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Title: Ireland In The New Century
Author: Plunkett, Horace, 1854-1932
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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IRELAND

IN THE NEW CENTURY


BY THE RIGHT HON.

SIR HORACE PLUNKETT, K.C.V.O., F.R.S.


LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.

1904

_Printed by_ BROWNE AND NOLAN, LTD., _Dublin_



TO THE MEMORY OF

W.E.H. LECKY,


I DEDICATE ALL IN THIS BOOK
THAT IS WORTHY OF THE FRIENDSHIP
WITH WHICH HE HONOURED ME,
AND OF THE COUNSEL WHICH HE GAVE ME
FOR MY GUIDANCE IN IRISH PUBLIC LIFE.



PREFACE

Those who have known Ireland for the last dozen years cannot have failed
to notice the advent of a wholly new spirit, clearly based upon
constructive thought, and expressing itself in a wide range of fresh
practical activities. The movement for the organisation of agriculture
and rural credit on co-operative lines, efforts of various kinds to
revive old or initiate new industries, and, lastly, the creation of a
department of Government to foster all that was healthy in the voluntary
effort of the people to build up the economic side of their life, are
each interesting in themselves. When taken together, and in conjunction
with the literary and artistic movements, and viewed in their relation
to history, politics, religion, education, and the other past and
present influences operating upon the Irish mind and character, these
movements appear to me to be worthy of the most thoughtful consideration
by all who are responsible for, or desire the well-being of the Irish
people.

I should not, however, in days when my whole time and energies belong to
the public service, have undertaken the task of writing a book on a
subject so complex and apparently so inseparable from heated
controversy, were I not convinced that the expression of certain
thoughts which have come to me from practical contact with Irish
problems, was the best contribution I could make to the work on which I
was engaged. I wished, if I could, to bring into clearer light the
essential unity of the various progressive movements in Ireland, and to
do something towards promoting a greater definiteness of aim and method,
and a better understanding of each other's work, among those who are in
various ways striving for the upbuilding of a worthy national life in
Ireland.

So far the task, if difficult, was congenial and free from
embarrassment. Unhappily, it had been borne in upon me, in the course of
a long study of Irish life, that our failure to rise to our
opportunities and to give practical evidence of the intellectual
qualities with which the race is admittedly gifted, was due to certain
defects of character, not ethically grave, but economically paralysing.
I need hardly say I refer to the lack of moral courage, initiative,
independence and self-reliance--defects which, however they may be
accounted for, it is the first duty of modern Ireland to recognise and
overcome. I believe in the new movements in Ireland, principally because
they seem to me to exert a stimulating influence upon our moral fibre.

Holding such an opinion, I had to decide between preserving a discreet
silence and speaking my full mind. The former course would, it appeared
to me, be a poor example of the moral courage which I hold to be
Ireland's sorest need. Moreover, while I am full of hope for the future
of my country, its present condition does not, in my view, admit of any
delay in arriving at the truth as to the essential principles which
should guide all who wish to take a part, however humble, in the work of
national regeneration.

I desire to state definitely that I have not written in any
representative capacity except where I say so explicitly. I write on my
own responsibility, with the full knowledge that there is much in the
book with which many of those with whom I work do not agree.

_December_, 1903.



CONTENTS

PART I.

_THEORETICAL._

CHAPTER I

THE ENGLISH MISUNDERSTANDING.

  Fidelity of the Irish to the National Ideal
  Disregard of Material Advantage in its Pursuit
  Home Rule Movement under Gladstone
  The Anti-Climax under Lord Rosebery
  The Logic of Events and the Dawn of the Practical
  The Mutual Misunderstanding of England and Ireland
  The Dunraven Conference produces a Revolution in English Thought
  about Ireland
  The Actual Change Examined
  Future Misunderstanding best averted by considering Nature of
  Anti-English Feeling
  Illustration from Irish-American Life
  Importance of Sentiment in Ireland--English Habit of Ignoring
  Historical Grievances Still Operative
  The Commercial Restrictions--Remaining Effects of
  Irish Land Tenure--Lord Dufferin on
  Defects of Land Laws--Their Effect on Agriculture
  Right Attitude towards Historic Grievances
  Plea for Broader and more Philosophic View of Irish Question
  Simple Explanations and Panaceas Deprecated
  A Many-Sided Human Problem


CHAPTER II.

THE IRISH QUESTION IN IRELAND.

  Misunderstanding of the Irish People by the English and by Themselves
  Anomalies of Irish Life
  The New Movement--Position of Nationalists and Unionists in it
  North and South
  The Question of Rural Life
  Economic Side of the Question
  Grazing versus Tillage
  Peasant Organisation to be Supplemented by State-Aid
  Uneconomic Holdings too Prevalent
  Remedies Proposed
  Salvation not by Agriculture Alone
  Rural Industries and the Irish Home
  Reasons for Arrested Development of Home Life
  Inter-Dependence of the Sentimental and Practical in Ireland
  Outlines of Succeeding Chapters


CHAPTER III.

THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICS UPON THE IRISH MIND.

  Legislation as a Substitute for Work
  Political Shortcomings of Unionism and Nationalism Compared
  Action of the Unionist Party Reviewed
  Two Main Causes of its Lack of Success
  The Contribution of Ulster
  The Nationalist Party
  Are Irishmen Good Politicians?
  The Irish and the Scotch-Irish in America
  America's Interest in the Problem
  Part Played by English Government in Producing Modern Irish Disabilities
  Causes of the Growth of National Feeling
  Retardation of Political Education by the One-Man System
  And by Politicians of To-Day
  Defence of Nationalist Policy on Ground of Tactics Considered
  The Forces opposed to Home Rule--How Dealt with
  Local Government--How it might have been utilised
  After Home Rule?
  Beginnings of Political Education
  The Irish Parliamentary Party


CHAPTER IV.

THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION UPON SECULAR LIFE IN IRELAND.

  Influences of Religion in Ireland
  What is Toleration?
  Protestantism in Irish Life
  Roman Catholicism and Economics
  Power of the Roman Catholic Clergy
  Has it been Abused?
  Church Building and Monastic Establishments
  Clerical Education
  Responsibility of the Clergy for Irish Character
  The Church and Temperance
  The Inculcation of Chastity
  The Priest in Politics
  New Movement among the Roman Catholic Clergy
  Duty and Interest of Protestantism
  What each Creed has to Learn from the other


CHAPTER V.

A PRACTICAL VIEW OF IRISH EDUCATION.

  English Government and Education
  The Kildare Street Society
  Scheme of Thomas Wyse
  Early Attempts at Practical Education
  Recent Reports on Irish Systems
  The Policy of the Department of Agriculture
  The Example of Denmark
  University Education for Roman Catholics
  Maynooth and its Limitations
  Trinity College
  Its Lack of Influence on the Irish Mind
  A Democratic University Called for
  National and Economic in its Aims
  Views of Roman Catholic Ecclesiastics
  The Two Irelands
  Lord Chesterfield on Education and Character


CHAPTER VI.

THROUGH THOUGHT TO ACTION.

  A Word to my Critics
  The Gaelic League
  Compared with the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society
  Objects and Constitution of the League
  Filling the Gap in Irish Education
  Patriotism and Industry
  Nationality and Nationalism
  A Possible Danger
  Extravagances in the Movement
  The Gaelic League and the Rural Home
  Meeting with Harold Frederic
  His Pessimistic Views on the Celt
  A New Solution of the Problem--Organised Self-Help
  English and Irish Industrial Qualities
  Special Value of the Associative Qualities
  Conclusion of Part I.

       *       *       *       *       *

PART II.

_PRACTICAL._


CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW MOVEMENT; ITS FOUNDATION ON SELF-HELP.

  Distrust of Novel Schemes often well justified
  The Story of the New Movement
  Necessitated by Foreign Competition
  Production and Distribution
  Causes of Continental Superiority
  Objects for which Combination is Desirable
  How to Organise the Industrial Army
  Help from England
  Doubts and Difficulties
  Some Favouring Conditions
  The Beginning of the Work--Co-operative Creameries
  The Social Problem
  Early Efforts and Experiences
  Foundation of the I.A.O.S.
  Its Present Position
  Agricultural Banks
  The Brightening of Home Life
  Staff of the Society
  Philanthropy and Business
  Enquiries from Abroad
  Moral and Social Effects of the New Movement
  Unknown Leaders


CHAPTER VIII.

THE RECESS COMMITTEE.

  After Six Years
  Opportunity for State-Aid
  Combination of Political and Industrial Leadership
  A Letter to the Press
  Mr. Justin McCarthy's Reply
  Mr. Redmond's Reply
  Formation of the Committee
  Investigations on the Continent
  Recommendations of the Committee
  Position of the Nationalist Members of the Committee
  Chief Reliance on Local Effort
  Public Opinion on the New Proposals
  Adoption of the Bill to give effect to them
  Mr. Gerald Balfour's Policy
  Industrial Home Rule


CHAPTER IX.

A NEW DEPARTURE IN IRISH ADMINISTRATION.

  Functions and Constitution of the New Department
  How it is Financed
  The Representative Element in its Constitution
  The Right to Vote Supplies
  Consultative Committee on Education
  The Department Linked with the Local Government System
  Successful Co-operation with Local Government Bodies
  And with Voluntary Societies
  The New Department and the Congested Districts Board
  The Reception of the Department by the Country
  Some Typical Callers
  A Wrong Impression Anticipated


CHAPTER X.

GOVERNMENT WITH THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.

  Summary of Previous Chapter
  The Attitude of the People towards the Department
  Method of Co-operation with Local Bodies
  State-Aid, Direct and Indirect
  The Department and the Large Towns
  The Department's Plans for Developing Agriculture
  The Industrial Problem and Education
  The Difficulty of Finding Trained Teachers
  How Surmounted
  Difficulties of Agricultural Education
  Decision to Adopt Itinerant Instruction
  Double Purpose of this Instruction
  Relation of the Department with Secondary Schools
  Importance of Domestic Economy Teaching
  Provision of Teachers in Domestic Economy
  Miscellaneous Industries
  Competition of the Factory
  The Department's Fabian Policy Justified
  Its Support by the Country
  Improvement of Live-Stock
  Best Method of giving Object Lessons in Agriculture
  Sea Fisheries
  Continental Tours for Irish Teachers
  Cork Exhibition of 1902
  Things and Ideas
  Concluding Words


INDEX



PART I.

_THEORETICAL_.


     "It is hard to say where history ends, and where religion and
     politics begin; for history, religion and politics grow on one stem
     in Ireland, an eternal trefoil."--_Lady Gregory_.



CHAPTER I.

THE ENGLISH MISUNDERSTANDING.


Whatever may be the ultimate verdict of history upon the long struggle
of the majority of the Irish people for self-government, the picture of
a small country with large aspirations giving of its best unstintingly
to the world, while gaining for itself little beyond sympathy, will
appeal to the imagination of future ages long after the Irish Question,
as we know it, has been buried. It may then, perhaps, be seen that the
aspirations came to nought because they were opposed to the manifest
destiny of the race, and that it should never have been expected or
desired that the Dark Rosaleen should 'reign and reign alone.'
Nevertheless, the fidelity and fortitude with which the national ideal
had been pursued would command admiration, even if the ideal itself were
to be altogether abandoned, or if it were to be ultimately realised in a
manner which showed that the methods by which its attainment had been
sought were the cause of its long postponement. Whatever the future may
have in store for the remnant of the Irish people at home, the continued
pursuit of a separate national existence by a nation which is rapidly
disappearing from the land of all its hopes, and the cherishing of
these hopes, not only by those who stay but also by those who go, will
stand as a monument to human constancy.

The picture will be all the more remarkable when emphasised by a
contrast which the historian will not fail to draw. Across a narrow
streak of sea another people, during the same period, increased and
multiplied and prospered mightily, spread their laws and institutions,
and achieved in every portion of the globe material success which they
can call their own. Yet, although Irishmen have done much to win that
success for the English people to enjoy, and are to-day foremost in
maintaining the great empire which their brain and muscle were ever
ready to augment, Ireland makes no claim for herself in respect of the
achievement. It is to her but a proof of what her sons will do for her
in the coming time; it does not bring her nearer to her heart's desire.

Although the nineteenth century, with all its marvellous contributions
to human progress, left Ireland with her hopes unfulfilled; although its
sun went down upon the British people with their greatest failure still
staring them in the face, its last decade witnessed at first a change in
the attitude of England towards Ireland, and afterwards a profound
revolution in the thoughts of Ireland about herself. The strangest and
most interesting feature of these developments was that in practical
England the Irish Question became the great political issue, while in
sentimental Ireland there set in a reaction from politics and an
inclination to the practical. The twentieth century has already brought
to birth the new Ireland upon whose problems I shall write. If the human
interest of these problems is to be realized, if their significance is
not to be as wholly misunderstood as that of every other Irish movement
which has perplexed the statesmen who have managed our affairs, they
must be studied in their relation to the English and Irish events of the
period in which the new Ireland was conceived.

In 1885 Gladstone, appealing to an electorate with a large accession of
newly enfranchised voters, transferred the struggle over the Irish
Question from Ireland to Great Britain. The position taken up by the
average English Home Ruler was, it will be remembered, simple and
intelligible. The Irish had stated in the proper constitutional way what
they wanted, and that, in the first flush of a victorious democracy,
when counting heads irrespective of contents was the popular method of
arriving at political truth, was assumed to be precisely what they ought
to have. A long but inconclusive contest ensued. At times it looked as
if the Liberal-Irish alliance might snatch a victory for their policy.
But when Gladstone was forced to break with the Irish Leader, and
Parnellism without Parnell became obviously impossible, the English
realised that the working of representative institutions in Ireland had
produced not a democracy but a dictatorship, and they began to attach a
lesser significance to the verdict of the Irish polls. Their faith in
democracy was unimpaired, but, in their opinion, the Irish had not yet
risen to its dignity. So most English Radicals came round to a view
which they had always reprobated when advanced by the English
Conservatives, and political inferiority was added to the other moral
and intellectual defects which made the Irish an inferior race!

The anti-climax to the Gladstone crusade was reached when Lord Rosebery
in 1894 took over the premiership from the greatest English advocate of
the Irish cause. The position of the new leader was very simple. In
effect, he told the Irish Nationalists that the English party he was
about to lead had done its best for them. They must now regard
themselves as partners in the United Kingdom, with the British as the
predominant partner. Until the predominant partner could be brought to
take the Irish view of the partnership, the relations between them must
remain substantially as they were. And not only must the concession of
Home Rule await the conversion of the British electorate, but before the
demand could be effectively preferred, another leader must rise up among
the Irish; and he, for all Lord Rosebery knew, was at the moment being
wheeled in a perambulator. This apparently cynical avowal of the new
premier's own attitude towards Home Rule accurately stated the facts of
the situation, and fairly reflected the mind of the British electorate,
after Irish obstruction had given them an opportunity of studying the
bearing of the Irish Question on English politics.

If the logic of events was thus making for the removal of Home Rule from
the region of practical politics in England, an even more momentous
change was taking place in Ireland. Whilst the Home Rule controversy was
at its height in the 'eighties and early 'nineties, some Irish
grievances were incidentally dealt with--not always under the best
impulses or in the best way. The concentration of all the available
thought and energy of Irish public men upon an appeal to the passions
and prejudices of English parties had led to the further postponement of
all Irish endeavour to deal rationally and practically with her own
problems at home. But during the welter of contention which prevailed
after the fall of Parnell, there grew up in Ireland a wholly new spirit,
born of the bitter lesson which was at last being learned. The Irish
still clung undaunted to their political ideal, but its pursuit to the
exclusion of all other national aims had received a wholesome check.
Thought upon the problems of national progress broadened and deepened,
in a manner little understood by those who knew Ireland from without,
and, indeed, by many of those accounted wise among the observers from
within. Was the realisation of a distinctive national existence, many
began to ask themselves, to be for ever dependent upon the fortunes of a
political campaign? In any scheme of a reconstructed national life to
which the Irish would give of their best, there must be
distinctiveness--that much every man who is in touch with Irish life is
fully aware of--but the question of existence must not be altogether
ignored. At the rate the people were leaving the sinking ship, the Irish
Question would be settled in the not distant future by the disappearance
of the Irish. Had we not better look around and see how other countries
with more or less analogous conditions fared? Could we not--Unionists
and Nationalists alike--do something towards material progress without
abandoning our ideals? Could we not learn something from a study of what
our people were doing abroad? One seemed to hear the voice of Bishop
Berkeley, the biting pertinence of whose _Queries_ is ever fresh, asking
from the grave in which he had been laid to rest nearly a century and a
half ago 'whether it would not be more reasonable to mend our state than
complain of it; and how far this may be in our own power?'

These questionings, though not generally heard on the platform or even
in the street, were none the less working in the depths of the Irish
mind, and found expression not so much in words as in deeds. Yet though
the downfall of Parnell released many minds from the obsession of
politics, the influence of that event was of a negative character, and
it took time to produce a beneficial effect. That fruitful last decade
of the nineteenth century saw the foundation of what will some day be
recognised as a new philosophy of Irish progress. Certain new principles
were then promulgated in Ireland, and gradually found acceptance; and
upon those principles a new movement was built. It is partly, indeed, to
expound and justify some, at any rate, of the principles and to give an
intelligible account of the practical achievement and future
possibilities of this movement that I write these pages.

For English readers, to whom this introductory chapter is chiefly
addressed, I may here reiterate the opinion, which I have always held
and often expressed, that there is no real conflict of interest between
the two peoples and the two countries, and that the mutual
misunderstanding which we may now hope to see removed is due to a wide
difference of temperament and mental outlook. The English mind has never
understood the Irish mind--least of all during the period of the 'Union
of Hearts.' It is equally true that the Irish have largely misunderstood
both the English character and their own responsibility. The result has
been that their leaders, despite the brilliant capacity they have shown
in presenting the unhappy case of their country to the rest of the
world, have rarely presented it in the right way to the English people.
There have been many occasions during the last quarter of a century when
a calm, well-reasoned statement of the economic disadvantages under
which Ireland labours would, I am convinced, have successfully appealed
to British public opinion. It could have been shown that the development
of Ireland--the development not only of the resources of her soil but of
the far greater wealth which lies in the latent capacities of her
people--was demanded quite as much in the interest of one country as in
that of the other.

Here, indeed, is an untilled field for those to whom the Irish Question
is yet a living one. If I could think that each country fully realised
its own responsibility in the matter, if I could think that the
long-continued misunderstanding was at an end, nothing would induce me
to trouble the waters at this auspicious hour, when a better feeling
towards Ireland prevails in Great Britain, and when the Irish people are
fully appreciative of the obviously sincere desire of England to be
generous to Ireland. But an examination of the events upon which the
prevailing optimism is based will show that, unhappily,
misunderstanding, though of another sort, still exists, and that Ireland
is as much as ever a riddle to the English mind.

Now this new optimism in the English view of Ireland seems to be based,
not upon a recognition of the development of what I have ventured to
dignify with the title of a new philosophy of Irish progress, but upon a
belief that the spirit of moderation and conciliation displayed by so
many Irishmen in connection with the Land Act is due to the fact that my
incomprehensible countrymen have, under a sudden emotion, put away
childish things and learned to behave like grown-up Englishmen.
Throughout the press comments upon the Dunraven Conference and in public
speeches both inside and outside Parliament there has run a sense that a
sort of portent, a transformation scene, a sudden and magical
alteration in the whole spirit and outlook of the Irish people, has come
to pass.

I feel some hesitation in asking the reader to believe that a great and
lasting revolution in Irish thought has been brought about in such a
moment in the life of a people as twelve short years. But a lesser
number of months seemed to the English mind adequate for the
accomplishment of the change. And what a change it was that they
conceived! To them, less than a year ago, the Irish Question was not
merely unsolved, but in its essential features appeared unaltered. After
seven centuries of experimental statecraft--so varied that the English
could not believe any expedient had yet to be tried--the vast majority
of the Irish people regarded the Government as alien, disputed the
validity of its laws, and felt no responsibility for administration, no
respect for the legislature, or for those who executed its decrees. And
this in a country forming an integral part of the United Kingdom, where
the fundamental basis of government is assumed to be the consent of the
governed! Nor were any hopes entertained that the cloud would quickly
pass. During the Boer war the prophets of evil, in predicting the
calamity which was to fall upon the British Empire, took as their text
the failure of English government in Ireland. When they wanted to paint
in the darkest colours the coming heritage of woe, they wrote upon the
wall, 'Another Ireland in South Africa'; and if any exception was taken
to the appropriateness of the phrase, it was certainly not on the
ground that Ireland had ceased to be a warning to British statesmen.

I believe, quite as strongly as the most optimistic Englishman, that
there has been a great change from this state of things in Irish
sentiment, and my explanation of that change, if less dramatic than the
transformation theory, affords more solid ground for optimism. This
change in the sentiment of Irishmen towards England is due, not to a
sudden emotion of the incomprehensible Celt, but really to the
opinion--rapidly growing for the last dozen years--that great as is the
responsibility of England for the state of Ireland, still greater is the
responsibility of Irishmen. The conviction has been more and more borne
in upon the Irish mind that the most important part of the work of
regenerating Ireland must necessarily be done by Irishmen in Ireland.
The result has been that many Irishmen, both Unionists and Nationalists,
without in any way abandoning their opposition to, or support of, the
attempt to solve the political problem from without, have been
trying--not without success--to solve some part of the Irish Question
from within. The Report of the Recess Committee, on which I shall dwell
later, was the first great fruit of this movement, and the Dunraven
Treaty, which paved the way for Mr. Wyndham's Land Act, was a further
fruit, and not the result of an inexplicable transformation scene.

The reason why I dwell on the true nature of the undoubted change in
the Irish situation is not in order to exaggerate the importance of the
part played by the new movement in bringing it about, nor to detract
from the importance of Parliamentary action, but because a mistaken view
of the change would inevitably postpone the firm establishment of an
improved mutual understanding between the two countries, which I regard
as an essential of Irish progress. I confess that my apprehension of a
new misunderstanding was aroused by the debates on the Land Bill in the
House of Commons. As regards the spirit of conciliation and moderation
displayed by the Irish, and the sincere desire exhibited by the British
to heal the chief Irish economic sore, the speeches were, if not
epoch-making, at any rate epoch-marking; but they showed little sense of
perspective or proportion in viewing the Irish Question, and little
grasp or appreciation of the large social and economic problems which
the Land Act will bring to the front. Temporary phenomena and
legislative machinery have been endowed with an importance they do not
possess, and miracles, it is supposed, are about to be worked in Ireland
by processes which, whatever rich good may be in them, have never worked
miracles, though they have not seldom excited very similar enthusiasms
in the economic history of other European lands.

I agree, then, with most Englishmen in thinking, though for a different
reason, that the passing of the Land Act marked a new era in Ireland.
They regard it as productive of, or co-incident in time with, the dawn
of the practical in Ireland. I antedate that event by some dozen years,
and regard the Land Act rather as marking a new era, because it removes
the great obstacle which obscured the dawn of the practical for so many,
and hindered it for all.

Whatever may have been the expectations upon which this great measure
was based, I, in common with most Irish observers, watched its progress
with unfeigned delight. The vast majority regarded the hundred millions
of credit and the twelve millions of 'bonus' as a generous concession to
Ireland; and I sympathised with those who deprecated the mischievous
suggestion, not infrequently heard in English political circles, that
this munificence was the 'price of peace.' On one point all were agreed:
the Bill could never have become law had not Mr. Wyndham handled the
Parliamentary situation with masterly tact, temper, and ability. To him
is chiefly due the credit for the fact that the Land Question, in its
old form at any rate, no longer blocks the way, and that the large
problems which remain to be solved, and, above all, the spirit in which
they will have to be approached by those who wish the existing peace to
be the forerunner of material and social progress, can be freely and
frankly discussed.

It is true, as I have said, that Ireland is becoming more and more
practical, and that England is becoming more anxious than ever to do her
substantial justice. But still the manner of the doing will continue to
be as important as the thing which is done. Of the Irish qualities none
is stronger than the craving to be understood. If the English had only
known this secret we should have been the most easily governed people in
the world. For it is characteristic of the conduct of our most important
affairs that we care too little about the substance and too much about
the shadow. It is for this reason that I have discussed the real nature
of one phase of Irish sentiment which has been largely misunderstood,
and it is for the same reason that I propose to preface my examination
of the Irish Question with some reference to the cause and nature of the
anti-English sentiment, for the long continuance of which I can find no
other explanation than the failure of the English to see into the Irish
mind.

I am well acquainted with this sentiment because, in my practical work
in Ireland, it has ever been the main current of the stream against
which I have had to swim. Years spent in the United States had made me
familiar with its full and true significance, for there it can be
studied in an atmosphere not dominated by any present Irish
controversies or struggles. I have found this sentiment of hatred deeply
rooted in the minds of Irishmen who had themselves never known Ireland,
who had no connection, other than a sentimental one, with that country,
who were living quiet business lives in the United States, but who were
ever ready to testify with their dollars, and genuinely believed that
they only lacked opportunity to demonstrate in a more enterprising way,
their "undying hatred of the English name."[1]

With such men I have reasoned, and sometimes not in vain, upon the
injustice and unreason of their attitude. I have not attempted to
controvert the main facts of Ireland's grievances, which they frequently
told me they had gleaned from Froude and Lecky. I used to deprecate the
unqualified application of modern standards to the policies of other
days, and to protest against the injustice of punishing one set of
persons for the misdoings of another set of persons, who have long since
passed beyond the reach of any earthly tribunal. I have given them my
reasons for believing that, even if such a course were morally
admissible, the wit of man could not devise any means of inflicting a
blow upon England which would not react injuriously with tenfold force
upon Ireland. I have gone on to show that the sentiment itself, largely
the accident of untoward circumstances, is alien to the character and
temperament of the Irish people. In short, I have urged that the policy
of revenge is un-Christian and unintelligent, and, that, as the Irish
people are neither irreligious nor stupid, it is un-Irish. I well
remember taking up this position in conversation with some very advanced
Irish-Americans in the Far West and the reply which one of them made.
"Wal," said my half-persuaded friend, "mebbe you're right. I have two
sons, whom I have raised in the expectation that they will one day
strike a blow for old Ireland. Mebbe they won't. I'm too old to change."

I have chosen this incident from a long series of similar reminiscences
of my study of Irish life, to illustrate an attitude of mind, the
historical explanation of which would seem to the practical Englishman
as academic as a psychological exposition of the effect of a red rag
upon a bull. The English are not much to be blamed for resenting the
survival of the feeling, but it appears to me to argue a singular lack
of political imagination that they should still fail to appreciate the
reality, the significance, and the abiding force of a sentiment which
has so far successfully resisted the influence of those governing
qualities which have played a foremost part in the civilisation of the
modern world. The _Spectator_ some time ago came out bluntly with a
truth which an Irishman may, I presume, quote without offence from so
high an English authority:--"The one blunder of average Englishmen in
considering foreign questions is that with white men they make too
little allowance for sentiment, and with coloured men they make none at
all."[2] I am afraid it must be added that 'average Englishmen' make
exactly the same blunder in under-estimating the force of sentiment when
considering Irish questions, with the not unnatural consequence that
the Irish regard them as foreigners, and that, as those foreigners
happen to govern them, the sentiment of nationality becomes political
and anti-English.

There is one reason why this sentiment is not allowed to die which
should always be remembered by those who wish to grasp the inner
workings of the Irish mind. Briefly stated, the view prevails in Ireland
that in dealing with questions affecting our material well-being, the
government of our country by the English was, in the past, characterised
by an unenlightened self-interest. Thoughtful Englishmen admit this
charge, but they say that the past referred to is beyond living memory
and should now be buried. The Irish mind replies that the life of a
nation is not to be measured by the life of individuals, and that a
wrong inflicted by a Government upon a community entitles those who
inherit the consequences of the injury to claim reparation at the hands
of those who inherit the government. With this attitude on the part of
the Irish mind I am not only most heartily in sympathy, but I find every
Englishman who understands the situation equally so. In the later
portions of this book it will be shown that practical recognition, in no
small measure, has been given by England to the righteousness of this
part of the Irish case, and that if the effect thus produced has not
found as full an outward expression as might have been expected, the
Irish people have at any rate responded to the new treatment in a manner
which must, in no distant future, bring about a better understanding.

The only historical causes of our present discontents to which I need
now particularly refer, are the commercial restrictions and the land
system of the past, which stand out from the long list of Irish
grievances as those for which their victims were the least responsible.
No one can be more anxious than I am that we should cease to be for ever
seeking in the past excuses for our present failures. But it is
essential to a correct estimation of Irish agricultural and industrial
possibilities that we should notice the true bearings of these
historical grievances upon existing conditions.

In this connection there arises a question which is very pertinent to
the present inquiry and which must therefore be considered. I have seen
it argued by English economists that the industrial revolution which
took place at the end of the eighteenth and commencement of the
nineteenth century would in any case have destroyed, by force of open
competition, industries which, it is admitted, were previously
legislated away. They point out that the change from the order of small
scattered home industries to the factory system would have suited
neither the temperament nor the industrial habits of the Irish. They
tell us that with the industrial revolution the juxtaposition of coal
and iron became an all-important factor in the problem, and they recall
how the north and west of England captured the industrial supremacy from
the south and east. Incidentally they point out that the people of the
English counties which suffered by these economic causes braced
themselves to meet the changes, and it is suggested that if the people
of Ireland had shown the same resourcefulness, they, too, might have
weathered the storm. And, finally, we are reminded that England, by her
stupid Irish policy, punished her own supporters, and even herself,
quite as much as the 'mere Irish.'

Much of this may be true, but this line of argument only shows that
these English economists do not thoroughly understand the real grievance
which the Irish people still harbour against the English for past
misgovernment. The commercial restraints sapped the industrial instinct
of the people--an evil which was intensified in the case of the
Catholics by the working of the penal laws. When these legislative
restrictions upon industry had been removed, the Irish, not being
trained in industrial habits, were unable to adapt themselves to the
altered conditions produced by the Industrial Revolution, as did the
people in England. And as for commerce, the restrictions, which had as
little moral sanction as the penal laws, and which invested smuggling
with a halo of patriotism, had prevented the development of commercial
morality, without which there can be no commercial success. It is not,
therefore, the destruction of specific industries, or even the sweeping
of our commerce from the seas, about which most complaint is now made.
The real grievance lies in the fact that something had been taken from
our industrial character which could not be remedied by the mere removal
of the restrictions. Not only had the tree been stripped, but the roots
had been destroyed. If ever there was a case where President Kruger's
'moral and intellectual damages' might fairly be claimed by an injured
nation, it is to be found in the industrial and commercial history of
Ireland during the period of the building up of England's commercial
supremacy.

The English mind quite failed, until the very end of the nineteenth
century, to grasp the real needs of the situation which had thus been
created in Ireland The industrial revolution, as I have indicated, found
the Irish people fettered by an industrial past for which they
themselves were not chiefly responsible. They needed exceptional
treatment of a kind which was not conceded. They were, instead, still
further handicapped, towards the middle of the century, by the adoption
of Free Trade, which was imposed upon them when they were not only
unable to take advantage of its benefits, but were so situated as to
suffer to the utmost from its inconveniences.

I am convinced that the long-continued misunderstanding of the
conditions and needs of this country, the withholding, for so long, of
necessary concessions, was due not to heartlessness or contempt so much
as to a lack of imagination, a defect for which the English cannot be
blamed. They had, to use a modern term, 'standardised' their qualities,
and it was impossible to get out of their minds the belief that a
divergence, in another race, from their standard of character was
synonymous with inferiority. This attitude is not yet a thing of the
past, but it is fast disappearing; and thoughtful Englishmen now
recognise the righteousness of the claim for reparation, and are willing
liberally to apply any stimulus to our industrial life which may place
us, so far as this is possible, on the level we might have occupied had
we been left to work out our own economic salvation. Unfortunately, all
Englishmen are not thoughtful, and hence I emphasise the fact that
England is largely responsible for our industrial defects, and must not
hesitate to face the financial results of that responsibility.

When we pass from the domain of commerce, where we have seen that
circumstances reduced to the minimum Ireland's participation in the
industrial supremacy of England, and come to examine the historical
development of Irish agrarian life, we find a situation closely related
to, and indeed, largely created by, that which we have been discussing.
'Debarred from every other trade and industry,' wrote the late Lord
Dufferin, 'the entire nation flung itself back upon the land, with as
fatal an impulse as when a river, whose current is suddenly impeded,
rolls back and drowns the valley which it once fertilised.' The
energies, the hopes, nay, the very existence of the race, became thus
intimately bound up with agriculture. This industry, their last resort
and sole dependence, had to be conducted by a people who in every other
avocation had been unfitted for material success. And this industry,
too, was crippled from without, for a system of land tenure had been
imposed upon Ireland that was probably the most effective that could
have been devised for the purpose of perpetuating and accentuating every
disability to which other causes had given rise.

The Irish land system suffered from the same ills as we all know the
political institutions to have suffered from--a partial and intermittent
conquest. Land holding in Ireland remained largely based on the tribal
system of open fields and common tillage for nearly eight hundred years
after collective ownership had begun to pass away in England. The sudden
imposition upon the Irish, early in the seventeenth century, of a land
system which was no part of the natural development of the country,
ignored, though it could not destroy, the old feeling of communistic
ownership, and, when this vanished, it did not vanish as it did in
countries where more normal conditions prevailed. It did not perish like
a piece of outworn tissue pushed off by a new growth from within: on the
contrary, it was arbitrarily cut away while yet fresh and vital, with
the result that where a bud should have been there was a scar.

This sudden change in the system of land-holding was followed by a
century of reprisals and confiscations, and what war began the law
continued. The Celtic race, for the most part impoverished in mind and
estate by the penal laws, became rooted to the soil, for, as we have
seen, they had, on account of the repression of industries, no
alternative occupation, and so became, in fact, if not in law,
_adscripti glebae_. Upon the productiveness of their labour the
landlord depended for his revenues, but he did little to develop that
productiveness, and the system which was introduced did everything to
lessen it.[3] The wound produced by the original confiscation of the
land was kept from healing by the way in which the tenants' improvements
were somewhat similarly treated. I do not mean that they were
systematically confiscated--the Devon and Bessborough Commissions, as
well as Gladstone, bore witness to the contrary--but the right and the
occasional exercise of the right to confiscate operated in the same way.
In the Irish tenant's mind dispossession was nine-tenths of the law.

An enlightened system of land tenure might have made prosperity and
contentment the lot of the native race, and, perhaps, have rendered
possible such a solution of the Irish problem as was effected between
England and Scotland two centuries ago. What was chiefly required for
agrarian peace was a recognition of that sense of partnership in the
land--a relic of the tribal days--to which the Irish mind tenaciously
adhered. But, like most English concessions, it was not granted until
too late, and then granted in the wrong way. The natural result was
that, when at last the recognition of partnership was enacted, it became
a lever for a demand for complete ownership. But this was the aftermath,
for in the meantime, from the seed sown by English blundering,
Ireland--native population and English garrison alike--had reaped the
awful harvest of the Irish famine, which was followed by a long dark
winter of discontent. Upon the England that sowed the wind there was
visited a whirlwind of hostility from the Irish race scattered
throughout the globe.

It would be altogether outside the scope or purpose of this chapter to
present a complete history of the remedial legislation applied to Irish
land tenure. That history, however, illustrates so vividly the English
misunderstanding, that a short survey of one phase of it may help to
point the moral. The English intellect at long last began to grasp the
agrarian, though not the industrial side of the wrong that had been done
to Ireland, and the English conscience was moved; there came the era of
concessions to which I have alluded, and for over a quarter of a century
attempts, often generous, if not very discriminating, were made to deal
with the situation. In 1870, dispossession was made very costly to the
landlord. In 1881, it became impossible, except on the tenant's default,
and the partnership was fully recognised, the tenant's share being made
his own to sell, and being preserved for his profitable use by a right
to have the rent payable to his sleeping partner, the landlord, fixed by
a judicial tribunal. These rights were the famous three F's--fixity of
tenure, free sale, and fair rent--of the Magna Charta of the Irish
peasant. If these concessions had only been made in time, they would
probably have led to a strengthening of the economic position and
character of the Irish tenantry, which would have enabled them to take
full advantage of their new status, and meet any condition which might
arise; and it is just possible that the system might have worked well,
even at the eleventh hour, had it been launched on a rising market.
Unhappily, it fell upon evil days. The prosperous times of Irish
agriculture, which culminated a few years before the passing of the
'Tenants' Charter,' were followed by a serious reaction, the result of
causes which, though long operative, were only then beginning to make
themselves felt, and some of which, though the fact was not then
generally recognised, were destined to be of no temporary character. The
agricultural depression which has continued ever since was due, as is
now well known, to foreign competition, or, in other words, to the
opening up of vast areas in the Far West to the plough and herd, and the
bringing of the products of distant countries into the home markets in
ever-increasing quantity, in ever fresher condition, and at an
ever-decreasing cost of transportation. Great changes were taking place
in the market which the Irish farmer supplied, and no two men could
agree as to the relative influence of the new factors of the problem, or
as to their probable duration.

Whatever may be said in disparagement of the great experiment commenced
in 1881, there can be no doubt that it enormously improved the legal
position of the Irish tenantry, and I, for one, regard it as a
necessary contribution to the events whose logic was finally to bring
about the abolition of dual ownership. But what a curious instance of
the irony of fate is afforded by this genuine attempt to heal an Irish
sore, what a commentary it is upon the English misunderstanding of the
Irish mind! Mr. Gladstone found the land system intolerable to one
party; he made it intolerable to the other also. For half a century
_laissez-faire_ was pedantically applied to Irish agriculture, then
suddenly the other extreme was adopted; nothing was left alone, and
political economy was sent on its famous planetary excursion.

When Mr. Gladstone was attempting to settle the land question on the
basis of dual ownership, the seed of a new kind of single
ownership--peasant proprietorship--was sown through the influence of
John Bright. The operations of the land purchase clauses in the Church
Disestablishment Act of 1869, and the Land Acts of 1870 and 1881, were
enormously extended by the Land Purchase Acts introduced by the
Conservative Party in 1885 and in 1891, and the success which attended
these Acts accentuated the defects and sealed the fate of dual
ownership, which all parties recently united to destroy. In other words,
Parliament has been undoing a generation's legislative work upon the
Irish land question.

This is all I need say about that stage of the Irish agrarian situation
at which we have now arrived. What I wish my readers to bear in mind is
that the effect of a bad system of land tenure upon the other aspects of
the Irish Question reaches much further back than the struggles,
agitations, and reforms in connection with Irish land which this
generation has witnessed. The same may be said with regard to the other
economic grievances. No one can be more anxious than I am to fasten the
mind of my countrymen upon the practical things of to-day, and to wean
their sad souls from idle regrets over the sorrows of the past. If I
revive these dead issues, it is because I have learned that no man can
move the Irish mind to action unless he can see its point of view, which
is largely retrospective. I cannot ignore the fact that the attitude of
mind which causes the Irish people to put too much faith in legislative
cures for economic ills is mainly due to the belief that their ancestors
were the victims of a long series of laws by which every industry that
might have made the country prosperous was jealously repressed or
ruthlessly destroyed. Those who are not too much appalled by the
quantity to examine into the quality of popular oratory in Ireland are
familiar with the subordination of present economic issues to the dreary
reiteration of this old tale of woe. Personally I have always held that
to foster resentment in respect of these old wrongs is as stupid as was
the policy which gave them birth; and, even if it were possible to
distribute the blame among our ancestors, I am sure we should do
ourselves much harm, and no living soul any good, in the reckoning. In
my view, Anglo-Irish history is for Englishmen to remember, for Irishmen
to forget.

I may now conclude my appeal to outside observers for a broader and more
philosophic view of my country and my countrymen with a suggestion born
of my own early mistakes, and with a word of warning which is called for
by my later observation of the mistakes of others. The difficulty of the
outside observer in understanding the Irish Question is, no doubt,
largely due to the fact that those in intimate touch with the actual
conditions are so dominated by vehement and passionate conviction that
reason is not only at a discount but is fatal to the acquisition of
popular influence. Of course the power of knowledge and thought, though
kept in the background, is not really eliminated. But it is in the
circumstances not unnatural that most of us should fall into the error
of attributing to the influence of prominent individuals or
organisations the events and conditions which the superficial observer
regards as the creation of the hour, but which are in reality the
outcome of a slow and continuous process of evolution. I remember as a
boy being captivated by that charming corrective to this view of
historical development, Buckle's _History of Civilization_, which in
recent years has often recurred to my mind, despite the fact that many
of his theories are now somewhat discredited. Buckle, if I remember
right, almost eliminates the personal factor in the life of nations.
According to his theory, it would not have made much difference to
modern civilisation if Napoleon had happened, as was so near being the
case, to be born a British instead of a French subject. It would also
have followed that if O'Connell had limited his activities to his
professional work, or if Parnell had chanced to hate Ireland as bitterly
as he hated England, we should have been, politically, very much where
we are to-day. The student of Irish affairs should, of course, avoid the
extreme views of historical causation; but in the search for the truth
he will, I think, be well advised to attach less significance to the
influence of prominent personality than is the practice of the ordinary
observer in Ireland.

The warning I have to offer, I think, will be justified by a reflection
upon the history of the panaceas which we have been offered, and upon
our present state. To those of my British readers who honestly desire to
understand the Irish Question, I would say, let them eschew the sweeping
generalisations by which Irish intelligence is commonly outraged. I may
pass by the explanation which rests upon the cheap attribution of racial
inferiority with the simple reply that our inferior race has much of the
superior blood in its veins; yet the Irish problem is just as acute in
districts where the English blood predominates as where the people are
'mere Irish.' If this view be disputed, the matter is not worth arguing
about, because we cannot be born again. But there are three other common
explanations of the Irish difficulty, any one of which taken by itself
only leads away from the truth. I refer, I need hardly say, to the
familiar assertions that the origin of the evil is political, that it is
religious, or that it is neither one nor the other, but economic. In
Irish history, no doubt, we may find, under any of these heads, cause
enough for much of our present wrong-goings. But I am profoundly
convinced that each of the simple explanations to which I have just
alluded--the racial, the political, the religious, the economic--is
based upon reasoning from imperfect knowledge of the facts of Irish
life. The cause and cure of Irish ills are not chiefly political,
broaden or narrow our conception of politics as we will; they are not
chiefly religious, whatever be the effect of Roman Catholic influence
upon the practical side of the people's life; they are not chiefly
economic, be the actual poverty of the people and the potential wealth
of the country what they may. The Irish Question is a broad and deeply
interesting human problem which has baffled generation after generation
of a great and virile race, who complacently attribute their incapacity
to master it to Irish perversity, and pass on, leaving it unsolved by
Anglo-Saxons, and therefore insoluble!

FOOTNOTES:

[1] My own experience confirms Mr. Lecky's view of the chief cause of
this extraordinary feeling. "It is probable," he writes, "that the true
source of the savage hatred of England that animates great bodies of
Irishmen on either side of the Atlantic has very little real connection
with the penal laws, or the rebellion, or the Union. It is far more due
to the great clearances and the vast unaided emigrations that followed
the famine."--_Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland_, Vol. II., p, 177.

[2] _Spectator_, 6th September, 1902.

[3] The title to the greater part of Irish land is based on
confiscation. This is true of many other countries, but what was
exceptional in the Irish confiscations was that the grantees for the
most part did not settle on the lands themselves, drive away the
dispossessed, or come to any rational working agreement with them.



CHAPTER II.

THE IRISH QUESTION IN IRELAND.


Whilst attributing the long continued failure of English rule in Ireland
largely to a misunderstanding of the Irish mind, I have given
England--at least modern England--credit for good intentions towards us.
I now come to the case of the misunderstood, and shall from henceforth
be concerned with the immeasurably greater responsibility of the Irish
people themselves for their own welfare. The most characteristic, and by
far the most hopeful feature of the change in the Anglo-Irish situation
which took place in the last decade of the nineteenth century, and upon
the meaning of which I dwelt in the preceding chapter, is the growing
sense amongst us that the English misunderstanding of Ireland is of far
less importance, and perhaps less inexcusable, than our own
misunderstanding of ourselves.

When I first came into practical touch with the extraordinarily complex
problems of Irish life, nothing impressed me so much as the universal
belief among my countrymen that Providence had endowed them with
capacities of a high order, and their country with resources of
unbounded richness, but that both the capacities and the resources
remained undeveloped owing to the stupidity--or worse--of British rule.
It was asserted, and generally taken for granted, that the exiles of
Erin sprang to the front in every walk of life throughout the world, in
every country but their own--though I notice that in quite recent times
endeavours have been made to cool the emigration fever by painting the
fortunes of the Irish in America in the darkest colours. To suggest that
there was any use in trying at home to make the best of things as they
were was indicative of a leaning towards British rule; and to attempt to
give practical effect to such a heresy was to draw a red herring across
the path of true Nationalism.

It is not easy to account for the long continuance of this attitude of
the Irish mind towards Irish problems, which seems unworthy of the
native intelligence of the people. The truth probably is that while we
have not allowed our intellectual gifts to decay, they have been of
little use to us because we have neglected the second part of the old
Scholastic rule of life, and have failed to develop the moral qualities
in which we are deficient. Hence we have developed our critical
faculties, not, unhappily, along constructive lines. We have been
throughout alive to the muddling of our affairs by the English, and have
accurately gauged the incapacity of our governors to appreciate our
needs and possibilities. But we recognised their incapacity more readily
than our own deficiencies, and we estimated the failure of the English
far more justly than we apportioned the responsibility between our
rulers and ourselves. The sense of the duty and dignity of labour has
been lost in the contemplation of circumstances over which it was
assumed that we have no control.

