My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 28
FIRST VISIT TO EUROPE
Edward Neale's estimate of David Urquhart—Invitations from John Brady and Richard Swift—Letters from friends in Ireland, from Mrs. Carlyle—Blake's enjoyment of "a little society"—The O'Donaghue—Pope Hennessy—Rambles with Carlyle—Dinner with Robert Browning at John Forster's—A dinner at St. James' Hall—The Times and Robert Lowe—Letter from Edward Wilson—Visit to Lowe—Visit to Dublin and colloquies with old friends—Public dinner—Isaac Butt, George Henry Moore and John Dillon—Conference with political friends—Public dinner in my native town—Design to write on Responsible Government in Australia—Letter from George Higinbotham—Visit to Mr. Disraeli—Letter from Stuart Mill—Five months in Rome—Lecture before the Society of Arts in London—Letter from B. C. Aspinall—Debate on the Reform Bill—Louis Napoleon in 1867—Letters from Father Prout and Madame Montalembert—Counsel respecting Protection from Carlyle and Stuart Mill—Letter from Thos. Howard Fellows.
The voyage was fairly prosperous, and I occupied my leisure chiefly in planning with my wife and daughter the pleasant uses we should make of our long holiday. It was the practice of my life to project the future, and such plans rarely failed to get somewhat realised. I examined with keen interest the captain's chart, on which many successive voyages were traced, and saw the path through the trackless ocean for ten thousand miles subjected to the foresight and perseverance of man, a marvel and still more an inspiration.
When the Great Victoria took a pilot on board in the British Channel, I heard the tragic news that Richard Cobden had died suddenly, and I was well persuaded that he had not left an honester man behind. My first inquiry was for my letters. I had fixed my business address at the office of Edward Neale, Consul for the Argentine Republic. Neale was originally a journalist, and his "Metropolitan Gossip" in a Liverpool newspaper was 'the undoubted origin of the prolific family of London Correspondents. Though he was now an official entitled to wear a gorgeous uniform and a cocked hat, he insisted on describing himself as an old newspaper hack. I find this entry in my diary:—
"Neale's freshness and faith are marvellous. He believes in David Urquhart as Omar believed in Mahomet, or St. Just in Robespierre. Urquhart, he tells me, after his experiment in the House of Commons had failed, operated on public opinion through Foreign Office Committees (established in the great towns of the North), who support a small Parliamentary party faithful to him. 'He has proved.' says Neale, 'beyond controversy to the satisfaction of the House of Commons that Palmerston mutilated the form and habitually altered the sense of public documents before submitting them to the House. The object was to screen Russia, and it was shown that in fifty-four instances he had expunged the name of the Czar in despatches and inserted some other expression. 'The forgery of a despatch,' Neale insisted, 'was as serious, and might be infinitely more serious, than the forgery of a Bill of Exchange; when it assailed the interest of the State it became high treason.' 'And the net result of all this,' I said, 'is that Palmerston is one of the most popular men in England.' 'Yes,' said Neale, 'we live in an age of levity and ignorance; but he ran a risk of destruction. Bright stated the case against him in 1861, and but for the succour of Disraeli, he would have been ruined.' 'But Urquhart,' I suggested, 'has been doing other work; I hear of his name in connection with the Turkish bath.' 'Yes.' Neale rejoined, 'he has taught Englishmen to wash themselves as Turks do, and shown them a short cut to India, through the Isthmus of Suez; a great project which Palmerston of course opposes.' Neale assured me he himself was still faithful to his early Irish convictions, and when he told me that he regarded Urquhart and me as the two etceteras, I began to consider what extravagance I had committed of late. Neale is a thoroughly honest man, greatly esteemed, I find, by Sir William and Sir Charles Napier, and unspoiled by the demoralising atmosphere of offices."
My correspondence realised the meaning of an Irish Caed Mile failthe. Before I landed welcomes and receptions were proffered which showed that the men with whom my life had been associated, at any rate, were not disposed to forget me. The member for Leitrim, an ally through all my Parliamentary career, and notably so in the contest over my Parliamentary qualification, offered me his town house and; servants during my residence in London.
"Ely, Cambs., April 14, 1865.
"My dear Duffy,—A thousand welcomes to you and yours.
"I should be with you by the first train but that my dear, good old relative, Mr. Raynor, had last evening an attack of epilepsy, and this morning he is not quite himself.
"I shall be in town on Monday, when I hope you and your family will take possession of No. 1, Warwick Terrace. Alas! it is now lonely and deserted; but my niece will receive Mrs. Duffy, and on Tuesday my dearest children will join our party for a few days.
"I hope you will be pleased with the children. Little Emily you will find very much like her dear mamma, and bouncing Mary, unfortunately, like I must out with it myself.
"How I long to have a laugh and a talk with you.
"Now, my dear Duffy, as No. 1 is wholly at your disposal and most conveniently situated, you must not think of taking up your quarters anywhere else.
"With kindest regards to Mrs. Duffy, I am always the same, "John Brady."
A similar letter came from Richard Swift, who promised to gather all that remained of our old party at a political house-warming.
"We went," says my diary, "to spend a few days with Swift at his pleasant home at Wandsworth. How little Australians and Englishmen know of each others' habits. He proposed to astonish my boys with a noble flock of lambs reaching almost to two hundred; the eldest had been recently on a run in Australia where there were forty thousand sheep! An Australian wattle is the pride of his greenhouse, and the children are more familiar with the wattle on a thousand hills than English boys with the hawthorn. I will send him a black swan or an emu when I go home."
John Foster asked me to make an immediate appointment to meet a few old literary friends, and there were a sheaf of letters from my own country. Judge O'Hagan, John O'Hagan, John Dillon, and the McCarthys—the poet and the architect were among the first. The latter wrote:—
"183, Great Brunswick Street, Dublin,
"April 19, 1865.
"It makes me young again to think that I am so soon to see you and Mrs. Duffy, and a little lady I used to call Su. We will make a jolly party in Italy. We live in Kingstown, just over the sea, and will be looking with longing eyes for the steamers in June. Let us know the day you will come. 11 am building a Cathedral in the native town of a friend of mine (one C. G. D.), and when you see it, if you say I have not fulfilled my friend's promise of twenty golden years ago, I will hang myself.—With kindest regards to Mrs. Duffy."
Father Tom O'Shea, the most vigorous of the Callan curates, who had begun the land movement in 1850, wrote out of his large heart:—
"Cranagh Castle, Mountrath, Whit Sunday, 1865.
"My darling Duffy,—Welcome, welcome to Ireland — would that I could say to home. But still welcome—you have a home in every honest Irish heart.
"Would it be too much for Father Tom to expect, in your division of time among your many friends, to allot him a small portion during your sojourn in the Old Land? You will be at home, talking and loitering on the breast of Slievebloom.
"Give me some days' notice that I may try to have some of our surviving friends to meet you. The Mountrath Station is within a half-hour's drive of here.
"If you are accompanied by }~our lady. I would be most happy in her accompanying you here, and I beg you to give her my love.
"I'm preparing the children for the visitation of my amiable and patriotic bishop, and this alone prevents me running up to shake your pure and honest hand. Believe me, dearest Duffy, ever affectionately yours,
I came home for rest and recreation after assiduous labour, and speedily found myself entangled in more engagements and undertakings than embarrassed me in Australia. Many of them were merely social, and they sometimes involved long journeys and much loss of time; but they brought me a reward that was more than compensation. For a couple of weeks, I found it impossible to visit Cheyne Row. and my dear old friend Mrs. Carlyle was impatient that I did not find her earlier.
"5, Cheyne Row, Chelsea,
"Wednesday, April 26, 1865.
