My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 31
SECOND VISIT TO EUROPE
Death of John Martin—Meath election—Forged telegrams and their consequences—Butt and Independent Opposition—News of old friends—Letters to my wife—Archbishop Manning—John Forster—Letter from William Allingham—Orion Horne's literary claims—An offer of the Elixir vitæ—Negotiations for re-entering Parliament—Why I declined—Lord Emley—Morell Mackenzie—The O'Connell Centenary—I decline the Lord Mayor's political projects—Lord O'Hagan's centenary oration—Farewell visit of Lord O'Hagan at Monaco—I return to Australia.
I landed at Brindisi on a dazzling spring day, and the landscape through which we passed, making in an express train for the French frontier, looked like glimpses of Paradise. I stopped in the South of France promising myself a long holiday of absolute idleness before going to London or Dublin. The newspapers announced the death of John Martin, hastened by his attendance at the funeral of his brother-in-law John Mitchel. Martin's death created a vacancy in the representation of the County Meath in the beginning of March, and I immediately received the following telegram from the Reverend Peter O'Reilly and the Reverend Michael Tormey, inviting me to stand for the seat:—
John Martin dead, telegraph will you stand for Meath. At a conference in Kells on Monday twenty-four priests present, much enthusiasm the bishop not disapproving. Come home, success certain.
I replied that I did not desire a seat in Parliament, and could not go home, as I was about to be subjected to treatment for the recovery of my voice; but if I were elected I would feel it my duty to act.
Immediately after I received a letter from my friend J. J. McCarthy:—
Dr. Donnelly, Bishop of Clogher (he wrote), called here this morning, and showed me a letter from Dr. Nulty, Bishop of Meath, saying that he and several of the priests were in your favour, and were sure you would have a "walk over"; but that they could not make out your address to communicate with you. Dr. Donnelly has telegraphed your address to Dr. Nulty, and by his advice I have sent to Dr. Nulty your telegram to W. Dillon.
That is how affairs stand just now. Let them say will they have you under the old flag. There is talk also of naming you for Tipperary.
The telegram referred to in McCarthy's letter was as follows:
John Martin dead. Parnell candidate of Home Rule League would probably retire if you join League and stand. Wire reply. Wm. Dillon, 15, Nassau Street, Dublin.
William Dillon was the eldest son of my late well beloved friend John Dillon, and though I was somewhat surprised at his interference with a constituency with which he was unconnected, this was my reply:—
Thanks. I do not seek a constituency, but I am a Repealer, as I have been all my life, and if Meath elect me I will do my best in concert with the Irish members to serve the Irish cause. Should the constituency be dissatisfied with me at any time, I will resign. But if it be made a condition that I shall join the League and adopt its novel formula instead of the principles held by me in common with O'Connell, O'Brien, Davis, Dillon, Dr. Maginn, Meagher, and all the Nationalists in my time, that I cannot do.—Gavan Duffy.
At the same time I wrote to Mr. Dillon:—
My dear Sir,—I answered your telegram this morning, but Foreign Telegraph Offices make such a hash of messages in English that I think it better to enclose you a copy.
I do not seek a seat in Parliament, and I will only accept one, if it comes unsought, as a duty—the sort of duty we all owe to our country. A seat in Parliament to a man who means to use it only for public ends is a heavy burthen and a constant responsibility. I do not believe one man worth sending there has gone from Ireland to the House of Commons as a popular representative in my day, whose life was not shortened by the toils and chagrins of the position. It probably shortened the life of John Martin; I am persuaded it shortened the life of your father; it certainly, killed Frederick Lucas, and perhaps George Henry Moore. That is not a reason for shrinking from it any more than a man would be justified in shrinking from a forlorn hope in a just war; but it is a good reason, I think, for not soliciting a seat as if it were a personal favour or a personal advantage.
You intimate that I would be expected to join the Home Rule League. If joining it would mean adopting its programme, that is a step I am not prepared to take. Considering that the Repeal Association in the era of its greatest power and authority found it necessary to recognise that opinion cannot be always cast in the same mould by opening its doors to Federalists, it is doubtful policy, I think, for Federalists to shut their doors on those Repealers who prefer the principles and policy of 1844 to those of 1874. But be that as it may my opinions on the National question have long been fixed. I maintained them at some peril in Ireland, and against constant assaults in a new country where they were used to trip one up in every step of public life, and I cannot alter them now for a seat in Parliament or any other consideration. My convictions are my masters, not my servants, and I have no choice.
I thank those who thought of me on this occasion, and I shall be content whatever course they may determine to take.—Believe me, my dear sir very faithfully yours,
C. Gavan Duffy.
Isaac Butt had come into Parliament in later years, was leader of the Irish Party, and had given it a creed which it is probable no one now remembers, but it contained one provision very offensive to me: he rejected and repudiated Independent Opposition. Not only did his party not adopt the principle, but some of them who had pronounced for it before their constituents, notably Mr. Biggar, were required to repudiate it. I was very much alarmed at the danger of this policy renewing sooner or later the old practice of place-begging and subserviency to the English Government. It might be subserviency to the Tory Party next time, as it was to the Whig Party this time, but the upshot would be the same.
In a few days some friends in Dublin informed me that my telegram was carried to the Home Rule League with the alarming assurance that I repudiated the League and was coming into Parliament to destroy it. They were exhorted to defend themselves, and they immediately adopted the candidature of Mr. Parnell, then an unknown young squire, and sent down a deputation to Meath to promote it. Later Father Tormey informed me that the Conference would have adopted my candidature, and carried it to success, but that would have broken up the National Party in Meath, and as was indifferent to a seat they avoided such a catastrophe by not proposing me. The perplexing incident was that son of John Dillon's should have used my telegram for such a purpose, and it was a great satisfaction to me to receive a letter from him informing me that his name was signed to the telegram without his knowledge or authority, and during his absence from Dublin. A note which I wrote to Father Peter O'Reilly will complete the narrative of this sinister transaction:—
My dear Father Peter,—I have not the slightest feeling of disappointment with respect to the Meath election. As long as the people have no need of me in Parliament, I have no need whatever of a seat. I consented to accept one as you might consent to undertake a mission in an infected district, because a man must do the duty that belongs to his position of life at whatever cost.
