CONSERVATIVE POLICY' TOWARDS IRELAND.
ACERTAIN Government-House in India used to be known at one time as " The Land of Promise," because its amiable and accomplished occupant was a man who could not bear to say " No" to any applicant who solicited a favour. But the Governor was a cautious man withal. He never actually committed himself, never made an explicit promise ; he was simply prodigal of sunny smiles and bland speeches, which, however, had invariably the effect of dismissing the petitioner in the fond belief that his prayer would be granted. Of coarse it was not granted in the vast multitude of cases, and the dis- appointed suitors were in the end much more offended than they would have been by the bluntest refusal in the first in- stance. We fear that Lord Carnarvon is preparing a similar experience for himself in Ireland. He is exciting hopes which he must eventually disappoint. What does he intend to do in the Maamtrasna case No fresh evidence is forthcoming, and without fresh evidence of a very cogent kind the Viceroy will hardly venture to cancel the verdict of an impartial Jury, con- firmed as it was by a moat able and conscientious Judge, and still further ratified by the careful inquiry of Lord Carnarvon's predecessor and the Irish Lord Chancellor. To upset, without overwhelming evidence, a conviction fortified by so many safe- guards, would strike so serious a blow at the administration of justice in Ireland that it would be unjust to Lord Carnarvon to believe him capable of it. The outburst of indignation caused by his agreeing to reopen the case at all must have proved to him how impossible it would be to try an additional experiment of a more aggravated kind on the patience of the British public. But if, on the other hand, Lord Carnarvon confirms the finding of Lord Spencer, he will speedily find himself figuring in Parnellite rhetoric as an accomplice in Lord Spencer's alleged crimes. His bedroom reception of the Limerick deputation exhibited a similar want of firmness and foresight. He made no distinct promise to the deputation ; but he expressed his " sympathy " with them, and sent them away rejoicing. Where is the justification for Lord Oarnarvon's sympathy The lawlessness prevalent in Limerick compelled the Irish Government to protect the loyal and peaceful portion of the population with extra police, and the additional expense thus caused was charged, under the provisions of the Crimes Act, on the Corporation of Limerick. The Corporation has hitherto absolutely refused. to pay the additional rate, because they disliked the Crimes Act ; and they sent a deputation to Lord Carnarvon to demand unconditional exemption from this legal obligation. Lord Carnarvon receives this deputation in his bedroom, and, with honeyed words of sympathy, dismisses them to their homes, after regaling them with a good luncheon. Yet the Tory leaders, including Lord Carnarvon, employed themselves for years in abusing the late Government for not enforcing the law with sufficient vigour in Ireland. Does Lord Carnarvon intend to enforce the law against the Limerick Corporation I If he does, what is the meaning of his " sympathy"? If he does not, he has put a premium on lawlessness throughout Ireland. The Limerick deputation, at all events, have given him to understand with cynical frankness that they accept the Viceregal sympathy as a con- donation of their offence.
It is not to be wondered at that an Irish Viceroy who qualifies in this way for Irish goodwill should be received in Galway with that species of gratitude which has been defined as a lively anticipation of favours to come. The City of the Tribes has long been jealous of Queenstown and Liverpool, and has never surrendered the hope of supplanting its more fortunate rivals in Trans-Atlantic traffic. The Chairman of the Galway Town Commissioners accordingly presented an address to the Viceroy, in which special distinction is claimed for the " ancient city for its loyalty," a loyalty which it exhibits by choosing for its representative in Parliament one of Mr. Parnell's most active lieutenants. But there was a practical purpose in the worthy Commissioner's blarney. " Our geographical position," he went on to say, " entitles us to become the emporium between the Old World and the New ; but our magnificent bay is not the resort, as it should be, of the mercantile fleet of the world. Trans-Atlantic traffic passes our Island by circuitous routes, when Galway, if our harbour was improved; should be the point of arrival and departure of ocean steamers." " Railway facilities," too, " and deep-sea fisheries, and other material sources of prosperity," are at present mere tantalising potentialities for lack of money to turn them into realities. The City of the Tribes therefore, much as it may hate British rule, will by no means disdain British gold. And so the Galway Town Commissioners " fondly trust your Excellency's powerful influence will be directed to remedy the condition to which we have alluded." And his Excellency was equal to the occasion. " Some of those industries which were known in former days, have perished. Can they not be revived ? Some of those industries which exist languish. Can there not be put a little more force and vigour into them f Some of those industries are latent. Cannot we yet find means to develop them ?" These questions and answers were received with cheers. Now there are two methods of reviving Irish industries—the Liberal method and the Tory. The Liberal method is to strike the shackles off the arms of industry ; to give the Irish tenant, and labourer, and tradesman, security that they shall reap in peace the fruit of their energy and toil ; to bring every capable Irish- man within the pale of the British Constitution and put him on a level, in all respects, with all other citizens of the United Kingdom. Liberals remember that Irish industries were killed by bad laws ; they have therefore struggled, with success, to abolish those laws and give Ireland good laws. The Tory method is to preserve the bad laws and govern
