TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE HOME-RULE DEMONSTRATION IN DUBLIN.
NO candid man will deny that the people of Dahlia have done all that they could do, short of singing "God Save the Queen," or cheering the toast of her health, to encourage Lord Ripon and Mr. Morley in their belief that Home-rule, if granted, will mean true Union with England, and not ultimate Separation. Indeed, whatever their private feelings may have been, it is so obvious that the next move in the game, if they are to play the game successfully at all, must be to encourage their English allies, that we are not so much surprised at the good-humour with which Mr. Morley's very gentle reproofs to the violent language of the agitators was received, as at the shortcomings in that part of the demonstration. We should not have been surprised if the Irish Party had determined, like the man who was so determined to play Othello thoroughly that he even blacked himself underneath his clothes, to humour Lord Ripon and Mr. Morley to the top of their bent, by singing the British National Anthem with more than British enthusiasm, and dragging in as many cheers for the Queen and the Union as could be made excuses for. For the Irish have both the humour and the genius for playing an effective part such as the situation requires, without troubling themselves too scrupulously as to its complete sincerity. But they did not go so far as this, and though we write before we can hear of the manner in which the conversazione of Friday night passed off, we do not suppose that it would have been thought at all prudent to challenge the feeling of that assembly by any attempt to express in a positive and unmistakable form, loyalty to the Crown or to the Union. Lord Ripon and Mr. Morley will probably have to content themselves with reflecting that their expressions of horror against crime, and their disapproval of violence against England, were received as cordially as any one had a right to expect ; and that for the restoration of good feeling between Great Britain and Ireland, they must wait for the time when the Irish have succeeded in extorting,—if they ever do succeed in extorting,—a separate Irish Legislature and a separate Irish Administration. In the meantime, they may fairly congratu- late themselves on having received a magnificent demonstration evincing the goodwill of the majority of the Irish people, though they virtually admit that the chief part of the wealth and culture of Ireland holds aloof from them, and is in close alli- ance with their opponents.
There was, however, this great difference between the de- monstration in favour of the Union made by the wealth and culture of Ireland when Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen visited Dublin, and the demonstration in favour of Home-rule made this week in the welcome given to Lord Ripon and Mr. John Morley,—that while Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen were in the heartiest possible sympathy with those who crowded to meet and cheer them, Lord Ripon and Mr. Morley had their sympathy only in the measure in which they were advocating what Ireland desired, and were perfectly conscious that in rebuking crime, in expressing loyalty to the Crown, in expressing sympathy with the landlords, and in prophesying the moderation and good feeling towards England with which Ireland would use the new legislative and administrative power which she demands, they were saying what, indeed, their audience expected them to say, and were quite ready to let them say, but what did not in the least excite the enthusiasm of their hearers. Mr. Morley's position was virtually this :- 'We must trust to the moderation of the Irish people to co- operate with us cordially and frankly, if we give them what they ask for; of course, there will be Socialists and revolu- tionists amongst them, but we must trust to the magic of property to exorcise the revolutionary feeling ; once get a nation of peasant-proprietors, and Socialism will have no chance ; once get an Irish democracy which is aware that separation from England would involve com- mercial ruin, and separation from England would have no chance ; that is what we are working for ; we cannot go back, and must go forward, and the chance of going forward success- fully entirely depends on the willingness of the Irish democracy to meet us half-way, if we do but grant the boon which it is now clamouring for. Such willingness I must assume.' Well, that seems to us the most rational and moderate way in which the case of Home-rule can be put,—indeed, we always expect from Mr. Morley an exposition of the most rational and moderate way in which his case can be put. He never ignores the dangers and difficulties before him, and therefore we always read his speeches with a sort of satisfaction with which hardly any of his colleagues manage to inspire us. But the reply to Mr. Morley seems to us very simple. How has the Irish majority been brought to its present efficiency of organisation except by lavish promises of what practically involves the confiscation of the land, the one thing, and we believe the only thing, which the Irish people heartily care for? If these promises of confiscation are to be redeemed by real confiscation, how is British justice or self-respect to be maintained at all, even in the sense in which Mr. Morley wishes them to be maintained ?. If they are not to be redeemed, if the land is not to be con- fiscated, how is the promised Irish Parliament, which will care about nothing else, to be kept in a reasonable temper ? What English statesmen say is, that we had far better accept the struggle at the present stage, while we still have a logical position, and a position defensible on honourable principles, than remit it to a future stage at which we shall have no such logical position defensible on honourable principles to take up. For the struggle must come. There would be no majority for Home-rule in Ireland, if the Irish people did not hope and believe that Home-rule will give. them the land for nothing, or next to nothing. If we are prepared to grant as much as that, we admit our own disgrace and the disappearance of British justice from the face of the earth ; and we may be quite sure that after admitting that, we shall not have lightened our task of co-operating with the Irish Legislature and Administration that we shall have established. If we do not admit that, if we insist on doing justice to the Irish landlords and the loyal section of the Irish people, then we shall have the battle to fight under very much worse and more hopeless conditions so soon as the Irish Legislature is established, and after the evil consequences of a divided Legis- lature and a divided Administration have followed as well. There is no escape from this dilemma. It is the Land Question which has brought about the demand for Home-rule, and it is only those who are prepared to solve the Land Ques- tion in the sense of confiscation, who can with any approach to rationality insist on giving Home-rule without previously inisisting on the solution of the Land Question. Grant- Home-rule, and we have put it out of our power to prevent confiscation without suspending the new Constitution almost. as soon as it is given, and using our military superiority in Ireland in order to enforce its suspension. Mr. Morley knows as well as any one can know, that Home-rule in Ire- land is a means to an end ; that it is not greatly desired for its own sake ; that the Irish would rather have the land given them without Home-rule, than Home-rule given them without a present of the land ; and that if we grant Home-rule, we must either grant confiscation too, or take back Home- rule as soon as it is given. On the contrary, if we resist. Home-rule long enough to settle the Land Question with- out confiscation, we shall in all probability hear no more about Home-rule. The desire for Home-rule is not for the end, but for the means. And the Irish agitators, and the Irish- American Fenians, and the Irish priesthood, all act as if they were perfectly well assured that it is so. Hence those who, like Lord Ripon and Mr. Morley, go on talking unmeaning Con- stitutionalism, while expressing weak hopes that the Irish people will consent to be moderate in their dealing with the Land Question so soon as they get the power to deal with it at all, are lost in Utopian dreams. The Irish have received many concessions from Great Britain which were their just due, and nothing more ; but the more just concessions they have received, the more violently unreasonable in every way they have become ; and even if we thought Home-rule as reasonable as we think it unreasonable, we should think it the very wildest of anticipations that Ireland, with Home-rule, would become a cordial and trustworthy ally. But knowing, as we have reason to know, that Home-rule was never really popular till it was supposed that it would mean getting the land at prairie value, it does seem to us that statesmen like Mr. Morley who seriously persuade themselves that by conceding Home-rule, we can first induce the Irish people to pay honestly what the land is worth to its owners, and next to co-operate with Great Britain in all reasonable ways for the common benefit of the Empire, live in an even less conceivable political paradise than that which is ordinarily called the paradise of fools.