It is a peculiarity of destructive criticism that, unlike charity, it
generally begins and ends abroad; and those who cultivate the gentle art
are seldom given to morbid introspection. Our prodigious ignorance about
ourselves has not been blissful. Mistaking self-assertion for
self-knowledge, we have presented the pathetic spectacle of a people
casting the blame for their shortcomings on another people, yet bearing
the consequences themselves. The national habit of living in the past
seems to give us a present without achievement, a future without hope.
The conclusion was long ago forced upon me that whatever may have been
true of the past, the chief responsibility for the remoulding of our
national life rests now with ourselves, and that in the last analysis
the problem of Irish ineffectiveness at home is in the main a problem of
character--and of Irish character.

I am quite aware that such a diagnosis of our mind disease--from which
Ireland is, in my belief, slowly but surely recovering--will not pass
unchallenged, but I would ask any reader who dissents from this view to
take a glance at the picture of our national life as it might unfold
itself to an unprejudiced but sympathetic outsider who came to Ireland
not on a political tour but with a sincere desire to get at the truth of
the Irish Question, and to inquire into the conditions about which all
the controversy continues to rage.

This hypothetical traveller would discover that our resources are but
half developed, and yet hundreds of thousands of our workers have gone,
and are still going, to produce wealth where it is less urgently needed.
The remnant of the race who still cling to the old country are not only
numerically weak, but in many other ways they show the physical and
moral effects of the drain which emigration has made on the youth,
strength, and energy of the community. Our four and a quarter millions
of people, mainly agricultural, have, speaking generally, a very low
standard of comfort, which they like to attribute to some five or six
millions sterling paid as agricultural rent, and three millions of
alleged over-taxation. They face the situation bravely--and,
incidentally, swell the over-taxation--with the help of the thirteen or
fourteen millions worth of alcoholic stimulants which they annually
consume. The still larger consumption in Great Britain may seem to lend
at least a respectability to this apparent over-indulgence, but it looks
odd. The people are endowed with intellectual capacities of a high
order. They have literary gifts and an artistic sense. Yet, with a few
brilliant exceptions, they contribute nothing to invention and create
nothing in literature or in art. One would say that there must be
something wrong with the education of the country; and most people
declare that it is too literary, though the Census returns show that
there are still large numbers who escape the tyranny of books. The
people have an extraordinary belief in political remedies for economic
ills; and their political leaders, who are not as a rule themselves
actively engaged in business life, tell the people, pointing to ruined
mills and unused water power, that the country once had diversified
industries, and that if they were allowed to apply their panacea,
Ireland would quickly rebuild her industrial life. If our hypothetical
traveller were to ask whether there are no other leaders in the country
besides the eloquent gentlemen who proclaim her helplessness, he would
be told that among the professional classes, the landlords, and the
captains of industry, are to be found as competent popular advisers as
are possessed by any other country of similar economic standing. But
these men take only a dilettante part in politics, and no value is set
on industrial, commercial or professional success in the choice of
public men. Can it be that to the Irish mind politics are, what Bulwer
Lytton declared love to be, "the business of the idle, and the idleness
of the busy"?

These, though only a few of the strange ironies of Irish life, are so
paradoxical and so anomalous that they are not unnaturally attributed to
the intrusion of an alien and unfriendly power; and this furnishes the
reason why everything which goes wrong is used to nourish the
anti-English sentiment. At the same time they give emphasis to the
growing doubt as to the wisdom of those to whom the Irish Question
presents itself only as a single and simple issue--namely, whether the
laws which are to put all these things right shall be made at St.
Stephen's by the collective wisdom of the United Kingdom, aided by the
voice of Ireland--which is adequately represented--or whether these laws
shall be made by Irishmen alone in a Parliament in College Green.

It is obviously necessary that, in presenting a comprehensive scheme for
dealing with the conditions I have roughly indicated. I should make some
reference to the attitude towards Home Rule of both the Nationalists and
the Unionists who have joined in work which, whatever be its
irregularity from the standpoint of party discipline as enforced in
Ireland, has succeeded in some degree in directing the energies of our
countrymen to the development of the resources of our country. Many of
my fellow-workers were Nationalists who, while stoutly adhering to the
prime necessity for constitutional changes, took the broad view, which
was unpopular among the Irish Party, that much could be done, even under
present conditions, to build up our national life on its social,
intellectual, and economic sides. The well-known constitutional changes
which were advocated in the political party to which they belonged would
then, they believed, be more effectively demanded by Ireland, and more
readily conceded by England. Unionists who worked with me were similarly
affected by the changing mental outlook of the country. They, too, had
to break loose from the traditions of an Irish party, for they felt that
the exclusively political opposition to Home Rule was not less
demoralising than the exclusively political pursuit of Home Rule. Just
as the Nationalists who joined the movement believed that all progress
must make for self-government, so my Unionist fellow-workers believed
it would ultimately strengthen the Union. Each view was thoroughly sound
from the standpoint of those who held it, and could be regarded with
respect by those who did not. We were all convinced that the way to
achieve what is best for Ireland was to develop what is best in
Irishmen. And it was the conviction that this can be done by Irishmen in
Ireland that brought together those whose thought and work supplies
whatever there may be of interest in this book.

If I have fairly stated the attitude towards each other of the workers
to whose coming together must be attributed as much of the change in the
Irish situation as is due to Irish initiation, it will be seen that what
had so long kept them apart in public affairs, outside politics, was a
difference of opinion, not so much as to the conditions to be dealt
with, nor, indeed, as to the end to be sought, but rather as to the
means most effective for the attainment of that end. I naturally regard
the view which I am putting forward as being broader than that which has
hitherto prevailed. Some Nationalists may, however, contend that it is
essential to progress that the thoughts and energies of the nation
should be focussed upon a single movement, and not dissipated in the
pursuit of a multiplicity of ideals. I quite admit the importance of
concentration. But I strongly hold that any movement which is closely
related to the main currents of the people's life and subservient to
their urgent economic necessities, and which gives free play to the
intellectual qualities, while strengthening the moral or industrial
character, cannot be held to conflict with any national programme of
work, without raising a strong presumption that there is something wrong
with the programme. The exclusively political remedy I shall discuss in
the next chapter, but here I propose to consider some of the problems
which the new movement seeks to solve without waiting for the political
millenium.

It is a commonplace that there are two Irelands, differing in race, in
creed, in political aspiration, and in what I regard as a more potent
factor than all the others put together--economic interest and
industrial pursuit. In the mutual misunderstanding of these two
Irelands, still more than in the misunderstanding of Ireland by England,
is to be found the chief cause of the still unsettled state of the Irish
Question. I shall not seek to apportion the blame between the two
sections of the population; but as the mists clear away and we can begin
to construct a united and contented Ireland, it is not only legitimate,
but helpful in the extreme, to assign to the two sections of our
wealth-producers their respective parts in repairing the fortunes of
their country. In such a discussion of future developments chief
prominence must necessarily be given to the problems affecting the life
of the majority of the people, who depend directly on the land, and
conduct the industry which produces by far the greater portion of the
wealth of the country. It is, of course, essential to the prosperity of
the whole community that the North should pursue and further develop
its own industrial and commercial life. That section of the community
has also, no doubt, economic and educational problems to face, but these
are much the same problems as those of industrial communities in other
parts of the United Kingdom[4]; and if they do not receive, vitally
important as is their solution to the welfare of Ireland, any large
share of attention in this book, it is because they are no part of what
is ordinarily understood by the Irish Question.

Nevertheless, the interest of the manufacturing population of Ulster in
the welfare of the Roman Catholic agricultural majority is not merely
that of an onlooker, nor even that of the other parts of the United
Kingdom, but something more. It is obvious that the internal trade of
the country depends mainly upon the demand of the rural population for
the output of the manufacturing towns, and that this demand must depend
on the volume of agricultural production. I think the importance of
developing the home market has not been sufficiently appreciated, even
by Belfast. The best contribution the Ulster Protestant population can
make to the solution of this question is to do what they can to bring
about cordial co-operation between the two great sections of the
wealth-producers of Ireland. They should, I would suggest, learn to take
a broader and more patriotic view of the problems of the Roman Catholic
and agricultural majority, upon the true nature of which I hope to be
able to throw some new light. My purpose will be doubly served if I
have, to some extent, brought home to the minds of my Northern friends
that there is in Ireland an unsettled question in which they are largely
concerned, a rightly unsatisfied people by helping whom they can best
help themselves.

The Irish Question is, then, in that aspect which must be to Irishmen of
paramount importance, the problem of a national existence, chiefly an
agricultural existence, in Ireland. To outside observers it is the
question of rural life, a question which is assuming a social and
economic importance and interest of the most intense character, not only
for Ireland North and South, but for almost the whole civilised world.
It is becoming increasingly difficult in many parts of the world to keep
the people on the land, owing to the enormously improved industrial
opportunities and enhanced social and intellectual advantages of urban
life. The problem can be better examined in Ireland than elsewhere, for
with us it can, to a large extent, be isolated, since we have little
highly developed town life. Our rural exodus takes our people, for the
most part, not into Irish or even into British towns, but into those of
the United States. What is migration in other countries is emigration
with us, and the mind of the country, brooding over the dreary
statistics of this perennial drain, naturally and longingly turns to
schemes for the rehabilitation of rural life--the only life it knows.

We cannot exercise much direct influence upon the desire to emigrate
beyond spreading knowledge as to the real conditions of life in America,
for which home life in Ireland is often ignorantly bartered.[5] We
cannot isolate the phenomenon of emigration and find a cure for it apart
from the rest of the Irish Question. We must recognise that emigration
is but the chief symptom of a low national vitality, and that the first
result of our efforts to stay the tide may increase the outflow. We
cannot fit the people to stay without fitting them to go. Before we can
keep the people at home we have got to construct a national life with,
in the first place, a secure basis of physical comfort and decency. This
life must have a character, a dignity, an outlook of its own. A
comfortable Boeotia will never develop into a real Hibernia Pacata. The
standard of living may in some ways be lower than the English standard:
in some ways it may be higher. But even if statesmanship and all the
forces of philanthropy and patriotism combined can construct a contented
rural Ireland for the people, it can only be maintained by the people.
It will have to accord with the national sentiment and be distinctively
Irish. It is this national aspiration, and the remarkable promise of the
movements making for its fruition, which give to the work of Irish
social and economic reform the fascination which those who do not know
the Ireland of to-day cannot understand. This work of reform must, of
course, be primarily economic, but economic remedies cannot be applied
to Irish ills without the spiritual aids which are required to move to
action the latent forces of Irish reason and emotion.

       *       *       *       *       *

The task which we have to face is, then, a two-sided one, but its
economic and its purely practical aspects first demand consideration.
Many even of the agrarian aspects of the question have, so far, been
somewhat neglected in Ireland owing to a cause which is not far to seek.
It has often been asserted that the Irish Question is, at bottom, the
Land Question. There is a great deal of truth in this view, but almost
all those who hold it have fallen into the grave error of tacitly
identifying the land question with the tenure question--an error which
vitiates a great deal of current theorising about Ireland. It was,
indeed, inevitable that Irish agriculturists, with such an economic
history behind them as I have outlined in the previous chapter, should
have concentrated their attention during the latter half of the
nineteenth century upon obtaining a legislative cure for the ills
produced by legislation, to the comparative neglect of those equally
difficult, if less obvious economic questions, which have been brought
into special prominence by the agricultural depression of the last
quarter of a century. Now, however, that the Land Act of 1903 has been
passed and the solution of the tenure question is in sight, we in
Ireland are more free to direct our attention to what is at present the
most important aspect of the agrarian situation--the necessity for
determining the social and economic conditions essential to the
well-being of the peasant proprietary, which, though it is to be started
with as bright an outlook as the law can give, must stand or fall by its
own inherent merits or defects. Not only are we now free to give
adequate consideration to this question, but it is also imperative that
we should do so, for whilst I am hopeful that the Land Act will settle
the question of tenure, it will obviously not merely leave the other
problems of agricultural existence--problems some of which are not
unknown in other parts of the United Kingdom--still unsolved, but will
also increase the necessity for their solution, and will, moreover,
bring in its train complex difficulties of its own.

The main features of the depressing outlook of rural life in the United
Kingdom are well known. The land steadily passes from under the plough
and is given over to stock raising. As the kine increase the men decay.
In Ireland the rural exodus takes, as I have already said, the shape,
mainly, not of migration to Irish urban centres, but rather the uglier
form of an emigration which not only depletes our population but drains
it of the very elements which can least be spared.

The reason generally given for the widespread resort to the lotus-eating
occupation of opening and shutting gates, in preference to tilling the
soil, is that in the existing state of agricultural organisation, and
while urban life is ever drawing away labour from the fields, the
substitution of pasturage for tillage is the readiest way to meet the
ruinous competition of Eastern Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and
Australasia. Yet upon the economic merits of this process I have heard
the most diverse opinions stated with equal conviction by men thoroughly
well informed as to the conditions. One of the largest graziers in
Ireland recently gave me a picture of what he considered to be an ideal
economic state for the country. If two more Belfasts could be
established on the east coast, and the rest of the country divided into
five hundred acre farms, grazing being adopted wherever permanent grass
would grow, the limits of Irish productivity would be reached. On the
other hand, Dr. O'Donnell, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Raphoe, who may
be taken as an authoritative exponent of the trend of popular thought in
the country, not long ago advocated ploughing the grazing lands of
Leinster right up to the slopes of Tara.[6] Moreover, many theories have
been advanced to show that the decline of tillage, whatever be its
cause, involves an enormous waste of national resources. But of
practical suggestion, making for a remedy, there is very little
forthcoming.

The solution of all such problems largely depends upon certain
developments which, for many reasons, I regard as absolutely essential
to the success of the new agrarian order. One of these developments is
the spread of agricultural co-operation through voluntary associations.
Without this agency of social and economic progress, small landholders
in Ireland will be but a body of isolated units, having all the
drawbacks of individualism, and none of its virtues, unorganised and
singularly ill-equipped for that great international struggle of our
time, which we know as agricultural competition. Moreover, there is
another equally important, if less obvious, consideration which renders
urgent the organisation of our rural communities. From Russia, with its
half-communistic Mir to France with its modern village commune, there is
no country in Europe except the United Kingdom where the peasant
land-holders have not some form of corporate existence. In Ireland the
transition from landlordism to a peasant proprietary not only does not
create any corporate existence among the occupying peasantry but rather
deprives them of the slight social coherence which they formerly
possessed as tenants of the same landlord. The estate office has its
uses as well as its disadvantages, and the landlord or agent is by no
means without his value as a business adviser to those from whom he
collects the rent.

The organisation of the peasantry by an extension of voluntary
associations, which is a condition precedent of social and economic
progress, will not, however, suffice to enable them to face and solve
the problems with which they are confronted, and whose solution has now
become a matter of very serious concern to the British taxpayer. The
condition of our agrarian life clearly indicates the necessity for
supplementing voluntary effort with a sound system of State aid to
agriculture and industry--a necessity fully recognised by the
governments of every progressive continental country and of our own
colonies. An altogether hopeful beginning of combined self-help and
State assistance has been already made. Those who have been studying
these problems, and practically preparing the way for the proper care of
a peasant proprietary, have overcome the chief obstacles which lay in
their path. They have gained popular acceptance for the principle that
State aid should not be resorted to until organised voluntary effort has
first been set in motion, and that any departure from this principle
would be an unwarrantable interference with the business of the people,
a fatal blow to private enterprise.[7]

The task before the people, and before the State, of placing the new
agrarian order upon a permanent basis of decency and comfort is no light
one. Indeed, I doubt whether Parliament realises one-tenth of the
problems which the latest land legislation--by far the best we have yet
had--leaves unsolved. This becomes only too clear the moment we consider
seriously the fundamental question of the relation of population to area
in rural Ireland, or, in other words, when we inquire how many people
the agricultural land will support under existing circumstances, or
under any attainable improvement of the conditions in our rural life.
Roughly speaking, the surface area of the island is 20,000,000 acres, of
which 5,000,000 are described in the official returns as 'barren
mountain, bog and waste.' This leaves us with some 15,000,000 acres
available for agriculture and grazing, which area is now divided into
some 500,000 holdings. Thus we have an average of thirty acres in extent
for the Irish agricultural holding. But, unhappily, the returns show
that some 200,000 of these holdings are from one to fifteen acres in
extent. Nor do the mere figures show the case at its worst. For it
happens that the small holdings in Ireland, unlike those on the
Continent, are generally on the poorest land, and the majority of them
cannot come within any of the definitions of an 'economic holding.'

These 200,000 holdings, the homes of nearly a million persons, threaten
to prove the greatest danger to the future of agricultural Ireland. As
the majority of them, as at present constituted, do not provide the
physical basis of a decent standard of living, the question arises, how
are they to be improved? Putting aside emigration, which at one period
was necessary and ought to have been aided and controlled by the State,
but which is now no longer a statesman's remedy, there is obviously no
solution except by the migration of a portion of the occupiers, and the
utilisation of the vacated holdings in order to enable the peasants who
remain to prosper--much as a forest is thinned to promote the growth of
trees. In typical congested districts this operation will have to be
carried out on a much larger scale than is generally realised, for a
considerable majority of families will have to be removed, in order to
allow a sufficient margin for the provision of adequate holdings for
those who remain. In some cases, there are large grazing tracts in close
proximity to the congested area which might be utilised for the
re-settlement, but where this is not so and the occupiers of the vacated
holdings have to migrate a considerable distance, the problem becomes
far more difficult. I need not dwell upon the administrative
difficulties of the operation, which are not light. I may assume, also,
that there will be no difficulty in obtaining suitable land somewhere. I
do not myself attach much weight to the unwillingness of the people to
leave their old holdings for better ones, or to the alleged objection of
the clergy to allow their parishioners to go to another parish. More
serious is the possible opposition of those who live in the vicinity of
the unoccupied land about to be distributed, and who feel that they have
the first claim upon the State in any scheme for its redistribution with
the help of public credit. Mr. Parnell promoted a company with the sole
object of practically demonstrating how this problem could be solved. A
large capital was raised, and a large estate purchased; but the company
did not effect the migration of a single family. Still these are minor
considerations compared with the larger one, to which I must briefly
refer.

Under the Land Act of 1903 much has been done to facilitate the transfer
of peasants to new farms, but it is obvious that land cannot be handed
over as a gift from the State to the families which migrate. They will
become debtors for the value of the land itself, less perhaps a small
sum which may be credited to them in respect of the tenant's interest in
the holdings they have abandoned. This deduction will, however, be lost
in the expenditure required upon houses, buildings, fences, and other
improvements which would have to be effected before the land could be
profitably occupied. Speaking generally they will have no money or
agricultural implements, and their live stock will in many cases be
mortgaged to the local shopkeeper who has always financed them. It will
be necessary for the future welfare of the country to give them land
which admits of cultivation upon the ordinary principles of modern
agriculture; but without working capital, and bringing with them neither
the skill nor the habits necessary for the successful conduct of their
industry under the new conditions, it will be no easy task to place them
in a position to discharge their obligations to the State. It is all
very easy to talk about the obvious necessity of giving more land to
cultivators who have not enough to live upon; and there is, no doubt, a
poetic justice in the Utopian agrarianism which dangles before the eyes
of the Connaught peasantry the alternative of Heaven or Leinster. But
when we come down to practical economics, and face the task of giving to
a certain number of human beings, in an extremely backward industrial
condition, the opportunity of placing themselves and their families on a
basis of permanent well-being, it will be evident that, so far, at any
rate, as this particular community is concerned, the mere provision of
an economic holding is after all but a part of an economic existence.

I have touched upon this question of migration from uneconomic to
economic holdings because it signally illustrates the importance of the
human, in contradistinction to the merely material considerations
involved in the solution of the many-sided Irish Question. I must now
return to the wider question of the relation of population to area in
rural Ireland, as it affects the general scheme of agricultural and
industrial development.

It is obvious that there must be a limit to the number of individuals
that the land can support. Allowing an average of five members for each
family, and allowing for a considerable number of landless labourers, it
seems that the land at present directly supports about 2,500,000
persons--a view which, I may add, is fully borne out by the figures of
the recent census; and it is hard to see how a population living by
agriculture can be much increased beyond this number. Even if all the
land in Ireland were available for re-distribution in equal shares, the
higher standard of comfort to which it is essential that the condition
of our people should be raised would forbid the existence of much more
than half a million peasant proprietors.[8] Hence the evergreen query,
'What shall we do with our boys?' remains to be answered; for while the
abolition of dual ownership will enable the present generation to bring
up their children according to a higher standard of living, the change
will not of itself provide a career for the children when they have been
brought up. The next generation will have to face this problem:--the
average farm can support only one of the children and his family, what
is to become of the others? The law forbids sub-division for two
generations, and after that, _ex hypothesi_, the then prevailing
conditions of life will also prevent such partition. A few of the next
generation may become agricultural labourers, but this involves
descending to the lowest standard of living of to-day, and in any case
the demand for agricultural labourers is not capable of much extension
in a country of small peasant proprietors.

Against this view I know it is pointed out that in the earlier part of
the nineteenth century the agricultural population of Ireland was as
large as is the total population of to-day; but we know the sequel.
Instances are also cited of peasant proprietaries in foreign countries
which maintain a high standard of living upon small, sometimes
diminutive, and highly-rented holdings. We must remember, however, that
in these foreign countries State intervention has undoubtedly done much
to render possible a prosperous peasant proprietary by, for example, the
dissemination of useful information, admirable systems of technical
education in agriculture, cheap and expeditious transport, and even
State attention to the distribution of agricultural produce in distant
markets. Again, in many of these countries rural life is balanced by a
highly industrial town life, as, for instance, in the case of Belgium;
or is itself highly industrialised by the existence of rural industries,
as in the case of Switzerland; while in one notable instance--that of
Württemberg--both these conditions prevail.

The true lesson to be drawn from these foreign analogies is that not by
agriculture alone is Ireland to be saved. The solution of the rural
problem embraces many spheres of national activity. It involves, as I
have already said, the further development of manufactures in Irish
towns. One of the best ways to stimulate our industries is to develop
the home market by means of an increased agricultural production, and a
higher standard of comfort among the peasant producers. We shall thus
be, so to speak, operating on consumption as well as on production, and
so increasing the home demand for Irish manufactures. Perhaps more
urgent than the creation or extension of manufactures on a larger scale
is the development of industries subsidiary to agriculture in the
country. This is generally admitted, and most people have a fair
knowledge of the wide and varied range of peasant industries in all
European countries where a prosperous peasantry exists. Nor is there
much difficulty in agreeing upon the main conditions to be satisfied in
the selection of the industries to meet the requirements of our case.
The men and boys require employment in the winter months, or they will
not stay, and the rural industries promoted should, as far as possible,
be those which allow of intermittent attention. The female members of
the family must have profitable and congenial employment. The
handicrafts to be promoted must be those which will give scope to the
native genius and aesthetic sense. But unless we can thus supply the
demand of the peasant-industry market with products of merit or
distinctiveness, we shall fail in competition with the hereditary skill
and old established trade of peasant proprietors which have solved this
part of the problem generations ago. This involves the vigorous
application of a class of instruction of which something will be said
in the proper place.

So far the rural industry problem, and the direction in which its
solution is to be found, are fairly clear. But there is one disadvantage
with which we have to reckon, and which for many other reasons besides
the one I am now immediately concerned with, we must seek to remove. A
community does not naturally or easily produce for export that for which
it has itself no use, taste, or desire. Whatever latent capacity for
artistic handicrafts the Irish peasant may possess, it is very rarely
that one finds any spontaneous attempt to give outward expression to the
inward aesthetic sense. And this brings me to a strange aspect of Irish
life to which I have often wished, on the proper occasion, to draw
public attention. The matter arises now in the form of a peculiar
difficulty which lies in the path of those who endeavour to solve the
problem of rural life in Ireland, and which, in my belief, has
profoundly affected the fortunes of the race both at home and abroad.

To a sympathetic insight there is a singular and significant void in the
Irish conception of a home--I mean the lack of appreciation for the
comforts of a home, which might never have been apparent to me had it
not obtruded itself in the form of a hindrance to social and economic
progress.[9] In the Irish love of home, as in the larger national
aspirations, the ideal has but a meagre material basis, its appeal being
essentially to the social and intellectual instincts. It is not the
physical environment and comfort of an orderly home that enchain and
attract minds still dominated, more or less unconsciously, by the
associations and common interests of the primitive clan, but rather the
sense of human neighbourhood and kinship which the individual finds in
the community. Indeed the Irish peasant scarcely seems to have a home in
the sense in which an Englishman understands the word. If he love the
place of his habitation he does not endeavour to improve or to adorn it,
or indeed to make it in any sense a reflection of his own mind and
taste. He treats life as if he were a mere sojourner upon earth whose
true home is somewhere else, a fact often attributed to his intense
faith in the unseen, but which I regard as not merely due to this cause,
but also, and in a large measure, as the natural outcome of historical
conditions, to which I shall presently refer.

What the Irishman is really attached to in Ireland is not a home but a
social order. The pleasant amenities, the courtesies, the leisureliness,
the associations of religion, and the familiar faces of the neighbours,
whose ways and minds are like his and very unlike those of any other
people; these are the things to which he clings in Ireland and which he
remembers in exile. And the rawness and eagerness of America, the lust
of the eye and the pride of life that meet him, though with no welcoming
aspect, at every turn, the sense of being harshly appraised by new
standards of the nature of which he has but the dimmest conception, his
helplessness in the fierce current of industrial life in which he is
plunged, the climatic extremes of heat and cold, the early hours and few
holidays: all these experiences act as a rude shock upon the
ill-balanced refinement of the Irish immigrant. Not seldom, he or she
loses heart and hope and returns to Ireland mentally and physically a
wreck, a sad disillusionment to those who had been comforted in the
agony of the leave-taking by the assurance that to emigrate was to
succeed.

The peculiar Irish conception of a home has probably a good deal to do
with the history of the Irish in the United States. It is well known
that whatever measure of success the Irish emigrant has there achieved
is pre-eminently in the American city, and not where, according to all
the usual commonplaces about the Irish race, they ought to have
succeeded, in American rural life. There they were afforded, and there
they missed, the greatest opportunity which ever fell to the lot of a
people agriculturally inclined. During the days of the great emigrations
from Ireland, a veritable Promised Land, rich beyond the dreams of
agricultural avarice, was gradually opened up between the Alleghanies
and the Rocky Mountains, which the Irish had only to occupy in order to
possess. Making all allowances for the depressing influences which had
been brought to bear upon the spirit of enterprise, and for their
impoverished condition, I am convinced that a prime cause of the failure
of almost every effort to settle them upon the land was the fact that
the tenement house, with all its domestic abominations, provided the
social order which they brought with them from Ireland, and the lack of
which on the western prairie no immediate or prospective physical
comfort could make good.

Recently a daughter of a small farmer in County Galway with a family too
'long' for the means of subsistence available, was offered a comfortable
home on a farm owned by some better-off relatives, only thirty miles
away, though probably twenty miles beyond the limits of her utmost
peregrinations. She elected in preference to go to New York, and being
asked her reason by a friend of mine, replied in so many words, 'because
it is nearer.' She felt she would be less of a stranger in a New York
tenement house, among her relatives and friends who had already
emigrated, than in another part of County Galway. Educational science in
Ireland has always ignored the life history of the subject with which it
dealt. In no respect has this neglect been so unconsciously cruel as in
its failure to implant in the Irish mind that appreciation of the
material aspects of the home which the people so badly need both in
Ireland and in America If the Irishman abroad became 'a rootless
colonist of alien earth,' the lot of the Irishman in Ireland has been
not less melancholy. Sadness there is, indeed, in the story of 'the
sea-divided Gael,' but, to me, it is incomparably less pathetic than
their homelessness at home.

There are, as I have said, historic reasons for the Celtic view of home
to which my personal observation and experience has induced me to devote
so much space. The Irish people have never had the opportunity of
developing that strong and salutary individualism which, amongst other
things, imperiously demands, as a condition of its growth, a home that
shall be a man's castle as well as his abiding place. In this, as in so
much else, a healthy evolution was constantly thwarted by the clash of
two peoples and two civilisations. The Irish had hardly emerged from the
nomad pastoral stage, when the first of that series of invasions, which
had all the ferocity, without the finality of conquest, made settled
life impossible over the greater part of the island. An old chronicle
throws some vivid light upon the way in which the idea of home life
presented itself to the mind of the clan chiefs as late as the days of
the Tudors. "Con O'Neal," we are told, "was so right Irish that he
cursed all his posterity in case they either learnt English, sowed wheat
or built them houses; lest the first should breed conversation, the
second commerce, and with the last they should speed as the crow that
buildeth her nest to be beaten out by the hawk."[10] The penal laws,
again, acted as a disintegrant of the home and the family; and,
finally, the paralysing effect of the abuses of a system of land tenure,
under which evidences of thrift and comfort might at any time become
determining factors in the calculation of rent, completed a series of
causes which, in unison or isolation, were calculated to destroy at its
source the growth of a wholesome domesticity. These causes happily, no
longer exist, and powerful forces are arising to overcome the defects
and disadvantages which they have bequeathed to us; and I have little
doubt that it will be possible to deal successfully with this obstacle
which adds so peculiar a feature to the problem of rural life in
Ireland.

If I have dwelt at what may appear to be a disproportionate length upon
the Irishman's peculiar conception of a home, it is because this
difficulty, which Irish social and economic reformers still encounter,
and with which they must deal sympathetically if they are to succeed in
the work of national regeneration, strikingly illustrates the two-sided
character of the Irish Question and the never-to-be-forgotten
inter-dependence of the sentimental and the practical in Ireland. I
admit that this condition which adds to the interest of the problem, and
perhaps makes it more amenable to rapid solution, is an indication of a
weakness of moral fibre to which must be largely attributed our failure
to be master of our circumstances. Indeed, as I come into closer touch
with the efforts which are now being made to raise the material
condition of the people, the more convinced I become, much as my
practical training has made me resist the conviction, that the Irish
Question is, in its most difficult and most important aspects, the
problem of the Irish mind, and that the solution of this problem is to
be found in the strengthening of Irish character.

With this enunciation of the main proposition of my book, I may now
indicate the order in which I shall endeavour to establish its truth. I
have said enough to show that I do not ignore the historical causes of
our present state; but with so many facts with which we can deal
confronting us, I propose to review the chief living influences to which
the Irish mind and character are still subjected. These influences fall
naturally into three distinct categories and will be treated in the
three succeeding chapters. The first will show the effect upon the Irish
mind of its obsession by politics. The next will deal with the influence
of religious systems upon the secular life of the people. I shall then
show how education, which should not only have been the most potent of
all the three influences in bringing our national life into line with
the progress of the age, but should also have modified the operation of
the other two causes, has aggravated rather than cured the malady.

Whatever impression I may succeed in making upon others, I may here
state that, as the result of observation and reflection, the conclusion
has been forced upon me that the Irish mind is suffering from
considerable functional derangement, but not, so far as I can discern,
from any organic disease. This is the basis of my optimism. I shall
submit in another chapter, which will conclude the first, the critical
part of my book, certain new principles of treatment which are indicated
by the diagnosis; and I would ask the reader, before he rejects the
opinions which are there expressed, to persevere through the narrative
contained in the second part of the book. There he will find in process
of solution some of the problems which I have indicated, and the
principles for which a theoretical approval has been asked, in practical
operation, and already passing out of the experimental stage. The story
of the Self-help Movement will strike the note of Ireland's economic
hopes. The action of the Recess Committee will be explained, and the
concession of their demand by the establishment of a 'Department of
Agriculture and other rural industries and for Technical Instruction for
Ireland,' will be described. This will complete the story of a quiet,
unostentatious movement which will some day be seen to have made the
last decade of the nineteenth century a fit prelude to a future
commensurate with the potentialities of the Irish people.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] I speak from personal knowledge when I say that the leaders of Irish
industry and commerce are fully alive to the practical consideration
which they have now to devote to the new conditions by which they are
surrounded. They recognise that the intensified foreign competition
which harasses them is due chiefly to German education and American
enterprise. They are deep in the consideration of the form which
technical education should take to meet their peculiar needs; and I am
confident that Ulster will make a sound and useful contribution to the
solution of the commercial and industrial problems which confront the
manufacturers of the United Kingdom.

[5] That such a knowledge is still required, though the need is becoming
less urgent, is shown by an incident which illustrates the pathos of the
Irish exodus. A poor woman once asked me to help her son to emigrate to
America, and I agreed to pay his passage. Early in the negotiations,
finding that she was somewhat vague as to her boy's prospects, I asked
her whether he wanted to go to North or South America. This detail she
seemed to consider immaterial. "Ach, glory be to God, I lave that to yer
honner. Why wouldn't I?" Had I shipped him to Peru she would have been
quite satisfied. Why wouldn't she?

[6] Yet another view which seems to uproot most agrarian ideas in
Ireland has been put forward by Dr. O'Gara in _The Green Republic_
(Fisher Unwin, 1902). His main conclusion is that the present disastrous
state of our rural economy is due to our treating land as an object of
property and not of industry. He advocates the cultivation of the land
by syndicates holding farms of 20,000 acres and tilling them by the
lavish application of modern machinery as the only way to meet American
competition. His book is able and suggestive, but it is perhaps, a work
of supererogation to discuss a theory the whole moral of which is the
expediency of absolutely divorcing the functions of the proprietor and
the manager of land at a time when the consensus of opinion in Ireland
is in favour of uniting them, and in view of the fact that under the new
Land Act the future of the country seems inevitably to lie for a long
time in the hands of a peasant proprietary.

[7] The reader may wonder why I touch so lightly upon a fact of such
profound significance as the Irishman's acceptance of self-help as a
condition precedent of State aid in the development of agriculture and
industry. But such a cursory treatment, in the early chapters, of this
and of other equally important aspects of the Irish situation is
necessitated by the plan I have adopted. I am attempting to give in the
first part of the book a philosophic insight into the chief Irish
problems, and then, in the second part of the book, to present the facts
which appear to me to illustrate these problems in process of solution.

[8] The best expert agricultural opinion tells me that under present
conditions a family cannot live in any decent standard of comfort--such
as I hope to see prevail in Ireland--on less than 30 acres of Irish
land, taking the bad land with the good.

[9] It is, of course, unnecessary for me to dwell upon the part played
by the home in the standard of living, especially amongst a rural
community. But it may not be irrelevant to note that M. Desmolins, who,
in his remarkable book, _A quoi tient la superiorité des Anglo-saxons_?
hands over the future of civilisation to the Anglo-Saxons, ascribes to
the English rural home much of the success of the race.

[10] Speed's Chronicle, quoted in _Calendar of State Papers, Ireland,_
1611-14, p. xix.



CHAPTER III.

THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICS UPON THE IRISH MIND.


Among the humours of the Home Rule struggle, the story was current in
England that a peasant in Connemara ceased planting his potatoes when
the news of the introduction of the Home Rule Bill in 1886 seemed to
bring the millenium into the region of practical politics. Those who
used the story were not slow to suggest that, had the Bill become law,
the failure of spontaneous generation in the Connemara potato patch
might have been typical of much analogous disillusionment elsewhere.
Even to those who are familiar with our history, the faith of the Irish
people in the potentialities of government, which this little tale
illustrates by caricature, will give cause for reflection of another and
more serious kind. The moral to be drawn by Irish politicians is that we
in Ireland have yet to free ourselves from one of the worst legacies of
past misgovernment, the belief that any legislation or any legislature
can provide an escape from the physical and mental toil imposed through
our first parents upon all nations for all time.

'The more business in politics, and the less politics in business, the
better for both,' is a maxim which I brought home from the Far West and
ventured to advocate publicly some years ago. Being still of the same
mind, I regret that I am compelled to introduce a whole chapter of
politics into this book, which is a study of Irish affairs mainly from a
social and economic point of view. But to ignore, either in the
diagnosis or in the treatment of the 'mind diseased,' the political
obsession of our national life would be about as wise as to discuss and
plan a Polar expedition without taking account of the climatic
conditions to be encountered.

In such an examination of Irish politics as thus becomes necessary I
shall have to devote the greater part of my criticism to the influence
of the Nationalist party upon the Irish mind. But it will be seen that
this course is not taken with a view to making party capital for my own
side. As I read Irish history, neither party need expect very much
credit for more than good intentions. Whichever proves to be right in
its main contention, each will have to bear its share of the
responsibility for the long continuance of the barren controversy. Each
has neglected to concern itself with the settlement of vitally important
questions the consideration of which need not have been postponed
because the constitutional question still remained in dispute.
Therefore, though I seem to throw upon the Nationalist party the chief
blame for our present political backwardness, and, so far as politics
affect other spheres of national activity, for our industrial
depression, candour compels me to admit that Irish Unionism has failed
to recognise its obligation--an obligation recognised by the Unionist
party in Great Britain--to supplement opposition to Home Rule with a
positive and progressive policy which could have been expected to
commend itself to the majority of the Irish people--the Irish of the
Irish Question.

To my own party in Ireland then, I would first direct the reader's
attention. I have already referred to the deplorable effects produced
upon national life by the exclusion of representatives of the landlord
and the industrial classes from positions of leadership and trust over
four-fifths of the country. I cannot conceive of a prosperous Ireland in
which the influence of these leaders is restricted within its present
bounds. It has been so restricted because the Irish Unionist party has
failed to produce a policy which could attract, at any rate, moderate
men from the other side, and we have, therefore, to consider why we have
so failed. Until this is done, we shall continue to share the blame for
the miserable state of our political life which, at the end of the
nineteenth century, appeared to have made but little advance from the
time when Bishop Berkeley asked 'Whether our parties are not a burlesque
upon politics.'

The Irish Unionist party is supposed to unite all who, like the author,
are opposed to the plunge into what is called Home Rule. But its
propagandist activities in Ireland are confined to preaching the
doctrine of the _status quo_, and preaching it only to its own side.
From the beginning the party has been intimately connected with the
landlord class; yet even upon the land question it has thrown but few
gleams of the constructive thought which that question so urgently
demanded, and which it might have been expected to apply to it. Now and
again an individual tries to broaden the basis of Irish Unionism and to
bring himself into touch with the life of the people. But the nearer he
gets to the people the farther he gets from the Irish Unionist leaders.
The lot of such an individual is not a happy one: he is regarded as a
mere intruder who does not know the rules of the game, and he is treated
by the leading players on both sides like a dog in a tennis court.

Two main causes appear to me to account for the failure of the Irish
Unionist party to make itself an effective force in Irish national life.
The great misunderstanding to which I have attributed the unhappy state
of Anglo-Irish relations kept the country in a condition of turmoil
which enabled the Unionist party to declare itself the party of law and
order. Adopting Lord Salisbury's famous prescription, 'twenty years of
resolute government,' they made it what its author would have been the
last man to consider it, a sufficient justification for a purely
negative and repressive policy. Such an attitude was open to somewhat
obvious objections. No one will dispute the proposition that the
government of Ireland, or of any other country, should be resolute, but
twenty years of resolute government, in the narrow sense in which it
came to be interpreted, needed for its success, what cannot be had under
party government, twenty years of consistency. It may be better to be
feared than to be loved, but Machiavelli would have been the first to
admit that his principle did not apply where the Government which sought
to establish fear had to reckon with an Opposition which was making
capital out of love. Moreover, the suggestion that the Irish Question is
not a matter of policy but of police, while by no means without
influential adherents, is altogether vicious. You cannot physically
intimidate Irishmen, and the last thing you want to do is morally to
intimidate a people whose greatest need at the moment is moral courage.

The second cause which determined the character of Irish Unionism was
the linking of the agrarian with the political question; the one being,
in effect, a practical, the other a sentimental issue. The same thing
happened in the Nationalist party; but on their side it was intentional
and led to an immense accession of strength, while on the Unionist side
it made for weakness. If the influence of Irish Unionists was to be even
maintained, it was of vital importance that the interest of a class
should not be allowed to dominate the policy of the party. But the
organisation which ought to have rallied every force that Ireland could
contribute to the cause of imperial unity came to be too closely
identified with the landlord class. That class is admittedly essential
to the construction of any real national life. But there is another
element equally essential, to which the political leaders of Irish
Unionism have not given the prominence which is its due. The Irish
Question has been so successfully narrowed down to two simple policies,
one positive but vague, the other negative but definite, that to suggest
that there are three distinct forces--three distinct interests--to be
taken into account seems like confusing the issue. It is a fact,
nevertheless, that a very important element on the Unionist side, the
industrial element, has been practically left out of the calculation by
both sides. Yet the only expression of real political thought which I
have observed in Ireland, since I have been in touch with Irish life,
has emanated from the Ulster Liberal-Unionist Association, whose weighty
pronouncements, published from time to time, are worthy of deep
consideration by all interested in the welfare of Ireland.

It will be remembered that when the Home Rule controversy was at its
height, the chief strength of the Irish opposition to Mr. Gladstone's
policy, and the consideration which most weighed with the British
electorate, lay in the business objection of the industrial population
of Ulster; though on the platform religious and political arguments were
more often heard. The intensely practical nature of the objection which
came from the commercial and industrial classes of the North who opposed
Home Rule was never properly recognised in Ireland. It was, and is still
unanswered. Briefly stated, the position taken up by their spokesmen was
as follows:--'We have come,' they said in effect, 'into Ireland, and not
the richest portion of the island, and have gradually built up an
industry and commerce with which we are able to hold our own in
competition with the most progressive nations in the world. Our success
has been achieved under a system and a polity in which we believe. Its
non-interference with the business of the people gave play to that
self-reliance with which we strove to emulate the industrial qualities
of the people of Great Britain. It is now proposed to place the
manufactures and commerce of the country at the mercy of a majority
which will have no real concern in the interests vitally affected, and
who have no knowledge of the science of government. The mere shadow of
these changes has so depressed the stocks which represent the
accumulations of our past enterprise and labour that we are already
commercially poorer than we were.'[11]

My sole criticism of those leaders of commerce and industry in Belfast,
who, whenever they turn their attention from their various
pre-occupations, import into Irish politics the valuable qualities which
they display in the conduct of their private affairs, is that they do
not go further and take the necessary steps to give practical effect to
their views outside the ranks of their immediate associates and
followers. Had the industrial section made its voice heard in the
councils of the Irish Unionist party, the Government which that party
supports might have had less advice and assistance in the maintenance of
law and order, but it would have had invaluable aid in its constructive
policy. For the lack of the wise guidance which our captains of industry
should have provided, Irish Unionism has, by too close adherence to the
traditions of the landlord section, been the creed of a social caste
rather than a policy in Ireland. The result has been injurious alike for
the landlords, the leaders of industry, and the people. The policy of
the Unionist party in Ireland has been to uphold the Union by force
rather than by a reconciliation of the people to it. It has held aloof
from the masses, who, bereft of the guidance of their natural leaders,
have clung the more closely to the chiefs of the Nationalist party; and
these in their turn have not, as I shall show presently, risen to their
responsibility, but have retarded rather than advanced the march of
democracy in Ireland. If there is to be any future for Unionism in
Ireland, there must be a combination of the best thought of the country
aristocracy and that of the captains of industry. Then, and not till
then, shall we Unionists as a party exercise a healthful and stimulating
influence on the thought and action of the people.

I cannot, therefore, escape from the conclusion that whilst the Irish
section of the party to which I belong is, in my opinion, right on the
main political question, its influence is now for the most part
negative. Hence I direct attention mainly to the Home Rule party, as the
more forceful element in Irish political life; and if it receives the
more criticism it is because it is more closely in touch with the
people, and because any reform in its principles or methods would more
generally and more rapidly prove beneficial to the country than would
any change in Unionist policy.

In examining the policy of the Nationalist party my chief concern will
be to arrive at a correct estimate of the effect which is produced upon
the thought and action of the Irish people by the methods employed for
the attainment of Home Rule. I propose to show that these methods have
been in the past, and must, so long as they are employed, continue to be
injurious to the political and industrial character of the people, and
consequently a barrier to progress. I know that most of the Nationalist
leaders justify the employment of these methods on the ground that, in
their opinion, the constitutional reforms they advocate are a condition
precedent to industrial progress. I believe, on the contrary, and I
shall give my reasons for believing, that their tactics have been not
only a hindrance to industrial progress, but destructive even to the
ulterior purpose they were intended to fulfil.

It is commonly believed--a belief very naturally fostered by their
leaders--that, if there is one thing the Irish do understand, it is
politics. Politics is a term obviously capable of wide interpretation,
and I fear that those who say that my countrymen are pre-eminently
politicians use the term in a sense more applicable to the conceptions
of Mr. Richard Croker than of Aristotle. In intellectual capacity for
discrimination upon political issues the average Irish elector is, I
believe, far superior to the average English elector. But there is as
yet something wanting in the character of our people which seems to
prohibit the exercise by them of any independent political thought and,
consequently, of any effective or permanent political influence.

The assumption that Irishmen are singularly good politicians seems to
stand seriously in the way of their becoming so; and yet it is a matter
of the greatest importance that they should become good politicians in a
real sense, for in no country would sound political thought exercise a
more beneficial influence upon the life of the people than in Ireland.
Indeed I would go further and give it as my strong conviction that,
properly developed and freed from the narrowing influences of the party
squabbles by which it has been warped and sterilised, the political
thought of the Irish people would contribute a factor of vital
importance to the life of the British empire. But at the moment I am
dealing only with the influence of politics on Irish social and economic
life.

