Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Upon This Sweeping Flood

1

Lord Ruckle-Smoot is out of sorts, an ardent supporter of all things American (especially his wife), a covert supporter of all Irish Catholic rebellions, he is ill at ease presenting the government’s imperious stance on Potato Blight. Indeed had his been the inclination the bellicose Palmerston would’ve stood here in his stead. T’is just before the summer holidays and the house is packed to the rafters with bored politicians eager to witness this bruising encounter between Lords Molesworth and Ruckle-Smoot.

“It is more than apparent that an Athenian Democracy would not suit the Irish” Lord Ruckle-Smoot begins, “They are but grown up children and must be governed as such. The place our government occupies towards them is that of a parent or of a guardian admonishing a rebellious and well nigh ungovernable horde”. His mild mannered gaze sweeps the entirety of the house and is met by many a look of approval and the affirming nod of many a Whig politician. “They are an impudent, turbulent, improvident race, wholly disinclined to fix their roofs whilst the sun is shining and, none too averse to consuming abundant quantities of beer at those times and in those places that are the cause of much moral opprobium in England and beyond.”

“Here here!” responds the house in its entirety. But Lord Molesworth is not to be discouraged, he has most recently married, a singular woman of Irish descent (his housekeeper) and his ardour though but recently cooled runs hot under the inference that his Eliza should be termed by birth an indolent, improvident, characterless wretch.

“And that’s to be the government’s final answer on the famine that is destroying the most beleaguered of Britannia’s children?”

“And the most filthy!” roars a government supporter to uproarious cries of 

“here here!”

Glancing expressionlessly at the papers in his hand Ruckle-Smoot fashions a reply that makes him cringe inwardly.“It is sir, and I would remind those who deprecate our efforts to govern Ireland, that our presence there both Christianizes and civilizes a people whose perverse habits might otherwise predestine them for extinction.”

Lord Molesworth looking at his papers smiles sardonically,”It is my suggestion, sir, that the little your government has done to alleviate the condition of that poor nation, has caused such unwarrantable suffering that even Joseph, that great Hebrew Egyptian Patriarch of old, would cry out against you, were he present! It has been said that too much charity (the provision say of monies to buy such provisions as would sustain the people through this trial), might destroy the character of the Irish people”. More politicians declare “here! Here!” though whether they would do so if they had traversed certain streets in London on foot remains to be seen.”And yet whilst we English are richly supplied with Irish grain, over half a million Irish have starved and over a million have emigrated for fear of starvation! A less than Christian state of affairs sir!”.

Glancing up towards the the visitor’s lobby he continues,”T’is all well and good to talk of moral probity and character when one sits to dine four times a day. T’is well and good to speak of firm governance when one lives easefully on a comfortable allowance. And within a respectable neighbourhood where may be kept away the wolves of crime and filth!”. He casts a baleful eye upon the well fed and comfortably seated gentlemen some of whom squirm most pitifully under his searing gaze. “Whilst a mere stone’s throw away from this great and good house, amidst our glorious empire, men and women reside thirty to a room”. Lord Molesworth pauses for effect,”men and women who once farmed their own plots of land in Ireland,dying of Dysentry and Cholera here, in London. No food in Ireland and no running water, no drains and no privies here”. The house is silent in horror, no lavatoriums?! A thoroughly perturbing state of affairs!

“T’is a most impassioned entreaty he makes!” whispers one Irish Radical to another,

“I am told he has recenty married,a fiery woman, well below his position socially, but harbouring strong opinions!”

“An Irish woman?”

“Judging by the look of him exceedingly so!”

Behold! Dear reader! A man flushed of countenance and mildly agitated of demeanour, a man in short, most passionately in love with principle and his beloved! Can such a man but hope to sway the opinions of his most esteemed contemporaries!

“An Athenian Democracy calls he this?” mutters Thomas Bass, he who has poured hundreds of pounds into the construction of orphanages for the children of railway servants killed needlessly in the course of their duties. “An Athenian Democracy?”

The Speaker of the House stifles a yawn, he checks his documentation casts a stern gaze upon Lord Molesworth and asks langurously,”Have you concluded your unctions towards the provision of plenteous grain and monetary aid? May we vote?”

irishmonkey

I’m a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad; 

I want a situation: yis, I want it mighty bad. 

I saw a place advartised. It’s the thing for me, says I; 

But the dirty spalpeen ended with: No Irish need apply. 

Whoo! says I; but that’s an insult — though to get the place I’ll try. 

So, I wint to see the blaggar with: No Irish need apply. 

I started off to find the house, I got it mighty soon; 

There I found the ould chap saited: he was reading the TRIBUNE. 

I tould him what I came for, whin he in a rage did fly: 

No! says he, you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply! 

Thin I felt my dandher rising, and I’d like to black his eye–

To tell an Irish Gintleman: No Irish need apply! 

I couldn’t stand it longer: so, a hoult of him I took, 

And I gave him such a welting as he’d get at Donnybrook. 

He hollered: Millia murther! and to get away did try, 

And swore he’d never write again: No Irish need apply. 

He made a big apology; I bid him thin good-bye, 

Saying: Whin next you want a bating, add: No Irish need apply! 

Sure, I’ve heard that in America it always is the plan 

That an Irishman is just as good as any other man; 

A home and hospitality they never will deny 

The stranger here, or ever say: No Irish need apply. 

But some black sheep are in the flock: a dirty lot, say I; 

A dacint man will never write: No Irish need apply! 

no-irish-need-apply-the-new-york-times-10-may-1859

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