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Title: Ulster's Stand For Union
Author: McNeill, Ronald John, 1861-1934
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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With Frontispiece

John Murray,
Albemarle Street, W.




The term "Ulster," except when the context proves the contrary, is used
in this book not in the geographical, but the political meaning of the
word, which is quite as well understood.

The aim of the book is to present an account of what I have occasionally
in its pages referred to as "the Ulster Movement." The phrase is perhaps
somewhat paradoxical when applied to a political ideal which was the
maintenance of the _status quo_; but, on the other hand, the steps taken
during a period of years to organise an effective opposition to
interference with the established constitution in Ireland did involve a
movement, and it is with these measures, rather than with the policy
behind them, that the book is concerned.

Indeed, except for a brief introductory outline of the historical
background of the Ulster standpoint, I have taken for granted, or only
referred incidentally to the reasons for the unconquerable hostility of
the Ulster Protestants to the idea of allowing the government of
Ireland, and especially of themselves, to pass into the control of a
Parliament in Dublin. Those reasons were many and substantial, based
upon considerations both of a practical and a sentimental nature; but I
have not attempted an exposition of them, having limited myself to a
narrative of the events to which they gave rise.

Having been myself, during the most important part of the period
reviewed, a member of the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist
Council, and closely associated with the leaders of the movement, I have
had personal knowledge of practically everything I have had to record. I
have not, however, trusted to unaided memory for any statement of fact.
It is not, of course, a matter where anything that could be called
research was required; but, in addition to the _Parliamentary Reports_,
the _Annual Register_, and similar easily accessible books of reference,
there was a considerable mass of private papers bearing on the subject,
for the use of some of which I am indebted to friends.

I was permitted to consult the Minute-books of the Ulster Unionist
Council and its Standing Committee, and also verbatim reports made for
the Council of unpublished speeches delivered at private meetings of
those bodies. A large collection of miscellaneous documents accumulated
by the late Lord Londonderry was kindly lent to me by the present
Marquis; and I also have to thank Lord Carson of Duncairn for the use of
letters and other papers in his possession. Colonel F.H. Crawford,
C.B.E., was good enough to place at my disposal a very detailed account
written by himself of the voyage of the _Fanny_, and the log kept by
Captain Agnew. My friend Mr. Thomas Moles, M.P., took full shorthand
notes of the proceedings of the Irish Convention and the principal
speeches made in it, and he kindly allowed me to use his transcript. And
I should not like to pass over without acknowledgment the help given me
on several occasions by Miss Omash, of the Union Defence League, in
tracing references.

R. McN.

February 1922.


































Like all other movements in human affairs, the opposition of the
Northern Protestants of Ireland to the agitation of their Nationalist
fellow-countrymen for Home Rule can only be properly understood by those
who take some pains to get at the true motives, and to appreciate the
spirit, of those who engaged in it. And as it is nowhere more true than
in Ireland that the events of to-day are the outcome of events that
occurred longer ago than yesterday, and that the motives of to-day have
consequently their roots buried somewhat deeply in the past, it is no
easy task for the outside observer to gain the insight requisite for
understanding fairly the conduct of the persons concerned.

It was Mr. Asquith who very truly said that the Irish question, of which
one of the principal factors is the opposition of Ulster to Home Rule,
"springs from sources that are historic, economic, social, racial, and
religious." It would be a hopeless undertaking to attempt here to probe
to the bottom an origin so complex; but, whether the sympathies of the
reader be for or against the standpoint of the Irish Loyalists, the
actual events which make up what may be called the Ulster Movement would
be wholly unintelligible without some introductory retrospect. Indeed,
to those who set out to judge Irish political conditions without
troubling themselves about anything more ancient than their own memory
can recall, the most fundamental factor of all--the line of cleavage
between Ulster and the rest of the island--- is more than
unintelligible. In the eyes of many it presents itself as an example of
perversity, of "cussedness" on the part of men who insist on magnifying
mere differences of opinion, which would be easily composed by
reasonable people, into obstacles to co-operation which have no reality
behind them.

Writers and speakers on the Nationalist side deride the idea of "two
nations" in Ireland, calling in evidence many obvious identities of
interest, of sentiment, or of temperament between the inhabitants of the
North and of the South. The Ulsterman no more denies these identities
than the Greek, the Bulgar, and the Serb would deny that there are
features common to all dwellers in the Balkan peninsula; but he is more
deeply conscious of the difference than of the likeness between himself
and the man from Munster or Connaught. His reply to those who denounced
the Irish Government Act of 1920 on the ground that it set up a
"partition of Ireland," is that the Act did not "set up," but only
recognised, the partition which history made long ago, and which wrecked
all attempts to solve the problem of Irish Government that neglected to
take it into account. If there be any force in Renan's saying that the
root of nationality is "the will to live together," the Nationalist cry
of "Ireland a Nation" harmonises ill with the actual conditions of
Ireland north and south of the Boyne. This dividing gulf between the two
populations in Ireland is the result of the same causes as the political
dissension that springs from it, as described by Mr. Asquith in words
quoted above. The tendencies of social and racial origin operate for the
most part subconsciously--though not perhaps less powerfully on that
account; those connected with economic considerations, with religious
creeds, and with events in political history enter directly and
consciously into the formation of convictions which in turn become the
motives for actions.

In the mind of the average Ulster Unionist the particular point of
contrast between himself and the Nationalist of which he is more
forcibly conscious than of any other, and in which all other
distinguishing traits are merged, is that he is loyal to the British
Crown and the British Flag, whereas the other man is loyal to neither.
Religious intolerance, so far as the Protestants are concerned, of
which so much is heard, is in actual fact mainly traceable to the same
sentiment. It is unfortunately true that the lines of political and of
religious division coincide; but religious dissensions seldom flare up
except at times of political excitement; and, while it is undeniable
that the temper of the creeds more resembles what prevailed in England
in the seventeenth than in the twentieth century, yet when overt
hostility breaks out it is because the creed is taken--and usually taken
rightly--as _prima facie_ evidence of political opinion--political
opinion meaning "loyalty" or "disloyalty," as the case may be. The label
of "loyalist" is that which the Ulsterman cherishes above all others. It
means something definite to him; its special significance is reinforced
by the consciousness of its wearers that they are a minority; it
sustains the feeling that the division between parties is something
deeper and more fundamental than anything that in England is called
difference of opinion. This feeling accounts for much that sometimes
perplexes even the sympathetic English observer, and moves the hostile
partisan to scornful criticism. The ordinary Protestant farmer or
artisan of Ulster is by nature as far as possible removed from the being
who is derisively nicknamed the "noisy patriot" or the "flag-wagging
jingo." If the National Anthem has become a "party tune" in Ireland, it
is not because the loyalist sings it, but because the dis-loyalist shuns
it; and its avoidance at gatherings both political and social where
Nationalists predominate, naturally makes those who value loyalty the
more punctilious in its use. If there is a profuse display of the Union
Jack, it is because it is in Ulster not merely "bunting" for decorative
purposes as in England, but the symbol of a cherished faith.

There may, perhaps, be some persons, unfamiliar with the Ulster cast of
mind, who find it hard to reconcile this profession of passionate
loyalty with the methods embarked upon in 1912 by the Ulster people. It
is a question upon which there will be something to be said when the
narrative reaches the events of that date. Here it need only be stated
that, in the eyes of Ulstermen at all events, constitutional orthodoxy
is quite a different thing from loyalty, and that true allegiance to
the Sovereign is by them sharply differentiated from passive obedience
to an Act of Parliament.

The sincerity with which this loyalist creed is held by practically the
entire Protestant population of Ulster cannot be questioned by anyone
who knows the people, however much he may criticise it on other grounds.
And equally sincere is the conviction held by the same people that
disloyalty is, and always has been, the essential characteristic of
Nationalism. The conviction is founded on close personal contact
continued through many generations with the adherents of that political
party, and the tradition thus formed draws more support from authentic
history than many Englishmen are willing to believe. Consequently, when
the General Election of 1918 revealed that the whole of Nationalist
Ireland had gone over with foot, horse, and artillery, with bag and
baggage, from the camp of so-called Constitutional Home Rule, to the
Sinn Feiners who made no pretence that their aim was anything short of
complete independent sovereignty for Ireland, no surprise was felt in
Ulster. It was there realised that nothing had happened beyond the
throwing off of the mask which had been used as a matter of political
tactics to disguise what had always been the real underlying aim, if not
of the parliamentary leaders, at all events of the great mass of
Nationalist opinion throughout the three southern provinces. The whole
population had not with one consent changed their views in the course of
a night; they had merely rallied to support the first leaders whom they
had found prepared to proclaim the true objective. Curiously enough,
this truth was realised by an English politician who was in other
respects conspicuously deficient in insight regarding Ireland. The
Easter insurrection of 1916 in Dublin was only rendered possible by the
negligence or the incompetence of the Chief Secretary; but, in giving
evidence before the Commission appointed to inquire into it, Mr. Birrell
said: "The spirit of what to-day is called Sinn Feinism is mainly
composed of the old hatred and distrust of the British connection ...
always there as the background of Irish politics and character"; and,
after recalling that Cardinal Newman had observed the same state of
feeling in Dublin more than half a century before, Mr. Birrell added
quite truly that "this dislike, hatred, disloyalty (so unintelligible to
many Englishmen) is hard to define but easy to discern, though incapable
of exact measurement from year to year." This disloyal spirit, which
struck Newman, and which Mr. Birrell found easy to discern, was of
course always familiar to Ulstermen as characteristic of "the South and
West," and was their justification for the badge of "loyalist," their
assumption of which English Liberals, knowing nothing of Ireland, held
to be an unjust slur on the Irish majority.

If this belief in the inherent disloyalty of Nationalist Ireland to the
British Empire did any injustice to individual Nationalist politicians,
they had nobody but themselves to blame for it. Their pronouncements in
America, as well as at home, were scrutinised in Ulster with a care that
Englishmen seldom took the trouble to give them. Nor must it be
forgotten that, up to the date when Mr. Gladstone made Home Rule a plank
in an English party's programme--which, whatever else it did, could not
alter the facts of the case--the same conviction, held in Ulster so
tenaciously, had prevailed almost universally in Great Britain also; and
had been proclaimed by no one so vehemently as by Mr. Gladstone himself,
whose famous declarations that the Nationalists of that day were
"steeped to the lips in treason," and were "marching through rapine to
the dismemberment of the Empire," were not so quickly forgotten in
Ulster as in England, nor so easily passed over as either meaningless or
untrue as soon as they became inconvenient for a political party to
remember. English supporters of Home Rule, when reminded of such
utterances, dismissed with a shrug the "unedifying pastime of unearthing
buried speeches"; and showed equal determination to see nothing in
speeches delivered by Nationalist leaders in America inconsistent with
the purely constitutional demand for "extended self-government."

Ulster never would consent to bandage her own eyes in similar fashion,
or to plug her ears with wool. The "two voices" of Nationalist leaders,
from Mr. Parnell to Mr. Dillon, were equally audible to her; and, of the
two, she was certain that the true aim of Nationalist policy was
expressed by the one whose tone was disloyal to the British Empire.
Look-out was kept for any change in the direction of moderation, for any
real indication that those who professed to be "constitutional
Nationalists" were any less determined than "the physical force party"
to reach the goal described by Parnell in the famous sentence, "None of
us will be ... satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which
keeps Ireland bound to England."

No such indication was ever discernible. On the contrary, Parnell's
phrase became a refrain to be heard in many later pronouncements of his
successors, and the policy he thus described was again and again
propounded in after-years on innumerable Nationalist platforms, in
speeches constantly quoted to prove, as was the contention of Ulster
from the first, that Home Rule as understood by English Liberals was no
more than an instalment of the real demand of Nationalists, who, if they
once obtained the "comparative freedom" of an Irish legislature--to
quote the words used by Mr. Devlin at a later date--would then, with
that leverage, "operate by whatever means they should think best to
achieve the great and desirable end" of complete independence of Great

This was an end that could not by any juggling be reconciled with the
Ulsterman's notion of "loyalty." Moreover, whatever knowledge he
possessed of his country's history--and he knows a good deal more, man
for man, than the Englishman--confirmed his deep distrust of those whom,
following the example of John Bright, he always bluntly described as
"the rebel party." He knew something of the rebellions in Ireland in the
seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, and was under no
illusion as to the design for which arms had been taken up in the past.
He knew that that design had not changed with the passing of
generations, although gentler methods of accomplishing it might
sometimes find favour. Indeed, one Nationalist leader himself took
pains, at a comparatively recent date, to remove any excuse there may
ever have been for doubt on this point. Mr. John Redmond was an orator
who selected his words with care, and his appeals to historical
analogies were not made haphazard. When he declared (in a speech in
1901) that, "in its essence, the national movement to-day is the same as
it was in the days of Hugh O'Neill, of Owen Roe, of Emmet, or of Wolfe
Tone," those names, which would have had but a shadowy significance for
a popular audience in England, carried very definite meaning to the ears
of Irishmen, whether Nationalist or Unionist. Mr. Gladstone, in the
fervour of his conversion to Home Rule, was fond of allusions to the
work of Molyneux and Swift, Flood and Grattan; but these were men whose
Irish patriotism never betrayed them into disloyalty to the British
Crown or hostility to the British connection. They were reformers, not
rebels. But it was not with the political ideals of such men that Mr.
Redmond claimed his own to be identical, nor even with that of
O'Connell, the apostle of repeal of the Union, but with the aims of men
who, animated solely by hatred of England, sought to establish the
complete independence of Ireland by force of arms, and in some cases by
calling in (like Roger Casement in our own day) the aid of England's
foreign enemies.

In the face of appeals like this to the historic imagination of an
impressionable people, it is not surprising that by neither Mr.
Redmond's followers nor by his opponents was much account taken of his
own personal disapproval of extremes both of means and ends. His
opponents in Ulster simply accepted such utterances as confirmation of
what they had known all along from other sources to be the actual facts,
namely, that the Home Rule agitation was "in its essence" a separatist
movement; that its adherents were, as Mr. Redmond himself said on
another occasion, "as much rebels as their fathers were in 1798"; and
that the men of Ulster were, together with some scattered sympathisers
in the other Provinces, the depositaries of the "loyal" tradition.

The latter could boast of a pedigree as long as that of the rebels. If
Mr. Redmond's followers were to trace their political ancestry, as he
told them, to the great Earl of Tyrone who essayed to overthrow England
with the help of the Spaniard and the Pope, the Ulster Protestants could
claim descent from the men of the Plantation, through generation after
generation of loyalists who had kept the British flag flying in Ireland
in times of stress and danger, when Mr. Redmond's historical heroes were
making England's difficulty Ireland's opportunity.

There have been, and are, many individual Nationalists, no doubt,
especially among the more educated and thoughtful, to whom it would be
unjust to impute bad faith when they professed that their political
aspirations for Ireland were really limited to obtaining local control
of local affairs, and who resented being called "Separatists," since
their desire was not for separation from Great Britain but for the
"union of hearts," which they believed would grow out of extended
self-government. But the answer of Irish Unionists, especially in
Ulster, has always been that, whatever such "moderate," or
"constitutional" Nationalists might dream, it would be found in
practice, if the experiment were made, that no halting-place could be
found between legislative union and complete separation. Moreover, the
same view was held by men as far as possible removed from the standpoint
of the Ulster Protestant. Cardinal Manning, for example, although an
intimate personal friend of Gladstone, in a letter to Leo XIII, wrote:
"As for myself, Holy Father, allow me to say that I consider a
Parliament in Dublin and a separation to be equivalent to the same
thing. Ireland is not a Colony like Canada, but it is an integral and
vital part of one country."[1]

It is improbable that identical lines of reasoning led the Roman
Catholic Cardinal and the Belfast Orangeman and Presbyterian to this
identical conclusion; but a position reached by convergent paths from
such distant points of departure is defensible presumably on grounds
more solid than prejudice or passion. It is unnecessary here to examine
those grounds at length, for the present purpose is not to argue the
Ulster case, but to let the reader know what was, as a matter of fact,
the Ulster point of view, whether that point of view was well or ill

But, while the opinion that a Dublin Parliament meant separation was
shared by many who had little else in common with the Ulster
Protestants, the latter stood alone in the intensity of their conviction
that "Home Rule meant Rome Rule." It has already been mentioned that it
is the "disloyalty" attributed rightly or wrongly to the Roman Catholics
as a body that has been, in recent times at all events, the mainspring
of Protestant distrust. But sectarian feeling, everywhere common between
rival creeds, is, of course, by no means absent. Englishmen find it hard
to understand what seems to them the bigoted and senseless animosity of
the rival faiths in Ireland. This is due to the astonishing shortness of
their memory in regard to their own history, and their very limited
outlook on the world outside their own island. If, without looking
further back in their history, they reflected that the "No Popery"
feeling in England in mid-Victorian days was scarcely less intense than
it is in Ulster to-day; or if they realised the extent to which
Gambetta's "Le cléricalisme, voilà l'ennemi" continues still to
influence public life in France, they might be less ready to censure the
Irish Protestant's dislike of priestly interference in affairs outside
the domain of faith and morals. It is indeed remarkable that
Nonconformists, especially in Wales, who within living memory have
displayed their own horror of the much milder form of sacerdotalism to
be found in the Anglican Church, have no sympathy apparently with the
Presbyterian and the Methodist in Ulster when the latter kick against
the encompassing pressure of the Roman Catholic priesthood, not in
educational matters alone, but in all the petty activities of every-day

Whenever this aspect of the Home Rule controversy was emphasised
Englishmen asked what sort of persecution Irish Protestants had to fear
from a Parliament in Dublin, and appeared to think all such fear
illusory unless evidence could be adduced that the Holy Office was to be
set up at Maynooth, equipped with faggot and thumb-screw. Of persecution
of that sort there never has been, of course, any apprehension in
modern times. Individual Catholics and Protestants live side by side in
Ireland with fully as much amity as elsewhere, but whereas the Catholic
instinctively, and by upbringing, looks to the parish priest as his
director in all affairs of life, the Protestant dislikes and resists
clerical influence as strongly as does the Nonconformist in England and
Wales--and with much better reason. For the latter has never known
clericalism as it exists in a Roman Catholic country where the Church is
wholly unrestrained by the civil power. He has resented what he regards
as Anglican arrogance in regard to educational management or the use of
burying-grounds, but he has never experienced a much more aggressive
clerical temper exercised in all the incidents of daily life--in the
market, the political meeting, the disposition of property, the
amusements of the people, the polling booth, the farm, and the home.

This involves no condemnation of the Irish priest as an individual or as
a minister of his Church. He is kind-hearted, charitable, and
conscientious; and, except that it does not encourage self-reliance and
enterprise, his influence with his own people is no more open to
criticism than that of any other body of religious ministers. But the
Roman Catholic Church has always made a larger claim than any other on
the obedience of its adherents, and it has always enforced that
obedience whenever it has had the power by methods which, in Protestant
opinion, are extremely objectionable. In theory the claim may be limited
to affairs concerned with faith and morals; but the definition of such
affairs is a very elastic one. Cardinal Logue not many years ago said:
"When political action trenches upon faith or morals or affects
religion, the Vicar of Christ, as the supreme teacher and guardian of
faith and morals, and as the custodian of the immunities of religion,
has, by Divine Right, authority to interfere and to enforce his
decisions." How far this principle is in practice carried beyond the
limits so denned was proved in the famous Meath election petition in
1892, in which the Judge who tried it, himself a devout Catholic,
declared: "The Church became converted for the time being into a vast
political agency, a great moral machine moving with resistless
influence, united action, and a single will. Every priest who was
examined was a canvasser; the canvas was everywhere--on the altar, in
the vestry, on the roads, in the houses." And while an election was in
progress in County Tyrone in 1911 a parish priest announced that any
Catholic who should vote for the Unionist candidate "would be held
responsible at the Day of Judgment." A still more notorious example of
clericalism in secular affairs, within the recollection of Englishmen,
was the veto on the Military Service Act proclaimed from the altars of
the Catholic Churches, which, during the Great War, defeated the
application to Ireland of the compulsory service which England,
Scotland, and Wales accepted as the only alternative to national defeat
and humiliation.

But these were only conspicuous examples of what the Irish Protestant
sees around him every day of his life. The promulgation in 1908 of the
Vatican decree, _Nec Temere_, a papal reassertion of the canonical
invalidity of mixed marriages, followed as it was by notorious cases of
the victimisation of Protestant women by the application of its
principles, did not encourage the Protestants to welcome the prospect of
a Catholic Parliament that would have control of the marriage law; nor
did they any more readily welcome the prospect of national education on
purely ecclesiastical lines. Another Vatican decree that was equally
alarming to Protestants was that entitled _Motu Proprio_, by which any
Catholic layman was _ipso facto_ excommunicated who should have the
temerity to bring a priest into a civil court either as defendant or
witness. Medievalism like this was felt by Ulster Protestants to be
irreconcilable with modern ideas of democratic freedom, and to indicate
a temper that boded ill for any regime which would be subject to its
inspiration. These were matters, it is true,--and there were perhaps
some others of a similar nature--on which it is possible to conceive
more or less satisfactory legislative safeguards being provided; but as
regards the indefinable but innumerable minutiae in which the prevailing
ecclesiastical standpoint creates an atmosphere in which daily life has
to be carried on, no safeguards could be devised, and it was the
realisation of this truth in the light of their own experience that made
the Ulstermen continually close their ears to allurements of that sort.

The Roman Church is quite consistent, and from its own point of view
praiseworthy, in its assertion of its right, and its duty, to control
the lives and thoughts of men; but this assertion has produced a clash
with the non-ecclesiastical mind in almost every country, where
Catholicism is the dominant religious faith. But in Ireland, unlike
Continental countries, there is no Catholic lay opinion--or almost
none--able to make its voice heard against clerical dictation, and
consequently the Protestants felt convinced, with good reason, that any
legislature in Ireland must take its tone from this pervading mental and
moral atmosphere, and that all its proceedings would necessarily be
tainted by it.

Prior to 1885 the political complexion of Ulster was in the main
Liberal. The Presbyterians, who formed the majority of the Protestant
population, collateral descendants of the men who emigrated in the
eighteenth century and formed the backbone of Washington's army, and
direct descendants of those who joined the United Irishmen in 1798, were
of a pronounced Liberal type, and their frequently strong disapproval of
Orangeism made any united political action an improbable occurrence. But
the crisis brought about by Gladstone's declaration in favour of Home
Rule instantly swept all sections of Loyalists into a single camp. There
was practically not a Liberal left who did not become Unionist, and,
although a separate organisation of Liberal Unionists was maintained,
the co-operation with Conservatives was so whole-hearted and complete as
almost to amount to fusion from the outset.

The immediate cessation of class friction was still more remarkable. For
more than a decade the perennial quarrel between landlord and tenant had
been increasing in intensity, and the recent land legislation had
disposed the latter to look upon Gladstone as a deliverer. Their
gratitude was wiped out the moment he hoisted the green flag, while the
labourers enfranchised by the Act of 1884 eagerly enrolled themselves
as the bitterest enemies of his new Irish policy. The unanimity of the
country-side was matched in the towns, and especially in Belfast, where,
with the single exception of a definitely Catholic quarter, employer and
artisan were as whole-heartedly united as were landlord and tenant in
passionate resentment at what they regarded as the betrayal by England's
foremost statesman of England's only friends in Ireland.

The defeat of the Home Rule Bill of 1886 brought relief from the
immediate strain of anxiety. But it was at once realised that the
encouragement and support given to Irish disloyalty for the first time
by one of the great political parties in Great Britain was a step that
could never be recalled. Henceforth the vigilance required to prevent
being taken unawares, and the untiring organisation necessary for making
effective defence against an attack which, although it had signally
failed at the first onslaught, was certain to be renewed, welded all the
previously diverse social and political elements in Ulster into a single
compact mass, tempered to the maximum power of resistance. There was
room for no other thought in the minds of men who felt as if living in a
beleaguered citadel, whose flag they were bound in honour to keep flying
to the last. The "loyalist" tradition acquired fresh meaning and
strength, and its historical setting took a more conscious hold on the
public mind of Ulster, as men studied afresh the story of the Relief of
Derry or the horrors of 1641. Visits of encouragement from the leaders
of Unionism across the Channel, men like Lord Salisbury, Mr. Balfour,
Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Randolph Churchill, fortified the resolution of a
populace that came more and more to regard themselves as a bulwark of
the Empire, on whom destiny, while conferring on them the honour of
upholding the flag, had imposed the duty of putting into actual practice
the familiar motto of the Orange Lodges--"No surrender."

From a psychology so bred and nourished sprang a political temper which,
as it hardened with the passing years, appeared to English Home Rulers
to be "stiff-necked," "bigoted," and "intractable." It certainly was a
state of mind very different from those shifting gusts of transient
impression which in England go by the name of public opinion; and, if
these epithets in the mouths of opponents be taken as no more than
synonyms for "uncompromising," they were not undeserved. At a memorable
meeting at the Albert Hall in London on the 22nd of April, 1893, Dr.
Alexander, Bishop of Derry, poet, orator, and divine, declared in an
eloquent passage that was felt to be the exact expression of Ulster
conviction, that the people of Ulster, when exhorted to show confidence
in their southern fellow-countrymen, "could no more be confiding about
its liberty than a pure woman can be confiding about her honour."

Here was the irreconcilable division. The Nationalist talked of
centuries of "oppression," and demanded the dissolution of the Union in
the name of liberty. The Ulsterman, while far from denying the
misgovernment of former times, knew that it was the fruit of false ideas
which had passed away, and that the Ireland in which he lived enjoyed as
much liberty as any land on earth; and he feared the loss of the true
liberty he had gained if put back under a regime of Nationalist and
Utramontane domination. And so for more than thirty years the people of
Ulster for whom Bishop Alexander spoke made good his words. If in the
end compromise was forced upon them it was not because their standpoint
had changed, and it was only in circumstances which involved no
dishonour, and which preserved them from what they chiefly dreaded,
subjection to a Dublin Parliament inspired by clericalism and disloyalty
to the Empire.

The development which brought about the change from Ulster's resolute
stand for unimpaired union with Great Britain to her reluctant
acceptance of a separate local constitution for the predominantly
Protestant portion of the Province, presents a deeply interesting
illustration of the truth of a pregnant dictum of Maine's on the working
of democratic institutions.

"Democracies," he says, "are quite paralysed by the plea of nationality.
There is no more effective way of attacking them than by admitting the
right of the majority to govern, but denying that the majority so
entitled is the particular majority which claims the right."[2]

This is precisely what occurred in regard to Ulster's relation to Great
Britain and to the rest of Ireland respectively. The will of the
majority must prevail, certainly. But what majority? Unionists
maintained that only the majority in the United Kingdom could decide,
and that it had never in fact decided in favour of repealing the Act of
Union; Lord Rosebery at one time held that a majority in Great Britain
alone, as the "Predominant Partner," must first give its consent; Irish
Nationalists argued that the majority in Ireland, as a distinct unit,
was the only one that should count. Ulster, whilst agreeing with the
general Unionist position, contended ultimately that her own majority
was as well entitled to be heard in regard to her own fate as the
majority in Ireland as a whole. To the Nationalist claim that Ireland
was a nation she replied that it was either two nations or none, and
that if one of the two had a right to "self-determination," the other
had it equally. Thus the axiom of democracy that government is by the
majority was, as Maine said, "paralysed by the plea of nationality,"
since the contending parties appealed to the same principle without
having any common ground as to how it should be applied to the case in

If the Union with Great Britain was to be abrogated, which Pitt had only
established when "a full measure of Home Rule" had produced a bloody
insurrection and Irish collusion with England's external enemies, Ulster
could at all events in the last resort take her stand on Abraham
Lincoln's famous proposition which created West Virginia: "A minority of
a large community who make certain claims for self-government cannot, in
logic or in substance, refuse the same claims to a much larger
proportionate minority among themselves."

The Loyalists of Ulster were successful in holding this second line,
when the first was no longer tenable; but they only retired from the
first line--the maintenance of the legislative union--after a long and
obstinate defence which it is the purpose of the following pages to


[1] _Henry Edward Manning_, by Shane Leslie, p. 406.

[2] Sir S.H. Maine, _Popular Government_, p. 28.



We profess to be a democratic country in which the "will of the people"
is the ultimate authority in determining questions of policy, and the
Liberal Party has been accustomed to regard itself as the most zealous
guardian of democratic principles. Yet there is this curious paradox in
relation to the problem which more than any other taxed British
statesmanship during the thirty-five years immediately following the
enfranchisement of the rural democracy in 1884, that the solution
propounded by the Liberal Party, and inscribed by that party on the
Statute-book in 1914, was more than once emphatically rejected, and has
never been explicitly accepted by the electorate.

No policy ever submitted to the country was more decisively condemned at
the polls than Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule proposals in the General
Election of 1886. The issue then for the first time submitted to the
people was isolated from all others with a completeness scarcely ever
practicable--a circumstance which rendered the "mandate" to Parliament
to maintain the legislative union exceptionally free from ambiguity. The
party which had brought forward the defeated proposal, although led by a
statesman of unrivalled popularity, authority, and power, was shattered
in the attempt to carry it, and lost the support of numbers of its most
conspicuous adherents, including Chamberlain, Hartington, Goschen, and
John Bright, besides a multitude of its rank and file, who entered into
political partnership with their former opponents in order to withstand
the new departure of their old Chief.

The years that followed were a period of preparation by both sides for
the next battle. The improvement in the state of Ireland, largely the
result of legislation carried by Lord Salisbury's Government, especially
that which promoted land purchase, encouraged the confidence felt by
Unionists that the British voter would remain staunch to the Union. The
downfall of Parnell in 1890, followed by the break-up of his party, and
by his death in the following year, seemed to make the danger of Home
Rule still more remote. The only disquieting factor was the personality
of Mr. Gladstone, which, the older he grew, exercised a more and more
incalculable influence on the public mind. And there can be no doubt
that it was this personal influence that made him, in spite of his
policy, and not because of it, Prime Minister for the fourth time in
1892. In Great Britain the electors in that year pronounced against Home
Rule again by a considerable majority, and it was only by coalition with
the eighty-three Irish Nationalist Members that Gladstone and his party
were able to scrape up a majority of forty in support of his second Home
Rule Bill. Whether there was any ground for Gladstone's belief that but
for the O'Shea divorce he would have had a three-figure majority in 1892
is of little consequence, but the fall of his own majority in Midlothian
from 4,000 to below 700, which caused him "intense chagrin,"[3] does not
lend it support. Lord Morley says Gladstone was blamed by some of his
friends for accepting office "depending on a majority not large enough
to coerce the House of Lords"[4]; but a more valid ground of censure was
that he was willing to break up the constitution of the United Kingdom,
although a majority of British electors had just refused to sanction
such a thing being done. That Gladstone's colleagues realised full well
the true state of public opinion on the subject, if he himself did not,
was shown by their conduct when the Home Rule Bill, after being carried
through the House of Commons by diminutive majorities, was rejected on
second reading by the Peers. Even their great leader's entreaty could
not persuade them to consent to an appeal to the people[5]; and when
they were tripped up over the cordite vote in 1895, after Gladstone had
disappeared from public life, none of them probably were surprised at
the overwhelming vote by which the constituencies endorsed the action of
the House of Lords, and pronounced for the second time in ten years
against granting Home Rule to Ireland.

If anything except the personal ascendancy of Gladstone contributed to
his small coalition majority in 1892 it was no doubt the confidence of
the electors that the House of Lords could be relied upon to prevent the
passage of a Home Rule Bill. It is worth noting that nearly twenty years
later Lord Crewe acknowledged that the Home Rule Bill of 1893 could not
have stood the test of a General Election or of a Referendum.[6]

During the ten years of Unionist Government from 1895 to 1905 the
question of Home Rule slipped into the background. Other issues, such as
those raised by the South African War and Mr. Chamberlain's tariff
policy, engrossed the public mind. English Home Rulers showed a
disposition to hide away, if not to repudiate altogether, the legacy
they had inherited from Gladstone. Lord Rosebery acknowledged the
necessity to convert "the predominant partner," a mission which every
passing year made appear a more hopeless undertaking. At by-elections
Home Rule was scarcely mentioned. In the eyes of average Englishmen the
question was dead and buried, and most people were heartily thankful to
hear no more about it. Mr. T.M. Healy's caustic wit remarked that "Home
Rule was put into cold storage."[7]

Then came the great overthrow of the Unionists in 1906. Home Rule,
except by its absence from Liberal election addresses, contributed
nothing at all to that resounding Liberal victory. The battle of
"terminological inexactitudes" rang with cries of Chinese "slavery,"
Tariff Reform, Church Schools, Labour Dispute Bills, and so forth; but
on Ireland silence reigned on the platforms of the victors. The event
was to give the successors of Mr. Gladstone a House of Commons in
complete subjection to them. For the first time since 1885 they had a
majority independent of the Nationalists, a majority, if ever there was
one, "large enough to coerce the House of Lords," as they would have
done in 1893, according to Lord Morley, if they had had the power. But
to do that would involve the danger of having again to appeal to the
country, which even at this high tide of Liberal triumph they could not
face with Home Rule as an election cry. So, with the tame acquiescence
of Mr. Redmond and his followers, they spent four years of unparalleled
power without laying a finger on Irish Government, a course which was
rendered easy for them by the fact that, on their own admission, they
had found Ireland in a more peaceful, prosperous, and contented
condition than it had enjoyed for several generations. Occasionally,
indeed, as was necessary to prevent a rupture with the Nationalists,
some perfunctory mention of Home Rule as a _desideratum_ of the future
was made on Ministerial platforms--by Mr. Churchill, for example, at
Manchester in May 1909. But by that date even the contest over Tariff
Reform--which had raged without intermission for six years, and by
rending the Unionist Party had grievously damaged it as an effective
instrument of opposition--had become merged in the more immediately
exciting battle of the Budget, provoked by Mr. Lloyd George's financial
proposals for the current year, and by the possibility that they might
be rejected by the House of Lords. This the House of Lords did, on the
30th of November, 1909, and the Prime Minister at once announced that he
would appeal to the country without delay.

Such a turn of events was a wonderful windfall for the Irish
Nationalists, beyond what the most sanguine of them can ever have hoped
for. The rejection of a money Bill by the House of Lords raised a
democratic blizzard, the full force of which was directed against the
constitutional power of veto possessed by the hereditary Chamber in
relation not merely to money Bills, but to general legislation. For a
long time the Liberal Party had been threatening that part of the
Constitution without much effect. Sixteen years had passed since Mr.
Gladstone in his last speech in the House of Commons declared that
issue must be joined with the Peers; but the emphatic endorsement by the
constituencies in 1895 of the Lords' action which he had denounced,
followed by ten years of Unionist Government, damped down the ardour of
attack so effectually that, during the four years in which the Liberals
enjoyed unchallengeable power, from 1906 to 1910, they did nothing to
carry out Gladstone's parting injunction. Had they done so at any time
when Home Rule was a living issue in the country an attack on the Lords
would in all probability have proved disastrous to themselves. For there
was not a particle of evidence that the electors of Great Britain had
changed their minds on this subject, and there were great numbers of
voters in the country--those voters, unattached to party, who constitute
"the swing of the pendulum," and decide the issue at General
Elections--who felt free to vote Liberal in 1906 because they believed
Home Rule was practically dead, and if revived would be again given its
_quietus_, as in 1893, by the House of Lords. But the defeat of the
Budget in November 1909 immediately opened a line of attack wholly
unconnected with Ireland, and over the most favourable ground that could
have been selected for the assault.

Nothing could have been more skilful than the tactics employed by the
Liberal leaders. Concentrating on the constitutional question raised by
the alleged encroachment of the Lords on the exclusive privilege of the
Commons to grant supply, they tried to excite a hurricane of popular
fury by calling on the electorate to decide between "Peers and People."
The rejected Finance Bill was dubbed "The People's Budget." A "Budget
League" was formed to expatiate through the constituencies on the
democratic character of its provisions, and on the personal and class
selfishness of the Peers in throwing it out. As little as possible was
said about Ireland, and probably not one voter in ten thousand who went
to the poll in January 1910 ever gave a thought to the subject, or
dreamed that he was taking part in reversing the popular verdict of 1886
and 1895. Afterwards, when it was complained that an election so
conducted had provided no "mandate" for Home Rule, it was found that in
the course of a long speech delivered by Mr. Asquith at the Albert Hall
on the 10th of December there was a sentence in which the Prime Minister
had declared that "the Irish problem could only be solved by a policy
which, while explicitly safeguarding the supreme authority of the
Imperial Parliament, would set up self-government in Ireland in regard
to Irish affairs." The rest of the speech dealt with Tariff Reform and
with the constitutional question of the House of Lords, on which the
public mind was focused throughout the election.

In the unprecedented deluge of oratory that flooded the country in the
month preceding the elections the Prime Minister's sentence on Ireland
at the Albert Hall passed almost unnoticed in English and Scottish
constituencies, or was quickly lost sight of, like a coin in a
cornstack, under sheaves of rhetoric about the dear loaf and the
intolerable arrogance of hereditary legislators. Here and there a
Unionist candidate did his best to warn a constituency that every
Liberal vote was a vote for Home Rule. He was invariably met with an
impatient retort that he was attempting to raise a bogey to divert
attention from the iniquity of the Lords and the Tariff Reformers. Home
Rule, he was told, was dead and buried.

On the 19th of January, 1910, when the elections were over in the
boroughs, Mr. Asquith claimed that "the great industrial centres had
mainly declared for Free Trade," and the impartial chronicler of the
_Annual Register_ stated that "the Liberals had fought on Free Trade and
the constitutional issue." The twice-repeated decision of the country
against Home Rule for Ireland was therefore in no sense reversed by the
General Election of January 1910.

But from the very beginning of the agitation over the Budget and the
action of the House of Lords in relation to it, in the summer of 1909,
the gravity of the situation so created was fully appreciated by both
political parties in Ireland itself. Only the most languid interest was
there taken in the questions which stirred the constituencies across
the Channel. Neither Nationalist nor Unionist cared anything whatever
for Free Trade; neither of them shed a tear over the rejected Budget.
Indeed, Mr. Lloyd George's new taxes were so unpopular in Ireland that
Mr. Redmond was violently attacked by Mr. William O'Brien and Mr. Healy
for his neglect of obvious Irish interests in supporting the Government.
Mr. Redmond, for his part, made no pretence that his support was given
because he approved of the proposals for which he and his followers gave
their votes in every division. The clauses of the Finance Bill were
trifles in his eyes that did not matter. His gaze was steadily fixed on
the House of Peers, which he saw before him as a huntsman views a fox
with bedraggled brush, reduced to a trot a field or two ahead of the
hounds. That House was, as he described it, "the last obstacle to Home
Rule," and he was determined to do all he could to remove the obstacle.
Lord Rosebery said at Glasgow in September 1909 that he believed
Ministers wanted the House of Lords to reject the Budget. Whether they
did or not, there can be no doubt that Mr. Redmond did, for he knew
that, in that event, the whole strength of the Liberal Party would be
directed to the task of beating down the "last obstacle," and that then
it would be possible to carry Home Rule without the British
constituencies being consulted. It was with this end in view that he
took his party into the lobby in support of a Budget that was detested
in Ireland, and threw the whole weight of his influence in British
constituencies on to the Liberal side in the elections of January 1910.

But, notwithstanding the torrent of class prejudice and democratic
passion that was stirred up by six weeks of Liberal oratory, the result
of the elections was a serious loss of strength to the Government. The
commanding Liberal majority of 1906 over all parties in the House of
Commons disappeared, and Mr. Asquith and his Cabinet were once more
dependent on a coalition of Labour Members and Nationalists. The
Liberals by themselves had a majority of two only over the Unionists,
who had won over one hundred seats, so that the Nationalists were
easily in a position to enforce their leader's threat to make Mr.
Asquith "toe the line."

When the Parliament elected in January 1910 assembled disputes arose
between the Government and the Nationalists as to whether priority was
to be given to passing the Budget rejected in the previous session, or
to the Parliament Bill which was to deprive the House of Lords of its
constitutional power to reject legislation passed by the Commons; and
Mr. Redmond expressed his displeasure that "guarantees" had not yet been
obtained from the King, or, in plain language, that a promise had not
been extorted from the Sovereign that he would be prepared to create a
sufficient number of Peers to secure the acceptance of the Parliament
Bill by the Upper House.

The whole situation was suddenly changed by the death of King Edward in
May 1910. Consideration for the new and inexperienced Sovereign led to
the temporary abandonment of coercion of the Crown, and resort was had
to a Conference of party leaders, with a view to settlement of the
dispute by agreement. But no agreement was arrived at, and the
Conference broke up on the 10th of November. Parliament was again
dissolved in December, "on the assumption," as Lord Crewe stated, "that
the House of Lords would reject the Parliament Bill."

During the agitation of this troubled autumn preceding the General
Election, the question of Home Rule was not quite so successfully
concealed from view as in the previous year. The Liberals, indeed,
maintained the same tactical reserve on the subject, alike in their
writings and their speeches. The Liberal Press of the period may be
searched in vain for any clear indication that the electors were about
to be asked to decide once more this momentous constitutional question.
Such mention of it as was occasionally to be found in ministerial
speeches seemed designed to convey the idea that, while the door leading
to Home Rule was still formally open, there was no immediate prospect of
its being brought into use. The Prime Minister in particular did
everything in his power to direct the attention of the country to the
same issues as in the preceding January, among which Ireland had had no
place. In presenting the Government's case at Hull on the 25th of
November, he reminded the country that in the January elections the veto
of the Peers was "the dominant issue"; in the intervening months the
Government, he said, had brought forward proposals for dealing with the
veto, and had given the Lords an opportunity to make proposals of their
own; a defeat of the Liberals in the coming elections would bring in
"Protection disguised as Tariff Reform"; but he (Mr. Asquith) preferred
to concentrate his criticism on Lord Lansdowne's "crude and complex
scheme" for Second Chamber reform; he made a passing mention of
"self-government for Ireland" as a policy that would have the sympathy
of the Dominions, but added that "the immediate task was to secure fair
play for Liberal legislation and popular government." And in his
election address Mr. Asquith declared that "the appeal to the country
was almost narrowed to a single issue, and on its determination hung the
whole future of democratic Government."

This zeal for "popular," or "democratic" government was, however, not
inconsistent apparently with a determination to avoid at all hazards
consulting the will of the people, before doing what the people had
hitherto always refused to sanction. The suggestion had been made
earlier in the autumn that a Referendum, or "Poll of the People" might
be taken on the question of Home Rule. The very idea filled the Liberals
with dismay. Speaking at Edinburgh on the 2nd of December, Mr. Lloyd
George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made the curiously naive
admission, for a "democratic" politician, that the Referendum would
amount to "a prohibitive tariff against Liberalism." A few days earlier
at Reading (November 29th) his Chief sought to turn the edge of this
disconcerting proposal by asking whether the Unionists, if returned to
power, would allow Tariff Reform to be settled by the same mode of
appeal to the country; and when Mr. Balfour promptly accepted the
challenge by promising that he would do so Mr. Asquith retreated under
cover of the excuse that no bargain had been intended.

While the Liberal leaders were thus doing all they could to hold down
the lid of the Home Rule Jack-in-the-box, the Unionists were warning the
country that as soon as Mr. Asquith secured a majority his thumb would
release the spring. Speakers from Ulster carried the warning into many
constituencies, but it was noticed that they were constantly met with
the same retort as in January--that Home Rule was a "bogey," or a "red
herring" dragged across the trail of Tariff Reform and the Peers' veto;
and it is a significant indication of the straits to which the
Government afterwards felt themselves driven to find justification for
dealing with so fundamental a question as the repeal of the Union
without the explicit approval of the electorate, that they devised the
strange doctrine that speeches by their opponents provided them with a
mandate for a policy about which they had themselves kept silence, even
although those speeches had been disbelieved and derided on the very
ground that it would be impossible for Ministers to bring forward a
policy they had not laid before the country during the election.

The extent to which this ministerial reserve was carried was shown by a
question put to Mr. Asquith in his own constituency in East Fife on the
6th of December. Scottish "hecklers" are intelligent and well informed
on current politics, and no one who knows them can imagine one of them
asking the Prime Minister whether he intended to introduce a Home Rule
Bill if Home Rule had been proclaimed as one of the chief items in the
policy of the Government. Mr. Asquith gave an affirmative reply; but the
elections were by this time half over, and in the following week Mr.
Balfour laid stress on the fact that five hundred contests had been
decided before any Minister had mentioned Home Rule. Even after giving
this memorable answer in East Fife Mr. Asquith, speaking at Bury St.
Edmunds on the 12th of December, declared that "the sole issue at that
moment was the supremacy of the people," and he added, in deprecation of
all the talk about Ireland, that "it was sought to confuse this issue by
catechising Ministers on the details of the next Home Rule Bill."

Even if this had been, as it was not, a true description of the
attempts that had been made to extract a frank declaration from the
Government as to their intentions in regard to this vitally important
matter--far more important to hundreds of thousands of people than any
question of Tariff, or of limiting the functions of the Second Chamber
--it was surely a curious doctrine to be propounded by a statesman
zealous to preserve "popular government "! There had been two Home Rule
Bills in the past, differing one from the other in not a few important
respects; discussion had shown that many even of those who supported the
principle of Home Rule objected strongly to this or that proposal for
embodying it in legislation Language had been used by Mr. Asquith
himself, as well as by some of his principal colleagues, which implied
that any future Home Rule Bill would be part of a general scheme of
"devolution," or federation, or "Home Rule All Round"--a solution of the
question favoured by many who hotly opposed separate treatment for
Ireland Yet here was the responsible Minister, in the middle of a
General Election, complaining that the issue was being "confused" by
presumptuous persons who wanted to know what sort of Home Rule, if any,
he had in contemplation in the event of obtaining a majority sufficient
to keep him in power.

Under such circumstances it would have been a straining of
constitutional principles, and a flagrant violation of the canons of
that "democratic government" of which Mr Asquith had constituted himself
the champion, to pass a Home Rule Bill by means of a majority so
obtained, even if the majority had been one that pointed to a sweeping
turnover of public opinion to the side of the Government The elections
of December 1910, in point of fact, gave no such indication. The
Government gained nothing whatever by the appeal to the country.
Liberals and Unionists came back in almost precisely the same strength
as in the previous Parliament. They balanced each other within a couple
of votes in the new House of Commons, and the Ministry could not have
remained twenty-four hours in office except in coalition with Labour and
the Irish Nationalists.

The Parliament so elected and so constituted was destined not merely to
destroy the effective power of the House of Lords, and to place on the
Statute-book a measure setting up an Irish Parliament in Dublin, but to
be an assembly longer in duration and more memorable in achievement than
any in English history since the Long Parliament. During the eight years
of its reign the Great War was fought and won; the "rebel party" in
Ireland once more, as in the Napoleonic Wars, broke into armed
insurrection in league with the enemies of England; and before it was
dissolved the political parties in Great Britain, heartily supported by
the Loyalists of Ulster, composed the party differences which had raged
with such passion over Home Rule and other domestic issues, and joined
forces in patriotic resistance to the foreign enemy.

But before this transformation took place nearly four years of agitation
and contest had to run their course. In the first session of the
Parliament, by a violent use of the Royal Prerogative, the Parliament
Bill became law, the Peers accepting the measure under duress of the
threat that some four or five hundred peerages would, if necessary, be
created to form a majority to carry it. It was then no longer possible
for the Upper House to force an appeal to the country on Home Rule, as
it had done in 1893. All that was necessary was for a Bill to be carried
in three successive sessions through the House of Commons, to become
law. "The last obstacle to Home Rule," as Mr. Redmond called it, had
been removed. The Liberal Government had taken a hint from the procedure
of the careful burglar, who poisons the dog before breaking into the

The significance of the manner in which the Irish question had been kept
out of view of the electorate by the Government and their supporters was
not lost upon the people of Ulster. In January 1911, within a month of
the elections, a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council was held at
which a comprehensive resolution dealing with the situation that had
arisen was adopted, and published as a manifesto. One of its clauses

     "The Council has observed with much surprise the singular reticence
     as regards Home Rule maintained by a large number of Radical
     candidates in England and Scotland during the recent elections, and
     especially by the Prime Minister himself, who barely referred to
     the subject till almost the close of his own contest. In view of
     the consequent fact that Home Rule was not at the late appeal to
     the country placed as a clear issue before the electors, it is the
     judgment of the Council that the country has given no mandate for
     Home Rule, and that any attempt in such circumstances to force
     through Parliament a measure enacting it would be for His Majesty's
     Ministers a grave, if not criminal, breach of constitutional duty."

The great importance, in relation to the policy subsequently pursued by
Ulster, of the historical fact here made clear--namely, that the "will
of the people" constitutionally expressed in parliamentary elections has
never declared itself in favour of granting Home Rule to Ireland, lies,
first, in the justification it afforded to the preparations for active
resistance to a measure so enacted; and, secondly, in the influence it
had in procuring for Ulster not merely the sympathy but the open support
of the whole Unionist Party in Great Britain. Lord Londonderry, one of
Ulster's most trusted leaders, who afterwards gave the whole weight of
his support to the policy of forcible resistance, admitted in the House
of Lords in 1911, in the debates on the Parliament Bill, that the
verdict of the country, if appealed to, would have to be accepted. The
leader of the Unionist Party, Mr. Bonar Law, made it clear in February
1914, as he had more than once stated before, that the support he and
his party were pledging themselves to give to Ulster in the struggle
then approaching a climax, was entirely due to the fact that the
electorate had never sanctioned the policy of the Government against
which Ulster's resistance was threatened. The chance of success in that
resistance "depended," he said, "upon the sympathy of the British
people, and an election would undoubtedly make a great difference in
that respect"; he denied that Mr. Asquith had a "right to pass any form
of Home Rule without a mandate from the people of this country, which
he has never received"; and he categorically announced that "if you get
the decision of the people we shall obey it." And if, as then appeared
likely, the unconstitutional conduct of the Government should lead to
bloodshed in Ireland, the responsibility, said Mr. Bonar Law, would be
theirs, "because you preferred to face civil war rather than face the


[3] Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, in, 492.

[4] Ibid., 493.

[5] Ibid., 505.

[6] _Annual Register_, 1910, p. 240.

[7] See _Letters to Isabel_, by Lord Shaw of Dunfermline, p. 130.

[8] _Parliamentary Debates_ (5th Series), vol. I viii, pp. 279-84.



From the day when Gladstone first made Home Rule for Ireland the leading
issue in British politics, the Loyalists of Ulster--who, as already
explained, included practically all the Protestant population of the
Province both Conservative and Liberal, besides a small number of
Catholics who had no separatist sympathies--set to work to organise
themselves for effective opposition to the new policy. In the hour of
their dismay over Gladstone's surrender Lord Randolph Churchill,
hurrying from London to encourage and inspirit them, told them in the
Ulster Hall on the 22nd of February, 1886, that "the Loyalists in Ulster
should wait and watch--organise and prepare."[9] They followed his
advice. Propaganda among themselves was indeed unnecessary, for no one
required conversion except those who were known to be inconvertible. The
chief work to be done was to send speakers to British constituencies;
and in the decade from 1885 to 1895 Ulster speakers, many of whom were
ministers of the different Protestant Churches, were in request on
English and Scottish platforms.

A number of organisations were formed for this purpose, some of which,
like the Irish Unionist Alliance, represented Unionist opinion
throughout Ireland, and not in Ulster alone. Others were exclusively
concerned with the northern Province, where from the first the
opposition was naturally more concentrated than elsewhere. In the early
days, the Ulster Loyalist and Patriotic Union, organised by Lord
Ranfurly and Mr. W.R. Young, carried on an active and sustained campaign
in Great Britain, and the Unionist Clubs initiated by Lord Templetown
provided a useful organisation in the smaller country towns, which still
exists as an effective force. The Loyal Orange Institution, founded at
the end of the eighteenth century to commemorate, and to keep alive the
principles of, the Whig Revolution of 1688, had fallen into not
unmerited disrepute prior to 1886. Few men of education or standing
belonged to it, and the lodge meetings and anniversary celebrations had
become little better than occasions for conviviality wholly inconsistent
with the irreproachable formularies of the Order. But its system of
local Lodges, affiliated to a Grand Lodge in each county, supplied the
ready-made framework of an effective organisation. Immediately after the
introduction of Gladstone's first Bill in 1886 it received an immense
accession of strength. Large numbers of country gentlemen, clergymen of
all Protestant denominations, business and professional men, farmers,
and the better class of artisans in Belfast and other towns, joined the
local Lodges, the management of which passed into capable hands; the
character of the Society was thereby completely and rapidly transformed,
and, instead of being a somewhat disreputable and obsolete survival, it
became a highly respectable as well as an exceedingly powerful political
organisation, the whole weight of whose influence has been on the side
of the Union.

A rallying cry was given to the Ulster Loyalists in the famous phrase
contained in a letter from Lord Randolph Churchill to a correspondent in
May 1886: "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right." From this time
forward the idea that resort to physical resistance would be preferable
to submission to a Parliament in Dublin controlled by the "rebel party"
took hold of the popular mind in Ulster, although after the elections of
1886 there was no serious apprehension that the necessity would arise,
until the return to power of Mr. Gladstone at the head of a small
majority in 1892 brought about a fresh crisis.

The work of organisation was then undertaken with greater energy and
thoroughness than before. It was now that Lord Templetown founded the
Unionist Clubs, which spread in an affiliated network through Ulster,
and proved so valuable that, after falling into neglect during the ten
years of Conservative Government, they were revived at the special
request of the Ulster Unionist Council in December 1910. Nothing,
however, did so much to stimulate organisation and concentration of
effort as the great Convention held in Belfast on the 19th of June 1892,
representing on a democratic basis all the constituencies in Ulster.
Numerous preliminary meetings were arranged for the purpose of electing
the delegates; and of these the Special Correspondent of _The Times_

     "Nothing has struck me more in the present movement than the
     perfect order and regularity with which the preliminary meetings
     for the election of delegates has been conducted. From city and
     town and village come reports of crowded and enthusiastic
     gatherings, all animated by an equal ardour, all marked by the same
     spirit of quiet determination. There has been no 'tall talk,' no
     over-statement; the speeches have been dignified, sensible, and
     practical. One of the most marked features in the meetings has been
     the appearance of men who have never before taken part in public
     life, who have never till now stood on a public platform. Now for
     the first time they have broken with the tranquil traditions of a
     lifetime, and have come forward to take their share and their
     responsibility in the grave danger which threatens their

There being no building large enough to hold the delegates, numbering
nearly twelve thousand, every one of whom was a registered voter
appointed by the polling districts to attend the Convention, a pavilion,
the largest ever used for a political meeting in the kingdom, was
specially constructed close to the Botanical Gardens in Belfast. It
covered 33,000 square feet, and, owing to the enthusiasm of the workmen
employed on the building, it was erected (at a cost of over £3,000)
within three weeks. It provided seating accommodation for 13,000 people,
but the number who actually gained admittance to the Convention was
nearly 21,000, while outside an assemblage, estimated by the
correspondent of _The Times_ at 300,000, was also addressed by the
principal speakers.

The commencement of the proceedings with prayer, conducted by the
Primate of all Ireland and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, set
a precedent which was extensively followed in later years throughout
Ulster, marking the spirit of seriousness which struck numerous
observers as characteristic of the Ulster Movement. The speakers were
men representative of all the varied interests of the Province---
religious, agricultural, commercial, and industrial--and among them were
two men, Mr. Thomas Sinclair and Mr. Thomas Andrews, who had been
life-long Liberals, but who from this time forward were distinguished
and trusted leaders of Unionist opinion in Ulster. It was Mr. Andrews
who touched a chord that vibrated through the vast audience, making them
leap to their feet, cheering for several minutes. "As a last resource,"
he cried, "we will be prepared to defend ourselves." But the climax of
this memorable assembly was reached when the chairman, the Duke of
Abercorn, with upraised arm, and calling on the audience solemnly to
repeat the words one by one after him, gave out what became for the
future the motto and watchword of Ulster loyalty: "We will not have Home
Rule." It was felt that this simple negation constituted a solemn vow
taken by the delegates, both for themselves and for those they
represented--an act of self-dedication to which every loyal man and
woman in Ulster was committed, and from which there could be no turning

The principal Resolution, adopted unanimously by the Convention,
formulated the grounds on which the people of the Province based their
hostility to the separatist policy of Home Rule; and as frequent
reference was made to it in after-years as an authoritative definition
of Ulster policy, it may be worth while to recall its terms:

     "That this Convention, consisting of 11,879 delegates representing
     the Unionists of every creed, class, and party throughout Ulster,
     appointed at public meetings held in every electoral division of
     the Province, hereby solemnly resolves and declares: 'That we
     express the devoted loyalty of Ulster Unionists to the Crown and
     Constitution of the United Kingdom; that we avow our fixed resolve
     to retain unchanged our present position as an integral portion of
     the United Kingdom, and protest in the most unequivocal manner
     against the passage of any measure that would rob us of our
     inheritance in the Imperial Parliament, under the protection of
     which our capital has been invested and our homes and rights
     safeguarded; that we record our determination to have nothing to do
     with a Parliament certain to be controlled by men responsible for
     the crime and outrages of the Land League, the dishonesty of the
     Plan of Campaign, and the cruelties of boycotting, many of whom
     have shown themselves the ready instruments of clerical domination;
     that we declare to the people of Great Britain our conviction that
     the attempt to set up such a Parliament in Ireland will inevitably
     result in disorder, violence, and bloodshed, such as have not been
     experienced in this century, and announce our resolve to take no
     part in the election or proceedings of such a Parliament, the
     authority of which, should it ever be constituted, we shall be
     forced to repudiate; that we protest against this great question,
     which involves our lives, property, and civil rights, being treated
     as a mere side-issue in the impending electoral struggle; that we
     appeal to those of our fellow countrymen who have hitherto been in
     favour of a separate Parliament to abandon a demand which
     hopelessly divides Irishmen, and to unite with us under the
     Imperial Legislature in developing the resources and furthering the
     best interests of our common country.'"

There can be no doubt that the Ulster Convention of 1892, and the
numerous less imposing demonstrations which followed on both sides of
the Channel and took their tone from it, of which the most notable was
the great meeting at the Albert Hall in London on the 22nd of April,
1893, had much effect in impressing and instructing public opinion, and
thus preparing the way for the smashing defeat of the Liberal Home Rule
Party in the General Election of 1895. After that event vigilance again
relaxed during the ten years of Unionist predominance which followed.
But the organisation was kept intact, and its democratic method of
appointing delegates in every polling district provided a permanent
electoral machinery for the Unionist Party in the constituencies, as
well as the framework for the Ulster Unionist Council, which was brought
into existence in 1905, largely through the efforts of Mr. William
Moore, M.P. for North Armagh. This Council, with its executive Standing
Committee, was thenceforward the acknowledged authority for determining
all questions of Unionist policy in Ulster.

Its first meeting was held on the 3rd of March, 1905, under the
presidency of Colonel James McCalmont, M.P. for East Antrim. The first
ten members of the Standing Committee were nominated by Colonel
Saunderson, M.P., as chairman of the Ulster Parliamentary Party. They
were, in addition to the chairman himself, the Duke of Abercorn, the
Marquis of Londonderry, the Earl of Erne, the Earl of Ranfurly, Colonel
James McCalmont, M.P., the Hon. R.T. O'Neill, M.P., Mr. G. Wolff, M.P.,
Mr. J.B. Lonsdale, M.P., and Mr. William Moore, K.C., M.P. These
nominations were confirmed by a ballot of the members of the Council,
and twenty other members were elected forthwith to form the Standing
Committee. This first Executive Committee of the organisation which for
the next fifteen years directed the policy of Ulster Unionism included
several names that were from this time forward among the most prominent
in the movement. There were the two eminent Liberals, Mr. Thomas
Sinclair and Mr. Thomas Andrews, and Mr. John Young, all three of whom
were members of the Irish Privy Council; Colonel R.H. Wallace, C.B., Mr.
W.H.H. Lyons, and Sir James Stronge, leaders of the Orangemen; Colonel
Sharman-Crawford, Mr. E.M. Archdale, Mr. W.J. Allen, Mr. R.H. Reade, and
Sir William Ewart. Among several "Unionist candidates for Ulster
constituencies" who were at the same meeting co-opted to the Council, we
find the names of Captain James Craig and Mr. Denis Henry, K.C. The Duke
of Abercorn accepted the position of President of the Council, and Mr.
E.M. Archdale was elected chairman of the Standing Committee. Mr. T.H.
Gibson was appointed secretary. In October 1906 the latter resigned his
post owing to failing health, and, on the motion of Mr. William Moore,
M.P., Mr. Richard Dawson Bates, a solicitor practising in Belfast, was
"temporarily" appointed to fill the vacancy. This temporary appointment
was never formally made permanent, but no question in regard to the
secretaryship was ever raised, for Mr. Bates performed the duties year
after year to the complete satisfaction of everyone connected with the
organisation, and in a manner that earned the gratitude of all Ulster
Unionists. The funds at the disposal of the Council in 1906 only enabled
a salary of £100 a year to be paid to the secretary--a salary that was
purely nominal in the case of a professional gentleman of Mr. Bates's
standing; but the spirit in which he took up his duties was seen two
years later, when it was found that out of this salary he had himself
been paying for clerical assistance; and then, of course, this matter
was properly adjusted, which the improved financial position of the
Council happily rendered possible.

The declared purpose of the Ulster Unionist Council was to form a union
of all local Unionist Associations in Ulster; to keep the latter in
constant touch with their parliamentary representatives; and "to be the
medium of expressing Ulster Unionist opinion as current events may from
time to time require." It consisted at first of not more than 200
members, of whom 100 represented local Associations, and 50 represented
the Orange Lodges, the remaining 50 being made up of Ulster members of
both Houses of Parliament and of certain "distinguished residents in or
natives of Ulster" to be co-opted by the Council. As time went on the
Council was considerably enlarged, and its representative character
improved. In 1911 the elected membership was raised to 370, and included
representatives of local Associations, Orange Lodges, Unionist Clubs,
and the Derry Apprentice Boys. In 1918 representatives of the Women's
Associations were added, and the total elected membership was increased
to 432. The delegates elected by the various constituent bodies were in
the fullest sense representative men; they were drawn from all classes
of the population; and, by the regularity with which they attended
meetings of the Council whenever business of any importance was to be
transacted, they made it the most effective political organisation in
the United Kingdom.

A campaign of public meetings in England and Scotland conducted jointly
by the Ulster Unionist Council and the Irish Unionist Alliance in 1908
led to a scheme of co-operation between the two bodies, the one
representing Unionists in the North and the other those in the southern
Provinces, which worked smoothly and effectively. A joint Committee of
the Unionist Associations of Ireland was therefore formed in the same
year, the organisations represented on it being the two already named
and the Ulster Loyalist Anti-Repeal Union. The latter, which in earlier
years had done excellent spade-work under the fostering zeal of Lord
Ranfurly and Mr. William Robert Young, was before 1911 amalgamated with
the Unionist Council, so that all rivalry and overlapping was
thenceforward eliminated from the organisation of Unionism in Ulster.
The Council in the North and the Irish Unionist Alliance in Dublin
worked in complete harmony both with each other and with the Union
Defence League in London, whose operations were carried on under the
direction of its founder, Mr. Walter Long.

The women of Ulster were scarcely less active than the men in the matter
of organisation. Although, of course, as yet unenfranchised, they took
as a rule a keener interest in political matters--meaning thereby the
one absorbing question of the Union--than their sex in other parts of
the United Kingdom. When critical times for the Union arrived there was,
therefore, no apathy to be overcome by the Protestant women in Ulster.
Early in 1911 the "Ulster Women's Unionist Council" was formed under the
presidency of the Duchess of Abercorn, and very quickly became a most
effective organisation side by side with that of the men. The leading
spirit was the Marchioness of Londonderry, but that it was no
aristocratic affair of titled ladies may be inferred from the fact that
within twelve months of its formation between forty and fifty thousand
members were enrolled. A branch in Mr. Devlin's constituency of West
Belfast, which over four thousand women joined in its first month of
existence, of whom over 80 per cent, were mill-workers and shop-girls in
the district, held a very effective demonstration on the 11th of
January, 1912, at which Mr. Thomas Sinclair, the most universally
respected of Belfast's business men, made one of his many telling
speeches which familiarised the people with the commercial and financial
aspects of Home Rule, as it would be felt in Ulster. The central Women's
Council followed this up with a more imposing gathering in the Ulster
Hall on the 18th, which adopted with intense enthusiasm the declaration:
"We will stand by our husbands, our brothers, and our sons, in whatever
steps they may be forced to take in defending our liberties against the
tyranny of Home Rule."

Thus before the end of 1911 men and women alike were firmly organised in
Ulster for the support of their loyalist principles. But the most
effective organisation is impotent without leadership. Among the
declared "objects" of the Ulster Unionist Council was that of acting "as
a connecting link between Ulster Unionists and their parliamentary
representatives." In the House of Commons the Ulster Unionist Members,
although they recognised Colonel Edward Saunderson, M.P., as their
leader until his death in 1906, did not during his lifetime, or for some
years afterwards, constitute a separate party or group. When Colonel
Saunderson died the Right Hon. Walter Long, who had held the office of
Chief Secretary in the last year of the Unionist Administration, and who
had been elected for South Dublin in 1906, became leader of the Irish
Unionists--with whom those representing Ulster constituencies were
included. But in the elections of January 1910 Mr. Long was returned for
a London seat, and it therefore became necessary for Irish Unionists to
select another leader.

By this time the Home Rule question had, as the people of Ulster
perceived, become once more a matter of vital urgency, although, as
explained in the preceding chapter, the electors of Great Britain were
too engrossed by other matters to give it a thought, and the Liberal
Ministers were doing everything in their power to keep it in the
background. The Ulster Members of the House of Commons realised,
therefore, the grave importance of finding a leader of the calibre
necessary for dealing on equal terms with such orators and
Parliamentarians as Mr. Asquith and Mr. John Redmond. They did not
deceive themselves into thinking that such a leader was to be found
among their own number. They could produce several capable speakers, and
men of judgment and good sense; but something more was needed for the
critical times they saw ahead. After careful consideration, they took a
step which in the event proved to be of momentous importance, and of
extreme good fortune, for the enterprise that the immediate future had
in store for them. Mr. J.B. Lonsdale, Member for Mid Armagh, Hon.
Secretary of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party, was deputed to
request Sir Edward Carson, K.C., to accept the leadership of the Irish
Unionist party in the House of Commons.

