On the ground are grown

a pound or two over for the shop. potatoes for domestic use, a crop of hay, and as many cereals as there is room left for. A few ducks and chickens and a sheep or two, if there is a run for them, complete the stock. In the matter of food, such a household is almost self-supporting. That is one reason why the children, even where the families (no unusual case) run into double figures, are so beautiful and healthy. No part of the British Islands can show more promising children. A principal reason is that they are fed on wholesome farm-produce, milk, potatoes, and eggs forming a great part of the dietary. But, as regular wages do not come in, money is scarce, and the advent of a crown a week is like a fortune. The old and decrepit used to have hard times in the cottages. They are, under the new dispensation, regarded as a source of income. 'They're sorry when the old 'uns die now,' said an Irishman, with a laugh.

It is unnecessary to argue that under Home Rule the payment of old-age pensions would be endangered, although that is no impossible contingency; but here is proof incontrovertible that there are concrete advantages in a little, backward country like Ireland being part of a great Empire. This reform owes nothing whatever to Irish advocacy; it was in origin and carrying out an English measure. Up to now, in fact, Ireland has produced politicians who are agitators rather than statesmen. Recent progress has owed them very little. They regard co-operation, in the words of Mr. Dillon, as a machine to burst up the National movement and the National party.' My experience is that the peasant, even in districts where co-operative dairying is impossible, has come to attach the highest value to co-operation. If, as is universally admitted, it is good for the individual, it must be better still for the country. Were Ireland a foreign nation, its pastoral character would make it incumbent on its inhabitants to get into the closest possible connexion with Great Britain. Their policy would be directed to attaining the very position which they now wish to sacrifice. At any rate, the little peasant farmer of the West has no reason to complain. His original misery is clearly traceable to industrial failure that towards the end of the eighteenth century forced on to the land a greater population than it could support. There was nobody and nothing to blame, unless it were the softening western breeze which does not generate the energy of a ruggeder clime. Instead of searching out new openings for their work, the people settled down on the land. To examine that rough, infertile, mountainous land, where the tiniest holdings used to be, is to wonder, not at the poverty, idleness, disaffection, but that life could have been supported at all. Antagonism between classes followed naturally and inevitably. It found its ultimate expression in landlordism on one

side and Land Leagueism on the other. What must be recognised in the light of subsequent history is that few antagonisms have led to so many cruel incidents-evictions by the landlords, moonlighting by the tenants-and none has been so barren of good results. The salvation of Ireland lies clearly along the path of constructive work-the readjustment of holdings, piecing, patching, draining of the Congested Districts Board, and the reorganisation of agriculture on the lines laid down by Sir Horace Plunkett. Where these are at work I found the people concentrating their attention on the land to a degree that was causing a perceptible waning of their interest in politics. They are discovering what an amount of leeway they have to make up. Circumstances have hitherto prevented them from acquiring skill in the management of land and its products. I could not help laughing at the complaint of an old-fashioned innkeeper who was lamenting the dearness and the difficulty of the times. He said he remembered when his father wanted eggs he used to send him to the farm with his old top-hat, which was filled for sixpence, where to-day every cottager wants so much a dozen! Where you bought a lump of butter for the coin you could produce, now it is weighed out to a hair! It would have been useless to attempt explaining what all this means in regard to the realisation of the peasants' resources, or to describe how poultry-keeping for eggs is being developed into a scientific pursuit, and the production of clean, good butter into a lucrative system.

It will be objected that, though all this may be true, I have in considering it ignored the sentiment that is expressed by the phrase: Ireland a nation.' This is not so. The Home Rule cry was generated by agrarian distress. It bore a close resemblance to the inarticulate shriek of an animal in pain, which feels its misery without being able to diagnose the cause. To continue the metaphor, Sir Horace Plunkett may be compared to the skilled physician who recognised the disease and applied the remedy. Still the creature that was hurt goes on shrieking. But my plea is that the curative method which is already showing such good results ought to be steadily continued. Every doctor has had experience of the patient who cries out for champagne and oysters when science declares that his best diet at the moment is milk and brown bread. This is speaking purely of the political outlook. All of us sympathise with certain aspects of the national cry. It is extremely delightful to hear a musician play the old music and sing the ancient songs. Gaelic is a worthy and noble study which deserves the support of all who are interested in ancient literature and ancient history; but it is a scholastic study. There is no good ground whatever for recommending it as the spoken language of a people. The transactions of life are

conducted by these farmers in English. Over the whole of Ireland they are working for the English market. In times of famine and distress it is to England that they first turn. I very well remember the bands of Irishmen who used to come over to shear in harvest. Many of them at that time knew no English whatever, and spoke only Gaelic; but this was a severe handicap to them in search for work. There can be no doubt whatever that the most useful language to the peasant farmer, whether he comes from Ireland, or Wales, or Scotland, is English.

