Great George Street, Westminster, is the address of Doyle and
Broadbent, civil engineers. On the threshold one reads that the
firm consists of Mr Lawrence Doyle and Mr Thomas Broadbent, and
that their rooms are on the first floor. Most of their rooms are
private; for the partners, being bachelors and bosom friends,
live there; and the door marked Private, next the clerks' office,
is their domestic sitting room as well as their reception room
for clients. Let me describe it briefly from the point of view of
a sparrow on the window sill. The outer door is in the opposite
wall, close to the right hand corner. Between this door and the
left hand corner is a hatstand and a table consisting of large
drawing boards on trestles, with plans, rolls of tracing paper,
mathematical instruments and other draughtsman's accessories on
it. In the left hand wall is the fireplace, and the door of an
inner room between the fireplace and our observant sparrow.
Against the right hand wall is a filing cabinet, with a cupboard
on it, and, nearer, a tall office desk and stool for one person.
In the middle of the room a large double writing table is set
across, with a chair at each end for the two partners. It is a
room which no woman would tolerate, smelling of tobacco, and much
in need of repapering, repainting, and recarpeting; but this is
the effect of bachelor untidiness and indifference, not want of
means; for nothing that Doyle and Broadbent themselves have
purchased is cheap; nor is anything they want lacking. On the
walls hang a large map of South America, a pictorial
advertisement of a steamship company, an impressive portrait of
Gladstone, and several caricatures of Mr Balfour as a rabbit and
Mr Chamberlain as a fox by Francis Carruthers Gould.
At twenty minutes to five o'clock on a summer afternoon in 1904,
the room is empty. Presently the outer door is opened, and a
valet comes in laden with a large Gladstone bag, and a strap of
rugs. He carries them into the inner room. He is a respectable
valet, old enough to have lost all alacrity, and acquired an air
of putting up patiently with a great deal of trouble and
indifferent health. The luggage belongs to Broadbent, who enters
after the valet. He pulls off his overcoat and hangs it with his
hat on the stand. Then he comes to the writing table and looks
through the letters which are waiting for him. He is a robust,
full-blooded, energetic man in the prime of life, sometimes eager
and credulous, sometimes shrewd and roguish, sometimes
portentously solemn, sometimes jolly and impetuous, always
buoyant and irresistible, mostly likeable, and enormously absurd
in his most earnest moments. He bursts open his letters with his
thumb, and glances through them, flinging the envelopes about the
floor with reckless untidiness whilst he talks to the valet.
BROADBENT [calling] Hodson.
HODSON [in the bedroom] Yes sir.
BROADBENT. Don't unpack. Just take out the things I've worn; and
put in clean things.
HODSON [appearing at the bedroom door] Yes sir. [He turns to go
back into the bedroom.
BROADBENT. And look here! [Hodson turns again]. Do you remember
where I put my revolver?
HODSON. Revolver, sir? Yes sir. Mr Doyle uses it as a
paper-weight, sir, when he's drawing.
BROADBENT. Well, I want it packed. There's a packet of cartridges
somewhere, I think. Find it and pack it as well.
HODSON. Yes sir.
BROADBENT. By the way, pack your own traps too. I shall take you
with me this time.
HODSON [hesitant]. Is it a dangerous part you're going to, sir?
Should I be expected to carry a revolver, sir?
BROADBENT. Perhaps it might be as well. I'm going to Ireland.
HODSON [reassured]. Yes sir.
BROADBENT. You don't feel nervous about it, I suppose?
HODSON. Not at all, sir. I'll risk it, sir.
BROADBENT. Have you ever been in Ireland?
HODSON. No sir. I understand it's a very wet climate, sir. I'd
better pack your india-rubber overalls.
BROADBENT. Do. Where's Mr Doyle?
HODSON. I'm expecting him at five, sir. He went out after lunch.
BROADBENT. Anybody been looking for me?
HODSON. A person giving the name of Haffigan has called twice to-
BROADBENT. Oh, I'm sorry. Why didn't he wait? I told him to wait
if I wasn't in.
HODSON. Well Sir, I didn't know you expected him; so I thought it
best to--to--not to encourage him, sir.
BROADBENT. Oh, he's all right. He's an Irishman, and not very
particular about his appearance.
HODSON. Yes sir, I noticed that he was rather Irish....
BROADBENT. If he calls again let him come up.
HODSON. I think I saw him waiting about, sir, when you drove up.
Shall I fetch him, sir?
BROADBENT. Do, Hodson.
HODSON. Yes sir [He makes for the outer door].
BROADBENT. He'll want tea. Let us have some.
HODSON [stopping]. I shouldn't think he drank tea, sir.
BROADBENT. Well, bring whatever you think he'd like.
HODSON. Yes sir [An electric bell rings]. Here he is, sir. Saw
you arrive, sir.
BROADBENT. Right. Show him in. [Hodson goes out. Broadbent gets
through the rest of his letters before Hodson returns with the
HODSON. Mr Affigan.
Haffigan is a stunted, shortnecked, smallheaded, redhaired man of
about 30, with reddened nose and furtive eyes. He is dressed in
seedy black, almost clerically, and might be a tenth-rate
schoolmaster ruined by drink. He hastens to shake Broadbent's
hand with a show of reckless geniality and high spirits, helped
out by a rollicking stage brogue. This is perhaps a comfort to
himself, as he is secretly pursued by the horrors of incipient
HAFFIGAN. Tim Haffigan, sir, at your service. The top o the
mornin to you, Misther Broadbent.