Several days elapsed before they received an answer; but when it came it
was, happily for Ulster, an acceptance. It is easy to understand Sir
Edward Carson's hesitation before consenting to assume the leadership.
After carrying all before him in the Irish Courts, where he had been Law
Officer of the Crown, he had migrated to London, where he had been
Solicitor-General during the last six years of the Unionist
Administration, and by 1910 had attained a position of supremacy at the
English Bar, with the certain prospect of the highest legal advancement,
and with an extremely lucrative practice, which his family circumstances
made it no light matter for him to sacrifice, but which he knew it would
be impossible for him to retain in conjunction with the political duties
he was now urged to undertake. Although only in his fifty-seventh year,
he was never one of those who feel younger than their age; nor did he
minimise in his own mind the disability caused by his too frequent
physical ailments, which inclined him to shrink from embarking upon
fresh work the extent and nature of which could not be exactly foreseen.
As to ambition, there are few men who ever were less moved by it, but he
could not leave altogether out of consideration his firm
conviction--which ultimately proved to have been ill-founded--that
acceptance of the Ulster leadership would cut him off from all
promotion, whether political or legal.[11]

Moreover, although for the moment it was the leadership of a
parliamentary group to which he was formally invited, it was obvious
that much more was really involved; the people in Ulster itself needed
guidance in the crisis that was visibly approaching. Ever since Lord
Randolph Churchill, with the concurrence of Lord Salisbury, first
inspired them in 1886 with the spirit of resistance in the last resort
to being placed under a Dublin Parliament, and assured them of British
sympathy and support if driven to that extremity, the determination of
Ulster in this respect was known to all who had any familiarity with the
temper of her people. Any man who undertook to lead them at such a
juncture as had been reached in 1910 must make that determination the
starting-point of his policy. It was a task that would require not only
statesmanship, but political courage of a high order. Lord Randolph
Churchill, in his famous Ulster Hall speech, had said that "no
portentous change such as the repeal of the Union, no change so
gigantic, could be accomplished by the mere passing of a law; the
history of the United States will teach us a different lesson." Ulster
always took her stand on the American precedent, though the exemplar was
Lincoln rather than Washington. But although the scale of operations
was, of course, infinitely smaller, the Ulster leader would, if it came
to the worst, be confronted by certain difficulties from which Abraham
Lincoln was free. He might have to follow the example of the latter in
forcibly resisting secession, but his legal position would be very
different. He might be called upon to resist technically legal
authority, whereas Lincoln had it at his back. To guide and control a
headstrong people, smarting under a sense of betrayal, when entering on
a movement pregnant with these issues, and at the same time to stand up
against a powerful Government on the floor of the House of Commons, was
an enterprise upon which any far-seeing man might well hesitate to

Pondering over the invitation conveyed to him in his Chambers in the
Temple, Carson may, therefore, well have asked himself what inducement
there was for him to accept it. He was not an Ulsterman. As a Southerner
he was not familiar with the psychology of the northern Irish; the
sectarian narrowness popularly attributed to them outside their province
was wholly alien to his character; he was as far removed by nature from
a fire-eater as it was possible for man to be; he was not fond of
unnecessary exertion; he preferred the law to politics, and disliked
addressing political assemblies. In Parliament he represented, not a
popular constituency, but the University of Dublin. But, on the other
hand, he was to the innermost core of his nature an Irish Loyalist. His
youthful political sympathies had, indeed, been with the Liberal Party,
but he instantly severed his connection with it when Gladstone joined
hands with Parnell. He had made his name at the Irish Bar as Crown
Prosecutor in the troubled period of Mr. Balfour's Chief Secretaryship,
and this experience had bred in him a hearty detestation of the whining
sentimentality, the tawdry and exaggerated rhetoric, and the
manufactured discontent that found vent in Nationalist politics. A
sincere lover of Ireland, he had too much sound sense to credit the
notion that either the freedom or the prosperity of the country would be
increased by loosening the tie with Great Britain. Although he as yet
knew little of Ulster, he admired her resolute stand for the Union, her
passionate loyalty to the Crown; he watched with disgust the way in
which her defences were being sapped by the Liberal Party in England;
and the thought that such a people were perhaps on the eve of being
driven into subjection to the men whose character he had had so much
opportunity to gauge in the days of the Land League filled him with

If, therefore, he could be of service in helping to avert so great a
wrong Sir Edward Carson came to the conclusion that it would be shirking
a call of duty were he to decline the leadership that had been offered
him. Realising to the full all that it meant for himself--inevitable
sacrifice of income, of ease, of chances of promotion, a burden of
responsibility, a probability of danger--he gave his consent; and the
day he gave it--the 21st of February, 1910--should be marked for all
time as a red-letter day in the Ulster calendar.


[9] _Lord Randolph Churchill_, by the Right Hon. W.S. Churchill, vol.
ii, p. 62.

[10] _The Times_, June 16th, 1892.

[11] He expressed this conviction to the author in 1911.



A good many months were to elapse before the Unionist rank and file in
Ulster were brought into close personal touch with the new leader of the
Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party. The work to be done in 1910 lay
chiefly in London, where the constitutional struggle arising out of the
rejection of the "People's Budget" was raging. But shortly before the
General Election of December a demonstration was held in the Ulster Hall
in Belfast, in the hope of opening the eyes of the English and Scottish
electors to the danger of Home Rule. Mr. Walter Long was the principal
speaker, and Sir Edward Carson, in supporting the resolution, ended his
speech by quoting Lord Randolph Churchill's famous jingling phrase,
"Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right."

On the 31st of January, 1911, when the elections were over, he went over
from London to preside at an important meeting of the Ulster Unionist
Council. The Annual Report of the Standing Committee, in welcoming his
succession to Mr. Long in the leadership, spoke of his requiring no
introduction to Ulstermen; and it is true that he had occasionally
spoken at meetings in Belfast, and that his recent speech in the Ulster
Hall had made an excellent impression. But he was not yet a really
familiar figure even in Belfast, while outside the city he was
practically unknown, except of course by repute. That a man of his
sagacity would quickly make his weight felt was never in doubt; but few
at that time can have anticipated the extent to which a stranger--with
an accent proclaiming an origin south of the Boyne--was in a short time
to captivate the hearts, and become literally the idolised leader, of
the Ulster democracy.

For the latter are a people who certainly do not wear their hearts on
their sleeves for daws to peck at. In the eyes of the more volatile
southern Celts they seem a "dour" people. They are naturally reserved,
laconic of speech, without "gush," far from lavish in compliment, slow
to commit themselves or to give their confidence without good and proved

Opportunity for the populace to get into closer touch with the leader
did not, however, come till the autumn. He was unable to attend the
Orange celebration on the 12th of July, when the anniversary, which
preceded by less than a month the "removal of the last obstacle to Home
Rule" by the passing of the Parliament Act, was kept with more than the
usual fervour, and the speeches proved that the gravity of the situation
was fully appreciated. The Marquis of Londonderry, addressing an immense
concourse of Belfast Lodges, stated that it was the first time an
Ex-Viceroy had been present at an Orange gathering, but that he had
deliberately created the precedent owing to his sense of the danger
threatening the Loyalist cause.

It was the first of innumerable similar actions by which Lord
Londonderry identified himself whole-heartedly with the popular
movement, throwing aside all the conventional restraints of rank and
wealth, and thereby endearing himself to every man and woman in
Protestant Ulster. There was no more familiar figure in the streets of
Belfast. Barefooted street urchins, catching sight of him on the steps
of the Ulster Club, would gather round and, with free-and-easy
familiarity, shout "Three cheers for Londonderry." He knew everybody and
was everybody's friend. There was no aristocratic hauteur or aloofness
about his genial personality. He was in the habit of entertaining the
whole Unionist Council, some five hundred strong, at luncheon or dinner
as the occasion required, when important meetings of the delegates took
place. Distinguished political visitors from England could always be
invited over without thought for their entertainment, since a welcome at
Mount Stewart was never wanting. His financial support of the political
movement was equally open-handed.

But, helpful as were his hospitality and his subscriptions, it was the
countenance and support of a man who had held high Cabinet office, and
especially the great position of Viceroy of Ireland, that made Lord
Londonderry's full participation an asset of incalculable value to the
cause he espoused. Moreover, while he was always ready to cross the
Channel, even if for a few hours only, when wanted for any conference or
public meeting, never pleading his innumerable social and political
engagements in London or the North of England as an excuse for absence,
his natural modesty of character made it easy for him to act under the
leadership of another. Indeed, he underrated his own abilities; but
there are probably not many men of his prominence and antecedents who,
if similarly placed, would have been able to give, without a trace of
_amour-propre,_ to a leader who had in former years been his own
official subordinate, the consistently loyal backing that Lord
Londonderry gave to Sir Edward Carson.

But, although there never was the slightest friction between the two
men, a difference of opinion between them on an important point showed
itself within a few months of Carson's acceptance of the leadership. In
July 1911 the excitement over the Parliament Bill reached its climax.
When the Government announced that the King had given his assent to the
creation of whatever number of peerages might be required for carrying
the measure through the Upper House, the party known as "Die Hards" were
for rejecting it and taking the consequences; while against this policy
were ranged Lord Lansdowne, Lord Curzon, and other Unionist leaders, who
advocated the acceptance of the Bill under protest. On the 20th of July
Carson told Lansdowne that in his judgment "the disgrace and ignominy of
surrender on the question far outweighed any temporary advantage" to be
gained by the two years' delay of Home Rule which the Parliament Bill
would secure.[12] Lord Londonderry, on the other hand, supported the
view taken by Lord Lansdowne, and he voted with the majority who carried
the Bill on the 10th of August. This step temporarily clouded his
popularity in Ulster, but not many weeks passed before he completely
regained the confidence and affection of the people, and the difference
of opinion never in the smallest degree interrupted the harmony of his
relations with Sir Edward Carson.

The true position of affairs in relation to Home Rule had not yet been
grasped by the British public. As explained in a former chapter, it had
not been in any real sense an issue in the two General Elections of the
previous year, and throughout the spring and summer of 1911 popular
interest in England and Scotland was still wholly occupied with the
fight between "Peers and People" and the impending blow to the power of
the Second Chamber; and the coronation festivities also helped to divert
attention from the political consequences to which the authors of the
Parliament Bill intended it to lead.

The first real awakening was brought about by an immense demonstration
held at Craigavon, on the outskirts of Belfast, on the 23rd of
September. The main purpose of this historic gathering was to bring the
populace of Ulster face to face with their new leader, and to give him
an opportunity of making a definite pronouncement of a policy for
Ulster, in view of the entirely novel situation resulting from the
passing of the Parliament Act.

For that Act made it possible for the first time for the Liberal Home
Rule Party to repeal the Act of Union without an appeal to the country.
It enacted that any Bill which in three successive sessions was passed
without substantial alteration through the House of Commons might be
presented for the Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords; and an
amendment to exclude a Home Rule Bill from its operation had been
successfully resisted by the Government. It also reduced the maximum
legal duration of a Parliament from seven to five years; but the
existing Parliament was still in its first session, and there was
therefore ample time, under the provisions of the new Constitution, to
pass a Home Rule Bill before the next General Election, as the coalition
of parties in favour of Home Rule constituted a substantial majority in
the House of Commons.

The question, therefore, which the Ulster people had now to decide was
no longer simply how they could bring about the rejection of a Home Rule
Bill by propaganda in the British constituencies, as they had hitherto
done with unfailing success, although that object was still kept in
view, but what course they should adopt if a Home Rule Act should be
placed on the Statute-book without those constituencies being consulted.
Was the day at last approaching when Lord Randolph Churchill's
exhortation must be obeyed? Or were they to be compelled, because the
Cabinet had coerced the Sovereign and tricked the people by straining
the royal prerogative in a manner described by Mr. Balfour as "a gross
violation of constitutional liberty," to submit with resignation to the
government of their country by the "rebel party "--the party controlled
by clerical influence, and boasting of the identity of its aims with
those of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet? This was the real problem in the
minds of those who flocked to Craigavon on Saturday, the 23rd of
September, 1911, to hear what proposals Sir Edward Carson had to lay
before his followers.

Craigavon was the residence of Captain James Craig, Member of Parliament
for East Down. It is a spacious country house standing on a hill above
the road leading from Belfast to Holywood, with a fine view of Belfast
Lough and the distant Antrim coast beyond the estuary. The lawn in front
of the house, sloping steeply to the shore road, forms a sort of natural
amphitheatre offering ideal conditions for out-of-door oratory to an
unlimited audience. At the meeting on the 23rd of September the platform
was erected near the crest of the hill, enabling the vast audience to
spread out fan-wise over the lower levels, where even the most distant
had the speakers clearly in view, even if many of them, owing to the
size of the gathering, were unable to hear the spoken word.

It was on this occasion that Captain Craig, by the care with which every
minute detail of the arrangements was thought out and provided for,
first gave evidence of his remarkable gift for organisation that was to
prove so invaluable to the Ulster cause in the next few years. The
greater part of the audience arrived in procession, which, starting
from the centre of the city of Belfast, took over two hours to pass a
given point, at the quick march in fours. All the Belfast Orange Lodges,
and representative detachments from the County Grand Lodges, together
with Lord Templetown's Unionist Clubs, and other organisations,
including the Women's Association, took part in the procession. But
immense numbers of people attended the meeting independently; it was
calculated that not less than a hundred thousand were present during the
delivery of Sir Edward Carson's speech, and although there must have
been very many of them who could hear nothing, the complete silence
maintained by all was a remarkable proof--or so it appeared to men
experienced in out-door political demonstrations--of the earnestness of
spirit that prevailed. To some it may appear still more remarkable that,
with such a concourse of people within a couple of miles of Belfast, not
a single policeman was present, and that none was required; no
disturbance of any sort occurred during the day, nor was a single case
of drunkenness observed.

It had been intended that the Duke of Abercorn, whose inspiring
exhortation as chairman of the Ulster Convention in 1892 had never been
forgotten, should preside over the meeting; but, as he was prevented by
a family bereavement from being present, his place was taken by the Earl
of Erne, Grand Master of the Orange Order. The scene, when he rose to
open the proceedings, was indescribable in its impressiveness. Some
members of the Eighty Club happened to be in Ireland at the time, for
the purpose of "seeing for themselves" in the familiar fashion of such
political tourists; but they did not think it worth while to witness
what Ulster was doing at Craigavon. If they had, they could have made a
report to their political leaders which, had it been truthful, might
have averted some irreparable blunders; for they could hardly have
looked upon that sea of eager faces, or have observed the enthusiasm
that possessed such a host of earnest and resolute men, without revising
the opinion, which they had accepted from Mr. Redmond, that there was
"no Ulster question."

The meeting took the form of according a welcome to Sir Edward Carson
as the new leader of Irish Loyalism, and of Ulster in particular. But
before he rose to speak a significant note had already been sounded.
Lord Erne struck it when he quoted words which were to become very
familiar in Ulster--the letter from Gustavus Hamilton, Governor of
Enniskillen in 1689, to "divers of the nobility and gentry in the
north-east part of Ulster," in which he declared: "We stand upon our
guard, and do resolve by the blessing of God to meet our danger rather
than to await it." And the veteran Liberal, Mr. Thomas Andrews, in
moving the resolution of welcome to the leader, expressed the universal
sentiment of the multitude when he exclaimed, "We will never, never bow
the knee to the disloyal factions led by Mr. John Redmond. We will never
submit to be governed by rebels who acknowledge no law but the laws of
the Land League and illegal societies."

A great number of Addresses from representative organisations were then
presented to Sir Edward Carson, in many of which the determination to
resist the jurisdiction of a Dublin Parliament was plainly declared. But
such declarations, although they undoubtedly expressed the mind of the
people, were after all in quite general terms. For a quarter of a
century innumerable variations on the theme "Ulster will fight, and
Ulster will be right," had been fiddled on Ulster platforms, so that
there was some excuse for the belief of those who were wholly ignorant
of North Irish character that these utterances were no more than the
commonplaces of Ulster rhetoric. The time had only now come, however,
when their reality could be put to the test. Carson's speech at
Craigavon crystallised them into practical politics.

Sir Edward Carson's public speaking has always been entirely free from
rhetorical artifice. He seldom made use of metaphor or imagery, or
elaborate periods, or variety of gesture. His language was extremely
simple and straightforward; but his mobile expression--so variable that
his enemies saw in it a suggestion of Mephistopheles, and his friends a
resemblance to Dante--his measured diction, and his skilful use of a
deep-toned voice, gave a remarkable impressiveness to all he said--even,
indeed, to utterances which, if spoken by another, would sometimes have
sounded commonplace or obvious. Sarcasm he could use with effect, and a
telling point was often made by an epigrammatic phrase which delighted
his hearers. And, more than all else, his meaning was never in doubt. In
lucidity of statement he excelled many much greater orators, and was
surpassed by none; and these qualities, added to his unmistakable
sincerity and candour, made him one of the most persuasive of speakers
on the platform, as he was also, of course, in the Law Courts.

The moment he began to speak at Craigavon the immense multitude who had
come to welcome him felt instinctively the grip of his power. The
contrast to all the previous scene--the cheering, the enthusiasm, the
marching, the singing, the waving of handkerchiefs and flags--was deeply
impressive, when, after a hushed pause of some length, he called
attention without preface to the realities of the situation in a few
simple sentences of slow and almost solemn utterance:

     "I know full well what the Resolution you have just passed means; I
     know what all these Addresses mean; I know the responsibility you
     are putting upon me to-day. In your presence I cheerfully accept
     it, grave as it is, and I now enter into a compact with you, and
     every one of you, and with the help of God you and I joined
     together--giving you the best I can, and you giving me all your
     strength behind me--we will yet defeat the most nefarious
     conspiracy that has ever been hatched against a free people. But I
     know full well that this Resolution has a still wider meaning. It
     shows me that you realise the gravity of the situation that is
     before us, and it shows me that you are here to express your
     determination to see this fight out to a finish."

He went on to expose the hollowness of the allegation, then current in
Liberal circles, that Ulster's repugnance to Home Rule was less
uncompromising than it formerly had been. On the contrary, he believed
that "there never was a moment at which men were more resolved than at
the present, with all the force and strength that God has given them,
to maintain the British connection and their rights as citizens of the
United Kingdom." Apart from principle or sentiment, that was an
attitude, he maintained, dictated by practical good sense. He showed how
Ireland had been "advancing in prosperity in an unparalleled measure,"
for which he could quote the authority of Mr. Redmond himself, although
the Nationalist leader had omitted to notice that this advance had taken
place under the legislative Union, and, as Carson contended, in
consequence of it. He laid special emphasis on the point, never
forgotten, that the danger in which they stood was due to the
hoodwinking of the British constituencies by Mr. Asquith's Ministry.

     "Make no mistake; we are going to fight with men who are prepared
     to play with loaded dice. They are prepared to destroy their own
     Constitution, so that they may pass Home Rule, and they are
     prepared to destroy the very elements of constitutional government
     by withdrawing the question from the electorate, who on two
     previous occasions refused to be a party to it."

He ridiculed the "paper safeguards" which Liberal Ministers tried to
persuade them would amply protect Ulster Protestants under a Dublin
Parliament, giving a vivid picture of the plight they would be in under
a Nationalist administration, which, he declared, meant "a tyranny to
which we never can and never will submit"; and then, in a pregnant
passage, he summarised the Ulster case:

     "Our demand is a very simple one. We ask for no privileges, but we
     are determined that no one shall have privileges over us. We ask
     for no special rights, but we claim the same rights from the same
     Government as every other part of the United Kingdom. We ask for
     nothing more; we will take nothing less. It is our inalienable
     right as citizens of the British Empire, and Heaven help the men
     who try to take it from us."

It was all no doubt a mere restatement--though an admirably lucid and
forcible restatement--of doctrine with which his hearers had long been
familiar. The great question still awaited an answer--how was effect to
be given to this resolve, now that there was no longer hope of
salvation through the sympathy and support of public opinion in Great
Britain? This was what the eager listeners at Craigavon hoped in hushed
expectancy to hear from their new leader. He did not disappoint them:

     "Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, says that we are not to be
     allowed to put our case before the British electorate. Very well.
     By that determination he drives you in the ultimate result to rely
     upon your own strength, and we must follow all that out to its
     logical conclusion.... That involves something more than that we do
     not accept Home Rule. We must be prepared, in the event of a Home
     Rule Bill passing, with such measures as will carry on for
     ourselves the government of those districts of which we have
     control. We must be prepared--and time is precious in these
     things--the morning Home Rule passes, ourselves to become
     responsible for the government of the Protestant Province of
     Ulster. We ask your leave at the meeting of the Ulster Unionist
     Council, to be held on Monday, there to discuss the matter, and to
     set to work, to take care that at no time and at no intervening
     interval shall we lack a Government in Ulster, which shall be a
     Government either by the Imperial Parliament, or by ourselves."

Here, then, was the first authoritative declaration of a definite policy
to be pursued by Ulster in the circumstances then existing or foreseen,
and it was a policy that was followed with undeviating consistency under
Carson's leadership for the next nine years. To be left under the
government of the Imperial Parliament was the alternative to be
preferred, and was asserted to be an inalienable right; but, if all
their efforts to that end should be defeated, then "a government by
ourselves" was the only change that could be tolerated. Rather than
submit to the jurisdiction of a Nationalist legislature and
administration, they would themselves set up a Government "_in those
districts of which they had control_." It was because, when the first of
these alternatives had to be sorrowfully abandoned, the second was
offered in the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 that Ulster did not
actively oppose the passing of that statute.


[12] _Annual Register_, 1911, p. 175.



No time was lost in giving practical shape to the policy outlined at
Craigavon, and in taking steps to give effect to it. On the 25th of
September a meeting of four hundred delegates representing the Ulster
Unionist Council, the County Grand Orange Lodges, and the Unionist
Clubs, was held in Belfast, and, after lengthy discussion in private,
when the only differences of opinion were as to the most effective
methods of proceeding, two resolutions were unanimously adopted and
published. It is noteworthy that, at this early stage in the movement,
out of nearly four hundred popularly elected delegates, numbers of whom
were men holding responsible positions or engaged in commercial
business, not one raised an objection to the policy itself, although its
grave possibilities were thoroughly appreciated by all present. Both
Lord Londonderry, who presided, and Sir Edward Carson left no room for
doubt in that respect; the developments they might be called upon to
face were thoroughly searched and explained, and the fullest opportunity
to draw back was offered to any present who might shrink from going on.

The first Resolution registered a "call upon our leaders to take any
steps they may consider necessary to resist the establishment of Home
Rule in Ireland, solemnly pledging ourselves that under no conditions
shall we acknowledge any such Government"; and it gave an assurance that
those whom the delegates represented would give the leaders "their
unwavering support in any danger they may be called upon to face." The
second decided that "the time has now come when we consider it our
imperative duty to make arrangements for the provisional government of
Ulster," and for that purpose it went on to appoint a Commission of
five leading local men, namely, Captain James Craig, M.P., Colonel
Sharman Crawford, M.P., the Right Hon. Thomas Sinclair, Colonel R.H.
Wallace, C.B., and Mr. Edward Sclater, Secretary of the Unionist Clubs,
whose duties were _(a)_ "to keep Sir Edward Carson in constant and close
touch with the feeling of Unionist Ulster," and _(b)_ "to take immediate
steps, in consultation with Sir Edward Carson, to frame and submit a
Constitution for a Provisional Government of Ulster, having due regard
to the interests of the Loyalists in other parts of Ireland: the powers
and duration of such Provisional Government to come into operation on
the day of the passage of any Home Rule Bill, to remain in force until
Ulster shall again resume unimpaired her citizenship in the United

At the luncheon given by Lord Londonderry after this business
conference, Carson took occasion to refer to a particularly contemptible
slander to which currency had been given some days previously by Sir
John Benn, one of the Eighty Club strolling seekers after truth. It was
perhaps hardly worth while to notice a statement so silly as that the
Ulster leader had been ready a few weeks previously to betray Ulster in
order to save the House of Lords, but Carson did not yet realise the
degree to which he had already won the confidence of his followers;
moreover, the incident proved useful as an opportunity of emphasising
the uninterrupted mutual confidence between Lord Londonderry and
himself, in spite of their divergence of opinion over the Parliament
Bill. It also gave those present a glimpse of their leader's power of
shrivelling meanness with a few caustic drops of scorn.

The proceedings at Craigavon and at the Conference naturally created a
sensation on both sides of the Channel. They brought the question of
Ireland once more, for the first time since 1895, into the forefront of
British politics. The House of Commons might spend the autumn ploughing
its way through the intricacies of the National Insurance Bill, but
everyone knew that the last and bitterest battle against Home Rule was
now approaching. And, now that the Parliament Act was safely on the
Statute-book, Ministers had no further interest in concealment. During
the elections, from which alone they could procure authority for
legislation of so fundamental a character, Mr. Asquith, as we have seen,
regarded any inquiry as to his intentions as "confusing the issue." But
now that he had the constituencies in his pocket for five years and
nothing further was to be feared from that quarter, his cards were
placed on the table.

On the 3rd of October Mr. Winston Churchill told his followers at Dundee
that the Government would introduce a Home Rule Bill next session "and
press it forward with all their strength," and he added the
characteristic injunction that "they must not take Sir Edward Carson too
seriously." But that advice did not prevent Mr. Herbert Samuel, another
member of the Cabinet, from putting in an appearance in Belfast four
days later, where he threw himself into a ludicrously unequal combat
with Carson, exerting himself to calm the fears of business men as to
the effect of Home Rule on their prosperity; while, in the same week,
Carson himself, at a great Unionist demonstration in Dublin, described
the growth of Irish prosperity in the last twenty years as "almost a
fairy tale," which would be cut short by Home Rule. On the 19th of the
same month Mr. Birrell, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in a speech at
Ilfracombe, gave some scraps of meagre information in regard to the
provisions that would be included in the coming Home Rule Bill; and on
the 21st Mr. Redmond announced that the drafting of the Bill was almost
completed, and that the measure would be "satisfactory to Nationalists
both in principle and detail."[13]

So the autumn of 1911 wore through--Ministers doling out snippets of
information; members of Parliament and the Press urging them to give
more. The people of Ulster, on the other hand, were not worrying over
details. They did not require to be told that the principle would be
"satisfactory to Nationalists," for they knew that the Government had to
"toe the line"; nor were they in doubt that what was satisfactory to
Nationalists must be unsatisfactory to themselves. What they were
thinking about was not what the Bill would or would not contain, but the
preparations they were making to resist its operation.

A day or two after Craigavon the leader spoke at a great meeting in
Portrush, after receiving, at every important station he passed _en
route_ from Belfast, enthusiastic addresses expressing confidence in
himself and approval of the Craigavon declaration; and in this speech he
considerably amplified what he had said at Craigavon. After explaining
how the whole outlook had been changed by the Parliament Act, which cut
them off from appeal to the sympathies of Englishmen, he pointed out to
his hearers the only course now open to them, namely, that resolved upon
at Craigavon.

     "Some people," he continued, "say that I am preaching disorder. No,
     in the course I am advising I am preaching order, because I believe
     that, unless we are in a position ourselves to take over the
     government of those places we are able to control, the people of
     Ulster, if let loose without that organisation, and without that
     organised determination, might in a foolish moment find themselves
     in a condition of antagonism and grips with their foes which I
     believe even the present Government would lament. And therefore I
     say that the course we recommend--and it has been solemnly adopted
     by your four hundred representatives, after mature discussion in
     which every man understood what it was he was voting about--is the
     only course that I know of that is possible under the circumstances
     of this Province which is consistent with the maintenance of law
     and order and the prevention of bloodshed."

Superficially, these words may appear boldly paradoxical; but in fact
they were prophetic, for the closest observers of the events of the next
three years, familiar with Irish character and conditions, were in no
doubt whatever that it was the disciplined organisation of the Ulster
Unionists alone that prevented the outbreak of serious disorders in the
North. There was, on the contrary, a diminution even of ordinary crime,
accompanied by a marked improvement in the general demeanour, and
especially in the sobriety, of the people.

The speaker then touched upon a question which naturally arose out of
the Craigavon policy of resistance to Home Rule. He had been asked, he
said, whether Ulster proposed to fight against the forces of the Crown.
He had already contrasted their own methods with those of the
Nationalists, saying that Ulstermen would never descend to action "from
behind hedges or by maiming cattle, or by boycotting of individuals"; he
now added that they were "not going to fight the Army and the Navy ...
God forbid that any loyal Irishman should ever shoot or think of
shooting the British soldier or sailor. But, believe me, any Government
will ponder long before it dares to shoot a loyal Ulster Protestant,
devoted to his country and loyal to his King."

In newspaper reports of public meetings, sayings of pith and moment are
often attributed to "A Voice" from the audience. On this occasion, when
Sir Edward Carson referred to the Army and the Navy, "A Voice" cried
"They are on our side." It was the truth, as subsequent events were to
show. It would indeed have been strange had it been otherwise. Men
wearing His Majesty's uniform, who had been quartered at one time in
Belfast or Carrickfergus and at another in Cork or Limerick, could be
under no illusion as to where that uniform was held in respect and where
it was scorned. The certainty that the reality of their own loyalty was
understood by the men who served the King was a sustaining thought to
Ulstermen through these years of trial.

This Portrush speech cleared the air. It made known the _modus
operandi_, as Craigavon had made known the policy. Henceforward Ulster
Unionists had a definite idea of what was before them, and they had
already unbounded confidence both in the sagacity and in the courage of
the man who had become their leader.

The Craigavon meeting led, almost by accident as it were, to a
development the importance of which was hardly foreseen at the time.
Among the processionists who passed through Captain Craig's grounds
there was a contingent of Orangemen from County Tyrone who attracted
general attention by their smart appearance and the orderly precision of
their marching. On inquiry it was learnt that these men had of their own
accord been learning military drill. The spirit of emulation naturally
suggested to others to follow the example of the Tyrone Lodges. It was
soon followed, not by Orangemen alone, but by members of the Unionist
Clubs, very many of whom belonged to no Orange Lodge. Within a few
months drilling--of an elementary kind, it is true--had become popular
in many parts of the country. Colonel R.H. Wallace, C.B., who had served
with distinction in the South African War, where he commanded the 5th
Royal Irish Rifles, was a prominent member of the Orange Institution, in
which he was in 1911 Grand Master of the Belfast Lodges, and Grand
Secretary of the Provincial Grand Orange Lodge of Ulster; and, being a
man of marked ability and widespread popularity, his influence was
powerful and extensive. He was a devoted adherent of Carson, and there
was no keener spirit among the Ulster Loyalist leaders. Colonel Wallace
was among the first to perceive the importance of this military drilling
that was taking place throughout Ulster, and through his leading
position in the Orange Institution his encouragement did much to extend
the practice.

Having been a lawyer by profession before South Africa called him to
serve his country in arms, Wallace was careful to ascertain how the law
stood with regard to the drilling that was going on. He consulted Mr.
James Campbell (afterwards Lord Chancellor of Ireland), who advised that
any two Justices of the Peace had power to authorise drill and other
military exercises within the area of their jurisdiction on certain
conditions. The terms of the application made by Colonel Wallace himself
to two Belfast magistrates show what the conditions were, and, under the
circumstances of the time, are not without a flavour of humour. The
request stated that Wallace and another officer of the Belfast Grand
Lodge were--

"Authorised on behalf of the members thereof to apply for lawful
authority to them to hold meetings of the members of the said Lodge and
the Lodges under its jurisdiction for the purpose of training and
drilling themselves and of being trained and drilled to the use of arms,
and for the purpose of practising military exercises, movements, and
evolutions. And we are authorised, on their behalf, to give their
assurance that they desire this authority as faithful subjects of His
Majesty the King, and their undertaking that such authority is sought
and will be used by them only to make them more efficient citizens for
the purpose of maintaining the constitution of the United Kingdom as now
established and protecting their rights and liberties thereunder."

The _bona fides_ of an application couched in these terms, which
followed well-established precedent, could not be questioned by any
loyal subject of His Majesty. The purpose for which the licence was
requested was stated with literal exactness and without subterfuge.
There was nothing seditious or revolutionary in it, and the desire of
men to make themselves more efficient citizens for maintaining the
established government of their country, and their rights and liberties
under it, was surely not merely innocent of offence, but praiseworthy.

Such, at all events, was the view taken by numbers of strictly
conscientious holders of the Commission of the Peace throughout Ulster,
with the result that the Ulster Volunteer Force sprang into existence
within a few months without the smallest violation of the law.
Originating in the Orange Lodges and the Unionist Clubs, it soon
enrolled large numbers of men outside both those organisations. Men with
military experience interested themselves in training the volunteers in
their districts; the local bodies were before long drawn into a single
coherent organisation on a territorial basis, which soon gave rise to an
_esprit de corps_ leading to friendly rivalry in efficiency between the
local battalions.

This Ulster Volunteer Force had as yet no arms in their hands, but, as
the first act of the Liberal Government on coming into power in 1906 had
been to drop the "coercion" Act which prohibited the importation of
firearms into Ireland, there was no reason why, in the course of time,
the U.V.F. should not be fully armed with as complete an avoidance of
illegality as that with which in the meantime they were acquiring some
knowledge of military duties. But for the present they had to be content
with wooden "dummy" rifles with which to learn their drill, an expedient
which, as will be seen later on, excited the derisive mirth of the
English Radical Press.

The application to the Belfast Justices for leave to drill the Orange
Lodges was dated the 5th of January, 1912. For some months both before
and after that date the formation of new battalions proceeded rapidly,
so that by the summer of 1912 the force was of considerable strength and
decent efficiency; but already in the autumn of 1911 it soon became
apparent that the existence of such a force would give a backing to the
Craigavon policy which nothing else could provide. At Craigavon the
leader of the movement had foreshadowed the possibility of having to
take charge of the government of those districts which the Loyalists
could control. The U.V.F. made such control a practical proposition, and
the consciousness of this throughout Ulster gave a solid reality to the
movement which it must otherwise have lacked.

The special Commission of Five set to work immediately after the
Craigavon meeting to carry out the task entrusted to them by the
Council. But, as more than two years must elapse before the Home Rule
Bill could become law under the Parliament Act, there was no immediate
urgency in making arrangements for setting up the Provisional Government
resolved upon by the Council on the 25th of September, 1911, and the
outside public heard nothing about what was being done in the matter for
many months to come.

Meantime the Ulster Loyalists watched with something akin to dismay the
dissensions in the Unionist party in England over the question of Tariff
Reform, which made impossible a united front against the revived attack
on the Union, and woefully weakened the effective force of the
Opposition both in Parliament and the country. Public opinion was
diverted from the one thing that really mattered--had Englishmen been
able to realise it--from an Imperial standpoint, no less than from the
standpoint of Irish Loyalists. On the 8th of November, 1911, mainly in
consequence of these dissensions, Mr. Balfour resigned the leadership of
the Unionist Party. This event was regarded in Ulster as a calamity. Mr.
Balfour was the ablest and most zealous living defender of the Union,
and the great services he had rendered to the country during his
memorable Chief Secretaryship were not forgotten. Ulstermen, in whose
eyes the tariff question was of very subordinate importance, feared that
no one could be found to take command of the Unionist forces comparable
with the Achilles who, as they supposed, was now retiring to his tent.

What happened in regard to the vacant leadership is well known--how Mr.
Walter Long and Mr. Austen Chamberlain, after presenting themselves for
a day or two as rival candidates, patriotically agreed to stand aside
and give united support to Mr. Bonar Law in order to avoid a division in
the ranks of the party. It is less generally known that Mr. Bonar Law,
before consenting to his name being proposed, wrote and asked Sir Edward
Carson if he would accept the leadership, and that it was only when he
received an emphatic reply in the negative that he assumed the
responsibility himself. If this had been known at the time in Ulster
there can be little doubt that consternation would have been caused by
the refusal of their own leader to place himself at the head of the
whole Unionist Party. It is quite certain that Sir Edward Carson would
have been acceptable to the party meeting at the Carlton Club, for he
was then much better known to the party both in the House of Commons and
in the country than was Mr. Bonar Law, whose great qualities as
parliamentarian and statesman had not yet been revealed; but it is not
less certain that, if his first thought was to be of service to Ulster,
Carson acted wisely in maintaining a position of independence, in which
all his powers could continue to be concentrated on a single aim of

At all events, the new leader of the Unionist Party was not long in
proving that the Ulster cause had suffered no set-back by the change,
and his constant and courageous backing of the Ulster leader won him
the unstinted admiration and affection of every Irish Loyalist. Mr.
Balfour also soon showed that he was no sulking Achilles; his loyalty to
the Unionist cause was undimmed; he never for a moment acted, as a
meaner man might, as if his successor were a supplanter; and within the
next few months he many times rose from beside Mr. Bonar Law in the
House of Commons to deliver some of the best speeches he ever made on
the question of Irish Government, full of cogent and crushing criticism
of the Home Rule proposals of Mr. Asquith.


[13] _Annual Register_, 1911, p. 228.



At the women's meeting at the Ulster Hall on the 18th of January,
1912,[14] Lord Londonderry took occasion to recall once more to the
memory of his audience the celebrated speech delivered by Lord Randolph
Churchill in the same building twenty-six years before. That clarion
was, indeed, in no danger of being forgotten; but there happened at that
particular moment to be a very special reason for Ulstermen to remember
it, and the incident which was present in Londonderry's mind--a
Resolution passed by the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist
Council two days earlier--proved to be so distinct a turning-point in
the history of Ulster's stand for the Union that it claims more than a
passing mention.

"Diligence and vigilance should be your watchword, so that the blow, if
it is coming, may not come upon you as a thief in the night, and may not
find you unready and taken by surprise." Such had been Lord Randolph's
warning. It was now learnt, with feelings in which disgust and
indignation were equally mingled, that Lord Randolph's son was bent on
coming to Belfast, not indeed as a thief in the night, but with
challenging audacity, to give his countenance, encouragement, and
support to the adherents of disloyalty whom Lord Randolph had told
Ulster to resist to the death. And not only was he coming to Belfast; he
was coming to the Ulster Hall--to the very building which his father's
oration had, as it were, consecrated to the Unionist cause, and which
had come to be regarded as almost a loyalist shrine.

It is no doubt difficult for those who are unfamiliar with the
psychology of the North of Ireland to understand the anger which this
projected visit of Mr. Winston Churchill aroused in Belfast. His change
of political allegiance from the party which his father had so
brilliantly served and led, to the party which his father had so
pitilessly chastised, was of course displeasing to Conservatives
everywhere. Politicians who leave their friends to join their opponents
are never popular with those they abandon, and Mr. Winston Churchill was
certainly no exception. But such desertions, after the first burst of
wrath has evaporated, are generally accepted with a philosophic shrug in
what journalists call "political circles" in London, where plenty of
precedents for lapses from party virtue can be quoted. In the provinces,
even in England, resentment dies down less easily, and forgiveness is of
slow growth; but in Ulster, where a political creed is held with a
religious fervour, or, as a hostile critic might put it, with an
intolerance unknown in England, and where the dividing line between
"loyalty" and "disloyalty" is regarded almost as a matter of faith, the
man who passes from the one to the other arouses the same bitterness of
anger and contempt which soldiers feel for a deserter in face of the

To such sentiments there was added, in the case of Mr. Winston
Churchill, a shocked feeling that his appearance in the Ulster Hall as
an emissary of Home Rule would be an act not only of political apostasy
but of filial impiety. The prevailing sentiment in Belfast at the time
was expressed somewhat brutally, perhaps, in the local Press--"he is
coming to dance on his father's coffin." It was an outrage on their
feelings which the people of Belfast could not and would not tolerate.
If Mr. Churchill was determined to flaunt the green flag let him find a
more suitable site than the very citadel in which they had been exhorted
by his father to keep the Union Jack flying to the last.

If anything could have added to the anger excited by this announcement
it would have been the fact that the Cabinet Minister was to be
accompanied on the platform of the Ulster Hall by Mr. Redmond and Mr.
Devlin, and that Lord Pirrie was to be his chairman. There was no more
unpopular citizen of Belfast than Lord Pirrie; and the reason was neatly
explained to English readers by the Special Correspondent of _The
Times_. "Lord Pirrie," he wrote, "deserted Unionism about the time the
Liberals acceded to power, and soon afterwards was made a Peer; whether
_propter hoc_ or only _post hoc_ I am quite unable to say, though no
Ulster Unionist has any doubts on the subject."[15] But that was not
quite the whole reason. That Lord Pirrie was an example of apostasy
"just for a riband to stick in his coat," was the general belief; but it
was also resented that a man who had amassed, not "a handful of silver,"
but an enormous fortune, through a trade created by an eminent Unionist
firm, and under conditions brought about in Belfast by the Union with
Great Britain, should have kicked away the ladder by which he had
climbed from obscurity to wealth and rank. An additional cause of
offence, moreover, was that he was at that time trying to persuade
credulous people in England that there was in Ulster a party of Liberals
and Protestant Home Rulers, of which he posed as leader, although
everyone on the spot knew that the "party" would not fill a tramcar. Of
this party the same Correspondent of _The Times_ very truly said:

     "Nearly every prominent man in it has received an office or a
     decoration--and the fact that, with all the power of patronage in
     their hands for the last six years, the Government had been able to
     make so small an inroad into the solid square of Ulster Unionism is
     a remarkable testimony to the strength of the sentiment which gives
     it cohesion."

But a score of individuals in possession of an office equipped with
stamped stationery, and with a titled chairman of fabulous wealth, have
no difficulty in deluding strangers at a distance into the belief that
they are an influential and representative body of men. It was in
furtherance of the scheme for creating this false impression across the
Channel that Lord Pirrie and his so-called "Ulster Liberal Association"
invited Mr. Winston Churchill and the two Nationalist leaders to speak
in the Ulster Hall on the 8th of February, 1912, and that the
announcement of the fixture was made in the Press some three weeks

The Unionist leaders were not long left in ignorance of the public
excitement which this news created in the city. A specially summoned
meeting of the Standing Committee, with Londonderry in the chair, was
held on the 16th of January to consider what action, if any, should be
taken; but it was no simple matter they had to decide, especially in the
absence of their leader, Sir Edward Carson, who was kept in England by
great Unionist meetings which he was addressing in Lancashire.

The reasons, on the one hand, for doing nothing were obvious enough. No
one, of course, suggested the possibility of preventing Mr. Churchill
coming to Belfast; but could even the Ulster Hall itself, the Loyalist
sanctuary, be preserved from the threatened desecration? It was the
property of the Corporation, and the Unionist political organisation had
no exclusive title to its use. The meeting could only be frustrated by
force in some form, or by a combination of force and stratagem. The
Standing Committee, all men of solid sense and judgment, several of whom
were Privy Councillors, were very fully alive to the objections to any
resort to force in such a matter. They valued freedom of speech as
highly as any Englishman, and they realised the odium that interference
with it might bring both on themselves and their cause; and the last
thing they desired at the present crisis was to alienate public sympathy
in Great Britain. The force of such considerations was felt strongly by
several members, indeed by all, of the Committee, and not least by Lord
Londonderry himself, whose counsel naturally carried great weight.

But, on the other hand, the danger of a passive attitude was also fully
recognised. It was perfectly well understood that one of the chief
desires of the Liberal Government and its followers at this time was to
make the world believe that Ulster's opposition to Home Rule had
declined in strength in recent years; that there really was a
considerable body of Protestant opinion in agreement with Lord Pirrie,
and prepared to support Home Rule on "Liberal," if not on avowedly
"Nationalist" principles, and that the policy for which Carson,
Londonderry, and the Unionist Council stood was a gigantic piece of
bluff which only required to be exposed to disappear in general

From this point of view the Churchill meeting could only be regarded as
a deliberate challenge and provocation to Ulster. It seemed probable
that the First Lord of the Admiralty had been selected for the mission
in preference to any other Minister precisely because he was Lord
Randolph's son. All this bluster about "fight and be right" was
traceable, so Liberal Ministers doubtless reasoned, to that unhappy
speech of "Winston's father"; let Winston go over to the same place and
explain his father away. If he obtained a hearing in the Ulster Hall in
the company of Redmond, Devlin, and Pirrie the legend of Ulster as an
impregnable loyalist stronghold would be wiped out, and Randolph's rant
could be made to appear a foolish joke in comparison with the more
mature and discriminating wisdom of Winston.

It cannot, of course, be definitely asserted that the situation was thus
weighed deliberately by the Cabinet, or by Mr. Churchill himself. But,
if it was not, they must have been deficient in foresight; for there can
be no doubt, as several writers in the Press perceived, that the
transaction would so have presented itself to the mind of the public;
the psychological result would inure to the benefit of the Home Rulers.

But there was also another consideration which could not be ignored by
the Standing Committee--namely, the attitude of that important
individual, the "man in the street." Among the innumerable
misrepresentations levelled at the Ulster Movement none was more common
than that it was confined to a handful of lords, landlords, and wealthy
employers of labour; and, as a corollary, that all the trouble was
caused by the perversity of a few individuals, of whom the most guilty
was Sir Edward Carson. The truth was very different. Even at the zenith
of his influence and popularity Sir Edward himself would have been
instantly disowned by the Ulster democracy if he had given away anything
fundamental to the Unionist cause. More than to anything else he owed
his power to his pledge, never violated, that he would never commit his
followers to any irretraceable step without the consent of the Council,
in which they were fully represented on a democratic basis. At the
particular crisis now reached popular feeling could not be safely
disregarded, and it was clearly understood by the Standing Committee
that public excitement over the coming visit of Mr. Churchill was only
being kept within bounds by the belief of the public that their leaders
would not "let them down."

All these considerations were most carefully balanced at the meeting on
the 16th of January, and there were prolonged deliberations before the
decision was arrived at that some action must be taken to prevent the
Churchill meeting being held in the Ulster Hall, but that no obstacle
could, of course, be made to his speaking in any other building in
Belfast. The further question as to what this action should be was under
discussion when Colonel R.H. Wallace, C.B., Grand Master of the Belfast
Orangemen, and a man of great influence with all classes in the city as
well as in the neighbouring counties, entered the room and told the
Committee that people outside were expecting the Unionist Council to
devise means for stopping the Ulster Hall meeting; that they were quite
resolved to take matters into their own hands if the Council remained
passive; and that, in his judgment, the result in that event would
probably be very serious disorder and bloodshed, and the loss of all
control over the Unionist rank and file by their leaders.

This information arrived too late to influence the decision on the main
question, but it confirmed its wisdom and set at rest the doubts which
some of the Committee had at first entertained. It was reported at the
time that there had been a dissenting minority consisting of Lord
Londonderry, Mr. Sinclair, and Mr. John Young, the last-mentioned being
a Privy Councillor, a trusted leader of the Presbyterians, and a man of
moderate views whose great influence throughout the north-eastern
counties was due to his high character and the soundness of his
judgment. There was, however, no truth in this report, which
Londonderry publicly contradicted; but it is probable that the
concurrence of the men mentioned, and perhaps of others, was owing to
their well-founded conviction that the course decided upon, however
high-handed it might appear to onlookers at a distance, was in reality
the only means of averting much more deplorable consequences.

On the following day, January 17th, an immense sensation was created by
the publication of the Resolution which had been unanimously adopted on
the motion of Captain James Craig, M.P. It was:

     "That the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council
     observes with astonishment the deliberate challenge thrown down by
     Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr. John Redmond, Mr. Joseph Devlin, and
     Lord Pirrie in announcing their intention to hold a Home Rule
     meeting in the centre of the loyal city of Belfast, and resolves to
     take steps to prevent its being held."

There was an immediate outpouring of vituperation by the Ministerial
Press in England, as had been anticipated by the Standing Committee.
Special Correspondents trooped over to Belfast, whence they filled their
papers with telegrams, articles, and interviews, ringing the changes on
the audacity of this unwarranted interference with freedom of speech,
and speculating as to the manner in which the threat, was likely to be
carried out. Scribes of "Open Letters" had a fine opportunity to display
their gift of insolent invective. Cartoonists and caricaturists had a
time of rare enjoyment, and let their pencils run riot. Writers in the
Liberal Press for the most part assumed that Mr. Churchill would bid
defiance to the Ulster Unionist Council; others urged him to do so and
to fulfil his engagement; some, with more prudence, suggested that he
might be extricated from the difficulty without loss of dignity if the
Chief Secretary would prohibit the meeting, as likely to produce a
breach of peace, and it was pointed out that Dublin Castle would
certainly forbid a meeting in Tipperary organised by the Ulster Unionist
Council, with Sir Edward Carson as principal speaker.

However, on the 25th of January Mr. Churchill addressed a letter, dated
from the Admiralty, to Lord Londonderry at Mount Stewart, in which he
said he was prepared to give up the idea of speaking in the Ulster Hall,
and would arrange for his meeting to be held elsewhere in the city, as
"it was not a point of any importance to him where he spoke in Belfast."
He did not explain why, if that were the case, he had ever made a plan
that so obviously constituted a direct premeditated challenge to Ulster.
Lord Londonderry, in his reply, said that the Ulster Unionist Council
had no intention of interfering with any meeting Mr. Churchill might
arrange "outside the districts which passionately resent your action,"
but that, "having regard to the intense state of feeling" which had been
aroused, the Council could accept no responsibility for anything that
might occur during the visit. Mr. Churchill's prudent change of plan
relieved the extreme tension of the situation, and there was much
speculation as to what influence had produced a result so satisfactory
to the Ulster Unionist Council. The truth seems to be that the Council's
Resolution had impaled the Government on the horns of a very awkward
dilemma, completely turning the tables on Ministers, whose design had
been to compel the Belfast Unionists either to adopt, on the one hand,
an attitude of apparent intolerance which would put them in the wrong in
the eyes of the British public, or, on the other, to submit to the
flagrant misrepresentation of their whole position which would be the
outcome of a Nationalist meeting in the Ulster Hall presided over by the
President of the illusory "Ulster Liberal Association," and with Lord
Randolph Churchill's son as the protagonist of Home Rule. The threat to
stop the meeting forced the Government to consider how the First Lord of
the Admiralty and his friends were to be protected and enabled to fulfil
their programme. The Irish Executive, according to the Dublin
Correspondent of _The Times_, objected to the employment of troops for
this purpose; because--

     "If the Belfast Unionists decided to resist the soldiers, bloodshed
     and disorder on a large scale must have ensued. If, on the other
     hand, they yielded to the _force majeure_ of British bayonets, and
     Mr. Churchill was enabled to speak in the Ulster Hall, they would
     still have carried their point; they would have proved to the
     English people that Home Rule could only be thrust upon Ulster by
     an overwhelming employment of military force. The Executive
     preferred to depend on the services of a large police force. And
     this meant that Mr. Churchill could not speak in the Ulster Hall;
     for the Belfast democracy, though it might yield to soldiers, would
     certainly offer a fierce resistance to the police. It seemed,
     therefore, that the Government's only safe and prudent course was
     to prevent Mr. Churchill from trying to speak in that Hall."[16]

The Government, in fact, had been completely out-manoeuvred. They had
given the Ulster Unionist Council an opportunity to show its own
constituents and the outside world that, where the occasion demanded
action, it could act with decision; and they had failed utterly to drive
a wedge between Ulster and the Unionist Party in England and in the
South of Ireland, as they hoped to do by goading Belfast into
illegality. On the other hand, they had aroused some misgiving in the
ranks of their own supporters. A political observer in London reported
that the incident had--

     "Caused a feeling of considerable apprehension in Radical circles.
     The pretence that Ulster does not mean to fight is now almost
     abandoned even by the most fanatical Home Rulers."[17]

Unionist journals in Great Britain, almost without exception, applauded
the conduct of the Council, and proved by their comments that they
understood its motive, and sympathised with the feelings of Ulster. _The
Saturday Review_ expressed the general view when it wrote:

     "With the indignation of the loyal Ulstermen at this proposal we
     are in complete sympathy. Where there is a question of Home Rule,
     the Ulster Hall is sacred ground, and to the Ulster mind and,
     indeed, to the mind of any calm outsider, there is something both
     impudent and impious in the proposal that this temple of Unionism
     should be profaned by the son of a man who assisted at its

The southern Unionists of Ireland thoroughly appreciated the difficulty
that had confronted their friends in the North, and approved the way it
had been met. This was natural enough, since, as the Dublin
Correspondent of _The Times_ pointed out--

     "They understand Ulster's position better than it can be understood
     in England. They realise that the provocation has been extreme.
     There has been a deliberate conspiracy to persuade the English
     people, first, that Ulster is weakening in its opposition to Home
     Rule; and, next, that its declared refusal to accept Home Rule in
     any form is mere bluff. It became necessary for Ulster to defeat
     this conspiracy, and the Ulster Council's Resolution has defeated

A few days later a still more valuable token of sympathy and support
from across the Channel gave fresh encouragement to Ulster. On the 26th
of January Mr. Bonar Law made his first public speech as leader of the
Unionist Party, when he addressed an audience of ten thousand people in
the Albert Hall in London. In the course of a masterly analysis of the
dangers inseparable from Home Rule, he once more drew attention to "the
dishonesty with which the Government hid Home Rule before the election,
and now propose to carry it after the election"; but the passage which
gave the greatest satisfaction in Ulster was that in which, speaking for
the whole Unionist Party--which meant at least half, and probably more
than half, the British nation--Mr. Bonar Law, in reference to the recent
occurrence in Belfast, said:

     "We hear a great deal about the intolerance of Ulster. It is easy
     to be tolerant for other people. We who represent the Unionist
     Party in England and Scotland have supported, and we mean to
     support to the end, the loyal minority. We support them not because
     we are intolerant, but because their claims are just."

Meanwhile, Mr. Churchill's friends were seeking a building in Belfast
where the baffled Minister could hold his meeting on the 8th of
February, and in the course of the search the director of the Belfast
Opera-house was offered a knighthood as well as a large sum of money for
the use of his theatre,[20] a fact that possibly explains the statement
made by the London Correspondent of _The Freeman's Journal_ on the 28th
of January, that the Government's Chief Whip and Patronage Secretary was
busying himself with the arrangement.[21] Captain Frederick Guest, M.P.,
one of the junior whips, arrived in Belfast on the 25th to give
assistance on the spot; but no suitable hall with an auspicious _genius
loci_ could apparently be found, for eventually a marquee was imported
from Scotland and erected on the Celtic football ground, in the
Nationalist quarter of the city.

The question of maintaining order on the day of the meeting was at the
same time engaging the attention both of the Government in Dublin and
the Unionist Council in Belfast. The former decided to strengthen the
garrison of Belfast by five battalions of infantry and two squadrons of
cavalry, while at the Old Town Hall anxious consultations were held as
to the best means of securing that the soldiers should have nothing to
do. The Unionist leaders had not yet gained the full influence they were
able to exercise later, nor were their followers as disciplined as they
afterwards became. The Orange Lodges were the only section of the
population in any sense under discipline; and this section was a much
smaller proportion of the Unionist rank and file than English Liberals
supposed, who were in the habit of speaking as if "Orangemen" were a
correct cognomen of the whole Protestant population of Ulster. It was,
however, only through the Lodges and the Unionist Clubs that the
Standing Committee could hope to exert influence in keeping the peace.
That Committee, accordingly, passed a Resolution on the 5th of February,
moved by Colonel Wallace, the most influential of the Belfast
Orangemen, which "strongly urged all Unionists," in view of the Ulster
Hall victory, "to abstain from any interference with the meeting at the
Celtic football ground, and to do everything in their power to avoid any
action that might lead to any disturbance."

The Resolution was circulated to all the Orange Lodges and Unionist
Clubs in Belfast and the neighbouring districts--for it was expected
that some 30,000 or 40,000 people might come into the city from outside
on the day of the meeting--with urgent injunctions to the officers to
bring it to the notice of all members; it was also extensively placarded
on all the hoardings of Belfast. Of even greater importance perhaps, in
the interests of peace, was the decision that Carson and Londonderry
should themselves remain in Belfast on the 8th. This, as _The Times_
Correspondent in Belfast had the insight to observe, was "the strongest
guarantee of order" that could be given, and there is no doubt that
their appearance, together with Captain Craig, M.P., and Lord
Templetown, on the balcony of the Ulster Club had a calming effect on
the excited crowd that surged round Mr. Churchill's hotel, and served as
a reminder throughout the day of the advice which these leaders had
issued to their adherents.

The First Lord of the Admiralty was accompanied to Belfast by Mrs.
Churchill, his Secretary, and two Liberal Members of Parliament, Mr.
Fiennes and Mr. Hamar Greenwood--for the last-mentioned of whom fate was
reserving a more intimate connection with Irish trouble than could be
got from a fleeting flirtation with disloyalty in West Belfast. They
were greeted at Larne by a large crowd vociferously cheering Carson, and
singing the National Anthem. A still larger concourse of people, though
it could not be more hostile, awaited Mr. Churchill at the Midland
Station in Belfast and along the route to the Grand Central Hotel. When
he started from the hotel early in the afternoon for the football field
the crowd in Royal Avenue was densely packed and actively demonstrating
its unfavourable opinion of the distinguished visitor; on whom, however,
none desired or attempted to inflict any physical injury, although the
involuntary swaying of so great a mass of men was in danger for a
moment of overturning the motor-car in which he and his wife were

The way to the meeting took the Minister from the Unionist to the
Nationalist district and afforded him a practical demonstration of the
gulf between the "two nations" which he and his colleagues were bent
upon treating as one. The moment he crossed the boundary, the booing and
groaning of one area was succeeded by enthusiastic cheers in the other;
grotesque effigies of Redmond and of himself in one street were replaced
by equally unflattering effigies of Londonderry and Carson in the next;
in Royal Avenue both men and women looked like tearing him in pieces, in
Falls Road they thronged so close to shake his hand that "Mr. Hamar
Greenwood found it necessary" (so the _Times_ Correspondent reported)
"to stand on the footboard outside the car and relieve the pressure."

It was expected that Mr. Churchill would return to his hotel after the
meeting, and there had been no shrinkage in the crowd in the interval,
nor any change in its sentiments. The police decided that it would be
wiser for him to depart by another route. He was therefore taken by back
streets to the Midland terminus, and without waiting for the ordinary
train by which he had arranged to travel, was as hastily as possible
despatched to Larne by a special train before it was generally known
that Royal Avenue and York Street were to see him no more. Mr. Churchill
tells us in his brilliant biography of his father that when Lord
Randolph arrived at Larne in 1886 "he was welcomed like a King." His own
arrival at the same port was anything but regal, and his departure more
resembled that of the "thief in the night," of whom Lord Randolph had
bidden Ulster beware.

So this memorable pilgrimage ended. Of the speech itself which Mr.
Churchill delivered to some thousands of Nationalists, many of whom were
brought by special train from Dublin, it is unnecessary here to say more
than that Sir Edward Carson described it a few days later as a "speech
full of eloquent platitudes," and that it certainly did little to
satisfy the demand for information about the Home Rule Bill which was to
be produced in the coming session of Parliament.

The undoubted importance which this visit of Mr. Churchill to Belfast
and its attendant circumstances had in the development of the Ulster
Movement is the justification for treating it in what may appear to be
disproportionate detail. From it dates the first clear realisation even
by hostile critics in England, and probably by Ministers themselves,
that the policy of Ulster as laid down at Craigavon could not be
dismissed with a sneer, although it is true that there were many Home
Rulers who never openly abandoned the pretence that it could. Not less
important was the effect in Ulster itself. The Unionist Council had
proved itself in earnest; it could, and was prepared to, do more than
organise imposing political demonstrations; and so the rank and file
gained confidence in leaders who could act as well as make speeches, and
who had shown themselves in an emergency to be in thorough accord with
popular sentiment; the belief grew that the men who met in the Old Town
Hall would know how to handle any crisis that might arise, would not
timidly shrink from acting as occasion might require, and were quite
able to hold their own with the Government in tactical manoeuvres. This
confidence improved discipline. The Lodges and the Clubs and the general
body of shipyard and other workers had less temptation to take matters
into their own hands; they were content to wait for instructions from
headquarters now that they could trust their leaders to give the
necessary instructions at the proper time.

The net result, therefore, of an expedition which was designed to expose
the hollowness and the weakness of the Ulster case was to augment the
prestige of the Ulster leaders and the self-confidence of the Ulster
people, and to make both leaders and followers understand better than
before the strength of the position in which they were entrenched.


[14] See _ante_, p. 38.

[15] _The Times_, January 18th, 1912.

[16] _The Times_, January 26th, 1912.

[17] _The Standard_, January 18th, 1912.

[18] _The Saturday Review_, January 27th, 1912.

[19] _The Times_, January 20th, 1912.

[20] See Interview with Mr. F.W. Warden in _The Standard_, February 8th,

[21] See Dublin Correspondent's telegram in _The Times_, January 29th,



Public curiosity as to the proposals that the coming Home Rule Bill
might contain was not set at rest by Mr. Churchill's oration in Belfast.
The constitution-mongers were hard at work with suggestions. Attempts
were made to conciliate hesitating opinion by representing Irish Home
Rule as a step in the direction of a general federal system for the
United Kingdom, and by tracing an analogy with the constitutions already
granted to the self-governing Dominions. Closely connected with the
federal idea was the question of finance. There was lively speculation
as to what measure of control over taxation the Bill would confer on the
Irish Parliament, and especially whether it would be given the power to
impose duties of Customs and Excise. Home Rulers themselves were sharply
divided on the question. At a conference held at the London School of
Economics on the 10th of January, 1912, Professor T.M. Kettle, Mr.
Erskine Childers, and Mr. Thomas Lough, M.P., declared themselves in
favour of Irish fiscal autonomy, while Lord Macdonnell opposed the idea
as irreconcilable with the fiscal policy of Great Britain.[22] The
latter opinion was very forcibly maintained a few weeks later by a
member of the Government with some reputation as an economist. Speaking
to a branch of the United Irish League in London, Mr. J.M. Robertson,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, summarily rejected fiscal
autonomy for Ireland, which, he said, "really meant a claim for
separation." "To give fiscal autonomy," he added, "would mean
disintegration of the United Kingdom. Fiscal autonomy for Ireland put
an end altogether to all talk of Federal Home Rule, and he could see no
hope for a Home Rule Bill if it included fiscal autonomy."[23]

Although the Secretary to the Board of Trade was probably not in the
confidence of the Cabinet, many people took Mr. Robertson's speech as an
indication of the limits of financial control that the Bill would give
to Ireland. On the same day that it was delivered the Dublin
Correspondent of _The Times_ reported that the demand of the
Nationalists for control of Customs and Excise was rapidly growing, and
that any Bill which withheld it, even if it could scrape through a
National Convention, "would never survive the two succeeding years of
agitation and criticism"; and he agreed with Mr. Robertson that if, on
the other hand, fiscal autonomy should be conceded, it would destroy all
prospect of a settlement on federal lines, and would "establish virtual
separation between Ireland and Great Britain." He predicted that
"Ulster, of course, would resist to the bitter end."[24]

Ulster, in point of fact, took but a secondary interest in the question.
Her people were indeed opposed to anything that would enlarge the
separation from England, or emphasise it, and, as they realised, like
the Secretary to the Board of Trade, that fiscal autonomy would have
this effect, they opposed fiscal autonomy; but they cared little about
the thing in itself one way or the other. Nor did they greatly concern
themselves whether Home Rule proceeded on federal lines or any other
lines; nor whether some apt analogy could or could not be found between
Ireland and the Dominions of the Crown thousands of miles oversea.
Having made up their minds that no Dublin Parliament should exercise
jurisdiction over themselves, they did not worry themselves much about
the powers with which such a Parliament might be endowed. It is
noteworthy, however, in view of the importance which the question
afterwards attained, that so early as January 1912 Sir Edward Carson,
speaking in Manchester, maintained that without fiscal autonomy Home
Rule was impossible,[25] and that some months later Mr. Bonar Law, in a
speech at Glasgow on the 21st of May, said that if the Unionist Party
were in a position where they had to concede Home Rule to Ireland they
would include fiscal autonomy in the grant.[26] These leaders, who,
unlike the Liberal Ministers, had some knowledge of the Irish
temperament, realised from the first the absurdity of Mr. Asquith's
attempt to satisfy the demands of "the rebel party" by offering
something very different from what that party demanded. The Ulster
leader and the leader of the Unionist Party knew as well as anybody that
fiscal autonomy meant "virtual separation between Ireland and Great
Britain," but they also knew that separation was the ultimate aim of
Nationalist policy, and that there could be no finality in the Liberal
compromise; and they no doubt agreed with the forcible language used by
Mr. Balfour in the previous autumn, when he said that "the rotten hybrid
system of a Parliament with municipal duties and a national feeling
seemed to be the dream of political idiots."

The ferment of speculation as to the Government's intentions continued
during the early weeks of the Parliamentary session, which opened on the
14th of February, but all inquiries by members of the House of Commons
were met by variations on the theme "Wait and See." Unionists, however,
realised that it was not in Parliament, but outside, that the only
effective work could be done, in the hope of forcing a dissolution of
Parliament before the Bill could become law. A vigorous campaign was
conducted throughout the country, especially in Lancashire, and
arrangements were made for a monster demonstration in Belfast, which
should serve both as a counter-blast to the Churchill fiasco, and for
enabling English and Scottish Unionists to test for themselves the
temper of the Ulster resistance. In the belief that the Home Rule Bill
would be introduced before Easter, it was decided to hold this meeting
in the Recess, as Mr. Bonar Law had promised to speak, and a number of
English Members of Parliament wished to be present. At the last moment
the Government announced that the Bill would not be presented till the
11th of April, after Parliament reassembled, and its provisions were
therefore still unknown when the demonstration took place on the 9th in
the Show Ground of the Royal Agricultural Society at Balmoral, a suburb
of Belfast.

Feeling ran high as the date of the double event approached, and the
indignant sense of wrong that prevailed in Ulster was finely voiced in a
poem, entitled "Ulster 1912," written by Mr. Kipling for the occasion
which appeared in _The Morning Post_ on the day of the Balmoral
demonstration, of which the first and last stanzas were:

    "The dark eleventh hour
    Draws on, and sees us sold
    To every evil Power
    We fought against of old.
    Rebellion, rapine, hate,
    Oppression, wrong, and greed
    Are loosed to rule our fate,
    By England's act and deed.

    "Believe, we dare not boast,
    Believe, we do not fear--
    We stand to pay the cost
    In all that men hold dear.
    What answer from the North?
    One Law, One Land, One Throne.
    If England drive us forth
    We shall not fall alone!"

The preparations for the Unionist leader's coming visit to Belfast had
excited the keenest interest throughout England and Scotland. Coinciding
as it did with the introduction of the Government's Bill, it was
recognised to be the formal countersigning by the whole Unionist Party
of Great Britain of Ulster's proclamation of her determination to resist
her forcible degradation in constitutional status. The same note of
mingled reproach and defiance which sounded in Kipling's verses was
heard in the grave warning addressed by _The Times_ to the country in a
leading article on the morning of the meeting:

     "Nobody of common judgment and common knowledge of political
     movements can honestly doubt the exceptional gravity of the
     occasion, and least of all can any such doubt be felt by any who
     know the men of Ulster. To make light of the deep-rooted
     convictions which fill the minds of those who will listen to Mr.
     Bonar Law to-day is a shallow and an idle affectation, or a token
     of levity and of ignorance. Enlightened Liberalism may smile at the
     beliefs and the passions of the Ulster Protestants, but it was
     those same beliefs and passions, in the forefathers of the men who
     will gather in Belfast to-day, which saved Ireland for the British
     Crown, and freed the cause of civil and religious liberty in these
     islands from its last dangerous foes.... It is useless to argue
     that they are mistaken. They have reasons, never answered yet, for
     believing that they are not mistaken.... Their temper is an
     ultimate fact which British statesmen and British citizens have to
     face. These men cannot be persuaded to submit to Home Rule. Are
     Englishmen and Scotchmen prepared to fasten it upon them by
     military force? That is the real Ulster question."

Other great English newspapers wrote in similar strain, and the support
thus given was of the greatest possible encouragement to the Ulster
people, who were thereby assured that their standpoint was not
misunderstood and that the justice of their "loyalist" claims was
appreciated across the Channel.

Among the numberless popular demonstrations which marked the history of
Ulster's stand against Home Rule, four stand out pre-eminent in the
impressiveness of their size and character. Those who attended the
Ulster Convention of 1892 were persuaded that no political meeting could
ever be more inspiring; but many of them lived to acknowledge that it
was far surpassed at Craigavon in 1911. The Craigavon meeting, though in
some respects as important as any of the series, was, from a spectacular
point of view, much less imposing than the assemblage which listened to
Mr. Bonar Law at Balmoral on Easter Tuesday, 1912; and the latter
occasion, though never surpassed in splendour and magnitude by any
single gathering, was in significance but a prelude to the magnificent
climax reached in the following September on the day when the Covenant
was signed throughout Ulster.

The Balmoral demonstration had, however, one distinctive feature. At it
the Unionist Party of Great Britain met and grasped the hand of Ulster
Loyalism. It gave the leader and a large number of his followers an
opportunity to judge for themselves the strength and sincerity of
Ulster, and at the same time it served to show the Ulstermen the weight
of British opinion ready to back them. Mr. Bonar Law was accompanied to
Belfast by no less than seventy Members of Parliament, representing
English, Scottish, and Welsh constituencies, not a few of whom had
already attained, or afterwards rose to, political distinction. Among
them were Mr. Walter Long, Lord Hugh Cecil, Sir Robert Finlay, Lord
Charles Beresford, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Amery, Mr. J.D. Baird, Sir
Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, Mr. Ian Malcolm, Lord Claud Hamilton, Mr. J.G.
Butcher, Mr. Ernest Pollock, Mr. George Cave, Mr. Felix Cassel, Mr.
Ormsby-Gore, Mr. Scott Dickson, Mr. W. Peel, Captain Gilmour, Mr. George
Lloyd, Mr. J.W. Hills, Mr. George Lane-Fox, Mr. Stuart-Wortley, Mr.
J.F.P. Rawlinson, Mr. H.J. Mackinder, and Mr. Herbert Nield.

