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Title: Ireland Since Parnell
Author: Sheehan, D. D. (Daniel Desmond), 1873-1948
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ireland Since Parnell" ***

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                             IRELAND SINCE
                                PARNELL

                                   BY
                          CAPTAIN D.D. SHEEHAN

                            BARRISTER-AT-LAW
                         LATE M.P. FOR MID-CORK



                                 LONDON

                            DANIEL O'CONNOR
                     90 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, W.C.1

                                  1921



                                CONTENTS


        FOREWORD
CHAPTER
     I. A LEADER APPEARS
    II. A LEADER IS DETHRONED!
   III. THE DEATH OF A LEADER
    IV. AN APPRECIATION OF PARNELL
     V. THE WRECK AND RUIN OF A PARTY
    VI. TOWARDS LIGHT AND LEADING
   VII. FORCES OF REGENERATION AND THEIR EFFECT
  VIII. THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT AND WHAT IT CAME TO
    IX. THE LAND QUESTION AND ITS SETTLEMENT
     X. LAND PURCHASE AND A DETERMINED CAMPAIGN TO KILL IT
    XI. THE MOVEMENT FOR DEVOLUTION AND ITS DEFEAT
   XII. THE LATER IRISH PARTY--ITS CHARACTER AND COMPOSITION
  XIII. A TALE OF BAD LEADERSHIP AND BAD FAITH
   XIV. LAND AND LABOUR
    XV. SOME FURTHER SALVAGE FROM THE WRECKAGE
   XVI. REUNION AND TREACHERY
  XVII. A NEW POWER ARISES IN IRELAND
 XVIII. A CAMPAIGN OF EXTERMINATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
   XIX. A GENERAL ELECTION THAT LEADS TO A "HOME RULE" BILL!
    XX. THE RISE OF SIR EDWARD CARSON
   XXI. SINN FEIN--ITS ORIGINAL MEANING AND PURPOSE
  XXII. LABOUR BECOMES A POWER IN IRISH LIFE
 XXIII. CARSON, ULSTER AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
  XXIV. FORMATION OF IRISH VOLUNTEERS AND OUTBREAK OF WAR
   XXV. THE EASTER WEEK REBELLION AND AFTERWARDS
  XXVI. THE IRISH CONVENTION AND THE CONSCRIPTION OF IRELAND
 XXVII. "THE TIMES" AND IRISH SETTLEMENT
XXVIII. THE ISSUES NOW AT STAKE



                                FOREWORD


The writer of this work first saw the light on a modest farmstead in
the parish of Droumtariffe, North Cork. He came of a stock long
settled there, whose roots were firmly fixed in the soil, whose love
of motherland was passionate and intense, and who were ready "in other
times," when Fenianism won true hearts and daring spirits to its side,
to risk their all in yet one more desperate battle for "the old
cause." His father was a Fenian, and so was every relative of his,
even unto the womenfolk. He heard around the fireside, in his younger
days, the stirring stories of all the preparations which were then
made for striking yet another blow for Ireland, and he too sighed and
sorrowed for the disappointments that fell upon noble hearts and
ardent souls with the failure of "The Rising."

He was not more than seven years of age when the terrible tribulation
of eviction came to his family. He remembers, as if the events were
but of yesterday, the poignant despair of his mother in leaving the
home into which her dowry was brought and where her children were
born, and the more silent resignation, but none the less deeply felt
bitterness, of his father--a man of strong character and little given
to expressing his emotions. He recalls that, a day or two before the
eviction, he was taken away in a cart, known in this part of the
country as "a crib," with some of the household belongings, to seek a
temporary shelter with some friends. May God be good to them for their
loving-kindness and warm hospitality!

He wondered, then, why there should be so much suffering and sorrow as
he saw expressed around him, in the world, and he was told that there
was nothing for it--that the lease of the farm had expired, that the
landlord wanted it for himself, and that though his father was willing
to pay an increased rent, still out he had to go--and, what was worse,
to have all his improvements confiscated, to have the fruits of the
blood and sweat and energy of his forefathers appropriated by a man
who had no right under heaven to them, save such as the iniquitous
laws of those days gave him.

It was something in the nature of poetic justice that the lad whose
family was cast thus ruthlessly on the roadside in the summer of 1880,
should, after the passage of the Land Act of 1903, have, in the
providence of things, the opportunity and the power for negotiating,
in fair and friendly and conciliatory fashion, for the expropriation
for evermore from all ownership in the land of the class who cast him
and his people adrift in earlier years.

The writer has it proudly to his credit that, acting on behalf of the
tenants of County Cork, he individually negotiated the sales of more
landed estates than any other man, or combination of men, in Ireland,
and that with the good will and, indeed, with the gratitude of the
landlords and their agents, and by reason of the fact that he applied
the policy of Conference, Conciliation and Consent to this practical
concern of men's lives, he secured for the tenants of County Cork a
margin of from one and a half to two years' purchase better terms than
the average rate prevailing elsewhere.

For the rest he devoted himself during the better part of a quarter of
a century to the housing and the social betterment of the workers in
town and country, with results which are reflected in their present
vastly improved condition.

But his greatest effort, and what he would wish most to be remembered
for is that, with a faithful few and against overwhelming odds, he
took his stand for Mr William O'Brien's policy of National
Reconciliation, which all thoughtful men now admit would have saved
Ireland from countless horrors and England from a series of most
appalling political blunders if only it had been given fair play and a
fair trial.

It is no use, however, in a very sordid and material world, sighing
for the might-have-beens. What the writer seeks in the present work is
to give, fairly and dispassionately, a narrative of what has happened
in Ireland since Parnell appeared upon the Irish scene and the curtain
was rung down upon the tragedy that brought the career of the one and
only "Uncrowned King of Ireland" to a close--and until, in turn, the
downfall of Parliamentarianism was accomplished by means which will,
in due course, appear in these pages.



                         IRELAND SINCE PARNELL

                               CHAPTER I

                            A LEADER APPEARS


There are some who would dispute the greatness of Parnell--who would
deny him the stature and the dignity of a leader of men. There are
others who would aver that Parnell was made by his lieutenants--that
he owed all his success in the political arena to their ability and
fighting qualities and that he was essentially a man of mediocre
talents himself.

It might be enough to answer to these critics that Parnell could never
hold the place he does in history, that he could never have overawed
the House of Commons as he did, nor could he have emerged so
triumphantly from the ordeal of _The Times_ Commission were he
not superabundantly endowed with all the elements and qualities of
greatness. But apart from this no dispassionate student of the Parnell
period can deny that it was fruitful in massive achievement for
Ireland. When Parnell appeared on the scene it might well be said of
the country, what had been truly said of it in another generation,
that it was "as a corpse on the dissecting-table." It was he, and the
gallant band which his indomitable purpose gathered round him, that
galvanised the corpse into life and breathed into it a dauntless
spirit of resolve which carried it to the very threshold of its
sublimest aspirations. To Isaac Butt is ascribed the merit of having
conceived and given form to the constitutional movement for Irish
liberty. He is also credited with having invented the title "Home
Rule"--a title which, whilst it was a magnificent rallying cry for a
cause, in the circumstances of the time when it was first used, was
probably as mischievous in its ultimate results as any unfortunate
nomenclature well could be, since all parties in Ireland and out of it
became tied to its use when any other designation for the Irish demand
might have made it more palatable with the British masses. Winston
Churchill is reported to have said, in his Radical days, to a
prominent Irish leader: "I cannot understand why you Irishmen are so
stupidly wedded to the name 'Home Rule.' If only you would call it
anything else in the world, you would have no difficulty in getting
the English to agree to it."

But although Isaac Butt was a fine intellect and an earnest patriot he
never succeeded in rousing Ireland to any great pitch of enthusiasm
for his policy. It was still sick, and weary, and despondent after the
Fenian failure, and the revolutionary leaders were not prone to
tolerate or countenance what they regarded as a Parliamentary
imposture. A considerable body of the Irish landed class supported the
Butt movement, because they had nothing to fear for their own
interests from it. They were members of his Parliamentary Party, not
to help him on his way, but rather with the object of weakening and
retarding his efforts.

It was at this stage that Parnell arrived. The country was stricken
with famine--the hand of the lord, in the shape of the landlord, was
heavy upon it. After a season of unexampled agricultural prosperity
the lean years had come to the Irish farmer and he was ripe for
agitation and resistance. Butt had the Irish gentry on his side. With
the sure instinct of the born leader Parnell set out to fight them. He
had popular feeling with him. It was no difficult matter to rouse the
democracy of the country against a class at whose doors they laid the
blame for all their woes and troubles and manifold miseries. Butt was
likewise too old for his generation. He was a constitutional statesman
who made noble appeal to the honesty and honour of British statesmen.
Parnell, too, claimed to be a constitutional leader, but of another
type. With the help of men like Michael Davitt and John Devoy he was
able to muster the full strength of the revolutionary forces behind
him and he adopted other methods in Parliament than lackadaisical
appeals to the British sense of right and justice.

The time came when the older statesman had perforce to make way for
the younger leader. The man with a noble genius for statesman-like
design--and this must be conceded to Isaac Butt--had to yield place
and power to the men whose genius consisted in making themselves
amazingly disagreeable to the British Government, both in Ireland and
at Westminster. "The Policy of Exasperation" was the epithet applied
by Butt to the purpose of Parnell, in the belief that he was uttering
the weightiest reproach in his power against it. But this was the
description of all others which recommended it to the Irish race--for
it was, in truth, the only policy which could compel British statesmen
to give ear to the wretched story of Ireland's grievances and to
legislate in regard to them. It is sad to have to write it of Butt, as
of so many other Irish leaders, that he died of a broken heart. Those
who would labour for "Dark Rosaleen" have a rough and thorny road to
travel, and they are happy if the end of their journey is not to be
found in despair, disappointment and bitter tragedy.

Parnell, once firmly seated in the saddle, lost no time in asserting
his power and authority. Mr William O'Brien, who writes with a quite
unique personal authority on the events of this time, tells us that
there is some doubt whether "Joe" Biggar, as he was familiarly known
from one end of Ireland to the other, was not the actual inventor of
Parliamentary obstruction. His own opinion is that it was Biggar who
first discovered it but it was Parnell who perceived that the new
weapon was capable of dislocating the entire machinery of Government
at will and consequently gave to a disarmed Ireland a more formidable
power against her enemies than if she could have risen in armed
insurrection, so that a Parliament which wanted to hear nothing of
Ireland heard of practically nothing else every night of their lives.

Let it be, however, clearly understood that there was an Irish Party
before Parnell's advent on the scene. It was never a very effective
instrument of popular right, but after Butt's death it became a
decrepit old thing--without cohesion, purpose or, except in rare
instances, any genuine personal patriotism. It viewed the rise of
Parnell and his limited body of supporters with disgust and dismay. It
had no sympathy with his pertinacious campaign against all the
cherished forms and traditions of "The House," and it gave him no
support. Rather it virulently opposed him and his small group, who
were without money and even without any organisation at their back.
Parnell had also to contend with the principal Nationalist newspaper
of the time--_The Freeman's Journal_--as well as such remnants as
remained of Butt's Home Rule League.

About this time, however, a movement--not for the first or the last
time--came out of the West. A meeting had been held at Irishtown,
County Mayo, which made history. It was here that the demand of "The
Land for the People" first took concrete form. Previously Mr Parnell
and his lieutenants had been addressing meetings in many parts of the
country, at which they advocated peasant proprietorship in
substitution for landlordism, but now instead of sporadic speeches
they had to their hand an organisation which supplied them with a
tremendous dynamic force and gave a new edge to their Parliamentary
performances. And not the least value of the new movement was that it
immediately won over to active co-operation in its work the most
powerful men in the old revolutionary organisation. I remember being
present, as a very little lad indeed, at a Land League meeting at
Kiskeam, Cork County, where scrolls spanned the village street bearing
the legend: "Ireland for the Irish and the Land for the People."

The country people were present from far and near. Cavalcades of
horsemen thronged in from many a distant place, wearing proudly the
Fenian sash of orange and green over their shoulder, and it struck my
youthful imagination what a dashing body of cavalry these would have
made in the fight for Ireland. Michael Davitt was the founder and
mainspring of the Land League and it is within my memory that in the
hearts and the talks of the people around their fireside hearths he
was at this time only second to Parnell in their hope and love. I am
told that Mr John Devoy shared with him the honour of co-founder of
the Land League, but I confess I heard little of Mr Devoy, probably
because he was compulsorily exiled about this time.[1]

In those days Parnell's following consisted of only seven men out of
one hundred and three Irish members. When the General Election of 1880
was declared he was utterly unprepared to meet all its emergencies.
For lack of candidates he had to allow himself to be nominated for
three constituencies, yet with marvellous and almost incredible energy
he fought on to the last polling-booth. The result was astounding. He
increased his following to thirty-five, not, perhaps, overwhelming in
point of numbers, but remarkable for the high intellectual standard of
the young men who composed it, for their varied capacities, for their
fine patriotism, and their invincible determination to face all risks
and invite all dangers. It has been said of Parnell that he was an
intolerant autocrat in the selection of candidates for and membership
of the Party, and that he imposed his will ruthlessly upon them once
they were elected. I am told by those who were best in a position to
form a judgment, and whose veracity I would stake my life upon, that
nothing could be farther from the truth. Parnell had little to say
with the choosing of his lieutenants. Indeed, he was singularly
indifferent about it, as instances could be quoted to prove.
Undoubtedly he held them together firmly, because he had the gift of
developing all that was best in a staff of brilliant talents and
varied gifts, and so jealousies and personal idiosyncrasies had not
the room wherein to develop their poisonous growths.

I pass rapidly over the achievements of Parnell in the years that
followed. He gave the country some watchwords that can never be
forgotten, as when he told the farmers to "Keep a firm grip of your
homesteads!" followed by the equally energetic exhortation: "Hold the
harvest!" They were his Orders of the Day to his Irish army. Then came
the No-Rent Manifesto, the suppression of the Land League after only
twelve months' existence, Kilmainham and its Treaty, and the Land Act
of 1881, which I can speak of, from my own knowledge, as the first
great forward step in the emancipation of the Irish tenant farmer. Mr
Dillon differed with Parnell as to the efficacy of this Act, but he
was as hopelessly wrong in his attitude then as he was twenty-two
years later in connection with the Land Act of 1903. In 1882 the
National League came into being, giving a broader programme and a
deeper depth of meaning to the aims of Parnell. At this time the
Parliamentary policy of the Party under his leadership was an absolute
independence of all British Parties, and therein lay all its strength
and savour. There was also the pledge of the members to sit, act and
vote together, which owed its wholesome force not so much to anything
inherent in the pledge itself as to the positive terror of a public
opinion in Ireland which would tolerate no tampering with it.
Furthermore, a rigid rule obtained against members of the Party
seeking office or preferment for themselves or their friends on the
sound principle that the Member of Parliament who sought ministerial
favours could not possibly be an impeccable and independent patriot.

But the greatest achievement of Parnell was the fact that he had both
the great English parties bidding for his support. We know that the
Tory Party entered into negotiations with him on the Home Rule issue.
Meanwhile, however, there was the more notable conversion of
Gladstone, a triumph of unparalleled magnitude for Parnell and in
itself the most convincing testimony to the positive strength and
absolute greatness of the man. A wave of enthusiasm went up on both
sides of the Irish Sea for the alliance which seemed to symbolise the
ending of the age-long struggle between the two nations. True, this
alliance has since been strangely underrated in its effects, but there
can be no doubt that it evoked at the time a genuine outburst of
friendliness on the part of the Irish masses to England. And at the
General Election of 1885 Parnell returned from Ireland with a solid
phalanx of eighty-four members--eager, invincible, enthusiastic, bound
unbreakably together in loyalty to their country and in devotion to
their leader.

From 1885 to 1890 there was a general forgiving and forgetting of
historic wrongs and ancient feuds. The Irish Nationalists were willing
to clasp hands across the sea in a brotherhood of friendship and even
of affection, but there stood apart, in open and flaming disaffection,
the Protestant minority in Ireland, who were in a state of stark
terror that the Home Rule Bill of 1886 meant the end of everything for
them--the end of their brutal ascendancy and probably also the
confiscation of their property and the ruin of their social position.

Then, as on a more recent occasion, preparations for civil war were
going on in Ulster, largely of English Party manufacture, and more
with an eye to British Party purposes than because of any sincere
convictions on the rights of the ascendancy element. Still the Grand
Old Man carried on his indomitable campaign for justice to Ireland,
notwithstanding the unfortunate cleavage which had taken place in the
ranks of his own Party, and it does not require any special gift of
prevision to assert, nor is it any unwarrantable assumption on the
facts to say, that the alliance between the Liberal and Irish Parties
would inevitably have triumphed as soon as a General Election came had
not the appalling misunderstanding as to Gladstone's "Nullity of
Leadership" letter flung everything into chaos and irretrievably
ruined the hopes of Ireland for more than a generation.

And this brings me to what I regard as the greatest of Irish
tragedies--the deposition and the dethronement of Parnell under
circumstances which will remain for all time a sadness and a sorrow to
the Irish race.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: Devoy, although banished, did turn up secretly in Mayo
when the Land League was being organised, and his orders were supreme
with the secret societies.]



                               CHAPTER II

                         A LEADER IS DETHRONED!


In the cabin, in the shieling, in the home of the "fattest" farmer, as
well as around the open hearth of the most lowly peasant, in town and
country, wherever there were hearts that hoped for Irish liberty and
that throbbed to the martial music of "the old cause," the name of
Parnell was revered with a devotion such as was scarcely ever rendered
to any leader who had gone before him. A halo of romance had woven
itself around his figure and all the poetry and passion of the mystic
Celtic spirit went forth to him in the homage of a great loyalty and
regard. The title of "The Uncrowned King of Ireland" was no frothy
exuberance as applied to him--for he was in truth a kingly man, robed
in dignity, panoplied in power, with a grand and haughty bearing
towards the enemies of his people--in all things a worthy chieftain of
a noble race. The one and only time in life I saw him was when he was
a broken and a hunted man and when the pallor of death was upon his
cheeks, but even then I was impressed by the majesty of his bearing,
the dignity of his poise, the indescribably magnetic glance of his
wondrous eyes, and the lineaments of power in every gesture, every
tone and every movement. He awed and he attracted at the same time. He
stood strikingly out from all others at that meeting at Tralee, where
I was one of a deputation from Killarney who presented him with an
address of loyalty and confidence, which, by the way, I, as a youthful
journalist starting on my own adventurous career, had drafted. It was
one of his last public appearances, and the pity of it all that it
should be so, when we now know, with the fuller light and knowledge
that has been thrown upon that bitterest chapter of our tribulations,
that with the display of a little more reason and a juster
accommodation of temper, Parnell might have been saved for his
country, and the whole history of Ireland since then--if not, indeed,
of the world--changed for the better. But these are vain regrets and
it avails not to indulge them, though it is permissible to say that
the desertion of Parnell brought its own swift retribution to the
people for whom he had laboured so potently and well.

I have read all the authentic literature I could lay hold of bearing
upon the Parnell imbroglio, and it leaves me with the firm conviction
that if there had not been an almost unbelievable concatenation of
errors and misunderstandings and stupid blunderings, Parnell need
never have been sacrificed. And the fact stands out with clearness
that the passage in Gladstone's "Nullity of Leadership" letter, which
was the root cause of all the trouble that followed, would never have
been published were it not that the political hacks, through motives
of party expediency, insisted on its inclusion. That plant of tender
growth--the English Nonconformist conscience--it was that decreed the
fall of the mighty Irish leader.

It is only in recent years that the full facts of what happened during
what is known as "The Parnell Split" have been made public, and these
facts make it quite clear that neither during the Divorce Court
proceedings nor subsequently had Parnell had a fair fighting chance.
Let it be remembered that no leader was ever pursued by such malignant
methods of defamation as Parnell, and it is questionable how far the
Divorce Court proceedings were not intended by his enemies as part of
this unscrupulous campaign. Replying to a letter of William O'Brien
before the trial, Parnell wrote: "You may rest quite sure that if this
proceeding ever comes to trial (which I very much doubt) it is not I
who will quit the court with discredit." And when the whole mischief
was done, and the storm raged ruthlessly around him, Parnell told
O'Brien, during the Boulogne negotiations, that he all but came to
blows with Sir Frank Lockwood (the respondent's counsel) when
insisting that he should be himself examined in the Divorce Court, and
he intimated that if he had prevailed the political complications that
followed could never have arisen. On which declaration Mr O'Brien has
this footnote: "The genial giant Sir Frank Lockwood confessed to me in
after years: 'Parnell was cruelly wronged all round. There is a great
reaction in England in his favour. I am not altogether without remorse
myself.'"

Not all at once were the flood-gates of vituperation let loose upon
Parnell. Not all at once did the question of his continued leadership
arise. He had led his people, with an incomparable skill and
intrepidity, not unequally matched with the genius of Gladstone
himself, from a position of impotence and contempt to the supreme
point where success was within their reach. A General Election, big
with the fate of Ireland, was not far off. Was the matchless leader
who had led his people so far and so well to disappear and to leave
his country the prey of warring factions--he who had established a
national unity such as Ireland had never known before? "For myself,"
writes William O'Brien, "I should no more have voted Parnell's
displacement on the Divorce Court proceedings alone than England would
have thought of changing the command on the eve of the battle of
Trafalgar in a holy horror of the frailties of Lady Hamilton and her
lover."

The Liberal Nonconformists, however, shrieked for his head in a real
or assumed outburst of moral frenzy, and the choice thrust upon the
Irish people and their representatives was as to whether they should
remain faithful to the alliance with the Liberal Party, to which the
Irish nation unquestionably stood pledged, or to the leader who had
won so much for them and who might win yet more if he had a united
Ireland behind him, unseduced and unterrified by the clamour of
English Puritan moralists. O'Brien and Dillon and other leading
Irishmen were in America whilst passions were being excited and events
marching to destruction over here. "The knives were out," as one fiery
protagonist of the day rather savagely declared. It is, as I have
already inferred, now made abundantly clear that Gladstone would not
have included in his letter the famous "Nullity of Leadership" passage
if other counsels had not overborne his own better judgment.

It was this letter of Gladstone which set the ball rolling against
Parnell. Up till then the members of the Irish Party and the Irish
people were solidly and, indeed, defiantly with him. No doubt Michael
Davitt joined with such zealots as the Rev. Mr Price Hughes and W.T.
Stead in demanding the deposition of Parnell, but one need not be
uncharitable in saying that Davitt had his quarrels with Parnell--and
serious ones at that--on the Land Question and other items of the
national demand, and he was, besides, a man of impetuous temperament,
not overmuch given to counting the consequences of his actions.

Then there came the famous, or infamous, according as it be viewed,
struggle in Committee Room 15 of the House of Commons, when, by a
majority of 45 to 29, it was finally decided to declare the chair
vacant, after a battle of unusual ferocity and personal bitterness.
And now a new element of complication was added to the already
sufficiently poignant tragedy by the entry of the Irish Catholic
bishops on the scene. Hitherto they had refrained, with admirable
restraint, from interference, and they had done nothing to intensify
the agonies of the moment. It will always remain a matter for regret
that they did not avail themselves of a great opportunity, and their
own unparalleled power with the people, to mediate in the interests of
peace--whilst their mediation might still avail. But unfortunately,
with one notable exception, they united in staking the entire power of
the Church on the dethronement of Parnell. The effect was twofold. It
added fresh fury to the attacks of those who were howling for the head
of their erstwhile chieftain and who were glad to add the thunderbolts
of the Church to their own feebler weapons of assault; but the more
permanent effect, and, indeed, the more disastrous, was the doubt it
left on the minds of thousands of the best Irishmen whether there was
not some malign plot in which the Church was associated with the
ban-dogs of the Liberal Party for dishing Home Rule by overthrowing
Parnell. It was recalled that the Catholic priesthood, with a few
glorious exceptions, stood apart from Parnell when he was struggling
to give life and force to the Irish movement, and thus it came to pass
that for many a bitter year the part of the Irish priest in politics
was freely criticised by Catholics whose loyalty to the Church was
indisputable.

Even still--if only the temporary withdrawal of Parnell were
secured--all might have been well. And it was to this end that the
Boulogne negotiations were set on foot. Mr William O'Brien has,
perhaps, left us the most complete record of what transpired in the
course of those fateful conversations. Parnell naturally desired to
get out of a delicate situation with all possible credit and honour,
and his magnificent services entitled him to the utmost consideration
in this respect. He insisted on demanding guarantees from Mr Gladstone
on Home Rule and the Land Question, and these given he expressed his
willingness to retire from the position of Chairman of the Party. At
first he insisted on Mr William O'Brien being his successor, but
O'Brien peremptorily dismissed this for reasons which were to him
unalterable. Mr Dillon was then agreed to, and a settlement was on the
point of achievement when a maladroit remark of this gentleman about
the administration of the Paris Funds so grievously wounded the pride
of Parnell that the serenity of the negotiations was irreparably
disturbed, and from that moment the movement for peace was merely an
empty show.

Chaos had come again upon the Irish Cause, and the Irish people, who
were so near the goal of success, wasted many years, that might have
been better spent, in futile and fratricidal strife, in which all the
baser passions of politics ran riot and played havoc with the finer
purposes of men engaged in a struggle for liberty and right.



                               CHAPTER III

                          THE DEATH OF A LEADER


There is no Irishman who can study the incidents leading up to
Parnell's downfall and the wretched controversies connected with it
without feelings of shame that such a needless sacrifice of greatness
should have been made.

Parnell broke off the Boulogne negotiations ostensibly on the ground
that the assurances of Mr Gladstone on the Home Rule Question were not
sufficient and that if he was to be "thrown to the English wolves," to
use his own term, the Irish people were not getting their price in
return. But giving the best thought possible to all the available
materials it would seem that Mr Dillon's reflection on Parnell's
_bona fides_ was really at the root of the ultimate break-away.

Mr Barry O'Brien, in his _Life of Parnell_, thus describes the
incident:

"Parnell went to Calais and met Mr O'Brien and Mr Dillon. The Liberal
assurances were then submitted to him and he considered them
unsatisfactory; but this was not the only trouble. Mr O'Brien had
looked forward with hope to the meeting between Parnell and Mr Dillon.
He believed the meeting would make for peace. He was awfully
disappointed. Mr Dillon succeeded completely in getting Parnell's back
up, adding seriously to the difficulties of the situation. He seemed
specially to have offended Parnell by proposing that he (Mr Dillon)
should have the decisive voice in the distribution of the Paris
Funds.... Mr Dillon proposed that the funds might be drawn without the
intervention of Parnell; that, in fact, Mr Dillon should take the
place Parnell had hitherto held.[1] Parnell scornfully brushed aside
this proposal and broke off relations with Mr Dillon altogether,
though to the end he remained on friendly terms with Mr O'Brien."

It is a vivid memory with me how closely we in Ireland hung upon the
varying fortunes and vicissitudes of the Boulogne pourparlers, and how
earnest was the hope in every honest Irish heart that a way out might
be found which would not involve our incomparable leader in further
humiliations. But alas for our hopes! The hemlock had to be drained to
the last bitter drop. Meanwhile Parnell never rested day or night. He
rushed from one end of the country to the other, addressing meetings,
fighting elections, stimulating his followers, answering his defamers
and all the time exhausting the scant reserves of strength that were
left him.

Considering all the causes of his downfall in the light of later
events the alliance of the Irish Party with English Liberalism was, in
my judgment, the primary factor. Were it not for this entanglement or
obligation--call it what you will--the Gladstone letter would never
have been written. And even that letter was no sufficient
justification for throwing Parnell overboard. If it were a question of
the defeat of the Home Rule cause and the withdrawal of Mr Gladstone
from the leadership of the Liberal Party, something may be said for
it, but the words actually used by Mr Gladstone were: "The continuance
of Parnell's leadership would render my retention of the leadership of
the Liberal Party almost a nullity." Be it observed, Gladstone did not
say he was going to retire from leadership; nor did he say he was
going to abandon Home Rule--to forsake a principle founded on justice
and for which he had divided the Liberal Party and risked his own
reputation as a statesman.

To think that Gladstone meant this is not alone inconceivable, but
preposterous. And, indeed, it has been recently made abundantly clear
in Lord Morley's book of personal reminiscences that the Parnell Split
need never have taken place at all had steps been taken by any
responsible body of intermediaries to obtain Gladstone's real views.
We now know it for absolute fact that Gladstone had had actually
struck out of his letter as prepared by him for publication the fatal
and fateful passage and that it was only reinserted at Mr John
Morley's dictation. Mr Morley's own narrative of the circumstances
deserves quotation:

"At 8 to dinner in Stratton Street. I sat next to Granville and next
to him was Mr G. We were all gay enough and as unlike as possible to a
marooned crew. Towards the end of the feast Mr G. handed to me, at the
back of Granville's chair, the draft of the famous letter in an
unsealed envelope. While he read the Queen's speech to the rest I
perused and reperused the letter. Granville also read it. I said to Mr
G. across Granville: 'But you have not put in the very thing that
would be most likely of all things to move him,' referring to the
statement in the original draft, that Parnell's retention would mean
the nullity of Gladstone's leadership. Harcourt again regretted that
it was addressed to me and not to P. and agreed with me that it ought
to be strengthened as I had indicated if it was meant really to affect
P.'s mind. Mr G. rose, went to the writing-table and with me standing
by wrote, on a sheet of Arnold M.'s grey paper, the important
insertion. I marked then and there under his eyes the point at which
the insertion was to be made and put the whole into my pocket. Nobody
else besides H. was consulted about it, or saw it."

Thus the fate of a great man and, to a very considerable extent also,
the destiny of an ancient nation was decided by one of those
unaccountable mischances which are the weapons of Fate in an
inscrutable world. I think that to-day Ireland generally mourns it
that Parnell should ever have been deposed in obedience to a British
mandate--or perhaps, as those who conscientiously opposed Mr Parnell
at the time might prefer to term it, because of their fidelity to a
compact honestly entered into with the Liberal Party--an alliance
which they no doubt believed to be essential to the grant of Home
Rule.

We have since learned, through much travail and disappointment, what
little faith can be reposed in the most emphatic pledges of British
Parties or leaders, and we had been wiser in 1890 if we had taken
sides with Parnell against the whole world had the need arisen. As it
was, fought on front and flank, with the thunders of the Church, and
the ribaldry of malicious tongues to scatter their venomed darts
abroad, Parnell was a doomed man. Not that he lacked indomitable
courage or loyal support. But his frail body was not equal to the
demands of the undaunted spirit upon it, and so he went to his grave
broken but not beaten--great even in that last desperate stand he had
made for his own position, as he was great in all that he had
undertaken, suffered and achieved for his country. It was a hushed and
heart-broken Ireland that heard of his death. It was as if a pall had
fallen over the land on that grey October morning in 1891 when the
news of his passing was flashed across from the England that he
scorned to the Ireland that he loved. It may be that those who had
reviled him and cast the wounding word against him had then their
moment of regret and the wish that what had been heatedly spoken might
be unsaid, but those who loved him and who were loyal to the end found
no consolation beyond this, that they had stood, with leal hearts and
true, beside the man who had found Ireland broken, maimed and
dispirited and who had lifted her to the proud position of conscious
strength and self-reliant nationhood.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: This is not exact. What Dillon proposed was that Parnell,
McCarthy and Dillon himself should be the trustees, the majority to be
sufficient to sign cheques. When Parnell objected to a third being
added, Dillon made the observation which ruined everything: "Yes,
indeed, and the first time I was in trouble to leave me without a
pound to pay the men" (O'Brien's _An Olive Branch in Ireland_).]



                               CHAPTER IV

                       AN APPRECIATION OF PARNELL


With the death of Parnell a cloud of despair seemed to settle upon the
land. Chaos had come again; indeed, it had come before, ever since the
war of faction was set on foot and men devoted themselves to the
satisfaction of savage passions rather than constructive endeavour for
national ideals. We could have no greater tribute to Parnell's power
than this--that when he disappeared the Party he had created was rent
into at least three warring sections, intent for the most part on
their own miserable rivalries, wasting their energies on small
intrigues and wretched personalities and by their futilities bringing
shame and disaster upon the Irish Cause. There followed what Mr
William O'Brien describes in his _Evening Memories_ as "eight
years of unredeemed blackness and horror, upon which no Irishman of
any of the three contending factions can look back without shame and
few English Liberals without remorse."

And thus Ireland parted with "the greatest of her Captains" and reaped
a full crop of failures as her reward. Too late there were flashing
testimonials to his greatness. Too late it became a commonplace
observation in Ireland, when the impotence of the sordid sections was
apparent: "How different it would all be if Parnell were alive." Too
late did we have tributes to Parnell's capacity from friend and foe
which magnified his gifts of leadership beyond reach of the envious.
Even the man who was more than any other responsible for his fall said
of Parnell (Mr Barry O'Brien's _Life of Parnell_):

"Parnell was the most remarkable man I ever met. I do not say the
ablest man; I say the most remarkable and the most interesting. He was
an intellectual phenomenon. He was unlike anyone I had ever met. He
did things and said things unlike other men. His ascendancy over his
Party was extraordinary. There has never been anything like it in my
experience in the House of Commons. He succeeded in surrounding
himself with very clever men, with men exactly suited for his purpose.
They have changed since--I don't know why. Everything seems to have
changed. But in his time he had a most efficient party, an
extraordinary party. I do not say extraordinary as an opposition but
extraordinary as a Government. The absolute obedience, the strict
discipline, the military discipline in which he held them was unlike
anything I have ever seen. They were always there, they were always
ready, they were always united, they never shirked the combat and
Parnell was supreme all the time."

"Parnell was supreme all the time." This is the complete answer to
those--and some of them are alive still--who said in the days of "the
Split" that it was his Party which made him and not he who made the
Party. In this connection I might quote also the following brief
extract from a letter written by Mr William O'Brien to Archbishop
Croke during the Boulogne negotiations:

"We have a dozen excellent front bench men in our Party but there is
no other Parnell. They all mean well but it is not the same thing. The
stuff talked of Parnell's being a sham leader, sucking the brains of
his chief men, is the most pitiful rubbish."

Time proved, only too tragically, the correctness of Mr O'Brien's
judgment. When the guiding and governing hand of Parnell was withdrawn
the Party went to pieces. In the words of Gladstone: "they had changed
since then"--and I may add that at no subsequent period did they gain
the same cohesion, purpose or power as a Party.

It may be well when dealing with Parnell's position in Irish history
to quote the considered opinion of an independent writer of neutral
nationality. M. Paul Dubois, a well-known French author, in his
masterly work, _Contemporary Ireland_, thus gives his estimate of
Parnell:

"Parnell shares with O'Connell the glory of being the greatest of
Irish leaders. Like O'Connell he was a landlord and his family
traditions were those of an aristocrat. Like him, too, he was
overbearing, even despotic in temperament. But in all else Parnell was
the very opposite of the 'Liberator.' The Protestant leader of a
Catholic people, he won popularity in Ireland without being at all
times either understood or personally liked. In outward appearance he
had nothing of the Irishman, nothing of the Celt about him. He was
cold, distant and unexpansive in manner and had more followers than
friends. His speech was not that of a great orator. Yet he was
singularly powerful and penetrating, with here and there brilliant
flashes that showed profound wisdom. A man of few words, of strength
rather than breadth of mind--his political ideals were often uncertain
and confused--he was better fitted to be a combatant than a
constructive politician. Beyond all else he was a Parliamentary
fighter of extraordinary ability, perfectly self-controlled, cold and
bitter, powerful at hitting back. It was precisely these English
qualities that enabled him to attain such remarkable success in his
struggle with the English. Pride was perhaps a stronger motive with
him than patriotism or faith."

We have here the opinions of those who knew Parnell in Parliament--the
one as his opponent, the other as, perhaps, his most intimate
friend--and of an independent outsider who had no part or lot in Irish
controversies. It may be perhaps not amiss if I conclude this
appreciation of Parnell with the views of an Irishman of the latest
school of Irish thought. Mr R. Mitchell Henry, in his work, _The
Evolution of Sinn Fein_, writes:

"The pathetic and humiliating performance (of the Butt 'Home Rulers')
was ended by the appearance of Charles Stewart Parnell, who infused
into the forms of Parliamentary action the sacred fury of battle. He
determined that Ireland, refused the right of managing her own
destinies, should at least hamper the English in the government of
their own house; he struck at the dignity of Parliament and wounded
the susceptibilities of Englishmen by his assault upon the institution
of which they are most justly proud. His policy of Parliamentary
obstruction went hand in hand with an advanced land agitation at home.
The remnant of the Fenian Party rallied to his cause and suspended for
the time, in his interests and in furtherance of his policy, their
revolutionary activities. For Parnell appealed to them by his honest
declaration of his intentions; he made it plain both to Ireland and to
the Irish in America that his policy was no mere attempt at a
readjustment of details in Anglo-Irish relations but the first step on
the road to national independence. He was strong enough both to
announce his ultimate intentions and to define with precision the
limit which must be placed upon the immediate measures to be taken....
He is remembered, not as the leader who helped to force a Liberal
Government to produce two Home Rule Bills but as the leader who said
'No man can set bounds to the march of a nation....' To him the
British Empire was an abstraction in which Ireland had no spiritual
concern; it formed part of the order of the material world in which
Ireland found a place; it had, like the climatic conditions of Europe,
or the Gulf Stream, a real and preponderating influence on the
destinies of Ireland. But the Irish claim was, to him, the claim of a
nation to its inherent rights, not the claim of a portion of an empire
to its share in the benefits which the Constitution of that empire
bestowed upon its more favoured parts."

Judged by the most varied standards and opinions the greatness of
Parnell as the leader of a nation is universally conceded. The
question may be asked: But what did Parnell actually accomplish to
entitle him to this distinction? I will attempt briefly to summarise
his achievements. He found a nation of serfs, and if he did not
actually make a nation of freemen of them he set them on the high road
to freedom, he gave them a measure of their power when united and
disciplined, and he taught them how to resist and combat the
arrogance, the greed and the inbred cruelty of landlordism. He struck
at England through its most vulnerable point--through its Irish
garrison, with its cohorts of unscrupulous mercenaries and hangers-on.
He struck at it in the very citadel of its own vaunted liberties--in
the Parliament whose prestige was its proudest possession and which he
made it his aim to shatter, to ridicule and to destroy. He converted
an Irish Party of complaisant time-servers, Whigs and office-seekers
into a Party of irreproachable incorruptibility, unbreakable unity,
iron discipline and a magnificently disinterested patriotism. He
formulated the demand for Irish nationhood with clearness and
precision. He knew how to bargain with the wiliest and subtlest
statesman of his age, and great and powerful as Gladstone was he met
in Parnell a man equally conscious of his own strength and equally
tenacious of his principles. In fact, on every encounter the ultimate
advantage rested with Parnell. He won on the Land Question, he won on
the labourer's demands, he won on the Home Rule issue and he showed
what a potent weapon the balance of power could be in the hands of a
capable and determined Irish leader.

Not alone did he create an impregnable Irish Party; he established a
united Irish race throughout the world. His sway was acknowledged with
the same implicit confidence among the exiled Irish in America and
Australia as it was by the home-folk in Ireland. He was the great
cementing influence of an Irish solidarity such as was never before
attempted or realised. He did a great deal to arrest the outflow of
the nation's best blood by emigration, and, if he had no strong or
striking policy on matters educational and industrial, he gave manhood
to the people, he developed character in them, he gave them security
in their lands and homes, and, if the unhappy cataclysm of his later
days had not be-fallen, he would unquestionably have given them a
measure of self-government from which they could march onward to the
fullest emancipation that the status of nationhood demands.

There was never stagnation, nor stupidity, nor blundering in the
handling of Irish affairs whilst his hand was on the helm. It was only
later that the creeping paralysis of inefficiency and incompetence
exhibited itself and that a people deprived of his genius for
direction and control sank into unimagined depths of apathy,
indifference and gloom.

He thwarted and defeated what appeared to be the settled policy of
England--namely, to palter and toy with Irish problems, to postpone
their settlement, to engage in savage repressions and ruthless
oppressions until, the race being decimated by emigration or, what
remained, being destroyed in their ancient faiths by a ruthless method
of Anglicisation, the Irish Question would settle itself by a process
of gradual attenuation unto final disappearance.

It was Parnell who practically put an end to evictions in
Ireland--those "sentences of death" under which, from 1849 to 1882,
there were no less than 363,000 peasant families turned out of their
homes and driven out of their country. It was his policy which
invested the tenants with solid legal rights and gave them
unquestioned guarantees against landlord lawlessness. He and his
lieutenants had their bouts with Dublin Castle, and they proved what a
very vulnerable institution it was when courageously assailed.

Taken all in all, he brought a new life into Ireland. He left it for
ever under manifold obligations to him, and whilst grass grows and
water runs and the Celtic race endures, Ireland will revere the name
of Parnell and rank him amongst the noblest of her leaders.



                               CHAPTER V

                     THE WRECK AND RUIN OF A PARTY


The blight that had come upon Irish politics did not abate with the
death of Parnell. Neither side seemed to spare enough charity from its
childish disputations to make an honest and sincere effort at
settlement. There was no softening of the asperities of public life on
the part of the Parnellites--they claimed that their leader had been
hounded to his death, and they were not going to join hands in a
blessed forgiveness of the bitter years that had passed with those who
had lost to Ireland her greatest champion. On the other hand, the
Anti-Parnellites showed no better disposition. It had been one of
their main contentions that Parnell was not an indispensable leader
and that he could be very well done without. They were to prove by
their own conduct and incapacity what a hollow mockery this was and
how feeble was even the best of them without the guidance of the
master mind. They cut a pitiful figure in Parliament, where their
internal bickerings and miserable squabbles reduced them to positive
impotence. For years the "Antis," as they were termed, were divided
into two almost equal sections, one upholding the claims of John
Dillon and the other faithful to the flag of T.M. Healy. Meanwhile
Justin McCarthy, a man of excellent intention but of feeble grasp,
occupied the chair of the Party, but did nothing to direct its policy.
He was a decent figurehead, but not much else. William O'Brien lent
all the support of his powerful personality to Mr Dillon in the hope
that, by establishing his leadership and keeping the door open for
reconciliation with the Parnellite minority, he could restore the
Party to some of its former efficiency and make it once again the
spear-head of the constitutional fight for Ireland's liberties. Mr
Healy, whose boldness of attack upon Parnell had won him the
enthusiastic regard of the clergy as well as the title of "The Man in
the Gap," was also well supported within the Party--in fact, there
were times when he carried a majority of the Party with him. After
Parnell's overthrow a committee was elected by the Anti-Parnellites to
debate and decide policy, but it was in truth left to decide very
little, for the agile intellect of Mr Healy invariably transferred the
fight from it to the Party, which had now become a veritable hell of
incompatibilities and disagreements.

At this time also indications came from outside that all was not well
within the Liberal ranks. Some of the most prominent members of this
Party began to think that the G.O.M. was getting too old for active
leadership and should be sent to the House of Lords. Justin McCarthy
also reported an interview he had with Gladstone, in which the G.O.M.
plainly hinted that, so far as Home Rule was concerned, he could no
longer hope to be in at the finish, and that there was a strong
feeling among his own friends that Irish legislation should be shelved
for a few years so that place might be yielded to British affairs. The
General Election of 1892 had taken place not, as may be imagined,
under the best set of circumstances for the Liberals. The Nationalist
members were still faithful to their alliance, which had cost Ireland
so much, and which was to cost her yet more, and this enabled the
Liberals to remain in office with a shifting and insecure majority of
about 42 when all their hosts were reckoned up.

It is claimed for the Home Rule Bill of 1893 that it satisfied all Mr
Parnell's stipulations. However this may be, Mr Redmond and his
friends seemed to think otherwise, for they raised many points and
pressed several amendments to a division on one occasion, reducing the
Government majority to 14 on the question of the Irish representation
at Westminster, which the Parnellites insisted should remain at 103.
How the mind of Nationalist Ireland has changed since then!

Mr Thomas Sexton was one of the brilliant intellects of the Party at
this period, a consummate orator, a reputed master of all the
intricacies of international finance, and in every sense of the word a
first-rate House of Commons man. But he had in some way or other
aroused the implacable ire of Mr T.M. Healy, whose sardonic invective
he could not stand. A politician has no right to possess a sensitive
skin, but somehow Mr Sexton did, with the result that he allowed
himself to be driven from public life rather than endure the continual
stabs of a tongue that could be very terrible at times--though I would
say myself of its owner that he possesses a heart as warm as ever beat
in Irish breast.

The fate of the Home Rule Bill of 1893 was already assured long before
it left the House of Commons. Like the Bill of 1886 it came to grief
on the fear of the English Unionists for the unity of the Empire. Home
Rule was conquered by Imperialism, and the Ulster opposition was
merely used as a powerful and effective argument in the campaign.

Ireland had sunk meanwhile into a hopeless stupor. The attitude of the
Irish masses appeared to be one of despairing indifference to all the
parties whose several newspapers were daily engaged in the delectable
task of hurling anathemas at each other's heads. Interest in the
national cause had almost completely ebbed away. A Liberal Chief
Secretary, in the person of Mr John Morley, reigned in Dublin Castle,
but all that he is remembered for now is that he started the
innovation of placing Nationalist and Catholic Justices of the Peace
on the bench, who became known in time as "the Morley magistrates."
Otherwise he left Dublin Castle as formidable a fortress of ascendancy
authority as it had ever been. Under conditions as they were then, or
as they are now, no Chief Secretary can hope to fundamentally alter
the power of the Castle. "Imagine," writes M. Paul Dubois in
_Contemporary Ireland_: "the situation of a Chief Secretary newly
appointed to his most difficult office. He comes to Ireland full of
prejudices and preconceptions, and, like most Englishmen, excessively
ignorant of Irish conditions.... It does not take him long to discover
that he is completely in the hands of his functionaries. His
Parliamentary duties keep him in London for six or eight months of the
year, and he is forced to accept his information on current affairs in
Ireland from the permanent officials of the Castle, without having
even an opportunity of verifying it, and to rely on their
recommendations in making appointments. The representative of Ireland
in England and of England in Ireland he is 'an embarrassed phantom'
doomed to be swept away by the first gust of political change. The
last twenty years, indeed, have seen thirteen chief secretaries come
and go! With or against his will he is a close prisoner of the
irresponsible coterie which forms the inner circle of Irish
administration. Even a change of Government in England is not a change
of Government in Ireland. The Chief Secretary goes, but the permanent
officials remain. The case of the clock is changed, but the mechanism
continues as before.... The Irish oligarchy has retained its supremacy
in the Castle. Dislodged elsewhere it still holds the central fortress
of Irish administration and will continue to hold it until the
concession of autonomy to Ireland enables the country to re-mould its
administrative system on national and democratic lines."

