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- John Bull's Other Island - 2/25 -


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 drinks].

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 suggestion.

TIM. I'll make a careful note o that [looking dazedly at the map].

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 but flatthery.

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, impulsive countrymen?

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 Secretary. Eh?

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 Broadbent's partner.]

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 two others.

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 Haffigan.

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


John Bull's Other Island - 2/25

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