BROADBENT [delighted with his Irish visitor]. Good afternoon, Mr
TIM. An is it the afthernoon it is already? Begorra, what I call
the mornin is all the time a man fasts afther breakfast.
BROADBENT. Haven't you lunched?
TIM. Divil a lunch!
BROADBENT. I'm sorry I couldn't get back from Brighton in time to
offer you some; but--
TIM. Not a word, sir, not a word. Sure it'll do tomorrow.
Besides, I'm Irish, sir: a poor ather, but a powerful dhrinker.
BROADBENT. I was just about to ring for tea when you came. Sit
down, Mr Haffigan.
TIM. Tay is a good dhrink if your nerves can stand it. Mine
Haffigan sits down at the writing table, with his back to the
filing cabinet. Broadbent sits opposite him. Hodson enters
emptyhanded; takes two glasses, a siphon, and a tantalus from the
cupboard; places them before Broadbent on the writing table;
looks ruthlessly at Haffigan, who cannot meet his eye; and
BROADBENT. Try a whisky and soda.
TIM [sobered]. There you touch the national wakeness, sir.
[Piously] Not that I share it meself. I've seen too much of the
mischief of it.
BROADBENT [pouring the whisky]. Say when.
TIM. Not too sthrong. [Broadbent stops and looks enquiringly at
him]. Say half-an-half. [Broadbent, somewhat startled by this
demand, pours a little more, and again stops and looks]. Just a
dhrain more: the lower half o the tumbler doesn't hold a fair
BROADBENT [laughing]. You Irishmen certainly do know how to
drink. [Pouring some whisky for himself] Now that's my poor
English idea of a whisky and soda.
TIM. An a very good idea it is too. Dhrink is the curse o me
unhappy counthry. I take it meself because I've a wake heart and
a poor digestion; but in principle I'm a teetoatler.
BROADBENT [suddenly solemn and strenuous]. So am I, of course.
I'm a Local Optionist to the backbone. You have no idea, Mr
Haffigan, of the ruin that is wrought in this country by the
unholy alliance of the publicans, the bishops, the Tories, and
The Times. We must close the public-houses at all costs [he
TIM. Sure I know. It's awful [he drinks]. I see you're a good
Liberal like meself, sir.
BROADBENT. I am a lover of liberty, like every true Englishman,
Mr Haffigan. My name is Broadbent. If my name were Breitstein,
and I had a hooked nose and a house in Park Lane, I should carry
a Union Jack handkerchief and a penny trumpet, and tax the food
of the people to support the Navy League, and clamor for the
destruction of the last remnants of national liberty--
TIM. Not another word. Shake hands.
BROADBENT. But I should like to explain--
TIM. Sure I know every word you're goin to say before yev said
it. I know the sort o man yar. An so you're thinkin o comin to
Ireland for a bit?
BROADBENT. Where else can I go? I am an Englishman and a Liberal;
and now that South Africa has been enslaved and destroyed, there
is no country left to me to take an interest in but Ireland.
Mind: I don't say that an Englishman has not other duties. He has
a duty to Finland and a duty to Macedonia. But what sane man can
deny that an Englishman's first duty is his duty to Ireland?
Unfortunately, we have politicians here more unscrupulous than
Bobrikoff, more bloodthirsty than Abdul the Damned; and it is
under their heel that Ireland is now writhing.
TIM. Faith, they've reckoned up with poor oul Bobrikoff anyhow.
BROADBENT. Not that I defend assassination: God forbid! However
strongly we may feel that the unfortunate and patriotic young man
who avenged the wrongs of Finland on the Russian tyrant was
perfectly right from his own point of view, yet every civilized
man must regard murder with abhorrence. Not even in defence of
Free Trade would I lift my hand against a political opponent,
however richly he might deserve it.
TIM. I'm sure you wouldn't; and I honor you for it. You're goin
to Ireland, then, out o sympithy: is it?
BROADBENT. I'm going to develop an estate there for the Land
Development Syndicate, in which I am interested. I am convinced
that all it needs to make it pay is to handle it properly, as
estates are handled in England. You know the English plan, Mr
Haffigan, don't you?
TIM. Bedad I do, sir. Take all you can out of Ireland and spend
it in England: that's it.
BROADBENT [not quite liking this]. My plan, sir, will be to take
a little money out of England and spend it in Ireland.
TIM. More power to your elbow! an may your shadda never be less!
for you're the broth of a boy intirely. An how can I help you?
Command me to the last dhrop o me blood.
BROADBENT. Have you ever heard of Garden City?
TIM [doubtfully]. D'ye mane Heavn?
BROADBENT. Heaven! No: it's near Hitchin. If you can spare half
an hour I'll go into it with you.
TIM. I tell you hwat. Gimme a prospectus. Lemme take it home and
reflect on it.
BROADBENT. You're quite right: I will. [He gives him a copy of Mr
Ebenezer Howard's book, and several pamphlets]. You understand
that the map of the city--the circular construction--is only a
TIM. I'll make a careful note o that [looking dazedly at the
BROADBENT. What I say is, why not start a Garden City in Ireland?
TIM [with enthusiasm]. That's just what was on the tip o me
tongue to ask you. Why not? [Defiantly] Tell me why not.