Here the matter might rest for ever as far as I am concerned; but I have learned from Mr. William Dillon a series of facts which place the late election in such a new and painful light that I feel bound to state them plainly for the information of my friends in Meath to whom I am bound by so many old ties.
There were four telegrams sent in Mr. William Dillon's name one to Paris, one to Monaco, and two to my club in London, with respect to the Meath election. All these telegrams were forgeries, issued without Mr. Dillon's knowledge or authority. When an answer came from me it was opened before Mr. Dillon heard of its existence, and Mr. Parnell's address immediately issued and a canvass commenced before any letter from Meath had reached me. The persons engaged in this transaction have induced Mr. Dillon to promise to conceal their names, and while he has felt bound to reveal the forgery to me he shelters the forgers from exposure.
You will note of course the effect of employing Mr. Dillon's name. Had some young man unconnected with Meath thought proper to interrogate me on my opinions and intentions respecting that constituency, you may surmise how I would have treated such an attempt had not the writer been the son of John Dillon. I do not blame Mr. Dillon at all, except for having withheld the facts from me till the election was over, instead of communicating them at once, when I might, had I thought fit, have gone to Meath and rendered the success of the conspirators impossible.
And now it is a fact of very great importance for Meath to know who were the forgers? A Latin proverb says that to discover who did a wrong, you must consider whom the wrong benefits.
No doubt it was done either in the interest of Mr. Parnell's candidature, or in the interest of some person in the Home Rule League.
That there are some persons in the League and in Parliament who wish to exclude me is very possible. Of course men might honestly desire to do so who regard me as incompetent or untrustworthy, but men of that sort do not have recourse to forgeries. I know nothing of Mr. Parnell except that he is reputed to be a young man of good character and position, and this device could not emanate from any person entitled to be so described.
It would be very improper of me to make these statements in secret, and therefore I fully authorise any use of them that may be considered necessary by those who are responsible for the honour of Meath. Very faithfully yours,
C. Gavan Duffy.
Mr. William Dillon, on my strong insistence, at length named the person who had taken this liberty with his name, but after more than twenty years I am unwilling to complete the painful exposure. The offender is still busy in Irish politics, and poses, I perceive, as a man of honour and distinction, and perhaps he has learned to amend his ways; at any rate his father was a good Irishman of constant and unobtrusive patriotism, and for his father's sake I forgive him.
Mr. Butt was much elated by the Meath election. It disembarrassed him of an associate with theories of his own, and who insisted on the dangerous novelty of Independent Opposition. In his place he got a young man who accepted the entire programme of the League without demur, and who it might be hoped would prove a steady and deferential supporter. Alas for the futility of human hopes; in a brief time the new recruit completely overthrew the power of the leader, succeeded to his place, and established Independent Opposition as one of the permanent principles of the National programme in Ireland.
Cashel Hoey sent me news of my friends. I surmise from his note that I had quoted Mangan's "Lament":—
My eyes are filmed and my beard is gray!
And I'm bent with the weight of years;
May I soon go down to my house of clay,
With my long lost youth's compeers." &c
Don't talk to me (he wrote) of your long lost youth's compeers; your particular cronies among them are all looking as if they had just turned a new climacteric, and meant to go on to eighty at the very least. Lord O'Hagan was here last week, intending to take my Lady to Bournemouth next day for sea air. My wife, who is in Ireland dined with John O'Hagan last week, and he is taking to poetry again. I leave you to draw your conclusions from that. D F. MacCarthy dined with me recently. He is retranslating into assonant verse all the plays of Calderon which he originally rendered in blank. He looks nearly but not quite as young as you do, or at least did when I saw you last. Lord Granard I tells me that the other M'C. has been staying with him at Castle Forbes, and after a good brush with the gout is as lusty as a cricket Dr. Murray, too, recently published another theological volume, and is the strongest man of his age in Maynooth, as you are of your years in Melbourne, and MacKenna of his in London. There is a good deal of gristle in Monaghan men.
The incidents of this journey would occupy a volume, but as I can only afford them a chapter I must pick and choose. A few scraps from my correspondence with my wife will furnish all that is necessary of my route and occupation:—
Modena in the Alps, June 12, 1874.
I am resting a day here on the frontier of France and Italy, close to St. Michel where we took the diligence over the Alps, when we went to Rome. I am here under strange circumstances. I took a through ticket from Venice to Paris, and when I read it en route I discovered that though you can break the journey three times in Italy you are not permitted to break it in France, though the journey from Venice to Paris occupies twenty-three hours. I determined to stop at the last Italian station and reduce the journey to nineteen hours, or perhaps less. But after I stopped at Modena I found I had just crossed the frontier and was in France. I represented to the Chef de Gare, an official blazing in gold lace, that I was an invalid whom twenty-three hours' travelling would prostrate, and that I was not a German upon whom such a punishment might, of course, be properly inflicted. But my remonstrance would probably have been in vain, but for an unexpected deus ex machinâ, a door opened near us and an official put out his head and cried in an unequivocal Munster brogue, "Sure he must let you rest, if you're donny." And, with the help of my countryman, so he did.
Paris, June 16th.
I have been to-day in Paris, and find it only a shadow of its old self. The Palais Royal and the Boulevards are occupied, it seems to me, by an inferior class, and are imperfectly lighted. The Tuileries are as desolate and ugly as an exterminated Irish village; there is a political crisis, and men and things look dismal. In short it is not the Paris of long ago.
I shall push on to London to get a hair-cutter I can trust, for a countryman of Cleopatra's at Alexandria clipped me as if I were about to wear a fez. Since I came on shore I sleep better and I eat with some relish, which I never did at sea. It isn't yet two months since I left Hawthorn and it seems a generation, I have seen and endured so much.
London, June 20th.
