Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

England under Gladstone, 1880-1885 online

. (page 26 of 38)
Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyEngland under Gladstone, 1880-1885 → online text (page 26 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

licism. It supported the penal laws while they still existed ;
it struggled hard against their repeal ; it represents to-day the
spirit which animated and inspired the penal laws. The enter-
taining inspector of police who has introduced himself to
contemporary literature as ' Terence M'Grath,' gives in his
'Pictures from Ireland' a sketch of a typical Orangeman which,
coming from such a source, cannot be considered to be biassed
by any undue prejudice against the Orange institutions.
'Erom the time when he was old enough to throw a stone at
a Catholic procession on Patrick's Day, the most stirring in-
cidents of McGettigan's life have been connected with the
annual commemoration of the two victorious eno;asfements
fought by the much-lauded and sorely execrated monarch. . . .
The village of Juliansboi-ough is a well-known Protestant
stronghold ; and though a Roman Catholic chapel stands about
half a mile away, no one of that benighted faith would have the
audacity to pass through the village to his devotions during the
month of July. . . . The principles of the Orange Society
are " civil and religious liberty," and McGettigan flatters him-
self that he adopts them to the fullest extent. . . . But with
" Papishers " it is a different thing. Tliat every one of these
followers of the Scarlet Woman is destined to eternal perdition
is as firm an article of behef with William McGettigan as that
the evening and the morning were the first day ; and he feels
that in doing all that in him lies to obstruct the I'eligious prac-
tices of Popery, and otherwise make the lives of the Papishers a
burden to them, he is simply doing his duty as a good citizen.


.... Patrick's Day j)assed, McGettigan bears no violent
malice against his Catholic neighbours. He has even walked
to market on more than one occasion with members of that
faith. But with the heat of June his sentiments become less
dormant, and with the first of July sets in a period of intoler-
ance that for thu'ty days at least subverts his reason. During
this time a Sister of Mercy with a cup of water in the desert
would be an unwelcome sight ; and a general inclination to
wade knee-deep in Catholic blood is accompanied by a worship
of the Orange lily as real as the " idolatry " that he so bitterly
condemns. . . . The clergyman of his chvirch has a certain
influence with him, but it is in exact opposition to that pastor's
attitude towards the Orange Society. The basis of his faith is
the warrant and rules of his lodge ; and while cursing his
Roman Catholic opponents he never imagines that his religion
is as much a rehgion of hatred as the gloomy frenzy of the
Pui-itans or the tribal ferocity of the ancient Jews. ... In
his political principles he is torn by conflicting emotions. , . .
He approves of tenant I'ight, fixity of tenure, freedom of sale,
and vote by ballot. So far he is Liberal, but he votes with the
Conservatives ; for is not the extension of the franchise a
Libei'al proposal that would, in proportion to the lowness of
level at which the line is drawn, increase the number of
Catholic votes'? And did not the Liberals disestablish the
Church that seemed to McGettigan an evidence of Protestant
ascendency that gratified his vanity, and assented to the prin-
ciples of the Orange Society, in which all sections of Protest-
ants could meet on common gi-ounds ] McGettigan calls
himself a thorough Loyalist, but his feelings towards England
are exactly identical with bis feelings and attitude towai'ds the
Church. He is loyal to Protestant England because she re-
presents to him Protestantism versus Popery. If she became
Roman Catholic he would hate her with all his heart ; and if
she grants Home Rule he will vote for the removal of the
Union Jack from Orange processions.' Such is the picture,
drawn in no unfriendly spu-it by a writer as bitterly opposed to
^\\e National party as McGettigan himself, of the Orange agita-

thotjble at home and abroad. 277

tion of the north of Ireland, the member of a secret society as
fatal in its way to the well-being of the country as the Ribbon
Lodges themselves. How little the loyalty of the Orange
Society could be depended upon was shown in 1835, when tbe
Orange plot to place the Duke of Cumberland upon the thi'one
instead of Queen Victoria was discovered and defeated.

