Produced by Eve Sobol
JOHN BULL'S OTHER ISLAND
Great George Street, Westminster, is the address of Doyle and
Broadbent, civil engineers. On the threshold one reads that the
firm consists of Mr Lawrence Doyle and Mr Thomas Broadbent, and
that their rooms are on the first floor. Most of their rooms are
private; for the partners, being bachelors and bosom friends,
live there; and the door marked Private, next the clerks' office,
is their domestic sitting room as well as their reception room
for clients. Let me describe it briefly from the point of view of
a sparrow on the window sill. The outer door is in the opposite
wall, close to the right hand corner. Between this door and the
left hand corner is a hatstand and a table consisting of large
drawing boards on trestles, with plans, rolls of tracing paper,
mathematical instruments and other draughtsman's accessories on
it. In the left hand wall is the fireplace, and the door of an
inner room between the fireplace and our observant sparrow.
Against the right hand wall is a filing cabinet, with a cupboard
on it, and, nearer, a tall office desk and stool for one person.
In the middle of the room a large double writing table is set
across, with a chair at each end for the two partners. It is a
room which no woman would tolerate, smelling of tobacco, and much
in need of repapering, repainting, and recarpeting; but this is
the effect of bachelor untidiness and indifference, not want of
means; for nothing that Doyle and Broadbent themselves have
purchased is cheap; nor is anything they want lacking. On the
walls hang a large map of South America, a pictorial advertisement
of a steamship company, an impressive portrait of Gladstone, and
several caricatures of Mr Balfour as a rabbit and Mr Chamberlain
as a fox by Francis Carruthers Gould.
At twenty minutes to five o'clock on a summer afternoon in 1904,
the room is empty. Presently the outer door is opened, and a
valet comes in laden with a large Gladstone bag, and a strap of
rugs. He carries them into the inner room. He is a respectable
valet, old enough to have lost all alacrity, and acquired an air
of putting up patiently with a great deal of trouble and
indifferent health. The luggage belongs to Broadbent, who enters
after the valet. He pulls off his overcoat and hangs it with his
hat on the stand. Then he comes to the writing table and looks
through the letters which are waiting for him. He is a robust,
full-blooded, energetic man in the prime of life, sometimes eager
and credulous, sometimes shrewd and roguish, sometimes portentously
solemn, sometimes jolly and impetuous, always buoyant and irresistible,
mostly likeable, and enormously absurd in his most earnest moments.
He bursts open his letters with his thumb, and glances through them,
flinging the envelopes about the floor with reckless untidiness
whilst he talks to the valet.
BROADBENT [calling] Hodson.
HODSON [in the bedroom] Yes sir.
BROADBENT. Don't unpack. Just take out the things I've worn; and
put in clean things.
HODSON [appearing at the bedroom door] Yes sir. [He turns to go
back into the bedroom.
BROADBENT. And look here! [Hodson turns again]. Do you remember
where I put my revolver?
HODSON. Revolver, sir? Yes sir. Mr Doyle uses it as a
paper-weight, sir, when he's drawing.
BROADBENT. Well, I want it packed. There's a packet of cartridges
somewhere, I think. Find it and pack it as well.
HODSON. Yes sir.
BROADBENT. By the way, pack your own traps too. I shall take you
with me this time.
HODSON [hesitant]. Is it a dangerous part you're going to, sir?
Should I be expected to carry a revolver, sir?
BROADBENT. Perhaps it might be as well. I'm going to Ireland.
HODSON [reassured]. Yes sir.
BROADBENT. You don't feel nervous about it, I suppose?
HODSON. Not at all, sir. I'll risk it, sir.
BROADBENT. Have you ever been in Ireland?
HODSON. No sir. I understand it's a very wet climate, sir. I'd
better pack your india-rubber overalls.
BROADBENT. Do. Where's Mr Doyle?
HODSON. I'm expecting him at five, sir. He went out after lunch.
