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inner world we have neglected. Our excited political controversies, our playing at militarism, have tended to bring men's minds from central depths to surfaces.'*

In other words, Irish Nationalists have been obsessed by the idea that with the resurrection of Ireland as a nation everything will be altered in the twinkling of an eye, not realizing that the processes of Providence are not cataclysmic, and that those who are to be rulers over many things must first have shown themselves faithful over few things. For years past the Irish people have possessed all the extensive powers of local self-government enjoyed by the other nationalities of the United Kingdom. How have they used these liberties? Their gross abuse of their powers of local selfgovernment has been denounced even by Sinn Fein, which is wrong, not in its insistence on the need for regeneration, but in its representation of the obstacles in the path of such regeneration. The least of these is the existing system of government. The true obstacles are in the character and habit of mind of the people themselves, which are the outcome of conditions which no Government can alter.

The failure of the Irish to understand themselves is due very largely to the fact that they have no standard of comparison by which to judge themselves. Ireland, isolated on the very outskirts of Europe by a double barrier of sea, is of all islands the most insular. The world is amazed at the attitude of the bulk of the Irish towards the great war; it would be still more amazed could it realize the point of view which determines this attitude. It is defined in the name of the now dominant party-Sinn Fein, i.e. ' we ourselves.' This is more than a formula for the principle of 'self-deter'mination'; it is a confession of faith in the essential superiority of everything Irish, and the proclamation of a boycott against all influences by which the pure springs of native inspiration might possibly be contaminated. Every other civilization in the world has grown up as the result of a multitude of influences flowing from every quarter; Ireland alone, it seems, would have been capable of developing an ideal culture in isolation, and has only been prevented from doing so by the brutal intrusion of an alien and inferior race. * Op cit. p. 5

VOL. 228.

NO. 465.


Nay, in spite of this intrusion, her glory remains unique. 'Ireland,' said Mr. Devlin, addressing his constituents in Belfast against conscription, ' is a nation greater than England, greater in its civilization, nobler in its ideals, more imposing ' in its spirituality, more ancient and more impressive than 'any civilization in Europe.'

The pitiful thing is that this nonsense is believed by the Irish people. It is believed, not only because it flatters the vanity which is one of the most salient of Celtic characteristics, but because the people have no knowledge which would enable them to gauge the measure of its truth. All the education they receive is in the forcing-houses of religious and political sectarianism; after leaving school the vast majority of them never touch a book; and such judgment as they have of the affairs of Ireland and of the world is based on the instructions of their priests, the declamations of political agitators, and an occasional reading of local newspapers more concerned with parochial faction than with world-politics.

It is also, doubtless, to this intellectual and spiritual isolation of the country that is due the survival, as active forces, of ancient traditions, of primitive beliefs and superstitions, of savage instincts, and generally of a point of view which is that of a society in a very early stage of development. Catholic Ireland at the present day is almost as prolific of miracles as the Gaul of Gregory of Tours. The people, carefully preserved by their Church from the slightest contamination of 'Liberalism,' live in an atmosphere of the supernatural, and, like the grown-up children they are, use their naturally quick intelligence to people the waste spaces of their world with a host of creatures of the imagination.* Like children, too, they do not distinguish between this world of fancies and the world of fact. For the average Irishman evidence has no meaning, as the records of trials by jury in this country show; he believes what he wants to believe, and in doing so is quite unconscious of any moral lapse. His native vanity, moreover,

* The spring of this year was rich in portents. In Connaught a new-born baby prophesied woes to Ireland, and died within an hour (compare Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, lib. ii. cap. 1). At Kiltrustan in Roscommon, a phantom black pig appeared, with a ghostly litter of bonhams, visible only to children; and in an orchard near Aughrim there was a vision of the Blessed Virgin.

makes him desire to produce on all occasions a favourable impression; so he is apt almost unconsciously to tune his opinions and their expression to suit his audience, not only in private but in public—a fact which explains the astounding contradictions which puzzle and confuse the matter-of-fact world outside. If this world were to say in its haste All 'Irishmen are liars,' it would be wrong; for a lie is a conscious and deliberate perversion of the truth. In Ireland the truth, as the word is generally understood, simply does not exist.

