Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
"Come back, Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
Come home, Paddy Reilly, to me."
Mary Malone was happy as she sang the old song to herself. She was pleased that the new reincarnation centre, was operating well, after all the effort which she and many others had put into it. She was amused at the aptness of the song, since the centre was indeed located on a hill near the town of Ballyjamesduff, and the souls of many 'Paddy Reillys' were being called and guided back into life there.
The programme had grown out of long research into the purposes of the old megalithic monuments for which the country was famous, and speculation as to how such structures and the concepts associated with them, might be applied in current circumstances. There had been long discussions between the Men and Women of Wisdom and with their spiritual contacts. It was recognised that they could function as portals of existence, gateways between the realms of life and death, tombs/wombs of the Great Goddess.It was also clear that in very ancient times, when the separation between the living and the dead was felt more lightly, those who had been loved and respected by their family and community, were welcomed and expected to be reborn within the same bloodline, or close by, and that souls seeking rebirth were drawn back to the area where their kin lived. The legends associated with Newgrange gave a broad hint that at the right time in such places, the impregnation of a highborn woman could attract the soul of a hero or demi-god into her foetus. Naturally, the prospect of producing more of such leaders, as gifts of the gods, was always attractive. Conversely, no-one wanted unpleasant, disruptive people, back, so they may have been buried with special rituals discouraging their return, telling them to move along, there's nothing for them here.
The Wise recognised the value of such a procedure if it could be made practical. There had been discussion as to the form these centres should take, and it had been decided that they should be quite like the originals, with low walls and roofs of heavy stones, covered by earth so they fitted well into the landscape, but with more windows, and panelled with wood.It was attempted to make them cheerful and attractive to couples, with flowers and furnishings. Much effort had gone into determining the best locations and orientation for the sites, to link them into systems of alignments of old and new sacred sites and earth energy networks and important points of sun and moon risings and settings on the horizon. The main effort of course had not been on the physical but on the spiritual level. It had taken a long time to establish a strong working relationship with the spiritual forces responsible for the guidance of discarnate souls, whom she knew as The Mothers. Now they were growing stronger, acting as lighthouses for the dead, summoning those for whom a new life here, at this time, would be appropriate.
Of course there was no nonsense about 'equality', 'human rights', 'everyone being welcome', or 'first come, first served'. That was the sort of rubbish which had corrupted and undermined the Old People. The system was becoming increasingly refined as The Mothers sorted applicants and communicated their qualities to the Wise who ran the physical side, who in turn collected details of couples in the area who were trying to have a child. Already the births of most ruling class families and of the bardic/druidic/wise classes were guided, and the custom was becoming common amongst the mercantile, peasant and labouring classes who could afford the fees.It was an attractive proposition. Every worthwhile person wanted to be proud of their ancestors and descendants, to feel that they were making the best of themselves and their opportunities, proving worthy of their bloodlines.Some of the peasants and even labouring families, were as knowledgeable and proud of their family trees as any of the nobility, and it was recognised that over the centuries they were not unrelated.It was expected that those in high positions should display high abilities. Those who were found lacking were soon displaced by eager relatives, sometimes too precipitately. Duds cards were marked when they died, and they would only attain rebirth in humbler circumstances, so there was strong selective pressure leading to increasing competence and intelligence at all levels of society over the generations. It was possible for families to rise or fall over time, but people mainly devoted themselves to the duties of their station, without envy of the higher castes, whose position required them to demonstrate higher abilities that actually served the whole society.
Always there were unsuitable souls trying to gatecrash. The Wild Hunt and the Hounds of Hell saw them off.Very occasionally an induced miscarriage or infant exposure had been necessary when psychic scans revealed that an interloper had been successful.No cuckoos would be accepted in these nests.
The growing evidence of success of this system, gave the Wise considerable influence over those who held power, as well as among the common people. The Popes of old had claimed to have the keys to heaven and hell, but the medieval fear of excommunication was weak compared to the fear amongst this People of being excluded from rebirth amongst one's kin and community.Hence the rivalries and antagonisms between the numerous kings and lordlings were usually checked before they led to serious fighting and social disruption.Those who could prevent 'Paddy Reilly' from coming back to 'Ballyjamesduff' had to be taken seriously.
Times change, like the seasons, on a slower scale. Enough centuries had passed since The Collapse for new attitudes and interests and ways of life to become established; and those of the previous age to have fallen out of sympathy, out of understanding and into some disdain. The age of quantity had been replaced by a fierce desire for quality; the age of the common man, of the mass market, of the lowest common denominator, had been replaced by striving for the best, for achievement and honour. A great hunger for wealth at the expense of decency and honour was seen to be disgusting and dishonourable, a stain on the soul left over from the Old Times. What was known of the Old Times was regarded with revulsion. Most souls left over from those times who sought admission here were firmly refused. Some of the more insolently persistent had had to be chased back to their source in the Coastland of Death on the other side of the ocean, by the Wild Hunt.
