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of the Congested Districts Board, being very convincing on this point. He stated that out of some 220,000 agricultural labourers in Ireland, at least 24,000 migrate every year to England to seek employment. Most of these labourers have small agricultural holdings which occupy them during the spring and summer—the very class adapted for work in the forest. In bad seasons the Irish Government, said Mr. Doran, have been compelled to devise relief works of a comparatively useless character,' whereas if the State had possessed forest land in that country, which is better adapted than most other countries for the production of timber, this chronically surplus labour might have been put to good account by enriching the land for generations to come.

Unfortunately a most ill-advised and disastrous experiment in forestry was begun by the Congested Districts Board in 1891. An area of 960 acres in Connemara on the barren windswept seaboard of the Atlantic having been handed over to the Board by the Irish Land Commission, planting operations were vigorously started. Any experienced forester could have foretold the result. In 1895, out of two million coniferous trees and half a million hard woods planted nearly all were dead or dying except the worthless Austrian and mountain pines. In 1898, after 10,5001. had been spent on the forest' of Knockboy, operations were suspended, and sceptics in British forestry were strengthened in their incredulity.

It is difficult to believe that the Report of the Royal Commission, endorsing, as it does fully, the conclusions reached by every preceding inquiry, can fail of effect in moving the Government to this great undertaking, even if something short of the full scheme put forward be the measure of their confidence. The two main inducements to action are to be found in the actual contraction in the available foreign supply, threatening the prosperity of our principal industries, nay, the very existence of some of them, and the expediency of providing rural employment of the most desirable kind as a counter-agency to the townward movement of the population. If any further justification for the enterprise be required, it may be found in the argument of the Commissioners that ‘Money expended in afforestation differs in kind from other calls on the national purse. It is a productive investment of capital. No stronger justification for proceeding by loan than a reproductive outlay exists.'







All in a moment overwhelmed and fallen.--MILTON.

A FEW observations made on the spot concerning the effect produced on human beings by the recent disastrous disturbances of earth and sea may not be without interest from a psychological standpoint at the present time.

If it be true that wine reveals truth, no less does terror draw aside the veil of human conventionalism to show the true character of men and women beneath. The greater the terror the more evident are the signs betraying individual characteristics ; because insincerity (which is also a distorted form of self-protection) being laid aside, the real human being stands out as Nature made him. At least, so it appeared to me during the days which succeeded the catastrophe which razed Messina and Reggio to the ground and destroyed the many other towns and villages of Sicily and Calabria.

The events of the fateful 28th of December in the small and wellknown hill-town of Sicily, where I was at the time, may be briefly related.

At 5.20, when the morning was yet dark except for the brilliancy of many stars in a cloudless sky, and when the inhabitants were sleeping after the Christmas merrymaking, a violent upheaval of the earth, accompanied by a dull rumbling, awoke me. That was followed immediately by a convulsive shaking, which made me realise what a rat must feel when in the mouth of a terrier. I wondered how long that shaking would last. The first thought of those who live in ' earthquake countries' is as to the duration and force of a shock, and whether it be wiser to take refuge in the open air. It seemed as if that trembling would never end. It lasted half a minute, though the instruments in the Messina Observatory, which were not destroyed, recorded thirty-five seconds as the duration of the greatest shock. Elsewhere in Sicily it was less. Then the roar of many waters was heard. It was the advance and receding of the seismic waves which added devastation to that of the earthquake.

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Shouts, wailings, imprecations, desperate cries of terror and of appeal to the saints, accompanied by the barking of dogs, came from below and resounded from all quarters of the town. The still night suddenly became one of indescribable uproar. As if by magic windows were illuminated as the electric lights were turned on by the awakened sleepers. The clamour continued as shock succeeded shock. People precipitated themselves from the houses in costumes hastily improvised. A cry

of ‘San Pancrazio ' was raised ; and a crowd of awestricken people hurried, lanterns in hand, to the church of their patron saint on the side of the hill outside the town.

There, filling the church to overflowing, they prostrated themselves before the image whose help they had come to invoke. Humility and penitence, tearful supplication and agonised fear, were marked on anxious faces dimly illuminated by the few hastily lighted candles on the altar. Outside in the arched court the people also knelt, calling aloud for protection, muttering audible prayers accompanied by sobs.

The east reddened with the dawn. The earth shook at intervals. Later, more of the population, headed by the town band, hurried to the church. By common consent it was agreed that the saint should be taken to the town to assure greater protection by his presence. It was then daylight.

Amid the clanging of bells, shouts of the people, and solemn music, the large figure of San Pancrazio was carried shoulder high by many willing bearers from the sanctuary into the ante-court, and thence up the steep path to the arched gateway of the town.

The populace filled the streets ; the slight balconies were perilously packed; the band played lustily ; and the huge procession, gathering in numbers as it went, passed from one end of the town to the other. It was a moment of exhilaration which lasted but a short time.

In the small space between two castellated gateways, the image was lifted from the shoulders of its supporters and placed on the ground. The many who helped to carry the heavy shrine wiped their foreheads hot with exertion.