Towards the end of the year the old Orange and Green feud
was revived with peculiar animosity. The direct cause of this
revival was a crusade which Sii- Stafford Northcote carried
on in the north of Ireland against the Government. In one
of his national ballads Thomas Davis expresses a belief that
Orange and Green will join together. * "William and James are
turned to clay,' he says, and it is time for faction and feud to
pass away like them, * The Irish vinite, and Orange and Green
will carry the day.' But there seemed less prospect than ever
of Orange and Green uniting after Sir Stafford Northcotes
Ulster campaign. Su* Stafford Northcote was never meant to
be an agitator, nor were his crusade speeches in themselves of
a very dangerous character. But they succeeded in arousing all
the old party passions. The Monaghan election had been a
severe blow to the Orange garrison in Ulster, and they were
eager to efface its recollection by any means in their power.
Orange riots followed Sir Stafford Northcote's progress through
the north of Ireland. In one of these a convent in Belfast was
attacked, and the lady superior, who was ill, died of the alarm
and the excitement. Sir Stafford Northcote and the speakers
who accompanied him inflamed the Orange mobs they addressed
not merely against the Nationalist party, but against the
Government which supported, abetted, and basely yielded to
the demands of the National party. The Orange party were
inspired by the double pui-pose of fighting the Nationalists and
harassing the Government. Whenever a National meeting
was announced to be held in Ulster the Orange party imme-
diately organised a counter-meeting to oppose what they choso
to call the invasion of their county. To appreciate properly the
situation, it must be remembered that even in Orange Ulster
something like half of the population are Catholics, and that


when the new franchise comes into effect the majority of votes
will no longer be the privileged possession of the supporters of
the Orange lodges. The Nationalist leaders always found in
Ulster large audiences of Nationalists ; Mr. Healy's election
for Monaghan showed that Orangeism could not always turn the
scale against the men who had made the land agitation. It was
perfectly clear that if National and Orange meetings were held
on the same day and in the same locality without precautions,
it would be impossible to preserve peace. The Orange leaders
wrote and spoke in a way which showed that they were deter-
mined to rival the wildest utterances ever made on the National
side. A National meeting was announced to be held in Rosslea,
in Fermanagh, on October 16, 1883. Lord Eossmore, the
Grand ]Master of the Orangemen of the county ]Monaghan, and
a justice of the peace, signed a pi'oclamation callmg upon the
Orangemen to oppose the meeting. It was evident that a crisis
was at hand, and the Irish executive poured a large force of
military and police into the district, who succeeded in keeping
the two crowds apart in spite of the attempts of Lord Kossmore
to brina: about a collision.

The account of the proceedings of the Orange meeting on
that day is extraordinary. ' Some pistol-shots were fired into
the air in the outskii'ts of the crowd, and immediately the fire
was taken up by several hundred persons throughout that vast
assemblage. Pistols and revolvers were produced on all sides,
and a continuous fusillade was maintained for nearly fifteen
minutes. The leaders endeavoured to stay the deafening dis-
charge, but for some time without efiect.' Lord Crichton and
other Orange leaders on the platform were obliged to stoop
down for fear of being shot by their own adherents. ' When
the excitement subsided several Protestant clergymen came to
Lord Crichton, and asked him could he prevail on the Orange-
men to stop firing. Lord Crichton, spi-eading out his hands,
called out in as loud a voice as he was able to command, " For
God's sake, men, will you listen to what I say, and stop the
Sring ] " ' Lord Ptossmore's speech, which was interrupted at
one point for some ten minutes by the filing of hundreds of


revoivei-s, was specially violent. * He thought it was a great
pity that the so-called Government of England stopped loyal
men from assembling to uphold their institutions here, and had
sent down a handful of soldiers, whom they could eat up in a
second or two if they thought fit.' For Lord Eossm ore's con-
duct he was removed from the commission of the peace by the
Gcvernment, to the great indignation of the Orange lodges and
their leaders. The tenor of Orange talk became more violent.
A circular, signed by Captain Charles Alexander, advised the
Orangemen in every district to enrol themselves into an armed
voluntser force, to provide stores of arms, and to create, in fact,
a complete secret military organisation. Lord Enniskillen, the
Orange Grand Master, repudiated the circular on the ground
that it contained 'proposals of an illegal character;' but the fact
that such a circular could have been issued, and such proposals
seriously entertained, is in itself sufficiently curious.

