The Red Hand of Ulster
by George A. Birmingham
THE RED HAND
G. A. BIRMINGHAM
AUTHOR OF SPANISH GOLD, THE MAJOR'S NIECE,
PRISCILLA'S SPIES, ETC.
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
By George H. Doran Company
In a book of this kind some of the characters are necessarily placed
in the positions occupied by living men; but no character is in any way
copied from life, and no character must be taken as representing any
real person. Nor must the opinions of Lord Kilmore of Errigal, the
imaginary narrator of the tale, be regarded as those of the Author.
G. A. B.
LORD KILMORE OF ERRIGAL
The events recorded in this chapter and the next did not fall under
my own observation. I derived my knowledge of them from various
sources, chiefly from conversations with Bob Power, who had, as will
appear, first-hand knowledge. In the third chapter I begin my own
personal narrative of the events which led up to the final struggle of
Ulster against Home Rule and of the struggle itself. Accidents of one
kind or another, the accidents of the situation of Kilmore Castle, the
accident of Bob Power's connection with my daughter Marion, the
accidents of my social position and personal tastes, have placed me in
a position to give a very full account of what actually happened. The
first two chapters of this book will therefore be written in the
impersonal manner of the ordinary history; I myself occupying the
position of unseen spectator. The rest of the book is largely founded
upon the diary which I actually kept.
THE RED HAND OF ULSTER
It was in 1908 that Joseph Peterson Conroy burst upon London in the
full magnificence of his astounding wealth. English society was, and
had been for many years, accustomed to the irruption of millionaires,
American or South African. Our aristocracy has learnt to pay these
potentates the respect which is their due. Well-born men and women trot
along Park Lane in obedience to the hooting calls of motor horns. No
one considers himself degraded by grovelling before a plutocrat.
It has been for some time difficult to startle London by a display
of mere wealth. Men respect more than ever fortunes which are reckoned
in millions, though they have become too common to amaze. But Joseph
Peterson Conroy, when he came, excited a great deal of interest. In the
first place his income was enormous, larger, it was said, than the
income of any other living man. In the next place he spent it very
splendidly. There were no entertainments given in London during the
years 1909, 1910, and 1911, equal in extravagance to those which Conroy
gave. He outdid the freak dinners of New York. He invented freak
dinners of his own. His horsesanimals which he bought at enormous
priceswon the great races. His yachts flew the white ensign of the
Royal Yacht Squadron. His gifts to fashionable charities were princely.
English society fell at his feet and worshipped him. The most exclusive
clubs were honoured by his desire of membership. Women whose fathers
and husbands bore famous names were proud to boast of his friendship.
It cannot be said that Conroy abused either his position or his
opportunities. He had won his great wealth honestlythat is to say
without robbing any one except other robbers, and only robbing them in
ways permitted by American law. He used what he had won honourably
enough. He neither bought the favours of the women who thronged his
entertainments; nor degraded, more than was necessary, the men who
sought benefits from him. For a time, for nearly four years, he
thoroughly enjoyed himself, exulting with boyish delight in his own
splendour. Then he began to get restless. The things he did, the people
he knew, ceased to interest him. It was early in 1911 that the crisis
came; and before the season of that year was over Conroy had
disappeared from London. His name still appeared occasionally in the
columns which the newspapers devote to fashionable intelligence. But
the house in Park Lanethe scene of many magnificent
entertainmentswas sold. The dinner parties, balls and card parties
ceased; and Conroy entered upon what must have been the most exciting
period of his life.
Bob Powerno one ever called him Robertbelonged to an old and
respected Irish family, being a younger son of General Power of
Kilfenora. He was educated at Harrow and afterwards at Trinity College.
He was called to the Irish bar and might have achieved in time the
comfortable mediocrity of a County Court judgeship if he had not become
Conroy's private secretary. The post was secured for him by an uncle
who had known Conroy in New York in the days before he became a
millionaire, while it was still possible for an ordinary man to do him
a favour. Bob accepted the post because everybody said he would be a
fool to refuse it. He did not much like writing letters. The making out
of schemes for the arrangements of Conroy's guests at the more formal
dinner parties worried him. The general supervision of the upper
servants was no delight to him. But he did all these things fairly
well, and his unfailing good spirits carried him safely through periods
of very tiresome duty. He became, in spite of the twenty-five years'
difference of age between him and his patron, the intimate friend of
Joseph Peterson Conroy.
It was to Bob that Conroy confided the fact that he was tired of the
life of a leader of English society. The two men were sitting together
in the smoking room at one o'clock in the morning after one of Conroy's
most magnificent entertainments.
I'm damned well sick of all this, said Conroy suddenly.
So am I, said Bob.
Bob Power was a man of adventurous disposition. He had a reputation
in Connacht as a singularly bold rider to hounds. The story of his
singlehanded cruise round Ireland in a ten tonner will be told among
yachtsmen until his son does something more extravagantly idiotic. The
London season always bored him. The atmosphere of Conroy's house in
Park Lane stifled him.
Is there any one thing left in this rotten old world, said Conroy,
that's worth doing?
In Bob's opinion there were several things very well worth doing. He
suggested one of them at once.
Let's get out the Finola, he said, and go for a cruise.
We've never done the South Sea Islands.
The Finola was the largest of Conroy's yachts, a handsome
vessel of something over a thousand tons.
Cruising in the Finola, said Conroy, is no earthly good to
me. What I want is something that will put me into a nervous sweat, the
same as I was when I was up against Ikenstein and the railway bosses.
My nerves were like damned fiddle strings for a fortnight when I didn't
know whether I was going to come out a pauper or the owner of the
biggest pile mortal man ever handled.
Bob knew nothing of Ikenstein or the methods by which the pile had
been wrested from him and his companions, but he did know the
sensations which Conroy described. He, himself, arrived at them by
hanging on to a sea anchor in a gale of wind off the Galway coast, or
pushing a vicious horse at a nasty jump. Nervous sweat, stretched
nerves and complete uncertainty about the immediate future afford the
same delight however you get at them. He sympathized with Conroy.
You might fit out a ship or two and try exploring round the South
Pole, Bob said. They've got the thing itself of course, but there
must be lots of places still undiscovered in the neighbourhood. I
should think that hummocking along over the ice floes in a dog sledge
must be pretty thrilling.
I'm too fat, he said, and I'm too darned soft. The kind of life
I've led for the last four years isn't good training for camping out on
icebergs and feeding on whale's blubber.
Bob smiled. Conroy was a very fat man. A camping party on an iceberg
would be likely to end in some whale eating his blubber.
I didn't mean you to go yourself, said Bob.
Oh! I see. I'm to fit out the expedition and you are to go in
command. I don't quite see where the fun would come in for me. It
wouldn't excite me any to hear of your shooting Esquimaux and penguins.
I shouldn't care enough whether you lived or were froze to get any
excitement out of a show of that kind.
We'd call it 'The Joseph P. Conroy Expedition,' said Bob; and the
Thanks. But I'm pretty well fed up with newspaper tosh. The press
has boosted me ever since I landed in this country, and I'd just as
soon they stopped now as started fresh.
Bob relinquished the idea of a Polar expedition with a sigh.
It was Conroy himself who made the next suggestion.
If politics weren't such a rotten game
Bob did not feel attracted to political life; but he was loyal to
Clithering, he said, was talking to me to-night. You know the man
I mean, Sir Samuel Clithering. He's not in the Cabinet, but he's what
I'd call a pretty intimate hanger on; does odd jobs for the Prime
Minister. He said the interest of political life was absorbing.
I shouldn't care for it, said Conroy. After all, what would it be
worth to me? There's nothing for me to gain, and I don't see how I
could lose anything. It would be like playing bridge for counters. They
might make me a lord, of course. A title is about the only thing I
haven't got, but then I don't want it.
I quite agree with you, said Bob. I merely mentioned politics
because Clithering said
Besides, said Conroy, it wouldn't be my politics. England isn't
It would be rather exciting, said Bob, to run a revolution
somewhere. There are lots of small states, in the Balkans, you know,
which could be turned inside out and upside down by a man with the
amount of money you have.
There's something in that notion, said Conroy. Get a map, will
Bob Power did not want to go wandering round the house at half-past
one o'clock in the morning looking for a map of the Balkan States. It
seemed to him that the ideathe financing of a revolution was of
course a jokemight be worked out with reference to some country
nearer at hand, the geographical conditions of which would be
sufficiently well known without the aid of a map.
Why not try Ireland? he said.
Then a very curious thing happened. Conroy's appearance, not merely
his expression but his actual features seemed to change. Instead of the
shrewd face of a successful American financier Bob Power saw the face
of an Irish peasant. He was perfectly familiar with the type. It was
one which he had known all his life. He knew it at its best, expressive
of lofty idealisms and fantastic dreams of things beyond this world's
experience. He knew it at its worst too, when narrow cunning and
unquenchable bitterness transform it. The change passed over Conroy's
face and then quickly passed away again.
By God! said Conroy, it's a great notion. To buck against the
Bob remembered the things which he had heard and half heeded about
Conroy's ancestry. In 1850 another Conroy, a broken peasant, the victim
of evil fate and gross injustice, had left Ireland in an emigrant ship
with a ragged wife and four half starved children clinging to him, with
an unquenchable hatred of England in his heart. The hate, it appeared,
had lived on in his son, had broken out again in a grandson, dominating
the cynical cosmopolitanism of the financial magnate. Bob was vaguely
uneasy. He did not like the expression he had seen on Conroy's face. He
did not like the tone in which he spoke. But it was obviously absurd to
suppose that any one could take seriously the idea of financing an
Then Conroy began to talk about Ireland. He knew, it appeared, a
great deal about the history of the country up to a certain point. He
had a traditional knowledge of the horrors of the famine period. He was
intimately acquainted with the details of the Fenian movement. Either
he or his father had been a member of the Clan na Gael. He understood
the Parnell struggle for Home Rule. But with the fall of Parnell his
knowledge stopped abruptly. Of all that happened after that he knew
nothing. He supposed that the later Irish leaders had inherited the
traditions of Mitchel, O'Leary, Davitt and the others. Bob laughed at
If you're thinking of buying guns for the Nationalists, he said,
you may save your money. They wouldn't use them if they had arsenals
full. They're quite the most loyal men there are nowadays. Why wouldn't
they? They've got most of what they want and Clithering told me the
Home Rule Bill was going to knit their hearts to the Empire. Awful rot,
of course, but his very words.
What do you mean? said Conroy.
Bob laughed again. He had all the contempt common in his class for
those of his fellow-countrymen who professed to be Nationalists. But he
had rather more intelligence than most Irish gentlemen. He quite
realized the absurdity of supposing that the Irish Parliamentary party
consisted of men who had in them the makings of rebels.
Read their speeches, he said. Since this talk of Home Rule began
they've been cracking up the glories of the British Empire likelike
the Primrose League.
To-morrow morning, said Conroy, you'll fetch me along all the
books and pamphlets you can lay hands on dealing with the present state
of the Irish question.
I want a small cart, said Bob.
Get a four-horse waggon, if you like, said Conroy.
For nearly a week Conroy remained shut up in his study. Bob was kept
busy. He spent a good deal of time in writing plausible explanations of
Conroy's failure to keep his social engagements. He ransacked the
shelves of booksellers for works dealing with contemporary Irish
politics. He harried the managers of press-cutting companies for
newspaper reports of speeches on Home Rule. These were things for which
there was little or no demand, and the press-cutting people resented
being asked for them. He even interviewed political leaders. These
gentlemen received him coldly at first, suspecting from his appearance
that he wanted to get a chance of earning £400 a year as a member of
Parliament, and hoped to persuade them to find him a constituency. When
they discovered that he was the private secretary of a famous
millionaire their manner changed and they explained the policies of
their various parties in such ways as seemed likely to draw large
cheques from Conroy.
Bob reported what they said, summarized the letters of the
disappointed hostesses, and piled Conroy's table with books, pamphlets,
and newspaper cuttings. The whole business bored and worried him. The
idea that Conroy actually contemplated organizing a rebellion in
Ireland never crossed his mind. He hoped that the political enthusiasm
of his patron would die away as quickly as it had sprung up. It was
therefore a surprise to him when, after a few weeks' hard reading,
Conroy announced his decision.
I'm going into this business, he said.
Politics? said Bob.
Politics be damned! What I'm out for is a revolution.
You can't do it, said Bob. I told you at the start that those
fellows won't fight. They haven't it in them to stand up and be shot
I'm thinking of the other fellows, said Conroy.
What other fellows? he asked.
Belfast, said Conroy.
But, he said, butbut The extraordinary nature of the idea
made him stammer. But they are Loyalists.
As I figure it out, said Conroy, they mean to rebel. That's what
they say, anyhow, and I believe they mean it. I don't care a cent
whether they call themselves Loyalists or not. It's up to them to twist
the British Lion's tail, and I'm with them.
Do you think they really mean it? said Bob.
Well, said Bob, after a slight hesitation, I do. You see I happen
to know one of them pretty well.
Bob showed political discernment. It was the fashion in England and
throughout three-quarters of Ireland to laugh at Belfast. Nobody
believed that a community of merchants, manufacturers and artisans
actually meant to take up arms, shoot off guns and hack at the bodies
of their fellow-men with swords and spears. This thing, at the
beginning of the twentieth century, seemed incredible. To politicians
it was simply unthinkable. For politics are a game played in strict
accordance with a set of rules. For several centuries nobody in these
islands had broken the rules. It had come to be regarded as impossible
that any one could break them. No one expects his opponent at the
bridge table to draw a knife from his pocket and run amuck when the
cards go against him. Nobody expected that the north of Ireland
Protestants would actually fight. To threaten fighting is, of course,
well within the rules of the game, a piece of bluff which any one is
entitled to try if he thinks he will gain anything by it. Half the
politicians in both countries, and half the inhabitants of England,
were laughing at the Belfast bluff. The rest of the politicians and the
other half of the inhabitants of England were pretending to believe
what Belfast said so as to give an air of more terrific verisimilitude
to the bluff. Conroy, guided by the instinct for the true meaning of
things which had led him to great wealth, believed that the talk was
more than bluff. Bob Power, relying on what he knew of the character of
one man, came to the same conclusion.
Who is the man you know? said Conroy. Not Babberly, is it?
Oh Lord! no, said Bob. Babberly iswell, Babberly talks a lot.
That's so, said Conroy. But if it isn't Babberly, who is it?
McNeice, said Bob, Gideon McNeice.
H'm. He's something in some university, isn't he?
Conroy spoke contemptuously. He had a low opinion of the men who win
honours in universities. They seemed to him to be unpractical
creatures. He had, indeed, himself founded a university before he left
America and handsomely endowed several professorial chairs. But he did
so in the spirit which led Dean Swift to found a lunatic asylum. He
wanted to provide a kind of hospital for a class of men who ought, for
the sake of society, to be secluded, lest their theories should come
inconveniently athwart the plans of those who are engaged in the real
business of life.
McNeice, said Bob, is a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. He was
Then he told Conroy the story of Gideon McNeice's life as far as he
knew it at that time. It was a remarkable story, but not yet, as it
became afterwards, strikingly singular.
Gideon was the son of Ebenezer McNeice, a riveter in one of the
great shipbuilding yards in Belfast. This Ebenezer was an Orangeman
and, on the 12th of July, was accustomed to march long distances over
dusty roads beating a big drum with untiring vigour. His Protestantism
was a religion of the most definite kind. He rarely went to church, but
he hated Popery with a profound earnestness. Gideon was taught, as soon
as he could speak, to say, No Pope, no Priest, no Surrender, Hurrah!
That was the first stage in his education. The second was taken at a
National school where he learned the multiplication table and the
decimal system with unusual ease. The master of a second-rate
intermediate school heard of the boy's ability. Being anxious to earn
the fees which a generous government gives to the masters of clever
boys, this man offered to continue Gideon's education without asking
payment from Ebenezer. The speculation turned out well. Gideon did more
than was expected of him. He won all the exhibitions, medals and prizes
possible under the Irish Intermediate system. At last he won a
mathematical sizarship in Trinity College.
Belfastperhaps because of the religious atmosphere of the city,
perhaps because of the interest taken by its inhabitants in
money-makinghas not given to the world many eminent poets,
philosophers or scholars. Nor, curiously enough, has it ever produced
an eminent theologian, or even a heretic of any reputation. But it has
given birth to several mathematicians of quite respectable standing.
Gideon McNeice was one of them. After the sizarship he won a
scholarship, and then, at an unusually early age, a fellowship. It is
generally believed that the examination for fellowship in Trinity
College in Dublin is so severe that no one who is successful in it is
ever good for anything afterwards. Having once passed that examination
men are said to settle down into a condition of exhausted mediocrity.
Gideon McNeice proved to be an exception to the rule. Having won his
fellowship and thereby demonstrated to the world that he knew all that
there is to know about the science of mathematics, he at once turned to
theology. Theology, since he lived in Ireland, led him straight to
politics. He became one of the fighting men of the Irish Unionist
party. He also, chiefly because of his very bad manners, became very
unpopular among the fellows and professors of the College.
It must not be supposed that he had the smallest sympathy with the
unfortunate Irish aristocracy, who, having like the Bourbons failed
either to learn or to forget, still repeat the watch-words of long-past
centuries and are greatly surprised that no one can be found to listen
to them. Gideon McNeice's Unionism was of a much more vigorous and
militant kind. He respected England and had no objection to singing
God save the King very much out of tune, so long as England and her
King were obviously and blatantly on the side of Protestantism. He was
quite prepared to substitute some other form of government for our
present Imperial system if either the King, his representative the Lord
Lieutenant, or the Parliament of Westminster, showed the smallest
inclination to consider the feelings of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
It was thus that Bob Power, who was by no means a fool, described
McNeice's character. Conroy was interested.
I should like, he said, to see that man and talk to him. Suppose
you go over to Dublin to-morrow and bring him here.
You won't like him, said Bob. He'swell, domineering is the only
word I can think of.
For that matter, said Conroy, I am domineering too.
This was true. Conroy had good manners, unusually good manners for a
millionaire, but underneath the manners lay a determination to get his
own way in small matters as well as great. Bob, who knew both men,
expected that they would become deadly enemies in the course of
twenty-four hours. He was mistaken. To say that they became friends
would be misleading. They probably disliked each other. But they
certainly became allies, planned together and worked together the
amazing scheme which ended in the lastwe are justified in assuming
that it really was the lastrebellion of Irishmen against the power of
Conroy supplied the money and a great deal of the brains which went
to the carrying through of the plan. He had, as a financier with
world-wide interests, a knowledge of European markets and manufactures
which was very useful if not absolutely necessary. He had, as his
inspiration, an extraordinarily vivid hatred of England. This was
partly an inheritance from his Irish ancestors, men who had been
bullied for centuries and laid the blame of their sufferings on
England. Partly it was the result of the contempt he learned to feel
for Englishmen while he held his leading position in London society.
With McNeice's violent Protestantism he never can have had the smallest
sympathy. His ancestors were probably, almost certainly, Roman
Catholics. If he professed any form of Christianity it must have been
that of some sect unrepresented in England. No one ever heard of his
attaching himself, even temporarily, to either church or chapel.
McNeice also supplied brains and enthusiasm. His intelligence was
narrower than Conroy's, but more intensely concentrated. He knew the
men with whom he intended to deal. By birth and early education he
belonged to that north Irish democracy which is probably less
imaginative and less reasonable but more virile than any other in the
world. He believed, as his fathers had believed before him and his
relations believed along with him, that the Belfast man has a natural
right to govern the world, and only refrains from doing so because he
has more important matters to attend to. He believed, and could give
excellent reasons in support of his belief, that the other inhabitants
of Ireland were meant by providence to be Gibeonites, hewers of wood
and drawers of water for the people of Antrim and Down. He had quite as
great a contempt for the Unionist landlords, who occasionally spoke
beside him on political platforms, as he had for the Nationalist
tenants who were wrestling their estates from them.
Bob Power went to Dublin, and with great difficulty persuaded
McNeice to pay Conroy a visit in London. For a fortnight the two men
remained together, discussing, planning, devising. Others, among them
James Crossan, manager of the Kilmore Co-operative Stores, and Grand
Master of the Orangemen of the county, were summoned to the conference.
Then the first steps were taken. McNeice went back to Ireland and
began, with the aid of James Crossan, his work of organization. Conroy
sold his house in London, realized by degrees a considerable part of
his large fortune, placed sums of money to his credit in French and
German banks and gave over the command of his yacht, the Finola,
to Bob Power. From this time on Conroy disappeared from London society.
Stories were told in clubs and drawing-rooms about the sayings and
doings of His Royal Magnificence J. P. C., but these gradually grew
stale and no fresh ones were forthcoming. The newspapers still printed
from time to time paragraphs which had plainly been sent to them by
Conroy himself, but no one at the time took very much interest in them.
Mr. J. P. Conroyso people readhas gone for a cruise in
Mediterranean waters in his steam yacht, the Finola. It did not
seem to matter whether he had or not. Among his guests are Then
would follow a list of names; but always those of people more eminent
than fashionable. The Prime Minister went for a short cruise with him.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer went twice. Several admirals, a judge
or two, and three or four well-known generals were on board at
different times. Once he had two bishops, an Anglican who was known as
a profound theologian, and a Roman Catholic prelate from the west of
Ireland. The names of women rarely appeared on the list, but the
Countess of Moyne was advertised as having accepted Conroy's
hospitality twice. She was well placed among the notable men. She was a
young woman of singular beauty and great personal charm. She might have
been if she had chosen a leader of the society which lives to amuse
itself. Her husband's great wealth and high social position would have
secured her any place in that world which she chose to take. Being a
woman of brains as well as beauty she chose to work instead of play,
and had become a force, real though not formally recognized, in
It is a curious instance of the careful way in which Conroy worked
out the details of his plans, that he should have used the Finola
in this way. The cruises which he took with his eminent guests were
always well advertised and always short. But the Finola was kept
continually in commission. Her voyages when there were no great people
on board were longer, were never advertised, and were much more
exciting. But no one suspected, or could have suspected, that a
millionaire's yacht, and it the temporary home of the leading members
of the governing classes, could have been engaged in a secret trade,
highly dangerous to the peace and security of the nation. It is
difficult even now to imagine that after landing the Prime Minister and
couple of bishops at Cowes the yacht should have started off to keep a
midnight appointment with a disreputable tramp steamer in an
unfrequented part of the North Sea; that Bob Power, after making
himself agreeable for a fortnight to Lady Moyne, should have sweated
like a stevedore at the difficult job of transhipping a cargo in
I now reach the time when I myself came for the first time in touch
with Conroy's plans and had my first meeting with Gideon McNeice.
I am an insignificant Irish peer, far from wealthy, with a taste for
literature, and, I think, a moderate amount of benevolent feeling
towards those of my fellow-men who do not annoy me in any way. I sold
the estate, which had long before ceased to be in any real sense my
property, immediately after the passing of the Land Act of 1903. I have
lived since then chiefly in Kilmore Castle, a delightfully situated
residence built by my grandfather, which suits me very well indeed. I
have occupied my time for years back in gathering materials for a
history of all the Irish rebellions there have ever been. My daughter
Marion used to help me in this work, by filing and classifying the
various slips of paper on which I made notes. Now that she has got
married and cannot help me any more I have given up the idea of
finishing my great work. I am satisfying my evil itch for writing by
setting down an account of the short struggle between north-eastern
Ulster and the rest of the British Empire.
The 5th of June was the day on which I first met Bob Power, first
came into contact with McNeice, and first set eyes on the notorious
Finola. It was the day fixed by my nephew Godfrey D'Aubigny for the
first, for that year, of the series of garden-parties which I give
annually. I detest these festivities, and I have every reason to
believe that they must be quite as objectionable to my guests as they
are to me. It is Godfrey who insists on their being held. He holds that
I am bound to do some entertaining in order to keep up my position in
the county. I am not in the least interested in my position in the
county; but Godfrey is, and, of course, the matter is of some
importance to him. He is heir to my title. I used to think and he used
to think that he would ultimately enjoy my income too, securing it by
marrying my daughter Marion. I am glad to say he has not succeeded in
doing this. Marion has married a much better man.
I was sitting in my study after breakfast, fiddling with my papers,
but unable to settle down to work. The prospect of the party in the
afternoon depressed and irritated me. Godfrey entered the room suddenly
through the window. The fact that he is my heir does not seem to me to
entitle him to come upon me like a thief in the night. He ought to go
to the door of the house, ring the bell, and ask if I am willing to see
Good morning, Excellency, he said, glorious day, isn't it?
Godfrey always addressed me as Excellency. I cannot imagine why he
does so. I have never been and never hope to be a Lord Lieutenant or a
Colonial Governor. The title is not one which belongs to the office of
a deputy lieutenant of a county, the only post of honour which I hold.
I expect we'll have a pretty good crowd this afternoon, he said.
Lady Moyne is motoring over. But that's not what I came to say to you.
The fact is that something rather important has just happened.
The people in the gate lodge have burst the new boiler I put in for
them, I suppose? This is the kind of thing Godfrey considers
Not that I know of, he said; but I'll go down and inquire if you
I don't think anything about the matter, I said. If it isn't
that, what is it that you've come to tell me?
A big steam yacht has just anchored in the bay, he said, the
Finola. She belongs to Conroy, the millionaire.
Godfrey is intensely interested in millionaires. He always hopes
that he may be able in some way to secure for himself some of their
I think, he said, you ought to go down and leave a card on him.
It would only be civil.
Very well, I said, you can go and leave my card, if you like.
This was evidently what Godfrey expected me to say. He seemed
Very well, Excellency, I'll go at once. I'll invite him and his
party to your menagerie this afternoon. I dare say it will amuse them
to see the natives.
Godfrey always calls my parties menageries, and my guests natives.
Lady Moyne and her husband, who sometimes comes with her, are not
counted as natives. Nor am I. Nor is Marion. Nor is Godfrey himself.
This illustrates the working of Godfrey's mind. As a matter of fact the
Moynes and my own family are about the only people of social importance
in the locality who ought to be called natives. My other guests are all
strangers, officials of one kind or another, stipendiary magistrates,
police officers, bank managers, doctors, clergymen and others whom an
unkind fate has temporarily stranded in our neighbourhood; who all look
forward to an escape from their exile and a period of leisure
retirement in the suburbs of Dublin.
Godfrey left me, and I went on fidgetting with my papers until
Marion and I were just finishing luncheon when Godfrey came in
Well, I said, have you captured your millionaire?
He wasn't on board, said Godfrey. There were two men there,
Power, who's Conroy's secretary, and a horrid bounder called McNeice.
They were drinking bottled stout in the cabin with Crossan.
Under those circumstances, I said, you did not, I suppose, leave
Godfrey has a standing feud with Crossan, who is not a gentleman and
does not pretend to be. Godfrey, judged by any rational standard, is
even less of a gentleman; but as the future Lord Kilmore he belongs to
the ranks of an aristocracy and therefore has a contempt for Crossan.
The two come into very frequent contact and quite as frequent conflict.
Crossan manages the co-operative store which I started, and Godfrey
regards him as one of my servants. Crossan, who has a fine instinct for
business, also manages the commercial side of our local mackerel
fishing. Godfrey thinks he would manage this better than Crossan does.
Their latest feud was concerned with the service of carts which take
the fish from our little harbour to the nearest railway station.
Crossan is politically a strong Protestant and an Orangeman of high
attainment. Godfrey has no particular religion, and in politics belongs
to that old-fashioned school of Conservatives who think that the lower
orders ought to be respectful to their betters. Crossan having been
taught the Church Catechism in his youth, admits this respect as
theoretical duty; but gets out of performing it in practice by denying
that Godfrey, or for the matter of that any one else, is his better.
Godfrey's constant complaints about Crossan are the thorns which remind
me that I must not regard my lot in life as altogether pleasant. I felt
justified in assuming that Godfrey had not left my cards on men who
degraded themselves so far as to drink bottled stout in company with
I was wrong. Godfrey did leave my cards. I can only suppose that his
respect for the private secretary of a millionaire was stronger than
his dislike of Crossan. He had even, it appeared, invited both Power
and McNeice to view my menagerie. For this he felt it necessary to
offer some excuse.
He is one of the Powers of Kilfenora, he said, so I thought it
would be no harm. By the way, Marion, what are you going to wear? I
should say that your blue crêpe de chine
Godfrey is something of an expert in the matter of woman's clothes.
Marion, I know, frequently consults him and values his opinion highly.
Unfortunately the subject bores me. I cut him short with a remark which
was intended for a snub.
I hope you have a new suit yourself, Godfrey. The occasion is an
important one. If both Lady Moyne and Conroy's private secretary are to
be here, you ought to look your best.
But it is almost impossible to snub Godfrey. He answered me with a
cheerful friendliness which showed that he appreciated my interest in
I have a new grey suit, he said. It arrived this morning, and
it's a capital fit. That's the advantage of employing really good
tailors. You can absolutely trust Nicholson and Blackett.
I have often wondered whether Nicholson and Blackett could
absolutely trust Godfrey. I have several times paid his debts, and I do
not intend to do so any more. If they were debts of an intelligible
kind I should not mind paying them occasionally. But Godfrey has no
ostensible vices. I have never heard of his doing anything wild or
disreputable. He does not gamble or borrow money in order to give
jewels to pretty actresses. He owes bills to shop-keepers for ties and
trousers. His next remark showed me that Nicholson and Blackett were
By the way, Excellency, he said, I'd be glad if you'd be civil to
the Pringles this afternoon. Get her tea or something.
Mr. Pringle is the manager of the branch of the bank in which
Godfrey keeps his account. I imagine that he and his wife owe their
invitations to my garden parties to the fact that Godfrey's account is
always overdrawn. This demand that I should be especially civil to the
Pringles suggested to me that Godfrey contemplated sending a cheque to
Nicholson and Blackett. I have no particular objection to being civil
to the Pringles. I have to be civil to some one. I readily promised to
get both tea and an ice for Mrs. Pringle; hoping that Godfrey would go
away. He did not. He began talking again about Marion's blue dress. It
was with the greatest difficulty that I got him out of the house half
an hour later by saying that if he did not go home at once he would not
have time to dress himself with the care which the new grey suit
It annoys me very much to think Godfrey is heir to my title. It used
to annoy me still more to think that Marion meant to marry him. She
assures me now that she never intended to; but she used to take an
interest in his talk about clothes and he certainly intended to marry
There are some churches in which it is considered desirable to keep
the sexes apart. The men are placed on one side of the central aisle,
the women on the other. At my garden-parties this separation takes
place naturally without the intervention of any authority. The men
gather in a group under a certain chestnut-tree and talk to each other
gloomily in low tones. The womenthere are always more women than
menseat themselves in three distinct rows round the sides of the
tennis-court. The short row across the top of the tennis-court is
reserved by an unwritten, but apparently very strict law for the ladies
of the highest social position. The Dean's wife, for instance, sits in
that row. The seats at the other end of the court are occupied by
people like the Pringles, those who are just eligible for invitations
to my parties, but have, so to speak, no social position to spare. They
always remind me of St. Paul's righteous who scarcely are saved.
The long side of the tennis-court opposite the chestnut-tree, which
forms a kind of male seraglio, is given over to those of middling
station, ladies who are, perhaps, in a position to shake hands with
Lady Moyne, and who do not, perhaps, call on Mrs. Pringle.
To this strictly observed etiquette there are two exceptions. My
nephew Godfrey does not stand under the chestnut-tree, but keeps close
to the side of Lady Moyne. The other men make it quite clear that they
do not want him. No man whom I have ever met can tolerate Godfrey's
company. He follows Lady Moyne about because he believes her to be a
lady of political influence, and he hopes she will get him a well-paid
post under the government. He is one exception. The other is Lady Moyne
herself. She declines to sit in a row. She walks about, sometimes walks
away from the rest of the party.
My daughter Marion's duty on these occasions is to drag young men
from the shelter of the chestnut-tree and make them play tennis with
young women called from one or other of the rows in which their mothers
have planted them. Marion finds this a difficult duty, requiring her
utmost tact. My own duty, which I fulfil in the most conscientious
manner, is to make as many complete journeys round the tennis-court as
possible, saying something to every lady in all three rows, and giving
a kind of general address of a friendly and encouraging kind to the men
under the chestnut-tree.
On this particular afternoon two unusual incidents broke the
monotony of my party. Lady Moyne refused to be satisfied with the
company of Godfrey. She sat down beside the Dean's wife and made
herself extremely agreeable for nearly ten minutes. Then she crossed
the corner of the tennis-court, seriously interfering with the game in
progress, and cut out the Dean from the middle of the group of men
under the chestnut-tree. Cut out is strictly the right phrase to use.
It is applied or used to be applied to the operation of capturing and
carrying off ships at anchor under the protecting guns of friendly
forts. It requires great dash and gallantry to cut out a ship. The
whole audience gaped in astonishment at Lady Moyne's daring when she
captured the Dean. She walked off with him, when she got him, to the
shrubbery at the far end of the lawn. They were a singularly
ill-assorted pair. Lady Moyne is invariably exquisite, a small woman
with dainty ways and great vivacity. The Dean is an ecclesiastic as
different as possible from the suave dignitaries who lead lives of
scholarly leisure in cathedral closes. We picture the ideal dean, a
slender man, slightly stooped, thin-lipped, with a suggestion of mild
asceticism in his face. He steps slowly through the long window of his
study. He paces the closely shaven lawn. The crows caw reverently in
lofty trees. He holds a calf-bound volume of Plato in his hand. From
time to time he glances from the cramped Greek text to the noble,
weatherworn towers of his cathedral. His life is delicately scented
with a fine mixture of classical culture and Tallis' ferial responses.
Our Deanhe is also rector of our parishis a man of a wholly
different kind. He is, for one thing, wholly unconnected with any
cathedral and has probably never paced a lawn beneath the shadow of
historic towers in all his life. This kind of detached, independent
dean is not found, I believe, anywhere except in Ireland. He is tall,
cadaverous, rugged, and he can open his eyes so wide that the whites of
them show all round the irises. Besides being a dean and the rector of
our parish, he is honorary Grand Chaplain to the Black Preceptory of
the Orange Order. Crossan, a stern judge of ecclesiastics, has the
highest opinion of him. It was surmised by a lady in the second row to
whom I happened to be talking at the time, that Lady Moyne wanted to
consult with him about the best way of defeating the Home Rule Bill.
Lady Moyne is, of course, a strong Unionist.
The second unusual incident of the afternoon followed the arrival of
Bob Power. He came late, and Godfrey, driven from the side of Lady
Moyne, fastened on to him at once. Bob shook him off and joined Marion.
Marion, who had her duties to do and could not allow Bob to take
possession of her, introduced him to a humble maiden who sat with her
mother in the third row. Bob, it appears, selected the damsel himself
after looking all round the tennis-court. To the great scandal of every
one present he led her away from the tennis-court, and found his way to
the garden. ThereI judged by the condition of her gloves when they
returnedthey picked strawberries. I have every reason to believe that
Miss Pringlethe girl was the daughter of Godfrey's bankerenjoyed
this garden-party as she had never enjoyed one before. She was actually
laughing, and was looking very pretty when Bob brought her back to the
refreshment tent for tea.
I felt so pleased with Bob for his audacity that I asked him to dine
with us. He refused, saying that he would be busy on the yacht, but he
promised to call on us next morning.
The garden-party wore itself to an end as even the dreariest
festivities always do. Marion and I dined together in a condition of
irritable exhaustion. After dinner we played Patience for an hour in
the library. Then Marion took a novel, and I settled down to read
The Times. The night was very close and we sat with both windows
The Times had articles and letters on two subjects, the Home
Rule Bill, which was a menace to the Empire and a danger to Irish
Loyalists; and the German Navy, which was also a menace to the Empire
and a danger to every one in the United Kingdom whether loyal or not.
After reading the leading articles I passed on to the letters addressed
to the editor. These are always, in my opinion, the most interesting
part of any newspaper. The editor and leader writers are no doubt abler
men than most of their correspondents; but then they write because they
must, and they write in a hurry. The correspondents on the other hand
write because they have something in themsomething foolish as a rule,
but none the less interestingwhich is struggling for expression in
print. They alsobeing for the most part retired military
officershave abundant leisure and are able to take days, perhaps
weeks, in the preparation of their compositions.
In that particular number of The Times, two retired colonels
had written letters. One of them was disquieted by the growth of the
German Navy. He was uninteresting. The othera Colonel Malcolmson,
whom I meet occasionally at my clubhad delivered himself of a plan of
campaign, an actual fighting programme, which he recommended to the
Ulstermen, supposing that they meant to declare war against any one who
wanted them to govern themselves. This letter interested me very much.
Malcolmson offered his lawn as a parade and drill ground for
volunteers. He also said that he thoroughly understood modern guns, and
was prepared to take command of any artillery which Ulster might happen
to possess. I lay back in my chair and tried to form a mental picture
of Malcolmson, who is stout and has a bristly white moustache, aiming
an immense cannon at an income tax collector. The vision was a pleasant
one to linger over, and I added to the scene before my mind the figure
of an athletic policeman threatening to smash Malcolmson's cannon with
a baton. The Nationalist leaders then appeared in the background waving
Union Jack flags, and urging the policeman to fresh exertions in the
cause of law and order. I even seemed to hear them denouncing
Malcolmson as one of those who march through rapine and bloodshed to
the dismemberment of an Empire.
I was aroused from my agreeable reverie by Marion. She was standing
at the window looking out across the bay on the far shore of which
stands the little town of Kilmore, from which my ancestor, who was a
Union peer, took his title.
I wonder what they're doing in the village to-night, she said.
There are a lot of lights moving about in the harbour and on the
I shook myself free of the vision of Malcolmson's artillery duel
with the tax collector, and joined Marion at the window. A half moon
lit the scene before me dimly, making patches of silver light here and
there on the calm waters of the bay. The Finola, looking very
large, lay at anchor, broadside on to us, opposite the pier. On her
deck lights moved to and fro, yellow stars in the grey gloom. On the
pier were more lights, lanterns evidently, some stationary, others
flickering in rapid motion. The night was so still that I could hear
distinctly the rattle of oars in rowlocks. Boats were plying between
the Finola and the shore.
Can they be landing anything from the yacht? said Marion.
I don't think so, I said. Yachts do not carry cargoes, and if
they did they wouldn't land them in the middle of the night.
I looked at my watch. It was almost twelve o'clock. Then another
noise was added to the rattling of oars. A cart, unmistakably a cart,
lumbered across the stones at the end of the pier. After a while this
cart emerged from the black shadows of the houses and we could see it
toiling up the hill which leads out of the town. A very slight
southerly breeze was setting across the bay from the town to us. We
could hear the driver shouting encouragement to his horse as he
breasted the hill. The cart was evidently heavily loaded.
The boats haven't been out, said Marion. There cannot have been a
catch of mackerel.
When there is a catch of mackerel the fish are packed in boxes on
the pier, and carts, laden like the one we watched, climb the hill.
There is a regularly organized service of those carts under the control
It can't be fish, I said, unless the Finola has been
making a catch and has come in here to land them.
Another cart bumped its way off the pier, and in a minute or two we
saw it climbing the hill. Then the lights on the Finola's deck
went out one by one. The boats ceased plying between the yacht and the
I don't see why they should land fish in the middle of the night,
The activity of the people on the pier increased. More lights
appeared there and moved very rapidly to and fro.
Unless they're landing what they're ashamed of, said Marion, I
don't see why they're doing it at night.
Mysteries always irritate me. I answered Marion impatiently.
You can't be so foolish as to suppose that Conroy is smuggling. It
wouldn't be any temptation to a millionaire to cheat the revenue out of
the duty on a few pounds of tobacco.
Several more carts followed each other in a slow procession up the
hill. It seemed as if Crossan's entire staff of men and horses was
engaged in this midnight transport service.
Mr. Conroy might not know anything about it, said Marion. It may
I don't suppose Bob Power
There was another man on board, said Marion, and Godfrey seemed
to think that he waswell, not a very nice kind of man.
The fact that Godfrey called him a cad, I said, rather goes to
show that he is a man with a great deal of good in him. Besides, as it
happens, I know all about him. His name is McNeice and he is a Fellow
of Trinity College. It's ridiculous to suppose that he's landing a
cargo of port wine for consumption in the common room. Fellows of
College don't do that kind of thing. Besides, he's a good scholar. I
had some correspondence with him when I was writing my article on St.
Patrick's birthplace. I mean to ask him to dinner to-morrow.
That disposed of Marion and her smuggling theory. She gave me a
dutiful kiss and went to bed.
I stood at the window and watched until the last cart had mounted
the hill. The lights on the pier went out. A solitary boat rowed back
to the Finola. The town and bay were still again.
I shut the window and went back to my chair. I had some thoughts of
working up my vision of Malcolmson and his artillery into a short
article of a light kind, slightly humorous, with a vein of satire
running through it. I sometimes contribute articles of this kind, under
a pseudonym, to a London evening paper. Unfortunately my mind refused
to return to the subject. I was worried by the impossibility of finding
any explanation of the curious proceedings of the Finola. The
more I thought about the matter the less I was able to understand it.
Marion's smuggling hypothesis I dismissed as inherently absurd. It is
true that the government has withdrawn most of the coastguards from our
shores. We used to have twelve of them at Kilmore, and they were
pleasant fellows, always ready to chat on topics of current interest
with any passer-by. Now, having lingered on for some years with only
two, we have none at all. But, as I understand, coastguards are not the
real obstacle to smugglers and never were. The safety of the revenue
depends upon the perfection of the organization of its inland officers
which makes it impossible to dispose of whisky which cannot show a
respectable past history.
