggling tenants, that great public works would be instituted, and plainly intimated that all these good things and many more had been roundly promised by the Home Rule leaders, and that he, for one, fully believed that all would duly come to pass, once the Bill were carried, which happy event he never expected to see. Every man was to be a kind of king in his own country, evictions were to be utterly unknown; the peasantry were to live rent free, under a visionary scheme of which he had all the absurd particulars; the old sporting maxim reminding farmers that landlord shooting begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st was to become obsolete by reason of a complete extinction of the species—only an odd one being occasionally dug out of the bogs along with trunks of bog-oak and skeletons of the great Irish elk; while the family pig, which, having for ages occupied a responsible position in the matter of "Rint," is understood to be an inveterate landlord-hater, will be released from his delicate situation, will be relieved from his harassing anxieties, will no longer be sacrificed to the exigencies of the occasion; but, on the contrary, will peacefully expire of old age, surrounded by every tribute of respect. The dirtiest of the Dubliners hold opinions as to the marvellous results of Home Rule more adapted to their own positions and pursuits, but apparently on the same plane, no whit higher in the scale of intelligence. They regard the English as their natural enemies, and the lower you go the more truculent they become. One and all they hold the belief, industriously instilled by agitators, that the poverty of Ireland is due to the aggrandisement of England, that the bulk of Irish taxation flows into English coffers, and is used for English purposes to the exclusion of Ireland, and this they have swallowed and insist upon, in defiance of common reason and the evidence of their senses. The instinct of patriotism is not en evidence. The dominant passion is cupidity, and nothing higher; sheer greed of gain, lust of possession, and nothing nobler. Selfishness and the hope of plunder are the actuating impulses at the poll; crass ignorance and bitter prejudice the mental disposition of the lower class of voters. Four hours' slumming convinced me of this, and must convince anyone. "We'll bate the English into the say," said a resident in the sweet region yclept Summer Hill. "Whin we get the police in our hands an' an army of our own, we'd sweep them out o' the counthry av we only held cabbage-shtalks. Ireland for the Irish, an' to hell wid John Bull! Thim's my sintiments." And those are the "sintiments" of his class. I have spent days among the Irish Home Rulers without having once heard of the Union of Hearts. The phrase serves well enough to tickle the simple souls of the long-eared but short-headed fraternity of pseudo-philosophical-philanthropists across the water, but it has no currency in Ireland.
Like the country folks the city slummers believe that unheard-of advantages would follow the great Bill, and, unconsciously parodying Sancho Panza, say in effect, "Now blessings light on him who first invented Home Rule! it covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot." The bare thought of the coming Paradise illuminates their dirty visages. Like the lunatic, the lover, and the poet, they are of imagination all compact, and, unlike the character mentioned by the Bard, they "can hold a fire in their hands, By thinking on the frosty Caucasus, And cloy the hungry edge of appetite By bare imagination of a feast; And wallow naked in December snow By thinking on fantastic summer's heat."
Meanwhile, they lounge about in idleness, hugging their misery, discussing the "bating" of the Unionist party, or, as I saw them yesterday evening, listening to the crooning of an ancient female gutter-snipe, a dun-coloured heap of decrepit wretchedness, chanting the great future of the Irish Parliament in a picturesque and extraordinary doggerel anent the "larned reprisintatives of the Oirish na-a-tion. Promiscu-o-ous they shtand in em-u-la-a-tion." The small shopkeepers, once ardent Nationalists, seem to be changing their minds. One of them confided to me the fact that he and his fellows, brought actually face to face with the possibility that the end of their aspirations and agitations would be attained, were beginning to ask whether, after all, taxation would be remitted, whether indeed the rates would not be heavier, and whether the moneyed people would remain in the country at all. Hearing on all sides these and similar confessions, accompanied by urgent admonitions of secrecy, you begin to ask whether the past conduct of these enlightened voters had any more substantial basis than a cantankerous and unreasonable discontent, superadded to an Irishman's natural love of fighting. The leaders of the Separatist party have made the most frantic efforts to win over the police, but apparently without much success. The Dublin constabulary, a body of 1,300 men, is totally separate and distinct from the Royal Irish Constabulary, but I have reason to believe that the feeling of both forces is averse to Home Rule. Said a sergeant yesterday, "John Bull may have faults, but," and here he winked expressively, "but—he pays!" Then he went on—"I am a Westmeath man, a Roman Catholic, an' as good an Irishman as any of thim; an' I'd like Home Rule if it was local self-government, what they call the gas an' wather management, or the like of that. But although I've the highest respect for my counthry, an' for my counthrymen, I'd like to feel that my pay was in better hands, and—what is of more importance—my pension, afther 30 years' service."
Here was a complete lack of confidence, but my friend had more to say. He referred to the provisions of the bill, spoke of the six years' arrangement, and on this point exhibited great native shrewdness. "How do we know we'll be employed for six years, once the Irish leaders get matters in their own hands? They may promise fairly enough, but they would be subject to several influences which might prevint thim kaping their promise. First of all, when they had the power, they would naturally like to manage things their own way—an' not to be altogether bound down so hard an' fast by their engagement with the English Parliament. Then, although they profess such friendship, they don't altogether like us. We may tell them we are Nationalists, an' that we're runnin' over with patriotism; but they'll tell us that we stood by at evictions, an' that we fired on the people at Mitchelstown. But the greatest thing of all is this—all their counthry friends, all the terrorisers, the men that mutilated the cattle, the village ruffians that for years have been doin' their work, an' actin' as their spies—all these will have to be provided for. The same with our officers, but their case is still worse. They have had to pass a regular military examination, which means an expensive education. They will get the go-by an' the dirty kick-out, in order that the friends of the ruling party, who have been so long in the desert, may be furnished with posts. 'Tis human nature, Sorr." Wherefore, the constabulary, it would seem, may be trusted to take care of themselves, but the situation is suggestive of serious complications, once the bill were passed. A full private this morning told me that without the security of the British Exchequer the force would not hold together for four-and-twenty hours, a statement which, whatever be its value, is at least an indication of the amount of trust which some of the Irish people, and those not the worst informed, are disposed to place in the distinguished assembly which, according to the authority hereinbefore-mentioned is not to meet on College Green.
