John Bulls Other Ireland was written in 1904 at the request of Mr William Butler Yeats, as a patriotic contribution to the repertory of the Irish Literary Theatre. Like most people who have asked me to write plays, Mr Yeats got rather more than he bargained for [...] The play was at that time beyond the resources of the new Abbey Theatre [...].
There was another reason for changing the destination of John Bulls Other Island. It was uncongenial to the whole spirit of the neo-Gaelic movement, which is bent on creating a new Ireland after its own ideal, whereas my pay is a very uncompromising presentment of the real old Ireland. [...]. Now I have a good deal more to say about he relations between the Irish and the English than will be found in my play. Writing the play for an Irish audience, I though it would be good for them to be shown very clearly that the loudest laugh they could raise at the expense of the absurdest Englishman was not really a laugh on their side, that he would succeed where they would fail; that he could inspire strong affection and loyalty in an Irishman who knew the world and was moved only to dislike, mistrust, impatience and exasperation by his own countrymen; that his power of taking himself seriously, and his insensibility to anything funny in danger and destruction, was the first condition of economy and concentration of forces, sustained purpose, and rational conduct. But the need for this [lesson] in Ireland is the measure of its demoralising superfluousness in England. English audience very naturally swallowed it eagerly and smacked their lips over it, because they felt that they were taking a caricature of themselves with the most tolerant and large-minded good-humour. They were perfectly willing to allow me to represent Tom Broadbent as infatuated in politics, hypnotised by his newspaper leaders and parliamentary orators into an utter paralysis of his common sense, without moral delicacy or social tact, provided I made him cheerful, robust, good-natured, free from envy, and above all, a successful muddler-through in business and love. Not only did no English critic allow that the success  in business of Messrs Broadbent and Irish Doyle might possibly have been due to some extent to Doyle, but one writer actually dwelt with much feeling on the pathos of Doyles failure as an engineer (a circumstance not mentioned nor suggested in my play) in contrast with Broadbents solid success. No doubt, when the play was performed in Ireland, the Dublin critics will regard it as self-evident that without Doyle Broadbent would have become bankrupt in six months. I should say, myself, that the combination was probably more effective than either of the partners would have been alone. I am persuaded further - without pretending to know more about it than anyone else - that Broadbents special contribution was simply the strength, self-satisfaction, social confidence and cheerful bumptiousness that money, comfort, and good feeding bring to all healthy people; and that Doyles special contribution was the freedom from illusion, the power of facing facts, the nervous industry, the sharpened wits, the sensitive pride of the imaginative man who has fought his way up through social persecution and poverty. I do not say that the confidence of the Englishman in Broadbent is not for the moment justified. The virtues of the English soil are not less real because they consist of coal and iron, not of metaphysical sources of character. The virtues of broadbent are not less real because they are the virtues of the money that coal and iron have produced. But as the mineral virtues are being discovered and developed in other soils, their derivative virtues are appearing so rapidly in other nations that Broadbents relative advantage is vanishing. In truth I am afraid (this misgiving is natural to a by-this-time slightly elderly playwright) that Broadbent is out of date. The successful Englishman of today, when his is not a transplanted Scotchman or Irishman, often turns out on investigation to be, if not American, an Italian, or a Jew, at lest to be depending on the brains, the nervous system, and the freedom form romantic illusions (often called cynicism) of such foreigners for the management of his source of income. At all events I am persuaded that a modern nation that is satisfied with Broadbent is in a dream. Much as I like him, I object to be governed by him, or entangled in his political destiny. I therefore propose to give him a piece of my mind here, as an Irishman, full of the instinctive pity for those of my fellow-creatures who are only English. (Cited [in part], inter alia, in Frank Harris, Shaw, p. 44; Louis MacNeice, Yeats, 1944; M. J. MacManus, Adventures of an Irish Bookman, 1952, p.92; Edna Longley, The Living Stream, 1994, p.135; Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, Jonathan Cape 1995, p.419, and Willy Maley, Varieties of Nationalism: Post-Revisionist Irish Studies, in Irish Studies Review, No.15, Summer 1996, pp.34-37, p.36.) [For longer extracts by section heading, see Irish Classic Texts, infra or connect directly]
