Triumphs and Troubles
In the middle of an ocean, approximately equidistant from points of departure and arrival, the mind rests and the inner eye is able to look back and ahead with a clarity of vision rarely achieved in any other place. In mid-June, 1906, the middle of the Atlantic was sufficiently calm to provide travelers dozing in deck chairs with a particularly good perspective. Although soon after the Hydes had boarded the Celtic the mock-serious British captain had warned, shaking his head, "Dr. Hyde, if you pronounce the name of our ship with a hard C you shall have a hard sea on this crossing," he had been wrong. Many times in the four days since leaving New York, Hyde had mischievously invoked the ship's name—always in the presence of the captain, always with a hard C —but the ocean had remained subdued, mirroring the mood of the reclining passengers. Cradled in his own customary deck chair, with Lucy in hers, dozing beside him, Hyde spent hours on end ostensibly reading but actually reflecting on past and future.
Viewed retrospectively from the middle of the Atlantic, the states of America were united for Hyde in a kaleidoscope of images juxtaposed not by place or time but by association: red-bricked Boston contrasted with gray New York, both with sand-hued Chicago and (his heart still stopped whenever he thought of it) sparkling San Francisco. In Pittsburgh, usually a study of gray and black, the rays of the setting sun so colored the smoke from the steel mills that all seemed engulfed in one great flame. In the pale, cold light of early morning the rugged mountains and valleys of Montana appeared from the windows of Butte
and Anaconda to be devoid of a blade of grass, a tree, a scrap of plant life, so devastating were the effects of the arsenic-laden emissions spewed out by its smelters. Brockton, Massachusetts, was, like Butte, an industrial town, but it was a major boot-manufacturing center, and as the boot business was booming, people were cheerful and content. Nothing of Brockton's cheer, however, was attributable to bottled spirits; it was a prohibition town. When Hyde discovered that no drink could be had to smarten him up for his lecture there, his resourceful host had with some difficulty procured from a drugstore a small bottle of whiskey "for medicinal purposes" that Hyde then had to imbibe unconvivially in his bedroom.
Aboard the Celtic in mid-June Hyde needed only a laprobe to be comfortable in his deck chair. Winter already had set in when he visited Brockton. Manchester, New Hampshire, was in the grip of hard frost by early December, a fact that would have come as a surprise to him had it not been for the year that he had spent in New Brunswick. The cities and towns of all northern New England, in fact, were peaceful and picturesque under their winter blanket of snow. At the same time on the opposite coast in places like Santa Barbara, American millionaires and millionairesses strolled beneath palm trees along walks overlooking a beautiful sunlit bay. Most of Southern California, Hyde concluded, had no visible means of existence but seemed to live upon the reputation of its climate.
People as well as places were fixed in Hyde's consciousness. For genuine friendship no place surpassed San Francisco, but Philadelphia certainly had lived up to its reputation as the City of Brotherly Love, and the predominantly German population of Cincinnati had given Hyde such a wonderfully Irish welcome that he had responded, to their amusement and pleasure, with a speech of appreciation in German. In Los Angeles the Celtic Club, whose members were Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, had bestowed on him an honorary membership. It was the only club in America, as far as Hyde knew, that brought these three branches of the Celts together. Maud Gonne, the Hinksons, Rose Kavanagh—all the Pan-Celts in Dublin—would be interested to hear of its success, although it would not be approved at all by some members of the Coiste Gnótha.
Just before the Celtic Club dinner Hyde had been taken by Dr. Jones, a Welshman, to another American refuge for millionaires, Pasadena, so that he could call on Michael Cudahy, the meat-packer from Chicago, and talk for a while with Cudahy and his wife. The Cudahy family were
among the richest of the Irish in America, Hyde had been told; they had come out of Callan in county Kilkenny about the time of the Famine. To Thomas Curtin, Quinn's personal secretary, Hyde had given an account of the ability this family displayed in avoiding him. They had dodged him in Milwaukee, in St. Louis, and in Chicago. But Archbishop Riordan had seated Michael Cudahy beside Hyde at a big dinner in San Francisco, and impressed, Hyde believed, not by what he had said but by the enthusiasm of the archbishop, Michael Cudahy had given the Sacramento committee a check for $500 on the spot. Hyde's impression was that Cudahy was strong, thoughtful, and matter-of-fact. He had heard others refer to him as the "brain carrier" of the Cudahy family. It was an odd expression but in substance, Hyde thought, it probably was true.
In the east Hyde had visited another millionaire, Andrew Carnegie. Judge Keogh, who accompanied him, had arranged the introduction in the hope that Carnegie might be interested in the work of the Gaelic League. They were kept waiting for a long time, but when he finally appeared, Carnegie was apologetic and cordial. Hyde recalled him as very small, an ugly little man with gray hair and an immense ego, as revealed in the stories he told about himself, yet very human. He was clearly unimpressed with what Hyde had to say about the goals of the league until Hyde mentioned Horace Plunkett's approval of it, at which point Carnegie suddenly became attentive. After their talk he escorted Hyde and Keogh to the door in the most friendly manner and asked Hyde to visit him again when he came back from the West. Then in January, just before his lecture in St. Paul, Hyde was handed a note signed "Frederic Stewart" offering the Gaelic League $25,000 for which, the note said, Carnegie had agreed to serve as trustee. As "Frederic Stewart" was also the name that had been left by a man who had been waiting for him before his lecture, Hyde lingered after the program, talking and shaking hands, expecting that he would turn up again. No one named Stewart approached him, no one had heard of him, and his name was not in the local directory. If it was true that Stewart was indeed representing Carnegie, something yet might come of it, Hyde thought hopefully. It never did.
America, Hyde discovered, was like Ireland in that to be a great character one did not need great wealth. There was, for example, John D. O'Brien of St. Paul, the only man Hyde ever had met who shot wild ducks with a bow. He had been brought up among the Indians on an island in one of the big lakes and he spoke Chippewa fluently. He was
known for miles around. In Manchester, New Hampshire, the bishop was a hail-fellow-well-met by the name of Delaney who wore a billycock hat and smoked a big cigar. The locals, even the Catholics, never addressed him as "My Lord" but only as "Bishop," and nobody dropped on one knee or kissed his ring or anything like that. Hyde had met him through two other extraordinary Irishmen, characters themselves. One was a wonderful old fellow by the name of O'Dowd, an avid collector and reader of Irish books who knew all about the language movement at home and everything that was going on in every parish in Ireland better than those who lived there. The other, O Multhain, or Mullin, was a fine Irish speaker from Sligo with a good memory for Irish songs. In Waterbury, Connecticut, at a banquet organized by a man named Luddy, a counterpart of O'Dowd, the master of the feast had been Moriarity, the most jovial undertaker Hyde had ever met.