I am again in London; Hoey met me at the station and assured me that on account of Ascot Races there was not a vacancy in a London hotel, and asked me to his house, Mrs. Hoey being in France, which left a spare room. I have accepted his invitation, and was pleased to find what a well-appointed house, and, above all, what excellent and skilful servants, he has got. Lady O'Hagan is a young and agreeable woman, and they are so much in society that a dinner which they made for me was the first they had eaten at home for two months. I have made arrangements to remove to the Alexandra Hotel, where friends can visit me, after two or three days with Hoey.
London, July 7th.
The Australian mail is several days overdue, and this note must go without my hearing from home. During the fortnight I have been here I have constantly dined out, among others, with Lord Carnarvon, Lord Emly, Lord O'Hagan (repeatedly), Sir Charles Dilke, Sir Colman O'Loghlen, and various persons of political importance whose names you do not know. I dined at a whitebait dinner yesterday given by the Permanent Secretaries for the Colonies and I was placed on Mr. Herbert's right hand the Governor of Ceylon being only on his left, and the Colonial Agents General in worse places. My "morbid vanity," for which the Argus vouch, was abundantly gratified. Michie has almost entirely recovered his voice; he has introduced me to the doctor who cured him. I hope I will do as well.
When I arrived in Paris, Marshal MacMahon was President of the Republic, and I was much interested in seeing so notable an Irishman in such a position. An extract from my diary will tell all that need be said of that time:—
April 23, 1875.—Went to a reception of the President of the Republic at the Elysee, where his predecessor concocted the coup d'etat MacMahon looks very Irish—not intrinsically different from many Irish soldiers whom I have seen, or even many Irish policemen—large frank fiery. The French officers, of whom there were many present had less of what we are accustomed to call the look of gentlemen than officers of the British Army, and among the civilians there was often a decidedly commonplace looking person. Several of the Orleans princes were there, and one of them, the Due d'Alençon, is one of the handsomest young men I have ever seen; Providence has been too good to him. The Duke of Némours, who is gray and furrowed, has a soldierly bearing and noble address. There were many of the old Irish—Nugent, O'Brien, O'Neill —0 as soldiers or officials. Nugent is a fine old man and had the air of a nobleman as much as any one there. They are all Legitimists, I understand, and scarcely any one of them speaks a word of English. One of them, Captain MacDermott I think, made a very effective retort upon me. I expressed my surprise that he did not continue to speak English in memory of his ancestors. "Monsieur," said he, "when my ancestors lived in their native country they spoke their native tongue." Vive le MacDermott! The ladies, though covered with jewels, were not dazzling by their beauty. In fact I was amazed at the small proportion of handsome women.
I asked Count Nugent to point out the Ministers of the Republic, and he said, contemptuously, that they were gentlemen he didn't know.
During this visit to Paris and many subsequent visits, I saw much of Mr. J. P. Leonard, who was a type of the best class of Irish exiles. He lived all his life, from boyhood, in France, but everything Irish engaged his constant interest and attention, and he laboured as systematically to foster Irish interests, and spread an intelligent knowledge of Ireland in France as if he were Chargé d'affaires of a National Government. His métier was a professorship in the College of St. Barbe. On these occasions I also saw much of Mr. O'Leary, who had been released from imprisonment on condition of living abroad. He was a Fenian of a class which I had never seen before, and rarely afterwards; moderate in opinion, generally just to opponents, and entirely without passion or enthusiasm except a devoted love of Ireland. He was a great reader of books, and, I fear, a great dreamer of dreams.
Susan's old friend, Miss O'Meara, says my diary, told me that Beranger had resided for several years in the rather shabby pension on the Rue Chateaubrand (No. 3) with Madame Thérèse. Their meals were served in their apartment, and he never came to the table, d'hôte, or drawing-room. She sometimes did, and was received by the most strait-laced English as a personage. The habitual life of this epicurean poet was as simple and regular as that of an English artisan of the better sort. He went to a café in the evening, and seldom received any person. His dress was the Sunday clothes of an ouvrier, coarse, loose, and ill-made, but clean and orderly.
In London I went on a visit to Lord O'Hagan for a time, but I was unwilling to bring to the house of a judge the miscellaneous political clientèle who sought me from time to time. Two or three scraps from my diary will suffice:—
I met Dr. Manning, the new Archbishop of Westminister, at dinner, and had a long talk with him and O'Hagan on Irish affairs, in which he takes a genuine interest.
Went to hear Dr. Manning preach. The style is correct and solid, but to my Celtic taste it is so tame as to be ineffectual; it runs on like a gently rippling brook, which never breaks into cascades. Dined with him afterwards, in his strange, naked mansion in the purlieus of Westminister. He talks well and frankly, and with generous freedom from reserve. I spoke to him of Australia; he recommended the new religious orders for that country in preference to the older ones, which, with the exception of the Jesuits, have done their work. In all new countries there is a tendency, hard to control, to grasp land or gold; it had marred the Protestant missions, and must be sedulously guarded against in the Catholic ones. As regards politics, he said that the comfort and happiness of the working people was the first duty of Government as well as philanthropy; he said he was cordially with Ireland in the effort to undo altogether the work of injustice and mis-government. As for English parties, he knew Gladstone from early manhood, and sympathised much with him, but if he desired, as it was alleged, to disestablish the English Church, there they must part. He regarded the Established Church as a bulwark against Agnosticism which it would be a grievous error to remove.
I found poor John Forster seriously ill and very hopeless about himself. He has not left the house for months, and fears that he will never leave it. I am deeply touched by the condition of a man whom I have known for more than twenty years, and who was inexhaustible in his kindness and services. He has been the intimate friend of Carlyle, Dickens, Bulwer Lytton, Savage, Landor, Browning, and many more, and seems to have been loved by them all.
Before I left London Isaac Butt wrote to me:—
Wheatsheaf, Virginia Water, June 27, 1874.
My dear Duffy,—I was greatly disappointed at leaving London without calling on you to welcome you back.
You know, no doubt, the task I have before me on Tuesday. I have been overworked, and am low and depressed, and came down here for quietness and a little preparation.