I am aware that any political deficiencies which the Irish may display
at home, are commonly attributed to the political system which has been
imposed upon Ireland from without. If you want to see Irish genius in
its highest political manifestation, it must be studied, we are told, in
the United States, the widest and freest arena which has ever been
offered to the race. This view is not in accordance with the facts as I
have observed them. These facts are somewhat obscured by the natural,
but misleading habit of reckoning to the account of Ireland at large
achievements really due to the Scotch-Irish, who helped to colonise
Pennsylvania, and who undoubtedly played a dominant part in developing
the characteristic features of the American political system. The
Scotch-Irish, however, do not belong to the Ireland of the Irish
Question Descended, largely, as their names so often testify, from the
early Irish colonists of western Scotland, they came back as a distinct
race, dissociating themselves from the Irish Celts by refusing to adopt
their national traditions, or intermarry with them, and both here and in
America disclaiming the appellation of Irish.[12]

Leaving, then, out of consideration the political achievements of the
Scotch-Irish, it appears to me that the part played in politics by the
Irish in America does not testify to any high political genius. They
have shown there an extraordinary aptitude for political organisation,
which, if it had been guided by anything approaching to political
thought, would have placed them in a far higher position in American
public life than that which they now occupy. But the fact is that it
would be much easier to find evidence of high political capacity and
success in the history of the Irish in British colonies; and the reason
for this fact is not only very germane to the purpose of this book, but
has a strong practical interest for Americans as well. Irishmen when
they go to America find themselves united by a bond which does not and
could not exist in the Colonies--though it does exist in Ireland--the
bond of anti-English feeling, and by the hope of giving practical effect
to this feeling through the policy of their adopted country. Imbued with
this common sentiment, and influenced by their inherited clannishness,
the Irish in America readily lend themselves to the system of political
groups, a system which the 'boss' for his own ends seeks to perpetuate.
The result is a sort of political paradox--it has made the Irish in
America both stronger and weaker than they ought to be. They suffer
politically from the defects of their political qualities: they are
strong as a voting machine, but the secret of their collective strength
is also the secret of their individual weakness. This organisation into
groups is much commoner among the Irish than among other American
immigrants, for the anti-English feeling with which so many of the Irish
land in America is carefully kept alive by the 'boss,' whose sedulous
fostering of the instinctive clannishness and inherited leader-following
habits of the Irish saps their independence of thought and prevents them
from ceasing to be mere political agents and developing a citizenship
which would furnish its due quota of statesmen to the service of the
Republic. They lack in the United States just what they lack at home,
the capacity, or at any rate the inclination, to use their undoubted
abilities in a large and foreseeing manner, and so are becoming less and
less powerful as a force in American politics.

The fallacious views about the nature and sphere of politics, which the
Irish bring with them from Ireland, and which are perpetuated in
America, have the effect not only of debarring the Irish from real
political progress, but also, as at home, from gaining success in
industrial pursuits which their talents would otherwise win for them.
They succeed as journalists owing to their quick intelligence and
versatility, and as contractors mainly owing to their capacity for
organising gangs of workmen--a faculty which seems to be the only good
thing resulting from their political education. They are as brilliant
soldiers in the service of the United States as they are in that of
Britain--more it would be impossible to say--and they have produced
types of daring, endurance, and shrewdness like the 'Silver Kings' of
Nevada which testify to the exceptional powers always developed by the
Irish in exceptional circumstances. But in the humdrum business of
everyday life in the United States they suffer from defects which are
the outcome of their devotion to mistaken political ideals and of their
subordination of industry to politics, which are not always purely
American, but are often influenced by considerations of the country of
their birth. On the whole, a quarter of a century of not unsympathetic
observation of the Irish in the United States has convinced me that the
position they occupy there is not one which either they or the American
people can look on with entire satisfaction. The Irish immigrants are
felt to belong to a kind of _imperium in imperio_, and to carry into
American politics ideas which are not American, and which might easily
become an embarrassment if not a danger to America. Hence the powerful
interest which America shares with England, though of course in a less
degree, in understanding and helping to settle the complex difficulty
called the Irish Question. The Irish remember Ireland long after they
have left it. They are not in the same position as the German or English
immigrants who have no cause at home which they wish to forward. Every
echo in the States of political or social disturbance in Ireland rouses
the immigrant and he becomes an Irishman once more, and not a citizen of
the country of his adoption. His views and votes on international
questions, in so far as they affect these Islands, are thus often
dictated more by a passionate sympathy for and remembrance of the land
he no longer lives in, than by any right understanding of the interests
of the new country in which he and his children must live.

The only reason why I have examined the assumption that Irishmen display
marked political capacity in the United States is to make it clear that
the political deficiencies they manifest at home are to be attributed
mainly to defects of character, and to a conception of politics for
which modern English government is very slightly responsible. I admit
that English government in the past had no small share in producing the
results we deplore to-day, but the motives and manner of its action
have, it seems to me, been very imperfectly understood.

The fact is that the difficulties of English government in Ireland,
until a complete military conquest had been effected, were of a
peculiarly complex character. Before the English could impose upon
Ireland their own political organisation--and the idea that any other
system could work better among the Irish never entered the English
mind--it was obviously necessary that the very antithesis of that
organisation, the clan system, should be abolished. But there were
military and financial objections to carrying out this policy. Irish
campaigns were very costly, and England was in those days by no means
wealthy. English armies in Ireland, after a short period spent in
desultory warfare with light armed kernes in the fever-stricken Munster
forests, began to melt away. For many generations, therefore, England,
adopting a policy of _divide et impera_, set clan against clan. Later
on, statecraft may be said to have supervened upon military tactics. It
consisted of attempts made by alternate threats and bribes to induce the
chiefs to transform the clan organisation by the acceptance of English
institutions. But any systematic endeavours to complete the
transformation were soon rendered abortive by being coupled with huge
confiscations of land. The policy of converting the members of the clans
into freeholders was subordinated to the policy of planting British
colonists. After this there was no question of fusion of races or
institutions. Plantations on a large scale, self-supporting,
self-protecting, became the policy alike of the soldier and the
statesman.

The inevitable result of these methods was that it was not until a
comparatively late date that a political conception of an Irish nation
first began to emerge out of the congeries of clans. In the State Papers
of the sixteenth century the clans are frequently spoken of as
'nations.' Even as late as the eighteenth century a Gaelic poet, in a
typical lament, thus identifies his country with the fortunes of her
great families:--

    The O'Doherty is not holding sway, nor his noble race;
    The O'Moores are not strong, that once were brave--
    O'Flaherty is not in power, nor his kinsfolk;
    And sooth to say, the O'Briens have long since become English.

    Of O'Rourke there is no mention--my sharp wounding!
    Nor yet of O'Donnell in Erin;
    The Geraldines they are without vigour--without a nod,
    And the Burkes, the Barrys, the Walshes of the slender ships.[13]

The modern political idea of Irish nationality at length asserted itself
as the result of three main causes. The bond of a common grievance
against the English foe was created by the gradual abandonment of the
policy of setting clan against clan in favour of impartial confiscation
of land from friendly as well as from hostile chiefs. Secondly, when the
English had destroyed the natural leaders, the clan chiefs, and
attempted to proselytise their adherents, the political leadership
largely passed to the Roman Catholic Church, which very naturally
defended the religion common to the members of all the clans, by trying
to unite them against the English enemy. Nationality, in this sense, of
course applied only to Celtic Roman Catholic Ireland. The first real
idea of a United Ireland arose out of the third cause, the religious
grievances of the Protestant dissenters and the commercial grievances of
the Protestant manufacturers and artisans in the eighteenth century, who
suffered under a common disability with the Roman Catholics, and many of
whom came in the end to make common cause with them. But even long after
this conception had become firmly established, the local representative
institutions corresponding to those which formed the political training
of the English in law and administration either did not exist in Ireland
or were altogether in the hands of a small aristocracy, mostly of
non-Irish origin, and wholly non-Catholic. O'Connell's great work in
freeing Roman Catholic Ireland from the domination of the Protestant
oligarchy showed the people the power of combination, but his methods
can hardly be said to have fostered political thought. The efforts in
this direction of men like Gavan Duffy, Davis, and Lucas were
neutralised by the Famine, the after effects of which also did much to
thwart Butt's attempts to develop serious public opinion amongst a
people whose political education had been so long delayed. The prospect
of any early fruition of such efforts vanished with the revolutionary
agrarian propaganda, and independent thinking--so necessary in the
modern democratic state--never replaced the old leader-following habit
which continued until the climax was reached under Parnell.

The political backwardness of the Irish people revealed itself
characteristically when, in 1884, the English and Irish democracies were
simultaneously endowed with a greatly extended franchise. In theory this
concession should have developed political thought in the people and
should have enhanced their sense of political responsibility. In England
no doubt this theory was proved by the event to be based on fact; but in
Ireland it was otherwise. Parnell was at the zenith of his power. The
Irish had the man, what mattered the principles? The new suffrages
simply became the figures upon the cheques handed over to the Chief by
each constituency, with the request that he would fill in the name of
the payee. On one or two occasions a constituency did protest against
the payee, but all that was required to settle the matter was a personal
visit from the Chief. Generally speaking, the electorate were quite
docile, and instances were not wanting of men discovering that they had
found favour with electors to whom their faces and even their names were
previously unknown.

No doubt, the one-man system had a tactical value, of which the English
themselves were ever ready to make use. "If all Ireland cannot rule this
man, then let this man rule all Ireland," said Henry VII. of the Earl of
Kildare; and the echo of these words was heard when the Kilmainham
Treaty was negotiated with the last man who wore the mantle of the
chief. But whatever may be said for the one-man system as a means of
political organisation, it lacked every element of political education.
It left the people weaker, if possible, and less capable than it found
them; and assuredly it was no fit training for Home Rule. While
Parnell's genius was in the ascendant, all was well--outwardly. When a
tragic and painful disclosure brought about a crisis in his fate, it
will hardly be contended by the most devoted admirer of the Irish people
that the situation was met with even moderate ability and foresight. But
the logic of events began to take effect. The decade of dissension which
followed the fall of Parnell will, perhaps, some day be recognised as a
most fruitful epoch in modern Irish history. The reaction from the
one-man system set in as soon as the one man had passed away. The
independence which Parnell's former lieutenants began to assert when the
laurels faded upon the brow of the uncrowned King communicated itself to
some extent to the rank and file. The mere weighing of the merits of
several possible successors led to some wholesome questioning as to the
merits of the policies, such as they were, which they respectively
represented The critical spirit which was now called forth, did not, at
first, go very far; but it was at least constructive and marked a
distinct advance towards real political thought. I believe the day will
come, and come soon, when Nationalist leaders themselves will recognise
that while bemoaning faction and dissension and preaching the cause of
'unity' they often mistook the wheat for the tares. They will, I feel
sure, come to realise that the passing of the dictatorship, which to
outward appearances left the people as "sheep without a shepherd, when
the snow shuts out the sky," in fact turned the thoughts of Ireland in
some measure away from England into her own bosom, and gave birth there
to the idea of a national life to which the Irish people of all classes,
creeds, and politics could contribute of their best.

I sometimes wonder whether the leaders of the Nationalist party really
understand the full effect of their tactics upon the political character
of the Irish people, and whether their vision is not as much obscured by
a too near, as is the vision of the Unionist leaders by a too distant,
view of the people's life. Everyone who seeks to provide practical
opportunities for Irish intellect to express-itself worthily in active
life--and this, I take it, is part of what the Nationalist leaders wish
to achieve--meets with the same difficulty. The lack of initiative and
shrinking from responsibility, the moral timidity in glaring contrast
with the physical courage--which has its worst manifestation in the
intense dread of public opinion, especially when the unknown terrors of
editorial power lurk behind an unfavourable mention 'on the paper,'
are, no doubt, qualities inherited from a primitive social state in
which the individual was nothing and the community everything. These
defects were intensified in past generations by British statecraft,
which seemed unable to appreciate or use the higher instincts of the
race; they remain to-day a prominent factor in the great human problem
known as the Irish Question--a factor to which, in my belief, may be
attributed the greatest of its difficulties.

It is quite clear that education should have been the remedy for the
defects of character upon which I am forced to dwell so much; and I
cannot absolve any body of Irishmen, possessed of actual or potential
influence, of failure to recognise this truth. But here I am dealing
only with the political leaders, and trying to bring home to them the
responsibility which their power imposes upon them, not only for the
political development but also for the industrial progress of their
followers. They ought to have known that the weakness of character which
renders the task of political leadership in Ireland comparatively easy
is in reality the quicksand of Irish life, and that neither
self-government nor any other institution can be enduringly built upon
it.

The leaders of the Nationalist party are, of course, entitled to hold
that, in existing political conditions, any non-political movement
towards national advancement, which in its nature cannot be linked, as
the land question was linked, to the Home Rule movement constitutes an
unwarrantable sacrifice of ends to means. And so holding, they are
further entitled to subject any proposal to elevate popular thought, or
to direct popular activities, to a strict censorship as to its remote as
well as to its immediate effect upon the electorate. I know, too, that
it is held by some thinking Nationalists who take no active part in
politics that the politicians are justified on tactical grounds in this
exclusive pursuit of their political aims, and in the methods by which
they pursue them. They consider the present system of government too
radically wrong to mend, and they can undoubtedly point to agrarian
legislation as evidence of the effectiveness of the means they employ to
gain their end.

This view of things has sunk very deep into the Irish mind. The policy
of 'giving trouble' to the Government is looked upon as the one road to
reform and is believed in so fervently that, except for religion, which
sometimes conflicts with it, there is scarcely any capacity left for
belief in anything else. I am far from denying that the past offers much
justification for the belief that nothing can be gained by Ireland from
England except through violent agitation. Until recently, I admit,
Ireland's opportunity had to wait for England's difficulty. But, as
practised in the present day, I believe this doctrine to be mischievous
and false. For one thing, there is a new England to deal with. The
England which, certainly not in deference to violent agitation,
established the Congested Districts Board, gave Local Government to
Ireland, and accepted the recommendations of the Recess Committee for
far-reaching administrative changes, as well as those of the Land
Conference which involved great financial concessions, is not the
England of fifty years ago, still less the England of the eighteenth
century. Moreover, in riveting the mind of the country on what is to be
obtained from England, this doctrine of 'giving trouble,' the whole
gospel of the agitator, has blinded the Irish people to the many things
which Ireland can do for herself. Whatever may be said of what is called
'agitation' in Ireland as an engine for extorting legislation from the
Imperial Parliament, it is unquestionably bad for the much greater end
of building up Irish character and developing Irish industry and
commerce. 'Agitation,' as Thomas Davis said, 'is one means of redress,
but it leads to much disorganisation, great unhappiness, wounds upon the
soul of a country which sometimes are worse than the thinning of a
people by war.'[14] If Irish politicians had at all realised this truth,
it is difficult to believe that the popular movement of the last quarter
of a century would not have been conducted in a manner far less
injurious to the soul of Ireland and equally or more effective for
legislative reform as well as all other material interests.

Now, modern Nationalism in Ireland is open to damaging criticism not
only from my Unionist point of view, which was also, in many respects,
the view of so strong a Nationalist as Thomas Davis; it is also open to
grave objection from the point of view of the effectiveness of the
tactics employed for the attainment of its end--the winning of Home
Rule.

Before examining the effect of these tactics I may point out that this
conception of Nationalist policy, even if justifiable from a practical
point of view, does not relieve the leaders from the obligation of
giving some assurance that they are ready with a consistent scheme of
re-construction, and are prepared to build when the ground has been
cleared. In this connection I might make a good deal of Unionist
capital, and some points in support of my condemnation of the political
absorption of the Irish mind, out of the total failure of the
Nationalist party to solve certain all-important constitutional and
financial problems which months of Parliamentary debate in 1893 tended
rather to obscure than to elucidate. I am, however, willing for
argument's sake to postpone all such questions, vital as they are, to
the time when they can be practically dealt with. I am ready to assume
that the wit of man can devise a settlement of many points which seemed
insoluble in Mr. Gladstone's day. But even granting all this, I think it
can easily be shown that the means which the political thought
available on the Nationalist side has evolved for the attainment of
their end, and which _ex hypothesi_ are only to be justified on tactical
grounds, are the least likely to succeed; and that, consequently, they
should be abandoned in favour of a constructive policy which, to say the
least, would not be less effective towards advancing the Home Rule
cause, if that cause be sound, and which would at the same time help the
advancement of Ireland in other than political directions.

Tactics form but a part of generalship, and half the success of
generalship lies in making a correct estimate of the opposing forces.
This is as true of political as it is of military operations. Now, of
what do the forces opposed to Home Rule consist? The Unionists, it may
be admitted, are numerically but a small minority of the population of
Ireland--probably not more than one-fourth. But what do they represent?
First, there are the landed gentry. Let us again make a concession for
the sake of argument and accept the view that this class so wantonly
kept itself aloof from the life of the majority of the people that the
Nationalists could not be expected to count them among the elements of a
Home Rule Ireland. I note, in passing, with extreme gratification that
at the recent Land Conference it was declared by the tenants'
representatives that it was desirable, in the interests of Ireland, that
the present owners of land should not be expatriated, and that
inducements should be afforded to selling owners to continue to reside
in the country.

But I may ignore this as I wish here to recall attention to that other
element, which was, as I have already said, the real force which turned
the British democracy against Home Rule--I mean the commercial and
industrial community in Belfast and other hives of industry in the
north-east corner of the country, and in scattered localities elsewhere.
I have already admitted that the political importance of the industrial
element was not appreciated in Irish Unionist circles. No less
remarkable is the way in which it has been ignored by the Nationalists.
The question which the Nationalists had to answer in 1886 and 1893, and
which they have to answer to-day, is this:--In the Ireland of their
conception is the Unionist part of Ulster to be coerced or persuaded to
come under the new regime? To those who adopt the former alternative my
reply is simply that, if England is to do the coercion, the idea is
politically absurd. If we were left to fight it out among ourselves, it
is physically absurd. The task of the Empire in South Africa was light
compared with that which the Nationalists would have on hands. I am
aware that, at the time when we were all talking at concert pitch on the
Irish Question, a good deal was said about dying in the last ditch by
men who at the threat of any real trouble would be found more discreetly
perched upon the first fence. But those who know the temper and fighting
qualities of the working-men opponents of Home Rule in the North are
under no illusion as to the account they would give of themselves if
called upon to defend the cause of Protestantism, liberty, and imperial
unity as they understand it. Let us, however, dismiss this alternative
and give Nationalists credit for the desire to persuade the industrial
North to come in by showing it that it will be to its advantage to join
cordially in the building up of a united Ireland under a separate
legislature.

The difficulties in the way of producing this conviction are very
obvious. The North has prospered under the Act of Union--why should it
be ready to enter upon a new 'variety of untried being'? What that state
of being will be like, it naturally gauges from the forces which are
working for Home Rule at present. Looking at these simply from the
industrial standpoint and leaving out of account all the powerful
elements of religious and race prejudice, the man of the North sees two
salient facts which have dominated all the political activity of the
Nationalist campaign. One is a voluble and aggressive disloyalty, not
merely to 'England' and to the present system of government, but to the
Crown which represents the unity of the three kingdoms, and the other is
the introduction of politics into business in the very virulent and
destructive form known as boycotting.

Now, hostility to the Crown, if it means anything, means a struggle for
separation as soon as Home Rule has given to the Irish people the power
to organise and arm. And (still keeping to the sternly practical point
of view) that would, for the time being at least, spell absolute ruin to
the industrial North. The practice of boycotting, again, is the very
antithesis of industry--it creates an atmosphere in which industry and
enterprise simply cannot live. The North has seen this practice condoned
as a desperate remedy for a desperate ill, but it has seen it continued
long after the ill had passed away, used as a weapon by one Nationalist
section against another, and revived when anything like a really
oppressive or arbitrary eviction had become impossible. There seems to
have been in Nationalist circles, since the time of O'Connell, but
little appreciation of the deadly character of this social curse; and
the prospect of a Government which would tolerate it naturally fills the
mind of the Northern commercial man with alarm and aversion.

Again, the democratisation of local government which gave the
Nationalist leaders a unique opportunity of showing the value, has but
served to demonstrate the ineffectiveness, of their political tactics.
North of Ireland opinion was deeply interested in this reform, and
appreciated its far-reaching importance. Elsewhere, I think it will be
safe to say, people generally were indifferent to it until it came, and
the leaders seemed to see in it only a weapon to be used for political
purposes. To the great vista of useful and patriotic work opened out by
the Act of 1898, to the impression that a proper use of that Act might
make on Northern opinion, they were blind. It is true that the Councils
when left to themselves did admirably, and fully justified the trust
reposed in them. But at the inauguration of local government it was
naturally not the work of the Councils but the attitude of the party
leaders which appeared to stamp the reception of the Act by the Irish
people.

It is true, of course, that many thoughtful men among the Nationalist
party repudiate the idea that the methods of to-day would be continued
in a self-governed Ireland. I fail to see any reason why they should
not. Under any system of limited Home Rule questions would arise which
would afford much the same sort of justification for the employment of
such methods, and they could hardly be worse for the welfare of the
country then than they are now. There is abundant need and abundant work
in the present day for thoughtful and far-seeing men in a party
constitutionally so strong as that of the Irish Nationalists. If those
among them who possess, or at any rate can make effective use of
qualities of constructive statesmanship are as few as the history of
recent years would lead us to suppose, what assurance can Ulster
Unionists feel that such men would spring up spontaneously in an Ireland
under Home Rule? I admit, indeed, that a considerable measure of such
assurance might be derived from the attitude of the leaders of the party
at and since the Land Conference. But this adoption of statesmanlike
methods which cannot be too widely understood or too warmly commended is
a matter of very recent history; and though we may hope that the success
attending it will help materially in the political education of the
Irish people, that will not, by itself, undo the effect of a quarter of
a century of political agitation governed by ideas the very reverse of
those which are now happily beginning to find favour.

I have thought it necessary to examine at some length the defence on the
ground of tactics which is often made for Nationalist politics, because
it is the only defence ever made by those apologists who admit the
disturbing influence upon our economic and social life of Nationalist
methods. A broader and saner view of political tactics than prevailed
ten years ago is now possible, for circumstances are becoming friendly
and helpful to the development of political thought. Though the United
Irish League apparently restored 'unity' to the ranks of the
Nationalists, the country is, I believe, getting restless under the
political bondage, and is seething with a wholesome discontent. In this
very matter of political education, the stir of corporate life, the
sense of corporate responsibility which in every parish of Ireland are
now being fostered by the reformed system of local government, must make
their influence felt in wider spheres. Even now I believe that the field
is ready for the work of those who would bid the old leader-following
habit, the product partly of the dead clan system, partly of dying
national animosities, depart as a thing that has had its day, and who
would endeavour to train up a race of free, self-reliant, and
independent citizens in a free state.

In this work the very men whose mistaken conception of a united Ireland
I have criticised will, I doubt not, take a leading part. In many
respects, and these not the least important, no one could desire a
better instrument for the achievement of great reforms than the Irish
party. They are far beyond any similar group of English members in
rhetorical skill and quickness of intelligence and decision, qualities
which no doubt belong to the mechanism rather than the soul of politics,
but which the practical worker in public life will not despise. But even
when tried by a higher standard the Irish members need not fear the
judgment of history. They have often, in my opinion, misconceived the
true interests of their country, but they have been faithful to those
interests as they understood them, and have proved themselves notably
superior to sordid personal aims. These gifts and virtues are not
common, but still rarer is it to see such gifts and virtues cursed with
the doom of futility. The influence of the Irish political leaders has
neither advanced the nation's march through the wilderness nor taught
the people how they are to dispense with manna from above when they
reach the Promised Land. With all their brilliancy, they have thrown but
little helpful light on any Irish problem. In this want of political and
economic foresight Irish Nationalist politicians, with some exceptions
whom it would be invidious to name, have fallen lamentably short of what
might be expected of Irish intellect. For the eight years during which I
represented an Irish constituency I always felt that an Irish night in
the House of Commons was one of the strangest and most pathetic of
spectacles. There were the veterans of the Irish party hardened by a
hundred fights, ranging from Venezuela to the Soudan in search of
battlefields, making allies of every kind of foreign potentate, from
President Cleveland to the Mahdi, from Mr. Kruger to the Akhoom of Swat,
but looking with suspicion on every symptom of an independent national
movement in Ireland; masters of the language of hate and scorn, yet
mocked by inevitable and eternal failure; winners of victories that turn
to dust and ashes; devoted to their country, yet, from ignorance of the
real source of its malady, ever widening the gaping wound through which
its life-blood flows. While I recall these scenes, there rises before my
mind the picture vividly drawn by Miss Lawless of their prototypes, the
'Wild Geese,' who carried their swords into foreign service after the
final defeat of the Stuarts:--

    War-battered dogs are we,
    Fighters in every clime,
    Fillers of trench and of grave,
    Mockers, bemocked by Time;
    War-dogs, hungry and grey,
    Gnawing a naked bone,
    Fighting in every clime
    Every cause but our own.[15]

Irishmen have been long in realising that the days of the 'Wild Geese'
are over, and that there are battles for Ireland to be fought and won in
Ireland--battles in which England is not the enemy she was in the days
of Fontenoy, but a friend and helper. But there will be little gain in
replacing the traditional conception of England as the inexorable foe by
the more modern conception, which threatened to become traditional in
its turn, of England as the source of all prosperity and her favour as
the condition of all progress in Ireland. In the recent Land Conference
I recognise something more valuable even than the financial and
legislative results which flowed from it, for it showed that the
conception of reliance upon Irishmen in Ireland, not under some future
and problematical conditions, but here and now, for the solution of
Irish questions, is gaining ground among us. If this conception once
takes firm hold, as I think it is beginning to do, of the Nationalist
party in Ireland, much of the criticism of this chapter will lose its
meaning. The mere substitution of a positive Irish policy for a negative
anti-English policy will elevate the whole range of Nationalist
political activity in and out of Ireland. And I am certain that if the
ultimate goal of Nationalist politics be desirable, and continue to be
desired, it will not be rendered more difficult, but on the contrary
very much easier of attainment if those who seek it take possession of
the great field of work which, without waiting for any concessions from
Westminster, is offered by the Ireland of to-day.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] This view of the case was powerfully stated by the deputation from
the Belfast Chamber of Commerce which waited on Mr. Gladstone in the
spring of 1893. They pointed out _inter alia_ that the members of the
deputation were poorer by thousands of pounds owing to the fall in Irish
stocks consequent upon the introduction of the Home Rule Bill in that
year.

[12] The term 'Scotch-Irish' does not mean an amalgam of Scotch and
Irish, but a race of Scottish immigrants who settled in north-east
Ireland. I may point out that in these criticisms of Irish-American
politics I refer, of course, mainly to the Irish-born immigrants and not
to the Irish, Scotch-Irish or other, who are American-born. Nobody can
have a higher appreciation than I of the great part played by the
American-Irish once they have assimilated the full spirit of American
institutions.

[13] _Poems of Egan O'Rahilly._ Edited, with translation, by the Rev.
P.S. Dinneen, M.A., for the Irish Texts Society, p. 11. O'Rahilly's
charge against Cromwell is that he "gave plenty to the man with the
flail," but beggared the great lords, p. 167.

[14] _Prose Writings of Thomas Davis_, p. 284. 'The writers of _The
Nation_,' wrote Davis in another place, 'have never concealed the
defects or flattered the good qualities of their countrymen. They have
told them in good faith that they wanted many an attribute of a free
people, _and that the true way to command happiness and liberty was by
learning the arts and practising the culture that fitted men for their
enjoyment'_ (p. 176). The thing that especially distinguished Davis
among Nationalist politicians was the essentially constructive mind
which he brought to bear on Irish questions, as illustrated in the
passage I have italicised. It is, I am afraid, the part of his legacy of
thought which has been least regarded by his admirers.

[15] _With the Wild Geese_. Poems by the Hon. Emily Lawless. I have
never read a better portrayal of the historic Irish sentiment than is
set forth in this little volume. By the way, there is a preface by Mr.
Stopford Brooke, which is singularly interesting and informing.



CHAPTER IV.

THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION UPON SECULAR LIFE IN IRELAND.


In the preceding chapter I attempted to estimate the influence of our
political leaders as a potential and as an actual force. I come now to
the second great influence upon the thought and action of the Irish
people, the influence of religion, especially the power exercised by the
priests and by the unrivalled organisation of the Roman Catholic Church.
I do not share the pessimism which sees in this potent influence nothing
but the shackles of mediævalism restraining its adherents from falling
into line with the progress of the age. I shall, indeed, have to admit
much of what is charged against the clerical leaders of popular thought
in Ireland, but I shall be able to show, I hope, that these leaders are
largely the product of a situation which they themselves did not create,
and that not only are they as susceptible as are the political leaders
to the influences of progressive movements, but that they can be more
readily induced to take part in their promotion. In no other country in
the world, probably, is religion so dominant an element in the daily
life of the people as in Ireland, and certainly nowhere else has the
minister of religion so wide and undisputed an authority. It is obvious,
therefore, that, however foreign such a theme may _prima facie_ appear
to the scope and aim of the present volume, I have no choice but to
analyse frankly and as fully as my personal experience justifies, what I
conceive to be the true nature, the salutary limits, and the actual
scope of clerical influence in this country.

But before I can discuss what I may call the religious situation, there
is one fundamental question--a question which will appear somewhat
strange to anyone not in touch with Irish life--which I must, with a
view to a general agreement on essentials, submit to some of my
co-religionists. In all seriousness I would ask, whether in their
opinion the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is to be tolerated. If the
answer be in the negative, I can only reply that any efforts to stamp
out the Roman Catholic faith would fail as they did in the past; and the
practical minds among those I am now addressing must admit that in
toleration alone is to be found the solution of that part of the Irish
difficulty which is due to sectarian animosities.

This brings us face to face with the question, What is religious
toleration--I do not mean as a pious sentiment which we are all
conscious of ourselves possessing in a truer sense than that in which it
is possessed by others, but rather toleration as an essential of the
liberty which we Protestants enjoy under the British Constitution, and
boast that all other creeds equally enjoy? Perhaps I had better state
simply how I answer this question in my own mind. Toleration by the
Irish minority, in regard to the religious faith and ecclesiastical
system of the Irish majority, implies that we admit the right of Rome to
say what Roman Catholics shall believe and what outward forms they shall
observe, and that they shall not suffer before the State for these
beliefs and observances. I do not think exception can be taken to the
statement that toleration in this narrow sense cannot be refused
consistently with the fundamental principles of British government.

Now, however, comes a less obvious, but, as I think, no less essential
condition of toleration in the sense above indicated. The Roman Catholic
Hierarchy claim the right to exercise such supervision and control over
the education of their flock as will enable them to safe-guard faith and
morals as preached and practised by their Church. I concede this second
claim as a necessary corollary of the first. Having lived most of my
life among Roman Catholics--two branches of my own family belonging to
that religion--I am aware that this control is an essential part of the
whole fabric of Roman Catholicism. Whether the basis of authority upon
which that system is founded be in its origin divine or human is beside
the point. If we profess to tolerate the faith and religious system of
the majority of our countrymen we must at least concede the conditions
essential to the maintenance of both the one and the other, unless our
tolerance is to be a sham.

So far all liberal-minded Protestants, who know what Roman Catholicism
is, will be with me; and for the main purposes of the argument contained
in this chapter it is not necessary to interpret toleration in any wider
sense than that which I have indicated. Many Protestants, among whom I
am one, do, it is true, make a further concession to the claim of our
Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. We would give them in Ireland
facilities for higher education which we would not give them in England,
and we would advocate liberal endowment by the State to this end. But
this attitude is, I admit, based upon something more than tolerance, and
those who would withhold this concession need not be accused of bigotry
or intolerance for so doing. They may be, and often are, actuated by the
most liberal motives, by a perfectly legitimate conception of
educational principles, or by other considerations which are neither of
a narrow nor sectarian character.

I need hardly say that in criticising religious systems and their
ministers I have not the faintest intention of entering on the
discussion of doctrinal issues. I am, of course, here concerned with
only those aspects of the religious situation which bear directly on
secular life. I am endeavouring, it must be remembered, to arrive at a
comprehensive and accurate appreciation of the chief influences which
mould the character, guide the thought, and, therefore, direct the
action of the Irish people as citizens of this world and of their own
country. From this standpoint let us try to make a dispassionate survey
of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in Ireland, and see wherein
their votaries fulfil, or fail to fulfil, their mission in advancing our
common civilisation. Let us examine, in a word, not merely the direct
influence which the creed of each of the two sections of Irishmen
produces on the industrial character of its adherents, but also its
indirect effects upon the mutual relations and regard for each other of
Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Protestantism has its stronghold in the great industrial centres of the
North and among the Presbyterian farmers of five or six Ulster counties.
These communities, it is significant to note, have developed the
essentially strenuous qualities which, no doubt, they brought from
England and Scotland. In city life their thrift, industry, and
enterprise, unsurpassed in the United Kingdom, have built up a
world-wide commerce. In rural life they have drawn the largest yield
from relatively infertile soil. Such, in brief, is the achievement of
Ulster Protestantism in the realm of industry. It is a story of which,
when a united Ireland becomes more than a dream, all Irishmen will be
proud.

But there is, unhappily, another side to the picture. This industrial
life, otherwise so worthily cultivated, is disturbed by manifestations
of religious bigotry which sadly tarnish the glory of the really heroic
deeds they are intended to commemorate. It is impossible for any close
observer of these deplorable exhibitions to avoid the conclusion that
the embers of the old fires are too often fanned by men who are
actuated by motives, which, when not other than religious, are certainly
based upon an unworthy conception of religion. I am quite aware that it
is only a small and decreasing minority of my co-religionists who are
open to the charge of intolerance, and that the geographical limits of
the July orgy are now strictly circumscribed. But this bigotry is so
notorious, as for instance in the exclusion of Roman Catholics from many
responsible positions, that it unquestionably reacts most unfavourably
upon the general relations between the two creeds throughout the whole
of Ireland. The existence of such a spirit of suspicion and hatred, from
whatever motive it emanates, is bound to retard our progress as a people
towards the development of a healthy and balanced national life.

Many causes have recently contributed to the unhappy continuance of
sectarian animosities in Ireland. The Ritualistic movement and the
struggle over the Education Bill in England, the renewed controversy on
the University Question in Ireland, instances of bigotry towards
Protestants displayed by County, District, and Urban Councils in the
three southern provinces of Ireland, the formation of the Catholic
Association, the question of the form of the King's oath, and, more
remotely, the protest against clericalism in such Roman Catholic
countries as France and Austria, have one and all helped to keep alive
the flame of anti-Roman feeling among Irish Protestants.[16]

There are, happily, other influences now at work in a contrary
direction. Among the industrial leaders a better spirit prevails. A
well-known Ulster manufacturer told me recently that only a few years
ago, when an applicant for employment appeared at certain Northern
factories, which my friend named, the first question always put was,
'Are you a Protestant or Roman Catholic?' Now, he said, it is not what a
man believes, but what he can do, which is considered when engaging
workers. And outside the cities there are most gratifying signs of
better relations between the two creeds. We are on the eve of the
creation of a peasant proprietary, involving the rehabilitation of rural
life, and one essential condition of the successful inauguration of the
new agrarian order is the elimination of anything approaching to
sectarian bitterness in communities which will require every advantage
derivable from joint deliberation and common effort to enable them to
hold their own against foreign competition. I recall a trivial but
significant incident in the course of my Irish work which left a deep
impression on my mind. After attending a meeting of farmers in a very
backward district in the extreme west of Mayo, I arrived one winter's
evening at the Roman Catholic priest's house. Before the meeting I had
been promised a cup of tea, which, after a long, cold drive, was more
than acceptable. When I presented myself at the priest's house, what was
my astonishment at finding the Protestant clergyman presiding over a
steaming urn and a plate of home-made cakes, having been requested to do
the honours by his fellow-minister, who had been called away to a sick
bed. A cycle of homilies on the virtue of tolerance could add nothing to
the simple lesson which these two clergymen gave to the adherents of
both their creeds. I felt as I went on my way that night that I had had
a glimpse into the kind of future for Ireland towards which my
fellow-workers are striving.

It is, however, with the religion of the majority of the Irish people
and with its influence upon the industrial character of its adherents
that I am chiefly concerned. Roman Catholicism strikes an outsider as
being in some of its tendencies non-economic, if not actually
anti-economic. These tendencies have, of course, much fuller play when
they act on a people whose education has (through no fault of their own)
been retarded or stunted. The fact is not in dispute, but the difficulty
arises when we come to apportion the blame between ignorance on the part
of the people and a somewhat one-sided religious zeal on the part of
large numbers of their clergy. I do not seek to do so with any precision
here. I am simply adverting to what has appeared to me, in the course of
my experience in Ireland, to be a defect in the industrial character of
Roman Catholics which, however caused, seems to me to have been
intensified by their religion. The reliance of that religion on
authority, its repression of individuality, and its complete shifting of
what I may call the moral centre of gravity to a future existence--to
mention no other characteristics--appear to me calculated, unless
supplemented by other influences, to check the growth of the qualities
of initiative and self-reliance, especially amongst a people whose lack
of education unfits them for resisting the influence of what may present
itself to such minds as a kind of fatalism with resignation as its
paramount virtue.

It is true that one cannot expect of any church or religion, as a
condition of its acceptance, that it will furnish an economic theory;
and it is also true that Roman Catholicism has, at different periods of
history, advantageously affected economic conditions, even if it did not
act from distinctively economic motives--for example, by its direct
influence in the suppression of slavery[17] and its creation of the
mediæval craft guilds. It may, too, be admitted that during the Middle
Ages, when Roman Catholicism was freer than now to manifest its
influence in many directions, owing to its practically unchallenged
supremacy, it favoured, when it did not originate, many forms of sound
economic activity, and was, to say the least, abreast of the time in its
conception of the working of economic causes. But from the time when
the Reformation, by its demand for what we Protestants conceive to be a
simpler Christianity, drove Roman Catholicism back, if I may use the
expression, on its first line of defence, and constrained it to look to
its distinctively spiritual heritage, down to the present day, it has
seemed to stand strangely aloof from any contact with industrial and
economic issues. When we consider that in this period Adam Smith lived
and died, the industrial revolution was effected, and the world-market
opened, it is not surprising that we do not find Roman Catholic
countries in the van of economic progress, or even the Roman Catholic
element in Protestant countries, as a rule, abreast of their
fellow-countrymen. It would, however, be an error to ignore some notable
exceptions to this generalisation. In Belgium, in France, in parts of
Germany and Austria, and in the north of Italy economic thought is
making headway amongst Roman Catholics, and the solution of social
problems is being advanced by Roman Catholic laymen and clergymen. Even
in these countries, however, much remains to be done. The revolution in
the industrial order, and its consequences, such as the concentration of
immense populations within restricted areas, have brought with them
social and moral evils that must be met with new weapons. In the
interests of religion itself, principles first expounded to a Syrian
community with the most elementary physical needs and the simplest of
avocations, have to be taught in their application to the conditions of
the most complex social organisation and economic life. Taking people
as we find them, it may be said with truth that their lives must be
wholesome before they can be holy, and while a voluntary asceticism may
have its justification, it behoves a Church to see that its members,
while fully acknowledging the claims of another life, should develop the
qualities which make for well-being in this life. In fact, I believe
that the influence of Christianity upon social progress will be best
maintained by co-ordinating these spiritual and economic ideals in a
philosophy of life broader and truer than any to which the nations have
yet attained.

What I have just been saying with regard to Roman Catholicism generally,
in relation to economic doctrines and industrial progress, applies, of
course, with a hundred fold pertinence to the case of Ireland. Between
the enactment of the first Penal Laws and the date of Roman Catholic
Emancipation, Irish Roman Catholics were, to put it mildly, afforded
scant opportunity, in their own country, of developing economic virtues
or achieving industrial success. Ruthlessly deprived of education, are
they to be blamed if they did not use the newly acquired facilities to
the best advantage? With their religion looked on as the badge of legal
and social inferiority, was it any wonder that priests and people alike,
while clinging with unexampled fidelity to their creed, remained
altogether cut off from the current of material prosperity? Excluded, as
they were, not merely from social and political privileges, but from the
most ordinary civil rights, denied altogether the right of ownership of
real property, and restricted in the possession of personalty, is it
any wonder that they are not to-day in the van of industrial and
commercial progress? Nay, more, was it to have been expected that the
character of a people so persecuted and ostracised should have come out
of the ordeal of centuries with its adaptability and elasticity
unimpaired? That would have been impossible. Those who are intimate with
the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, and at the same time familiar with
their history, will recognise in their character and mental outlook many
an inheritance of that epoch of serfdom. I speak, of course, of the
mass, for I am not unmindful of many exceptions to this generalisation.

But I must now pass on to a more definite consideration of the present
action and attitude of the Irish Roman Catholic clergy towards the
economic, educational, and other issues discussed in this book. The
reasons which render such a consideration necessary are obvious. Even if
we include Ulster, three quarters of the Irish people are Roman
Catholics, while, excluding the Northern province, quite nine-tenths of
the population belong to that religion. Again, the three thousand
clergymen of that denomination exercise an influence over their flocks
not merely in regard to religious matters, but in almost every phase of
their lives and conduct, which is, in its extent and character, quite
unique, even, I should say, amongst Roman Catholic communities. To a
Protestant, this authority seems to be carried very far beyond what the
legitimate influence of any clergy over the lay members of their
congregation should be. We are, however, dealing with a national life
explicable only by reference to a very exceptional and gloomy history of
religious persecution. What I may call the secular shortcomings of the
Roman Catholics in Ireland cannot be fairly judged except as the results
of a series of enactments by which they were successively denied almost
all means of succeeding as citizens of this world.

From such study as I have been able to give to the history of their
Church, I have come to the conclusion that the immense power of the
Irish Roman Catholic clergy has been singularly little abused. I think
it must be admitted that they have not exhibited in any marked degree
bigotry towards Protestants. They have not put obstacles in the way of
the Roman Catholic majority choosing Protestants for political leaders,
and it is significant that refugees, such as the Palatines, from
Catholic persecutions in Europe, found at different times a home amongst
the Roman Catholic people of Ireland. My own experience, too, if I may
again refer to that, distinctly proves that it is no disadvantage to a
man to be a Protestant in Irish political life, and that where
opposition is shown to him by Roman Catholics it is almost invariably on
political, social, or agrarian, but not on religious grounds.

A charge of another kind has of late been often brought against the
Roman Catholic clergy, which has a direct bearing upon the economic
aspect of this question. Although, as I read Irish history, the Roman
Catholic priesthood have, in the main, used their authority with
personal disinterestedness, if not always with prudence or discretion,
their undoubted zeal for religion has, on occasion, assumed forms which
enlightened Roman Catholics, including high dignitaries of that Church,
think unjustifiable on economic grounds, and discourage even from a
religious standpoint. Excessive and extravagant church-building in the
heart and at the expense of poor communities is a recent and notorious
example of this misdirected zeal. It has been, I believe, too often
forgotten that the best monument of any clergyman's influence and
earnestness must always be found in the moral character and the
spiritual fibre of his flock, and not in the marbles and mosaics of a
gaudy edifice. And without doubt a good many motives which have but a
remote connection with religion are, unfortunately, at work in the
church-building movement. It may, however, to some extent, be regarded
as an extreme re-action from the penal times, when the hunted _soggarth_
had to celebrate the Mass in cabins and caves on the mountain side--a
re-action the converse of which was witnessed in Protestant England when
Puritanism rose up against Anglicanism in the seventeenth century. This
expenditure, however, has been incurred; and, no one, I take it, would
advocate the demolition of existing religious edifices on the ground
that their erection had been unduly costly! The moral is for the present
and the future, and applies not merely to economy in new buildings, but
also in the decoration of existing churches.[18]

But it is not alone extravagant church building which in a country so
backward as Ireland, shocks the economic sense. The multiplication--in
inverse ratio to a declining population--of costly and elaborate
monastic and conventual institutions, involving what in the aggregate
must be an enormous annual expenditure for maintenance, is difficult to
reconcile with the known conditions of the country. Most of these
institutions, it is true, carry on educational work, often, as in the
case of the Christian Brothers and some colleges and convents, of an
excellent kind. Many of them render great services to the poor, and
especially to the sick poor. But, none the less, it seems to me, their
growth in number and size is anomalous. I cannot believe that so large
an addition to the 'unproductive' classes is economically sound, and I
have no doubt at all that the competition with lay teachers of celibates
'living in community' is excessive and educationally injurious. Strongly
as I hold the importance of religion in education, I personally do not
think that teachers who have renounced the world and withdrawn from
contact with its stress and strain are the best moulders of the
characters of youths who will have to come into direct conflict with the
trials and temptations of life. But here again we must accept the
situation and work with the instruments ready to hand. The practical and
statesmanlike action for all those concerned is to endeavour to render
these institutions as efficient educational agencies as may be possible.
They owe their existence largely to the gaps in the educational system
of this country which religious and political strife have produced and
maintained, and they deserve the utmost credit for endeavouring to
supply missing steps in our educational ladder.[19] If they now fully
respond to the spirit of the new movements and meet the demand for
technical education by the employment of the most approved methods and
equipment, and by the thorough training on sound lines of their staffs,
it is impossible that their influence on the young generation should not
be as salutary as it will be wide-reaching.

But, after all, these criticisms are, for the purposes of my argument,
of minor relevance and importance. The real matter in which the direct
and personal responsibility of the Roman Catholic clergy seems to me to
be involved, is the character and _morale_ of the people of this
country. No reader of this book will accuse me of attaching too little
weight to the influence of historical causes on the present state,
social, economic and political, of Ireland, but even when I have given
full consideration to all such influences I still think that, with their
unquestioned authority in religion, and their almost equally undisputed
influence in education, the Roman Catholic clergy cannot be exonerated
from some responsibility in regard to Irish character as we find it
to-day. Are they, I would ask, satisfied with that character? I cannot
think so. The impartial observer will, I fear, find amongst a majority
of our people a striking absence of self-reliance and moral courage; an
entire lack of serious thought on public questions; a listlessness and
apathy in regard to economic improvement which amount to a form of
fatalism; and, in backward districts, a survival of superstition, which
saps all strength of will and purpose--and all this, too, amongst a
people singularly gifted by nature with good qualities of mind and
heart.