A never-ending complaint which follows you everywhere is the supineness of the English electorate. Men whose interests are seriously threatened, such as the better class of shopkeepers, are unable to understand the comparative calmness of the British public at large. Passionately they ask why England leaves them to their fate, and strongly they urge that prompt and decided action should be taken, if not for the sake of Ireland, then in the interests of England herself. Disruption, pure and simple, the breaking up of the Empire, with panic and general ruin, are in their opinion the sure and certain concomitants of the bill now before the House. They declare that Englishmen as a whole, whether Gladstonians or Unionists, fail to realise the gravity of the situation, and they lose no opportunity of saying whenever they hear an English accent, "WE DON'T WANT IT, WE DON'T WANT IT!" Not always do they trouble to say what is the thing they so emphatically reject. "Pardon me, Sir, but are you English?" Receiving an affirmative the rejoinder comes at once, and forcefully, "We don't want it, we don't want it! Tell the English people that if they knew all they would not entertain the idea for a moment." The phrase meets you everywhere, is roared at you in chorus in commercial rooms, haunts you in your sleep, and, if they would own it, must be painfully suggestive to Gladstonian visitors. But there are none so blind as those who will not see, none so deaf as those who will not hear. It is impossible to withhold sympathy with the indignation and mental anxiety of these industrious men, who have made Dublin what she is, and whose only notion of happiness is the fulfilment of duty, their sole means of acquiring wealth or middleclass comfort, hard and honest work. That the backbone of the city should stand with their fortunes subject to the will of a few unscrupulous agitators is indeed, as they say, an inscrutable dispensation of Providence.
Help, however, is at hand. As Hercules hangs backward in their need they have determined to help themselves. During the Easter recess both Ireland and England will be made to ring with denunciations of Home Rule, denunciations uttered for the most part by Irishmen. Orators will go forth throughout the length and breadth of both islands, with the object of laying the truth of the matter before the people—demonstrating the dire results which the most intelligent almost unanimously predict. There will be no lack of funds—Catholics and Protestants are subscribing, among the former the grandson of Daniel O'Connell, the great Liberator of Ireland. Money is literally pouring into the offices of the Irish Unionist Alliance. Little Roman Catholic Tralee, in the heart of Kerry, one of the most disturbed districts, has sent several hundreds. In three weeks the subscriptions have reached L20,000. That ought to be enough to enable Irish Unionists not, as one said to me, "to enlighten the English people. We do not presume to so much. But we will try to let some of the Darkness out."
Dublin, March 28th.
No. 2.—PANIC AND DISASTER.
The situation is becoming hourly more serious. The over-excited condition of men's minds is rapidly ripening into a panic. The impending Second Reading is driving the respectable population of Ireland into absolute despair. The capital is inundated by men from all parts of the kingdom anxious to know the worst, running hither and thither, asking whether, even at the eleventh hour, anything may be done to avert the dreaded calamity. An eminent solicitor assures me that during the last four-and-twenty hours a striking change of opinion has taken place. Red-hot Home Rulers when confronted with the looming actuality are on all sides abandoning their loudly proclaimed political opinions. My friend's business—he is, or has been, an ardent Home Ruler—is chiefly connected with land conveyancing, and he declares that his office is besieged by people anxious to "withdraw their charges" on land and house property, that is, to recall their money advanced on mortgage, however profitable the investment, however apparently solid the security. He instanced the case of an estate in Cavan, bearing three mortgages of respectively L1,000, L3,000, and L4,000, and leaving to the borrower a clear income of L1,700 a year after all claims were paid. The three lenders are strenuously endeavouring to realise, the thousand-pounder being prostrate with affright, but although the investments under normal conditions would fetch a good premium, not a penny can be raised in any direction. The lenders are Home Rulers, and eighty per cent. of the population of Cavan are Roman Catholic.
The same story is heard everywhere, with "damnable iteration." The cause of charity is suffering severely. The building of additions to the Rotunda Hospital and the Hospital for Consumptives, at a cost of twenty thousand pounds, has been definitely abandoned, although three-quarters of the money has been raised. The building trade is at a complete standstill. On every hand contracts are thrown up, great works are put aside. Mr. Kane, High Sheriff of Kildare, declines to proceed with the building of his new mansion, which was to cost many thousand pounds. Mr. John Jameson, the eminent distiller, who also contemplated the construction of a palatial residence, which would take years to build, has dropped the idea. The project for the formation of a great Donegal Oyster-bed Company, which long bade fair to prosper, and to confer a boon on the starving peasantry of the coast, has been cast to the winds. Among the shoals of similar occurrences which confront you at every turn, some contain an element almost of humour. A Dublin architect tells a quaint story of this kind. It may not be generally known in England that the Roman Catholics of Ireland can borrow money from John Bull for the erection of "glebe-houses," at 4 per cent., repayable in 49 years. In a certain recent case the priest thought the builder's estimate too high, and, without absolutely declining the contract, intimated that he would "wait a while." Said the architect, "Better make up your mind before June, or you may have the Irish Legislature to deal with." This argument acted like magic. The good Father instantly saw its cogency, and, like every other patriotic Nationalist whose personal interest is involved, preferred to place himself in English hands rather than in those of his own countrymen, and incontinently accepted the contract, begging the architect to proceed with all haste.
A run on the Post Office Savings Bank threatens to clear out every penny of Irish money, and why? Because it has dawned on the small hoarders, the thrifty and industrious members of the lower classes, that the Post Office is to be transferred to the Irish Legislature. A friend tells me that yesterday his Catholic cook begged for an interview. She had money in the Post Office Savings Bank, and thereanent required advice, asking if it would be safe till to-morrow! Following up this hint, pregnant with meaning, though delivered in jest, I found that the feeling of insecurity is spreading like wild fire, to the intense indignation of those patriots who have no savings, and who are alive to the fact that under the provisions of the proposed Act the four millions supposed to be lying in the Post Office Savings Bank would constitute the entire working capital, as distinguished from current income, of the College Green Legislature. The master of a small sub-office told me that the withdrawals at his little place amounted to L200 per week, rising latterly to L70 per day, and that it was necessary to get money from London to meet the demands. Concurrently with this I learn that the Dublin Savings Bank, an institution managed by merchants of the city, for the encouragement of thrift, is receiving the money so withdrawn, and this confidence is explained by the well-known fact that the directors have publicly declared that on the passing of the Home Rule Bill they will pay 20s. in the pound and close the bank, in addition to which significant ultimatum they have, in writing, declared to Mr. Gladstone, that this course of action is due to the fact that they repudiate the security of the proposed Irish Legislature. To put the thing in a nutshell it may be said that not a single Irishman in or out of the country is willing to trust the Irish Legislature with a single penny of his own money.
A curious feature of the Nationalist character is the profound contempt expressed for Nationalist M.P.'s. Englishmen are accustomed to speak of their own members, representing their own opinions, with respect. Not so in Dublin. A rabid Nationalist said to me, "I am an Irishman to the backbone. I am a Home Ruler out-and-out. But do you think I'd trust my property with either of the two Tims? Do you think such men as Tim Harrington and Tim Healy are fit to be trusted with the spending of 2-1/2 millions of money per annum? They have their job, and they work well at their job, and the Irish people have backed them up out of pure divilment. 'Tis mighty fine to take a rise out of John Bull, to harass him, to worry him, to badger him out of his seven sinses. The half of the voters never were serious, or voted as they were told by men who expatiated on the wrongs which have been dinned into them from infancy. But to trust these orators with their money! Bedad, we're not all out such omadhauns (idiots) as that! Paddy is not altogether such a fool as he looks."