I will hope after Tuesday to see you. How much have we to speak of i How many things have passed, how many have changed since last we met!—Yours ever as of old, sincerely,
Among the new friends I made at this time was William Allingham the poet. A note or two from him indicates business in which we were engaged, and revives the memory of a man whom I liked and admired:—
Lynmouth, N. Devon, September 19, 1874
Dear Sir Charles Duffy,—Best thanks for your kindness as to my book; I have not yet heard the result. Also for photographs which I shall doubtless find on my return to London. I should have written sooner, but have been busy getting married! Hoping to have the pleasure of seeing you again when I come back next month, I am, sincerely yours,
Later he urged me to write in Frazer's Magazine, of which he was editor, and at the same time Father Coleridge invited me to write in the Month, and Cashel Hoey in the Dublin Review, but I was determined to have a genuine holiday, and replied to them all by an emphatic negative.
Orion Horne, who was now in England, had passed his seventieth year, and had made no adequate provision for the trying days which were to come. Some of his friends determined that an application for a literary pension should be made on his behalf. A little earlier he had found it necessary to apply to the literary fund managed by men of letters for some temporary help, and they sent him double the sum he asked, with an expression of surprise and regret that he should have need to make such an application. But politicians are made of sterner stuff. The memorial on his behalf set forth that Mr. Horne was the author of "Orion" and many other works in poetry—dramatical and lyrical—which had long since received the highest eulogies from the highest quarters, and cited other official public work in which he was engaged. There were six-and-twenty signatures of whom it is only necessary to specify—Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle, Ruskin, Swinburne, Kingsley, Morris, Lord Lytton, Mathew Arnold, Rossetti, Sir Henry Taylor, and men eminent in science and art like Owen and Millais. How any minister could consider himself entitled to disregard an appeal so supported is hard to understand, but nothing came of it. His hope was kept alive by rumours from time to time that the thing was about to be done, which he generally reported to me. "Robert Browning," he wrote to me, "being on a visit at Alton Towers, it so befell that Gladstone came there also for a few days. Being together in the library next morning Browning began to speak about me, when suddenly Lady Marion Alford (a visitor likewise) darted from behind one of the reading niches and backed what R. B. was saying with strongest terms. Gladstone thanked them frankly, and at once made a memo, in his note-book. So R. B. wrote to me of this, adding that he supposed the deed was all but done." But it never was done, and Home spent valiantly and cheerfully an old age of penury.
When I passed over to Dublin, there seemed as little chance of the dolce far niente. Among my earliest visitors was an old acquaintance and old antagonist. When I established the Nation in 1842, I made the acquaintance of a man very notable in that day, the Reverend Tresham Gregg, Grand Chaplain of the Orangemen of Ireland, whom I relieved of a vacant newspaper office which was an embarrassment to him. Afterwards, whenever we met in the streets, or such neutral places as public exhibitions, we commonly exchanged a little banter and maintained not unfriendly relations as of persons who agreed to differ. One morning during this visit to Dublin, Mr. Gregg, whom I had not seen for a dozen years, was announced as a visitor, and after the ordinary civilities he burst on me with a question. "Tell me, my old friend, would you like to live for ever? "
"By no means," I replied, "unless in the sense I have always been taught that I shall live for ever, whether I like it or not.'
"Oh," he replied, "you are speaking of spiritual life. But what I propose to you is the life of both body and soul; life for endless centuries on this globe, in this good city of Dublin, if you choose, in health, strength, and peace of mind. From the earliest times, from the beginning of this world indeed, the inestimable gift of immortality without the intervention of the grave was promised and expected, and at last this new dispensation is granted as the crown and confirmation of Christianity, for who shall refuse to believe, when revelation is confirmed by such a tremendous miracle? I ask you again, do you wish to live for ever?"
"For ever is a long time," I said, in the bantering tone I had commonly employed when speaking to him; "but I would not object to a century or two in good company. By what method can one obtain this earthly immortality?"
"By prayer and obedience," he replied with a solemn air. "I cannot confer the gift of eternity on any one who does not consent to be implicitly guided by me, so far as my directions are founded on Holy Scripture and the doctrines of the primitive Church."
"I must renounce the errors of Popery, then, I presume, and consent to be baptized anew in the Boyne water to obtain this blessing. Must I join an Orange Lodge?"
"Shame!" he said, "you are scoffing at God's greatest gift to latter-day Christians, destined to be received with thanks and blessings over the whole earth. I can accept as clients the members of any Christian Church; if you will introduce me to Dr. Paul Cullen, for example, I will enable him to remain Archbishop of his community in this country for more centuries than have elapsed since the coming of St. Patrick."
"Good gracious!" I exclaimed, throwing up my arms in mock consternation, "you frighten me, for that is just what I don't want to happen. I expect no good for Ireland till the period which a friend of mine calls paulo post future, and if you are going to inflict Dr. Cullen on us in perpetuity I cry off and must decline your immortality. But pray tell me, how did you make this prodigious discovery?"
"I found it in the Scriptures, mainly in portions of them hitherto considered unintelligible. It was plainly promised that the blessings should come, and that the year 1874 was the appointed time."
"Would you mind showing me these Scripture evidences?"
"I can only undertake to exhibit any proofs to persons familiar with the Scriptures in the original, profoundly acquainted with the Hebrew and Greek text, and versed in the higher mathematics."
"Do you bestow this inestimable gift to people 'free, gratis, for nothing'—as the children say?"
"It was my purpose to do so, for I thought it simony to sell God's gift. But I have come to think that it is proper that persons who have passed the ordeal should contribute towards the good works which I intend to execute in the eternity that awaits me."
"By the way," I said, "have you entered on immortality yourself?"
"Certainly I have. I am now in my seventy-fourth year, and that is the mere babyhood of the life I am to enjoy."
"How did it happen that this boon, expected from the beginning, had never been heard of till the present day?"
"You are altogether mistaken; a minister of the Gospel, in the reign of Queen Anne, evolved the same truth from the Bible, as I have done in the reign of Queen Victoria."
"Bravo! That is what I call coming to the point. Bring me this contemporary of Queen Anne enjoying perpetual life (for of course he availed himself of his own discovery) and I'm your man; meanwhile the debate stands adjourned."
