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Title: John Redmond's Last Years
Author: Gwynn, Stephen Lucius, 1864-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[All rights reserved]


In writing this book, I have had access to my late leader's papers for
the period beginning with the war. These were placed at my disposal by
his son, Major William Archer Redmond, D.S.O., M.P. I had also the
consent of Mrs. Redmond to my undertaking the task. But for the book and
for the opinions expressed in it I am solely responsible. No condition
having been imposed upon me, it seemed best, for many reasons, that it
should be written, as it has been written, without consultation.

A writer in whom such a trust has been placed may well be at a loss how
to express his gratitude, but can never convey the measure of his
anxiety. From those who cherish Redmond's memory, and especially from
those who were nearest to him in comradeship and affection, I must only
crave the indulgence which should be accorded to sincere effort.
Differences of interpretation there will be in any review of past
events, and others can claim with justice that on many points they were
better situated for full understanding than was I. Yet for the period
which is specially studied, if there is failure in comprehension it
cannot be excused by lack of opportunity to be thoroughly informed.

To readers at large I would say this--that if any sentence in these
pages be uncandid or ungenerous, it is most unworthy to be found in the
record of such a man.



CHAPTER                                      PAGE

I. INTRODUCTORY                                 1

II. REDMOND AS CHAIRMAN                        23

III. THE HOME RULE BILL OF 1912                62


V. WAR IN EUROPE                              126




INDEX                                         343

PORTRAIT OF JOHN REDMOND      _Frontispiece_





The time has not yet come to write the biography of John Redmond. Not
until the history of the pledge-bound Irish Parliamentary party can be
treated freely, fully and impartially as a chapter closed and ended will
it be possible to record in detail the life of a man who was associated
with it almost from its beginning and who from the opening of this
century guided it with almost growing authority to the statutory
accomplishment of its desperate task; who knew, in it and for it, all
vicissitudes of fortune and who gave to it without stint or reservation
his whole life's energy from earliest manhood to the grave.

But when the war came, unforeseen, shifting all political balances,
transmuting the greatest political issues, especially those of which the
Irish question is a type, it imposed upon men and upon nations, but
above all on the leaders of nations, swift and momentous decisions.
Because that critical hour presented to Redmond's vision a great
opportunity which he must either seize single-handed or let it for ever
pass by; because he rose to the height of the occasion with the courage
which counts upon and commands success; because he sought by his own
motion to swing the whole mass and weight of a nation's feeling into a
new direction--for all these reasons his last years were different in
kind from any that had gone before; and as such they admit of and demand
separate study. Intelligent comprehension of what he aimed at, what he
achieved, and what forces defeated him in these last years of his life
is urgently needed, not for the sake of his memory, but for Ireland's
sake; because until his policy is understood there is little chance that
Irishmen should attain what he aspired to win for Ireland--the strength
and dignity of a free and united nation.

It is of Redmond's policy for Ireland in relation to the war, and to the
events which in Ireland arose out of the war, that this book is mainly
designed to treat. Yet to make that policy intelligible some history is
needed of the startling series of political developments which the war
interrupted but did not terminate--and which, though still recent, are
blurred in public memory by all that has intervened. Further back still,
a brief review of his early career must be given, not only to set the
man's figure in relation to his environment, but to show that this final
phase was in reality no new departure, no break with his past, but a
true though a divergent evolution from all that had gone before.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ireland, although so small in extent and population, is none the less a
country of many and locally varying racial strains; and John Redmond
sprang from one of the most typical. He was a Wexfordman; that is to
say, he came from the part of Ireland where if you cross the Channel
there is least difference between the land you leave and the land you
sail to; where the sea-divided peoples have been always to some extent
assimilated. Here in the twelfth century the first Norman-Welsh invaders
came across. The leader of their first party, Raymond Le Gros, landed at
a point between Wexford and Waterford; the town of Wexford was his
first capture; and where he began his conquest he settled. From this
stock the Redmond name and line descend.

Thus John Redmond came from an invading strain in which Norman and Celt
were already blended; and he grew up in a country thickly settled with
men whose ancestors came along with his from across the water. Till a
century ago the barony of Forth retained a dialect of its own which was
in effect such English as men spoke before Chaucer began to write; and
even to-day in any Wexford fair or market you will see among the strong,
well-nourished, prosperous farmers many faces and figures which an
artist might easily assimilate to an athletic example of the traditional
John Bull. Redmond himself, hawk-faced and thick-bodied, might have been
taken for no bad reincarnation of Raymond Le Gros. To this extent he was
less of a Celt than many of his countrymen; but he was assuredly none
the less Irish because he was a Wexfordman. The county of his birth was
the county which had made the greatest resistance to English power in
Ireland since Sarsfield and his "Wild Geese" crossed to Flanders. Born
in 1857, he grew up in a country-side full of memories of events then
only some sixty years old; he knew and spoke with many men who had been
out with pike or fowling-piece in 1798. Rebel was to him from boyhood up
a name of honour; and this was not only a phase of boyish enthusiasm. In
his mature manhood, speaking as leader of the Irish party, he told the
House of Commons plainly that in his deliberate judgment Ireland's
situation justified an appeal to arms, and that if rebellion offered a
reasonable prospect of gaining freedom for a united Ireland he would
counsel rebellion on the instant.

But if he was always and admittedly a potential rebel, no man was ever
less a revolutionary. As much a constitutionalist as Hampden or
Washington, he was so by temperament and by inheritance. The tradition
of parliamentary service had been in his family for two generations.
Two years after his birth his great-uncle, John Edward Redmond, from
whom he got his baptismal names, was elected unopposed as Liberal member
for the borough of Wexford, where his statue stands in the market-place,
commemorating good service rendered. Much of the rich flat land which
lies along the railway from Wexford to Rosslare Harbour was reclaimed by
this Redmond's enterprise from tidal slob. On his death in 1872 the seat
passed to his nephew William Archer Redmond, whose two sons were John
and William Redmond, with whom this book deals. Thus the present Major
William Archer Redmond, M.P., represents four continuous generations of
the same family sent to Westminster among the representatives of
Nationalist Ireland.

Not often is a family type so strongly marked as among the men of this
stock. But the portraits show that while the late Major "Willie" Redmond
closely resembled his father, in John Redmond and John Redmond's son
there were reproduced the more dominant and massive features of the
first of the parliamentary line.

To sum up then, John Redmond and his brother came of a long strain of
Catholic gentry who were linked by continuous historic association of
over seven centuries to a certain district in South Leinster, and who
retained leadership among their own people. The tradition of military
service was strong, too, in this family. Their father's cousin, son to
the original John Edward Redmond, was a professional soldier; and their
mother was the daughter of General Hoey. They were brought up in an
old-fashioned country house, Ballytrent, on the Wexford coast, and the
habits of outdoor country life and sport which furnished the chief
pleasure of their lives were formed in boyhood. Their upbringing
differed from that of boys in thousands of similar country houses
throughout Ireland only in one circumstance; they were Catholics, and
even so lately as in their boyhood Catholic land-owners were
comparatively few.

John Redmond was four years older than his younger brother, born in
1861. He got his schooling under the Jesuits at Clongowes in early days,
before the system of Government endowment by examination results had
given incentive to cramming. According to his own account he did little
work and nobody pressed him to exertion. But the Jesuits are skilful
teachers, and they left a mark on his mind. It is scarcely chance that
the two speakers of all I have heard who had the best delivery were
pupils of theirs--Redmond and Sir William Butler. They taught him to
write, they taught him to speak and to declaim, they encouraged his
natural love of literature. His taste was formed in those days and it
was curiously old-fashioned. His diction in a prepared oration might
have come from the days of Grattan: and he maintained the old-fashioned
habit of quotation. No poetry written later than Byron, Moore and
Shelley made much appeal to him, save the Irish political ballads. But
scarcely any English speaker quoted Shakespeare in public so often or so
aptly as this Irishman.

From Clongowes he went to Trinity College, Dublin, where he matriculated
in October 1874 at the age of seventeen. His academic studies seem to
have been half-hearted. At the end of a year his name was taken off the
College books by his father, but was replaced. At the close of his
second year of study, in July 1876, it was removed again and for good.

But apart from what he learnt at school, his real education was an
apprenticeship; he was trained in the House of Commons for the work of
Parliament. He was a boy of fifteen, of an age to be keenly interested,
when the representation of Wexford passed from his great-uncle to his
father. Probably the reason why he was removed from Trinity College was
the desire of Mr. William Redmond to have his son with him in London.
Certainly John Redmond was there during the session of 1876, for on the
introduction of Mr. Gladstone's second Home Rule Bill he recalled a
finely apposite Shakespearean quotation which he had heard Butt use in a
Home Rule debate of that year. In May 1880 his father procured him a
clerkship in the House. The post to which he was assigned was that of
attendant in the Vote Office, so that his days (and a great part of his
nights) were spent in the two little rooms which open off the Members'
Lobby, that buzzing centre of parliamentary gossip, activity and
intrigue. Half a dozen steps only separated him from the door of the
Chamber itself, and that door he was always privileged to pass and
listen to the debates, standing by the entrance outside the magical
strip of matting which indicates the bar of the House. From this point
of vantage he watched the first stages of a Parliament in which Mr,
Gladstone set out with so triumphant a majority--and watched too the
inroads made upon the power and prestige of that majority by the new
parliamentary force which had come into being.

Redmond himself described thus (in a lecture delivered at New York in
1896) the policy which came to be known as "The New Departure":

     "Mr. Parnell found that the British Parliament insisted upon
     turning a deaf ear to Ireland's claim for justice. He resolved to
     adopt the simple yet masterly device of preventing Parliament doing
     any work at all until it consented to hear."

In the task of systematic and continuous obstruction Parnell at once
found a ready helper, Mr. Joseph Biggar. But Parnell, Biggar and those
who from 1876 to 1880 acted generally or frequently with them were only
members of the body led by Butt; though they were, indeed, ultimately in
more or less open revolt against Butt's leadership. When Butt died, and
was at least nominally replaced by Mr. Shaw, the growth of Parnell's
ascendancy became more marked. In the general election of 1880 sixty
Home Rulers were returned to Parliament; and at a meeting attended by
over forty, twenty-three declared for Parnell as their leader. A
question almost of ceremonial observance immediately defined the issue.
Liberals were in power, and Government was more friendly to Ireland's
claims than was the Opposition. Mr. Shaw and his adherents were for
marking support of the Government by sitting on the Government side of
the Chamber. Parnell insisted that the Irish party should be independent
of all English attachments and permanently in opposition till Ireland
received its rights. With that view he and his friends took up their
station on the Speaker's left below the gangway, where they held it
continuously for thirty-nine years.

Mr. William Redmond was no supporter of the new policy. As the little
group which Parnell headed grew more and more insistent in their
obstruction, the member for Wexford spoke less and less. His
interventions were rare and dignified. In the debate on the Address in
the new Parliament of 1880 he acted as a lieutenant to Mr. Shaw. Yet he
was on very friendly terms with Parnell--almost a neighbour of his, for
the Parnell property, lying about the Vale of Ovoca, touched the border
of Wexford.

Mr. William Redmond's career in that Parliament was soon ended. In
November 1880 he died, and, normally, his son, whose qualifications and
ambitions were known, would have succeeded him. But collision between
Government and the Parnellite party was already beginning. Mr. T.M.
Healy, then Parnell's secretary, had been arrested for a speech in
denunciation of some eviction proceedings. This was the first arrest of
a prominent man under Mr. Forster's rule as Chief Secretary, and
Parnell, with whom in those days the decision rested, decided that Mr.
Healy should immediately be put forward for the vacant seat. In later
days he was to remind Mr. Healy how he had done this, "rebuking and
restraining the prior right of my friend, Jack Redmond." Redmond had not
long to wait, however. Another vacancy occurred in another Wexford seat,
the ancient borough of New Ross, and he was returned without opposition
at a crucial moment in the parliamentary struggle.

That struggle was not only parliamentary. From the famine year of 1879
onwards a fierce agitation had begun, whose purpose was to secure the
land of Ireland to the people who worked it. Davitt was to the land what
Parnell was to the parliamentary campaign: but it was Parnell's genius
which fused the two movements.

To meet the growing power of the Land League, Mr. Forster demanded a
Coercion Bill, and after long struggles in the Cabinet he prevailed.
Against this Bill it was obvious that all means of parliamentary
resistance would be used to the uttermost.

They were still of a primitive simplicity. In the days before Parnell
the House of Commons had carried on its business under a system of rules
which worked perfectly well because there was a general disposition in
the assembly to get business done. A beginning of the new order was made
when a group of ex-military men attempted to defeat the measure for
abolishing purchase of commissions in the Army by a series of dilatory
motions. This, however, was an isolated occurrence. Any English member
who set himself to thwart the desire of the House for a conclusion by
using means which the general body considered unfair would have been
reduced to quiescence by a demonstration that he was considered a
nuisance. His voice would have been drowned in a buzz of conversation or
by less civil interruptions. This implied, however, a willingness to be
influenced by social considerations, and, more than that, a loyalty to
the traditions and purposes of the House. Parnell felt no such
willingness and acknowledged no such loyalty.

"His object," said Redmond in the address already quoted, "was to injure
it so long as it refused to listen to the just claims of his country."
The House, realizing Parnell's intention, visited upon him and his
associates all the penalties by which it was wont to enforce its wishes:
but the penalties had no sting. All the displays of anger, disapproval,
contempt, all the vocabulary of denunciation in debate and in the Press,
all the studied forms of insult, all the marks of social displeasure,
only served to convince the Irishmen that they were producing their
effect. Still, the House continued to act on the assumption that it
could vindicate its traditions in the old traditional way: it was
determined to change none of the rules which had stood for so many
generations: it would maintain its liberties and put down in its own way
those who had the impertinence to abuse them. The breaking-point came
exactly at the moment when Redmond was elected.

On Monday, Jan. 24th, 1881, Mr. Forster introduced his Coercion Bill. It
was open, of course, to any member to speak once, and once only, on the
main motion. But every member had an indefinite right to move the
adjournment of the debate, and on each such motion every member could
speak again. The debate was carried all through that week. It was
resumed on Monday, 31st. The declaration of Redmond's election was fixed
for Tuesday, February 1st, in New Ross--there being no contest. A
telegram summoned him to come instantly after the declaration to London.
He took the train at noon, travelled to Dublin and crossed the Channel.
At Holyhead about midnight another telegram told him that the debate was
still proceeding. He reached Euston on the Wednesday morning, drove
straight to the House, and there, standing at the bar, saw what he thus

     "It was thus, travel-stained and weary, that I first presented
     myself as a member of the British Parliament. The House was still
     sitting, it had been sitting without a break for over forty hours,
     and I shall never forget the appearance the Chamber presented. The
     floor was littered with paper. A few dishevelled and weary Irishmen
     were on one side of the House, about a hundred infuriated
     Englishmen upon the other; some of them still in evening dress, and
     wearing what were once white shirts of the night before last. Mr.
     Parnell was upon his legs, with pale cheeks and drawn face, his
     hands clenched behind his back, facing without flinching a
     continuous roar of interruption. It was now about eight o'clock.
     Half of Mr. Parnell's followers were out of the Chamber snatching a
     few moments' sleep in chairs in the Library or Smoke Room. Those
     who remained had each a specified period of time allotted him to
     speak, and they were wearily waiting their turn. As they caught
     sight of me standing at the bar of the House of Commons there was a
     cheer of welcome. I was unable to come to their aid, however, as
     under the rules of the House I could not take my seat until the
     commencement of a new sitting. My very presence, however, brought,
     I think, a sense of encouragement and approaching relief to them;
     and I stood there at the bar with my travelling coat still upon me,
     gazing alternately with indignation and admiration at the amazing
     scene presented to my gaze.

     "This, then, was the great Parliament of England! Of intelligent
     debate there was none. It was one unbroken scene of turbulence and
     disorder. The few Irishmen remained quiet, too much amused,
     perhaps, or too much exhausted to retaliate. It was the
     English--the members of the first assembly of gentlemen in Europe,
     as they love to style it--who howled and roared, and almost foamed
     at the mouth with rage at the calm and pale-featured young man who
     stood patiently facing them and endeavouring to make himself

An hour later the closure was applied, for the first time in
Parliament's history. The records of Hansard spoil a story which Redmond
was fond of telling--that he took his oath and his seat, made his maiden
speech and was suspended all in the same evening. In point of fact he
took his seat that Wednesday afternoon, when the House sat for a few
hours only and adjourned again. Next day news came in that Davitt had
been arrested in Ireland. Mr. Dillon, in the process of endeavouring to
extract an explanation from the Government, was named and suspended.
When the Prime Minister after this rose to speak, Mr. Parnell moved:
"That Mr. Gladstone be not heard."

The Speaker, ruling that Mr. Gladstone was in possession of the House,
refused to put the motion. Mr. Parnell, insisting that his motion should
be put, came into collision with the authority of the Chair and was
formally "named." Mr. Gladstone then moved his suspension and a division
was called--whereupon, under the rules which then existed, all members
were bound to leave the Chamber. On this occasion the Irish members
remained seated, as a protest, and after the division the Speaker
solemnly reported this breach of order to the House. For their refusal
to obey the Irish members present were suspended from the service of the
House, and as a body they refused to leave unless removed by physical
force. Accordingly, man by man was ordered to leave and each in turn
rose up with a brief phrase of refusal, after which the Sergeant-at-Arms
with an officer approached and laid a hand on the recusant's shoulder.
Redmond, when his turn came, said:

"As I regard the whole of these proceedings as unmitigated despotism, I
beg respectfully to decline to withdraw."

That was his maiden speech. Having delivered it, "Mr. Redmond," says
Hansard, "was by desire of Mr. Speaker removed by the Sergeant-at-Arms
from the House." It was a strange beginning for one of the greatest
parliamentarians of our epoch--and one of the greatest conservatives.
The whole bent of his mind was towards moderation in all things.
Temperamentally, he hated all forms of extravagant eccentricity; he
loved the old if only because it was old; he had the keenest sense not
only of decorum but of the essential dignity which is the best guardian
of order. Yet here he was committed to a policy which aimed deliberately
at outraging all the established decencies--at disregarding
ostentatiously all the usages by which an assembly of gentlemen had
regulated their proceedings.

What is more, it was an assembly which Redmond found temperamentally
congenial to him--an assembly which, apart from its relation to Ireland,
he thoroughly admired and liked. In 1896, when Irish members were
fiercely in opposition to the Government, he concluded his description
of Parliament with these words:

     "In the main, the House of Commons is, I believe, dominated by a
     rough-and-ready sense of manliness and fair-play. Of course, I am
     not speaking of it as a governing body. In that character it has
     been towards Ireland always ignorant and nearly always unfair. I am
     treating it simply as an assembly of men, and I say of it, it is a
     body where sooner or later every man finds his proper level, where
     mediocrity and insincerity will never permanently succeed, and
     where ability and honesty of purpose will never permanently fail."

That was no mean tribute, coming from one who held himself aloof from
all the personal advantages belonging to the society whose rules he did
not recognize. The opinion to which the Irish members of Parnell's
following were amenable was not made at Westminster; it did not exist
there--except, and that in its most rigid form, amongst themselves.

It is worth while to recall for English readers--and perhaps not for
them only--what membership of Parnell's party involved. In the first
place, there was a self-denying ordinance by which the man elected to it
bound himself to accept no post of any kind under Government. All the
chances which election to Parliament opens to most men--and especially
to men of the legal profession--were at once set aside. Absolute
discipline and unity of action, except in matters specially left open to
individual judgment, were enforced on all. These were the essentials.
But in the period of acute war between the Irish and all other parties
which was opening when Redmond entered there was a self-imposed rule
that as the English public and English members disapproved and disliked
the Irishmen an answering attitude should be adopted: that even private
hospitality should be avoided and that the belligerents should behave as
if they were quite literally in an enemy's country.

Later, when Mr. Gladstone had adopted the Irish cause and alliance with
the Liberal party had begun, the rigour of this attitude was modified.
Many Irish members joined the Liberal clubs and went freely to houses
where they were sure of sympathy. Yet neither of the Redmonds followed
far in this direction, and the habit of social isolation which they
formed in their early days lasted with them to the end. If John Redmond
ever went to any house in London which was not an Irish home it was by
the rarest exception.

For society, Parnell's party depended on themselves and their countrymen
and sympathizers. But they were in no way to be pitied; they were the
best of company for one another. It was a movement of the young, it had
all the strength and audacity of youth, it was a great adventure. A few
men from an older generation came with them, Mr. Biggar, Justin McCarthy
and others. But their leader, though older than most of his followers,
was a young man by parliamentary standards. In 1880 Parnell was only
thirty-three; and within four years more he was as great a power in the
House as Mr. Gladstone. Some few years back I heard Willie Redmond say
in the Members' smoking-room, "Isn't it strange to think that Parnell
would be sixty now if he had lived. I can't imagine him as an old man."
Yet the accent of maturity was on Parnell's leadership; the men whom he
led were essentially young. In 1881, when Redmond entered Parliament,
Mr. Dillon was thirty, Mr. T.P. O'Connor and Mr. Sexton veterans of
thirty-three, Mr. Healy twenty-six. Mr. William O'Brien (who did not
come in until 1883) was of the same year as Mr. Dillon. Redmond was
younger than any of them, being elected at the age of twenty-four. Yet
nobody then thought it surprising that he should be sent in 1882 to
represent the party on a mission to Australia and the United States at a
most difficult time. The Phoenix Park murders had created widespread
indiscriminating anger against all Irish Nationalists throughout the
Empire, and Redmond found it difficult to secure even a hall to speak
in. For support there was sent to him his brother, then a youth of
twenty-one, and feeling ran so strong against the two that the Prime
Minister of New South Wales (Sir Henry Parkes) proposed their expulsion
from the colony. Nevertheless, Redmond made good. "The Irish working-men
stood by me," he said, "and in fact saved the situation." Fifteen
thousand pounds were collected before they left the island continent.

It indicates well the changed conditions to remember that when in 1906
Mr. Hazleton and the late T.M. Kettle were selected to go on a far less
arduous and difficult mission to America, there was much talk about the
astonishing youth of our representatives. Yet both were then older than
John Redmond was in 1882--to say nothing of his brother, who must have
been the most exuberantly youthful spokesman that a serious cause ever

The Redmonds' stay in Australia, which lasted over a year, determined
one important matter for both young men; they found their wives in the
colony whose Prime Minister proposed to expel them. John Redmond married
Miss Joanna Dalton and his brother her near kinswoman, Miss Eleanor
Dalton. Willie Redmond was elected to Parliament in his absence for his
father's old seat--Mr. Healy having vacated Wexford to fight and win a
sensational election in county Monaghan.

This early visit to the great transmarine dominions, and the ties which
he formed there, left a marked impression on John Redmond's mind, which
was reinforced by other visits in later years, and by all the growing
associations that linked him to life and politics in the dominions.
Redmond knew vastly more, and in truth cared vastly more, about the
British Empire than most Imperialists. His affection was not based on
any inherited prejudice, nor inspired by a mere geographical idea. He
was attracted to that which he had seen and handled, in whose making he
had watched so many of his fellow-countrymen fruitfully and honourably
busy. He felt acutely that the Empire belonged to Irish Nationalists at
least as much as to English Tories. America also was familiar to him,
and he had every cause to be grateful to the United States; but his
interest in the dominions was of a different kind. He felt himself a
partner in their glories, and by this feeling he was linked in sympathy
to a great many elements in British life that were otherwise uncongenial
to him--and was, on the other hand, divided in sympathy from some who in
Irish politics were his staunch supporters. He could never understand
the psychology of the Little Englander. "If I were an Englishman," he
once said to me, "I should be the greatest Imperialist living." From
first to last his attitude was that which is indicated by a passage of
his speech on Mr. Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill:

     "As a Nationalist, I may say I do not regard as entirely palatable
     the idea that for ever and a day Ireland's voice should be excluded
     from the councils of an Empire which the genius and valour of her
     sons have done so much to build up and of which she is to remain a


To follow in detail Redmond's career under Parnell's leadership would be
beyond the scope of this book. Less conspicuous in Parliament than such
lieutenants of "the Chief" as Mr. Sexton, Mr. Dillon and Mr. Healy, John
Redmond acted as one of the party whips and was in much demand outside
Parliament as a platform speaker. In August 1886 he was once more sent
overseas to attend the Convention of the Irish Race at Chicago. He had
to tell his hearers of victory and of repulse.

     "When you last assembled in Convention, two years ago, the Irish
     party in Parliament did not number more than forty; to-day we hold
     five-sixths of the Irish seats, and speak in the name of
     five-sixths of the Irish people in Ireland. Two years ago we had
     arrayed against us all English political parties and every English
     statesman; to-day we have on our side one of the great English
     political parties, which, though its past traditions in Ireland
     have been evil, still represents the party of progress in England,
     and the greatest statesman of the day, who has staked his all upon
     winning for Ireland her national rights. Two years ago England had
     in truth, in Mitchel's phrase, the ear of the world. To-day, at
     last, that ear, so long poisoned with calumnies of our people, is
     now open to the voice of Ireland. Two years ago the public opinion
     of the world--aye, and even of this free land of America--was
     doubtful as to the justice of our movement; to-day the opinion of
     the civilized world, and of America in particular, is clearly and
     distinctly on our side."

On the other hand, in England the forces of reaction had succeeded. The
Home Rule Bill had been defeated and the Liberal party broken up. A
Government was in power whose programme was one of coercion. But
Ireland, Redmond said, was ready for the fight and confident that with
the weapons at command the enemy could be defeated.

Who were the enemy, and what the weapon? His speech made this plain.

     "Once more Irish landlords have behaved themselves with
     unaccountable folly and stupidity. They have once more stood
     between Ireland and her freedom, and have refused even an
     extravagant price for the land because the offer was coupled with
     the concession of an Irish Parliament. So be it. I believe the last
     offer has been made to Irish landlordism. The ultimate settlement
     of this question must now be reserved for the Parliament of
     Ireland, and meantime the people must take care to protect
     themselves and their children. In many parts of Ireland, I assert,
     rent is to-day an impossibility, and in every part of Ireland the
     rents demanded are exorbitant, and will not, and cannot, be paid."

He was wrong. The settlement of this vast question was to be
accomplished through the Imperial Parliament, not the Irish. Yet it was
accomplished in essence by an agreement between Irishmen for which
Redmond himself was largely responsible.

That settlement, however, merely ratified in 1903 the final stage in the
conversion of both countries to Parnell's policy of State-aided land
purchase. Tentative beginnings were made with it under the Government
which was in power from 1886 to 1892; but the main characteristic of
this period was a fierce revival of the land war. It was virulent in
Wexford, and in 1888 Redmond shared the experience which few Irish
members escaped or desired to escape; he was sentenced to imprisonment
on a charge of intimidation for a speech condemning some evictions. He
and his brother met in Wexford jail, and both used to describe with glee
their mutual salutation: "Good heavens, what a ruffian you look!"
Cropped hair and convict clothes were part of Mr. Balfour's resolute

Yet in those days Ireland was winning, and winning fast. Mr. Gladstone's
personal ascendancy, never stronger than in the wonderful effort of his
old age, asserted itself more and more. Public sympathy in Great Britain
was turning against the wholesale evictions, the knocking down of
peasants' houses by police and military with battering-rams. The Tory
party sought for a new political weapon, and one day _The Times_ came
out with the facsimile of what purported to be a letter in Parnell's
hand. This document implied at least condonation of the Phoenix Park

Other letters equally incriminating were published. Parnell denied the
authorship, his denial was not accepted; fierce controversy ended in the
establishment of one of the strangest Commissions of Enquiry ever set
up--a semi-judicial tribunal of judges. Its proceedings created the
acutest public interest, drawn out over long months, up to the day when
Sir Charles Russell had before him in the witness-box the original
vendor of the letters--one Pigott. Pigott's collapse, confession of
forgery, flight and suicide, followed with appalling swiftness: and the
result was to generate through England a very strong sympathy for the
man against whom, and against whose followers, such desperate calumnies
had been uttered and exploited. Parnell's prestige was no longer
confined to his own countrymen: and the sense of all Home Rulers was
that they fought a winning battle, under two allied leaders of
extraordinary personal gifts.

Then, as soon as it was clear that the attack of the Pigott letters had
recoiled on those who launched it, came the indication of a fresh
menace. Proceedings for divorce were taken with Parnell as the
co-respondent: the case was undefended. Mr. Gladstone and probably most
Englishmen expected that Parnell would retire, at all events
temporarily, from public life, as, in Lord Morley's words, "any English
politician of his rank" would have been obliged to do. Parnell refused
to retire; and Gladstone made it publicly known that if Parnell
continued to lead the Irish party, his own leadership of the Liberal
party, "based, as it had been, mainly on the prosecution of the Irish
cause," would be rendered "almost a nullity." The choice--for it was a
choice--was left to the Irish. To retain Parnell as leader in
Gladstone's judgment made Gladstone's task impossible, and therefore
indicated Gladstone's withdrawal from public life. To part with Parnell
meant parting with the ablest leader that Nationalist Ireland had ever

A more heartrending alternative has never been imposed on any body of
politicians, and John Redmond, unlike his younger brother, was not of
those to whom decision came by an instinctive act of allegiance. His
nature forced him to see both sides, but when he decided it was with his
whole nature. The issue was debated by the Irish party in Committee Room
15 of the House of Commons, with the Press in attendance. In this
encounter Redmond for the first time stepped to the front. He had
hitherto been outside the first flight of Irish parliamentarians. Now,
he was the first to state the case for maintaining Parnell's leadership,
and throughout the discussions he led on that side. When Parnell's death
came a few months after the "split" declared itself, there was no
hesitation as to which of the Parnellites should assume the leadership
of their party. Redmond resigned his seat in North Wexford and contested
Cork city, where Parnell had long been member. He was badly beaten, and
for some three months the new leader of the Parnellites was without a
seat in the House--though not during a session. Another death made a new
opening, and in December 1891 his fight at Waterford against no less a
man than Michael Davitt turned for a moment the electoral tide which was
setting heavily against the smaller group. It was a notable win, and the
hero of that triumph retained his hold on the loyalty of those with whom
he won it when the rest of Ireland had turned away from him. The tie
lasted to his death--and after it, for Waterford then chose as its
representative the dead leader's son, and renewed that choice in the
general election of 1918, when other allegiances to the old party were
like leaves on the wind.

Other ties were formed in these years, which lasted through Redmond's
life. I have deliberately abstained from entering into either the merits
or the details of the "split." But certain of its aspects must be
recognized. In the division into Parnellites and Anti-Parnellites,
Parnellites were a small but fierce minority. It needed resolution for a
man to be a Parnellite, all the more because the whole force of the
Catholic Church was thrown against them, and in some instances
disgraceful methods were used. One of Redmond's best friends was the
owner of a local newspaper; it was declared to be a mortal sin to buy,
sell, or read his journal. The business was reduced to the verge of ruin
but the man went on, till a new bishop came and gradually things mended.
He, like Redmond, was a staunch practising Catholic, and later on was
the friend and trusted associate of many priests; but he stood for an
element in Ireland which refused to allow the least usurpation by
ecclesiastical authority in the sphere of citizenship.

Willie Redmond won East Clare, as his brother won Waterford city, after
a turbulent election with the priests against him. He gave in that
contest, as always, at least as good as he got; but his collision with
individuals never affected his devotion or his brother's to their

But in social life the estrangements of these days were far-reaching,
and, at least negatively, so far as Redmond was concerned, they were
lasting. His existence had been saddened and altered shortly before the
break up by the death of his first wife, which left him a young widower
with three children. After the "split" the whole circle of friends among
whom he had lived in Dublin and in London was shattered and divided; and
in later life none, I think, of those broken intimacies was renewed.

In Redmond's nature there was a total lack of rancour. Clear-sighted as
he was, he realized how desperately difficult a choice was imposed on
Nationalists by Parnell's situation, and he knew how honestly men had
differed. He could command completely his intellectual judgment of their
action, and there were many whom in later stages of the movement he
trusted none the less for their divergence from him at this crisis. But
he was more than commonly a creature of instinct; and the associations
of his intimate life were all decided in these years. His affection was
given to those who were comrades in this pass of danger. The only two
exceptions to be made are, first and chiefly, Mr. Devlin, who was too
young to be actively concerned with politics at the time of Parnell's
overthrow; and, to speak truth, it is not possible to be so closely
associated as Redmond was with this lieutenant of his, or to be so long
and loyally served by him, and not to undergo his personal attraction.
The other exception is Mr. J.J. Mooney, who entered Parliament and
politics later than the "split," but whose personal allegiance to Mr.
Redmond was always declared. He acted for long as Redmond's secretary
and always as his counsellor--for in all the detail of parliamentary
business, especially on the side of private bill legislation, the House
had few more capable members. He was perhaps more completely than Mr.
Devlin one of the little group of intimates with whom Redmond loved to
surround himself in the country. All the rest were old champions of the
fight over Parnell's body; but by far the closest friend of all was his
brother Willie. Their marriages to kinswomen had redoubled the tie of

It should be noted here that Redmond married for the second time in
1899, after ten years of widowerhood. His wife was, by his wish and her
own, never at all in the public eye. All that should be said here is
that his friends found friendship with him easier and not more difficult
than before this marriage, and were grateful for the devoted care which
was bestowed upon their leader. She accompanied him on all his political
journeyings, whatever their duration, and gave him in the fullest
measure the companionship which he desired.


[Footnote 1: This speech is included in "Home Rule: Speeches of John
Redmond, M.P.," a volume edited in 1910 by Mr. Barry O'Brien. It
contains also the American addresses quoted in this chapter, and a
speech to the Dublin Convention in 1907, quoted in the next.]




The Parliament of 1892-5 was barren of results for Ireland, being
consumed by factious strife, at Westminster between the Houses and in
Ireland between the parties. With Gladstone's retirement it seemed as if
Home Rule were dead. But thinking men realized that the Irish question
was still there to be dealt with, and approach to solution began along
new lines. When Lord Salisbury returned to power in 1895, Land Purchase
was cautiously extended with much success: the Congested Districts
Board, originally established by Mr. Arthur Balfour, was showing good
results, and his brother Mr. Gerald Balfour, now Chief Secretary, felt
his way towards a policy which came to be described as "killing Home
Rule with kindness." A section of Irish Nationalist opinion was scared
by the menace contained in this epigram; and consequently, when in 1895
Mr. Horace Plunkett (as he then was) put forward proposals for a
conference of Irishmen to consider possible means for developing Irish
agriculture and Irish industries under the existing system, voices were
raised against what was denounced as a new attempt to divert Nationalist
Ireland from its main purpose of achieving self-government. Mr.
Plunkett's original proposal was that a body of four Anti-Parnellites,
two Parnellites and two Unionists should meet and deliberate in Ireland,
during the recess. In the upshot the Nationalist majority refused to
take any part; but Redmond, with one of his supporters, Mr. William
Field, served on the "Recess Committee" and concurred in its Report, out
of which came the creation of the Department of Agriculture and
Technical Instruction.

In 1896 the Commission on Financial Relations, which had been set up by
the Liberal Ministry in 1894, reported, and its findings produced a
state of feeling which for a moment promised co-operation between
divided interests in Ireland. Unionist magnates joined with Nationalists
in denouncing the system of taxation, which the Commission--by a
majority of eleven to two--had described as oppressive and unjust to the
weaker country.

Redmond was one of the members of this Commission, which included also
distinguished representatives of his Nationalist opponents--Mr. Blake
and Mr. Sexton; and he no doubt cherished hopes arising from the
resolute demands for redress uttered by Lord Castletown and other Irish
Unionist Peers. Those hopes were soon dispelled; nothing but much
controversy came of the demand for improved financial relations. Mr.
Gerald Balfour's schemes were more tangible, and in 1897 Redmond
announced that the Government's proposal to introduce a measure of Local
Government for Ireland should have his support. The Bill, when it came,
exceeded expectation in its scope, and Redmond gave it a cordial welcome
in the name of the Parnellites. The larger group, however, then led by
Mr. Dillon, declined to be responsible for accepting it.

Later, in the working of this measure, Redmond pressed strongly that
elections under it should not be conducted on party lines and that the
landlord class should be brought into local administrative work. His
advice unfortunately was not taken.

Then followed the South African struggle, and in giving voice to a
common sentiment against what Nationalist Ireland held to be an unjust
war the two Irish parties found themselves united and telling together
in the lobby. Formal union followed. By this time the cleavage between
Parnellite and Anti-Parnellite was less acute than that between Mr.
Healy's section and the followers of Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien. The
choice of Redmond as Chairman was due less to a sense of his general
fitness than to despair of reaching a decision between the claims of the
other three outstanding men.

The sacrifice to be made was made at Mr. Dillon's expense, and he did
not acquiesce willingly or cordially. The cordiality which ultimately
marked his relations with Redmond was of later growth--fostered by the
necessity which Mr. Dillon found imposed on him of defending loyally the
party's leader against attacks from the men who had been most active in
selecting him.

A part of the compact under which Redmond was elected to the chair
limited the power of the newly chosen. He was to be Chairman, not
leader; that is to say, he was not to act except after consultation with
the party as a whole: he was not to commit them upon policy. This meant
in practice that he acted as head of a cabinet, which from 1906 onwards
consisted of Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin and Mr. T.P. O'Connor--the last
representing not only a great personal parliamentary experience and
ability, but also the powerful and zealous organization of Irish in
Great Britain. Redmond adhered scrupulously to the spirit of this
compact. There was only one instance in which he took action without
consultation. But that instance was the most important of all--his
speech at the outbreak of the war.

Another thing which governed his conduct in the chair of the party, as
indeed it governed that of nearly all the rank and file, was his horror
of the years which Ireland had gone through since Parnell's fall. He
loathed faction and he had struggled through murky whirlpools of it; for
the rest of his life he was determined, almost at any cost, to maintain
the greatest possible degree of unity among Irish Nationalists. Yet in
the end he unhesitatingly made a choice and took an action which risked
dividing, and in the last event actually divided, Nationalist Ireland as
it had never been divided before. There were things for which he would
face even that supreme peril. Deep in his heart there was a vision which
compelled him. It was the vision of Ireland united as a whole.

All this, however, lay far in the future when he was elected to the
chair; for the moment his task was to reunite Irish Nationalists, and it
began prosperously. From the first his position was one of growing
strength. Irishmen all the world over were heartsick of faction and
rejoiced in even the name of unity. Redmond made it a reality. While
leading the little Parnellite party, reduced at last to nine, his line
of action was comparable to that pursued by Mr. William O'Brien from
1910 onwards. It had, to put things mildly, not been calculated to
assist the leader of the main Nationalist body. In 1904, Justin
McCarthy, then retired from politics, wrote in his book on _British
Political Parties_: "Parnell's chief lieutenant had shown in the service
of his chief an energy and passion which few of us expected of him, and
was utterly unsparing in his denunciations of the men who maintained the
other side of the controversy. From this it was not unnatural to expect
difficulties occasioned both by the leader's temper and by the temper of
those whom he led. But men who had been adverse assured me that they had
changed their opinions and were glad to find they could work with
Redmond in perfect harmony and that his manners and bearing showed no
signs whatever of any bitter memories belonging to the days of internal

In truth, the man's nature was kindly and tolerant; courtesy came more
natural to him than invective. Above all, he was sensitive for the
reputation of his country in the eyes of the world, and the spectacle of
Irishmen heaping vilifications on each other always filled him with
distaste. Whether the taunts passed between Nationalist and Unionist or
Nationalist and Nationalist made little difference to his feeling. With
him it was no empty phrase that he regarded all Irishmen in equal degree
as his fellow-countrymen.

In 1902 he was once more a party to a continued effort made by Irishmen
outside of party lines to solve a part of the national difficulty. The
policy of land purchase had proved its immense superiority over that of
dual ownership and had even been introduced on a considerable scale. But
its very success led to trouble, because on one side of a boundary fence
there would be farmers who had purchased and whose annual instalments of
purchase money were lower than the rents paid by their neighbours on the
other side of the mearing. Renewed struggle against rent led to new
eviction scenes on the grand scale; and by this time landlord opinion
was half converted to the purchase policy, as a necessary solution. The
persistency of one young Galway man, Captain John Shawe Taylor, brought
about the famous Land Conference of 1902, in which Mr. O'Brien, Mr.
Healy, Mr. Redmond and Mr. T.W. Russell on behalf of the tenants met
Lord Dunraven, Lord Mayo, Colonel Hutcheson Poe and Colonel Nugent
Everard representing (though not officially) the landlord interest: and
the result of the agreement reached by this body was seen in Mr.
Wyndham's Land Purchase Act of 1903. This great and drastic measure
altered fundamentally the character of the Irish problem. Directly by
its own effect, and indirectly by the example of new methods, it changed
opinion alike in Ireland and Great Britain. In Ireland hitherto, as has
been already seen, resistance to Home Rule had come primarily from the
landlord class, by whom the Nationalist desire for self-government was
construed as a cloak for the wish to revive or reverse the ancient
confiscations. Now, the land question was by general consent settled, at
least in principle; in proportion as landlords were bought out the
leading economic argument against Home Rule disappeared. The opposition
reduced itself strictly to political grounds; and it began to be plain
that the true heart of resistance lay in Ulster.

Also, lines of cleavage in the Unionist camp began to appear. Already,
landlords in the South and West had found a common ground of action with
representatives of the tenants. It was felt, alike in Ireland and
England, that this precedent might be developed further.

In England political opinion was much affected by the apparent success
of an attempt to deal with the Irish problem piecemeal. The Congested
Districts Board had done much to relieve those regions where famine was
always a possibility; Local Government had given satisfactory results;
and now Land Purchase was hailed as the beginning of a new era. The idea
of seeing how much farther the principle of tentative approach could be
carried took strong hold of many minds, and the word "devolution" came
into fashion.

When it became known that Sir Antony MacDonnell, then Under-Secretary at
Dublin Castle, had, in consultation with Lord Dunraven, drafted a scheme
for transferring parts of Irish administration to a purely Irish
authority, a situation rapidly defined itself in which Ulster broke away
from the more liberal elements in Irish Unionism. The Ulster group
demanded and obtained the resignation of Mr. George Wyndham; they
demanded also the dismissal of the Under-Secretary. But Sir Antony
MacDonnell was not of a resigning temper; he had not acted without
authority, and he was defended zealously by the Irish members. The
section of Liberal opinion which adhered rather to Lord Rosebery than to
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman probably drew the conclusion that the Irish
party were prepared at least to tolerate the policy of approaching Home
Rule step by step; and beyond doubt they were impressed by the prestige
of Sir Antony MacDonnell's record and personality. The son of a small
Irish Catholic landlord, educated at the Galway College of the Queen's
University, he had entered the Indian Civil Service and in it risen to
the highest point of power. The recommendation that he should be brought
home to assist in the Government of Ireland had come from Lord
Lansdowne, then Governor-General of India, who knew that the famous
administrator of the Punjab was a Catholic Irishman of Nationalist
sympathies. He had been accepted by Mr. Wyndham, his official chief,
"rather as a colleague than as a subordinate." Officially and publicly,
the credit for the Land Act of 1903 went to the Chief Secretary, and Mr.
Wyndham deserves much of it. But no one who knew the two men could have
doubted that in the shaping of a measure involving so wide a range of
detail, the leading part must have been taken by the Irish Civil Servant
who in India had acquired most of his fame from a sweeping measure of
land reform.

Proposals to alter the method and conduct of Irish administration before
touching the parliamentary power to legislate and to tax came with
extraordinary weight in coming from such a man; and the history of the
previous Home Rule Bills was not encouraging to anyone, especially to
those who had been members of Mr. Gladstone's two last administrations.
From the time of the Parnell divorce case onwards, the Irish question
had brought to Liberals nothing but embarrassment and embitterment. The
enthusiasm for Home Rule which grew steadily from 1886 up to the
severance between Gladstone and Parnell had vanished in the squalid
controversies of the "split." Moreover, now, by the action of Mr.
Chamberlain, a new dividing line had been brought into British politics.
The cry of Protection seemed in the opinion of all Liberals to menace
ruin to British prosperity; the banner of Free Trade offered a splendid
rallying-point for a party which had known fifteen years of dissension
and division. Prudent men thought it would be unsafe, unwise and
unpatriotic to compromise this great national interest by retaining the
old watch-word on which Gladstone had twice fought and twice been

It was clear, too, that a Home Rule Bill would provoke a direct conflict
with the House of Lords and would raise that great struggle on not the
most favourable issue. Statesmen like Sir Edward Grey and Mr. Asquith
probably believed that a partial measure, an instalment of
self-government, to which some influential sections of the Tory party
would not be unfriendly, might have strong hopes of passing into law.

So it came to pass that in the election of 1906 the Liberal Party came
into power with a majority of unexampled magnitude, but with a
Government pledged, negatively, not to introduce a Home Rule Bill in
that Parliament, but, positively, to attempt an Irish settlement by the
policy of instalments.

In all this lay the seeds of trouble for the Irish leader. Liberals have
never understood that Ireland will not take from them what it would take
from the Tories. It will accept, as a palliative, from the party opposed
to Home Rule what it will not accept from those who have admitted the
justice of the national demand.


"For myself," said Redmond in his speech to the Irish Convention in May
1907, "I have always expressed in public and in private my opinion that
no half-way house on this question is possible; but at the same time I
am, or at any rate I try to be, a practical politician. In the lodgment
this idea of instalments had got in the minds of English statesmen I
recognized the fact--and after all in politics the first essential is to
recognize facts--I recognized the fact that in this Parliament we were
not going to get a pure Home Rule Bill offered, and I consented, and I
was absolutely right in consenting, that whatever scheme short of that
was put forward would be considered calmly on its merits."

This meant that during the whole of the year 1906 and a part of 1907 the
proposal of the new Irish Bill was under discussion with the Irish
leaders. The course of these deliberations was undoubtedly a
disappointment. Mr. Bryce was replaced by Mr. Birrell as Chief
Secretary, but the scheme still fell short of what Redmond had hoped to
attain. Unfortunately, and it was a characteristic error, his sanguine
temperament had led him to encourage in Ireland hopes as high as his
own. The production of the Irish Council Bill and its reception in
Ireland was the first real shock to his power.

Mr. Birrell in introducing the measure spoke with his eye on the Tories
and the House of Lords. He represented it as only the most trifling
concession; he emphasized not the powers which it conveyed but the
limitations to them. Redmond in following him was in a difficult
position. He stressed the point that to accept a scheme which by reason
of its partial nature would break down in its working would be ruinous,
because failure would be attributed to natural incapacity in the Irish
people. Acceptance, therefore, he said, could not be unconditional and
undoubtedly to his mind it was conditioned by his hope of securing
certain important amendments, which he outlined. None the less, the tone
of his speech was one of acceptance, and he concluded:

     "I have never in all the long years that I have been in this House
     spoken under such a heavy sense of responsibility as I am speaking
     on this measure this afternoon. Ever since Mr. Gladstone's Bill of
     1886 Ireland has been waiting for some scheme to settle the
     problem--waiting sometimes in hope, sometimes almost in despair;
     but the horrible thing is this, that all the time that Ireland has
     been so waiting there has been a gaping wound in her side, and her
     sons have had to stand by helpless while they saw her very
     life-blood flowing out. Who can say that is an exaggeration? Twenty
     years of resolute government by the party above the gangway have
     diminished the population of Ireland by a million. No man in any
     position of influence can take upon himself the awful
     responsibility of despising and putting upon one side any device
     that may arrest that hemorrhage, even although he believed, as I
     do, that far different remedies must be applied before Ireland can
     stand upon her feet in vigorous strength. We are determined, as far
     as we are concerned, that these other remedies shall be applied;
     but in the meantime we should shrink from the responsibility of
     rejecting anything which, after that full consideration which the
     Bill will receive, seems to our deliberate judgment calculated to
     relieve the sufferings of Ireland and hasten the day of her full
     national convalescence."

There is no doubt that the element in him which urged him to welcome
anything that could set Irishmen working together on Irish problems made
it almost impossible for him to throw aside this chance. It was clear to
me also that by long months of work in secret deliberation the proposals
originally set out had been greatly altered, so much so that in
surveying the Bill he was conscious mainly of the improvements in it;
and that in this process his mind had lost perception of how the measure
was likely to affect Irish opinion--especially in view of his own
hopeful prognostications. At all events, the reception of Mr. Birrell's
speech, even by Redmond's own colleagues, marked a sudden change in the
atmosphere. Some desired to vote at once against the measure; many were
with difficulty brought into the lobby to support even the formal stage
of first reading. In Ireland there was fierce denunciation. A Convention
was called for May 21st. The crowd was so great that many of us could
not make our way into the Mansion House; and Redmond opened the
proceedings by moving the rejection of the Bill. In the interval since
the debate he had been confronted with a definite refusal to concede the
amendments for which he asked.

These were mainly two, of principle: for the objection taken to the
finance of the Bill was a detail, though of the first importance. The
Bill proposed to hand over the five great departments of Irish
administration to the control of an Irish Council. The decisions of that
Council were to be subject to the veto of the Lord-Lieutenant, as are
the decisions of Parliament to the veto of the Crown. But the Bill
proposed not merely to give to the Viceroy the power of vetoing proposed
action but of instituting other action on his own initiative. Secondly,
the Council was to exercise its control through Committees, each of
which was to have a paid chairman, nominated by the Crown.

"It would be far better," Redmond had said in the House of Commons, "to
have one man selected as the chairmen of these committees are to be
selected, to have charge, so far as the Council is concerned, of the
working of the Department, and then all these chairmen acting together
could form a sort of organic body which would give cohesion, would
co-ordinate and give stability to the whole of the work. I am afraid
that the Government seem to have shrunk from that for fear the argument
would be used against them that they were really creating a Ministry."

That was the real difficulty. A Council subject only to a veto on its
acts, even though it could neither pass a by-law nor strike a rate,
would undoubtedly be said by the Unionist opposition to be a rudimentary
parliament. A group of chairmen possessing administrative powers like
those of Ministers would be labelled a Ministry; and the Liberals who
had pledged themselves not to give effect to their Home Rule principles
were sensitive to charges of breach of faith.

It is a curious fact in politics that the public promise conveyed in
the adoption of certain principles is generally taken to be on the level
of ordinary commercial obligation. Failure to keep it jeopardizes a
man's reputation for political stability, just as failure to pay a
tailor's bill imperils a man's financial character. But a promise to
political opponents that you will not give effect to your principles
stands on the level of a card debt: it is a matter of honour to make
good; and on this point Mr. Asquith in particular has always shown an
adamantine resolution.

From 1907 onwards it was with Mr. Asquith that Redmond had chiefly to
count. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who, personally, had given no such
limiting pledges, and who during his two years of leadership commanded a
respect, an affectionate allegiance, from his followers in the House
without parallel at all events since Mr. Gladstone's day, was fast
weakening in health. He lived long enough to give freedom to South
Africa, the one outstanding achievement of that Parliament; and by the
success of that great measure he did more to remove British distrust of
Home Rule than even Gladstone ever accomplished. It was no fault of his
if Liberalism failed to settle the Irish question at the moment when
Liberal power reached its highest point.

The failure of the Council Bill had one good result, and one only. It
cleared the way for a definite propaganda on Home Rule. But before this
could be undertaken it was necessary to pull Nationalist Ireland
together, for it was once more rent with division and distrust. Mr.
Healy, who in 1901 had been expelled from the Irish party and its
organization on the motion of Mr. O'Brien and against Redmond's advice,
and Mr. O'Brien, who had subsequently retired from the party against
Redmond's wish, were both of them formidable antagonists; and each was
vehement in attack on the main body of Nationalists and their leader. It
was some time before Redmond braced himself to the struggle; but from
the opening of the autumn recess in 1907 he undertook a campaign
throughout Ireland which it would be difficult to overpraise. In a
series of speeches at chosen centres, delivered before great audiences,
he laid down once more the national demand as he conceived it; and in
each speech he dealt with a different aspect of the case for Home Rule.

A formal outcome of this campaign was the re-establishment of national
unity. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy returned to the Irish party for a brief
period. But the more important result was the re-establishment of
Redmond's personal position. He had made an effort which would have been
great for any man, but for him was a victory over his own temperament.
That temperament had in it, negatively, a great lack of personal
ambition and, positively, a strong love for a quiet life. He did his
work in Parliament regularly and conscientiously, always there day in
and day out; and it was work of a very exacting kind. This had become
the routine of his existence and he did it without strain. But to go
outside it was for him always an effort. He hated town life; but more
than this, he hated ceremonies, presentations, receptions in hotels, and
all the promiscuous contact of political gatherings. Nevertheless, when
he came to such an occasion no living man acquitted himself better.
Apart from his oratory, he had an admirable manner, a dignified yet
friendly courtesy which gained attachment. In the course of the autumn
and winter following the Irish Council Bill he must have met and been
seen by a hundred times more of his adherents than in any similar period
of his leadership. People all over Ireland heard him not only on the
public platform but in small addresses to deputations, in impromptu
speeches at semi-public dinners, and all of this strengthened him where
an Irish leader most needs to be strengthened--in the hearts of the
people. The hold which he gained then stood to him during the years
which followed and up to the outbreak of the war. But it could have
been still further strengthened, and if ambition had been a motive force
in him, he would have strengthened it. More than that, if he had
realized his full value to Ireland, he would have felt it his duty to do
so. Modesty, combined with a certain degree of indolence, made him leave
all that contact with the mass of his followers which is necessary to
leadership to be effected through his chief colleagues, Mr. Dillon and
Mr. Devlin--who, through no will of theirs, became rather joint leaders
than lieutenants, so far as Ireland was concerned.

Circumstances helped to emphasize this tendency. His work lay very
greatly in London, Parliament occupied every year a longer and longer
space. The task of platform advocacy all over England was urgent, and in
England Redmond stood out alone. It was little to be wondered at that
when each long deferred recess came he made it a vacation and not a
change of work. The seclusion from direct intercourse with the mass of
his followers which conditions imposed upon him was further accentuated
by his personal tastes and his choice of a dwelling.

In the early years of the nineteenth century the mountain range which
runs along the east coast from outside Dublin through Wicklow into
county Wexford was a country difficult of access and unsubdued. Here in
1803 Emmet found a refuge, and after Emmet's death here Michael Dwyer
still held out: Connemara itself was hardly wilder or less accessible,
till the "military road" was run, little more than a hundred years ago,
from Dublin over the western slopes of Featherbed, past Glencree, and
through Callary Bog, skirting Glendalough and traversing the wild
recesses of Glenmalure, so that it cuts across the headwaters of those
beautiful streams which meet in the Vale of Ovoca. From Glenmalure the
road climbs a steep ridge and then travels in wide downward curves
across the seaward side of Lugnaquilla--fifth in height among Irish
mountains. Here, at the head of a long valley which runs down to the
Meeting of the Waters, was built one of the barracks which billeted the
original garrison of the road. Later, these buildings had been used for
constabulary; but with peaceful times this grew needless, for there was
little disturbance among these Wicklow folk, tenants of little farms,
each with a sheep-run on the vast hills. Nothing could be less like the
flat sea-bordering lands of the Barony of Forth in which the Redmonds
spent their boyhood than these wild, sweeping, torrent-seamed folds of
hill and valley; but the place came to him as part of his inheritance
from "the Chief." Parnell's home at Avondale was some ten miles from
here, lying in woods beside the Ovoca River; but the Parnell property
stretched up to the slopes of Lugnaquilla, and the dismantled barrack
was used by him as a shooting lodge. Here, in the early days before his
life became absorbed in the masterful attachment which led finally to
his overthrow, he spent good hours; and here the two Redmonds and those
others of his followers who were his companions came to camp roughly in
this strange, gaunt survival of military rule. After Parnell's death
Redmond bought the barrack and a small plot of land about it, and it
became increasingly and exclusively his home in Ireland. It was, indeed,
Ireland itself for him. In it and through it he knew Ireland intimately,
felt Ireland intensely and intensively, not only as a place, but as a
way of being. Ireland to him meant Aughavanagh.

Partly, no doubt, the almost unbroken wildness of his surroundings
appealed to an element of romance in his character, which was strongly
emotional though extremely reticent. Only an artist would have
recognized beauty in those scenes, for in all Ireland it would be
difficult to find a landscape with less amenity; the hill shapes are
featureless, without boldness or intricacy of line. Redmond, a born
artist in words, possessing strongly the sense of form, was sensitive to
beauty in all kinds--yet rather to the beauty that is symmetrical,
graceful and well-planned. A sailor does not love the sea for its
beauty, and Redmond loved Ireland as a sailor loves the sea--yet with a
difference. Ireland to him in a great measure was Aughavanagh, and
Aughavanagh was a place of rest. Ireland is a good country to rest in.
But it would have been far better for Redmond and for Ireland if Ireland
had been the place not of his rest, but of his work.

His work was essentially that of an agent of Ireland carrying on
Ireland's affairs in a strange capital. He spent more of his time in
London than in Ireland, but he was never part of the life of London,
never in any sense a Londoner. He was part of the life of the House of
Commons, for that was his place of work; and when he left it he went to
Aughavanagh as a man returns from the City to his home. This home of his
was in no sense connected with his active occupations. He was no lover
of gardening or of farming; he had none of the Irishman's taste for the
overseeing of stock or land; he enjoyed shooting, but he was not a
passionate sportsman. What was a passion with him--- for he sacrificed
much to it--was rest in the place of his choice.

It was not a lonely habitation. He was no recluse, and when there he was
always surrounded by his friends. I do not know precisely how one could
constitute a list of them--but half a dozen men at least came and went
there as they chose. Mr. Mooney, Mr. Hayden, "Long John" O'Connor, Dr.
Kenny--these, and above all, Paddy O'Brien, the party's chief acting
whip--were constant there. Some came to shoot, and Willie Redmond used
to come over from his house at Delgany, where the Glen of the Downs
debouches seaward; walking generally, for he was the fastest and most
untiring of mountaineers: very few cared to keep beside him on the
hills. Others were content to share the daily bathes, morning and
afternoon, in a long deep pool where the little stream tumbling down a
series of cascades makes a place to dive and swim in. These were the
friends of Redmond's own generation, and they were also his son's
friends; but the two daughters had their allies, and one way or another
the party was apt to be a big one--very simply provided for. When I went
there first (in 1907) you climbed a narrow stone stair to the first
floor; on the left was a dining-room, beyond that a billiard-room; on
the right, Redmond's study, and beyond that his bedroom. Another flight
took you to the upper regions, where were two dormitories--the girls to
the right, the men to the left. Later, he made some alterations, and the
upstair rooms were subdivided off; the garden was developed; it became
more of a house and less of a barrack; but the character of the life did
not change. It was most simple, most hospitable, most unconventional and
most remote.

Certainly a great part of Aughavanagh's charm for him lay in its
remoteness. It was seven Irish miles up a hilly road from the nearest
railway station, post office or telegraph station. Aughrim was three
hours' train journey from Dublin, on a tiny branch line, and trains were
few. Until motors brought him (to his intense resentment) within reach,
he was as inaccessible as if he had lived in Clare or Mayo.

So it came to pass that though he knew to the very core one typical
district of Ireland, and was far more closely in touch with a few score
of Irish peasants through their daily life than any of his leading
associates, he was yet cut off by his own choice from much that is
Ireland--and perhaps from much that was most important to him. Political
opinion is created in the towns, and he knew the Irish townsfolk, so far
as he could manage it, only through his correspondence, and through
those business visits to Dublin which he made as few as possible.

If his work had lain, where it should by rights have lain, in a
ministerial office in Dublin, all would have been well. As it was, the
deliberate and extreme seclusion of his life in Ireland weakened his
influence. He was far too shrewd not to know this, and far too
unambitious to care. Work he never shrank from. But the daily
solicitations of people with personal grievances to lay before him,
personal interests which they desired him to promote, made a form of
trouble which in his periods of rest from work he refused to undergo.

The same qualities in him were responsible for his persistent refusal to
accept private hospitality where he went on public business. Whether in
Ireland or in Great Britain, he must stay at a hotel, and many were the
magnates of Liberalism whose ruffled feelings it was necessary to smooth
down on this account. He detested being lionized and wanted always, when
the public affair was over, to get away to his own quarters.

The demands on him in England for platform work were portentous. Every
constituency which wanted a meeting on the Home Rule question wanted
Redmond and no other speaker. Of course he could not go to one-twentieth
of the places where he was asked for; and his objection to going was not
the effort involved but the impossibility either of indefinitely
repeating himself or of finding something new to say each time. "If it
was in America," he would say, "I would speak as often as you asked me"
(it was my misfortune to have to do the asking), "because they never
report a speech." The fact is worth noting, for in scores of instances
what was adduced by opponents as quotation from his utterances in the
United States represented simply some American journalist's impression,
perhaps less of what Redmond said than of what, in the reporter's
opinion, he should have said. Those who represented him as putting one
face on the argument in America and another in Great Britain did not
know the man. "I have made it a rule," he said to me more than once, "to
say the extremest things I had to say in the House of Commons."

However, all the machinery which was employed by the opponents of Home
Rule to prejudice Ireland's case in the British constituencies proved
very ineffectual. For one thing, the lesson of South Africa had gone
home. For another, and perhaps a greater, no cause ever had a missionary
better adapted to the temperament of the British democracy. The dignity
and beauty of Redmond's eloquence, the weight which he could give to an
argument, his extraordinary gift for simplifying an issue and grouping
thoughts in large bold masses--all these things carried audiences with


Between 1908 and 1910 we were still, though with rapidly increasing
success, trying to get a hearing for the Irish question--trying to push
it once more to the front. The change of leadership from Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman to Mr. Asquith had damped Liberal enthusiasm. We got
solid work done for Ireland in the University Act of 1908, though
Redmond would have preferred a university of the residential type, like
that in which he had himself been an undergraduate. A highly contentious
measure was also carried in the Land Act of 1909. But a new power was
coming to the front, at once assisting and thwarting our efforts. Mr.
Lloyd George put a new fighting spirit into Liberalism: but the objects
which he had at heart could only be achieved by a great expenditure of
electoral power, and among those objects Irish self-government found
only a secondary place. When Mr. Gladstone spoke of liberty he thought
of what he had helped to bring to Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and
Montenegro--what he had tried to bring to Ireland. When Mr. Lloyd George
spoke of liberty, he thought of what he wanted to bring to England
first, and to Ireland by the way; his conviction that Ireland needed
self-government was not so deeply rooted as his conviction that the poor
throughout the United Kingdom needed help.

Old Age Pensions had been popular, but had not been a fighting issue.
Mr. Lloyd George provided the fighting issue with a vengeance when he
set himself to pay for them. Unfortunately, Nationalist Ireland had no
enthusiasm for the Budget which English Radicalism made its flag. A
country of peasant proprietors was easily scared by the very name of
land taxes. But above all the Finance Bill dealt drastically, and many
thought unfairly, with the powerful liquor trade, which in its branches
of brewing and distilling included the main manufacturing interest of
southern Ireland, and on its retail side was incredibly diffused through
the whole shopkeeping community.

The dissident Nationalists saw their chance. Mr. O'Brien emerged from
one of his periodic retirements to lead a whirlwind campaign against the
"robber Budget." Redmond and our party were obliged to oppose a measure
which pressed so hard as this undoubtedly did on Ireland. Our opposition
to the land taxes was withdrawn when valuable concessions had been made,
but no such compromise was considered possible on the liquor taxes. On
the other hand, it grew clear that the measure was likely to produce a
conflict in which the power of the House of Lords might be challenged on
the most favourable ground: and for that reason, when the third reading
was reached, the Irish party abstained from voting against it. This
course, while it facilitated close co-operation with Liberalism in the
general election which followed, weakened us in Ireland; and eleven out
of the eighty-three Nationalist members returned in January 1910 ranked
themselves as outside the party; though Mr. O'Brien's actual following
was limited to seven Cork members and Mr. Healy.


The action of the Lords in rejecting the Budget of 1909 had an important
personal result. It placed Mr. Asquith in a rôle which no one was ever
better qualified to fill--that of a Liberal statesman defending
principles of democratic control menaced after a long period of
security. The Prime Minister, not the Chancellor of the Exchequer, now
became the protagonist; and this was to Redmond's liking, for he felt
that Mr. Asquith was more concerned with the problems which had occupied
Gladstone's closing years and Mr. Lloyd George with those of a later

Yet in the first grave encounter after the rejection of the Budget,
Redmond and the leader of the Liberal party came to sharp differences.
The general election had amply justified the advice which was urged by
him on Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman when the House of Lords rejected the
Education Bill in 1906--namely, that the Liberal party should take up at
once the inevitable fight before their enormous strength had been
frittered away in a series of disappointments. The majority of 1906 was
too swollen to be healthy: owing to the ruling out of Home Rule, it
included a number of men only partial adherents of the full Liberal
programme; and a diminution of its proportions owing to the traditional
swing of the pendulum was certain. But in January 1910 the losses were
more than even sanguine Tory prophets predicted. Tories came back equal
in strength to the Liberals: Labour was only forty, so that the Irish
party held the balance in the House.

The election had been fought expressly on the issue of Government's
claim to enable a Liberal Government to deal with certain problems,
among which the Irish question occupied the foremost place. It was easy
now for the Tories to argue that the Government appealing to the country
on that issue had lost two hundred seats. They said: "You have authority
to pass your Budget--but for these vast unconstitutional changes you
have no mandate." The temper of their party, which had more than doubled
its numbers, was very high: in the Liberal ranks depression reigned and
counsels were divided.

At the beginning of the election Mr. Asquith had made a great speech in
the Albert Hall in which he outlined the Liberal policy. In it he
declared that the pledge against introducing a Home Rule Bill was
withdrawn, and that the establishment of self-government for Ireland,
subject to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, was among the
Government's main purposes. But the House of Lords was in the way.

"We shall not assume office and we shall not hold office unless we can
secure the safeguards which experience shows us to be necessary for the
legislative utility and honour of the party of progress."

This was universally taken to mean that he would obtain a guarantee that
the King would, if necessary, consent to the creation of sufficient new
peers to override the hostile majority. But as the election progressed,
uncertainties developed and an alternative policy of attempting to
reform the Upper House was advocated in certain quarters. The question
arose also as to whether the first business of the new House should be
to pass the Budget which the Lords had thrown out or to proceed with the
attack on the power of veto.