BROADBENT. There are difficulties. I shall overcome them; but
there are difficulties. When I first arrive in Ireland I shall be
hated as an Englishman. As a Protestant, I shall be denounced
from every altar. My life may be in danger. Well, I am prepared
to face that.
TIM. Never fear, sir. We know how to respict a brave innimy.
BROADBENT. What I really dread is misunderstanding. I think you
could help me to avoid that. When I heard you speak the other
evening in Bermondsey at the meeting of the National League, I
saw at once that you were--You won't mind my speaking frankly?
TIM. Tell me all me faults as man to man. I can stand anything
BROADBENT. May I put it in this way?--that I saw at once that you
were a thorough Irishman, with all the faults and all, the
qualities of your race: rash and improvident but brave and
goodnatured; not likely to succeed in business on your own
account perhaps, but eloquent, humorous, a lover of freedom, and
a true follower of that great Englishman Gladstone.
TIM. Spare me blushes. I mustn't sit here to be praised to me
face. But I confess to the goodnature: it's an Irish wakeness.
I'd share me last shillin with a friend.
BROADBENT. I feel sure you would, Mr Haffigan.
TIM [impulsively]. Damn it! call me Tim. A man that talks about
Ireland as you do may call me anything. Gimme a howlt o that
whisky bottle [he replenishes].
BROADBENT [smiling indulgently]. Well, Tim, will you come with me
and help to break the ice between me and your warmhearted,
TIM. Will I come to Madagascar or Cochin China wid you? Bedad
I'll come to the North Pole wid you if yll pay me fare; for the
divil a shillin I have to buy
a third class ticket.
BROADBENT. I've not forgotten that, Tim. We must put that little
matter on a solid English footing, though the rest can be as
Irish as you please. You must come as my--my--well, I hardly know
what to call it. If we call you my agent, they'll shoot you. If
we call you a bailiff, they'll duck you in the horsepond. I have
a secretary already; and--
TIM. Then we'll call him the Home Secretary and me the Irish
BROADBENT [laughing industriously]. Capital. Your Irish wit has
settled the first difficulty. Now about your salary--
TIM. A salary, is it? Sure I'd do it for nothin, only me cloes ud
disgrace you; and I'd be dhriven to borra money from your
friends: a thing that's agin me nacher. But I won't take a penny
more than a hundherd a year. [He looks with restless cunning at
Broadbent, trying to guess how far he may go].
BROADBENT. If that will satisfy you--
TIM [more than reassured]. Why shouldn't it satisfy me? A
hundherd a year is twelve-pound a month, isn't it?
BROADBENT. No. Eight pound six and eightpence.
TIM. Oh murdher! An I'll have to sind five timme poor oul mother
in Ireland. But no matther: I said a hundherd; and what I said
I'll stick to, if I have to starve for it.
BROADBENT [with business caution]. Well, let us say twelve pounds
for the first month. Afterwards, we shall see how we get on.
TIM. You're a gentleman, sir. Whin me mother turns up her toes,
you shall take the five pounds off; for your expinses must be kep
down wid a sthrong hand; an--[He is interrupted by the arrival of
Mr Laurence Doyle is a man of 36, with cold grey eyes, strained
nose, fine fastidious lips, critical brown, clever head, rather
refined and goodlooking on the whole, but with a suggestion of
thinskinedness and dissatisfaction that contrasts strongly with
Broadbent's eupeptic jollity.
He comes in as a man at home there, but on seeing the stranger
shrinks at once, and is about to withdraw when Broadbent
reassures him. He then comes forward to the table, between the
DOYLE [retreating]. You're engaged.
BROADBENT. Not at all, not at all. Come in. [To Tim] This
gentleman is a friend who lives with me here: my partner, Mr
Doyle. [To Doyle] This is a new Irish friend of mine, Mr Tim
TIM [rising with effusion]. Sure it's meself that's proud to meet
any friend o Misther Broadbent's. The top o the mornin to you,
sir! Me heart goes out teeye both. It's not often I meet two such
splendid speciments iv the Anglo-Saxon race.
BROADBENT [chuckling] Wrong for once, Tim. My friend Mr Doyle is
a countryman of yours.
Tim is noticeably dashed by this announcement. He draws in his
horns at once, and scowls suspiciously at Doyle under a vanishing
mark of goodfellowship: cringing a little, too, in mere nerveless
fear of him.
DOYLE [with cool disgust]. Good evening. [He retires to the
fireplace, and says to Broadbent in a tone which conveys the
strongest possible hint to Haffigan that he is unwelcome] Will
you soon be disengaged?
TIM [his brogue decaying into a common would-be genteel accent
with an unexpected strain of Glasgow in it]. I must be going.
Ivnmportnt engeegement in the west end.
BROADBENT [rising]. It's settled, then, that you come with me.
TIM. Ish'll be verra pleased to accompany ye, sir.
BROADBENT. But how soon? Can you start tonight--from Paddington?
We go by Milford Haven.
