Orange Lodge Meeting.
THE U V F DISCUSSED
Lord Johnson sat in the drawing room smoking cigars with his father the Earl of Sperrin.
”I say, pater, have you seen this thing in the Irish Times. The Ulster Volunteer Force has finally been formed?” asked Lord Johnson.
”Yes, they have been talking about this since last year. Jolly good show. We’ll show the Molly Maguires what for!” said Lord Sperrin.
”But pater we must form a company here and you should take command of it.” said Lord Johnson.
”Dear boy – I was only a subaltern for a couple of years. Finished Sandhurst bottom of my class I am not military man.’‘ said Lord Sperrin self deprecatingly.
”But papa – you said you served out in Fiji.” said Lord John.
”Yes, I did” said Lord Sperrin ”but that was the easiest post in the empire. These resplendently verdant volcanic isles. No fairer islands in any sea! These lubricious brown skinned comely damsels and the friendliest natives you ever heard of. It was a loaf! Fiji offered allurements such as can scarcely be imagined. Low hanging fruit and all that. The natives were a lot of idlers. They never had any need to work. That is why we had to ship in boatloads of Hindustani coolies to work the plantations. Indentured labourers do you see? Awful business. ”
‘‘But all the same pater you have some military experience. You are the local peer. You are a mini king to the loyal people of the county. They look up to us for leadership. You were lord lieutenant of the county after all” said Lord Johnson.
”Yes, I was and high sheriff.’‘ said Lord Sperrin ”But my military experience does not exceed that of a long service sergeant.”
”We must fight Home Rule with all our strength. The situation is extremely dangerous – all the Home Rulers getting restive, then there are IRB talking treason so they say. There may yet be rebellion.” said Lord Johnson.
”Home Rulers are not all a bad lot. Some of them are full of civility and kindness. I have been glad to know a few take that physician – Mallon. A thoroughly decent chap.” said Lord Sperrin.
”He may be a decent sort pater but this may be war” said Lord Johnson. ”Personal affection will just have to be put aside. We all need to make sacrifices if Ulster is to be saved.”
”Now, now. You are hothead. The last thing I want is war. There will probably be no need for fighting. I would that we did not shed a the blood of another Irishman in all this. But because we want peace we may need to be ready for war. Forming a company of the UVF might not be a bad idea.” said Lord Sperrin.
”The Home Rulers are a rotten lot whatever you say” said Lord Johnson. ”We will show them who’s boss.”
”Listen boy – there are Home Rulers men, constitutional types. They are men of conservative character. Not Tories as such mind but they are no radicals. Separate the sheep from the goats. As for what you say about the IRB, the rebels, they are rats. They must be extirpated. But don’t forget your average Home Ruler is a man of moderate opinion. I can live with him. They may talk a lot of hot air at the Orange lodge telling you that every Home Ruler is in the IRB. That is twaddle! ” said Lord Sperrin.
”What are the papists complaining about? Why can’t they be normal? Why can’t they accept that we are with Great Britain?” asked Lord Johnson in exasperation and puzzlement.
”The IRB with all their surreptitious schemes – they are always blaming the English for everything. Scapegoating the English – now there are bad Englishmen. They IRB are full of much complaining. Your grandfather told me of the Famine, mother’s father that is. Not the Famine here but over in Mayo where he was a land agent. They people there reached the limits of their physical endurance. The cottier class there were Roman Catholics to a man. Their complaining was too well founded. They were starved with swollen limbs. There were hollow and ghastly countenances. This was all the melancholy presage of death – They were approaching their dissolution. All that is monstrous. The Famine blight was not a plot cooked up in London! Why would the English want a million of His Majesty’s subjects dead? Makes us all poorer and weaker. Damned corn laws exacerbated the situation. At least Peel got rid of it then. The government sent over aid. When the first Indian meal was distributed among the starving Mayomen your grandfather said there was an excess of joy such as is not possible for us to conceive. But it was too little and too late. Some ordinary English folk had been sending money and comestibles. You know Quakers and other Dissenters – those Free church types. Protestants saving Catholics but the Catholics did not thank them for it. Anyway this horrid famine is laid at the door of the English by the IRB. Then you have some of the Roman Catholic priesthood fiercely agitating the Catholic laity against us.” said Lord Sperrin.
