21 NOVEMBER 1908, Page 33



BIR,—I am sorry that I failed to make my point clear to " J. B. F." (Spectator, November 14th). I had no intention of discussing the character of the majority of the Irish Parliament, which is, of course, a question of opinion. I merely wished to draw attention to a fact,—namely, that Grattan and his Parliament did not steer the country into civil war because they had not the power to do so. The reason for this, as your readers must be aware, was that the Irish Executive were responsible to, and appointed by, the majority in the English, and not the Irish, House of Commons. Owing to the anomalies common to many Parliaments at this period, the Executive were able to command a majority in Parliament without any majority in the country. It was this state of affairs that Grattan tried all through those eighteen years to remedy, and in this attempt he undoubtedly had the support Of Irishmen of every religious persuasion. "J. R. F." illustrates how great was the desire for a reform of the Parlia- ment by quoting with great effect the letters of several United Irishmen. These, and similar letters from men of other parties (written, by the way, after Grattan and the independent Members had seceded from the Parliament), show clearly how unfair it is to saddle Grattan and the Irish nation with the misdeeds of that apology for a representative