TIM [hesitating]. Well--I'm afreed--I [Doyle goes abruptly into
the bedroom, slamming the door and shattering the last remnant of
Tim's nerve. The poor wretch saves himself from bursting into
tears by plunging again into his role of daredevil Irishman. He
rushes to Broadbent; plucks at his sleeve with trembling fingers;
and pours forth his entreaty with all the brogue be can muster,
subduing his voice lest Doyle should hear and return]. Misther
Broadbent: don't humiliate me before a fella counthryman. Look
here: me cloes is up the spout. Gimme a fypounnote--I'll pay ya
nex choosda whin me ship comes home--or you can stop it out o me
month's sallery. I'll be on the platform at Paddnton punctial an
ready. Gimme it quick, before he comes back. You won't mind me
axin, will ye?
BROADBENT. Not at all. I was about to offer you an advance for
travelling expenses. [He gives him a bank note].
TIM [pocketing it]. Thank you. I'll be there half an hour before
the thrain starts. [Larry is heard at the bedroom door,
returning]. Whisht: he's comin back. Goodbye an God bless ye. [He
hurries out almost crying, the 5 pound note and all the drink it
means to him being too much for his empty stomach and
DOYLE [returning]. Where the devil did you pick up that seedy
swindler? What was he doing here? [He goes up to the table where
the plans are, and makes a note on one of them, referring to his
pocket book as he does so].
BROADBENT. There you go! Why are you so down on every Irishman
you meet, especially if he's a bit shabby? poor devil! Surely a
fellow-countryman may pass you the top of the morning without
offence, even if his coat is a bit shiny at the seams.
DOYLE [contemptuously]. The top of the morning! Did he call you
the broth of a boy? [He comes to the writing table].
BROADBENT [triumphantly]. Yes.
DOYLE. And wished you more power to your elbow?
BROADBENT. He did.
DOYLE. And that your shadow might never be less?
DOYLE [taking up the depleted whisky bottle and shaking his head
at it]. And he got about half a pint of whisky out of you.
BROADBENT. It did him no harm. He never turned a hair.
DOYLE. How much money did he borrow?
BROADBENT. It was not borrowing exactly. He showed a very
honorable spirit about money. I believe he would share his last
shilling with a friend.
DOYLE. No doubt he would share his friend's last shilling if his
friend was fool enough to let him. How much did he touch you for?
BROADBENT. Oh, nothing. An advance on his salary--for travelling
DOYLE. Salary! In Heaven's name, what for?
BROADBENT. For being my Home Secretary, as he very wittily called
DOYLE. I don't see the joke.
BROADBENT. You can spoil any joke by being cold blooded about it.
I saw it all right when he said it. It was something--something
really very amusing--about the Home Secretary and the Irish
Secretary. At all events, he's evidently the very man to take
with me to Ireland to break the ice for me. He can gain the
confidence of the people there, and make them friendly to me. Eh?
[He seats himself on the office stool, and tilts it back so that
the edge of the standing desk supports his back and prevents his
DOYLE. A nice introduction, by George! Do you suppose the whole
population of Ireland consists of drunken begging letter writers,
or that even if it did, they would accept one another as
BROADBENT. Pooh! nonsense! He's only an Irishman. Besides, you
don't seriously suppose that Haffigan can humbug me, do you?
DOYLE. No: he's too lazy to take the trouble. All he has to do is
to sit there and drink your whisky while you humbug yourself.
However, we needn't argue about Haffigan, for two reasons. First,
with your money in his pocket he will never reach Paddington:
there are too many public houses on the way. Second, he's not an
Irishman at all.
BROADBENT. Not an Irishman! [He is so amazed by the statement
that he straightens himself and brings the stool bolt upright].
DOYLE. Born in Glasgow. Never was in Ireland in his life. I know
all about him.
BROADBENT. But he spoke--he behaved just like an Irishman.
DOYLE. Like an Irishman!! Is it possible that you don't know that
all this top-o-the-morning and broth-of-a-boy and more-power-to-
your-elbow business is as peculiar to England as the Albert Hall
concerts of Irish music are? No Irishman ever talks like that in
Ireland, or ever did, or ever will. But when a thoroughly
worthless Irishman comes to England, and finds the whole place
full of romantic duffers like you, who will let him loaf and
drink and sponge and brag as long as he flatters your sense of
moral superiority by playing the fool and degrading himself and
his country, he soon learns the antics that take you in. He picks
them up at the theatre or the music hall. Haffigan learnt the
rudiments from his father, who came from my part of Ireland. I
knew his uncles, Matt and Andy Haffigan of Rosscullen.
BROADBENT [still incredulous]. But his brogue!
DOYLE. His brogue! A fat lot you know about brogues! I've heard
you call a Dublin accent that you could hang your hat on, a
brogue. Heaven help you! you don't know the difference between
Connemara and Rathmines. [With violent irritation] Oh, damn Tim
Haffigan! Let's drop the subject: he's not worth wrangling about.
BROADBENT. What's wrong with you today, Larry? Why are you so
Doyle looks at him perplexedly; comes slowly to the writing
table; and sits down at the end next the fireplace before
DOYLE. Well: your letter completely upset me, for one thing.
LARRY. Your foreclosing this Rosscullen mortgage and turning poor
Nick Lestrange out of house and home has rather taken me aback;
for I liked the old rascal when I was a boy and had the run of
his park to play in. I was brought up on the property.
BROADBENT. But he wouldn't pay the interest. I had to foreclose
on behalf of the Syndicate. So now I'm off to Rosscullen to look
after the property myself. [He sits down at the writing table
opposite Larry, and adds, casually, but with an anxious glance at
his partner] You're coming with me, of course?