I was driven back finally on my own theoryinherently very
improbablethat the Finola had, in the course of her voyage,
netted an immense catch of mackerel and had come into Kilmore harbour
to get rid of them.
Bob Power called on me next morning. Marion and I were busy at my
history of Irish rebellions when Bob was shown into the library. The
sun, I recollect, was shining so brightly outside that I had the blinds
pulled down in order to soften the light. Bob's entrance had much the
same effect as pulling up the blinds again. He brought the sunshine
with him, not in the trying form of heat and glare, but tempered with a
sea breeze, and broken, so it seemed to me, into the sparkle of leaping
waves. His work, the night before, whatever it was, had not affected
As a rule I dislike being interrupted when I am engaged in my
literary work. I always absolutely hate it when Godfrey is the
interrupter. But I found myself quite pleased when Bob Power said that
we ought not to sit indoors on so fine a day. Marion ran off to get her
hat and joined us on the lawn. Bob Power led us straight to the garden,
and when we got there, made for the strawberry bed. He owned to a
pleasant recollection of the feast he had enjoyed the day before.
There is a good deal of the school-boy about Bob Power, and Marion
is quite young enough to enjoy gorging herself with ripe strawberries.
I, alas! am nearly sixty years of age. A very small number of
strawberries satisfies me, and I find that stooping to gather them from
beneath their nets tires me after a short time. Bob Power and Marion
wandered far into the remoter parts of my strawberry bed. I stayed near
the pathway. Their voices reached me and their laughter; but I could
not hear what they were saying to each other. I felt suddenly lonely.
They were getting on very well without me. I went on by myself and
inspected my melon frames. I left them after a while and took a look at
my poultry yard.
The rearing of poultry is one of the things which I do in order to
benefit my country. Quite ordinary chickens satisfy my personal needs,
and the egg of the modest barndoor fowl is all I ask at breakfast-time.
But an energetic young lady in a short tweed skirt and thick brown
boots explained to me two years ago that Ireland would be a much
happier country if everybody in it kept fowls with long pedigrees. She
must have been right about this, because the government paid her a
small salary to go round the country saying it; and no government, not
even ours, would pay people to say what is not true. Her plan for
introducing the superior hens into the homes of the people was that I
should undertake the care of such birds as she sent me, and give their
eggs, under certain conditions, to any one who asked for them. This I
agreed to do, and my new fowl yard, arranged exactly as the young lady
in thick boots wished, is my latest effort in patriotism.
The hens which inhabited it were very fine-looking birds, and the
cock who dominated them was a credit to any government. I watched them
with real pleasure for some time. Then it occurred to me as curious
that a government which recognized the value of good blood in birds,
bulls, boars, horses, and even beesif bees have bloodshould be not
only indifferent but actually hostile to our human aristocracy. For
years past animals of pedigree have been almost forced upon Ireland.
Men of pedigree have as far as possible been discouraged from remaining
in this country. This idea struck me as very suitable for one of my
light newspaper articles. I was unwilling to lose grip of it and allow
it to fade away as Malcolmson and his cannons had faded the night
before. I took a sheet of paper and a pencil from my pocket and sat
down on a stone to make a rough draft of the article. Before I had
written three sentences I heard Marion's voice.
Oh, there you are, father. We were looking for you everywhere. Mr.
Power and I want you to come and play tennis with us.
I rose and stuffed my paper into my pocket. I felt quite glad that
they had found me, although I do not care for playing tennis, and, as a
rule, enjoy writing articles.
You will get on much better without me, I said.
Oh no, said Marion; Mr. Power is sure to beat me in a single; but
I think I'd have a pretty good chance if you are on his side.
I was to act as a handicap. My efforts to help Power were reckoned
to be worth one, perhaps two strokes in every game for Marion. This was
not complimentary to me; but I dare say my tennis deserves no more
respectful treatment. I agreed to be a handicap, and I was a good one.
Marion won the first set. I got exceedingly hot, but, up to the middle
of the second set, I enjoyed myself. Then Godfrey appeared. He watched
my efforts with an air of cold superiority and contemptuous surprise.
My heart failed me and I was obliged to ask to be allowed to stop.
Bob Power invited us to lunch on the Finola. Marion accepted
the invitation joyfully. Godfrey also accepted, although I do not think
Power meant to ask him. But Godfrey is not the kind of man to miss the
chance of getting into touch, however remotely, with any one as rich as
Conroy. Power eyed him with an expression of frank dislike. Godfrey, it
seemed to me, did not much like Power. He was probably annoyed at the
way in which Power made himself agreeable to Marion. Godfrey regarded
Marion as, in a sense, his property, although there was nothing in the
way of an engagement between them.
McNeice, whom I had hoped to meet, was not on the yacht. The steward
explained to us that he was spending the day with Crossan. I could see
that the thought of any one spending the day with Crossan outraged
Godfrey's sense of decency. By way, I suppose, of annoying Power, he
asked what had been happening on the Finola at twelve o'clock
the night before.
I was awakened up, he said, by the noise of carts going along the
street and I looked out. I could see lights on the yacht and on the
pier. What on earth were you doing at that time of night?
Coaling, said Power, shortly.
It was plain to me that he disliked being asked questions. It must
have been plain to Godfrey, too, for he immediately asked another.
How did you get coal in a place like this?
Dear me, said Marion, how very unromantic! I thought you were
Godfrey's face assumed an expression of quite unusual intelligence.
He suspected Power of evil practices of some sort. Marion's suggestion
of smuggling delighted him.
But where did you get the coal? he persisted.
My dear Godfrey, I said, for all you or I know there may be
hundreds of tons of it piled up in the co-operative store. Crossan has
a wonderful business instinct. He may have speculated on a visit from
some large steamer and be making a large profit. I am the principal
shareholder, and nothing pleases me better than to see the store
I knew, as a matter of fact, that Crossan had no coal. I also knew
that the Finola was not coaling. The carts were loaded when they
were going up the hill. They would have been empty if they had been
going to get coal for the Finola. I made my remark in the hope
of discouraging Godfrey from asking more questions.
I wish you would smuggle something, said Marion. I should love to
have some French lace laid at my door in a bale in the middle of the
Marion reads novels, and the smugglers in these import French lace.
In real life the only people who try to cheat the nation out of its
duty on lace are tourist ladies, and they would not share their spoils
But why did you coal in the middle of the night? said Godfrey.
One of Godfrey's most striking characteristics is his persistent
curiosity. There is hardly anything in the world which Godfrey will not
find out if he is given time. A secret has the same attraction for him
that cheese has for a mouse. Some day, I hope, he will find a trap
baited with a seductive mystery.
We always coal at night, said Power.
Of course, said Marion, the dirt shows so much less at night than
it would in daylight.
But, said Godfrey, I don't understand why you
I rose and said that we must go ashore. I invited Power to dinner,
and urged him to bring McNeice with him if possible. I made it quite
plain that I was not inviting Godfrey. Power accepted the invitation,
and sent us off in a boat. I said good-bye firmly to Godfrey at the end
of the pier. I was annoyed with him for cross-questioning our host at
his own table. Marion and I walked home. Godfrey walked up the hill
towards the co-operative store. I am sure he did not want to see
Crossan. I cannot suppose that he would venture to catechise McNeice. I
expect he meant to prowl round the premises in hopes of discovering
casks of smuggled brandy or cases full of tobacco.
McNeice came to dinner, and I am bound to say that I found myself
very nearly in agreement with Godfrey's opinion of him. He was a
singularly ill-mannered man. Power devoted himself to Marion, and I
felt at once that their conversation was not of a kind that was likely
to be interesting either to McNeice or me. They were talking about
ski-ing and skating in Switzerland. McNeice made no effort to talk at
all. He sucked his soup into his mouth with a loud hissing noise, and
glared at me when I invited him to admire our scenery. His fish he ate
more quietly, and I took the opportunity of reminding him of our
correspondence about St. Patrick. The subject roused him.
There are, he said, seventeen different theories about the place
of that man's birth.
I knew nine myself, my own, of which I was a little proud, being the
ninth. I did not expect McNeice to deliver a harangue on the whole
seventeen, but that is what he did. Having bolted his fish, he began in
a loud, harsh voice to pour contempt on all attempts at investigating
the early history of our national saint. He delayed our progress
through dinner a good deal, because he would neither refuse nor help
himself to the entrée which my butler held at his elbow. It was
not until he had finished with the whole seventeen theories about the
saint that he turned his attention to dinner again. I ventured to
suggest that he had not even mentioned my own theory.
Oh, he said, you have a theory too, have you?
My theory, at the time of its first appearance, occupied ten whole
pages of the Nineteenth Century, and when republished, with
notes, in pamphlet form, was reviewed by two German papers. I felt hurt
by his ignorance of it, and reminded him again that we had corresponded
about the subject while I was writing the article.
If you've time to waste on that sort of thing, he said, why not
devote it to living bishops instead of one who has been dead over a
The idea of investigating the origins of our existing bishops was
new to me but not in the least attractive.
Wouldn't it be rather waste of labour, I said, to build up an
hypothesis about the birthplace of a living bishop when
It's certainly waste of labour to build up an hypothesis about a
I meant to say, I added, that if one did want to know such a
Nobody does, said McNeice.
It would, I went on, be much simpler to write and ask him.
I gathered from the way in which he spoke that McNeice did not like
bishops; but I was not prepared for the violence of the speech which he
made to me after dinner. Marion and Power were at the piano, which
stands in a far-off corner of my rather oversized drawing-room. McNeice
settled himself in front of the fire, his long legs straddled far
apart, the bow of his white tie twisted under his ear. He is a man of
singularly ferocious appearance. He has very bushy eyebrows which meet
across the bridge of his nose, shining green eyes, a large jaw heavily
underhung, and bright red hair.
He addressed me for more than half an hour on the subject of bishops
in general. I should be very sorry to write down the things he said.
Some of them were quite untrue. Others were utterly unjust. It is quite
wrong, for instance, to impute it as a crime to a whole class of men
that their heads are bald. Nobody can help being bald if his hair will
not grow any more than he can help being fat if his stomach will swell.
Fatness was another of the accusations which McNeice hurled against the
bishops. I suppose this violent hatred of an inoffensive class of men
was partly the result of McNeice's tremendous Protestantism. The poet
Milton, I think, felt in the same way about the prelates of his day.
Partly it may have been the expression of his naturally democratic
temperament. Bishops like to be called my lord by servants and
clergymen. McNeice, I imagine, has a quite evangelical dislike of such
titles. I dare say that it was the fact of my being a lord which made
him so rude to me.
On the afternoon of my garden-party I happened to be standing close
beside Lady Moyne when she was saying good-bye to the Dean. Her final
remark was addressed quite as much to him as to me.
What we have got to do, she said, is to make use of this virile
democracy of ours; to mould it into an instrument for the preservation
of social order. The introduction of the Home Rule Bill gives us just
about the chance we want.
I found myself wondering, while the diatribe against the bishops was
in full swing, whether Lady Moyne would succeed in moulding McNeice
into a weapon for her hand. It seemed to me more probable at the moment
that McNeice would in the end tumble her beautiful head from the block
of a guillotine into the basket of sawdust which waited underneath.
Marion and Bob Power were singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan's
operas while McNeice preached to me. They at least were having an
enjoyable evening. I dare say McNeice enjoyed himself too. If so, my
dinner-party was not given in vain. One cannot reasonably expect more
than three out of every four people to be happy at the same time. It
was my misfortune that I happened to be the fourth.
The Finola steamed out of our bay next morning. Marion saw
her go, and became quite lyrical at breakfast about the beauty of her
lines, a word which, as applied to the appearance of a yacht, she can
only have learned from Bob Power. I was not able to share her rapture
because the Finola went out at 6 a. m., an hour at which I make
it a settled rule to be in bed. Marion is generally in bed at 6 a. m.
too. She made an exceptional effort that morning.
For a week I enjoyed almost unbroken peace, and accumulated quite a
large sheaf of notes for my work on the Irish Rebellions. Even Godfrey
refrained from worrying me. But such happiness was too good to last
long. On Saturday morning three things happened, every one of them of a
disturbing kind. I received a letter from Lady Moyne in which she
invited me to spend three days during the following week at Castle
Affey. Castle Affey is Lord Moyne's chief Irish place. He has three
others in various parts of the country and one in England. It is about
ten miles from my home. Lady Moyne invited Marion too; but this was
evidently an after thought, and she discounted the value of the
invitation by saying that her party was to consist almost entirely of
men and might be dull for Marion. I suspected politics at once, and
advised Marion to refuse the invitation. I accepted it. Politics bore
me a good deal; but it is interesting to watch politicians at their
game. It is also pleasant, very pleasant, to be in the company of Lady
Moyne. The prospect of the visit was as I have said disturbing. I
prefer monotony. But if things must fall splashing into the pool of my
life, I would as soon they took the form of visits to Castle Affey as
The next thing which happened that morning was a deputation. It
consisted of six out of the twenty carters whom Crossan has organized
in the interests of our fishing industry. They made the modest request
that I should drive my nephew Godfrey out of the neighbourhood. I felt
the strongest possible sympathy with them. If I were a carter, a
fisherman, a shopkeeper, or a farmer, and lived in Kilmore, I should
certainly wish Godfrey to live somewhere else. I did not even question
the members of the deputation about their special reasons for wanting
to get rid of Godfrey. They told me in general terms that he was
interfering in business which was none of his. I wanted no evidence
in support of such a statement. Godfrey always interferes in
everything. A very freckled young man who seemed to be junior member of
the deputation, added that Godfrey spied upon them. Of course Godfrey
spied on them. He spies on me.
Strong as my sympathy was with the perfectly reasonable request of
the deputation, I could not act as I was asked. Godfrey is, of course,
in my employment. He collects the head rents still payable to me from
some parts of the town which were not sold when I parted with the rest
of my estate. For this I pay him £200 a year. I could, I suppose,
dismiss him if I chose; but the plain fact is that if I dismissed
Godfrey he would immediately starve or go to the workhouse. He is quite
unfit to earn his living in any way. Once, after great exertions, I
secured for him a kind of minor clerkship in a government office. His
duties, so far as I was able to learn, were to put stamps on envelopes,
and he was provided with a damp sponge to prevent any injury which
might happen to his tongue through licking the stamps. At the end of a
year he was dismissed as hopelessly incompetent. He came back to me,
beautifully dressed, with a small despatch-box full of tradesmen's
bills, and a grievance against the government. It was plain to me after
that experiment that Godfrey could never earn his own living. I did not
see my way to let him drift into the workhouse. He is, little as I like
him, the heir to my title, and, in mere decency, I could not allow the
cost of his support to fall on the rates.
This is just one of the ways in which the democratic spirit of
independence has affected us all without our knowing it. In the
seventeenth century any member of the aristocracy who was afflicted
with an heir like Godfrey had him shut up in the Bastille, or the
Tower, by means of lettres de cachet or whatever corresponded to
such instruments in England. There the objectionable young man ate
bread and drank water at the expense of the public funds. Nobody seems
to have suffered any discomfort at the thought that the cost of the
support of his relative was falling either on the rates or the taxes.
(I am not sure which it was but it must have been one or the other.)
Nowadays we are horribly self-conscious in such matters. The
debilitated labourer began it, objecting, absurdly, to being fed by
other people in the workhouse. His spirit spread to the upper classes,
and it is now impossible, morally, for me, a peer, to send my heir to
the workhouse. Fortunately public opinion is swinging round again. The
latest type of working-man has no objection to receiving an Old Age
Pension, and likes to hear of his children being given free breakfasts
at school. In time this new feeling will soak through to the class to
which I belong. Then I shall be able, without a qualm, to send Godfrey
to the workhouse. At present, I regret to say, I cannot.
I explained all this carefully to the deputation. It pained me to
have to say no to their request, but I said it quite firmly. My
decision, I think, was understood. My feelings I fear were not.
Very soon after the deputation left, Godfrey himself arrived. He
wanted me to dismiss Crossan. I am not at all sure that I could dismiss
Crossan even if I wanted to do so. He is the manager of our
co-operative store, and although most of the money which went to the
starting of that enterprise was mine there is a considerable number of
small shareholders. Crossan also runs the fishing business and our saw
mill. I capitalized both these industries, lending money to the men to
buy nets and good boats, and buying the various saws which are
necessary to the making of planks. This no doubt gives me some hold
over Crossan, but not enough to enable me to dismiss him as I might a
cook. Besides, I do not want to dismiss Crossan. He is managing these
different enterprises in such a way that they earn fair interest on the
capital I put into them.
I've been looking into things a bit, Excellency, said Godfrey.
I quite believed that. The deputation of carters said the same thing
in other words.
And you'll find yourself in an awkward place one of these days if
that fellow Crossan is allowed to go on as he's going.
I hope you're not going to drag up that dispute about the carters,
Godfrey. I'm sick of it.
The dispute about the carters is really an unpleasant business. As
originally organized there were eight Protestant carters and four Roman
Catholics. A year ago Crossan dismissed the four Roman Catholic
carters, and one of the Protestants who was suspected of religious
indifference. Their places were filled by five Orangemen of the most
determined kind. Now the profits of this carting business are
considerable. The five men who were dismissed appealed to Godfrey.
Godfrey laid their case before me. I gathered that Godfrey had a high
opinion of the outcasts who always spoke to him with the respect due to
his position. He had a low opinion of the five interlopers who were men
of rude speech and democratic independence of manner. I was foolish
enough to speak to Crossan about the matter. He met me with a blunt
assertion that it was impossible to trust what he called Papishes.
There, as a lover of peace rather than justice, I wanted to let the
matter rest; but Godfrey took up the subject again and again in the
course of the following year. He persisted, not out of any love for
justice though this once he was on the side of justice, but simply out
of hatred of Crossan.
It's not only the dismissal of those carters, said Godfrey.
There's a great deal more behind that. There's something going on
which I don't understand.
If you don't understand it, I said, you can't expect me to.
Look here, Excellency, you remember the time that yacht of
Conroy's, the Finola, was in here?
Of course I do. You went and left my cards on Bob Power.
I'm very sorry now that I did. There's something fishy about that
yacht. What was she doing on the night she was here?
Coaling, I said; I don't see why I should dismiss Crossan because
Conroy's yacht came in here for coal.
She wasn't coaling, said Godfrey.
I knew that, of course; so I said nothing, but left Godfrey to
develope his grievance whatever it was.
Ever since that night, said Godfrey, there has been something or
other going on in the yard behind the stores. Those carters are in it,
whatever it is, and a lot more men, fishermen and young farmers.
They're up there every night.
Probably dancing, I said.
Much more likely to be drinking.
I wish you wouldn't talk nonsense, Godfrey. You know perfectly well
that the store has not got a licence, and there's no drink sold there.
Besides Crossan is a fanatical teetotaller.
That wouldn't stop him, said Godfrey, if he could sell the stuff
cheap and make money on it; ifhere he sank his voiceif it hadn't
Now Crossan is one of those Christians who has added to the original
Ten Commandments a Mohammedan prohibition of alcohol in any form.
Godfrey, I have no doubt, would break any of the commandments which he
recognized, if he saw his way to making a small profit on the sin. But
I did not think that even a 25 per cent. dividend would tempt Crossan
to disregard his self-imposed prohibition of alcohol.
That's all nonsense, I said. In the first place the Finola
didn't come in here to land a cargo of smuggled goods.
Then what did she come for?
I did not know, so I ignored Godfrey's question.
And in the second place Crossan wouldn't debauch the whole place by
making the men drunk night after night on smuggled spirits. Why, only
three weeks ago he spoke to me seriously about the glass of claret I
drink at dinner. He did it quite respectfully and entirely for my good.
I respected him for it.
He's up to some mischief, said Godfrey, sulkily, and it won't be
too pleasant for you, Excellency, when the Inland Revenue people find
out, and you are let in for a prosecution. I tell you that every night
for the last week men have been going up to that store after dark,
twenty or thirty of them, truculent, disrespectful blackguards out of
the Orange Lodge. I've watched them.
Did you watch them coming out again?
I did, twice, said Godfrey. They didn't go home till nearly one
o'clock in the morning. I couldn't stop up every night, so I only saw
Well, I said, were they drunk?
No, said Godfrey, unwillingly, they were not. They walked quite
That explodes your theory then. If they had been drinking smuggled
spirits for hours and hours, they would have been drunk.
They were at some mischief, said Godfrey.
They were probably getting up a concert, I said.
No, they weren't, for
Look here, Godfrey, I said, I've listened to you pretty patiently
for a long time; but I really cannot spare you the whole morning. If
you have anything to do I wish you'd go and do it. If you haven't you'd
better go to bed and sleep off your absurd suspicions.
One has to speak very plainly to Godfrey. Hints are simply wasted on
him. Even after my last remark he hesitated for a moment. Then he
turned and went.
I felt in the mood to write a short story which I have had in my
mind for some time. I very often write short stories; but have never
yet got an editor who cares to print any of them. The one I had in my
mind when Godfrey left me was, however, likely to be particularly good.
It was to be the autobiography of a murderer; not an ordinary murderer
who slays through desire of gain or in obedience to an inborn criminal
instinct. My murderer was to be a highly respectable, God-fearing man,
a useful citizen, a good father, a man of blameless life and almost
blameless thoughts, generous, high-principled, beloved. He was to slay
his victim with one of the fire-irons on his hearth. The murderous
impulse was to take possession of him quite suddenly but with
absolutely irresistible force. He was to kill a man who had been boring
him for hours. My intention was to write the story in such a way as to
win public sympathy for my murderer and to make every one feel that the
dead man deserved his fate. I meant to model the dead man on my nephew
I still think that a very good short story might be written along
those lines, but I doubt whether I shall ever write it. I wrote about
two thousand words that morning before I was interrupted by the
luncheon gong. I was unable to go on writing after luncheon because the
conversation I had with Marion distracted my mind and turned my
thoughts to another subject.
Father, she said, do you think that Mr. Power could really have
been smuggling things in that yacht?
No, I said; he couldn't possibly.
It's very queer, said Marion.
Oh, nothing. Only this morning Rose had a new gold brooch, quite a
Rose is Marion's maid, a pleasant and I believe efficient girl of
Even if Mr. Power was smuggling, I said, it's exceedingly
unlikely that he'd bring in a cargo of gold brooches to give to the
servants in the district.
Oh, I didn't mean that, said Marion. In fact Rose told me that
her young man gave her the brooch. He's a very nice, steady young
fellow with a freckly face and he drives one of the carts for Crossan.
He must, I suspect, be the same young man who accused Godfrey of
being a spy. If so he is evidently a judge of character, and his
selection of Rose as a sweet-heart is a high compliment to her.
He promised her a gold bracelet next week, said Marion, and Rose
is very mysterious about where he gets the money.
As long as he doesn't steal it from me, I said, I don't care
where he gets it.
It's very queer all the same. Rose says that a lot of the young men
in the village have heaps of money lately, and I thought it might have
something to do with smuggling.
This is what distracted my mind from the story of the man who
murdered Godfrey. I could not help wondering where Rose's young man and
the others got their money. They were, I assumed, the same young men
who frequented the co-operation store during the midnight hours. It
was, of course, possible that they might earn the money there by some
form of honest labour. But I could not imagine that Crossan had started
one of those ridiculous industries by means of which Government Boards
and philanthropic ladies think they will add to the wealth of the Irish
peasants. Besides, even if Crossan had suddenly developed symptoms of
kindly idiocy, neither wood-carving or lace-making could possibly have
made Rose's freckly faced young man rich enough to buy a gold brooch.
The thing puzzled me nearly as much as did the Finola's midnight
All competent critics appear to agree that art ought to be kept
entirely distinct from moral purposes. A picture meant to urge us on to
virtueand there are such picturesis bad art. A play or a novel with
a purpose stands condemned at once. The same canon of criticism must, I
suppose, apply to parties of all kinds, dinner-parties, garden-parties,
or house-parties. A good host or hostess ought, like the painter and
the novelist, to aim at making her work beautiful in itself; and should
not have behind the hospitality a cause of any kind, charitable or
I myself dissent, humbly, of course, from this view. Pictures like
Time, Death and JudgmentI take it as an example of the kind of
picture which is meant to make us good because I once saw it hung up in
a churchappeal to me strongly. I do not like novels which aim at a
reform of the marriage laws; but that is only because sex problems bore
me horribly. I enjoy novels written with any other purpose. I hate
parties, such as those which Godfrey instigates me to give, which have
no object except that of merely being parties, the bare collection
together of human beings in their best clothes. I was, therefore,
greatly pleased when I discovered that my original guess was right and
that Lady Moyne's party was definitely political. I found this out when
I arrived in the drawing-room before dinner. I was a little too early
and there was no one in the room except Moyne. He shook hands with me
apologetically and this gave me a clue to the nature of the
entertainment before me. He dislikes politics greatly, and would be
much happier than he is if he were allowed to hunt and fish instead of
attending to such business as is carried on in the House of Lords. But
a man cannot expect to get all he wants in life. Moyne has a
particularly charming and clever wife who enjoys politics immensely.
The price he pays for her is the loss of a certain amount of sport and
the endurance of long periods of enforced legislative activity.
I ought to have told you before you came, he said, thatwell,
you know that my lady is very strongly opposed to this Home Rule Bill.
Moyne is fifteen years or so older than his wife. He shows his
respect for her by the pretty old-fashioned way in which he always
speaks of her as my lady.
The fact is, he went on, that the people we have with us at
Babberly? I asked.
Moyne nodded sorrowfully. Babberly is the most terrific of all
Unionist orators. If his speeches were set to music, the orchestra
would necessarily consist entirely of cornets, trumpets and drums. No
one could express the spirit of Babberly's oratory on stringed
instruments. Flutes would be ridiculous.
Of course, said Moyne, still apologetically, it really is rather
a crisis you know.
It always is, I said. I've lived through seventy or eighty of
But this is much worse than most, he said. A man called
Malcolmson arrived this afternoon, a colonel of some sort. Was in the
artillery, I think.
You read his letter in The Times, I suppose?
Yes, I did. But I needn't tell you, Kilmore, that that kind of
thing is all talk. My wife
I fancy Lady Moyne would look well as vivandière, I said,
marching in front of an ambulance waggon with a red cross on it.
Moyne looked pained. He is very fond of Lady Moyne and very proud of
her. This is quite natural. I should be proud of her too if she were my
Her idea, said Lord Moyne, is
Just then our Dean came into the room. His presence emphasised the
highly political nature of the party. Unless she had asked Crossan,
Lady Moyne could not have got hold of any one of more influence with
our north of Ireland Protestant democracy. The Dean cannot possibly be
accustomed to the kind of semi-regal state which is kept up at Castle
Affey. I should be surprised to hear that he habitually dresses for
dinner. It was only natural, therefore, that he should be a little
overawed by the immensity of the rooms and the number of footmen who
lurk about the halls and passages. When he began explaining to me the
extreme iniquity of the recent Vatican legislation about mixed
marriages, he spoke in a quite low voice. As a rule this subject moves
the Dean to stridency; but the heavy magnificence of Castle Affey
crushed him into a kind of whisper. This encouraged me. If the Dean had
been in his usual condition of vigour, I should not have ventured to do
anything except agree with him heartily. Feeling that I might never
catch him in a subdued mood again, I seized a chance of expressing my
own views on the mixed marriage question. It seems to me that the whole
difficulty about the validity of these unions might be got over by
importing a few priests of the Greek Church into Ireland. The Vatican,
I believe, recognizes that these Orientals really are priests. The
Protestants could not reasonably object to their ministrations since
they refuse to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Pope. A mixed
marriage performed by one of them would, therefore, be valid in the
opinion of the ecclesiastical advisers of, let us say, the bridegroom.
It would be quite unobjectionable to those responsible for the soul of
the bride. I put my plan as persuasively as I could; but the Dean did
not seem to see any merit in it. Indeed I have never met any one who
did. That is the great drawback to trying to help the Irish nation out
of its difficulties. No one will ever agree to a reasonable compromise.
I took Lady Moyne in to dinner and enjoyed myself very much. She
wasas indeed she always isbeautifully dressed. Although she talked
a good deal to Babberly who sat on the other side of her, she left me
with the impression that I was the person who really interested her,
and that she only turned occasionally to her other neighbour from a
sense of duty. Babberly talked about Unionist clubs and the vigorous
way in which the members of them were doing dumb bell exercises, so as
to be in thoroughly good training when the Home Rule Bill became law.
The subject evidently interested him very much. He has a long white
beard of the kind described as patriarchal. When he reaches exciting
passages in his public speeches, and even when he is saying something
emphatic in private life, his beard wags up and down. On this occasion
it rose and fell like a foamy wave. That was what convinced me that he
was really interested in the activity of the Unionist clubs. Lady Moyne
smiled at him in her bewilderingly bewitching way, and then turned
round and smiled at me.
But, I said, do you actually mean to go out and do battle?
It won't be necessary, said Babberly. Once the English people
understand that we mean to die rather than see our lives and
Nowadays, said Lady Moyne, when the industrial proletariate is
breaking free from all control, it is a splendid thing for us to have a
cause in which we take the lead, which will bind our working classes to
us, and make them loyal to those who are after all their best friends
and their natural leaders.
I quite saw Lady Moyne's point. Crossan would not be at all likely
to follow her or regard her as his best friend in ordinary matters. He
might even resent her interference with his affairs. But on the subject
of Home Rule Crossan would certainly follow any one who took his side
of the great controversy. If Lady Moyne wore an orange sash over her
pretty dresses Crossan would cheer her. While Home Rule remained a real
danger he would refrain from asking why Lord Moyne should spend as much
on a bottle of champagne for dinner, as would feed the children of a
labourer for a week. It did not surprise me to find that Lady Moyne was
clever enough to understand Crossan. I wanted to know whether Babberly
But, I said to him, suppose that the men you are enrolling take
what you say seriously
I assure you, Lord Kilmore, said Babberly, we are quite serious.
I could hear Malcolmson at the other end of the table explaining to
Moyne a scheme for establishing a number of artillery forts on the side
of the Cave Hill above Belfast Lough. His idea apparently, was to sink
any British warship which was ill-advised enough to anchor there with a
view to imposing Home Rule on us. Malcolmson, at all events, was quite
It will never come to fighting, said Babberly again. After all,
the great heart of the English people is sound. They will never consent
to see their brethren and co-religionists handed over
Lady Moyne turned to me and smiled again. I am sixty years of age,
but her smile gave me so much pleasure that I failed to hear the rest
of what Babberly said.
When at the end of dinner Lady Moyne left us, we congregated round
the other end of the table, and everybody talked loud; everybody, that
is, except Moyne and me. Moyne looked to me very much as if he wanted
to go to sleep. He blinked a good deal, and when he got his eyes open
seemed to hold them in that state with considerable effort. I did not
feel sleepy, and became more and more interested as the conversation
round me grew more violent. Babberly talked about a campaign among the
English constituencies. He had a curious and quite pathetic faith in
the gullibility of the British working-man. Nobody listened much to
Babberly. The Dean prosed on about the effects of the Ne Temere
decree. We all said that we agreed with him, and then stopped
listening. Malcolmson got on to field guns, and had an elaborate plan
for training gunners without actual practice. Babberly did not like
this talk about artillery. He kept on saying that we should never get
as far as that. A Mr. Cahoon, who came from Belfast, and spoke with the
same kind of accent as McNeice, prophesied doleful things about the
paralyzing of business under a Home Rule Parliament. What interested me
was, not the conversation which beat fiercely on my ears, but the
personal question, Why had Lady Moyne invited me to this party?
I am constitutionally incapable of becoming excited about politics,
and have therefore the reputation, quite undeserved, of being that
singular creature, a Liberal peer. Why, being the kind of Gallio I am,
I should have been, like a second Daniel, thrown among these lions, I
could not understand. They were not the least likely to convert me to
their own desperate intensity of feeling. If Lady Moyne wanted to
convert me a far better plan would have been to invite me to her house
after the politicians had gone away. Circe, I imagine, did not attract
new lovers by parading those whom she had already turned into swine.
Nor could I suppose that I had been brought to Castle Affey in order to
convert people like Malcolmson to pacific ways of thought. In the first
place, Lady Moyne did not want him converted. He and his like were a
valuable asset to the Conservative party. And even if she had wanted
them converted I was not the man to do it. I am mildly reasonable in my
outlook upon life. To reason with Malcolmson is much the same as if a
man, meaning well, were to offer a Seidlitz powder to an enraged
It was not until next day that I found a solution of my problem.
Moyne buttonholed me after breakfast, and invited me, rather wistfully
I thought, to go round the stables with him. He wanted my opinion of a
new filly. I went, pursued by the sound of the Dean's voice.
He was telling the story of a famous case of wife desertion brought
about by the Ne Temere decree. He was telling it to Cahoon, the
Belfast manufacturer, who must, I am sure, have heard it several times
I used, long ago, to be a good judge of horses. I still retained my
eye for a neat filly. Moyne's latest acquisition was more than neat. I
stroked her neck, and patted her flanks with genuine appreciation.
Moyne looked quite cheerful and babbled pleasantly about hunting. Then
Lady Moyne came through the door of the stable. I was very glad to see
her. Her dress, a simple brown tweed, suited her admirably, and her
smile, less radiant, perhaps, than it was the night before when set off
by her diamonds, was most attractive. Moyne, too, though I knew that he
did not want to talk politics, was glad to see her. She came into the
horse-box, and fondled the filly. Then she sighed.
What a lot we have to go through for a good cause! she said.
Those terrible men!
Heavy going, said Moyne, that kind of thing at breakfast. Let's
take out the new car, and go for a spin.
I should love to, she said, but I must not. I only ran out to
speak to you for a minute, Lord Kilmore.
Her eyes led me to believe at dinner the night before that I was the
one man among her guests that she really wanted to talk to. Now her
lips said the same thing plainly. I did not believe it, of course; but
I felt quite as much gratified as if it had been true.
Mr. Conroy comes this afternoon, she said.
That millionaire fellow? said Moyne, who was evidently not well up
in the list of his visitors.
And I want you to take him in hand, said Lady Moyne to menot to
her husband. He's very clever, and it's most important to get him
interested in our movement.
You'd much better take him in hand yourself, I said. If any one
could interest him
I shall, of course; but I can't always be with him. I'm dreadfully
afraid that if Mr. Babberly talks to himbut you know what Mr.
Babberly is. He's splendid in Parliament and on a platform; perfectly
splendid. We've nobody like him. But he might not quite suit Mr.
Conroy. Then poor dear Colonel Malcolmson does talk such nonsense. Of
course it's very good in its way, and I do hope the Liberals will lay
to heart what he says about fighting before it's too late
Mr. Conroy is a business man, I said, and has a reputation for
That's just it, said Lady Moyne, and the othersthe Dean and
that curious Mr. Cahoon. They're dears, perfect dears in the way they
stand up for the Union and the Empire, but She shrugged her
shoulders, and smiled.
I quite understand, I said; but, after all, I'm rather an old
You! said Lady Moyne. You're a literary man, and that's so rare,
you know, in our class. And, besides, you're a Liberal. I don't mean in
any offensive sense of the word; only just that you're not a party man.
I must run away now; but you will do your best with Mr. Conroy, won't
you? We want a big subscription from him.
The Dean caught me a little later in the morning, and, though I told
him I had letters to write, he insisted on explaining to me that, as a
clergyman, he considered it wrong to take any active part in politics.
The Church, he said, cannot allow herself to become attached to
any party. She must stand above and beyond party, a witness to divine
and eternal righteousness in public affairs.
I am, on the whole, glad that I heard the Dean say this. I should
certainly have believed he was taking a side in politics, if he had not
solemnly assured me that he was not. I might even have thought, taking
at their face value certain resolutions passed by its General Synod,
that the Church was, more or less, on the side of the Unionists, if the
Dean had not explained to me that she only appeared to be on their side
because they happened to be always in the right, but that she would be
quite as much on the side of the Liberals if they would only drop their
present programme which happened in every respect to be morally wrong.
This cleared my mind for me, and I felt quite ready to face Conroy at
luncheon, and dispel any difficulties he might feel about the Church
Mr. Conroy arrived at luncheon-time, and Lady Moyne took him in hand
at once. I watched her talking to him during the meal and afterwards
when they walked together round the lawn. I came to the conclusion that
Lady Moyne would have no difficulty in obtaining any subscription she
wanted from the millionaire. They were, of course, intimate with each
other. Lady Moyne had been Conroy's guest in the days when his London
house was a centre of social life. She had sailed with him on the
Finola. But this was the first time she had him at Castle Affey;
and therefore the first time he had seen Lady Moyne in her character as
hostess. It is not to be wondered at that he yielded to her charm. Like
all women of real capacity Lady Moyne was at her best in her own house.
But she was too clever a hostess to devote herself entirely to one
guest. She took Babberly for a drive later in the afternoon and I felt
that my time had come. I determined to be true to my trust and to make
myself agreeable to Conroy. Unfortunately he did not seem to want my
company. He went off for a long walk with Malcolmson. This surprised
me. I should have supposed beforehand that talk about artillery would
have bored Conroy; and Malcolmson, since this Home Rule struggle began,
has talked of nothing else.
I spent the afternoon with Mr. Cahoon, and we talked about Home
Rule, of course.
What those fellows want, he said, is to get their hands into our
pockets. But it won't do.
Those fellows were, plainly, the Nationalist leaders.
Taxation? I said.
Belfast will be the milch cow of the Dublin Parliament, said
Cahoon. Money will be wanted to feed paupers and pay priests in the
south and west. We're the only people who have any money.
I had never before come in contact with a man like Cahoon, and I was
very much interested in him. His contempt, not only for our
fellow-countrymen in Leinster, Munster and Connacht, but for all the
other inhabitants of the British Isles was absolute. He had a way of
pronouncing final judgment on all the problems of life which fascinated
That's all well enough in its way, he would say; but it won't do
in Belfast. We're business men.
I think he said those words five times in the course of the
afternoon, and each time they filled me with fresh delight. If the man
had been a fool I should not have been interested in him. If he had
been a simple crude money maker, a Stock Exchange Imperialist, for
instance, I should have understood him and yawned. But he was not a
fool. A man cannot be a fool who manages successfully a large business,
who keeps in touch with the swift vicissitudes of modern international
commerce, who has organized into a condition of high efficiency an
industrial army of several thousand working-men and women. And Mr.
Cahoon, in a curious hard way, was touched with idealisms; I
discovered, accidentally, that he devotes his spare time on Saturdays
to the instruction of young men in cricket and football. His Sunday
afternoons he gives to an immense Bible-class for boys of fifteen or
sixteen. He has built and maintains, on the sole condition that he does
not actually lose money by it, a kind of model village in a suburban
district of Belfast. In order to look after this village properly he
gets up at five o'clock in the morning on three days in the week. In
winter, when his social work is in full swing, he spends almost all his
evenings at a large Working-Men's club. He spends his summer holidays
in the seaside camp of The Boys' Brigade. It would be difficult to find
a man who crams more work into what are supposed to be his leisure
hours. He has, of course, little time for reading and he never travels.
His devotion to good works leaves him no opportunity for culture, and
accounts for the fact that he believes the things which Babberly says
on platforms. He would, I did not actually try him with the subject,
but I have no doubt he would, have brushed the philosophy of Emmanuel
Kant into the world's waste-basket with his unvarying formula: It
wouldn't do in Belfast. They are business men there.
We worried on about his fear of the over-taxation of Belfast and the
industrial North. I tried to get from him some definite account of the
exact taxes which he feared. I tried to get him to explain how he
proposed to fight, against whom he intended to fight, who might be
expected to fight on his side. I do not think he got angry with me for
my persistency, but his contempt for me steadily increased. I am not a
business man and so I could not possibly, so he hinted, understand how
they feel about the matter in Belfast.
But do you think, I said, that your workmen will go out and be
shot in order to save you from paying an extra penny in the pound
income tax? That's what it comes to, you know, and I don't see why they
should do it. They don't pay income tax, or for that matter death
Cahoon looked me full in the face for nearly half a minute without
replying. Then he took out his watch and looked at it. Then he took me
by the arm and led me towards the yard.
Did you ever see the Green Loaney Scutching Mill? he said.
I had never seen any scutching mill. I have only a vague idea of
what a scutching mill is.
It'll not be more than twenty miles from this, said Cahoon. And
in my car we'll do it and be back for dinner.
I did not particularly want to spend the rest of the afternoon
rushing about the country in Cahoon's motor car. I preferred to stay
quietly on the Castle Affey lawn and talk about Home Rule.
But about the working-man, I said, and the prospect of his
You'll be better able to talk about that, said Cahoon, when
you've seen the man I'm going to take you to. Seeing's believing.
I was, of course, quite willing to go with Cahoon if he would really
show me a citizen soldier in a scutching mill. We got out the motor car
He's a man by the name of McConkey, said Cahoon.
A good name, I said. One expects something from a McConkey.
Cahoon did not say anything for about ten minutes. Then he went on
McConkey is foreman in the mill.
The scutching mill? I asked.
It was, of course, the scutching mill. I only asked the question in
order to keep up the conversation. The long silences were embarrassing.