Although public feeling has suddenly deepened in intensity, the change has been for some time in progress. I am enabled to state on irrefragable authority, that Lord Houghton's sudden departure from Dublin on Sunday week was entirely due to his alarm at the shifting aspect of affairs, which rendered instant conference with Mr. Gladstone a matter of urgent necessity. And it should be especially noted that this change is most apparent not in the Protestant North, not among the irreconcilable black and heretic Ulsterites, but in Nationalist Dublin, in the Roman Catholic south—not simply among the moneyed classes and well-to-do shopkeepers of Dublin, but among the industrious poor, and the small farmers of the region round about. The opinions and feelings of the better classes have ever been dead against the Bill, and the best portion of the poorer people are assuredly moving in the same direction. That such is the simple fact is undeniable. It is thrust upon you whether you will or no. You are compelled to believe it, whatever your political creed. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. Mr. Love, of Kildare, a landed proprietor, now in Dublin, says that on Sunday last Dr. Gowing, parish priest of Kill, denounced Home Rule from the altar, and advised the people to have none of it.
The Dubliners are beginning to publicly ridicule their Nationalist members. A bog-oak carving represents a typical Irishman driving a "conthrairy pig," which is supposed to stand for Tim Harrington. The interesting animal is deviating from the right way, gazing fixedly at a milestone which bears the legend, "IX. miles to College Green." His master gives him a cut of the whip and a jerk of the rope, and thus addresses the wayward Tim, "Arrah, don't be wastin' yer larnin', radin' milestones. Ye're not goin' to Dublin—ye're goin' to BRAY!" A Phoenix Park orator who sang amusing songs finished his appeal for coppers thus, "Sure, Home Rule is a splindid thing—an iligant thing intirely, an' a blind man could see the goodness iv it wid his two eyes. Didn't ye all know Tim Harrington whin he hadn't the price iv his breakfast? Didn't ye know him whin he would dhrop on his two marrowbones and thank God for the price of a shmell of calamity-wather" (whiskey). "An' now look at him! D'ye mind the iligant property he has outside Dublin? An ye'll all get the like o' that, every bosthoon among yez, av ye get Home Rule. But yez must sind me to Parlimint. Sure I have ivery quollification. Wasn't I born among yez? Wasn't I rared among yez? Don't I know what yez wants? An' didn't I go many a day widout a male? Aye, that I did, an' could do it again! Sind me to Parlimint, till I get within whisperin' distance of Misther Gladstone—within whisperin' distance, d'ye mind me? Ye'll all get lashins of dhrink, an' free quarthers at the Castle. An' all ye have to do is to pay me, an' pay me well." Here the speaker laid his finger along his nose and broke into a comic song having reference to "the broad Atlantic," which he chanted in a brogue almost as broad as the Atlantic itself.
The better class of vacillating Nationalists are ready to give a plausible reason for the faith that is in them. You cannot catch an Irish Home Ruler napping, nor will he admit that he was ever wrong. He will talk to the average Englishman about Irish rights and Irish wrongs, Irish virtues and Irish abstinence from crime with a reckless disregard for truth that can only be born of a firm belief that Irish newspapers are never read outside Ireland, and will then walk off and plume himself on the assumption that because he met no point-blank contradiction he has duped his victim into believing the most absurd mass of wild misinformation that was ever crammed down the throats of the most gullible of his rustic countrymen. It must be admitted that they are shrewd critics of the Bill, of which every individual citizen, whatever his conviction, has an annotated copy in his tail-pocket. The Dublin change of front is ascribed to the "insulting manner in which the Bill is drafted." The Nationalists, one and all, roundly declare, in terms which admit of no qualification, that the present bill means no less than separation, and while admitting that this is their dearest aspiration, declare that England will only have herself to thank. They complain that the word "Parliament" is never used in the Bill when referring to the Irish Legislature, but console themselves with the reflection that the supremacy of Parliament proper is only mentioned in the preamble, which they rejoice to believe is not part of the bill, and therefore is not binding in law. The Treasury clauses they declare to have been drawn by a deadly enemy of Ireland, but here again they find salvation in the alleged inconsistency of the various provisions of the bill.
They accept with exceeding great joy the provision which will enable them to deprive of their property, rights, and privileges all existing Corporations whether incorporated under Royal Charter or otherwise, pointing out that this means ownership and control of the Bank of Ireland, Trinity College, and all the churches and cathedrals, which hereafter are to be wrested from Protestant hands and devoted to the propagandism of the Roman Catholic faith; and that the Bill confers these powers is, they say, made clearly evident by the clause that places these matters in the hands of an executive "directed by Irish Act." By virtue of his position they have already nominated Archbishop Walsh on this executive, with other ecclesiastics of like kidney. This they admit is a good mouthful, but they scornfully assert that while Mr. Gladstone has left them income-tax to pay, he has also loaded them with the Post Office, a Greek gift, which under the best English management is worked at a loss of fifty thousand pounds a year! The two Home Rulers who in my hearing so ruthlessly dissected the Bill made merry over the clause which excludes the Irish Government from all control of the "foreign mails or submarine telegraphs or through-lines in connection therewith," pouring on the unhappy sentence whole cataracts of ridicule. "We have the thing in our hands, and we are not to control its working," said they. "The cable between England and America passes through Ireland, will be worked by our servants, by people who will look to us as their paymasters, and we are to have no control!" The preposterous absurdity of the notion tickled the entire company. "But if England does not please us, can we not cut the cable? Can we not order our own paid servants to cease transmitting messages, or to transmit only such as have survived the inspection of the accredited officials of the Irish people?" It was thought that this was reasonable and a possible, nay a probable conjuncture, and might be used as a weapon to damage English trade. "Let them go round or lay another cable," said one patriot.
This sort of discussion, more or less reasonable, is everywhere heard, and should be of some value in indicating the use Irishmen expect to make of the Act. Not a single friendly syllable, not a word of amicable fellowship with England, not a scintilla of gratitude for favours past or to come, nothing but undisguised animosity, and a fixed resolution to make every clause of the Act a battlefield. I speak that I do know and testify that I have seen. My personal relations with the Irish people have been and continue to be of the most gratifying kind. In the homes of the highest, in the great manufactories, even in the lowest slums I have seen much that is attractive in the Irish character—much that excites warm interest, and is calculated to attach you to the people. I have conversed with scores of Home Rulers of all shades, and to the query as to whether ultimate separation is hoped for, I have received an invariable affirmative. True it is that the answer varied in terms from the blunt "Yes" of the uncompromising man to the more or less veiled assent of the more cautious, but the result was in substance ever the same. Talk about the Union of Hearts, the pacification of Ireland, the brotherly love that is to ensue, and the Unionists turn away with undissembled impatience, the Home Rulers with a chuckle and a sneer. As well tell reasonable Irishmen that the world is flat, or that a straight line between two given points is the longest, or that the sun moves round the moon, or any other inane absurdity contrary to the evidence of science and their senses. The English Gladstonians who babble about brotherly love and conciliation should move about Dublin in disguise. Disguise would in their case be necessary to get at the truth, for Paddy is a shrewd trickster, and delights in humbugging this species of visitor, whom he calls "the slobbering Saxon." Then if they would return and still vote for Home Rule they are no less than traitors to their country and enemies to their fellow-country men.