DOYLE [rising nervously and recommencing his restless movements].
That's it. That's what I dread. That's what has upset me.
BROADBENT. But don't you want to see your country again after 18
years absence? to see your people, to be in the old home again?
DOYLE [interrupting him very impatiently]. Yes, yes: I know all
that as well as you do.
BROADBENT. Oh well, of course [with a shrug] if you take it in
that way, I'm sorry.
DOYLE. Never you mind my temper: it's not meant for you, as you
ought to know by this time. [He sits down again, a little ashamed
of his petulance; reflects a moment bitterly; then bursts out] I
have an instinct against going back to Ireland: an instinct so
strong that I'd rather go with you to the South Pole than to
BROADBENT. What! Here you are, belonging to a nation with the
strongest patriotism! the most inveterate homing instinct in the
world! and you pretend you'd rather go anywhere than back to
Ireland. You don't suppose I believe you, do you? In your heart--
DOYLE. Never mind my heart: an Irishman's heart is nothing but
his imagination. How many of all those millions that have left
Ireland have ever come back or wanted to come back? But what's
the use of talking to you? Three verses of twaddle about the
Irish emigrant "sitting on the stile, Mary," or three hours of
Irish patriotism in Bermondsey or the Scotland Division of
Liverpool, go further with you than all the facts that stare you
in the face. Why, man alive, look at me! You know the way I nag,
and worry, and carp, and cavil, and disparage, and am never
satisfied and never quiet, and try the patience of my best
BROADBENT. Oh, come, Larry! do yourself justice. You're very
amusing and agreeable to strangers.
DOYLE. Yes, to strangers. Perhaps if I was a bit stiffer to
strangers, and a bit easier at home, like an Englishman, I'd be
better company for you.
BROADBENT. We get on well enough. Of course you have the
melancholy of the Celtic race--
DOYLE [bounding out of his chair] Good God!!!
BROADBENT [slyly]--and also its habit of using strong language
when there's nothing the matter.
DOYLE. Nothing the matter! When people talk about the Celtic
race, I feel as if I could burn down London. That sort of rot
does more harm than ten Coercion Acts. Do you suppose a man need
be a Celt to feel melancholy in Rosscullen? Why, man, Ireland was
peopled just as England was; and its breed was crossed by just
the same invaders.
BROADBENT. True. All the capable people in Ireland are of English
extraction. It has often struck me as a most remarkable
circumstance that the only party in parliament which shows the
genuine old English character and spirit is the Irish party. Look
at its independence, its determination, its defiance of bad
Governments, its sympathy with oppressed nationalities all the
world over! How English!
DOYLE. Not to mention the solemnity with which it talks old-
fashioned nonsense which it knows perfectly well to be a century
behind the times. That's English, if you like.
BROADBENT. No, Larry, no. You are thinking of the modern hybrids
that now monopolize England. Hypocrites, humbugs, Germans, Jews,
Yankees, foreigners, Park Laners, cosmopolitan riffraff. Don't
call them English. They don't belong to the dear old island, but
to their confounded new empire; and by George! they're worthy of
it; and I wish them joy of it.
DOYLE [unmoved by this outburst]. There! You feel better now,
BROADBENT [defiantly]. I do. Much better.
DOYLE. My dear Tom, you only need a touch of the Irish climate to
be as big a fool as I am myself. If all my Irish blood were
poured into your veins, you wouldn't turn a hair of your
constitution and character. Go and marry the most English
Englishwoman you can find, and then bring up your son in
Rosscullen; and that son's character will be so like mine and so
unlike yours that everybody will accuse me of being his father.
[With sudden anguish] Rosscullen! oh, good Lord, Rosscullen! The
dullness! the hopelessness! the ignorance! the bigotry!
BROADBENT [matter-of-factly]. The usual thing in the country,
Larry. Just the same here.
DOYLE [hastily]. No, no: the climate is different. Here, if the
life is dull, you can be dull too, and no great harm done. [Going
off into a passionate dream] But your wits can't thicken in that
soft moist air, on those white springy roads, in those misty
rushes and brown bogs, on those hillsides of granite rocks and
magenta heather. You've no such colors in the sky, no such lure
in the distances, no such sadness in the evenings. Oh, the
dreaming! the dreaming! the torturing, heartscalding, never
satisfying dreaming, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming! [Savagely] No
debauchery that ever coarsened and brutalized an Englishman can
take the worth and usefulness out of him like that dreaming. An
Irishman's imagination never lets him alone, never convinces him,
never satisfies him; but it makes him that he can't face reality
nor deal with it nor handle it nor conquer it: he can only sneer
at them that do, and [bitterly, at Broadbent] be "agreeable to
strangers," like a good-for-nothing woman on the streets.