Cahoon did not answer me. At the end of another quarter of an hour of
furious driving he gave me a little further information about McConkey.
He neither drinks nor smokes.
This led me to think that he might be some relation to my friend
Crossan, possibly a cousin.
I happen to know, said Cahoon a little later, that he has upwards
of £500 saved.
Undoubtedly McConkey and Crossan are close relations,
We reached the Green Loaney Scutching Mill at about half-past five
o'clock. Cahoon, who seemed to know all about the establishment, led me
through some very dusty purlieus. McConkey, when we came upon him, did
not seem particularly pleased to see Cahoon. He looked at me with
There's a gentleman here, said Cahoon, who wants to know whether
you mean to fight rather than submit to Home Rule.
Aye, said McConkey, I do.
Then he looked me square in the face without winking. Cahoon did the
same thing exactly. Neither of them spoke. It was clearly my turn to
say something; but with four hard grey eyes piercing my skin I found it
difficult to think of a remark. In the end I said:
They both continued to stare at me. Then McConkey broke the silence
You'll no be a Papist? he said.
Certainly not, I replied. In fact I am a church-warden.
McConkey thrust his hand deep into a hip pocket in the back of his
trousers and drew out a somewhat soiled packet of yellow tracing paper.
Look at thon, he said.
I unfolded the tracing paper and found on it drawings of a machine
gun. Cahoon peered over my shoulder.
She's a bonny wee thing, said McConkey.
She looked to me large and murderous. Cahoon expressed his
admiration for her, so I said nothing.
I'll no be that badly off for something to fight with, said
McConkey, when the time comes.
Do you mean to say, I said, that you've bought that weapon?
I haven't her bought yet, said McConkey; but I have the money by
And you actually mean I said.
Ay. I do.
I looked at Cahoon. He was still studying the drawings of the gun.
It'll be queer, said McConkey, slowly, if she doesna' land a few
of them in hell before they have me catched.
I turned to Cahoon again.
Do you really think, I said, that he?
We're business men, said Cahoon, and we don't throw away our
But, I said, who are you going to shoot at? It would be silly to
attack a tax collector with a gun like that. I don't see who
Oh, said Cahoon, don't fret about that. We'll find somebody to
There'll be plenty, said McConkey, when the time comes.
The real difficulty, said Cahoon, is that
They'll no be wanting to stand up till us, said McConkey.
The relations of Capital with Labour are, I understand, strained in
other parts of the United Kingdom. Here, with Home Rule on the horizon,
they seem to be actually cordial. There is certainly a good deal to be
said for Lady Moyne's policy. So long as Cahoon and McConkey have a
common taste for making domestic pets of machine guns they are not
likely to fall out over such minor matters as wages and hours of work.
I had a good deal to think of as Cahoon drove me back to Castle
Affey. My main feeling was one of great personal thankfulness. I shall
never, I hope, take part in a battle. If I do I hope I shall be found
fighting against some properly organized army, the men and officers of
which have taken up the business of killing in a lofty professional
spirit. I cannot imagine anything more likely to shatter my nerve than
to be pitted against men like McConkey, who neither drink nor smoke,
but save and spend their savings on machine guns. The regular soldier
has his guns bought for him with other people's money. He does not mind
much if no gory dividend is earned. McConkey, on the other hand, spends
his own money, and being a business man, will hate to see it wasted. He
would not be satisfied, I imagine, with less than fifty corpses per
cent. as a return on his expenditure.
At dinner that evening Conroy made a suggestion for our evening's
Lady Moyne, he said, ought to read us the speech which she is to
make next week to the Unionist women.
I had never heard of the Unionist women before, and knew nothing of
their wish to be spoken to. The Dean assured me that they were numerous
and quite as enthusiastic as their husbands and brothers. Cahoon said
that he was giving his mill hands a half holiday in order that the
girls might go to listen to Lady Moyne. Babberly struck in with a
The influence of women, he said, can hardly be over-estimated. We
must never forget that the most impressionable years of a man's life
are those during which he is learning to say his prayers beside his
This, as I recognized was a mere paraphrase of the proverb which
states that the hand which rocks the cradle rules the world. The secret
of Babberly's great success as an orator is that he has a striking
power of putting platitudes into new words.
I ventured to suggest that, so far as the present political
situation was concerned it was hardly worth while trying to get at the
children who were learning to say their prayers. The Home Rule Bill
would be either rejected or passed long before any of that generation
had votes. Lady Moyne was good enough to smile at me; but Babberly
felled me at once.
The women whom we expect to influence, he said, have fathers,
brothers and husbands as well as young children.
After dinner we had the speech. A secretary, who had once been Lady
Moyne's governess and still wore pince-nez, brought a quantity of
type-written matter into the drawing-room. Moyne wanted me to slip away
with him to the billiard room; but I refused to do so. I wanted to
watch Lady Moyne making her speech. I am glad that I resisted his
appeal. Lady Moyne not only read us the speech. She delivered it to us,
treated us, indeed, to a rehearsal, I might even call it a dress
rehearsal, for she described at some length the clothes she intended to
wear. They must have been the most sumptuous in her wardrobe.
The poor dears, she said, want something to brighten their lives.
Besides, they'll take it as a compliment to them if I'm like Solomon in
all his glory.
I gathered from this remark that the audience was to consist mainly
of the wives and sisters of McConkey and other men of the same class.
Cahoon's wife, if he had one, would not require a display of Lady
Moyne's best clothes to seal her attachment to the Union.
The speech was an uncommonly good one. A phrase in it frequently
repeated, appealed to me very strongly. Lady Moyne spoke about our
men. I do not know why it is, but the phrase our women as used for
instance by military officers who have been to India, always strikes me
as singularly offensive. It suggests seraglios, purdahs and other
institutions by which Turks, and Orientals generally, assert and
maintain the rights of property with regard to the other sex. Our
men, on the other hand, is redolent of sentimental domesticity. I
never hear it without thinking of women who are mothers and makers of
men; who sew on trouser buttons and cook savoury messes for those who
are fighting the battle of life for them in a rough world, sustained by
an abiding vision of noble womanhood and the sanctity of home. It is an
extraordinarily appealing phrase and Lady Moyne used it for all it was
worth. As addressed by her to wives and sisters of the Belfast
working-men, it had a further value. The plural possessive pronoun
bracketed McConkey with Lord Moyne. McConkey's wife, assuming for the
moment that he had not abstained from matrimony as he had from tobacco,
shared his joys and sorrows, his hopes and fears, heartened him for his
daily toil, would join no doubt in polishing the muzzle of the machine
gun. So Lady Moyne in her gorgeous raiment, sustained Lord Moyne, her
man. That was the suggestion of the possessive pronoun, and the
audience was not allowed to miss it. Poor Moyne did miss it, for he was
nearly asleep in a chair. But McConkey's wife would not. Her heart
would glow with a sense that she and Lady Moyne were sisters in their
anxious care for the men entrusted to them.
That single phrase made such a violent emotional appeal to me that I
missed all the rest of the speech. Each time I began to recover a
little from hearing it and was prepared to give my attention to
something else, Lady Moyne used to repeat it, and then I was hypnotized
again. I have no doubt, however, that the speech was a powerful appeal
for the maintenance of the Union. Conroy said so afterwards and
Babberly entirely agreed with him. The Dean suggested that something
might be put in about the sanctity of the marriage tie, a matter of
particular importance to women and likely to be seriously affected by
the passing of a Home Rule Bill. Lady Moyne thanked him for calling her
attention to the omission. The secretary, who had once been a
governess, adjusted her pince-nez and took a note.
In the smoking-room that evening Conroy took command of the
conversation, and for the first time since I arrived at Castle Affey we
got off politics. He told us a good deal about how he made his fortune.
Most men who have made fortunes enjoy talking about how they made them.
But their stories are nearly always most uninteresting. My impression
is that they do not themselves understand how they came to be rich. But
Conroy understood, or at all events thought he understood, his own
success. He believed that he was rich because he had, more than other
men, a love of the excitement which comes with risk. He had the spirit
of the true adventurer, the man who pursues novelty and danger for
their own sakes. Every story he told us illustrated and was meant to
illustrate this side of his character. He despised the rest of us,
especially me perhaps. We, Cahoon, the Dean, even Malcolmson, though he
was a bristly fighting man, certainly Moyne who had gone quietly to
bedwe were tame barndoor fowls, eating the sordid messes spread for
us by that old henwife, civilized society. Conroy was a free bird of
the wild. He snatched golden grain for nutriment from the hand of a
goddess. These were not his words or his metaphors, but they
represented the impression which his talk and his stories left on my
At twelve o'clock I rose to say good night. As I did so a servant
entered the room and told Conroy that his motor was ready for him at
the door. Conroy left the room at once, and left the house a few
I suppose we ought, all of us, to have been surprised. Motor drives
in the middle of the night are an unusual form of amusement, and it was
impossible to suppose that Conroy could have any business requiring
immediate personal attention in the neighbourhood of Castle Affey. But
his talk during the evening had left its impression on other minds as
well as mine. We bid each other good night without expressing any
astonishment at Conroy's conduct. Cahoon refrained from saying that
inexplicable midnight expeditions were not the kind of things they
cared for in Belfast. Even he recognized that a man who had accumulated
as large a fortune as Conroy's must not be judged by ordinary
I, unfortunately, failed to go to sleep. I tried to read the works
of Alexander Pope, of which I found a well-bound copy in my bedroom.
But my mind only became more active. I got up at last and covered six
sheets of the Castle Affey note paper with a character sketch of
Conroy. I maintained that he was wrong in supposing that a capacity for
daring is the secret of becoming rich. Bob Power, for instance, is as
daring as any man living and certainly loves risk for its own sake, but
Bob will not die a rich man. Nor will Conroy. Wealth falls into the
hands of such men occasionally, as vast hoards of gold did one hundred
and fifty years ago into the holds of pirate ships. But no one ever
heard of a buccaneer who died with a large fortune safely invested.
Before Conroy dies his fortune will have taken to itself wings and fled
back to that goddess of his who gave it. This was the substance of my
article. Marion typed it out for me when I went home, but neither of
the editors who usually print my articles would have it. I suppose that
they did not know Conroy personally. If they had known him they would
have appreciated my character sketch. I called it, I remember, Our
Contemporary Pirates, a title which ought to have been attractive.
At three o'clock, just as I was finishing my article, I heard
Conroy's motor on the gravel outside my window.
He appeared at breakfast looking fresh and cheerful. None of us
asked him where he had been the night before, and he did not offer us
After breakfast he asked me to go for a walk with him. Lady Moyne,
who heard the invitation given, looked pleased, and I recollected at
once that I had promised to interest Conroy in the Unionist cause and
lead him on to the point of giving a large subscription to our funds.
These party funds have always been rather a puzzle to me. I have
never understood why it should be necessary for rich Liberals, rich
Conservatives and American Irishmen to spend enormous sums of money in
persuading people to vote. The theory of democratic government is, I
suppose, that the citizen expresses his opinion freely in a polling
booth. If he has not got an opinion it would surely be better to leave
him alone. If he has an opinion and attaches any importance to it he
will go to the polling booth without being dragged there by a kind of
special constable hired for the purpose. If the money of the party
funds were given to the voters in the form of bribes, the expenditure
would be intelligible. It might even be justified; since an occasional
tip would be most welcome to nearly every elector. But to spend tens of
thousands of pounds on what is called organization seems very foolish.
However I am not a practical politician, and my immediate object was
not to explain the theory of political finance to Conroy, but to work
him up into the frame of mind in which he would sign cheques.
I cannot flatter myself that I did this or even helped to do it.
Conroy did not give me a chance. He began to talk about the Irish land
question, a thing in which I no longer take any but an academic
interest. He asked me if I still owned a small estate in Co. Galway
which had belonged to my father. I told him that I had long ago sold it
and was uncommonly glad to do so.
Not a paying proposition? said Conroy.
Oh, I said, it paid very well; but the fact is, what with the
agitation about grazing lands, and the trouble about people in
I reckon, said Conroy, that your ancestors mismanaged the
I expect they did. But I did not expect to have their misdeeds
brought home to me in a vigorous personal way.
Your father, said Conroy, or your grandfather, turned my
grandfather off a patch of land down there in 1850.
My grandfather had, I have heard, a theory that small holdings of
land were uneconomic. He evicted his tenants and made large grass
farms. Nowadays we hold the opposite opinion. We are evicting large
tenants and establishing small holdings. Our grandsons, I dare say,
will go back again to the large farms. I explained to Conroy that he
ought not to blame my grandfather who was acting in accordance with the
most advanced scientific theories of his time.
Conroy was very nice about the matter. He said he had no grudge
against either me or my grandfather. He had, however, so he told me
frankly, a prejudice against everything English; an inherited
prejudice, and not quite so irrational as it looked. It was after all
the English who invented the economic theories on which my grandfather
acted. He talked so much about his dislike of England and everything
English that I did not like to introduce the subject of the
subscription to Lady Moyne's political fund. He did, in the end,
subscribe largely. When I heard about his £1000 cheque I supposed that
he must have counted the Union with us a misfortune for England and so
wished to perpetuate it. Either that was his motive, so I thought, or
else Lady Moyne had captivated him as she always captivates me.
I had no sooner settled down quietly at home and got to work again
on my history than I was assailed by Godfrey. I wish very much that he
was Conroy's nephew and not mine. Conroy goes driving in a motor in the
middle of the night, so he must like disturbances. I hate them.
I'm sorry, Excellency, but I am afraid I shall have to interrupt
Godfrey, besides being objectionable in other ways, is a liar. He is
not sorry, he is very glad, when he gets the chance of interrupting me.
I should resent the disturbance less if he acknowledged frankly that he
enjoyed annoying me.
It can't be time, I said, for another garden-party yet; but, if
it is, I'd rather you made out the invitation list yourself. I'm busy.
Besides making out lists is one of the things you're good at. I should
be sure to leave out somebody.
I don't want to talk about garden-parties, said Godfrey. This is
something much more serious.
There's no use coming to me about it, I said. I told you last
time that your tailor could bring you into the County Court if he
liked. I shan't pay him again.
The inference was a natural one. Godfrey had said that he wanted to
talk about something more important than a garden-party. But the
inference was wrong. Godfrey looked offended.
I sent Nicholson and Blackett a cheque last week, he said.
I waited patiently. If Godfrey's business had nothing to do with
garden-parties or tailors' bills, I could only suppose that he meant to
make some fresh complaint about Crossan.
Pringle cashed it all right, said Godfrey, after a short pause. I
went in there the day after your party and played tennis with his
daughter. They were awfully pleased.
I dare say they were. People attach a surprising amount of
importance to Godfrey's social patronage. I myself should be more
inclined to cash his cheques for him if he stayed away from my house.
But I did not want to argue with Godfrey about Pringle's taste in
What's Crossan been doing to you? I asked at last.
He hasn't been doing anything to me.
Then for goodness' sake, Godfrey, let the man alone.
I don't like the way he's going on.
You never did. There's nothing fresh about that. You've complained
about him regularly every week for five years.
This was an exaggeration. I am sometimes away from home for more
than a week at a time and Godfrey does not always complain about
Crossan in his letters.
Look here, Excellency, said Godfrey, it's far better for you to
know what Crossan's doing. He's going about all over the country day
after day. He's got a motor car.
I can quite understand that Crossan's owning a motor car must have a
very irritating effect on Godfrey. I cannot afford to keep one. That
any one else in the district over which I ought, according to Godfrey's
theory, to be a kind of king, should assume a grandeur impossible for
me is simply an aggravated kind of insolence. No wonder that Godfrey,
with the honour of the family at heart, resented Crossan's motor car. I
tried to soothe him.
It's probably quite an inferior machine, I said. It will break
It's not only that, said Godfrey, though I think Crossan ought to
stay at home and mind his business. He must be neglecting things.
ButI wish you'd walk up to the store with me, Excellency. Crossan's
I'd much rather go when Crossan's at home, I said; but, of
course, if you won't leave me in peace until I do, I may as well go at
I got my hat and walking stick. On the way up to the store Godfrey
preserved an air of mysterious importance. I had no objection whatever
to his doing this; because he could not talk and look mysterious at the
same time, and I particularly dislike being talked to by Godfrey. I
expect he tried to be dignified with a view to impressing me, but just
before we reached the store he broke down and babbled fatuously.
Marion told me yesterday, he said, that she'd had a letter from
that fellow Power.
She told me that too, I said.
Well, I think you ought to put a stop to it. It's not right.
My dear Godfrey, I said, you appear to forget that he's one of
the Powers of Kilfenora and private secretary to a millionaire.
This twofold appeal to the highest and strongest feelings which
Godfrey possesses ought to have silenced him. He did, I think, feel the
force of what I said. But he was not satisfied.
If you knew all that was going on, he said, you wouldn't like
We reached the store. The young woman who controls the sale of
miscellaneous goods was alert and smiling behind her counter. Whatever
Crossan might be doing she at all events was attending to her business.
Godfrey took no notice of her. He led me through the shop to the yard
behind it. He pushed open the door of one of the outhouses.
That door ought to be locked, he said.
This was true. I was somewhat surprised to find it open.
I forced the lock this morning, said Godfrey, with a screw
In that case, I said, you can hardly blame Crossan for its being
open. Why did you do it?
I wanted to see what he had inside, said Godfrey, and I wanted
you to see.
There was a good deal inside. In fact the outhouse, a large
building, was filled from floor to ceiling with packing-cases, some of
them very large indeed. Godfrey pointed to a small one near the door.
Just lift that up, will you, Excellency? said Godfrey.
No, I won't. Why should I? I'm not a railway porter, and it looks
It is heavy. Just watch me for a moment if you don't want to lift
Godfrey with evident difficulty lifted the packing-case, staggered a
few steps with it and then set it down. The packing-case may have been
heavy but it was quite small. It seemed to me that Godfrey was making a
rather pitiful exhibition of his physical feebleness.
You ought to do things with dumb bells, I said. The muscles of
your arms are evidently quite soft.
Godfrey took no notice of the taunt. He was in a state of tremendous
I want your permission to open these cases, he said.
I won't give you any such permission, I said. How can I? They're
not my packing-cases.
Godfrey argued with me for quite a long time, but I remained firm.
For some reason which I could not understand, Godfrey was unwilling to
open the packing-cases without permission from somebody. I should have
supposed that having already forced a door he would not have boggled at
the lid of a packing-case; but he did. He evidently had some vague idea
that the law takes a more serious view of smashing packing-cases than
it does of housebreaking. He may have been right. But my record so far
was clear. I had not forced the lock of the door.
What do you suppose is in those cases? said Godfrey.
Artificial manure, I said.
Our store does a large business in artificial manure. It generally
comes to us in sacks, but there is no reason why it should not come in
packing-cases. It is tremendously heavy stuff.
Those cases were landed from the Finola, said Godfrey. She
wouldn't come here with a cargo of artificial manure.
If you've brought me all the way up here to accuse Conroy of
smuggling, I said, you've wasted your own time and mine.
I don't accuse Conroy of smuggling, said Godfrey. In fact, I'm
going to write to him to-night to tell him what's going on.
Very well, I said. You can if you like, but don't mix my name up
We walked back together as far as the village. Godfrey was silent
again. I could see that he still had something on his mind, probably
something which he wanted me to do. He kept on clearing his throat and
pulling himself together as if he were going to say something of
importance. I was uncomfortable, for I felt sure that he intended to
attack me again about Marion's correspondence with Bob Power. I have
never, since she was quite a little girl, interfered with Marion's
freedom of action. I had not the smallest intention of making myself
ridiculous by claiming any kind of authority over her, especially in a
matter so purely personal as the young man she chose to favour.
Besides, I like Bob Power. At worst there was nothing against him
except his smuggling, and smuggling is much less objectionable than the
things that Godfrey does. I should rather, if it came to that, have a
son-in-law who went to prison occasionally for importing spirits
without consulting the government than one who perpetually nagged at me
and worried me. But I did not want to provoke further arguments by
explaining my feelings to Godfrey. I was therefore rather relieved when
he finally succeeded in blurting out what was in his mind.
I hope, Excellency, he said, that you will take the first chance
you get of speaking to Crossan.
In sudden gratitude for escaping a wrangle about Marion and Bob
Power I promised hurriedly that I would speak to Crossan. I was sorry
afterwards that I did promise. Still, I very much wished to know what
was in the packing-cases. I did not really believe it was artificial
manure. I did not believe either that it was smuggled brandy.
My chance came two days later. I met Crossan in the street. He was
standing beside his motor car, a handsome-looking vehicle. He evidently
intended to go for a drive. I felt at once that I could not ask him a
direct question about the packing-cases. I determined to get at them
obliquely if I could. I began by admiring the motor.
She's good enough, my lord, said Crossan.
He is a man of few words, and is sparing of his praise. Good
enough is, from Crossan, quite an enthusiastic compliment.
If your lordship would care about a drive any day, he said, it'll
be a pleasure to me.
Crossan always interjects my lord and your lordship into the
middle of the remarks he makes to me; but he says the words in a very
peculiar tone. It always seems to me that he wishes to emphasize the
difference in our social station because he feels that the advantage is
all on his side. The rank, so his tone suggests, is but the guinea
stamp. The manthat is in this case Crossan himselfis the gowd for
You can get about the country pretty quickly in that car, I said.
Crossan looked at me with a perfectly expressionless face for some
time. Then he said said
If you think, my lord, that I'm neglecting my work, you've only to
say so and I'll go.
I hastened to assure him that I had no intention of finding fault
with him in any way. My apology was as ample as possible. After another
minute spent in silent meditation Crossan expressed himself satisfied.
It suits me as little to be running round the country, he said,
as it would suit your lordship.
I quite understand that, I said. But then I don't do it. You do.
It has to be, said Crossan.
I did not quite see why it had to be; but Crossan spoke with such
conviction that I dared not contradict him and did not even like to
question him. Fortunately he explained himself.
I'm the Grand Master, as your lordship is aware, he said.
Worshipful is the title of courtesy applied to Grand Masters, and
I'm sure no one ever deserved it better than Crossan.
If we're not ready for them, my lord, they'll have our throats cut
in our beds as soon as ever they get Home Rule.
They, of course were the Papishes, Crossan's arch enemies.
I wanted very much to hear more of his activities among the
Orangemen. I wanted to know what steps he, as Grand Master, was taking
to prevent cut-throats creeping in on us while we slept. I thought I
might encourage him by telling him something he would be pleased to
McConkey, I said, who is foreman in the Green Loaney Scutching
Mill, is buying a splendid quick-firing gun.
The remark did not have the effect I hoped for. It had an exactly
opposite effect. Crossan shut up like a sea anemone suddenly touched.
Your lordship's affairs won't be neglected, he said stiffly. You
may count on that.
I felt that I could. I have the utmost confidence in Crossan's
integrity. If a body of Papishes of the bloodiest kind were to come
upon Crossan and capture him; if they were to condemn him to death and,
being God-fearing men, were to allow him half an hour in which to make
his soul; he would spend the time, not in saying his prayers, not even
in cursing the Pope, but in balancing the accounts of the co-operative
store, so that any auditor who took over the books afterwards might
find everything in order.
If you really feel it to be your duty, I said, to go round the
district working up
You'll have heard of the Home Rule Bill, maybe, said Crossan.
I had heard of it, several times. After my visit to Castle Affey I
even understood it, though it was certainly a measure of great
complexity. I think I appreciated the orthodox Protestant view of it
since the day I talked to McConkey. I wanted Crossan to realize how
fully I entered into his feelings, so I quoted a phrase from one of
In this supreme crisis of our country's destiny, I said, it is
the duty of every man to do his uttermost to avert the threatened ruin
of our common Protestantism.
That ought to have pacified Crossan even if it did not rouse him to
enthusiasm. Huge crowds have cheered Babberly for saying these moving
words. But Crossan received them from me in sullen silence.
It would be well, he said at last, if your lordship and others
like you were more in earnest.
Crossan is not by any means a fool. I have occasionally been tempted
to think he is, especially when he talks about having his throat cut at
night; but he has always shown me in the end that he has in him a vein
of strong common sense. He recognized that I was talking bombast when I
spoke about the supreme crisis; but, curiously enough, he is quite
convinced of Babberly's sincerity when he says things of that sort.
It was nearly an hour after Crossan left me when I recollected that
I had not found out anything about the packing-cases. The subject
somehow had not come up between us, though I fully intended that it
should. Our talk about Home Rule gave me no clue to what was in the
cases. I could scarcely suppose that they were full of gorgets for
distribution among Orangemen, defensive armour proof against the
particular kind of stabs which Crossan anticipated.
Godfrey called on me the next morning in a white heat of righteous
indignation. He had received an answer to the letter which he wrote to
Conroy. Before showing it to me he insisted on my reading what he
called his statement of the case. It occupied four sheets of quarto
paper, closely type-written. It accused Bob Power and McNeice of using
the Finola for smuggling without the owner's knowledge. It made
out, I am bound to say, quite a good case. He had collected every
possible scrap of evidence, down to Rose's new brooch. I suppose Marion
told him about that. He said at the end of the letter that he had no
motive in writing it except a sincere wish for Conroy's welfare. This
was quite untrue. He had several other motives. His love of meddling
was one. Hatred of Crossan was another. Jealousy of Bob Power was a
Now is there anything objectionable in that letter? Anything that
one gentleman would not write to another?
I admitted that on the whole it was a civil letter.
Now look at his answer, said Godfrey.
Conroy's answer was on a post-card. It consisted of six words only.
Do not be a damned fool.
Well, I said, that's sound advice even if it's not very politely
Conroy's in it too, said Godfrey, vindictively, and I'll make
them all sorry for themselves before I've done with them.
I find by consulting my diary that it was on the 30th of June that I
went to Dublin. I am not often in Dublin, though I do not share the
contempt for that city which is felt by most Ulstermen. Cahoon, for
instance, will not recognize it as the capital of the country in which
he lives, and always speaks of Dublin people as impractical, given over
to barren political discussion and utterly unable to make useful things
such as ships and linen. He also says that Dublin is dirty, that the
rates are exorbitantly high, and that the houses have not got
bath-rooms in them. I put it to him that there are two first-rate
libraries in Dublin.
If I want a book, he said, I buy it. We pay for what we use in
Belfast. We are business men.
But, I explained, there are some books, old ones, which you
cannot buy. You can only consult them in libraries.
Why don't you go to London, then? said Cahoon.
The conversation took place in the club. I lunched there on my way
through Belfast, going on to Dublin by an afternoon train. I was, in
fact, going to Dublin to consult some books in the College Library.
Marion and I had been brought up short in our labours on my history for
want of some quotations from the diary of a seventeenth-century divine,
and even if I had been willing to buy the book I should have had to
wait months while a second-hand bookseller advertised for it.
Trinity College, when I entered the quadrangle next day, seemed
singularly deserted. The long vacation had begun a week before.
Fellows, professors and students had fled from the scene of their
labours. Halfway across the square, however, I met McNeice. He seemed
quite glad to see me and invited me to luncheon in his rooms. I
accepted the invitation and was fed on cold ham, stale bread and
Thackeray once hinted that fellows of Trinity College gave their
guests beer to drink. Many hard words have been said of him ever since
by members of Dublin University. I have no wish to have hard things
said about me; so I explain myself carefully. McNeice's luncheon was an
eccentricity. It is not on cold ham solely, it is not on stale bread
ever, that guests in the Common Room are fed. If, like Prince Hal, they
remember amid their feasting that good creature, small beer, they do
not drink it without being offered nobler beverages. When the
University, in recognition of my labours on the Life of St. Patrick,
made me a doctor of both kinds of law, I fared sumptuously in the
dining hall and afterwards sipped port rich with the glory of suns
which shone many many years ago on the banks of the upper Douro.
After luncheon, while I was still heavy with the spume of the stout,
McNeice asked me if I had seen the new paper which was being published
to express, I imagine also to exacerbate, the opinions of the Ulster
Unionists. He produced a copy as he spoke. It was called The
We wanted something with a bite in it, he said. We're dead sick
of the pap the daily papers give us in their leading articles.
Pap is, I think, a soft innocuous food, slightly sugary in flavour,
suitable for infants. I should never have dreamed of describing the
articles in The Belfast Newsletter as pap. An infant nourished
on them would either suffer badly from the form of indigestion called
flatulence or would grow up to be an exceedingly ferocious man. I felt,
however, that if McNeice had anything to do with the editing of The
Loyalist its articles would be of such a kind that those of the
Newsletter would seem, by comparison, papescent.
We're running it as a weekly, said McNeice, and what we want is
to get it into the home of every Protestant farmer, and every
working-man in Belfast. We are circulating the first six numbers free.
After that we shall charge a penny.
I looked at The Loyalist. It was very well printed, on good
paper. It looked something like The Spectator, but had none of
the pleasant advertisements of schools and books, and much fewer pages
of correspondence than the English weekly has.
Surely, I said, you can't expect it to pay at that price.
We don't, said McNeice. We've plenty of money behind us.
Conroyyou know Conroy, don't you?
Oh, I said, then Lady Moyne got a subscription out of him after
all. I knew she intended to.
Lady Moyne isn't in this at all, said McNeice. We're out for
business with The Loyalist. Lady Moyne'swell, I don't quite
see Lady Moyne running The Loyalist.
She's a tremendously keen Unionist, I said. She gave an address
to the working-women of Belfast the week before last, one of the most
All frills, said McNeice, silk frills. Your friend Crossan is
acting as one of our agents, distributing the paper for us. That'll
give you an idea of the lines we're going on.
Crossan, I admit, is the last man I should suspect of being
interested in frills. The mention of his name gave me an idea.
Was it copies of The Loyalist, I asked, which were in the
packing-cases which you and Power landed that night from the Finola
Come along round with me, he said, and see the editor. He'll
interest you. He's a first-rate journalist, used to edit a rebel paper
and advocate the use of physical force for throwing off the English
rule. But he's changed his tune now. Just wait for me one moment while
I get together an article which I promised to bring him. It's all
scattered about the floor of the next room in loose sheets.
I read The Loyalist while I waited. The editor was
unquestionably a first-rate journalist. His English was of a naked,
muscular kind, which reminded me of Swift and occasionally of John
Mitchel. But I could not agree with McNeice that he had changed his
tune. He still seemed to be editing a rebel paper and still advocated
the use of physical force for resisting the will of the King, Lords and
Commons of our constitution. It is the merest commonplace to say that
Ireland is a country of unblushing self-contradictions; but I do not
think that the truth of this ever came home to me quite so forcibly as
when I read The Loyalist that it would be better, if necessary,
to imitate the Boers and shoot down regiments of British soldiers than
to be false to the Empire of which it is our proudest boast that we
are citizens. The editorsuch was the conclusion I arrived atmust
be a humorist of a high order.
His name was Diarmid O'Donovan and he always wrote it in Irish
characters, which used to puzzle me at first when I got into
correspondence with him. We found him in a small room at the top of a
house in a side street of a singularly depressing kind.
McNeice explained to me that The Loyalist did not court
notoriety, and preferred to have an office which was, as far as
possible, out of sight. He said that O'Donovan was particularly anxious
to be unobtrusive. He had, before he became connected with The
Loyalist, been editor of two papers which had been suppressed by
the Government for advocating what the Litany calls sedition and privy
conspiracy. He held, very naturally, that a paper would get on better
in the world if it had no office at all. If that was impossible, the
office should be an attic in an inaccessible slum.
O'Donovan, when we entered, was seated at a table writing
vigorously. I do not know how he managed to write at all. His table was
covered with stacks of newspapers, very dusty. He had cleared a small,
a very small space in the middle of them, and his ink-bottle occupied a
kind of cave hollowed out at the base of one of the stacks. It must
have been extremely difficult to put a pen into it. The chairsthere
were only two of them besides the editorial stoolwere also covered
with papers. But even if they had been free I should not have cared to
sit down on them. They were exceedingly dirty and did not look safe.
McNeice introduced me and then produced his own article. O'Donovan,
very politely, offered me his stool.
McNeice tells me, he said, that you are writing a history of
Irish Rebellions. I suppose you have said that Nationalism ceased to
exist about the year 1900?
I hadn't thought of saying that, I said. In factin view of the
Home Rule Bill, you knowI should have said that Irish Nationalism was
just beginning to come to its own.
There's no such thing as Irish Nationalism left, he said. The
country is hypnotized. We've accepted a Bill which deprives us of the
most elementary rights of freemen. We've licked the boots of English
Liberals. We've said 'thank you' for any gnawed bones they like to
fling to us. We've
It struck me that O'Donovan was becoming rhetorical. I interrupted
Idealism in politics, I said, is one of the most futile things
there is. What the Nationalist Party
Don't call them that, said O'Donovan. I tell you they're not
I'll call them anything you like, I said, but until you invent
some other name for them I can't well talk about them without calling
They said O'Donovan.
Very well, I said. They. So long as you know who I mean,
the pronoun will satisfy me. They had to consider not what men like you
wanted, but what the Liberal Party could be induced to give. I don't
say they made the best bargain possible, but
Anyhow, said McNeice, we're not going to be governed by those
fellows. That's the essential point.
I think it is. The Unionist is not really passionately attached to
the Union. He has no insuperable antipathy to Home Rule. Indeed, I
think most Unionists would welcome any change in our existing system of
government if it were not that they have the most profound and deeply
rooted objection to the men whom McNeice describes as those fellows,
and O'Donovan indicates briefly as they.
And so, I said, turning to O'Donovan, in mere despair of
nationality you have gone over to the side of the Unionists.
I've gone over, said O'Donovan, to the side of the only people in
Ireland who mean to fight.
Supposing that Ulster really did mean to fight O'Donovan's position
was quite reasonable. But Babberly says it will never come to fighting.
He is quite confident of his ability to bluff the conscientious Liberal
into dropping the Home Rule Bill for fear of civil war. O'Donovan, and
possibly McNeice, will be left out in the cold if Babberly is right.
The matter is rather a tangled one. With Babberly is Lady Moyne,
working at her ingenious policy of dragging a red herring across the
path along which democracy goes towards socialism. On the other hand
there is McNeice with fiery intelligence, and O'Donovan, a coldly
consistent rebel against English rule in any shape and form. They have
their little paper with money enough behind it, with people like
Crossan circulating it for them. It is quite possible that they may
count for something. Then there is Malcolmson, a man of almost
incredible stupidity, but with a knowledge, hammered into him no doubt
with extra difficulty, of how to handle guns.
O'Donovan and McNeice were bending over some proof sheets and
talking in low whispers; there was a knock at the office door, and a
moment later Malcolmson entered. He looked bristlier than ever, and was
plainly in a state of joyous excitement. He held a copy of the first
number of The Loyalist in his hand. He caught sight of me at
I'm damned, he said, if I expected to see you here, Kilmore.
You're the last man in Ireland
I'm only here by accident, I said, and I'm going away almost at
once. Let me introduce you to Mr. McNeice and Mr. O'Donovan.
Malcolmson shook hands with the two men vigorously. I never shake
hands with Malcolmson if I can possibly help it, because he always
hurts me. I expect he hurt both McNeice and O'Donovan. They did not cry
out, but they looked a good deal surprised.
I happened to be in Dublin, said Malcolmson, and I called round
here to congratulate the editor of this paper. I only came across it
the day before yesterday, and
You couldn't have come across it any sooner, I said, for it's
only just published.
And to put down my name as a subscriber for twenty copies. If you
They don't, I said, Conroy is financing them.
Conroy has some sound ideas, said Malcolmson.
You approve of the paper, then? said McNeice.
I like straight talk, said Malcolmson.
We aim at that, said O'Donovan.
I'm dead sick of politics and speech making, said Malcolmson.
What I want is to have a slap at the damned rebels.
Mr. O'Donovan's point of view, I said, is almost the same as
yours. What he wants
I'm glad to hear it, said Malcolmson, and I need only say that
when the time comes, gentlemen, and it won't be long now if things go
on as they are goingyou'll find me ready. What Ireland wants
Malcolmson paused. I waited expectantly. It is always interesting to
hear what Ireland wants. Many people have theories on the subject, and
hardly any one agrees with any one else.
What Ireland wants, said Malcolmson dramatically, is another
He drew himself up and puffed out his chest as he spoke. He must, I
think, have rather fancied himself in the part of a twentieth century
Puritan horse soldier. I looked round at O'Donovan to see how he was
taking the suggestion. Oliver Cromwell I supposed, could not possibly
be one of his favourite heroes. But I had misjudged O'Donovan. His
sympathy with rebels of all nations was evidently stronger than his
dislike of the typical Englishman. After all, Cromwell, however
objectionable his religious views may have been, did kill a king.
O'Donovan smiled quite pleasantly at Malcolmson. I dare say that even
the idea of a new massacre of Drogheda was agreeable enough to him,
provided the inhabitants of the town were the people to whom he denied
the title of Nationalists and Malcolmson wanted to have a slap at
because they were rebels.
Then McNeice got us all back to practical business in a way that
would have delighted Cahoon. McNeice, though he does live in Dublin,
has good Belfast blood in his veins. He likes his heroics to be put on
a business basis. The immediate and most pressing problem, he reminded
us, was to secure as large a circulation as possible for The
You get the paper into the people's hands, he said to Malcolmson,
and we'll get the ideas into their heads.
Malcolmson, who is certainly prepared to make sacrifices in a good
cause, offered to hire a man with a motorcycle to distribute the paper
from house to house over a wide district.
I know the exact man we want, he said. He knows every house in
County Antrim, and the people like him. He's been distributing Bibles
and selling illuminated texts among the farmers and labourers for
years. He's what's called a colporteur. That, he turned to O'Donovan
with his explanation, is a kind of Scripture reader, you know.
If any one in the world except Malcolmson had suggested the
employment of a Scripture reader for the distribution of The
Loyalist, I should have applauded a remarkable piece of cynicism.
But Malcolmson was in simple earnest.
Will you be able to get him? I said. The society which employs
him may perhaps
Oh, that will be all right, said Malcolmson. There can't be any
objection. But if there isI happen to be a member of the committee of
the society. I'm onehe sunk his voice modestlyof the largest
I am inclined to forget sometimes that Malcolmson takes a leading
part in Church affairs. At the last meeting of the General Synod of the
Church of Ireland he said that the distribution of the Bible among the
people of Ireland was the surest means of quenching the desire for Home
Rule. Free copies of The Loyalist for the people who already
have Bibles and a force of artillery are, so to speak, his reserves.
The 12th of July, was, of course, indicated by nature itself as a
day in every way suitable for a great Unionist demonstration. Babberly
and Lady Moyne were not the people to neglect an opportunity. They
organized a demonstration. Then somebodyI think it must have been
McNeice in the pages of The Loyalistsuggested that the thing
should be called a review and not a demonstration. Malcolmson took the
idea up warmly and forced Babberly's hand. English journalists of the
Conservative kindjournalists of every kind swarmed over Belfast for a
week beforehandwere delighted and trumpetted the thing as a review.
Liberal journalists lost their tempersthe clever ones losing theirs
most hopelesslyand abused the Orangemen in finely pointed paradoxical
epigrams, which I dare say excited the admiration of sentimental
Nationalists in Chelsea, but had not the smallest effect of any kind on
the people of Belfast. They, just then, had no leisure time to spend in
reading epigrams, and never at any time appreciated paradox. An English
statesman of great ability announced to the world at large that a
demonstration was one thing, and a review was quite a different thing.
He went no further than to point out the fact that there was a
distinction between the two things; but everybody understood that a
demonstration was, in his opinion, quite harmless, whereas a review
might end in getting somebody into trouble.
The Nationalist leadersthose fellows as McNeice called
themissued a kind of manifesto. It was a document which breathed the
spirit of moderate constitutionalism, and spoke the words of grave,
serious patriotism. It made a strong appeal to the people of Belfast
not to injure the cause of liberty, law and order by rash and
ill-considered action. It said that no Nationalist wanted to see
Babberly and Lord Moyne put into prison; but that most Nationalists had
been made to sleep on plank beds for utterances much less seditious
than this advertisement of a review. O'Donovan and McNeice tore this
manifesto to pieces with jubilant scorn in the next number of The
A Roman Catholic bishop issued a kind of pastoral to his flock
urging them to remain at home on the 12th of July, and above all things
not to attempt a counter demonstration in Belfast. It was a nice
pastoral, very Christian in tone, but quite unnecessary. No sane Roman
Catholic, unless he wanted a martyr's crown, would have dreamed of
demonstrating anywhere north of the Boyne on that particular day.
The newspapers were very interesting at this time, and I took in so
many of them that I had not time to do anything except read them. I had
not even time to read them all, but Marion used to go through the ones
I could not read. With a view to writing an essayto be published in
calmer timeson Different Points of View we cut out and pasted into
a book some of the finer phrases. We put them in parallel columns.
Truculent corner boys, for instance, faced Grim, silent warriors.
Men in whom the spirit of the martial psalms still survives, stood
over against Ruffians whose sole idea of religion is to curse the
Pope. Sons of unconquerable colonists, men of our own race and
blood, was balanced by hooligans with a taste for rioting so long as
rioting can be indulged in with no danger to their own skins. We were
interrupted in this pleasant work by the arrival of a letter from Lady
Moyne. She summoned meinvited would be quite the wrong wordto
Castle Affey. I went, of course.
Babberly was there. He and Lady Moyne were shut up in the library
along with Lady Moyne's exhausted secretary. They were writing letters
which she typed. I saw Moyne himself before I saw them.