"My dear Mr. Duffy,—Mr. Carlyle read in a newspaper ten days ago that you had 'returned from Australia, and were stopping in London.' I said it couldn't be true: for you wouldn't have been many hours in London without coming to see us. But Mr. C. thought otherwise—that you might have found no time yet—and he desired me to put George Cooke (a friend of ours who can find out everything) on discovering where you were lodged. Had this failed I suppose he would have advertised for you in the Times, if still you had made no sign!
"You may figure, then, how glad I was when your letter and basket arrived to me this morning, just as I was starting off for my long daily drive. Since I came back I have done nothing but admire the various presents you have sent me, and think how kind it was of you to collect these things for me so far away.
"But we want to see you; when will you come?
"Mr. C. says he is going to call for you to-morrow morning; but most likely you will be gone out So it would be best to make an appointment to meet here at dinner, pay at six o'clock, when a man's days work is or ought to be one! Name any day you like, only let it be soon, if yoo case, for I am impatient to see you.—Affectionately yours,
Jane W. Carlyle.
In all England, and in all Ireland afterwards, there was but one woman each to welcome me with the frank and cordial salute, and I rejoice always to remember that Mrs. Carlyle was one of the two who so honoured me. Men of many moods and many opinions found their way to me daily.
A few fragments picked from my diary of that day will illustrate the life in which I found myself immersed in London, better than a formal narrative:—
"Dined at the Stafford dub with Cashel Hoey, and met Blake, the new member for Waterford, a Young Irelander a little out of date. Blake complained of the dreadful monotony of fife in Parliament for men who take little or no share in debate. 'Yon want a little society,' I said. 'Woe is me; I did want it,' he replied, 'and I got it; but the remedy is worse than the disease. I was introduced lately to a family of a mother and two daughters, of distinction, who had seen better days. On my second visit the mother inquired if my horses were in town: "the poor girls who used to ride dairy when we lived in Devonshire, are pining for a little exercise." My horses not being in town (nor in the country) I had three from a livery stable twice a week for a month, at a cost of thirty pounds. We naturally grew more familiar, and the old lady asked me one evening whether I had fruit or flowers sent over from my Irish estate. No, I hadn't; but there was a garden lying between the Strand and Oxford Street where, for five guineas a week, the deficiency was made up. The young ladies were musicians, and enabled me occasionally to enjoy Mozart and Beethoven. "The dear girls play for you," observed the old lady; "but not the latest music—they have never heard the new opera which London is crazed about" They did hear it, of course, and a box, bouquets, and ices seriously swelled my weekly commissariat account By and by a dinner at Richmond; mamma and the two girls, with two friends of my own sex. Carriages, bouquets, dinner, five-and-twenty pounds. Since that time I have devoted myself steadily to business in the afternoon.' I must have greatly altered, for Blake positively asserts he would not in the least recognise me, a bronzed and bearded man having replaced the pallid student of his experience.
"The O'Donoghue called on me. He is a remarkably handsome young fellow, dressed with great care, in fact a dandy; but not, I fear, a man of originality or resources. He thanked me for putting him up for Clonmel (in 1855), but said his O'Connell relations were wroth with him for consenting to stand against John, and worse than that at my nomination. He represents the extreme wing of Nationalists at present, in concert with G. H. Moore. He talks very agreeably, and I am told speaks in Parliament with considerable effect, but he has nothing to say that suggests hope or confidence. He told me he went over to Boulogne to meet John Mitchel, with a view to closer concert between Irish and American- Irish Nationalists; but nothing came of it, because of MitchePs distrust of G. H. Moore, and Moore, I understand, distrusts Dillon, and meantime life fades away and nothing is done. Alas and alas! for the once proud people of Banba. O'Donoghue spoke of the Fenians. Stephens, he said, called on him and asked him to join them. In reply he requested to be told what number of men and what quantity of arms, ammunition, and money they had accumulated, Stephens said he would be placed upon the Supreme Council and furnished with this information if he became a Fenian; if not it would be impossible to disclose to him the secrets of the Organisation. O'Donoghue suggested there was one thing Stephens might do without disclosing these secrets: let him muster ten thousand men in any place were he (O'Donoghue) could inspect them, and he would recognise the solid strength of the Organisation and negotiate with it; but this was never done.
"I had a good talk on recent Australian affairs with Childers and Clarke, breakfasting with the latter the other day. They admit that Australia is very imperfectly understood at home, of which there were some curious instances recently in the Press and in Parliament. I am very much disposed to deliver a speech or a lecture in vindication of Australia, not on behalf of any party, but in the interests of the colony to which I feel under so much obligation."
When I called a second time on Neale for my Australian letters, he spoke with extraordinary enthusiasm about a young Irish member, Pope Hennessy, whom I had not yet seen. Disraeli's rise to political importance, he says, was nothing to Hennessy's; Disraeli failed over and over again in getting into Parliament; Hennessy got in at once, and he made no fatal failure in the House, but rose from the beginning. He would certainly sit in the next Cabinet. I inquired whether he did not mean that Hennessy would be a junior Lord of the Treasury. No, no, he said, he ought to take nothing short of the Cabinet, and he will become a millionaire as well as a statesman; important concessions had been made to him in continental countries, by the Pope for example, and at the Tuileries. He was at home with everybody, from Pio Nono to Louis Napoleon, who was his personal friend. The Irish priests applauded him, and so did the Irish Fenians. He had negotiated a great commercial transaction with Rothschild tête-à-tête. I inquired if he was going to become a new John Sadleir. No, he said, he was an honest man who meant well to Ireland, and would be of effectual service to her by and by. There was no one in the Tory Party between him and Disraeli. I suggested that if a benighted colonist might venture on an opinion, I thought some case might be made for Mr. Cairns, Lord Robert Cecil, and Lord Stanley, or, to limit myself to his own countrymen, Whiteside and Napier; but Neale had an answer ready in every case. Hoey, who does not rate Hennessy so extravagantly as Neale, says that it is undeniable that he has established friendly relations with various powers, potentates, and dominions, bitterly hostile to each other, and that Disraeli is fond of him.
My way to Neale's lay through Whitehall. The last fragment of poor old Parliament Street still protrudes itself between the Foreign Office and the new palace of Westminster, like a front tooth broken and jagged; a very miserable and ridiculous spectacle. If I were Prince of Wales (which the Lord be praised I am not) I would find a career in extinguishing the fog by the aid of science, and with the help of some architect of genius, making London one of the handsomest cities of Europe. One cannot stir out of doors without seeing something that ought to be amended, something that ought to be suppressed, something that ought to be supplied.
A day or two later Hennessy called on me. He is a dapper, dandified little fellow with a frank, cordial smile. He told me if he had been ten years older, he would have been an active ally of mine in '48. His father bred him up as a vehement Nationalist, and he still only waited a fair opportunity to serve the good old cause. He urged me to return to the House of Commons, and pledged himself for one warm supporter. I asked him about his relations to John Dillon, for whom he professed respect and affection.
On Sunday I generally went to Chelsea, and after a pleasant gossip in the little sitting-room at the foot of the stairs with Madame, I sallied out with Carlyle and walked for several hours in Hyde Park or Battersea Park, talking as of old. I rarely could remain for the evening, as John Forster had provided a treat which I found irresistible. Robert Browning had promised to dine with him for some Sundays in succession, and Forster proposed that I should make a third. He knew that I had regarded Browning, since I first read "The Blot on the 'Scutcheon," in an ill-printed pamphlet, as the first poet of his age and country. I find in my diary a note of the first evening, which occupies as much space as I can afford in this place for these pleasant symposia:—
"Before Browning arrived, Forster said that in his opinion the poet was hopelessly misjudged by the bulk of his contemporaries. I suggested that that was what ordinarily happened to an original man, especially to an original poet. It was not so very long since Englishmen utterly disregarded Wordsworth; afterwards they were diverted by the shallow impudence of Jeffrey at his cost; and finally they acknowledged him as the greatest poet of his age. The same process was probably recurring with Robert Browning.