Ireland by alternate doses of coercion and bribes. The bad laws of Ireland have been abolished, one by one, in the teeth of Tory opposition. The good laws have been enacted in spite of Tory resistance. It is not by a system of subven- tions and artificial nursing that Irish industries can be revived, but by just laws and firm and equitable administration. This was evidently not the moral which the good people of Galway drew from Lord Carnarvon's ambiguous references to Irish industries. And when the day of reckoning comes their dis- appointment will be even keener than their present hopes. Lord Carnarvon will yet have to pay a heavy price for the very superficial and qualified popularity which has hitherto marked his residence in Ireland. " The little rift within the lute " has already marred the music of the Viceroy's welcome, and the Parnellite press has peremptorily demanded " a general jail delivery " on pain of meting out to Lord Carnarvon the treatment which rewarded Lord Spencer's most just and humane administration. We could understand, and in some measure respect, the new Tory policy towards Ireland if it were based on a peni- tential confession of past errors, with a promise of amendment in the future. If Mr. Howorth, for example, were to say :— We Tories have been all wrong in our treatment of Ireland in the past. We resisted Roman Catholic emancipation. We resisted Municipal Reform in Ireland. We resisted every step in the liberation of the Irish people, priests and laity, from the incubus of an alien Church. We resisted every improvement in the Land Laws of Ireland. One of our most distinguished leaders was cheered vociferously by his party when he de- nounced the Irish as ' aliens in religion, aliens in language, aliens in blood.' The only laws which we have cordially helped the Liberals to pass for Ireland have been laws of coercion ; and our only quarrel with them has been that they did not make a sufficiently vigorous use of the coercive powers which Parliament gave them. But now we have seen the error of our wa'ys and we are going to turn over a new leaf and enter into an honourable rivalry with the Liberals in doing justice to Ireland, while vindicating at the same time the cause of law and order.' If the Tories began their new Irish policy with some such con- fession as this we could respect them heartily, even if we dis- approved of some of their administrative acts. But what is incomprehensible is that honest Tories like Mr. Howorth do not see how very comical is the attitude which they now take up towards Ireland. Not a glimmer of the parts played respectively towards Ireland by Tories and Liberals appears to have ever shot across his mind. He really seems to have per- suaded himself, by some recondite method of reasoning, that all the remedial legislation for Ireland has been the work of the Tories, and all the resistance to that legislation the work of the Liberals. He would probably not consider us impartial witnesses; so we refer him to an authority which he will respect. In a speech delivered less than four years ago by Lord Salisbury Mr. Howorth will find the following passage :—" Up to the death of Lord Palmerston there was a policy towards Ireland common to all parties and to all generations of English statesmen. They may have applied it in different degrees and in different manners, but they recognised the duty of upholding the law and respecting the rights of property Mr. Gladstone persuaded the people of England to adopt his new policy," which, according to Lord Salisbury, consisted " in procuring the tranquillity of Ireland by offering to the occupants a portion of the property which had hitherto belonged to the owners," and by encouraging the demand for Home-rule. This is the sketch of an adversary, and we do not admit its accuracy. It is not accurate that the two parties treated Ireland alike till Mr. Gladstone proposed his new policy. But it is true that Mr. Gladstone was the first English statesman who stirred the public conscience of Great Britain to a recognition of the obligation of justice to Ireland. No single statesman has ever done a tithe of his service to Ireland ; and his policy was so bold, and so far ahead of anything that preceded it, that Lord Salisbury was quite justified in describing it as a " new policy." Here, then, we have the leader of the Tory Party making it a special charge against Liberalism under Mr. Gladstone that it has initiated a "new policy " towards Ireland—the policy, namely, which Mr. Howorth now claims as the traditional policy of the Tory Party.
After all, however, the Irish are not the fools that our ne o- Tories seem to consider them. Mr. T. P. O'Connor, the Member for Galway, has fairly warned the Tories that the Irish people are not to be taken in by their insincere and interested cajolery. He told a meeting of Irishmen in the East of London, last Saturday, in words which we have quoted elsewhere, that the Nationalists would vote for the Tories, not because they loved them, for the hearts of the Tories " were black," but because they hated the Liberals even more than they did the Tories. The Parnellites have good reason to hate the Liberals, for the policy of the Liberals, by doing justice to Ireland, is the most effectual antidote against Mr. Parnell's policy of disruption. The Parnellites, therefore, are going to vote in a mass against the Liberals, in the hope of getting a Tory Government out of which the demands of the Irish Separatists may be " wrung." The warning is opportune. It shows the price which the Tory Party has to pay for Mr. Parnell's favour and patronage. It shows the British constituencies at the same time the humili- ating price which the country will have to pay for such a diminution of the Liberal majority as would make Mr. Parnell master of the siture ion.