I'm afraid, he said, I'm very much afraid that some of our people
are inclined to go too far. Malcolmson, for instance. I can't
understand Malcolmson. After all the man's a gentleman.
But, I said, Malcolmson wants to fight. He always said so.
Quite so, quite so. We all said so. I've said so myself; but it was
always on the distinct understanding
That it would never come to that. I've heard Babberly say so.
Butdamn it all, Kilmore!it doesn't do to push things to these
extremes. The whole business has been mismanaged. The people have got
out of hand; and there's Malcolmson, a man who's dined at my table a
score of times, actually egging them on. Now, what do you think we
ought to do?
The Government is threatening you, I suppose?
It's growling, said Moyne. Not that I care what the Government
does to me. It can't do much. But I do not want her ladyship mixed up
in anything unpleasant. It won't do, you know. People don't like it. I
don't mind for myself, of course. But still it's very unpleasant. Men I
know keep writing to me. You know the sort of thing I mean.
I did. The members of the English aristocracy still preserve a
curious sentiment which they call loyalty. It is quite a different
thing from the loyalty of Crossan, for instance, or McNeice. I fully
understood that there were men in clubs in London who would look coldly
at poor Moyne (men of such importance that their wives' treatment of
Lady Moyne would matter even to her) if he were discovered to be
heading an actual rising of Ulster Protestants. I promised to do what I
could to get Moyne out of his difficulty.
I found that Babberly and Lady Moyne had worked out a very feasible
plan without any help from me.
That fellow Malcolmson has rushed things, said Babberly, and
there's an abominable rag called The Loyalist
By the way, I said, I hear that the Nationalists at their last
meeting in Dublin joined in singing 'God Save the King.'
I wanted to hear what Babberly thought of this. I was disappointed.
The fact did not seem to interest him.
I don't know who edits the thing, he went on, still referring to
Conroy is behind it, I said. I happen to know that.
But surely, said Lady Moyne, Mr. Conroy cannot want to encourage
violence. He has just as much to lose as any of usmore than most of
usby any kind of outbreak of the democracy.
Lady Moyne has suggested to Malcolmson, said Babberly, that he
should agree to call this 12th of July business a March Past.
Is that any improvement on Review? I asked.
Of course, said Lady Moyne, the Government doesn't want to be
driven to take steps against us. There would be horrible rioting
afterwards if they struck Moyne's name off the Privy Council or did
anything like that. It would be just as unpleasant for them as it would
be for us, more so in fact.
Your idea, I said, is to give the Government a loophole of
Malcolmson has agreed all right, said Babberly, and if only that
wretched little paperdid you say Conroy was in it?
I'll write to Mr. Conroy at once, said Lady Moyne. I'm sure his
connection with a paper of that kind is simply a mistake.
She turned to the table and began to write her letter. The secretary
in a distant corner of the room was still typing out a long
pronouncement which Babberly intended to forward to The Times. A
minute or two later Lady Moyne turned to me with one of her brightest
We want you to be with us on the 12th, she said.
In England or Scotland a countess who gives an invitation for the
12th is understood to mean the 12th of August, and her guest must be
ready to shoot grouse. In North-Eastern Ulster the 12th meant the
12th of July, and the party, in this case at all events, was likely to
end in the shooting of policemen.
At the Review? I said, I mean to say the March Past? But I never
go to political meetings. I'm no good at all as a speaker.
Oh, it doesn't matter about your speaking. We should love to hear
you, of course. But if you'd really rather not!
I think Lady Moyne was relieved when I assured her that I really
would rather not.
But you'll be on the platform, she said. We want you very much
I don't see, I said, that I'll be the least use to you.
The point is, said Babberly, that you're a Liberal.
Oh, you mustn't say that, said Lady Moyne. That's only foolish
gossip. I'm perfectly certain that Lord Kilmore never was
Never, I said. But then I never was a Conservative either.
That's just it, said Lady Moyne. Don't you see?
The point is, said Babberly, that if you are on the platform it
will be quite clearI mean to say as it's generally understood that
you're inclined to Liberalism
I began to understand a little. Last time I was at Castle Affey Lady
Moyne made a great point of my associating myself with her party in
opposing Home Rule. The fact that I was a Liberal (though not in any
offensive sense of the word) gave weight to the opposition; and I might
help to make the other Liberals (who were Liberals in the most
offensive possible sense) take the threats of Babberly seriously. This
time I was to sit on the platform side by side with Malcolmson and
Cahoon, because, being a Liberal, or rather suspected of being inclined
to Liberalism, my presence might induce the other Liberals, who were
Liberals indeed, not to take Babberly's remarks at their face value.
That is the drawback to the kind of detached position which I occupy. I
am liable to be used for such various purposes that I get confused.
However, I ought, no doubt, to be very thankful that I am useful in any
If you think, my dear Lady Moyne, I said, that my presence at the
March Past will be of the slightest service to you
It will, she said. It will, indeed, of the very greatest service,
and Moyne will be delighted.
I was thinking of Moyne when I made the promise. I do not mean to
say that I should have undertaken to perch myself like a fool on a
wooden platform in the middle of a mob simply out of friendship for
Moyne. I would not have done it unless Lady Moyne had looked at me with
a particular expression in her eyes, unless I had hoped that she would
give my hand a little squeeze of intimate friendship when I was bidding
her good night. Still I did think of Moyne too, and was quite genuinely
pleased that I was able to help him out of a difficult position.
I found him later on roaming about among the cucumber frames in a
desolate corner of the garden. A man who was digging potatoes directed
me to that curious retreat.
It's all right, Moyne, I said. We've got the whole thing settled
most satisfactorily. You needn't be afraid of any disagreeable public
Thank God! said Moyne, fervently. How did you manage it?
I can't take any credit for the arrangement, I said. Lady Moyne
and Babberly had it all cut and dried before they consulted me at all.
What are they going to do?
Well, in the first place they've got Malcolmson and the rest of
that lot to stop calling the thing a Review. It's to be officially
known for the future as a March Past.
Who is to march past what? said Moyne.
I forgot to ask that, I said, but I rather fancy the audience is
to march past you.
I don't see, said Moyne, that there's much difference between
calling it a March Past and calling it a Review. They're both military
terms; and what I object to is being associated with
Lady Moyne seemed to think, I said, that it made all the
difference in the world; and that the Government would grasp at the
I suppose it will be all right, said Moyne doubtfully.
The next part of the plan, I said, is that I am to be on the
You'll rather hate that, won't you, Kilmore?
I shall detest it.
And I don't see what good it will do.
Nor do I; but Lady Moyne and Babberly both say that as I'm a
Surely to God you're not that! said Moyne.
No, I'm not. But I'm suspected of being inclined that way.
Therefore my being on the platform will prove to the world that you're
not nearly so much of a Unionist as you've been trying to make out.
But I am, said Moyne.
I know that, of course; but Lady Moyne wants to persuade people
that you're not, just for the present, till this fuss about the Review
I suppose it will be all right, said Moyne, again.
It was all right. An announcement was made in all the leading papers
that no one had ever intended to hold a Review on the 12th of July, but
that the Unionist leaders had expressed their unalterable determination
to have a March Past. The Liberal papers said that this abandonment of
the principal item on their programme showed more distinctly than ever
that the Ulster Unionists were merely swaggering cowards who retreated
before the firm front showed by the Government in face of their
arrogant claims. The Unionist papers said that Belfast by insisting on
the essential thing while displaying a magnanimous disregard for the
accidental nomenclature, had demonstrated once and for ever the
impossibility of passing the Home Rule Bill.
A few days later my name appeared amongst those of other gentlemen
who intended to take seats on the platform in Belfast. The Unionist
papers welcomed the entry into public life of a peer of my well-known
intellectual powers and widely recognized moderation. The Liberal
papers said that the emptiness of Ulster's opposition to Home Rule
might be gauged by the fact that it had welcomed the support of a
Our meeting on the 12th of July was held in the Botanic Gardens, and
nobody marched past anything. A platform, not unlike the Grand Stand at
a country race meeting, was built on the top of a long slope of grass.
At the bottom of the slope was a level space, devoted at ordinary times
to tennis-courts. Beyond that the ground sloped up again. The botanists
who owned the gardens must, I imagine, have regretted that our meeting
was a splendid success. I did not see their grounds afterwards, but
there cannot possibly have been much grass left. The poor
tennis-players must have been cut off from their game for the rest of
the summer. The space in front of the platform was packed with men, and
the air was heavy with the peculiarly pungent smell of orange peel. I
cannot imagine how any one in the crowd managed to peel an orange. The
men seemed to be so tightly packed as to make the smallest movement
impossible. Possibly the oranges were deliberately peeled beforehand by
the organizers of the meeting with a view to creating the proper
atmosphere for the meeting. There certainly is a connection between the
smell of oranges and political enthusiasm. I felt a wave of strong
feeling come over me the moment I climbed to my seat; and as no one had
at that time made a speech, it can only have been the oranges which
affected me. I wish some philosopher would work out a theory of
oranges. The blossom of the tree is used at weddings as a symbol of
enduring love, perhaps as an aid to affection. The mature fruit
pervades political meetings, which are all called together with a view
to promoting strife and general ill feeling. What would happen if any
one came to a meeting crowned with the blossoms? What would become of a
bride if she were decked with the fruit? Is there any connection
whatever between the fruit and the lily? It is certainly associated
with political action of the most violent kind.
Poor Moyne, who took the chair, wore one of the lilies, a very small
one, in the lapel of his coat. Lady Moyne carried a large bouquet of
them. Babberly wore one. So did Malcolmson. Our Dean would have worn
one if he could; but it is impossible to fix a flower becomingly into
the button-hole of a clerical coat. We began by singing a hymn. The
Dean declaimed the first two lines of it, and then the bands took up
the tune. Considering that there must have been at least forty bands
present, all playing, I think we got through the hymn remarkably well.
We certainly made an impressive amount of noise. I think it was
Babberly who suggested the hymn. He had an idea that it would impress
the English Nonconformists. I do not think it did; but, so far as our
meeting was concerned, that did not matter. We were not singing itany
of us, except Babberlywith a view to impressing other people. We were
singing with the feeling in our breasts, that we were actually marching
to battle under the divine protection. The reporters of the Unionist
papers made the most of the prevailing emotion. They sent off telegrams
of the most flamboyant kind about our Puritan forefathers.
Poor Moyne, who is a deeply religious man, did not sing the hymn. He
has a theory that hymns and politics ought not to be mixed. I heard him
arguing the position afterwards with the Dean who maintained that the
question of Home Rule was not a political one. Political questions are
those, so he argued, with regard to which there is a possibility of
difference of opinion among honest men. But all honest men are opposed
to Home Rule, which is therefore not a political question.
My seat was in the very front of the platform, and when we had
finished the hymn I noticed that the smell of perspiration was
beginning to overpower the oranges. It is my misfortune to have an
unusually acute sense of smell. No one afflicted with such an infirmity
ought to take any part in the politics of a modern democratic state.
Moyne introduced Babberly to the audience, and everybody cheered,
although no one heard a word he said. Moyne has not a good voice at any
time, and his objection to the hymn had made him nervous.
Babberly was not nervous, and he has a very good voice. I imagine
that at least half the audience heard what he said, and the other half
knew he was saying the right things because the first half cheered him
at frequent intervals.
He began, of course, by saying that our forefathers bled and died
for the cause which we were determined to support. This, so far as my
forefathers and Moyne's are concerned, is horribly untrue. The
ancestors of both of us commanded regiments of the volunteers who
achieved the only Home Rule Parliament which ever sat in Ireland. My
own great grandfather afterwards exchanged his right to legislate in
Dublin for the peerage which I now enjoy. But Moyne and I were no doubt
in a minority in that assembly. Babberly's forefathers may possibly
have bled and died for the Union; but I do not think he can be sure
about this. His father lived in Leeds, and nobody, not even Babberly
himself, knows anything about his grandfather.
When the audience had stopped cheering Babberly's forefathers, he
went on to tell us that Belfast had the largest shipbuilding yard, the
largest tobacco factory, the largest linen mill, and the second largest
School of Art Needlework in the United Kingdom. These facts were
treated by everybody as convincing reasons for the rejection of the
Home Rule Bill, and a man, who was squeezed very tight against the
platform just below me, cursed the Pope several times with singular
Babberly's next statement was that he defied the present Government
to drive us out of the British Empire, which we had taken a great deal
of trouble in times past to build up. This was, of course, a perfectly
safe defiance to utter; for no one that I ever heard of had proposed to
drive Babberly, or me, or Moyne out of the Empire.
Then we got to the core of Babberly's speech. Some fool, it
appeared, wanted to impeach Babberly, and Babberly said that he wanted
to be impeached. I am a little hazy about the exact consequences of a
successful impeachment. There has not been one for a long time; but I
have an idea that the victim of the process is called before the House
of Lords and beheaded. How far recent legislation may have curtailed
the powers of the House of Lords in the matter I do not know; but even
under our new constitution impeachment must remain a very serious
matter. It was, we all felt, most heroic of Babberly to face this kind
of undefined doom in the way he did.
This was the last thing which Babberly said in his speech. He talked
a great deal more, but he did not say anything else which it is
possible to write down. I do not think I have ever heard any public
speaker equal to Babberly in eloquence. He gave one incontestable proof
of his power as an orator that day in Belfast. He must have spoken for
very nearly an hour, and yet no one noticed that he was not saying
anything for the greater part of the time. I did not notice it, and
probably should never have found it out if I had not tried afterwards
to write down what he said.
After Babberly came the Dean. I suffer a great deal from the Dean's
sermons on Sundays; but I thoroughly enjoyed his speech. He is not
Babberly's rival in eloquence; but he has a knack of saying the kind of
things which people listen to. He began by telling us what he would do
if he found himself in command of the forces of Ulster at the beginning
of a great war. Lord Moyne, he said, should organize my transport
I cannot imagine any job at which Moyne would be more certain to
fail totally. But the Dean justified himself.
I have stopped in Lord Moyne's house, he said, and I know how
well he manages the food supply of a large establishment. My friend Mr.
Babberly should draw up the plan of campaign. His cautious intellect
should devise the schemes for circumventing the wiles and stratagems of
the enemy. He should map out the ambuscades into which the opposing
troops should fall. You have listened to Mr. Babberly to-day. You will
agree with me about his fitness for the work to which I should put
I had listened to Babberly and I did not agree with the Dean. But I
formed one of a very small minority. Moyne began to look uneasy. It
seemed to me that he did not much like this military metaphor of the
Dean's. I imagine that he would have been still more uncomfortable if
he had been obliged to take an active part in a campaign planned by
For the command of a forlorn hope, said the Dean, for the leading
of a desperate charge, for the midnight dash across the frontier
Some one in the audience suggested the Boyne as the boundary of the
I should select Colonel Malcolmson.
The audience highly approved of his choice. It seemed to me that the
people did not quite grasp the fact that the Dean was speaking only
metaphorically. Some thought of the same kind struck Moyne. He
fidgetted uneasily, Babberly made an effort to stop the Dean, but that
For settling the terms of peace with the beaten enemy
We'll beat them, said several people in the crowd.
I should call upon my good friend Lord Kilmore.
This gave me a severe shock. For a moment I thought of standing up
and refusing to act as military ambassador of the Ulster army. Then I
recollected that if Moyne managed the transport and Babberly planned
the campaign it was exceedingly unlikely that there would be any beaten
enemy. I kept my seat and watched Babberly whispering earnestly to Lady
Malcolmson followed the Dean. Moyne leaned over to me and expressed
a hope that Malcolmson was not going to commit us to anything
outrageous. From the look of Malcolmson's eye as he rose I judged that
Moyne's hope was a vain one.
The Dean, said Malcolmson, has spoken to you about the campaign.
I ask you, are you prepared to undertake one?
Good Heavens! said Moyne.
Babberly squeezed his way past Lady Moyne.
This won't do, he said to Moyne, Malcolmson mustn't go too far.
The Dean, said Malcolmson, has told us where to find our
commanders. Looking round upon this vast assembly of determined men I
can tell the Dean where to look for the rank and file of the army.
You'll have to stop him, said Babberly.
I dare say the thought of the impeachment which was hanging over his
head made him nervous.
I can't, said Lord Moyne.
I ask those present here, said Malcolmson, who, when the supreme
moment comes are prepared to step forward into the ranks, to hold up
their hands and swear.
Malcolmson did not make it quite clear what oaths we were to employ.
But his audience appeared to understand him. Thousands of hands were
held up and there was a kind of loud, fierce growl, which I took to be
the swearing. Lord Moyne turned to me.
What am I to do, Kilmore?
I don't know, I said.
Malcolmson and the ten or twelve thousand men in front of him were
still growling like a very angry thunderstorm at a distance. The thing
was exceedingly impressive. Then some one started the hymn again. I
never heard a hymn sung in such a way before. If the explosions of
large guns could be tuned to the notes of an octave the effect of
firing them off, fully loaded with cannon balls, would be very much the
same. Malcolmson, beating time very slowly with his hand from the front
of the platform, controlled this human artillery. Lady Moyne came to me
and shouted in my ear. It was necessary to shout on account of the
terrific noise made by Malcolmson's hymn.
As soon as he sits down you'll have to get up and say something.
I can't, I yelled. I'm no good at all as a public speaker.
The beginning of Lady Moyne's next shout I could not hear at all.
Only the last words reached me.
on account of your being a Liberal, you know.
For the first time since I have known her I refused to do what Lady
Moyne asked me. Very likely I should have given in at last and made an
indescribable fool of myself; but before she succeeded in persuading
me, Malcolmson's hymn stopped. Malcolmson himself, apparently satisfied
with his performance, sat down.
What on earth am I to do? said Moyne.
You can write to the papers, to-morrow, I said.
But now? said Moyne, now.
The only thing I can think of, I said, is to start them singing
'God Save the King.' That will commit them more or lessat least it
Moyne rose to his feet and asked all the bands present to play God
Save the King. Babberly backed him and the bands struck up.
Considering that the audience had just pledged themselves with
inarticulate oaths and most terrifying psalmody to march in
Malcolmson's army, their enthusiasm for the King was striking. They
sang the National Anthem quite as whole-heartedly as they had sung the
hymn. They are a very curious people, these fellow-countrymen of mine.
Moyne cheered up a little when we got back to the club.
That was a capital idea of yours, Kilmore, he said. I don't see
how they can very well accuse us of being rebels after the way we sang
the National Anthem.
I wonder if they'll impeach Babberly, I said.
Oh, that's only a Labour Member, said Moyne. He doesn't really
mean it. Those fellows never do.
Do you think our people really meant it to-day? I said.
Meant what? God Save the King? Of course they did.
I was thinking of the hymn, I said.
I hope to God, said Moyne, they didn't mean that.
This is a curious view of hymn-singing for a religious man to take.
I cannot make out why everybody thinks I am a Liberal. Lady Moyne
was the first who mentioned to me this slur on my character. Babberly
evidently believed it. Then, shortly after the Belfast meeting, I had a
letter, marked Private and Confidential, from Sir Samuel Clithering.
Although Clithering is not a member of the Government, he is in close
touch with several very important Ministers. Under ordinary
circumstances I should not mention Clithering's name in telling the
story of his letter. I know him to be a conscientious, scrupulously
honourable man, and I should hate to give him pain. Under ordinary
circumstances, that is, if things had gone in Ulster in the way things
usually do go, Clithering would have felt it necessary to assert
publicly in the papers that he did not write the letter. This would
have been very disagreeable for him because he does not like telling
lies; and the unpleasantness would certainly be aggravated by the fact
that nobody would believe him. So many important and exciting things,
however, have happened in Ulster since I got the letter that I do not
think Clithering will now want to deny that he wrote it. I have,
therefore, no hesitation in mentioning his name.
This letter was written in the best politico-diplomatic style. I had
to read it nine times before I could find out what it was about. When I
did find out I made a translation of it into the English of ordinary
life, so as to make quite sure of not acting beyond my instructions. I
was first of all complimented on not being a party politician. This,
coming from one of the Government wire-pullers, meant, of course, that
I was in his opinion a strong Liberal. I have noticed for years that
the only party politicians in these islands are the people who are
active on the other side; and that party politics are the other side's
programme. My correspondent evidently agreed with Lady Moyne and
Babberly that as I was not a Conservative, I must be a supporter of the
Having made this quite unwarranted assumption, the letter went on to
suggest that I should ask Conroy if he would like a peerage. The point
was not made quite clear, but I gathered that Conroy could have any
kind of title that he liked, up to an earldom. I know, of course, that
peerages are given in exchange for subscriptions to party funds, by the
party, whichever it may be, which receives the subscriptions. I did not
know before that peerages were ever given with a view to inducing the
happy recipient not to subscribe to the funds of the other party. But
in Conroy's case this must have been the motive which lay behind the
offer. He had certainly given Lady Moyne a handsome cheque. He was
financing McNeice's little paper in the most liberal way. He had, I
suspected, supplied Crossan with the motor car in which he went about
the country tuning up the Orange Lodges. It seemed quite likely it was
his money with which Rose's young man bought the gold brooch which had
attracted Marion's attention. Conroy was undoubtedly subsidizing Ulster
Unionism very generously. I suppose it must have been worth while to
stop this flow of money. Hence the suggestion that Conroy might be
given a peerage. This, at least, was the explanation of the letter
which I adopted at the time. I have since had reason to suppose that
the Government knew more than I did about the way Conroy was spending
his money, and was nervous about something more important than
Babberly's occasional demonstrations.
My first impulse was to burn the letter and tell my correspondent
that I was not a politician of any sort, and did not care for doing
this kind of work. Then my curiosity got the better of my sense of
honour. A man cannot, I think, be both an historian and a gentleman. It
is an essential part of the character of a gentleman that he should
dislike prying into other people's secrets. The business of the
historian, on the other hand, is to rake about if necessary through
dust-bins, until he finds out the reasons, generally disreputable, why
things are done. A gentleman displays a dignified superiority to the
vice of curiosity. For the historian curiosity is a virtue. I am, I
find, more of an historian than a gentleman. I wanted very much to find
out how Conroy would take the offer of a peerage. I also wanted to
understand thoroughly why the offer was made.
Some weeks were to pass before I learned the Government's real
reason for wanting to detach Conroy from the Unionist cause; but luck
favoured me in the matter of sounding Conroy himself. I had a letter
from him in which he said that he was coming to our neighbourhood for a
few days. I immediately asked him to stay with me.
Then I tried, very foolishly, to make my nephew Godfrey feel
Conroy, I said, is coming here to stay with me next Tuesday.
How splendid! said Godfrey. I say, Excellency, you will ask me up
to dinner every night he's here, won't you?
I thought, I said, that you wouldn't like to meet Conroy.
Of course I'd like to meet him. He might give me a job of some kind
or get me one. A man like that with millions of money must have plenty
of jobs to give away.
When Godfrey speaks of a job he means a salary. Nearly everybody
If I can only get the chance of making myself agreeable to him,
said Godfrey, I'm sure I'll be able to get something out of him.
I'm surprised, I said, at your wanting to meet him at all. After
the post-card he wrote you
Oh, I don't mind that in the least, said Godfrey. I never take
This is, indeed, one of Godfrey's chief vices. He never does take
offence. It was Talleyrand, I think, who said that no man need ever get
angry about anything said by a woman or a bishop. Godfrey improves on
this philosophy. He never gets angry with any one except those whom he
regards as his inferiors.
It would be a good opportunity, said Godfrey, for your second
menagerie party. We've only had one this year. I expect it would amuse
I'm nearly sure it wouldn't.
We'll have to do something in the way of entertaining while he's
here, said Godfrey. I suppose you'll have the Moynes over to dinner?
I knew that the Moynes were in London, so I told Godfrey that he
could write and ask them if he liked. I tried to be firm in my
opposition to the garden-party, but Godfrey wore me down. It was fixed
for Wednesday, and invitations were sent out. I discovered afterwards
that Godfrey told his particular friends that they were to have the
honour of meeting a real millionaire. In the case of the Pringles he
went so far as to hint that Conroy was very likely to give him a
lucrative post. On the strength of this expectation, Pringle, who is an
easy man to deceive, allowed Godfrey to cash a cheque for £10.
Conroy arrived on Sunday afternoon, travelling, as a millionaire
should, in a motor car. Godfrey dined with us that night, and made
himself as agreeable as he could. Conroy had, apparently, forgotten all
about the post-card. I did not get a minute alone with my guest that
night and so could do nothing about the peerage. I thought of
approaching him on the subject next morning after breakfast, though
that is not a good hour for delicate negotiations. But even if I had
been willing to attack him then, I hardly had the chance. Godfrey was
up with us at half-past ten. He wanted to take Conroy on a personally
conducted tour round the objects of interest in the neighbourhood.
Conroy said he wanted to go to the house of a man called Crossan who
lived somewhere near us, and would be very glad if Godfrey would act as
guide. It is a remarkable proof of Godfrey's great respect for
millionaires that he consented to show Conroy the way to Crossan's
house. They went off together, and I saw no more of Conroy till
He deliberately avoided my garden-party, although Godfrey had
explained to him the night before that my guests would be quite the
funniest lot of bounders to be found anywhere.
The Pringles must have been disappointed at not meeting Conroy. Miss
Pringle, whose name I found out was Tottie, looked quite pretty in a
pink dress, and smiled almost as nicely as she did when Bob Power took
her to gather strawberries. Mrs. Pringle asked Godfrey to dine with
them that night, and Tottie looked at him out of the corner of her eyes
so as to show him that she would be pleased if he accepted the
invitation. Pringle himself joined in pressing Godfrey. I suppose he
must really have believed in the salary which Godfrey expected to get
Godfrey promised to dine with them. He explained his position to me
I needn't tell you, Excellency, he said, that I don't want to go
there. I shall get a rotten bad dinner and Mrs. Pringle is a rank
Miss Pringle, I said, seems a pleasant girl. She's certainly
Poor little Tottie! said Godfrey. That sort of girl isn't bad fun
sometimes; but I wouldn't put up with boiled mutton just for the sake
of a kiss or two from her. The fact is
Your banking account, I said.
That's it, said Godfrey. Pringle's directors have been writing
rather nasty letters lately. It's perfectly all right, of course, and I
told him so; but all the same it's better to accept his invitation.
Godfrey is the most unmitigated blackguard I've ever met.
I hardly see Tottie Pringle as the next Lady Kilmore, said
Godfrey; but, of course, that's the game.
I do not believe it. Tottie PringleI do not for a moment believe
that she ever allowed Godfrey to kiss herdoes not look the kind of
You'll make my excuses to Conroy, won't you, Excellency? Tell
What is the exact amount of the over-draft? I said; he'll
probably want to know.
Better not say anything about that, said Godfrey. Tell him I had
a business engagement.
Godfrey's necessity gave me my opportunity. I had Conroy all to
myself after dinner, and I sounded him very cautiously about the title.
The business turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. At
first Conroy was singularly obtuse. He did not seem to understand what
I was hinting at. There was really no excuse for him. Our surroundings
were very well suited for delicate negotiations. I had given him a
bottle of champagne at dinner. I had some excellent port on the table
afterwards. My dining-room is a handsome apartment, a kind of large
hall with a vaulted roof. The light of the candles on the table mingled
in a pleasantly mysterious way with the twilight of the summer evening.
The long windows lay wide open and a heavy scent of lilies crept into
the room. The lamp on the sideboard behind me lit up the impressive
portrait of my great grandfather in the uniform of a captain of
volunteers, the Irish volunteers of 1780. Any one, I should have
supposed, would have walked delicately among hints and suggestions in
such an atmosphere, among such surroundings. But Conroy would not. I
was forced at last to speak rather more plainly than I had intended to.
Then Conroy turned on me.
What does your Government think I should want the darned thing
for? he said.
Oh, I don't know. I suppose the usual reasons.
What are they? said Conroy, for I'm damned if I know.
Well, I said, when you put it that way I don't know that I can
exactly explain. But most people like it. I like it myself, although
I'm pretty well used to it. I imagine it would be much nicer when you
came to it quite fresh. If you happen to be going over to London, you
know, it's rather pleasant to have the fellow who runs the sleeping-car
bustling the other people out of the way and calling you 'my lord.'
Conroy sat in grim silence.
There's more than that in it, I said. That's only an example,
quite a small example of the kind of thing I mean. But those little
things count, you know. And, of course, the extra tip that the fellow
expects in the morning wouldn't matter to you.
Conroy still declined to make any answer. I began to feel hot and
There are other points, too, I went on. For instance a quite
pretty girl called Tottie Pringle wants to marry my nephew Godfreyat
least he says she doessimply because he'll be Lord Kilmore when I'm
dead. You've met my nephew Godfrey, so you'll realize that she can't
possibly have any other motive.
What, said Conroy, does your Government expect me to do in return
for making me attractive to Tottie Pringle?
It's not my Government, I said. I'm not mixed up with it or
responsible for it in any way.
I always understood, said Conroy, that you are a Liberal.
Everybody understands that, I said, and it's no use my
contradicting it. As for what the Government wants you to do, I haven't
been actually told; but I fancy you'd be expected to stop giving
subscriptions to Lady Moyne.
Is that all?
That's all I can think of. But, of course, there may be other
I reckon, said Conroy, that your Government can't be quite fool
enough to mind much about what Lady Moyne does with my money. The
pennies she drops into the slot so as to make Babberly talk won't hurt
This was very much my own opinion. If I were a member of the
governmentI rather think I actually was, a few weeks laterBabberly
would merely stimulate me.
You can tell your Government from me said Conroy.
It's not my Government.
Well tell that Government from me, that when I want a title
I'll put down the full market price. At present I'm not taking any.
Next day Conroy went off with Crossan in his motor car. He did not
come back. I got a telegram from him later in the afternoon asking me
to forward his luggage to Belfast. I forget the excuse he made for
treating me in this very free and easy way; but there was an excuse, I
know, probably quite a long one, for the telegram filled three sheets
of the paper which the post-office uses for these messages.
Conroy's sudden departure was a bitter sorrow and disappointment to
Godfrey. He came up to dinner that night with three new pearl studs in
the front of his shirt.
What I can't understand, he said, is why a man like Conroy should
spend his time with your upper servants; people like Crossan, whom I
shouldn't dream of shaking hands with.
I'm afraid, I said, that he's not going to give you that job you
He may, said Godfrey. I think he liked me right enough. If only
he could be got to believe that Power is robbing him right and left.
But is he?
He's doing what practically comes to the same thing. Once Conroy
finds outand he will some dayI should think I'd have a middling
good chance of getting his secretaryship. He must have a gentleman for
that job, otherwise he'd never be able to get along at all. I don't
suppose he knows how to do things a bit. He evidently doesn't know how
to behave. Look at the way he's gone on with Crossan since he's been
here. Now if I were his secretary
Godfrey mumbled on. He evidently has hopes of ousting Bob Power. He
may possibly succeed in doing so. Godfrey has all the cunning
characteristic of the criminal lunatic.
Three days later he got his chance of dealing with Bob Power. The
Finola anchored in our bay again and Bob Power was in command of
Bob Power spent the afternoon with us. Strictly speaking, I ought to
say he spent the afternoon with Marion. I only saw him at tea-time. He
let me understand then that he would like to stay and dine with us. I
felt that I ought to be vexed at the prospect of losing another quiet
evening. Conroy had cost me two evenings. My visit to Castle Affey, my
political March Past, and my expedition to Dublin had robbed me of nine
others. I could ill afford to spare a twelfth to Bob Power. Yet I felt
unreasonably pleased when he promised to dine with us. There is a
certain flavour of the sea about Bob, a sense of boisterous good
fellowship, a joyous irresponsibility, which would have been attractive
to me at any time, and were singularly pleasant after my political
experiences. I was not at all so well pleased when a note arrived from
Godfrey in which he asked whether he too could dine with us.
He arrived long before dinner, before I had gone upstairs to dress,
and explained himself.
I heard, he said, that Power was up here, so I thought I'd better
How lucky it is, I said, that Pringle didn't invite you
I shouldn't have gone if he had. I should have considered it my
duty to come here. After all, Excellency, some one ought to look after
Marion a bit.
For the matter of that, I said, some one ought to look after
You never can tell, said Godfrey, what silly fancy a girl will
take into her head, and that fellow Power is just the sort who might
Godfrey nodded sagaciously. It has always been understood that
Godfrey is to marry Marion at some future time. I have always
understood this and, on personal grounds, dislike it very much; though
I do not deny that the arrangement is convenient. My title is not a
very ancient or particularly honourable one, but I do not like to think
of its being dragged in the gutter by a pauper. If Godfrey married
Marion he would have the use of her income. Godfrey has certainly
understood this plan for the future. He may treat himself occasionally
to the kisses of Tottie Pringle, but he is not the man to allow kissing
to interfere with his prospect of earning a competence. Whether Marion
understood her fate or not, I do not know. She always endured Godfrey
with patience. I suppose that this condition of affairs gave Godfrey a
certain right to nod sagaciously when he spoke of looking after Marion.
But I resented both his tone and the things he said. I left him and
went up to dress.
Marion's behaviour during the evening fully justified Godfrey's
fears, though I do not think that anything would have excused him for
expressing them to me. She was amazingly cheerful during dinner, and in
so good a temper, that she continued smiling at Godfrey even when he
scowled at her. Bob Power was breezily agreeable, and I should have
thoroughly enjoyed the stories he told us if I had not been conscious
all the time that Godfrey was frowning at my right ear. He sat on that
side of me and Bob Power on the other, so my ear was, most of the time,
the nearest thing to my face that Godfrey could frown at.
After dinner Bob and Marion behaved really badly; not to Godfrey,
but to me. No one could behave badly to Godfrey because he always
deserves worse than the worst that is done to him. But I am not a very
objectionable person, and I have during the last twenty-two years shown
a good deal of kindness to Marion. I do not think that she and Bob
ought to have slipped out of the drawing-room window after singing one
short song, and left me to be worried by Godfrey for the whole evening.
Only one way of escape presented itself to me. I pretended to go to
sleep. That stopped Godfrey talking after a time; but not until I had
found it necessary to snore. I heard every word he said up to that
point. I woke up with a very good imitation of a start when Bob and
Marion came in again. That happened at ten o'clock, and Bob immediately
said good night. Under ordinary circumstances Godfrey stays on till
nearly eleven; but that night he went away five minutes after Bob left.
Next morning there was trouble. It began with Marion's behaviour at
breakfast. As a rule she is a young woman of placid and equable temper,
one who is likely in the future to have a soothing effect on her
husband. That morning she was very nearly hysterical. When we went into
my study after breakfast she was quite incapable of work, and could not
lay her hands on any of the papers which I particularly wanted. I was
irritated at the moment, but I recognized afterwards that she had some
excuse, and in any case my morning's work would have been interrupted.
At half-past ten I got a note from Godfreywritten in pencil and
almost illegiblein which he asked me to go down to see him at once.
He said that he was in severe pain and for the time confined to bed.
You're sure, he said, to have heard a garbled account of what
happened, before you get this letter. I want to tell you the facts
before I take further action.
The word facts was underlined shakily. I had, of course, heard no
account of anything which had happened. I handed the letter to Marion.
Do you know what this means? I asked.
Marion read it.
Rose told me this morning, she said, that there had been some
kind of a row last night. She said Godfrey was killed.
That isn't true at all events, I said. He's still alive.
Of course I didn't believe her, said Marion.
But I think you ought to have told me at breakfast, I said. I
hate having these things sprung on me suddenly. At my time of life even
good news ought to be broken to me gradually. Any sudden shock is bad
for the heart.
I thought there might be no truth in the story at all, said
Marion, and you know, father, that you don't like being worried.
I don't. But I am worried a great deal.
I suppose, I said, that I'd better go down and see him. He says
he's in great pain, so he's not likely to be agreeable; but still I'd
Do, said Marion; and, of course, if there's anything I can do,
anything I can send down to him
I don't expect he's as bad as all that, I said. Men like Godfrey
are never seriously hurt. But if he expresses a wish for chicken jelly
I'll let you know at once.
I started at once. I met Bob Power just outside my own gate. He was
evidently a little embarrassed, but he spoke to me with the greatest
I'm extremely sorry, Lord Kilmore, he said, but I am afraid I
hurt your nephew last night.
Not very, said Bob. Collar bone and a couple of ribs. I saw the
doctor this morning.
Yes. It wasn't altogether my fault. I mean to say
I'm sure it was altogether Godfrey's, I said. The thing which
surprises me is that nobody ever did it before. Godfrey is nearly
thirty, so for twenty years at least every man he has met must have
been tempted to break his ribs. We must, in spite of what everybody
says, be a Christian nation. If we were not
He would keep following me about, said Bob. I told him several
times to clear away and go home. But he wouldn't.
He has a fixed idea that you're engaged in smuggling.
Even if I was, said Bob, it would be no business of his.
That's just why he mixes himself up in it. If it had been his
business he wouldn't have touched it. There's nothing Godfrey hates
more than doing anything he ought to do.
I'm awfully glad you take it that way, said Bob. I was afraid
My dear fellow, I said, I'm delighted. But you haven't told me
yet exactly how it happened.
I was moving a packing-case, said Bob, a rather large one
He hesitated. I think he felt that the packing-case might require
some explanation, especially as it was being moved at about eleven
o'clock at night. I hastened to reassure him.
Quite a proper thing for you to be doing, I said, and certainly
no business of Godfrey's. Every one has a perfect right to move
packing-cases about from place to place.
He told me he was going for the police, so
I don't think you need have taken any notice of that threat. The
police know Godfrey quite well. They hate being worried just as much as
So I knocked him down.
You must have hit him in several places at once, I said, to have
broken so many bones.
The fact is, said Bob, that he got up again.
That's just the sort of thing he would do. Any man of ordinary good
feeling would have known that when he was knocked down he was meant to
Then the two other men who were with me, young fellows out of the
town, set on him.
Was one of them particularly freckly? I asked.
I didn't notice. Why do you ask?
If he was it would account for my daughter's maid getting hold of
an inaccurate version of the story this morning. But it doesn't matter.
Go on with what you were saying.
There isn't any more, said Bob. They hammered him, and then we
carried him home. That's all.
I am going down to see him now, I said. He's thinking of taking
Let him, said Bob. Is Miss D'Aubigny at home?
Yes, she is. If you're going up to see her
I would, said Bob, if I thought she wouldn't be angry with me.
She's nervous, I said, and excited; but she didn't seem angry.
Just outside the town I met Crossan and, very much to my surprise,
McNeice walking with him. Crossan handed me a letter. I put it into my
pocket and greeted McNeice.
I did not know you were here, I said. When did you come?
Last night, said McNeice. Crossan brought me on his motor.
Were you in time for the scrimmage?
You'd maybe better read the letter I've given you, my lord, said
If I'd been there, said McNeice, your nephew would probably be
dead now. In my opinion he ought to be.
The letter I've just given your lordship, said Crossan, is an
I'm sure it is, I said. But I haven't time to read it now.
What's in it, my lord, is this. I'm resigning the management of
your business here, and the sooner you're suited with a new man the
If my nephew Godfrey has been worrying you, Crossan, I said, I'll
It's not that, my lord. For all the harm his talk ever did me I'd
stay on. But
He looked at McNeice as if asking permission to say more.
Political business, said McNeice.
Of course, I said, if it's a matter of politics, everything must
give way to politics. But I'm very sorry to lose you, Crossan. My
You'll have no business affairs left, my lord, if the Home Rule
But you're going to stop it, I said.
We are, said Crossan.
He certainly believed that he was. At the present moment he believes
that he did stop it.
I found Godfrey propped up in bed. His face had a curiously
unbalanced appearance owing to the way in which one side of his jaw was
swollen. Bob Power's original blow must have been a hard one. I noticed
when he spoke that one of his eye teeth was broken off short. He began
to pour out his complaint the moment I entered the room.
A murderous assault was made on me last night, he said. After I
left your house I walked down
Don't talk if it hurts you, Godfrey, I said.
He was speaking in a muffled way which led me to think that the
inside of his mouth must be nearly as much swollen as the outside.
That fellow Power had a band of ruffians with him. If he had fought
fair I shouldn't have minded, but
What were you doing, I said, to make him attack you? He must have
had some reason.
I wasn't doing anything. I was simply looking on.
That may have been the most objectionable thing possible, I said.
I don't say that his violence was justified; but it may have been
quite excusable if you insisted on looking on at something which he
didn't want you to see.
Godfrey actually tried to smile. He could not do so, of course, on
account of the condition of his mouth, but I judged by the expression
of his eyes that he was trying to. Godfrey's smiles are always either
malicious or idiotic. This one, if it had come off, would have been
I saw all I wanted to, he said, before they attacked me. In fact,
I was just going for the police
I suppose you sent for the police this morning? I said.
No, I didn't. I don't trust the police. I wouldn't trust the
magistrates here, except you, of course, Excellency. What I'm going to
do is write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Good gracious, Godfrey! Why the Chancellor of the Exchequer? What
interest can you expect him to take in your fights? If you are going to
make a political matter of it at all, you'd far better try the
Secretary of State for War. It's much more in his line.
But the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the man who's responsible
for the revenue, isn't he?
You can't expect him to give you a pension simply because Power
knocked out your teeth.
He'll stop Power smuggling, said Godfrey.
I suppose, I said, that it's no use my telling you that he was
I saw him at it, said Godfrey, and I'm going to write to the
Chancellor of the Exchequer.