”Great Britain is one of the richest nations on the face of the earth. Look at her manufactories and her technologies. Why would the Catholics not wanted to be united with so puissant a nation?’‘ said Lord Johnson.
”They think they are a different nation and being British makes them somehow not Irish. Some say you must be Protestant to be British. Where does that leave the Catholics here? Besides Britain is not as she was. Look at the rising power of America. She is the master of industry now. It is not days of yore when Britain girded the world in iron. Look at the might of Germany? She will soon outstrip America in technological sciences. Mark my words!” said Lord Sperrin.
‘‘it is scarcely credible that Germany will do that. ” said Lord Johnson ”They are poorly provided with oil and America practically floats on the stuff. Oil is the fuel of the future.”
”Nonsense boy. They taught you this tripe at Oxford? Those dons are ninnies. I am glad you came down without a degree. Oil will never overtake coal. Everyone know coal is the fuel of all time.” said Lord Sperrin. ”Coal is black gold!’
”The Americans are very go ahead. But I saw such poverty when I visited last year. New York is shining with commerce and yet there are people lying in the street closely to dying. Begging out of desperation. Relentless mammon worship means that the bosses will not pay a brass farthing more than they have to.” said Lord Johnson. ‘‘They could not take tuppence for the lives of their workers. It is unchristian!”
”They are not all like that. They are some big hearted Americans. They sent succor to the poor here.” said Lord Sperrin. ‘‘In Mayo during the famine some of the people would not have survived but for aid sent by the Americans. ”
”But mark you pater Germany will soon leave America in the ha’penny place.” said Lord Johnson.
”You might be right. All depends if the conquer France and Russia. Then Germany shall unite their industrial strength to herself. ” said Lord Sperrin.
”A European war? That might make America gain by neutrality.” said Lord Johnson
‘‘It might make us gain by neutrality. If we stay out of it we shall prosper.” said Lord Sperrin.
”The IRB, the Fenians they shall try to get us into a German War. I have heard they say England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity. They rose when there was the Napoleonic Wars on. They wanted a war against France when Napoleon III was around. Now they see Germany as Britain’s next foe’‘ said Lord Johnson.
”That is drivel boy. You’re being a spalpeen. There shall be not war against Germany. The Prussians and Frogs may knock seven bells out of each other. But happily Ireland and England shall stand aloof. Who owns Alsace-Lorraine? What the hell do we care? Might as well be Timbuctoo. I know that the Fenians would ally with the ant-Christ if they thought it would hurt England. But Asquith will not be so stupid to oblige them. Besides the Jerries are not a rum lot. They are very go ahead. Don’t we all love German opera and poesy? Their science is so impressive. Isn’t Queen Mary a German? And remember Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s mother. The royal family practically are Germans – Saxe Coburg Gotha. They open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Blood is thicker than water! The French covet our empire. We have much more in common with the Germans than the Gauls. The Teuton is our kith and kin. We shall not raise the sword against our kinsfolk. The king is honorary colonel of so many German regiments. The Kaiser is an honorary admiral in the royal navy. I read how he visited Eton last year – very well received. When he came over for King Edward’s funeral a couple of years ago he seemed like a nice chap so they say. And our people are going to Germany all the time. I read in the paper that Churchill was invited to observe German military manouevres lately. They would not do that if they had something nasty planned. And as for the Naval Race – we won that hands down. That Admiral von Tirpitz is no longer at the helm – crazy sea dog. A war against Germany? Never, ever. You must be drinking too much boy. I shall not hear such rot in my own house.”
”Lord Salisbury said splendid isolation. That is living in the past. We have to ally with the French and the Russkies.” said Lord Johnson.
”You are talking through your hat. There will be no European war – not that we involved in at any rate. The Germans never did us a bit of harm.” said Lord Sperrin.
‘‘And South Africa? Germans did us no bit of good there. The Kaiser saying we are mad as March hares. The Germans killed a quarter of a million negroes in South-West Africa. Slaughtered the lot of them – men, women and children. The rest they drove them into the desert to die of thirst.” said Lord Johnson gravely. ”German is a threat.”
”Threat my foot!” said Lord Sperrin. ”Only threat is all this twaddle from you about fighting our German friends. Germany is the industrial powerhouse. Germany is the workshop of the world not us. If we fought Germany I fear we would come off second best. I am glad we won’t. Anyway back to the point. I don’t think I should be head of the local UVF. We are not born to rule you know! People respect the peerage and the knightage but that does not mean we all have leadership qualities particularly of a military character.” said Lord Sperrin
Orange Lodge Meeting.
