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be confidently trusted to leave himself a loop-hole of escape from any pledge which they may believe themselves to have obtained from him. The only thing which is absolutely certain is that, both upon the question of the control of the constabulary and the settlement of land legislation, Mr Gladstone, when the moment for action comes, will be entirely guided by considerations of the course which is most likely to win to his side a majority of votes. As his recent speeches during the Mid-Lothian campaign duly instructed us, there is to him no right or wrong in politics, but the opinion of the majority is to be ascertained and followed. The Irish Parliamentary party will be welcome to Mr Gladstone as part of a majority to place and retain him in office; but if "the approval of the people of Great Britain" is likely to be withheld from a plan which would be satisfactory to that party upon the two points in question, they may rest assured that their wishes in this respect would, in Mr Gladstone's mind, cease to be part of "the just claims of Ireland," and that it would be conclusively proved to them that he had never given them any pledge upon the subject.
Meanwhile the position of the majority caucus is hardly one to be envied. They have decreed the deposition of Mr Parnell by means of a curious character. Being unable to overcome the obstruction of the minority, they adjourned to another room to pass their deposing resolutions without interruption.
This is certainly a lesson to the House of Commons, which may some day be led to follow so excellent an example, although it might prefer to remove the minority rather than the majority to another room. Whether the proceeding can be considered valid or
not is a point upon which we need not dwell, but there is another aspect of the case which may well be remembered. Mr Parnell denies the validity of the transaction, and declares that he is not only chairman of his party, but the leader of the Irish nation. Certainly Mr Parnell's pretensions to this position have been loudly and warmly proclaimed by his followers, and by none more vehemently than by some of those who have now condemned him. But apart from this, it is beyond all question that the eighty-five men who constitute the Irish Parliamentary party have all of them, majority and minority, been elected to Parliament as supporters of Mr Parnell. Those who have deposed him from the leadership have clearly but one course to pursuenamely, to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, and ask from their constituents an endorsement and approval of their course of action. If they fail to do this, every word and action which they have directed, or may direct, against Mr Parnell, will be treasured up against them, and the deposed leader and his friends will be able to appeal with great advantage to the feeling of Ireland and of generous Irishmen against the men who, when left to themselves, supported and re-elected the leader whom they had been sent to Parliament to support, but at the first whisper of Mr Gladstone's disapproval deserted and discarded him.
The heat and passion with which the discussions of the Irish Parliamentary party appear to have been conducted are perhaps hardly to be taken as an example of the probable behaviour of the Irish National Parliament, since the surrounding circumstances must be admitted to have been of a character exceptionally trying to temper and forbearance on either
side. They must, however, be accepted as indications of a spirit which is hardly consistent with the decorum which should prevail when men are engaged in the work of legislation, and which points to a considerable limitation of the powers to be given to any body which may hereafter be established in Ireland in the course of the extension of local government, or the delegation of any portion of its authority by the Imperial Parliament. It is satisfactory to be informed that the members of the Irish party did not come to blows, and that the report of the police having been called in was a report without foundation. It must be owned, however, that the language employed towards each other, the charges and countercharges of intriguing and deceit, and the disorderly conduct of several of those who took part in the proceedings, have not served to elevate the character of the parties concerned, or to render more conspicuous their fitness to conduct business in a Parliament of their own. According to present appearances, both majority and minority having appealed to the Irish people, there will be an exceedingly pretty contest between the two sections of the party, and the issue may be doubtful. So far as it is possible to make any forecast of the result, it would seem likely that Mr Parnell, carrying with him the Fenian element and the more advanced of the Nationalist party, will obtain triumphs in the large towns, and wherever the population is massed together in some centre and is more or less controlled by existing Nationalist organisations. On the other hand, if the priests follow the bishops in their somewhat tardy condemnation of Mr Parnell upon moral grounds, it is probable that clerical influence will tell against the deposed leader in the
rural districts in which it more largely prevails. It is not, however, by any means sure that there will not be as great a division among the priests as amongst the laity; and if it should turn out that the curates and younger portion of the priesthood are to a considerable extent with Mr Parnell, the condemnation of the bishops will be to a large extent neutralised.