What on earth do you expect to gain by that? I asked.
He ought to be grateful to me for putting him on the track of the
smuggling, said Godfrey. I should think he'd want to do something for
me afterwards. He might
Give you a job, I said.
Yes, said Godfrey. I always heard that fellows in the Treasury
got good salaries.
I was greatly relieved when I left Godfrey. I expected that he would
want to take some sort of legal proceedings against Bob Power which
would have involved us all in a great deal of unpleasantness. I should
not have been surprised if he had tried to blackmail Bob or Conroy, or
both, and I should have disliked that very much. But his letter to the
Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be merely foolish. In the first
place Bob Power was not smuggling. In the next place the Chancellor of
the Exchequer would never see Godfrey's letter. It would be opened, I
supposed, by some kind of clerk or secretary. He would giggle over it
and show it to a friend. He would also giggle. Then unless the spelling
was unusually eccentric the letter would go into the waste-paper
basket. Nothing whatever would happen.
I was, I own, entirely wrong. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did
see the letter. I take that for granted, because the Prime Minister saw
it, and I cannot see how it could have got to him except through the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. The spelling may have been as bad as
Godfrey's spelling usually is, but the letter evidently gave a detailed
account of what had happened, the kind of account which impresses
people as being true. The letter was, in fact, the first direct
evidence the Government got about what Conroy and McNeice and Bob were
doing. I dare say there were suspicions abroad before. The offer of a
peerage to Conroy showed that there was good reason to placate him. But
it was Godfrey's absurd letter which first suggested to the minds of
the Cabinet that Conroy was using his yacht, the Finola, for
importing arms into Ulster. Even then I do not think that anybody in
authority suspected how thoroughly Conroy and Bob were doing the work.
They may have thought of a cargo of rifles, and a few thousand
cartridges. The existence of the Ulster artillery was a surprise to
them at the very moment when the guns first opened fire.
So far from having no consequences at all, Godfrey's ridiculous
letter actually precipitated the conflict which took place. I do not
think that it made any difference to the result of the fighting. That
would have been the same whether the fighting came a little sooner or a
little later. But the letter and the action of the Government which
followed it certainly disorganized Conroy's plans and hustled McNeice.
I found McNeice in my study when I got home. I told him, by way of a
joke, about the letter which Godfrey intended to write. To my surprise
he did not treat it as a joke. I suppose he realized at once what the
consequences of such a letter might be.
They ought to have put him past writing letters, he growled, when
they had him.
Then, without even saying good-bye to me, he got up and left the
room. In less than an hour he and Crossan were rushing off somewhere in
their motor car. They may have gone to hold a consultation with Conroy.
He was in Belfast at the time.
I found Bob Power and Marion in the garden, but not, as I expected,
eating gooseberries. They were sitting together on a seat opposite a
small artificial pond in which I try to keep gold fish. When I came
upon them they were sitting up straight, and both of them were gazing
intently into the pond. This surprised me, because all the last
consignment of gold fish had died, and there was nothing in the pond to
I told Bob about Godfrey and the letter to the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. His reception of the news was even more disappointing than
McNeice's was. He neither laughed, as I hoped, nor even scowled. In
fact, if I had not spoken quite distinctly, I should have thought that
he did not hear what I said.
Lord Kilmore, he said, I think I ought to tell you at once
Then he stopped and looked at Marion. She became very red in the
Father, she said, Bob and I
Then she stopped too. I waited for a long time. Neither of them did
more than begin a sentence; but Bob took Marion's hand and held it
tight. I thought it better to try to help them out.
I don't know, I said, whether I've guessed rightly
Of course you have, father, said Marion.
If not, I said, it'll be very embarrassing for all of us when I
tell you what my guess is.
Marion and I said Bob.
Have spent the morning, I said, in finding out that you want to
marry each other?
Of course we have, said Marion.
Of course, said Bob.
The discovery that they both wanted the same thing made them
ridiculously happy. Marion kissed me with effusive ardour, putting her
left arm tight round my neck, but still holding on to Bob with her
right hand. Bob, after our first raptures had subsided a little,
insisted on going down to Godfrey's lodgings, and apologizing for
breaking his ribs. I told him that an apology delivered in that spirit
would merely intensify Godfrey's wish to write to the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. But nothing I said moved Bob in the least. He was so happy
that he wanted to abase himself before some one.
Babberly is in some ways a singularly unlucky man. A place for him,
and that a high one, ought to have been quite secure in the next
Unionist Cabinet. Now he will never hold office under any government,
and yet no one can say that his collapse was in any way his own fault.
On the very day on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer received
Godfrey's letter, Babberly announced his intention of holding another
Unionist demonstration in Belfast. He did not mean any harm by this. He
intended nothing worse than another eloquent speech and expected
nothing more serious than the usual cheers. He regards demonstrations
very much as my nephew Godfrey does garden-parties. They are
troublesome functions, requiring a good deal of labour and care for
their successful accomplishment, but they are necessary. People expect
something of the kind from time to time; andif I do not give
garden-parties, I should not, so Godfrey says, keep up my position in
the county. If Babberly did not, so to speak, give demonstrations he
would lose his position in the political world. Babberly's position is,
of course, vastly more important than mine.
Moyne, goaded on I suppose by Lady Moyne, wrote a letter to the
papersperhaps I should say published a manifestourging the extreme
importance of Babberly's demonstration. This was necessary because
McNeice and O'Donovan, in The Loyalist, had lately adopted a
sneering tone about demonstrations. And The Loyalist was
becoming an effective force in the guidance of Ulster opinion. Thanks
to the exertions of Crossan, Malcolmson and some others the paper was
very widely circulated and wherever it went it was read. Lady Moyne, I
knew, disliked The Loyalist and was uneasy about the tone of its
articles. She felt it necessary to stimulate the popular taste for
demonstrations, and wrote Moyne's manifesto for him. It was a very good
manifesto, full of weighty words about the present crisis and the
necessity of standing shoulder to shoulder against the iniquitous plot
of the Government for the dismemberment of the Empire.
Very much to my surprise, and I am sure to Lady Moyne's, The
Loyalist printed a strong article in support of the proposed
demonstration. Nothing could have been more flattering than its
reference to Babberly and Lord Moyne; nothing better calculated to
insure the success of the performance than the way in which it urged
all Unionists to attend it. Assemble in your Thousands was the phrase
used four times over in the course of the article. There was only one
sentence in it which could cause any one the slightest uneasiness.
Previous demonstrations, so the article concluded, have served
their purpose as expressions of our unalterable convictions. This one
must do something more. It must convince the world that we mean what
That, of course, was nothing more than Babberly had proclaimed a
dozen times in far more eloquent language. Nor was the fact that
McNeice printed the last sentence in italics particularly startling.
Babberly had emphasized the same statement with all the violence
possible. But, so tense was the public mind at this time, everybody was
vaguely anxious and excited. We felt that McNeice attached more meaning
to the words than Babberly did.
A member of the Cabinet happened to be speaking two days later at a
large public meeting in Croydon. He was supposed to be explaining the
advantages of the new Insurance Act to the mistresses and servants of
the smaller middle-class households. There were, I believe, very few
people with sufficient faith in his power of apology to go to hear him;
but, of course, there were plenty of newspaper reporters. The Cabinet
Minister addressed them, and, ignoring for the time the grievances of
the British house-and-parlourmaid, he announced that the Government was
going to stand no nonsense from Ulster.
The leaders, he said, of the unfortunate dupes who are to
assemble next week in Belfast, must understand once for all that in a
democratically governed country the will of the majority must prevail,
and His Majesty's Government is fully determined to see that it does
prevail, at any cost.
This, again, was nothing more than the usual thing. Only the last
three words conveyed anything in the nature of a threat, and many
papers did not report the last three words. Babberly, I think, was
quite justified in supposing that the Cabinet Minister was saying no
more than, according to the rules of the game, he was bound to say;
that he was, in fact, giving a garden-party of his own to keep up his
position in the county. At all events Babberly replied to the
Government's pronouncement with a defiance of the boldest possible
kind. The Loyalist, in a special number, published in the middle
of the week, patted Babberly on the back, and said that the men of
Ulster would, if necessary, assert their right of public meeting with
rifles in their hands.
This was not going much further than Babberly himself had often gone
in earlier stages of the controversy. It is true that he had always
spoken of arms which is a vague word and might mean nothing worse
than the familiar paving stones. The Loyalist specified the kind
of arms, mentioned rifles, which are very lethal weapons. Still, viewed
from a reasonable standpoint, there was nothing very alarming in the
Two days later Moyne motored over to my house. He seemed greatly
disturbed, so I took him into my study and gave him tea. While we were
drinking it he told me what was the matter with him.
Look here, Kilmore, he said, do you know anything about a rumour
that's flying about?
There are so many, I said.
About the importation of arms into this country.
I had my suspicions, rather more than suspicions, for I had been
thinking over the somewhat remarkable performances of Bob Power and the
Finola. I did not, however, want to say anything definite until I
knew how much information Moyne had. After all Bob Power had now
arranged to be my son-in-law. I do not know what the law does to people
who import arms into a peaceful country; but the penalty is sure to be
severe, and I did not want Marion's wedding-day to be blighted by the
arrest of the bridegroom.
They say, said Moyne, that some of the cargoes have been landed
here under your windows.
I can only assure you, I said, that I have never in my life
imported so much as a pocket pistol.
I had a long letter from Babberly this morning, said Moyne. He
had an interview with the Prime Minister yesterday. It appears that the
Government has some information.
Why doesn't the Government act upon it then?
They are acting. They want me and Babberly to come out and denounce
this kind of thing, to discountenance definitely
That's all well enough, I said, but I don't see why you and
Babberly should be expected to get the Government out of a hole. In
fact it's your business to keep them in any holes they fall into.
Under ordinary circumstances, said Moyne, we shouldn't, of
course, stir hand or foot. We'd let them stew in their own juice. And I
may tell you that's the line Babberly thinks we ought to take. But I
don't know. If there's any truth in these rumours, and there may be,
you know, it seems to me that we are face to face with a very serious
business. Party politics are all right, of course; and I'm just as keen
as any man to turn out this wretched Government. They've done mischief
enough, butwell, if there's any truth in what they say, it isn't
exactly a question of ordinary politics, and I think that every loyal
man ought to stand by
If there's any truth in the rumours I said.
The country's in a queer state, said Moyne. I don't understand
what's going on.
If the people have got rifles, I said, they're not likely to give
them up because you and Babberly tell them to.
Babberly says there's nothing in it, said Moyne, doubtfully, and
her ladyship agrees with him. She thinks it's simply a dodge of the
Government to spike our guns.
It is curious that Moyne cannot help talking about guns, even when
he's afraid that somebody or other may really have one. He might, under
the circumstances, have been expected to use some other metaphor. Cook
our goose, for instance, would have expressed his meaning quite well,
and there would have been no suggestion of gunpowder about the words.
I don't see, I said, how you can very well do anything when both
Lady Moyne and Babberly are against you.
I can'tI can't, of course. And yet, don't you know, Kilmore, I
I quite appreciated Moyne's condition of mind. I myself did not
know. I felt nearly certain that Bob Power had been importing arms in
the Finola. I suspected that Crossan and others had been
distributing them. And yet it seemed impossible to suppose that
ordinary people, the men I lunched with in the club, like Malcolmson,
the men who touched their hats to me on the road, like Rose's
freckly-faced lover, the quiet-looking people whom I saw at railway
stations, that those people actually meant to shoot off bullets out of
guns with the intention of killing other people. Of course, long ago,
this sort of killing was done, but then, long ago, men believed things
which we do not believe now. Perhaps I ought to say which I do not
believe now. Malcolmson may still believe in what he calls civil and
religious liberty. Crossan certainly applies his favourite epithet to
the Papishes. He may conceivably think that they would put him on a
rack if they got the chance. If he believed that he might fight. And
yet the absurdity of the thing prevents serious consideration.
The fact is that our minds are so thoroughly attuned to the
commonplace that we have lost the faculty of imaginative vision of
unusual things. Commonplace menI, for instance, or Babberlycan
imagine a defeat of the Liberal Government or a Unionist victory at the
General Election, because Liberal Governments have been defeated and
Unionist victories have been won within our own memories. We cannot
imagine that Malcolmson and Crossan and our large Dean would march out
and kill people, because we have never known any one who did such
things. Men with prophetic minds can contemplate such possibilities,
because they have the power of launching themselves into the unseen. We
cannot. This is the reason why cataclysms, things like the Flood
recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the French Revolution, always come
upon societies unprepared for them. The prophets foretell them, but the
common man has not the amount of imagination which would make it
possible for him to believe the prophets. They eat and drink, marry,
and are given in marriage, until the day when the thing happens.
Looking back now and considering, in the light of what actually
happened, my own frame of mind while I was talking to Moyne, I can only
suppose that it was my lack of imagination which prevented my realizing
the meaning of what was going on around me.
The next event which I find it necessary to chronicle is Conroy's
visit to Germany. I heard about it from Marion. She got a letter almost
every day from Bob Power, and it was understood that he was to pay us a
short visit at the end of that week. He explained, much to Marion's
disappointment and mine, that this visit must be postponed.
The chief, it was thus he wrote of Conroy, has gone over to
Germany. He's always going over to Germany. I fancy he must have
property there. But it doesn't generally matter to me whether he goes
or not. This timeworse luckhe has taken it into his head to have
the yacht to meet him at Kiel. I have to go at once.
At the moment I attached no importance whatever to Conroy's visit to
Germany. Now I have come to think that he went there on a very serious
business indeed. His immense financial interests not only kept him in
touch with all the money markets of the world. They also gave him a
knowledge of what was being done everywhere by the great manufacturers
and the inventors. Moreover Conroy's immense wealth, when he chose to
use it, enabled him to get things done for him very quietly. He could
secure the delivery of goods which he ordered in unconventional ways,
in unusual places. He could, for instance, by means of lavish
expenditure and personal interviews, arrange to have guns put
unobtrusively into innocent looking tramp steamers and transhipped from
them in lonely places to the hold of the Finola. Whether the
German Government had any idea of what was going on I do not know.
Foreign governments are supposed to be well supplied with information
about the manufacture and destination of munitions of war. The English
Government, I am sure, had not up to the last moment any definite
information. Its suspicions were of the very vaguest kind before the
Chancellor of the Exchequer received Godfrey's letter.
The Belfast demonstrationBabberly's defiance of the Government's
warningwas fixed for the first Monday in September. On the 24th of
August, ten days before the demonstration, The Loyalist became a
daily instead of a weekly paper. Its circulation increased immediately.
It was on sale everywhere in the north of Ireland, and it was delivered
with striking regularity in out of the way places in which it was
almost impossible to get any other daily paper. It continued to press
upon its readers the necessity of attending Babberly's demonstration in
Belfast. It said, several times over, that the demonstration was to be
one of armed men. Parliament was sitting late, debating wearily the
amendments proposed by Unionists to the Home Rule Bill. A Nationalist
member arrived at Westminster one day with a copy of The Loyalist
in his pocket. He called the attention of the Chief Secretary for
Ireland to the language used in one of the leading articles, and asked
what steps were being taken to prevent a breach of the peace in Belfast
on the first Monday in September. Before the Chief Secretary could
answer Babberly burst in with another question.
Is it not a fact, he asked, that the paper in question is edited
by a notorious Nationalist, a physical force man, a declared rebel, one
of the chosen associates of the honourable gentleman opposite?
The Chief Secretary replied that he had no knowledge of the
political opinions of the editor in question further than as they
obtained expression in his paper. He appeared to be a strong Unionist.
Considering that O'Donovan had been in prison three times, and that
papers edited by him had been twice suppressed by the Government, the
Chief Secretary must have meant that he had no official knowledge of
O'Donovan's opinions. The distinction between knowledge and official
knowledge is one of the most valuable things in political life.
Babberly displayed the greatest indignation at this answer to his
Is the fair fame of the men of Ulster, he asked, to be traduced,
is their unswerving loyalty to the Crown and Constitution to be
impeached, on the strength of irresponsible scribblings emanating from
a Dublin slum?
The office of The Loyalist is in a slum. So far Babberly was
well informed. He cannot have known that the scribblings were by the
pen of an eminent fellow of Trinity College, or that the money which
paid for printing and circulation was Conroy's.
The Nationalist member pressed for a reply to his original question.
He said that he desired nothing except that the Government should
perform the elementary duty of preserving law and order.
That particular Nationalist member had, in the days past, been put
into prison with the utmost regularity whenever a government undertook
to perform the elementary duty he now desired to see undertaken. And no
government ever, in old times, undertook such work except when goaded
to desperation by Babberly. The seething of a kid in its mother's milk
is forbidden by the law of Moses, which shows that it must be a
tempting thing to do. That Nationalist member felt the temptation
strongly. He evidently had hopes of sacrificing Babberly on the altar
of the twin gods so long worshipped by the Ulster members,
incarcerating him in the sacred names of law and order. But the Chief
Secretary did not see his way to make Babberly the hero of a state
trial. He replied that the Government was fully alive to the duty of
preserving order in Belfast, and refused to commit himself to any
definite plan for dealing with Babberly.
The newspapers made the most of the incident, and O'Donovan's record
was scrutinized by both parties. A lively discussion ensued as to
whether a Hill-sidersome one discovered that picturesque
description of O'Donovancould become a militant Unionist. The text
from the prophet Jeremiah about the spots on the leopard was quoted
several times with great effect.
McNeice's name was not mentioned, nor was Conroy's. We may suppose
that his connection with the University saved McNeice. Trinity College
has, of late years, displayed such a capacity for vigorous
self-defence, that the boldest politician hesitates to attack it or any
one under its immediate protection. Conroy escaped because no one, not
even an Irish member, cares to ride atilt against a millionaire. We
respect little else in heaven or earth, but we do, all of us, respect
On the Wednesday before the day fixed for the Belfast demonstration,
a meeting of the Ulster Unionist leaders was held in London. Moyne was
at it. Lady Moyne, although the absurd conventions of our political
life prevented her being present in person, was certainly an influence
in the deliberations. She gave a dinner-party the night before in
Moyne's town house. Babberly, of course, was at the dinner, and with
him most of the small group of Ulster Members of Parliament. Three or
four leading members of the Opposition, Englishmen who had spoken on
Ulster platforms and were in full sympathy with the Ulster dislike of
Home Rule, were also present. Cahoon was not. He travelled from Belfast
during the night of the dinner-party and only reached London in time
for the meeting of the Party next day. I do not know whether Cahoon was
invited to the dinner or not. Malcolmson was invited. He told me so
himself, but he did not accept the invitation. He said he had business
in Belfast and he went to London with Cahoon. The Dean was at the
dinner-party. His name appeared in the newspaper lists of guests next
morning. McNeice was not there. Lady Moyne did not like McNeice, and,
although he was a member of the Ulster Defence Committee, he was
never admitted to what might be called the social gatherings of the
The newspapers, in their columns of fashionable intelligence,
printed a full list of the guests at this dinner, and even noted the
dresses worn by some of the chief ladies. It was described as a
brilliant function, and Lady Moyne figured as one of the most
successful of our political hostesses. I have no doubt that she was
successful in impressing her views on Babberly and the others. Whether
she thought it worth while to spend time that night in talking to the
Dean I do not know. Immediately under the account of the dinner-party
there was a short paragraph which stated that Conroy, the well-known
millionaire yachtsman, had returned from a cruise in the Baltic Sea,
and that the Finola was lying off Bangor in Belfast Lough.
In quite a different part of the papers there were comments and
articles on the meeting of the Ulster leaders to be held that
afternoon. The articles in Liberal papers oscillated between entreaties
and threats. One of them, in a paper supposed to be more or less
inspired by the Government, pleased me greatly. It began with a warm
tribute to the loyalty which had always characterized the men of
Ulster. Then it said that troops were being moved to Belfast in order
to overcome a turbulent populace. It went on from that to argue that
troops were entirely unnecessary, because Ulstermen, though pig-headed
almost beyond belief in their opposition to Home Rule, would not
hesitate for a moment when the choice was given them of obeying or
defying the law. They would, of course, obey the law. But, so the
article concluded, if they did not obey the law the resources of
civilization were by no means exhausted.
As no law had, up to that time, been made forbidding the holding of
the Belfast demonstration, this article was perhaps premature in its
attempt to impale Babberly and his friends on the horns of a dilemma.
The Conservative papers assumed an air of calm confidence. One of
them, the editor of which was in close touch with Babberly, said
plainly that dear as the right of free speech was to the Unionist
leaders they would cheerfully postpone the Belfast demonstration rather
than run the smallest risk of causing a riot in the streets. Political
principles, it is said, were sacred things, but the life of the
humblest citizen was far more sacred than any principle, and the world
could confidently rely on Babberly's being guided in his momentous
decision by considerations of the loftiest patriotism.
I have no doubt that Babberly fully intended to do as that paper
said he would do. I feel certain that the informal consultation of the
politicians at Lady Moyne's dinner-party had ended in a decision to
postpone the demonstration. But things had passed beyond the control of
Babberly and Lady Moyne. No newspaper was able to give any report of
the proceedings of the meeting held that afternoon. But Malcolmson,
Cahoon and McNeice were all present, and the Dean, having escaped the
overpowering atmosphere of Moyne House, was able to express his
opinions freely and forcibly. On the other hand Lady Moyne was not
there, and Moyne, when it comes to persuading men, is a very poor
substitute for her. The English Unionists could not be there, so the
weight of their moderation was not felt. The meeting broke up without
reaching any decision at all; and the Belfast demonstration remained on
the list of fixtures for the next week.
Sir Samuel Clithering, originally a manufacturer of hosiery in the
midlands, was at this time acting regularly as an official ambassador
of the Cabinet. The fact that he was a leading Nonconformist was, I
fancy, supposed to commend him in some obscure way to the Ulster party.
He spent the evening after the meeting in flying about in his motor
between the House of Commons where Babberly was proposing amendments to
the Bill, Moyne House where Lady Moyne and her secretary sat over her
typewriter, a military club in St. James' Street where Malcolmson sat
smoking cigars, and a small hotel in the Strand where McNeice and
Cahoon were stopping. The Dean had left London for Belfast immediately
after the meeting. I have no doubt that Sir Samuel Clithering did his
best; but diplomacy applied to men like McNeice and Malcolmson is about
as useful as children's sand dykes are in checking the advance of
It is a source of regret to me that my account of what happened in
London is meagre and disjointed. I was not there myself and events
became so much more exciting afterwards that nobody has any very clear
recollection of the course of these preliminary negotiations.
My own personal narrative begins again two days after the London
meeting, that is to say on the Friday before the Belfast demonstration.
Godfrey came up to see me at eleven o'clock with his arm in a sling.
Excellency, he said, the Dean has just hoisted a large flag on
the tower of the church. I'm sure you don't approve of that.
It is, I hope, unnecessary to say that Godfrey is at feud with the
Dean. The Dean is a straightforward and honourable man. He and Godfrey
live in the same town. A quarrel between them was therefore inevitable.
As a matter of fact I do not approve of the hoisting of flags on the
church tower. In Ireland we only hoist flags with a view to irritating
our enemies, andI am not an expert in Christian theology but it seems
to me that church towers are not the most suitable places for flaunting
defiances. The Dean and I argued the matter out years ago and arrived
at a working compromise. I agreed to make no protest against flags on
the 12th of July. The Dean promised not to hoist them on any other day.
This is fairly satisfactory to the Dean because he can exult over his
foes on the day of the year on which it is most of all desirable to do
so. It is fairly satisfactory to me because on three hundred and
sixty-four days out of every year the church remains, in outward
appearance at least, a house of prayer, and I am not vexed by having to
regard it as a den of politicians. That is as much as can be expected
of any compromise, and I was always quite loyal to my share of the
bargain. The Dean, it now appeared, was not; and Godfrey saw his chance
of stirring up strife.
I don't think, I said, the Dean can have anything to do with the
flag. He is in London.
He came back yesterday, said Godfrey, and the flag he has hoisted
is a large Union Jack.
Now the Union Jack is of all flags the most provocative. Any other
flag under the sun, even the Royal Standard, might be hoisted without
giving any very grave offence to any one. But the Union Jack arouses
the worst feelings of everybody. Some little time ago a fool flew a
Union Jack out of the window of a Dublin house underneath which the
Irish leader happened at the moment to be proclaiming his loyalty to
the Empire and his ungovernable love for the English people. The fool
who hoisted the flag was afterwards very properly denounced for having
gone about to insult the Irish nation. The Dean might, I think, have
set floating a banner with three Orange lilies emblazoned upon it like
the fleur-de-lys of ancient France. No one's feelings would have been
much hurt and no one's enthusiasm unusually stirred. But it is
characteristic of the Dean that when he does a thing at all he does it
Just come and look at it, said Godfrey. It's enormous.
We went into the library, from the windows of which a clear view can
be obtained of the town and the church which stands above it. There
certainly was a flag flying from the church tower. I took a pair of
field-glasses and satisfied myself that it was the Union Jack.
Would you like me to speak to the Dean about it? said Godfrey.
Certainly not, I said. Any interference on your part would
merelyand these are rather exciting times. The Dean is entitled, I
think, to a little license. I don't suppose he means to keep it there
Then, borne to us by a gentle breeze across the bay, came the sound
of the church bells. We have a fine peal of bells in our church,
presented to the parish by my father. They are seldom properly rung,
but when they areon Christmas Day, at Easter and on the 12th of
Julythe effect is very good.
Surely, I said, the Dean can't be having a Harvest Thanksgiving
Service yet? It's not nearly time.
Then I noticed that instead of one of the regular chimes the bells
were playing a hymn tune. It was, as I might have guessed, the tune to
which O God, our help in ages past is sung in Ireland. The hymn,
since Babberly's first demonstration in Belfast, had become a kind of
battle song. It is, I think, characteristic of the Irish Protestants
that they should have a tune of their own for this hymn. Elsewhere, in
England, in Scotland, in the United States and the Colonies this
metrical version of the 90th Psalm is sung to a fine simple tune called
St. Ann. But we are not and never have been as other men are. Without a
quiver of our nerves we run atilt at the most universally accepted
traditions. The very fact that every one else who uses the hymn sings
it to the tune called St. Ann would incline us to find some other tune
if such a thing were obtainable. We found one which musicians,
recognizing that we had some right to claim it as ours, called Irish
or Dublin. This tune emerged suddenly from nowhere in response to no
particular demand in the middle of the eighteenth century. It is
anonymous, but it was at once wedded to the words of that particular
hymn, and we have used it ever since. It is difficult to give an
opinion on the comparative merits of two hymn tunes, and I hesitate to
say that ours is a finer one than that used by the rest of the
English-speaking world. I am, however, certain that there is in our
tune an unmistakable suggestion of majestic confidence in an eternal
righteousness, and that it very well expresses the feeling with which
we sing the hymn at political demonstrations and elsewhere. It came to
me that day across the waters of the bay, hammered slowly out by the
swinging bells, with a tremendous sense of energy. The English St. Ann
seemed lilty and almost flippant in comparison.
I raised my glasses again and took another look at the Union Jack,
blown out from its flag-post and displaying plainly its tangled
crosses. Then I noticed that men were entering the churchyard singly,
in pairs and in little groups of three and four.
The Dean, I said, must have some sort of service in church
to-day. If it isn't the Harvest Thanksgiving it must be an anniversary
of something. What happened at this time of year, Godfrey? I can't
I still stared through my glasses. I was struck by the unusual fact
that only men were going into the church. Then, quite suddenly, I saw
that every man was carrying a gun. I laid down my glasses and turned to
I wish, I said, that you'd go down to the townnot to the
church, mind, Godfrey, but into the town, and ask somebodyask the
police sergeant at the barrack what is going on in the church.
Godfrey is always at his very best when he has to find out
something. He would have made almost an ideal spy. If any one is ever
wanted by the nation for the more disagreeable part of secret service
work I can confidently recommend Godfrey.
Half an hour later he returned to me hot and breathless.
The police sergeant told me, Excellency, that the Dean's going to
march all the Orangemen and a lot of other men along with them to
Belfast for the Unionist demonstration. They are having service in the
church first and they've all got rifles.
I have all my life steadily objected to politics being mixed with
religion. I hold most strongly that the Church ought not to be
dominated by politicians. The Church is degraded and religion is
brought into contempt when they are used by party leaders. Butthe
bells had ceased ringing. The hymn was now, no doubt, being sung by the
men within. It occurred to me suddenly that on this occasion it was not
the politicians who were taking possession of religion, but religion
which was asserting its right to dominate politics. This is plainly
quite a different matter. I can even imagine that politics might be
improved if religion asserted itself a little more frequently than it
does. I still maintain that it is only right and fair to keep politics
out of the Church. I am not at all sure that it is right to keep the
Church out of politics.
I told the sergeant, said Godfrey, that he had better go and stop
them at once.
Oh, did you? I said. Do you know, Godfrey, that's just the kind
of suggestion I'd expect you to make under the circumstances.
Thanks awfully, Excellency, said Godfrey. I'm awfully glad you're
There are besides the sergeant three constables in our police
barrack. They are armed as a rule with short round sticks. On very
important occasions they carry an inferior kind of firearm called a
carbine. There were, I guessed about three hundred men in the church,
and they were armed with modern rifles. Godfrey's faith in the inherent
majesty of the law was extremely touching.
Did he go? I asked.
I don't think he intends to, said Godfrey, but he did not give me
a decided answer.
Our police sergeant is a man of sense.
Did you say, I asked, that they're going to march to Belfast?
That's what the sergeant told me, said Godfrey.
Actually walk the whole way?
Belfast is a good many miles away from us. It would, I suppose, take
a quick walker the better part of two days to accomplish the journey.
He said 'march,' said Godfrey. I suppose he meant to walk.
This is, as we are constantly reminded, the twentieth century. I
should have supposed that any one who wanted to get from this place to
Belfast would have gone in a train. Our nearest railway station is some
way off, but one might walk to it in an hour and a half. Once there,
the journey to Belfast can be accomplished in another two hours. It
seems rather absurd to spend two days over it, but then the whole thing
is rather absurd. The rifles are absurd. The gathering of three hundred
men into a church to indulge in a kind of grace before meat as
preparation for a speech from Babberly is rather absurd. To set a peal
of bells playingbut I am not quite sure about the hymn tune. It did
not sound to me absurd as it came across the bay. I am, I trust, a
reasonable man, not peculiarly liable to be swept off my feet by waves
of emotion; but there was something in the sound of that hymn tune
which prevented me from counting it, along with our other performances,
as an absurdity.
The Dean and his men did actually march to Belfast. I saw them there
two days later. I also saw them start, ranged in very fair order with
the Dean at their head. The most surprising thing about their march was
that they had no band. There are at least two bands in the town. I
subscribe to both of them regularly and have occasionally given a
donation to a third which enjoys an intermittent existence, springing
into sudden activity for a week or two and then disappearing for
months. I asked the police sergeant, who is a South of Ireland man and
very acute of mind, why none of the bands accompanied the army. The
explanation he gave me was interesting and suggestive.
There isn't as much as a boy in the district, he said, who'd
content himself with a drum when he might have the handling of a
And yet an excessive fondness for drums has been reckonedby
English politiciansone of the failings of the Ulster man.
I went to Belfast next morning quite unexpectedly. No peal of bells
heartened me for my start, partly because all the bell-ringers and
nearly all the able-bodied members of the church in the parish had
marched forth with the Dean. Partly also, I suppose, because I did not
travel in a heroic way. I am much too old to undertake a two-days'
walking tour, so I went by train. Godfrey saw me off. I owed this
attention, I am sure, to the fact that Marion was with me. She told
Godfrey that she was going to marry Bob Power, but Godfrey did not on
that account cease to regard her as his property. He had hopes, I
fancy, that Bob Power would be killed in some fight with a Custom House
officer. Marion, on the other hand, was vaguely afraid that either Bob
or I would get injured while rioting in Belfast. That was her reason
for going with me.
I went because I received on Friday evening a very urgent letter
from Lady Moyne. She and Lord Moyne had just arrived in Belfast, and
her letter was sent to me by a special messenger on a motor bicycle.
She wished me to attend an extraordinary meeting of the Ulster Defence
Committee which, in defiance of our strong sabbatarian feeling, was to
be held on Sunday afternoon.
We elected you a member of the committee at a meeting held
yesterday in London, she wrote, so you have a perfect right to be
present and to vote.
That meeting must have been held after McNeice, Malcolmson and
Cahoon returned to Ireland. They regard me as a Laodicean in the matter
of Home Rule, and would never have consented to my sitting on a
committee which controlled, or at all events was supposed to control,
the actions of the Ulster leaders.
It's most important, dear Lord Kilmore, the letter went on, that
you should be present on Sunday. Your well-known moderation will have a
most steadying influence, and if it should come to a matter of voting,
your vote may be absolutely necessary.
After getting a letter of that kind I could not well refuse to go to
Belfast. Even without the letter I should, I think, have gone. I was
naturally anxious to see what was going to happen.
I spent my time in the train reading several different accounts of
an important Nationalist meeting held the day before in a village in
County Clare, the name of which I have unfortunately forgotten. Three
of the chief Nationalist orators were there, men quite equal to
Babberly in their mastery of the art of public speaking. I read all
their speeches; but that was not really necessary. None of them said
anything which the other two did not say, and none of them left out
anything which the other two had said.
They all began by declaring that under Home Rule all Irishmen should
receive equal consideration and be treated with equal respect. They all
looked forward to the day when they would be walking about the premises
at present occupied by the Bank of Ireland in Dublin with their arms
round Babberly's neck. The dearest wish of their heartsso they all
said, and the people of County Clare cheered heartilywas to unite
with Lord Moyne, Babberly, Malcolmson and even the Dean in the work of
regenerating holy Ireland. Any little differences of religious creed
which might exist would be entirely forgotten as soon as the Home Rule
Bill was safely passed. They then went on to say that the Belfast
people, and the people of County Antrim and County Down generally, were
enthusiastically in favour of Home Rule. The fact that they elected
Unionist members of Parliament and held Unionist demonstrations was
accounted for by the existence of a handful of rack-renting landlords,
a few sweating capitalists and some clergymen whose churches were empty
because the people were tired of hearing them curse the Pope.
Poor Moyne has sold every acre of his property and the Dean's only
difficulty with the majority of his large congregation is that he does
not curse the Pope often enough to please them. Cahoon, I am told, only
sweats in the old-fashioned intransitive sense of the word. He is
frequently bathed in perspiration himself. I never heard of his
insisting on his workmen getting any hotter than was natural and
necessary. But these criticisms are beside the mark. No one supposes
that a political orator means to tell the truth when he is making a
speech. Politics could not be carried on if he did. What the public
expects and generally insists on is that the inevitable lies should
have their loins girt about with a specious appearance of truthfulness.
Every speaker must offer distinct and convincing proofs that his
statements are strictly accurate reflections of fact. The best and
simplest way of doing this is by means of bold challenge. The speaker
offers to deposit a large sum of money with the local mayor to be paid
over to a deserving charity, if any opponent of the speaker can, to the
satisfaction of twelve honourable men, generally named, disprove some
quite irrelevant truism, or can prove to the satisfaction of the same
twelve men the falsity of some universally accepted platitude. This
method is very popular with orators, and invariably carries conviction
to their audiences.
The Nationalist members in County Clare broke away into a variant of
the familiar plan. They challenged the Government.
Let the Government, they said, all three of them, proclaim the
meeting to be held in Belfast on Monday next, and allow the public to
watch with contempt the deflation of the wind-distended bladder of
Ulster opposition to Home Rule. We venture to say that the little group
of selfish wire-pullers at whose bidding the meeting has been summoned,
will sneak away before the batons of half a dozen policemen, and their
followers will be found to be non-existent.
The Government, apparently, believed the Nationalist orators, or
half believed them. Sir Samuel Clithering was sent over to Belfast, to
report, confidentially, on the temper of the people. He must have sent
off his despatch before the Dean's army marched in, before any of the
armies then converging on the city arrived, before the Belfast people
had got out their rifles. The Government in the most solemn and
impressive manner, proclaimed the meeting. That was the news with which
we were greeted when our train drew up at the platform in Belfast.
The proclamation of meeting is one of the regular resources of
governments when Irish affairs get into a particularly annoying tangle.
There have been during my time hundreds of meetings proclaimed in
different parts of the country. The Lord Lieutenant and the Chief
Secretary never get any thanks for their action. The people who want to
hold the meeting always accuse the Government of violating the right of
free speech and substituting a military tyranny for the Magna Charta.
The other people who do not want the meeting to be held always say that
the Government ought to have proclaimed it much sooner than it did, and
ought to have imprisoned, perhaps beheaded, the men who intended to
speak at the meeting.
Bob Power met us on the platform, which was horribly crowded, and
immediately conducted Marion to a motor car which he had in waiting
outside the station. Then he came back to me and we went together in
search of Marion's luggage. It was while we were pushing our way
through the crowd that he told me the great news. I said that the
failure of the demonstration would be a disappointment to the Dean and
his riflemen who would have to walk all the way home again without
hearing Babberly's speech.
I'm not so sure about that, said Bob. We may have the meeting in
spite of their teeth.
You can't possibly, I said, hold a meeting whendear me! Who are
There was a crowd round the luggage van where we were trying to
discover Marion's trunk. An unmannerly porter shoved me back, and I
bumped into a man who had something hard and knobby in his hand. I
looked round. He was a soldier in the regular khaki uniform with a
rifle in his hand. The bayonet was fixed. I felt deeply thankful that
it was pointing upwards and not in a horizontal direction when the
porter charged me. It might quite easily have gone through my back.
This man appeared to be a kind of outpost sentry. Behind him, all
similarly armed, were twenty or thirty more men drawn up with their
backs to the wall of the station. A youth, who looked bored and
disgusted, was in command of them and stood at the end of the line. His
sword struck me as being far too big for him.
Who on earth are those? I said.
Those, said Bob, are the troops who are overawing us. Some of
them. There are lots more. You'll see them at every street corner as we
go along. By jove! I believe that's Nosey Henderson in command of this
detachment. Excuse me one moment, Lord Kilmore. Henderson was with me
at Harrow. I'll just shake hands with him.
He turned to the young officer as he spoke.
Hullo Nosey, he said, I didn't know you were in these parts.
Ordered up from the Curragh, said Henderson. Damned nuisance this
sort of police duty. We oughtn't to be asked to do it.
Your particular job, said Bob, is to overawe the railway porters,
Been here since nine o'clock this morning, said Henderson, and
haven't had a blessed thing to eat except two water biscuits. What's
the row all about? That's what I can't make out.
Oh! It's quite simple, said Bob. Our side wants to hold a
You are on a side then, are you?
Of course I am, said Bob. I'm in command of a company of
volunteers. We don't run to khaki uniforms and brass buttons, but we've
got guns all right.
I say, said Henderson, tell me this now. Any chance of a scrap?
Real fighting, you know? I've been asking all sorts of fellows, and
nobody seems to be able to say for certain.
We shan't begin it, said Bob; but, of course, if you get prodding
at us with those spikes you have at the end of your guns
There are a lot of fellows in this town that would be all the
better of being prodded. Every porter that walks along the platform
spits when he passes us in a damned offensive way. You would think they
were looking for trouble.
The crowd round the luggage van cleared away a little and we found
Marion's trunk. Bob handed it over to a porter and we joined Marion in
the motor car.
The scene outside the station was striking. A considerable body of
dragoons, some mounted, some on foot beside their horses, were grouped
together near the great gate which led into the railway company's yard.
Their accoutrements and the bridles of their horses jangled at every
movement in a way very suggestive of military ardour. The trappings of
horse soldiers are evidently made as noisy as possible. Perhaps with
the idea of keeping up the spirits of the men. Some Highlanders,
complete in their kilts, stood opposite the dragoons at the other end
of the yard. A sergeant was shouting explosive monosyllables at them in
order to make them turn to the left or to the right as he thought
desirable. Behind them were some other soldiers, Englishmen I presume,
who wore ordinary trousers. They were sitting on a flight of stone
steps eating chunks of dry bread. Their rifles were neatly stacked
behind them. Round the motor car were about thirty men whom I hesitate
to call civilians, because they had rifles in their hands; but who were
certainly not real soldiers, for they had no uniforms. They looked to
me like young farmers.
My fellows, said Bob, pointing to these men. Pretty tidy looking
lot, aren't they? I brought them along as a sort of guard of honour for
Marion. They're not really the least necessary; but I thought you and
she might be pleased to see them.
Here and there, scattered among the military and Bob's irregular
troops, were black uniformed policemen, rosy-faced young men, fresh
from a healthy life among the cattle ranches of Roscommon, drafted to
their own immense bewilderment into this strange city of Belfast, where
no one regarded them with any reverence, or treated them with the
smallest respect. The motor car started, creeping at a walking pace
through the mingled crowd of armed men who thronged the entrance to the
station. Our guard of honour, some of them smoking, some stopping for a
moment to exchange greetings with acquaintance, kept up with us pretty
well. Then, as we got clear of the station and went faster, we left our
guard behind. One man indeed, with a singular devotion to duty, poked
his rifle into the car and then ran alongside of us with his hand on
the mudguard. He carried Marion's trunk into the hotel when we got
Our drive was an exciting one. At every street corner there were
parties of soldiers. Along every street stalwart policemen strolled in
pairs. There were certainly hundreds of armed irregulars. For the most
part these men seemed to be under no control; but occasionally we met a
party marching in something like military formation, led by an officer,
grave with responsibility. One company, I remember, got in our way and
for a long time could not get out of it. Their officer had been
drilling them carefully and they were all most anxious to obey his
orders. The difficulty was that he could not recollect at the moment
what orders he ought to give to get them out of our way. He halted them
to begin with. Then in firm tones, he commanded a half-right turn and a
quick march. We had to back our car to avoid collision with the middle
part of the column. Their officer halted them again. We offered to go
back and take another route to our hotel; but the officer would not
hear of this. He told his men to stand at ease while he consulted a
handbook on military evolutions. In the end he gave the problem up.