In fact, this programme of rebirth control fitted with other programmes of investigation by the Wise. They were interested in the differing qualities of different areas, and how these related to the influences of terrestial and celestial energies, as well as to the qualities of the peoples and nature spirits native to those areas.They had taken the principle that 'The King and the Land are One' and considered how local humanity and the local landscapes and spirits affected each other.They had searched far, and noted things like the areas where extremely corrupt and greedy people had, in the previous era, dumped lots of poisonous chemicals, which had blighted whole districts like southern Italy and parts of China. They noted the ill-effects on the landscape and the local nature spirits, and how the moral and spiritual quality of the people living there had in turn deteriorated. These areas had been associated with notorious gangs of criminals in league with politicians. They were also investigating how greed and arrogance and overpopulation had, much earlier, helped to turn fertile land into desert.
Mary's husband, Patrick,was involved in a project which awakened spiritual influences at a variety of sacred sites, and followed their connections to other such sites. They were strengthening contacts in all the lands of the Megalithic Atlantic Coast. It was even faintly whispered that ancient voyagers had crossed the Atlantic and established megalithic monuments tombs and Ogham writing in and beyond the Coastlands of Death, and that even beyond that was a new America where people from that place might be able to reincarnate. Some of the Wise took ship and travelled to Britain and to Brittany and Iberia and Scandinavia, where they assisted local groups who had similar interests, and extended the effective network. Some of these people who showed talent, came to Eire to study at the House of Wisdom.It was no co-incidence that Eire was regarded (particularly by the Irish) as a magical kingdom, the leader in a new civilisation,or New World Order. Patrick had met someone who knew someone who had talked to a Saracen captive. This man had told strange tales of djinn in the deserts of Arabia.Deep in the desert,it was rumoured that there were still a few djinn who breathed fire from the ground, fire in a fiery land. In the Old Times, it seemed, these fire-breathing djinn had carried people across the world in metal containers, and through the air on magic carpets far finer than the Germans' new air machines.Now that must have been something wonderful to see, Mary thought as she walked home to prepare their supper, singing,
"A whisper comes over the sea
Come back, Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff
Come home, Paddy Reilly, to me."
Senator Romulus Simms was rich. He was in fact, very,very, rich. Indeed, was this not the case, the Censor would not allow him to be counted as a Senator. He had investments in all sorts of things, land of course, town buildings, farms, crops, banking and commerce, mines and engineering works. Much of this he had inherited, and he expected to be able to leave to his sons more than me had himself inherited. His daughters were endowed with lavish settlements, and married into families approximately as rich. He regarded himself, and was seen by some others, as virtually a microcosm of The Republic.
He was not an absentee landlord. He took himself and his responsibilities very seriously. Many of his hours were spent with stewards and accountants and auditors examining their reports on the condition and prospects of his investments. He was not an easy man to please or deceive. He traveled extensively to see things for himself, and only partly for financial reasons. He liked to form his own impressions, and to talk and listen to people who would not ordinarily have had access to him. He saw as well as owned much more of The Republic than most, and he liked to feel that he had a good sense of what was going on.
It has often been said that 'money talks'. Through Simms it did not shout, or do anything vulgar or ostentatious to draw attention to itself. It did not babble foolishly or wastefully. It spoke quietly, listened attentively, and asked searching questions. It murmured discreetly, confidentially and persuasively to other rich and powerful men. In effect these men were The Republic, and in large measure their conversations were it's governance.
It wasn't just money.Vulgar rich men who flaunted their wealth were not included among them, although sometimes they were the subject of their conversations. On rare occasions, the vulgar and foolish rich who had featured in such conversations, afterwards received quiet visits from members of the Obsidian Cohort who dealt with public enemies of The Republic. Wealth was a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to be a Senator.The Censor ensured that only rich men who had other important attributes such as public spiritedness, wisdom, shrewdness, and some sort of expert knowledge were even put forward for election by existing Senators. Lightweight blowhards, using other people's money to appeal to the foolish masses, such as had flourished in the previous era, were very definitely excluded. The incredible notion that a public man would be so bereft of personal knowledge, native wit and rhetorical training that he relied on someone else to write speeches for him, or that he would be tongue-tied in the absence of notes, aroused disgust and hilarity, and accounted for some of the scorn and contempt directed at the Old People, who appeared evil and foolish beyond sympathy or understanding.