Dr. Gregg afterwards sent me two pamphlets in which his opinions were stated with the utmost gravity, and insisted on with considerable rhetorical power. I found in one of the brochures, that there was a tariff for perpetual life. The Doctor intended to impose as the honorarium for his instructions—"On persons of £100,000 per annum, £10,000; of £50,000 a year, £5,000; of £20,000 a year, £2,000; and so on in the same proportion. With respect to the poorer classes, when he had ascertained their perfect sincerity, his instructions would be gratuitous, or formed upon such a scale as should conduce to their temporal and eternal interests." Some time later I read a report of the "Conditional Immortality Association," where the Doctor was surrounded by zealous supporters; but he failed somehow, I suppose, to practice "the inexorable Scriptural conditions," for two or three years later I read of his death in the newspapers.
Soon after my arrival in Ireland, my old friends, the leading priests of the Tenant League, renewed their request that I would go into Parliament. I went on a visit to Father Peter O'Reilly, at Kingscourt, and he gathered our old comrades around us. I was informed that Mr. Ennis, one of the members for Meath, was willing to resign his seat in my favour. I told them my objection to Butt's policy, but they thought that an additional reason for adopting their proposal: it was only in Parliament I could watch effectually over the safety of the Irish cause, and if Mr. Butt, who was in ill-health, died, the cause might be lost for want of a leader. It was proposed that I should be invited to a public dinner, and a requisition be presented to me in two or three months from the date of our Conference. These proposals naturally reached the League, and Mr. Butt was extremely unwilling that I should come into Parliament without joining that body. After I left Ireland certain Irish members employed themselves in alarming my friends with the disastrous consequences of an election in which the League was ignored. The Kingscourt priests wrote me a generous and sympathetic letter, arguing that I should meet this difficulty by consenting to join the League, and accept its programme. They described the success which had attended the movement, the change from long apathy to hope and enthusiasm, and the good which they believed I could effect by falling in with the will of the people. And they added that Mr. Ennis, having been elected to support the League, now considered himself prohibited from resigning in favour of any candidate who would not do the same. It was hard to resist such an appeal, but it had become a question of personal honour. I had declared on my arrival that I would not join the League, that declaration had been widely circulated by my opponents. If after a short interval I forgot that declaration, I would enter Parliament with a character for inconsistency, which would render the position worthless. The career I had promised to myself as the only one suitable in the present condition of Irish affairs, was such a one as Mr. Bright adopted in England, taking always the course which I thought was right, without looking for any political sustainment in the House or outside of it, which did not come spontaneously, and serving Irish interests more effectually by not being bound by any preliminary undertaking. This was not a policy designed to create a party, but simply proper to my position and antecedents. If I could not do the good I projected, I would at any rate do none of the harm threatened; but Isaac Butt insisted so stubbornly on his programme that I determined to return to Australia.
I went with Mr. Michie to the Royal Academy to choose pictures for the Melbourne Gallery, and encountered a difficulty of which we make too little account at the Antipodes. We agreed upon six pictures, and were much satisfied with the choice, but when we applied to the clerk in charge of the sale catalogue for the prices we found five of the six were already sold. As it was still early on the first day, when only invited persons were admitted, they were probably sold in the studios before they were hung.
I breakfasted with Lord Emley. He told us a good story of the experience of a footman who went on a visit to a fellow-servant in the country, who was the Major-domo of a septuagenarian squire. While they were at luncheon the master's bell rang violently. "Confound him!" said the Major-domo, "how troublesome he is; he wants his luncheon I suppose. Come upstairs till you see what a lesson I'll give him." The visitor accompanied his friend to the anteroom of the squire's bedchamber, and heard him address his master in an angry tone. "What the deuce do you mean by disturbing me at my meal? I tell you flatly I'm not going to stand that sort of thing, and that if you don't behave yourself better, you and I will part. I have brought you something to eat, which is more than you deserve." The old gentleman did not reply a word, but ate his luncheon with perfect placidity. The visitor thought it a marvellous example of discipline. When he returned home he tried the experiment on his old gentleman. His master, after looking at him in amazement for some minutes, rang the bell. "Let this fellow," he said, "be stript of my livery, and kicked out of the house; he shall have no character from me, unless I write one on his back with a horsewhip." The dismissed valet rushed to his friend to complain that the experiment had not worked as well as he expected. "Ah!" said his friend, "perhaps I forgot to mention to you that my master is stone deaf."
A few more extracts from my letters home will fix the march of events.
London, August 1st.
Michie introduced me to the doctor who restored his voice, Morell Mackenzie, and I have been visiting him daily. He talks to me for twenty minutes or more of Irish or Australian politics, and not a word about my malady. He says the vocal chords are relaxed, and recommends a season at Aix-les-Bains, where he will give me a letter to the most experienced doctor. I will go there before winter, and after a month there I will probably go to Mentone.
Cannes, October, 1874.
My month of Aix has done my voice little service, but there is some chance of a change coming after I have settled down here. I propose remaining on this coast during the winter.
Cannes, January 10, 1875.
I fear I am growing an old fogey. There was a family stopping here recently, consisting of the grandson and granddaughter of Lord Thurlow, Chancellor under George III. The lady asked me if I knew her grandfather. I replied that I did not, but that the fault was not mine, as he had placed an impediment in the way of our acquaintance, by dying before I was born.
Having seen the worst that winter can do here, I may confidently affirm that this climate is not so good as that of Hawthorn. And what renders it worse is that the houses are built as if there was no winter. Not only are there no window-shutters to windows that close imperfectly, but there are often no curtains, except a slip of white muslin. In villas built for English people, with all the modern comforts, it is different, but in a hotel a change to the Governor Hotham, Hawthorn, would be a change for the better.
There is an English family stopping in the same hotel with me who have been travelling for some years, and who speak of all the places they have visited by their foreign names. They have come from "la Belgique" last, by way of "la Suisse," and propose to visit "l'Autriche" in the summer. I suggested that there was an interesting island lying north of "la France," which might occupy some leisure months agreeably, "l'Angleterre!" There was an election in Cannes last month, which illustrates the advantage of marrying judiciously. One of the candidates announced himself as "Monsieur Mounier époux Jorden," the Jordens I presume, are, in modern slang, "tremendous swells."
