12 DECEMBER 1885, Page 5


WE should like to know what Mr. Parnell thinks of it all. That he exults a little, or even much, may be assumed even of a secretive character like h's, for it is not possible that a man should succeed so far in his plans, and fix on himself the regard and hope of a whole people, without some feeling of exultation. But the observer wishes to know more than that,—to understand what Mr. Parnell, in his inner mind, desires and hopes ; what he considers his plan ; what course he has sketched out for himself ; and, above all, what he, in the self-communion which every man in his position must occasionally-hold, believes at heart to be possible. Upon none of these subjects is there as yet any clear light. It is one of the specialities of Mr. Parnell, and one of the secrets of his strange hold over a population utterly unlike himself, -both in temperament and in mental disposition, that he has been,able to conceal, to a great degree, even his dominating impulse. •Nobody knows with certainty whether he is a fanatic for Ireland, or is governed by hatred towards England, or is actuated by an ambition to live in history, or looks cynically on the whole business as a game in which the reward will be success, bat a success not altogether worth the winning. We ourselves do not believe in the fanaticism for Ireland—a country which we suspect Mr. Parnell of slightly despising, just as he slightly despises the priesthood he befriends and uses —and think the riddle as yet insoluble. unless he entertains one of those national dislikes which with some men rise to passion ; but we freely confess to a lingering doubt whether that solution, though it may explain the facts, is, in the end, the true one. Mr. Parnell( may very'well be. after all, a gamester in politics. Inquiry as to his precise plan of action is almost equally difficult. He is a great Parliamentary tactician, that is undeniable ; but his electioneering scheme has partially failed, the English counties being for the most part outside his reach : and-whether he designs to extract concession from the Tories, or to accept terms from the Liberals, or to lock the wheels of Parliament. it is hard to discern. He hints himself that he-shall turn to the Liberals, but 'gives no clue as to his method-of either-persuading or coercing them ; perhaps has -no method, and-intends to be guided by circumstances, one of which is the probability, or improbability, of another Dis- solution. He would not like that, for, by impairing his pecuniary resources, it might interrupt his dominance over his Parliamentary following. He must have -some general idea in his mind ; but he keeps it close, as he has also done his notion of Home-rule. He has allowed his followers, especially Mr. Justin M`Carthy, who holds in the group very much the position which Sir S. Northcote once held among Tories, that of the cultivated man who describes extreme counsels in sweet words. and carefully minimises the apparent effect ofevery measure, to give some account of a plan—the Colonial plan—and he has partially endorsed it himself ;• but there is no proof that this is his true plan, that he looks on it as in any way final, that he has a scheme of government for Ireland in his head, or that he has even thought out what a Colonial government in Dublin would be like. He has spoken of gnarantees,-,bet has never offered any, except the command of the Queen's troops, which might mean a real control of Ireland, and might also mean that Great Britain must pay for keeping -thirty thousand troops there without any control at all. We have no more influence over the policy of South Africa now that there are seven thousand troops there than at any other time. Mr. Parnell, moreover, has not condemned the Federal Plan, which would have for Englishmen the double attraction that they would lose Ireland and keep the Irish Members ; while Lord Salisbury says that Mr. Parnell has favoured another scheme, best -known as the Austro-Hungarian one. The essence of that scheme is that Hungary is independent in internal affairs, but can at discretion lock the wheels of the Empire ; and it only works because the Royal authority is ultimately supreme in Hungary, and because the Emperor-King could in the last resort suspend all constitutions and still be obeyed. Mr. Parnell's scheme is, in fact, as little known as his internal mind, which is not• known at all.

It is this mind, nevertheless, which has become important. It is a time for plain speaking ; and, to speak plainly, the first obstacle to any arrangement whatever of Irish affairs upon any self.governing basis is the profound British doubt as to whether Mr. Parnell, or Mr. Parnell modified by his followers, will keep any bargain at all. Suppose they all agree not to attack property, will that make the landlords, from whom Britain has just exacted such sacrifices, one whit the safer ? If words are to be believed, landlordism in Ireland is " to cease ;" Sir T. Esmonde, the new Member for South Dublin County, being as explicit-on that point as the oldest Nationalist ; and how is this "ceasing" to be made compatible with justice or British pledges? By compensation ? What is compensation, when Mr. Parnell talks of " prairie value," and Mr. Dillon thinks three years' purchase might be found sufficient ? What does Mr. Parnell really look forward to• on this cardinal point as not only expedient, but, in the excited temper of his followers, -as conceivably possible ? He can easily leave a " guarantee " in British hands against confiscation by Act, by leaving with the Colonial Office the right of veto which it possesses as regards all other Colonies ; but what is the use of that, when landlords may be compelled, by boycotting or shooting, to sell to their tenants at the unknown figure described as prairie value What does Mr. Parnell really wish upon this subject, and, what is still more important, what does he intend to attain if he rules Ireland ? No one knows, and if be tells us distinctly, no one in Britain will be certain that he either will or can - act upon his statement, or-that-he and his followers—for Mr. Parnell is always a noun of multi- tude—will hold their promise any more sacred than they hold judicial rent. They may consider guarantees mere incidents in a battle, in-which Generals hold feints to be allowable or praiseworthy. That distrust extends, indeed, to the whole question, for as yet there is no evidence what- ever that any concession of self-government, however ample, will be anything except a basis from which to work out a scheme of complete Secession. Mr. Parnell may promise ; but the Irish Parliament, even if he nominates the first one, may not perform, and Mr. Parnell has never even promised yet, while his earlier utterances, before responsibility had partly closed his mouth, pointed to Separation.

And, finally, we should like to know, though we admit this is of more speculative interest, what Mr. Parnell thinks in his own-heart of the prospect round him. He is a cultivated-man, and has read history, and it must-be difficult for such a- man, after working 'with his countrymen for years, and going through an experience which must be in many respects unique, to believe fully that all experience will be reversed and all history falsified ; that three millions of Irishmen will beat thirty millions of Englishmen and Scotchmen ; that the 'little Mend• which he -worships, with its property of herbage, will really break the chain it could not break when it was half the 'Kingdom, and develop all at once, and without- fighting, into a European State. =He knows as well -as any man alive 'that there is but one precedent in European history for 'such an occurrence, and that the Low Countries owed their deliverance from the Spanish Empire to years 'of determined warfare, during which they were aided not only'by allies, but by their own superiority at sea, and a geographical position to Whichthere is no parallel on earth. Does he really expect to make of Ireland a State, with an army and a navy and a flag ; or is he calmly considering far smaller schemes with which he knows well enough he will even in the end be obliged to be content ? As he looks round, !knowing much of Ireland which even the best-informed Englishman does not know, one wonders what prospect he sees be- fore him, whether it is all peace, and green fields, and happy peasants, or whether he sees lying across the scene dark shadows, which suggest to his inner self those Secret Societies which have so often appeared in his path, and 'may not have quitted it yet. Does he really pursue his own coutse, or does he think how easy that course 'might be if only he could hold power without the consent of darker spirits beside ? We do not know, for we do not know yet whether he is states- man, or agitator, or only instrument ; and it is not till he has passed away, it may be after a history of failure, that we shall know accurately the inner life of the man who in 1885 was elected Dictator by three Provinces of Ireland.