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sun-worship exactly we must go back to times before the later worship of the Greeks, who contrived by some process unknown to us to split up the worship of the sun among several deities. Zeus, the thunderer, was the producer of rain; Apollo, the sun itself, drove through the heavens in his chariot, and other gods presided over minor details connected with the weather; but in ancient times the unity of sun-worship and atmospheric disturbances was as marked as it is today in the person of the Prophet Elias. Now when it thunders a Greek peasant will tell you that the prophet is driving in his chariot in pursuit of demons; when it lightens he will say that the prophet has struck one. A noted spot for sunworship in ancient Greece was Mount Taygetus in Laconia, which mountain now bears the name, and is crowned by a church dedicated to the Prophet Elias. Mount Helicon is another instance, Ægina yet another-in fact the examples are endless of the transfer of the ancient sun-worship to the Prophet Elias. In the islands it is even more marked, and if ever you see a lofty mountain with a tiny church upon it, you may be sure that it is called Mount Prophet Elias. Taking into consideration the skill the early Christian divines exhibited in adapting the names and attributes of ancient days to the new religion it is easily seen how. by a scarcely perceptible change of sound, the great god Helios could be transmuted into Elias. Helios drove round the world in his fiery chariot, drawn by horses. Elias went up to heaven in a similar conveyance. Helios produced rain and storm, and so did Elias by the fervor of his prayer on Mount Carmel. Elias brought down fire from heaven, and so did the great sun-god. Hence the parallel between the two was too tempting to be passed over. From the conditions of the weather on the prophet's day, the Greeks of to-day profess to tell the future state of the weather. If it rains it will be wet for a period which varies in various localities, though the time is generally close upon forty days. If it is fine, they prophesy hot weather, and a mild winter. What St. Swithin is to the English peasant the prophet Elias is to the Greeks. In rural districts of England they say that apples will be no good unless St. Swithin rains
upon them. 'They have been baptized by St. Swithin' is a conclusive proof of the excellence of apples in Huntingdonshire, and what the apple is to the Englishman the olive is to the Greek. "The Prophet Elias," they say, 66 puts the oil into the olive"; that is to say, without the rain which the prophet so kindly sends the fruit will not swell properly.
The belief that a wet St. Swithin's day will produce a succession of wet weather is therefore an obvious trace of sun-worship, which has travelled through many countries, and has left its trace with us; there is nothing in the legend of St. Swithin to lead us to suppose that he ever had more influence over the weather than St. Bibiana in Italy, or St. Médard in France, about whom the same belief is held, but St. Swithin's day is on the 15th of July, conveniently near the summer solstice, which falls, as we all know, on St. John's day, a day which in Greece, in Italy, in Norway, and in many remote corners of Europe, is still signalized by another relic of sun-worship, namely, the lighting of fires on mountain-tops in honor of St. John. Saints who have had the misfortune to have their days near those connected with well-known superstitions of the Pagan world have had attributes attached to them to which they have no real title.
St. Swithin, if he hovers around us in spirit, must be just as surprised at his supposed influence over the weather as St. Valentine must be at the somewhat questionable use which is now made of his name. And here again we have another instance of the survival of Paganism among us; but before entering on this subject we must again travel to the East and see what traces of an old Pagan custom connected with St. Valentine's day is still in existence there.
On Palm Sunday the women of the Greek islands indulge in a curious game of swing. In the narrow streets of their villages they tie a rope from one wall to the other; on the rope they put a rug, and on this the young women sit in turns, swinging and singing ditties about the Passion and death of our Lord. Apprised of this fact, the young men of the village assemble at the head of the street, and in single file pass down to where the girls are swinging. In differ
ent islands this game is played in different fashion. In Karpathos the girls demand a song from each young man as a toll before he passes on. In Seriphos they demand a copper, but every where it is expected of the man to give the girl who is swinging a slap on the back as he passes, for this is considered conducive to a desired end, namely, that she may be fruitful and multiply when her turn comes to marry. If we refer to our Juvenal (ii. 142) we shall find that this is a distinct survival of the old Lupercalia, which took place in spring time on the 15th of February, when the hearts of mankind were considered most prone to love, and when the young men ran through the streets whipping the women with the same object in view.