At the meeting in the Orange Hall the Worshipful Master Lord Johnson who was attired in an exquisitely cut Savile Row suit and sporting his Orange Collarette got to his feet. He spoke in his fruity tenor’s voice.
”Brethren, the meeting of this loyal Orange lodge shall come to order. We all wish success to the loyal orange institution. Brethren we have received a telegram from Dublin, The Grand Lodge of Ireland has a message for us which Brother Thomas Forshaw shall read out.”
Thomas then moved to the front. He held the telegram in his hands that were almost trembling. He gulped before beginning to speak, ‘‘ Dear loyal Orange brethren -you shall be aware that His Majesty’s Government is planning to bring forth Home Rule legislation.”
Thomas gathered confidence as he became absorbed in the text.
”We would that Home Rule could be prevented for the whole of Ireland. It seems improbable that the southern provinces can be saved from the threat of Home Rule. In the south and west of the country nine parts out of ten of the populace are Roman Catholic and pro Home Rule. In Ulster, however, Home Rule can easily be forfended. If we stand resolute and take apposite and timely action Home Rule can be defeated. We recommend to you the new militia known as the Ulster Volunteer Force or UVF. It is most strongly pledged to the same principles as the Orange Order and other fraternal loyal orders viz the maintenance of the Crown being Protestant and the Union. Make no mistake that Home Rule is not mere Home Rule. It shall lead inexorably to a republic. It cannot fail to dissolve the union and dethrone the monarch. It represents a mortal peril to our liberties, our prosperity, our faith and our way of life. The Home Rulers are purposing to assail our indefeasible rights. We urge you all to consider enlisting in the UVF. If it is threated that Ulster shall remain a fully fledged portion of the United Kingdom then the Home Rule party may yet abandon the object of Home Rule for the rest of Ireland. God Save the King. ‘‘
”God Save the King” a few muttered.
Thomas sat down. His anxiety returned.
Lord Johnson got to his feet. ”Well done brother Forshaw. Jolly good show. I could tell he was a touch nervous. Well played for reading that out. Now brethren we must all act manfully. My father and I are thinking of forming a company of UVF here. We can easily find at least 90 recruits surely – my house shall be the HQ. My father has spoken to some of the groundsmen and suchlike. We have a preferential hiring policy for ex-servicemen so we have plenty of ex-soldiers and ex-sailors. Several of those in our service have expressed an interest in joining including a Roman Catholic.”
”A Romanist?” said Conroy ‘‘Never, I would never allow a Catholic in. You cannot trust a papist. They suck the devil’s teets. If there is taig in it I am not joining.”
‘‘Now steady on” said Lord Johnson. ”Kenny is as a good a man as any. Bernardine Kenny was almost like an uncle to me if he had not been working class. He is a Roman Catholic and only a knave would hold that agin him. Now look here – just because of his religion does not mean he wants Home Rule. This man served ten years in the King’s Irish Hussars which is more than you or I ever did. Were you in the army?”
”No I was not” said Conroy crumpling temporarily. ”But I know that papists are rotten every last one of them. They may seem all right but they are meretricious. They pretend to be good but all the while they are scheming to betray you.”
Mark Walker piped up, ‘‘I am a deacon of the Church of Ireland and I say it is unchristian not to let a man join an organization because he is a Roman Catholic.”
”Are you proper Protestants at all?” asked Conroy indignantly ‘‘You are half way to Rome. Only Presbyterians and Methodists are real Prods.”
Lord Johnson intervened ‘‘ Well Brother Conroy if that is your attitude there is no need for you to volunteer for the UVF.”
”Tell my lord” said Mark ”I am a bit concerned. This UVF thing how far does it go. Parliament passes a home rule act.”
”That can never happen” said Conroy.
‘‘It can. God forbid but it might happen.” said Mark
”The House of Lords will never dream of it” said Conroy.
”Haven’t you heard of the Parliament Act? Don’t you remember the People’s Budget? The Lords can only delay by two years now. Our protection in the lords is gone. The Liberals and the Home Rulers control the Commons. They can ram it through. Like it or not if they pass home rule it is the law” said Mark ”Is it not our duty to obey the law?”
