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But if this be so, then Unionists must be permitted to criticise, without any intention of showing disrespect to the Roman branch of the Catholic Church, the utterances and conduct of men who, though belonging to the priesthood, descend into the arena commonly occupied by the laity, to battle with laymen of their own and other faiths on behalf of a particular political programme. If they leave the pulpit for the platform (let us admit, for argument's sake, with every right to do so), and become politicians, they must be prepared to be treated as politicians, and not to be more immune from criticism than are other controversialists. Their flocks, too, must be prepared to hear the shepherds freely criticised on matters political, and more sharply still if and when spiritual influences are brought to bear upon questions which lie wholly outside the legitimate sphere of such intervention; they must not be permitted to believe that we who are Unionists are levelling a general charge against the Roman Catholic faith when we deem it our duty (pace the Pope) to bring before the tribunal of public knowledge the political and secular utterances and actions of the Roman bishops and priesthood of Ireland. I know well that such liberty of fair and intelligent criticism is readily granted to us by English Roman Catholics, whose priesthood most conscientiously avoid all political meetings or intervention except upon questions that affect religious education in their voluntary schools, Roman Catholic disabilities and cognate matters. But, as regards Irish Romans resident in England-and there are thousands of them in the great industrial centres of our country-the case is different; they are quite unacquainted with the political activities of the Roman Church in Ireland, for these have no equivalent in large English or Scottish cities; and they resent, as unfounded and wholly imaginary charges, any references to the necessity for protecting the loyal Irish minority against the cruelty of the United Irish League, which they sincerely believe to be a perfectly harmless political association because it has the energetic support and the avowed sympathy of the priesthood of their native land. This ignorant indignation of the Anglo-Irish is entirely responsible for the Radical complexion of many constituencies in England and the South of Scotland; and it is instructive to observe that the chances of Home Rule for Ireland are constantly increased by the votes of Irish Nationalists living in England, and overriding at the poll the will of the nation in whose midst they reside.
Justice to Ireland, in fine, does not consist in making a
"E.g.: Father Doherty, P.P., at Mr. T. W. Russell's by-election: 'The Catholic who gave his vote for Herdman would be held responsible for his actions on the Day of Judgment' (Strabane, October 3, 1911).
VOL. LXXI-No. 420
large constitutional change in the political status of that country on the unwarrantable assumption that the majority of the country desires it. It does not consist in so crippling her finances and her credit that her people's prosperity must of necessity be thwarted and hampered in the very hour when, after long years of careful tending and of unexampled generosity from Great Britain, there is a consensus of expert opinion that her social regeneration is making immense strides in advance. Justice to Ireland does not consist in shutting our eyes to obvious facts, and in trusting to worthless guarantees that the lives of a contented and prosperous minority shall not be rendered intolerable by the overbearing pretensions of an executive whose leader has threatened that those who do not agree with him 'must be overborne by the strong hand'; nor in withdrawing from that resolute and loyal body of men the privileges and the protection of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which they have inherited and which they are determined to retain at any cost. Justice for Ireland' is not a synonym for Home Rule for Nationalists'; it is, indeed, the very contrary. It consists in treating Ireland rather better, financially, than any other part of the United Kingdom, inasmuch as she is, through no fault of her own, the least rich of the partners in that splendid concern; in raising the moral and material status of all our less fortunate fellow-citizens in Ireland by further grants or loans for the improvement of primary education and of other conditions inseparable from social progress, and by an extended use of British credit for the legitimate activities of Irish Municipalities; in protecting all classes from the shortsighted governance of those who affect to believe that true Freedom can ever flourish in a soil whence all nourishment has been withdrawn, and in affording to the loyal minority the guarantee of the whole power of the United Kingdom against the sectional tyranny under which they have suffered far too long; in curbing the pretensions of those who, be they laymen or clerics, seek to substitute laws of their own making for the settled law of the land; in enforcing equal laws with equal courage in Ireland as in Great Britain; in redressing every legitimate grievance, and in righting every wrong by whomsoever perpetrated and endured. And it is because Home Rule connotes the antithesis of this programme that we shall for the third time reject it as a monstrous injustice to Ireland, whose solid hope of stability and happiness must ultimately be based, not upon the sentimental aspirations of a dwindling band of agitators in favour of separation, but upon the lasting advantages that she is yearly reaping from being an integral part of the United Kingdom.
IS HOME RULE FOR THE GOOD OF IRELAND?
WHEN Mr. A. J. Balfour announced his resignation, I felt particularly sorry, because it seemed to me that he had left undone task which no other statesman could fulfil. Only a few weeks before, I had returned from a tour in the old Congested Districts of the West, where in the days of his Irish Secretaryship he had made the bold and wise experiment of going to see with his own eyes the most disturbed part of Ireland. My chief object had been to inquire into the working of the Board, and especially to learn how the peasant cultivators were doing under the new conditions. In the course of conversation with the miscellaneous individuals encountered on the journey, the name of Mr. Balfour was frequently mentioned, and always with approbation. Generally, it was coupled with that of Mr. Lloyd George. To the one was traced the Congested Districts Board; to the other old-age pensions: so that the conjunction was not so odd as it looked. English party divisions do not greatly concern the Irish peasant, and I sympathise with his point of view. If a law or a suggestion be good and useful, it matters little what maker's brand is on it. Never was there a time when this attitude was more needed than now. Irish opinion is in a state of flux which is not represented in the speeches of life long politicians and agitators. It is the nature of the species all over the world to go on repeating ancient arguments or shouting ancient war-cries long after the conditions have been changed. This applies more directly to Ireland than to any other country in the world, because Irish oratory, whether exercised in Parliament, on platform, or in the law-court, tends to be tub-thumping and rhetorical.
