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not only with equal justice, but with equal consideration, is making such rapid way in the Irish nation, as to be wearing off all feelings that could make them insensible to the benefits which the less numerous and less wealthy people must necessarily derive from being fellow-citizens instead of foreigners to those who are not only their nearest neighbours, but the wealthiest, and one of the freest, as well as most civilised and powerful, nations of the earth.'
What has happened in the quarter of a century and more which has passed since Mr. Mill wrote to reverse the tendency to unity and reconciliation which he observed to be in operation, and the completion of which he regarded as near at hand? The only remaining real grievance' which he admitted was removed by Mr. Gladstone nearly twenty years ago. Unfortunately the manner in which the thing was done to a great extent marred the beneficial effect of the doing of it. Mr. Gladstone, as he avowed, was animated only by a single regard to right, but the nation, he said, was swayed by fear. He listened to the voice of justice. It listened to the Clerkenwell explosion. He was converted by reason. It was converted by dynamite. No wonder after this statement that dynamite has become the favourite missionary instrument of Irish politics. Mr. Gladstone has been the great adversary of his own reconciling policy. He has done his best of late to revive the bitter memories of the past, and to renew that feeling of hatred on the part of Ireland to England which expresses itself now, not merely in the demand for parliamentary separation, but in manifestations of disloyalty to the Crown. Since Mr. Mill wrote the land system of Ireland has been revolutionised. The farmers of that country, as Mr. Gladstone has declared, possess advantages which are not enjoyed by the tenants of any country in Europe. Yet the hostility of the Irish leaders to England is fiercer than ever; and they have communicated that hostility to a large portion of the Irish people. But the aims of the leaders and the followers are different. With the former complete separation from England is the end desired ; with the latter it is a means to an end.
On this point we commend to our readers the careful study of an excellent and well-written review of the course of Irish affairs during the past fifty years, which Sir Rowland Blennerhassett has contributed to Mr. Humphry Ward's * Reign
of Queen Victoria, published by Smith, Elder, & Co. Sir Rowland Blennerhassett attributes the renewed hostility of Ireland to England to the perpetual unsettlement of the Land Question during the past forty years by inconsistent and con
tradictory legislation. He especially blames the recognition and re-establishment by Mr. Gladstone of the system of dual ownership. The Irish tenants have gained by it, but it has sown the seeds of class hostility and social variance. The Encumbered Estates Acts of 1848 and 1849 were based on the sound principle of single proprietorship, but the framers of those measures set to work in the wrong way. They ignored the fact that, by usage derived from the old tribal system of Ireland, the tenant was, or conceived himself to be, in a certain qualified sense, part owner of the land which he occupied, and that in many cases such improvements as were effected were of his doing. By sales forced or voluntary the land was transferred from impoverished Irish owners to adventurous English capitalists, who in their relations with their tenants acted not so much on the usages of English agriculture as on the doctrines and practices of English trade. They ignored virtual rights, which they deemed to be usurpations, and had no idea of practising indulgences incompatible with the business-like conduct of their estates. The consolidation of holdings and the conversion of tillage into pasture evicted thousands of tenants and unpeopled large districts of their inhabitants, wbo carried with them to America a sense of wrong
which have become an hereditary passion. The famine of 1845 and 1846, due to the potato disease, and the death and expatriation of millions of the people, had thinned the country and laid the basis of that undying animosity of the Irish in America towards England which troubles the New World not less than the Old. For the time, however, the economic result of the change was good. Capital was drawn to Ireland, and as it gave employment to a reduced population, the whole nation entered upon that period of prosperity which in 1860 promised the reconciliation which Mr. Mill at that time regarded as all but accomplished.
The indifference of the Irish people at home to political agitation had been shown in the collapse of O'Connell's movement for Repeal, and in the ridiculous catastrophe of the rebellion of Young Ireland at Ballingarry. There had been two currents of dissatisfied feeling in the country: one, agrarian, animating the great bulk of the peasantry; the other, purely political, the tradition of which descended from Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone, and Emmett to Meagher, Mitchel, and O'Brien, and which continued far into the nineteenth century the disaffected Republicanism of the Protestant North at the close of the eighteenth. VOL. CLXVI. NO. CCCXXXIX.
Each of these agencies was powerless apart. For some time they went their separate ways. The Roman Catholic clergy, then the leaders of the peasantry, from whom in the main they sprang, and not as now their followers, set themselves against the Fenian movement, which revived in a baser form the traditions of the United Irishmen' and of “Young Ireland. Mr. Isaac Butt, who had begun his career as an Irish Conservative, and who in that character had defeated a motion in favour of Repeal moved by O'Connell in the Dublin Corporation, returned to political life, after an interval of eclipse, as an advocate of sweeping reforms in the land system of Ireland. Afterwards he became the preacher of Home Rule, in a sense, unlike Mr. Gladstone's, theoretically at least compatible with the maintenance of the Act of Union in its most essential points. Mr. Butt, however, did not take up the Home Rule question until the Land Question had, as it was supposed, been settled, once for all, by the first of Mr. Gladstone's final measures--that of 1870.
