TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE COUP D'ETAT IN IRELAND THE Government of Ireland has been authorized to arrest any person it suspects, and keep him in durance if necessary for a year. That is the practical meaning of " sus-, pendinf the Habeas Corpus," and that such a power should have become once mote needful, so needful as to be granted by Parliament by a vote of 364 to 6, is one of the gravest and most deplorable incidents of this generation. It is the more grave and the more deplorable, because the Government is clearly in the right. If it had been precipitate, as so often be- fore in Irish affairs, or misled by that thirst for power which in- ferior statesmen so frequently mistake for energy, the evil would have been comparatively small and temporary. Unhappily all the evidence shows that Government has been only too patient, too much inclined to share in that apathetic scorn with which Englishmen are apt to receive Irish complaints as well as Irish menaces. It has known for months that a conspiracy was on foot, that Americanized Irish were arriving, that arms were being collected, that a military organization had been set on foot, that men, otherwise respectable, of blameless lives, and unimpeached character, were striving hard to stir the people to civil war, and still it has forborne. It has acted only when an outbreak appeared imminent, and has even now acted in the most moderate way. It was essential, if possible, to prevent an bneute in the streets. The politicians who whisper that after all the affair had better " come to a head," cannot know what they are talking about. Ten minutes' bloodshed in Dublin might throw Ireland back a century, one night of con- flagration undo all the work of the last twenty years, reopen the chasm between classes now so slowly filling up, revive the paralytic Orange organization, place landlord and tenant, rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic, once more in deadly hostility to each other and the laws. That the e'meute would be put down scarcely needs assertion. An experienced and stern soldier, accustomed at once to rebellion and to Ireland, directs a force amply sufficient for a foreign campaign, and behind him are ranged twenty-four millions of English and Scotch people, who will have exhausted their youth and the ac- cumulations of eight hundred years before the Fenian design can approach a realization. The duty of Government is not to conquer its own people, but to prevent the necessity for victory, and the gentlest mode of prevention is to arrest those who would have led the actual onslaught. This they have done and are doing with a rapidity and decisiveness which, in adding to the dramatic effect of their strong measures, help to strike without* bloodshed the terror which would certainly follow victory in the streets. They may not succeed, for, as we have so frequently pointed out, the special danger of Fenianism arises from the folly, and rashness, and blindness to facts which render it so weak. A greater conspiracy would be easier to deal with, for great conspirators would at least know when they were hopelessly outmatched. But at least the Ministry have tried, have visibly shown to all Fenians, and sympathizers with Fenians, that their next step will bring them face to face with the strongest Government in the world, awake, armed, and forced to believe that sternness is truest mercy.
The Government is right, and in that fact lies our own condemnation. After six hundred years of unbroken sway, and forty of honest effort to be just, English Liberals are still compelled to support an Administration which dares not allow a few hundred misguided men to summon the Irish people to insurrection. As Mr. Bright told the House, in the wonderful burst of eloquence in which on Saturday he pleaded the Irish cause,—a burst unequalled among his speeches, and sufficient of itself to convince a whispering generation that oratory is not yet an extinct force—" All the Irish in America, and all the citizens of America, with all their organization, and all their vast resources, would not in England or in Scotland raise the very slightest flame of sedi- . tion or insurrectionary movement." It is only in Ireland that we dare not smile when five hundred strangers call on the people to make war on the throne, and property, and the priest- hood, that we employ troops to arrest shopkeepers, and garrison a capital of our own as if it had just been snatched from a powerful foe. Scotland fought us far more bitterly than ever Ireland did. Scotchmen hated us as hardly as ever Irish peasants can. Scotland possesses to this day a nationality as strong and as peculiar as that of Ireland, a separate creed, a distinct system of law, a representation indefinitely less compe- tent to control the action of the central Parliament, and if trea- son were spouted to-morrow from the Calton Hill the Govern- ment would not add a man to the police of Edinburgh. When there is nothing to burn but granite, even children may be allowed to play with lucifers. It is because Ireland is a maga- zine that the amusement is there so terribly formidable. There are probably not in the island ten thousand Fenians, but the sympathy with Fenianism, the sense that their wild_ project is the evil expression of a good thought, the hysterical appeal for love to the sister who gives only justice,. pervades every class but that which owns the soil. Every- where English travellers find the peasantry at heart sympa- thizing with the Fenians. Everywhere they hear the same con- viction that Ireland is at last to be a nation, to be relieved from that cold just rule which no nation not of our blood has ever yet been able either to like or to shake off. Everywhere they become conscious