When it came to Gladstone surrendering the sceptre he had so long and
brilliantly wielded, I do not remember that the event excited any
overpowering interest in Ireland. Outside the ranks of the politicians
the people had almost ceased to speculate on these matters. A period
of utter stagnation had supervened and it came as no surprise or shock
to Nationalist sentiment when Home Rule was formally abandoned by
Gladstone's successor, Lord Rosebery. "Home Rule is as dead as Queen
Anne," declared Mr Chamberlain. These are the kind of declarations
usually made in the exuberance of a personal or political triumph, but
the passing of the years has a curious knack of giving them emphatic
refutation.

Divided as they were and torn with dissensions, the Nationalists were
not in a position where they could effectively demand guarantees from
Lord Rosebery or enter into any definite arrangement with him. They
kept up their squalid squabble and indulged their personal rivalries,
but a disgusted country had practically withdrawn all support from
them, and an Irish race which in the heyday of Parnell was so proud to
contribute to their war-chest, now buttoned up its pockets and in the
most practical manner told them it wanted none of them.

In this state of dereliction and despair did the General Election of
1895 surprise them. The Parnellites had their old organisation--the
National League--and the Anti-Parnellites had established in
opposition to this the National Federation, so that Ireland had a
sufficiency of Leagues but no concrete programme beyond a disreputable
policy of hacking each other all round. As a matter of fact, we had in
Cork city the curious and almost incredible spectacle of the
Dillonites and Healyites joining forces to crush the Parnellite
candidate, whilst elsewhere they were tearing one another to tatters,
as it would almost appear, for the mere love of the thing.

There was one pathetic figure in all this wretched business--that of
the Hon. Edward Blake, who had been Prime Minister of Canada and who
had surrendered a position of commanding eminence in the political,
legal and social life of the Dominion to give the benefit of his
splendid talents to the service of Ireland. It was a service rendered
all in vain, though, to the end of his life, with a noble fidelity, he
devoted himself to his chosen cause, thus completing a sacrifice which
deserved a worthier reward.

At this period the Home Rule Cause seemed to be buried in the same
grave with Parnell. It may be remarked that there were countless
bodies of the Irish peasantry who still believed that Parnell had not
died, that the sad pageant of his funeral and burial was a prearranged
show to deceive his enemies, and that the time would soon come when
the mighty leader would emerge from his seclusion to captain the hosts
of Irish nationality in the final battle for independence. This idea
lately found expression in a powerful play by Mr Lennox Robinson,
entitled _The Lost Leader_.

But, alas! for the belief, the chieftain had only too surely passed
away, and when the General Election of 1895 was over it was a
battered, broken and bitterly divided Irish Party which returned to
Westminster--a Party which had lost all faith in itself and which was
a byword and a reproach alike for its helpless inefficiency and its
petty intestine quarrels.



                               CHAPTER VI

                       TOWARDS LIGHT AND LEADING


Whilst the slow corruption of the Party had been going on in Ireland,
the cause of Home Rule had been going down to inevitable ruin. The
warnings on which Parnell founded his refusal to be expelled from the
leadership by dictation from England were more than justified in the
event. And later circumstances only too bitterly confirmed it, that
any blind dependence upon the Liberal Party was to be paid for in
disappointment, if not in positive betrayal of Irish interests. A Tory
Party had now come into power with a large majority, and the people
were treated alternately or concurrently to doses of coercion and
proposals initiated with the avowed object of killing Home Rule with
kindness. This had been the declared policy of Mr Arthur Balfour when
his attempt to inaugurate his uncle Lord Salisbury's policy of twenty
years of resolute government had failed, and when, with considerable
constructive foresight, he established the Congested Districts Board
in 1891 as a sort of opposition show--and not too unsuccessful at
that--to the Plan of Campaign and the Home Rule agitation.

With the developments that followed the Irish Party had practically no
connection. They were neither their authors nor instruments, though they
had the sublime audacity in a later generation to claim to be the
legitimate inheritors of all these accomplishments. Mr Dillon had now
arrived at the summit of his Parliamentary ambition--he was the leader
of "the majority" Party, but his success seemed to bring him no comfort,
and certainly discovered no golden vein of statesmanship in his
composition. The quarrels and recriminations of the three sectional
organisations--the National Federation of the Dillonites, the National
League of the Parnellites, and the People's Rights Association of the
Healyites--continued unabated. But beyond the capacity for vulgar abuse
they possessed none other. Parliamentarianism was dying on its legs and
constitutionalism appeared to have received its death-blow. The country
had lost all respect for its "Members," and young and old were sick
unto death of a movement which offered no immediate prospects of action
and no hope for the future. A generation of sceptics and scoffers was
being created, and even if the idealists, who are always to be found in
large number in Ireland, still remained unconquerable in their faith
that a resurgent and regenerated Ireland must arise some time, and
somehow, they were remarkably silent in the expression of their
convictions. Mr William O'Brien thus describes the unspeakable depths to
which the Party had fallen in those days:

"The invariable last word to all our consultations was the pathetic
one, 'Give me a fund and I see my way to doing anything.' And so we
had travelled drearily for years in the vicious circle that there
could be no creative energy in the Party without funds, and that there
could be no possibility for funds for a party thus ingloriously
inactive. Although myself removed from Parliament my aid had been
constantly invoked by Mr Dillon on the eve of any important meeting of
the Party in London, or of the Council of the National Federation in
Dublin, for there was not one of them that was not haunted by the
anticipation of some surprise from Mr Healy's fertile ingenuity. There
is an unutterable discomfort in the recollections of the invariable
course of procedure on these occasions--first, the dozens of
beseeching letters to be written to our friends, imploring their
attendance at meetings at which, if Mr Healy found us in full
strength, all was uneventful and they had an expensive journey for
their pains; next, the consultations far into the night preceding
every trial of strength; the painful ticking off, man by man, of the
friends, foes, and doubtfuls on the Party list, the careful collection
of information as to the latest frame of mind of this or that man of
the four or five waverers who might turn the scale; the resolution,
after endless debates, to take strong action to force the Party to a
manful choice at long last between Mr Dillon and his tormentors, and
to give somebody or anybody authority enough to effect something; and
then almost invariably the next day the discovery that all the labour
had been wasted and the strong action resolved upon had been dropped
in deference to some drivelling hesitation of some of the four or five
doubtfuls who had become _de facto_ the real leaders of the
Party."

I venture to say that a confession of more amazing impotency,
indecision and inefficiency it would be impossible to make. It brings
before the mind as nothing else could the utter degradation of a Party
which only a few brief years before was the terror of the British
Parliament and the pride of the Irish race.

One occasion there was between the Parnell Split and the subsequent
reunion in 1900 when the warring factions might have been induced to
compose their differences and to reform their ranks. A Convention of
the Irish Race was summoned in 1906 which was carefully organised and
which in its character and representative authority was in every way a
very unique and remarkable gathering. I attended it myself in my
journalistic capacity, and I was deeply impressed by the fact that
here was an assembly which might very well mark the opening of a fresh
epoch in Irish history, for there had come together for counsel and
deliberation men from the United States, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa, Newfoundland, the Argentine, as well as from
all parts of Great Britain and Ireland--men who, by reason of their
eminence, public worth, sympathies and patriotism, were calculated to
give a new direction and an inspiring stimulus to the Irish Movement.
They were men lifted high above the passions and rivalries which had
wrought distraction and division amongst the people at home, and it
needs no great argument to show what a powerful and impartial tribunal
they might have been made into for the restoration of peace and the
re-establishment of a new order in Irish political affairs. But this
great opportunity was lost. The factions had not yet fought themselves
to a standstill. Mr Redmond and Mr Healy resisted the most pressing
entreaties of the American and Australian delegates to join the
Convention, and, beyond a series of laudable speeches and resolutions,
a Convention which might have been constituted the happy harbinger of
unity left no enduring mark on the life of the people or the fate of
parties.

When Mr Gerald Balfour became Chief Secretary for Ireland after the
Home Rule debacle of 1895 he determined to continue the policy,
inaugurated by his more famous brother, of appeasement by considerable
internal reforms, which have made his administration for ever
memorable. There have ever been in Irish life certain narrow coteries
of thought which believed that with every advance of prosperity
secured by the people, and every step taken by them in individual
independence, there would be a corresponding weakness in their desire
and demand for a full measure of national freedom. A more fatal or
foolish conviction there could not be. The whole history of nations
and peoples battling for the right is against it. The more a people
get upon their feet, the more they secure a grip upon themselves and
their inheritance, the more they are established in security and
well-being, the more earnestly, indefatigably and unalterably are they
determined to get all that is due to them. They will make every height
they attain a fortress from which to fight for the ultimate pinnacle
of their rights. The more prosperous they become, the better are they
able to demand that the complete parchments and title-deeds of their
liberty and independence shall be engrossed. Hence the broader-minded
type of Irish Nationalist saw nothing to fear from Mr Balfour's
attempts to improve the material condition of the people.
Unfortunately for his reputation, Mr Dillon always uniformly opposed
any proposals which were calculated to take the yoke of landlordism
from off the necks of the farmers. He seemed to think that a
settlement of the Land and National questions should go hand in hand,
for the reason that if the Land Question were once disposed of the
farmers would then settle down to a quiescent existence and have no
further interest in the national struggle.

Accordingly Mr Balfour's good intentions were fought and frustrated
from two opposing sources. His Land Act of 1906 and his Local
Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, were furiously opposed by the Irish
Unionists and the Dillonites alike. The Land Bill was by no means a
heroic measure, and made no serious effort to deal with the land
problem in a big or comprehensive fashion. The Local Government Bill,
on the other hand, was a most far-reaching measure, one of national
scope and importance, full of the most tremendous opportunities and
possibilities, and how any Irish leader in his senses could have been
so short-sighted as to oppose it will for ever remain one of the
mysteries of political life. This Bill broke for ever the back of
landlord power in Irish administration. It gave into the hands of the
people for the first time the absolute control of their own local
affairs. It enfranchised the workers in town and country, enabling
them to vote for the man of their choice at all local elections. It
put an end to the pernicious power of the landed gentry, who hitherto
raised the rates for all local services, dispersed patronage and were
guilty of many misdeeds and malversations, as well of being prolific
in every conceivable form of abuse which a rotten and corrupt system
could lend itself to. To this the Local Government Act of 1898 put a
violent and abrupt end. The Grand Juries and the Presentment Sessions
were abolished. Elected Councils took their place. The franchise was
extended to embrace every householder and even a considerable body of
women. It was the exit of "the garrison" and the entrance of the
people--the triumph of the democratic principle and the end of
aristocratic power in local life.

Next to the grant of Home Rule there could not be a more remarkable
concession to popular right and feeling. Yet Mr Dillon had to find
fault with it because its provisions, to use his own words, included
"blackmail to the landlords" and arranged for "a flagitious waste of
public funds"--the foundation on which these charges rested being
that, following an unvarying tradition, the Unionist Government bribed
the landlords into acceptance of the Bill by relieving them of half
their payment for Poor Rate, whilst it gave a corresponding relief of
half the County Dues to the tenants. He also ventured the prediction,
easily falsified in the results, that the tenants' portion of the rate
relief would be transferred to the landlords in the shape of increased
rents. As a matter of fact, the second term judicial rents,
subsequently fixed, were down by an average of 22 per cent.

Mr Redmond, wiser than Mr Dillon, saw that the Bill had magnificent
possibilities; he welcomed it, and he promised that the influence of
his friends and himself would be directed to obtain for the principles
it contained a fair and successful working. But, with a surprising
lack of political acumen, he likewise expressed his determination to
preserve in the new councils the presence and power of the landlord
and _ex-officio_ element. This was, in the circumstances, with
the Land Question unsettled and landlordism still an insidious power,
a rather gratuitous surrender to the privileged classes.

Before the Local Government Act was sent on its heaven-born mission of
national amelioration another considerable happening had taken place:
the Financial Relations Commission appointed to inquire into the
financial relations between Ireland and Great Britain having tendered
its report in 1896. Financial experts had long contended that Ireland
was grievously overtaxed, and that there could be no just dealing
between the two countries until the amount of this overtaxation was
accurately and scientifically ascertained and a proper balance drawn.
It was provided in the Act of Union that the two countries should
retain their separate budgets and should each remain charged with
their respective past debts, and a relative proportion of contribution
to Imperial expenses was fixed. But the British Parliament did not
long respect this provision. In 1817 it decreed a financial union
between the two countries, amalgamated their budgets and exchequers,
and ordered that henceforth all the receipts and expenditure of the
United Kingdom should be consolidated into one single fund, which was
henceforward to be known as the Consolidated Fund. It was not long
before we had cumulative examples of the truth of Dr Johnson's dictum
that England would unite with us only that she may rob us. Successive
English chancellors imposed additional burdens upon our poor and
impoverished country, until it was in truth almost taxed out of
existence. The weakest points in the Gladstonian Home Rule Bills were
admittedly those dealing with finance.

The publication of the report of the Financial Relations Commission,
which had been taking evidence for two years, created a formidable
outcry in Ireland. We had long protested against our taxes being
levied by an external power; now we knew also that we were being
robbed of very large amounts annually. The Joint Report of the
Commission, signed by eleven out of thirteen members, decided that the
Act of Union placed on the shoulders of Ireland a burden impossible
for her to bear; that the increase of taxation laid on her in the
middle of the nineteenth century could not be justified, and, finally,
that the existing taxable capacity of Ireland did not exceed
one-twentieth part of that of Great Britain (and was perhaps far
less), whereas Ireland paid in taxes one-eleventh of the amount paid
by Great Britain. Furthermore, the actual amount taken each year in
the shape of overtaxation was variously estimated to be between two
and three quarters and three millions. Instantly Ireland was up in
arms against this monstrous exaction. For a time the country was
roused from its torpor and anything seemed possible. All classes and
creeds were united in denouncing the flagrant theft of the nation's
substance by the predominant partner. By force and fraud the Act of
Union was passed: by force and fraud we were kept in a state of
beggary for well-nigh one hundred years and our poverty flaunted
abroad as proof of our idleness and incapacity. What wonder that we
felt ourselves outraged and wronged and bullied? Huge demonstrations
of protest were held in all parts of the country. These were attended
by men of all sects and of every political hue. Nationalist and
Unionist, landlord and tenant, Protestant and Catholic stood on the
same platform and vied with each other in denunciation of the common
robber. At Cork Lord Castletown recalled the Boston Tea riots. At
Limerick Lord Dunraven presided at a meeting which was addressed by
the Most Rev. Dr O'Dwyer, the Catholic bishop of the diocese, and by
Mr John Daly, a Fenian who had spent almost a lifetime in prison to
expiate his nationality.

There was a general forgetfulness of quarrels and differences whilst
this ferment of truly national indignation lasted. But the cohesive
materials were not sound enough to make it a lasting union of the
whole people. There were still class fights to be fought to their
appointed end, and so the agitation gradually filtered out, and
Ireland remains to-day still groaning under the intolerable burden of
overtaxation, not lessened, but enormously increased, by a war which
Ireland claims was none of her business.

The subsidence of the political fever from 1891 to 1898 was not
without its compensations in other directions. Ireland had time to
think of other things, to enter into a sort of spiritual retreat--to
wonder whether if, after all, politics were everything, whether the
exclusive pursuit of them did not mean that other vital factors in the
national life were forgotten, and whether the attainment of material
ambitions might not be purchased at too great a sacrifice--at the loss
of those spiritual and moral forces without which no nation can be
either great or good in the best sense. There was much to be done in
this direction. The iron of slavery had very nearly entered our souls.
Centuries of landlord oppression, of starvation, duplicity and
Anglicisation had very nearly destroyed whatever there was of moral
virtue and moral worth in our nature. The Irish language--our
distinctive badge of nationhood--had almost died upon the lips of the
people. The old Gaelic traditions and pastimes were fast fading away.
Had these gone we might, indeed, win Home Rule, but we would have lost
things immeasurably greater, for "not by bread alone doth man
live"--we would have lost that independence of the soul, that moral
grandeur, that intellectual distinction, that spiritual strength
without which all the charters of liberty which any foreign Parliament
could confer would be only so many "scraps of paper," assuring us it
may be of fine clothes and well-filled stomachs and self-satisfied
minds, but conferring none of those glories whose shining illumines
the dark ways of life and leads us towards that light which surpasseth
all understanding.

Thanks to the workings of an inscrutable Providence it was, however,
whilst the worst form of political stagnation had settled on the land
that other deeper depths were stirring and that the people were of
themselves moving towards a truer light and a higher leading.



                               CHAPTER VII

                 FORCES OF REGENERATION AND THEIR EFFECT


"George A. Birmingham" (who in private life is Canon Hannay), in his
admirable book, _An Irishman Looks at his World_, tells us: "The
most important educational work in Ireland during the last twenty
years has been done independently of universities or schools," and in
this statement I entirely agree with him. And I may add that in this
work Canon Hannay himself bore no inconsiderable part. During a
political campaign in Mayo in 1910 I had some delightful conversations
with Canon Hannay in my hotel at Westport, and his views expressed in
the volume from which I quote are only a development of those which he
then outlined. Both as to the vexed questions then disturbing North
and South Ireland and as to the lines along which national growth
ought to take place we had much in common. We agreed that nationality
means much more than mere political independence--that it is founded
on the character and intellect of the people, that it lives and is
expressed in its culture, customs and traditions, in its literature,
its songs and its arts. We saw hope for Ireland because she was
remaking and remoulding herself from within--the only sure way in
which she could work out her eventual salvation, whatever political
parties or combinations may come or go.

This process of regeneration took firm root when the parties were
exhausting themselves in mournful internal strife. Through the whole
of the nineteenth century it had been the malign purpose of England to
destroy the spirit of nationality through its control of the schools.
Just as in the previous century it sought to reduce Ireland to a state
of servitude through the operations of the Penal Laws, so it now
sought to continue its malefic purpose by a system of education "so
bad that if England had wished to kill Ireland's soul when she imposed
it on the Sister Isle she could not have discovered a better means of
doing so" (M. Paul Dubois). And the same authority ascribes the
fatalism, the lethargy, the moral inertia and intellectual passivity,
the general absence of energy and character which prevailed in Ireland
ten or twelve years ago to the fact that England struck at Ireland
through her brain and sought to demoralise and ruin the national mind.

Thank God for it that the effort failed, but it failed mainly owing to
the fact that a new generation of prophets had arisen in Ireland who
saw that in the revival and reform of national education rested the
best hope for the future. They recalled the gospel of Thomas Davis and
the other noble minds of the Young Ireland era that we needs must
educate in order that we may be free. They sought to give form and
effect to the splendid ideals of the Young Irelanders. A new spirit
was abroad, and not in matters educational alone. The doctrine of
self-help and self-reliance was being preached and, what was better,
practised.

The Gaelic League, founded in 1893 by a few enthusiastic Irish
spirits, was formed to effect an Irish renascence in matters of the
mind and spirit. It was non-sectarian and non-political. Its purpose
was purely psychological and educational--it sought the preservation
of the Irish language from a fast-threatening decay, it encouraged the
study of ancient Irish literature and it promoted the cultivation of a
modern literature in the Irish language. Its beginnings were modest,
and its founders were practically three unknown young men whose only
special equipment for leadership of a new movement were boundless
enthusiasm and the possession of the scholastic temperament. Douglas
Hyde, the son of a Protestant clergyman, dwelt far away in an
unimportant parish in Connaught, and, while still a boy, became
devoted to the study of the Irish language. Father O'Growney was a
product of Maynooth culture, whose love of the Irish tongue became the
best part of his nature, and John MacNeill (now so well known as a
Sinn Fein leader) was born in Antrim, educated in a Belfast school and
acquired his love for Irish in the Aran islands. It is marvellous to
consider how the programme of the new League "caught on." Some
movements make their appeal to a class or a cult--to the young, the
middle-aged or the old. But the Gaelic League, perhaps because of the
very simplicity and directness of its objects, made an appeal to all.
It numbered its adherents in every walk of life; it drew its
membership from all political parties; it gathered the sects within
its folds, and the greatest tribute that can be paid it is that it
taught all its disciples a new way of looking at Ireland and gave them
a new pride in their country. Ireland became national and independent
in a sense it had not learnt before--it realised that "the essential
mark of nationhood is the intellectual, social and moral patrimony
which the past bequeaths to the present, which, amplified, or at least
preserved, the present must bequeath to the future, and that it is
this which makes the strength and individuality of a people."

Its branches spread rapidly throughout Ireland, and the movement was
taken up abroad with equal enthusiasm. Irish language classes were
organised, Irish history of the native--as distinct from the
British--brand was taught. Lessons in dancing and singing were given
and the old national airs were revived and became the popular music of
the day. It would take too much of my space to recount all the varied
activities of the League, all that it did to preserve ancient Irish
culture, to make the past live again in the lives of the people, to
foster national sports and recreations, to organise Gaelic festivals
of the kind that flourished in Ireland's artistic past, to create an
Irish Ireland and to arrest the decadence of manners and the
Anglicisation which had almost eaten into the souls of the people and
destroyed their true Celtic character. Mr P.H. Pearse truly said of
it: "The Gaelic League will be recognised in history as the most
revolutionary influence that ever came into Ireland." It saved the
soul of Ireland when it was in imminent danger of being lost, and its
triumph was in great measure due to the fact that it held rigidly
aloof from the professedly political parties, although it may be said
for it that it undoubtedly laid the foundations of that school of
thought which made all the later developments of nationality possible.
And the amazing thing is that the priest and the parson, the gentry
and the middle classes, equally with the peasantry, vied with each
other in extending the influence and power of the movement. One of its
strongest supporters was a leader of the Belfast Orangemen, the late
Dr Kane, who observed that though he was a Unionist and a Protestant
he did not forget that he had sprung from the Clan O'Cahan. The
stimulation given to national thought and purpose spread in many
directions. A new race of Irish priests was being educated on more
thoroughly Irish lines, and they went forth to their duties with the
inspiration, as it were, of a new call. A crusade was started against
emigration, which was fast draining the country of its reserves of
brain, brawn and beauty. The dullness of the country-side, an
important factor in forcing the young and adventurous abroad, was
relieved by the new enthusiasm for Irish games and pastimes and
recreations--for the _seanchus_, the _sgoruidheacht_, the
_ceilidhe_ and the _Feiseanna_.

In giving to the young especially a new pride in their country and in
their own, great and distinctive national heritage, it did a great
deal to strengthen the national character and to make it more
independent and self-reliant. It started the great work of rooting out
the slavery which centuries of dependency and subjection had bred into
the marrow of the race. Mr Arthur Griffith has admitted that the
present generation could never have effected this work had not Parnell
and his generation done their brave labour before them, but considered
in themselves the achievements of the Gaelic League can only be
described as mighty both in the actual revolution it wrought in the
moral, intellectual and spiritual sphere, in the reaction it created
against the coarser materialism of imported modes and manners, and in
the new spirit which it breathed into the entire people.

Coincident with the foundation of the Gaelic League, other
regenerative influences were also at work. These aimed at the economic
reconstruction and the industrial development of the country by the
inculcation of the principles of self-help, self-reliance and
co-operation, and by the wider dissemination of technical instruction
and agricultural education. Ireland, by reason, I suppose, of its
condition, its arrested development and its psychology, is a country
much given to "new movements," most of which have a very brief
existence. They are born but to breathe and then expire. In the ease,
however, of the Gaelic League, and the movements for co-operation
amongst the farmers, and for technical instruction in the arts and
crafts most suitable to the country, these movements were conceived
and created strongly to endure. And to the credit of their authors
and, be it said also, of the country for whose upliftment and
betterment they were intended, they have endured greatly, and greatly
fulfilled their purpose.

It is conceded by all who have any knowledge of the subject that the
economic decadence of Ireland is not due to any lack of natural
resources; neither is it due to insufficiency of capital or absence of
workers. It is due to want of initiative, want of enterprise, want of
business method, want of confidence, and want of education on the
right lines. The education which should have been fashioned to fit the
youth of Ireland for a life of work and industry and usefulness in
their own land was invented with the express object of making of them
"happy English children." There are possibly a few hundred millions
sterling of Irish money, belonging in the main to the farmers and
well-to-do shopkeepers, lying idle in Irish banks, and the irony of it
is that these savings of the Irish are invested in British
enterprises. They help to enrich the British plutocrat and to provide
employment for the British worker, whilst the vast natural resources
of Ireland remain undeveloped and the cream of Ireland's productive
power, in the shape of its workers, betake themselves to other lands
to assist in strengthening the structure and stability of other
nations, when they should be engaged in raising the fabric of a
prosperous commonwealth at home.

Those, however, who would blame Ireland for its present position of
industrial stagnation forget that it was not always thus--they do not
bear it in mind that Ireland had a great commercial past, that it had
its own mercantile marine doing direct trade with foreign countries,
that it had flourishing industries and factories and mills all over
the country, but that all these were killed and destroyed and driven
out of existence by the cruel trade policy of England, which decreed
the death of every Irish industry or manufacture which stood in the
way of its own industrial progress.

Those who sought the economic reconstruction of the country had
accordingly to contend against a very evil inheritance. The commercial
spirit had been destroyed; it should be educated anew. The desire to
foster home products and manufactures had ceased to exist; it should
be re-born and a patriotic preference for home manufactures instilled
into the people. Pride in one's labour--the very essence of
efficiency--had gone out of the country. It should be aroused again.
Economic reform should proceed first on educational lines before it
could be hoped to establish new industries with any hope of success.
The pioneer in this work was the Hon. (now Sir) Horace Plunkett who
returned to Ireland after some ranching experiences in the United
States and set himself the task of effecting the economic regeneration
of rural Ireland by preaching the gospel of self-help and
co-operation. It is no part of my purpose to inquire into the secret
motives of Sir Horace Plunkett, if he ever had any, or to allege, as a
certain writer (M. Paul Dubois) has done, that Sir Horace promoted the
movement for economic reform in the hope of reconciling Ireland to the
Union and to Imperialism. I may lament it, as I do, that Sir Horace,
who now believes himself to be the discoverer of Dominion Home Rule,
did not raise his voice either for the Agrarian Settlement or for Home
Rule during all the years while he was a real power in the country. I
am not however going to allow my views on these questions to deflect
my judgment from the real merit of the work performed by Sir Horace
and his associates in the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society,
which in the teeth of considerable difficulties and obstacles
succeeded in propagating through Ireland the principles of self-help
and co-operation.

From the first, the Society had many and powerful enemies, most of the
opposition springing from interested and malevolent parties. But there
is, perhaps, no man in all the world so quick to see what is really
for his advantage as the Irish farmer, and so the movement gradually
found favour, and co-operative associations began to be formed in all
parts of Ireland. The agricultural labourer has all along regarded the
Creamery side of co-operation with absolute dislike. He declares that
it is fast denuding the land of labour, that it tends to decrease
tillage, and is one of the most active causes of emigration. They say,
and there is ocular evidence of the fact, that a donkey and a little
boy or girl to drive him to the Creamery now do the work of dairymaids
and farm hands. But, whilst this is a criticism justified by existing
conditions, it does not mean that co-operation is a thing bad in
itself, or that there is anything inherently vicious in it to cause or
create the employment of less labour. What it does mean is that the
education of the farmer is still far from complete, that he does not
yet know how to make the best use of his land, and that he does not
till and cultivate it as he ought to make it really fruitful. Besides
the Creamery system there are other forms of co-operation which have
exercised a most beneficent influence amongst the peasantry. These
include agricultural societies for the improvement of the breed of
cattle, a number of country banks, mostly of the Raiffeisen type,
co-operative associations of rural industries, principally lace, and
societies for the sale of eggs and fowls, the dressing of flax, and
general agriculture.

A direct outcome of the Co-operative Movement was the creation by Act
of Parliament in 1899 of the Department of Agriculture and Technical
Instruction in Ireland--a Department which, though it possesses many
faults of administration and of policy, has nevertheless had a
distinctly wholesome influence on Irish life. In relation to the
Co-operative Movement the judgment of Mr Dillon was once again
signally at fault. He gave it vehement opposition at every point and
threw the whole weight of his personal following into the effort to
arrest its growth and expansion. Happily, however, the practical good
sense of the people saved them from becoming the dupes of parties who
had axes of their own, political or personal, to grind, and thus
co-operation and self-help have won, in spite of all obstacles and
objections, a very fair measure of success.

Meanwhile a remarkable development was taking place in the matter of
bringing popular and educative literature within reach of the masses.
Public and parish libraries and village halls were widely established.
These were supplementary to the greater movements to which reference
has been made, but they were indicative of the steady bent of the
national mind towards enlightenment and education, and of a desire in
all things appertaining to the national life for more and better
instruction. Another important movement there was to which little
reference is made in publications dealing with the period--namely, the
organisation of the town and country labourers for their political and
social improvement. It was first known as the Irish Democratic Trade
and Labour Federation, but this went to pieces in the general
confusion of the Split. It was resurrected subsequently under the
title of the Irish Land and Labour Association. I mention it here as
an additional instance of the regenerative agencies that were at work
in every domain of Irish life, and among all classes, at a time when
the politicians were tearing themselves to pieces and providing a
Roman holiday for their Saxon friends.



                               CHAPTER VIII

               THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT AND WHAT IT CAME TO


Whilst Ireland was thus finding her soul and Mr Gerald Balfour
pursuing his beneficent schemes for "killing Home Rule with kindness,"
the country had sickened unto death of the "parties" and their
disgusting vagaries. Mr William O'Brien, although giving loyal support
and, what is more, very material assistance to Mr Dillon and his
friends, was not himself a Member of Parliament, but was doing far
better work as a citizen, studying, from his quiet retreat on the
shores of Clew Bay, the shocking conditions of the Western peasantry,
who were compelled to eke out an existence of starvation and misery
amid the crags and moors and fastnesses of the west, whilst almost
from their very doorsteps there stretched away mile upon mile of the
rich green pastures from which their fathers were evicted during the
clearances that followed the Great Famine of 1847, and which M. Paul
Dubois describes as "the greatest legalised crime that humanity has
ever accomplished against humanity."

"To look over the fence of the famine-stricken village and see the
rich green solitudes, which might yield full and plenty, spread out at
the very doorsteps of the ragged and hungry peasants, was to fill a
stranger with a sacred rage and make it an unshirkable duty to strive
towards undoing the unnatural divorce between the people and the land"
(William O'Brien in an _Olive Branch in Ireland_).

Mr Arthur Balfour had established the Congested Districts Board in
1891 to deal with the Western problem, where "the beasts have eaten up
the men," and when Mr O'Brien settled down at Mallow Cottage he
devoted himself energetically to assisting the Board in various
projects of local development. But his experiences proved that these
minor reforms were at the best only palliatives, "sending men ruffles
who wanted shirts," and that there could be only one really
satisfactory solution--to restore to the people the land that had been
theirs in bygone time, to root out the bullocks and the sheep and to
root in the people into their ancient inheritance. It was only after
years of patient effort that he at last succeeded in persuading the
Congested Districts Board to make its first experiment in land
purchase for the purpose of enlarging the people's holdings and making
them the owners of their own fields.[1] The scene was Clare Island,
"the romantic dominion of Granya Uaile, the 'Queen of Men,'" who for
many years brought Elizabeth's best captains to grief among her wild
islands. The lordship of this island of 3949 acres, with its
ninety-five families, had passed into the hands of a land-jobber,
"with bowels of iron," who sought to extract his cent. per cent. from
the unfortunate islanders by a series of police expeditions in a
gunboat, with a crop of resulting evictions, bayonet charges and
imprisonments.

The result of the experiment was, beyond expectation, happy. After
many delays the Congested Districts Board handed over the island to
its new peasant proprietors, now secure for ever more in their own
homesteads, but this transfer was not completed until the Archbishop
of Tuam and Mr O'Brien had guaranteed the payment of the purchase
instalments for the first seven years--a guarantee which to the
islanders' immortal credit never cost the guarantors a farthing.

Fired to enthusiasm by the success of this experiment Mr O'Brien
conceived the idea of a virile agitation for the replantation of the
whole of Connaught, so that the people should be transplanted from
their starvation plots to the abundant green patrimony around them. He
avows that no political objects entered into his first conceptions of
this movement in the West. But the approach of the centenary of the
insurrection of 1798, with its inspiring memories of the United
Irishmen, furnished him with the idea, and the happy title for a new
organisation which, in his own words, "drawing an irresistible
strength and reality from the conditions in the West, would also throw
open to the free air of a new national spirit those caverns and
tabernacles of faction in which good men of all political persuasions
had been suffocating for the previous eight years." Accordingly the
United Irish League was born into the world at Westport on the 16th
January 1898, to achieve results which, if they be not greater--though
great, indeed, they are--the fault assuredly rests not with the
founder of the League, but with those others who malevolently thwarted
his purposes. The occasion was opportune. The three several movements
of the Dillonites, Redmondites and Healyites were in ruins, and
Ireland went its way unheeding of them. The young men were busy with
their '98 and Wolfe Tone Clubs. They drank deep of the doctrines of a
heroic age. Centenary celebrations were held throughout the country,
at which men were exhorted to study the history of an era when men
were proud to die for the land they loved. For a space we listened to
the martial music of other days, and our hearts throbbed to its
stirring notes. The soul of the nation was uplifted above the squalid
rivalries of the "'ites" and the "'isms." It awaited a unifying
influence and a programme which would disregard the factions and leave
a wide-open door for all Nationalists to come in, no matter what sides
they had previously taken or whether they had taken any at all.

This wide-open door and this broad-based programme the United Irish
League offered. Mr Dillon attended the inaugural meeting, but from
what Mr O'Brien tells us he did not seem to grasp the full
potentialities of the occasion, "and he made his own speech without
any indication that any unusual results were expected to follow." Mr
Timothy Harrington, one of the leading and most levelheaded of the
Parnellite members, also attended, in defiance of bitter attack from
his own side, showing a moral courage sadly lacking in our public men,
either then or later. By what I cannot help thinking was a most
fortuitous circumstance for the League, at a moment when its existence
was not known outside three or four parishes, Mr Gerald Balfour
determined to swoop down upon it and to crush it with the whole might
of the Crown forces. Two Resident Magistrates and the Assistant
Inspector-General of Constabulary, with a small army corps of special
police, were sent to Westport. Result--the inevitable conflict between
the police and people took place, prosecutions followed, extra police
taxes were put on and a store of popular resentment was aroused, the
League getting an advertisement which was worth scores of organisers
and monster meetings. I am myself satisfied that it was the ferocity
of the Crown attack upon the League which gave it its surest passport
to popular favour. Whilst the United Irish League was struggling into
life in the west I was engaged in the south in an attempt to lead the
labourers out of the bondage and misery that encompassed them--their
own sad legacy of generations of servitude and subjection--but I am
nevertheless pleased to recall now that, as the editor of a not
unimportant provincial newspaper in Cork, I followed the early
struggles of the new League with sympathy and gave it cordial welcome
when it travelled our way.

As a mere statement of indisputable fact, it is but just to say
that the entire burden of organising the League fell upon the
shoulders of Mr O'Brien. When it was yet an infant, so to speak, in
swaddling-clothes, and indeed for long after, when it grew to lustier
life, he had to bear the whole brunt of the battle for its existence,
without any political party to support him, without any great
newspaper to espouse his cause and without any public funds to supply
campaign expenses. Nay, far worse, he had to face the bitter hostility
of the Redmondites and Healyites "and the scarcely less depressing
neutrality" of the Dillonites, whilst under an incessant fire of shot
and shell from a Coercion Government. After Mr Dillon's one appearance
at Westport he was not seen on the League platform for many a day. At
Westport he had exhorted the crowd to "be ready at the call of their
captain by day or night," but having delivered this incitement he left
to others the duty of facing the consequences, candidly declaring that
he had made up his mind never to go to jail again. Mr Harrington,
however, remained the steadfast friend of the League, and Mr Davitt
also gave it his personal benediction, all the more generous and
praiseworthy in that his views of national policy seldom agreed with
those of Mr O'Brien. Confounding all predictions of its early eclipse,
and notwithstanding a thousand difficulties and discouragements, the
League continued to make headway, and after eighteen months' Herculean
labours Mr O'Brien and his friends were in a position to summon a
Provincial Convention at Claremorris, in the autumn of 1899, to settle
the constitution of the organisation for Connaught. Two nights before
the Convention Mr Dillon and Mr Davitt visited Mr O'Brien at Mallow
Cottage to discuss his draft Constitution. It is instructive, having
in mind what has happened since, that Mr Dillon took exception to the
very first clause, defining the national claim to be "the largest
measure of national self-government which circumstances may put it in
our power to obtain." This was the logical continuance of Parnell's
position that no man had a right to set bounds to the march of a
nation, but Mr Dillon seemed to have descried in it some sinister
purpose on the part of Mr O'Brien and Mr Davitt to abandon the
constitutional Home Rule demand in the interest of the physical force
movement. Eventually a compromise was agreed on, but in regard to
other points of the Constitution--particularly that which made the
constituencies autonomous and self-governing--Mr Dillon was
obstinately opposed to democratic innovation. It would appear to me
that in these days was sown the seeds of those differences of opinion
between those close friends of many years' standing which were later
to develop into a feeling of personal hostility which, on the part of
one of them (Mr Dillon) at least, was black and bitter in its
unforgivingness. The Claremorris Convention was such a success its
"dimensions and character almost took my own breath away with wonder;
all other feelings vanished from the minds of us all except one of
thankfulness and rapture in presence of this incredible spectacle of
the foes of ten years' bitter wars now marching all one way 'in mutual
and beseeming ranks,' radiant with the life and hope of a national
resurgence" (Mr O'Brien).

The first test of the strength and power of the League was shortly to
come. Mr Davitt resigned his seat for South Mayo and proceeded to
South Africa to give what aid he could to the Boers in their desperate
struggle for freedom. A peculiar situation arose over the
Parliamentary vacancy that was thus created. The enemies of the United
Irish League hit upon the astute political device of nominating Major
M'Bride, himself a Mayo man, who was at the moment fighting in the
ranks of the Irish Brigade in the Boer service. Mr O'Brien was
naturally confronted with a cruel dilemma. To allow the seat to go
uncontested was to confess a failure and to give joy to another
brigade--the Crowbar Brigade--who wished for nothing better than the
early overthrow of the League, which was the only serious menace to
their power in the country. To contest the seat was to have the
accusation hurled at his head that he was lacking in enthusiasm for
the Boer cause, which Nationalist Ireland to a man devotedly espoused.
The question Mr O'Brien had to ask himself was what was his duty to
Ireland and to the oppressed peasantry of the West. It could not
affect the Boer cause by a hair's-breadth who was to be future member
for South Mayo, but it meant everything to Irish interests whether the
United Irish League was to make headway and to gain a grip on the
imagination and sympathies of the people. And, influenced by the only
consideration which could be decisive in a situation of such
difficulty, Mr O'Brien offered to the electors of South Mayo Mr John
O'Donnell, the first secretary and organiser of the League, who was
then lying in Castlebar Jail as the result of a Coercion prosecution.
After a contest, in which all the odds seemed to lie on the side of
the South African candidate, Mr O'Donnell was returned by an
overwhelming majority.

The South Mayo election meant the end of one chapter of Irish history
and the opening of another in which the political imbecility and
madness which had distorted and disgraced the years since the Parnell
Split could no longer continue their vicious courses. The return of Mr
O'Donnell had focussed the attention of all Ireland on the programme
and policy of the League. Branches multiplied amazingly, until it
would be no exaggeration to say that they spread through the country
like wildfire. The heather was ablaze with the joy of a resurgent
people who had already almost forgotten the weary wars that had
sundered them and who blissfully joined hands in one more grand united
endeavour for the old land.

Having in several pitched battles defeated the forces of the
Rent-offices and the politicians and disposed of some of the vilest
conspiracies which the police emissaries of the Castle could hatch
against it, the League had to engage in more desperate encounters
before it could claim its cause won. I have already remarked that when
the Local Government Bill was receiving the benediction of all parties
in Parliament, except Mr Dillon, Mr Redmond promised that his
influence would be extended to an effort to return the landlord and
ascendancy class to the new Councils. The United Irish League
determined to take issue with him on this. When the elections under
the new Act were announced, Mr Redmond, honestly enough, proceeded to
give effect to his promise. Mr O'Brien decided, and very rightly and
properly in my judgment, that it would be a fatal policy, and a weak
one, to surrender to the enemy, whilst he was still unconquered and
unrepentant, any of those new Councils which could be made citadels of
national strength and a new fighting arm of the constitutional
movement. It meant that having driven the landlords forth from the
fortresses from which they had so long oppressed the people, they
should be immediately readmitted to them, having made no submissions
and given no guarantees as to their future good behaviour. Mr Redmond
and his followers made brave appeal from the landlord platforms to
their supporters "not to be bitten by the Unity dog." Mr Healy's
newspaper and influence took a similar bent. Mr Dillon's majority, as
usual helpless and indecisive, promulgated no particular policy. For
Mr O'Brien and the United Irish League there could be no such
balancings or doubts. It is good also to be able to say of Mr Davitt
that he assisted in fighting the insidious attempt to denationalize
the County and District Councils. The League and its supporters won
all along the line. The few reverses they sustained were negligible
when compared with the mighty victories they obtained all over
Ireland, and when the elections were over the League was established
in an impregnable position as the organisation of disinterested and
genuine nationality.

The Parliamentarians, seeing how matters stood, and no doubt with a
wise thought of their own future, now proceeded to compose their
quarrels. They saw themselves forgotten of the people, but they were
resolved apparently that the people should not forget them. They took
their cue from a country no longer divided over sombre futilities, and
unable to make up their minds for themselves they accepted the
judgment of the country once they were aware that it was irrevocably
come to. Mr Dillon after his re-election to the chair of his section
in 1900 immediately announced his resignation of the office, and
being, as we are assured on the authority of Mr O'Brien, always
sincerely solicitous for peace with the Parnellites, he caused a
resolution to be passed binding the majority party in case of reunion
to elect as their chairman a member of the Parnellite Party, which
numbered merely nine.

Naturally Mr Redmond and his friends did not hesitate to close with
this piece of good fortune, which opened an honourable passage from a
position of comparative isolation to one of triumph and power. The
Healyites, whose quarrel appeared to be wholly with Mr Dillon, to whom
Mr Healy in sardonic mood had attached the sobriquet of "a melancholy
humbug," made no difficulty about falling in with the new arrangement,
and the three parties forthwith met and signed and sealed a pact for
reunification without the country in the least expecting it or,
indeed, caring about it. Probably the near approach of a General
Election had more to do with this hastily-made pact than any of the
nobler promptings of patriotism. I believe myself the country would
have done much better had the United Irish League gone on with its own
blessed work of appeasement and national healing unhampered by what,
as after knowledge conclusively proved to me, was nothing but a
hypocritical unity for selfish salvation's sake. Mr O'Brien puts the
whole position in a nutshell when he says: "The Party was reunified
rather than reformed." The treaty of peace they entered into was a
treaty to preserve their own vested interests in their Parliamentary
seats.

But a generous and forgiving nation was only too delighted to have an
end of the bickerings and divisions which had wrought such harm to the
cause of the people, and accordingly it hailed with gratification the
spectacle of a reunited Irish Party.

It is probable, nevertheless, that had the process of educating the
people into a knowledge of their own power gone on a little further
the United Irish League would have been able at the General Election
to secure a national representation which would more truly reflect
national dignity, duty and purpose.

The first result of the Parliamentary treaty was the election of Mr
John E. Redmond to the chair. In the circumstances, the majority party
having pledged themselves to elect a Parnellite, no other choice was
possible. Mr Redmond possessed many of the most eminent qualifications
for leadership. He had an unsurpassed knowledge of Parliamentary
procedure and seemed intended by nature for a great Parliamentary
career. He was uniformly dignified in bearing, had a distinguished
presence, a voice of splendid quality, resonant and impressive in
tone, and an eloquence that always charmed his hearers. Had he
possessed will power and strength of character in any degree
corresponding to his other great gifts, there were no heights of
leadership to which he might not have reached. As it was, he lacked
just that leavening of inflexibility of purpose and principle
which was required for positive greatness as distinct from
moderately-successful leadership. At any rate, he was the only
possible selection, yet once again Mr Dillon exhibited a disposition
to show the cloven hoof. For some inscrutable reason he made up his
mind to oppose Mr Redmond's election to the chair, but when Mr O'Brien
and Mr Davitt (who had returned from the Transvaal) got word of the
plot they wired urgent messages to their friends in Parliament that Mr
Redmond's selection was the only one that could give the leadership
anything better than a farcical character. Result--Mr Redmond was
elected by a very considerable majority, and Mr Dillon had further
reason for having his knife in his former friend and comrade, Mr
O'Brien.

The three sectional organisations--the National Federation, the
National League and the People's Rights Association thereafter died a
natural death. There were no ceremonial obsequies and none to sing
their requiem.