This was a festival held in honor of Pan and Juno, and in later times we read how at this festival it was the custom for the names of young women to be placed in boxes and to be drawn by men at hap-hazard, which custom continued long after the introduction of Christianity, and in spite of the strictures of the clergy, who, unable to check the ribaldry which not unfrequently attended this festive game, tried to conform it to Christian principles, and substituted for the maidens' names the names of saints, and called the festival by the name of St. Valentine, whose day happened to fall about this time, and who, poor man, suffered the cruel martyrdom of being beaten to death by clubs in the year 270 A.D., and who was in no way suitable for connection with anything of a gay or festive nature.
This substitution of the drawing of saints' names does not appear to have found favor with those who were accustomed to their little amorous game at this time, for an old writer, Misson by name, tells us how in England on St. Valentine's day an equal number of maids and men were in the habit of writing their names on slips of paper and of drawing them alternately from a ballot-box. Each man called the maid he had drawn his Valentine, and the company of both sexes were in the habit of giving gay entertainments to their friends, at which each gentleman wore in his coat the sign or token of his Valentine. Subsequently the drawer of the lady found it obligatory on him to present his Valentine with a valuable present, and the excess to which rich young men would go on this occasion is illustrated by the fact that Miss Stuart, afterward Duchess of Richmond, got a jewel from her young man of the value of £800.
Fortunately for the purses of later generations of young men this excessive expenditure has given place to the more humble sheet of decorated paper, which at small cost conveys the missive of love, and even this bids fair to disappear altogether from the face of the earth in favor of Christmas cards. How little do the senders of these harmless tokens of good-fellowship and greeting think that they are perpetuating the memory of a rather questionable Pagan festival in honor of Pan and Juno !Gentleman's Magazine.
This is the more decorous though scarcely less emphatic language of his latest manifesto.
Now, Unionists have been unduly apt to take these views of history for granted. They have been for the most part content to reply (what is perfectly true), that the historical argument has very little to do with the matter. The case of the Union must be judged, not according to the motives or actions of the men who supported it nearly a century ago, but by the standard of the welfare of the British Empire to-day. This argument is cogent, but the position is not satisfactory to those who are proud of the honor and the history of their country, and who regard as a precious possession the good fame of the statesmen of previous generations, to whatever political party they may have belonged.
But the Unionist case may be placed much higher than this. There is nothing in the conduct of Pitt and Cornwallis to be ashamed of. What black guardism and baseness is to be found, lies not in the conduct of those who forced on the Union, but of those who extorted the highest possible price for falling in with it. The reasons that led to the Union were honorable and sufficient. The Act of Union put an end to a state of things that was a disgrace and a peril to the empire. Its enactments must be read, as Professor Dicey in his recent admirable work declares, in the lurid light cast upon them by the rebellion of 1798. They must be read also in view of the death-struggle with France that was absorbing all the strength of the country. As many frivolous and wicked motives have been ascribed to Mr. Pitt as, in later times, to Mr. Gladstone himself. But the memoirs and private correspondence of the time are now open to the world, and from these the truth shines out.
Pitt and Cornwallis were guided by two motives-the necessity of securing the country against French invasion, and the desire to protect Irish Roman Catholics against the fury of Irish Protestants. These were the motives which they laid before the country; these, as we see from their most private utterances, were the motives that actuated themselves. The course which they took appeared to the country to be right
and necessary; and looking_back from this distance of time, it is hard to see that the country was wrong. Such is the view that I wish to present in this article.
