Imatges de pÓgina

the Union Defence League, founded by Mr. Walter Long at the beginning of 1907 and supported by many silent members throughout the country, has exerted every possible effort to lay the whole case for a Unionist Ireland before the electors, yet the Unionist organisations—from the highest to the lowest—have failed to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them of enlightening British Constituencies on the turbulent condition of that country. One can hardly blame the electorate, which is in danger of being overwhelmed by the flood of subjects--fiscal, social, and constitutional—that have to be seriously discussed at the present time. But I, for one, feel that it will be for the Unionist party a grave dereliction of duty if the problem of Ireland, which gave the name of Unionist to our party, is to go by the board for sheer lack of that intellectual elasticity which would permit it to be discussed together with other subjects of Imperial moment. Firmly do I believe that, when Home Rule is brought as a concrete proposition before our electorate, there will be no more toleration of the idea of Separation than there was in 1886 or 1893 ; but I, therefore, regret the more that, in the interim, we do not bestir ourselves on behalf of those Irishmen who are now being persecuted and ruined under the eyes of his Majesty's Government.

A firm and consecutive policy, independent of party, has saved India and has established Egypt; the same must be found for Ireland. Let it once be admitted by all parties in Great Britain and then communicated to Ireland that, in the words of Mr. Lloyd-George,

Separation is unthinkable, and that Colonial Self-Government is a geographically hopeless proposition, and the cornerstone of Irish prosperity will have been well and truly laid. Thousands of poor Irishmen, mostly of the farming class, will bless the country that emancipates them from the thraldom of a League which takes their money and gives them no return for it. Countless members of the priesthood, who know that by participating in a political conflict they are contravening the orders of the Holy See, will offer their gratitude to those who unite to condemn a policy into which they have been ensnared without a chance of escape. Small tradesmen and professional men will not be behindhand with their thanks, for their businesses are being ruined by the insensate policy of boycotting customers who happen to be obnoxious to the omnipotent League.

This way lies redemption and hope and prosperity. If, within the next six months, law and order were to be re-established ; and if, thereafter, it could be stated officially by the predominant partner that no amount of violence or agitation in Ireland would bring the Nonconformists of the United Kingdom nearer to Rome Rule, nor the lovers of a United Empire closer to Home Rule, I feel confident that tie warring sections of Irish agitators would soon be brought to their knees by the poor population of Ireland, who are hungering first of all for material prosperity. Confidence would be restored ; money in mil

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

lions would be invested in that country, which is capable of enormous potentialities in the way of industrial development; the peasant would be prosperous though the agitating politician starved; Ireland governed by sense instead of being swayed by sentiment-would take the place for which she was intended by nature, and would become a working partner in the British Empire which is, after all, the greatest civilising and commercial concern that the world has ever known, whilst we in Great Britain would be relieved from the reproach of keeping in duress within our house the lovely bride whom we have wedded but have never won.'


P.S.—Mr. Ginnell, M.P., no longer rampages; he has been convicted of contempt of court for inciting to cattle-driving and boy. cotting on an estate administered by the Chancery Division of the Land Judges Court. For this offence he was sentenced by Mr. Justice Ross, on the 20th of December, to six months' imprisonment; not by desire of the present Attorney-General for Ireland, but at the instance of the Receiver of the estate.


TRAVELLERS going south by sea from these shores, when they have left the unquiet waters of the Bay of Biscay behind them and get their first sight of the Peninsular mountains on the steamer's port bow, must often have asked themselves, How has it come to be that, in this huge Iberian Peninsula, one little slice of territory, facing the western sea, has remained independent throughout the ages, when so many other and seemingly more powerful principalities have tottered and gone to the ground ? Is the country too mountainous and inaccessible to permit invasion and conquest, like Wales, or our British Highlands ? Or is there some peculiar virtue or quality in the inhabitants of this corner of the land that has served to keep it free and untainted by the foot of the conqueror ? Or, again, has some one great man stood forth in the hour of his country's need, repelled the invader and left lasting traditions of freedom and independence, never afterwards to be forgotten? Nearly all these questions can be answered in the affirmative, and Portugal owes her existence to this day as a nation not to any one of the circumstances here suggested but to all of them conjointly.

The territory of Portugal is in point of fact a huge fortress whose enceinte is constituted by ranges of mountains in the north and in the east, and by the sea on its western and southern frontiers; but no fortress is safe from attack and capture unless the garrison is adequate, and the Portuguese have shown themselves at all times of their history, from the first forlorn hope of their uprising, under Sertorius, against the Romans, a people apt for freedom and strong and stout in opposing foreign domination.

The country is indeed hard of access, but not inaccessible, as bas been proved in every age of its history, and, compared to almost any part of Spain, its fertility, the amenity of its climate, and the richness of its soil have invited invasion. There is nothing in Portugal resembling the vast, arid, sunburnt, central tableland which constitutes nine-tenths of the neighbouring country. The whole kingdom, sloping from the frontier mountains to the sea, forms a succession of fertile valleys interspersed with rich alluvial plains, watered by innumerable rivers, streams, brooks, rivulets, and water-springs; the air, tempered by breezes from the sea and mountains and made agreeable by wood and stream, is far more genial than that of the great Spanish tableland. It is a region that has been coveted by the dwellers on the barren "Iberian uplands in an age when agricultural wealth was nearly the only wealth. In the early days of savagedom this region was eagerly colonised by Rome, and, later on, seized and settled on by Gothic tribes from the North, and, after that, appropriated by the Mahometan Moors. It was against these latter, and against the several nations of Spain that were beginning to rise to power against the yoke of Islam, that the first effectual struggle for freedom was made by the inhabitants of Portugal, a struggle that ended in the constitution of the nation which is now modern Portugal.