The weather is very fine, and the fashionable resorts are fairly well frequented, but trade daily grows worse. Wholesale houses, says a high authority, are "not dull, but stone dead." The pious Irish fast and pray during the week, and the great Roman Catholic Retreat at Milltown is crowded to the limits of its accommodation. The ladies wear a kind of half-mourning, a stylish sort of reminder of original sin. Sackcloth and ashes in Catholic Dublin consist of fetching brown, grey, or tan costumes, set off with huge bunches of fragrant violets, tied with a bow the exact shade of the flower, or a dull shade of purple, a sort of Lenten lugubriousness particularly becoming to blonde penitents. The ladies are indefatigable in their efforts against Home Rule, and one distinguished canvasser for signatures to the Roman Catholic petition has been warned by the police, as she values her life, to leave Dublin for a time. The ruffian class, needless to say, has undergone no change, but still demands the bill, and this delicate lady, for years foremost in every good and charitable work, is driven from her home by threatening letters—that accursed resort to anonymous intimidation which so discredits the Irish claim to superior courage and chivalry. The Catholics of Dublin are signing numerously, but the number of signatories by no means represents the opponents of the Bill.
Englishmen cannot be brought to realise for one moment the system of terrorism and intimidation which prevails even in the very heart of the capital. Parnellite spies are everywhere and know everything, and woe to the helpless man who dares to have a mind of his own. And not only are the poor coerced and deprived of the liberty of the subject, but the wealthiest manufacturers—men whose firms are of the greatest magnitude—will caution you against using their names in connection with anything that could give a clue to their real sentiments. This difficulty arises everywhere and information can only be extracted after a promise that its source shall never be disclosed. The priests are credited with unheard-of influence among the poor. "At the present moment the ruffians are held in leash. The order has gone forth that pending the Home Rule debate they are to 'be good.' But if I sign that petition, although here in Dublin, the thing would be known at Tralee, 200 miles away, before I reached home—and a hundred to one that the first blackguard that passed would put a match in my thatch, would burn my stacks, would hough or mutilate my cattle." The speaker was a Roman Catholic farmer from Kerry. Mr. Morley, in stating that the prosecution of the Rev. Robert Eager had ceased and determined, was utterly wrong. The rector's cousin, Mr. W.J. Eager, also of Tralee, told me that threatening letters with coffins and cross-bones were still pouring in in profusion. Mr. Eager was calmly requested to give up land which he had held for 15 years to a man who had previously rented it, and as the good parson failed to see the force of this argument he is threatened with a violent death. In England such a thing could only happen in a pantomime, but some of the Irish think it the quintessence of reasonable action. These are the class that support the Bill; these are the men Mr. Gladstone and his conglomeration of cranks and faddists hope to satisfy. A brilliant kind of prospect for poor John Bull.
Mr. John Morley should accompany me in my peregrinations among the intelligent voters who have placed him and his great chief in power, along with the galaxy of minor stars which rise with the Grand Man's rising and set at his setting. "The British Government won't allow us to work the gold mines in the Wicklow mountains. Whin we get the Bill every man can take a shpade, an' begorra! can dig what he wants." "The Phaynix Park is all cramfull o' coal that the Castle folks won't allow us to dig, bad scran to them. Whin we get the Bill wu'll sink thim mines an' send the Castle to Blazes." But the quaintest, the funniest, the most sweetly ingenuous of the lot was the reason given by a gentleman of patriarchal age and powerful odour, whom I encountered in Hamilton's Lane. He said, "Ye see, Sorr, this is the way iv it. 'Tis the Americans we'll look to, by raison that they're mostly our own folks. They're powerful big invintors, but bedad, they haven't the wather power to work the invintions. Now we have the wather power, an' the invintions 'll be brought over here to be worked. An' that'll give the poor folks imploymint."
The poor man's ignorance was doubtless dense, his credulity amusing, his childlike simplicity interesting. But the darkness of his ignorance was no blacker, the extent of his credulity no more amazing, than the ignorance and credulity of English Gladstonian speakers, who, with a Primitive Methodist accent and a Salvation Army voice, proclaim, with a Bible twang, their conviction that Home Rule means the friendship of Ireland.
Dublin, March 30th.
No. 3.—ULSTER'S PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.
Ulster will fight, and fight to the death. The people have taken a resolution—deep, stern, and irrevocable. Outwardly they do not seem so troubled as the Dubliners. They are quiet in their movements, moderate in their speech. They show no kind of alarm, for they know their own strength, and are fully prepared for the worst. They speak and act like men whose minds are made up, who will use every Constitutional means of maintaining their freedom, and, these failing, will take the matter in their own strong hands. Meanwhile they preserve external calm, and systematically make their arrangements. If ever they went through a talking stage, that is now over. They have passed the time of discussion, and are preparing for action. If ever they showed heat, that period also is past. They have reached the cold stage, in which men act on ascertained principles and not in the frenzy of passion. There is nothing hysterical about the Belfast men. They are by no means the kind of people who run hither and thither wringing their hands. Neither are they men who will sit down under oppression. And oppression is what they expect from a Dublin Government. Mr. Gladstone and his tribe may pooh-pooh this notion, but the feeling in Ulster is strong and immovable. The tens of thousands of Protestants thickly scattered over other provinces feel more strongly still; as well they may, for they have not the numbers, the organisation, the unity which is strength, that characterise the province of Ulster. They hold that Home Rule is at the bottom a religious movement, that by circuitous methods, and subterranean strategy, the religious re-conquest of the island is sought; that the ignorant peasantry, composing the large majority of the electorate, are entirely in the hands of the priests, and that these black swarms of Papists have a congenital hatred of England, which must bring about separation. These are the opinions of thousands of eminent men whose ability is beyond argument, who have lived all their lives on the spot, who from childhood have had innumerable facilities for knowing the truth, whose interests are bound up with the prosperity of Ireland, and who, on every ground, are admittedly the best judges. Said Mr. Albert Quill, the Dublin barrister:—
"Mr. Gladstone, who in eighty-four years has spent a week in Ireland, puts aside Sir Edward Harland, who has built a fleet of great ships in an Irish port, and sneers at the opinion of the Belfast deputation who have lived all their lives in Ireland." A Roman Catholic Unionist, an eminent physician, said to me:—
"I fear that Catholicism would ultimately lose by the change, although at first it would undoubtedly obtain a strong ascendant. The bulk of the Irish Catholics have a deep animosity to the English people, whom they regard as heretics, and the Protestants of Ireland would in self-defence be compelled to band themselves together, for underneath the specious surface of the Home Rule movement are the teeth and claws of the tiger. Persecution would follow separation, which is inevitable if the present bill be carried. A Dublin Parliament would make a Protestant's life a burden. This would react in time, and Catholicism would suffer in the long run. And for this reason, amongst others, I am against Home Rule."
