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PARLIAMENTARY MISRULE OF OUR WAR SERVICES. By H. 0.

Arnold-Forster

THE ATTACK ON THE NATIVE States of India. By Mohsin-ul-

Mulk (Mehdi Ali)

THE UNIVERSITIES

IN CONTACT THE PEOPLE.

By J.

Churton Collins

Rome in 1889. By Mrs. Henry Ady

JOURNAL DE Marie BASHKIRTSEFF. By W. E. Gladstone

A RÉSUMÉ OF THE IRISH LAND PROBLEM. By T. W. Russell

THE COMPARATIVE INSENSIBILITY OF ANIMALS to Pain. By Dr.

W. Collier

Ox some War Songs of Europe. By Miss Laura A. Smith

Old Country Houses. By Sir Edward Strachey

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL TRAINING OF CHILDREN. By Mrs. Jessie

Waller

Lady Toad. By Professor Max Müller

The City of LHásá. By Graham Sandberg

WATER POACHERS. By John Watson

The Middle CLASS AND THE New LIBERALISM. By the Rev. J.

Guinness Rogers

The New TRADES-UNIONISM. By Frederic Harrison

THE NEW TORIES. By the Duke of Marlborough

The New NATIONAL PARTY. By Montague Crackanthorpe

AUSTRALIA Fifty YEARS AGO. By Sir Henry Elliot

WOMEN OF TO-DAY. By Lady Catherine Milnes Gaskell

Tue History Of A STAR. By J. Norman Lockyer

Roman CATHOLICISM IN AMERICA. By J. E. C. Bodley

ARE THEY GRIEVANCES ? By the Rev. Dr. Jessopp

CRITICISM AS A TRADE : A Reply. By the Rer. Alfred J.

Church

MODERN GAMBLING Gambling Laws. By G. 'Herberi

Stutfield

· Memo' ON CLASSES IN THE SOUDAN.

By the late General

Gordon

A PROBLEM IN MONEY. By Robert Giffen

The English CHURCH UNDER HENRY THE EIGHTH. By W. E.

Gladstone

IS IT OPEN TO THE COLONIES TO SECEDE

Sir Julius Vogel

STAMPING OUT PROTESTANTISM IN Russia. By the Rev. Dr.

Wright

The DREADFUL Revival

LEPROSY. By Sir Moreli

Mackenzie

PARLIAMENTARY FRANCHISES, Past and PRESENT. Sir John

Lambert

THE VENOMOUS SNAKES OF INDIA. By Sir Joseph Fayrer

NOTICEABLE Books. (1) By W. E. Gladstone. (2) By Augustine

Birrell. (3) By Walter Pater. (4) By Hamilton Aidé.

(5) By Walter Frewen Lord .

The AWAKENING OF PERSIA. By E. F. G. Law
MR. GIFFEN'S ATTACK ON BIMETALLISTS. By Professor Ni-

cholson

THE IRISH MALADY AND ITS PHYSICIANS. By Frank H. Hill

NOTES ON THE LATEST LAND PROGRAMME. By the Marquis of

Waterford

IN PRAISE OF LONdon Fog. By M. H. Dziewicki

ELECTORAL Facts OF TO-DAY. By W. E. Gladstone

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THE

NINETEENTH

CENTURY.

No. CXLIX.-JULY 1889.

PLAIN SPEAKING ON THE IRISH UNION.

SOME weeks ago, when treating of a point of Irish policy in the House of Commons, I found occasion to refer to the course of transactions by which the legislative Union between England and Ireland was brought about. I stated that it was a case which, on the part of England or of those who used its authority, combined violence and fraud, baseness, tyranny, and cruelty, in a degree rarely if ever paralleled in history. The Irish Minister, naturally enough, animadverted upon language which he said even exceeded the violence usual with the speaker in treating of that particular subject, who had brought ‘bad history to the support of bad politics.' He denied that such phrases were justly applicable to the course of proceeding which brought the Union into existence; while, on the other hand, he admitted that there were various or perhaps many incidents which were 'unhappy' and (using a word coined, I think, at the Foreign Office) 'regrettable.'

Were it not that it is the duty of a Minister to know something of the history of the country which he governs, I should find but moderate fault with the censure thus pronounced upon me by the Irish Secretary, as I believe that his words represented what either is, or was until three or four years ago, the average sense and standard of the majority of Englishmen with regard to this great and ill-understood subject. It is also still the language usual with a large 'assorted' party. To a given extent it even enlists my sympathy: for we are naturally inclined, nay in the absence of knowledge we are almost bound, to believe that epithets so extreme must be in excess of any VOL. XXVI.-No. 149.

B

ill-deserts, on any given occasion, of civilised and Christian governments. Unquestionably my language was violent, unless it was deserved. But, if it was deserved, it was not violent; for violent language means language in excess of what the case warrants and requires. I suppose it to be admitted, without reference to Ireland, that there are monsters recorded in history; that the acts of these monsters ought to be branded by the judicial historian in the strongest terms he can find; that such descriptions are not violent but true; and that rose-water delineations of them are injurious both to truth and to morality.

It is for some of us a happy circumstance 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. On an occasion now nearly forty years old, when it was my business to impeach with vehemence the method of rule that prevailed in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I found it a relief to be unable to say that this man or that man was personally to be loaded with that weight of guilt, which nevertheless was plainly chargeable somewhere or other. Still more difficult would it be to track out the dark lines of responsibility in the case of the Union with Ireland. For in these are presented to us a group of agencies which it would be hard, and is not needful, to disentangle. We have, besides the demoralised and cruel soldiery, yeomanry, and other direct agents of the anti-human system, the Irish Parliament, sedulously corrupted from England with an ever increasing energy and determination ; the men of the old Protestant monopoly, still holding a large share of power; the political, or as they may be called Anglican, members of the Dublin Castle Government; behind them the evershifting Viceroys, and again, in still deeper shadow, the Home Secretary commanding or advising from Whitehall, and behind him a Prime Minister oppressed with the cares of a gigantic war—the only cares for which his truly great genius does not seem to have been altogether qualified.

