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plete rupture of the British Empire. As an abstract question, the great majority of the Irish race would, we believe, prefer a total separation of their destinies from those of Great Britain to any other settlement. The memories of seven centuries of warfare and oppression have burned themselves into the minds of the Irish race, and have made them bitterly hostile to the very name of England. The fact may be regretted, but it cannot be denied. It will need the experience of years of really good government to convince the majority of Irishmen that the connection of their country with England is in any way desirable for them. This is, indeed, a sentiment; but national sentiments are not less of a political force than material resources. In the present century the national sentiment of Spain proved a more terrible foe to Napoleon than the armies and organization of all the great military powers of Europe. A change in the existing sentiments of the Irish race is requisite for a solution of the Irish question in English politics. And such a change can only be effected by establishing a government in Ireland that will satisfy the practical wants and the national self-respect of the Irish people.
The problem of reconciling the practical independence of Ireland with the integrity of the British Empire is thus beset with difficulties on both sides; but though difficult, its solution is not impossible. The civilized world presents numerous examples of different nationalities united under a strong central government, and yet preserving the control of their own affairs in accord with the bent of their national character.
Hungary, Bohemia, and Galicia are united under the sovereignty of the German House of Hapsburg, while each preserves its distinctive institutions, its parliament, and its language apart. Sweden and Norway, with different traditions and constitution, form one power under one sovereign, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurtemberg retain their national laws and native sovereigns in the great military power of the German Empire. In the British Empire itself, Canada and the Australian colonies possess nearly all the attributes of independent States, regulating their whole internal policy in accordance with their own needs and desires. Such an independence as is enjoyed by any of these would, we believe, satisfy the national aspirations of the Irish people, and such an independence would in no way destroy the unity of the British Empire, as far as the world outside is concerned, or prevent the English people from exercising the full control of their own destinies.
The great obstacle to the concession of such an autonomy to Ireland is, of course, the greed of power on the part of the English people and Parliament. The practical gain drawn from Ireland as
a dependency of England, though large, is daily decreasing with the progressive impoverishment of the country, and is, besides, counterbalanced by the necessarily wasteful expenditure required to keep the population in subjection. The desire to keep Ireland weak through fear of possible rivalry, either in trade or in war, is, no doubt, strong among a large section of the English people, but it is not a motive which is very openly avowed. The cry that the integrity of the Empire would be ruined by the concession of Irish Home Rule, is the strongest argument against the latter with the English masses, both in Parliament and outside it. This, too, is, in its way, a national sentiment, but, as a matter of history, the English people has always shown itself much less tenacious of sentiments than of material interests. The latter are not, we believe, very seriously, if at all, involved in the question of Irish Home Rule, and for this reason we believe that its concession is quite within the range of practical politics, provided the forces of the Irish people are steadily directed to that end. The weapon which recent events have placed in the hands of the Irish leader is an eminently practical one. It is the control of the patronage of the Imperial Government which, if he cannot give to his friends, he can take away from whichever party shows itself hostile to the cause he represents. Before such a consideration we are justified in thinking that the politicians of Great Britain will find a means for dispensing with sentimental reasons even stronger than those which confound the safety of the empire with the establishment of self-government in Ireland.
What the essential parts of such a system of Home Rule as will satisfy Irish demands without conflicting with the real interests of England are, may easily be pointed out. The laws regulating the conduct of life, the possession of property, the education of the people, the development of the resources of the country, and, in a word, all the strictly internal management of the affairs of the Irish people in their own country, must be both made and administered by the free will of the Irish people. The well-being of that people must be the main end of its institutions as far as its own intelligence and public virtue can direct them. That it will always direct them to that end in the best possible manner would be to expect too much from human nature. Every government and every people is liable to errors and wrongs in its policy, but it is essential to any genuine self-government of a people that in its own sphere it shall be supreme. Our own system furnishes ample illustration of this fact. A State may run heedlessly into debt, may elect incompetent officials, may pass injudicious laws, yet the central government has no power to check its course while it does not trench on the general Constitution. So it must be in any system that can have a fair
chance of meeting the requirements of the Irish people. They must be left to make their own laws and take the consequences of them untrammelled by any interference, however well meant on the part of the Imperial Parliament. To establish an Irish Parliament, and then require its acts to be ratified by the Imperial assembly, would be simply to perpetuate the present condition of things under a new name. It would be to continue the effort to govern Ireland in accordance with English ideas and English wishes, and that is precisely the system which has been in force during the whole of this century and the failure of which is the reason for granting independent Home Rule.
Several of the suggestions which have been put forward lately by English public men indicate the difficulties which will be raised on this subject. It has been alleged that the existing laws should be maintained in force in Ireland when it is allowed its own legislature, as if a legislature could be such without the power of making or changing laws imposed on it. Again, it is urged that the rights of property must be maintained according to English ideas, by which, it may be presumed, is meant that no legislation should be allowed to regulate the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland on any pretext, though it is admitted that the present state of things is ruinous and cannot be maintained. A third brilliant requirement is that freedom of conscience should be placed under the supervision of the Imperial Parliament, lest, we presume, Mr. Parnell and his co-religionists should be treated as England treated her Catholic subjects down to 1829. Each of these suggestions carries with it its own refutation. Without making a single change in the existing land law, the official valuers, if appointed by the Irish people, could reduce the rental of the whole country to its prairie value by allowing the tenants the value of their own improvements and those of their predecessors in title. Even as it is, the English Parliament finds itself powerless to obtain for Irish landlords rents which the land does not yield, and an Irish Parliament, even if it had the will, would be equally powerless. To establish an Irish Parliament for the redress of Irish grievances, coupled with a strict prohibition to meddle with the same, would seem a folly too gross for belief, yet it has been publicly put forward in the English Press. The fact shows the necessity of insisting on the absolute independence of the Irish Parliament in all matters relating to Irish internal affairs, if it is not to be the veriest shadow of a dream.