"I had the satisfaction of seeing Browning for the first He is middle-sized, slight, grey-bearded, with a small but well-shaped head. His personal utterance wants depth and force, and gives the idea of a much less powerful man than he is. But he is gracious and winning in a high degree. After dinner we adjourned to a singularly agreeable smokingroom, lined with encaustic-tiles, and cooled with ferns and creeping plants. The talk fell first upon Palmerston, whose death filled the newspapers. Browning and Forster agreed with a suggestion of mine, that the tone of the London Press about him was false and altogether misleading. He was not, Browning said, what they represented him to be, and no human soul believed that he was. I spoke of the Pall Mall Gazette as an experiment in journalism which ought to succeed. It substituted for the heavy joints and coarse vegetables of the daily Press an intellectual menu of small pleasant plats delicately cooked and daintily served. Browning agreed that it was the perfection of a paper for people who wanted to know what was going on in the world as a man might learn it at a club, or over a dinner-table; not as it was furnished by reading-rooms or news agencies. Forster said he had not yet seen the journal, but the extracts he read in other papers did not attract him. I asked Forster who was mimicking Fonblanque in the Examiner? Why, Fonblanque himself, he said. He was a man of feeble organisation, who had kept himself alive for many years, by careful regimen and general watchfulness, and he could not refrain from his old pursuits. Browning said his own father who was a careful liver, had reached eighty-five, and was still vigorous and alert. The conversation went off to Wordsworth. I said Carlyle considered Wordsworth the best talker in England. Browning said he was certainly not at all so in latter years; he spoke little, and only on subjects that interested himself, without respect to the taste of his audience. The first time he met Wordsworth was at dinner, Savage Landor also was present, and both poets invited him to take wine with them after the kindly fashion of that day; and never was a youngster so intoxicated with delight. I said to Forster that the portrait of Savage Landor in his memoir of him had the look of a wild animal, the mouth ready to snap at you, and in the eyes there seemed to lurk a savage reserve of brooding discontent. If the Ten Commandments were written in Francis Homer's face, a majority of the seven deadly sins seemed to lurk in that mouth. Forster said the portrait was ill-engraved; Landor's explosions of wrath covered a generous and sympathetic nature, always eager for the right and the true. I asked Forster how it came that Dickens, in one of his last prefaces, could declare that he had not Leigh Hunt in his mind when he painted Harold Skimpole. It was a cruel caricature, turning foibles and weaknesses into crimes, but it was undeniably Leigh Hunt. 'Oh,' said Forster, 'if you had seen the proofs before they passed through my hands you might have better grounds for that opinion. So much was cut out that we persuaded ourselves that the salient traits were effaced, but too many of them remained. Dickens was alarmed at the impression he had made, and did his best to repair the wrong, and doubtless like the queen in the play, did protest too much.'"
Browning thought Hunt had been ill-treated; he had been punished with a severity his offences did not justify. Yes, I said, for the second time at least in Hunt's life his insouciance and levity had been visited with a savage scorn which ought to be reserved for breaches of honour. Moore plunged him in a bath of vitriol for his book on Lord Byron.
"But fed as he was, and this makes it a dark case,
With sops every day from the lion's own pan,
He lifts up his leg 'gainst the noble beast's carcase,
And … does all a dog so diminutive can."
We know now, Moore knew then, that Byron was selfish and arrogant, and sorely affronted the sensitive poet whom Shelley loved so well. Hunt's two years' imprisonment for suggesting that the immaculate Prince Regent associated with persons of doubtful repute, was not a greater injustice than Moore's pasquinade.
From Moore's humour the talk passed to that of Southey, which Browning professed to admire. I said I must correct my judgment on this point by so high an authority. I had always considered Southey's humorous poems dull and even dreary. There were one or two exceptions perhaps, and the others had sometimes a happy line; but how did he compare with Canning, Praed, or Moore? Browning replied that Southey's humour was of a different genre from that of the poets I named, but he deemed it good of its kind.
The talk wandered to Ireland. Forster said he thought Irish complaints were always exaggerated and often altogether unfounded. They complained of things which were the necessary and inevitable results of the British Empire. "Was it a necessary result," I inquired, "that the Irish should pay for the most profusely endowed Church in Europe, with which they refused to have any dealings?" "Certainly," Forster said, "it was a necessary result; the Irish were a minority in the Empire, and must accept the Church and the other institutions of the Empire as a consequence of that fact." I inquired if the Scotch and the Lower Canadians were not in the same condition, and yet escaped this inevitable penalty. Browning said that was a doctrine which he thought altogether indefensible. The Catholic Church was the Church of the Irish people, and the Protestant Church the Church of the English people, and this was a fact of which legislation might properly take cognisance. I said I was pleased to have Browning's support for so just and reasonable a doctrine, especially as I found throughout his poems the Catholic Church so habitually disparaged that I should have expected him rather than Forster of condemning it to perpetual subjection. Browning replied that the allusions to the Catholic Church, which I complained of, were mainly attributable to local circumstances. He had lived in Italy, and he took his illustrations of life from the facts which fell under his notice there; had he lived in England he would probably have taken them from the Church of which Forster was so enamoured. I said I had always assumed that one of his illustrations from the Catholic Church which was English and certainly unfriendly, Bishop Blogram was intended to suggest Cardinal Wiseman. Yes, he said, Bishop Blogram was certainly intended for the English Cardinal, but he was not treated ungenerously. I replied that I had lent that poem to a remarkably gifted young priest, who considered it more offensive than the naked scorn of Voltaire and Diderot. Browning spoke of Irish poets, and I asked Forster for a volume I had recently given him containing several of Sir Samuel Ferguson's poems. I read some verses of "The Welshmen of Tyrawley."
Forster said the ballad was vague and rhapsodical, with quite unnecessary repetitions of the same idea in varied phrases. I told him that he was criticising, as if it were a blemish in the poem, peculiarities which belonged to Celtic literature, which were reproduced by Ferguson with singular skill and success. The vagueness of which he complained was certainly not a characteristic of the poem; it opened with a savage directness which it never lost. Browning maintained an attentive critical silence, but to my surprise did not utter an opinion. When we left I walked away with Browning and promised to visit him next day.
In political business at home there is no avoiding a public dinner, and I was entertained at a dinner at St. James's Hall, which revived in a curious and significant way the main incidents of my life. A generation earlier, I had founded the Nation, in concert with two friends. One was in his grave, but the other, John Dillon, sat by my side. I was tried with O'Connell and others in 1843, and one of the group, Sir John Gray, was there. Later came a time of trial and danger, and D'Arcy M'Gee, one of my closest associates in that trial and danger, who, in whatever else he had changed, had at least remained steadfast in his kindness to me, was also there. In the conflicts with the State which followed, if I came triumphantly through, I owed the result largely to the skill and legal acumen of a learned friend, Sir Colman O'Loghlen, who sat near me. In 1852 I entered Parliament, to test the principles of Independent Opposition, and to obtain through them a recognition of the just rights of Irish tenantry; all who survived of that party sat around me, augmented by the recruits who came into Parliament later to sustain the same principle. And by a happy accident, some of the men who were my colleagues in the Parliament of Victoria, happened to be in London and swelled my welcome home. An old speech is commonly as wearisome as an old dream, but there was an incident on this occasion worth noting. Mr. Lowe, who was opposing a Reform Bill then in progress, had recently in Parliament disparaged the democracy of Australia by suggesting that the payment of a shilling fee frightened them from acquiring the franchise. I took this occasion to remark that Mr. Lowe was much mistaken in the motive. The applicant was required to attend personally at the Registry Office, and personal attendance meant the waste of a day's wages, and perhaps the loss of a nugget; but suppose he were right in his facts, I could not see how it helped his argument that the democracy ought to be refused the franchise in England. If I might call in question the logic of so accomplished a dialectician, it appeared to me a very inconsequential argument to contend that, because the working classes in Australia were indifferent to the franchise, it was dangerous to grant it to them in England, lest they might swamp all the other classes by their eager exercise of it. It was the subject of much humorous banter at the time that the Times sided with the returned colonist against its own favourite contributor. "Mr. Gavan Duffy," it said, "had more reason on his side than we like to admit in his retort to Mr. Lowe's strictures on the Australian Parliaments." Next morning Mr. Edward Wilson wrote:—
"I have had read to me with great pleasure your speech at St. James's Hall, and I am very glad to find that you are taking up the cudgels against what I can only describe as the odious, slanderous propensities of John Bull."