”Yes it is but not this law’‘ said Lord Johnson
”Why ever not? Why is this one different?” asked Mark
‘‘This is a law to destroy us. All our forefathers fought for is in jeopardy.” said Lord Johnson.
”How? I know we do not want Home Rule but we will still be in the United Kingdom” said Mark
;”but it will lead to a total breaking of the Union to a republic which will ally with France or Germany and before you know it there will be French or German troops here and they will make Roman Catholicism the state religion. They will take back the church buildings, they will confiscate land, they will ban the Orange Order, they might make us speak Irish, our culture will be dead , they will put tariffs on imports and so Great Britain will put tariffs on our manufactures and then goodbye to our ship building and linen trade.” said Lord Johnson.
”Now come off it” said Mark ”That is just scare mongering. The Home Rule party does not want a republic. They never said that. They do not want to break the union. Parnell directly said no to breaking it. This is not 1798. 1798 was a Protestant rebellion anyway. Even if a republic did come by act of parliament that would be the law and we would have a duty to obey”
”You are sounding like a Home Ruler. Are you fool enough to believe those Home Rule mountebanks?” asked Conroy. ‘‘You rotten Prod”
”I am not a rotten Prod. I am as good a Protestant as the next man. I am a deacon for goodness sake” said Mark
”Don’t you deacon me. You putting on airs and graces!” said Conroy bitterly.
”Gentlemen – brethren please some decorum” said Lord Johnson ‘‘we are all Protestants here. do not cast aspersions on a man’s religion”
”I do not want a republic – not one bit. But you are scare mongering. It would not be as bad as all that. As for tariffs the Home Rulers are free traders. They shout that from the rooftops.” said Mark.
‘‘I hate papists. My sister Mavis was mugged by Catholics in Dublin” said Conroy. ”I hate their irreligion and their Jesuitical methods!”
”Well I am sorry for your sister but how do you know they were Catholics.” said Mark.
”I know. I just do” Conroy shrieked.
‘They may have been Catholic but how do you know.” said Mark.
‘‘I just do” Conroy ranted ”all Roman Catholics are evil’‘ He bared his teeth and then looked sour.
”Come on. Protestants must have done you a bad turn. Does not mean we are all bad. It is nonsense. Sheer illogic. Anyway back to the law. UVF proposes to fight Home Rule. They mean literally fight. I am not sure I can be a party to that.’‘ said Mark.
Lord Johnson chipped in. ‘‘I am afraid that brother Walker is right. We have to draw up contingency plans. That is the whole purpose of the UVF. There is a slim chance a Home Rule Act might be passed that does not exclude Ulster. What do we do then? That is why the UVF is there to defend Ulster from Home Rule were such an act of parliament to be passed.”
Thomas spoke ‘‘we should fight then. Fight whomsoever would impose Home Rule on us.”
‘‘This is where I part company” said Mark ‘‘we all oppose the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They have rebelled. That is against the law. We cannot very well rebel ourselves. That would be the height of hypocrisy.”
”We would be fighting for the Crown though” said Lord Johnson.
”But that is just it. The Crown is in Parliament. The king signs all acts. As soon as the words are said in parliament le roi le veult then it is law. Us rebelling would be worse than the IRB rebelling. We always proclaim our constitutional characters. We are always swearing loyalty and fealty to His Majesty. We cannot rebel just because we dislike a law. It would be a sin.” said Mark
”It is no sin to defend Protestantism” said Conroy
”I preach Protestantism every day’‘ said Mark. ”The Home Rulers never said they would take away our religion.”
”They will though. They are secretly controlled by the Vatican” said Conroy.
”That is plain silly. They won’t / There are Protestant Home Rulers” said Mark
‘‘I think you are one of them” Conroy yelled – he was quivering with rage.
”I am not” Mark shot back
”Brethren. maybe not the Home Rulers will take away our faith. It might be the IRB a clandestine organization/” said Lord Johnson
‘‘They had protestants in their ranks too” said Mark
”Not any more. sTOP speaking up for rebels’‘ said Lord Johnson.
”If Home Rule is signed by the king and we resist it would be his soldiers and police the UVF would fight. I will not be a party to that” said Mark.
”That is it the king will never sign the act” Lord Johnson felt he had had a brainwave.