But what are the Belfast men doing? Imprimis they are working in what may be called the regular English methods. Unionist clubs are springing up in all directions. The Earl of Ranfurly opened three in one evening, and others spring up almost every day. The Ulster Anti-Repeal and Loyalist Association will during the month of April hold over three hundred meetings in England, all manned by competent speakers. The Irish Unionist Association and the Conservative Association are likewise doing excellent work, which is patent to everybody. But other associations which do not need public offices are flourishing like green bay trees, and their work is eminently suggestive. By virtue of an all-powerful introduction, I yesterday visited what may be called the Ulster war department, and there saw regular preparation for an open campaign, the preliminaries for which are under eminently able superintendence. The tables are covered with documents connected with the sale and purchase of rifles and munitions of war. One of them sets forth the particulars of a German offer of 245,000 Mauser rifles, the arm last discarded by the Prussian Government, with 50,000,000 cartridges. As the first 150,000 Mausers were manufactured by the National Arms and Ammunition Company, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, it may be interesting to record that the quoted price was 16s. each, the cartridges being thrown in for nothing. Another offer referred to 149,000 stand of arms, with 30,000,000 cartridges. A third document, the aspect of which to a native of Brum was like rivers of water in a thirsty land, was said to have been summarily set aside by reason of the comparative antiquity of the excellent weapon offered, notwithstanding the tempting lowness of the quoted price.
A novel and unexpected accession of information was the revelation of a deep and sincere sympathy among the working men of England, who, with gentlemen of position and rifle volunteers by hundreds and thousands, are offering their services in the field, should civil war ensue. The letters were shown to me, all carefully filed, and sufficient liberty was permitted to enable me to be satisfied as to the tenour of their contents. Among the more important was a short note from a distinguished personage, offering a contribution of L500, with his guarantee of a force of two hundred men. This also was from England, a fact which the scoffers at Ulster will do well to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. The guarantee fund for the first campaign now amounts to nearly a million and a half, which the best financial authority of Belfast tells me is "as good as the Bank of England." What the Dublin police-sergeant said of John Bull may also be said of the Ulsterman—"He may have faults, but—he Pays!" Funds for current purposes are readily forthcoming, L50,000 being already in hand, while promises of a whole year's income seem thick as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa. No means is left untried, no stone is left unturned to render abortive what the dry and caustic Northerners call the Home Ruin Bill, or the Bill for the Bitter Government of Ireland.
Moving hourly among people accurately and minutely acquainted with the local position, you cannot fail to be struck by the marvellous unanimity with which all Irish Unionists predict the exact result of such a bill as constitutes the present bone of contention, and their precise agreement as to concerted action should the crisis arise. They ridicule the English notion that they intend to take the field at once. Nothing of the kind. They will await the imposition of taxes by a Dublin Parliament, and will steadfastly refuse to pay. The money must then be collected by force of arms, that is, by the Royal Irish Constabulary, who will be met by men who under their very noses are now becoming expert in battalion drill, having mastered company drill, with manual and firing exercise; and whose numbers—I love to be particular—amount to the respectable total of one hundred and sixty-four thousand six hundred and fourteen, all duly enrolled and pledged to act together anywhere and at any time, most of them already well armed, and the remainder about to be furnished with splendid and effective weapons, which before this appears in print will have been landed from a specially chartered steamer, and instantly distributed from a spot I am forbidden to indicate, by an organisation specially created for the purpose.
All these particulars—and more—were furnished by gentlemen of high position and unimpeachable integrity, whose statements, of themselves sufficient, were abundantly confirmed by the exhibition under restrictive pledges, of undeniable documentary proofs, with partial but satisfactory glimpses of the work actually in hand. No vapouring here, no breathless haste, not a suspicion of excitement. Nothing but a cold, emotionless, methodical, business-like precision, a well-considered series of commercial transactions, conducted by men specially acquainted with the articles required and regularly trained to office routine. English Home Rulers, unable to see a yard in front of them, whose training and instincts are of the goody-goody, milk and water type,—the lily-livered weaklings, who measure the courage of others by their own,—may be excused their inability to conceive the situation. They cannot understand the dour, unyielding spirit of the Ulsterman in a matter which affects his property, his religion, his freedom. A party backboneless as the Globerigina ooze, and, like that sub-Atlantic production, only held together by its own sliminess, must ever fail to realise the grit which means resistance, sacrifice, endurance; cannot grasp the outlines of the Ulster character and spirit, which resemble those which actuated the Scottish Covenanters, the Puritan army of Cromwell, or even—and this illustration should be especially grateful to Gladstonians—the Dutch Boers of the Transvaal.
But although the surface is placid the depths are turbulent. If Dublin is simmering, Belfast is boiling. The breed is different. The Northerner is not demonstrative, is slow to anger, but being moved is not easily appeased. The typical Irishman, with his cutaway coat, his pipe stuck in his conical caubeen, his "sprig of shillelagh," or bludgeon the Donnybrook Fair hero who "shpinds half a-crown, Mates wid a frind An' (for love) knocks him down" is totally unknown in these regions. The men who by their ability and industry have lifted Ireland out of the slough, given her prosperity and comparative affluence, marched hand in hand with the English people, have only seen, with wonder, the rollicking Kelt, devoid of care, forethought, and responsibility, during their trips to the South and West—or wherever Home Rulers most do congregate. Strange it is, but perfectly true, that in most cases an Irishman's politics may be determined by outward and visible signs, so plain that he who runs may read. In Dundalk, which should be a thriving port, you see in and around the town long rows of low thatch-covered cabins, with putrid dunghills "convaynient," dirty, half-fed, barefooted children, and—magnificent Catholic churches. Home Rule rules the roost. As you move northwards, the symptoms of poverty gradually disappear. Scarva, the annual meeting ground of 5,000 to 10,000 Orangemen, who on July 13, the day after the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne, fight the battle o'er again, with a King William and a King James, mounted respectively on their regulation white and bay chargers—Scarva is neat, clean and civilised. Bessbrook, the Quaker colony, is, as might be expected, a model community. Lurgan is well built, smart, trim, and delightful, a wealthy manufacturing place with the general aspect of Leamington. As the train steamed into the station an American traveller took a general survey of the district, and said to the general company—
"I reckon this is a Unionist place."
A fierce-looking man from Dundalk admitted the soft impeachment.
"Thought so. Can spot a Home Rule town far off as I can see it. Mud huts, whitewashed cabins with no upstairs, muck-heaps, and bad fences. Can spot a Home Ruler as far as I can see him. Darned if I couldn't track him by scent, like a foxhound. That's the rank and file—very rank, I should say, most of them. And old J. Bull concludes to let the dunghill folks, powerful lazy beggars they seem, come top-sawyer over the fellows that built a place like this, eh?"