[Gabbling at Broadbent across the table] It's all dreaming, all
imagination. He can't be religious. The inspired Churchman that
teaches him the sanctity of life and the importance of conduct is
sent away empty; while the poor village priest that gives him a
miracle or a sentimental story of a saint, has cathedrals built
for him out of the pennies of the poor. He can't be intelligently
political, he dreams of what the Shan Van Vocht said in ninety-
eight. If you want to interest him in Ireland you've got to call
the unfortunate island Kathleen ni Hoolihan and pretend she's a
little old woman. It saves thinking. It saves working. It saves
everything except imagination, imagination, imagination; and
imagination's such a torture that you can't bear it without
whisky. [With fierce shivering self-contempt] At last you get
that you can bear nothing real at all: you'd rather starve than
cook a meal; you'd rather go shabby and dirty than set your mind
to take care of your clothes and wash yourself; you nag and
squabble at home because your wife isn't an angel, and she
despises you because you're not a hero; and you hate the whole
lot round you because they're only poor slovenly useless devils
like yourself. [Dropping his voice like a man making some
shameful confidence] And all the while there goes on a horrible,
senseless, mischievous laughter. When you're young, you exchange
drinks with other young men; and you exchange vile stories with
them; and as you're too futile to be able to help or cheer them,
you chaff and sneer and taunt them for not doing the things you
daren't do yourself. And all the time you laugh, laugh, laugh!
eternal derision, eternal envy, eternal folly, eternal fouling
and staining and degrading, until, when you come at last to a
country where men take a question seriously and give a serious
answer to it, you deride them for having no sense of humor, and
plume yourself on your own worthlessness as if it made you better
BROADBENT [roused to intense earnestness by Doyle's eloquence].
Never despair, Larry. There are great possibilities for Ireland.
Home Rule will work wonders under English guidance.
DOYLE [pulled up short, his face twitching with a reluctant
smile]. Tom: why do you select my most tragic moments for your
most irresistible strokes of humor?
BROADBENT. Humor! I was perfectly serious. What do you mean? Do
you doubt my seriousness about Home Rule?
DOYLE. I am sure you are serious, Tom, about the English
BROADBENT [quite reassured]. Of course I am. Our guidance is the
important thing. We English must place our capacity for
government without stint at the service of nations who are less
fortunately endowed in that respect; so as to allow them to
develop in perfect freedom to the English level of
self-government, you know. You understand me?
DOYLE. Perfectly. And Rosscullen will understand you too.
BROADBENT [cheerfully]. Of course it will. So that's all right.
[He pulls up his chair and settles himself comfortably to lecture
Doyle]. Now, Larry, I've listened carefully to all you've said
about Ireland; and I can see nothing whatever to prevent your
coming with me. What does it all come to? Simply that you were
only a young fellow when you were in Ireland. You'll find all
that chaffing and drinking and not knowing what to be at in
Peckham just the same as in Donnybrook. You looked at Ireland
with a boy's eyes and saw only boyish things. Come back with me
and look at it with a man's, and get a better opinion of your
DOYLE. I daresay you're partly right in that: at all events I
know very well that if I had been the son of a laborer instead of
the son of a country landagent, I should have struck more grit
than I did. Unfortunately I'm not going back to visit the Irish
nation, but to visit my father and Aunt Judy and Nora Reilly and
Father Dempsey and the rest of them.
BROADBENT. Well, why not? They'll be delighted to see you, now
that England has made a man of you.
DOYLE [struck by this]. Ah! you hit the mark there, Tom, with
true British inspiration.
BROADBENT. Common sense, you mean.
DOYLE [quickly]. No I don't: you've no more common sense than a
gander. No Englishman has any common sense, or ever had, or ever
will have. You're going on a sentimental expedition for perfectly
ridiculous reasons, with your head full of political nonsense
that would not take in any ordinarily intelligent donkey; but you
can hit me in the eye with the simple truth about myself and my
BROADBENT [amazed]. I never mentioned your father.
DOYLE [not heeding the interruption]. There he is in Rosscullen,
a landagent who's always been in a small way because he's a
Catholic, and the landlords are mostly Protestants. What with
land courts reducing rents and Land Acts turning big estates into
little holdings, he'd be a beggar this day if he hadn't bought
his own little farm under the Land Purchase Act. I doubt if he's
been further from home than Athenmullet for the last twenty
years. And here am I, made a man of, as you say, by England.
BROADBENT [apologetically]. I assure you I never meant--
DOYLE. Oh, don't apologize: it's quite true. I daresay I've
learnt something in America and a few other remote and inferior
spots; but in the main it is by living with you and working in
double harness with you that I have learnt to live in a real
world and not in an imaginary one. I owe more to you than to any
BROADBENT [shaking his head with a twinkle in his eye]. Very
friendly of you, Larry, old man, but all blarney. I like blarney;
but it's rot, all the same.
DOYLE. No it's not. I should never have done anything without
you; although I never stop wondering at that blessed old head of
yours with all its ideas in watertight compartments, and all the
compartments warranted impervious to anything that it doesn't
suit you to understand.
BROADBENT [invincible]. Unmitigated rot, Larry, I assure you.
DOYLE. Well, at any rate you will admit that all my friends are
either Englishmen or men of the big world that belongs to the big
Powers. All the serious part of my life has been lived in that
atmosphere: all the serious part of my work has been done with
men of that sort. Just think of me as I am now going back to
Rosscullen! to that hell of littleness and monotony! How am I to
get on with a little country landagent that ekes out his 5 per
cent with a little farming and a scrap of house property in the
nearest country town? What am I to say to him? What is he to say
BROADBFNT [scandalized]. But you're father and son, man!
DOYLE. What difference does that make? What would you say if I
proposed a visit to YOUR father?
BROADBENT [with filial rectitude]. I always made a point of going
to see my father regularly until his mind gave way.
DOYLE [concerned]. Has he gone mad? You never told me.