WHAT IS AN IRISHMAN?" [section]: When I say that I am an Irishman I mean that I was born in Ireland, and that my native language is the English of Swift and not the unspeakable jargon of the mid-XIX century London newspapers. My extraction is the extraction of most Englishmen, that is, I have no trace in me of the commercially imported North Spanish stream that passes for aboriginal Irish, I am a genuine typical Irishman of the Danish, Norman, Cromwellian and (of course) Scotch invasions. I am violently and arrogantly Protestant by family tradition; but let no English government therefore count on my allegiance. I am English enough to be an inveterate Republican and Home Ruler. It is true that my grandfather was an Orangeman; but then his sister was an abbess; and his uncle, I am proud to say, was hanged as a rebel. When I look round me on the hybrid cosmopolitans, slum poisoned or square pampered, who call themselves Englishmen today, and see them bullied by the Irish Protestant garrison as no Bengalee how lets himself be bullied by an Englishman; when I see the Irishman everywhere standing clearheaded, sane, hardily callous to the boyish sentimentalities, susceptibilities, and credulities that make the Englishman the  dupe of every charlatan and the idolator of every numbskull, I perceive that Ireland is the only spot on earth which still produces the ideal Englishman of history. [...] England cannot do without its Irish and its Scots today because it cannot do without at least a little sanity.
THE PROTESTANT GARRISON: The more Protestant an Irishman is - the more English he is, if it flatters you to have it put that way, the more intolerable he finds it to be ruled by English instead of Irish folly. A loyal" Irishman is an abhorrent phenomenon, because I is an unnatural one.
OUR TEMPERAMENTS CONTRASTED: But however pleasant the relations between the Protestant garrison and the English gentry may be, they are always essentially of the nature of an entente cordiale between foreigners. [...] There is no Irish race any more than there is an English race or a Yankee race, but there is an Irish climate which will stamp an immigrant more deeply and durably in two years, apparently than the English climate will in two hundred. It is reinforced by an artificial economic climate which does some of the work attributed to the natural geographic one; but the geographic climate is eternal and irresistible, making a mankind and a womankind that Kent, Middlesex, and East Anglia cannot produce and do not want to imitate. (p.442.)
Roughly, I should say that the Englishman is wholly at the mercy of his imagination, having no sense of reality to check it. The Irishman, with a far subtler and more fastidious imagination, has one eye always on things as they are. How can I sketch the broad lines of the contrast as they strike me? Roughly I should say that the Englishman is wholly at the mercy of his imagination, having no sense of reality to check it. The Irishman, with a far subtler and more fastidious imagination, has one eye always on things as they are. If you compare Moores visionary Minstrel Boy with Mr Rudyard Kiplings quasi-realistic Soldiers Three, you may yawn over Moore or gush over him, but you will not suspect him of having had any illusions about the contemporary British private; whilst as to Mr Kipling, you will see that he has not, and unless he settles in Ireland for a few years will always remain constitutionally and congenitally incapable of having, the faintest inkling of the reality which he idolises as Tommy Atkins. Perhaps you have never thought of illustrating the contrast between English and Irish y Moore and Mr Kipling, or even by Parnell and Gladstone. Sir Boyle Roche and Shakespear[e] may seem more to your point. Let me find you a more dramatic instance. Think of the famous meeting between the Duke of Wellington, that intensely Irish Irishman, and Nelson, that intensely English Englishman. Wellingtons contemptuous disgust at Nelsons theatricality as a professed hero, patriot, and rhapsode, a theatricality which in an Irishman would have been an insufferably vulgar affectation, was quite natural and inevitable. Wellingtons formula for that kind of thing was a well-known Irish one: Sir: don't be a damned fool." It is the formula of all Irishmen for all Englishmen to this day. It is the formula of Larry Doyle for Tom Broadbent in my play, in spite of Doyles affection for Tom. Nelsons genius, instead of producing intellectual keenness and scrupulousness, produced mere delirium. He was drunk with glory, exalted by his fervent faith in the sound British patriotism of the Almighty, nerved by the vulgarest anti-foreign prejudice, and apparently unchastened by any reflections on the