Redmond's view on this was not in doubt. At a meeting in Dublin on
February 10, 1910, he declared in the most emphatic manner that to deal
with the Budget first would be a breach of Mr. Asquith's pledge to the
country, since it would throw away the power of the House of Commons to
stop supply. This speech attracted much attention, and the memory of it
was present to many a fortnight later when Mr. Asquith was replying to
Mr. Balfour at the opening of the debate on the Address. The Prime
Minister dwelt strongly on the administrative necessity for regularizing
the financial position disturbed by the Upper House's unconstitutional
action. He indicated also the need for reform in the composition of that
House. But, above all, he disclaimed as improper and impossible any
attempt to secure in advance a pledge for the contingent exercise of the
Royal prerogative.

"I have received no such guarantee and I have asked for no such
guarantee," he said.

The change was marked indeed from the moment when he uttered in the
Albert Hall his sentence against assuming office or holding office
without the necessary safeguards--an assurance at which the whole vast
assembly rose to their feet and cheered. Every word in his speech on the
Address added to the depression of his followers and the elation of the
Opposition. Redmond followed him at once. In such circumstances as then
existed, it was exceedingly undesirable for the Irish leader to
emphasize the fact that his vote could overthrow the Government: and the
least unnecessary display of this power would naturally and properly
have been resented by the Government's following. No one knew this
better than Redmond, yet the position demanded bold action. His speech,
courteous, as always, in tone, and studiously respectful in its
reference to the position of the Crown, was an open menace to the
Government. He quoted the Prime Minister's words at the Albert Hall, he
appealed to the House at large for the construction which had been
everywhere put on them; and it was apparent that he had the full
sympathy not only of his own party and of Labour, but of most of Mr.
Asquith's own following. He concluded in these words:

     "If the Prime Minister is not in a position to say that he has such
     guarantees as are necessary to enable him to pass a Veto Bill this
     year, and if in spite of that he intends to remain in office and
     proposes to pass the Budget into law and then to adjourn--I do not
     care for how short or how long--the consideration of the Bill
     dealing with the veto of the House of Lords, that is a policy which
     Ireland cannot and will not support."

The effect on the House was such that no one rose to continue the
debate. Next day it was resumed, and not only Labour speakers, but one
after another of the Liberals, including some of the Prime Minister's
most docile, old-fashioned supporters rose and declared that Redmond and
not the Leader of the House had expressed their views. So began a
remarkable struggle in which the combined forces of the private
members--Liberal, Labour and Irish--united by a common desire to destroy
the domination of the Peers, contended against the Cabinet's policy of
attempting not merely to limit the power of veto but to reconstitute the
Upper House. In such a process men saw that the driving force of the
majority would waste away and that the composite character of their
alliance would lead to certain disruption.

Before the debate on the Address concluded it was plain that Redmond had
won. From that period onwards his popularity, and, through him, the
popularity of the party which he led, was immensely increased in Great
Britain. He was regarded as one of the men who had rendered best service
to democracy against privilege. He himself believed that in this first
contest Ireland had decided the victory--had decided the overthrow of
the House which had so long opposed its liberties. Labour had then
neither the essential leader nor the necessary parliamentary strength:
Liberalism was confused and uncertain at the critical moment.

Yet in the very process of achieving this success Redmond laid himself
open to attack. The Budget was regarded with dislike by a very large
section of Irishmen, and apart from considerations of political strategy
the Irish members would certainly have voted against it. Now, the power
was in their hands to defeat it finally. By so doing they would, of
course, justify to some degree the unconstitutional action of the Lords;
but this consideration did not weigh with Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy.
They accused Redmond of selling the real interests of Ireland to keep a
Government in office which could offer nothing in return but a gambling
chance of limiting the veto of the Lords. Mr. O'Brien was firmly
confident that no such measure would ever pass. He denounced the
bargain, not merely because it was a bargain in which Redmond accepted
what was in his view a ruinous injustice to Ireland, but because it was
a bargain in which the Irish had been outwitted. This line of argument
was to be dinned into the ears of Ireland during all the remaining years
of Redmond's life. The only conclusive answer to it was to gain Home
Rule. If, in the long run, it came to appear that the attackers had been
right in their contention, and that Ireland had never received the
expected return, the fault for that result lay with Ireland itself no
less than with England; it most assuredly did not lie with John Redmond.
A great weight of responsibility rests on those who from the first hour
of Ireland's opportunity ingeminated distrust to an over-suspicious

For the moment, however, the attack made no headway. Irishmen have a
shrewd political sense, and they felt that in the struggle to pin
Liberal Ministers to the true fighting objective Redmond had won. They
were also delighted to see the Irish party openly exert its power--not
quite realizing that such exhibitions were against the interest of the
democratic alliance, which had to undergo a grave test. The Government's
vacillation had rendered another general election necessary if the Veto
question were to be fought out.

On April 29th the House adjourned for the Whitsuntide recess, after
which the crisis was to come with the decision of the House of Lords
whether to accept or reject the Veto Resolution, which had then passed
the Commons. On May 7th, after a short and sudden illness, King Edward
died. Both the great English parties were unwilling to renew the most
acute political struggle of modern times at the opening of a new reign,
and means of accommodation was sought through a Conference which sat
first on June 16th and held twenty-one meetings. No representative of
Ireland was on this body. On November 10th it reported that no result
had come of its efforts, and a new general election was fixed for
December 1st.

When the Conference finally broke down Redmond was on his way back from
America, whither he had gone accompanied by Mr. Devlin. Mr. T.P.
O'Connor at the same time undertook a tour in Canada. The success of
these missions showed that the interest and the confidence of the Irish
race were higher than at any previous period: the ambassadors brought
back a contribution of one hundred thousand dollars to the election
funds, and the ship on which they came was saluted by bonfires all along
the coast of Cork. Ireland, too, was subscribing as Ireland had not
subscribed since Parnell's zenith: and this was an Ireland in which the
land-hunger had been largely appeased. The theory that Ireland's demand
for self-government was merely generated by Ireland's poverty began to
look ridiculous.

It was the cue of the Tory Press at this moment to excite prejudice
against the Liberals by representing them as the bondslaves of the
"dollar dictator"--ordered about by an Irish autocrat with swollen
money-bags from New York. This line of argument did us little harm in
Great Britain; in Ireland it improved Redmond's position, for it was a
useful answer to Mr. O'Brien's representation of him as the abject tool
of Liberal politicians. The election, on the whole, strengthened our
party. Mr. Healy was thrown out; and Mr. O'Brien, though he retained the
seven seats held by his adherents in Cork, failed in two out of three
personal candidatures.

In Great Britain the second election of the year 1910 had the surprising
result of reproducing almost exactly the same division of parties: and
this added greatly to the strength of the Government. The Tory leaders
now, instead of insisting on a maintenance of the old Constitution, went
into alternative proposals--including the adoption of the Referendum.
This was their constructive line; the destructive resolved itself
largely into an endeavour to focus resistance on the question of
Ireland--the purpose for which alone, they said, abolition of the veto
was demanded. As has often happened, action taken by the Vatican gave
the opponents of Home Rule a useful weapon. The _Ne Temere_ decree,
promulgated in the year 1908, laid down that any marriage to which a
Roman Catholic was a party, if not solemnized according to the rites of
the Church of Rome, should be treated as invalid from a canonical point
of view. Although legally binding, it should be regarded as no marriage
in the eyes of an orthodox Roman Catholic until it was regularized in
the manner provided by the Church, The case of an unhappy mixed marriage
in Belfast was exploited with fury on a thousand platforms. Another
decree, the _Motu Proprio_, was construed as seeking to establish
immunity for the clergy from proceedings in civil courts. This, however,
was of less platform value, because no instance could be found of a
practical application; whereas the McCann case unquestionably gave Tory
disputants a formidable instrument for evoking the ancient distrust of
Roman Catholicism which is so deeply ingrained in the Protestant mind.

In spite of all, the English democracy remained steady in its purpose.
Party feeling, however, ran to heights not known in living memory. In
July 1911 the Parliament Bill went to the Lords, where it was altered
out of all recognition. On July 20th Mr. Asquith sent a letter to Mr.
Balfour stating that the King had guaranteed that he would exercise his
prerogative to secure that the Bill should be passed substantially as it
left the Commons. On the 24th the extreme section of the Tory party,
headed by Lord Hugh Cecil, refused to allow the Prime Minister a hearing
in the House of Commons.

From an Irish point of view the episode was noteworthy. At the outset of
this critical session Redmond had cautioned his party to abstain from
giving provocation and from allowing themselves to be provoked. The
counsel was the harder to follow because some of the most vehement of
the younger Tories sat below the gangway, almost in physical contact
with Irish members, and hot words passed. Still, it was grounded into
all that we should not allow the great issue then at trial to be
represented as an Irish quarrel. Our cause was linked with the whole
cause of democracy as against privilege: it was an issue for the whole
United Kingdom; and that was never plainer than on this day of July.
English, Scottish and Welsh members hurled interruptions and taunts at
each other across the floor of the House, while Irish members sat
watching. Something older and more far-reaching than the opposition to
Ireland's demand now was felt itself assailed; and a force in which the
Irish movement was only one stream of many swept against it. Anger in
the Tory party was not directed against Ireland's representatives; and
an odd chance made this plain. The fierce scene in the House reached its
culmination when Ministers withdrew in a body from the Treasury Bench
and the two sides of the House stood up, one cheering, the other
hooting, in opposite ranks. For a moment it seemed as if the affair
would come to blows, till Mr. Will Crooks, with a genial inspiration,
uplifted his voice in song: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" The
tension was relaxed and members moved out in groups--we Irishmen
necessarily among the Tories. In the movement I saw Willie Redmond go up
to one of the fiercest among the Ulstermen, whose face was dark with
passion. Colloquy began: "Isn't it a hard thing that you wouldn't let us
speak?" The Ulsterman turned: "Not let you speak? My dear fellow, we'd
listen to you for as long as you liked--it's only these accursed English
Liberals." And upon this mutual understanding the two Irishmen walked
down the floor into the Lobby exchanging expressions of mutual goodwill
and possibly of mutual comprehension.

This little piece of by-play, so full of Irish nature, struck me at the
time as something more than amusing--as having in it a ray of hopeful
significance. But the most sanguine imagination would never have
foreseen the series of events which brought it to pass, not merely that
these two men should wear the same uniform, on a common service, but
that the same Gazette should publish both their names as enrolled on the
same day in the French Legion of Honour. On that day Mr. Charles Craig
was a prisoner in Germany, wounded in a famous fight; and Willie Redmond
was in a grave towards which Ulster comrades had been the first to carry
him. There is an Irish saying, "Men may meet, but the mountains stand
apart." In July 1911 such an association as the Gazette of July 1917
illustrated would have seemed hardly more possible than the meeting of
the everlasting hills.

The dramatic crisis of the parliamentary struggle between the two Houses
of Parliament did not, and could not, come in the House of Commons. Its
place was in the final citadel of privilege, and privilege surrendered
on August 10th, when the Bill passed the Lords after the most exciting
and uncertain division that is ever likely to be known. But there were
elements in the Tory party which did not accept defeat, though they had
not yet clearly decided on what battleground to renew their efforts. For
the moment, however, men were disposed to pause and take stock of the
new situation.

But at such a time events cannot stand still, and almost at the same
moment as the Parliament Act was carried, the Government took a step
which gravely affected the Irish party. Payment of members was
established by a resolution of the House of Commons.

Irish Nationalist members had always been paid from the party fund, that
is to say, by their supporters. Payment was conditional, not of right,
and it was not made except when the member was in attendance: it
amounted only to twenty pounds a month. The new payment came from the
British Treasury; it was made irrespective of the desire of
constituents, or of any other consideration; and it amounted to a sum
which in a country of small incomes sounded very imposing.
Unquestionably the receipt of it weakened the position of the party in
the eyes of Ireland, and gave a new sting to the charge of a bargain.

All this was clearly discerned in advance, by no one more than by
Redmond; and an amendment was moved to strike Irish members out of the
application of the resolution. But the situation was hopelessly
involved, the Irish party having repeatedly voted for payment of members
as part of the Radical programme which they supported as affecting any
normally governed country; and Government refused to make the exception.

As a result, Redmond's following lost much of the prestige which had
resulted from scrupulous observance of the understanding that no
Nationalist member should take office under Government. To join the
Irish party had been, in effect, for most men, to make a vow of
poverty. Now, on the contrary, it involved acceptance of what was in
Ireland's eyes a well-paid and unlaborious office. The Irish are no less
prone than any other nation to take a cynical view of these matters.

Yet assuredly no man ever gave more service for less pay than the
Nationalist leader, and it was the harder because he was a man who liked
comfort and had no ambition. If at the time of the great "split" he had
stood down from politics, success would have been assured to him at the
Bar in Ireland, or, more surely still, and far more profitably, at
Westminster itself. There never was anyone so well-fitted for the work
of a parliamentary barrister who has to deal with great interests before
a tribunal largely composed of laymen. No one had the House of Commons
tone more perfectly than Redmond, and no one that I ever heard equalled
his gift for making a complicated issue appear simple. When he was
thrown out of Parliament at the Cork election, he thought of retirement,
mainly for one reason: it would be better for his children. Yet, first
by personal loyalty to Parnell, later by his loyalty to Ireland, he was
held firm to his task--always a poor man, always knowing that it lay in
his power, without the least sacrifice of principle, to become rich by a
way of work less laborious and infinitely less harassing than that which
he pursued.

The effect upon the Irish situation produced by the payment of members
was slow to develop, and obscure. But an obvious and grave complication
was introduced into both British and Irish politics at the moment when
the democratic alliance had achieved its first great objective.
Parliament had been in session almost continuously since the beginning
of 1909, with the added strain of two general elections thrown in. There
was a widespread desire to clear the autumn of 1911, so that members
might have some breathing space, and, not less important, devote
themselves to propagandist work in their constituencies for the new
struggle of carrying measures under the hardly won Parliament Act. Each
of these measures must involve a fight prolonged over three years.

But this desire ran against the purposes of Mr. Asquith's chief
lieutenant, whose power and popularity were now at their height. Mr.
Lloyd George in the course of the session had introduced his Insurance
Bill, and it was welcomed with astonishing effusion from both sides of
the House. As discussion proceeded, however, the complexity and
difficulty of its proposals, and the number of oppositions which they
provoked, became so apparent that it was not in human nature for
politicians at such a crisis to forgo the opportunity. Most of the
Liberal party would have preferred to drop the Bill temporarily and
refer it to a Committee of Enquiry. Mr. Lloyd George was convinced that
this would be fatal to his measure, concerning which he was possessed by
a missionary zeal. Probably when his career comes under the study of
impartial history it will be perceived that never at any moment was he
so passionately and so honestly in earnest as upon this quest. But it is
certain that by pursuit of it he created enormous difficulties in the
way of those reforms which the democratic alliance at large most desired
to achieve. He carried his point; an autumn session followed, in which
the mind of the electorate was diverted from the Irish question and all
other questions except that of Insurance, and Parliament itself was
jaded to the brink of exhaustion.

The matter was difficult for us in Ireland because, owing to the
different system of Public Health Administration, many of the most
important provisions could not apply, and because the Bill as a whole
was framed to meet the needs of a highly industrialized and crowded
community. Broadly speaking, it was less desired in Ireland than in
Great Britain; and even for Great Britain Mr. Lloyd George was
legislating in advance of public opinion rather than in response to it.
Mr. O'Brien and his following vehemently opposed the application of the
Bill to Ireland; and the Irish Catholic Bishops, by a special
resolution, expressed their view to the same effect. The Bill, however,
had a powerful advocate in Mr. Devlin, and the Irish party decided to
support its extension to Ireland, subject to certain modifications which
they obtained.

Apart from the new unsettlement of public opinion which it created both
in Great Britain and in Ireland, the Insurance Act added to our
difficulties on the Home Rule question. It was clear already that the
question of finance lay like a rock ahead. Up to 1908 the proceeds of
Irish revenue had always given a margin over the cost of all Irish
services, though that margin had dwindled almost to vanishing-point. Old
Age Pensions completely turned the beam and left us in the position of
costing more than we contributed. Now the outlay on Insurance added half
a million a year to the balance against us.

Still, difficulties and perplexities were not limited to one side. The
Tory party were much divided since the crisis on the Parliament Act. A
section, and the most active section, had been violently opposed to the
surrender on the critical division, and these men were profoundly
discontented with Mr. Balfour's leadership; so Mr. Balfour, yielding to
intimations, suddenly resigned. Somewhat unexpectedly, Mr. Bonar Law was
chosen to succeed him, Mr. Long and Mr. Chamberlain waiving their
respective claims.

This choice was of sinister augury. Mr. Law did not know Ireland. But,
Canadian-born, he came from a country in which the Irish factions and
theological enmities had always had their counterpart; his father, a
Presbyterian Minister, came of Ulster stock. All the blood in him
instinctively responded to the tap of the Orange drum. As far back as
January 27, 1911, he had urged armed resistance to Home Rule.

This was a line which Mr. Balfour did not see his way to take, and
probably here rather than elsewhere lay the reason for the choice of Mr.
Bonar Law. The most active section of the Tory party--probably a
minority, for in such cases minorities decide--regarded the passing of
the Parliament Act as an outrage on the Constitution, which should be
resisted by any means, constitutional or unconstitutional. But no
possibility existed of mobilizing a force in Great Britain to fight for
the veto of the House of Lords, nor again did the resistance to a new
Franchise Act, or even to Welsh Disestablishment, promise to be
desperate. In one part only of these islands was there material for a
form of struggle in which the ballot-box and the division lobby might be
supplemented, if not replaced, by quite other methods of political war.
The Tory party saw in Ulster their best fighting chance. There was no
use in telling them that they jeopardized the British Constitution; from
their point of view the British Constitution--as they had known it--was
already gone; it was destroyed in principle and must be either restored
or refashioned according to their mind.

This temper, with the attitude towards parliamentary tradition which it
produced, rendered the political history of the next two and a half
years unlike any other in the history of these countries. The main
purpose of this book is to record and illustrate Redmond's action during
the period which began with the opening of the Great War. But since that
action was conditioned by the circumstances preceding the war--since in
two notable ways it aimed at a solution of the fierce political struggle
which the war interrupted--the political history connected with the
passage of the Home Rule Bill through Parliament must be outlined in
detail, with avoidance, so far as may be, of a controversial tone.


It is however necessary, before closing this preliminary review, to take
some account of Redmond's relation to his party, and, in general, of the
working of the parliamentary machine. Difficulties were imposed on him
and on the party from 1910 onwards by our very success.

Electoral chances had placed us apparently in the position of maximum
power. From January 1910 onwards we had a Government committed to Home
Rule, yet so far dependent on us that we could put it out at any moment.
Yet this was by no means an ideal state of affairs. The Government's
weakness was our weakness, and they were liable to the reproach that
they never proposed a Home Rule measure except when they could not
dispense with the Irish vote. Still, from this embarrassing position we
achieved an extraordinary result. Right across our path was the obstacle
of the House of Lords. It was not an impassable barrier for measures in
which the British working classes were keenly interested--for it let the
Trades Disputes Bill go through; but it was wholly regardless of Irish
and of Welsh popular opinion. Under Redmond's leadership we smashed the
House of Lords. The English middle class instinct for compromise was
asserting itself, when he took hold and gave direction to the great mass
of popular indignation which the hereditary chamber had roused against

Yet guiding action in an alliance of which he was not the head was
delicate work. A clumsy speaker in debate might do infinite mischief.
When a party is in opposition, all its members can talk, and are
encouraged to talk, to the utmost; little harm can be done to one's own
side by what is said in criticism of measures proposed. Support and
exposition is a much more ticklish business. Add to this the fact that
under the fully developed system of parliamentary obstruction--that is,
of using discussion to prevent legislation from being put through--the
best service that a member can render to Government is to say nothing,
but vote.

The tactics of limiting discussion to chosen speakers in important
debates and of discouraging sharply any intervention which might help to
delay a division were pushed further in the Irish party than elsewhere.
We were there under different conditions from the rest; our objective
was as clearly defined as in a military operation: and we all understood
the position. We recognized also that negotiation must be a matter for
Redmond and his inner cabinet of three, and that many things could not
be usefully discussed in a body of seventy men. But the net result was
that the bulk of the party lost interest in their work, and, which was
worse, that Ireland lost interest in the bulk of the party. It followed,
not unnaturally, that the constituencies held one voting machine to be
as good as another, and they did not generally send any men who could
have been of service in debate. They did not any longer see their
members heading a fiery campaign against rents, or flamboyant in attack
on the Government; they heard very little of them at all. They knew
little and cared less about the work of education in British
constituencies, which had to be carried on through the mouths of Irish

Redmond has often been blamed, but quite unjustly, for failure to
attract men of talent into his ranks. Parnell had that power. He had,
and used, the right of suggesting names. But under the constitution of
the United Irish League (originally the work of Mr. William O'Brien when
reunion was accomplished in 1900) the machinery of local conventions was
set up and no interference with their choice was permitted to the
central directorate--which could only insist that a man properly
selected must take the party pledge. Whether this machinery was
inevitable or no, cannot be argued here; but Redmond himself complained
repeatedly in public that it worked badly. Candidates were often chosen
purely for local and even personal considerations, and seldom with any
real thought of finding the man best fitted to do Ireland's work at

This evil, for it was an evil, resulted from the political stagnation in
a country where one dominant permanent issue overshadowed all others.
There being no Unionist candidature possible in the majority of
constituencies, any contest was deprecated--and from some points of view
rightly--as leading to possible faction between Nationalists. The choice
of a member really fell into too few hands; the electorate as a whole
was not sufficiently interested. Nevertheless, several able men came
into our ranks, and under the conditions it was not possible to utilize
their talents fully, as they would have been utilized had we been in
opposition, not in support of the Government. More could have been done,
however, to give them their opportunity, and the responsibility for not
varying the list of speakers rests on Redmond. It was his policy to
avoid personal intervention, and to leave such choices to be settled by
proposals from the party itself. This was a real limitation to his
excellence as leader--for leader he was.

There was, however, an even more important limitation arising out of his
personal temperament. As chairman, I never expect to see his equal. He
had the most perfect public manners of any man I have known, whether in
dealing with some vast assembly or small confidential gathering. The
latter type of meeting is the more difficult to handle, and nothing
could exceed his gift for presiding over and guiding debate. He could
set out a political situation to his party with extraordinary force and
lucidity. He could also, when he chose, so present an issue as to
suggest almost irresistibly the conclusion which he desired--and this
was how he led. Where he came short in the quality of leadership was in
the personal contact.

His relations with all his followers in the party were courteous and
cordial; yet without the least appearance of aloofness he was always
aloof. He did not invite discussion. It needed some courage to go to him
with a question in policy, and if you went, the answer would be simply a
"Yes" or "No." He lacked what Lord Morley attributed to Gladstone, "the
priceless gift of throwing his mind into common stock." No one thought
more constantly, or further ahead; but he could not, rather than would
not, impart his mind by bringing it into contact with others. Men like
being taken into their leader's confidence, and he knew this and, I have
reason to believe, knew the disability which his temperament laid upon
him. Yet he never made an effort to combat it, partly I think from
pride, for he hated everything that savoured of earwigging; he was not
going to put constraint upon himself that his following might be more
enthusiastic. There was no make-believe about him, and he was never one
who liked discussion for discussion's sake.

Profoundly conservative, he had no welcome for novel points of view. I
cannot put it more strongly than by saying that he was more apparently
aware of the qualities which made T.M. Kettle difficult to handle in his
team than of those which made that brilliant personality an ornament and
a force in our party. A more serious aspect of this conservatism was the
separation which it produced between him and the newer Ireland. He
welcomed the Gaelic League and disliked Sinn Fein, but undervalued both
as forces: he was never really in touch with either of them. Ideally
speaking, he ought to have seen to it that his party, which represented
mainly the standpoint of Parnell's day, was kept in sympathy with the
new Young Ireland.

But from the point of view of those who shared his outlook--and they
were the vast majority, in Ireland and in the party--Redmond's essential
limitation, as a leader, was that he lacked the magnetic qualities
which produce idolatry and blind allegiance. What his followers gave him
was admiration, liking and profound respect. No less than this was
strictly due to his high standard of honour, his scorn of all personal
pettiness, his control of temper. In twelve years I heard many
complaints of the manner in which things were managed in the party: I
scarcely ever remember to have heard anyone complain of him. He was
always spoken of as "The Chairman"; no one attributed to him sole
responsibility; and he was the last on whom any man desired to lay a

Yet when it came, as it often did, to a question of weighing advices one
against the other, there was no mistake how men's opinions inclined. He
had taught his party by experience to have almost implicit confidence in
his judgment; and by this earned confidence he led and he ruled.



The year 1912, in which the straight fight on Home Rule was to begin,
opened stormily. Mr. Churchill was announced to speak under the auspices
of the Ulster Liberal Association in the Ulster Hall at Belfast. It was
the hall in which his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had used the
famous phrase "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right." Belfast was
determined that the son should not unsay what the father had said in
this consecrated building; it would be, as an Ulster member put it in
the House of Commons, "a profanation." On this first round, Ulster won;
Mr. Churchill spoke at Belfast, but not in the Ulster Hall. There were
angry demonstrations against him; his person had to be strongly
protected and he went away from the meeting by back streets. It was
noticeable that no such precautions were needed for Redmond, who
attended the meeting and walked quite unmolested through the crowd. The
British electorate, as a whole, was somewhat scandalized by the
exhibition of so violent a temper; but the education of the British
electorate was only beginning.

Congestion of business from the previous session deferred the
introduction of the Home Rule Bill till April. Great demonstrations for
and against it were held in advance. In Dublin on March 31st was such a
gathering as scarcely any man remembered. O'Connell Street is rather a
boulevard than a thoroughfare; it is as wide as Whitehall and its length
is about the same. On that day, from the Parnell monument at the north
end to the O'Connell monument at the south, you could have walked on the
shoulders of the people. Four separate platforms were erected, and
Redmond spoke from that nearest to the statue of his old chief. He dwelt
on the universality of the demonstration; nine out of eleven
corporations were represented officially by their civic officers;
professional men, business men, were all fully to the fore. But one
section of his countrymen were conspicuously absent. To Ulster he had
this to say:

"We have not one word of reproach or one word of bitter feeling. We have
one feeling only in our hearts, and that is an earnest longing for the
arrival of the day of reconciliation."

A feature of that gathering, little noted at the time, assumes strange
significance in retrospect. At one platform Patrick Pearse, then
headmaster of St. Enda's school, spoke in Irish. What he said may be
thus roughly rendered:

"There are as many men here as would destroy the British Empire if they
were united and did their utmost. We have no wish to destroy the
British, we only want our freedom. We differ among ourselves on small
points, but we agree that we want freedom, in some shape or other. There
are two sections of us--one that would be content to remain under the
British Government in our own land, another that never paid, and never
will pay, homage to the King of England. I am of the latter, and
everyone knows it. But I should think myself a traitor to my country if
I did not answer the summons to this gathering, for it is clear to me
that the Bill which we support to-day will be for the good of Ireland
and that we shall be stronger with it than without it. I am not
accepting the Bill in advance. We may have to refuse it. We are here
only to say that the voice of Ireland must be listened to henceforward.
Let us unite and win a good Act from the British; I think it can be
done. But if we are tricked this time, there is a party in Ireland, and
I am one of them, that will advise the Gael to have no counsel or
dealings with the Gall [the foreigner] for ever again, but to answer
them henceforward with the strong hand and the sword's edge. Let the
Gall understand that if we are cheated once more there will be red war
in Ireland."

The platform where Pearse spoke was set up within a stone's throw of the
General Post Office in which, four years later, he was to give effect to
the words he spoke then and to earn his own death in undoing the work of
Redmond's lifetime. At that moment no one heeded his utterance, nor the
speech, also in Irish, of Professor John MacNeill from another platform,
which went, as its speaker was destined to go, half the way with Pearse.

But Redmond never attempted to conceal the existence of this element in
Ireland. Speaking on the introduction of the Home Rule Bill on April
11th, he dealt at the very opening with the charge that the Irish people
wanted separation and that the Irish leaders were separatists in

"I will be perfectly frank on this matter. There always has been, and
there is to-day, a certain section of Irishmen who would like to see
separation from this country. They are a small, a very small section.
They were once a very large section. They are a very small section, but
the men who hold, these views at this moment only desire separation as
an alternative to the present system, and if you change the present
system and give into the hands of Irishmen the management of purely
Irish affairs, even that small feeling in favour of separation will
disappear; and if it survives at all, I would like to know how under
those circumstances it could be stronger or more powerful for mischief
than at the present moment."

Sincerer words were never spoken, nor, I think, a better justified
forecast. Where Redmond and all of us were wrong was that we
underestimated the possibility of accomplishing what Pearse ultimately
accomplished, even when assisted by the widespread disillusionment and
sense of betrayal which was the atmosphere of 1916.

But no one in Ireland in 1912 thought of a separatist rebellion. What
was on all tongues was the possibility of physical resistance to Home
Rule. The debate on the first reading went by with little reference to
this contingency, but Mr. Bonar Law closed his speech on that note. He
had attended the great counter-demonstration in Belfast which followed
ours in Dublin and had seen in it "the expression of the soul of a

"These people look upon their being subject to an executive Government
taken out of the Parliament in Dublin with as much horror, I believe
with more horror, than the people of Poland ever regarded their being
put under subjection by Russia; they say they will not submit except by
force to such government. These people in Ulster are under no illusion.
They know they cannot fight the British Army. But these men are ready,
in what they believe to be the cause of justice and liberty, to lay down
their lives."

Bloodshed, if bloodshed there was to be, was anticipated in Ulster only,
and the resistance indicated at this point was purely passive. But even
after the Bill had been introduced, Tories entertained the hope that a
Nationalist Convention might save them trouble and reject what the
Government offered. Even Mr. O'Brien, however, had given the Bill a
lukewarm approval, and at this moment Redmond's prestige stood very
high. When the Convention assembled, he utilized that advantage to the
full. These assemblies presented a problem which might intimidate the
most capable chairman. Theoretically deliberative, they had at least a
representative character; all branches of the United Irish League, all
branches of the Hibernians and Foresters, all county and district
councils sent up their chosen men, to whom were added such clergy as
chose to attend. The result was a mass of over two thousand persons
packed into a single room; they deliberated in the physical conditions
of a crowd; hearing was difficult, disorder only too easily brought
about. I have seen one of these Conventions sharply divided in opinion,
and counting of votes would have been impossible. On this day, however,
there was only one opinion: the business was to manifest support and to
strengthen the leader's hand, Redmond at the outset laid down the
proposition that it was their "duty" as Nationalists to accept what he
described as a far better Bill than Gladstone ever offered. He further
indicated the need for a resolution that the question of supporting,
proposing or rejecting amendments should be left to the Irish party.
This was promptly carried by acclamation. All decisions were unanimous
that day.

But before this or any other resolution was put to the Convention,
Redmond asked the multitude there to give, what they gave most
willingly, a welcome to Mr. Gladstone's grandson, who as a young member
of Parliament had just voted for the Bill. The greeting which he
received showed that Ireland had not forgotten what Gladstone's last
years had been.

In the first of his speeches upon the Bill, Sir Edward Grey, a survivor
from Gladstone's Ministry, said, as he threw a glance back over the
struggle from 1886 to 1893:

"Two things stirred me at the time; they stir me still. One is Mr.
Gladstone's intense grip of the fact that there was a national spirit in
Ireland, and the splendour of the effort he made in his last years to
acknowledge and reconcile that spirit. The other is the Irish response
to Mr. Gladstone. It was not the assent of mere tacticians who had
gained an advocate and a point. It was genuine, warm and living feeling,
a response of gratitude and sympathy the same in kind and as living as
his own."

If Redmond's task from 1912 onwards was not lightened by the existence
of any such genuine, warm and living feeling for any of Mr. Asquith's
Ministry, perhaps Ireland is not to blame. There was no intense grip of
any fact in the Government's attitude, and on one cardinal point they
were unstable as water. Sir Edward Carson, in opposing the introduction
of the Bill, had used the words: "What argument is there that you can
raise for giving Home Rule to Ireland that you do not equally raise for
giving Home Rule to that Protestant minority in the north-east
province?" Redmond, following him, made one of his few false moves in
debate. "Is that the proposal? Is that the demand?" he asked. Sir Edward
Carson shot the question at him: "Will you agree to it?" Seldom does the
House see a practised speaker so much embarrassed; Redmond in confusion
passed to another topic. He was soon to be confronted with that same
line of reasoning, pushed not dialectically by an opponent, but as a
step in parliamentary negotiation from the Treasury Bench. Mr.
Churchill, who introduced the Second Reading, made it apparent that the
demonstration in Belfast had not been wasted on him.

"Whatever Ulster's rights may be," he said, "they cannot stand in the
way of the whole of the rest of Ireland. Half a province cannot impose a
permanent veto on the nation. The utmost they can claim is for
themselves. I ask, do they claim separate treatment for themselves? Do
the counties of Down and Antrim and Londonderry, for instance, ask to be
excepted from the scope of this Bill? Do they ask for a parliament of
their own, or do they wish to remain here? We ought to know."

This was to proceed at once into the region of a bargain. Mr. Gladstone,
with his grip on the existence of a national spirit in Ireland, would
have known that concession on such point was a very different matter
from some alteration in the financial terms or in the composition of the
Parliament. It admitted, in fact, the contention that Ireland was not a
nation but a geographical expression.

As soon as the Bill went into Committee, the result was seen. The first
serious amendment proposed to exclude the four counties, Antrim, Down,
Armagh, and Derry, and it was moved from the Liberal benches. Three
Liberal speakers supported it in the early stages of a debate which
lasted to the third day--and on the division the majority, which had
been 100 for the Second Reading, fell to 69. Mr. Churchill did not
vote--nor, although this was not then so apparently significant, did Mr.
Lloyd George.

Thus from the very first the point of danger revealed itself. By the
mere threat of a resistance which could only be overcome through the use
of troops, Ulster had made the first dint for the insertion of a wedge
into the composite Home Rule alliance, and into the Cabinet itself. All
this had been gained without any tactical sacrifice, without even
anything like a full disclosure of the force which lay behind this line
of attack.

Nor was the full extent of weakness revealed. In such a case, much
depended on the personality of the man who moved the amendment, and Mr.
Agar-Robartes was one of the most whimsically incongruous figures in the
Government ranks. Twentieth-century Liberalism wears a somewhat drab and
serious aspect, but this ultra-fashionable example of gilded youth would
have been in his place among the votaries of Charles James Fox. The
climax of his incongruity was a vehement and rather antiquated
Protestantism; he was, for instance, among the few who opposed the
alteration of the Coronation oath to a formula less offensive to
Catholics. Nobody doubted that his Cornish constituents would endorse
whatever he did, for the House held few more popular human beings, but
no one took him very seriously as a politician. This particular view of
his certainly made no breach between him and his inseparable associate,
Mr. Neil Primrose, who, as time went on, took as strong a line against
Ulster's claims as Agar-Robartes did for them.--_Sunt lacrimae rerum_.
I remember vividly in August 1914 the sudden apparition of this pair,
side by side as always, in their familiar place below the gangway, but
in quite unfamiliar guise, for khaki was still new to the benches. The
two brilliant lads--for they were little more--have gone now, swept into
the abyss of war's wreckage; the controversy which divided them remains,
virulent as ever.

Agar-Robartes stuck to his guns and voted against the Bill henceforward;
the other Liberals who supported him were ultimately brought into the
Government lobby. What had really mattered was Mr. Churchill's speech on
the Second Reading. Captain Pirrie, one of Redmond's few closely
attached friends outside the Irish party, bound, I think, far more in
affection to the Irish leader than to his own chiefs, complained angrily
of the Government's evasive reticence. This brought up the Prime
Minister, whose speech was brief and direct:

"This amendment proceeds on an assumption which I believe is radically
false, namely, that you can split Ireland into parts. You can no more
split Ireland into parts than you can split England or Scotland into

When Sir Edward Carson had spoken, the Ulster leader's speech enabled
Redmond to point out that Ulstermen refused to accept this proposal as a
means by which Ulster might be reconciled to Home Rule, but were ready
to vote for it simply as a wrecking amendment. General opinion on both
sides of the House agreed that the amendment made the Bill impossible;
and the majority held that therefore Ulster must give way. Ulster, on
the other hand, held that therefore there must be no Home Rule Bill. But
there was a Liberal element evidently not convinced that Home Rule might
not be possible with Ulster excluded. Mr. Birrell admitted that the plan
of segregating a portion had been considered, but had been rejected, on
the merits, as unworkable. Still he professed himself open to
conviction. The argument which Mr. Bonar Law decided to use was a
threat. Government are saying to the people of Ulster, he said,
"Convince us that you are in earnest, show us that you will fight, and
we will yield to you as we have yielded to everybody else." Captain
Craig, following, said that the Prime Minister anticipated that Ulster's
objection would after a few years be merely a ripple on the surface. "If
the right honourable gentleman has challenged this part of his Majesty's
dominions to civil war, we accept the challenge."

This temper soon had ugly expression. On June 29th an excursion party of
the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the Roman Catholic counterpart to the
Orange Order) met with another excursion party of Protestants, mainly
Sunday-school children, at a place called Castledawson. Taunts were
exchanged and one of the Hibernians tried to snatch a flag from the
other procession; so a disturbance began in which some of the children
were hurt and many frightened. This discreditable incident was magnified
with all the rancour of partisanship--as in the state of feeling must
have been expected. But the reprisals were startling. All Catholics were
driven out of the Belfast shipyards; many were injured, and over two
thousand men were still deprived of work on July 12th, when the Unionist
party held a great meeting at Blenheim. Mr. Bonar Law, facing for the
first time a vast typical gathering of his supporters, said that, on a
previous occasion, when speaking as little more than a private member of
Parliament, he had counselled action outside constitutional limits. Now,
he emphasized it that he took the same attitude as leader of the
Unionist party.

"We shall use any means--whatever means seem to us to be most likely to
be effective--any means to deprive them" (the Government) "of the power
they have usurped and to compel them to face the people whom they have
deceived. The Home Rule Bill in spite of us may go through the House of
Commons. There are things stronger than parliamentary majorities. I can
imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster will go in which I shall
not be ready to support them, and in which they will not be supported by
the overwhelming majority of the British people."

Sir Edward Carson said on behalf of Ulster: "It will be our duty shortly
to take such steps--and, indeed, they are already being taken--as will
perfect our arrangements for making Home Rule absolutely impossible. We
will shortly challenge the Government to interfere with us if they dare.
We will do this regardless of consequences, of all personal loss and
inconvenience. They may tell us, if they like, that this is treason."

Well might Mr. Bonar Law say in returning thanks that this day "would be
a turning-point in their political history."

Moderate opinion was by no means glad to have reached this
turning-point, and _The Times_ rebuked Mr. Law for his violence. But,
tactically, the Unionists were right: they had a Government indisposed
to action and they made the most of their opportunity. Mr. Churchill
again took up the conduct of the controversy, and in the recess
proceeded to outline a policy which he described as federal devolution.
The Prime Minister had said you could no more split Ireland into parts
than England or Scotland. But Mr. Churchill argued that, in the interest
of efficiency, England must be divided into provincial units with
separate assemblies; that Lancashire, for instance, had on many matters
a very different outlook from that of Yorkshire. He did not draw the
conclusion; but it was not difficult to infer that Mr. Churchill was at
least as ready to give separate rights to Ulster as to any group of
English counties, and was equally ready to pitch overboard the Prime
Minister's argument for refusing partition in Ireland.

In the meantime Ulster's preparations continued. It was indicated that
they would bear a religious character, and the Protestant Churches were
deeply involved. The proposal of a Covenant was made public in August,
though the actual signing of it was deferred to "Ulster Day," September
28th. Sir Edward Carson was provided with a guard carrying swords and
wooden rifles, and in one instance dummy cannon made a feature of the
pageant. These things excited a good deal of derision, and the language
of the Covenant was held to be only "hypothetical treason." The main
words were:

"We stand by one another in defending for ourselves and our children our
cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom and in
using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present
conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland."

The Covenant in that committed the signatories to no breach of the law;
it was only a pledge to refuse to recognize the authority of a
Parliament not yet in being. All Ulster's proceedings might so far be
dismissed, as the Attorney-General, Mr. Rufus Isaacs, dismissed them, as
being "a demonstration admirably stage-managed, and led by one of great
histrionic gifts." The threats of the use of force, said the
Attorney-General, would not turn them aside by a hair's-breadth. Mr.
Asquith, equally vigorous in his speech, was less decisive in his
conclusions. Speaking at Ladybank on October 5th, he denounced "the
reckless rodomontade of Blenheim, which furnishes forth the complete
grammar of anarchy." But he was careful to point out that there was no
demand for separate treatment for Ulster, and that Irish Unionists were
simply refusing to consent to Home Rule under any conditions. He
refrained from saying how a demand for separate treatment of Ulster
would be dealt with if it were made.

When Parliament resumed its sittings, in a temper much heated by all the
challenge and controversy of the recess, Mr. Lloyd George pushed this
line of argument a shade further. He argued that Sir Edward Carson
himself persisted in treating Ireland as a unit.

"Until Ulster departs from that position there is no case. Ulster has a
right to claim a hearing for separate treatment; she has no right to
say, 'Because we do not want Home Rule ourselves the majority of
Irishmen are not to have Home Rule.'"

Yet upon the balance of events, Unionists were probably disappointed. A
very strong British feeling against Sir Edward Carson and his Belfast
following had been generated by the expulsion of Catholics from the
shipyards and in general by the advocacy of civil war. In October 1912
several notable men who had previously counted as Unionists--Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle, Sir Frederick Pollock, Sir J. West-Ridgway--all declared
for Home Rule. Exasperation against the incidence of the new Insurance
Act lost the Government votes at every by-election; but the Irish cause
on the whole gained ground, and the chief cause of that advance was the
respect universally felt for Redmond's personality and leadership. On
November 22nd he attended a huge meeting of the National Liberal
Federation at Nottingham along with the Prime Minister and received a
wonderful welcome. The step was novel. Never since Parnell's work began
had the leader of the Irish people stood on the same platform in Great
Britain with the leader of any English party. It was, however, the
return of a compliment, for Mr. Asquith had come to Dublin in the summer
and there spoken along with the Irish leader. Moreover, a recent
incident had shown how necessary it was to maintain the closest
co-operation; a snap division on November 11th had inflicted defeat on
the Government and occasioned loss of perhaps a fortnight's
parliamentary time.

But in the very act of thus strengthening his hold on the British
electorate, Redmond gave ground to those in Ireland who desired to
represent him as a mere tool of the Liberal party, a pawn in Mr.
Asquith's game. Foreseeing this evil did not help to combat it, and on
the whole it was Redmond's inclination to take a sanguine view of his
country's good sense and generosity.

The Committee stage of discussion lasted beyond the end of the year. On
the finance arrangements Redmond had to face fierce opposition from Mr.
O'Brien's party, which was endorsed by the Irish Council of County
Councils. Here difficulties were inevitable, and attack was easy either
for the Unionists, who pressed the argument that Ireland was to be
started on its career of self-government with a subsidy of some two
millions per annum from Great Britain, or for the O'Brienites, who urged
that the country was already overtaxed in proportion to its resources,
that it needed large expenditure for development, and that the possible
budget indicated by the Bill left no serious possibility for reducing
taxes or for undertaking even necessary expenditure. Redmond, on the
other hand, was bound to conciliate the vested interests of civil
servants, officials in all degrees, and the immense police force.
Retrenchment on the vast area of unproductive expenditure which Castle
government had created could only be hoped for at a very distant date.
He could not therefore promise substantial economy; nor could he argue
for a further increase of subsidy without playing into the Tories'
hands. On all this detail of the measure, the attack in debate was bound
to be very powerful.

So far as Great Britain was concerned, the reply of Home Rulers was
tolerably effective. In 1886 it had been feasible to propose Home Rule
with an Imperial contribution of two and a half millions. By 1893 the
possible margin had dropped heavily, and Mr. Gladstone had foretold that
within fifteen years Ireland would absorb more money for purely Irish
services than Irish taxation produced. This prophecy had been fulfilled
to the letter, and everyone saw that to continue the Union meant
increasing this charge automatically. It was better to cut the loss and
at least say that it should not exceed a fixed figure.

But in Ireland men dwelt always on the Report of the Financial Relations
Commission, which had represented the balance as heavily against England
and the account for overtaxation of the poorer country as reaching three
hundred millions. No man quoted this document oftener than Redmond, and
none was a firmer believer in its justification. But he realized, as his
countrymen did not, that such a claim could never hope for cash
settlement, that its value was as an argument for the concession of
freedom upon generous terms. How could he urge that the terms proposed
were ungenerous, when Great Britain offered to pay the cost of all Irish
services--amounting to a million and a half more than Irish revenue--and
to provide over and above this a yearly grant of half a million,
dropping gradually, it is true, but still remaining at a subsidy of two
hundred thousand a year so long as the finance arrangements of the Bill

Nevertheless, these arrangements were bad ones, and this was where the
Bill was most vulnerable on its merits; for self-government without the
control of taxation and expenditure is at best an unhopeful experiment.

But in the public mind at large only one difficulty bulked big, and that
was Ulster. Men on both sides began to be uneasy about the consequences
of what was happening, and this temper reflected itself in the House. On
New Year's Day 1913, at the beginning of the Report stage, Sir Edward
Carson moved the exclusion of the province of Ulster. His speech was in
a new tone of studied conciliation. But, as the Prime Minister
immediately made clear, there was no offer that if this concession were
made opposition would cease. It was merely recommended as the sole
alternative to civil war. Redmond, in following, let fall an _obiter
dictum_ on the position of the Irish controversy:

"No one who observes the current of popular opinion in this country can
doubt for one instant that if this opposition from the north-east corner
of Ulster did not exist, Home Rule would go through to-morrow as an
agreed Bill."

For this reason, he said, he would go almost any length within certain
well-defined limits to meet that section of his fellow-countrymen. His
conditions were, first, that the proposal must be a genuine one, not put
forward as a piece of tactics to wreck the Bill, but frankly as part of
a general settlement of the Home Rule question; secondly, that it must
be of reasonable character; and thirdly, not inconsistent with the
fundamental principle of national self-government. Ulster's present
proposal, if accepted, carried with it no promise of a settlement; it
was unreasonable as proposing to strike out of Ireland five counties
with Nationalist majorities. But finally, on a broader ground, it
destroyed the national right of Ireland.

"Ireland for us is one entity. It is one land. Tyrone and Tyrconnell are
as much a part of Ireland as Munster or Connaught. Some of the most
glorious chapters connected with our national struggle have been
associated with Ulster--aye, and with the Protestants of Ulster--and I
declare here to-day, as a Catholic Irishman, notwithstanding all the
bitterness of the past, that I am as proud of Derry as of Limerick. Our
ideal in this movement is a self-governing Ireland in the future, when
all her sons of all races and creeds within her shores will bring their
tribute, great or small, to the great total of national enterprise,
national statesmanship, and national happiness. Men may deride that
ideal; they may say that it is a futile and unreliable ideal, but they
cannot call it an ignoble one. It is an ideal that we, at any rate, will
cling to, and because we cling to it, and because it is there, embedded
in our hearts and natures, it is an absolute bar to such a proposal as
this amendment makes, a proposal which would create for all times a
sharp, eternal dividing line between Irish Catholics and Irish
Protestants, and a measure which would for all time mean the partition
and disintegration of our nation. To that we as Irish Nationalists can
never submit."

Later in the debate, Mr. Bonar Law admitted quite frankly the argument
against treating all Ulster as Unionist, and he proceeded to suggest
that any county in Ulster might be given power to decide whether or not
it should come into the new Parliament. It was plain, however, and Mr.
Churchill made it plainer, that the Unionist leader did not speak for
Ulster; Ulster's intention was still to use its own opposition to Home
Rule as a bar to self-government for the whole of Ireland.

Equally was it plain that the plebiscite by counties would not be
unacceptable to Mr. Churchill.

The proposal for the exclusion of the entire province was defeated by a
majority of 97 and the Third Reading was carried by 110. A few days
later the city of Derry returned a Home Ruler, and the Ulster
representation became seventeen for the Bill and sixteen against. This
dramatic change produced a considerable effect on British opinion.
Redmond, speaking at a luncheon given to the winner, Mr. Hogg, indicated
the lines on which he was disposed to bargain. He would be willing to
give Ulster more than its proportional share of representation in the
Irish Parliament.

The debate in the House of Lords was marked by certain speeches which
showed that public opinion had moved considerably. Lord Dunraven
declared for the Second Reading, though pressing all the line of
objection to the Bill which had been taken by Mr. O'Brien and his party.
He heaped scorn also as an Irishman upon "this absurd theory of two
nations which is only invented to make discord where accord would
naturally be." Lord MacDonnell, whose administrative experience could
no more be questioned than his genius for administration, held that
though amendment was needed the framework of the Bill was good, and that
urgent necessity existed for the change to self-government. He alluded
to the opinion expressed by Mr. Balfour in 1905, that the proper way of
reforming Dublin Castle was by increasing the power of the Chief
Secretary and his Under-Secretary, and thereby getting a stronger grip
on the various departments of the "complicated system" prevailing. "I
thought so too," said Lord MacDonnell, who in 1905 as Under-Secretary
had tried his hand at this reform. "It was one of the illusions that I
took with me to Ireland twenty years ago--but I am now a wiser man....
My observation of the Boards had convinced me before I left Ireland that
no scheme of administrative reform which depends on bureaucratic
organization for its success, or which has not behind it a popular
backing, has the least chance of success in an attempt to establish in
Ireland a government that is satisfactory to the Imperial Parliament or
acceptable to the Irish people."--This was a repudiation of the Irish
Council Bill of 1907 by its main author.

Lord Grey, a vivid and attractive personality, declared strongly for
"such a measure of Home Rule as will give the Irish people power to
manage their own domestic affairs." It was a conviction that had been
forced upon him by his experience of Greater Britain. "Practically every
American, every Canadian, every Australian is a Home Ruler." But the
settlement must proceed upon federal lines; his ideal for Ireland was
the provincial status of Ontario or Quebec, linked federally to a
central parliament at Westminster.

The most significant speech, however, came from the Archbishop of York.
Disclaiming all party allegiance, Dr. Lang claimed to express "the
opinions of a very large number of fair-minded citizens." He admitted
that there was an Irish problem, which could not be solved by "a policy
however generous of promoting the economic welfare of Ireland." "Some
measure of Home Rule is necessary not only to meet the needs of Ireland
but the needs of the Imperial Parliament." This Bill, however, in his
opinion, was ill-adapted to the latter purpose. It would be a block
rather than a relief to the congestion of business. But these objections
were "abstract and academic" in face of the real governing fact.

"The figure of Ulster, grim, determined, menacing, dominates the
scene.... We may not like it. Frankly, I do not like it. It carries
marks of religious and racial bitterness and suspicion. It uses language
about dis-obedience to the law which must provoke disquiet and dislike
in the minds of all who care for the good government of the country. I
am not competent, because I have not shared in the experience of the
history of the Ulster people, to decide whether or not their fears are
groundless. All these things seem to me to be beside the point. If
Ulster means to do what it says, then the results are certainly such as
no citizen can contemplate without grave concern.... I admit, everyone
must admit, that there are circumstances in which a Government is
entitled and bound to run this kind of risk. At the present time I think
we all feel that there is a call upon Governments to stiffen rather than
to slacken their determination in the presence of threats of
dis-obedience or disorder. I will go further and admit that there is one
condition which would justify in my mind His Majesty's Government in
running the risk of the forcible coercion of Ulster. That condition is
that they should have received from the people of this country an
authority, clear and explicit, to undertake that risk. It is perfectly
true that the Prime Minister gave notice that if his party were returned
to power they would be free to raise again the question of Home Rule,
but there is a great difference between the abstract question of Home
Rule and a concrete Home Rule Bill."

That speech undoubtedly represented the temper prevailing in the class
of balancing electors which is so largo in England. Some of us who read
it at the time recognized how far the long struggle for autonomy had
prevailed, but also how strong were the forces which no argument could
reach. Men like Dr. Lang might be offended, even shocked by the action
of those who claimed to be England's garrison in Ireland; but they would
be very slow to use force against such a section, although quite ready
to justify coercion of the Irish majority. Yet what impressed Redmond
was the advance made, rather than the revelation of what resistance
remained. Ho had been more than thirty years an advocate of Ireland's
cause; and now by the spokesman of the impartial educated mind of
England the justice of that cause was admitted. The argument that a
general election was necessary, or would be efficacious in solving the
problem, was one with which he felt well able to contend. In that speech
the Archbishop of York admitted his impression that in by-elections
there had been "much more of Food Taxes and the Insurance Act than of
Home Rule."

On the other hand, for Ulster such a speech had the plainest possible
moral: Ulster's game was to become more grim, more determined, more
menacing. The Home Rule controversy had now resolved itself into a
question whether Ulster really meant business. Sir Edward Carson set
himself to make that plain beyond yea or nay.

In a speech delivered in Belfast, at the opening of a new drill hall, he
asked and answered the question, "Why are we drilling?" He and his
colleagues did not recognize the Parliament Act, he said; a law passed
under it would be only an act of usurpation, a breach of right. "We seek
nothing but the elementary right implanted in every man: the right, if
you are attacked, to defend yourself."

Ulster was going to stand by its Covenant.

"When we talk of force, we use it, if we are driven to use it, to beat
back those who will dare to barter away those elementary rights of
citizenship which we have inherited.... Go on, be ready, you are our
great army. Under what circumstances you have to come into action, you
must leave with us. There are matters which give us grave consideration
which we cannot and ought not to talk about in public. You must trust us
that we will select the most opportune methods of, if necessary, taking
on ourselves the whole government of the community in which we live. I
know a great deal of that will involve statutory illegality, but it will
also involve much righteousness."

Some of the questions which needed grave consideration were suggested by
happenings that followed hard on this speech. Much ridicule had been
poured on the drillings with dummy muskets. Ulster evidently decided to
push the matter a step further. A consignment of one thousand rifles
with bayonets, in cases marked "electrical fittings," was seized at
Belfast on June 3, 1913. Other incidents of the same nature followed. It
was argued, by those who sought to represent the whole campaign as an
elaborate piece of bluff, that the weapons were useless and that they
were deliberately sent to be seized. A feature which scarcely bore out
this view was that one consignment was addressed to the Lord-Lieutenant
of an Ulster county who was also an officer in the Army. A justice of
the peace, or an officer, to whom a consignment of arms had been sent
for a Nationalist organization would have been ordered to clear himself
in the fullest way of complicity, and even of sympathy, or he would have
forfeited his commission. The noble-man involved, however, made no
explanation, and was probably never officially asked to do so.

It was commonly believed in the House of Commons that at some point, if
not repeatedly, Government consulted the Irish leader or his principal
advisers as to whether measures of repression should be undertaken
against Ulster. No such consultation took place. But the opinion
prevailing among the leading Nationalists was no doubt known or
inferred. Mr. Dillon, speaking on June 16, 1914, when the danger-point
had been clearly reached, justified the previous abstinence from

"I have held the view from the beginning that it would not have been
wise policy for a Government engaged in the great work of the political
emancipation of a nation to embark on a career of coercion. I knew, and
knew well, all the difficulties and all the reproaches that the
Government would have to face if they abstained from coercion. It is a
difficult and almost unprecedented course for a Government to take, and
it is, as the Chief Secretary said, a courageous one. But with all its
difficulties and dangers it is the right course. We who have been
through the mill know what the effect of coercion is. We know that you
do not put down Irishmen by coercion. You simply embitter them and
stiffen their backs."

It is therefore unquestionable that the decision to do nothing had
Redmond's approval. Whatever may be thought of that policy, one factor
was assuredly underestimated--the effect produced on the public mind by
the spectacle of highly placed personages defying the law and defying it
with impunity. It was possible to argue that a conviction for
hypothetical treason would be difficult to secure and that failure in a
prosecution would only encourage lawless conduct. But Privy Councillors
who made preparations for prospective rebellion and remained Privy
Councillors were a new phenomenon. The public thought, and it was
apparent that the public would think, that Government was afraid to
quarrel with what is called Society. Society shared that belief and
began to extend its influence in a new direction. No Government can
permit itself to be defied without general relaxation of discipline, and
the effects extended themselves to the Army. At a meeting on July 12th
in Ulster a telegram was read out from "Covenanters" in an Ulster
regiment, urging "No surrender until ammunition is spent and the last
drop of blood." In his speech on that occasion Sir Edward Carson
declared that every day brought him at least half a dozen letters from
British officers asking to be enrolled among the future defenders of
Ulster. One officer, he said, having signed the Covenant, was ordered to
send in his papers and resign his commission. The officer refused to do
so, and after a short time was simply told to resume his duty.

"We have assurance from the Prime Minister," said Sir Edward Carson,
"that the forces of the Crown are not to be used against Ulster.
Government know that they could not rely on the Army to shoot down the
people of Ulster."

Later events in Ireland furnished a grim commentary as to what the Army
would be willing, and would not be willing, to do in the way of shooting
down in Ireland; and such words as these of Sir Edward Carson were
destined to be among the chief difficulties which Redmond had to
encounter when he sought to lead Ireland into the war.

At the meeting of that day, delegates were present from a British League
to assist Ulster in her resistance. Behind this new quasi-military
organization stood now the whole of one great party. Sir Edward Carson
transmitted a message from Mr. Bonar Law in these words:

"Whatever steps we may feel compelled to take, whether they be
constitutional, or in the long run whether they be unconstitutional, we
will have the whole of the Unionist party under his leadership behind

Later in the autumn, on the first anniversary of Ulster Day, there was
formally announced the formation of an Ulster Provisional Government,
with a Military Committee attached to it. A guarantee fund to indemnify
all who might be involved in damaging consequences was set on foot, and
a million sterling was indicated as the necessary amount to be obtained.

In the meantime signs of distress came from the Liberal camp. Mr.
Churchill, in speeches to his constituents, renewed the suggestions for
partition. More notable was a letter from Lord Loreburn, who had till
recently been Lord Chancellor, and who was known as a steady and
outspoken Home Ruler. He appealed in _The Times_ of September 11, 1913,
for a conference between parties on the Irish difficulty. Irish
Nationalist opinion grew profoundly uneasy, and Redmond at Limerick on
October 12th set out his position with weighty emphasis. He referred to
the fact that during the summer he himself, assisted by Mr. Devlin, had
followed Sir Edward Carson and other Ulster speakers from place to place
through Great Britain, and on the same ground had stated the case for
Home Rule. He claimed, and with justice, a triumphant success for this

"The argumentative opposition to Home Rule is dead, and all the violent
language, all the extravagant action, all the bombastic threats, are but
indications that the battle is over."

Still, he was too old a politician, he said, not to build a bridge of
gold to convenience his opponents' retreat, provided that the fruits of
victory were not flung away. Mr. Churchill had told the Ulstermen that
there was no demand they could make which would not be matched, and more
than matched, by their countrymen and the Liberal party. On this it was
necessary to be explicit.

"Irish Nationalists can never be assenting parties to the mutilation of
the Irish nation; Ireland is a unit. It is true that within the bosom of
a nation there is room for diversities of the treatment of government
and of administration, but a unit Ireland is and Ireland must
remain.... The two-nation theory is to us an abomination and a

These were carefully chosen words, and they indicated a possible
acceptance of the proposal that Ulster should have control of its own
administration in regard to local affairs, but that Irish legislation
should be left to a common parliament.

This plan Sir Edward Grey described as his "personal contribution" to a
discussion of possibilities which had been inaugurated by a notable
speech from the Prime Minister. At Ladybank, on October 25th, Mr.
Asquith invited "interchange of views and suggestions, free, frank, and
without prejudice." Nothing, however, could be accepted which did not
conform to three governing considerations. First, there must be
established "a subordinate Irish legislature with an executive
responsible to it"; secondly, "nothing must be done to erect a permanent
and insuperable bar to Irish unity"; and thirdly, though the process of
relieving congestion in the Imperial Parliament could not be fully
accomplished by the present Bill, Ireland must not be made to wait till
a complete scheme of decentralization could be carried out.

The second of these conditions was plainly the most significant. It was
taken to mean that "county option"--the right for each county to decide
whether it would come under a Home Rule Government--would not create "a
permanent and insuperable" obstacle, since each county could be given
the opportunity to vote itself in at any time. Redmond's next important
speech in England showed by its emphasis that he felt a danger. He
denounced "the gigantic game of bluff and black-mail" which was in
progress. The proposed exclusion of Ulster was not a proposition that
could be considered. It would bring about, he thought, the ruin of
Ulster's prosperity. "For us it would mean the nullification of our
hopes and aspirations for the future." It would stereotype an old evil
in the region where it still existed. What Ulster really feared, he
said, was the loss, not of freedom or prosperity, but of Protestant

This was the truth; Protestant ascendancy, which in his boyhood had
existed throughout all Ireland, was in consequence of the Irish party's
work dead in three provinces. It remained and must remain in Ulster,
where Protestants were a majority, but it would be qualified if that
region came under the control of a parliament elected by all Ireland.
That was and is the true reason of Ulster's resistance to national
self-government. What he would concede and what he would reject, Redmond
indicated in general words: "There is no demand, however extravagant and
unreasonable it may appear to us, that we are not ready carefully to
consider, so long as it is consistent with the principle for which
generations of our race have battled, the principle of a settlement
based on the national self-government of Ireland. I shut no door to a
settlement by consent, but ... we will not be intimidated or bullied
into a betrayal' of our trust."

It was noted at that time that he had said nothing to rule out Sir
Edward Grey's proposal, which would have left the local majority
predominant in Ulster's own affairs; and on December 4th Sir Edward Grey
spoke again, showing a firmness that was the more impressive because of
his habitual moderation of tone. One thing, he said, was worse than
carrying Home Rule by force, and that would be the abandonment of Home
Rule. Two suggestions had been made--a proposal for the temporary
exclusion of Ulster and a plan for giving to Ulster administrative
autonomy. Neither had been received by Ulster "in a spirit which seemed
likely to lead to a settlement.... Was it a settlement by consent they
wanted, or was their aim simply the destruction of the Bill?"

This emphasized what Redmond had said a few days earlier at Birmingham,
when he declared that the fight against Home Rule was not an honest one,
that its real purpose was to defeat the Parliament Act and restore to
the Tory party its special control over the legislative machine.

The facts were plain on the surface. The Tories clamoured for a fresh
general election, urging that the electors never realized that the
Liberal programme involved civil war. But to concede this claim
indirectly defeated the Parliament Act, which would then have broken
down at the first attempt to apply it. What added to the insincerity of
the argument was Ulster's repeated refusal to be influenced by the
result of any election. Under no circumstances, speaker after speaker
from Ulster declared, would they submit to Home Rule. The prospect of
civil war remained, with only one limitation. Mr. Bonar Law undertook
that if a general election took place and the Liberals again came back,
the British Unionist party would not support Ulster in physical
resistance. They would, however, continue to oppose a Home Rule Bill by
all constitutional means.

Nevertheless, the English disposition to compromise was already
operating. Mr. Asquith was the last of mankind to make a quixotic stand
for principle, and the most disposed to pride himself on a practical
recognition of realities. His Government was in rough water. During the
summer Mr. Lloyd George's transaction in Marconi shares had been
magnified by partisan rancour into a crime. Much more serious was the
split with Labour, which led to the loss of seat after seat at
by-elections, when the allied forces which stood behind the Parliament
Act attacked each other and let the Tories in. The Women's Franchise
agitation was also coming to its stormiest point.

Redmond's part was one of extraordinary difficulty. The cause for which
he stood was one affecting the interests of only a small minority of the
total electorate concerned in the struggle which now spread over both
islands. The Irish problem belonged in reality to the Victorian era;
those in the British electorate whom it could stir to enthusiasm were
stirred by a memory, not by a new gospel. Normally, but for the chance
of Parnell's overthrow, it would have been solved in Gladstone's last
years. For most Liberals, for all Labour men, the fact that it had
passed beyond the sphere of argument meant a lack of driving force. It
was a part of accepted Liberal orthodoxy; minds were centred rather on
those social controversies in which Mr. Lloyd George was the dominant
figure, and upon which opinion had not yet crystallized.

Further, the cry of Protestant liberties in danger, the cause of
Protestants who conducted their arming to the accompaniment of hymns and
prayer, made inevitably a searching appeal to the feelings of an island
kingdom where the prejudice against Roman Catholics is more instinctive
than anywhere else in the world. Looking back on it all, I marvel not at
the difficulties we encountered, but at the success with which we
surmounted them; and the great element in that success was Redmond's
personality. His dignity, his noble eloquence, his sincerity, and the
large, tolerant nature of the man, won upon the public imagination. His
tact was unfailing. In all those years, under the most envenomed
scrutiny, he never let slip a word that could be used to our
disadvantage. This is merely a negative statement. It is truer to say
that he never touched the question without raising it to the scope of
great issues. Nothing petty, nothing personal came into his discourse;
he so carried the national claim of Ireland that men saw in it at once
the test and the justification of democracy.

That is why the Irish cause, instead of being a millstone round the neck
of the parliamentary alliance, was in truth a living cohesive force. But
in order to keep it so it must be pleaded, not as a question for Ireland
only but for the democracy of Great Britain and, in a still larger
sense, for the Commonwealth of the British Empire.

Liberal statesmen in their desire to simplify their own task
underestimated altogether the difficulty which their professed
short-cuts to the goal--or rather, their attempted circuits round
obstacles--created inevitably for the Irish leader. They did not realize
that his genuine feeling--based on knowledge--for the British democracy
at home, and still more for its offshoots overseas, was unshared by his
countrymen, still aloof, still suspicious, and daily impressed by the
spectacle of those who most paraded allegiance to British Imperialism
professing a readiness to tear up the Constitution rather than allow
freedom to Ireland. Liberal statesmen did not understand that Redmond
could only justify to Ireland the part which he was taking if he won,
and that he and not they must be the judge of what Ireland would
consider a defeat. In all probability, also, they overrated his power
and that of the party which he led. They did not guess at the potency of
new forces which only in these months began to make themselves felt, and
which in the end, breaking loose from Redmond's control, undid his work.
A new phase in Irish history had begun, of which Sir Edward Carson was
the chief responsible author.