Moriarity would have fit nicely into the evening Quinn had arranged in New York at the Players Club. The guests Quinn had assembled included Paul Elmer More, editor of the Evening Post ; Arthur Brisbane, editor of the Evening Journal ; Munroe, a Tolstoian; J. I. C. Clarke, editor of the Sunday Herald ; Witter Bynner of McClure's Magazine ; Richard Watson Gilder of the Century ; Malone, the old actor; and Van Thorne, a former student of Hyde's from the University of New Brunswick. There were no speeches, but much talking. Everybody had to tell stories. Clarke recited his "Kelly and Burke and Shea." They had gone on nonstop, smoking cigars and drinking highballs, until three o'clock in the morning. Quinn later had told Father Yorke that Hyde "had outdone himself as a story-teller" at that affair. That evening he had told stories just for pleasure, but there were other times when both his storytelling and his playwriting talents had saved the day. One such incident had occurred in January in Cincinnati, when a magazine called Men and Women set up an interview to be printed around St. Patrick's Day. The editor arrived with a stenographer, but he was unable to ask any questions because he did not know what to ask. The stenographer could not help—she was a young German girl. So Hyde had interviewed himself, asking himself questions on behalf of the editor, and answering them in his own voice, as the editor listened and the amused stenographer wrote everything down.
Four days out of New York. Reporters of course would be at the dock when he arrived in Queenstown, full of questions about his seven-month tour of America. What would they want to know? How much money he had come home with, for one thing; what he had thought
of America, for another. He began to compile for them a list of American superlatives: the best cold punch was served by the president of the University of California; the queerest things were the sea lions on the rocks near the Cliff House in San Francisco; San Francisco also had the most beautiful views and had arranged for him the most sumptuous banquet; Father Peter Yorke was the finest speaker he had heard; Frank Sullivan had been (except for Quinn, of course) his best host; San Francisco had the best hurling team he had seen outside of Ireland; Bishop Conaty of Los Angeles, who had taken the reins of the four-horse team that drew their carriage from Santa Cruz to the redwood forests was the best driver he ever had met; the nicest and most homelike hotel in America was the Touraine in Boston; he had left his best nightshirt in Waterbury, Connecticut, where the people had the best manners. The most beautiful woman he had seen in America was the supple and graceful Sarah Bernhardt, who had performed in New York in La Femme de Claude on December 16. No one else could hold a candle to her, although in general (at least one reporter was sure to ask) American women were very pretty, somewhat pretty, and not very pretty, much as they were at home. The worst thing in America? Unutterably bad country roads, just mud tracks, not much better in many towns. His worst fear: that his voice would give out. Many times, of course, he had spoken in theaters and opera houses where the acoustics were good. But many more times he had had to roar to his audiences in halls that had all the acoustical features of a drafty barn, and since January he had suffered a series of colds and sore throats.
Five days out of New York. Bertie Windle, now president of the University of Cork, had written on April 12 to invite Hyde and Lucy to stay with him when they arrived. Windle also had warned Hyde that a vicious attack on the league had recently appeared in the National Review . It was, said Windle, both "diabolically clever and . . . diabolically untruthful." It lumped together the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League, and other organizations. John Quinn had complimented Hyde on his deft handling of competing Irish-American organizations. Quinn had no idea, Hyde thought, how much practice he had had at home. Of greater interest was Windle's progress on his attempts to "slowly and cautiously" work Irish into the college curriculum against the opposition of the church. Hyde needed to be kept informed on such matters as he had recently been named to a newly appointed commission to study the question of whether a new college should be added to Trinity to meet the growing demand for university-
level education in Ireland. It was a question that was certain to divide the people of all thirty-two counties on issues of curriculum, religion, and language.
Six days out of New York a marconigram—probably the first in the Irish language to be received at sea—was handed to Hyde. It was from the Skibbereen branch of the Gaelic League. It said: "Thousands of welcomes home to you, An Chraoibhin Aoibhin! Behold the country on fire welcoming you." The country on fire—an Irish metaphor in Skibbereen, it was a very real prospect to the old Fenians, the AOH, and the Clan na Gael in America who shouted "Up the Revolution!" and sang "A Nation Once Again" with moist eyes. But if it came to physical force—the ill-equipped, untrained Irish against the mighty United Kingdom—the revolution would be over before the Americans reached Cork, if they came at all. At home some maintained, and they could be right, "The farther from the battlefield, the greater the patriot." For that matter, how many at home would risk their own lives in such a foredoomed gesture? Hyde was convinced that before there could be a revolution—with or without physical force—the Irish had to feel that they were indeed a nation. Rich and poor, city and county, Catholic and Protestant, east and west, north and south, whether their roots were deep in Ireland or had but recently been transplanted into its limey soil, on that one matter at least all had to be agreed. Language and culture and a commitment to Irish manufacture were the bonding agents that could make a people of a population. Deanglicization was the prescription. When the Irish had that accomplished, they could decide, with or without the Americans, what to do next.
One thing that would have to be considered eventually was the form of government a new Irish nation should adopt. Hyde had been asked about that in America. Would Ireland follow the English or the American system? It was not a question he could answer. What were the factors, he asked, turning the question back to his questioners. What were the advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed? Privately, Hyde had doubts that the American-style bicameral legislature would work in Ireland. He noted that in most states in America the legislature met only once every two years, and then only for about two months. It was for him proof positive of American practicality and distrust of mere talk. In the United States people were always doing something, making money, he noted; they did not have the same tendency to engage in endless debate. The Irish would never be satisfied with a two-month legislative session every two years.