fact that he had never had to fight a technically capable and properly equipped enemy except on land, where he had never been successful. Compare Wellington, who had to fight Napoleons armies, Napoleons marshals, and finally Napoleon himself, without one moment of illusion as to the human material he had to command, without one gush of the Kiss me, Hardy" emotion which enabled Nelson to idolise his crews and his staff, without forgetting even in his dreams that the normal British officer of that time was an incapable amateur (as he still is) and the normal British soldier a never-do-well (he is now a depressed and respectable young man). No wonder Wellington became an accomplished comedian in the art of anti-climax, How can I sketch the broad lines of the contrast as they strike me? Roughly I should say that the Englishman is wholly at the mercy of his imagination, having no sense of reality to check it. The Irishman, with a far subtler and more fastidious imagination, has one eye always on things as they are. If you compare Moores visionary Minstrel Boy with Mr Rudyard Kiplings quasi-realistic Soldiers Three, you may yawn over Moore or gush over him, but you will not suspect him of having had any illusions about the contemporary British private; whilst as to Mr Kipling, you will see that he has not, and unless he settles in Ireland for a few years will always remain constitutionally and congenitally incapable of having, the faintest inkling of the reality which he idolises as Tommy Atkins. Perhaps you have never thought of illustrating the contrast between English and Irish y Moore and Mr Kipling, or even by Parnell and Gladstone. Sir Boyle Roche and Shakespear may seem more to your point. Let me find you a more dramatic instance. Think of the famous meeting between the Duke of Wellington, that intensely Irish Irishman, and Nelson, that intensely English Englishman. Wellingtons contemptuous disgust at Nelsons theatricality as a professed hero, patriot, and rhapsode, a theatricality which in an Irishman would have been an insufferably vulgar affectation, was quite natural and inevitable. Wellingtons formula for that kind of thing was a wellknown Irish one: Sir: dont be a damned fool. It is the formula of all Irishmen for all Englishmen to this day. It is the formula of Larry Doyle for Tom Broadbent in my play, in spite of Doyles affection for Tom. Nelsons genius, instead of producing intellectual keenness and scrupulousness, produced mere delirium. He was drunk with glory, exalted by his fervent faith in the sound British patriotism of the Almighty, nerved by the vulgarest anti-foreign prejudice, and apparently unchastened by any reflections on the fact that he had never had to fight a technically capable and properly equipped enemy except on land, where he had never been successful. Compare Wellington, who had to fight Napoleons armies, Napoleons marshals, and finally Napoleon himself, without one moment of illusion as to the human material he had to command, without one gush of the Kiss me, Hardy" emotion which enabled Nelson to idolise his crews and his staff, without forgetting even in his dreams that the normal British officer of that time was an incapable amateur (as he still is) and the normal British soldier a never-do-well (he is now a depressed and respectable young man). No wonder Wellington became an accomplished comedian in the art of anti-climax 442] scandalising the unfortunate Croker [...]. now that contrast is English against Irish all over, and is the more delicious because the real Irishman in it is the Englishman of tradition, whilst the real Englishman is the traditional theatrical foreigner. (pp.442-43.)
ENGLISH STUPIDITY EXCUSED: The odds against which our [the Irish] leaders have to fight would be too heavy for the fourth-rate Englishmen whose leadership consists for the most part in marking time ostentatiously until they are violently shoved, and then stumbling blindly forward (or backward) wherever the shove sends them. [Give an account of C. S. Parnell and John Redmond.] In short, our circumstances place a premium on political ability whilst the circumstances of England discount it [...] If you miss in my writings that hero-worship of dotards and duffers which is planting England with statures of disastrous statesmen and absurd generals, the explanation is simply that I am an Irishman and you are an Englishman. (p.444.)
IRISH PROTESTANTISM REALLY PROTESTANT: In Ireland all that the member of the Irish Protestant Church knows is that he is not a Catholic. [i]n Ireland the Church parent sends his son to a Wesleyan school (if it is convenient and socially eligible)  because he is indifferent to the form of Protestantism, provided it is Protestantism. There is also in Ireland a characteristic refusal to take ceremonies and even sacraments very seriously by way of strenuous objection to them [when] they are conducted with candles or incense.