”Every monarch since Queen Anne has signed every act no matter how they hate it. George III hated the India Act and still signed it.’‘ said Mark. ”He will sign it. We have no divine right of kings anymore. What was the Civil War all about? What was 1688 all about?”
”They were about Protestantism” said Lord Johnson. The other cheered
”They were not” said Mark ”Charles I was a Protestant. They were about the supremacy of Parliament. I will not rebel against my king. The law is the law. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. I shall campaign against Home but not fight”.
”I shall fight the papists. Home Rule is Rome Rule and don’t forget it!” said Conroy.
”You hate the toffs don’t you?” asked Mark.
”I do. Toffs always hobnobbing with the papishes saying we are to be nice to them. The aristos are rotten Prods. Some of them are secretly Romanists. Their sons going on tour to Rome. They would sell us out to keep their property!” said Conroy.
”You know who said that Home Rule is Rome Rule?” asked Mark.
”No. ” said Conroy, ”who said it?”
‘‘The Duke of Abercorn.” said Mark smugly.
Conroy’s face fell as the room erupted in laughter. ‘‘I did not say the aristos were bad. Not all of them are rotten.”
”Why do you hate Catholics so much?’‘ asked Mark ”They are people too. Their blood is as red as ours.”
”Blood is not red. Blood is either orange or green!’‘ screamed Conroy. The others were taken aback by his invective. ‘‘I would like to take a gun and shoot all them Romanheads! They are two legged beasts! They are vermin.”
Mark opened his mouth to rebuke Conroy. Conroy cut him off with aplomb before Mark could utter a sound ‘‘And don’t you tell me that not all Roman Catholics are bad. They are Fenians fiends every last damn one of them!”
”Pater always taught me that my blood is blue” Lord Johnson feebly attempted to lighten the mood.
‘‘But would you fight against the king?” asked Mark
Conroy quaked with fury. ‘‘We are Prods and British. We will fight anyone to stay British – even the British. Yes, I would fight against the king. If he would betray us. The King took an oath to defend Protestantism. If he wants to sacrifice us to the pope we can push him off. We did it before and we can do it again. I would take guns from the Kaiser. He is a prince of Protestantism. If the King would force Home Rule down our throats I would kick the crown, orb and scepter into the sea!”
Conroy them stormed out in a towering rage.
”Loyal brethren. There you have it. You may be joining the Ulster Volunteer Force but I shall not.” said Mark.
Lord Johnson chipped in. ‘‘You know that we would not really be rebelling against the Crown. The king only acts on the advice of his ministers. If his minister advise him evilly then he must be rid of those who would lead him astray. We can say ‘damn the government and God Save the King!’ ”
”Yes, that is what the Catholics said in 1641” said Mark.
‘‘We do not want a history lesson” said Lord Johnson
”When it comes to whether it is right to rebel then history is rather important.” said Mark.
Lord Johnson pretended not to have heard. ”Let the last entrenchment of liberty be our grave!”
”Hear, hear” they chorused and banged on their desks.
In a barn outside the two the IRB foregathered.
‘‘Well brethren here we are” said twenty-five year old Henry Noble. Henry was a slim man just below middle height and had thick dark blond hair. His aquiline nose and thin lips hinted at a choleric and melancholic character. ”The time is coming to drive those English out – to drive those Protestants out!”
”Excuse me” said Liam Mee. This twenty year old was well above average height and well built. His dense dark brown hair surmounted a face that was distinguished but for an overly large nose. He had sparkling blue eyes that radiated intelligence. ”Excuse me – but we are not against Protestants. Protestants can be in our organization too.”
”The Prods are against us and if you cannot see that you are blind” said Henry irascibly. ”Now stop interrupting!”
”Liam” said John Orr. ”Just shut up will you! Prods are bad. We are going to push the Orange bastards into the sea. They are English!” John was over six foot in height – he had sable hair and small grey eyes. His face was strikingly handsome though his lips were thick and his ears were large. He was lean and energetic.
Henry felt like protesting but was glowered down.
‘‘Now fellas – the Prods are forming their own army. UVF they called it. It is high time we formed ours. Here we are – Irish Republican Brotherhood. But there are not enough of us and we have not enough arms. We need to fight those English scum. You see the harm they done? Their cruelties in South Africa? They took the side of black slaves against the Dutch – disgusting! Who would back a nigger against a white man? Only an Englishman would be so evil. We fight for the Catholic cause. Germany is on our side! We have suffered so many injustices.” said Henry.