John Forster wrote:—
"My dear Duffy, Let me tell you with what pleasure and cordial agreement I read what you are reported to have said at the dinner on Saturday. "You have, I hope, forgiven me all my levities in our late Sunday night's talk, for which I am ready to confess and do penance, in any mode you may prescribe."
The speech seemed to have satisfied some of my Tory friends as well as the Liberals. Sir Emerson Tennent wrote me:—
"I have read your essay on Australian politics with the same conclusive satisfaction that it has given to every one I have spoken to. "Should we be fortunate enough to find you unengaged for Thursday next (7th), it would give us great pleasure if you will dine with us at 7¼ o'clock. A round table and some intelligent friends."
A few more extracts from my diary will carry me through this period.
"Called on Robert Lowe by appointment to-day, received me with great cordiality, and with a more beaming face than I ever noticed on him before. He spoke with perfect frankness and unreserve of his own position; it was not probable that he should come into the present Government, which was not likely to last. Lord John was a selfish little fellow who had no friends, and his colleagues, except Gladstone, were not very competent. Of Lord —— of whom I inquired sympathetically, Lowe said he was getting on in office, as well as a tenth-rate man could expect. I told him we were dissatisfied with Cardwell in the colonies. He said Cardwell meant well; he had known him for forty years, since their college days. Cardwell had a quick, even mind, lively but not of great compass.
"Lowe then spoke with indignation of the attempt to revive transportation to the colonies. If he had been on the select committee he would have prevented it, and he believed Childers had tried to do so. I said Childers' personal success was gratifying to the colonies. Yes, he said, he had been reasonably successful—a result which owed something to the fact that he was a near kinsman of Sir Charles Wood. He asked me about Michie, and spoke frankly of his correspondence. I said, Michie was faithful to Australia in the Times, but we felt that he (Lowe) had not been kind to his old country; articles which we attributed to him disparaged everything Australian. He said his hopes of a future for Australia were greatly mitigated. When men educated in Europe ceased to go there, and that the governing men had to be taken from colonial classes, it would fall very low. You tell me what great things you are doing now, he said, smiling, but wait till the larrikin comes on the stage. When one reflected, he went on, on the degradation to which the border ruffians of Kansas and other Western States have fallen, it was hard to maintain a hope in popular progress and popular government. The future was a great perplexity; it reproved the pride of race to remember that an especially good African was immensely better than an exceptionally degraded white man. God may have reserved some future for the descendants of these people, which will make plain His wisdom. At present it is hard to comprehend. I said, it seemed to me Australia wanted no vindication; property and life were as safe in an Australian city as in an English one. The Australians had met all their financial responsibilities promptly; they fostered education and religion, and the community was as free from crime or offence as any in the civilised world. He repeated, 'Wait till the larrikin comes on the stage; there is a large native population in New South Wales, and they will soon be the masters.'"
I speedily brought my wife and daughter to Dublin, where I was plunged into affairs as if I had been only absent for a week. Dillon, I found, was honorary secretary to a General Association of which Cardinal Cullen was understood to be the most active promoter. D' Arcy M'Gee had recently arrived in Ireland from Canada, and I read with great pain and regret a lecture he delivered at Wexford, in which he described his early opinions as boyish follies, many of which he had manifestly dropped by the way. I wrote a remonstrance, and assured him, in conclusion, that though he regarded himself as a fool at twenty, and a philosopher or statesman at forty, in my opinion he was much to be preferred in the former character.
Dillon brought me to the Evening Post office to see Dwyer, the new editor, who was formerly, and is still, he asserts, a Young Irelander; he has married the charming Louise Conway of former times, and so came to inherit a share in the Post. I told Dwyer I was afraid I would lose my character by coming into that office. "By Gad! I am afraid you will," said he, "for that is just what has happened myself."
Dined in the evening with John Dillon; Samuel Ferguson, D. F. MacCarthy, John O'Hagan, Charles Hart, P. J. Smyth, J. J. MacCarthy, and Dwyer of the Post, formed the company. The only stranger was Mr. Prendergast, author of a book on the settlement under Cromwell, which is well spoken of. He told a story during the evening extremely ill-suited to his audience. When Smith O'Brien was at Ballingarry, Prendergast was sheltering in a farmhouse with some English newspaper correspondents, and as he had nothing to fear from the people he undertook to go out and discover the state of affairs, and exulted in the fact that he brought them back word that the conflict took place in a cabbage garden—a phrase which stuck. I could not refrain from telling him that if he rejoiced in disparaging a generous gentleman, he ought to exhibit the sentiment somewhere else than among that gentleman's most intimate friends. Dillon whispered to me during the dinner, that he could not invite M'Gee, as most of the men present, since his Wexford speech, would walk out of the room if he came into it. M'Gee, who has seen Dillon, quite underrates the intensity of wrath he has excited. In a note to-day he treats it as a joke, parodying the "Biglow Papers":—
Cannot put up with D'Arcy M'Gee."
Next day I had a long tête-à-tête with Dillon. He tells me there is a conspiracy in Ireland at present (dit Fenian), which has caught many of the ex-clubmen. It is entirely promoted by James Stephens, whom I would know as a man who joined O'Brien at Ballingarry. He had come to Dillon at the outset, and asked his assistance, but Dillon regarded his project as utterly futile, and declined. I suggested that the large number of Irish officers trained in the American War, gave Irish conspiracy a new element of strength. Yes, he said, but they could not come into Ireland without passing British sentinels, who would close the door on the first serious alarm. The conspiracy had found favour in America, I said, judging by the Irish -American papers which I sometimes saw. Yes, he said, favour, but not confidence; there was at that moment an agent in Dublin sent over to ascertain what reality there was in the representations sent across the Atlantic by Stephens. The conspirators were honest, but not competent to such a task, and no serious result was probable, or indeed possible. Fenianism did not surprise me at all.
England inquired, and in a like case, had always inquired, who kindled the sedition? As well inquire who boiled the smoking torrents that burst from a German spa. Men may construct pipes and reservoirs to regulate the current, but the spring is spontaneous, and the inevitable result of natural agencies.
Dr. Russell, the President, invited me to Maynooth, and promised to secure the attendance of some of the professors who were my old friends. I was touched by the fact that a day after his sister's funeral, and the day before the annual meeting of the bishops at the college, was devoted to this purpose. It was very pleasant to meet not only my host, for whom I had the same feeling that Dr. Newman had, but Mr. Crawley, my comrade in Belfast a quarter of a century earlier, and Dr. Murray, to whom I owed more for the defence of my character and liberty, when I was in Newgate, than to any man living, outside my counsel. At the same time Dr. Woodlock, the President of the Catholic University, invited me to meet the professors at dinner. They were old friends for the most part, but though I went I could not but fear that Dr. Cullen would not approve of such a compliment to such an offender. But I may have been unjust to him, for two or three men of note welcomed me cordially on behalf of a number of ecclesiastics, who habitually acted with Dr. Cullen.