Nor can the Roman Catholic clergy altogether console themselves with the
thought that religious faith, even when free from superstition, is
strong in the breasts of the people. So long, no doubt, as Irish Roman
Catholics remain at home, in a country of sharply defined religious
classes, and with a social environment and a public opinion so
preponderatingly stamped with their creed, open defections from Roman
Catholicism are rare. But we have only to look at the extent of the
'leakage' from Roman Catholicism amongst the Irish emigrants in the
United States and in Great Britain, to realise how largely emotional and
formal must be the religion of those who lapse so quickly in a
non-Catholic atmosphere.[20]

It is not, of course, to the causes of the defections from a creed to
which I do not subscribe that my criticism is directed. I refer to the
matter only in order to emphasise the large share of responsibility
which belongs to the Roman Catholic clergy for what I strongly believe
to be the chief part in the work of national regeneration, the part
compared with which all legislative, administrative, educational or
industrial achievements are of minor importance. Holding, as I do, that
the building of character is the condition precedent to material, social
and intellectual advancement, indeed to all national progress, I may,
perhaps, as a lay citizen, more properly criticise, from this point of
view, what I conceive to be the great defect in the methods of clerical
influence. For this purpose no better illustration could be afforded
than a brief analysis of the results of the efforts made by the Roman
Catholic clergy to inculcate temperance.

Among temperance advocates--the most earnest of all reformers--the Roman
Catholic clergy have an honourable record. An Irish priest was the
greatest, and, for a brief spell, the most successful temperance apostle
of the last century, and statistics, it is only fair to say, show that
we Irish drink rather less than people in other parts of the United
Kingdom. But the real question is whether we more often drink to
intoxication, and police statistics as well as common experience seem to
disclose that we do. Many a temperate man drinks more in his life than
many a village drunkard. Again, the test of the average consumption of
man, woman and child is somewhat misleading, especially in Ireland
where, owing to the excessive emigration of adults, there is a
disproportionately large number of very young and old. Moreover, we
Irish drink more in proportion to our means than the English, Scotch,
and Welsh, whose consumption is absolutely larger. Anyone who attempts
to deal practically with the problems of industrial development in
Ireland realises what a terribly depressing influence the drink evil
exercises upon the industrial capacity of the people. 'Ireland sober is
Ireland free,' is nearer the truth, than much that is thought and most
of what is said about liberty in this country.

Now, the drink habit in Ireland differs from that of the other parts of
the United Kingdom. The Irishman is, in my belief, physiologically less
subject to the craving for alcohol than the Englishman, a fact which is
partially attributable, I should say, to the less animal dietary to
which he is accustomed. By far the greater proportion of the drinking
which retards our progress is of a festive character. It takes place at
fairs and markets, sometimes, even yet, at 'wakes,' those ghastly
parodies on the blessed consolation of religion in bereavement. It is
intensified by the almost universal sale of liquor in the country shops
'for consumption on the premises,' an evil the demoralising effects of
which are an hundredfold greater than those of the 'grocer's licences'
which temperance reformers so strenuously denounce. It is an evil in
defence of which nothing can be said, but it has somehow escaped the
effective censure of the Church.

The indiscriminate granting of licences in Ireland, which has resulted
in the provision of liquor shops in a proportion to the population
larger than is found in any other country, is in itself due mainly to
the moral cowardice of magistrates, who do not care to incur local
unpopularity by refusing licences for which there is no pretence of any
need beyond that of the applicant and his relatives. Not long ago the
magistrates of Ireland met in Dublin in order to inaugurate common
action in dealing with this scandal. Appropriate resolutions were
passed, and much good has already resulted from the meeting, but had the
unvarnished truth been admissible, the first and indeed the only
necessary resolution should have run, "Resolved that in future we be
collectively as brave as we have been individually timid, and that we
take heart of grace and carry away from this meeting sufficient strength
to do, in the exercise of our functions as the licensing authority, what
we have always known to be our plain duty to our country and our God."
No such resolution was proposed, for though patriotism is becoming real
in Ireland, it is not yet very robust.

I do not think it unfair to insist upon the large responsibility of the
clergy for the state of public opinion in this matter, to which the few
facts I have cited bear testimony. But I attribute their failure to deal
with a moral evil of which they are fully cognisant to the fact that
they do not recognise the chief defect in the character of the people,
and to a misunderstanding of the means by which that character can be
strengthened. There are, however, exceptions to this general statement.
It is of happy augury for the future of Ireland that many of the clergy
are now leading a temperance movement which shows a real knowledge of
the _causa causans_ of Irish intemperance. The Anti-Treating League, as
it is called, administers a novel pledge which must have been conceived
in a very understanding mind. Those enlisted undertake neither to treat
nor to be treated. They may drink, so far as the pledge is concerned, as
much as they like; but they must drink at their own expense; and others
must not drink at their expense. The good nature and sociability of
Irishmen, too often the mere result of inability to say 'no,' need not
be sacrificed. But even if they were, the loss of these social graces
would be far more than compensated by a self-respect and seriousness of
life out of which something permanent might be built. Still, even this
League makes no direct appeal to character, and so acts rather as a cure
for than as a preventive of our moral weakness.

The methods by which clerical influence is wielded in the inculcation of
chastity may be criticised from exactly the same standpoint as that from
which I have found it necessary to deal with the question of temperance.
Here the success of the Irish priesthood is, considering the conditions
of peasant life, and the fire of the Celtic temperament, absolutely
unique. No one can deny that almost the entire credit of this moral
achievement belongs to the Roman Catholic clergy. It may be said that
the practice of a virtue, even if the motive be of an emotional kind,
becomes a habit, and that habit proverbially develops into a second
nature. With this view of moral evolution I am in entire accord; but I
would ask whether the evolution has not reached a stage where a gradual
relaxation of the disciplinary measures by which chastity is insured
might be safely allowed without any danger of lowering the high standard
of continence which is general in Ireland and which of course it is of
supreme importance to maintain.

There are, however, many parishes where in this matter the strictest
discipline is rigorously enforced Amusements, not necessarily or even
often vicious, are objected to as being fraught with dangers which would
never occur to any but the rigidly ascetic or the puritanical mind. In
many parishes the Sunday cyclist will observe the strange phenomenon of
a normally light-hearted peasantry marshalled in male and female groups
along the road, eyeing one another in dull wonderment across the
forbidden space through the long summer day. This kind of discipline,
unless when really necessary, is open to the objection that it
eliminates from the education of life, especially during the formative
years, an essential of culture--the mutual understanding of the sexes.
The evil of grafting upon secular life a quasi-monasticism which, not
being voluntary, has no real effect upon the character, may perhaps
involve moral consequences little dreamed of by the spiritual guardians
of the people. A study of the pathology of the emotions might throw
doubt upon the safety of enforced asceticism when unaccompanied by the
training which the Church wisely prescribes for those who take the vow
of celibacy. But of my own knowledge I can speak only of another aspect
of the effect upon our national life of the restrictions to which I
refer. No Irishmen are more sincerely desirous of staying the tide of
emigration than the Roman Catholic clergy, and while, wisely as I think,
they do not dream of a wealthy Ireland, they earnestly work for the
physical and material as well as the spiritual well-being of their
flocks. And yet no man can get into the confidence of the emigrating
classes without being told by them that the exodus is largely due to a
feeling that the clergy are, no doubt from an excellent motive, taking
joy--innocent joy--from the social side of the home life.

To go more fully into these subjects might carry me beyond the proper
limits of lay criticism. But, clearly, large questions of clerical
training must suggest themselves to those to whom their discussion
properly belongs--whether, for example, there is not in the instances
which I have cited evidence of a failure to understand that mere
authority in the regions of moral conduct cannot have any abiding
effect, except in the rarest combination of circumstances, and with a
very primitive people. Do not many of these clergy ignore the vast
difference between the ephemeral nature of moral compulsion and the
enduring force of a real moral training?

I have dealt with the exercise of clerical influence in these matters as
being, at any rate in relation to the subject matter of this book, far
more important than the evil commonly described as "The Priest in
Politics." That evil is, in my opinion, greatly misrepresented. The
cases of priests who take an improper part in politics are cited without
reference to the vastly greater number who take no part at all, except
when genuinely assured that a definite moral issue is at stake. I also
have in my mind the question of how we should have fared if the control
of the different Irish agitations had been confined to laymen, and if
the clergy had not consistently condemned secret associations. But
whatever may be said in defence of the priest in politics in the past,
there are the strongest grounds for deprecating a continuance of their
political activity in the future. As I gauge the several forces now
operating in Ireland, I am convinced that if an anti-clerical movement
similar to that which other Roman Catholic countries have witnessed,
were to succeed in discrediting the priesthood and lowering them in
public estimation, it would be followed by a moral, social, and
political degradation which would blight, or at least postpone, our
hopes of a national regeneration. From this point of view I hold that
those clergymen who are predominantly politicians endanger the moral
influence which it is their solemn duty to uphold. I believe however,
that the over-active part hitherto taken in politics by the priests is
largely the outcome of the way in which Roman Catholics were treated in
the past, and that this undesirable feature in Irish life will yield,
and is already yielding to the removal of the evils to which it owed its
origin and in some measure its justification.[21]

One has only to turn to the spirit and temper of such representative
Roman Catholics as Archbishop Healy and Dr. Kelly, Bishop of Ross--to
their words and to their deeds--in order to catch the inspiration of a
new movement amongst our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen at once
religious and patriotic. And if my optimism ever wavers, I have but to
think of the noble work that many priests are to my own knowledge
doing, often in remote and obscure parishes, in the teeth of innumerable
obstacles. I call to mind at such times, as pioneers in a great
awakening, men like the eminent Jesuit, Father Thomas Finlay, Father
Hegarty of Erris, Father O'Donovan of Loughrea, and many others--men
with whom I have worked and taken counsel, and who represent, I believe,
an ever increasing number of their fellow priests.[22]

My position, then, towards the influence of the Roman Catholic
clergy--and this influence is a matter of vital importance to the
understanding of Irish problems--- may now be clearly defined. While
recognising to the full that large numbers of the Irish Roman Catholic
clergy have in the past exercised undue influence in purely political
questions, and, in many other matters, social, educational, and
economic, have not, as I see things, been on the side of progress, I
hold that their influence is now, more than ever before, essential for
improving the condition of the most backward section of the population.
Therefore I feel it to be both the duty and the strong interest of my
Protestant fellow-countrymen to think much less of the religious
differences which divide them from Roman Catholics, and much more of
their common citizenship and their common cause. I also hold with equal
strength and sincerity to the belief, which I have already expressed,
that the shortcomings of the Roman Catholic clergy are largely to be
accounted for, not by any innate tendency on their part towards
obscurantism, but by the sad history of Ireland in the past. I would
appeal to those of my co-religionists who think otherwise to suspend
their judgment for a time. That Roman Catholicism is firmly established
in Ireland is a fact of the situation which they must admit, and as this
involves the continued powerful influence of the priesthood upon the
character of the people, it is surely good policy by liberality and fair
dealing, especially in the matter of education, to turn this influence
towards the upbuilding of our national life.

To sum up the influence of religion and religious controversy in
Ireland, as it presents itself from the only standpoint from which I
have approached the matter in this chapter, namely, that of material,
social, and intellectual progress, I find that while the Protestants
have given, and continue to give, a fine example of thrift and industry
to the rest of the nation, the attitude of a section of them towards the
majority of their fellow-countrymen has been a bigoted and unintelligent
one. On the other hand, I have learned from practical experience amongst
the Roman Catholic people of Ireland that, while more free from bigotry,
in the sense in which that word is usually applied, they are apathetic,
thriftless, and almost non-industrial, and that they especially require
the exercise of strengthening influences on their moral fibre. I have
dealt with their shortcomings at much greater length than with those of
Protestants, because they have much more bearing on the subject matter
of this book. North and South have each virtues which the other lacks;
each has much to learn from the other; but the home of the strictly
civic virtues and efficiencies is in Protestant Ireland. The work of the
future in Ireland will be to break down in social intercourse the
barriers of creed as well as those of race, politics, and class, and
thus to promote the fruitful contact of North and South, and the
concentration of both on the welfare of their common country. In the
case of those of us, of whatever religious belief, who look to a future
for our country commensurate with the promise of her undeveloped
resources both of intellect and soil, it is of the essence of our hope
that the qualities which are in great measure accountable for the actual
economic and educational backwardness of so many of our
fellow-countrymen, and for the intolerance of too many who are not
backward in either respect, are not purely racial or sectarian, but are
the transitory growth of days and deeds which we must all try to forget
if our work for Ireland is to endure.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] The reproach which is brought upon Irish Christianity mainly by the
extravagances of a section of my co-religionists, to which I have been
obliged to refer, came home to me not long ago in a very forcible way. I
happened to remark to a friend that it was a disgrace to Christianity
that Mussulman soldiery were employed at the Holy Sepulchre to keep the
peace between the Latin and Greek Christians. He reminded me that the
prosperous and progressive municipality of Belfast, with a population
eminently industrious, and predominantly Protestant, has to be policed
by an Imperial force in order to restrain two sections of Irish
Christians from assaulting each other in the name of religion.

[17] '_Pro salute animae meae_' was, I am reminded, the consideration
usually expressed in the old charters of manumission.

[18] One of the unfortunate effects of this passion for building costly
churches is the importation of quantities of foreign art-work in the
shape of woodcarvings, stained glass, mosaics, and metal work. To good
foreign art, indeed, one could not, within certain limits, object. It
might prove a valuable example and stimulus. But the articles which have
actually been imported, in the impulse to get everything finished as
soon as possible, generally consist of the stock pieces produced in a
spirit of mere commercialism in the workshops of Continental firms which
make it their business to cater for a public who do not know the
difference between good art and bad. Much of the decoration of
ecclesiastical buildings, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, might
fittingly be postponed until religion in Ireland has got into closer
relation with the native artistic sense and industrial spirit now
beginning to seek creative expression.

[19] The following extract from a statement of the Most Rev. Dr. O'Dea,
the newly elected Bishop of Clonfert, is pertinent:--'There is another
cause also--i.e. in addition to the absence of university education for
Roman Catholic laymen--which has hindered the employment of the laity in
the past. Till very recently, the secondary Catholic schools received no
assistance whatever from the State, and their endowment from private
sources was utterly inadequate to supply suitable remuneration for lay
teachers. It is evident that a celibate clergy _can_ live on a lower
wage than the laity, and they are now charged with having monopolized
the schools, because they chose to work for a minimum allowance rather
than suffer the country to remain without any secondary education
whatever. Two causes, then, operated in the past, and in a large measure
still operate, to exclude the laity from the secondary schools,--first,
these schools were so poverty-stricken that they could not afford to pay
lay teachers at such a rate as would attract them to the teaching
profession, and, next, the Catholic laity as a body were uneducated,
and, therefore, unfit to teach in the schools.'--_Maynooth and the
University Question_, p. 109 (footnote).

[20] See, _inter alia_, an article "Ireland and America," by Rev. Mr.
Shinnors, O.M., in the _Irish Ecclesiastical Record_, February, 1902.
'Has the Church,' asks Father Shinnors, 'increased her membership in the
ratio that the population of the United States has increased? No. There
are many converts, but there are many more apostates. Large numbers
lapse into indifferentism and irreligion. There should be in America
about 20,000,000 Catholics; there are scarcely 10,000,000. There are
reasons to fear that the great majority of the apostates are of Irish
extraction, and not a few of them of Irish birth.'

[21] This view seems to be taken by the most influential spokesmen of
the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. See Evidence, _Royal Commission on
University Education in Ireland_, vol. iii., p. 238, Questions 8702-6.

[22] I may mention that of the co-operative societies organised by the
Irish Agricultural Organisation Society there are no fewer than 331
societies of which the local priests are the Chairmen, while to my own
knowledge during the summer and autumn of 1902, as many as 50,000
persons from all parts of Ireland were personally conducted over the
exhibit of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction at
the Cork Exhibition by their local clergy. The educational purpose of
these visits is explained in Chap. x. Again, in a great number of cases
the village libraries which have been recently started in Ireland with
the assistance of the Department (the books consisting largely of
industrial, economic, and technical works on agriculture), have been
organised and assisted by the Roman Catholic clergy.



CHAPTER V.

A PRACTICAL VIEW OF IRISH EDUCATION.


A little learning, we are told, is a dangerous thing; and in their
dealings with Irish education the English should have discovered that
this danger is accentuated when the little learning is combined with
much native wit. In the days when religious persecution was
universal--only, be it remembered, a few generations ago--it was the
policy of England to avert this danger by prohibiting, as far as
possible, the acquisition by Irish Roman Catholics of any learning at
all. After the Union, Englishmen began to feel their responsibility for
the state of Ireland, a state of poverty and distress which culminated
in the Famine. Knowledge was then no longer withheld: indeed the English
sincerely desired to dispel our darkness and enable us to share in the
wisdom, and so in the prosperity, of the predominant partner. In their
attempts to educate us they dealt with what they saw on the surface, and
moulded their educational principles upon what they knew; but they did
not know Ireland. Even if we excuse them for paying scant attention to
what they were told by Irishmen, they should have given more heed to the
reports of their own Royal Commissions.

We have so far seen that the Irish mind has been in regard to
economics, politics, and even some phases of religious influence, a mind
warped and diseased, deprived of good nutrition and fed on fancies or
fictions, out of which no genuine growth, industrial or other, was
possible. The one thing that might have strengthened and saved a people
with such a political, social, and religious history, and such racial
characteristics, was an educational system which would have had special
regard to that history, and which would have been a just expression of
the better mind of the people whom it was intended to serve.

Now this is exactly what was denied to Ireland. Not merely has all
educational legislation come from England, in the sense of being based
on English models and thought out by Englishmen largely out of touch and
sympathy with the peculiar needs of Ireland, but whenever there has been
genuine native thought on Irish educational problems, it has been either
ignored altogether or distorted till its value and significance were
lost. And in this matter we can claim for Ireland that there was in the
country during the first half of the nineteenth century, when England
was trying her best to provide us with a sound English education, a
comparatively advanced stage of home-grown Irish thought upon the
educational needs of the people. Take, for example, the Society for
Promoting Elementary Education among the Irish Poor, know as the Kildare
Street Society, which was founded as early as the year 1811. The first
resolution passed by this body, which was composed of prominent Dublin
citizens of all religious beliefs, was set out as follows:--

     (1.) Resolved--That promoting the education of the poor of Ireland
     is a grand object which every Irishman anxious for the welfare and
     prosperity of his country ought to have in view as the basis upon
     which the morals and true happiness of the country can be best
     secured.

This Society, it is true, did not see or foresee that any system of
mixed religious education was doomed to failure in Ireland, but they
took a wide view of the place of education in a nation's development,
and the character of the education which their schools actually
dispensed was admirable. This hopeful and enterprising educational
movement is described by Mr. Lecky in a passage from which I take a few
extracts:--

     The "Kildare Street Society" which received an endowment from
     Government, and directed National education from 1812 to 1831, was
     not proselytising, and it was for some time largely patronized by
     Roman Catholics. It is certainly by no means deserving of the
     contempt which some writers have bestowed on it, and if measured by
     the spirit of the time in which it was founded it will appear both
     liberal and useful.... The object of the schools was stated to be
     united education, "taking common Christian ground for the
     foundation, and excluding all sectarian distinctions from every
     part of the arrangement;" "drawing the attention of both
     denominations to the many leading truths of Christianity in which
     they agree." To carry out this principle it was a fundamental rule
     that the Bible must be read without note or comment in all the
     schools. It might be read either in the Authorized or in the Douay
     version.... In 1825 there were 1,490 schools connected with the
     Society, containing about 100,000 pupils. The improvements
     introduced into education by Bell, Lancaster, and Pestalozzi were
     largely adopted. Great attention was paid to needlework.... A great
     number of useful publications were printed by the Society, and we
     have the high authority of Dr. Doyle for stating that he never
     found anything objectionable [to Catholics] in them.[23]

Take, again, as an evidence of the progressive spirit of the Irish
thinkers on education, the remarkable scheme of national education
which, after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act, was
formulated by Mr. Thomas Wyse, of Waterford. In addition to elementary
schools, Mr. Wyse proposed to establish in every county, 'an academy for
the education of the middle class of society in those departments of
knowledge most necessary to those classes, and over those a College in
each of the four provinces, managed by a Committee representative of the
interests of the several counties of the provinces.' 'It is a matter of
importance,' wrote Mr. Wyse, 'for the simple and efficient working of
the whole system of national education, that each part should as much as
possible be brought into co-operation and accord with the others.' He
foresaw, too, that one of the needs of the Irish temperament was a
training in science which would cultivate the habits of 'education,
observation, and reasoning,' and he pointed out that the peculiar
manufactures, trades, and occupations of the several localities would
determine the course of studies. Mr. Wyse's memorandum on education led,
as is well known, to the creation of the Board of National Education,
but, to quote Dr. Starkie,[24] the present Resident Commissioner of the
Board, 'the more important part of the scheme, dealing with a university
and secondary education, was shelved, in spite of Mr. Wyse's warnings
that it was imprudent, dangerous, and pernicious to the social condition
of the country, and to its future tranquillity, that so much
encouragement should be given to the education of the lower classes,
without at the same time due provision being made for the education of
the middle and upper classes.'

As still another evidence of the sound thought on educational problems
which came from Irishmen who knew the actual conditions of their own
country and people, the case of the agricultural instruction
administered by the National Board is pertinent. The late Sir Patrick
Keenan has told us that landlords and others who on political and
religious grounds distrusted the National system, turned to this feature
of the operations of the National Board with the greatest fervour. A
scheme of itinerant instruction in agriculture, which had a curious
resemblance to that which the Department of Agriculture is now
organising, was developed, and was likely to have worked with the
greatest advantage to the country at large. Sir Patrick Keenan, who
knew Ireland and the Irish people well, speaks of this part of the
scheme as 'the most fruitful experiment in the material interests of the
country that was ever attempted. It was,' he adds, 'through the agency
of this corps of practical instructors that green cropping as a
systematic feature in farming was introduced into the South and West,
and even into the central parts of Ireland.' But all the hopes thus
raised went down, not before any intrinsic difficulties in the scheme
itself, or before any adverse opinion to it in Ireland, but before the
opposition of the Liverpool Financial Reform Association, who had their
own views as to the limits of State interference with agriculture. These
examples, drawn from different stages of Irish educational history,
might easily be multiplied, but they will serve as typical instances of
that want of recognition by English statesmen of Irish thought on Irish
problems, and that ignoring of Irish sentiment--as distinguished from
Irish sentimentality--which I insist is the basal element in the
misunderstandings of Irish problems.

I now come to a brief consideration of some facts of the present
educational situation, and I shall indicate, for those readers who are
not familiar with current events in Ireland, the significant evolution,
or revolution, through which Irish education is passing. Within the last
eight years we have had in Ireland three very remarkable reports--in
themselves symptoms of a widespread unrest and dissatisfaction--on the
educational systems of the country. I allude to the reports of two
Viceregal Commissions, one on Manual and Practical Instruction in our
Primary Schools, and the other on our Intermediate Education; and to the
recent report by a Royal Commission on University Education. These
reports cover the three grades of our educational system, and each of
them contains a strong denunciation and a scathing criticism of the
existing provision and methods of instruction in elementary, secondary,
and university education (outside Dublin University), respectively. One
and all showed that the education to be had in our primary and secondary
schools, as well as in the examining body known as the Royal University,
had little regard to the industrial or economic conditions of the
country. We find, for example, agriculture taught out of a text book in
the primary schools, with the result that the _gamins_ of the Belfast
streets secured the highest marks in the subject. In the Intermediate
system are to be found anomalies of a similar kind, which could not long
have survived if there had been a living opinion on educational matters
in Ireland. No careful reader of the evidence given before the
Commissions can fail to see that under our educational system the
schools were practically bribed to fall in with a stereotyped course of
studies which left scant room for elasticity and adaptation to local
needs; that the teacher was, to all intents and purposes, deprived of
healthy initiative; and that the Irish parents must as a body have been
in the dark as to the bearing of their children's studies on their
probable careers in life. A deep and wholesome impression was made in
Ireland by the exposure of the intrinsic evils of a system calculated in
my opinion to turn our youth into a generation of second-rate clerks,
with a distinct distaste for any industrial or productive occupation in
which such qualities as initiative, self-reliance, or judgment were
called for.

I am told by competent authorities that there is not a single
educational principle laid down in either the report on Manual
Instruction or on Intermediate Education, which was not known and
applied at least half a century ago in continental countries. In fact,
in the Recess Committee investigations, as any reader of the report of
that body can see for himself, the Committee, guided by foreign
experience, foreshadowed practically every reform now being put into
operation. It is better, of course, that we should reform late than
never, but it is well to bear in mind also, so far as the problems of
this book are concerned, how far the education of the country has fallen
short of any sound standard, and how little could have been expected
from the working of our system. The curve of Irish illiteracy has indeed
fallen continuously with each succeeding census, but true education as
opposed to mere instruction has languished sadly.

Together with my friends and fellow-workers in the self-help movement, I
believe that the problem of Irish education, like all other Irish
problems, must be reconsidered from the standpoint of its relation to
the practical affairs and everyday life of the people of Ireland. The
needs and opportunities of the industrial struggle must, in fact, mould
into shape our educational policy and programmes. We are convinced that
there is little hope of any real solution of the more general problem of
national education, unless and until those in direct contact with the
specific industries of the country succeed in bringing to the notice of
those engaged in the framing of our educational system the kind and
degree of the defects in the industrial character of our people which
debar them from successful competition with other countries. Education
in Ireland has been too long a thing apart from the economic realities
of the country--with what result we know. In the work of the Department
of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, an attempt is
being made to establish a vital relation between industrial education
and industrial life. It is desired to try, at this critical stage of our
development, the experiment--I call it an experiment only because it
does not seem to have been tried before in Ireland--of directing our
instruction with a conscious and careful regard to the probable future
careers of those we are educating.

This attempt touches, of course, only one department of the whole
educational problem, much of which it would be quite outside my present
purpose to discuss. But I must guard against the supposition that in our
insistence upon the importance of the practical side of education we
are under any doubt as to the great importance of the literary side. My
friends and I have been deeply impressed by the educational experience
of Denmark, where the people, who are as much dependent on agriculture
as are the Irish, have brought it by means of organisation to a more
genuine success than it has attained anywhere else in Europe. Yet an
inquirer will at once discover that it is to the "High Schools" founded
by Bishop Grundtvig, and not to the agricultural schools, which are also
excellent, that the extraordinary national progress is mainly due. A
friend of mine who was studying the Danish system of State aid to
agriculture, found this to be the opinion of the Danes of all classes,
and was astounded at the achievements of the associations of farmers,
not only in the manufacture of butter, but in a far more difficult
undertaking, the manufacture of bacon in large factories equipped with
all the most modern machinery and appliances which science had devised
for the production of the finished article. He at first concluded that
this success in a highly technical industry by bodies of farmers
indicated a very perfect system of technical education. But he soon
found another cause. As one of the leading educators and agriculturists
of the country put it to him: 'It's not technical instruction, it's the
humanities.' I would like to add that it is also, if I may coin a term,
the 'nationalities,' for nothing is more evident to the student of
Danish education or, I might add, of the excellent system of the
Christian Brothers in Ireland, than that one of the secrets of their
success is to be found in their national basis and their foundation
upon the history and literature of the country.

To sum up the educational situation in Ireland, it is not too much to
say that all our forms of education, technical and general, hang loose.
We lack a body of trained teachers; we have no alert and informed public
opinion on education and its function in regard to life; and there is no
proper provision for research work in all branches, a deficiency, which,
I am told by those who have given deep thought and long study to these
problems, inevitably reacts most disastrously on the general educational
system of the country. This state of things appears not unnatural when
we remember that the Penal Laws were not repealed till almost the close
of the eighteenth century, and that a large majority of the Irish people
had not full and free access to even primary and secondary education
until the passing of the Emancipation Act in 1829. At the present day,
the absence of any provision for higher education of which Roman
Catholics will avail themselves is not merely an enormous loss in
itself, but it reacts most adversely upon the whole educational
machinery, and consequently upon the whole public life and thought of
that section of the nation.

One of the very first things I had to learn when I came into direct
touch with educational problems, was that the education of a country
cannot be divided into water-tight compartments, and each part
legislated for or discussed solely on its merits and without reference
to the other parts. I see now very clearly that the educational system
of a country is an organic whole, the working of any part of which
necessarily has an influence on the working of the rest. I had always
looked upon the lower, secondary, and higher grades as the first,
second, and third storeys of the educational house, and I am not quite
sure that I attached sufficient importance to the staircase. My view has
now changed, and I find myself regarding the University as a foundation
and support of the primary and secondary school.

It was not on purely pedagogic grounds that I added to my other
political irregularities the earnest advocacy of such a provision for
higher education as Roman Catholics will avail themselves of. This great
need was revealed to me in my study of the Irish mind and of the
direction in which it could look for its higher development. My belief
is based on practical experience; my point of view is that of the
economist. When the new economic mission in Ireland began now fourteen
years ago, we had to undertake, in addition to our practical programme,
a kind of University extension work with the important omission of the
University. We had to bring home to adult farmers whose general
education was singularly poor, though their native intelligence was keen
and receptive, a large number of general ideas bearing on the productive
and distributive side of their industry. Our chief obstacles arose from
the lack of trained economic thought among all classes, and especially
among those to whom the majority looked for guidance. The air was thick
with economic fallacies or half-truths. We were, it is true, successful
beyond our expectations in planting in apparently uncongenial soil sound
economic principles. But our success was mainly due, as I shall show
later, to our having used the associative instincts of the Irish peasant
to help out the working of our theories; and we became convinced that if
a tithe of our priests, public men, national school teachers, and
members of our local bodies had received a university education, we
should have made much more rapid progress.

I hardly know how to describe the mental atmosphere in which we were
working. It would be no libel upon the public opinion upon which we
sought to make an impression to say that it really allowed no question
to be discussed on its merits. Public opinion on social and economic
questions is changing now, but I cannot associate the change with any
influence emanating from institutions of higher education. In other
countries, so far as my investigations have extended, the universities
do guide economic thought and have a distinct though wholly unofficial
function as a court of appeal upon questions relating to the material
progress of the communities amongst which they are situated. Of such
institutions there are in Ireland only two which could be expected to
direct in any large way the thought of the country upon economic and
other important national questions--Maynooth, and Trinity College,
Dublin. Whether in their widely different spheres of influence these two
institutions could, under conditions other than those prevailing, have
so met the requirements of the country as to have obviated what is at
present an urgent necessity for a complete reorganisation of higher
education need not be discussed; but it is essential to my argument that
I should set forth clearly the results of my own observation upon their
influence, or rather lack of influence, upon the people among whom I
have worked.

The influence of Maynooth, actual and potential, can hardly be
exaggerated, but it is exercised indirectly upon the secular thought of
the country. It is not its function to make a direct impression. It is
in fact only a professional--I had almost said a technical--school. It
trains its students, most admirably I am told, in theology, philosophy,
and the studies subsidiary to these sciences, but always, for the vast
majority of its students, with a distinctly practical and definite
missionary end in view. There is, I believe, an arts course of modest
scope, designed rather to meet the deficiencies of students whose
general education has been neglected than to serve as anything in the
nature of a university arts course. I am quite aware of the value of a
sound training in mental science if given in connection with a full
university course, but I am equally convinced that the Maynooth
education, on the whole, is no substitute for a university course, and
that while its chief end of turning out a large number of trained
priests has been fulfilled, it has not given, and could not be expected
to have given, that broader and more humane culture which only a
university, as distinguished from a professional school, can adequately
provide.

Moreover, under the Maynooth system young clerics are constantly called
upon to take a part in the life of a lay community, towards which, when
they entered college, they were in no position of responsibility, and
upon which, so far as secular matters are concerned, when they emerge
from their theological training, they are no better adapted to exercise
a helpful influence. In my experience of priests I have met with many in
whom I recognised a sincere desire to attend to the material and social
well-being of their flocks, but who certainly had not that breadth of
view and understanding of human nature which perhaps contact with the
laity during the years in which they were passing from discipline to
authority might have given to them. However this may be, it is clear and
it is admitted that education as opposed to professional training of a
high order is still, generally speaking, a want among the priests of
Ireland, and I look forward to no greater boon from a University or
University College for Roman Catholics than its influence, direct and
indirect, on a body of men whose prestige and authority are necessarily
so unique.

It is, therefore, to Trinity College, or the University of Dublin, that
one would naturally turn as to a great centre of thought in Ireland for
help in the theoretic aspects, at least, of the practical problems upon
whose successful solution our national well-being depends. Judged by
the not unimportant test of the men it has supplied to the service of
the State and country during its three centuries of educational
activity, by the part it took in one of the brightest epochs of these
three centuries--the days when it gave Grattan to Grattan's Parliament,
by the work and reputation of the _alumni_ it could muster to-day within
and without its walls, our venerable seat of learning need not fear
comparison with any similar institutions in Great Britain. It may also,
of course, be said that many men who have passed through Trinity College
have impressed the thought of Ireland, and, indeed, of the world, in one
way or another--such men as, to take two very different examples, Burke
and Thomas Davis--but on some of the very best spirits amongst these men
Trinity College and its atmosphere have exerted influence rather by
repulsion than by attraction; and certainly their characteristics of
temper or thought have not been of a kind which those best acquainted
with the atmosphere of Trinity College associate with that institution.
Still nothing can detract from the credit of having educated such men.
But these tests and standards are, for my present purpose, irrelevant. I
am not writing a book on Irish educational history, or even a record of
present-day Irish educational achievement. I am rather trying, from the
standpoint of a practical worker for national progress, to measure the
reality and strength of the educational and other influences which are
actually and actively operating on the character and intellect of the
majority of the Irish people, moulding their thought and directing
their action towards the upbuilding of our national life.

From this point of view I am bound to say that Trinity College, so far
as I have seen, has had but little influence upon the minds or the lives
of the people. Nor can I find that at any period of the extraordinarily
interesting economic and social revolution, which has been in progress
in Ireland since the great catastrophe of the Famine period, Dublin
University has departed from its academic isolation and its aloofness
from the great national problems that were being worked out. The more
one thinks of it, indeed, and the more one realises the opportunities of
an institution like Trinity College in a country like Ireland, the more
one must recognise how small, in recent times, has been its positive
influence on the mind of the country, and how little it has contributed
towards the solution of any of those problems, educational, economic, or
social, that were clamant for solution, and which in any other country
would have naturally secured the attention of men who ought to have been
leaders of thought.

Whatever the causes, and many may be assigned, this unfortunate lack of
influence on the part of Trinity College, has always seemed to me a
strong supplementary argument for the creation of another University or
University College on a more popular basis, to which the Roman Catholic
people of Ireland would have recourse. From the fact that Maynooth by
its constitution could never have developed into a great national
University,[25] and that Trinity College has never, as a matter of fact,
done so, and has thus, in my opinion, missed a unique opportunity, it
has come about that Ireland has been without any great centre of thought
whose influence would have tended to leaven the mass of mental
inactivity or random-thinking so prevalent in Ireland, and would have
created a body of educated public opinion sufficiently informed and
potent to secure the study and discussion on their merits of questions
of vital interest to the country. The demoralising atmosphere of
partisanship which hangs over Ireland would, I am convinced, gradually
give way before an organised system of education with a thoroughly
democratic University at its head, which would diffuse amongst the
people at large a sense of the value of a balanced judgment on, and a
true appreciation of, the real forces with which Ireland has to deal in
building up her fortunes.

To discuss the merits of the different solutions which have been
proposed for the vexed problem of higher education in Ireland would be
beyond the scope of this book. The question will have to be faced, and
all I need do here is to state the conditions which the solution will
have to fulfil if it is to deal with the aspects of the Irish Question
with which the new movement is practically concerned. What is most
needed is a University that will reach down to the rural population,
much in the same way as the Scottish Universities do, and a lower scale
of fees will be required than Trinity College, with its diminished
revenues, could establish. Already I can see that the work of the new
Department, acting in conjunction with local bodies, urban and rural,
throughout the country, will provide a considerable number of
scholarships, bursaries, and exhibitions for young men who are being
prepared to take part in the very real, but rather hazily understood,
industrial revival which is imminent. Leaving sectarian controversies
out of the question, the type of institution which is required in order
to provide adequately for the classes now left outside the influence of
higher education is an institution pre-eminently national in its aims,
and one intimately associated with the new movements making for the
development of our national resources.

Unfortunately, however, in Ireland, and indeed in England too, there is
a tendency to regard educational institutions almost solely as they will
affect religion. At least it is difficult to arouse any serious interest
in them except from this point of view. I welcome, therefore, the
striking answers given to the queries of Lord Robertson, Chairman of the
University Commission, by Dr. O'Dwyer, the Roman Catholic Bishop of
Limerick, who boldly and wisely placed the question before the country
in the light in which cleric and layman should alike regard it:--

     _The Chairman_.--(413): "I suppose you believe a Catholic
     University, such as you propose, will strengthen Roman Catholicism
     in Ireland?"--"It is not easy to answer that; not so easy as it
     looks." (414):--"But it won't weaken it, or you would not be
     here?"--"It would educate Catholics in Ireland very largely, and,
     of course, a religious denomination composed of a body of educated
     men is stronger than a religious denomination composed of ignorant
     men. In that sense it would strengthen Roman Catholicism."
     (415):--"Is there any sense in which it won't?"--"As far as
     religion is concerned, I do not know how a University would work
     out. If you ask me now whether I think that that University in a
     certain number of years would become a centre of thought,
     strengthening the Catholic faith in Ireland, I cannot tell you. It
     is a leap in the dark." (416):--"But it is in the hope that it will
     strengthen your own Church that you propose it?"--"No, it is not,
     by any means. We are Bishops, but we are Irishmen, also, and we
     want to serve our country."[26]

Equally significant were the statements of Dr. O'Dea, the official
spokesman of Maynooth, when he said,

     I regard the interest of the laity in the settlement of the
     University Question as supreme. The clergy are but a small, however
     important, part of the nation, and the laity have never had an
     institution of higher education comparable to Maynooth in magnitude
     or resources. I recognise, therefore, that the educational
     grievances of the laity are much more pressing than those of the
     clergy ... It is generally admitted that Irish priests hold a
     position of exceptional influence, due to historical causes, the
     intensely religious character of the people, and the want of
     Catholic laymen qualified by education and position for social and
     political leadership. What Bishop Berkeley said of them in 1749, in
     his letter, _A Word to the Wise_, still holds true, 'That no set of
     men on earth have it in their power to do good on easier terms,
     with more advantage to others, and less pains or loss to
     themselves.' It would be folly to expect that in a mixed community
     the State should do anything to strengthen or perpetuate this
     power; but this result will certainly not follow from the more
     liberal education of the clergy, provided equal advantages are
     extended to the laity. On the contrary, I am convinced that if the
     void in the lay leadership of the country be filled up by higher
     education of the better classes among the Catholic laity, the power
     of the priests, so far as it is abnormal or unnecessary will pass
     away; and, further, if I believed, with many who are opposed to the
     better education of the priesthood, that their power is based on
     falsehood or superstition, I would unhesitatingly advocate the
     spread of higher education among the laity and clergy alike, as the
     best means of effectually sapping and disintegrating it.[27]

I had for long indulged a hope that a university of the type which
Ireland requires would have been the outcome of a great national
educational movement emanating from Trinity College, which might, at
this auspicious hour, have surpassed all the proud achievements of its
three hundred years. That hope was dispelled when the cry of 'Hands off
Trinity' was applied to the profane hands of the Royal Commission.
Perhaps that attitude may be reconsidered yet. There is one hopeful
sentiment which is often heard coming from that institution. An opinion
has been strongly expressed that nothing ought to be done to separate in
secular life two sections of Irishmen who happen to belong to different
creeds. Whatever may be the logical outcome of the position taken up
towards the University problem by those who give expression to this
pious opinion, I do not for a moment doubt their sincerity. But I often
think that too much importance is attached to the danger of building new
walls, and that there is too little appreciation of the wide and deep
foundation of the already existing walls between the two sections of
Irishmen who are so unhappily kept apart. In dealing with this, as with
all large Irish problems, it had better be frankly recognised that there
are in the country two races, two creeds, and, what is too little
considered, two separate spheres of economic interest and pursuit.
Socially two separate classes have naturally, nay inevitably, arisen out
of these distinctions. One class has superior advantages in many ways of
great importance. The other class is far more numerous, produces far the
greater proportion of the nation's wealth, and is, therefore, from the
national point of view, of greater importance. But both are necessary.
Both must be adequately provided for in the supreme matter of higher
education. Above all, the two classes must be educated to regard
themselves as united by the bond of a common country--a sentiment which,
if genuine, would treat differences arising from whatever cause, not as
a difficulty in the way of national progress, but rather as affording a
variety of opportunities for national expansion.

I do not concern myself as to the exact form which the new institution
or institutions which are to give us the absolutely essential advantage
of higher education should take. If in view of the difference in the
requirements to which I have alluded, and the complicated pedagogic and
administrative considerations which have to be taken into account,
schemes of co-education of Protestants and Roman Catholics are difficult
of immediate accomplishment, let that ideal be postponed. The two creeds
can meet in the playground now: they can meet everywhere in after life.
Ireland will bring them together soon enough if Ireland is given a
chance, and when the time is ripe for their coming together in higher
education they will come together. If the time is not now ripe for this
ideal there is no justification for postponing educational reform until
the relations between the two creeds have been elevated to a plane
which, in my opinion, they will never reach except through the aid of
that culture which a widely diffused higher education alone can afford.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I was beginning to write this chapter I chanced to pick up the
_Chesterfield Letters_. I opened the book at the two hundredth epistle,
and, curiously enough, almost the first sentence which caught my eye
ran: 'Education more than nature is the cause of that difference you see
in the character of men.' I felt myself at first in strong disagreement
with this aphorism. But when I came to reflect how much the nature of
one generation must be the outcome of the education of those which went
before it, I gradually came to see the truth in Lord Chesterfield's
words. I must leave it to experts to define the exact steps which ought
to be taken to make the general education of this country capable of
cultivating the judgment, strengthening the will, and so of building up
the character. But every day, every thought, I give to the problems of
Irish progress convinces me more firmly that this is the real task of
educational reform, a task that must be accomplished before we can prove
to those who brand us with racial inferiority that, in Ireland, it was
not nature that has been unkind in causing the difference we find in the
character of men.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] _Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland_, II., 122-4.

[24] _Recent Reforms in Irish Education_, p. 7.

[25] It was not authorised to give degrees to lay students; and even the
admission of lay students to an Arts course was prohibited by
Government, lest Catholic students should be drawn away from Trinity
College. See Cornwallis Correspondence, III., 366-8.

[26] Appendix to First Report, p. 37.

[27] Appendix to Third Report, pp. 283, 296.



CHAPTER VI.

THROUGH THOUGHT TO ACTION.


I have now completed my survey of the main conditions which, in my
opinion, must be taken into account by anyone who would understand the
Irish mind, and still more by those who seek to work with it in
rebuilding the fortunes of the country. The task has been one of great
difficulty, as it was necessary to tell, not only the truth--for that
even an official person may be excused--but also the whole truth, which,
unless made compulsory by the kissing of the book, is regarded as a
gratuitous kissing of the rod. From the frying pan of political dispute,
I have passed into the fire of sectarian controversy. I have not
hesitated to poach on the preserves of historians and economists, and
have even bearded the pedagogues in their dens. Before my stock of
metaphors is exhausted, let me say that I have one hope of escape from
the cross-fire of denunciation which independent speaking about Ireland
is apt to provoke. I once witnessed a football match between two
villages, one of which favoured a political party called by the name of
a leader, with an 'ism' added to indicate a policy, the other adopting
the same name, still further elongated by the prefix 'anti.' When I
arrived on the scene the game had begun in deadly earnest, but I noticed
the ball lying unmolested in another quarter of the field. In Irish
public life I have often had reason to envy that ball, and perhaps now
its lot may be mine, while the game goes on and the critics pay
attention to each other.

To my friendly critics a word of explanation is due. The opinions to
which I have given expression are based upon personal observation and
experience extending over a quarter of a century during which I have
been in close touch with Irish life at home, and not unfamiliar with it
abroad. I have referred to history only when I could not otherwise
account for social and economic conditions with which I came into
contact, or with which I desired practically to deal. Whether looking
back over the dreary wastes of Anglo-Irish history, or studying the men
and things of to-day, I came to conclusions which differed widely from
what I had been taught to believe by those whose theories of Irish
development had not been subjected to any practical test. Deeply as I
have felt for the past sufferings of the Irish people and their heritage
of disability and distress, I could not bring myself to believe that,
where misgovernment had continued so long, and in such an immense
variety of circumstances and conditions, the governors could have been
alone to blame. I envied those leaders of popular thought whose
confidence in themselves and in their followers was shaken by no such
reflections. But the more I listened to them the more the conviction was
borne in upon me that they were seeking to build an impossible future
upon an imaginary past.

Those who know Ireland from within are aware that Irish thought upon
Irish problems has been undergoing a silent, and therefore too lightly
regarded revolution. The surface of Irish life, often so inexplicably
ruffled, and sometimes so inexplicably calm, has just now become smooth
to a degree which has led to hasty conclusions as to the real cause and
the inward significance of the change. To chime in with the thoughtless
optimism of the hour will do no good; but a real understanding of the
forces which have created the existing situation will reveal an
unprecedented opportunity for those who would give to the Irish mind
that full and free development which has been so long and, as I have
tried to show, so unnaturally delayed.