The first stir of a new movement in Nationalist Ireland outside the old
political lines came from Labour--from Irish Labour, as yet unorganized
and terribly in need of organization. On August 26, 1913, a strike in
Dublin began under the leadership of Mr. Larkin. It had all the violence
and disorder which is characteristic of economic struggles where Labour
has not yet learned to develop its strength; it opened new cleavages at
this moment when national union was most necessary: it was fought with
the passion of despair by workers whose scale of pay and living was a
disgrace to civilization; and after five months it was not settled but
scotched, leaving dark embers of revolutionary hate scattered through
the capital of Ireland.

One incident showed some of the consequences ready to spring, even in
England itself, from the action taken in Ulster. Mr. Larkin at the end
of October 1913 was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for sedition
and inciting to disturbance. A fierce outcry ran through the Labour
world in Great Britain; by-elections were in progress, and Government
was angrily challenged with having one law for the rich and another for
the poor, one law for Labour and another for the Unionist party. To this
pressure Government yielded, and Mr. Larkin was liberated after a few
days in jail.

But in Ireland more formidable symptoms soon made themselves manifest.
Captain J.R. White, son of Sir George White, the defender of Ladysmith,
was a soldier by hereditary instinct and had won the Distinguished
Service Order in South Africa. But some strain in his composition
answered to other calls, and upon Tolstoyan grounds he ceased to be a
soldier, without ceasing to be a natural leader of men. His first public
appearance was at a meeting in London in support of Home Rule addressed
by a number of prominent persons who were not Roman Catholics. But his
interests were plainly not so much Nationalist as broadly humanitarian;
freedom for the individual soul rather than for the nation was his
object: and he suddenly enrolled himself among Mr. Larkin's allies. His
proposal was outlined to a great assembly of the strikers gathered in
front of Liberty Hall: Mr. Larkin set it out. They must no longer be
"content to assemble in hopeless haphazard crowds" but must "agree to
bring themselves under the influences of an ordered and sympathetic
discipline." "Labour in its own defence must begin to train itself to
act with disciplined courage and with organized and concentrated force.
How could they accomplish this? By taking a leaf out of the book of
Carson. If Carson had permission to train his braves of the North to
fight against the aspirations of the Irish people, then it was
legitimate and fair for Labour to organize in the same militant way to
preserve their rights and to ensure that if they were attacked they
would be able to give a very satisfactory account of themselves."

Thus began in a small sectional manner a national movement which led far
indeed. Mr. O'Cathasaigh, from whose _Story of the Irish Citizen Army_ I
quote, attributes the failure of that purely Labour organization chiefly
to the establishment of the Irish Volunteers.

This was a development which Redmond on his part neither willed nor
approved, yet one which in the circumstances was inevitable. Who could
suppose that the formation of combatant forces would remain a monopoly
of any party? There was no mistaking the weight which a hundred thousand
Ulster Volunteers, drilled and regimented, threw into Sir Edward
Carson's advocacy. As early as September 1913, during the parliamentary
recess, Redmond received at least one letter--and possibly he received
many--urging him to raise the standard of a similar force, and pointing
out that if he did not take this course it might be taken by others less
fit to guide it. The letter of which I speak elicited no answer. It was
never his habit to reply to inconvenient communications--a policy which
he inherited from Parnell, who held that nearly every letter answered
itself within six months, if it were let alone. Certainly in this case
it so happened. Long before six months were up, facts had made argument

Wisdom is easy after the event, and few would dispute now that the
constitutional party ought either to have dissociated itself completely
from the appeal to force, or to have launched and controlled it from the
outset. Neither of these lines was followed, and the responsibility for
what was done and what was not done must lie with Redmond. Yet, as I
read it, the key to his policy lay in a dread, not of war, but of civil
war. To arm Irishmen against each other was of all possible courses to
him the most hateful. It opened a vision of fratricidal strife, of an
Ireland divided against itself by new and bloody memories.

Moreover, though he had, as the world came to know, soldiering in his
blood--though the call to war, when he counted the war righteous,
stirred what was deepest in him--by training and conviction he was
essentially a constitutionalist: he realized profoundly how strong were
the forces behind constitutionalism in Great Britain, how impregnable
was the position of British Ministers if they boldly asserted the law
with equality as between man and man. Where he was mistaken was in his
estimate of the Government with which he had to deal, and especially of
Mr. Asquith. Speaking to his constituents early in the New Year of 1914
he said, "The Prime Minister is as firm as a rock, and is, I believe,
the strongest and sanest man who has appeared in British politics in our
time." The verdict of history might have borne out this judgment had Mr.
Asquith never been forced to face extraordinary times. In the event, it
was Mr. Asquith's lack of firmness and failure in strength which drove
Redmond into belated acceptance of a policy modelled on Sir Edward

As early as July 1913 the demonstrations in Ulster led to discussion of
a countermove among young men in Dublin. But there was no public
proposal, until at the end of October Professor MacNeill, Vice-President
of the Gaelic League, published an article in the League's official
organ calling on Nationalist Ireland to drill and arm. The first meeting
of a provisional committee followed a few days later. Support was asked
from all sections of Nationalist opinion; but, as a whole, members of
the United Irish League and of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who
constituted the bulk of Redmond's following, refused to act. Still,
about a third of the committee were supporters of the parliamentary
party; they included Professor Kettle, who was from 1906 to 1910 among
its most brilliant members. It was, however, significant that the Lord
Mayor, a prominent official Nationalist, refused the use of the Mansion
House for a meeting at which it was proposed to start the enrolment of
Irish Volunteers. As a result, the venue was changed to the Rotunda, and
so great enthusiasm was shown that the Rink was used for the assembly.
Even that did not suffice for half the gathering. Three overflow
meetings were held, and four thousand men are said to have been enrolled
that evening.

Yet the movement did not spread at once with rapidity. By the end of
December recruits only amounted to ten thousand. For this two causes
were answerable. The first was the honourable refusal of the committee
to allow companies to be enrolled except according to locality. They
would have no sectional companies of Sinn Fein volunteers, of United
Irish League Volunteers, of Hibernian Volunteers. All must mix equally
in the ranks. The second was the fear of most Nationalists that by
joining an organization with which the national leader was not
identified they might weaken his hand. This operated, although the
declared intention of the organization was to strengthen Redmond's
position. At Limerick in January Pearse said: "In the Volunteer movement
we are going to give Mr. Redmond a weapon which will enable him to
enforce the demand for Home Rule."

Briefly, for several months the numbers of the new force did not show
that the whole of Nationalist Ireland was in support of it. Ireland was
waiting for a sign from Redmond, and it did not come. The events which
literally drove Irish constitutional Nationalists into following
Ulster's example had still to occur.

There was, however, a wide extension of the cadres of the organization,
and it was being spread by men some of whom--like Professor
MacNeill--dissented from Redmond's attitude of quiescence, while some
were general opponents of the whole constitutional policy. They covered
the country with committees, recruited, it is true, from all sections of
Nationalist Ireland. But it was inevitable that the element who
distrusted Redmond, and whose distrust he reciprocated, should attain an
influence out of all proportion to its following in the country.

Government's action--and this sentence will run like a refrain through
the rest of this book--contributed largely to strengthen the extremists
and to weaken Redmond's hold on the people. During eleven months the
Ulster Volunteers had been drilling, had been importing arms, and no
step was taken to interfere. Within ten days after the Irish Volunteer
Force began to be enrolled, a proclamation (issued on December 4, 1913)
prohibited the importation of military arms and ammunition into Ireland.
A system of search was instituted. But the Ulstermen were already well
supplied. Redmond was blamed for not forcing the withdrawal of the
proclamation. He controlled the House of Commons, it was said. This was
the line of argument constantly taken by dissentient Nationalists; and
it was true that he could at any moment put the Government out. Critics
did not stop to ask for whose advantage that would be. Government by
issuing this proclamation had effected no good: they had embarrassed
their chief ally, and they had laid the foundation for an imposing
structure of incidents which grew with pernicious rapidity into a
monumental proof that law, even under a Liberal administration, has one
aspect for Protestant Ulster and quite another for the rest of Ireland.

But in England at the beginning of the fateful year 1914 the Irish
Volunteers had not yet become recognized as a factor in the main
political situation. An attitude of mind had been studiously fostered
which found crude expression soon after the House met. One of the
Liberal party was arguing that Ulster had made Home Rule an absolute
necessity, because Nationalists would have "fourfold justification if
they resisted in the way you have taught them to resist the Government
of this country in maintaining the old system." "They have not the
pluck," interjected Captain Craig, the most prominent of the Ulster
members. The present Lord Chancellor, Mr. F.E. Smith, was voluble in
declarations that Nationalists would "neither fight for Home Rule nor
pay for Home Rule." These taunts did not ease Redmond's position,
especially as it became plain that Ulster's threat of violence had

Mr. Asquith, referring to the "conversations" between leaders which had
taken place during the winter, said that since no definite agreement had
been reached the Government had decided to reopen the matter in the
House. This meant, as Redmond pointed out with some asperity, that the
Prime Minister had accepted responsibility for taking the initiative in
making proposals to meet objections whose reasonableness he did not
admit. The Opposition, he thought, should have been left to put forward
some plan.

Yet Redmond's attitude, and the attitude of the House, was considerably
affected by an unusual speech which had been delivered by the Ulster

Sir Edward Carson, as everyone knows, is not an Ulsterman, and the chief
of many advantages which Ulster gained from his advocacy was that
Ulster's case was never stated to Great Britain as Ulstermen themselves
would have stated it. It is not true to say that Ulstermen by habit
think of Ireland as consisting of two nations, for all Ulstermen
traditionally regard themselves as Irish and so have always described
themselves without qualification. But it is true to say that Ulster
Protestants have regarded Irish Catholics as a separate and inferior
caste of Irishmen. The belief has been ingrained into them that as
Protestants they are morally and intellectually superior to those of the
other religion. Their whole political attitude is determined by this
conviction. They refuse to come under a Dublin Parliament because in it
they would be governed by a majority whom they regard as their
inferiors. It is in their deliberate view natural that Roman Catholics
should submit to be controlled by Protestants, unnatural that
Protestants should submit to be controlled by Roman Catholics.

It does not express the truth to say that Sir Edward Carson was adroit
enough to avoid putting this view of the case to the electors of Great
Britain or to the House of Commons. Temperamentally and instinctively,
he did not share it. He was a Southern Irishman who at the opening of
his life held himself, as not one Ulsterman in a thousand does,
perfectly free to make up his mind for or against the maintenance of the
Union. He reached the conclusion not only that Home Rule would be
disastrous for Ireland, for the United Kingdom, and for the British
Empire, but that it would mean for Irishmen the acceptance of an
inferior status in the Empire. As citizens of the United Kingdom, he
held, they were more honourably situated than they could be as citizens
of an Irish State within the Empire. This was an attitude of mind which
Ulster could endorse, although it did not fully represent Ulster's
conviction: but this was the case which Sir Edward Carson always made on
behalf of Ulster, and he made it as an Irishman whose personal interests
and connections lay in the South of Ireland, not in the North. His
argument was the more persuasive because it was based on a view of
Ireland's true interest--not of Ulster's only; and it was the harder on
that account for Redmond to repel peremptorily. More than this, between
him and Redmond there was an old personal tie. The Irish Bar is a true
centre of intercourse between men of varying political and religious
beliefs, and as junior barristers Edward Carson and John Redmond went
the Munster circuit together.

All this lay behind the appeal which on February 11, 1914, was implied
rather than expressed in the novel phrase and still more unaccustomed
tone of a consummate orator.

"Believe me," Sir Edward Carson said, "whatever way you settle the Irish
question" (and that phrase threw over the cry of "No Home Rule"), "there
are only two ways to deal with Ulster. It is for statesmen to say which
is the best and right one. She is not a part of the community which can
be bought. She will not allow herself to be sold. You must therefore
either coerce her if you go on, or you must in the long run, by showing
that good government can come under the Home Rule Bill, try and win her
over to the case of the rest of Ireland. You probably can coerce
her--though I doubt it. If you do, what will be the disastrous
consequences not only to Ulster, but to this country and the Empire?
Will my fellow-countryman"--and at this emphatic word, which jettisoned
absolutely the theory of two nations, the speaker turned to his left,
where Redmond sat in his accustomed place below the gangway--"will my
fellow-countryman, the leader of the Nationalist Party, have gained
anything? I will agree with him--I do not believe he wants to triumph
any more than I do. But will he have gained anything if he takes over
these people and then applies for what he used to call--at all events
his party used to call--the enemies of the people to come in and coerce
them into obedience? No, sir; one false step taken in relation to Ulster
will, in my opinion, render for ever impossible a solution of the Irish
question. I say this to my Nationalist fellow-countrymen, and, indeed,
also to the Government: you have never tried to win over Ulster. You
have never tried to understand her position. You have never alleged, and
can never allege, that this Bill gives her one atom of advantage."

Then, carried away by the course of his argument, an angry note came
into his voice, and before a minute had passed we were back in the old
atmosphere. He accused us of wanting "not Ulster's affections but her

Well might Redmond say when he rose that Sir Edward Carson had been
heard by all of us with very mixed feelings. "I care not about the
assent of Englishmen," he said; "I am fighting this matter out between a
fellow-countryman and myself, and I say that it was an unworthy thing
for him to say that I am animated by these base motives, especially
after he had lectured the House on the undesirability of imputing

On the personal note Redmond was to the full as effective as his
opponent, and his speech of that day was memorable. It was also very
much more to the taste of the Liberal rank and file than what came from
their own front bench. "We do not by any means take the tragic view of
the probabilities or even the possibilities of what is called civil war
in Ulster," he said; and added that the House of Commons ought, in his
opinion, "to resent as an affront these threats of civil war." Yet in
the end he promised, for the sake of peace, "consideration in the
friendliest spirit" (not very different from acceptance) of any
proposals that the Government might feel called upon to put forward.

It is noteworthy that in this prolonged debate there was no reference to
the new fact of a second volunteer force. But on February 12th a
question was asked about it. On the 17th there was allusion to another
growing element of danger--the discussions among officers of the Army of
a combined refusal to serve against Ulster. All these factors must have
weighed with Redmond and with his chief colleagues in their discussions
with the Government during the next three weeks. "Friendly
consideration" passed into acceptance on March 9th, when Mr. Asquith,
introducing the Home Rule Bill for its passage in the third consecutive
session (as required by the Parliament Act), outlined the proposed
modifications in it. They involved partition. But the exclusion was to
be optional by areas and limited in time.

The proposal to take a vote by counties had, it will be remembered, been
originally suggested by Mr. Bonar Law, and in following the Prime
Minister he could not well repudiate it. The test, however, which he now
put forward was whether or not the proposals satisfied Ulster: and he
fixed upon the time-limit of six years as being wholly unacceptable.
Redmond, on the other hand, while declaring that the Government had gone
to "the extremest limits of concession," said that the proposals had one
merit: they would "elicit beyond doubt or question by a free ballot the
real opinion of the people of Ulster." This indicated his conviction
that if Home Rule really came the majority in Ulster would prefer to
take their chances under it; the proposal of exclusion being merely a
tactical manoeuvre to defeat Home Rule by splitting the Nationalists.

Its efficacy for that purpose was immediately demonstrated. Mr. O'Brien
followed Redmond with a virulent denunciation of "the one concession of
all others which must be hateful and unthinkable from the point of view
of any Nationalist in Ireland." Opposition from Mr. O'Brien and from Mr.
Healy was no new thing. But by acceptance of these proposals the
Nationalist leader made their opposition for the first time really
formidable. Telegrams rained in that March afternoon--above all on Mr.
Devlin, from his supporters in Belfast, who felt themselves betrayed and
shut out from a national triumph which they had been the most zealous to
promote. From this time onward the position of Redmond personally and of
his party as a whole was perceptibly weakened. Especially an alienation
began between him and the Catholic hierarchy. It was impossible that the
clergy should be well disposed towards proposals which, as Mr. Healy put
it, would make Cardinal Logue a foreigner in his own cathedral at

Yet upon the whole the shake to Redmond's power was less than might have
been expected--largely, no doubt, because the offer was repelled. Sir
Edward Carson described it as "sentence of death with stay of execution
for six years." With a great advocate's instinct, he fastened on the
point in the Government's proposal which was least defensible.

In my opinion these modifications of the Bill were never adequately
discussed in the meetings of the Irish party. All was done between the
Government and Redmond's inner cabinet, consisting of Redmond himself,
Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin and Mr. T.P. O'Connor. The negotiations were most
delicate and difficult, and above all secrecy is hard to maintain when a
body of over seventy men, each keenly concerned for the view of his
constituents, comes to be consulted. Yet I think it a pity that the
party never thrashed this question out. Once the principle of option was
admitted, a great deal had to be considered. Voting must be a referendum
either to the province as a whole, to the constituencies separately, or
to local units of administration. A referendum by constituencies was as
impossible as one by parishes: for instance, Mr. Devlin's West Belfast,
out of the city's four divisions, would certainly have voted to remain
under the Irish Parliament, and an absurd situation would have resulted.
The choice lay between a vote by counties or by the province as a whole.
In the province, three counties out of nine were as predominantly
Nationalist as any part of Leinster. In two others, Tyrone and
Fermanagh, Nationalists were about 55 per cent of the electorate. But
the bulk of the population of Ulster resided in four counties of the
north-east, so that Protestants over the whole province had a majority
of some two hundred thousand. An appeal to the province, therefore,
might involve the exclusion from Home Rule of a very large area which
was thoroughly Nationalist. On the other hand, every scheme of exclusion
had in view the possibility of the excluded area changing its mind on
the question after a short trial. To separate the four overwhelmingly
Protestant counties was to set up a body in which a change of vote would
be much harder to bring about than in the province. As a matter of
statesmanship there was much to be said for closing with the Ulstermen's
original demand that the province should come in or stay out as a whole.
It satisfied Ulster's sentiment and lessened the chances of
crystallizing a Protestant block of excluded territory, which would tend
to become less and less Irish.

The answer to this was that Nationalists would never consent and did
never consent to the possibility of permanent exclusion for any part.
Insistence on the time-limit was from this point of view a matter of
absolute principle. Yet many believed then, and believe now, that if
any part of Ulster were excluded by legislation it would certainly come
in voluntarily after a short period. On the other hand, if any part were
excluded even for a year, it was difficult to believe that it could ever
be brought in except by its own consent. The view, however, to which we
were committed (with the party's general approval), was expressed by
Redmond at the customary St. Patrick's Day Nationalist banquet in

"To agree to the permanent partition of Ireland would be," he said, "an
outrage upon nature and upon history." He quoted a phrase used by Mr.
Austen Chamberlain, who had described it as "the statutory negation of
Ireland's national claim." But, he argued, no such sacrifice of
principle had been made. The demand of Nationalists was for a Parliament
for the whole of Ireland, having power to deal with "every purely Irish
matter." Temporary limitations of this demand had already been accepted.

"We have agreed, as Parnell agreed in the Bill of 1886, and as we all
agreed in the Bill of 1893, that the power of dealing with some of the
most vital of Irish questions should not come within the purview of the
new Parliament for a definite number of years." The control of police,
for instance, was reserved to the Imperial Parliament in all those Bills
for a term of years. But this did not mean that Parnell or we abandoned
Ireland's right to manage her own police. Reservation of the police in
perpetuity would have been impossible to accept. In the same way, said
Redmond, "the automatic ending of any period of exclusion is for us a
fixed and immutable principle."

To maintain this conformity with national sentiment great advantages
were sacrificed. The whole debates of this period turned on the question
of the time-limit. If it had never been raised, opposition would still
have existed, but the fact would have been plain from the outset that
Protestant Ulster claimed to dictate not only where it had the majority,
but where the majority was against it. Redmond probably believed that
the opinion of Nationalists in the North could not be brought to consent
to abandonment of the time-limit. If so, he probably underrated, then as
always, the influence he possessed. It is always easy to persuade
Irishmen that if you are going to do a thing you should do it
"decently." What is more, a real effect could have been produced on much
moderate opinion in Ulster by saying to Ulster: "Stay out if you like,
and come in when you like. When you come in, you will be more than
welcome." But the decision for this course would have needed to be taken
before the proposals were made, since any attempt to enlarge them was
bound to renew and intensify the inevitable storm of Nationalist
dissent. Whatever the proposal, it should have been absolutely the last
word of concession.

If a clear proposal of local option by counties without time-limit had
been put before Parliament and the electorate, I do not think our
position in Ireland would have been worse than it was made by the
proposal of temporary exclusion, and it would have been greatly
strengthened in Parliament and in the United Kingdom. All moderate men,
and many pronounced Unionists, were becoming uneasy under the perpetual
menace of trouble. Events which now followed rapidly turned the
uneasiness into grave anxiety, but did not turn it to the profit of the

The policy which was adopted in Mr. Asquith's proposal of March 9th was
the policy which Mr. Churchill had pushed from the first introduction of
the Home Rule Bill, even when it was formally disavowed by the Prime
Minister. Contemptuous rejection of it by the Ulstermen when it was
proposed was not calculated to strengthen Mr. Churchill's personal
position, or to soothe his temper, and on March 14th he made a speech at
Bradford which very greatly stirred public feeling. If Ulster really
rejects the offer, said Mr. Churchill, "it can only be because they
prefer shooting to voting and the bullet to the ballot." Should civil
war break out in Ulster, the issue would not be confined to Ireland: the
issue would be whether civil and parliamentary government in these
realms was to be beaten down by the menace of armed force. Bloodshed was
lamentable, but there were worse things. If the law could not prevail,
if the veto of violence was to replace the veto of privilege, then, said
the orator, "let us go forward and put these grave matters to a proof."

When Mr. Churchill next appeared in the House of Commons, a great
outburst of cheering showed what a volume of feeling had found
expression in his speech. Redmond came to the St. Patrick's Day banquet
under the impression of that scene, and he spoke with a confidence which
gives to his words a tragic irony to-day. He cited "the superb speech of
Mr. Churchill" as evidence that "what is our last word is also the last
word of the Government."

"If the Opposition have spoken their last word," he said, "the Bill will
now proceed upon its natural course. It will proceed rapidly and
irresistibly, and in a few short weeks become the law of the land."

The weeks have lengthened into years, and so much has happened in them
that I keep no clear memory of that evening, though I was present. But
it represented the temper of the time, among Home Rulers, and more
particularly among Irish Nationalists, who generally held the opinion
that the military preparations in Ulster were, as Mr. Devlin called
them, "a hollow masquerade."

We saw the other side of the picture on Thursday, March 19th, when a
Vote of Censure was moved. Mr. Bonar Law launched on the House of
Commons a new and sinister suggestion.

"What about the Army? If it is only a question of disorder, the Army I
am sure will obey you, and I am sure that it ought to obey you; but if
it really is a question of civil war, soldiers are citizens like the
rest of us."

Sir Edward rose immediately the Prime Minister had replied to Mr. Bonar
Law, and his speech was furious. "In consequence of the trifling with
this subject by the Prime Minister and the provocation, which he has
endorsed, by the First Lord of the Admiralty last Saturday, I feel I
ought not to be here but in Belfast," he said; and he indicated his
intention of proceeding there as soon as he had spoken. What he had to
say chiefly concerned the Army, and the preparations which were being
made at the War Office for the despatch of troops to Ulster. He
suggested that there was the intention to provoke an attack so that
there might be "pretext for putting them down."

"You will be all right. You will be no longer cowards. The cowardice
will have been given up. You will have become men in entrenching
yourselves behind the Army. But under your direction they will have
become assassins."

With these words--memorable in connection with what happened later, but
not in Ulster--the Ulster leader left the House, followed by Captain
Craig. Friday's papers were of course full of the debate. At noon on
that day, March 20, 1914, General Sir Arthur Paget, Commander-in-Chief
in Ireland, held a meeting with the officers at the Curragh and received
the intimation that the majority of them would resign their commissions
rather than go on duty which was likely to involve a collision with

It seems only fair in dealing with this whole incident to print here an
account of what happened, written from the soldier's point of view, by
the man who was the spokesman and leader of the resigning
officers--Brigadier (now Lieutenant) General Sir Hubert Gough.[2]

     '"I never refused to obey orders. On the contrary, I obeyed them. I
     was ordered to make a decision--namely, to leave the Army or 'to
     undertake active operations against Ulster.' These were the very
     words of the terms offered. As I was given a choice, I accepted it,
     and chose the first alternative, and as a matter of fact I have a
     letter in existence written the night before the offer was made by
     Sir A. Paget to my brother, saying: 'Something is up' (we had been
     suddenly ordered to a conference). 'What is it? If I receive orders
     to march North, of course I will go.'"

     'All the officers of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade took the same line'
     (continues the correspondent of the _Manchester Guardian_) 'and
     resigned. This decision seems not to have been expected by the
     authorities, and caused great perturbation. General Gough was urged
     by Sir Arthur Paget to withdraw the resignation. Sir Arthur Paget
     told them that the operations against Ulster were to be of a purely
     defensive nature. Unfortunately, Sir Arthur Paget based his appeal
     on expediency and private interest, and not sufficiently on the
     call of public duty. This failed to influence the officers. They
     persisted in their resignations, and only finally withdrew them on
     receiving a written undertaking from the War Office that they would
     not be again presented with the alternative of resigning or
     attacking Ulster.'

The Irish Party had no guess at the inner aspect of the occurrence.
Naturally, but regrettably, we were the section of the House which had
least touch with what was thought and felt in barrack-rooms and
regimental messes. Naturally, but most regrettably, the opinion of the
Army regarded us traditionally as a hostile body; and at this time every
effort to accentuate that belief was made by the political party with
which the Army had most intercourse and connection.

Writing now, as I hope I may write without offence, of a state of things
not far off in time, but divided from us of to-day by the marks of a
vast upheaval, it can be said that the old professional Army was a
society governed in an extraordinary degree by tradition. Part of that
tradition was that the Army had no politics; and as everyone knows, the
man who says he has no politics is in practice almost invariably a
Conservative. In the Army, usage was at its strongest--stronger even
than at a public school; it was almost bad manners, "bad form," to hold
political opinions differing from those of your mess. Political
discussion was sharply discouraged; but this never meant that a man
might not express vehemently the prevailing opinion. On the broad facts
it was inevitable that the prevailing opinion should be unfriendly to
Irish Nationalists. Irish Nationalists had taken passionately the line
of opposition to the South African War; they had been sharply critical
of all the minor campaigns in which the Army had been engaged for
repression or for conquest during the whole period since Parnell began
his leadership. In Ireland itself, every man who reflected for a moment
saw at the Curragh the very embodiment of that force which had
maintained for over a hundred years a Government which had not the
consent of the governed; and unless he was one of those who regarded
themselves as "England's faithful garrison in Ireland," protestations of
enthusiasm for the armed forces of the Crown could not be the natural
expression of his feelings.

Yet mingled with the Nationalists' attitude of estrangement from the
forces which upheld a detested system of government there was a
deep-seated pride in the exploits of Irish troops; and no man ever felt
this more strongly than Redmond. He seldom spoke of the distinguished
men he met, but again and again I remember hearing him mention with
pleasure some talk over a dinner-table with this or that famous
soldier--Sir John French (as he then was), for instance. It was
happiness for him to find himself on friendly terms with the service to
which so many sentiments bound him. The Curragh incident was to him more
than a grave political event; it pained him beyond measure that this
opposition should be headed by a representative of one of the Irish
families most famous for their military record. In the debates which
dealt with all this matter he said no word, and he kept our party
silent--a wise course, and one to which every instinct prompted him.

In its political aspect, this action of General Gough and the fifty
officers allied with him revealed a new and formidable impediment on the
path to Home Rule; yet it was one of those barriers which rally forces
rather than weaken them, and in surmounting which, or sweeping them
aside, a new impetus may be gained. The incident was first discussed in
the House on Monday, March 23rd, and continued to dominate all other
questions for several days. From the Labour benches Mr. John Ward (now
Colonel), who had been a private soldier, gave the first indication of
the volume of resentment. His speech, remarkable in its power both of
phrasing and of thought, was delivered quite unexpectedly in a thin
House; but its effect was electrical. Later, Mr. J.H. Thomas spoke in
the same strain. When a railway strike was threatened, the soldiers had
been called out and had come without a murmur. Was the Army to be used
against all movements except those under the patronage of the Tory
party? If so, he would tell his four hundred thousand railway men to
equip themselves to defend their own interests.

These speeches set people thinking very gravely, but their effect was to
increase the confidence of Home Rulers--the more so as Sir Edward Grey,
in one of his rare moments of emphasis, declared his determination to go
as far as either speaker if the case which they foreshadowed should
arise. But new occurrences disquieted the public; the bungling which had
characterized dealings with the officers at the Curragh was not ended
there. General Gough received a document from Colonel Seely, Secretary
of State for War, countersigned by Sir John French and Sir Spencer
Ewart, the military heads of the War Office; and this document was in
part disavowed by the Cabinet. The two Generals resigned and Colonel
Seely followed their example. I have never seen the House of Commons so
completely surprised as on the afternoon when the Prime Minister
announced that he himself would succeed to the vacant office. The
surprise passed at once into a feeling of immense relief, very widely
shared by all parties. The right thing had been done in the right way,
and it was clear that Mr. Asquith possessed enormous authority, if he
chose to assert it.

The effect of all these happenings was immediately perceptible in the
resumed discussion on the Home Rule Bill. Mr. Dillon, speaking on the
second day, said: "Yesterday for the first time I heard this question
debated in a spirit of reasonableness and conciliation and with an
evident desire on both sides to reach an agreement." A proposal
frequently put forward from the Tory side suggested exclusion until a
federal arrangement for the United Kingdom could be completed. The
official Tory demand was for either a referendum or a general election.
But, as Redmond pointed out when he spoke on the fourth and last day of
the debate, any proposal for a settlement must be a settlement which
Ulster would accept, and Ulster declared that it would not be influenced
by any vote of the British people or by any Act of Parliament. In a
passage of very genuine feeling he indicated what Ulster might do to
assist him in securing for Ulster the extremest limit of concession:

"Anything which would mean burying the hatchet, anything which would
mean the consent of these Ulstermen to shake hands frankly with their
fellow-countrymen across the hateful memories of the past, would be
welcomed with universal joy in Ireland, and would be gladly purchased by
very large sacrifices indeed. If the right honourable and learned
gentleman (Sir Edward Carson) would say to me, 'We are both Irishmen; we
both love our country; we both hate--and I am sure this is absolutely
true of both of us--we both hate all the old sectarian animosities, all
the old wrongs, all the old memories which have kept Irishmen apart; let
us come together and see what we can do for the welfare of our common
country, so that we can hand down to those who come after us an Ireland
more free, more peaceful, more tolerant, an Ireland less cursed by
racial and religious differences'; if an appeal like that were made to
me, I say without the smallest hesitation that there are no lengths that
Nationalist Ireland would not be willing to go to assuage the fears,
allay the anxieties, and remove the prejudices of their Ulster

"But, alas! that is not the position. Even the permanent exclusion of
Ulster is not put forward as the price of reconciliation; it is simply
put forward as the one and sole condition upon which they will give up
their avowed intention of levying war upon their fellow-countrymen."

He dealt with the federal proposal, and once more avowed his desire for
that solution. "I have been all my political life preaching in favour of
federalism." But he could not consent that the exclusion of Ulster
should be prolonged indefinitely pending a settlement on federal lines,
nor consent to any "watering down of the powers in the present Home Rule

What remained then, if Ulster would not accept the offer? Nothing but
"to proceed calmly with the Bill." Threats of civil war he discounted.
Disturbances there would probably be; but when the first Home Rule Bill
was defeated, there were weeks of the most terrible riots in Belfast.
The House could not afford to be deterred from any course by threats of
violence; and he was confident that the Bill would pass into law and
profoundly confident it would never be revoked.

He gave his reasons for that confidence in a passage almost
autobiographical in character--if only because it made the House realize
how completely this man's whole adult life had been devoted to this one
long service, and how far the labours of our party had achieved their

"In a sense I may say I have lived my whole life within these walls. I
came in here little more than a boy, and I have grown old in the House
of Commons, and in the long space of years which have passed since then
I have witnessed the most extraordinary transformation of the whole
public life of this country, and I have witnessed an almost miraculous
change in the position and the prospects of the Irish National Cause.
When I came to this House, Irish Nationalist members, in a sense, were
almost outcasts. Both the great British parties--there was no Labour
party then--divided on everything else, were united in hostility to the
national movement and the national ideal. Home Rule seemed hopelessly
out of the range of practical politics. There were only a handful of men
in this whole House of Commons besides us who were in favour of any
measure of Home Rule for Ireland. Outside, the public opinion of this
country was ignorant, and it was actively hostile, and we found it
impossible to gain the ear of the democracy of England for the voice of
Ireland. All that has vanished into thin air. All that has radically
changed. The change has been slow and gradual, but it has been
continuous and sure. Such a change as that can never be reversed. You
might as well talk of the world going back to the days before
electricity or petrol as hope to bring back the prejudices and the
ignorance of the masses of the people in this country about Ireland, as
they existed in the past."

His confidence was strong and it communicated itself to Ireland. But
whatever could be said to shake confidence was said by Mr. O'Brien and
Mr. Healy, who denounced the Bill as worthless when linked to the plan
of even temporary partition, and declared that, whatever the Government
might say at present, we had not yet reached the end of their
concessions. On the division they and their party abstained, so that the
majority dropped to 77.

Up to this point it is still true to say that the Nationalist party were
constant to their faith in strictly constitutional action. But a new
development was imminent. On the night of Friday to Saturday, April
24th-25th, Ulstermen brought off their first overt act of rebellion.
They seized the ports of Larne and Donaghadee, cut off telephone and
telegraph, landed a very large quantity of rifles and ammunition, and
despatched them to every quarter of the province by means of a great
fleet of motor-cars which had been mobilized for the occasion. It was a
clean and excellent piece of staff work, planned by a capable soldier
and carried out under military direction: and the Tory Press hailed it
with no less enthusiasm than was elicited by the most important
victories in the recent war.

One coastguard, running to give the alarm, died of heart failure:
otherwise there was no casualty. The police and customs officers were
confronted with _force majeure_ and submitted without show of
resistance. The Prime Minister, in answering a question as to the action
which he proposed to take, used these words:

"In view of this grave and unprecedented outrage the House may be
assured that His Majesty's Government will take without delay
appropriate steps to vindicate the authority of the law and protect
officers and servants of the King and His Majesty's subjects in the
exercise of their legal rights."

The Opposition was noticeably silent, and next day some embarrassment
was apparent when they proceeded with a previously arranged Vote of
Censure on the Government for the military and naval movements in
connection with which the Curragh incident had occurred. The sum of
these movements amounted to despatching four companies to points in
Ulster at which very large stores of arms and ammunition were lying
under very small guard--and at one of which there was a battery of field
guns with no protecting infantry. It was regarded as at least possible
that the stores might be rushed by "evil-disposed persons, not fully
under the control of their leaders." It was also regarded as possible
that the movement of these companies might be resisted and that much
larger operations might be thereby involved. The stationing of the Fleet
opposite the Belfast coast was part of the measures taken against this
latter contingency.

All this preparation was denounced as a conspiracy organized by Mr.
Churchill with intent to provoke rebellion and put it down by a
massacre. In view of the important military operation which Ulster had
just carried out against the Crown, Mr. Churchill was not without
justification in comparing the motion to a vote of censure by the
criminal classes on the police. Yet, after much hard hitting in speech,
he once more led the way in retreat from the Government's position. Sir
Edward Grey had declared, speaking for the Government, that beyond the
six years' limit they could not go. Mr. Churchill himself had declared
the Government's offer would be and should be their last word. Yet now,
avowedly on his own account, and not speaking for the Cabinet, he
proposed that a new negotiation should be opened with Sir Edward Carson.

This proposal elicited no response, and the debate continued that day in
a line of violent recrimination. But next day Sir Edward Carson rose and
affirmed that he had previously declared his willingness to advise
Ulster to close with a proposal giving exclusion until a Federal scheme
had been considered, when the whole matter should be reviewed "in the
light of the action of the Irish Parliament and how they got on." Now he

"I shall try to make an advance on what I said before. I will say
this--and I hope the House will believe me, because, though I do not
want to be introducing my own personality into it, I am myself a
southerner in Ireland--I would say this: That if Home Rule is to pass,
much as I detest it, and little as I will take any responsibility for
the passing of it, my earnest hope, and indeed I would say my most
earnest prayer, would be that the Government of Ireland for the South
and West would prove, and might prove, such a success in the future,
notwithstanding all our anticipations, that it might be even for the
interest of Ulster itself to move towards that Government, and come in
under it and form one unit in relation to Ireland. May I say something
more than that? I would be glad to see such a state of things arising in
Ireland, in which you would find that mutual confidence and goodwill
between all classes in Ireland as would lead to a stronger Ireland as an
integral unit in the federal scheme. While I say all that, that depends
upon goodwill, and never can be brought about by force."

Redmond remained silent; but months later it became known that he had
taken action to foster this new spirit. He advised the Prime Minister
not to proceed with the prosecution which had been threatened against
the Larne gun-runners. But at the same time he urged upon Government
that they should withdraw the proclamation against importing arms: and
for this he had good reason. The Larne affair had rendered the movement
in support of the Irish Volunteers irresistible, and Redmond had decided
to throw himself in with it.

The result was an amazing upward leap in the numbers of the Volunteers.
On June 15th a question brought out that they were estimated at 80,000
against 84,000 of the Ulster force; but the Nationalist body was
increasing at the rate of 15,000 a week. By July 9th they were reckoned
(on police information) at 132,000, of whom nearly forty thousand were
Army reservists.

These facts now dominated the situation. It was now abundantly clear
that if passing Home Rule meant civil war, so also would the abandonment
of Home Rule. On June 16th Lord Robert Cecil raised a debate on the new
danger. In that debate words were quoted from Sir Roger Casement, one of
the most active promoters of the movement: "When you are challenged on
the field of force, it is upon that field you must reply." Mr. Dillon,
who exulted in the "splendid demonstration of national sentiment shown
in the uprising of the National Volunteers," urged strongly that the
growth of a rival body was not a menace to public order but an added
security. The armed Ulstermen would be "much slower to break the peace"
when they realized the certainty of formidable resistance--and this, be
it said, was no ungrounded observation. Yet at the same time the very
success of the Volunteer movement was disquieting Redmond. He was not in
the same position as Sir Edward Carson, who from the first had directed,
presided over, and controlled the raising and equipment of his force;
and unless the force were to be a menace to his leadership, he must
secure control. As Mr. Bulmer Hobson puts it in his _History of the
Irish Volunteers_:

"The Volunteers had men in their ranks who were political followers of
Mr. Redmond's, and men who were not, and who never had been. The latter
were willing to help him if he had been ready to help them; they would
have made terms with him, but were not prepared to be merely absorbed
into his movement."

The strength of Redmond's position lay in the fact that the vast
majority of the enrolled men looked to him as their leader: his
weakness, in that the committees under which enrolment had taken place
were largely composed of the extremist section. He now determined to
unite the Volunteers with the parliamentary party as the Ulster
Volunteers were linked with Sir Edward Carson and his civilian

The men with whom he had to deal were principally Professor MacNeill and
Sir Roger Casement. His first proposal was to replace the existing
Provisional Committee by another, consisting of nine members, with
Professor MacNeill, who was regarded as a general supporter of
Redmond's, in the chair. Oddly enough, the negotiations broke down
because Redmond nominated Michael Davitt's son along with Mr. Devlin and
his own brother to be representatives. The young Davitt had at an early
stage expressed dissent from the movement, and this, coming from his
father's son, left bitter resentment. The existing Committee now
proposed to call a National Convention of the Volunteers. Such a body
would clearly have become a rival, and a powerful rival, to the National
Convention of a purely citizen type, and Redmond felt himself forced to
take drastic action. In a public letter dated June 9th he wrote:

"I regret to observe the controversy which is now taking place in the
Press on the Irish National Volunteer movement. Many of the writers
convey the impression that the Volunteer movement is, to some extent at
all events, hostile to the objects and policy of the Irish party. I
desire to say emphatically that there is no foundation for this idea,
and any attempts to create discord between the Volunteer movement and
the Irish party are calculated in my opinion to ruin the Volunteer
movement, which, properly directed, may be of incalculable service to
the National Cause.

"Up to two months ago I felt that the Volunteer movement was somewhat
premature, but the effect of Sir Edward Carson's threats upon public
opinion in England, the House of Commons, and the Government; the
occurrences at the Curragh Camp, and the successful gun-running in
Ulster, have vitally altered the position, and the Irish party took
steps about six weeks ago to inform their friends and supporters in the
country that in their opinion it was desirable to support the Volunteer
movement, with the result that within the last six weeks the movement
has spread like a prairie fire, and all the Nationalists of Ireland will
shortly be enrolled.

"Within the last fortnight I have had communications from men in all
parts of the country, inquiring as to the organization and control of
the Volunteer movement, and it has been strongly represented to me that
the Governing Body should be reconstructed and placed on a thoroughly
representative basis, so as to give confidence to all shades of National

Redmond's proposal was that to the existing Committee there should be
added twenty-five representative men from different parts of the
country, nominated at the instance of the Irish party and in sympathy
with its policy and aims. Failing this, he intimated that it would be
"necessary to fall back on county control and government until the
organization was sufficiently complete to make possible the election of
a fully representative Executive by the Volunteers themselves."

The intimation was not at once accepted. An order was issued calling on
the Volunteers to elect additional representatives by counties to be
added to the Committee. Redmond at once publicly declared that this
amounted to refusal of his offer, and he put the issue very plainly. The
Provisional Committee was originally self-constituted and had been
increased only by co-option. The majority of its members, he was
informed, were not supporters of the Irish party: of the rank and file
at least 95 per cent., he said, were supporters of the Irish party and
its policy.

"This is a condition of things which plainly cannot continue. The rank
and file of the Volunteers and the responsible leaders of the Irish
people are entitled, and indeed are bound, to demand some security that
an attempt shall not be made in the name of the Volunteers to dictate
policy to the National party who, as the elected representatives of the
people, are charged with the responsibility of deciding upon the policy
best calculated to bring the National movement to success.

"Moreover, a military organization is of its very nature so grave and
serious an undertaking that every responsible Nationalist in the country
who supports it is entitled to the most substantial guarantees against
any possible imprudence. The best guarantee to be found is clearly the
presence on the Governing Body of men of proved judgment and

As a last word he renewed his threat of calling on his supporters to
organize separate county committees independent of the Dublin centre.
This was carrying matters with a high hand, and the fact that he
succeeded proves the greatness of his prestige at the moment. The
Committee in a published manifesto accepted his terms, but accepted them
with declared regret, and eight of the original members seceded. Among
them was Patrick Pearse, with whom went three others who suffered death
in Easter week two years later.

All this was a disastrous business, and the worst part of it lay in the
public avowal of divided councils. Moreover, a committee so constituted
could not, and did not, operate efficiently. The original members were
primarily interested in the Volunteer Force; the added ones primarily in
the parliamentary movement. Nearly all of the latter--selected for their
"proved judgment and steadiness"--were men past middle age; and of the
whole twenty-five Willie Redmond alone subsequently bore arms.

There was indeed an underlying difference of principle. Redmond knew
well, and all parliamentarians with him, that under the terms of the
Home Rule Bill no army could be raised or maintained in Ireland without
the consent of the Imperial Parliament. The original Volunteer Committee
laid it down as an axiom that the Volunteer Force should be permanent;
they were, as Casement put it, "the beginning of an Irish army." Sir
Edward Carson's policy had produced a new mentality among Irish
Nationalists, and it made many take Redmond's constitutionalism for

But in the eyes of the world and of Ireland generally, Redmond was just
as much as Sir Edward Carson the accredited and accepted leader of his
Volunteer organization, and to him the Volunteers looked for provision
of arms and equipment. One of his chief preoccupations in those months
was with this matter, and it explains his desire to have the
proclamation against the import of arms withdrawn. The Larne exploit had
proved the futility of it; articles by Colonel Repington in _The Times_
testified to the completeness of the provision which had been made for
Ulster. But smuggling is always a costly business, and Nationalists were
hampered by the cost. More than that, there was ground for suspicion
that the scales were not equally weighted as between Ulster and the rest
of the country. On June 30th Redmond wrote a letter to the Chief
Secretary repeating his case for withdrawal of the proclamation. It is
all memorable, but especially the warning which concludes the following
passages from it:

"In the South and West of Ireland, not only are the most active measures
being taken against the importation of arms, but many owners of vessels
are harassed unnecessarily.

"The effect of this unequal working of the proclamation has been grave
amongst our people, and has tended to increase both their exasperation
and their apprehensions.

"The apprehensions of our people are justified to the fullest. They find
themselves, especially in the North, faced by a large, drilled,
organized and armed body. Furthermore, the incident at the Curragh has
given them the fixed idea that they cannot rely on the Army for
protection. The possession of arms by Nationalists would, under these
circumstances, be no provocation for disorder, but a means of preserving
the peace by confronting one armed force with another, not helpless
but, by being armed, fully able to defend themselves.

"Finally, we want to call your most serious attention to the grave and
imminent danger of a collision between Nationalists and the police in
the effort to import arms. The police in the South and West might not be
so passive as they were in the recent affair at Larne, and there might
be serious conflicts, and even loss of life, and from this day forward
every day which the proclamation is enforced as strictly as it is now
against the Nationalists brings increased danger of disastrous collision
between the police and the people."

Within a fortnight a minor incident illustrated the "unequal working"
referred to in the first of these points. General Richardson, who
commanded the Ulster Force, had issued on July 1st an order authorizing
all Ulster Volunteers to carry arms openly and to resist any attempt at
interference. In Ulster accordingly no search was ever attempted. But on
July 15th Mr. Lawrence Kettle, brother to Professor Kettle, who had from
the first been a prominent official of the Volunteers, was returning in
his motor from the electric works at the Pigeon House; he was stopped by
the police and his car searched for arms. Such an occurrence in Ulster
would have been held to justify immediate rebellion, and would have been
carefully avoided. In Dublin there was no such avoidance of provocation.

Yet the avoidance of anything which might precipitate strife was indeed
in these days most desirable. June 28th saw the murder of the Archduke
at Sarajevo. The European sky grew rapidly overcast. Days passed, and
the possibility of civil war was exchanged for the near probability of
European war which might find the British Empire divided against itself.

It was necessary in the highest interests of State for the Government to
make an effort to compose the cause of so much violent faction, which
might at any moment assume acute form. The Amending Bill, introduced in
the House of Lords with the Government's offer embodied in it, had been
altered by the Peers in a manner which Lord Morley described as
tantamount to rejection. In this shape it was to come before the House
of Commons on July 20th. But on that Monday, when the House reassembled
after the weekly holiday, the Prime Minister rose at once and announced
in tones of no ordinary solemnity that the King had thought it right to
summon representatives of parties both British and Irish to a Conference
next day at Buckingham Palace, over which Mr. Speaker would preside.

Redmond in two brief sentences guarded his attitude. He disclaimed all
responsibility for the policy of calling the Conference and expressed no
opinion as to its chances of success. The invitation had reached him and
Mr. Dillon in the form of a command from the King, and as such they had
accepted it.

Some may remember how radiantly fine were those far-off days in July
which led us up to the brink of such undreamt-of happenings. On the
Tuesday night I was sitting alone on the Terrace, when Redmond came out.
For once, he was in a mood to talk. His mind was full of the strangeness
and interest of that first day's Conference--a council, or parley, so
momentous, so unprecedented. It touched what was very strong in him--the
historic imagination. He told me how the King had received them all,
stayed with them for some intercourse of welcome, and had been specially
marked in his courtesy to Redmond himself, who had of course never
before been presented to him. Then, he had accompanied them to the room
set apart for their deliberations and had left them with their chairman,
the Speaker. When I think over Redmond's description of the Sovereign's
personality, it seems to me that he was describing one so paralysed, as
it were, by anxiety as to have lost the power of easy, genial and
natural speech. But the dominant thought in his mind did not concern
King George. One figure stood out--Sir Edward Carson. "As an Irishman,"
Redmond said, "you could not help being proud to see how he towered
above the others. They simply did not count. He took charge absolutely."

As I gathered, the eight members sat four on each side of a long table,
with the Speaker at the head. The Irish leaders were on his right and
left, and the discussion was chiefly between them.

It turned mainly on the question of the area to be excluded. Enormous
trouble had been taken, and Redmond told me later that a great map in
relief had been constructed, showing the distribution of Protestant and
Catholic population. This brought out with astonishing vividness the
contrast: the Catholics were on the mountains and hill-tops, the
Protestants down along the valley lands.

Nothing could be more cordial, Redmond said, than Sir Edward Carson's
manner to him. They met as old friends, and I believe that when they
parted, one asked the other that they should have "one good shake-hands
for the sake of old times on the Munster circuit." But it was clearly
recognized that there was a point beyond which neither of them could
take his followers, and these points could not be brought to meet. Even
if adjustment had been possible on the question of time-limit, neither
would give up the debatable counties, Tyrone and Fermanagh, in which the
Nationalists had a clear though small majority of the population, but in
which the Ulster Volunteer organization was very strong. On Friday, July
24th, Mr. Asquith announced the failure of the attempt. "The possibility
of defining an area for exclusion from the operation of the Government
of Ireland Bill was considered, and the Conference being unable to agree
either in principle or in detail on such an area, it concluded."

An incident which did not lack significance was that on the second day
of these meetings Redmond, returning with Mr. Dillon along Birdcage Walk
to the House, was recognized by some Irish Guards in the barracks, who
raised a cheer for the Nationalist leaders which ran all along the
barrack square. The Army was not all disposed to take sides with Ulster
and against the Nationalists.

But parts of it were. The collision between forces of the Crown and
Irish Volunteers trying to land arms, which Redmond had foretold and
deprecated in his letter of June 30th, was fated to occur.

On Saturday, July 25th, five thousand Ulster Volunteers, fully armed,
with four machine guns--in short, an infantry brigade equipped for
active service--marched through the streets of Belfast, no one
interfering. On Sunday, the 26th, a private yacht sailed into Howth
harbour with eleven hundred rifles on board and some boxes of
ammunition. By preconcerted arrangement a body of some seven hundred
Irish Volunteers had marched down to meet the yacht. These men took the
rifles, and with them set out to march back in column of route to
Dublin. Two thousand rounds of ammunition were with them in a
truck-cart, but none was distributed.

Meanwhile the telephones had been busy. The Assistant-Commissioner of
Dublin Police, Mr. Harrel, an energetic officer, was informed, and he
acted instantly. The Under-Secretary, permanent official head of Dublin
Castle, was at his Lodge in the Phoenix Park some two miles distant: Mr.
Harrel informed him of what was happening and was ordered to meet him at
the Castle. But Mr. Harrel was not content to delay. He called out what
police he could muster, some hundred and eighty men, and judging that
they would be insufficient, decided on his own authority to requisition
the military. At the Kildare Street Club he found the Brigadier-General
in command of the troops in Dublin, and this officer immediately ordered
out a company of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. With this force of
soldiers and police Mr. Harrel proceeded to a point on the road from
Howth to Dublin and blocked the way. When the body of Volunteers
reached him, he demanded the surrender of their rifles. This was
refused. He then ordered the police to disarm the men. A scuffle
followed, in which nineteen rifles were seized. Some of the Volunteers
without orders fired revolvers, and by this firing two soldiers were
slightly wounded. One Volunteer received a slight bayonet wound.

Then there was a stop and a parley, and the Volunteer leaders threatened
to distribute ammunition. While the parley lasted the Volunteers in rear
of the column dispersed, carrying their rifles, leaving only a couple of
ranks drawn across the road in front, who blocked the view. When Mr.
Harrel perceived what was happening, he ordered the soldiers to march
back to Dublin and took the police with him.

By this time wild rumours had spread through the city, and on the way
back the troops were mobbed. They were pelted with every kind of missile
and many were hurt, though none seriously; and it understates the truth
to say that they were in no danger. They had their bayonets, and from
time to time made thrusts at their assailants. At last, on the quays, at
a place called Bachelor's Walk, the company was halted, and the officer
in command intended, if necessary, to give an order for a few individual
men to fire over the heads of the crowd. But the troops had lost their
temper, and without order given a considerable number fired into the
crowd. Three persons were killed and some thirty injured.

The first that I knew of these events was on the Monday, when I got the
paper at a station in Gloucestershire, on my way to the House. The
railway-carriage was full of casual English people, and I have never
heard so much indignant comment on any piece of news. "Why should they
shoot the people in Dublin when they let the Ulstermen do what they
like?" That was the burden of it. It is easy to guess what was felt and
thought and said in Dublin and throughout Ireland.

What Redmond said in the House of Commons is characteristic of his
attitude. He demanded that full judicial and military inquiry into the
action of the troops should be held, and that proper punishment should
be inflicted on those found guilty.

"But," he said, "really the responsibility rests upon those who
requisitioned the troops under these circumstances. So far as the troops
are concerned, I deplore more than I can say that this has
occurred--this incident calculated to breed bad blood between the Irish
people and the troops. I deplore that. I hope that our people will not
be so unjust as to hold the troops generally responsible for what, no
doubt, taking it at its worst, was the offence of a limited number of

I do not think any soldier could have wished for a fairer or more
friendly statement; and a chance assisted to realize his hope that the
troops generally would not be held responsible. One of the killed was a
woman whose son was a Dublin Fusilier. This man published a letter in
the Press calling on all Dublin Fusiliers and all soldiers who
sympathized with him to attend the funeral. It was well that the
populace should feel on such a matter as this that all the troops were
not against them; and well that they should be counselled by the leader
of their nation to be reasonable in the direction of their resentment.

This whole incident should never be forgotten by those who are disposed
to judge the Irish harshly for what they did, and did not do, in the
succeeding years. Above all, it should be remembered that the news of
it, terribly provocative in itself to any people, but tenfold
provocative by reason of the contrast which it revealed as compared with
the treatment of Ulster, was published to the world less than ten days
before Redmond had to face the question, What should Ireland do in the


[Footnote 2: _Manchester Guardian_, February 4, 1919]




The week which began on Monday, July 27th, was feverish and excited.
Formal discussion on the occurrences at Clontarf and Bachelor's Walk was
confined to the Monday; but each day had a stormy scene during
question-time arising out of it. The Amending Bill from the Lords was to
have been taken on Tuesday, but Mr. Asquith postponed it till Thursday,
to get a calmer atmosphere. When Thursday came, it was postponed again
and indefinitely. "We meet," said the Prime Minister, "under conditions
of gravity which are almost unparalleled in the experience of any one of
us." It was therefore necessary to "present a united front and be able
to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation." To continue
the Home Rule discussion must involve the House in acute controversy in
regard to "domestic differences whose importance to ourselves no one in
any quarter of the House is disposed to disparage or belittle."

The Leader of the Opposition assented. Two sentences in his speech have
importance. The first laid it down that this postponement should not "in
any way prejudice the interests of any of the parties to the
controversy." The second indicated that he spoke not only for the
Unionist party but for Ulster.

It is very difficult now, after all that has crowded in upon us, jading
the sensitive recipient surface of memory, to reconstitute the frame of
mind in which we passed those days. One thing I clearly remember,
perhaps worth noting for its significance. In a division lobby,
probably on the Wednesday night, I came in touch with a friend, then a
subordinate member of the Government, who had been among the keenest
advocates of our cause. I asked how he thought things were going. My
question had reference to our affairs, which had been for so many months
the dominant issue; but he answered with reference to the European
situation, as if that alone existed. Looking back, it seems to me
strange that one should have been so engrossed in any preoccupation as
in reality to ignore the vast and imminent possibilities. Yet, after
all, I believe my case was typical of many. For us Irish, this was the
crucial point, the climax of a struggle which had been intense and
continuous now for a period of four years--which in its wider sense had
gone on, with ebb and flow, yet always in progress during the whole
adult lifetime of our leader and his principal colleagues. For more than
us, for scores of Labour men and Liberals, it had become almost a fixed
belief that European war was only a nightmare of the imagination. War in
the Balkans, war possibly in the East of Europe, we could think of; but
war flinging the complex organization, so potent yet so delicate, of
great and fully civilized States into the melting-pot--that we never
really believed in. Prophets of finance, prophets of the labour world,
had told us the thing was impossible. Even our most recent experience,
the irruption of armed forces into the political arena, had contributed
to fix in our minds the view that all armaments were merely _in
terrorem_, part of a gigantic game of bluff.

In a world organized as was Europe in 1914 on the basis of universal
military service, it is dangerous, not only materially but morally and
intellectually, to be as the people of these islands were, segregated
from all military experience. We were almost like children in a magazine
of explosives: we knew, of course, that there were dangerous substances
about us; but we did not realize how suddenly and irretrievably the
whole thing might go off.

I do not know how Redmond gauged the situation. But he spent the end of
the week in town, and must have been less unprepared than was one like
myself, who during the Saturday, Sunday and the Monday Bank Holiday was
away in a most peaceful country-side, remote from news. Even on the
Tuesday, the instant bearing on our own questions and our own lives of
what we read in the newspapers was not clear to me. There was to be a
debate, of course; but only when I saw the attendants setting chairs on
the floor of the House itself--a thing which had not been done since
Gladstone introduced his second Home Rule Bill--did I grasp the fact
that something wholly unusual was expected.

My strong impression is that the House as a whole was in great measure
unprepared for what it had to face. You could feel surprise in the air
as Sir Edward Grey developed his wonderful speech. Men, shaken away from
all traditional attitudes, responded from the depths of themselves to an
appeal which none of us had ever heard before.

Having failed to secure my place on the Irish benches, I was sitting on
one of the chairs close by the Sergeant at Arms, just inside the bar of
the House, so that I saw at once both sides of the assembly: there were
no parties that day. The Foreign Secretary's speech, intensely English,
with all the quality that is finest in English tradition, clearly did
not in its opening stages carry the House as a whole. Passages struck
home, here and there, to men not to parties, kindling individual
sentiments. Appeal to a common feeling for France did not elicit a
general response; but here and there in every quarter there were those
who leapt to their feet and cheered, waving the papers that were in
their hands; and the two figures that stand out most vividly in my
recollection were Willie Redmond, our leader's brother, and Arthur
Lynch. We were in a very different atmosphere already from the days of
the Boer War.

It was not until the speaker reached in his statement the outrage
committed on Belgian neutrality that feeling manifested itself
universally. Appeal was made to the sense of honour, of fair play, of
respect for pledges, by a man as well fitted to make such an appeal as
ever addressed any audience; and it was the case of Belgium that made
the House of Commons unanimous.

Later in the evening speeches from the Radical group made it clear that
unanimity was not yet definitive. Labour was hesitant; Germany had still
to complete Sir Edward Grey's work. With this disposition in England
itself, what was likely to be the feeling in Ireland? Nobody, I think,
expected that anything would be said from our benches. There had been no
consultation in our party, such as was customary and almost obligatory
on important occasions. I have said before that Redmond's position was
by understanding and agreement that of chairman, not of leader. Mr.
Dillon, by far the most important of his colleagues, was away in
Ireland. Any action that Redmond took he must take not merely in an
unusual but in a new capacity, as leader, at a great moment, acting in
his own right.

Neither had there been any consultation between him and the Government.
He knew only what the general public knew. Parts of Sir Edward Grey's
speech were to him, as to the other members of the House, a surprise at
many points. At one point it certainly was. After summing up the
situation, first in relation to France, then in relation to Belgium, the
Foreign Secretary, speaking with the utmost gravity, foretold for Great
Britain terrible suffering in this war, "whether we are in it or whether
we stand aside." He made it clear that the island safety was not
unchallengeable; there could be no pledge to send an expeditionary force
outside the kingdom. Then, with a sudden lift of his voice, he added:
"One thing I would say: the one bright spot in the very dreadful
situation is Ireland. The position in Ireland--and this I should like to
be clearly understood abroad--is not a consideration among the things we
have to take into account now."

The history of this passage is strange. All who heard assumed that the
speaker relied on definite promises. Such a promise had been given, from
one party. The Ulster leader had, with the sure instinct for Ulster's
interest which guided him throughout, conveyed to the Government through
Mr. Bonar Law an assurance that they could count on Ulster's imperial
patriotism. Ulster, so far as pledges went, was the bright spot. Where
Germany had counted on finding trouble for Great Britain, no trouble
would be found. But Sir Edward Grey at that moment of his career was
lifted perhaps beyond himself, certainly to the utmost range of his
statesmanship. He was a chief member of the Ministry which had brought
to the verge of complete statutory accomplishment the task which the
Liberal party inherited from Gladstone. He knew--his words have been
already quoted--what Ireland's gratitude to Gladstone had been even for
the unfinished effort; and now, in this crucial hour, he counted upon
Ireland. From Ulster, which had its bitter resentment, assurances were
needed: but if Ulster were contented to fall into line, then all was
well with Ireland. Speaking as one who had done his part by Ireland,
with the confidence that counts upon full comradeship he assumed the
generosity of Ireland's response. That did not fail him, sudden and
unforeseen though the challenge came--for it was an appeal and a
challenge to Ireland's generosity.

When the notable words concerning Ireland were spoken, Redmond turned to
the colleague who sat next him, one of his close personal friends, and
one of his wisest, most moderate and most courageous counsellors. He
said: "I'm thinking of saying something. Do you think I ought to?" Mr.
Hayden answered, "That depends on what you are going to say." Redmond
said: "I'm going to tell them they can take all their troops out of
Ireland and we will defend the country ourselves." "In that case," said
Mr. Hayden, "you should certainly speak." Redmond leant over to Mr. T.P.
O'Connor, who sat immediately below him, and consulted him also. Mr.
O'Connor was against it. Though the war had no more enthusiastic
supporter, he thought the risk too great. It was just a week and a day
since Redmond had moved an adjournment to consider the occasion when
Government forces were turned out to disarm Irish Volunteers, and when
troops fired without order on a Dublin crowd. Ireland was still given
over to a fury of resentment, issuing not alone in speeches but in
active warlike preparation. On Sunday, August 1st, memorial masses for
the victims were held up and down the country. In Belfast there was a
parade of four thousand Irish Volunteers; and finally, at a point on the
Wicklow coast, some ten thousand rifles were landed and distributed in
defiance of Government and its troops. Now, forty-eight hours after
these demonstrations, would the Irish leader ask his countrymen to blot
from their minds and from their hearts so recent and so terrible a
wound? Would he attempt to change the whole direction of a nation's
feeling? The boldest and the most generous might well have hesitated.
Redmond did not.

This is not to say that he spoke without full reflection. He always
thought far ahead; and in these tense days of waiting upon rumour, he
must have pondered deeply upon all the possibilities--must have had
intuition of what this opportunity, England's difficulty, might mean for
Ireland. Other minds were on the same trail. In the Dublin papers of
that morning were two letters of moment--one of them from Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle.

"The chief point which has divided Protestant Ulster from the rest of
Ireland," he wrote, "is that Nationalists were not loyal to the Empire."
Then, recalling briefly the extent to which Irish Nationalists had
helped in creating that Empire, he went on: "There is no possible reason
why a man should not be a loyal Irishman and a loyal Imperialist
also.... A whole-hearted declaration of loyalty to the common ideal
would at the present moment do much to allay the natural fears of Ulster
and to strengthen the position of Ireland. Such a chance is unlikely to
recur. I pray that the Irish leaders may understand its significance and
put themselves in a position to take advantage of it."

The other letter, written from a different standpoint, was signed by Mr.
M.J. Judge, a most active Irish Volunteer who had been wounded in the
scuffle on the way back from Howth. "England," he said, "might inspire
confidence by restoring it. She could bestow confidence by immediately
arming and equipping the Irish Volunteers. The Volunteers, properly
armed and equipped, could preserve Ireland from invasion, and England
would be free to utilize her 'army of occupation' for the defence of her
own shores."

Redmond could not have seen either of these letters, but those two
trains of thought were blended in his speech--which was less a speech
than a supreme action. It was the utterance of a man who has a vision
and who, acting in the light of it, seeks to embody the vision in a
living reality.

Mr. Bonar Law followed Sir Edward Grey with a few brief sentences of
whole-hearted support. Then Redmond rose, and a hush of expectation went
over the house. I can see it now, the crowded benches and the erect,
solid figure with the massive hawk-visaged head thrown back, standing
squarely at the top of the gangway. While he spoke, as during Sir Edward
Grey's speech, the cheering broke out first intermittently and scattered
over the House, then grew gradually universal. Sitting about me were
Tory members whom I did not know; I heard their ejaculations of
bewilderment, approval and delight. But in the main body of the
Unionists behind the front Opposition bench papers were being waved, and
when Redmond sat down many of these men stood up to cheer him. In five
minutes he had changed the whole atmosphere of domestic politics in
regard to the main issue of controversy.--Here is the speech:

"I hope the House will not think me impertinent to intervene in the
debate, but I am moved to do so a great deal by that sentence in the
speech of the Foreign Secretary in which he said that the one bright
spot in the situation was the changed feeling in Ireland. Sir, in past
time, when this Empire has been engaged in these terrible enterprises,
it is true that it would be the utmost affectation and folly on my part
to deny that the sympathies of Nationalist Ireland, for reasons deep
down in the centuries of history, have been estranged from this country.
But allow me to say that what has occurred in recent years has altered
the situation completely. I must not touch upon any controversial topic,
but this I may be allowed to say--that a wider knowledge of the real
facts of Irish history has altered the view of the democracy of this
country towards the Irish question, and I honestly believe that the
democracy of Ireland will turn with the utmost anxiety and sympathy to
this country in every trial and danger with which she is faced.

"There is a possibility of history repeating itself. The House will
remember that in 1778, at the end of the disastrous American War, when
it might be said that the military force of this country was almost at
its lowest ebb, the shores of Ireland were threatened with invasion.
Then a hundred thousand Irish Volunteers sprang into existence for the
purpose of defending those shores. At first, however--and how sad is the
reading of the history of those days! no Catholic was allowed to be
enrolled in that body of Volunteers; yet from the first day the
Catholics of the South and West subscribed their money and sent it for
the army of their Protestant fellow-countrymen. Ideas widened as time
went on, and finally the Catholics of the South were armed and enrolled
as brothers-in-arms with their fellow-countrymen. May history repeat
itself! To-day there are in Ireland two large bodies of Volunteers, one
of which has sprung into existence in the North and another in the
South. I say to the Government that they may to-morrow withdraw every
one of their troops from Ireland. Ireland will be defended by her armed
sons from invasion, and for that purpose the armed Catholics in the
South will be only too glad to join arms with the armed Protestant
Ulster men. Is it too much to hope that out of this situation a result
may spring which will be good, not merely for the Empire, but for the
future welfare and integrity of the Irish nation? Whilst Irishmen are in
favour of peace and would desire to save the democracy of this country
from all the horrors of war, whilst we will make any possible sacrifice
for that purpose, still, if the necessity is forced upon this country,
we offer this to the Government of the day: They may take their troops
away, and if it is allowed to us, in comradeship with our brothers in
the North, we will ourselves defend the shores of Ireland."