After a little I was entertained at a public dinner, where all that remained of the National party of '48, and the Tenant Right Party of '52, was largely represented. John Dillon occupied the chair, and on his right sat George Henry Moore, and on his left Isaac Butt, the two most gifted orators in Ireland. Archbishops and bishops who rarely visit public assemblies sent letters of cordial sympathy, and popular leaders and popular priests came from every part of Ireland. Even Dr. M'Knight, though we had separated fiercely in the contest about Lucas, cheerfully recognised that I was still what he had believed me in our earliest friendship. I was rejoiced to tell my old friends that all that I asked for the Irish farmer had been attained for the Irish immigrant in Australia. All that I asked for the Irish nation—to rule and possess its own country without external interference, was also attained in Australia—a testimony surely that our claims in Ireland were not unjust or extravagant. The most significant fact of the evening, perhaps, was that Isaac Butt, who was supposed to have attended only as a private friend of mine, seized the occasion to announce himself as a Nationalist of the same school as the guest of the evening, and from that time his career as a National leader may be said to have commenced.
On the same occasion George Henry Moore made a speech of great rhetorical power, inflamed with unexpected bitterness. He scoffed at the attempt of certain persons, meaning Dr. Cullen and his associates, to revive a national movement, after having betrayed and destroyed one of the greatest national movements Ireland ever possessed. He had countenanced the deserters, but after their defection there still remained at the head of the people's cause two men of whose leadership any people in the world might be proud, and whom any other people would have followed with unwavering confidence. One of the two was their honoured guest, and the other sat in a higher place, and still prayed for the interests of the people for whom he was martyred. It needed all the sweetness and serenity of John Dillon to prevent an explosion, for he was a supporter of the new movement assailed.
I was urged to remain at home so vehemently, so persuasively, that it was hard to resist. A General Election was at hand, and it was thought that a genuine Irish party, such as I had projected in '49, might be re-created. John Dillon wished to have me forthwith nominated for a popular constituency, but I would consent on one condition only, that George Henry Moore and the popular priests of the Tenant League would fall into the movement. I met unexpected facilities, and still more unexpected difficulties. I told Dillon that Moore must be nominated at the same time that I was, and that I was persuaded Dr. Cullen would never assent to either of us. Dillon insisted that I was mistaken, but he was prepared to bring the matter to the simplest possible test; he would propose Moore and me as candidates at the next public meeting, and if Dr. Cullen made any embarrassing objection, he would resign his office as secretary and quit the Association. But Moore was more intractable; if Dr. Cullen remained connected with the Association he must decline to associate himself with it. And he amazed me by a rooted prejudice against Dillon. There was nobody living in whose integrity I had more complete confidence than Dillon's; there never was anything in his conduct that was not frank, open, and intelligible, and if he wished to 'get help from all men whose honesty he did not distrust, whatever might have been their mistakes in the past, the sentiment was not strange in a man returning from a distant continent. A private conference of the old League priests was held with Dillon and me, and I found them as rootedly opposed as Moore was to any co-operation with a society of which Dr. Cullen was a member. I thought it unwise and impossible to shut any Irishman out of public life who was not charged with dishonesty or corruption, and I determined to return to Australia. Before I left John Dillon was asked to stand for Tipperary, and he invited me to accompany him to the constituency. I had great satisfaction in the decisive opinion he expressed on independent opposition: "I am a thorough believer (he wrote) in Independent Opposition as a principle of Parliamentary action, and I should feel bound to act in opposition to any minister who will not aid in carrying a satisfactory measure of tenant compensation." He was of course elected, but it is a significant illustration of the senseless and stupid policy, which the Fenians borrowed from the Chartists, that a Fenian mob in the capital of the county silenced by clamour the most distinguished and best-tested Nationalist then in the country.
John George Adair called on me. He has aged a good deal, and his old gaiety is, I fancy, gone; but he is still in the vigour of manhood, a well-preserved, handsome, dignified gentleman. He came, he said, to invite me to spend a week with him in the country, and talk of the dear old times. "Do you want me to be shot?" I asked, smiling? "Oh," he said, "they would not shoot you, even in my company." "Why not?" I rejoined. "If I condoned your offences against the industrious people they would have good grounds for holding me more guilty than you." I do believe that Adair was entirely sincere in his Nationality in '47, but the struggle between hired land and native land rarely ends in favour of the latter. I told him I had an affectionate recollection of our old intercourse, but I could not appear to condone his serious offences.
During my absence in Australia the bishopric of Clogher became vacant, and the votes of the parish priests declared my valued friend, the Maynooth Professor Dignissimus, for the office. But another priest unknown to me was, to my great disappointment, selected by the Holy See on the recommendation of Dr. Cullen. But the new bishop was not a partisan. He put himself at the head of a committee to invite me to a public dinner in my native town, and remained my steadfast friend from that time until his death. After the public dinner I visited the cemetery of the district. My mother was buried in a family tomb, erected in the last century, containing many of my ancestors and kinsmen, but the good bishop co-operated with me by granting a site on which I erected a Celtic cross to the special memory of my dear mother.
When I returned to London with more leisure, I found English opinion on Australian affairs strangely ill-informed. On one point I was peculiarly sensitive. Responsible Government was pronounced to have ignominiously failed in Australia. In the National Review, under the control of men so able and so fair as Mr. Bagehot and Mr. Hutton, the most contemptuous judgment was pronounced on us. The verdict seemed to me ill-informed and unfair, and I determined to join issue with them, not as a friend of the Government, but as a friend of the colony. I wanted various documents for this purpose, and I frankly sent for them to a political opponent who was in the best position to obtain them. Mr. Higinbotham immediately replied:—
"I have only time before the closing of the mail to acknowledge your note of August 20th. I will send by the earliest ship the papers you ask for—or as many as I can procure—including a Report just prepared, on the working of the New Land Act.
"Parliament will be prorogued on Tuesday, after a Session of a year's length, and will be immediately dissolved. The Government are still supported by a large majority of the Assembly, and we expect to be successful at the Elections, but the struggle will be severe, and if- money can turn the scale we shall be beaten. The last debate in the Assembly ended this morning at past one o'clock.
"I hope your book will be a success. I do not myself care at all what they say of us in England, but others do. English opinion has at present an extraordinary, and, I think, a pernicious influence on our affairs."
What I projected was a book on the working of Responsible Government in connection with democratic franchises, which, in my opinion, had an unblemished record during the ten years I had known it. I thought I would write it during the winter. I dined with Forster to talk over the project. " He approves of the idea, and proposes to speak to Murray or Longman about publishing it, or, if I were anxious about profit, to Smith and Elder, with whom I might make a better bargain. He made various suggestions which ought to be useful, for Forster is certainly the original of Lytton Bulwer's practical man of letters, to whom he sent Lenny Fairfield to learn how to employ his powers successfully."
I desired to see Mr. Disraeli, and fortunately Mr. Disraeli desired to see me. In July Mr. Montague Corry wrote to me: "Will you, if convenient to you, oblige the Chancellor of the Exchequer by calling on him here on Wednesday next, the 1st of August, at half-past two." We talked much of Irish and Australian affairs. In Victoria trouble had arisen with the Governor, which I assured Mr. Disraeli was attributable to the blunder of sending out a man to work Responsible Government who had never seen a Parliament. "Well," rejoined Disraeli, "that grievance disappears, for we have sent you out a man who was born in the Parliament House, and bred up in the shelter of the Speaker's robe." He asked me why I spoke to him of Colonial affairs instead of speaking with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I rejoined that I had received counsel from a learned man very early in life, when I wanted to move anything to go where the motive power existed. Of Ireland he said it was his purpose to deal fairly and justly with the questions which agitated the country, and as promptly as the enormous claims on Parliament will admit. I shall not repeat in detail a conversation which was largely confidential.