It might have seemed at first a hopeless struggle against overwhelming and impossible odds, and that the issue of independence could only be reached by a miracle. When seeming miracles come to pass in human affairs they generally happen by the action of some heroic personage who is also a man of genius. So it was with Portugal, and her hero, a greater one by far than the nearly contemporary Cid, El Campeador, in Spain, was the conqueror, Affonzo Henriquez. The deeds of this Portuguese Warrior King are authentically recorded in the dry chronicles of three nationalities, and in geographical and historic events whose effects and consequences subsist to our day. The actions of the Spanish champion, a condottiere captain who fought for his own hand mainly, now with, now against the infidels, were internationally as fruitless as the victories in the Trojan war. They have left no trace in history, they are suspected indeed to be partly mythical, but the memory of them lives, and will live always, for they are recorded in one of the great epics of the world. On the other hand, We can only painfully pick out the greater epic of which Affonzo Henriquez is the hero from the dry annals of contemporary chroniclers.

Portugal has had two great epochs during which the doings of its people were of international importance and have left their mark enduringly on the history of the world. The first, the long fight for freedom under King Affonzo Henriquez, nearly synchronised with the second and unsuccessful crusade and was indeed itself a crusade, for the Portuguese king and his people were fighting the battle of Christian Europe for the Cross as strenuously and as effectively, in Lusitania, as Godfrey de Bouillon and Richard Cour de Lion fought for it in Syria. The news had come to northern Europe that a champion of the Faith was holding his own against the Crescent in Portugal; and when the king resolved to attack and besiege the central Moorish stronghold at Lisbon, he obtained the help of a large body of crusaders from North Germany and the Low Countries who sailed for the East from the mouths of the Rhine and put in at Dartmouth. Here they were joined by a numerous English contingent. At the Portuguese king's invitation they sailed for the mouth of the River Douro and landed at Oporto. Thence they marched southwards under the Portuguese banners to the mouth of the Tagus, and with the Portuguese army laid siege to Lisbon.

[ocr errors]

The siege was prolonged. It represented the final collision in Portugal of the forces of Cross and Crescent. The Cross prevailed in the end and Islam fell, and with it the Moslem power in Portugal north of the mountain range which separated Portugal from the kingdom of Algarve in the south. The conqueror spared the citizens of Lisbon. The religious fanaticism and intolerance that have marked later periods of Iberian history were then unknown, and the great Moorish city continued its prosperous existence under equal laws imposed by its conqueror. Evidence of the humane tolerance of the Portuguese is clear to this day to anyone who passes from any northern city of the kingdom to Lisbon. The type of the Lisbon crowds is still that of the dark Moorish race who dwell in Tangiers and Fez.

Affonzo Henriquez, king, patriot, conqueror and legislator, the real maker of Portugal, was succeeded during the first century of Portuguese history by monarchs who followed in his footsteps and maintained his great traditions. This is the first and most glorious period in the history of Portugal, but there has been a second memorable epoch in which Portugal has stood forth prominent among the nations and done more than her share to advance the civilisation of the world.

King Pedro, surnamed the Severe, the protagonist in the tragedy of Donna Inez de Castro -- the strangest and most romantic episode in the history of the Peninsula-left as his successor his son Ferdinand, who was crowned in 1367. Ferdinand, as romantic and as turbulent and as ambitious as his father, was a man of weaker fibre. He broke faith with the King of Arragon, whose daughter he had engaged to marry, and falling in love with the beautiful Donna Leonora Telles, daughter of a provincial gentleman, eventually married her. The king had at this time laid claim to the throne of Castile and signed a treaty of alliance with Edward the Third of England. Eventually an English contingent landed in Portugal, but King Ferdinand, under the influence of Donna Leonora, deserted the English by whom the country was ravaged. King Ferdinand died, and his widow, who had been an unfaithful wife, assumed the regency and tyrannised over the country with the help of her lover. She had intrigued with Castile, and it was arranged that the King of Castile should marry Beatrice, the late king's daughter, and that Leonora should be regent of Portugal till Beatrice's eldest son should come of age.

The tyranny of the low-born regent was oppressive and hateful to the Portuguese people of all classes till a deliverer was found in Dom John, Grand Master of the Knights of Avis, an illegitimate son of Pedro the Severe, and therefore a half-brother of the late King Ferdinand. A successful insurrection broke out in Lisbon, headed by Dom John. Leonora fled to the provinces and besought aid from the King of Castile. Dom John was declared defender of Portugal. He sought and obtained the help of England, and he imprisoned Donna Leonora in a convent at Tordesillas, where she shortly afterwards died. In the meantime the armies of Castile besieged Lisbon

« AnteriorContinua »