It needed no gift of prophecy to be certain that such a speech would be
popular in the House of Commons, and many Unionists that day were almost
aggrieved that Sir Edward Carson had not risen at once to reply to the
offer in the same spirit. They did not realize the difficulty of the
Ulster leader's position. To admit and welcome the unity of Ireland was
to give away Ulster's case. To accept the Nationalist leader's utterance
as sincere, still more to assume that Ireland as a whole would endorse
it, was to weaken, if not to give away, Ulster's best argument, and from
that hour to the end of the war Sir Edward Carson was most loyal to
Ulster's interests.

Further, it is conceivable that by some who cheered it the speech may
have been misunderstood. Yet it is not probable that many who heard
Redmond believed that in order to serve England he was flinging away
Ireland's national claim, to the successful furtherance of which his
whole life had been devoted. The Unionist party as a whole certainly
understood that to accept Redmond's offer in the spirit in which it was
made meant accepting the principle of Home Rule: and on that afternoon
in August they were not unready to accept it. They felt, for the speech
made them feel, that a great thing had happened. Yet they might well be
pardoned for some scepticism as to how the utterance might be taken in
Ireland, and how it would issue in action. A famous Nationalist said
some ten days later: "When I read the speech in the paper, I was filled
with dismay. Now I recognize that it was a great stroke of statesmanship
which I should never have had the courage to advise."

Redmond's instinct had been right. He trusted in the appeal to national
pride and to the sense of national unity. Ireland was perfectly willing,
and he knew it, to give loyal friendship to England on the basis of
freedom. But the test of freedom had now come to be the right to bear
arms, and this was a proposal that Ireland should undertake her own
defence. Ireland was sick of the talk of civil war, and this was a
proposal that Ulstermen and the rest should make common cause. It was an
appeal addressed by an instinct, which was no less subtle than it was
noble, to what was most responsive in the best qualities of Irishmen.
None the less it was a statesman's utterance addressed to a people
politically quick-minded; Ireland saw as well as Redmond himself that
what stood in the way of Ireland's national aspiration was the
opposition of one section of Irishmen. To that extent, and to that
extent only, was the speech political in its purpose. Whatever made for
common action made for unity; and whatever made for unity made for Home
Rule. That is the key to Redmond's attitude throughout the war--perhaps
also to Sir Edward Carson's.


The response from Nationalist Ireland had not long to be waited
for--although the inquest on the victims of the Bachelor's Walk tragedy
was in progress on the very day when Redmond's speech appeared in the
Press. Waterford Corporation instantly endorsed their member's
utterance, and throughout the week similar resolutions were passed all
over the country, Unionist members of these bodies joining in to second
the proposals. In Cork, the City Council had before it a resolution
condemning the Government for its attempt to disarm the Irish
Volunteers, and calling for stringent penalties on the offenders in the
Bachelor's Walk affair: the resolution was withdrawn and one of hearty
support to Redmond's attitude adopted.

Yet Irish opinion did not go so far as Mr. William O'Brien, who proposed
the complete dropping of the Home Rule Bill till after the war, in order
to bring about a genuine national unity. The action of the Offaly corps
of Volunteers, for instance, was typical. They agreed to offer their
services gladly on two conditions: first, that the Home Rule Bill should
go on the Statute Book; secondly, that the Volunteers should be
subsidized and equipped by Government.

But it was assumed in Ireland that no question arose about the safety of
the Bill, and people gave themselves to the new emotion. Troops were
cheered everywhere at stations and on the quays: National Volunteers and
local bands turned out to see them off. Even the battalion of King's Own
Scottish Borderers, which had been confined to barracks since the
events of July 26th, was cheered like the rest as it marched down to the
transports ready for it.[3]

This was the attitude of the general populace. Broadly speaking,
Redmond's speech pleased the people. It was welcomed by generous-minded
men in another class, who responded at once in the same spirit. Lord
Monteagle wrote: "Mr. Redmond has risen nobly to the occasion"; Lord
Bessborough, that he trusted all the Unionists in the South would at
once join the Irish Volunteers. The Marquis of Headfort, the Earls of
Fingall and of Desart, Lord Powerscourt, Lord Langford, all chimed in
with offers of help. Mr. George Taaffe wrote: "I thank God from the
bottom of my heart that to-day we stand united Ireland." In county
Wexford sixty young Protestants came in a body to join up, led by a very
Tory squire.

It should be clearly noted that while Redmond's aim was to make this
Ireland's war, in which Irishmen should serve together without
distinction of North or South, all that he asked of the land in his
speech of August 4th was that the Volunteers should undertake duties of
home defence. This was precisely what Sir Edward Carson had asked of
Ulster. On August 14th, in a letter to the Press, the commander of a
Fermanagh battalion of Ulster Volunteers wrote: "No one will be asked to
serve outside Ulster until Sir Edward Carson notifies that he is
satisfied with the attitude of the Government with regard to the Home
Rule Bill and Ulster."

Redmond neither could nor did ask any man to serve outside Ireland till
he was satisfied with the Government's attitude in regard to Home Rule.
In the first days of the war, however, the critical question for him was
to know how his offer of assistance from the Volunteers would be
accepted by the Government, and at the outset all promised favourably.
On August 8th a telegram was sent to the Lord-Lieutenant:

"His Majesty's Government recognize with deep gratitude the loyal help
which Ireland has offered in this grave hour. They hope to announce as
soon as possible arrangements by which this offer can be made use of to
the fullest possible extent."

That unquestionably represented the mind of Mr. Asquith and his civilian
colleagues. But a new power had transformed the Cabinet. Lord Kitchener,
refusing to accept the post of Commander in Chief, had insisted on
becoming Secretary of State for War.

No one is likely to underestimate Lord Kitchener's value at that hour.
But probably no one now will dispute that the political control which
this soldier obtained was excessive and was dangerous. Years of fierce
faction had shaken the public confidence in politicians, and a soldier
was traditionally above and beyond politics. But in Lord Kitchener's
case the soldier was certainly remote from and below the regions of
statesmanship. Narrow, domineering, and obstinate, he was a difficult
colleague for anyone; and for a Prime Minister with so easy a temper as
Mr. Asquith he was not a colleague but a master. He claimed to be
supreme in all matters relating to the Army, and in such a war this came
near to covering the whole field of government. It most certainly
covered the question of dealing with the Irish Volunteers and with the
Ulster Volunteers, which meant in reality the whole question of

Immediately on Lord Kitchener's appointment Redmond had an interview
with him. Redmond's report was that he had been most friendly--and most
limited in his expectations. "Get me five thousand men, and I will say
'Thank you,'" he had said. "Get me ten thousand, and I will take off my
hat to you." Yet the very smallness of the estimate should have been a
note of warning to us; it indicated a cynical view of Ireland's response
to Redmond's public declaration.

On the question of the Volunteers he made friendly promises. As the
Sirdar in Egypt he had been used to giving fair words to native chiefs.
There is not the least reason to suppose that Lord Kitchener would have
felt bound to show Redmond his real mind.

The truth was that Lord Kitchener held in respect to Ireland the
traditional opinions of the British Army. Nobody could blame the
professional soldier for dislike and distrust of Irish Nationalist
politicians generally; but when at such a crisis a professional soldier,
by no means conspicuous for breadth of mind, came to hold such a
position as Lord Kitchener seized, the result was certain to be
disastrous for Irish policy unless Liberal statesmanship exercised a
strong control over him. Neither Mr. Asquith nor Mr. Birrell was likely
to do this.

Two views were taken of the proposal to encourage and utilize the Irish
Volunteers. The first view was that Volunteers of any kind were a
superfluous encumbrance at a moment when the supreme need was for men in
the actual fighting-line; that encouragement of Volunteers gave an
excuse for shirking war; and further, that Volunteers outside the
State's control were a danger; that the danger was increased when there
were two rival Volunteer forces which might fly at each other's throats;
and that it was a matter for satisfaction that one of these forces
should be very greatly inferior to the other in point of arms and
equipment, so that considerations of prudence would lessen the chance of
collision. This satisfaction was greatly heightened by the reflection
that the armed force was thoroughly loyal to the Empire and could be
trusted to assist troops in the case of any attack upon the Empire begun
by the other--a contingency which should always be taken into account.

This line of thought was certainly Lord Kitchener's. He had no distrust
of Irish soldiers in ordinary regiments; no professional soldier ever
had. But he had a deep distrust of a purely Irish military organization
under Irish control. At the back of Lord Kitchener's mind was the
determination "I will not arm enemies." This was the very negation and
the antithesis of the second view, which was Redmond's.

Redmond's aim was to win the war, no less than Lord Kitchener's. But if
Lord Kitchener realized more clearly than other men in power how
far-reaching would be the need for troops, Redmond realized also far
more than the men in power how vital would be the need for America. He
saw from the first, knowing the English-speaking world far more widely
than perhaps any member of the Government, that the Irish trouble could
not limit its influence to Ireland only. Greater forces could be
conciliated for war purposes by reconciliation with Ireland--by bringing
Ireland heart and soul into the war--than the equivalent of many
regiments. Yet even from the narrower aspect of finding men, he regarded
the same policy as essential. He assumed that recruiting in Ireland must
always be voluntary--at any rate a matter for Ireland's own decision:
the question was how to get most troops. Knowing Ireland, he recognized
how complete was the estrangement of its population from the idea of
ordinary enlistment. The bulk of the population were on the land, and in
Ireland, as in Great Britain, "gone for a soldier" was a word of
disgrace for a farmer's son. More than that, the political organization
of which he was head had inculcated an attitude of aloofness from the
Army because it was the Army which held Ireland by force. Enlistment
had been discouraged, on the principle that from a military point of
view Ireland was regarded as a conquered country. A test case had arisen
over the Territorial Act, which was not extended to Ireland, any more
than the Volunteer Acts had been. We had voted against Lord Haldane's
Bill on the express ground that it put Ireland into this status of
inferiority and withheld from Irishmen that right to arm and drill which
was pressed upon Englishmen as a patriotic duty. We had explicitly
declared then in 1907 that our influence should and must be used against

These facts of history had not merely produced in Ireland an attitude of
mind hostile to the idea, so to say, of the British Army as an
institution, though the individual soldier had always been at least as
popular as anyone else. They had produced a population extraordinarily
unfamiliar with the idea of armament. The old Volunteers and the
Territorials had at least conveyed to all ranks of society in Great
Britain the possibility of joining a military organization while
remaining an ordinary citizen. In the imagination of Ireland, either you
were a soldier or you were not; and if you were a soldier, you belonged
to an exceptional class, remote from ordinary existence. To cross that
line was a far greater step to contemplate with us than in England.
Redmond reckoned, and reckoned rightly, that to bring Irishmen together
in military formations, learning the art of war, was the best way to
combat this disinclination to enter the Army--this feeling that
enlistment meant doing something "out of the way," something contrary to
usage and tradition. He reckoned that the attitude of Nationalist
Ireland would alter towards a Government which put arms in their hands
on their own terms; and that with a great war on foot a temper of
adventure and emulation would very soon draw young men flocking to the
ranks in which they could see the reality of war. That was Redmond's
policy and it was the statesman's. Nationalist Ireland was perfectly
ready to adopt the ideals which moved the British Empire at home and
overseas in the war: but first the British Empire must show that it
respected the ideals of Nationalist Ireland. The Empire's statesmen did
so: the British democracy did so: but Lord Kitchener stood in the way.

From Ulster, it was clear that immediate cordial co-operation could not
be anticipated. Yet Redmond had implicit faith in the ultimate effect of
comradeship in danger, and here we know he was right. He was to pay a
heavy price in blood for the seal set upon that bond; but in the end the
seal was set. For the moment, Ulster as a whole was sullen and
distrustful. Feeling that to admit the good faith of Nationalists
jeopardized their own political cause, they belittled what in the
interests of the common weal it would have been wise even to over-value.
At the outset "An Ulster Volunteer" wrote to the papers "Let us all
unite as a solid nation"; but such an utterance was exceptional. Hardly
less exceptional was the line taken by "An Officer of National
Volunteers" who wrote, "If the necessity arose to-morrow and the word
went out from Headquarters, the National Volunteers would be prepared to
fight to the very death in defending the homes and liberties of France
and England." "For Ireland Only" was a motto much inculcated in those
days among the Irish Volunteers. Suspicion on the one side bred
estrangement on the other; and every hour lost increased the mischief.

Moreover, in spite of the generous action taken by outstanding
individuals, the general mass of Unionist opinion was grudging and
uncordial. A friend who was then closely in touch with it described to
me the attitude of Dublin clubs: "They were almost sorry Redmond had
done the right thing." Such men were part of Ireland, and all Ireland
was remote from war. For them, now as always, Home Rule was the
paramount consideration, and none could deny that the prospects for
Home Rule were immensely improved by Redmond's action. In these days,
when an end of the conflict was expected in three months, when every
check to the Germans was magnified out of all reason, there was no sense
of the relative value of issues. Everywhere in Unionist society and in
the Irish Unionist Press there was ungenerous and unfriendly criticism
which did much harm.

Two things could have checked these forces for evil. The first would
have been an immediate decision to make Home Rule law. This would have
put an end to the pestilent growth of suspicion among Nationalists, and
it would have enabled Redmond to launch at once his appeal for soldiers.
The other would have been a decision to make good the pledge contained
in the Government's message to Lord Aberdeen and to accept in some
practical way the offered service of the Volunteers.

The latter of these courses involved no controversy with Ulster, and to
it Redmond first addressed himself. He made constant appeals in private
to Ministers; he was angry and disappointed over the delay: and after a
week he thought it necessary to raise the matter in the House. He asked
the Prime Minister whether British Territorials were to be sent to
Ireland to replace the troops which had been withdrawn--a step which
would have been equivalent to a rejection of his offer. On this point he
received satisfaction; Territorials would not be sent. He asked then if
the Prime Minister could not say at once what steps would be taken to
arm and equip the Volunteers. Mr. Asquith's reply emphasized the great
difficulty which stood in the way. "I do not say," he added, "that it is
insuperable." The first part was the voice of Lord Kitchener; the
second, the voice of the Government which had sent the telegram of
August 8th.

In the War Office the desire to give the National Volunteers as far as
possible what they wanted did not exist, and the Government, who had
that desire, had not the determination to enforce it. Such a position
can never be for long concealed. Let it be remembered, too, that all
through these days there was proceeding in Dublin a public inquiry into
the events of the Howth gun-running and the affray at Bachelor's Walk,
and some measure of Redmond's difficulties may be obtained.

Nevertheless, his policy was winning: and when Parliament rose for an
adjournment, he spent his first Sunday in Ireland motoring to
Maryborough, where he inspected a great muster of Volunteers, and was
able to speak to them with gladness of the response to his appeal.

"From every part of Ireland I have had assurances from the Irish
Volunteers that they are ready to fulfil this duty: and from every
part--perhaps better and happier still--evidences of a desire on the
part of men who in the past have been divided from us to come in at this
hour of danger."

He told his audience how a battalion of that famous regiment, the
Inniskilling Fusiliers, had been escorted through the town of
Enniskillen, in which Orange and Green have always been equally and
sharply divided, by combined bodies of the Irish and Ulster Volunteer
Forces. Then turning to the question of equipment, and reminding them
that the proclamation against importing arms had been withdrawn, he
announced that he had secured several thousand rifles to distribute.[4]
He went on then to pledge himself--it must be said with characteristic
overconfidence--as to the intentions of the Government: "The
Government--which has withdrawn its troops from Ireland and which has
refused to send English Territorials to take their place--is about to
arm, equip and drill a large number of Irish Volunteers." Very soon, he
told them, every man in the force would have a rifle--and this involved
a grave responsibility, and the need for discipline in the work which
was laid upon them.

"I wish them God-speed with their work. It is the holiest work that men
can undertake, to maintain the freedom and the rights and to uphold the
peace, the order and safety of their own nation. You ought to be
proud--you, the sons and the grandsons of men who were shot down for
daring to arm themselves--you ought to be proud that you have lived to
see the day when with the good will of the democracy of England you are
arming yourselves in the light of heaven."

The note of exultation in this passage rings again and again through his
utterances. He saw, or thought he saw, the symbol of achieved liberty in
the muster of young men, ready to take up the sword, and no longer
branded with the name of felons for so doing. Nor was he alone in his
rejoicing. The host at that meeting was a great Irish landlord, Colonel
Sir Hutcheson Poe. He, upon reading Redmond's speech of August 4th had
written to the Press saying that since he was too old to serve he was
taking steps to arm and equip a hundred National Volunteers. Now, in
Redmond's presence, addressing a body of the Volunteers, he told them
what he thought of Redmond's action.

"That five minutes' speech did more to compose our differences, to unite
all Irishmen in a bond of friendship and good will, than could have been
accomplished by years of agitation or by a conference, however
well-intentioned it might be."

That was a notable tribute from one of the eight men who formed the
historic Land Conference of 1902; and Sir Hutcheson Poe was not the man
to rest on complimentary expressions. He set to work at once to promote
a memorial praying for joint action between Ulster and the Irish
Volunteers and for settlement of the political question which alone
prevented such action.

Unhappily, this was not easy of accomplishment. When the House
reassembled after its adjournment of a fortnight, negotiations were
resumed, with the result that on August 31st the Prime Minister asked
for a fresh adjournment for ten days, at the end of which time the
Government hoped to be able to produce satisfactory proposals as to the
Irish and Welsh Bills. Redmond felt himself obliged to enter a protest.
It had been agreed that the circumstances of the war should not be
allowed to inflict political injury on any party in the House; and he
would give the friendliest consideration to any proposal for giving to
the Opposition what they might have gained by a discussion on the
Amending Bill.

"But we must emphatically say that any proposal which would have the
effect of depriving us of the enactment of the Irish measure--and I
presume I may say the same with reference to the Welsh measure--an
enactment to which we were entitled practically automatically when the
circumstances of the war arose, would do infinite mischief, and would be
warmly resented by us.

"Just let me say one word more. There has arisen in Ireland the greatest
opportunity that has ever arisen in the history of the connection
between the two countries for a thorough reconciliation between the
people of Ireland and the people of this country. There is to-day, I
venture to say, a feeling of friendliness to this country, and a desire
to join hands in supporting the interests of this country such as were
never to be found in the past; and I do say with all respect, that it
would be not only a folly, but a crime, if that opportunity were in any
degree marred or wasted by any action which this country might take. I
ask this House--and I ask all sections of the House--to take such a
course as will enable me to go back to Ireland to translate into
vigorous action the spirit of the words I used here a few days ago."

An angry scene followed. Mr. Balfour asked whether "it was possible
decently to introduce subjects of acute discussion in present
circumstances"--in other words, whether all mention of Home Rule must
not be postponed till after the war. This provoked hot debate, checked
only by a strong appeal from the Prime Minister. But the general effect
was not reassuring to Ireland. The contrast with the Tsar's prompt grant
of autonomy to Poland was sharply drawn. Nobody rated high the chances
of an amicable agreement. On September 4th Sir Edward Carson outlined
his views in Belfast. Home Rule "will never be law in our country." But
"in the interests of the State and of the Empire we will postpone active
measures." This indicated sufficiently that in his judgment the Bill
might become law, and that they would not be encouraged to set up
immediate resistance. The Prime Minister, as chief Minister of the
nation, must be supported in the war at all costs.

Next day, renewing at Coleraine his appeal for recruits, he said:

"We are not going to abate one jot or tittle of our opposition to Home
Rule, and when you come back from serving your country you will be just
as determined as you will find us at home."

This was the answer to Redmond's proposal of fraternization. Clearly Sir
Edward Carson had made up his mind that he could not prevent the passage
of the Bill, and he decided upon the strongest course, which was to
advocate unlimited support to the war. Any other course would have been
ruinous to his cause, which depended always upon a profession of the
extremest loyalty. Yet only a strong man, confident in his leadership,
could have taken this line at a moment when Ulstermen were about to feel
that all their preparations were wasted and that the game had been won
against them by a paralysing chance.

Before the House reassembled there was a meeting at the Carlton Club; a
report communicated to the Press attributed these words to Sir Edward
Carson--they are typical of the tone of the time:

"We asked for no terms and we got none. We did not object to go under
the War Office. We did not make speeches calculated to humbug or
deceive while we meant to do nothing."

On September 15th Government announced its intentions. Both Bills were
to be placed on the Statute Book, but their operation deferred till the
end of twelve months, or, if the war were not then over, till the end of
the war. During the suspensory period Government would introduce an
Amending Bill. Mr. Asquith made a flattering reference to Sir Edward
Carson's action in appealing to his organization for recruits, and
admitted that "it might be said that the Ulstermen had been put at a
disadvantage by the loyal and patriotic action which they had
undertaken."--This meant that their preparations for resistance to Mr.
Asquith's Government were disorganized.--He proceeded to promise that
they should never have need of such preparations; they should get all
the preparations aimed at without having to use them.

"I say, speaking again on behalf of the Government, that in our view,
under the conditions which now exist--we must all recognize the
atmosphere which this great patriotic spirit has created in the
country--the employment of force, any kind of force, for what you call
the coercion of Ulster, is an absolutely unthinkable thing. So far as I
am concerned, and so far as my colleagues are concerned--I speak for
them, for I know their unanimous feeling--that is a thing we would never
countenance or consent to."

This utterance has dominated the situation from that day to this. Ulster
had organized to rebel, sooner than come under an Irish Parliament; and
had refrained from rebellion because the Great War was in progress. For
this reason Ulster should never be coerced, no matter what might happen.
Sir Edward Carson's line of action had secured an enormous concession:
he might have gone back to his people and said, "We have won." But he
was strong enough to represent it as a new outrage, which they for the
sake of loyalty must in the hour of common danger submit to endure. By
this course, risky for himself, he vastly improved their position in all
future negotiation.--After a violent speech from Mr. Bonar Law the Tory
party walked out of the House in a body.

Redmond rose at once. He denounced the view that Ireland had gained an
advantage, or desired to gain one. The Prime Minister had at every stage
assured him that the Bill would be put on the Statute Book in that
session, and therefore it was unjust to say that his loyalty was only
conditional; he had asked for nothing that was not won in advance. Now,
instead of an Act to become immediately operative, Ireland received one
with at least a year's delay. Yet this moratorium did not seem to him

"When everybody is preoccupied by the war and when everyone is
endeavouring--and the endeavour will be made as enthusiastically in
Ireland as anywhere else in the United Kingdom--to bring about the
creation of an Army, the idea is absurd that under these circumstances a
new Government and a new Parliament could be erected in Ireland."

Further, it gave time for healing work. The two things that he cared for
most "in this world of politics" were: first, that "not a single sod of
Irish soil and not a single citizen of the Irish nation" should be
excluded from the operation of Irish self-government; secondly, that no
coercion should be applied to any single county in Ireland to force
their submission.

The latter of these ideals was cast up to him by many in Ireland, first
in private grumblings, afterwards with public iteration. He saw and
admitted, what these critics urged, that the one aspiration made the
other impossible of fulfilment, for the moment. Would it be so, he
asked, after an interval in which Ulstermen and other Irishmen,
Nationalist and Unionist, would be found fighting and dying side by side
on the battlefield on the Continent, and at home, as he hoped and
believed, drilling shoulder to shoulder for the defence of the shores of
their own country?

On that hint he renewed his appeal to the Ulster Volunteers for
co-operation and regretted that he had got no response from them. More
than that, he urged that his appeal to Government had got no response.
"If they had done something to arm, equip and drill a certain number at
any rate of the National Volunteers the recruiting probably would have
been faster than it had been." Alluding to the taunts at Ireland's
shirking which had been bandied about in interruptions during the
debate, he recalled the stories which already had come back from France
of Irish valour; of the Munster Fusiliers who stood by their guns all
day and in the end dragged them back to their lines themselves; the
story told by wounded French soldiers who had seen the Irish Guards
charge three German regiments with the bayonet, singing a strange song
that the Frenchmen had never heard before--"something about God saving

"I saw these men," said Redmond, "marching through London on their way
to the station; they marched here past this building singing 'God save

But he could not rest his claim, and had no intention of resting it,
merely on the prowess of the Irish regulars already in the army.

"Speaking personally for myself, I do not think it is an exaggeration to
say that on hundreds of platforms in this country during the last few
years I have publicly promised, not only for myself, but in the name of
my country, that when the rights of Ireland were admitted by the
democracy of England, Ireland would become the strongest arm in the
defence of the Empire. The test has come sooner than I, or anyone,
expected. I tell the Prime Minister that this test will be honourably
met. I say for myself that I would feel myself personally dishonoured
if I did not say to my fellow-countrymen as I say to them here to-day,
and as I will say from the public platform when I go back to Ireland,
that it is their duty, and should be their honour, to take their place
in the fighting-line in this contest."

That was a clear pledge. The Home Rule Bill received the Royal Assent on
September 18th. But before the seal was affixed Redmond's manifesto to
the Irish people was in all the newspapers. It was his call to arms.


[Footnote 3: This fact was verified for me oddly enough. When the 16th
Division went to France, it was put through the usual period of
apprenticeship with trained troops, and our brigade was attached for
training to the Scottish Fifteenth Division. Two companies of our
battalion of the 6th Connaught Rangers were attached to the 8th and 9th
K.O.S.B. I met two officers who had been in Dublin on July 26th, and it
was one of these who told me of the cheering. Perhaps I may add that the
relations between our Connaught Rangers and the Scots were most
friendly, and that we found probably a hundred Irish Catholics in that
battalion--Irishmen living in the North of England who had at once
rushed to enlist in the nearest corps available.]

[Footnote 4: Bought in Belgium by John O'Connor M.P., and T.M. Kettle,
after the Germans had entered Brussels.]




At the ending of the long session of Parliament in 1914 there was a
curious scene in the House of Commons, where members were crowded to
assist at the formal passing of the Irish and Welsh Bills. On the
adjournment, Mr. Will Crooks, from his seat on the front bench below the
gangway, called out, "Mr. Speaker, would it be in order to sing 'God
save the King'?" and without more ado uplifted his voice and the House
chimed in. There must have been strange thoughts in the minds of
Redmond, of Mr. Dillon, and others of the Irish, standing in the places
where they had fought so long and bitter a battle, where they had been
so often the object of fierce reproaches, whence they had hurled back so
many taunts, now to find themselves the centre of congratulation, and
joined with English members in singing on the floor of the House that
national anthem which in Ireland had been for decades a symbol of
ascendancy, rigidly tabooed by every Nationalist.

When the singing ended, Mr. Crooks's genial voice rose again. "God save
Ireland!" he shouted.

"And God save England too!" Redmond answered.

That exchange of words outside the period of debate is, contrary to
usage but very properly, recorded in Hansard.

From this time forth Redmond was on his trial. He had given pledges; he
must make good to Ireland and make good to Great Britain. For the first,
since Home Rule could not be brought into operation, he must secure
recognition of the National Volunteers, must establish and regularize
their status; for the second, he must obtain recruits as Ireland's
contribution to the war. The two proposals were in his view--and indeed
were in reality--inseparably connected. For both, in order to succeed,
he needed to have the cordial support of his fellow-countrymen; for
both, he needed whole-hearted co-operation from the British Government.
It would be too much to say that Ireland backed him cordially; but for
the limitation of Ireland's response the fault lay chiefly and primarily
with the Government, which failed him completely. The War Office could
not actually and directly oppose his effort to raise troops; what they
could do was to hamper him by the adoption of wrong methods and the
refusal of right ones. Yet in that part of his task which involved
making good to England, laying England and the Empire under a debt of
living gratitude, his appeal was made to Ireland, and he succeeded so
far that only Ireland herself could have destroyed his work. But on the
other point, which involved gaining satisfaction for Ireland, the appeal
was made to Government and the refusal was complete. It was worse than
absolute, for it was tainted with bad faith. Mr. Asquith as Prime
Minister accepted the mutual covenant which Redmond had proposed, and
allowed Lord Kitchener to disallow fulfilment of it.

Redmond's view was not limited to Ireland's interest. No man living in
these islands felt more keenly for the great underlying principles at
issue in the war. His mission, as he conceived it, was to lead Ireland
to serve those principles. But it was futile to suppose that he could
secure for England all that England expected of Ireland if he could
obtain from England nothing of what Ireland asked. Redmond wanted
recognition for the Volunteers chiefly as a basis upon which Ireland
could feel that she was building an Irish army worthy of her record in
arms; and this army would be no mean assistance to the nations allied
against Germany's aggression. Considering all the facts which have to be
set out, the true cause for wonder is not the limitation but the extent
of his success.

There was neither delay nor uncertainty in his exposition of Ireland's
duty. Quite literally, he seized the first chance that came to his hand.
He left London on the evening when the Act was signed, motored to
Holyhead, as he liked to do, in the big car which his friends had
presented to him--it was the only material testimonial which he ever
received--and crossed by the night boat, driving on in the morning to
Aughavanagh. When he reached the Vale of Ovoca he found a muster of the
East Wicklow Volunteers. These were the nearest thing to him in all the
force--his own friends and neighbours from the Wicklow hills. Aughrim,
his post-town at the foot of his own particular valley, had its company,
commanded by a friend of his, the local schoolmaster--typical of what
was best in the Volunteers, a keen Gaelic Leaguer, tireless in, work for
the old language and old history. This man, well on in the forties, but
mountain-bred and hardy, had thrown himself into the new
movement--little guessing that a few months would see him a private in
the British Army, or that he would come with honour to command a company
of a famous Irish regiment on the battlefields of a European war.

If it had been only for the sake of Captain MacSweeny (he was then, of
course, only a captain of Volunteers), I think Redmond would have
stopped. But it was a gathering of many friends, who pressed him to
speak at a moment when his heart was full. Grave results followed from
what he said that day; but a week sooner or later he was bound to say
these things, and the results were bound to follow. Here is the pith of
his utterance:

     "I know that you will make efficient soldiers. Efficient for what?
     Wicklow Volunteers, in spite of the peaceful happiness and beauty
     of the scene in which we stand, remember this country at this
     moment is in a state of war, and the duty of the manhood of Ireland
     is twofold. Its duty is at all cost to defend the shores of Ireland
     from foreign invasion. It has a duty more than that, of taking care
     that Irish valour proves itself on the field of war as it has
     always proved itself in the past. The interests of Ireland, of the
     whole of Ireland, are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken
     in defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and
     right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country, a
     reproach to her manhood, and a denial of the lessons of her
     history, if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at
     home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, or
     should shrink from the duty of proving on the field of battle that
     gallantry and courage which have distinguished their race all
     through all its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is
     twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers
     around me, and I say to you: go on drilling and make yourselves
     efficient for the work, and then account for yourselves as men, not
     only in Ireland itself, but wherever the firing-line extends, in
     defence of right and freedom and religion in this war."

On the following Thursday Mr. Asquith, as Redmond had publicly urged him
to do, came to Dublin and spoke at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor
in the chair. Mr. Dillon and Mr. Devlin, as well as Redmond, were on the
same platform and spoke also. The papers of September 25th, which
reported the speeches of this notable gathering, contained also a
manifesto from twenty members of the original Committee of the
Volunteers, definitely breaking with Redmond's policy and taking his
speech to the Wicklow Volunteers as their cause of action. Having
recited a version of the facts which led up to the inclusion of
Redmond's nominees on the Committee, it continued:

     "Mr. Redmond, addressing a body of Irish Volunteers on last Sunday,
     has now announced for the Irish Volunteers a policy and programme
     fundamentally at variance with their own published and accepted
     aims and objects, but with which his nominees are, of course,
     identified. He has declared it to be the duty of the Irish
     Volunteers to take foreign service under a Government which is not
     Irish. He has made this announcement without consulting the
     Provisional Committee, the Volunteers themselves, or the people of
     Ireland, to whose service alone they are devoted."

The next paragraph announced the expulsion of Redmond's nominees and the
reconstitution of the Committee as it existed before their admission.
Six resolutions followed. It is noteworthy that the attitude taken up
with regard to autonomy was simply "to oppose any diminution of the
measure of Irish self-government which now exists as a Statute on
paper," and to repudiate any "consent to the legislative dismemberment
of Ireland." There was no word of an Irish Republic and no explicit
claim beyond immediate operation for the Home Rule Act.

Ireland's attitude towards the war was defined by a resolution:

     "To declare that Ireland cannot, with honour or safety, take part
     in foreign quarrels otherwise than through the free action of a
     National Government of her own; and to repudiate the claim of any
     man to offer up the blood and lives of the sons of Irishmen and
     Irishwomen to the service of the British Empire while no National
     Government which could speak and act for the people of Ireland is
     allowed to exist."

Mr. Asquith, when he spoke on Thursday night, must have been informed
that this split was imminent, and he spoke with a view to that
situation. He said:

     "Speaking here in Dublin, I address myself for a moment
     particularly to the National Volunteers, and I am going to ask them
     all over Ireland--not only them, but I make the appeal to them
     particularly--to contribute with promptitude and enthusiasm a large
     and worthy contingent of recruits to the second new army of half a
     million which is now growing up, as it were, out of the ground. I
     should like to see, and we all want to see, an Irish Brigade--or,
     better still, an Irish Army Corps. Don't let them be afraid that by
     joining the colours they will lose their identity and become
     absorbed in some invertebrate mass, or what is perhaps equally
     repugnant, be artificially redistributed into units which have no
     national cohesion or character.

     "We shall, to the utmost limit that military expediency will allow,
     see that men who have been already associated in this or that
     district in training and in common exercises shall be kept together
     and continue to recognize the corporate bond which now unites them.
     One thing further. We are in urgent need of competent officers, and
     when the officers now engaged in training these men prove equal to
     the test, there is no fear that their services will not be gladly
     and gratefully retained. But, I repeat, gentlemen, the Empire needs
     recruits and needs them at once. They may be fully trained and
     equipped in time to take their part in what may prove to be the
     decisive field in the greatest struggle of the history of the
     world. That is our immediate necessity, and no Irishman in
     responding to it need be afraid he is jeopardizing the future of
     the Volunteers.

     "I do not say, and I cannot say, under what precise form of
     organization it will be, but I trust and I believe--indeed, I am
     sure--that the Volunteers will become a permanent, an integral and
     characteristic part of the defensive forces of the Crown.

     "I have only one more word to say. Though our need is great, your
     opportunity is also great. The call which I am making is backed by
     the sympathy of your fellow-Irishmen in all parts of the Empire and
     of the world.... There is no question of compulsion or bribery.
     What we want, what we ask, what we believe you are ready and eager
     to give, is the freewill offering of a free people."

     This was a double pledge as to Redmond's two objects. It promised,
     first, that every inducement should be given to join a corps
     distinctively Irish and having national cohesion and character;
     secondly, that the Volunteers should obtain recognition as part of
     the defensive forces of the Crown. Over and above this was an
     assurance of enormous importance. There was to be no question of
     compulsion. Nothing was asked, nothing would be asked, but "the
     freewill offering of a free people."

Lord Meath followed, a representative figure of Unionist Ireland and a
most zealous promoter of recruiting. Then Redmond spoke, and as usual
dwelt on Ireland's contribution to the forces of the Regular Army so far
actually engaged, which was fully adequate in numbers. "As to quality,
let Sir John French answer for that, and let my friend and
fellow-countryman Admiral Beatty from Wexford speak from
Heligoland."--Nothing gave him more pleasure at all times than to dwell
on the personal achievement of Irishmen; his voice kindled when he named
such names.--He went on to give confident assurance, having in it the
note of defiant answer to the revolt which had been raised:

"I tell the Prime Minister he will get here plenty of recruits and of
the best material. We will maintain here in Ireland intact and inviolate
our Irish National Volunteers, and in my judgment that body of
Volunteers will prove to be an inexhaustible source of strength to the
new army corps and the new army that is being created."

Then, with disdainful reference to the "little handful of pro-Germans"
who had "raised their voices in Ireland," he declared that it would be
no less absurd to consider them representative than to take General
Beyers and not General Botha as expressing the sentiments of South

Yet, as we know, the danger in South Africa was serious, and South
Africa possessed freedom, not the promise of freedom. General Botha had
what Redmond was denied--power to act and act promptly. In Ireland the
menace was far less grave at this moment, but it was destined to become
overpowering because Redmond lacked the power to deal with the situation
in his own way. Already much had been lost. Between the declaration of
war and the passage of the Home Rule Bill more than six weeks had been
allowed to elapse in which nothing was done in response to Redmond's
proposal, except the purely negative decision that Territorials should
not be sent to garrison Ireland. This inevitably strengthened the hand
of those who never liked the offer he had made. From the first an accent
of dissent from the new policy was plainly distinguishable in what came
from the Committee of the Volunteers. Mr. Bulmer Hobson says of the
famous speech of August 4th:

     "This statement amounted to an unconditional offer of the services
     of the Irish Volunteers to the English Government, and was made
     without any consultation with the Volunteers themselves. The first
     that members of the Provisional Committee heard of their being
     offered to the Government was when they read it in the newspapers,
     and Mr. Redmond's nominees on the Committee were as much surprised
     as the older members. At the next meeting of the Standing
     Committee, held a couple of days later, the nominated members
     strove hard to induce us to endorse Redmond's offer. The utmost
     they could get, however, notwithstanding their clear party
     majority, was a statement of 'the complete readiness of the Irish
     Volunteers to take joint action with the Ulster Volunteer Force for
     the defence of Ireland.' Further than that the older members of the
     Committee declined to go. This statement in reality committed, and
     was meant to commit, the Volunteers to nothing, though it was
     interpreted by the Press as a complete endorsement of Mr. Redmond's

At the beginning of the war, there were two strong currents of desire in
the Volunteer body and its backers. One sought that the Volunteers
should retain complete freedom of action and in no way be brought under
the War Office. The other craved to see them trained and armed with the
least possible delay. Colonel Moore,[5] who was the chief of their
military staff at this time, says Mr. Hobson, saw no way of
accomplishing the latter object without the assistance of the military
authorities. Other men, who had come in since Redmond's speech,
impressed on the public that without legal recognition from the Crown no
Volunteer could act against the Germans in case of a landing without
exposing himself and others to the penalties which Germany was
inflicting in Belgium wherever the civilian population fired a shot. As
a result, negotiations were opened in August 1914 with the Irish
Command, and Colonel Moore, in concert with General Paget's staff, drew
up a scheme for training the Irish and Ulster Volunteers and for using
them when trained for a short term of garrison duty in Ireland. The
scheme was submitted to the Provisional Committee, who added conditions
designed to lead to rejection by the War Office; and in the upshot
Colonel Moore's proposals were refused by Lord Kitchener on one side and
by the Standing Committee of Volunteers on the other.

Redmond was of course aware of the failure of this scheme, and took up
the matter personally. He wrote to the Chief Secretary:


     _September 9, 1914. Private_.


     I am very anxious to put shortly before you on paper my views with
     reference to the Volunteer question, which we discussed with the
     Prime Minister to-day. I take so strong a view on the subject that
     I think I must ask you to show him this letter and to urge upon him
     the importance of getting the War Office to move. I know the
     influences that are at work in the War Office throwing cold water
     on the Volunteers and causing intense dissatisfaction in Ireland by
     unnecessary delays.

     What I suggest should be done is this: There are two separate
     questions: (1) Recruits; and (2) Volunteers for Home Defence.

     The first absolutely depends upon the way in which the second is
     treated. If the existing Volunteer organization is ignored and
     sneered at and made little of, recruiting in the country will not
     go ahead.

     On the other hand, if the Volunteers are properly treated, I
     believe that recruiting will go ahead.

     Now, my suggestion is this: that an announcement should be made
     immediately that the War Office are taking steps to assist in the
     equipment and arming and instructing of a certain number of the
     Irish Volunteers for Home Defence, and that this will be done
     without interfering in any way with the character or organization
     of the existing Volunteer Force.

     Carrying out this programme will really not stand in the way of the
     preparing of the new Army. All that is required is a few thousand
     rifles, and there are plenty of them in the military stores in
     Ireland at this moment which are not being used and will not be
     used, because they are too old, in the training of the recruits,
     but which would be quite suitable for making a beginning at any
     rate in the drilling of the Volunteers. It might be stated that
     they would be replaced by better weapons gradually, as soon as the
     rush was over.

     A few instructors should be placed at the disposal of the

     If this is done, intense satisfaction will be given all through the
     country, and the pride and sentiment of the Volunteers will be
     touched, and the appeal for recruits generally through the country,
     and even in the ranks of the Volunteers themselves, will, I am
     confident, be responded to.

     But, as I have said, if this course is not taken, inevitably
     recruiting will flag.

     I would earnestly beg of you to take this matter vigorously in
     hand, so that some satisfactory announcement may be made before I
     return to Ireland next week.

     Very truly yours,


Mr. Asquith's speech on September 24th was at least an indication that
the Prime Minister desired to act in the spirit of Redmond's
suggestions. The Chief Secretary was of the same disposition. But
neither of them was able to control the imperious colleague who now had
taken charge of the Army, and who in the most critical moment thwarted
effectually the designs of Liberal statesmanship in Ireland.

After Redmond's death an "Appreciation" published in _The Times_ (with
the signature "A.B.,") by Mr. Birrell, contained this passage:

     "He felt to the very end, bitterly and intensely, the stupidity of
     the War Office. Had he been allowed to deflect the routine
     indifference and suspicion of the War Office from its old ruts into
     the deep-cut channels of Irish feelings and sentiments, he might
     have carried his countrymen with him, but he jumped first and tried
     to make his bargain afterwards and failed accordingly. English
     people, as their wont is, gushed over him as an Irish patriot and
     flouted him as an Irish statesman. Had he and his brother been put
     in charge of the Irish Nationalist contingents, and an Ulster man,
     or men, been put in a corresponding position over the Irish
     Protestant contingents, all might have gone well. Lord Kitchener,
     who was under the delusion that he was an Irishman no less than
     Redmond, was the main, though not the only obstacle in the path of
     good sense and good feeling."

Yet it is, to say the least, not clear why Lord Kitchener should have
been allowed to be an obstacle. Redmond was not fortunate in his allies.
He had set an example of generous courage; it was not followed by
British statesmen.

From the very outset of his campaign in Ireland he had two hostilities
to meet. The first was that of the section which had always been opposed
to him--the Unionist party. Into this block he had already driven a
wedge. The _Irish Times_, its principal organ in the South and West, was
now backing him heartily, and, as has been seen, not a few leading
Unionists were doing their utmost to assist. But the real opposition,
that of Ulster, was in no way conciliated. On September 28th, "Covenant
Day," a great meeting was held at which the Ulstermen denounced what
they called the Government's treachery, and declared their implacable
determination never to submit to Home Rule. Mr. Bonar Law for the
British Unionists proclaimed that whereas heretofore his party were
willing to be bound by the verdict of a general election, they now
withdrew that condition, and without any reservation would support
Ulster in whatever course it chose to adopt.

In a purely partisan sense these speeches, and this attitude, did
Redmond no harm in his campaign with Nationalists. When a certain
section of Home Rulers were clamouring that he had been tricked and
betrayed by the Government, had given all and got nothing, it was a good
rejoinder to point to the fact that in Ulster's opinion the opportunity
had been used to gain an unfair victory for Home Rule. But Redmond from
the outbreak of the war had no concern with party or partisan arguments.
He wanted a real truce, an end of bitterness, in Ireland.

There was, moreover, a feature of the Ulster propaganda in these days
which disturbed him. General Richardson, a retired Indian officer, who
had chief command of the Ulster Volunteer Force, in appealing for
recruits, urged the Volunteers "to recollect the events of March last
and what the Navy and Army did for Ulster. They came to the help of
Ulster in the day of trouble, and would come again." He added his
assurance to the Volunteers that "when the war was over, and their ranks
were reinforced by some 12,000 men, thoroughly well trained and with
vast field experience, they would return to the attack and relegate Home
Rule to the devil."

It did not assist Redmond in gaining recruits for the Army that a
general officer should represent the services as trusty and proven
allies of gentlemen whose leading idea in life was to relegate Home Rule
to such a destination The average Nationalist civilian did not easily
discriminate between what was said by a retired officer out of
commission and what was said by officers in uniform. There was a
tendency to regard General Richardson as speaking of right for the
Army--for which Nationalist recruits were desired.

The Liberal Government could not help Redmond to allay Ulster or
Unionist hostility. One thing they could do; they could ensure that
whatever concession or privilege was extended to those who followed Sir
Edward Carson should be equally accorded to those who followed Redmond.
This one thing which they could have done they did not do. They allowed
the War Office to increase the arrogance of the Ulstermen and to weaken
Redmond's hand, giving Ulster special privileges, which inevitably
created jealousy and suspicion in Nationalist Ireland--as shall be shown
in detail.

But first it is necessary to indicate the other element of
hostility--far more serious than that of Ulster, because it challenged
Redmond's leadership. It was that of the extremist group, which rapidly
began to welcome German successes, not for any love to Germany but
because it could not conceive of any hope for Ireland except in the
weakening or Destruction of British power. These men, as been already
seen, had acquired an influence in the Volunteer Force out of all
proportion to their numbers, owing to the fact that the Irish party had
stood aloof from the movement in its early stages. Professor MacNeill
said later that but for the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic
Association there would have been no Irish Volunteers. The bulk of both
these bodies was always antagonistic to the parliamentary movement. When
their opposition openly declared itself, in consequence of the East
Wicklow speech, Redmond was not sorry to have a clear issue raised,
involving a formal breach. In a public letter to Colonel Moore he wrote
that he read "this extraordinary manifesto with feelings of great
relief," because communications from all parts of the country had forced
him to the conclusion that so long as the signatories to this document
remained members of the governing body, "no practical work could be done
to put the Volunteer organization on a real business basis."

By a real "business basis" he meant that the Volunteers should be made a
defensive force to act in concert with the troops engaged in the war.
That was the clear issue. You must be for the troops or against them. In
these days the official attitude of those who signed the dissenting
manifesto was that Ireland should be neutral. But at such a crisis, as
Mr. Dillon said in a telling phrase, a man who calls himself a neutral
"is either an enemy or a coward."

It became only too clear later that we had to do with a body of men who
were enemies and were certainly not cowards. Their number at this moment
was difficult to determine. What immediately revealed itself was that
the vast majority of the Volunteers, when choice was forced on them,
adhered to Redmond.

The case of my own constituency, Galway City, may be given as typical,
though rather of the towns than of the country. The country-side was
apathetic; the towns were both for and against Redmond's policy. In
Galway, Sinn Fein had a strong hold on the college of the National
University, but, on the other hand, the depot of the Connaught Rangers
was just outside the city at Renmore, and that famous corps had many
partisans; while in the fishing village of the Claddagh nearly every man
was a naval reservist.

I came to Galway on the day the Home Rule Bill was signed and attended a
couple of Volunteer drills, where I noted the activity of some young men
going round with a password: "For whom will you serve?" "For Ireland
only." After the publication of the dissenting manifesto a Committee was
called, and I obtained leave to be present. There was a sharp
discussion, and at the finish the vote was a tie, whether to support
Redmond or the dissentients. This did not at all please me or my
friends, so we determined to have a big general meeting to see on which
side public support really lay. Everybody was invited, and a great many
people could not get into the hall; this mattered the less because the
Sinn Feiners cut the electric wires leading to the building and plunged
us in darkness; luckily, it was a fine night, and we took the meeting
outside with great success. A couple of interruptions were drastically
dealt with, and complete peace then prevailed. Two of the four county
members were among the many speakers, and the last man to address the
meeting was a wounded Connaught Ranger back from the line. We cheered
for the Rangers, and then we cheered for the King; the local band was
present, but unable, though quite willing, to assist at this point.
"Isn't it a pity," the chief bandsman said to me, "there was three of us
knew the tune well, but they've all gone to the front, and not a one of
us ever heard it."

But as a net result the original Volunteer organization was killed. The
pick of the young and keen who were with us went off to the war; the
young and keen who stayed kept up an organization with very different
purposes. There was plenty of material in Galway and everywhere else to
build up a volunteer corps such as Redmond desired to see; but the
organizing spirits were in the opposite camp, and our friends did not
interest themselves in what seemed to be a kind of play-acting when such
serious business was afoot in the world. Had they been set to duties of
coast patrol, under officers who were available on the spot, and given
clear recognition as part of the defensive forces, their body would have
been alive and active; as it was, it atrophied and grew inert. Broadly
speaking, the same was true all over the country. Redmond was willing to
make bricks for the War Office to build with; they insisted that he
should make them without straw.

Facts directly connected with recruiting ultimately convinced the
British public that the War Office had spoilt a great opportunity in
Ireland. But the fundamental blunder, the deep-seated cause which
undermined the force of Redmond's appeal, was the refusal of recognition
to the National Volunteers and the failure to fulfil the promise held
out in Mr. Asquith's Dublin speech.


The other respects in which the War Office crippled the Nationalist
efforts after recruiting were matters of detail, not of principle. The
first and best help which Redmond might expect would have come from his
colleagues in the party; and all the recruiting authorities in Ireland
should have been directed to secure that help locally. No such step was
taken. No attempt was made to enlist Nationalists of position as patrons
of the recruiting campaign. In Catholic Nationalist districts it was the
rule rather than the exception to select gentlemen of the Protestant
Church, and of strong Unionist opinions, as recruiting officers. If
Catholic Nationalists had been selected as the official agents to assist
in raising the Ulster Division, there would have been an outcry, and
very rightly; it would have been contrary to common sense. But the War
Office, always even obsequiously ready to consider the Ulstermen's point
of view, completely lacked sympathy for that of the majority in Ireland.
In some cases the choice of a man locally unpopular on public grounds
afforded--to speak plainly--an excuse for those leading Nationalists
who were loath to depart from all the tradition of their lifetime. Some
of Redmond's colleagues held that they had been "extreme men" all their
lives, and they thought it too hard that they should be expected to ask
Irishmen to join the English Army. Yet these same men would have worked
enthusiastically for the Volunteers, and by sympathy for their comrades
who went out could have been led into a very different attitude.

Many of them, too, felt an honourable scruple about asking others to do
what they could not do themselves. As a parliamentary group we were
under a singular disability. In its early days the Irish party had been,
what Sinn Fein is now, a party of the young. But so strong was the tie
of gratitude that service in its ranks became an inheritance, and in
most cases a man once elected stayed on till he died or resigned. By
1914, of all parties in the House we had by far the largest proportion
of men over military age. I question whether three out of the seventy
could have passed the standard then exacted--for two or three of the
younger men were medically unfit. In these circumstances the War Office
would have been well advised to waive a regulation or two to facilitate
matters; but the rigour of the rules was maintained. One of my
colleagues, a man in the early forties, offered to join as a private; he
was refused. In my own case a similar refusal was based on Lord
Kitchener's personal opinion against that of the Under-secretary for
War, to whom, as a personal friend, I had written; it took nearly six
months to get the decision altered; and by that time the value of
example was much depreciated. The beginning was the chance to give a

Far graver was the intolerable delay in forming a corps which should
appeal definitely to Irish national and Nationalist sentiment. The First
Army included one Irish Division--the Tenth, destined to a splendid
history, under a popular commander, Sir Bryan Mahon; but it had no
specially Nationalist colour, so to say, and no connection with the
Irish Volunteers. Redmond wanted the counterpart of what had been
readily granted to Sir Edward Carson; and this was what Mr. Asquith had
outlined in his speech at Dublin. The Sixteenth Division already
existed; its commander was appointed on September 17th. But the first
step to give it the desired character was not taken without long delay,
and much heart-burning and confusion resulted.

Part of the confusion is attributable to the fact that Redmond, in his
desire to touch the historic memories connected with the famous corps
which attained its crowning glory at Fontenoy, always spoke of "a new
Irish Brigade." But at the Mansion House meeting Mr. Asquith spoke of
something more than a brigade--an army corps; and Redmond, following
him, instantly accepted the idea. "I used the word 'brigade' in my
ignorance--I meant an Irish army corps." There was always present to his
mind the hope that in some larger formation the Ulster Division might
find itself shoulder to shoulder with other Irish troops.

Yet intending recruits were puzzled, and Lord Meath, writing to Redmond
on October 10th that he had formed a Recruiting Committee in Dublin "for
the purpose of endeavouring to raise the Irish Army Corps for which you
spoke," reported that men came in asking to know where was the Irish
Brigade, and refused to join anything else. Lord Meath suggested that
Redmond should obtain from Lord Kitchener "an official declaration
sanctioning the enlistment of Irishmen in an Irish Brigade, or Irish
Army Corps, consisting exclusively of Irish officers and men." He wrote
again on the 14th, asking that the Prime Minister himself should be
approached, and on the 17th, in reply to some communication from
Redmond: "I hope you will insist on some official and unmistakable
statement that your request has been granted."

The tone of these letters, coming from no fire-eating Nationalist but
the staunchest of Unionist peers, is sufficient proof that Lord
Kitchener's action or inaction was resented by those who knew Ireland
and had the best interests of Ireland at heart. The _Irish Times_ wrote
in the same sense; and on October 19th a formal attack was launched in
the _Daily Chronicle_, which drew a sharp contrast with the treatment
accorded to Ulster. "Up to this hour," the writer said, "the Irish
Division asked for by Mr. Redmond has been refused sanction by the War
Office." This was an overstatement, but it was true that up to this time
such a belief naturally prevailed, because the War Office could not be
induced to make the desired announcement that sanction had been given.
Moreover, although the concession had been made, it was made in a very
different way from that used in dealing with Sir Edward Carson. Redmond
had no voice whatever in the organization. The choice of a divisional
commander was of infinite importance; and it fell upon
Lieutenant-General Sir Lawrence Parsons, K.C.B., an artillery officer of
great distinction, a man of wide general knowledge and culture and of
strongly marked individuality. Yet his individuality did not make him
easy for Redmond to work with. He was not simply a typical professional
soldier of the old Army; he was an idealist in his profession; and part
of the professional soldier's idealism is to resent and despise
political considerations. He recognized that Redmond had spoken and
acted with a statesman's vision; he failed to recognize that in many
matters political tactics are necessary to carry out a statesman's plan.
Also, it was very difficult for him or for any other professional
soldier to realize that recruiting, under such conditions as then
prevailed, was a politician's task, not a soldier's, even in Great
Britain; and that this was tenfold more true of Ireland.

The point requires to be emphasized, because it applies to a greater
personage--Lord Kitchener himself. I believe that Lord Kitchener
honestly desired the success of Redmond's mission. To my personal
knowledge he sent for one officer long known to him and took him from a
command in which he was comfortably placed and sent him, against his
will, to raise one of our battalions in a difficult area. The choice was
absolutely sound, and success was achieved by methods which did not
always follow strictly the letter of King's Regulations. But these
departures from rule were quite in accordance with the spirit of the old
Army, and Lord Kitchener was ready to stand over any of them. He would
do the best he could for our division on the old lines. He would, I am
certain, have said that he had done the best thing possible for it in
appointing to the command an Irishman who was a first-rate soldier and a
first-rate man to supervise the training of troops. So far as my
judgment is able to go, the credit for making the Sixteenth Division
what it was when we went to France belongs chiefly to the divisional
general under whom we trained.

General Parsons had the gift, which appears to be rare in soldiers, of
imparting ideas not merely about discipline but about the art of war;
and he had an enthusiasm which communicated itself. But these were the
qualities of the soldier in his own sphere, with which Redmond had no
contact. What Redmond knew was the writer of letters which now lie
before me. Running through them all is the tone of a soldier in
authority who accepts assistance from a friendly, influential,
well-meaning but imperfectly instructed civilian. There is no
recognition of the fact that Redmond was the accepted leader of a
Volunteer Force numbering over a hundred thousand men; no glimpse of any
perception that morally, and almost officially, Redmond was the
accredited head of the nation in whose name the division was being
raised--a nation to which the statutory right of self-government had
just been accorded.

The whole position was extraordinary. Legally and theoretically, Redmond
was a simple member of Parliament. Practically and morally, he was the
head of Ireland, exactly as Botha was of South Africa; and he was trying
to do without legal powers what Botha was doing by means of them. He was
far more than the Leader of the Opposition in Great Britain; for in
Ireland there really was no Government. Moral authority, which must
proceed from consent of the governed, the Irish Government had not
possessed for many a long day; but its legal status had been
unimpeachable. Now even that was gone; it was merely a stop-gap
contrivance, carrying on till the Act of Parliament should receive
fulfilment; and, as a bare matter of fact, it was powerless. No
operative decision of any moment was taken or could be taken at this
moment in Ireland. Everything was referred to the Cabinet, and that body
had no power to carry out a popular policy in Ireland.

Redmond had put forward a policy which they had accepted in principle.
It could only be carried out through him, and for success he must be
consulted in detail. Neither Lord Kitchener nor General Parsons in fact
recognized the status which this implied. They were prepared to listen
to suggestions from him; they were not prepared to accept guidance, as
they must have done had he been Prime Minister of the country.

It was impossible that Redmond's attitude in dealing with General
Parsons should not imply some sense of the position which he held;
equally impossible, from the temper and mentality of the man, that there
should not be in General Parsons's letters an underlying assertion that
in military matters the military must decide.

The correspondence between the two men opened by a letter from Sir
Lawrence Parsons, who had just established his headquarters at Mallow;
and its chief purpose was to direct Redmond's attention to the fact that
an Irish Division was a much finer and nobler unit than an Irish
Brigade. Two points in it, however, are of interest. "I have been
appointed by Lord Kitchener," said General Parsons, "because I am an
Irishman and understand my countrymen." Also, "I have had a considerable
share in selecting the officers of the Division, almost all Irishmen of
every political and religious creed."

What lay behind the first of these sentences was a profound conviction
that the writer thoroughly understood the necessities of the situation.
That was a disastrous mistake. To understand Ireland at such a moment
was difficult for anyone, impossible for a man who had not been in close
touch with the mental condition produced by all these extraordinary
happenings. The effect of the preparations for rebellion in Ulster, of
the Curragh incident, and of the collision between troops and people in
Dublin--the effect of the existence of a permitted Nationalist Volunteer
Force--the effect of Redmond's appeal: these were three completely novel
and conflicting currents in the stream of Irish life. Nobody could hope
to estimate these developments from a general view, however intelligent,
of Irish history and character, nor even from the most intimate and
sympathetic acquaintance with Irish troops of the old Army.

A proof of the unhappy lack of comprehension is furnished by the second
sentence I have quoted. General Parsons had been most rightly allowed by
the War Office to assist in selecting officers for the Division. But it
had never occurred to either party to consult Redmond on this critical
matter. Does anyone suppose that Sir Edward Carson had no voice in the
staffing of the Ulster Division? He had at all events received from the
first a clear promise that all professional soldiers who had been
officers in the Ulster Volunteers would be officers in the Division, and
that any who had been mobilized should be restored to their associates
in the Division.

General Parsons brought to this whole matter the fine principle that no
man's religious or political beliefs should stand in his way. He omitted
to consider the effect produced on the situation by the fact that the
Ulster Division had been actually allowed to exclude all Catholics, as
such, and to accept no officer who was not politically in sympathy with
Unionist Ulster. Redmond had not the least wish to exclude either
Protestants or Unionists; he wanted all Irishmen on an equality. But he
was bound by common sense and by a perception of realities to desire
that Protestants and Unionists should not appear to monopolize the

Not one of the three brigadiers appointed was generally known in
Ireland, personally or by his connections. One was an Englishman. Of the
officers originally appointed not one in five was a Catholic. No
Catholic commanded a battalion, scarcely half a dozen were field
officers. The only Catholic field officer appointed to the Division who
had been prominently connected with the Volunteers was Lord Fingall, and
he had severed his connection with that body.

All this was a terrible blunder. Whether it was wise or unwise to allow
the formation of a division having the peculiar character of the Ulster
Division may be argued--but certainly Redmond never took exception to
it, and no man who ever saw these Ulstermen in the field can regret its
inception. But once it was formed, its existence created a situation
which had to be recognized. An equivalent ought to have been given; but
no genuine attempt to do this was made.

In replying to Sir Lawrence Parsons, Redmond raised no controversy as to
what had been done; he was, indeed, not cognizant of the facts. But he
addressed himself from the first to making friendly suggestions.

Amongst other things he referred to an appeal which Sir Lawrence Parsons
had addressed to the women of Ireland, that they should provide
regimental colours for the battalions of the Division. This appeal was
promptly met, to Redmond's great delight--delight which was soon
changed into vexation, for the War Office stepped in, declared the
proceeding irregular, and prohibited the holding of colours by any
temporary battalion. General Parsons was obliged to publish an
explanation which must have been galling to himself, and which went far
to confirm the impression that the War Office, with all its
preoccupations, had time to keep an unfriendly eye on the Nationalist
recruiting effort.

Another trivial matter led to prolonged and irritating controversy.
Towards the end of October the Belfast and Dublin papers announced that
the Army Council had approved of "an Ulster badge similar to that worn
by Ulster Volunteers" as a cap badge for all troops in the Ulster
Division. It was pointed out that this would have the effect of
preserving the identity of the Ulster Division. Immediately, and not
unnaturally, the demand for a similar concession was put forward on
behalf of the Sixteenth Division. General Parsons was opposed, as any
old soldier would be, to a variation in the distinguishing marks of old
and famous regiments. He did not allow for the fact that we needed to
attract new soldiers in masses--men who as yet knew nothing of
regimental tradition. Still, he co-operated in forwarding Redmond's
desire, which was to meet a widely spread sentimental demand. Now that
the war is over, many soldiers argue that there is no reason in the
nature of things why Irish regiments should not have a clearly
distinguishing uniform, as the Scots or the Colonials do. In the last
months, when recruiting was a matter of urgency, Colonel Lynch induced
the War Office to consent to equipping an Irish Brigade with a
completely distinctive dress; unhappily the pattern was (after several
months) still under discussion when the war ended. I have little doubt
that from the point of view of recruiting even the badge, to say nothing
of a distinctive uniform, would have been an asset; I have no doubt at
all that the refusal of it was a set-back, because it was a refusal
given after a discussion and correspondence which lasted from November
till February. The most interesting point, however, is that Lord
Kitchener found time to occupy himself repeatedly with this question in
the period between the first and second battles of Ypres. If his
intervention had been judicious, it would have been as impressive as the
spectacle of a battery elephant stopping in action to pick up a pin with
his trunk.

On one point Redmond's representations, heartily backed by General
Parsons, were successful. Catholic chaplains, of whom no adequate number
were at first provided for Irish troops, were secured. It is pleasant to
note that Lord Roberts, who before the war had been vehement on the
Ulster side, used his personal influence to support this application. A
month or two later, when death came to the veteran, dramatically, among
the troops in France, Redmond told the House of Commons how on that
question Lord Roberts had met him in the friendliest way and endeavoured
to arrange for attending the great meeting at the Dublin Mansion House.

On another matter Redmond was able to assist the equipment of the
Division. He suggested, and General Parsons fully admitted the value of,
regimental bands; but the War Office made no grants for them. Redmond
drew upon a large sum which had been placed at his disposal by a private
individual to further his campaign, and all our battalions were indebted
to him for their fife and drum equipment. There was, in short, no detail
in which he was not willing and anxious to assist the Division and its
commander. But the friction between the two men was unmistakable.

The most serious cause of it was the line taken by General Parsons about
the appointment of officers. He laid down a rule, which I think would
have had excellent results if enforced throughout the whole of the new
armies, that no man should be recommended for a commission without
previous military experience, and that candidates lacking that
experience must put in a period of service in the ranks. He set apart a
special company in one battalion, the 7th Leinsters, to which such men
should be sent, so that while drilling and exercising with the rest of
the battalion, and enjoying no special privilege, they ate and slept and
lived together in their own barrack rooms.

Yet the obstacle thus set up deterred a good many of the less zealous,
who could not understand why that should be made a condition in the
Irish Division which was not so in the Ulster Division--nor, indeed, so
far as I know, anywhere else at that time. Men who had been officers of
Ulster Volunteers got their commissions as a matter of course; the
officer of National Volunteers had to prove his competence in the cadet
company. General Parsons fully admitted this difference of treatment,
and justified it by saying to Redmond that in consequence of it he would
be very sorry to change officers with the Ulster Division. One cannot
refuse to admire such a spirit; but he ought to have asked himself
whether it was fair to impose a handicap on Redmond's efforts.
Everything turned on getting representative young men from the
Volunteers, and from the correspondence it appears that few were coming
from the South and West. From the North they poured in. In our 47th
Brigade, the 6th Royal Irish Regiment was mainly composed of Derry
Nationalists; the 7th Leinsters and the 6th Connaught Rangers were
almost to a man followers of Mr. Devlin from Belfast.

Next after Redmond, Mr. Devlin was the man to whom our Division owed
most. But the first and the main impetus came from Redmond himself. He
spoke on October 4th at Wexford, the capital of his native county; on
the 11th at Waterford, his own constituency; on the 18th at Kilkenny,
the constituency of his close friend Pat O'Brien. A week later he was at
Belfast and in the glens of Antrim, among the Nationalists of Ulster.
Then Parliament kept him for a few weeks; in December he was back, and
spoke at Tuam and in Limerick. Everywhere the Volunteers turned out in
great numbers to receive him; and to them his appeal was primarily

At Wexford he laid stress on Mr. Asquith's pledge that the Volunteers
should remain as a recognized permanent force for the defence of the
country, and this led him to raise frankly the question of control. Who
should have authority over Volunteers in a State? Surely the elected and
responsible government. But pending Home Rule, "the policy and control
of the Volunteers must rest with the elected representatives of the

More generally, he reminded them that he had always spoken of the
possibility of some great political convulsion that might destroy their
plans. "Nothing but an earthquake can now prevent Home Rule," he had
said. "The outbreak of this overwhelming war might easily have
overwhelmed Home Rule. But we have survived it."

And he went on to argue that the delay might be a blessing in disguise.
Civil war between Irishmen had always seemed to him an impossibility.
That impossibility was now universally admitted. In a passage of unusual
heat he denounced the "so-called statesmen" who came over unasked to our
country to inflame feelings--as Mr. Bonar Law had done; and he appealed
to all sections "to enable us to utilize the interval before a Home Rule
Parliament assembles to unite all Irishmen under a Home Rule

At Waterford he was largely occupied with repelling the charge that he
and his colleagues had made a bargain with the Government to ship Irish
Volunteers overseas to fight whether they would or no. This was the line
on which opposition was developing, and it was assisted by articles in
the English Press, which laid it down that unless the Irish furnished a
sufficiency of recruits, Home Rule should be repealed.

