Ulster's Stand For Union eBook

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.
heard of the gibes of The Irish News, The Daily News, or The Westminster Gazette at the “royal progresses” of “King Carson”; but they would have been in no way upset by them if they had, for they were far too much in earnest themselves to pay heed to the cheap sneers of others.  At each one of the September meetings there was a military setting to the business of the day.  At Enniskillen Carson was conducted by a cavalry escort to the ground where he was to address the people; at Coleraine, Portadown, and other places volunteers lined the route and marched in column to and from the meeting.  They were, it is true, but “half-baked” levies, with more zeal than knowledge of military duties.  But competent critics—­and there were many such amongst the visitors—­praised their bearing and physique and the creditable measure of discipline they had already acquired.  And it must be remembered that in September 1912 the Ulster Volunteer Force was still in its infancy.  In the following two years its improvement in efficiency was very marked; and within three years of the time when its battalions paraded before Sir Edward Carson, with dummy rifles, and marched before him to his meetings in Lisburn, Newtownards, Enniskillen, and Belfast on the eve of the Covenant, those same men had gloriously fought against the flower of the Prussian Army, and many of them had fallen in the battle of the Somme.

The final meeting in the Ulster Hall on Friday the 27th of September was an impressive climax to the tour.  Many English journalists and other visitors were present, and some of them admitted that, in spite of all they had heard of what an Ulster Hall meeting was like, they were astonished by the soul-stirring fervour they witnessed, and especially by the wonderful spectacle presented at the overflow meeting in the street outside, which was packed as far as the eye could reach in either direction with upturned faces, eager to catch the words addressed to them from a platform erected for the speakers outside an upper window of the building.[36]

Messages of sympathy and approval at this supreme moment were read from Mr. Bonar Law and Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Long, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Austen Chamberlain.  Then, after brief speeches by four local Belfast men, one of whom was a representative of Labour, and while the audience were waiting eagerly for the speech of their leader, there occurred what The Times next day described as “two entirely delightful, and, as far as the crowd was concerned, two entirely unexpected episodes.”  The first was the presentation to Sir Edward Carson of a faded yellow silk banner by Colonel Wallace, Grand Master of the Belfast Orangemen, who explained that it was the identical banner that had been carried before King William III at the battle of the Boyne, and was now lent by its owner, a lineal descendant of the original standard-bearer, to be carried before Carson to the signing of the Covenant; the second was the presentation to the leader

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Ulster's Stand For Union from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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