The passage the year before of the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill became, as we have pointed out, as much an incentive to disturbance as an instrument of reconciliation, through the unfortunate avowal of its author, an avowal which may have been true as expressive of his own state of mind, but which was a libel on the mind of Parliament and the nation—that it was brought into the sphere of practical politics through the alarm expressed in England by the attempt to blow up Clerkenwell Gaol. This was one of a series of outrages due to the Fenian organisation, and to the strength which it had received through the disbanding of the Irish brigades, which had served on either side in the American Civil War. These criminal attempts, though annoying, and in the places where they occurred alarming, were not seriously dangerous to the Empire. They were the work of the Irish enemy in America, with which the bulk of the Irish in Ireland had no active sympathy. The danger began when the idea occurred to Mr. Davitt of associating an agrarian agitation with the separatist movement, adding to the cry of Ireland for the · Irish' the cry of “The Land for the People'—that is to say, for certain people to whom it does not belong. Mr.
, Gladstone once charged Mr. Parnell, in language for which he has since half apologised, with marching through plunder to disruption. That, no doubt, was Mr. Parnell's aim. Plunder was his means, disruption his end. He has declared that he would not have taken off his coat to help in the work of land reform, except as an instrument of Irish independence. On the other hand, the Irish people, in the Davitt-Parnell sense of the term, are indifferent to disruption, but they care a great deal for plunder; and they take the road to dismemberment as a short cut to spoliation. An Irish Parliament will, they fancy, give them the lands they occupy for their prairie value or for nothing at all. Thus, through the astuteness of Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt, the association has been effected of a handful of political adventurers, in whose ranks are, no doubt, to be found one or two patriotic enthusiasts, but most of whom desire an Irish Parliament from motives of personal ambition and greed, with the tenant class, who wish to be placed in possession of other men's property. This combination has put what is called the Irish people at Mr. Parnell's back. It has given to the rebel conspiracy the force to which Mr. Gladstone has surrendered. He possibly thought that his second Land Bill of 1881 would detach the farmers from the politicians. He may have supposed that by the suspension of the ordinary law through Ireland, by the abolition in some cases of trial by jury, by the ruthless exercise of the power of imprisonment, he would take the heart out of the rebel movement. But the alliance of plunder and disruption has held together. The Land Bill of 1881 has rather aggravated, on its purely political side, than abated, the evil which it was intended to redress. The system of judicial rents has made the relation of landlord and tenant one of constant quarrel and periodic litigation. Some of those who supported it failed to see in it that final settlement which Mr. Gladstone perceives in every measure which he introduces; but they thought that it might procure an interval of peace until a large scheme could be prepared for transferring by fair purchase to such cultivators of the soil as chose to use it the ownership of their farms in fee simple. The refusal of the Irish tenants to fulfil their duties under an Act framed for their benefit, their repudiation, at the instigation of the authors of the Plan of Campaign, of their obligation to pay more than such fraction of their rents as suits them, have transformed the message of peace into a declaration of war.
Lord Hartington said at Manchester that reunion is impossible with that section of the Liberal party which proclaims the rightfulness of violent resistance to distasteful laws, and denies the validity and sanctity of contracts. Unfortunately, these words describe the attitude which Mr.
Gladstone has taken up. By a moral perversion, which we believe to be without parallel in the history of English statesmanship, he has become a convert to doctrines and an abettor of tactics which set aside the elementary obligations of citizenship and of commercial good faith. He declares that the conduct of tenants in combining to keep possession of their land and to withhold their rent is analogous to the action of artisans in combining to arrange the terms on which, in future, they will sell their labour; and Mr. John Morley, whose hand is becoming deeply dyed with the stains of the base material in which it works, is not ashamed to echo the assertion, which it is indulgent to call a sophism. If, as has been said, a body of artisans, who had made a contract to work for a certain rate of wages, were to repudiate the bargain and, taking possession of their employer's factory and machinery, were to use them for their benefit until they could exact higher wages, the analogy would be close; but to state the facts truly would not answer any profitable demagogic purpose. Mr. Gladstone's language on other subjects has been not less mischievous; and his conduct has been marked by the grossest inconsistency. On May 24, 1882, Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons defined boycotting as combined intimidation for destroying private liberty of choice by fear of ruin and starvation, and as having murder for the sanction by which alone it can be made effective. In 1885 Mr. Gladstone was still of the same mind. He wrote a letter to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, emphatically denying that the Government of which he was the head, when it resigned office in that year, had decided to abandon the legislation then in force against boycotting. The Government, he said, had resolved to abandon the coercive clauses of the measure about to expire, but intended to invest the Viceroy by statute with power to enforce the procedure clauses which related to changes of venue, special juries, and boycotting whenever and wherever necessary. · The single point,” he added, which remained * for further consideration was whether the provisions as to . boycotting, of which we had resolved to recommend the
retention, should remain in force unconditionally throughout Ireland, or, like the other provisions, should be left
subjected to executive discretion.'* This year a great change has come over Mr. Gladstone's mind. Addressing a group of Dissenting ministers invited to meet him at Br.
* Annual Register for 1885, p. 164.