Get out of the way, will you, he said, and form up again when the
car is past.
This was unconventional, but quite effective. The menand it is to
their credit that not one of them smiledbroke their formation,
scattered to right and left and reformed after we had passed. This took
place in a narrow side street in which there was very little traffic. I
recognized the wisdom of the officer in choosing such a place for his
In the main streets the business of the town seemed to be going on
very much as usual. It was Saturday afternoon. Shops and offices were
closing. Young men and girls passed out of them and thronged the trams
which were leaving the centre of the city. They took very little notice
of the soldiers or the police. In the poorer streets women with baskets
on their arms were doing their weekly shopping at the stalls of small
butchers and greengrocers. Groups of factory girls marched along with
linked arms, enjoying their outing, unaffected apparently by the
unusual condition of their streets. The newspaper boys did a roaring
trade, shrieking promises of sensational news to be found in the pages
of the Telegraph and Echo.
Marion became intensely excited.
Doesn't it look just as if the town had been captured by an enemy,
she said, after a long siege?
It hasn't been captured yet, said Bob.
I have often tried to understand how it was that Bob Power came to
take the active part he did in the fighting which followed, and how he
came to be in command of a body of volunteers. He had not, so far as I
know, any actual hatred of the idea of Home Rule. He was too
light-hearted to be in full sympathy with fanatical Puritans like
Crossan and McNeice. He certainly had no hatred of the British Empire
or the English army. He was, up to the last moment, on friendly terms
with those of the army officers whom he happened to know. He chatted
with them and with detached inspectors of police in the same friendly
way as he did with Henderson at the railway station.
I can only suppose that he regarded the whole businessto begin
with at all eventsas a large adventure of a novel and delightful
kind. He went into it very much as many volunteers went into the Boer
War, without any very strong convictions about the righteousness of the
cause in which he fought, certainly without any realization of the
horror of actual bloodshed.
There are men of this temperament, fortunately a good many of them.
If they did not exist in large numbers the world's fighting would be
very badly done. The mere mercenaryuninspired by the passion for
adventurewill at the best do as little fighting as possible, and do
it with the smallest amount of ardour. Fanatics cannot be had to order.
Some kind of ideain most cases a religious ideais necessary to turn
the ordinary church-going business man or farmer into an efficient
fighting unit. The kind of patriotism which is prepared to make
sacrifices, to endure bodily pain and risk death, is very rare. It is
on the men who enjoy risk, who love struggle, who face death with a
laugh, the men of Bob Power's reckless temperament, that the world must
rely when it wants fighting done. Hitherto men of this kind have been
plentiful. Whether our advancing civilization is going to destroy the
breed is a question which, I am pleased to say, need not be answered by
my generation. There are enough Bob Powers alive to last my time.
I fully intended to go to church on Sunday morning. I was, in fact,
waiting for Marion at the door of the hotel, when Sir Samuel Clithering
came to see me.
I shall be so much obliged, he said, if you will spare me a few
I did not want to spare any minutes to Sir Samuel Clithering. In the
first place I had promised to take Marion to the cathedral. A Parade
ServiceI quote the official title of the functionwas to be held
for the benefit of the volunteers and Marion naturally wanted to see
Bob Power at the head of his men. I wanted to hear the men singing that
hymn again, and I wanted to hear what sort of sermon the Deanour
Dean, not the Dean of the cathedralwould preach on such an occasion.
He was advertised to preach, as Chaplain General of the Loyalists.
These were three good reasons for not giving Sir Samuel Clithering the
few minutes he demanded. I had, also, a fourth. I had held, as I have
related, previous communications with Clithering. I suspected him of
having more peerages in his pocket for distribution, and I did not want
to undertake any further negotiations like that with Conroy. He might
evenand I particularly disliked the ideabe empowered to offer our
Dean an English bishopric.
I kept this last reason to myself, but I stated the other three
fully to Sir Samuel. He seemed dissatisfied.
Everybody's going to church, he complained. I can't get Lord
Moyne. I can't get Babberly. I can't get Malcolmson, and it's really
most important that I should see some one. Going to church is all very
As a leading Nonconformist, I said.
Free Churchman, said Sir Samuel.
I beg your pardon, Free Churchman. You ought not to object to
people going to church. I've always understood that the Free Churchmen
are honourably distinguished from other Christians by their respect for
the practice of Sunday worship.
Of course, I don't object to people going to church. I should be
there myself if it were not that
He hesitated. I thought he might be searching for an appropriate
text of Scripture so I helped him.
Your ass, I said, has fallen into a pit, and you want
This was evidently not exactly the text he wanted. He seemed
astonished when I quoted it.
Ass! he said. What ass?
The Government, I said. It is in rather a hole, isn't it?
Capital, said Clithering, laughing without the smallest appearance
of mirth, capital! I didn't catch the point for a moment, but I do
now. My ass has fallen into a pit. You put the matter in a nutshell,
Lord Kilmore. I don't mind confessing that a pit of rather an
inconvenient size does lie in front of us. I feel sure that you, as a
humane man, won't refuse your help in the charitable work of helping to
get us out.
Marion came downstairs in her best hat. It was not for nothing that
Bob Power and I and the running volunteer had struggled with her trunk.
Her frock, also, was charming.
Your daughter, said Clithering. Now my dear young lady, you must
spare your father to me for an hour. Affairs of state. Affairs of
state. But you'll allow me to send you to church in my car. My private
secretary is in it, and I shall tell him to see you safely to church,
to secure a seat for you
The Dean has reserved seats for us, I said.
Capital, capital. We can regard that as settled then. My private
secretaryan excellent young fellow whom I picked up at Toynbee
Halla student of our social problemsa man whom I'm sure you'll
He conducted Marion to the door and handed her over to the private
secretary from Toynbee Hall. I resigned myself and led Clithering to a
I never saw so much church-going anywhere, he said. It's most
remarkable. I don't think the Government quite appreciates
As a matter of fact the percentage of church-going men on that
particular Sunday was considerably over the average. On the other hand
there were much fewer women than usual. Every church of every
Protestant denomination was holding a Parade Service for volunteers,
and most of the women who tried to get in had to be turned away from
the doors. I thought it well to rub the facts in a little.
Rack-renting landlords, I said. Sweating capitalists, and
clergymen whose churches are empty because their congregations are
tired of hearing them curse the Pope!
Eh? said Clithering, what's that? what's that?
Only a quotation, I said. I forget if it was a Cabinet
Not at all, said Clithering. I recollect the words now. It was
one of the Irish Members. No Cabinet Minister would dream of saying
such things. We have a high sense of the importance of the Ulster
problem. Nothing, I assure you, is further from our minds than the
desire to minimize or treat with undue flippancy the conscientious
objections, even the somewhat unreasonable fears of men whom we
Clithering paused. I had not anything particular to say, so I waited
for him to begin again.
I understand, he said, that a meeting of the Unionist Defence
Committee is to be held this afternoon.
Yes, I said. I'm going to it. I'm not really a member of the
committee, at least I wasn't until yesterday; but
I quite understand, quite understand. In factspeaking now in the
strictest confidenceI may say that the suggestion to add your name to
the committee was madewell it was made to Lady Moyne by a very
important person. It was generally recognized that a man of your
I was beginning to dislike being called a man of moderation nearly
as much as I disliked being called a Liberal.
What do you want me to do? I asked.
The situationthe very difficult and distressing situation is
this, said Clithering, stated roughly it is this. The Government has
proclaimed to-morrow's meeting.
That, I said, is the pit into whichI don't want to be
offensiveI'll say, your ox has fallen.
And the town is full of troops and police. Any attempt to hold the
meeting can only result in bloodshed, deplorable bloodshed, the lives
of men and women, innocent women sacrificed.
The strength of Babberly's position, I said, is that he doesn't
think bloodshed deplorable.
But he does. He told me so in London. He repeated the same thing
I don't mean Babberly personally, I said, I mean his party;
Malcolmson, you know, and our Dean. If you'd only gone to hear the Dean
preach this morning you'd know what he thinks about blood. I've often
heard him say that the last drop of itmind that now, Sir Samuelthe
last drop ought to be shed. That's going as far as any one very well
could, isn't it?
But he must, said Clithering, he must think bloodshed
No, he doesn't, I said. You mustn't think everybody is like your
Government. It's humanitarian. We're not. We're business men.
Clithering caught at the last phrase. It appealed to him. He did not
know the meaning attached to it by Cahoon.
That's just it, he said. We want to appeal to you as business
men. We want to suggest a reasonable compromise.
I'm afraid, I said, that you've come to the wrong place. I'm not
the least averse to compromises myself, in fact I love them. But the
Belfast business manYou don't quite understand him, I'm afraid, Sir
Samuel. Have you heard him singing his hymn?
No. What hymn? But leaving the question of hymns aside for the
You can't do that, I said, the hymn is the central fact in the
Clithering thought this over and evidently failed to understand it.
What I am empowered to suggest, he said, is a compromise so very
favourable to the Ulster claims that I can hardly imagine your
rejecting it. The Government will allow the meeting to be held this day
week if your committee will agree to the postponement.
If, I said, you will also withdraw your Home Rule Bill
But we can't, said Clithering. We can't do that. We'll insert any
reasonable safeguards. We'll concede anything that Ulster likes to ask,
but we're pledged, absolutely pledged, to the Bill.
Well, I said, as far as pledges are concerned, we're pledged
What we deprecate, said Sir Samuel, is violence of any kind.
Constitutional agitation, even if carried on with great bitterness is
one thing. Violencebut I'm sure, Lord Kilmore, that we can rely on
you to use your influence at the meeting this afternoon to secure the
acceptance of the terms we offer. I'm sure we can count on you. You
can't want bloodshed.
I did not want bloodshed, of course. I do not suppose that anybody
did. What Clithering could not understand was that some peoplewithout
wanting bloodshedmight prefer it to Home Rule. He left me, still I
fancy relying on my well-known moderation. No man ever relied on a more
utterly useless crutch. Moderation has never been of the slightest use
anywhere in Ireland and was certainly a vain thing in Belfast that day.
I walked round to the club and found nobody in it except Conroy. He
alone, among the leading supporters of the Loyalist movement, had
failed to go to church. I thought I might try how he would regard the
policy of moderation.
I suppose, I said, that you'll have to give up this meeting
I don't think so, said Conroy.
I've just been talking to Sir Samuel Clithering, I said, and he
thinks there'll be bloodshed if you don't.
I reckon he's right there. We're kind of out for that, aren't we?
It won't be so pleasant, I said, when it's your blood that's
shed. I don't mean yours personally, I mean your friends.
The other side will do some of the bleeding, said Conroy.
Still, I said, in the end they'll win.
I wouldn't bet too heavy on that, said Conroy.
You don't mean to say that you think that a handful of north of
Ireland farmers and mechanics can stand up against the British Empire?
It's fixed in my mind, said Conroy, that the British lion will
get his tail twisted a bit before he's through with this business. I
don't say that he won't make good in the end. Nobody but God Almighty
can tell this minute whether he will or not; but he'll be considerable
less frisky when he's finished than he is to-day.
But, I said, even supposing you clear the streets of the soldiers
and police to-morrowI do not see how you can; but if you do the
Government will simply anchor a battleship off Carrickfergus and shell
the whole town into a heap of ruins.
I'm calculating on their trying that, said Conroy.
That was all I could get out of Conroy. I left him, feeling uneasily
that his vote would certainly go against Clithering's compromise. His
confidence in the fighting powers of the raw men whom Bob and others
had taken to church with them struck me as absurd. His cool assumption
of power to deal with the British fleet was arrogance run mad.
On my way back to my hotel I ran into a congregation which had just
got out of some church or other. In the first rankthey were marching
in very fair orderwas Crossan. He saluted me and stopped.
I'm thinking, he said, that you won't have seen them.
He pointed to a small group of men who were bringing up the rear of
the congregation's march. They were dragging a heavy object along with
two large ropes. I recognized the leader of them at once. He was
Cahoon's foreman friend, McConkey. I was pleased to find that he
I have her safe, he said. Would you like to take a look at her?
I did. She was a machine gun of a kind quite unknown to me; but her
appearance was very murderous. McConkey led me up to her. He stroked
her black side lovingly and patted her in various places.
I was trying her yesterday, he said, down on the slob land under
the Shore Road. Man o' man, but she shoots bonny!
I had no doubt of it. She was likely to be accountable for a good
deal of bloodshed if there was any street fighting next day. The record
of her bag would, I should think, haunt Sir Samuel Clithering for the
rest of his life.
I've a matter of five thousand cartridges, said McConkey in a
hoarse whisper, and there's another five thousand ordered.
The committee met at three o'clock in the afternoon. Sir Samuel
Clithering was not, of course, a member of it; but he lurked about
outside and waylaid us as we went in. He was in a condition of pitiful
bewilderment. Alice whose adventures in Wonderland have been very dear
to me since I first read them aloud to Marion, was once placed in a
difficult and awkward position by the kings, queens and knaves of the
pack of cards with which she was playing coming to life. This was
sufficiently embarrassing. But Clithering was much worse off than
Alice. In her story all the cards came to life, and though the
unexpectedness of their behaviour made things difficult for her there
was a certain consistency about the whole business. A card player might
in time adjust himself to a game played with cards which possessed
wills of their own. But poor Clithering had to play with a pack in
which one suit only, and it not even the trump suit, suddenly insisted
that the game was a reality. The other three suits, the Liberals, the
Conservatives, and the Irish Nationalists still behaved in the normal
way, falling pleasantly on top of each other, and winning or losing
tricks as the rules of the game demanded. The Ulster party
aloneClubs, we may call themwould not play fairly. They jumped out
of the player's hand and obstinately declared that the green cloth was
a real battlefield. The higher court cards of the suitLady Moyne for
instance, and BabberlyClithering felt himself able to control. It was
the knavesI am sure he looked on McNeice as a knavethe tens, the
sevens and the humble twos which behaved outrageously.
And Clithering was not the only player who was perplexed. I had been
to luncheon with the Moynes. Babberly was there of course. So was
Malcolmson. Clithering sat next but one to Lady Moyne. Malcolmson was
between them. It was a curious alliance. The emissary of the
Government, which had passed measures which all good aristocrats
disliked intensely, joined hands for the moment with the lady whose
skill as a political hostess had frequently been troublesome to
Clithering's friends. I do not suppose that such an alliance could
possibly last long. Those whom misfortune, according to the old
proverb, forces into bed together, always struggle out again at
opposite sides when the clouds cease to be threatening. But while it
lasted the alliance was firm enough. They were both bent on pressing
the advantages of moderation on Malcolmson. They produced very little
effect. Malcolmson is impervious to reason. He kept falling back, in
replying to their arguments, on his original objection to Home Rule.
I shall never consent, he said, to be governed by a pack of
blackguards in Dublin.
It was really a very good answer, for every time he made it he drove
a wedge into the coalition against him. Lady Moyne was bound to admit
that all Irishmen outside Ulster are blackguards, and that the
atmosphere of Dublin is poisonous. Clithering, on the other hand, was
officially committed to an unqualified admiration for everything south
of the Boyne. I do not think that Malcolmson appreciated his dialectic
advantage. His mind was running on big guns rather than arguments.
Lady Moyne squeezed my hand as we parted after luncheon, and I think
I am not exaggerating in saying that there were tears in her eyes. She
succeeded at all events in giving me the impression that her future
happiness depended very largely on me. I determined, as I had
determined several times before, to be true to the most charming lady
of my acquaintance.
Moyne took the chair at our meeting. Next him sat Babberly. Cahoon,
McNeice and Malcolmson sat together at the bottom of the table. I was
given a chair on Moyne's other side. Conroy would not sit at the table
at all. He had two chairs in a corner of the room. He sat on one of
them and put his legs on the other. He also smoked a cigar, which I
think everybody regarded as bad form. But nobody liked to protest,
because nobody, except me and McNeice, knew which side Conroy was going
to take in the controversy before us. Babberly, I feel sure, would have
objected to the cigar if he had thought that Conroy favoured extreme
defiance of the Government. Malcolmson, like many military men, is a
great stickler for etiquette. He would have snubbed the cigar if he
thought Conroy was inclined to moderation. As things were, we all
warmly invited Conroy to desert his private encampment and join us
round the table.
I guess I'm here as an onlooker, said Conroy. You gentlemen can
settle things nicely without me, till it comes to writing cheques. Then
I chip in.
Moyne murmured a compliment about Conroy's extreme generosity in the
past, and Babberly said that further calls on our purses were, for the
present, unnecessary. Then we all forgot about Conroy. The Dean sat
half way down the table on my side. There was also present a Member of
Parliament, a man who had sat by Babberly's side in the House of
Commons all through the dreary months of June, July and August,
supporting consistently every move he made towards wrecking the Home
Rule Bill. There ought to have been several others of the moderate
party at the meeting. Their letters of apology were read to us. They
all had urgent business either in England or Scotland, which prevented
their being in Belfast. I do not think their absence made much
difference in the result of our deliberations. We had got beyond the
stage at which votes matter much.
Moyne was pitifully nervous. He stated our position very fairly. It
was, he said, a hateful thing to have to give in to the Government. He
did not like doing it. On the other hand he did not like to take the
responsibility of urging the people of Belfast to commit a breach of
the peace. Lives, he said, would certainly be lost if we attempted to
hold our meeting in the face of the force of armed men which the
Government had collected in our streets. He would feel himself guilty
of something little short of murder if he did not advise the acceptance
of the compromise offered by Clithering. It was, after all, a fair,
more than a fair compromise. Nothing would be lost by postponing the
meeting for a week.
It was rather a feeble speech. Nobody offered any interruption, but
nobody expressed any approval of what he said. When he sat down
Babberly rose at once.
Now Babberly is no fool. He knows that florid orations are out of
place at committee meetings. He did not treat us to any oratory. He
gave us tersely and forcibly several excellent reasons for postponing
The Government, he said, is weakening. Its offer of a compromise
shows that it is beginning at last to feel the full force of the Ulster
objection to Home Rule.
Here McNeice interrupted him.
If that's so, he said, we must make our objection more
unmistakably obvious than before.
Quite so, said Babberly; but how? Is it
By fighting them, said McNeice.
If by fighting them, said Babberly, you mean asking the unarmed
citizens of Belfast to stand up against rifles
Unarmed? The word came from Conroy in his corner. Every one was
startled. We had not expected Conroy to take any part in the
Undrilled, undisciplined, said Babberly. What can be the result
of such a conflict as you suggest? Our people, the men who have trusted
us, will be mowed down. We shall place ourselves hopelessly in the
wrong. We shall alienate the sympathies of our friends in England.
A large crowd had gathered in the street outside the windows of the
room in which we were sitting. I suppose that the men found waiting a
tiresome business. By way of passing the time they began to sing O
God, our help in ages past.
It is of the utmost importance to us, said Babberly, to retain
the sympathies of the English constituencies. Any illegal violence on
You should have thought of that before you told the English people
that we meant to fight, said McNeice.
If you follow my advice to-day, said Babberly, there will be no
necessity for fighting.
The hymn outside gathered volume. It seemed to me that thousands of
voices were joining in the singing of it. It became exceedingly
difficult to hear what Babberly was saying. I leaned forward and caught
his next few sentences.
By keeping within the limits of constitutional action at this
crisis we shall demonstrate that we are, what we have always boasted
ourselves, the party of law and order. We shall win a bloodless
victory. We shall convince the Government that we possess self-control
as well as determination.
Then the noise of the singing outside became so great that it was
impossible to hear Babberly at all. McNeice tilted his chair back and
began to hum the tune. Malcolmson beat time to the singing with his
forefingers. Their action seemed to me to be intentionally insulting to
Babberly. The crowd outside reached the end of a verse and there was a
Damn that hymn! said Babberly.
This roused the Dean. It would have roused any dean with a particle
of spirit in him. After all, a high ecclesiastic cannot sit still and
listen to profane condemnation of one of the Psalms of David, even if
it has undergone versification at the hands of Dr. Watts. The conduct
of McNeice and Malcolmson was offensive and provocative. The noise made
by the crowd was maddening. There is every excuse for Babberly's sudden
loss of temper. But the Dean's anger was more than excusable. It was
justified. He sprang to his feet, and I knew at once that he was very
angry indeed. I could see a broad white rim all round the irises of his
eyes, and a pulse in his temples was throbbing visibly. I recognized
the symptoms. I had seen them once before at a vestry meeting when some
ill-conditioned parishioner said that the Dean's curate was converting
to his own uses the profits of the parish magazine. The periodical, as
appeared later on, was actually run at a loss, and the curate had been
seven-and-ninepence out of pocket the previous year.
The Dean said something to Babberly, but the crowd had begun the
fourth verse of the hymn, and we could not hear what he said. I got up
and shut both windows. The atmosphere of our committee-room was hot,
and likely to become hotter; but it is better to do business in a
Turkish bath than not to do it at all. There was plainly no use our
talking to each other unless we were able to hear. My action gave
Babberly time to regain his temper.
I apologize, he said. I apologize to all of you, and especially
to you, Mr. Dean, for an intemperate and uncalled-for exclamation.
The Dean sat down. The pulse in his forehead was still throbbing,
but the irises of his eyes ceased to look like bulls' eyes in the
middle of targets.
I have been a consistent supporter of the Union, said Babberly,
for twenty years. In season and out of season I have upheld the cause
we have at heart on English platforms and in the House of Commons. I
know better than you do, gentlemen, what the temper of the English
people is. I know that we shall sacrifice their friendship and alienate
their sympathy if we resort to the argument of lawlessness and
It's the only argument they ever listen to, said McNeice. Look at
the Nationalists. What arguments did they use?
Gentlemen, said Babberly, are you going to ask Ulstermen to fire
on the King's troops?
I reckon, said Conroy, that we mean to use our guns now we've got
Babberly made a curious gesture with his hands. He flung them out
from him with the palms upwards and then sat down. McNeice rose next.
For the last two years, he said, we've been boasting that we
meant to resist Home Rule with force if necessary. That's so, isn't
Malcolmson growled an assent.
English politicians and Irish rebels said we were bluffing. Our own
peoplethe men outside there in the streetthought we were in
earnest. The English went on with their Bill. Our people drilled and
got rifles. Which of the two was right about us? Were we bluffing or
were we in earnest? We've got to answer that question to-morrow, and
we'll never get another chance. If we don't fight now, we'll never
fight, for there won't be a man left in Ulster that will believe in us
again. I don't know that there's any more to be said. I propose that
Lord Moyne puts the question to the meeting and takes a vote.
Then Cahoon rose to his feet.
Before you do that, my lord, he said, I'd like to say a word. I'm
a business man. I've as much at stake as any one in this room. My
fortune, gentlemen, is in bricks and mortar, in machinery and plant not
ten miles from this city. I've thought this matter out, and I came to a
conclusion years ago. Home Rule won't do for Belfast, and Belfast isn't
going to have it. If I saw any way of stopping it but the one I'd take
it. There are thousands, yes, gentlemen, thousands of men, women, and
children depending on my business for their living. Home Rule means
ruining it and starving them. I don't like fighting, but, by God, I'll
fight before I submit to Home Rule.
Lord Moyne looked slowly round the room. His face was quite pale. It
seemed to me that his eyes had grown larger. They had a look of terror
in them. His hands trembled among the papers in front of him. He saw at
once what the result of a vote would be. He looked at me. I shook my
head. It was quite plain that nothing I could say would influence the
meeting in the least.
Gentlemen, said Moyne, are we to attempt to hold our meeting
to-morrow? Those who are in favour of doing so say 'Aye.'
Cahoon, McNeice, Malcolmson, the Dean and Conroy voted aye.
The 'ayes' have it, said Moyne.
Before we part, said Babberly, I wish to say that I leave Belfast
Malcolmson muttered something. Babberly held up his hand.
No, he said. You are wrong. I'm not afraid. I'm not taking care
of my own skin. But I have lived a loyal man and I mean to die a loyal
man. I decline to take part in the rebellion.
I have heard Babberly speak on various occasions and admired his
eloquence. This time I recognized his sincerity. He was speaking the
I shall go back to England, he said, and, of this you may rest
assured, that I shall do what can be done in Parliament and elsewhere
to save you and the men whom I must call your victims from the
consequences of to-day's madness and to-morrow's crime.
He left the room. The five men who had voted Aye were gathered in
a knot talking eagerly. I took Moyne's arm and we went out together.
Her ladyship must be got away, he said. And your daughter,
Kilmore. She's here, isn't she? This town will be no place for women
to-morrow. Luckily I have the car. You'll take them, won't you? Castle
Affey will be the best place for the present.
What are you going to do yourself? I asked.
We passed through the door and down the flight of steps to the
street. The crowd outside caught sight of us at once. Some one shouted
The news of the result of the meeting and the part we took in it had
somehow reached the people already. An angry roar went up from the
crowd. Those who were nearest to us cursed us. A police-officer with
eight men forced a way through the crowd. At a word from their officer
the men drew their batons and stood in front of us.
I think, my lord, said the officer to Moyne, that you'd better go
back. We had the greatest difficulty in getting Mr. Babberly through,
and the crowd is angrier now.
I'm going on, said Moyne.
I cannot be responsible, said the officer. I haven't enough men
to control this crowd. If you go on
Moyne pushed his way through the cordon of police. I followed him.
At first the people drew back a little and let us pass into the middle
of the crowd. Then one man after another began to hustle us. Moyne
linked his arm in mine and helped me along. A man struck him in the
face with the flat of his hand. It was a sharp slap rather than an
actual blow. Moyne flushed deeply, but he neither spoke nor struck
back. Then suddenly the people seemed to forget all about us. A wild
cheer burst from them. Hats were flung into the air. Sticks were waved.
Some one began firing shots from a revolver in rapid succession. It was
a fusillade of joy, a kind of salute to McNeice who appeared at the
window of the committee-room. Moyne and I pushed our way on. When we
were clear of the crowd Moyne spoke to me again.
You'd better take them at once, he said. It's impossible to know
what'll happen here to-night.
But you? I said.
Oh, I shall stay.
Don't be a fool, Moyne, I said. You're the one of all others who
ought not to stay. Don't you see that whatever way things go you're in
for it? The mob thinks you're a traitor. I wouldn't trust those fellows
we've just left not to kill you. And when the soldiers have shot them
down and the subsequent investigation begins, the Government is bound
to fix on you as a ringleader. There'll be panic to-morrow and savage
vindictiveness the next day. McNeice and Malcolmson will frighten the
Government and the Government will have you hanged or beheaded
afterwards for causing the trouble. The English people will clamour for
a victim, and you're exactly the sort of victim they'll like. Your one
chance is to get out of this. Go to Castle Affey to-night, and
telegraph to The Times to-morrow to say that you dissociate
Moyne stopped me.
Look here, Kilmore, he said. I've heard all you have to say, and
I agree with it, more or less. I don't suppose I'll be either murdered
by the mob or shot by the military, but
You will, I said, if you stay here.
Even if I am, he said, I'll have to stay.
In the name of goodness, why?
You know the way we've been talking for the last two yearsour
side, I mean.
I knew the way Babberly had been talking. I knew the way Lady Moyne
had goaded him and others to talk, but poor Moyne hardly ever talked at
all. All he ever wanted was to be left alone.
Well, I can't exactly go back on them now when they're doing what
we said they ought to do. I've got to see the thing through. After all
it's my fault that those poor fellows are in this horrible mess.
He glanced back as he spoke. He was thinking of the angry crowd we
had left behind us.
So you'll take care of the ladies, he said. Run them down to
Castle Affey and make yourself as comfortable as you can. They won't be
expecting you, but they'll manage some sort of dinner.
I'm not going, I said. I'm staying on in Belfast.
But why should you? You've no responsibility. You've never taken
any part in ourIt's very good of you to think of staying. It really
is. And I appreciate the spirit in whichBut
For goodness' sake, Moyne, I said, don't give me credit for any
kind of heroism. That noblesse oblige attitude of yours doesn't
suit me a bit. It isn't in my line.
But hang it all, Kilmore, you can't be staying here for the fun of
I've often told you, I said, that I'm writing a history of the
Irish Rebellions. I naturally want to see one, and there isn't likely
to be another in my time. That's my only reason for staying in
We found Lady Moyne waiting for us when we reached the hotel. She
was wearing a long cloak, and had a motor-veil tied over her head. She
was evidently prepared to start at once.
I've ordered the car, she said. It ought to be round now.
Marion's coming with me, Lord Kilmore. I think she'd be better out of
Belfast for the next few days.
The news of the decision of our committee seemed to have spread with
quite unexampled rapidity. We came straight from the meeting, and we
found that Lady Moyne had already recognized the necessity for flight.
I'm glad you're going, said Moyne, and I'm glad you're taking
Marion with you. But how did you know? Who told you what?
That young man who's Mr. Conroy's secretary, said Lady Moyne. I
forget his name.
Bob Power, I said.
He came in to see Marion, and he told us.
Bob must have known beforehand what the committee's decision was to
be. I realized that Conroy must have had the whole plan cut and dried;
that the meeting at which Moyne presided was simply a farce. However,
there was nothing to be gained by discussing that.
I think, I said, that Moyne ought to go with you. I don't think
Belfast is particularly safe for him just now; and
Moyne must stay, of course, said Lady Moyne.
There'll be trouble afterwards, I said. He ought not to be mixed
up in it. If he clears out at once
Lady Moyne looked at me with an expression of wonder on her face.
Her eyes opened very wide.
Surely, she said, you don't expect him to run away.
Of course not, said Moyne; of course not. And there's really no
That's not the kind of people we are, said Lady Moyne.
I'll join you at Castle Affey in a couple of days, said Moyne.
Castle Affey, said Lady Moyne. I'm not going to Castle Affey. I'm
going to London.
What for? I said. And how are you going to get there? There are
no steamers on Sunday night.
I'm taking possession of Mr. Conroy's yacht, said Lady Moyne.
She's lying off Bangor, and that young man, Mr. Power, said we could
have her. We'll get across to Stranraer this evening, and I'll have a
special train and be in London to-morrow morning.
London! said Moyne. But why London? Surely Castle Affey
I must see the Prime Minister early to-morrow. He must be
persuadedhe must be forced if necessaryto telegraph orders to
Belfast. Don't you realize? I don't blame you, I don't blame either of
you for the failure of your meeting this afternoon. I'm sure you did
your best. Butbut what will happen here to-morrow? We can't leave the
people to be shot down like dogs. After all, they're our
But what can you do? said Moyne. The Prime Minister won't see
If necessary I shall force him, said Lady Moyne. He shall see
Lady Moyne is, as I have always said, a remarkable woman. Many
members of her sex have been trying for years to force their way into
the presence of the Prime Minister. They have hitherto failed.
I am afraid, I said, that Marion won't be much use to you if
you're going to come into collision with the police in any way.
Lady Moyne smiled.
I hope I shan't be reduced to those methods, she said; but if I
am I shall leave Marion at home.
I had not the slightest doubt that Lady Moyne would succeed in
seeing the Prime Minister. He has probably sense enough to know that
though he may resist other women successfully, he cannot possibly make
head against her.
If there is no rioting here to-night, said Lady Moyne, I shall be
in time. That young man, Mr. Power, seemed to think that everything
would be quiet until to-morrow. I hope he's right.
He's sure to be, I said. Conroy is running the revolution and
settles exactly what is to happen.
He was very confident, said Lady Moyne. Ah! here's Marion. Now we
can start. Good-bye, Lord Kilmore. Do your best here. I'll make the
best arrangement I can with the Prime Minister.
Moyne and I dined together in the hotel. We should have got a better
dinner at the club, and I wanted to go there. But Moyne was afraid of
the other men's talk. It was likely that there would be some very eager
talk at the club; and Moyne, whose name still figured on placards as
chairman of next day's meeting would have been a butt for every kind of
We did not altogether escape talk by staying in the hotel.
Just as we were sitting down to dinner I was told that Bob Power
wished to see me. Moyne wanted me to send him away; but I could not
well refuse an interview to the man who was to be my son-in-law. I gave
that as my excuse to Moyne. In reality I was filled with curiosity, and
wanted to hear what Bob would say to us. I told the waiter to show him
in. He carried no visible weapon of any kind, but he was wearing a
light blue scarf round his left arm. I suppose I stared at it.
Our nearest approach to a uniform, he said. Something of the sort
But why light blue? I asked.
Oh, I don't know. It's a good colour, easily seen. The men are to
wear orange, of course. I'm an officer.
Captain or Colonel or Knight at Arms? I asked.
We haven't bothered about titles, said Bob, who did not seem to
recognize the question. We haven't had time to settle details of any
sort. In fact I haven't much time now. I just dropped in to tell you
that you needn't be nervous about to-night. We have our men well under
control, and the police ought to be able to deal with the rabble. If
they can'tif there's any sign of riotingwe step in and stop it at
He pulled a revolver from his coat pocket as he spoke. It gave us
the necessary information about the way in which rioting was to be
I shall be on patrol all night, he said. My orders
By the way, I said, excuse my asking a stupid sort of question.
But who gives you your orders? Who is Commander-in-Chief?
Conroy, of course. Didn't you know? He organized the whole thing.
Wonderful head Conroy has. I don't wonder he became a millionaire. He
has his men under perfect control. They may not look starchy when you
see them in the streets, but they'll do what they're told. I thought
you and Lord Moyne would be glad to know, so I dropped in to tell you.
I must be off now.
He got as far as the door and then turned.
Marion and Lady Moyne got away all right, he said. I saw them
Then he left us.
That's good news as far as it goes, I said.
I'm not sure, said Moyne. I'm not at all sure. If there had been
a riot to-night, the ordinary sort of riotbut I don't know. It's very
hard to know what to hope for.
If there had been an ordinary riot that night, and if it had been
sternly and promptly suppressed, there would perhaps have been no
battle next day. If, on the other hand, Conroy and Bob and the others
could keep their men under control, if they could secure the peace of
the city for the night, then the fighting next day was likely to be
serious. As Moyne said, it was very hard to know what to hope for.
The waiter brought in our fish, and with it a message from Sir
Samuel Clithering. He wanted to see Moyne. I had had enough of
Clithering for one day, so I made no objection when Moyne flatly
refused to see him.
I suppose a man cannot be a successful manufacturer of hosiery in
the English midlands without possessing the quality of persistence.
Clithering had it. He sent another message to say that his business was
very important. Moyne said that he and his business might go to hell
together. I hope the waiter translated this message into parliamentary
language. Clithering is a Nonconformist, and therefore a man of tender
conscience. I should not like him to be shocked.
The hotel cook was doing his best for us. He sent us up an entrée. With it came a note from Clithering.
I'm sending a telegram to the Prime Minister describing the
condition of affairs here. May I say that you have refused to preside
at the meeting to-morrow?
Moyne showed me the note. Then he scribbled an answer on the back of
You may tell the Prime Minister that if a meeting is held I shall
preside. The announcements made in the papers and posters stand good.
Do you think that's wise? I asked.
I think it's right, said Moyne.
It is a great pity that right things very seldom are wise. I have
hardly ever met anything which could possibly be called prudent which
was not also either mean or actually wrong.
Our next interruption was due to a newspaper reporter. He
represented several papers, among others one in New York. He had the
names of all of them printed on his card, but they did not impress
Moyne. Our waiter, who was beginning to swell with a sense of his own
importance, drove off that newspaper reporter. Three others, all of
them representing papers of high standing, sent in their cards in quick
succession. Moyne laid a sovereign on the table and told the waiter
that he could have it as a tip on condition that no one got into the
room while we were at dinner.
The waiter got the sovereign in the end; but he did not deserve it.
While we were drinking our coffee a young man overwhelmed our waiter
and forced his way into the room. There were two doors in our room,
which is one of what is called a suite. As the young man entered by
one, Moyne, leaving his coffee and his sovereign behind him, left by
the other. He shut it with a slam and locked it.
Lord Moyne, I presume? said the young man.
Lord Moyne, I said, has just left.
May I ask, he said, if I have the honour of addressing Mr.
I explained that I was not McNeice. Then, in order to get him to go
away, if possible, I added that I was not Malcolmson, or Cahoon, or
Conroy, or the Dean.
If you'll pardon my curiosity, he said, I should like to ask
I saw that I should be obliged to tell him who I was in the end. I
told him at once, adding that I was a person of no importance whatever,
and that I had no views of any kind on what he would no doubt want to
call the situation.
May I ask you one question? he said. Is Lord Moyne going to take
the chair to-morrow?
Yes, I said, he is. But if you're going to print what I say in
any paper I won't speak another word.
As a matter of fact, he said, the wires are blocked. There's a
man in the post office writing as hard as he can and handing one sheet
after another across the counter as quick as he can write them. Nobody
else can send anything.
Clithering, I expect.
Very likely. Seems to fancy himself a bit, whoever he is. Nobody
else can get a message through.
He seemed an agreeable young man. Moyne had probably gone to bed and
I did not want to spend a lonely evening.
Have a glass of claret, I said.
He sat down and poured himself off half a tumbler-full. Then it
struck him that he owed me some return for my hospitality.
My name, he said, is Bland. I was with Roberts' column in the
Orange Free State.
Ah! I said. A war correspondent.
I did the Greek War, too, he said. A poor affair, very. Looks to
me as if you were going to do better here. But it's a curious
Very, I said, and most unpleasant.
From my point of view, said Bland, it's most interesting. The
usual thing is for one army to clear out of a town before the other
comes in or else to surrender after a regular siege. But here
I'm afraid, I said, that our proceedings are frightfully
None the worse for that, said Bland kindly. But they are a
bit peculiar. I've read up quite a lot of military history and I don't
recollect a single case in which two hostile armies patrolled the
streets of the same city without firing a shot at one another. By the
way, have you been out?
Not since this afternoon, I said.
It would be quite worth your while to take a stroll round, said
Bland. There's not the slightest risk and you may never have a chance
of seeing anything like it again.
I quite agreed with Bland. The odds are, I suppose, thousands to one
against my ever again seeing two hostile armies walking up and down
opposite sides of the street. I got my hat and we went out together.
We were almost immediately stopped by a body of lancers. Their
leader asked us who we were and where we were going.
Press correspondents, said Bland, on our way to the telegraph
This impressed the officer. He allowed us to go on without ordering
his men to impale us. I was glad of this. I am not particularly afraid
of being killed, but I would rather meet my end by a sword cut or a
bullet than by a lance. I should feel like a wild pig if a lancer
speared me. No one could die with dignity and self-respect if he felt
like a wild pig while he was passing away.
In ordinary wars, said Bland, the best thing to say is that you
are a doctor attached to the Ambulance Corps. But that's no use here.
These fellows don't want doctors!
Then we met a party of volunteers. They stopped us too, and
challenged us very sternly. Bland gave his answer. This time it did not
prove wholly satisfactory.
Protestant or Papist? said the officer in command.
Neither, said Bland, I'm a high caste Brahmin.
Fortunately I recognized the officer's voice. It was Crossan who
commanded this particular regiment. It never was safe, even in the
quietest times, to be flippant with Crossan. On a night like that and
under the existing circumstances, Bland might very well have been
knocked on the head for his joke if I had not come to his rescue.
Crossan, I said, don't make a fuss. Mr. Bland and I are simply
taking a walk round the streets.
If he's a Papist, said Crossan, he'll have to go home to his bed.
Them's my orders. We don't want rioting in the streets to-night.
I turned to Bland.
What is your religion? I asked.
Haven't any, he said. I haven't believed any doctrine taught by
any Church since I was six years old. Will that satisfy you?
I was afeard, said Crossan, that you might be a Papist. You can
This shows, I think, that the charges of bigotry and intolerance
brought against our Northern Protestants are quite unfounded. Crossan
had no wish to persecute even a professed atheist.
We did not go very far though we were out for nearly two hours. The
streets were filled with armed men and everybody we met challenged us.
The police were the hardest to get rid of. They were no doubt soured by
the treatment they received in Belfast. Accustomed to be regarded with
awe by rural malefactors and denounced in flaming periods, of a kind
highly gratifying to their self-importance, by political leaders, they
could not understand a people who did not mention them in speeches but
threatened their lives with paving stones. This had been their previous
experience of Belfast and they were naturally suspicious of any stray
wayfarers whom they met. They were not impressed when Bland said he was
a newspaper reporter. They did not seem to care whether he believed or
disbelieved the Apostles' Creed. One party of them actually arrested us
and only a ready lie of Bland's saved us from spending an uncomfortable
night. He said, to my absolute amazement, that we were officials of an
exalted kind, sent down by the Local Government Board to hold a sworn
inquiry into the condition of Belfast. This struck me at the time as an
outrageously silly story, but it was really a rather good one to tell.
The Irish police are accustomed to sworn inquiries as one of the last
resorts of harassed Governments. It seemed to the sergeant quite
natural that somebody should be in Belfast to hold one.
