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Unionists, declared that, although he and his present colleagues might not see clearly the immediate future in Ireland, they 'saw quite clearly the direction and path they ought to follow. On this account he claimed the implicit confidence, as well as the enthusiasm and energy, of the rank and file of the party. Sir Charles Russell at Poplar (Jan. 14) had not been able to discover any dissensions in his party, although one man had caused a passing cloud. He would not say anything about the moral obliquity of Mr. Parnell and his friends on the present occasion, and he was equally silent as to their striking virtues, which he had so vigorously championed a few months previously. Mr. Chamberlain at Birmingham (Jan. 15), replying to Mr. Morley, declared Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule policy to be "smashed, pulverised, and destroyed." The Parnellites had proved to be neither Nationalists nor patriots, but "mercenaries paid by foreign money," and they were "not fit associates for English statesmen now that their characters were known and their methods exposed." Mr. Morley, in his most recent speeches, had yielded all the points on which Mr. Parnell had pressed him-" giving up the appointment of the judges and magistrates, the control of the police, and the settlement of the land question into the hands of an Irish Parliament. But where was this complacency going to stop? Rather than make these interminable concessions it would be better to have separation at once.'
It was, however, left to the Earl of Derby at Manchester, and Sir Henry James at Bury, to put more seriously before their hearers the political situation and its altered aspect. The former (Jan. 16) confessed that when he first joined the Unionists in opposition to Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule policy he thought that Unionist resistance was more a matter of honourable obligation than a course likely to be attended by success. But the country sided with the Unionists, and, though their majority had shown a little wear and tear in the course of five years, it had never been reduced below eighty, or double the majority necessary to make a party safe. It was comic that the union should have been thought in danger because an Irish gentleman was accused of an offence which he did not commit, and should now be thought safe because that same gentleman had been too attentive to his neighbour's wife. Lord Derby warned the Unionists not to be misled into the belief that Home Rule was dead. He did not blame or criticise the action of the English Liberals in interfering on the question of Mr. Parnell's leadership, and he had no doubt there were plenty of people who, if Nelson were living now, would memorialise the Government against giving him the command of a fleet. But the net result of the dispute which had been going on was to show, as had all along been suspected, that there was no plan of a Home Rule constitution in existence at all. "The secret had been admirably kept, because there was no secret to keep."
He doubted whether the fight in the Irish party
would last, for the combatants would probably act in the spirit of the advice given by Erskine to the prisoners he was defending on a charge of treason, and who seemed inclined to fall out with each other: "Gentlemen, you had better hang together, for if you do not you will certainly hang separately." No Unionist, Lord Derby added, needed to take sides in the present quarrel. There were many who would think that though Mr. Parnell was not a hero or a saint, he was "quite good enough for the lot he had to do with." Under all the circumstances he looked to the future with confidence.
Sir Henry James devoted himself to exposing the ridiculous charge brought against the Unionists of being friends of Mr. Parnell, and at the same time vindicated for the Liberal section the Unionists' special claim to popular support and sympathy. The recess speeches were brought to a close by speeches from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir M. Hicks-Beach, and the Prime Minister, the Marquess of Hartington reserving his address to his constituents until after Parliament had reassembled.
