TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE LAST RESORT FOR IRELAND.
IT is surely impossible that Irish affairs can go on as they have done—the English people will not bear it. They are beginning to understand Iriahism better. So long as Ireland was really oppressed, the "wrongs of Ireland" were always translated to be the crimes of English officials - but now the English are begin- ning to understand with painful distinctness how much was con- tributed to " the wrongs of Ireland" by her own children. Do not let us be told of exceptions to the general conduct : such there are, no doubt, and large exceptions ; but the bad spirit belongs to the widest districts, to the most multitudinous classes, to the most active. Thegood exceptions are too weak, too passive perhaps, to
i act on what is properly the national character. Rebellion was a crime easily excused by "oppression," but rebellion was far from being the worst crime committed by Irishmen ; nor is their pro- pensity to murder their worst—nor their conspiracy—nor their repudiation of contracts to pay rent. and other social obligations: their most heinous and deplorable treason is their treachery to truth, and the worst shape of that delinquency is the systematic falsehood which is employed by " Irish patriots " to flatter the weaknesses and bad passions of their countrymen. These are strong terms, and we pause while we use them ; but they are the only terms equal to express the fact. The grossest " wrongs of Ireland" are those inflicted by educated Irishmen, who teach their countrymen to look for subsistence to other things than industry—who call the enforcement of rent " extermination "- who extenuate murder by a quibbling set-off which calls the landlords " murderers "—who are coming from those that will not work to importune hard-working England for money. Yes, Parliament reassembles, and a reinforcement of these patriots stands open-mouthed to burst upon the British Commons with the old nauseous mixture of vituperation, falsehood, and mendi- cant importunity.
But that infliction is not the worst that England will have to endure. There are false facts as well as false words. We know in England that the destitution of our professional beggars is not always feigned—such- is not the sole form of beggary ; but misery is often voluntarily incurred : the beggar prefers the pas- sive endurance of privation to an industrious struggle for his bread. What distinguishes the lowest class in the scale of Eng- lish society is a national characteristic in Ireland. How shame- ful a reproach !—and yet the indignation felt in England is less provoked by the knowledge of having been imposed upon, than by despair at finding that the Irish will not be helped. They cry out that they want " capital " : but after all it is a mere pre- text. Capital is but "accumulated labour "; and if the Irish want it, the reason is that there has been no labour accumu- lated. The Irish preferred to live miserably.= the potato because it required the minimum of la,bour ; they prefer now to live miserably on alma from England ; they neglect the fish at their very shores, to eat the bread of charity ; they strive to wring a pauper-squatter's subsistence out of the soil, by deterring landlords from collecting their rents or changing their tenants ; and if their destitution is not in all cases and in all parts voluntary, the generally low condition which subjects them to the chances of that condition has been the choice of the ignorant Irish, abetted, if not applauded, by those educated Irish who set up for patriots, and are now coming as sturdy beggars to the British Parliament. But England has learned to know their case, and their reception will be different from what it has been. Mr. Roebuck is out of the House, but they will find his spirit there. How will Ministers venture to grant money t Already influ- ential writers, have been recommending, in so many words, that the Irish should be left to starvation if nothing else will teach them. And although Mr. Trevelyan and General Burgoyne, too close to the misery of the wretched people and over-imbued with a natural feeling of compassion, have by anticipation indorsed the begging applications, yet Lord Clarendon has been addressing the Irish themselves in quite an opposite sense. From Lord Claren- don to Mr. Campbell Foster, such objectors speak with a know- ledge of the feeling in England, and of the necessity. The Irish, flattered in their suicidal weaknesses, have made their own case impracticable, and have exhausted the patience of England.
For it is not a mere dislike to give money that will confront the Representative beggars : England is not close-fisted, and enough could be found -for proper uses. It is that in Ireland the money does no good. It excites no gratitude; but as soon as the Irish have received it, they turn round upon us and say that we have only injured them—that we misapply the alms—that it was their own already—nay, they will even say that it has not reached them ! " Thank you for nothing " is the Irish thanks for WI millions. Well, even that might be. got over ; but the money really does seem to work mischief. It makes the Irish Worse beggars—it is a premium to them to be more destitute, more helpless, until the very heaping up of aid seems• to extin- guish hope. The demand for money will be hateful, not only for its begging importunity, but for its thrusting these convictions irresistibly on the English mind.
A change of policy towards Ireland therefore is unavoidable. Last week we indicated the nature of the only innovation that is Practicable—a thorough enforcement of every law. We see that
the idea has taken root elsewhere, and probably it will reap- pear in the substantial_ form of.Ministerial measures. We be-
lieve that for any Ministry Which does not wish to become the object of odium and contempt in England, there is but one alter-
native to that policy of thorough enforcement : the Union must be thoroughly carried out—all must be done for Ireland that would be done for a part of England, and no less exacted from Ireland—or-Ireland must cease to be a part of the same kingdom: there must be an English measure of Repeal.
That Repeal, too, must be thoroughly carried out. If Ireland cannot continue to form part of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom must be quite freed from the embarrassing connexion. The Repeal of the Union, must be absolute, complete, and accom- 'ponied by due precautions,—by an alien act, protecting the Eng- lish labourer from the competition of the hostile Celt, whose standard of remuneration ranks just above starving, though his indifferent industry and squalid habits make him anything but
cheap at the money ; and the whole Western coast of Great Bri- tain must be fortified against Celtic inroad. The Ministers of England must either manage Ireland as England is man, with equal laws and equal responsibility of the subject ; or g- land must be relieved of the connexion.
With all her improvidence, what dark despairing dismay would strike on the soul of Ireland at such a course Imagine the return of the Irish labourers, in sudden multitudes regurgi- tated on the shores—not coming back with the wages of an Eng- lish harvest, but dismissed, for ever dismissed from England, her employment, and her comforts. Call upon the busy and clever " leaders " of the people—the O'Connells and the O'Briens, the Reynoldses and the Meaghers, to say how they would provide for all those multitudes added to their own. Would they give
them employment ?—How ? What industrious work is it that Repealers, " Young " or "Old," provide for their countrymen ?
Would they give them money 1—Whence r There would be no English millions to snatch without thanks. Would they emi- grate1—In what ships? Would they give food 1—What food? They have not been teaching their countrymen to grow enough for themselves ; and till now the shortcoming has been made good with English money to buy maize. True, they might seize the corn and stock of the landlords and better farmers. That would be the sole resource : it is the natural one—the Irish- man's gun : there would be a jacquerie. " Tenant-right" would on the moment swell to confiscation. Landlords would here and there try to save their estates, and their lives, as they tried in France, by falling prostrate before the mob—but vainly. All would be eaten up. One mad, burning, bloody holyday, would consume all; and then the nation would awake, cold and hun- gry, and ask its leaders for bread. But meanwhile, how would "the Black North" behave ? Would -it look on in timid ease, with its Saxon blood unstirred ?
Would it share the wild joys or wilder despairs of the real Irish ? No ; the North would stand to its arms, defensively. The dis- possessed landlords would rally round it :.supplies would be ob- tained from England ; there would be civil war between Irish Catholic anarchy and Protestant order ; Ulster and the landlords would reconquer Ireland ; and Ireland, thus self-pacified, would petition to come back to her old allegiance. Does any one see another outlet ? And will the loyal in Ire- land not think it best and safest for themselves to render such a process superfluous, by energetically aiding "the Government" to enforce allegiance to the laws ?