The first National Convention of the reunited country was then
summoned by a joint committee consisting of representatives of the
United Irish League and the Party in equal numbers, and it gave the
League a constitution which made it possible for the constituencies to
control the organisation, to select their own Parliamentary
representatives and generally to direct national affairs within their
borders. The conception of the Constitution was sound and democratic.
But in any organisation it is not the constitution that counts, but
the men who control the movement. And the time came all too soon when
this was sadly true of the United Irish League.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: To Dr Robert Ambrose belongs the credit for having first
introduced, as a private member, in 1897, a Bill to confer upon the
Congested Districts compulsory powers for land purchase. This was
subsequently adopted as an Irish Party measure. Dr Ambrose was also
the author of a measure empowering the County Councils to acquire
waste lands for reclamation. He was one of the pioneers of the
Industrial Development Movement and wrote and lectured largely on the
subject. He was, with the late Bishop Clancy, prominent in promoting
"the All-Red Route," which would have given Ireland a great terminal
port on its western coast at Blacksod Bay. He, at considerable
professional sacrifice, entered the Party, at the request of Mr Dillon
and Mr O'Brien, as Member for West Mayo. The reward he received for
all his patriotic services was to find himself opposed in 1910 by the
Dillonite caucus because of his independent action on Irish questions.
Mr Dillon had no toleration for the person of independent mind, and
thus a man who had given distinguished service to public causes was
ruthlessly driven out of public life.]



                               CHAPTER IX

                  THE LAND QUESTION AND ITS SETTLEMENT


The General Election of 1900 witnessed a wonderful revival of national
interest in Ireland. Doubtless if the constituencies had been left to
their own devices they would have returned members responsive to the
magnificent resolves of the people. But the Parliamentarians were
astute manipulators of the political machine: they had for the most
part wormed themselves into the good graces of the local leaders, and
arranged for their own re-election when the time came. But there was
nevertheless a considerable leavening of new members--young,
enthusiastic and uncontaminated by the feuds and paltry personalities
of an older generation. They brought, as it were, a whiff of the free,
democratic air of the country to Parliament with them, and gave an
example of fine unselfishness and devotion to duty which did not fail
to have their influence on their elder and more cynical brethren. The
feud between the Dillonites and Healyites had not, however, been ended
with the general treaty of peace. Mr Redmond did not want Mr Healy
fought, but in the interests of internal peace Mr Dillon, Mr Davitt
and Mr O'Brien appear to have come to the conclusion that they could
not have Mr Healy in the new Party. Accordingly, Mr Healy and his
friends were fought wherever they allowed themselves to be nominated,
and Mr Healy himself was the only one to survive after a desperate
contest full of exciting incidents in North Louth.

I made my first bid for Parliamentary honours in the 1900 election,
when I had my name put forward as Labour candidate at the South Cork
convention. I was not very strongly supported then, but the following
May, on the death of Dr Tanner, I was nominated again as Labour
candidate for Mid-Cork, and after a memorable tussle at the Divisional
Convention I headed the poll by a substantial majority. Hence I write
from now onward with what I may claim to be an intimate inside
knowledge of affairs.

The first few years after the 1900 election saw us a solidly united
opposition in Parliament for the first time for ten years. Question
time was a positive joy to us younger members, who developed almost
diabolical capacity for heckling Ministers on every conceivable topic
under the sun. Our hostility to the Boer War also brought us into
perennial conflict with the Government. The Irish members in a very
literal sense once more occupied "the floor of the House," and there
were some fierce passages-at-arms, resulting on one occasion in the
forcible ejection of a large body of Nationalists by the police--an
incident which had no relish for those who were jealous of the
prestige and fair fame of the Mother of Parliaments. In Ireland the
fight for constitutional reform went on with unabated energy. All the
old engines of oppression and repression were at work, and the people
proved that they had lost none of their wit or resource in the
struggle with the forces of the Crown. Mr George Wyndham, whom I like
to look back upon as one of the most courtly and graceful figures in
the public life of the past generation, was installed in Dublin Castle
as Chief Secretary. I can imagine that nothing could have been more
distasteful to his generous spirit than to be obliged to use the
hackneyed weapons of brute force in the pursuance of British policy.
As an answer to the agitation for compulsory land purchase and a
settlement of the western problem Mr Wyndham introduced in 1902 a Land
Purchase Bill which fell deplorably short of the necessities of the
situation. It would have deprived the tenants of all free will in the
matter of the price they would be obliged to sell at, and left them
wholly at the mercy of two landlord nominees on the Estates
Commissioners, whilst it did not even pretend to find any remedy for
the two most crying national scandals of the western "congests" and
the homeless evicted tenants. No doubt there were many good and
well-meaning men in the Party, and out of it, who thought this Bill
should have been accepted as "an instalment of justice." But there are
times when to be moderate is to be criminally weak, and this was one
of them. It is as certain as anything in life or politics can be that
if the Bill of 1902 had been accepted, the Irish tenants would be
still going gaily on under the old rent-paying conditions. The United
Irish League was still in the first blush of its pristine vigour, and
when the delegates of the National Directory came up from the country
to Dublin they soon showed the mettle they were made of. They wanted
no paltry compromises, and it was then and there decided to enter upon
a virile campaign against rack-renters, grazing monopolists and
land-grabbers such as would convince the Government in a single winter
how grossly they had under-estimated the requirements of the country.

Some of the older men of the Party were pessimistic about the new
campaign. Messrs Dillon, Davitt and T.P. O'Connor wrote a letter to Mr
O'Brien remonstrating with him, in a tone of gentle courtesy, on the
extreme character of his speeches and actions. But Mr O'Brien was not
to be deflected from his purpose by any friendly pipings of this kind.
The country was with him. The country was roused to a pitch of
passionate resistance to the Wyndham Bill, and the Government, seeing
which way the wind blew, and realising that the time for half-measures
was past, withdrew their precious Purchase Bill. Then followed a
fierce conflict along the old lines. The Government sought to suppress
the popular agitation by the usual antiquated methods. Proclamation
followed proclamation, until two-thirds of the Irish counties, and the
cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, were proclaimed under the
Coercion Act and the ordinary tribunals of justice abolished. Public
meetings were suppressed. The leaders of the people were thrown into
prison: at one time no less than ten members of Parliament were in
jail. The country was seething with turmoil and discontent and there
was no knowing where the matter would end. The landlords, feeling the
necessity for counter-action of some kind, organised a Land Trust of
£100,000 to prosecute Messrs Redmond, Davitt, Dillon and O'Brien for
conspiracy. The United Irish League replied by starting a Defence Fund
and arranging that Messrs Redmond, Davitt and Dillon should go to the
United States to make an appeal in its support. All the elements of
social convulsion were gathering their strength, when an unknown
country gentleman wrote a letter to the Irish newspapers dated 2nd
September 1902, in the following terms:--

"For the last two hundred years the land war in this country has raged
fiercely and continuously, bearing in its train stagnation of trade,
paralysis of commercial business and enterprise and producing hatred
and bitterness between the various sections and classes of the
community. To-day the United Irish League is confronted by the Irish
Land Trust, and we see both combinations eager and ready to renew the
unending conflict. I do not believe there is an Irishman, whatever his
political feeling, creed or position, who does not yearn to see a true
settlement of the present chaotic, disastrous and ruinous struggle. In
the best interests, therefore, of Ireland and my countrymen I beg most
earnestly to invite the Duke of Abercorn, Mr John Redmond, M.P., Lord
Barrymore, Colonel Saunderson, M.P., the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the
O'Conor Don, Mr William O'Brien, M.P., and Mr T.W. Russell, M.P., to a
Conference to be held in Dublin within one month from this date. An
honest, simple and practical suggestion will be submitted and I am
confident that a settlement will be arrived at."

The country rubbed its eyes to see who it was that had put forward
this audacious but not entirely original proposal. (It had been
suggested by Archbishop Walsh fifteen years before.) Captain John
Shawe-Taylor's name suggested nothing to the Nationalist leaders. They
had never heard of him before. In the landlord camp he stood for
nothing and had no authority--he was simply the young son of a Galway
squire, with entire unselfishness and boundless patience, who
conceived that he had a mission to settle this tremendous problem that
had been rendered only the more keen by forty-two Acts of the Imperial
Parliament that had been vainly passed for its settlement. It is
surely one of the strangest chances of history that where generations
of statesmen and parliaments had failed the _via media_ for a
final arrangement should have been made by an unknown officer who
prosecuted his purpose to such effect that he forced his way into the
counsels of the American Clan-na-Gael, and even, as we are told,
"beyond the ante-chambers of royalty itself." It is probable that
Captain Shawe-Taylor's invitation would have been regarded as the
usual Press squib had it not been followed two days later by a public
communication from Mr Wyndham in the following terms:--

"No Government can settle the Irish Land Question. It must be settled
by the parties interested. The extent of useful action on the part of
any Government is limited to providing facilities, in so far as that
may be possible, for giving effect to any settlement arrived at by the
parties. It is not for the Government to express an opinion on the
opportuneness of the moment chosen for holding a conference or on the
selection of the persons invited to attend. Those who come together
will do so on their own initiative and responsibility. Any conference
is a step in the right direction if it brings the prospect of a
settlement between the parties near, and as far as it enlarges the
probable scope of operations under such a settlement."

This official declaration gave an importance and a significance to
Captain Shawe-Taylor's letter which otherwise would never have
attached to it. The confession that "no Government can settle the
Irish Land Question" was in itself a most momentous admission. It was
the most ample justification of nationalism, which held that a foreign
Parliament was incompetent to legislate for Irish affairs, and now the
accredited mouthpiece of the Government in Ireland had formally
subscribed to this doctrine. This admission was in itself and in its
outflowing an event comparable only to Gladstone's conversion to Home
Rule. It amounted to a challenge to Irishmen to prove their competence
to settle the most sorely-beset difficulty that afflicted their
country. Not only were Irishmen invited to settle this particularly
Irish question, but they were given what was practically an official
assurance that the Unionist Party would sponsor their agreement,
within the limits of reason.

Immediately Captain Shawe-Taylor's proposal became canvassed of the
newspapers and the politicians. Mr Dillon seemed to be sceptical of
it, as a transparent landlord dodge. It was, however, enthusiastically
welcomed by the _Freeman_, whilst _The Daily Express_, the
organ of the more unbending of the territorialists, denounced it
mercilessly, and no sooner did the Duke of Abercorn, Lord Barrymore,
the O'Conor Don and Colonel Saunderson learn that Mr Redmond, the Lord
Mayor of Dublin, Mr T.W. Russell and Mr O'Brien were willing to join
the Conference than they wrote to Captain Shawe-Taylor declining his
invitation. The Landowners Convention, the official landlord
organisation, also by an overwhelming majority decided against any
peace parley with the tenants' representatives. But the forces in
favour of a conference were daily gaining force even amongst the
landlord class; whilst on the tenants' side a meeting of the Irish
Catholic Hierarchy, attended by three archbishops and twenty-four
bishops, with Cardinal Logue in the chair, cordially approved the Land
Conference project and put on record their earnest hope "that all
those on whose co-operation the success of this most important
movement depends may approach the consideration of it in the spirit of
conciliation in which it has been initiated." The Irish Party, on the
motion of Mr Dillon, also unanimously adopted a resolution approving
of the action taken by Messrs Redmond, O'Brien and Harrington in
expressing their willingness to meet the landlord representatives. The
mass of the landlords were so far from submitting to the veto of the
Landowners' Convention that, headed by men of such commanding position
and ability as the Earl of Dunraven, Lord Castletown, the Earl of
Meath, Lord Powerscourt, the Earl of Mayo, Colonel Hutcheson-Poë and
Mr Lindsay Talbot Crosbie, they formed a Conciliation Committee of
their own to test the opinion of the landlords over the heads of the
Landowners Convention. The plebiscite taken by this Committee more
than justified them. By a vote of 1128 to 578 the landlords of Ireland
declared themselves in favour of a Conference, and empowered the
Conciliation Committee to nominate representatives on their behalf.

Thus the first stage of the struggle for a settlement by consent was
victoriously carried.

The next stage was the discussion of the terms upon which the
landlords would allow themselves to be expropriated throughout the
length and breadth of the land. Here there were, unfortunately,
violent divergences of opinion on the tenants' side. Mr O'Brien
postulated, as an essential ingredient of any settlement that could
hope for success, that the State should step in with a liberal bonus
to bridge over the difference between what the tenants could afford to
give and the landlords afford to take. When this proposal was first
mooted it was regarded as a counsel of perfection, and Mr O'Brien was
looked upon as a genial visionary or a well-meaning optimist. But
nobody thought it was a demand that the Government or Parliament would
agree to. Happily, however, for the foresight of Mr O'Brien, it was
his much-derided bonus scheme which became the very pivot of the Land
Conference Report.

Meanwhile events were moving rapidly behind the scenes. It was
conveyed to Messrs Redmond, Davitt, Dillon and O'Brien that Mr Wyndham
had offered the Under-Secretaryship for Ireland to Sir Antony
MacDonnell, who had lately retired from the position of Governor of
Bengal. They were told by his brother, Dr Mark Antony MacDonnell, who
was one of the Nationalist members, that Sir Antony was hesitating
much as to his decision. Sir Antony conveyed that he had made it clear
to Mr Wyndham that, as he was an Irish Nationalist and a believer in
self-government, he could not think of going to Ireland to administer
a Coercion regime, and, further, that he favoured a bold and generous
settlement of the University difficulty. Mr Wyndham, it was
understood, had given the necessary assurances, and Sir Antony now
wished it to be conveyed to the Irish leaders that he would not accept
the post against their will or without a certain measure, at least, of
benevolent toleration on their part.

All these happenings foreshadowed a joyous transformation of the
political scene, to the incalculable advantage of those who had made
such a magnificent stand for Irish rights; but the Irish Party was
determined that until rumours had crystallised into realities they
were going to relax none of their extra-constitutional pressure upon
the Government. It was, for instance, resolved to begin the Autumn
Session with a resounding protest against Coercion and to carry on the
conflict in the country more determinedly than ever.

The just and reasonable demand for a day to debate the administration
was unaccountably avoided by the Government, whose reply was that a
day would be granted if the demand came from the official Liberal
Opposition. The Nationalists could not submit to this degradation of
their independent position in Parliament, and when they attempted to
secure their end by a motion for the adjournment of the House they
found that two Irish Unionists had "blocked" them by placing on the
Order Paper certain omnibus resolutions on the state of Ireland. Since
the days of Parnellite obstruction such scenes were not witnessed as
those that followed. The Party defied all rules of law and order,
worried the Government by all sort of lawless interruptions and
irrelevant questions, flagrantly flouted the authority of the chair
and, finally, after a week of Parliamentary anarchy, it was determined
that even more extreme courses would be adopted unless the
constitutional right of Ireland to be heard in the Chamber was
conceded. Hint of this was conveyed to Mr Speaker Gully, who,
regardful of the honour of the House, used his good offices with the
Government to such effect that the blocking motions were incontinently
withdrawn and the discussion in due course took place.

Whilst these developments were taking place Mr O'Brien had taken every
possible precaution to guard himself against any charge of autocracy
in the direction of the movement, whether in Parliament or in the
country. At the request of his colleagues on the Land Conference he
had drafted a Memorandum containing the basis of settlement which
would be acceptable to Nationalist opinion. This was submitted to
Messrs Redmond, Davitt and Sexton, with an urgent entreaty for their
freest criticism or any supplementary suggestions of their own. None
of these could, therefore, complain that Mr O'Brien was attempting to
do anything over their heads. And impartial judgment will declare that
if either Mr Sexton, Mr Dillon or Mr Davitt had views of their own, or
had any vital disagreements with Mr O'Brien's suggestions, now was the
time to declare them. Far from committing himself to any dissent, when
Mr O'Brien, after a fortnight, wrote to Mr Sexton for the return of
his Memorandum, Mr Sexton wrote:

"I have read the Memo. carefully two or three times and now return it
to you as you want to use it and have no other copy. It will take some
time to look into your proposals with anything like sufficient care.
You will hear from me as soon as I think I can say anything that may
possibly be of use."

Be it here noted that Mr Sexton never did communicate, even when he
had looked into Mr O'Brien's proposals "with sufficient care." Later
he waged implacable war on the Land Conference Report and the Land Act
from his commanding position as Managing Director of _The Freeman's
Journal_ (the official National organ). He did so in violation of
the promise on which the Party had entrusted him with that position,
that he would never interfere in its political direction.

Other informal meetings between Sir Antony MacDonnell and the Irish
leaders followed, the purpose of Sir Antony being, before he accepted
office in the Irish Government, to gather the views of leading
Irishmen, especially as to the possibility of a genuine land
settlement, which he regarded as the foundation of all else.
Subsequently it transpired that Mr Sexton had engaged in some
negotiations on his own account with Sir Antony MacDonnell, and it is
not improbable that part at least of his quarrel with the Land
Conference was that the settlement propounded by it superseded and
supplanted his own scheme. Neither Mr O'Brien nor his friends were
made aware of these private pourparlers, entered into without any
vestige of authority from the Party or its leader, and they only
learnt of them casually afterwards. The incident is instructive of how
the path of the peacemaker is ever beset with difficulties, even from
among his own household.

After surmounting a whole host of obstacles the Land Conference at
long last assembled in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 20th December
1902. Mr Redmond submitted the final selection of the tenants'
representatives to a vote of the Irish Party and, with the exception
of one member who declined to vote, the choice fell unanimously upon
those named in Captain Shawe-Taylor's letter. Although their findings
were subsequently subjected to much embittered attack, no one had any
right to impugn their authority, capacity, judgment or intimate
knowledge of the tenants' case.

The landlords' representatives were also fortunately chosen. The Earl
of Dunraven was a man of the most statesmanlike comprehension, whose
high patriotic purpose in all the intervening years has won for him an
enduring and an honourable place in the history of his country. He
strove to imbue his own landlord class with a new vision of their duty
and their destiny, and if only a few of the later converts to the
national claim of Ireland had supported him when he came forward
first, in favour of the policy of national reconciliation, many
chapters of tragedy in our national life would never have been
written. With a close knowledge of his labours and his personality I
can write this of him--that a man more passionately devoted to his
country, more sincerely anxious to serve her highest interests, or
more intrepid in pursuing the courses and supporting the causes he
deems right, does not live. He has been a light in his generation and
to his class, and he deserves well of all men who admire a moral
courage superior to all the shafts of shallow criticism and a
patriotism which undoubtedly seeks the best, as he sees it, for the
benefit of his country. And more than this cannot be said of the
greatest patriot who ever lived. The Earl of Mayo also brought a fine
idealism and high patriotism to the Conference Council Board. He had a
genuine enthusiasm for the development of Irish industries and was the
moving spirit in the Irish Arts and Crafts Exhibitions. Colonel
Hutcheson-Poë, a gallant soldier, who had lost a leg in Kitchener's
Soudan Campaign, a gentleman of sound judgment and excellent sense,
was one of the moderating elements in the Conference. Finally, Colonel
Nugent Everard represented one of the oldest Anglo-Irish families of
the Pale and the author of several projects tending to the betterment
of the people. The tenants' representatives presented a concise list
of their own essential requirements as drafted by Mr O'Brien. It was
as follows:--

   BASIS.--ABOLITION OF DUAL OWNERSHIP

1. For landlords, net second-term income, less all outgoings.

2. For occupiers, reduction of not less than 20 per cent. in
   second-term rents or first-term correspondingly reduced. Decennial
   reductions to be retained.

3. Difference between landlords' terms and occupiers' terms to be made
   up by State bonus and reduced interest with, in addition, purchase
   money in cash and increased value for resale of mansion and demesne.

4. Complete settlement of evicted tenants' question an indispensable
   condition.

5. Special and drastic treatment for all congested districts in the
   country (as defined by the Bill of 1902).

6. Sales to be between parties or through official commissioners as
   parties would prefer.

7. Non-judicial and future tenants to be admitted.

8. (Query.) Sporting rights to be a matter of agreement.

I do not propose to go into any detailed account of what transpired at
the sittings (six in number) of the Land Conference. All this
information is available in Mr O'Brien's _An Olive Branch in
Ireland_. Suffice it to say that seven out of eight of the tenants'
requirements were conceded outright and the eighth was covered by a
compromise which would have enabled any tenant in the country, whether
non-judicial or future tenants, to become the proprietor of his own
holding on reasonable terms. On 4th January 1903 a unanimous report
was published. The country scarcely expected this, and its joy at this
ever-memorable achievement was correspondingly greater. It was
inconceivable that the landlords should have, in solemn treaty, signed
their own death warrant as territorialists, yet this was the amazing
deed to which they affixed their sign manual when their four
representatives signed the Land Conference Report.

Ever since the first Anglo-Norman set foot in Ireland and began to
despoil the ancient clans of their land there has been trouble in
connection with the Irish Land Question. The new race of landlords
regarded their Irish land purely as a speculation, not as a home; they
were in great part absentees, having no aim in Ireland beyond drawing
their rents. They had no duties to their tenants in the sense that
English landlords have. They had no natural ties with the country and
they regarded themselves as free from all the duties or obligations of
ownership. They never advanced capital for the improvement of the land
or the erection of buildings, and never put a farthing into the
cultivation of the soil. The tenant had to do everything out of his
own sweat and blood--build his home and out-offices, clean and drain
the land, make the fences, lay down the roads and, when he had done
all this and made the property more valuable, his rent was raised on
him, even beyond the value of the improvements he had effected. Woe to
the industrious man, for he was taxed upon his industry! And yet who
is not familiar with the foolish and the ignorant tribe of scribblers
who, with no knowledge of the facts, prate about "the lazy Irish"? And
if they were lazy--which I entirely deny--who made them so? Had they
no justification for their "laziness"? Why should they wear their
lives out so that a rapacious landlord whom they never saw should live
in riotousness and debauchery in the hells of London or the Continent?

"One could count on one's fingers," said the Cowper Commission in
1887, "the number of Irish estates on which the improvements have been
made by the landlord." The Irish landlord class never did a thing for
Ireland except to drain her of her life-blood--to rob and depopulate
and destroy, to make exaction after exaction upon the industry of her
peasants, until their wrongs cried aloud for redress, if not for
vengeance. In England it was estimated in 1897 that the landlord class
had spent in investments in landlord property a sum estimated at
£700,000,000. These can justly claim some right in the land. In
Ireland the landlord was simply the owner of "the raw earth"--the bare
proprietor of the soil, a dead weight upon the industry and honest
toil of the tenant, receiving a rent upon the values that the labour
and the energy of generations of members of a particular family had
created. The Irish landlord and his horde of hangers-on--his agents,
his bailiffs, his process-servers, his bog-rangers, his
rent-warners--created a system built upon corruption, maintained in
tyranny, and enforced with all the ruthless severities of foreign laws
enacted solely for the benefit of England's garrison. "I can imagine
no fault," said Mr Arthur Balfour, speaking as Prime Minister in the
House of Commons, 4th May 1903, "attaching to any land system which
does not attach to the Irish system." Evictions in Ireland came to be
known as "sentences of death," so cruel and numerous were they until
the popular agitation was strong enough to check them.

Even the Gladstonian legislation of 1881, though it admittedly did
something substantial towards redressing the balance between landlord
and tenant by securing to the tenants what were known as "the three
F.'s "--viz. Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rent, and Free Sale--yet left the
question in a wholly unsettled state. The fixing of fair rents, no
doubt, acted as a curb on landlord rapacity, but from the tenants'
point of view it was a wholly vicious, indeterminate and
unsatisfactory system. It was incentive to indifferent farming, since
the commissioners who had the fixing of rents, and the inspectors who
examined the farms, made their valuations upon the farms as they saw
them. True, the tenant could claim for his improvements, but in
practice this was no real safeguard. The more industrious the tenant
the higher the rent--the less industrious and the less capable the
lower the figure to be paid.

Hence, after the failure of countless Acts of Parliament, it was borne
in upon all earnest land-reformers that there could be only one final
and satisfactory solution: that was the abolition of dual
ownership--in other words, the buying out of the landlord and the
establishment of the tenant in the single and undisputed ownership of
the soil on fair and equitable terms. A tentative start had been made
in land purchase by the Land Purchase Act of 1885--called, after its
author, the Ashbourne Act. This experiment had proved an immense
success, for in six years the ten millions sterling assigned for its
operations were exhausted and 25,867 tenants had been turned into
owners of their farms.

It became clear that a scheme of purchase which would, within a
definite period, root out the last vestige of landlordism was the one
only real and true solution for the land problem. And now, blessed
day, and glory to the eyes that had lived to see it, and undying
honour to the men whose genius and sacrifices had made it possible,
the decree had gone forth that end there must be to landlordism. And,
wonder of wonders, the landlords themselves had agreed to the fiat
decreeing their own extinction as a ruling caste. It was with
heartfelt hope and relief, and with the sense of a great victory
achieved, that the country received the wondrous news of the success
of the Land Conference. The dawn of a glorious promise had broken
through the long night of Ireland's suffering, but the mischief-makers
were already at work to see that the noonday sun of happiness did not
shine too strongly or too steadily.



                               CHAPTER X

                LAND PURCHASE AND A DETERMINED CAMPAIGN
                               TO KILL IT


I can only rapidly sketch the events that followed the publication of
the Land Conference Report. Mr Sexton made it his business in _The
Freeman's Journal_ to decry its findings on the sinister ground
that they offered too much to the landlords and were not sufficiently
favourable to the tenants, sneering at the proposal for a bonus,
hinting that no Government would find money for this purpose. Mr
Davitt, who was an earnest disciple of Henry George's ideal of Land
Nationalisation, naturally enough found nothing to like in the
proposals for land purchase, which would set up a race of
peasant-proprietors who would never consent to surrender their
ownership to the State and would consequently make the application of
the principles of Land Nationalisation for ever impossible in Ireland.
Besides, Michael Davitt had cause for personal hatred of landlordism,
which exiled his parents after eviction, and incidentally meant the
loss of an arm to himself, and a violence of language which would be
excusable in him would not be justifiable or allowable in the cases of
men who had not suffered similarly, such as Messrs Dillon and Sexton.
Yet the fault was not theirs if the Land Conference did not end in
wreckage and such a glorious chance of national reconciliation and
appeasement was not lost to Ireland.

In the meantime Sir Antony MacDonnell, greatly daring and, I would
likewise say, greatly patriotic, accepted the offer of the Irish
Under-Secretaryship in a spirit of self-abnegation beyond praise. Mr
Redmond and Mr O'Brien had, at his request, met him, early in
February, 1903, to discuss the provisions of the contemplated Purchase
Bill. It may be remarked that Messrs Dillon and Davitt were invited to
meet Sir Antony on the same occasion, but they declined. They
apparently desired the position of greater freedom and less
responsibility, from which they could deliver their attacks upon their
friends. They received little support from the country in their
guerrilla warfare on the Land Conference findings. The Standing
Committee of the Catholic Hierarchy left no room for doubt as to their
views. They declared the holding of the Land Conference "to be an
event of the best augury for the future welfare of both classes"
(landlords and tenants), and they expressed the hope that its
unanimity would result in legislation which would settle the Land
Question once for all "and give the Irish people of every class a fair
opportunity to live and serve their native land." The Irish Party and
the National Directory of the United Irish League, the two bodies
invested with sovereign authority to declare the national policy,
unanimously, at specially convened meetings, approved the findings of
the Land Conference and accepted them as the basis of a satisfactory
settlement of the Land Question. Neither Mr Dillon nor Mr Davitt
attended either of these meetings. Indeed, Mr Dillon ostentatiously
took his departure from Dublin on the morning the meetings were held,
but strangely enough he attended an adjourned meeting of the Party at
Westminster the following day and opposed a proposal to raise the
question of the Land Conference Report on the Address. Mr Redmond
entered a dignified protest against Mr Dillon's conduct, pointing out
that the previous day was Mr Dillon's proper opportunity for
submitting any objections of his to his colleagues of the Party and of
the National Directory. Mr Dillon did not find a single supporter for
his attitude, and he was obliged to disclaim, with some heat, that he
had any grievance in reference to the Conference. Next day he went
abroad for the benefit of his health.

The debate on the Amendment to the Address had the most gratifying
results. Mr Wyndham accepted, in principle, the Land Conference
Agreement and announced that the Government would smooth the
operations of Land Purchase by a bonus of twelve millions sterling as
a free grant to Ireland. The debate accomplished another striking
success, that it elicited from all the men of light and leading in the
Liberal Party--from Mr Morley, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, Sir E. Grey,
Mr Haldane and Mr John Burns--expressions of cordial adhesion to the
policy of pacification outlined by the Chief Secretary, thus effecting
the obliteration of all English Party distinctions for the first time
where one of Ireland's supreme interests was concerned. It required
only the continuance of this spirit to give certain assurance of
Ireland's early deliverance from all her woes and troubles. But an
adverse fate, in the form of certain perverse politicians, ordained it
otherwise.

On 25th March 1903 Mr Wyndham introduced his Bill. It adopted fully
the fundamental principles of the Land Conference and undertook to
find Imperial funds for the complete extinction of landlordism in
Ireland within a period which Mr Wyndham estimated at fifteen years.
Furthermore the tenants were to obtain the loans on cheaper terms than
had ever been known before--viz. an interest of 2-3/4 per cent. and a
sinking fund of 1/2 per cent., being a reduction in the tenants'
annuity from £4 to £3, 5s. as compared with the best of the previous
Acts. In addition a State grant-in-aid to the extent of
£12,000,000--roughly equivalent to three years' purchase--was produced
to bridge the gap between what the tenants could afford to pay and the
landlords to accept. The Bill fell short of the requirements of the
Land Conference in certain respects, notably in that it proposed to
withhold one-eighth of the freehold from the tenants as an assertion
of State right in the land, and that the clauses dealing with the
Evicted Tenants and Congested questions were vague and inadequate.
Other minor defects there also were, but nothing that might not be
remedied in Committee by conciliatory adjustments. A National
Convention was summoned for 16th April to consider whether the Bill
should be accepted or otherwise. Previously there was much
subterranean communication between Messrs Dillon, Davitt, Sexton and
T.P. O'Connor, all with calculated intent to damage or destroy the
Bill. And it is also clear that certain members of the Irish Party
(Messrs Dillon and T.P. O'Connor), who were pledge-bound to support
majority rule "in or out of Parliament," were carrying on official
negotiations of their own with the Minister in charge of the Bill and
were using the organ of the Party to discredit principles and
proposals to which the Party had given its unanimous assent. It would
not, in the circumstances, be unjust to stigmatise this conduct as
disloyalty, if not exactly treachery, to the recorded decisions of the
Party. At any rate it was the source and origin of incredible mischief
and the most deplorable consequences to Ireland. The opponents of the
Bill made a concerted effort to stampede the National Convention from
arriving at any decision regarding the Bill. They wanted it to
postpone judgment. But the Convention, in every sense magnificently
representative of all that was sound and sincere in the constitutional
movement, was too much alive to all the glorious possibilities of the
policy of national reconciliation which was taking shape and form
before their eyes to brook any of the ill-advised counsels of those
who had determined insidiously on the wreck of this policy.

In all the great Convention there were only two voices raised in
support of the rejection of the Bill. And when Mr Davitt moved the
motion, concerted between Mr T.P. O'Connor, Mr Sexton and himself,
that the Convention should suspend judgment until it was brought in
its amended Third Reading Form before an adjourned sitting of the
Convention, he was so impressed by the enthusiastic unanimity of the
delegates that he offered, after some parley, to withdraw his motion,
and thus this great and authoritative assembly pledged the faith of
the Irish nation to the policy of national reconciliation and gave its
loyal adhesion to the authors of that policy.

But this decision of the people, constitutionally and legitimately
expressed, was not long to remain unchallenged. Immediately after the
Convention Mr Davitt waited upon Mr Redmond, at the Gresham Hotel,
Dublin, and blandly told him: "I have had a wire from Dillon to-day
from the Piraeus, to say he is starting by the first boat for home and
from this day forth O'Brien and yourself will have Dillon, T.P. and
myself on your track." Thus was set on foot what, with engaging
candour, Mr Davitt himself later described in an article he
contributed to _The Independent Review_ as "a determined
campaign" against the national policy which had been authoritatively
endorsed and approved by every organisation in the country entitled to
speak on the subject. The country has had to pay much in misery, in
the postponement of its most cherished hopes and in the holding up of
land purchase over great areas owing to the folly, the madness and the
treachery of this "determined campaign." Mr Dillon, at a later stage,
with a certain Machiavellian cunning, raised the cry of "Unity" from
every platform in the country against those who had never acted a
disloyal part in all their lives, whilst his own political conscience
never seemed to trouble him when he was flagrantly and foully defying
that very principle of unity which he had pledged himself to maintain
and uphold "in or out of Parliament."

The National Convention was followed by an event which might easily
have been made a turning point in Ireland's good fortune had it been
properly availed of. Lord Dunraven and his landlord Conciliation
Committee met the day after the Land Convention and resolved to
support sixteen out of the seventeen Nationalist amendments. They
furthermore sent a message to Mr Redmond offering to co-operate
actively with the members of the Irish Party throughout the Committee
stage of the Wyndham Bill. Every consideration of national policy and
prudence would seem to urge the acceptance of this generous offer. It
would, if accepted, be the outward and visible sign of that new spirit
of grace that had entered into Irish relations with the foregathering
of the Land Conference. But fear of what Mr Dillon and the
_Freeman_ might do if this open association with a landlord--even
if a friendly landlord--interest took place apparently operated on Mr
Redmond's judgment. Although urged by Mr O'Brien, who made the utmost
allowance for the leader's difficulties, to accept the offer of Lord
Dunraven and his friends for continued co-operation, Mr Redmond
temporised, and the opportunity passed into the limbo of golden
possibilities gone wrong.

When Mr Dillon, in pursuance of his wire to Mr Davitt, returned from
his holiday, he proceeded to make good the threat to be "on the track
of Redmond and O'Brien." He made himself as troublesome as he could
during the Committee stage of the Bill and did his utmost to force its
rejection. He sought to commit the Party to a policy which must have
meant the defeat or withdrawal of the measure. He made vicious
personal attacks upon Lord Dunraven. He did everything in his power to
delay and frustrate the passage of the Bill in Committee. And the most
generous construction that can be placed upon his actions is that he
did all this in support of the theory, which he is known to have
consistently held, that Home Rule should precede the settlement of the
Land Question, or any other Irish question. Notwithstanding Mr
Dillon's criticisms, not then well understood either in the Party or
the country, the Bill at length emerged triumphantly from its ordeal,
with the good will of all parties in Parliament. It should have
created--and it would, if it had only been given a fair chance--a new
heaven and a new earth in Ireland. As far as could be prognosticated
all the omens were favourable. Even the atmosphere of administration,
so important a matter where any Irish Act is concerned, was of the
most auspicious kind. The Lord-Lieutenant was Lord Dudley, who was
immensely popular in Ireland, and who had made public proclamation of
his desire that "Ireland should be governed in accordance with Irish
ideas." Two out of the three Estates Commissioners, in whose hands the
actual administration of the Act lay, were men of whose absolute
impartiality the Nationalist opinion of the country was assured. Sir
Antony MacDonnell was the power in Dublin Castle, and not much likely
to be intimidated by the permanent gang there. All that was required
was that the Irish Party and the United Irish League should agree upon
a broad-based policy for combining the various classes affected to
extract the best possible advantage from the provisions of the Act. A
meeting of the National Directory was summoned to formulate such a
policy, but shortly before it was held Mr Dillon went down to Swinford
and, from the board-room of the workhouse there, definitely raised the
standard of revolt against the new Land Act. Nothing could be said
against his action if he had come out from the Party and fulminated
against its authority, but to remain a member of the Party and then to
indict its conduct of the nation's business was, to put it mildly,
indefensible. He denounced the new spirit of conciliation that had
been so fast gaining ground, attacked the landlords, who had proved
themselves friendly to a settlement, in rather ferocious language, and
spoke in violent terms of those who would "in a moment of weakness
mortgage the future of Ireland to an intolerable extent." Clearly Mr
Dillon intended carrying out his threat of "taking the field" against
Mr Redmond and Mr O'Brien and of damning the consequences. But the
country was not yet "rattled" into disaffection by Mr Dillon's
melancholy vaticinations and rather vulgar appeals to the baser
passions of greed and covetousness which are perhaps more firmly
rooted in the peasant than in any other class.

The National Directory, unintimidated by Mr Dillon's pronouncement, met
and calmly proceeded to formulate plans for the better working of the
Purchase Act. A clear and definite plan of campaign was outlined for the
testing of the Act. Mr O'Brien was also in favour of handling the
disaffection of Mr Dillon and the _Freeman_ in straightforward manner
and of pointing out to them their duty of loyally supporting the
decisions of the Party and of the League. Mr Redmond shrank from
decisive action. It was part of the weakness of his estimable character
that he always favoured "the easier way." He thought that when the
Directory spoke out the recalcitrant elements would subside. Little did
he understand the malignant temper of the powerful group who, with the
aid of the supposedly national organ, were determined to kill the
operations of the Purchase Act and to destroy the policy of Conciliation
which had promised such splendid fruit in other directions. Mr Dillon
went to Swinford again and he and his associates did everything in their
power to stir up a national panic and to spread the impression that the
Purchase Act was a public calamity, "a landlord swindle," and that it
would lead straight to national bankruptcy.

Even yet those who sought the wreck and ruin of land purchase might be
met with and fought outright if the announcement had not appeared in
the _Freeman_ that Mr Redmond had sold his Wexford estate at
"24-1/2 years' purchase," or over two years' purchase higher in the
case of second-term rents and four and a half years' purchase in the
case of first-term rents than the prices which the National Directory
had a few weeks previously resolved to fight for, with all the force
of the tenants' organisation as a fair standard. True enough Mr
Redmond was able to plead later that these were not the terms finally
agreed upon between his tenants and himself, and beyond all question
he made no profit out of the transaction. Where the mischief lay was
in the original publication, which gave a headline to the landlords
all over the country and, what was far more regrettable from the
purely national standpoint, irretrievably tied the hands of Mr Redmond
so far as making any heroic stand against Mr Dillon and his
fellow-conspirators was concerned. Thus the country drifted along,
bereft of firm leadership or strong guidance. Mr O'Brien had to hold
his hand whilst "the determined campaigners" were more boldly and
defiantly inveighing against the declared and adopted national policy
and trampling upon every principle of Party discipline and loyalty.
The situation might have been saved if Mr Redmond had taken his
courage in both his hands, summoned the Party together and received
from it an authoritative declaration defining anew the National policy
and the danger that attended it from those who had set out recklessly
to destroy it; or if he sought an opportunity for publicly recalling
the country to its duty and its allegiance to himself and to the Party
whose chosen leader he was. Mr Redmond was fully alive to the danger,
but he hesitated about taking that bold action which could alone bring
the recalcitrants to heel. He was afraid of doing anything which might
provoke a fresh "split." Later he delivered himself of the
unstatesmanlike and unworthy apophthegm: "Better be united in support
of a short-sighted and foolish policy than divided in support of a
far-sighted and wise one." This was the fatuous attitude which led him
down the steep declivity that ended so tragically for him and his
reputation. In those fateful days, when so much was in the balance for
the future of Ireland, Mr O'Brien pressed his views earnestly upon Mr
Redmond that unless he exercised his authority, and that of the Party
and the Directory, it would be impossible for them to persevere in
their existing programme, and that the only alternative left for him
would be to retire and leave those who had opposed the policy of
Conciliation a free stage for any more heroic projects they might
contemplate. Mr Redmond still remained indecisive and Mr
O'Brien--whether wisely or unwisely will always remain a debatable
point with his friends--quietly quitted the stage, resigning his seat
in Parliament, withdrawing from the Directory of the United Irish
League, and ceasing publication of his weekly newspaper on the ground,
as he says himself, that "the authorised national policy having been
made unworkable, nothing remained, in order to save the country from
dissension, except to leave its wreckers an absolutely free field for
any alternative policy of their own."

It is no exaggeration to say that the country was thrown into a state
of stupefaction by Mr O'Brien's retirement. It did not know the reason
of it. Very few members of the Party did. I was then a member of
it--perhaps a little on the outer fringe, but still an ordinarily
intelligent member--and I was not aware of the underground factors and
forces which had caused this thunderbolt out of the blue, as it were.
Needless to say, the country was in a state of more abysmal ignorance
still, and it is questionable whether outside of Munster, owing to a
scandalous Press boycott of Mr O'Brien's speeches for many years
afterwards, the masses of the people ever had an understanding of the
motives which impelled him "to stand down and out" when he was
undoubtedly supreme in the Party and in the United Irish League and
when he might easily have overborne "the determined campaigners" if he
had only knit the issue with them in a fair and square fight. This,
however, was the thing of all others he wished to avoid. Perhaps if he
could have foreseen how barren in any alternative policy his sapient
critics were to be he might have acted otherwise, but the credit is
due to him of making dissension impossible by leaving no second party
to the quarrel.

Speaking at Limerick a few days after his retirement, Mr Redmond
avowed that Mr O'Brien's principles were his own, and added these
memorable words: "But for Mr William O'Brien there would have been no
Land Conference and no Land Act." Every effort was made to induce Mr
O'Brien to withdraw his resignation. A delegation of the leading
citizens of Cork travelled all the way to Mayo to entreat him to
reconsider his decision. To them he said: "There is not the smallest
danger of any split either in the Party, or in the League, or in the
country. There will be a perfectly free field for the development of
any alternative policy; and I will not use my retirement in any way
whatever to criticise or obstruct; neither, I am certain, will anybody
in the country who has any regard for my wishes."

But having got all they wanted, "the determined campaigners"
mysteriously abandoned their determined campaign. Mr Dillon's health
again required that he should bask 'neath the sunny southern skies of
Italy, whilst Mr Davitt betook himself to the United States, without
either of them making a single speech or publishing a single
suggestion to the tenants how they were to guard themselves against
the "inflated prices" and the national insolvency they had been
threatening them with. Having destroyed the plans of the National
Directory for testing the Purchase Act they had no guidance of their
own to offer. The tenants were left leaderless, to make their own
bargains as best they could, with the inevitable result that the
landlords, thanks to "the determined campaigners," were able to force
up prices two years above the standard which the Directory of the
League had decided to stand out and fight for.

It used to be said of Daniel O'Connell that whenever _The Times_
praised him he subjected himself to an examination of conscience to
find out wherein he had offended as against Ireland. Likewise one
would have supposed that when Mr Dillon found himself patted on the
back by the extreme Orange gang he might have asked himself: "Wherein
am I wrong to have earned the plaudits of these people?" For if Mr
Dillon was rabid in his opposition to the policy of Conciliation the
Ulster Orangemen were ferocious in their denunciation of it, Mr Moore,
K.C., referred to it as "the cowardly, rotten, and sickening policy of
Conciliation." Small wonder that the Orange extremists should have
dreaded this policy, since it had already been the means of creating
in the North an Independent Orange Order, who unhesitatingly declared
as the first article of their creed that they were "Irishmen first of
all," and who had an honest and enthusiastic spokesman in the House of
Commons in the person of Mr Thomas Sloane, and an able and, indeed, a
brilliant leader in Ireland in Mr Lindsay Crawford. But so it
was--every advance towards national reconciliation and mutual
understanding was opposed by those two divergent forces as if they had
a common interest in defeating it.

Mr O'Brien having retired from Cork, the vacancy should, in the
ordinary course, have been filled in the course of a few weeks. But
the Nationalists of "the City by the Lee" made it clear that they
wanted no other representative than Mr O'Brien, and they forbade the
issue of a writ for a new election. And so there was the extraordinary
spectacle of a people who voluntarily disfranchised themselves rather
than give up the last hope of a policy of National Conciliation in
which they descried a Home Rule settlement by Consent as surely as the
abolition of landlordism already decreed. As an example of loyalty and
personal devotion, as well as of patriotic foresight, it would be
difficult to parallel it. Towards the close of the session of 1904 Mr
Jasper Tully, a more or less free lance member of the Party, took it
upon himself to play them the trick of moving the writ for a new
election. And the Nationalists of Cork knew their own business so well
that, without a line of communication with Mr O'Brien, they had him
nominated and re-elected without anybody dreaming that anything else
was humanly possible. There were no conditions attaching to Mr
O'Brien's re-election. He was free to rejoin the Irish Party if it
should resume its position of twelve months ago or to remain out of it
if a policy of mere destruction were persisted in. He was re-elected
because the people of Cork had the most absolute confidence in his
integrity, good faith and political judgment, and because they were
convinced that his return to public life represented the only hope of
the resumption of the great policy in which their confidence never for
a moment wavered.

Within a week of Mr O'Brien's re-election an event took place which once
again made it possible for him to take up the threads of his policy
where he had surrendered them. The landlords' Conference Committee, to
the number of three hundred of the leading Irish nobles and country
gentlemen, met in Dublin and resolved themselves into a new Association,
under Lord Dunraven's leadership, which was named the Irish Reform
Association. It immediately issued a manifesto proclaiming "a policy of
conciliation, of good will and of reform," by means of "a union of all
moderate and progressive opinion irrespective of creed or class
animosities," with the object of "the devolution to Ireland of a large
measure of self-government" without disturbing the Parliamentary Union
between Great Britain and Ireland.

Within three days of the publication of the manifesto Mr Redmond, who
was on a mission to the States pleading for Irish-American support,
cabled: "The announcement [of the Irish Reform Association] is of the
utmost importance. It is simply a declaration for Home Rule and is quite
a wonderful thing. With these men with us Home Rule may come at any
moment." It is known that the idea of the Irish Reform Association had
been talked over between Mr Wyndham, Lord Dunraven and Sir Antony
MacDonnell, but it is probable that it would never have emerged into the
concrete if the Cork election had not opened up the prospect of a fair
and sympathetic national hearing for a project of self-government, now
advocated for the first time by a body of Unionist Irishmen. Mr
Redmond's fervid message from America also was as plain a welcome to the
new movement for genuine national unity as words could express. But "the
fly was in the ointment nevertheless."