The current political struggle, however, was not about representative government—that day was not yet at hand—but about university education. Like everything else, it would not be settled without endless debate. In the end, Hyde suspected, there would be no new college at Trinity but a new institution. At the moment the choices available to students were only Trinity College, still very much a Protestant Ascendancy enclave; the three Queen's Colleges, Cork, Galway, and Belfast, established in 1845; and the old Catholic University established in 1854, called University College, Dublin since 1882. Hyde hoped that what might emerge from commission discussions would be a recommendation for a new nonsectarian national institution in which Irish would be taught as an academic subject. As for its goals, the philosophy of one of the American public universities he had visited—the University of Wisconsin—had intrigued him. Its president, Charles R. Van Hise, had told Hyde during his trip to Madison that this university produced for the state many times what the state spent on it. Its success, Van Hise said, was in his opinion attributable to the fact that he had always tried to make the university as democratic as possible and to foster personally meaningful connections between it and the citizens of the state. He gave as an example the contribution the university had made to Wisconsin farming. By teaching modern scientific methods to the farmers of tomorrow and providing the scientific environment necessary for invention and development, the university had enormously improved agriculture throughout the state. As a consequence it had earned the gratitude of the whole population. It was a splendid example, Hyde thought, of how a national university ought to function.
Seven days out of New York another message was received. It was from O'Daly, who reported that arrangements had been made for a public reception in Dublin on Sunday evening, June 24. Could Hyde be there? With the greatest of pleasure, Hyde replied; but for most of the next twenty-four hours he had serious doubts, as dense fog and heavy rain slowed the Celtic almost to a halt. Then suddenly the rain stopped, the fog cleared, and bright sunshine bathed hill and harbor of Queenstown: they were home. The tender from the landing station was approaching, threading its way past sailing schooners loaded with grain toward Roches Point and the ocean liner. At the same time, steaming into the harbor from the southwest was an armored cruiser and eight destroyers fresh from maneuvers; they weighed anchor beside all the other ominously visible warships and submarines of the British
Imperial Fleet, just a fraction of the whole, for which Queenstown was a home port.
Aboard the tender which had come out to take Cork-bound passengers to the landing station before the Celtic steamed off to Liverpool were the first of many welcoming committees. Hyde could hear the musicians long before he could make out the faces. Formal presentation of greetings and addresses began as soon as he stepped into the tender; they did not cease until the tender docked at the landing station at ten minutes before seven o'clock. The date was June 24, 1906. It had been 227 days since Hyde and Lucy had last set foot on Irish soil. On the train into Cork City and the first of many elaborate receptions that would continue on for days, there were more musicians and welcoming speeches.
Asked by reporters what he expected would be the principal result of his American visit, Hyde replied that what already had been achieved and surely would continue in the future was American understanding of the Gaelic League and what it stood for: nationality in the highest sense of that word, above creed and politics; an intellectual movement that sought to perpetuate the best characteristics of the race. With that understanding, he declared, he was confident that American sympathy and support would continue. Tangible evidence of what he said was, he assured them, in his pocket, in the form of a check for over ten thousand pounds and an audited account showing what had been collected, how much had been used for expenses, and what remained, free and clear, to be used by the league in installments of no more than two thousand pounds per year to assure its maximum benefit. That sum, and the goodwill to which it testified, had been collected, Hyde said, during more than nineteen thousand miles of land travel in the course of which he had made seventy-eight separate railway trips, many of them double journeys. He had spoken five nights a week to audiences large and small depending on the size of the locality, for American support could be found everywhere, in the smallest towns and largest cities. The total number of people that he had addressed could not have been less than eighty thousand. Clearly they had been generous. Had the league not returned the money collected in San Francisco for relief of the victims of the earthquake the figure on the check in his pocket would have been considerably greater. And in addition to contributions for the league, he had also a small check from a private donor for the fledgling School of Irish Learning in Dublin. Established in 1903 under the
directorship of the distinguished German Celticist Kuno Meyer with the help of Alice Stopford Green, the school had caught the particular attention of university scholars, as Hyde hoped it would, for one of his dreams was to create a facility that would bring Celticists from all over the world to study, conduct their research, confer, and write their books and papers in Dublin.
To questions about how he had organized such a campaign, Hyde gave fullest credit to John Quinn above all, to Judge Martin J. Keogh and the members of his host committees in New York, and to Father Peter Yorke of San Francisco. Their effective publicizing of his tour had been evident everywhere, in public meetings and private conversations with American citizens—farmers, merchants, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, editors, and priests and bishops of the Catholic church, the professors and presidents of the universities, the president of the United States. Once the Americans were apprised of his visit and its purpose, the organizing was done by the people themselves. How had he been received by the bishops? With the greatest warmth and generosity, Hyde could say honestly, reeling off their names. And by the universities? The answer was the same. That was as much as Hyde wanted to discuss with reporters. He declined to be questioned on his appointment to the Trinity College commission; he refused to be drawn into a discussion of what had been publicly said about him in the House of Commons. His deft handling gave them plenty to print yet placed him firmly in charge. This skill, too, he knew, he owed to John Quinn.
The processions and celebrations that greeted Hyde's return were even larger and more elaborate than those that had marked his departure. They began as soon as he stepped off the train in Cork; they continued the next day in Dublin. In separate ceremonies he was made Freeman of Cork, of Kilkenny, and of Dublin. Lucy returned to Ratra and a reunion with the children—Nuala was now twelve and Una had just had her tenth birthday—but it was a number of days before Hyde himself could go home, as in addition to being feted he had people to see and work to do in the Dublin office of the league, and even then other welcoming ceremonies and invitations to speak took him away to different parts of the country several days out of every week.
Meanwhile, awaiting Hyde's attention on his desk in Frenchpark were books, examination papers, reports, bills, and hundreds of letters that would each require an acknowledgment or answer. Most of the correspondents were familiar: William Kennedy, a Dublin journalist
now in London who had accompanied the Hyde entourage to Queens-town last October, congratulated him on the success of the American tour and thanked him for his "unfailing courtesy and kindness." Charles O'Conor, son of Charles Owen O'Conor Don (there was no mistaking the O'Conor hand) appreciated Hyde's public mention of his dying father's support of the language movement, especially his father's role in the work of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Alice Stopford Green, friend and formidable ally since 1900, who had put aside her writing of The Making of Ireland and Its Undoing in the months of his American tour to write letters to the press in praise of the league's work, had encouraging news of Kuno Meyer's progress. Meyer himself, at that moment in Hungary, sent greetings and congratulations on Hyde's safe return. And there was a card, signed simply "Gráinne," which read:
O welcome back my fairy king!