The reception of the Unionist Leader at Larne on Easter Monday was
wonderful, even to those who knew what a Larne welcome to loyalist
leaders could be, and who recalled the scenes there during the historic
visits of Lord Randolph Churchill, Lord Salisbury, and Mr. Balfour. "If
this is how you treat your friends," said Mr. Bonar Law simply, in reply
to one of the innumerable addresses presented to him, "I am glad I am
not an enemy." Before reaching Belfast he had ample opportunity at every
stopping-place of his train to note the fervour of the populace. "Are
all these people landlords?" he asked (in humorous allusion to the
Liberal legend that Ulster Unionism was manufactured by a few
aristocratic landowners), as he saw every platform thronged with
enthusiastic crowds of men and women, the majority of whom were
evidently of the poorer classes. In Belfast the concourse of people was
so dense in the streets that the motor-car in which Mr. Bonar Law and
Sir Edward Carson sat side by side found it difficult to make its way
to the Reform Club, the headquarters of what had once been Ulster
Liberalism, where an address was presented in which it was stated that
the conduct of the Government "will justify loyal Ulster in resorting to
the most extreme measures in resisting Home Rule." In his reply Mr.
Bonar Law gave them "on behalf of the Unionist Party this
message--though the brunt of the battle will be yours, there will not be
wanting help from 'across the Channel.'" At Comber, where a stop was
made on the way to Mount Stewart, he asked himself how Radical Scotsmen
would like to be treated as the Government were treating Protestant
Ulster. "I know Scotland well," he replied to his own question, "and I
believe that, rather than submit to such fate, the Scottish people would
face a second Bannockburn or a second Flodden."

These few quotations from the first utterances of Mr. Bonar Law on his
arrival are sufficient to show how complete was the understanding
between him and the Ulster people even before the great demonstration of
the following day. He had, as _The Times_ Correspondent noted, "already
found favour with the Belfast crowd. All the way from Larne by train to
Belfast and through Belfast by motor-car to Newtownards and Mount
Stewart, his progress was a triumph."

The remarks of the same experienced observer on the eve of the Balmoral
meeting are worth recording, especially as his anticipations were amply

     "To-morrow's demonstration," he telegraphed from Belfast, "both in
     numbers and enthusiasm, promises to be the most remarkable ever
     seen in Ireland. If expectations are realised the assemblage of men
     will be twice as numerous as the whole white population of the
     Witwatersrand, whose grievances led to the South African War, and
     they will represent a community greater in numbers than the white
     population of South Africa as a whole. Unless all the signs are
     misleading, it will be the demonstration of a community in the
     deadliest earnest. By the Protestant community of Ulster, Home Rule
     is regarded as a menace to their faith, to their material
     well-being and prosperity, and to their freedom and national
     traditions, and thus all the most potent motives which in history
     have stirred men to their greatest efforts are here in operation."

No written description, unless by the pen of some gifted imaginative
writer, could convey any true impression of the scenes that were
witnessed the following day in the Show Ground at Balmoral and the roads
leading to it from the heart of the city. The photographs published at
the time give some idea of the apparently unbounded ocean of earnest,
upturned faces, closely packed round the several platforms, and
stretching away far into a dim and distant background; but even they
could not record the impressive stillness of the vast multitude, its
orderliness, which required the presence of not a single policeman, its
spirit of almost religious solemnity which struck every observant
onlooker. No profusion of superlative adjectives can avail to reproduce
such scenes, any more than words, no matter how skilfully chosen, can
convey the tone of a violin in the hands of a master. Even the mere
number of those who took part in the demonstration cannot be guessed
with any real accuracy. There was a procession of men, whose fine
physique and military smartness were noticed by visitors from England,
which was reported to have taken three hours to pass a given point
marching in fours, and was estimated to be not less than 100,000 strong,
while those who went independently to the ground or crowded the route
were reckoned to be at least as many more. The Correspondent of _The
Times_ declared that "it was hardly by hyperbole that Sir Edward Carson
claimed that it was one of the largest assemblies in the history of the

But the moral effect of such gatherings is not to be gauged by numbers
alone. The demeanour of the people, which no organisation or stage
management could influence, impressed the English journalists and
Members of Parliament even more than the gigantic scale of the
demonstration. There was not a trace of the picnic spirit. There was no
drunkenness, no noisy buffoonery, no unseemly behaviour. The Ulster
habit of combining politics and prayer--which was not departed from at
Balmoral, where the proceedings were opened by the Primate of All
Ireland and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church--was jeered at by
people who never witnessed an Ulster loyalist meeting; but the Editor of
_The Observer_, himself a Roman Catholic, remarked with more insight
that "the Protestant mind does not use prayer simply as part of a
parade;" and _The Times_ Correspondent, who has already been more than
once quoted, was struck by the fervour with which at Balmoral "the whole
of the vast gathering joined in singing the 90th Psalm," and he added
the very just comment that "it is the custom in Ulster to mark in this
solemn manner the serious nature of the issue when the Union is the
question, as something different from a question of mere party

The spectacular aspect of the demonstration was admirably managed. A
saluting point was so arranged that the procession, on entering the
enclosure, could divide into two columns, one passing each side of a
small pavilion where Mr. Bonar Law, Sir Edward Carson, Lord Londonderry,
and Mr. Walter Long stood to take the salute before proceeding to the
stand which held the principal platform for the delivery of the
speeches. In the centre of the ground was a signalling-tower with a
flagstaff 90 feet high, on which a Union Jack measuring 48 feet by 25
and said to be the largest ever woven, was broken at the moment when the
Resolution against Home Rule was put to the meeting.

Mr. Bonar Law, visibly moved by the scene before him, made a speech that
profoundly affected his audience, although it was characteristically
free from rhetorical display. A recent incident in Dublin, where the
sight of the British Flag flying within view of a Nationalist meeting
had been denounced as "an intolerable insult," supplied him, when he
compared it with the spectacle presented by the meeting, with an apt
illustration of the contrast between "the two nations" in Ireland--the
loyal and the disloyal. He told the Ulstermen that he had come to them
as the leader of the Unionist Party to give them the assurance that
"that party regard your cause, not as yours alone, nor as ours alone,
but as the cause of the Empire"; the meeting, which he had expected to
be a great gathering but which far exceeded his expectation, proved
that Ulster's hostility to Home Rule, far from having slackened, as
enemies had alleged, had increased and solidified with the passing
years; they were men "animated by a unity of purpose, by a fixity of
resolution which nothing can shake and which must prove irresistible,"
to whom he would apply Cromwell's words to his Ironsides: "You are men
who know what you are fighting for, and love what you know." Then, after
an analysis of the practical evils that Home Rule would engender and the
benefits which legislative union secured, he again emphasised the lack
of mandate for the Government policy. His hearers, he said, "knew the
shameful story": how the Radicals had twice failed to obtain the
sanction of the British people for Home Rule, "and now for the third
time they were trying to carry it not only without the sanction, but
against the will, of the British people."

The peroration which followed made an irresistible appeal to a people
always mindful of the glories of the relief of Derry. Mr. Bonar Law
warned them that the Ministerial majority in the House of Commons, "now
cemented by £400 a year," could not be broken up, but would have their
own way. He therefore said to them:

     "With all solemnity--you must trust in yourselves. Once again you
     hold the pass--the pass for the Empire. You are a besieged city.
     The timid have left you; your Lundys have betrayed you; but you
     have closed your gates. The Government have erected by their
     Parliament Act a boom against you to shut you off from the help of
     the British people. You will burst that boom. That help will come,
     and when the crisis is over men will say to you in words not unlike
     those used by Pitt--you have saved yourselves by your exertions and
     you will save the Empire by your example."

The overwhelming ovation with which Sir Edward Carson was received upon
taking the president's chair at the chief platform, in the absence
through illness of the Duke of Abercorn, proved that he had already won
the confidence and the affection of the Ulster people to a degree that
seemed to leave little room for growth, although every subsequent
appearance he made among them in the years that lay ahead seemed to add
intensity to their demonstrations of personal devotion. The most
dramatic moment at Balmoral--if for once the word so hackneyed and
misused by journalists may be given its true signification--the most
dramatic moment was when the Ulster leader and the leader of the whole
Unionist Party each grasped the other's hand in view of the assembled
multitude, as though formally ratifying a compact made thus publicly on
the eve of battle. It was the consummation of the purpose of this
assembly of the Unionist hosts on Ulster soil, and gave assurance of
unity of aim and undivided command in the coming struggle.

Of the other speeches delivered, many of them of a high quality,
especially, perhaps, those of Lord Hugh Cecil, Sir Robert Finlay, and
Mr. Scott Dickson, it is enough to say that they all conveyed the same
message of encouragement to Ulster, the same promise of undeviating
support. One detail, however, deserves mention, because it shows the
direction in which men's thoughts were then moving. Mr. Walter Long,
whose great services to the cause of the Union procured him a welcome
second in warmth to that of no other leader, after thanking Londonderry
and Carson "for the great lead they have given us in recent difficult
weeks "--an allusion to the Churchill incident that was not lost on the
audience--added with a blunt directness characteristic of the speaker:
"If they are going to put Lord Londonderry and Sir Edward Carson into
the dock, they will have to find one large enough to hold the whole
Unionist Party."

The Balmoral demonstration was recognised on all sides as one of the
chief landmarks in the Ulster Movement. The Craigavon policy was not
only reaffirmed with greater emphasis than before by the people of
Ulster themselves, but it received the deliberate endorsement of the
Unionist Party in England and Scotland. Moreover, as Mr. Long's speech
explicitly promised, and Mr. Bonar Law's speech unmistakably implied,
British support was not to be dependent on Ulster's opposition to Home
Rule being kept within strictly legal limits. Indeed, it had become
increasingly evident that opposition so limited must be impotent, since,
as Mr. Bonar Law pointed out, Ministers and their majority in the House
of Commons were in Mr. Redmond's pocket, and had no choice but to "toe
the line," while the "boom" which they had erected by the Parliament Act
cut off Ulster from access to the British constituencies, unless that
boom could be burst as the boom across the Foyle was broken by the
_Mountjoy_ in 1689. The Unionist leader had warned the Ulstermen that
in these circumstances they must expect nothing from Parliament, but
must trust in themselves. They did not mistake his meaning, and they
were quite ready to take his advice.

Coming, as it did, two days before the introduction of the Government's
Bill, the Balmoral demonstration profoundly influenced opinion in the
country. The average Englishman, when his political party is in a
minority, damns the Government, shrugs his shoulders, and goes on his
way, not rejoicing indeed, but with apathetic resignation till the
pendulum swings again. He now awoke to the fact that the Ulstermen meant
business. He realised that a political crisis of the first magnitude was
visible on the horizon. The vague talk about "civil war" began to look
as if it might have something in it, and it was evident that the
provisions of the forthcoming Bill, about which there had been so much
eager anticipation, would be of quite secondary importance since neither
the Cabinet nor the House of Commons would have the last word.

Supporters of the Government in the Press could think of nothing better
to do in these circumstances than to pour out abuse, occasionally varied
by ridicule, on the Unionist leaders, of which Sir Edward Carson came in
for the most generous portion. He was by turns everything that was bad,
dangerous, and absurd, from Mephistopheles to a madman. "F.C.G."
summarised the Balmoral meeting pictorially in a _Westminster Gazette_
cartoon as a costermonger's donkey-cart in which Carson, Londonderry,
and Bonar Law, refreshed by "Orangeade," took "an Easter Jaunt in
Ulster," and other caricaturists used their pencils with less humour and
more malice with the same object of belittling the demonstration with
ridicule. But ridicule is not so potent a weapon in England or in Ulster
as it is said to be in France. It did nothing to weaken the Ulster
cause; it even strengthened it in some ways. It was about this time that
hostile writers began to refer to "King Carson," and to represent him as
exercising regal sway over his "subjects" in Ulster. Those "subjects"
were delighted; they took it as a compliment to their leader's position
and power, and did not in the least resent the role assigned to

On the other hand, they did resent very hotly the vulgar insolence often
levelled at their "Sir Edward." He himself was always quite indifferent
to it, sometimes even amused by it. On one occasion, when something
particularly outrageous had appeared with reference to him in some
Radical paper, he delighted a public meeting by solemnly reading the
passage, and when the angry cries of "Shame, shame" had subsided, saying
with a smile: "This sort of thing is only the manure that fertilises my
reputation with you who know me."

And that was true. If Home Rulers, whether in Ireland or in Great
Britain, ever seriously thought of conciliating Ulster, as Mr. Redmond
professed to desire, they never made a greater mistake than in saying
and writing insulting things about Carson. It only endeared him more and
more to his followers, and it intensified the bitterness of their
feeling against the Nationalists and all their works. An almost equally
short-sighted error on the part of hostile critics was the idea that the
attitude of Ulster as exhibited at Craigavon and Balmoral should be
represented as mere bluster and bluff, to which the only proper reply
was contempt. There never was anything further removed from the truth,
as anyone ought to have known who had the smallest acquaintance with
Irish history or with the character of the race that had supplied the
backbone of Washington's army; but, if there had been at any time an
element of bluff in their attitude, their contemptuous critics took the
surest means of converting it into grim earnestness of purpose. Mr.
Redmond himself was ill-advised enough to set an example in this
respect. In an article published by _Reynold's Newspaper_ in January he
had scoffed at the "stupid, hollow, and unpatriotic bellowings" of the
Loyalists in Belfast. Some few opponents had enough sense to take a
different line in their comments on Balmoral. One article in particular
which appeared in _The Star_ on the day of the demonstration attracted
much attention for this reason.

     "We have never yielded," it said, "to the temptation to deride or
     to belittle the resistance of Ulster to Home Rule.... The
     subjugation of Protestant Ulster by force is one of those things
     that do not happen in our politics.... It is, we know, a popular
     delusion that Ulster is a braggart whose words are empty bluff. We
     are convinced that Ulster means what she says, and that she will
     make good every one of her warnings."

_The Star_ went on to implore Liberals not to be driven "into an
attitude of bitter hostility to the Ulster Protestants," with whom it
declared they had much in common.

After Balmoral there was certainly more disposition than before on the
part of Liberal Home Rulers to acknowledge the sincerity of Ulster and
the gravity of the position created by her opposition, and this
disposition showed itself in the debates on the Bill; but, speaking
generally, the warning of _The Star_ was disregarded by its political
adherents, and its neglect contributed not a little to the embitterment
of the controversy.


[22] _Annual Register_, 1912, p. 3.

[23] _The Times_, February 3rd, 1912.

[24] Ibid.

[25] _Annual Register_, 1912, p. 7.

[26] Ibid., p. 126.



Within forty-eight hours of the Balmoral meeting the Prime Minister
moved for leave to introduce the third Home Rule Bill in the House of
Commons. Carson immediately stated the Ulster case in a powerful speech
which left no room for doubt that, while every clause in the Bill would
be contested, it was the setting up of an executive administration
responsible to a Parliament in Dublin--that is to say, the central
principle of the measure--that would be most strenuously opposed.

There is no occasion here to explain in detail the proposals contained
in Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Bill. They form part of the general history
of the period, and are accessible to all who care to examine them. Our
concern is with the endeavour of Ulster to prevent, if possible, the
passage of the Bill to the Statute-book, and, if that should prove
impracticable, to prevent its enforcement "in those districts of which
they had control." But one or two points that were made in the course of
the debates which occupied Parliament for the rest of the year 1912
claim a moment's notice in their bearing on the subject in hand.

Mr. Bonar Law lost no time in fully redeeming the promises he made at
Balmoral. Challenged to repeat in Parliament the charges he had made
against the Government in Ulster, he not only repeated them with
emphasis, but by closely-knit reasoning justified them with chapter and
verse. As to Balmoral, "it really was not like a political
demonstration; it was the expression of the soul of a people." He
declared that "the gulf between the two peoples in Ireland was really
far wider than the gulf between Ireland and Great Britain." He then
dealt specifically with the threatened resistance of Ulster. "These
people in Ulster," he said, "are under no illusion. They know they
cannot fight the British Army. The people of Ulster know that, if the
soldiers receive orders to shoot, it will be their duty to obey. They
will have no ill-will against them for obeying. But they are ready, in
what they believe to be the cause of justice and liberty, to lay down
their lives. How are you going to overcome that resistance? Do
Honourable Members believe that any Prime Minister could give orders to
shoot down men whose only crime is that they refuse to be driven out of
our community and be deprived of the privilege of British citizenship?
The thing is impossible. All your talk about details, the union of
hearts and the rest of it, is a sham. This is a reality. It is a rock,
and on that rock this Bill will inevitably make shipwreck."

The Unionist leader then made a searching exposure of the traffic and
bargaining between the Cabinet and the Nationalists by which the support
of the latter had been bought for a Budget which they hated, the price
paid being the Premier's improper advice to the Crown, leading to the
mutilation of the Constitution; the acknowledgment in the preamble to
the Parliament Act that an immediate reform of the Second Chamber was a
"debt of honour"; the omission to redeem that debt, which had provided a
new proverb--"Lying as a preamble"; and, finally, the determination to
carry Home Rule after deliberately keeping it out of sight during the
elections. The Prime Minister's "debt of honour must wait until he has
paid his debt of shame"; and the latter debt was being paid by the
proposals they were then debating. If those proposals had been submitted
to the electors, "there would be a difference," said Mr. Bonar Law,
"between the Unionists in England and the Unionists in Ireland. Now
there is none. We can imagine nothing which the Unionists in Ireland can
do which will not be justified against a trick of this kind."

Dissatisfaction with the financial clauses of the Bill was expressed at
once by the General Council of County Councils in Ireland, a purely
Nationalist body; but on the 23rd of April a Nationalist Convention in
Dublin, under the influence of Mr. Redmond's oratory, accepted the whole
of the Government's proposals with enthusiasm. The first and second
readings of the Bill were duly carried by the normal Government majority
of about a hundred Liberal, Labour, and Irish Nationalist votes, and the
committee stage opened on the 11th of June. On that day an amendment was
down for debate which required the most careful consideration by the
representatives of Ulster, since their attitude now might have an
important bearing on their future policy, and a false step at this stage
might easily prove embarrassing later on. The author of this amendment
was Mr. Agar-Robartes, a Cornish Liberal Member, whose proposal was to
exclude the four counties of Antrim, Derry, Down, and Armagh from the
jurisdiction of the proposed Irish Parliament, a gratifying proof that
Craigavon and Balmoral were bearing fruit.

A conference of Ulster Members and Peers, and some English Members
closely identified with Irish affairs, of whom Mr. Walter Long was one,
met at Londonderry House before the sitting of the House on the 11th of
June to decide what course to take on this proposal.

It was not surprising to find that there were sharp differences of
opinion among those present, for there were obvious objections to
supporting the amendment and equally obvious objections to voting
against it. The opposition of Ulster for more than a quarter of a
century had been directed against Home Rule for any part of Ireland and
in any shape or form. No suggestion had ever been made by any of her
spokesmen that the Protestant North, or any part of it, should be dealt
with separately from the rest of the island, although Carson and others
had pointed out that all the arguments in support of Home Rule were
equally valid for treating Ulster as a unit. There were both economic
and administrative difficulties in such a scheme which were sufficiently
obvious, though by no means insuperable; but what weighed far more
heavily in the minds of the Ulster members was the anticipation that
their acceptance of the proposal would probably be represented by
enemies as a desertion of all the Irish Loyalists outside the four
counties named in the amendment, with whom there was in every part of
Ulster the most powerful sentiment of solidarity. The idea of taking any
action apart from these friends and associates, and of adopting a policy
that might seem to imply the abandonment of their opposition to the main
principle of the Bill, was one that could not be entertained except
under the most compelling necessity.

But, had not that necessity now arisen? The Ulster members had to keep
in view the ultimate policy to which they were already committed. That
policy, as laid down at Craigavon, was to take over, in the event of the
Home Rule Bill being carried, the government "of those districts which
they could control" in trust for the Imperial Parliament, and to resist
by force if necessary the establishment of the Dublin jurisdiction over
those districts. The policy of resistance was always recognised as being
strictly limited in area; no one ever supposed that Ulster could
forcibly resist Home Rule being set up in the south and west. The
likelihood of failure to bring about a dissolution before the Bill
became law had to be faced, and if no General Election took place there
would be no alternative to resistance. If, then, it were decided to vote
against an amendment offering salvation to the four most loyalist
counties, what would be their position if ultimately driven to take up
arms? Except as to a matter of detail concerning the precise area
proposed to be excluded from the Bill, would they not be told that they
were fighting for what they might have had by legislation, and what they
had deliberately refused to accept? And if they so acted, could they
expect not to forfeit the support of the great and growing volume of
public opinion which now sympathised with Ulster? They could not, of
course, secure themselves against malicious misrepresentation of their
motives, but the Ulster members sincerely believed, and many in the
South shared the opinion, that if it came to the worst they could be of
more use to the Southern Unionists outside a Dublin Parliament than as
members of it, where they would be an impotent minority. Moreover, it
was perfectly understood that Ulster was resolved in any case not to
enter a legislature in College Green, and there would, therefore, be no
more "desertion" of Unionists outside the excluded area if the exclusion
were effected by an amendment to the Bill, than if it were the result of
what Mr. Bonar Law had called "trusting to themselves."

The considerations thus briefly summarised were thoroughly discussed in
all their bearings at the conference at Londonderry House. It was one of
many occasions when Sir Edward Carson's colleagues had an opportunity of
perceiving how his penetrating intellect explored the intricate windings
of a complicated political problem, weighing all the alternatives of
procedure with a clear insight into the appearance that any line of
conduct would present to other and perhaps hostile minds, calculating
like a chess-master move and counter-move far ahead of the present, and,
while adhering undeviatingly to principle, using the judgment of a
consummate strategist to decide upon the action to be taken at any given
moment. He had an astonishing faculty of discarding everything that was
unessential and fastening on the thing that really mattered in any
situation. His strength in counsel lay in the rare combination of these
qualities of the trained lawyer with the gift of intuition, which women
claim as their distinguishing characteristic; and it often extorted from
Nationalists the melancholy admission that if Carson had been on their
side their cause would have triumphed long ago.

His advice now was that the Agar-Robartes amendment should be supported;
and, although some of those present required a good deal of persuasion,
it was ultimately decided unanimously that this course should be
followed. The wisdom of the decision was never afterwards questioned,
and, indeed, was abundantly confirmed by subsequent events.

Mr. Agar-Robartes moved his amendment the same afternoon, summarising
his argument in the dictum, denied by Mr. William Redmond, that "Orange
bitters will not mix with Irish whisky." The debate, which lasted three
days, was the most important that took place in committee on the Bill,
for in the course of it the whole Ulster question was exhaustively
discussed. Sir Edward Grey and Mr. Churchill had thrown out hints in the
second reading debate that the Government might do something to meet the
Ulster case. The Prime Minister was now pressed to say what these hints
meant. Had the Government any policy in regard to Ulster? Had they
considered how they could deal with the threatened resistance? Mr. Bonar
Law told the Government that they must know that, if they employed
troops to coerce the Ulster Loyalists, Ministers who gave the order
"would run a greater risk of being lynched in London than the Loyalists
of Ulster would run of being shot in Belfast." Every argument in favour
of Home Rule was, he said, equally cogent against subjecting Ulster to
Home Rule contrary to her own desire. If the South of Ireland objected
to being governed from Westminster, the North of Ireland quite as
strongly objected to being ruled from Dublin. If England, as was
alleged, was incapable of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas,
the Nationalists were fully as incapable of governing the northern
counties according to Ulster ideas. If Ireland, with only one-fifteenth
of the population of the United Kingdom, had a right to choose its own
form of government, by what equity could the same right be denied to
Ulster, with one-fourth of the population of Ireland?

As had been anticipated at Londonderry House, Mr. Asquith and some of
his followers did their best to drive a wedge between the Ulstermen and
the Southern Unionists, by contending that the former, in supporting the
amendment, were deserting their friends. Mr. Balfour declared in answer
to this that "nothing could relieve Unionists in the rest of Ireland
except the defeat of the measure as a whole"; and a crushing reply was
given by Mr. J.H. Campbell and Mr. Walter Guinness, both of whom were
Unionists from the South of Ireland. Mr. Guinness frankly acknowledged
that "it was the duty of Ulster members to take this opportunity of
trying to secure for their constituents freedom from this iniquitous
measure. It would be merely a dog-in-the-manger policy for those who
lived outside Ulster to grudge relief to their co-religionists merely
because they could not share it. Such self-denial on Ulster's part would
in no way help them (the Southerners) and it would only injure their
compatriots in the North."

Sir Edward Carson, in supporting the amendment, insisted that "Ulster
was not asking for anything" except to be left within the Imperial
Constitution; she "had not demanded any separate Parliament." He
accepted the "basic principle" of the amendment, but would not be
content with the four counties which alone it proposed to exclude from
the Bill. He only accepted it, however, on two assumptions--first, that
the Bill was to become law; and, second, that it was to be, as Mr.
Asquith had assured them, part of a federal system for the United
Kingdom. If the first steps were being taken to construct a federal
system, there was no precedent for coercing Ulster to form part of a
federal unit which she refused to join. He had been Solicitor-General
when the Act establishing the Commonwealth of Australia was being
discussed, and it never would have passed, he declared, "if every single
clause had not been agreed to by every single one of the communities
concerned." Ministers were always basing their Irish policy on Dominion
analogies, but could anyone, Carson asked, imagine the Imperial
Government sending troops to compel the Transvaal or New South Wales to
come into a federal system against their will?

The arguments in favour of the amendment were also stated with
uncompromising force by Mr. William Moore, Mr. Charles Craig, and his
brother Captain James Craig, the last-mentioned taking up a challenge
thrown down by Mr. Birrell in a maladroit speech which had expressed
doubt as to the reality of the danger to be apprehended in Ulster.
Captain Craig said they would immediately take steps in Ulster to
convince the Chief Secretary of their sincerity. Lord Hugh Cecil, in an
outspoken speech, greatly to the taste of English Unionists, "had no
hesitation in saying that Ulster would be perfectly right in resisting,
and he hoped she would be successful."

In the division on Mr. Agar-Robartes's amendment the Government
majority fell to sixty-nine, both the "Tellers" being usual supporters
of the Ministry. Mr. F.E. Smith, in a vigorous speech to the Belfast
Orangemen on the 12th of July, declared that "on the part of the
Government the discussion (on Mr. Agar-Robartes's amendment) was a trap.
... The Government hoped that Ulster would decline the amendment in
order that the Coalition might protest to the constituencies: 'We
offered Ulster exclusion and Ulster refused exclusion--where is the
grievance of Ulster? where her justification for armed revolt?'" The
snare was avoided; but the debate was a landmark in the movement, for it
was then that the spokesmen of Ulster for the first time publicly
accepted the idea of separate treatment for themselves as a possible
alternative policy to the integral maintenance of the Union.

The Government, for their part, made no response to the demand of Bonar
Law and Carson that they should declare their intentions for dealing
with resistance in Ulster. It was clearly more than ever necessary for
the Ulstermen to "trust in themselves." The debates on the Bill occupied
Parliament till the end of the year, and beyond it, and great blocks of
clauses were carried under the guillotine closure without a word of
discussion, although they were packed with constitutional points, many
of which were of the highest moment. Over in Ulster, at the same time,
those preparations were industriously carried forward which Captain
Craig told the House of Commons would be necessary to cure the
scepticism of the Chief Secretary.

In England and Scotland, also, Unionists did their utmost to make public
opinion realise the gravity of the crisis towards which the country was
drifting under the Wait-and-See Ministry. Never before, probably, had so
many great political meetings been held in any year as were held in
every part of the country in 1912. With the exception of those that took
place in Ireland, the most striking was a monster gathering at Blenheim
on the 27th of July, which was attended by delegates from every Unionist
Association in the United Kingdom.

A notable defeat of the Government in a by-election at Crewe, news of
which reached the meeting while the audience of some fifteen thousand
people was assembling, was an encouraging sign of the trend of opinion
in the country, and added confidence to the note of defiance that
sounded in the speeches of Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. F.E. Smith, and Sir Edward

The Unionist leader repeated, with added emphasis, what he had already
said in the House of Commons, that he could imagine no length of
resistance to which Ulster might go in which he and the overwhelming
majority of the British people would not be ready to give support. He
again said that resistance would be justified only because the people
had not been consulted, and the Government's policy was "part of a
corrupt parliamentary bargain." He refused to acknowledge the right of
the Government "to carry such a Revolution by such means," and as they
appeared to be resolved to do so, Mr. Bonar Law and the party he led
"would use any means to deprive them of the power they had usurped, and
to compel them to face the people they had deceived." Mr. F.E. Smith
expressed the same thought in a more epigrammatic antithesis: "We have
come to a clear issue between the party which says 'We will judge for
the democracy,' and the party which says 'The democracy shall judge

The tremendous enthusiasm evoked by Mr. Bonar Law's pledge of support to
Ulster, and by Sir Edward Carson's announcement that they in Ulster
"would shortly challenge the Government to interfere with them if they
dared, and would with equanimity await the result," was a sufficient
proof, if proof were needed, that the intention of the Ulstermen to
offer forcible resistance to Home Rule had the whole-hearted sympathy
and approval of the entire Unionist party in Great Britain, whose
representatives from every corner of the country were assembled at

Liberals hoped and believed that this promise of support for the
"rebellious" attitude of Ulster would alienate British opinion from the
Unionist party. The supporters of the Government in the Press daily
proclaimed that it was doing so. When Parliament adjourned for the
summer recess, at the beginning of what journalists call "the silly
season," Mr. Churchill published two letters to a constituent in
Scotland which were intended to be a crushing indictment both of Ulster
and of her sympathisers in Great Britain. The Ulster menace was in his
eyes nothing but "melodramatic stuff," and he sneeringly suggested that
the Unionist leaders would be "unspeakably shocked and frightened" if
anything came of their "foolish and wicked words." The letter was
lengthy, and contained some telling phrases such as Mr. Churchill has
always been skilful in coining; but the "turgid homily--a mixture of
sophistry, insult, and menace," as _The Times_ not unfairly described
it, was less effective than the terse and simple rejoinder in which Mr.
Bonar Law pointed out that Mr. Churchill's onslaught wounded his
father's memory more deeply than it touched his living opponents, since
Lord Randolph's "incitement" of Ulster was at a time when Ulster could
not be cast out from the Union without the consent of the British

Mr. Churchill's epistles to Scottish Liberals started a correspondence
which reverberated through the Press for weeks, breaking the monotony of
the holiday season; but they entirely failed in their purpose, which was
to break the sympathy for Ulster in England and Scotland. In March the
Unionists had won a seat at a by-election in South Manchester; the
victory at Crewe in July, which so cheered the gathering at Blenheim,
was followed by still more striking victories in North-west Manchester
in August, and in Midlothian--Gladstone's old constituency--in
September; and perhaps a not less significant indication of the trend of
opinion so far as the Unionist party was concerned, was given by the
local Unionist Association at Rochdale, which promptly repudiated its
selected candidate who had ventured to protest against the Blenheim
speech of the Unionist leader. In an analysis of electoral statistics
published by _The Times_ on the 24th of August it was shown that, in
thirty-eight contests since the General Election in December 1910, the
Unionists had gained an advantage of more than 32,000 votes over
Liberals. And shortly afterwards, at a dinner in London to three newly
elected Unionists, Mr. Bonar Law pointed out that the results of
by-elections, if realised in the same proportion all over the country,
would have given a substantial Unionist majority in the House of

The Ulster people had, therefore, much to encourage them at a time when
they were preparing the most significant forward step in the movement,
and the most solemn pronouncement of their unfaltering resolution never
to submit to the Dublin Parliament--the signing of the Ulster Covenant.
Their policy of resistance, first propounded at Craigavon, reiterated at
Balmoral, endorsed by British sympathisers at Blenheim, and specifically
defended in Parliament both by Unionist leaders like Mr. Bonar Law and
Mr. Long and by prominent members of the Unionist rank and file like
Lord Hugh Cecil, had won the approval and support of great popular
constituencies in Lancashire and in Scotland, and had alienated no
section of Unionist opinion or of the Unionist Press. It was in no
merely satirical spirit that Carson wrote in August that he was grateful
to Mr. Churchill "for having twice within a few weeks done something to
focus public opinion on the stern realities of the situation in
Ulster."[27] For that was the actual result of the "turgid homily." It
proved of real service to the Ulster cause by bringing to light the
complete solidarity of Unionist opinion in its support. That meant, in
the light of the electoral returns, that certainly more than half the
nation sympathised with the measures that were being taken in Ulster,
and that Ulster could well afford to smile at the mockery which English
Home Rulers deemed a sufficient weapon to demolish the "wooden guns" and
the "military play-acting of King Carson's Army."


[27] See _The Times_, August 19th, 1912.



There was one Liberal statesman, formerly the favourite lieutenant of
Gladstone and the closest political ally of Asquith, who was under no
illusion as to the character of the men with whom Asquith was now
provoking a conflict. Speaking in Edinburgh on the 1st of November,
1911, that is, shortly after the Craigavon meeting, Lord Rosebery told
his Scottish audience that "he loved Highlanders and he loved
Lowlanders, but when he came to the branch of their race which had been
grafted on to the Ulster stem he took off his hat with reverence and
awe. They were without exception the toughest, the most dominant, the
most irresistible race that existed in the universe."[28]

The kinship of this tough people with the Lowlanders of Scotland, in
character as in blood, was never more signally demonstrated than when
they decided, in one of the most intense crises of their history, to
emulate the example of their Scottish forefathers in binding themselves
together by a solemn League and Covenant to resist what they deemed to
be a tyrannical encroachment on their liberties and rights.

The most impressive moment at the Balmoral meeting at Easter 1912 was
when the vast assemblage, with uncovered heads, raised their hands and
repeated after Sir Edward Carson words abjuring Home Rule. The incident
suggested to some of the local Unionist leaders that the spirit of
enthusiastic solidarity and determination thus manifested should not be
allowed to evaporate, and the people so animated to disperse to the four
corners of Ulster without any bond of mutual obligation. The idea of an
oath of fidelity to the cause and to each other was mooted, and
appeared to be favoured by many. The leader was consulted. He gave deep,
anxious, and prolonged consideration to the proposal, calculating all
the consequences which, in various possible eventualities, might follow
its adoption. He was not only profoundly conscious of the moral
responsibility which he personally, and his colleagues, would be
undertaking by the contemplated measure; he realised the numerous
practical difficulties there might be in honouring the bond, and he
would have nothing to do with a device which, under the guise of a
solemn covenant, would be nothing more than a verbal manifesto. If the
people were to be invited to sign anything of the sort, it must be a
reality, and he, as leader, must first see his way to make it a reality,
whatever might happen.

For, although Carson never shrank from responsibility, he never assumed
it with levity, or without full consideration of all that it might
involve. Many a time, especially before he had fully tested for himself
the temper of the Ulster people, he expressed to his intimates his
wonder whether the bulk of his followers sufficiently appreciated the
seriousness of the course they had set out upon. Sometimes in private he
seemed to be hypersensitive as to whether in any particular he was
misleading those who trusted him; he was scrupulously anxious that they
should not be carried away by unreflecting enthusiasm, or by personal
devotion to himself. About the only criticism of his leadership that was
ever made directly to himself by one of the rank and file in Ulster was
that it erred on the side of patience and caution; and this criticism
elicited the sharpest reproof he was ever heard to administer to any of
his followers.[29] His expressions of regard, almost amounting to
affection, for the men and women who thronged round him for a touch of
his hand wherever he appeared in the streets might have been ignorantly
set down as the arts of a demagogue had they ever been spoken in public,
but were capable of no such misconstruction when reserved, as they
invariably were, for the ears of his closest associates. The truth is
that no popular leader was ever less of a demagogue than Sir Edward
Carson. He had no "arts" at all--unless indeed complete simplicity is
the highest of all "arts" in one whom great masses of men implicitly
trust. He never sought to gain or augment the confidence of his
followers by concealing facts, minimising difficulties, or overcolouring

It is not surprising, then, that the decision to invite the Ulster
people to bind themselves together by some form of written bond or oath
was one which Carson did not come to hastily. While the matter was still
only being talked about by a few intimate friends, and had not been in
any way formally proposed, Captain James Craig happened to be occupying
himself one day at the Constitutional Club in London with pencil and
paper, making experimental drafts that might do for the proposed
purpose, when he was joined by Mr. B.W.D. Montgomery, Secretary of the
Ulster Club in Belfast, who asked what he was doing. "Trying to draft an
oath for our people at home," replied Craig, "and it's no easy matter to
get at what will suit." "You couldn't do better," said Montgomery, "than
take the old Scotch Covenant. It is a fine old document, full of grand
phrases, and thoroughly characteristic of the Ulster tone of mind at
this day." Thereupon the two men went to the library, where, with the
help of the club librarian, they found a History of Scotland containing
the full text of the celebrated bond of the Covenanters (first drawn up,
by a curious coincidence of names, by John Craig, in 1581), a verbatim
copy of which was made from the book.

The first idea was to adapt this famous manifesto of militant
Protestantism by making only such abbreviations and alterations as would
render it suitable for the purpose in view. But when it was ultimately
decided to go forward with the proposal, and the task of preparing the
document was entrusted to the Special Commission,[30] it was at once
realised that, however strongly the fine old Jacobean language and the
historical associations of the Solemn League and Covenant might appeal
to the imagination of a few, it was far too involved and long-winded,
no matter how drastically revised, to serve as an actual working
agreement between men of to-day, or as a rallying-point for a modern
democratic community. What was needed was something quite short and
easily intelligible, setting forth in as few words as possible a purpose
which the least learned could grasp at a glance, and which all who so
desired could sign with full comprehension of what they were doing.

Mr. Thomas Sinclair, one of the Special Commission, was himself a
draughtsman of exceptional skill, and in a matter of this kind his
advice was always invaluable, and it was under his hand that the Ulster
Covenant, after frequent amendment, took what was, with one important
exception, its final shape. The last revision cut down the draft by more
than one-half; but the portion discarded from the Covenant itself, in
the interest of brevity, was retained as a Resolution of the Ulster
Unionist Council which accompanied the Covenant and served as a sort of
declaratory preamble to it[31]. The exception referred to was an
amendment made to meet an objection raised by prominent representatives
of the Presbyterian Church. The Special Commission, realising that the
proposed Covenant ought not to be promulgated without the consent and
approval of the Protestant Churches, submitted the agreed draft to the
authorities of the Church of Ireland and of the Presbyterian, Methodist,
and Congregational Churches. The Moderator, and other leaders of the
Presbyterians, including Mr. (afterwards Sir Alexander) McDowell, a man
endowed with much of the wisdom of the serpent, while supporting without
demur the policy of the Covenant, took exception to its terms in a
single particular. They pointed out that the obligation to be accepted
by the signatories would be, as the text then stood, of unlimited
duration. They objected to undertaking such a responsibility without the
possibility of modifying it to meet the changes which time and
circumstance might bring about; and they insisted that, before they
could advise their congregations to contract so solemn an engagement,
the text of the Covenant must be amended by the introduction of words
limiting its validity to the crisis which then confronted them.

This was accordingly done. Words were introduced which declared the
pledge to be binding "throughout this our time of threatened calamity,"
and its purpose to be the defeat of "the present conspiracy." The
language was as precise, and was as carefully chosen, as the language of
a legal deed; but in an unhappy crisis which arose in 1916, in
circumstances which no one in the world could have foreseen in 1912,
there were some in Ulster who were not only tempted to strain the
interpretation which the Covenant as a whole could legitimately bear,
but who failed to appreciate the significance of the amendments that had
been made in its text at the instance of the Presbyterian Church.[32]

When these amendments had been incorporated in the Covenant by the
Special Commission, a meeting of the Standing Committee was convened at
Craigavon on the 19th of September to adopt it for recommendation to the
Council. The Committee, standing in a group outside the door leading
from the arcade at Craigavon to the tennis-lawn, listened while Sir
Edward Carson read the Covenant aloud from a stone step which now bears
an inscription recording the event. Those present showed by their
demeanour that they realised the historic character of the transaction
in which they were taking part, and the weight of responsibility they
were about to assume. But no voice expressed dissent or hesitation. The
Covenant was adopted unanimously and without amendment. Its terms were
as follows:


     "Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be
     disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the
     whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom,
     destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the
     Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal
     subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on
     the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently
     trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant throughout
     this our time of threatened calamity to 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. And in the event of such
     a Parliament being forced upon us we further solemnly and mutually
     pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority. In sure
     confidence that God will defend the right we hereto subscribe our
     names. And further, we individually declare that we have not
     already signed this Covenant. God save the King."

On Monday, the 23rd of September, the Ulster Unionist Council, the body
representing the whole loyalist community on an elective and thoroughly
democratic basis, held its annual meeting in the Ulster Hall, the chief
business being the ratification of the Covenant prior to its being
presented for general signature throughout the province on Ulster Day.
Upwards of five hundred delegates attended the meeting, and unanimously
approved the terms of the document recommended for their acceptance by
their Standing Committee. They then adopted, on the motion of Lord
Londonderry, the Resolution which, as already mentioned, had originally
formed part of the draft of the Covenant itself. This Resolution, as
well as the Covenant, was the subject of extensive comment in the
English and Scottish Press. Some opponents of Ulster directed against it
the flippant ridicule which appeared to be their only weapon against a
movement the gravity of which was admitted by Ministers of the Crown;
but, on the whole, the British Press acknowledged the important
enunciation of political principle which it contained. It placed on
record that:

     "Inasmuch as we, the duly elected delegates and members of the
     Ulster Unionist Council, representing all parts of Ulster, are
     firmly persuaded that by no law can the right to govern those whom
     we represent be bartered away without their consent; that although
     the present Government, the services and sacrifices of our race
     having been forgotten, may drive us forth from a Constitution which
     we have ever loyally upheld, they may not deliver us bound into the
     hands of our enemies; and that it is incompetent for any authority,
     party, or people to appoint as our rulers a Government dominated by
     men disloyal to the Empire and to whom our faith and traditions are
     hateful; and inasmuch as we reverently believe that, as in times
     past it was given our fathers to save themselves from a like
     calamity, so now it may be ordered that our deliverance shall be by
     our own hands, to which end it is needful that we be knit together
     as one man, each strengthening the other, and none holding back or
     counting the cost--therefore we, Loyalists of Ulster, ratify and
     confirm the steps so far taken by the Special Commission this day
     submitted and explained to us, and we reappoint the Commission to
     carry on its work on our behalf as in the past.

     "We enter into the Solemn Covenant appended hereto, and, knowing
     the greatness of the issues depending on our faithfulness, we
     promise each to the others that, to the uttermost of the strength
     and means given us, and not regarding any selfish or private
     interest, our substance or our lives, we will make good the said
     Covenant; and we now bind ourselves in the steadfast determination
     that, whatever may befall, no such domination shall be thrust upon
     us, and in the hope that by the blessing of God our Union with
     Great Britain, upon which are fixed our affections and trust, may
     yet be maintained, and that for ourselves and for our children, for
     this Province and for the whole of Ireland, peace, prosperity, and
     civil and religious liberty may be secured under the Parliament of
     the United Kingdom and of the King whose faithful subjects we are
     and will continue all our days."

It had been known for some weeks that it was the intention of the Ulster
Loyalists to dedicate the 28th of September as "Ulster Day," by holding
special religious services, after which they were to "pledge themselves
to a solemn Covenant," the terms of which were not yet published or,
indeed, finally settled. This announcement, which appeared in the Press
on the 17th of August, was hailed in England as an effective reply to
the recent "turgid homily" of Mr. Churchill, but there was really no
connection between them in the intentions of Ulstermen, who had been too
much occupied with their own affairs to pay much attention to the attack
upon them in the Dundee letters. The Ulster Day celebration was to be
preceded by a series of demonstrations in many of the chief centres of
Ulster, at which the purpose of the Covenant was to be explained to the
people by the leader and his colleagues, and a number of English Peers
and Members of Parliament arranged to show their sympathy with the
policy embodied in the Covenant by taking part in the meetings.

It would not be true to say that the enthusiasm displayed at this great
series of meetings in September eclipsed all that had gone before, for
it would not be possible for human beings greatly to exceed in that
emotion what had been seen at Craigavon and Balmoral; but they exhibited
an equally grave sense of responsibility, and they proved that the same
exaltation of mind, the same determined spirit, that had been displayed
by Loyalists collected in the populous capital of their province,
equally animated the country towns and rural districts.

The campaign opened at Enniskillen on the 18th of September, where the
leader was escorted by two squadrons of mounted and well-equipped yeomen
from the station to Portora Gate, at which point 40,000 members of
Unionist Clubs drawn from the surrounding agricultural districts marched
past him in military order. During the following nine days
demonstrations were held at Lisburn, Derry, Coleraine, Ballymena,
Dromore, Portadown, Crumlin, Newtownards, and Ballyroney, culminating
with a meeting in the Ulster Hall--loyalist headquarters--on the eve of
the signing of the Covenant on Ulster Day. At six of these meetings,
including, of course, the last, Sir Edward Carson was the principal
speaker, while all the Ulster Unionist Members of Parliament took part
in their several constituencies. Lord Londonderry was naturally
prominent among the speakers, and presided as usual, when the Duke of
Abercorn was prevented by illness from being present, in the Ulster
Hall. Mr. F.E. Smith, who had closely identified himself with the
Ulster Movement, delighting with his fresh and vigorous eloquence the
meetings at Balmoral and Blenheim, as well as the Orange Lodges whom he
had addressed on the 12th of July, crossed the Channel to lend a helping
hand, and spoke at five meetings on the tour. Others who took part--in
addition to local men like Mr. Thomas Sinclair and Mr. John Young, whose
high character always made their appearance on political platforms of
value to the cause they supported--were Lord Charles Beresford, Lord
Salisbury, Mr. James Campbell, Lord Hugh Cecil, Lord Willoughby de
Broke, and Mr. Harold Smith; while the Marquis of Hamilton and Lord
Castlereagh, by the part which they took in the programme, showed their
desire to carry on the traditions which identified the two leading
Ulster families with loyalist principles.

A single resolution, identical in the simplicity of its terms, was
carried without a dissenting voice at every one of these meetings: "We
hereby reaffirm the resolve of the great Ulster Convention of 1892: 'We
will not have Home Rule.'" These words became so familiar that the
laconic phrase "We won't have it," was on everybody's lips as the Alpha
and Omega of Ulster's attitude, and was sometimes heard with unexpected
abruptness in no very precise context. A ticket-collector, when clipping
the tickets of the party who were starting from Belfast in a saloon for
Enniskillen, made no remark and no sign of recognition till he reached
Carson, when he said almost in a whisper and without a glimmer of a
smile, as he took a clip out of the leader's ticket: "Tell the
station-master at Clones, Sir Edward, that we won't have it." He
doubtless knew that the political views of that misguided official were
of the wrong colour. A conversation overheard in the crowd at
Enniskillen before the speaking began was a curious example of the habit
so characteristic of Ulster--and indeed of other parts of Ireland
also--of thinking of

    "Old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago"

as if they had occurred last week, and were a factor to be taken into
account in the conduct of to-day. The demonstration was in the open air,
and the sunshine was gleaming on the grass of a hill close at hand. "It
'ud be a quare thing," said a peasant to his neighbour in the crowd, "if
the rebels would come out and hould a meetin' agin us on yon hill."
"What matter if they would," was the reply, "wouldn't we let on that we
won't have it? an' if that wouldn't do them, isn't there hundreds o'
King James's men at the bottom o' the lough, an' there's plenty o' room
yet." It was not spoken in jest, but in grim conviction that the issue
of 1689 was the issue of 1912, and that another Newtown Butler might
have to be fought.

This series of meetings in preparation for the Covenant brought Carson
much more closely in touch with the Loyalists in outlying districts than
he had been hitherto, and when it was over their wild devotion to him
personally equalled what it was in Belfast itself. The appeal made to
the hearts of men as quick as any living to detect and resent humbug or
boastfulness, by the simplicity, uncompromising directness, and courage
of his character was irresistible. He never spoke better than during
this tour of the Province. The Special Correspondent of _The Times_, who
sent to his paper vivid descriptive articles on each meeting, said in
his account of the meeting at Coleraine that "Sir Edward Carson was
vigorous, fresh, and picturesque. His command over the feelings of his
Ulster audiences is unquestionable, and never a phrase passes his lips
which does not tell." And when the proceedings of the meeting were over,
the same observer "was at the station to witness the 'send-off' of the
leaders, and for ten minutes before the train for Belfast came in the
tumult of the cheers, the thanks, and the farewells never faltered for
an instant."[33] Two days later another English commentator declared
that "The Ulster campaign has been conducted up to the present with a
combination of wisdom, ability, and restraint which has delighted all
the Unionists of the province, and exasperated their Radical and
Nationalist enemies. From its opening at Enniskillen not a speech has
been delivered unworthy of a great movement in defence of civil and
religious liberty."[34]

It was characteristic of Sir Edward Carson that neither at these
meetings nor at any time did he use his unmatched power of persuasion to
induce his followers to come forward and sign the Covenant. On the
contrary, he rather warned them only to do so after mature reflection
and with full comprehension of the responsibility which signature would
entail. He told the Unionist Council a few days before the memorable
28th of September: "How often have I thought over this Covenant--how
many hours have I spent, before it was published that we would have one,
in counting the cost that may result! How many times have I thought of
what it may mean to all that we care about up here! Does any man believe
that I lightly took this matter in hand without considering with my
colleagues all that it may mean either in the distant or the not too
distant future? No, it is the gravest matter in all the grave matters in
the various offices I have held that I have ever had to consider." And
he went on to advise the delegates, "responsible men from every district
in Ulster, that it is your duty, when you go back to your various
districts, to warn your people who trust you that, in entering into this
solemn obligation, they are entering into a matter which, whatever may
happen in the future, is the most serious matter that has ever
confronted them in the course of their lives."[35]

A political campaign such as that of September 1912 could not be a
success, however spontaneous the enthusiasm of the people, however
effective the oratory, unless the arrangements were based on good
organisation. It was by general consent a triumph of organisation, the
credit for which was very largely due to Mr. Richard Dawson Bates, the
Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council. Sir Edward Carson himself very
wisely paid little attention to detail; happily there was no need for
him to do so, for he had beside him in Captain James Craig and Mr. Bates
two men with real genius for organisation, and indefatigable in
relieving "the chief" of all unnecessary work and worry. Mr. Bates had
all the threads of a complex network of organisation in his hands; he
kept in close touch with leading Unionists in every district; he always
knew what was going on in out-of-the-way corners, and where to turn for
the right man for any particular piece of work. Anyone whose duty it has
been to manage even a single political demonstration on a large scale
knows what numerous details have to be carefully foreseen and provided
for. In Ulster a succession of both outdoor and indoor demonstrations,
seldom if ever equalled in this country in magnitude and complexity of
arrangement, besides an amazing quantity of other miscellaneous work
inseparable from the conduct of a political movement in which crisis
followed crisis with bewildering rapidity, were managed year after year
from Mr. Bates's office in the Old Town Hall with a quiet,
unostentatious efficiency which only those could appreciate who saw the
machine at work and knew the master mechanic behind it. Of this
efficiency the September demonstrations in 1912 were a conspicuous

Nor did the Loyalist women of Ulster lag an inch behind the men either
in organisation or in zeal for the Unionist cause, and their keenness at
every town visited in this September tour was exuberantly displayed.
Women had not yet been enfranchised, of course, and the Ulster women had
shown but little interest in the suffragette agitation which was raging
at this time in England; but they had organised themselves in defence of
the Union very effectively on parallel lines to the men, and if the
latter had needed any stimulus to their enthusiasm they would certainly
have got it from their mothers, sisters, and wives. The Marchioness of
Londonderry threw herself whole-heartedly into the movement. Having
always ably seconded her husband's many political and social activities,
she made no exception in regard to his devotion to Ulster. Lord
Londonderry, she was fond of saying, was an Ulsterman born and bred, and
she was an Ulsterwoman "by adoption and grace." Her energy was
inexhaustible, and her enthusiasm contagious; she used her influence and
her wonderful social gifts unsparingly in the Unionist cause.

A meeting of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council, of which the Dowager
Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, widow of the great diplomat, was
president, was held on the 17th of September, the day before the
demonstration at Enniskillen, when a resolution proposed by Lady
Londonderry declaring the determination of Ulster women to stand by
their men in the policy to be embodied in the Covenant, was carried with
immense enthusiasm and without dissent. No women were so vehement in
their support of the Loyalist cause as the factory workers, who were
very numerous in Belfast. Indeed, their zeal, and their manner of
displaying it, seemed sometimes to illustrate a well-known line of
Kipling's, considered by some to be anything but complimentary to the
female sex. Anyhow, there was no divergence of opinion or sympathy
between the two sexes in Ulster on the question of Union or Home Rule;
and the women who everywhere attended the meetings in large numbers were
no idle sightseers--though they were certainly hero-worshippers of the
Ulster leader--but a genuine political force to be taken into account.

It was during the September campaign that the "wooden guns" and "dummy
rifles" appeared, which excited so much derision in the English Radical
Press, whose editors little dreamed that the day was not far distant
when Mr. Asquith's Government would be glad enough to borrow those same
dummy rifles for training the new levies of Kitchener's Army to fight
the Germans. So far as the Ulstermen were concerned the ridicule of
their quasi-military display and equipment never had any sting in it.
They were conscious of the strength given to their cause by the
discipline and military organisation of the volunteers, even if the
weapons with which they drilled should never be replaced by the real
thing; and many of them had an instinctive belief that their leaders
would see to it that they were effectively armed all in good time. And
so with grim earnestness they recruited the various battalions of
volunteers, gave up their evenings to drilling, provided cyclist corps,
signalling corps, ambulances and nurses; they were proud to receive
their leader with guards of honour at the station, and bodyguards while
he drove through their town or district to the meetings where he spoke.
Few of them probably ever so much as heard of the gibes of _The Irish
News_, _The Daily News_, or _The Westminster Gazette_ at the "royal
progresses" of "King Carson"; but they would have been in no way upset
by them if they had, for they were far too much in earnest themselves to
pay heed to the cheap sneers of others. At each one of the September
meetings there was a military setting to the business of the day. At
Enniskillen Carson was conducted by a cavalry escort to the ground where
he was to address the people; at Coleraine, Portadown, and other places
volunteers lined the route and marched in column to and from the
meeting. They were, it is true, but "half-baked" levies, with more zeal
than knowledge of military duties. But competent critics--and there were
many such amongst the visitors--praised their bearing and physique and
the creditable measure of discipline they had already acquired. And it
must be remembered that in September 1912 the Ulster Volunteer Force was
still in its infancy. In the following two years its improvement in
efficiency was very marked; and within three years of the time when its
battalions paraded before Sir Edward Carson, with dummy rifles, and
marched before him to his meetings in Lisburn, Newtownards, Enniskillen,
and Belfast on the eve of the Covenant, those same men had gloriously
fought against the flower of the Prussian Army, and many of them had
fallen in the battle of the Somme.

The final meeting in the Ulster Hall on Friday the 27th of September was
an impressive climax to the tour. Many English journalists and other
visitors were present, and some of them admitted that, in spite of all
they had heard of what an Ulster Hall meeting was like, they were
astonished by the soul-stirring fervour they witnessed, and especially
by the wonderful spectacle presented at the overflow meeting in the
street outside, which was packed as far as the eye could reach in either
direction with upturned faces, eager to catch the words addressed to
them from a platform erected for the speakers outside an upper window of
the building.[36]

Messages of sympathy and approval at this supreme moment were read from
Mr. Bonar Law and Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Long, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Austen
Chamberlain. Then, after brief speeches by four local Belfast men, one
of whom was a representative of Labour, and while the audience were
waiting eagerly for the speech of their leader, there occurred what _The
Times_ next day described as "two entirely delightful, and, as far as
the crowd was concerned, two entirely unexpected episodes." The first
was the presentation to Sir Edward Carson of a faded yellow silk banner
by Colonel Wallace, Grand Master of the Belfast Orangemen, who explained
that it was the identical banner that had been carried before King
William III at the battle of the Boyne, and was now lent by its owner, a
lineal descendant of the original standard-bearer, to be carried before
Carson to the signing of the Covenant; the second was the presentation
to the leader of a silver key, symbolic of Ulster as "the key of the
situation," and a silver pen wherewith to sign the Covenant on the
morrow, by Captain James Craig. "The two incidents," continued the
Correspondent of _The Times_, "were followed by the audience with
breathless excitement, and made a remarkably effective prelude to Sir
Edward Carson's speech. Premeditated, no doubt, that incident of the
banner--yet entirely graceful, entirely fitting to the spirit of the
occasion--a plan carried through with the sense of ceremony which
Ulstermen seem to have always at their command in moments of emotion."

And if ever there was a "moment of emotion" for the Loyalists of
Ulster--those descendants of the Plantation men who had been
deliberately sent to Ireland with a commission from the first sovereign
of a united Britain to uphold British interests, British honour, and the
Reformed Faith across the narrow sea--Loyalists who were conscious that
throughout the generations they had honestly striven to be faithful to
their mission--if ever in their long and stormy history they experienced
a "moment of emotion," it was assuredly on this evening before the
signing of their Covenant.

The speeches delivered by their leader and others were merely a vent for
that emotion. There was nothing that could be said about their cause
that they did not know already; but all felt that the heart of the
matter was touched--the whole situation, so far as they were concerned,
summed up in a single sentence of Carson's speech: "We will take
deliberately a step forward, not in defiance but in defence; and the
Covenant which we will most willingly sign to-morrow will be a great
step forward, in no spirit of aggression, in no spirit of ascendancy,
but with a full knowledge that, if necessary, you and I--you trusting
me, and I trusting you--will follow out everything that this Covenant
means to the very end, whatever the consequences." Every man and woman
who heard these words was filled with an exalted sense of the solemnity
of the occasion. The mental atmosphere was not that of a political
meeting, but of a religious service--and, in fact, the proceedings had
been opened by prayer, as had become the invariable custom on such
occasions in Ulster. It was felt to be a time of individual preparation
for the _Sacramentum_ of the following day, which Protestant Ulster had
set apart as a day of self-dedication to a cause for which they were
willing to make any sacrifice.


[28] _The Scotsman_, November 2nd, 1911.

[29] See Sir B. Carson's speech in _Belfast Newsletter_, September 24th,

[30] See _ante_, p. 53.

[31] See p. 106.

[32] See p. 248.

[33] _The Times_, September 23rd, 1912.

[34] _The Daily Telegraph_, September 25th, 1912.

[35] _Belfast Newsletter_, September 24th, 1912.

[36] The article which appeared on the following Sunday in _The
Observer_, showed how profoundly a distinguished London editor and
writer had been moved by what he saw in Belfast.



Ulster Day, Saturday the 28th of September, 1912, was kept as a day of
religious observance by the Northern Loyalists. So far as the
Protestants of all denominations were concerned, Ulster was a province
at prayer on that memorable Saturday morning. In Belfast, not only the
services which had more or less of an official character--those held in
the Cathedral, in the Ulster Hall, in the Assembly Hall--but those held
in nearly all the places of worship in the city, were crowded with
reverent worshippers. It was the same throughout the country towns and
rural districts--there was hardly a village or hamlet where the parish
church and the Presbyterian and Methodist meeting-houses were not
attended by congregations of unwonted numbers and fervour. Not that
there was any of the religious excitement such as accompanies revivalist
meetings; it was simply that a population, naturally religious-minded,
turned instinctively to divine worship as the fitting expression of
common emotion at a moment of critical gravity in their history. "One
noteworthy feature," commented upon by one of the English newspaper
correspondents in a despatch telegraphed during the day, "is the silence
of the great shipyards. In these vast industrial establishments on both
sides of the river, 25,000 men were at work yesterday performing their
task at the highest possible pressure, for the order-books of both firms
are full of orders. Now there is not the sound of a hammer; all is as
silent as the grave. The splendid craftsmen who build the largest ships
in the world have donned their Sunday clothes, and, with Unionist
buttons on the lapels of their coats, or Orange sashes on their
shoulders, are about to engage on what to them is an even more important
task." He also noticed that although the streets were crowded there was
no excitement, for "the average Ulsterman performs his religious and
political duties with calm sobriety. He has no time to-day for mirth or
merriment, for every minute is devoted to proving that he is still the
same man--devoted to the Empire, to the King, and Constitution."[37]

There is at all times in Ulster far less sectarian enmity between the
Episcopal and other Reformed Churches than in England; on Ulster Day the
complete harmony and co-operation between them was a marked feature of
the observances. At the Cathedral in Belfast the preacher was the Bishop
of Down,[38] while a Presbyterian minister representing the Moderator of
the General Assembly, and the President of the Methodist College took
part in the conduct of the service. At the Ulster Hall the same unity
was evidenced by a similar co-operation between clergy of the three
denominations, and also at the Assembly Hall (a Presbyterian place of
worship), where Dr. Montgomery, the Moderator, was assisted by a
clergyman of the Church of Ireland representing the Bishop.

The service in the Ulster Hall was attended by Sir Edward Carson, the
Lord Mayor of Belfast (Mr. McMordie, M.P.), most of the distinguished
visitors from England, and by those Ulster members whose constituencies
were in or near the city; those representing country seats went thither
to attend local services and to sign the Covenant with their own

One small but significant detail in the day's proceedings was much
noticed as a striking indication of the instinctive realisation by the
crowd of the exceptional character of the occasion. Bedford Street,
where the Ulster Hall is, was densely packed with spectators, but when
the leader arrived, instead of the hurricane of cheers that invariably
greeted his appearance in the streets, there was nothing but a general
uncovering of heads and respectful silence. It is true that the people
abundantly compensated themselves for this moment of self-restraint
later on, until in the evening one wondered how human throats could
survive so many hours of continuous strain; but the contrast only made
the more remarkable that almost startling silence before the religious
service began.

The "sense of ceremony" which _The Times_ Correspondent on another
occasion had declared to be characteristic of Ulstermen "in moments of
emotion," was certainly displayed conspicuously on Ulster Day. Ceremony
at large public functions is naturally cast in a military
mould--marching men, bands of music, display of flags, guards of honour,
and so forth--and although on this occasion there was, it is true, more
than mere decorative significance in the military frame to the picture,
it was an admirably designed and effective spectacle. It is but a few
hundred yards from the Ulster Hall to the City Hall, where the signing
of the Covenant was to take place. When the religious service ended,
about noon, Sir Edward Carson and his colleagues proceeded from one hall
to the other on foot. The Boyne standard, which had been presented to
the leader the previous evening, was borne before him to the City Hall.
He was escorted by a guard consisting of a hundred men from the Orange
Lodges of Belfast and a like number representing the Unionist clubs of
the city. These clubs had also provided a force of 2,500 men, whose
duty, admirably performed throughout the day, was to protect the gardens
and statuary surrounding the City Hall from injury by the crowd, and to
keep a clear way to the Hall for the endless stream of men entering to
sign the Covenant.

The City Hall in Belfast is a building of which Ulster is justly proud.
It is, indeed, one of the few modern public buildings in the British
Islands in which the most exacting critic of architecture finds nothing
to condemn. Standing in the central site of the city with ample garden
space in front, its noble proportions and beautiful façade and dome fill
the view from the broad thoroughfare of Donegal Place. The main entrance
hall, leading to a fine marble stairway, is circular in shape,
surrounded by a marble colonnade carrying the dome, to which the hall is
open through the full height of the building. It was in this central
space beneath the dome that a round table covered with the Union Jack
was placed for the signing of the Covenant by the Ulster leaders and the
most prominent of their supporters.

To those Englishmen who have never been able to grasp the Ulster point
of view, and who have, therefore, persisted in regarding the Ulster
Movement as a phase of party politics in the ordinary sense, it must
appear strange and even improper that the City Hall, the official
quarters of the Corporation, should have been put to the use for which
it was lent on Ulster Day, 1912. The vast majority of the citizens,
whose property it was, thought it could be used for no better purpose
than to witness their signatures to a deed securing to them their
birthright in the British Empire.

At the entrance to the City Hall Sir Edward Carson was received by the
Lord Mayor and members of the Corporation wearing their robes of office,
and by the Harbour Commissioners, the Water Board, and the Poor Law
Guardians, by whom he was accompanied into the hall. The text of
Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant had been printed on sheets with
places for ten signatures on each; the first sheet lay on the table for
Edward Carson to sign.

No man but a dullard without a spark of imagination could have witnessed
the scene presented at that moment without experiencing a thrill which
he would have found it difficult to describe. The sunshine, sending a
beam through the stained glass of the great window on the stairway,
threw warm tints of colour on the marbles of the columns and the
tesselated floor of the hall, sparkled on the Lord Mayor's chain, lent a
rich glow to the scarlet gowns of the City Fathers, and lit up the red
and the blue and the white of the Imperial flag which draped the table
and which was the symbol of so much that they revered to those who stood
looking on. They were grouped in a semicircle behind the leader as he
stepped forward to sign his name--men of substance, leaders in the
commercial life of a great industrial city, elderly men many of them,
lovers of peace and order; men of mark who had served the Crown, like
Londonderry and Campbell and Beresford; Doctors of Divinity, guides and
teachers of religion, like the Bishop and the Moderator of the General
Assembly; Privy Councillors; members of the Imperial Parliament;
barristers and solicitors, shopkeepers and merchants,--there they all
stood, silent witnesses of what all felt to be one of the deeds that
make history, assembled to set their hands, each in his turn, to an
Instrument which, for good or evil, would influence the destiny of their
race; while behind them through the open door could be seen a vast
forest of human heads, endless as far as eye could reach, every one of
whom was in eager accord with the work in hand, and whose blended
voices, while they waited to perform their own part in the great
transaction, were carried to the ears of those in the hall like the
inarticulate noise of moving waters.

When Carson had signed the Covenant he handed the silver pen to
Londonderry, and the latter's name was followed in order by the
signatures of the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Lord Bishop of
Down, Connor, and Dromore (afterwards Primate of All Ireland), the Dean
of Belfast (afterwards Bishop of Down), the General Secretary of the
Presbyterian Church, the President of the Methodist Conference, the
ex-Chairman of the Congregational Union, Viscount Castlereagh, and Mr.
James Chambers, M.P. for South Belfast; and the rest of the company,
including the Right Hon. Thomas Sinclair and the veteran Sir William
Ewart, as well as the members of the Corporation and other public
authorities and boards, having attached their signatures to other
sheets, the general public waiting outside were then admitted.

The arrangements for signature by the general public had fully taxed the
organising ability of the specially appointed Ulster Day Committee, and
their three hon. secretaries, Mr. Dawson Bates, Mr. McCammon, and Mr.
Frank Hall. They made provision for signatures to be received in many
hundreds of localities throughout Ulster, but it was impossible to
estimate closely the numbers that would require accommodation at the
City Hall. Lines of desks, giving a total desk-space of more than a
third of a mile, were placed along both sides of the corridors on the
upper and lower floors of the building, which enabled 540 persons to
sign the Covenant simultaneously. It all worked wonderfully smoothly,
largely because every individual in the multitude outside was anxious to
help in maintaining orderly procedure, and behaved with the greatest
patience and willingness to follow directions. The people were admitted
to the Hall in batches of 400 or 500 at a time, and as there was no
confusion there was no waste of time. All through the afternoon and up
to 11 p.m., when the Hall was closed, there was an unceasing flow of men
eager to become Covenanters. Immense numbers who belonged to the Orange
Lodges, Unionist clubs, or other organised bodies, marched to the Hall
in procession, and those whose route lay through Royal Avenue had an
opportunity, of which they took the fullest advantage, of cheering
Carson, who watched the memorable scene from the balcony of the Reform
Club, the quondam headquarters of Ulster Liberalism.