                               CHAPTER XI

               THE MOVEMENT FOR DEVOLUTION AND ITS DEFEAT


The vital declaration of the objects of the Irish Reform Association
was contained in the following passage:--

"While firmly maintaining that the Parliamentary Union between Great
Britain and Ireland is essential to the political stability of the
Empire and to the prosperity of the two islands, we believe that such
a Union is compatible with the devolution to Ireland of a larger
measure of self-government than she now possesses. We consider that
this devolution, while avoiding matters of Imperial concern and
subjects of common interest to the kingdom as a whole, would be
beneficial to Ireland and would relieve the Imperial Parliament of a
mass of business with which it cannot now deal satisfactorily. In
particular we consider the present system of financial administration
to be wasteful and inappropriate to the needs of the country."

And then the manifesto proceeded to enumerate various questions of
national reform "for whose solution we earnestly invite the
co-operation of all Irishmen who have the highest interests of their
country at heart."

The enemies of Home Rule had no misconceptions either as to the purpose,
scope or object of the Reform Association. They saw at once how
absolutely it menaced their position--how completely it embodied in
substance the main principle of the constitutional movement since the
days of Parnell--namely, the control of purely Irish affairs by an Irish
assembly subject to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. From
debates which followed in the House of Lords (17th February 1905) it
became clear that the new movement had no sinister origin--that it was
honestly conceived and honestly intended for Ireland's national
advantage. But the Irish, whether of North or South, are a people to
whom suspiciousness in politics is a sort of second nature. It is the
inheritance of centuries of betrayals, treacheries and
duplicities--broken treaties, crude diplomacies and shattered faiths.
And thus we had a Unionist Attorney-General (now Lord Atkinson) asking
"whether the Devolution scheme is not the price secretly arranged to be
paid for Nationalist acquiescence in the settlement of the Land Question
on gracious terms"; and _The Times_ declaring (1st September 1904):
"What the Dunraven Devolution policy amounts to is nothing more nor less
than the revival in a slightly weakened and thinly disguised form of Mr
Gladstone's fatal enterprise of 1886"; whilst on the other hand those
Irish Nationalists who followed Mr Dillon's lead attacked the new
movement with a ferocity that was as stupid as it was criminal. For at
least it did not require any unusual degree of political intelligence to
postulate that if _The Times_, Sir Edward Carson, _The Northern Whig_
and other Unionist and Orange bravoes and journals were denouncing the
Devolution proposals as "worse than Home Rule," Irish Nationalists
should have long hesitated before they joined them in their campaign of
destruction and became the abject tools of their insensate hate. Sir
Edward Carson wrote that, much as he detested the former proposals of
Home Rule, he preferred them to "the insidious scheme put forward by the
so-called Reform Association." So incorrigibly foolish were the attacks
of Mr Dillon and his friends on the Reform Association that Lord
Rathmore was able to say in the House of Lords: "Not only did the
Unionist Party in Ireland denounce the Dunraven scheme as worse than the
Home Rule of Mr Gladstone, but their language was mild in comparison to
the language of contempt which a great many of the Irish Nationalist
patriots showered upon the proposals of the noble earl."

It is the mournful tragedy of all this period that a certain section
of Nationalist opinion should have seen in every advance towards a
policy of conciliation, good will and understanding between brother
Irishmen, some deep and sinister conspiracy against the National
Cause, and in this unaccountable belief should have allowed themselves
to become the dupes and to play the game of the bitterest enemies of
Irish freedom. But so it was, to the bitter sorrow of Ireland; and
many a blood-stained chapter has been written because of it. Whether a
fatal blindness or an insatiate personal rancour dictated this
incomprehensible policy Providence alone knows, but oceans of woe, and
misery and malediction have flowed from it as surely as that the sun
is in the heavens.

After Mr O'Brien's retirement, as I have already remarked, the country
was left without a policy or active national guidance. The leaders of
the revolt against the authorised policy of the nation went abroad
"for the benefit of their health." (What a lot of humbug this
particular phrase covers in political affairs only the initiated are
aware of!) No sooner was the Cork election announced than Mr Dillon
returned from his holiday, ready "to take the field" against the Irish
Reform Association and anyone who dared to show it toleration or
regard. He declared in a speech at Sligo that its one object was "to
break national unity in Ireland and to block the advance of the
Nationalist Cause," and he went on to deliver this definite threat:
"Now I say that any attempt such as was made the other day in the city
of Cork to force on the branches of the national organisation, or on
the National Directory itself, any vote of confidence in Lord Dunraven
or any declaration of satisfaction at the foundation of this
Association would tear the ranks of the Nationalists of Ireland to
pieces."

Note Mr Dillon's extreme zeal for national unity--the man who, less
than twelve months before, had set himself at the head of "a
determined campaign to defy the decisions of the Irish Party, the
National Directory and the United Irish League," and who did not in
the least scruple whether or not he "would tear the ranks of the
Nationalists of Ireland to pieces" in the gratification of his
purpose! The "attempt made in the city of Cork" which called forth Mr
Dillon's thunders was a resolution of the Cork branch of the United
Irish League which hailed with sympathy the establishment of the Irish
Reform Association as proof of the continuance of the spirit of
conciliation "among those classes of our countrymen who have hitherto
held aloof from us"--a spirit which had already led to such happy
results in the abolition of landlordism "by common consent," and which
was capable of "still wider and more blessed results in the direction
of a National Parliament of our own." The resolution also expressed
gratification "at the statesmanlike spirit in which Mr Redmond has
greeted the establishment of the new Association." It will be observed
that there was here a clear line of demarcation. Mr O'Brien and his
friends wanted, in moderate and guarded language, without in any way
binding themselves "to the particular views set forth in the programme
of the Irish Reform Association," to give a message of encouragement
to a body of Irish Unionists, who, as Sir Edward Carson, _The
Times_ and every other enemy of Home Rule declared, had become
converts to the National demand for self-government and who looked
likely to bring the bulk of the Protestant minority in Ireland with
them. Mr Dillon and those who thought with him savagely repelled this
movement towards a national unity which would embrace all classes and
creeds to the forgetfulness of past wrongs, animosities and deep
divisions. It seemed to have got into their minds that the appearance
of the Irish Reform Association covered some occult plot between Lord
Dunraven, Mr Wyndham, Sir Antony MacDonnell and Mr O'Brien. Mr Davitt
declared that "No party or leader can consent to accept the Dunraven
substitute without betraying a national trust." Others of lesser note
denounced the new movement and its authors with every circumstance of
insult and used language of a coarseness that deserves the severest
condemnation.

Mr Joseph Devlin, who had succeeded Mr John O'Donnell as Secretary of
the United Irish League, now began to be a rather considerable figure
in Irish politics on the Dillonite side. He told his constituents in
North Kilkenny that they were not going to seek "the co-operation of a
few aristocratic nobodies," and he, quite unjustly, as I conceive,
attributed to Lord Dunraven and his friends a desire to weaken the
national demand.

During this time the Government had given no sign that the Devolution
movement might not find favour in their sight. Had its main objects
met with a more cordial reception from the arbiters of the national
policy it is more than probable that the Unionist Government would
have stood sponsor for a large and generous instalment of
self-government which would have received the joyous assent of the
Liberal Party and passed through both Houses of Parliament with the
acclamations of everybody. In his first speech at Cork after his
election Mr O'Brien sought to rouse the country to a real perception
of the momentous issues that were at stake. He pointed out that the
proposals of the Reform Association were only "mere preliminary
materials for discussion and negotiation and that they are rather
addressed towards the removal of the prejudices of Unionists than put
forward as a final and unalterable answer to our national demand." And
then he went on to say: "Lord Dunraven and his friends may be all that
is diabolical, but at least they are not such born idiots as to expect
us to surrender our own organisation, or, as it has been absurdly put,
to coalesce with the new Association on such a programme." As a matter
of fact, Lord Dunraven had, in the most outspoken manner, stated that
he expected nothing from the Nationalists except friendly toleration
and fair play, whilst he and those associated with him were engaged in
the hard task of conquering the mass of racial prejudice and sectarian
bigotry that had been for so long arrayed against the National claim.

The efforts to induce in the intransigeant section of the Party a
spirit of sweet reasonableness were, however, foredoomed to failure.
Mr Dillon declined to address a meeting at Limerick, specially
summoned to establish a concordat between the Irish leaders. Mr
Redmond and Mr O'Brien accepted the invitation, and the former made it
clear that he still regarded the Land Conference policy as the policy
of the nation. He said: "It has been stated in some newspapers of our
enemies that the Land Conference agreement, which was endorsed by the
Irish Party, endorsed by the Directory of the League and endorsed by
the National Convention and accepted by the people, has been in some
way repudiated recently by us. I deny that altogether.... I speak
to-day only for the people and, so far as the people are concerned, I
say that the agreement, from the day it was entered upon down to this
moment, has never been repudiated by anybody entitled to speak in
their name."

Had the spirit of the Limerick meeting and the unity which it
symbolised been allowed to prevail, all might yet have been well and
the national platform might have been broadened out so that all men of
good will who wished to labour for an independent and self-governed
Ireland could stand upon it. But such a consummation was not to be.
There was no arguing away the hostility of Mr Dillon, _The Freeman's
Journal_ and those others upon whom they imposed their will. Mr
Dillon could give no better proof of statesmanship or generous
sentiment than to refer to "Dunraven and his crowd" and to declare
that "Conciliation, so far as the landlords are concerned, was another
name for swindling."

From the moment Mr Wyndham had placed his Purchase Act on the Statute
Book, with the assent of all parties in England and Ireland, his hopes
were undoubtedly set on the larger and nobler ambition of linking his
name with the grant of a generous measure of self-government. The
blood of a great Irish patriot, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, coursed
through his veins, and it is not impossible that it influenced his
Irish outlook and stimulated his purpose to write his name largely on
Irish affairs. And at this time nothing was beyond his capacity or
power. He was easily the most notable figure in the Cabinet, by reason
of the towering success that had attended his effort to remove from
the arena of perennial contention a problem that had daunted and
defeated so many previous attempts at solution. In all quarters the
most glorious future was prophesied for him. His star shone most
brightly in the political firmament--and there were many in high
places who were quite willing to hitch their wagon to it. He was
immensely popular in the House and he had captured the public
imagination by his many gifts and graces of intellect and character.
He had an exquisite personality, a wonderful charm of manner, a most
handsome and distinguished presence and was a perfect courtier in an
age which knew his kind not at all. His like was not in Parliament,
nor, indeed, can I conceive his like to be elsewhere in these rougher
days, when the ancient courtesies seem to have vanished from our
public life. There can be no doubt about it that in his first
tentative approaches towards Home Rule Mr Wyndham received
encouragement from leading members of the Cabinet, including Lord
Lansdowne and Mr Balfour. Sir Antony MacDonnell had been the welcome
guest of Lord Lansdowne at his summer seat in Ireland, and the latter
made no secret of the fact that their conversation turned upon the
larger question of Irish self-government. When Lord Dunraven was
attacked in the House of Lords for his Devolution plans Lord Lansdowne
"declined to follow Lord Rathmore in the trenchant vituperation Lord
Dunraven's scheme had encountered," and he admitted that Sir Antony
MacDonnell had been in the habit of conferring with Lord Dunraven on
many occasions, with the full knowledge and approval of the Chief
Secretary, and had collaborated with him "in working out proposals for
an improved scheme of local government for Ireland."

The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Dudley, made open avowal
of his sympathies and stated repeatedly that it was his earnest wish
to see Ireland governed in accordance with Irish ideas.

It was in this friendly atmosphere that the Irish Reform Association
propounded its scheme of Devolution which Mr T.P. O'Connor (before he
came under the influence of Mr Dillon) happily described as "the Latin
for Home Rule," and which Mr Redmond welcomed in the glowing terms
already quoted. The Convention of the United Irish League of America,
representing the best Irish elements in the United States, also
proclaimed the landlord concession as embodied in the Irish Reform
Association to be "a victory unparalleled in the whole history of
moral warfare." Here was an opportunity such as Wolfe Tone, Robert
Emmet, Thomas Davis and the other honoured patriots of Ireland's love
sighed for in vain, when, with the display of a generous and forgiving
spirit on all sides, the best men of every creed and class could have
been gathered together in support of an invincible demand for the
restoration of Irish liberty. I do not know how any intelligent and
impartial student of the events of that historical cycle can fail to
visit the blame for the miscarriage of a great occasion, and the
defeat of the definite movement towards the widest national union upon
Mr Dillon and those who joined him in his "determined" and tragically
foolish campaign. As a humble participator in the activities of the
period, I dare say it is not quite possible for me to divest myself of
a certain bias, but I cannot help saying that I am confirmed in the
opinion that in addition to being the most melancholy figure in his
generation Mr John Dillon was also the most malignant in that at every
stage of his career, when decisive action had to be taken his judgment
invariably led him to take the course which brought most misfortune
upon his country and upon the hopes of its people.

Attacked on front and flank, assailed by Sir Edward Carson and his
gang and denounced by Mr Dillon and his faithful henchmen, deserted by
Mr Balfour at the moment when his support was vital, Mr Wyndham weakly
allowed himself to be badgered into disowning Home Rule, thus sealing
his doom as a statesman and as potential leader of his own party. The
secret history of this time when it is made public will disclose a
pitiful story of base intrigue and baser desertion and of a great and
chivalrous spirit stretched on the rack of Ireland's ill-starred
destiny. I do not think it is any exaggeration of the facts to say
that Wyndham was done to death, physically as well as politically, in
those evil days. Driven from office, with the ruin of all his high
hopes in shattered disorder around him, his proud soul was never able
to recover itself, and he drifted out of politics and into the greater
void without--so fine a gentleman in such utter disarray that the
angels must have wept his fall.

That Mr William O'Brien did not meet a similar fate was due only to
the fact that he was made of sterner fighting stuff--that he possessed
a more intrepid spirit and a more indomitable will. But the base
weapons of calumny and of viler innuendo were employed to injure him
in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen, to whom he had devoted, in a
manner never surely equalled or surpassed before, a life of service
and sacrifice. _The Freeman's Journal_, whilst suppressing Mr
O'Brien's speeches and arguments, threw its columns open to ruffianly
attacks which no paper knowing his record should have published. In
one of these he was charged with "unnatural services to insatiable
landlordism." He was charged by Mr Dillon and the _Freeman_ with
being actively engaged with Mr Wyndham, Sir Antony MacDonnell and Lord
Dunraven in a plot to break up the Irish Party, and to construct a new
Moderate Centre Party by selling eighteen Nationalist seats in
Parliament to Lord Dunraven and his friends, and he was further
charged with being concerned in a conspiracy having for its object the
denationalisation of the _Freeman_. There were six libels in all,
of so gross a character that Mr O'Brien, since reports of his speeches
were systematically suppressed in every newspaper outside of Munster,
was obliged to take his libellers into court and, before a jury of
their fellow-countrymen at Limerick, to convict them of uttering six
false, malicious and defamatory libels, and thus bring to the public
knowledge the guilt of his accusers. Asked what his "unnatural
services to insatiable landlordism" were, Mr O'Brien made this
memorable reply: "To abolish it! All the Irish tenants had gained by
the land agitation of the previous twenty years was a reduction of
twenty per cent. My unnatural services under the Land Conference
Agreement was to give them a reduction of _forty per cent._ more
right away and the ownership of the soil of Ireland thrown in."

Lord Dunraven on his own part took Mr Dillon publicly to task for his
misrepresentations of him. He said that Mr Dillon "mentioned him as
being more or less connected with a great variety of conspiracies and
plots and with general clandestine arrangements.... He and George
Wyndham were said to have been constantly plotting for the purpose of
driving a wedge into the midst of the Nationalist Party. Well, as far
as he was concerned, all these deals and all these conspiracies
existed only in Mr Dillon's fervid imagination." And Lord Dunraven
went on to express his sorrow that a man in Mr Dillon's position
should have taken up so unworthy a line.

Mr Dillon, when he had the opportunity of appearing before the
Limerick jury, to justify himself, if he could, never did so. And he
never expressed regret for having defamed his former friend and
colleague and for having vilified honourable men, honourably seeking
Ireland's welfare. Upon which I must content myself with saying that
history will pass its own verdict on Mr Dillon's conduct.



                               CHAPTER XII

                 THE LATER IRISH PARTY--ITS CHARACTER AND
                               COMPOSITION


To enable our readers to have a clearer understanding of all that has
gone before and all that is to follow, I think it well at this stage
to give a just impression of the Party, of its personnel, its method
of working and its general character and composition.

The Irish Party, as we know it, was originally the creation of
Parnell, and was, perhaps, his most signal achievement. It became,
under the genius of his leadership, a mighty constitutional
force--disciplined, united, efficient and vigilant. It had the merit
of knowing its own mind. It kept aloof from British Party
entanglements. It was pledged to sit, act and vote together, and its
members loyally observed the pledge both in the spirit and the letter,
and did not claim the right to place their own individual
interpretation upon it. Furthermore, it was a cardinal article of
honour that members of the Party were to seek no favours from British
Ministers, because it needs no argument to demonstrate that the Member
of Parliament who pleads for favours for himself or preferment for his
friends can possess no individual independence. He is shackled in
slavery to the Minister to whom his importunities are addressed. He is
simply a patriot on the make, despised by himself and despised by
those to whom he addresses his subservient appeals. There was no place
for such a one in Parnell's Irish Party, which embodied as nearly as
possible that perfect political cohesion which is the dream of all
great leaders. There were men of varying capacity and, no doubt, of
differing thought in Parnell's Party, but where Ireland's national
interests were concerned it was a united body, an undivided phalanx
which faced the foe. And by the very boldness and directness of
Parnell's policy, he won to his side in the country, not only all the
moral and constitutional forces making for Nationalism, but the
revolutionary forces--who yearned for an Irish Republic--as well. He
was, therefore, not only the leader of a Party; he was much more--he
was the leader of a United Irish nation. His aim was eminently sane
and practical--to obtain the largest possible measure of national
autonomy, and he did not care very much what it was called. But he
made it clear that whatever he might accept in his time and generation
was not to be the last word on the Irish Question. He fought with the
weapons that came to his hand--and he used them with incomparable
skill and judgment--with popular agitation in Ireland, with "direct
action" of a most forcible and audacious kind in Parliament. A great
leader has always the capacity for attracting capable lieutenants to
his side. We need only refer to the example of Napoleon as
overwhelming proof of this. And so out of what would ordinarily seem
humble and unpromising material Parnell brought to his banner a band
of young colleagues who have since imperishably fixed their place in
Irish history. I am not writing the life-story of the members of
Parnell's Party, but if I were it would be easy to show that most of
the colleagues who have come to any measure of greatness since were
men of no antecedent notoriety (I use the word in its better
application), with possibly one exception, and it is somewhat
remarkable that the son of John Blake Dillon, who owed perhaps not a
little to the fact that he was his father's son, should have been the
one who first showed signs of recalcitrancy against Party rule and
discipline when he inveighed against the Land Act of 1881 and betook
himself abroad for three years during the time when the national
movement was locked in bitterest conflict with the Spencer Coercionist
regime. Let it be at once conceded that Parnell's lieutenants were men
whose gifts and talents would have in any circumstances carried them
to eminent heights, but it might be said also they lost nothing from
their early association with so great a personality and from the fact
that he brought them into the gladiatorial arena, where their mental
muscles were, so to speak, trained and tested and extended in combat
with some of the finest minds of the age.

In the days when the later Irish Party had entered upon its
decrepitude some of its leaders sought to maintain a sorry unity by
shouting incessantly from the house-tops, as if it were some sacred
formula which none but the unholy or those predestined to political
damnation dare dispute: "Majority Rule." And a country which they had
reduced to the somnambulistic state by the constant reiteration of
this phrase unfortunately submitted to their quackery, and have had
grave reason to regret it ever since. Parnell had very little respect
for shams--whether they were sham phrases or sham politicians. He was
a member of Butt's Home Rule Party but he was not to be intimidated
from pursuing the course he had mapped out for himself by any foolish
taunts about his "Policy of Exasperation"; he was a flagrant sinner
against the principle of "majority rule," but time has proved him to
be a sinner who was very much in the right. Mr Dillon used to hurl
another name of anathema at our heads--the heads of those of us who
were associated with Mr O'Brien in his policy of national
reconciliation--he used to dub us "Factionists." It was not fair
fighting, nor honest warfare, nor decent politics. It was the base
weapon of a man who had no arguments of reason by which he could
overwhelm an opponent, but who snatched a bludgeon from an armoury of
certain evil associations which he knew would prevail where more
legitimate methods could not.

I entered the Party in May 1901, having defeated their official
candidate at a United Irish League Convention for the selection of a
Parliamentary candidate for Mid-Cork on the death of Dr Tanner. In
those days I was not much of a politician. My heart was with the
neglected labourer and I stood, accordingly, as a Labour candidate, my
programme being the social elevation of the masses, particularly in
the vital matters of housing, employment and wages. I was not even a
member of the United Irish League, being wholly concerned in building
up the Irish Land and Labour Association, which was mainly an
organisation for the benefit, protection and the education in social
and citizen duty of the rural workers. Mr Joseph Devlin was sent down
to the Convention to represent the Party and the League. It was sought
to exclude a considerable number of properly accredited Labour
delegates from the Convention, but after a stiff fight my friends and
myself compelled the admission of a number just barely sufficient to
secure me a majority. This was heralded as a tremendous triumph for
the Labour movement, and it spoke something for the democratic
constitution of the United Irish League, as drafted by Mr O'Brien,
that it was possible for an outsider to beat its official nominee and
thereby to become the officially adopted candidate of the League
himself. In due course I entered the portals of the Irish Party, but
though in it was, to a certain extent, not of it, in that I was more
an observer of its proceedings than an active participant in its work.
My supreme purpose in public life was to make existence tolerable for
a class who had few to espouse their claims and who were in the
deepest depths of poverty, distress and neglect. Hence, except where
Labour questions and the general interests of my constituents were
concerned, I stood more or less aloof from the active labours of the
Party. I was in the position of a looker-on and a critic, and I saw
many things that did not impress me at all too favourably.

In the years immediately following the General Election of 1900 the
Party had a splendid solidarity and a fine enthusiasm. There had been
just sufficient new blood infused into it to counteract the jealous
humours and to minimise the weariness of spirit of those older members
who had served in the halcyon days of Parnell and had gone through all
the squalidness and impotence of the years of the Split. Had the Party
been rightly handled, and led by a man of strong will and inflexible
character, it could have been made the mightiest constitutional power
for Ireland's emancipation. Unfortunately Mr John Redmond was not a
strong leader. He unquestionably possessed many of the attributes of
leadership--a dignified presence, distinguished deportment, a wide
knowledge of affairs, a magnificent mastery of the forms and rules of
the House of Commons, a noble eloquence and a sincere manner, but he
lacked the vital quality of strength of character and energetic
resolve. He was not, as Parnell was, strong enough to impose his will
on others if he found it easier to give way himself. And thus from the
very outset of his career as leader of the reunited Party he allowed
his conduct to be influenced by others--very often, let it be said,
against his own better judgment. Mr Redmond had a matchless faculty
for stating the case of Ireland in sonorous sentences, but too often
he was content to take his marching orders from those powers behind
the throne who were the real manipulators of what passed for an Irish
policy. In the shaping of this policy and in the general ordering of
affairs, the rank and file of the members had very little say--they
were hopelessly invertebrate and pusillanimous. The majority of them
were mere automatons--very honest, very patriotic, exceedingly
respectable, good, ordinary, decent and fairly intelligent Irishmen,
but as Parliamentarians their only utility consisted in their capacity
to find their way into the voting Lobby as they were ordered. To their
meek submission, and to their rather selfish fear of losing their
seats if they asserted an independent opinion, I trace many if not all
of the catastrophes and failures that overtook the Party in later
years. Needless to say, neither the country nor the other parties in
Parliament had the least understanding of the real character and
composition of the Nationalist Party. It had always a dozen or more
capable men who could dress the ranks and hold their own "on the floor
of the House" as against the best intellects and debating power of
either British party. Irish readiness and repartee made question time
an overwhelmingly Irish _divertissement_. Our members had a
unique faculty for bringing about spectacular scenes that read very
well in the newspapers and made the people at home think what fine
fellows they had representing them! All this might be very good
business in its way if it had any special meaning, but I could never
for the life of me see how taking the Sultanate of Morocco under our
wing could by any stretch of the imagination help forward the cause of
Ireland.

The policy of the Party, in the ultimate resort, was supposed to be
controlled by the United Irish League acting through its branches in
Convention assembled. Inasmuch as the Party derived whatever strength
it possessed in Parliament from the virility and force of the
agitation in Ireland, it was in the fitness of things that the country
should have the right of ordering the tune. When he founded the United
Irish League Mr O'Brien unquestionably intended that this should be
the case--that the country should be the master of its own fate and
that the constituencies should be in the position of exercising a
wholesome check on the conduct of their Parliamentary representatives,
who, in addition to the pledge to sit, act and vote with the Party,
also entered into an equally binding undertaking to accept neither
favour nor office from the Government. As the Party was for the
greater part made up of poor men or men of moderate means, members
received an indemnity from a special fund called "The Parliamentary
Fund," which was administered by three trustees. This fund was
specially collected each year, and in principle, if the subscriptions
came from Ireland alone, was an excellent method of making members of
the Party obey the mandate of the people, under the penalty of
forfeiting their allowance. But in practice, most of the subscriptions
were collected in America, and we had in effect the extraordinary
situation of Irish representatives being maintained in Parliament by
the moneys of their American kith and kin. And the situation after
1903 was rendered the more ludicrous by reason of the fact that the
Party could never have dragged along its existence if it had been
dependent upon Irish contributions to its funds. These were largely
withdrawn because the Party was delinquent in adhering to the policy
of Conciliation. It is a phenomenon worth remarking that the Irish
people never failed to contribute generously what Parnell had termed
"the sinews of war" so long as the members of the Party deserved it of
them. But when symptoms of demoralisation set in, or when contentions
distracted their energies, the people cut off the supplies. This would
undoubtedly have been an effective means of control in normal
circumstances, but when the Party, of its own volition, was able to
send "missions" to America and Australia to collect funds, it was no
longer dependent on the popular will, as expressed in terms of
material support, and it became the masters of the people instead of
their servants.

Not that I want for one moment unnecessarily to disparage the
personnel of the Party--it was probably the best that Ireland could
have got in the circumstances--nor do I seek to diminish its
undoubtedly great services to Ireland in the days of Parnell and
during the period that it loyally adopted the policy of Conciliation.
But what I do deplore is that a few men in the Party--not more than
three or four all told--were able, by getting control of "the
machine," to destroy the fairest chance that Ireland ever had of
gaining a large measure of self-government. Knowing all that happened
within the Party in the years of which I am writing, knowing the
methods that were employed, rather unscrupulously and with every
circumstance of pettiness, to bear down any member who showed the
least disposition to exercise legitimately an independent
judgment--knowing how the paid organisers of the League were at once
dispatched to his constituency to intrigue against him and to work up
local enmities, I am not, and never was, surprised at the compelled
submission of the body of the members to the decrees of the secret
Cabinet who controlled policy and directed affairs with an absolute
autocracy that few dared question. One member more courageous than his
fellows, Mr Thomas O'Donnell, B.L., did come upon the platform with Mr
Wm. O'Brien at Tralee, in his own constituency and had the manliness
to declare in favour of the policy of Conciliation, but the tragic
confession was wrung from him: "I know I shall suffer for it." And he
did!

I mention these matters to explain what would otherwise be
inexplicable--how it came to pass that a policy solemnly ratified by
the Party, by the Directory of the League, and by a National
Convention was subsequently repudiated. Whilst Mr O'Brien remained in
the Party there was no question of the allegiance of these men to
correct principle. Mr Joseph Devlin, who later was far and away the
most powerful man in the Party, had not yet "arrived." (It was the
retirement of Mr O'Brien from public life and the resignation of Mr
John O'Donnell from the secretaryship of the United Irish
League--under circumstances which Mr Devlin's admirers will scarcely
care to recall--which gave him his chance.) Mr Dillon was a more or
less negligible figure until Mr O'Brien made way for him by his
retirement. Right up to this there was only one man for the Party and
the country, and that man was William O'Brien. Let me say at once that
in those days I had no attachments and no personal predilections. John
Redmond, William O'Brien and John Dillon were all, as we say in
Ireland, "one and the same to me." If anything, because of my
Parnellite proclivities, I rather leaned to Mr Redmond's side, and his
chairmanship of the Party had certainly my most loyal adherence.
Otherwise I was positively indifferent to personalities, and to a
great extent also to policies, since I was in the Party for one
purpose, and one alone, of pushing the labourers' claims upon the
notice of the leaders and of ventilating their grievances in the House
of Commons whenever occasion offered. Furthermore, I do not think I
ever spoke to Mr O'Brien until after the Cork election in 1904, when,
convinced of the rectitude of his policy and principles, I stood upon
his platform to give such humble support as I could to the cause he
advocated, and thereafter, I am proud to say, never once turned aside,
either in thought or action, from the thorny and difficult path I had
chosen to travel. I take no credit to myself for having taken my stand
on behalf of Mr O'Brien's policy. I knew him in all essential things,
both then and thereafter, to be absolutely in the right. I was aware
that, had he so minded, in 1903, when he was easily the most powerful
man in the Party and the most popular in Ireland, he could have
smashed at one onslaught the conspiracy of "the determined
campaigners" and driven its authors to a well-deserved doom. But the
mistake he made then, as mistake I believe it to be, was that he left
the field to those men, who had no alternative policy of their own to
offer to the country, and who, instead of consolidating the national
organisation for the assertion of Irish right, consolidated it rather
in the interests of their own power and personal position. Thus it
happened that a movement conceived and intended as the adequate
expression of the people's will became, in the course of a short
twelve months, everywhere outside of Munster, a mere machine for
registering the decrees of Mr Dillon and his co-conspirators.

I do not think, if Mr T.M. Healy had been a member of the Party then,
that Mr Dillon would have been able so successfully to entrench
himself in power as he did. Mr Healy knew Mr Dillon inside out and he
had little respect for his qualities. He knew him to be vain,
intractable, small-minded and abnormally ambitious of power. Parnell
once said of him: "Dillon is as vain as a peacock and as jealous as a
schoolgirl." And when he was not included as a member of the Land
Conference I am sure it does him no wrong to say that he made up his
mind that somebody should suffer for the affront put upon him. It is
ever thus. Even the greatest men are human, with human emotions,
feelings, likes and dislikes. And though it is far from my intention
to robe Mr Dillon in any garment of greatness, he was, unfortunately,
put in a position to do irreparable mischief to great principles, as I
conceive, through motives of petty spite. Even if Mr Dillon had stood
alone I do not think he would have counted for very much, supported
though he was by the suave personality of Mr T.P. O'Connor. But he had
won to his side, in the person of Mr Devlin, one of great organising
gifts and considerable eloquence, who had now obtained control of the
United Irish League and all its machinery and who knew how to
manipulate it as no other living person could. Without Mr Devlin's
uncanny genius for organisation Mr Dillon's idiosyncrasies could have
been easily combated. Mr Dillon's diatribes against "the black-blooded
Cromwellians" at a time when the best of the landlord class were
steadily veering in the Nationalist direction, I could never
understand. Mr Devlin's detestation of the implacable spirit of Ulster
Orangemen was a far more comprehensible feeling, but the years have
shown only too thoroughly that both passions, and the pursuit of them,
have had the most disastrous consequences.

Even when Mr Dillon was most powerful in the Party there were many men
in it, to my knowledge, who secretly sympathised with the policy of
Conciliation but who had not sufficient moral courage to come out in
the open in support of it, knowing that if they did they would be
marked down for destruction at the next General Election. It is
evident that from a Party thus dominated and dragooned, and an
organisation which had its resolutions manufactured for it in the
League offices in Dublin, no good fruit could come.

Mr Redmond's position was pitiful in the extreme. Neither his judgment
nor his sense of statesmanship could approve the departure which Mr
Dillon and his accomplices had initiated. He avowed again and again,
publicly to the country and privately in the Party, that he was in
entire agreement with Mr O'Brien up to the date of his resignation;
and it is as morally certain as anything can be in this world that if
he had not crippled his initiative by sanctioning, under his own hand,
the announcement of the 24-1/2 years' purchase terms for his estate,
he would never have allowed himself to be associated with what he
rather wearily and shamefacedly described as "a short-sighted and
unwise policy."

From the time that Mr Dillon and his friends got control of the Party
and the national organisation the country was never allowed to
exercise an independent judgment of its own, for the simple reason
that the facts were carefully kept from its knowledge by a Press
boycott unparalleled in the history of any other nation. Under this
tyranny all independence and honest conviction were sapped. And with a
brutal irony, which must compel a certain amazed admiration on the
part of the disinterested inquirer after truth, the men who set the
Party pledge at defiance, who set themselves to destroy Party unity
and to scoff at majority rule, were the men who at a later date, when
it suited their malevolent purpose, used the catch-cries of "Unity,"
"Majority Rule" and "Factionists" with all their evil memories of the
nine years of the Split to intimidate the people from listening to the
arguments and reasonings of Mr O'Brien and his friends. And when their
kept Press and their subservient Parliamentarians did not prevail,
they did not hesitate to use hired revolver gangs and to employ paid
emissaries to prevent the gospel of Conciliation from being preached
to the people.

With the entrance of false principles and the employment of pernicious
and demoralising influences the _moral_ of the Party began to be
at first vitiated and then utterly destroyed. It lost its independent
character and cohesive force. To a certain extent it became a party of
petty tale-bearers. The men most in favour with the secret Cabinet
were the men who kept them informed of the sayings and doings of their
fellows.

The members of lesser note simply dare not be seen speaking to anyone
suspected of a friendly feeling to Mr O'Brien or his policy. Woe to
them if they were! In the expressive phrase of Mr O'Donnell, they were
"made to suffer for it."

The proud independence and incorruptibility which the Party boasted in
Parnell's day of power now also began to give way. With the accession
of the Liberal Party to office in 1906 the Nationalist members began
to beseech favours. It may be it was only in the first instance that
they sought J.P.-ships for their leading friends and supporters in
their several constituencies. But we all know how the temptation of
patronage grows: it is so fine a thing to be able to do "a good turn"
for one's friend or neighbour by merely inditing a letter to some
condescending Minister. And now, particularly since there was no
censure to be dreaded, it became one of the ordinary functions of the
Nationalist M.P.'s life. It was no secret that prominent leaders were
exercising a similar privilege, and the rank and file saw no reason
why they should not imitate so seductive an example.

I once heard a keen student of personalities in Parliament observe
that Mr Dillon and Mr T.P. O'Connor always appeared to him to be
sounder and more sincere Liberals than they were Irish Nationalists. I
agree, and no doubt much of Ireland's later misfortunes sprang from
this circumstance. I confess I have always thought of Mr Dillon, in my
own mind, as an English Radical first and an Irish Nationalist
afterwards. I believe he was temperamentally incapable of adopting
Parnell's position of independence of either British Party and of
supporting only that Party which undertook to do most for Ireland.
Then, again, Mr Dillon was more of an Internationalist than a
Nationalist. He delighted in mixing himself up in foreign affairs, and
I am much mistaken if he did not take more pride in being regarded as
an authority on the Egyptian rather than on the Irish question. Mr
T.P. O'Connor was so long out of Ireland, and had so completely lost
touch with genuine Irish opinion that much might be forgiven to him.
His ties with Liberalism were the outgrowth of years spent in
connection with the Liberal Press of London and of social associations
which had their natural and inevitable influence on his political
actions.

With Messrs Dillon and O'Connor and--at this time, probably, in a more
secondary sense--Mr Devlin, in control of the Party, it can be well
understood how easy was the descent from an independence of all
parties to an alliance with one. I believe that in all these things Mr
Redmond's judgment was overborne by his more resolute colleagues. I
believe also, as I have already said, that the weakness of his
position was engendered by the unforgettable mistake he made in regard
to the sale of his estate--that he felt this was held over him as a
sword of Damocles, and that he was never able to get away from its
haunting shadow sufficiently to assert his own authority in the manner
of an independent and resolute leader.

I am at pains to set forth these matters to justify the living and, in
some measure, to absolve the dead. I want to place the responsibility
for grievous failures and criminal blunders on the right shoulders. I
seek to make it plain how the country was bamboozled and betrayed by
Party machinations such as have not had their parallel in any other
period of Irish history. I state nothing in malice or for any ulterior
motive, since I have none. But I think it just and right that the
chief events of the past twenty years should be set forth in their
true character so that impartial inquirers may know to what causes can
be traced the overwhelming tragedies of recent times.



                               CHAPTER XIII

                  A TALE OF BAD LEADERSHIP AND BAD FAITH


It became a habit of the Irish Party, in its more decadent days, to
spout out long litanies of its achievements and to claim credit, as a
sort of hereditament no doubt, for the reforms won under the
leadership of Parnell. It was, when one comes to analyse it, a sorry
method of appealing for public confidence--a sort of apology for
present failures on the score of past successes. It was as if they
said: "We may not be doing very well now, but think of what we did and
trust us." And the time actually arrived when "Trust us" was the
leading watchword of Mr Redmond and his Party. How little they
deserved that trust in regard to some important concerns I will
proceed to explain. I have shown how they dished Devolution and drove
Mr Wyndham from office when he was feeling his way towards the
concession of Home Rule--or equivalent proposals under another name;
and how they thus destroyed in their generation the last hope of a
settlement by Consent of the Irish Question--although a settlement
along these lines was what Gladstone most desired. Writing to Mr
Balfour, so long ago as 20th December 1885, he thus expressed himself:

"On reflection I think what I said to you in our conversation at Eaton
may have amounted to the conveyance of a hope that the Government
would take a strong and early decision on the Irish Question. This
being so, I wish, under the very peculiar circumstances of the case,
to go a step further and say that I think it will be a public calamity
if this great subject should fall into the lines of Party conflict. I
feel sure that the question can only be dealt with by a Government,
and I desire especially on grounds of public policy that it should be
dealt with by the present Government. If, therefore, they bring in a
proposal after settling the whole question of the future government of
Ireland my desire will be, reserving, of course, necessary freedom, to
treat it in the same spirit in which I have endeavoured to proceed in
respect to Afghanistan and with respect to the Balkan Peninsula."

To this statesmanlike offer Mr Balfour immediately replied:

"I have had as yet no opportunity of showing your letter to Lord
Salisbury or of consulting him as to its contents, but I am sure he
will receive without any surprise the statement of your earnest hope
that the Irish Question should not fall into the lines of Party
conflict. If the ingenuity of any Ministry is sufficient to devise
some adequate and lasting remedy for the chronic ills of Ireland, I am
certain it will be the wish of the leaders of the Opposition, to
whatever side they may belong, to treat the question as a national and
not as a Party one."

And not less clear or emphatic were the views of Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, spoken on 23rd December 1885, as to the
feasibility of settling the Irish problem by Consent:

"On one point I may state my views with tolerable clearness. In my
opinion the best plan of dealing with the Irish Question would be for
the leaders of the two great parties to confer together for the
purpose of ascertaining whether some _modus vivendi_ could not be
arrived at by which the matter would be raised out of the area of
party strife."

It will thus be seen that at a very early stage indeed of the
discussions on Home Rule, distinguished statesmen were agreed that the
ideal way of settling the Irish Question was by an arrangement or
understanding between the two great British parties--otherwise by
those methods of Conference, Conciliation and Consent which Mr William
O'Brien and Lord Dunraven were so violently and irrationally assailed
by Mr Dillon and his supporters for advocating. The great land pact
was arranged by those methods of common agreement between all parties
in Parliament--it could never have been reached otherwise. And, as
these pages will conclusively show, the "factionism" of Mr O'Brien and
those associated with him consisted in pressing a settlement by
Conference methods consistently on the notice of the leaders of all
parties. But Mr Wyndham was treated by the Dillonite section as "a
prisoner in a condemned cell"--to use their own elegant
metaphor--because he showed a disposition to secure a settlement of
the Irish difficulty on a non-party basis. He was ruthlessly exiled
from office by methods which confer no credit on their authors, and
the Unionist Party retired at the close of the year 1905 with nothing
accomplished on the Home Rule issue.

When the Liberals came back to power with an irresistible majority
Ireland rang from end to end with glad promises of a great, a glorious
and a golden future. The Liberals had the reins of government in their
hands, and the tears were going to be wiped from the face of dark
Rosaleen. Never again was she to know the bitterness of sorrow or that
hope of freedom so long deferred which maketh the heart sick. Mr T.P.
O'Connor wrote to his American news agency that Home Rule was coming
at a "not far distant date." It was a fair hope, but the men who
gambled on it did not take the House of Lords sufficiently into their
calculations. And they forgot also that Home Rule was not a concrete
and definite issue before the country at the General Election. The
Liberal Party in 1906 had no Home Rule mandate. Its leaders were
avowedly in favour of what was known as "the step-by-step" programme.
This policy was less than Lord Dunraven's scheme of Devolution, but
because it was the Liberal plan it came in for no stern denunciations
from either Mr Dillon or Mr T.P. O'Connor. Even so staunch a Home
Ruler as Mr John Morley insisted that Mr Redmond's Home Rule Amendment
to the Address should contain this important addendum: "subject to the
supreme authority of the Imperial Parliament." The men who shouted in
Ireland: "No compromise," who were clamant in their demand that there"
should be no hauling down of the flag," and who asked the country to
go "back to the old methods" (though they made it clear they were not
going to lead them if they did), showed no disinclination to have
their own private negotiations with the Liberal leaders on a much
narrower programme.

Mr T.P. O'Connor, in his _Life of Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman,
M.P._, tells us exactly what happened, in the following words:--

"The Irish Nationalists had already become restive, for, while not
openly repudiating Home Rule as an ultimate solution, several of the
friends and adherents of Lord Rosebery among the leaders of the
Liberal Party had proclaimed that they would not only not support, but
would resist any attempt to introduce a Home Rule measure in a
Parliament that was about to be elected. It was under these
circumstances that I had an interview of any length with
Campbell-Bannerman for the last time. He invited a friend and me to
breakfast with him.... This exchange of views was brief, for there was
complete agreement as to both policy and tactics.... It was shortly
after this that he made his historic speech in Stirling. That was the
speech in which he laid down the policy that while Ireland might not
expect to get at once a measure of complete Home Rule, any measure
brought in should be consistent with and leading up to a larger
policy. Such a declaration was all that the Irish Nationalist Party
could have expected at that moment and it enabled them to give their
full support at the elections to the Liberal Party."

This is a very notable statement, because it shows that the
Nationalists, who poured out their vials of vituperation upon Lord
Dunraven and the Irish Reform Association, were now eager to accept an
infinitely lesser instalment of Home Rule from their own Liberal
friends. And it also demonstrates that for a very meagre modicum of
the Irish birth-right they were willing to sacrifice the position of
Parliamentary independence, which was one of the greatest assets of
the Party, and to enter into a formal alliance with the Liberals on a
mere contingent declaration that "any measure brought in" should be
"consistent with and leading up to a larger policy." Note, there was
no guarantee, no positive statement, that a measure would be brought
in, yet Mr T.P. O'Connor tells us that this declaration was "all that
the Irish Nationalist Party could have expected," and that it enabled
them "to give their full support at the elections to the Liberal
Party." I wonder what Parnell, had he been alive, would have thought
of this offer of the Liberals and whether he would in return for it
make such an easy surrender of a nation's claims. And I wonder also
whether a paltrier bargain was ever made in the whole history of
political alliances. It does not require any special gift of vision to
divine who was "the friend" who went with Mr O'Connor to Sir H.
Campbell-Bannerman's breakfast-party and who was in "complete
agreement as to both policy and tactics." They were good Liberals both
of them, and for my own part I would find no fault with them for this,
if only they had been better Nationalists.

Mr Redmond publicly ratified the new policy--or rather, treaty, as it
now practically was--of Home Rule by instalments in a speech at
Motherwell, in which he announced his readiness to accept any
concession "which would shorten and smoothen the road to Home Rule."
But it is significant that although Mr Dillon was in complete
agreement with the Liberals "as to both policy and tactics," yet he
devoted, with a rather supercilious levity, his speeches in Ireland to
a demand for "Boer Home Rule as a minimum." This was the way in which
the country was scandalously hoodwinked as to the real relations which
existed between the Liberals and Nationalists.

Mr O'Brien had at this time gone abroad and left the stage completely
to Mr Dillon and his friends, having, however, made it clear that he
was in favour of the Council Bill and suggested certain improvements,
which the Government agreed to. His temporary withdrawal from the
scene was dictated solely by the desire to give the utmost freedom of
action to the Irish Party, seeing that they were acting in conformity
with the best national interests in the special circumstances of the
moment. He was also aware that Mr Birrell, who had now accepted office
as Chief Secretary, was particularly acceptable to the Nationalist
leaders and that they were in constant communication with him on
details of the Bill, the safety of which seemed to be assured. Indeed,
when it was introduced into Parliament, Mr Redmond spoke in
appreciation of it, reserved in statement, no doubt, as befitting a
leader who had yet to see the measure in print, but there is not a
shadow of doubt that Messrs Redmond, Dillon and O'Connor were
practically pledged to the support of the principle of the Bill before
ever it was submitted to Parliament.