Simms and his colleagues had a strong sense of responsibility to their people.They knew that it was all too easy for the rich to become selfish and cut off from their people. They knew that a class of financial bloodsuckers could interpose themselves between rulers and ruled, and usurp the privileges without the responsibilities of rule. They knew how the Republican Romans and the Byzantines had allowed their 'yeoman' class of independent farmers on which their military power had been based,to be destroyed and replaced by rich mens' slave estates, which had fundamentally altered their society. They knew they needed to restrain their own and each others' greed, and had been reasonably successful because they recognised kinship not only between the rich, but between rich and poor. Simms knew that his ancestors had arrived from England poor, and realistically he supposed that his descendants would not always be able, rich and powerful, but he hoped that whilst some generations had these attributes they would use them well, for the benefit of the public no less than for themselves.
The Republic prided itself on keeping taxes low.This was largely a matter of luck,as they faced no serious military threat.They knew and disapproved of both the Roman Imperial bread doles and of the far more extensive welfare states of the Old People. They were determined neither to breed a useless and destructive proletariat, nor a wasteful class of bureaucrats.They knew both of these dangers could be fatal to The Republic. Simms and his colleagues took pride in paying for much that they might have avoided, in order to benefit the public,in ways which they rather than a gaggle of bloodsucking troublemakers and bureaucrats decided. In other times and places such an attitude would have been called 'noblesse oblige'.
In traveling the country he observed conditions and spoke to as many people as he could.He had often contributed largely to some local project such as bridge and road maintenance, public buildings, books, scholarships, relief from natural disasters, time off work and extra ammunition for militia training, local celebrations and wedding gifts to those towards whom he felt some connection of family service or employment in one of his enterprizes.He did not want to be seen as a soft touch, or substitute for self help, nor as one who created resentment by excessive generosity overwhelming the recipients' self respect. His stewards and senior staff were expected to be prominent in local organisations, such as the Militia, local government and Poor Law Boards.
Simms felt some responsibility for local conditions and the attitudes of local people. If they were unhappy, he worried and investigated. He did not want people to become passive and subservient to him. Through his companies and banks he made small loans, on a non-usurious basis. Many a poor-ish man could boast that he had the Senator as a junior partner in his business. He did not want to take them over, or tell them what to do, or prop them up indefinitely when they were clearly failing. He could not handle all these details personally, so he expected to be able to rely on good advice from his managers. The old Romans would immediately have recognised that a version of their system of patron and client was strongly at work in the new American Republic.
Another reason why taxes were low was that there was no great bureaucracy extorting money from the deserving in order to waste it on themselves and on the undeserving, whose political support kept this robbing of Peter to pay Paul going. Nor was it possible to borrow large sums for such government waste, since people like Simms controlled both the politics and the banks.
People were expected to look after their own, and to have the prudence not to start families until they were able to support them.They were not permitted to breed like savages, expecting others to pay for their offspring. Floggings, castration, spaying and execution had quickly repressed any such tendencies as had survived from the old order. Adequate help was made available to the genuinely unfortunate who lacked families able to support them.This was administered by charitable institutions and parish poor law boards. Those who gave and those who received knew each other. The Senator would have been shocked and incensed to think that any poor persons who had some claim on him or on a local authority of The Republic had not received their due. Had he suspected any negligence or malfeasance by an official, or one of his managers, he was well able to institute the most searching and painful enquiries. People raised taxes locally on themselves and took an interest in how their money was spent.
There was a Poor Law based on Elizabethan and Georgian precedents, which made indigents the responsibility of their family and parish of origin. The poor were discouraged from wandering about, and could be arrested and passed back from parish to parish. Those whose origins were indeterminable, and those whose feet were incurably itchy, were sent west. Here they were given training in a relevant skill, and put up for indentured service with whichever Plains band would accept them and give them an opportunity to join them after five years service. The sight of a gallows prominently erected on the east bank of the Mississippi provided a warning not to return.
It was very difficult to survive on the Plains as a lone wolf, especially for those unfamiliar with the area and the way of life. Successful Wolfsheads were even rarer. Justice was local, swift and severe. Those convicted by a jury of local men, presided over by a clan chief or Republican official, were executed promptly, without any legal flummery of lawyer-enriching and justice-delaying appeals. Few would-be bandits lived to tell many tales because they were the objects of regular training hunts by the Plains militia and regular Republican cavalry units.
The Senator approved of the maxim that justice delayed is justice denied. Crime was a very minor problem in a society where almost everyone was known and related to the people around them, strangers would be questioned and justice was administered locally.
The Republic maintained the equivalent of the Roman 'Cursus Honorum', a course of political advancement through lesser and local offices before gaining the prestige, experience and recognised competence to be acceptable to their equals as candidates for the high offices of state. Simms had been Consul for a year, although not 'in his year' - the acme of old Roman political ambition. He was pleased to have been Consul, and to be enrolled as such amongst his ancestors. He was too shrewd to thrust himself forward again for the office, well aware of the jealousies that could cause. As an ex-Consul, or Proconsul, he was one of the elite regularly consulted by current and aspiring Consuls, and who could legally take charge locally in an emergency. He had served for a time in the military, although his talents were not those of a general. It was his broad background, his administrative competence, his ability to understand issues, to remain well informed and to seek consensus which drew to him the respect of other competent men, and gave him the 'auctoritas' and 'gravitas' to be taken seriously at the top.