Prominent and influential men in the country districts refrained from
coming to Belfast, preferring to sign the Covenant with their neighbours
in their own localities. The Duke of Abercorn, who had been prevented by
failing health from taking an active part in the movement of late, and
whose life unhappily was drawing to a close, signed the Covenant at
Barons Court; his son, the Marquis of Hamilton, M.P. for Derry, attached
his signature in the Maiden City together with the Bishop; another
prelate, the Bishop of Clogher, signed at Enniskillen with the Grand
Master of the Orangemen, Lord Erne; at Armagh, the Primate of All
Ireland, the Dean, and Sir John Lonsdale, M.P. (afterwards Lord
Armaghdale), headed the list of signatures; the Provost of Trinity
College signed in Dublin; and at Ballymena the veteran Presbyterian
Privy Councillor, Mr. John Young, and his son Mr. William Robert Young,
Hon. Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council, and for thirty years one
of the most zealous and active workers for the Loyalist cause, were the
first to sign. But a more notable Covenanter than any of these local
leaders was Lord Macnaghten, one of the most illustrious of English
Judges, whose great position as Lord of Appeal did not deter him from
wholly identifying himself with his native Ulster, by accepting the full
responsibility of the signatories of the Covenant.

Ulstermen living in other parts of Ireland, and in Great Britain, were
not forgotten. Arrangements were made enabling such to sign the Covenant
in Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol,
and York. Two curious details may be added, which no reader who is alive
to the picturesqueness of historical associations will deem too trivial
to be worth recording. In Edinburgh a number of Ulstermen signed the
Covenant in the old Greyfriars' Churchyard on the "Covenanters' Stone,"
the well-known memorial of the Scottish Covenant of the seventeenth
century; and the other incident was that, among some twenty men who
signed the Covenant in Belfast with their own blood, Major Crawford was
able to claim that he was following a family tradition, inasmuch as a
lineal ancestor had in the same grim fashion emphasised his adherence to
the Solemn League and Covenant in 1638.

The most careful precautions were taken to ensure that all who signed
were properly entitled to do so, by requiring evidence to be furnished
of their Ulster birth or domicile, and references able to corroborate
it. The declaration in the Covenant itself that the person signing had
not already done so was in order to make sure that none of the
signatures should be duplicates. When the lists were closed--they were
kept open for some days after Ulster Day--they were very carefully
scrutinised by a competent staff at the Old Town Hall, and it is certain
that the numbers as eventually published included no duplicate signature
and none that was not genuine. Precisely the same care was taken in the
case of the Declaration by which, in words similar to the Covenant but
without its pledge for definite action, the women of Ulster associated
themselves with the men "in their uncompromising opposition to the Home
Rule Bill now before Parliament."

It was not until the 22nd of November that the scrutiny and verification
of the signatures was completed, and the actual numbers published. They
were as follows: In Ulster itself 218,206 men had registered themselves
as Covenanters, and 228,991 women had signed the Declaration; in the
rest of Ireland and in Great Britain 19,162 men and 5,055 women had
signed. Thus, a grand total of 471,414 Ulster men and women gave their
adherence to the policy of which the Ulster Covenant was the solemn
pledge. To every one of these was given a copy of the document printed
on parchment, to be retained as a memento, and in thousands of cottages
throughout Ulster the framed Covenant hangs to-day in an honoured place,
and is the householder's most treasured possession.

Although the main business of the day was over, so far as Carson and the
other leaders were concerned, when they had signed the Covenant in the
City Hall at noon, every hour, and every minute in the hour, until they
took their departure in the Liverpool packet in the evening, was full of
incident and excitement. The multitude in the streets leading to the
City Hall was so densely packed that they had great difficulty in making
their way to the Reform Club, where they were to be entertained at
lunch. And, as every man and woman in the crowd was desperately anxious
the moment they saw him to get near enough to Carson to shake him by the
hand, the pressure of the swaying mass of humanity was a positive
danger. Happily the behaviour of the people was as exemplary as it was
tumultuously enthusiastic. _The Times_ Special Correspondent thus summed
up his impressions of the scene:

     "Belfast did all that a city could do for such an occasion. I do
     not well see how its behaviour could have been more impressive. The
     tirelessness of the crowd--it was that perhaps which struck me
     most; and, secondly, the good conduct of the crowd. Belfast had one
     of the lowest of its Saturday records for drunkenness and
     disorderliness yesterday. I was in the Reform Club between one and
     three o'clock. Again and again I went out on the balcony and
     watched the streets. I saw the procession of thousands upon
     thousands come down Royal Avenue. But this was not the only line of
     march, for all Belfast was now converging upon the City Hall, the
     arrangements in which must have been elaborate. It was a procession
     a description of which would have been familiar to the Belfast
     public, but the like of which is only seen in Ulster."

The tribute here paid to the conduct of the Belfast crowd was well
merited. But in this respect the day of the Covenant was not so
exceptional as it would have been before the beginning of the Ulster
Movement. Before that period neither Belfast nor any part of Ulster
could have been truthfully described as remarkable for its sobriety. But
by the universal testimony of those qualified to judge in such
matters--police, clergy of all denominations, and workers for social
welfare--the political movement had a sobering and steadying influence
on the people, which became more and more noticeable as the movement
developed, and especially as the volunteers grew in numbers and
discipline. The "man in the street" gained a sense of responsibility
from the feeling that he formed one of a great company whom it was his
wish not to discredit, and he found occupation for mind and body which
diminished the temptations of idle hours.

From the Reform Club Carson, Londonderry, Beresford, and F.E. Smith went
to the Ulster Club, just across the street, where they dined as the
guests of Lord Mayor McMordie before leaving for Liverpool; and it was
outside that dingy building that the enthusiasm of the people reached a
climax. None who witnessed it can ever forget the scene, which the
English newspaper correspondents required all their superlatives to
describe for London readers next day. Those superlatives need not be
served up again here. One or two bald facts will perhaps give to anyone
possessing any faculty of visualisation as clear an idea as they could
get from any number of dithyrambic pages. The distance from the Ulster
Club to the quay where the Liverpool steamer is berthed is ordinarily
less than a ten minutes' walk. The wagonette in which the Ulster leader
and his friends were drawn by human muscles took three minutes short of
an hour to traverse it. It was estimated that into that short space of
street some 70,000 to 100,000 people had managed to jam themselves.
Movement was almost out of the question, yet everyone within reach
tried to press near enough to grasp hands with the occupants of the
carriage. When at last the shed was reached the people could not bear to
let Carson disappear through the gates. _The Times_ Correspondent heard
them shout, "Don't leave us," "You mustn't leave us," and, he added, "It
was seriously meant; it was only when someone pointed out that Sir
Edward Carson had work to do in England for Ulster, that the crowd
finally gave way and made an opening for their hero."[39] There had been
speeches from the balcony of the Reform Club in the afternoon; speeches
from the window of the Ulster Club in the evening; speeches outside the
dock gates; speeches from the deck of the steamer before departure;
speeches by Carson, by Londonderry, by F.E. Smith, by Lord Charles
Beresford--and the purport of one and all of them could be summed up in
the familiar phrase, "We won't have it." But this simple theme,
elaborated through all the modulations of varied oratory, was one of
which the Belfast populace was no more capable of becoming weary than is
the music lover of tiring of a recurrent _leitmotif_ in a Wagner opera.

At last the ship moved off, and speech was no longer possible. It was
replaced by song, "Rule Britannia"; then, as the space to the shore
widened, "Auld Lang Syne"; and finally, when the figures lining the quay
were growing invisible in the darkness, those on board heard thousands
of Loyalists fervently singing "God save the King."


[37] _The Standard_, September 30th, 1912.

[38] Dr. D'Arcy, now (1922) Primate of All Ireland.

[39] _The Times_, September 30th, 1912.



No part of Great Britain displayed a more constant and whole-hearted
sympathy with the attitude of Ulster than the city of Liverpool. There
was much in common between Belfast and the great commercial port on the
Mersey. Both were the home of a robust Protestantism, which perhaps was
reinforced by the presence in both of a quarter where Irish Nationalists
predominated. Just as West Belfast gave a seat in Parliament to the most
forceful of the younger Nationalist generation, Mr. Devlin, the Scotland
Division of Liverpool had for a generation been represented by Mr. T.P.
O'Connor, one of the veteran leaders of the Parnellite period. In each
case the whole of the rest of the city was uncompromisingly
Conservative, and among the members for Liverpool at the time was Mr.
F.E. Smith, unquestionably the most brilliant of the rising generation
of Conservatives, who had already conspicuously identified himself with
the Ulster Movement, and was a close friend as well as a political
adherent of Carson. Among local leaders of opinion in Liverpool Alderman
Salvidge exercised a wide and powerful influence on the Unionist side.

It was in accordance with the fitness of things, therefore, that
Liverpool should have wished to associate itself in no doubtful manner
with the men who had just subscribed to the Covenant on the other side
of the Channel. Having left Belfast amid the wonderful scenes described
in the last chapter, Carson, Londonderry, F.E. Smith, Beresford, and the
rest of the distinguished visitors awoke next morning--if the rollers of
the Irish Sea permitted sleep--in the oily waters of the Mersey, to find
at the landing-stage a crowd that in dimensions and demeanour seemed to
be a duplicate of the one they had left outside the dock gates at
Belfast. Except that the point round which everything had centred in
Belfast, the signing of the Covenant, was of course missing in
Liverpool, the Unionists of Liverpool were not to be outdone by the
Ulstermen themselves in their demonstration of loyalty to the Union.

The packet that carried the group of leaders across the Channel happened
to be, appropriately enough, the R.M.S. _Patriotic_. As she steamed
slowly up the river towards Prince's Landing-stage in the chilly
atmosphere of early morning it was at once evident that more than the
members of the deputation who had arranged to present addresses to
Carson were out to welcome him to Liverpool, and when the workers who
thronged the river bank started singing "O God, our help in ages past,"
the sound was strangely familiar in ears fresh from Ulster.

An address from the Unionist working men of Liverpool and district,
presented by Alderman Salvidge, thanked Carson for his "magnificent
efforts to preserve the integrity of the Empire," and assured him that
they, "Unionist workers of the port which is connected with Belfast in
so many ways, stand by Ulster in this great struggle." Scenes of intense
enthusiasm in the streets culminated in a monster demonstration in Shiel
Park, at which it was estimated that close on 200,000 people were
present. In all the speeches delivered and the resolutions adopted
during this memorable Liverpool visit the same note was sounded, of full
approval of the Covenanters and of determination to support them
whatever might befall.

The events of the last three months, and especially the signing of the
Covenant, had concentrated on Ulster the attention of the whole United
Kingdom, not to speak of America and the British oversea Dominions. This
was not of unmixed advantage to the cause for which Ulster was making so
determined a stand. There was a tendency more and more to regard the
opposition to Irish Home Rule as an Ulster question, and nothing else.
The Unionist protagonists of the earlier, the Gladstonian, period of the
struggle, men like Salisbury, Randolph Churchill, Devonshire,
Chamberlain, and Goschen, had treated it mainly as an Imperial question,
which it certainly was. In their eyes the Irish Loyalists, of whom the
Ulstermen were the most important merely because they happened to be
geographically concentrated, were valuable allies in a contest vital to
the safety and prosperity of the British Empire; but, although the
particular interests of these Loyalists were recognised as possessing a
powerful claim on British sympathy and support, this was a consideration
quite secondary in comparison with the larger aspects of Imperial policy
raised by the demand for Home Rule. It was an unfortunate result of the
prominence into which Ulster was forced after the introduction of Mr.
Asquith's measure that these larger aspects gradually dropped away, and
the defence of the Union came to be identified almost completely in
England and Scotland with support of the Ulster Loyalists. It was to
this aspect of the case that Mr. Kipling gave prominence in the poem
published on the day of the Balmoral meeting,[40] although no one was
less prone than he to magnify a "side-show" in Imperial policy; and it
was the same note that again was sounded on the eve of the Covenant by
another distinguished English poet. The general feeling of bewilderment
and indignation that the only part of Ireland which had consistently
upheld the British connection should now be not only thrown over by the
British Government but denounced for its obstinate refusal to co-operate
in a separatist movement, was finely expressed in Mr. William Watson's
challenging poem, "Ulster's Reward," which appeared in _The Times_ a few
days before the signing of the Covenant in Belfast:

    "What is the wage the faithful earn?
    What is a recompense fair and meet?
    Trample their fealty under your feet--
    That, is a fitting and just return.
      Flout them, buffet them, over them ride,
      Fling them aside!

    "Ulster is ours to mock and spurn,
    Ours to spit upon, ours to deride.
    And let it be known and blazoned wide
    That this is the wage the faithful earn:
      Did she uphold us when others defied?
    Then fling her aside.

    "Where on the Earth was the like of it done
    In the gaze of the sun?
    She had pleaded and prayed to be counted still
    As one of our household through good and ill,
      And with scorn they replied;
    Jeered at her loyalty, trod on her pride,
      Spurned her, repulsed her,
      Great-hearted Ulster;
    Flung her aside."

Appreciating to the full the sympathy and support which their cause
received from leading men of letters in England, it was not the fault of
the Ulstermen themselves that the larger Imperial aspects of the
question thus dropped into the background. They continually strove to
make Englishmen realise that far more was involved than loyal support of
England's only friends in Ireland; they quoted such pronouncements as
Admiral Mahan's that "it is impossible for a military man, or a
statesman with appreciation of military conditions, to look at a map and
not perceive that if the ambition of the Irish Separatists were
realised, it would be even more threatening to the national life of
Britain than the secession of the South was to that of the American
Republic.... An independent Parliament could not safely be trusted even
to avowed friends"; and they showed over and over again, quoting chapter
and verse from Nationalist utterances, and appealing to acknowledged
facts in recent and contemporary history, that it was not to "avowed
friends," but to avowed enemies, that Mr. Asquith was prepared to
concede an independent Parliament.

But those were the days before the rude awakening from the dream that
the world was to repose for ever in the soft wrappings of universal
peace. Questions of national defence bored Englishmen. The judgment of
the greatest strategical authority of the age weighed less than one of
Lord Haldane's verbose platitudes, and the urgent warnings of Lord
Roberts less than the impudent snub administered to him by an
Under-Secretary. Speakers on public platforms found that sympathy with
Ulster carried a more potent appeal to their audience than any other
they could make on the Irish question, and they naturally therefore
concentrated attention upon it. Liberals, excited alternately to fury
and to ridicule by the proceedings in Belfast, heaped denunciation on
Carson and the Covenant, thereby impelling their opponents to vehement
defence of both; and the result of all this was that before the end of
1912 the sun of Imperial policy which had drawn the homage of earlier
defenders of the Union was almost totally eclipsed by the moon of

When Parliament reassembled for the autumn session in October the Prime
Minister immediately moved a "guillotine" resolution for allotting time
for the remaining stages of the Home Rule Bill, and, in resisting this
motion, Mr. Bonar Law made one of the most convincing of his many
convincing speeches against the whole policy of the Bill. It stands for
all time as the complete demonstration of a proposition which he argued
over and over again--that Home Rule had never been submitted to the
British electorate, and that that fact alone was full justification for
Ulster's resolve to resist it. It was impossible for any democratic
Minister to refute the contention that even if the principle of the
Government's policy had been as frankly submitted to the electorate as
it had in fact been carefully withheld, it would still remain true that
the intensity of the Ulster opposition was itself a new factor in the
situation upon Which the people were entitled to be consulted. There was
a limit, said Mr. Bonar Law, to the obligation to submit to legally
constituted authority, and that limit was reached "in a free country
when a body of men, whether they call themselves a Cabinet or not,
propose to make a great change like this for which they have never
received the sanction of the people."

It was, however, thoroughly understood by every member of the House of
Commons that argument, no matter how irrefutable, had no effect on the
situation, which was governed by the simple fact that the life of the
Ministry depended on the good-will of the Nationalist section of the
Coalition, which rigorously demanded the passage of the Bill in the
current session, and feared nothing so much as the judgment of the
English people upon it. Consequently, under the guillotine, great blocks
of the Bill, containing the most far-reaching constitutional issues,
and matters vital to the political and economic structure of the centre
of the British Empire, were passed through the House of Commons by the
ringing of the division bells without a word of discussion, exactly as
they had come from the pen of the official draftsman, and destined under
the exigencies of the Parliament Act procedure to be forced through the
Legislature in the same raw condition in the two following sessions.

This last-mentioned fact suggested a consideration which weighed heavily
on the minds of the Ulster leaders as the year 1912 drew to a close, and
with it the debates on the Bill in Committee. Had the time come when
they ought to put forward in Parliament an alternative policy to the
absolute rejection of the Bill? They had not yet completely abandoned
hope that Ministers, however reluctantly, might still find it impossible
to stave off an appeal to the country; but the opposite hypothesis was
the more probable. If the Bill became law in its present form they would
have to fall back on the policy disclosed at Craigavon and embodied in
the Covenant. But, although it is true that they had supported Mr.
Agar-Robartes's amendment to exclude certain Ulster counties from the
jurisdiction to be set up in Dublin, the Ulster representatives were
reluctant to make proposals of their own which might be misrepresented
as a desire to compromise their hostility to the principle of Home Rule.
Under the Parliament Act procedure, however, they realised that no
material change would be allowed to be made in the Bill after it first
left the House of Commons, although two years would have to elapse
before it could reach the Statute-book; if they were to propound any
alternative to "No Home Rule" it was, therefore, a case of now or never.

Having regard to the extreme gravity of the course to be followed in
Ulster in the event of the measure passing into law, it was decided that
the most honest and straightforward thing to do was to put forward at
the juncture now reached a policy for dealing with Ulster separately
from the rest of Ireland. But in fulfilment of the promise, from which
he never deviated, to take no important step without first consulting
his supporters in Ulster, Carson went over to attend a meeting of the
Standing Committee in Belfast on the 13th of December, where he
explained fully the reasons why this policy was recommended by himself
and all his parliamentary colleagues. It was not accepted by the
Standing Committee without considerable discussion, but in the end the
decision was unanimous, and the resolution adopting it laid it down that
"in taking this course the Standing Committee firmly believes the
interests of Unionists in the three other provinces of Ireland will be
best conserved." In order to emphasise that the course resolved upon
implied no compromise of their opposition to the Bill as a whole, Sir
Edward Carson wrote a letter to the Prime Minister during the Christmas
recess, which was published in the Press, and which made this point
clear; and he pressed it home in the House of Commons on the 1st of
January, 1913, when he moved to exclude "the Province of Ulster" from
the operation of the Bill in a speech of wonderfully persuasive
eloquence which deeply impressed the House, and which was truly
described by Mr. Asquith as "very powerful and moving," and by Mr.
Redmond as "serious and solemn."

Carson's proposal was altogether different from what was subsequently
enacted in 1920. It was consistent with the uninterrupted demand of
Ulster to be let alone, it asked for no special privilege, except the
privilege, which was also claimed as an inalienable right, to remain a
part of the United Kingdom with full representation at Westminster and
nowhere else; it required the creation of no fresh subordinate
constitution raising the difficult question as to the precise area which
its jurisdiction could effectively administer.

Carson's amendment was, of course, rejected by the Government's
invariably docile majority, and on the 16th of January the Home Rule
Bill passed the third reading in the House of Commons, without the
smallest concession having been made to the Ulster opposition, or the
slightest indication as to how the Government intended to meet the
opposition of a different character which was being organised in the
North of Ireland.

When the Bill went to the Upper House at the end of January the whole
subject was threshed out in a series of exceedingly able speeches; but
the impotence of the Second Chamber under the Parliament Act gave an air
of pathetic unreality to the proceedings, which was neatly epitomised by
Lord Londonderry in the sentence: "The position is, that while the House
of Commons can vote but not speak, the Lords can speak but not vote."
Nevertheless, such speeches as those of the Archbishop of York, Earl
Grey, the Duke of Devonshire, and Lord Londonderry, were not without
effect on opinion outside. Earl Grey, an admitted authority on federal
constitutions, urged that if, as the Government were continually
assuring the country, Home Rule was the first step in the federalisation
of the United Kingdom, there was every reason why Ulster should be a
distinct unit in the federal system. The Archbishop dealt more fully
with the Ulster question. Admitting that he had formerly believed "that
this attitude of Ulster was something of a scarecrow made up out of old
and outworn prejudices," he had now to acknowledge that the men of
Ulster were "of all men the least likely to be 'drugged with the wine of
words,' and were men who of all other men mean and do what they say."
Behind all the glowing eloquence of Mr. Asquith and Mr. Redmond, he
discerned "this figure of Ulster, grim, determined, menacing, which no
eloquence can exorcise and no live statesmanship can ignore." If the
result of this legislation should be actual bloodshed, then, on
whomsoever might rest the responsibility for it, it would mean the
shattering of all the hopes of a united and contented Ireland which it
was the aim of the Bill to create. If Ulster made good her threat of
forcible resistance there was, said the Archbishop, one condition, and
one condition only, on which her coercion could be justified, and that
was that the Government "should have received from the people of this
country an authority clear and explicit" to carry it out.

But among the numerous striking passages in the debate which occupied
the Peers for four days, none was more telling than Lord Curzon's
picturesque description of how Ulster was to be treated. "You are
compelling Ulster," he said, "to divorce her present husband, to whom
she is not unfaithful, and you compel her to marry someone else whom she
cordially dislikes, with whom she does not want to live; and you do it
because she happens to be rich, and because her new partner has a large
and ravenous offspring to provide for. You are asking rather too much of
human nature."

That the Home Rule Bill would be rejected on second reading by the Lords
was a foregone conclusion, and it was so rejected by a majority of 257
on the 31st of January, 1913. The Bill then entered into its period of
gestation under the Parliament Act. The session did not come to an end
until the 7th of March, and the new session began three days afterwards.
It is unnecessary to follow the fortunes of the Bill in Parliament in
1913, for the process was purely mechanical, in order to satisfy the
requirements of the Parliament Act. The preparations for dealing with
the mischief it would work went forward with unflagging energy


[40] See _ante_, p. 79.



A story is told of Queen Victoria that in her youthful days, when
studying constitutional history, she once asked Lord Melbourne whether
under any circumstances citizens were justified in resisting legal
authority; to which the old courtier replied: "When asked that question
by a Sovereign of the House of Hanover I feel bound to answer in the
affirmative." If one can imagine a similar question being asked of an
Ulsterman by Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George, or Sir Edward Grey, in 1912,
the reply would surely have been that such a question asked by a
statesman claiming to be a guardian of Liberal principles and of the
Whig tradition could only be answered in the affirmative. This, at all
events, was the view of the late Duke of Devonshire, who more than any
other statesman of our time could claim to be a representative in his
own person of the Whig tradition handed down from 1688.[41] Passive
obedience has, indeed, been preached as a political dogma in the course
of English history, but never by apostles of Liberalism. Forcible
resistance to legally constituted authority, even when it involved
repudiation of existing allegiance, has often, both in our own and in
foreign countries, won the approval and sympathy of English Liberals. A
long line of illustrious names, from Cromwell and Lord Halifax in
England to Kossuth and Mazzini on the Continent, might be quoted in
support of such a proposition if anyone were likely to challenge it.

When, then, Liberals professed to be unutterably shocked by Ulster's
declared intention to resist Home Rule both actively and passively, they
could not have based their attitude on the principle that under no
circumstances could such resistance be morally justified. Indeed, in
the case in question, there were circumstances that would have made the
condemnation of Ulster by the English Liberal Party not a little
hypocritical if referred to any general ethical principle. For that
party had itself been for a generation in the closest political alliance
with Irishmen whose leader had boasted that they were as much rebels as
their fathers were in 1798, and whose power in Ireland had been built up
by long-sustained and systematic defiance of the law. Yet the same
politicians who had excused, if they had not applauded, the "Plan of
Campaign," and the organised boycotting and cattle-driving which had for
years characterised the agitation for Home Rule, were unspeakably
shocked when Ulster formed a disciplined Volunteer force which never
committed an outrage, and prepared to set up a Provisional Government
rather than be ruled by an assembly of cattle-drivers in Dublin.
Moreover, many of Mr. Asquith's supporters, and one at least of his most
distinguished colleagues in the Cabinet of 1912, had themselves
organised resistance to an Education Act which they disliked but had
been unable to defeat in Parliament.

Nevertheless, it must, of course, be freely admitted that the question
as to what conditions justify resistance to the legal authority in the
State--or rebellion, if the more blunt expression be preferred--is an
exceedingly difficult one to answer. It would sound cynical to say,
though Carlyle hardly shrinks from maintaining, that success, and
success alone, redeems rebellion from wickedness and folly. Yet it would
be difficult to explain on any other principle why posterity has
applauded the Parliamentarians of 1643 and the Whigs of 1688, while
condemning Monmouth and Charles Edward; or why Mr. Gladstone sympathised
with Jefferson Davis when he looked like winning and withdrew that
sympathy when he had lost. But if success is not the test, what is? Is
it the aim of the men who resist? The aim that appears honourable and
heroic to one onlooker appears quite the opposite to another, and so the
test resolves itself into a matter of personal partisanship.

That is probably as near as one can get to a solution of the question.
Those who happen to agree with the purpose for which a rebellion takes
place think the rebels in the right; those who disagree think them in
the wrong. As Mr. Winston Churchill succinctly puts it when commenting
on the strictures passed on his father for "inciting" Ulster to resist
Home Rule, "Constitutional authorities will measure their censures
according to their political opinions." He reminds us, moreover, that
when Lord Randolph was denounced as a "rebel in the skin of a Tory," the
latter "was able to cite the authority of Lord Althorp, Sir Robert Peel,
Mr. Morley, and the Prime Minister (Gladstone) himself, in support of
the contention that circumstances might justify morally, if not
technically, violent resistance and even civil war."[42]

To this distinguished catalogue of authorities an Ulster apologist might
have added the name of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in Mr. Asquith's
own Cabinet, who admitted in 1912 that "if the religion of the
Protestants were oppressed or their property despoiled they would be
right to fight[43];" which meant that Mr. Birrell did not condemn
fighting in itself, provided he were allowed to decide when the occasion
for it had arisen. Greater authorities than Mr. Birrell held that the
Ulster case for resistance was a good and valid one as it stood. No
English statesman of the last half-century has deservedly enjoyed a
higher reputation for political probity, combined with sound common
sense, than the eighth Duke of Devonshire. As long ago as 1893, when
this same issue had already been raised in circumstances much less
favourable to Ulster than after the passing of the Parliament Act in
1911, the Duke of Devonshire said:

     "The people of Ulster believe, rightly or wrongly, that under a
     Government responsible to an Imperial Parliament they possess at
     present the fullest security which they can possess of their
     personal freedom, their liberties, and their right to transact
     their own business in their own way. You have no right to offer
     them any inferior security to that; and if, after weighing the
     character of the Government which it is sought to impose upon them,
     they resolve that they are no longer bound to obey a law which does
     not give them equal and just protection with their fellow subjects,
     who can say--how at all events can the descendants of those who
     resisted King James II say, that they have not a right, if they
     think fit, to resist, if they think they have the power, the
     imposition of a Government put upon them by force?"[44]

All the same, there never was a community on the face of the earth to
whom "rebellion" in any real sense of the word was more hateful than to
the people of Ulster. They traditionally were the champions of "law and
order" in Ireland; they prided themselves above all things on their
"loyalty" to their King and to the British flag. And they never
entertained the idea that the movement which they started at Craigavon
in 1911, and to which they solemnly pledged themselves by their Covenant
in the following year, was in the slightest degree a departure from
their cherished "loyalty"--on the contrary, it was an emphatic assertion
of it. They held firmly, as Mr. Bonar Law and the whole Unionist party
in Great Britain held also, that Mr. Asquith and his Government were
forcing Home Rule upon them by unconstitutional methods. They did not
believe that loyalty in the best sense--loyalty to the Sovereign, to the
Empire, to the majesty of the law--required of them passive obedience to
an Act of Parliament placed by such means on the Statute-book, which
they were convinced, moreover, was wholly repugnant to the great
majority of the British people.

This aspect of the matter was admirably and soberly presented by _The
Times_ in one of the many weighty articles in which that great journal
gave undeviating support to the Ulster cause.

     "A free community cannot justly, or even constitutionally, be
     deprived of its privileges or its position in the realm by any
     measure that is not stamped with the considered and unquestionable
     approval of the great body of electors of the United Kingdom. Any
     attempt so to deprive them is a fraud upon their fundamental
     rights, which they are justified in resisting, as an act of
     violence, by any means in their power. This is elementary doctrine,
     borne out by the whole course of English history."[45]

That the position was paradoxical calls for no denial; but the pith of
the paradox lay in the fact that a movement denounced as "rebellious" by
its political opponents was warmly supported not only by large masses,
probably by the majority, of the people of this country, but by numbers
of individuals of the highest character, occupying stations of great
responsibility. Whatever may be thought of men engaged in actual
political conflict, whom some people appear to think capable of any
wickedness, no one can seriously suggest that men like Lord Macnaghten,
like the late and present Primates of Ireland, like the late Provost of
Trinity, like many other sober thinkers who supported Ulster, were men
who would lightly lend themselves to "rebellion," or any other wild and
irresponsible adventure. As _The Times_ very truly observed in a leading
article in 1912:

     "We remember no precedent in our domestic history since the
     Revolution of 1688 for a movement among citizens, law-abiding by
     temperament and habit, which resembles the present movement of the
     Ulster Protestants. It is no rabble who have undertaken it. It is
     the work of orderly, prosperous, and deeply religious men."[46]

Nor did the paradox end there. If the Ulster Movement was "rebellious,"
its purpose was as paradoxical as its circumstances. It had in it no
subversive element. In this respect it stands (so far as the writer's
knowledge goes) without precedent, a solitary instance in the history of
mankind. The world has witnessed rebellions without number, designed to
bring about many different results--to emancipate a people from
oppression, to upset an obnoxious form of Government, to expel or to
restore a rival dynasty, to transfer allegiance from one Sovereign or
one State to another. But has there ever been a "rebellion" the object
of which was to maintain the _status quo_? Yet that was the sole purpose
of the Ulstermen in all they did from 1911 to 1914. That fact, which
distinguished their movement from every rebellion or revolution in
history, placed them on a far more solid ground of reasonable
justification than the excuse offered by Mr. Churchill for their
bellicose attitude in his father's day. Although he is no doubt right in
saying that "When men are sufficiently in earnest they will back their
words with more than votes," it is a plea that would cover alike the
conduct of Halifax and the other Whigs who resisted the legal authority
of James II, of the Jacobites who fought for his grandson, and of the
contrivers of many another bloody or bloodless Revolution. But there was
nothing revolutionary in the Ulster Movement. It was resistance to the
transfer of a people's allegiance without their consent; to their
forcible expulsion from a Constitution with which they were content and
their forcible inclusion in a Constitution which they detested. This was
the very antithesis of Revolution. English Radical writers and
politicians might argue that no "transfer of allegiance" was
contemplated; but Ulstermen thought they knew better, and the later
development of the Irish question proved how right they were. Even had
they been proved wrong instead of right in their conviction that the
true aim of Irish Nationalism (a term in which Sinn Fein is included)
was essentially separatist, they knew better than Englishmen how little
reality there was in the theory that under the proposed Home Rule their
allegiance would be unaffected and their political _status_ suffer no
degradation. They claimed to occupy a position similar to that of the
North in the American Civil War--with this difference, which, so far as
it went, told in their favour, that whereas Lincoln took up arms to
resist secession, they were prepared to do so to resist expulsion, the
purpose in both cases, however, being to preserve union. The practical
view of the question, as it would appear in the eyes of ordinary men,
was well expressed by Lord Curzon in the House of Lords, when he said:

     "The people of this country will be very loth to condemn those
     whose only disloyalty it will be to have been excessive in their
     loyalty to the King. Do not suppose that the people of this country
     will call those 'rebels' whose only form of rebellion is to insist
     on remaining under the Imperial Parliament."[47]

Of course, men like Sir Edward Carson, Lord Londonderry, Mr. Thomas
Sinclair, and other Ulster leaders were too far-seeing not to realise
that the course they were taking would expose them to the accusation of
having set a bad example which others without the same grounds of
justification might follow in very different circumstances. But this was
a risk they had to shoulder, as have all who are not prepared to
subscribe to the dogma of Passive Obedience without limit. They accepted
it as the less of two evils. But there was something humorous in the
pretence put forward in 1916 and afterwards that the violence to which
the adherents of Sinn Fein had recourse was merely copying Ulster. As if
Irish Nationalism in its extreme form required precedent for
insurrection! Even the leader of "Constitutional Nationalism" himself
had traced his political pedigree to convicted rebels like Tone and
Emmet, and since the date of those heroes there had been at least two
armed risings in Ireland against the British Crown and Government. If
the taunt flung at Ulstermen had been that they had at last thrown
overboard law and order and had stolen the Nationalist policy of active
resistance, there would at least have been superficial plausibility in
it. But when it was suggested or implied that the Ulster example was
actually responsible in any degree whatever for violent outbreaks in the
other provinces, a supercilious smile was the only possible retort from
the lips of representatives of Ulster.

But what caused them some perplexity was the disposition manifested in
certain quarters in England to look upon the two parties in Ireland in
regard to "rebellion" as "six of one and half a dozen of the other." It
has always, unhappily, been characteristic of a certain type of
Englishman to see no difference between the friends and the enemies of
his country, and, if he has a preference at all, to give it to the
latter. Apart from all other circumstances which in the eyes of
Ulstermen justified them up to the hilt in the policy they pursued,
apart from everything that distinguished them historically and morally
from Irish "rebels," there was the patent and all-important fact that
the motive of their opponents was hostility to England, whereas their
own motive was friendliness and loyalty to England. In that respect they
never wavered. If the course of events had ever led to the employment of
British troops to crush the resistance of Ulster to Home Rule, the
extraordinary spectacle would have been presented to the wondering world
of the King's soldiers shooting down men marching under the British flag
and singing "God save the King."

It was no doubt because this was very generally understood in England
that the sympathies of large masses of law-loving people were never for
a moment alienated from the men of Ulster by all the striving of their
enemies to brand them as rebels. Constitutional authorities may, as Mr.
Churchill says, "measure their censures according to their political
opinions," but the generality of men, who are not constitutional
authorities, whose political opinions, if they have any, are
fluctuating, and who care little for "juridical niceties," will measure
their censures according to their instinctive sympathies. And the sound
instinct of Englishmen forbade them to blame men who, if rebels in law,
were their firm friends in fact, for taking exceptional and even illegal
measures, when all others failed, to preserve the full unity which they
regarded as the fruit of that friendship.


[41] See _Life of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire,_ by Bernard Holland,
ii, pp. 249-51.

[42] _Life of Lord Randolph Churchill_, vol. ii, p. 65.

[43] _Annual Register_, 1912, p. 82.

[44] Bernard Holland's _Life of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire_, ii, 250.

[45] _The Times_, July 14th, 1913.

[46] Ibid., August 22nd, 1912.

[47] _Parliamentary Debates_ (House of Lords), July 15th, 1913.



By the death of the Duke of Abercorn on the 3rd of January, 1913, the
Ulster Loyalists lost a leader who had for many years occupied a very
special place in their affection and confidence. Owing to failing health
he had been unable to take an active part in the exciting events of the
past two years, but the messages of encouragement and support which were
read from him at Craigavon, Balmoral, and other meetings for organising
resistance, were always received with an enthusiasm which showed, and
was intended to show, that the great part he had played in former years,
and especially his inspiring leadership as Chairman of the Ulster
Convention in 1893, had never been forgotten.

His death inflicted also, indirectly, another blow which at this
particular moment was galling to loyalists out of all proportion to its
intrinsic importance. The removal to the House of Lords of the Marquis
of Hamilton, the member for Derry city, created a vacancy which was
filled at the ensuing by-election by a Liberal Home Ruler. To lose a
seat anywhere in the north-eastern counties at such a critical time in
the movement was bad enough, but the unfading halo of the historic siege
rested on Derry as on a sanctuary of Protestantism and loyalty, so that
the capture of the "Maiden City" by the enemy wounded loyalist sentiment
far more deeply than the loss of any other constituency. The two parties
had been for some time very nearly evenly balanced there, and every
electioneering art and device, including that of bringing to the poll
voters who had long rested in the cemetery, was practised in Derry with
unfailing zeal and zest by party managers. For some time past trade,
especially ship-building, had been in a state of depression in Derry,
with the result that a good many of the better class of artisans, who
were uniformly Unionist, had gone to Belfast and elsewhere to find work,
leaving the political fortunes of the city at the mercy of the casual
labourer who drifted in from the wilds of Donegal, and who at this
election managed to place the Home Rule candidate in a majority of

It was a matter of course that the late Duke's place as President of the
Ulster Unionist Council should be taken by Lord Londonderry, and it
happened that the annual meeting at which he was formally elected was
held on the same day that witnessed the rejection of the Home Rule Bill
by the House of Lords.

It was also at this annual meeting (31st January, 1913) that the special
Commission who had been charged to prepare a scheme for the Provisional
Government, presented their draft Report. The work had been done with
great thoroughness and was adopted without substantial alteration by the
Council, but was not made public for several months. The Council itself
was, in the event of the Provisional Government being set up, to
constitute a "Central Authority," and provision was made, with complete
elaboration of detail, for carrying on all the necessary departments of
administration by different Committees and Boards, whose respective
functions were clearly defined. Among those who consented to serve in
these departmental Committees, in addition to the recognised local
leaders in the Ulster Movement, were Dr. Crozier, Archbishop of Armagh,
the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
Ireland, Lord Charles Beresford, Major-General Montgomery, Colonel
Thomas Hickman, M.P., Lord Claud Hamilton, M.P., Sir Robert Kennedy,
K.C.M.G., and Sir Charles Macnaghten, K.C., son of Lord Macnaghten, the
distinguished Lord of Appeal. Ulster at this time gave a lead on the
question of admitting women to political power, at a time when their
claim to enfranchisement was being strenuously resisted in England, by
including several women in the Provisional Government.

A most carefully drawn scheme for a separate judiciary in Ulster had
been prepared with the assistance of some of the ablest lawyers in
Ireland. It was in three parts, dealing respectively with (a) the
Supreme Court, (b) the Land Commission, and (c) County Courts; it was
drawn up as an Ordinance, in the usual form of a Parliamentary Bill, and
it is an indication of the spirit in which Ulster was preparing to
resist an Act of Parliament that the Ordinance bore the introductory
heading: "_It is Hereby Enacted by the Central Authority in the name of
the King's Most Excellent Majesty that_------" Similarly, the form of
"Oath or Declaration of Adherence" to be taken by Judges, Magistrates,
Coroners, and other officers of the Courts, set out in a Schedule to the
Ordinance, was: "I ... of ... being about to serve in the Courts of the
Provisional Government as the Central Authority for His Majesty the
King, etc."

It will be remembered that the original resolution by which the Council
decided to set up a Provisional Government limited its duration until
Ulster should "again resume unimpaired her citizenship in the United
Kingdom,"[48] and at a later date it was explicitly stated that it was
to act as trustee for the Imperial Parliament. All the forms prepared
for use while it remained in being purported to be issued in the name of
the King. And the Resolution adopted by the Unionist Council immediately
after constituting itself the Central Authority of the Provisional
Government, in which the reasons for that policy were recorded,
concluded with the statement that "we, for our part, in the course we
have determined to pursue, are inspired not alone by regard to the true
welfare of our own country, but by devotion to the interests of our
world-wide Empire and loyalty to our beloved King." If this was the
language of rebels, it struck a note that can never before have been
heard in a chorus of disaffection.

The demonstrations against the Government's policy which had been held
during the last eighteen months, of which some account has been given,
were so impressive that those which followed were inevitably less
remarkable by comparison. They were, too, necessarily to a large
extent, repetitions of what had gone before. There might be, and there
were, plenty of variations on the old theme, but there was no new theme
to introduce. Propaganda to the extent possible with the resources at
the disposal of the Ulster Unionist Council was carried on in the
British constituencies in 1913, the cost being defrayed chiefly through
generous subscriptions collected by the energy and influence of Mr.
Walter Long; but many were beginning to share the opinion of Mr. Charles
Craig, M.P., who scandalised the Radicals by saying at Antrim in March
that, while it was incumbent on Ulstermen to do their best to educate
the electorate, "he believed that, as an argument, ten thousand pounds
spent on rifles would be a thousand times stronger than the same amount
spent on meetings, speeches, and pamphlets."

On the 27th of March a letter appeared in the London newspapers
announcing the formation of a "British League for the support of Ulster
and the Union," with an office in London. It was signed by a hundred
Peers and 120 Unionist Members of the House of Commons. The manifesto
emphasised the Imperial aspect of the great struggle that was going on,
asserting that it was "quite clear that the men of Ulster are not
fighting only for their own liberties. Ulster will be the field on which
the privileges of the whole nation will be lost or won." A small
executive Committee was appointed, with the Duke of Bedford as Chairman,
and within a few weeks large numbers of people in all parts of the
country joined the new organisation. A conference attended by upwards of
150 honorary agents from all parts of the country was held at
Londonderry House on the 4th of June, where the work of the League was
discussed, and its future policy arranged. Its operations were not
ostentatious, but they were far from being negligible, especially in
connection with later developments of the movement in the following
year. This proof of British support was most encouraging to the people
of Ulster, and the Dublin correspondent of _The Times_ reported that it
gave no less satisfaction to loyalists in other parts of Ireland, among
whom, as the position became more desperate every day, there was "not
the least sign of giving way, of accepting the inevitable."

Every month that passed in uncertainty as to what fate was reserved for
Ulster, and especially every visit of the leader to Belfast, endeared
him more intensely to his followers, who had long since learnt to give
him their unquestioning trust; and his bereavement by the death of his
wife in April 1913 brought him the profound and affectionate sympathy of
a warm-hearted people, which manifested itself in most moving fashion at
a great meeting a month later on the 16th of May, when, at the opening
of a new drill hall in the most industrial district of Belfast, Sir
Edward exclaimed, in response to a tumultuous reception, "Heaven knows,
my one affection left me is my love of Ireland."

He took occasion at the same meeting to impress upon his followers the
spirit by which all their actions should be guided, and which always
guided his own. With a significant reference to the purposes for which
the new drill hall might be used, he added, "Always remember--this is
essential--always remember you have no quarrel with individuals. We
welcome and we love every individual Irishman, even though he may be
opposed to us. Our quarrel is with the Government." When the feelings of
masses of men are deeply stirred in political conflict such exhortations
are never superfluous; and there never was a leader who could give them
with better grace than Sir Edward Carson, who himself combined to an
extraordinary degree strength of conviction with entire freedom from
bitterness towards individual opponents.[49]

In this same speech he showed that there was no slackening of
determination to pursue to the end the policy of the Covenant. There had
been rumours that the Government were making secret inquiries with a
view to taking legal proceedings, and in allusion to them Carson moved
his audience to one of the most wonderful demonstrations of personal
devotion that even he ever evoked, by saying: "If they want to test the
legality of anything we are doing, let them not attack humble men--I am
responsible for everything, and they know where to find me."

The Bill was running its course for the second time through Parliament,
a course that was now farcically perfunctory, and Carson returned to
London to repeat in the House of Commons on the 10th of June his defiant
acceptance of responsibility for the Ulster preparations. He was back in
Belfast for the 12th of July celebrations, when 150,000 Orangemen
assembled at Craigavon to hear another speech from their leader full of
confident challenge, and to receive another message of encouragement
from Mr. Bonar Law, who assured them that "whatever steps they might
feel compelled to take, whether they were constitutional, or whether in
the long run they were unconstitutional, they had the whole of the
Unionist Party under his leadership behind them."

The leader of the Unionist Party had good reason to know that his
message to Ulster was endorsed by his followers. That had been
demonstrated beyond all possibility of doubt during the preceding month.
The Ulster Unionist Members of the House of Commons, with Carson at
their head, had during June made a tour of some of the principal towns
of Scotland and the North of England, receiving a resounding welcome
wherever they went. The usual custom of political meetings, where one or
two prominent speakers have the platform to themselves, was departed
from; the whole parliamentary contingent kept together throughout the
tour as a deputation from Ulster to the constituencies visited, taking
in turn the duty of supporting Carson, who was everywhere the principal

There were wonderful demonstrations at Glasgow and Edinburgh, both in
the streets and the principal halls, proving, as was aptly said by _The
Yorkshire Post_, that "the cry of the new Covenanters is not unheeded by
the descendants of the old"; and thence they went south, drawing great
cheering crowds to welcome them and to present encouraging addresses at
the railway stations at Berwick, Newcastle, Darlington, and York, to
Leeds, where the two largest buildings in the city were packed to
overflowing with Yorkshiremen eager to see and hear the Ulster leader,
and to show their sympathy with the loyalist cause. Similar scenes were
witnessed at Norwich and Bristol, and the tour left no doubt in the
minds of those who followed it, and who studied the comments of the
Press upon it, that not only was the whole Unionist Party in Great
Britain solidly behind the Ulstermen in their resolve to resist being
subjected to a Parliament in Dublin, but that the general drift of
opinion detached from party was increasingly on the same side.


[48] See _ante_, p. 53.

[49] But he could be moved to stern indignation by the treachery of
former friends, as he showed in December 1921.



Whatever might be the state of public opinion in England, it was
realised that the Government, if they chose, were in a position to
disregard it; and in Ulster the tension was becoming almost unbearable.
The leaders were apprehensive lest outbreaks of violence should occur,
which they knew would gravely prejudice the movement; and there is no
doubt that it was only the discipline which the rank and file had now
gained, and the extraordinary restraining influence which Carson
exercised, that prevented serious rioting in many places. Incidents like
the attack by Nationalist roughs in Belfast on a carriage conveying
crippled children to a holiday outing on the 31st of May because it was
decorated with Union Jacks might at any moment lead to trouble. There
was some disorder in Belfast in the early hours of the 12th of July; and
an outbreak occurred in August in Derry, always a storm centre, when a
procession was attacked, and a Protestant was shot while watching it
from his own upper window. The incident started rioting, which continued
for several days, and a battalion of troops had to be called in to
restore order.

Meantime, throughout the summer, while the Government were complacently
carrying their Bill through Parliament for the second time, the Press
was packed with suggestions for averting the crisis which everybody
except the Cabinet recognised as impending.

It began to be whispered in the clubs and lobbies that the King might
exercise the prerogative of veto, and even men like Lord St. Aldwyn and
the veteran Earl of Halsbury, both of them ex-Cabinet Ministers,
encouraged the idea; but there was no widespread acceptance of the
notion that even in so exceptional a case His Majesty would reject the
advice of his responsible Ministers. But in a letter to _The Times_ on
the 4th of September, Mr. George Cave, K.C., M.P. (afterwards Home
Secretary, and ultimately Lord of Appeal), suggested that the King might
"exercise his undoubted right" to dissolve Parliament before the
beginning of the next session, in order to inform himself as to whether
the policy of his Ministers was endorsed by the people.

But a much greater sensation was created a few days later by a letter
which appeared in _The Times_ on the 11th of the same month over the
signature of Lord Loreburn. Lord Loreburn had been Lord Chancellor at
the time the Home Rule Bill was first introduced, but had retired from
the Government in June 1912, being replaced on the Woolsack by Lord
Haldane. When the first draft of the Home Rule Bill was under discussion
in the Cabinet in preparation for its introduction in the House of
Commons, two of the younger Ministers, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Winston
Churchill, proposed that an attempt should be made to avert the stern
opposition to be expected from Ulster, by treating the northern
Province, or a portion of it, separately from the rest of Ireland. This
proposal was not acceptable to the Cabinet as a whole, and its authors
were roundly rated by Lord Loreburn for so unprincipled a lapse from
orthodox Gladstonian doctrine. What, therefore, must have been the
astonishment of the heretics when they found their mentor, less than two
years later, publicly reproving the Government which he had left for
having got into such a sad mess over the Ulster difficulty! They might
be forgiven some indignation at finding themselves reproved by Lord
Loreburn for faulty statesmanship of which Lord Loreburn was the
principal author.

Those, however, who had not the same ground for exasperation as Mr.
Lloyd George and Mr. Churchill thought Lord Loreburn's letter very sound
sense. He pointed out that if the Bill were to become law in 1914, as it
stood in September 1913, there would be, if not civil war, at any rate
very serious rioting in the North of Ireland, and when the riots had
been quelled by the Government the spirit that prompted them would
remain. Everybody concerned would suffer from fighting it out to a
finish. The Ex-Chancellor felt bound to assume that "up to the last,
Ministers, who assuredly have not taken leave of their senses, would be
willing to consider proposals for accommodation," and he therefore
suggested that a Conference should be held behind closed doors with a
view to a settlement by consent. If Lord Loreburn had perceived at the
time the draft Bill was before the Cabinet that it was not the Ministers
who proposed separate treatment for Ulster who had "taken leave of their
senses," but those, including himself, who had resisted that proposal,
his wisdom would have been more timely; but it was better late than
never, and his unexpected intervention had a decided influence on
opinion in the country.

The comment of _The Times_ was very much to the point:

     "On the eve of a great political crisis, it may be of national
     disaster, a distinguished Liberal statesman makes public confession
     of his belief that, as a permanent solution, the Irish policy of
     the Government is indefensible."

This letter of the ex-Lord Chancellor gave rise to prolonged discussion
in the Press and on the platform. At Durham, on the 13th of September,
Carson declared that he would welcome a Conference if the question was
how to provide a genuine expansion of self-government, but that, if
Ulster was to be not only expelled from the Union but placed under a
Parliament in Dublin, then "they were going to make Home Rule impossible
by steady and persistent opposition." The Government seemed unable to
agree whether a conciliatory or a defiant attitude was their wiser
policy, though it is true that the latter recommended itself mostly to
the least prominent of its members, such as Mr. J.M. Robertson,
Secretary of the Board of Trade, who in a speech at Newcastle on the
25th of September announced scornfully that Ministers were not going to
turn "King Carson" into "Saint Carson" by prosecuting him, and that "the
Government would know how to deal with him."[50] But more important
Ministers were beginning to perceive the unwisdom of this sort of
bluster. Lord Morley, in the House of Lords, denied that he had ever
underrated the Ulster difficulty, and said that for twenty-five years he
had never thought that Ulster was guilty of bluff. Mr. Churchill, at
Dundee, on the 9th of October, no longer talked as he had the previous
year about "not taking Sir Edward Carson too seriously," though he still
appeared to be ignorant of the fact that there was in Ulster anybody
except Orangemen. "The Orange Leaders," he said, "used violent language,
but Liberals should try to understand their position. Their claim for
special consideration, if put forward with sincerity, could not be
ignored by a Government depending on the existing House."[51]

The Prime Minister, less assured than his subordinate at the Board of
Trade that "King Carson" was negligible, also displayed a somewhat
chastened spirit at Ladybank on the 25th of October, when he
acknowledged that it was "of supreme importance to the future well-being
of Ireland that the new system should not start with the apparent
triumph of one section over another," and he invited a "free and frank
exchange of views."[52] Sir Edward Grey held out another little twig of
olive two days later at Berwick.

To these overtures, if they deserve the name, Mr. Bonar Law replied in
an address to a gathering of fifteen thousand people at Wallsend on the
29th, in the presence of Sir Edward Carson. Having repeated the Blenheim
pledge, he praised the discipline and restraint shown by the Ulster
people and their leaders, but warned his hearers that the nation was
drifting towards the tragedy of civil war, the responsibility for which
would rest on the Government. He expressed his readiness to respond to
Mr. Asquith's invitation, but pointed out that there were only three
alternatives open to the Government. They must either (1) go on as they
were doing and provoke Ulster to resist--that was madness; (2) they
could consult the electorate, whose decision would be accepted by the
Unionist Party as a whole; or (3) they could try to arrange a settlement
which would at least avert civil war.

There had been during the past six or eight months an unusual dearth of
by-elections to test public opinion in regard to the Irish policy of the
Government, and it must be borne in mind that the Unionist Party in
Great Britain was still distracted by disputes over the Tariff question,
which in January 1913 had very nearly led to the retirement of Mr. Bonar
Law from the leadership. Nevertheless, in May the Unionists won two
signal victories, one in Cambridgeshire, and one in Cheshire, where the
Altrincham Division sent a staunch friend of Ulster to Parliament in the
person of Mr. George C. Hamilton, who in his maiden speech declared that
he had won the contest entirely on the Ulster Question. Even more
significant, perhaps, were two elections which were fought while the
interchange of party strokes over the Loreburn letter was in progress,
and the results of both were declared on the 8th of November. At
Reading, where the Unionists retained the seat, the Liberal candidate
was constrained by pressure of opinion in the constituency to promise
support for a policy of "separate and generous treatment for Ulster." At
Linlithgow, a Liberal stronghold, where no such promise was forthcoming,
the Liberal majority, in spite of a large Nationalist vote, was reduced
by 1,500 votes as compared with the General Election. There were signs
that Nonconformists, whose great leaders like Spurgeon and Dale had been
hostile to Home Rule in Gladstone's time, were again becoming uneasy
about handing over the Ulster Presbyterians and Methodists to the Roman
hierarchy. A memorial against Home Rule, signed by 131,000 people, which
had been presented to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
June, had no doubt had some effect on Nonconformist opinion in England,
and it was just about the time when these elections took place that
Carson was described at a large gathering of Nonconformists in London as
"the best embodiment at this moment of the ancient spirit of

Meanwhile the people in Ulster were steadily maturing their plans. The
arrangements already mentioned for setting up a Provisional Government
were confirmed and finally adopted by the Unionist Council in Belfast on
the 24th of September, and the Council by resolution delegated its
powers to the Standing Committee, while the Commission of Five was at
the same time appointed to act as an Executive. Carson, in accepting the
chairmanship of the Central Authority, used the striking phrase, which
precisely epitomised the situation, that "Ulster might be coerced into
submission, but in that case would have to be governed as a conquered
country." The Nationalist retort that the rest of Ireland was now being
so treated, appeared forcible to those Englishmen only who could see no
difference between controlling a disaffected population and chastising a
loyal one.

At the same meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council on the 24th of
September a guarantee fund was established for providing means to
compensate members of the U.V.F. for any loss or disability they might
suffer as a result of their service, and the widows and dependents of
any who might lose their lives. This was a matter that had caused Carson
anxiety for some time. He was extremely sensitive to the moral
responsibility he would incur towards those who so eagerly followed his
lead, in the event of their suffering loss of life or limb in the
service of Ulster. His proposal that a guarantee fund of a million
sterling should be started, met with a ready response from the Council,
and from the wealthier classes in and about Belfast. The form of
"Indemnity Guarantee" provided for the payment to those entitled to
benefit under it of sums not less than they would have been entitled to
under the Fatal Accidents Act, the Employers' Liability Act, and the
Workman's Compensation Act, as the circumstances of the case might be.
The list was headed by Sir Edward Carson, Lord Londonderry, Captain
Craig, Sir John Lonsdale, Sir George Clark, and Lord Dunleath, with a
subscription of £10,000 each, and their example was followed by Mr. Kerr
Smiley, M.P., Mr. R.M. Liddell, Mr. George Preston, Mr. Henry Musgrave,
Mr. C.E. Allen, and Mr. Frank Workman, who entered their names
severally for the same amount. A quarter of a million sterling was
guaranteed in the room before the Council separated; by the end of a
week it had grown to £387,000; and before the 1st of January, 1914, the
total amount of the Indemnity Guarantee Fund was £1,043,816.

It gave Carson and the other leaders the greatest possible satisfaction
that the response to this appeal was so prompt and adequate. Not only
was their anxiety relieved in regard to their responsibility to loyal
followers of the rank and file who might become "casualties" in the
movement, but they had been given a striking proof that the business
community of Belfast did not consider its pocket more sacred than its
principles. Moreover, if there had been doubt on that score in anyone's
mind, it was set at rest by a memorable meeting for business men only
held in Belfast on the 3rd of November. Between three and four thousand
leaders of industry and commerce, the majority of whom had never
hitherto taken any active share in political affairs, presided over by
Mr. G.H. Ewart, President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, gave an
enthusiastic reception to Carson, who told them that he had come more to
consult them as to the commercial aspects of the great political
controversy than to impress his own views on the gathering. It was said
that the men in the hall represented a capital of not less than
£145,000,000 sterling,[54] and there can be no doubt that, even if that
were an exaggerated estimate, they were not of a class to whom
revolution, rebellion, or political upheaval could offer an attractive
prospect. Nevertheless, the meeting passed with complete unanimity a
resolution expressing confidence in Carson and approval of everything he
had done, including the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and
declaring that they would refuse to pay "all taxes which they could
control" to an Irish Parliament in Dublin. This meeting was very
satisfactory, for it proved that the "captains of industry" were
entirely in accord with the working classes, whose support of the
movement had never been in doubt. It showed that Ulster was solid
behind Carson; and the unanimity was emphasised rather than disturbed by
a little handful of cranks, calling themselves "Protestant Home Rulers,"
who met on the 24th of October at the village of Ballymoney "to protest
against the lawless policy of Carsonism." The principal stickler for
propriety of conduct in public life on this occasion was Sir Roger

While the unity and steadfastness--which enemies called obstinacy--of
the Ulster people were being thus made manifest, the public in England
were hearing a good deal about the growth of the Ulster Volunteer Force
in numbers and efficiency. As will be seen later, the anniversary of the
Covenant was celebrated with great military display at the very time
when the newspapers across the Channel were busy discussing Lord
Loreburn's letter, and at a parade service in the Ulster Hall, Canon
Harding, after pronouncing the Benediction, called on the congregation
to raise their right hands and pledge themselves thereby "to follow
wherever Sir Edward Carson shall lead us."

The events of September 1913--the setting up of the Provisional
Government, the wonderful and instantaneous response to the appeal for
an Indemnity Guarantee Fund, the rapid formation of an effective
volunteer army--were given the fullest publicity in the English Press.
Every newspaper of importance had its special correspondent in Belfast,
whose telegrams filled columns every day, adorned with all the varieties
of sensational headline type. The Radicals were becoming restive. The
idea that Carson was "not to be taken too seriously," had apparently
missed fire. It was the Ministerial affectation of contempt that no one
was taking seriously; in fact, to borrow an expression from current
slang, the "King Carson" stunt was a "wash-out."

_The Nation_ suggested that, instead of being laughed at, the Ulster
leader should be prosecuted, or, at any rate, removed from the Privy
Council, and other Liberal papers feverishly took up the suggestion,
debating whether the indictment should be under the Treason Felony Act
of 1848, the Crimes Act of 1887, or the Unlawful Drilling Act of 1819.
One of them, however, which succeeded in keeping its head, did not
believe that a prosecution would succeed; and, as to the Privy Council,
if Carson's name were removed, what about Londonderry and F.E. Smith,
Walter Long, and Bonar Law? In fact, "it would be difficult to know
where to stop."[55] It would have been. The Privy Council would have had
to be reduced to a committee of Radical politicians; and, if Carson had
been prosecuted, room would have had to be found in the dock, not only
for the whole Unionist Party, but for the proprietors and editors of
most of the leading journals. The Government stopped short of that
supreme folly; but their impotence was the measure of the prevailing
sympathy with Ulster.


[50] _Annual Register_, 1913, p. 205.

[51] Ibid., p. 209.

[52] Ibid., p. 220.

[53] _Annual Register_, 1913, p. 225.

[54] _Annual Register_, 1913, p. 225.

[55] _Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury_, September 22nd, 1913.



We have seen in a former chapter how the Ulster Volunteer Force
originated. It was never formally established by the act of any
recognised authority, but rather grew spontaneously from the zeal of the
Unionist Clubs and the Orange Lodges to present an effective and
formidable appearance at the demonstrations which marked the progress of
the movement after the meeting at Craigavon in 1911. By the following
summer it had attained considerable numbers and respectable efficiency,
and was becoming organised, without violation of the law, on a
territorial basis under local officers, many of whom had served in the
Army. Early in 1913 the Standing Committee resolved that these units
should be combined into a single force, to be called The Ulster
Volunteer Force, which was to be raised and limited to a strength of
100,000 men, all of whom should be men who had signed the Covenant. When
this organisation took place it became obvious that a serious defect was
the want of a Commander-in-Chief of the whole force, to give it unity
and cohesion. This defect was pressed on the attention of the leaders of
the movement, who then began to look about for a suitable officer of
rank and military experience to take command of the U.V.F. Among English
Members of the House of Commons there was no firmer friend of Ulster
than Colonel Thomas Hickman, C.B., D.S.O., who has been mentioned as one
of those who consented to serve in the Provisional Government. Hickman
had seen a lot of active service, having served with great distinction
in Egypt and the Soudan under Kitchener, and in the South African War.
It was natural to take him into confidence in the search for a general;
and, when he was approached, it was decided that he should consult Lord
Roberts, whose warm sympathy with the Ulster cause was well known to the
leaders of the movement, and whose knowledge of army officers of high
rank was, of course, unequalled. Moreover, the illustrious Field-Marshal
had dropped hints which led those concerned to conjecture that in the
last resort he might not himself be unwilling to lend his matchless
prestige and genius to the loyalist cause in Ireland. The contingency
which might bring about such an accession had not, however, yet arisen,
and might never arise; in the meantime, Lord Roberts gave a ready ear to
Hickman's application, which, after some weeks of delay, he answered in
the following letter, which was at once communicated to Carson and those
in his immediate confidence:


     "_4th June_, 1913.


     "I have been a long time finding a Senior Officer to help in the
     Ulster business, but I think I have got one now. His name is
     Lieut.-General Sir George Richardson, K.C.B., c/o Messrs. Henry S.
     King & Co., Pall Mall, S.W. He is a retired Indian officer, active
     and in good health. He is not an Irishman, but has settled in
     Ireland.... Richardson will be in London for about a month, and is
     ready to meet you at any time.

     "I am sorry to read about the capture of rifles.

     "Believe me,

     "Yours sincerely,


The matter was quickly arranged, and within a few weeks Sir George
Richardson had taken up his residence in Belfast, and his duties as
G.O.C. the Ulster Volunteer Force.

He was a distinguished soldier. He served under Roberts in the Afghan
Campaign of 1879-80; he took part in the Waziri Expedition of 1881, and
the Zhob Valley Field Force operations of 1890. He was in command of a
Flying Column in the Tirah Expedition of 1897-8, and of a Cavalry
Brigade in the China Expeditionary Force in 1900, and had commanded a
Division at Poona for three years before retiring in 1907. He had been
three times mentioned in despatches, besides receiving a brevet and many
medals and clasps. He was at this time sixty-six years of age, but, like
the great soldier who recommended him to Ulster, he was an active little
man both in body and mind, with no symptom of approaching old age.

General Richardson was not long in making himself popular, not only with
the force under his command, but with all classes in Ulster. There were
unavoidable difficulties in handling troops whose officers had no
statutory powers of discipline, who had inherited no military
traditions, and who formed part of a population conspicuously
independent in character. But Sir George Richardson was as full of tact
as of good humour, and he soon found that the keenness of the officers
and men, to whom dismissal from the U.V.F. would have been the severest
of punishments, more than counterbalanced the difficulties referred to.

When the new G.O.C. went to Belfast in July, 1913, he found his command
between fifty and sixty thousand strong, with recruits joining every
day. In September a number of parades were held in different localities,
at which the General was accompanied by Sir Edward Carson, Mr. F.E.
Smith, Captain James Craig, and other Members of Parliament. The local
battalions were in many cases commanded by retired or half-pay officers
of the regular army. At all these inspections Carson addressed the men,
many of whom were now seeing their Commander-in-Chief for the first
time, and pointed out that the U.V.F., being now under a single command,
was no longer a mere collection of unrelated units, but an army. At an
inspection at Antrim on the 21st of September, he made a disclosure
which startled the country not a little next day when it appeared in the
headlines of English newspapers. "I tell the Government," he said, "that
we have pledges and promises from some of the greatest generals in the
army, who have given their word that, when the time comes, if it is
necessary, they will come over and help us to keep the old flag flying."
These promises were entirely spontaneous and unsolicited. More than one
of those who made them did fine service to the Empire in the impending
time of trial which none of them foresaw in 1913.

Of the men inspected on that day, numbering about 5,000, it was said by
the Special Correspondent of _The Yorkshire Post_, who was present--

     "As far as I could detect in a very careful observation, there were
     not half a dozen of them unqualified by physique or age to play a
     manly part. They reminded me more than anything else--except that
     but few of them were beyond the best fighting age--of the finest
     class of our National Reserve. There was certainly nothing of the
     mock soldier about them. Led by keen, smart-looking officers, they
     marched past in quarter column with fine, swinging steps, as if
     they had been in training for years. Officers who have had the
     teaching of them tell me that the rapidity with which they have
     become efficient is greater than has ever come within their
     experience in training recruits for either the Territorials or the
     Regular Service."[56]

The 24th of September, it will be remembered, was the day when the
formation of the Provisional Government and the Indemnity Fund (with the
subscription of a quarter of a million sterling in two hours) was made
public; on Saturday the 27th, the country parades of Volunteers of the
preceding weeks reached a climax in a grand review in Belfast itself,
when some 15,000 men were drawn up on the same ground where the Balmoral
meeting had been held eighteen months before. They were reviewed by Sir
George Richardson, G.O.C., and it was on this occasion that Mr. F.E.
Smith became famous as "galloper" to the General. The Commanders of the
four regiments on parade--one from each parliamentary division of the
city--comprising fourteen battalions, were: Colonel Wallace, Major F.H.
Crawford, Major McCalmont, M.P., and Captain the Hon. A.C. Chichester.
More than 30,000 sympathetic spectators watched the arrival and the
review of the troops.

Among these spectators were a large number of special military
correspondents of English newspapers, whose impressions of this
memorable event were studied in every part of the United Kingdom on the
following Monday morning. That which appeared in a great Lancashire
journal may be quoted as a fair and dispassionate account of the scene:

     "It is quite certain that the review of Volunteers at Balmoral
     to-day will go down into history as one of the most extraordinary
     events in the annals of these islands. Not since the marshalling of
     Cromwell's Puritan army have we had anything approaching a
     parallel; but, whereas the Puritans took up arms against a king of
     whom they disapproved, the men of Ulster strongly protest their
     loyalty to the British Throne. The great crowd which lined the
     enclosure was eager, earnest, and sympathetic. It was not a
     boisterous crowd. On the contrary, beyond the demonstration
     following the call for cheers for the Union there was comparatively
     little cheering. The crowd seemed burdened with a heavy sense of
     the importance of the occasion. The conduct of the gathering was
     serious to the point of positive solemnity.

     "The Volunteers from their own ranks policed the grounds, not a
     solitary member of the Royal Irish Constabulary being seen in the
     enclosure. The sun shone brilliantly as Colonel Wallace led the men
     of the North division into the enclosure. Amidst subdued cheers he
     marched them across the field in fours, forming up in quarter
     column by the right, facing left. For an hour and a quarter the
     procession filed through the gates, the men taking up their
     positions with perfect movement and not the faintest suggestion of
     confusion. As the men from the West took up their position the
     crowd broke into a great cheer. They mustered only two battalions,
     but they had come from Mr. Devlin's constituency!

     "As a body the men were magnificent. The hardy sons of toil from
     shipyards and factories marched shoulder to shoulder with clergy
     and doctors, professional men and clerks. From the saluting base
     General Richardson took command, and almost immediately Sir Edward
     Carson took up his position on the platform, with Lord Londonderry
     and Captain Craig in attendance. Then followed a scene that will
     live long in the memories of that vast concourse of people. With
     the men standing to 'Attention,' the bands struck up the 'British
     Grenadiers,' and the whole division advanced in review order, in
     perfect lines and unison.