In the first place, a short sketch of the salient features of the events which led up to the Union controversy will make the situation intelligible. During the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, Ireland lay under the weight of the severest penal laws against Catholics, and the heaviest commercial restrictions on her industry. When we look back upon those laws, they appear altogether iniquitous. The marvel seems to be that Ireland remained as tranquil and peaceable under them as she did. But Ireland was not singular in regard to either of them. In England and Scotland there existed penal laws against Catholics even more savage than those of Ireland. It is true they were not enforced; but the furious Edinburgh and Glasgow riots of January 1779, and the more celebrated Gordon riots of 1780, caused by attempts to slightly relax them, showed how fully they had the sanction of the more ignorant public opinion. Again, the whole theory of the British Empire was, that the commercial interests of every part were to yield to those of Great Britain. Irishmen are apt to talk as if the prohibitions on wool and the other commercial restrictions on Irish trade were imposed out of some special hatred of Ireland; but Ireland was merely put in the same position as any of the Colonies or Dependencies. Scotland did not obtain commercial freedom till the Union; Ireland at the same price obtained similar freedom. Nowadays, such restrictions are seen to do harm to the subject country quite incommensurate with the advantage to the superior country; but a hundred and fifty years ago it was a new idea to the Dependencies themselves that any other relationship was possible, and nothing was more hopeless-as Burke experienced at Bristol-than to persuade a commercial audience that the freedom of Ireland could fail to be the ruin of England.
But the revolt of the American Colonies against commercial restrictions of a similar nature roused Ireland from sleep. The Irish felt at once that the
cause of the Continentals was their own. The Presbyterians of the north, in particular, sympathized most strongly with them. Irish emigrants fought in their armies; and when the Continentals received hitherto unheard-of commercial freedom, the Irish began to urge very strongly their case for similar remissions. In 1777 came that great British disaster, the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, and in the next year followed the first considerable relaxation of the commercial restrictions and of the penal laws in Ireland. In the same year began the great Volunteer movement, the first symptom and expression of independent vigor in the country. The city of Belfast was threatened with a visit from three or four privateers. British arms were so reduced, that the only defence which the Lord Lieutenant found himself able to offer consisted of a troop or two of horse, or part of a company of invalids." Under these circumstances the inhabitants took up arms to defend themselves, and from this beginning sprang a great national movement, giving Ireland a unity and a conscious force which carried her far in the path of national life. Few bodies have been the subject of more extravagant laudation of few is it harder to form a just opinion. Perhaps the fairest testimony on the subject is that of Lord Clare, who, at any rate, had no undue bias in their favor. In his great speech in support of the Union, he says:
"On the old Irish volunteers I desire to be understood not to convey anything like a cen
Their conduct will remain a problem in history; for without the shadow of military control, to their immortal honor it is known, that from their first levy till they disbanded themselves, no act of violence or outrage was charged against them; and they certainly didon every occasion where their services were required exert themselves with effect to maintain the internal peace of the country. gentlemen of Ireland were all in their ranks, and maintained a decided influence upon them. But I shall never cease to think that the appeals made to that army by the angry politicians of that day were dangerous and ill-judged in the extreme; and that they established the precedent for rebellion, which has since been followed up with full success."
* Speech of Lord Clare in the Irish House of Lords, 10th Feb. 1800, p. 21-republished by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union.
In 1779 this force had grown to very large dimensions, and was variously estimated at from 40,000 to 100,000 strong. They were a vehemently loyal and wholly Protestant body. They devoted their full strength to political agitation. Their aims were free trade in the first place, and constitutional liberty in the second. Their demands for free trade were couched in no measured terms. At the celebration in Dublin of the birthday of William III., among the most prominent features in the demonstration were two cannon with the inscription, Free Trade or this." In the winter of 1779-80 this imperious and just demand was conceded, and complete free trade was granted by Lord North. In the autumn of 1781 came the final blow of the American war, in the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, the only efficient British general, with his army at York Town. This was followed up by the volunteers of the Dungannon Convention of February 1782, formed by delegates from all the Ulster corps, and representing a force of 25,ooo armed men. After grave and decorous debate, this assembly declared that The claim of any body of men, other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind this country, is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance." After a series of resolutions upon all the burning questions of the day, they concluded, Protestant as they were, by affirming
That we hold the right of private judgment in matters of religion to be equally sacred in others as in ourselves. That as men and as
Irishmen, as Christians and as Protestants, we rejoice in the relaxation of the penal laws against our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and that we conceive the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland." *
It is to be observed in passing, that this resolution as to the Catholics is simply retrospective. It rejoices in the relaxation of the penal laws which had already taken place, but by no means implies a desire for the removal of all the remaining Catholic disabilities. Within
a week Flood was laboring the distinction between rights of property and rights of power; and to the concession of these
* Mitchell, History of Ireland, vol. i. p. 138.