Among these new forces in Irish life there is one which has been greatly
misunderstood; and yet to its influence during the last few years much
of the 'transformation scene' in the drama of the Irish Question is
really due. It deserves more than a passing notice here, because, while
its aims as formulated appear somewhat restricted, it unquestionably
tends in practice towards that national object of paramount importance,
the strengthening of character. I refer to the movement known as the
Gaelic Revival. Of this movement I am myself but an outside observer,
having been forced to devote nearly all my time and energies to a
variety of attempts which aim at the doing in the industrial sphere of
very much the same work as that which the Gaelic movement attempts in
the intellectual sphere--the rehabilitation of Ireland from within. But
in the course of my work of agricultural and industrial development I
naturally came across this new intellectual force and found that when it
began to take effect, so far from diverting the minds of the peasantry
from the practical affairs of life, it made them distinctly more
amenable to the teaching of the dry economic doctrine of which I was an
apostle. The reason for this is plain enough to me now, though, like all
my theories about Ireland, the truth came to me from observation and
practical experience rather than as the result of philosophic
speculation. For the co-operative movement depended for its success upon
a two-fold achievement. In order to get it started at all, its
principles and working details had to be grasped by the Irish peasant
mind and commended to his intelligence. Its further development and its
hopes of permanence depend upon the strengthening of character, which, I
must repeat, is the foundation of all Irish progress.

The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society[28] exerts its influence--a
now established and rapidly-growing influence--mainly through the medium
of associations. The Gaelic movement, on the other hand, acts more
directly upon the individual, and the two forces are therefore in a
sense complementary to each other. Both will be seen to be playing an
important part--I should say a necessary part--in the reconstruction of
our national life. At any rate, I feel that it is necessary to my
argument that I should explain to those who are as ill-informed about
the Gaelic revival as I was myself until its practical usefulness was
demonstrated to me, what exactly seems to be the most important outcome
of the work of that movement.

The Gaelic League, which defines its objects as 'The preservation of
Irish as the national language of Ireland and the extension of its use
as a spoken tongue; the study and publication of existing Irish
literature and the cultivation of a modern literature in Irish,' was
formed in 1893. Like the Agricultural Organisation Society, the Gaelic
League is declared by its constitution to be 'strictly non-political and
non-sectarian,' and, like it, has been the object of much suspicion,
because severance from politics in Ireland has always seemed to the
politician the most active form of enmity. Its constitution, too, is
somewhat similar, being democratically guided in its policy by the
elected representatives of its affiliated branches. It is interesting to
note that the funds with which it carries on an extensive propaganda are
mainly supplied from the small contributions of the poor. It publishes
two periodicals, one weekly and another monthly. It administers an
income of some £6,000 a year, not reckoning what is spent by local
branches, and has a paid staff of eleven officers, a secretary,
treasurer, and nine organisers, together with a large number of
voluntary workers. It resembled the agricultural movement also in the
fact that it made very little headway during the first few years of its
existence. But it had a nucleus of workers with new ideas for the
intellectual regeneration of Ireland. In face of much apathy they
persisted with their propaganda, and they have at last succeeded in
making their ideas understood. So much is evident from the
rapidly-increasing number of affiliated branches of the League, which in
March, 1903, amounted to 600, almost treble the number registered two
years before. But even this does not convey any idea of the influence
which the movement exerts. Within the past year the teaching of the
Irish language has been introduced into no less than 1,300 National
Schools. In 1900 the number of schools in which Irish was taught was
only about 140. The statement that our people do not read books is
generally accepted as true, yet the sale of the League publications
during one year reached nearly a quarter of a million copies. These
results cannot be left unconsidered by anybody who wishes to understand
the psychology of the Irish mind. The movement can truly claim to have
effected the conversion of a large amount of intellectual apathy into
genuine intellectual activity.

The declared objects of the League--- the popularising of the national
language and literature--do not convey, perhaps, an adequate conception
of its actual work, or of the causes of its popularity. It seeks to
develop the intellectual, moral, and social life of the Irish people
from within, and it is doing excellent work in the cause of temperance.
Its president, Dr. Douglas Hyde, in his evidence given before the
University Commission,[29] pointed out that the success of the League
was due to its meeting the people half way; that it educated them by
giving them something which they could appreciate and assimilate; and
that it afforded a proof that people who would not respond to alien
educational systems, will respond with eagerness to something they can
call their own. The national factor in Ireland has been studiously
eliminated from national education, and Ireland is perhaps the only
country in Europe where it was part of the settled policy of those, who
had the guidance of education to ignore the literature, history, arts,
and traditions of the people. It was a fatal policy, for it obviously
tended to stamp their native country in the eyes of Irishmen with the
badge of inferiority and to extinguish the sense of healthy self-respect
which comes from the consciousness of high national ancestry and
traditions. This policy, rigidly adhered to for many years, almost
extinguished native culture among Irishmen, but it did not succeed in
making another form of culture acceptable to them. It dulled the
intelligence of the people, impaired their interest in their own
surroundings, stimulated emigration by teaching them to look on other
countries as more agreeable places to live in, and made Ireland almost a
social desert. Men and women without culture or knowledge of literature
or of music have succeeded a former generation who were passionately
interested in these things, an interest which extended down even to the
wayside cabin. The loss of these elevating influences in Irish society
probably accounts for much of the arid nature of Irish controversies,
while the reaction against their suppression has given rise to those
displays of rhetorical patriotism for which the Irish language has found
the expressive term _raimeis_, and which (thanks largely to the Gaelic
movement) most people now listen to with a painful and half-ashamed
sense of their unreality.

The Gaelic movement has brought to the surface sentiments and thoughts
which had been developed in Gaelic Ireland through hundreds of years,
and which no repression had been able to obliterate altogether, but
which still remained as a latent spiritual inheritance in the mind. And
now this stream, which has long run underground, has again emerged even
stronger than before, because an element of national self-consciousness
has been added at its re-emergence. A passionate conviction is gaining
ground that if Irish traditions, literature, language, art, music, and
culture are allowed to disappear, it will mean the disappearance of the
race; and that the education of the country must be nationalised if our
social, intellectual, or even our economic position is to be permanently
improved.

With this view of the Gaelic movement my own thoughts are in complete
accord. It is undeniable that the pride in country justly felt by
Englishmen, a pride developed by education and a knowledge of their
history, has had much to do with the industrial pre-eminence of England;
for the pioneers of its commerce have been often actuated as much by
patriotic motives as by the desire for gain. The education of the Irish
people has ignored the need for any such historical basis for pride or
love of country, and, for my part, I feel sure that the Gaelic League is
acting wisely in seeking to arouse such a sentiment, and to found it
mainly upon the ages of Ireland's story when Ireland was most Irish.

It is this expansion of the sentiment of nationality outside the domain
of party politics--the distinction, so to speak, between nationality and
nationalism--which is the chief characteristic of the Gaelic movement.
Nationality had come to have no meaning other than a political one, any
broader national sentiment having had little or nothing to feed upon.
During the last century the spirit of nationality has found no unworthy
expression in literature, in the writings of Ferguson, Standish O'Grady
and Yeats, which, however, have not been even remotely comparable in
popularity with the political journalism in prose and rhyme in which the
age has been so fruitful. It has never expressed itself in the arts, and
not only has Ireland no representative names in the higher regions of
art, but the national deficiency has been felt in every department of
industry into which design enters, and where national
art-characteristics have a commercial value. The national customs,
culture, and recreations which made the country a pleasant place to live
in, have almost disappeared, and with them one of the strongest ties
which bind people to the country of their birth. The Gaelic revival, as
I understand it, is an attempt to supply these deficiencies, to give to
Irish people a culture of their own; and I believe that by awakening the
feelings of pride, self-respect, and love of country, based on
knowledge, every department of Irish life will be invigorated.

Thus it is that the elevating influence upon the individual is exerted.
Politics have never awakened initiative among the mass of the people,
because there was no programme of action for the individual. Perhaps it
is as well for Ireland that such should have been the case, for, as it
has been shown, we have had little of the political thought which should
be at the back of political action. Political action under present
conditions must necessarily be deputed to a few representatives, and
after the vote is given or the cheering at a meeting has ceased, the
individual can do nothing but wait, and his lethargy tends to become
still deeper. In the Gaelic revival there is a programme of work for the
individual; his mind is engaged, thought begets energy, and this energy
vitalises every part of his nature. This makes for the strengthening of
character, and so far from any harm being done to the practical
movement, to which I have so often referred, the testimony of my
fellow-workers, as well as my own observation, is unanimous in affirming
that the influence of the branches of the Gaelic League is distinctly
useful whenever it is sought to move the people to industrial or
commercial activity.

Many of my political friends cannot believe--and I am afraid that
nothing that I can say will make them believe--that the movement is not
necessarily, in the political sense, separatist in its sentiment. This
impression is, in my opinion, founded on a complete misunderstanding of
Anglo-Irish history. Those who look askance at the rise of the Gaelic
movement ignore the important fact that there has never been any
essential opposition between the English connection and Irish
nationality. The Elizabethan chiefs of the sixteenth and the Gaelic
poets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the relations
between the two countries were far worse than they are to-day, knew
nothing of this opposition. The true sentiment of nationality is a
priceless heritage of every small nation which has done great things,
and had it not largely perished in Ireland, separatist sentiment, the
offspring, not of Irish nationality, but of Irish political nationalism,
could hardly have survived until to-day.

But undoubtedly we strike here on a danger to the Gaelic movement, so
far at least as that movement is bound up with the future of the Gaelic
League; a danger which cannot be left out of account in any estimate of
this new force in Irish life. The continuance of the League as a
beneficent force, or indeed a force at all, seems to me, as in the case
of the co-operative organisation to which I have compared it, to be
vitally dependent on a scrupulous observance of that part of its
constitution which keeps the door open to Irishmen of every creed or
political party. Only thus can the League remain a truly national body,
and attract from all classes Irishmen who are capable of forwarding its
true policy. I do not think there is much danger of a spirit of
sectarian exclusiveness developing itself in a body mainly composed of
Roman Catholics whose President is a Protestant. But it cannot be denied
that there has been an occasional tendency to interpret the 'no
politics' clause of the constitution in a manner which seems hardly fair
to Unionists or even to constitutional Home Rulers who may have joined
the organisation on the strength of its declaration of political
neutrality. If this is not a mere transitory phenomenon its effect will
be serious. As a political body the League would immediately sink into
insignificance and probably disappear amid a crowd of contending
factions. It would certainly cease to fulfil its great function of
creating a nationality of the thought and spirit, in which all Irishmen
who wish to be anything else than English colonists might aspire to
share. Its early successes in bringing together men of different
political views were remarkable. At the very outset of its career it
enlisted the support of so militant a politician as the late Rev. R.R.
Kane, who declared that though a Unionist and an Orangeman he had no
desire to forget that he was an O'Cahan. On this basis it is difficult
to set a limit to the fruitfulness of the work which this organisation
might do for Ireland, and I cannot regard any who would depart from the
letter and spirit of its constitution as sincere, or if sincere as wise,
friends of the movement with which they are associated.

Of minor importance are certain extravagances in the conduct of the
movement which time and practical experience can hardly fail to correct.
I have borne witness to the value of the cultivation of the language
even from my own practical standpoint, but I cannot think that to sign
cheques in Irish, and get angry when those who cannot understand will
not honour them, is a good way of demonstrating that value. I should,
speaking generally, regard it as a mistake, supposing it were
practicable, to substitute Irish for English in the conduct of business.
If any large development of the trade in pampooties, turf and potheen
between the Aran Islands and the mainland were in contemplation, this
attempt might be justified. But on behalf of those Philistines who
attach paramount importance to the development of Irish industry, trade
and commerce on a large and comprehensive scale, I should regret a
course which, from a business point of view, would be about as wise as
the advocacy of distinctive Irish currency, weights and measures. And I
protest more strongly against the reasons which have been given to me
for this policy. I have been told that, in order to generate sufficient
enthusiasm, a young movement of the kind must adopt a rigorous
discipline and an aggressive policy. Not only are we thus confronted
with a false issue, but by giving countenance to the outward acceptance
of what the better sense rejects, these over-zealous leaguers are
administering to the Irish character the very poison which all Irish
movements should combine to eliminate from the national life.

The position which I have given to the Gaelic Revival among the new
influences at work and making for progress in Ireland will hardly be
understood by those who have never embraced the idea of combining all
such forces in a constructive and comprehensive scheme of national
advancement. One instance of the potential utility of the Gaelic League
will appeal to those of my readers who attach as much importance as I do
to the improvement of the peasant home. Concerted action to this end is
being planned while I write. It is proposed to take a few districts
where the peasants are members of one of the new co-operative societies,
and where the clergy have taken a keen interest in the economic and
social advancement of the members of the Society, but where the cottages
are in the normal condition. The new Department will lend the services
of its domestic economy teachers. The Organisation Society, the clergy,
and the Department thus working together will, I hope, be able to get
the people of the selected districts to effect an improvement in their
domestic surroundings which will act as an invaluable example for other
districts to follow. But in order that this much needed contribution to
the well-being of the peasant proprietary, upon which all our thoughts
are just now concentrated, may be assisted with the enthusiasm which
belongs in Ireland to a consciously national effort, it is hoped that
common action with the Gaelic League may be possible, so that this force
also may be enlisted in the solution of this part of our central
problem, the rehabilitation of rural life in Ireland.

It is, however, on more general grounds that I have, albeit as an
outside observer, watched with some anxiety and much gratification the
progress of the Gaelic Revival. In the historical evolution of the Irish
mind we find certain qualities atrophied, so to speak, by disuse; and to
this cause I attribute the past failures of the race in practical life
at home. I have shown how politics, religion, and our systems of
education have all, in their respective influences upon the people,
missed to a large extent, the effect upon character which they should
have made it their paramount duty to produce. Nevertheless, whenever the
intellect of the people is appealed to by those who know its past, a
recuperative power is manifested which shows that its vitality has not
been irredeemably impaired. It is because I believe that, on the whole,
a right appeal has been made by the Gaelic League that I have borne
testimony to its patriotic endeavours.

The question of the Gaelic Revival seems to be really a form of the
eternal question of the interdependence of the practical and the ideal
in Ireland. Their true relation to each other is one of the hardest
lessons the student of our problems has to learn. I recall an incident
in the course of my own studies which I will here recount, as it appears
to me to furnish an admirable illustration of this difficulty as it
presented itself to a very interesting mind. During the years covering
the rise and fall of Parnell, when interest in the Irish Question was at
its zenith, the newspapers of the United States kept in London a corps
of very able correspondents, who watched and reported to their
transatlantic readers every move in the Home Rule campaign. An American
public, by no means limited to the American-Irish, devoured every morsel
of this intelligence with an avidity which could not have been surpassed
if the United States had been engaged in a war with Great Britain. Among
these correspondents perhaps the most brilliant was the late Harold
Frederic. Not many months before he died I received a letter from him,
in which he said that, although we were unknown to each other, he
thought, from some public utterances of mine, that we must have many
views in common. He had often intended to get an introduction to me, and
now suggested that we should 'waive things and meet.' We met and spent
an evening together, which left some deep impressions on my mind. He
told me that the Irish Question possessed for him a fascination for
which he could give no rational explanation. He had absolutely no tie of
blood or material interest with Ireland, and his friendship for it had
brought him the only quarrels in which he had ever been engaged.

What chiefly interested me in Harold Frederic's philosophy of the Irish
Question was that he had arrived at a diagnosis of the Irish mind not
substantially different from my own. Since that evening I have come
across a passage in one of his novels, which clothes in delightful
language his view of the chaotic psychology of the Celt:

     There, in Ireland, you get a strange mixture of elementary early
     peoples, walled off from the outer world by the four seas, and
     free to work out their own racial amalgam on their own lines. They
     brought with them at the outset a great inheritance of Eastern
     mysticism. Others lost it, but the Irish, all alone on their
     island, kept it alive and brooded on it, and rooted their whole
     spiritual side in it. Their religion is full of it; their blood is
     full of it.... The Ireland of two thousand years ago is incarnated
     in her. They are the merriest people and the saddest, the most
     turbulent and the most docile, the most talented and the most
     unproductive, the most practical and the most visionary, the most
     devout and the most pagan. These impossible contradictions war
     ceaselessly in their blood.[30]

In our conversation what struck me most was the influence which politics
had exercised even on his philosophic mind, notwithstanding a low
estimate of our political leaders. In one of a series of three notable
articles upon the Irish Question, which appeared anonymously in the
_Fortnightly Review_[31] in the winter of 1893-4, and of which he told
me he was the writer, he had given a character sketch of what he called
'The Rhetoricians.' Their performances since the Union were summarised
in the phrase 'a century of unremitting gabble,' and he regarded it as a
sad commentary on Irish life that such brilliant talents so largely ran
to waste in destructive criticism.

I naturally turned the conversation on to my own line of thought, and
discussed the practical conclusions to which his studies had led him. I
tried to elicit from him exactly what he had in his mind when, in one of
the articles to which I have referred, he advocated 'a reconstruction of
Ireland on distinctive national lines.' I hoped to find that his
psychological study of my countrymen would enable him to throw some
light upon the means by which play could be given at home to the latent
capacities of the race. I found that he was in entire accord with my
view, that the chief difficulty in the way of constructive statesmanship
was the defect in the Irish character about which I have said so much. I
was prepared for that conclusion, for I had already seen the lack of
initiative admirably appreciated in the following illuminating sentence
of his:--'The Celt will help someone else to do the thing that other has
in mind, and will help him with great zeal and devotion; but he will not
start to do the thing he himself has thought of.'[32] But I was
disappointed when he bade me his first and last good-bye that I had not
convinced him that there was any way out of the Irish difficulty other
than political changes, for which, at the same time, he appeared to
think the people singularly unfitted.

The fact is we had arrived at the point where the student of Irish life
usually finds himself in a _cul de sac_. If he has accurately observed
the conditions, he is face to face with a problem which appears to be in
its nature insoluble. For at every turn he finds things being done wrong
which might so easily be done right, only that nobody is concerned that
they should be done right. And what is worse, when he has learned, in
the course of his investigations, to discount the picturesque
explanation of our unsuccess in practical life which in Ireland veils
the unpleasant truth, he will find that the people are quite aware of
their defects, although they attribute them to causes beyond their power
to remove. Then, too, the sympathetic inquirer is shocked by the lack of
seriousness in it all. With all their past griefs and their high
aspirations, the Irish people seem to be play-acting before the world.
The inquirer does not, perhaps, reflect that, if play-acting be
inconsistent with the deepest emotions, and with the pursuit of high
ideals, then he condemns a little over one half of the human race.[33]
He probably comes to the main conclusion adopted in these pages, and
realises that the Irish Question is a problem of character. And as Irish
character is the product of Irish history, which cannot be re-enacted,
he leaves the problem there. Harold Frederic left it there, and there it
has been taken up by those whose endeavour forms the story which I have
to tell.

I now come to the principles which, it appears to me, must underlie the
solution of this problem. The narrative contained in the second part of
this book is a record of the efforts made during the last decade of the
nineteenth and the first two years of the twentieth century by a small,
but now rapidly augmenting group of Irishmen, to pluck the brand of
Irish intellect from the burning of the Irish Question. The problem
before us was, my readers will now understand, how to make headway in
view of the weakness of character to which I have had to attribute the
paralysis of our activities in the past. We were quite aware that our
progress would at first be slow. But as we were satisfied that the
defects of character which stood in the way of economic advancement were
due to causes which need no longer be operative, and that the intellect
of the people was unimpaired, we faced the problem with confidence.

The practical form which our work took was the launching upon Irish life
of a movement of organised self-help, and the subsequent grafting upon
this movement of a system of State-aid to the agriculture and industries
of the country. I need not here further elaborate this programme, for
the steps by which it has been and is being adopted will be presently
described in detail. But there is one aspect of the new movement in
Ireland which must be understood by those who would grasp the true
significance and the human interest of an evolution in our national
life, the only recent parallel for which, as far as I am aware, is to be
found in Japan: though to my mind the conscious attempt of the Irish
people to develop a civilisation of their own is far more interesting
than the recent efforts of the Japanese to westernise their
institutions.

The problem of mind and character with which we had to deal in Ireland
presented this central and somewhat discouraging fact. In practical life
the Irish had failed where the English had succeeded, and this was
attributed to the lack of certain English qualities which have been
undoubtedly essential to success in commerce and in industry from the
days of the industrial revolution until a comparatively recent date. It
was the individualism of the English economic system during this period
which made these qualities indispensable. The lack of these qualities in
Irishmen to-day may be admitted, and the cause of the deficiency has
been adequately explained. But those who regard the Irish situation as
industrially hopeless probably ignore the fact that there are other
qualities, of great and growing importance under modern economic
conditions, which can be developed in Irishmen and may form the basis of
an industrial system. I refer to the range of qualities which come into
play rather in association than in the individual, and to which the term
'associative' is applied.[34] So that although much disparaging
criticism of Irish character is based upon the survival in the Celt of
the tribal instincts, it is gratifying to be able to show that even from
the practical English point of view, our preference for thinking and
working in groups may not be altogether a _damnosa hereditas_. If, owing
to our deficiency in the individualistic qualities of the English, we
cannot at this stage hope to produce many types of the 'economic man' of
the economists, we think we see our way to provide, as a substitute, the
economic association. If the association succeeds, and by virtue of its
financial success becomes permanent, a great change will, in our
opinion, be produced on the character of its members. The reflex action
upon the individual mind of the habit of doing, in association with
others, things which were formerly left undone, or badly done, may be
relied upon to have a tonic effect upon the character of the individual.
This is, I suppose, the secret of discipline, which, though apparently
eliminating volition, seems in weak characters to strengthen the will.

There is, too, as we have learned, in the association a strange
influence which develops qualities and capacities that one would not
expect on a mere consideration of the character of its members. This
psychological phenomenon has been admirably and most entertainingly
discussed by the French psychologist, Le Bon,[35] who, in the attractive
pursuit of paradox, almost goes to the length of the proposition that
the association inherently possesses qualities the opposite of those
possessed by its members. My own experience--and I have had
opportunities of observing hundreds of associations formed by my friends
upon the principles above laid down--does not carry me quite so far.
But, unquestionably, the association in Ireland does often become an
entity as distinct from the individualities of which it is composed, as
is a new chemical compound from its constituent elements.

Associations of the kind we had in our minds, which were to be primarily
for purely business purposes, were bound to have many collateral
effects. They would open up outside of politics and religion, but not in
conflict with either, a sphere of action where an independence new to
the country would have to be exercised. In Ireland public opinion is
under an obsession which, whether political, religious, historical, or
all three combined, is probably unique among civilised peoples. Until
the last few years, for example, it was our habit--one which immensely
weakened the influence of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament--to form
extravagant estimates of men, exalting and abasing them with irrational
caprice, not according to their qualities so much as by their attitude
towards the passion of the hour. The ups and downs of the reputations of
Lord Spencer and Mr. Arthur Balfour in Ireland are a sufficient
illustration of our disregard of the old Latin proverb which tells us
that no man ever became suddenly altogether bad. Even now public opinion
is too prone to attach excessive value to projects of vague and
visionary development, and to underrate the importance of serious
thought and quiet work, which can be the only solid foundation of our
national progress. In these new associations--humble indeed in their
origin, but destined to play a large part in the people's
lives--projects, professing to be fraught with economic benefit, have to
be judged by the cruel precision of audited balance sheets, and the
worth of men is measured by the solid contribution they have made to the
welfare of the community.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have now accomplished one long stage of my journey towards the
conclusion of this discussion of the needs of modern Ireland. Were I to
stop here, probably most of those who had been induced to open yet
another book upon the Irish Question would accuse me, and not without
justice, of being responsible for a barren graft upon a barren
controversy. I fear no such criticism, whatever other shortcomings may
be detected, from those who have the patience to read on. For when I
pass from my own reflections to record the work to which many thousands
of my countrymen have addressed themselves in building up the Ireland of
the twentieth century, I shall have a story to tell which must inspire
hope in all who can be persuaded that Ireland in the past has not often
been treated fairly and has never been understood. I have shown--and it
was necessary to show, if a repetition of misunderstanding was to be
avoided--that the Irish people themselves are gravely responsible for
the ills of their country, and that the forces which have mainly
governed their action hitherto are rapidly bringing about their
disappearance as a distinct nationality. But I shall now have to tell of
the widespread and growing adoption of certain new principles of action
which I believe to be consonant with the genius and traditions of the
race, and the acceptance of which seems to me vitally necessary if the
Irish people are to play a worthy part in the future history of the
world. That part is a far greater one than they could ever hope to play
as an independent and separate State, yet their success in playing it
must closely depend upon their remaining a distinct nationality, in the
sense so clearly and wisely indicated by his Majesty when, in his reply
to the address of the Belfast Corporation, he spoke of the 'national
characteristics and ideals' which he desired his kingdoms to cherish in
the midst of their imperial unity.[36] The great experiment which I am
about to relate is, in its own province, one of the many applications
which we see around us of the conception here put forward. And I believe
that a few more years of quiet work by those who are taking part in this
movement, with its appeal to Irish intellect, and its reliance upon
Irish patriotism, is all that is needed to prove that by developing the
industrial qualities of the Celt on associative lines we can in politics
as well as in economics, add strength to the Irish character without
making it less Irish or less attractive than of old.

FOOTNOTES:

[28] This body is fully described in the next chapter.

[29] See Appendix to Third Report, p. 311.

[30] _The Damnation of Theron Ware_. This was the title of the book I
read in the United States. I am told he published it in England under
the title of _Illuminations_--a nice discrimination!

[31] They appeared under the signature of 'X.' in Nov. and Dec., 1893,
and Jan., 1894.

[32] _Fortnightly Review_, Jan. 1894, pp. 11, 12.

[33] The difficulties of the writer who is not a writer are great. I
sent this chapter to two literary friends, one of whom, with the help of
a globe, disputed my accuracy in a learned ethnological disquisition
with which he favoured me. The other warned me to be even more obscure
and sent me the following verses, addressed by 'Cynicus' (J.K. Stephen)
to Shakespeare,

"You wrote a line too much, my sage, Of seers the first, the first of
sayers; For only half the world's a stage, And only all the women
players."



[34] These qualities, as will be explained later, happen to have a
special economic value in the farming industry, and so are available for
the elevation of rural life, with whose problems we are now so deeply
concerned in Ireland. Their applicability to urban life need not be
discussed here. But my study of the co-operative movement in England has
convinced me that, if the English had the associative instincts of the
Irish, that movement would play a part in English life more commensurate
with its numerical strength and the volume of its commercial
transactions, than can be claimed for it so far.

[35] _La Psychologie de la Foule_.

[36] July 27th, 1903,--His Majesty thus confirmed the striking utterance
of imperial policy contained in Lord Dudley's speech to the Incorporated
Law Society, on the 20th of November, 1902. His Excellency, after
protesting against the conception of empire as a 'huge regiment' in
which each nation was to lose its individuality, said--"Lasting
strength, lasting loyalty, are not to be secured by any attempt to force
into one system or to remould into one type those special
characteristics which are the outcome of a nation's history and of her
religious and social conditions, but rather by a full recognition of the
fact that these very characteristics form an essential part of a
nation's life; and that under wise guidance and under sympathetic
treatment they will enable her to provide her own contribution and to
play her own special part in the life of the empire to which she
belongs."



PART II.

_PRACTICAL_.


"For a country so attractive and a people so gifted we cherish the
warmest regard, and it is, therefore, with supreme satisfaction that I
have during our stay so often heard the hope expressed that a brighter
day is dawning upon Ireland. I shall eagerly await the fulfilment of
this hope. Its realisation will, under Divine Providence, depend largely
upon the steady development of self-reliance and co-operation, upon
better and more practical education, upon the growth of industrial and
commercial enterprise, and upon that increase of mutual toleration and
respect which the responsibility my Irish people now enjoy in the public
administration of their local affairs is well-fitted to
teach."--_Message of the King to the Irish People_, 1st August, 1903.



CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW MOVEMENT: ITS FOUNDATION ON SELF-HELP.


The movement for the reorganisation of Irish agricultural and industrial
life, to which I have already frequently referred, must now be described
in practical operation. Before I do this, however, there are two lines
of criticism which the very mention of a new movement may suggest, and
which I must anticipate. Every year has its tale of new movements,
launched by estimable persons whose philanthropic zeal is not balanced
by the judgment required to discriminate between schemes which possess
the elements of permanence, and those which depend upon the enthusiasm
or financial support of their promoters, and are in their nature
ephemeral. There is, consequently, a widespread and well justified
mistrust of novel schemes for the industrial regeneration of Ireland. I
confess to having had my ingenuity severely taxed on some occasions to
find a sympathetic circumlocution wherewith to show cause for declining
to join a new movement, my real reason being an inward conviction that
nothing except resolutions would be moved. In the complex problem of
building up the economic and social life of a people with such a
history as ours, we must resist the temptation to multiply schemes
which, however well intended, are but devices for enabling individuals
to devolve their responsibilities upon the community or upon the
Government, and which owe their bubble reputation and brief popularity
to this unconscious humouring of our chief national defect. On the
contrary, we must seek to instil into the mind of each individual the
too little recognised importance of his own contribution to the sum of
national achievement. The building of character must be our paramount
object, as it is the condition precedent of all social and economic
reform in Ireland. To explain the principles by the observance of which
the agency of the association may be utilised as an economic force,
while at the same time the industrial character of the individual may be
developed, was one of the chief aims I had in view in the foregoing
analysis of the Irish mind and character, as they have emerged from
history and are stunted in their growth by present influences. The facts
about to be recited will, I hope, suffice to prove that the reformer in
Ireland, if he has a true insight into the great human problem with
which he is dealing, may find in the association not only a healthy
stimulus to national activities, but also a means whereby the assistance
of the State may be so invoked and applied that it will concentrate, and
not dissipate, the energies of the people.

The other criticism which I think it necessary to anticipate would, if
ignored, leave room for a wrong impression as to much of the work which
is being done both on the self-help and on the State-aid sides of the
new movement. Education, it will be said, is the only real solvent to
the range of problems discussed in this book, most other agencies of
social and economic reform being of doubtful efficacy and, if they tend
to postpone educational effort, positively harmful. There is much truth
in this view. But it must be remembered that the backward condition of
our economic life is due mainly to the fact that our educational systems
have had little regard to our history or economic circumstances. We
must, therefore, at this stage in our national development give to
education a much wider interpretation than that which is usually applied
to the term. We cannot wait for a generation to grow up which has been
given an education calculated to fit it for the modern economic
struggle, even if there were any probability that the necessary reforms
would soon be carried against the prejudices which are aroused by any
proposal to train the minds, or even the hands and eyes, of the rising
generation. In the meantime much of the work, both voluntary and
State-aided, now initiated in Ireland, must consist of educating adults
to introduce into their business concerns the more advanced economic and
scientific methods which the superior education of our rivals in
agriculture and industry abroad has enabled them to adopt, and which my
experience of Irish work convinces me our people would have adopted long
ago if they had had similar educational advantages. And I would further
point out that there is no better way of promoting the reform of
education in the ordinary, the pedagogic, sense, than by bringing to
bear upon the minds of parents those educational influences which are
calculated to convince them of the advantage of improved practical
education for their children. So to the economist and to the
educationist alike I would submit that the new work of economic and
social reform should be judged as a whole, and not prejudged by that
hypercriticism of details which ignores the fact that the conditions
with which it is attempted to deal are wholly unprecedented. I am quite
content that the movement which I am about to describe should be
ultimately known and judged by its fruits. Meanwhile, I think that to
the intelligent critic it will sufficiently justify its existence if it
continues to exist.

       *       *       *       *       *

The story of the new movement, which must now be told, begins in the
year 1889, when a few Irishmen, the writer of these pages among them,
set themselves the task of bringing home to the rural population of
Ireland the fact that their prosperity was in their own hands much more
than they were generally led to believe. I have already pointed out that
in order to direct the Irish mind towards practical affairs and in order
effectively to arouse and apply the latent capacities of the Irish
people to their chief industry, agriculture, we must rely upon
associative, as distinct from individual effort; or, in other words, we
must get the people to do their business together rather than
separately as the English do. Fortunately for us, it happened that this
course, which was clearly indicated by the character and temperament of
the people, was equally prescribed by economic considerations. The
population and wealth of Ireland are, I need hardly say, so
predominantly agricultural that the welfare of the country must depend
upon the welfare of the farming classes. It is notorious that the
industry by which these classes live has for the last quarter of a
century become less and less profitable. It is also recognised that the
prime cause of agricultural depression, foreign competition, is not
likely to be removed, while that from the colonies is likely to
increase. The extraordinary development of rapid and cheap transit,
together with recently invented processes of preservation, have enabled
the more favoured producers in the newly developed countries of both
hemispheres successfully to enter into competition in the British
markets with the farmers of these islands. The agricultural producers in
other European countries, although to some extent protected by tariffs,
have had to face similar conditions; but in most of these countries,
though not in the United Kingdom, the farmers have so changed their
methods, to meet the altered circumstances, that they seem to have
gained by improvement at home as much as they have lost by competition
from abroad Thus our farmers find themselves harassed first by the
cheaper production from vast tracts of virgin soil in the uttermost
parts of the earth, and secondly by a nearer and keener competition
from the better organised and better educated producers of the
Continent.

While the opening up of what the economists call the 'world market,' has
necessitated, as a condition of successful competition, improved methods
of production for, and carriage to, the market, a third and less obvious
force has effected an important change in the method of distribution in
the market. The swarming populations, which the factory system has
brought together in industrial centres, have to be supplied with food by
a system of distribution which must above all things be expeditious.
This requirement can only be met by the regular consignment of food in
large quantities, of such uniform quality that the sample can be relied
upon to be truly indicative of the quality of the bulk. Thus the rapid
distribution of produce in the markets becomes as important a factor in
agricultural economy as improved methods of production or cheap and
expeditious carriage.

Now this new market condition is being met in two ways. In the United
States, and, in a less marked degree, at home, an army of middlemen
between the producer and the consumer attends to this business for a
share of the profits accruing from it, whilst in many parts of the
Continent the farmers themselves attend, partially at any rate, to the
business side of their industry instead of paying others to do it all
for them. I say all, for middlemen are necessary at the distributive
end: but it is absolutely essential, in a country like Ireland, that at
the producing end the farmers should be so organised that they
themselves can manage the first stages of distribution, and exercise
some control over the middlemen who do the rest. The foreign
agricultural producers have long been alive to this necessity, for their
superior education enabled them to grasp the economic situation and even
to realise that the matter is not one of acute political controversy.

Here, then, was a definite practical problem to the solution of which
the promoters of the new movement could apply their principle of
co-operative effort. The more we studied the question the more apparent
it became that the enormous advantage which the Continental farmers had
over the Irish farmers, both in production and in distribution, was due
to superior organisation combined with better education. State-aid had
no doubt done a great deal abroad, but in every case it was manifest
that it had been preceded, or at least accompanied, by the organised
voluntary effort without which the interference of the Government with
the business of the people is simply demoralising.

Generally speaking, the task before us in Ireland was the adaptation to
the special circumstances of our country of methods successfully pursued
by communities similarly situated in foreign countries. We had to urge
upon farmers that combination was just as necessary to their economic
salvation as it was recognised to be by their own class, and by those
engaged in other industries, elsewhere. They must combine, so we urged
on them, for example, to buy their agricultural requirements at the
cheapest rate and of the best quality in order to produce more
efficiently and more economically; they must combine to avail themselves
of improved appliances beyond the reach of individual producers, whether
it be by the erection of creameries, for which there was urgent need, or
of cheese factories and jam factories which might come later; or in
ordinary farm operations, to secure the use of the latest agricultural
machinery and the most suitable pure-bred stock; they must combine--not
to abolish middle profits in distribution, whether those of the carrying
companies or those of the dealers in agricultural produce--but to keep
those profits within reasonable limits, and to collect in bulk and
regularise consignments so that they could be carried and marketed at a
moderate cost; they must combine, as we afterwards learned, for the
purpose of creating, by mutual support, the credit required to bring in
the fresh working capital which each new development of their industry
would demand and justify. In short, whenever and wherever the
individuals in a farming community could be brought to see that they
might advantageously substitute associated for isolated production or
distribution, they must be taught to form themselves into associations
in order to reap the anticipated advantages.

This brief statement of our general aims will furnish a rough idea of
the economic propaganda which we initiated, and if I give a few
illustrations of the practical application of the new principle to the
farming industry, I shall have done all that will be required to leave
on the reader's mind a true though perhaps an incomplete impression of
the character and scope of the self-help side of the new movement. I
shall first give a sketch of the unrecorded struggles of its pioneers,
because these struggles prove to those engaged in social and economic
work in Ireland that, in the wholly abnormal condition of our national
life, no project which is theoretically sound need be rejected because
everybody says it is impracticable. The work of the morrow will largely
consist of the impossible of to-day. If this adds to the difficulty, it
also adds to the fun.

When we arrived at the conclusion that the introduction of the principle
of agricultural co-operation was a vital necessity, the first practical
question which had to be decided was how the industrial army, which was
to do battle for Ireland's position in the world market, should be
organised and disciplined for the task. It is evident that before a body
of men who have never worked together can form a successful commercial
combination, they must be provided with a constitution and set of rules
and regulations for the conduct of their business. These must be so
skilfully contrived that they will harmonise all the interests involved.
And when an arrangement has been come to which is, not only in fact but
also obviously, equitable, it remains as part of the process of
organisation to teach the participants in the new project the meaning,
and to imbue them with the spirit, of the joint enterprise into which
they have been persuaded to enter with perhaps no very clear
understanding of all that is involved. There were in Ireland no
precedents to guide us and no examples to follow, but the co-operative
movement in England appeared to furnish most of the principles involved
and a perfect machinery for their application.[37] So Lord Monteagle and
Mr. R.A. Anderson, my first two associates in the New Movement, joined
me as regular attendants at the annual Co-operative congresses. We were
assiduous seekers after information at the head-quarters of the
Co-operative Union in Manchester. We had the good fortune to fall in
with Vansittart Neale, and Tom Hughes, both of whom have passed away,
and with Mr. Holyoake, who, with the exception of Mr. Ludlow, is now the
sole survivor of that noble group of practical philanthropists, the
Christian Socialists. Mr. J.C. Gray, who succeeded Mr. Vansittart Neale
as the General Secretary of the Co-operative Union, gave us invaluable
help and continues to do so to this day. The leaders of the English
movement sympathised with our efforts. The Union paid us the compliment
of constituting our first converts its Irish Section. Liberal support
was given out of the central English funds towards the cost of the
missionary work which was to spread co-operative light in the sister
isle. We can never forget the generosity of the workingmen in England in
giving their aid to the Irish farmers, especially when it is remembered
that they had no sanguine anticipations for the success of our efforts
and no prospect of advantages to themselves if we did succeed.

It must be admitted that the outlook was not altogether rosy.
Agricultural co-operation had never succeeded in England, where it
seemed to be accepted as one of the disappointing limitations of the
co-operative movement that it did not apply to rural communities in
these islands. There were also in Ireland the peculiar difficulties
arising from ceaseless political and agrarian agitation. It was
naturally asked--did Irish farmers possess the qualities out of which
co-operators are made? Had they commercial experience or business
education? Had they business capacity? Would they display that
confidence in each other which is essential to successful association,
or indeed that confidence in themselves without which there can be no
business enterprise? Could they ever be induced to form themselves into
societies, and to adopt, and loyally adhere to those rules and
regulations by which alone equitable distribution of the responsibility
and profit among the participants in the joint undertaking can be
assured, and harmony and successful working be rendered possible? Then,
our best-informed Irish critics assured us that voluntary association
for humdrum business purposes, devoid of some religious or political
incentive, was alien to the Celtic temperament and that we should wear
ourselves out crying in the wilderness. We were told that Irishmen can
conspire but cannot combine. Economists assured us that even if we
succeeded in getting farmers to embark on the projected enterprises,
financial disaster would be the inevitable result of our attempts to
substitute in industrial undertakings, ever becoming more technical and
requiring more and more commercial knowledge and experience, democratic
management for one-man control.

On the other hand there were some favouring conditions, the importance
of which our studies of the human problems already discussed will have
made my readers realise. Isolated, the Irish farmer is conservative,
sceptical of innovations, a believer in routine and tradition. In union
with his fellows, he is progressive, open to ideas, and wonderfully keen
at grasping the essential features of any new proposal for his
advancement. He was, then, himself eminently a subject for co-operative
treatment, and his circumstances were equally so. The smallness of his
holding, the lack of capital, and the backwardness of his methods made
him helpless in competition with his rivals abroad. The process of
organisation was also, to some extent, facilitated by the insight the
people had been given by the Land League into the power of combination,
and by the education they had received in the conduct of meetings. It
was a great advantage that there was a machinery ready at hand for
getting people together, and a procedure fully understood for giving
expression to the sense of the meeting. On the other hand, the
domination of a powerful central body, which was held to be essential to
the success of the political and agrarian movement, had exercised an
influence which added enormously to the difficulty of getting the people
to act on their own initiative.

Though the economic conditions of the Irish farmer clearly indicated a
need for the application of co-operative effort to all branches of his
industry, it was necessary at the beginning to embrace a more limited
aim. It happened at the time we commenced our Irish work that one branch
of farming, the dairying industry, presented features admirably adapted
to our methods. This industry was, so to speak, ripe for its industrial
development, for its change from a home to a factory industry. New
machinery, costly but highly efficient, had enabled the factory product,
notably that of Denmark and Sweden, to compete successfully with the
home-made article, both in quality and cost of production. Here, it will
be observed, was an opportunity for an experiment in co-operative
production, under modern industrial conditions, which would put the
associative qualities of the Irish farmer to a test which the British
artisan had not stood quite as well as the founders of the co-operative
movement had anticipated. To add to the interest of the situation,
capitalists had seized upon the material advantages which the abundant
supply of Irish milk afforded, and the green pastures of the "Golden
Vein" were studded with snow white creameries which proclaimed the
transfer of this great Irish industry from the tiller of the soil to the
man of commerce. The new-comers secured the milk of the district by
giving the farmer much more for his milk than it was worth to him, so
long as he pursued the old methods of home manufacture. This induced
farmers to go out of the butter-making business. After a while the price
was reduced, and the proprietor, finding it necessary to give the
suppliers only what they could make out of their milk without his modern
equipment, realised profits altogether out of proportion to his share of
the capital embarked or the labour involved in the production of the
butter.

The economic position was ideal for our purpose, and we had no
difficulty in explaining it to the farmers themselves. The social
problem was the real difficulty. To all suggestions of co-operative
action they at first opposed a hopeless _non possumus_. Their objections
may be summed up thus:--They had never combined for any business
purpose. How could they trust the Committee they were asked to elect
from amongst themselves to expend their money and conduct their
business? It was all very well for the proprietor with his ample
capital, free hand, and business experience, to work with complicated
machinery and to consign his butter out of the reach of the local butter
buyer, and to save the waste and delay of the local butter market. But
they knew nothing of the business and would only make fools of
themselves. The promoters--they were not putting anything into the
scheme--how much did they intend to take out?[38]

There was nothing in this attitude of mind which we had not fully
anticipated. We were confident that, as we were on sound economic
ground, no matter what difficulties might confront us it was only a
question of time for the attainment of our ends. All that was required
was that we should keep pegging away. My own experience was not
encouraging at first. I was, and am, a poor speaker, and in Ireland a
man who cannot express his thoughts with facility, whether he has got
them or not, accentuates the difficulties under which a prophet labours
in his own country. I made up for my deficiencies in the first essential
of Irish public life by engaging a very eloquent political speaker, the
late Mr. Mulhallen Marum, M.P., to stump the country. He gave to the
propaganda a relish which my prosaic economics altogether lacked. The
nationalist band sometimes came out to meet him. We all know the
efficiency of the drum in politics and religion, but it seemed to me a
little out of place in economics. However, he created an excellent
impression, but unhappily he died of heart disease before he had
attended more than three or four meetings. This was a severe blow to us,
and we toiled away under some temporary discouragement. My own diary
records attendance at fifty meetings before a single society had
resulted therefrom. It was weary work for a long time. These gatherings
were miserable affairs compared with those which greeted our political
speakers. On one occasion the agricultural community was represented by
the Dispensary Doctor, the Schoolmaster, and the Sergeant of Police.
Sometimes, in spite of copious advertising of the meeting, the prosaic
nature of the objects had got abroad, and nobody met.

Mr. Anderson, who sometimes accompanied me and sometimes went his rounds
alone, had similar experiences. I may quote a passage from some of his
reminiscences, recently published in the _Irish Homestead_, the organ of
the co-operative movement in Ireland.

     It was hard and thankless work. There was the apathy of the people
     and the active opposition of the Press and the politicians. It
     would be hard to say now whether the abuse of the Conservative
     _Cork Constitution_ or that of the Nationalist _Eagle_, of
     Skibbereen, was the louder. We were "killing the calves," we were
     "forcing the young women to emigrate," we were "destroying the
     industry." Mr. Plunkett was described as a "monster in human
     shape," and was adjured to "cease his hellish work." I was
     described as his "Man Friday" and as "Rough-rider Anderson." Once,
     when I thought I had planted a Creamery within the precincts of the
     town of Rathkeale, my co-operative apple-cart was upset by a local
     solicitor who, having elicited the fact that our movement
     recognised neither political nor religious differences--that the
     Unionist-Protestant cow was as dear to us as her
     Nationalist-Catholic sister--gravely informed me that our programme
     would not suit Rathkeale. "Rathkeale," said he, pompously, "is a
     Nationalist town--Nationalist to the backbone--and every pound of
     butter made in this Creamery must be made on Nationalist
     principles, or it shan't be made at all." This sentiment was
     applauded loudly, and the proceedings terminated.

On another occasion a similar project was abandoned because the flow of
water to the disused mill which it was proposed to convert into a
creamery, passed through a conduit lined with cement originally
purchased from a man who now occupied a farm from which another had been
evicted. To some minds these little complications would have spelled
failure. To my associates they but accentuated the need for the movement
which they had so laboriously thought out, and the very nature of the
difficulties confirmed them in their belief that the economic doctrine
they were preaching was adapted to meet the requirements of the case.
And so the event proved.