of the existence in the Irish mind of an ideal, a vision, a hope cherished often by men who know that it is baseless—and the idea, the vision, and the hope are all alike fatal to those which Englishmen entertain. Every- where they hear the same thought, that Irishmen want a country and cannot find one, the vague expression of a dis- content which, like the discontent of a man forced into a groove unsuited to his genius, is but the deeper because it has so little quotable justification. There, we believe, is the very root of all the mischief in Ireland. We insist, Mr. Roebuck insisted in this very debate, in words which read like screams, that Ireland shall be English, shall be justly governed, but by English laws, shall be enriched, but by Eng- lish modes of toil, shall be happy, but on the English theory, in which happiness means only comfort. The Irish desire all those things, but in the Irish way. Why should they not have them? The Scotch have them and the English, and their union is but the firmer for the difference in nationality. The Highlander does not fight the less ardently for the throne because he wears a kilt, but more ardently, the symbol being to him proof that his is the cause of his own land as well as of the empire to which he belongs. Is there a General in Great Britain who would venture to propose the abolition of Highland regiments, or one who would not be shocked to see Irishmen in their national green and gold ? Who protests hr Edinburgh against the Highland dress ? The Irish dress is in Dublin at this moment so proscribed, that its mere posses- sion may ensure a sentence to Pentonville. That difference on the smallest of questions is an index of the difference in our treatment of the largest. We honestly try to do justice to Ireland, but it is the justice of a judge, not that of a warm_ friend. Grant that the idea of nationality in Ireland is a whim, or even a silly whim, still the first condition of friend- ship is a readiness to recognize idiosyncrasies of that kind, to accept oddities, or "ways," or even radical differences of tem- perament—at the very least not to censure or deride them. We concede the whims to the nation we like, why not to the nation which we want to like us Mr. Bright says the statesmen of England are bound to do justice to Ireland, to devote to her affairs the attention never refused when English or Scotch counties are aggrieved, and so also say we, with the addition that we are bound to devote it in a spirit of hearty cordiality. The two people are bound together for better or worse inseparably, and justice, though the wife's first right, is not the first claim she makes upon her lord. What sort of a union is that in which, while the wife is always dis- contented, the husband tells all the world that he is severely just to her We may and must abolish the hostile Church Establishment—that corporation which seems to Catholic Irishmen to tax their bodies in order that it may have means to damn their souls—and we may one day bring the tenure into harmony with Irish ideas ; but we must do more than this. We must cease to tell the wife every hour that she is only a woman, cease to taunt Irishmen with being Irish, cease to say or to think when a million of our brethren go into exile that it is a pleasant riddance. There is no more reason why Irish- men, fairly admitted into the great family, should not be de- voted to the family interest, than there is why Scotchmen should not be. They are Celts I So are the Highlanders and the Welsh. They are Catholics So are some of the noblest and most loyal of British families. They are, in short, Irish- men ? Well, Irishmen are, as such, not only good subjects, but have a singular adaptability for foreign careers, rise in Austria, or Spain, or France, or America, or for that matter England, to the very top, and exhibit in every English colony the very capacity of getting on on which we pride ourselves so much. Who wants better kinsmen than the - "rebels "
D'Arey McGee and Govan Duffy V The difference of creed is no wider than that which exists in Prussia and is scarcely heard of, the difference of race less wide than that which separates the Strasburgher from the Parisian. Of the true antipathy of race, the instinct which is said to separate colours, there is scarcely a trace. Who scruples to marry an Irish girl, or is ashamed to enter an Irish family, or avoids anything Irish, unless it be Irish landed property I There is really nothing to overcome, except that baneful belief of which Mr. Roebuck and Mr. Horsman are the exponents, that a thing, or a system, or an idea which happens to be English must therefore be best, that because there can be but one motive-power there must also be but one mode of applying it. Suppose we try the one experiment never yet tried amid all our efforts, and instead of coercing Irish nationality, recognize it as we have done Scotch nationality, foster it, and so bind it into our own V Are we the weaker or the stronger because men who share every English success and English failure still glow with pleasure at the thought that they are not English, but other, still quote with pride to Englishmen a history which is one long record of resistance to English oppression, still march by the side of English soldiers to an air which tells of a great English defeat ? Suppose we give over taunting the wife with her weakness, and her zeal for her priest, and her taste for obvious millinery, and cultivate, instead of coercing, her womanliness ? Would not the Union become a little more real, a little more perfect, a little less liable to sudden and causeless breaches Just at present she is flinging the china in hot fury at her husband, and that must be stopped, but afterwards, divorce being impos- sible— ?