BROADBENT. Anybody been looking for me?
HODSON. A person giving the name of Haffigan has called twice to-day, sir.
BROADBENT. Oh, I'm sorry. Why didn't he wait? I told him to wait
if I wasn't in.
HODSON. Well Sir, I didn't know you expected him; so I thought it
best to - to - not to encourage him, sir.
BROADBENT. Oh, he's all right. He's an Irishman, and not very
particular about his appearance.
HODSON. Yes sir, I noticed that he was rather Irish....
BROADBENT. If he calls again let him come up.
HODSON. I think I saw him waiting about, sir, when you drove up.
Shall I fetch him, sir?
BROADBENT. Do, Hodson.
HODSON. Yes sir [He makes for the outer door].
BROADBENT. He'll want tea. Let us have some.
HODSON [stopping]. I shouldn't think he drank tea, sir.
BROADBENT. Well, bring whatever you think he'd like.
HODSON. Yes sir [An electric bell rings]. Here he is, sir. Saw
you arrive, sir.
BROADBENT. Right. Show him in. [Hodson goes out. Broadbent gets
through the rest of his letters before Hodson returns with the
HODSON. Mr Affigan.
Haffigan is a stunted, shortnecked, smallheaded, redhaired man of
about 30, with reddened nose and furtive eyes. He is dressed in
seedy black, almost clerically, and might be a tenth-rate
schoolmaster ruined by drink. He hastens to shake Broadbent's
hand with a show of reckless geniality and high spirits, helped
out by a rollicking stage brogue. This is perhaps a comfort to
himself, as he is secretly pursued by the horrors of incipient
HAFFIGAN. Tim Haffigan, sir, at your service. The top o the
mornin to you, Misther Broadbent.
BROADBENT [delighted with his Irish visitor]. Good afternoon, Mr
TIM. An is it the afthernoon it is already? Begorra, what I call
the mornin is all the time a man fasts afther breakfast.
BROADBENT. Haven't you lunched?
TIM. Divil a lunch!
BROADBENT. I'm sorry I couldn't get back from Brighton in time to
offer you some; but -
TIM. Not a word, sir, not a word. Sure it'll do tomorrow.
Besides, I'm Irish, sir: a poor ather, but a powerful dhrinker.
BROADBENT. I was just about to ring for tea when you came. Sit
down, Mr Haffigan.
TIM. Tay is a good dhrink if your nerves can stand it. Mine
Haffigan sits down at the writing table, with his back to the
filing cabinet. Broadbent sits opposite him. Hodson enters
emptyhanded; takes two glasses, a siphon, and a tantalus from the
cupboard; places them before Broadbent on the writing table;
looks ruthlessly at Haffigan, who cannot meet his eye; and
BROADBENT. Try a whisky and soda.
TIM [sobered]. There you touch the national wakeness, sir.
[Piously] Not that I share it meself. I've seen too much of the
mischief of it.
BROADBENT [pouring the whisky]. Say when.
TIM. Not too sthrong. [Broadbent stops and looks enquiringly at
him]. Say half-an-half. [Broadbent, somewhat startled by this
demand, pours a little more, and again stops and looks]. Just a
dhrain more: the lower half o the tumbler doesn't hold a fair
BROADBENT [laughing]. You Irishmen certainly do know how to
drink. [Pouring some whisky for himself] Now that's my poor
English idea of a whisky and soda.
TIM. An a very good idea it is too. Dhrink is the curse o me
unhappy counthry. I take it meself because I've a wake heart and
a poor digestion; but in principle I'm a teetoatler.
BROADBENT [suddenly solemn and strenuous]. So am I, of course.
I'm a Local Optionist to the backbone. You have no idea, Mr
Haffigan, of the ruin that is wrought in this country by the
unholy alliance of the publicans, the bishops, the Tories, and
The Times. We must close the public-houses at all costs [he
TIM. Sure I know. It's awful [he drinks]. I see you're a good
Liberal like meself, sir.
