THE PARNELL MOVEMENT.* WITH what different feelings would the ordinary
English Liberal or Radical approach the consideration of the case for Home. rule, could he look back upon the action of the Irish Party during the last six years, and be sure that he found there the development of the instincts of self-government and of high political purpose, under leaders strong enough in the justice of their cause to refuse to be helped by any instruments other than those that may rightly be employed by men of real sincerity
• The Parnell Movement ; with a Sketch of Irish Parties from 1843. By T. P. O'Connor, M.P. London: Kagan Paul, Trench, and (Jo. 1856. in aim and conduct ! If he could remember that the leaders, by their public utterances and by the influence of the Press they control, had always and on every occasion stamped the per- petrators of crime as the worst foes of Ireland, and had done all that lay in their power to stop the flow of those demoralising incitements to outrage circulated by the dynamite news- papers, it would be difficult for him to resist the now con- stitutionally expressed demand for Home-rule. He is forced to believe that they could have done this effectually when he sees the almost complete cessation of such deeds and words that has, since it suits their purpose, been secured by the action of the Nationalist leaders, as witnessed in the speeches of Mr. Davitt and the articles of United Ireland. What can be now more natural than the misgiving that, in granting the demands of the Irish Party, he might be handing over a portion of the United Kingdom to persons on whom the ordinary rules of social and political morality have lost their hold ? We do not, of coarse, wish to infer that the leaders of the Irish Party were privy to the outrages, or that, in the case of Lord Frederick Cavendish, they did not regret the assassination ; but what we do say is this,—that they did not show that political honesty and good-faith which should have made them, at any cost, nse every force at their command to denounce and condemn crime, whenever committed. They argued, W3 must suppose, that such denunciations would have broken up their party, and might have destroyed the support they obtained in the country —a result which they would, of course, have dreaded beyond everything—and they therefore preferred to fold their hands, and cynically use the outrages, agrarian and dynamite, to point out the hatred of England felt by the Irish people. They took their choice, and they must not now be surprised, however good their case may seem to be, if there are a great many Englishmen whose minds retain an impression never to be effaced. We do not mean to say that the fact that they did not show themselves as determined as Englishmen to punish the perpetrators of misrule ought to prevent the fall consideration of their case, but only to point out that, as a matter of fact, it does so to some extent, and that the laws of political rectitude cannot be broken without damage to those who break them. The great triumphant agitation of modern times, an agitation taken up by men who founded a third party in the State, and waged war as bitterly as political war could be waged, owed its success in no small measure to the fact that, though tinder the greatest provocation from their opponents, and though appealing to men in circumstances as desperate and apparently as hopeless as the Irish tenants, the leaders never bent to the delusion of doing or tolerating evil that the good they had so passionately at heart might come. Could the Irish Nationalists have carried on their agitation as the Anti-Corn-Law League carried on theirs, Home-rule would be an accomplished fact.
To make out the case for Home-rule, a preamble in two parts must be proved, showing,—(1), the ill effects of English rule and influence on Ireland ; (2), that, these injuries proved, the remedy for them is Home-rule. Let us deal first with Mr. T. P. O'Connor's treatment of the wrongs and miseries of Ireland. This, unfortunately, is no hard matter to prove, and a less acute and practised political advocate could easily make oat his case. It is very right that English people who intend to think out the question of Home-rule for themselves should face the record of misguided government that has attended our refusal to remedy earlier the Irish land system. That system was, or is, perhaps, the most disastrous that the world has ever seen. The English land system may be attended with many and grave objections in some of its phenomena, but it has never been disgraced by the remorselessness of operation to be found in the Irish. Public opinion and private inclination have in England always pre- vented, far more than any specific law, a tyrannical and offen- sive use of the rights of property. An English landlord may own a village, but it woald be absolutely impossible for him in midwinter to take off the roof of every house, batter down the walls, and having first turned the inhabitants into the roads, then drive them from the very ditches in which they had sought shelter. Every one knows that after the Famine many of the landlords all over Ireland cleared their estates of the peasantry, but few people realise what this meant, so utterly foreign to English notions is the idea of wholesale eviction. Mr. T. P. O'Connor quotes the narrative written by Dr. Nulty, Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath, of an eviction of which he was a
witness in the autumn of 1817. It is fair that this record should not be forgotten, though it is the high-water mark of agrarian tyranny. The scene was a village near Mount Nugent, in the County Cavan. Seven hundred people were evicted in one day, though not one shilling of rent was due except from one man :—
"'The Crow-bir Brigade employed on that occasion to extinguish the hearths and demolish the homes of honest, industrious men, worked away with a will at their awful calling till evening. At length an incident occurred that varied the monotony of the grim, ghastly ruin which they were spreading all around. They stepped suddenly and recoiled, panic stricken with terror, from two dwellings which they were directed to destroy with the rest. They had just learned that a frightful typhus fever held those houses in its grasp, and had already brought pestilence and death to their inmates. They there- fore supplicated the Agent to spare these houses a little longer ; but the Agent was inexorable, and insisted that the houses should come down. The ingenuity with which he extricated himself from the difficulties of the situation was characteristic alike of the heartless- ness of the man and of the cruel necessities of the work in which he was engaged. He ordered a large winnowing-sheet to be secured over the beds in which the fever victims lay—fortunately they happened to be perfectly delirious at the time—and then directed the houses to be unroofed cautiously and slowly, 'because,' he said, he very much disliked the bother and discomfort of a coroner's inquest.' I administered the last Sacrament of the Church to four of these fever victims next day, and, save the above-mentioned winnow- ing-sheet, there was not a roof nearer to me than the canopy of Heaven. The horrid scenes I then witnessed I must remember all ray life long. The wailing of women—the screams, the terror, con- sternation of the children—the speechless agony of honest, industrious men, wrung tears of grief from all who saw them. I saw the officers and men of a large police force, who were obliged to attend on the occasion, cry like children on beholding the cruel sufferings of the very people they would be obliged to butcher had they offered the least resistance. The heavy rains that usually attend the autumnal equinoxes descended in cold, copious torrents throughout the night, and at once revealed to the homeless sufferers the awful realities of their condition The appearance of men, women, and children as they emerged from the ruins of their former homes—saturated with rain, blackened and besmeared with soot, shivering in every member from cold and misery—presented positively the most appalling spectacle I ever looked at. The land proprietors in a circle all round—and for many miles in every direction—warned their tenantry, with threats of the direst vengeance, against the humanity of extending to any one of them the hospitality of a single night's shelter."