We came across McConkey with his machine gun at a street corner. He
had got a new crew to pull it along. I suppose the first men were
utterly exhausted. But McConkey himself was quite fresh. Enthusiasm for
the weapon on which he had spent the savings of a lifetime kept him
The experience was immensely interesting; but I began to get tired
after a time. The necessity for explaining what we wereor rather what
we were notat the end of every fifty yards, began to make me nervous.
Bland's spirits kept up, but Bland is a war correspondent and
accustomed to being harried by military authorities. I am not. It was a
comfort to me when we ran into Bob Power's regiment outside the Ulster
Bob, I said, I want to get back to my hotel. I wish you'd see me
safe, chaperone me, convoy me, or whatever you call the thing I want
you to do.
Bland tugged at my sleeve.
Get him to take me to the post-office, he said. I'll have another
go at getting a telegram through.
Bob, I said, this is my friend Mr. Bland. He's a war
correspondent and he wants to get to the post-office.
My return to the hotel was simple enough. The police kept out of the
way of Bob's men. The other soldiers let him and his regiment pass
without challenge. Bland, faithful to his professional duties, poured
out questions as we went along.
How's it managed? he said. Why aren't you at each other's
So far as we're concerned, said Bob, there's nothing to fight
about. We don't object to the soldiers or the police. We're loyal men.
Oh, are you? said Bland.
Unless our meeting's interrupted to-morrow, I said.
Of course, said Bob.
That explains your position all right, said Bland. But I don't
quite understand the others. I should have thought
The soldiers, said Bob, have strict orders not to provoke a
conflict. I met Henderson just now and he told me so. You remember
Henderson, Lord Kilmore? The man I was talking to at the railway
station. He'd only had two water biscuits to eat all day yesterday.
When I met him just now he told me he'd had nothing since breakfast
to-day but one bit of butterscotch. He said he wished we'd fight at
once if we were going to fight and get it over.
But the police said Bland, still trying to get information. I
should have thought the police
They tried to arrest us, I said. In fact they did arrest us but
they let us go again.
I dare say they'd like to arrest us, said Bob, but you see we've
all got guns.
Ah, said Bland, and the ordinary inhabitants of the city?
They're in bed, said Bob, and we've all agreed that they'd better
stay there. Nobody wants a riot.
Thanks, said Bland. If I can get my wire through I'll let the
world know the exact position of affairs.
If you are wiring, said Bob, you might like to mention that there
was jolly nearly being a fight at the gasworks. The military people got
it into their heads that we intended to turn off the gas and plunge the
town into darkness so as to be able to murder people without being
caught. They took possession of the works and put a party of Royal
Engineers in charge. Fairly silly idea! But some fool on our sidea
fellow who's been dragging a quick-firing gun about the streets all
McConkey, I said. I know him.
I didn't hear his name, said Bob, but he got it into his head
that the Royal Engineers were going to turn off the gas so that the
soldiers could make short work of us. He wanted to wipe out those
engineers with his gun. I don't suppose he'd have hit them, but he'd
certainly have tried if some one hadn't run and fetched Conroy. He
settled the matter at once.
How? said Bland. This story will be a scoop for me. I don't
expect any one else knows it.
He handed the gasworks over to the police, said Bob.
But did that satisfy any one? I asked. I should have thought that
both the original parties would have fallen upon the police.
Not at all, said Bob. The police are so much the weakest party in
the town that it's plainly to their interest to keep the gas burning.
Even the man with the machine gun saw that.
I found Moyne waiting for me when I got back to the hotel. He was
very depressed and took no more than a mere sip of the whisky and soda
which I ordered for him. I made an effort to cheer him a little before
I went to bed.
I don't think, I said, that there'll be a battle to-morrow.
I am sure there will. What's to stop it?
The fact is, I said, that everybody will be too exhausted to
fight. McConkey, for instance, is still hauling that field gun of his
about the streets. He simply won't have strength enough left to-morrow
to shoot it off. All the soldiers and all the volunteers are marching
up and down. They mean to keep it up all night. I should say that you
and I and three or four other sensible people who have gone to bed will
have the town entirely to ourselves to-morrow.
Moyne smiled feebly.
I wish it was all well over, he said. I hope the Prime Minister
won't be disagreeable to. It would have been better, much better, if
she'd gone to Castle Affey.
You needn't be a bit afraid of that, I said.
This time I spoke with real assurance. No man living could be
disagreeable to Lady Moyne, if she smiled at him. When she left Belfast
she was so much in earnest and so anxious, that she would certainly
smile her very best at the Prime Minister.
I don't know, said Moyne. He may hold her responsible to some
extent. And she is, you know. That's the worst of it, she is. We all
Not at all, I said.
Oh, but we are, said Moyne. I feel that. I wish to goodness we'd
What I mean is that the Prime Minister won't hold her responsible.
After all, Moyne, he's a politician himself. He'll understand.
But we saidwe kept on sayingBabberly and all of us
Moyne was becoming morbid.
Don't be a fool, I said. Of course we said things. Everybody
does. But we never intended to do them. Any one accustomed to politics
will understand that. I expect the Prime Minister will be particularly
civil to Lady Moyne. He'll see the hole she's in.
I went down to the club next morning at about half-past ten o'clock,
hoping to see Conroy. He, so I thought, might be able to tell me what
was likely to happen during the day. Moyne could tell me nothing. I
left him in the hotel, desperately determined to take the chair at any
meeting that might be held; but very doubtful about how he was to do
The streets were much less obviously martial than they had been the
night before. There were no soldiers to be seen. There were only a very
few volunteers, and they did not seem to be doing anything particular.
The policethere were not even many of themlooked quite peaceable,
as if they had no more terrific duties to perform than the regulation
of traffic and the arrest of errant drunkards. I began to think that I
had accidentally told Moyne the truth the night before. All our
warriors seemed to be in bed, exhausted by their marching and
counter-marching. I did not even see McConkey with his machine gun.
This disappointed me. I thought McConkey was a man of more grit. One
night's work ought not to have tired him out.
Clithering was in the club. He, at all events, was still active.
Very likely he was caught the night before by some patrolling party and
forced to go to bed. Unless he happened to be carrying some sort of
certificate of his religious faith in his pocket, Crossan would almost
certainly have put him to bed. The moment he saw me he came fussing up
I'm very glad to be able to tell you, he said, that the troops
are to be kept in barracks to-day unless they are urgently required.
I'm sure you'll agree with me that's a good plan.
It depends, I said, on the point of view you take. It won't be at
all a good plan for the police if there's any fighting.
I telegraphed to the Prime Minister last night, said Clithering;
I sent a long, detailed message
I heard about that, I said, from one of the war correspondents, a
man called Bland. You rather blocked the wires, and he couldn't get his
It was of the utmost possible importance, said Clithering, that
the Prime Minister should thoroughly understand the situation. Our
original idea was that the appearance of large bodies of troops in the
streets would overawe
They weren't overawing any one, I said.
So I saw. So I saw yesterday afternoon. I telegraphed at once. I
gave it as my opinion that the troops, so far from overawing, were
exasperating the populace. I suggestedI'm sure you'll agree with me
that the suggestion was wisein fact I urged very strongly that the
troops should be kept out of sight to-dayunder arms and ready for
emergenciesbut out of sight. I am in great hopes that the people will
settle down quietly. Now, what do you think, Lord Kilmore?
They'll be quite quiet, I said, if you let them hold their
Oh, but that's impossible, said Clithering. I quite agree with
the Prime Minister there. Any sign of weakness on the part of the
Government at the present crisis would be fatal, absolutely fatal. The
Belfast people must understand that they cannot be allowed to defy the
Then you'd better trot out your soldiers again, all you've got.
Clithering did not seem at all pleased with this suggestion.
We shall rely upon the police, he said, to put a stop to the
meeting. I do not anticipate that there will be any organized
On the whole, I said, I'm very glad I'm not a policeman.
Surely, said Clithering, the responsible leaders of the Unionist
party will understand the criminal folly ofYou don't anticipate
I'm nothing of a prophet, I said; but if you ask my opinion I'd
say that the police will be wiped out in about ten minutes. They're a
very fine body of men; but there aren't nearly enough of them. If you
really want to stop the meeting you'll have to get out the soldiers,
and even with them
But we want to avoid bloodshed, said Clithering. We cannot have
the citizens of Belfast shot down by the military. Think of the
consequences, the political consequences. A Tory Government mightbut
we! Besides, the horrible moral guilt.
It's no affair of mine, I said; but I should have thoughtI dare
say I am wrong. There may be no moral guilt about killing policemen.
But they won't be killed, said Clithering. Our one aim is to
You're trying the police rather high, I said. They'll do what you
tell them, of course. But I don't think it's quite fair to ask them to
face ten times their own number of men all armed with magazine rifles
when they have nothing but those ridiculous little carbines.
Oh, but the police are not to have firearms, said Clithering.
Strict orders have been givenbatons ought to be quite sufficient. We
must avoid all risk of bloodshed.
Good gracious! I said. Do you expect a handful of police with
small, round sticks in their handsOh! go away, Clithering. You mean
well, I dare say, but you're absurd.
It is very seldom that I lose my temper in this sudden way. I was
sorry a moment afterwards that I had given way to my feelings. Poor
Clithering looked deeply hurt. He turned from me with an expression of
pained astonishment and sat down by himself in a corner. I pitied him
so much that I made an effort to console him.
I dare say it will be all right, I said. The police will probably
have sense enough to go away before they're shot. Then the meeting will
be held quite peaceably. I don't know what the political consequences
of that may be, but you'll get off the moral guilt, and there'll be no
This ought to have cheered and consoled Clithering; but it did not.
It made him more nervous than ever.
I must go at once, he said, and see the General in command.
Everything must be
He left the room hurriedly without finishing his sentence. This
annoyed me. I wanted to know what everything must be.
The reading-room of the club is on the first floor, and the window
commands an excellent view of Donegal Place, one of the principal
thoroughfares of Belfast. The club stands right across the eastern end
of the street, and the traffic is diverted to right and left along
Royal Avenue and High Street. At the far, the western end, of Donegal
Place, stands the new City Hall, with the statute of Queen Victoria in
front of it. There again the traffic is split at right angles. Some of
the best shops in the town lie on either side of this street. A
continuous stream of trams passes up and down it, to and from the
junction, which is directly under the club windows, and is the centre
of the whole Belfast tramway system. It is always pleasant to stand at
the reading-room window and watch the very busy and strenuous traffic
of this street. As a view point on that particular morning the window
was as good as possible. Donegal Place is the chief and most obvious
way from the northern and eastern parts of the city to the place where
the meeting was to be held.
Between eleven o'clock and twelve the volunteers began to appear in
considerable numbers. I saw at once that I had been wrong in supposing
that they meant to spend the day in bed. One company after another came
up Royal Avenue or swung round the corner from High Street, and marched
before my eyes along Donegal Place towards the scene of the meeting.
Small bodies of police appeared here and there, heading in the same
direction. Now and then a few mounted police trotted by, making nearly
as much jangle as if they had been regular soldiers. The hour fixed for
the meeting was one o'clock, but at noon the number of men in the
street was so great that ordinary traffic was stopped. A long line of
trams, unable to force their way along, blocked the centre of the
thoroughfare. The drivers and conductors left them and went away.
Crowds of women and children collected on the roofs of these trams and
cheered the men as they marched along.
At half-past twelve Moyne drove along in a carriage. The Dean was
beside him, and Cahoon had a seat with his back to the horses. The
progress of the carriage was necessarily very slow. I could not see
Moyne's face, but he sat in a hunched-up attitude suggestive of great
misery. The Dean sat bolt upright, and kept taking off his hat to the
crowd when cheers broke out. Cahoon, whose face I could see, seemed
cheerful and confident.
At the back of the carriage, perched on a kind of bar and holding on
tightly to the springs, was Bland. Barefooted urchins often ride in
this way, and appear to enjoy themselves until the coachman lashes
backwards at them with his whip. I never saw a grown man do it before,
and I should have supposed that it would be most uncomfortable. Bland,
however, seemed quite cheerful, and I admired the instinct which led
him to attach himself to Moyne's carriage. He made sure of being
present at the outbreak of hostilities, since the meeting could neither
be held nor stopped till Moyne arrived; and he had hit upon far the
easiest way of getting through the crowd which thronged Donegal Place.
At a quarter to one Bob Power and his company arrived. Instead of
marching to the scene of the meeting Bob halted and drew his men across
the end of the street right underneath the club windows. Crossan, with
another company of volunteers, joined him.
Bob and Crossan consulted together, and Bob gave an order which I
could not hear. Two of his men laid down their rifles and ran along the
street, one taking each side of the line of trams. They shouted to the
people on the roofs of the trams as they passed them. The orders, if
they were orders, were obeyed. There was a hurried stampede of women
and children. They climbed down from the trams and ran along the street
towards my end of it. Bob's men opened their ranks and let them go
One after another the shops in the streets were closed. Roller
blinds and shutters covered the windows. A telegraph boy on a red
bicycle rode through Bob's lines into the empty street. He stopped and
dismounted, evidently puzzled by the deserted appearance of the street.
Two of the volunteers seized him and took the envelope from his wallet.
They sent him back to the post-office. The poor boy was so frightened
that he left his bicycle behind him.
Bob gave an order and one of his men took the bicycle and rode off
in the direction of the meeting. A few minutes later one of the club
waiters brought the telegram to me. It was from Lady Moyne.
Saw the Prime Minister this morning. He is taking all possible
measures to avoid bloodshed. Has telegraphed instructions to the
military authorities. Tell Moyne. Am sending duplicate message to him.
Want to make sure of reaching him.
I glanced at my watch. It was five minutes past one; evidently too
late to tell Moyne anything. Whatever was happening at the scene of the
meeting had begun to happen at one o'clock. I waited.
Ten minutes later a motor car, driven at a furious pace, dashed
round the corner at the far end of the street, and sped towards us. A
single passenger sat beside the driver. I recognized him at once. It
was Clithering. Halfway down the street he suddenly caught sight of
Bob's volunteers. He clutched the driver by the arm. The car stopped
abruptly, backed, turned round and sped back again. I lost sight of it
as it swept round the corner.
Then followed another period of waiting in tense silence. The men
beneath methere must have been about five hundred of themdid not
speak. They scarcely moved. Bob and Crossan stood in front of them,
Bob's scout, the man who had mounted the telegraph boy's red
bicycle, appeared in front of the Town Hall and came tearing along the
street. He sprang to the ground in front of Bob and Crossan and spoke
to them eagerly. They turned almost at once and gave an order. Their
men lay down. I heard the rattle of their rifles on the pavement. I
could see their hands fiddling with the sights, slipping along the
barrels and stocks, opening and snapping shut the magazines. The men
were nervous, but, except for the movements of their hands, they showed
no signs of great excitement. One man, near the end of the line,
deliberately unbuttoned his collar and threw it away. Another took off
his coat, folded it up carefully, and laid it on the ground behind him.
It struck me that it was his vest coat, a Sunday garment which he was
unwilling to soil. Bob walked slowly along the line, speaking in low
tones to the men. Crossan stood rigidly still a few paces in front of
the line, watching the far end of the street.
Another cyclist appeared and rode towards us. One of the men fired
his rifle. Crossan turned round, walked back to the man, and struck him
on the head. Then he wrenched the rifle from his hands, threw it into
the street, and kicked the man savagely. The man made no resistance. He
got up and slowly left the ranks, walking away shamefacedly with
hanging head. I do not think that Crossan had spoken to him, nor did he
speak to any one else. His action explained itself. He turned his back
on the men and once again stared down the empty street. Discipline was
evidently to be strictly preserved in the ranks of the volunteers.
There was to be no shooting until the order was given.
When Crossan's proceedings ceased to be interesting I looked round
to see what had become of the cyclist. I caught sight of him in the
custody of two volunteers. He was shoved through the door of the club.
I could only see the top of his head, and so failed to recognize him
until he entered the room and came over to me.
Bland, I said. How did you get here?
I spotted this window, said Bland, as I rode along, and I asked
them to put me in here. Is it a club?
Yes, I said. What happened at the meeting?
Get me a whisky and soda, said Bland, if you're a member.
I rang the bell.
What happened? I said. Did they hold the meeting?
They were holding it, said Bland, when I left. But it wasn't much
of a meeting.
I ordered a whisky and soda from a terrified waiter.
What about the police? I asked.
They ran over the police, said Bland. I don't think they killed
many. There wasn't any shooting. The whole thing was done with a rush.
Damned well done. You couldn't call it a charge. The police were drawn
up in the middle of an open space where four or five roads met. The men
kind of flowed over them. When the place was clear again, there weren't
any police. That's all. Ah! here's the whisky!
He was evidently thirsty for he drank the whole tumbler-full at a
What about Moyne? I said. What did he do?
Oh! He stood up on the back seat of a carriage and began to make a
speech. But that didn't matter.
What did he say?
I don't know. I didn't stay to listen. I expect he urged them not
to kill any one. But it does not matter what he said. The men with
rifles, the volunteers, began to march off at once, in good order, some
in one direction, some in another. In five minutes there wasn't anybody
left to listen to Lord Moyne except a few corner boys. I can tell you
this, Lord Kilmore, there's a man with a head on his shoulders behind
this insurrection. He has those men of his holding all the most
important parts of the town. I got hold of a bicycle
How? I said. You're very wonderful, Bland. How did you get a
bicycle in the middle of a battlefield?
Stole it, said Bland. It belonged to a policeman, but he is
probably dead, so he won't mind. I rode after two or three different
parties of volunteers just to see where they were going. When I got
back to the place of the meeting there was a body of cavalry trotting
up. I had a sort of feeling that the battle would come this way. It
ought to. This is the most important place in the town. All lines of
communication meet here. Your side has brains enough to see that. The
question is, will the soldiers attack them here? I chanced it. If
there's any good fighting to-day it ought to be here.
I am not sure whether the General in command of the troops had the
brains to recognize that the post which Bob Power held was the key to
the whole situation. He did a good deal of desultory street fighting in
other places, and though he made a strong show of attacking Bob Power
in the end I think he was drawn into it by accident.
Bland lit a cigarette, and he and I stood at the window watching.
A crowd of men appeared at the far end of the street, running in
wild disorder. They ran quite silently with bent heads and outstretched
hands. Behind them, immediately behind them, came a squadron of
dragoons galloping. As the fugitives turned into the street the
soldiers overtook them and struck right and left with their swords.
They were using the flats, not the edges of the blades. The fugitives
staggered under the blows. Some of them stumbled and fell; but I do not
think that any one was seriously hurt.
Lord Moyne's audience, said Bland. The corner boys. There's not
an armed man among them.
I noticed that when he pointed it out to me. The flying men, wild
with terror, rushed into the empty trams. For the moment they were safe
enough. The dragoons could not get at them without dismounting. They
pulled up their horses.
Bob Power gave an order. Rifles cracked all along his line. The men
must have emptied their magazines before they stopped firing. The
officer of the dragoons gave an order. His squadron wheeled and
galloped back the way they came. Five horses lay plunging on the
ground. Four men dragged themselves clear of their saddles and ran
after their comrades. The other lay where he fell.
Six men detached themselves from Bob's lines and ran forward. In a
few minutes they were dragging the terrified fugitives from the trams
and driving them along the street. They came towards us, wailing aloud
in high shrill voices, like women. Behind them came Bob's volunteers,
carrying the wounded dragoon, and supporting a couple of the fugitives
who had been knocked down by the soldiers. The howling men were pushed
through the ranks to the rear. The volunteers closed up again in
silence. Not even when the dragoons turned and galloped away did they
break their silence. I have heard of soldiers going into battle with
shouts and greeting moments of success with cheers. These men fired on
their enemies without a shout and saw them fly without a cheer. Five
minutes later a company of infantry marched into the street, extended
into open order, and fired. Bob's men fired. More infantry came. They
deployed along the front of the City Hall. The rifle fire from both
ends of the street was rapid and continuous. It was the first time in
my life that I had ever been in danger of being killed by a bullet. I
confess that for a few minutes I was so nervous that I was unable to
give any attention to the fighting going on in front of me. So many
rifles were going off at the far end of the street that it seemed
certain that not only Bland and I but every one of Bob's men must
necessarily die at once. To my very great surprise I was not hit. My
nervousness began to disappear. I peered out of the window and noticed
that none of Bob's men were either killed or wounded.
I suppose, I said to Bland, that this is a regular battle. You've
had some experience so you ought to know.
Oh yes, said Bland, it's a battle right enoughof sorts.
A bullet snicked through the window glass above my head and buried
itself in the wall at the far end of the room. I looked at the
volunteers again. They did not seem to be suffering. I took a glance at
the soldiers at the far end of the street. The firing did not seem even
to annoy them.
There seems to me, I said, to be very little damage done. Don't
they usually kill each other in battles?
The shooting's damned bad, said Bland, damned bad on both sides.
I never saw worse. I wonder if they mean to shoot straight.
Bob's men, I think, were doing their best; but they were certainly
making very bad practice. It did not seem to me that during the first
twenty minutes they hit a single living thing except the four dragoon
horses. The walls of the houses on both sides of the street were filled
with bullet marks. A curious kind of shallow furrow appeared about
halfway down the street. At first it seemed a mere line drawn on the
ground. Then it deepened into a little trench with a ridge of dust
There must be a ton or two of good bullets buried there, said
Bland. They haven't sighted for the distance.
I don't blame the volunteers, I said, but the soldiers really
ought to shoot better. A lot of money is spent on that army every year,
and if they can't hit a single enemy at that distance
I rather think, said Bland, that the soldiers are firing up into
the air on purpose. That bullet which came through our window is the
only one which hit anything. It's shocking waste of ammunition.
The door of the reading-room opened behind me. I turned and saw Sir
Samuel Clithering. He staggered into the room and looked deadly white.
For a moment I thought he must be blind. He plunged straight into a
table which stood in the middle of the room in front of him.
My God! My God! he cried.
Then he was violently sick. He must have got into the club somehow
from the back. I went over to him, intending to get him out of the room
before he was sick again. He clutched my arm and held me tight.
Stop it, he said. Stop it. Promise them anything, anything at
all; only get them to stop.
I did not quite know what Clithering wanted me to do. It seemed
absurd to go down to Bob Power and offer, on behalf of the Government,
to introduce amendments into the Home Rule Bill. Yet something of the
sort must have been in Clithering's mind when he urged me to promise
anything. He probably had some vague idea of consulting the wishes of
the electorate. That is the sort of thing Clithering would think of
doing in an emergency.
It's horrible, too horrible, he said. Oh God! Bloodshed!
Cheer up, I said, I don't think a single man on either side has
been hit yet.
I say, said Bland from the window, did the soldiers get orders to
fire over the people's heads?
Yes, said Clithering. Strict orders. The Cabinet was unanimous.
The Prime Minister telegraphed this morning.
Rather rough on the peaceable inhabitants of the town, said Bland,
the men who have kept out of the battle. I suppose you forgot that
bullets come down again somewhere.
I was in one of the back streets, wailed Clithering, far away
Exactly, said Bland, it's just in back streets that those things
It was a woman, said Clithering, a girl with a baby in her arms.
I did not know what had happened. I ran over to her. She and the
babyboth of them. I shall never forget it. Oh!
Then he was sick again. Clithering is a highly civilized man. I
suppose one must be highly civilized if one is to keep pace with the
changing fashions in stockings. It was out of what is called Fancy
Hosiery that Clithering made most of his money. I felt very sorry for
him, but his performances were making me feel sick too. I joined Bland
again at the window.
They've got a machine gun, said Bland. Things will get brisker
I looked out anxiously and saw with a sense of relief that it was
Bob's side which had got the new gun. McConkey and his assistants had
turned up from somewhere and were dragging their weapon into position
under the window of a large jeweller's shop on the left flank of Bob's
firing line. This was bad enough. In street fighting at close quarters
a gun of this kind is very murderous and ought to do a terrible amount
of destruction. But things would have been much worse if the soldiers
had had it. They, I suppose, would have known how to use it. I doubted
McConkey's skill in spite of his practice on the slob lands below the
The soldiers will have to shoot in earnest now, said Bland. If
that fellow can handle his gun he'll simply mow them down.
It looked at first, I am bound to say, as if McConkey had really
mastered his new trade. He got his weapon into position and adjusted a
belt of cartridges, working as coolly as if he were arranging the
machinery of the Green Loaney Scutching Mill. He seemed to find a
horrible satisfaction in what he was doing. Twice I saw him pat the
muzzle of the thing as if to give it encouragement. I dare say he
talked to it.
He's damned cool, said Bland. I've seen fellows who'd been
fighting for months not half so
Then McConkey started his infernal machine. The effect was most
surprising. Two tramcars, which were standing close to the far end of
the street, simply disappeared. There was a kind of eruption of
splintered wood, shattered glass and small fragments of metal. When
that subsided there was no sign of there ever having been tramcars in
that particular spot. McConkey evidently noticed that he had not aimed
his pet quite straight. He stopped it at once.
An officerI think it was Bob's friend Hendersonsprang to his
feet at the far end of the street and ran along the line of soldiers
shouting an order.
They'll begin in earnest now, said Bland. Why doesn't he rattle
them again with the gun?
McConkey had the best will in the world, but something had gone
wrong with his gun; it was a complicated machine, and he had evidently
jammed some part of it. I saw him working frenziedly with a large iron
spanner in his hand; but nothing he could do produced the least effect.
It would not go off.
In the meantime Henderson's soldiers stood up and stopped firing.
The volunteers stopped firing too. The soldiers formed in a line. There
was silence in the street for a moment, dead silence. I could hear
McConkey's spanner ringing against the iron of his gun. Then Bob Power
They're going to charge us. Up, boys, and come on! We'll meet them
They're all gone mad together, said Bland. You can't charge down
magazine rifles. It's impossible.
It seems to me, I said, that if this battle is ever to be
finished at all they'll have to get at each other with their fists. So
far weapons have been a total failure.
Clithering crawled across the room while we were speaking and
clutched me by the legs. I do not think it was fear of the bullets
which made him crawl. He had been so very sick that he was too weak to
What's happening? he said. For God's sake tell me. Are there many
No one yet on this side, I said. There may be a few soldiers hit,
but I don't suppose you mind about them. There's just going to be a
charge. Get up and you'll be able to see it.
Clithering caught the edge of the window-sash and dragged himself to
his feet. He was just in time to see Bob's men rush along the street.
They did not charge in any sort of order. They simply spread out and
ran as fast as they could, as fast as I ever saw men run. Some of them
took their rifles with them. Others, evidently agreeing with me that
they would do more destruction with their fists, left their rifles
behind. They covered fifty or sixty yards, and were still going fast
when they discovered that the soldiers were not waiting for them.
Henderson walked alongside the leading men of the column with his
ridiculously long sword in his hand. Two mounted officers brought up
the rear. Two men, with their rifles sloped over their shoulders,
marched briskly across the end of the street. In the middle of the
column were eight stretchers carried along. Bob's men, in spite of
their bad shooting, had wounded that number of their enemies. I found
out afterwards that they had killed three others outright. The
discipline of the British army must be remarkably good. In spite of
this heavy loss the soldiers obeyed orders, and steadily refrained from
trying to kill Bob's men. Their final disappearance was a crowning
proof of their obedience. I watched this body of infantry march out of
sight into the next street. They were not running away. They were not
even retreating. They gave me the impression of having stopped the
battle in a way that was quite customary because it was time for them
to do something elseget some dinner perhaps.
This performance produced, as might be expected, a most
disconcerting effect upon Bob's warriors. They stopped running and
stared at their departing foes. Then they turned round and gaped at
each other. Then they applied to Bob Power for information. They wanted
to know, apparently, whether they had gained a great and glorious
victory, or were to regard the departure of the enemy as some subtle
kind of strategy. Bob seemed as much puzzled as every one else. Even
Bland, in spite of his experience of battles in two great wars, was
Well, I'm damned, he said.
Thank God, thank God! said Clithering.
Then he crumpled up and fainted. He meant, I think, to express the
relief he felt at the cessation of hostilities. He had not heard, or if
he heard, had not heeded, Bland's remark. Clithering is not the type of
man to thank God for any one's damnation, and he had no special dislike
I'm damned, said Bland again.
I suppose, I said, that it's rather unusual in battles to do that
sort of thingmarch off, I meanwithout giving some sort of notice to
the other side. It strikes me as rather bad form. There ought to be a
rule against it.
Bob's men returned, sheepishly and dejectedly, to their original
posts. Crossan was arguing with McConkey about the condition of the
machine gun. The young man who had taken off his coat before the battle
picked it up from the ground, brushed it carefully, and put it on. Bob
Power walked along the street with a note-book in his hands. He
appeared to be writing down the names of the shop-keepers whose windows
were broken. He is a young man of active and energetic disposition. I
suppose he felt that he must do something.
Bland stared through the window for some time. He hoped, I dare say,
that the soldiers would come back, with reinforcements, perhaps with
artillery. At last he gave up this idea.
Let's have a drink, he said. We want one.
He turned abruptly and stumbled over Clithering, who had fallen just
beside him. I got hold of a waiter, the only one left in the club, and
made him bring us a whisky and soda. Bland squirted the syphon into
Clithering's face, and I poured small quantities of whisky into his
mouth. Clithering is a rigid teetotaller, and has for years been
supporting every Bill for the suppression of public houses which has
been brought before Parliament. The whisky which he swallowed revived
him in the most amazing way.
Have they gone? he asked.
If you mean the soldiers, said Bland, they have. I can't imagine
why, but they have.
I telegraphed to the Prime Minister, said Clithering. It was
hours and hours ago. Or was it yesterday? It was just before I saw the
woman shot. I told him thatthat the soldiersthey were only meant to
overawe the peoplenot to kill themI said the soldiers must be
withdrawn to barracksI said they must not be allowed
I do not know whether it was exhaustion after nervous strain or the
whisky which affected Clithering. Whiskyand he had swallowed nearly a
glassfuldoes produce striking effects upon teetotallers; so it may
have been the whisky. Clithering turned slowly over on his side and
went sound asleep. Bland and I carried him upstairs to a bedroom on the
top storey of the club. There were, Bland said, three bullets buried in
the mattress, so it was fortunate that we had not carried Clithering up
earlier in the day.
Let's get the waiter, said Bland, if he hasn't gone away, and
tell him to undress this fool!
It's hardly necessary to undress him, is it?
Better to, said Bland, and take away his clothes. Then he'll have
to stay there, and won't be able to send any more telegrams.
It's rather a good thing he sent that last one, I said. If he
hadn't, somebody would certainly have been killed in the charge.
I suppose that telegram accounts for it, said Bland. I mean for
the behaviour of the soldiers. Orders sent straight from Downing
Street. I say, what a frightful temper the Commanding Officer must be
in this minute! I wonder if I could get an interview with him.
He looked questioningly at me. I fancy he hoped that I would give
him a letter of introduction to the General in command of the district.
His language, said Bland, would be a tremendous scoop for me.
No, I said, I couldn't. I don't know him, and even if I did
Oh, well, said Bland, it can't be helped. And, any way, I dare
say I shouldn't have been able to get my telegram through. The wires
are sure to be blocked.
I looked at my watch and found that it was three o'clock. The battle
had lasted more than two hours.
I had no idea, I said to Bland, that fighting was such
interesting work. The time has flown.
I'm uncommonly hungry, said Bland. Let's try and find something
When he mentioned the subject of eating I found that I too was very
hungry. I felt, however, that it was scarcely right, certainly it was
not suitable to sit down to luncheon in a club while a revolution was
in full swing under the windows. People ought to be serious immediately
Oughtn't we to be doing something? I asked.
Well, I don't know. Seeing after the wounded, perhaps.
Attending to wounded men is properly speaking work for women; but
both Lady Moyne and Marion were in London.
There are sure to be a few somewhere, I said. They've been
fighting all over the town, and I don't suppose the soldiers were as
careful everywhere else as they were here.
Are you a surgeon as well as a lord? asked Bland.
Oh no. I don't know anything about surgery. My idea
Then I expect the wounded, if there are any, would rather you left
them alone. Besides, a town like this must have hundreds of doctors in
it. They'll all be out after the wounded by this time as keen as
vultures. It isn't every day that an ordinary practitioner gets the
chance of gouging out bullets. They wouldn't let you interfere with
their sport even if you paid them. There won't, as a matter of fact, be
nearly enough wounded to go round the profession. They'd hate to have
an amateur chipping in. Let's forage about a bit and get some food.
It was not very easy to find food in the club, and the only
surviving waiter was still undressing Clithering. But Bland is a good
forager. He found two dressed crabs somewhere, and then came upon a
game pie. I let him have the dressed crabs all to himself. He is a much
younger man than I am and is a war correspondent. He ought to be able
to digest anything.
I fully intended to eat three helpings of game pie, for I was very
hungry; but before I had finished the first of them I was interrupted.
Crossan stalked into the room. He was the last man I wanted to see. His
appearance and manner are, at the best of times, tragic. Clithering had
been with me, off and on, most of the day, so I had got rather tired of
I think it right to inform your lordship, said Crossan, that Mr.
Godfrey D'Aubigny has just been arrested in the streets.
Good! I said. I hope that whoever has him won't let him go.
He's to be tried by court martial, said Crossan, on suspicion of
being a spy.
Godfrey actually haunts me. No sooner have I achieved a moment's
peace and quietnesswith the greatest difficulty in the middle of a
rebellionthan Godfrey breaks in on me. How he came to be in Belfast I
could only dimly guess. It seemed likely that, having heard that a
battle was going on, he came to the scene of it in the hope of pillage.
I suppose, I said, they won't actually hang him?
It was him, as your lordship is aware, said Crossan, that gave
the first information to the Government.
Crossan, in spite of the fact that he was a victorious general,
preserved his peculiar kind of respect for my title. He did not,
indeed, take off his hat when he entered the room, but that was only
because soldiers, while on duty, never take off their hats.
Don't be absurd, Crossan, I said. You know perfectly well that he
hasn't intelligence enough to give anything but wrong information to
any Government. What he told the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he
wrote to him was that you were smuggling.
If your lordship doesn't care to interfere, said Crossan.
Can I help in any way? said Bland.
He had been eating steadily and had finished the two crabs. I had
not eaten more than three or four mouthfuls of game pie. I felt I might
accept his offer.
If you've any experience of courts martial, I said, I
haven'tand if you really don't mind trotting off
Not a bit, said Bland. In fact a court martial would be rather a
scoop for me. I'm sure the public would want to know how it's run.
I shall feel greatly obliged to you, I said. The fact is that a
nephew of mine is going to be hanged as a spy. You said you were going
to hang him, didn't you, Crossan?
I think it likely, my lord, said Crossan.
Of course, I said, he richly deserves it; and so far as my own
personal feelings go I should be very glad if he were hanged. But, of
course, he's my nephew and people might think I'd been unkind to him if
I made no effort to save him. One must consider public opinion more or
less. So if you could arrange to rescue him
While I was speaking Clithering shambled into the room. He was
wearing a suit of pyjamas not nearly big enough for him. The waiter who
put him to bed was quite a small man. The pyjamas must have been his.
He asked us to find his clothes for him, and said that he wanted to go
to the post-office.
I must send a telegram to the Prime Minister, he said. I must
send it at once.
Crossan eyed him very suspiciously.
It strikes me, said Bland, that if you're caught sending
telegrams to the Prime Minister you'll be hanged too.
They're just going to hang a nephew of mine, I explained, for
writing a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. You can see for
yourself that a telegram to the Prime Minister is much worse. I really
think you'd better stay where you are.
But Clithering was, unfortunately, in a mood of hysterical heroism.
He said that he did not value his life, that lives were only given to
men in order that they might lay them down, and that the noblest way of
laying down a life was in the service of humanity.
I could see that Crossan was getting more and more suspicious every
It is in order to save the lives of others, he said, that I want
to send my telegram to the Prime Minister.
Crossan actually scowled at Clithering. I expected that he would
arrest him at once. There might have been, for all I knew, a Committee
of Public Safety sitting in the Town Hall. I could imagine Crossan
hauling the unfortunate Clithering before it on a charge of
communicating with the Prime Minister. I could imagine Clithering,
heroic to the last, waving his incriminating telegram in the faces of
his judges. Bland saved the situation.
Come along, Colonel, he said. Show me where that court martial of
yours is sitting. Lord Kilmore will restrain this lunatic till we get
Crossan may have been pleased at being addressed as Colonel. Or he
may have trusted that I would prevent any telegram being sent to the
Prime Minister. At all events, he stopped scowling at Clithering and
went off with Bland. I offered Clithering some of the game pie, but he
refused to touch it. He sat down at a corner of the table and asked me
to lend him a pencil and some paper. I did so, and he composed several
long telegrams. The writing evidently soothed him. When he had finished
he asked me quite calmly whether I thought he would really be hanged if
he went to the post-office. I was not at all sure that he would not.
Clithering sighed when he heard my opinion. Then he sat silent for a
long time, evidently trying to make up his mind to the hanging.
If I could get the telegram through first, he said at last, I
shouldn't so much mind
But you wouldn't, I said; and what is the good of throwing away
your life without accomplishing anything?
It's terrible, said Clithering, terrible.
It was terrible, of course; but I was beginning to get tired of
Clithering. Besides, he looked very ridiculous in pyjamas which only
reached halfway down his legs and arms.
Don't you think, I said, that it would be better for you to go
back to bed? You'll be safe there, and it won't really matter much
whether your telegram goes to the Prime Minister or not. A little sleep
will do you all the good in the world.
We have murdered sleep, said Clithering.
I never realized the full immensity of Clithering's fatuousness
until he uttered that mangled quotation from Macbeth in the tone of an
old-fashioned tragedian. I believe the man actually revelled in
harrowing emotion. It would not have surprised me to hear him assure me
that the multitudinous seas would not wash out the blood-stains from
his hands. He might very well have asked for some sweet oblivious
antidote. If he had known the passages I am sure he would have quoted
Do go to bed, I said.
Then Bland came in leading Godfrey with him.
I rescued him, said Bland, without very much difficulty.
I call it frightful cheek, said Godfrey, fellows like that who
ought to be touching their hats to me and saying 'Sir' when they speak
to meFancy them daring
This view of the matter was very characteristic of Godfrey. I really
believe that he would dislike being hanged much less if the executioner
were one of the small class of men whom he recognizes as his social
They gave him quite a fair trial, said Bland, and had just
condemned him when
That fellow Crossan in particular, said Godfrey.
The Colonel ran round to tell you, said Bland. I rather fancy
they wanted to get off carrying out the sentence if they could.
A lot of fellows, said Godfrey sulkily, who ought to be wheeling
barrows! But it's very largely your fault, Excellency. You always
encouraged that class. If you'd kept them in their proper places
What on earth brought you to Belfast? I said. Why didn't you stay
at home? Nobody wants you here. Why did you come?
Godfrey looked uneasily at Bland. He evidently did not want to make
his reason for coming to Belfast public property. Godfrey is usually
quite shameless. I could only imagine that he had done something of a
peculiarly repulsive kind.
Well, I said, why did you come?
He looked at Bland again, and then nodded sideways at me.
I suppose, I said, that you thought there might be some
assessment made by the Government of the amount of damage done in the
town, and that if you started valuing things at once on your own hook,
you might possibly get a job out of it.
But is there? said Godfrey eagerly; for if there is
So far as I know there isn't, I said.
Anyhow it wasn't that which brought me to Belfast. The fact is,
Excellency, I couldn't very well stay at home. You remember,here his
voice sunk to a whisperwhat I told you about the Pringles.
Your bank account?
No. Not that. The girl, I mean. Tottie Pringle.
Oh yes, I remember.
Well, old Pringle began to get offensive. He seemed to think that I
ought toyou know.
Marry her? I expect you ought.
Excellency? said Godfrey in genuine horror and amazement.
By the way, said Bland, I forgot to mention that I promised the
court martial to get your nephew out of Belfast before to-morrow
morning. I hope you don't mind. They wouldn't let him go on any other
Quite right, I said. Godfrey shall start to-night.
I don't see why I should, said Godfrey. I don't think it's at all
nice of you, Excellency, to
And while we're at it, I said, we may as well ship off
Clithering. Godfrey let me introduce you to
I looked round and discovered that Clithering was not in the room.
I hope to goodness, I said, that he's not gone out to get himself
hanged. He rather wanted to a few minutes ago.
It's all right, said Bland. I saw him going upstairs. I expect
he's looking for his clothes.
Godfrey, I said. I'm going to offer you a great chance. Sir
Samuel Clithering is in every way a very big man. In the first place
he's very rich. In the next place he's on intimate terms with the Prime
Minister. In fact he's been sending him telegrams every hour or so for
the last two days. You go upstairs and help him to find his clothes.
Then take him over to London. The Fleetwood steamer is still running.
If you can get him out of Belfast and lay him down safe and sound on
his own doorstep the Government will be so grateful that they'll very
likely make you a stipendiary magistrate.
But supposing he doesn't want to go?
You'll have to make him, I said.
How? said Godfrey. How can I?
Don't be a fool, Godfrey, I said. Nag at him. You've got more
than two hours before you, and nagging is a thing you're really good
Bland took Godfrey by the arm and led him up to Clithering's
bedroom. He locked them in together, and did not open the door again
until half an hour before the steamer started. Then he took up
Clithering's clothes to him. Godfrey had evidently spent the time as I
advised. Clithering deserved it, of course; but he certainly looked as
if he had been through a bad time when Bland let him out.