BROADBENT. I am a lover of liberty, like every true Englishman,
Mr Haffigan. My name is Broadbent. If my name were Breitstein,
and I had a hooked nose and a house in Park Lane, I should carry
a Union Jack handkerchief and a penny trumpet, and tax the food
of the people to support the Navy League, and clamor for the
destruction of the last remnants of national liberty -
TIM. Not another word. Shake hands.
BROADBENT. But I should like to explain -
TIM. Sure I know every word you're goin to say before yev said
it. I know the sort o man yar. An so you're thinkin o comin to
Ireland for a bit?
BROADBENT. Where else can I go? I am an Englishman and a Liberal;
and now that South Africa has been enslaved and destroyed, there
is no country left to me to take an interest in but Ireland.
Mind: I don't say that an Englishman has not other duties. He has
a duty to Finland and a duty to Macedonia. But what sane man can
deny that an Englishman's first duty is his duty to Ireland?
Unfortunately, we have politicians here more unscrupulous than
Bobrikoff, more bloodthirsty than Abdul the Damned; and it is
under their heel that Ireland is now writhing.
TIM. Faith, they've reckoned up with poor oul Bobrikoff anyhow.
BROADBENT. Not that I defend assassination: God forbid! However
strongly we may feel that the unfortunate and patriotic young man
who avenged the wrongs of Finland on the Russian tyrant was
perfectly right from his own point of view, yet every civilized
man must regard murder with abhorrence. Not even in defence of
Free Trade would I lift my hand against a political opponent,
however richly he might deserve it.
TIM. I'm sure you wouldn't; and I honor you for it. You're goin
to Ireland, then, out o sympithy: is it?
BROADBENT. I'm going to develop an estate there for the Land
Development Syndicate, in which I am interested. I am convinced
that all it needs to make it pay is to handle it properly, as
estates are handled in England. You know the English plan, Mr
Haffigan, don't you?
TIM. Bedad I do, sir. Take all you can out of Ireland and spend
it in England: that's it.
BROADBENT [not quite liking this]. My plan, sir, will be to take
a little money out of England and spend it in Ireland.
TIM. More power to your elbow! an may your shadda never be less!
for you're the broth of a boy intirely. An how can I help you?
Command me to the last dhrop o me blood.
BROADBENT. Have you ever heard of Garden City?
TIM [doubtfully]. D'ye mane Heavn?
BROADBENT. Heaven! No: it's near Hitchin. If you can spare half
an hour I'll go into it with you.
TIM. I tell you hwat. Gimme a prospectus. Lemme take it home and
reflect on it.
BROADBENT. You're quite right: I will. [He gives him a copy of Mr
Ebenezer Howard's book, and several pamphlets]. You understand
that the map of the city - the circular construction - is only a
TIM. I'll make a careful note o that [looking dazedly at the
BROADBENT. What I say is, why not start a Garden City in Ireland?
TIM [with enthusiasm]. That's just what was on the tip o me
tongue to ask you. Why not? [Defiantly] Tell me why not.
BROADBENT. There are difficulties. I shall overcome them; but
there are difficulties. When I first arrive in Ireland I shall be
hated as an Englishman. As a Protestant, I shall be denounced
from every altar. My life may be in danger. Well, I am prepared
to face that.
TIM. Never fear, sir. We know how to respict a brave innimy.
BROADBENT. What I really dread is misunderstanding. I think you
could help me to avoid that. When I heard you speak the other
evening in Bermondsey at the meeting of the National League, I
saw at once that you were - You won't mind my speaking frankly?
TIM. Tell me all me faults as man to man. I can stand anything
BROADBENT. May I put it in this way? - that I saw at once that you
were a thorough Irishman, with all the faults and all, the
qualities of your race: rash and improvident but brave and
goodnatured; not likely to succeed in business on your own
account perhaps, but eloquent, humorous, a lover of freedom, and
a true follower of that great Englishman Gladstone.