It is not unnatural that Mr. T. P. O'Connor should illustrate his dislike of English rule in Ireland from our policy towards Ireland during the Famine. Without wishing to minimise the
terrible sufferings of the Irish, we must be very careful before we attribute the Famine to the English connection. The Parlia- ment of the United Kingdom kept out food from Ireland, it is true, but so it did from England; and though the distress then was not so acute in England as in Ireland, it was as an intolerable a wrong in one island as in the other. Yet because Parliament made this mistake up to 1846, that is no reason why we should say Parliament can never do better, and ought never to be trusted to legislate for England. Parliament has the same name, it is true, but the body is absolutely different. It may be true on other grounds that the present Parliament in London is in- capable of dealing with Irish measures, but such a contention certainly cannot be proved by showing that the Parliaments elected on the unextended suffrages were incapable. Mr. T. P. O'Connor, of course, makes the most of the Coercion Acts, which, since the Union, give an average of nearly one a year. Yet the number really is not material. It only shows in many instances how unwilling was even a Parliament of landlords to pass exceptional measures of coercion for any long period. His criticism of their nature is, however, far more effective ; and there can be little doubt but that many of these measures were dictated by the blundering severity of a panic-stricken oligarchy. No one who faithfully studies the history of the Irish land system, can doubt that it has been a curse to- the country. Mr. T. P. O'Connor proves again, if any further proof was wanted, that v:e have in very many cases allowed the Irish landlords to use the rights of property possessed by them to an extent revolting to humanity, and destructive to a sound
social and political fabric of society.
We venture to deny, however, that he proves the next and necessary contention,—namely, that the remedy is Home-rule.
To prove that the Irish land system was bad, is not to prove that Home-rule is good. Rather it is to prove the reverse,—to prove that we must not entrust the sacred duties of govern- ment to a. people brutalised and demoralised as the Irish have been by Irish landlordism. To deal effectually with a question
so vast as the land in Ireland, a strong and powerful State is required,—a State which shall be able to impose an implicit
obedience on a minority whose material interests have to be touched, and whose powers have to be curtailed. An Irish Government which must, by its very conditions, be weak, could not deal with the question radically, or if it did, would not be obeyed by a minority without first an appeal to revolution. Revolutions have one constant phenomenon,—misery and famine for those who are weakest; and the miseries of the peasants if Ireland were once thus plunged into anarchy, would outdo all the records of even their sufferings. If the English democracy is willing, as we believe it is willing, to attend to and to see justice done in Ireland, the new Parliaments—no longer a Parliament of landlords—may be trusted to see Ireland's wrongs redressed. On them the noble appeal of Sydney Smith will not fall un- answered and unheeded, as it fell on the ears of Mr. Percival and his Administration. They will now, we may believe, be content to govern with that true vigour which he has so well described :—
"To let loose hussars and to bring up artillery, to govern with lighted matches, and to cut, and push, and prime—I will call this not vigour, but the sloth of cruelty and ignorance. The vigour I love consists in finding out wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them, in studying the temper and genius of a people, in consulting their prejudices, in selecting proper persons to lead and manage them, in the laborious, watchful, and difficult task of increasing public happiness by allaying each particular discontent."
This vigour, we believe, it is not too late to apply to Ireland. Englishmen seem half-inclined to forget this alternative. The old vigour they shrink from, but not more than they shrink from handing over Ireland to the rule of men to whom they dare not trust the lives and liberties of a minority. Let them consider this third course, and see if in Sydney Smith's vigour of government the remedy for the wrongs of Ireland may not yet be found. We shall not wonder if the Irish Nationalists call such a sentiment hypocrisy. It is one of the penalties of wrong-doing—and England has done wrong in Ireland—to seem a hypocrite when one resolves to do right. Nor do we contend here that there is no other possible solution ; we leave it rather to our readers to judge for them-
selves if Mr. T. P. O'Connor's book shows to demonstration that Home-rule is the only possible remedy for Irish wrongs. Let them in their reading, however, keep one question before them, —Is the party whose arguments are here set out sincere in its principles ? If on the morrow of the granting of Home-rule the Northern counties of Ireland were to come to the new Irish Parliament (as assuredly they would), and were to ask the same Home-rule from Ireland which Ireland had just obtained from England, would not every Nationalist oppose their demands ?