When, however, they summoned a National Convention to consider the
Bill, to which they were committed by every principle of honour which
could bind self-respecting men, to the amazement of everybody not
behind the scenes, the very men who had crossed over from Westminster
to recommend the acceptance of the measure were the first to move its
rejection. A more unworthy and degrading performance it is not
possible to imagine. It was an arrant piece of cowardice on the part
of "the leaders," who failed to lead and who shamefully broke faith
with Mr Birrell and their Liberal allies. True, the Irish Council Bill
was not a very great or strikingly generous measure. It had serious
defects, but these might be remedied in Committee, and it had this
merit, at least, that it did carry out the Liberal promise of being
"consistent with and leading up to a larger policy." Its purpose,
broadly stated, was to consolidate Irish administration under the
control of an Irish Council, which would be elected on the popular
franchise. It contained no provision for a Statutory Legislative body.
It was to confine itself to the purely administrative side of
Government. The various Irish administrative departments were to be
regrouped, with a Minister (to be called Chairman) at the head of
each, who would be responsible to the elected representatives of the
people. The Council was to be provided with the full Imperial costs
(the dearest in the world) of the departments they were to administer,
and they were to receive in addition an additional yearly subsidy of
£600,000 to spend, with any savings they might effect on the
administrative side on the development of Irish resources. Finally,
this limited incursion into the field of administrative
self-government was to last only for five years. Appeals to ignorant
prejudice were long made by misquoting the title of the Irish Council
Bill as "The Irish _Councils_ Bill"--quite falsely, for one of
its main recommendations was that the Bill created _one_ national
assembly for all Ireland, including the Six Counties which the Party
subsequently ceded to Carson. Do not these proposals justify the
comment of Mr O'Brien on them?--"If the experiment had been proved to
work with the harmony of classes and the broad-mindedness of
patriotism, of which the Land Conference had set the example, the end
of the quinquennial period would have found all Ireland and all
England ready with a heart and a half for 'the larger policy.' There
would even have been advantages which no thoughtful Irish Nationalist
will ignore, in accustoming our people to habits of self-government by
a probationary period of smaller powers and of substantial premiums
upon self-restraint."

Unfortunately, in addition to having no legislative functions, Mr
Birrell's Bill contained one other proposal which damned it from the
outset with a very powerful body of Irish thought and influence--it
proposed to transfer the control of education to a Committee
preponderatingly composed of laymen. When dropping the Bill later Sir
H. Campbell-Bannerman declared: "We took what steps we could to
ascertain Irish feelings and we had good reason to believe that the
Bill would receive the most favourable reception." One would like to
know how far the leaders of the Irish Party who were taken into the
confidence of the Government regarding the provisions of the Bill
concurred in this clause. To anyone acquainted with clerical feeling
in Ireland, whether Catholic or Protestant, it should be known that
such a proposal would be utterly inadmissible. But apparently the
Government were not warned, although it is a matter of history that
the Irish Party entertained Mr Birrell to a banquet in London the
night before they went over to Ireland for the National Convention,
and it is equally well known, on the admissions of Mr Redmond, Mr
O'Connor and others, that they crossed with the express determination
to support the Irish Council Bill and in the full expectation that
they would carry it.

But they had not reckoned on Mr Devlin and on the younger priests, who
had now begun to assert themselves vigorously in politics. Mr Devlin,
in addition to being Secretary of the United Irish League, had also
obtained a position of dominating control in the Ancient Order of
Hibernians (Board of Erin section), a secret and sectarian
organisation of which I will have much to say anon. For some
inscrutable reason Mr Devlin set himself at the head of his delegates
to intrigue with the young and ardent priesthood against the Bill. Mr
Redmond, Mr T.P. O'Connor and their friends got to hear of the tempest
that was brewing when they reached Dublin. Mr Dillon, unfortunately,
was suffering from a grievous domestic bereavement at the time, and
was naturally unable to attend the Convention. The others, instead of
standing to their guns like men and courageously facing the opposition
which unexpectedly confronted them, and which was largely founded on
misunderstandings, basely ran away from all their honourable
obligations--from what they owed in good faith to the Liberal Party,
as a duty to their country, and as a matter of self-respect to their
own good name--and instead of standing by the Bill, defending it and
explaining whatever was not quite clear in its proposals, forestalled
all criticism by putting up Mr Redmond to move its rejection. A more
humiliating attitude, a more callous betrayal, a more sorry
performance the whole history of political baseness and political
ineptitude cannot produce. The feeling that swept through Ireland on
the morrow of this Convention was one of disgust and shame, yet the
people were so firmly shackled in the bonds of the Party that they
still sullenly submitted to their chains. And the worst of this bitter
business is that the shameful thing need never have occurred. If Mr
Redmond had boldly advocated the adoption of the measure instead of
moving its rejection in a state of cowardly panic, there is
incontestable evidence he would have carried the overwhelming majority
of the Convention with him.

The truth is that the members of his Party had no love for the Bill.
Sensible of their own imperfections, as many of them were, and well
aware that, whilst considered good enough by their constituents for
service at Westminster, it was quite possible they would not come up
to the standard which national duty at home would set up, they were
naturally not very enthusiastic about any measure which would threaten
their vested interests. It may appear an extraordinary statement to
make to those who do not know their Ireland very well that the members
of the Party were not the best that could be got, the best that would
be got, under other conditions to serve in a representative capacity.
But it is nevertheless true that the conditions of service at
Westminster were not such as to tempt or induce the best men to leave
their professions or their interests for seven or eight months of the
year, whereas it was and is to be hoped that when the time comes the
cream of Irish intellect, ability and character will seek the
honourable duty of building up Irish destinies in Ireland. In justice
to those who did serve at Westminster let it be, however, said that it
invariably entailed loss and sacrifice even to the very least of them,
and to very many, indeed, it meant ruined careers and broken lives.

This apart. The Irish Council Bill was lost because of bad leadership
and bad faith, and the Irish Party continued to travel stumblingly
along its pathway of disaster and disgrace.



                               CHAPTER XIV

                             LAND AND LABOUR


The fortunes of every country, when one comes seriously to reflect on
it, are to a great extent dependent on these two vital factors--Land
and Labour. In a country so circumstanced as Ireland, practically
bereft of industries and manufactures, land and labour--and more
especially the labour which is put into land--are the foundation of
its very being. They mean everything to it--whether its people be well
or ill off, whether its trade is good, its towns prosperous, its
national economy secure.

The history of Ireland, ever since the first Englishman set foot on it
with the eye of conquest, centres to a more or less degree around the
land. We know how the ancient clans tenaciously clung to their
heritage and how ruthlessly they were deprived of it by the
Plantations and the Penal Laws and by a series of confiscations, the
memory of which even still chills the blood. Conquest, confiscation,
eviction, persecution--this was the terrible story of Ireland for
seven centuries--and the past century worst of all. At the
commencement of the nineteenth century Ireland was extensively
cultivated. The land had been parcelled out amongst the people;
holdings were multiplied and tenancies for life increased amazingly
because it meant a larger rent-roll for the landlord and a great
increase in the voting power of his serfs. But there came the Corn
Laws, making cultivation unprofitable, and earlier the law of Catholic
Emancipation, withdrawing the right of voting from the forty-shilling
freeholders, and the crisis was reached when the Great Famine appeared
and was followed by the Great Clearances. The Famine lasted for three
years, the Clearances endured for over thirty. Houses were demolished,
fences levelled, the peasants swept out and the notices to quit kept
falling, as the well-known saying of Gladstone expressed it, as thick
as snowflakes. Between 1849 and 1860, according to Mulhall, 373,000
Irish families were evicted, numbering just about 2,000,000 in all. "I
do not think the records of any country, civilised or barbarian," said
Sir Robert Peel, "ever presented such scenes of horror."

Legislation became necessary to counteract the appalling evils arising
from such a state of things. It went on through the years with varying
fortune, never providing any real solution of the intolerable
relations between landlord and tenant, until the blessed Land
Conference pact was sealed and signed and the country finally
delivered from the haunting terror of landlordism. Now although the
entire population may be said in Ireland to be either directly or
indirectly dependent on the land, two classes were absolutely
dependent on it for their very livelihood--namely, the farmers and the
agricultural labourers. And through all the various agrarian
agitations they made united cause against their common enemy, the
landlord. There was also in the days of my boyhood a far friendlier
relation between the farmers and labourers than unhappily exists at
present. Their joint heritage of suffering and hardship had drawn them
together in bonds of sympathy and friendship. The farmer often shared,
in the bitterness of the winter months, something out of his own stock
of necessities with his less fortunate labourer. And before the
arrival of the Creameries the daily allowance of the gallon of
"skimmed" milk was made to almost every labourer's family in the
country by kind-hearted neighbouring farmers. In addition, in a land
where few were rich, the ancient proverb held good: "The poor always
help one another." And it is true that, in the darkest days of their
suffering, the farmers and labourers shouldered their troubles and
their sorrows in a community of sympathy, which at least lessened
their intensity. It is only with the growth of a greater independence
among either class that the old friendly bonds and relationships have
shown a loosening, and newer and more personal interests have tended
to divide them into distinctive bodies, with separate class interests
and class programmes.

As a very little boy I remember trudging my way to school with
children who knew not what the comfort of boots and stockings was on
the coldest winter's day; who shivered in insufficient rags and whose
gaunt bodies never knew any nourishment save what could be got from
"Indian meal stir-about" (a kind of weak and watery porridge made from
maize). And it was not the children of the labourers alone who endured
this bleak and starved and sunless childhood; the offspring of the
smaller struggling farmers were often as badly off--they were all the
progeny of the poor, kept poor and impoverished by landlordism. This
further bond of blood and even class relationship also bound the
farmers and labourers together--the labourers of to-day were, in
countless cases, the farmers of yesterday, whom the Great Clearances
had reduced to the lowest form of servitude and who dragged out an
existence of appalling wretchedness in sight of their former homes,
now, alas, razed to the ground. My mind carries me back to the time
when the agricultural labourer in Munster was working for four
shillings a week, and trying to rear a family on it! I vowed then that
if God ever gave me the chance to do anything for this woe-stricken
class I would strive for their betterment, according to the measure of
my opportunity. And it happened, in the mysterious workings of
Providence, that I was able to battle and plan and accomplish solid
work for the amelioration of the labourers' lot.

When Mr William O'Brien was labouring for the wretched "congests" in
the West and founding the United Irish League to make the great final
onslaught on the ramparts of landlordism, a few of us in the South
were engaged unpretentiously but earnestly to get houses and
allotments for the agricultural labourers, and to provide them with
work on the roads during the winter months when they could not labour
on the land. Ten years previously we had laid the foundations of what
we hoped would be a widespread national movement for the regeneration
of the working classes. The founder of that movement was the late Mr
P.J. Neilan, of Kanturk, a man of eminent talent and of a great heart
that throbbed with sympathy for the sufferings of the workers. I was
then a schoolboy, with a youthful yearning of my own towards the poor
and the needy, and I joined the new movement. Two others--the one John
D. O'Shea, a local painter, and the other John L. O'Shea, a carman
(the similarity of their names often led to amusing mistakes)--with
some humble town workers, formed the working vanguard of the new
movement, what I might term a sort of apostolate of rural democracy.
Our organisation was first known as the Kanturk Trade and Labour
Association. As we carried our flag, audaciously enough, as it seemed
in those days, to neighbouring villages and towns, we enlarged our
title, and now came to be known as "the Duhallow Trade and Labour
Association." I was then trying some 'prentice flights in journalism
and I managed to get reports of our meetings into the Cork Press, with
the result that demands for our evangelistic services began to flow in
upon us from Kerry and Limerick and Tipperary. But, even as we grew
and waxed stronger we still, with rather jealous exclusiveness, called
ourselves "the parent branch" in Kanturk. We are, by the way, a very
proud people down there, proud of our old town and our old barony,
which has produced some names distinguished in Irish history, such as
John Philpot Curran, Barry Yelverton and the adored _fiancée_ of
Robert Emmet.

In time we interested Michael Davitt in our movement, and we achieved
the glorious summit of our ambitions when we got him to preside at a
great Convention of our Labour branches in Cork, where we formally
launched the movement on a national basis under the title of the Irish
Democratic Trade and Labour Federation. The credit of this achievement
was altogether and entirely due to Mr Neilan, who had founded the
movement, watched over its progress, addressed its meetings, framed
its programme and carried it triumphantly to this stage of success.
Unfortunately, when all seemed favourable for the spread of the
movement, though not in opposition to the National League but as a
sort of auxiliary force, moving in step with it, the disastrous Split
occurred. It spelt ruin for our organisation because I think it will
not be denied that the workers are the most vehement and vital
elements in the national life, and they took sides more violently than
any other section of the population. After trying for a little while
to steer the Democratic Trade and Labour Federation clear of the
shoals of disunion, and having failed, Mr Neilan and his friends gave
up the task in despair. Meanwhile, however, Mr Michael Austin of the
Cork United Trades, who was joint-secretary, with Mr Neilan, of the
Federation, succeeded in getting himself absorbed into the Irish
Party, and, having got the magic letters of M.P. after his name, not
very much was ever heard of him in the Labour movement afterwards.

In the pursuit of journalistic experience I left Ireland for a few
years, and on my return I found that a new Labour movement had been
founded on the ruins of the old, under the title of the Irish Land and
Labour Association. Mr James J. O'Shee, a young Carrick-on-Suir
solicitor, was the secretary and moving spirit in this--a man of
advanced views, of intense sympathy with the labourer's position, and
of a most earnest desire to improve their wretched lot. I obtained an
editorial position in West Cork which left me free to devote my spare
time to the Labour cause, which I again enthusiastically espoused,
having as colleagues in County Cork Mr Cornelius Buckley, of Blarney,
another of exactly the same name in Cork, my old friend Mr John L.
O'Shea, of Kanturk, and Mr William Murphy, of Macroom--men whose names
deserve to be for ever honourably associated with the movement which
did as much in its own way for the emancipation and independence of
the labourers as the National organisations did for the farmers.

It is not my purpose here to recount the fierce opposition that was
given to the labourer's programme. It had at first no friends either
in the Party or in the Press. I verily believe that there were
otherwise good and honest men who thought the labourers had no citizen
rights and that it was the height of conscious daring for anybody to
lift either hand or voice on their behalf. But those of us who had
taken up the labourer's cause were well aware of all the difficulties
and obstacles that would confront us; and we knew that worst of all we
had to battle with the deadly torpor of the labourers themselves, who
were trained to shout all right for "the Land for the People" but who
had possibly no conception of their own divine right to an inheritance
in that selfsame land. Furthermore, since the Land and Labour
Association was an organisation entirely apart from the Trade and
Labour movement of the cities and larger corporate towns we received
little support or assistance from what I may term, without offence,
the aristocracy of labour. We nevertheless simply went our way,
building up our branches, extending knowledge of the labourers'
claims, educating these humble folk into a sense of their civic rights
and citizen responsibilities and making thinking men out of what were
previously little better than soulless serfs. It was all desperately
hard, uphill work, with little to encourage and no reward beyond the
consciousness that one was reaching out a helping hand to the most
neglected, despised, and unregarded class in the community. The
passage of the Local Government Act of 1898 was that which gave power
and importance to our movement. The labourers were granted votes for
the new County and District Councils and Poor Law Guardians as well as
for Members of parliament. They were no longer a people to be kicked
and cuffed and ordered about by the shoneens and squireens of the
district: they became a very worthy class, indeed, to be courted and
flattered at election times and wheedled with all sorts of fair
promises of what would be done for them. The grant of Local Government
enabled the labourers to take a mighty stride in the assertion of
their independent claims to a better social position and more constant
and remunerative employment. The programme that we put forward on
their behalf was a modest one. It was our aim to keep within the
immediately practical and attainable and the plainly justifiable and
reasonable. In the towns and in the country they had to live in hovels
and mud-wall cabins which bred death and disease and all the woeful
miseries of mankind. One would not kennel a dog or house any of the
lower animals in the vile abominations called human dwellings in which
tens of thousands of God's comfortless creatures were huddled together
in indiscriminate wretchedness. Added to that, most of them had not a
"haggart" (a few perches of garden) on which to grow any household
vegetables. They were landless and starving, the last word in pitiful
rags and bare bones. They were in a far greater and more intense
degree than the farmers the victims of capricious harvests, whilst
their winters were recurrent periods of the most awful and
unbelievable distress and hunger and want. The first man to notice
their degraded position was Parnell, who, early in the eighties, got a
Labourers' Act passed for the provision of houses and half-acre
allotments of land. But as the administration of this Act was
entrusted to the Poor Law Boards, as it imposed a tax upon the
ratepayers, and as the labourers had then no votes and could secure no
consideration for their demands, needless to say, very few cottages
were built. With the advent of the Local Government Act and the
extension of the franchise, the labourer was now able to insist on a
speeding-up of building operations. But the Labourers' Act needed many
amendments, a simplification and cheapening of procedure, an extension
of taxing powers, an enlargement of the allotment up to an acre and,
where the existing abode of the labourers was insanitary, an
undeniable claim to a new home. Moderate and just and necessary to the
national welfare as these claims were, it took us years of unwearied
agitation before we were able to get them legislatively recognised.
What we did, however, more promptly achieve was the smashing of the
contract system by which the roads of the country were farmed out to
contractors, mostly drawn from the big farming and grazier classes
who, by devious dodges, known to all, were able to make very
comfortable incomes out of them. We insisted--and after some exemplary
displays of a resolute physical force we carried our point--that in
the case of the main roads, particularly, these should be worked under
the system known as "direct labour"--that is, by the county and deputy
surveyors directly employing the labourers on them and paying them a
decent living wage. In this way we removed at one stroke the black
shadow of want that troubled their winters and made these dark months
a horror for them and their families. But we had still to remove the
mud-wall cabins and the foetid dens in the villages and towns in which
families were huddled together anyhow, and in our effort to bring
about this most necessary of social reforms we received little or no
assistance from public men or popular movements. We were left to our
own unaided resources and our own persistent agitation. As I have
already stated, I was elected Member of Parliament for Mid-Cork on the
death of Dr Tanner in 1901, and Mr O'Shee had been previously elected
for West Waterford, but not strictly on the Land and Labour platform
as I was. Nevertheless, we heartily co-operated in and out of
Parliament in making the Labour organisation a real and vital force,
and our relations for many useful years, as I am happy to think, were
of the most cordial and kindly character.

In the Land Purchase Act of 1903 Mr Wyndham included a few
insignificant clauses bearing on the labourer's grievances, but
dropped them on the suggestion of Mr O'Brien, to whom he gave an
undertaking at the same time to bring in a comprehensive Labourers'
Bill in the succeeding session. When that session came Mr Wyndham had,
however, other fish to fry. The Irish Party and the Orange gang were
howling for his head, and his days of useful service in Ireland were
reduced to nothingness. Meanwhile we kept pressing our demands as
energetically as we could on the public notice, but we were
systematically boycotted in the Press and by the Nationalist leaders
until a happy circumstance changed the whole outlook for us. It was
our custom to invite to all our great Labour demonstrations the
various Nationalist leaders, without any regard to their differences
of opinion on the main national issue. The way we looked at it was
this--that we wanted the support of all parties in Ireland, Unionist
as well as Nationalist, for our programme, which was of a purely
non-partisan character, and we were ready to welcome support from any
quarter whence it came.

Our invitations were, however, sent out in vain until, on Mr O'Brien's
re-election for Cork in October 1904, a delegation from the Land and
Labour Association approached him and requested him to come upon our
platform and to specifically advocate the labourers' claims, now long
overdue. Without any hesitation, nay, even with a readiness which made
his acceptance of our request doubly gracious, Mr O'Brien replied that
now that the tenants' question was on the high road to a settlement he
considered that the labourers had next call on the national energies
and that, for his part, he would hold himself at our disposal.

What followed is so faithfully and impartially related in Mr O'Brien's
book, _An Olive Branch in Ireland,_ that I reproduce it:

"One of our first cares on my return to Cork was to restore vitality
to the labourer's cause, and formulate for the first time a precise
legislative scheme on which they might take their stand as their
charter. This scheme was placed before the country at a memorable
meeting in Macroom on December 10, 1904, and whoever will take the
trouble of reading it will find therein all the main principles and
even details of the great measure subsequently carried into law in
1906. The Irish Land and Labour Association, which was the
organisation of the labourers, unanimously adopted the scheme, and
commissioned their Secretary, Mr J.J. Shee, M.P., in their name, to
solicit the co-operation of the Directory of the United Irish League
in convening a friendly Conference of all Irish parties and sections
for the purpose of securing the enactment of a Labourers' Bill on
these lines as a non-contentious measure. If common ground was to be
found anywhere on which all Irishmen, or at the worst all
Nationalists, might safely grasp hands, and with a most noble aim, it
was surely here. But once more Mr Dillon scented some new plot against
the unity and authority of the Irish Party, and at the Directory
meeting of the secretary of the Land and Labour Association was
induced without any authority from his principals to abandon their
invitation, and thus take the first step to the disruption of his own
association.

"I bowed and held my peace, to see what another year might bring forth
through the efforts of those who had made a national agreement upon the
subject impracticable. Another year dragged along without a Labourers'
Bill, or any effort of the Irish Party to bring it within the domain of
practical politics. The Land and Labour Association determined to rouse
the Government and the country to the urgency of the question by an
agitation of an unmistakable character. Mr Redmond, Mr Dillon and all
their chief supporters were invariably invited to these demonstrations;
but the moment they learned that Mr Harrington, Mr Healy and myself had
been invited as well, a rigorous decree of boycott went forth against
the Labour demonstrations, and as a matter of fact no representative of
the Irish Party figured on the Labourers' platform throughout the
agitation. This, unfortunately, was not the most inexcusable of their
services to the Labourers' cause. When the Land and Labour Association
held their annual Convention, the secretary, who had infringed their
instructions at the Directory meeting, finding himself hopelessly
outnumbered, seceded from the organisation and formed a rival
association of his own; and sad and even shocking though the fact is, it
is beyond dispute that this split in the ranks of the unhappy labourers,
in the very crisis of their cause, was organised with the aid of the
moneys of the National Organisation administered by the men who were at
that very moment deafening the country with their indignation against
dissension-mongers and their zeal for majority rule.

"It was all over again the dog-in-the-manger policy which had already
kept the evicted tenants for years out in the cold. They would neither
stand on a non-contentious platform with myself nor organise a single
Labourers' demonstration of their own. It has been repeatedly stated
by members who were constant attendants at the meetings of the Irish
Party that the subject of the Labourers' grievances was never once
discussed at any meeting of the party until the agitation in Ireland
had first compelled the introduction of Mr Bryce's Bill. Then, indeed,
when the battle was won, and there was only question of the booty, Mr
Redmond made the public boast that he and Mr Dillon "were in almost
daily communications with Mr Bryce upon the subject." The excuse was
as unavailing as his plea that the finally revised terms of sale of
his Wexford estate left him without a penny of profit. What concerned
the country was the first announcement of 24-1/2 years' purchase
authorised under his own hand which had 'given a headline' to every
landlord in the country. In the same way, whatever obsequious
attendance he might dance on Mr Bryce, when the die was cast and the
Bill safe, the ineffaceable facts remain that neither he nor anybody
in his party whom he could influence had stood on a Labour platform,
or touched upon the subject at the party meeting, while the intentions
of the Government were, as we shall see in a moment, undecided in the
extreme, but on the contrary were (it may be hoped unconscious but
none the less indispensable) parties to an organised effort to split
the Labourers' Association asunder while their fate was trembling in
the balance.

"Their war upon the Land and Labour Association was all the more
wanton, because Mr Dillon's persuasion, which gave rise to it that the
Association had been brigaded into my secret service for some
nefarious purpose of my own, was as absurdly astray as all the rest of
his troubled dreams of my Machiavellian ambitions. To avoid giving any
pretext for such a suspicion, I declined to accept any office or
honour or even to become a member of the Land and Labour Association,
attended no meeting to which Mr Redmond and Mr Dillon were not invited
as well as I; and beyond my speeches at those meetings, never in the
remotest degree interfered in the business or counsels of the
Association. A number of men on the governing council of the
Association were to my knowledge, and continued to be, sympathisers
with my critics. Beyond the fact that their president, Mr Sheehan,
M.P., happened to be the most successful practiser of my Land Purchase
plans in the county of Cork, as well as by far the ablest advocate the
Labourers' agitation had called into action, I know of no shadow of
excuse for the extraordinary folly which led responsible Irishmen,
with the cry of 'Unity' on their lips, not only to decline to meet me
on a common platform, but to make tens of thousands of absolutely
unoffending labourers the victims of their differences with me.

"Despite their aloofness and their attempts to divide the Labourers'
body, the agitation swept throughout the south of Ireland with an
intensity which nothing could withstand. Demonstrations of amazing
extent and still more remarkable resoluteness of spirit were addressed
by my friends and myself in Charleville and Macroom, County Cork;
Kilfinane and Drumcolliher, County Limerick; Tralee and Castle Island,
County Kerry; Scariff, County Clare; Goolds Cross, County Tipperary;
and Ballycullane, County Wexford; and by the time they were over, the
field was fought and won. One last difficulty remained; but it was a
formidable difficulty. So far from Mr Redmond's 'almost daily
communications with Mr Bryce' reaching back to the critical days of
the problem, we were already in the first days of summer in the
session of 1906 when a communication was made to me from a high
official quarter that the Irish Government were so deeply immersed in
the Irish Council Bill of the following year that they shrank from the
labour and the financial difficulties of a Labourers' Bill in the
current session, and an appeal was diplomatically hinted as to whether
there was any possibility of slowing down the Labourers' agitation so
as to make a postponement to the following session practicable. My
reply was undiplomatically clear:--that, if the Government wanted to
deprive the Irish Council Bill of all chance of a hearing, they could
not take a better means of making the country too hot for themselves
than by proposing to fob off the labourers for another year, and that
not only would I not, if I could, but could not if I would, moderate
their insistence upon immediate redress.

"A short time afterwards, I met Sir Antony MacDonnell in the House of
Commons, and he asked 'What is your labourers' minimum?' I gave him a
brief outline of the Macroom programme. 'No rational being could
object,' he said, 'but what does it mean in hard cash?' I replied,
'Roughly, four millions.' And the great Irishman--'the worst enemy
that ever came to Ireland' of Mr Dillon's nightmare hours--ended the
interview with these laconic words: 'The thing ought to be done and I
think can be.' At the period of the session at which the Bill was
introduced, the opposition of even half-a-dozen determined men could
have at any stage achieved its ruin. Thanks, however, to the good
feeling the precedent of the Act of 1903 and the admirably
conciliatory temper displayed by the labourers themselves in their
agitation had engendered, the Bill went triumphantly through and has
been crowned with glory in its practical application. I never pass
through any of the southern counties now and feast my eyes on the
labourers' cottages which dot the landscape--prettier than the
farmers' own homes--honeysuckles or jasmines generally trailing around
the portico--an acre of potato ground sufficient to be a sempiternal
insurance against starvation, stretching out behind--the pig and the
poultry--perhaps a plot of snowdrops or daffodils for the English
market, certainly a bunch of roses in the cheeks of the children
clustering about the doorsteps--without thankfully acknowledging that
Cork was right in thinking such conquests were worth a great deal of
evil speech from angry politicians."



                               CHAPTER XV

                 SOME FURTHER SALVAGE FROM THE WRECKAGE


When Mr O'Brien retired in 1903 the majority of the members of the
Party scarcely knew what to make of it, and I have to confess myself
among those who were lost in wonder and amazement at the suddenness of
the event and the reasons that caused it. This knowledge came later,
but until I got to a comprehension of the entire facts I refused to
mix myself up with either side. When, however, Mr O'Brien returned to
public life in 1904, I saw my way clear to associate myself with his
policy and to give it such humble and independent support as I could.
It will be remembered that one of Mr O'Brien's proposals for testing
the Purchase Act was to select suitable estates, parish by parish,
where for one reason or another the landlords could be induced to
agree to a reasonable number of years' purchase and thus to set up a
standard which, with the strength of the National organisation to back
it up, could be enforced all over the country. The "determined
campaigners" defeated this plan but failed to provide any machinery of
their own to protect the tenant purchasers or to assist them in their
negotiations. On Mr O'Brien's re-election he took immediate steps to
form an Advisory Committee composed of delegates from the eight
divisional executives of the city and county of Cork. This Committee
adopted as its watchword, "Conciliation plus Business," and as its
honorary secretary I can vouch for it that when the methods of
Conciliation failed we were not slow about putting into operation the
business side of our programme. Thus the landlord who could not be
induced to listen to reason around a table was compelled to come to
terms by an agitation which was none the less forceful and effective
because it was directed and controlled by men of conciliatory temper
whom circumstances obliged to resort to extreme action.

The fruits of the work of the Advisory Committee, ranging over a
number of years, are blazoned in the official statistics. They make it
clear that if only a similar policy had been working elsewhere the
tenant purchasers all over Ireland would have got infinitely better
terms than they did. The bare fact is that in County Cork, where we
had proportionately the largest number of tenant purchasers (in
Mid-Cork, I am glad to say, there was scarcely a tenant who did not
purchase, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred through my
intervention), the prices are, roughly, two years' purchase lower than
the average all over the rest of Ireland.

In Cork, where Mr O'Brien's policy prevailed, we had, outside the
Congested Districts, from 1st November 1903 to 31st March 1909, a
total of 16,159 tenant purchasers, and the amount of the purchase
money was £7,994,591; whilst in Mayo, one of whose divisions Mr Dillon
represented in Parliament, and where his doctrines held sway, the
number of tenant purchasers in the same period was 774, and the amount
of the purchase money only £181,256. And be it noted what these
unfortunate and misguided Mayo men have to be grateful for: that they
have remained for all these years, since the Act of 1903 was placed on
the Statute Book, under the old inexorable rent-paying conditions,
whilst down in Cork the tenants are almost to a man the proprietors of
their own holdings, owning their own improvements, knowing that every
year that passes brings the time nearer when their land will be free
of annuities, and having all that sweet content and satisfaction that
flow from personal ownership. Up in Mayo, in a famous speech delivered
at Swinford, 12th September 1906, three years after the Land Purchase
Act was passed, Mr Dillon declared:

"Attempts have been made to throw the blame on Michael Davitt, _The
Freeman's Journal_ and myself, and it has been said that we have
delayed the reinstatement of the evicted tenants and obstructed the
smooth working of the Act more than we have done. It has worked too
smoothly--far too smoothly, to my mind. Some men have complained
within the past year that the Land Act was not working smooth enough.
For my part I look upon it as working a great deal too fast. Its pace
has been ruinous to the people."

There, in a nutshell and sufficiently stated, are the two policies. Mr
O'Brien wanted to expedite land purchase by every means in his power,
but he wished that the tenants should have proper advisers and should
act under the skilled guidance of their own organisation, so that they
may make no bad bargains. Mr Dillon, on his part, sought to kill land
purchase outright, but why he should have had this mad infatuation
against the most beneficent Act that was passed for Ireland in our
generation, I am at a loss to know, if it is not that he allowed his
personal feeling against Mr O'Brien to cloud the operations of his
intellect. It is a curious commentary, however, on the good faith of
the Party leaders, that whilst Mr Dillon was making the speech I have
quoted to his constituents at Swinford, his bosom friend and
confidant, Mr T.P. O'Connor, who was seeking the shekels in New York,
was telling his audience that "the Irish landlords were on the run,
and, if they continued to yield, in fifteen years the very name of
landlordism would be unknown. I say to the British power:--after seven
centuries we have beaten you; the land belongs now to the Irish; the
land is going back to the old race."

What is one to say of the manhood or honour of the men who spent their
days denouncing the policy of Conciliation in Ireland, but who, when
they went across the Atlantic, and wanted to coax the money out of the
exiles' pockets, spoke the sort of stuff that Mr O'Connor so
soothingly "slithered" out at New York?

I say it with full and perfect knowledge of the facts, that it was the
dishonest policy of Mr Dillon, Mr T.P. O'Connor and the men who,
blindly and weakly, and with an abominable lack of moral courage,
followed their leadership, which has kept one hundred thousand tenants
still under the heel of landlordism in Ireland. These men, in driving
a nail into the policy of Conciliation, drove a nail far more deeply
into their own coffin. In burying the Land Act of 1903 they were only
opening graves for themselves, but, in the words of Mr Redmond, they
were "so short-sighted and unwise" they could not see the inevitable
result of their malicious side-stepping.

I know of no greater glory that any man, or Party, or organisation
could aspire to than to be, in any way, however humble, associated
with the policy which made three hundred thousand of the farmers of
Ireland the owners of their own hearths and fields. Where the Land
Purchase Act operated it gave birth to a new race of peasant owners,
who were frugal, industrious, thrifty, and assiduous in the
cultivation and improvement of the soil. In a few years the face of
the country was transformed. A new life and energy were springing into
being. The old tumble-down farm-houses and out-offices began to be
replaced by substantial, comfortable, and commodious buildings.
Personal indebtedness became almost a thing of the past, and the
gombeen man--one of Ireland's national curses--was fast fading out of
sight. The tenant purchasers, against whose solvency the "determined
campaigners" issued every form of threat, took a pride in paying their
purchase instalments as they fell due. The banks began to swell out
into a plethoric affluence on their deposits. And who can estimate the
social sweetness that followed on land purchase--the sense of peace
and security that it gave to the tenant and his family, the falling
from him of the numbing shadows of unrest and discontent? Also with
the disappearance of agrarian troubles and the unsettlement that
attended them there has been a notable decline in the consumption of
alcohol. To reverse an old saying: "Ireland sober is Ireland free"--it
may be said that "Ireland free (of landlordism) is Ireland sober." And
then the happiness of being the master of one's own homestead! No race
in the world clings so lovingly to the soil as the Irish. We have the
clan feeling of a personal love and affection for the spot of earth
where we were born, and when the shadows of evening begin to fall
athwart our lives, do we not wish to lay ourselves down in that
hallowed spot where the bones of our forefathers mingle with the dust
of ages? Truly we love the land of our birth--every stone of it, every
blade of grass that grows in it, its lakes, its valleys, and its
streams, each mountain that in rugged grandeur stands sentinel over
it, each rivulet that whispers its beautiful story to us--and because
we would yet own it for our very own, we grudge not the sacrifices
that its final deliverance demands, for it will be all the dearer in
that its liberty was dearly purchased with the tears and the blood of
our best!

The settlement of the Evicted Tenants Question was another of the
vital issues salved from the wreckage. There were from eight to ten
thousand evicted tenants--"the wounded soldiers of the Land War" as
they were termed--to whom the Irish Party and the National
Organisation were pledged by every tie of honour that could bind all
but the basest. The Land Conference Report made an equitable
settlement of the Evicted Tenants problem an essential portion of
their treaty of peace. But the revival of an evil spirit amongst the
worst landlords and the interpretations of hostile law officers
reduced the Evicted Tenants clause in the Act of 1903 almost to a
nullity. In this extremity the Cork evicted tenants requested the Land
Conference to reassemble and specify in precise language the
settlement which they regarded as essential. All the representatives
of the landlords and of the tenants on the Conference accepted the
invitation, with the single exception of Mr Redmond. Eventually,
despite these and other discouragements, the Conference met in Dublin
in October 1906, sat for three days, and agreed upon lines of
settlement which were given effect to in legislation by Mr Bryce the
following year. True, the restoration of these unhappy men did not
proceed as rapidly as their sacrifices or interests demanded. They
were also the victims of the malign opposition extended to the policy
of Conciliation, even when it embraced a deed so essentially
charitable as the relief of the families who had borne the burden and
the heat of the day in the fierce agrarian wars. Lamentable to relate,
Mr Dillon tried to intimidate Mr T.W. Russell and Mr Harrington from
joining the Conference, and when he failed, publicly denounced their
Report. And if there are still some of them "on the roadside," as I
regret to think they are, the blame does not lie with the
Conciliationists, but with those who persistently opposed their
labours.

In the settlement of the University Question Cork also took the lead
when its prospects were in a very bad way. This had been for over a
century a vexed and perplexing problem. I have dealt cursorily with
primary education, which is even still in a deplorably backward state
in Ireland. Secondary education has not yet been placed on a
scientific basis, and is not that natural stepping-stone between the
primary school and the university that it ought to be. There is no
intelligent co-ordination of studies in Ireland and we suffer as no
other country from ignorantly imposed "systems" which have had for
their object, not the development of Irish brains but the
Anglicisation of Irish youth, who were drenched with the mire of
"foreign" learning when they should have been bathed in the pure
stream of Irish thought and culture.

It would require a volume in itself to deal with all the evils, not
only intellectual and educational, but social, economic and political,
which Ireland has suffered owing to the absence of a higher education
directed to the development of her special psychological and material
needs. It took eighty years of agitation before anything like
educational equality in the higher realms of study was established.
The Protestants had in Trinity College a university with a noble
tradition and a great historic past. The Catholics had only University
College and a Royal University, which conferred degrees without
compulsion of residence. In hounding Mr Wyndham from office and
killing him (in the political sense, though one would be sorely
tempted to add, also in the physical sense), the Irish Party also
destroyed, amongst other things, the prospects of a University
settlement in 1904. A University Bill had, as a matter of fact, been
promised as the principal business for that session. The question was
in a practically quiescent state, nobody taking any particular
interest in it, when the Catholic laity of Cork, supported by the mass
of the Protestant laity as well (as was now become the custom on all
great questions in the leading Irish county), came together in a
mighty and most representative gathering, which instantly impressed
statesmen that this educational disability on religious grounds could
no longer be tolerated. Mr Birrell, who failed in most other things
during his ill-starred Irish administration, was admirably energetic
and suave in getting his University proposals through. And it was by
employing wisely the methods of conciliation and winning over to his
side men of opposite political views, like Mr Balfour, Mr Wyndham, Sir
Edward Carson, and Professor Butcher that he piloted the Bill safely
through its various Parliamentary stages.

With the success of Land Purchase, with the introduction and passage
of the Labourers and University Acts, with the settlement of the
Evicted Tenants Question, and with the offering of any resistance to
the effort made to remove the embargo on Canadian cattle, which would
seriously have affected the prospects of the farmers, the Irish Party
had exercised no initiative and could not legitimately claim one atom
of credit in respect of them. Yet when their Parliamentary prestige
began to shake and show unmistakable signs of an approaching collapse,
it was ever their habit to group these among their achievements in the
same way that they appropriated the fruits of Parnell's genius--it was
"the Party" that did everything, and so they demanded that the people
should sing eternal Hosannas to its glory.

In justice to the Party, or, more correctly, to Mr J.J. Clancy, M.P.,
who stood sponsor for the measures and watched over their progress
with paternal care, they did get inscribed on the Statute Book two
Acts of considerable importance--the Town Tenants Act and the Housing
of the Working Classes Act, but beyond these the less said of their
Parliamentary conquests from 1903 onward the better. Their
achievements were rather of the destructive and mischievous than the
constructive and beneficent.



                               CHAPTER XVI

                          REUNION AND TREACHERY


It may be said that whilst all these things were going on in Ireland
and the Party marching with steady purpose to its irretrievable doom,
the British people were in the most profound state of ignorance as to
what was actually happening. And the same may be said of the Irish in
America, Australia, and all the other distant lands to which the
missionary Celts have betaken themselves. They were all fed with the
same newspaper pap. The various London Correspondents took their cue
from Mr T.P. O'Connor and the _Freeman_. These and the Whips kept
them supplied with the tit-bits that were in due course served up to
their several readers. And thus it never got to be known that it was
Mr William O'Brien and his friends who were the true repositories of
Party loyalty and discipline, the only men who were faithful to the
pledge, who had never departed from the policy of Conference,
Conciliation and Consent, upon which the great Land Act of 1903 was
based and to which the Party, the United Irish League, and Nationalist
opinion stood committed in the most solemn manner.

When the General Election of 1906 took place those of us in County
Cork and elsewhere who had taken our stand by Mr O'Brien were marked
out for opposition by the Party chiefs. But a truce was arranged
through the intervention of Mr George Crosbie, editor of _The Cork
Examiner_, who generously sought to avert a fight between brother
Nationalists, which, whatever its effects at home, would be bound to
have grave results abroad, where the only thing that would be
strikingly apparent was that brother Nationalists were at one
another's throats. So we all came back, if not exactly a happy family
at least outwardly in a certain state of grace.

This state of things was not, however, to last. Without rhyme or
reason, without cause stated or charge alleged, with no intimation of
any sort or kind that I was acting contrary to any of the Party
tenets, I was, so to speak, quietly dropped overboard from the Party
ship in November 1906. I did not get any official intimation that I
was dismissed the Party or that I had in any way violated my pledge to
sit, act and vote with it. I was simply cut off from the Party Whips
and the Parliamentary allowance and, without a word spoken or written,
thus politely, as it were, told to go about my business. The matter
seemed inconceivable and I wrote a firm letter of remonstrance to Mr
Redmond. It drew from him merely a formal acknowledgment--an adding of
insult to injury. To test the matter I immediately resigned my seat
for Mid-Cork, placed the whole facts before my constituents, published
my letter and Mr Redmond's acknowledgment and challenged the Party to
fight me on the issue they had themselves deliberately raised--namely,
as to whether in supporting the policy of Conciliation I was in any
way faithless to my pledge. Wise in their generation, the men who were
courageous enough to expel me from the Party, to which I belonged by
as good a title as they, were not brave enough to meet me in the open
in a fair fight and, where there could be no shirking a plain issue,
and accordingly I had a bloodless victory. It was satisfactory to know
I had the practically unanimous support and confidence of the electors
of Mid-Cork. It would have been more satisfactory still if we had the
policy of Conciliation affirmed, as we undoubtedly would have, by an
overwhelming vote in a genuine trial of strength. There were at this
time outside of the Party, besides myself, Mr William O'Brien, Mr T.
M. Healy, M.P. for North Louth (who had not been readmitted after
1900), Sir Thomas Esmonde, M.P. for North Wexford, Mr John O'Donnell,
M.P. for South Mayo, Mr Charles Dolan, M.P. for South Leitrim, and Mr
Augustine Roche (Mr O'Brien's colleague in the representation of
Cork).

The Party were now in a rather parlous state. The country was
disgusted with their mismanagement of the Irish Council Bill. Branches
of the United Irish League had ceased to subscribe to the Party funds
and it was evident that a temper distinctly hostile to the Party
managers was widely springing up. Furthermore, an irresistible
movement of popular opinion set in, demanding that there should be a
reunion of all the Nationalist forces and "Unity" demonstrations of
huge dimensions were held in Kerry, Limerick, Cork, Clare and Wexford.
There was no denying the intensity of the demand that there should be
an end of those differences which divided brother Nationalists and
dissipated their strength. Finally, at Ballycullane, in Mr Redmond's
native constituency, Mr O'Brien formulated proposals for reunion, the
first of which is so notable as a declaration of Nationalist principle
that I quote it fully:

"No man or party has authority to circumscribe the inalienable right
of Ireland to the largest measure of national self-government it may
be in her power to obtain."

Further conditions declared that it was the duty of Nationalist
representatives to devote themselves honestly to working for every
measure of practical amelioration which it may be possible to obtain
from "either English Party, or from both," and that the co-operation
of Irishmen of all creeds and classes willing to aid in the attainment
of any or all of those objects should be cordially welcomed. Within a
week Mr Redmond conveyed to Mr O'Brien his desire for a Conference on
unity. It was duly held. Mr O'Brien's proposals were substantially
agreed to. It will be observed that they were a solemn reiteration of
the principles of Conference and Conciliation, which was the bed-rock
basis of the Party policy in its most useful and memorable year, 1903.
It is possible that if Mr O'Brien's suggestion for a National
Convention to give the new Unity an enthusiastic "send-off" had been
agreed to, many things might have been different to-day. But Mr Dillon
never wanted, in those days, if he could help it, to appear before a
great assemblage of his countrymen in company with Mr O'Brien. He knew
his own limitations for popular appeal too well to risk comparison
with the most persuasive Irish orator since the days of O'Connell.

The six of us who rejoined the Party under the foregoing peace treaty
were sincerely anxious that the reunion should be cordial and thorough.
We saw, however, no manifestations of a similar spirit on the part of Mr
Dillon or his special coterie of friends. Mr O'Brien published in his
own paper, _The Irish People,_ a _communique_ in which he said:

"I am certain the universal Irish instinct will be, frankly and
completely, to drop all disputes as to the past and have no rivalries
except as to who shall do most to create good will and a common
patriotism among Irishmen of all shades and schools of thought. Let us
turn with high hearts from the tragedies of the past to the glorious
possibilities of the future."

Our optimism was sadly disappointed when the first occasion came for
testing the sincerity of the reunion. A Treasury Report was issued
containing proposals for lessening the landlords' bonus under the
Purchase Act of 1903 and for increasing the tenants' annuities. (These
proposals were later embodied in Mr Birrell's Land Act of 1909 and
practically put an end to land purchase and to the beneficent
operations of the Act of 1903.) A meeting of the reunited Party was
summoned for the Mansion House, Dublin (29th April 1908), to deal with
this grave situation, rendered all the more serious by reason of the
fact that the Treasury proposals were openly advocated by _The
Freeman's Journal._ One of the clauses of the articles of reunion
declared that the co-operation of Irishmen of all classes and creeds
willing to aid in the attainment of, among other things, "the
completion of the abolition of landlordism" is cordially welcomed.
When Mr O'Brien moved, in order that the demands of the Treasury
should be met with a united and resolute Irish front, that the Party
was prepared to appoint representatives to confer with representatives
of the landlords, Mr Dillon at once showed that on no account would be
agree to any Conference, and he proposed an amendment that the whole
matter should be referred to a Committee of the Irish Party
exclusively. This was a fatal blow at the principle on which the Party
had been reunited. Whilst the controversy raged around the Conference
idea, Mr Redmond spoke never a word, though he saw that "the
short-sighted and unwise policy" was again getting the upper hand. Mr
Dillon carried his amendment by 45 votes to 15, and thus the treaty on
which the Party was reunited was practically torn to pieces before the
ink was scarce dry on it.