In the year 1894 the movement had gathered volume to such an
extent--although the societies then numbered but one for every twenty
that are in existence to-day--that it became beyond the power of a few
individuals to direct its further progress. In April of that year a
meeting was held in Dublin to inaugurate the Irish Agricultural
Organisation Society, Ltd. (now commonly known as the I.A.O.S.), which
was to be the analogue of the Co-operative Union in England. In the
first instance it was to consist of philanthropic persons, but its
constitution provided for the inclusion in its membership of the
societies which had already been created and those which it would itself
create as time went on. It had, and has to-day, a thoroughly
representative Committee. I was elected the first President, a position
which I held until I entered official life, when Lord Monteagle, a
practical philanthropist if ever there was one, became my successor.
Father Finlay, who joined the movement in 1892, and who has devoted the
extraordinary influence which he possesses over the rural population of
Ireland to the dissemination of our economic principles, became
Vice-President. Both he and Lord Monteagle have been annually re-elected
ever since.

The growth of the movement in the last nine years under the fostering
care of the I.A.O.S. is highly satisfactory. By the autumn of this year
(1903) considerably over eight hundred societies had been established,
and the number is ever growing; of these 360 were dairy, and 140
agricultural societies, nearly 200 agricultural banks, 50 home
industries societies, 40 poultry societies, while there were 40 others
with miscellaneous objects. The membership may be estimated--I am
writing towards the end of the Society's statistical year--at about
80,000, representing some 400,000 persons. The combined trade turnover
of these societies during the present year will reach approximately
£2,000,000, a figure the meaning of which can only be appreciated when
it is remembered that the great majority of the associated farmers are
in so small a way of business that in England they would hardly be
classed as farmers at all.

These societies consist, as has been explained, of groups of farmers who
have been taught by organisers that certain branches of their business
can be more profitably conducted in association than by individuals
acting separately. The principle of agricultural co-operation with its
economic advantages will, as time goes on, be further extended by the
combined action of societies. With this end in view federations are
constantly being formed with a constitution similar to that of the
societies, the only difference being that the members of the federation
are not individuals but societies, the government of the central body
being carried on by delegates from its constituent associations. The two
largest of these federations, one for the sale of butter, and another
for the combined purchase by societies of their agricultural
requirements, have been working successfully for several years.
Federations, too, are being formed, as societies find that their
business can be conducted more economically, for example, in dairying by
centralising the manufacture of butter, or in the egg export trade by
the alliance of many districts to enable large contracts to be
undertaken. In the near future a further development of federation will
be required to complete a scheme now under consideration for the mutual
insurance of live stock. Such a scheme involves the existence of two
prime conditions, a local organisation for the purpose of effective
supervision, and the spreading of the risk over a large area.

In all such enterprises and economic changes the Organisation Society is
either the initiator, or is called in for advice, and its continued
existence in a purely advisory capacity as a link between the societies
where concerted action is required, will be necessary even when the
organisation of farmers into societies is completed. The economic life
of rural communities is in continual need of adjustment. Now it is an
invention like a steam separator which revolutionises an industry. At
another time the crisis created by a change in the tariff of a foreign
country forces the producer either to find a new outlet for his wares,
or to abandon a hitherto profitable employment. A striking instance of
the value of organisation and connection with a central advisory body
occurred in 1887, when swine fever broke out in Denmark, and the exports
of live swine fell from 230,000 in one year to 16,000 in the next. The
organisation of the farmers, however, enabled them easily to consult
together how best to meet the emergency, and their decision to start
co-operative bacon-curing factories was the foundation of their present
great export trade in manufactured bacon.

I must not overburden with details a narrative intended for readers to
whom I merely wish to give a deeper and wider understanding of Irish
life than most of them probably possess. But there is just one form of
agricultural co-operation to which I can usefully devote a few
paragraphs, because it throws much light upon the associative qualities
of the people and also upon the educational and social value of the
movement. I refer to the Agricultural Banks, more properly called Credit
Associations, which have been organised upon the Raiffeisen system.
Before the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society was formed we had
read of these institutions, and of the marvellously beneficial effect
they had produced upon the most depressed rural communities abroad. But
only in the last few years have we fully realised that they are even
more required and are likely to do more good in Ireland than in any
other country; for on the psychological side of our work we formerly but
dimly saw things which we now see clearly.

The exact purpose of these organisations is to create credit as a means
of introducing capital into the agricultural industry. They perform the
apparent miracle of giving solvency to a community composed almost
entirely of insolvent individuals. The constitution of these bodies,
which can, of course, be described only in broad outline here, is
somewhat startling. They have no subscribed capital, but every member is
liable for the entire debts of the association. Consequently the
association takes good care to admit men of approved character and
capacity only. It starts by borrowing a sum of money on the joint and
several security of its members. A member wishing to borrow from the
association is not required to give tangible security, but must bring
two sureties. He fills up an application form which states, among other
things, what he wants the money for. The rules provide--and this is the
salient feature of the system--that a loan shall be made for a
productive purpose only, that is, a purpose which, in the judgment of
the other members of the association as represented by a committee
democratically elected from among themselves, will enable the borrower
to repay the loan out of the results of the use made of the money lent.

Raiffeisen held, and our experience in Ireland has fully confirmed his
opinion, that in the poorest communities there is a perfectly safe basis
of security in the honesty and industry of its members. This security is
not valuable to the ordinary commercial lender, such as the local joint
stock bank. Even if such lenders had the intimate knowledge possessed by
the committee of one of these associations as to the character and
capacity of the borrower, they would not be able to satisfy themselves
that the loan was required for a really productive purpose, nor would
they be able to see that it was properly applied to the stipulated
object. One of the rules of the co-operative banks provides for the
expulsion of a member who does not apply the money to the agreed
productive purpose. But although these "Banks" are almost invariably
situated in very poor districts, there has been no necessity to put this
rule in force in a single instance. Social influences seem to be quite
sufficient to secure obedience to the association's laws.

Another advantage conferred by the association is that the term for
which money is advanced is a matter of agreement between the borrower
and the bank. The hard and fast term of three months which prevails in
Ireland for small loans is unsuited to the requirements of the
agricultural industry--as for instance, when a man borrows money to sow
a crop, and has to repay it before harvest. The society borrows at four
or five per cent, and lends at five or six per cent. In some cases the
Congested Districts Board or the Department of Agriculture have made
loans to these banks at three per cent. This enables the societies to
lend at the popular rate of one penny for the use of one pound for a
month. The expenses of administration are very small. As the credit of
these associations develops, they will become a depository for the
savings of the community, to the great advantage of both lender and
borrower. The latter generally makes an enormous profit out of these
loans, which have accordingly gained the name of 'the lucky money,' and
we find, in practice, that he always repays the association and almost
invariably with punctuality.

The sketch I have given of the agricultural banks will, perhaps, be
sufficient to show what an immense educational and economic benefit they
are likely to confer when they are widely extended throughout Ireland,
as I hope they will be in the near future. Under this system, which, to
quote the report of the Indian Famine Commission, 1901, 'separates the
working bees from the drones,' the industrious men of the community who
had no clear idea before of the meaning or functions of capital or
credit, and who were generally unable to get capital into their industry
except at exorbitant rates of interest and upon unsuitable terms, are
now able to get, not always, indeed, all the money they want, but all
the money they can well employ for the improvement of their industry.
There is no fear of rash investment of capital in enterprises believed
to be, but not in reality productive--the committee take good care of
that. The whole community is taught the difference between borrowing to
spend and borrowing to make. You have the collective wisdom of the best
men in the association helping the borrower to decide whether he ought
to borrow or not, and then assisting him, if only from motives of
self-interest, to make the loan fulfil the purpose for which it was
made. I was delighted to find when I was making an enquiry into the
working of the system that, whereas the debt-laden peasants had formerly
concealed their indebtedness, of which they were ashamed, those who were
in debt to the new banks were proud of the fact, as it was the best
testimonial to their character for honesty and industry.[39]

One other sphere of activity worked by the co-operative associations
needs a passing notice. The desire that, together with material
amelioration, there should be a corresponding intellectual advancement
and a greater beauty in life has prompted many of the farmers' societies
to use their organisation for higher ends. A considerable number of them
have started Village Libraries, and by an admirable selection of books
have brought to their members, not only the means of educating
themselves in the more difficult technical problems of their industry,
but also a means of access to that enchanted world of Irish thought
which inspires the Gaelic Revival to which I have already referred.
Social gatherings of every kind, dances, lectures, concerts, and such
like entertainments, which have the two-fold effect of brightening rural
life and increasing the attachment of the members to their society, are
becoming a common feature in the movement, and this more human aspect
has attracted to it the attention of many who do not understand its
economic side. We have gratifying evidence from many of the clergy that
the movement thus developed has kept at home young people who would
otherwise have fled from the continued hardship and intellectual
emptiness of rural life at home.

These results are in no small measure due to the zeal and devotion of
the governing body and staff of the I.A.O.S. The general policy of the
society is guided by a committee of twenty-four members, one-half of
whom are elected by the individual subscribers and the other half by the
affiliated societies. It is representative in the best sense and
influential accordingly. The success of the Committee is no doubt mainly
due to the wisdom which they have displayed in the selection of the
staff. In the most important post, that of Secretary, they have kept on
my chief fellow-worker in the early struggle, Mr. R.A. Anderson, who has
devoted himself to the cause with all the energy of a nature at once
enthusiastic, unselfish, and practical, and who has succeeded in
inspiring his staff of organisers and experts with his own spirit. Among
these, two deserve special mention, Mr. George W. Russell, one of the
Assistant Secretaries, who has, under the _nom de plume_ "A.E.,"
attained fame for a poetry of rare distinction of thought and diction,
and Mr. P.J. Hannon, the other Assistant Secretary, who has proved
himself a splendid propagandist. Each of these gentlemen has brought to
the movement a zeal and ability which could only come of a devotion to
high ideals of patriotism, curiously combined with a shrewd practical
instinct for carrying on varied and responsible business undertakings.

With the growing work the staff has been repeatedly augmented to enable
the central society to keep pace with the demand made by groups of
farmers to be initiated into the principles of co-operative
organisation and the details of its application to the particular
branches of farming carried on in their several districts. At the same
time the societies which have been established need, during their
earlier years, and with each extension of their operations, constant
advice and supervision. Hence skilled organisers have to be kept to form
co-operative dairy societies, inspect creameries, and give technical
advice upon the manufacture and sale of butter, the care of machinery,
the adequacy of the water supply, the drainage system, and many similar
technical questions. Others are employed to start poultry societies,
which when organised have still to be instructed by a Danish expert in
the proper method of packing, selecting, and grading the eggs for
export. In tillage districts there is a constant demand for organisers
of purely agricultural societies, which aim at the joint purchase of
seeds and manures, of implements and other farm requisites, and at the
better disposal of produce; while the growing importance of an improved
system of agricultural credit keeps four organisers of agricultural
banks constantly at work Home industries, bee-keeping, and horticulture,
may be added to the objects for which societies have been formed and
which require separate expert organisers. And in addition to all this
work, the central association has found it necessary to keep a staff of
accountants, versed in the principles of co-operative organisation, to
instruct these miscellaneous societies in simple and efficient systems
of bookkeeping, and in the general principles of conducting business.
To complete the description of the propagandist activities of the
central body, there is a ceaseless flow of leaflets and circulars
containing advice and direction to bodies of farmers who, for the first
time in their lives, have combined for business purposes; while a little
weekly paper, the _Irish Homestead_, acts as the organ of the movement,
promotes the exchange of ideas between societies scattered throughout
the country, furnishes useful information upon all matters connected
with their business operations, and keeps constantly before the
associated farmers the economic principles which must be observed, and,
above all, the spirit in which the work must be approached, if the
movement is to fulfil its mission.[40]

One of the difficulties incidental to a movement of this kind, which,
for the reasons already set forth, had to be rapidly and widely
extended, was the enormous cost to its supporters. It is needless to say
that such a staff as I have described could not be kept continuously
travelling by rail and road for so many years without the provision of a
large fund. These officers must obviously be men with exceptional
qualifications, if they are not only to impress the thought of their
agricultural audiences, but also to move them to action, and to sustain
the newly organised societies through the initial difficulties of their
unfamiliar enterprise. Such men are not to be found idle, and if they
preach this gospel, they are entitled to live by it. They are not by any
means overpaid, but their salaries in the aggregate amount to a large
annual sum. Before the creation of the Department of Agriculture and
Technical Instruction in 1900 large sums were spent by the I.A.O.S. not
only in its proper work of organisation, but also in giving technical
instruction, which was found to be essential to commercial success. When
the Society was relieved of this educational work many of its supporters
withdrew their subscriptions under the impression that there was now no
longer any need for its continued existence. But so far from the
Society's usefulness having ceased, it has now become more important
than ever that the doctrine of organised self-help, which must be the
foundation of any sound Irish economic policy, should be insisted upon
and put into practical operation as widely as possible. All those who
are devoting their lives to the firm establishment of this self-help
movement among the chief wealth-producers of the country are agreed that
no better educational work can be done at the moment than that which is
bringing about so salutary a change in the economic attitude of the
Irish mind.

It is not to be wondered at that the greater part of the necessary funds
should have been drawn from a very limited circle of public-spirited men
capable of grasping the significance of a movement the practical effect
of which would appear to be permanent only to those who had a deep
insight into Irish problems.[41] The difficulty of a successful appeal
to a wider public has been the impossibility of giving in brief form an
adequate explanation, such as that which it is hoped these pages will
afford, of the part the movement was to play in Irish life. We were
asked whether our scheme was business or philanthropy. If philanthropy,
it would probably do more harm than good. If business, why was it not
self-supporting? I remember hearing the movement ridiculed in the House
of Commons by a prominent Irish member on the ground that the accounts
of the I.A.O.S. showed that £20,000 (£40,000 would be nearer the mark
now) had been put into the 'business,' and that this large capital had
been entirely lost! When we proved that agricultural co-operation
brought a large profit to the members of the societies we formed, it was
suggested that a small part of this profit would give us all we required
for our organising work. So it will in time, but if instead of merely
refusing financial assistance to our converts, we were, on the other
hand, to demand it from them, we certainly should not lessen the
difficulty of launching our movement among the farmers of Ireland. Some
of our critics denounced the expenditure of so much money for which, in
their opinion, there was nothing to show, and said that the time had
come to stop this 'spoon-feeding.' When those for whose exclusive
benefit the costly work had been undertaken learned that all we had to
offer was the cold advice that they should help themselves, they not
infrequently raised a wholly different objection to our economic
doctrine. Spoonfeeding they might have tolerated, but there was nothing
in the spoon! The movement has survived all these criticisms. The lack
of moral and of financial support which retarded its progress in the
early years, has been so far surmounted The movement may now, I think,
appeal for further help as one that has justified its existence. The
opinion that it has done so is not held only by those who are engaged in
promoting it, nor by Irish observers alone. The efforts of the Irish
farmers so to reorganise their industry that they may hopefully approach
the solution of the problems of rural life are being watched by
economists and administrators abroad. Enquirers have come to Ireland
during the last two years from Germany, France, Canada, the United
States, India, South Africa, Cyprus and the West Indies, having been
drawn here by the desire to understand the combination of economic and
human reform. It was not alone the economic advantages of the movement
which interested them, but the way in which the organisation at the same
time acted upon the character and awoke those forces of self-help and
comradeship in which lies the surety of any enduring national
prosperity. A native governor from a famine district in the Madras
Presidency, who, perhaps, better than any one realised the importance
of these human factors, because the lethargy of his own people had
forced it on his notice, said, when he was referred to the Department of
Agriculture and Technical Instruction for information, "Oh, don't speak
to me about Government Departments. They are the same all over the
world. I come here to learn what the Irish people are doing to help
themselves and how you awaken the will and the initiative." I hope to
show later that State assistance properly applied is not necessarily
demoralising but very much the reverse. It is consoling, too, to our
national pride, long wounded by contemptuous references to our
industrial incapacity as compared with our neighbours, to find that our
latest efforts are regarded by them as worthy of imitation. From the
other side of the Channel no less than five County Councils have sent
deputations of farmers to Ireland to study the progress of the movement,
and already an English Organisation Society, expressly modelled upon its
Irish namesake, has been established and is endeavouring to carry out
the same work.

It is not surprising that the facts which I have cited should be
interesting to the honest inquirer. A summary of actual achievement will
show that this movement has spread all over Ireland, that its principle
of organised self-help has been universally accepted, and that nothing
but time and the necessary funds are required by its promoters to give
it, within the range of its applicability, general effect. It is no
exaggeration to say that there has been set in motion and carried
beyond the experimental stage a revolution in agricultural methods which
will enable our farmers to compete with their rivals abroad, both in
production and in distribution, under far more favourable conditions
than before. Alike in its material and in its moral achievements this
movement has provided an effective means whereby the peasant proprietary
about to be created will be able to face and solve the vital problems
before it, problems for which no improvement in land tenure, no rent
reductions actual or prospective, could otherwise provide an adequate
solution. Furthermore, nothing could be more evident to any close
observer of Irish life than the fact that had it not been for the new
spirit which the workers in this movement, mostly humble unknown men,
had generated, the attitude of the Irish democracy towards England's
latest concession to Ireland would have been very different from what it
is. In the last dozen years hundreds and thousands of meetings have been
held to discuss matters of business importance to our rural communities.
At these meetings landlord and tenant-farmer have often met each other
for the first time on a footing of friendly equality, as fellow-members
of co-operative societies. It is significant that all through the
negotiations which culminated in the Dunraven Treaty, landlords who had
come into the life of the people in connection with the co-operative
movement took a prominent part in favour of conciliation.

I would further give it as my opinion, whatever it may be worth, that
the movement has exercised a profound influence in those departments of
our national life where, as I have shown in previous chapters, new
forces must be not only recognised but accepted as essential to national
well-being, if we are to cherish what is good and free ourselves from
what is bad in the historical evolution of our national life. In the
domain of politics it is hard to estimate even the political value of
the exclusion of politics from deliberations and activities where they
have no proper place. In our religious life, where intolerance has
perpetuated anti-industrial tendencies, the new movement is seen to be
bringing together for business purposes men who had previously no
dealings with each other, but who have now learned that the doctrine of
self-help by mutual help involves no danger to faith and no sacrifice of
hope, while it engenders a genuinely Christian interpretation of
charity.[42]

I cannot conclude the story of this movement without paying a brief
tribute of respect and gratitude to those true patriots who have borne
the daily burden of the work. I hope the picture I have given of their
aims and achievements will lead to a just appreciation of their services
to their country. By these men and women applause or even recognition
was not expected or desired: they knew that it was to those who had the
advantages of leisure, and what the world calls position, that the
credit for their work would be given. But it is of national importance
that altruistic service should be understood and given freedom of
expansion. I have, therefore, presented as faithfully as I could the
origin and development of one of the least understood, but in my
opinion, most fruitful movements which has ever been undertaken by a
body of social and economic reformers. As Irish leaders they have
preferred to remain obscure, conscious that the most damaging criticism
which could be applied to their work would be that it depended on their
own personal qualities or acts for its permanent utility. But most
assuredly the real conquerors of the world are those who found upon
human character their hopes of human progress.

FOOTNOTES:

[37] The story of the conversion of some of the tenants on the Vandeleur
estate into a co-operative community in 1831 by Mr. E.T. Craig, a
Scotchman who took up the agency of the property, told in the _History
of Ralahine_ (London, Trübner & Co., 1893) is worth reading. The
experiment, most hopeful as far as it went, was only two years in
existence when the landlord gambled away his property at cards in a
Dublin club and the Utopia was sold up. But in the co-operative world
Mr. Craig, who died as recently as 1894, is revered as the author of the
most advanced experiment in the realisation of co-operative ideals. The
economic significance of the narrative is obviously not important, and I
doubt whether joint ownership of land, except for the purpose of common
grazing, is a practical ideal. The ready response, however, of the Irish
peasants to Mr. Craig's enthusiasm and the way in which they took up the
idea form an interesting study of the Irish character.

[38] The late Canon Bagot had done good service in explaining the value
of the new machinery; but unhappily the vital importance of co-operative
organisation was not then understood. He formed some joint stock
companies with the result that, having no co-operative spirit to offset
their commercial inexperience, they all proved, instead of co-operative
successes, competitive failures. This fact added to our early
difficulties.

[39] It should be noted that this form of association for credit
purposes, owing to its peculiar constitution, applies only to a grade of
the community whose members all live on about the same scale and that a
fairly low one. It is obvious that unlimited liability would lose its
efficacy in developing the sense of responsibility if some members of
the association were so substantial that its creditors would make them
primarily responsible in the event of failure. The fact, however, that
the scheme has worked with unvarying success among the poorest of the
poor, and the most Irish of the Irish, renders it as good an
illustration as can be found of what may be done by sympathetic and
intelligent treatment of Irish economic problems. Mr. Henry W. Wolff,
the foremost authority on People's Banks in these islands, and Mr. R.A.
Yerburgh, M.P., a generous subscriber to the Irish Agricultural
Organisation Society, have taken great interest in this part of the
movement and have rendered much assistance.

[40] Those who wish to go more fully into the details of the
co-operative agricultural movement in Ireland should write to the
Secretary Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, 22 Lincoln-place,
Dublin. The publications of the Society are somewhat voluminous, and the
inquirer should intimate any particular branches of the subject in which
he is especially interested. Those wishing to keep _au courant_ with the
further development of the movement would do well to take in the _Irish
Homestead_, post free _6s. 6d._ per annum.

[41] The chief donors belong to the class of philanthropists who do not
care to advertise their beneficence. I, therefore, respect their wishes
and withhold their names.

[42] I recall an occasion when the Vice-President of the I.A.O.S. (a
Nationalist in politics and a Jesuit priest), who has been ever ready to
lend a hand as volunteer organiser when the prior claims of his
religious and educational duties allowed, found himself before an
audience which he was informed, when he came to the meeting, consisted
mainly of Orangemen. He began his address by referring to the new and
somewhat strange environment into which he had drifted. He did not,
however, see why this circumstance should lead to any misunderstanding
between himself and his audience. He had never been able to understand
what a battle fought upon a famous Irish river two centuries ago had got
to do with the practical issues of to-day which he had come to discuss.
The dispute in question was, after all, between a Scotchman and a
Dutchman, and if it had not yet been decided, they might be left to
settle it themselves--that is if too great a gulf did not separate them.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE RECESS COMMITTEE.


The new movement, six years after its initiation, had succeeded beyond
the most sanguine expectations of its promoters. All over the country
the idea of self-help was taking firm hold of the imagination of the
people.

Co-operation had got, so to speak, into the air to such an extent that,
whereas at the beginning, as I well remember, our chief difficulty had
been to popularise a principle to which one section of the community was
strongly opposed, and in which no section believed, it was now no longer
necessary to explain or support the theory, but only to show how it
could be advantageously applied to some branch of the farmer's industry.
It was not, strange to say, the economic advantage which had chiefly
appealed to the quick intelligence of the Irish farmer, but rather the
novel sensation that he was thinking for himself, and that while
improving his own condition he was working for others. This attitude was
essential to the success of the movement, because had it not been for a
vein of altruism, the "strong" farmers would have held aloof, and the
small men would have been discouraged by the abstention of the
better-off and presumably more enlightened of their class.

Perhaps, too, we owed something to the recognition on the part of the
working farmers of Ireland that they were showing a capacity to grasp an
idea which had so far failed to penetrate the bucolic intelligence of
the predominant partner. Whatever the causes to which the success of the
movement was attributable, those who were responsible for its promotion
felt in the year 1895 that it had reached a stage in its development
when it was but a question of time to complete the projected revolution
in the farming industry, the substitution of combined for isolated
methods of production and distribution. It was then further brought home
to them that the principle of self-help was destined to obtain general
acceptance in rural Ireland, and that the time had come when a sound
system of State aid to agriculture might be fruitfully grafted on to
this native growth of local effort and self-reliance.

From time to time our public men had included in the list of Irish
grievances the fact that England enjoyed a Board of Agriculture while
Ireland had no similar institution. As a matter of fact a mere replica
of the English Board would not have fulfilled a tithe of the objects we
had in view. That much at least we knew, but beyond that our information
was vague. What, having regard to Irish rural conditions, should be the
character and constitution of any Department called into being to
administer the aid required? Here indeed was a vital and difficult
problem. Even those of us who had given the closest thought to the
matter did not know exactly what was wanted; nor, if we had known our
own minds, could we have formulated our demand in such a way as to have
obtained a backing from representative public bodies, associations, and
individuals sufficient to secure its concession. Instead, therefore, of
agitating in the conventional manner we determined to try to direct the
best thought of the country to the problem in hand, with a view to
satisfying the Government, and also ourselves, as to what was wanted. We
had confidence that a demand presented to Parliament, based upon calm
and deliberate debate among the most competent of Irishmen, would be
conceded. The story of this agitation, its initiation, its conduct, and
its final success will, I am sure, be of interest to all who feel any
concern for the welfare of Ireland.

I have accepted the common characterisation of the Irish as a
leader-following people. When we come to analyse the human material out
of which a strong national life may be constructed, we find that there
are in Ireland--in this connection I exclude the influence of the
clergy, with which I have dealt specifically in another chapter--two
elements of leadership, the political and the industrial. The political
leaders are seen to enjoy an influence over the great majority of the
people which is probably as powerful as that of any political leaders in
ancient or modern times; but as a class they certainly do not take a
prominent, or even an active part in business life. This fact is not
introduced with any controversial purpose, and I freely acknowledge can
be interpreted in a sense altogether creditable to the Nationalist
members. The other element of leadership contains all that is prominent
in industrial and commercial life, and few countries could produce
better types of such leaders than can be found in the northern capital
of the country. But, unhappily, these men are debarred from all
influence upon the thought and action of the great majority of the
people, who are under the domination of the political leaders. This is
one of the strange anomalies of Irish life to which I have already
referred. Its recognition, and the desire to utilise the knowledge of
business men as well as politicians, took practical effect in the
formation of the Recess Committee.

The idea underlying this project was the combination of these two forces
of leadership--the force with political influence and that of proved
industrial and commercial capacity--in order to concentrate public
opinion, which was believed to be inclining in this direction, on the
material needs of the country. The General Election of 1895 had, by
universal admission, postponed, for some years at any rate, any
possibility of Home Rule, and the cessation of the bitter feelings
aroused when Home Rule seemed imminent provided the opportunity for an
appeal to the Irish people in behalf of the views which I have
adumbrated. The appeal took the form of a letter, dated August 27th,
1895, by the author to the Irish Press, under the quite sincere, if
somewhat grandiloquent, title, "A proposal affecting the general welfare
of Ireland."

The letter set out the general scope and purpose of the scheme. After a
confession of the writer's continued opposition to Home Rule, the
admission was made that if the average Irish elector, who is more
intelligent than the average British elector, were also as prosperous,
as industrious, and as well educated, his continued demand, in the
proper constitutional way, for Home Rule would very likely result in the
experiment being one day tried. On the other hand, the opinion was
expressed that if the material conditions of the great body of our
countrymen were advanced, if they were encouraged in industrial
enterprise, and were provided with practical education in proportion to
their natural intelligence, they would see that a political development
on lines similar to those adopted in England was, considering the
necessary relations between the two countries, best for Ireland; and
then they would cease to desire what is ordinarily understood as Home
Rule. A basis for united action between politicians on both sides of the
Irish controversy was then suggested. Finding ourselves still opposed
upon the main question, but all anxious to promote the welfare of the
country, and confident that, as this was advanced, our respective
policies would be confirmed, it would appear, it was suggested, to be
alike good patriotism and good policy to work for the material and
social advancement of the people. Why then, it was asked, should any
Irishman hesitate to enter at once upon that united action between men
of both parties which alone, under existing conditions, could enable
either party to do any real and lasting good to the country?

The letter proceeded to indicate economic legislation which, though
sorely needed by Ireland, was hopelessly unattainable unless it could be
removed from the region of controversy. The _modus co-operandi_
suggested was as follows:--a committee sitting in the Parliamentary
recess, whence it came to be known as the Recess Committee, was to be
formed, consisting in the first instance, of Irish Members of Parliament
nominated by the leaders of the different sections. These nominees were
to invite to join them any Irishmen whose capacity, knowledge, or
experience might be of service to the Committee, irrespective of the
political party or religious persuasion to which they might belong. The
day had come, the letter went on to say, when "we Unionists, without
abating one jot of our Unionism, and Nationalists, without abating one
jot of their Nationalism, can each show our faith in the cause for which
we have fought so bitterly and so long, by sinking our party differences
for our country's good, and leaving our respective policies for the
justification of time."

Needless to say, few were sanguine enough to hope that such a committee
would ever be brought together. If that were accomplished some
prophesied that its members would but emulate the fame of the Kilkenny
cats. A severe blow was dealt to the project at the outset by the
refusal of Mr. Justin McCarthy, who then spoke for the largest section
of the Nationalist representatives, to have anything to do with it. His
reply to the letter must be given in full:--

     MY DEAR MR. PLUNKETT,

     I am sure I need not say that any effort to promote the general
     welfare of Ireland has my fullest sympathy. I readily acknowledge
     and entirely believe in the sincerity and good purpose of your
     effort, but I cannot see my way to associate myself with it. Your
     frank avowal in your letter of August 27th is the expression of a
     belief that if your policy could be successfully carried out the
     Irish people "would cease to desire Home Rule." Now, I do not
     believe that anything in the way of material improvement conferred
     by the Parliament at Westminster, or by Dublin Castle, could
     extinguish the national desire for Home Rule. Still, I do not feel
     that I could possibly take part in any organisation which had for
     its object the seeking of a substitute for that which I believe to
     be Ireland's greatest need--Home Rule.

     Yours very truly,

     JUSTIN MCCARTHY.

     73, Eaton-terrace, S.W., October 22nd, 1895.

I had not much hope that I could influence Mr. McCarthy's decision; but
it was so serious an obstacle to further action that I made one more
appeal. I wrote to my respected and courteous correspondent, pointing
out the misconception of my proposal, which had arisen from the use made
of the six words quoted by him, which were hardly intelligible without
the context. I asked him to reconsider his refusal to join in the
proposal for promoting the material improvement of our country, on
account of a contingency which he confidently declared could not arise.
But in those days economic seed fell upon stony political ground.

The position was rendered still more difficult by the action of Colonel
Saunderson, the leader of the Irish Unionist party, who wrote to the
newspapers declaring that he would not sit on a Committee with Mr. John
Redmond. On the other hand, Mr. Redmond, speaking then for the
"Independent" party, consisting of less than a dozen members, but
containing some men who agreed with Mr. Field's admission in the House
of Commons that "man cannot live on politics alone," joined the
Committee and acted throughout in a manner which was broad,
statesmanlike, conciliatory, and as generous as it was courageous. His
letter of acceptance ran as follows:--

     DEAR MR. PLUNKETT,

     I received your letter, in which you ask me to co-operate with you
     in bringing together a small Committee of Members of Parliament to
     discuss certain measures to be proposed next Session for the
     benefit of Ireland. While I cannot take as sanguine a view as you
     do of the benefits likely to flow from such a proceeding, I am
     unwilling to take the responsibility of declining to aid in any
     effort to promote useful legislation for Ireland.

     I will, under the circumstances, co-operate with you in bringing
     such a Committee as you suggest together. Very truly yours,

     J.E. REDMOND.

     October 21st, 1895.

Before these decisions were officially announced the idea had "caught
on." Public bodies throughout the country endorsed the scheme. The
parliamentarians, who formed the nucleus of the Committee, came
together and invited prominent men from all quarters to join them. A
committee which, though informal and self-appointed, might fairly claim
to be representative in every material respect, was thus constituted on
the lines laid down.

Truly, it was a strange council over which I had the honour to preside.
All shades of politics were there--Lords Mayo and Monteagle, Mr. Dane
and Sir Thomas Lea (Tories and Liberal Unionist Peers and Members of
Parliament) sitting down beside Mr. John Redmond and his parliamentary
followers. It was found possible, in framing proposals fraught with
moral, social, and educational results, to secure the cordial agreement
of the late Rev. Dr. Kane, Grand Master of the Belfast Orangemen, and of
the eminent Jesuit educationist, Father Thomas Finlay, of the Royal
University. The O'Conor Don, the able Chairman of the Financial
Relations Commission, and Mr. John Ross, M.P., now one of His Majesty's
Judges, both Unionists, were balanced by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and
Mr. T.C. Harrington, M.P., who now occupies that post, both
Nationalists. The late Sir John Arnott fitly represented the commercial
enterprise of the South, while such men as Mr. Thomas Sinclair,
universally regarded as one of the wisest of Irish public men, Sir
William Ewart, head of the leading linen concern in the North, Sir
Daniel Dixon, now Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sir James Musgrave, Chairman of
the Belfast Harbour Board, and Mr. Thomas Andrews, a well-known
flax-spinner and Chairman of the Belfast and County Down Railway, would
be universally accepted as the highest authorities upon the needs of the
business community which has made Ulster famous in the industrial world.
Mr. T.P. Gill, besides undertaking investigation of the utmost value
into State aid to agriculture in France and Denmark, acted as Hon.
Secretary to the Committee, of which he was a member.

The story of our deliberations and ultimate conclusions cannot be set
forth here except in the barest outline. We instituted an inquiry into
the means by which the Government could best promote the development of
our agricultural and industrial resources, and despatched commissioners
to countries of Europe whose conditions and progress might afford some
lessons for Ireland. Most of this work was done for us by the late
eminent statistician, Mr. Michael Mulhall. Our funds did not admit of an
inquiry in the United States or the Colonies. However, we obtained
invaluable information as to the methods by which countries which were
our chief rivals in agricultural and industrial production have been
enabled to compete successfully with our producers even in our own
markets. Our commissioners were instructed in each case to collect the
facts necessary to enable us to differentiate between the parts played
respectively by State aid and the efforts of the people themselves in
producing these results. With this information before us, after long and
earnest deliberation we came to a unanimous agreement upon the main
facts of the situation with which we had to deal, and upon the
recommendations for remedial legislation which we should make to the
Government.

The substance of our recommendations was that a Department of Government
should be specially created, with a minister directly responsible to
Parliament at its head. The central body was to be assisted by a
Consultative Council representative of the interests concerned. The
Department was to be adequately endowed from the Imperial Treasury, and
was to administer State aid to agriculture and industries in Ireland
upon principles which were fully described. The proposal to amalgamate
agriculture and industries under one Department was adopted largely on
account of the opinion expressed by M. Tisserand, late Director-General
of Agriculture in France, one of the highest authorities in Europe upon
the administration of State aid to agriculture.[43] The creation of a
new minister directly responsible to Parliament was considered a
necessary provision. Ireland is governed by a number of Boards, all,
with the exception of the Board of Works (which is really a branch of
the Treasury), responsible to the Chief Secretary--practically a whole
cabinet under one hat--who is supposed to be responsible for them to
Parliament and to the Lord Lieutenant. The bearers of this burden are
generally men of great ability. But no Chief Secretary could possibly
take under his wing yet another department with the entirely new and
important functions now to be discharged. What these functions were to
be need not here be described, as the Department thus 'agitated' for has
now been three years at work and will form the subject of the next two
chapters.

On August 1st, 1896, less than a year from the issue of the invitation
to the political leaders, the Report was forwarded to the Chief
Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland, with a covering letter,
setting out the considerations upon which the Committee relied for the
justification of its course of action. Attention was drawn to the terms
of the original proposal, its exceptional nature and essential
informality, the political conditions which appeared to make it
opportune, the spirit in which it was responded to by those who were
invited to join, and the degree of public approval which had been
accorded to our action. We were able to claim for the Committee that it
was thoroughly representative of those agricultural and industrial
interests, North and South, with which the Report was concerned.

There were two special features in the brief history of this unique
coming together of Irishmen which will strike any man familiar with the
conditions of Irish public life. The first was the way in which the
business element, consisting of men already deeply engaged in their
various callings--and, indeed, selected for that very reason--devoted
time and labour to the service of their country. Still more significant
was the fact that the political element on the Committee should have
come to an absolutely unanimous agreement upon a policy which, though
not intended to influence the trend of politics, was yet bound to have
far-reaching consequences upon the political thought of the country, and
upon the positions of parties and leaders. It was thought only fair to
the Nationalist members of the Committee that every precaution should be
taken to prevent their being placed in a false position. 'To avoid any
possible misconception,' the covering letter ran, 'as to the attitude of
those members of the Committee who are not supporters of the present
Government, it is right here to state that, while under existing
political conditions they agreed in recommending a certain course to the
Government, they wish it to be understood that their political
principles remain unaltered, and that, were it immediately possible,
they would prefer that the suggested reforms should be preceded by the
constitutional changes of which they are the well-known advocates.'

It is interesting to note that the Committee claimed favourable
consideration for their proposals on the ground that they sought to act
as 'a channel of communication between the Irish Government and Irish
public opinion.' Little interest, they pointed out, had been hitherto
aroused in those economic problems for which the Report suggested some
solution. They expressed the hope that their action would do something
to remedy this defect, especially in view of the importance which
foreign Governments had found it necessary to attach to public opinion
in working out their various systems of State aid to agriculture and
industries. At the same time the Committee emphasised, in the covering
letter, their reliance on individual and combined effort rather than on
State aid. They were able to point out that, in asking for the latter,
they had throughout attached the utmost importance to its being granted
in such a manner as to evoke and supplement, and in no way be a
substitute for self-help. If they appeared to give undue prominence to
the capabilities of State initiation, it was to be remembered that they
were dealing with economic conditions which had been artificially
produced, and which, therefore, might require exceptional treatment of a
temporary nature to bring about a permanent remedy.

I fear those most intimately connected with the above occurrences will
regard this chapter as a very inadequate description of events so
unprecedented and so full of hope for the future. My purpose is,
however, to limit myself, in dealing with the past, to such details as
are necessary to enable the reader to understand the present facts of
Irish life, and to build upon them his own conclusions as to the most
hopeful line of future development. I shall, therefore, pass rapidly in
review the events which led to the fruition of the labours of the Recess
Committee.

Public opinion in favour of the new proposals grew rapidly. Before the
end of the year (1896) a deputation, representing all the leading
agricultural and industrial interests of the country, waited upon the
Irish Government, in order to press upon them the urgent need for the
new department. The Lord Lieutenant, after describing the gathering as
'one of the most notable deputations which had ever come to lay its case
before the Irish Government,' and noting the 'remarkable growth of
public opinion' in favour of the policy they were advocating, expressed
his heartfelt sympathy with the case which had been presented, and his
earnest desire--which was well known--to proceed with legislation for
the agricultural and industrial development of the country at the
earliest moment. The demand made upon the Government was,
argumentatively, already irresistible. But economic agitation of this
kind takes time to acquire dynamic force. Mr. Gerald Balfour introduced
a Bill the following year, but it had to be withdrawn to leave the way
clear for the other great Irish measure which revolutionised local
government. The unconventional agitation went on upon the original
lines, appealing to that latent public opinion which we were striving to
develop. In 1899 another Bill was introduced, and, owing to its masterly
handling by the Chief Secretary in the House of Commons, ably seconded
by the strong support given by Lord Cadogan, who was in the Cabinet, it
became law.

I cannot conclude this chapter without a word upon the extraordinary
misunderstanding of Mr. Gerald Balfour's policy to which the obscuring
atmosphere surrounding all Irish questions gave rise. In one respect
that policy was a new departure of the utmost importance. He proved
himself ready to take a measure from Ireland and carry it through,
instead of insisting upon a purely English scheme which he could call
his own. These pre-digested foods had already done much to destroy our
political digestion, and it was time we were given something to grow, to
cook, and to assimilate for ourselves. It will be seen, too, in the next
chapter, that he had realised the potentiality for good of the new
forces in Irish life to which he gave play in his two great linked
Acts--one of them popularising local government, and the other creating
a new Department which was to bring the government and the people
together in an attempt to develop the resources of the country. Yet his
eminently sane and far-seeing policy was regarded in many quarters as a
sacrifice of Unionist interests in Ireland. Its real effect was to endow
Unionism with a positive as well as a negative policy. But all reformers
know that the further ahead they look, the longer they have to wait for
their justification. Meanwhile, we may leave out of consideration the
division of honour or of blame for what has been done. The only matter
of historic interest is to arrive at a correct measure of the progress
made.

The new movement had thus completed the first and second stages of its
mission. The idea of self-help had become a growing reality, and upon
this foundation an edifice of State aid had been erected. When a
Nationalist member met a Tory member of the Recess Committee he laughed
over the success with which they had wheedled a measure of industrial
Home Rule out of a Unionist Government. None the less they cordially
agreed that the people would rise to their economic responsibility. The
promoters of the movement had faith that this new departure in English
government would be more than justified by the English test, and that in
the new sphere of administration the government would be accorded,
without prejudice, of course, to the ultimate views either of Unionists
or Home Rulers, not only the consent, but the whole-hearted co-operation
of the governed.

FOOTNOTES:

[43] The memorandum which he kindly contributed to the Recess Committee
was copied into the Annual Report of the United States Department of
Agriculture for 1896.



CHAPTER IX.

A NEW DEPARTURE IN IRISH ADMINISTRATION.


To the average English Member of Parliament, the passing of an Act "for
establishing a Department of Agriculture and other Industries and
Technical Instruction in Ireland and for other purposes connected
therewith," probably signified little more than the removal of another
Irish grievance, which might not be imaginary, by the concession to
Ireland of an equivalent to the Board of Agriculture in England. In
reality the difference between the two institutions is as wide as the
difference between the two islands. The chief interest of the new
Department consists in the free play which it gives to the pent-up
forces of a re-awakening life. A new institution is at best but a new
opportunity, but the Department starts with the unique advantage that,
unlike most Irish institutions, it is one which we Irishmen planned
ourselves and for which we have worked. For this reason the opportunity
is one to which we may hope to rise.

Before I can convey any clear impression of the part which the
Department is, I believe, destined to play on the stage of Irish public
life, it will be necessary for me to give a somewhat detailed
description of its functions and constitution. The subject is perhaps
dull and technical; but readers cannot understand the Ireland of to-day
unless they have in their minds not only an accurate conception of the
new moral forces in Irish life and of the movements to which these
forces have given rise, but also a knowledge of the administrative
machinery and methods by which the people and the Government are now,
for the first time since the Union, working together towards the
building up of the Ireland of to-morrow.

The Department consists of the President (who is the Chief Secretary for
the time being) and the Vice-President. The staff is composed of a
Secretary, two Assistant Secretaries (one in respect of Agriculture and
one in respect of Technical Instruction), as well as certain heads of
Branches and a number of inspectors, instructors, officers and servants.
The Recess Committee, it will be remembered, had laid stress upon the
importance of having at the head of the Department a new Minister who
should be directly responsible to Parliament; and, accordingly, it was
arranged that the Vice-President should be its direct Ministerial head.
The Act provided that the Department should be assisted in its work by a
Council of Agriculture and two Boards, and also by a Consultative
Committee to advise upon educational questions. But before discussing
the constitution of these bodies, it is necessary to explain the nature
of the task assigned to the new Department which began work in April,
1900. It was created to fulfil two main purposes. In the first place,
it was to consolidate in one authority certain inter-related functions
of government in connection with the business concerns of the people
which, until the creation of the Department, were scattered over some
half-dozen Boards, and to place these functions under the direct control
and responsibility of the new Minister. The second purpose was to
provide means by which the Government and the people might work together
in developing the resources of the country so far as State intervention
could be legitimately applied to this end.

To accomplish the first object, two distinct Government departments, the
Veterinary Department of the Privy Council and the Office of the
Inspectors of Irish Fisheries, were merged in the new Department. The
importance to the economic life of the country of having the laws for
safeguarding our flocks and herds from disease, our crops from insect
pests, our farmers from fraud in the supply of fertilisers and feeding
stuffs and in the adulteration of foods (which compete with their
products), administered by a Department generally concerned for the
farming industry need not be laboured. Similarly, it was well that the
laws for the protection of both sea and inland fisheries should be
administered by the authority whose function it was to develop these
industries. There was also transferred from South Kensington the
administration of the Science and Arts grants and the grant in aid of
technical instruction, together with the control of several national
institutions, the most important being the Royal College of Science and
the Metropolitan School of Art; for they, in a sense, would stand at the
head of much of the new work which would be required for the
contemplated agricultural and industrial developments. The Albert
Institute at Glasnevin and the Munster Institute in Cork, both
institutions for teaching practical agriculture, were, as a matter of
course, handed over from the Board of National Education.

The desirability of bringing order and simplicity into these branches of
administration, where co-related action was not provided for before, was
obvious. A few years ago, to take a somewhat extreme case, when a
virulent attack of potato disease broke out which demanded prompt and
active Governmental intervention, the task of instructing farmers how to
spray their potatoes was shared by no fewer than six official or
semi-official bodies. The consolidation of administration effected by
the Act, in addition to being a real step towards efficiency and
economy, relieved the Chief Secretary of an immense amount of detailed
work to which he could not possibly give adequate personal attention,
and made it possible for him to devote a greater share of his time to
the larger problems of general Irish legislation and finance.

The newly created powers of the Department, which were added to and
co-ordinated with the various pre-existing functions of the several
departments whose consolidation I have mentioned above, fairly fulfilled
the recommendation of the Recess Committee that the Department should
have 'a wide reference and a free hand.' These powers include the
aiding, improving, and developing of agriculture in all its branches;
horticulture, forestry, home and cottage industries; sea and inland
fisheries; the aiding and facilitating of the transit of produce; and
the organisation of a system of education in science and art, and in
technology as applied to these various subjects. The provision of
technical instruction suitable to the needs of the few manufacturing
centres in Ireland was included, but need not be dealt with in any
detail in these pages, since, as I have said before, the questions
connected therewith are more or less common to all such centres and have
no specially Irish significance.

For all the administrative functions transferred to the new Department
moneys are, as before, annually voted by Parliament. Towards the
fulfilment of the second purpose mentioned above--the development of the
resources of the country upon the principles of the Recess Committee--an
annual income of £166,000, which was derived in about equal parts from
Irish and imperial sources, and is called the Department's Endowment,
together with a capital sum of about £200,000, were provided.

