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At a recent meeting in Maynooth College, Cardinal Logue mentioned to the students the existence of the study of agriculture in connexion with University studies. Did his words convey a hint that soon a scientific study of theoretical and practical agriculture may find a place in the studies of Maynooth ? If the governors of that grand old college contemplate and put into being such an addition to the studies and degrees of Maynooth, they will give to Ireland a long-sought-for blessing, which for many years crowned Belgium and its once-so-happy people, namely, a priesthood who, by trained knowledge and practice, can lead the struggling peasantry into the ways of scientific and profitable tillage farming. His Grace of Tuam has, on many occasions, spoken to his people on the supreme importance of their getting away from the old ruts of haphazard tillage, so traditional, so effete, and useless in this age of struggle, and, alas ! this time of ever impending famine. Still, little has been done. Co-operative stores, creameries, improvements in the type and in the rearing of cattle have brought financial changes and betterment in ways, but tillage (and above all, horticulture) is, to put it mildly, in a weak condition in this land of ours.
Well, who is to blame? Surely not the farmers. They are taking in money largely (and paying it out largely for foods), and they are prospercus (?). Cattle bring huge and unheard-of prices. The grazing landholder was quite content. But with food shortage, the destruction of foodcarrying means, unrestricted export, and the enormous prices paid for every article of food and clothing, the farmers and all Irishmen are in grave alarm. They have put all their eggs in one basket and it has got upset. Men may have money, as Midas had, and yet be in starvation. The enormous extent of grazing land has led to many evils. Wealth accumulates and men decay. Very clearly and ably has the case for tillage been put by the Bishop
of Ross, in his booklet, Tillage. His facts and figures were then grave and serious; but now they are alarmingly and increasingly apparent. Knowledge and fear have seized on the minds of the provident and the thoughtful. We are on the verge of famine-real, genuine, gaunt famine.
The Department of Agriculture for years has sent its learned, zealous county instructors amongst us to teach us agriculture and horticulture. They have worn out many tyres. Lectures—always badly attended-prizes, demonstration plots, school farms (like lovely Ballyhaise and admirable Athenry) and county shows have produced the uniform effects-decrease of tillage. All the profits from these well-wishers of Ireland have been slight and the losses are apparent in the booklets of statistics, which are so kindly sent to priests, who know and see so much of the steady decline of field and garden work.
Is there a remedy ? Can a better effect be produced with or without the vast workings of the kindly and thoughtful Department ? Can priests materially help in staving off the threatened famine ? Can the Irish priest be like his Belgian brother, a tillage expert in theory and in practice ? Can he do so without lessening his professional work or worth ? I believe he can do so; and that if existing priests earnestly and steadily take the advice and directions of their county instructors in tillage, they can, by their own personal labour, make their tiny farms and gardens, parish demonstration plots and object-lessons real and true. If in the national college lessons in the theory and in the practice of horticulture and tillage be given, priests may become leaders in the tillage campaign, lecturers who can speak with knowledge and with influence, and demonstrators in the land patches of what can be done to bring back the great and most useful industry to our island-production of our own food, the making of ourselves self-supporting, and making Ireland for the Irish first, and for foreign export and for the foreigner last.
The late Mr. Stead, flamboyantly touring in Ireland about twenty-five years ago, remarked the decline of tillage and the filial band which knitted the Irish peasant to his priests. He remarked that Irish priests are born leaders, and inquired why do not they lead in the national industry -tillage ; why don't they learn and practise new and scientific methods and lead their parishioners. I was one out of a number who was then refuting Occam, Lully,
Hegel, Kant, Boscovitch, and struggling with the beautiful problems of Euler and De Moivre. How we jeered at the practical remark of the Saxon. To think of it: gentlemen like our noble selves, with our lily-white hands, working at our fathers' occupation! The thought was too absurd, too monstrous to be entertained. Absurdismus est Stead was our verdict.
Things have changed greatly. No priest should be ashamed nor afraid to help to-day in the tillage campaign ; in the practice of co-operation, of joint farm-work, the adoption of thoughtful methods of buying seeds, of planting crops, saving crops, storage, etc. Any priest starting this or a similar work should be brave, patient, and persistent. Spasmodic effort and ignorant effort have killed much and many in Ireland. Cowardice and laziness leave fallow many acres, roods, and
Now, some brother clerical-antique—for I am one-may say that this is a wild, useless, scatter-brain scheme, and that its carrying out would violate Church law, destroy clerical decorum, diminish the priestly spirit, shock the faithful, lead to money grubbing, and be a direful spring of woes unnumbered.
