LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
[Letters of the length of one of our leading paragraphs are often more read, and therefore more effective, than those which
fill treble the space.] • TILE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND: WORDS OF WARNING.
[To rim Eamon or tam " Sekornoa."3
Sni,—Liberal Unionists are very grateful to Professor Dicey for the wise words in his letter to last Saturday's Spectator.
The main conditions of the "Irish problem" have not changed since 1916: 'nor, for the matter of that, since 1886. Toying with the fundamental issue that is the real basis of the Home Rule controversy will never solve the problem.
Who in the last resort is to be responsible for law and order, for the peace, for the safety of the people in every part of the British Islands? It is not merely a question of who in the first instance shall prepare and pass local laws. The Unionist answer is clear—the whole of tffat people (their will constitutionally expressed) must remain sovereign, and absolute sovereign, de facto as well as de jure. Any other claimant to that authority, from within or without the kingdom, is a Pretender, and sooner or later will be treated as such.
Fenians, Parnellites, Sinn Feiners, though from time to time and in different circumstances and places their methods and their language have varied, have been aiming at the same thing—the complete independence and secession of an Irish nation. To my mind the facts of the case, history, geography, the progress of our civilization for a century past, steam aid electricity, commercial intercourse. do., tell in combination against the separation into different nations of the British people. These things weigh not less heavily than Constitu- tional arguments to render the separatist solution no odutien at all. Yet separation or secession will not be prevented by "a well-sounding clause," as Professor Dicey in his illustration of what is likely to happen very clearly shows.
The steam-power relied upon by Government to carry Home Rule Bill (No. 5) through Parliament comes from two sources. First, the universal desire to get that astounding and unhappy measure—Home Rule Bill (No. 4)—off the Statute Book. Second, the admission that the present Government cannot protect life and property in Ireland outside Ulster. They rely less on the merits of their measure to secure its passage into law than on their own feeling of hopelessness and despair. Even some Unionists hold up their hands in surrender.
Yet there is no reason for either despair or surrender; given in high place the spirit of past statesmanship. It would require too much space to consider here the seeming triumph of Irish anarchists; but it is right to remember that it is the policy of the Government that hae weakened the arm of authority, and that it is unfair to put failure entirely on
the shoulders of subordinates—Mr. Birrell, lord French, &c. Even Mr. Balfour, notwithstanding his great courage and firmness and exceptional abilities, could not have succeeded had he not had behind him a strong Government which knew its own mind. Mr. Balfour supported his own men; and the Government, not apologetically, but whole-heartedly, supported him.
It is to be hoped that discussion in Parliament and the country will not he confined to the rival merits of Aequithian and Lloyd Georgian Home Rule—however important to the immediate purposes of the Lobby—but rendering little help to the popular understanding of the fundamental questions on which the peace of the United Kingdom ultimately depends.