One further effort was made to try to preserve the Act of 1903 from
being ham-strung by the Treasury. A short time previously a deputation
of the foremost landed men and representative bodies of Cork had saved
Ireland from the importation of Canadian cattle into Britain. It was
decided to organise now a still more powerful deputation from the
province of Munster to warn the Government of the fatal effects of the
proposed Birrell Bill. I had a great deal to do with the preliminaries
of the meeting at which this deputation was selected, and I can say
with all certainty that if we had had only the most moderate display
of political wisdom from Mr Dillon and his friends we could have the
great mass of the landlords in Ireland agreeing to the full concession
of the constitutional demand for Irish liberty. The Cork meeting was
beyond all doubt or question the most remarkable held in Ireland for a
century. It was summoned by a Joint Committee drawn from the
Nationalist and landlord ranks. On its platform were assembled all the
men, either on the landlord or the tenant side, who had been the
fiercest antagonists in the agrarian wars of the previous twenty-five
years--men who had literally taken their lives in their hands in
fighting for their respective causes. It is but the barest truth to
say that the evictors and the evicted--the leading actors in the most
awful of Ireland's tragedies--stood for the first time in Irish
history side by side to join hands in a noble effort to obliterate the
past and to redeem the future. It was one of the greatest scenes of
true emotion and tremendous hope that ever was witnessed in any land
or any time. If its brave and joyous spirit could only have been
caught up and passed along, we would have seen long before now that
vision glorious which inspired the deeds and sacrifices of Tone and
Emmet and the other magnificent line of martyrs for Irish liberty--we
would have witnessed that brotherhood of class and creed which is
Ireland's greatest need, and upon which alone can her eventual
happiness and liberty rest. And, most striking incident of all, here
had met, in a blessed forgetfulness of past rancours and of fierce
blows given and received, the two most redoubtable champions of the
landlords and the tenants--Lord Barrymore and Mr William O'Brien, the
men whose sword blows upon each other's shields still reverberated in
the minds of everyone present. What a study for a painter, or poet, or
philosopher! The most dauntless defender of landlordism, in a generous
impulse of what I believe to be the most genuine patriotism, stood on
a platform with Mr William O'Brien, whom he had fought so resolutely
in the Plan of Campaign days, to declare in effect that landlordism
could no longer be defended and to agree as to the terms on which it
could be ended, with advantage to every section of the Irish nation.
It was only magnanimous men--men of fine fibre and a noble moral
courage--who could stretch their hands across the yawning chasm of the
bad and bitter years, with all their evil memories of hates and wounds
and scars and defy the yelpings of the malicious minds who were only
too glad to lead on the pack, to shout afterwards at Mr O'Brien:
"Barrymore!" when of a truth, of all the achievements of Mr O'Brien's
crowded life of effort and accomplishment there is not one that should
bring more balm to his soul or consolation to his war-worn heart than
that he should have induced the enemy of other days to pay this
highest of all tributes to his honesty and worth. He had convinced his
enemy of his rectitude, and what greater deed than this! I confess it
made my ears tingle with shame when I used to hear unthinking
scoundrels, egged on by others who should have known better, shout
"Barrymore!" at Mr O'Brien in their attempts to hold him up to public
odium for an act which might easily have been made the most benign in
his life, as it certainly was one of the most noble.

This memorable meeting of the erstwhile warring hosts agreed
absolutely as to the main conditions on which the Land Settlement of
1903 ought to be preserved--viz. that the abolition of landlordism
should be completed in the briefest possible time, that the rate of
tenant purchasers' annuity should remain undisturbed, and that the
State bonus to the landlords should not be altered. If there were to
be losses on the notation of land loans the loss should be borne by
the Imperial Treasury for the greatest of all Imperial purposes. A
deputation of unequalled strength and unrivalled representative
character was appointed to submit these views to the Prime Minister,
the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland.
But jealous and perverse and, I must add, blindly malignant,
influences had been at work, and a deputation which comprised six
peers, eleven Members of Parliament, and some of the leading public
men in Munster was refused a hearing by Mr Birrell. Though the act was
the act of Mr Birrell, all the world knew that the sinister figure in
the background was Mr Dillon. And they have both paid the penalty
since then of their follies, not to say crimes--though a nation still
suffers for them.



                               CHAPTER XVII

                      A NEW POWER ARISES IN IRELAND


The Party manipulators had now got their stranglehold on the country.
The people, where they were not chloroformed into insensibility, were
doped into a state of corrupt acquiescence. All power was in the hands
of the Party. The orthodox daily Press was wholly on their side. The
British public and the English newspaper writers were impressed only,
as always, by the big battalions. The Irish Party had numbers, and
numbers count in Parliament as nothing else does. Whatever information
went through to the American Press passed through tainted sources. An
influential Irish-American priest, Father Eamon Duffy, writing some
time since in the great American Catholic magazine, _The
Monitor_, said:

"We really never understood the situation in America. Ireland was in
the grip of the Party machine and of one great daily paper, and these
were our sources of information. It was only the great upheaval that
awakened us from our dream and showed us that something had been
wrong, and that the Party no longer represented the country."

This is a remarkable admission from an independent and unprejudiced
authority. He candidly declares they never understood the situation in
America. Neither was it understood in England, and the House of
Commons is the last place which tries to understand anything except
party or personal interests. There is just about as much freedom of
opinion and individual independence in Parliament as there could be in
a slave state. In Ireland, as I have said, outside Munster the truth
was never allowed to reach the people. Even the great national
movement which Mr William O'Brien re-created in the United Irish
League had almost ceased to function. It was gradually superseded by a
secret sectarian organisation which was the absolute antithesis of all
free development of democratic opinion and the complete negation of
liberty and fair play.

Up in the north of Ireland there existed an organisation of a secret
and sworn character which was an evil inheritance of an evil
generation. From the fact that the Ribbonmen used to meet in a shebeen
owned by one Molly Maguire, with the Irish adaptability for attaching
nicknames to anything short of what is sacred, they became known as
"Molly Maguires," or, for short, "the Mollies." In some ill-omened day
branches of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which had seceded from
the American order of that name, began to interest themselves in
Ulster in political affairs. They called themselves the Board of Erin,
but they were, as I have said, more generally known as "the Mollies."
They were a narrowly sectarian institution and they had the almost
blasphemous rule that nobody but a Catholic frequenting the Sacraments
could remain a member. They had their own ritual and initiation
ceremony, founded on the Orange and Masonic precedents, and had their
secret signs and passwords. It is possible that they were at first
intended to be a Catholic protection society in Ulster at the end of
the eighteenth century to combat the aggressiveness and the fanatical
intolerance of the Orange Order, who sought nothing less than the
complete extermination of the Catholic tenantry. A Catholic Defence
organisation was a necessity in those circumstances, but when the
occasion that gave it justification and sanction had passed it would
have been better if it were likewise allowed to pass. Any organisation
which fans the flames of sectarianism and feeds the fires of religious
bigotry should have no place in a community which claims the sacred
right of freedom. It was the endeavour of Mr O'Brien and his friends
finally to close this bitter chapter of Irish history by reconciling
the ancient differences of the sects and inducing all Irishmen of good
intent to meet upon a common platform in which there should be no
rivalries except the noble emulations of men seeking the weal of the
whole by the combined effort of all.

Whatever unfortunate circumstance or combination of circumstances gave
impulse to "the Board of Erin," I know not-whether it arose out of a
vainglorious purpose to meet the Orangemen with a weapon of import
similar to their own, or whether it was merely the love of young
people to have association with the occult, I can merely
conjecture--but it was only when Mr Joseph Devlin assumed the
leadership of it that it began to acquire an influence in politics
which could have no other ending than a disastrous one.

Never before was the cause of Irish liberty associated with
sectarianism. Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and Thomas Davis are regarded
as the most inspired apostles and confessors of Irish nationality. It
was a profanation of their memory and an insult to their creed that in
the first decade of the twentieth century any man or band of men
should have been audacious enough to superimpose upon the structure of
the national movement an organisation which in addition to being
secret and sectarian was grossly sordid and selfish in its aims.

Stealthily and insidiously "the Board of Erin" got its grip in the
United Irish League. It "bossed," by establishing a superiority of
numbers, the Standing Committee. Then by "getting hold" of the
officers of Divisional Executives and branches it acquired control
over the entire machinery of the movement, and thus, in an amazingly
short space of time, it secured an ascendancy of a most deadly and
menacing character. Its first overt act of authority was to strangle
freedom of speech and to kill land purchase. What Mr John Dillon had
been unable to do through his control of the Party and his collusion
with _The Freeman's Journal_ the Board of Erin most effectively
accomplished by an energetic use of boxwood batons and, at a later
time, weapons of a more lethal character.

A National Convention had been summoned to pronounce on the Birrell
Land Bill of 1909--a measure which, with incomparable meanness, was
designed "to save the Treasury" by ridding it of the honourable
obligations imposed by the Wyndham Act of 1903. This Bill, on the
ground that the finance of the Act of 1903 had broken down, proposed
to increase the rate of interest on land loans from 2-3/4 to 3-1/4 per
cent., and to transform the bonus from a free Imperial grant to a
Treasury debt against Ireland. Apparently it should require no
argument to prove that this was a treacherous repeal of an existing
treaty, guaranteed by considered legislative enactment, and that it
was a proposal which no Irishman with any sense of the duty he owed
his country could for one moment entertain. But it was the unthinkable
and the unbelievable thing which happened. Mr Dillon was determined,
at all costs--and how heavy these costs were, one hundred thousand
unpurchased tenants in Ireland to-day have weighty reason to know--to
wreak his spite against the Wyndham Act, which he had over and over
again declared was working too smoothly, and prayed that he might have
the power to stop it. Mr Redmond I regard in all this wretched
business as the unwilling victim of the forces which held him, as a
vice in their power. Yet from the sin of a weak compliancy in the
unwise decrees of others he cannot be justly acquitted. Although the
Party had rejected the proposal for a new Land Conference, and thereby
broken the articles of reunion under which Mr O'Brien and his friends
re-entered it, we continued to remain within its fold. We could not,
for one thing, believe that the country was so steeped in ignorance
and blindness that if the facts were once allowed to reach it, or the
arguments to be temperately addressed to any free assembly of
Irishmen, they would not see where national interests lay. Accordingly
Mr O'Brien and his friends determined to submit, in constitutional
fashion, the overwhelming objections to Mr Birrell's Bill to the
judgment of the National Convention which was to consider whether the
Bill would expedite or destroy land purchase. It was conveyed to Mr
O'Brien beforehand that it was madness on his part to attempt to get a
hearing at the Convention, that this was the last thing "the powers
that be" would allow, and that as he valued his own safety it would be
better for him to remain away.

Just as he had never submitted to intimidation when it was backed by
the whole force of the British Government, Mr O'Brien was equally
resolved that the arrogance of the new masters of the Irish democracy
was not going to compel him to a mood of easy yielding and he properly
decided to submit his arguments to a Convention which, though he was
well aware it would be "packed" against him, yet he had hopes might be
swayed by the invincibility of his arguments. In the ordinary course
the stewards for managing and regulating the Convention would be drawn
from Dublin Nationalists. On this occasion, however, they came by
special train from Belfast and were marched in military order to the
Mansion House, where some sackfuls of policemen's brand-new batons
were distributed amongst them. They were the "Special Constables" of
the Molly Maguires recruited for the first time by an Irish
organisation to kill the right of free speech for which Irishmen had
been contending with their lives through the generations. It would be
quite a comedy of Irish topsy-turvydom were it not, in fact, such a
disastrous tragedy.

The favourite cry of the enemies of Conciliation was that the Purchase
Act would bankrupt the Irish ratepayers. By means which it is not
necessary to develop or inquire into, the British Treasury was induced
on the very eve of the Convention to present to a number of the Irish
County Councils claims for thousands of pounds on foot of expenses for
the flotation of land loans. A base political trick of this kind is
too contemptible for words. It, however, gave Mr Redmond one of the
main arguments for impressing the Convention that the Birrell Bill
could alone save the ratepayers from the imminence of this burden. It
would have been easy to demolish the contention had the reply been
allowed to be made. But this was just the one thing "the bosses" were
determined not to allow--Mr O'Brien had given notice of an amendment,
the justification of which is attested by the facts of the succeeding
twelve years. It expressed the view that the Birrell Land Bill would
lead to the stoppage of land purchase, that it would impose an
intolerable penalty upon the tenant purchasers whose purchase money
the Treasury had failed to provide, and that it would postpone for
fifty years any complete solution of the problem of the West and of
the redistribution of the untenanted grass lands of the country. The
moment Mr O'Brien stood up to move this, at a concerted signal,
pandemonium was let loose. I was never the witness of a more
disgraceful incident--that an Irishman whose life had been given in
so full and generous a fashion to the people should, by secret and
subsidised arrangement, be howled down by an imported gang and
prevented from presenting his views in rational fashion to men the
majority of whom at least were present for honest consideration of
arguments. It is a thing not easily forgotten or forgiven for the
Irishmen who engineered it, that such a ferocious and foolish display
of truculent cowardice should have taken place. For an hour Mr O'Brien
manfully faced the obscene chorus of cat-cries and disorder. He
describes one of the incidents that occurred in the following words:--

"While I was endeavouring, by the aid of a fairly powerful voice, to
dominate the air-splitting clamour around me, Mr Crean, M.P., on the
suggestion of Father Clancy, attempted to reach me, in order to urge
me to give up the unequal struggle. He was no sooner on his legs than
he was pounced upon by a group of brawny Belfast Mollies and dragged
back by main force, while Mr Devlin, with a face blazing with passion,
rushed towards his colleague in the Irish Party, shouting to his
lodgemen: 'Put the fellow out.' At the same time Father Clancy, Mr
Sheehan, M.P., and Mr Gilhooly, M.P., having interposed to remonstrate
with Mr Crean's assailants, found themselves in the midst of a
disgraceful mêlée of curses, blows and uplifted sticks, Mr Sheehan
being violently struck in the face, and one of the Molly Maguire
batonmen swinging his baton over Mr Gilhooly's head to a favourite
Belfast battle-cry: 'I'll slaughter you if you say another word.'"

So does this Convention go down to history as the beginning of an
infamous period when the sanctity of free speech was a thing to be
ruthlessly smashed by the hireling or misguided mobs of an
organisation professing democratic principles. The miracle of the
Easter Rising was that it put an end to the rule of the thug and the
bludgeonman. But many things were to happen in between.

Certain police court proceedings followed, in which Mr Crean, M.P.,
was the plaintiff. The only comment on these that need now be made is
that Mr Crean's summons for assault was dismissed, and he was ordered
to pay £150 costs or to go to gaol for two months, whilst the police
magistrate who tried the case was shortly afterwards rewarded with the
Chief Magistracy of Dublin!

The Board of Erin now began to march south of the Boyne and to usurp
the functions of the United Irish League wherever it got a footing. It
was frankly out for jobs, preferments and patronage of all kinds, so
that even the dirty crew of place-hunting lawyers which Dublin Castle
had plentifully spoon-fed for over a century became its leaders and
gospellers, seeing that through it alone could they carve their way to
those goodly plums that maketh easy the path of the unctuous crawlers
in life--the creed of the Mollies, and it gained them followers
galore, being that nobody who was not a member of "the Ancient Order"
was eligible for even the meanest public office in the gift of the
Government or the elected of the people. Even a Crown Prosecutor, one
of the Castle "Cawtholic" tribe whose record of life-long antipathy to
the vital creed of Irish Nationality was notorious, now became a pious
follower of the new Order and was in due course "saved" by receiving
an exalted position in the judicial establishment of the country,
which owed nothing to his honour or his honesty. Under the auspices of
the Board of Erin "the shoneen"--the most contemptible of all our
Irish types--began to flourish amain. It was a great thing to be a
"Jay Pay" in the Irish country-side. It added inches to one's girth
and one's stature, and to the importance of one's "lady." It was
greatly coveted by the thousands who always pine to swagger in a
little brief authority, and thus the Board of Erin drew its adherents
from every low fellow who had an interest to serve, a dirty ambition
to satisfy, an office to gain or probably even a petty score to pay
off. No doubt there were many sincere and honest and enthusiastic
young men attracted to it by the charm of the secret sign and
password, and others who believed that its Catholic pomp and parade
made for the religious uplift of the people. But taken all in all, it
was unquestionably an evil influence in the lives of the people and it
degraded the fine inspiration of Nationality to a base sectarian
scramble for place and power.

Gone were the glorious ideals of a nobler day wherever it pushed out
its pernicious grip. Surrendered were the sterner principles which
instructed and enacted that the man who sought office or preferment
from a British Minister unfitted himself as a standard-bearer or even
a raw recruit in the ranks of Irish Nationality. The Irish birth-right
was bartered for a mess of pottage and, worst of all, the fine
instincts of Ireland's glorious youth were being corrupted and
perverted. The cry of "Up the Mollies!" became the watchword of the
new movement and the creed of selfishness and sectarianism supplanted
the evangel of self-denial and self-sacrifice. It was a time when
clear-sighted and earnest men almost lost hope, if they did not lose
faith. To be held in subjection by the tyranny of a stronger power was
a calamity of destiny to be resisted, but that the people should
themselves bind the chains of a more sordid tyranny of selfishness
around their spirits was wholly damnable and heart-breaking.

It was to fight this thing that Mr William O'Brien proposed yet
another crusade of light and liberty. As he founded the United Irish
League when the country was sunk in the uttermost depths of despair
and indifference, he now made a first gallant effort to establish a
new national organisation to preach a nobler creed of brotherhood and
reconciliation among all Irishmen, and to this he gave the appropriate
title of the All-for-Ireland League. The city and county of Cork
rallied to his side, with all the old-time fervour of Rebel Cork. The
inaugural meeting of the League was held in my native town, Kanturk,
and was splendidly attended by as gallant a body of Irishmen as could
be found in all Ireland--men who knew, as none others better, how to
fight, when fighting was the right policy, but who knew also, in its
proper season, when it was good to make peace. The Press, however,
shut its pages to the new movement and a complaisant Irish Party, now
utterly at the mercy of the Board of Erin, at a meeting specially
summoned for the purpose, passed a resolution of excommunication
against the new League and against every Member of Parliament who
should venture upon its platform, on the ground that it was usurping
the functions and authority of the United Irish League, which was now
nothing more than a cloak for the operations of the Board of Erin.

No human being could struggle under the mountain weight of
responsibility that now rested on the shoulders of Mr O'Brien. Wearied
by the monstrous labours and fights of many years, deserted by his own
colleague in the representation of Cork City, with the Nationalist
Press engaged in a policy of suppression and a system of secret
intimidation springing up all over the country, it would have been
madness for him to attempt to continue.

Accordingly he decided to quit the field again and to leave the clever
political manipulators in possession. After he had sent in his
application for the Chiltern Hundreds I came across specially from
Ireland to meet him at the Westminster Palace Hotel. It were meet not
to dwell upon our interview, for there are some things too sacred for
words. I know that he had then no intention of ever returning to
public life, and though he was obviously a man very, very ill, in the
physical sense, yet I could see it was the deeper wounds of the soul
that really mattered.

I have had sorrows in my life and deep afflictions, the scars of which
nothing on this earth can cure, yet I can say I never felt parting so
poignantly as with this friend, whom I loved most and venerated most
on earth. I returned to Ireland that night, not knowing whether I
should ever see the well-beloved face again. He went to Italy on the
morrow to seek peace and healing, away from the land to which he had
given more than a life's labour and devotion. He enjoined his friends
not to communicate with him, but he promised to watch from a distance,
and that if the occasion ever arose he would not see them cast to
destruction without effort of his duty made.

How well and generously he kept that promise these pages will show.



                               CHAPTER XVIII

                    A CAMPAIGN OF EXTERMINATION AND ITS
                                CONSEQUENCES


Mr O'Brien went abroad in March 1909, leaving his friends in
membership of the Irish Party. His last injunction to us was that we
should do nothing unnecessarily to draw down the wrath of "the bosses"
upon us and to work as well as we might in the circumstances
conscientiously for the Irish cause. I had some reputation, whether
deserved or otherwise, as a successful organiser, and I wrote to Mr
Redmond offering my services to re-establish the United Irish League
in my own constituency or in any other place where it was practically
moribund. I received a formal note of acknowledgment and heard not a
word more, nor was my offer ever availed of. On the contrary, the fiat
went forth that the constituencies of those who had for five years
remained staunch and steadfast to the policy of Conciliation should be
organised against them and that not a friend of Mr O'Brien should be
allowed to remain in public life. We were not yet actually cut off
from the Party or its financial perquisites, but in all other ways we
were treated as political pariahs and outcasts and made to feel that
there was a rod in pickle for us.

In the autumn of 1909 I was attending my law lectures in Dublin when
it was conveyed to me that a raid on my constituency was contemplated,
that the officials at the League headquarters in Dublin were, without
rhyme or reason, returning the affiliation fees of branches which were
known to be friendly to me, and that a Divisional Conference of my
enemies was summoned for the purpose of "organising" me out of
Mid-Cork. I immediately resolved that if the issue were to be knit at
all the sooner the better, and I took my own steps to circumvent the
machinations of those who were out, so to speak, for my blood. Hence
when the bogus delegates were brought together in Macroom one Saturday
afternoon a little surprise awaited them, for as they proceeded to the
Town Hall to deliberate their plans for my overthrow, another and a
more determined militant body, with myself at their head, also marched
on the same venue. There was a short and sharp encounter for
possession of the hall: the plotters put up a sorry fight; they were
soon routed, and my friends and myself held our meeting on the chosen
ground of our opponents. Moreover, Mr Denis Johnston, the Chief
Organiser of the League, who had come down from Dublin with all his
plans for my extermination cut and dried, dared not take the train
that evening in the ordinary course from the Macroom station, but,
like a thief in the night, stole out of the town in a covered car and
drove to a station farther on.

Thus began the foul attempt to exterminate Mr O'Brien's friends, who,
be it noted, were still members of the Irish Party, against whom no
crime was alleged or any charge of Party disloyalty preferred. The
funds of the League, its organisers and its executive machinery,
instead of being used for the advancement of the Irish movement along
constitutional lines, were brutally directed to the political
execution of Mr O'Brien's friends, who, now that he had gone for good,
and was reported to be in that state of physical breakdown which would
prevent him from ever again taking an active part in Irish affairs,
were supposed to be at the mercy of the big "pots" and their big
battalions.

Mr Maurice Healy, who had been elected for Cork City by an
overwhelming majority over the nominee of "the leaders" after Mr
O'Brien's retirement, was unconstitutionally and improperly refused
admission to the Party, although he was quite prepared to sign the
pledge to sit, act, and vote with it. There was scarcely a thing wrong
they could do which these blind leaders of the blind did not clumsily
attempt at this juncture. They might have shown us, whose only crime
was loyalty to principle and to a policy which had been signally
ratified by the repeated mandates of the people, a reasonable measure
of generosity and a frank fellowship and all would be well.

But no; we had committed the cardinal offence of preferring a policy
to a personality and, in famous phrase, we were marked down to "suffer
for it." Hordes of organisers were dispatched to our constituencies to
"pull the strings" against us. I can aver, with a certain malicious
satisfaction, that wherever they made their appearance in Cork, we met
them and we routed them. This may appear an ill way to conduct a
political campaign, but be it remembered that we were fighting for our
lives, almost resourceless, and that the aggressors had practically
limitless powers, financially and otherwise. I will mention one
incident to explain many. It was announced that Mr Redmond was to
speak at Banteer, on the borders of my constituency. I could not allow
that challenge to pass unnoticed without surrendering ground which it
would be impossible to recover; and so I took the earliest opportunity
of proclaiming that if Mr Redmond came to Banteer my friends and I
would be there to meet him. He never came! Meanwhile through a private
source--for none of his colleagues were in communication with him--Mr
O'Brien heard of the nefarious attempts that were being made to
exterminate his friends and he broke silence for the first time since
his retirement by despatching the following message to the Press
Association:--

"If these people are wise they will drop their campaign of vengeance
against my friends."

Doubtless "these people" thought this the threat of a man helpless
through illness, and not to be seriously noticed, for they went on
with their preparations, surreptitious and otherwise, for our
destruction, in suitable time and form. I will ever remember it with
pride and gratitude that the labourers of the south, the President of
whose Association I was, were gloriously staunch and loyal and that
there never was a demand I made upon them for support and
encouragement they did not magnificently respond to. They gave
repayment, in full measure and flowing over, for whatever little I was
able to accomplish in my lifetime for the alleviation of their lot and
the brightening of their lives.

Meanwhile the Party had matters all their own way, yet their only
"great" achievement was to get the Birrell Land Bill passed into law
and to put an end to the operations of the Purchase Act of 1903 which
was so rapidly transforming the face of the country. They also passed
for Mr Lloyd George what Mr Dillon termed "the great and good" Budget,
but which really added enormously to the direct taxation of
Ireland--imposing an additional burden of something not far from three
millions sterling on the backs of an already overtaxed country. But if
the people were plundered the place-hunters were placated. The Irish
Party had now become little better than an annexe of Liberalism. They
sat in Opposition because it was the tradition to do so, but in
reality they were the obsequious followers of a British Party and
browsing on its pasturage in the hope of better things to come.

Not far off were heard the rumblings of an approaching General
Election. There were the usual flutterings of the "ins" who wanted to
remain in, and of the "outs" who were anxious to taste the social
sweets and the personal pomp of the successful politician, who had got
the magic letters "M.P." to his name. It is wonderful what an appeal
it makes to the man who has made his "pile" somehow or anyhow (or who
wants to make it) to have the right to enter the sacred portals of
Westminster, but it is more wonderful still to see him when he gets
there become the mere puppet of the Party Whips, without an atom of
individual independence or a grain of useful initiative. The system
absorbs them and they become cogs in a machine, whose movements they
have little power of controlling or directing.

It was pretended by the leaders of the Nationalists that their
subservient surrender to the Liberal Party was a far-sighted move to
compel Mr Asquith and his friends to make Home Rule "the dominant
issue," as they termed it, at the General Election. The veto of the
House of Lords, the hitherto one intractable element of opposition to
Home Rule, was to go before long and the House of Commons, within
certain limits, would be in a position to impose its will as the
sovereign authority in the State. Yet it is the scarcely believable
fact that in all these precious months, and after all the servile
sycophancy they had given to the Liberals, neither Mr Redmond nor
those true-blue Liberals, Mr Dillon and Mr O'Connor, had ever sought
to extract from Mr Asquith an irrefragable statement of his intentions
regarding the Irish Question, or whether he and his Government
intended to make it a prime plank in the Liberal platform at the
polls. The rejection of the Budget by the Lords was made the real
issue before the electors, and little was heard of Home Rule, either
on the platform or in the Press. True, Mr Asquith made a vague and
non-committal reference to it at the Albert Hall on the eve of the
election, but the Liberal candidates, with extraordinary unanimity,
fought shy of it in every constituency, except where there was a
considerable Irish vote to be played up to, and one of the Liberal
Party Whips even went so far as to declare there was no Home Rule
engagement at all. Far different was it in other days, when Parnell
was in power. He would have pinned the Party to whom he was giving his
support down to a written compact, which could not be broken without
dishonour, and he would leave nothing to the mere emergencies and
expediencies of politics, which are only the gambler's dice in a
devil's game.

But the men of lesser calibre who had now the destiny of a nation in
their hands "trusted" in the good faith of the Liberals and in return
asked the country to "trust" them. There never was such a puckish game
played in history. Criticism was stifled and the people were told, and
no doubt in their innocence believed it, that Home Rule was already as
good as carried and that the dream of all the years was come true. Mr
Dillon was audaciously flying the flag of "Boer Home Rule as a
minimum," although he had not a scrap of authority or a line of
sanction for his pronouncements.

It seemed as if every friend of Mr O'Brien was to go under in the
campaign of opposition that was being elaborately carried out against
them. Our constituencies were swarming with paid organisers and men
and money galore were pouring in from outside, so that our downfall
and defeat should be made an absolute certainty.

It was in this crisis that the generous spirit of Mr O'Brien impelled
him to come to our assistance. For my own part I never had a doubt
that when the hour struck the champion of so many noble causes would
be found once again stoutly defending the men who had staked all for
the sake of principle, but who, without his aid, must be mercilessly
thrown to the wolves. We were in a most benighted state, without any
trace of organisation of our own (except that I had the Land and
Labour Association unflinchingly on my side), without any newspaper to
report our speeches, and with only the bravest of the brave to come
upon our platforms and say a good word for us. The outlook was as
bleak as it well could be, when suddenly, towards the end of December
1909, the joyous news reached us that "the hero of a hundred fights"
was about to throw himself into the breach on our behalf. Our enemies
laughed the rumour to scorn, but we knew better and we bided in
patience the coming of our man.

One stipulation, indeed, Mr O'Brien did make, that in coming to our
assistance it was not implied that he was to be a candidate himself
and that he was merely to deliver three speeches in Cork City to put
the issue clearly before the people. Matters had now reached so grave
a pitch that not only were Mr O'Brien's own friends to be attacked by
the "Board of Erin," which was now in complete control of the
machinery of the national organisation, but that every other Member of
Parliament who had not bent the knee to its occult omnipotence was to
be run out of public life without cause assigned. All this while there
was rumour and counter-rumour about Mr O'Brien's return. The
Dillonites up to the last moment believed we were playing a game of
bluff and went on right merrily with their preparations for making a
clean sweep of every man who was "suspect" of possessing an
independent mind. Then on one winter's night, shortly before the
election writs were issued, the doubters and the scoffers were once
and for all confounded. Mr O'Brien arrived in the city which was
always proud to do him honour, but which never more proudly did him
honour than on this occasion, when they mustered in their thousands at
the station and lined the streets, a frantic, cheering, enthusiastic
and madly joyous people, to see him back amongst them once again,
neither bent nor broken nor physically spent, but gloriously erect,
acknowledging the thunderous salutations of the tens of thousands who
loved him, even to the little children, with a love which was surely
compensation for many a bitter wound of injustice and ingratitude.



                               CHAPTER XIX

          A GENERAL ELECTION THAT LEADS TO A "HOME RULE" BILL!


It boots not to dwell at any great length on the contests that
followed. Suffice it to say that Irish manhood and Irish honesty
magnificently asserted itself against the audacious and unscrupulous
tactics of the Party plotters. Mr O'Brien, by a destiny there was no
resisting, was forced into the fight in Cork City and emerged
victoriously from the ordeal, as well as winning also in North-East
Cork. In my own case, except for the splendid and most generous
assistance given me by Mr Jeremiah O'Leary, the leading citizen of
Macroom, who shared all the labours and all the anxieties of my
campaign, I was left to fight my battle almost single-handed, having
arrayed against me two canons of my Church and every Catholic
clergyman in the constituency, with two or three notable exceptions.
The odds seemed hopeless, but the result provides the all-sufficient
answer to those who say that the Irish Catholic vote can be controlled
under all circumstances by the priests, for I scored a surprising
majority of 825 in a total poll of about 4500, and I have good reason
for stating that 95 per cent. of the illiterate votes were cast in my
favour, although a most powerful personal canvass was made of every
vote in the constituency by the clergy.

I consider this incident worthy of special emphasis in view of the
ignorant and malicious statements of English and Unionist publicists,
who make it a stock argument against the grant of independence to
Ireland that the Catholics will vote as they are bidden by their
priests. I have sufficient experience and knowledge of my countrymen
to say that whilst in troublous times the Irish soggarths were the
natural leaders and protectors of their flocks, even to the peril of
their lives, yet in these times, when other conditions prevail, whilst
in religion remaining staunchly loyal to their faith and its teachers,
when it comes to a question of political principle there is no man in
all the world who can be so independently self-assertive as the Irish
Catholic. There is nothing to fear for Ireland, either now or in the
future, from what I may term clericalism in politics, whilst on the
other hand it is earnestly to be hoped that nothing will ever happen
to intrude unnecessarily the question or authority of religion in the
domain of more mundane affairs.

Mr O'Brien sums up the result of the General Election briefly thus:

"When the smoke of battle cleared away, nevertheless, every friend of
mine, against whom this pitiless cannonade of vengeance had been
directed, stood victorious on the field, and it was the conspirators
who a few weeks before deemed themselves unshakable in the mastery of
Ireland who, to their almost comic bewilderment and dismay, found
themselves and their boasts rolled in the dust. Not only did every man
for whose destruction they had thrown all prudence to the winds find
his way back to Parliament in their despite, but in at least eighteen
other constituencies their plots to replace members under any
suspicion of independence with reliables absolutely amenable to the
signs and passwords of the Order resulted in their being blown
sky-high with their own petards.... Messrs Dillon and Devlin led their
demoralised forces back, seventy in place of eighty-three, and for the
first time since 1885 they went back a minority of the Nationalist
votes actually cast as between the policy of Conciliation and the
policy of _Væ Victis_."

Mr O'Brien had established a campaign sheet during the election called
_The Cork Accent_ (as a sort of reminder of the "Baton"
Convention, at which the order was given that no one with a "Cork
accent" should be allowed near the platform), and surely never did
paper render more brilliant service in an exceptional emergency. It
was his intention that his attitude in the new Parliament should be
one of "patient observation" and of steady but unaggressive allegiance
to the principles of national reconciliation. But such a rôle was
rendered impossible by the active hostility of Mr Dillon and his
followers. The doors of the Party were shut and banged against every
man who was independently elected by the voters. It was proclaimed
that we would be helpless in the country without organisation or
newspaper to support us and that we would be left even without the
means of travelling to London to represent our constituents.

We could not sit inactively under this decree of annihilation. It was
decided to continue _The Cork Accent_ in a permanent form as a
daily journal under the title of _The Cork Free Press_, which was
founded at a public meeting presided over by the Lord Mayor. The
All-for-Ireland League was also established to advocate and expound
the principles for which we stood in Irish life. Its purposes are
clearly stated in the resolution which gave it birth--viz.:

"That inasmuch as we regard self-Government in purely Irish affairs,
the transfer of the soil to the cultivators upon just terms, and the
relief of Ireland from intolerable over-taxation as essential
conditions of happiness and prosperity for our country, and further
inasmuch as we believe the surest means of effecting these objects to
be a combination of all the elements of the Irish population in a
spirit of mutual tolerance and patriotic good will, such as will
guarantee to the Protestant minority of our fellow-countrymen
inviolable security for all their rights and liberties and win the
friendship of the entire people of Great Britain, this representative
meeting of the City and County of Cork hereby establishes an
Association to be called the All-for-Ireland League, whose primary
object shall be the union and active co-operation in every department
of our national life of all Irish men and women who believe in the
principle of domestic self-government for Ireland."

The All-for-Ireland League made memorable progress in a brief space of
time. Mr O'Brien's return to public life was hailed even by the late
W.T. Stead in _The Westminster Gazette_ as nothing short of a
great political resurrection. The noble appeal of the League's
programme to the chivalrous instincts of the race attracted the young
men to its side with an enthusiasm amounting to an inspiration. The
Protestant minority in Southern Ireland were being gradually won over
to a genuine confidence in our motives and generous intentions to
safeguard fully their interests and position and to secure them an
adequate part in the future government of our common country. Even the
great British parties began to see in the new movement hopes of that
peace and reconciliation between Great Britain and Ireland which must
be the hope of all just and broad-minded statesmanship.

It was in these circumstances that the Party surrendered "at discretion"
to the expediencies of Liberalism, abjectly waiving their position as an
independent entity in Parliament, with no shadow of the pride and spirit
of the Parnell period left, seeming to exist for the favours and bonuses
that came their way, and for the rest playing to the gallery in Ireland
by telling them that Home Rule was coming "at no far distant date," and
that they had only to trust to Asquith and all would be well. Never had
a Party such a combination of favourable circumstances to command
success. They possessed a strategical advantage such as Parnell would
have given his life for--they held the balance of power and they could
order the Government to do their bidding or quit. Yet instead of
regarding themselves as the ambassadors of a nation claiming its liberty
they seemed to be obsessed with a criminal selfishness passing all
possible belief. When it was proposed to make Members of Parliament
stipendiaries of the State, they at first protested vehemently against
the application of this principle to the Irish representatives, and
therein they were right. From a purely democratic standpoint no
reasonable objection can be urged against the payment of those who give
their time and talent to the public service, but Ireland was in
different case. Her representatives were at Westminster unwillingly,
not to assist in the government of the Empire with gracious intent, but
rather definitely to obstruct, impede and hamper this government until
Ireland's inalienable right to self-government was conceded, and
therefore it was their clear duty to say that they would accept payment
only from the country and the people they served and that they cast back
this Treasury bribe in the teeth of those who offered it. But having
ostentatiously resolved that they would never accept a Parliamentary
stipend, they finally allowed their virtuous resistance to temptation to
be overcome and voted for "payment of members," which, without their
votes, would never have been adopted by the House of Commons. There were
placemen now in Parliament, and place-hunting was no longer a pastime to
be proscribed amongst Nationalists. It may be there was no wilful
corruption in thus accepting from the common purse of the United Kingdom
payment which was made to all Members of Parliament alike, but it
deprived the Irish people of control of their representatives and handed
them over to the control of the English Treasury, and thus opened the
way to the downfall of Parliamentarianism in Ireland that rapidly set
in. Abandoned all too lightly was the rigid principle that to accept
favours from England was to betray Ireland, and the pursuit of place and
patronage was esteemed as not being inconsistent with a pure patriotism.

Furthermore, as if to cap the climax of their imbecilities and
blunders, the Irish Party allowed the first precious year of their
mastery of Parliament to be devoted to the passage of an Insurance Act
which nobody in Ireland outside the job-seekers wanted, which every
independent voice in the country, including a unanimous Bench of
Bishops, protested against, and whose only recommendation was that it
provided a regular deluge of well-paid positions for the votaries of
the secret sectarian society that had the country in its vicious grip.
Such a debauch of sham Nationalism as now ensued was never paralleled
in the worst period of Ireland's history, and that this should be done
in the name of patriotism was not its least degrading feature. Nemesis
could not fail to overtake this conscious sin against the national
ideal. It met with its own condign punishment before many years were
over. To show the veritable depths of baseness to which the so-called
National Movement had fallen it need only be stated that it was
charged against their official organ--_The Freeman's Journal
_--that no less than eighteen members of its staff had obtained
positions of profit under the Crown, including a Lord Chancellorship,
an Under-secretaryship, Judgeships, Crown Prosecutorships, University
Professorships, Resident Magistracies, Local Government
Inspectorships, etc. In this connection it is also worthy of mention
that when the premises of this concern were burnt out in the course of
the Easter Week Rebellion it was reendowed for "national" purposes,
with a Treasury grant of £60,000, being twice the amount which the
then directors of the _Freeman_ confessed to be the business
value of the property.

Thus did the "Board of Erin" attract to its side all the most selfish
and disreputable elements in Irish Catholic life, and thus also did it
repel and disgust the more broad-minded and tolerant Protestant
patriots whom the All-for-Ireland programme, under happier
circumstances, would have undoubtedly won over to the side of Home
Rule. Much might even yet be forgiven to the men who had the destiny
of Ireland in their hands if they had shown any striking capacity to
exact a measure of self-government sufficiently big and broad to
justify the national demand as then understood. But they showed
neither strength nor wisdom, neither courage nor sagacity in their
dealings with the English Liberal leaders and old Parliamentary hands
against whom they were pitted. They were hopelessly out-manoeuvred and
overmatched at every stage of the game. It is but just to state that
the members of the Party as a whole had scarcely an atom of
responsibility for these miserable failures and defects of policy.
They owed their election to "the machine." They were the complaisant
bondsmen of the secret Order. Whatever they felt they dared not utter
a word which would bring the wrath of "the Bosses" upon their heads.
They were never candidly consulted as to tactics or strategy, or even
first principles.

The decisions of the little ring of three or four who dominated the
situation within the Party were sometimes, it may be, submitted to
them for their formal approval, but more often than otherwise this
show of formal courtesy was not shown them. The position of Mr Redmond
was most humiliating of all. He did not lack many of the qualities
which might have made for greatness in leadership, but he did
undoubtedly lack the quality of backbone and that strength of
character to assert himself and to maintain his own position without
which no man can be truly considered great. Whenever it came to an
issue between them it is well known he had to submit his judgment and
to bend his will to the decision of the three others--Messrs Dillon,
Devlin and T.P. O'Connor--who must historically be held responsible
for the mistakes and weaknesses and horrible blunders of those years,
which no self-respecting Irishman of the future can ever look back
upon without a shudder of horror.

The Home Rule Bill, which was the product of those shameful years of
debility and disgrace, was so poor and paltry a thing as to be almost
an insult to Irish patriotism and intelligence. It proposed to
establish merely a nominal Parliament in Dublin. It was financially
unsound, besides being a denial of Ireland's right to fix and levy her
own taxes. As a matter of fact, the power of taxation was rigorously
maintained at Westminster with a reduced Irish representation of
two-thirds. And this was the measure which was proclaimed to be
greater than Grattan's Parliament or than any of the previous Home
Rule Bills! Furthermore, it made no provision for the completion of
land purchase, but Mr Asquith was not really to be blamed for this, as
Mr Dillon proclaimed that one of the great attractions of the Bill was
that it would leave the remnant of the landlords to be dealt with by
him and his obedient henchmen. Finally, neither the Liberal Party nor
their faithful Irish supporters would hear of any concessions to
Ulster.

These people were now so arrogant in the fancied security and strength
of their position to do just as they pleased that Mr Redmond rashly
undertook "to put down Ulster with the strong hand" and rather
prematurely declared: "There is no longer an Ulster difficulty." One
further financial infamy the Bill perpetrated. The twenty millions
sterling which were, under the Land Purchase Act of 1903, to have been
a free Imperial grant to lubricate the wheels of agrarian settlement,
was henceforth and by a "Home Rule Government" to be audaciously
charged as a debt against Ireland. And this, be it noted, was part of
the pact come to with the "Nationalist" leaders at the Downing Street
breakfast-table, where Ireland's fate was sealed, and which they
joyously supported in the House of Commons against such opposition as
the All-for-Ireland minority was allowed to give it by the ruthless
application of the guillotine.

The Independent Nationalist members were willing to make the best of a
very "bad bargain," if only they could succeed in getting adopted
three amendments which they regarded as vital to the success of the
measure: (1) A new financial plan; (2) the completion of land
purchase, and (3) such concessions as would win the consent of Ulster.
But our reward for thus endeavouring to make the Bill adaptable to
Irish requirements and acceptable to the whole of Ireland was to be
dubbed "factionists" and "traitors" by the official Irish Party, who
never once during three years' debates in Parliament made the
slightest attempt to amend or improve the Bill, but who remained
silent and impotent as graven images on the Irish benches whilst the
way was being paved for all the ruin and desolation and accumulated
horrors that have since come to Ireland through their compliant and
criminal imbecility.

They had a perfect Parliamentary unity; they certainly seemed to have
the most perfect understanding with their Liberal friends, but they
had no more claim to represent an independent, vigilant,
self-respecting nation than they had to represent, say, "Morocco"!



                               CHAPTER XX

                     THE RISE OF SIR EDWARD CARSON


"The question I put to myself is this: In the years of failure, where
have we gone wrong? What are the mistakes we have made? What has been
the root cause of our failure? The Lord Chancellor was perfectly frank
so far as the Unionists were concerned. He said, indeed, that he was
still a Unionist, but he had come to the conclusion that the
maintenance of the Union was impossible. What lesson have we who have
been Home Rulers to draw from the past? I think the mistake we made in
the beginning was that we did not sufficiently realise the absolute
necessity of taking into consideration the feeling of Ulster."

These notable words were spoken by Viscount Grey of Falloden in the
debate in the House of Lords on the Partition Bill on 24th November
1920. A more remarkable vindication of All-for-Ireland principles and
a more utter condemnation of the egregious folly of our opponents it
is not possible to imagine, coming especially from so clear and
calm-minded a statesman as the former Liberal Foreign Secretary. The
root principles upon which Mr O'Brien and his friends proceeded from
the start were that success was to be had by making an Irish
settlement depend, in the first place, upon the co-operation of a
million of our Protestant countrymen, and next by enlisting the
co-operation of both British parties, instead of making the Irish
Question the exclusive possession of one English Party. These two
principles are now universally acknowledged to be the wise ones, yet
when we were urging them in the Home Rule debates we could find no
support from the Liberal-Irish cohorts, and although we sedulously
devoted ourselves to urging a non-party programme and the conciliation
of the Protestant minority--about which all parties are now agreed--we
only received vilification and calumny for our portion.

Great play is being made by distinguished converts within the past few
years of Dominion Rule as if they were the discoverers of this blessed
panacea for Ireland's ills, but it is proper to recall that the
All-for-Ireland Party specifically proposed Dominion Home Rule in a
letter to Mr Asquith in 1911 as the wisest of all solutions. Scant
attention was paid to our recommendation then and it is not even
remembered for us by the protagonists of a later time. In all our
efforts to conciliate Ulster and to allay the alarms it undoubtedly
felt owing to the growth and aggressiveness of the Catholic Order of
Orangeism, we never received encouragement or support from the
Government or the Irish Party. On the contrary, they denounced as
treason to Ireland the proposal made by us that for an experimental
term of five years the Ulster Party, which would remain in the
Imperial Parliament, should have the right of appeal as against any
Irish Bill of which they did not approve, the decision to be given
within one month. This, we held, would have been a more effectual
safeguard than any proposed since to satisfy Irish Unionists that
legislative oppression would have been impossible.

Other proposals of a representation in the Irish Parliament
proportioned to their numbers and of guarantees against the
establishment of any Tammany system of spoils in favour of the secret
sectarian association were also submitted. But all our overtures for a
peace based on reasonable concessions were repudiated by the official
Party and contemptuously rejected by them and we were held up to
public obloquy as proposing to subject Ireland to the veto of fourteen
Orangemen.