There is another fact to be borne in mind. When the Holy Father. specifically denounced boycotting and the Plan of Campaign with all the thunders of the Vatican, the Catholic bishops and priests in Ireland scarcely even rendered an acquiescence to their spiritual head, and appeared to encourage the idea that "Religion from Rome-Politics from Home" was a fit and proper motto for an Irish patriot. If it should now appear that the people have learned this lesson from the recent attitude of the bishops and clergy, and decline to accept the interference of their religious advisers in political matters, the blame must rest upon those who first set the example of disobedience to ecclesiastical authority. If the bishops and priests have for the future less influence in Ireland than heretofore, they have themselves to thank for it, and their practical disobedience to the rescript of the Vatican will have recoiled upon their heads more speedily than could have been anticipated.
Healy being hooted and hustled by a Dublin mob, and finally being taken under the protection of the police! The smile, however, must give way to more serious feelings when we come to reflect upon the meaning and the cause of that which is now going on in Ireland. Men's passions-the passions of an impulsive race-have been excited and let loose; their tempers have been stirred, and a spirit of bitterness and violence has been aroused which may yet produce consequences worse than have already been experienced. And why Because, ten years ago, Mr Gladstone commenced a legislative career with regard to Ireland of a character entirely at variance with, and founded upon principles entirely different from, anything which had been adopted or sanctioned by previous British ministers. Confessedly ignorant of Irish history, and having given comparatively little attention to Irish affairs during the engrossing occupations of important official positions, Mr Gladstone proceeded upon a course of legislation which could only eventually land him in the difficulties which surround him to-day, and which cannot fail to overwhelm him if he should ever again have the opportunity of proposing further Irish legislation. He determined to deal with Ireland as if Irishmen were so different from the rest of mankind as to be unaffected by the ordinary principles and feelings by which mankind are governed, and to require a treatment which should pass by and ignore the usual rules by which society is regulated. In deference to agitation, Mr Gladstone proceeded to land legislation of an unequal and extraordinary character. If the owners of Irish land had no right to their property, or had seriously abused their position, it would have been right to
say so, and within the competence of Parliament to dispossess them. If they had a right to their property, they should have been allowed to experience the benefit or the damage of those ordinary laws of supply and demand which are usually recognised as producing fair and reasonable results. But to maintain them in the nominal possession of their lands, and then to subject them to legal confiscation, was a course cruel to the landholders, unjust as between owner and occupier, and one which dealt a fatal blow at the morality of the country.
Having once discovered the squeezable nature of Mr Gladstone, the leaders of Irish agitation pressed him from one point to another, until, having departed from the simple principles of justice in his land legislation, he has followed the same course upon other subjects. Rejecting views of the great and wise statesmen who have gone before him, and in flagrant opposition to Sir Robert Peel, of whose leadership he was once so proud, he has adopted the wild theories of Irish agitators both as to the past history of Ireland and the legislation which she requires. For be it ever remembered that Ireland, as an independent country and united kingdom, has never existed save in what are politely called prehistoric times, and in the fervid imagination of Nationalist orators and writers. Nevertheless Mr Gladstone continues to write
and speak as if the contrary were the case, proposes to restore to Ireland an independent national Parliament which never existed, and encourages Irishmen to indulge in aspirations which can never be gratified, and the realisation of which would be attended with ruin and disaster, certainly to Ireland herself, if not eventu
ally to the empire.
No doubt alist party, and no measure will be accepted by them save one which involves the abandonment of the land question throughout Ireland to their decision, and the concession to them of the control of that constabulary force which has been the only security for the peace of Ireland for ten years past, and which it would be sheer madness to hand over to the Nationalist majority.