An extension of this argument, that Redmond was buying Home Rule with
the blood of young Irishmen, raised the question whether Home Rule was
worth the price. While the Bill was not yet law, it was a flag, a
symbol. Once it became an Act, men's attitude changed; they turned to
criticizing what they had got; and one powerful newspaper, bitterly
hostile to the Parliamentary party, expended much ingenuity in
exaggerating the limitations of what had been gained. While one set of
critics endeavoured to show how miserable was the price obtained,
another dwelt on the unrighteousness of making such a bargain without
Ireland's consent. In Redmond's speech at Kilkenny there was a note of
resentment. He refused at any great crisis to consider "what might
please the gallery or the crowd, or might spare him the insults of a
handful of cornerboys."

But the kernel of all his thought was put into one sentence by him at
Belfast. "The proper place to guard Ireland is on the battlefields of
France." It was from Belfast after this meeting that the first striking
demonstration of response came--organized and inspired by Mr. Devlin. On
November 20th nearly a full battalion of recruits, many National
Volunteers, entrained for Fermoy; a week later they were followed by
another great detachment. The example spread; and when Redmond spoke at
Limerick on December 20th, the _Irish Times_ in a friendly leading
article admitted that "the National Volunteers were now coming forward
in large numbers and the Irish Brigade was going to be a credit to the
country." This was a very different note from that which had come from
Unionist quarters at earlier stages.


So far as recruiting went, Redmond had won. He was sure of making good
to England. But in what concerned making good to Ireland, he had no
progress to report. He stated that already nearly 16,500 men from the
Volunteers had joined the Army, and he could not understand why
Government was so chary of giving assistance to train and equip this
force. There was no doubt as to the mass of men available. Figures
supplied by the police to the Chief Secretary estimated that between
September 24th, when the split took place, and October 31st, out of
170,000 Volunteers, only a trifle over 12,000 adhered to Professor

But in Dublin the opponents were nearly 2,000 out of 6,700; and two
strong battalions went almost solid against Redmond. These battalions,
along with the Citizens' Army, were destined to alter the course of
Irish history. It was specially true of them, but true generally of all
the minority who left Redmond, that they were kept together by a
resolute and determined group who had a clear purpose.

The "Irish Volunteers," as the dissentients called themselves, were made
to feel that they were a minority, and an unpopular minority in more
than one instance. In Galway, when they turned out to parade the
streets, they were driven off with casualties--retaliation for their
interference with our meeting in September. In Dundalk there was a
somewhat similar occurrence. But they got more than their own back one
day in November by a bold _coup_--forerunner of many. Ninety rifles
belonging to the National Volunteers were being moved in a cart from one
place to another. Half a dozen men armed with revolvers held up the cart
and its driver and carried off the rifles. At their Convention, held in
the end of October, Professor MacNeill said: "They would go on with the
work of organizing, training and equipping a Volunteer force for the
service of Ireland in Ireland, and such a force might yet be the means
of saving Home Rule from disaster, and of compelling the Home Rule
Government to keep faith with Ireland without the exaction of a price in

That forecast has not as yet realized itself; and many of us think that
the chief achievement of this section has been to turn to waste a heavy
price that was paid in blood by other men for the sake of Ireland. But
unquestionably they were, though the minority, far more of a living
reality than the mass of the original force--and for a simple reason.
Their purpose, whether good or bad, was within their own control. The
purpose of the majority was to carry out Redmond's policy--which was to
make the Volunteers part of an Irish army of which the striking force
was designed to defend Ireland on the battlefields of Flanders. But to
carry out that policy the National Volunteers must be accepted as a
purely local Irish military organization for home defence--controlled,
in the absence of a popularly elected Irish Government, by the elected
Irish representatives. The War Office thwarted that policy. Lord
Kitchener would not accept it. He continued to be of the opinion that by
equipping Redmond's followers he would be arming enemies.

It is worth noting that one of the ablest and most detached students of
Irish affairs was wholly on Redmond's side. Lord Dunraven, appealing on
behalf of "the new Irish Brigade," pointed out that both sides of
Redmond's policy must be accepted. "No scheme which fails to take some
account of the National Volunteer Force can do justice to what Ireland
can give," he wrote. But was there everywhere a desire to do justice to
what Ireland could give--and was willing to give? Redmond was warned in
those days by an influential correspondent in England that a deliberate
policy was being pursued by the opponents of Home Rule, who undoubtedly
had strong backing in the War Office. The National Volunteers were to
become the objects of derision and contempt, which would extend to
himself. By keeping the Volunteers out of active participation in war
service, it could be proved that Redmond did not speak for Ireland or
represent Ireland; that the Irish were raising unreal objections so as
to keep an excuse for avoiding danger. It was urged on him that he
should press for the extension of the Territorial Act to Ireland and
endeavour to bring his men in on this footing.

There were two difficulties in the way of this scheme which nevertheless
attracted him strongly. The first was that enlistment in the
Territorials for home service had been stopped--so that the proposal had
little advantage, if any, over enlistment in the Irish brigades. The
second was due to the Volunteers themselves, many of whom, though
willing to serve in the war, were unwilling to take the oath of

There were limits to the length to which Redmond felt himself able to
go, and he never dealt with this objection by argument. The example
which he set was plain to all. He joined in singing "God save the King,"
in drinking the King's health, and at Aughavanagh now he flew the Union
Jack beside the Green flag. He was willing to take part in any
demonstration which implied that Nationalist Ireland under its new legal
status accepted its lot in the British Empire fully and without reserve.
It was superfluous for him to argue that Nationalists might consistently
take the oath of allegiance when Nationalists were pledging their lives
in the King's service beside every other kind of citizen in the British
Empire. Over and above his own example was the example of his brother
and his son. On November 23rd Willie Redmond addressed a great meeting
in Cork and told them, "I won't say to you go, but come with me." He was
then fifty-three--and for most men it would have been "too late a
week." But no man was ever more instinctively a soldier, and to
soldiering he had gone by instinct as a boy. He was an officer in the
Wexford Militia for a year or two, till politics drove him out of that
service and drew him into another. Now he went to the war gravely but
joyfully. I think those days did not bring into relief any more
picturesque or sympathetic figure.

One thing ought to be said. Mr. Devlin wished to join also, but Redmond
held that he could not be spared from Ireland, where his influence was
enormous; and he was placed in a somewhat unfair position, even though
everyone who knew him knew that his chief attribute was personal
courage. But he was indispensable for the work which had to be done, of
helping at this strange crisis to keep Ireland peaceful and united at a
time when Government was at its lowest ebb of authority.

Trouble threatened. On October 11th, the anniversary of Parnell's death,
three bodies of Volunteers turned out in Dublin--the National
Volunteers, the Irish Volunteers, and the Citizen Army. A collision
occurred which might easily have become serious. This passed off, but
early in December the Government suppressed three or four of the openly
anti-British papers, which were, of course, still more virulent against
Redmond. They reappeared under other names. But a meeting of protest
against the suppression was held outside Liberty Hall. Mr. Larkin had,
by this time, gone to America. His chief colleague, Mr. James Connolly,
who was the brain of the Irish Labour Movement, presided, and at the
close declared that the meeting had been held under the protection of an
armed company of the Citizen Army posted in the windows and on the roof
of Liberty Hall. Had the police or military attempted to disperse the
meeting, he said, "those rifles would not have been silent."

Ulster was not the only place where armed men thought themselves
entitled to resist coercion.

Dublin was the more dangerous because the war, which created so much
employment in Great Britain, brought no new trade to Ireland, outside of
Belfast. Agriculture prospered, but the towns knew only a rise of
prices. Redmond began with high hopes, which Mr. Lloyd George fostered,
of rapidly-developing munition works, which would at the close of
hostilities leave the foundation for industrial communities. Here again,
however, Redmond's representations were in vain. When the heavy extra
tax on beer and spirits was levied by the first supplementary Budget, he
opposed it angrily:

     "You are doing some shipbuilding at Belfast, you are making a few
     explosives at Arklow, you are buying some woollen goods from some
     of the smaller manufacturers, but apart from that, the bulk of the
     hundreds of millions of borrowed money which you are spending on
     the war is being spent in England and in increasing the income of
     your country."

This tax on alcohol would curtail the most important urban industry of
the South and West of Ireland, and he feared that it was the old story
of crushing Ireland's trade under the wheel of British interests.

Here again Redmond could only plead with the Irish Government that they,
in their turn, should plead with the Imperial authorities. He should
have been able to act in his own right as the head of an Irish Ministry,
knowing the importance of providing employment at such a time. He saw
the need and how to meet it; but he had none of the resources of power.
As compared with the other men who occupied, in the public eye, a rank
equivalent to his--with General Botha, for instance--he was like a
commander of those Russian armies which had to take the field against
Germans with sticks and pikes.

Yet power he had--power over the heart and mind of Ireland--the power
which was given him by the response to his appeal. From January onwards
the Sixteenth Division grew steadily and strongly. Recruiting began to
get on a better basis. The appointment of Sir Hedley Le Bas in charge of
this propaganda brought about a healthy change in methods. Appeals were
used devised for Ireland, and not, as heretofore, simple replicas of the
English article. Heart-breaking instances of stupidity were still of
daily occurrence, but imagination and insight began to have some play;
and there was no longer the complete separation which had existed
between the effort of Redmond and his colleagues and the effort of men
like Lord Meath. In January Willie Redmond was posted to his battalion,
the 6th Royal Irish, at Fermoy, where the 47th Brigade had its
headquarters. In his case, as in my own, there had been much avoidable
and most undesirable delay; but his presence with the Division was worth
an immense deal. There was delay also about his younger namesake, John
Redmond's son--who was for a long time refused a commission in the
Division in whose formation his father had played so great a part.

Naturally, trained speakers who had joined the Division were utilized
for recruiting purposes. Willie Redmond did comparatively little of this
work. It is no light job to take over command of a company, if you mean
really to command it; and with him, from the moment he joined everything
came second to his military duty. But private soldiers have a less
exacting time, and there was scarcely one week of my three months in the
7th Leinsters in which I did not spend the Saturday and Sunday on this
business--generally in company with the most brilliant speaker, taking
all in all, that I have ever heard. Kettle, then a lieutenant in the
battalion, was wit, essayist, poet and orator: whether he was most a wit
or most an orator might be argued for a night without conclusion; but as
talker or as speaker he had few equals. He was the son of a veteran
Nationalist, who had taken a lead in Parnell's day; but the farmer's son
had become the most characteristic product of Ireland's capital, which,
rich or poor, squalid or splendid, is a metropolis--a centre of many
interests, a forcing-house of many ideas. Nothing in Ireland is less
English than Dublin, and its tone differs from that of England in having
active sympathy with the continental mind.

Kettle was always to some extent in revolt against the theories of the
Gaelic League, which he thought tended to make Ireland insular morally
as well as materially. He was a good European because he was a good
Irishman; and because he was both, he was, though largely educated in
Germany, a fierce partisan of France.

More than all this, he had seen with his own eyes the actual martyrdom
of Belgium. Sent out by Redmond to purchase rifles, he was in the
country when Antwerp was occupied, and he wrote with passion of what he
heard, of what he saw. Louvain to him was more than a mere name. All the
Catholic in him, and all the Irish Catholic, for Ireland's association
with Louvain was long and intimate, rose up in fury; he went through
Ireland carrying the fiery cross.

Everywhere we went we had friendly and even enthusiastic audiences; the
only place where I met any suggestion of hostility was at Killarney, and
there it took the form of avoiding our meeting. We were cheered and
encouraged--but we did not get many recruits, so to say, on the nail.
Yet they came, generally dribbling in afterwards. From one small meeting
in county Waterford we came away badly disappointed, having thought an
effect was made, yet we did not take a single man. I heard later that
within the next fortnight thirty men from that parish had come in by
ones and twos to sign on--but at a town several miles away. Local
pressure, personal not political, was against us, especially that of the
mothers; and there was a shyness about taking this plunge into the

One exception stands out, in my mind, unlike the general run of these
gatherings. It was the first field day of our brigade, when, dressed in
the khaki that had at last been served out, we mustered on the
race-course at Fermoy, five thousand strong; and I went from the review
to the train for Waterford. There was no mistaking the temper of
Redmond's constituency; we got men there in hundreds, including a score
or so of cadets--young men of education--for our special company of the
Leinsters, which was filling up fast.

At that meeting we had one force with us which was not often active on
our side. The Bishop of Waterford was strong for the war; the leading
parish priest of the town took the chair and spoke straight and plain,
while one of the Regulars, a Carmelite friar, made a speech which was
among the most eloquent that I have ever listened to.

At the beginning of April I was gazetted to a lieutenancy in the 6th
Connaught Rangers, and began to know the Division from another aspect.
Broadly speaking, the men with whom I had been sharing a hut were
Nationalist by opinion and by tradition--though by no means all
Catholics. There were Unionists, but they were few. In the society which
I now joined--a joint mess of the Royal Irish and the Rangers--matters
were different.

The personnel of the 6th Royal Irish was strongly characteristic of the
old Army. The commanding officer, Curzon, was of Irish descent, but of
little Irish association; his second in command was an Irish Protestant
gentleman of a pleasant ordinary type. The senior company commander was
an Englishman. As an offset, Willie Redmond had one company, and another
was commanded by an ex-guardsman, who had been a chief personage in the
Derry Volunteers, and brought so many of them with him that General
Parsons gave him a captaincy straight off.

In my own battalion, no Catholic had then the rank of captain. The
colonel and the adjutant belonged to well-known families in the North
of Ireland, deeply involved in Covenanting politics. My own company
commander was a very gallant little Dublin barrister, who, before the
war, had exerted on English platforms against Home Rule the gift of racy
eloquence which he now devoted to recruiting. Not half a dozen of the
subalterns would have described themselves as Nationalists.

It is easy to see how all this could be represented, and was
represented, to the outside public of Ireland. From the inside, one
thing was clear. In our battalion every man desired the success of the
Division, and more particularly of the Connaught Rangers, absolutely
with a whole heart. Anything said or done that could have offended the
men--practically all Catholic and Nationalist--would have drawn the most
condign chastisement from our commanding officer. I never heard of any
man or officer in the battalion who would have desired to change its
colonel; we were fortunate, and we knew it. There was very little
political discussion, and what there was turned chiefly on the question
how far Redmond might be held to speak for Ireland. So far as Redmond
himself was concerned, I think there were few, if any, who did not count
it an honour to meet him--and some who had never been won to him before
were won to him for his brother's sake.

Looking back on it all, it is clear to me that a change wrought itself
in that society. I do not know one survivor of those men who does not
desire that accomplishment should be given to the desire of those whom
they led. In not a few cases one might put the change higher; some
opinions as to what was good for Ireland were profoundly affected.

Yet this also is true. The atmosphere of the mess was one in which
Willie Redmond found himself shy and a stranger. He had lived all his
life in an intimate circle of Nationalist belief. Knowing the other side
in the House of Commons, where many of his oldest friends and the men
he liked best (Colonel Lockwood comes most readily to my mind) were
political opponents, he had nevertheless always lived with people in
agreement with his views; and you could not better describe the
atmosphere of our mess than by saying that it was a society in which
every one liked and respected Willie Redmond, but one in which he never
really was himself. He was only himself with the men.

In short, so far as the officers were concerned, our Division was not a
counterpart to the Ulster Division; it was not Irish in the sense that
the other was Ulster. No attempt was made to make it so, and General
Parsons would have quite definitely rejected any such ideal--though less
fiercely than he would have repudiated the idea of handicapping a man
for his opinions or his creed. Yet many persons without design, and some
with a purpose, spread broadcast the belief that Catholics and
Nationalists as such were relegated to a position of inferiority in the
command of this Catholic and Nationalist Division.

The worst of our difficulties lay in the long inherited suspicions of
the Irish mind. At a recruiting meeting one would argue in appealing to
Nationalists that the Home Rule Act was a covenant on which we were in
honour bound to act, and that every man who risked his life on the faith
of that covenant set a seal upon it which would never be disregarded.
The listeners would applaud, but after the meeting one and another would
come up privately and say: "Are you sure now they aren't fooling us
again?" The Sinn Féin propaganda, always shrewdly conducted, did not
fail to emphasize the pronouncement of the Tory Press that there should
be no Home Rule because Ireland had failed to come forward; or to point
the moral of Mr. Bonar Law's excursion to Belfast, with its violent
asseveration that Ulster should be backed without limit in opposition to
control by an Irish Parliament. Ireland, always suspect, has learnt to
be profoundly suspicious; and suspicion is the form of prophecy which
has most tendency to fulfil itself.

In one part of the Irish race, however, this cold paralysis of distrust
had no operation. The Irish in Great Britain, always outdoing all others
in the keenness of their Nationalism, were nearer the main current of
the war, and were more in touch with the truth about English feeling.
They had a double impulse, as Redmond had; they saw how to serve their
own cause in serving Europe's freedom; and their response was
magnificent. Mr. T.P. O'Connor probably raised more recruits by his
personal appeal than any other man in England.

A great part of Redmond's correspondence in these months came from
Irishmen in England who were joining as Irishmen, and who had great
difficulty in making their way to our Division. Many thousands had
already enlisted elsewhere; hundreds, at least, tried to join the
Sixteenth Division, and failed to get there. But there was one instance
to which attention should be directed. In Newcastle-on-Tyne a movement
was set on foot to raise Tyneside battalions, including one of Irish.
Mr. O'Connor went down, and the upshot was that four Irish battalions
were raised. They were in existence by January 1, 1915, when General
Parsons was already writing that unless Irishmen could be found to fill
up the Division, we must submit to the disgrace of having it made up by
English recruits. The obvious answer was to annex the Tyneside Irish
Brigade. Redmond, moreover, held that to bring over this brigade to
train in Ireland, and to incorporate it bodily in the Sixteenth
Division, would please the Tyneside men--for a tremendous welcome would
have greeted them in their own country--and would have an excellent
effect on Irish opinion generally. But the proposal was rigorously
opposed by the War Office. It was argued that these men had enlisted
technically as Northumberland Fusiliers and Northumberland Fusiliers
they must remain. In reality, as far as one can judge, the War Office
were penny wise and pound foolish. "We have got these men," they said,
"and we have a promise from Redmond to fill a Division. Why relieve him
of one-third of his task?"

Redmond knew, and we all knew, that the essential was to get our
Division complete and into the field at the earliest possible moment. He
had confidence that once they got to work they would make a name for
themselves, which would be the best attraction for recruits. Let it be
remembered that at this moment popular expectation put the end of the
war about July. When I joined the Rangers in April 1915, our mess was
full of young officers threatening to throw up their commissions and
enlist in some battalion which would give them the chance of seeing a
fight. We could not expect to move to France before August, and by that
time all that we could hope would be to form part of the army of
occupation. Rumour was rife, too, that the Division would be broken up
and utilized for draft-finding, that it would never see France as a
unit. All this talk came back to Redmond and increased his anxiety to
make the work complete.

He held, and I think rightly, that the whole machinery of recruiting
worked against us; that every officer had instructions to send no man to
the Sixteenth Division who could be got into a draft-finding reserve
battalion. Knowing what we know, I cannot blame them; but the game was
not fairly played. A man would come in and say he wanted to join the
Irish Brigade. "Which regiment?" Often he might not realize that a
brigade was made up of regiments, but if he knew and answered, for
instance, "The Dublins," he was more likely than not to be shipped off
to the Curragh, where the reserve of the regular battalions was kept,
instead of to Buttevant, where our Dublins were in training.

Still, with all our troubles, things were marching ahead in that April
of 1915; recruits were coming in to the tune of 1,500 a week. Then came
a political crisis and the formation of a Coalition Government. Redmond
was asked to take a post in it. The letter in which the invitation was
conveyed made it clear that the post could not be an Irish office.

Redmond refused. He said to me afterwards that under no conditions did
he think he could have accepted. But he added, "If I had been Asquith
and had wished to make it as difficult as possible to refuse, I should
have offered a seat in the Cabinet without portfolio and without

He was well aware how many and how unscrupulous were his enemies in
Ireland; he was not prepared to give them the opportunity of saying that
he had got his price for the blood of young Irishmen and the betrayal of
his principles. Even apart from the question of salary, the tradition
against acceptance of office under Government till Ireland's claim was
satisfied would have been very hard to break. Yet Redmond saw fully how
disastrous would be the effect on Irish opinion if he were not in the
Government and Sir Edward Carson was.

Knowing Ireland as he did, he knew that the acceptance of Sir Edward
Carson as a colleague would be taken in Ireland to imply that the
Government had abandoned its support of Home Rule. Ireland would assume
that the Ulster leader would not come in except on his own terms.
Redmond made the strongest representations that he could to the Prime
Minister to exclude both Irish parties to the unresolved dispute. But
Sir Edward Carson in those days was making himself very disagreeable in
the House of Commons and Mr. Asquith, as usual, followed the line of
least resistance.

The effect of the Coalition as formed was seen when recruiting in
Ireland dropped from 6,000 in April-May to 3,000 in May-June. It stayed
at the lower figure for several months, till it was raised again by
efforts for which Redmond was chiefly responsible. I do not know
whether Sir Edward Carson's presence in the Attorney-General's office,
or his absence from the Opposition benches in debates, was worth ten
thousand men; but that is a small measure of what was lost in Ireland by
his inclusion.


The formation of the Coalition Government marks the first stage in the
history of Redmond's defeat and the victory of Sir Edward Carson and
Sinn Féin.

Of what he felt upon this matter, Redmond at the time said not a word in
public. Six months later, on November 2, 1915, when a debate on the
naval and military situation was opened, he broke silence--and his first
words were an explanation of his silence. He had not intervened, he
said, in any debate on the war since its inception. "We thought a loyal
and as far as possible silent support to the Government of the day was
the best service we could render." This silence had been maintained
"even after the formation of the Coalition"--when the Irish view had
been roughly set aside, and when the personal tie to the Liberal
Government with which he had been so long allied had been profoundly
modified. He claimed the credit of this loyalty not merely for himself
but for the whole of his country. "Since the war commenced the voice of
party controversy has disappeared in Ireland."

This was pushing generosity almost to a stretch of imagination, for the
voice of party controversy had not been absent from the Belfast Press,
nor had it spared him. But he was speaking then, and he desired that the
House should feel that he spoke, as Ireland's spokesman; he claimed
credit for North and South alike in the absence of all labour troubles
in war supply. "The spectacle of industrial unrest in Great Britain, the
determined and unceasing attacks in certain sections of the Press upon
individual members of the Government and in a special way upon the Prime
Minister, have aroused the greatest concern and the deepest indignation
in Ireland," he said. "Mr. Asquith stands to-day, as before the war,
high in the confidence of the Irish people." The "persistent pessimism"
had effected nothing except to help in some measure "that little fringe
which exists in Ireland as in England, of men who would if they could
interfere with the success of recruiting."

No doubt there was an element of policy, of a fencer's skill, in all
this. Sir Edward Carson had not maintained silence and certainly had not
spared the Prime Minister. But in essence Redmond was relying on the
plain truth. He had pledged support and he gave it to the utmost of his
power, even at his peril. Mr. Birrell in the posthumous "Appreciation"
which has been already quoted has this passage:

"Although it was not always easy to do business with him, being very
justly suspicious of English politicians, he could be trusted more
implicitly than almost every other politician I have ever come in
contact with. He was slow to pass his word, but when he had done so, you
knew he would keep it to the very letter, and what was almost as
important, his silence and discretion could be relied upon with
certainty. He was constitutionally incapable of giving anybody away who
had trusted him."

Nothing but considerations of loyalty had kept him publicly silent in
the months of this year when so much was done, and so much left undone,
against his desire and his judgment. In June, the Sixteenth Division was
within 1,000 of completion. The shortage existed in one brigade--the
49th--which had been formed of battalions having their recruiting areas
in Ulster--two of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, one of the Inniskillings
and one of the Royal Irish Rifles. The conception had undoubtedly been
to provide for the Nationalists of Ulster. But, as it proved, these men
vastly preferred to enlist in units which were not associated with the
avowedly Unionist Division, all of whose battalions belonged to one or
other of these three regiments; and the 49th Brigade was not nearly up
to strength. The Tenth Division was now on the point of readiness for
the field; but when the final weeding out of unfit or half trained men
was completed its ranks were 1,200 short. The War Office decided to
draw, not on both the other Irish Divisions, but on the Sixteenth only,
and only upon the deficient brigade. When the offer of immediate service
was made, every man in its four battalions volunteered, and the Tenth
Division was completed; but the Sixteenth was thrown back, and the
discouraging rumour that it was to be only used as a reserve gained a
great impetus. Redmond was very angry. He wrote to Mr. Tennant demanding
that at least the Division's deficiency should at once be made up, by
giving to us the full product of one or two weeks' recruiting in
Ireland. Nothing of the kind was done to meet his request.

It was, however, some compensation to think that at least one of our
purely Irish formations was going to take the field; and we hoped that
its fortunes might remedy a complaint which began to be loudly
made--that credit was withheld from the achievements of Irish troops.

The main source of this grievance was the publication of Admiral de
Robeck's despatch concerning the first landing at Gallipoli. In the
original document, a schedule was given showing the detail of troops
told off to each of the separate landings; and the narrative, in which a
sailor spoke with frank enthusiasm of the desperate valour shown by
soldiers, was written with constant reference to the detail given. As
some evil chance willed, the narrative mentioned by name several of the
regiments engaged; but when it came to describe the forlorn hope at "V"
Beach, it dealt fully with the special difficulties, and said in brief
but emphatic phrase, "Here the troops wrought miracles." The War Office,
in editing the despatch for publication, suppressed the schedule, as
likely to give information to the enemy, so that in this case it did not
appear to whom the praise applied.

Certain things are unbelievable. No officer and no man that ever lived
could from a partisan feeling against Ireland have sought to rob
regiments who had done and suffered such things as the Dublins and
Munsters did and suffered at "V" Beach of whatever credit could be given
to them. Yet in such times as we were living in, the unbelievable is
readily believed, and men saw malice in the suppression of what could
not long be secret: Ireland had too many dead that day. What made the
suggestion more incredible only gave a poignancy to resentment, for
Admiral de Robeck was an Irishman, with his home some few miles from the
regimental depot of the Dublins.

Two things, however, should be said. If only in fairness to Admiral de
Robeck, the explanation should instantly have been given: it was never
given in full until he came before the Dardanelles Commission, many
months later, and it has not been officially published to this hour. And
further, whoever edited the despatch was presumably a soldier, and knew
how jealous soldiers are, and how jealous their friends are for them, of
every word that goes to the recognition of such service. The effect of
omitting the schedule ought to have been foreseen.

Even before the middle of August, when angry letters over this despatch
were appearing in the Irish Press, other news began to come to Ireland,
ill calculated to help recruiting. The Tenth Division had come into
action, but under the unluckiest conditions. When the great attempt was
made to cut across the peninsula by a renewed push from Anzac and by a
new landing at Suvla Bay, the Irish were among the reinforcements told
off for that surprise. But from lack of room on the island bases it was
considered impossible to keep them together as a division, and one
brigade, the 29th, lay so far off that it could not be brought into the
concerted movement on Suvla. It was therefore sent separately to Anzac,
and joined in with the Australians. Broken up by regiments and not
operating as a unit, it furnished useful support; but no credit for what
the men did could go to Ireland. The other two brigades, the 30th and
31st, were left under the command of their divisional general and were
to attack on the left of the bay. But owing to some defect in
exploration of the coast-line, the movement was not so carried out; six
battalions out of the eight were landed on the south of the bay and were
attached to the right-hand force. Thus, in the actual operations Sir
Bryan Mahon had under his command only two battalions of his own men.
The remaining six operated under the command of the divisional general
of the Eleventh Division, who delegated the conduct of the actual attack
to one of his brigadiers. It is sufficient to say that immediately after
the action both these officers were relieved of their commands. The same
fate befell the corps commander under whose directions this wing of the
concerted movement was placed.

In face of these facts it would be absurd to deny that the troops were
badly handled. They suffered terribly from thirst, and the suffering was
in large measure preventible. The attack was a failure. All the success
achieved was the capture of Chocolate Hill, and the Irish claim that
success. It is disputed by other regiments. This much is certain: the
Irish were part of the troops who carried the hill, and at nightfall,
when the rest were withdrawn to the beach, the Irish were left holding

But they had paid dearly, and in the days which followed many more were
sacrificed in the hopeless effort to retrieve what had been lost when
the surprise attack failed. The loss fell specially on a picked
battalion, the 7th Dublins, which had grown up about a footballers'
company, the very flower of young Irish manhood. Grief and indignation
were universal when tales of what had happened began to come through.

But of all this Redmond said no word in public. He threatened disclosure
in debate at one period; yet on a strong representation from Mr.
Tennant--in whose friendliness, as in the Prime Minister's, he had
confidence--he refrained. To this abstention he added the most practical
proof of good will. Lord Wimborne, now Lord-Lieutenant, seriously
concerned at the continued drop in recruiting, which had not shown any
sign of recovery since the Coalition Government was formed, came to him
with the proposal for a conference on the subject. In pursuance of this
suggestion Redmond went to London, where an interview took place between
him and Lord Kitchener, Mr. Birrell and Mr. Tennant assisting. Redmond
put in a memorandum stating his complaints, and thrashed out the subject
to satisfactory conclusions on all points that directly affected
recruiting. The conference ultimately met at the Viceregal Lodge on
October 15th. It included the Primate of All Ireland, Lord Londonderry,
Lord Meath, Lord Powerscourt, Sir Nugent Everard, the O'Conor Don and
Colonel Sharman Crawford, the Lord Mayors of Dublin, Belfast and Cork,
and Redmond. The military were represented by Major-General Friend,
commanding the troops in Ireland, with whom Redmond always had the most
cordial relations.

Only those who understand something of Irish tradition will realize how
great a departure from established usage it was for Parnell's lieutenant
and successor to take part formally in a meeting at the Viceregal
Lodge--or indeed to cross its threshold for any purpose. But Redmond
always had the logic of his convictions. As part of a compact, he was
helping to the best of his power the Government which must carry on
till Home Rule could come into operation; and here as elsewhere he was
ready to mark his conviction that the enactment of Home Rule had made
possible a complete change in his attitude.

Among his papers is a very full note of what passed on this occasion. It
is confidential, but one may note the extreme friendliness of attitude
as between Redmond and the Ulster representatives, and also the fact
that the operative suggestions agreed on were proposed first by Redmond
himself. They were the result of his interview with Lord Kitchener.
Recruiting in Ireland should no longer be left to voluntary effort, but
a Department should be formed corresponding to that over which Lord
Derby had been appointed to preside in Great Britain; and the
Lord-Lieutenant himself should accept the position of its official head,
and should appoint or nominate some man of known business capacity to
preside over the detail of organization. Redmond pressed also that the
country should be told definitely what Lord Wimborne had told the
conference, that the need was for a total of about 1,100 recruits per

He insisted also very strongly on the publication of a letter which Lord
Kitchener at his instance had written to the conference. Its last
paragraph read:

"The Irish are entitled to their full share of the compliments paid to
the rest of the United Kingdom for their hitherto magnificent response
to the appeal for men: but if that response is to reap its due and only
reward in victory, the supply must be continued."

Over 81,000 recruits had been raised in Ireland since the war started--a
period of eighty-two weeks. Viewed in comparison with Lord Kitchener's
original anticipations, the result might well be called "magnificent."
But it was necessary to maintain the same weekly average, and for four
months the figure had been much below this. The result of the new
campaign was to raise nearly 7,500 men in seven weeks.

In the campaign thus launched, as Redmond so keenly desired, under the
joint auspices of Ulstermen, Southern Unionists and Nationalists, one
circumstance attracted attention. It was proposed to hold a great
meeting at Newry, the frontier town where Ulster marches with the
South--a centre in which recruiting had been singularly keen and
successful. The scheme was to unite on one platform the Lord-Lieutenant,
Redmond and Sir Edward Carson. Sir Edward Carson, however, "did not
think the proposal would serve any useful purpose," and the meeting was
held without him, in December 1915.

By this time the Sixteenth Division was under orders for France. We had
been since September in training at Blackdown, near Aldershot; and here
Redmond was one of several distinguished visitors who came to see us and
address the troops. He came down also unofficially more than once, for
his brother had a pleasant house among the pine-trees--where he guarded,
or was guarded by, the brigade's mascot, the largest of three enormous
wolfhounds which, through John Redmond, were presented to the Irish

Towards the end of the year new rumours were afloat. The 49th Brigade
had never been made up to strength, and there were stories that a
non-Irish brigade was to be linked up with us. Letters from two
commanding officers of the 49th Brigade illustrate the extent to which
Redmond had come by all ranks to be regarded as our tutelary genius; to
him they appealed for redress, fearing that they would be turned into a
reserve brigade. The matter was settled at last to his content and
theirs by a decision that the two brigades which were ready should go
out in advance, to be followed by the 49th; and we entrained accordingly
on December 17th.

Sir Lawrence Parsons wrote to Mr. Birrell: "As the last train-load moved
out of Farnborough station the senior Railway Staff Officer came up to
me and said, 'Well, General, that is the soberest, quietest, most
amenable and best disciplined Division that has left Aldershot, and I
have seen them all go.'" The compliment was well paid to General
Parsons, and it may have been some consolation for a sore heart: that
keen spirit had to be content to be left behind. Major-General W.B.
Hickie, C.B., who had greatly distinguished himself in France, now took
over command. It would be disingenuous to say that John Redmond was not
content with this change; but his brother was deeply impressed by the
hardship inflicted on a gallant soldier.

The Ulster Division had preceded us by three months. All three Irish
Divisions were now in the field, and reserve brigades were established
to feed them. Redmond could feel that in great measure his work was
done, and that he could await the issue in confidence.

He wrote at this time, in a preface contributed to Mr. MacDonagh's book
_The Irish at the Front_, a passage of unusual emotion which tells what
he thought and felt upon this matter.

     "It is these soldiers of ours, with their astonishing courage and
     their beautiful faith, with their natural military genius, carrying
     with them their green flags and their Irish war-pipes, advancing to
     the charge, their fearless officers at their head, and followed by
     their beloved chaplains as great-hearted as themselves--bringing
     with them a quality all their own to the sordid modern
     battlefield--it is these soldiers of ours to whose keeping the
     Cause of Ireland has passed. It was never in holier, worthier
     keeping than with these boys offering up their supreme sacrifice of
     life with a smile on their lips because it was given for Ireland."

He wrote this when fresh from a sight of troops in the field. This visit
took place in November 1915, and he was full of the experience when he
came down to say good-bye before we went out. Nothing in all his life
had approached it in interest, he said to me. The diary of his tour is
prefixed to Mr. S.P. Ker's book, _What the Irish Regiments Have
Done_--but it conveys little, except this dominant impression: "From the
Irish Commander-in-Chief himself right down through the Army one meets
Irishmen wherever one goes." On that journey he got the same welcome
from Ulstermen as from his own nearest countrymen in the Royal Irish


One thing at least Redmond gained, I think, from his visit to the
front--the sense that with the British Army in the field he was in a
friendly country. He never had that sense with regard to the War Office.
Running all through this critical year 1915 is the history of one long
failure--his attempt to secure the creation of a Home Defence force in
Ireland. Given that, he would be confident of possessing the foundation
for the structure of an Irish Army--an army which would be regarded as
Ireland's own. Without it, the whole fabric of his efforts must be
insecure. He desired to build, as in England they built, upon the
voluntary effort of a people in whom entire confidence was placed. In
the War Office undoubtedly men's minds were set upon finding a regular
supply of Irish troops by quite other methods--by the application of

Redmond saw to the full the danger of attempting compulsion with an
unwilling people; it was a peril which he sought to keep off, and while
he lived did keep off, by securing a steady flow of recruits, by gaining
a reasonable definition of Ireland's quota, and by exerting that
personal authority which the recognition of his efforts conferred upon
him. I do not think he was without hope of a moment when Ireland might
come, as Great Britain had come by the end of this year, to recognize
that the voluntary system levied an unfair toll on the willing, and that
the community itself should accept the general necessity of binding its
own members. But before this could be even dreamed of as practicable,
the whole force of Volunteers, North and South, must feel that they were
trusted and recognized, a part in the general work.

The practical organization of the great body at his disposal was under
discussion between him and Colonel Moore from February 1915 onwards; and
the idea was mooted that by introducing the territorial system Ulster
Volunteers and National Volunteers might be drawn into the same corps.
This, however, was for the future; the immediate need was to extend the
arming and training under their own organization. Redmond learnt at once
that Lord Kitchener was against this; that he pointed to the existence
of another armed force in the North of Ireland and argued that to create
a second must mean civil war; that he believed revolutionary forces to
exist in Ireland which Redmond could not control and perhaps did not
even suspect. Those who then thought with Lord Kitchener can say now
that events have justified his view. They omit to consider how far those
events proceeded from Lord Kitchener's refusal to accept Redmond's

Of the danger Redmond was fully aware. "I understand your position to
be," Mr. T.P. O'Connor wrote to him in January 1915, "that unless your
plan as to the Irish Volunteers is adopted we are face to face with a
most critical and dangerous situation in Ireland." Just as fully was he
convinced of the way to meet it. In February, replying indignantly to
Sir Reginald Brade, who had complained that Irish recruiting was
"distinctly languid," he enumerated the points at which the War Office
had failed to act on his own advice, and urged once more, in the first
instance, his original policy of employing both Ulster and Nationalist
Volunteers for Home Defence. "If the two bodies of volunteers were
trusted with the defence of the country under proper military drill and
discipline, the result would unquestionably be that a large number of
them would volunteer for the front. Recruiting can best be promoted by
creating an atmosphere in which the patriotism of the younger men of the
country can be evoked, and we have done a good deal already in this

On April 4th a display was made of the force available. A review was
held in the Phoenix Park of 25,000 men--splendid material, but half of
them with neither arms nor uniform. The Unionist Press was friendly in
its comments upon the statement which Redmond supplied after the parade,
claiming that these men should be utilized for Home Defence. That day
was Easter Sunday of 1915. No one guessed then what the next Easter was
going to bring about.

On April 19th I find him writing officially to Mr. Birrell, seeking the
Chief Secretary's influence with the War Office, and claiming, what was
the truth, that the Irish Command shared his view. But at the moment
recruiting was increasing weekly and the War Office were in no mood to
make further concessions than those by which the improvement had been
brought about. Then came the Coalition, and the consequent reduction of
recruiting from close on 7,000 to 3,000 a month; and in July the
Adjutant-General, Sir Henry Sclater, of his own motion approached
Redmond. He suggested a meeting between Redmond and the War Office, with
Sir Matthew Nathan and General Parsons in attendance. Redmond agreed to
the proposal, but formulated his views in a lengthy memorandum. The
first three points dealt with matters directly concerning the Sixteenth
Division, but in the fourth, weighty emphasis was laid on the suggestion
of recruiting Volunteers for Home Defence. Sir Henry Sclater's reply
omitted completely all reference to this last--an omission on which
Redmond commented sharply. He elicited the official answer that by
urging men to join on a special enlistment for home service the numbers
who would join for general service would be reduced. This was
diametrically opposite to Redmond's view, and he said so, and urged
again that the Irish Command was of his opinion.

The proposed conference resolved itself--to Redmond's indignation--into
a discussion of Redmond's memorandum between the Adjutant-General and
Sir Lawrence Parsons. Only in September, when at Lord Wimborne's
instance he interviewed Lord Kitchener, did he have the opportunity of
raising the matter by direct speech. Lord Kitchener then declared
himself willing to admit that on the question whether enlistment for
Home Defence would promote or retard recruiting, Redmond's judgment was
probably more valuable than his own, and he promised to review the
question of Home Defence again in the light of it. But of this promise
nothing came.

Meantime Redmond was being warned that the Volunteer organization as it
stood had exhausted its usefulness; its enthusiasm was gone--a natural
result of having no purpose. A new opening seemed to be created by the
Bill which Lord Lincolnshire introduced to recognize a Volunteer Force
in Great Britain which should perform military duties under the War
Office control. Redmond hoped to see this carried with an extension of
it to Ireland, and this was the practical proposal with which he
concluded his speech when, on November 2nd, for the first time in that
year, he raised in debate the questions to which so much of his time and
thought had been given.

How was the Irish recruiting problem to be dealt with? He declared
himself absolutely against compulsion, to impose which would be "a folly
and a crime" unless the country was "practically unanimous in favour of
it." The voluntary system had never had fair play--at all events in

     "It is a fact, which has its origin in history, and which I need
     not refer to more closely--it is a fact that in the past recruiting
     for the British Army was not popular with the mass of the Irish
     people. But when the war broke out, my colleagues and I, quite
     regardless, let me say, of the political risks which stared us in
     the face, instantly made an appeal to those whom we represented in
     Ireland, and told them that this was Ireland's war as well as
     England's war, that it was a just war, and that the recent attitude
     of Great Britain to Ireland had thrown upon us a great, grave duty
     of honour to the British Empire. We then went back from this
     country, and we went all through Ireland. I myself, within the
     space of about a month after that, made speeches at great public
     meetings in every one of the four provinces of Ireland. We set
     ourselves to the task of creating in Ireland--creating, mind
     you--an atmosphere favourable to recruiting, and of creating a
     sentiment in Ireland favourable to recruiting. I say most solemnly,
     that in that task we were absolutely entitled to the sympathy and
     the assistance of the Government and the War Office. I am sorry to
     say we got neither."

He disclaimed all imputation upon the Prime Minister or the
Under-Secretary, Mr. Tennant--exceptions which pointed the reference to
Lord Kitchener.

     "The fact remains that when we were faced with that difficult and
     formidable task, practically every suggestion that we made, based
     on the strength of our own knowledge of what was suitable for
     Ireland and the conditions there, was put upon one side. The
     gentlemen who were responsible for that evidently believed that
     they knew what was suited to the necessities of Ireland far better
     than we did. A score of times, at least, I put upon paper and sent
     to the Government and the War Office my suggestions and my
     remonstrances, but all in vain. Often, almost in despair, I was
     tempted to rise in this House and publicly tell the House of
     Commons the way in which we were hampered and thwarted in our work
     in Ireland. I refrained from doing so from fear of doing mischief
     and from fear of doing harm. To-day I am very glad that I so
     refrained, because in spite of these discouragements, in spite of
     this thwarting and embarrassing, and in spite of the utterly faulty
     and ridiculous system of recruiting that was set on foot, we have
     succeeded, and have raised in Ireland a body of men whose numbers
     Lord Kitchener, in his letter to the Irish conference, declared
     were magnificent."

He quoted the Unionist _Birmingham Post_ for the saying that what had
happened in Ireland was "a miracle." From the National Volunteers 27,054
men had joined the colours; from the Ulster Volunteers 27,412. In both
forces there must be many left who could not leave Ireland, yet might be
utilized in Ireland.

     "It may be remembered that the very day the war broke out I rose in
     my place in this House and offered the Volunteers to the Government
     for Home Defence. I only spoke, of course, of the National
     Volunteers. I was not entitled to speak for the Ulster Volunteers,
     but I suggested that they and we might work shoulder to shoulder.
     From that day to this the War Office have persistently refused to
     have anything to say to these Volunteers. The Prime Minister, a few
     days after I spoke, in answer to a question told me that the
     Government were considering at that moment how best to utilize
     these Volunteers. They have never been utilized since. A few days
     after I made my speech I went myself to the War Office, and as a
     result of my interviews there I submitted to the Government a
     scheme which would have provided them at once with 25,000 men. If
     that offer had been accepted, not 25,000, not 50,000, but 100,000
     men would have been enlisted for Home Defence within the month. But
     no, it was obstinately refused. I hear that an hon. member below me
     is now apparently inclined to take the point that the War Office
     took. The War Office said that would interfere with recruiting in
     Ireland. Of course, we know Ireland better than the hon. member. We
     know our difficulties in Ireland. We do not believe that it would.
     On the contrary, we believe that it would have promoted recruiting.
     We believe that the enlistment of these men, their association in
     barracks and in camp, with the inevitable creation and fostering of
     a military spirit, would have led to a large number of volunteers
     for foreign service. Our views counted for nought. In this instance
     they were not only our views. These views had the approval of the
     Irish Command, and from the purely military point of view the Irish
     Command was in favour of some such scheme as I had outlined, and
     the reason was plain. They have to provide, and are providing to
     this day, 20,000 to 25,000 men from the Regular Army for the
     defence of the coasts of Ireland--guarding the coast, guarding
     piers, railways, bridges, and so forth. If these men of ours had
     been taken up, within two or three months of training and in camp
     they would have been able to do this work, and would have done it
     ever since, and would thereby have released from 20,000 to 25,000
     men. That is the chief reason, I fancy, why the Military Command in
     Ireland were in favour of this idea. But to this moment the refusal
     continues. I see that an unofficial Bill was introduced by the
     Marquess of Lincolnshire into the House of Lords doing, to a great
     measure, for England and Wales what we have been asking should be
     done for Ireland. I claim that that Bill shall be extended to

The Volunteer Bill came to the House of Commons in a form making it
applicable to Ireland. There it was opposed by Sir Edward Carson, who
demanded that no man of military age should be accepted as a volunteer
unless he consented to enlist for general service if called. This killed
the Bill.

Sir Edward Carson was of opinion that the necessities of the case
demanded universal compulsory service; and conscription was already in
sight. With that prospect Redmond's anxiety became very grave.

On November 15th he wrote his mind to the Prime Minister:


     _November_ 15, 1915.



     I have been in a state of great anxiety for some time on the
     question of a possible Conscription Bill, and I have discussed the
     matter fully with Mr. Birrell, who knows my views, and who, no
     doubt, has communicated them to you.

     I think it well, however, to shortly put, in writing, our position.

     In your Dublin speech you asked the Irish people for "a free
     offering from a free people," and the response has been, taking
     everything into account, in the words of Lord Kitchener,

     Recruiting is now going on at a greater rate than ever in Ireland,
     and it would be a terrible misfortune if we were driven into a
     position on the question of conscription which would alienate that
     public opinion which we have now got upon our side in Ireland.

     The position would, indeed, be a cruel one, if conscription were
     enacted for England, and Ireland excluded.

     On the other hand, I must tell you that the enforcement of
     conscription in Ireland is an impossibility.

     Faced with this dilemma, if a Conscription Bill be introduced, the
     Irish party will be forced to oppose it as vigorously as possible
     at every stage.

     I regret having to write you in this way, but it is only right that
     I should be quite frank in the matter.

     Very truly yours,

     J.E. REDMOND.

     RT. HON. H.H. Asquith, M.P., _Prime Minister_,

Assurances reached him that the first tentative Bill for compelling
unmarried men to enlist would only be introduced to fulfil a pledge
given by Mr. Asquith in connection with the Derby Scheme, and that as
the Derby Scheme had not applied to Ireland, the pledge also had no
bearing there. By December 21st the matter was raised in the House of
Commons. Redmond, after the Prime Minister had spoken, defined what he
was careful to call "my personal view" on the question of compulsory

"I am content to take the phrase used by the Prime Minister. I am
prepared to say that I will stick at nothing--nothing which is
necessary, nothing which is calculated to effect the purpose--in order
to end this war." He added: "That is the view, I am certain, of the
people of Ireland."

The whole question was presented by him as "one of expediency and
necessity, not of principle." From that standpoint he declared himself
unconvinced that the adoption of compulsion in any shape was either
expedient or necessary. It was inexpedient because it would "break up
the unity of the country"--unnecessary because they had already many
more men than they could either train or equip. In Ireland, a limited
task had been defined, to keep up the necessary reserves for fifty-three
battalions of infantry, and he pointed to the fact that so far the new
organization of recruiting was producing the stipulated flow.

On these grounds, he said, the Irish party would oppose the measure, and
on January 5th that opposition was offered, though Ireland was excluded
from the Bill. But the first division showed a majority of more than ten
to one for the proposal; and in face of that, when the House returned to
the discussion, Redmond declared that Irish opposition must
cease--especially in view of the support given by the responsible
leaders of Labour. Sir Edward Carson, following, pressed him to go one
step farther and accept the inclusion of Ireland in the Bill. Nothing,
he said, could do so much to conciliate Ulster. This was the first time
that any suggestion of this possibility had come from that quarter, and
it came in backing a suggestion which Redmond could not accept. I was
not present at the debate, and it is hard to judge of such matters from
the printed record, but the impression on my mind is that the suggestion
was made without any desire to embarrass. A few days later, in the
Committee stage, an Ulster member moved an amendment which would have
included Ireland. Mr. Bonar Law, speaking for the Government, advised
against it--on the ground of expediency; it would not be an easy thing
to put this measure into operation in Ireland. Sir Edward Carson spoke
later and counselled the dropping of the amendment. With matters in this
stage Redmond spoke very fully to the House, recognizing the absence of
all partisan tone in the speeches of Ulster members. He had long felt,
he said, that "if conscription came, Ireland's whole attitude towards
the war was likely to suffer cruel and unjust misrepresentation,"
because it must emphasize a difference between the two countries.
Conscription in Ireland would be "impracticable, unworkable and
impossible." Instead of leading to the increase in the supply of men it
would have the opposite effect.

"It would most undoubtedly paralyse the efforts of myself and others who
have worked unsparingly--and not unsuccessfully--since the commencement
of the war, and would play right into the hands of those who are a
contemptible minority among the Nationalists of Ireland, and who are
trying--unsuccessfully trying--to prevent recruiting and to undermine
thus the position and power of the Irish party because of the attitude
we have taken up."

He complained once more of the Government's failure to utilize the
Volunteers and of the damping effect which had resulted from the
non-fulfilment of Mr. Asquith's words. Yet Ireland was doing all that
was asked of it--maintaining the reserves of Irishmen for Irish
regiments at the front.--This was true at the moment; but the Sixteenth
Division had scarcely yet begun to come into the line and the Ulster
Division, during its first few months, suffered slight casualties. In
point of fact, however, the bare rumour of conscription had checked
recruiting, and Redmond was guarded in his terms. It was, he said, "on
the whole very satisfactory, and in the towns amazing"; but he admitted
that the country districts had not given an adequate response.

But he made now an appeal to the House as a whole to lift the
consideration of this whole matter on to broad lines, to view it on the
plane of statesmanship. If five years earlier anyone had foretold that
in a great war Ireland would send 95,000 volunteer new recruits to fight
by the side of England, would he not have been regarded as a lunatic?
"The change in Ireland has been so rapid that men are apt to forget its
history." That was a true saying; his own success had created
difficulties for him. Once more he quoted the example of the other
statesman in the Empire whose position had most analogy with his own. "I
honestly believe," he said, "that General Botha's difficulties were
small compared with those we had to confront in Ireland.... It is true
to say at this moment that the overwhelming sentiment of the Irish
people is with the Empire for the first time."

That was his claim, and in that month of January 1916 he was fully
entitled to make it; and the House, I think, recognized his
justification. His speech has in it the ring of confidence, of assurance
that he would be taken at his word.

"Rest satisfied," he said; "do not try to drive Ireland." Wise words,
and they were not unwisely listened to. There was no room for doubting
this man's earnestness when he went on to tell how he himself had
recently met Irish troops in the field, and had then pledged himself to
them to spare no effort in raising the necessary reserves for their
ranks among their own countrymen. "Trust us," he said to the House,
indicating himself and his colleagues, "trust us to know, after all, the
best methods. Do not carp at Irish effort, and do not belittle Irish
effort." Then they might count on loyal and enduring support till the
great struggle was ended.

That speech, as I read it, marks the highwater-line of Redmond's
achievement. His statesmanship in the counsels of the Empire had
prevailed for his own country. The Home Rule Act was on the Statute
Book, and though not in legal operation it was present in all minds; and
now on a supreme issue--the blood-tax--Ireland's right to be treated as
self-governing was recognized in fact. The argument which underlay
implicitly Redmond's whole contention was never set out; it was
contentious, politically, and he wisely avoided it. He spoke for a
nation to which autonomy had been accorded by statute; he preferred men
to feel for themselves rather than be asked to admit that no
self-governing nation will submit voluntarily to the imposition of the
blood-tax without its own most formal consent. All that he said was, in
effect: You have Ireland with you for the first time, by our assistance;
do not destroy our power to continue that assistance, do not alienate
Ireland. In the counsels of the Empire his argument prevailed; and
during the early months of 1916 the relations between Great Britain and
Ireland were better and happier than at any time of which history holds
record. An utterance from one Irishman, and the general response to it,
showed this in extraordinary degree.

Our Division, or rather two brigades of it, had detrained in France on
the 19th of December; the first impression as we shook ourselves
together for the march to strange billets was the sound of guns.
Scattered about in different villages lying round Bethune, our
battalions passed the next two months in the usual training before we
should take up our own sector of the line, and we saw little or nothing
of each other. March found us engaged, though still only attached by
companies to more seasoned troops, in some rough crater-fighting on the
ugly mine-riddled stretch between Loos and Hulluch. It was when we were
marching out from broken houses about the minehead at Annequin that we
first met again our old stable companions, the Royal Irish--and that I
first saw Willie Redmond in France at the head of his company.

He was on foot as always, for he never could be persuaded to ride while
the men were marching, and I never saw more geniality of greeting on any
countenance than was on his when he came up with outstretched hand to
where I was sitting by the roadside--for we had halted to see them go
by. Here was a man utterly in his element, radiant literally in the
enthusiasm of his devotion. He refused to listen to our talk of the bad
time we had been through in the place where they were to succeed us (and
in two winters of that war I never saw worse); all his talk was of the
good time which we should have in the billets we were going to, which
they had just left. Back there, in and about Allouagne, they rejoined
us; and I remember dining with him in his company mess and hearing his
eulogies of the splendid fellows that his company officers were. Then,
about the time we moved up into trenches, our first leaves began and he
got home in March. Naturally, he looked in at the House of Commons, and
realized for the first time how uneasy well-informed persons in the
lobbies were about the chances of the war. Everybody who ever came home
from the front must have experienced the effect of that strange
transition from unquestioning confidence to worried anxiety; but Willie
Redmond was the only man who ever adequately gave expression to it.

It was on the eve of St. Patrick's Day, and the Army Estimates were
under discussion in a very thin House--a wrangling, fault-finding
debate. In the middle of it Willie Redmond got up, and said that as he
was not likely to be there again, he had one or two things to say which
he thought the House would be glad to know. Speaking as one of the
oldest members, who had all but completed his thirty-third year in
Parliament, he told them that every soul in the House should be proud of
the troops--not of the Irish troops, but of the troops
generally--because more than anything else of the splendid spirit in
which they were going through the privations and dangers,--which he
described with passion. If he were to deliver a message from the troops,
he knew well what it would be:

     "Send us out the reinforcements which are necessary, and which are
     naturally necessary. Send us out, as we admit you have been doing
     up to this, the necessary supplies, and when you do that, have
     trust in the men who are in the gap to conduct the war to the
     victory which everyone at the front is confident is bound to come.
     'And when victory does come,' the message would run on, 'you in the
     House of Commons, in the country, and in every newspaper in the
     country, can spend the rest of your lives in discussing as to
     whether the victory has been won on proper lines or whether it has
     not.' Nothing in the world can depress the spirits of the men that
     I have seen at the front. I do not believe that there was ever
     enough Germans born into this world to depress them. If it were
     possible to depress them at all, it can only be done by pursuing a
     course of embittered controversy in this country--as to which was
     the right way or the wrong way of conducting affairs at the front.
     When a man feels that his feet are freezing, when he is standing in
     heavy rain for a whole night with no shelter, and when next morning
     he tries to cook a piece of scanty food over the scanty flame of a
     brazier in the mud, he perhaps sits down for a few minutes in the
     day's dawn and takes up an old newspaper, and finds speeches and
     leading articles from time to time which tell him that apparently
     everything is going wrong, that the Ministers who are at the head
     of affairs in this country, upon whom he is depending, are not
     really men with their hearts in the work, but are really more or
     less callous and calculating mercenaries, who are not directing
     affairs in the best way, but are simply anxious to maintain their
     own salaries. I say that when speeches and articles of that kind
     are found in the newspapers they are calculated, if anything is or
     can be so calculated, to depress the men who are at the front."

Then came a few words in praise of the Irish troops and in deprecation
of the failure to recognize some of their services; a confident
assurance that, "whether they are remembered or not," the Sixteenth
Division would do their duty, with an equal assurance that the Ulster
men would do as well as they--and he reached to his conclusion:

     "Since I went out there I found that the common salutation in all
     circumstances is one of cheer. If things go pretty well and the men
     are fairly comfortable, they say 'Cheer O!' If things go badly, and
     the snow falls and the rain comes through the roof of a billet in
     an impossible sort of cow-house, they say 'Cheer O!' still more.
     All we want out there is that you shall adopt the same tone and say
     'Cheer O!' to us."

It is not too much to say that this speech was received with a cry of
gratitude all over the country and throughout the Army. It said what
badly needed to be said, and said it with a freshness and a dash that
came superbly from a company commander in his fifty-fourth year. It was
the best service that had yet been rendered to John Redmond's policy.
Everybody quite naturally and simply accepted the Nationalist Irishman
as the spokesman for all the troops who were actually in the line. Mr.
Walter Long, always a generous and candid human being, was quick to give
voice to this feeling:

     "The honourable and gallant member for East Clare has been in
     conflict, not only with one particular political party, but during
     the greater part of his career with every party in turn, and has
     engaged in bitter controversy with them. Does anybody doubt the
     fact that when war was declared one great factor in the mind of the
     Emperor responsible for this war was that dissension would paralyse
     the hands of Great Britain? Ireland, whatever may have been our
     differences in the past, and whatever may be our differences in
     happier days again when we are at peace, everybody must feel by the
     action of her representatives, who have fought so bitterly in this
     House and in the country, has created a new claim for herself upon
     the affection, the gratitude, the respect of the people of the
     Empire by the great and proud part that she has played in this
     great struggle."

That was the position to which Redmond's policy, backed by the Irishmen
who supported it with their lives, of whom his brother was the
outstanding representative, had brought this great issue. The next
thing which brought the name of Ireland prominently before the world was
the story of action taken by other Irishmen, also at the risk of their
lives, to reverse the strong current which was then carrying us forward
with so hopeful augury.


[Footnote 5: Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice Moore, C.B., an officer who had
served with distinction in South Africa, and whose father, George Henry
Moore, had been a famous advocate in Parliament of Tenant Right and

[Footnote 6: Rifles were really not available, nor competent
instructors. But the essential was recognition. A grant towards
equipment should have been given, and possibly other assistance. We
secured several thousand rifles in Belgium about this time. For
instructors, any old crippled veterans paid by Government would have
conveyed the sense of recognition.]




The facts of the Irish rebellion are too generally familiar to need more
than the briefest restatement--and perhaps too little known for an
attempt at detailed analysis. Broadly, a general parade of the Irish
Volunteers all over the country was ordered for Easter Sunday. On the
night before Good Friday a German ship with a cargo of rifles was off
the Irish coast. This ship, the _Aud_, was a few hours later captured
and taken in convoy by a British sloop, so that the arms were never
landed. Emissaries from the Volunteers who had gone to Kerry by
motor-car to receive and arrange for distributing the arms were killed
in a motor accident while hurrying back to get in touch with their
headquarters. On Saturday the general parade was cancelled by order of
Professor MacNeill, chief of the Volunteer organization. On Monday,
against his wish, a portion of the Volunteer force in Dublin, including
the battalion specially under command of Pearse and MacDonagh, with the
Citizen Army under James Connolly, paraded, scattered through the city
and seized certain previously selected points, of which the most
important was the Post Office. From it as headquarters they proclaimed
an Irish Republic. Slight attempts at rising took place in county
Wexford, where the town of Enniscorthy was seized, in county Galway, and
in county Louth. At Galway, at Wexford and at Drogheda the National
Volunteers turned out to assist in suppressing the rising. Except for a
serious encounter with a police force in county Dublin, the fighting
was confined to the capital. It terminated by the unconditional
surrender of the rebels on the Saturday. The struggle was prolonged by
the total lack of artillery in the early stages. Riflemen established in
houses could not be dislodged by direct assault of infantry without very
heavy casualties to the attacking force.

The purpose of this book is to show Redmond's connection with this event
and the succeeding developments from it. He failed to foresee the event;
he failed to direct its developments into the course he desired. How far
he is to be held responsible, or blameworthy, for these failures,
readers may be assisted to decide.

From the beginning of 1916 onwards the Irish Government was warned of
danger. One of its members--the Attorney-General, Sir James
Campbell--advocated the seizure of arms from men parading with what were
evidently stolen service rifles or bayonets. But the Chief Secretary
refused to take any action which could be described as an attempt to
suppress or disarm the Irish Volunteers until there was definite
evidence of actual association with the enemy.

Proof of sympathy was not difficult to obtain, and the propaganda
against recruiting had now reached the point of attempts to break up
recruiting meetings. Still, Mr. Birrell was in a difficulty. He had a
logical mind, and he knew what had been permitted to Ulster. The fact
that the Attorney-General himself had been a main adviser of the
Provisional Government did not make it easier to follow his advice to
disarm men who professed disaffection to the existing authority. Mr.
Birrell knew that if he took such action he could be attacked in the
official Nationalist Press for having one law in Ulster and another in
the South. Further, Redmond would certainly not have disavowed, and
might even have endorsed, such a line of criticism. The reason was that
Redmond, as he had never believed in the reality of the Ulster danger,
so now did not believe in this one.

Later, when Mr. Birrell resigned his post after the insurrection was
suppressed, Redmond chivalrously took on himself a part of the
responsibility. "I feel," he said, "that I have incurred some share of
the blame which he has laid at his own door, because I entirely agreed
with his view that the danger of an outbreak of the kind was not a real
one, and in my conversations with him I have expressed that view, and
for all I know that may have influenced him in his conduct and his
management of Irish affairs." A later debate--on July 31st--showed that
his strong personal feeling for Mr. Birrell had moved him rather to
overstate than to belittle his advisory responsibility. Dublin Castle
had never consulted him as to policy. Conferences had taken place with
the Under-Secretary, Sir Matthew Nathan, but these were concerned with
considering and framing the machinery to be created for bringing the
Home Rule Act into operation, whenever the time came.

"There was no conference at all about the state of the country or about
Sinn Fein. When once or twice in casual consultation the matter came
up--I hope the House will listen to this--I did not hesitate to say what
in my opinion ought to be done in certain cases by the Government. For
example, I expressed a strong view to them as to how they should deal
with seditious newspapers and with prosecutions. What I did suggest,
they never did; what I said they ought not to do, they always did. And I
want to say something further. They never gave me any information, bad
or good, about the state of the country. From first to last I never saw
one single confidential Government report from the police or from any
other source. I know nothing whatever about their secret confidential

It is fair to add that the Under-Secretary was in communication from
time to time with other members of the party, who were of course in
touch with Redmond. But the substantial accuracy of Redmond's statement
is sufficiently evidenced by one fact. Everybody knew that Sir Roger
Casement was in Berlin and had tried--most unsuccessfully--to recruit an
Irish Brigade from among the Irish prisoners. But neither Redmond nor
any Irish member knew that from April 17th Dublin Castle had warning
that a ship was on its way from Germany with rifles. The Navy was on the
alert, and when the _Aud_ came off Fenit, in Kerry, on Good Friday
morning, she was promptly challenged.[7] But in the dark hours of that
morning she had landed Sir Roger Casement and his two confederates, one
of whom was arrested with him the same day. On Saturday morning
Government decided to take action against what was now clearly a rebel
organization. But as the Chief Secretary and the General Commanding in
Chief were both in London, and as the available force of men in Dublin
was small, a postponement was decided on. No special precautions appear
to have been taken against the contingency of an immediate rising. On
Monday a very large proportion of the officers from the Curragh and the
Dublin garrison were at the Fairyhouse races. In the Castle itself there
was only the ordinary guard.

Redmond at this date was also in London. His lack of apprehension is
sufficiently indicated by the fact that his son and daughter were both
at the races, and drove up unknowingly to an armed barricade. Had he
been in authority and known, as the Government knew on Saturday, that
the Irish Volunteers expected and had arranged for the landing of a
heavy cargo of arms on Good Friday, and that a general parade of their
men had been ordered for Easter, I hope that he would have either had
troops in the utmost readiness to move, or have put strong guards in
places of importance. But this is a futile speculation, for had he been
in power the situation would never have arisen.

The decisive thing which drove most of the relatively small number among
the Volunteers who broke away from Redmond into their original hostility
was Government's failure to recognize them. Their force stood in their
own eyes for the assertion of Ireland's nationality; and many of those
who took active part in the rebellion were at the outset fully prepared
to assert that nationality in jeopardy of their lives in the Allied
cause. Redmond's policy, had effect been given to it by the Government,
still more had he himself been invested with the right to embody it in
action, would have prevented the estrangement of all but a very few.
Once the estrangement took place, however, I think that he undervalued
what was opposed to him, both in respect of its power and of its
quality. He lacked appreciation and respect for the idealists whose
ideals were not his own. He underrated their sincerity, and the danger
of their sincerity. The beauty of sacrifice in the young men who went
out to the war, carrying Ireland's cause in their keeping, moved him
profoundly; and he saw the practical bearing of their acts on the great
practical problem of statesmanship to which his life had been given. He
did not guess at the sway which might be exercised over men's minds by
an almost mystical belief which disdained to count with practicalities,
Redmond for fifteen years had been the leader, and for thirty-five years
had been a member, of a party which presented itself--with great
justification--as the winner for Ireland of many positive material
advantages on the way to an ultimate goal. Pearse, at a time when all
the world was plunged in a prodigal welter of destruction, came forward,
demanding from Irishmen nothing but a sacrifice--promising nothing but
the chance for young men to shed their blood sacramentally in the cause
of Ireland's freedom. Redmond also was calling for the extreme risk, but
on a sane and sound calculation, to ensure the full development of
something already gained. Pearse preached, mystically, the efficacious
power simply of blood shed in the name of Ireland. Those whom he brought
with him into the pass of danger were few, but they were touched with
his own spirit; and even the very recklessness of their act touched the
popular imagination. Irish regiments, after all, could do only what
other regiments were doing; their deeds were obscured in a chaos of war
from which individual prowess could not emerge. Pearse and his
associates offered to Irishmen a stage for themselves on which they
could and did secure full personal recognition--the complete attention
of Ireland's mind.