A FUNDAMENTAL ANOMALY: The Protestant is theoretically an anarchist as afar as anarchism is practicable in human society: that is, he is an individualist, a free-thinker, a self-helper, a Whig, a Liberal, a mistruster and vilifier of the State, a rebel. The Catholic is theoretically a Collectivist, a self-abnegator, a Tory, a Conservative, a supporter of Church and State one and undivisible, an obeyer. This would be a statement of fact as well as of theory if ment were Protestants and Catholics by temperament and adult choice instead of by family tradition. [...; 446] In Ireland the Roman Catholic peasant cannot escape the religious atmosphere of his Church. Except when he breaks out like a naughty child he is docile; he is reverent; he is content to regard knowledge as something not his business; he is a child of his Church, and accepts it as the highest authority in science and philosophy. He speaks of himself as a son of the Church, calling his priest father instead of brother or Mister. To rebel politically, he must break away from parish tutelage and follow a Protestant leader on national questions. His Church naturally fosters his submissiveness. The British government and the Vatican may differ very vehemently as to whose subject the Irishman is to be; but they are quite agreed as to the propriety of his being a subject. (pp.446-47.)
THE NATURE OF POLITICAL HATRED: I am perfectly aware that the Irish love their priests as devotedly as the French loved them before the Revolution or as the Italians loved them before they imprisoned the Pope in the Vatican. They love their landlords too [...] They move the English [...] Please do not suppose that I speak  satirically: the world is full of authentic examples of the concurrence of human kindliness with political rancour. (p.448.).
THE REVOLT AGAINST THE PRIEST: Imagine being forbidden to read this preface [...] And imagine being bound to submit to all this because the popular side must hold together at all costs in the face of the Protestant enemy!
PROTESTANT LOYALTY: A FORECAST: There is a separation of the Irish people into two hostile camps: one Protestant, gentlemanly, and oligarchical; the other roman Catholic, popular, and democratic. The oligarchy governs Ireland as a bureaucracy deriving authority from the king of England. It cannot cast him off without casting off its own ascendancy. Therefore it naturally exploits him sedulously, drinking his health [...]. But let the English Government make a step towards the democratic party [...].
PROTESTANT PUGNACITY: Protestantism is an essentially Nationalist force in Ireland. [Of Daniel OConnell:] he died in the bosom of his Church, not in the bosom of his country. (p.449.) The notion that Ireland is the only country in the world  not worth shedding a drop of blood for in not a Protestant one, and certainly not countenanced by English practice. It is hardly reasonable to ask Parnell to shed blood quant. suff. in Egypt to put an end to the misgovernment of the Khedive and replace him by Lord Cromer for the sake of the English bondholders, and then to expect him to become a Tolstoyan or an OConnellite in regard to his own country. With a wholly Protestant Ireland at his back he might have bullied England into conceding Home Rule; for the insensibility of the English governing classes to philosophical, moral, social considerations - in short, to any considerations which require a little intellectual exertion - is tempered, as we Irish well know, by an absurd susceptibility to intimidation. Innumerable experiments in local government have shewn that when men are neither too poor to be honest nor too rich to understand and share the needs of the peoples - as in New Zealand, for example - they can govern much more providently than our little circle of aristocrats and plutocrats. (p.450.)
THE JUST ENGLISHMAN: it will be observed that no Englishman, without making himself ridiculous, could pretend to be perfectly just or disinterested in English affairs, or would tolerate a proposal to establish the Indian or Irish system in Great Britain. Yet if the justice of the Englishman is sufficient to ensure the welfare of India or Ireland, it ought to suffice equally for England. But the English are wise enough to refuse to trust English justice themselves, preferring democracy. (p.451.)
IRISH CATHOLICISM FORECAST: The Roman Catholic Church would become the official Irish Church [...] In a word, the Roman Catholic Church would meet with the one force on earth that can cope with it victoriously. That force is Democracy, a thing far more Catholic than itself. Until that force is let loose against it, the Protestant garrison can do nothing to the priesthood except consolidate it and drive the people to rally round it in defence of their altars against the foreigner and the heretic. When it is let loose, the Catholic laity will make as short work of sacerdotal tyranny in Ireland as it has done in France and Italy. And in doing so it will be forced to face the old problem of the relations of Church and State. (p.452.)
