he good news is that attitudes are yours to select. There has taken place a great change in Ireland since the days in which I lived at Banagher, and a change so much for the better, that I have sometimes wondered at the obduracy with which people have spoken of the permanent ill condition of the country. Wages are now nearly double what they were then. The Post Office, at any rate, is paying almost double for its rural labour 鈥?9s. a week when it used to pay 5s., and 12s. a week when it used to pay 7s. Banks have sprung up in almost every village. Rents are paid with more than English punctuality. And the religious enmity between the classes, though it is not yet dead, is dying out. Soon after I reached Banagher in 1841, I dined one evening with a Roman Catholic. I was informed next day by a Protestant gentleman who had been very hospitable to me that I must choose my party. I could not sit both at Protestant and Catholic tables. Such a caution would now be impossible in any part of Ireland. Home-rule, no doubt, is a nuisance 鈥?and especially a nuisance because the professors of the doctrine do not at all believe it themselves. There are probably no other twenty men in England or Ireland who would be so utterly dumfounded and prostrated were Home-rule to have its way as the twenty Irish members who profess to support it in the House of Commons. But it is not to be expected that nuisances such as these should be abolished at a blow. Home-rule is, at any rate, better and more easily managed than the rebellion at the close of the last century; it is better than the treachery of the Union; less troublesome than O鈥機onnell鈥檚 monster meetings; less dangerous than Smith O鈥橞rien and the battle of the cabbage-garden at Ballingary, and very much less bloody than Fenianism. The descent from O鈥機onnell to Mr. Butt has been the natural declension of a political disease, which we had no right to hope would be cured by any one remedy. 鈥淭his will do quite well,鈥?said he. Who was it, Isola? He had pained and humiliated her, and now the stamp of[Pg 248] death was on the face he adored, and before him lay the prospect of a life's remorse. Alice was so stiff with horror at 鈥榯hat for a plan鈥?that she could barely articulate. Of course Mr Silverdale would refuse to come, the horror was but due to the mere notion that he should be asked. All went fairly well at first. It was a slack night. Only three commis-voyageurs sat at the long table, and thus there were only seven persons on whom to attend. It is true that his eye was somewhat glazed and his hand somewhat unsteady; but under the awful searchlight of Bigourdin鈥檚 glance, he nerved himself to his task. Soup and fish had been served satisfactorily; then came a long, long wait. Presently Polydore reeled in. As he passed by Bigourdin鈥檚 table he held up the finger of a dirty hand bound with a dripping bloody rag. Ernest was not so much up to the ropes of the literary world as I was, and I am afraid his head was a little turned when he woke up one morning to find himself famous. He was Christina鈥檚 son, and perhaps would not have been able to do what he had done if he were not capable of occasional undue elation. Ere long, however, he found out all about it, and settled quietly down to write a series of books, in which he insisted on saying things which no one else would say even if they could, or could even if they would. All was finished. Neither Church nor law could do anything more towards making the lovers man and wife. The law might undo the bond for them in the time to come, but the part of the Church was done for ever. In the eye of the Church their union was indissoluble. I have heard the question argued 鈥?On what terms should a man of inferior rank live with those who are manifestly superior to him? If a marquis or an earl honour me, who have no rank, with his intimacy, am I in my intercourse with him to remember our close acquaintance or his high rank? I have always said that where the difference in position is quite marked, the overtures to intimacy should always come from the higher rank; but if the intimacy be ever fixed, then that rank should be held of no account. It seems to me that intimate friendship admits of no standing but that of equality. I cannot be the Sovereign鈥檚 friend, nor probably the friend of many very much beneath the Sovereign, because such equality is impossible.