All this would have seemed vanity to Redmond's solid, positive
intelligence--vanity in all senses of the word. It would have moved him
to nothing but angry contempt--anger against the spirit which was
prepared to divide Ireland's effort, contempt for the futility of the
reasoning. But one aspect of the rising dominated all the others in his
mind. He had neither tolerance nor pity for Roger Casement, who was in
his eyes simply one who tried to seduce Irish troops by threats and
bribes into treason to their salt, one who made himself among the worst
instruments of Germany. At the re-assembly of Parliament on April 27th
he expressed the "feeling of detestation and horror" with which he and
his colleagues had regarded the events in Dublin; a feeling which he
believed to be shared "by the overwhelming mass of the people of
Ireland." On May 3rd, in a statement to the Press, he denounced fiercely
"this wicked move" of men who "have tried to make Ireland the cat's-paw
of Germany." "Germany plotted it, Germany organized it, Germany paid for
it." The men who were Germany's agents "remained in the safe remoteness
of American cities," while "misguided and insane young men in Ireland
had risked, and some of them had lost, their lives in an insane
anti-patriotic movement." It was anti-patriotic, he urged, because
Ireland held to the choice she had made, to the opinion which thousands
of Irish soldiers had sealed with their blood. It was "not half so much
treason to the cause of the Allies as treason to the cause of Home

On the day when that statement appeared the sequel had begun to unroll
itself. In the House of Commons Mr. Asquith announced the trial,
sentence and shooting of three signatories to the Republican
proclamation--Pearse, Clarke and MacDonagh. With the exception of James
Connolly, these were the men most directly answerable for launching an
attempt which had cost five hundred lives and destroyed over two
millions' worth of property, Redmond accepted their doom as just.

"This outbreak happily seems to be over. It has been dealt with with
firmness, which was not only right, but it was the duty of the
Government so to deal with it."

But now that example had been made, he held that other thoughts should
guide those in authority.

"As the rebellion, or the outbreak, call it what you like, has been put
down with firmness, I do beg the Government, and I speak from the very
bottom of my heart and with all my earnestness, not to show undue
hardship or severity to the great masses of those who are implicated, on
whose shoulders there lies a guilt far different from that which lies
upon the instigators and promoters of the outbreak. Let them, in the
name of God, not add this to the wretched, miserable memories of the
Irish people, to be stored up perhaps for generations, but let them deal
with it in such a spirit of leniency as was recently exhibited in South
Africa by General Botha, and in that way pave the way to the possibility
... that out of the ashes of this miserable tragedy there may spring up
something which will redound to the future happiness of Ireland and the
future complete and absolute unity of this Empire. I beg of the
Government, having put down this outbreak with firmness, to take only
such action as will leave the least rankling bitterness in the minds of
the Irish people, both in Ireland and elsewhere throughout the world."

It is well to recall what he had in his mind. After the suppression of
the South African rebellion in 1914, one man only was put to death--an
officer who changed sides during an action. No attempt was made to try
accused persons before a jury; a special tribunal of judges was set up
by the South African Parliament. But their power of inflicting
punishment was limited by the Parliament to a sentence of three years.
General de Wet, the chief figure in the rebellion, was dismissed without
punishment to his farm. That was the manner in which a strong native
Government, realizing the possibilities of future trouble, dealt with an
insurrection infinitely more serious in a military sense than that which
broke out in Dublin. But in Ireland there was no native government; and
the announcement of Mr. Birrell's resignation meant in reality that Mr.
Asquith's Ministry had abdicated so far as Ireland was concerned. Quite
properly, they had called in a competent soldier to deal with the
military exigency. Quite shamefully, they left him in sole authority to
handle what was essentially the task of statesmanship.

Everybody saw that in such a case the need was to prevent a rebellious
spirit from spreading. Sir John Maxwell took the simple view that the
way to secure this was by plenty of executions. Knowledge of Irish
history cannot be expected in an English Minister, still less in an
English soldier; but it could have taught him how often and how
ineffectually that recipe had been applied. Still less could it be hoped
that a soldier, in no sense bound to the study of contemporary politics,
should allow for the effect of two factors which must certainly
influence Irish judgment and Irish feeling. The first of these was the
precedent within the Empire created by General Botha's Government. This,
I think, English opinion generally, and particularly English
Imperialist opinion, wholly disregarded; but it was the point to which
Redmond had instantly directed attention. For him, the idea of an
Imperial Commonwealth of States was a reality, and within one
Commonwealth there cannot be two standards of justice. The second factor
was the licence accorded by a Liberal Government, and the sanction given
by a Tory Opposition, to preparations for rebellion, and acts of
rebellion, in Ulster. This was generally recognized by public opinion,
though I think deliberately set aside by Sir John Maxwell--who perhaps
is not to be blamed. But the Prime Minister, who had been chiefly and
ultimately responsible for the decision to let Ulstermen do as they
liked, was specially bound to consider and provide for the consequences
of that line of policy in the past as it affected the present
development. He was also, as the Minister responsible alike for carrying
a Home Rule Act and for denying to it operation, specially bound in such
a pass as this to be guided largely by the judgment of the man who but
for that postponement would have been head of an Irish Government. But,
under the various pressures of the moment, Mr. Asquith moved in a wholly
different direction. Redmond's appeal and advice went totally
disregarded. Yet Redmond knew Ireland as no Englishman could know it;
and his hands were clean of guilt for what had happened. Mr. Asquith by
his past inaction, his Tory colleagues by their action before the war,
were deeply involved in responsibility. It is difficult, if not
impossible, to find in Mr. Asquith's conduct any recognition of this
cardinal fact. He judged rebels as if preparations for rebellion had
never been palliated or approved.

All that Redmond could achieve was by incessant personal intervention to
limit the list of executions, to put some stay on what he called later
"the gross and panicky violence" with which measures of suppression
were conceived and carried out. He could not prevent the amazing
procedure of sending flying columns throughout the country into places
where there had been no hint of disturbance, and making arrests by the
hundred without reason given or evidence produced. In many cases, men
who had been thoroughly disgusted by the outbreak found themselves in
jail; and disaffection was manufactured hourly.

On May 3rd, when Redmond made his public appeal to Mr. Asquith, it was
still not too late to prevent the mischief from spreading. By general
consent, Redmond was right when he said that the rising was thoroughly
unpopular in Ireland, and most of all in Dublin. The troops on whom the
insurgents fired were in the first instance Irish troops. Later in that
year I was attached to one of these battalions (the 10th Dublins), and
asked them how they did their scouting work during the conflict. "We
needed no scouts," was the answer; "the old women told us everything."
The first volley which met a company of this battalion killed an
officer; he was so strongly Nationalist in his sympathy as to be almost
a Sinn Féiner. Others had been active leaders in the Howth gun-running.
It was not merely a case of Irishmen firing on their fellow-countrymen:
it was one section of the original Volunteers firing on another.

Yet from the moment when English troops came on the scene, another
strain of feeling began to make itself felt. A lady ordered tea to be
made for one of the incoming regiments, halted outside her house on the
line of march. The refreshment was long in coming, and she went down to
see why. She found her cook up in arms: "Is it me boil the kettle for
Englishmen coming in to shoot down Irishmen?" Yet that was still the
voice of a minority. When I came home from France a few weeks later, a
shrewd and prosperous Nationalist man of business said to me with fury:
"The fools! It was the first rebellion that ever had the country
against it, and they turned the people round in a week."

Nothing could have prevented the halo of martyrdom from attaching itself
to those who died by the law for the sake of Irish freedom: the
tradition was too deeply ingrained in Ireland's history. Yet Redmond did
not go beyond the measure of average Irish opinion when he accepted the
first three executions as just. People at least knew who these men were,
and their signatures to the proclamation of an Irish Republic proved
their leadership. They were given the death of rebels in arms, to which
no dishonour attaches. But a fatal mistake was made in suppressing all
report of the proceedings of the court-martial on them, and this mistake
was to be repeated indefinitely. Ireland was made to feel that this
whole affair was taken completely out of the hands of Irishmen--that no
attempt even was made to enlist Irish opinion on the side of law by a
statement of the evidence on which law acted. Day by day there was a new
bald announcement that such and such men had been shot; and these were
men whose names Ireland at large had never heard of.

Then on top of all came the appalling admission that an officer
suffering from insanity had taken out three prisoners and caused them to
be shot without trial on his own responsibility, none of these men
having any complicity with the rebellion. This incident would have
inflamed public opinion in any community; in Ireland its effect was
beyond words poisonous. It revived the atmosphere of the Bachelor's Walk
incident; and there was only too much justification for holding that the
military authorities were indisposed to take the proper disciplinary
action. Its effect detracted from the excellent opinion which the troops
generally had earned by their conduct: it instilled venom into the
resentment of those few cases (and it was beyond hope that they should
not occur) in which soldiers had either lost their heads or yielded to
the temptation of revenge in its ugliest shapes.

The result can be best expressed by recording the experience of one Sinn
Féiner who was captured in the fighting. While the military escort was
taking him through the streets to his place of confinement, a crowd
gathered round and ran along, consisting of angry men and women who had
seen bloodshed and known hunger during these days. They shouted to the
soldiers to knock his brains out there and then. Three weeks later he
was again marched through the streets on his way to an English prison,
and again a crowd mustered. But this time, to his amazement, they were
shouting: "God save you! God have pity on you! Keep your heart up!
Ireland's not dead yet!"

These were the effects produced in Ireland on the mind of common people
by the action of Government in enforcing the ultimate sanction of law
which the members of that same Government by their action and by their
inaction had brought into contempt. In England, in the meanwhile, a new
Military Service Bill was going through the House, and naturally
attempts to include Ireland in its operation were renewed. Sir Edward
Carson, criticizing the Government of Ireland, said that (as Redmond put
it in replying) Nationalists had held the power but not the
responsibility. There was a note of angry protest in the Irish Leader's
rejoinder. "I wish to say for myself that certainly since the Coalition
Government came into operation, and before it, but certainly since then,
I have had no power in the Government of Ireland. All my opinions have
been overborne. My suggestions have been rejected, and my profound
conviction is that if we had had the power and the responsibility for
the Government of our country during the past two years, recent
occurrences in Ireland would never have taken place."

I think that view was at that moment very generally shared in England.
The British Press had shown by their attitude towards the events in
Dublin how deeply Redmond had made his mark. Almost without exception
Unionist papers refrained from any attempt to identify Nationalist
Ireland generally with the rising: they did full justice to the valour
and the sufferings of Irish troops--who, indeed, at that very moment
were passing through a cruel ordeal. In that Easter week the Sixteenth
Division was subjected to two attacks with poison gas of a concentration
and violence till then unknown, and under weather conditions which
prolonged the ordeal beyond endurance. The 48th and 49th Brigades had
very terrible losses. We of the 47th relieved them in the line.

That was a long tour of trenches, some eighteen days beginning on the
29th of April, and throughout it papers came in with the Irish news. I
shall never forget the men's indignation. They felt they had been
stabbed in the back. For myself, I thought that a situation had arisen
in which Irish members who were serving had a more imperative duty at
home, and I went to discuss the matter with Willie Redmond, whose
battalion was then holding the front line to the left of Loos.

I found him in the deep company commander's dug-out in the bay of line
opposite Puits 14 bis, which will be known to many Irish soldiers. We
came up to the light to talk, and he agreed with me in my view. We
arranged that each of us should discuss with his commanding officer the
question of asking for special leave. Mine advised me to go, and I have
no earthly doubt that his would have said, or did say, the same; but
Willie Redmond never brought himself to leave his men. Next month,
however, he was invalided back, very seriously ill.

But in our talk that day, when we discussed the possibility of our
having some special influence, he said this: "Don't imagine that what
you and I have done is going to make us popular with our people. On the
contrary, we shall both be sent to the right about at the first General
Election." I think he was wrong, at least to this extent, that any man
who served would not have lessened his chance by doing so. When the tide
flowed strongest against us, in three provinces one Nationalist only
kept his seat--John Redmond's son, Major William Archer Redmond.


Already the tide had begun to turn in Ireland. On May 11th Mr.
Dillon--who had been in Dublin during the rebellion--moved the
adjournment of the House to demand that Government should state whether
they intended to have more executions upon the finding of secret
tribunals, and to continue the searches and wholesale arrests which were
going on through the country. The list of executions had now reached
fourteen, and no word of evidence had been published. Also the Prime
Minister stated that he heard for the first time of the shooting of Mr.
Sheehy-Skeffington and others by Captain Bowen Colthurst.
Unquestionably, discussion was urgently needed, and Mr. Dillon was fully
justified in emphasizing the mischief done in Ireland by alienating
men's minds. But Mr. Dillon spoke as one who felt to the uttermost the
passion of resentment which he depicted, and in his indignation against
charges which had been brought against the insurgents, he was led to
praise their conduct almost to the disparagement of soldiers in the
field. Even in print the speech seethes with growing passion; and its
delivery, I am told, accentuated its bitterness and its anti-English

It would be futile to deny that this utterance had a great effect in
Ireland and in England, or to conceal Redmond's view that the effect was
most lamentable. But it had one notable result. Mr. Asquith, in
replying, announced his intention to visit Ireland and look into the
situation for himself. Within a fortnight--on May 25th--he reported to
the House his impressions.

"The first was the breakdown of the existing machinery of the Irish
Government; and the next was the strength and depth, and I might almost
say, I think without exaggeration, the universality of the feeling in
Ireland that we have now a unique opportunity for a new departure for
the settlement of outstanding problems, and for a joint and combined
effort to obtain agreement as to the way in which the Government of
Ireland is for the future to be carried on."

He indicated that an attempt would be made to renew negotiations for a
settlement which would enable the Home Rule Act to be brought into
operation at once; and that Mr. Lloyd George had consented to undertake
the task of reconciling parties. But he begged that there should be no
debate upon this proposal or upon Irish affairs at all. Redmond, in
accepting, said that the request for acceptance without discussion was
putting the goodwill of Nationalists to a very severe test.--A
discussion would at once have produced this criticism: that Ireland
would say to-morrow, "The Parliamentary party brought to Ireland a
post-dated order for Home Rule, liable to an indefinite series of
postponements: Sinn Fein by a week's rebellion secures that Home Rule
shall be brought into force at once."

In truth, the rapid growth of Sinn Fein from May 1916 onwards is due
largely to this reasoning; but also to resentment against the
Government's dealing with the rebellion, and against the Irish party's
silence in Parliament in spite of the numerous actions of the military
power which called for vigorous criticism.

Irish Nationalist members realized the unpopularity of their silence and
submitted to it, for the negotiations appeared to offer a real chance.
We held that Mr. Lloyd George could not afford to fail, and had power
enough to carry through a settlement. We did not know, and could not,
that the Minister of Munitions had been called off from his regular work
within five weeks before the beginning of the offensive on the Somme,
for which an unprecedented outlay of material had been undertaken.

The negotiations proceeded, and were conducted on the principle of
discussion through a go-between. The parties never met: Mr. Lloyd George
submitted proposals to each side separately. Redmond and his colleagues
insisted on protecting themselves by securing a written document, so
that, as it was hoped, there could be no understanding and the terms
come to would be final.

Those of us who hoped for a completely new approach to the problem were
doomed to disappointment. The affair was taken up where the Buckingham
Palace Conference left it. The terms to be arranged were terms of
exclusion for Ulster; and the two questions of defining the area and the
period met the negotiators on the threshold.

It has been shown above that Redmond regarded as vital the distinction
between temporary and permanent exclusion. His purpose was to stamp the
whole of this proposed agreement with a provisional and transient
character. It was to be simply a war measure, subject to re-arrangement
at the close of hostilities; and it was to be adapted to a community
still agitated by rebellion.

An Irish Parliament with an Executive responsible to it was to be set up
at once. But no elections were to be held. The existing members for the
existing constituencies were to be the provisional Parliament till the
war ended.

The same considerations precluded the possibility of a referendum in
Ulster. Nationalists accepted an area defined by agreement. It left out
of "Ulster" the three counties, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan, in whose
eight constituencies no Unionist had been returned since 1885. But it
left to the excluded area the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh, each
with a Nationalist majority, and the boroughs of Newry and Londonderry,
both represented by Home Rulers.

This was a provision which no body of men could be expected to acquiesce
in permanently as representing the equity of the case. It was accepted
for the sake of peace, as a temporary expedient. A strong inducement was
added by Mr. Lloyd George's proposal that at the close of the
provisional period the whole matter should be referred to a Council of
the Empire with the Prime Ministers of the Dominions taking a hand in
the settlement. But to guarantee and seal its provisional and transitory
character an extraordinary clause was added. Until a permanent
settlement was reached, the Irish membership at Westminster was to
remain at its original number of 103.

The document embodying these conclusions was accepted in identical terms
by each side, and each party of negotiators set out for Ireland to
endeavour to secure acceptance of it. But before he left London Sir
Edward Carson asked for an interpretation of the terms. Did the
agreement mean that none of the six excluded counties could be brought
under a Dublin Parliament without an Act of Parliament? In other words,
was the exclusion permanent until Parliament should otherwise determine?
He was answered that the Prime Minister accepted this interpretation,
and would be prepared to say so when the matter came before Parliament.
Knowledge of these communications was not conveyed to Redmond. Redmond's
interpretation was that at the termination of the war this arrangement
lapsed, and the Home Rule Act, which was the law of the land, came into
force. If Ulster, or any part of it, were to be excluded, it must be by
a new amending Act. Had the assurance given to Sir Edward Carson been
conveyed to Redmond, either the negotiations must have been resumed or
they must have been rendered abortive.

On June 13th the Ulster Council accepted the terms, no doubt with great
reluctance. The signatories to the Covenant in the three western
counties felt themselves betrayed. The whole body found itself committed
to acceptance of Home Rule in principle for twenty-six counties. But the
war necessity was pressed upon them and they submitted.

The Nationalist Convention met ten days later in Belfast. Mr. Devlin had
been strenuous in his exertions throughout the province, but the whole
force of the ecclesiastical power was thrown against him. Apart from the
detestation of partition, the Catholic Church conceived that the
principle of denominational education would be lost in the severed
counties, where the dominant Presbyterian element was opposed to it.
Very many delegates came to the Convention pledged in advance to resist
the proposals: and the general anticipation was that Redmond would be
thrown over.

The proceedings were secret. But in the result the Nationalists of the
North refused to be any party to denying the rest of Ireland
self-government. A division was taken, and consent to temporary
exclusion was carried by a large majority. The victory was in the main
due to Mr. Devlin's extraordinary personal gifts, exercised to carry a
conclusion which inevitably must injure himself where he was most
sensitive to a wound, in the hearts of those among whom he was born and

It must have been in the weeks immediately after this that Redmond spoke
to me, as I never heard him speak of any other man, his mind about Mr.
Devlin. "Joe's loyalty in all this business has been beyond words," he
said. "I know what it has cost him to do as he has done." He knew well
that the younger man's influence had been more efficacious than the
threat of his own resignation--which was not withheld. A man of other
nature might have been jealous of the young and growing power: but such
an element as this was so foreign to Redmond's whole being that even
the thought of it never entered the most suspicious mind.

The result of the Belfast Convention was communicated and discussed at a
meeting of the Irish party held at the Mansion House on June 26th. It
was one of the most hopeful moments in our experience; reaction from a
depression approaching to despair gave confidence to the gloomiest among
us. Hope was in the air. The effect of Mr. Asquith's sentence upon the
whole machinery of Dublin Castle had not yet worn off. No new Government
had been installed: the Chief Secretaryship remained vacant, the
Lord-Lieutenant also had retired from his office. It seemed a certainty
that we should enter, under whatever auguries, into the realization of a
self-governing Ireland. Even those who were most enthusiastic for the
birth of a new and glorious era that was to date from the stirring
action of the rebels, and who were most open-mouthed in condemnation of
Redmond's futile efforts, in practice shared our view. I asked one such
man how he counted on securing the necessary first step of establishing
an Irish Government. "Oh, I suppose," was his answer, "the Irish party
will manage that somehow."

But soon delay began to hang coldly on this temper of anticipation, and
to delay were added disquieting utterances. On June 29th Lord Lansdowne
announced in the House of Lords that the "consultations" which had been
taking place were "certainly authorized" by the Government but were not
binding upon it; and that he, speaking for the Unionist wing of the
Cabinet, had not accepted the proposals. This was disturbing. Lord
Selborne had retired from the Government before the negotiators went to
Ireland, because he knew of the proposals and was not prepared to
sanction them. We assumed that other Unionists who shared this view
would have followed him in his frank action. Now we perceived that Lord
Lansdowne and his friends had frugally husbanded their force. It was
expected by many that Ireland would do the work for them. Failing that,
they had still the last stab to deliver. But we counted upon one thing:
that Mr. Lloyd George, if not Mr. Asquith, would feel himself committed
to see the deal through--and that his resignation would have to be faced
as a part of the consequences if attempts were made to go back on the

Parliament reassembled and still nothing was said and nothing done: but
the Press was full of rumours. On July 19th Redmond asked that a date
should be fixed for the introduction of the proposed Bill, and next day
he renewed his demand, urging that the constant delays and postponements
were "seriously jeopardizing the chance of settlement." This was only
too true. A furious agitation against the proposal of even temporary
partition was raging through Ireland. Once more, the tide had been
missed: time had been given to inculcate all manner of doubts and
suspicions--and once more the suspicions proved to be only too well
justified. The whole story was revealed to the House on July 24th.

Redmond, in his speech, emphasized it that the proposals had come not
from the Nationalists, but from the Government; they had, however, been
accepted, after considerable negotiation and many changes in substance,
as a plan which Nationalists could recommend for acceptance.
Nationalists had been pressed to use the utmost despatch, had been told
that every hour counted and that it was essential in the highest
Imperial interests, if Ireland endorsed the agreement, that it should be
put into operation at once. "That is two long months ago," he said.
Action had been taken; the unpopularity of the proposals, fully
foreseen, had been faced, on a clear understanding.

"The agreement was in the words of the Prime Minister himself, for what
he called a provisional settlement which should last until the war was
over, or until a final and permanent settlement was arrived at within a
limited period after the war. This was the chief factor of this plan,
and without it not one of my colleagues or myself would for a moment
have considered it, much less have submitted it to our followers."

The retention of Irish members at Westminster in full strength was
covenanted for "as an indispensable safeguard of the temporary character
of the whole arrangement."

It was on this construction of the agreement that consent to it had been
secured, in the face of very strong and organized opposition: and
consent was secured to it as a final document. Nevertheless, when
Redmond arrived in London he had been at once confronted with a demand
for modifications--of which the first were unimportant. Yet to consent
to any alteration was a sacrifice of principle; but he was told that
this concession would secure agreement in the Cabinet. Later, however,
came a public statement from Lord Lansdowne that "permanent and
enduring" structural alterations would be introduced into the Home Rule
Act. Redmond had seen the draft Bill in which the Government's draftsmen
embodied the terms of the agreement, and he had accepted this, as
conforming to his covenant. In reply to Lord Lansdowne, he had pressed
for the production of this Bill, but could not get it. The end was that,
after a Cabinet held on July 19th, he was told that "a number of new
proposals had been brought forward"; that the Cabinet did not desire to
consult him about these at all; and on the 22nd Mr. Lloyd George and Mr.
Herbert Samuel were instructed to convey to him the Cabinet's decision,
with an intimation that there would be no further discussion or
consultation. That decision was to make the exclusion of six counties
permanent, and to withdraw the provision for retaining Irish members at
full strength during the transitory period.

Redmond attacked no individual. His anger was beyond words. He said
this, however:

"Some tragic fatality seems to dog the footsteps of this Government in
all their dealings with Ireland. Every step taken by them since the
Coalition was formed, and especially since the unfortunate outbreak in
Dublin, has been lamentable. They have disregarded every advice we
tendered to them, and now in the end, having got us to induce our people
to make a tremendous sacrifice and to agree to the temporary exclusion
of these Ulster counties, they throw this agreement to the winds, and
they have taken the surest means to accentuate every possible danger and
difficulty in the Irish situation."

That day really finished the constitutional party and overthrew
Redmond's power. We had incurred the very great odium of accepting even
temporary partition--and a partition which, owing to this arbitrary
extension of area, could not be justified on any ground of principle; we
had involved with us many men who voted for that acceptance on the faith
of Redmond's assurance that the Government were bound by their written
word; and now we were thrown over.

Apart from the effect on Redmond's position, the result was to engender
in Ireland a temper which made settlement almost impossible. No British
Minister's word would in future be accepted for anything; and any
Irishman who attempted to improve relations between the countries was
certain to arouse anger and contempt in his countrymen.

More particularly the relations between Irish members and the most
powerful members of the Government were hopelessly embittered. Mr. Lloyd
George put aside completely--probably he never for a moment
entertained--the thought of seriously threatening resignation because
his agreement with the Irish was repudiated by his colleagues. He was
entirely engrossed with the work of the War Office, where he thought,
and was justified in thinking, himself indispensable. Mr. Asquith, whose
object was to keep unity in his Government at all costs, when it came
to a choice whether to quarrel with the Irish who formed no part of it,
or with the Unionists who were his colleagues, had no hesitation which
side to throw over.

I have never seen the House of Commons so thoroughly discontented and
disgusted. There was much genuine sympathy with Redmond. Sir Edward
Carson evidently shared it, and he made a conciliatory speech in which
he proposed that he and the Nationalist leader should shake hands on the
floor of the House. That is a gesture which comes better from the loser
than from the winner, and there was no doubt that Sir Edward Carson had
won. But he knew Ireland well enough to realize the meaning of his
victory, and his speech indicated disquiet and even horror at the
prospect before us. He was quite avowedly anxious to see a start made
with Home Rule, Ulster standing apart. In a later debate, when the
Government announced its intention to fill again the vacant Irish
offices (appointing Mr. Duke as Chief Secretary), Redmond referred
hopefully to this utterance of the Ulster leader and generally to "the
new and improved atmosphere which has surrounded this Irish question
quite recently."

The end of this speech dealt with one of the elements which had
contributed most to the improvement. In the great battle of the Somme,
which opened on July 1st, the Ulster Division went for the first time
into general action, and their achievement was the most glorious and the
most unlucky of that day. They carried their assault through five lines
of trenches, and, because a division on their flank was not equally
successful, were obliged to fall back, adding terribly in this
withdrawal to the desperate losses of their advance. Side by side with
them on the other flank was the Fourth Division, containing two
battalions of Dublin Fusiliers, in one of which John Redmond's son
commanded a company; so that he and the Ulstermen went over shoulder to
shoulder. He came back unwounded; all other company commanders in the
battalion were killed. The only thing in which Redmond was entirely
fortunate during these last years of his life was in his son's record
during the war.

Another Nationalist well known to the House of Commons served also in
the Dublin Fusiliers on the Somme, with a different fortune. Professor
Kettle, owing to conditions of health, had been unable to come to France
with the Sixteenth Division, and had been mainly employed in recruiting.
Now in these summer months he pushed hard to get out to France, though
he was not physically fit for the line. He got to France, and, as was
easy to foresee, broke down and was sent to work at the base on records:
but before he left his regiment he knew that it was under orders for a
general action, and he insisted that he should have leave to rejoin for
that day. He came back accordingly, found himself called on to take
command of a company, and led it with great gallantry, and on the second
day of action was shot dead. It was the fate that he expected; he, like
so many, had a forerunning assurance of his end. So was lost to Ireland
the most variously-gifted intelligence that I have ever known.

The Sixteenth Division were still on the sector about Loos, and their
casualties were heavy and continuous in the perpetual trench warfare.
With the last days of August they were withdrawn--for a rest, as they
believed at first; but their march was southwards to the Somme.

The purpose was to use them for an attack on Ginchy; but a shift of
arrangements brought the 47th Brigade into line against Guillemont and
its quarries, which had on six occasions been unsuccessfully attacked.
The Irish carried them. Three days later the whole division was launched
against Ginchy. They equalled the Ulstermen's valour, and were luckier
in the result. For these achievements praise was not stinted. Colonel
Repington in _The Times_ described the Irish as the "best missile
troops" in all the armies.


The deeds of Irish soldiers helped us greatly outside of Ireland; in
Ireland, the news was received with mingled feelings. There was
passionate resentment against the Government, and the question was
asked, For what were their men dying? Redmond's answer could not be so
confident as it would have been six months earlier. There were many who
said that he dare not face the country. His answer to this was given at
Waterford, where on October 6, 1916, his constituents received him with
their old loyalty--though now for the first time there were hostile
voices in the crowd. He spoke out very plainly, saying with justice that
in all his life he had never played to the gallery and would not now.
Things had to be looked at squarely.

"We have taken a leap back over generations of progress, and have
actually had a rebellion, with its inevitable aftermath of brutalities,
stupidities and inflamed passions."

He would impugn no man's motives, least of all the motives of the dead;
but those who had set this train of events in motion had been always the
enemies of the constitutional movement. The constitutional movement must
go on, he said; but it would be folly to pretend that it could go on as
if nothing had happened. Ireland must face its share in the
responsibility. But the real responsibility rested with the British

To establish this he entered on a review of the whole series of
circumstances, not omitting Ulster's preparations for civil war, and
stressing heavily the mischief that was done when Sir Edward Carson was
chosen "by strange irony" to be the First Law Officer of the Crown.

Passing from his review, he issued grave warning against the idea of
conscription: it would be resisted in every village and its attempted
enforcement would be a scandal which would ring through the world. For
Ireland also he had admonition. He had told them before that Home Rule
was an impregnable position. But "no fortress is impregnable unless the
garrison is faithful and united."

This, alas! was already a counsel of perfection for a country so deeply
divided in opinion as Nationalist Ireland had come to be. The old
loyalties had gone--and he felt it. Ending on a personal note, he
referred to his age: he was over sixty; he had done thirty-five years of
work which would have broken down any man less robust in constitution
than it had been his luck to be born. He believed in youth, he said, and
would gladly give way to younger men.

"But one thing I will not do while I have breath in my body. I will not
give way to the abuse and calumny and the falsehoods of men whom I have
known for long years as the treacherous enemies of Ireland."

With all his reticence, he was a sensitive man; and for months now he
could scarcely take up a newspaper, except his party's official organ,
without finding himself accused of imbecility, of idle vanity, of
corrupt bargaining, of every unworthy motive. Worse than all, he
realized the inherent weakness of his position. He told his hearers at
Waterford that the Irish party would not vary its attitude upon the war,
but that we should now become a regular and active opposition. He was
far too experienced not to be aware that during a war--and such a
war--he neither could nor would offer to the Government in power
opposition in the sense in which Nationalist Ireland would understand
the word.

But he took steps at once for raising the Irish question by a direct
vote of censure. On October 18th he moved:

"That the system of Government at present maintained in Ireland is
inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are fighting in
Europe, and has been mainly responsible for the recent unhappy events
and for the present state of feeling in that country."

His speech avoided all controversial reference to what had preceded the
war, but it reviewed with great power the long series of blunders,
beginning with the delay in putting the Home Rule Bill on the Statute
Book, and ending with the Cabinet's destruction of the agreement entered
into in June. Now, as the end of all, Dublin Castle, after the Prime
Minister's description of its hopeless breakdown, was set up again with
a Unionist Chief Secretary and a Unionist Attorney-General: with a
universal system of martial law in force throughout the country, and
with hundreds of interned men in prison on suspicion. He warned the
Government of the inevitable effect upon the flow of recruits for the
Irish Divisions; and in a passage which showed how close his attention
was to all this matter of recruitment, he pressed the War Office for
certain minor concessions to Irish sentiment which would help us to
maintain the Division that had so greatly distinguished itself at
Guillemont and Ginchy.

But the real pith of his speech was political in the larger sense. He
pressed upon the House the injury which England's interest was suffering
through the alienation of American opinion, and through the reflection
of Irish discontent in Australia; he pleaded for the withdrawal of
martial law. Nothing came of the debate, except a speech in which Mr.
Lloyd George admitted the "stupidities, which sometimes almost look like
malignancy," that were perpetrated at the beginning of recruiting in
Ireland. The Labour men and a few Liberals voted for our motion. But as
a menace to the Government it was negligible.

I was in France during the period of intrigue which followed, leading up
to the displacement of Mr. Asquith. When the change occurred, members of
Parliament who were serving were recalled by special summons. I found
Redmond in these days profoundly impressed with the strength of Mr.
Lloyd George's personal position. He was convinced that the new Premier
could, if he chose, force a settlement of the Irish difficulty, and was
very hopeful of this happening. Sir Edward Carson dared not, he thought,
set himself in opposition; at this moment the Ulster party was not
popular, while there was in the House a widespread feeling that Redmond
in particular had been treated in a manner far other than his due.
Another of his brother's interventions in debate gave an impetus to this

Again in a thin House, during some discussion on Estimates, Willie
Redmond got up and spoke out of the fullness of experiences which had
profoundly affected his imagination. He told the House of what he had
seen in Flanders, where the two Irish Divisions had at last been brought
into contact, so that the left of the Ulster line in front of
Ploegstreet touched the right of ours in front of Kemmel. It had always
been said that the two factions would fly at each other's throats: by a
score of happy detailed touches the soldier built up a picture of what
had actually happened in the line and behind the line, and then summed
it up in a conclusion:

"They came together in the trenches and they were friends. Get them
together on the floor of an Assembly, or where you will, in Ireland, and
a similar result will follow."

Then, from this theme, he passed to one even more moving--the fate of
Irish Nationalists, who were confronted daily with evil news of their
own land. "It is miserable to see men who went out with high hearts and
hopes, who have acquitted themselves so well, filled with wretchedness
because their country is in an unhappy condition." He appealed for a new
and genuine attempt to set all this right; and he eulogized once more
with warm eloquence the conduct of the troops, Ulstermen and the rest
alike. Raw lads, who eighteen months before had never thought of seeing
war, had come in before his eyes bringing prisoners by the hundreds from
the most highly trained soldiery in Europe.

Man after man, when Willie Redmond had ended, rose and thanked him; but
the most notable words came from Mr. Bonar Law:

"His name and his action, in connection with that of the leader of his
party, stand out as a landmark for all the people of this country as to
what is being done by those who represent Nationalist feeling."

All this increased Redmond's hopes of what might be expected from the
new Premier, the representative of another small nationality, whose
early days in Parliament had linked him almost more closely with Irish
Nationalists than with British Liberalism. I was on the upper bench when
Mr. Lloyd George came in, amid loud cheering. "Look at him," said Willie
Redmond (his senior in the House by ten years), who sat beside me: "It
seems only the other day he was sitting over here cheering like mad for
the Boers; and there he is now, Prime Minister."

But Mr. Lloyd George's speech, which had been deferred for several days
owing to illness, was long before it came to Ireland, and then its tone
was no way hopeful. He referred back to the negotiations of June and
July, with their "atmosphere of nervous suspicion and distrust,
pervasive, universal, of everything and everybody."

"I was drenched with suspicion of Irishmen by Englishmen and of
Englishmen by Irishmen and, worst of all, of Irishmen by Irishmen. It
was a quagmire of distrust which clogged the footsteps and made progress
impossible. That is the real enemy of Ireland."

No one could say that the transaction to which Mr. Lloyd George was
referring had helped to destroy distrust: and in view of the opinion
held by Irishmen--and not by Irishmen only--of Ministers' dealing with
Ireland, it was natural that this passage should provoke the resentment
which was evident in Redmond when he rose.

He followed Mr. Asquith, and made it clear that Ireland did not keep its
praises for the rising star. He commended in weighty words the
patriotism, the reticence and the magnanimity of the dispossessed
leader; he renewed Ireland's expression of gratitude for the service
done in the Home Rule Act; then, turning to the new power, he told Mr.
Lloyd George bluntly that his words would be received in Ireland with
the deepest disappointment. This was to be a Ministry of quick and
effective decisions; but so far as our question was concerned, they had
shown every disposition to wait and see. Was Ireland only to be let
drift? Two courses might be taken--the statesman's, of real remedy; the
politician's, of palliatives. Even of the latter nothing had been said.
Martial law could be removed; untried men could be released from jail.
Yet there was no sign. The Prime Minister intervened angrily. He had
been ill, he said. Redmond was in no way inclined to accept the reason
as sufficient, and again Mr. Lloyd George rose to say that it was "not
merely unfair, but a trifle impolitic" not to give him a couple of days
to consult with the Chief Secretary.

Still Redmond maintained his tone of aggression. A radical reform was
needed, and of those things that must be borne in mind the first was
that time was of the essence of success. Promptness was essential.
Secondly, Government must take the initiative themselves; they must not
seek to evade their responsibility by putting the blame on other
shoulders (this was his rejoinder to the allegation of paralysing
distrust); there was no use in resuming negotiations, going to this man
and to that man to see what he would be willing to take. Thirdly, the
problem must be approached by a different method; it must be dealt with
on lines of a united Ireland. The time had gone by, in effect, for any
proposals of partition, temporary or permanent.

He added a caution that there must be no attempt to mix up the problem
of an Irish settlement with conditions about recruiting or conscription.
"That question must be left to a change of heart in Ireland." In
conclusion he expressed to the House of Commons--though in no sanguine
accents--what he had expressed to me a fortnight earlier in private
talk: his belief that the time was "ripe for drastic, decided and bold
action" by the Prime Minister. Powerful influences were at Mr. Lloyd
George's back--in the Press of all parties, in the opinion of leading
men of all parties. Three-quarters of the House of Commons, Redmond
said, would welcome such action: the whole of the overseas Dominions
would be for it; and it would have "the sympathy of all men of good will
in the Empire."

For the first time I noticed lack of cordiality in the response of the
House--not from want of agreement, but from a profound depression. The
old temper of bickering had revived, especially between some of our
party and those who disagreed with them. One was glad to get back to
France for Christmas, even in that grim winter.

When I was invalided back in February, I found that things had not stood
still in Ireland. Redmond's suggested palliative had been applied, and
the deported persons were let back home for Christmas. But this produced
little easing of the situation, and within a few weeks Government
rearrested several of them.

One, however, Count Plunkett, was still in Ireland when a vacancy
occurred in Roscommon. He was not in himself a likely man to appeal to
that constituency. He had been an applicant for the Under-Secretaryship
at Dublin Castle, and was therefore clearly not a person of extreme
Nationalist views. But one of his sons, a young poet, had been among the
signatories to the proclamation of an Irish Republic, and had paid for
it with his life; Count Plunkett stood really as the father of his son.
He was returned by a very large majority. This was the first open defeat
inflicted by the physical force men on the Constitutional party since
the beginning of Parnell's day.

In March, Redmond desired to bring the Irish question again before
Parliament, and Mr. T.P. O'Connor introduced a motion calling on the
House "without further delay to confer upon Ireland the free
institutions long promised her."

That debate will always be remembered by those who heard it for one
speech. Willie Redmond was among the oldest members of the Parliamentary
party; not half a dozen men in all the House had been longer
continuously members; he had always been one of the most popular figures
at Westminster and in Ireland; and he had always spoken a great deal.
Yet he had never been in the front rank either as a speaker or as a
politician. The humour and the wit which made him the joy of groups in
the smoking-room on the occasions when he was in full vein of
reminiscence never got into his set speeches--though no man oftener lit
up debate with some telling interruption. He was often merely
rhetorical; he had the name--though in my experience he never deserved
it--for being indiscreetly vehement. His early reputation, which he had
never lived down, is not unkindly represented by a story which he used
to tell against himself. When the first Home Rule Bill was introduced he
had a great desire to speak in the debate, and went to Parnell with his
request. "Will you promise," said Parnell, "that you will write out what
you are going to say, and show it to me, and say that and no more?" He
promised, and handed in his manuscript. Days went by and he heard
nothing, so he went back to the Chief. "Ah yes," said Parnell, "I have
it in my pocket. An excellent speech, my dear Willie. If I were you I
shouldn't waste it on the House of Commons. It's too good for them."

Later, in the days from 1906 onwards, with all his experience, it cannot
be said that he ever affected opinion in the House. What he said was the
common stuff of argument: it was all what someone else might have
said--until the war came. Then, he was a changed creature. He went
through in the Army the same experience as hundreds of other members of
Parliament; but he and he only seemed to have got the very soul out of
it. He took to his soldier's duty as a religion: he saw all that
concerned him in the light of it. It has been told already how his two
speeches on almost casual occasions affected public feeling: but in them
he was chiefly an Irish member of Parliament speaking about soldiers and
about Irish soldiers. In this debate he was an Irish soldier pleading
with Parliament for Ireland in the name of Irish soldiers--who had
responded to the call to arms because, as he said, they were led to
believe that a new and better and brighter chapter was about to open in
the relations of Great Britain and Ireland.

"I do not believe that there is a single member of any party in this
House who is prepared to get up and say that in the past the government
and treatment of Ireland by Great Britain have been what they should
have been. Mistakes, dark, black, and bitter mistakes, have been made. A
people denied justice, a people with many admitted grievances, the
redress of which has been long delayed. On our side, perhaps, in the
conflict and in the bitterness of contest, there may have been things
said and done, offensive if you will, irritating if you will, to the
people of this country; but what I want to ask, in all simplicity, is
this, whether, in face of the tremendous conflict which is now raging,
whether, in view of the fact that, apart from every other consideration,
the Irish people, South as well as North, are upon the side of the
Allies and against the German pretension to-day, it is not possible from
this war to make a new start?--whether it is not possible on your side,
and on ours as well, to let the dead past bury its dead, and to commence
a brighter and a newer and a friendlier era between the two countries?
Why cannot we do it? Is there an Englishman representing any party who
does not yearn for a better future between Ireland and Great Britain?
There is no Irishman who is not anxious for it also. Why cannot there be
a settlement? Why must it be that, when British soldiers and Irish
soldiers are suffering and dying side by side, this eternal old quarrel
should go on?....

"If there ought to be an oblivion of the past between Great Britain and
Ireland generally, may I ask in God's name the First Lord of the
Admiralty [Sir Edward Carson] why there cannot be a similar oblivion of
the past between the warring sections in Ireland? All my life I have
taken as strong and as strenuous a part on the Nationalist side as my
poor abilities would allow. I may have been as bitter and as strong in
the heated atmosphere of party contests against my countrymen in the
North as ever they have been against me, but I believe in my soul and
heart here to-day that I represent the instinct and the desire of the
whole Irish Catholic race when I say that there is nothing that they
more passionately desire and long for than that there should be an end
of this old struggle between the North and the South.

"The followers of the right honourable gentleman the First Lord of the
Admiralty should shake hands with the rest of their countrymen. I appeal
to the right honourable gentleman here in the name of men against whom
no finger of scorn can be pointed; in the name of men who are doing
their duty; in the name of men who have died; in the name of men who may
die, and who at this very moment may be dying, to rise to the demands of
the situation. I ask him to meet his Nationalist fellow-countrymen and
accept the offer which they make to him and his followers, and on the
basis of that self-government which has made, and which alone has made,
the Empire as strong as it is to-day, come to some arrangement for the
better government of Ireland in the future.

"Why does the right honourable gentleman opposite not meet us half way?
I want to know what is the reason. It surely cannot be that the right
honourable gentleman and his friends believe that under a system of
self-government they would have anything to fear. Nothing impressed me
more than the opinion I heard expressed by a high-placed Roman Catholic
officer who is in service with the Ulster Division, when he told me of
his experience there, and when he said that although he was the only one
of the Catholic religion in that Division, it had dawned upon him that
they certainly were Irishmen and were not Englishmen or Scotsmen.[8] The
right honourable gentleman knows perfectly well that it would not take
so very much to bring his friends and our friends together, and I ask
him why the attempt is not made? I ask him whether the circumstances of
the time do not warrant that such an attempt should be made? I ask him
whether he does not know in his inmost heart that it would bring to the
common enemy more dismay and consternation than the destruction of a
hundred of their submarines if they knew that England, Scotland and
Ireland were really united, not merely within the confines of the shores
of these islands, but united in every part of the world where the Irish
people are to be found?

"What is it that stands in the way of Ireland taking her place as a
self-governing part of this Empire? Ireland is the only portion of the
Empire now fighting which is not self-governing. The Australians whom I
meet from time to time point to their government being free; the
Canadians and the New Zealanders do the same, and we Irishmen are the
only units in France to-day taking our part in the war who are obliged
to admit that the country we come from is denied those privileges which
have made the Empire the strong organization which it is to-day. If
safeguards are necessary--I speak only for myself, and I do not speak
for anybody else on these benches, because I have been away from this
House so long that I have almost lost touch with things--as far as my
own personal opinion goes, there is nothing I would not do, and there is
no length to which I would not go, in order to meet the real objections
or to secure the real confidence, friendship and affection of my
countrymen in the North of Ireland.

"For my own part, I would gladly, if it would ease the situation, agree
to an arrangement whereby it might be possible for His Majesty the King,
if he so desired, to call in someone at the starting of a new Irish
government, a gentleman representing the portion of the country and the
section of the community which the First Lord represents; and if a
representative of that kind were placed with his hand upon the helm of
the first Irish Parliament, I, at any rate, as far as I am concerned,
would give him the loyal and the strong support which I have given to
every leader I have supported in this House. After all, these are times
of sacrifice, and every man is called upon to make some sacrifices. Men
and women and children alike have to do something in these days, and is
it too much to appeal to the right honourable gentleman and his friends
to sacrifice some part of their position in order to lead the majority
of their countrymen and to bring about that which the whole
English-speaking world desires, namely, a real reconciliation of
Ireland? I apologize for having detained the House so long, but this is
a matter upon which I feel strongly, and I feel all the more strongly
about it because I know that I am trying altogether too feebly, but as
strongly as I can, to represent what I know to be the wishes nearest to
the hearts of tens of thousands of Irishmen who went with me and their
colleagues to France, many of whom will never return, all of whom are
suffering the privations and the hardship and the risk and the wellnigh
intolerable circumstances of life in France. I want to speak for these
men, and if they could all speak with one voice and with one accord,
they would say to this House, to men in every part of it, to
Conservatives, Liberals and Labour men, to their Nationalist countrymen
and to their countrymen from the North of Ireland: In the name of God,
we here who are about to die, perhaps, ask you to do that which largely
induced us to leave our homes; to do that which our fathers and mothers
taught us to long for; to do that which is all we desire: make our
country happy and contented, and enable us, when we meet the Canadians
and the Australians and the New Zealanders side by side in the common
cause and the common field, to say to them, 'Our country, just as yours,
has self-government within the Empire.'"

I have given the speech almost in full as it stands in print after the
opening paragraph. But I cannot give the effect of what was heard by a
densely crowded House in absolute silence. It was not an argument; it
was an appeal. There was not a cheer, not a murmur of agreement. They
were not needed, they would have been felt an impertinence, so great was
the respect and the sympathy. As the speaker stood there in war-stained
khaki, his hair showed grey, his face was seamed with lines, but there
was in every word the freshness and simplicity of a nature that age had
not touched. In his usual place on the upper bench beside his brother,
he poured out his words with the flow and passion of a bird's song. He
was out of the sphere of argument; but the whole experience of a long
and honourable lifetime was vibrant in that utterance. He spoke from his
heart. All that had gone to make his faith, all the inmost convictions
of his life were implicit--and throughout all ran the sense in the
assembly who heard him, not only that he had risked, but that he was
eager to give his life for proof. It was not strange that this should be
so, for he was going on what he believed would be his last journey to
France; and when he reached the supreme moment of his passion with the
words "In the name of God, we here who are about to die, perhaps," the
last word was little more than a concession to the conventions.

It was a speech, in short, that made one believe in impossibilities; but
in Parliament no miracles happen. Mr. Lloyd George replied, as John
Redmond expected--declaring that the Government were willing to give
Home Rule at once to "the parts of Ireland which unmistakably demand
it," but would be no party to placing under Nationalist rule people who
were "as alien in blood, in religious faith, in traditions, in outlook
from the rest of Ireland as the inhabitants of Fife or Aberdeen." No
Liberal Minister had ever before so completely adopted the Ulster theory
of two nations. Taxed with the refusal to allow Ulster counties to
declare by vote which group they belonged to, he declined to discuss
"geographical limitations" at present, but indicated that if Irish
members could accept the principle of separate treatment for two
peoples, there were "ways and means by which it could be worked out."
Suggestion of a Conference of Irishmen was thrown out, or of a
Commission to discuss the details of partition. Redmond, in replying,
answered to this that "after experience of the last negotiations he
would enter into no more negotiations." He warned the Government that
the whole constitutional movement was in danger. There were in Ireland
"serious men, men of ability, men with command of money," who were bent
on smashing it.

"After fifty years of labour on constitutional lines we had practically
banished the revolutionary party from Ireland. Now again, after fifty
years, it has risen."

The rest was a prophecy only too accurate:

"If the constitutional movement disappears, the Prime Minister will find
himself face to face with a revolutionary movement, and he will find it
impossible to preserve any of the forms even of constitutionalism. He
will have to govern Ireland by the naked sword. I cannot picture to
myself a condition of things in which the Prime Minister, with his
record behind him, would be an instrument to carry out a government of
that kind.... I say this plainly. No British statesman, no matter what
his platonic affection for Home Rule may have been in the past, no
matter what party he may belong to, who by his conduct once again
teaches the Irish people the lesson that any National leader who, taking
his political life in his hands, endeavours to combine local and
Imperial patriotism--endeavours to combine loyalty to Ireland's rights
with loyalty to the Empire--anyone who again teaches the lesson that
such an one is certain to be let down and betrayed by this course, is
guilty of treason, not only to the liberties of Ireland but to the unity
and strength and best interests of this Empire."

After these bitter words he called on his colleagues not "to continue a
useless and humiliating debate," but to withdraw from the House: and we
accordingly followed him into the lobby. In our absence the discussion
continued, in a tone not flattering to the Government. It was remarkable
for one utterance from Mr. Healy, concerning Redmond:

"I wish to say at the outset that in my opinion this Empire owes him a
debt of gratitude which it can never repay, and I wish also to say of
him as an opponent that in my opinion, if his advice had been taken by
the War Office, it is absolutely true, as he contends, that you would
have marshalled in Ireland from two hundred thousand to three hundred
thousand men, from whom large drafts could have been drawn; and I will
further say I believe if his advice had been taken the elements of
rebellion would have been appeased."

It was plain that matters could not stay at this point; but our breach
with the Government was complete for the moment. Redmond's demand was
for a full and definite statement of policy, which should be made in
the House of Commons and there discussed. On May 15th Mr. Bonar Law
announced that the Prime Minister would make a communication to the
leaders of Irish parties. It was explained that this method of outlining
the proposals would be only preliminary to discussion.

On that evening a great banquet to General Smuts was given in the House
of Lords by Parliament. Strong pressure was used with Redmond to attend
it, and he consented unwillingly. He was ill--physically ill, probably
with the beginnings of his fatal disease--and morally sick at heart and
out of hope. Another Irish election in South Longford had been
strenuously fought by the party and had been won by the Sinn Feiner; a
decisive factor in the election was the issue of a letter from
Archbishop Walsh which grossly misrepresented Redmond's whole policy and
action. He was in no humour for banquetings, and at this moment the
Irish party was nearly back at its old attitude, which dictated a
refusal to have part or lot with the House on such ceremonial
occasions.[9] But Redmond's feeling for South Africa was specially
strong, his feeling about the war was unchanged; and this was a
recognition of a great South African statesman's services in the war. He
let himself be persuaded into accepting.

At the dinner he sat next to a Liberal peer, a member of the late
Government, who talked with him of Irish possibilities. Redmond did not
know what the Government intended. He was told, now, that the Government
had written a letter to him and to Sir Edward Carson setting out plainly
an offer for the immediate introduction of Home Rule with the exclusion
of the six counties.

Redmond said: "It is impossible that we should accept; nothing can come
of it." He was asked then what hope he saw. He answered, as he had for
some time been saying in private, that the only chance lay in a
Conference or Convention of Irishmen; but it must include everybody, and
in no sense be limited to discussion between the Irish party and the
Unionists. The Liberal peer expressed great interest and proved it in
action. Next morning he was with Redmond by ten o'clock, and got his
view in writing that it might be placed before the Cabinet, who were to
meet at eleven to decide finally the terms of their letter.

As a result of this intervention, the letter, instead of containing a
single proposal, offered two alternatives: the second was so oddly
tacked on that many at the time said it read like a postscript. So, in
point of fact, it was. That was the genesis of the Irish Convention.

His son, from whom I know this, said to me that more than once, when
things were hopeful in the Convention, Redmond said to him, "What a
lucky thing it was I went to that dinner!"


[Footnote 7: The Admiralty do not appear to have communicated their
information to Dublin Castle.]

[Footnote 8: This might mislead. The exclusively Protestant character of
the Ulster Division was not maintained in France, and it came to include
many Catholic Irishmen in the rank and file and not a few among the
officers--all in equal comradeship.--S.G.]

[Footnote 9: We had never been parties, for instance, to receptions of
Prime Ministers from the overseas Dominions, even when they were our
close friends and supporters.]




The Longford election had in reality been not merely a symptom, but an
event of great importance. It was a notice of dismissal to the
Parliamentary party. There was no reason to suppose anything specially
unfavourable to us in the local conditions. Neither candidate made a
special appeal to the electors; nor was the constituency in any sense a
stronghold of Sinn Fein. The fact was that the country as a whole had
ceased to believe in the Parliamentary party as an efficient machine for
obtaining the national ends. The organization of the United Irish League
had lost touch with the young; the main support we had lay in the
Ancient Order of Hibernians, which many Nationalists disliked on
principle because it was limited to Catholics. What had riot yet
disappeared up till July 1916, though it was threatened, was belief in
the principle of constitutional action as against revolutionary methods.

Willie Redmond, who never lacked instinct, and whose separation from
party politics by conditions of service gave him a vantage-ground of
detachment, reached a shrewd view of the position before the Longford
vacancy occurred. He pressed upon his brother that we should all retire,
saying plainly that we had been too long in possession, and should hand
over the task of representing Ireland at Westminster to younger men. His
association with the Volunteer Committee, brief though it was, had made
him more aware than most of our colleagues how wide was the
estrangement between us and the new Ireland; but it also taught him to
believe that many of the men whom he had met there would be willing to
take up the task on constitutional lines.

This proposal never came before the party. But after Longford had given
its decision, it was proposed that we should accept the verdict in
general and resign in a body. Those who put forward the suggestion felt
that some drastic action was needed to force upon Ireland the
responsibility for a clear choice between the two courses,
constitutional and unconstitutional. Redmond, as Chairman, advised
strongly against this. He said that it would be a lack of courage: that
one defeat or two defeats should not turn us from our course. But it is
clear to me that he welcomed the Convention as another and a better
means of effecting the same end--of replacing the existing Parliamentary
party by another body of men.

On May 21st Mr. Lloyd George's speech gave the go-by completely to the
detailed proposal for a settlement on the basis of partition to which
the Cabinet--including Sir Edward Carson--had consented. It dealt only
with the alternative plan suggested in the conclusion of the published
letter. The Government had decided to invite Irishmen to put forward
their own proposals for the government of their country, he said. This
invitation was directed to a Convention not merely of political parties,
although they must all be represented--the followers of Redmond, of Mr.
O'Brien, the Ulster Unionists, the Southern Unionists, "and he hoped
also the Sinn Feiners as well." But in the main it was to consist of
"representatives of the local governing bodies, of the Churches, of the
trade unions, of the commercial interests, of educational interests"; it
was to be "a real representation of Irish life and activity in all their
leading branches." It was to be pledged in advance to no
conclusions--except one, and that was only indicated by implication. "If
substantial agreement should be reached as to the character and scope
of the Constitution for the future government of Ireland within the
Empire" (these three words were the limitation), Government would
"accept the responsibility for taking all the necessary steps to enable
the Imperial Parliament to give legislative effect to the conclusions of
the Convention."

A recommendation was added, amounting to a direction, that the
Convention should sit with closed doors and publish nothing of its
proceedings till their conclusion.

Nothing was said to define the all-important words "substantial
agreement." But the Prime Minister laid grave emphasis on the importance
of a settlement for the purpose of the war. The limitation upon Ulster's
claim was plainly conceived by him to lie in Ulster's sense of an
Imperial necessity. "The Empire cannot afford uncured sores that sap its
vigour. The entire strength of Great Britain and the whole-hearted
support of Ireland are essential to victory." He appealed "to Irishmen
of all faiths, political and religious, and especially to the patriotic
spirit of Ulster, to help by healing."

Redmond, in following him, assumed that there would be concurrence from
all sections of Irishmen. It must be "a free assembly"--no proposal must
be barred in advance: it must be representative of "every class, creed
and interest"--and in recapitulating these, he added the Irish peers. In
regard to political parties and bodies, as such, he desired a very
limited representation. The United Irish League, "the militant official
organization of the Irish party," should be unrepresented, and he
advised the same in regard to other purely political organizations and
societies. For the Irish party itself he asked a representation only
equal in number to that given to Irish Unionists. The Cork Independents
must have what they considered a full and adequate number; and for Sinn
Fein he asked "a generous representation."

Then he added:

"So anxious am I that no wreckers, mere wreckers, should go on that
body--I do not believe any men would go on as wreckers, but any men who
would be regarded by their opponents as going on it as wreckers--that on
the question of personalities, I would be very glad, if there are
protagonists on one side or the other who during the last twenty or
thirty years or more have been engaged in the struggle and who--there
have been faults on both sides--have done things and said things which
have left bitter memories, I should be very glad that such men should be
left off. If there were any feeling that I am such a man myself, I would
be only too willing and happy to stand down" (he was interrupted by
cries of "No, No") "if by doing so I could promote harmony."

In this there was a genuine expression of the desire which governed his
whole conduct in the Convention, to get away from the old lines with
their old traditional antagonisms, and refer the solution not to Irish
politicians but to Ireland as a whole. What followed in his speech gave
positive development to the self-denying ordinance which he had proposed
for the party machines. He asked for a nominated element--first, to make
sure that men obviously suitable, who none the less might not happen to
be elected, should find a place: and secondly, to increase still further
the Unionist representation.

He added once more a plea for quick action; dilatoriness had had much to
do, he said, with the Government's late failures in Ireland. But, if
prompt steps were taken on the path outlined, he would, in spite of all
that had come and gone, face the new venture with good heart. Yet even
in his confidence there was the pathetic accent of one who feels need to
bid defiance to despair.

"Although I know I lay myself open perhaps to ridicule as too sanguine a
prophet, I have some assured hope that the result may be blessed for
Ireland as for the Empire. ... The life of a politician, especially of
an Irish politician, is one long series of postponements and compromises
and disappointments and disillusions.... Many of our cherished ideals,
our ideals of complete, speedy and almost immediate triumph of our
policy and of our cause, have faded, some of them almost disappeared.
And we know that it is a serious consideration for those of us who have
spent forty years at this work and now are growing old, if we have to
face further postponements. For my part, I feel we must not shrink from
compromise. If by this Convention which is now proposed we can secure
substantial agreement amongst our people in Ireland, it will be worth
all the heartburnings and postponements and disappointments and
disillusions of the last thirty or forty years."

The omens were not favourable to this storm-beaten courage. When he sat
down, Sir John Lonsdale rose to reiterate on behalf of the Ulster
Unionists that they "could not and would not be driven into a Home Rule
Parliament"--and that they relied absolutely on the pledges that they
should not be coerced. Mr. William O'Brien followed. After years of
advocating settlement by conference among Irishmen, he condemned this
proposal as coming six or seven years too late, and as defective in its
machinery, in that it proposed a large body of men: "A dozen Irishmen of
the right stamp" would be the proper Conference; and the proposal of
partition should be barred out in advance. If the experiment were tried
now and failed, the failure would "kill any reasonable hope in our time
of reconstructing the constitutional movement upon honest lines."
Ireland is always fruitful in Cassandras who do not lack power to assist
in the fulfilment, of their ill-bodings, and this speech foreshadowed
Mr. O'Brien's intention to abstain. Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Devlin
gave the debate a more promising tone: but it was difficult for anybody
to be sanguine.

Preparation, discussion, went on in private and in public. It was soon
indicated that Sinn Fein would take no part, on the double ground,
first, that the Convention was not elective in any democratic sense, for
all the representatives of local bodies had been elected before the
war, before the rebellion, before the new movement took hold in Ireland;
and secondly, that it was committed in advance to a settlement within
the Empire. On the other hand, Redmond was flooded with correspondence
concerning candidates for membership of the new body. There was also the
question of a meeting-place. The Royal College of Surgeons offered its
building with its theatre, possessing admirable facilities. But Trinity
College offered the Regent House. The conveniences here were in all ways
inferior; but Trinity was the nearest place to the old Parliament House;
much more than that, it was the most historic institution in Ireland.
Its political associations of the past and the present were strangely
blended and Redmond liked it none the less for that. He decided to press
for acceptance of this offer.

Then across the current of all our thought came the news of the Battle
of Messines. Troops had been massing for some time on the sector of line
which the Irish Divisions had now held since the previous October; and
the day was plainly in sight which had been expected since spring, when
they were to try and carry positions in front of which so much blood had
been vainly shed. On June 7th, at the clearing of light, all was in
readiness: the Ulstermen and ours still in the centre of the attack from
Spanbroekmolen to Wytschaete. Just before the moment fixed, men could
see clearly: in half a minute all was blotted out. The eighteen huge
land-mines in whose shafts our second line had been so often billeted
were now at last exploded and the sky was full of powdered earth, with
God knows what other fragments. In that darkness the troops went over.

For once staff-work and execution harmonized perfectly; the success was
complete, and the sacrifice small. The Irish raced for their positions,
and no one could say who was first on the goal. News of the victory
quickly reached London--great news for Ireland. Australians and New
Zealanders had their full share in it, but the shoulder to shoulder
advance of the two Irish Divisions caught everyone's imagination: it was
Ireland's day.

Then came through the message that Willie Redmond had fallen.

Ever since his illness in the previous summer he had been taken away
from his work as company commander; at his age--fifty-six--he was
probably the oldest man in any capacity with the Division. A post was
found for him on General Hickie's divisional staff which made him
specially responsible for the comforts of the men, in trenches and out
of trenches. In the battles on the Somme he entreated hard to be let
rejoin his battalion, but General Hickie issued peremptory orders which
did not allow him to pass the first dressing-station. Here, indeed, he
was under terrible shell fire and saw many of his comrades struck down;
but he was not content. For this new battle he insisted that he must be
in the actual advance. If he were refused leave, he said he would break
all discipline and take it. He was permitted to be with the third
attacking wave; but he slipped forward and joined the first, on the
right, where the line touched the Ulstermen. So it happened that when he
fell, struck by two rifle bullets, the stretcher-bearers who helped him
and carried him down to the dressing-station were those of an Ulster
regiment. He was brought back to the hospital in the convent at Locre,
familiar to all of us by many memories; for the nuns kept a restaurant
for officers in the refectory, and he and I had dined there more than
once with leading men of the Ulster Division. His wounds were not grave;
but he had overtaxed himself, and in a few hours he succumbed to shock.
It was the death that he had foreseen, that he had almost desired--a
death that many might have envied him. He had said more than once since
the rebellion that he thought he could best serve Ireland by dying; and
in the sequel, so deep was the impression left by his death that it
seemed at times as if his thought had been true.

Yet one aspect of it was overlooked by many--the loss inflicted on his
brother, the Irish leader. It was not merely that Redmond lost the sole
near kinsman of his generation; he lost in him the closest of those
comrades who had been allied with him in all the stages of his life's
fight. The veterans of the old party had been vanishing rapidly from the
scene; name succeeded name quickly on our death-roll. This death left
Redmond lonely, and sorely stricken in his affections. But it did more.
It deprived him of a counsellor, and perhaps the only counsellor he had
who temperamentally shared his own point of view. More especially now in
the war, when the leader's wisdom in giving the lead which he had given
began to be gravely questioned even by his own supporters, it was
invaluable for him to have backing from one who had taken the war as
part of his life's creed--who knew no hesitancies, no reserves in his
conviction that the right course had been followed, for the right thing
was to do the right. Finally and chiefly, Willie Redmond was the only
man who could break through his brother's constitutional reserve and
could force him into discussion. In the months that were to come such a
man was badly needed. The loss of him meant to John Redmond a loss of
personal efficiency. Sorrow gave a strong grip to depression on a
brooding mind which had always a proneness to melancholy, which was now
linked with a sick body, and which lived among disappointments and grief
and the sense of rancorous dislike in men who once thought it a
privilege to cheer him on his passing.

Add to all this that Redmond's one hope for Ireland now lay in the
Convention, and that he collated with good reason on his soldier
brother's influence there--as no man could fail to do who had seen the
effect which his last speech produced upon the House of Commons.

No doubt, however, part of the service which Willie Redmond rendered to
Ireland in dying lay in the sympathy which he conciliated to his
leader--in whom men saw, rightly, not only his nearest kinsman, but the
representative of the principles for which the soldier-politician died.
The sympathy was genuine and it was widespread; yet so reserved was John
Redmond that few, I think, guessed how deeply the blow had struck home.
Still less did they realize how much was meant by the bereavement which
followed immediately. Pat O'Brien, who had been through all vicissitudes
the faithful and devoted helper of his friend and leader, was suddenly
prostrated by a stroke. He came down to the House again; he could not
keep away from the place of his duty, where for a quarter of a century
he had scarcely missed one division in a hundred, where he had kept
watch for Redmond like the most trusty sheep-dog; but death was written
over him and it came in a few days. He was the one friend, I believe,
whom Redmond would have taken with him to Aughavanagh after Willie
Redmond's death. Now, Aughavanagh, which had been a place of rest, was a
place of intense loneliness. Yet to Aughavanagh Redmond had withdrawn
himself, like a wounded creature; and from Aughavanagh he came to Dublin
for Pat O'Brien's funeral in Glasnevin. Then, and then only in his
lifetime people saw him publicly break down; he had to be led away from
the grave.

Meanwhile, he was beset by ceaseless correspondence concerning the
numbers and composition of the assembly to which the British Government
on his suggestion had decided to entrust so great a charge. But a
startling political event indicated only too plainly how much belated
that decision had been.

Directly the proposal for a Convention had been disclosed, with its
attempt to create a new atmosphere, it was put to the Government that
Sinn Fein could not be expected to take part in the Convention while its
leaders were in jail or under detention as suspects. This
representation came from several quarters, and it was soon publicly
pleaded by the Nationalist party; but it was, to my knowledge,
immediately put forward by English members of Parliament, the prime
mover being a Unionist soldier, Major J.W. Hills, M.P. As usual, the
advantage of prompt action was urged; and as visual, the concession was
delayed till it had lost its grace and seemed to be extracted. Sinn
Fein's opinion in all these days was hardening against the Convention,
which was represented as a mere trick to gain time and to conciliate
American good will by an unreal offer.