Your faith has moved the mountain.
You struck dry rock and lo! the spring!
The rushing Gaelic fountain!
In this same stack of mail Hyde found a letter and a check for $2,000, sent by the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, "in appreciation of the Gaelic League's campaign to revive and reestablish the language." Curious that it should arrive now. It had been a query to Quinn about this promised contribution that had led to discussions about fund-raising and ultimately to the trip from which Hyde had just returned.
In a corner of Hyde's study stood his newly acquired typewriter, a parting gift from John Quinn in New York. He had tried to master its complexities on his return voyage, and in time he was sure he would, but for the moment it was faster and more efficient for him simply to hunch over his desk, pen in hand, and push either Irish or English words uphill in his small, slanted writing, as the occasion demanded. His first letter was to Quinn to tell him of the check from the AOH and describe his Dublin reception: "The whole of O'Connell Street was packed from side to side, and from the Rotunda to below Nelson's Pillar, with one solid mass of people, and they all with one accord cheered for John Quinn, as well they might. I left nobody under any doubt as to whom the American success was due." A second, which Quinn had insisted on, was to a Dublin investment house for advice on where best to place
the six hundred pounds he had earned from his thirty-one lectures at American colleges and universities, his own small financial compensation for his seven months' work.
Many problems Hyde had left behind when he started out on his tour of America awaited his return, unresolved. Chief among them was the government program that awarded small fees to teachers who provided instruction in Irish (eighty half-hour lessons or forty lessons of one hour each) as a supplement to the regular curriculum. The program had made an impact in many parts of the country with the ironic exception of the west. Hyde had expressed his concern in an October 1903 letter to Colonel Maurice Moore, George Moore's brother: "The tide is rising everywhere except in the Irish-speaking districts themselves." Like George, Maurice was a strong supporter of the league; unlike George, he had learned the language. Hyde had given him, as an example, the situation in Mayo where school managers, usually priests, had refused to cooperate: "They don't believe in our movement and hence they won't do anything." He had told Moore that if the managers continued their refusal he would apply pressure directly to their bishops. On the eve of Hyde's departure for America, the situation had worsened, as Hyde had explained to Roosevelt, for James Bryce, the newly appointed chief secretary for Ireland, had cut back the Irish fees. Hyde had taken the bad news directly to his American Irish audiences. In a speech reported in the New York Times of November 19, 1905, he had told a rally of how hard the league had worked to increase the fees from less than one thousand pounds a year to a still inadequate twelve thousand pounds, and now that had been taken from them.
On his return to Ireland, Hyde discovered that the funds for teaching Irish had been used to appoint assistant schoolmistresses. Remuneration for Irish teachers had been cut so severely that Hyde calculated that they would earn only slightly more than three pounds for an entire year's teaching of sixty pupils. He sent letters of protest to Sir Anthony McDonnell, undersecretary for Ireland, as well as to Bryce. Reminding Hyde that he had been "almost the only English politician" who had "ever expressed sympathy with the movement," Bryce regretted that he could do nothing as he was powerless; he "had no education officials under him." Nevertheless he expressed his continuing wish that he might do "his very best" for the league. Hyde instituted a plan for pressuring the government for restoration of the Irish fees; it continued all through the winter and early spring of 1907. The league urged mem-
bers to write to Parliament. Hyde called on Colonel Maurice Moore to lobby through letters of protest sent to the Weekly Freeman . The government did not budge. Early in March 1907, Bryce having been appointed ambassador to the United States, Hyde told Moore that he intended to take the matter directly to Augustine Birrell, the new chief secretary. "If he won't help us, wrote Hyde, secure for the moment in the power of his position, he would "denounce him at a public meeting." Within the month, in a subsequent letter to Moore, he renewed his pledge not to let Birrell alone but to "press and press him till the thing is done." Hyde also wrote personally to John Redmond, head of the Irish party in Parliament, and to Stephen Gwynn, M.P. from Galway, urging that they, too, intervene with the government to restore the lost fees. Finally, on March 24 he was able to send Nellie O'Brien good news from Gwynn in London. Characteristically, he gave all the credit to others; it was the sheer weight of resolution, telegrams, and letters from all over the country that had been generated by the league, he said, that had had their effect. Hyde's philosophy of organizational behavior was to work behind the scenes as much as possible. His reward came from success achieved by allowing others to enjoy a sense of accomplishment. "It is all right. It was a battle. If the fees had not been returned I was prepared to go to any length, even to denounce Bryce to the American Irish." For a while at least Hyde knew that his American trip had given him another kind of capital on which he could draw. Like pounds, it could be lost all at once if he invested it unwisely; unlike pounds, it would not accumulate interest but would slowly diminish if it was left unused.
Hyde's most vexing problem at this time was to find ways to use his limited capital effectively while still trying to work through the league's unwieldy, top-heavy, forty-five-member executive committee. For several years it had been evident that the Coiste Gnótha's size and composition was a handicap, especially as the egos of some members led them to challenge everything that was presented and the egos of others prompted long-winded speechifying. The analogy with money held: the bad drove out the good. The problem was not only that when the wrangling and the speechmaking began, serious and competent members left; there were also those who accepted subcommittee assignments because they wanted to be in charge of something and then attended erratically, forcing postponement of discussion and decision on substantive issues. This was exactly the kind of behavior that Hyde feared might
occur in a national government if Ireland adopted an American-style bicameral legislature. It had driven many good people out of active participation in league affairs.
Frustrating as these shortcomings were, Hyde decided, to the dismay of O'Daly, Barrett, and O'Farrelly, to withdraw plans to recommend revisions in the league's constitution. The league, he said, was too vulnerable to risk reorganization at this point. To others this sounded strange, but Hyde knew that although the position in which he found himself in 1906–1907 as a result of the success of his American tour had brought him increased support, it also had increased petty jealousies and evoked charges of high-handedness whenever he so much as ventured an opinion different from that of others. On the Coiste Gnótha the majority was still pretty much behind him, but Father Brennan kept renewing his charges of manipulation in the case of the writer dismissed by the Weekly Freeman ; Father Dinneen had joined in the attack; he was accused by others of regional favoritism; and still others were suspicious of his continuing relationship with members of the Pan-Celtic Society. There was also the matter of the large branches, ever insistent upon greater autonomy. Revising the constitution might well provide them an opportunity to diminish rather than strengthen the executive committee. Despite all the hoopla that impressed those looking at the league from the outside, the view from within revealed too many stress points, in his opinion, to risk opening the question of the league's basic structure to general debate. Better wait, he cautioned, for a more propitious moment. O'Daly, Barrett, and O'Farrelly accepted Hyde's decision. Outside his inner circle of support his failure to act in the face of widespread dissatisfaction with the Coiste Gnótha was perceived by some as weakness, by others as ambivalence, nor were these perceptions limited to his detractors.