”I am a Catholic!” said Gerard Mary Burke. Gerard was a tiny though portly man. His black hair was a little curly and his blue eyes spoke of dimness. He had a sallow complexion and was clearly simpleton. ”That is why I am Irish. I am Catholic. That is Irish. Prods ain’t Irish though. They is English.”
”Quite right” said Henry ” I have not a drop of English blood in my vains. We shall fight and win. We hate them. It is in my bones.”
Liam piped up ‘‘This is an issue of national independence. We have a separate identity and we can build a better future for Ireland – free form exploitation. What is in England’s interest is not necessarily in our interest. But to say we have no English stock – come on. That is plainly not so – it is ludicrous. This is not about some specious notion of unalloyed ethnicity…”
”Put a sock in it will you” said John ”we do not want to hear a raimeis from you. We are Irish. You Irish or not?’‘ he asked intolerantly.
‘‘I am Irish” said Liam meekly.
Henry continued ”there is talk of setting up our own volunteers. Not a secret organization like we have now but an open body. Irish Volunteers. A sort of Catholic version of the UVF.” He cleared his throat and continued, ” The priests will like it. As you know the hierarchy do not like the IRB. But if we have an Irish Volunteer Army then the clergy may bless our arms. Then we can free Catholic Ireland and bring back the faith of Patrick. No more English landlords and rent and alcoholism and all the horrors they have visited on us” he said with smouldering passion.
”Hear hear” they cried.
John fixed Liam with a death stare ”and we will have no more of your cleverality. Smart alec! Pontificating like a professor.”
Henry continued, ”Take back the holy places. St Patrick’s Cathedral in Downpatrick – that is our. St Patrick’s in Armagh – that is ours. The Prods and their alien ministers can get out of it. It is true we had Prods in our organization. That is why we never had a successful rising. We will not make that mistake no more. There is talk of forming our own army – openly like.”
”I heard there is some teacher fella – O’Neill or something. He it talking about founding an army. And John Redmond wants in on it. I do not trust those Home Rulers. MPs like. They are going to London hobnobbing with the English. Gone native. Start to think and talk like the English. ” said John.
It was a fine late spring afternoon when Lord Johnson stood on a wooden dais outside his stately home in a military uniform and watched his little platoon parade by. The band of the Orange lodge played The Sash as the Ulster Volunteer Force marched and countermarched inexpertly. The UVF men had no uniforms but wore their Sunday best with boots all spit polished. They had no rifles and carried broomsticks instead. After a few minutes of drill with a sergeant barking out orders they were finally told to halt.
”Stand at …. ease!” shouted the wax whiskered sergeant.
”Well men” said Lord Johnson reading a list of names, ”Wilson, Richmond, Scarborough, Baker, Mackenzie, Yorke, Dunbar, Wiltshire, Daventry, Willshire, Squires, Wright, Wayne, Lee, Huyton, Cornwell, Townend, Richards, King, Trafford, North, Farmer, Fox, Cambridge, Redding, Kent, Porter, Rider, Earl and Kenny. So good to see you all here. You did a fine job on parade men. Some of you are old soldiers or sailors so your drill is excellent. Some of you are new to drill. So your drill is not as it should be. Never mind all that for the minute. You shall improve with time. You are keen. You are men of spirit. Sworn to defend Protestantism. ” he paused and cleared his throat ”Sorry Kenny. Sworn to defend Christianity. I am delighted to be your lieutenant. I served in the OTC at Eton for a few years. I know fine soldiers when I see them. Now men, some of you are Orange brethren I am very pleased to say. Others of you are not but it is an organization that I most heartily recommend. Now chaps, the good news is that we shall be getting rifles soon. Soon? I hear you ask. I cannot tell you exactly when. I wish I could. But it has got to be hush hush – the exact date that it. Until then we shall have a few splendid drill days. Oh to be in England now that April’s there!” he stopped and turned to the sergeant who was wincing. ”Now sergeant dismiss the men”
The sergeant had difficulty containing his discomfiture. The men had been almost groaning at Lord Johnson’s effete and inapposite speech. The ‘oh to be in England’ quotation had almost made a few laugh.
