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selves immoral.' 21 I am not quite sure what are those un-Parliamentary methods to which Mr. Gladstone here refers as being
renounced' by the Irishman, though if they are methods outside the law I see no great merit in their renunciation; and if they are legal methods I do not see why the term un-Parliamentary should be applied to them. But when we are told of the claim for the re-establishment of his imperial independence by the repeal of the Union,' I should like to be told something more. What does Mr. Gladstone mean by 'imperial independence'? Where does he find 'imperial independence' to have existed in Ireland before the Act of Union ? If it existed, how and where did it exist? If it did not exist, how can it be re-established '? I apprehend that the simple repeal of the Act of Union would do nothing but destroy existing arrangements. The work of creation must follow, and it is because it is so vitally important to know what it is that is to be created that Mr. Gladstone has so frequently and so earnestly been pressed to put before the country some definite plan in the place of those proposals of 1886 which were so emphatically rejected by the constituencies. This, however, he has not thought fit to do. The work of destruction is notoriously more easy than that of creation, and, without clearly defining the structure which he would erect upon the ruins of the present system, Mr. Gladstone prefers to do his utmost to destroy the 'moral authority' of the Act of Union, and the credit of those to whose lot it fell to carry that measure through Parliament. The task, however, may prove too great even for the powers of Mr. Gladstone, until the services and character of Mr. Pitt have been forgotten by his countrymen. For although Mr. Gladstone is prepared to admit that in the year 1748 the views of Mr. Pitt for Ireland 'were everything that equity and patriotism could suggest,' 22 he appears to consider that long before 1800 those views had deteriorated into something which cannot be sufficiently reprehended.
It is impossible, within the limits of an ordinary article, to deal with all the charges which are brought by Mr. Gladstone against the British Government, charges so numerous that they would require a volume to refute them, and often so reckless as to carry with them their own refutation. The manipulation of the Irish House of Commons; the various measures passed with the view of preventing, and afterwards of suppressing, the rebellion; the multiplication of armed men, and other matters to which Mr. Gladstone alludes, are all fair subjects of discussion, the value and true bearing of which cannot be appreciated without a full knowledge of the surrounding circumstances of the moment. But Mr. Gladstone is not satisfied with the general condemnation of all the proceedings of the British Government. He describes England as having habitually played 21 Plain Speaking, p. 5.
Ibid. p. 7.
the parts of the Pander, the Jobber, and the Swindler,' 23 towards Ireland, of having infused a 'mass of corruption ’ into her political life, and of having established against her an anti-human system.' 24 He has, moreover, actually declared it proved that Ireland was simply forced into disloyalty by the deliberate agency and fixed policy of the Government, and that there was a plot of the Government against Ireland to make her position intolerable, as the only possible means of contriving the surrender of her nationality.' 25 I would ask the historical student and the public at large,' to whom Mr. Gladstone makes his appeal, to consider the enormity of this charge against the statesmen of 1798-1800, and to decide for themselves, after all, on which side lies the weight of authority. It would seem that, in Mr. Gladstone's views, the rebellion of 1798 was rather meritorious than otherwise, the loyalists and not the rebels were the criminals, and the Government had deliberately brought about the rebellion, in order to carry out their nefarious plan of destroying 'Irish nationality' by the passing of the Act of Union! Let it be noted, moreover, that, at the very moment that he scatters such charges abroad, Mr. Gladstone ingeniously endeavours to avoid the reproach of having attacked the statesmen of 1798-1800, by telling us that
the complicated machinery of modern government makes it difficult, or even impossible, to fasten upon individuals the guilt that belongs to the excesses and outrages of power,' 26 and that it would be difficult to trace out the dark lines of responsibility in the case of the Union with Ireland.' This, however, will hardly be sufficient for the historical student' or for the intelligent public at large.' Mr. Pitt is as much responsible for the Act of Union as is Mr. Gladstone himself for the Irish Church Act of 1869 and the Irish Land Bills of 1870 and 1881. When, therefore, Mr. Gladstone imputes “fraud and violence' to the Union policy, and when he says (as upon a previous occasion that it is his own conclusion and conviction that the main object of the Irish Legislative Union on the part of those who planned and brought it about was to depress, to weaken, and, if possible, extinguish the spirit of Irish nationality,'27 he is just as much attacking Mr. Pitt as an Irish Tory would be attacking Mr. Gladstone if he said that the main object of those who planned and brought about the Acts of 1869 and 1881 was to destroy the Irish Church and to ruin the Irish landlords. Mr. Pitt himself stated his object to be “to identify Irishmen with Englishmen, to make them a part of the same community, by giving them a full share of those accumulated blessings which are diffused throughout Great Britain ; in a word, by giving them a full participation of the wealth, the power, and the stability of the British Empire. Between Mr. Pitt's statements at the time of the 23 Plain Speaking, p. 6.
25 Ibid. p. 10. 26 Ibid. p. 2.
27 Speech at Hawarden, 1886.
24 Ibid. p. 2.
passing of the Act, and Mr. Gladstone's imputations at the present time, every reasonable man may judge and decide for himself.