BROADBENT. He has joined the Tariff Reform League. He would never
have done that if his mind had not been weakened. [Beginning to
declaim] He has fallen a victim to the arts of a political
DOYLE [interrupting him]. You mean that you keep clear of your
father because he differs from you about Free Trade, and you
don't want to quarrel with him. Well, think of me and my father!
He's a Nationalist and a Separatist. I'm a metallurgical chemist
turned civil engineer. Now whatever else metallurgical chemistry
may be, it's not national. It's international. And my business
and yours as civil engineers is to join countries, not to
separate them. The one real political conviction that our
business has rubbed into us is that frontiers are hindrances and
flags confounded nuisances.
BROADBENT [still smarting under Mr Chamberlain's economic
heresy]. Only when there is a protective tariff--
DOYLE [firmly] Now look here, Tom: you want to get in a speech on
Free Trade; and you're not going to do it: I won't stand it. My
father wants to make St George's Channel a frontier and hoist a
green flag on College Green; and I want to bring Galway within 3
hours of Colchester and 24 of New York. I want Ireland to be the
brains and imagination of a big Commonwealth, not a Robinson
Crusoe island. Then there's the religious difficulty. My
Catholicism is the Catholicism of Charlemagne or Dante, qualified
by a great deal of modern science and folklore which Father
Dempsey would call the ravings of an Atheist. Well, my father's
Catholicism is the Catholicism of Father Dempsey.
BROADBENT [shrewdly]. I don't want to interrupt you, Larry; but
you know this is all gammon. These differences exist in all
families; but the members rub on together all right. [Suddenly
relapsing into portentousness] Of course there are some questions
which touch the very foundations of morals; and on these I grant
you even the closest relationships cannot excuse any compromise
or laxity. For instance--
DOYLE [impatiently springing up and walking about]. For instance,
Home Rule, South Africa, Free Trade, and the Education Rate.
Well, I should differ from my father on every one of them,
probably, just as I differ from you about them.
BROADBENT. Yes; but you are an Irishman; and these things are not
serious to you as they are to an Englishman.
DOYLE. What! not even Home Rule!
BROADBENT [steadfastly]. Not even Home Rule. We owe Home Rule not
to the Irish, but to our English Gladstone. No, Larry: I can't
help thinking that there's something behind all this.
DOYLE [hotly]. What is there behind it? Do you think I'm
BROADBENT. Don't fly out at me, old chap. I only thought--
DOYLE. What did you think?
BROADBENT. Well, a moment ago I caught a name which is new to me:
a Miss Nora Reilly, I think. [Doyle stops dead and stares at him
with something like awe]. I don't wish to be impertinent, as you
know, Larry; but are you sure she has nothing to do with your
reluctance to come to Ireland with me?
DOYLE [sitting down again, vanquished]. Thomas Broadbent: I
surrender. The poor silly-clever Irishman takes off his hat to
God's Englishman. The man who could in all seriousness make that
recent remark of yours about Home Rule and Gladstone must be
simply the champion idiot of all the world. Yet the man who could
in the very next sentence sweep away all my special pleading and
go straight to the heart of my motives must be a man of genius.
But that the idiot and the genius should be the same man! how is
that possible? [Springing to his feet] By Jove, I see it all now.
I'll write an article about it, and send it to Nature.
BROADBENT [staring at him]. What on earth--
DOYLE. It's quite simple. You know that a
BROADBENT. A caterpillar!!!
DOYLE. Yes, a caterpillar. Now give your mind to what I am going
to say; for it's a new and important scientific theory of the
English national character. A caterpillar--
BROADBENT. Look here, Larry: don't be an ass.
DOYLE [insisting]. I say a caterpillar and I mean a caterpillar.
You'll understand presently. A caterpillar [Broadbent mutters a
slight protest, but does not press it] when it gets into a tree,
instinctively makes itself look exactly like a leaf; so that both
its enemies and its prey may mistake it for one and think it not
worth bothering about.
BROADBENT. What's that got to do with our English national
DOYLE. I'll tell you. The world is as full of fools as a tree is
full of leaves. Well, the Englishman does what the caterpillar
does. He instinctively makes himself look like a fool, and eats
up all the real fools at his ease while his enemies let him alone
and laugh at him for being a fool like the rest. Oh, nature is
cunning, cunning! [He sits down, lost in contemplation of his
BROADBENT [with hearty admiration]. Now you know, Larry, that
would never have occurred to me. You Irish people are amazingly
clever. Of course it's all tommy rot; but it's so brilliant, you
know! How the dickens do you think of such things! You really
must write an article about it: they'll pay you something for it.
If Nature won't have it, I can get it into Engineering for you: I
know the editor.
DOYLE. Let's get back to business. I'd better tell you about Nora
BROADBENT. No: never mind. I shouldn't have alluded to her.
DOYLE. I'd rather. Nora has a fortune.
BROADBENT [keenly interested]. Eh? How much?
DOYLE. Forty per annum.
BROADBENT. Forty thousand?
DOYLE. No, forty. Forty pounds.
BROADBENT [much dashed.] That's what you call a fortune in
Rosscullen, is it?
DOYLE. A girl with a dowry of five pounds calls it a fortune in
Rosscullen. What's more 40 pounds a year IS a fortune there; and
Nora Reilly enjoys a good deal of social consideration as an
heiress on the strength of it. It has helped my father's
household through many a tight place. My father was her father's
agent. She came on a visit to us when he died, and has lived with
us ever since.