The sergeant composed himself and delivered the order in a stentorian voice.
The UVF platoon was shown into servants’ quarters and treated to hearty fare.
Lord Johnson retired to his own dining room for luncheon. His father came and dined with him.
”Now my boy” said the Earl of Sperrin, ”I heard your little pep talk to the men. Do you have any idea how to speak to hoi pello?”
”Well of course I do I give orders to the servants all the time. ” said Lord Johnson
”No, I mean a long speech. The servants are used to our ways. But most of the lower orders are not used to our way of speaking. You have got to speak to them about things they understand. Keep it short. Some simple ideas. Protestantism was right. But it has got to be the king, the country, family and jobs. Not so much poetry for heaven’s sake” said Lord Sperrin
‘‘Oh I am sorry pater. I shall remember that. We have a bit of a route march to Ginkel’s after this. Next Saturday it will be to Inwood. ‘‘ said Lord Johnson.
”Jolly good show. Perhaps have a church parade if you can get a clergyman to agree. Not sure they are staunch enough though. I have to admit I do have mixed feelings about this UVF business. If we have this won’t the Home Rulers have their own little army?” said Lord Sperrin
”But papa = they already do. Are you ignoring the IRB? Bunch of cutthroats and desperadoes. Like any class of Mexican bandits.” said Lord Johnson
”No that is the republicans. I said Home Rulers. Your average Catholic is a Home Ruler not a republican. We might be driving most Catholics to militancy. What you reap is what you sow, mind.” said Lord Sperrin.
”Oh aren’t they all the same?” said Lord Johnson
”No dear boy they are not. Home Rulers are decent sorts mostly. Some of our Catholic servants are Home Rulers. But I would never trust a republican. The IRB secretly run the GAA/” said Lord Sperrin
‘Gaelic Athletic Association? But that is just about Gaelic football and hurling and the like’‘ said Lord Johnson
”It is on the service but underneath all that they have something else. Ulterior agenda – revolutionists that is what they are. That is why no man who has been in the army, navy or police can join it” said Lord Sperrin.
”I never knew that” said Lord Johnson
”Your grandfather used to play hurling as a boy in Mayo. But about 30 years ago GAA was set up. Partly for sport yes but as an IRB front. A blind for IRB meetings. Such a bunch of bigots you never met. They won’t let their members play what they call garrison sports – footer and the like. No English dancing either – whatever English dancing is.” said Lord Sperrin. ”I won’t have a man who is in the GAA about here. Your average Roman Catholic is a good egg. But as for the GAA – I don’t trust them.”
Visit to a UVF man’s house
Lord Johnson wore a black mourning suit went by dog cart to Richmond’s house. ”MacPherson stop here” Lord Johnson ordered his driver.
MacPherson got off the front of the cart and ran around to open the door for Lord Johnson. The lord stepped out of the cart slowly. He grimaced as he looked at the moist grime in the road. As his foot touched the ground some mud splattered his trousers.
”Damn” exclaimed Lord Johnson ”Bloody muck!” He noticed MacPherson wince.
”Oh MacPherson you are one of those God botherers. You don’t like my salty language? Well to hell with you MacPherson. I speak as I please. Don’t look at me impudently”
”Yes your lordship ” said MacPherson subsmissively – he lowered his gaze.
Lord Johnson took a few steps towards the door of a ramshackle stone cabin. He rapped loudly on the bockety wooden door which was almost falling off the rusted hinges.
A gaunt woman looking forty years of age opened it slowly. She was drawn and her mid brown hair was streaked with grey and was worn back. ”yes” she hissed feebly.
”You must be Mrs Richmond” said Lord Johnson . He lifted his hat to her. ”I am Lord Johnson” he said proudly. ”Forgive me but I heard that you had been bereaved and I thought it only meet as officer commanding the UVF to call upon Richmond and commiserate with you over the death of your daughter.”
”That is good of you” said Mrs Richmond brightening just slightly. He noticed how jaded the woman looked. ”Would you like to come in?” she asked
”Yes, yes, I would. WHy not?” said Lord Johnson almost jovially.