There was no doubt that the trouble in the branches was serious and that the Coiste Gnótha was doing little or nothing about it. The evidence predated Hyde's American tour. As early as 1903 he had begun to receive complaints of branch meetings that were unpunctual, starting as much as a half hour or more after announced times; of Irish courses disrupted by the late addition of new members that necessitated starting again from the beginning, to the disgust of those who were eager and ready to progress; of poor scheduling of language and dancing classes, which often resulted in members having to choose between one or the other; of incompetent teachers, insufficient textbooks, and dismay at the difficulty of the third volume of O'Growney's texts (prepared by
John MacNeil after O'Growney's death). From Fionan MacColuim he had but recently received word that, far from having abated, these problems had increased. Now, in 1906, Hyde received a highly critical report from E. O. Cameron, a Scottish observer of language revival who had recently completed a tour of traditional Irish-speaking areas.
Cameron's most disturbing observation recalled Hyde's own comparative study of Scottish and Irish native speakers undertaken in 1887 when he and Mackey Wilson had toured the Gaelic-speaking districts of Scotland. At that time he had been struck by the pride, so different from the embarrassment of Irish speakers, with which the Highland Scots used their native language. Cameron's report was even darker; he spoke how lack of pride infected teachers, leaving them with no enthusiasm for what they taught and how they then passed on this infection to their students. In such a climate conscientious supporters of the language lacked the courage, Cameron said, to confront the open hostility toward the language exhibited by school inspectors, preferring to write ineffectual anonymous letters to the press rather than risk confrontation by complaining directly to the national board. Cameron also declared that he had found more oppostion to the language among school managers of the Gaeltacht—all Catholic priests—than among "offensive and alien Protestants." He was puzzled, he wrote, by "these renegade Gaels" who were "acting against the declared resolution of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland."
Of all Cameron's criticisms, the problem of clerical antagonism toward the language was the most delicate. In a letter to his friend James Owen Hannay (the novelist George Birmingham) written July 11, 1906, less than a month after his return from America, Hyde had argued that the support of the Catholic clergy was indispensable to the league's success.
Our game is a waiting game. Keep on the work, leaven the masses, and above all so long as there is any principle of growth in the League let it grow, avoiding at all hazards any clash with the priests or the church. They are, and will be for the next 50 years (unless a strong Home Rule Bill is passed) the dominating factor in Irish life. They are always on the spot, they have the women behind them, they can do almost what they like. Make them think the League is theirs and do nothing to frighten them off.
In a second letter to Hannay, written November 3, 1906, Hyde repeated and strengthened his argument, explaining, "I'm awfully afraid of frightening the clergy off. We'll never revive the Irish language if
we do. We must keep them by hook or crook for 6 or 7 years more." What Hyde also recognized was that it was easy to blame trouble on a single cause, more difficult to understand that many factors were involved in the problems that beset the league in 1906–1907. Not the least was the league's new popular appeal, the inevitable result of the favorable publicity that had attended Hyde's return. It added a substantial number of less disciplined, less committed members that would have to be absorbed into the whole. The same sort of thing had happened to other movements as they gained strength and popularity. Hyde's analysis of the situation, based in large part on his study of previous Irish nationalist movements, especially those rooted in revival, explains his insistence on remaining patient and avoiding public conflict at all costs. Without the language as its base, the league had no identity to distinguish it from any other pronationalist group, and there was now a spectrum. The British technique of divide and conquer could easily destroy them all. With language as its raison d'être the league had been able to rise above internecine conflicts, biding its time as it fostered emotional rather than political ties to the idea of a nation.
Meanwhile, explanations were not solutions, and something had to be done about the trouble in the branches or the league would begin to lose both its members and its unique character. Teachers who did not meet league standards could be transferred, threatened with suspension, or sacked. Volunteers who engaged in petty squabbles could be maneuvered out of leadership positions. But to discipline or censure a priest, on whose support the league had to count at the branch level, was virtually impossible. Fortunately such priests, although all too visible as well as audible, were in the minority. Allied with Hyde in countering their influence were such distinguished clergy as the indefatigable Dr. Michael O'Hickey of Maynooth, elected vice-president of the league in 1903, the irrepressible Father Peadar O'Leary, and hundreds of parish priests devoted to the language. Nor did it hurt that in America he had a platoon of Catholic bishops and archbishops solidly behind him. There was nothing to do but watch and wait.
Meanwhile there was "damp Ratra," which Lucy disliked and held responsible for all her illnesses. Before their departure for America she had been pressing Hyde to sell to the Congested Districts Board. Within days of their return she renewed her campaign. For months she had enjoyed the best of American society, fine restaurants, theater, opera, and the company of cultured, intelligent, and educated men and women—perquisites of upper-class life to which she had been born and
had been accustomed at the time of her marriage. To be sentenced again to years in Roscommon was more than she could bear. By January 1907 Hyde had capitulated. To Nellie O'Brien he wrote that he was again planning to give up Ratra "for some place that will be dry, on the east coast, perhaps near Dublin." Nothing immediate was done; in November when Hyde developed a virulent case of pneumonia, nothing could be done. He was incapacitated for months. For a time there was doubt that he would survive. But by January 1908, although still gravely ill, he seemed to be slowly recovering.