Counter-meetings were held at Dromore, in Tyrone, on
January 1, 1884. Police and military held the ground to
prevent hostilities; but several attacks were made upon the
Nationalists by the Orangemen, who had to be driven back by
the bayonets of the police and the sabres of the cavalry. In one
of these encounters a young Orangeman named GifFen, who had
been brought in — like many others — from another district to
swell the Orange levees for the occasion, was mortally wounded
and died shortly after. The Government then adopted the
plan, whenever Orange and Green counter- meetings were an-
nounced, of proclaiming both meetings ; breaches of the peace
were thus prevented, though the Nationalist party sti'ongly
I^rotested against a policy which allowed the Orangemen to
silence any National meeting by merely announcing opposition,
and thus calling down a Government proclamation on both

In April 1883 a measure was introduced and passed into law
with almost unrivalled rapidity. This was the Bill for amend-
ing the law relating to explosives, which was introduced by
Sir William Harcourt on Monday, April 9, passed through all
its stages in the Commons in less than two hours, was sent to


the Lords, and received the royal assent the next day. There
was reason for this unusual haste. Much had been saic and
written for some time by a section of Irish Americans in New
York about the introduction of dynamite into the political
difficulties betw-^een England and Ireland. Threats to blow up
London buildino;s were uttered at meetings of the advoca^.es
of dynamite, and printed in tLieir journals, but at first little
heed was paid to these utterances. On the night of Thursday,
March 15, 1883, however, an attempt was made to blow up
the offices of the Local Government Board at the corner of
Whitehall and Charles Street. No great damage was done,
and no lives were lost, but a great many windows were broken.
The wall and one room of the Local Government Offices were
considerably shattered, and for a time considerable alarm was
created. A simultaneous attempt to blow up the Times office
failed through the fortunate accidental overturning of the
infernal machine used, which prevented it from operating. The
same attempted explosions by dynamite in Glasgow appeared
to be in fultilment of these threats, but they did not arouse
much public excitement. The Government immediately offered
the reward of a thousand pounds for the apprehension of the
criminals, but no clue was obtained, and no information given.
It was confidently expected that the attempts would be
repeated, and every precaution was taken. At all the public
offices, important public buildings, and the residences of states-
men, a military guard was placed, or where it existed before
was doubled. For some little time after the event London
presented an unwontedly military air. The presence of so
many soldiers in places where formerly no other guardianship
than that of the policeman was required lent London something
of the appearance of a Continental city. These precautions,
however, were not long maintained, and in a short while
London resumed its wonted aspect. The dynamite difficulty
was not at an end, unfortunately. In the first week in April
1883 the police succeeded in discovering a conspiracy, in
arresting eight men concerned, and in seizing a large quantity
of nitro-glyceiine, which was manufactured in Birmingham,


and was being secretly conveyed to London. It was impossible
to identify the men arrested with, the perpetrators of tho
attempt upon the Local Government Board and the Times
office. But their connection with the Irish-American advocates
of djTiamite was clearly established. To meet what seemed
like a wide-spread conspiracy the Explosives Bill was hurried
through Parliament. Four of the prisoners were sentenced to
penal servitude for life ; two were acquitted. These sentences
and the comprehensive powers of the new measure did not,
however, prevent further dynamite crimes. The police made
seizures of nitro-glycerine in Leicester, and in Cupar, in Fife.
Men were arrested in Glasgow on the chai-ge of being concerned
in the outrages of January. Four men were sentenced to penal
servitude for life for introducing explosive substances into
England at Liverpool. On October 30, 1883, two explosions
took place on the Metropolitan Railway ; one between West-
minster and Charing Cross, the other between Praed Street and
Edgware Boad. Both occurred almost at the same time,
about eight o'clock in the evening; both did considei^able
damage to property, and many human beings were injured,
though no one fatally. No trace of the perpetrators of this
outrage was discovered. Towards the end of February in 1884
a yet bolder outrage was attempted, which happily only
partially succeeded. At a little after one on the morning of
Tuesday, February 26, an explosion took place in the luggage
room of Victoria station, which wrecked a large part of the
station, and destroyed a considerable amount of property.
Though it was at once assumed that this was part of a dynamite
plot, the destruction of everything in the luggage room was so
great that absolute proof might have been dilficult to obtain.
The discovery of infernal machines at Charing Cross, Ludgate
Hill, and Paddington stations supplied the necessary proofs.
In the luggage room of each of these stations a portmanteau,
was discovered containing a large quantity of dynamite con-
nected with a pistol, and a clock timed to go off at a cei^tain
hour. In each of these cases the defective nature of the
machinery employed had happily prevented catastrophes which


■would in all probability have been far more dangerous than that
at Victoria station. An attempt was made later on Blackfriars
Bridge. Early in 1885 two explosions took place in Westmin-
ster, one in the great hall and one in the chamber of the House,
which did great damage and seriously injuied two policemen.