Dr. Newman invited me to visit him at Birmingham, but when the time I could conveniently leave London (in August) had arrived, it proved too late. Father Neville wrote me from the Oratory: "Dr. Newman is away from home; he is on the Continent for a few weeks. He will be very sorry to have missed you, for he had been looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you upon your return to England."
Another disappointment almost as vexatious followed. Stuart Mill wrote:—
"Blackheath Park, August 11, 1866.
"I had been hoping for some further communication from you, and now it has unluckily come on the very day on which I am leaving England for the Continent. I very much regret that circumstances have prevented us from meeting more frequently during your stay in this country; but, so far as regards Australian politics, I regret it chiefly on my own account, for on that subject I should have been almost solely a learner from you. If you have time to write to me at my address in France, Saint Vévan près Avignon, it would give me great pleasure to correspond with you."
Mr. O'Shanassy arrived in London, and as our intercourse latterly had not been cordial, I was surprised by a visit from him. I was leaving my hotel to reside for a time with Mr. Justice O'Hagan, and I determined to use the opportunity to repay O'Shanassy for his share in my reception in Australia. He was in London for the first time, and knew nobody. I asked my friend to invite him to dinner, and present him to some political people, which he did immediately and effectually. He had had irritating contests with the people in New South Wales about encroachments on his squatting property, and it seemed to me that he no longer sympathised with them as of old. He went soon after to Ireland, and this change must have been observable, for a trustworthy witness, Professor McCarthy, described him as having alienated the Nationalists in his native county.
"Did you hear (he wrote) how your friend O'Shanassy's banquet in Tipperary was a dead failure? He let himself be taken up by the small Cromwellian gentry; they patronised him, and he took their patronage, to the huge disgust of his own race. No priest would go to the banquet, not even the P. P. of Tipperary. Then at the banquet O'S. talked jauntily of 'having possibly invested £1 in a Repeal Card.' He will not get another banquet in Tipperary during this generation."
When the fog and the east wind became intolerable we turned our faces to the South. Paris, Florence, Rome, of what a dazzling journey they are the étapes, but the prudent man remembers that it is a journey which the whole civilised world has made, and that there is nothing more to be said on that topic. The morning after our arrival in Rome a visitor came to us, who proved to be the most gracious of friends and the most skilful of guides to the Immortal City. Father Tom Burke, the Irish Dominican orator, had risen to eminence during my absence in Australia, but I knew him and he knew me by repute, and we speedily became friends. I necessarily recognised immediately what keenness of intellect, natural humour, and knowledge of character Father Burke possessed, but his pulpit oratory, when I came to hear him, was a profound surprise. He was preaching at the time in one of the churches in the Piazza del Popolo, where sermons are delivered weekly for the English, Irish, and American visitors of various creeds who winter at Rome, and in a letter to his biographer I afterwards stated the impression he made upon me:—
"I had heard all the contemporary preachers of note in the Catholic Church at least, and all the Parliamentary orators of the day, but I was moved and impressed by that sermon beyond any human utterance to which I had ever listened. I despair of conveying the sort of impression it made upon me, but I think persuasiveness was its most striking characteristic. He marched straight to a fixed end, and all the road he passed seemed like a track of intellectual light. You were gradually drawn to adopt the preacher's views as the only ones compatible with truth and good sense. His accent was Irish, but his discourse bore no other resemblance to any Irish utterance with which I was familiar. We have the school of Grattan and the school of O'Connell, the artificial and the spontaneous, into which most Irish oratory may be distributed; but Father Burke's belonged as little to one as to the other. The lucid narrative which, without arguing, was the best of arguments; the apt illustration which summed up his case in a happy phrase, might have recalled Plunket, but in truth, like most original men, he resembled no one but himself."
It was a rare enjoyment to visit the monuments and historic sites of such a city with such a guide. If a holidaymaker has seen the birthplace or the grave of the local artist or preacher, poet or patriot, where chance conducts his steps, he counts his day well spent. But when the painter is Raphael or Claude, the poet Tasso, the patriot Rienzi, and the preacher Saul of Tarsus or St. Matthew the Evangelist, written words are but a pale shadow of the feelings they evoke. To visit for the first time the noble halls and galleries, cabinets and courts of the Vatican, which vie in beauty with the treasures they contain, and make all other museums mean and dingy, is an education in art; and what an historical study is the Collegio Romano, where one may see the identical rooms occupied by eminent missionaries and saints of the Society of Jesus two centuries ago, still containing the books and furniture they used when they were students or professors, and its noble library, where it was a pleasant surprise to find the works of Savonarola on its shelves, and the portrait of Galileo in its observatory? And where can the early history of Christendom be better studied than in the Catacombs, the hiding-place of early popes and saints, and richer than the Colosseum itself in the blood of Christian martyrs? Of the early history of Ireland how much may we find in San Pietro in Montorio, where our martyrs lie buried. But nothing in the capital of the Christian world, not St. Peter's or the Sovereign Pontiff, was a sight fit to match in interest to Irishmen the exhibition of the Accademia Polyglotta, where students from Asia, Africa, Australasia, and America spoke, each of them, the language or chanted the music of his birthplace, and from three continents and their outlying islands the students bore names that marked them of our own indestructible people. The remote history of Europe, when the children of Conn gave missionaries to half the known world, seemed revived again in that spectacle. What a volume steeped in tears, but illuminated too with glorious incidents, might be written on the Irish monuments and institutions in Rome! His own San Clemente furnished my friend with a constant text, for its Irish friars were the hosts and often the trusted counsellors of princes from Charles and James Stuart, and Charles Edward in a later generation down to Albert Edward of Wales in our own day, who has knit a friendship with the good friars; and what is nobler and better, it was the constant guardian of Irish interests, when Ireland had a foreign policy and a diplomatic corps hid under the black or brown robes of monks and professors. And he did not forget that other Irish house founded by the great Franciscan, Luke Wadding, who was ambassador from the Confederation of Kilkenny to the Holy See, or the more modern college in whose humble church the heart of O'Connell is preserved. There is a granite obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo, in which my friend found a type of the Irish race. It is covered with hieroglyphics sculptured by Egyptian artists before Moses received the tables of the Law on Mount Sinai; it has seen cities grow and perish, generations and cycles come and go, the Goth and the Gaul in turn masters of Rome, the piratical soldier of fortune and the crowned Emperor holding the cradle of Christianity to pillage, but it still lifts its eternal face to the sun as fresh in the day of Bismarck as in the days of Cæsar. The eloquent Dominican saw in this Eastern monument a type of the Celtic race, destined to outlive chance and change, and remain fresh and imperishable in the old age of the world. One weighty saying of Father Burke's I still remember, and I have often quoted it since. Speaking of Frederick Lucas's mission to Rome in 1855 on behalf of the second order of the Irish clergy, he said, "Lucas failed because the case of Ireland against England was necessarily ill understood at Rome. The Holy Father and the Propaganda saw every day men who bore names which they had read in English history, and who were officials of the Roman Court—Talbots, Howards, and Cliffords. The only Irishman they saw was probably some priest with an unpronounceable name, and whose Latin or Italian jarred upon Southern ears. They received habitually touring English nobles and ecclesiastics who had not a good word for Ireland; for national prejudice, which is strong enough in an ordinary Englishman, is stronger in a noble, and strongest of all in a priest. And this class prejudice (he remarked) was not local but general; one of the bitterest enemies of Poland he had ever encountered was a Russian nun, probably of noble birth. The Poles being a Catholic nation did not counterbalance the fact that they were bad subjects to his gracious Majesty the Czar."