There was a meeting of the Ulster Defence Committee at seven
o'clock. It was summoned, so the notice which I received informed me,
in order to make arrangements for preserving the peace of the town.
This, I thought, was very proper work for the committee. The Cabinet
was probably making other arrangements with the same object. Between
them the committee and the Government had destroyed what little peace
Belfast ever had. The least they could do was to restore it.
Moyne took the chair as usual. He opened our proceedings by saying
firmly and decisively, that he intended to surrender himself at once to
We're the only authorities there are at present, said McNeice, so
if you want to surrender
We must resolve ourselves into a Provisional Government, said the
Dean, who always likes to do things constitutionally.
The police, said Moyne feebly.
There aren't any, said McNeice.
Wiped out, said Malcolmson.
The General in command of the troops said Moyne.
The troops are shut up in their barracks, said McNeice.
Licked, said Malcolmson.
Say, said Conroy, are you dead sure you whipped them?
They bolted, said Malcolmson.
I don't reckon to be a military expert, said Conroy, but it kind
of occurs to me that those troops weren't doing all they knew. I don't
say but you're quite right to boost your men all you can; but we'll
make a big mistake if we start figuring on having defeated the British
I happen to know, I said, that Mr. Conroy is quite right.
That spaniel! said McNeice.
He told me, I said, that the troops had orders to fire over our
men's heads. The idea, I think, was not so much to injure as to overawe
It was a damned foolish idea, said McNeice sulkily.
You cannot, said the Dean, overawe the men of Ulster.
This is one of the Dean's most cherished opinions. I have heard him
express it a great many times. I do not know whether the Dean had
actually been fighting during the afternoon. I am sure he wanted to;
but he may have considered it his duty to do no more than look on. Our
Dean is particularly strong on Old Testament history. I am sure he
recollected that Moses sat on the top of an adjacent hill while Joshua
was fighting the Amalekites.
If you want to surrender yourself, said Conroy to Moyne, I reckon
you'll have the chance of handing yourself over to a British Admiral
Have you any reason to suppose that the Fleet? said Moyne.
We're ready for them, said Malcolmson. If the Government thinks
it can force Home Rule on Ulster with the guns of the Channel Fleet,
it's making a big mistake. It'll find that out before long.
If you like, Lord Moyne, said Conroy, we'll put you under arrest
and then nobody will be able to hold you responsible afterwards for
anything that happens. You'll be quite safe.
Whatever Moyne's motives may have been in wishing to surrender
himself, I am perfectly sure that a desire for his own safety was not
one of them. I imagine that he hoped, in a confused and troubled way,
to get himself somehow on the side of law and order again. Moyne was
never meant to be a rebel.
Conroy's words were insulting, intentionally so, I think. He wished
to get rid of Moyne before the committee discussed the defence of
Belfast against the Fleet. He may have wished to get rid of me too. He
succeeded. Moyne is not nearly so thorough-going a patrician as his
wife; but he has sufficient class pride to dislike being insulted by a
millionaire. He got up and left the room. He looked so lonely in his
dignified retirement that I felt I ought to give him such support as I
could. I rose too, took his arm, and went out with him.
People who organize and carry through revolutions generally begin by
cutting the telegraph wires, with a view to isolating the scene of
action. I cannot help thinking that this is a mistake. We kept our
telegraph offices open day and night, and I am strongly of opinion that
we gained rather than lost by our departure from the established ritual
of revolutions. The news which came to us from England was often
encouraging, and generally of some value. Nor do I think that the
Government gained any advantage over us by the messages which
Clithering as their agent, or Bland and others in their capacity of
public entertainers, sent from Belfast to London.
When Moyne and I got back to our hotel we found two long telegrams
and one short one waiting for us. The first we opened was from Lady
Moyne. She had, it appeared, spent a very strenuous day. She caught the
Prime Minister at breakfast in his own house, and probably spoiled his
appetite. She ran other members of the Cabinet to earth at various
times during the day. One unfortunate man she found playing a mixed
foursome on a suburban golf links. She impressed upon him, as she had
upon all his colleagues the appalling wickedness of shooting the
citizens of Belfast. Every one, it appeared, agreed with her on this
point. The Government's policy, so they told her and she told us, was
to cow, not to kill, the misguided people who were rioting in Belfast.
She besought Moyne to use all his influence to moderate the anti-Home
Rule enthusiasm of Malcolmson and the Dean.
Moyne smiled in a sickly way when we came to this advice.
The other long telegram was from Babberly. I must say that Babberly
at this crisis displayed immense energy and something like political
genius. Having been all his life a strong Conservative, and a supporter
of force as a remedy for every kind of social unpleasantness, he turned
a most effective somersault and appealed suddenly to the
anti-militarist feelings of the Labour Party. He succeededI cannot
even imagine howin organizing a mass meeting in Trafalgar Square to
protest against the murder of the working-men of Belfast in the streets
of their own city, by the hired mercenaries of the capitalist classes.
The meeting was actually engaged in making its protest while Moyne and
I were reading the telegrams. Babberly's case was really
extraordinarily strong. Soldiers were shooting off guns in Belfast, and
the people they fired ator as we knew, fired overwere working-men.
There was occasion for a strong and eloquent appeal to the sentiment of
the solidarity of labour. Babberly was just the man to make it with the
utmost possible effectiveness. I pictured him perched on the head of
one of the British lions which give its quite peculiar dignity to
Trafalgar Square, beseeching a crowd of confused but very angry men not
to allow the beast to open its mouth or show its teeth. I could easily
imagine that the news of Babberly's exertions, dribbling in during the
day to the offices of harassed Ministers, might have reinforced with
grave political considerations the hysterical humanitarian telegrams
which Clithering was shooting off from the seat of war. A Tory
Government might survive a little bloodshed. A Liberal Government
convicted of having incited a soldier to shoot a working-man would be
in a perilous position.
I must say, I said, that Babberly is infernally clever. I don't
quite know where he'll find himself afterwards, but
What does it matter about afterwards? said Moyne, if only we get
out of the mess we're in, nothing that happens afterwards need trouble
us in the least.
If this meeting of his is really a success, I said, we may feel
pretty confident that there'll be no more shooting anyhow.
The next telegram, the short one, rather dashed our hopes of
immediate peace. It was from Lady Moyne.
The Channel Fleet, she said, has been ordered to Belfast Lough.
Expected to arrive to-morrow morning. Advise unconditional surrender.
Moyne is very fond of his wife, and has a sincere admiration for her
abilities; but on the receipt of this telegram he lost his temper.
What on earth, he said, is the use of advising unconditional
surrender when Conroy and Malcolmson are engaged at this moment in
making plans for sinking the Fleet with rifles?
I quite agree with you, I said. There's no kind of use our going
to them again. But I don't expect they're relying entirely on rifles.
Malcolmson always said he understood explosives. He may be laying
submarine mines opposite Carrickfergus.
Lady Moyne's telegram was not the only warning we received of the
approaching visit of the Channel Fleet. Our system of leaving the
telegraph wires intact proved to be an excellent one. Everybody in
Belfast learnt that the Fleet was coming. Everybody, so far as I could
learn, received the news with joy. Bland was tremendously excited. He
called on me next morning, and invited me to go with him to see the
British Fleet in action. He had been up very early and found a place,
so he said, from which we could have a capital view of the bombardment
of the town.
I've got two pairs of field-glasses, he said, Zeiss prism
binoculars. We'll see the whole show capitally.
Was there much other looting last night? I asked.
There was none, said Bland. I hired the glasses. I got them for
five shillings. Cheap, I call it; but the optician who owned them
seemed to think they'd be safer if I had them than they would be in his
shop. More out of the way of shells, I expect.
Moyne refused to come with us. He still cherished the hope of being
able to surrender himself during the day to some one in recognizable
authority. Bland and I set out together.
We hurried along High Street, past the Albert Memorial and crossed
the bridge to the south side of the river. The streets were full of
volunteers, marching about, all in the highest spirits. The prospect of
being shelled by the Fleet did not frighten them in the least. Having,
as they believed, defeated the Army the day before, it seemed quite a
simple matter to deal with the battleships.
We made our way along the quays, passed through a shipbuilding yard,
deserted by its workers, and came to a long muddy embankment which
stretched out on the south side of the channel leading into the
harbour. On the end of this embankment was a small wooden lighthouse.
That's our spot, said Bland. I've got the key of the door.
I will always say for Bland that he has the true instinct of a war
correspondent. From the top of our tower we saw the Fleet far out in
the offing. There were not nearly so many ships as I expected. I
counted seven; disagreeable looking monsters with smoke pouring out of
their funnels. They were too far off for us to see much of them even
with the aid of our excellent glasses; but what I did see I did not
like. Fighting against men requires courage, no doubt, especially when
they have magazine rifles. But men are after all flesh and blood.
Fighting against vast iron machines seems to me a much more terrifying
thing. I wondered whether Malcolmson were also watching the ships and
whether he were any more inclined than he had been the night before to
While I was gazing out to sea, Bland tapped me on the arm and drew
my attention to the fact that a company of volunteers was marching out
along our muddy causeway. They were Bob Power's men and they came along
whistling The Protestant Boys, a tune which makes an excellent
quick-step march. They had spades with them as well as rifles, and they
set to work at once to entrench themselves.
They're going to dispute a landing, said Bland, but I don't see
what use that is. The Fleet can shell the whole place into ruins in two
hours without coming within range of their riflesandhowever we'll
see. The fellow who's running this revolutionConroy, isn't it?may
have something up his sleeve.
One of the battleships detached herself from her fellows and steamed
rapidly into the Lough. Opposite Carrickfergus her engines were
stopped, and she turned slowly in a half circle till she lay broadside
on to us. I could see her distinctly, and I confess that the look of
her terrified me.
Cleared for action, said Bland.
A boat was lowered, a steam launch. In a minute or two she was
speeding towards us, her white ensign trailing astern. Bob Power stood
up outside his entrenchment and peered at her. As she drew closer we
could see behind the shelter hood, the young officer who steered her.
As she swerved this way and that, following the windings of the
channel, we caught glimpses of a senior officer, seated in the stern
sheets. Pushing through the calm water at high speed she threw up great
waves from her bows. Her stern seemed curiously deep in the water. When
she was almost abreast of our lighthouse Bob hailed her. Her engines
were stopped at once. A sailor with a boathook in his hand sprang into
her bow and stood there motionless while the boat glided on. I could
see the young officer who steered gazing curiously at Bob's
entrenchments. Then the senior officer stood up.
An Admiral, said Bland.
He hailed Bob.
Are you in command here? he said.
As he spoke the launch stopped abreast of the entrenchments and lay
motionless in the water.
I am in command of this detachment, said Bob.
Then, said the Admiral, you are to lay down your arms at once.
You'd better come ashore, said Bob, and see our commanding
officer if you want to make terms with us.
The Admiral flushed. He was quite close to us and we could see his
face distinctly. He looked as if he wanted to say something explosive.
The idea of being invited to make terms with rebels was evidently very
objectionable to him. I suppose he must have had strict and binding
orders from somebody. He did not say any of the things he wanted to.
The launch's propeller gave a few turns in the water. Then the boat
slipped up to the shore. The sailor with the boathook held her fast
while the Admiral stepped out of her. Bob received him most
courteously. The Admiral glared at Bob. The riflemen, crouched behind
their mud bank, scowled at the Admiral. The young officer in the launch
gave an order and his boat was pushed off from the shore. Bob and the
Admiral walked off together towards the town.
For an hour and a half the launch lay opposite us in the middle of
the channel. Occasionally, as the ebbing tide carried her down, she
steamed a little and regained her position opposite the entrenchments.
Bob's men, realizing that there would be no shooting till the Admiral
returned, rose from their trench. They strolled about the embankment,
chatted, smoked, stared at the launch, stared at the battleship from
which she came, and peered at the more distant fleet which lay hull
down far out towards the entrance of the lough.
Unless Mr. Conroy has some game on that we know nothing about,
said Bland, he'd better climb down and make the best terms he can.
I think that Bland was nervous. He made that remark or others like
it several times while we were waiting for the Admiral's return. I
candidly confess that I was more than nervous. I was desperately
frightened. I am not, I hope, a coward. I believe that I was not afraid
of being killed, but I could not take my eyes off the great iron ship
which lay motionless, without a sign of life about her, a black,
menacing monster on the calm water of the lough. I was seized,
obsessed, with a sense of her immense power. She would destroy and slay
with a horrible, unemotional, scientific deliberation.
Conroy had better surrender, said Bland. He can't expect
He won't surrender, I said; and if he wanted to, the men would
not let him.
Damn it, said Bland. He must. I've seen war, and I tell you he
At last the Admiral returned. Bob was with him, and was evidently
trying to make himself agreeable. He was chatting. Occasionally he
laughed. The Admiral was entirely unresponsive. When he got close
enough for us to see his face I saw that he looked perplexed and
miserable. I was miserable and frightened, but the Admiral looked
Behind them there was an immense crowd of people; men, armed and
unarmed, women, even children. It was a mere mob. There was no sign of
discipline among them. Some young girls, mill-workers with shawls over
their heads, pressed close on the Admiral's heels. Bob gave an order to
his men, and they drew up across the end of our embankment. Bob and the
Admiral passed through the line. The crowd stopped.
The launch drew to shore again. The Admiral stepped on board her,
and she steamed away.
The crowd hung around the end of our embankment. Some children began
chasing each other in and out among the men and women. A few girls went
down to the water's edge and threw in stones, laughing at the splashes
they made. Then a young man found an empty bottle and flung it far out
into the channel. Fifty or sixty men and women threw stones at it,
laughing when shots went wide, cheering when some well-aimed stone set
the bottle rocking. Further back from the water's edge young men and
girls were romping with each other, the girls crying shrilly and
laughing boisterously, the men catching them round their waists or by
their arms. It might have been a crowd out for enjoyment of a Bank
The launch reached the battleship, was hoisted and stowed on board.
Almost immediately a long line of signal flags fluttered from the squat
mast. Smoke began to pour from the funnels. The flags were hauled down
and another festoon of them was hoisted in their place. I could see an
answering stream of flags fluttering from one of the ships further out.
Then, very slowly, the great steamer began to move. She went at a
snail's pace, as it seemed to me, across the lough to the County Down
coast. Very slowly she swept round in a wide circle and steamed back
again northward. There was something terrifying in the stately
deliberation with which she moved. It was as if some great beast of
prey paced as a sentinel in front of his victim, so conscious of his
power to seize and kill that he could afford to wait before he sprang.
The crowd behind us was silent now. The laughter and the play had
ceased. Children were crowding round the women seeking for hands to
hold. Some of the women, vaguely terror-stricken, looked into the faces
of the men. Others had drawn a little apart from the rest of the crowd
and stood in a group by themselves, staring out at the battleship.
There were middle-aged women and quite young women in this group. I
raised my field-glasses and scanned their faces. There was one
expression on them, and only onenot fear, but hatred. Women fight
sometimes in citizen armies when such things have been called into
existence. But it is not their fighting power which makes them
important. That is, probably, always quite inconsiderable. What makes
them a force to be reckoned with in war is their faculty for hating.
They hate with more concentration and intensity than men do. These
women were mindful, perhaps, of the girl with the baby whom Clithering
had seen shot. They realized, perhaps, the menace for husbands, lovers,
and sons which lay in the guns of the black ironclad parading
sluggishly before their eyes. Remembering and anticipating death, they
hated the source of it with uncompromising bitterness. The men in the
crowd seemed crushed into silence by mere wonder and expectation of
some unknown thing. They were not, so far as I could judge, afraid.
They were not excited. They simply waited to see what was to happen to
them and their town.
Once more a string of flags fluttered from the ship's mast. Once
more the answer came from her consorts. Then for the third time she
swept round. We saw her foreshortened; then end on; then foreshortened
again as her other side swung into view. At that momentjust before
the whole length of her lay flat before our eyes she fired. At first I
scarcely realized that she had fired. There was a small cloud of white
smoke hanging over her near the bow. That was all for the moment. Then
came the horrible sound of the great projectile racing through the air.
Then it was past.
Some women in the crowd, a few, shrieked aloud. Some girls ran
wildly towards the town, driven, I suppose, to seek shelter of some
kind. Most of the crowd stood silent. Then from some young men who
stood together there came a kind of moaning sound. It gathered volume.
It, as it were, took shape. Voice after voice took it up. The whole
crowdmany hundreds of men and womensang together the hymn they had
all been singing for months past, O God, our help in ages past. I do
not know how far back towards the town the singing spread, but it would
not surprise me to hear that ten thousand voices joined in it.
Bland had his glasses raised. He was still gazing at the battleship.
A strange answer, I said, to make to the first shell of a
Yes, said Bland. It reminds me of a profane rhyme which I used to
'There was a young lady of Zion
Who sang Sunday-school songs to a lion.'
But hers, I should say, was the more sensible proceeding of the
I was not sure. It is just conceivableit seemed to me at that
moment even likelythat a hymn, sung as that one was, may be the most
effective answer to a big gun. There are only certain things which guns
can do. When they have destroyed life and ruined buildings their power
is spent. But the singing of hymns may, and sometimes does, render men
for a time at least, indifferent to the loss of their lives and the
ruin of their houses. Against men in the frame of mind which
hymn-singing induces the biggest guns are powerless. The original
singers fall, perhaps, but the spirit of their singing survives. For
each voice silenced by the bursting shells ten voices take up the song.
The battleship, after firing the gun, swung round and once more
slowly steamed across the lough. I waited, tense with excitement, for
her to turn again. At the next turn, I felt sure, another shell would
come. I was wrong. She turned, more slowly than ever as it seemed. No
white smoke issued from her. Again she steamed northwards. Again,
opposite Carrickfergus, close to the northern shore, she turned. Right
in front of her bows the water was suddenly broken. It was as if some
one had dropped a huge stone close to her. The spray of the splash must
have fallen on her fore deck.
My God! said Bland, they're firing at her. Look! From the hill
above the town.
I could not look. My eyes were on the ship as she slowly turned. Her
side came gradually into view. Then, quite suddenly and for no apparent
reason, she staggered. I saw her list over heavily, right herself
again, and steam on.
Hit! said Bland. Hit! Hit!
He danced beside me with excitement.
Two puffs of smoke hung over the ship's decks, one forward, one aft,
and blew clear again. But this time we heard no shrieking shells. She
was firing, not at the town, but at the guns on the hill which
threatened and wounded her. Then her signal flags ran up again. Before
the answer came from the other ships the sea was broken twice close to
her. I looked to see her stagger from another blow, heel over, perhaps
sink. Her speed increased. In a minute she was rushing towards us,
flinging white waves from her great bows. Then she swept round once
more. Fire as well as smoke poured from her funnels. She steamed
eastwards down the lough. We saw her join the other ships far out. She
and they lay motionless together.
The crowd behind us began to sing their hymn again.
Bland and I left our lighthouse and went back towards the town. We
passed Bob and his men in their trench but they scarcely noticed us. We
pushed our way through the crowd. We passed the shipbuilding yard, now
full of eager people, discussing the departure of the ship, canvassing
the possibility of her coming back again.
What guns have they on the Cave Hill? said Bland.
I don't know, I said. I did not know that they had any guns.
I wonder where they got them, said Bland. I wonder who has
command of them.
I could answer, or thought I could answer, both questions. As we
struggled through the crowds which thronged the quay I told Bland of
the visits of the Finola to our bay and of the piles of huge
packing-cases which Godfrey had shown me in the sheds behind the store.
But who fired them? said Bland. Who have you got who understands
them? Those were big guns.
Malcolmson, I said, always said he understood guns.
He does, said Bland. If he'd shot just the least shade better
he'd have sunk that ship.
On the bridge we met McConkey, sweating profusely, taking his
favourite weapon along at a rapid trot. He stopped when he saw us and
halted his breathless team.
I have her working again, he said, and she'll shoot the now.
You're too late, said Bland.
Is she sunken? said McConkey. Man o' man but I'm sorry for it. I
wanted sore to have a shot at her.
She's not sunk, said Bland, but she's gone. Steamed clean out of
range of your gun.
I'd have liked well to have got to her before she quit, said
McConkey. Did you hear tell what she did with that shell she fired
into the town?
No, I said. Did it kill many people?
Sorra the one, said McConkey. But I'll tell you what it did do.
His voice sank to a hoarse but singularly impressive whisper. It made
flitters of the statue of the old Queen that was sitting fornint the
City Hall. The like of thon is nice work for men that's wearing the
Bland burst into a sudden fit of boisterous laughter.
You may laugh if it pleases you, said McConkey, but I'm thinking
it's time for loyal men to be getting guns of their own when the
Government is that thick with rebels and Papishes that they'd go
shooting at the ould Queen who was always a decent woman, so she was,
and too good for the like of them.
McConkey's story was perfectly true. The solitary shell which was
fired into Belfast fell just outside the City Hall. It injured that
building a good deal; and it entirely destroyed the statue of Queen
Victoria. It is a curious evidence of the amazing loyalty of the people
of Belfast that many of them were more angry at this insult to Majesty
than they would have been if the shell had killed half a dozen
volunteers. McConkey was not by any means the only man who saw in the
accident evidence of an unholy alliance between the Liberal Government
and the men whom Babberly was accustomed to describe as Steeped to the
lips in treason.
Bland and I stood together outside the City Hall and surveyed the
shattered fragments of the statue. The shell must have exploded quite
close to it, and I was immensely impressed at first with the terrific
power of modern artillery. Then I began to think about the moral
effects of the bombardment, and I saw my way to helping Bland in his
profession. He had been very kind to me and very helpful. I wanted to
do him a good turn if I could.
This, I said, is a magnificent opportunity for you. You'll be
able to send off a telegram to your newspaper which will make your
fortune as a correspondent.
I don't see that, said Bland. If there'd been a little slaughter
I might have made something out of it. But a statue! Hang it all! One
statue is rather a poor bag for the British Fleet. The people are proud
of their navy. They've spent a lot of money on it, and they won't like
being told that it has hit nothing but a statue, after a long morning's
Bland had not grasped my idea. For a moment I was inclined to keep
it for my own use and work it up into an article when I got time. But
Bland deserved something from me. I resisted the temptation and gave
him the idea.
I wish, I said, that I were a special correspondent. I'd
Well, said Bland. What would you say?
I should take that New Zealander who stood on the broken arch of
Westminster Bridge and
Macaulay's, said Bland. I don't think that the public would stand
him again. He's played out.
Not in the way I mean to use him. I should, so to speak,
spiritualize him, and
Hold on a minute, said Bland.
He got out a note-book and a pencil and prepared to write.
Now, he said, go on.
Bland's expectant attitude, and the fact that he was evidently going
to take down what I said in shorthand, embarrassed me. When I write
essays I like to work deliberately and to correct carefully. I aim at a
polished elegance of style. I do not care for the kind of offhand
composition Bland asked for.
'Interview with a Revolutionary Peer,' said Bland, 'Lord Kilmore
on the Ulster Situation.' You were just going to say
Oh, nothing much. Only that the feelings of that New Zealander
Meditating on the ruins of a shattered civilization, said Bland.
I can put in that part myself.
Are nothing to yours I said.
Yours, said Bland.
Well, mine, if this must be an interview; but I'd rather you had
the whole credit.Are nothing to mine when I survey the vacant
pedestal of that statue. You catch the idea now?
No, said Bland. I don't. Is there one?
Yes, there is. These unrecognizable fragments of stone, the once
majestic statue, Ulster's loyalty.
Good, said Bland. I have it now. He began to write rapidly. 'To
the thoughtful mind there was something infinitely tragic in the
shattered statue of the great queen, symbol of the destruction of an
ideal. England bought the friendship of Nationalist Ireland at a heavy
price when the guns of her Fleet annihilated the loyalty of Ulster.'
That's your idea.
You've got it exactly, I said.
I'll send it off at once.
Yes. You'd better hurry. It's almost certain to occur to Babberly,
and the moment it does he'll put it into a speech. If he does, the
whole credit will go to him.
This impressed Bland. He hurried away towards the post-office. I
felt that I was not likely to get anything more out of the statue. I
put a small bit of it in my pocket to keep as a souvenir, and then
strolled along Donegal Place.
I met Crossan, who saluted me gravely.
The provisional Government, he said, desires your lordship's
presence in the City Hall.
I'm glad there's a provisional Government, I said. We want
something of the sort. Do you happen to know if I'm a member of it?
I've been looking for you, my lord, said Crossan, severely, for
over an hour, and there's no time to waste.
I hurried off. The Government, after driving off the British Fleet,
was likely to be in a good temper, but I did not wish to keep it
waiting for me too long.
When I entered the room I found Conroy, McNeice, Malcolmson, Cahoon
and the Dean seated at the table. Moyne was not there.
I congratulate you, gentlemen, I said, on the result of the naval
engagement. Malcolmson was perfectly magnificent. It was you, wasn't
I didn't see anything magnificent about it, said Malcolmson,
We're damned well sick of being played with, said McNeice.
If the English Government means to fight us said the Dean,
Do you mean to say, I said, that you think the Admiral was not in
earnest in that bombardment?
No more than the soldiers were yesterday, said McNeice. They
fired over our heads.
And we're not going to stand any more fooling, said Malcolmson.
We're business men, said Cahoon, and this sort of play-acting
won't do for Belfast.
Your boss politicians, said Conroy, have been flooding us out
There was a large pile of telegrams in front of him and some forty
or fifty loose sheets of flimsy yellow paper were scattered about the
Their notion, said Conroy, is that we should send a man over to
An ambassador, I said, Plenipotentiary?
Lord Moyne won't go, said the Dean.
He's the proper man, I said. Let's try to persuade him.
He's up at the barracks, said McNeice. He's been there all
morning trying to get the General to arrest him.
It would be far better, I said, if he went to London and handed
himself over to the Prime Minister.
European convention, said Conroy, makes it necessary, so I am
informed, that this particular kind of job should be done by a member
of your aristocracy.
I was, I think, with the exception of Moyne, the only member of the
House of Lords in Belfast at the moment. The committee had evidently
fixed on me as an ambassador.
There is, I said, a tradition that the Diplomatic Service should
bebut our circumstances are so very peculiarI am not sure that we
ought to feel bound
Will you go? said Conroy.
Of course, I'll go, I said. There's nothing I should like
The Finola is lying off Bangor, said Conroy. I'll run you
and Power down there in my motor. He'll land you wherever you like.
Good, I said. I suppose I'll go in my shirt with a rope round my
neck, like the burghers of Calais.
If that's the regular costume, said Conroy.
He spoke so severely that I thought I had better drop the subject of
Now, as to the terms which you are prepared to offer the
Government, I said.
We will not have Home Rule, said the Dean and Malcolmson together.
Of course not, I said. That will be understood at once. Shall I
demand Mr. Redmond's head on a charger? I don't suppose you want it,
but it's always well to ask for more than you mean to take. It gives
the other side a chance of negotiating.
All we ask, said McNeice, is that the English clear out of this
country, bag and baggage, soldiers, policemen, tax collectors, the
whole infernal crew, and leave us free hand to clean up the mess
they've been making for the last hundred years.
Either that, said Malcolmson, or fight us in earnest.
They'll clear out, of course, I said. If it's a choice between
that and fighting. But what about governing the country afterwards?
We'll do that, said Conroy, and if we can't do it better than
Oh, you will, I said. Anyhow, you can't do it worse. Butthere's
just one point more. What about the Lord Lieutenant?
I don't know that he matters any, said Conroy.
He doesn't, I said, not a bit. But he's there at present, and
some arrangement will have to be made about him.
If the Dublin people like airing their best clothes before an
imitation king, said Cahoon, let them. It won't matter to us.
This showed me that Cahoon, at least, has a statesman's mind. In
unessential matters he is ready to yield to the sentiments of his
I understand then, I said, that the Lord Lieutenant with the
purely ornamental part of the Viceregal staff is to be allowed to
remain on the condition that he givesshall we say eight balls and
eight dinner-parties every year?and that every other Englishman
leaves the country at once. Those are your terms.
And no more talk about Home Rule, said the Dean firmly.
Very well, I said, I'll start at once.
Bob Power was waiting for me in Conroy's motor when I had packed my
bag. The streets were very crowded as we drove through them, and the
people cheered us tremendously. It was the first time I had ever been
cheered, and I found the sensation agreeable. Besides cheering, the
crowd sang a great deal. Some one had composed a song especially for
the occasion, which had caught the fancy of the Belfast people, and
spread among them with wonderful rapidity. The tune, I am told, dates
from the days of the eighteenth-century volunteer movement.
Do you think I'm a fool
To put up with Home Rule?
For I'm not, as you'll quickly discover, discover.
For soldier and rebel
I'm equally able;
I'll neither have one nor the t'other, the t'other.
As poetry this is scarcely equal to Dr. Isaac Watts' version of the
ninetieth of David's psalms. The rhyme of rebel with able is
defective, and discover and other jar rather badly; but poets of
high reputation have done worse in times of patriotic excitement, and
the thing expressed the feelings of the Belfast people with perfect
accuracy. A better poet might very well have failed to understand them.
Bob and I made the sea-passage as short as possible by steaming to
Port Patrick. I spent an anxious half-hour while we passed through the
squadron of warships. Bob assured me that they would not do anything to
us. When I complained that they had a truculent and angry look about
them he said that that was nothing out of the common. All warships look
truculent. I dare say they do. Warfare has become much more civilized
and scientific than it used to be; but we cannot any of us afford as
yet to neglect the wisdom of the mediæval Chinese. They wore masks in
order to terrify their foes. Our battleships are evidently designed
with the same object.
I reached London next morning, and at once sent word to the Prime
Minister that I was ready to make a treaty with him. He sent Sir Samuel
Clithering to act as an intermediary. We met in the library of Moyne
House, which was neutral ground. Lady Moyne had been one of the
original syndicate which, so to speak, placed our insurrection on the
market. Her house was therefore friendly soil for me. She had
afterwards disassociated herself, more or less, from Conroy and
McNeice; while Moyne had been trying for two days to surrender himself.
The Prime Minister's ambassador could therefore go to Moyne House
without loss of dignity.
Clithering brought my nephew Godfrey with him.
Mr. D'Aubigny, he said, is acting for the present as one of my
Clithering is a man who accumulates private secretaries rapidly. It
would not have surprised me to hear that he had a dozen.
I brought him, Clithering went on, to take notes of our
conversation. I thought that you would prefer him to a stranger.
I should very much have preferred the young man from Toynbee Hall
who escorted Marion to the cathedral. I should, in fact, have preferred
any other private secretary. But I had not the heart to say so. The
experience of the last few days had softened me, and Godfrey looked
immensely pleased with himself. He had on a new frock coat, beautifully
cut, and a pair of trousers of an exquisite shade of grey. He also had
a pale mauve tie with a pearl pin in it.
Clithering began rather pompously. I dare say he really thought that
he was in a position to dictate terms.
I hope, he said, I sincerely hope that you fully realize the
extraordinary forbearance with which the Government has treated
Don't say rebellion, I said; we're thoroughly loyal men and
always have been.
Clithering hesitated. He wanted to say rebellion, but he remembered
that he was engaged in a game of diplomacy.
This émeute, he said at last.
French is, after all, a greater language than English. I could not
object to émeute. I should have objected to any English
description of our rising.
We might, said Clithering, have shot the people down. We might
have bombarded the town. I am sure that you realize that.
We realize it, I said, but we don't altogether appreciate it. In
fact, we feel that your way of conducting the war has been rather
insulting to us.
You don't mean to say, said Clithering, that you really wanted
ustoto shoot in earnest?
We did. In fact one of the alternatives which I am empowered to
Offer us! But wewe areI mean to say that the terms of
settlement must, of course, be dictated by us.
Not at all, I said. Godfrey, you can't write shorthand, I know;
but you must try and take down what I'm going to say now as accurately
as possible. I'll speak quite slowly. The GovernmentI mean, of
course, so far as Ulster is concerned, the late Governmentyour
Governmentmust either conduct the war in a proper business-like
wayhave you got that down, Godfrey?
Do you mean, said Clithering, that you want us?
I mean, I said, that we have put our money into it. Conroy, in
particular, has spent huge sums on cannons. We are determined to have a
show of some sort. Your Government must therefore either agree to fight
properly and not keep running away every time we get a shot in, or
Yes, said Clithering, go on.
I'm waiting, I said, till Godfrey gets that written down. Have
you finished, Godfrey? Very well. Ornow take this down carefullyyou
English clear out of Ireland altogether, every man of you, except
Butbutbut said Clithering.
And leave us to manage Ireland ourselves. Got that, Godfrey?
But, said Clithering; butI thought you didn't want Home Rule.
We don't. We won't have it at any price.
But that is Home Rule of the most extreme kind.
There's no use splitting hairs, I said, or discussing finicking
points of political nomenclature. The point for you to grasp is that
those are our terms.
Will you excuse me? said Clithering. This is all rather
surprising. May I call up the Prime Minister on the telephone?
Certainly, I said. I'm in no hurry. But be sure you put it to him
distinctly. I don't want to have any misunderstanding.
There was no telephone in the library of Moyne House. Clithering had
to ring for a servant who led him off to another room. Godfrey seized
the opportunity of his absence to confide in me.
Poor old Clithering is a bit of a bounder, he said. Makes
stockings, you know, Excellency. And Lady Clithering is a fat
vulgarian. It's all she can do to pick up her aitches. I shouldn't
think of stopping in their house if
If any one else would give you food and pocket money.
There's that, of course, said Godfrey. But what I was thinking of
is the daughter. There is a daughter and she ought to have a tidy
little pile. Now do you think it would be worth my while to marry into
a family like that for forty thou.? Clithering ought to run to forty
thou., with the title in sight. I wonder if you would mind sounding
At present, I said, I'm arranging about the fate of Belfast,
which is rather an important matter in some ways. But
Godfrey did not seem to care much about the fate of Belfast.
I suppose, he said, that it really is settled about Marion and
that fellow Power.
Quite, I said; they're to be married at once.
Then I think, Excellency, if you don't mind speaking to old
ClitheringI wouldn't like to commit myself until I was pretty sure of
the money. There's only one daughter, so he can hardly offer less than
I fully intended to tell Godfrey what I thought of him; but words
were not easy to find. I was still searching for a noun to go along
with damnable when Clithering came back. He seemed greatly excited.
The Prime Minister, he blurted out, is quite readyHe says he
has no objectionIn fact it's what we've been trying to do all along.
Our Home Rule Bill was simply an attempt
Do try to be coherent, I said. What did the Prime Minister say?
He said we'd leave Ireland with the greatest pleasure, said
Is that all?
Something in the way Clithering spoke made me think the Prime
Minister must have said more than that.
He added, said Clithering, that
Then he paused nervously.
Out with it, I said. It's far better to have no secrets. Godfrey,
take down the Prime Minister's words.
He added, said Clithering, that there is only one thing which
would please him better than to see the back of the last Irishman
leaving Westminster, and that is
Go on, I said.
To hear that at the end of three weeks you'd all torn each other to
pieces, and that there was nothing but a lot of trouser buttons left to
show that Ireland had ever been an inhabited country. Of course he
didn't mean it. If there was the least chance of any internecine strife
our conscience would not allow usafter all we have a duty, as
Englishmenbut there's no risk of bloodshed, is there, Lord Kilmore?
Not the slightest. I may take it then that your Government agrees
to our terms. You cart away your army and all your officials, except
the Lord Lieutenant. We want him. He's to give parties for the Dublin
doctors and the smaller landed gentry.
But about his salary, said Clithering. Is that to be an Imperial
charge, or are you?
I forgot to ask about that, I said, but if there's any difficulty
I expect Conroy will agree to pay it. It's not much, is it?
I'm not sure of the exact figure; but I know it's never supposed to
I've no actual authority for saying so, I said, but I expect
we'll want to do the thing decently if we do it at all. Cahoon has the
mind of a statesman, and in his opinion something will have to be done
to soothe the Dublin public. A first-rate Viceregal establishment was
his idea. However, we needn't go into details. The main thing is that
we want a Lord Lieutenant. If your Government undertakes to supply
suitable men from time to time I think I may promise that we'll find
the money. Write that down, Godfrey.
When you speak of the English clearing out of Ireland, said
Clithering, and leaving you the country to yourselves, you don't of
course mean absolute fiscal independence.
We do, I said.
You can't mean that, said Clithering. It's costing us nearly two
millions a year to run the country, and if that's withdrawn you will go
What McNeice said, I replied, was that you were to clear out,
bag, baggage, soldiers, police, tax-collectors, and the whole
Tax-collectors! said Clithering. I'm not sure
Didn't your Prime Minister say he'd be glad to get rid of us?
What's the use of your arguing on about every little point?
But, said Clithering, the collection of the revenue! Between
ourselves now, Lord Kilmore, do you think there would be any risk of
your imposing a tariff on
Certain to, I said. It will be one of the first things we do.
We can't agree to that, said Clithering. Free Trade is a
principle, a sacred principle with us. You can't expectWe are a Free
Trade Government. Our consciences
Very well, I said. Go on with the war. Bombard Belfast. Kill
another woman. Smash the Albert Memorial with a shell.
Our consciences said Clithering.
Your consciences, I said, will have to let you do one thing or
Now take my own case, said Clithering. I am interested, deeply
interested, in hosiery. We do a big business in stockings.
Godfrey winced. I do not wonder. The future Lady Kilmore must, of
course, wear stockings, but it is not pleasant for Godfrey to think of
her supply coming straight from the paternal factory.
The Irish trade, said Clithering, is not among the most
We can only afford to wear the cheaper sorts, I said; and a great
many of us can't buy any at all. I don't think you need bother about
the Irish trade.
Still, it is substantial. Now, a hostile tariffor a bounty on
You'll have to establish a factory in Ireland, I said, and dodge
the tariff. Tipperary now. Labour is comparatively cheap, andAfter
all, it's a choice between that and letting the Fleet loose at Belfast
Clithering thought this over. I think the idea of cheap labour in
Tipperary cheered him up. When he next spoke it was in a most friendly
I hope, he said, that the shells which were fired
There was only one, I said.
I heard that no lives were lost, said Clithering. I hope that the
damage done to property was not serious.
One statue, I said, was smashed to bits.
I'm very sorry, very sorry indeed. Now I wonder if you would allow
meI mean if the people of Belfast would allow meas a personal
expression of the warm feeling of friendliness I've always felt for the
Irish people, all the Irish peopleI wonder if I might offer to
replace the statue. I should esteem it an honour.
It was a very large statue, I said, and must have cost
Oh, I should not allow considerations of money to stand in my way.
This was handsome. I looked at Godfrey to see how he liked to hear
his future wife's dowry being frittered away on statues. I could see
that he was anything but pleased.
I shall convey your offer, I said, to the people of Belfast. They
may not want that exact statue again. We're not quite as keen on Kings
and Queens as we were. But I feel quite sure something symbolic would
appeal to us strongly. What would you think now of Ulster as an infant
Hercules strangling a snake representing Home Rule? Any good sculptor
would knock off something of that sort for you; about twelve feet by
nine feet, not counting the pedestal. By the way, did we do much damage
to your ship? The one Malcolmson hit with his cannon ball?
I don't know, said Clithering. I did not hear any details.
Because, I said, if she is injured in any wayBut perhaps she
I don't think men-of-war are insured.
Well, they ought to be. But if that one wasn't I'm sure we'd like
to make good any damage we did. Conroy has lots of money, and he'd be
sorry if the English people were put to any expense in repairing a
battleship we injured.
I am not a practised ambassador, but I have always understood that
diplomacy is a trade in which politeness pays. I was not going to be
outdone by Clithering. When he offered Belfast a new statue I could
hardly do less than promise that Conroy would mend the ship. I was very
glad afterwards that I thought of it. Clithering was tremendously
pleased, and made me quite a long speech. He said that he looked upon
my offer as a kind of first-fruit of the new spirit of amity which was
coming into existence between England and Ireland.
This ended our negotiations to the satisfaction of every one
Lady Moyne returned at once to Castle Affey and spent the summer in
planning new ways of keeping the insurgent industrial democracy from
invading the rights and privileges of the propertied classes. Last time
I dined there she explained to me a scheme for developing the Boy Scout
movement, which would, she thought, distract the attention of the
public and push social questions into the background. Babberly escaped
having to address a labour meeting in Newcastle-on-Tyne. He had
promised to do this, but there was no necessity for him to keep his
promise once the troops were withdrawn from Belfast. He returned to his
duties in Parliament, and, as I gathered from the papers, harassed the
Government successfully all through the autumn session. The Dean and
Crossan played their hymn tune on our church bells every day for a
fortnight. They stilland I am writing several months after the new
Irish Government has been firmly establishedcongratulate each other
on the way in which the third Home Rule Bill was defeated by the
unfaltering attitude of the Ulster Loyalists.
Godfrey, I regret to say, failed to marry Miss Clithering. She took
a violent dislike to him after he had spent three weeks in her father's
house. Not even the prospect of becoming Lady Kilmore would reconcile
her to the marriage. I am therefore still responsible for his
I have, unfortunately, been obliged to give up writing my History
of Irish Rebellions. I do not understand Marion's system of filing,
and I cannot find any of the papers I want. I cannot get Marion to
explain things to me, or to take any trouble to help me. Since she
married Bob Power she has lost all interest in my literary work.