     "The supreme moment had arrived. The men took off their hats, and
     the G.O.C. shouted, 'I call upon the men to give three cheers for
     the Union, taking their time from me. Hip, hip----'

     "Well, people who were not there must imagine the rest. Out of the
     deafening cheers came the strains of 'Rule, Britannia!' from the
     bands; the monster Union Jack was unfurled in the centre of the
     ground, and the mighty gathering stood bare-headed to 'God save the
     King.' It was solemn, impressive, thrilling."[57]

The following day, Sunday, was "Ulster Day," the first anniversary of
the signing of the Covenant, and it was celebrated in Belfast and many
other places in Ulster by holding special services in all places of
worship, which had the effect of sustaining that spirit of high
seriousness which struck all observers as remarkable in the behaviour of
the people.

This week, in which occurred the proclamation of the Provisional
Government, the great review of the Belfast Volunteers, and the second
celebration of Ulster Day, was a notable landmark in the movement. The
Press in England and Scotland gave the widest publicity to every
picturesque and impressive detail, and there can be little doubt that
the idea of attempting to arrive at some agreed settlement, started by
Lord Loreburn's letter to _The Times_, was greatly stimulated by these
fresh and convincing proofs of the grim determination of the Ulster

At all events, the autumn produced more than the usual plethora of
political meetings addressed by "front bench" politicians on both sides,
each answering each like an antiphonal choir; scraps of olive-branch
were timidly held out, only to be snatched back next day in panic lest
someone had blundered in saying too much; while day by day a clamorous
Liberal Press, to whom Ulster's loyalty to King and Empire was an
unforgivable offence, alternated between execration of Ulster wickedness
and affected ridicule of Ulster bluff. But it was evident that genuine
misgiving was beginning to be felt in responsible Liberal quarters. A
Correspondent of _The Manchester Guardian_ on the 25th of November made
a proposal for special treatment of Ulster; on the 1st of December Mr.
Massingham, in _The Daily News_, urged that an effort should be made to
conciliate the northern Protestants; and on the 6th Mr. Asquith
displayed a more conciliatory spirit than usual in a speech at
Manchester. A most active campaign of propaganda in England and Scotland
was also carried on during the autumn by Ulster speakers, among whom
women bore their full share. The Ulster Women's Unionist Association
employed 93 voluntary workers, who visited over 90 constituencies in
Great Britain, addressing 230 important meetings. It was reckoned that
not less than 100,000 electors heard the Ulster case from the lips of
earnest Ulster women.

On the 5th of December two Royal Proclamations were issued by the
Government, prohibiting the importation of arms and ammunition into
Ireland. But during the Christmas holidays the impression gained ground
that the Government contemplated making concessions to Ulster, and
communications in private between the Prime Minister and Sir Edward
Carson did in fact take place at this time. The truth, however, was that
the Government were not their own masters, and, as Mr. Bonar Law bluntly
declared at Bristol on the 15th of January, 1914, they were compelled by
the Nationalists, on whom they depended for existence, to refuse any
genuine concession. In the same speech Mr. Bonar Law replied to the
allegation that Ulster was crying out before she was hurt, by saying
that the American colonies had done the same thing--they had revolted on
a question of principle while suffering was still distant, and for a
cause that in itself was trivial in comparison with that of Ulster.[58]

Most of the leaders on both sides were speaking on various platforms in
January. On the 17th Carson, at an inspection of the East Belfast
U.V.F., said he had lately visited Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, and that the
dying statesman, clear-sighted and valiant as ever, had said to him at
parting, "I would fight it out." In the same spirit Mr. Austen
Chamberlain, in a speech at Skipton a fortnight later, ridiculed any
concession that fell short of the exclusion of Ulster from the Irish
Parliament, and asserted that what the policy of the Government amounted
to was that England was to conquer a province and hold it down at the
expense of her friends for the benefit of her enemies.[59]

Public attention was, however, not allowed to concentrate wholly on
Ireland. The Radicals, instigated by Sir John Brunner, President of the
National Liberal Federation, were doing their best to prevent the
strengthening of the Navy, the time being opportune for parsimony in Mr.
Lloyd George's opinion because our relations with Germany were "far more
friendly than for years past."[60] The militant women suffragists were
carrying on a lively campaign of arson and assault all over the country.
Labour unrest was in a condition of ferment. Land agitation was exciting
the "single-taxers" and other fanatics; and the Tariff question had not
ceased to be a cause of division in the Unionist Party. But, while these
matters were sharing with the Irish problem the attention of the Press
and the public, "conversations" were being held behind the scenes with a
view to averting what everyone now agreed would be a dangerous crisis if
Ulster proved implacable.

When Parliament met on the 10th of February, 1914, Mr. Asquith referred
to these conversations; but while he congratulated everyone concerned on
the fact that the Press had been successfully kept in the dark for
months regarding them, he had to admit that they had produced no result.
But there were, he said, "schemes and suggestions of settlement in the
air," among them the exclusion of Ulster from the Bill, a proposal on
which he would not at that moment "pronounce, or attempt to pronounce,
any final judgment", and he then announced that, as soon as the
financial business of the year was disposed of, he would bring forward
proposals for the purpose of arriving at an agreement "which will
consult not only the interests but the susceptibilities of all

This appeared to be a notable change of attitude on the part of the
Government; but it was received with not a little suspicion by the
Unionist leaders. Whether or not the change was due, as Mr. William
Moore bluntly asserted, to the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force,
which had now reached its full strength of 100,000 men, the question of
interest was whether the promised proposals would render that force
unnecessary. Mr. Austen Chamberlain asked why the Government's proposals
should be kept bottled up until a date suspiciously near All Fools' Day;
and Sir Edward Carson, in one of the most impressive speeches he ever
made in Parliament, which wrung from Mr. Lloyd George the acknowledgment
that it had "entranced the House," joined Chamberlain in demanding that
the country should not be kept in anxious suspense. The only proper way
of making the proposals known was, he said, by embodying them at once in
a Bill to amend the Home Rule Bill. He confirmed Chamberlain's statement
that nothing short of the exclusion of Ulster would be of the slightest
use. The Covenanters were not men who would have acted as they had done
for the sake of minor details that could be adjusted by "paper
safeguards," they were "fighting for a great principle and a great
ideal," and if their determination to resist was not morally justified
he "did not see how resistance could ever be justified in history at
all." But if the exclusion of Ulster was to be offered, he would
immediately go to Belfast and lay the proposal before his followers. He
did not intend "that Ulster should be a pawn in any political game," and
would not allow himself to be manoeuvred into a position where it could
afterwards be said that Ulster had resorted to arms to secure something
that had been rejected when offered by legislation. The sympathy of
Ulstermen with Loyalists in other parts of Ireland was as deep and
sincere as ever, but no one had ever supposed that Ulster could by force
of arms do more than preserve her own territory from subjection to
Dublin. As for the Nationalists, they would never succeed in coercing
Ulster, but "by showing that good government can come under Home Rule
they might try and win her over to the case of the rest of Ireland."
That was a plan that had never yet been tried.

The significance of the announcement which Mr. Asquith had now made lay
in the fact that it was an acknowledgment by the Government for the
first time that there was an "Ulster Question" to be dealt with--that
Ulster was not, as had hitherto been the Liberal theory, like any other
minority who must submit to the will of the majority opposed to it, but
a distinct community, conditioned by special circumstances entitling it
to special treatment. The Prime Minister had thus, as Mr. Bonar Law
insisted, "destroyed utterly the whole foundation on which for the last
two years the treatment extended to Ulster in this Bill has been
justified." From that day it became impossible ever again to contend
that Ulster was merely a recalcitrant minority in a larger unity,
without rights of her own.

The speeches of the Unionist leaders in the House of Commons showed
clearly enough how little faith they had that the Government intended to
do anything that could lead to an agreed settlement. The interval that
passed before the nature of the Government's proposals was made known
increased rather than diminished this distrust. The air was full of
suggestions, the most notable of which was put forward by the veteran
constitutional lawyer, Mr. Frederic Harrison, who proposed that Ulster
should be governed by a separate committee elected by its own
constituencies, with full legislative, administrative, and financial
powers, subject only to the Crown and the Imperial Parliament.[61]
Unionists did not believe that the Liberal Cabinet would be allowed by
their Nationalist masters to offer anything so liberal to Ulster; nor
did that Province desire autonomy for itself. They believed that the
chief desire of the Government was not to appease Ulster, but to put her
in a tactically indefensible position. This fear had been expressed by
Lord Lansdowne as long before as the previous October, when he wrote
privately to Carson in reference to Lord Loreburn's suggested Conference
that he suspected the intention of the Government to be "to offer us
terms which they know we cannot accept, and then throw on us the odium
of having obstructed a settlement." Mr. Walter Long had the same
apprehension in March 1914 as to the purpose of Mr. Asquith's unknown
proposals. Both these leaders herein showed insight and prescience, for
not only Mr. Asquith's Government, but also that which succeeded it, had
resort on many subsequent occasions to the manoeuvre suspected by Lord

On the other hand, there were encouraging signs in the country. To the
intense satisfaction of Unionists, Mr. C.F.G. Masterman, who had just
been promoted to the Cabinet, lost his seat in East London when he
sought re-election in February, and a day or two later the Government
suffered another defeat in Scotland. On the 27th of February Lord
Milner, a fearless supporter of the Ulster cause, wrote to Carson that a
British Covenant had been drawn up in support of the Ulster Covenanters,
and that the first signatures, in addition to his own, were those of
Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, Admiral of the Fleet Sir E. Seymour, the
Duke of Portland, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lord Desborough, Lord Lovat,
Mr. Rudyard Kipling, Sir W. Ramsay, F.R.S., the Dean of Canterbury,
Professors Dicey and Goudy, Sir George Hayter Chubb, and Mr. Salvidge,
the influential alderman of Liverpool. On the 6th of March Mr. Walter
Long, writing from the office of the Union Defence League, of which he
was President, was able to inform Carson that there was "a rush to sign
the Covenant--we are really almost overpowered." This was supplemented
by a women's Covenant, which, like the men's, "had been numerously and
influentially signed, about 3 or 4 per cent, of the signatories, it was
said, being Liberals."[62] Long believed from this and other evidence
that had reached him that "public opinion was now really aroused in the
country," and that the steadfast policy of Ulster had the undoubted
support of the electorate.

Only those who were in the confidence of Mr. Asquith and his colleagues
at the beginning of 1914 can know whether the "proposals" they then made
were ever seriously put forward as an effort towards appeasement. If
they were sincerely meant for such, it implied a degree of ignorance of
the chief factor in the problem with which it is difficult to credit
able Ministers who had been face to face with that problem for years.
They must have supposed that their leading opponents were capable of
saying emphatically one thing and meaning quite another. For the
Unionist leaders had stated over and over again in the most unmistakable
terms, both in the recent debate on the Address, and on innumerable
former occasions, that nothing except the "exclusion of Ulster" could
furnish a basis for negotiation towards settlement.

And yet, when the Prime Minister at last put his cards on the table on
the 9th of March, in moving the second reading of the Home Rule
Bill--which now entered on its third and last lap under the Parliament
Act--it was found that his much-trumpeted proposals were derisory to the
last degree. The scheme was that which came to be known as county option
with a time limit. Any county in Ulster, including the cities of Belfast
and Derry, was to be given the right to vote itself out of the Home Rule
jurisdiction, on a requisition signed by a specified proportion of its
parliamentary electorate, for a period of six years.

Mr. Bonar Law said at once, on behalf of the Unionist Party, that apart
from all other objections to the Government scheme, and they were many,
the time limit for exclusion made the whole proposal a mockery. All that
it meant was that when the preparations in Ulster for resistance to Home
Rule had been got rid of--for it would be practically impossible to keep
them in full swing for six years--Ulster should then be compelled to
submit to the very thing to which she refused to submit now. Carson
described the proposal as a "sentence of death with a stay of execution
for six years." He noted with satisfaction indeed the admission of the
principle of exclusion, but expressed his conviction that the time limit
had been introduced merely in order to make it impossible for Ulster to
accept. Ulster wanted the question settled once for all, so that she
might turn her attention from politics to her ordinary business. The
time limit would keep the fever of political agitation at a high
temperature for six years, and at the end of that period forcible
resistance would be as necessary as ever, while in the interval all
administration would be paralysed by the unworkable nature of the system
to be introduced for six years. Although there were other gross blots on
the scheme outlined by the Prime Minister, yet, if the time limit were
dropped, Carson said he would submit it to a convention in Belfast; but
he utterly declined to do so if the time limit was to be retained.

The debate was adjourned indefinitely, and before it could be resumed
the whole situation was rendered still more grave by the events to be
narrated in the next chapter, and by a menacing speech delivered by Mr.
Churchill at Bradford on the 14th of March. He hinted that, if Ulster
persisted in refusing the offer made by the Prime Minister, which was
the Government's last word, the forces of the Crown would have to be
employed against her; there were, he said, "worse things than bloodshed
even on an extended scale"; and he ended by saying, "Let us go forward
together and put these grave matters to the proof."[63] Two days later
Mr. Asquith, in answer to questions in the House of Commons, announced
that no particulars of the Government scheme would be given unless the
principle of the proposals were accepted as a basis of agreement.

The leader of the Unionist Party replied by moving a vote of censure on
the Government on the 19th of March. Mr. Churchill's Bradford speech,
and one no less defiant by Mr. Devlin the day following it, had charged
with inflammable material the atmosphere in which the debate was
conducted. Sir Edward Carson began his speech by saying that, after
these recent events, "I feel that I ought not to be here, but in
Belfast." There were some sharp passages between him and Churchill, whom
he accused of being anxious to provoke the Ulster people to make an
attack on the soldiers. A highly provocative speech by Mr. Devlin
followed, at the end of which Carson rose and left the House, saying
audibly, "I am off to Belfast." He was accompanied out of the Chamber by
eight Ulster members, and was followed by ringing and sustained cheers
of encouragement and approval from the crowded Unionist benches. It was
a scene which those who witnessed it are not likely to forget.

The idea of accommodation between the combatant parties was at an end.


[56] _The Yorkshire Post_, September 22nd, 1913.

[57] _The Liverpool Daily Courier_, September 29th, 1913.

[58] _Annual Register_, 1914, p. 6.

[59] _Annual Register_, 1914, p. 12.

[60] Ibid., p. 1.

[61] _The Annual Register_, 1914, p. 33.

[62] _Annual Register_, 1914, pp. 51-2.

[63] _The Times_, March 16th, 1914.



When Mr. Bonar Law moved the vote of censure on the Government on the
19th of March he had no idea that the Cabinet had secretly taken in hand
an enterprise which, had it been known, would have furnished infinitely
stronger grounds for their impeachment than anything relating to their
"proposals" for amending the Home Rule Bill. It was an enterprise that,
when it did become known, very nearly brought about their fall from

The whole truth about the famous "Curragh Incident" has never been
ascertained, and the answers given by the Ministers chiefly concerned,
under cross-examination in the House of Commons, were so evasive and in
several instances so contradictory as to make it certain that they were
exceedingly anxious that the truth should be concealed. But when the
available evidence is pieced together it leads almost irresistibly to
the conclusion that in March 1914 the Cabinet, or at any rate some of
the most prominent members of it, decided to make an imposing
demonstration of military force against Ulster, and that they expected,
if they did not hope, that this operation would goad the Ulstermen into
a clash with the forces of the Crown, which, by putting them morally in
the wrong, would deprive them of the popular sympathy they enjoyed in so
large and increasing a measure.

When Mr. Churchill spoke at Bradford on the 14th of March of "putting
these grave matters to the proof" he was already deeply involved in what
came to be known as "the plot against Ulster," to which his words were
doubtless an allusion. That plot may perhaps have originated at Mr.
Lloyd George's breakfast-table on the 11th, when he entertained Mr.
Redmond, Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin, Mr. O'Connor, and the Chief Secretary
for Ireland, Mr. Birrell; for on the same day it was decided to send a
squadron of battleships with attendant cruisers and destroyers from the
coast of Spain to Lamlash, in the Isle of Arran, opposite Belfast Lough;
and a sub-committee of the Cabinet, consisting of Lord Crewe, Mr.
Churchill, Colonel Seely, Mr. Birrell, and Sir John Simon, was appointed
to deal with affairs connected with Ulster. This sub-committee held its
first meeting the following day, and the next was the date of Mr.
Churchill's threatening speech at Bradford, with its reference to the
prospect of bloodshed and of putting grave matters to the proof. Bearing
in mind this sequence of events, it is not easy to credit the contention
of the Government, after the plot had been discovered, that the despatch
of the fleet to the neighbourhood of the Ulster coast had no connection
with the other naval and military operations which immediately followed.

For on the 14th, while Churchill was travelling in the train to
Bradford, Seely, the Secretary of State for War, was drafting a letter
to Sir Arthur Paget, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, informing him of
reports (it was never discovered where the reports, which were without
the smallest foundation, came from) that attempts might be made "in
various parts of Ireland by evil-disposed persons" to raid Government
stores of arms and ammunition, and instructing the General to "take
special precautions" to safeguard the military depots. It was added that
"information shows that Armagh, Omagh, Carrickfergus, and Enniskillen
are insufficiently guarded."[64] It is permissible to wonder, if there
was danger from evil-disposed persons "in various parts of Ireland,"
from whom came the information that the places particularly needing
reinforcements were a ring of strategically important towns round the
outskirts of the loyalist counties of Ulster.

Whatever the source of the alleged "information"--whether it originated
at Mr. Lloyd George's breakfast-table or elsewhere--Seely evidently
thought it alarmingly urgent, for within forty-eight hours he
telegraphed to Paget asking for a reply before 8 a.m. next morning as to
what steps he had taken, and ordering the General to come at once to
London, bringing with him detailed plans. On the 16th Sir A. Paget
telegraphed that he "had taken all available steps"; but, on second
thoughts, he wrote on the 17th saying that there were sufficient troops
at Enniskillen to guard the depot, that he was making a small increase
to the detachment at Carrickfergus, and that, instead of strengthening
the garrisons of Omagh and Armagh, the stores there were being
removed--an operation that would take eight days. He explained his
reason for this departure from instructions to be that such a movement
of troops as had been ordered by the War Office would, "in the present
state of the country, create intense excitement in Ulster and possibly
precipitate a crisis."[65]

As soon as this communication reached the War Office orders were sent
that the arms and ammunition at Omagh and Armagh, for the safety of
which from evil-disposed persons Seely had been so apprehensive, were
not to be removed, although they had already been packed for transport.
This order was sent on the 18th of March, and on the same day Sir Arthur
Paget arrived in London from Ireland and had a consultation with the
Ulster sub-committee of the Cabinet, and with Sir John French and other
members of the Army Council at the War Office.

News of this meeting reached the ears of Sir Edward Carson, who was also
aware that a false report was being spread of attempts by Unionists to
influence the Army, and in his speech on the vote of censure on the 19th
he said: "I have never suggested that the Army should not be sent to
Ulster. I have never suggested that it should not do its duty when sent
there. I hope and expect it will." At the same time reports were
circulating in Dublin--did they come from Downing Street?--that the
Government were preparing to take strong measures against the Ulster
Unionist Council, and to arrest the leaders. In allusion to these
reports the Dublin Correspondent of _The Times_ telegraphed on the 18th
of March: "Any man or Government that increases the danger by blundering
or hasty action will accept a terrible responsibility."

What passed at the interviews which Sir Arthur Paget had with Ministers
on the 18th and 19th has never been disclosed. But it is clear, from the
events which followed, either that an entirely new plan on a much larger
scale was now inaugurated, or that a development now took place which
Churchill and Seely, and perhaps other Ministers also, had contemplated
from the beginning and had concealed behind the pretended insignificance
of precautions to guard depots. It is noteworthy, at all events, that
the measures contemplated happened to be the stationing of troops in
considerable strength in important strategical positions round Ulster,
simultaneously with the despatch of a powerful fleet to within a few
hours of Belfast.

The orders issued by the War Office, at any rate, indicated something on
a far bigger scale than the original pretext could justify. Paget's fear
of precipitating a crisis was brushed aside, and General Friend, who was
acting for him in Dublin during his absence, was instructed by telegram
to send to the four Ulster towns more than double the number of men that
Paget had deemed would be sufficient to protect the Government stores.
But still more significant was another order given to Friend on the
18th. The Dorset Regiment, quartered in the Victoria Barracks in
Belfast, were to be moved four miles out to Holywood, taking with them
their stores and ammunition, amounting to some thirty tons; and such was
the anxiety of the Government to get the troops out of the city that
they were told to leave their rifles behind, if necessary, after
rendering them useless by removing the bolts.[66] The Government had
vetoed Paget's plan of removing the stores from Omagh and Armagh,
because their real object was to increase the garrisons at those places;
but, as they had no scruple about moving the much larger supply from the
Victoria Barracks through the most intensely Orange quarter of Belfast,
it could hardly be wondered at if such an order, under the
circumstances, was held to give colour to the idea that Ministers wished
to provoke violent opposition to the troops. Not less inconsistent with
the original pretext was the despatch of a battalion to Newry and
Dundalk. At the latter place there was already a brigade of artillery,
with eighteen guns, which would prove a tough nut for "evil-disposed
persons" to crack; and although both towns would be important points to
hold with an army making war on Ulster, they were both in Nationalist
territory where there could be no fear of raids by Unionists. Yet the
urgency was considered so great at the War Office to occupy these places
in strength not later than the 20th that two cruisers were ordered to
Kingstown to take the troops to Dundalk by sea, if there should be
difficulty about land transport.

Whatever may have been the actual design of Mr. Churchill and Colonel
Seely, who appear to have practically taken the whole management of the
affair into their own hands, the dispositions must have suggested to
anyone with elementary knowledge of military matters that nothing less
than an overpowering attack on Belfast was in contemplation. The
transfer of the troops from Victoria Barracks, where they would have
been useful to support the civil power in case of rioting, to Holywood,
where they would be less serviceable for that purpose but where they
would be in rapid communication by water with the garrison of
Carrickfergus on the opposite shore of the Lough; the ordering of H.M.S.
_Pathfinder_ and _Attentive_ to Belfast Lough, where they were to arrive
"at daybreak on Saturday the 21st instant" with instructions to support
the soldiers if necessary "by guns and search-lights from the
ships[67]"; the secret and rapid garrisoning of strategic points on all
the railways leading to Belfast,--all this pointed, not to the
safeguarding of stores of army boots and rifles, but to operations of an
offensive campaign.

It was in this light that the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland himself
interpreted his instructions, and, seeing that he had taken the
responsibility of not fully obeying the much more modest orders he had
received in Ireland on the 14th, it is easy to understand that he
thought the steps now to be taken would lead to serious consequences. He
also foresaw that he might have trouble with some of the officers under
his command, for before leaving London he persuaded the Secretary of
State and Sir John French to give the following permission: "Officers
actually domiciled in Ulster would be exempted from taking part in any
operation that might take place. They would be permitted to 'disappear'
[that being the exact phrase used by the War Office], and when all was
over would be allowed to resume their places without their career or
position being affected."[68]

Having obtained this concession, Sir Arthur Paget returned the same
night to Dublin, where he arrived on the 20th and had a conference with
his general officers.

He told them of the instructions he had received, which the Government
called "precautionary" and believed "would be carried out without
resistance." The Commander-in-Chief did not share the Government's
optimism. He thought "that the moves would create intense excitement,"
that by next day "the country would be ablaze," and that the result
might be "active operations against organised bodies of the Ulster
Volunteer Force under their responsible leaders." With regard to the
permission for officers domiciled in Ulster to "disappear," he informed
his generals that any other officers who were not prepared to carry out
their duty would be dismissed the Service.

There was, apparently, some misunderstanding as to whether officers
without an Ulster domicile who objected to fight against Ulster were to
say so at once and accept dismissal, or were to wait until they received
some specific order which they felt unable to obey. Many of the officers
understood the General to mean the former of these two alternatives, and
the Colonel of one line regiment gave his officers half an hour to make
up their minds on a question affecting their whole future career; every
one of them objected to going against Ulster, and "nine or ten refused
under any condition" to do so.[69] Another regimental commanding officer
told his subordinates that "steps have been taken in Ulster so that any
aggression must come from the Ulsterites, and they will have to shed the
first blood," on which his comment was: "The idea of provoking Ulster is

In consequence of what he learnt at the conference with his generals on
the morning of the 20th Sir Arthur Paget telegraphed to the War Office:
"Officer Commanding 5th Lancers states that all officers except two, and
one doubtful, are resigning their commissions to-day. I much fear same
conditions in the 16th Lancers. Fear men will refuse to move[71]"; and
later in the day he reported that the "Brigadier and 57 officers, 3rd
Cavalry Brigade, prefer to accept dismissal if ordered north."[72] Next
day he had to add that the Colonel and all the officers of the 4th
Hussars had taken up the same attitude.[73]

This was very disconcerting news for the War Office, where it had been
taken for granted that very few, if any, officers, except perhaps a few
natives of Ulster, would elect to wreck their careers, if suddenly
confronted with so terrible a choice, rather than take part in
operations against the Ulster Loyalists. Instructions were immediately
wired to Paget in Dublin to "suspend any senior officers who have
tendered their resignations"; to refuse to accept the resignation of
junior officers; and to send General Gough, the Brigadier in command of
the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, and the commanding officers of the two Lancer
regiments and the 4th Hussars, to report themselves promptly at the War
Office after relieving them of their commands.

Had the War Office made up its mind what to do with General Gough and
the other cavalry officers when they arrived in London? The inference to
be drawn from the correspondence published by the Government makes it
appear probable that the first intention was to punish these officers
severely _pour encourager les autres_. An officer to replace Gough had
actually been appointed and sent to Ireland, though Mr. Asquith denied
in the House of Commons that the offending generals had been dismissed.
But, if that was the intention, it was abandoned. The reason is not
plain; but the probability is that it had been discovered that sympathy
with Gough was widespread in the Army, and that his dismissal would
bring about very numerous resignations. It was said that a large part of
the Staff of the War Office itself would have laid down their
commissions, and that Aldershot would have been denuded of officers.[74]
Colonel Seely himself described it as a "situation of grave peril to the

Anyhow, no disciplinary action of any kind was taken. It was decided to
treat the matter as one of "misunderstanding," and when Gough and his
brother officers appeared at the War Office on Monday the 23rd they were
told that it was all a mistake to suppose that the Government had ever
intended warlike operations against Ulster (the orders to the fleet had
been cancelled by wireless on the 21st), and that they might return at
once to their commands, with the assurance that they would not be
required to serve against Ulster Loyalists. General Gough, who before
leaving Ireland had asked Sir A. Paget for a clear definition in writing
of the duties that officers would be expected to perform if they went to
Ulster,[76] thought that in view of the "misunderstanding" it would be
wise to have Colonel Seely's assurance also in black and white. Seely
had to hurry off to a Cabinet Meeting, and in his absence the
Adjutant-General reduced to writing the verbal statement of the
Secretary of State. A very confused story about the subsequent fortunes
of this piece of paper made it the central mystery round which raged
angry debates. This much, however, is not doubtful. Seely went from the
Cabinet to Buckingham Palace; when he returned to Downing Street the
paper was there, but the Cabinet had broken up. He looked at the paper,
saw that it did not accurately reproduce the assurance he had verbally
given to Gough, and with the help of Lord Morley he thereupon added two
paragraphs (which Mr. Balfour designated "the peccant paragraphs") to
make it conform to his promise. The addition so made was the only part
of the document that gave the assurance that the officers would not be
called upon "to crush political opposition to the policy or principles
of the Home Rule Bill." With this paper in his pocket General Gough
returned to his command at the Curragh.

There the matter might have ended had not some of the facts become
known to Unionist members of the House of Commons, and to the Press. On
Sunday, the 22nd, Mr. Asquith sent a communication to _The Times_
(published on the 23rd) in which he minimised the whole matter, putting
forward the original pretext of movements of troops solely to protect
Government property--an account at variance with a statement two days
later by Churchill in regard to the reason for naval movements--and on
the 23rd Seely also made a statement in the House of Commons on the same
lines as the Prime Minister's, which ended by saying that all the
movements of troops were completed "and all orders issued have been
punctually and implicitly obeyed." This was an hour or two after his
interview with the generals who had been summoned from Ireland to be
dismissed for refusal to obey orders.

But Mr. Bonar Law had his own information, which was much fuller than
the Government imagined. A long and heated debate followed Colonel
Seely's statement, and was continued on the two following days,
gradually dragging to light the facts with a much greater profusion of
detail than is necessary for this narrative. On the 24th Mr. L.S. Amery
made a speech which infuriated the Radicals and Labour members, but the
speaker, as was his intention, made them quite as angry with the
Government as with himself. The cause of offence was that the Government
was thought to have allowed itself to be coerced by the soldiers, while
the latter had been allowed to make their obedience to orders contingent
on a bargain struck with the Government. This aspect of the case was
forcibly argued by Mr. J. Ward, the Labour member for Stoke, in a speech
greatly admired by enthusiasts for "democratic" principles. Although Mr.
Ward's invective was mainly directed against the Unionist Opposition,
the latter listened to it with secret pleasure, perceiving that it was
in reality more damaging to the Government than to themselves, since
Ministers were forced into an attitude of defence against their own
usually docile supporters. It may here be mentioned that at a much later
date, when Mr. John Ward, in the light of experience gained by his own
distinguished service as an officer in the Great War, had come to the
conviction that "the possibility of forcing Ulster within the ambit of a
Dublin Parliament has now become unthinkable," he acknowledged that in
1914 the only way by which Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Act could have been
enforced was through and by the power of the Army.[77]

So much shaken were the Government by these attacks that on the next
day, the 25th of March, Colonel Seely, at the end of a long narrative of
the transaction, announced his resignation from the Government. He had,
he said, unintentionally misled his colleagues by adding without their
knowledge to the paper given to General Gough; the Cabinet as a whole
was quite innocent of the great offence given to democratic sentiment.
This announcement having had the desired effect of relieving the
Ministry as a whole from responsibility for the "peccant paragraphs,"
and averting Radical wrath from their heads, the Prime Minister later in
the debate said he was not going to accept Seely's resignation. Yet Mr.
Churchill exhibited a fine frenzy of indignation against Mr. Austen
Chamberlain for describing it as a "put-up job."

Only a fairly fertile imagination could suggest a transaction to which
the phrase would be more justly applicable. The idea that Seely, in
adding the paragraphs, was tampering in any way with the considered
policy of the Cabinet was absurd, although it served the purpose of
averting a crisis in the House of Commons. He had been in constant and
close communication with Churchill, who had himself been present at the
War Office Conference with Gough, and who had seen the Prime Minister
earlier in company with Sir John French. The whole business had been
discussed at the Cabinet Meeting, and when Seely returned from his
audience of the King he found the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, and
Lord Morley still in the Cabinet room. Mr. Asquith said on the 25th in
the House of Commons that no Minister except Seely had seen the added
paragraphs, and almost at the same moment in the House of Lords Lord
Morley was saying that he had helped Seely to draft them. Moreover,
Lord Morley actually took a copy of them, which he read in the House of
Lords, and he included the substance of them in his exposition of the
Government policy in the Upper House.

Furthermore, General Gough was on his way to Ireland that night, and if
it had been true that the Prime Minister, or any other Minister,
disapproved of what Seely had done, there was no reason why Gough should
not have found a telegram waiting for him at the Curragh in the morning
cancelling Seely's paragraphs and withdrawing the assurance they
contained. No step of that kind was taken, and the Government, while
repudiating in the House of Commons the action for which Seely was
allowed to take the sole responsibility, permitted Gough to retain in
his despatch-box the document signed by the Army Council.

For it was not only the Secretary of State for War who was involved. The
memorandum had been written by the Adjutant-General, and it bore the
initials of Sir John French and Sir Spencer Ewart as well as Colonel
Seely's. These members of the Army Council knew that the verbal
assurance given by the Secretary of State to Gough had not been
completely embodied in the written memorandum without the paragraph
which had been repudiated after the debate in the Commons on the 24th,
and they were not prepared to go back on their written word, or to be
satisfied by the "put-up job" resignation of their civilian Chief. They
both sent in their resignations; and, as they refused even under
pressure to withdraw them, the Secretary of State had no choice but to
do the same on the 30th of March, this time beyond recall. Mr. Asquith
announced on the same day that he had himself become Secretary of State
for War, and would have to go to Scotland for re-election.

The facts as here related were only extracted by the most persistent and
laborious cross-examination of the Government, who employed all the
familiar arts of official evasion in order to conceal the truth from the
country. Day after day Ministers were bombarded by batteries of
questions in the House of Commons, in addition to the lengthy debates
that occupied the House for several consecutive days. This pressure
compelled the Prime Minister to produce a White Paper, entitled
"Correspondence relating to Recent Events in the Irish Command."[78] It
was published on the 25th of March, the third day of the continuous
debates, and, although Mr. Asquith said it contained "all the material
documents," it was immediately apparent to members who had closely
studied the admissions that had been dragged from the Ministers chiefly
concerned, that it was very far from doing so. Much the most important
documents had, in fact, been withheld. Suspicion as to the good faith of
the Government was increased when it was found that the Lord Chancellor,
Lord Haldane, had interpolated into the official Report of his speech in
the House of Lords a significant word which transformed his definite
pledge that Ulster would not be coerced, into a mere statement that no
"immediate" coercion was contemplated.

In the face of such evasion and prevarication it was out of the question
to let the matter drop. On the 22nd of April the Government was forced
to publish a second White Paper,[79] which contained a large number of
highly important documents omitted from the first. But it was evident
that much was still being kept back, and, in particular, that what had
passed between Sir Arthur Paget and his officers at a conference
mentioned in the published correspondence was being carefully concealed.
Mr. Bonar Law demanded a judicial inquiry, where evidence could be taken
on oath. Mr. Asquith refused, saying that an insinuation against the
honour of Ministers could only be properly investigated by the House of
Commons itself, and that a day would be given for a vote of censure if
the leader of the Opposition meant that he could not trust the word of
Ministers of the Crown. Mr. Bonar Law sharply retorted that he "had
already accused the Prime Minister of making a statement which was
false."[80] But even this did not suffice to drive the Government to
face the ordeal of having their own account of the affair at the Curragh
sifted by the sworn evidence of others who knew the facts. They
preferred to take cover under the dutiful cheers of their parliamentary
majority when they repeated their explanations, which had already been
proved to be untrue.

But the Ulster Unionist Council had, meantime, been making inquiries on
their own account. There was nothing in the least improper, although the
supporters of the Government tried to make out that there was, in the
officers at the Curragh revealing what the Commander-in-Chief had said
to them, so long as they did not communicate anything to the Press. They
were not, and could not be, pledged to secrecy. It thus happened that it
was possible for the Old Town Hall in Belfast to put together a more
complete account of the whole affair than it suited the Government to
reveal to Parliament. On the 17th of April the Standing Committee issued
to the Press a statement giving the main additional facts which a sworn
inquiry would have elicited. It bore the signatures of Lord Londonderry
and Sir Edward Carson, and there can have been few foolhardy enough to
suggest that these were men who would be likely to take such a step
without first satisfying themselves as to the trustworthiness of the
evidence, a point on which the judgment of one of them at all events was
admittedly unrivalled.

From this statement it appeared that Sir Arthur Paget, so far from
indicating that mere "precautionary measures" for the protection of
Government stores were in contemplation, told his generals that
preparations had been made for the employment of some 25,000 troops in
Ulster, in conjunction with naval operations. The gravity of the plan
was revealed by the General's use of the words "battles" and "the
enemy," and his statement that he would himself be "in the firing line"
at the first "battle." He said that, when some casualties had been
suffered by the troops, he intended to approach "the enemy" with a flag
of truce and demand their surrender, and if this should be refused he
would order an assault on their position. The cavalry, whose pro-Ulster
sentiments must have been well known to the Commander-in-Chief, were
told that they would only be required to prevent the infantry "bumping
into the enemy," or in other words to act as a cavalry screen; that they
would not be called upon to fire on "the enemy"; and that as soon as
the infantry became engaged, they would be withdrawn and sent to Cork,
where "a disturbance would be arranged" to provide a pretext for the
movement. A Military Governor of Belfast was to be appointed, and the
general purpose of the operations was to blockade Ulster by land and
sea, and to provoke the Ulster men to shed the first blood.

The publication of this statement with the authority of the two Ulster
leaders created a tremendous sensation. But it probably strengthened the
resolution of the Government to refuse at all costs a judicial inquiry,
which they knew would only supply sworn corroboration of the Ulster
Unionist Council's story. In this they were assisted in an unexpected
way. Just when the pressure was at its highest, relief came by the
diversion of attention and interest caused by another startling event in
Ulster, which will be described in the following chapters.

This Curragh Incident, which caused intense and prolonged excitement in
March 1914, and nearly upset the Asquith Government, had more than
momentary importance in connection with the Ulster Movement. It proved
to demonstration the intense sympathy with the loyalist cause that
pervaded the Army. That sympathy was not, as Radical politicians like
Mr. John Ward believed, an aristocratic sentiment only to be found in
the mess-rooms of smart cavalry regiments. It existed in all branches of
the Service, and among the rank and file as well as the commissioned
ranks. Sir Arthur Paget's telegram reporting to the War Office the
feeling in the 5th and 16th Lancers, said, "Fear men will refuse to
move."[81] The men had not the same facility as the officers in making
their sentiments known at headquarters, but their sympathies were the

The Government had no excuse for being ignorant of this feeling in the
Army. It had been a matter of notoriety for a long time. Its existence
and its danger had been reported by Lord Wolseley to the Duke of
Cambridge, back in the old days of Gladstonian Home Rule, in a letter
that had been since published. In July 1913 _The Times_ gave the
warning in a leading article that "the crisis, the approach of which
Ministers affect to treat with unconcern, is already causing uneasiness
and apprehension in the public Services, and especially in the Army....
It is notorious that some officers have already begun to speak of
sending in their papers." Lord Roberts had uttered a significant warning
in the House of Lords not long before the incident at the Curragh.
Colonel Seely himself had been made aware of it in the previous December
when he signed a War Office Memorandum on the subject[82]; and, indeed,
no officer could fail to be aware of it who had ever been quartered in

Nor was it surprising that this sympathy should manifest itself. No one
is quicker to appreciate the difference between loyalty and disloyalty
than the soldier. There were few regiments in the Army that had not
learnt by experience that the King's uniform was constantly insulted in
Nationalist Ireland, and as invariably welcomed and honoured in Ulster.
In the vote of censure debate on the 19th of March Mr. Cave quoted an
Irish newspaper, which had described the British Army as "the most
immoral and degraded force in Europe," and warned Irishmen that, by
joining it, all they would get was "a red coat, a dishonoured name, a
besmirched character." On the other hand, the very troops who were sent
North from the Curragh against the advice of Sir Arthur Paget, to
provoke "the Ulsterites to shed the first blood," had, as the
Commander-in-Chief reported, "everywhere a good reception."[83]

The welcoming cheers at Holywood and Carrickfergus and Armagh were
probably a pleasant novelty to men fresh from the Curragh or Fermoy.
Even in Belfast itself the contrast was brought home to troops quartered
in Victoria Barracks, all of whom were well aware that on the death of a
comrade his coffin would have to be borne by a roundabout route to the
cemetery, to avoid the Nationalist quarter of the city where a military
funeral would be exposed to insult.

Such experiences, as they harden into traditions, sink deep into the
consciousness of an Army and breed sentiments that are not easily
eradicated. Soldiers ought, of course, to have no politics; but when it
appeared that they might be called upon to open fire on those whom they
had always counted "on our side," in order to subject them forcibly to
men who hated the sight of a British flag and were always ready to spit
upon it, human nature asserted itself. And the incident taught the
Government something as to the difficulty they would have in enforcing
the Home Rule Bill in Ulster.


[64] See White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. II.

[65] See White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. VI.

[66] See White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. VII.

[67] White Paper (Cd. 7329), Part II, No. II.

[68] White Paper (Cd. 7329), Part III.

[69] See _Parliamentary Debates_, vol. lx, p. 73.

[70] Ibid., p. 426.

[71] Cd. 7329, No. XVII.

[72] Ibid., Nos. XVIII, XX.

[73] Ibid., Nos. XXII, XXIII.

[74] See _Parliamentary Debates_, vol. lx, p. 246.

[75] Ibid., p. 400.

[76] White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. XX.

[77] _The Nineteenth Century and After_, January 1921, art. "The Army
and Ireland," by Lieut.-Colonel John Ward, C.B., C.M.G., M.P.

[78] Cd. 7318.

[79] Cd. 7329.

[80] _Parliamentary Debate_, vol. lxi, p. 765.

[81] White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. XVII. See _ante_, p. 180.

[82] White Paper (Cd. 7329), No. I.

[83] Ibid., No. XXVII.



If the "evil-disposed persons" who so excited the fancy of Colonel Seely
were supposed to be Ulster Loyalists, the whole story was an absurdity
that did no credit to the Government's Intelligence in Ireland; and if
there ever was any "information," such as the War Office alleged, it
must have come from a source totally ignorant of Ulster psychology.
Raids on Government stores were never part of the Ulster programme. The
excitement of the Curragh Incident passed off without causing any sort
of disturbance, and, as we have seen, the troops who were sent North
received everywhere in Ulster a loyal welcome. This was a fine tribute
to the discipline and restraint of the people, and was a further proof
of their confidence in their leaders.

Those leaders, it happened, were at that very moment taking measures to
place arms in the hands of the U.V.F. without robbing Government depots
or any one else. That method was left to their opponents in Ireland at a
later date, who adopted it on an extensive scale accompanied by
systematic terrorism. The Ulster plan was quite different. All the arms
they obtained were paid for, and their only crime was that they
successfully hoodwinked Mr. Asquith's colleagues and agents.

Every movement has its Fabius, and also its Hotspur. Both are
needed--the men of prudence and caution, anxious to avoid extreme
courses, slow to commit themselves too far or to burn their boats with
the river behind them; and the impetuous spirits, who chafe at
half-measures, cannot endure temporising, and are impatient for the
order to advance against any odds. Major F.H. Crawford had more of the
temperament of a Hotspur than of a Fabius, but he nevertheless possessed
qualities of patience, reticence, discretion, and coolness which
enabled him to render invaluable service to the Ulster cause in an
enterprise that would certainly have miscarried in the hands of a man
endowed only with impetuosity and reckless courage. If the story of his
adventures in procuring arms for the U.V.F. be ever told in minute
detail, it will present all the features of an exciting novel by Mr.
John Buchan.

Fred Crawford, the man who followed a family tradition when he signed
the Covenant with his own blood,[84] began life as a premium apprentice
in Harland and Wolf's great ship-building yard, after which he served
for a year as an engineer in the White Star Line, before settling down
to his father's manufacturing business in Belfast. Like so many ardent
Loyalists in Ulster, he came of Liberal stock. He was for years honorary
Secretary of the Reform Club in Belfast. The more staid members of this
highly respectable establishment were not a little startled and
perplexed when it was brought to their attention in 1907 that
advertisements in the name of one "Hugh Matthews," giving the Belfast
Reform Club as his address, had appeared in a number of foreign
newspapers--French, Belgian, Italian, German, and Austrian--inquiring
for "10,000 rifles and one million rounds of small-arm ammunition." The
membership of the Club included no Hugh Matthews; but inquiry showed
that the name covered the identity of the Hon. Secretary; and Crawford,
who sought no concealment in the matter, justified the advertisements by
pointing out that the Liberal Government which had lately come into
power had begun its rule in Ireland by repealing the Act prohibiting the
importation of arms, and that there was therefore nothing illegal in
what he was doing. But he resigned his secretaryship, which he felt
might hamper future transactions of the same kind. The advertisement was
no doubt half bravado and half practical joke; he wanted to see whether
it would attract notice, and if anything would come of it. But it had
also an element of serious purpose.

Crawford regarded the advent to power of the Liberal Party as ominous,
as indeed all Ulster did, for the Liberal Party was a Home Rule Party;
and he had from his youth been convinced that the day would come when
Ulster would have to carry out Lord Randolph Churchill's injunction.
That being so, he was not the man to tarry till solemn assemblies of
merchants, lawyers, and divines should propound a policy; if there was
to be fighting, Crawford was going to be ready for it, and thought that
preparation for such a contingency could not begin too soon. And the
advertisements were not barren of practical result. There was an
astonishing number of replies; Crawford purchased a few rifles, and
obtained samples of others; and, what was more important, he gained
knowledge of the Continental trade in second-hand firearms, which had
its centre in the free port of Hamburg, and of the men engaged in that
trade. This knowledge he turned to account in 1912 and the two following

He had been for nearly twenty years an officer of Artillery Militia, and
when the U.V.F. was organised in 1912 he became its Director of Ordnance
on the headquarters staff. He was also a member of the Standing
Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council, where he persistently
advocated preparation for armed resistance long before most of his
colleagues thought such a policy necessary. But early in 1912 he
obtained leave to get samples of procurable firearms, and his
promptitude in acting on it, and in presenting before certain members of
the Committee a collection of gleaming rifles with bayonets fixed, took
away the breath of the more cautious of his colleagues.

From this time forward Crawford was frequently engaged in this business.
He got into communication with the dealers in arms whose acquaintance he
had made six years before. He went himself to Hamburg, and, after
learning something of the chicanery prevalent in the trade, which it
took all his resourcefulness to overcome, he fell in with an honest Jew
by whose help he succeeded in sending a thousand rifles safely to
Belfast. Other consignments followed from time to time in larger or
smaller quantities, in the transport of which all the devices of
old-time smuggling were put to the test. Crawford bought a schooner,
which for a year or more proved very useful, and, while employing her in
bringing arms to Ulster, he made acquaintance with a skipper of one of
the Antrim Iron Ore Company's coasting steamers, whose name was Agnew, a
fine seaman of the best type produced by the British Mercantile Marine,
who afterwards proved an invaluable ally, to whose loyalty and ability
Crawford and Ulster owed a deep debt of gratitude, as they also did to
Mr. Robert Browne, Managing Director of the Antrim Iron Ore Company, for
placing at their disposal both vessels and seamen from time to time.

Now and then the goods fell a victim to Custom House vigilance; for
although there was at this time nothing illegal in importing firearms,
it was not considered prudent to carry on the trade openly, which would
certainly have led to prohibition being introduced and enforced; and,
consequently, infringements of shipping regulations had to be risked,
which gave the authorities the right to interfere if they discovered
rifles where zinc plates or musical instruments ought to have been.

On one occasion a case of arms was shipped on a small steamer from
Glasgow to Portrush, but was not entered in the manifest, so that the
skipper (being a worthy man) knew nothing--officially--of this box which
lay on deck instead of descending into the hold. But two Customs
officials, who noticed it with unsatisfied curiosity, decided, just as
the boat cast off, to make the trip to Portrush. Happily it was a dirty
night, and they, being bad sailors, were constrained to take refuge from
the elements in the Captain's cabin. But when Portrush was reached
search and research proved unavailing to find the mysterious box; the
skipper could find no mention of it in the manifest and thought the
Customs House gentlemen must have been dreaming; they, on the other
hand, threatened to seize the ship if the box did not materialise, and
were told to do so at their peril. But exactly off Ballycastle, which
had been passed while the officials were poorly, there was a float in
the sea attached to a line, which in due course led to the recovery of a
case of valuable property that was none the worse for a few hours' rest
on the bottom of the Moyle.

Qualities of a different sort were called into play in negotiating the
purchase of machine-guns from Messrs. Vickers & Co., at Woolwich. Here a
strong American accent, combined with the providential circumstance that
Mexico happened to be in the grip of revolutionary civil war, overcame
all difficulties, and Mr. John Washington Graham, U.S.A. (otherwise Fred
H. Crawford of Belfast) played his part so effectively that he did not
fail to finish the deal by extracting a handsome commission for himself,
which found its way subsequently to the coffers of the Ulster Unionist
Council. But he compensated the Company by making a suggestion for
improving the mechanism of the Maxim-gun which the great ordnance
manufacturers permanently adopted without having to pay for any patent

Major Crawford was, however, by no means the only person who was at this
time bringing arms and ammunition into Ulster, which, as already
explained, although not illegal, could not be safely done openly on a
large scale. Ammunition in small quantities dribbled into Belfast pretty
constantly, many amateur importers deriving pleasurable excitement from
feeling themselves conspirators, and affording amusement to others by
the tales told of the ingenious expedients resorted to by the smugglers.

There was a dock porter at Belfast, an intense admirer of Sir Edward
Carson, who was the retailer of one of the best of these stories. He was
always on the look-out for the leader arriving by the Liverpool steamer,
and would allow no one else, if he could help it, to handle the great
man's hand-baggage; and when Carson was not a passenger, any of his
satellites who happened to be travelling came in for vicarious
attention. Thus, it happened on one occasion that the writer, arriving
alone from Liverpool, was hailed from the shore before the boat was made
fast. "Is Sir Edward on board?" A shake of the head brought a look of
pathetic disappointment to the face of the hero-worshipper; but he was
on board before the gangway was down and busy collecting the belongings
of the leader's unworthy substitute. When laden with these and half-way
down the gangway he stopped, and, entirely careless of the fact that he
was obstructing a number of passengers impatient to land, he turned and
whispered--a whisper that might be heard thirty yards off--with a
knowing wink of the eye:

"We're getting in plenty of stuff now."

"Yes, yes," was the reply. "Never mind about that now; put those things
on a car."

But he continued, without budging from the gangway, "Och aye, we're
getting in plenty; but my God, didn't Mrs. Blank o' Dungannon bate all?
Did ye hear about her?"

"No, I never heard of Mrs. Blank of Dungannon. But do hurry along, my
good man; you're keeping back all the passengers."

"What! ye never heard o' Mrs. Blank o' Dungannon? Wait now till I tell
ye. Mrs. Blank came off this boat not a fortnight ago, an' as she came
down this gangway I declare to God you'd ha' swore she was within a week
of her time--and divil a ha'porth the matter with her, only cartridges.
An' the fun was that the Custom House boys knowed rightly what it was,
but they dursn't lay a hand on her nor search her, for fear they were

This admiring tribute to the heroic matron of Dungannon--whose real name
was not concealed by the porter--was heard by a number of people, and
probably most of them thought themselves compensated by the story for
the delay it caused them in leaving the steamer.

By the summer of 1913 several thousands of rifles had been brought into
Ulster; but in May of that year the mishap occurred to which Lord
Roberts referred in his letter to Colonel Hickman on the 4th of June,
when he wrote: "I am sorry to read about the capture of rifles."[85]
Crawford had been obliged to find some place in London for storing the
arms which he was procuring from his friends in Hamburg, and with the
help of Sir William Bull, M.P. for Hammersmith, the yard of an
old-fashioned inn in that district was found where it was believed they
would be safe until means of transporting them to the North of Ireland
could be devised. The inn was taken by a firm calling itself John
Ferguson & Co., the active member of which was Sir William Bull's
brother-in-law, Captain Budden; and the business appeared to consist of
dealing in second-hand scientific instruments and machinery,
curiosities, antique armour and weapons, old furniture, and so forth,
which were brought in very heavy cases and deposited in the yard. For a
time it proved useful, and the Maxims from Woolwich passed safely
through the Hammersmith store. But the London police got wind of the
Hammersmith Armoury, and seized a consignment of between six and seven
thousand excellent Italian rifles. A rusty and little-known Act of
Parliament had to be dug up to provide legal authority for the seizure.
Many sportsmen and others then learnt for the first time that, under the
Gun-barrel Proof Act, 1868, every gun-barrel in England must bear the
Gun-makers' Company's proof-mark showing that its strength has been
tested and approved. As the penalty for being in possession of guns not
so marked was a fine of £2 per barrel, to have put in a claim for the
Italian rifles seized at Hammersmith would have involved a payment of
more than £12,000, and would have given the Government information as to
the channel through which they had been imported. No move was made,
therefore, so far as the firearms were concerned, but the bayonets
attached to them, for the seizure of which there was no legal
justification, were claimed by Crawford's agent in Hamburg, and
eventually reached Ulster safely by another route. About the same time a
consignment of half a million rounds of small-arm ammunition, which was
discovered by the authorities through faulty packing in cement-bags, was
also confiscated in another part of the country.

These losses convinced Crawford that a complete change of method must be
adopted if faith was to be kept with the Ulster Volunteers, who were
implicitly trusting their leaders to provide them with weapons to enable
them to make good the Covenant. More than a year before this time he had
told the special Committee dealing with arms, to which he was
immediately responsible, that, in his judgment, the only way of dealing
effectively with the problem was not by getting small quantities
smuggled from time to time by various devices and through disguised
ordinary trade channels, but by bringing off a grand _coup_, as if
running a blockade in time of war. He had crossed the Channel on purpose
to submit this view to Sir Edward Carson and Captain Craig early in
1912, but at that time nothing was done to give effect to it.

But the seizure of so large a number as six thousand rifles at a time
when the political situation looked like moving towards a crisis in the
near future, made necessary a bolder attempt to procure the necessary
arms. When General Sir George Richardson took command of the U.V.F. in
July 1913 he placed Captain (afterwards Lieut.-Colonel) Wilfrid Bliss
Spender on his staff, and soon afterwards appointed him A.Q.M.G. of the
Forces. Captain Spender's duties comprised the supply of equipment,
arms, and ammunition, the organisation of transport, and the supervision
of communications. He was now requested to confer with Major Fred
Crawford with a view to preparing a scheme for procuring arms and
ammunition, to be submitted to a special sub-committee appointed to deal
with this matter, of which Captain James Craig was chairman. Spender
gave his attention mainly to the difficulties that would attend the
landing and distribution of arms if they reached Ulster in safety;
Crawford said he could undertake to purchase and bring them from a
foreign port. Crawford's proposed _modus operandi_ may be given in his
own words:

     "I would immediately go to Hamburg and see B.S. [the Hebrew dealer
     in firearms with whom he had been in communication for some six or
     seven years, and whom he had found perfectly honest, and not at all
     grasping], and consult him as to what he had to offer. I would
     purchase 25,000 to 30,000 rifles, modern weapons if possible, and
     not the Italian Vetteli rifles we had been getting, all to take the
     same ammunition and fitted with bayonets. I would purchase a
     suitable steamer of 600 tons in some foreign port and load her up
     with the arms, and either bring her in direct or transfer the cargo
     to a local steamer in some estuary or bay on the Scottish coast. I
     felt confident, though I knew the difficulties in front of me,
     that I could carry it through all right."[86]

The sub-committee accepted Crawford's proposal, and, when it had been
confirmed by Headquarters Council, he was commissioned to go to Hamburg
to see how the land lay. On arriving there he found that B.S. had still
in store ten thousand Vetteli rifles and a million rounds of ammunition
for them, which he had been holding for Crawford for two years. After a
day or two the dealer laid three alternative proposals before his Ulster
customer: (a) Twenty thousand Vetteli rifles, with bayonets (ammunition
would have to be specially manufactured).(6) Thirty thousand Russian
rifles with bayonets (lacking scabbards) and ammunition, (c) Fifteen
thousand new Austrian, and five thousand German army rifles with
bayonets, both to take standard Mannlicher cartridges.

The last mentioned of these alternatives was much the most costly, being
double the price of the first and nearly treble that of the second; but
it had great advantages over the other two. Ammunition for the Italian
weapons was only manufactured in Italy, and, if further supplies should
be required, could only be got from that country. The Russian rifles
were perfectly new and unused, but were of an obsolete pattern; they
were single-loaders, and fresh supplies of cartridges would be nearly as
difficult to procure for them as for the Italian. The Austrian and
German patterns were both first-rate; the rifles were up-to-date
clip-loaders, and, what was the most important consideration, ammunition
for them would be easily procurable in the United Kingdom or from
America or Canada.

But the difference in cost was so great that Crawford returned to
Belfast to explain matters to his Committee, calling in London on his
way to inform Carson and Craig. He strongly urged the acceptance of the
third alternative offer, laying stress, among other considerations, on
the moral effect on men who knew they had in their hands the most modern
weapon with all latest improvements. Carson was content to be guided on
a technical matter of this sort by the judgment of a man whom he knew
to be an expert, and as James Craig, who was in control of the fund
ear-marked for the purchase of arms, also agreed, Crawford had not much
difficulty in persuading the Committee when he reached Belfast, although
at first they were rather staggered by the difference in cost between
the various proposals.

It was not until the beginning of February 1914 that Crawford returned
to Hamburg to accept this offer, and to make arrangements with B.S. for
carrying out the rest of his scheme for transporting his precious but
dangerous cargo to Ulster. On his way through London he called again on

     "I pointed out to Sir Edward, my dear old Chief," says Crawford in
     a written account of the interview, "that some of my Committee had
     no idea of the seriousness of the undertaking, and, when they did
     realise what they were in for, might want to back out of it. I
     said, 'Once I cross this time to Hamburg there is no turning back
     with me, no matter what the circumstances are so far as my personal
     safety is concerned; and no contrary orders from the Committee to
     cancel what they have agreed to with me will I obey. I shall carry
     out the _coup_ if I lose my life in the attempt. Now, Sir Edward,
     you know what I am about to undertake, and the risks those who back
     me up must run. Are you willing to back me to the finish in this
     undertaking? If you are not, I don't go. But, if you are, I would
     go even if I knew I should not return; it is for Ulster and her
     freedom I am working, and this alone.' I so well remember that
     scene. We were alone; Sir Edward was sitting opposite to me. When I
     had finished, his face was stern and grim, and there was a glint in
     his eye. He rose to his full height, looking me in the eye; he
     advanced to where I was sitting and stared down at me, and shook
     his clenched fist in my face, and said in a steady, determined
     voice, which thrilled me and which I shall never forget: 'Crawford,
     I'll see you through this business, if I should have to go to
     prison for it.' I rose from my chair; I held out my hand and said,
     'Sir Edward, that is all I want. I leave to-night; good-bye.'"

Next day Crawford was in Hamburg. He immediately concluded his
agreement with B.S., and began making arrangements for carrying out the
plan he had outlined to the Committee in Belfast. As will be seen in the
next chapter, he was actually in the middle of this adventure at the
very time when Seely and Churchill were worrying lest "evil-disposed
persons" should raid and rob the scantily stocked Government Stores at
Omagh and Enniskillen.


[84] _Ante_, p. 123.

[85] _Ante_, p. 161.

[86] From a manuscript narrative by Colonel F.H. Crawford.



Although Mr. Lloyd George's message to mankind on New Year's Day, 1914,
was that "Anglo-German relations were far more friendly than for years
past,"[87] and that there was therefore no need to strengthen the
British Navy, it may be doubted, with the knowledge we now possess,
whether the German Government would have been greatly incensed at the
idea of a cargo of firearms finding its way from Hamburg to Ireland in
the spring of that year without the knowledge of the British Government.
But if that were the case Fred Crawford had no reason to suspect it.
German surveillance was always both efficient and obtrusive, and he had
to make his preparations under a vigilance by the authorities which
showed no signs of laxity. Those preparations involved the assembling
and the packing of 20,000 modern rifles, 15,000 of which had to be
brought from a factory in Austria; 10,000 Italian rifles previously
purchased, which B.S. had in store; bayonets for all the firearms; and
upwards of 3,000,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition. The packing of the
arms was a matter to which Crawford gave particular attention. He kept
in mind the circumstances under which he expected them to be landed in
Ulster. Avoidance of confusion and rapidity of handling were of the
first importance. Rifles, bayonets, and ammunition must be not separated
in bulk, requiring to be laboriously reassembled at their destination.
He therefore insisted that parcels should be made up containing five
rifles in each, with bayonets to match, and 100 rounds of ammunition per
rifle, each parcel weighing about 75 lbs. He attached so much importance
to this system of packing that he adhered to it even after discovering
that it would cost about £2,000, and would take more than a month to

While the work of packing was going on, Crawford, who found he was
exciting the curiosity of the Hamburg police, kept out of sight as much
as possible, and he paid more than one visit to the Committee in
Belfast, leaving the supervision to the skipper and packer, whom he had
found he could trust. In the meantime, by advertisements in the
Scandinavian countries, he was looking out for a suitable steamer to
carry the cargo. For a crew his thoughts turned to his old friend,
Andrew Agnew, skipper in the employment of the Antrim Iron Ore Company.
Happily he was not only able to secure the services of Agnew himself,
but Agnew brought with him his mate and his chief and second engineers.
This was a great gain; for they were not only splendid men at their job,
but were men willing to risk their liberty or their lives for the Ulster
cause. Deck-hands and firemen would be procurable at whatever port a
steamer was to be bought.

Several vessels were offered in response to Crawford's advertisements,
and on the 16th of March, when the packing of the arms was well
advanced, Crawford, Agnew, and his chief engineer went to Norway to
inspect these steamers. Eventually they selected the s.s. _Fanny_, which
had just returned to Bergen with a cargo of coal from Newcastle. She was
only an eight-knot vessel, but her skipper, a Norwegian, gave a
favourable report of her sea-going qualities and coal consumption, and
Agnew and his engineer were satisfied by their inspection of her. The
deal was quickly completed, and the Captain and his Norwegian crew
willingly consented to remain in charge of the _Fanny_; and, in order to
enable her to sail under the Norwegian flag, as a precaution against
possible confiscation in British waters, it was arranged that the
Captain should be the nominal purchaser, giving Crawford a mortgage for
her full value.

Then, leaving Agnew to get sufficient stores on board the _Fanny_ for a
three-months' cruise, Crawford returned to Hamburg on the 20th, and
thence to Belfast to report progress. Agnew's orders were to bring the
_Fanny_ in three weeks' time to a rendezvous marked on the chart
between the Danish islands of Langeland and Fünen, where he was to pick
up the cargo of arms, which Crawford would bring in lighters from
Hamburg through the Kiel Canal.

While Crawford was in Belfast arrangements were made to enable him to
keep in communication with Spender, so that in case of necessity he
could be warned not to approach the Irish coast, but to cruise in the
Baltic till a more favourable opportunity. He was to let Spender know
later where he could be reached with final instructions as to landing
the arms; the rendezvous so agreed upon subsequently was Lough Laxford,
a wild and inaccessible spot on the west coast of Sutherlandshire.
Crawford was warned by B.S. that he was far from confident of a
successful end to their labours at Hamburg. He had never before shipped
anything like so large a number of firearms; and the long process of
packing, and Crawford's own mysterious coming and going, would be
certain to excite suspicion, which would reach the secret agents of the
British Government, and lead either to a protest addressed to the German
authorities, followed by a prohibition on shipping the arms, or to
confiscation by the British authorities when the cargo entered British
territorial waters.

These fears must have been present to the mind of B.S. when he met
Crawford at the station in Hamburg on the 27th on his return from
Belfast, for the precautions taken to avoid being followed gave their
movements the character of an adventure by one of Stanley Weyman's
heroes of romance. Whether any suspicion had in fact been aroused
remains unknown. Anyhow, the barges were ready laden, with a tug waiting
till the tide should serve about midnight for making a start down the
Elbe, and through the canal to Kiel. The modest sum of £10 procured an
order authorising the tug and barges to proceed through the canal
without stopping, and requiring other shipping to let them pass. A black
flag was the signal of this privileged position, which suggested the
"Jolly Roger" to Crawford's thoughts, and gave a sense of insolent
audacity when great liners of ten or fifteen thousand tons were seen
making way for a tug-boat towing a couple of lighters.

For the success of the enterprise up to this point Crawford was greatly
indebted to the Jew, B.S. From first to last this gentleman "played the
game" with sterling honesty and straightforward dealing that won his
customers' warm admiration. Several times he accepted Crawford's word as
sufficient security when cash was not immediately forthcoming, and in no
instance did he bear out the character traditionally attributed to his

On arrival at Kiel, Crawford, after a short absence from the tug, was
informed that three men had been inquiring from the lightermen and the
tug's skipper about the nature and destination of the cargo. All such
evidences of curiosity on the subject were rather alarming, but it
turned out that the visitors were probably Mexicans--of what political
party there it would be impossible to guess--whose interest had been
aroused by the rumour, which Crawford had encouraged, that guns were
being shipped to that distracted Republic. Still more alarming was the
arrival on board the tug of a German official in resplendent uniform,
who insisted that he must inspect the cargo. Crawford knew no German,
but the shipping agent who accompanied him produced papers showing that
all formalities had been complied with, and all requisite authorisation
obtained. Neither official papers, however, nor arguments made any
impression on the officer until it occurred to Crawford to produce a
100-marks note, which proved much more persuasive, and sent the official
on his way rejoicing, with expressions of civility on both sides.

The relief of the Ulsterman when the last of the Kiel forts was left
behind, and he knew that his cargo was clear of Germany, may be
imagined. A night was spent crossing Kiel Bay, and in the morning of the
29th they were close to Langeland, and approaching the rendezvous with
the _Fanny_. She was there waiting, and Agnew, in obedience to orders,
had already painted out her name on bows and stern. The next thing was
to transfer the arms from the lighters to the _Fanny_. Crawford was
apprehensive lest the Danish authorities should take an interest in the
proceedings if the work was carried out in the narrow channel between
the islands, and he proposed, as it was quite calm, to defer operations
till they were further from the shore. But the Norwegian Captain
declared that he had often transhipped cargo at this spot, and that
there was no danger whatever. Nevertheless, Crawford's fears were
realised. Before the work was half finished a Danish Port Officer came
on board, asked what the cargo comprised, and demanded to see the ship's
papers. According to the manifest the _Fanny_ was bound for Iceland with
a general cargo, part of which was to be shipped at Bergen. The Danish
officer then spent half an hour examining the bales, and, although he
did not open any of them, Crawford felt no doubt he knew perfectly the
nature of their contents. Finally he insisted on carrying off the
papers, both of the _Fanny_ and the tug-boat, saying that all the
information must be forwarded to Copenhagen to be dealt with by the
Government authorities, but that the papers would be returned early next

One can well believe Crawford when he says that he suffered "mental
agony" that night. After all that he had planned, and all that he had
accomplished by many months of personal energy and resource, he saw
complete and ignominious failure staring him in the face. He realised
the heavy financial loss to the Ulster Loyalists, for his cargo
represented about £70,000 of their money; and he realised the bitter
disappointment of their hopes, which was far worse than any loss of
money. He pictured to himself what must happen in the morning--"to have
to follow a torpedo-boat into the naval base and lie there till the
whole Ulster scheme was unravelled and known to the world as a ghastly
failure, and the Province and Sir Edward and all the leaders the
laughing stock of the world"--and the thought of it all plunged him
almost into despair.

Almost, but not quite. He was not the man to give way to despair. If it
came to the worst he would "put all the foreign crew and their
belongings into the boats and send them off; Agnew and I would arm
ourselves with a bundle of rifles, and cut it open and have 500 rounds
to fight any attempt to board us, and if we slipped this by any chance,
he and I would bring her to England together, he on deck and I in the
engine-room. He knew all about navigation and I knew all about engines,
having been a marine engineer in my youth."

But a less desperate job called for immediate attention. The men engaged
in transferring the cargo from the barges to the steamer wanted to knock
off work for the night; but the offer of double pay persuaded them to
stick to it, and they worked with such good will that by midnight every
bale was safely below hatches in the _Fanny_. Crawford then instructed
the shipping agent to be off in the tug at break of day, giving him
letters to post which would apprise the Committee in Belfast of what had
happened, and give them the means of communicating with himself
according to previously concerted plans.

Before morning a change occurred in the weather, which Crawford regarded
as providential. He was gladdened by the sight of a sea churned white by
half a gale, while a mist lay on the water, reducing visibility to about
300 yards. It would be impossible for the Port Officer's motor-boat to
face such a sea, or, if it did, to find the _Fanny_, unless guided by
her fog-whistle. As soon as eight o'clock had passed--the hour by which
the return of the ship's papers had been promised--Crawford weighed
anchor, and crept out of the narrow channel under cover of the fog, only
narrowly escaping going aground on the way among the banks and shallows
that made it impossible to sail before daylight, but eventually the open
sea was safely reached. But the _Fanny_ was now without papers, and in
law was a pirate ship. It was therefore desirable for her to change her
costume. As many hands as possible were turned to the task of giving a
new colour to the funnel and making some other effective alterations in
her appearance, including a new name on her bows and stern. Thus
renovated, and after a delay of some days, caused by trifling mishaps,
she left the Cattegat behind and steered a course for British waters.