To my question why he did not himself undertake this neglected duty of representing Ireland truly to the Holy See, he replied that Rome was the headquarters of the Church Militant, where its statesmen and rulers were assembled, and he, for his part, was simply a private soldier in the ranks.
I had brought a pocketful of introductions to Rome, to Cardinal Antonelli, the Prime Minister, the heads of religious houses and professors in the Propaganda and the Irish College, but I did not make much use of them. One incident I cannot omit. His Holiness was pleased to grant me a private interview. The domestic apartments of the Vatican exceed in beauty even the noble halls and galleries thrown open to the public, and the costumes and uniforms of the attendants and suite were rich and effective. After passing through four anterooms occupied by guards, attendants, and ecclesiastics, I reached the chamber where the Pope spent much of his life. It was of modest dimensions and modest appointments, and he was clothed in a robe of white woollen. His face was singularly sweet and beneficent, and his voice a marvellous organ for so aged a man. I had seen him before in public, and afterwards at the Paschal ceremonies, but I was more impressed by the simplicity and patience with which he pursued inquiries, when he thought I might tell him things he desired to know. To grant audiences is one of the duties of a sovereign, but how inexpressibly wearisome it must be. An imitation monk, an English Protestant clergyman calling himself Brother Ignatius (represented to be a great blockhead) was with him the other day. Some time after I saw his Holiness again, when the foundation stone of the church of the English College at Rome was laid. He held a drawing-room to which a limited number of persons, scarcely reaching a hundred, was admitted. Among them were the King and Queen of Naples, the heroic Queen whose courage at Gaeta had excited the admiration of Europe. An English lady, much in favour with the Queen, came to me and proposed to present me to her Majesty. I said I greatly admired her, and would feel honoured by such a presentation if it were becoming in me to accept it, but it would amount to political hypocrisy, for nearly every other person in that salon desired her restoration, and for my part I hoped never to see a Bourbon return to an Italian throne.
I met various persons of distinction in society, but twenty years has considerably diminished the interest of my diary on such topics. One story, however, I have often laughed at since. At the table of a cultivated and literary English member to whom Robert Browning introduced me, I met Lord Odo Russell. Our talk after dinner fell on the state of Rome at that time. There was a general feeling that the Pope would be deprived of his sovereignty. I suggested that such a proceeding would be a robbery, not only of the Pope but of Catholic Europe; whatever ancient monument was preserved, whatever modern edifice was erected, was sure to be inscribed with the name of some pope who spent the offerings of Catholic Europe in these good works, and the Vatican, which was worth a modern city, was created and preserved by the same agency. I did not at all desire to see the Pope a prince with extensive dominions, and involved in political conflicts, but it was not too much that the head of the Catholics of Europe should have one city where he was master and independent, beyond control or interference. Lord Odo replied that much might be admitted on this head if the people of Rome were not so eager to get rid of him, but it was entirely adverse to the modern spirit, and to one's sense of justice, to impose a government which they distrusted and disliked on a quarter of a million of people on any pretence whatever. After a pause I repeated his axiom, pausing on every clause of it. "It is contrary to the modern spirit, and to one's sense of justice, to impose a government which they dislike on a quarter of a million of people on any pretence. By my faith," I said, "I believe you're right; let us begin by applying the maxim to Dublin."
In Ireland a number of Fenians had been arrested under the Treason Felony Act, and their trial took place in Dublin at this time. Though I was not acquainted with any of them, and thought their means and methods insensate, I was deeply interested in men who had risked their lives in the just quarrel of Ireland. I wrote to Judge O'Hagan repeatedly on the subject. At the beginning of the new year, 1866, I said:—
"I have read the Fenian Trials with mixed feelings of compassion and astonishment. 1848 was unwise enough in many respects, but anything to match the fatuity with which Stephens entrusted treasonable notices to ragged recruits who had joined him a few weeks does not, I think, exist in the history of conspiracies. And Pagan O'Leary, who no sooner met a soldier over a pint of porter than he exclaimed (like the man in the Critic), 'A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal allegiance to the Irish Republic, now virtually established can they be matched anywhere?' Poor fellows, God pity them! they had courage and devotion which rescues them from contempt. … Again, I have been dreaming constantly of the unfortunate Fenian prisoners. Fancy the condition of men of some culture like O'Leary, Kickham, and O'Keefe, utterly without books, and without pen and ink. The circulation is commonly slow and the blood cold in a man who lives by journalism, and fancy them, as I constantly do, sleeping in stone cells! It would be a good action if you, who would be listened to, would ask Mr. Gladstone, who has told us his opinion of the treatment proper for State prisoners, to allow them books and pen and ink, and a few yards of matting for their cells. They would not be less secure, but they would be rescued from torture.
"When old Palmerston died I could not help regretting that you had not remained in Parliament. Mr. Gladstone might surely be made see, if you were within reach of his ear, that the very greatest work which remains for a British statesman to attempt is the pacification of Ireland. Peel had the glory of carrying Catholic Freedom and Free Trade, but there is a greater work behind. I doubt if it can be attempted with advantage while a man so conceited and so fearful of English opinion as Lord Russell remains; but this Government will not last long I fancy, and after the Tories there will no doubt be a Gladstone Government. A poor old conceited body, beyond seventy, who thinks he carried the Great Reform Bill and created the No Popery riots of 1850 is not the man for such an undertaking."
My dear friend "the Maynooth Professor," who had taken much trouble to make friends for me at Rome, urged two works on me to be undertaken in the winter holidays. I had mentioned to him that Murray's "Handbook to Rome" was substantially borrowed from an original and most laborious volume by an Irish priest, in which the inscriptions on monuments and facts of every sort which look so well-informed in Murray, had been found. He urged me to review the Handbook in the Dublin Review, doing justice to the original pioneer. "Catholic Theologians," he said, "constantly borrow from each other, without acknowledgment, whole sentences and paragraphs, word for word. Donovan, a Catholic author takes from another Catholic author, and gives what he takes in a Catholic spirit. This is all in 'a family way,' between brother and brother. It is quite another and widely different thing, when an English Protestant plunders a Catholic writer, and smears the goods thus stolen with his own japan, and sells them as wares of genuine Protestant manufacture. Then you could give such a vivid, flashing 'flame picture' of all you saw and felt in the Jerusalem of the Christian Church. And you could put so forcibly that argument, which has never yet been properly stated, from the Sacrilege, of handing over the See of the Vicar of Christ, with its numberless shrines of God and His Saints and its relics gathered for eighteen hundred years, into the sooty paws of that dog-faced centaur Victor Emmanuel, to stable his harlots in the midst of them. Irrespective of all personal regard or even acquaintance, I would give a trifle for an article—even of only one sheet of sixteen pages—on this matter from your pen. For God's sake write the article!"
I did not write the review, not because the complaint was not a just one, but before leaving London I had visited Mr. John Murray with John Forster to talk over my intended Australian book, and Mr. Murray, knowing I was going to Rome, had presented me with a copy of his Guide. I felt that to review it unfavourably would be an ungenerous return for his courtesy. The other point my friend urged related to my intended book.
"Mind," he wrote, "put no politics of any kind into your book. Every word in that direction will be a blot, a sootdrop. Of course I do not mean politics as a science or a philosophy, but what is commonly meant by the word—i.e., party politics, e.g., Whig or Tory. Narrate, describe, &c., and you will produce the most charming work that any Irish Catholic has ever written."
