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put it in a very able letter to an Irish Church paper, if the Church of Ireland cannot approve either the study of the Irish language or the assertion of Irish nationality, why does it call itself the Church of Ireland? Of the Catholic public schools, all teach Irish more or less, but for the most part in a half-hearted way. Nevertheless, the subject is increasingly taken up at the State-conducted Intermediate Examinations, and increasing importance has been given to it, so that it now ranks practically on an equality with French and German.
But the teaching body in Ireland which wins the warmest approbation from the League is the great lay order of Christian Brothers. Here it is worth while to collate opinions. All opponents of the Gaelic League declare that the study of Irish is a waste of time, indefensible in an age which demands efficiency. Per contra, I heard the other day a sermon in which we, as a Protestant congregation, were urged to contribute to Church schools because extra expenditure was needed if Protestants were to have а chance. As it was, the preacher said, whenever post fell vacant, the Christian Brothers had a lad ready with special training to fit him for its duties, and even employers who would prefer a Protestant were forced to accept the better equipped Catholic. Other testimony of the same kind could be cited; and it seems reasonable to argue that zeal
and success in teaching Irish may exist along with the will and ability to give a good practical education.
But the chief effect of the League's work is seen in the National Schools. Before it began, some 1500 children were learning Irish. On the 31st December 1903 there were over 93,000 in the National Schools alone; to-day their number probably stands nearer 120,000. Add to this the teaching in secondary schools and in the League's classes, and it gives a probable total of about 200,000 in the younger generation to whom the language is being taught. Singularly enough, this fact seems suddenly to have burst upon the authorities who control Irish education; for it was announced the other day that the fees specially paid for this study were to be withdrawn, on the suggestion of the Treasury, and devoted instead to instruction in cookery. The Gaelic League is now asking whether inducements to study Irish were only offered as long as they were not accepted; and whether it is any part of the Treasury's business to say what
Irish children shall or shall not learn. Fair warning of a stand-up fight was given at the two great public gatherings,of which the more important was on the fourth night of the Oireachtas, when the winners of the literary competitions were announced, the public oration delivered by the chosen speaker of the year, and the chosen poet's ode declaimed to the assembly.
The orator was a priest from the west, Father Macken, and his oration on the text, What we should do for Ireland, was largely a warning against provincial divisions. Incidentally it may be observed that the elder generation of priests is slow to accept these new ways, and at least one Catholic bishop insists that Catholic children shall be taught their catechism in English, on the ground that they are sure to emigrate; but the younger clergy are heart and soul in this movement, and Irish is being made an obligatory subject of study at Maynooth. Yet the movement, though supported by the priests, is in no sense controlled by them, except in so far as this, that the existing system of government in Ireland gives every clergyman almost absolute power over the school in his parish,-an arrangement for which neither the League nor any popular body in Ireland is in any way responsible. However, these are thorny questions: the field of poetry is safer. There, on the platform, was one of the few representatives left in Ireland of the old country poets-Mr Robert Weldon, from the Waterford mountains, looking in no way more typically Gaelic than his name. One would have guessed that this fine distinguished-looking old man, with the spectacles pushed far down on his well-cut nose, was some kind of a professor turned countryman: the look of culture was in a pleasant but unexpected harmony with the
decent plainness of his dress. Here was no peasant, but a yeoman type, cultivated into the scholar; and his poetry was no product of an untutored muse, but elaborate, deliberate, an exercise in a well-understood and solidly established tradition. Taking it as literature, it was probably neither better nor worse than most odes written for an occasion, and the poet declaimed it admirablyreconciling stress on the intricate assonances with just expression. When he ended, the applause followed; but he still kept the platform. Pushing back the spectacles on his forehead, with a twinkle lighting up his eyes, he said that he would like just to say a couple of words, especially to the ladies. And thereupon he launched into a set of verses (evidently much nearer his heart than the formal ode) which advised all Irish girls against giving any countenance to the "Shoneen, or Irishman who wants to pass for English. The audience, about half of whom apparently followed all the Gaelic quite easily, marked his points for him with laughter; and so, after a word of apology for the bard's traditional right of satire, he sat down well pleased
the most distinguished and most characteristic figure on the platform, and a revelation to us of the north who know the native speaker only as a peasant living close on the starvation line.
Yet even on that line they live gaily enough, and the best humorous song that I have
as it was in with the chorus to "The Fair of Windy Gap." For the Gaelic League is almost too serious, too fanatical, too much in black earnest. Nevertheless, it is only by fanaticism, skilfully governed, that difficult things can be accomplished by a people; and I have tried to show how great things the League has accomplished. But if I set out the other side of the picture and showed what remains to be done, what obstacles and what clogs remain, before it and about it, within and without, imposed and inborn,-it would be only too evident that none but fanatics would attempt the enterprise, and few of Maga's' readers would be willing to credit that it could be attempted at all. Nevertheless, there is the League toiling away - bail ó Dhia ar an obair.
ever heard, told-
MUSINGS WITHOUT METHOD.