The original plan had been to set a course for Iceland, and, when north
of the Shetlands, to turn to the southward to Lough Laxford, the agreed
rendezvous with Spender. But the incident at Langeland, which had made
the Danish authorities suspect illegal traffic with Iceland, made a
change of plan imperative. Before leaving Danish waters Crawford tried
to communicate this change to Belfast. But, meantime, information had
reached Belfast of certain measures being taken by the Government, and
Spender, hoping to catch Crawford before he left Kiel, went to Dublin to
telegraph from there. In Dublin he was dismayed to read in the
newspapers that a mysterious vessel called the _Fanny_, said to be
carrying arms for Ulster, had been captured by the Danish authorities in
the Baltic. For several days no further news reached Belfast, where it
was assumed that the whole enterprise had failed; and then a code
message informed the Committee that Crawford was in London.

Spender at once went over to see him, in order to warn him not to bring
the arms to Ireland for the present. He was to take them back to
Hamburg, or throw them overboard, or sink the _Fanny_ and take to her
boats, according to circumstances. But in London, instead of Crawford,
Spender found the Hamburg skipper and packer, who told him of Crawford's
escape from Langeland with the loss of the ship's papers. Spender,
knowing nothing of Crawford's change of plan, and anxious to convey to
him the latest instructions, went off on a wild-goose chase to the
Highlands of Scotland, where he spent the best part of an unhappy week
watching the waves tumbling in Lough Laxford, and looking as anxiously
as Tristan for the expected ship.

Meantime the _Fanny_ had crossed the North Sea, and Crawford sent Agnew
ashore at Yarmouth on the 7th of April with orders to hurry to Belfast,
where he was to procure another steamer and bring it to a rendezvous at
Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel. Crawford himself, having
rechristened the _Fanny_ for the second time (this time the _Doreen_),
proceeded down the English Channel, where he had a rather adventurous
cruise in a gale of wind. He kept close to the French coast, to avoid
any unwelcome attentions in British waters, but on the way had an attack
of malaria, which the Captain thought so grave that, no doubt with the
most humane motives, he declared his intention of putting Crawford
ashore at Dunkirk to save his life, a design which no persuasion short
of Crawford's handling of his revolver in true pirate fashion would make
the Norwegian abandon.

In the heavy seas of the Channel the _Doreen_ could not make more than
four knots, and she was consequently twenty-four hours late for the
rendezvous with Agnew at Lundy, where she arrived on the 11th of April.
The Bristol Channel seemed to swarm with pilot boats eager to be of
service, whose inquisitive and expert eyes were anything but welcome to
the custodian of Ulster's rifles; and to his highly strung imagination
every movement of every trawler appeared to betoken suspicion. And,
indeed, they were not without excuse for curiosity; for, a foreign
steamer whose course seemed indeterminate, now making for Cardiff and
now for St. Ives, observed at one time north-east of Lundy and a few
hours later south of the island--a tramp, in fact, that was obviously
"loitering" with no ascertainable destination, was enough to keep
telescopes to the eyes of Devon pilots and fisher-folk, and to set their
tongues wagging. But there was no help for it. Crawford could not leave
the rendezvous till Agnew arrived, and was forced to wander round Lundy
and up and down the Bristol Channel for two days and nights, until, at 5
a.m. on Monday morning, the 13th of April, a signal from a passing
steamer, the _Balmerino_, gave the welcome tidings that Agnew was on
board and was proceeding to sea.

When the two steamers were sufficiently far from Lundy lighthouse and
other prying eyes to make friendly intercourse safe, Agnew came on board
the _Doreen_, bringing with him another North Irish seaman whom he
introduced to Crawford. This man handed to Crawford a paper he had
brought from Belfast. It was typewritten; it bore no address and no
signature; it was no doubt a duplicate of what Spender had taken to the
Highlands, for its purport, as given by Crawford from memory, was to the
following effect: "Owing to great changes since you left, and altered
circumstances, the Committee think it would be unwise to bring the
cargo here at present, and instruct you to proceed to the Baltic and
cruise there for three months, keeping in touch with the Committee, or
else to store the goods at Hamburg till required."

The "great changes" referred to were the operations that led to the
Curragh incident, the story of which Crawford now learnt from Agnew. The
presence of the fleet at Lamlash, and of destroyers off Carrickfergus,
was enough to make the Committee deem it an inopportune moment for
Crawford to bring his goods to Belfast Lough. But the latter was hardly
in a condition to appreciate the gravity of the situation, and the
indignation which the missive aroused in him is intelligible. After all
he had come through, the ups and downs, dangers and escapes--far more
varied than have been here recorded--the disappointment at being ordered
back was cruel; and in his eyes such instructions were despicably
pusillanimous. The caution that had prompted his instructors to leave
the order unsigned moved him to contempt, and in his wrath he was
confident that "the Chief at any rate had nothing to do with it." He
told the messenger that he did not know who had sent the paper, and did
not want to know, and instructed him to take it back and inform the
senders that, as it bore no signature, no date, no address, and no
official stamp, he declined to recognise it and refused to obey it; and,
further, that unless he received within six days properly authenticated
instructions for delivering his cargo, he would run his ship ashore at
high water in the County Down, and let the Ulstermen salve as much as
they could when the tide ebbed.

But Crawford determined to make another effort first to accomplish his
task by less desperate methods. He therefore decided to accompany the
messenger back to Belfast. The _Doreen_, late _Fanny_, was too
foreign-looking to pass unchallenged up Belfast Lough, but he believed
that if the cargo could be transhipped to a vessel known to all watchers
on the North Irish coast, a policy of audacity would have a good chance
of success. The s.s. _Balmerino_, which had brought Agnew and the
messenger to Lundy, was such a vessel; her owner, Mr. Sam Kelly, was an
intimate friend of Crawford's; and if he could see Kelly the matter, he
hoped, might be quickly arranged. The reliance which Crawford placed in
Mr. Sam Kelly was fully justified, for the assistance rendered by this
gentleman was essential to the success of the enterprise. He it was who
freely supplied two steamers, with crews and stevedores, thereby
enabling the last part of this adventurous voyage to be carried through;
and the willingness with which Mr. Kelly risked financial loss, and much
besides, placed Ulster under an obligation to him for which he sought no

Crawford accordingly went off in the _Balmerino_, landed in South Wales
on Tuesday, the 14th of April, and hastened by the quickest route to
Belfast. Agnew took charge of the _Doreen_, with instructions to be at
the Tuskar Light, on the Wexford coast, on the following Friday night,
the 17th, and to return there every night until Crawford rejoined him. A
friend of Crawford's, Mr. Richard Cowser, with whom he had a
conversation on the telephone from Dublin, met him at the railway
station in Belfast and told him that he had a motor waiting to take him
to Craigavon, where the Council was expecting him, and that he would see
Mr. Sam Kelly, the owner of the _Balmerino_, there also. This news made
Crawford very angry. He accused his friend of breach of confidence in
letting anyone know that he was coming to Belfast; he declared he would
have nothing to do with the Council after the unsigned orders he had
received at Lundy; and he besought his friend to take his car to
Craigavon and bring back Kelly, repeating his determination to bring in
his cargo, even if he had to run his ship ashore to do so. Mr. Cowser
replied that this would be very disappointing to Sir Edward Carson, who
was waiting for Crawford at Craigavon, having come from London on
purpose for this Council Meeting. "What!" exclaimed Crawford, "is Sir
Edward there? Why did you not say so at once? Where is your car? Let us
waste no time till I see the Chief and report to him."

That evening of the 14th of April, at Craigavon, was a memorable one for
all who were present at the meeting. Carson invited Crawford to relate
all he had done, and to explain how he proposed to proceed. The latter
did not mince matters in saying what he thought of the Lundy
instructions, which he again declared angrily he intended to disobey.
When he had finished his narrative and his protestations against what he
considered a cowardly policy--a policy that would deprive Ulster of
succour as sorely needed as Derry needed the _Mountjoy_ to break the
boom--Carson put a few questions to him in regard to the feasibility of
his plans. Crawford explained the advantage it would be to transfer the
cargo from the _Fanny_ to a local steamer, which he felt confident he
could bring into Larne, and after the transhipment he would send the
_Fanny_ straight back to the Baltic, where she could settle her account
with the Danish authorities and recover her papers.

Some members of the Council were sceptical about the possibility of
transhipping the cargo at sea, but Crawford, who had fully discussed it
with Agnew, believed that if favoured by calm weather it could be done.
When Carson, after hearing all that was to be said on both sides in the
long debate between Fabius and Hotspur, finally supported the latter,
the question was decided. There was no split--there never was in these
deliberations in Ulster; those whose judgment was overruled always
supported loyally the policy decided upon.

Immediate measures were then taken to give effect to the decision. Kelly
knew of a suitable craft, the s.s. _Clydevalley_, for sale at that
moment in Glasgow, which would be in Belfast next morning with a cargo
of coal. This was providential. A collier familiar to every longshoreman
in Belfast Lough, carrying on her usual trade this week, could hardly be
suspected of carrying rifles when she returned next week ostensibly in
the same line of business. It was settled that Crawford should cross to
Glasgow at once and buy her; the steamer, when bought, was to go from
Belfast to Llandudno, where she would pick up Crawford on the sands, and
proceed to keep the rendezvous with Agnew at the Tuskar Light on Friday;
and, after taking over the _Fanny's_ cargo, would then steam boldly up
Belfast Lough and through the Musgrave Channel to the Belfast docks,
where he undertook to arrive on the Friday week, the 24th of April, the
various proposals which named Larne, Bangor, and Donaghadee as ports of
discharge having all been rejected after full discussion. This last
decision was not approved by Crawford, for he and Spender had long
before this time agreed that Larne harbour was the proper place to land
the arms, both because the large number of country roads leading to it
would facilitate rapid distribution, and because it would be more
difficult for the authorities to interfere with the disembarkation there
than at any of the other ports.

Before parting from the Council Crawford made it quite clear that during
the remainder of the adventure he would recognise no orders of any kind
unless they bore the autograph signature of Sir Edward Carson. On this
understanding he set out for Glasgow, bought the _Clydevalley_, and went
by train to Llandudno to await her arrival. These affairs had left very
little margin of time to spare. The _Clydevalley_ could not be at
Llandudno before the morning of the 17th, and Agnew would be looking for
her at the Tuskar the same evening. As it actually turned out she only
arrived at the Welsh watering-place late that night, and, after picking
up Crawford, who had spent an anxious day on the beach, arrived off the
Wexford coast at daybreak on Saturday, the 18th. Not a sign of the
_Fanny_ was to be seen all that day, or the following night; and when
the skipper of the _Clydevalley_, who had been on the _Balmerino_ and
was privy to the arrangements with Agnew, gave Crawford reason to think
there might have been a misunderstanding as to the rendezvous, Yarmouth
having been also mentioned in that connection, Crawford was in a
condition almost of desperation.

It was, indeed, a situation to test the nerves, to say nothing of the
temper, of even the most resolute. It was Sunday, and Crawford had
undertaken to be at Copeland Island, at the mouth of Belfast Lough, on
Friday evening for final landing instructions. The precious cargo, which
had passed safely through so many hazards, had vanished and was he knew
not where. He had heard nothing of the _Fanny_ (or _Doreen_) since he
landed at Tenby five days previously. Had she been captured by a
destroyer from Pembroke, or overhauled, pirate as she was without
papers, by Customs officials from Rosslare? Or had Agnew mistaken his
instructions, and risked all the dangers of the English Channel in a
fruitless voyage to Yarmouth, where, even if still undetected, the
_Fanny_ would be too far away to reach Copeland by Friday, unless Agnew
could be communicated with at once?

There was only one way in which such communication could be managed, and
that way Crawford now took with characteristic promptitude and energy.
The _Clydevalley_ crossed the Irish Sea to Fishguard, where he took
train on Sunday night to London and Yarmouth, having first made
arrangements with the skipper for keeping in touch. But there was no
trace of the _Fanny_ at Yarmouth, and no word from Agnew at the Post
Office. There appeared to be no solution of the problem, and every
precious hour that slipped away made ultimate failure more menacing. But
at two o'clock the outlook entirely changed. A second visit to the Post
Office was rewarded by a telegram in code from Agnew saying all was
well, and that he would be at Holyhead to pick up Crawford on Tuesday
evening. There was just time to catch a London train that arrived in
time for the Irish mail from Euston. On Tuesday morning Crawford was
pacing the breakwater at Holyhead, and a few hours later he was
discussing matters with Agnew in the little cabin of the _Clydevalley_.

The latter had amply made up for the loss of time caused by some
misunderstanding as to the rendezvous at the Tuskar, for he was able to
show Crawford, to his intense delight, that the cargo had all been
safely and successfully transferred to the hold of the _Clydevalley_ in
a bay on the Welsh coast, mainly at night. Some sixteen transport
labourers from Belfast, willing Ulster hands, had shifted the stuff in
less than half the time taken by Germans at Langeland over the same job.
There was, therefore, nothing more to be done except to steam leisurely
to Copeland, for which there was ample time before Friday evening. The
_Fanny_ had departed to an appointed rendezvous on the Baltic coast of

It was now the turn of the _Clydevalley_ to yield up her obscure
identity, and to assume an historic name appropriate to the adventure
she was bringing to a triumphant climax--a name of good omen in Ulster
ears. Strips of canvas, 6 feet long, were cut and painted with white
letters on a black ground, and affixed to bows and stern, so that the
men waiting at Copeland might hail the arrival of the _Mountjoy II_.

Off Copeland Island a small vessel was waiting, which Agnew recognised
as a tender belonging to Messrs. Workman & Clark. The men on board, as
soon as they could make out the name of the approaching vessel,
understood at once, and raised a ringing cheer. Two of them were seen
gesticulating and hailing the _Mountjoy_. Crawford, suspecting fresh
orders to retreat, paid no attention, and told Agnew to hold on his
course; and even when presently he was able to recognise Mr. Cowser and
Mr. Dawson Bates on board the tender, and to hear them shouting that
they had important instructions for him, he still refused to let them
come on board. "If the orders are not signed by Sir Edward Carson," he
shouted back, "you can take them back to where they came from." But the
orders they brought had been signed by the leader, a special messenger
having been sent to London to obtain his signature, and the change of
plan they indicated was, in fact, just what Crawford desired. The bulk
of the arms were to be landed at Larne, the port he had always favoured,
and lesser quantities were to be taken to Bangor and Donaghadee.

It was 10.30 that night, the 24th of April 1914, when the _Mountjoy II_
steamed alongside the landing-stage at Larne, where she had been eagerly
awaited for a couple of hours. The voyage of adventure was over. Fred
Crawford, with the able and zealous help of Andrew Agnew, had
accomplished the difficult and dangerous task he had undertaken, and a
service had been rendered to Ulster not unworthy to rank beside the
breaking of the boom across the Foyle by the first and more renowned


[87] _Annual Register_, 1914, p. 1.



The arrangements that had been made for the landing and disposal of the
arms when they arrived in port were the work of an extremely efficient
and complete organisation. In the previous summer Captain Spender, it
will be remembered, had been appointed to a position on Sir George
Richardson's staff which included in its duties that of the organisation
of transport. A railway board, a supply board, and a transport board had
been formed, on which leading business men willingly served; every
U.V.F. unit had its horse transport, and in addition a special motor
corps, organised in squadrons, and a special corps of motor-lorries were

More than half the owners of motor-cars in Ulster placed their cars at
the disposal of the motor corps, to be used as and when required. The
corps was organised in sections of four cars each, and in squadrons of
seventeen cars each, with motor cyclist despatch-riders; a signalling
corps of despatch-riders and signallers completed the organisation. The
lively interest aroused by the practice and displays of the
last-mentioned corps did much to promote the high standard of
proficiency attained by its "flag-waggers," many of whom were women and
girls. In particular the signalling-station at Bangor gained a
reputation which attracted many English sympathisers with Ulster to pay
it a visit when they came to Belfast for the great Unionist

The despatch-riders on motor-cycles made the Ulster Council independent
of the Post Office, which for very good reasons they used as little as
possible. Post-houses were opened at all the most important centres in
Ulster, between which messages were transmitted by despatch-rider or
signal according to the nature of the intervening country. Along the
coast of Down and Antrim the organisation of signals was complete and
effective. The usefulness of the despatch-riders' corps was fully tested
and proved during the Curragh Incident, when news of all that was taking
place at the Curragh was received by this means two or three times a day
at the Old Town Hall in Belfast, where there was much information of
what was going on that was unknown at the Irish Office in London.

All this organisation was at the disposal of the leaders for handling
the arms brought in the hold of the _Mountjoy II_. The perfection of the
arrangements for the immediate distribution of the rifles and ammunition
among the loyalist population, and the almost miraculous precision with
which they were carried out on that memorable Friday night, extorted the
admiration even of the most inveterate political enemies of Ulster. The
smoothness with which the machinery of organisation worked was only
possible on account of the hearty willingness of all the workers,
combined with the discipline to which they gladly submitted themselves.

The whole U.V.F. was warned for a trial mobilisation on the evening of
the 24th of April, and the owners of all motor-cars and lorries were
requested to co-operate. Very few either of the Volunteers or the motor
owners knew that anything more than manoeuvres by night for practice
purposes was to take place. All motors from certain specified districts
were ordered to be at Larne by 8 o'clock in the evening; from other
districts the vehicles were to assemble at Bangor and Donaghadee
respectively, at a later hour. All the roads leading to these ports were
patrolled by volunteers, and at every cross-roads over the greater part
of nine counties men of the local battalions were stationed to give
directions to motor-drivers who might not be familiar with the roads. At
certain points these men were provided with reserve supplies of petrol,
and with repairing tools that might be needed in case of breakdown. It
is a remarkable testimony to the zeal of these men for the cause that,
although none of them knew he was taking part in an exciting adventure,
not one, so far as is known, left his post throughout a cold and wet
night, having received orders not to go home till daybreak. And these
were men, it must be remembered, who before putting on the felt hats,
puttees, and bandoliers which constituted their uniform, had already
done a full day's work, and were not to receive a sixpence for their
night's job.

At the three ports of discharge large forces of volunteers were
concentrated. Sir George Richardson, G.O.C. in C., remained in Belfast
through the night, being kept fully and constantly informed of the
progress of events by signal and motor-cyclist despatch-riders. Captain
James Craig was in charge of the operations at Bangor; at Larne General
Sir William Adair was in command, with Captain Spender as Staff officer.

The attention of the Customs authorities in Belfast was diverted by a
clever stratagem. A tramp steamer was brought up the Musgrave Channel
after dark, her conduct being as furtive and suspicious as it was
possible to make it appear. At the same time a large wagon was brought
to the docks as if awaiting a load. The skipper of the tramp took an
unconscionable time, by skilful blundering, in bringing his craft to her
moorings. The suspicions of the authorities were successfully aroused;
but every possible hindrance was put in their way when they began to
investigate. The hour was too late: could they not wait till daylight?
No? Well, then, what was their authority? When that was settled, it
appeared that the skipper had mislaid his keys and could not produce the
ship's papers--and so on. By these devices the belief of the officers
that they had caught the offender they were after was increasingly
confirmed every minute, while several hours passed before they were
allowed to realise that they had discovered a mare's-nest. For when at
last they "would stand no more nonsense," and had the hatches opened and
the papers produced, the latter were quite in order, and the
cargo--which they wasted a little additional time in turning
over--contained nothing but coal.

Meantime the real business was proceeding twenty miles away. All
communications by wire from the three ports were blocked by "earthing"
the wires, so as to cause short circuit. The police and coast-guards
were "peacefully picketed," as trade unionists would call it, in their
various barracks--they were shut in and strongly guarded. No conflict
took place anywhere between the authorities and the volunteers, and the
only casualty of any kind was the unfortunate death of one
coast-guardsman from heart disease at Donaghadee.

At Larne, where much the largest portion of the _Mountjoy's_ cargo was
landed, a triple cordon of Volunteers surrounded the town and harbour,
and no one without a pass was allowed through. The motors arrived with a
punctuality that was wonderful, considering that many of them had come
from long distances. As the drivers arrived near the town and found
themselves in an apparently endless procession of similar vehicles,
their astonishment and excitement became intense. Only when close to the
harbour did they learn what they were there for, and received
instructions how to proceed. They had more than two hours to wait in
drizzling rain before the _Mountjoy_ appeared round the point of
Islandmagee, although her approach had been made known to Spender by
signal at dusk. There were about five hundred motor vehicles assembled
at Larne alone, and such an invasion of flaring head-lights gave the
inhabitants of the little town unwonted excitement. Practically all the
able-bodied men of the place were either on duty as Volunteers or were
willing workers in the landing of the arms. The women stood at their
doors and gave encouraging greeting to the drivers; many of them ran
improvised canteens, which supplied the workers with welcome
refreshments during the night.

There was a not unnatural tendency at first on the part of some of the
motor-drivers to look upon the event more in the light of a meet of
hounds than of the gravest possible business, and to hang about
discussing the adventure with the other "sportsmen." But the use of
vigorous language brought them back to recognition of the seriousness of
the work before them, and the discharge of the cargo proceeded hour
after hour with the utmost rapidity and with the regularity of a
well-oiled machine. The cars drew up beside the _Mountjoy_ in an endless
_queue_; each received its quota of bales according to its carrying
capacity, and was despatched on its homeward journey without a moment's

The wisdom of Crawford's system of packing was fully vindicated. There
was no confusion, no waiting to bring ammunition from one part of the
ship's hold to match with rifles brought from another, and bayonets from
a third. The packages, as they were carried from the steamer or the
cranes, were counted by checking clerks, and their destination noted as
each car received its load. But even the large number of vehicles
available would have been insufficient for the purpose on hand if each
had been limited to a single load; dumps had therefore been formed at a
number of selected places in the surrounding districts, where the arms
were temporarily deposited so as to allow the cars to return and perform
the same duty several times during the night.

While the _Mountjoy_ was discharging the Larne consignment on to the
quay, she was at the same time transhipping a smaller quantity into a
motor-boat, moored against her side, which when laden hurried off to
Donaghadee; and she left Larne at 5 in the morning to discharge the last
portion of her cargo at Bangor, which was successfully accomplished in
broad daylight after her arrival there about 7.30.

Crawford refused to leave the ship at either Larne or Bangor, feeling
himself bound in honour to remain with the crew until they were safe
from arrest by the naval authorities. It was well known in Belfast that
a look-out was being kept for the _Fanny_, which had figured in the
Press as "the mystery ship" ever since the affair at Langeland, and had
several times been reported to have been viewed at all sorts of odd
places on the map, from the Orkneys to Tory Island. Just as Agnew was
casting off from Bangor, when the last bale of arms had gone ashore, a
message from U.V.F. headquarters informed him that a thirty-knot cruiser
was out looking for the _Fanny_. To mislead the coast-guards on shore a
course was immediately set for the Clyde--the very quarter from which a
cruiser coming from Lamlash was to be expected--and when some way out to
sea Crawford cut the cords holding the canvas sheets that bore the name
of the _Mountjoy_, so that within five minutes the filibustering pirate
had again become the staid old collier _Clydevalley_, which for months
past had carried her regular weekly cargo of coal from Scotland to
Belfast. As before at Langeland, so now at Copeland, fog providentially
covered retreat, and through it the _Clydevalley_ made her way
undetected down the Irish Sea. At daybreak next morning Crawford landed
at Rosslare; and Agnew then proceeded along the French and Danish coasts
to the Baltic to the rendezvous with the _Fanny_, in order to bring back
the Ulstermen members of her crew, after which "the mystery ship" was
finally disposed of at Hamburg.

Sir Edward Carson and Lord Londonderry were both in London on the 24th
of April. At an early hour next morning a telegram was delivered to each
of them, containing the single word "Lion." It was a code message
signifying that the landing of the arms had been carried out without a
hitch. Before long special editions of the newspapers proclaimed the
news to all the world, and as fresh details appeared in every successive
issue during the day the public excitement grew in intensity. Wherever
two or three Unionists were gathered together exultation was the
prevailing mood, and eagerness to send congratulations to friends in

Soon after breakfast a visitor to Sir Edward Carson found a motor
brougham standing at his door, and on being admitted was told that "Lord
Roberts is with Sir Edward." The great little Field-Marshal, on learning
the news, had lost not a moment in coming to offer his congratulations
to the Ulster leader. "Magnificent!" he exclaimed, on entering the room
and holding out his hand, "magnificent! nothing could have been better
done; it was a piece of organisation that any army in Europe might be
proud of."

But it was not to be expected that the Government and its supporters
would relish the news. The Radical Press, of course, rang all the
changes of angry vituperation, especially those papers which had been
prominent in ridiculing "Ulster bluff" and "King Carson's wooden guns";
and they now speculated as to whether Carson could be "convicted of
complicity" in what Mr. Asquith in the House of Commons described as
"this grave and unprecedented outrage." Carson soon set that question at
rest by quietly rising in his place in the House and saying that he took
full responsibility for everything that had been done. The Prime
Minister, amid the frenzied cheers of his followers, assured the House
that "His Majesty's Government will take, without delay, appropriate
steps to vindicate the authority of the law." For a short time there was
some curiosity as to what the appropriate steps would be. None, however,
of any sort were taken; the Government contented itself with sending a
few destroyers to patrol for a short time the coasts of Antrim and Down,
where they were saluted by the Ulster Signalling Stations, and their
officers hospitably entertained on shore by loyalist residents.

On the 28th of April a further debate on the Curragh Incident took place
in the House of Commons, which was a curious example of the rapid
changes of mood that characterise that Assembly. Most of the speeches
both from the front and back benches were, if possible, even more
bitter, angry, and defiant than usual. But at the close of one of the
bitterest of them all Mr. Churchill read a typewritten passage that was
recognised as a tiny olive-branch held out to Ulster. Carson responded
next day in a conciliatory tone, and the Prime Minister was thought to
suggest a renewal of negotiations in private. For some time nothing came
of this hint; but on the 12th of May Mr. Asquith announced that the
third reading of the Home Rule Bill (for the third successive year, as
required by the Parliament Act before being presented for the signature
of the King) would be taken before Whitsuntide, but that the Government
intended to make another attempt to appease Ulster by introducing "an
amending proposal, in the hope that a settlement by agreement may be
arrived at"; and that the two Bills--the Home Rule Bill and the Bill to
amend it--might become law practically at the same time. But he gave no
hint as to what the "amending proposal" was to be, and the reception of
the announcement by the Opposition did not seem to presage agreement.

Mr. Bonar Law insisted that the House of Commons ought to be told what
the Amending Bill would propose, before it was asked finally to pass the
Home Rule Bill. But the real fact was, as every member of the House of
Commons fully realised, that Mr. Asquith was not a free agent in this
matter. The Nationalists were not at all pleased at the attempts already
made, trivial as they were, to satisfy Ulster, and Mr. Redmond protested
against the promise of an Amending Bill of any kind. Mr. Asquith could
make no proposal sufficient to allay the hostility of Ulster that would
not alienate the Nationalists, whose support was essential to the
continuance of his Government in office.

On the same day as this debate in Parliament the result of a by-election
at Grimsby was announced in which the Unionist candidate retained the
seat; a week later the Unionists won a seat in Derbyshire; and two days
afterwards crowned these successes with a resounding victory at Ipswich.
The last-mentioned contest was considered so important that Mr. Lloyd
George and Sir Edward Carson went down to speak the evening before the
poll for their respective sides. Mr. Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, made his appeal to the cupidity of the constituency, which
was informed that it would gain £15,000 a year from his new Budget, in
addition to large sums, of which he gave the figure, for old age
pensions and under the Government's Health Insurance Act.[88] Sir Edward
Carson laid stress on Ulster's determination to resist Home Rule by
force. The Unionist candidate won the seat next day in this essentially
working-class constituency by a substantial majority, although his
Liberal opponent, Mr. Masterman, was a Cabinet Minister trying for the
second time to return to Parliament. Out of seven elections since the
beginning of the session the Government had lost four.

It happened that the two latest new members took their seats on the 25th
of May, on which date the Home Rule Bill was passed by the House of
Commons on third reading for the last time. The occasion was celebrated
by the Nationalists, not unnaturally, by a great demonstration of
triumph, both in the House itself and outside in Palace Yard. Men on the
other side reflected that the tragedy of civil war had been brought one
stage nearer.

The reply of Ulster to the passing of the Bill was a series of reviews
of the U.V.F. during the Whitsuntide recess. Carson, Londonderry, Craig,
and most of the other Ulster members attended these parades, which
excited intense enthusiasm through the country, more especially as the
arms brought by the _Mountjoy_ were now seen for the first time in the
hands of the Volunteers. Several battalions were presented with Colours
which had been provided by Lady Londonderry, Lady Massereene, Mrs.
Craig, and other local ladies, and the ceremony included the dedication
of these Colours by the Bishop of Down and the Moderator of the
Presbyterian Church. Many visitors from England witnessed these
displays, and among them were several deputations of Liberal and Labour
working men, who reported on their return that what they had seen had
converted them to sympathy with Ulster.[89]

After the recess the promised Amending Bill was introduced in the House
of Lords on the 23rd of June by the Marquis of Crewe, who explained that
it embodied Mr. Asquith's proposals of the 9th of March, and that he
invited amendments. Lord Lansdowne at once declared that these
proposals, which had been rejected as inadequate three months ago, were
doubly insufficient now. But the invitation to amend the Bill was
accepted, Lord Londonderry asking the pertinent question whether the
Government would tell Mr. Redmond that they would insist on acceptance
of any amendments made in response to Lord Crewe's invitation--a
question to which no answer was forthcoming. Lord Milner, in the course
of the debate, said the Bill would have to be entirely remodelled, and
he laid stress on the point that if Ulster were coerced to join the rest
of Ireland it would make a united Ireland for ever impossible, and that
the employment of the Army and Navy for the purpose of coercion would
give a shock to the Empire which it would not long survive; to which
Lord Roberts added that such a policy would mean the utter destruction
of the Army, as he had warned the Prime Minister before the incident at
the Curragh.

On the 8th of July the Bill was amended by substituting the permanent
exclusion of the whole province of Ulster--which Mr. Balfour had named
"the clean cut"--for the proposed county option with a time limit; and
several other alterations of minor importance were also made. The Bill
as amended passed the third reading on the 14th, when Lord Lansdowne
predicted that, whatever might be the fate of the measure and of the
Home Rule Bill which it modified, the one thing certain was that the
idea of coercing Ulster was dead.

In Ulster itself, meanwhile, the people were bent on making Lord
Lansdowne's certainty doubly sure. Carson went over for the Boyne
celebration on the 12th of July. The frequency of his visits did nothing
to damp the ardour with which his arrival was always hailed by his
followers. The same wonderful scenes, whether at Larne or at the Belfast
docks, were repeated time after time without appearing to grow stale by
repetition. They gave colour to the Radical jeer at "King Carson," for
no royal personage could have been given a more regal reception than was
accorded to "Sir Edward" (as everybody affectionately called him in
Belfast) half a dozen times within a few months.

This occasion, when he arrived on the 10th by the Liverpool steamer,
accompanied by Mr. Walter Long, was no exception. His route had been
announced in the Press. Countless Union Jacks were displayed in every
village along both shores of the Lough. Every vessel at anchor,
including the gigantic White Star Liner _Britannic_, was dressed; every
fog-horn bellowed a welcome; the multitude of men at work in the great
ship-yards crowded to places commanding a view of the incoming packet,
and waved handkerchiefs and raised cheers for Sir Edward; fellow
passengers jostled each other to get sight of him as he went down the
gangway and to give him a parting cheer from the deck; the dock sheds
were packed with people, many of them bare-headed and bare-footed
women, who pressed close in the hope of touching his hand, or hearing
one of his kindly and humorous greetings. It was the same in the streets
all the way from the docks to the centre of the city, and out through
the working-class district of Ballymacarret to the country beyond, and
in every hamlet on the road to Newtownards and Mount Stewart--people
congregating to give him a cheer as he passed in Lord Londonderry's
motor-car, or pausing in their work on the land to wave a greeting from
fields bordering the road.

Radical newspapers in England believed--or at any rate tried to make
their readers believe--that the "Northcliffe Press," particularly _The
Times_ and _Daily Mail_, gave an exaggerated account of these
extraordinary demonstrations of welcome to Carson, and of the
impressiveness of the great meetings which he addressed. But the
accounts in Lord Northcliffe's papers did not differ materially from
those in other journals like _The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express,
The Standard, The Morning Post, The Observer, The Scotsman_, and _The
Spectator_. There was no exaggeration. The special correspondents gave
faithful accounts of what they saw and heard, and no more. Editorial
support was a different matter. Lord Northcliffe's papers were unfailing
in their support of the Ulster cause, as were many other great British
journals; and even when at a later period Lord Northcliffe's attitude on
the general question of Irish government underwent a change that was
profoundly disappointing to Ulstermen, his papers never countenanced the
idea of applying coercion to Ulster. In the years 1911 to 1914 _The
Times_ remained true to the tradition started by John Walter, who,
himself a Liberal, went personally to Belfast in 1886 to inform himself
on the question, then for the first time raised by Gladstone; and,
having done so, supported the loyalist cause in Ireland till his death.
A series of weighty articles in 1913 and 1914 approved and encouraged
the resistance threatened by Ulster to Home Rule, and justified the
measures taken in preparation for it. Whatever may have been the reason
for a different attitude at a later date, Ulster owed a debt of
gratitude to _The Times_ in those troubled years.

The long-expected crisis appeared to be very close when Carson arrived
in Belfast on the 10th of July, 1914. He had come to attend a meeting of
the Ulster Unionist Council--sitting for the first time as the
Provisional Government. Craig communicated to the Press the previous day
the Preamble and some of the articles of the Constitution of the
Provisional Government, hitherto kept strictly secret, one article being
that the administration would be taken over "in trust for the
Constitution of the United Kingdom," and that "upon the restoration of
direct Imperial Government, the Provisional Government shall cease to

At this session on the 10th, the proceedings of which were private,
Carson explained the extreme gravity of the situation now reached. The
Home Rule Bill would become law probably in a few weeks. It was pretty
certain that the Nationalists would not permit the Government to accept
the Amending Bill in the altered form in which it had left the Upper
House. In that case, nothing remained for them in Ulster but to carry
out the policy they had resolved upon long ago, and to make good the
Covenant. After his forty minutes' speech a quiet and business-like
discussion followed. Plenary authority to take any action necessary in
emergency was conferred unanimously on the executive. The course to be
followed in assuming the administration was explained and agreed to, and
when they separated all the members felt that the crisis for which they
had been preparing so long had at last come upon them. There was no

Next day there was a parade of 3,000 U.V.F. at Larne. A distinguished
American who was present said after the march past, "You could destroy
these Volunteers, but you could not conquer them." Carson spoke with
exceptional solemnity to the men, telling them candidly that, "unless
something happens the evidence of which is not visible at present," he
could discern nothing but darkness ahead, and no hope of peace. He ended
by exhorting his followers throughout Ulster to preserve their
self-control and to "commit no act against any individual or against any
man's property which would sully the great name you have already won."

As usual, his influence was powerful enough to prevent disturbance. The
Government had made extensive military preparations to maintain order on
the 12th of July; but, as a well-known "character" in Belfast expressed
it, "Sir Edward was worth twenty battalions in keeping order." The
anniversary was celebrated everywhere by enormous masses of men in a
state of tense excitement. Lord Londonderry addressed an immense
gathering at Enniskillen; seventy thousand Orangemen marched from
Belfast to Drumbeg to hear Carson, who sounded the same warning note as
at Larne two days before. But nowhere throughout the Province was a
single occurrence reported that called for action by the police.

When the Ulster leaders returned to London on the 14th they were met by
reports of differences in the Cabinet over the Amending Bill, which was
to be brought before the House of Commons on the following Monday.
Nationalist pressure no doubt dictated the deletion of the amendments
made by the Peers and the restoration of the Bill to its original shape.
A minority of the Cabinet was said to be opposed to this course. Whether
that was true or false, the Prime Minister must by this time have
realised that he had allowed the country to drift to the brink of civil
war, and that some genuine effort must be made to arrive at a peaceable

Accordingly on Monday, the 20th, instead of introducing the Amending
Bill, Mr. Asquith announced in the House of Commons that His Majesty the
King, "in view of the grave situation which has arisen, has thought it
right to summon representatives of parties, both British and Irish, to a
conference at Buckingham Palace, with the object of discussing
outstanding issues in relation to the problem of Irish Government." The
Prime Minister added that at the King's suggestion the Speaker, Mr.
James Lowther, would preside over the Conference, which would begin its
proceedings the following day.

The Liberals, the British Unionists, the Nationalists, and the Ulstermen
were respectively represented at the Buckingham Palace Conference by Mr.
Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George, Lord Lansdowne and Mr. Bonar Law, Mr.
Redmond and Mr. Dillon, Sir Edward Carson and Captain James Craig. The
King opened the Conference in person on the 21st with a speech
recognising the extreme gravity of the situation, and making an
impressive appeal for a peaceful settlement of the question at issue.
His Majesty then withdrew. The Conference deliberated for four days, but
were unable to agree as to what area in Ulster should be excluded from
the jurisdiction of the Parliament in Dublin. On the 24th Mr. Asquith
announced the breakdown of the Conference, and said that in consequence
the Amending Bill would be introduced in the House of Commons on
Thursday, the 30th of July.

Here was the old deadlock. The last glimmer of hope that civil war might
be averted seemed to be extinguished. Only ten days had elapsed since
Carson had gloomily predicted at Larne that peace was impossible "unless
something happens, the evidence of which is not visible at present." But
that "something" did happen--though it was something infinitely more
dreadful, infinitely more devastating in its consequences, even though
less dishonouring to the nation, than the alternative from which it
saved us. Balanced, as it seemed, on the brink of civil war, Great
Britain and Ireland together toppled over on the other side into the
maelstrom of world-wide war.

On the 30th of July, when the Amending Bill was to be discussed, the
Prime Minister said that, with the concurrence of Mr. Bonar Law and Sir
Edward Carson, it would be indefinitely postponed, in order that the
country at this grave crisis in the history of the world "should present
a united front and be able to speak and act with the authority of an
undivided nation." To achieve this, all domestic quarrels must be laid
aside, and he promised that "no business of a controversial character"
would be undertaken.

Thus it happened that the Amending Bill was never seen by the House of
Commons. Four days later the United Kingdom was at war with the greatest
military Empire in the world. The opportunity had come for Ulster to
prove whether her cherished loyalty was a reality or a sham.


[88] _Annual Register_, 1914, p. 110.

[89] _Annual Register_, 1914, p. 114.



More than a year before the outbreak of the Great War a writer in _The
Morning Post_, describing the Ulster Volunteers who were then beginning
to attract attention in England, used language which was more accurately
prophetic than he can have realised in May 1913:

     "What these men have been preparing for in Ulster," he wrote, "may
     be of value as a military asset in time of national emergency. I
     have seen the men at drill, I have seen them on parade, and experts
     assure me that in the matter of discipline, physique, and all
     things which go to the making of a military force they are worthy
     to rank with our regular soldiers. It is an open secret that, once
     assured of the maintenance unimpaired of the Union between Great
     Britain and Ireland under the Imperial Parliament alone, a vast
     proportion of the citizen army of Ulster would cheerfully hold
     itself at the disposal of the Imperial Government and volunteer for
     service either at home or abroad!"[90]

The only error in the prediction was that the writer underestimated the
sacrifice Ulster would be willing to make for the Empire. When the
testing time came fifteen months after this appreciation was published
all hope of unimpaired maintenance of the Union had to be sorrowfully
given up, and only those who were in a position to comprehend, with
sympathy, the depth and intensity of the feeling in Ulster on the
subject could realise all that this meant to the people there. Yet, all
the same, their "citizen army" did not hesitate to "hold itself at the
disposal of the Imperial Government, and volunteer for service at home
or abroad."

In August 1914 the U.V.F., of 100.000 men, was without question the
most efficient force of infantry in the United Kingdom outside the
Regular Army. The medical comb did not seriously thin its ranks; and
although the age test considerably reduced its number, it still left a
body of fine material for the British Army. Some of the best of its
officers, like Captain Arthur O'Neill, M.P., of the Life Guards, and
Lord Castlereagh of the Blues, had to leave the U.V.F. to rejoin the
regiments to which they belonged, or to take up staff appointments at
the front. In spite of such losses there was a strong desire in the
force, which was shared by the political leaders, that it should be kept
intact as far as possible and form a distinct unit for active service,
and efforts were at once made to get the War Office to arrange for this
to be done. Pressure of work at the War Office, and Lord Kitchener's
aversion from anything that he thought savoured of political
considerations in the organisation of the Army, imposed a delay of
several weeks before this was satisfactorily arranged; and the
consequence was that in the first few weeks of the war a large number of
the keenest young men in Ulster enlisted in various regiments before it
was known that an Ulster Division was to be formed out of the U.V.F.

It was the beginning of September before Carson was in a position to go
to Belfast to announce that such an arrangement had been made with Lord
Kitchener. And when he went he had also the painful duty of telling the
people of Ulster that the Government was going to give them the meanest
recompense for the promptitude with which they had thrown aside all
party purposes in order to assist the Empire.

When war broke out a "party truce" had been proclaimed. The Unionist
leaders promised their support to the Government in carrying on the war,
and Mr. Asquith pledged the Government to drop all controversial
legislation. The consideration of the Amending Bill had been shelved by
agreement, Mr. Asquith stating that the postponement "must be without
prejudice to the domestic and political position of any party." On this
understanding the Unionist Party supported, almost without so much as a
word of criticism, all the emergency measures proposed by the
Government. Yet on the 10th of August Mr. Asquith astonished the
Unionists by announcing that the promise to take no controversial
business was not to prevent him advising the King to sign the Home Rule
Bill, which had been hung up in the House of Lords by the introduction
of the Amending Bill, and had never been either rejected or passed by
that House.

Mr. Balfour immediately protested against this conduct as a breach of
faith; but Mr. Redmond's speech on that occasion contained the
explanation of the Government's conduct. The Nationalist leader gave a
strong hint that any help in the war from the southern provinces of
Ireland would depend on whether or not the Home Rule Bill was to become
law at once. Although the personal loyalty of Mr. Redmond was beyond
question, and although he was no doubt sincere when he subsequently
denied that his speech was so intended, it was in reality an application
of the old maxim that England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity. In
any case, the Cabinet knew that, however unjustly Ulster might be
treated, she could be relied upon to do everything in her power to
further the successful prosecution of the war, and they cynically came
to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to placate those whose
loyalty was less assured.

This was the unpleasant tale that Sir Edward Carson had to unfold to the
Ulster Unionist Council on the 3rd of September. After explaining how
and why he had consented to the indefinite postponement of the Amending
Bill, he continued:

     "And so, without any condition of any kind, we agreed that the Bill
     should be postponed without prejudice to the position of either
     party. England's difficulty is not Ulster's opportunity. England's
     difficulty is our difficulty; and England's sorrows have always
     been, and always will be, our sorrows. I have seen it stated that
     the Germans thought they had hit on an opportune moment, owing to
     our domestic difficulties, to make their bullying demand against
     our country. They little understood for what we were fighting. We
     were not fighting to get away from England; we were fighting to
     stay with England, and the Power that attempted to lay a hand upon
     England, whatever might be our domestic quarrels, would at once
     bring us together--as it has brought us together--as one man."

In order to avoid controversy at such a time, Carson declared he would
say nothing about their opponents. He insisted that, however unworthily
the Government might act in a great national emergency, Ulstermen must
distinguish between the Prime Minister as a party leader and the Prime
Minister as the representative of the whole nation. Their duty was to
"think not of him or his party, but of our country," and they must show
that "we do not seek to purchase terms by selling our patriotism." He
then referred to the pride they all felt in the U.V.F.; how he had
"watched them grow from infancy," through self-sacrificing toil to their
present high efficiency, with the purpose of "allowing us to be put into
no degraded position in the United Kingdom." But under the altered
conditions their duty was clear:

     "Our country and our Empire are in danger. And under these
     circumstances, knowing that the very basis of our political faith
     is our belief in the greatness of the United Kingdom and of the
     Empire, I say to our Volunteers without hesitation, go and help to
     save your country. Go and win honour for Ulster and for Ireland. To
     every man that goes, or has gone, and not to them only, but to
     every Irishman, you and I say, from the bottom of our hearts, 'God
     bless you and bring you home safe and victorious.'"

The arrangements with the War Office for forming a Division from the
Ulster Volunteers were then explained, which would enable the men "to go
as old comrades accustomed to do their military training together."
Carson touched lightly on fears that had been expressed lest political
advantage should be taken by the Government or by the Nationalists of
the conversion of the U.V.F. into a Division of the British Army, which
would leave Ulster defenceless. "We are quite strong enough," he said,
"to take care of ourselves, and so I say to men, so far as they have
confidence and trust in me, that I advise them to go and do their duty
to the country, and we will take care of politics hereafter." He
concluded by moving a resolution, which was unanimously carried by the
Council, urging "all Loyalists who owe allegiance to our cause" to join
the Army at once if qualified for military service.

From beginning to end of this splendidly patriotic oration no allusion
was made to the Nationalist attitude to the war. Few people in Ulster
had any belief that the spots on the leopard were going to disappear,
even when the Home Rule Bill had been placed on the Statute-book. The
"difficulty" and the "opportunity" would continue in their old
relations. People in Belfast, as elsewhere, did justice to the patriotic
tone of Mr. Redmond's speech in the House of Commons on the 3rd of
August, which made so deep an impression in England; but they believed
him mistaken in attributing to "the democracy of Ireland" a complete
change of sentiment towards England, and their scepticism was more than
justified by subsequent events.

But they also scrutinised more carefully than Englishmen the precise
words used by the Nationalist leader. Englishmen, both in the House of
Commons and in the country, were carried off their feet in an ecstasy of
joy and wonder at Mr. Redmond's confident offer of loyal help from
Ireland to the Empire in the mighty world conflict. Ireland was to be
"the one bright spot." Ulstermen, on the other hand, did not fail to
observe that the offer was limited to service at home. "I say to the
Government," said Mr. Redmond, "that they may to-morrow withdraw every
one of their troops from Ireland. I say that the coast of Ireland will
be defended from foreign invasion by her armed sons, and for this
purpose armed Nationalist Catholics in the South will be only too glad
to join arms with the armed Protestant Ulstermen in the North."

These sentences were rapturously applauded in the House of Commons. When
they were read in Ulster the shrewd men of the North asked what danger
threatened the "coast of Ireland"; and whether, supposing there were a
danger, the British Navy would not be a surer defence than the "armed
sons" of Ireland whether from South or North. It was not on the coast
of Ireland but the coast of Flanders that men were needed, and it was
thither that the "armed Protestant Ulstermen" were preparing to go in
thousands. They would not be behind the Catholics of the South in the
spirit of comradeship invoked by Mr. Redmond if they were to stand
shoulder to shoulder under the fire of Prussian batteries; but they
could not wax enthusiastic over the suggestion that, while they went to
France, Mr. Redmond's Nationalist Volunteers should be trained and armed
by the Government to defend the Irish coast--and possibly, later, to
impose their will upon Ulster.

The organisation and the training of the Ulster Division forms no part
of the present narrative, but it must be stated that after Carson's
speech on the 3rd of September, recruiting went on uninterruptedly and
rapidly, and the whole energies of the local leaders and of the rank and
file were thrown into the work of preparation. Captain James Craig,
promoted to be Lieutenant-Colonel, was appointed Q.M.G. of the Division;
but the arduous duties of this post, in which he tried to do the work of
half a dozen men, brought about a complete breakdown of health some
months later, with the result that, to his deep disappointment, he was
forbidden to go with the Division to France. No one displayed a finer
spirit than his brother, Mr. Charles Craig, M.P. for South Antrim. He
had never done any soldiering, as his brother had in South Africa, and
he was over military age in 1914; but he did not allow either his age,
his military inexperience, or his membership of the House of Commons to
serve as excuse for separating himself from the men with whom he had
learnt the elements of drill in the U.V.F. He obtained a commission as
Captain in the Ulster Division, and went with it to France, where he was
wounded and taken prisoner in the great engagement at Thiepval in the
battle of the Somme, and had to endure all the rigours of captivity in
Germany till the end of the war. There was afterwards not a little
pungent comment among his friends on the fact that, when honours were
descending in showers on the heads of the just and the unjust alike, a
full share of which reached members of Parliament, sometimes for no very
conspicuous merit, no recognition of any kind was awarded to this
gallant Ulster officer, who had set so fine an example and
unostentatiously done so much more than his duty.

The Government's act of treachery in regard to "controversial business"
was consummated on the 18th of September, when the Home Rule Bill
received the Royal Assent. On the 15th Mr. Asquith put forward his
defence in the House of Commons. In a sentence of mellifluous optimism
that was to be woefully falsified in a not-distant future, he declared
his confidence that the action his Ministry was taking would bring "for
the first time for a hundred years Irish opinion, Irish sentiment, Irish
loyalty, flowing with a strong and a continuous and ever-increasing
stream into the great reservoir of Imperial resources and Imperial
unity." He acknowledged, however, that the Government had pledged itself
not to put the Home Rule Bill on the Statute-book until the Amending
Bill had been disposed of. That promise was not now to be kept; instead
he gave another, which, when the time came, was equally violated,
namely, to introduce the Amending Bill "in the next session of
Parliament, before the Irish Government Bill can possibly come into
operation." Meantime, there was to be a Suspensory Bill to provide that
the Home Rule Bill should remain in abeyance till the end of the war,
and he gave an assurance "which would be in spirit and in substance
completely fulfilled, that the Home Rule Bill will not and cannot come
into operation until Parliament has had the fullest opportunity, by an
Amending Bill, of altering, modifying, or qualifying its provisions in
such a way as to secure the general consent both of Ireland and of the
United Kingdom." The Prime Minister, further, paid a tribute to "the
patriotic and public spirit which had been shown by the Ulster
Volunteers," whose conduct has made "the employment of force, any kind
of force, for what you call the coercion of Ulster, an absolutely
unthinkable thing."

But a verbal acknowledgment of the public spirit shown by the U.V.F. in
the first month of the war was a paltry recompense for the Government's
breach of faith, as Mr. Bonar Law immediately pointed out in a stinging
rejoinder. The leader of the Opposition concluded his powerful
indictment by saying that such conduct by the Government could not be
allowed to pass without protest, but that at such a moment of national
danger debate in Parliament on this domestic quarrel, forced upon them
by Ministers, was indecent; and that, having made his protest, neither
he nor his party would take further part in that indecency. Thereupon
the whole Unionist Party followed Mr. Bonar Law out of the Chamber.

But that was not the end of the incident. It had been decided, with Sir
Edward Carson's approval, that "Ulster Day," the second anniversary of
the Covenant, should be celebrated in Ulster by special religious
services. The intention had been to focus attention on the larger
aspects of Imperial instead of local patriotism; but what had just
occurred in Parliament could not be ignored, and it necessitated a
reaffirmation of Ulster's unchanged attitude in the domestic quarrel.
Mr. Bonar Law now determined to accompany Sir Edward Carson to Belfast
to renew and to amplify under these circumstances the pledges of British
Unionists to Ulster.

The occasion was a memorable one in several respects. On the 17th of
September Sir Edward Carson had been quietly married in the country to
Miss Frewen, and he was accompanied to Belfast a few days later by the
new Lady Carson, who then made acquaintance with Ulster and her
husband's followers for the first time. The scenes that invariably
marked the leader's arrival from England have been already described;
but the presence of his wife led to a more exuberant welcome than ever
on this occasion; and the recent Parliamentary storm, with its sequel in
the visit of the leader of the Unionist Party, contributed further to
the unbounded enthusiasm of the populace.

There was a meeting of the Council on the morning of the 28th, Ulster
Day, at which Carson told the whole story of the conferences,
negotiations, conversations, and what not, that had been going on up to,
and even since, the outbreak of war, in the course of which he observed
that, if he had committed any fault, "it was that he believed the Prime
Minister." He paid a just tribute to Mr. Bonar Law, whose constancy,
patience, and "resolution to be no party even under these difficult
circumstances to anything that would be throwing over Ulster, were
matters which would be photographed upon his mind to the very end of his

But while, naturally, resentment at the conduct of the Government found
forcible expression, and the policy that would be pursued "after the
war" was outlined, the keynote of the speeches at this Council Meeting,
and also at the overwhelming demonstration addressed by Mr. Bonar Law in
the Ulster Hall in the evening, was "country before party." As the
Unionist leader truly said: "This is not an anti-Home Rule meeting. That
can wait, and you are strong enough to let it wait with quiet
confidence." But before passing to the great issues raised by the war,
introduced by a telling allusion to the idea that Germany had calculated
on Ulster being a thorn in England's side, Mr. Bonar Law gave the
message to Ulster which he had specially crossed the Channel to deliver
in person.

He reminded the audience that hitherto the promise of support to Ulster
by the Unionists of Great Britain, given long before at Blenheim, had
been coupled with the condition that, if an appeal were made to the
electorate, the Unionist Party would bow to the verdict of the country.
"But now," he went on, "after the way in which advantage has been taken
of your patriotism, I say to you, and I say it with the full authority
of our party, we give the pledge without any condition."

During the two days which he spent in Belfast Mr. Bonar Law, and other
visitors from England, paid visits to the training camps at Newcastle
and Ballykinler, where the 1st Brigade of the Ulster Division was
undergoing training for the front. Both now, and for some time to come,
there was a good deal of unworthy political jealousy of the Division,
which showed itself in a tendency to belittle the recruiting figures
from Ulster, and in sneers in the Nationalist Press at the delay in
sending to the front a body of troops whose friends had advertised their
supposed efficiency before the war. These troops were themselves
fretting to get to France; and they believed, rightly or wrongly, that
political intrigue was at work to keep them ingloriously at home, while
other Divisions, lacking their preliminary training, were receiving
preference in the supply of equipment.

One small circumstance, arising out of the conditions in which
"Kitchener's Army" had to be raised, afforded genuine enjoyment in
Ulster. Men were enlisting far more rapidly than the factories could
provide arms, uniforms, and other equipment. Rifles for teaching the
recruits to drill and manoeuvre were a long way short of requirements.
It was a great joy to the Ulstermen when the War Office borrowed their
much-ridiculed "dummy rifles" and "wooden guns," and took them to
English training camps for use by the "New Army."

But this volume is not concerned with the conduct of the Great War, nor
is it necessary to enter in detail into the controversy that arose as to
the efforts of the rest of Ireland, in comparison with those of Ulster,
to serve the Empire in the hour of need. It will be sufficient to cite
the testimony of two authorities, neither of whom can be suspected of
bias on the side of Ulster. The chronicler of the _Annual Register_
records that:

     "In Ulster, as in England, the flow of recruits outran the
     provision made for them by the War Office, and by about the middle
     of October the Protestant districts had furnished some 21,000, of
     which Belfast alone had contributed 7,581, or 305 per 10,000 of the
     population--the highest proportion of all the towns in the United

The second witness is the democratic orator who took a foremost part in
the House of Commons in denouncing the Curragh officers who resigned
their Commissions rather than march against Ulster. Colonel John Ward,
M.P., writing two years after the war, in which he had not kept his eyes
shut, said:

     "It would be presumptuous for a mere Englishman to praise the
     gallantry and patriotism of Scotland, Wales, and Ulster; their
     record stands second to none in the annals of the war. The case of
     the South of Ireland, her most ardent admirer will admit, is not
     as any other in the whole British Empire. To the everlasting credit
     of the great leader of the Irish Nationalists, Mr. John Redmond,
     his gallant son, and his very lovable brother--together with many
     real, great-souled Irish soldiers whose loss we so deeply
     deplore--saw the light and followed the only course open to good
     men and true. But the patriotism and devotion of the few only show
     up in greater and more exaggerated contrast the sullen indifference
     of the majority, and the active hostility of the minority, who
     would have seen our country and its people overrun and defeated not
     only without regret, but with fiendish delight."[92]

No generous-minded Ulsterman would wish to detract a word from the
tribute paid by Colonel Ward to the Redmond family and other gallant
Catholic Nationalists who stood manfully for the Empire in the day of
trial; but the concluding sentence in the above quotation cannot be
gainsaid. And the pathetic thing was that Mr. Redmond himself never
seems to have understood the true sentiments of the majority of those
who had been his followers before the war. In a speech in the House on
the 15th of September he referred contemptuously to a "little group of
men who never belonged to the National Constitutional party, who were
circulating anti-recruiting handbills and were publishing little
wretched rags once a week or once a month," which were not worth a
moment's notice.

The near future was to show that these adherents of Sinn Fein were not
so negligible as Mr. Redmond sincerely believed. The real fact was that
his own patriotic attitude at the outbreak of war undermined his
leadership in Ireland. The "separatism" which had always been, as Ulster
never ceased to believe, the true underlying, though not always the
acknowledged, motive power of Irish Nationalism, was beginning again to
assert itself, and to find expression in "handbills" and "wretched
rags." It was discovering other leaders and spokesmen than Mr. Redmond
and his party, whom it was destined before long to sweep utterly away.


[90] _Morning Post_, May 19th, 1913.

[91] _The Annual Register_, 1914, p. 259.

[92] "The Army and Ireland," _Nineteenth Century and After_, January
1921, by Lieut.-Colonel John Ward, C.B., C.M.G., M.P.



The position in which Ulster was now placed was, from the political
point of view, a very anxious one. Had the war not broken out when it
did, there was a very prevalent belief that the Government could not
have avoided a general election either before, or immediately after, the
placing of Home Rule on the Statute-book; and as to the result of such
an election no Unionist had any misgiving. Even if the Government had
remained content to disregard the electorate, it would have been
impossible for them to subject Ulster to a Dublin Parliament. The
organisation there was powerful enough to prevent it, by force if
necessary, and the Curragh Incident had proved that the Army could not
be employed against the Loyalists.

But the whole outlook had now changed. The war had put off all thought
of a General Election till an indefinite future; the Ulster Volunteers,
and every other wheel in the very effective machinery prepared for
resistance to Home Rule, were now diverted to a wholly different
purpose; and at the same time the hated Bill had become an Act, and the
only alleviation was the promise, for what it might be worth, of an
Amending Bill the scope of which remained undefined. While, therefore,
the Ulster leaders and people threw themselves with all their energy
into the patriotic work to which the war gave the call, the situation so
created at home caused them much uneasiness.

No one felt it more than Lord Londonderry. Indeed, as the autumn of 1914
wore on, the despondency he fell into was so marked that his friends
could not avoid disquietude on his personal account in addition to all
the other grounds for anxiety. He and Lady Londonderry, it is true, took
a leading part in all the activities to which the war gave rise
--encouraging recruiting, organising hospitals, and making provision of
every kind for soldiers and their dependents, in Ulster and in the
County of Durham. But when in London in November, Lord Londonderry would
sit moodily at the Carlton Club, speaking to few except intimate
friends, and apparently overcome by depression. He was pessimistic about
the war. His only son was at the front, and he seemed persuaded he would
never return. The affairs of Ulster, to which he had given his whole
heart, looked black; and he went about as if all his purpose in life was
gone. He went with Lady Londonderry to Mount Stewart for Christmas, and
one or two intimate friends who visited him there in January 1915 were
greatly disturbed in mind on his account. But the public in Belfast, who
saw him going in and out of the Ulster Club as usual, did not know
anything was amiss, and were terribly shocked as well as grieved when
they heard of his sudden death at Wynyard on the 8th of February.

The death of Lord Londonderry was felt by many thousands in Ulster as a
personal bereavement. If he did not arouse the unbounded, and almost
delirious, devotion which none but Sir Edward Carson ever evoked in the
North of Ireland, the deep respect and warm affection felt towards him
by all who knew him, and by great numbers who did not, was a tribute
which his modesty and integrity of character and genial friendliness of
disposition richly deserved. He was faithfully described by Carson
himself to the Ulster Unionist Council several months after his death as
"a great leader, a great and devoted public servant, a great patriot, a
great gentleman, and above all the greatest of great friends."

Ulster, meantime, had already had a foretaste of the sacrifices the war
was to demand when the Division should go to the front. In November 1914
Captain the Hon. Arthur O'Neill, M.P. for Mid Antrim, who had gone to
the front with the first expeditionary force, was killed in action in
France. There was a certain sense of sad pride in the reflection that
the first member of the House of Commons to give his life for King and
country was a representative of Ulster; and the constituency which
suffered the loss of a promising young member by the death of this
gallant Life Guardsman consoled itself by electing in his place his
younger brother, Major Hugh O'Neill, then serving in the Ulster
Division, who afterwards proved himself a most valuable member of the
Ulster Parliamentary Party, and eventually became the first Speaker of
the Ulster Parliament created by the Act of 1920.

Notwithstanding the bitter outbreak of party passion caused by the
Government's action in putting the Home Rule Bill on the Statute-book in
September, the party truce was well maintained throughout the autumn and
winter. And the most striking proof of the transformation wrought by the
war was seen when Mr. Asquith, when constrained to form a truly national
Administration in May 1915, included Sir Edward Carson in his Cabinet
with the office of Attorney-General. Mr. Redmond was at the same time
invited to join the Government, and his refusal to do so when the
British Unionists, the Labour leaders, and the Ulster leaders all
responded to the Prime Minister's appeal to their patriotism, did not
appear in the eyes of Ulstermen to confirm the Nationalist leader's
profession of loyalty to the Empire; though they did him the justice of
believing that he would have accepted office if he had felt free to
follow his own inclination. His inability to do so, and the complaints
of his followers, including Mr. Dillon, at the admission of Carson to
the Cabinet, revealed the incapacity of the Nationalists to rise to a
level above party.

Carson, however, did not remain very long in the Government.
Disapproving of the policy pursued in relation to our Allies in the
Balkans, he resigned on the 20th of October, 1915. But he had remained
long enough to prove his value in council to the most energetic of his
colleagues in the Cabinet. Men like Mr. Churchill and Mr. Lloyd George,
although they had been the bitterest of Carson's opponents eighteen
months previously, seldom omitted from this time forward to seek his
advice in times of difficulty; and the latter of these two, when things
were going badly with the Allies more than a year later, endeavoured to
persuade Mr. Asquith to include Carson in a Committee of four to be
charged with the entire conduct of the war.

It was, perhaps, fortunate that the Ulster leader was not a member of
the Government when the rebellion broke out in the South of Ireland at
Easter 1916. For this event suddenly brought to the front again the
whole Home Rule question, which everybody had hoped might be allowed to
sleep till the end of the war; and it would have been a misfortune if
Carson had not then been in a position of independence to play his part
in this new act of the Irish drama.

The Government had many warnings of what was brewing. But Mr. Birrell,
the Chief Secretary, who in frivolity seemed a contemporary embodiment
of Nero, deemed cheap wit a sufficient reply to all remonstrances, and
had to confess afterwards that he had utterly miscalculated the forces
with which he had to deal. He was completely taken by surprise when, on
the 20th of April, an attempt to land weapons from a German vessel,
escorted by a submarine from which Sir Roger Casement landed in the West
of Ireland, proved that the Irish rebels were in league with the enemy;
and even after this ominous event, he did nothing to provide against the
outbreak that occurred in Dublin four days later. The rising in the
capital, and in several other places in the South of Ireland, was not
got under for a week, during which time more than 170 houses had been
burnt, £2,000,000 sterling worth of property destroyed or damaged, and
1,315 casualties had been suffered, of which 304 were fatal.

The aims of the insurgents were disclosed in a proclamation which
referred to the administration in Ireland as a "long usurpation by a
foreign people and government." It declared that the Irish Republican
Brotherhood--the same organisation that planned and carried out the
Phoenix Park murders in 1882--had now seized the right moment for
"reviving the old traditions of Irish nationhood," and announced that
the new Irish Republic was a sovereign independent State, which was
entitled to claim the allegiance of every Irish man and woman.

The rebellion was the subject of debates in both Houses of Parliament on
the 10th and 11th of May--Mr. Birrell having in the interval, to use a
phrase of Carlyle's, "taken himself and his incompetence
elsewhere"--when Mr. Dillon, speaking for the Nationalist Party, poured
forth a flood of passionate sympathy with the rebels, declaring that he
was proud of youths who could boast of having slaughtered British
soldiers, and he denounced the Government for suppressing the rising in
"a sea of blood." The actual fact was, that out of a large number of
prisoners taken red-handed in the act of armed rebellion who were
condemned to death after trial by court-martial, the great majority were
reprieved, and thirteen in all were executed. Whether such measures
deserved the frightful description coined by Mr. Dillon's flamboyant
rhetoric everybody can judge for himself, after considering whether in
any other country or at any other period of the world's history, active
assistance of a foreign enemy--for that is what it amounted to--has been
visited with a more lenient retribution.

On the same day that Mr. Dillon thus justified the whole basis of
Ulster's unchanging attitude towards Nationalism by blurting out his
sympathy with England's enemies, Mr. Asquith announced that he was
himself going to Ireland to investigate matters on the spot. These two
events, Mr. Dillon's speech and the Prime Minister's visit to
Dublin--where he certainly exhibited no stern anger against the rebels,
even if the stories were exaggerated which reported him to have shown
them ostentatious friendliness--went far to transform what had been a
wretched fiasco into a success. Cowed at first by their complete
failure, the rebels found encouragement in the complacency of the Prime
Minister, and the fear or sympathy, whichever it was, of the Nationalist
Party. From that moment they rapidly increased in influence, until they
proved two years later that they had become the predominant power all
over Ireland except in Ulster.

In Ulster the rebellion was regarded with mixed feelings. The strongest
sentiment was one of horror at the treacherous blow dealt to the Empire
while engaged in a life-and-death struggle with a foreign enemy. But,
was it unpardonably Pharisaic if there was also some self-glorification
in the thought that Ulstermen in this respect were not as other men
were? There was also a prevalent feeling that after what had occurred
they would hear no more of Home Rule, at any rate during the war. It
appeared inconceivable that any sane Government could think of handing
over the control of Ireland in time of war to people who had just proved
their active hostility to Great Britain in so unmistakable a fashion.

But they were soon undeceived. Mr. Asquith, on his return, told the
House of Commons what he had learnt during his few days' sojourn in
Ireland. His first proposition was that the existing machinery of
Government in Ireland had completely broken down. That was undeniable.
It was the natural fruit of the Birrell regime. Mr. Asquith was himself
responsible for it. But no more strange or illogical conclusion could be
drawn from it than that which Mr. Asquith proceeded to propound. This
was that there was now "a unique opportunity for a new departure for the
settlement of outstanding problems "--which, when translated from
Asquithian into plain English, meant that now was the time for Home
Rule. The pledge to postpone the question till after the war was to be
swept aside, and, instead of building up by sound and sensible
administration what Mr. Birrel's abnegation of government had allowed to
crumble into "breakdown," the rebels were to be rewarded for traffic
with the enemy and destruction of the central parts of Dublin, with
great loss of life, by being allowed to point to the triumphant success
of their activity, which was certain to prove the most effective of all
possible propaganda for their political ideals in Ireland.

Some regard, however, was still to be paid to the promise of an Amending
Bill. The Prime Minister repeated that no one contemplated the coercion
of Ulster; that an attempt must be made to come to agreement about the
terms on which the Home Rule Act could be brought into immediate
operation; and that the Cabinet had deputed to Mr. Lloyd George the task
of negotiating to this end with both parties in Ireland. Accordingly,
Mr. Lloyd George, then Secretary of State for War, interviewed Sir
Edward Carson on the one hand and Mr. Redmond and Mr. Devlin on the
other, and submitted to them separately the proposals which he said the
Cabinet were prepared to make.[93]

On the 6th of June Carson explained the Cabinet's proposals at a special
meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council held in private. His task was an
extremely difficult one, for the advice he had to offer was utterly
detestable to himself, and he knew it would be no less so to his
hearers. And the latter, profound as was their trust in him as their
leader, were men of singularly independent judgment and quite capable of
respectfully declining to take any course they did not themselves
approve. Indeed, Carson emphasised the fact that he could not, and had
not attempted to, bind the Council to take the same view of the
situation as himself. At the same time he clearly and frankly stated
what his own opinion was, saying: "I would indeed be a poor leader of a
great movement if I hesitated to express my own views of any proposition
put before you."[94]

His speech, which took nearly two hours in delivery, was a perfect model
of lucid exposition and convincing argument. He reviewed in close detail
the course of events that had led to the present situation. He
maintained from first to last the highest ground of patriotism.
Mentioning that numerous correspondents had asked why he did not
challenge the Nationalist professions of loyalty two years before at the
beginning of the war, which had since then been so signally falsified,
he answered:

     "Because I had no desire to show a dissentient Ireland to the
     Germans. I am glad, even with what has happened, that we played the
     game, and if we had to do it again we would play the game. And then
     suddenly came the rebellion in Dublin. I cannot find words to
     describe my own horror when I heard of it. For I am bound to admit
     to you that I was not thinking merely of Ulster; I was thinking of
     the war; I was thinking, as I am always thinking, of what will
     happen if we are beaten in the war. I was thinking of the
     sacrifice of human lives at the front, and in Gallipoli, and at
     Kut, when suddenly I heard that the whole thing was interrupted by,
     forsooth, an Irish rebellion--by what Mr. Dillon in the House of
     Commons called a clean fight! It is not Ulster or Ireland that is
     now at stake: it is the British Empire. We have therefore to
     consider not merely a local problem, but a great Imperial
     problem--how to win the war."