Mr. Goschen at Maidstone (Jan. 20) claimed credit for the Government having achieved some solid work, and expressed the belief that before the Session closed they would have other claims to public confidence, notwithstanding Mr. Gladstone's oft-repeated assertion that there could be no steady march of legislation until the Irish question was settled. They intended to deal with Friendly Societies and especially those of working-men, and to give them better security for their savings; they hoped to take off some of the strain which working-men felt in providing education for their children, and they were anxiously pushing forward measures for the more effectual repression of the Slave Trade in Africa. Turning to the Irish question, Mr. Goschen said the Unionists' contention was still exactly the same as it had been, that the dangers of Home Rule to the country, to its power, to its cohesion, to its civil peace, infinitely outweighed any arguments which might be urged in favour of Home Rule. He would not argue that, merely because the Irish party had lost its leader, therefore Home Rule had received a blow. It was that for years Mr. Parnell had been held up as a thorough specimen of a statesman-the wise leader who would control the people with moderation. When clamouring for the "union of hearts" Mr. Gladstone had said, "I consider Mr. Parnell with his friends. to be in the best sense a conservative and restorative force." In what sense would Mr. Gladstone now consider Mr. Parnell to be a restorative force? Mr. Parnell's promises of finality had turned out to be an imposture. Thus, the heavy blow that Home Rule had received was not only the loss of a leader, but the exposure of a sham. As to the Hawarden interview, Mr. Goschen could not understand Mr. Gladstone's account of it. Mr. Gladstone said that he made no propositions, no proposals, but wanted to widen the field within which ex-Ministers might confer; but, so
far as had transpired, the veteran leader of the Liberal party and the leader of the Irish party had only met in order to deceive each other.
Sir M. Hicks-Beach at Bristol (Jan. 20) spoke almost in the same sense. The suggestions of Mr. Gladstone to Mr. Parnell at the Hawarden meeting amounted, in truth, to a modification of the Bill of 1886, in the sense of giving to the Imperial Parliament greater control over Irish affairs than was given by that Bill. The precise number of Irish members to be retained at Westminster was not known, but if there were any truth whatever in the suggestion that it was to be thirty-two or thirty-four, in place of 103 as at present, such a proposition seemed to be about as bad as could be conceived. In fact it gave an Irish representation in the Imperial Parliament large enough to do mischief to England, but not large enough to do good to Ireland. Sir M. Hicks-Beach went on to express his opinion that whenever this written memorandum was disclosed, something would surely be found in it embodying Mr. John Morley's desire to keep back the settlement of the Irish land question from the Irish legislative body.
Mr. Gladstone, he continued, "is bound by his own statements not to bring in a Home Rule scheme which will not satisfy the aspirations of the Irish Parliamentary party. Mr. Parnell and his friends have said that they will not be content with any Home Rule scheme that does not settle the land question in the way they propose, and that does not give to the Irish Parliament and Executive full control over the judiciary and constabulary. Mr. McCarthy and his followers dare not, for their own sake, ask for less terms than these. It is possible that Mr. John Morley and Sir George Trevelyan may climb down. They are rather invertebrate animals. But there are forces in favour of maintaining that control over an Irish Legislature and an Executive which the Irish Parliamentary party must repudiate, and which Mr. Gladstone cannot safely disregard. With the enormous difficulty staring him in the face, is it a wonder that Mr. Gladstone is not eager to pro-duce that written memorandum, and is it wonderful that, the other day, he rather passed from the subject of Irish Home Rule, which hitherto he has put forward as the one object of the remainder of his political career, and suggested to his party that they should take up a Registration Bill and the question of one man one vote?"