Irish rural society at the moment presents many curiously opposite aspects. Just as mirth and melancholy mingle equally in the Hibernian temperament, so shrewdness and superstition, ignorance and intelligence exist equally in the same mind. In regard to the land question the peasant is learned; of land he knows little. Nothing offensive is meant by the latter remark. He is a bad cultivator, but he is learning. If his potato patch be too often sown practically broadcast, he may still be seen with his mixture in a tub and a home-made mop industriously spraying it
in his own way-a signal proof that he is trying to learn something from the lecturers sent to indoctrinate him with the principles of scientific agriculture! It is a pleasure to see the hope and energy with which he is working the new holdings provided by the Board. No wonder! In the congested areas the state of things is still dreadful. I went over a number of them, and felt surprised that families could support life in them. The holding consists of widely separate patches of almost worthless land. Short, thin, ill-eared crops of grain were ripening on them at my visit, weedy potatoes, nothing for man or beast on the mountain run. On the latter the hardiest sheep lose condition. and the cows cannot live. In the midst stands the hovel, where human beings and live-stock still sleep together. 'Sure, we fight to get near her (the cow) in the winter for being warrm,' said one householder. Peat, then being carried down from the hills by barefoot, lean girls, with donkeys and creels, is the only fuel. This was on an estate not yet acquired by the Congested Districts Board. Within a few miles could be seen holdings that had been made by it. An official of the Board was good enough to explain its working the results are visible to the eye. The hovel is replaced by a new white-walled serviceable cottage with the necessary outbuildings adjacent. Best of all, a holding has been formed on which a man can live, seven or nine acres of good tillage land and a mountain run. 'Sure he's like an imperor,' was the description of an occupier.
Even the most stubborn admit that all this constitutes a real benefit. 'Yes, we have got something from England at last,' said one fell and stubborn smallholder. He is a Republican who, when I told him of the great reception King George received in Dublin, only observed that it was 'polishy.' To him the late leader of the Opposition was the greatest of statesman. 'He was a grand man, Balfour! Every time I heard that phrase, and it or its equivalent expressed a feeling common to all classes, I wished that Mr. Balfour could repeat the famous tour of his Secretaryship. Had he been a Gladstone, he would have required little prompting. He might not have achieved such results as followed the great Pilgrimage of Midlothian; but he would have been enthusiastically received, and, though it would be unreasonable to expect that, in a population where Moonlighters and Fenians and Land Leaguers have been or are numerous, elections could be won right off, the best and most influential citizens are not indisposed to discuss the question at the head of this article. The most violent and headstrong were obviously drawn into an unaccustomed line of reflection when questioned as to the probable effect of Home Rule on their material prosperity.
By means of question and answer I argued the case with all sorts of Home Rulers, and it may be worth while to try and set forth the arguments for and against, as they appear to a sympathetic English inquirer. By Home Rule, I mean simply any measure that would widen the rift between Great Britain and Ireland; not by any means every increase of control over local affairs.
If that be granted, the solid reasons are on one side, sentiment on the other. Liberals have chosen a bad moment for making a change. After twenty years of what, in spite of a few lapses, has been a generous and conciliatory policy, the old hostility is yielding to a new friendliness. What is wanted then is no rude break, but a continuation on the same lines. The tenant farmer, wheresoever he may be found, is forced by the character of his struggle to place the highest value on material gain. Recent English legislation has put money in his pocket. He acknowledges this with surprise. Anyone going to a postoffice when the old-age pensions are distributed will vividly realise what it means. Galway is a western port rich in memorials of a thriving past, but now sunk into decay. It seemed at the postoffice at eight o'clock on Friday morning as if there had been a resurrection of the models from which the Irish cartoons and caricatures of last century were produced. There were the old men in the familiar tall hats, tailed coats and tight breeches, some with the actual shillelagh in hand, most of them unshaven and gaptoothed; and old women in red shawls like the picturesque, if poverty-stricken, figures one finds in odd corners of the Pyrenees. They were all waiting in a crowd before the doors were open, and it was amusing to watch them, after the hour had struck, hustling up to the counter, and, when they received the half-crowns, retiring to a corner trying to break and, with decayed teeth, to bite the coins in apprehension lest forgeries should have been foisted on them! Finally, with a grim smile, the money was pocketed, and they went their several ways-some to wet the event with a mug of porter, but the majority, let us hope, home.
To appreciate what all this means it is necessary to understand the economy of the cottage. Even among the more thriving farmer households in the West coin is very scarce. barren mountainous country is not suitable for the creamery system that under the guidance of Sir Horace Plunkett has done so much for more fertile districts. The western peasant keeps a cow and sometimes two cows. He prefers a big shorthorn to a little Kerry, because his aim is to rear calves for stores, and not to sell milk. From the daily yield he gives the calf a portion, reserving the rest for consumption. Usually the woman makes enough butter for the family, with, under favourable circumstances,