In the early stages of the opposition to Home Rule, curiously enough
Sir Edward Carson did not count as a figure of any particular power or
malignancy. True, he had his early period of notoriety in Ireland when
he acted as a Crown Prosecutor under the Crimes Act. But when he
transferred his legal and political ambition to England it is alleged
that he was for a season a member of the National Liberal Club and was
thus entitled to be ranked as a Liberal in politics. Whether through
conviction or otherwise, his allegiance appears to have been promptly
and permanently transferred to the Unionist Party, but even then he
was in no sense regarded as an Ulster Member--he is himself a Southern
Irishman by birth--and in the House of Commons comported himself as a
good Unionist, holding office as such. It was only when the Irish
Party set their faces sternly against any concessions to Ulster that
Sir Edward Carson stepped into the breach and came to the front as the
duly elected leader of the Ulster Party. It is the sheerest nonsense
and pure ignorance of the facts to say that Sir Edward Carson created
the Ulster difficulty. It was created by the statesmen and politicians
who, in the words of Viscount Grey, "did not sufficiently realise the
absolute necessity of taking into consideration the feeling of
Ulster." When the full history of this period is written, and when
documents at present confidential are available, I believe it will be
shown that if the concessions and safeguards suggested by the
All-for-Ireland Party had been offered by the Government or the Irish
Party in the earlier stages of the Home Rule controversy they would
have been, in the main, acceptable to Ulster Unionist opinion. I well
remember Mr (now Mr Justice) Moore declaring, from his place on the
Ulster benches:

"My friends and myself have always marvelled at the fatuity of the
Irish Party in throwing over the member for the City of Cork (Mr
William O'Brien) when he had all the cards in his hands."

Where we preached all reasonable concession and conciliation our
opponents proclaimed that Ulster must submit itself unconditionally to
the law and that it must content itself in the knowledge that
"minorities must suffer." And all this while the Board of Erin
Hibernians were consolidating their position as the ascendant
authority in Irish life, from whom the Protestant minority might not,
without some reason, in looking back on their own bad past, expect
that it would be taken out of them when the Catholics got into power.
Thus in very real fear and terror of their disabilities under an Irish
Parliament, which would be elected and dominated by a secret sectarian
organisation, they entered into the famous Ulster Covenant and
solemnly swore to resist Home Rule and to raise a Volunteer Army for
the purpose of giving force and effect to their resistance. The visit
of Mr Winston Churchill to Belfast early in 1912 to address a
Nationalist meeting there was an aggravation of the situation and
there was a time during his progress through the city when his motor
car was in imminent danger of being upset and when it was surrounded
by a howling and enraged mob of Orangemen, who shouted the fiercest
curses and threats at him. As a result of this experience Mr Churchill
was never afterwards a very enthusiastic supporter of what came to be
called "the coercion of Ulster."

Meanwhile Mr Churchill's most ill-advised visit, from the point of
view of political tactics, was just the thing required to raise all
the worst elements of Orangeism and to give its best fillip to the
signing of the Covenant, which proceeded apace, not only in Ulster,
but in Great Britain, even to the extent that the army was said to be
honey-combed with sworn Covenanters, contrary to all the rules and
doctrines of military law and discipline. And in due course, in reply
to the challenge of Mr Churchill's visit the leader of the Unionist
Party, Mr Bonar Law, visited Balmoral, near Belfast, and reviewed from
80,000 to 100,000 Ulster Volunteers, who marched past him in military
order, and saluted. Sir Edward Carson made the meeting repeat after
him the pledge: "We will never in any circumstances submit to Home
Rule."

The Unionist Party was now solidly and assertively on the side of
Ulster in its opposition to Home Rule. They held a demonstration at
Blenheim on 27th July 1912, when some three thousand delegates from
political associations, invited by the Duke of Marlborough, were
present. Mr Bonar Law described the Liberal Ministry as a
revolutionary committee which had seized by fraud on despotic power,
and declared that the Unionist Party would use whatever means seemed
likely to be most effective. He made the declaration that Ireland was
two nations, a theory which, strangely enough, Mr Lloyd George, as
Coalition Premier, advocated eight years later. He went on to say that
the Ulster people would submit to no ascendancy and "he could imagine
no lengths of resistance to which they might go in which he would not
be ready to support them" and in which they would not be supported by
the overwhelming majority of the British people.

In Parliament a few weeks later Mr Asquith described Mr Bonar Law's
speech as a declaration of war against Constitutional Government, but
the Ulstermen went on calmly making their preparations for levying war
and Sir Edward Carson and his friends coolly delivered speeches which
reeked of sedition and treason against the State. Sir Edward Carson
declared (27th July 1912): "We will shortly challenge the Government.
They shall us if they like it is treason. We are prepared to take the
consequences." And again he said (1st October 1912): "The
Attorney-General says that my doctrines and the course I am taking
lead to anarchy. Does he not think I know that?" And that fine
exemplar of constitutional law, Mr F.E. Smith (now Lord Chancellor of
England) said: "Supposing the Government gave such an order the
consequences can only be described in the words of Mr Bonar Law when
he said: 'If they did so it would not be a matter of argument but the
population of London would lynch you on the lamp-posts.'" Ulster
scarcely needed these incitements to encourage it in its definite
purpose of armed resistance to Home Rule. It began to organise and
discipline its army of Volunteers under able military leaders who
subsequently demonstrated their capacity in no uncertain fashion,
under the tests of actual warfare on many fields of battle. With the
knowledge we now possess it seems scarcely believable that Mr Redmond
and his friends should have professed to treat what was happening in
Ulster as "a gigantic game of bluff." They joked pleasantly over the
drilling of the Ulster Volunteers with "wooden guns," and they only
asked that the Government should "Let the police and soldiers stand
aside and make a ring and you will hear no more of the wooden gunmen."
Ribaldry and gibes of this sort in the face of open and avowed treason
was but a poor substitute for that firm statesmanship which should
have grappled with the Ulster difficulty in either of two ways--to
come to terms with it or, in the alternative, beat all unruly
opposition to the ground.

Mr Asquith is blamed because he did not put the law in operation
against Sir Edward Carson, proclaim his illegal organisation of
Volunteers and deal with him and his friends as a people seditious and
disaffected towards the State, who, by their acts and conduct, had
invited and merited the traitors' doom. But Mr Devlin declared not
long after in Parliament that the reason why Mr Asquith did not move
was because he and his friends would not allow him. Whence this
extraordinary tenderness for the man who was thwarting and defying
them at every point, it is not possible to say. No doubt the Ministry
knew themselves in the wrong in that they had not considered the
position of Ulster and had not attempted to legislate for their just
fears. It is beyond question that there were conditions upon which the
consent of Ulster could have been secured. If, these conditions being
offered, this consent was unreasonably withheld, then the Government
would have been absolutely justified in throttling Sir Edward Carson's
preparations for rebellion before they had gained any ground or
effective shape. But the weakness of the Liberal-Irish position was
that they would not bring themselves to admit that the All-for-Ireland
policy of Conciliation and a settlement by Conference and Consent was
right.

Meanwhile, with a weak Irish administration in charge of Mr Birrell as
Chief Secretary--most amiable of _litterateurs_, but most
imbecile of politicians--the Ulster opposition was allowed to harden
into potential violence and civil war. "Engagements" between the
Orangemen and the Hibernians began to form a sort of political
amusement in the north of Ireland. The cries of religious and race
hatred were allowed to devour the sweeter gospel of reconciliation and
the recognition of a common country and that communion of right and
interest between all classes and creeds which was the evangel of Wolfe
Tone and other northern Protestant patriots in sublimer days. Matters
were drifting from bad to worse under the fatal weakness and
irresolution of the Government. So little fear had Sir Edward Carson
of any penal consequences to himself that he declared, on the 7th
September 1913:

"We will set up a Government [of their own as provided for in the
Ulster Covenant]. I am told it will be illegal. Of course it will.
Drilling is illegal. The Government dare not interfere."

And he was right! It did not interfere. And the Ulster Volunteers
began to provide themselves with arms and ammunition and to organise
themselves for actual war conditions. There were no more feeble jokes
about "wooden guns" and "making a free ring"--as if it were to be
only an ordinary pugilistic encounter and of no account. In 1913 the
Ulster Volunteer Force was said to be well armed and probably better
drilled than the northern regiments at the outbreak of the American
War of Secession.

Official nationalism was, though it knew it not, passing through the
gates of disaster. It was still able to maintain its hold on the old
stagers who were grafted on to it for various reasons, and the Board
of Erin was still able to count on the fidelity of those who believed
in the secret sign and watchword as the avenue to place and
preferment.

The Government of Ireland Bill was merrily pursuing its three years'
course through Parliament--passed by the House of Commons and rejected
by the House of Lords after the usual farce and formality of debates
which had very little reality in them. What counted was that Ulster
was in arms and determined to resist and that "the Home Rule
Government" had proved themselves incapable either of conceding or of
resisting. Other things began to count also in Ireland. The young
manhood of Nationalist Ireland, seeing the liberties of their country
menaced by force, decided to organise themselves into a corps of Irish
Volunteers to defend these liberties from wanton aggression. The
Transport Workers' Strike in Dublin, in 1913, under Mr James Larkin,
also showed the existence of a powerful body of organised opinion,
which cared little for ordinary political methods and which was
clearly disaffected to the Party leaders. Forces were being loosed
that had long been held in check by the power of the place-hunting and
sectarian "constitutional" movement asserting and enforcing its
authority, through unscrupulous methods already described, to speak
and act on behalf of the people. If Sir Edward Carson had risen to
power through open and flagrant defiance of all constituted right and
authority, there were others who were not slow to copy his methods.
The Irish Party may denounce him in Parliament as a disloyal subject
of the Crown, but there were young Nationalists in Southern Ireland,
aye, even in Rebel Cork, who sincerely raised cheers for him because
he had shown them, as they believed, the better way "to save Ireland."
The Government could not make one law for the North and another for
the South. If it allowed the Orangemen to drill and arm it could not
well interfere with the Nationalists if they took a leaf out of their
book and proceeded to act in like manner. And thus are the destinies
of people and the fate of nations decided. In preparing for civil war
Sir Edward Carson gave that spur of encouragement to Germany that it
just needed to rush it into a world war. And for how much else he is
responsible in Ireland every faithful student of current history
knows!



                               CHAPTER XXI

               SINN FEIN--ITS ORIGINAL MEANING AND PURPOSE


Sinn Fein had a comparatively small and unimportant beginning. It was
not heralded into existence by any great flourish of trumpets nor for
many years had it any considerable following among the masses of the
Nationalists. It is more than doubtful, if there had been normal
political progress in Ireland, whether Sinn Fein would ever have made
itself into a great movement. It was, in the first instance, the
disappointments and humiliations which the debilitated Irish Party had
brought to the national movement and the utter disrepute into which
Parliamentarianism had fallen as a consequence that moved the thoughts
of Ireland's young manhood to some nobler and better way of serving
the Motherland. But it was the rebellion of Easter Week which
crystallised and fused all these various thoughts and ideals into one
direct channel of action and made Sinn Fein the mightiest national
force that has perhaps arisen in Ireland since first the English set
foot upon our shores for purposes of conquest.

Sinn Fein, as a political organisation, did not exist until 1905, but
the originator of it, Mr Arthur Griffith, had established in Dublin,
in 1899, a weekly paper called _The United Irishman_. This was
the title of the paper which John Mitchell had founded to advocate the
policy of the Young Irelanders and was, therefore, supposed to favour
to some extent a movement along those lines. Its appeal was mainly to
the young and intellectual and to those extremists who were out of
harmony with the moderate demands of the Parliamentary Party. Its
first editorial gave an index to its teachings and aims. "There
exists," it declared, "has existed for centuries and will continue to
exist in Ireland a conviction hostile to the subjection or dependence
of the fortunes of this country to the necessities of any other; we
intend to voice that conviction. We bear no ill-will to any section of
the Irish political body, whether its flag be green or orange, which
holds that tortuous paths are the safest for Irishmen to tread; but
knowing we are governed by a nation which religiously adheres to 'the
good old rule, the simple plan, that those may take who have the power
and those may keep who can,' we, with all respect for our friends who
love the devious ways, are convinced that an occasional exhibition of
the naked truth will not shock the modesty of Irishmen and that a
return to the straight road will not lead us to political
destruction.... In these later days we have been diligently taught
that, by the law of God, of Nature and of Nations, we are rightfully
entitled to the establishment in Dublin of a legislative assembly,
with an expunging angel watching over its actions from the Viceregal
Lodge. We do not deprecate the institution of any such body, but we do
assert that the whole duty of an Irishman is not comprised in
utilising all the forces of his nature to procure its inception." It
continued: "With the present-day movements outside politics we are in
more or less sympathy," and it particularly specified the Financial
Reformers and the Gaelic League, adding, however: "We would regret any
insistence on a knowledge of Gaelic as a test of patriotism." Finally
it said: "Lest there might be any doubt in any mind, we will say that
we accept the Nationalism of '98, '48 and '67 as the true Nationalism,
and Grattan's cry 'Live Ireland. Perish the Empire' as the watchword
of patriotism." Thus its creed was the absolute independence of
Ireland, and though it did not advocate the methods of armed
revolution, it opened its columns to those Nationalists who did. It
preached particularly the doctrine of self-reliance and independence.
It attached more importance to moral qualities than to mere political
action. It was free in its criticism of persons or parties who it
considered were setting up false standards for the guidance of the
people. It derided the policy of the Irish Party as "half-bluster and
half-whine," and when Mr Redmond spoke rhetorically of "wringing from
whatever Government may be in power the full measure of a nation's
rights," it bluntly told him he was talking "arrant humbug." It made
the development of Irish industries one of the foremost objects of its
advocacy. It courageously attacked the Catholic clergy for the faults
it saw, or thought it saw, in them. They were told they took no
effective steps to arrest emigration--that they next to the British
Government were responsible for the depopulation of the country; that
they failed to encourage Irish trade and manufactures and that they
"made life dull and unendurable for the people." And so on and so
forth it continued its criticisms with remarkable candour and
consistency.

It came early into conflict with the Castle authorities on account of
its vigorous propaganda against recruiting for the army and it
published the text of an anti-recruiting pamphlet for the distribution
of which prosecutions were instituted. It was found difficult,
however, to obtain convictions against those who distributed these
pamphlets, and even in Belfast a jury refused to bring in a conviction
on this charge at the instance of the Crown. _The United
Irishman_ was seized by the authorities and only got an excellent
advertisement into the bargain.

Meanwhile an organisation of Irishmen who shared the views of the
paper was being gradually evolved, and in 1900 the first steps were
taken in the foundation of Cumann na n Gaedhal. Its objects were to
advance the cause of Ireland's national independence by (1)
cultivating a fraternal spirit amongst Irishmen; (2) diffusing
knowledge of Ireland's resources and supporting Irish industries; (3)
the study and teaching of Irish history, literature, language, music
and art; (4) the assiduous cultivation and encouragement of Irish
games, pastimes and characteristics; (5) the discountenancing of
anything tending towards the Anglicisation of Ireland; (6) the
physical and intellectual training of the young; (7) the development
of an Irish foreign policy; (8) extending to each other friendly
advice and aid, socially and politically; (9) the nationalisation of
public boards. It was felt, however, that the ends of Cumann na n
Gaedhal were remote and that something more was needed to bring the
new policy into more intimate connection with political facts. This
was supplied by Mr A. Griffith when he outlined, in October, 1902,
what came to be known afterwards as the Hungarian policy. This policy
was, in effect, a demand that the members of the Irish Parliamentary
should abstain from attendance at Westminster, which was declared to
be "useless, degrading and demoralising," and should adopt the policy
of the Hungarian Deputies of 1861 and, "refusing to attend the British
Parliament or to recognise its right to legislate for Ireland, remain
at home to help in promoting Ireland's interests and to aid in
guarding its national rights."

A pamphlet by Mr Griffith, entitled _The Resurrection of
Hungary_, was prepared and published, which expounded the details of
the new policy. Mr R.M. Henry, in his admirable book, _The
Evolution of Sinn Fein_ (to which I express my indebtedness for
much of what appears in this chapter), tells us that the pamphlet, as
a piece of propaganda, was a failure, and produced no immediate or
widespread response. Mr Henry also takes exception to the fact of Mr
Griffith putting forward the Hungarian policy as an original idea. "It
had," he writes, "been advocated and to a certain extent practised in
Ireland long before the Hungarian Deputies adopted it," and he quotes
matter to show that Thomas Davis was the real author of the policy of
Parliamentary abstention and wonders why the credit was not given to
the Irishman instead of the Hungarian Franz Deák.

The claim of Mr Griffith at this stage was that the independence of
Ireland was to be based not upon force but upon law and the
constitution of 1782: "His claim was not a Republic, but a national
constitution under an Irish Crown" (Mr R.M. Henry). Finally _Sinn
Fein_, which, literally translated, means "Ourselves," was formally
inaugurated at a meeting held in Dublin on 28th November 1905, under
the chairmanship of Mr Edward Martyn and was defined as: "National
self-development through the recognition of the rights and duties of
citizenship on the part of the individual and by the aid and support
of all movements originating from within Ireland, instinct with
national tradition and not looking outside Ireland for the
accomplishment of their aims."

Sinn Fein had now formally constituted itself into a distinct Party,
with a definite policy of its own, and _The United Irishman_
ceasing to exist, a new organ was established, called _Sinn
Fein_. But though Mr Griffith may found a Party, he was not so
fortunate in getting followers. The Parliamentarians had not yet begun
to make that mess of their position which they did so lamentably
later. That self-reliant spirit was not abroad which came when a
manlier generation arose to take their stand for Ireland.

Canon Hannay paints a peculiarly unpleasant picture of the state of
Ireland at this time. "Never," he writes, "in her history was Ireland
less inclined to self-reliance. The soul of the country was debauched
with doles and charities. An English statesman might quite truthfully
have boasted that Ireland would eat out of his hand. The only thing
which troubled most of us was that the hand, whether we licked it or
snarled at it, was never full enough. The idea of self-help was
intensely unpleasant, and as for self-sacrifice!" The note of
exclamation sufficiently conveys the writer's meaning.

The Sinn Fein organisation as a national movement made very little
progress and exercised no considerable influence in affairs. But its
principles undoubtedly spread, particularly among the more earnest and
enthusiastic young men in the towns. The one Parliamentary election it
contested--that of North Leitrim, where the sitting member, Mr C.J.
Dolan, resigned, declared himself a convert to the new movement and
offered himself for re-election--proved a costly failure. It
established a daily edition of _Sinn Fein_, but this also had no
success and had to be dropped. For some following years Sinn Fein
could be said merely to exist as a name and nothing more. The country
had dangled before it the project of the triumph of Parliamentarianism
and it discouraged all criticism of "the Party," no matter how just,
honest or well-intended. In April 1910, _Sinn Fein_ announced, on
behalf of its Party, that Mr John Redmond, having now the chance of a
lifetime to obtain Home Rule, "will be given a free hand, without a
word said to embarrass him." Sinn Fein took no part in the elections
of 1910. "This," says Mr Henry, "was not purely an act of
self-sacrifice. In fact, Sinn Fein was never at so low an ebb." Its
attitude towards the Home Rule, which now seemed inevitable, was
stated as follows:--"No scheme which the English Parliament may pass
in the near future will satisfy Sinn Fein--no legislature created in
Ireland which is not supreme and absolute will offer a basis for
concluding a final settlement with the foreigners who usurp the
Government of this country. But any measure which gives genuine, if
even partial, control of their own affairs to Irishmen shall meet with
no opposition from us and should meet with no opposition from any
section of Irishmen."

From now onward until 1914 the Sinn Fein Movement was practically
moribund and its name was scarcely heard of. When it appeared again as
an active force it was not the old Sinn Fein Movement that was there.
As Canon Hannay justly remarks: "It cannot be said with any accuracy
that Sinn Fein won Ireland. Ireland took over Sinn Fein. Indeed,
Ireland took over very little of Sinn Fein except the name." And this
is the literal truth.



                               CHAPTER XXII

                  LABOUR BECOMES A POWER IN IRISH LIFE


In the play and interplay of movements and events at this time in
Ireland we cannot leave out of account the Labour Movement--that is,
the official Trade Union organisation as distinct from the Labourers'
Association. Hitherto it had mainly concerned itself with industrial
and social questions and had not made politics or nationalism an
object of direct activity. The workers had their politics, so to
speak, apart from their Trade Unions, and the toilers from Belfast
were able to meet the moilers from Cork for the consideration of their
common programme and common lot without infringing on the vexed issue
of Home Rule, on which they held widely divergent views--often enough
without understanding the reason why. They were a good deal concerned
about municipal government and how many men they were able to return
to the Dublin, Belfast and Cork corporations, but they had not counted
highly and, indeed, scarcely at all in the scheme of national affairs.
The Parliamentarians were too strong for them. Yet it was the workers
who always provided the soundest leaders of nationality and its most
incorruptible and self-sacrificing body-guard. The thinkers expressed
the ideals of Irish nationhood; they lived them and were even prepared
to suffer for them. But the time had come when this parochialism of
labour in Ireland was to end. To the enthusiasm and impetuous force of
James Larkin and the fine brain of James Connolly Irish labour owes
most for its awakening. The rise of Larkin was almost meteoric. He was
one day organising the workers of Cork into a Transport Workers Union;
almost the next he was marshalling a strike in Dublin, which made him
an international democratic figure of extraordinary power. He was a
man of amazing personality, who exercised a compelling influence over
the workers. He shook them out of their deadly stupor, lectured them
in a manner that they were not accustomed to, brow-beat them and,
though he made them suffer in body over the weary months of the
strike, he infused a spirit into them they had not known before. He
made the world ring with the shame of Dublin's slums and he did much
to make men of those who were little better than dumb-driven animals.
He united the Capitalists of Ireland against him in a powerful
organisation, and though they broke his strike they did not break the
spirit that was behind it. Some men will say the Rebellion of Easter
Week had its beginnings in the Dublin Strike of 1913; others that
Carson was the cause of it; whilst many ascribe it to the criminal
folly and short-sightedness of Redmond and his followers, who allowed
British politicians to bully and betray them at every point and made
Parliamentarianism of their type intolerable to the young soul of
Ireland. History in due course will assign each its due meed of
responsibility, but of this we are certain, that the men who came out
in Easter Week and bore arms were largely the men whom Larkin had
organised and whom Connolly's doctrine had influenced. From the point
of view of mental calibre Connolly was by far the abler man. He was
not as well known outside Labour circles in Dublin as he has come to
be since his death, but to anyone who has given any thought or study
to his life and writings he must appear a person of single-minded
purpose, great ability, ordered methods of thought and a fine
Nationalism, which was rooted in the principles of Wolfe Tone and the
United Irishmen. Connolly preached the gospel of social democracy with
a fine and almost inspired fervour. He was an internationalist in the
full Socialist sense, but seeing the harrowing sights that beset him
every day in the abominable slums of Dublin City he was an Irish
Reformer above all else. Mr Robert Lynd writes of him, in his
Introduction to Connolly's _Labour in Ireland_:

"To Connolly Dublin was in one respect a vast charnel-house of the
poor. He quotes figures showing that in 1908 the death-rate in Dublin
City was 23 per 1000 as compared with a mean death-rate of 15.8 in the
seventy-six largest English towns. He then quotes other figures,
showing that while among the professional and independent classes of
Dublin children under five die at a rate of 0.9 per 1000 of the
population of the class the rate among the labouring poor is 27.7. To
acquiesce in conditions such as are revealed in these figures is to be
guilty of something like child murder. We endure such things because
it is the tradition of comfortable people to endure them. But it would
be impossible for any people that had its social conscience awakened
to endure them for a day. Connolly was the pioneer of the social
conscience in Ireland."

In the chapter on "Labour in Dublin" Connolly himself thus refers to
the Dublin Strike and what it meant:

"Out of all this turmoil and fighting the Irish working class movement
has evolved, is evolving, amongst its members a higher conception of
mutual life, a realisation of their duties to each other and to
society at large, and are thus building for the future a way that
ought to gladden the hearts of all lovers of the race. In contrast to
the narrow, restricted outlook of the Capitalist class and even of
certain old-fashioned trade unionists, with their perpetual insistence
upon 'rights,' it insists, almost fiercely, that there are no rights
without duties, and the first duty is to help one another. This is,
indeed, revolutionary and disturbing, but not half as much as would be
a practical following out of the moral precepts of Christianity."

Here we get some measure of the man and of his creed. To the part he
played in the Easter Week Rebellion I must refer in its own proper
place. That the Dublin Strike and its consequences had a profound
effect on later events, this quotation from "Æ" will show. In a famous
"open letter" to the employers he declared:

"The men whose manhood you have broken will loathe you and will be
always brooding and scheming to strike a fresh blow. The children will
be taught to curse you. The infant being moulded in the womb will have
breathed into its starved body the vitality of hate. It is not
they--it is you who are blind Samsons pulling down the pillars of the
social order."

The poet oftentimes has the vision to see in clear outline what the
politician and the Pharisee cannot even glimpse.

At any rate this may be asserted, that from the year of the Dublin
Strike dates the uprise of Labour in Ireland. Connolly became a martyr
for his principles, whilst Larkin has been hunted from one end of the
world to the other because of his doctrines, undoubtedly of an
extremely revolutionary character. But able men have arisen to
continue the work they inaugurated and Labour in Ireland has now
formally insisted on its right to be a political Party as well as a
social organisation. It no longer circumscribes its aspirations to
purely industrial issues and social concerns, but it takes its place
on the stage of larger happenings and events and is like to play a
great part in the moulding of the Ireland that will arise when the old
vicious systems and forms are shattered for evermore.



                               CHAPTER XXIII

                  CARSON, ULSTER AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS


With the nearness of the time when Home Rule must automatically become
law, unless something happened to interfere, events began to move
rapidly. The Tory Party, largely, I believe, through political
considerations, had unalterably taken sides with Ulster. The Liberal
Party were irresolute, wavering, pusillanimous. Mr Redmond's followers
began to be uneasy--they commenced to falter in their blind faith that
they had only to trust Asquith and all would be well.

"In the Ancient Order of Hibernians," Mr Henry tells us, "all sections
of Sinn Fein, as well as the Labour Party, saw a menace to any
prospect of an accommodation with Ulster. This strictly sectarian
society, as sectarian and often as violent in its methods as the
Orange Lodges, evoked their determined hostility."

"This narrowing down," wrote _Irish Freedom_ (the organ of Mr P.
H. Pearse and his friends), "of Nationalism to the members of one
creed is the most fatal thing that has taken place in Irish politics
since the days of the Pope's Brass Band," and the Ancient Order was
further referred to as "a job-getting and job-cornering organisation,"
as "a silent, practical riveting of sectarianism on the nation."
_The Irish Worker_ was equally emphatic. "Were it not for the
existence of the Board of Erin the Orange Society would have long
since ceased to exist. To Brother Devlin and not to Brother Carson is
mainly due the progress of the Covenanter Movement in Ulster."

Though no doubt in Ireland religion exercises a considerable
influence, it is nevertheless a mistake to think that it was purely a
question of religion with those redoubtable Northern Unionists whom
Sir Edward Carson led. They attached more importance to their
political rights and independent commercial position, which they
believed to be endangered; corruption in matters of administration was
what they were most in dread of. The Irish Party used to point proudly
to the number of Protestants who had been elected as members of their
Party. The reply of Ulster was that they owed their election to their
accommodating spirit in accepting the Parliamentary policy and not
because of their rigid adherence to Protestant principles.

Then came the Lame gun-running expedition, when the _Fanny_
sailed across from Hamburg, under the noses of English destroyers and
men-of-war, and, it is said, with the knowledge and connivance of the
officers commanding them, safely landed 50,000 German rifles and
several million rounds of ammunition, which were distributed within
twenty-four hours to the Covenanters throughout the Province. It is
clear that at this time extensive negotiations were going on between
Germany and the Ulster extremists. The Ulster Provisional Government
were leaving nothing to chance. History is entitled to know the full
story of all that happened at this most fateful period--what
"discussions" took place between the Ulster leaders and the Kaiser,
how far Sir Edward Carson was implicated in these matters and how real
and positive is his responsibility for the world war that ensued. And
it should be borne in mind that these seditious traffickings with a
foreign state were going on at a time when there was no Sinn Fein army
in existence, and that the man who first showed a readiness not alone
to invoke German aid but actually to avail himself of it, was not any
Southern Nationalist rebel leader but Sir Edward Carson, the leader
and, as he was called, "the Uncrowned King" of Ulster. When critics
condemn the Nationalists of the South for their alleged communications
with Germany, let them not, in all fairness, forget Sir Edward Carson
was the man who first showed the way. To whom then--if guilt there
be--does the greater guilt belong? When the news of this audacious
gun-running expedition was published, Ireland waited breathless to
know what was going to happen. Warships were posted on the Ulster
coast, ostensibly to stop further gun-running, and the Prime Minister
announced in the House of Commons that "in view of this grave and
unprecedented outrage the Government would take appropriate steps
without delay to vindicate the authority of the law."

But in view of what _The Westminster Gazette_ termed "the abject
surrender to the Army" of the Government over the Curragh incident,
when officers were declared to have refused to serve against Ulster,
not much in the way of stern measures was to be expected now. The
Government on the occasion of the Curragh incident had declared: "His
Majesty's Government must retain their right to use all the forces of
the Crown in Ireland or elsewhere to maintain law and order and to
support the civil power in the ordinary execution of its duty. But
they have no intention whatever of taking advantage of this right to
crush political opposition to the policy or principles of the Home
Rule Bill."

As Mr Balfour was not slow in pointing out, this statement made "it
impossible to coerce Ulster." The officers who had refused to obey
orders, including General Gough, were in effect patted on the back,
told they were splendid fellows, and that they would not be asked to
march against Ulster. It was the same thing over again in the case of
the _Fanny_ exploit, Sir Edward Carson unblushingly improving the
occasion by laying stress on the weakening of Great Britain's position
abroad that followed as a consequence of his own acts. The Irish Party
leaders, who had a few months before still persisted in describing the
Ulster preparations as "a masquerade" and "a sham," were now in a
state of funk and panic. They found the solid ground they thought they
had stood on rapidly slipping from under them. There was to be no
prosecution of the Ulster leaders, no proclamation of their
organisation, nothing to compel them to surrender the arms they had so
brazenly and illegally imported.

Why was not Carson arrested at this crisis, as he surely ought to have
been by any Government which respected its constitutional forms and
authority, not to speak of its dignity? Captain Wedgwood Benn having
in the Parliamentary Session of 1919 taunted Sir Edward Carson with
his threat that if Ulster was coerced he intended to break every law
that was possible, there followed this interchange:

Sir E. Carson: I agree that these words are perfectly correct.

A Labour Member: Anyone else would have been in prison.

Sir E. Carson: Why was I not put in prison?

Mr Devlin: Because I was against it.

Well may Mr Devlin take all the credit that is due to him for
preventing Sir Edward Carson's arrest, considering that he and his
Order had been mainly the cause of bringing Carson to the verge of
rebellion, but that gentleman himself seems to have a different
opinion about it if we are to put any credence in the following
extract from Colonel Repington's _Diary of the First World War_,
under date 19th November 1915:

"Had a talk with Carson about the Ulster business. He was very amusing
and outspoken. He told me how near we were to an explosion, that the
Government had determined to arrest the chief leaders; that he had
arranged to send the one word H.X. over the wire to Belfast and that
this was to be the signal for the seizure of the Customs throughout
Ulster. He called to see the King and told Stamfordham exactly what
was going to happen and the arrest of the leaders was promptly
stopped."

Note the scandalous implication here! What does it amount to? That Sir
Edward Carson went to Buckingham Palace, held the threat of civil war
over the King, and intimidated His Majesty into using his exalted
office to screen the Orange leader and his chief advisers from
prosecution! If it does not bear this meaning, what other can it bear?
And what are we to think of its relation to constitutional authority
and right usage?

But this is not the only occasion on which Sir Edward Carson shows up
in Colonel Repington's pages. Under date 19th October 1916:

"Carson told me that a man who had been on board the _Fanny_ was
writing the story of the famous voyage and the gun-running exploit."

We have not got that story yet. When it is published it would be an
advantage if we could also have the full account of the circumstances
under which Baron von Kuhlman went over to Ireland to prospect as to
the imminence of civil war, who it was he saw in Ulster, what
arrangements and interviews he had with the Ulster Volunteers and
their leaders, who were the other prominent people he met there and,
above all, how the _Fanny's_ cargo of German rifles was arranged
and paid for? Surely these are questions vital to an understanding of
the extent of Sir Edward Carson's culpability for the outbreak of war.

Loyalist Ulster--the Ulster of law and order--was now openly defiant
of the law. Mr P.H. Pearse summed up the situation rather neatly in an
article in _Irish Freedom_:

"One great source of misunderstanding" (he wrote) "has now
disappeared; it has become clear within the last few years that the
Orangeman is no more loyal to England than we are. He wants the Union
because he imagines it secures his prosperity, but he is ready to fire
on the Union flag the moment it threatens his prosperity.... The case
might be put thus: Hitherto England has governed Ireland through the
Orange Lodges--she now proposes to govern Ireland through the Ancient
Order of Hibernians. You object: so do we. Why not unite and get rid
of the English? They are the real difficulty; their presence here the
real incongruity."

I quote this to show it was not the All-for-Irelanders alone who saw
that the Board of Erin was the real stumbling-block in the way of a
national settlement. And now when matters were to be put to the test
the Government showed a monstrous culpability. It does not avail them
to say that the Irish Party had been guilty of treachery to Ireland,
that it misled the Ministry as to the extent and depth of Ulster's
irreconcilability, and that it had betrayed its own supporters by
reposing a childish faith in Liberal promises. The Government must
bear their own responsibility for allowing Sir Edward Carson and the
Ulster Covenanters to defy and thwart them at every point, for
permitting what amounted to a mutiny in the army, for ordering the
Channel Fleet and the soldiers to Ulster "to put these grave matters
to the test even if the red blood should flow," and then withdrawing
them again, for issuing a proclamation forbidding the importation of
arms and allowing the Covenanters to spit at it in mockery, and
finally for admitting, in the famous Army Order I have quoted, the
Right of Rebellion as part of the constitutional machinery of the
State.

"The gigantic game of bluff"--as the Ulster preparations were
termed--had won outright. The political gamesters, who would not
surrender an inch to Ulster when it could be negotiated with, were now
willing to surrender everything, including the principle of an
indivisible Irish nationhood. "Conversations" between the various
leaders went on during the early months of 1914 to arrange a compromise
and a settlement, the gigantic crime of Partition as a substitute for
Irish Freedom was traitorously perpetrated by Ireland's own
"representatives" and by the so-called "Home Rule Government," and
Ireland woke up one fine morning to find that the Home Rule Act even
when on the Statute Book might as well not be there--all the bonfires
that were lighted in Ireland to hail its enactment
nothwithstanding--that "Dark Rosaleen," the mother that they loved so
well, was to be brutally dismembered, and that "A Nation Once Again" was
to mean, in the words of Sir Horace Plunkett: "Half Home Rule for
three-quarters of Ireland." The Prime Minister had proposed the
partition of Ireland--three-fourths to go to the Nationalists and
one-fourth to the Orangemen--and the Irish Party had accepted the
proposal, nay, more, they summoned a Conference of Northern Nationalists
and compelled them to pass a resolution, strongly against their
inclination, in favour of the proposal, under threat of the resignation
of Messrs Redmond, Dillon and Devlin if the resolution were not adopted.

An Amending Bill was immediately introduced into Parliament (23rd June
1914), which provided for the exclusion of such Ulster counties as
might avail themselves of it. This measure was transformed by the
House of Lords so as permanently to exclude the whole of Ulster from
the operations of the Home Rule Act.

By people forgetful of the facts, it is sometimes supposed that the
Partition was agreed to by the Irish Party under the pressure of war
conditions. This is not so. The Party have not even this poor excuse
to justify their betrayal, which was the culminating point in the
steep declivity of their downfall. The All-for-Ireland Party resisted
with all the strength at their command the violation of Ireland's
national unity. We spoke against it, voted against it, did all we
could to rouse the conscience of the people as to its unparalleled
iniquity. But though a proposal more offensive to every instinct of
national feeling could not be submitted, the Irish Party determined to
see the thing through--they seemed anxious to catch at any straw that
would save them from an irretrievable doom. On account of the deadlock
between the Lords and Commons on the question of exclusion, and with a
view to the adjustment of differences, it was announced that the King
had summoned a Conference of two representatives from each
Party--eight in all--to meet at Buckingham Palace. It is believed that
this Conference was initiated by His Majesty but taken with the
knowledge and consent of the Ministry. Messrs Redmond and Dillon
represented the Irish Party, and thus the man (Mr Dillon) who had been
for ten years denouncing any Conference with his own countrymen went
blithely into a Conference at Buckingham Palace, where the only issue
to be discussed was as to whether Sir Edward Carson should have four
or six counties for his kingdom in the North. On this point the
Conference for the moment disagreed, but nothing can ever undo the
fact that a body of Irishmen claiming to be Nationalists had not only
ignobly agreed to the Partition of their native land but, after twelve
months for deliberation, agreed to surrender six counties, instead of
four, to the Covenanters. And the time came when it was remembered for
them in an Ireland which had worthier concepts of Nationality than
partition and plunder.



                               CHAPTER XXIV

                FORMATION OF IRISH VOLUNTEERS AND OUTBREAK
                                  OF WAR


Meanwhile Nationalist Ireland was deep in its heart revolted by the
way the Parliamentary Party was managing its affairs. They sought
still to delude it with the cry that "the Act" was on the Statute Book
and that all would be well. My experience of my own people is that
once confidence is yielded to a person or party they are trustful to
an amazing degree; let that confidence once be disturbed, then
distrust and suspicion are quickly bred--and to anyone who knows the
Celtic psychology a suspicious Irishman is not a very pleasant person
to deal with. This the Party were to find out in suitable time.
Meanwhile the young men of the South saw no reason why, Ulster being
armed and insolent, they might not become armed and self-reliant. And
accordingly, without any petty distinctions of party, or class, or
creed, they decided to band themselves into a body of volunteers and
they adopted a title sanctioned in Irish history--namely, the Irish
Volunteers.

The movement was publicly inaugurated at a meeting held in the
Rotunda, Dublin, on 25th November 1913, the leading spirits in the
organisation being Captain White, D.S.O., and Sir Roger Casement, a
Northern Protestant who, knighted by England for his consular and
diplomatic services, was later to meet the death penalty at her hands
for his loyalty to his own country. The new body drew its supporters
from Parliamentarians, Sinn Feiners, Republicans and every other class
of Irish Nationalist. The manifesto it issued stated: "The object
proposed for the Irish Volunteers is to secure and maintain the rights
and liberties common to all the people of Ireland. Their duties will
be defensive and protective and they will not attempt either
aggression or domination. Their ranks are open to all able-bodied
Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics, or social grade." And
then it appealed "in the name of national unity, of national dignity,
of national and individual liberty, of manly citizenship to our
countrymen to recognise and accept without hesitation the opportunity
that has been granted to them to join the ranks of the Irish
Volunteers and to make the movement now begun not unworthy of the
historic title which it has adopted." The president of the Volunteers
was Professor John MacNeill, who had borne an honourable and
distinguished part in the Gaelic League Revival. They declared they
had nothing to fear from the Ulster Volunteers nor the Ulster
Volunteers from them. They acknowledged that the Northern body had
opened the way for a National Volunteer movement, but whilst at first
they were willing to cheer Sir Edward Carson because he had shown them
the way to arm, it was not long before they recognised that whilst
extending courtesy to Ulster, their supreme duty was the defence of
Irish liberty. For this they drilled and armed in quiet but firm
determination. When Partition became part of the policy of the Irish
Party, Mr Redmond and his friends had many warnings that the Irish
Volunteers were not in existence to support the mutilation of Ireland.
They proclaimed their intention originally of placing themselves at
the disposal of an Irish Parliament, but not of the kind contemplated
by the Home Rule Bill. The Irish Party saw in the Volunteers a
formidable menace to their power, if not to their continued existence.
They must either control them or suppress them. Mr Redmond demanded
the right to nominate a committee of twenty-five "true-blue"
supporters of his own policy. The Volunteer Committee had either to
declare war on Mr Redmond or submit to his demand. They submitted. The
Government, who were supposed to have instigated and inspired Mr
Redmond's demand, were satisfied. The reconstituted Committee called
the new body the National Volunteers.

But though the Redmondites got control of the Committee they did not
succeed in curbing the spirit of the Volunteers. And besides there was
in Dublin an independent body of Volunteers entitled the Citizen Army,
under the control of Messrs Connolly and Larkin. This was purely drawn
from the workers of the metropolis and was fiercely antagonistic to
the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which _The Irish Worker_
declared to be "the foulest growth that ever cursed this land," and
again as "a gang of place-hunters and political thugs."

It appears Mr Redmond's nominees gave little assistance in arming the
Volunteers, but the original members of the Committee got arms on
their own responsibility and, imitating the exploit of the
_Fanny_, they ran a cargo of rifles into Howth. The forces of the
Crown, which winked at the Larne gun-running, made themselves active
at Howth. The Volunteers were intercepted on their way back by a
military force, but succeeded in getting away with their rifles. The
soldiers, on returning to Dublin, irritated at their failure to get
the arms and provoked by a jeering crowd, fired on them, killing three
(including one woman) and wounding thirty-two. "It was," writes Mr
Robert Lynd, "Sir Edward Carson and Mr Bonar Law who introduced the
bloody rule of the revolver into modern Ireland and the first victims
were the Dublin citizens shot down in Bachelor's Walk on the eve of
the war."

Hardly had the echoes of the Dublin street firing died down before the
thunders of war were heard on the Continent. Germany had temporarily
cut through the entanglements of the Irish situation, and from the
island drama across the Irish Sea the thoughts of all flew to the
world tragedy that was commencing with an entire continent for a
battlefield.

If the situation created by the war had been properly handled, it
could, with the exercise of a little tact and management and, it may
be, with the application of a certain pressure upon Ulster, have been
turned to magnificent account for the settlement of Ireland's
difficulties and disagreements. The Home Rule Bill had not yet passed
into law. Anything was possible in regard to it. Again, however--and
with the utmost regret it must be set down--the wrong turning was
taken.

Confronted with a common peril, all British parties drew together in a
united effort to support the war. The Irish Party had to declare
themselves. Mr Redmond spoke in Parliament with restraint and
qualification, but he made a sensation, at which probably nobody was
more surprised than himself, when he said that the Government might
withdraw all her troops from Ireland; her coasts would be defended by
her armed sons and the National Volunteers would gladly co-operate
with those of Ulster in doing so. Mr Redmond might have bargained for
the immediate enactment of Home Rule or he might have remained
neutral. Instead he gave a half-hearted offer of service at home, "to
defend the shores of Ireland," and forthwith Sir Edward Grey
proclaimed, with an applauding Empire to support him, that "Ireland
was the one bright spot." Yes, but at what a cost to Ireland herself!
It is a fallacy, widely believed in, that Mr Redmond proposed a
definite war policy. He did not. He did not at first promise a single
recruit for the front. He did not put England upon her honour even to
grant "full self-government" in return for Irish service. Admitted
that the Home Rule Act was on the Statute Book; but it was accompanied
by a Suspensory Bill postponing its operation, and the Government
likewise gave a guarantee that an Amending Bill would be introduced to
make the measure acceptable to Ulster according to the bargain agreed
to by the Irish Party surrendering the Six Counties to Carson.

The Ulster Party, on the other hand, were determined to extract the
last ounce of advantage they could out of the situation. They made no
promises and gave no guarantees until they knew where they stood. When
it was seen, after the war had been for a month running its untoward
course against the Allies, that they had nothing to fear from Home
Rule, they told the Ulster Volunteers they were free to enlist.

The official organ of Sinn Fein and _The Irish Worker_ were
against any Irish offer of service, but the bulk of Nationalist
opinion undoubtedly favoured the Allied course on the broad grounds of
its justice and righteousness. Mr William O'Brien sought to unite all
Irish parties on a definite war policy. He held the view that "however
legitimate would have been the policy of compelling England to fulfil
her pledges by holding sternly aloof in her hour of necessity, the
policy of frank and instant friendship on condition of that fulfilment
would have been greatly the more effectual to make Home Rule a
necessity that could not be parried, as well as to start it under
every condition of cordiality all round."

But Mr Redmond and his friends missed the tide of the war opportunity
as they missed all other tides. They were neither one thing nor the
other. Mr Redmond spoke in Ireland in halting and hesitating fashion,
publicly asking the National Volunteers to stay at home, and again
made half-hearted speeches in favour of recruiting. Mr Redmond's
supporters in Cork were not, however, as politically obtuse as he
appeared to be, or perhaps as his associations with Mr Dillon
compelled him to be. Through the writer they asked Mr O'Brien to set
forth a plan of united action. Mr O'Brien did so in a memorandum which
suggested that Mr Redmond should take the initiative in inviting a
Conference with the Irish Unionists to devise a programme of common
action for the double purpose of drawing up an agreement for Home Rule
on a basis beyond cavil in the matter of generosity to the Irish
Unionists, and, on the strength of this agreement, undertaking a joint
campaign to raise an Irish Army Corps, with its reserves, which was Mr
Asquith's own measure of Ireland's just contribution. Mr O'Brien was
in a position to assure Mr Redmond, and did in fact assure him, that
if he took the initiative in summoning this Conference, he would have
the ready co-operation of some of the most eminent Irish Unionists who
followed Lord Midleton three years afterwards. To this Memorandum Mr
O'Brien never received any reply, and I have reason to believe that
all the reply received by Mr Redmond's own supporters in Cork, who
submitted the Memorandum to him with an expression of their own
approval of its terms, was a mere formal acknowledgment.

I am confident that Mr Redmond's own judgment favoured this proposal,
as it did the policy of Conference and Conciliation in 1909, but that
he was overborne by the other bosses, who had him completely at their
mercy and who had not the wisdom to see that this gave them a glorious
and honourable way out of their manifold difficulties.