In he stepped. He saw half a dozen haggard children dressed in ragged clothes. Each seemed to suffer from a different defect. The cadaverous children had leathery skin and irriatated skin – seeping sores and rashes. One of the feeble children seemed to have a belly that was almost distended. One of the little boy was almost as wrinkled and withered as his mother. Lord Johnson was filled with horror and could not help feel the deepest contempt for the children. He could deduce their ages roughly from their faces but noticed that phsyiques were not what they should be for their ages. One had the yellowish-white tinge of parchment. There was a child some way past toddlerhood whose sex he could not determine. They were listless though not slothful. They looked at him inquiringly but said nothing. Two of them were crouched on a pile of filthy straw.
The haggard mother said ”Will you have tea my lord?”
”yes, yes I will.” he sat at an ancient table. There was only one chair in the room. The only adornment on the wall was a portrait of Queen Victoria. He thought to himself that she died 13 years ago. But they do not have the money to buy a newer portrait.
The big wild eyes of the emaciated children still surveyed him. They were disheveled and their hair was lanky and greasy – as though matted for months. It was as though they had not had sufficient nourishment to allow them to speak. Their pinched faces hardly expressed an emotion. They had long spindly limbs and were caked in filth. An infant got near its mother and the mother lifted the baby up which clung to her. This child was wasting away. The others in the corner huddled together for warmth though it was not a cold day. They looked faintly frightened of them as though he were a predator. They started scratching each other. At least that was some activity he thought. Lord Johnson wondered if he was too haughty towards them.
‘What a spectacle’ Lord Johnson heard himself say. He wondered if these half starved children would like to eat him. Would they fall on him ferociously? Or had they the energy? They were angular and bony – with their sallow complexions they seemed like a different race. He could hardly believe it. Were they natural idiots? Or had privation reduced them to this. He was repulsed by them but then felt a certain empathy for them.
Just then Mrs Richmond handed him a cup of tea in a cracked cup as old as herself.
”Ah thank you Mrs Richmond” he took it and sipped from it. She stood in front of him with a deferential and resigned look on her face. ”Is your husband here?” he asked. He saw there was a door into another room. That was the only other room in the house he deduced.
”No, my lord. He was offered a day’s work on a farm and he could not say no” said Mrs Richmond
”Ah I see. But the funeral’s tomorrow.” said the lord
”Yes, Lily’s funeral is tomorrow. But even a pauper’s funeral is ten pounds. And we desperately need the money.” said the woman
”Right. Well. An awful business this – a child dying.” said Lord Johnson
”Whooping cough my lord.” she swallowed hard, ” It was whooping cough. A son of ours died a few years ago of the same. If only we could afford a doctor.” said the woman.
”My word. Terrible. I believe outside an Orange lodge I have never had a conversation with a member of the lower orders. Goodness me!” said the lord
”Yes, m’lord. I have never spoken to a lord before” said the woman.
Lord Johnson realized that explained why the woman looked almost scared to speak to him – unsure of what to say.
”Well trust in God. I am sure reading the Bible will lift your spirits. To know that Jesus has called your daughter to his mercy.” said the lord
”wE don’t have a Bible. They are too expensive. We get our Bible teaching from the Gospel hall.” said Mrs Richmond
”Ah I see. Well you are just the sort of people who would go to Pastor Savage” said the lord ”can’t say I approve. Might prefer you be Catholics than go to Savage. Well it is your choice – religious liberty and all that”
The woman smarted but said nothing.
He finished his tea pensively and stood up. ”Madam – once again. I offer you my deepest sympathy. I hold your husband in high regard. He is a fine contribution to the UVF. In good condition for a man of 40!”
”No my lord. He is 30.” said the woman
”30?” said Lord Johnson
”Yes, my lord 30. Same age as myself.” said the woman.
Then he realized she was prematurely aged. He was taken aback that the woman had revealed her own age – especially in front of the children.
He stood up and delved into his pocket. He then proffered a bank note. ”Please Mrs Richmond do me the honour of accepting this. Five pounds towards the funeral expenses it is the least we can do.”
‘My lord do not insult us by offering us money. Do not insult us by telling us not to worship at the Gospel Hall. We are as good Protestants as you.” she said sounding surprisingly exercised. She stood there struggling to contain her ire.
He stood speechless for a moment before putting the money back. ”Very well as you wish” he said. He was affronted. With that he stalked out of the house.
On the way back he said ‘MacPherson I have never been into a worker’s house before. Ghastly place. Now I see what those socialist johnnies at Oxford were on about.”