When the prisoners were released, a new personage immediately came into
the public eye. It was certain that one of them would be nominated to
contest the vacancy in East Clare left by Willie Redmond's death; the
choice fell on Mr. de Valera; and the world learnt that in these months
while the imprisoned Sinn Feiners had been discussing their plans for
the future--for the right of association as political prisoners had been
conceded to them--this young man had been recognized by his fellows as
the leading spirit. Ireland as a whole knew nothing of him. He was the
son of a Southern American and a county Limerick woman; scholarly, a
keen Gaelic Leaguer, by profession a teacher of mathematics. In the
rebellion he had held Boland's bakery, a large building covering the
approaches to Dublin from Kingstown by rail; he had been the last of the
leaders to surrender, and had earned high opinions by his conduct in
these operations. This was the Sinn Fein candidate for East Clare--a
county where "extreme" men had always been numerous.

The view was expressed that he should have been opposed by one who took
up the cause where Willie Redmond left it--by a soldier who was a strong
Nationalist and strongly identified with the Parnellite tradition. It
was decided that we should stand a better chance if constitutional
Nationalism were represented by a Dublin lawyer with close personal ties
to the constituency. How it would have gone had a soldier been put up,
no man can say; but it could not have gone worse. Mr. de Valera won by a
majority of five thousand. He was a stranger, but he stood for an ideal.
The alternative ideal--which was John Redmond's and Willie
Redmond's--had never been put before the electors. The election was,
rightly, taken as a repudiation of Redmond's policy; but in it Redmond's
policy had gone undefended.

The newly elected Sinn Fein leader was very prominent in these days, and
a good deal of his eloquence was spent in ridicule of the Convention.
That body was certainly starting its task under the most unpromising


The first meeting was fixed for July 25. On the evening before, Redmond
came up and there was an informal discussion between the Nationalist
members of Parliament and the Catholic Bishops. There were four of each
group. Five members had been allowed to the party and as many to the
Ulstermen. Redmond was not present at the meeting when selection was
made, but he recommended a list, consisting in addition to himself of
Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin, and Mr. Clancy, K.C.--the latter having been
always his most trusted adviser in all points of draftsmanship and
constitutional law. My name was added in the place which should have
been his brother's, as representing Irish troops.

Mr. Dillon, however, thought it better not to serve, though Redmond
pressed him very strongly to do so. He considered he could best help the
Convention from outside its ranks. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy had, on
different grounds, come to the same conclusion, so that we lacked the
assistance of three commanding personalities in Irish life, though we
were thereby freed from some dangers of personal friction. A vacant
place was thus left in our five, and since the Ulster party had decided
to put in only two members of Parliament, filling the other places with
local men, it was thought well that we should take a similar
representative, Mr. Harbison, who spoke for the county of Tyrone.

Of the four representatives of the hierarchy, Archbishop Harty of Cashel
had always been a downright outspoken supporter of the Parliamentary
party. He had publicly denounced the rebellion both on civil and on
moral grounds. But he had never been prominently concerned with
political affairs as such; nor had the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr.
MacRory, a man young for his office and not long in it. He had been
chosen, no doubt, to guard the special interests of Catholicism in the
north-east corner. The others were of a very different stamp; no two in
Ireland had a better right to the name of statesmen. Dr. O'Donnell, the
Bishop of Raphoe, had been for many years officially one of the
treasurers of the United Irish League. Since the foundation of the
Congested Districts Board, he had been one of its members, and served on
the Dudley Commission which inquired into these regions. His native
Donegal could show the traces of his influence in applying remedial
measures to what was once its terrible poverty. Dr. Kelly, the Bishop of
Ross, came from the extreme south of the same western coast-line; a keen
student of finance and economics, he had been a member of the Primrose
Committee on Financial Relations, and, before that, of Lord George
Hamilton's Commission on the Poor Law. His repute was great in his own
order and outside his own order. In any assembly these two brains would
have been distinguished.

The question which was discussed among us chiefly on that evening
concerned the choice of a chairman. Government had originally proposed
to nominate this all-important officer, but having failed to solve the
interminable difficulties, had left it to the assembly. Much trouble was
anticipated by the public. On the whole, our conclusion pointed, but not
decisively, to the choice which was eventually made. Redmond swept aside
peremptorily the suggestion of himself.

Next day we assembled--some ninety persons. The main bulk consisted of
local representatives--thirty-one chairmen of County Councils, one only
having declined to serve. Two of these, Mr. O'Dowd and Mr. Fitzgibbon,
were members of our party. There were eight representatives of the Urban
Councils, over and above the Lord Mayors of Dublin, Belfast and Cork and
the Mayor of Derry. Labour had seven representatives, one of whom, Mr.
Lundon, representing the Agricultural Labourers' Union of the South, was
an Irish member of Parliament. One was a railway operative from Dublin;
one a Catholic Trade-Unionist leader from Derry; the remaining four came
from Belfast. Organized labour in Dublin and the Southern towns had
endorsed Sinn Féin's attitude and declined to recognize the Convention.

The Southern Unionist Group was led by Lord Midleton; with him were
Lords Mayo and Oranmore, representing the Irish peers. The Irish
Unionist Alliance had sent Mr. Stewart, a great land-agent, and Mr.
Andrew Jameson (whose name, as someone said, was "a household word
written in letters of gold throughout Ireland"). The Chambers of
Commerce had their representatives from Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

In the Ulster group, Mr. Barrie, M.P., acted as leader, Lord Londonderry
as secretary. Of the rest, Sir George Clark, chairman of Workman and
Clark's great shipbuilding yard, had been known to us in Parliament. A
Scot by birth, with a life of thirty years spent in Belfast, during
which time he had seen his business grow from two hundred hands to ten
thousand, he knew nothing of Ireland but Belfast, and had no trace of
Irish feeling. In this he stood alone; but unhappily no man carried more
weight in Belfast--with the possible exception of one whom few of us
outside Ulster knew before we came to that body. Mr. Alexander McDowell
was a solicitor by profession, the adviser of policy to all the business
men of Belfast. From the first day of our meeting he stood out by sheer
weight of brain and personality. He was to some of us the surprise of
that assembly, and made us realize how little part we had in Ulster when
the existence of such a man could be an unknown factor to us.

Mr. Pollock, President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, was also new
to us, and was destined to play a prominent part in our affairs. With
the Catholic prelates sat the two Archbishops of the Church of
Ireland--Dr. Crozier and Dr. Bernard--to both of whom the democratic
constitution of their Church had given great experience in management of
business and discussion. Dr. MacDermott, Moderator of the Presbyterian
General Assembly, was the official head of his Church for the year only
and had not equal knowledge of administration. An orator, with a touch
of the enthusiast in his temperament, he was a simple and sympathetic
figure; vehement in his political faith, yet responsive to all the human
charities and deeply a lover of his country. There was no better
representative there of Ulster, of the Ulster difficulty--at once so
separate from and so akin to the rest of Ireland.

The Government nominees included, as was only natural, the most
personally distinguished group. First of them should be named the
Provost of Trinity, Dr. Mahaffy, under whose aegis we assembled--a great
scholar and a great Irishman. He brought with him an element of
independent unregimented political thought--often freakish in
expression, but based on a vast knowledge of men and countries. In a
more practical sense, Lord MacDonnell and Lord Dunraven were our chief
political theorists, devisers by temperament of constitutional
machinery. Lord MacDonnell's repute as an administrator, Lord Dunraven's
as a leading figure in the Land Conference, gave weight to whatever came
from them. Lord Granard, who sat with them, was a Catholic peer who had
commanded a battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment in the Tenth Division
and had held offices in Mr. Asquith's Government. He had now the
brilliant idea of reopening for the period of the Convention one of the
most beautiful eighteenth-century dwellings, Ely House, and making it a
centre of hospitality and a meeting-place for friendly outside
intercourse. Few more useful assistances were rendered to our purpose,
and certainly none more pleasant.

Lord Desart, a distinguished lawyer, acted closely with Lord Midleton.
Sir Bertram Windle, President of University College, was another of
Government's choices--a man of science who was also very much a man of
affairs. Another, far less of a debater, far more of a power, was Mr.
William Martin Murphy, Chairman of the Dublin Tramways, a powerful
employer of labour who had headed the fight against Larkin in 1913, and
had been mainly responsible for the character of the employers' victory.
He was the owner of the most widely circulated Irish paper, the _Irish
Independent_--which stood in journalism for what Mr. Healy represented
in Parliament--an envenomed Nationalist opposition to the Parliamentary

Mr. Edward Lysaght, the son of a great manufacturer in South Wales,
combined like his father an aptitude for literature and for business; he
wrote books, he was concerned in a publishing venture, but he was
chiefly interested in his farm in county Clare--where he had voted for
de Valera. He had been chosen deliberately as a link with Sinn Fein. It
stamped an aspect of the Convention that he was the youngest man
there--for he would not have been noticeably young in the House of
Commons. We were a middle-aged assembly. Another link, though not so
explicit, with Republican Ireland was Mr. George Russell, "A.E.," poet,
writer on co-operative economics, a mystic, with all a mystic's
shrewdness, an orator with much personal magnetism. Lastly, there was
Sir Horace Plunkett, perhaps the only member of the Convention except
Redmond whose name would have occurred to every Irishman as
indispensably necessary.

Two other personages should be noted. Mr. Walter MacMurrough Kavanagh,
Chairman of the Carlow County Council, was by tradition and training a
strong Unionist, by inheritance the representative of one of the old
Irish princely families. He had been elected to the Vice-Chairmanship of
his County Council while still a Unionist; later, he adhered to Lord
Dunraven's proposals of devolution, but finding no rest in a half-way
house, came into full support of Redmond and for some time was a member
of our party; by temperament deeply conservative, he was in no way
separated by that from many of the ablest Nationalists, lay and
ecclesiastic. As a speaker he had few equals in the Convention; no man
there, indeed, except Redmond, could throw equal passion into the plea
of urgency for a settlement, for I think no other man felt it with such

Captain Doran, Chairman of the Louth Council, was on his way back to
France when the summons to the Convention stopped him. A Methodist, he
was divided by religion from his neighbours in County Louth: but that
did not stop them from putting this prosperous and capable farmer,
working his land on the most modern methods, into the Chair of their
County Council. Before the war, when the Larne gun-running took place,
he decided that matters looked serious, called his friends together and
formed a company of Volunteers, who might be needed to protect
themselves or to protect other Nationalists across the adjacent Ulster
border. After the war had broken out and the Home Rule Act was passed,
and Redmond had launched his appeal, this country farmer, then aged
fifty, made his way to Mallow and asked General Parsons to accept him as
a recruit. He was accepted, and very shortly given a commission in the
Dublin Fusiliers. Out of his local Volunteers he took seventy-five into
the Army with him. He was with the Sixteenth Division from its landing
in France till after the day of Messines, commanding his company. All
this gave him an authority in an assembly where all voices were in
support of the war, and more particularly in an appeal to Ulster; and
with this advantage went an unusual gift of frank and eloquent speech,
linked with a fine idealism.

These were the main personal elements in the group that came together on
July 25th--Mr. Duke, the Chief Secretary, acting as temporary Chairman
and Sir Francis Hopwood (soon to become Lord Southborough) having been
brought over as Secretary. Mr. Duke having addressed us with an earnest
suavity, we were told to select a Chairman: and on the motion of the
Primate, Archbishop Crozier, this embarrassing task was delegated to a
committee of ten, rapidly told off. We adjourned for lunch, and on
reassembling found that a unanimous recommendation named Sir Horace
Plunkett. The Ulstermen had expressed a willingness to accept Redmond.
This he refused to discuss; but he was put into the Chair of the
selecting committee. There was a recommendation also that Sir Francis
Hopwood should be Secretary to the Convention. Both these proposals were
welcomed, and we dispersed feeling that we had done a good day's work.

There was, however, one set-off to it. When the Selection Committee had
done its work, its members went off singly, and outside the gate of
College a small group of ardent patriots were waiting, who mobbed
Redmond on the way to his hotel. They were young, no doubt; but the
Republican party claimed specially the youth of Ireland; and these lads
expressed with a simple eloquence very much what was said by older and
more articulate voices, uttering the same thought in print. It is worth
while to illustrate here the attitude taken towards Redmond by much of
Nationalist Ireland, for it profoundly influenced Redmond's attitude and
action in the Convention. I take, not casual and partisan journalism,
but a passage from a book published by a distinguished Irish writer who
had never publicly attached himself to any party. Mr. James Stephens was
in Dublin during the insurrection; he wrote a book about his own
personal observation of it, which as a record of observation is
admirable. But when Mr. Stephens comes to emit opinions, here is what he
has to say:

"Why it happened is a question that may be answered more particularly.
It happened because the leader of the Irish party misrepresented his
people in the English House of Parliament. On the day of the declaration
of war between England and Germany he took the Irish case, weighty with
eight centuries of history and tradition, and he threw it out of the
window. He pledged Ireland to a particular course of action, and he had
no authority to give this pledge and he had no guarantee that it would
be met. The ramshackle intelligence of his party and his own emotional
nature betrayed him and us and England. He swore Ireland to loyalty as
if he had Ireland in his pocket and could answer for her. Ireland has
never been disloyal to England, not even at this epoch, _because she has
never been loyal to England_, and the profession of her National faith
has been unwavering, has been known to every English person alive, and
has been clamant to all the world beside.

"Is it that he wanted to be cheered? He could very easily have stated
Ireland's case truthfully, and have proclaimed a benevolent neutrality
(if he cared to use the grandiloquent words) on the part of this
country. He would have gotten his cheers, he would in a few months have
gotten Home Rule in return for Irish soldiers. He would have received
politically whatever England could have safely given him. But, alas!
these carefulnesses did not chime with his emotional moment. They were
not magnificent enough for one who felt that he was talking not to
Ireland or to England, but to the whole gaping and eager earth, and so
he pledged his country's credit so deeply that he did not leave her even
one National rag to cover herself with.

"After a lie, truth bursts out, and it is no longer the radiant and
serene goddess we knew or hoped for--it is a disease, it is a moral
syphilis, and will ravage until the body in which it can dwell has been
purged. Mr. Redmond told the lie, and he is answerable to England for
the violence she had to be guilty of, and to Ireland for the desolation
to which we have had to submit. Without his lie there had been no
Insurrection, without it there had been at this moment, and for a year
past, an end to the 'Irish question.' Ireland must in ages gone have
been guilty of abominable crimes, or she could not at this juncture have
been afflicted with a John Redmond."

Politicians everywhere need to grow tough skins; but Redmond, though he
was a veteran in politics, had no special gift that way. It was not
pleasant for the Nationalist leader, when an assembly of Irishmen were
called together to attempt the framing of a Constitution, to find
himself the object, and the sole object, of public insult; it was not
pleasant for him to feel that he might at any time be subjected to a
renewal of this experience in the streets of Ireland's capital, where he
had been acclaimed as a hero so few years ago. It was not pleasant for
him to feel that whenever he took up a book or paper dealing with
Ireland he was liable to come upon some outburst such as the one which I
have quoted. These things were pin-pricks, yet pin-pricks administered
in public; and the mere effort to endure such things without wincing
saps a man's vitality. Behind them lay the definite repudiation of his
policy in election after election--for Kilkenny City followed the
example of Clare and replaced Pat O'Brien by a Sinn Feiner. He was
repudiated in the eye of the world, and repudiated with every
circumstance of contumely. Plainly in the Convention he could no longer
claim to speak for Ireland; that limited gravely his power to serve.

I think, however, that deep in his heart a resentment, all the more
rankling because he gave it no voice, prompted him to be on his guard
against lending the least colour of justification to any plea that in
the Convention he had sought to pledge Ireland without due mandate or
had committed anyone but himself. All that was personal in his
resources--his labour, his experience, his judgment, his eloquence--all
this he put unreservedly at the Convention's service: but he abstained,
and I think not only out of policy but as the result of silent anger,
from making the least use of that authority which he still possessed and
which he might easily have augmented. If in the result he took too
little upon him, lest anyone should ever say he had taken too much, and
if because he left too much to others Ireland was the loser, Ireland
must bear not the loss only but the blame.

Many even of those who most agreed with his action had, under the
influence and events of these years and of public comments on these
events, lost confidence in him. Some weeks after the Convention
assembled, a very able priest said to me that he regarded Redmond as "a
worn-out man." The genuineness of his regret was proved by the delight
with which he heard what I could tell him. Never in my life did I find
so much cause for admiration of Redmond as in the early stages--which
were in many ways the most important--of our meetings. Never at any time
did I know him exert so successfully his charm of public manner. At the
second day's meeting, when the new Chairman took up his place and
function, there were several small points to be settled, each capable of
creating friction; and it has to be admitted that in the technical
aspect of his duty Sir Horace Plunkett did not shine: business quickly
became involved. Fortunately he was of a temper to welcome help, and it
was quickly to hand. Archbishop Crozier showed himself to be
accomplished, resourceful, and most tactful on all points of procedure:
and Redmond then for the first time did with extraordinary skill what he
had to do at many stages later. By a series of questions to the Chair he
suggested rather than recommended a way of clearing the involved issue;
and all this was done with a precision of phrase which was none the less
exact because it was easy, and with a dignity which was none the less
impressive because it had no pretence to effect. His mastery both of the
form and substance of procedure was conspicuous. One of the ablest among
the Southern Unionists said to me in these days: "He is superb: he does
not seem able to put a word wrong."

I think that the secret of his happiness of manner lay simply in this,
that within the Convention he was happy. There was a note in it that I
never felt in the House of Commons, even when he was at his best. There
he always spoke as if almost a foreigner, no matter among how familiar
faces. Here he was among his own countrymen, and for the first time in
his life in an assembly in no way sectional. For from the first it was
plain that, by whatever means, there had been gathered a compendium of
normal, ordinary Irish life: farmer, artisan, peer, prelate, landlord,
tenant, shopkeeper, manufacturer--all were there in pleasantly familiar
types. The atmosphere was unlike that of a political gathering; it
resembled rather some casual assemblage where all sorts of men had met
by accident and conversed without prejudice. Everybody met somebody whom
he had known in some quite different relation of life and with whom he
had never looked to be associated in any such task as the framing of a
Constitution. It was all oddly haphazard, full of interest and
surprises; all of us were a little out of our bearings, but much
disposed to reconnoitre in the spirit of friendly advance.

After the first day of Sir Horace Plunkett's chairmanship there was an
adjournment of something like a fortnight to give the Chairman and
secretariat time for preparation: and in this interval a plan of action
was formed. The object in view was to avoid the danger of an immediate
break and to give play to the reconciling influences. It was decided to
begin by a prolonged process of general discussion, in which men could
express their minds freely without the necessity of coming to an
operative decision on any of the controversial points, until the value
of each could be assessed in relation to the possibility of a general

The plan adopted was to discuss, without division taken, the schemes
which had been submitted by members of the Convention and by others.
Members would propose and expound their own projects: for the exposition
of the others some member must make himself responsible.

At this "presentation stage" and at all stages, Redmond absolutely
declined to put forward a plan in his own name. This was not only from
temperamental reasons: there was an official obstacle. He was an
individual member of the Convention: but he was Chairman of the Irish
party, pledged not to bind it without its consent. He felt, no doubt,
that any detailed proposal from him would be taken as binding the party,
whom he could not consult without bringing them into the secrets of the

But this attitude of self-abnegation was pushed very far by him, and
perhaps too far. In his early utterances he deprecated all official
recognition of sections. Yet from the moment when committees came to be
appointed this recognition was claimed; and from the first the Ulster
group maintained a compact organization. They had their own chairman,
Mr. Barrie, and their secretary; they secured a committee-room for their
own purposes; they voted solidly as one man. All this, though we did not
know it at first, was dictated by the conditions of their attendance.
They were pledged to act simply as delegates, who must submit every
question of importance to an Advisory Committee in Belfast--behind which
again was the Ulster Unionist Council. They had therefore no freedom of
action and were of necessity extremely guarded in speech.

The Southern Unionists, including the representatives of the Irish
peers, were also organized as a group; but they came to the Convention
with much fuller powers. They felt themselves bound to consider, and in
certain conditions to consult, those whom they represented; but they
were free to originate suggestions, and individually each man expressed
his own view. But they too had their meeting-place and their frequent

The handful of Labour men also met and discussed action, though they
were not organized as a group and did not feel pledged to a joint
course. Each, according to his own lights, represented the interests of
Labour. Still, they met.

The only group which had no common centre of reunion was that of the
Nationalists--a majority of the whole assembly. This included the
representatives of the Irish party and the County and Urban Councillors,
all of whom had been returned as its supporters. It included also the
four representatives of the hierarchy, every one of whom had been either
actually or potentially a part of Nationalist Conventions, and of whom
three had been most prominent supporters of the general organization.

But a difficulty existed in the presence of other personages who were in
general support of us, but who outside the Convention belonged to a
different category. Lord Dunraven was a Home Ruler, but had been no
supporter of the Irish party. Lord MacDonnell stood much nearer to us,
but was a power in his own right and had never been a party politician.
Mr. Lysaght had voted against us in Clare. Mr. Russell had very often
attacked the party on aspects of its general action. Above all, there
was Mr. W.M. Murphy, who, like Mr. Healy, had been at one time a member
of the Irish party, and whose paper had for long been in nominal support
of its purposes, but who had throughout recent years done more than all
forces together to discredit and weaken its influence.

All of these five men were Government nominees, as were also Lord
Granard and Sir Bertram Windle, who in different ways gave Redmond
complete and most useful backing. It would have been possible to call
together a group consisting of men who had been members of the national
organization which would have excluded all these and included the
Bishops;[10] but Redmond probably felt it would be ungracious to do
this. His chief desire was to avoid all recognition of party and still
more of partisan machinery. His conclusion was to do nothing; and it was
a conclusion to which he was prone at all times when he did not see his
way clear. This temperamental disinclination to take any action which
might create difficulties was in these days at its height with him.
Since the spring his usually perfect health had been failing; he
suffered from the physical inertia which accompanies the growth of a
fatal disease; and sorrow upon sorrow, rebuff upon rebuff, had weakened
the resilience of his mind. It was not that he lacked courage or
confidence in his own judgment; but he was bound as a statesman to make
allowance for the estimate which others, his followers, would put upon
that judgment when he declared it. Sensitive by nature, he was deeply
aware of failure which had resulted from the most disparaging of
causes--not flat rejection, but belated, half-hearted and blundering
adoption, of whatever course he had proposed. He overrated, I am sure,
the extent to which his personal position had been depreciated in the
minds of those who were there. It was true, as the event was to prove,
that he could no longer count on unquestioning support of any policy
simply on the ground that he advocated it; but any opinion which he
presented would have been commended not only by the cogency of his
argument but by an old esteem for his wisdom, and, above and beyond
this, by a personal feeling Men would have inclined to his side not for
the argument's sake only, but for his sake.

There was felt, too, precisely at the moment when it mattered most, the
defect in his quality as leader. He lacked the personal touch. It was
not that he would not, but that he could not, put himself into contact
with the individual minds of men. He owed it, I think, to the rank and
file to give them more of his guidance than they actually received. He
was a genial presence when they met; but of confidential discussion upon
details I am sure that nothing passed. Had he called the group together,
had he spoken his mind to them collectively, in confidence, things would
in all ways have been better. But there was ingrained in him a sort of
shyness, a repugnance to force his view on others by argument, an
indisposition to controversy, which was his limitation; and all this was
at this time accentuated by the hurt sense that there would be always in
men's minds a memory, not of the hundred times when his wisdom had amply
justified itself, but of recent occasions when he had advised them and
the result was not what he foretold.

To sum up, then, this criticism--what he said and did publicly in the
Convention could hardly by stretch of imagination have been bettered.
But outside its sessions he did not handle his team. On the balance,
probably, he thought it better to leave them to their own devices; but
his temperament weighed in that decision. As a result, the County
Councillors and other local representatives used to hold meetings of
their own. They were shrewd and capable men; but in the matters with
which we had to deal the most skilled direction was necessary; and there
was never a man more capable of giving them guidance out of a lifetime's
experience than was Redmond, nor one from whom they would have more
willingly accepted instruction.

Discussion in the Convention itself was not of great value for the
education of opinion, because men naturally were reluctant to get up and
state precisely their individual difficulties, which in a confidential
interchange of views might have been shown to proceed from some defect
in comprehension. The chief value in the debates lay in what they
revealed rather than what they imparted. One fact was salient. No
Nationalist was prepared to recommend acceptance of the Home Rule Act as
it stood, though some of its most vehement assailants adopted great
parts of its framework. Broadly speaking, Nationalists wanted for
Ireland the powers which were possessed by a self-governing Dominion,
but were content to leave all control of defence to the Imperial
authority and did not press any demand for a local militia. On the other
hand, there was strong insistence on the right of an Irish Parliament to
have complete power of taxation within its jurisdiction.

It was manifest that the financial clauses of the existing Act would no
longer apply. They were framed in view of a situation which found
Ireland contributing ten millions in taxation and costing twelve to
administer. Now, less than half the taxation paid the cost of all Irish
services and the balance went towards the war.

It was also evident that Nationalists were prepared to make concessions
to the minority quite inconsistent with the current democratic view of
what a Constitution should be. The Bishop of Raphoe, for instance,
expressed willingness to have the Irish peers as an Upper House. Lord
Midleton, however, for the Southern Unionists, insisted that those whom
he spoke for must have a voice in the House of Commons--however they got
it; and there was general desire to give it them, even by methods which
no one could justify for general application.

In short, it became increasingly clear as the debates proceeded that we
could come to an arrangement with Unionists if Lord Midleton represented
Unionism. But he did not. Ulster was there; and the Ulster men made it
plain that their business was to hear suggestions, not to put them
forward. Two facts, however, emerged about Ulster's attitude. The first
was that in coming to the Convention the Ulstermen had expected to
negotiate on the basis of taking the Home Rule Act as the maximum
Nationalist demand. The only compromise which they had contemplated was
a mean term between the provisions of that Act and Ulster's demand for a
continuance of the legislative Union so far as Ulster was concerned. The
second was that Belfast regarded as ruinous to its interests any
possibility of a tariff war with Great Britain, and believed that if
Ireland were given the power to fix its own customs duties the dominant
farming interest would seek to find revenue by new taxation on imports.
Hence, the proposal to give Ireland full fiscal powers could not be
acceptable to Ulster. Here lay the main rock in our course.

As the discussion proceeded, one category of proposals was summarily
dealt with--those which contemplated the setting up of some provincial
authority intermediate between the central Parliament, which all
postulated, and the existing local bodies in the counties. This policy
did not lack advocates. But the County Councillors were solid against
it: evidently their private meeting discussed and decided against an
expedient which they held would detract from the dignity of the central
Parliament and from the dignity of the County Councils. Those who
defended it as a plan which might meet Ulster's difficulty got no
backing from Ulster; that group said neither for nor against it. In the
rest of the assembly there was a strong feeling against anything that
looked like partition or might in public be called partition. Several of
us had thought in advance that this was the most likely path to the
solution; and looking back, I think it ought to have been much more
fully explored. But encouragement was lacking.

Another anticipation proved illusory. We all realized that in the
circumstances Ireland could come to a financial arrangement with Great
Britain on easier terms than at any time in her history; that to settle
at once would be highly profitable; and more particularly, that we could
probably secure the completion of land purchase as part of the bargain.
It was thought that this argument would appeal to the commercial sense
of Ulster. We were met by a resolute reiteration that Ulster considered
it Ulster's duty and Ireland's duty to take a full share, equally with
the rest of the United Kingdom, in all the consequences of the war--even
if it cost them their last shilling; and Ulster speakers denounced our
argument as a bribe. Some Nationalists were inclined to discount these
protestations, yet I see no reason to doubt their sincerity. At all
events, no one disputed that it was to Ireland's interest financially
that a settlement should be made.

It is quite unnecessary to summarize here in any detail the course of
these general discussions in full Convention, which began on August
21st. One thing, however, resulted from them on which too much emphasis
cannot be laid. In the process of "exploring each other's minds," as the
phrase went, we came to know and to like one another. Later in the year,
a friend of mine, high placed in the Ulster Division, but not an
Ulsterman by upbringing or sympathy, came home from France. He told me
that the main impression on the minds of Ulster delegates had been made
by the Nationalist County Councillors. They had expected noisy
demagogues; they had found solid, substantial business men, many of them
with large and prosperous concerns, all of them rather too silent than
too vocal, and all of them most good-humoured in their tolerance of
dissent. What Willie Redmond had foretold in his last speech was coming
true: Irishmen brought into contact with one another in the Convention,
as other Irishmen had been brought into contact in the trenches, and no
longer kept apart by those unhappy severances which run through ordinary
Irish life, came under the influence of that fundamental fellowship,
deeper than all divergence of politics or creed, which draws our people
into a sense of a common bond.

The desire to bring delegates together in friendly social intercourse
had shown itself in many quarters. The Viceregal Lodge pressed
invitations on us, and Redmond, though in the circumstances he himself
would go to no entertainment anywhere, expressed his wish that
Nationalists should alter their traditional attitude and accept what was
offered in so friendly a spirit. But the first place where we met as a
body with informal ease was at the Mansion House as guests of the Lord
Mayor--a popular figure in our assembly.

Next day the Lord Mayor of Belfast rose at the adjournment to express
all our thanks, and to insist that there should be a session in Belfast,
where he could return the compliment. Immediately, there came another
proposal for a similar visit to the South of Ireland. We went to Belfast
at the beginning of September, and the attitude of the Ulster members,
which had till then been somewhat guarded and aloof, changed into that
of the traditional Irish hospitality. They showed us their great linen
mills and other huge manufactories; they showed us the shipyards, in
which the frames of monster ships lay cradled in gigantic gantries,
works of architecture as wonderful in their vast symmetry as any
cathedral, and having the beauty which goes with any perfect design
combining lightness and strength. Perhaps the most impressive sight of
all was the disbandment of workmen from the yards. Endless lines of
empty tramcars drawn up on the quay awaited the turn-out of some ten
thousand artisans, who streamed past where we stood assembled; and as
the crowds swept along, all these eyes, curious, but not unfriendly,
scrutinized us, and one word was in all their mouths as they came
up--"Which is Redmond? Where's John Redmond?"

A fortnight later Cork completed what Belfast had begun; and, perhaps
because Cork is less strenuous, the whole atmosphere there was even
friendlier. It had almost the quality of a holiday excursion, for we
assisted at the ancient ceremony by which the Lord Mayor of Cork asserts
his jurisdiction over the harbour waters--proceeding outside the
protecting headlands and flinging from him a ceremonial dart outwards to
the sea. This day, however, we accomplished the ceremony well within the
limits; we passed the narrow gateway in the chain of mines, but outside
that, submarines were a very real menace, and the Admiralty cut short
our steamer's voyage. We were none the less festive on board.

It was not all mere holiday in Cork. One speech in particular at this
meeting impressed the whole Convention. A Southern delegate illustrated
from his personal knowledge how cumbrous and uneconomic were the
dealings of a government at Westminster with the meat supply from
Ireland; and a mass of complicated and important trade detail was
skilfully linked to the larger issue of war interest and Imperial
interest; there was genuine eloquence as well as commercial shrewdness
in this discourse. A short speech, too, from one of the Ulster County
Councillors indicated by its tone, what was in my opinion the general
sentiment, that as a result of these preliminary discussions almost
everybody in the assembly expected and desired an effective agreement.

At least for the purposes of this book, and perhaps many purposes, the
trend of our debates can be best summarized by reproducing Redmond's
main contribution to them. He intervened on the first day when Mr.
Murphy's scheme was proposed, on August 21st, but only with a few
welcoming words, and to emphasize his view that we were all there to
accept whatever commanded most support. But at Belfast on September 5th
he spoke fully; and I do not think his speech would have been materially
different had he delivered it three weeks later in Cork. What I print
here is based on the unusually full notes made by him, so full that they
admit of being treated like a press telegram, and read clearly when
small and obvious words are added. The manuscript is scored with
underlining, single, double and treble, to guide the voice in reading
from it; it has interest as illustrating the technical devices which a
great orator employed for a special occasion; and for this speech he
spared no effort. I thought, then as always, that he was less impressive
and less effective in so fully prepared an oration than when he was
putting his thought into the form which immediately came to him. But as
a document it represents beyond doubt his considered opinion and his
most deliberate advice.

Dealing briefly at first with the contention that the system of the
Union had been a success and should not be touched, he outlined the
familiar arguments. But, as he said, the existence of the Convention was
the final answer. The head of a Coalition Ministry had declared, without
dissent from any of his Unionist colleagues, that Dublin Castle had
hopelessly broken down. The Prime Minister of another Coalition, mainly
Unionist in its composition, had set up this assembly, charging it to
find another and better system of government.

Beneficent legislation had been quoted. Yes, but how was it attained?

"In any constitutionally governed country, once public opinion is
converted to some great reform, it naturally passes, surely and easily,
though perhaps slowly, into law. In Ireland, after Irish public opinion
has made up its mind, the reformer has to convert the public opinion of
another country which is profoundly ignorant or apathetic, and unhappily
it is uncontrovertible that scarcely a single piece of beneficent
legislation on land, or anything else, has been passed since the Union
except by long, violent, semi-revolutionary agitation.

"Are we to go on for ever upon this path? Are we to go back into the
region of perpetual and violent agitation in order to get the reforms we
need? Are we never to be allowed to have peace in our country?"

He passed then to the complaint that Ulster's special case had not been
sufficiently considered.

"The man who would hope to settle this great problem without special
consideration of the special case of Ulster would indeed be a fool. Only
for the special case of Ulster we should not be here at all. Our chief
business is to endeavour to satisfy that special case.

"For myself, I am one of those Nationalists to whom Mr. Barrie referred,
who believe that the co-operation of Ulstermen is necessary for a
prosperous and free Ireland, and there are no lengths consistent with
common sense and reason to which I would not go to satisfy their fears
and doubts and objections.

"The special case of Ulster as put before us was this: 'We are contented
under the Union, we have prospered under the Union. Therefore from our
particular standpoint we have no reason to ask for a change.' But they
declare themselves not only Ulstermen but Irishmen. They admit that the
rest of Ireland is not prosperous as they are, and is not contented;
and, that being so, they have come here in a spirit of true patriotism
to see what is proposed as a remedy; and, as I understand it, they only
stipulate that in any scheme of reform their rights and interests and
sentiments shall be safeguarded and respected. That is a reasonable and
patriotic attitude, and I wish most heartily and most sincerely to
respond to it.

"Now let me say what are the main objections to these schemes which have
emerged from the debate. Some may be regarded as more particularly
affecting Ulster, others as more particularly affecting the Southern
Unionists, but all of them taken together make up what I may call the
Unionist objection.

"The Archbishop of Dublin grouped these objections under three heads:

1. Imperial Security.

2. Fiscal Security.

3. Security for Minorities.

"On the question of Imperial Security, objection is taken to what is
called an 'Independent' Parliament.

"It is supposed that what is called Dominion Home Rule implies an
'Independent' Parliament. This is a complete delusion. There is only one
Sovereign and Independent Parliament in the Empire--the Imperial
Parliament; its supremacy is indefeasible and inalienable. Every other
Parliament in the Empire is subordinate, and an Irish Parliament must be

"The Imperial Parliament has created many Parliaments and given to them
power to deal in general as they wish with local affairs, but it never
parted with its own overriding authority--it has no power to do so--and
in several of the colonies it has exercised that overriding authority
from time to time.

"Gladstone spoke of the Irish Parliament which he proposed to set up as
'practically independent in the exercise of its statutory functions.'
But the overriding authority of the Imperial Parliament would always be
there in the background to arrest injustice or oppression, just as it is
in regard to every Dominion Parliament in the Empire to-day.

"That position was specifically laid down and accepted by Parnell in

"Lord Midleton demands that the rights and authority of the Crown shall
be preserved and safeguarded. There is no difference whatever between us
on this, and no difficulty can arise upon it.

"As to the control of Army and Navy, no one suggests any interference
with the Imperial authority over the Army and the Navy. I include in
that such naval control of harbours as is necessary for security.

"Captain Gwynn has proposed that Ireland should have power to raise a
force for home defence. In other words, to pass a Territorial Act for
Ireland. My policy about the Volunteers is known: I proposed at the
beginning of the war that the Government should utilize the existing
Volunteer forces; and had this proposal been acted on in 1914 there
would have been no rebellion in 1916. If I understand Captain Gwynn, he
did not suggest that Irish Territorials should be under an Irish War
Office and an Irish Minister for War, but that in his opinion a system
of Irish Territorials was desirable, and inasmuch as the English
Territorial Acts are not suitable to us, the Irish Parliament should be
given the power to raise under Imperial authority a force for itself and
on its own lines.

"If this is his view, I agree with it. But this is a matter on which no
one would think of breaking off.

"Speaking generally, I think the Archbishop of Dublin and those who
agree with him may take it for granted that upon all those questions
which he grouped under the heading of Imperial Security there would be
little difficulty in arriving at an agreement with, at any rate, men
like myself.

"Now let me deal with the second group of subjects put forward by the
Archbishop of Dublin under the heading of Fiscal Security--or a
reasonable prospect of national prosperity.

"The first objection is to what is called fiscal autonomy, although,
after listening most carefully to his speeches, it seems to me that the
real objection is not so much an objection to fiscal autonomy as
establishing the full power of the Irish Parliament over the collection
and imposition of Irish taxes, as an objection to giving that Parliament
power to set up a tariff against Great Britain."

He referred then at length to the Report of the Primrose Committee on
Irish Finance, dated October 1911.[11] That Committee had for its
chairman a great English Civil Servant; three of its members were famous
English financiers; another was the Professor of Political Economy at
Oxford. Of the two names associated closely with Ireland, one was Lord
Pirrie, whose fortune had been made in Belfast, and the only Irish
Nationalist was the Bishop of Ross. They had reported unanimously for
giving to Ireland full fiscal powers. "We tried hard," Redmond said, "to
get the principle of their Report adopted in framing the Bill of 1912."
Government insisted on adhering to the plan of "contract finance" which
their own non-partisan committee of experts had explicitly condemned.

He quoted several passages from the weighty argument by which the
Committee had justified its conclusions, especially those dealing with
the contention that the power would be used to set up a tariff against
British goods.

"Ireland is not a nation of fools.

"If in framing a new Constitution you go on the assumption that every
power you confer will be abused, it would be far better to desist from
your task altogether, and instead of increasing the powers of a people
dead to all sense of responsibility and manifestly unfit for political
freedom, you had better disestablish all existing forms of
constitutional government and advocate the government of Ireland as a
Crown Colony. But none of us so distrust our people.

"Dr. O'Donnell has proposed a solution of the difficulty about imposing
a tariff against England by means of a Conference between the two
nations. Other suggestions will be made. Protection may be found for
Ulster by giving to them disproportionate representation. It may be
found in the power of the Senate, it may be found in the power to
suspend. If we are agreed somewhat on the general lines of the Primrose
Report, the outstanding difficulty will be capable of adjustment.

"Sir Crawford McCullagh rightly pointed out the terrible burden of war
taxation, which is at present over twenty millions, and he said we
cannot go on on those lines, and we must get back to pre-war burdens or
the country will be ruined. How are we to get back?

"If nothing is done by us, and the war goes on, as it may, for some
years, we may easily be paying thirty, forty, or fifty millions, and
generations to come will have to bear a crushing load. The income tax is
certain to be raised, and excess profits also, and no part of Ireland
will suffer more than Ulster, and especially Belfast.

"The highest interest of Ulster, therefore, is a speedy settlement
whereby the increase of war taxation will cease and Ireland's
contribution to Imperial purposes will either disappear or, to put it at
the very lowest, be limited and stereotyped.

"Mr. Knight raised the question of land purchase. I agree with every
word he said, but what is the difficulty? The difficulty is in providing
the additional money needed at a low rate of interest. As part of a
settlement I feel quite sure we could obtain the completion of land
purchase on satisfactory terms. Indeed, I have the highest authority for
the statement that this question would be regarded as an essential
portion of a settlement, and that a most generous arrangement would be
made. But if there is no settlement, do you imagine the Treasury will
do anything to help us? No. I fear the British Government will be more
occupied in endeavouring to deal with the state of open anarchy in
Ireland than in making great financial concessions on land purchase. Mr.
Knight, if he wants purchase completed, had better help us to an

"The third group of objections mentioned by the Archbishop of Dublin
deals with Security for Minorities.

"On this, it is impossible for the Convention to break down, because we
are all in favour of the object in view. It is a mere question of the
best machinery to carry out our unanimous desire and intention.

"Ulster may clearly claim a representation out of proportion to her
numbers, not only, I admit, in the Senate, but in the lower chamber.
Safeguards of the most stringent character would be accepted, at any
rate by me, in the machinery of the Constitution to prevent the
possibility of Ulster's interest, Ulster's prosperity and Ulster's
sentiments being injured or over-ridden.

"For Southern Unionists, the case is unanswerable. They _must_ get
proper representation in both Houses.

"Some suggestions have been made: proportional representation; Mr.
Murphy's proposal of a special representation for property; special
representation for creeds, and finally a nominated element in the House
of Commons. I have an open mind on them all. It may be none of these
will be found wholly satisfactory. But where there is a will there is a
way. We are all agreed it must be done, and therefore it can and will be

"In none of these objections, and they are the chief ones that have
emerged on Imperial security, fiscal security, and security of
minorities, is there in my mind any difficulty in coming to an
agreement, if we are really animated by the desire every speaker has
professed to answer the appeal of the Empire in this hour of her dire
extremity by removing one of her greatest weaknesses and dangers.

"We were told by Lord Midleton to play for safety. What is safety for
us? What is safety for the Empire? I strongly say the only safety is a
settlement of this question.

"What will be the certain effect of a breakdown? No one could fail to
have been impressed by the serious and solemn note upon which the
Archbishop of Dublin concluded his speech. He reminded you this was not
a question of Ulster and the rest of Ireland, not of Catholic and
Protestant, or Unionist and Nationalist: it was a question of the
necessity for all men of good will, all men of responsibility, all men
who know that the foundation of freedom is the maintenance of order, to
join hands to protect their common country from anarchy and chaos.

"The Archbishop spoke of Mr. Lysaght's speech as a threat. No one here
will be moved by threats, but let us not be mad enough to shut our eyes
to the facts. Is there a man in this room who can contemplate without
horror the immediate future of Ireland if this Convention fails? For my
part, I see clearly a future following on our failure in which on one
side there will be an angered, if you like, a maddened people, with no
responsible control, and on the other, Government ruling by the point of
the bayonet. Between these two forces there will be no place for a
Constitutional party or for men like myself.

"That would be the effect in Ireland. What would be the effect
throughout the Empire?

"I have close relations with statesmen of all parties in all the
Dominions, and I am informed that twenty-five per cent, of their troops
are of Irish birth or of Irish parents, and that they have practically
joined because they believed the Irish problem was as good as settled.

"What has happened about Ireland has caused untold difficulties in every
Dominion. Mr. Holman, the Prime Minister of New South Wales, said that
conscription was defeated by the Irish vote. Mr. Hughes said the same.
Two hundred thousand troops have been lost to the Empire by the feeling
of disgust at the failure to settle the Irish question. It has been the
same in Canada. Everywhere a breakdown will be regarded with dismay.

"What will be the effect in America? The position of America is grave
and dangerous. I have close relations with many Americans of high
position and influence, and they all tell me the same. This is a secret
session, and I can repeat what they say. There is little or no
enthusiasm for the war. Mind, I am speaking of Americans, not Irish
Americans. The apathy is largely due to distrust of England. They
distrust her posing as the champion of small nations while here at her
doors the Irish question is unsettled. Lord Midleton says the Americans
are uninformed. Perhaps so as to details. Perhaps they only see the
broad effect. But how does that help us? The fact remains. Ireland is
the only, or the chief, cause of American apathy to-day. This is of
vital importance. Could we hope to win the war if America dropped out?
Russia has gone. The President of the United States has many pacifist
men around him. Their movement is strong. Germany is abstaining from
outrages that would raise American feeling. I say, the danger of peace
proposals which we could not accept being offered to America and
accepted by her is a real and a very serious one.

"Hence it is that the Government, the diplomatic service, and all
connected with our foreign affairs are feverishly anxious as to the
result of our deliberations. If we break down in despair and
helplessness, God only knows how terrible and far-reaching may be the

"Far better for us and for the Empire never to have met than to have met
and failed of an agreement.

"Finally, what would be the effect of a breakdown at the front?

"We are called upon on all sides of this ancient quarrel to make what
people call sacrifices--sacrifices of inherited predilections, of
old-world ideas, and of ancient shibboleths, of perhaps ingrained
prejudice. I would be ashamed to speak of the surrender of such things
as sacrifices, when I remember the kind of sacrifices our brave boys
have made and are making this very hour while we are safe at home
talking. I cannot trust myself to speak upon this matter. Only the other
day, once again the Ulster Division and the Sixteenth Irish Division,
shoulder to shoulder, have fought and died for Ireland. The full story
is not yet known, but it is full of tragedy, of heroism and of glory.
Surely they deserve some encouragement. No set of men living would be
prouder and happier than they if we can send them the news of a
settlement of this question which will relieve them from the daily shame
they feel, every time they meet their Allies, in the consciousness that
their country, Ireland, for which they are facing death, is distracted
and disunited and a source of reproach.

"No, we must come to a settlement. We must rise to the occasion--if only
to save ourselves from a lifelong remorse for wrecking this venture--for
what the historian of the future would describe as a crime against the
Empire in her hour of deadliest peril, and a crime against the peace and
happiness of our own beloved and long-suffering country."

One result of this speech was seen at once in an utterance from Mr.
Andrew Jameson, a leading figure among the Southern Unionists. He said
at once that Redmond had convinced him that all the difficulties as to
maintaining the Imperial connection and providing safeguards for
minorities could and would be met. The fiscal difficulty remained. He
pressed the Ulster group to come to our assistance and depart from their
attitude of silence. This speech went further towards our desire than
any Unionist had previously gone.

In a later debate Mr. Pollock outlined two essentials of the Ulster
demand. The United Kingdom must remain a fiscal unit; and Ireland must
be represented at Westminster. If these points were conceded, agreement,
he thought, should be possible.

On the whole, as discussion grew franker and more business-like,
relations improved. There were small passages at arms, but these only
served to show how strong was the general desire for harmony. One of my
colleagues said that he did not know what to make of a political
assembly where everyone applauded when you got up, and applauded when
you sat down, and never interrupted you. Another said that the
Convention was the only society in Ireland from which one always came
away cheered up: and this was so generally felt that an Ulster speaker
reminded us that the atmosphere of our proceedings was pleasant but
exceptional. He warned us to remember that, even if we agreed, either
side might be repudiated. Yet there was a marked feeling that the
Convention, and the tone which prevailed in the Convention, had done
good in the country. This was admitted by the Grand Master of the Orange
Order, Colonel Wallace, in a speech which led to an important
illustration of the mutual process of education, for it raised with
great frankness the issue of religious differences and alluded specially
to the recent Papal decrees over which so much controversy had raged.
The Bishop of Raphoe rose to reply and expounded, as an ex-professor of
Canon Law, the true bearing of these documents. His speech was a
masterpiece; its candour and its lucidity commended itself to all
hearers, but most of all to the Ulstermen, who applauded at once Lord
Oranmore's comment that the _odium theologicum_ had been replaced by
_divina caritas_; and at a very late stage in our proceedings, Mr.
Barrie referred back to this speech of the Bishop's as one of the
things which they would never forget.

The Primate, who in this month of September was one of the hopeful
hearts ("My confidence has grown daily," he said), used words which met
with widespread response: "We can never leave this hall and speak of men
whom we have met here as we have spoken of them in the past." There was
good will in the air--good will to each other and to the enterprise. At
the close of the proceedings in Cork the Lord Mayor of Belfast moved a
vote of thanks to the citizens through their Lord Mayor, and he closed
on a note of hope--anticipating "something in store for Ireland."

Yet already these anticipations were overcast. During this week, while
all seemed going so well, one of the endless unhappy and preventible
things happened. It was from Redmond that I first heard the news. One of
the Sinn Fein leaders who had been rearrested on suspicion after the
amnesty took part in a hunger-strike as a protest against being
subjected to the conditions imposed on a convicted felon. He was
forcibly fed and died under the process, owing to heart-failure. Redmond
told me with fury how he had urged again and again on the Chief
Secretary the possibility of some such calamity, and had urged that
these men should receive the treatment proper in any case to political
prisoners, but above all to men who had been neither convicted nor

The result was immediately seen in some hostile demonstrations in Cork,
chiefly against Mr. Devlin and Redmond. But this was only the beginning.
On the following Sunday the body of the dead man, Thomas Ashe, was
carried through the streets of Dublin at the head of a vast procession,
in which large bodies of Volunteers, openly defying Government's
proclamation, marched in uniform; and he was buried with military
honours and volleys fired over his grave. With all this breach of the
law Government dared not interfere. They had put themselves in the
wrong; whether they prevented the demonstration or permitted it,
mischief was bound to follow. A new incitement was given to the
enthusiasm for Sinn Fein, a new martyr was provided, and new hostility
was raised against the Convention, for whose success Government was
notoriously anxious. On the other hand, Ulster Unionist opinion was
violently offended; they were scandalized by the disregard for law and
the impotence of constitutional authority. This attitude, however open
to comments based on their own recent history, did not render them any
easier to deal with. Above all, the Ashe incident emphasized the
presence in Ireland of a great force over which Redmond had no control
and which had no representative in the Convention. How, men asked, even
if a bargain could be made with Constitutional Nationalists, should that
covenant be carried into effect?


The Cork visit marks the close of the first stage in the history of the
Convention. At the opening of our session there it was decided to
appoint a Grand Committee of twenty, whose task should be, "if possible,
to prepare a scheme for submission to the Convention, which would meet
the views and difficulties expressed by the different speeches during
the course of the debate." The Convention itself, after its
deliberations of that week, would adjourn until the Committee was in a
position to report. This second stage, purely of committee work, was to
last much longer than anyone anticipated: the Convention did not
reassemble till the week before Christmas. If that length of adjournment
had been foreseen, the Committee would never have been appointed.

Mr. Lysaght in his first address to the Convention had pressed upon us
the view that Sinn Féin could be won. But he warned us also (with such
emphasis that some speakers afterwards resented it as a threat) that if
the Convention produced no result, or an unacceptable result, or
provoked suspicion by delay, the result would be a revolution. Already
impatience was growing. We could publish no account of our proceedings:
but it became known inevitably that we had not as yet reached one
operative conclusion in our task of Constitution building.

At Cork, Sir Horace Plunkett made an encouraging speech at the public
luncheon; he announced the appointment of our Committee, which certainly
looked like business. But only when we got to detail did men fully
realize the difficulties and the embarrassing nature of the position.

The Ashe affair had done more harm than we knew. When the Primate was
making the hopeful speech from which a few words have already been
quoted, he spoke also of our experience as having been a process of
mutual education, which we needed to extend beyond our own assembly. He
promised his help in this, and it was felt that Ulstermen generally were
on their honour to report well of what they commended in our presence.
They were, it seems, at least as good as their word; the Committee
behind them was favourably impressed, and when we went to Cork--so I
have been informed--the question of giving the delegates full powers to
negotiate was under discussion. But this mood was dissipated by the
angry temper in all sections which arose out of the imprisonments, the
hunger-strikes, the penalties imposed, and the successive concessions to
violent resistance.

To this was added a new cause of quarrel. The Franchise Bill was now
coming before the House of Commons; and under the provisions agreed to
by the Speaker's Conference, extension of the franchise was to be
applied in Ireland, but there was to be no redistribution. This proposal
was not unreasonable, since the Home Rule Act was now a statute and
under it new and properly distributed constituencies were scheduled;
while over and above this the Convention was in existence to occupy
itself with the matter.

On the other hand, the existing distribution of seats was hard on
Unionist Ulster: the great mass of population in and about Belfast was
under-represented. Ulstermen said that while Nationalists professed
great desire to give favour to minorities, in reality they persisted in
keeping their political opponents at an unfair disadvantage. There was
no more question of enlarging the delegates' authority in Convention:
the Advisory Committee hardened their attitude, and it was our task to
convince a body which could not hear our arguments at first hand.
Decisions lay with Ulstermen in Belfast, not in the Convention--that is
to say, not subject to the daily, hourly, prompting to remember that
they were not only Ulstermen but Irishmen, which arose from friendly
intercourse with their fellow-delegates.

The Grand Committee of twenty, representing all groups, met on October
11th. Sir Horace Plunkett had in advance begged Redmond to undertake the
presentation of a scheme which would serve as a basis for discussion.
Redmond declined, on the ground that the initiative should come from
someone who was not there as a politician; but he admitted that the onus
of making a proposal was on Home Rulers. Dr. O'Donnell, though an
office-bearer in the United Irish League, was present as a
representative of the hierarchy; he was charged with the task. He had
been throughout a strong advocate of claiming for Ireland all the powers
possessed by any of the Dominions, with limitations on the military
side; he had also been forward in his desire to give wholly exceptional
rights of representation to minorities.

But when we got into Committee one man immediately took the lead. Sir
Alexander McDowell[12] had not spoken in any debate; there is reason to
believe that he was glad not to commit himself in advance before the
moment when his special gift might come into play. All his life he had
been carrying through agreements between conflicting interests: he was a
great mediator and negotiator. Now, he advocated what was, in
strictness, an irregularity. A task had been delegated to us: he asked
us to delegate it again to a smaller group. The whole case, he said, had
been fully opened up; further debate would be no use; we all knew all
the arguments. He deprecated formal procedure; it was plainly a family
quarrel, and we should treat it in that spirit. Honestly, he said, he
should be sorry if the Convention failed. Ulster had no fault to find
with the Union; but they were living next door to a house already in

That was the general tone, but it would be difficult to convey the
impression of experience and authority which his manner left: and
Redmond supported him. It was plain that the two men would understand
each other. In the upshot their view prevailed; Redmond, Mr. Barrie and
Lord Midleton were instructed to suggest names, and after an interval
they came back with a list of nine. Lord Midleton was for the Southern
Unionists; Mr. Barrie, Lord Londonderry and Sir Alexander McDowell for
the Northern; Redmond, Mr. Devlin and Bishop O'Donnell represented the
parliamentary Nationalists, and to them were added Mr. W.M. Murphy and
Mr. George Russell.

This left eleven of us unemployed, and some days later we were formed
into three sub-committees, the first dealing with the question of
Electoral Reform and the composition of an Irish Parliament; the second
with Land Purchase, and the third with a possible Territorial Force and
the Police. But the marrow of the business rested with the original
sub-committee of nine.

They, however, could not get rapidly to work; other affairs pulled them
in different directions. Redmond was forced to go to Westminster, where
the Franchise Bill was coming on; moreover, the Irish party felt that
it must raise the question of Irish administration.

As our leader, he was obliged to speak on both matters. His reply to the
Ulster amendment proposing to extend redistribution to Ireland was that
this departed from the compromise reached at the Speaker's Conference,
and moreover ignored the existence of the Convention. He spoke with
studied brevity and avoidance of party spirit: but the debate became a
wrangle. Mr. Barrie brought back into it some of the Convention's
friendlier atmosphere; but his argument was that in the interests of the
Convention this concession should be made.

The second debate, on October 23rd, was inevitably contentious: it
deplored the policy being pursued by the Irish Executive and the Irish
military authorities "at a time when the highest interests of Ireland
and the Empire demand the creation of an atmosphere favourable to the
Convention." Redmond had an easy task in convicting the Government's
action of incoherence and of blundering provocation--but to do this was
of no advantage to his main purpose, which he served as best he could by
a side-wind, eulogizing the temper of the Convention and specially the
"sincere desire for a reasonable settlement" shown by the Ulster

Still, at the best, it was impossible for him not to feel that the
reaction of a debate which could not be kept in the tone on which he
started it must be unfavourable to the meetings of the Nine which were
about to take place. He was to go in to negotiate a settlement for his
country while the voices of faction were yelping at his heels all over
Ireland, and all the forces of reconciliation which he had brought into
play were neutralized and sterilized.

A debate of these days gave him a happier occasion to intervene than the
domestic bickerings in which he had been forced to take part; yet even
in this the note of sadness predominated. On October 29th, when a vote
of thanks was proposed to the Navy, Army and Mercantile Marine, he
joined his voice to that of other leaders of parties, to emphasize, as
he said, that they spoke from an absolutely unanimous House of Commons.
He recalled the exploits of Irish troops and dwelt again on the presence
of a large Irish element in the Canadian and Anzac Divisions. But his
reference was chiefly to those Nationalist Irish Brigades, who had
remained true, he said, to the old motto of the Brigade of Fontenoy,
_Semper et ubique fidelis_. These men had known in the midst of their
privations and sufferings a new and poignant feeling of anguish: they
had seen "a section at any rate of their countrymen" repudiate the view
that in serving as they served they were fighting for Ireland, for her
happiness, for her prosperity and her liberty.

"I wish it were possible for me to speak a word to every one of those
men. If my words could reach them, I would say to every one of them that
they need have no misgiving, that they were right from the first, that
time will vindicate them, that time will show that while fighting for
liberty and civilization in Europe they are also fighting for
civilization and liberty in their own land. I would like to say to every
one of them, in addition, that even at this moment, when ephemeral
causes have confused and disturbed Irish opinion, they are regarded with
feelings of the deepest pride and gratitude by the great bulk of the
Irish race and by all that is best in every creed and class in Ireland."

The Irish Divisions had once and again been engaged shoulder to
shoulder, but this time with very different fortune, in the third battle
of Ypres; yet, win or lose, they won or lost together. In that same
fighting Redmond's own son had earned special honour; the Distinguished
Service Order was bestowed on him for holding up a broken line with his
company of the Irish Guards. At a happier time this news would have been
received with enthusiasm all over Ireland; now, the most one could say
was that it delighted the Convention.

It would be quite wrong, however, to regard Redmond's attitude in these
days as unhopeful. The first meetings of the Nine were fruitful of much
agreement--conditional at all points on general ratification. But the
true spirit of compromise was there. So far as concerned the provision
to give minorities more than their numerical weight, it was agreed that
there should be two Houses, with powers of joint session, and with
control over money bills conceded to the Upper House. In the Lower House
Unionists should (somehow) get forty per cent, of the representation: so
that in the joint session the influences would be equally balanced.

The hitch came over finance. Nationalists wanted complete powers of
taxation, but would agree to a treaty establishing Free Trade between
the two countries for a long period. Ulster wanted a common fiscal
control for Great Britain and Ireland. By November 1st a complete
deadlock had been reached.

On that date the Grand Committee met to take stock informally of the
position, especially in regard to the procedure of the more detailed
sub-committees, and to face the fact that a grave misfortune had
befallen us. Sir Alexander McDowell had been prevented by illness from
attending any of the meetings. He had no further part in the
Convention's work, and died before it ended.

Redmond in a confidential talk spoke of his absence as lamentable. The
two had arranged--on the Belfast man's proposal--to meet for private
interviews before the Nine came together. Neither had control of the
forces for which he spoke; but both stood out, by everyone's consent,
from the rest of the assembly. It is impossible to say how much they
might have achieved had they come to an understanding; but assuredly no
other representative of the North spoke with the same self-confidence or
the same weight of personality as Sir Alexander McDowell. My own
feeling about him--if it be worth while to record a personal
impression--was that he was a man with the instinct for carrying big
things through--that the problem tempted him, as a task which called for
the exertion of powers which he was conscious of possessing. In losing
him we lost certainly the strongest will in his group, perhaps the
strongest in the Convention; and it was a will for settlement. It was,
too, a will less hampered by regard for public opinion than that of any
popularly elected representative man can be. He had, I think, also
eminently the persuasive gift which is not only inclined to give and
take but can impart that disposition to others.

Mr. Pollock, who replaced him, was an able man, but singularly lacking
in this quality. He held his own views clearly and strongly, but his
method of exposition accentuated differences: it had always a note of
asperity, though this was certainly not deliberate. One of the pleasant
memories which remains with me is of a day when debate grew acrimonious
and hot words were used. Mr. Pollock refused to reply to some phrases
which might have been regarded as taunts, because, he said, "I have made
friendships here which I never expected to make, and I value them too
much to risk the loss of them." That friendly temper, combined with his
ability, made him a valuable member of this Convention: but for the
critical work of bringing men's minds together, of sifting the essential
from the unessential, he was a bad exchange for Sir Alexander McDowell.

Redmond said to me that he had found Mr. Barrie much more conciliatory
than in the earlier and public stages. He was delighted with Lord
Midleton, who was, he said, "showing an Irish spirit which I never
expected";--standing up for the claims of an Irish Parliament if there
was to be one. In the discussion, however, one man, Bishop O'Donnell,
had been "head and shoulders above everyone else."

Argument had ranged about the question of customs and excise. This was
the dividing line. But when at last a deadlock was definitely reached,
the Ulster position was stated in a letter which refused to concede to
an Irish Parliament the control of either direct or indirect taxation.
It was to be a Parliament with no taxing power at all.

On the other hand, in the corresponding document from the Nationalist
side, the importance of immediate and full fiscal control had been put
very high.

"Self-government does not exist," it said, "where those nominally
entrusted with affairs of government have not control of fiscal and
economic policy. No nation with self-respect could accept the idea that
while its citizens were regarded as capable of creating wealth they were
regarded as incompetent to regulate the manner in which taxation of that
wealth should be arranged, and that another country should have the
power of levying and collecting taxes, the taxed country being placed in
the position of a person of infirm mind whose affairs are regulated by
trustees. No finality could be looked for in such an arrangement, not
even a temporary satisfaction."

The genesis of this passage should be told, for it had importance in the
history of the Convention; and also it conveys an idea of the limits to
which Redmond carried self-effacement. It is important because it acted
on Ulster like a red rag shown to a bull. Obviously, if this were the
Nationalist view, then the Home Rule Act could not be said to give
self-government--for under its system of contract finance Ireland
certainly had not control of her fiscal and economic policy. A measure
accepted with enthusiasm in 1912 was now regarded as impossible of
giving "even a temporary satisfaction."

What had happened was this. The Chairman in his tireless efforts to
bring about agreement had addressed two sets of questions, to the
Nationalists and to the Ulstermen respectively, by answering which he
hoped they might clear the air. The direct answers for the Nationalists
were drafted by Mr. Russell, but were shown to Redmond, Mr. Devlin and
the Bishop of Raphoe. It was, however, suggested that as an addendum a
summary should be added. Redmond did not ask to see this addition, and
it was not shown to him. It led off with the paragraph which has been
quoted. The fact that he allowed anything in any stage of such a
negotiation to go out in his name without his own revision marks the
loosening of grip--a tired man.

His exertions for the past years, the past ten years at least, had been
tremendous: they had been redoubled from 1912 to 1916. Towards the end,
one resource had been failing him--the chief of all. A leader when he is
well followed gives and takes; there is interchange of energy. For more
than a year now Redmond had lacked the moral support, the almost
physical stimulus, which comes from the ready response of followers.
Labour at no time came easy to him, there was much inertia in his
temperament; and the part which he had laid out for himself in the
Convention as merely an individual member did not impose on him the same
unremitting vigilance as if he acted as leader. Yet, the leadership was
his; if he did not exercise it, no one else could; and this incident
shows that his abnegation of leadership was not a mere phrase.

On November 22nd the Grand Committee reassembled to hear the report from
the Nine. Lord Southborough, who had presided at all their meetings,
detailed the conclusions which had been reached or the point on which
they had broken down.

Then followed a discussion lasting some three days, in which Ulstermen
and Nationalists reaffirmed their positions. Archbishop Bernard, the
Primate, and Lord MacDonnell all attempted mediation. Finally, Lord
Midleton, who described the position as "a stone wall on each side,"
announced that he and his group would put before the Grand Committee
certain proposals as a _via media_. These in effect conceded to an Irish
Parliament all that Nationalists claimed, subject only to the
reservation that customs must be fixed by the Imperial Parliament and
the produce of them retained as Ireland's contribution to Imperial

At this point our work was interrupted by the reemergence of the
redistribution question. Redmond and the other Irish members were
obliged to go to London and assist for two days at a debate in the worst
traditions of the House of Commons. The change of atmosphere was
extraordinary--and the accusations of bad faith were not limited to what
passed at Westminster. One virulent speech declared that the Convention
had no prospects, never had any, and was never intended to have any.
This was accompanied by an attack on the action of the Ulster
group--based, of course, on hearsay. Those of us who felt that at any
rate the Convention offered a better hope for Ireland than any which now
could be based on action at Westminster pleaded for the acceptance of a
proposal which Redmond put forward as a compromise--that the proposed
Irish clauses should be dropped from the main Bill and the Irish matter
dealt with in a separate statute. It was so agreed at last, and a
conference between Irish members, with the Speaker presiding, was set
up, and quickly did its work. But if all this had been agreed to in
October or earlier, much friction would have been saved and a cause of
quarrel with the Ulster that was not in the Convention might have been
avoided. Still, peace was achieved, and the proposal to cut down Irish
representation was once more defeated.

Grand Committee met for another session, but was chiefly concerned with
getting ready for the reassembling of Convention--fixed for Tuesday,
December 18th. It was decided that a group meeting of Nationalists for
informal discussion should be held on the Monday night--the first
occasion on which this had been done.

Ill-luck, however, seemed to dog us. Dr. Kelly, the Bishop of Ross, who
was much closer in his point of view to Redmond than any of the other
Bishops, was gravely ill. This was foreseen. But on the Monday a heavy
snowstorm fell; Redmond, shut up in his hills at Aughavanagh, could not
reach Dublin. The roads were not open till the Thursday, and then he
thought it too late to come. He was in truth already too ill to face any
unusual exertion.

The Convention had been summoned, not to receive a final report from the
Grand Committee, but to face a new situation. An offer had been put
forward by one group which altered the whole complexion of the
controversy. Grand Committee had abstained from deciding whether to
counsel acceptance or rejection. But for the first time an influential
body of Irish Unionists had agreed, not as individuals but as
representatives, to accept Home Rule, in a wider measure than had been
proffered by the Bills of 1886 and 1893 or by the Act of 1914.
Limitations which were imposed in all these had been struck out by Lord
Midleton's proposals.