There were, meanwhile, differences at the headquarters of the National
Volunteers over Mr Redmond's offer of their services "for the defence
of the shores of Ireland," which was made without their knowledge or
consent. They, however, passed a resolution declaring "the complete
readiness of the Irish Volunteers to take joint action with the Ulster
Volunteer Force for the defence of Ireland." The Prime Minister
promised in Parliament that the Secretary for War would "do everything
in his power after consultation with gentlemen in Ireland, to arrange
for the full equipment and organisation of the Irish Volunteers." But
the War Office had other views in the matter, and though a scheme was
drawn up by General Sir Arthur Paget, Commanding the Forces in
Ireland, "by which the War Office may be supplied from the Irish
Volunteers with a force for the defence of Ireland," this scheme was
immediately rejected by the War Office authorities who, in their
efforts to gain Irish recruits--and I write with perfect knowledge of
the facts--were guilty of every imaginable blunder and every possible
insult to Irish sentiment and Irish ideals.

The Ulster Volunteers, on the other hand, were allowed to retain their
own officers and their own tests of admission, and were taken over,
holus-bolus, as they stood; were trained in camps of their own, had
their own banners, were kept compactly together and were recognised in
every way as a distinct unit of Army organisation. All of these
privileges were insolently refused to the Nationalists of the
South--they were for a time employed in the paltry duty of minding
bridges, but they were withdrawn from even this humiliating
performance after a short period.

Meanwhile an Irish Division was called for to be composed of Southern
Nationalists, and with the Government guarantee that "it would be
manned by Irishmen and officered by Irishmen." I had my own strong and
earnest conviction about the war and the justice and righteousness of
the Allied cause. I felt, if service was offered at all, it should not
be confined to "defence of the shores of Ireland," but should be given
abroad where, under battle conditions, the actual issue between right
and wrong would be decided. I made my own offer of service in November
1914, and all the claim I make was that I was actuated by one desire
and one only--to advance, humbly as may be, in myself the cause of
Irish freedom. For the rest, I served and I suffered, and I
sacrificed, and if the results were not all that we intended let this
credit at least be given to those of us who joined up then, that we
enlisted for worthy and honourable motives and that we sought, and
sought alone, the ultimate good of Ireland in doing so. Mr Redmond's
family bore their own honourable and distinguished part in "The Irish
Brigade," as it came to be known, and Major "Willie" Redmond, when he
died on the field of France, offered his life as surely for Ireland as
any man who ever died for Irish liberty.

Faith was not kept with "The Irish Brigade" in either the manning or
the officering of it by Irishmen, and the time came when, through
failure of reserves, it was Irish more in name than in anything else,
and when the gaps caused by casualties had to be filled by English
recruits. A disgusted and disappointed country turned its thoughts
away from constitutional channels; and the betrayals of Ireland's
hopes, and dignity and honour, which had gone on during the years,
were fast leading to their natural and inevitable Nemesis.



                               CHAPTER XXV

                 THE EASTER WEEK REBELLION AND AFTERWARDS


A world preoccupied with the tremendous movements of mighty armies
woke up one morning and rubbed its eyes in amazement to read that a
rebellion had broken out in the capital of Ireland. How did it happen?
What did it mean? What was the cause of it? These and similar
questions were being asked, and those who were ready with an answer
were very few indeed. The marvellous thing, a matter almost incredible
of belief, is that it caught the Irish Government absolutely unawares.
Their Secret Service Department might as well not have been in
existence. For the first time probably in Irish history an Irish
movement had come into being which had not a single "informer" in its
ranks. This in itself was a remarkable thing and to be noted. The
leaders and their officers had accomplished the remarkable achievement
of discriminating against the Secret Service agent.

Although everything was clouded in a mist of conjecture and obscurity
at the time, the causes of the Rebellion of Easter Week are now fairly
clear, and may be shortly summarised. From the moment that the
Redmondite Party had imposed their conditions on the Committee of the
Irish Volunteers the vast bulk of the Volunteers who were not also
"Mollies" were thoroughly dissatisfied with the arrangement. This
discontent increased when the recruiting campaign in Ireland was
conducted with calculated offence to Nationalist sentiment and
self-respect, and eventually developed into a split. The members of
the original Committee as a result summoned a Volunteer Convention for
25th November 1914, at which it was decided to declare: "That Ireland
cannot with honour or safety take part in foreign quarrels otherwise
than through the free action of a National Government of her own; and
to repudiate the claim of any man to offer up the blood and lives of
the sons of Irishmen and Irishwomen to the service of the British
Empire while no National Government which could act and speak for the
people of Ireland is allowed to exist."

The new body, or rather the old, resumed the original title of the
Irish Volunteers. There were also a number of other bodies entirely
out of harmony with the policy of the Parliamentary Party, such as
Sinn Feiners, the Republicans, and the Citizen Army of Dublin's
workers organised in connection with Liberty Hall. These were all
opposed to recruiting, and the extremists amongst them advocated total
separation from England as the cardinal article of their faith. A new
Separatist daily newspaper was published in Dublin under the title
_Eire--Ireland_. Its attitude towards the war was that Ireland
had no cause of quarrel with the German people, or just cause of
offence against them; and it was not long before the Irish Volunteers
came to be regarded by the British authorities as a "disaffected"
organisation. Its organs in the Press were promptly suppressed, only
for others as promptly to take their place. Its officers began to be
deported without charge preferred or investigation of any sort. Fenian
teachings became popular once more and "the Old Guard" of Ireland, who
had remained ever loyal to their early Fenian faith, must have felt a
pulsing of their veins when they saw the doctrines of their hot youth
take shape again. The eyes of a small but resolute minority of Irish
Nationalists began to see in red revolution the only hope of Irish
freedom. Physical force may appear a hopeless policy but it was at
least worth preparing for, and it may be also it would be worth the
trial. This was their creed and this the purpose that animated them.
There can be no doubt that through the medium of the old Irish
Republican Brotherhood, which had never quite died out in Ireland,
communications were kept up with the Clan-na-Gael and other extreme
organisations in the United States, and through these avenues also
probably with Germany. Indeed the German Foreign Office, quite early
in the war, at the instigation of Sir Roger Casement had declared
formally "that Germany would not invade Ireland with any intentions of
conquest or of the destruction of any institutions." If they did land
in the course of the war, they would come "inspired by good will
towards a land and a people for whom Germany only wishes national
prosperity and freedom."

The avowedly revolutionary party gained a great accession of strength
when Mr P.H. Pearse and Mr James Connolly composed certain differences
and united the workers in the Citizen Army with the Irish Volunteers.
Mr Pearse was now the leader of the latter organisation--a man of high
intellectual attainments, single-minded purpose, and austere
character. "For many years," writes Mr Henry, "his life seems to have
been passed in the grave shadow of the sacrifice he felt that he was
called upon to make for Ireland. He believed that he was appointed to
tread the path that Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone had trodden before
him, and his life was shaped so that it might be worthy of its end."

Separation as the only road to independence was the burden of Pearse's
teaching. It was his definite purpose to do something which, by the
splendour of the sacrifice involved, would rouse Ireland out of its
national apathy and national stupor. He and his associates believed,
as a writer in _Nationality_ declared: "We have the material, the
men and stuff of war, the faith and purpose and cause for
revolution.... We shall have Ireland illumined with a light before
which even the Martyrs' will pale: the light of Freedom, of a deed
done and action taken and a blow struck for the Old Land." It was in
this faith they went forth to their sacrifice. "On Palm Sunday 1916,"
writes Mr Henry, "the Union of Irish Labour and Irish Nationality was
proclaimed in a striking fashion. In the evening of that day Connolly
hoisted over Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the Citizen Army, the
Irish tricolour of orange, white, and green, the flag designed by the
Young Irelanders in 1848 to symbolise the union of the Orange and
Green by the white bond of a common brotherhood. On Easter Monday the
Irish Republic was proclaimed in Arms in Dublin."

Now there are many considerations that could be usefully discussed in
relation to the Easter Week Rebellion, but this is not the time or
place for them. Let it be made clear, however, that the Rising was not
the work of Sinn Fein, but of the leaders of the Irish Volunteers and
the Citizen Army. It would be a pretty subject of inquiry to know how
Sinn Fein got the credit for the Rising and why the title was given to
the new movement that came into being afterwards. My own view is that
the British journalists who swarmed into Ireland are chiefly
responsible for the designation. _Sinn Fein_ was a fine mouthful
for their British readers to swallow, and so they gave it to them. Be
this as it may, the Rebellion came to be referred to as the Sinn Fein
Rebellion, and the movement to which it gave birth has ever since
assumed the same name. It is not my intention to dwell on the grave
incidents that followed, the prolonged agony of "the shootings of the
Rebel leaders," the assassination of Mr Sheehy-Skeffington, the
indecent scenes in the House of Commons when the Nationalist members
behaved themselves with sad lack of restraint--cheering Mr Birrell's
prediction that "the Irish people would never regard the Dublin
Rebellion with the same feelings with which they regarded previous
rebellions," cheering still more loudly when, in response to Sir
Edward Carson's invitation to Mr Redmond to join him in "denouncing
and putting down those Rebels for evermore," Mr Redmond expressed, to
the amazement of all Nationalist Ireland, his "horror and detestation"
of Irishmen who, however mistaken they may be--and history has yet to
decide this--at least "poured out their blood like heroes--as they
believed and as millions of their countrymen now believe for Ireland"
(Mr William O'Brien). Mr Dillon, needless to say, flung his leader
overboard on this occasion without the slightest truth. He declared he
had never stood on a recruiting platform (which was not true!) and
that he never would do so, and accused the Government and the soldiers
of washing out the life-work of the Nationalists in "a sea of blood."

The Government were at their wits' end what to do. Mr Birrell, the
amiable and inefficient Chief Secretary, had to go. Mr Asquith went
over to Ireland on a tour of investigation and returned to Westminster
with two dominant impressions: (1) the breakdown of the existing
machinery of Irish Government; (2) the strength and depth, almost the
universality, of the feeling in Ireland that there was a unique
opportunity for the settlement of outstanding problems and for a
combined effort to obtain an agreement as to the way in which the
government of Ireland was to be carried on for the future. He
announced that Mr Lloyd George had undertaken, at the request of his
colleagues, to devote his time and energy to the promotion of an Irish
settlement.

Undoubtedly "the machinery of Government had broken down." But the
Government of England had taken no account of what was happening in
Ireland--of the veritable wave of passion that swept the country
after, the "executions" of the Rebel leaders, of the manner in which
this passion was fanned and flamed by the arrest and deportation of
thousands of young men all over the country, who were believed to be
prominently identified with the Volunteer Movement, of the unrest that
was caused by the reports that a number of the peaceable citizens of
Dublin were deliberately shot without cause by the troops during the
military occupation of the city. What wonder that there was a strong
and even fierce revulsion of feeling! And this was not reserved
altogether for the Government. The Irish Parliamentarians had their
own fair share of it. The process of disillusionment now rapidly set
in. That portion of the country that had not already completely lost
faith in the Party and in Parliamentary methods was fast losing it. It
only required that the Party should once again give its unqualified
assent, as it did, to Mr Lloyd George's "Headings of Agreement," which
provided for the partition of Ireland and the definite exclusion of
the six counties of Down, Antrim, Londonderry, Armagh, Monaghan and
Tyrone, to send it down into the nethermost depths of popular favour
and the whole-hearted contempt of every self-respecting man of the
Irish race. The collapse of Parliamentarianism was now complete. There
was no Nationalist of independent spirit left in Ireland who would
even yield it lip service. Irish public bodies which a year or two
previously were the obedient vehicles of Party manipulation were now
unanimous in denouncing any form of partition. The proposals for
settlement definitely failed, and the machinery of Irish Government
which had "broken down" was set up afresh and the discredited
administration of Dublin Castle fully restored by the appointment of
Mr Duke, a Unionist, as Chief Secretary for Ireland.

The war was not going at all well for the Allies. America was still
hesitating on the brink as to whether she would come in or remain
steadfastly aloof. The Asquithian Ministry had been manoeuvred out of
office under circumstances which it will be the joy of the historian
to deal with when all the documents and facts are available. That
interesting and candid diarist, Colonel Repington, under date 3rd
December 1916, writes:

"Last Friday began a great internal crisis, when L.G. [Lloyd George]
wrote to the P.M. [Asquith] that he could not go on unless our methods
of waging war were speeded up. He proposed a War Council of three,
including himself, Bonar Law and Carson. The two latter are with him,
which means the Unionists too."

Asquith resigned, the Coalition Ministry was formed, and it is
probably more than a surmise that the part played by Sir Edward Carson
in bringing about this result and in elevating Mr Lloyd George into
the Premiership explains much of the power he has exercised over him
ever since. Mr Redmond and Sir Edward Carson were both invited to join
the Coalition. The former declined, the latter accepted, and from his
position of power within the Cabinet was able to torpedo Home Rule at
will.

And thus came to an end in Ireland as gross a tyranny perpetrated in
the sacred name of Nationality as ever disgraced our annals. The Party
which had so long held power had destroyed themselves by years of
selfish blundering. The country was growing weary of the men who
killed land purchase, constituted themselves the mere dependents of an
English Party in exchange for boundless jobbery, intensified the alarm
of Ulster by transferring all power and patronage to a pseudo-Catholic
secret organisation, and crowned their incompetence by accepting a
miserably inadequate Home Rule Bill (with Partition twice over thrown
in). The country which had been shackled into silence by the terrorist
methods of the Board of Erin (which made the right of free meeting
impossible by the use of their batons, bludgeons and revolvers) was
emancipated by the Dublin Rising. And in the scale of things it must
be counted, for the young men who risked their lives in Easter Week,
not the least of their performances that they gave back to the people
of Ireland the right of thinking and acting for themselves. How well
they used this right to exact a full measure of retribution from the
Party that had betrayed them the General Election of 1918 abundantly
shows.



                               CHAPTER XXVI

              THE IRISH CONVENTION AND THE CONSCRIPTION OF
                                 IRELAND


The time had now come when the Irish Party had to taste all the
bitterness of actual and anticipated defeat. Several Irish newspapers
had gone over to Sinn Fein. _The Irish Independent_ had been
previously a fearless critic of the Party, and the defeat of the
Partition proposals was largely due to the manner in which they had
denounced them and exposed their real character.

A bye-election took place in North Roscommon. There was a straight
fight between the Parliamentary Party and Sinn Fein and the former
were defeated by an overwhelming majority. Another trial of strength
came soon afterwards, and the Party again bit the dust. The
Coalitionists had now turned a cold shoulder to the Party. They could
get along very well without them. They had got all they could out of
them for war purposes. They foresaw their approaching defeat, and they
did not, therefore, count on their scheme of things as a force to be
conciliated or to be afraid of. And as if to ensure the complete
downfall and overthrow of the Party the Government continued their
arrests and deportations.

The Party had to "demonstrate" in some way and they hit upon the device
of withdrawing from Parliament and sending a Manifesto to the United
States and the self-governing dominions. But whilst they paid _Sinn
Fein_ the compliment of adopting their policy of Parliamentary
abstention, they neither honestly kept away nor openly remained--asking
questions and sending ambassadors from time to time. _Sinn Fein_ was not
inactive either. It summoned a Convention to meet in Dublin to assert
the independence of Ireland, its status as a nation and its right to
representation at the Peace Conference.

The Government was still faced with a reluctant and undecided America,
and it became essential for "propaganda purposes" to do something of
fair seeming on the Irish Question. The Prime Minister accordingly
revived the old Partition proposals, but these were now dead and
damned by all parties, the Roscommon, Longford and East Clare
victories of Sinn Fein having brought the Irish Party to disown their
twice-repeated bargain for Partition. He then proposed as an
alternative that an Irish Convention, composed of representative
Irishmen, should assemble to deliberate upon the best means of
governing their own country.

The All-for-Ireland Party were asked to nominate representatives to
this Convention, as were also Sinn Fein. In reply Mr O'Brien stated
four essential conditions of success: (1) a Conference of ten or a
dozen persons known to intend peace; (2) a prompt agreement, making
every conceivable concession to Ulster, with the one reservation that
partition in any shape or form was inadmissible and unthinkable; (3)
the immediate submission of the agreement to a Referendum of the Irish
people (never before consulted upon a definite proposal); (4) if any
considerable minority of irreconcilables still uttered threats of an
Ulster rebellion a bold appeal of the Government to the British
electorate at a General Election to declare once and for all between
the claims of reason and justice and the incorrigibility of Ulster.

One panel of names which Mr O'Brien submitted to the Cabinet at their
request was: The Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Protestant Primate, the
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, the Marquess of Londonderry, the
Marquess of Ormonde, General Sir Hubert Gough, Major "Willie" Redmond,
M.P., the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Earl of Dunraven, Viscount
Northcliffe, Mr William Martin Murphy, Mr Hugh Barrie, M.P., and two
representatives of Sinn Fein. Mr O'Brien was in a position to
guarantee that at a Conference thus constituted Sinn Fein would not be
unrepresented. Instead of setting up a Conference of this character,
which it is now clear would not have separated without coming to an
agreement, the proposal was set aside--whether by Mr Lloyd George or
by Mr Redmond's advisers has yet to be revealed--and an Irish
Convention composed of nominated representatives was constituted,
which had no possibility of agreement except an agreement on the lines
of Partition and which was doubtless planned and conceived for the
purpose of fooling Ireland and America and keeping the Convention
"talking" for nine months until America was wiled into the war.

The Convention could by no possibility succeed, and my belief is it
was never intended to succeed. It was numerically unwieldy.
Nine-tenths of its representation was drawn from the Ulster Party's
and the Irish Party's supporters, both of whom were pledged in advance
to the Partition settlement, and as far as the Irish Party
representation was concerned the last thing that could be said of it
was that it was representative. Of the seventy-five Redmondites who
composed three-fourths of the Convention only one escaped rejection by
his constituents as soon as the electors had their say! The Convention
laboured under the still further disadvantage of being at the mercy of
an Orange veto, which makes one wonder how it was that Mr Redmond or
his party ever submitted to it. The Ulster delegates to the Convention
were under the control of an outside body--the Ulster Orange Council.
They could decide nothing without reference to this body, and hence
the Convention was in the perfectly humiliating position of carrying
on its proceedings subject to an outside Orange veto.

Neither the All-for-Ireland Party nor Sinn Fein was represented at the
Convention, although Mr Lloyd George made a second appeal to Mr
O'Brien to assist in its deliberations. It says something for the
wisdom of Mr O'Brien's proposal for a small Conference that after
debating the matter for months the Convention decided to transmit
their powers to a Committee of Nine to draw up terms of agreement.
This Committee did actually reach agreement, only to have it squelched
instantly by the veto of the Ulster Council when the Ulster nominees
reported the terms of it to them. Lord MacDonnell, in a letter to
_The Times_, dated 2nd November 1919, makes the following
disclosure regarding Mr Redmond's view of this matter:--

"In regard to this episode I well remember the late Mr Redmond saying
in conversation that if he had foreseen the possibility of a proposal
made there being submitted for judgment to men who had not
participated in the Convention's proceedings, and were removed from
its pervading atmosphere of good will, he would never have consented
to enter it."

Mr O'Brien, however, saw this danger in advance and drew public
attention to it. In a speech in the House of Commons he also foretold
what the failure of the Convention meant: the destruction of the
constitutional movement and the setting up of "the right of rebellion,
whether from the Covenanters or Sinn Feiners as the only arbiter left
in Irish affairs. You will justly make Parliamentary methods more
despised and detested than they are at the present moment by the young
men of Ireland."

The Convention failed to reach unanimity. It presented various
reports, and the Government, glad of so easy a way out, simply did
nothing. The Convention served the Ministerial purpose, and there was
an end of it. The proceedings were, however, notable for one tragic
incident. Mr Redmond sought to rally the majority of the Convention in
support of a compromise which, whilst falling short of Dominion Home
Rule, avoided partition and would have been acceptable to Southern
Unionist opinion. Mr Devlin and the Catholic Bishops opposed Mr
Redmond's motion and the Irish leader, feeling himself deserted at the
most critical moment, did not move, and withdrew from the Convention
to his death, adding another to the long list of tragic figures in
Irish history.

The only practical outcome of the Convention was the acceptance of
Dominion Home Rule by a minority, which included Mr Devlin. As if to
make matters as impracticable as possible for the Parliamentarians, Mr
Lloyd George introduced a Bill to conscript Ireland at the very time
the Convention proposals were before Parliament. A more callous
indifference to Irish psychology could scarcely be imagined. A series
of Sinn Fein victories at the polls had decided the fate of Partition
once and for all. But the war exigencies of the Government were so
great, the military situation on the Continent was so hazardous, they
seemed determined to risk even civil war in their resolve to get
Irishmen to serve. They must have fighting men at any cost. The menace
was very real, and the whole of Nationalist Ireland came together as
one man to resist it. The representatives of the Irish Party, of
Labour, of Sinn Fein and of the All-for-Irelanders met in Conference
at the Mansion House, Dublin, to concert measures of Irish defence.
The Mansion House Conference, at its first meeting, on 18th April,
issued the following declaration:--

"Taking our stand on Ireland's separate and distinct nationhood, and
affirming the principle of liberty, that the Governments of nations
derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, we deny the
right of the British Government or any external authority to impose
compulsory military service in Ireland against the clearly expressed
will of the Irish people. The passing of the Conscription Bill by the
British House of Commons must be regarded as a declaration of war on
the Irish nation. The alternative to accepting it as such is to
surrender our liberties and to acknowledge ourselves slaves. It is in
direct violation of the rights of small nationalities to
self-determination, which even the Prime Minister of England--now
preparing to employ naked militarism and force his Act upon
Ireland--himself announced as an essential condition for peace at the
Peace Congress. The attempt to enforce it is an unwarrantable
aggression, which we call upon all Irishmen to resist by the most
effective means at their disposal."

The Irish Catholic Bishops on the same day received a deputation from
the Mansion House Conference, and, having heard them, issued a
manifesto, in the course of which they said:

"In view especially of the historic relations between the two
countries from the very beginning up to this moment, we consider that
Conscription forced in this way upon Ireland is an oppressive and
inhuman law, which the Irish people have a right to resist by every
means that are consonant with the law of God."

The Irish Labour Party called a one-day strike on 23rd April as "a
demonstration of fealty to the cause of labour and Ireland."

The Government went on with its preparations for enforcing
Conscription. The Lord-Lieutenant, who was known to be opposed to the
policy of the Ministry, was recalled, and Field-Marshal Lord French
was put in his place. A "German plot," which the late Viceroy declared
had no existence in fact, was supposed to be discovered, and in
connection with it Messrs de Valera and A. Griffith, the two Sinn Fein
members of the Mansion House Conference, were arrested and deported.
The Sinn Fein, the Gaelic League and allied organisations were
declared to be "dangerous associations." Concerts, hurling matches,
etc., were prohibited, and Ireland was frankly treated as an occupied
territory. A bye-election occurred in East Cavan and Mr
Griffith--England's prisoner--was returned, defeating a nominee of the
Irish Party. This gave the death-blow to Conscription, though Ireland
still stood sternly on guard.

The Mansion House Conference during its existence held a position of
unique authority in the country. During its sittings a proposal was
made to initiate negotiations with a view to combined action between
Sinn Fein, the two sections of Parliamentary Nationalists and the
Irish Labour bodies, on the basis of the concession of Dominion Home
Rule, while the war was still proceeding with the alternative, if the
concession were refused, of combined action to enforce the claims of
Ireland at the Peace Conference. There was reason to believe Sinn Fein
would agree to this proposal, and that the Cabinet would have invited
the Dominion Premiers' Conference to intervene in favour of an Irish
settlement, limited only by the formula: "within the Empire."

Mr Dillon blocked the way with the technical objection that the
Conference was called to discuss Conscription alone and that no other
topic must be permitted to go further. Could stupid malignancy or
blind perversity go further?

This fair chance was lost, with so many others. The war came to an end
and a few weeks afterwards the Irish Parliamentary Party, which had so
long played shuttlecock with the national destinies of Ireland, went
to crashing doom and disaster at the polls. The country had found them
out for what they were, and it cast them into that outer darkness from
which, for them, there is no returning.



                               CHAPTER XXVII

                    "THE TIMES" AND IRISH SETTLEMENT


No volume, professing to deal however cursorily with the events of the
period, can ignore the profound influence of _The Times_ as a
factor in promoting an Irish settlement. That this powerful organ of
opinion--so long arrayed in deadly hostility to Ireland--should have
in recent years given sympathetic ear to her sufferings and
disabilities is an event of the most tremendous significance, and it
is not improbable that the Irish administration in these troubled
years would have been even more deplorably vicious than it has been
were it not that _The Times_ showed the way to other independent
journals in England in vigilant criticism and fearless exposure of
official wrongdoing.

When, on St Patrick's Day, 1917, Lord Northcliffe spoke at the Irish
Club in London on the urgency of an Irish settlement and on the need
for the economic and industrial development of the country, and when
he proclaimed himself an Irish-born man with "a strong strain of Irish
blood" in him, he did a sounder day's work for Ireland than he
imagined, for he shattered a tradition of evil association which for
generations had linked the name of a great English newspaper with
unrelenting opposition to Ireland's historic claim for independence.
If Ireland had been then approached in the generous spirit of Lord
Northcliffe's speech, if the investigation into Irish self-government
for which he pleaded had then taken place, if British statesmen had
made "a supreme effort," as he begged them to do, "to find good
government for Ireland," I am convinced that all the horrors and
manifold disasters of the past four years would have been avoided, and
the Irish people would be at this moment in happiness and contentment
administering their own affairs. But the voice of sweet reasonableness
and statesmanlike admonition was not hearkened unto. The neglect of
Ireland and of her industrial concerns, of which Lord Northcliffe so
justly made complaint, continued, and instead of the counsels of peace
prevailing all the follies of wrong methods and repressive courses
were committed which will leave enduring memories of bitterness and
broken faith long after a settlement is reached. Meanwhile _The
Times_ devoted itself earnestly and assiduously to the cause of
peace and justice. It opened its columns to the expression of reasoned
opinion on the Irish case. The problem of settlement was admittedly
one of extreme difficulty--it welcomed discussion and consideration of
every feasible plan in the hope that some _via media_ might be
found which would constitute a basis of comparative agreement between
the various warring factors. It even instituted independent inquiries
of its own and gave an exhaustive and splendidly impartial survey of
the whole Irish situation and of the various influences,
psychological, religious and material, that made the question one of
such complexity and so implacably unyielding in many of its features.
Its pressure upon the Government was continuous and consistent, but
the Government was deaf to wisdom and dumb to a generous importunity.
Not content with appeal, remonstrance and exhortation, _The
Times_, in the summer of 1919, boldly, and with a courage that was
greatly daring in the circumstances of the moment, set forth in all
detail, and with a vigorous clearness that was most praiseworthy, its
own plan of settlement. As it was upon this model that the Ministry
later built its Government of Ireland Act, I think it well to quote
_The Times_, own summary of its scheme, though it is but proper
to say that whilst the Government adapted the model it discarded
everything else that was useful and workmanlike in the structure:

                          _Legislatures_

Creation by an Act of Settlement of two State Legislatures for

(a) The whole of Ulster,

(b) The rest of Ireland,

with full powers of legislation in all matters affecting the internal
affairs of their respective States. In each State there will be a
State Executive responsible to the State Legislature.

By the same Act of Settlement, the creation of an All-Ireland
Parliament on the basis of equal representation of the two
States--_i.e.,_ Ulster is to have as many representatives as the
rest of Ireland.

The All-Ireland Parliament to be a Single Chamber which may sit
alternately at Dublin and Belfast.

                             _Powers_

Governing powers not conferred on the State Legislatures will be
divided between the All-Ireland and the Imperial Parliament.

The Imperial Parliament will retain such powers as those involving the
Crown and the Succession; peace and war; the armed forces.

To the All-Ireland Parliament may be delegated, _inter alia_, the
powers involving direct taxation, Customs and Excise, commercial
treaties (with possible exceptions), land purchase, and education. The
delegation may take place by stages.

                            _Executive_

Upon the assumption of the Irish Parliament of any or all of the
powers transferred from the Imperial Parliament, an All-Ireland
Executive, responsible to the All-Ireland Parliament, will come into
being. The Office of Lord Lieutenant, shorn of its political
character, will continue. The Lord Lieutenant will have the right of
veto on Irish and State legislation, and may be assisted by the Irish
Privy Council.

                           _Safeguards_

To safeguard the liberties of both States, each State Legislature is
to have a permanent veto upon the application of its own State of any
legislation passed by an All-Ireland Parliament.

                  _Representation at Westminster_

Ireland will be still represented at Westminster by direct election.
The number of representatives to the Commons is to be determined on
the basis of population relative to that of Great Britain. Irish
representative peers will retain their seats in the House of Lords.

                     _Constitutional Disputes_

Constitutional disputes between the Imperial and Irish Parliament will
be decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; those
between the Irish Parliament and State Legislatures by an Irish
Supreme Court.

                             _Finance_

In the financial section of the scheme, the case for the over-taxation
of Ireland is considered, but it is urged that, while due account
should be taken of this circumstance in any plan for financial
reconstruction, Ireland ought not to be relieved of her proper share
of the cost of the war or of liability for her share of the National
Debt.

Ireland is to contribute an annual sum to the Imperial Exchequer,
calculated on the relative taxable capacity of Ireland. This will
cover interest on the Irish share of the National Debt and a
contribution to the Sinking Fund, as well as to defence and other
Imperial expenditure.

I do not intend to subject the foregoing scheme to any detailed
criticism. The method of constituting the All-Ireland Parliament was
open to grave objection. It was to be a single chamber legislature and
was to be selected or nominated rather than elected. This damned it
right away from the democratic standpoint, and the defence of _The
Times_ that "the system of delegations would probably have the
advantage of being the simplest inasmuch as it would avoid
complicating the electoral machinery" was not very forceful. The
supreme test to be applied to any plan of Irish Government is whether
it provides, beyond yea or nay, for the absolute unity of Ireland as
one distinct nation. Unless this essential unity is recognised all
proposals for settlement, no matter how generous in intent otherwise,
must fail. Mr Lloyd George grossly offended Irish sentiment when he
flippantly declared that Ireland was not one nation but two nations.
This is the kind of foolishness that makes one despair at times of
British good sense, not to speak of British statesmanship. Mr Asquith,
whatever his political blunderings--and they were many and grievous in
the case of Ireland--declared in 1912:--"I have always maintained and
I maintain as strongly to-day that Ireland is a nation--not two
nations but one nation." And those Prime Ministers of another day--Mr
Gladstone and Mr Disraeli--were equally emphatic in recognising that
Ireland was one distinct nation.

_The Times_ itself saw the folly of partition, for it wrote
(24th July 1919):

"The burden of finding a solution rests squarely upon the shoulders of
the British Government, and they must bear it until at least the
beginnings have been found. Some expedients have found favour among
those who realise the urgency of an Irish settlement, but have neither
opportunity nor inclination closely to study the intricacies of the
question. One such expedient is partition in the form of the total
exclusion from the operations of any Irish settlement of the whole or
a part of Ulster. Far more cogent reasons than any yet adduced, and
far more certainty that every other path had been explored to the end,
would be needed to render this expedient other than superficially
plausible. Politically there are acute differences between Ulster and
the rest of Ireland; economically they are closely interwoven.
Economic bonds are stronger than constitutional devices. The partition
of Ireland would limit the powers of a Southern parliament so
severely, and would leave so little room for development, that it
would preclude any adequate realisation of Nationalist hopes. For
instance, fiscal autonomy for the Southern provinces could be enjoyed
at the price of a Customs barrier round the excluded Ulster Counties.
Yet to Irish Nationalists fiscal autonomy is the symbol of freedom.
However speciously it may be attired, partition offers no hope of a
permanent settlement."

Although _The Times_ specifically denounced partition its
proposals undoubtedly perpetuated the partition idea and were thus
repugnant to national opinion. Its plan also suggested a settlement by
process of gradual evolution, but Ireland had progressed far beyond
the point when any step-by-step scheme stood the slightest chance of
success. Credit must, however, be given to it for its generous
intentions, for the magnificent spirit of fair play it has shown ever
since towards a sadly stricken land and for what it has done and is
still doing to find peace and healing for the wrongs and sufferings of
an afflicted race. For all these things Ireland is deeply grateful,
with the gratitude that does not readily forget, and it may be that
when all this storm and stress, and the turbulent passions of an evil
epoch have passed away, it will be remembered then for Englishmen that
their greatest organ in the Press maintained a fine tradition of
independence, and thus did much to redeem the good name of Britain
when "the Black and Tans" were dragging it woefully in the mire.



                               CHAPTER XXVIII

                           THE ISSUES NOW AT STAKE


And now my appointed task draws to its close. In the pages I have
written I have set nothing down in malice nor have I sought otherwise
than to make a just presentment of facts as they are within my
knowledge. It may be that, being a protagonist of one Party in the
struggles and vicissitudes of these years, I may sometimes see things
too much from the standpoint of my own preconceived opinions and
notions. But on the whole it has been my endeavour to give an honest
and fair-minded narrative of the main events and movements of Irish
history over a period in which I believe I can claim I am the first
explorer. There are some subjects which would come properly within the
purview of my title, such as the power, province and influence of
clericalism in politics, but I have thought it best at this stage,
when so many matters are in process of readjustment in Ireland, and
when our people are adapting themselves to a new form of citizen duty
and responsibility, to leave certain aspects of our public life
untouched. It may be, however, if this book meets with the success I
hope for it, that my researches and labours in this field of
enterprise are not at an end.

All I have now to do in this my final chapter is to summarise some of
the issues that present themselves for our consideration. I do not
propose to deal with the activities of Sinn Fein since it won its
redoubtable victory over the forces of Parliamentarianism as
represented by the Irish Party at the General Election. The country
turned to it as its only avenue of salvation from a reign of
corruption, incompetence and helplessness unparalleled in history. Mr
O'Brien and his friends of the All-for-Ireland League, of their own
volition, effaced themselves at the General Election. They had striven
through fifteen long years, against overwhelming odds and most
unscrupulous and malignant forces, for a policy of reason and for the
principles of Conference, Conciliation and Consent, as between all
Irish-born men and a combination of all parties, Irish and British,
for the purpose of effecting a broad and generous National settlement.
Had they received that support which the events of the last two years
demonstrates could have been had--had the moderate Irish Unionists,
and especially the Southern Irish Unionists, the moral courage to
declare their views, temperately but unequivocally, as Lord Midleton
and others have recently declared them, the tide might easily have
been turned and wiser counsels and policies prevailed.

If the great peace pronouncement of Cork City merchants and professional
men, made a few months ago on the initiative of Alderman Beamish, had
only been arranged when the All-for-Ireland League was founded; if Lord
Bandon had then held the meeting of Deputy-Lieutenants he recently
convened to declare for Home Rule; if Lord Shaftesbury, three times Lord
Mayor of Belfast, had then made the speech he made at the Dublin Peace
Conference last year, nothing could have resisted the triumph of the
policy of Conciliation, and Ireland would be now in enjoyment of
responsible self-government instead of being ravaged as it is by the
savagery of a civil war, in which all the usages of modern warfare have
been ruthlessly abandoned. It is also to be deplored that Sir Horace
Plunkett, who is now the enthusiastic advocate of Dominion Home Rule
(and, indeed, believes himself to be the discoverer of it), did not,
during all the years when he could potently influence certain channels
of opinion in England, raise his voice either for the agrarian
settlement or for Home Rule and refused his support, when he was
Chairman of the Irish Convention, to Mr W.M. Murphy's well-meant efforts
to get Dominion Home Rule adopted or even discussed by the Convention.

Of course this much must be said for the Unionists who have pronounced
in favour of Home Rule within the past few years, that they could plead
fairly enough that every man like Lord Dunraven, Mr Moreton Frewen, Lord
Rossmore, Colonel Hutcheson-Poë, and Mr Lindsay Crawford, who came upon
the All-for-Ireland platform from the first, was foully assailed and
traduced and had his motives impugned by the Board of Erin bosses, and
other Unionists, more timid, naturally enough, shrank from incurring a
similar fate.

But these things are of the past, and we would turn our thoughts to
the present and the future.

The country, at the General Election of 1918, by a vote so
overwhelming as to be practically unanimous, gave the guardianship of
its national faith and honour into the keeping of Sinn Fein. This is
the dominant fact of the situation from the Irish standpoint. Other
considerations there are, but any which leave this out of account fail
to grip the vital factor which must influence our march towards a just
and durable Irish settlement. Another fact that cannot be lost sight
of is that there is a Home Rule Act on the Statute Book. With this
Southern Ireland will have nothing to do! Unionists and Nationalists
alike condemn it as a mockery of their national rights. But the
Orangeman of the Six Counties are first seriously going to work their
regional autonomy--they are going to set up their Parliament in
Belfast. And once set up it will be a new and vital complication of
the situation preceding a settlement which will embrace the whole of
Ireland.

So far as Ireland is concerned the public mind is occupied at the
moment of my writing with the question of "reprisals." Various efforts
have been made to bring about peace. They have failed because, in my
view, they have been reluctant to recognise and make allowance for
certain essential facts. The whole blame for the existing state of
civil war--for, repudiate it as the Government may, such it
undoubtedly is--is thrown on the shoulders of the Irish Republican
Army by those who take their ethical standard from Sir Hamar
Greenwood. It is forgotten that for two or three years before the
attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary began there were no murders,
no assassinations and no civil war in Ireland. There was, however, a
campaign of gross provocation by Dublin Castle for two reasons: (1) by
way of vengeance for their defeat on the Conscription issue; (2) as a
retaliation on Sinn Fein, because it had succeeded in peacefully
supplanting English rule by a system of Volunteer Police, Sinn Fein
Courts, Sinn Fein Local Government, etc. The only pretext on which
this provocation was pursued was on account of a mythical "German
plot," which Lord Wimbourne never heard of, which Sir Bryan Mahon,
Commander-in-Chief, told Lord French he flatly disbelieved in, and
which, when, after more than two years, the documents are produced,
proves to be a stale rehash of negotiations before the Easter Week
Rising, with some sham "German Irish Society" in Berlin. On this
pretext the Sinn Fein leaders, Messrs de Valera and Griffith (whom
there is not a shadow of proof to connect with the German plot), were
arrested and deported, with many hundreds of the most responsible
leaders. Furthermore, an endless series of prosecutions were
instituted and savage sentences imposed for the most paltry
charges-such as drilling, wearing uniform, singing _The Soldiers'
Song_, having portraits of Rebel leaders, taking part in the
Arbitration Courts which had superseded the Petty Sessions Courts, and
such like. All this, with suppression of newspapers and of all public
meetings, went on for many months before Sinn Fein, deprived of its
leaders, was goaded at last into attacking the Royal Irish
Constabulary. Whatever the juridical status of the guerrilla warfare
thus entered upon (which it is not improbable England would have
applauded if employed against any other Empire than her own), it was
conducted on honourable lines by the Sinn Feiners. The policemen and
soldiers, including General Lewis, who surrendered, were treated with
courtesy, and not one of them wounded or insulted. Their wives and
children were also carefully preserved from danger until the police
"reprisals" in the Thurles neighbourhood--the wrecking of villages and
the savage murders of young men--ended by producing equally ruthless
"reprisals" on the other side. In Dublin, since the Dublin
Metropolitan Police declined to go about armed, not one of them has
been fired upon.

The real ferocity on both sides began when the "Black and Tans" were
imported to take the place of the R.I.C., who were resigning in
batches. It is indisputable--independent investigation by the
Committee of the British Labour Party and the daily messages of
fearless British journalists, such as Mr Hugh Martin, establish it
beyond possibility of contradiction--that when the "Black and Tans"
were let loose on the Irish people they began a villainous campaign of
cowardly murder, arson, robbery and drunken outrage, which should have
made all decent Englishmen and Englishwomen shudder for the deeds
committed in their name. Whenever the particulars are fully disclosed
they will, I venture to say, horrify every honest man in the Empire.
Not the least disgraceful feature of this black business was the
manner in which the Chief Secretary sought to brazen things out and
the audacious lies that he fathered, such as that Lord Mayor M'Curtain
was murdered by the Sinn Feiners, that it was Sinn Feiners who raided
the Bishop of Killaloe's house at midnight and searched for him
(unquestionably with intent to shoot him), that it was the Sinn
Feiners who burned down the City Hall, Public Library and the
principal streets of Cork, etc.

And then the utter failure of all this "frightfulness"! Several months
ago Sir Hamar Greenwood declared that Sinn Fein was on the run, and
the Prime Minister declared they had "murder by the throat," the fact
being that the young men they sought to terrorise were made more
resolute in their defiance of the Government. The only people at all
terrorised were the invalids, the nuns whose cloisters were violated
by night, the women and children whose homes were invaded at night by
miscreants masquerading in the British uniform, maddened with drink
and uttering the filthiest obscenities. And does England take account
of what all this is going to mean to her--that the young generation
will grow up with never-to-be-forgotten memories of these atrocities,
while the thousands of young men herded together in the internment
camps and convict prisons are being manufactured into life-long
enemies of the Empire? Might not Englishmen pause and ask themselves
whether it is worth it all, apart from other considerations, to
implant this legacy of bitter hatred in Irish breasts?

Let it be admitted that since the Government have been shamed into
dropping their denials of "reprisals" and taken them in hand
themselves the military destruction has at least been carried on with
some show of reluctance and humanity by the regular army, but it
cannot be too strongly emphasised that the disbandment and deportation
of "the Black and Tans" is the first condition of any return to
civilised warfare or to any respect for the good name of England or
her army.

If I were asked to state some of the essentials of peace I would say
it must depend first of all on the re-establishment of a belief in the
good faith of England. This belief, and for the reasons which I have
attempted to outline in the preceding chapters, has been shattered
into fragments. There is a strong feeling in Ireland that the Prime
Minister's recent peace "explorations" are not honestly meant--that
they are intended to rouse the "sane and moderate" elements in
opposition to Sinn Fein. Whilst this feeling exists no real headway
can be made by those who seek a genuine peace along rational and
reasoned lines. The Prime Minister must be aware that when he
professes his readiness to meet those who can "deliver the goods" he
is talking rhetorical rubbish. "Delivering the goods" is not a matter
for Irishmen, but for British politicians, who have spent the last
twenty years cheating Ireland of the "goods" of Home Rule, which they
had solemnly covenanted again and again to "deliver."

Mr Lloyd George's conditions for a meeting with "Dail Eireann" are so
impossible that one wonders he took the trouble to state them--viz.
(1) that "Dail Eireann" must give up to be tried (and we presume
hanged) a certain unspecified number of their own colleagues; (2) that
they must recant their Republicanism and proclaim their allegiance to
the Empire; (3) that negotiations must proceed on the basis of the
Partition Act and the surrender of one-fourth of their country to the
new Orange ascendancy.

No section of honest Irishmen will dream of negotiating on such a
basis, and any attempt to make use of "sane and moderate" elements to
divide and discredit the elected representatives of the people will be
met by the universal declaration that the "Dail Eireann" alone is
entitled to speak for Ireland. Until this primary fact is recognised
the fight in Ireland must go on, and many black chapters of its
history will have to be written before some British statesman comes
along who is prepared to treat with the Irish nation in a spirit of
justice and generosity.

Peace is still perfectly possible if right methods are employed to
ensure it. It is futile to ask Sinn Fein to lay down arms and to abjure
their opinions as a preliminary condition to negotiations. I doubt
whether the Sinn Fein leaders could impose such a condition upon their
followers, even if they were so inclined--which they are not and never
will be. Let there, then, to start with, be no preliminary tying of
hands. The initiative must come from the Government. They should
announce the largest measure of Home Rule they will pledge themselves to
pass. They should accompany this with a public promise to submit it to
an immediate plebiscite or referendum of the whole Irish people on the
plain issue "Yes" or "No." All they can ask of the Sinn Fein leaders is
that they will leave the Irish people absolutely free to record their
judgment. I can imagine that, in such circumstances, the attitude of the
Sinn Fein leaders would be: "We do not surrender our Republican
opinions, but if the Government offer full New Zealand Home Rule (let us
say) and pledge themselves to enforce it if Ireland accepts it, Sinn
Fein would be justified before all National Republicans in saying: 'This
is a prospect so magnificent for our country we shall do nothing in the
smallest degree to prejudice the opinion of the people against its
acceptance or to fetter the free and honest working of the new
institutions.'" Beyond this no person desiring a real peace ought to
expect Sinn Fein to go, and I am convinced that if this were the
attitude of Sinn Fein and if the offer were made by the Government as
suggested, the majority for acceptance, on a plebiscite being taken,
would be so great that there would be no further shadow of opposition
even in Ulster, where nobody would object that it should have local
autonomy in all necessary particulars.

I can conceive only one man standing in the way of a settlement on these
lines--a settlement which would be just to Ireland and honourable to
Britain. So long as Sir Edward Carson remains the powerful figure he
is--dictating and directing the policy of the Cabinet--it is improbable
that he will consent to have the opinion of "the six counties" taken by
a plebiscite. But if Sir Edward Carson were to quit politics, as one may
hope he can see a thousand good reasons for doing, I can well imagine
that Mr Lloyd George would be very glad to come to a satisfactory
arrangement.

Whatever happens this much is certain, there is only one road to peace
in Ireland--the recognition of her nationhood, one and indivisible,
and of the right of Irishmen to manage their own affairs in accordance
with Irish ideals.



                                THE END



                               POSTSCRIPT


Since this book went to press, the appointment of Sir Edward Carson as
Lord of Appeal and the interview between Mr de Valera and Sir James
Craig are developments of a more hopeful character which, it is devoutly
to be hoped, will bring about the longed-for _rapprochement_ between the
two countries.





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