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the Fenians. The alliance was never successful. The stranger did not like the Irish; the Irish did not take to the stranger. Their ways were different. The Irish people, and more especially the Irish peasantry, failed altogether to be captivated by the prospect of the “democratic and social republic." They did not even understand what was meant by the vague grandeur of the phraseology which describes the supposed common cause as “the Revolution.'' Eloquence about the solidarity of peoples was lost on them. The most extreme of them only dreamed of the indepen. dence of Ireland; they had no ambition to bear a part in a general pulling down of old institutions.
The phenomena of the Fenian movement did not fail to impress some statesmanlike minds in England. There were some public men who saw that the time had come when mere repression must no longer be relied upon as a cure for Irish discontent. We know since that time that even the worst excesses of the movement impressed the mind of Mr. Gladstone with a conviction that the hour was appropriate for doing something to remove the causes of the discontent that made Ireland restless. The impatient and silly nurse tries to stop the child's crying by beating it; a more careful and intelligent person makes a prompt investigation, and finds that a pin is sticking into the little sufferer. The English government had for a long time been the stupid nurse of the crying child. They had tried threatening words and quick blows. The cry of complaint still was heard. It occurred at last to some men of responsible authority to seek out the cause and quietly try to remove it. While many public instructors lost themselves in vain shriekings over the wickedness of Fenianism and the incurable perversity of the Irish people, one statesman was already convinced that the very shock of the Fenian agitation would arouse public attention to the recognition of substantial grievance, and to the admission that the business of statesmanship was to seek out the remedy and provide redress.
ENGLISH society was much distressed and disturbed
cruel, and of a conspiracy more odious and alarming in its purpose, than any that could be ascribed to the Fenian movement. It began to be common talk that among the trades-associations there was systematic terrorizing of the worst kind, and that a Vehmgericht more secret and more grim than any known to the Middle Ages was issuing its sentences in many of our great industrial communities. Ordinary intimidation had long been regarded as one of the means by which some of trades-unions kept their principles in force. Now, however, it was common report that secret assassination was in many cases the doom of those who brought on themselves the wrath of the trades-unions. For many years the great town of Sheffield had had a special notoriety in consequence of the outrages of the kind that were believed to be committed there. When a workman had made himself obnoxious to the leaders of some local trades-union, it occasionally happened that some sudden and signal misfortune befell him. Perhaps his house was set on fire; perhaps a canister of gunpowder was exploded under his windows, or some rudely constructed infernal machine was flung into his bedroom at midnight. The man himself, supposing him to have escaped with his life, felt convinced that in the attempt to destroy him he saw the hand of the
union; his neighbors were of his opinion; but it sometimes happened, neverthleess, that there was no possibility of bringing home the charge upon evidence that could satisfy a criminal court. The comparative impunity which such crimes were enabled to secure made the perpetrators of them feel more and more safe in their enterprises; and the result was that outrages began to increase in atrocity, boldness, and numbers. The employers offered large rewards for the discovery of the offenders; the government did the same; but not much came of the offers. The employers charged the local trades-unions with being the authors of all the crimes; the officials of the unions distinctly and indignantly denied the charge. In some instances they did more. They offered on their own account a reward for the detection of the criininals, in order that their own innocence might thereby be established once for all in the face of day. At a public meeting held in Sheffield to express public opinion on the subject, the secretary of one of the local unions, a man named Broadhead, spoke out with indignant and vehement eloquence in denunciation of the crimes, and in protest against the insinuation that they were sanctioned by the authority or done with the connivance of the tradesorganization. Most persons who read the report of the meeting were much impressed with the earnestness of Broad. head; and even among those who had no sympathy with the principles of unionism there were not a few who were of opinion that Broadhead and his colleagues had been gravely wronged by the accusations made against them. On the other hand, it would seem that impartial persons who heard the speech made by Broadhead listened with a growing conviction that it was a little too virtuously indignant, and that it repudiated the idea of any appeal to force in maintaining the authority of the union somewhat more comprehensively than any recognition of known facts would warrant. At all events an appeal was made to the
government with apparently equal earnestness by the employers and by the union; and the government resolved to undertake a full investigation into the whole condition of the trades-unions. A commission was appointed, and a bill passed through Parliament enabling it to take evidence upon oath. The commissioners sent down to Sheffield three examiners, the chief of whom was Mr. Overend, a Queen's Counsel of distinction, to make inquiry as to the outrages. The examiners had authority to offer protection to any one, even though himself engaged in the commission of the outrages, who should give information which might lead to the discovery of the conspiracy. This offer had its full effect. The government were now so evidently determined to get at the root of all the evil that many of those actively engaged in the commission of the crimes took fright and believed they had best consult for their personal safety. Accordingly the commission got as much evidence as could be desired, and it was soon put beyond dispute that more than one as. sociation had systematically employed the most atrocious means to punish offenders against their self-made laws and to deter men from venturing to act in opposition to them. The saw-grinders' union in Sheffield had been particularly active in such work, and the man named William Broadhead, who had so indignantly protested the innocence of his union, was the secretary of that organization. Broadhead was proved to have ordered, arranged, and paid for the murder of at least one offender against his authority, and to have set on foot in the same way various deeds scarcely if at all less criminal. The crimes were paid for out of the funds of the union. There were gradations of outrage, ascending from what might be called mere personal annoyance up to the serious destruction of property, then to personal injury, to mutilation, and to death. "Rattening” was one of the milder forms of tyranny. The tools of obnoxious workers were destroyed; machinery was spoiled. Then the houses
of the obnoxious were blown up, or cans of explosive material were flung into them at night. In one instance a woman was blinded ; in another a woman was killed. Men were shot at with the object of so wounding them as to prevent them from carrying on their work; one man was shot at and killed. A ghastly account was given by one sufferer of the manner in which his house was set on fire at midnight by an explosive material flung in, and how the room and the bed-curtains flamed and blazed about him and his wife, and how he saved his wife with the utmost diffi. culty and at extreme risk to his own life, by tearing from her scorching body the night-dress already burning, and dropping her thus naked into the street. Broadhead himself came before the examiners and acknowledged the part he had taken in the direction of such crimes. He ex. plained how he had devised them, organized them, selected the agents by whom they were to be committed, and paid for them out of the funds of the union. The men whom he selected had sometimes no personal resentment against the victims they were bidden to mutilate or destroy. They were ordered and paid to punish men whom Broadhead con. sidered to be offenders against the authority and the interests of the union, and they did the work obediently. In Manchester a state of things was found to exist only less hideous than that which prevailed in Sheffield. It was among the brick-makers of Manchester that the chief offen. ces were committed. The clay which offending brick . makers were to use was sometimes stuffed with thousands of needles, in order to pierce and maim the hands of those who unsuspectingly went to work with it. The sheds of a master who dismissed union-men were burned with naphtha. An obnoxious man's horse was roasted to death. Many persons were shot at and wounded. Murder was done in Manchester too. Other towns were found to be not very far distant from Sheffield and Manchester in the audacity