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destruction; they threaten to wheel her to some remote part of the park and then leave her to wheel herself home as best she may; in short, there is no limit to the modes in which these two mischievous monkeys tyrannise over their venerable and helpless friend. One day, when the spirit of wickedness was more than usually dominant, they insisted upon tying a handkerchief over her eyes that she might not be able to see where they were going to take her. On her remonstrating, the threat was immediately held over that, failing submission, she would be pushed violently down steep places into the lake. The wheeling went on for some time, when it suddenly stopped, and nothing was to be heard but a sound of muffled laughter close by, and on the victim pulling the bandage from her eyes she found she was stranded on the bleach-green between two clothes-lines, with her two tormentors giggling at her from behind a big blanket. And now there they are doing their utmost to embitter her enjoyment of this beautiful morning by keeping her uncomfortably near the edge of the terrace-steps. Never was a benevolent elderly lady treated with so much indignity; never did condescension and indulgence meet with such an abominable return. What would our beloved greatgrandmothers say could they peep out from their stately vaults, and behold the license of modern young people! Let us hope they will never do anything so foolish, lest their dear old bones. should begin to quake at the sight, supposing there is still enough left of the said dear old bones to do so. But the Countess Boulder must be lamentably wanting in firmness, and must, after all, richly deserve some castigation for her weakness of character, for she does nothing but lie back in her chair and laugh immoderately.
"You horrible little wretches," she cries, how you delight in teasing me! Do pull me an inch or two farther back, for I am in momentary fear that something may set the chair off, and that I shall run over the steps."
"Shall we move her back, Nelly?" says Aggie.
"No, Aggie, not yet. Aunt Boulder must learn not to be nervous. Miss Reade says nervousness in young ladies is silly, and ought to be overcome, and of course it is worse in old ladies, and Aunt Boulder must be taught to overcome it."
At which Aunt Boulder-their aunt by special permission, not by relationship-laughs more than ever, and cries:
"You little absurdities! Well, at least pick up my parasol, one of you; it has fallen just under the wheel."
"Isn't it very careless of Aunt Boulder to drop her parasol, Nelly?" says Aggie.
"Yes, Aggie, extremely careless, and I must teach Aunt Boulder not to be so careless in future, though it gives me great pain to do so, as Miss Reade says when she keeps us in half an hour."
And upon this the young lady picks up the parasol and offers it
to her ladyship, but pulls it out of her reach as often as she attempts to clutch it, repeating demurely during the operation, patience and perseverance overcome all difficulties."
"Ah, Eleanor, here you are," cries the persecuted peeress, as Lady Quaque makes her appearance at this moment, accompanied by Mrs. Treeby. "Do come to my rescue. These naughty
children of yours are playing all manner of tricks upon me."
My children are bent, I think, on bringing me to shame," said Lady Quaque. "There's that wicked Philip nearly broken Blundel's head by experimenting upon the gong. It seems he is in the habit of helping Bellamy to beat it every morning for breakfast, and this morning he took it into his head when Bellamy's back was turned to move it off its hook, to the imminent peril of Blundel's head, who was passing underneath at the moment. Aggie-Nelly, what have you been doing? Where is Miss Reade this morning? If you are to be troublesome, I must send you into the house."
"Shall we pull Aunt Boulder back a bit, Nell?" says Aggie, without heeding her mamma.
"Yes, we will Aggie; we'll pull her back three yards and leave her alone for the rest of the day; and I implore you, madam, to take the lesson to heart. Here is your parasol. Let us give her the kiss of charity and forgiveness, Aggie."
Saying which, both young ladies bent over the chair and bestowed a couple of sounding kisses on the forehead of their victim, who manifested the inherent weakness of her character by pulling Miss Nell's face down to her own, and repaying the kiss with compound interest.
"There, you old-fashioned, ridiculous little antic, with your wise schoolroom saws and maxims, I've half a mind to hand you over to Mamma, and to tell her how atrociously you behave to a helpless old woman. I wish Mr. Rucklebed was here; he seems to be the only person who knows how to keep you in order. Now just wheel me over to that corner in the sun, will you? Isn't this weather delicious, Mrs. Treeby? I hope they will have a nice ride and no mishaps. Here come the horses; but what has become of our young ladies, I wonder."
"There they are," cried Aggie; and she and Nelly rushed away to the other end of the terrace as some half-dozen figures appeared coming up the steps, the greater number of which were arrayed in riding-habits, and held dainty little riding-whips in their hands. They turned out to be respectively the three Treeby girls, Lady Mary Tarnicliffe, Archie, a college friend of his, and a young lady whose real name I, who record this history, have never been able to discover, but who always seemed to go by the name of "Minnie."
THE IRISH CHURCH QUESTION.
THE question of separation is no longer put forward in Ireland with the same pertinacity that it was in the first half of the present century. All educated Irishmen have become aware that whatever injury Great Britain might experience from the severance of the Union, the far greater injury which Ireland would suffer is beyond comparison. Situate on the western shores of England and Scotland, Ireland, in ceasing to be incorporated with Great Britain must inevitably become her foe and be reconquered. There can be no doubt that Great Britain could exist and flourish independent of Ireland, but unless, as has been proposed by the political Magog of the day, it were removed to some distant part of the Atlantic, or in closer proximity to the American Fenians, it must be dependent on, if not united with, England.