BROADBENT [attentively, beginning to suspect Larry of misconduct
with Nora, and resolving to get to the bottom of it]. Since when?
I mean how old were you when she came?
DOYLE. I was seventeen. So was she: if she'd been older she'd
have had more sense than to stay with us. We were together for 18
months before I went up to Dublin to study. When I went home for
Christmas and Easter, she was there: I suppose it used to be
something of an event for her, though of course I never thought
of that then.
BROADBENT. Were you at all hard hit?
DOYLE. Not really. I had only two ideas at that time, first, to
learn to do something; and then to get out of Ireland and have a
chance of doing it. She didn't count. I was romantic about her,
just as I was romantic about Byron's heroines or the old Round
Tower of Rosscullen; but she didn't count any more than they did.
I've never crossed St George's Channel since for her sake--never
even landed at Queenstown and come back to London through
BROADBENT. But did you ever say anything that would justify her
in waiting for you?
DOYLE. No, never. But she IS waiting for me.
BROADBENT. How do you know?
DOYLE. She writes to me--on her birthday. She used to write on
mine, and send me little things as presents; but I stopped that
by pretending that it was no use when I was travelling, as they
got lost in the foreign post-offices. [He pronounces post-offices
with the stress on offices, instead of on post].
BROADBENT. You answer the letters?
DOYLE. Not very punctually. But they get acknowledged at one time
BROADBENT. How do you feel when you see her handwriting?
DOYLE. Uneasy. I'd give 50 pounds to escape a letter.
BROADBENT [looking grave, and throwing himself back in his chair
to intimate that the cross-examination is over, and the result
very damaging to the witness] Hm!
DOYLE. What d'ye mean by Hm!?
BROADBENT. Of course I know that the moral code is different in
Ireland. But in England it's not considered fair to trifle with a
DOYLE. You mean that an Englishman would get engaged to another
woman and return Nora her letters and presents with a letter to
say he was unworthy of her and wished her every happiness?
BROADBENT. Well, even that would set the poor girl's mind at
DOYLE. Would it? I wonder! One thing I can tell you; and that is
that Nora would wait until she died of old age sooner than ask my
intentions or condescend to hint at the possibility of my having
any. You don't know what Irish pride is. England may have knocked
a good deal of it out of me; but she's never been in England; and
if I had to choose between wounding that delicacy in her and
hitting her in the face, I'd hit her in the face without a
BROADBENT [who has been nursing his knee and reflecting,
apparently rather agreeably]. You know, all this sounds rather
interesting. There's the Irish charm about it. That's the worst
of you: the Irish charm doesn't exist for you.
DOYLE. Oh yes it does. But it's the charm of a dream. Live in
contact with dreams and you will get something of their charm:
live in contact with facts and you will get something of their
brutality. I wish I could find a country to live in where the
facts were not brutal and the dreams not unreal.
BROADBENT [changing his attitude and responding to Doyle's
earnestness with deep conviction: his elbows on the table and his
hands clenched]. Don't despair, Larry, old boy: things may look
black; but there will be a great change after the next election.
DOYLE [jumping up]. Oh get out, you idiot!
BROADBENT [rising also, not a bit snubbed]. Ha! ha! you may
laugh; but we shall see. However, don't let us argue about that.
Come now! you ask my advice about Miss Reilly?
DOYLE [reddening]. No I don't. Damn your advice! [Softening]
Let's have it, all the same.
BROADBENT. Well, everything you tell me about her impresses me
favorably. She seems to have the feelings of a lady; and though
we must face the fact that in England her income would hardly
maintain her in the lower middle class--
DOYLE [interrupting]. Now look here, Tom. That reminds me. When
you go to Ireland, just drop talking about the middle class and
bragging of belonging to it. In Ireland you're either a gentleman
or you're not. If you want to be particularly offensive to Nora,
you can call her a Papist; but if you call her a middle-class
woman, Heaven help you!
BROADBENT [irrepressible]. Never fear. You're all descended from
the ancient kings: I know that. [Complacently] I'm not so
tactless as you think, my boy. [Earnest again] I expect to find
Miss Reilly a perfect lady; and I strongly advise you to come and
have another look at her before you make up your mind about her.
By the way, have you a photograph of her?
DOYLE. Her photographs stopped at twenty-five.
BROADBENT [saddened]. Ah yes, I suppose so. [With feeling,
severely] Larry: you've treated that poor girl disgracefully.
DOYLE. By George, if she only knew that two men were talking
about her like this--!
BROADBENT. She wouldn't like it, would she? Of course not. We
ought to be ashamed of ourselves, Larry. [More and more carried
away by his new fancy]. You know, I have a sort of presentiment
that Miss Really is a very superior woman.
DOYLE [staring hard at him]. Oh you have, have you?
BROADBENT. Yes I have. There is something very touching about the
history of this beautiful girl.
DOYLE. Beau--! Oho! Here's a chance for Nora! and for me!
HODSON [appearing at the bedroom door]. Did you call, sir?
DOYLE. Pack for me too. I'm going to Ireland with Mr Broadbent.
HODSON. Right, sir. [He retires into the bedroom.]
BROADBENT [clapping Doyle on the shoulder]. Thank you, old chap.