last the leaders of the volunteers were for long after opposed.
A few days after Grattan, in the Irish House of Commons, moved an address, declaring the independent legislative rights of Ireland. A postponement was carried by the Government, but the principle of the motion was strenuously upheld even by the most zealous of their supporters, and it was obvious that the motion itself could not be resisted. In the following month came the resignation of Lord North, and the accession to power of Rockingham, Shelburne, and Fox.
It was little use for the new Government to consider whether the concession of legislative independence was wise or It was impossible even to dwell on terms and conditions. Great Britain, in her then state of prostration, was unable to resist a demand put forward by an overwhelming majority of the Protestants of Ireland, and backed by the only organized force in the kingdom. Wise or unwise, the wishes of Ireland had to be complied with; and the merit which Fox and Shelburne can claim is, that they put a good face upon a necessity, and yielded with a good grace in a case where effective resistance was hopeless.
We often hear nowadays of the wisdom and beneficence of Grattan's Parliament; we sometimes hear sighs for its restoration. I have no wish to abuse it. If I had, I could find no bitterer language than that of patriot and Nationalist writers. The truth is, that it was an anomaly which could not be restored; and if it were restored, it would be as far as possible from satisfying the views of the Nationalists.
Grattan's Parliament was, during its whole existence, a purely Protestant Parliament. Till 1793 Roman Catholics had no vote in elections, and till the end of its existence no Roman Catholic could sit in it. It was composed almost exclusively of the English and the landed interest, and was in general wholly subservient to the Viceroy and his Executive. Neither was this a mere accident, which could have been remedied by Reform Bills, or have been altered by anything short of a complete alteration of the Constitution.
If the Parliament had not been sub
servient to the Executive, there would have been a deadlock. The Irish Par
liament was not supreme. It could not, like the Imperial Parliament, get rid of a Minister with whom it differed. The Irish Viceroy and the Irish Government did not depend on the confidence of the Dublin Parliament, but retained office during the pleasure of the Parliament at Westminster. The Irish Parliament was not even independent in legislation. Measures passed by the Irish Parliament had to be sent over to London to be confirmed by the British great seal, which was only affixed by the Crown on the advice of his British Ministers, supported by the British House of Commons.
Such a system was only workable on condition of the complete subordination of the one party to the other, of the legislature to the executive.
The history of the period is full of instances of this subordination, but the treatment of the Catholic question by the Irish House of Commons is perhaps the best example. In 1792, following their own instincts, they rejected, by an overwhelming majority, a petition for Catholic emancipation. In 1793, at the express bidding of Pitt and Dundas, they passed almost as large a measure with only three dissentients to the second reading.
In February 1795, when the feeling of the country was certainly not more liberal than in 1793, they were prepared at the bidding of Lord Fitzwilliam to vote for absolute Catholic equality. month later, on his departure, the same proposals were thrown out by a majority of a hundred. Obedience such as this was the only condition on which the clumsy system would work, and obedience such as this is hardly what modern Home Rulers desire. At the same time, the executive was hampered and weakened at every turn by having to secure the conformity of a nominally independent body, and the methods adopted for the purpose were not always such as would bear the light.
The friction between Westminster and the Castle, between the Castle and the Parliament House, was overpowering. The question of commercial relations with Ireland is an example of this. The matter had been left open in 1782, when