No language can be too strong in condemnation of these
criminal attempts. The freedom and the future of Ireland are
not to be worked out by means abhorrent to all Christian men.
Every Nationalist, every one who believes that the hour of
Ireland's regeneration is daily, even hourly, drawing nearer, who
believes that in the immediate future the Parliament of Ireland
will be restored to her, can only feel horror at such deeds. The
cause of Ireland is not to be served by the knife of the assassin
and the infernal machine of the dynaraitard.

In Ireland the Nationalist party had received some important
advantages. The Mallow election has already been mentioned.
Mr. Harrington was elected for Westmeath in March, while
undergoing unjust imprisonment under the Crimes Act. In the
same month Mr. John Dillon resigned his seat on account of ill-
health, and the vacancy was tilled by another Nationalist, Mr.
Mayne. A contest for Dublin county resulted in the return of
the Conservative candidate, Colonel King Harman, and the elec-
tion for Portai'lington gave a victory to the Opposition. Later
on in June Mr. Healy, who with Mr, Davitt and Mr, Quinu
had just been released from Richmond Prison, after the three
had served the larger part of their term of imprisonment,
icsigned his scat for Wexford, and came forward as a candidate
for Monaghan in the place of Mr. Givan, who had received an
appointment from the Government. Monaghan's position as
an important Ulster constituency gaA^e a peculiar interest to
the struggle which ended in the return of Mr. Healy. A week
or two later, Wexford, the seat which Mr, Healy had vacated,
was won by the National candidate, Mr. Redmond the younger,
against Liberal and Tory opponents.

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget
on April 5, 1883. Mr. Childers began by explaining that his
recent assumption of olEce did not allow him to attempt any


striking alteration of taxation. The revenue for 1882-83 -R-as
over 89,000,000/., or rather more than 4,000,000/. more than
was originally estimated. The total expenditure, including the
cost of the Egyptian war, was a little more than 88,000,000/.,
so that there was a surplus of some 98,000/. The surplus for
the cuiTent year, 2,691,000/., alloAved Mr. Childers to propose
the devotion of 135,000/. to the abolition of the passenger duty
on all railway fares of a penny a mile and under; of 170,000/.
to the establishment of the sixpenny telegrams; of 2,135,000/.
towards removing from the income tax the Egj^ptian three-

One of the latest financial efforts of the jMinistry in the
fading session of 1883 was the introduction of the National
Debt Bill, Mr. Childers moved the second reading, and ex-
plained the principles of the Bill, on Tuesday, August 7. The
Bill proposed to reappropriate — with the exception of some
million pounds — all the amounts then devoted to the reduction
of debt, and to fix the bulk of it for that purpose until no debt
should be left. The Bill provided, first, to convert 40,000,000/.
of Chancery Stock into twenty-year anniiities; secondly, to
cancel about 30,000,000/. of Savings Bank Stock by the creation
of three annuities of five, ten, and fifteen years; and thirdly, to
cancel the unpaid balance of most of the existing annuities by
the issue of a fresh twenty years' annuity. By these means the
Chancellor of the Exchequer hoped to cancel 133,000,000/. of
stock within the twenty years. As the Bill jorovided for the
creation of fi-esh annuities as the shorter ones fell in, so as to
keep the permanent charge of the debt at about 28,000,000/.,
as well as maintaining the Sinking Fund established by Sir
Stafford Northcote in 1875, Mr. Childers expected that in the
same period of twenty years the total cancelment of permanent
annuities would exceed 177,000,000/.