Unless this characteristic be understood, it is impossible to realize the immense part played in Irish politics by what may be called the historical imagination. Even the scientific study of Irish history provides, unfortunately, material enough for understanding the origin of the deep-seated hatred of the native Irish for the English, though it also shows that the fault has lain not all on one side. But the scientific study of history has not been encouraged in Ireland, with the result that even Irishmen who should know better believe in the myth of a golden age of Irish civilization which the English destroyed, knowing nothing of the true conditions before the Normans came, when 'released from all control these half'dozen kings fiercely battled like bulls for the mastery of 'the land,' and there were 'for the recalcitrant always ready 'battle-axes and trained troops of swift raiders and 'plunderers.' *

Yet more remarkable is the complete lack of any sense of historical perspective, so that remote happenings have a present-day significance which would be impossible in a less primitive community. No one can understand the Irish Question who does not realize that in large districts of Ireland things that happened hundreds of years ago are still living issues, that the passage of time has not obscured them. One instance out of many must suffice. Three hundred years ago a certain district in Tyrone was 'planted' by King James I. with Protestant settlers, the Irish Catholics retiring to the hills. When the present writer was there in the summer of last year the valley was full of rumours that the 'mountainy men' were about to descend into the valley, massacre the

See Standish O'Grady, 'The Last Kings of Ireland.' 'English Historical Review,' Vol. iv.

Protestants, and reoccupy the land. The rumour was no less significant because it was baseless. Nor was it so wholly ridiculous as some may suppose. Such things had happened, miserable to relate, often enough before in Ireland, and the memory of them lives almost undimmed; and it has also to be remembered that so lately as the year before, in Easter week 1916, Irishmen had begun the rising in Dublin by shooting down in cold blood many of their unarmed and defenceless fellow-countrymen. As a Derry man said to the present writer, 'They would think no more of killing you than of cracking an egg.' Such being the temper of the people and such the power of its mutual antipathies, no illusion could be greater than to suppose that self-government would bring peace to Ireland. Self-government, to be successful, implies an instinct of self-discipline, some sense of realities, some readiness to compromise, and in this land of bitter feuds, of untutored imagination, and of long memories, these conditions are rarely to be found.

The fundamental assumption underlying the whole Nationalist claim is that Ireland, being one island, is also one nation. Ireland, it is asserted, is the clearest geographical, 'historical and political entity in Europe'; which is only superficially true of its geography, and of its politics and history the very reverse of the truth. As recent events should have conclusively proved, there are in Ireland not one nation, but two, the dividing line between them being marked, partly by difference of race, but far more by difference of religion. This is extremely hard for people in more advanced countries, and particularly in England, to realize; it can be realized only by bearing in mind what has been said about the isolation of Ireland, which has left it all but untouched by the influences which, elsewhere, have tended to subordinate the narrow interests of creed. Catholicism in Ireland is a living reality, informed with all the childlike spirit of the ages of faith; Protestantism in Ireland is the Bible religion of the Reformers, protestant still, not the colourless amalgam of humanitarian sentiment and watered-down theology which inspires the nonconformist conscience in England. In Ireland, Protestants and Catholics stand face to face as they have stood since the sixteenth century, marking and emphasizing 'the contrast 'not only of two creeds, but of two breeds, of two ways of

'thinking, of two ways of looking at all the most vital interests 'of men.' In Ireland, in short, the question of creed remains dominant, and, with rare exceptions, it is creed that marks the line of cleavage in all that makes for national sentiment.

If this truth needed further illustration it was supplied when the Government proposed to extend the National Service Act to Ireland. The Protestant archbishops called on the members of their Church to render willing obedience; the General Synod of the Presbyterian Church did the same, in even stronger terms; the Roman Catholic hierarchy, on the other hand, denounced the proposal to apply 'conscription' to Ireland as an unparalleled outrage and threw the whole immense weight of the authority of their Church into the conspiracy to defeat the Act. In the light of these facts the English people may perhaps grasp the full significance of the proposals made in the Convention for safeguarding in the Irish Parliament the rights of the Unionist minority. It is a minor matter that the safeguards proposed were as invidious as useless. The significant question is-What is meant by 'Unionists'? As a political term ' Unionist' will be meaningless when Home Rule is an accomplished fact, unless-as seems probable-it comes to apply to those who cling to what remains of the ties with Great Britain and the Empire. But Unionist in Ireland is practically, though not quite, synonymous with Protestant; in the Convention report it was used as a euphemism to disguise an unpleasant truth. It is worth while to enquire further into this antithesis which lies at the very root of the Irish question. It is not the fault of the Roman Church if British Protestants fail to understand all that is implied in her claim to be the supreme arbiter in all questions of ' faith and morals,' for the pronouncements of the Popes during the last hundred years have re-abated not a jot of the claims of their greater medieval predecessors.* In most countries, even in most Catholic countries, these pronouncements have proved but stage thunder-the 'godless' forces of Liberalism have seen to that. But not so in Ireland, where of all native forces the Church is far the

*E.g. in 1911 the decree Quantavis diligentia reasserted the ancient privilegium fori forbidding under penalty of excommunication the summoning without authority of any ecclesiastical person before a lay tribunal.

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