He then outlined the representations that had been made to him by the
Cabinet as to the injury to the Allied cause resulting from the
unsettled Irish question--the disturbance of good relations with the
United States, whence we were obtaining vast quantities of munitions;
the bad effect of our local differences on opinion in Allied and neutral
countries. He admitted that these evil effects were largely due to false
and hostile propaganda to which the British Government weakly neglected
to provide an antidote; he believed they were grossly exaggerated. But
in time of war they could not contend with their own Government nor be
deaf to its appeals, especially when that Government contained all their
own party leaders, on whose support they had hitherto leaned.

One of Carson's chief difficulties was to make men grasp the
significance of the fact that Home Rule was now actually established by
Act of Parliament. The point that the Act was on the Statute-book was
constantly lost sight of, with all that it implied. He drove home the
unwelcome truth that simple repeal of that Act was not practical
politics. The only hope for Ulster to escape going under a Parliament in
Dublin lay in the promised Amending Bill. But they had no assurance how
much that Bill, when produced, would do for them. Was it likely, he
asked, to do more than was now offered by the Government?

He then told the Council what Mr. Lloyd George's proposals were. The
Cabinet offered on the one hand a "clean cut," not indeed of the whole
of Ulster, but of the six most Protestant counties, and on the other to
bring the Home Rule Act, so modified, into immediate operation. He
pointed out that none of them could contemplate using the U.V.F. for
fighting purposes at home after the war; and that, even if such a thing
were thinkable, they could not expect to get more by forcible resistance
to the Act than what was now offered by legislation.

But to Carson himself, and to all who listened to him that day, the
heartrending question was whether they could suffer a separation to be
made between the Loyalists in the six counties and those in the other
three counties of the Province. It could only be done, Carson declared,
if, after considering all the circumstances of the case as he unfolded
it to them, the delegates from Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal could make
the self-sacrifice of releasing the other counties from the obligation
to stand or fall together. Carson ended by saying that he did not intend
to take a vote--he "could be no party to having Ulstermen vote one
against the other." What was to be done must be done by agreement, or
not at all. He offered to confer separately with the delegates from the
three omitted counties, and the Council adjourned till the 12th of June
to enable this conference to be held.

In the interval a large number of the delegates held meetings of their
local associations, most of which passed resolutions in favour of
accepting the Government's proposals. But there was undoubtedly a
widespread feeling that it would be a betrayal of the Loyalists of
Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal, and even a positive breach of the
Covenant, to accept exclusion from the Home Rule Act for only a portion
of Ulster. This was, it is true, a misunderstanding of the strict
meaning of the Covenant, which had been expressly conditioned so as not
to extend to such unforeseen circumstances as the war had brought
about[95]; but there was a general desire to avoid if possible taking
technical points, and both Carson himself and the Council were ready to
sacrifice the opportunity for a tolerable settlement should the
representatives of the three counties not freely consent to what was

In a spirit of self-sacrifice which deeply touched every member of the
Council, this consent was given. Carson had obtained leave for Lord
Farnham to return from the Army in France to be present at the meeting.
Lord Farnham, as a delegate from Cavan, made a speech at the adjourned
meeting on the 12th which filled his hearers with admiration. That he
was almost heart-broken by the turn events had taken he made no attempt
to conceal; and his distress was shared by those who heard his moving
words. But he showed that he possessed the instinct of statesmanship
which compelled him to recognise, in spite of the powerful pull of
sentiment and self-interest in the opposite direction, that the course
recommended by Carson was the path of wisdom. With breaking voice he
thanked the latter "for the clearness, and the fairness, and the
manliness with which he has put the deplorable situation that has arisen
before us, and for his manly advice as leader "; and he then read a
resolution that had been passed earlier in the day by the delegates of
the three counties, which, after recording a protest against any
settlement excluding them from Ulster, expressed sorrowful acquiescence,
on grounds of the larger patriotism, in whatever decision might be come
to in the matter by their colleagues from the six counties.

It was the saddest hour the Ulster Unionist Council ever spent. Men not
prone to emotion shed tears. It was the most poignant ordeal the Ulster
leader ever passed through. But it was just one of those occasions when
far-seeing statesmanship demands the ruthless silencing of promptings
that spring from emotion. Many of those who on that terrible 12th of
June were most torn by doubt as to the necessity for the decision
arrived at, realised before long that their leader had never been guided
by surer insight than in the counsel he gave them that day.

The Resolution adopted by the Council was a lengthy one. After reciting
the unaltered attachment of Ulster to the Union, it placed on record the
appeal that had been made by the Government on patriotic grounds for a
settlement of the Irish difficulty, which the Council did not think it
right at such a time of national emergency to resist; but it was careful
to reserve, in case the negotiations should break down from any other
cause, complete freedom to revert to "opposition to the whole policy of
Home Rule for Ireland."

Meantime the Nationalist leaders had been submitting Mr. Lloyd George's
proposals to their own people, and on the 10th of June Mr. Redmond made
a speech in Dublin from which it appeared that he was submitting a very
different proposal to that explained by Carson in Belfast. For Mr.
Redmond told his Dublin audience that, while the Home Rule Act was to
come into operation at once, the exclusion of the six counties was to be
only for the period of the war and twelve months afterwards. That would,
of course, have been even less favourable to Ulster than the terms
offered by Mr. Asquith and rejected by Carson in March 1914. Exclusion
for the period of the war meant nothing; it would have been useless to
Ulster; it was no concession whatever; and Carson would have refused, as
he did in 1914, even to submit it to the Unionist Council in Belfast.
Mr. Lloyd George, who must have known this, had told him quite clearly
that there was to be a "definite clean cut," with no suggestion of a
time limit. There was, however, an idea that after the war an Imperial
Conference would be held, at which the whole constitutional relations of
the component nations of the British Empire would be reviewed, and that
the permanent status of Ireland would then come under reconsideration
with the rest. In this sense the arrangement now proposed was spoken of
as "provisional"; but both Mr. Lloyd George and the Prime Minister made
it perfectly plain that the proposed exclusion of the six Ulster
counties from Home Rule could never be reversed except by a fresh Act of

But when the question was raised by Mr. Redmond in the House of Commons
on the 24th of July, in a speech of marked moderation, he explained that
he had understood the exclusion, like all the rest of the scheme, to be
strictly "provisional," with the consequence that it would come to an
end automatically at the end of the specified period unless prolonged by
new legislation; and he refused to respond to an earnest appeal by Mr.
Asquith not to let slip this opportunity of obtaining, with the consent
of the Unionist Party, immediate Home Rule for the greater part of
Ireland, more especially as Mr. Redmond himself had disclaimed any
desire to bring Ulster within the Home Rule jurisdiction without her own

The negotiations for settlement thus fell to the ground, and the bitter
sacrifice which Ulster had brought herself to offer, in response to the
Government's urgent appeal, bore no fruit, unless it was to afford one
more proof of her loyalty to England and the Empire. She was to find
that such proofs were for the most part thrown away, and merely were
used by her enemies, and by some who professed to be her friends, as a
starting-point for demands on her for further concessions. But, although
all British parties in turn did their best to impress upon Ulster that
loyalty did not pay, she never succeeded in learning the lesson
sufficiently to be guided by it in her political conduct.


[93] Mr. Lloyd George's memory was at fault when he said in the House of
Commons on the 7th of February, 1922, that on the occasion referred to
in the text he had seen Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Redmond together.

[94] The quotations from this speech, which was never published, are
from a report privately taken by the Ulster Unionist Council.

[95] See _ante_, p. 105.



After the failure of Mr. Lloyd George's negotiations for settlement in
the summer of 1916 the Nationalists practically dropped all pretence of
helping the Government to carry on the war. They were, no doubt,
beginning to realise how completely they were losing hold of the people
of Southern Ireland, and that the only chance of regaining their
vanishing popularity was by an attitude of hostility to the British

Frequently during the autumn and winter they raised debates in
Parliament on the demand that the Home Rule Act should immediately come
into operation, and threatened that if this were not done recruits from
Ireland would not be forthcoming, although the need for men was now a
matter of great national urgency. They ignored the fact that Mr. Redmond
was a consenting party to Mr. Asquith's policy of holding Home Rule in
abeyance till after the war, and attempted to explain away their own
loss of influence in Ireland by alleging that the exasperation of the
Irish people at the delay in obtaining "self-government" was the cause
of their alienation from England, and of the growth of Sinn Fein.

In December 1916 the Asquith Government came to an end, and Mr. Lloyd
George became Prime Minister. He had shown his estimate of Sir Edward
Carson's statesmanship by pressing Mr. Asquith to entrust the entire
conduct of the war to a Committee of four, of whom the Ulster leader
should be one; and, having failed in this attempt to infuse energy and
decision into the counsels of his Chief, he turned him out and formed a
Ministry with Carson in the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, at
that time one of the most vital in the Government. Colonel James Craig
also joined the Ministry as Treasurer of the Household.

The change of Government did nothing to alter the attitude of the
Nationalists, unless, indeed, the return of Carson to high office added
to the fierceness of their attacks. On the 26th of February 1917--just
when "unrestricted submarine warfare" was bringing the country into its
greatest peril--Mr. Dillon called upon the Government to release
twenty-eight men who had been deported from Ireland, and who were
declared by Mr. Duke, the Chief Secretary, to have been deeply
implicated in the Easter rebellion of the previous year; and a week
later Mr. T.P. O'Connor returned to the charge with another demand for
Home Rule without further ado.

The debate on Mr. O'Connor's motion on the 7th of March was made
memorable by the speech of Major William Redmond, home on leave from the
trenches in France, whose sincere and impassioned appeal for oblivion of
old historic quarrels between Irish Catholics and Protestants, who were
at that moment fighting and dying side by side in France, made a deep
impression on the House of Commons and the country. And when this
gallant officer fell in action not long afterwards and was carried out
of the firing line by Ulster soldiers, his speech on the 7th of March
was recalled and made the peg on which to hang many adjurations to
Ulster to come into line with their Nationalist fellow-countrymen of the

Such appeals revealed a curious inability to grasp the realities of the
situation. Men spoke and wrote as if it were something new and wonderful
for Irishmen of the "two nations" to be found fighting side by side in
the British Army--as if the same thing had not been seen in the
Peninsula, in the Crimea, on the Indian frontier, in South Africa, and
in many another fight. Ulstermen, like everybody else who knew Major
Redmond, deplored the loss of a very gallant officer and a very lovable
man. But they could not understand why his death should be made a reason
for a change in their political convictions. When Major Arthur O'Neill,
an Ulster member, was killed in action in 1914, no one had suggested
that Nationalists should on that account turn Unionists. Why, they
wondered, should Unionists any more turn Nationalists because a
Nationalist M.P. had made the same supreme sacrifice? All this
sentimental talk of that time was founded on the misconception that
Ulster's attachment to the Union was the result of personal prejudice
against Catholics of the South, instead of being, as it was, a
deliberate and reasoned conviction as to the best government for

This distinction was clearly brought out in the same debate by Sir John
Lonsdale, who, when Carson became a member of the Cabinet, had been
elected leader of the Ulster Party in the House of Commons; and an
emphatic pronouncement, which went to the root of the controversy, was
made in reply to the Nationalists by the Prime Minister. In the
north-eastern portion of Ireland, he said:

     "You have a population as hostile to Irish rule as the rest of
     Ireland is to British rule, yea, and as ready to rebel against it
     as the rest of Ireland is against British rule--as alien in blood,
     in religious faith, in traditions, in outlook--as alien from the
     rest of Ireland in this respect as the inhabitants of Fife or
     Aberdeen. To place them under National rule against their will
     would be as glaring an outrage on the principles of liberty and
     self-government as the denial of self-government would be for the
     rest of Ireland."

The Government were, therefore, prepared, said Mr. Lloyd George, to
bring in Home Rule immediately for that part of Ireland that wanted it,
but not for the Northern part which did not want it. Mr. Redmond made a
fine display of indignation at this refusal to coerce Ulster; and, in
imitation of the Unionists in 1914, marched out of the House at the head
of his party. Next day he issued a manifesto to men of Irish blood in
the United States and in the Dominions, calling on them to use all means
in their power to exert pressure on the British Government. It was clear
that this sort of thing could not be tolerated in the middle of a war in
which Great Britain was fighting for her life, and at a crisis in it
when her fortunes were far from prosperous. Accordingly, on the 16th of
March Mr. Bonar Law warned the Nationalists that their conduct might
make it necessary to appeal to the country on the ground that they were
obstructing the prosecution of the war. But he also announced that the
Cabinet intended to make one more attempt to arrive at a settlement of
the apparently insoluble problem of Irish government.

Two months passed before it was made known how this attempt was to be
made. On the 16th of May the Prime Minister addressed a letter in
duplicate to Mr. Redmond and Sir John Lonsdale, representing the two
Irish parties respectively, in which he put forward for their
consideration two alternative methods of procedure, after premising that
the Government felt precluded from proposing during the war any measures
except such as "would be substantially accepted by both sides."

These alternatives were: _(a)_ a "Bill for the immediate application of
the Home Rule Act to Ireland, but excluding therefrom the six counties
of North-East Ulster," or, _(b)_ a Convention of Irishmen "for the
purpose of drafting a Constitution ... which should secure a just
balance of all the opposing interests." Sir John Lonsdale replied to the
Prime Minister that he would take the Government's first proposal to
Belfast for consideration by the Council; but as Mr. Redmond, on the
other hand, peremptorily refused to have anything to say to it, it
became necessary to fall back on the other alternative, namely the
assembling of an Irish Convention.

The members chosen to sit in the Convention were to be "representative
men" in Emerson's meaning of the words, but not in the democratic sense
as deriving their authority from direct popular election. Certain
political organisations and parties were each invited to nominate a
certain number; the Churches were represented by their leading clergy;
men occupying public positions, such as chairmen of local authorities,
were given _ex-officio_ seats; and a certain number were nominated by
the Government. The total membership of this variegated assembly was
ninety-five. The Sinn Fein party were invited to join, but refused to
have anything to do with it, declaring that they would consider nothing
short of complete independence for Ireland. The majority of the Irish
people thus stood aloof from the Convention altogether.

As the purpose for which the Convention was called was quickly lost
sight of by many, and by none more than its Chairman, it is well to
remember what that purpose was. If it had not been for the opposition of
Ulster, the Home Rule Act of 1914 would have been in force for years,
and none of the many attempts at settlement would have been necessary.
The one and only thing required was to reconcile, if possible, the
aspirations of Ulster with those of the rest of Ireland. That was the
purpose, and the only purpose, of the Convention; and in the letter
addressed to Sir John Lonsdale equally with Mr. Redmond, the Prime
Minister distinctly laid it down that unless its conclusions were
accepted "by both sides," nothing could come of it. To leave no shadow
of doubt on this point Mr. Bonar Law, in reply to a specific question,
said that there could be no "substantial agreement" to which Ulster was
not a party.

It is necessary to emphasise this point, because for such a purpose the
heterogeneous conglomeration of Nationalists of all shades that formed
the great majority of the Convention was worse than useless. The
Convention was in reality a bi-lateral conference, in which one of the
two sides was four times as numerous as the other. Yet much party
capital was subsequently made of the fact that the Nationalist members
agreed upon a scheme of Home Rule--an achievement which had no element
of the miraculous or even of the unexpected about it.

Notwithstanding that the Sinn Fein party had displayed their contempt
for the Convention, and under the delusion that it would "create an
atmosphere of good-will" for its meeting, the Government released
without condition or reservation all the prisoners concerned in the
Easter rebellion of 1916. It was like playing a penny whistle to
conciliate a cobra. The prisoners, from whose minds nothing was further
than any thought of good-will to England, were received by the populace
in Dublin with a rapturous ovation, their triumphal procession being
headed by Mr. De Valera, who was soon afterwards elected member for East
Clare by a majority of nearly thirty thousand. Four months later, the
Chief Secretary told Parliament that the young men of Southern Ireland,
who had refused to serve in the Army, were being enrolled in preparation
for another rebellion.

It was only after some hesitation that the Ulster Unionist Council
decided not to hold aloof from the Convention, as the Sinn Feiners did.
Carson accompanied Sir John Lonsdale to Belfast and explained the
explicit pledges by Ministers that participation would not commit them
to anything, that they would not be bound by any majority vote, and that
without their concurrence no legislation was to be founded on any
agreement between the other groups in the Convention; he also urged that
Ulster could not refuse to do what the Government held would be helpful
in the prosecution of the war.

The invitation to nominate five delegates was therefore accepted; and
when the membership of the Convention was complete there were nineteen
out of ninety-five who could be reckoned as supporters in general of the
Ulster point of view. Among them were the Primate, the Moderator of the
General Assembly, the Duke of Abercorn, the Marquis of Londonderry, Mr.
H.M. Pollock, Chairman of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, one Labour
representative, Mr J. Hanna, and the Lord Mayors of Belfast and Derry.
It was agreed that Mr. H.T. Barrie, member for North Derry, should act
as chairman and leader of the Ulster group, and he discharged this
difficult duty with unfailing tact and ability.

There was some difficulty in finding a suitable Chairman, for no party
was willing to accept any strong man opposed to their own views, while
an impartial man was not to be found in Ireland. Eventually the choice
fell on Sir Horace Plunkett as a gentleman who, if eagerly supported by
none, was accepted by each group as preferable to a more formidable
opponent. Sir Horace made no pretence of impartiality. Whatever
influence he possessed was used as a partisan of the Nationalists. He
was not, like the Speaker of the House of Commons, a silent guardian of
order; he often harangued the assembly, which, on one occasion at least,
he addressed for over an hour; and he issued manifestos,
_questionnaires_, and letters to members, one of which was sharply
censured as misleading both by Mr. Barrie and the Bishop of Raphoe.

The procedure adopted was described by the Chairman himself as
"unprecedented." It was not only that, but was unsuitable in the last
degree for the purpose in view. When it is borne in mind what that
purpose was, it is clear that the only business-like method would have
been to invite the Ulster delegates at the outset to formulate their
objections to coming under the Home Rule Act of 1914, and then to see
whether Mr. Redmond could make any concessions which would persuade
Ulster to accept something less than the permanent exclusion of six
counties, which had been their _minimum_ hitherto.

The procedure actually followed was ludicrously different. The object,
as stated by the chairman, was "to avoid raising contentious issues in
such a way as to divide the Convention on party lines,"[96] which, to
say the least, was a curious method of handling the most contentious
problem in British politics. A fine opportunity was offered to amateur
constitution-mongers. Anyone was allowed to propound a scheme for the
future government of Ireland, which, of course, was an encouragement to
endless wide-ranging debate, with the least conceivable likelihood of
arriving at definite decisions. Neither of the leaders of the two
parties whose agreement was essential if the Convention was to have any
result took the initiative in bringing forward proposals. Mr. Redmond
was invited to do so, but declined. Mr. Barrie had no reason to do so,
because the Ulster scheme for the government of Ireland was the
legislative union. So it was left to individuals with no official
responsibility to set forth their ideas, which became the subject of
protracted debates of a general character.

It was further arranged that while contentious issues--the only ones
that mattered--should be avoided, any conclusions reached on minor
matters should be purely provisional, and contingent on agreement being
come to ultimately on fundamentals. Month after month was spent in thus
discussing such questions as the powers which an Irish Parliament ought
to wield, while the question whether Ulster was to come into that
Parliament was left to stand over. Committees and sub-committees were
appointed to thresh out these details, and some of them relieved the
tedium by wandering into such interesting by-ways of irrelevancy as
housing and land purchase, all of which, in Gilbertian phrase, "had
nothing to do with the case."

The Ulster group raised no objection to all this expenditure of time and
energy. For they saw that it was not time wasted. From the standpoint of
the highest national interest it was, indeed, more useful than anything
the Convention could have accomplished by business-like methods. The
summer and autumn of 1917, and the early months of 1918, covered a
terribly critical period of the war. The country was never in greater
peril, and the attitude of the Nationalists in the House of Commons
added to the difficulties of the Government, as Mr. Bonar Law had
complained in March. It was to placate them that the Convention had been
summoned. It was a bone thrown to a snarling dog, and the longer there
was anything to gnaw the longer would the dog keep quiet. The Ulster
delegates understood this perfectly, and, as their chief desire was to
help the Government to get on with the war, they had no wish to curtail
the proceedings of the Convention, although they were never under the
delusion that it could lead to anything in Ireland.

Having regard to the origin of this strange assembly of Irishmen it
might have been supposed that its ingenuity would be directed to finding
some modification of Mr. Asquith's Home Rule Act which Ulster could
accept. That Act was the point of departure for its investigation, and
the quest was _ex hypothesi_ for some amendment that would not be an
enlargement of the authority to be delegated to the subordinate
Parliament, or any further loosening of the tie with Great Britain. Any
proposal of the latter sort would be in the opposite direction from that
in which the Convention was intended to travel. Yet this is precisely
what was done from the very outset. The Act of 1914 was brushed aside as
beneath contempt; and the Ulster delegates had to listen with amazement
week after week to proposals for giving to the whole of Ireland,
including their own Province, a constitution practically as independent
of Great Britain as that of the Dominions.

But what astonished the Ulstermen above everything was to find these
extravagant demands of the Nationalists supported by those who were
supposed to be representatives of Southern Unionism, with Lord Midleton,
a prominent member of the Unionist Party in England, at their head. The
only material point on which Lord Midleton differed from the extremists
led by the Bishop of Raphoe was that he wished to limit complete fiscal
autonomy for Ireland by reserving the control of Customs duties to the
Imperial Parliament. Save in this single particular he joined forces
with the Nationalists, and shocked the Unionists of the North by giving
his support to a scheme of Home Rule going beyond anything ever
suggested at Westminster by any Radical from Gladstone to Asquith.

This question of the financial powers to be exercised by the
hypothetical Irish Parliament occupied the Convention and its committees
for the greater part of its eight months of existence. In January 1918
Lord Midleton and Mr. Redmond came to an agreement on the subject which
proved the undoing of them both, and produced the only really impressive
scene in the Convention.

For some time Mr. Redmond had given the impression of being a tired man
who had lost his wonted driving-force. He took little or no part in the
lobbying and canvassing that was constantly going on behind the scenes
in the Convention; he appeared to be losing grip as a leader. But he
cannot be blamed for his anxiety to come to terms with Lord Midleton;
and when he found, no doubt greatly to his surprise, that a Unionist
leader was ready to abandon Unionist principles and to accept Dominion
Home Rule for Ireland, subject to a single reservation on the subject of
Customs, he naturally jumped at it, and assumed that his followers would
do the same.

But, while Mr. Redmond had been losing ground, the influence of the
Catholic Bishop of Raphoe had been on the increase, and that able and
astute prelate was entirely opposed to the compromise on which Mr.
Redmond and Lord Midleton were agreed. On the evening of the 14th of
January it came to the knowledge of Mr. Redmond that when the question
came up for decision next day, he would find Mr. Devlin, his principal
lieutenant, in league with the ecclesiastics against him. He was
personally too far committed to retrace his steps; to go forward meant
disaster, for it would produce a deep cleavage in the Nationalist ranks;
and, as the state of affairs was generally known to members of the
Convention, the sitting of the following day was anticipated with
unusual interest.

There was an atmosphere of suppressed excitement when the Chairman took
his seat on the 15th. Mr. Redmond entered a few seconds later and took
his usual place without betraying the slightest sign of disturbed
equanimity. The Bishop of Raphoe strode past him, casting to left and
right swift, challenging glances. Mr. Devlin slipped quietly into his
seat beside the leader he had thrown over, without a word or gesture of
greeting. All over the room small groups of members engaged in whispered
conversation; an air of mysterious expectancy prevailed. The Ulster
members had been threatened that it was to be for them a day of disaster
and dismay--a little isolated group, about to be deserted by friends and
crushed by enemies. The Chairman, in an agitated voice, opened
proceedings by inviting questions. There was no response. A minute or so
of tense pause ensued. Then Mr. Redmond rose, and in a perfectly even
voice and his usual measured diction, stated that he was aware that his
proposal was repudiated by many of his usual followers; that the bishops
were against him, and some leading Nationalists, including Mr. Devlin;
that, while he believed if he persisted he would have a majority, the
result would be to split his party, a thing he wished to avoid; and that
he had therefore decided not to proceed with his amendment, and under
these circumstances felt he could be of no further use to the Convention
in the matter.

For a minute or two the assembly could not grasp the full significance
of what had happened. Then it broke upon them that this was the fall of
a notable leader, although they did not yet know that it was also the
close of a distinguished career. Mr. Redmond's demeanour throughout
what must have been a painful ordeal was beyond all praise. There was
not a quiver in his voice, nor a hesitation for word or phrase. His
self-possession and dignity and high-bred bearing won the respect and
sympathy of the most strenuous of political opponents, even while they
recognised that the defeat of the Nationalist leader meant relief from
pressure on themselves. Mr. Redmond took no further part in the work of
the Convention; his health was failing, and the members were startled by
the news of his death on the 6th of March.

Not a single vote was taken in the Convention until the 12th of March,
1918, when it had been sitting for nearly seven months, and two days
later the question which it had been summoned to consider, namely, the
relation of Ulster to the rest of Ireland, was touched for the first
time. The first clause in the Bishop of Raphoe's scheme, establishing a
Home Rule constitution for all Ireland, having been carried with Lord
Midleton's help against the vote of the nineteen representatives of
Ulster, the latter proposed an amendment for the exclusion of the
Province, and were, of course, defeated by the combined forces of
Nationalism and Southern Unionism.

Thus, on the only issue that really mattered, there was no such
"substantial agreement" as the Government had postulated as essential
before legislation could be undertaken; and on the 5th of April the
Convention came to an end without having achieved any useful result,
except that it gave the Government a breathing space from the Irish
question to get on with the war.

It served, however, to bring prominently forward two of the Ulster
representatives whose full worth had not till then been sufficiently
appreciated. Mr. H.M. Pollock had, it is true, been a valued adviser of
Sir Edward Carson on questions touching the trade and commerce of
Belfast. But in the Convention he made more than one speech which proved
him to be a financier with a comprehensive grasp of principle, and an
extensive knowledge of the history and the intricate details of the
financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland.

Lord Londonderry (the 7th Marquis), who during his father's lifetime
had represented an English constituency in the House of Commons and
naturally took no very prominent part in Ulster affairs, although he
made many excellent speeches on Home Rule both in Parliament and on
English platforms, and was Colonel of a regiment of U.V.F., gave proof
at once, on succeeding to the peerage in 1915, that he was desirous of
doing everything in his power to fill his father's place in the Ulster
Movement. He displayed the same readiness to subordinate personal
convenience, and other claims on his time and energy, to the cause so
closely associated historically with his family. But it was his work in
the Convention that first convinced Ulstermen of his capacity as well as
his zeal. Several of Lord Londonderry's speeches, and especially one in
which he made an impromptu reply to Mr. Redmond, impressed the
Convention with his debating power and his general ability; and it gave
the greatest satisfaction in Ulster when it was realised that the son of
the leader whose loss they mourned so deeply was as able as he was
willing to carry on the hereditary tradition of service to the loyalist

In another respect, too, the Convention had an indirect influence on the
position in Ulster. When it appeared likely, in January 1918, that a
deadlock would be reached in the Convention, the Prime Minister himself
intervened. A letter to the Chairman was drafted and discussed in the
Cabinet; but the policy which appeared to commend itself to his
colleagues was one that Sir Edward Carson was unable to support, and he
accordingly resigned office on the 21st, and was accompanied into
retirement by Colonel Craig, the other Ulster member of the Ministry.
Sir John Lonsdale, who for many years had been the very efficient
Honorary Secretary and "Whip" of the Ulster Parliamentary Party, and its
leader while Carson was in office, had been raised to the peerage at the
New Year, with the title of Lord Armaghdale, so that the Ulster
leadership was vacant for Carson to resume when he left the Government,
and he was formally re-elected to the position on the 28th of January.
It was fortunate for Ulster that the old helmsman was again free to
take his place at the wheel, for there was still some rough weather

The official Report of the Convention which was issued on the 10th of
April was one of the most extraordinary documents ever published in a
Government Blue Book.[97] It consisted for the most part of a confused
bundle of separate Notes and Reports by a number of different groups and
individuals, and numerous appendices comprising a mass of miscellaneous
memoranda bristling with cross-references. The Chairman was restricted
to providing a bald narrative of the proceedings without any of the
usual critical estimate of the general results attained; but he made up
for this by setting forth his personal opinions in a letter to the Prime
Minister, which, without the sanction of the Convention, he prefixed to
the Report. As it was no easy matter to gain any clear idea from the
Report as to what the Convention had done, its proceedings while in
session having been screened from publicity by drastic censorship of the
Press, many people contented themselves with reading Sir Horace
Plunkett's unauthorised letter to Mr. Lloyd George; and, as it was in
some important respects gravely misleading, it is not surprising that
the truth in regard to the Convention was never properly understood, and
the Ulster Unionist Council had solid justification for its resolution
censuring the Chairman's conduct as "unprecedented and unconstitutional."

In this personal letter, as was to be expected of a partisan of the
Nationalists, Sir Horace Plunkett laid stress on the fact that Lord
Midleton had "accepted self-government for Ireland "--by which was
meant, of course, not self-government such as Ireland always enjoyed
through her representation, and indeed over-representation, in the
Imperial Parliament, but through separate institutions. But if it had
not been for this support of separate institutions by the Southern
Unionists there would not have been even a colourable pretext for the
assertion of Sir Horace Plunkett that "a larger measure of agreement has
been reached upon the principles and details of Irish self-government
than has ever yet been attained." The really surprising thing was how
little agreement was displayed even among the Nationalists themselves,
who on several important issues were nearly equally divided.

It was soon seen how little the policy of Lord Midleton was approved by
those whom he was supposed to represent. Although it was exceedingly
difficult to obtain accurate information about what was going on in the
Convention, enough became known in Dublin to cause serious misgiving to
Southern Unionists. The Council of the Irish Unionist Alliance, who had
nominated Lord Midleton as a delegate, asked him to confer with them on
the subject; but he refused. On the 4th of March, 1918, a "Call to
Unionists," a manifesto signed by twenty-four influential Southern
Unionists, appeared in the Press. A Southern Unionist Committee was
formed which before the end of May was able to publish the names of 350
well-known men in all walks of life who were in accord with the "Call,"
and to announce that the supporters of their protest against Lord
Midleton's proceedings numbered upwards of fourteen thousand, of whom
more than two thousand were farmers in the South and West.

This Committee then took steps to purge the Irish Unionist Alliance by
making it more truly representative of Southern Unionist opinion. A
special meeting of the Council of the organisation on the 24th of
January, 1919, brought on a general engagement between Lord Midleton and
his opponents. The general trend of opinion was disclosed when, after
the defeat of a motion by Lord Midleton for excluding Ulster Unionists
from full membership of the Alliance, Sir Edward Carson was elected one
of its Presidents, and Lord Farnham was chosen Chairman of the Executive
Committee. The Executive Committee was then entirely reconstituted, by
the rejection of every one of Lord Midleton's supporters; and the new
body issued a statement explaining the grounds of dissatisfaction with
Lord Midleton's action in the Convention, and declaring that he had
"lost the confidence of the general body of Southern Unionists."
Thereupon Lord Midleton and a small aristocratic clique associated with
him seceded from the Alliance, and set up a little organisation of their


[96] _Report of the Proceedings of the Irish Convention_ (Cd. 9019), p.

[97] Cd. 9019.



While the Irish Convention was toilfully bringing to a close its eight
months' career of futility, the British Empire was in the grip of the
most terrible ordeal through which it has ever passed. On the 21st of
March, 1918, the assembled Irishmen in Dublin were discussing whether or
not proportional representation should form part of the hypothetical
constitution of Ireland, and on the same day the Germans well-nigh
overwhelmed the 5th Army at the opening of the great offensive campaign
which threatened to break irretrievably the Allied line by the capture
of Amiens. The world held its breath. Englishmen hardly dared to think
of the fate that seemed impending over their country. Irishmen continued
complacently debating the paltry details of the Bishop of Raphoe's
clauses. Irishmen and Englishmen together were being killed or maimed by
scores of thousands in a supreme effort to stay the advance of the Boche
to Paris and the sea.

It happened that on the very day when the Report of the Convention was
laid on the table of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister made a
statement of profound gravity, beginning with words such as the British
Parliament can never before have been compelled to hear from the lips of
the head of the Government. For the moment, said Mr. Lloyd George, there
was a lull in the storm; but more attacks were to come, and--

     The "fate of the Empire, the fate of Europe, and the fate of
     liberty throughout the world may depend on the success with which
     the very last of these attacks is resisted and countered."

Mr. Asquith struck the same note, urging the House--

     "With all the earnestness and with all the solemnity of which I am
     capable, to realise that never before in the experience of any man
     within these walls, or of his fathers and his forefathers, has this
     country and all the great traditions and ideals which are embodied
     in our history--never has this, the most splendid inheritance ever
     bequeathed to a people, been in greater peril, or in more need of
     united safeguarding than at this present time."

Not Demosthenes himself, in his most impassioned appeal to the
Athenians, more fitly matched moving words to urgent occasion than these
two statesmen in the simple, restrained sentences, in which they warned
the Commons of the peril hanging over England.

But was eloquent persuasion really required at such a moment to still
the voice of faction in the British House of Commons? Let those who
would assume the negative study the official Parliamentary Report of the
debate on the 9th of April, 1918. They will find a record which no loyal
Irishman will ever be able to read without a tingling sense of shame.
The whole body of members, with one exception, listened to the Prime
Minister's grave words in silence touched with awe, feeling that perhaps
they were sitting there on the eve of the greatest tragedy in their
country's history. The single exception was the Nationalist Party. From
those same benches whence arose nineteen years back the never-forgotten
cheers that greeted the tale of British disaster in South Africa, now
came a shower of snarling interruptions that broke persistently into the
Prime Minister's speech, and with angry menace impeded his unfolding of
the Government's proposals for meeting the supreme ordeal of the war.

What was the reason? It was because Ireland, the greater part of which
had till now successfully shirked its share of privation and sacrifice,
was at last to be asked to take up its corner of the burden. The need
for men to replace casualties at the front was pressing, urgent,
imperative. Many indeed blamed the Government for having delayed too
long in filling the depleted ranks of our splendid armies in France; the
moment had come when another day's delay would have been criminal. As
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out, the battle that was being waged in front
of Amiens "proves that the enemy has definitely decided to seek a
military decision this year, whatever the consequences to himself." The
Germans had just called up a fresh class of recruits calculated to place
more than half a million of efficient young men in the line. The
collapse of Russia had released the vast German armies of the East for
use against England and France. It was under such circumstances that the
Prime Minister proposed

     "to submit to Parliament to-day certain recommendations in order to
     assist this country and the Allies to weather the storm. They will
     involve," continued Mr. Lloyd George, "extreme sacrifices on the
     part of large classes of the population, and nothing would justify
     them but the most extreme necessity, and the fact that we are
     fighting for all that is essential and most sacred in the national

The age limit for compulsory military service was to be raised from
forty-two to fifty, and Ireland was to be included under the new
Military Service Bill now introduced. England, Scotland, and Wales had
cheerfully submitted to conscription when first enacted by Mr. Asquith
in 1916, and to all the additional combings of industry and extension of
obligation that had been required in the past two years. Agriculture and
other essential industries were being starved for want of labour, and
men had actually been brought back from the sorely pressed armies to
produce supplies imperatively needed at home.

But from all this Ireland had hitherto been exempt. To escape the call
of the country a man had only to prove that he was "ordinarily resident
in Ireland"; for conscription did not cross the Irish Sea. From most of
the privations cheerfully borne in Great Britain the Irishman had been
equally free. Food rationing did not trouble him, and, lest he should go
short of accustomed plenty, it was even forbidden to carry a parcel of
butter across the Channel from Ireland. Horse-racing went on as usual.
Emigration had been suspended during the war, so that Ireland was
unusually full of young men who, owing to the unwonted prosperity of the
country resulting from war prices for its produce, were "having the
time of their lives." Mr. Bonar Law, in the debates on the Military
Service Bill, gave reasons for the calculation that there were not far
short of 400,000 young men of military age, and of "Al" physique, in
Ireland available for the Army.

No wonder that Mr. Lloyd George said it would be impossible to leave
this reservoir of man-power untouched when men of fifty, whose sons were
already with the colours, were to be called up in Great Britain! But the
bare suggestion of doing such a thing raised a hurricane of angry
vituperation and menace from the Nationalists in the House of Commons.
When Mr. Lloyd George, in conciliatory accents, observed that he had no
wish to raise unnecessary controversy, as Heaven knew they had trouble
enough already, "You will get more of it," shouted Mr. Flavin. "You will
have another battle front in Ireland," interjected Mr. Byrne. Mr.
Flavin, getting more and more excited, called out, with reference to the
machinery for enrolment explained by the Prime Minister--"It will never
begin. Ireland will not have it at any price"; and again, a moment
later, "You come across and try to take them." Mr. Devlin was fully as
fierce as these less prominent members of his party, and after many
wrathful interruptions he turned aside the debate into a discussion
about a trumpery report of one of the sub-committees of the Irish

It was truly a sad and shameful scene to be witnessed in the House of
Commons at such a moment. It would have been so even if the contention
of the Nationalists had been reasonably tenable. But it was not. They
maintained that only an Irish Parliament had the right to enforce
conscription in Ireland. But at the beginning of the war they had
accepted the proviso that it should run its course before Home Rule came
into operation. And even if it had been in operation, and a Parliament
had been sitting in Dublin under Mr. Asquith's Act, which the
Nationalists had accepted as a settlement of their demands, that
Parliament would have had nothing to do with the raising of military
forces by conscription or otherwise, this being a duty reserved, as in
every federal or quasi-federal constitution, for the central
legislative authority alone.

But it was useless to point this out to the infuriated Nationalist
members. Mr. William O'Brien denounced the idea of compelling Irishmen
to bear the same burden as their British fellow-subjects as "a
declaration of war against Ireland"; and he and Mr. Healy joined Mr.
Dillon and his followers in opposing with all their parliamentary skill,
and all their voting power, the extension to Ireland of compulsory
service. Mr. Healy, whose vindictive memory had not forgotten the
Curragh Incident before the war, could not forbear from having an
ungenerous fling at General Gough, who had just been driven back by the
overwhelming numerical superiority of the German attack, and who, at the
moment when Mr. Healy was taunting him in the House of Commons, was
re-forming his gallant 5th Army to resist the enemy's further advance.

In comparison with this Mr. Healy's stale gibe at "Carson's Army,"
however inappropriate to the occasion, was a venial offence. Carson
himself replied in a gentle and conciliatory tone to Mr. Healy's coarse

     "My honourable friend," he said, "talked of Carson's Army. You may,
     if you like, call it with contempt Carson's Army. But it has just
     gone into action for the fourth time, and many of them have paid
     the supreme sacrifice. They have covered themselves with glory,
     and, what is more, they have covered Ireland with glory, and they
     have left behind sad homes throughout the small hamlets of Ulster,
     as I well know, losing three or four sons in many a home."

On behalf of Ulster Carson gave unhesitating support to the Government.
He and his colleagues from Ulster had always voted against the exemption
of Ireland from the Military Service Acts. It was true, no doubt, as the
Nationalists jeeringly maintained, that conscription was no more desired
in Ulster than in any other part of the United Kingdom. Of course it was
not; it was liked nowhere. But Carson declared that "equality of
sacrifice" was the principle to be acted upon, and Ulster accepted it.
He "would go about hanging his head in shame," if his own part of the
United Kingdom were absolved from sacrifice which the national necessity
imposed on the inhabitants of Great Britain.

The Bill was carried through by the 16th of April in the teeth of
Nationalist opposition maintained through all its stages. Mr. Bonar Law
announced emphatically that the Government intended to enforce the
compulsory powers in Ireland; but he also said that yet another attempt
was to be made to settle the constitutional question by bringing in "at
an early date" a measure of Home Rule which the Government hoped might
be carried at once and "without violent controversy."

After the experience of the past this seemed an amazingly sanguine
estimate of the prospects of any proposals that ingenuity could devise.
But what the nature of the measure was to have been was never made
known; for the Bill was still in the hands of a drafting committee when
a dangerous German intrigue in Ireland was discovered; and the
Lord-Lieutenant made a proclamation on the 18th of May announcing that
the Government had information "that certain of the King's subjects in
Ireland had entered into a treasonable communication with the German
enemy, and that strict measures must be taken to put down this German
plot."[98] On the same day one hundred and fifty Sinn Feiners were
arrested, including Mr. De Valera and Mr. Arthur Griffith, and on the
25th a statement was published indicating the connection between this
conspiracy and Casement's designs in 1916. The Government had definitely
ascertained some weeks earlier, and must have known at the very time
when they were promising a new Home Rule Bill, that a plan for landing
arms in Ireland was ripe for execution.[99] Indeed, on the 12th of April
a German agent who had landed in Ireland was arrested, with papers in
his possession showing that De Valera had worked out a detailed
organisation of the rebel army, and expected to be in a position to
muster half a million of trained men.[100]

Such was the fruit of the Government's infatuation which, under the
delusion of "creating an atmosphere of good-will" for the Convention,
had released a few months previously a number of dangerous men who had
been proved to be in league with the Germans, and who now took advantage
of this clemency to conspire afresh with the foreign enemy. It was not
surprising that Mr. Bonar Law said it was impossible for the Government,
under these circumstances, to proceed with their proposals for a new
Home Rule Bill.

On the other hand, no sooner was the Military Service Act on the
Statute-book than the Government began to recede from Mr. Bonar Law's
declaration that they would at all costs enforce it in Ireland. They
intimated that if voluntary recruiting improved it might be possible to
dispense with compulsion. But although Mr. Shortt--who succeeded Mr.
Duke as Chief Secretary in May, at the same time as Lord Wimborne was
replaced in the Lord-Lieutenancy by Field-Marshal Lord French--complained
on the 29th of July that the Nationalists had given no help to the
Government in obtaining voluntary recruits in Ireland, and, "instead of
taking Sinn Fein by the throat, had tried to go one better,"[101] the
compulsory powers of the Military Service Act remained a dead letter.

The fact was that the Nationalists had followed up their fierce
opposition to the Bill by raising a still more fierce agitation in
Ireland against conscription. In this they joined hands with Sinn Fein,
and the whole weight of the Catholic Church was thrown into the same
scale. From the altars of that Church the thunderbolts of ecclesiastical
anathema were loosed against the Government, and--what was more
effective--against any who should obey the call to arms. The Government
gave way before the violence of the storm, and the lesson to be learnt
from their defeat was not thrown away on the rebel party in Ireland.
There was, naturally, widespread indignation in England at the spectacle
of the youth of Ireland taking its ease at home and earning
extravagantly high war-time wages while middle-aged bread-winners in
England were compulsorily called to the colours; but the marvellously
easy-going disposition of Englishmen submitted to the injustice with no
more than a legitimate grumble.

In June 1918, while this agitation against conscription was at its
height, the hostility of the Nationalists took a new turn. A manifesto,
intended as a justification of their resistance to conscription, was
issued in the form of a letter to Mr. Wilson, President of the United
States, signed by Mr. Dillon, Mr. Devlin, Mr. William O'Brien, Mr.
Healy, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and some others, including leaders of
Sinn Fein. It was a remarkable document, the authorship of which was
popularly attributed to Mr. T.M. Healy. If it ever came under the eye of
Mr. Wilson, a man of literary taste and judgment, it must have afforded
him a momentary diversion from the cares of his exalted office. A longer
experience than his of diplomatic correspondence would fail to produce
from the pigeon-holes of all the Chanceries a rival to this
extraordinary composition, the ill-arranged paragraphs of which formed
an inextricable jumble of irrelevant material, in which bad logic, bad
history, and barren invective were confusedly intermingled in a torrent
of turgid rhetoric. The extent of its range may be judged from the fact
that Shakespeare's allusions to Joan of Arc were not deemed too remote
from the subject of conscription in Ireland during the Great War to find
a place in this amazing despatch. For the amusement of anyone who may
care to examine so rare a curiosity of English prose, it will be found
in full in the Appendix to this volume, where it may be compared by way
of contrast with the restrained rejoinder sent also to President Wilson
by Sir Edward Carson, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, the Mayor of Derry, and
several loyalist representatives of Labour in Ulster.

In the Nationalist letter to President Wilson reference was made more
than once to the sympathy that prevailed in Ireland in the eighteenth
century with the American colonists in the War of Independence. The use
made of it was a good example of the way in which a half-truth may, for
argumentative purposes, be more misleading than a complete falsehood.
"To-day, as in the days of George Washington"--so Mr. Wilson was
informed--"nearly half the American forces have been furnished from the
descendants of our banished race." No mention was made of the fact that
the members of the "banished race" in Washington's army were
Presbyterian emigrants from Ulster, who formed almost the entire
population of great districts in the American Colonies at that
time.[102] The late Mr. Whitelaw Reid told an Edinburgh audience in 1911
that more than half the Presbyterian population of Ulster emigrated to
America between 1730 and 1770, and that at the date of the Revolution
they made more than one-sixth of the population of the Colonies. The
Declaration of Independence itself, he added--

     "Is sacredly preserved in the handwriting of an Ulsterman, who was
     Secretary of Congress. It was publicly read by an Ulsterman, and
     first printed by another. Washington's first Cabinet had four
     members, of whom one was an Ulsterman."[103]

It is, of course, true that not all Ulster Presbyterians of that period
were the firm and loyal friends of Great Britain that their descendants
became after a century's experience of the legislative Union. But it is
the latter who best in Ireland can trace kinship with the founders of
the United States, and who are entitled--if any Irishmen are--to base on
that kinship a claim to the sympathy and support of the American people.


[98] _Annual Register_, 1918, p, 87.

[99] Ibid., p. 88

[100] Ibid.

[101] _Annual Register_, 1918, p. 90.

[102] See Lecky's _History of England in the Eighteenth Century_, vol.
iv, p. 430.

[103] See Lecture to the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution by Whitelaw
Reid, reported in _The Scotsman_, November 2nd, 1911.



ON the 25th of November, 1918, the Parliament elected in December 1910
was at last dissolved, a few days after the Armistice with Germany. The
new House of Commons was very different from the old. Seventy-two Sinn
Fein members were returned from Ireland, sweeping away all but half a
dozen of the old Nationalist party; but, in accordance with their fixed
policy, the Sinn Fein members never presented themselves at Westminster
to take the oath and their seats. That quarter of the House of Commons
which for thirty years had been packed with the most fierce and
disciplined of the political parties was therefore now given over to
mild supporters of the Coalition Government, the only remnant of
so-called "constitutional Nationalism" being Mr. T.P. O'Connor, Mr.
Devlin, Captain Redmond, and two or three less prominent companions, who
survived like monuments of a bygone age.

Ulster Unionists, on the other hand, were greatly strengthened by the
recent Redistribution Act. Sir Edward Carson was elected member for the
great working-class constituency of the Duncairn Division of Belfast,
instead of for Dublin University, which he had so long represented, and
twenty-two ardent supporters accompanied him from Ulster to Westminster.
In the reconstruction of the Government which followed the election,
Carson was pressed to return to office, but declined. Colonel James
Craig, whose war services in connection with the Ulster Division were
rewarded by a baronetcy, became Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry
of Pensions, and the Marquis of Londonderry accepted office as
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Air Ministry.

Although the termination of hostilities by the Armistice was not in the
legal sense the "end of the war," it brought it within sight. No one in
January 1919 dreamt that the process of making peace and ratifying the
necessary treaties would drag on for a seemingly interminable length of
time, and it was realised, with grave misgiving in Ulster, that the Home
Rule Act of 1914 would necessarily come into force as soon as peace was
finally declared, while as yet nothing had been done to redeem the
promise of an Amending Bill given by Mr. Asquith, and reiterated by Mr.
Lloyd George. The compact between the latter and the Unionist Party, on
which the Coalition had swept the country, had made it clear that fresh
Irish legislation was to be expected, and the general lines on which it
would be based were laid down; but there was also an intimation that a
settlement must wait till the condition of Ireland should warrant

The state of Ireland was certainly not such as to make it appear
probable that any sane Government would take the risk of handing over
control of the country immediately to the Sinn Feiners, whom the recent
elections had proved to be in an overwhelming majority in the three
southern provinces. By the law, not of England alone, but of every
civilised State, that party was tainted through and through with high
treason. It had attempted to "succour the King's enemies" in every way
in its power. The Government had in its possession evidence of two
conspiracies, in which, during the late frightful war, these Irishmen
had been in league with the Germans to bring defeat and disaster upon
England and her Allies, and the second of these plots was only made
possible by the misconceived clemency of the Government in releasing
from custody the ring-leaders in the first.

And these Sinn Fein rebels left the Government no excuse for any
illusion as to their being either chastened or contrite in spirit.
Contemptuously ignoring their election as members of the Imperial
Parliament, where they never put in an appearance because it would
require them to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown, they openly
held a Congress in Dublin in January 1919 where a Declaration of
Independence was read, and a demand made for the evacuation of Ireland
by the forces of the Crown. A "Ministry" was also appointed, which
purported to make itself responsible for administration in Ireland.
Outrages of a daring character became more and more frequent, and gave
evidence of being the work of efficient organisation.

President Wilson's coinage of the unfortunate and ambiguous expression
"self-determination" made it a catch-penny cry in relation to Ireland;
but, in reply to Mr. Devlin's demand for a recognition of that
"principle," Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that it had been tried in the
Convention, with the result that both Nationalists and Unionists had
been divided among themselves, and he said he despaired of any
settlement in Ireland until Irishmen could agree. Nevertheless, in
October 1919 he appointed a Cabinet Committee, with Mr. Walter Long as
Chairman, to make recommendations for dealing with the question of Irish

But murders of soldiers and police had now become so scandalously
frequent that in November a Proclamation was issued suppressing Sinn
Fein and kindred organisations. It did nothing to improve the state of
the country, which grew worse than ever in the last few weeks of the
year. On the 19th of December a carefully planned attempt on the life of
the Lord-Lieutenant, Lord French, proved how complete was the impunity
relied upon by the organised assassins who, calling themselves an Irish
Republican Army, terrorised the country.

It was in such conditions that, just before the close of the
parliamentary session, the Prime Minister disclosed the intentions of
the Government. He laid down three "basic facts," which he said governed
the situation: (1) Three-fourths of the Irish people were bitterly
hostile, and were at heart rebels against the Crown and Government. (2)
Ulster was a complete contrast, which would make it an outrage to place
her people under the rest of Ireland.[105] (3) No separation from the
Empire could be tolerated, and any attempt to force it would be fought
as the United States had fought against secession. On these
considerations he based the proposals which were to be embodied in
legislation in the next session. Sir Edward Carson, who in the light of
past experience was too wary to take all Mr. Lloyd George's declarations
at their face value, said at once that he could give no support to the
policy outlined by the Prime Minister until he was convinced that the
latter intended to go through with it to the end.

The Bill to give effect to these proposals (which became the Government
of Ireland Act, 1920) was formally introduced on the 25th of February,
1920, and Carson then went over to Belfast to consult with the Unionist
Council as to the action to be taken by the Ulster members.

The measure was a long and complicated one of seventy clauses and six
schedules. Its effect, stated briefly, was to set up two Parliaments in
Ireland, one for the six Protestant counties of Ulster and the other for
the rest of Ireland. In principle it was the "clean cut" which had been
several times proposed, except that, instead of retaining Ulster in
legislative union with Great Britain, she was to be endowed with local
institutions of her own in every respect similar to, and commensurate
with, those given to the Parliament in Dublin. In addition, a Council of
Ireland was created, composed of an equal number of members from each of
the two legislatures. This Council was given powers in regard to private
bill legislation, and matters of minor importance affecting both parts
of the island which the two Parliaments might mutually agree to commit
to its administration. Power was given to the two Parliaments to
establish by identical Acts at any time a Parliament for all Ireland to
supersede the Council, and to form a single autonomous constitution for
the whole of Ireland.

The Council of Ireland occupied a prominent place in the debates on the
Bill. It was held up as a symbol of the "unity of Ireland," and the
authors of the measure were able to point to it as supplying machinery
by which "partition" could be terminated as soon as Irishmen agreed
among themselves in wishing to have a single national Government. It was
not a feature of the Bill that found favour in Ulster; but, as it could
do no harm and provided an argument against those who denounced
"partition," the Ulster members did not think it worth while to oppose

But when Carson met the Ulster Unionist Council on the 6th of March the
most difficult point he had to deal with was the same that had given so
much trouble in the negotiations of 1916. The Bill defined the area
subject to the "Parliament of Northern Ireland" as the six counties
which the Ulster Council had agreed four years earlier to accept as the
area to be excluded from the Home Rule Act. The question now to be
decided was whether this same area should still be accepted, or an
amendment moved for including in Northern Ireland the other three
counties of the Province of Ulster. The same harrowing experience which
the Council had undergone in 1916 was repeated in an aggravated
form.[106] To separate themselves from fellow loyalists in Monaghan,
Cavan, and Donegal was hateful to every delegate from the other six
counties, and it was heartrending to be compelled to resist another
moving appeal by so valued a friend as Lord Farnham. But the inexorable
index of statistics demonstrated that, although Unionists were in a
majority when geographical Ulster was considered as a unit, yet the
distribution of population made it certain that a separate Parliament
for the whole Province would have a precarious existence, while its
administration of purely Nationalist districts would mean unending

It was, therefore, decided that no proposal for extending the area
should be made by the Ulster members. Carson made it clear in the
debates on the Bill that Ulster had not moved from her old position of
desiring nothing except the Union; that he was still convinced there was
"no alternative to the Union unless separation"; but that, while he
would take no responsibility for a Bill which Ulster did not want, he
and his colleagues would not actively oppose its progress to the

It did not, however, receive the Royal Assent until two days before
Christmas, and during all these months the condition of Ireland was one
of increasing anarchy. The Act provided that, if the people of Southern
Ireland refused to work the new Constitution, the administration should
be carried on by a system similar to Crown Colony government. Carson
gave an assurance that in Ulster they would do their best to make the
Act a success, and immediate steps were taken in Belfast to make good
this undertaking.

To the people of Ulster the Act of 1920, though it involved the
sacrifice of much that they had ardently hoped to preserve, came as a
relief to their worst fears. It was represented as a final settlement,
and finality was what they chiefly desired, if they could get it without
being forced to submit to a Dublin Parliament. The disloyal conduct of
Nationalist Ireland during the war, and the treason and terrorism
organised by Sinn Fein after the war, had widened the already broad gulf
between North and South. The determination never to submit to an
all-Ireland Parliament was more firmly fixed than ever. The Act of 1920,
which repealed Mr. Asquith's Act of 1914, gave Ulster what she had
prepared to fight for, if necessary, before the war. It was the
fulfilment of the Craigavon resolution--to take over the government "of
those districts which they could control."[107] The Parliament of
Northern Ireland established by the Act was in fact the legalisation of
the Ulster Provisional Government of 1913. It placed Ulster in a
position of equality with the South, both politically and economically.
The two Legislatures in Ireland possessed the same powers, and were
subject to an equal reservation of authority to the Imperial Parliament.

But with the passing of the Act the long and consummate leadership of
Sir Edward Carson came to an end. If he had not succeeded in bringing
the Ulster people into a Promised Land, he had at least conducted an
orderly retreat to a position of safety. The almost miraculous skill
with which he had directed all the operations of a protracted and
harassing campaign, avoiding traps and pitfalls at every step,
foreseeing and providing against countless crises, frustrating with
unfailing adroitness the manoeuvres both of implacable enemies and
treacherous "friends," was fully appreciated by his grateful followers,
who had for years past regarded him with an intensity of personal
devotion seldom given even to the greatest of political leaders. But he
felt that the task of opening a new chapter in the history of Ulster,
and of inaugurating the new institutions now established, was work for
younger hands. Hard as he was pressed to accept the position of first
Prime Minister of Ulster, he firmly persisted in his refusal; and on his
recommendation the man who had been his able and faithful lieutenant
throughout the long Ulster Movement was unanimously chosen to succeed
him in the leadership.

Sir James Craig did not hesitate to respond to the call, although to do
so he had to resign an important post in the British Government, that of
Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, with excellent prospects of
further promotion. As soon as the elections in "Northern Ireland,"
conducted under the system of Proportional Representation, as provided
by the Act of 1920, were complete, Sir James, whose followers numbered
forty as against a Nationalist and Sinn Fein minority of twelve, was
sent for by the Viceroy and commissioned to form a Ministry. He
immediately set himself to his new and exceedingly difficult duties with
characteristic thoroughness. The whole apparatus of government
administration had to be built up from the foundation. Departments, for
which there was no existing office accommodation or personnel, had to
be called into existence and efficiently organised, and all this
preliminary work had to be undertaken at a time when the territory
subject to the new Government was beset by open and concealed enemies
working havoc with bombs and revolvers, with which the Government had
not yet legal power to cope.

But Sir James Craig pressed on with the work, undismayed by the
difficulties, and resolved that the Parliament in Belfast should be
opened at the earliest possible date. The Marquis of Londonderry gave a
fresh proof of his Ulster patriotism by resigning his office in the
Imperial Government and accepting the portfolio of Education in Sir
James Craig's Cabinet, and with it the leadership of the Ulster Senate;
in which the Duke of Abercorn also, to the great satisfaction of the
Ulster people, consented to take a seat. Mr. Dawson Bates, the
indefatigable Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council during the whole
of the Ulster Movement, was appointed Minister for Home Affairs, and Mr.
E.M. Archdale became Minister for Agriculture. The first act of the
House of Commons of Northern Ireland was to choose Major Hugh O'Neill as
their Speaker, while the important position of Chairman of Committees
was entrusted to Mr. Thomas Moles, one of the ablest recruits of the
Ulster Parliamentary Party, whom the General Election of 1918 had sent
to Westminster as one of the members for Belfast, and who had given
ample evidence of his capacity both in the Imperial Parliament and on
the Secretarial Staff of the Irish Convention of 1917.

Meantime, in the South the Act of 1920 was treated with absolute
contempt; no step was taken to hold elections or to form an
Administration, although it must be remembered that the flouted Act
conferred a larger measure of Home Rule than had ever been offered by
previous Bills. Thus by one of those curious ironies that have
continually marked the history of Ireland, the only part of the island
where Home Rule operated was the part that had never desired it, while
the provinces that had demanded Home Rule for generations refused to use
it when it was granted them.

In Ulster the new order of things was accepted with acquiescence rather
than with enthusiasm. But the warmer emotion was immediately called
forth when it became known that His Majesty the King had decided to open
the Ulster Parliament in person on the 22nd of June, 1921, especially as
it was fully realised that, owing to the anarchical condition of the
country, the King's presence in Belfast would be a characteristic
disregard of personal danger in the discharge of public duty. And when,
on the eve of the royal visit, it was intimated that the Queen had been
graciously pleased to accede to Sir James Craig's request that she
should accompany the King to Belfast, the enthusiasm of the loyal people
of the North rose to fever heat.

At any time, and under any circumstances, the reigning Sovereign and
his Consort would have been received by a population so noted for its
sentiment of loyalty to the Throne as that of Ulster with demonstrations
of devotion exceeding the ordinary. But the present occasion was felt to
have a very special significance. The opening of Parliament by the King
in State is one of the most ancient and splendid of ceremonial pageants
illustrating the history of British institutions. It was felt in Ulster
that the association of this time-honoured ceremonial with the baptism,
so to speak, of the latest offspring of the Mother of Parliaments
stamped the Royal Seal upon the achievement of Ulster, and gave it a
dignity, prestige, and promise of permanence which might otherwise have
been lacking. No city in the United Kingdom had witnessed so many
extraordinary displays of popular enthusiasm in the last ten years as
Belfast, some of which had left on the minds of observers a firm belief
that such intensity of emotion in a great concourse of people could not
be exceeded. The scene in the streets when the King and Queen drove from
the quay, on the arrival of the royal yacht, to the City Hall, was held
by general consent to equal, since it could not surpass, any of those
great demonstrations of the past in popular fervour. At any rate,
persons of long experience in attendance on the Royal Family gave it as
their opinion in the evening that they had never before seen so
impressive a display of public devotion to the person of the Sovereign.

Two buildings in Belfast inseparably associated with Ulster's stand for
union, the City Hall and the Ulster Hall, were the scenes of the chief
events of the King's visit. The former, described by one of the English
correspondents as "easily the most magnificent municipal building in the
three Kingdoms,"[108] was placed at the disposal of the Ulster
Government by the Corporation for temporary use as a Parliament House.
The Council Chamber, a fine hall of dignified proportions with a dais
and canopied chair at the upper end, made an appropriate frame for the
ceremony of opening Parliament, and the arrangements both of the
Chamber itself and of the approaches and entrances to it made it a
simple matter to model the procedure as closely as possible on that
followed at Westminster.

Among the many distinguished people who assembled in the Ulster Capital
for the occasion, there was one notable absentee. Lord Carson of
Duncairn--for this was the title that Sir Edward Carson had assumed on
being appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary a few weeks previously--was
detained in London by judicial duty in the House of Lords; and possibly
reasons of delicacy not difficult to understand restrained him from
making arrangements for absence. But the marked ovation given to Lady
Carson wherever she was recognised in the streets of Belfast showed that
the great leader was not absent from the popular mind at this moment of
vindication of his statesmanship.

Such an event as that which brought His Majesty to Belfast was naturally
an occasion for bestowing marks of distinction for public service. Sir
James Craig wisely made it also an occasion for letting bygones be
bygones by recommending Lord Pirrie for a step in the Peerage. Among
those who received honours were several whose names have appeared in the
preceding chapters of this book. Mr. William Robert Young, for thirty
years one of the most indefatigable workers for the Unionist cause in
Ulster, and Colonel Wallace, one of the most influential of Carson's
local lieutenants, were made Privy Councillors, as was also Colonel
Percival-Maxwell, who raised and commanded a battalion of the Ulster
Division in the war. Colonel F.H. Crawford and Colonel Spender were
awarded the C.B.E. for services to the nation during the war; but
Ulstermen did not forget services of another sort to the Ulster cause
before the Germans came on the scene.[109] A knighthood was given to Mr.
Dawson Bates, who had exchanged the Secretaryship of the Ulster Unionist
Council for the portfolio of a Cabinet Minister.

These honours were bestowed by the King in person at an investiture held
in the Ulster Hall in the afternoon. There must have been many present
whose minds went back to some of the most stirring events of Ulster's
domestic history which had been transacted in the same building within
recent years. Did Sir Hamar Greenwood, the Chief Secretary, as he stood
in attendance on the Sovereign in the resplendent uniform of a Privy
Councillor, look in curiosity round the walls which he and Mr. Churchill
had been prohibited from entering on a memorable occasion when they had
to content themselves with an imported tent in a football field instead?
Did Colonel Wallace's thoughts wander back to the scene of wild
enthusiasm in that hall on the evening before the Covenant, when he
presented the ancient Boyne flag to the Ulster leader? Did those who
spontaneously started the National Anthem in the presence of the King
without warrant from the prearranged programme, and made the Queen smile
at the emphasis with which they "confounded politics" and "frustrated
knavish tricks," remember the fervour with which on many a past occasion
the same strains testified to Ulster's loyalty in the midst of
perplexity and apprehension? If these memories crowded in, they must
have added to the sense of relief arising from the conviction that the
ceremony they were now witnessing was the realisation of the policy
propounded by Carson, when he declared that Ulster must always be ruled
either by the Imperial Parliament or by a Government of her own.

But the moment of all others on that memorable day that must have been
suggestive of such reflections was when the King formally opened the
first Parliament of Northern Ireland in the same building that had
witnessed the signing of the Ulster Covenant. Without the earlier event
the later could not have been. If 1921 could have been fully foreseen in
1912 it might have appeared to many Covenanters as the disappointment of
a cherished ideal. But those who lived to listen to the King's Speech in
the City Hall realised that it was the dissipation of foreboding.
However regarded, it was, as King George himself pronounced, "a
profoundly moving occasion in Irish history."

The Speech from the Throne in which these words occurred made a deep
impression all over the world, and nowhere more than in Ulster itself.
No people more ardently shared the touchingly expressed desire of the
King that his coming to Ireland might "prove to be the first step
towards an end of strife amongst her people, whatever their race or
creed." So, too, when His Majesty told the Ulster Parliament that he
"felt assured they would do their utmost to make it an instrument of
happiness and good government for all parts of the community which they
represented," the Ulster people believed that the King's confidence in
them would not prove to have been misplaced.

Happily, no prophetic vision of those things that were shortly to come
to pass broke in to disturb the sense of satisfaction with the haven
that had been reached. The future, with its treachery, its alarms, its
fresh causes of uncertainty and of conflict, was mercifully hidden from
the eyes of the Ulster people when they acclaimed the inauguration of
their Parliament by their King. They accepted responsibility for the
efficient working of institutions thus placed in their keeping by the
highest constitutional Authority in the British Empire, although they
had never asked for them, and still believed that the system they had
been driven to abandon was better than the new; and they opened this
fresh chapter in their history in firm faith that what had received so
striking a token of the Sovereign's sympathy and approval would never be
taken from them except with their own consent.


[104] See Letter from Mr. Lloyd George to Mr. Bonar Law, published in
the Press on November 18th, 1918.

[105] Precisely twenty-four months later this outrage was committed by
Mr. Lloyd George himself, with the concurrence of Mr. Austen

[106] _Ante_, p. 248.

[107] See _ante_, p. 51.

[108] _The Morning Post_, June 23rd, 1921.

[109] See _ante_, Chapter XVIII.





When, a century and a half ago, the American Colonies dared to assert
the ancient principle that the subject should not be taxed without the
consent of his representatives, England strove to crush them. To-day
England threatens to crush the people of Ireland if they do not accept a
tax, not in money but in blood, against the protest of their

During the American Revolution the champions of your liberties appealed
to the Irish Parliament against British aggression, and asked for a
sympathetic judgment on their action. What the verdict was, history

To-day it is our turn to appeal to the people of America. We seek no
more fitting prelude to that appeal than the terms in which your
forefathers greeted ours:

     "We are desirous of possessing the good opinion of the virtuous and
     humane. We are peculiarly desirous of furnishing you with the true
     state of our motives and objects, the better to enable you to judge
     of our conduct with accuracy, and determine the merits of the
     controversy with impartiality and precision."

If the Irish race had been conscriptable by England in the war against
the United Colonies is it certain that your Republic would to-day
flourish in the enjoyment of its noble Constitution?

Since then the Irish Parliament has been destroyed, by methods described
by the greatest of British statesmen as those of "black-guardism and
baseness." Ireland, deprived of its protection and overborne by more
than six to one in the British Lower House, and by more than a hundred
to one in the Upper House, is summoned by England to submit to a
hitherto-unheard-of decree against her liberties.