ENGLISH VOLTAIREANISM: The fact that Voltaire was a Roman Catholic layman, educated at a Jesuit college, is the constructive reply to the shallow people who imagine that Ireland delivered up to the Irish democracy - that is, to the Catholic laity - would be delivered up to the tyranny of the priesthood. (p.453.)
SUPPOSE!: What would have happened in France is what has happened in Ireland; and that is why it is only the small-minded Irish, incapable of conceiving what religious freedom means to a country, who do not loathe English rule. For in Ireland England is nothing but the Popes policeman. She imagines she is holding the Vatican cardinals at bay when she is really strangling the Voltaires, the Foxes and Penns, the Cliffords, Hortons, Campbells, Walters, and Silvester Hornes, who are to be found among the Roman Catholic laity as plentifully as among the Anglican Catholic laity in England. She gets no trouble out of Ireland but infinite trouble, infinite confusion and hindrance in her own legislation, a hatred that circulates through the whole world and poisons it against her, a reproach that makes her professions of sympathy with Finland  and Macdonia ridiculous and hypocritical, whilst the priest takes all the spoils, in money, in power, in pride, and popularity. (pp.453-54.)
IRELANDs REAL GRIEVANCE: if you expose the tyranny and rapacity of the Church , it is an argument in favour of Protestant ascendancy. If you denounce the nepotism and jobbery of the new local authorities, you are demonstrating the unfitness of the Irish to govern themselves, and the superiority of the old oligarchical grand juries.
And there is the same pressure on the other side. The Protestant must stand by the garrison at all costs: the Unionist must wink at every bureaucratic abuse, connive at tyranny, magnify every official blockhead, because their exposure would be a victory for the Nationalist enemy. Every Irishman is in Lancelots position: his horror rooted in dishonour stands; and faith unfaithful keeps him falsely true. (p.455.)
THE CURSE OF NATIONALISM: It is hardly possible for an Englishman to understand all that this implies. A conquered nation is like a man with cancer, he can think of nothing else, and is forced to place himself in the hands of quacks who profess to treat or cure cancer. The windbags of the two rival platforms are the most insufferable of all windbags. It requires neither knowledge, character, conscience, diligence in public affairs, nor any virtue, private or communal, to thump the Nationalist or the Orange tub: nay, it puts a premium on the rancour or callousness that has given rise to the proverb that if you put an Irishman on a spit you can always get another Irishman to baste him. [...; 454]. Nationalism stands between Ireland and the light of the world. Nobody in Ireland of any intelligence likes Nationalism any more than a man with a broken arm likes having it set. A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a nations nationality, it will think of nothing else but having it set [again]. A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man is of his bones. But if you break a nations nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again. It will listen to no reformer, to no philosopher, to no preacher, until the demand of the Nationalist is granted. It will attend to no business, however vital, except the business of unification and liberation.
That is why everything is in abeyance in Ireland pending the achievement of Home Rule. The great movements of the human spirit which seep in waves over Europe are stopped on the Irish coast by the English guns of the Pigeon House Fort. Only a quaint little off-shoot of English pre-Raphaelism called the Gaelic movement has got a footing by using Nationalism as a stalking horse, and popularising itself as an attack on the native language of the Irish people, which is most fortunately also the native language of the world, including England. Every election is fought on nationalist grounds; every judge is a partisan in the nationalist conflict; every speech is a dreary recapitulation of nationalist twaddle; every lecture is a corruption of history to flatter nationalism or defame it; every school is a recruiting station; every church is a barrack; and every Irishman is unspeakably tired of the whole miserable business, which nevertheless is and perforce must remain the first business until Home Rule makes an end of it, and sweeps the nationalist and the garrison hack together into the dustbin.