THINGS OF FRANCE-A CHANGED PRESS-THE NEW ENTENTE-WHAT DOES IT MEAN THE POLITICS OF FEELING-DIPLOMACY BY JOURNALISM— THE FARCE OF PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE-LA POLITESSE ENVERS M. ROOSEVELT-THE PRESS IN PEACE AND WAR.
FOR an Englishman who has not crossed the Channel for some years, a visit to France is an agreeable surprise. Where once he was greeted with suspicion or insult he is now received as a welcome and familiar guest. The old causes of dissension are one and all forgotten. Even "the Concentration Camps," which for so many years troubled the misinformed conscience of France, have fallen into oblivion, and "the brave Boers" must be content with giving their name to a useful sort of leather gaiter. The bitter spirit of partisanship, which formerly disturbed the Frenchman's view of England, is utterly dead, together with the yellow side whiskers, the enormous pearl buttons, and the projecting teeth, which were its distinguishing symbols. It is impossible to discover in a single newspaper the reference to the perfide Albion which once upon a time never failed us. Neither M. Drumont nor M. Rochefort can now find it in his heart or upon his pen to insult us, and we note with a kind of sorrow that the voice of 'l'Autorité' is no longer the voice of M. Paul de Cassagnac. Now, the French Press, far more versatile in tone and various in style than ours, echoes all the
VOL. CLXXVIII.-NO. MLXXIX.
changing voices of the people, and it is at last unanimous in its courtesy to England. may, therefore, conclude that the French of all parties and all sects take a pleasure in the alliance which binds us together. But, with a perversity which is easily intelligible, we cannot but confess an artistic regret in the altered temper of France. The abuse to which we were once accustomed was so well managed, the terms of reproach were so cunningly selected, that we smiled far more often than we smarted at our neighbour's extravagance. However, knowledge is the beginning of moderation; to comprehend is to forgive; and during the last five years France has done her best to extend the limits not merely of her sympathy but of her understanding.
We have no desire to overrate the importance of the Press. But the revolution which has taken place during the last five years in the journals of Paris cannot be passed by without a record. There was a time when their one object was to amuse. It was not their aim to collect information or to mould opinion. Such politics as they set before their readers were less the result of a reasoned argument than the expression of a personal preju
dice. They had not yet discovered that strange animal, the special correspondent, and their news was always secondhand and generally inaccurate. The journals of Paris in those brave days had many deficiencies, but the best of them possessed one quality which more than atoned for all their faults-they were always entertaining. Upholding an ideal that was literary rather than statistical, they gave us every day little masterpieces of prose and verse. The 'Journal' of ten years ago was, we believe, the best paper that ever was published. It printed no news, and its foreign politics were the mere caprice of a wholly ignorant man. But how good it was! Though its editor was not a man of letters, he had a keen sense of literature, and he encouraged the younger writers of France with wisdom and generosity. Nor did the 'Journal' stand alone. The Echo de Paris,' largely daring, gave up to the Vers Libre of the Symbolists columns, which might have been wasted upon the latest intelligence. And the preference was justified, for it is the news of the moment whose interest fades most quickly, and a brief story or a fantastic essay is a far better index of a people's history than the barren controversy of politicians.
But to-day all is changed. The French have caught our passion for news. Not only are they in league with the newspapers of London; they have their special correspondents all the world over, and one-the 'Matin-is connected with America by a private wire.
So, for the first time, the French people is accurately informed concerning what happens in distant countries, and thus it is better able to mould the policy and to support the Government of its country. There is hardly one of its papers that does not reserve a space for the news of la dernière heure, and which is not as ambitious to forestall its rivals as the most enterprising specimen of the Yellow Press. And since the French adapt themselves most readily to new enterprises, they have imitated the methods of England and America with surprising skill. Their special correspondents, necessarily new to the craft, are surpassed by none of their kind. We, at any rate, can show no one comparable to M. Jules Huret for lightness of touch and certainty of vision; while the war correspondent, England's own invention, needed but the opportunity which Russia and Japan gave him to show that he flourished in the Boulevards as easily as in Fleet Street. The result is, that if you pick up a French newspaper you find little in its columns that London might not offer you. There is the same craze for news— for news at any cost and about anybody. The imitation of Paris may be flattering to our national pride; it may help to explain the entente which unites the two nations; but those who preferred the ancient gaiety of Paris to the hastily gathered snippets called "latest intelligence cannot but regret the change. It was Villemessant's ambition that the 'Figaro'