The present enthusiasm for Gaelic is leading education altogether astray. Nobody in Ireland seems to recognise that the greatest asset which the country possesses at the moment is the generation of promising children. The duty of the Government is to educate and fit them to make many steps in advance of their predecessors. Particularly is this true with regard to the land and natural history. In no other country does one meet with a population which is so little interested in outdoor objects. Children stopped on the way could not tell me the names of the most common birds or plants, and even boatmen seem to pay no attention to the different species of sea-bird. At a little inn close to the waterside, herons, curlews, and other visitants used to fly down to the shore late in the evening or in the early morning. Often for curiosity I asked the names, but was almost invariably told that they were gulls. Every bird of any size that comes near the sea appears to be labelled as a gull. There is no worthier object before reformers than that of developing the intelligence of the children. The object should not be so much to impart actual knowledge as to create that atmosphere which comes from familiarity with natural history, agriculture, and the open-air life. This would obviously prepare them, when they came to manhood and womanhood, to hear with far more understanding and sympathy the lecturers and instructors sent round by the Board of Agriculture. It is, at the present moment, pathetic to observe how anxious are middle-aged men and women, whose early education has been neglected, to gather the sense of what these emissaries of science have to tell them. They have ceased to doubt the efficacy of the teaching, because wherever it has been adopted it has effected good results; has, in a most perceptible manner, increased prosperity. Hence the Irish peasant farmer's attitude to the teaching for which the Board of Agriculture is responsible is most docile. If, in early youth, he had received such an intelligent nature-teaching as is given, for example, in some of our Eastern Counties-Cambridge, Suffolk, Essex-he would have been in a far better position to take advantage of the new ideas.

Superstition is still rampant in the country. It is petted and

encouraged by literary people anxious to make 'copy' out of it. It is very easy to understand and sympathise with those who take a pleasure in reproducing surviving superstitions; but they are a barrier to real progress. Moreover, it is a very bad state of affairs when the poor and ignorant hold gross beliefs in which the intelligent classes do not share. One day I was telling a priest, widely known as a student and exponent of Gaelic tradition, that in a certain household the women had vied with one another in relating stories of the miracles accomplished by performing a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Patrick. I told him roundly that he knew these stories to be rubbish, and asked him what were the facts about St. Patrick. He replied that he had for forty years studied all that he could lay hold of in regard to the legendary saint, and the only definite truth was that there was not a single fact about him which had been established. He went on to expatiate on the advantage of people living their lives in a quiet and untroubled manner. He said there was nothing to be gained by hustling and bustling in this world, and that a population would be none the better because it had got rid of pleasant superstitions. One could not help laughing with the jolly priest; and yet he was unconsciously depicting a policy that would lead Ireland back to irretrievable darkness and misery.

After reading what the most temperate exponents of Home Rule have said, it seems to me impossible to extract from them any promise of substantial advantage to Ireland. Mr. Winston Churchill is one of the ablest men in politics at the present moment, and when he writes with conviction I have no difficulty in following him; but when he comes to explain the merits and desirability of Home Rule, his language seems to me forced and unconvincing. It would not be courteous to call it insincere, and yet it has the effect of insincerity. For this occasion only he seems to fall into that style of turgid rhetoric for which this cause seems to be a trap. Lord MacDonnell does not produce a similar impression; but a case must be very bad when even he cannot state it clearly. Home Rule at the present moment is a retrograde policy which does not promise to forward, but to jeopardise progress in Ireland. The only paths likely to lead to a happy issue are those that travel respectively along the way of increased agricultural organisation and development, and energetic concentration on the education of the young. Were the latter to be attended to as carefully as it deserves, the ills of Ireland would rise and disappear like morning mist at the advent of the sun.



(FEBRUARY 7th, 1812-1912)

It is when one takes pen in hand to write of Dickens, especially when faced by an occasion such as the Centenary of his birth, that the true praise of him emerges. Detraction's voice has been heard; and so ruthlessly that no detail has escaped attention. His pathos has been dismissed as maudlin; his characterisation has been called grotesque and exaggerated; his style has been derided as no style at all in the cant meaning of the word, as shapeless and frameless, degenerating often into an uneasy singsong of halting metre; his craft, for all the care of his scheming, has been scoffed at; his art has been put aside as untrue to life; and even his humour, that which of all things one would have thought would have been left to him, has been called rudimentary and crude. It is not difficult to see, in each particular criticism, what is meant and to see a criticism is to admit its justice, given its point of view. But criticism is the faultiest of all instruments. For it is the function of criticism to be analytical; and there is no one thing in the world that cannot be analysed to its degradation. Analysis is too often the coward's subterfuge for escaping the responsibility of manly judgment. Such judgment proceeds, not by way of analysis, but by vision, which is the preception of a synthesis. And it is conceivable that one might find no virtue, or little virtue, in any detail of a work of art, of an achievement of the creating imagination, and yet find oneself strangely thrilled by the whole and total effect. It is certainly almost impossible to decide what contribution any one detail, good or bad, makes to the total effect that is the only thing that, in the end, matters.

For example, it is lamented that Wordsworth had not the critical faculty to see what was good in his work, and what was bad; so that he might have suppressed the bad, and left the good in all its pure loveliness. Criticism (that has always seen so well what is good and what bad in Literature and the High Arts) has declared that to Wordsworth all was of the same value in his work that he put out a bad poem with all the solemnity and sense of its importance as a good poem. And, in that, And, in that, Criticism

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