There is indeed no greater curse to a nation than a nationalist movement, which is only the agonising symptom of a suppressed natural function. Conquered nations lose their place in the worlds march because they can do nothing but strive to get rid of their nationalist movements by recovering their national liberty. All demonstrations of the virtues of a Foreign government, though often conclusive, are as useless as demonstrations of the superiority of artificial teeth, glass eyes, silver windpipes, and patently wooden legs to the natural products. Like Democracy, national self-government is not for the good of the people: it is for the satisfaction of the people. [...] To take the government of Ireland away from the Irish and hand it over to the English on the ground that they can govern better would be a precisely parallel case if the English had managed their own affairs so well as to place their superior faculty for governing beyond question. But the English are avowed muddlers, rather proud of it [...] (p.455.)
A NATURAL RIGHT: The question is not one of logic at all, but of natural right. [...] Even if Home Rule were as unhealthy as an Englishmans eating, as intemperate as his drinking, as filthy as his smoking, as licentious as his domesticity, as corrupt as his elections, as murderously greedy as his commerce, as cruel as his prisons, Irelands claim to self-government would still be as good as Englands. [...] America, as far as one can ascertain, is much worse governed, and has a much more disgraceful political history than England under Charles I; but the American Republic is the stabler government because it starts from a formal concession of natural rights, and keeps up an illusion of safeguarding them by an elaborate machinery of democratic election. And the final reason why Ireland must have Home Rule is that she has a natural right to it. (p.456.)
A WARNING: Ireland has been deliberately ruined again and again by England [...] In wrecking all the industries that were based on the poverty of our people England did us an enormous service. In  omitting to do the same on her own soil, she did herself a wrong that has rotted her almost to the marrow. [...] I hope that when Home Rule is at last achieve, one of our first legislative acts will be to fortify the subsistence of our people behind the bulwark of a standard wage, and to impose crushing import duties on every English trade that flourishes in the slum and fattens on the starvation of our unfortunate English neighbours. (pp.456-57.)
DOWN WITH THE SOLDIER: Let her look to her Empire; for unless she makes it such a Federation for civil strength and defence that all free peoples will cling to it voluntarily, it will inevitably become a military tyranny to prevent them from abandoning it; and such a tyranny will drain the English taxpayer of his money more effectively than the worst cruelties can ever drain its victims of their liberty. A political scheme that cannot be carried out except by soldiers will not be a permanent one. The soldier is an anachronism of which we must get rid. [...] he had the easiest of lives [...] he is politically and socially a child, with rations instead of rights, treated liek a child, punished like a child, excused fro outbreaks of naughtiness like a child, forbidden to marry like a child, and called Tommy like a child [...] the officer learns to punish but never to rule [...] (p.457.)
THE DENSHAWAI HORROR [an episode in which British officers shooting pigeons to the indignation of their local owners spark a riot resulting in the hanging of four natives.]
A YEAR LATER & TWENTY FOUR YEARS LATER (appendices): The sequel to these events confirmed my unheeded warning with a sanguinary completeness of which I had no prevision. At Easter 1916 a handful of Irishmen seized the Dublin Post Office and proclaimed an Irish Republic, with one of their number, a schoolmaster named Pearse, as President. If all Ireland had risen at this gesture it would have been a serious matter for England, then up to her neck in the war against the Central Empires. But there was no response: the gesture was a complete failure. All that was necessary was to blockade the Post Office until its microcosmic republic was starved out and made ridiculous. What actually happened would be incredible if there were not so many living witnesses of it. From a battery planted at Trinity College (the Irish equivalent of Oxford University), and from a warship in the river Liffey, a bombardment was poured on the centre of the city which reduced more than a square mile of it to such a condition that when, in the following year, I was taken through Arras and Ypres to shew me what the German artillery had done to these cities in two and a half years, I laughed and said, You should see what the British artillery did to my native city in a week. It would not be true to say that not one stone was left upon another; for the marksmanship was so bad that the Post Office itself was left standing amid a waste of rubbish heaps; and enough scraps of wall were left for the British Army, which needed recruits, to cover with appeals to the Irish to remember Belgium lest the fate of Louvain should befall their own hearths and homes.