The Newry man, taking off his hat, revealing a head of hair like a disorderly halo, took from the lining a little paper which called upon the Irish peasantry to remember their wrongs, referred to the time when Englishmen could murder Irishmen with impunity, stated that the thing had often been done, and called upon every male from fifteen to fifty to enrol himself in the Irish Independent Army—referring to the Protestants as "a cruel and bloody minority." The Yankee returned the bill contemptuously.
"You think this a question of counting noses. Now, I'm a sympathiser of Home Rule, but if I was J.B. it would be different. I'm hanged if I would not stick to my clean, clever, faithful friends, though they were outnumbered by twenty to one. An' I'm a Republican, mind ye that. Ye might ask me to put the muck-heap men at the head of affairs—ye might ask till doomsday, but ye'd never get it. An' any man's a fool that would do it."
A placard announcing the formation of an Irish Army of Independence, and calling on the people to enrol themselves, has been extensively circulated, and it is said that the Roman Catholics, like the Protestants, are industriously drilling, north, south, east and west. I am careful to use the term Protestants, as the force available is drawn from the general body of Nonconformists. Orangemen are members of the Church of Ireland, and have always been regarded as Conservative. On the contrary, Presbyterians and Methodists are considered to be advanced Liberals, and herein lies a popular English fallacy—Gladstonians often refer to the Orange agitation against the disestablishment of the Irish Church, which they would fain compare with the present opposition to Home Rule, forgetting or ignoring the fact that the strength of Ulster resides in the Nonconformist bodies, and that these were all in favour of disestablishment, leaving the Orangemen in a hopeless minority. Now, however, the Nonconformists have joined their forces with those of the Orange bodies, which creates a very different aspect of affairs. The English Home Rulers say the opposition will end in smoke. It is said that the most insane are sometimes wiser than they dream, just as liars sometimes speak truth by accident. The movement will end in smoke, but it will be the smoke of battle. Every man who supports the Home Rule Bill incurs the stigma of blood-guiltiness. The bill that succeeds Home Rule will be the Butchers' Bill. No doubt Mr. Gladstone will explain away the "painful occurrences which we all deplore," and will endeavour to transfer the blame to other shoulders. His talent for explanation is unapproachable, but unhappily he cannot explain the slain to life again.
In a former letter I pointed out how cleverly the Nationalists dissect the bill, how they point out that its proposals are insulting to Ireland, how they prove that its provisions are inconsistent and unworkable, how they propose to discount the trumpery restrictions and the gimcrack "safeguards" of the proposed measure, how in short, they tear the bill to rags, laugh its powers to scorn, and hold its authors in high derision. The Belfast men do not discuss the bill, do not examine it clause by clause, do not quibble over the purport of this or the probable effect of that, do not ask how the customs are to be collected, or who is to pay for this, that, or the other. They descend to no details, enter into no particulars, point out no minor fallacies, argue no questions of the ultimate effect of any one section of the bill. They reject the measure as a whole. The principle is bad, radically rotten, and cannot be amended. With the Home Rulers they agree that the bill means Separation, and therefore they put it away en bloc. They will have no part with the unclean thing, but cast it to the winds, bundle it out neck and crop, kick it downstairs, treat it with immeasurable contempt. They are well versed in the broad principles of Constitutional law, as it at present exists; will tell you that the Irish Constabulary is the only force that can be brought against them for the collection of the taxes, which they will absolutely refuse; declare that the military can only be used against them for this purpose by Act of Parliament; cite the preamble of the Army Bill, which shows that there is no standing army, but only a force renewed in its functions from year to year; show that the monarch has ceased to be generalissimo of the British troops since such a year, refer to the sad case of Charles I., who would fain have collected Ship-money from a certain John Hampden, and endeavoured to use the English army for this laudable purpose, meeting a fate at once horrible and instructive. Then comes the application. Similar causes, say they, will bring about similar effects, and if the quality and temper of the people be considered their arguments seem reasonable.
The Irish army of Independence is already a subject of mockery. "Ten of our men would make a hundred of them run like hares. On the 27th ult. a party of Orangemen were fired upon near Stewartstown, and although unarmed they stormed the hill whence came the shots, while the heroic riflemen who had fired 14 bullets, luckily without effect, showed that if too cowardly to fight, they were not too lazy to run." This occurrence, of which I had the description from authority, would have excited some attention in England, but here it is lightly passed over as nothing exceptional. "We are holding back our men. The other party are egging us on to outbreak, in the hope that our cause will be discredited, and that Lord Salisbury's visit in May might be hindered." There is a mutual repugnance between the two peoples, but the character of the repulsion is different. The Roman Catholics manifest an unmistakable hatred—the term is no whit too strong—a hatred of the social and intellectual superiority of their fellow-countrymen, who in turn look upon the Catholics (as a whole) with mistrust, mingled with contempt. As well ask Brother Jonathan to submit to the rule of the negro, as well ask the London trader to put his interests in the hands of a Seven Dials' syndicate, as well ask Mr. Gladstone and his followers to listen to reason or to talk common sense, as to expect the powerful and influential Protestants of Belfast and Ulster generally to entrust their future to a Legislature elected by the most illiterate electorate in the three kingdoms, and under the thumb of the priests—who wield a despotic power which people in England cannot be made to understand. A short time ago the Dublin Freemasons held a bazaar in aid of a charity whose object was the complete care of orphan children. The Catholic Archbishop immediately fulminated a decree that whosoever patronised the show would incur the terrors of the church, which means that they would perish everlastingly. Some poor folks, servant girls and porters and the like, who were sent by their mistresses or called by their honest avocations, dared to enter the accursed precincts, and emerging alive, rushed to confession, that the leprosy of Masonic charity might be washed from their souls by absolution.
Absolution was refused. The wretched outcasts were referred to the Bishop, who in this dire emergency had sole power to unlock the gates of heaven. Do English people know what an Irish Catholic feels when refused absolution? I trow not, and that therefore they cannot justly estimate the power of the priests. Another illustration. A friend of mine made some purchases and sent a man for them, one of five hundred Catholics in his employ. The poor fellow halted two hundred yards from the contaminating circle, and by the aid of a policeman, got the parcel brought to him—without risking his immortal soul.
The bazaar realised twenty-two thousand pounds.
The Ireland of the harp and vesper bell, free from the dominion of England, having the prestige of an independent Catholic State, the Ireland of excommunication by bell, book, and candle, the Ireland of the priest and Pope—that, and no other, according to Ulstermen, is the ultimate end of Home Rule. They will have none of it, their determination is announced, and they will stand by what they say. From what I have seen and heard I am convinced that Ulster means business, and also has the power to win. The Irish Unionists are worthy co-partners in the great fight, and Englishmen should stand with them shoulder to shoulder. But with or without English aid, Ulster may be trusted to hold its own.
Belfast, April 1st.
No. 4.—MR. BALFOUR'S WELCOME.