The new Bill was practically based upon the Act of 1875
introduced by Sir Stafford Northcote. That Bill settled the
amount of principal and interest of the National Debt to be
paid off annually at 28,000,000/., that figure being selected
on the average observed from 1815 to 1860. The Sinking


Fund system which Su' Stafford Northcote then devised, and
into which he broke under pressure of financial difficulties in
1880, was expanded and strengthened by Mr. Childers's pro-
posals. For the series of terminable annuities, exceeding
6,000,000/., which were to fall in in 1885, a system of termi-
nable annuities was to be substituted, in which each new annuity
would be larger than the old by the amount of the interest on
the extinguished annuity; so that the amount of debt paid off
Avould increase year by year. The new system did not offer the
same temptations that the Sinking Fund which they superseded
offered. Though annuities — that is, fixed annual payments for
a limited time, made up of interest and instalment of principal
upon the debt which the annuity represents — are, indeed, in
themselves a Sinking Fund, successive Governments ■ and Par-
liaments have abstained from making the depredations on them
to which Sir Stafford Northcote's Sinking Fund was exposed,
and from which it suffered. The Bill met with some opposition,
chiefly, curiously enough, from Sir Stafford Northcote himself.
The arguments which he must have thought excellent in 1875
seemed suddenly to have grown unpalatable in 1883. He even
ui'ged that the new Government were ti-ying to pay off the
National Debt too rapidly. But in spite of the antagonism of
a foi'mer Chancellor of the Exchequer to a Bill brought in by
his successor on the lines of a measure of his own, the second
reading of the National Debt Bill was carried by 149 to 95.

The chief measure of the session was Mr. Chamberlain's
Bankruptcy Bill, which became law towards the end of August.
By this Bill official receivers of the Board of Trade were em-
ployed to make inquiries into the circumstances of each bank-
ruptcy, and to make reports thereon. Over the Agricultural
Holdings Bills for England and Scotland, strife like that over
the Land Act of 1881 was revived between the Lords and
Commons. The object of the measure was to compel landlords
to compensate outgoing tenants for improvements effected by
the tenants. After much wrangling the measures passed the
Commons, only to meet with the fiercest opposition in the
Lords from Lord Salisbury and his party. Had the Billa


emhodied every principle of tliat 'revolution' which is Lord
Salisbury's political bugbear, he could not have opposed them
with more fervour — a fervour which in the end many of his
adherents declined to emulate. Twice was the Bill, mangled
out of all meaning, sent back to the Commons, and twice the
Commons retm*ned it restoi-ed to its original form. Then Lord
Salisbury gave way. His colleagues would not support him in
further defiance of the Lower House. He held his hand, but
not his peace, and with Lord Salisbury's ban upon it the Agri-
cultural Holdings Bill, with its fellow Scottish measure, became
law on the last day but one of the session, August 24.
Another important measure, the Corrupt and Illegal Practices
Prevention Bill, was passed in this session, to become law on
the 15th of the October following. The measure represented a
determined effort on the part of the Government to enforce purity
of election. By this Bill any candidate found guilty of corrupt
practices was disabled from ever representing the constituency in
which the offences were committed, and from becoming a member
of the House of Commons, holding any public office, or voting at an
election for a. term of seven years. If, however, the offences are
committed through his agents, the candidate will only be disabled
from representing that particular constituency for the term of
seven years. A maximum expenditure for legitimate expenses
was allowed by the Act, beyond which neither the candidate nor
his agent would be allowed to go. The old custom of carrying
voters to the poll in conveyances was made illegal. Undue in-
fluence, the use of bribery, and treating were made misdemeanours
punishable by fine and imprisonment. Personation was declared
to be felony, and was punishable by impi-isonment with hard
labour. Mr. Chamberlain's Patents for Inventions Bill did
something towards remedying the unfairness of the existing
laws towards patentees. Some measures of what is generally
called paternal legislation had their origin in the House of
Lords, and became law. One of these measures prohibited the
payment of wages in public-houses; another looked after the
sanitary condition of workshops and factories. From the Lords,
too, came a measure dealing with the grievances of trawlers in


the North Sea. The Government wei'e oblisred to abandon
their Criminal Appeal Bill and the Criminal Code Bill, the
former proposing to establish a Court of Appeal in capital

Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyEngland under Gladstone, 1880-1885 → online text (page 26 of 38)