TIM. Spare me blushes. I mustn't sit here to be praised to me
face. But I confess to the goodnature: it's an Irish wakeness.
I'd share me last shillin with a friend.
BROADBENT. I feel sure you would, Mr Haffigan.
TIM [impulsively]. Damn it! call me Tim. A man that talks about
Ireland as you do may call me anything. Gimme a howlt o that
whisky bottle [he replenishes].
BROADBENT [smiling indulgently]. Well, Tim, will you come with me
and help to break the ice between me and your warmhearted,
TIM. Will I come to Madagascar or Cochin China wid you? Bedad
I'll come to the North Pole wid you if yll pay me fare; for the
divil a shillin I have to buy a third class ticket.
BROADBENT. I've not forgotten that, Tim. We must put that little
matter on a solid English footing, though the rest can be as
Irish as you please. You must come as my - my - well, I hardly know
what to call it. If we call you my agent, they'll shoot you. If
we call you a bailiff, they'll duck you in the horsepond. I have
a secretary already; and -
TIM. Then we'll call him the Home Secretary and me the Irish
BROADBENT [laughing industriously]. Capital. Your Irish wit has
settled the first difficulty. Now about your salary -
TIM. A salary, is it? Sure I'd do it for nothin, only me cloes ud
disgrace you; and I'd be dhriven to borra money from your
friends: a thing that's agin me nacher. But I won't take a penny
more than a hundherd a year. [He looks with restless cunning at
Broadbent, trying to guess how far he may go].
BROADBENT. If that will satisfy you -
TIM [more than reassured]. Why shouldn't it satisfy me? A
hundherd a year is twelve-pound a month, isn't it?
BROADBENT. No. Eight pound six and eightpence.
TIM. Oh murdher! An I'll have to sind five timme poor oul mother
in Ireland. But no matther: I said a hundherd; and what I said
I'll stick to, if I have to starve for it.
BROADBENT [with business caution]. Well, let us say twelve pounds
for the first month. Afterwards, we shall see how we get on.
TIM. You're a gentleman, sir. Whin me mother turns up her toes,
you shall take the five pounds off; for your expinses must be kep
down wid a sthrong hand; an - [He is interrupted by the arrival of
Mr Laurence Doyle is a man of 36, with cold grey eyes, strained
nose, fine fastidious lips, critical brown, clever head, rather
refined and goodlooking on the whole, but with a suggestion of
thinskinedness and dissatisfaction that contrasts strongly with
Broadbent's eupeptic jollity.
He comes in as a man at home there, but on seeing the stranger
shrinks at once, and is about to withdraw when Broadbent
reassures him. He then comes forward to the table, between the
DOYLE [retreating]. You're engaged.
BROADBENT. Not at all, not at all. Come in. [To Tim] This
gentleman is a friend who lives with me here: my partner, Mr
Doyle. [To Doyle] This is a new Irish friend of mine, Mr Tim
TIM [rising with effusion]. Sure it's meself that's proud to meet
any friend o Misther Broadbent's. The top o the mornin to you,
sir! Me heart goes out teeye both. It's not often I meet two such
splendid speciments iv the Anglo-Saxon race.
BROADBENT [chuckling] Wrong for once, Tim. My friend Mr Doyle is
a countryman of yours.
Tim is noticeably dashed by this announcement. He draws in his
horns at once, and scowls suspiciously at Doyle under a vanishing
mark of goodfellowship: cringing a little, too, in mere nerveless
fear of him.
DOYLE [with cool disgust]. Good evening. [He retires to the
fireplace, and says to Broadbent in a tone which conveys the
strongest possible hint to Haffigan that he is unwelcome] Will
you soon be disengaged?
TIM [his brogue decaying into a common would-be genteel accent
with an unexpected strain of Glasgow in it]. I must be going.
Ivnmportnt engeegement in the west end.
BROADBENT [rising]. It's settled, then, that you come with me.