On January 31, urged on by Agnes O'Farrelly, twenty of Hyde's closest league associates, including Father O'Leary, Patrick Pearse, and John MacNeill, signed a circular letter to the league branches proposing that Ratra be purchased and presented to An Craoibhin and asking for contributions to meet the estimated cost of one thousand pounds. The letter reminded their fellow leaguers that "overexertion" on the American trip had "told very severely on his constitution," and that his health unfortunately was even yet "not at all in a satisfactory condition." Subscriptions came in from priests and nuns, members of Parliament, fellow scholars, and hundreds more. On August 4, 1908, at an event kept private at Hyde's request, a small committee headed by MacNeill presented Douglas Hyde with the freehold to Ratra. Deeply touched by their affection and by the prospect of remaining on the land and among the people who had nurtured him, Hyde accepted their gift with sincerest thanks. Lucy could only watch the door to Dublin closing gently but firmly before her.
During Hyde's long illness of 1907–1908, as rumors circulated that he might never return to his leadership post, factions both in the league and outside began to position themselves to make a bid for control whenever word came that the expected vacancy was about to occur. To many aspiring politicians, secular and clerical, the organization had become a glittering prize. Its 550 branches and related infrastructure permeated every sector of Irish life including the Ascendancy. It had a propaganda machine that included a well-edited newspaper. American support had enhanced its prestige. Hyde's strategy was to concentrate on numbers and play for time, meanwhile avoiding confrontation with the British authorities, as he steadily drew in everyone he could—republicans, moderates, fence sitters, and even those who (like Lady Gregory) regarded themselves as anti-Home Rule, pro-Union. Let others posture, shake their fists, and shout. The threat of extremist action from other sources gave him far more leverage with the British than any
threat that he would then dare to make. One of his earliest lessons in Irish history had taught him that physical force used prematurely led only to sacrificial martyrdom. Its time might come. For the moment there was the matter of the new university.
Hyde's campaign for the new university was three-pronged. The first task was to eliminate any chance of the commissioners reporting in favor of a second college to be established within Trinity. The second was to back a proposal for a new university in the Dublin area that would be controlled neither directly nor indirectly by either the Church of Ireland or the Catholic church (although he had no illusions that at the start student enrollment would divide along these lines). The third was to establish Irish as an essential subject for matriculation. To achieve his first objective, Hyde carefully prepared a brief for the use of one or more selected witnesses. Testimony should stress, he wrote, why the witness would not want to send his own children to Trinity even if the ban of the Catholic bishops on such enrollment were to be lifted. Second, the witness should object to the bias built into Trinity faculty appointments, sizarships, and prizes in Irish by virtue of the fact that support for these came from sources committed to assisting Church of Ireland ministers to proselytize among Irish Catholics in Irish-speaking areas. Further, testimony should note the absence of instruction in such subjects as the history and culture of Celtic Ireland. It was possible, he declared, to use as evidence the ignorance of Ireland and the Irish that could be found in Trinity's own publications: "Crucify their tardily published unutterably ill-spelt catalogue," he advised. "Look it up in the Library and you'll see some howlers . . . that would make a schoolboy laugh." It also might be effective, Hyde suggested, to draw attention to the absence of Irish manuscripts on view in the library ("Is it because they don't wish people to know that such a thing exists?") and the presence of Queen Elizabeth's head, "an emblem of spoliation and conquest," on Trinity's medals. Finally, Hyde said, a witness before the commissioners might ask if it was true that the man who "went out of his way to identify Robert Emmet and get him hung" was a provost of Trinity.
Coolly prefaced to this brief was Hyde's statement that its purpose was to establish that even among upper-class Protestants Trinity College's attitude toward Irish culture and history was an embarrassment and an anachronism. Evident also in the intensity of his opposition and the scale of his vituperation were years of bitterness and disappointment over the way in which Mahaffy and Atkinson, the prime targets of his
attack, had frustrated his academic aspirations. He had had one sweet victory over them in 1899. Now the stakes were higher, there was more to be gained and lost, influence and power were for once on his side, and his side was the side of justice and virtue. Ordinarily Hyde was passionate but not vengeful. If he threw himself into this particular fight with more than his usual ardor, who could blame him? The opportunity was irresistible.
The hearings ended. The commissioners recommended a new university, separate from Trinity. The Irish Universities Bill enacted by Parliament in 1908 established a National University of Ireland, to be comprised of three constituent colleges. One was University College, Dublin, the successor to Catholic University, which until then had been run by the Jesuits; the other two were the Queen's Colleges of Cork and Galway. Queen's College, Belfast, remained separate and independent. The degree-granting function of the Royal University was to be taken over by the new government-supported National University. The bill also gave to the senate of the National University, to which Hyde and John MacNeill were named, full responsibility for designing its curriculum. It was only a matter of time—both were determined to win—before the Irish language would be listed as a subject required for matriculation, on a par with Latin and English. Excited and optimistic, looking forward to this third and last phase of his campaign, Hyde wrote Quinn that the new university would "bring young men of Ireland together." In every country in which university students gathered, he proclaimed, they were "always in the forefront for liberty."
In the winter of 1908 a giant meeting on required Irish in the curriculum of the National University was held in the Rotunda. "There will be a fight," Hyde promised the cheering crowd, although it was not yet clear who would win. No one was opposed to the teaching of Irish—everyone was for it. The bishops and their supporters favored Irish as an optional rather than required subject. To the league and its supporters optional status was marginal status. In an Irish university, they insisted, the Irish language must have the same status as Latin and English. To Hyde's dismay his friend Windle sided publicly with the bishops, despite everything he had said and done privately to promote the teaching of the language. Windle's problem, which he had tried to explain to Hyde, was that as president of University College, Cork, he could not publicly oppose the bishops without detriment to himself, his position, and his college. Deploring Windle's attempts to have both a public and a behind-the-scenes solution, Hyde clearly forgot (it would
not be the last time) his own analogous position in his battle with the Post Office, still far from over.
Hyde's chief opponent in the senate debate over the place of Irish in the university curriculum was Father Delaney, rector of University College, who opened his attack by challenging the necessity for making the "uneducated language of the peasant" a test for a university education. For Hyde it was 1899 and Mahaffy and Atkinson all over again. He and his lieutenants went into action. He had more than a partner in MacNeill, a formidable ally who disliked face-to-face confrontation but wielded a mighty pen. He also had the league. MacNeill prepared an eloquent argument supported by all the evidence Hyde had collected in his winning battle of 1899 and more. Published in pamphlet form under the title Irish in the National University , it was distributed all over Ireland, largely through the branches of the league.