The control of the police force is another power which it has been seriously suggested by English statesmen should be reserved to the Imperial Parliament. The absurdity involved in granting the Irish people the right to make their own laws and judges, but re
fusing them control of the constables employed to carry out the orders of these same judges, does not seem to have occurred to the British public, for the changes have been since repeatedly rung on the police question. In reality the Irish Constabulary system, like the Irish land system, is one of the branches of administration which most urgently require a complete reformation in Ireland, if the public feeling is to be brought into sympathy with the government. Founded on a plan unknown either in England or America, the Irish Constabulary is rather an army of occupation maintained in the interests of the landlord and official classes than a police force. It numbers twelve thousand men drilled in military fashion, and commanded by a staff of officers, under the names of inspectors and sub-inspectors, independent both of the local authorities and of the judiciary, and receiving orders from an Inspector-General in Dublin Castle. The officers are drawn almost exclusively from the anti-national classes, as any manifestation of sympathy with national feelings is regarded by the authorities as a sign of insubordination, and would lead to reprimand or dismissal, as has been shown on more than one occasion. A special precaution to confine the selection of officers to a particular class requires that on their entrance to the force a guarantee must be given by some member of the cadet's family for the payment to him of a private revenue in addition to his pay during an indefinite time. The nomination of candidates is entirely at the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, and Freemasonry is believed to enter largely into the promotions of the officers. The men are drawn from the general population, but they are invariably sent to counties at a distance from their own families, and frequently changed to prevent their becoming familiar with the people. For them, as for their officers, promotion is chiefly to be gained by zeal against all national movements, whether dangerous to the peace or not. At public or even private meetings of men of national politics, constables are constantly sent to take notes and exercise a surveillance over those present. Police surveillance over individuals, obnoxious to the inspectors or their friends, is another regular branch of their duty; and at evictions large bodies are almost invariably in attendance, whether any resistance is offered to the sheriffs or not. As a police force, in the ordinary meaning of the words, the constabulary are almost useless except in a few of the larger towns; but as a means of making the government hateful to the bulk of the people, the system is strangely and perfectly constructed. Its annual cost, four years ago, was nearly seven millions of dollars, while that of public education barely reached three and a half millions, and the support of the poor throughout Ireland only involved a taxation of five and a half millions. That the continuance of such a system of police should be demanded by leading
members of the late English Ministry as a condition of Irish Home Rule, shows more clearly than a thousand pages of argument the incapacity of comprehending the simplest public affairs in Ireland which prevails among English statesmen.
From the foregoing remarks it may be gathered that no system of Home Rule which involves any interference either of English Ministers or of the Imperial Parliament can satisfy the wishes of the Irish people. The concession of elective county boards, partial reforms in the land laws, or allowing a national assembly to exercise the powers now entrusted to some of the numerous “ Boards” that constitute the executive government of Ireland, would be useless in reconciling the minds of the Irish race to the English connection. For them a change of government, come it either within the British Empire or from its dismemberment, is a necessity. Under the combined load of foreign rule, excessive taxation, exorbitant rents, and administrative stupidity, the Irish nation is simply perishing. We have heard an Irish Viceroy, Lord Carlisle, boast, over twenty years ago, that during a still shorter space three hundred and sixty thousand cabins had been swept away from the face of Ireland; manufactures have disappeared one by one, and no sadder sight can be seen by the visitor to Ireland than the walls of the now empty factories and mills which meet the eye in every part of the island. The lands once cultivated have been turned to pasture, and much has relapsed to the barren morass or hill-side from which it had been reclaimed by the toil of the peasants whose cabins have been swept away by the evictor. Forty years ago six millions of acres were cultivated; to-day there are little over five. Every province, Ulster as well as Connaught, has shared in the general ruin, and, indeed, during the decade ending in 1881 the decay of people and wealth was proportionally greater in Ulster than in any other province. The fisheries have dwindled to one-sixth of what they were in 1848, and while the revenues are squandered with a lavish hand on a useless constabulary and a horde of worse than useless officials, the trifling outlay which would provide harbors and piers for the poverty-stricken fishing population of the West, and the want of which exposes them constantly to losses beyond their power to repair, is refused by official arrogance. While every other country in Europe has progressed during the last forty years, the population of Ireland has shrunk from eight and a quarter millions to less than five. The Turk has long been the symbol of misgovernment in the eyes of the civilized world, but no part of the Turkish Empire has experienced such a decay as has fallen on Ireland under the rule of constitutional England. To stop the progress of that decay even now, to remould the institutions of the country, so that its people may live