October 1st, 1912
FROM THE ARCHIVES:After signing the Ulster Covenant in Belfast Sir Edward Carson sailed to Liverpool (on board The Patriotic) to begin a series of anti-Home Rule meetings in Britain. -
LIVERPOOL PEOPLE are deeply impressed by the wonderful turnout yesterday morning to greet the Ulster deputation. By those who ought to know it has been described as unprecedented. Never has there been felt so keen a sympathy with Ulster’s position.
The intensity of feeling expressed by the huge gathering at the landing stage early on Sunday morning was again attested by the great demonstration tonight, which was in two parts — a meeting in Sheil Park and a procession thence through the heart of the city.
To some extent, of course, this was a demonstration of Ulstermen in the Liverpool district. Taking part in it were the members of 160 Orange Lodges of the Liverpool Province, 26 lodges in the Bootle district, and Garston, Birkenhead, Wallasey, and St Helens. It has to be remembered that the membership of these lodges embraces a considerable proportion of English Protestants. They turned out in thousands tonight, and gave the voice of democracy.
One of the Ulster members hazarded the opinion that it was a larger assembly than the historic gathering at Balmoral, but, while that is open to doubt, an estimate of the number present at one hundred thousand was declared by some judges to be moderate.
What was the significance of the gathering? “There’s no bluff about us,” called out one man in the crowd, and what they said must be taken seriously by their applause, which, for an English audience, was vigorous.
In the cold light of morning the declarations made at the meeting will seem wild and harebrained. Let such an one accept the assurance that, in the midst of that gathering, they were startlingly real.
It was natural enough that the Unionists of Ulster itself should take a strong line. They are the people who would be affected, but that their cause should arouse the people of an English city even to assemble in protest in such numbers, let alone offering to go to the lengths for which they say they are ready, is a thing I should not have believed without the direct evidence provided tonight.
Radicals have been saying that England is apathetic on this question. I thought so too, but after tonight that position is untenable as regards Lancashire, and Lancashire is supposed to lead the way in political feeling; so the augurs are of the best.
Here is the position boiled down from the speeches of the leaders and the spontaneous expression of the crowd. Three leading shipping men have pledged themselves to provide three ships – Sir Charles Petrie says he can guarantee a hundred if they are wanted. A large proportion of the men who turned out tonight are willing to fill the ships, and to go across to Belfast to do whatever is necessary in support of their Ulster brother loyalists.