I have been unable to dismiss from my mind the necessity of an endeavour to elucidate this question. To do it in the House of Commons would probably be denounced as an unwarrantable obstruction of its business, since that House is not a tribunal intended to decide the controversies of the past. To do it in a speech before a miscellaneous audience would be to refer it to a tribunal hardly suited for historical appreciation. I have still open to me the alternative of the press. I wish, then, to lay before those who may not renounce the solitude of the study, some partial sample, some brief resumption of the facts. No adequate history of the Union has yet been written. It is probable that many of the verifying documents have not yet seen the light. A brief and fugitive article cannot in any way supply the place of such a history; and yet I believe it can indicate enough to justify such words of condemnation as are justly reserved for the darkest among the crimes of governments.

To vindicate truth buried in the dust of other centuries or generations is a noble, but not always an urgent, duty. There is in this case an urgency of a character perfectly separate and, when stated, glaringly clear. Englishmen are in truth an imperial race. But they are not and cannot be faultless. They have been comfortably ensconced in a belief of their own habitual moderation and humanity, past as well as present; and they have, at least in their governing classes, cherished and handed onwards an assumption that the Act of Union bears on it no damning stain, even if it may present to us such notes of human infirmity as are unhappy' and regrettable.' According to this view, nothing has occurred to deprive it of the moral authority which, in addition to physical backing, is in a civilised country the general and necessary attribute of law. No one has been more ready than the Englishman to admit, or even to contend, that tyranny may justify and require revolt, and that laws brought into existence by tyranny may be proper objects of national resistance. But he has managed to see and know in the Irish Union not tyranny, atrocity, and baseness, but only such an intermixture with the inception of a great statute, as is ordinary enough, of things unhappy’and things 'regrettable.' With such ideas for a point of departure, he, as a law-abiding citizen, is consistently shocked when he finds an Irishman declining to admit the moral authority of the Union; regarding the sovereignty exercised in its name by England over his country as illegitimate; or even, in his natural exasperation, desiring that that sovereignty should be destroyed.

All this I have lately had the advantage of seeing vividly brought out in a visit to the Parnell Commission. If I offer a remark upon the proceedings in that Court, it will, I think, be seen to be historical rather than polemical, and to be entirely free from the objection justly attaching to all attempts to interfere by antecedent criticism with the proceedings of a court of justice. For the Commission was appointed, as I understand, for a double, not a triple purpose ; it was to examine into the origin of certain forged letters, and into an alleged complicity of Nationalists with crime; but not, so far as I know, to investigate the views of Irishmen on the moral authority of the Act of Union. Yet I heard questions addressed, in evident good faith, by the Attorney-General to Mr. W. O'Brien, which appeared to imply that some grave and special charge would be established against certain Irishmen in particular, if it could be shown that they regarded the power wielded in Ireland by England under the Act of Union as an alien and intrusive power. “The only objection,' asked' Sir R. Webster,' that you had to rebellion was, that it | Times, May 21, 1888.

was hopeless ?' 'Certainly,' replied Mr. O'Brien, at the same time stating that his opinions had been very much in advance of most Irishmen.' Doubtless they are in advance, as regards such near contemplation, at least in idea, of the terrible contingencies of civil war. But, if we extrude the actual phraseology of blood and iron,' I should like to have put to Mr. O'Brien the question, whether he, and whether, so far as he knew, the Irish nation in common with him, regard the Act of Union (under which Ireland is now governed) as possessed of the same moral authority as they would ascribe to the laws against theft and murder, or indeed as possessed of any moral authority at all? I have not a doubt that Mr. O'Brien would have answered (for it is the juridical basis of the reply I have quoted) that they did regard the Act of Union as being for Ireland an act of force, to which Ireland has no moral but only a prudential obligation to conform. There may indeed be immorality in miscalculated resistance even to immoral laws; but such resistance is not in itself immoral. The Imperial Government, as it legally subsists in Ireland, is in the view of Ireland—that is of a vast majority of her people—a government of force and not of right. The true question is whether Ireland has anything, and if anything how much, to say in support of her contention, and whether that worship of the Act of Union, which Sir R. Webster exacts, would be piety or superstition.

Now, in virtue of principles accepted by Tories and Liberals alike, no law can possess moral authority in Great Britain, can be invested with that real sacredness which ought to attach to all law, except by the will of the community. It may have been prompted, it may only have been accepted, by that will. A general or prevailing resistance to a measure before it became law, from those whom the Constitution had authorised to judge, would destroy its title ab initio, and in a free country it is clear beyond dispute that nothing could cover such a vice, short of an acceptance, which, if subsequent, should be unequivocally palpable, general, and free.

Now the avowed principle of the Act of Union was that England and Ireland were to be governed by equal laws. As Mr. Pitt said in his fine quotation,

Paribus se legibus ambæ

Invictæ gentes æterna in fædera mittant. It may be said that these words admit of local or temporary adaptations in one country, which are not suitable, and which therefore would be improper, in the other. Even here the case must be clear, the necessity evident, the law of measure strictly observed. I will not now argue the question how far in details of legislation this law of parity has been observed. But I will observe that there is one thing which the proposition of Mr. Pitt indubitably requires, and that is that, if not laws in every case, yet the principles of law shall be absolutely the same. But with us the condition of consent is not

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