Hyde also had the support of many important church figures, including Cardinal Logue, a native speaker from Donegal and former professor of Irish at Maynooth College; the archbishop of Dublin; and Dr. Michael O'Hickey, Eugene O'Growney's successor in the chair of Irish at Maynooth, vice-president of the league from 1899 to 1903, and a veteran of the 1899 debate. O'Hickey entered the fray with the same gusto that he had demonstrated first in the battle to save Irish in intermediate education and subsequently in other battles, among them some on which he and Father Dinneen were divided in the Coiste Gnótha. Lashing out in scathing terms against all opponents of required Irish, including his own superior, Dr. Mannix, then president of Maynooth, he was first reprimanded by the ecclesiastical authorities, then given a chance to apologize which he refused to take, and finally removed from his chair at the college, an action which he immediately appealed to Rome. The public joined the debate with letters to the newspapers. Some writers within the league urged Hyde to take stronger steps to impress on all 550 branches the urgency of uniting behind the university question. One writer from the north advised Hyde that although leaders in Donegal and Derry were "alive to the crisis" and everything was being done to "rouse the branches," more information was needed. He urged Hyde to write a long article for the very next number of An Claidheamh Soluis to explain to the entire membership the complex fee and university questions, both "confusing to the ordinary Gaelic Leaguer." He also added, in one of many such expressions of concern that Hyde was to hear in that year following his long and nearly fatal illness of 1907–1908, that he was "not to fret" because "the great heart
of the Gaelic League is . . . with the right side; only those who gave lip-devotion are turning aside."
In early 1909 Hyde drew into the campaign a powerful ally, the Irish Nationalist party. At its February convention it took up the language issue. Siding with the bishops, John Dillon argued the motion in favor, dismissing the idea that to be Irish the National University must require Irish. Misjudging his audience, for whom the issue was not logical but emotional, not pedagogical but patriotic, Dillon pointed out that requiring Latin would not make a university Latin any more than requiring arithmetic would make it an arithmetic university. The audience was not persuaded. John Redmond then called on Hyde to speak on behalf of the motion. O'Daly's circular letters, MacNeill's pamphlet, O'Hickey's speeches, and the efforts of Fionan MacColuim and other head organizers had prepared his case. He had only to repeat the arguments with his usual oratorical skill and wait for the tumultuous applause. The question carried. Months of careful planning, hard campaigning, and meticulous teamwork had paid off.
There were, however, serpents in the garden. Vague rumors had been reaching Hyde for some time—as early as spring of 1908, in fact, when he was recovering from his near-fatal bout with pneumonia—that clerical dissidents in the Coiste Gnótha were planning to nudge him out of office and replace him with "a clerical Gaelic League with a bishop at its head." As the strongest opposition to required Irish was coming from the bishops and as Father Dinneen, who was close to them, was Hyde's chief opponent on the executive committee, these rumors had a certain credibility. By March of 1908 there had been more specific charges. An angry Agnes O'Farrelly had called Hyde's attention to articles by Father Patrick S. Dinneen in D. P. Moran's Leader : they revived the old charge of 1905 concerning the dismissal of the columnist named Kelly from the Weekly Freeman . Broyden had let it be known at the time that it was his dissatisfaction with Kelly's performance and not any deputation led by Hyde that had resulted in the columnist's dismissal. Everyone thought that that had settled the matter, but here it was again.
It was Agnes O'Farrelly's belief that the Kelly case had been revived by D. P. Moran and Father Dinneen in 1908 as part of a conspiracy to discredit Hyde so that Dinneen himself might succeed to the presidency of the league. To destroy this "sinister design," a product of the "jealousy and ambition of meaner minds," she insisted that Hyde obtain, once and for all, a public statement from Broyden on the sub-
ject. She also pressed Hyde to confront the lean and hungry Dinneen with his ulterior ambitious motives. Dinneen was playing, she insisted, a "desperate game." If he and Moran did not succeed on the Kelly/Freeman charge, "they would trump up another." Hyde accordingly wrote Broyden asking him to set the record straight. When it finally came, Agnes O'Farrelly dismissed Broyden's statement as "half-hearted" but she did not recommend further action. By then she had assured herself that Hyde had nothing to worry about. The leaders of the cabal, she declared, had "overreached themselves this time." All honest leaguers, she believed, were "sick of them." Quoting an Ulster proverb, she warned, "If you wrestle with a sweep, if he does not throw you, he'll sully you."
Hyde was puzzled that the Coiste Gnótha had not put a stop to Dinneen's trouble making. Agnes O'Farrelly's explanation was not reassuring: the executive committee, she maintained, was afraid to stir up controversy that would injure the annual collection and give ammunition to unnamed "others" who were causing added problems with their objections to the special fees paid by the government to Irish teachers in the schools. Disgusted with the pettiness of it all, Hyde spilled his feelings into a letter to Lady Gregory: he was confronted, he told her, with "alarms and excursions" and "lots of spite." Dinneen, he declared, was at the botton of it all: "his ingenuity in breeding strife is diabolical." Other letters on the same subject went to the Reverend James Hannay in Westport and Colonel Maurice Moore at Moore Hall, whose own perspectives were based in part on the fact that they saw things not from Dublin but from Mayo. Hannay had a ready solution: "Get rid of Dinneen." With him, the league was "in danger of going under," he warned; "it looks powerful but it is helpless," he declared. His recommendation was to apply the gardener's solution to the problem of tangled vines: cut back to half a dozen branches in Dublin and perhaps two in the rest of the country and then wait and watch the league grow healthy again. For some time he had been displeased with aspects of the organization's wild and unchecked growth, especially as it related to attitudes toward Protestants other than Hyde within the predominantly Catholic Gaelic League.
Moore, however, who had been hearing reports of the trouble that was brewing within the Coiste Gnótha, agreed with Hyde that the situation was too complicated to yield to Hannay's gardening techniques. Sinn Féin was now supporting the Dinneen party. Moreover, Agnes O'Farrelly had reported from Dublin that Sinn Féiners were spreading
rumors that Hyde was making secret visits to the Castle, behind the league's back, to strike a bargain with the chief secretary, Augustine Birrell. She urged Hyde to repudiate the insinuation quickly, either at the league's annual congress, the ard-fheis , or before:
I hate telling you these sorts of things and worrying you but it is better you should know them. You must not be over-sensitive. You cannot escape criticism in public life. . . . Give one rousing speech and give the lie direct to these people and also explain the university question. You would have the ear of the public speaking in English in a way you cannot speaking in Irish and we could get you a good report in the Freeman . It would turn the tide.