with excellent intentions, Mr Gladstone has led Irishmen to entertain hopes which they never would have entertained, or which at least would have been confined to a few visionaries and enthusiasts, but for his unfortunate resolution to deal with Ireland by attempting to reconcile irreconcilable people, and to govern through agitators who had spent their lives in striving to make government impossible. Hence it is that at the present crisis, when from unforeseen circumstances a division has taken place in the ranks of those into whose mischievous hands Mr Gladstone has been playing for ten years past, the pivot upon which turns the contest is the freedom of Ireland from British rule, and the winning party will probably be that which succeeds in persuading the Irish electoral body that to support its candidates will be the surest way to get rid of that imperial control which Mr Gladstone himself has termed the control of "a foreign executive."1 Two things there are which should never be forgotten by loyal subjects of Queen Victoria, be they English, Scotch, Irish, or Welsh. First, that it is directly owing to Mr Gladstone's change of policy in 1880 and his subsequent concession to Irish agitation that the separatist doctrines and hatred of imperial control in Ireland have ever come to be more than the half-avowed opinions of a small and feeble minority of extreme politicians. Secondly, that the contest now raging in Ireland as to the Nationalist leadership has brought out more clearly and proved more certainly than ever the fact that no reasonable concession or legislative compromise will satisfy the Irish Nation
The recent exposure and the present contest should, it is true, have a beneficial effect upon the fortunes of the Unionist cause. But there must be no slackness, no over - confidence, no abatement of hard work in preparing for the general election. The occurrences to which we allude have enabled the Government to make rapid and satisfactory progress with their legislative measures, and to terminate the winter session at an unexpectedly early period. But there is much to be done in the country in order to bring the real issues of the battle clearly before the eyes of the electoral body. The contest at Bassetlaw has indeed resulted in a glorious victory, but this victory will be worse than a defeat if it should make Unionists supine or over-confident. The tone, the language, the demands of the Irish Nationalists should be recalled and prominently brought before the constituencies. It should also be pointed out that the political Nonconformists, whose prompt and consistent action forced from Mr Gladstone the condemnation of the moral delinquencies of Mr Parnell, have shown no disinclination to ally themselves with those who formally and deliberately condoned those delinquencies by the re-election of Mr Parnell as their leader. Nor should it be forgotten that the
1 Speech at Hawarden, 1886.
Gladstonian party, whilst it shudders with due propriety at the breach of the seventh commandment of which Mr Parnell has been guilty, has not only been condoning offences against the sixth and eighth commandments, by its continued support of those who have been responsible for the Plan of Campaign and its attending outrages, but has consistently violated the ninth commandment throughout the whole of the controversy. What more gross and wicked false witness against a neighbour was ever borne than that which appears in the leading article of the 'Daily News' of December 9, in which Mr Justin M'Carthy is encouraged to move a vote of censure against the Government "for the infamous prosecution of those statesmen and patriots [Dillon and O'Brien] conceived and carried out by Mr Balfour on purely political and personal grounds." According to the Daily News' (which is generally regarded as the organ of the Gladstonian party), Messrs Dillon and O'Brien should have been permitted to break and defy the law; and the Minister is thus denounced who attempts, in the only possible way, to vindicate the law, and protect the Tipperary tenants who had a right to be protected from the ruin brought upon them by the Plan of Campaign inaugurated by those "statesmen and patriots." In this connection, be it remembered that it is but the other day that Mr Gladstone, uttering various ambiguous words about the illegality of the Plan of Campaign, declared that Mr Parnell had "never given a distinct approval of the Plan of Campaign," whilst during the recent debates of the Irish Parliamentary party we actually find Mr Parnell and Mr Sexton squabbling as to which of them was entitled to the credit of having originated the nefarious scheme.
It is not only Mr Balfour, however, who is attacked by the unscrupulous Gladstonian press, which has now fallen upon a new cry with which it is manifestly delighted. The Unionists are accused of backing Mr Parnell, and being prepared to accept his alliance. No charge could be more foolish and more unfounded. No Unionist can have any political sympathy with either of the factions into which the Irish party is at this moment divided. We may indeed express our contempt for the men who were ready to condone a moral offence until they found a political disadvantage attached to the condonation: we may question the high standard of morality of the statesman who, as he told us in his speech at East Retford on December 11, "determined to watch the state of feeling in this country" before he denounced Mr Parnell; and we may have our own opinion of the patriotism and public spirit of the men who left their leader and abandoned the independence of their party in obedience to the commands of that statesman. But sympathy we have none with those who aim at the dismemberment of the empire, any more than with those who, denying that they have any such aim, ally themselves with the dismemberists, and refuse to show us the method by which they intend to maintain the alliance without supporting the dismemberment. It is absolutely untrue that we do, or ever can, sympathise with such men or such views.
If we regard the present schism in the Gladstonian-Parnellite ranks with interest, it is because we see in its origin and progress proof of the strength of our own cause and the truth of our own predictions. When the Gladstonians are denouncing Mr Parnell up hill and down dale as false, untrustworthy, and unscrupulous, we only reply