TIM. Ish'll be verra pleased to accompany ye, sir.
BROADBENT. But how soon? Can you start tonight - from Paddington?
We go by Milford Haven.
TIM [hesitating]. Well - I'm afreed - I [Doyle goes abruptly into
the bedroom, slamming the door and shattering the last remnant of
Tim's nerve. The poor wretch saves himself from bursting into
tears by plunging again into his role of daredevil Irishman. He
rushes to Broadbent; plucks at his sleeve with trembling fingers;
and pours forth his entreaty with all the brogue be can muster,
subduing his voice lest Doyle should hear and return]. Misther
Broadbent: don't humiliate me before a fella counthryman. Look
here: me cloes is up the spout. Gimme a fypounnote - I'll pay ya
nex choosda whin me ship comes home - or you can stop it out o me
month's sallery. I'll be on the platform at Paddnton punctial an
ready. Gimme it quick, before he comes back. You won't mind me
axin, will ye?
BROADBENT. Not at all. I was about to offer you an advance for
travelling expenses. [He gives him a bank note].
TIM [pocketing it]. Thank you. I'll be there half an hour before
the thrain starts. [Larry is heard at the bedroom door,
returning]. Whisht: he's comin back. Goodbye an God bless ye. [He
hurries out almost crying, the 5 pound note and all the drink it
means to him being too much for his empty stomach and overstrained
DOYLE [returning]. Where the devil did you pick up that seedy
swindler? What was he doing here? [He goes up to the table where
the plans are, and makes a note on one of them, referring to his
pocket book as he does so].
BROADBENT. There you go! Why are you so down on every Irishman
you meet, especially if he's a bit shabby? poor devil! Surely a
fellow-countryman may pass you the top of the morning without
offence, even if his coat is a bit shiny at the seams.
DOYLE [contemptuously]. The top of the morning! Did he call you
the broth of a boy? [He comes to the writing table].
BROADBENT [triumphantly]. Yes.
DOYLE. And wished you more power to your elbow?
BROADBENT. He did.
DOYLE. And that your shadow might never be less?
DOYLE [taking up the depleted whisky bottle and shaking his head
at it]. And he got about half a pint of whisky out of you.
BROADBENT. It did him no harm. He never turned a hair.
DOYLE. How much money did he borrow?
BROADBENT. It was not borrowing exactly. He showed a very
honorable spirit about money. I believe he would share his last
shilling with a friend.
DOYLE. No doubt he would share his friend's last shilling if his
friend was fool enough to let him. How much did he touch you for?
BROADBENT. Oh, nothing. An advance on his salary - for travelling
DOYLE. Salary! In Heaven's name, what for?
BROADBENT. For being my Home Secretary, as he very wittily called
DOYLE. I don't see the joke.
BROADBENT. You can spoil any joke by being cold blooded about it.
I saw it all right when he said it. It was something - something
really very amusing - about the Home Secretary and the Irish
Secretary. At all events, he's evidently the very man to take
with me to Ireland to break the ice for me. He can gain the
confidence of the people there, and make them friendly to me. Eh?
[He seats himself on the office stool, and tilts it back so that
the edge of the standing desk supports his back and prevents his
DOYLE. A nice introduction, by George! Do you suppose the whole
population of Ireland consists of drunken begging letter writers,
or that even if it did, they would accept one another as
BROADBENT. Pooh! nonsense! He's only an Irishman. Besides, you
don't seriously suppose that Haffigan can humbug me, do you?
DOYLE. No: he's too lazy to take the trouble. All he has to do is
to sit there and drink your whisky while you humbug yourself.
However, we needn't argue about Haffigan, for two reasons. First,
with your money in his pocket he will never reach Paddington:
there are too many public houses on the way. Second, he's not an
Irishman at all.
BROADBENT. Not an Irishman! [He is so amazed by the statement
that he straightens himself and brings the stool bolt upright].