It will be seen that a very wide sphere of usefulness was thus opened
out for the new Department in two distinct ways. The consolidation,
under one authority, of many scattered but co-related functions was
clearly a move in the right direction. Upon this part of its
recommendations the Recess Committee had no difficulty in coming to a
quick decision. But the real importance of their Report lay in the
direction of the new work which was to be assigned to the Department.
Under the new order of things, if the Department, acting with as well as
for the people, succeeds in doing well what legitimately may and ought
to be done by the Government towards the development of the resources of
the country, and, at the same time, as far as possible confines its
interference to helping the Irish people to help themselves, a wholly
new spirit will be imported into the industrial life of the nation.

The very nature of the work which the Department was called into
existence to accomplish made it absolutely essential that it should keep
in touch with the classes whom its work would most immediately affect,
and without whose active co-operation no lasting good could be achieved.
The machinery for this purpose was provided by the establishment of a
Council of Agriculture and two Boards, one of the latter being concerned
with agriculture, rural industries, and inland fisheries, the other with
technical instruction. These representative bodies, whose constitution
is interesting as a new departure in administration, were adapted from
similar continental councils which have been found by experience, in
those foreign countries which are Ireland's economic rivals, to be the
most valuable of all means whereby the administration keeps in touch
with the agricultural and industrial classes, and becomes truly
responsive to their needs and wishes.

The Council of Agriculture consists of two members appointed by each
County Council (Cork being regarded as two counties and returning four
members), making in all sixty-eight persons. The Department also appoint
one half this number of persons, observing in their nomination the same
provincial proportions as obtained in the appointments by the popular
bodies. This adds thirty-four members, and makes in all one hundred and
two Councillors, in addition to the President and Vice-President of the
Department, who are _ex-officio_ members. Thus, if all the members
attended a Council meeting, the Vice-President would find himself
presiding over a body as truly representative of the interests concerned
as could be brought together, consisting, by a strange coincidence, of
exactly the same number as the Irish representatives in Parliament.

The Council, which is appointed for a term of three years, the first
term dating from the 1st April, 1900, has a two-fold function. It is, in
the first place, a deliberative assembly which must be convened by the
Department at least once a year. The domain over which its deliberations
may travel is certainly not restricted, as the Act defines its function
as that of "discussing matters of public interest in connection with any
of the purposes of this Act." The view Mr. Gerald Balfour took was that
nothing but the new spirit he laboured to evoke would make his machine
work. Although he gave the Vice-President statutory powers to make
rules for the proper ordering of the Council debates, I have been well
content to rely upon the usual privileges of a chairman. I have
estimated beforehand the time required for the discussion of matters of
inquiry: the speakers have condensed their speeches accordingly, the
business has been expeditiously transacted, and in the mere exchange of
ideas invaluable assistance has been given to the Department.

The second function of the Council is exercised only at its first
meeting, and consequently but once in three years. At this first
triennial meeting it becomes an Electoral College. It divides itself
into four Provincial Committees, each of which elects two members to
represent its province on the Agricultural Board and one member to
represent it on the Board of Technical Instruction. The Agricultural
Board, which controls a sum of over £100,000 a year, consists of twelve
members, and as eight out of the twelve are elected by the four
Provincial Committees--the remaining four being appointed by the
Department, one from each province--it will be seen that the Council of
Agriculture exercises an influence upon the administration commensurate
with its own representative character. The Board of Technical
Instruction, consisting of twenty-one members, together with the
President and Vice-President of the Department, has a less simple
constitution, owing to the fact that it is concerned with the more
complex life of the urban districts of the country. As I have said, the
Council of Agriculture elects only four members--one for each province.
The Department appoints four others; each of the County Boroughs of
Dublin and Belfast appoints three members; the remaining four County
Boroughs appoint one member each; a joint Committee of the Councils of
the large urban districts surrounding Dublin appoint one member; one
member is appointed by the Commissioners of National Education, and one
member by the Intermediate Board of Education.

The two Boards have to advise upon all matters submitted to them by the
Department in connection, in the one case, with agriculture and other
rural industries and inland fisheries, and, in the other case, in
connection with Technical Instruction. The advisory powers of the Boards
are very real, for the expenditure of all moneys out of the Endowment
funds is subject to their concurrence. Hence, while they have not
specific administrative powers and apparently have only the right of
veto, it is obvious that, if they wished, they might largely force their
own views upon the Department by refusing to sanction the expenditure of
money upon any of the Department's proposals, until these were so
modified as practically to be their own proposals. It is, therefore,
clear that the machinery can only work harmoniously and efficiently so
long as it is moved by a right spirit. Above all it is necessary that
the central administrative body should gain such a measure of popular
confidence as to enable it, without loss of influence, to resist
proposals for expenditure upon schemes which might ensure great
popularity at the moment, but would do permanent harm to the industrial
character we are all trying to build up. I need not fear contradiction
at the hands of a single member of either Board when I say that up to
the present perfect harmony has reigned throughout. The utmost
consideration has been shown by the Boards for the difficulties which
the Department have to overcome; and I think I may add that due regard
has been paid by the administrative authority to the representative
character and the legitimate wishes of the bodies which advise and
largely control it.

The other statutory body attached to the Department has a significance
and potential importance in strange contrast to the humble place it
occupies in the statute book. The Agriculture and Technical Instruction
(Ireland) Act, 1899, has, like many other Acts, a part entitled
'Miscellaneous,' in which the draughtsman's skill has attended to
multifarious practical details, and made provision for all manner of
contingencies, many of which the layman might never have thought of or
foreseen. Travelling expenses for Council, Boards, and Committees,
casual vacancies thereon, a short title for the Act, and a seal for the
Department, definitions, which show how little we know of our own
language, and a host of kindred matters are included. In this miscellany
appears the following little clause:--

     For the purpose of co-ordinating educational administration there
     shall be established a Consultative Committee consisting of the
     following members:--

     (a.) The Vice-President of the Department, who shall be chairman
     thereof;

     (b.) One person to be appointed by the Commissioners of National
     Education;

     (c.) One person to be appointed by the Intermediate Education
     Board;

     (d.) One person to be appointed by the Agricultural Board; and

     (e.) One person to be appointed by the Board of Technical
     Instruction.

Now the real value of this clause, and in this I think it shows a
consumate statesmanship, lies not in what it says, but in what it
suggests. The Committee, it will be observed, has an immensely important
function, but no power beyond such authority as its representative
character may afford. Any attempt to deal with a large educational
problem by a clause in a measure of this kind would have alarmed the
whole force of unco-ordinated pedagogy, and perhaps have wrecked the
Bill. The clause as it stands is in harmony with the whole spirit of the
new movement and of the legislation provided for its advancement. The
Committee may be very useful in suggesting improvements in educational
administration which will prevent unnecessary overlapping and lead to
co-operation between the systems concerned. Indeed it has already made
suggestions of far-reaching importance, which have been acted upon by
the educational authorities represented upon it. As I have said in an
earlier chapter when discussing Irish education from the practical
point of view, I have great faith in the efficacy of the economic factor
in educational controversy, and this Committee is certainly in a
position to watch and pronounce on any defects in our educational system
which the new efforts to deal practically with our industrial and
commercial problems may disclose.

There remains to be explained only one feature of the new administrative
machinery, and it is a very important one. The Recess Committee had
recommended the adaptation to Ireland of a type of central institution
which it had found in successful operation on the Continent wherever it
had pursued its investigations. So far as schemes applicable to the
whole country were concerned, the central Department, assuming that it
gained the confidence of the Council and Boards, might easily justify
its existence. But the greater part of its work, the Recess Committee
saw, would relate to special localities, and could not succeed without
the cordial co-operation of the people immediately concerned. This fact
brought Mr. Gerald Balfour face to face with a problem which the Recess
Committee could not solve in its day, because, when it sat, there still
existed the old grand jury system, though its early abolition had been
promised. It was extremely fortunate that to the same minister fell the
task of framing both the Act of 1898, which revolutionised local
government, and the Act of 1899, now under review. The success with
which these two Acts were linked together by the provisions of the
latter forms an interesting lesson in constructive statesmanship. Time
will, I believe, thoroughly discredit the hostile criticism which
withheld its due mead of praise from the most fruitful policy which any
administration had up to that time ever devised for the better
government of Ireland.

The local authorities created by the Act of 1898 provided the machinery
for enabling the representatives of the people to decide themselves, to
a large extent, upon the nature of the particular measures to be adopted
in each locality and to carry out the schemes when formulated. The Act
creating the new Department empowered the council of any county or of
any urban district, or any two or more public bodies jointly, to appoint
committees, composed partly of members of the local bodies and partly of
co-opted persons, for the purpose of carrying out such of the
Department's schemes as are of local, and not of general importance.
True to the underlying principle of the new movement--the principle of
self-reliance and local effort--the Act lays it down that 'the
Department shall not, in the absence of any special considerations,
apply or approve of the application of money ... to schemes in respect
of which aid is not given out of money provided by local authorities or
from other local sources.' To meet this requirement the local
authorities are given the power of raising a limited rate for the
purposes of the Act. By these two simple provisions for local
administration and local combination, the people of each district were
made voluntarily contributory both in effort and in money, towards the
new practical developments, and given an interest in, and
responsibility for their success. It was of the utmost importance that
these new local authorities should be practically interested in the
business concerns of the country which the Department was to serve. Mr.
Gerald Balfour himself, in introducing the Local Government Bill, had
shown that he was under no illusion as to the possible disappointment to
which his great democratic experiment might at first give rise. He
anticipated that it would "work through failure to success." To put it
plainly, the new bodies might devote a great deal of attention to
politics and very little to business. I am told by those best qualified
to form an opinion (some of my informants having been, to say the least,
sceptical as to the wisdom of the experiment), that notwithstanding some
extravagances in particular instances, it can already be stated
positively that local government in Ireland, taken as a whole, has not
suffered in efficiency by the revolution which it has undergone. This is
the opinion of officials of the Local Government Board,[44] and refers
mainly to the transaction of the fiscal business of the new local
authorities. From a different point of observation I shall presently
bear witness to a display of administrative capacity on the part of the
many statutory committees, appointed by County, Borough, and District
Councils to co-operate with the Department, which is most creditable to
the thought and feeling of the people.

It would be quite unfair to a large body of farmers in Ireland if, in
describing the administrative machinery for carrying out an economic
policy based upon self-help and dependent for its success upon the
conciliatory spirit abroad in the country, I were to ignore the part
played by the large number of co-operative associations, the
organisation, work and multiplication of which have been described in a
former chapter. The Recess Committee, in their enquiries, found that, in
the countries whose competition Ireland feels most keenly, Departments
of Agriculture had come to recognise it as an axiom of their policy that
without organisation for economic purposes amongst the agricultural
classes, State aid to agriculture must be largely ineffectual, and even
mischievous. Such Departments devote a considerable part of their
efforts to promoting agricultural organisation. Short a time as this
Department has been in existence it has had some striking evidence of
the justice of these views. As will be seen from the First Annual Report
of the Department, it was only where the farmers were organised in
properly representative societies that many of the lessons the
Department had to teach could effectually reach the farming classes, or
that many of the agricultural experiments intended for their guidance
could be profitably carried out. Although these experiment schemes were
issued to the County Councils and the agricultural public generally, it
was only the farmers organised in societies who were really in a
position to take part in them. Some of these experiments, indeed, could
not be carried out at all except through such societies.

Both for the sake of efficiency in its educational work, and of economy
in administration, the Department would be obliged to lay stress on the
value of organisation.[45] But there are other reasons for its doing so:
industrial, moral, and social. In an able critique upon Bodley's
_France_ Madame Darmesteter, writing in the _Contemporary Review_, July,
1898, points out that even so well informed an observer of French life
as the author of that remarkable book failed to appreciate the steadying
influence exercised upon the French body politic by the network of
voluntary associations, the _syndicats agricoles_, which are the
analogues and, to some extent, the prototypes, in France of our
agricultural societies in Ireland. The late Mr. Hanbury, during his too
brief career as President of the Board of Agriculture, frequently dwelt
upon the importance of organising similar associations in England as a
necessary step in the development of the new agricultural policy which
he foreshadowed. His successor, Lord Onslow, has fully endorsed his
views, and in his speeches is to be found the same appreciation of the
exemplary self-reliance of the Irish farmers. I have already referred to
the keen interest which both agricultural reformers and English and
Welsh County Councils have been taking in the unexpectedly progressive
efforts of the Irish farmers to reorganise their industry and place
themselves in a position to take advantage of State assistance. I
believe that our farmers are going to the root of things, and that due
weight should be given to the silent force of organised self-help by
those who would estimate the degree in which the aims and sanguine
anticipations of the new movement in Ireland are likely to be realised.

And it is not only for its foundation upon self-reliance that the latest
development of Irish Government will have a living interest for
economists and students of political philosophy. They will see in the
facts under review a rapid and altogether healthy evolution of the Irish
policy so honourably associated with the name of Mr. Arthur Balfour. His
Chief Secretaryship, when all its storm and stress have been forgotten,
will be remembered for the opening up of the desolate, poverty-stricken
western seaboard by light railways, and for the creation of the
Congested Districts Board. The latter institution has gained so wide
and, as I think, well merited popularity, that many thought its
extension to other parts of Ireland would have been a simpler and safer
method of procedure than that actually recommended by the Recess
Committee, and adopted by Mr. Gerald Balfour. The Land Act of 1891
applied a treatment to the problem of the congested districts--a problem
of economic depression and industrial backwardness, differing rather in
degree than in kind from the economic problem of the greater part of
rural Ireland--as simple as it was new. A large capital sum of Irish
moneys was handed over to an unpaid commission consisting of Irishmen
who were acquainted with the local circumstances, and who were in a
position to give their services to a public philanthropic purpose. They
were given the widest discretion in the expenditure of the interest of
this capital sum, and from time to time their income has been augmented
from annually voted moneys. They were restricted only to measures
calculated permanently to improve the condition of the people, as
distinct from measures affording temporary relief.

I agree with those who hold that Mr. Arthur Balfour's plan was the best
that could be adopted at the moment. But events have marched rapidly
since 1891, and wholly new possibilities in the sphere of Irish economic
legislation and administration have been revealed. A new Irish mind has
now to be taken into account, and to be made part of any ameliorative
Irish policy. Hence it was not only possible, but desirable, to
administer State help more democratically in 1899 than in 1891. The
policy of the Congested Districts Board was a notable advance upon the
inaction of the State in the pre-famine times, and upon the system of
doles and somewhat objectless relief works of the latter half of the
nineteenth century; but the policy of the new departure now under review
was no less notable a departure from the paternalism of the Congested
Districts Board. When that body was called into existence it was thought
necessary to rely on persons nominated by the Government. When the
Department was created eight years later it was found possible, owing to
the broadening of the basis of local government and to the moral and
social effect of the new movement, to rely largely on the advice and
assistance of persons selected by the people themselves.

The two departments are in constant consultation as to the co-ordination
of their work, so as to avoid conflict of administrative system and
sociological principle in adjoining districts; and much has already been
done in this direction. My own experience has not only made me a firm
believer in the principle of self-help, but I carry my belief to the
extreme length of holding that the poorer a community is the more
essential is it to throw it as much as possible on its own resources, in
order to develop self-reliance. I recognise, however, the undesirability
of too sudden changes of system in these matters. Meanwhile, I may add
in this connection that the Wyndham Land Act enormously increases the
importance of the Congested Districts Board in regard to its main
function--that of dealing directly with congestion, by the purchase and
resettlement of estates, the migration of families, and the enlargement
of holdings.[46]

I have now said enough about the aims and objects, the constitution and
powers, and the relations with other Governmental institutions, of the
new Department, to enable the reader to form a fairly accurate estimate
of its general character, scope and purpose. From what it is I shall
pass in the next chapter to what it does, and there I must describe its
everyday work in some detail. But I wish I could also give the reader an
adequate picture of the surge of activities raised by the first plunge
of the Department into Irish life and thought. After a time the torrent
of business made channels for itself and went on in a more orderly
fashion; practical ideas and promising openings were sifted out at an
early stage of their approach to the Department from those which were
neither one nor the other; time was economised, work distributed, and
the functions of demand and supply in relation to the Department's work
throughout Ireland were brought into proper adjustment with each other.
Yet, even at first, to a sympathetic and understanding view, the waste
of time and thought involved in dealing with impossible projects and
dispelling false hopes was compensated for by the evidence forced upon
us that the Irish people had no notion of regarding the Department as an
alien institution with which they need concern themselves but little,
however much it might concern itself with them. They were never for a
moment in doubt as to its real meaning and purpose. They meant to make
it their own and to utilise it in the uplifting of their country. No
description of the machinery of the institution could explain the real
place which it took in the life of the country from the very beginning.
But perhaps it may give the reader a more living interest in this part
of the story, and a more living picture of the situation, if I try to
convey to his mind some of the impressions left on my own, by my
experiences during the period immediately following the projection of
this new phenomenon into Irish consciousness.

When in Upper Merrion-street, Dublin, opposite to the Land Commission,
big brass plates appeared upon the doors of a row of houses announcing
that there was domiciled the Department of Agriculture and Technical
Instruction, the average man in the street might have been expected to
murmur, 'Another Castle Board,' and pass on. It was not long, however,
before our visiting list became somewhat embarrassing. We have since got
down, as I have said, to a more humdrum, though no less interesting,
official life inside the Department. But let the reader imagine himself
to have been concealed behind a screen in my office on a day when some
event, like the Dublin Horse Show, brought crowds in from the country to
the Irish capital. Such an experience would certainly have given him a
new understanding of some then neglected men and things. While I was
opening the morning's letters and dealing with "Files" marked "urgent,"
he would see nothing to distinguish my day's work from that of other
ministers, who act as a link between the permanent officials of a
spending Department and the Government of the day. But presently a
stream of callers would set in, and he would begin to realise that the
minister is, in this case, a human link of another kind--a link between
the people and the Government. A courteous and discreet Private
Secretary, having attended to those who have come to the wrong
department, and to those who are satisfied with an interview with him or
with the officer who would have to attend to their particular business,
brings into my not august presence a procession of all sorts and
conditions of men. Some know me personally, some bring letters of
introduction or want to see me on questions of policy. Others--for these
the human link is most needed--must see the ultimate source of
responsibility, which, in Ireland, whether it be head of a family or of
a Department, is reduced from the abstract to the concrete by the
pregnant pronoun 'himself.' I cannot reveal confidences, but I may give
a few typical instances of, let us say, callers who might have called.

First comes a visitor, who turns out to be a 'man with an idea,' just
home from an unpronounceable address in Scandinavia. He has come to tell
me that we have in Ireland a perfect gold mine, if we only knew it--in
extent never was there such a gold field--no illusory pockets--good
payable stuff in sight for centuries to come--and so on for five
precious minutes, which seem like half a day, during which I have
realised that he is an inventor, and that it is no good asking him to
come to the point. But I keep my eye riveted on his leather bag which is
filled to bursting point, and manifest an intelligent interest and
burning curiosity. The suggestion works, and out of the bag come black
bars and balls, samples of fabrics ranging from sack-cloth to fine
linen, buttons, combs, papers for packing and for polite correspondence,
bottles of queer black fluid, and a host of other miscellaneous wares. I
realise that the particular solution of the Irish Question which is
about to be unfolded is the utilisation of our bogs. Well, this _is_
one of the problems with which we have to deal. It is physically
possible to make almost anything out of this Irish asset, from moss
litter to billiard balls, and though one would not think it, aeons of
energy have been stored in these inert looking wastes by the apparently
unsympathetic sun, energy which some think may, before long, be
converted into electricity to work all the smokeless factories which the
rising generation are to see. Indeed, the vista of possibilities is
endless, the only serious problem that remains to be solved being 'how
to make it pay,' and upon that aspect of the question, unhappily, my
visitor had no light to throw.

The next visitor, who brings with him a son and a daughter, is himself
the product of an Irish bog in the wildest of the wilds. His Parish
Priest had sent him to me. A little awkwardness, which is soon
dispelled, and the point is reached. This fine specimen of the 'bone and
sinew' has had a hard struggle to bring up his 'long family'; but, with
a capable wife, who makes the most of the _res angusta domi_--of the
pig, the poultry, and even of the butter from the little black cows on
the mountain--he has risen to the extent of his opportunities. The
children are all doing something. Lace and crochet come out of the
cabin, the yarn from the wool of the 'mountainy' sheep, carded and spun
at home, is feeding the latest type of hosiery knitting machine and the
hereditary handloom. The story of this man's life which was written to
me by the priest cannot find space here. The immediate object of his
visit is to get his eldest daughter trained as a poultry instructress to
take part in some of the 'County Schemes' under the Department, and to
obtain for his eldest son, who has distinguished himself under the
tuition of the Christian Brothers, a travelling scholarship. For this he
has been recommended by his teachers. They had marked this bright boy
out as an ideal agricultural instructor, and if I could give the reader
all the particulars of the case it would be a rare illustration of the
latent human resources we mean to develop in the Ireland that is to be.
I explain that the young man must pass a qualifying examination, but am
glad to be able to admit that the circumstances of his life, which would
have to be taken into account in deciding between the qualified, are in
his case of a kind likely to secure favourable consideration.

And now enters a sporting friend of mine, a 'practical angler,' who
comes with a very familiar tale of woe. The state of the salmon
fisheries is deplorable: if the Department does not fulfil its obvious
duties there will not be a salmon in Ireland outside a museum in ten
years more. He has lived for forty-five years on the banks of a salmon
river, and he knows that I don't fish. But this much the conversation
reveals: his own knowledge of the subject is confined to the piece of
river he happens to own, the gossip he hears at his club, and the ideas
of the particular poacher he employs as his gillie. His suggested remedy
is the abolition of all netting. But I have to tell him that only the
day before I had a deputation from the net fishermen in the estuary of
this very river, whose bitter complaint was that this 'poor man's
industry' was being destroyed by the mackerel and herring nets round the
coast, and--I thought my friend would have a fit--by the way in which
the gentlemen on the upper waters neglect their duty of protecting the
spawning fish! Some belonging to the lower water interest carried their
scepticism as to the efficacy of artificial propagation to the length of
believing that hatcheries are partially responsible for the decrease. As
so often happens, the opposing interests, disagreeing on all else, find
that best of peacemakers, a common enemy, in the Government. The
Department is responsible--for two opposite reasons, it is true, but
somehow they seem to confirm each other. We must labour to find some
other common ground, starting from the recognition that the salmon
fisheries are a national asset which must be made to subserve the
general public interest. I assure my friend that when all parties make
their proper contribution in effort and in cash, the Department will not
be backward in doing their part.

At the end of this interview a messenger brings a telegram for 'himself'
from a stockowner in a remote district.[47] 'My pigs,' runs one of the
most businesslike communications I ever received, 'are all spotted.
What shall I do?' I send it to the Veterinary Branch, which, with the
Board of Agriculture in England, is engaged in a scheme for staying the
ravages of swine fever, a scheme into which the late Mr. Hanbury threw
himself with his characteristic energy. The problem is of immense
importance, and the difficulty is not mainly quadrupedal. Unless the
police 'spot' the spotted pigs, we too often hear nothing about them. I
am sure it must be daily brought home to the English Board, as it is to
the Irish Department, that an enormous addition might be made to the
wealth of the country if our veterinary officers were intelligently and
actively aided, in their difficult duties for the protection of our
flocks and herds, by those most immediately concerned.

So far it has been an interesting morning bright with the activities out
of which the future is to be made. The element of hope has predominated,
but now comes a visitor who wishes to see me upon the one part of my
duties and responsibilities which is distasteful to me--the exercise of
patronage. He has been unloaded upon me by an influential person, upon
whom he has more legitimate claims than upon the Department. He has
prepared the way for a favourable reception by getting his friends to
write to my friends, many of whom have already fulfilled a promise to
interview me in his behalf. His mother and two maiden aunts have written
letters which have drawn from my poor Private Secretary, who has to read
them all, the dry quotation, 'there's such a thing as being so good as
to be good for nothing.' The young hopeful quickly puts an end to my
speculations as to the exact capacity in which he means to serve the
Department by applying for an inspectorship. I ask him what he proposes
to inspect, and the sum and substance of his reply is that he is not
particular, but would not mind beginning at a moderate salary, say £200
a year. As for his qualifications, they are a sadly minus quantity, his
blighted career having included failure for the army, and a clerkship in
a bank, which only lasted a week when he proved to be deficient in the
second and dangerous in the third of the three R's. His case reminds me
of a story of my ranching days, which the exercise of patronage has so
often recalled to my mind that I must out with it. Riding into camp one
evening, I turned my horse loose and got some supper, which was a vilely
cooked meal even for a cow camp. Recognising in the cook a cowboy I had
formerly employed, I said to him, 'You were a way up cow hand, but as
cook you are no account. Why did you give up riding and take to cooking?
What are your qualifications as a cook any way?' 'Qualifications!' he
replied, 'why, don't you know I've got varicose veins?' My caller's
qualifications are of an equally negative description, though not of a
physical kind. He is one of the young Micawbers, to whom the Department
from its first inception has been the something which was to turn up. He
had, of course, testimonials which in any other country would have
commanded success by their terms and the position of the signatories,
but which in Ireland only illustrate the charity with which we condone
our moral cowardice under the name of good nature. I am glad when this
interview closes.

One more type--a Nationalist Member of Parliament! He does not often
darken the door of a Government office--they all have the same
structural defect, no front stairs--he never has asked and never thought
he would ask anything from the Government. But he is interested in some
poor fishermen of County Clare who pursue their calling under cruel
disadvantages for want of the protection from the Atlantic rollers which
a small breakwater would afford. It is true that they were the worst
constituents he had--- went against him in 'The Split,'--but if I saw
how they lived, and so on. I knew all about the case. A breakwater to be
of any use would cost a very large sum, and the local authority, though
sympathetic, did not see their way to contribute their proportion, and
without a local contribution, I explained, the Department could not,
consistently with its principles, unless in most exceptional--Here he
breaks in: 'Oh! that red tape. You're as bad as the rest--exceptional,
indeed! Why, everything is exceptional in my constituency. I am a bit
that way myself. But, seriously, the condition of these poor people
would move even a Government official. Besides, you remember the night I
made thirteen speeches on the Naval Estimates--the Government wanted a
little matter of twenty millions--and you met me in the Lobby and told
me you wished to go to bed, and asked me what I really wanted, and--I
am always reasonable--I said I would pass the whole Naval Programme if I
got the Government to give them a boat-slip at Ballyduck.--"Done!" you
said, and we both went home.--I believe you knew that I had got
constituency matters mixed up, that Ballyduck was inland, and that it
was Ballycrow that I meant to say.--But you won't deny that you are
under a moral obligation.'

Well, I would go into the matter again very carefully--for I thought we
might help these fishermen in some other way--and write to him. He
leaves me; and, while outside the door he travels over the main points
with my Private Secretary, the lights and shades in the picture which
this strange personality has left on my mind throw me back behind the
practical things of to-day. In Parliament facing the Sassanach, in
Ireland facing their police, he has for years--the best years of his
life--displayed the same love of fighting for fighting's sake. In the
riots he has provoked, and they are not a few, he is ever regardless of
his own skin, and would be truly miserable if he inflicted any serious
bodily harm on a human being--even a landlord. It is impossible not to
like this very human anachronism, who, within the limitations imposed by
the convenience of a citizenship to which he unwillingly belongs, does
battle

    For Faith, and Fame, and Honour, and the ruined hearths of Clare.

The reader may take all this as fiction. I am sure no one will annoy me
by trying on any of the caps I have displayed on the counter of my
shop. What I do fear is that the picture of some of my duties which I
have given may have made a wrong impression of the Department's work
upon the reader's mind. He may have come to the conclusion that,
contrary to all the principles laid down, an attempt was being made to
do for the people things which the new movement was to induce the people
to do for themselves. The Department may appear to be using its official
position and Government funds to constitute itself a sort of Universal
Providence, exercising an authority and a discretion over matters upon
which in any progressive community the people must decide for
themselves. However near to the appearances such an impression might be,
nothing could be further from the facts. If I have helped the reader to
unravel the tangled skein of our national life, if I have sufficiently
revealed the mind of the new movement to show that there is in it 'a
scheme of things entire,' it should be quite clear that the deliberate
intentions both of Mr. Gerald Balfour and of those Irishmen whom he took
into his confidence are being fulfilled in letter and in spirit. It only
remains for me to attempt an adequate description of the work of the
Department created by that Chief Secretary, and, above all, of the way
in which the people themselves are playing the part which his
statesmanship assigned to them.

FOOTNOTES:

[44] See Report of the Local Government Board, 1901-2.

[45] See Annual General Report of the Department 1900-1901, pp. 25-27.

[46] _Cf. ante_, pp. 46-49.

[47] No fiction about this, nor about the following letter to the
Secretary:--

'The Scratatory, Vitny Dept.

'Honord Sir,

'I want to let ye know the terible state we're in now. Al the pigs about
here is dyin in showers. Send down a Vit at oncet.'



CHAPTER X.

GOVERNMENT WITH THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.


In the preceding chapter I attempted to give to the reader a rough
impression of the general purpose and miscellaneous functions of the new
Department. I described in some detail the constitution and powers of
the Council of Agriculture--a sort of Business Parliament--which
criticises our doings and elects representatives on our Boards; and of
the two Boards which, in addition to their advisory functions, possess
the power of the purse. I laid special stress upon the important part
these instruments of the popular will were intended to play as a link
between the people and the Department. I gave a similar description and
explanation of the Committees of Agriculture and Technical Instruction,
appointed by local representative bodies, by means of which the people
were brought into touch with the local as distinct from the central
work, and made responsible for its success. The details were necessarily
dull; and so also must be those which will now be required in order to
indicate the general nature and scope of the work for the accomplishment
of which all this machinery was designed. Yet I am not without hope
that even the general reader may find a deep human interest in the
practical endeavour of the humbler classes of my fellow-countrymen to
reconstruct their national life upon the solid foundation of honest
work.

The Department has at the time of writing been in existence for three
years, the term of office, it will be remembered, of the Council of
Agriculture and of the two Boards. It would be unreasonable to expect in
so short a time any great achievement; but the understanding critic will
attach importance rather to the spirit in which the work was approached
than to the actual amount of work which was accomplished. He may say
that no true estimate of its value can be formed until the enthusiasm
aroused by its novelty has had time to wear off. Those of us who know
the real character of the work are quite satisfied that the interest
which it aroused during the period in which the people had yet to grasp
its meaning and utility is not likely to become less real as the blossom
fades and the fruit begins to swell. The attitude of the Irish people
towards the Department and its work has not been that of a child towards
a new toy, but of a full-grown man towards a piece of his life's work,
upon which he feels that he entered all too late. Indeed, so quickly
have the people grasped the significance of the new opportunities for
material advancement now placed within their reach, that the Department
has had to carry out, and to assist the statutory local committees in
carrying out, a number and variety of schemes which, at any rate, proved
that public opinion did not regard it as a transitory experiment; but
as a much-needed institution which, if properly utilised, might do much
to make up for lost time, and which, in any case, had come to stay. The
amount of the work which we were thus constrained to undertake was
somewhat embarrassing; but so general and so genuine was the desire to
make a start that we have done our best to keep pace with the local
demands for immediate action. The staff of the Department caught the
spirit in which the task had been set by the country, and showed a keen
anxiety to get to work; and I am glad to have an opportunity of
acknowledging that both the indoor and outdoor support it has received
leaves the Department without excuse if it has not already justified its
existence.

I shall deal as mercifully as I can with my readers in helping them
towards an understanding of what has been actually done in the three
years under review. I am aware that if I were to attempt a description
of all the schemes which the variety of local needs suggested, and in
the execution of which the assistance of the many-sided Department was
sought and obtained, I should lose the patient readers, who have not
already fainted by the way, in a jungle where they could not see the
wood for the trees. These things can be studied by those
interested,--and they I hope, in Ireland at any rate, are not few--in
the Annual Reports and other official publications of the Department.
For the general reader I must try to indicate in broad outline the
nature and scope of that side of the new movement which seeks to
supplement organised self-help and open the way for individual
enterprise by a well considered measure of State assistance. I shall be
more than satisfied if I succeed in giving him a clear insight into the
manner in which the delicate task of making State interference with the
business of the people not only harmless but beneficial has been set
about. It is obvious that the fulfilment of this object must depend upon
the soundness of the economic policy pursued, and upon the establishment
and maintenance of mutual confidence between the central authority and
the popular representative bodies through which the people utilise the
new facilities afforded by the State.

I think the best way of giving the information which is required for an
understanding of our somewhat complicated scheme for agricultural and
industrial development under democratic control is first to explain the
line of demarcation which we have drawn between the respective functions
of the Department and the people's committees throughout the country;
and then I must give a rapid description of some of the most important
features of the Department's policy and programme. I shall add a
sufficiency of detail from the actual work accomplished in these
organising and experimental years, to illustrate both the difficulties
which are incidental to such a policy, and the manner in which these
difficulties may be surmounted.

When it became manifest that both the country and the Department were
anxious to drive ahead, the first thing to do was to lay down a _modus
operandi_ which would assign to the local and central bodies their
proper shares in the work and responsibilities and secure some degree of
order and uniformity in administration. This was quickly done, and the
plan adopted works smoothly. The Department gives the local committee
general information as to the kind of purpose to which it can legally
and properly apply the funds jointly contributed from the rates and the
central exchequer. The committee, after full consideration of the
conditions, needs and industrial environment of the community for which
it acts, selects certain definite projects which it considers most
applicable to its district, allocates the amount required to each
project, and sends the scheme to the Department for its approval. When
the scheme is formally approved, it becomes the official scheme in the
locality for the current year; and the local committee has to carry it
out.

Although harmony now usually exists between the local and central
authorities to the advantage and comfort of both, a considerable amount
of friction was inevitable until they got to understand each other. The
occasional over-riding of local desires by the 'autocratic' Department,
which in the first rush of its work had to act in a somewhat peremptory
fashion, was, no doubt, irritating. Now, however, it is generally
recognised that the central body, having not only the advice of its
experts and access to information from similar Departments in other
countries to guide it, but also being in a position to profit by the
exchange of ideas which is constantly going on between it and all the
local committees in Ireland, is in a position of special advantage for
deciding as to the bearing of local schemes upon national interests, and
sometimes even as to their soundness from a purely local point of view.

Passing now from the conditions under which the Department's work is
done, we come to review some typical portions of the work itself so far
as it has proceeded. This falls naturally, both as regards that which is
done by the central authority for the country at large and that which is
locally administered, into two divisions. The first consists of direct
aid to agriculture and other rural industries, and to sea and inland
fisheries. The second consists of indirect aid given to these objects,
and also to town manufactures and commerce, through education--a term
which must be interpreted in its widest sense. Needless to say, direct
aids, being tangible and immediately beneficial, are the more popular: a
bull, a boat, or a hand-loom is more readily appreciated than a lecture,
a leaflet, or an idea. Yet in the Department we all realise--and, what
is more important, the people are coming to realise--that by far the
most important work we have to do is that which belongs to the sphere of
education, especially education which has a distinctly practical aim. To
this branch of the subject I shall, therefore, first direct the reader's
attention.

It must be remembered that, for reasons fully set out in the earlier
portions of the book, I am treating the Irish Question as being, in its
most important economic and social aspects, the problem of rural life.
The Department's scheme of technical instruction, therefore, need not
here be detailed in its application to the needs of our few
manufacturing towns, but only in its application to agriculture and the
subsidiary industries. I do not suggest that the questions relating to
the revival of industry in our large manufacturing centres and
provincial towns are not of the first importance. The local authorities
in these places have eagerly come into the movement, and the Department
has already taken part in founding, in our cities and larger towns,
comprehensive schemes of technical education, as to the outcome of which
we have every reason to be hopeful. Not only that, but it is highly
necessary for the Department to consider these schemes in close relation
to its work upon the more specially rural problems, for, as I have said
elsewhere,[48] the interdependence of town and country, and the
establishment of proper relations between their systems of industry and
education, is a prime factor in Irish prosperity. But the rural problem,
as I have so often reiterated, is the core of the Irish Question; and to
deal at all adequately with technical education, so far as we carry it
on upon lines common both to Great Britain and Ireland, would lead us
too far afield on the present occasion. I must, therefore, content
myself with indicating my reasons for leaving it rather on one side, and
pass on to a brief description of the Department's educational work in
respect of its two-fold aim of developing agriculture and the subsidiary
industries.

In the case of agriculture our task is perfectly plain. We know pretty
well what we want to do, for we are dealing with an existing industry,
and with known conditions. The productivity of the soil, the demand of
the market, the means of transport from the one to the other, are all
easily ascertainable. What most needs to be provided in Ireland is a
much higher technical skill, a more advanced scientific and commercial
knowledge, as applied to agricultural production and distribution.[49]
This, in our belief, depends, more than upon any other agency, upon the
soundness of the education which is provided to develop the capacities
of those in charge of these operations. Our chief difficulty is that of
co-ordinating our teaching of technical agriculture with the general
educational systems of the country--a difficulty which the other
educational authorities are all united with us in seeking to remove.

When, on the other hand, education--again, I believe, the chief agency
for the purpose--is considered as a means for the creation of new
industries, we come face to face with a wholly different problem. We
have no longer an industry which we are seeking to foster and develop
going on under our eyes, steadying us in our theorising, and in our
experimenting upon the mind of the worker, by bringing us into close
touch with the actual conditions of his work. Our chief aim must be to
develop his adaptability for the ever-changing and, we hope, improving
economic industrial conditions amidst which he will have to work. But
unless we can satisfy parents that the schemes of development in which
their children are being educated to take their place have an assured
prospect of practical realisation, they will naturally prefer an
inferior teaching which seems to them to offer a better prospect of an
immediate wage or salary. The teachers in the secondary schools of the
country, who, so far, have shown a desire to assist us in giving an
industrial and commercial direction to our educational policy, would
also in that event have to meet the wishes of the parents; and thus
education would fall back into the old rut with its cramming, its
examinations and result fees--all leading to the multiplication of
clerks and professional men, and preventing us from turning the thoughts
and energies of the people towards productive occupations.

The natural trend of our educational policy will now be clear. Leaving
out of account large towns, where our problem is, as I have said, the
same as that which confronts the industrial classes in the manufacturing
centres of Great Britain, we are chiefly concerned with the application
of science to the cultivation of the soil and the improvement of live
stock, and of business principles to the commercial side of farming;
with the teaching of dairying, horticulture, apiculture, and what has
been called farm-yard lore, outside the rural home, and with domestic
economy inside. On the industrial as distinct from the agricultural side
of the work in rural localities, technical instruction must be directed
towards the development of subsidiary rural industries.

We early came to the conclusion that we could not expect to find a
system which we could simply transplant from some other country. The
system adopted in Great Britain, where each county or group of counties
maintains an agricultural college and an experimental farm, and many
more elaborate systems on the continent, were all found on examination
to be inapplicable to our own rural conditions, unsuitable to the
national character, and unrelated to the history of our agriculture.
Many of these schemes might have turned out a few highly qualified
authorities on the theory of agriculture, and even good practical
directors for those who farm on a large scale. But we are dealing with a
country with great possibilities from an agricultural point of view, but
where, nevertheless, agriculture in many parts is in a very backward
condition, and where it is probably safe to say that three-fifths of the
farms are crowded on one-fourth of the land. We are dealing with a
community with whom the systems of elementary, secondary and higher
education have not tended to prepare the student for agricultural
pursuits. A system of agricultural and domestic education suited to the
wants of those who are to farm the land must recognise and foster the
new spirit of self-help and hope which is springing up in the country,
and must be made so interesting as to become a serious rival to the race
meeting and the public-house. The daily drudgery of farm work must be
counteracted by the ambition to possess the best stock, the neatest
homestead and fences, the cleanest and the best tilled fields. The
unsolved problem of agricultural education is to devise a system which
will reach down to the small working farmers who form the great bulk of
the wealth producers of Ireland, to give them new hope, a new interest,
new knowledge and, I might add, a new industrial character.

We were met at the outset by the difficulty which would apply to any
system--that of finding trained teachers. This deficiency was felt in
two directions--first, in the secondary school, in which the preliminary
scientific studies should be undertaken, which are necessary to enable a
lad to profit by more advanced instruction later on; and, secondly, in
the special training of technical agriculture. It would not have been
desirable to overcome these difficulties by any very extensive
importation of teachers from without. I certainly hold the occasional
importation of teachers with outside experience to be most desirable,
but these should not form more than a leaven of the pedagogic lump; for
it is a serious hindrance when to the task of familiarising students
with a new system of education there is added that of familiarising a
large body of teachers with the intellectual, social and economic
conditions of the people among whom they are to work.

The manner in which the teacher difficulty was surmounted may be briefly
stated, first, as regards the school, and, secondly, as regards the
teaching of agriculture. Those already engaged in the teaching
profession could not be relegated again to the _status pupillaris_.
There was only one way in which they could assist us to overcome the
difficulty, and that involved a great sacrifice on their part, the
sacrifice of their well-earned vacation, but a sacrifice which they
willingly made. The teachers most urgently needed were those of
practical science, with knowledge of experimental work; and about five
hundred teachers from secondary schools, in order to qualify themselves,
have attended summer courses specially organised by the Department at
several centres in Ireland, while about four hundred have availed
themselves of special summer courses in such subjects as drawing, manual
instruction, domestic economy, building construction, wood-carving and
modelling.

For the provision of a future supply of thoroughly trained teachers of
science and of technology, including agriculture, the Royal College of
Science has been re-organised. Although this institution was brought
under the new conditions little more than three years ago, it will be
seen that no time has been lost when I state that the first batch of men
who have received a three years' course of training under the new
programme are already at work under County Committees. For the training
of these teachers, scholarships had to be provided, and new professors
and teachers, particularly in agriculture, had to be appointed.

In regard to agricultural instruction we had to begin by carefully
considering what, among many alternative plans, should be our immediate
as well as our more remote aims. The Department's officers had studied
Continental systems, and some of them had taken part in establishing
systems of agricultural education in Great Britain. But it was not until
the summer of 1901 that we had sufficiently studied the question in
Ireland itself, with direct reference to the history, the environment,
and the ideals of the people, to justify us in initiating a policy or
formulating a definite programme for its execution.[50] The main object
was to secure for the youth of the present generation who will later be
concerned with agriculture, sound and thorough instruction in its
principles and practice. Everyone who has given any thought to the
subject knows how difficult it is to teach technical agriculture unless
provision has been made in the general education of the country for
instruction in those fundamental principles of science which, recognised
or unrecognised, lie at the root of, and profoundly influence
agricultural practice. This foundation, as I have shown, is now being
laid in Ireland. In our scheme the boy who has managed to avail himself
of a two or three years' course of practical science in one of the
secondary schools is then prepared to take full advantage of courses of
technology, and will have to make up his mind as to the career he is to
follow. We are now considering the case of a boy who is going to become
a farmer, the class to which we chiefly look for the future well-being
of Ireland. It is necessary that he should be taught the practical as
well as the technical side of agriculture. The practical work he can
learn upon his father's farm during spring and summer, and the technical
by continuing his studies during the winter months in a school of
agriculture. The establishment of such winter schools is in
contemplation. But, in the meanwhile, to bring home to farmers the
advantages of a first-class agricultural education for their sons, and
at the same time to teach these farmers the more practical application
of science to agriculture, the Department decided on a preliminary
period of Itinerant Instruction.

The teacher difficulty, experienced on all sides of our work, was
probably felt more acutely in regard to the specialised teachers of
agriculture than in any other connection. Here it was necessary to take
the young men brought up upon farms and possessed of the normal
qualifications of the Irish practical farmer. We then had to make them
into teachers by adding to their inherited and home-manufactured
capacities a scientific training. In the training of agricultural
teachers the Albert Institute, Glasnevin, has been utilised by the
Department. This school has also been re-organised to meet the new
programme, and it will probably form in future a link between the winter
schools of agriculture and the Royal College of Science in the training
of our agricultural teachers.

Partly by these methods, partly by the temporary engagement of lecturers
on special subjects, and partly by the appointment of trained teachers
from England or Scotland, the system of itinerant instruction has been
brought into operation as fully as could be expected in the time.
Already half the County Committees have been provided with County
instructors, while the remainder have nearly all drafted schemes and
allocated funds for a similar purpose, ready to go to work as soon as
more teachers have been trained.

The Itinerant Instruction scheme, it may be pointed out, besides one
obvious, has another less immediately recognisable purpose. The direct
business of the itinerant instructor is, by the aid of experimental
plots, simple lectures, and demonstrations, to teach the farmers of his
district as much as they can take in without the scientific preparation
in which, as adults who have grown up under the old system of education,
they are still lacking. But he does more than that. He not only conducts
a school for adults, but in the very process of instruction he
necessarily makes them aware of the vital necessity of a school for the
young; and they begin, as parents, to understand and to desire the kind
of instruction in the schools of the country which will prepare their
children to take more advantage of the advanced teaching in agriculture
than they themselves can ever hope to do.

This preparation is provided for as follows. To the Department, as has
already been explained, was handed over the administration of the
Science and Art Grants formerly administered by South Kensington. The
Department accordingly drew up a programme of experimental science and
drawing, carrying capitation grants, for day secondary schools. The
Intermediate Education Board, acting on the suggestion of the
Consultative Committee for Co-ordinating Education,[51] adopted this
programme and at the same time undertook to accept the reports of the
Department's inspectors as the basis of their awards in the new
"subject." These steps insured the rapid and general introduction of
this practical teaching in secondary schools, and, owing particularly to
the spirit in which their authorities and teaching staffs accepted the
innovation, the work has been carried out with the happiest results.