From Cannes I went to Mentone.
Mentone, France, February 4, 1875.
Your December letter was a great pleasure to me. The success of the mathematician was like a flask of Möet, and I was much gratified by the pains you all took to make young H—— at home. You could not have done me a greater pleasure.
The "picturesque dodge" in begging, here at present, is a grey and sombre Monsieur, who announces himself as "un pauvre Alsatien, qui a été riche; Mais—Bismarck," &c. The number of French beggars surprised me; there surely used to be few or none in the days when we were gipsying, a long time ago.
I do not altogether escape indigestion, principally because I do not take exercise enough, though it is only a morning walk into Italy, across a stream, where you could scarcely wash your hands. Everything is very dear at present in France, and it is a common saying among the visitors, that we are paying the German subsidy!
From Mentone I went to Monte Carlo.
While I was at Mentone and Monte Carlo, Summers, the sculptor, came to take some sittings for my bust, and in obtaining suitable clay for him I came upon some facts of singular interest for my scheme of planting southern industries in Victoria. The maitre d'hotel gave us an order for the clay on a little establishment within a short distance where there was a large manufactory of objets d'art. I found that the establishment was the private property of Madame Blanc, whose husband may be called the Prince of Monte Carlo, if the Prince of Darkness does not compete the title with him. She has also at hand a distillery of perfumes, made from the wild flowers of the Alps, which is popular throughout Europe. And this industry is pursued by a lady whose husband is richer than any squatter in Australia. He has recently married one of his daughters to Prince Radziwill, and she has carried a dowry of half a million sterling over the German frontier with her. What a pregnant fact for men who have leisure for half the year on Australian runs! Summers assures me that there is sculptor's clay in abundance in Moonee Ponds, which it would pay well to export to Europe.
In the spring I went to Paris.
For precise dates, for I rarely wrote my diary now, I must recur to my correspondence home.
I am going to. Dublin to-day, to attend the O'Connell Centenary. I sent an apology and hoped to evade the noise and trouble, but the Committee sent me a resolution entreating me to go as O'Connell's fellow-prisoner of '44, and the Lord Mayor came to me in London on the subject, and finally I had to give in. I will remain about a month in Ireland to pay a few visits, for which I have accepted invitations, and to visit my mother's grave. The Irish in Melbourne sent me a letter, asking me to represent them on the occasion, and it reconciles me to the trouble of going, that I will not disappoint them. I will take a look at Merton and Whitehall, for sake of "Auld lang syne"; and at Richmond Penitentiary. Newgate has just been carted away as rubbish, and the old Nation office has passed to other purposes. And what a sweep of men within a little time—Dillon, Moore, Mitchel, Martin, John Gray, Wilson Gray, and Arthur O'Hagan, dead since I was there last!
Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, August 15th.
I write to you from Dublin while the things I have seen and heard here are fresh in my memory. About public proceedings, I send you the newspapers. I have only to add that a number of Bishops and other influential people strongly urged on me again to go into Parliament, but I am less disposed than ever to do so. The day I arrived I had an invitation to dine, the first open day, with an Australian lady, who has married the eldest son and successor of Sir John Gray; and who should she prove to be but Carrie Chrisholm. She is a charming young woman but rather an invalid just now. Her mother has not left her bed for years. Fancy a vigorous woman like Mrs. Chrisholm bedridden!
I went to visit Merton and found new people, who have recently purchased it, in possession. I went up to a grave old lady, who was giving directions to a gardener, took off my hat, and told her that this house had great interest for me, as it was there I brought home my young wife long ago. The old lady was quite touched by such a sentiment, and carried me to every part of the house and grounds. Perhaps she was once a young bride, but it was long ago!
Every one asked whether you were in London or Paris, and could scarcely be persuaded that you were in Melbourne. So that I had to announce I was going to rejoin you there forthwith, or I would probably have been ducked in the Liffey—for this is a very chivalrous nation.
The O'Connell Centenary promised to be a triumphant success. Dublin was full of deputations sent to represent a hundred cities, towns, and hamlets, and a vast number of stalwart men came to take part in the procession to his monument.
Princes and ecclesiastics from Germany and France, who sympathised either with the great Catholic or the great Nationalist arrived to grace the occasion, and the recognition of Ireland as an ancient, pious, and indestructible nation promised to be complete. But in all our annals before and since the spirit of faction has played a fatal part, and when I arrived in Dublin I found the committee of the Centenary broken into two fierce factions, one led by Mr. McSweeny, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, counselled by P. J. Smyth, the other by A. M. Sullivan and probably Mr. Parnell, who, however, did not yet count for much. The Lord Mayor's party, who disliked and distrusted Mr. Butt, opposed all proposals to give him a prominent place in the demonstration, while the other party insisted upon it as his right. The committee requested me to speak to the toast of Irish Nationality—a not unreasonable selection, as I had been the earliest and not the least unchangeable Nationalist in that assembly; but the majority were determined to have Mr. Butt with or without the assent of the committee. The procession in the morning was a magnificent one. It looked, as some one said, as if Ireland had been born again after the famine and disasters of the last dozen years. Lord O'Hagan had been invited to deliver an oration, and prepared a powerful one which was to be read in his absence, as he was unable to attend. When the reading commenced an immense clamour arose, cries of "Butt! Butt!" broke out from groups in various directions, which ended in confusion and disaster. At the banquet in the evening the attendance was numerous and singularly impressive; the foreign element gave it the appearance of a triumphant recognition of Ireland, which no one would be base enough to disturb; but when the toast of Irish Nationality was reached near midnight, and I rose to respond, cries of "Butt! Butt!" broke out as in the morning, and I sat down to let the storm blow over. The Lord Mayor, who was in the chair, declared he would not permit the proceedings to be interrupted by a factious conspiracy, and the clamour continued. Mr. Butt, who was sitting next me, said if I induced the Lord Mayor to give him a moment's hearing, he would put an end to the trouble by insisting on their accepting the arrangement of the committee; but I said I was disgusted with both parties for destroying a noble National demonstration, and that I would not interfere. After a time the principal guests, and I along with them, withdrew, and in the end the Lord Mayor ordered the gas to be turned off, and what would have been a strength and honour to Ireland became a disgrace.
