17 APRIL 1880, Page 6

THE IRISH ELECTIONS. T HE Irish Electors have not shown quite

so much sense as we hoped, but they have shown a great deal ; and the result of the Elections in Ireland, when considered by the light of the immense Liberal majority, is not disheartening. The Ennis- corthy revolt, it is true, turned out a mere flash in the pan, a local Inmate, rather than a rising. Wexford was carried for Mr. Parnell by a crushing majority, and the arch-agitator who has been elected to three seats, returns to Parlia- ment with a band of twenty-three adherents, of whom a majority will probably obey him on all occasions. But it must be remembered that these adherents have not been secured by Mr. Parnell in order to contend for Home- rule, which is a political question, but in order to secure an agrarian change in favour of the tenantry, which is a social one. The tenantry have sent him up his band of followers not with the hope of seeing Ireland a separate nationality, but with the hope of obtaining fixity of tenure at low rents, a hope which at all times has proved irresistible in Ireland. They have, in fact, expressed through him their passionate distrust of the landlords, the only feeling which would have induced them in so many places to disregard the strong remonstrances of their clergy. The effect of this is that Mr. Parnell, though he can, of course, like any other head of a group, give infinite trouble, and for a moment discredit Representative institutions, must either accept such reasonable improvements in tenants' position as may be offered by the Liberal majority, or by his enormous de- mands sever his group from both sides of the House, and reduce them to the position of mere Irreconcilables, such as exist in every other popular assembly in the world. Those Irrecon- enables always attract attention, but they very seldom affect the current of events. The Liberals, as matters stand, have not even a temptation to go one step beyond their own con- victions in the matter of tenure ; while the Tories, who might have coquetted with Home-rule or with Catholic demands, will make no concession whatsoever to an anti-rent agitation, —the motive of which, again, will be destroyed whenever a reasonable security, such as the Ulster Custom, has been provided for all Ireland. On the other hand, the Irish Electors have re- turned Mr. Shaw, the leader of the Moderate Liberals and Home- rulers, for Cork County by a crushing majority, after Mr. Parnell had strained his whole influence to return his nominee, Mr. Kettle. And they have provided Mr. Shaw with a following of thirty-six Members, most of whom, no doubt, desire Home- rule, though with different degrees of ardour, but all of whom are sound Liberals, and willing, if Ireland is neither neglected nor thrust aside, to support all Liberal measures of reform. In several places, such as Dundalk, they have even returned sound and valuable candidates, like Mr. C. Russell, a lawyer who may prove a distinct addition to the House, without the Home-rule pledge ; and in others they have sent up Home-rulers like Mr. Justin Macarthy, with whom Liberals can, at all events, discuss what Ireland most needs. Men of his type are politicians, even though they are Home-rulers. The Shaw party cannot coalesce with the Parnellites, except in extreme circumstances, such as the proposal of a Coercion Bill ; and Ireland has, therefore, liberated the Liberal Government from any fear of undue pressure, so long as the Ministry give frank and full attention to reasonable Irish demands. That is not a bad result of Irish Elections, but an unusually good one, though, we admit, its goodness is partly dependent upon the aggregate return of the three kingdoms.

Under these circumstances, the course of the new Liberal Ministry seems to us fairly clear. They should take up a position of frank, but not insolent, hostility to the Parnellites, consider them avowed opponen, rejoice when they vote with the Tories, make no concession to them not demanded by their own convic- tions, and if they try obstruction—real obstruction such as impar- tial men can recognise—repress them with a much stronger hand than that of Sir Stafford Northcote. At the same time, while laying down the governing principle that Home-rule can never be conceded, as contrary to the interests of both Islands, they should discuss every substantive proposal of the Liberal Home-rulers without prejudice, and with a hearty desire that every grievance—even if a grievance only to the susceptible—should be swept away. It is a grievance that the suffrage should be so unequal in England and Ireland. It is a grievance that Ireland should have to plead before Parliament, instead of before a special and moveable judicial tribunal, such as that which tries Election cases, for permission to make her own local improvements. It is a grievance that she should not have self-government in the counties, when she does not re- spect, as England does, the class to which county power is entrusted. It is a grievance irt our eyes, though we fear our leaders may not be as ready to say so, that she should not have her superior education provided for according to her own reli- gions ideas, and subject to a degree of influence from the men whom she voluntarily supports as pastors. And finally, it is a grievance, and a great one, that a notion of absolute property in the soil as appertaining to the rent-taker,—a notion confined in Europe to Great Britain alone,—should be forced by the stronger of the two Islands upon the weaker of them. All these grievances should be swept away, full justice done in the matter of patronage to the two creeds, and the resulting situa- tion then faced in patience, and with an absolute resolve that whatever the consequences, the Three Kingdoms shall have but one Parliament. And then one thing more should be attempted. One-half the discontent of Ireland arises from a feeling that England is always out of sympathy with her, does not care to touch her imagination, does not heed her craving for honorific and even tender treatment. The best way to relieve that feeling is to send to Ireland as the British representative an Irishman, a man who has the tem- perament of his countrymen, and who can not only understand them, but can make them feel that he does. The Premier will have such a man at his disposal in Lord Dufferin, and he should be sent to Dublin as Lord-Lieutenant, to play there the reconciling and soothing part which he played at Ottawa. Nobody doubts Lord Dufferin's capacity, and nobody who has studied his Canadian career doubts that it is ex- actly fitted for this especial work. The business of a Lord-Lieutenant is to manage Irishmen, and Lord Dufferin has managed them with entire success. Lord Dufferin as Lord - Lieutenant would govern Ireland quite as well as any of the "silent and strong" Englishmen whom Irishmen especially hate, while he would be a pledge that England intended at all events to do her best to understand the people, and remedy the evils not remediable by legislation. Be would, too, be evidence not to be denied that no position in Ireland or out of it is closed to an Irishman, provided only that he is faithful to a union which cannot be dissolved. If any man can conciliate that something in Ireland which is not reason, and is sometimes above and sometimes below it, it is Lord Dufferin ; and besides doing full justice, we would send him there as the emblem of hearty good-will.