[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR. "] SIR,—" J. W.," in
the Spectator of October 27th, though a Liberal, thinks there must be something wrong in the policy of the Liberal party towards Ireland, " when we find our measures bearing such disappointing fruits." This kind of feeling is pro- bably very common. The very idea of patience, of waiting for results, of giving time for good influences to counteract evil ones, and for light to get the better of darkness, appears to- have disappeared among whole classes of politicians ; and there is a widely spread notion that in our times, as a consequence of increased intelligence, or of steam and electricity, political de- velopment is, or may be expected to be, indefinitely more rapid. than in former ages. I believe this to be mainly, if not alto- gether, an error. Political development depends on change of mental habits and character, which is a vital process. Steam and electricity can do nothing to hasten it, and education and the increase of knowledge can act only to a very limited extent. Remember Herbert Spencer's saying, which I regard as one of the most luminous ever uttered, though I have nowhere seen it
.noted,—" The social mechanism does not rest on opinions, but almost wholly on character."
It is only fourteen years since religions equality was estab- lished in Ireland, and only thirteen since the first attempt was made by Parliament to reform the worst and most unjust agrarian system existing in any country that did not permit slavery. And there is a special reason why it takes a long time for justice to produce its effect in Ireland. Scientific archmo. logy has made us familiar with the idea of survivals. The period of stone hatchets survives among the Eskimos. The glacial period survives in Greenland. Sir Wyville Thomson maintained that the chalk period survives in the depths of the Atlantic. And in the same way, that worst period of European history, the seventeenth century—the period of the religious 'wars—survives in Ireland. Ireland is two hundred years behind Great Britain in political ideas.
Another hindrance to the work of pacification has been the infatuated conduct of the Irish Conservatives, or at least of their organs in the Press, which, during the recent troubles, thought of nothing but making points against the Government, and—at least during the earlier part of the troubles—were never tired of telling the public that the Government looked on the crimes of the Land-leaguers with secret favour. Conservatives said this till they believed it, and it is reasonable to infer that Land- leaguers and Fenians believed it also.
I admit that all this is but cold comfort. But no one is fit for politics who cannot endure to wait. "Let patience have her perfect work."
" Wait ;—my faith is large in time, And that which works it to some perfect end."