On the other hand, it was certain that the Ulster group would reject the
scheme. Conversation among Nationalists made it plain that if Ulster
would agree with Lord Midleton we should all join them. For the sake of
an agreement reached between all sections of Irishmen, but for nothing
less conclusive, Dr. O'Donnell and Mr. Russell were content to waive the
claim to full fiscal independence. Such an agreement, they held, would
be accepted by Parliament in its integrity. But if Ulster stood out,
there would be no "substantial agreement," and the terms which
Nationalists and Southern Unionists might combine to propose would be
treated as a bargaining offer, certain to be chipped down by Government
towards conformity with the Ulster demand. In the result there would be
an uprising of opinion in Ireland against a measure so framed; the
fiasco of July, 1916, would repeat itself.

Against this, and prompting us to acceptance, was the view very strongly
held by Redmond, that Government urgently needed a settlement for the
sake of the war, and would use to the utmost any leverage which helped
them to this end. An agreement with Lord Midleton would mean a Home Rule
proposal proceeding from a leading Unionist statesman who spoke for the
interest in Ireland, which, if any, had reason to fear Nationalist
government. This would mean necessarily a profound change in the
attitude of the House of Lords and of all those social influences whose
power we had felt so painfully. Government could undoubtedly, if it
chose, carry a measure giving effect to this compact.

Further, weighing greatly with the instincts of the rank and file was
the motive which prompted Irish Nationalists to welcome the advance made
by those whom Lord Midleton represented. The Southern Unionists were the
old landowning and professional class, friendly in all ways of
intercourse, but politically severed and sundered from the mass of the
population. Now, they came forward with an offer to help in attaining
our desire--quite frankly, against their own declared conviction that
the Union was the best plan, but with an equally frank recognition that
the majority was the majority and was honest in its intent. The
personality of the men reinforced the effect of this: Lord Oranmore, for
instance, whom most of them had only known by anti-Home Rule speeches in
the House of Lords, revealed himself as the friendliest of Irishmen,
with the Irish love for a witty phrase.

This temperamental attitude was of help to Lord Midleton when on
December 18th he expounded the position of himself and his friends in a
very powerful argument, the more persuasive because the good will in his
audience softened his habitual touch of contentiousness. It had seemed
to them, he said, that both in the Nationalist and Northern Unionist
camp there was a tendency to consider dispositions out of doors and to
conciliate certain antagonisms without considering whether they excited
others. He and his friends had determined to fix their minds solely on
the Convention itself, and to pursue the purpose for which they were
summoned of endeavouring after agreement within that body. They were
Unionists; but they had asked themselves what could be removed from the
present system without disturbing the essence of Union; and in that
effort they would go to the extremest limit in their power, without
thought of conciliating opinions outside, and without any attempt to

On one point only he indicated that their scheme was tentative. Defence
was by consent of all left to the Imperial Parliament. This implied, he
held, an adequate contribution, and the yield of customs to be collected
by the Imperial Parliament seemed roughly to meet the case, for the
period of the war. But this was not absolutely a hard-and-fast proposal.
In any case, after the war, the amount should be the subject of inquiry
by a joint commission.

Apart from this, the offer was their last word. It conceded to Ireland
the control of all purely Irish services. This included the fixation of
excise, because excise on commodities produced in Ireland did not touch
the treaty-making power. Customs touched that power, and therefore
customs, like defence, must be left to the Imperial Parliament. But, he
argued, Irish Nationalists were not asked to give up anything which had
been conceded to them by any previous Home Rule proposal.

To all Unionists he said: These proposals keep the power of the Crown
over all Imperial services undiminished; they keep representation at
Westminster--a corollary from leaving the Imperial Parliament powers
over Irish taxation; and by accepting the suggestions already agreed
to, they give a generous representation to Unionists in an Irish
Parliament. This special representation of minorities was, he thought,
sufficient to give a guarantee of "sane legislation" while it lasted;
and he suggested that the period should be fifteen years. These
concessions, in his opinion, sufficiently protected Southern Unionists.
To Ulster he said, "We share every danger threatening you--we have many
dangers you need not fear. Yet, we have no sinister anticipations. Are
you still determined to stand out?"

On the other hand, when so much of the full demand was conceded, were
Nationalists insistent, he asked, on demanding what they had never asked
in the discussions upon any Home Rule Bill? Nationalist leaders had now
the chance of leading a combination of all sane elements in the
landowning and land-cultivating classes. No Irish leader had ever before
been able to present such an appeal to Unionist opinion as would come
from the man who represented a Convention Party.

It was a speech which Redmond, if present, must have replied to, and
could not have replied to without indicating profound sympathy--for he
was in agreement with its main lines; and his expression of opinion upon
it must have influenced strongly the views of the rank and file at the
moment when they were most open to suggestion.

In his absence, men's minds were greatly affected by the fear that if we
adopted these proposals, our decision would be exposed to attack from a
combination of three forces--Sinn Féin, which would at least officially
condemn anything less than complete separation, and would furiously
assail a proposal that denied full taxing powers; the Roman Catholic
Church, which would take its lead from Bishop O'Donnell, who set out in
an able memorandum the reasons why Ireland must have full control of
taxation; and finally, the powerful newspaper whose proprietor, Mr.
Murphy, at once gave signs of his hostility by putting on the paper an
amendment to Lord Midleton's resolution which amounted to a direct

The reassembly of the Convention was fixed for Wednesday, January 2nd.
Redmond came to Dublin on the Monday. He told me that he was inclined to
move that while we thanked Lord Midleton for his substantial
contribution towards our purpose, we could not accept his proposal,
unless it opened the way to a settlement. What he meant by this was not
merely that if Ulster agreed, we should accept; for that would certainly
open the way. But he had also in his mind the possibility of a guarantee
from Government that an arrangement come to, as this might be, by
four-fifths of the Convention, and repudiated only by the pledge-bound
Ulster block, would be regarded as substantial agreement, and taken as a
basis for legislation. In that case, also, the way would be open; but he
had no written assurance of such an understanding, though I gathered
that he was urging the Government to give it. We were, however, told on
good authority in these days that if the Southern Unionists' proposal
was accepted by the Nationalists and other elements outside of Ulster,
the Prime Minister would use his whole influence with his colleagues to
secure acceptance of the compact and immediate legislation upon it. This
would mean, we were also assured, that the whole thing would be done
before Easter.

On January 2nd the resumed debate for the first time brought the
Convention face to face with concrete proposals for a settlement. In
tone and in substance it would have done credit to any Parliament that
ever sat. I shall not try to summarize the arguments, but simply to note
certain outstanding facts.

Lord Midleton modified his original proposal that collection of customs
should be an Imperial service throughout. He agreed that collection
might be done by the Irish Civil Service. Moreover, he admitted that
Ireland must have full means of checking the account for these taxes,
great part of which must necessarily be collected at English ports,
since tea, tobacco and the other dutiable articles were seldom shipped
direct to Ireland.

But he made it plain that the essential of his proposal was the
maintenance of a common customs system, leaving the fixation of customs
to the Imperial Parliament for Great Britain and Ireland. If this was
denied, as it would be by the acceptance of Mr. Murphy's amendment, all
Unionists would be driven once more into the same lobby; all chance of
uniting elements heretofore divided would disappear.

This was the fact against which we were brought up. Insistence on the
full Nationalist demand as it had been outlined in the Convention meant
the refusal of a new and powerful alliance which now offered itself, and
the destruction of anything which could be called an agreement.

In the close, Lord Midleton reinforced his appeal by a solid material
argument. The sub-committee presided over by Lord MacDonnell had reached
unanimous conclusions embodying proposals for the completion of land
purchase within a very brief period. Landlords, agents, tenants,
representatives for Ulster as well as from the South and West, were
parties to this plan. Lord Midleton now looked back on the past as one
who had been in the fight since Mr. Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill.
Every fresh settlement had been wrecked, he said, by standing for the
last shred of the demand. In 1885, if Gladstone had abandoned the
identity of democratic franchise for both countries and had made to the
Irish minority such concessions as this Convention was willing to make,
he would have carried the Liberal Unionist element with him. Then, as
now, a great land purchase scheme depended on the solution of the main
problem. To-day land purchase stood or fell with the Convention.

He was backed by Lord Dunraven--who waived his preference for his own
original proposal--and by Lord Desart, in most able argument: the latter
declaring that the proposal to give Ireland a separate customs system
could never be carried in England. But the speech of the day came from
Mr. Kavanagh, who, speaking as a Nationalist who had been a Unionist,
ended a most moving appeal for agreement with a declaration that he at
all events would vote for the compromise. There was no mistaking the
effect produced by the earnestness of this speaker, who knew as much of
Ireland and was as well fitted to judge of its true interests as any man
in the room. That effect was felt, I think, in the tone of a private
meeting of Nationalists held the same night. Redmond, with the art of
which he was a master, indicated support for the proposal without
forcing a conclusion. He dwelt on the fact that if we did not agree we
not only lost our chance of immediate and complete land purchase but
left ourselves subjected to the entire burden of war taxation. Other
speakers pointed out that we ought not to let ourselves be lured into
driving the Southern Unionists and the Ulstermen together against us.
Mr. Clancy said in his downright manner that he would not as yet express
his view publicly: but that he was not going to reject this offer for
the sake of fixing taxes on tea and tobacco, and that when the right
time came, he would say so. The strongest arguments used against this
view were that in surrendering control of customs we lost our management
of the taxes which pressed upon the poor; and further, that even if we
agreed, no one knew what would result. We had no guarantee that the
compact would be expressed in legislation. But on the whole the tone
showed a disposition to accept, and especially to support Redmond--who
had spoken of his political career as a thing ended. Next day the debate
in Convention continued. Archbishop Bernard, speaking as a Unionist,
said that the proposal was a venture beset with risks, but the greatest
danger of all was to do nothing. It would be a grave responsibility for
Ulster to wreck the chance of a settlement. Lord Oranmore dwelt on the
composition of the proposed Legislature Power was to be entrusted to a
very different Parliament from that which they had feared. He and his
like were to get what they desired--an opportunity of taking part in
the government of the country. It looked to him as if the only possible
Irish Government under this scheme must be Unionist in its complexion.

Perhaps there was an echo of this in Redmond's speech, by far the
greatest he made in the Convention, when at last he intervened on
January 4th--the Friday which ended that session.

He dealt at once with Mr. Barrie's often repeated view that the proper
object of our endeavours was to find a compromise between the Act of
1914 and the proposal for partition put forward by Ulster. On that basis
the Convention could never have been brought together. The Prime
Minister's letter of May 16th which proposed the Convention suggested
that Irishmen should meet "for the purpose of drafting a Constitution
for their own country." On May 22nd Mr. Lloyd George had said, "We
propose that Ireland should try her own hand at hammering out an
instrument of government for her people." The only limitation was that
it should be a Constitution "for the future government of Ireland within
the Empire."

Then he turned to the argument that all the sacrifices were asked from
Unionists. Let us weigh them, he said. What sacrifices had been made by
the Irish Nationalists, since this chain of events began?--Then followed
a passage which I recapitulate, not necessarily in full, but in phrases
which he actually used, and I noted down:

"Personal loss I set aside. My position--our position--before the war
was that we possessed the confidence of nearly the entire country. I
took a risk--we took it--with eyes open. I have--we have--not merely
taken the risk but made the sacrifice. If the choice were to be made
to-morrow, I would do it all over again.

"I have had my surfeit of public life. My modest ambition would be to
serve in some quite humble capacity under the first Unionist Prime
Minister of Ireland."

As to other sacrifices, in the way of concessions, he recited the list
of what had been agreed to--proposals so strangely undemocratic--the
nomination of members of Parliament, the disproportionate powers given
to a minority. "Shall we not be denounced for making them?" he asked.

On the other hand, what sacrifices had been made by the Southern
Unionists? These were the men who had had the hardest battle to fight in
the struggle over Home Rule. They were not, like Ulster Unionists,
"entrenched in a ring-fence," but the scattered few, who had suffered
most and who might naturally have entertained most bitterness. Yet Lord
Midleton's speech had been instinct with an admirable spirit. The speech
of the Archbishop of Dublin had touched him deeply.

"Between these men and us there never again can be the differences of
the past. They have put behind them all bitter memories. They have
agreed to the framework of a Bill better than any offered to us in 1886,
1893 or 1914."

As for us Nationalists--he emphasized that each man came here free,

"I speak only for myself. But even if I stand alone, I will not allow
myself, because I cannot get the full measure of my demand, to be drawn
to reject the proffered hand of friendship held out to us. In my opinion
we should be political fools if we did not endeavour to cement an
alliance with these men."

As concerned the Labour men, Mr. Whitley, who had always been a
Unionist, had declared willingness to agree. But the Ulster
Unionists--what sacrifice had they made?

"The last thing I desire is to attack Mr. Barrie and his friends. But
they are not free agents. I was shocked when I heard that a section here
openly avowed the need to refer back to some outside body. If we had
been told we were going into a body which would consist of two orders of
members, it would have been difficult to get us here."

On the essential point Ulster had made no concession. What did Mr.
Barrie say in his formal document? 'We are satisfied that for Ireland
and for Great Britain a common system of finances with one Exchequer is
a fundamental necessity.' If they denied the taxing power to Ireland,
any proposal on these lines must give Ireland less than any proposal for
Home Rule ever put forward. This was Ulster's original position and they
had not budged an inch.

"This is their response to the Empire's S.O.S. Is it worthy of Ulster's
Imperial loyalty? I don't believe it is their last word."

Lord Londonderry, however, in replying, did not add any ground of hope.
The last speech of the day announced that of six trade unionists five
would support the compromise.

Redmond that evening put on the notice paper a motion adopting Lord
Midleton's proposals provided that they "be adopted by His Majesty's
Government as a settlement of the Irish question and legislative effect
be given to them forthwith."

On the day before this motion was tabled, a party was given at Lord
Granard's house which everybody attended, and which marked the most
festive moment of our comradeship. When we separated on the Friday most
men were absolutely confident of an agreement covering four-fifths of
the Convention.

Unhappily, the motion could not come under consideration for a period of
ten days. In the following week Lord Midleton thought it necessary to
attend the House of Lords. It was settled that we should spend the
interval discussing the land purchase report, for which his presence was
not essential. Redmond, whose health was still bad, did not come up to
Dublin. All this gave time for agitation, and agitation was at work.

Still, during that week there was no sign of any change in tone. Members
of the local bodies who had gone to their homes at the week's end came
back just as much inclined to settle as before.

I met Redmond on the night of Monday, January 14th. He had seen no one
in these ten days. He told me that he was still uncertain what would
happen, but asked me to get one of the leading County Councillors to
second his motion. Next morning I came in half an hour before the
meeting to find the man I wanted. When I met him he was full of
excitement, and said, "Something has gone wrong; the men are all saying
they must vote against Redmond." Then it was evident that propaganda had
been busy to some purpose.

When Redmond came in to his place, I said, "It's all right. Martin
McDonogh will second your motion." He answered with a characteristic
brusqueness, "He needn't trouble. I'm not going to move it; Devlin and
the Bishops are voting against me."

He rose immediately the Chairman was in his place.

"The amendment which I have on the paper," he said, "embodies the
deliberate advice I give to the Convention.

"I consulted no one--and could not do so, being ill. It stands on record
on my sole responsibility.

"Since entering the building I have heard that some very important
Nationalist representatives are against this course--the Catholic
bishops, Mr. Devlin--and others. I must face the situation--at which I
am surprised; and I regret it.

"If I proceeded I should probably carry my point on a division, but the
Nationalists would be divided. Such a division could not carry out the
objects I have in view.

"Therefore, I must avoid pressing my motion. But I leave it standing on
the paper. The others will give their advice. I feel that I can be of no
further service to the Convention and will therefore not move."[13]

There was a pause of consternation. The Chairman intervened and the
debate proceeded, and was carried on through the week. During its course
a letter to the Chairman from the Bishop of Ross was circulated to us,
most dexterous in exposition, most affecting in the tone of its
conclusion. It can be read in the Report of the Convention and it cannot
with justice be quoted except at full length--so admirable is the
linking of argument. It need only be said here that it was an appeal "to
my fellow-Nationalists who have already made great concessions" to
yield, for the sake of a settlement, this further point, and that the
appeal was signed "from my sick-bed, not far removed from my death-bed."
That eloquent voice and subtle brain could ill be spared from our
assembly: but the letter came too late. It is plain that the writer had
no inkling of what would happen till it was actually taking place.

No one can overstate the effect of this episode. Redmond's personal
ascendancy in the Convention had become very great. I am certain there
was not a man there but would have said, "If there is to be an Irish
Parliament, Redmond must be Prime Minister, and his personality will
give that Parliament its best possible chance." The Ulstermen had more
than once expressed their view that if Home Rule were sure to mean
Redmond's rule, their objections to it would be materially lessened.
Now, they saw Redmond thrown over, and by a combination in which the
clerical influence, so much distrusted by them, was paramount.


A new stage in the history of the Convention now opens. In the interval
between the meeting which began by Redmond's withdrawal of his amendment
and that of the following week, Sir Horace Plunkett went to London and
laid the situation before the Prime Minister. Redmond had also written
to Mr. Lloyd George stating that no progress could be made unless
Government would declare its intentions as to legislation. The Chairman
came back with the following letter in his pocket:


     WHITEHALL, S.W. 1,

     _January_ 21, 1918.


     In our conversation on Saturday you told me that the situation in
     the Convention has now reached a very critical stage. The issues
     are so grave that I feel the Convention should not come to a
     definite break without the Government having an opportunity of full
     consultation with the leaders of the different sections. If, and
     when, therefore, a point is reached at which the Convention finds
     that it can make no further progress towards an agreed settlement,
     I would ask that representatives should be sent to confer with the
     Cabinet. The Government are agreed and determined that a solution
     must be found. But they are firmly convinced that the best hope of
     a settlement lies within the Convention, and they are prepared to
     do anything in their power to assist the Convention finally to
     reach a basis of agreement which would enable a new Irish
     Constitution to come into operation with the consent of all

     Yours sincerely,


Before acting on this, Sir Horace Plunkett allowed the debate to
continue during two days. Since no movement towards agreement manifested
itself, but only evidence of widespread and various divergence, he laid
the Prime Minister's invitation before the Convention. There was
considerable difference of opinion before a decision was reached for
acceptance. Groups separated to select their representatives on the

It was agreed in private conference that only one view should be
presented from the Nationalist side, and that the view of what was at
this point clearly the majority. Redmond, in agreeing to act as a
delegate, agreed to set aside his own judgment and to press the claim
for full fiscal responsibility--which, like other Nationalists, he
regarded as in the abstract Ireland's right. But illness prevented him
from attending when at last the delegates were received by the Prime
Minister on February 13th.

On the 5th he had asked a question in Parliament--the last he was to ask
there. It concerned the starting of a factory for the manufacture of
aircraft in Dublin--one of the things for which he was pressing in his
ceaseless effort to bring Ireland some industrial advantage from the
war. I saw him towards the end of that month in his room at the House,
and he commented bitterly upon a raid carried out by Sinn Féiners, in
which some newly erected buildings were destroyed at one of the
aerodromes near Dublin which he had helped to establish. But the main
thing he had to say concerned the course of the Convention. Everything,
in his judgment, was wrecked; he saw nothing ahead for his country but
ruin and chaos.

He spoke of his health. A bout of sickness which had prostrated him at
Christmas in Dublin had left him uneasy. He was at the time, I thought,
unduly alarmed about himself, and I believed that the continuance of
this frame of mind was simply characteristic of a man who had very
little experience of ill-health. I left him with profound compassion for
his trouble of spirit, but without any serious apprehension for his
state of body.

The Convention reassembled on February 26th to consider the result of
the delegation, which was summed up in a letter from Mr. Lloyd George.
This well-known document begins with a definite pledge of action. On
receiving the report of the Convention the Government would give it
immediate attention and would "proceed with the least possible delay to
submit legislative proposals to Parliament."--The date of this pledge
was February 25, 1918.--Mr. Lloyd George pressed, however, for a
settlement "in and through the Convention"; and he declared his
conviction that "In view of previous attempts at settlement and of the
deliberations of the Convention itself, the only hope of agreement lies
in a solution which on the one side provides for the unity of Ireland by
a single Legislature, with adequate safeguards for the interests of
Ulster and of the Southern Unionists, and, on the other, secures the
well-being of the Empire and the fundamental unity of the United

Ireland's strong claim to some control of indirect taxation was
admitted; but it was laid down that till two years after the war the
fixation and collection of customs and excise should be left to the
Imperial Parliament: and that at the end of the war a Royal Commission
should report on Ireland's contribution to Imperial expenditure and
should submit proposals as to the fiscal relations of the two countries.

For the war period, Ireland was to contribute "an agreed proportion of
the Imperial expenditure," but was to receive the full proceeds of Irish
revenue from customs and excise, less the agreed contribution. The
police and postal services were to be reserved also as war services.

These provisions were laid down as essentials. A suggestion was made of
an Ulster Committee within the Irish Parliament, having power to modify
or veto measures, whether of legislation or administration, in their
application to Ulster.

Lastly, Government expressed their willingness to accept and finance
the Convention's scheme for land purchase and to give a large grant for
urban housing.

The question now before the Convention was whether it should or should
not accept this offer, which differed from the Midleton proposals in
that it withheld the control of excise as well as of customs, and that
it retained control of police and Post Office for the war period. It
also adumbrated an Ulster Committee, which had been an unpopular
suggestion when put forward in the presentation stages. On the other
hand, it offered great material inducements in the proposed expenditure
for land purchase and for housing. Some of the County Councillors who
had been most vehement in their opposition to the Midleton compromise
were now disposed to think this too good an offer to let go, but
believed it could be obtained without their taking the responsibility of
voting for it. It was necessary to point out that the Irish party could
not lower a standard of national demand set up by the Nationalists in
the Convention, and that if they did so they would be hooted out of

The main argument of those who advised against acceptance was that
Ministers had pledged themselves to act in any case. Let them. We could
best help by enunciating our own programme. Then they would know the
real facts of the Irish situation. If a majority of the Convention
accepted the proposals of the Prime Minister's letter, there was no
pledge that the Bill would be on those lines. We needed to keep a
bargaining margin in what we put forward. It was even suggested that the
Government proposals would be more likely to attract support in Ireland
if put forward as a generous offer from a largely Unionist Government
than if published as a compromise to which Nationalists had

Our reply was that the essential thing was to make a beginning with
self-government, and that by refusing to accept the Government's offer,
on which alone we could combine with an influential Unionist section, we
gravely increased the difficulties in the way of carrying Home Rule. If,
as we held, the main need was to unite Ireland, the last thing on which
we should insist was the concession of complete financial powers. When
the lack of those powers began to prove itself injurious to Ireland's
material interests, Ireland would certainly become united in a demand
for the concession of them; and the history of the British Empire since
the loss of America showed that every such demand had been granted to a
self-governing State.

At this moment interest centred on the discussion in private councils of
Nationalists. The debates in full Convention were animated, but somewhat
unreal by comparison. Lord Midleton's motion had been dropped, by
consent, for a series of resolutions tabled by Lord MacDonnell which
were in substance an acceptance of Government's proposal.

But neither in the private councils nor in the public debates had we
Redmond's presence. His illness had grown serious; an operation was
necessary; it passed over hopefully, and on Tuesday, March 5th, when the
debate resumed, Mr. Clancy had a telegram saying that he was practically
out of danger.

It was plain in these days that we were nearing a most critical
decision, and Nationalist opinion was profoundly uneasy. Many men were
drifting back to Redmond's view, and recoiled from the prospect of
dividing the Convention once more into its original component
parts--Nationalists on the one side, Unionists on the other. It was
proposed that on the Wednesday Nationalists should meet and, if
possible, concert joint action; if not, determine definitely each to go
our own ways; for a painful part of the situation was that all of us had
been used to act together, and none now felt himself free of some
obligation. This had to be cleared up When we came down to Trinity
College that morning, the news met us that Redmond was dead.

The Convention adjourned its work, although time pressed most seriously,
till after the interment. Ireland is a country where a public man can
always count on a good funeral. The body was brought to Kingstown, and
thence by special train to Wexford, where he had expressed the wish to
be laid, in the burying-place of his own people and in the town with
which he had been most closely associated. Hundreds of men came from
distant parts to mark their sorrow and respect: what remained of him was
carried in long and imposing procession through the streets. Over the
grave Mr. Dillon, who had been chosen to succeed him in the chair of the
Irish party, spoke eloquent and fitting words. Some day, no doubt, a
monument to his memory will be set up in the streets of Wexford, where
his great uncle's statue stands, and where will be placed the memorial
to his gallant brother, subscribed for from all parts of the kingdom and
from all Irish regiments in the Army.

But I say without hesitation that the first and most striking endeavour
to put in lasting shape a tribute to John Redmond was made in the
Convention, not by great men, but by the ordinary rank and file of Irish
Nationalists, who went back from the graveside to the work which his
death had interrupted.

Those who had been inclined before to accept his advice--still standing
on our minutes--were now more than ever determined to follow it. That
advice was not to refuse the hand of friendship which offered itself
from men who by alliance with us could take away from the Home Rule
demand all sectarian character: who could bring for the first time a
great and representative body of Irish landlord opinion and Irish
Protestant opinion into line with the opinion of Irish tenants and Irish
Catholics. In order to act upon this advice men needed to face a
powerful combination of forces and much threatened unpopularity: they
had to encounter the hostility of an able and vindictively conducted
newspaper; they had to separate themselves politically from the united
voice of their own hierarchy; they had to break away from the politician
who for many years now had equalled Redmond in his influence in Ireland
and surpassed him in popularity. All of them were representative of
constituents, all were living among those whom they represented; not a
man of them but knew he would worsen his personal and political position
by what he did. Yet, for that is the true way to state it, they stood to
their dead leader's policy.

It needs not to follow out in any detail the steps by which we reached
the end of our labours. In the upshot, the Ulster group of nineteen
dissented from everything and joined in a report which renewed the
demand for partition. The Primate and the Provost signed a separate note
declaring that a Federal Scheme based on the Swiss or Canadian system
offered the only solution which could avoid the alternative choice
between the coercion of Ulster and the partition of Ireland. The
remaining members, sixty-six in all, accepted one common scheme.[14]
Their number included ten Southern Unionists, five Labour
representatives (three of whom were Protestant artisans from Belfast),
with Lords Granard, MacDonnell and Dunraven, Sir Bertram Windle and the
representatives of the Dublin and Cork Chambers of Commerce.

The scheme on which we concurred recommended the immediate establishment
of self-government by an Irish Ministry responsible to a Parliament
consisting of two Houses, composed on highly artificial lines. For a
period of fifteen years Southern Unionists were to be represented by
nominated members, while Ulster was to have extra members elected by
special constituencies representing commercial and agricultural
interests. The Parliament was to have full control of internal
legislation, administration and direct taxation. The fixation of customs
and excise was to be from Westminster, but the proceeds of these taxes
to be paid into the Irish Exchequer. There was to be a contribution to
the cost of Imperial defences, and representation at Westminster, but a
representation of the Irish Parliament rather than of the
constituencies. All of this was agreed to at our last meeting, and
nothing could have been more pleasant than the atmosphere of good will
which prevailed. But this was after a critical division--the most
critical in which I have ever voted--in which those of us Nationalists
who were for accepting the Government proposals voted with the Southern
Unionists and those who were against with the Ulster group. The
combination of Ulstermen and extreme Nationalists was thirty-four
strong; those who adopted Redmond's policy and Lord Midleton's were
thirty-eight. We had in our lobby sixteen of the Nationalist County and
Urban Councillors; they had eleven.

If that vote had gone otherwise, we were told plainly that the Southern
Unionists would be no parties to the rest of the compromise. They were
willing to recommend self-government only if the Convention recommended
the reservation of customs to the Imperial Parliament. This point had
become in their minds important even more as a symbol of the close union
between the two kingdoms than by reason of the economic advantages which
they attributed to it.

Once the sticking-point was passed, the divided Nationalists recombined,
and we were all at one in our mutual felicitations on the harmony which
prevailed at the close. But as one of our rank and file said in my ear,
"If we had not given the vote we did, where would be all this talk of
harmony? And mind you now, it was not easy to give it."

He was right, and within six months it cost him the chairmanship of his
County Council. Others paid the same penalty, I am sure, without
grudging it, for most of us were prouder of that action than of any
other in our political lives. It may be well to set down the names of
the local representatives and Labour men who voted as Redmond would have
advised on that first crucial division.

They were: W. Broderick, Youghal Urban Council; J.J. Coen, Westmeath
County Council; D. Condren, Wicklow County Council; J. Dooly, Kings
County County Council; Captain Doran, Louth County Council; T. Fallon,
Leitrim County Council; J. Fitzgibbon, Roscommon County Council; Captain
Gwynn, Irish Party; T. Halligan, Meath County Council; W. Kavanagh,
Carlow County Council; J. McCarron, Labour; M. McDonogh, Galway Urban
Council; J. McDonnell, Galway County Council; C. McKay, Labour; J.
Murphy, Labour; J. O'Dowd, Sligo County Council; C.P. O'Neill, Pembroke
Urban Council; Dr. O'Sullivan, Mayor of Waterford; T. Power, Waterford
County Council; Sir S.B. Quin, Mayor of Limerick; D. Reilly, Cavan
County Council; M. Slattery, Tipperary (S. Riding); H.T. Whitley,

In so far as we were led by anyone, Mr. Clancy, fulfilling in public
what he had privately spoken, was our leader and spokesman.

We were along with the Southern Unionists and our natural allies, Lords
Granard and MacDonnell and Sir Bertram Windle. Archbishop Bernard and
Dr. Mahaffy voted with us in that pinch, so that both the late Provost
of Trinity and the present one did their part to secure an agreement.

In the other list, the Archbishop of Armagh and the Moderator were
grouped with the Archbishop of Cashel and the Bishops of Raphoe and Down
and Connor; the Lord Mayor of Cork and Lord Mayor of Belfast were
together; Mr. Devlin was with Mr. Barrie. This list represented no unity
except a common refusal to agree to any compromise. Those who voted in
it followed one or other of two trains of cogent reasoning; but the
reasonings led to opposite conclusions. These men were beyond doubt as
honest in their convictions as those who went the other way; but they
took the easier course, whether they were Nationalist or Unionist: they
swam with the tide.

The troubles which Nationalists brought on themselves by supporting Lord
Midleton were answered by the troubles which his group met for
supporting Nationalist demands. The men who refused to make the
compromise possible have the laugh of us. Neither section of us who
voted for agreement achieved anything by facing the risk of
unpopularity. We had followed Redmond's policy and we shared Redmond's
fate. We had done our best to help the British Government and that
Government itself defeated us.

By the Prime Minister's letter Government was pledged to legislate for
the better government of Ireland, not upon condition of our reaching
substantial agreement, but in any event. Yet the letter emphasized the
"urgent importance of getting a settlement in and through the
Convention." We had secured a report for a scheme in which sixty-six out
of eighty-seven concurred in the broad lines; and of the twenty-one
dissentients, nineteen were a group sent to the assembly with a pledge
which they construed as giving them a special position, in that no
legislation affecting them was to be passed without their concurrence.
The agreement which we had reached enabled the Government, when it
undertook legislation, to quote Unionist authority on the one hand and
Nationalist authority on the other for many wise provisions which
otherwise a Coalition Ministry might have found it most difficult to

But no legislation followed. Once more an Irish issue became involved in
the wheels of the English political machine.

We have ourselves in part to thank for it. We might in January have
taken Redmond's advice, and Lord Midleton's declared view that
legislation would follow might have proved correct. Yet, what use are
might-have-beens? History is concerned with what happened, and our work
in the Convention dragged itself on till the great German offensive had
been launched and the Allied line pushed back to the very gates of
Paris, and Government was at its wits' end for men. It is hard to blame
a Ministry for what harm was done in the frantic rush to cope with
perhaps the most critical instant in all history; but what was done
produced infinite mischief and no good result. Immediately after the
Convention's report (signed upon April 8th) had been received,
Government proposed to apply conscription to Ireland.

It is said, and it is not difficult to believe, that without making this
proposal they dare not have come upon the British people with so extreme
demands for compulsory service as were made. But by making it Ministers
tore up and scattered in fragments whatever results the Convention had
to show for its labours, and by legislating for conscription in Ireland
they gained not one man. The proposal, as Redmond had always told them,
proved impossible to carry out.

I do not believe that if Redmond had lived this would ever have
happened. His record in the war gave him an authority in Parliament
which no other Irishman could possibly claim. It would have been
impossible for Mr. Lloyd George to take such a step without giving him
notice; and once that notice came, Redmond could have insisted upon the
significance of the report of the Convention's sub-committee on
questions of defence. This committee consisted of two civilians and
three soldiers. Lord Desart, a Unionist, was in the chair; Mr. Powell,
K.C., a Unionist (afterwards Irish Solicitor-General and now a judge),
was the other civilian; the soldiers were the Duke of Abercorn, an
Ulster Covenanter, with Captain Doran and myself, Nationalists from the
Sixteenth Division. We found unanimously that if an Irish Parliament
existed, whatever might be the claims of the Imperial authority, it
would be impracticable to impose conscription without the Irish
Parliament's consent. This unanimous finding was bound to influence the
view of any Ministry, no matter how hard pressed. But, as debate
revealed, Mr. Lloyd George had never heard of it.

I believe that Redmond could have persuaded Mr. Lloyd George to adopt in
April the course on which--but after the harm was done--he fell back in
June, when Lord French asked for a large, but limited, number of
recruits to refill the Irish Divisions within a specified time--at the
end of which time, failing the production of the volunteers, other
measures must be taken. Here, however, we are back in the region of
speculation. Conscription was proposed and anarchy let loose in Ireland.
Redmond's words, "Better for us never to have met than to have met and
failed," stand as the final sentence on this notable episode in Irish

That is the Convention's epitaph as, I think, he would have written it.
How shall we write his own?

No attempt has been made in this book, and none shall be made, to
represent him as a hero. But there are certain attributes which malice
itself can scarcely deny him. All his ideals were generous. His love of
country, the master-motive in his life, had nothing in it exclusive or
tribal or partisan. His was a policy forward-looking and constructive;
without narrowness or jealousy, it aimed to bring the destinies of
Ireland into the hands of Irishmen, not greatly caring what Irishmen
they were--indeed, if they were in a real measure responsible to
Ireland, not caring at all. In this spirit he grasped masterfully at the
chance which the war offered; in this spirit, he went out to meet his
fellow-countrymen in the Irish Convention.

And not only towards his countrymen was he magnanimous. His love of
Ireland was free from all attendant hates. His resentment was never on
private grounds, and it was without rancour. He spent his whole life in
opposition, and was not embittered; his mind remained constructive after
thirty years spent in criticism. His experience of political life and of
English Ministers had rid him of any credulous faith in mankind; yet his
instinct was always to perceive the best in men. The friend who knew him
best in Convention, and who had seen him in his darkest hours then and
long ago, said this of him: "He was always an optimist." The speaker did
not mean--he could not have meant--that in those last months Redmond was
sanguine. He meant, I think, that he had faith; that in a country where
suspicion is the prevailing disease, he credited men with honest motives
and with his own love of Ireland.

If he went wrong at any time, he went wrong by too generous a judgment
of other men, too open-handed a policy. Perhaps, too, he may have
erred--it was his characteristic defect--in not pressing his policy upon
others with more vehemence. He had not the temperament which, when once
possessed with an idea, rests neither night nor day in pursuit of it and
spares neither others' labour nor its own to carry the conception into
effect. There was an element of inertia in his nature, and of the
ordinary self-seeking motives which impel men not a trace. Ambition he
had none--none, at all events, in the last ten or fifteen years, during
which I have known him. As for vanity, I never saw a man so entirely
devoid of it. His modesty amounted to a defect, in that he always
underestimated his personal influence. A man less single-minded, vainer,
more ambitious of success, might with the same gifts have achieved more
for Ireland in thrusting towards a personal triumph. A man with more
love for the homage of crowds might have kept himself in closer touch
with the mass of his following.

The way of life to which he was committed was in its essence distasteful
to him. I do not believe that history shows an example of a statesman
who served his country more absolutely from a sense of duty.

All this might be admitted without conceding greatness to him. But he
was a great man, unlike others, cast in a mould of his own. Without the
least affectation of unconventionality, and indeed under a formal
appearance, he was profoundly unconventional. His tastes, whether in
literature, in art, in the choice of society, in the choice of his way
of life, were utterly his own, unaffected by any standard but that which
he himself established. Without subtlety of interpretation, his
judgments cut deep into the heart of things. You could not hear him
speak, could not be in his presence, without feeling the weight of his

A statesman, if ever there was one, he was never given the opportunity
of proving himself in administration; he can be judged only by his gifts
in counsel and by his power of guiding action. As a counsellor, he was
supreme. He had that faculty for anticipating the future, that broad,
far-reaching vision of the chain of events which can proceed only from
long, deep and constant thought, and which is truly admirable when
united, as it was in him, to a sovereign contempt for this or that
momentary outcry. In these qualities of insight and foresight I have
only seen one man approach him, the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
to whose credit stands the greatest work of Imperial reconciliation
accomplished in our day. But Redmond had supremely what the wise old
Scotsman lacked--the gift of persuasive speech, to win acceptance for
his wisdom and his vision.

He could persuade, but he could not compel. His was not the magnetism
which constrains allegiance almost in despite of reason--the power which
was possessed by his first and only leader, Parnell. Redmond's appeal
was to men's judgment and convictions, not to those instincts which lie
deepest and most potent in the heart of man. That was the limitation to
his greatness. He could lead only by convincing men that he was right.

If in the end it is true he failed to convince his countrymen and failed
to carry them with him, this book has told what difficulties were set in
his way, not so much by those who desired a different end than his, but
by those who desired the same end. Yet admit that he failed and that he
fell from power. No man holds power for ever, and during seventeen
continuous years he held the leadership among his own people with far
more than all the personal ascendancy of a Prime Minister in one of the
oversea Dominions; and he held it without any of the binding force which
control of administration and patronage bestows. He left his people
improved in their material circumstances to an almost incredible degree,
as compared with their state when he began his work.

Yet Ireland counts his life a failure, and he most assuredly accepted
that view; for he died heartbroken, not for his own sake but for
Ireland's, because he had not won through to the goal. His action upon
the war was his life's supreme action; he felt this, and knew that it
had failed to achieve its end. By that action let us judge him, for all
else is trivial in comparison beside it.

It is said by his critics that he bargained badly. If reply were made
that he believed the Allied cause to be right and desired to lead his
country according to his conception of justice, we should be answered
that he was in charge of his country's interests, not of her morals; and
he would have admitted an element of truth in this. Yet, as in the Boer
War he had led his countrymen to support what he conceived to be the
right cause, even with certain injury to their own, so now assuredly he
would not have acted as he did, had he not been convinced that Ireland's
honour was to be served as well as her advantage.

But when there is talk of bargaining, it is well to consider what he had
to bargain with. No one in August 1914 anticipated the course of the
war. No one foresaw the need for the last man available. It was more
than a year before Great Britain could even equip the men who pressed
themselves forward for service. All that he really had in his hand to
give or to withhold was the value of Ireland's moral support. Could he
by waiting his time have made a better bargain?

When that critical hour came, Redmond knew in his, bones the weight of
Ireland's history; he knew all the propensities which would instantly
tend to assert themselves, unless their play was checked by a strong
counter-emotion. He knew that if Ireland said nothing and did nothing at
the crisis, things would be said of Ireland which would rapidly engender
rising passion; and with the growth of that passion all possibility, not
of bargaining but of controlling the situation between the two countries
would be gone. In plain language, if he had not acted at once, his only
chance for action would have been in heading an Ireland hostile to
England. In this war, with the issue defined as it was from the outset,
he could only have done this by denying all that he believed. But apart
from his judgment of the merits, there was his purpose of unity to be
served. Ulster was the difficulty; all other obstacles were disposed of.
How could he hope for an Ulster united to Ireland, if Ulster were
divided from Ireland on the war?

Everything depended on an instant and almost desperate move. He might
have left the sole offer of service from Ireland to lie with Sir Edward
Carson. What he did actually was to offer instantly all that the
Ulstermen had offered, and more, for he proposed active union in Ireland
itself. It was a bold stroke, but it was guided by an ideal perpetually
present with him--the essential unity of Ireland. To set Irishmen
working together at such a crisis in the common name of Ireland was an
object for which he was willing to jeopardize the whole organization
which stood behind him, at a moment when he could speak of full right
for three-fourths of his countrymen. And, when he is called a failure,
let it be remembered that in this he did not fail.

This fight is not yet ended, the long battle is not lost. Had Ireland
from the first stood aloof, had she been drawn at the war's opening into
the temper which she displayed in its closing stages, then indeed we
might despair of any hopeful issue, any genuine peace between these two
neighbouring islands, and, what matters infinitely more, between the
strong yet divergent strains that make up Ireland itself.

But as the mists of passion clear and deeds rather than words come into
sharp light, it will be seen and realized that for a thousand Irishmen
who risked their lives to defeat Redmond's effort there were fifty
thousand who at his summons took on themselves far greater hardships and
faced dangers far more terrible. By them we take our stand--we who
followed Redmond, who believed and still believe in his wisdom. We wish
no word of his last years unspoken, no act undone by that great and
generous-hearted Irishman in the supreme period of his life. In his
defeat and ours, we accept no defeat; we shall endeavour to keep our
will set, as his was, for a final triumph which can mean humiliation for
no Irish heart. Tangled as are the threads of all his policy, he leaves
the task far nearer to accomplishment than he found it; and if in the
end freedom and prosperity come to a united Ireland, they will be found
to proceed--however deeply overlaid by years and by events may be the
chain of causation--from the action which John Redmond took in August
1914, and upon which his brother, with a legion like him, set the seal
of his blood.

To have served long and faithfully without reward--to have given all of
life to one high purpose--to have faced a great crisis greatly--these
are claims enough for Redmond that the allegiance of his comrades and
followers may be justified when it is judged. The grave has closed over
him, and the rest is for us to do, that a coping-stone may be set on his
life's labours, and that reparation final and conclusive, for what he
suffered undeservedly, may yet be offered to the dead.


[Footnote 10: When ultimately we did meet, these were the elements which

[Footnote 11: His notes here are only references to quotations. I
supplement on this page by my own notes.--S.G.]

[Footnote 12: He was knighted for his work in connection with the war.]

[Footnote 13: These are my notes, jotted as he spoke.--S.G.]

[Footnote 14: Subject to the publication of a Report signed by Bishop
O'Donnell, and these in agreement with him reaffirmed their view.]

[Footnote 15: The following, though unavoidably absent at the critical
moment, joined with us: M.K. Barry, Cork County Council; J. Butler,
Kilkenny County Council; Patrick Dempsey, Belfast; M. Governey, Carlow
Urban Council; M.J. Minch, Kildare County Council.]


Agar-Robartes, Mr., 68-69
Ancient Order of Hibernians, 259
  Irish Brigades raised for the War--
    Sixteenth Division,
      staffing of, 174, 187-188;
      development of opinions in, 188;
      10th Division made up from, 194-195;
      proceeds to France, 200-201;
      in action, 230, 241;
      Messines, 264-265;
      Ypres, 306
    Tenth Division, 195
    Tyneside Battalions, 190
    Ulster Division, 201;
      on the Somme, 240;
      Messines, 264-265;
      Ypres, 306
  Irish Nationalist attitude to, 140-141
  Irish recruiting--
    Redmond's efforts, 154-155, 158, 176-179, 185, 191-192, 199, 202,
                       207, 211;
    efforts handicapped by Government, 163, 175-6, 177, 190-191, 206;
    letter to Birrell, 160;
    Sinn Féin propaganda against, 219
  Irish Regulars' achievements, 150;
    in Gallipoli, 195 ff.
  Ulster sympathies of, 83, 99, 104 ff.;
    the Curragh incident, 105-109
Ashe, Thomas, 300-2
Asquith, H.H.,
  struggle of, with House of Lords, 43-46, 50;
  on indivisibility of Ireland, 69, 72;
  Ladybank speech, (Oct., 1913), 85
  War Minister, 109
  response to Redmond's National Defence offer, 138, 143
  on Ulster preparations for resisting Home Rule, 148
  fails Redmond, 153, 167
  recruiting speech in Dublin, 155-157
  the Coalition, 192
  Redmond's letter to, against conscription, 208-209
  the Rebellion, 226
  reports on his visit to Ireland, 232
  breaks faith with Redmond, 239-240
  displaced, 244
  estimate of, 87, 93
  mentioned, 30, 34, 41, 73, 138, 139
Aughavanagh, 37-39, 267

Balfour, A.J., 55-56
Balfour, G., 23
Barrie, Mr., 271, 304, 308, 321
Beatty, Admiral, 158
Bernard, Dr., Abp. of Dublin, 272, 310, 318
  three points of, 291 ff.
Biggar, Joseph, 6
Birrell, A., Redmond's letter to, on the Volunteers, 160
  on Kitchener's attitude to Irish National Volunteers, 162
  _Appreciation_ of Redmond quoted, 162, 184
  the Rebellion, 219-220
  mentioned, 31, 69, 139, 198
Blake, E., 24
Brade, Sir R., 203
Budget of 1909-10, 42, 47
Butler, Sir W., 5
Butt, Isaac, 6

Campbell, Sir James, 219
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H., 34, 337
Carson, Sir E.,
  the Covenant demonstrations, 72;
  moves exclusion of Ulster, 75;
  on Ulster and the Army, 105;
  on possibility of persuading Ulster, 114;
  the Speaker's Conference, 121;
  attitude to Home Rule enactment, 148-149;
  joins the Coalition, 192-193;
  interpretation of exclusion proposals, 234;
  refuses joint platform at Newry, 200;
  kills Volunteer Bill, 208;
  on conscription for Ireland, 210, 211;
  final victory against Redmond, 240;
  temperamental attitude to Home Rule, 96-97;
  quoted, 67, 71, 80-81, 83, 100;
  appeal on Ulster's claim, 97-98;
  mentioned, 89, 229, 260, 263
Casement, Sir Roger, 116, 221, 223;
  quoted, 115, 118
Castletown, Lord, 24
Cecil, Lord Hugh, 50
Cecil, Lord Robert, 115
Chamberlain, Austen, 102
Churchill, Winston,
  Belfast speech of (1912), 62, 67;
  devolution proposal, 71;
  Bradford speech (1914), 103-104;
  the Larne gun-running, 113;
  mentioned, 77, 84
Citizen Army, the, 180, 183;
  the Rebellion, 218
Clark, Sir George, 271-272
Clarke, ----, execution of, 224
Clancy, J.J., 269, 318, 332
Coalition formed, 192-193
Coercion, 8-9, 16, 82
Colthurst, Capt., 228, 231
Commons, House of,
  Parnell's obstruction in, 6 ff.;
  payment of members, 52;
  scene after passing Home Rule Bill, 152;
  disgust of, at Redmond's defeat, 240;
  Redmond's estimate of, 12;
  his familiarity with, 111
Congested Districts Board, 28
Connolly, James, 183;
  the Rebellion, 218, 224
  Redmond's opposition to, 208 ff., 242, 247-248;
  application of, to Ireland, 334
Convention, _see_ Irish Convention
Craig, Capt., 51, 70, 105;
  quoted, 95
Crooks, Will, 152
Crozier, Dr., Abp. of Armagh, 198, 272, 279, 300, 302, 310, 330
Curragh incident, 105-109
Curzon, Col., 187

Dalton, Miss (Mrs. John Redmond), 14, 20
Davitt, Michael, 8, 19
Davitt (young), 116
de Robeck, Admiral, despatch of, 195-196
de Valera, E., 268, 269
Desart, Lord, 273, 318
Devlin, J.,
  in Redmond's "inner cabinet," 25, 36;
  his supporters' disappointment on compromise, 109;
  recruiting successes of, 177, 179;
  indispensable in Ireland, 183;
  carries Belfast Convention for exclusion proposals, 235;
  on the Irish Convention, 269, 304, 310, 322;
  estimate of, 21;
  Redmond's estimate of, 235;
  mentioned, 48, 84, 155, 263
Devolution, 28, 71
Dillon, John,
  relations with Redmond, 25, 36;
  on coercion, 82;
  an Irish Volunteer movement, 115;
  speech on suppression of the Rebellion, 231;
  declines to serve on the Irish Convention, 269;
  mentioned, 16, 100, 109, 121, 129, 155
Doran, Capt., 274-275
Doyle, Sir A. Conan, cited, 131-132
Dublin strike (1913), 90, 273
Duke, Sir. H.E., 240, 275
Dunraven, Lord, 27, 28, 77;
  on the Convention, 273, 282, 317-318, 330

Ewart, Sir S., 108

Field, William, 24
Financial Relations Commission, 24, 75
Fingall, Lord, 174
Forster, W.E., 79
Franchise Bill (1917), 302, 304-305, 311
French, Sir John, 107, 108
Friend, General, 198

Gallipoli, Irish troops in, 195 ff.
General Elections--
  1906, 43
  1910 (Jan.), 43-44
  1910 (Dec.), 49
  1918, 231
George V, King, 121
George, D. Lloyd,
  non-Irish preoccupations of, 41-42;
  Conciliation mission after the Rebellion, 232;
  agreement with the Irish, 234;
  agreement thrown over, 239;
  Redmond's hopes from, as Premier, 244-245;
  on Irish distrust, 246;
  supports the "two nations" theory, 255;
  the Convention, 260;
  letter to Plunkett, 324;
  conference with Convention representatives, 325;
  proposals to the Convention, 326 ff.;
  quoted on Ulster, 73
Gladstone, W.E., 11, 17, 42, 130, 317;
  breach with Parnell, 18-19;
  retirement, 23
Gladstone, W.G.C., 66
Gough, Gen., quoted, 105 ff.
Government, delays of, 185, 236-237, 244, 247;
  general attitude to Redmond, _see under_ Redmond
Granard, Lord, 273, 282
Grey, Earl, 78
Grey, Lord (Sir Edward), Ulster proposals of, 85, 86;
  speech on outbreak of War, 128-130;
  quoted, 66;
  mentioned, 30, 108

Harbison, Mr., 270
Harty, Abp. of Cashel, 270
Hayden, Mr., 38, 130-131
Hazleton, Mr., 14
Healy, T.M., returned for Wexford, 7-8;
  attacks on Redmond and Nationalist Party, 34, 273;
  opposition to county option, 100, 111-112;
  declines to serve on Convention, 269;
  quoted, 256;
  mentioned, 15, 16, 47, 49
Hickie, Maj.-Gen, W.B., 201, 265
Hulk, Maj.-Gen., 268
Hobson, Bulmer, quoted, 115,159
Home Rule Bill (1912), demonstrations for and against, 62;
  National Convention, 65, 66;
  Ulster's attitude, 65, 67 ff.;
  exclusion proposals, 68, 78, 84, 99;
  devolution proposals, 71;
  Unionist converts, 73;
  in Committee, 68, 74;
  financial arrangements under, 74-75;
  Report stage, 75;
  Third Reading, 77;
  in the Lords, 77 ff.;
  third Introduction (1914), 99;
  inadequate private discussion of, by Irish Party, 100-101;
  the Amending Bill, 121, 126;
  the Speaker's Conference, 121 ff.;
  amending Bill postponed, 126;
  operation of, to be deferred, 148-149;
  Royal assent, 151;
  Asquith's move towards securing immediate operation of,
                               after the Rebellion, 232;
  O'Connor's demand for, 249
Hopwood, Sir Francis, 275

Industrial depression in Ireland under the War, 184
_Irish at the Front, The_, quoted, 201
Irish Brigades, _see under_ Army
Irish Convention--
  Committee of Nine, 304, 307, 310
  Financial considerations, 285, 286, 293-295, 307, 309;
    Lord Midleton's proposals, 312-323;
    Lloyd George's proposals, 326-332
  First meeting of, 271
  Fraternization between representatives, 286-287
  Grand Committee of Twenty, 301, 303, 307, 311
  Inception of, 258, 260
  Intermediate Authority proposal, 285-286
  Land Purchase Sub-Committee, 304, 317
  Personnel of, 271 ff.
  Preliminaries, 269
  Procedure adopted, 280
  Reports presented by, 330
  Sinn Féin attitude to, 263-264, 267-268
  Spirit of, 279-280
  Ulster representatives, attitude of, 321;
    attitude to Redmond, 323;
    Report presented by, 330
Irish Council Bill (1907), 31 ff., 78
_Irish Independent_, 273, 330
Irish Party, discipline of, 12-13;
  personnel of, 59;
  Redmond's relations with, 59-61
Irish relations with England most cordial (1916), 213
Irish suspicion, 189-90
Irish Volunteers, Redmond's policy repudiated by, 155-156;
  collisions with National Volunteers, 180;
  Rebellion of 1916, 218 ff.
  (_See also_ National Volunteers)

Jameson, Andrew, 271, 298
Judge, M.J., cited, 132

Kavanagh, W.M., 274, 318
Kelley, Dr., Bp. of Ross, 270, 293, 310, 323
Kenny, Dr., 38
Ker, S.P., quoted, 202
Kettle, Prof., T.M., 14, 93;
  recruiting work of, 186;
  killed in action, 241;
  estimate of, 185
Kitchener, Earl,
  attitude of, to Irish Volunteers, 138-140, 153, 160, 162, 175, 181;
  Redmond's interview with, on recruiting, 198-199, 205;
  letter on Irish recruiting, 199;
  estimate of, 138
Knight, Mr., 294-295

Labour Party, 44, 87, 108
Land Act (1909), 41
Land League, 8
Land Purchase, 17, 27-28
Lang, Dr., Abp. of York, on Ulster, 78-80
Lansdowne, Marquis of, 29, 236, 238
Larkin, James, 90, 183, 273
Larne Gun-running, 112-114
Law, A. Bonar,
  speeches of, on Ulster, 65, 70;
  Ulster policy, 77, 83, 87, 99, 163;
  protest against enactment of Home Rule, 149;
  quoted on Major Willie Redmond, 245;
  estimate of, 56;
  mentioned, 132, 178
Liberal Party, 13, 29
Lincolnshire, Marquis of,
  Volunteer Bill of, 205, 208
Liquor trade in Ireland, 42
Local Government Act (1897), 24
Long, W., quoted, 216
Longford Election, 257, 259
Lonsdale, Sir John, 263
Lords, House of,
  Veto controversy, 42 ff., 50, 52, 57;
  Conference, 48
Loreburn, Lord, 84
Lynch, Arthur, 129
Lysaght, Edward, 273, 282, 296, 301-302

McCarthy, Justin, 13;
  quoted, 26
McCullagh, Sir C., 284
MacDermott, Dr., 272
MacDonagh, 201;
  the Rebellion, 218, 224
MacDonnell, Sir Anthony,
  devolution scheme of, 28-29;
  supports Home Rule Bill, 78;
  in the Convention, 273, 282, 310, 317
McDowell, Sir Alexander, 272, 303-304, 307-308
MacNeill, Prof.,
  promotes Nationalist arming, 93;
  volunteer following of, 180;
  the Rebellion, 219;
  cited, 164, 180-181;
  mentioned, 64, 116
MacRory, Dr., Bp. of Down and Connor, 270
MacSweeney, Capt., 153
Mahaffy, Dr., Provost of Trinity, 272, 330
Maxwell, Sir John, 225-226
Meath, Lord, 158, 169
Midleton, Lord, 271, 273, 285, 296, 304, 308;
  Customs proposals, 310 ff.
Mooney, J.J., 21, 38
Moore, Lt.-Col. M., 159-160, 203
Murphy, W.M., 273, 282, 295, 304, 315, 317

Nathan, Sir M., 220
National Volunteers,
  establishment of, 91-92, 94-95, 99;
  Redmond's adhesion to, 114;
  formidable character of, 114-115;
  committee difficulties, 117 ff.;
  Bachelor's Walk affair, 123-125;
  Redmond's offer of, for National Defence, 134 ff., 203 ff.;
  general response, 136-138;
  demand for recognition, 153, 159-161, 202-203;
  refused, 153, 162, 167, 181, 203, 207-208, 222;
  secession of Irish Volunteers from, 155;
  Asquith's pledge regarding, 157;
  Review of, in Phoenix Park, 204;
  Bulmer Hobson's _History_ of, quoted, 115, 159
O'Brien, Patrick, 38, 267
O'Brien, William, attacks by,
  on Redmond and National Party, 34;
  opposition to Budget (1909), 42, 47;
  to Home Rule Bill (1912), 74;
  to county option, 100, 111-112;
  to the Convention, 263;
  declines to serve, 269
O'Cathasaigh, Mr., cited, 91
O'Connor, "Long John," 38
O'Connor, T.P.,
  Canadian tour 1910, 48;
  recruiting successes of, 190;
  motion for immediate Horns Rule, 249;
  cited, 203;
  mentioned, 25, 100, 130-131
O'Donnell, Dr., Bp. of Raphoe, 270, 284, 294, 303, 304,
  308, 310, 312, 330;
  speech on Papal Decrees, 299-300
Oranmore, Lord, 313, 319

Paget, Gen. Sir Arthur, 105ff.
Parliament, _see_ Commons _and_ Lords
Parnell, C.S., 6-13, 17-19, 92;
  property of, 7, 37;
  power of, 58;
  anecdote of Willie Redmond and House of Commons, 249
Parnellites, 19-21, 23-25;
  fusion of, with anti-Parnellites, 25
Parsons, Lt.-Gen. Sir L., 170ff., 200-201, 204-205
Pearse, Patrick, speech of, in Dublin, 63-64;
  Limerick speech, quoted, 94;
  secedes from National Volunteers, 118;
  the Rebellion, 218, 222-223;
  execution, 224
_Phoenix_ Park murders, 14
Pigott, 18
Pirrie, Lord, 293
Plunket, Count, 248
Plunkett, Lord (Sir Horace),
  Conference scheme of (1895), 23;
  the Convention, 274, 302, 309;
  as Chairman, 279;
  Lloyd George's letter to, 324
Poe, Col. Sir Hutcheson, 145
Pollock, Mr., 272, 299, 308
Primate, the, _see_ Crozier
Primrose, Neil, 68-69
Primrose Committee, 270, 293-294
Protestant Ascendency, 86, 96, 101

Raymond Le Gros, 2-3
Rebellion, Redmond's attitude to, 3
Rebellion of 1916, 218-219, 221, 227;
  denounced by Redmond, 223-224;
  suppression of, 224-229;
  Government's fomentation of _disaffection_, 227-229;
  comparison with South African Rebellion (1914), 225
Recruiting, _see under_ Army
Redmond, John Edward, 4
Redmond, John--
  Ancestry and family of, 2-4
    education, 5;
    clerkship in the House, 6;
    returned for New Ross, 8;
    Parliamentary _debut_, 9-11;
    Australian and American mission, 14;
    marriage, 14;
    second American mission, 17;
    imprisoned (1888), 17;
    chosen leader of Parnellites, 19;
    returned for Waterford, 19;
    attitude to Roman Catholic Church, 20:
    widowed, 20;
    second marriage, 21-22;
    work with Plunkett, 23-24;
    on Commission on Financial Relations, 24;
    Chairman of United Irish Party, 25, 58;
    his inner cabinet, 25, 58, 100;
    attitude to Irish Council Bill, 31-33;
    campaign for Home Rule (1907), 34-35;
    House of Lords controversy, 45-46, 57;
    "Dollar Dictator," 48;
    the Nottingham Meeting (1912), 73;
    Home Rule campaign (1912) following Carson, 84;
    on proposed exclusion of Ulster, 85-86;
    attitude to National Volunteers, 92;
    speeches on the Ulster position, 98, 99, 102, 109-111;
    the Ulster gun-running, 114;
    relations with National Volunteers thereafter, 114 ff.;
    the Speaker's Conference, 121-122;
    speech on outbreak of War, 132 ff.;
    offers the Volunteers for national defence, 134ff;
    Recruiting manifesto, 151;
    refuses office in Coalition Government, 192;
    interview with Kitchener on recruiting, 198, 205;
    Conference at Viceregal Lodge, 198-199;
    visits Irish troops at the Front, 201-202;
    opposes Conscription for Ireland, 208 ff.
    letter to Asquith, 208
    Rebellion of 1916, 219 ff.
    Government breach of faith, 238-240;
    moves vote of censure, 243;
    criticizes Lloyd George, 245;
    renewed opposition to conscription, 248;
    the Smuts dinner, 257;
    the Convention, 258, 261-263;
    death of his brother, 256;
    death of Pat O'Brien, 267;
    in the Convention, 278-279;
    relations with Nationalist representatives, 283-284;
    speech in Belfast, 289 ff.;
    at Westminster, 304;
    speech on vote of thanks to the Forces, 305-306;
    Meetings of Committee of Nine, 307 ff.;
    ill-health, 257, 282, 312, 322;
    attitude to Lord Midleton's proposals, 316, 318-321;
    tables motion conditionally accepting, 321;
    withdraws owing to Nationalist opposition, 322-323;
    illness, 325;
    operation, 328;
    death, 329
    Ambition, lack of, 40, 336
    Caution, 282
    Courtesy, 26, 35
    Eloquence, 41, 88
    Lucidity, 41, 53, 59
    Moderation, 3, 11
    Modesty, 36, 336
    Optimism, 74
    Peaceable temperament and tolerance, 21, 25, 26, 35, 88
    Rest, love of, 38
    Reticence, 37
    Romantic strain, 37
    Self-abnegation, 278, 280
    Sensitiveness, 243, 282
    Tact, 88
    Trustworthiness, 194
  Comparison of,
    with Campbell-Bannerman, 337;
    with Parnell, 338;
    position compared, with that of Botha, 158, 172, 184, 212, 224
  Estimate of, 335;
    Birrell's estimate, 194;
    Healy's tribute, 256;
    estimate as leader, 59-61, 283, 310, 338;
    estimate of his work, 338-341
  Government slighting of, and disregard of his advice, 153, 163, 167,
                           175-176, 190-191, 220, 226, 229, 238-239;
    instances of bad faith, 153, 239-240, 246;
    recruiting efforts handicapped, 163, 175-176, 177, 190-191, 206
  House of Commons life of, 111
  Imperialism of, 15
  Irishmen, attitude towards, 27, 63
  Military sympathies of, 107-108
  Oratorical style of, 5
  Recruiting efforts of, _see under_ Army
  Status of, in Ireland, 171-172
  Social isolation of, 13
  Stephens' attack on, 276-277
  War policy of, 132, 216
Redmond, Major "Willie,"
  Australian mission and marriage, 14;
  imprisoned (1888), 17;
  returned for East Clare, 20;
  War service, 182-3, 185, 213-214, 230;
  position in his regiment, 188-189;
  speeches in the House quoted, 215-216, 245;
  advises resignation of Parliamentary party, 259;
  last speech in the House, 249-254;
  killed in action, 51, 265;
  estimate of, 249;
  mentioned, 4, 13, 19, 38, 118, 128
Redmond, Major William Archer, 4, 185;
  on the Somme, 240;
  wins D.S.O., 306;
  returned as Nationalist in 1918 election, 231
Redmond, William Archer, 4, 5, 7
Richardson, Gen., 163
Roberts, Lord, 176
Roman Catholic Church, 49, 187
Russell, George ("A.E."),
  in the Convention, 274, 282, 304, 310, 312

Sclater, Sir Henry, 204-205
Selborne, Lord, 236
Seely, Col., 108-109
Sexton, Th., 16, 24
Shaw, Mr., 6
Sheehy-Skeffington, Mr., 228, 231
Sinn Féin--
  Convention ignored by, 263-264, 267-268
  Demonstration by, at funeral of Thomas Ashe, 300
  Electoral successes of, 231, 257, 268, 278
  Growth of, from May 1916, 232
  Propaganda, suspicion fostered by, 189
  Rebellion of 1916, _see that heading_
Smith, F.E., quoted, 95
South African War, 24
Stephens, James, quoted, 276-277

Taylor, Capt., J.S., 27
Tennant, H.J., 198, 206
Thomas, J.H., 108
_Times_ forgeries, 18

  Administrative autonomy proposal, 85, 86
  Arms importation by, 81, 94;
  Larne gun-running, 112-114
  Asquith's moratorium concession to, 149
  Belfast Convention (1916), 235
  Churchill's speech (1912), 62
  Convention, the (1917), representatives at, 271-272, 285;
    their attitude and procedure, 281, 299
  County option proposals, 77, 85, 99 ff.;
    difficulties of the scheme, 101
  Covenant, the, 72;
    military covenanters, 83
  Exclusion proposals, 68, 78, 84, 233-234;
    embodied in the Bill, 99;
    time limit discussions, 101-103;
    Council of 1916 accepts exclusion proposals, 235
  Favouritism applied to, 95, 120, 123, 125, 164, 169, 170, 174
  Friendly relations with Nationalists, 51
  Home Rule, resistance to, 65, 67 ff.;
    Parliamentary majority for, 77;
    distribution of Home Rulers, 101
  Inseparability of, 69, 76-77, 84
  Lloyd George's scheme, 234
  Protestant ascendency, 86, 96, 101
  Provisional Government formed, 80, 83
Rebellion preparations of, 148
  Redmond's efforts to conciliate, 76-77, 109-110, 114
  War, attitude on outbreak of, 130
    mistrustful of Irish Volunteers, 142
United Irish League, 58, 259, 261
University Act (1908), 41

Vatican Decrees, 49

Wallace, Col., 299
Walsh, Abp., 257
  Outbreak, 126 ff.
  Redmond's policy regarding, 132, 216;
    Nationalist criticism of, 276-277 (_see also_ Army, recruiting)
  Ulster's attitude, 130, 142
Ward, Col. John, 108
Waterford, 19
Wexford, 3
_What the Irish Regiments have done_ quoted, 202
White, Capt., J.R., 90-91
Whitley, H.T., 320
Wicklow surroundings, 37-39
Wimborne, Lord, 198, 199, 205
Windle, Sir B., 282, 330
Wyndham, G., 27-29

              Shall a man understand,
    He shall know bitterness because his kind,
    Being perplexed of mind,
    Hold issues even that are nothing mated.
    And he shall give
    Counsel out of his wisdom that none shall hear
    And steadfast in vain persuasion must he live,
    And unabated
    Shall his temptation be.

    JOHN DRINKWATER, in _Abraham Lincoln_.

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