But the matter does not rest here. Not only did Mr. Canning and other statesmen of that day endorse Mr. Pitt's view and give utterance to the same opinions, but throughout the whole of the period from 1800 to 1886 there has scarcely been a British statesman of note who has not taken the same view of the Union with Ireland. Be it remembered, moreover, that although the political situation has been changed, and the extension of the franchise has given a greater numerical superiority to the Nationalist’ party, the facts of 1798– 1800 remain precisely the same as they were throughout the whole of Mr. Gladstone's political life previous to 1886, and as they were when he supported Sir Robert Peel in his opposition to the Repeal of the Union in 1834. The authoritative voice from Ireland' of which Mr. Gladstone told us in his History of an Idea,28 did not speak until 1885. But that voice could not alter one single fact in the history of the passing of the Act of Union in 1800, and although it might be contended that the expression thus given of Irish feeling justified a re-opening of the question, no such new light was thus thrown upon history as to justify any alteration of the views thereupon which had all along been deliberately held by British states
If the passing of the Act of Union was a base, cruel, and tyrannous attack upon Irish independence and Irish nationality, its character was in no wise changed by any occurrence which has since taken place, nor did it need the "authoritative voice’ to prove it to be such. But if, on the other hand, it was an honest attempt on the part of high-minded and honourable men to unite the two countries by closer ties, to put an end to a system which had proved inconvenient and mischievous, and to consolidate the strength of the empire by forming one united Parliament of all the nationalities comprised within these islands, then, whether the attempt has proved successful or the reverse, it savours to my mind neither of statesmanship nor patriotism to attack and blacken the reputation of the dead by imputing to them motives and intentions the very reverse of those which they professed in their life-time, and accusing them of plotting to destroy the nationality of a country, which was part and parcel of their sovereign's dominions, and the welfare and improvement of which they declared from first to last to be the object of their policy.
24 Fistory of an Idea, p. 13.
THE ART OF CONVERSATION.
Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
It is only since I came to live in London, ne six months
that I have seriously thought about the art of cu 'ersation.
My father and mother are both fond talking, yet I never remember hearing what I now recognise a onversation at home. This may be partly accounted for by the fact my father taking in none of our leading reviews and magazines, unday at Home and the Gardener's Chronicle hardly filling the intellectual void thus wilfully created. At the same time the dulness of their lives may have something to say to this; country surroundings and pursuits provide poor material for conversation, and, outside a charmed circle in London society, to talk agreeably about nothing, or almost nothing, does not come easily to ordinary people. Shut out, then, as they are from the stimulating influences of the periodical press, and of a second post—no second post meaning the London papers a day oldit will readily be imagined that my parents talk of little worth talking about, and that I have learned little from them. My father's attempts are limited to what are familiarly styled travellers' tales, collated from a wide reading of travels, particularly polar travels ; my mother's to fairly accurate observations upon the obvious, such, for instance, as the abundance of our apple blossom, or the scarceness of good plain cooks.
Sometimes, however-indeed, oftener than is supposed—a parent's example becomes useful as a warning when it breaks down as a model ; and in this indirect way I have been able to turn both my father's and my mother's quasi conversation to good account. They have illustrated for me two different but equally certain methods of what has been finely called beheading conversation.
I am afraid I must pass over my mother's method as radically vicious to all time; my father's, however, may certainly have had its vogue, for on more than one occasion I have heard him cited by gentlemen of his own age and standing in our neighbourhood as a valuable addition to their social gatherings on the ground of his being full of information. There is a Rip Van Winkleishness about this idea which is amusing. As all know, conversation is subject to sentimental regulations which the lapse of every few years recasts. Thus the art of conversation varies with the mental habit of the day, and its most agreeable expression is that which best reflects the mental needs and interests of its day. My poor father and his simple admirers are sadly out of date. In the society I am anxious to frequent, to be full of information, particularly of the outlandish information my sire deals in, is, as I am told, to be voted quite a bore. But to admit that the tone of our conversation changes with the shifting needs of our contemporary thought, or that the taste of one time is the distaste of another time, is not of itself enough. To seriously consider the art of conversation of our own day, we must also bear in mind that the character of conversation itself has changed much in the same way as the character of a business changes, when from a private concern it becomes a company, and when-to use the technical expression—its shares are offered to the public. The reason for this change of character is not far to seek. The possibilities of social intercourse and social culture-integral parts, as we must suppose them to be, both of a polite society and a polite style of conversation-have already so increased, and are daily so facilitated and so increasing, that we are being forced out of one into many social groups, according to our social circumstances, tastes, and ambitions; like the Kingdom of Heaven, society and the conversation of society now boast of many mansions. These social groups are knit together by their common allegiance to the taste and tone of the time, to what is styled the spirit of the age. They all observe and respect fundamental points of agreement. But, admitting, as it were, the principle of an Act of Uniformity in social æsthetics, each group interprets the Act very much to its own liking and requirements. It is this expansion of society into societies which has brought about the change in the character of our conversation upon which I am insisting. Conversation, from being almost a private concern, has become a public concern.
Thence comes it that the art of conversation now has its different schools ; just as the arts of painting, of music, and of literature have their schools—every school affecting its own method, its own tests, its own jargon-so many different means to one and the same end, the best expression of art. Take painting: the French school insists on a standard of drawing and enjoins a method of colour which the English school does not insist upon and does not enjoin, yet the expression of the best art is the result both schools are honestly striving to attain. In this way the method and tests and jargon of conversation vary with the school, or rather the society, applying them. They vary as that society is leisured or professional, educated or highly educated, grave or gay. With this variation the