WESTSIDER MAUREEN O'SULLIVAN
On Irish affairs also I felt bound to take a decided part. I was one of the foremost in the deputation of Members of Parliament who prevailed on Lord Derby to spare the life of the condemned Fenian insurgent, General Burke. The Church question was so vigorously handled by the leaders of the party, in the session of 1868, as to require no more from me than an emphatic adhesion: but the land question was by no means in so advanced a position; the superstitions of landlordism had up to that time been little challenged, especially in Parliament, and the backward state of the question, so far as concerned the Parliamentary mind, was evidenced by the extremely mild measure brought in by Lord Russell's government in 1866, which nevertheless could not be carried. On that bill I delivered one of my most careful speeches, in which I attempted to lay down Some of the principles of the subject, in a manner calculated less to stimulate friends, than to conciliate and convince opponents. The engrossing subject of Parliamentary Reform prevented either this bill, or one of a similar character brought in by Lord Derby's Government, from being carried through. They never got beyond the second reading. Meanwhile the signs of Irish disaffection had become much more decided; the demand for complete separation between the two countries had assumed a menacing aspect, and there were few who did not feel that if there was still any chance of reconciling Ireland to the British connexion, it could only be by the adoption of much more thorough reforms in the territorial and social relations of the country, than had yet been contemplated. The time seemed to me to have come when it would be useful to speak out my whole mind; and the result was my pamphlet "England and Ireland," which was written in the winter of 1867, and published shortly before the commencement of the session of 1868. The leading features of the pamphlet were, on the one hand, an argument to show the undesirableness, for Ireland as well as England, of separation between the countries, and on the other, a proposal for settling the land question by giving to the existing tenants a permanent tenure, at a fixed rent, to be assessed after due inquiry by the State.
Crucial to the fate of the human race at this time was the attitude of the class of technicians, the host of highly trained engineers, electricians, aeronautical experts, agricultural experts, and scientific workers in industry. These, if they could have formed a clear idea of the plight of the race, might have saved it. But they were experts who had been carefully trained in the tradition that the expert should not meddle in politics. In times of great stress, of course, they did meddle; but, because they had consistently held themselves aloof, their pronouncements were childish, and their attempts at political action disastrous. A few had, indeed, taken the trouble to study society, and had come to understand its present ills. These fought constantly to enlighten their fellows and unite them in a great effort to control the course of events. Undoubtedly, if the will for the light had been strong in this great class, which controlled throughout the world all the innumerable levers and switches and press-buttons of the material life of society, it could have overthrown the world-oligarchy in a few days, and set about organizing a sane order. But the appeal to the technicians met with a half-hearted response. Most of them shrugged their shoulders and went on with their work. A few took timid action and were promptly seized and put to torture by the rulers. The movement failed.
One of the names he had been living with for fifteen years forced another harsh laugh out of Major Smythe. "That was a piece of cake! You've never seen such a shambles. All those Gestapo toughs with their doxies. All of 'em hog-drunk. They'd kept their files all ticketty-boo. Handed them over without a murmur. Hoped that'd earn 'em easy treatment I suppose. We gave the stuff a first going-over and shipped all the bods off to the Munich camp. Last I heard of them. Most of them hanged for war crimes I expect. We handed the bumf over to HQ at Salzburg. Then we went on up the Mittersill valley after another hideout." Major Smythe took a good pull at his drink and lit a cigarette. He looked up. "That's the long and the short of it."
'Quite alone?' I asked.
Scaramanga's chuckle was like the dry chuckle of a gekko. "Just don't you worry your liny head about the limey, Hal. He'll be looked after when the weekend's over. Picked him up in a bordello in a village nearby. Place where I go get my weed and a bit of local tail. Got only temporary staff here to see you fellers have a good tune over the weekend. He's the temporariest of the lot. Those crocs have a big appetite. Ruby'll be the main dish, but they'll need a dessert. Just you leave him to me. For all I know he may be this James Bond man Mr. Hendriks has told us about. I should worry. I don't like limeys. Like some good Yankee once said, 'For every Britisher that dies, there's a song in my heart.' Remember the guy? Around the time of the Israeli war against them. I dig that viewpoint. Stuck-up bastards. Stuffed shirts. When the time comes, I'm going to let the stuffing out of this one. Just you leave him to me. Or let's just say leave him to this."
And Porfilio looked like he was struggling….