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Having thus worked up a harebrained romantic adventure into a heroic episode in the struggle for Irish freedom, the victorious artillerists proceeded to kill their prisoners of war in a drawn-out string of executions. Those who were executed accordingly became not only national heroes, but the martyrs whose blood was the seed of the present Irish Free State. Among those who escaped was its first President. Nothing more blindly savage, stupid, and terror-mad could have been devised by England's worst enemies. It was a very characteristic example of the mentality produced by the conventional gentleman-militarist education at Marlborough and Sandhurst and the conventional gentleman-diplomatist education  at Eton and Oxford, Harrow and Cambridge. Is it surprising that the Russian Soviet Government, though fanatically credulous as to the need for popular education, absolutely refused to employ as teachers anyone who had been touched by the equivalent public school and university routine in Russia, and stuck to its resolution even at the cost of carrying on for some years with teachers who were hardly a day ahead of their pupils?
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But the Post Office episode was eclipsed by an event which was much more than an episode, as it shattered the whole case for parliamentary government throughout the world. The Irish Nationalists, after thirty years of constitutional procedure in the British Parliament, had carried an Act to establish Irish Home Rule, as it was then called, which duly received the royal assent and became a statute of the realm. Immediately the British officers on service in Ireland mutinied, refusing to enforce the Act or. operate against the northern Orangemen who were openly arming themselves to resist it. They were assured of support by their fellow-officers at home. The Act was suspended after prominent English statesmen had taken part in the military maneuvers of the Orangemen. The Prime Minister publicly pledged himself that Belfast, the Orange capital, would not in any case be coerced. In short, the Act was shelved under a threat of civil war; and the Clan na Gael,, which in America had steadfastly maintained that the constitutional movement was useless, as England would in the last resort repudiate the constitution and hold Ireland against the Irish by physical force, and had been rebuked, lectured, and repudiated by the parliamentary Home Rulers for a whole generation for saying so, was justified. The Catholic Irish accordingly armed themselves and drilled as Volunteers in spite of the hostility of the Government, which meanwhile gave every possible assistance to the parallel preparations of the Orangemen. An Irish parliament (or Dail) sat in Dublin and claimed to be the national government. Irish courts were set up for the administration of Irish justice; Irish order was kept by Irish police; Irish taxes were collected by Irish officials; and British courts were boycotted. Upon this interesting but hopeless attempt to ignore British rule the Government let loose a specially recruited force (known to history as the Black and Tans) with carte blanche to kill, burn, and destroy, save only that they must stop short of rapine. They wrecked the Irish courts and produced a state of anarchy. They struck at the Irish through the popular co-operative stores and creameries, which they burnt. The people found a civil leader in Arthur Griffiths [sic] and a military one in Michael Collins. The Black and Tans had the British Government at their back: Collins bad the people at his back. He threatened that for every creamery or co-operative store or cabin or cottage burnt by the Black and Tans he would burn two country houses of the Protestant gentry. The country houses that were not burnt were raided at night and laid under contribution for needed supplies. If the occupants reported the raid, the house was burnt. The Black and Tans and the ordinary constabulary were treated as enemies in uniform: that is, they were shot at sight and their stations burnt; or they were ambushed and killed in petty battles. Those who gave warnings or information of any helpful kind to them were mercilessly executed without privilege of sex or benefit of clergy. Collins, with allies in every street and hamlet, proved able to carry out his threat. He won the crown of the Reign of Terror; and the position of the Protestant gentry became unbearable.
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Thus by fire and bullet, murder and torture and devastation, a situation was produced in which the British Government  had either to capitulate at the cost of a far more complete concession of self-government to Ireland than that decreed by the repudiated Home Rule Act, or to let loose the military strength of England in a Cromwellian reconquest, massacre, and replantation which it knew that public opinion in England and America would not tolerate; for some of the most conspicuous English champions of Ulster warned the Government that they could stand no more of the Black and Tan terrorism. And so we settled the Irish Question, not as civilised and reasonable men should have settled it, but as dogs settle a dispute over a bone.