Next day I was requested to attend a consultation at the Mansion House. The Lord Mayor, who was furious at the discredit brought on the Centenary, and at the slight support he had received from the Freeman's Journal, proposed to establish a daily paper, to found an association on the old Repeal principles, and contest every National seat in Ireland. He spoke disparagingly of Mr. Butt, and said the Tories who had joined him at the outset of his movement had all deserted, and he had now no supporters except some of the most extreme or discredited of the National party. The most important men who had come to town for the Centenary, lay and ecclesiastical, might be counted on, he said, to support this new movement. I said I felt the deepest disgust at a policy which set the interest of a faction or of some particular demagogue over the plain interests of Ireland, that the Centenary should be a serene and majestic exhibition, but I was not going to make another Irish faction. Their project would probably fail. £50,000 would be needed for a daily paper; where were they to find such a sum? and the most influential men in the country would scarcely set up another Association, and I fancied that many of them felt as I did, that it would discredit them to try. The Lord Mayor declared that he had ascertained that he could certainly get both the men and the money, if I remained at home and undertook the direction of these enterprises. Dr. Cullen, for example, had promised a substantial portion of the necessary capital for the newspaper. "Then he cannot possibly know," I said, "that you propose to ask me to control the enterprise." "Yes, he does," he rejoined, "the Archbishop has entirely changed his opinion on your Irish policy." "But alas!" I replied, "I have not changed my opinion about his. To ask me to direct a newspaper and a party, whose funds are to be largely furnished by Dr. Cullen, is to ask me to make a voyage certain to end in shipwreck, and I respectfully decline." I had much conversation with friends, especially the Bishop of Clogher and the Bishop of Kerry, but I was immovable in my determination not to create another Irish Party. When Lord O'Hagan's Centenary oration was published, I was astonished and pained to find that my friend had used arguments to justify O'Connell's violence towards some of his opponents, which might be employed to justify all Mr. Butt had done, or which had been done on his behalf in these late transactions. I was dumb on the subject except to himself, and I wrote to him tenderly as to a friend I loved:—
You have probably heard already that the Centenary oration greatly pleased your friends. I have heard the warmest praise of it from the best people whom the celebration brought to Dublin. It was vigorous, broad, and comprehensive, and the rhetoric is perfect; but in my inner conscience I felt a want to which I gave no words. The O'Connell you paint is as ideal a personage as the King Arthur of Tennyson. He was no more the generous, single-minded, unselfish hero of your prose idyll than he was the impostor ordinarily presented in the Times—but a strange compound of both.
And unfortunately in his case it is not like painting Brian Borhoime en beau, because the evil consequences of his moral deficiencies are still in full vigour. There were two scenes in Dublin on Friday last, which come very pat to bear me out. In the morning the Lord Mayor invited a popular audience to hear Lord O'Hagan's address, and had his voice drowned with cries of "Butt! Butt!" In the evening when he called on a returned Australian to respond to a toast, again he was met with cries of "Butt! Butt!" Both proceedings were plainly preconcerted, and I thought the occult author of them—not a patriot, but something quite different. But perhaps I did him injustice, if he were tested by the principle,; in your vindication of O'Connell. Mr. Butt, like the other leader, requires "concentration of authority." He has to deal with ignorant and undisciplined masses, and a vigorous will defying and trampling upon opposition is necessary to his success. "If he does not become an autocrat the people will never be welded into an unbroken phalanx," and he is (I infer) entitled to turn a National festival into a drunken row to serve his purpose, if he calls his purpose by a lofty name. Assuredly he has done nothing for which he may not cite a precedent in the conduct of his great predecessor towards Sharman Crawford, Sheil, Purcell, and others.
In an éloge it is not usual to parade a man's faults; but the allowances you ask us to make leave no faults; even his weaknesses lean to virtue's side.
Forgive me this criticism, but I could not say how much I liked the speech without saying also what I missed.
To my wife:
Paris, September 25, 1875.
I have bade adieu to the British Isles and am at Paris, the first stage of my return journey to Hawthorn. Since I wrote you last I have been on a visit at Townley, the residence of Colonel Townley, Lady O'Hagan's father. Though they have always been Catholics the estate has been in the family since the time of King Alfred, and the Castle, which is a massive one, is older, the Colonel is fond of saying, than the Protestant religion.
I make a few extracts from Marcus Clarke's correspondence at this time:
April 10, 1875.
There is nothing new here save that Kerferd is still Chief Secretary. I mention this as news because "news" is something strange! We have just heard of the case of poor Aspinall, and to-day the paper contains intelligence of the death of his wife whom you made post-mistress of Emerald Hill.
I suppose you know that my cousin Andrew Clarke, after generally slaughtering pirates in the Malay Peninsular, has been named Minister of Public Works in India at £9,600 a year. Lucky fellow he is, to be sure. I would take his work for half the money, and sustain the dignity as royally as in me lies.
November 30, 1875.
Very many thanks for all the trouble you have been at on my account. It is rare indeed to find any one who will really "work" for a man who wants help. I hope that it may one day be my good fortune to aid you in something which you want done.
I have received from London the "Natural Life" in three vols., and have written to thank Mrs. Hoey; I have told her that she is a "brick" the only word in the English tongue which cannot be applied to any person having a hint of selfishness in them.
The Boston Review speaks very favourably of the book, and Harper, who has republished it, sends me £15. Why this curious sum I don't know. I suppose it represents something in dollars—Harper's conscience, perhaps!
I hope that you will like the book better in its amended condition. I have I think followed your advice in all particulars.
I now turned my face to the new country; a letter to Lord O'Hagan specifies my intentions.
Hotel de Paris, Monaco, December 20th.