In the fourth year of a war ostensibly begun for the defence of small
nations, a law conscribing the manhood of Ireland has been passed, in
defiance of the wishes of our people. The British Parliament, which
enacted it, had long outrun its course, being in the eighth year of an
existence constitutionally limited to five. To warrant the coercive
statute, no recourse was had to the electorate of Britain, much less to
that of Ireland. Yet the measure was forced through within a week,
despite the votes of Irish representatives, and under a system of
closure never applied to the debates which established conscription for
Great Britain on a milder basis.

To repel the calumnies invented to becloud our action, we venture to
address the successors of the belligerents who once appealed to Ireland.
The feelings which inspire America deeply concern our race; so, in the
forefront of our remonstrance, we feel bound to set forth that this
Conscription Act involves for Irishmen questions far larger than any
affecting mere internal politics. They raise a sovereign principle
between a nation that has never abandoned her independent rights, and an
adjacent nation that has persistently sought to strangle them.

Were Ireland to surrender that principle, she must submit to a usurped
power, condone the fraudulent prostration of her Parliament in 1800, and
abandon all claim to distinct nationality. Deep-seated and far-reaching
are the problems remorselessly aroused by the unthinking and violent
courses taken at Westminster.

Thus the sudden and unlooked-for departure of British politicians from
their past military procedure towards this island provokes acutely the
fundamental issue of Self-determination. That issue will decide whether
our whole economic, social, and political life must lie at the
uncontrolled disposition of another race whose title to legislate for us
rests on force and fraud alone.

Ireland is a nation more ancient than England, and is one of the oldest
in Christendom. Its geographical boundaries are clearly defined. It
cherishes its own traditions, history, language, music, and culture. It
throbs with a national consciousness sharpened not only by religious
persecution, but by the violation of its territorial, juristic, and
legislative rights. The authority of which its invaders boasted rests
solely on an alleged Papal Bull. The symbols of attempted conquest are
roofless castles, ruined abbeys, and confiscated cathedrals.

The title of King of Ireland was first conferred on the English monarch
by a statute of the Parliament held in Ireland in 1542, when only four
of our counties lay under English sway. That title originated in no
English enactment. Neither did the Irish Parliament so originate. Every
military aid granted by that Parliament to English kings was purely
voluntary. Even when the Penal Code denied representation to the
majority of the Irish population, military service was never enforced
against them.

For generations England claimed control over both legislative and
judicial functions in Ireland, but in 1783 these pretensions were
altogether renounced, and the sovereignty of the Irish Legislature was
solemnly recognised. A memorable British statute declared it--

     "Established and ascertained for ever, and shall at no time
     hereafter be questioned or questionable."

For this, the spirit evoked by the successful revolt of the United
States of America is to be thanked, and Ireland won no mean return for
the sympathy invited by your Congress. Yet scarcely had George III
signified his Royal Assent to that "scrap of paper," when his Ministers
began to debauch the Irish Parliament. No Catholic had, for over a
century, been allowed to sit within its walls; and only a handful of the
population enjoyed the franchise. In 1800, by shameless bribery, a
majority of corrupt Colonists was procured to embrace the London
subjugation and vote away the existence of their Legislature for
pensions, pelf, and titles.

The authors of the Act of Union, however, sought to soften its shackles
by limiting the future jurisdiction of the British Parliament. Imposed
on "a reluctant and protesting nation," it was tempered by articles
guaranteeing Ireland against the coarser and more obvious forms of
injustice. To guard against undue taxation, "exemptions and abatements"
were stipulated for; but the "predominant partner" has long since
dishonoured that part of the contract, and the weaker side has no power
to enforce it. No military burdens were provided for, although Britain
framed the terms of the treaty to her own liking. That an obligation to
yield enforced service was thereby undertaken has never hitherto been
asserted. We therefore cannot neglect to support this protest by citing
a main proviso of the Treaty of Union. Before the destruction of the
Irish Parliament no standing army or navy was raised, nor was any
contribution made, except by way of gift, to the British Army or Navy.
No Irish law for the levying of drafts existed; and such a proposal was
deemed unconstitutional. Hence the 8th Article of the Treaty provides

     "All laws in force at the time of the Union shall remain as now by
     law established, subject only to such alterations and regulations
     from time to time as circumstances may appear to the Parliament of
     the United Kingdom to require."

Where there was no law establishing military service for Ireland, what
"alteration or regulation" respecting such a law can legally bind? Can
an enactment such as Conscription, affecting the legal and moral rights
of an entire people, be described as an "alteration" or "regulation"
springing from a pre-existing law? Is the Treaty to be construed as
Britain pleases, and always to the prejudice of the weaker side?

British military statecraft has hitherto rigidly held by a separate
tradition for Ireland. The Territorial military system, created in 1907
for Great Britain, was not set up in Ireland. The Irish Militia was then
actually disbanded, and the War Office insisted that no Territorial
force to replace it should be embodied. Stranger still, the Volunteer
Acts (Naval or Military) from 1804 to 1900 (some twenty in all) were
never extended to Ireland. In 1880, when a Conservative House of Commons
agreed to tolerate volunteering, the measure was thrown out by the House
of Lords on the plea that Irishmen must not be allowed to learn the use
of arms.

For, despite the Bill of Rights, the privilege of free citizens to bear
arms in self-defence has been refused to us. The Constitution of America
affirms that right as appertaining to the common people, but the men of
Ireland are forbidden to bear arms in their own defence. Where, then,
lies the basis of the claim that they can be forced to take them up for
the defence of others?

It will suffice to present such considerations in outline without
disinterring the details of the past misgovernment of our country. Mr.
Gladstone avowed that these were marked by "every horror and every shame
that could disgrace the relations between a strong country and a weak
one." After an orgy of Martial Law the Scottish General, Abercromby,
Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, wrote: "Every crime, every cruelty that
could be committed by Cossacks or Calmucks has been transacted here....
The abuses of all kinds I found can scarcely be believed or enumerated."
Lord Holland recalls that many people "were sold at so much a head to
the Prussians."

We shall, therefore, pass by the story of the destruction of our
manufactures, of artificial famines, of the fomentation of uprisings, of
a hundred Coercion Acts, culminating in the perpetual "Act of
Repression" obtained by forgery, which graced Queen Victoria's Jubilee
Year in 1887. In our island the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the
repression of free speech, gibbetings, shootings, and bayonetings, are
commonplace events. The effects of forced emigration and famine American
generosity has softened; and we do not seek a verdict on the general
merits of a system which enjoys the commendation of no foreigner except
Albert, Prince Consort, who declared that the Irish "were no more worthy
of sympathy than the Poles."

It is known to you how our population shrank to its present fallen
state. Grants of money for emigration, "especially of families," were
provided even by the Land Act of 1881. Previous Poor Law Acts had
stimulated this "remedy." So late as 1891 a "Congested District" Board
was empowered to "aid emigration," although millions of Irishmen had in
the nineteenth century been evicted from their homes or driven abroad.

Seventy years ago our population stood at 8,000,000, and, in the normal
ratio of increase, it should to-day amount to 16,000,000. Instead, it
has dwindled to 4,500,000; and it is from this residuum that our manhood
between the ages of eighteen and fifty-one is to be delivered up in such
measure as the strategists of the English War Cabinet may demand.

To-day, as in the days of George Washington, nearly half the American
forces have been furnished from the descendants of our banished race. If
England could not, during your Revolution, regard that enrolment with
satisfaction, might she not set something now to Ireland's credit from
the racial composition of your Army or Navy? No other small nation has
been so bereft by law of her children, but in vain for Ireland has the
bread of exile been thrown upon the waters.

Yet, while Self-determination is refused, we are required by law to
bleed to "make the world safe for democracy "--in every country except
our own. Surely this cannot be the meaning of America's message to
mankind glowing from the pen of her illustrious President?

In the 750 years during which the stranger sway has blighted Ireland her
people have never had occasion to welcome an unselfish or generous deed
at the hands of their rulers. Every so-called "concession" was but the
loosening of a fetter. Every benefit sprang from a manipulation of our
own money by a foreign Treasury denying us an honest audit of accounts.
None was yielded as an act of grace. All were the offspring of
constraint, tumult, or political necessity. Reason and arguments fell on
deaf ears. To England the Union has brought enhanced wealth, population,
power, and importance; to Ireland increased taxation, stunted
industries, swollen emigration, and callous officialism.

Possessing in this land neither moral nor intellectual pre-eminence, nor
any prestige derived from past merit or present esteem, the British
Executive claims to restrain our liberties, control our fortunes, and
exercise over our people the power of life and death. To obstruct the
recent Home Rule Bill it allowed its favourites to defy its Parliament
without punishment, to import arms from suspect regions with impunity,
to threaten "to break every law" to effectuate their designs to infect
the Army with mutiny and set up a rival Executive backed by military
array to enforce the rule of a caste against the vast majority of the
people. The highest offices of State became the guerdon of the
organisers of rebellion, boastful of aid from Germany. To-day they are
pillars of the Constitution, and the chief instrument of law. The only
laurels lacking to the leaders of the Mutineers are those transplanted
from the field of battle!

Are we to fight to maintain a system so repugnant, and must Irishmen be
content to remain slaves themselves after freedom for distant lands has
been purchased by their blood?

Heretofore in every clime, whenever the weak called for a defender,
wherever the flag of liberty was unfurled, that blood freely flowed.
Profiting by Irish sympathy with righteous causes Britain, at the
outbreak of war, attracted to her armies tens of thousands of our youth
ere even the Western Hemisphere had awakened to the wail of "small

Irishmen, in their chivalrous eagerness, laid themselves open to the
reproach from some of their brethren of forgetting the woes of their own
land, which had suffered from its rulers, at one time or another, almost
every inhumanity for which Germany is impeached. It was hard to bear the
taunt that the army they were joining was that which held Ireland in
subjection; but fresh bitterness has been added to such reproaches by
what has since taken place.

Nevertheless, in the face of persistent discouragements, Irish chivalry
remained ardent and aflame in the first years of the war. Tens of
thousands of the children of the Gael have perished in the conflict.
Their bones bleach upon the soil of Flanders or moulder beneath the
waves of Suvla Bay. The slopes of Gallipoli, the sands of Egypt,
Mesopotamia and Judasa afford them sepulture. Mons and Ypres provide
their monuments. Wherever the battle-line extends from the English
Channel to the Persian Gulf their ghostly voices whisper a response to
the roll-call of the guardian-spirits of Liberty. What is their reward?

The spot on earth they loved best, and the land to which they owed their
first duty, and which they hoped their sacrifices might help to freedom,
lies unredeemed under an age-long thraldom. So, too, would it for ever
lie, were every man and every youth within the shores of Ireland to
immolate himself in England's service, unless the clamour of a dominant
caste be rebuked and stilled.

Yet proof after proof accumulates that British Cabinets continue to be
towards our country as conscienceless as ever. They deceive frankly
nations throughout the world as to their Irish policy, while withholding
from us even the Act of Home Rule which in 1914 was placed on the
Statute-book. The recent "Convention," which they composed to initiate
reform, was brought to confusion by a letter from the Prime Minister
diminishing his original engagements.

Such insincere manoeuvres have left an indelible sense of wrong rankling
in the hearts of Ireland.

Capitulations are observed with French Canadians, with the Maltese, with
the Hindoos, with the Mohammedan Arabs, or the African Boers; but never
has the word of England, in any capital case, been kept towards the
"sister" island.

The Parliaments of Australia and of South Africa--both of which (unlike
our ancient Legislature) were founded by British enactments--refused to
adopt conscription. This was well known when the law against Ireland was
resolved on. For opposing the application of that law to Irishmen, and
while this appeal to you, sir, was being penned, members of our
Conference have been arrested and deported without trial. It was even
sought to poison the wells of American sympathy by levelling against
them and others an allegation which its authors have failed to submit to
the investigation of any tribunal.

To overlay malpractice by imputing to its victims perverse or criminal
conduct is the stale but never-failing device of tyranny.

A claim has also been put forward by the British Foreign Office to
prevent you, Mr. President, as the head of a great allied Republic, from
acquiring first-hand information of the reasons why Ireland has
rejected, and will resist, conscription except in so far as the Military
Governor of Ireland, Field-Marshal Lord French, may be pleased to allow
you to peruse his version of our opinions.

America's present conflict with Germany obstructs no argument that we
advance. "Liberty and ordered peace" we, too, strive for; and
confidently do we look to you, sir, and to America--whose freedom
Irishmen risked something to establish--to lend ear and weight to the
prayer that another unprovoked wrong against the defenceless may not
stain this sorry century.

We know that America entered the war because her rights as a neutral, in
respect of ocean navigation, were interfered with, and only then. Yet
America in her strength had a guarantee that in victory she would not be
cheated of that for which she joined in the struggle. Ireland, having no
such strength, has no such guarantee; and experience has taught us that
justice (much less gratitude) is not to be wrung from a hostile
Government. What Ireland is to give, a free Ireland must determine.

We are sadly aware, from recent proclamations and deportations, of the
efforts of British authorities to inflame prejudice against our country.
We therefore crave allowance briefly to notice the insinuation that the
Irish coasts, with native connivance, could be made a base for the
destruction of American shipping.

An official statement asserts that:

     "An important feature in every plan was the establishment of
     submarine bases in Ireland to menace the shipping of all nations."

On this it is enough to say that every creek, inlet, or estuary that
indents our shores, and every harbour, mole, or jetty is watchfully
patrolled by British authority. Moreover, Irish vessels, with their
cargoes, crews, and passengers, have suffered in this war
proportionately to those of Britain.

Another State Paper palliates the deportations by blazoning the descent
of a solitary invader upon a remote island on the 12th of April,
heralded by mysterious warnings from the Admiralty to the Irish Command.
No discussion is permitted of the tryst of this British soldier with the
local coast-guards, of his speedy bent towards a police barrack, and his
subsequent confidences with the London authorities.

Only one instance exists in history of a project to profane our coasts
by making them a base to launch attacks on international shipping. That
plot was framed, not by native wickedness, but by an English Viceroy,
and the proofs are piled up under his hand in British State Papers.

For huge bribes were proffered by Lord Falkland, Lord-Lieutenant of
Ireland, to both the Royal Secretary and the Prince of Wales, to obtain
consent for the use of Irish harbours to convenience Turkish and
Algerine pirates in raiding sea-going commerce. The plot is old, but the
plea of "increasing his Majesty's revenues" by which it was commended is
everlasting. Nor will age lessen its significance for the citizens of
that Republic which, amidst the tremors and greed of European diplomacy,
extirpated the traffic of Algerine corsairs ninety years ago. British
experts cherish Lord Falkland's fame as the sire of their most knightly
cavalier, and in their eyes its lustre shines undimmed, though his
Excellency, foiled of marine booty, enriched himself by seizing the
lands of his untried prisoners in Dublin Castle.

Moving are other retrospects evoked by the present outbreak of malignity
against our nation. The slanders of the hour recall those let loose to
cloak previous deportations in days of panic less ignoble. Then it was
the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Oliver Plunkett, who was dragged
to London and arraigned for high treason. Poignant memories quicken at
every incident which accompanied his degradation before the Lord Chief
Justice of England. A troop of witnesses was suborned to swear that his
Grace "endeavoured and compassed the King's death," sought to "levy war
in Ireland and introduce a foreign Power," and conspired "to take a view
of all the several ports and places in Ireland where it would be
convenient to land from France." An open trial, indeed, was not denied
him; but with hasty rites he was branded a base and false traitor and
doomed to be hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. That desperate
felon, after prolonged investigation by the Holy See, has lately been
declared a martyr worthy of universal veneration.

The fathers of the American Revolution were likewise pursued in turn by
the venom of Governments. Could they have been snatched from their homes
and haled to London, what fate would have befallen them? There your
noblest patriots might also have perished amidst scenes of shame, and
their effigies would now bedeck a British chamber of horrors. Nor would
death itself have shielded their reputations from hatchments of
dishonour. For the greatest of Englishmen reviled even the sacred name
of Joan of Arc, the stainless Maid of France, to belittle a fallen foe
and spice a ribald stage-play.

It is hardly thirty years since every Irish leader was made the victim
of a special Statute of Proscription, and was cited to answer vague
charges before London judges. During 1888 and 1889 a malignant and
unprecedented inquisition was maintained to vilify them, backed by all
the resources of British power. No war then raged to breed alarms, yet
no weapon that perjury or forgery could fashion was left unemployed to
destroy the characters of more than eighty National representatives--some
of whom survive to join in this Address. That plot came to an end amidst
the confusion of their persecutors, but fresh accusations may be daily
contrived and buttressed by the chicanery of State.

In every generation the Irish nation is challenged to plead to a new
indictment, and to the present summons answer is made before no narrow
forum but to the tribunal of the world. So answering, we commit our
cause, as did America, to "the virtuous and humane," and also more
humbly to the providence of God.

Well assured are we that you, Mr. President, whose exhortations have
inspired the Small Nations of the world with fortitude to defend to the
last their liberties against oppressors, will not be found among those
who would condemn Ireland for a determination which is irrevocable to
continue steadfastly in the course mapped out for her, no matter what
the odds, by an unexampled unity of National judgment and National

Given at the Mansion House, Dublin, this 11th day of June, 1918.

LAURENCE O'NEILL, Lord Mayor of Dublin,
Chairman of a Conference of representative
Irishmen whose names stand hereunder.
  {Acting in the place E. DE
  deported 18th of May, 1918,
  to separate prisons in England,
  without trial or accusation--communication
  with whom has been cut off.}



_August 1st_, 1918.



A manifesto signed by the leader of the Irish Nationalist Party and
certain other Irish gentlemen has been widely circulated in the United
Kingdom, in the form of a letter purporting to have been addressed to
your Excellency.[110]

Its purpose appears to be to offer an explanation of, and an excuse for,
the conduct of the Nationalist Party in obstructing the extension to
Ireland of compulsory military service, which the rest of the United
Kingdom has felt compelled to adopt as the necessary means of defeating
the German design to dominate the world. At a time when all the free
democracies of the world have, with whatever reluctance, accepted the
burden of conscription as the only alternative to the destruction of
free institutions and of international justice, it is easily
intelligible that those who maintain Ireland's right to solitary and
privileged exemption from the same obligation should betray their
consciousness that an apologia is required to enable them to escape
condemnation at the bar of civilised, and especially of American,
opinion. But, inasmuch as the document referred to would give to anyone
not intimately familiar with British domestic affairs the impression
that it represents the unanimous opinion of Irishmen, it is important
that your Excellency and the American people should be assured that this
is very far from being the case.

There is in Ireland a minority, whom we claim to represent, comprising
one-fourth to one-third of the total population of the island, located
mainly, but not exclusively, in the province of Ulster, who dissent
emphatically from the views of Mr. Dillon and his associates. This
minority, through their representatives in Parliament, have maintained
throughout the present war that the same obligations should in all
respects be borne by Ireland as by Great Britain, and it has caused them
as Irishmen a keen sense of shame that their country has not submitted
to this equality of sacrifice.

Your Excellency does not need to be informed that this question has
become entangled in the ancient controversy concerning the
constitutional status of Ireland in the United Kingdom. This is,
indeed, sufficiently clear from the terms of the Nationalist manifesto
addressed to you, every paragraph of which is coloured by allusion to
bygone history and threadbare political disputes.

It is not our intention to traverse the same ground. There is in the
manifesto almost no assertion with regard to past events which is not
either a distortion or a misinterpretation of historical fact. But we
consider that this is not the moment for discussing the faults and
follies of the past, still less for rehearsing ancient grievances,
whether well or ill founded, in language of extravagant rhetoric. At a
time when the very existence of civilisation hangs in the balance, all
smaller issues, whatever their merits or however they may affect our
internal political problems, should in our judgment have remained in
abeyance, while the parties interested in their solution should have
joined in whole-hearted co-operation against the common enemy.

There is, however, one matter to which reference must be made, in order
to make clear the position of the Irish minority whom we represent. The
Nationalist Party have based their claim to American sympathy on the
historic appeal addressed to Irishmen by the British colonists who
fought for independence in America a hundred and fifty years ago. By no
Irishmen was that appeal received with a more lively sympathy than by
the Protestants of Ulster, the ancestors of those for whom we speak
to-day--a fact that was not surprising in view of the circumstance that
more than one-sixth part of the entire colonial population in America at
the time of the Declaration of Independence consisted of emigrants from

The Ulstermen of to-day, forming as they do the chief industrial
community in Ireland, are as devoted adherents to the cause of
democratic freedom as were their forefathers in the eighteenth century.
But the experience of a century of social and economic progress under
the legislative Union with Great Britain has convinced them that under
no other system of government could more complete liberty be enjoyed by
the Irish people. This, however, is not the occasion for a reasoned
defence of "Unionist" policy. Our sole purpose in referring to the
matter is to show, whatever be the merits of the dispute, that a very
substantial volume of Irish opinion is warmly attached to the existing
Constitution of the United Kingdom, and regards as wholly unwarranted
the theory that our political status affords any sort of parallel to
that of the "small nations" oppressed by alien rule, for whose
emancipation the Allied democracies are fighting in this war.

The Irish representation in the Imperial Parliament throws a significant
sidelight on this prevalent fiction. Whereas England is only represented
by one member for every 75,000 of population, and Scotland by one for
every 65,000, Ireland has a member for every 42,000 of her people. With
a population below that of Scotland, Ireland has 31 more members in the
House of Commons, and 89 more than she could claim on a basis of
representation strictly proportionate to population in the United

Speaking in Dublin on the 1st of July, 1915, the late Mr. John Redmond
gave the following description of the present condition of Ireland,
which offers a striking contrast to the extravagant declamation that
represents that country as downtrodden by a harsh and unsympathetic
system of government:

     "To-day," he said, "the people, broadly speaking, own the soil.
     To-day the labourers live in decent habitations. To-day there is
     absolute freedom in local government and local taxation of the
     country. To-day we have the widest parliamentary and municipal
     franchise. The congested districts, the scene of some of the most
     awful horrors of the old famine days, have been transformed. The
     farms have been enlarged, decent dwellings have been provided, and
     a new spirit of hope and independence is to-day among the people.
     In towns legislation has been passed facilitating the housing of
     the working classes--a piece of legislation far in advance of
     anything obtained for the town tenants of England. We have a system
     of old-age pensions in Ireland whereby every old man and woman over
     seventy is safe from the workhouse and free to spend their last
     days in comparative comfort."

Such are the conditions which, in the eyes of Nationalist politicians,
constitute a tyranny so intolerable as to justify Ireland in repudiating
her fair share in the burden of war against the enemies of civilisation.

The appeal which the Nationalists make to the principle of
"self-determination" strikes Ulster Protestants as singularly
inappropriate. Mr. Dillon and his co-signatories have been careful not
to inform your Excellency that it was their own opposition that
prevented the question of Irish Government being settled in accordance
with that principle in 1916. The British Government were prepared at
that time to bring the Home Rule Act of 1914 into immediate operation,
if the Nationalists had consented to exclude from its scope the
distinctively Protestant population of the North, who desired to adhere
to the Union. This compromise was rejected by the Nationalist leaders,
whose policy was thus shown to be one of "self-determination" for
themselves, combined with coercive domination over us.

It is because the British Government, while prepared to concede the
principle of self-determination impartially to both divisions in
Ireland, has declined to drive us forcibly into such subjection that the
Nationalist Party conceive themselves entitled to resist the law of
conscription. And the method by which this resistance has been made
effective is, in our view, not less deplorable than the spirit that
dictated it. The most active opponents of conscription in Ireland are
men who have been twice detected during the war in treasonable traffic
with the enemy, and their most powerful support has been that of
ecclesiastics, who have not scrupled to employ weapons of spiritual
terrorism which have elsewhere in the civilised world fallen out of
political use since the Middle Ages.

The claim of these men, in league with Germany on the one hand, and with
the forces of clericalism on the other, to resist a law passed by
Parliament as necessary for national defence is, moreover, inconsistent
with any political status short of independent sovereignty--status which
could only be attained by Ireland by an act of secession from the United
Kingdom, such as the American Union averted only by resort to civil war.
In every Federal or other Constitution embracing subordinate
legislatures the raising and control of military forces are matters
reserved for the supreme legislative authority alone, and they are so
reserved for the Imperial Parliament of the United Kingdom in the Home
Rule Act of 1914, the "withholding" of which during the war is
complained of by the Nationalists who have addressed your Excellency.
The contention of these gentlemen that until the internal government of
Ireland is changed in accordance with their demands, Ireland is
justified in resisting the law of Conscription, is one that finds
support in no intelligible theory of political science.

To us as Irishmen--convinced as we are of the righteousness of the cause
for which we are fighting, and resolved that no sacrifice can be too
great to "make the world safe for democracy"--it is a matter of poignant
regret that the conduct of the Nationalist leaders in refusing to lay
aside matters of domestic dispute, in order to put forth the whole
strength of the country against Germany should have cast a stain on the
good name of Ireland. We have done everything in our power to dissociate
ourselves from their action, and we disclaim responsibility for it at
the bar of posterity and history.

JAMES JOHNSTON, Lord Mayor of Belfast.
H.M. POLLOCK, President Belfast Chamber of Commerce.
R.N. ANDERSON, Mayor of Londonderry, and
  President Londonderry Chamber of Commerce.
JOHN M. ANDREWS, Chairman Ulster Unionist Labour Association.
JAMES A. TURKINGTON, Vice-Chairman Ulster
  Unionist Labour Association, and Secretary
  Power-loom and Allied Trades Friendly
  Society, and ex-Secretary Power-loom
  Tenters' Trade Union of Ireland.
THOMPSON DONALD, Hon. Secretary Ulster
  Unionist Labour Association, and ex-District
  Secretary Shipwrights' Association.
HENRY FLEMING, Hon. Secretary Ulster Unionist
  Labour Association, Member of Boilermakers'
  Iron and Steel Shipbuilders' Society.


[110] See Appendix A.


Abercorn, James, 2nd Duke of,
  at the Belfast Convention, 33;
  President of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  illness, 47, 85, 108;
  signs the Covenant, 122;
  death, 144
Abercorn, James, 3rd Duke of, 257, 282
Abercorn, Mary, Duchess of,
  President of the Women's Unionist Council, 37
Adair, Gen. Sir Wm., at Larne, 217
Afghan Campaign, 161
Africa, South, War, 18
Agar-Robartes, Hon. Thomas,
  amendment on the Home Rule Bill, 92, 94-97, 132
Agnew, Capt. Andrew, viii, 193, 202, 210, 213, 214, 220
Albert Hall, meetings at, 14, 21, 34, 71
Alexander, Dr., Bishop of Derry, at the Albert Hall, 14
Allen, C.E., 156
Allen, W.J., 35
Althorp, Lord, 138
Altrincham, election, 155
Amending Bill, 221, 223, 227;
  postponed, 228, 230;
  _see_ Home Rule
America, War of Independence, 273
Amery, L.C.S.,
  at Belfast, 81;
  on the Curragh Incident, 182
Amiens, threatened capture of, 266
Anderson, R.N., Mayor of Londonderry,
  letter to President Wilson, 273, 296-299
Andrews, John M., letter to President Wilson, 296-299
Andrews, Thomas, 33, 35, 48
Anglo-German relations, 167, 201
_Annual Register_, viii, 18 note, 21, 54 note, 76, 78 note, 138,
  154 note, 155 note, 157 note, 166 note, 167 note, 169 note,
  170 note, 201 note, 222 note, 223 note, 238, 271 note, 272 note
Archdale, E.M., 35;
  Chairman of the Standing Committee, 35;
  Minister for Agriculture, 282
Armagh, military depot, 175, 176
Armaghdale, Lord, 263;
  signs the Covenant, 122:
  _see_ Lonsdale
Armistice, the, 275
Army, British, sympathy with Ulster Loyalists, 187-189
Arran, Isle of, 175
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H.H.,
  on the opposition of Ulster to Home Rule, 1, 2;
  at the Albert Hall, 21;
  Hull, 24;
  Reading, 24;
  Bury St. Edmunds, 25;
  opinion of Sir E. Carson's speech, 133;
  at Ladybank, 154;
  Manchester, 166;
  policy on the Ulster Question, 167-170;
  on the Curragh Incident, 180, 182;
  Secretary of State for War, 184;
  promises an Amending Bill, 221;
  on the landing of arms, 221;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  on the postponement of the Amending Bill, 228, 230;
  defence of Home Rule Bill, 235;
  in Dublin, 244;
  on the settlement of the Irish question, 245;
  on the national danger, 266
_Attentive_, H.M.S., 178
Austrian rifles, 198

Baird, J.D., at Belfast, 81
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J.,
  at Belfast, 13, 81;
  on election tactics, 25;
  on exclusion of Ulster, 95;
  resigns leadership of the Unionist Party, 60;
  how regarded in Ulster, 61;
  message from, 115;
  the "peccant paragraphs," 181
Balfour, Lord, of Burleigh, signs the British Covenant, 170
Ballycastle, 193
Ballykinler, training camp, 237
Ballymacarret, 225
Ballymena, meeting at, 108
Ballymoney, meeting at, 158
Ballyroney, meeting at, 108
_Balmerino_, s.s., 208, 209
Balmoral, Belfast, meeting at, 79-86, 101
Bangor, 214, 219
Barrie, H.T., 257
Bates, Richard Dawson, Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35, 121;
  organises demonstration, 111;
  on board a tender, 214;
  Minister for Home Affairs, 282;
  knighthood, 284
Bedford, Duke of,
  Chairman of the British League for the support of Ulster, 147
Belfast, 46;
  Convention of 1892, 32-34, 109;
  meetings at, 52, 78, 157;
  services on Ulster Day, 117;
  City Hall, 119, 283;
  Covenant signed, 119-122;
  drill hall, opened, 148;
  riots, 151;
  review of the Ulster Volunteer Force at, 163;
  Customs Authorities, stratagem against, 217;
  reception of the King and Queen, 283
Belfast Lough, 46, 175, 211, 212
_Belfast Newsletter_, 102 note, 111
Benn, Sir John, 53
Beresford, Lord Charles,
  at Belfast, 81, 109;
  at the Ulster Club, 125;
  Liverpool, 127;
  member of a Committee of the Provisional Government, 145
Berwick, 149, 154
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine, Chief Secretary for Ireland,
  on the character of Sinn Feinism, 4;
  at Ilfracombe, 54;
  on the Home Rule Bill, 96;
  the right to fight, 138;
  member of a sub-committee on Ulster, 175;
  conduct in the Irish rebellion, 243;
  character of his administration, 245
Blenheim, meeting at, 97
Boyne, the, 2;
  battle of, 115;
  celebration, 224
Bradford, 172, 174, 175
Bristol, 150, 166;
  Channel, 208
_Britannic_, H.M.S., 224
British Covenant, signing the, 170
British League for the support of Ulster and the Union, formation, 147
Browne, Robert, Managing Director of the Antrim Iron Ore Company, 193
Brunner, Sir John, President of the National Liberal Federation, 167
Buckingham Palace Conference, 227
Budden, Captain, 196
Budget, 19; "The People's," 20
"Budget League," formed, 20
Bull, Sir William, 195
Bury St. Edmunds, 25
Butcher, Sir J.G., at Belfast, 81

Cambridge, H.R.H. Duke of, 187
Cambridgeshire, election, 155
Campbell, James, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 57, 95, 109
Canterbury, Dean of, signs the British Covenant, 170
Carlyle, Thomas, 137
Carrickfergus, military depot, 175, 176
Carson, Lady, at Belfast, 236, 284
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward, viii;
  accepts leadership, 39-41;
  political views, 41;
  at the Ulster Hall, 42, 108;
  at the Ulster Unionist Council meetings, 42, 246-248;
  relations with Lord Londonderry, 44, 53;
  on the Parliament Bill, 44;
  at the Craigavon meeting, 48-51, 210;
  character of his speaking, 48;
  at the Conference at Belfast, 52;
  at Dublin, 54;
  Portrush, 55;
  refuses leadership of Unionist Party, 60;
  meetings in Lancashire, 65;
  popularity, 66, 110, 148;
  at Belfast, 73, 157, 224-226, 257, 278;
  criticism of W. Churchill's speech, 74;
  on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 77;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 81, 84;
  ovation, 85;
  attacks on, 87;
  on the Home Rule Bill, 90, 96;
  at the Londonderry House Conference, 94;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 98, 100;
  character of his leadership, 102;
  reads the Ulster Covenant, 105;
  tour of the Province, 110, 114;
  opinion of the Covenant, 111;
  presentation to, 115;
  speech on the Covenant, 116;
  at the service in the Ulster Hall, 118;
  at the City Hall, 120-124;
  signs the Covenant, 121;
  at Liverpool, 127;
  on the exclusion of Ulster, 133, 168;
  death of his wife, 148;
  at opening of drill hall, 148;
  in Scotland and England, 149;
  at Durham, 153;
  Chairman of the Central Authority, 156;
  Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156;
  inspection of the Ulster Volunteer Force, 162, 164, 167, 223, 226;
  on the time limit for exclusion, 171;
  leaves the House of Commons, 173;
  on the plot against Ulster, 176;
  signs statement on the Curragh Incident, 186;
  interview with Major F.H. Crawford, 199, 210;
  congratulations from Lord Roberts, 220;
  at Ipswich, 222;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  on the patriotism of Ulster, 231-233;
  tribute to B. Law, 236;
  second marriage, 236;
  tribute to Lord Londonderry, 241;
  appointed Attorney-General, 242;
  resignation, 242;
  on the Irish rebellion, 246;
  appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, 252;
  resignation, 263;
  re-elected leader of the Ulster Party, 263;
  member of the Irish Unionist Alliance, 265;
  on the Military Service Bill, 270;
  letter to President Wilson, 273, 296-299;
  M.P. for Duncairn, 275;
  declines office, 275;
  on the Government of Ireland Act, 279;
  conclusion of his leadership, 280;
  Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 284;
  unable to be present at the opening of the Ulster Parliament, 284
Casement, Sir Roger, 7, 158;
  in league with Germany, 243
Cassel, Felix, at Belfast, 81
Castlereagh, Viscount, 109, 230;
  at Belfast, 81;
  signs the Covenant, 121
Cavan, 248, 279
Cave, Rt. Hon. George, 188;
  at Belfast, 81;
  letter to _The Times_, 152
Cecil, Lord Hugh, at Belfast, 81, 109;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 86;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 96
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Austen,
  candidate for the leadership of the Unionist Party, 60;
  message from, 115;
  at Skipton, 167;
  on the policy of the Government, 168
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Joseph, at Belfast, 13;
  views on Home Rule, 16, 128;
  tariff policy, 18;
  his advice to Sir E. Carson, 167
Chambers, James, signs the Covenant, 121
Chichester, Capt. the Hon. A.C.,
  Commander in the Ulster Volunteer Force, 163
Childers, Mr. Erskine, on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 76
China Expeditionary Force, 161
Chubb, Sir George Hayter, signs the British Covenant, 170
Churchill, Mrs., at Belfast, 73
Churchill, Lord Randolph, at Belfast, 13, 81;
  at the Ulster Hall meeting, 30, 40, 62;
  saying of, 31, 42;
  reception at Larne, 74;
  views on Home Rule, 128;
  _Life of,_ 138
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S., at Manchester, 19;
  _Life of Lord Randolph Churchill_, 30, 138;
  at Dundee, 54, 154;
  views on Home Rule, 62;
  projected visit to Belfast, 62-69;
  letter to Lord Londonderry, 69;
  change of plan, 69;
  reception at Belfast, 73;
  departure from, 74;
  on Home Rule, 95;
  letters on the Ulster menace, 99;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 138, 141;
  the policy of exclusion, 152;
  at Bradford, 172, 174, 175
City Hall, Belfast, 119, 283
Clark, Sir George, 156
Clogher, Bishop of, signs the Covenant, 122
_Clydevalley, s.s.,_ 211-213, 220;
  renamed, 214
Coleraine, meeting at, 108, 114
Comber, 82
Copeland Island, 212, 214, 220
_Correspondence relating to Recent Events in the Irish Command_, 185
Covenant, British, signing the, 170
Covenant, Ulster, draft, 104;
  terms, 105-107;
  series of demonstrations, 108-110;
  meeting in the Ulster Hall, 114;
  signing the, 120-124;
  anniversary, 158, 165, 236
Cowser, Richard, 210, 214
Craig, Charles, 96, 147;
  serves in the war, 234;
  taken prisoner, 234
Craig, James, member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  meeting at Craigavon, 46;
  gift for organisation, 46;
  member of the Commission of Five, 53;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 96;
  draft of the Covenant, 103;
  organises the demonstration, 111;
  presentation of a silver key and pen to Sir E. Carson, 115;
  Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156;
  at the reviews of the U.V.F., 162, 164, 223;
  at Bangor, 217;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 228;
  appointed Q.M.G. of the Ulster Division, 234;
  Treasurer of the Household, 253;
  resignation, 263;
  baronetcy, 275;
  Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions, 275;
  Secretary to the Admiralty, 281;
  resignation, 281;
  Prime Minister of the Northern Parliament, 281
Craig, John, 103
Craig, Mrs., presents colours to the U.V.F., 223
Craigavon, meeting at, 45-51, 80, 105, 149, 210
Crawford, Colonel F.H., viii; signs the Covenant, 123, 191;
  Commander in the U.V.F., 163;
characteristics, 190; career, 191;
  Secretary of the Reform Club, 191;
  advertises for rifles, 191;
  Director of Ordnance, 192;
  method of procuring arms, 192-200;
  schooner, 192;
  agreement with B.S., 197-200;
  interview with Sir E. Carson, 199, 210;
  voyage in s.s. _Fanny_, 202-210;
  conveys arms from Hamburg, 203-213;
  attack of malaria, 207;
  declines to obey unsigned orders, 209;
  at Belfast, 210;
  purchases s.s. _Clydevalley_, 211, 212;
  lands the arms, 214;
  at Rosslare, 220;
  awarded the O.B.E., 284
Crewe, election, 98, 99
Crewe, Marq. of, 18, 23, 175;
  on the Amending Bill, 223
Cromwell, Oliver, 136
Crozier, Dr., Archbp. of Armagh, member of Provisional Government, 145
Crumlin, meeting at, 108
Curragh Incident, 174-189, 221
Curzon, Marq., on the Parliament Bill, 44;
  the Home Rule Bill, 134;
  the loyalty of Ulster, 141

_Daily Express, The_, 225
_Daily Mail, The_, 225
_Daily News, The_, 114, 166
_Daily Telegraph, The_, 111, 225
D'Arcy, Dr., Primate of All Ireland, 118;
  signs the Covenant, 121
Darlington, 149
Davis, Jefferson, 137
Democracy, axiom of, 15
Derbyshire, election, 222
Derry, relief of, 13, 85;
  meeting at, 108;
  election, 144;
  riots, 151
Desborough, Lord, signs the British Covenant, 170
Devlin, Joseph, 6, 127, 172, 174, 275;
  with Mr. W. Churchill in Belfast, 63, 68;
  the Irish Convention, 261;
  on the Military Service Bill, 269;
  letter to President Wilson, 273, 287-295;
  demands self-determination, 277
Devonshire, 8th Duke of, views on Home Rule, 128, 134;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 136, 138;
  _Life of_, 136 note, 139 note
Dicey, Prof., signs the British Covenant, 170
Dickson, Scott, at Belfast, 81;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 86
"Die Hards" party, 44
Dillon, John, 6, 174;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  on the Irish Rebellion, 244;
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 287-293
Donaghadee, 214, 219
Donald, Thompson, letter to Pres. Wilson, 296-299
Donegal, 248, 279
_Doreen_, s.s., 207, 210;
  at Lundy, 208
Dorset Regiment, transferred to Holywood, 177, 178
Dromore, meeting at, 108
Dublin, insurrection, 4, 243;
  Unionist demonstration at, 54;
  Nationalist Convention, meeting, 92;
  Congress in, 276
Dufferin and Ava, Dow. Marchioness of, 113
Duke, Rt. Hon. H.E., Chief Secretary for Ireland, 253
Duncairn, election, 275
Dundalk, 178
Dundee, 54, 154
Dunleath, Lord, 156
Durham, Sir E. Carson at, 153

East Fife, 25
Edinburgh, 24, 101;
  Ulstermen sign the Covenant, 123;
  meeting at, 149;
  Philosophical Institution, lecture at the, 274
Edward VII, King, death, 23
Election, General, of 1886, 16;
  of 1895, 34;
  of Jan. 1910, 21, 22, 42;
  of Dec. 1910, 26;
  of 1918, 4
Elections, result of, 99, 155, 222
Emmet, Robert, 7, 46, 142
Enniskillen, meeting at, 108, 114;
  military depot, 175, 176
Erne, Earl of, member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  at the Craigavon meeting, 47;
  signs the Covenant, 122
Ewart, G.H., President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, 157
Ewart, Sir William, member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  signs the Covenant, 121
_Fanny_, s.s., voyage, viii, 202-213;
  alterations in her appearance, 206;
  rechristened, 207;
  transference of the cargo, 213
Farnham, Lord, at the Ulster Unionist Council meeting, 248, 279;
  Irish Unionist Alliance, 265
Ferguson, John, & Co., 196
Fiennes, Mr., at Belfast, 73
Finance Bill, rejected, 19
Finlay, Sir Robert, at Belfast, 81;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 86
Fishguard, 213
Flavin, Mr., on the Military Service Bill, 269
Fleming, Henry, letter to Pres. Wilson, 296-299
Flood, Henry, patriotism, 7
Foyle, the, 87, 214
_Freemason's Journal, The_, 72, 287
French, F.M., Viscount, member of the Army Council, 176;
  resignation, 184;
  Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 272;
  attempt on his life, 277
Frewen, Miss, marriage, 236; _see_ Carson
Friend, General, 177

Gambetta, Léon, 9
George V, King, Conference at Buckingham Palace, 228;
  opens the Ulster Parliament, 282, 286;
  reception in Belfast, 283
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Budget, 19;
  at Edinburgh, 24;
  on the exclusion of Ulster, 152;
  Anglo-German relations, 167, 201;
  opinion of Sir E. Carson's speech, 168;
  plot against Ulster, 174;
  at Ipswich, 222;
  the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  Secretary of State for War, 245;
  negotiations for the settlement of the Irish question, 245, 247, 250;
  Prime Minister, 252;
  on Home Rule, 254;
  alternative proposals, 255;
  statement on the war, 266, 268;
  Military Service Bill, 268;
  letter to B. Law, 276 note;
  basic facts on the Irish Question, 277;
  Government of Ireland Act, 278
German rifles, 198
Gibson, T.H., Sec. of Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  resignation, 35
Gilmour, Captain, at Belfast, 81
Gladstone, Rt. Hon. W.E., 138;
  on the character of the Nationalists, 5;
  conversion to Home Rule, 7, 12, 30;
  Home Rule Bills, 13, 16, 17;
  personality, 17
Glasgow, 22, 78;
  meeting at, 149
Goschen, Viscount, views on Home Rule, 16, 128
Goudy, Prof., signs the British Covenant, 170
Gough, General Sir Hugh, commanding the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, 180;
at the War Office, 181;
  return to the Curragh, 181;
  driven back by the Germans, 270
Government of Ireland Act, 51, 278
Graham, John Washington, 194
Grattan, Henry, patriotism, 7
Greenwood, Sir Hamar, at Belfast, 73;
  Chief Secretary for Ireland, 285
Grey, Earl, on the Home Rule Bill, 134
Grey, Sir Edward, on the Home Rule Bill, 95;
  at Berwick, 154
Griffith, Arthur, arrested, 271;
  deported, 295
Griffith-Boscawen, Sir Arthur, at Belfast, 81
Grimsby, election, 222
Guest, Capt. Frederick, at Belfast, 72
Guinness, Walter, supports exclusion of Ulster, 95
Gun-barrel Proof Act, 196

Haldane, Viscount, 130, 185
Halifax, Lord, 136, 141
Hall, Frank, 121
Halsbury, Earl of, 151
Hamburg, Col. Crawford at, 198
Hamilton, Lord Claud, at Belfast, 81;
  Provisional Government, 145
Hamilton, George C., M.P. for Altrincham, 155
Hamilton, Gustavus, Governor of Enniskillen, 48
Hamilton, Marq. of, interest in the Ulster Movement, 109;
  signs the Covenant, 122
Hammersmith Armoury, 195;
  seizure of arms at, 196
Hanna, J., 257
Harding, Canon, 158
Harland and Wolff, Messrs., 191
Harrison, Frederic, on the Ulster Question, 169
Hartington, Marq. of, views on Home Rule, 16
Health Insurance Act, 222
Healy, T.M., 18, 22;
  on the Military Service Bill, 270;
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 287-295
Henry, Denis, member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35
Hickman, Colonel Thomas, member of Provisional Government, 145;
  career, 160;
  letter from Lord Roberts, 161, 195
Hills, J.W., at Belfast, 81
Holland, Bernard,
  _Life of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire_, 136 note, 139 note
Holywood, 46, 177, 178
Home Rule, 23-29;
  a separatist movement, 7;
  memorial against, 155
Home Rule Bill, 13, 16, 17, 90-97, 131, 133, 149;
  political meetings, 97;
  under the "guillotine," 131;
  in the House of Lords, 134;
  rejected, 135;
  time limit for exclusion, 171;
  passed, 222, 224;
  receives the Royal Assent, 235
Home Rule Bill, Amending Bill, 221, 223, 227, 228, 230
Hull, Mr. Asquith at, 24

Ilfracombe, 54
Indemnity Guarantee Fund, subscriptions, 156, 163
Ipswich, election, 222
Ireland, two nations, 2, 84;
  rebellions, 6;
  animosity of rival creeds, 9;
  condition, 17, 19, 298;
  insurrection, 27;
  fiscal autonomy, 76-78;
  financial clauses of the Home Rule Bill, 91;
  prohibition of the importation of arms, 166;
  Easter Rebellion, 243;
  exemption from conscription, 268;
  German plot in, 271;
  agitation against conscription, 272;
  anarchy, 279
Ireland, Council of, 278
Ireland, Government of, Act, 2, 278-280
Ireland, Northern, Parliament, 280-282
Irish Convention, 255-262;
  members, 255, 257;
  Report, 264, 266
_Irish News, The_, 114
Irish Republican Army, system of terrorism, 277
Irish Republican Brotherhood, 243
Irish Unionist Alliance, 30, 265;
  co-operation with the Ulster Unionist Council, 37
Islandmagee, 218
Italian Vetteli rifles, 197, 198, 201

James II, King, 139, 141
Johnston, James, Lord Mayor of Belfast,
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 296-299

Kelly, Sam, 209
Kelly, Thomas, letter to Pres. Wilson, 287-295
Kennedy, Sir Robert, member of Provisional Government, 143
Kettle, Prof. T.M., on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 76
Kiel, 204
Kingstown, cruisers at, 178
Kipling, Rudyard, "Ulster 1912," 79, 129;
  signs the British Covenant, 170
Kitchener, F.M. Earl, 230, 238
Kossuth, 136

Labour Party, 22, 26
Ladybank, Mr. Asquith at, 154
Lamlash, battleships at, 175
Lane-Fox, George, at Belfast, 81
Langeland, 204
Lansdowne, Marq. of, scheme of reform for the House of Lords, 24;
  on the Parliament Bill, 44;
  message from, 115;
  on the Ulster Question, 169;
  the Amending Bill, 223;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227
Larne, 74, 81, 212, 214
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar, leader of Unionist Party, 28, 60;
  on Home Rule, 28, 131;
  at the Albert Hall, 71;
  on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 78;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 80-86;
  reception at Larne, 81;
  his speech, 84;
  indictment against the Government, 90, 172, 174, 235;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 91, 95, 98;
  messages from, 115, 149;
  at Wallsend, 154;
  Bristol, 166;
  on the exclusion of Ulster, 169, 171;
  demands inquiry into the Curragh Incident, 185;
  on the Amending Bill, 222;
  at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  at Belfast, 236;
  tribute to, 236;
  at the Ulster Hall, 237;
  warning to the Nationalists, 255;
  on the Military Service Bill, 269, 271
Lecky, W.E.H., _History of England in the Eighteenth Century_, 274 note
Leeds, meeting at, 149
Leo XIII, Pope, 8
Leslie, Shane, _Henry Edward Manning_, 8 note
Liberal Party, policy, 16;
  victory in 1906, 18;
  majority, 19, 22;
  tactics, 20;
  number of votes, 22, 26;
  defeated in 1895, 34
Liddell, R.M., 156
Lincoln, Abraham, 40;
  saying of, 15
Linlithgow, election, 155
Lisburn, meeting at, 108, 114
Liverpool, 127
_Liverpool Daily Courier, The_, extract from, 165
_Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury,_ 159 note
Llandudno, 212
Lloyd, Mr. George, at Belfast, 81
Logue, Cardinal, 10
London School of Economics, conference at, 76
Londonderry House, conference at, 92, 94, 147
Londonderry, Marchioness of,
  member of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council, 37;
  on the Covenant, 112;
  presents colours to the U.V.F., 223;
  work in the war, 240
Londonderry, 6th Marq. of, viii;
  on Home Rule, 28;
  Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  popularity, 43;
  character, 44;
  relations with Sir E. Carson, 44, 53;
  on the Parliament Bill, 44;
  Conference at Belfast, 52;
  at the Ulster Hall meeting, 62, 106, 108;
  the Ulster Unionist Council meetings, 65, 67;
  reply to W. Churchill, 69;
  at Belfast, 73;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 84;
  signs the Covenant, 121;
  at the Ulster Club, 125;
  Liverpool, 127;
  on the House of Lords, 134;
  President of the Ulster Unionist Council, 145;
  Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156;
  at the reviews of the U.V.F., 164, 223;
  on the Curragh Incident, 186;
  on the Amending Bill, 223;
  at Enniskillen, 227;
  despondency, 240; death, 241;
  tribute to, 241
Londonderry, 7th Marq. of, viii;
  member of the Irish Convention, 257, 263;
  Under-Secretary of State in the Air Ministry, 275;
  resignation, 281;
  Minister of Education, 281
Long, Rt. Hon. Walter, 147;
  founder of the Union Defence League, 37;
  leader of the Irish Unionists, 38;
  at the Ulster Hall, 42;
  candidate for the leadership of the Unionist Party, 60;
  at Belfast, 81, 224;
  at the Balmoral meeting, 84, 86;
  the Londonderry House conference, 92;
  message from, 115;
  on the policy of the Government, 170;
  signs the British Covenant, 170;
  chairman of a Cabinet Committee on the Irish Question, 277
Lonsdale, Sir John B., member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  Hon. Sec. of the Irish Unionist Party, 39;
  signs Covenant, 122;
  Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156;
  leader of the Ulster Party, 254;
  at Belfast, 257;
  raised to the peerage, 263;
  _see_ Armaghdale
Lords, House of,
  rejection of the Home Rule Bill, 17, 135;
  of the Finance Bill, 19, 21;
  forced to accept the Parliament Bill, 27;
  position under the Parliament Act, 134;
  debates on the Home Rule Bill, 134
Loreburn, Lord, letters to _The Times_, 152, 165
Lough Laxford, 203, 206, 207
Lough, Thomas, on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 76
Lovat, Lord, signs the British Covenant, 170
Lowther, Rt. Hon. James, at the Buckingham Palace Conference, 227
Loyal Orange Institution, 31
Lundy, 208
Lyons, W.H.H., 35

Macdonnell, Lord, on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 76
Mackinder, H.J., at Belfast, 81
Macnaghten, Sir Charles, member Provisional Government, 145
Macnaghten, Lord, Lord of Appeal, 140, 145;
  signs the Covenant, 122
MacNeill, John, letter to Pres. Wilson, 287-295
Mahan, Admiral, 130
Maine, Sir H., _Popular Government_, extract from, 14
Malcolm, Sir Ian, at Belfast, 81
Manchester, 77, 166;
  election, 99
_Manchester Guardian, The_, 166
Manning, Cardinal, on Home Rule, 8
Mary, H.M., Queen, at the opening of the Ulster Parliament, 282;
  reception in Belfast, 283
Massereene, Lady, presents colours to the Ulster Volunteer Force, 223
Massingham, Mr., 166
Masterman, Rt. Hon. C.F.G., 170, 222
Mazzini, 136
McCalmont, Col. James, Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  Commander of a U.V.F regiment, 163
McCammon, Mr., 121
McDowell, Sir Alexander, criticism of the Ulster Covenant, 104
McMordie, Mr., Lord Mayor of Belfast,
  at the service in the Ulster Hall, 118;
  receives Sir E. Carson, 120;
  at the Ulster Club, 125
Meath election petition in 1892, 10
Melbourne, Lord, 136
Mersey, the, 127
Midleton, Earl of, at the Irish Convention, 260;
  supports Home Rule, 262;
  secedes from the Irish Unionist Alliance, 265
Midlothian, election, 99
Military Service Act, ii., 268-272
Milner, Viscount, signs the British Covenant, 170;
  on the Amending Bill, 223
Moles, Thomas, viii; Chairman of Committee in the Northern Parliament, 282
Molyneux, patriotism, 7
Monaghan, 248, 279
Montgomery, B.W.D., Secretary of the Ulster Club, 103
Montgomery, Dr., 118
Montgomery, Major-Gen., member of Provisional Government, 145
Moore, William, Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  on the amendment to the Home Rule Bill, 96;
  exclusion of Ulster, 168
Morley, Viscount, _Life of Gladstone_, 17;
  on the resistance of Ulster, 154;
  helps Colonel Seely to draft the "peccant paragraphs," 181, 183
_Morning Post, The_, 79, 225, 229, 283 note
_Motu Proprio_, Vatican decree, 11
Mount Stewart, 82, 225
_Mountjoy_, the, 87, 214
_Mountjoy II_, s.s., cargo landed at Larne, 214, 218
Moyle, the, 193
Musgrave Channel, 211, 217
Musgrave, Henry, 156

_Nation, The_, 158
National Insurance Bill, 53
Nationalist Party, in the House of Commons, 22, 26;
  attitude on the war, 267;
  opposition to conscription, 269-273
Nationalists, the, compared with the Ulster Unionists, 2;
  disloyalty, 4-6;
  policy, 6, 78, 141, 142;
  ancestry, 8;
  demand dissolution of the Union, 14;
  attitude on the war, 231, 233, 252;
  members of the Irish Convention, 256-262;
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 287-295;
  demand "self-determination," 291, 298
Nationality, root of, 2;
  plea of 14, 15
Navy, reduction of, 167, 201
_Nec Temere_, Vatican decree, 11
Neild, Herbert, at Belfast, 81
Newcastle, 149, 153;
  training camp, 237
Newman, Cardinal, 5
Newry, 177
Newtownards, 225;
  meeting at, 108, 114
_Nineteenth Century, The_, 183 note, 239 note
Nonconformists, 9; opposition to
  Home Rule, 155
Northcliffe, Viscount, 225
Norwich, Ulster members at, 150

O'Brien, William, 22;
  on the Military Service Bill, 270;
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 287-295
_Observer, The_, 84, 115 note, 225
O'Connell, Daniel, 7
O'Connor, T.P., 127, 174, 275;
  on Home Rule, 253
Omagh, military depot, 175, 176
Omash, Miss, viii
O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Arthur, 230;
  killed in the war, 241, 253
O'Neill, Major Hugh, serves in the war, 242;
  Speaker of the Northern Parliament, 282
O'Neill, Hugh, Earl of Tyrone, 7
O'Neill, Laurence, Lord Mayor of Dublin,
  letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 287-295
O'Neill, Hon. R.T., member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35
Ormsby-Gore, Capt. the Hon. W.G.A., at Belfast, 81
O'Shea, divorce, 17

Paget, Sir Arthur, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland,
  letter from Colonel Seely, 175;
  in London, 176;
  interviews with Ministers, 177;
  instructions from the War Office, 178, 180;
  conference with his officers, 179, 185;
  on the employment of troops in Ulster, 186
Parliament, assembled, 23, 131, 167;
  dissolved, 23, 275;
  adjourned, 99
Parliament Act, 23, 27, 43-45, 53, 91
_Parliamentary Debates_, viii, 29 _note,_ 142, 179 note, 181 note, 185 note
Parnell, Charles, saying of, 6;
  leader of the Nationalist Party, 6;
  downfall, 17
_Pathfinder_, H.M.S., 178
_Patriotic_, R.M.S., 128
Peel, Sir Robert, 138
Peel, W., at Belfast, 81
"People's Budget," 20;
  rejection, 42
Percival-Maxwell, Col., Privy Councillor, 284
Phoenix Park murders, 243
Pirrie, Lord, unpopularity in Belfast, 63;
  peerage conferred, 284
Pitt, Rt. Hon. William, 15
Plunkett, Sir Horace, Chairman of the Irish Convention, 257, 261;
  letter to Lloyd George, 264
Pollock, Sir Ernest, at Belfast, 81
Pollock, H.M., member of the Irish Convention, 257, 262
Portadown, meeting at, 108, 114
Portland, Duke of, signs the British Covenant, 170
Portrush, 55, 193
Presbyterian Church, General Assembly of the, 155
Presbyterians, political views, 12
Preston, George, subscription to the Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156
Prisoners, release of, 256
Protestants, Irish, distrust of Roman Catholics, 9;
  dislike of clerical influence, 10

Ramsay, Sir W., signs the British Covenant, 170
Ranfurly, Earl of, organises the Ulster Loyalist Union, 30, 37;
  member of the Unionist Council, 35
Raphoe, Bishop of, member of the Irish Convention, 258, 260-262
Rawlinson, J.F.P., at Belfast, 81
Reade, R.H., 35
Reading, Mr. Asquith at, 24;
  election, 155
Redistribution Act, 275
Redmond, Capt., 275
Redmond, John, 174;
  on the national movement, 7;
  policy, 22;
  on Home Rule, 27, 54;
  with Mr. W. Churchill in Belfast, 63, 68;
  opinion of Sir E. Carson's speech, 133;
  protests against Amending Bill, 222;
  at Buckingham Palace Conference, 227;
  conditional offer of help in the war, 231, 233;
  tribute to, 239;
  patriotism, 239;
  refuses office, 242;
  at Dublin, 249;
  on the exclusion of Ulster, 250;
  manifesto, 254;
  at the Irish Convention, 260-262;
  death, 262;
  on the condition of Ireland, 298
Redmond, Major W., his speech in the House, 253;
  killed in the war, 253
Reform Club, Belfast, 122, 124, 191
Reid, Whitelaw, 274
Renan, E., on the root of nationality, 2
_Reynolds's Newspaper_, 89
Richardson, Gen. Sir George, Commander-in-Chief of the U.V.F., 161, 197;
  career, 161;
  characteristics, 162;
  at Belfast, 162, 217;
  reviews the U.V.F., 163-165
Rifles, seized by Government, 161, 195;
  purchase of, 198;
  packing, 201;
  landed in Ulster, 219
Roberts, F.M. Earl, 130, 188;
  letter to Col. Hickman, 161, 195;
  signs British Covenant, 170;
  congratulations to Sir E. Carson, 220;
  on the result of coercing Ulster, 224
Robertson, Rt. Hon. J.M., Secretary to the Board of Trade,
  on fiscal autonomy for Ireland, 76;
  at Newcastle, 153
Rochdale, Unionist Association at, 99
Roe, Owen, 7
Roman Catholics, Irish, disloyalty 9;
  character of the priest, 10;
  methods of enforcing obedience, 10-12
Rosebery, Earl of, 15, 18;
  at Glasgow, 22;
  on the characteristics
  of the Ulster race, 101
Rosslare, 220
Royal Irish Rifles, the 5th, 57
Russia, collapse of, 268
Russian rifles, 198

S.B., the Hebrew dealer in firearms, 197;
  agreement with Major F.H. Crawford, 197-200;
  honesty, 204
St. Aldwyn, Viscount, on the King's Prerogative, 151
Salisbury, Marq. of, at Belfast, 13, 81;
  message from, 109;
  views on Home Rule, 128
Salvidge, Mr., Alderman of Liverpool, 127, 128;
  signs the British Covenant, 170
Samuel, Mr. Herbert, at Belfast, 54
Sanderson, Colonel, Chairman of the Ulster Parliamentary Party, 35, 38
_Saturday Review, The_, extract from, 70
Sclater, Edward, Secretary of the Unionist Clubs, 53
Scotland, the Covenant, 103
_Scotsman, The_, 101, 225, 274 note
Seely, Col. Sec. of State for War, letter to Sir A. Paget, 175;
  statement to Gen. Gough, 181;
  adds paragraphs, 181, 183;
  on the Curragh Incident, 182;
  resignation, 183, 184
Seymour, Adm. Sir E., signs British Covenant, 170
Sharman-Crawford, Col., member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  of the Commission of Five, 53
Shaw, Lord, _Letters to Isabel_, 18 note
Shiel Park, meeting at, 128
Shipyards, observance of Ulster Day, 117
Shortt, Rt. Hon. E., Chief Secretary for Ireland, 272
Simon, Sir John, 175
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Thomas, at the Ulster Convention, 33;
  member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35, 67;
  on Home Rule, 38;
  member of a Commission, 63;
  on the Covenant, 104, 109;
  signs it, 121
Sinn Fein party, refuse to join the Convention, 255;
  in league with Germany, 271, 276;
  arrests, 271;
  members of Parliament, 276, 276;
  treason of, 276;
  congress in Dublin, 276; outrages, 277
Sinn Feinism, spirit of, 4
Skipton, 167
Smiley, Kerr, 156
Smith, Rt. Hon. F.E. (Lord Birkenhead), on the policy of Ulster, 97, 98;
  on the Covenant, 109;
  at the Ulster Club, 125;
  at Liverpool, 127;
  at the inspection of the U.V.F., 162;
  "galloper" to Gen. Sir G. Richardson, 163
Smith, Mr. Harold, 109
Solemn League and Covenant, 104;
  _see_ Ulster
Somme, battle of the, 234
_Spectator, The_, 225
Spender, Col. W. Bliss, U.V.F., 197, 203, 207, 215;
 awarded the O.B.E., 284
_Standard, The_, 70, 118, 225
_Star, The_, extract from, 89
Stronge, Sir James, member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35
Stuart-Wortley, Mr., at Belfast, 81
Submarine warfare, 253
Suffragists' campaign, 167
Swift, patriotism, 7

Tariff Reform policy, 18, 19;
  controversy, 59, 155, 167
Templetown, Lord, founds the Unionist Clubs, 30, 31
Thiepval, battle at, 234
_Times, The_, 32, 64, 69, 71, 77, 79, 82, 84, 99, 110, 115, 124, 126,
  139, 140, 153, 172, 182, 187, 225;
  letters in, 152, 165
Tirah Expedition, 161
Tone, Wolfe, 7, 46, 142
Tramp steamer, diverts suspicion, 217
Turkington, James A., letter to Pres. Wilson, 296-299
Tuskar Light, 210, 211
Tyrone, contingent of Orangemen, 57

Ulster, use of the term, vii;
  opposition to Home Rule, 1, 2, 30;
  loyalty, 2-4, 33, 63, 139-143, 251;
  ancestry, 8;
  political views, 12;
  landlords and tenants, 12;
  mottoes, 13, 33;
  reluctant acceptance of a separate constitution, 14;
  organisations, 30-38;
  policy, 33, 51, 75, 77, 92, 93-100, 133, 136-143;
  military drilling, 57;
  characteristics of the people, 101;
  time limit for exclusion, 171;
  plot against, 174;
  emigrants in America, 274, 297;
  result of the Government of Ireland Act, 280
Ulster, British League for the support of, formed, 147
Ulster Club, Belfast, 125
Ulster, Convention of 1892, 80, 109
Ulster Covenant, draft, 104;
  terms, 105-107;
  series of demonstrations, 108-110;
  meeting in the Ulster Hall, 114;
  signing the, 120-124;
  anniversary, 158, 165, 236
Ulster Day, 165, 236; religious observance, 107, 117
Ulster Division, 1st Brigade, training, 237;
  recruiting, 238
Ulster Hall, 283;
  meetings, 30, 38, 40, 42, 62, 106, 108, 114, 237;
  service, 118, 158
Ulster Loyalist Anti-Repeal Union, 37
Ulster Loyalist and Patriotic Union, 30
Ulster Movement, vii, 1
Ulster Parliament, appointment of Ministers, 281-2;
  opened, 282-6
Ulster Provisional Government, 53, 145, 156, 163;
  judiciary, 146;
  constitution, 226
Ulster Unionist Clubs, founded, 30-1
Ulster Unionist Council, vii, 35;
  meetings, 27, 42, 52, 62, 65-67, 106, 145,
            156, 210, 226, 236, 246-249, 279;
  members, 35, 36;
  co-operation with the Irish Unionist Alliance, 37;
  resolution adopted, 68-71;
  character, 75;
  scheme for the Provisional Government, 145;
  statement on the Curragh Incident, 186
Ulster Unionist Members of Parliament, 38;
  tour in Scotland and England, 149
Ulster Unionists, letter to Pres. Wilson, 273, 296-299
Ulster Volunteer Force, 58, 113, 137, 160;
  Indemnity Guarantee Fund, 156, 163;
  growth, 158, 160;
  parades, 162, 163-165, 167, 223, 226;
  strength, 168;
  arming the, 192-200, 223;
  organisation, 215;
  despatch-riders' corps, 215;
  trial mobilisation, 216;
  presentation of colours, 223;
  volunteer for service in the war, 229;
  organisation and training of the Division, 234
Ulster Women's Unionist Association, work of the, 166
Ulster Women's Unionist Council, formed, 37;
  meeting, 113
"Ulster 1912," Rudyard Kipling's, 79, 129
"Ulster's Reward," William Watson's, 129
Union Defence League, in London, 37
Unionist Associations of Ireland, joint committee, 37
Unionist Party, administration, 18, 20;
  defeated, 18;
  number of votes, 22, 26, 99;
  dissensions on Tariff Reform, 69;
  members at Belfast, 81
Unionists, Southern manifesto, 265;
  Committee formed, 265;
  result of the Government Act, 282

Valera, E. De, M.P. for East Clare, 256;
  arrested, 277; deported, 295
Vatican decrees, 11
Vickers & Co., Messrs., 194
Victoria, Queen, 136

Wallace, Col. R.H., member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  member of a Commission, 53;
  Grand Master of the Belfast Lodges, 57;
  popularity, 57;
  career, 57;
  applies for leave to drill, 58;
  at the Ulster Unionist Council meeting, 67, 72;
  presentation of a banner to Sir E. Carson, 115;
  Command in the U.V.F., 163, 164;
  Privy Councillor, 284
Wallsend, 154
Walter, Mr. John, 225
War, the Great, 27, 228, 266
War Office, treatment of Gen. Gough, 181
Ward, Lieut.-Col. John,
  on the Curragh Incident, 182;
  "The Army and Ireland," 183 note, 238
Warden, F.W., 72 note
Washington, George, 273, 291
Watson, Sir William, "Ulster's Reward," 129
Waziri Expedition, 161
_Westminster Gazette_, 114;
  cartoon, 87
Whig Revolution of 1688, 31
White Paper, 175 note, 176 note, 177 note, 178 note, 179 note,
  180 note, 181 note, 185, 187 note, 188
William III, King, banner, 115
Willoughby de Broke, Lord, 109
Wilson, President,
  letter from the Nationalists, 273, 287-295;
  from the Unionists, 273, 296-299;
  phrase of "self-determination," 277
Wimborne, Lord, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, resignation, 272
Wolff, G., 35
Wolseley, Viscount, 187
Women's Unionist Council, Ulster,
  formed, 37;
  meeting, 113
Workman and Clark, Messrs., 214
Workman, Frank, 157
Wynyard, Lord Londonderry's death at, 241

Yarmouth, 207
York, 149
York, Archbp. of, on the Home Rule Bill, 134
_Yorkshire Post, The_, 149, 163
Young, Rt. Hon. John,
  member of the Ulster Unionist Council, 35;
  at the meeting, 67;
  takes part in the campaign, 109;
  signs the Covenant, 122
Young, W.R.,
  organises the Ulster Loyalist and Patriotic Union, 30, 37;
  signs the Covenant, 122;
  Privy Councillor, 284

Zhob Valley Field Force, expedition, 161

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