But if the question of separation is no longer put forward as a simple proposition, as of yore, it is being worked out in a far more sure and insidious manner. No one, with a head on his shoulders, but must feel that the disestablishment and disendowment of the Protestant Church-a measure carried by a Romanist and Dissenting majority, and by one of the most revolutionary Governments that have swayed the destinies of the country since the days of the Commonwealth-must lead to Roman Catholic ascendancy, and that the ascendancy of a foreign power will be as obnoxious to Irish Protestants as it will be incompatible with British rule. Putting aside the extraordinary policy which rewards loyalty by spoliation, and disloyalty, contumacy, and rebellion by toleration and clemency, how can a Church, overtly disestablished and disendowed, be expected to continue loyal ?
It is not only the estrangement of the ministers of the Irish Protestant Church that will entail disloyalty, but also that of the Protestant laity, and which has already declared itself in an unmistakable manner. Hitherto all movements in favour of a repeal of the Union have emanated from the Roman Catholics. They have been the only agitators for what is called the parliamentary independence of Ireland, from which they alone expected to derive any benefit. But Repeal has now become a Protestant, as well as a Roman Catholic cry, and the numbers of malcontents will be seriously increased when the untoward measure of disestablishment is carried into effect. This precious bill has indeed had for sole effect that of swelling the ranks of the discontented and disloyal party. The substitution of a papal for a Protestant ascendancy, while it has not been thorough enough to make those who were before disaffected any more loyal, has added to their
number a new class of malcontents, burning with a keen sense of the injury and insult which are sought to be laid upon them in the destruction of that Church, which, in their eyes, is the symbol and bond of the British connexion.
Mr. Gladstone's measure has been designated in the Queen's speech as a mere "ecclesiastical arrangement," but it is also a question of the fidelity of the Protestant laity. The traditional upholders of the British connexion, the descendants of those who, for centuries, have been the supporters of the British rule in Ireland, whose fathers fought for our common liberties, and who are the representatives of all that was loyal, free, orderly, and industrious in the island, are as much the victims of Irish disestablishment, as are the ministers of that Church, of which they constitute a part, and indeed the living emblem.
The Protestant Church having been cast away upon the plea that its presence in Ireland is obnoxious to the Celtic and Milesian portion of the population, it is obvious that the same Romanist majority will soon discover that the presence of Protestant and alien landlords is still far more obnoxious. The large proprietors will learn that "tenant-right" means permanent occupancy free of rent, and the possessors of estates who have received their property from former confiscations will find that the names of alleged rightful heirs are still carefully registered, and that reconfiscation will be of easy enactment by a mob representing Roman Catholic ascendancy, a foreign ruler, and "Ireland for the Irish."
Yet has Ireland never been purely Irish, as it is termed, no more than it has been Roman Catholic, since the introduction of Christianity. We know as little of the aborigines of Erin as we do of the early inhabitants of Albion; but separated from the poetical and fabulous traditions with which early records are enveloped, we do know that the Firl-bogs came from Belgium, the Danonians from Norway and Denmark, the Milesians from Spain, the Picts and Scots from Scotland, and the Saxons and Normans from England. We know also that such was the ever exemplary state of the precious island, that of one hundred and seventyeight monarchs of the Milesian colony, from Heber and Heremon down to Roderick O'Connor (who was ruler when the English arrived, A.D. 1170), only twenty died natural deaths; sixty were treacherously murdered and succeeded by their assassins, and seventy-one were slain in battle. "No man," says Sir John Davis, the historian of these eleven centuries of Milesian domination, "could enjoy his life, wife, lands, or goods in safety, if a mightier man than himself had an appetite for them, and the weak had no remedy against the stronger."
"The crime," says Montgomery Martin, "which Henry was invited over to Ireland to punish-the want of almost the commonest architectural structures for the people-the deep degrada
tion to which the mass of the populace were subjected, as also the very trifling number of inhabitants which the whole island contained-all demonstrate that Ireland could not even then be considered as ranking among the kingdoms of the earth. Yet this is the only period which can be named as a confirmatory proof that Ireland ought to become a kingdom as before."
Ireland, indeed, never was an independent kingdom in the true sense of the word, and never possessed a free constitution until her legislative union with England in 1800.† Assemblies under the designation of parliaments were, it is true, convened at different periods for the better government of the country, but Ireland never possessed that essential branch of a constitution denominated a House of Commons, in the only correct designation of the term. The chief legislation was carried on in England, for the Irish have never shown themselves fit to govern themselves. The country is divided into too many races, parties, factions and religious creeds.
Although, previous to the conquest, "the most ferocious or the most subtle man was nominally ruler of the whole island," there were also four or five provincial kings or rulers, as well as innumerable grades of chiefs, hating each other, but at times tributary to or professing fealty to the power directly above them; still there is no question but that historically speaking, if any claim to ascendancy could be put forward, it would be by the Milesians, certainly not by the Roman Catholic Irish. The Milesians did not acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope at the epoch of their rule. The Established Church is, in fact, the ancient Church of Ireland, and its income, amounting to one shilling per head annually, could never have been justly considered a national grievance or a cause of general suffering.
But a turbulent and ambitious Church, acknowledging foreign supremacy, having induced its flock to declare that the presence of a National Church, which has only become hateful to them since the introduction of Romanism, was a grievance, the existing Government and a majority of the House of Commons have, in the sense of "justice to Ireland," and in the hopes of further conciliating the people, given their countenance and support to a bill for the disestablishment and disendowment of the said National Church. Justice to one race or section in a country ought never to imply injustice to another, or it is no longer justice at all. If the Protestant Church had succeeded to the Roman Catholic Church, there might be some grounds for disclaiming against a Church being supported by the State, which was not that of the majority. But it is not so, and the early Christian Church, if not
"Ireland before and after the Union."
† Sir Robert Peel: "House of Commons Debate," Feb. 25, 1834.