The little piazza was crowded. Locomotion was difficult. All elbowed their way towards the saint, who, seated on his gilded throne and clad in gorgeous vestments with a jewelled mitre on his head and a crozier in his left hand, while the right was raised in the act of blessing, received homage from the faithful.

Now that the music and the shouts of enthusiasm had ceased, the faces of the crowd became again sad and full of concern. A silence fell upon the multitude. The danger had been so recent and alarming that terror resumed easy sway. Priests in biretta and camicia; aged women with faces scored with lines; old men supported on sticks; women and girls in bright-coloured dresses and


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gaudy kerchiefs about their heads; men, youths, and boys with lighted tapers in their hands, formed that remarkable crowd. All were pensive, solemn, pale. They muttered prayers and invocations, "using their hands in supplication. Many were in tears. It was a strangely impressive crowd, which had but one common feelingthat of abject fear and apprehension. Women crossed themselves.

Madonna mia,' they said mechanically, calling upon the Virgin and saints in turn. 'Quando mai, quando mai,' queried an old man tearfully to himself, shaking his head. He had never known so awful an earth-shock, so great a terror, as this.

The calamity appeared to draw people together. It was a brotherhood of grief. Companionship was essential. Solitude unbearable. They communicated their woe by expressive gestures, as is their wont, not by words. Words were inadequate to convey the depth of their despair. That silence of a garrulous and laughter-loving people measured the “deep mysterious fear' which pervaded all minds. The strident voices of the women were hushed. Ragged urchins were mute, and wandered aimlessly about, their tricks and their games forgotten. Even the whining beggars omitted to ask for alms—the money collected that day was to propitiate the saint and not for them. An undefined yet overpowering sense of the dreadful was abroad ; it deepened as the hours passed. Had they known the fate which had befallen Messina and Calabria, with the loss of kinsfolk and friends, cries and lamentation would have broken that silence. But the direful knowledge was yet to come.

Then the procession was re-formed. As the saint was raised once more on the shoulders of his half-hundred bearers and wended his way to his temporary abode in the mother church, patereroes roared, bells clanged, men cheered, and the throng pushed forward eagerly to serve as escort and guard of honour. The saint entered the big church through the west door. The building, in spite of danger from the continuous shocks of earthquake, was crowded from end to end. The congregation rose as the procession went in. The sacred burden was deposited before the high altar ablaze with the light of many tapers. The organ took up the music as the band ceased; the religious function began.

What has been related was the visible result of the earthquake in men's minds. But it seemed to me there was more of interest beneath the surface. It is certain that all who had had a share in the alarm of the morning had undergone a change wrought by a shock so sudden and severe. How had it affected them ? That was my thought when I looked at the upturned faces of the congregation as they listened rapturously to the discourse of the gentle and intellectual young priest who addressed the multitude from the pulpit.

How had it affected him ? I can imagine that pity was the foremost feeling in his mind-pity for the sorely-distressed and panic

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stricken souls about him, with gratitude for a merciful escape from the death which had been so imminent.

But that was a theme scarcely touched upon as he spoke. True to his calling and training, he sought rather to impress upon the people the teaching of the Church and a proper observance of its precepts. It was an address to the poor and lowly. Pointing to the sacred figure of the saint before the altar, he told them in eloquent words that the disaster was a direct visitation of Heaven for their neglect. There could be no doubt of it. The following day was marked in the calendar as the name-day, or festa, of the saint. No preparation had been made to honour him. Though the town was rich and prosperous they had neglected him for some years. The preacher blamed them for their laxity. He called upon them to cease from their neglect; from swearing; from lying ; from thieving; in order to merit his protection. He ended by proclaiming a solemn feast-day to be held later in less troublous times as a sure means of securing the saint's favours and propitiating his wrath.

It was a moment well chosen for such a theme. That it was not distasteful was evidenced by the eagerness with which the very poor, also, put their pence into the collecting bags assiduously circulated throughout the church for the cost of the coming festa.

His words produced the effect intended by the preacher. Assured of the protection of the saint, the haggard look of apprehension, that startled look in the eyes, which I had noticed earlier in the day, softened. Courage returned as loud evvivas for the saint echoed through the building at the preacher's call.

In times of disaster the Southern Italians, who may have been led astray from, or are indifferent in regard to, religious observances, become very devout. When the cholera epidemic ravaged Sicily; when Vesuvius was in eruption more recently; and now in this much graver calamity, the churches were, as they are now, crowded with worshippers, returned once more to the fold in ecstasies of devotion and contrition.

Later, when the church had emptied of all but a very few, I noticed that one very old woman remained at the side of the enthroned saint. I watched her. She could have had nothing to lose by the earthquake, because she probably possessed nothing but the few rags which covered her and the stick on which she leant so heavily. But her tears and her sobs, and the ardent kisses impressed on the gilded slipper of the saint might have indicated dread for the loss of countless treasures. Was she fearful that her beloved paese might be destroyed ? that the few suffering years which remained might be denied her? Or was it the fear of the unknown and the terrible which assailed her ? I imagine it was the last. But whatever it was, she alone of the many worshippers of the morning remained in supplication at the feet of him who from her childhood she had learnt to believe was her inter

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