DOYLE. Born in Glasgow. Never was in Ireland in his life. I know
all about him.
BROADBENT. But he spoke - he behaved just like an Irishman.
DOYLE. Like an Irishman!! Is it possible that you don't know that
all this top-o-the-morning and broth-of-a-boy and more-power-to-your-elbow
business is as peculiar to England as the Albert Hall concerts of
Irish music are? No Irishman ever talks like that in Ireland, or
ever did, or ever will. But when a thoroughly worthless Irishman
comes to England, and finds the whole place full of romantic duffers
like you, who will let him loaf and drink and sponge and brag as
long as he flatters your sense of moral superiority by playing the
fool and degrading himself and his country, he soon learns the antics
that take you in. He picks them up at the theatre or the music hall.
Haffigan learnt the rudiments from his father, who came from my part
of Ireland. I knew his uncles, Matt and Andy Haffigan of Rosscullen.
BROADBENT [still incredulous]. But his brogue!
DOYLE. His brogue! A fat lot you know about brogues! I've heard
you call a Dublin accent that you could hang your hat on, a
brogue. Heaven help you! you don't know the difference between
Connemara and Rathmines. [With violent irritation] Oh, damn Tim
Haffigan! Let's drop the subject: he's not worth wrangling about.
BROADBENT. What's wrong with you today, Larry? Why are you so
Doyle looks at him perplexedly; comes slowly to the writing
table; and sits down at the end next the fireplace before
DOYLE. Well: your letter completely upset me, for one thing.
LARRY. Your foreclosing this Rosscullen mortgage and turning poor
Nick Lestrange out of house and home has rather taken me aback;
for I liked the old rascal when I was a boy and had the run of
his park to play in. I was brought up on the property.
BROADBENT. But he wouldn't pay the interest. I had to foreclose
on behalf of the Syndicate. So now I'm off to Rosscullen to look
after the property myself. [He sits down at the writing table
opposite Larry, and adds, casually, but with an anxious glance at
his partner] You're coming with me, of course?
DOYLE [rising nervously and recommencing his restless movements].
That's it. That's what I dread. That's what has upset me.
BROADBENT. But don't you want to see your country again after 18
years absence? to see your people, to be in the old home again?
DOYLE [interrupting him very impatiently]. Yes, yes: I know all
that as well as you do.
BROADBENT. Oh well, of course [with a shrug] if you take it in
that way, I'm sorry.
DOYLE. Never you mind my temper: it's not meant for you, as you
ought to know by this time. [He sits down again, a little ashamed
of his petulance; reflects a moment bitterly; then bursts out] I
have an instinct against going back to Ireland: an instinct so
strong that I'd rather go with you to the South Pole than to
BROADBENT. What! Here you are, belonging to a nation with the
strongest patriotism! the most inveterate homing instinct in the
world! and you pretend you'd rather go anywhere than back to
Ireland. You don't suppose I believe you, do you? In your heart -
DOYLE. Never mind my heart: an Irishman's heart is nothing but
his imagination. How many of all those millions that have left
Ireland have ever come back or wanted to come back? But what's
the use of talking to you? Three verses of twaddle about the
Irish emigrant "sitting on the stile, Mary," or three hours of
Irish patriotism in Bermondsey or the Scotland Division of
Liverpool, go further with you than all the facts that stare you
in the face. Why, man alive, look at me! You know the way I nag,
and worry, and carp, and cavil, and disparage, and am never
satisfied and never quiet, and try the patience of my best
BROADBENT. Oh, come, Larry! do yourself justice. You're very
amusing and agreeable to strangers.
DOYLE. Yes, to strangers. Perhaps if I was a bit stiffer to
strangers, and a bit easier at home, like an Englishman, I'd be
better company for you.
BROADBENT. We get on well enough. Of course you have the
melancholy of the Celtic race -
DOYLE [bounding out of his chair] Good God!!!
BROADBENT [slyly] - and also its habit of using strong language