He was now at his mansion in the hills just outside the capital, where he loved to spend autumn admiring the falling leaves as he walked amidst the trees on his estate. He did what he could to encourage the planting of trees for beauty and utility. Amongst his gifts to The Republic were several arboretums to beautify various towns, as well as paying for trees to line their streets, and the financing of an institute to study trees.
As he moved around the country his network of carrier pigeons supplemented the despatch riders and railroads to keep him informed of any important developments in Pittsburg and other towns.
It was his love of trees which gave him a particular interest in the far North West. He had not been there and seen the forest giants, but he harboured an ambition to obtain some seedlings to see if they would thrive in the east. The development of the Plains had led to increasing interest in the Pacific coast. Early explorers from The Republic had found small communities surviving along the Pacific coast and Vancouver, not that the The Republic was in a position to do anything but note their presence and keep an occasional eye on them.
Now that the Plains were being, in a way, developed, and a railroad had been pushed into them from across the Mississippi, there were enthusiasts who wished to push it all the way to the Pacific. He had often been asked to support and invest in such schemes. As yet he did not find them feasible. He liked the idea, and was intrigued by the possibility of encouraging a flourishing region of logging, fishing and sailing. There was even rumoured to be great reserves of coal in Alaska, although they might be difficult to extract, and there was no imminent need for them. However, it was still a dream, and was not likely to be profitable for a long time.The steel needed for the railroad, even if they could follow the old route through the mountains, would be well beyond The Republic's limited capacity. Unfortunately, the iron mines were nearing exhaustion, the easily accessible ore having been taken long ago. The available iron was required for weapons, tools and machinery. A limited strategic rail system was maintained to supplement the waterways, but he doubted that it could be pushed much further.
He knew that the Eskimos had prospered, re-invented their old way of life when the oil and machines were no longer available, and were fighting with the new tribes in the Canadian woodland, and threatening the Pacific coast survivors.He wondered whether the Pacific dwellers still made totem poles and big canoes. He considered whether it would be worthwhile trying to bring the Northern tribes under more direct influence as a buffer. Perhaps a couple of adventurous officers with a platoon of men could be sent to the Pacific to help their defence, and to develop crafts. Over time, even if the locals formed an independent state, the preponderant cultural, economic and military influence of The Republic would make them want to join. After all, had not that been what had happened before with Texas and California? (Best skip the history of Utah.) A small unit could stiffen the defence if the Mexicans started to move north along the coast.
Thought of the Mexicans reminded him of the other railroad and line of strategic advance that some people wanted. They wanted a railroad to cross the lower Mississippi and advance against the Mexicans. The images of horrible savagery associated with the Mexicans, or neo-Aztecs as they were becoming, made him feel a fit of the 'Catos' come over him. In fact, there was a group of Senators nicknamed 'Catos' because, just as that ancient statesman had ended all his speeches with the assertion that Carthage must be destroyed, "Carthago delenda est", so he and they often felt that 'Mexico delenda est'.
Simms was however a cautious man, reluctant to attack Mexico. He had no doubt that the Republican forces would easily prevail, but it would be an unnecessary expense in his view. Mexico was useful as a distant bogeyman which served to keep The Republic united and it's forces keen.He had no fear that the Mexicans could mount more than nuisance raids on The Republic; what worried him was not knowing what to do after the conquest of Mexico. It would be difficult and distasteful to exterminate them, but if allowed to live they would eventually corrupt the sympathies of the Americans administering them and come to be accepted as 'Americans', be loaded again with benefits, and cause another collapse eventually. Also, there were rumours that beyond them lived a stronger and more civilised people, the Brasilians, who might be encouraged to move forward. The Senator had no desire to find The Republic sharing a border with a stronger state, possibly one stronger than The Republic. Hence he was happy to keep Mexico as a buffer state, slowly peeling back it's population and influence from areas of American interest and settlement.
He looked at the sun to gauge the time, turning from his political and strategic speculations.Wrist watches no longer existed, and were not missed as the pace of life was less frantic.Waterclocks to mark the hours were commonplace. Towns, estates and even villages had public clocks. A man of Simms' status and resources could have had a fob watch made for him, but he saw no point in it beyond wasteful ostentation.
He remembered that he was due to meet his colleague, Senator Wells, to whose son Publius his own daughter Cornelia was married. He went to change, and then to meet his guests. He found his wife and Cornelia sitting talking to Senator Wells and his wife and they toasted each others' health with wine made on his own estates.
The Republic was in good shape, and would be happy and prosperous as long as it was ruled and found itself reflected by such men as The Senator. A New World Order of sorts was now established in the New World.