Hyde's response was to urge Moore to come to the ard-fheis , bringing all the delegates he could. He now understood, he told the colonel, that "they were never more wanted, for the malcontents will make this their final or rather their supreme effort to smash the League." He also alerted John Quinn, who suggested to John Devoy, publisher of the New York Gaelic American , that the paper come out against Dinneen, on the grounds of his being "a crank, a fault-finder and a meddler." At the ard-fheis the crisis passed after a "hell of a row" with Dinneen, Hyde reported to Quinn. Dinneen and his group had been "able and absolutely unscrupulous," but Hyde's supporters had been "too strong for them." Hyde's other good news for Quinn was that both he and MacNeill had been appointed to the faculty of the new university at annual salaries of £600. Quinn responded positively to Hyde's personal good fortune but cautioned him against expecting too much from his public campaign for required Irish, given the position of the bishops. Quinn's strong anticlerical sentiment made him skeptical about chances for success. "If you don't get compulsory Irish at once, take it in two or three years," he advised. "The Church is still supreme in Ireland," he warned. "So long as the bishops are sure of hell at their backs to threaten the Irish with, reason, patriotism, nationalism and idealism will all plead in vain." Nor was it likely that Hyde could obtain support against them from America, where the United Irish League and Ancient Order of Hibernians were strongly probishop. Quinn reckoned in any case that ninety percent of the American Irish population regarded the introduction of the Irish language "as a monstrous anachronism." He cautioned Hyde to be ready to compromise. The Gaelic League was at risk, he warned; if it dissolved, "Ireland without the Gaelic League would be like Hamlet without Hamlet."
In August, Pádraig O'Daly sent a circular letter to all county coun-
cils, presenting the league position on the subject of Irish in the university curriculum. What the league espoused was not compulsion or coercion, his letter explained, but a policy necessary to preserve Irish language, history, culture—everything. From his office throughout the fall the stream of broadsides, circular letters, and pamphlets continued. A letter headed "Ireland or West Briton—What Distinguished Men Say" offered quotations from Colonel Maurice Moore, Agnes O'Farrelly, Dr. O'Hickey, monsignors, priests, and canons. Moore's statement was unequivocal: "We want and we are determined to get a university for Irishmen above all things and for the Irish language; if the new university is not that, it is not for us, it is for foreigners." Reports from league branches indicated that O'Daly's campaign literature was getting through to the people and was making converts to the language cause. But it was always necessary to be vigilant, Hyde knew, and indeed one morning he awoke to discover in the Irish newspapers a long letter from Cardinal Moran of Australia to John Redmond, charging that the "Celtic League promoters" were hostile to Redmond's Parliamentary party. Hyde responded at once with a publicly printed letter to Redmond reiterating the nonpartisan position in the league's constitution and begging him to ignore the cardinal's "vague, untrue and mischievous charges." In a separately communicated private note, friendly in tone, Hyde wished Redmond good luck in his grouse shooting; reminded Redmond of the league's thousands of members who were also members of the Parliamentary party; and issued an invitation no politician could ignore, to address the great procession on behalf of the language, scheduled to be held in Dublin in September. "The meeting I am sure will be very large and representative," Hyde noted, adding as an apparent afterthought the fact that twenty-three of the county councils would be represented at the demonstration.
O'Daly had done his work superbly. The procession in support of required Irish, a nearly endless line of floats, placards, and thousands of children, most of them from Christian Brothers schools, took three hours to pass a given point before it came to Sackville (O'Connell) Street where scores of platforms were erected so that the huge crowd could be reached by the speakers. Prominently seated in full view of the crowd, sharing the limelight with dignitaries and dedicated leaguers, were members of county councils. Under the rules establishing the National University, the councils not only controlled scholarship monies but were empowered to attach conditions to these grants. Some county
councils already had announced that unless Irish was required, scholarship grants would go only to students who chose to attend Trinity College, and the new university would lose both funds and enrollment.
The massive turnout at the September procession, the Parliamentary party's endorsement, and the councils' messages had their intended effect on the new university's senate. Speeches made in sessions and in interviews with reporters all indicated that sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of required Irish. Nevertheless, as the debates continued, Hyde and his cohorts grew increasingly uneasy about the outcome, for every week without a final vote was a week in which the tide could change against them. They did not dare relax. Continuing to turn out pamphlets, circular letters, and broadsides, only O'Daly seemed confident. His mind was already on the future and the next task that might be undertaken after the expected affirmative vote. Writing to a friend in Killorglin on April 4, 1910, he set forth a list of points in favor of required Irish history that made clear the way in which the new university was expected to serve the Irish cause:
Most of us want to produce in Ireland a race of spirited Nationalists who'd go as far as Mitchel or Wolfe Tone if the opportunity offered. It may not be politic to talk of this openly in discussing the terms of the university curriculum as this would frighten the Bishops altogether but we should never lose sight of it ourselves. We can never hope to have a real live national agitation in the country unless the spirit of freedom animates our people.
Hyde was included in the "we" for whom O'Daly spoke. "In the forefront for liberty" were the women and men who had joined him in increasing numbers since 1893. Until now their only national university had been the Gaelic League.
On June 18, 1910, the front page of John Devoy's New York Gaelic American carried a three-column story under the banner headline, "Splendid Victory for Essential Irish." Hyde's resolution that would make Irish mandatory by 1913 had passed the senate's Board of Studies. The paper hailed it as "the most significant achievement in the history of the Gaelic League" and a victory that "had the moral support of the whole country." The full senate vote followed on June 23. Hyde cabled the news to Quinn who responded by cable on June 25: "Heartiest congratulations on tremendous personal victory." Even Lucy was pleased. To her, Hyde's victory was evidence of his strength in his new position at the university. At last she had what she wanted: a professorial ap-
pointment for her husband, a town house at One Earlsfort Place for herself and her children. Ratra was still home. It was where they would continue to spend summers and holidays. But from now on she would be able to look forward to enjoying the day-to-day life of the city, for which she had yearned so long.