Lord Salisbury at Cambridge (Jan. 21), and Lord Hartington at Rawtenstall (Jan. 24), alike dealt with the more recent developments of the Irish question. The former, admitting that it was an exaggeration that recent events had destroyed Home Rule, strenuously denied that Home Rule had ever been on the point of victory, as Mr. Morley had asserted on the eve of the Eccles election. Home Rule owed its existence to two very clever men-Mr. Parnell and Mr. Gladstone. As long as the support
of these two men was given to Home Rule it would be unsafe to conclude that the battle was over, and that they might safely lay their arms aside. Lord Salisbury thought it was tolerably evident that Mr. Parnell's recollection of the Hawarden interview was more accurate than Mr. Gladstone's, for if any document had been in existence that would prove Mr. Parnell to be wrong, that document would by this time have been produced. But it was not a question of first-rate importance what Mr. Gladstone had thought, or said he thought, eighteen months ago, as the probability was that it bore no measurable relation to what he would think, or would say he would think, eighteen months hence. It was not easy to believe that it was a pure enthusiasm for the Seventh Commandment which induced Mr. Parnell's followers first to assemble in a hall in Dublin and to defend him against Saxon assailants, then to assemble in a committee-room of the House of Commons, and elect him unanimously to be their leader, and then, on the ground of outraged morality, to denounce him as a man unfit to lead them. In the same way the Liberal leaders had not entirely justified their claim to be considered champions. of morality in this matter. No denunciation of Mr. Parnell came from the leader of the Liberal party for fully ten days after the grave truths on which it was based were revealed; and as for the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, they carefully waited until the majority of the Parliamentary party had pronounced against Mr. Parnell, and it was not until a fortnight had elapsed that they "gently descended on the right side of the fence." What had taken place furnished what might be called a rehearsal of Home Rule, and had shown how Home Rule worked indoors. in Committee Room No. 15. They had seen how it worked out of doors in various places in the way the candidature of Sir J. Pope Hennessy was discussed in Ireland. They had often been told that a future Irish Parliament would never think it its duty to quarrel with England; but there were points on which fatal divergences of opinion must arise. There was the question of Free Trade, and the question of custom-house duties on both sides, which must furnish endless cause for friction. There was the question of communication with foreign Powers, which must raise endless differences. They had seen the two sections of the Irish party flying at each other's throats, and losing no opportunity of ruining each other in the popular view. Each had tried to prove the other less anti-English than itself, that the monopoly of hatred of England was with itself, and that in all matters on which England insisted it was prepared to offer a more bitter resistance than its rival. But there was another phenomenon more formidable still. One of the great dangers of the people of the North of Ireland was that they would be subject to priestly rule. Priestly rule was the vice of religious organisation. It was an attempt to use the influences, gained by teachers of religion by virtue of their high mission, in the furtherance of secular ends..
In Ireland the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, for their own reasons, deserting their high functions, leaving aside altogether the supernatural doctrine with which they were charged, resolved that it was their interest that Home Rule should be obtained, and, therefore, that Mr. Gladstone should be gratified in the matter of Mr. Parnell's ostracism; and, when they had resolved upon that point, they applied the whole force of their matchless organisation to carry it into effect. They were fighting against the man who up to that time had commanded the Nationalist forces in Ireland as a despot, and yet, almost at a moment's notice, they were able to bring nearly the whole of their clerical powers to bear, and, in the only battle that was fought, to sweep him from the field. That was the organisation which, if they granted Home Rule, would govern Ireland in future.
Lord Salisbury then went on to insist upon the peculiarities of the Irish character, and the condition of the country, with a population tending always to increase out of all proportion with its resources. Although peasant proprietary did not attract capital, it encouraged thrift and industry, and in this way it would lead to voluntary emigration, and perhaps to the development of fresh channels of labour. He held, therefore, that the duty of Government was to encourage the formation of a peasant proprietary by identifying the ownership and occupancy of the soil; by the multiplication of means of cheap conveyance; and by the maintenance of law and order, resisting those nostrums and panaceas which were only political experiments. If the Unionist party by its efforts not only succeeded in dissipating idle dreams and driving to a distance fallacious projects, but also in passing measures which should lay a deep foundation for Irish future prosperity, the future generations would bless those who were so deeply cursed now, and the present upholders of the Unionist struggle would be looked upon as the future founders of the Irish nation.
Lord Hartington in addressing his constituents drew a practical lesson from the progress made with public business in the short Autumn Session, the Irish being too much occupied with their own domestic affairs to obstruct the work of Parliament. Echoing the views of his lieutenant, Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Hartington declared that as a practical policy Home Rule was dead. At the same time Home Rule would remain a portion of the policy of the Opposition. It would have to be retained for a time, at all events, to do duty at contested elections, and to give an excuse for the opposition which they desired still to carry on against the Government in restoring, establishing, and preserving order and good government in Ireland. The Opposition were bound in honour by the course which they had taken towards their Irish allies to maintain Home Rule, for a period at all events, as a portion of their policy. But the policy of Home Rule which they were still compelled to drag about with them, they were