The Irish Settlement
by Ellis Parker Butler
Our eminent jurist, Justice of the Peace Lem Hooper, after glancing over the unimportant legal document handed him by Lawyer McElroy, scratched his name on it and handed it back.
"Judge," Mr. McElroy asked, "what do you think of the way this Irish matter has been settled?"
"What say?" asked Judge Hooper.
"I said, 'What do you think of the way the Irish matter has been fixed?'" said Mr. McElroy.
"Oh, I thought you said 'settled'," said Judge Hooper. "Well, Mac, I couldn't find words to express my whole-souled admiration if I tried for a week. There were two things I was afraid of, Mac. One was that Lloyd George was going to turn Ireland loose, the way you trap-shooters let a pigeon out of the box -- turn it loose for a couple of seconds so you can up with your gun and shoot the everlasting daylights out of it. And the other thing I was afraid of was that he would rig up some plan that would take the joy of living right away from Ireland.
"He didn't do that, Mac. He's a genius. As Mark Hanna might have put it: 'God rules and the shillalah still lives.' When the Irish dollar is coined, the dove of peace may be stamped on one side, but there is still room for the black-thorn cudgel -- unbroken -- on the other.
"When I heard that Lloyd George was going to fix things, Mac, I was scared. He has the grin of a cat that has known the flavor of too many canaries, and one or two more or less mean nothing to him. I did him wrong. There is still a chance that the broken brick and the broken head may flourish in the green isle and joy be unalloyed -- except by the honest odor of arnica.
"The start was auspicious, Mac. 'Gentlemen of Ireland, one and united,' said Lloyd George -- 'One minute, please!' said Ulster; 'I object to the "united." I dissent and take exception and wish to be recorded as against everything in the agreement, from Article I to Article XVI inclusive, including race, religion and previous condition of servitude and the period at the end.' 'Gentlemen of Ireland, one and united, except Ulster -- ' said Lloyd George, always willing to oblige, and the preliminary disagreement was agreed to and put on record.
"So Mr. Griffith and the others carried the glad tidings to the Dail Eireann. 'Gentlemen of Ireland, free and united, except Ulster,' he said, 'it has been agreed --' But Mr. de Valera got up. 'One minute, please!' he said; 'before a vote is taken kindly jot me down as dissenting.' 'From what?' Mr. Griffith asked. 'From everything,' said Mr. de Valera; 'from the agreement and the disagreement and the way the delegates delegated. Make a note that the President of the Irish Republic disagrees wholesale and retail. Make a note that the Irish Republic also disagrees.'
"So Mr. Griffith tried again. 'Gentlemen of Ireland, one and united, excepting Ulster, Mr. de Valera, the President of the Irish Republic, and the Irish Republic itself, you have heard the agreement. We will now vote on it.' So the vote was taken, Mac, and the agreement was unanimously adopted."
"Unanimously?" exclaimed Mr. McElroy. "Why, judge, the vote was 64 to 57!"
"I referred to Irish unanimity, Mac," said Judge Hooper. "In Ireland anything is unanimous that splits other than fifty-fifty. So, you see, there is still hope that the joy of living will exist in Ireland as of old. There's no dissension in regard to the Free State agreement except by 57 to 64, by Ulster, by Mr. President de Valera, by the Irish Republic, and by others. The outlook is hopeful. Reports from the interior indicate that the rumor that the frost had blighted the black-thorn crop was greatly exaggerated.
"I notice by a photograph of Lloyd George taken after the signing of the Irish peace treaty that he was still smiling. He looked to me like a man that thinks this is a funny world, Mac, and no doubt someone has let him into the secret that Ireland is still a part of it.
"Well, anyway, it is a fine thing for the shamrock to be a free and equal citizen of the vegetable world once more, Mac. We all wished for that. We've all often sung heartily the sad words:
Oh, Paddy dear, and did ye hear
Th' news that's goin' 'round?
Th' shamrock is forbid by law
To grow on Irish ground.
"For ages the shamrock has been shamefully trodden under the heel of the Sassenach, Mac, and no son of Erin dared grow it except in a flowerpot in the darkest corner of wonder if every potted sprig of shamrock would be fetched out into the light of day now. A spray of shamrock in a neat pot filled with good Irish soil makes the next best missile to a brick. They may come handy.
"The wise men of Ireland should see that the best job now is growing shamrocks and not throwing them. I think they do. But how many of the Irish people know a wise man when they see him, we can't quite tell yet. To my notion it is better that Mr. de Valera should resign because the agreement went through than that Lloyd George should resign because it didn't. To my notion the lips of Mr. de Valera are too thin to smile a hearty Irish smile, and it is full time that the sons and daughters of Erin should have a bit of fine weather and learn to smile again, Mac, for to my notion the Irish smile is one of God's gifts to the world."
"Even when it is a grin," agreed Mr. McElroy.
"When the Irish smile is a grin," said Judge Hooper, "it is more than a gift, it is a benediction."