But every proposal made in dear old conservative Ireland for priests, and by priests, is met with a hurricane of reproachful howls : 'Let' things be,' 'Nihil innoventur nisi quod traditum est,' 'Cui bono?' The First Friday devotions met with opposition; they were, it was said, a dangerous innovation introduced to mask the impious workings of an impious secret society! They stuck and
! flourished, thank God! The abolition of twelve o'clock Masses in rural districts meant that the Celt should become pagans, Bible Christians, Seventh Day Adventists. The Irish peasant remained_Catholic, and improved and corrected editions of same. The Ne Temere decree, the use of the Pian Psaltery, were fearful calamities and heartrending innovations, likely to break the hearts of already overloaded pastors. The lately revised code of Canon Law must necessarily call forth pious regrets. Everything new, great and small, in Irish Church affairs means barefaced ruin. The introduction of the clerical soft felt signified and typified the sign of the Beast of the Apocalypse. The cycle was an infernal machine, a vicious circle, rejiciendus est. The curbing of the fiery and innovating zeal of dimissorial managers by the Maynooth resolution was an
unprecedented interference with the rights, duties, and pleasures of managers. The school attendance committees were inhuman, barbarous, the thin-end-of-the-wedge devilments. But what shall I say of the laws of frequent Communion and early Communion, which caused us to weep tears such as angels weep, and to tear out from the very heart of Lehmkuhl a whole page. By all these things we were scarified and steam-rolled. One event succeeded another, in alarming and progressive ratio. We have all sat at formal and informal meetings discussing these shocking calamities, awful catastrophes--and yet we live. Often, gentle reader, you called some child of misfortune to come hither and you'd weep with him tear for sneer.
All were vain.
Now, all that I propose is this, that it were a great boon to Ireland if her Church students be taught practical and theoretical tillage and horticulture, so that by their knowledge and practice they can instruct and demonstrate to their flocks. Compulsory tillage is unsatisfactory and spasmodic. The work done as a duty, done with knowledge and with success, is like the building built on a rock. Rains may fall and winds may blow but it remains and flourishes, because it is on a good foundation. It will be a great day for Ireland, the day that her young priests—ever Erin's hope-may know how to guide and lead in tillage districts. For there is nothing like practical sympathy, such as our Master had and as He wished us to have with toil and toilers. For a man may prate and wail about labour and capital, a living wage, the feeding and housing of the poor, and yet seem and be unreal, unpractical. A lot of what he heard and read on these subjects is mere acting, clammy book-stuff. The real sympathy and insight into the works and ways and minds and sorrows of the labourer and farmer is being really like them, by seeing life by labour's eyes, and feeling work with labour's hands. That is what counts; knowledge, practical knowledge of manual labour, for love shows itself by acts more than by words. And often the curate's love for labour and labourers, the dignity of labour, the rights of the labourer comes from—well, not the heart of the priest-orator but from the class-taken notes of student days or the sapient words of some eloquent booklet. Cardinal Manning, reared in his stately home in England, clung to the dinner glass of wine, till, in one of his temperance speeches in the historic hall in Underwood Street, a voice asked him : ‘Do you take n'er a drop yourself, Father ?' He replied truthfully, and ever after was a strict total abstainer. His pledge was a guarantee of the truth and sincerity of his glowing words and his temperance speeches and efforts were marvellously successful. For, to-day it is as true as it was hundreds of years ago
Si vis me flere dolendum est Primus ipsi tibi; tunc tua me infortunia laedent—Horace). The truly wonderful spread of teetotalism in Ireland and amongst latter-day emigrants is due very largely to the example of the fervent young Father Mathew priests of Ireland. And the sobriety of our towns and villages is due in a great measure to the example of the model men, who, for two decades of years, have entered on missionary work in this country. They speak with authority, and practice what they preach.
Hence, let the proposal to teach this great and national science of tillage not be scouted, for there is nothing mean or vile in manual labour. To work in the barren fields of Galilee was the Master's lot. In the life of St. Paul, the Apostle, he glories in his manual toil. · In the lives of the early saints, especially of the Fathers of the desert, we read how these heroes of Christ earned their bread by their hard, patient toil. We all know the lives of the Trappists, their laborious and healthy lives, so manly, so noble in this age of clerical timidity, when it is a glory to be far from the land. De Rance, their reformer, in his book on the monastic state, answers in the chapter on manual labour) such questions as, “Would it not be more useful for religious to apply their time in reading and study than in manual labour ?' * If religious do not study shall they not be considered useless in society ?' * Are not religious persons exempt from manual labour when they apply themselves to the instruction of souls ? The holy abbot answered 'No' to each question, and gives reasons for the rule of labour, its obligations, its utilities, and its blessings. Of course, no rule and no obligation binds parochial clergy to such work, but its utility to soul and to body is very great.
Gardening—and this is the first and greatest clerical manual work—is a most interesting, may I say engrossing, hobby. It is, unlike golf or indoor amusements, an independent-of-partner amusement. It is a home retainer,