Arriving in the northern capital from Dublin you are apt to experience a kind of chill, akin to that felt by the boy of easy-going parents who, visiting the house of a staid and sober uncle, said to his little cousins, "At home we can fight with pillows, and let off crackers in the kitchen, and ride on the poker and tongs across the dining-room tables, and shy oranges at the chimney ornaments, and cut the sofas and pull out the stuffing, but here we get no fun at all!" The effervescence of the sunny south is conspicuous by its absence, and be it observed that the political south and the geographical south of Ireland are entirely different, the Ulstermen invariably using the term to denote an imaginary line across the country just above Dundalk. The mention of this town reminds me of a Cork commercial traveller's description of the Dundalk festivities in connection with the visit of our famous citizen, Mr. Egan, on the occasion of his release—"There was a murtherin' big crowd o' the greatest ruffians ye ever clapped your two eyes on. Some o' them had long sticks with a lump o' tow on the end, steeped in petroleum or something equally inflammable, an' whin they got the word to march—the hero was in a brake—they lit up and walked away in procession without looking at him at all, or taking any notice of him, which was moighty strange, I thought. They went on an' on, a lot o' rapscallions ye wouldn't like to meet in a lonely lane, and whin the brake stopped, for some reason or other, the whole o' them were unconscious of it, an' marched on without the grate man, leaving him an' his brake alone. I had the curiosity to go to the meetin'. There were two factions in the town, an' only one of them was riprisinted, the others stood aloof. They are at daggers drawn, flyin' at each other's throat, although Catholics and Home Rulers, an' this meetin' was the funniest thing at all! The chairman was a common fellow that made money some way, an' ye may say he liked to hear himself spake. An' be the powdhers o' war, he had the convaniences for speech-makin', for he had a jaw like a bulldog, an' a mouth on him ye couldn't span with your two hands." Further description proceeded in the same strain, and even allowing for the exuberancies of my friend's southern imagination, and his wide command of figurative language, this account of the kind of people who constitute ninety-nine hundredths of Mr. Gladstone's allies should give Home Rulers pause.
There is no lack of enthusiasm here, but the people mind their work, and do not bubble over every five minutes. They certainly showed warmth on Monday morning, and never was popular ruler, victorious general, or famous statesman welcomed with more spontaneous burst of popular acclaim. York Street was literally full of all classes of people, save and except the typical Irish poor. Of the tens of thousands who filled Royal Avenue, Donegal Place, and the broad road to the North Counties Railway, I saw none poorly clad. All were well dressed, orderly, respectable, and wonderfully good-humoured, besides being the tallest and best-grown people I have ever seen in a fairly extensive European experience. I was admitted to the station with a little knot, comprising the Marquess of Ormonde, Lord Londonderry, the gigantic Dr. Kane, head of the Ulster Orangemen, and Colonel Saunderson, full as ever of fun and fight. It was at first intended to keep the people outside, and a strong detachment of police guarded the great gates, but in vain. They were swept away by mere pressure, and the people occupied the place to the number of many thousands, mostly wearing primroses. As the train steamed in there was a tremendous rush and cheering—genuine British cheering, such as that with which Birmingham used on great occasions to greet John Bright—rendering almost inaudible the numerous explosions of fog-signals which perhaps by way of salute had been placed at the entrance to the station. There was a mocking shout of "Dynamite," followed by a roar of laughter, and despite the frantic efforts of the railway men, who humanely struggled to avoid the seemingly impending sacrifices a la Juggernaut, the more active members of the crowd storming the train, instantly sprang aloft and manned the tops of the carriages with a solid mass of vociferating humanity. Soon Mr. Balfour's face appeared, and a moment after he was standing amidst the throng, swayed hither and thither by loyalists who shook his hands, patted him on the back, deafened him with their cheers. Out came the horses, dashing through the people, snorting and plunging like so many Gladstonians, but happily injuring no one. In went the men, Mr. Balfour laughing merrily, and looking uncommonly fit, lifting his soft brown hat in mute recognition of the magnificent welcome accorded by men who are perhaps among the most competent judges of his merit as a benefactor of Ireland. Away went the carriage, amid tumultuous shouting of "No Home Rule," and "God save the Queen." This went on for miles, from the Northern Counties' Terminus to Victoria Street, when Lord Londonderry signalled to quicken the pace, and after a short speech at the Albert Memorial, the cortege disappeared over the bridge, and I returned to meet the English working men who arrived an hour later. Splendid it was to hear the six hundred miners from Newcastle-on-Tyne shouting "Old Ireland for ever!" while the generous Irishmen responded with "Rule Britannia" and cheers for Old England. Cheers for Belfast and Newcastle alternated with such stentorian vigour, each side shouting for the other, that you might have been excused for imagining that the Union of Hearts was an accomplished fact, and that brotherly love had begun and must ever continue. Said a miner, "We're all surprised to see that the people here are just like Englishmen. An' I'm blest if they aren't more loyal than the English themselves."
From Monday morning the city has been resounding with beat of drum and the shrill sounds of the fife. The houses are swathed in bunting, and the public buildings were already covered with banners when I arrived on Friday last. This, however is not characteristic Belfast form. The Belfasters can rejoice, and whatever they do, is thoroughly done, but work is their vocation, as befits their grave and sober mood. They are great at figures, and by them they try to show that they, and not the Dubliners, should be first considered. They are practical, and although not without sentiment, avoid all useless manifestation of mere feeling. They are mainly utilitarian, and prefer mathematical proof, on which they themselves propose to rely, in proving their case. Here is an instance. A Belfast accountant, who is also a public officer, has collected a number of comparative figures on which he bases the claims of Belfast to prior consideration. The figures are certainly exact, and are submitted as evidence of the superior business management, and larger, keener capacity of Protestant Belfast as compared with those of Catholic Dublin. Beginning with the functions of the Dublin Lord Mayor, secretary, and so forth, which cost L4,967 a year, it is shown that the same work in Belfast—which is rather larger than Dublin—costs only L176. Let us tabulate a few representative cases:—
Mayor, &c. L4,967 L176 Town Clerk, secretaries of committees, law agents 5,659 2,752 Treasurer, accountants, stock registrar 3,402 2,168 Fire Brigade, salaries and lighting 3,616 1,247 Coroners, sanitary officials 3,530 1,310 Wages of sanitary staff 2,233 1,130 Surveyors (borough & waterworks) and Secretaries 6,070 4,472 Clerks of Peace and Revision Officers 2,451 1,552 ——— ——— Totals L31,928 L14,807
This discrepancy is everywhere observable. The Dublin Gas Management costs L14,850 against L8,060 in Belfast, with the result that the Ulster City Gasworks yielded in 1891 a profit of L27,105, charging 2s. 9d., while the Dubliners charge 3s. 6d. and make no profit at all. The Belfast markets yield a profit of about L3,500, while on the Dublin markets and abattoir there was a deficit of L3,012 to be made good by the ratepayers. Dublin, with property amounting to L20,000 a year and old-established Royal bounties, owes nearly twice as much as Belfast, which latter city spends more on what may be called the advance of civilisation. In 1892 Belfast spent L8,000 on a public park—Government providing for this matter in Dublin—L5,686 on public libraries, and L4,100 on baths and workhouses, against L1,217 and L1,627 for like purposes in Dublin. "Therefore," say the Belfast men, "we will not have our affairs managed by these incompetent men, who, besides their demonstrated incapacity to deal with finance, are dependent for their position on the illiterates of the agricultural districts, who are to a man under the thumb of the priests, and who, moreover, have shown that their rapacity is equal to their lack of integrity, and whose leading doctrine is the repudiation of lawful contracts," a point on which commercial Ulster is excessively severe. One thing is certain—Ulster will never pay taxes levied by an Irish Legislature in which Ulster would be utterly swamped. All classes are of this opinion, from the Earl of Ranfurly, who during a long interview repeatedly expressed his conviction that the passing of any Home Rule Bill would be fraught with most lamentable results, to the humble trimmer of a suburban hedge who, having admitted that he was from the county Roscommon, and (therefore) a Catholic Home Ruler, claimed to know the Ulster temper in virtue of 28 years' residence in or near Belfast, and said—
"What they say they mane, an' the divil himself wouldn't tur-r-n thim. Ah, but they're a har-r-d-timpered breed, ivery mother's son o' them. Ye can comether (gammon) a Roscommon man, but a Bilfast man, whillaloo!" He stopped in sheer despair of finding words to express the futility of attempting to take in a Belfast man. "An' whin ye ax thim for taxes, an' they say they won't pay—ye might jist as well whistle jigs to a milestone! 'Tis thrue what I tell ye."