My dear O'Hagan,—The latest train by which I can conveniently reach the steamer at Brindisi leaves this January 12, at nine o'clock in the morning and it is by it I propose to go. The sculptor has been here and made a successful bust, but there would be no advantage in my going to Rome, as he will not have it in marble—so as to take a last sitting for the marble—till long after I have left Europe. By the time they are lighting bonfires at Townley for the nouveau né I shall probably be a couple of months in my Australian home. I hope to arrive early in March. As a r friends never do what we wish them to do, and perhaps they are right with their better knowledge of what suits them. But ever since I have known Ms ben gn souten climate I have greatly wished you to get a villa where you would spend three or four of the worst winter months every winter for the future. With your excellent constitution and buoyancy of disposition you might have twenty years which would be the happiest of your life, in a country where the rigours of winter are practically unknown. And as Lord Brougham did, you would draw a few friends to follow your example. You have a new reason for desiring a long and healthy life; and a Tusculum on the Mediterranean, where you could read and think and loiter in the sun counts for something in the means of attaining it. There; I have said my say, and my good advice will be wasted. But I shall probably give practical evidence of my confidence in it by taking my own prescription. The main reason why I hoped to see you here, was that you might realise, by coming directly from England to this garden of Paradise, what a gain it would be to spend your winters here. But if there be causes, or duties, that would make it improper for you to distribute your time in that way for the future, I beg of you do not come here merely to say "farewell." I will see you, I trust, in London in 1877, and I saw you three months ago at Townley. If an Alpine villa be an open question, however, I would greatly like to have a few days to show you this coast from Nice to Mentone.
With sincerest good wishes to Lady O'Hagan.—Believe me, always yours,
C. G. Duffy.
This was his reply:—
Townley, January 2, '76.
My dear Duffy, One line to say that I have made up my mind to run to Monaco (D.V.). I shall start for London to-morrow morning, and think I may get to see you by Friday. But I shall probably know better at Paris and write you thence. All good New Year greetings. In great haste.—Ever yours,
I had the happiness of spending a few days with my friend in the genial south, and exchanging confidences and predictions for the future.
On the way to Australia I wrote him my adieux:—
Suez, January 27, 1876.
My Dear O'Hagan,—I hope you arrived home safely, and not too much fatigued. For me, I have had misadventures by sea and land, but at length I have reached my port of departure, and to-morrow I embark on the Red Sea, where metal and human marrow are said to melt. You " gentlemen of England who live at home at ease," or travel with a dragoman and courier, know nothing I fancy of the adventures of tourist life. Last night, for example, I arrived at Suez in the dark, at an ill-lighted station, where there was not a single European or person speaking a European tongue. I had a ticket for my baggage written in an alphabet which I had only seen previously in the British Museum. The number of my packages, the place they were registered, and the place of their destination were expressed in an unknown tongue, and I had a lively apprehension that they had gone off at Ismalia, where the majority of the passengers left for Syria. I flourished this illegible document and cried "baggage" in an authoritative tone, and an Egyptian official touched his breast and said "Me," admitting his responsibility, but not exhibiting the smallest visible intention of discharging himself of it by delivering my luggage. After long delay I got together seven portmanteaus and packages, several of them indispensable things for the voyage bought in Alexandria or Cairo, and seven black gentlemen proffered themselves to take charge of them (or more than seven, indeed, for they believe in division of labour), and carry them to the Suez Hotel nearly half a mile distant. To distribute the baggage would have been easy, but in a dark night, on the borders of the Great Desert, after half a mile's walk, to reassemble the scattered fragments might not be so easy. I will not trouble you with the close of the story, but you see that a traveller without a dragoman gets disciplined in patience and resourcefulness.
I trust Lady O'Hagan will forgive me for being the cause of your making so disagreeable a journey in so inclement a season, more especially as I would have forbidden it if I could. It will be a pleasant memory hereafter and always, but while you were with me I had an uneasy sense of inflicting a great wrong on you. Do not omit to give her my best wishes, and thanks for many kindnesses; and so I will say not "adieu" but "au revoir."—Always yours,
C. G. Duffy.
Some suspicion of small-pox sent our ship into quarantine, but I had a country house within ten minutes' ride of the Sanatory Station, and I soon saw my sons through the gate, and had my favourite horse sent into the quarantine grounds, and after a few days I was in my home again.
- Mr. Dillon was finally of the same opinion himself. He wrote to me later warmly defending Mr. Parnell from having any part in the intrigue, but admitting that they had both made one mistake. "He certainly did very wrong in asking me not to explain the circumstances under which the telegram was sent, but I don't think he was more wrong than I was in consenting to that course. The simple and straightforward course would have been to have written or telegraphed the whole matter to you, and I still regret very much that I did not do so."
- This letter reached me shortly after the colloquy detailed above:—
"St. Nicholas Within, Dublin, August 7, 1874.
"My dear Sir Gavan,—According to promise, I send you a few additional documents and a photograph, with a legend that you will find multum in parvo. You will not be offended at my letter to the English apostate Manning, and will perceive that it is my grand discovery which gives me the whip hand of him. Could he taunt me with being the creature of the English State, as either endowed or disendowed, he would have wherein to glory. But my noble discovery makes me master of the situation. As a wise and practical man you will consider these things. Remember, I do not now go to the Irish Protestant Church any more than to the Roman. I am above both, and so remain faithfully yours,
- This letter was signed by Father Peter O'Reilly and Father Tormey, with the concurrence of Father Tom O'Shea, of Callan, to whom it was submitted.
- Our former residence near Dublin.
- A day or two after the dinner, Mr. A. M. Sullivan published an account of the transaction imputing the blame to the negligence and mismanagement of the committee:
"There were probably not a dozen men in the room who recognise in the stranger who rose at a particular moment Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and the tumultuous protests against the committee manipulation of toasts and speakers had burst forth long previously. It was no contention whatever between Mr. Butt, Mr. Duffy, and Mr. Downing, The committee—or rather the person or persons who so disastrously mismanaged those things—did not place the name of a single speaker on the printed toast-lists, and consequently the assembly were kept in blank ignorance of who was to speak at all."