For five months we employed every day in seeing the wonders of Rome, and when Easter was over, drank of the Fountain of Trevi to guarantee our return some day. On our journey back we stopped at Genoa, at the hotel where O'Connell died; some pious hand has placed a bas-relief of his head in front of the apartment where he died. I asked the head waiter and afterwards the landlord the name and story of the illustrious dead, but neither of them had the slightest idea on the subject. So the Irish soldiers and scholars of the Middle Ages are ignored. A people who have not a national existence cannot fix the attention of other nations.
When I arrived in London I determined not to publish the Australian book, of which I had written some chapters, as it raised too many issues, but to deliver a lecture on the misapprehensions that prevailed in England about that country. I lectured at the Society of Arts in the presence of many political friends. The lecture probably answered its purpose, for it was well received in England, and the first returning mail from Melbourne brought two editions of it, published by competing booksellers without waiting for my authority, and it was welcomed by both the political parties as a just vindication of the country. Among many letters it brought me, I think one from Aspinall was the most gratifying:—
"I and the whole community have read with pride and satisfaction your English and Irish doings, notably the lecture on our Parliamentary career.
"Your enemies even admit that you have done honour to yourself, and the colony at home.
"I have no time to write at large, but I cannot but sincerely congratulate you on the feeling which your speeches at home have created here."
I returned early to London mainly to witness the great Parliamentary tournament over the New Reform Bill. It was a keen enjoyment to me; and on its conclusion I wrote my impressions to Judge O'Hagan:—
"I came home last night at half-past three, from the debate, having sat through two weeks of Parliamentary talk without flinching. And there were half a dozen speeches which repaid the endurance of the rest. First of all the speech of Coleridge, who is master of the most effective Parliamentary style of any man I have ever listened to. His style is better than Gladstone's, more refined and scholarly than Blight's. It was a high intellectual treat to listen to him. Lowe's speech was amazing for variety and scope. It wanted nothing but a dash of passion, and a little magnanimity towards his quondam friends to be a grand oration.
"I took the responsibility of advising certain of the Irish members who consulted me to vote for the Bill, on the single ground that I believe Gladstone means better towards Ireland than any one else, except Bright."
I made a second visit to Dublin, on which it is not necessary to dwell.
I naturally saw much of Judge O'Hagan and John O'Hagan, the two men living who possessed most of my confidence and affection, and towards the end I had the pleasure of learning that the Judge's youngest daughter, who was my goddaughter, was to become the wife of the younger friend.
I was now preparing to return to Australia. On our way we stopped at Paris, and I saw Louis Napoleon driving in a carriage with two or three friends, without guards or outriders. It was near the market of Rue St. Honoré, and the market people rushed out to see him with a real and manifestly an affectionate interest. It was their eagerness which attracted my attention. I believed him to be still detested by the ouvriers, but a generation has grown up to be men and women since he has possessed power who know only him. I believed him to be carefully guarded, but he was certainly not guarded so on this occasion. His appearance has much improved. His head, I think, has broadened and grown more impressive. When I saw him in London in 1855 I thought he looked like a Birmingham bagman; at present he has a solid and capable look like a successful banker, for he still looks one of the bourgeoisie not of the nobles.
The famous Father Prout was in Paris as correspondent of the Globe, and I hoped to have a pleasant talk with him upon the Ireland of our day, but he was unhappily laid up with an attack which ended fatally. He wrote me from what proved to be his dying bed:—
"8th May. 19, Rue de Moulin.
"My dear Mr. Duffy, You have no idea what pleasure it would give me to see you; but I am bedridden this last month; have a complete extinction of voice, and I am utterly unfit to see any one; no solid food has entered my system since that time, and I am reduced to infant weakness. The best medical attendance surrounds me and all sorts of kind sympathy; but in London they know nothing of my prostrate condition, a clever lady taking care here to imitate my sort of talk in the Globe. I sincerely wish you all the political eminence you deserve, as you make the antipodes your home, I don't think Irishmen can do better than work out a career iclogged by native impediments.
Another fatal illness deprived me of the society of a man of more importance. Count Montalembert was my ideal of what a Catholic gentleman should be genuinely pious, and a strict disciplinarian, but entirely free from bigotry or intolerance. The rooted enemy of despotism, and the friend of personal and public liberty everywhere. A mutual friend had written to him from London that I was coming to Paris, and I counted on a political and intellectual treat, but a letter from Madame la Comtesse put an end to my hopes, and I never saw him.
"M. le Comte de Montalembert retenu au lit depuis plus de quinze jours, par une grave indisposition, regrette infiniment de ne pouvoir reçevoir l'honorable Monsieur Gavan Duffy. S'il est suffisamment rétabli la semaine prochaine il se fera un plaisir d'en prévenir Monsieur Duffy dont il sera très heureux de faire la connaissance personnelle.
"40, Rue Du Bac, ce 6 Mai, 1866."
Under the Constitution Act I was entitled to a retiring pension, and as this was the first occasion of the right being exercised, the Government determined to have the decision of the Supreme Court on the subject. A similar application from Mr. Ireland was considered at the same time, and our counsel was Mr. Fellows, the leader of the Bar, who had framed the regulations as Attorney-General of a former Government, the other side being represented by the law officers of the Crown. The case was decided in favour of the applicants, but I was greatly embarrassed when my solicitor reported that Mr. Fellows positively refused to receive a fee from a brother barrister. In Paris, when I reached it, I bought some artistic bronzes and sent them to him with the thanks of a grateful client, which he acknowledged in the following note:—
"My dear Sir,—Although I am sorry that any feeling of clientele should have induced you to regard my services in any other light than those afforded by one barrister to another in legal difficulties, I must thank you for the mode in which the 'client' has been pleased to express his appreciation of his 'counsel's' assistance on the occasion to which you have referred.
"It was at the request of my late excellent friend and neighbour (Mr. Haines) that I looked up the subject and drew the regulations—and though the knowledge thus acquired was afterwards available for you in court, it was secondarily only that you had the advantage of it professionally.
"I mention this circumstance lest by my silence on the subject I should appear to be taking credit to myself for the Order in Council to the exclusion of Mr. Haines with whom and for whom I acted in preparing it. Again thanking you, I am very truly yours,
"Tho. Howard Fellows.
"27th Nov., 1866."
- The present Cardinal Moran.
- "After that winter in Rome it was more than a dozen years before I heard him preach again, and in the interval he had been in feeble health, and sometimes prostrate with suffering. It was in the Jesuits' Church, Farm Street, London, where he made the annual éloge of St. Ignatius. The subject had been exhausted by a multitude of predecessors in that pulpit; it had perhaps special difficulties for a Dominican, and his health was known to be failing fast. But it stands out in my memory as one of the three or four greatest orations I have heard. It was a fresh character portrait, drawn in bold, striking lines, and set in a narrative lucid as the waters of the Mediterranean. Again the master charm was persuasiveness. I could not help thinking, if he had not already found his life-task, here was a man who could plead the cause of his native country with more winning force than any one to whom I have listened in later years—perhaps than any one to whom I ever listened. He did not wield the Thor's hammer of O'Connell, crushing and crashing whatever impeded its stroke, and he could not thrill with the passionate enthusiasm sometimes evoked by Thomas Meagher, but to win the assent of the conscience and convince the judgment no one excelled him. Much of this force was mesmeric, the outcome of the whole moral and intellectual nature of the man. The orator is not always made; sometimes, like the poet, his gifts are born with him. Father Burke was a born orator; the charm of voice and eye and action combined to produce his wonderful effects. When his words were printed much of the spell vanished. One rejoiced to hear him over and over again, but re-read him rarely, I think,"—Letter to W. J. Fitzpatrick.
- Afterwards Lord Chief Justice.