As for to-day, the magnificence of the pageant beggars description. Whether regarded from a scenic point of view or with respect to numbers and enthusiasm, never since Belfast was Belfast has the city looked upon a sight approaching it. From early morning brass bands and fife bands commenced to enter the city from every point of the compass, and wherever you turned the air resounded with the inspiring rattle of the drum. Monday's display of bunting was sufficiently lavish to suggest the impossibility of exhibiting any more, but the Belfasters accomplished the feat, and the bright sunshine on the brilliant colours of the myriad banners was strongly reminiscent of Paris en fete under the Empire. The Belfast streets are long, straight, and wide, and mostly intersect at right angles. Much of the concourse was thus visible from any moderate coign of vantage, and from the Grand Stand in Donegal Place the sight was truly wonderful. The vast space, right, left, and front, was from 10 o'clock closely packed with a mighty multitude that no man could number, and locomotion became every moment so painful as to threaten total stagnation. The crowd was eminently respectable and perfectly orderly, and submitted to the passage of innumerable musical organisations with charming good humour. Never have I seen or heard of such an assemblage of bands, all uniformed, all preceded by gorgeous banners bearing all kinds of loyal and party mottoes, all marching in splendid military fashion, and of themselves numerous enough to furnish a very considerable demonstration. Many of the tunes were of a decidedly martial character, and strange to English ears, such as the "Boyne Water," the "Orange Lily" and the "Protestant Boys," the last being a version of the "Lillibulero" so often mentioned by Scott. All these tunes, more or less distasteful to Nationalists, were interspersed with others less debatable, such as "Rule Britannia," "The Old Folks at Home," "The Last Rose of Summer," "God Save the Queen," and "See the Conquering Hero comes," which last generally accompanied the portrait of Orange William, the "Glorious, Pious, and Immortal," mounted on his famous white charger, which noble animal is depicted in the attitude erroneously believed to be peculiar to that of Bonaparte when crossing the Alps. The Earl of Beaconsfield was also to the fore with primroses galore; indeed, the favourite flower was invariably worn by the ladies, who were greatly in evidence. "Our God, our Country, and our Empire" was the motto over Mr. Balfour, with a huge "Welcome" in white on scarlet ground, the whole surrounded by immense Union Jacks. The familiar red, white, and blue bore the brunt of the decorative responsibilities, although here and there the green flag of Ireland hung cheek by jowl with the English standard, emphasising the friendliness of the present Union. As time went on the crowd became more and more dense, and a breathless pressman, who reached his post at twelve o'clock, stated that the seething myriads of Donegal Place and the adjacent streets were "hardly a circumstance" to what he had seen in the York Road, where the people awaited the hero of the hour. Things were getting serious at 12.15, and then it was that the active members of the crowd swarmed on the railings, balancing themselves in most uncomfortable situations, and maintaining their spiky seats with a tenacious martyrdom which spoke volumes for the determination of the Ulster character.
On and ever on went the bands in seemingly endless procession, although merely assembling for the great march past, and therefore only a fraction of the impending multitude. Some enterprising men climbed the trees bordering the square, driving away the little flocks of sparrows which till then had conducted a noisy committee meeting in the branches, heedless of the drumming and general uproar, but which now dispersed without so much as a vote of thanks to the chair. At 12.30 a foam of white faces broke over the roofs of the lofty buildings around, protected by stone balustrades. At the same moment a shout of "They are coming" was heard, followed fey a thunderous roar of cheering. Mr. Balfour slowly emerged from York Road, amid immense acclamation, his carriage, piloted by the Corporation, moving inch by inch through the solid mass with inconceivable difficulty. Over and over again the line of vehicles stopped dead, and it was clear that the horses had much trouble to maintain their gravity. As the carriage with Sir Daniel Dixon (the Lord Mayor of Belfast), Sir Samuel Black (Town Clerk), and Lord Londonderry neared the Grand Stand, the pressmen agreed that nothing equal to this demonstration had ever before been held within the British Islands. Mr. Balfour having gained the platform the procession proper commenced, headed by the banner of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, while the people broke into a chorus, asserting that Britons never, never shall be slaves.
This at 12.35 precisely. Next came the Belfast Water Commissioners, the Belfast Board of Guardians, the provincial Corporate bodies, and the provincial Boards of Guardians. A tremendous tumult of voices accompanied all these, but when the Trinity College graduates arrived the din became overpowering. Their standard was halted opposite Mr. Balfour, and the young fellows burst into wild and uncontrollable enthusiasm. The medical students of Queen's College, Belfast, with the alumni of the Methodist and Presbyterian College succeeding, gave "God Save the Queen" with great vigour, and came in a close second; but nothing quite touched the Trinity College men. The Scottish Unionist clubs, a fine body, two thousand strong, confirmed the statement that Scots who understand the situation are against Home Rule. Most of these men work in the shipbuilding yards of Belfast. The Belfast Unionist Clubs and the Provincial Unionist Clubs were, of course, heartily greeted, returning the applause with interest, and the Independent Order of Rechabites showed that their alleged exclusive partiality for cold water had not diminished their lung power. The British Order of Ancient Free Gardeners, the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds, and the Independent Order of Oddfellows reminded the Brutal Saxon who might be present of his native shore, the men being of the familiar sturdy type, marching in dense columns, all gloriously arrayed. There was none of the artful spreading over the ground which I observed in the great Birmingham demonstration which was to "end or mend" the Lords; and another point of divergency consists in the fact that the Belfast demonstration, which was incomparably larger, was perfectly spontaneous, and not due to organisation.