I now come to the subjects grouped together under the classification of
'domestic economy.' These differ only in detail in their application to
town and country. To these subjects the Department attaches great
importance. In the industrial life of manufacturing towns I am persuaded
that far too little thought has been given to this element of industrial
efficiency. From a purely economic point of view a saving in the
worker's income due to superior housewifery is equivalent to an increase
in his earnings; but, morally, the superior thrift is, of course,
immensely more important. "Without economy," says Dr. Johnson, "none can
be rich, and with it few can be poor," and the education which only
increases the productiveness of labour and neglects the principles of
wise spending will place us at a disadvantage in the great industrial
struggle. When we come to consider domestic economy as an agency for
improving the conditions of the peasant home, not only by thrift, but by
increasing the general attractiveness of home life, the introduction of
a sound system of domestic economy teaching becomes not only important,
but vital.

The establishment of such a system and the task of making it operative
and effective in the country is beset with difficulties. The teacher
difficulty confronts us again, and also that of making pupils and their
parents understand that there are other objects in domestic training
than that of qualifying for domestic service. A corps of instructresses
in domestic economy is, however, already abroad throughout the country,
nearly all the County Councils having already appointed them. Some of
these teachers, who have made the best contributions towards the as yet
only partially determined question of the ultimate aim and present
possibilities of a course of instruction in hygiene, laundry work,
cookery, the management of children, sewing, and so forth, have told me
that the demand in rural districts seems to be chiefly for the class of
instruction which may lead to success in town life. I have heard of a
class of girls in a Connaught village who would not be content with
knowing the accomplishments of a farmer's wife until they had learned
how to make asparagus soup and cook sweetbreads. No doubt they had read
of the way things are done in the kitchens of the great. This tendency
should never be encouraged, but neither can it always be inflexibly
repressed without endangering the main objects of the class.

Women teachers of poultry-keeping, dairying, domestic science and
kindred subjects are trained at the Munster Institute, Cork, and the
School of Domestic Economy, Kildare Street, Dublin, both of which have
been equipped to meet the needs of the new programme. The want of
teachers, and not any lack of interest on the part of the country, has
alone prevented all the counties from adopting schemes for encouraging
improvement in all these branches of work. I may add that more than one
hundred and fifty of these qualified teachers are now at work under
County Committees.

I have already, in this chapter, indicated that outside large industrial
centres, our educational policy is, broadly speaking, twofold. We seek,
in the first place, through our programme in Experimental Science and
its allied subjects, now so generally adopted by secondary schools in
Ireland, to give that fundamental training in science and scientific
method which, most thinkers are agreed, constitutes a condition
precedent to sound specialised teaching of agriculture as well as other
forms of industry. We seek further, by methods less academic in
character--for example, by itinerant instruction which is of value
chiefly to those with whom 'school' is a thing of the past--to teach not
only improved agricultural methods but also simple industries, and to
promote the cultivation of industrial habits which are as essential to
the success of farming as to that of every other occupation. Classes in
manual work of various kinds--woodwork, carpentry, applied drawing and
building construction, lace and crochet making, needlework, dressmaking
and embroidery, sprigging, hosiery and other such subjects, have been
numerously and steadily attended.

I do not ignore the argument that such home industries must in time give
way before the competition of highly-organised factory industries. The
simple answer is that it is desirable, and indeed necessary, to employ
the energy now running to waste in our rural districts--energy which
cannot in the nature of things be employed in highly-organised
industries. To the small farmer and his family, time is a realisable,
though too often unrealised, asset, and it is part of our aim to aid the
family income by employing their waste time. Even if we can only cause
them to do at home what they now pay someone else to do, we shall not
only have improved their budget but shall have contributed to the
elevation of the standard of home life, and thus, in no small measure,
to the solution of the difficult problem of rural life in Ireland.

I think the reader will now understand the general character of the
problem with which we were confronted and the means by which its
solution is being sought. Our policy was not one which was likely to
commend itself to the "man in the street." Indeed, to be quite candid,
it was a little disappointing even to myself that I could not
immortalise my appointment by erecting monuments both to my constructive
ability and to my educational zeal in the shape of stately edifices at
convenient railway centres, preferably along the tourist routes. We have
had to stand the fire of the critic fresh from his holiday on the
Continent where he had seen agricultural and technological institutions,
magnificently housed and lavishly equipped, fitting generations of young
men and young women for competition with our less fortunate countrymen.
It is hard to prevail in argument against the man who has gone and seen
for himself. It is useless to point out to the man with a kodak that the
Corinthian façade and the marble columns of the _aula maxima_ which
aroused his patriotic envy are but a small part of the educational
structure which he saw and thought he understood. If he would read the
history of the systems and trace the successive stages by which the need
for these great institutions was established, he would have a little
more sympathy with the difficulties of the Department, a little more
patience with its Fabian policy.

I must not, however, utter a word which suggests that the Department has
any ground of complaint against the country for the spirit in which it
has been met; especially as there was one factor to be taken into
account which made it difficult for public opinion to approve of our
policy. As I have already explained, a large capital sum of a little
over £200,000 was handed over to the Department at its creation. During
the first year, what with the organisation of the staff, the thinking
out of a policy on every side of the Department's work, the constitution
of the statutory committees to administer its local schemes in town and
country, the agreement, after long discussion, between the central body
and these committees upon the local schemes, and all the other
preparatory steps which had to be taken before money could wisely be
applied, it is obvious that the Department could not have spent its
income. In the second year, and even the third year, savings were
effected, and the original capital sum has been largely increased. What
more natural than that in a poor country a spending Department which was
backward in spending should appear to be lacking in enterprise, if not
in administrative capacity? But whether the policy was right or wrong it
has unquestionably been approved by the best thought in the country, a
fact which throws a very interesting light upon the constitutional
aspects of the Department. At each successive stage the policy was
discussed at the Council of Agriculture and its practical operation was
dependent upon the consent of the Boards which have the power of the
purse. A Vice-President who had not these bodies at his back would be
powerless, in fact would have to resign. Thoughtless criticism has now
and again condemned not only the parsimonious action of the Department,
but the invertebrate conduct of the Council of Agriculture and the
Boards in tolerating it. The time will soon come when the service
rendered to their country by the members of the first Council and
Boards, who gave their representative backing to a slow but sure
educational policy, and scorned to seek popularity in showy projects and
local doles, will be gratefully remembered to them.

Already we have had some gratifying evidences that the country is with
us in the paramount importance we attach to education as the real need
of the hour. Most readers will be surprised to hear that in the short
time the Department has been at work it has aided in the equipment of
nearly two hundred science laboratories and of about fifty manual
instruction workshops, while the many-sided programme involved in the
movement as a whole is in operation in some four hundred schools
attended by thirty-six thousand pupils.

Nothing can be more gratifying than the unanimous testimony of the
officers of the Department to the increasing practical intelligence and
reasonableness of the numerous Committees responsible for the local
administration of the schemes which the Department has to approve of and
supervise. The demand for visible money's worth has largely given place
to a genuine desire for schemes having a practical educational value for
the industry of the district. County Clare is not generally considered
the most advanced part of Ireland, nor can Kilrush be very far distant
from 'the back of Godspeed'; yet even from that storm-battered outpost
of Irish ideas I was memorialised a year ago to induce the County
Council to pay less attention to the improvement of cattle and more to
the technical education of the peasantry.

Under the heading of direct aids to agriculture, rural industries, and
sea and inland fisheries, there is much important and useful work which
the Department has set in motion, partly by the use of its funds and
partly by suggestion and the organisation of local effort. The most
obvious, popular and easily understood schemes were those directed to
the improvement of live stock. The Department exercised its supervision
and control with the help of advisory committees composed of the best
experts it could get to volunteer advice upon the various classes of
live stock. It is unnecessary to give any details of these schemes. The
Department profited by the experience of, and received considerable
assistance from the Royal Dublin Society, which had for many years
administered a Government grant for the improvement of horses and
cattle. The broad principle adopted by the Department was that its
efforts and its available resources should be devoted rather to
improving the quality, than to increasing the quantity, of the stock in
the country, the latter function being regarded as belonging to the
region of private enterprise.

It is impossible to over-estimate the importance to the country of
having a widespread interest aroused and discussion stimulated on
problems of breeding which affect a trade of vast importance to the
economic standing of the country--a trade which now reaches in horned
cattle alone an annual export of nearly three quarters of a million
animals. All manner of practical discussions were set on foot, ranging
from the production of the ideal, the general purposes cow, to that
controversy which competes, in the virulence with which it is waged,
with the political, the educational, and the fiscal questions--the
question whether the hackney strain will bring a new era of prosperity
to Ireland, or whether it will irretrievably destroy the reputation of
the Irish hunter. The discussion of these problems has been accompanied
by much practical work which, in due time, cannot fail to produce a
considerable improvement upon the breed of different classes of live
stock. In one year over one thousand sires have been selected by the
experts of the Department for admission to the stock improvement
schemes. Probably an equal number of breeding animals offered for
inspection have been rejected. Many a _cause celèbre_ has not
unnaturally arisen over the decisions of the equestrian tribunal, and
there have not been wanting threats that the attention of Parliament
should be called to the gross partiality of the Department which has
cast a reflection upon the form of stallion A or upon the constitutional
soundness of stallion B. On the whole, as far as I can gather, the best
authorities in the country are agreed that since the Department has
been at work there has been established a higher standard of excellence
in the bucolic mind as regards that vastly important national asset, our
flocks and herds.

Again for details I must refer the reader to official documents. There
he will find as much information as he can digest about the vast variety
of agricultural activities which originate sometimes with the
Department's officers or with its _Journal_ and leaflets, the
circulation of which has no longer to be stimulated from our Statistics
and Intelligence bureau, and sometimes emanate from the local
committees, whose growing interest in the work naturally leads to the
discovery of fresh needs and hitherto unthought of possibilities of
agricultural and industrial improvement. I may, however, indicate a few
of the subjects which have been gone into even in these years while the
new Department has been trying so far as it might, without sacrifice of
efficiency and sound economic principle, to keep pace with the feverish
anxiety of a genuinely interested people to get to work upon schemes
which they believe to be practical, sound, and of permanent utility.

A question which has troubled administrators of State aid to every
progressive agricultural community, and which each country must settle
for itself, is by what form of object lesson in ordinary agriculture
intelligent local interest can best be aroused We have advocated widely
diffused small experimental plots, and they have done much good.
Probably the most useful of our crop improvement schemes have been
those which have demonstrated the profitableness of artificial manures,
the use of which has been enormously increased. The profits derivable in
many parts of Ireland from the cultivation of early potatoes has been
demonstrated in the most convincing manner. To what may be called the
industrial crops, notably flax and barley, a great deal of time and
thought has been applied and much information disseminated and
illustrated by practical experiments. In many quarters interest has been
aroused in the possibilities of profitable tobacco culture. Many
negative and some positive results have been attained by the Department
in the as yet incomplete experiments upon this crop. Much has been
learned about the functions of central and local agricultural and small
industry shows, those occasional aids to the year's work which
disseminate knowledge and stimulate interest and friendly rivalry among
the different producers. The reduction in the death-rate among young
stock, due to preventible causes such as white scour and blackleg, is
well worthy of the attention of those who wish to study the more
practical work of the Department.

The branch of the Department's work which deals with the Sea-fisheries
can only be very briefly touched on. It falls into two main heads which
may roughly be termed the administrative and the scientific; the latter,
of course, having economic developments as its ultimate object. The
issue of loans to fishermen for the purchase of boats and gear,
contributing to the cost of fishery slips and piers, circulating
telegraphic intelligence, the making of by-laws for the regulation of
the fisheries, the patrolling of the Irish fishing grounds to prevent
illegalities, and the attempts which are being made to develop the
valuable Irish oyster fishery by the introduction, with modifications
suited to our own seaboard, of a system of culture comparable to those
which are pursued with success in France and Norway, may be mentioned as
falling under the more directly economic branch of our activities. Irish
oysters are already attaining considerable celebrity, owing to the
distance of our oyster beds from contaminating influences; and it is
hoped that when the Department's experiments are complete the Irish
oyster will be made subject to direct control for all its life, until it
is despatched to market. Attention is also being given to the relative
value of seed oysters, other than native, for relaying on Irish beds.

On the more directly scientific side, the Department has undertaken the
survey of the trawling grounds around the coast to obtain an exact
knowledge of the movements of the marketable fish at different times of
their life, so that we may be guided in making by-laws and regulations
by a full knowledge of the times and places at which protection is
necessary. The biological and physical conditions of the western seas
are also being studied in special reference to the mackerel fishery,
with the object of correlating certain readily observable phenomena with
the movements of the fish, and so of predicting the probable success of
a fishery in a particular season. The routine observations of the
Department's fishery cruiser have been so arranged as to synchronise
with those of other nations, in order to assist the international scheme
of investigation now in progress, wherever its objects and those of the
Department are the same. While these various practical projects have
been in operation, we have done our best to keep abreast of the times by
sending missions to other countries, consisting of an expert accompanied
by practical Irishmen who would bring home information which was
applicable to the conditions of our own country. The first batch of
itinerant instructors in agriculture, whose training for the important
work of laying the foundations for our whole scheme of agricultural
instruction I have referred to, were taken on a continental tour by the
Professor of Agriculture at the Royal College of Science, in order to
give special advantages to a portion of our outdoor staff upon the
success of whose work the rate of our progress in agricultural
development might largely depend. And not only have we in our first
three years gleaned as much information as possible by sending qualified
Irishmen to study abroad the industries in which we were particularly
interested, but we also took steps to give the mass of our people at
home an opportunity of studying these industries for themselves. With
the somewhat unique experiment carried out for this object, I will
conclude the story of the new Department's activities in its early
years.

The part we took at the Cork Exhibition of 1902 was well understood in
Ireland, but not perhaps elsewhere. We secured a large space both in the
main Industrial Hall and in the grounds, and gave an illustration not of
what Ireland had done, but of what, in our opinion, the country might
achieve in the way of agricultural and industrial development in the
near future. Exhibiting on the one hand our available resources in the
way of raw material, we gave, on the other hand, demonstrations of a
large number of industries in actual operation. These exhibits, imported
with their workers, machinery and tools, from several European countries
and from Great Britain, all belonged to some class of industry which, in
our belief, was capable of successful development in Ireland. In the
indoor part of the exhibit there was nothing very original, except
perhaps in its close relation to the work of a government department.
But what attracted by far the greatest interest and attention was a
series of object lessons in many phases of farm activities, where, in
our opinion, great and immediate improvements might be made. Here were
to be seen varieties of crops under various systems of treatment,
demonstrations of sheep-dipping, calf-rearing on different foods,
illustrations of the different breeds of fowl and systems of poultry
management, model buildings and gardens for farmer and labourer; while
in separate buildings the drying and pressing of fruit and vegetables,
the manufacture of butter and cheese, and a very comprehensive forestry
exhibit enabled our visitors to combine profitable suggestion with, if I
may judge from my frequent opportunities of observing the sightseers in
whom I was particularly interested, the keenest enjoyment.

We kept at the Exhibition, for six months, a staff of competent experts,
whose instructions were to give to all-comers this simple lesson. They
were to bring home to our people that, here in Ireland before their very
eyes, there were industries being carried on by foreigners, by
Englishmen, by Scotchmen, and in some instances by Irishmen, but in all
cases by men and women who had no advantage over our workers except that
they had the technical training which it was the desire of the
Department to give to the workers of Ireland. The officials of the
Department entered into the spirit of this scheme enthusiastically and
cheerfully, some of them, in addition to their ordinary work, turning
the office into a tourist agency for these busy months. With the
generous help of the railway companies they organised parties of
farmers, artisans, school teachers, members of the statutory committees,
and, in fact, of all to whom it was of importance to give this object
lesson upon the relations between practical education and the promotion
of industry. Nearly 100,000 persons were thus moved to Cork and back
before the Exhibition closed--an achievement largely due to the
assistance given by the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and the
clergy throughout the country.

This experiment, both in its conception and in its results, was perhaps
unique. There were not wanting critics of the new Department who stood
aghast at so large an expenditure upon temporary edifices and a passing
show; but those who are in touch with its educational work know that
this novel application of State assistance fulfilled its purpose. It
helped substantially to generate a belief in, and stimulate a demand
for, technical instruction which it will take us many years adequately
to supply.

An American visitor who, as I afterwards learned, takes an active part
in the discussion of the rural problems of his own country, disembarked
at Queenstown in order to 'take in' the Cork Exhibition. In his rush
through Dublin he 'took in' the Department and the writer. 'Mr.
Vice-President,' he said, before the hand-shaking was completed, 'I have
visited all the great Expositions held in my time. I have been to the
Cork Exposition. I often saw more things, but never more ideas.'

With this characteristically rapid appreciation of a movement which
seeks to turn Irish thought to action, my strange visitor vanished as
suddenly as he came.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those whose sympathy with Ireland has induced them to persevere through
the mass of details with which this story of small beginnings is pieced
together may wonder why the bearing of hopeful efforts for bringing
prosperity and contentment to Ireland upon the mental attitude of
millions of Irishmen scattered throughout the British Empire and the
United States, and so upon the lives of the countries in which they have
made their homes, is apparently ignored. I fully recognise the vast
importance of the subject. A book dealing comprehensively with the
actual and potential influence of Irish intellect upon English politics
at home, and upon the politics of the United States, a carefully
reasoned estimate of the part which Irish intellect is qualified, and
which I firmly believe it is destined, to play wherever the civilisation
of the world is to be under the control of the English-speaking
peoples--more especially where these peoples govern races which speak
other tongues and see through other eyes--a clear and striking
exposition of the true relation between the small affairs of the small
island and that greater Ireland which takes its inspiration from the
sorrows, the passions, the endeavours, and the hopes of those who stick
to the old home--such a book would possess a deep human interest, and
would make a high and wide appeal. Nevertheless, I feel that at the
present time the most urgent need, from every point of view on which I
have touched, is to focus the thought available for the Irish Question
upon the definite work of a reconstruction of Irish life.

Such is the purpose of this book. I do not wish to attach any
exaggerated importance to the scheme of social and economic reform of
which I have attempted to give a faithful account; nor is it in their
practical achievement, be it great or small, that the initiators and
organisers of the new movement take most pride. What these Irishmen are
proud of is the manner in which the people have responded to their
efforts to bring Irish sentiment into an intimate and helpful relation
with Irish economic problems. They had to reckon with that greatest of
hindrances to the spirit of enterprise, a rooted belief in the
potentiality of government to bring material prosperity to our doors. As
I have pointed out, the practical demonstration which Ireland had
received of the power of government to inflict lasting economic injury
gave rise to this belief; and I have noted the present influences to
which it seems to owe its continuance until to-day. I believe that, if
any enduring interest attaches to the story which I have told, it will
consist in the successive steps by which this initial difficulty has
been overcome.

Let me summarise in a few words what has been, so far, actually
accomplished. Those who did the work of which I have written first
launched upon Irish life a scheme of organised self-help which, perhaps
more by good luck than design, proved to be in accordance with the
inherited instincts of the people, and, therefore, moved them to action.
Next they called for, and in due season obtained, a department of
government with adequate powers and means to aid in developing the
resources of the country, so far as this end could be attained without
transgressing the limits of beneficial State interference with the
business of the people. In its constitution this department was so
linked with the representative institutions of the country that the
people soon began to feel that they largely controlled its policy and
were responsible for its success. Meanwhile, the progress of economic
thought in the country had made such rapid strides that, in the
administration of State assistance, the principle of self-help could be
rigidly insisted upon and was willingly submitted to. The result is that
a situation has been created which is as gratifying as it may appear to
be paradoxical. Within the scope and sphere of the movement the Irish
people are now, without any sacrifice of industrial character, combining
reliance upon government with reliance upon themselves.

That a movement thus conceived should so rapidly have overcome its
initial difficulties and should, I might almost add, have passed beyond
the experimental stage, will suggest to any thoughtful reader that above
and beyond the removal by legislation of obstacles to progress--and much
has been accomplished in this way of recent years--there must have been
new, positive influences at work upon the national mind. These will be
found in the growing recognition of the fact that the path of progress
lies along distinctively Irish lines, and that otherwise it will not be
trodden by the Irish people. Much good in the same direction has been
done, too, by the generous and authoritative admission by England that
the future development of Ireland should be assisted and promoted 'with
a full and constant regard to the special traditions of the
country.'[52] But after all, while these concessions to Irish
sentiment, vitally important though they be, may speed us on our road to
national regeneration, they will not take us far. It remains for us
Irishmen to realise--and the chief value of all the work I have
described consists in the degree in which it forces us to realise--the
responsibility which now rests with ourselves. We have been too long a
prey to that deep delusion, which, because the ills of the country we
love were in past days largely caused from without, bids us look to the
same source for their cure. The true remedies are to be sought
elsewhere; for, however disastrous may have been the past, the injury
was moral rather than material, and the opportunity has now arrived for
the patient building up again of Irish character in those qualities
which win in the modern struggle for existence. The field for that great
work is clear of at least the worst of its many historic encumbrances.
Ireland must be re-created from within. The main work must be done in
Ireland, and the centre of interest must be Ireland. When Irishmen
realise this truth, the splendid human power of their country, so much
of which now runs idly or disastrously to waste, will be utilised; and
we may then look with confidence for the foundation of a fabric of Irish
prosperity, framed in constructive thought, and laid enduringly in human
character.

THE END.

FOOTNOTES:

[48] Pages 38, 39.

[49] It must be borne in mind that the Department is not officially
concerned with the question of the economic distribution of land
referred to on pp. 46-49.

[50] For a full description of the Department's scheme of agricultural
education I may refer to a _Memorandum on Agricultural Education in
Ireland,_ written by the author and published by the Department, July,
1901.

[51] See _ante_, pp. 236-238.

[52] Speech of the Lord Lieutenant to the Incorporated Law Society,
November 20th, 1902. See also p. 170.



INDEX

A.E. (George W. Russell) 200
Agitation as a policy, 82, 83
Agricultural Board, 228, 234, _seq_. 269
Agriculture:--
  Agricultural Holdings:--
    Improvement of, 46 _seq_.
    Transfer of peasants to new farms, 48 _seq_.
  Agricultural Organisation:
    Denmark, 131
    Department of Agriculture and farmers' societies, 211
    England, Mr. Hanbury's and Lord Onslow's views, 242
    Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (see that title)
    Societies 44, 45
  Co-operation (see that title).
  Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction (see that title)
  Depression in, 179
  Education in relation to, 126, 264 _seq_. 269
  Exodus of Rural Population, 39
  State-Aid, 45, 211
  Tillage, decrease of, 42
Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 224, 227, 236, 238
Albert Institute, Glasnevin, 230, 271
Altruism, appeal to in co-operation, 210
America, Irish in: 72
  Causes of their success and failure, 55 _seq_.
  Irish in American politics, 70 _seq_.
  Loss of religion in, 111
Anderson, R.A.:--
  Co-operative movement, 184, 190
  Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, 200
Andrews, Mr. Thomas:--
  Recess Committee, 219
Anti-English Sentiment:--
  Irish in America and, 72
  Nature and cause, 13
Anti-Treating League, 114
Arnott, Sir John:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Art, modern ecclesiastical art in Ireland, 108
Association, economic, value of, 167
Associative qualities of the Irish, 166

Bacon Curing:--
  Denmark, 131, 194
Bagot, Canon:--
  Creamery movement, 189
Balfour, Arthur:--168
  Irish policy, 243, 244
Balfour, Gerald:--243, 256
  Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 225, 233
  Local Government Act, 224, 238, 240
  Policy of explained, 225
  Recess Committee Proposals; Bill, 224
Banks, agricultural credit, 195 _seq._
Barley Experiments of the Department of Agriculture, 282
Belfast Chamber of Commerce and Home Rule, 67
Berkeley, Bishop:--
  Irish priests, 141
  On "Mending our state," 6
  "Parties" and "politics," 63
Bessborough Commission, tenants improvements, &c. 22
Board of National Education, 126
Board of Technical Instruction, 228, 234 _seq_. 257
Bodley's _France_, Madame Darmesteter's review, 242
Boer war and the Irish attitude, 9
Bogs, utilisation of, 249
Boycotting, 87
Bright, John:--
  Peasant proprietorship, 25
Brooke, Stopford, 92
Buckle, personal factor in history, 27
Bulwer Lytton, 34
Burke, 137
Butt, Isaac, 78
Butter, Danish, 131

Cadogan, Lord, 224
Catholic Association, 99
Catholic Emancipation Act, 104, 125, 132
Catholic University (see University Question).
Celtic Race, Harold Frederic's opinion, 161 _seq_.
Character:--
  Associative qualities of the Irish, 166
  Education and character, 144
  Gaelic Revival, effect of on national character, 148, 155
  Industrial character, 18
  Irish inefficiency a problem of character, 32
  Irish question a problem of character, 32, 59, 164
  Lack of initiative in Irish character, 163
  Moral timidity of Irish character, 64, 65, 80, 81
  Prosperity of Ireland, to be founded on character, 291
  Roman Catholicism and Irish character, 101-105, 110
Chesterfield, Lord:--
  Education as the cause of difference in the character of men, 144
Christian Brothers' Schools, 131
Christian Socialists, 184
Church-building in Ireland,. 107
Church Disestablishment Act, 1869,--Land Purchase Clauses, 25
Clan-System in Ireland,   75
Clergy, Roman Catholic:--
  Action and attitude towards questions of the day 105
  Authority, 96, 105 _seq_.
  Moral influence, 115, 116
  Political influence, 117
  Temperance reform, 112, 114
College of Science and Department of Agriculture, 229
Colonies, history of the Irish in, 72 _seq_.
Commercial Restrictions--effect of on Irish industrial character, 17 _seq_.
Con O'Neal forbids his posterity to build houses, etc., 57
Congested Districts Board:--
  Agricultural banks, loans to 197
  Department of Agriculture and,   245
  Land Act (1903) and, 245
  Success of, 243, 244
Convents and Monasteries, increase of, 108
Co-operative Movement:--
  Agricultural Banks, 195 _seq_.
  Agricultural depression, cause of, 179
  Altruism, appeal to, 210
  Anderson, R.A., 184, 190, 200
  Associative qualities of Irish, 166, 178, 186
  Beginnings, 178
  Combination, necessity of, 181
  Co-operative Union, Manchester, 184
  Craig, Mr. E.T., and the Vandeleur Estate, 184
  Creameries, 187 _seq_.
  Denmark, 131, 194
  Educating adults, 177
  English co-operation, 166, 184
  Finlay, Father Thomas, 119, 192, 218
  Gaelic Revival and, 149 _seq_.
  Gray, Mr. T.C., 184
  Holyoake, Mr., 184
  Hughes, Mr. Tom, 184
  Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (see that title).
  _Irish Homestead_, 190, 202
  Ludlow, Mr., 184
  Marum, Mr. Mulhallen, 189
  Middlemen, 180
  Monteagle, Lord, 184
  Moral effects, 207, 208
  Neale, Mr. Vansittart, 184
  Necessity of co-operation for small landholders, 44 _seq_.
  Production and distribution problems, 179, 180
  Roman Catholic clergy and, 119
  State-aid side, 45, 165
  Success, causes of 210, 211
  Vandeleur estate community, 184
  Village libraries, 199
  Wolff, Mr. Henry W., 199
  Yerburgh, Mr., 199
Cork:--
  Exhibition, Department's Exhibit, 119, 285 _seq_.
Craig, Mr. E.T.--
  Co-operative Movement 184
Creameries, co-operative, beginnings, 187 _seq_.
Crop improvement schemes of the Department, 282
Council of Agriculture, 228, 232 _seq_. 257

Dairying Industry--Co-operation and, 187 _seq_.
Dane, Mr.:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Darmesteter, Madame, _Syndicats agricoles_, 242
Davis, Thomas:--137
  Political Methods, 77, 83
Denmark:--
  Co-operation in, 131, 194
  High Schools, 131
Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction:-- 60
  Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 224, 227, 236, 238
  Agricultural Board, 228, 234 _seq._ 257
  Agricultural education, 236, 237, 264 _seq._ 269, 272
  Agricultural Organisation, 241
  Albert Institute, Glasnevin, 230, 271
  Balfour, Gerald, 225, 233
  Board of Technical Instruction, 228, 234 _seq._ 257
  College of Science and, 229
  Congested Districts Board and Department, 245
  Consultative Committee for Co-ordinating Education, 236, 237, 272
  Constitution, etc., 228
  Co-operative movement and the benefits of organisation, 241
  Cork Exhibition exhibit, 119, 285 _seq._
  Council of Agriculture, 228, 232 _seq._ 257
  Crop improvement schemes 282
  Domestic economy teaching, 272
  Early days' experiences, 217 _seq._
  Educational policy, 236, 237, 272, 274
  Educational work, 262
  Endowment, etc., 231
  Home Industries, 275
  Industrial education and industrial life, 130
  Intermediate Education Board and, 235, 237
  Itinerant instruction, 126, 270
  Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and, 203
  Live Stock Schemes, 279
  Local Committees, 261
  Local Government Act and work of Department, 239
  Metropolitan School of Art 230
  Munster Institute, Cork, and, 230, 274
  Parliamentary representation, 220, 228
  Powers, 229 _seq._
  Provincial Committees, 234
  Purposes, 228
  Recess Committee's Recommendations, 220
  Royal Dublin Society and, 279
  Rural life improvement, 159
  Sea Fisheries, 282
  Staff, 228
  Teachers, 267
  Technical instruction, 130, 228, 234, _seq._, 257, 263, 267, 279
  Work already accomplished, 278 _seq._
Desmolins, M.:--
  English love of home, 53
Devon Commission, tenants'
  improvements, 22
Dineen, Rev. P.S.:--
  Editor O'Rahilly's poems, 76
Dixon, Sir Daniel:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Domestic economy teaching, 272
Drink Evil:--
  Anti-Treating League, 114
  Causes, 112
  Roman Catholic Clergy's influence, 112, 114
Dudley, Lord, 170, 290
Dufferin, Lord:--
  Effect of commercial restrictions in Ireland, 20
Duffy, Sir C.G. 77
Dunraven Conference, 8, 10, 207

Economic system in England, individualism of, 166
Economic thought:--
  Influence of Roman Catholicism, 101 _seq_.
  Lack of in Ireland, 133 _seq_.
Education:--
  Agricultural instruction, 126 264 _seq_. 269
  Board of National Education, 126
  Christian Brothers, 131
  Commissioners of National Education, 235
  Consultative Committee for co-ordinating Education, 236, 237, 272
  Continental methods, 129
  Defects of present system, 128
  Denmark High Schools, 131
  Department of Agriculture's policy and work, 236, 237, 262, 272, 274
  Economic, 130, 133
  Education Bill, 99
  English education in Ireland, 122
  Influence of on national life, 59
  Industrial, 130, 264
  Intermediate Education system, 128, 235, 237
  Irish education schemes, 123 _seq_.
  Itinerant instruction, 126, 270
  Keenan, Sir Patrick, 126
  Kildare Street Society, 123
  Literary Education, 131
  Lord Chesterfield on Education 144
  Manual and Practical Instruction in Primary Schools, Commission, 128, 129
  Maynooth, influence of, 134-136, 138, 139
  Monastic and Conventual institutions, 108
  National factor in national education, 152, 153
  Practical, 129 _seq_.
  Reports of Commissions, 127
  Roman Catholics, higher education, 97, 132, 133
  Royal University, 128
  Technical instruction, 228, 231 _seq_., 257, 263
  Trinity College, influence of, 134, 136 _seq_.
  University:--
    Place of the University in education, 133
    Royal Commission on University Education, 128
  Wyse's Scheme, 125
Education Bill, 99
Emigration, causes of, etc., 40, 116
England:--
  Anti-English sentiment in Ireland, 13, 72
  Co-operation in, 166, 184, 192, 206, 242
  Economic system, individualism of, 166
  Misunderstanding of Irish question, 7 _seq_.
Ewart, Sir William:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Experimental Plots of the Department, 281

Ferguson, Sir Samuel:--
  National sentiment, 154
Field, Mr. William, 217
Finlay, Father Thomas:-- 119, 208
  Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, 192
  Recess Committee 218
Fisheries--Department of Agriculture, development scheme, 282 _seq_
Flax improvement Schemes, 282
_Fortnightly Review_:--
  Harold Frederic on Irish Question, 162
France, _syndicats agricoles_, 242
Franchise extension in 1885, effects of on Irish political thought, 78
Frederic, Harold:--
  Views on Irish question, 161 _seq_.
Free Trade, effect of in Ireland, 19

Gaelic Revival:-- 148 _seq_.
  Appeal to the individual 155
  Co-operative movement and, 149 _seq_.
  Gaelic League, aims and objects, 150
  Hyde, Douglas, 151
  Irish language as a commercial medium, 158
  National factor in education, importance of, 153
  Politics and the Gaelic revival, 156, 187
  Rural life, rehabilitation, 159
Gill, Mr. T.P.:--
  Recess Committee, 219
Gladstone:-- 85
  Belfast Chamber of Commerce, Home Rule deputation, 67
  Home Rule, attitude towards, 3, 66, 67
  Tenants' improvements, 22
Glasnevin, Albert Institute, 230, 271
Grattan, 137
Gray, Mr. J.C.:--
  Co-operative movement, 181
Grazing, increase of, 42
Grundtvig, Bishop, 131

Hanbury, Mr.:-- 251
  Agricultural Societies, necessity of, 242
  Suppression of Swine Fever, 252
Hannon, Mr. P.J.--I.A.O.S. 200
Harrington, Mr. T.C.:--
  Recess Committee 218
Healy, Archbishop, work for Ireland, 118
Hegarty, Father, work for Ireland, 119
Historical Grievances, 14, 17, 59, 104, _seq_. 120, 147
Holdings, small, problem of, 46
Holyoake, Mr.:--
  Co-operative Movement, 184
Domestic Economy Teaching, 272
Home: Improvement of, 159
  Irish Conception of, 53
  Irish, "homelessness at home," cause of 57, 58
Home Industries, 192, 275
Home Rule:--Bill 1886, 61
  Gladstone's attitude to the question 3
  Nationalist tactics as a means of attaining 84
  Rosebery, Lord, attitude to the question, 4
  Ulster and Home Rule, 66, 86. _seq_.
  Unionist attitude towards, 35
Hughes, Tom, Co-operative Movement, 184
Hyde, Douglas, 151

Individualism of English economic system, 166
Industrial character of the Irish, effect of commercial restrictions, 18
Industrial leadership, and political leadership, 212
Industry:--
  Commercial Restrictions, 16-20
  Education and Industrial Life, 130
  Free Trade, effect of, 19
  Gaelic League and, 135
  Home Rule and, 87
  Peasant Industries 52
  Protestantism and Industry 100
  Roman Catholicism and Industry.   100, 103 _seq_.
  State-Aid 45
Initiative, lack of in Irish character, 163
Intermediate Education 128, 235, 237
Irish Agricultural Organisation Society:-- 149
  Agricultural Banks, 195 _seq._
  Agricultural Organisation:--
    Denmark, 131
    Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Societies, 241
    England, Mr. Hanbury's view, 242
    Onslow, Lord, opinion, 242
    Welsh Co. Councils, and, 242
  Anderson, R.A., 200
  Central body, necessity for 194
  Cork Exhibition, tours organised by, 286
  Department of Agriculture and, 203
  Federations, principal, 193
  Finlay, Father Thomas, 119, 192, 208, 218
  Funds, 202 _seq_.
  Gaelic revival and the co-operative movement, 149 _seq._
  Hannon, Mr. P.J., 200
  Inauguration, 191
  _Irish, Homestead_, 190, 202
  Monteagle, Lord, 192
  Roman Catholic clergy and the movement, 119
  Rural life social movements, 159, 199
  Russell, George W. (A.E.),   200
  Societies, number, etc. 192
  Staff, &c. 200
  Village libraries, 199
_Irish Homestead_, 190, 202
Irish language as a commercial medium, 158
"Irish night" in House of Commons, 2
Irish Question:--
  Anomalies, 33
  Character, a problem of, 32, 59, 164
  Emigration, 40
  English misunderstanding, 7 _seq._
  Frederic, Harold, diagnosis by, 161 _seq_.
  Gaelic Revival and, 148
  Historical grievances, 16 _seq_.
  Home Rule (see that title)
  Human problem, 2
  Land Act marks a new era in, 11
  Land system (see that title).
  Our ignorance about ourselves 32
  Parnell's death, effect of, 5
  Political remedies, Irish belief in, 33
  Rural life, problem, 39, 57, 263
  Sentiment, force of, 15
  Ulster's attitude important, 38
Itinerant Instructors, 126, 127, 271, 284

Johnson, Dr., on "economy," 278

Kane, Rev. R.R.:-- 157
  Recess Committee, 218
Keenan, Sir Patrick:--
  Itinerant instructors, 126, 127
Kelly, Dr. (Bishop of Ross):--
  Work for Ireland, 118
Kildare Street School of Domestic Economy 274
Kildare Street Society, 123-125

Land Acts:--
  1870, 23;
  1881, 23, 24;
  1891, Congested Districts, 243
  1903:-- 10, 11, 42, 48, 245
    Marks a new era in Ireland, 11
    Transfer of peasants to new farms, 48
Land Conference:-- 93
  Landed gentry not to be expatriated, 85
  Nationalist leaders' attitude, 89
Land Purchase Acts, 25
Land Question and Tenure Question, 41, 42
Land system:-- 17
  Causes of failure in Irish land system, 21
  Dual ownership 25
  Land Acts:
    1870, 23;
    1881, 23, 24;
    1891, 243;
    1903, 10, 11, 42, 48, 246.
  Land Purchase Acts, 25
  Legislation, 23 _seq_.
  Peasant proprietorship, germs of, 25
  Tenure question, 41, 42
Lawless, Emily:--
  "With the Wild Geese," 92
Le Bon, "La Psychologie De la Foule," 167
Lea, Sir Thomas:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Leadership in Ireland, political and industrial, 212
Lecky, Mr.:--
  Irish grievances, 14
  Kildare Street Society, 124
Live stock improvement schemes, 279
Liverpool Financial Reform Association, 127
Local Government:-- 83
  Balfour, Mr. Gerald, 224, 238, 240
  Department of Agriculture and local effort,
  Educative effect of, 90
  Nationalist leaders' attitude 88
  Success in working, 88, 240
Lucas, Mr., 77
Ludlow, Mr.:--
  Co-operative movement, 184

McCarthy, Mr. Justin:--
  Recess Committee, 215
Manchester, Co-operative Union 181
Manual and Practical Instruction in Primary Schools' Commission, 128, 129
Manures, Artificial--
  Department of Agriculture's encouragement in the use of, 282
Marum, Mr. Mulhallen--Co-operative Movement 189
Maynooth, influence of, 134 136, 138, 139
Mayo, Lord:--
  Recess Committee, 218
_Memorandum on Agricultural Education_ 269
Metropolitan School of Art, 230
Middlemen, 180
Monasteries and Convents, increase of, 108
Monteagle, Lord:--
  Co-operative movement, 184
  I.A.O.S. President, 192
  Recess Committee 218
Moral timidity of Irish character, 65, 80, 81
Morals:--
  Roman Catholic Clergy's influence on, 115, 116
Mulhall, Mr. Michael:--
  Recess Committee, 219
Munster Institute, Cork,   230, 274
Musgrave, Sir James:--
  Recess Committee, 219

National Education Board, Agricultural Teaching, 126
Nationalist Party:--
  Home Rule, 35, 84
  Land Conference and, 89
  Local Government and, 88
  Policy, 69
  Qualifications of leaders, 90, 91
  Recess Committee and, 222
  Responsibility of leaders, 81
  Tactics:-- 84 _seq._
    Effect of on Irish political character, 80
Nationality:--
  Education and nationality, 152 _seq._
  Expansion of, outside party politics, 154
  Modern conception of Irish nationality, 76
Neale, Vansittart:--
  Co-operative movement, 184
O'Connell, 77
O'Conor Don:--
  Recess Committee, 218
O'Dea, Dr.:--
  University Commission, statements, 109, 141
O'Donnell, Dr.:--
  Ploughing up of grazing lands, 43
O'Donovan, Father, 119
O'Dwyer, Dr.:--
  Evidence before University Commission, 140
O'Gara, Dr.:--
  On the cultivation of the land, 43
O'Grady, Standish, 154
Onslow, Lord:--
  Agricultural organisation, benefit of, 242
O'Rahilly, Egan:--
  Lament for the Irish clans, 27
Oyster Culture,   283

Parnell:-- 48, 78
  Downfall, effect on national idea and aims, 5, 79, 80
Peasant industries, necessity for, 52
Peasant Proprietary:--
  Agricultural organisation, necessity of, 44 _seq_.
  Bright, John, and, 25
  Peasant industries, necessity of, 52
  Problem of next generation, 50, 51
Penal laws, effect of, 104, 132
Plantation system, 76
Politics:--
  Agitation as a policy, 82, 83
  America, Irish in politics in, 70 _seq,_
  Gaelic revival and politics, 156, 157
  Irishmen as politicians,. 69 _seq._
  "Irish night" in House of Commons, 92
  Nationalist leaders' effect on Irish political character, 80
  Obsession of the Irish mind by politics, 59, 61 _seq_.
  "One-man" system, 79
  Political leadership and industrial leadership, 212
  Political remedies, Irish belief in, 33
  Political "wilderness," 91
  "Priest in politics," 117
  Separation, 87
  Ulster Liberal Unionist Association, 66
  Unionists (Irish):--
    Industrial element and, 67, 68
    Influence in Irish life, 63 _seq._
Population.--
  Relation of population to area, 49
Potato culture improvement schemes, 282
Production and distribution, problems, 179, 180
Protestantism:--
  Duty of, 119
  Ulster, 98, 99

Raiffeisen System of banking, 195-198
Railways--Light railway system, 243
_Raimeis_, 153
Recess Committee:-- 83, 210 _seq._ 238, 241
  Cadogan, Lord, and, 224, 225
  Constitution proposed, 215
  Finlay, Father Thomas, 218
  Gill, Mr. T.P. 219
  Ideas leading to its formation, 213
  M'Carthy, Mr. Justin, letter, 215
  Members, 218
  Mulhall, Mr. Michael, 219
  Nationalist members, 222
  Recommendations, 220
  Redmond, Mr. John, and, 217
  Report, 10, 129, 221
  Results, 223 _seq._
  State-aid question, 223
  Tisserand's memorandum, 220
Redmond, Mr. John:--
  Recess Committee, 217
Religion:--
  Influence of on Irish life, 59, 94 _seq._
  Protestantism,   98, 99, 119
  Roman Catholic Church (see that title).
  Sectarian animosities, 98, 99
  Toleration, meaning of word, 95
Ritualistic movement, 99
Robertson, Lord:--
  University Commission, 140
Roman Catholic Church:--
  Church-building and increase of monasteries, etc., 107, 108, 109
  Clergy:--
    Action and attitude towards questions of the day, 105 _seq_.
    Authority of, 98, 105 _seq._
  Co-operative movement, 119
  Moral influence, 115, 116
  Political influence, 77, 117
  Temperance reform, 112, 114
  Economic conditions, influence on 101 _seq._
  Effect on Irish character, 101-105, 110
  Higher education of Roman Catholics, 97, 132
Rosebery, Lord:--
  Attitude towards Home Rule, 4
Ross, Mr. John:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Royal College of Science, 229, 268, 270
Royal Commission on University Education, 118, 128, 140
Royal Dublin Society, Aid to Department of Agriculture, 279
Royal University education, defects in, 128
Rural life:--
  Emigration, causes of, 40, 116
  Gaelic revival's influence on, 159
  Industries, 52, 262, 266
  Problem of, 39, 51, 263
  Rehabilitation, 159, 199
Russell, George W. (A.E.), 200

Salisbury, Lord:--
  "Twenty years of resolute government," 61
Saunderson, Colonel:--
  Recess Committee, 217
Scotch-Irish in America, 71
Sea Fisheries--Department of Agriculture's improvement schemes, 282
Self-help movement (see Co-operative movement).
Sentiment:--
  Anti-English, cause of, 13 _seq_.
  Force of in Irish question, 15, 127
Separation, Home Rule and, 87
Shinnors, Rev. Mr.:--
  Irish in America, 111
Sinclair, Thomas:--
  Recess Committee, 218
Social order, Irish attachment to,   54
_Spectator_:--English non-allowance for sentiment, 15
_Speed's Chronicle_:--
  Con O'Neal, etc. 57
Spencer, Lord, 168
Starkie, Dr.:--
  Mr. Wyse's education scheme, 126
State-aid:-- 45, 211, 219, 220, 223
Stephen, J.K. ("Cynicus")   164
Stopford Brooke, 92
Swine fever, 251

Technical Instruction, 130, 228, 234 _seq_. 257, 263, 267, 279
Temperance Reform, 112 _seq_.
Tenure question and land question, 41
Tillage, decrease of, 42
Tisserand, M.:--
  Recess Committee memorandum, 220
Tobacco culture,   282
Trinity College, influence of, 134, 136 _seq._
Two Irelands, 37

Ulster:--
  Attitude towards the rest of Ireland, 38
  Home Rule, objections to, 66, 86, 87
Ulster Liberal Unionist Association, political thought in, 66
Unionist (Irish) Party:--
  Industrial element in Irish life and, 67, 68, 86
  Influence in Irish life, 63_seq._
  Policy, 68
  Ulster and Home Rule, 66,86 _seq._
United Ireland, first real conception of, 77
United Irish League, 90
University Question:-- 99, 109
  Catholic University:--
    O'Dea, Dr., on, 141
    O'Dwyer, Dr., on, 140
  Hyde, Dr., evidence before Commission, 151
  Maynooth, influence of, 134, 136, 138, 139
  Place of the University in education, 133
  Trinity College, influence of, 134, 136 _seq._
  University reform necessary, 138

Vandeleur Estate, co-operative community, 184
Village libraries, 119, 199

Wolff, Mr. Henry W.:--
  People's banks, 199
Wyndham, Mr.:--
  Land Act. 1903, 10, 12
Wyse, Mr. Thomas:--
  Scheme of Irish education, 125

Yeats, W.B. 154
Yerburgh, Mr. R.A.:--
  Agricultural banks, 199





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