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Future historians will probably see in these catastrophes a ritual of human sacrifice without which the savages of the twentieth century could not effect any redistribution of political power or wealth. Nothing was learnt from Denshawai or the Black and Tan terror. In India, which is still struggling for self-government, and obviously must finally have it, a military panic led to the cannonading of a forbidden public meeting at Amritsar, the crowd being dealt with precisely as if it were a body of German shocktroops rushing the British trenches in Flanders. In London the police would have broken a score or two of heads and dragged a handful of ringleaders to the police courts. And there was the usual combination of mean spite with hyperbolical violence. Indians were forced to crawl past official buildings on their hands and knees. The effect was to make British imperial rule ridiculous in Europe, and implacably resented in India.
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In Egypt the British domination died of Denshawai; but at its deathbed the British Sirdar was assassinated, whereupon the British Government, just then rather drunk after a sweeping election victory secured by an anti-Russian scare, announced to an amazed world that it was going to cut off the Nile at its source and destroy Egypt by stopping its water supply. Of course nothing happened but an ignominious climb down; but the incident illustrates my contention that our authority, when it is too far flung (as our patriotic rhapsodists put it), goes stark mad at the periphery if a pin drops. As to what further panics and atrocities will ensue before India is left to govern itself as much as Ireland and Egypt now are I am in the dark until the event enlightens me. But on the folly of allowing military counsels to prevail in political settlements I may point to the frontiers established by the victors after the war of 1914-18. Almost every one of these frontiers has a new war implicit in it, because the soldier recognises no ethnographical, linguistic, or moral boundaries: be demands a line that be can defend, or rather that Napoleon or Wellington could have defended; for he has not yet learnt to think of offence and defence in terms of airplanes which ignore his Waterloo ridges. And the inevitable nationalist rebellions against these military frontiers, and the atrocities by which they are countered, are in full swing as I write.
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Meanwhile, John Bull's Other Island, though its freedom has destroyed all the romantic interest that used to attach to it, has become at last highly interesting to the student of political science as an experiment in political structure. Protestant Ulster, which armed against The rest of Ireland and defied the British Parliament to the cry of We wont have it, meaning that they would die in the last ditch singing O God, our help in ages past rather than suffer or tolerate Home Rule, is now suffering and indeed hugging Home Rule on a much more homely scale than the Home Rulers ever demanded or dreamt of; for it has a Belfast Home Rule Parliament instead of an Irish one. And it has allowed Catholic Ireland to secure the Irish parliament. Thus, of the two regional parliaments which have been  established on a sectarian basis, Protestant Ulster has been left with the smaller. Now it happens that Protestant Ulster is industrial Ireland and Catholic Ireland agricultural Ireland. And throughout the world for a century past the farmer, the peasant, and the Catholic have been the bulwark of the industrial capitalists against the growing political power of the industrial proletariat organized in trade unions, Labor parties, and the ubiquitous sodalities of that new ultra-Catholic Church called Socialism.
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From this defensive alliance the Ulster employers, blinded by an obsolete bigotry and snobbery, have deliberately cut themselves off. In my preface of 1906, and again in my 1912 preface to a sixpenny edition of this play called the Home Rule edition,, I exhorted the Protestants to take their chance, trust their grit, and play their part in a single parliament ruling an undivided Ireland. They did not take my advice. Probably they did not even read it, being too deeply I absorbed in the History of Maria Monk or the latest demonstration that all the evil in the world is the work of an underground conspiracy entitled by them the Jesuits. It is a pity they did not begin their political education, as I began mine, by reading Karl Marx. It is true that I had occasion to point out that Marx was not infallible; but he left me with a very strong disposition to back the economic situation to control all the other situations, religious, nationalist, or romantic, in the long run. And so I do not despair of seeing Protestant Ulster seeking the alliance it repudiated. The Northern Parliament will not merge into the Oireachtas; for until both of them are superseded by a completely modernised central government, made for action and not for obstruction, they will remain more effective as regional parliaments than they would be as national ones; but they will soon have to take counsel together through conferences which will recur until they become a permanent institution and finally develop into what the Americans call Congress, or Federal Government of the whole island. No doubt this will be received in Belfast (if noticed at all) with shouts of We wont have it. But I have heard that cry before, and regard it as a very hopeful sign that they will have it gladly enough when they have the luck to get it.
(Ayot St Lawrence, November 1929)