21 DECEMBER 1867, Page 4



THERE is one compensation for this Clerkenwell outrage. It has reunited the British people, and rebraced the nerves of authority. A feeling had begun to spread- among the lower classes that government was at once weak and violent ; that it yielded whenever it was severely pressed, and executed whenever it was not resisted; that its protection was of very little use, and its authority rather a burden than a benefit. A section of the Reform League was half. disposed to sympathize with Fenianism as a mode of resistance to authority, and in town after town symptoms of a desire to supersede Government, to loosen the bonds of society, were apparent. In Liverpool and Birmingham, no less than in Belfast, unrecognized bodies of men threatened to take the law against Fenians into their own hands, and while in Southampton the municipality refused to pay money for arm- ing the police, in Glasgow it seemed for a moment possible that a stern and grave Calvinistic population would give the rein to a fanaticism before which that of either Reds or Ultramontanes is as a crackling of thorns to a coal fire. On the other hand, the Government, though prompt to arbitrari- ness in Ireland, was in England hampered by an idea, not altogether false, that the masses were not with it, that any approach to sternness or high-handed execution of the law would generate a storm of opposition. All, this has ended. Everywhere the "people," the multitudewhose arms in the long ran support society, have recognized that Government is their instrument as well as that of the income-tax payers; that they need its protection as much as the rich ; that the best as well as easiest mode of organization is to rally round the legal authority, to strengthen its hands, to furnish it with eyes, to submit to its demands on iidividual action. The murder at Manchester had not had this effect, for deny it as we may, there was enough of the political element in that crime to destroy the horror naturalis; the guilty were not guilty of ordinary murder. The outrage at Clerkenwell was needed to remove the last vestige of hesitation from the public mind,. This, at all events, was no act of war, no attack on Govern- ment, no slaughter of the agents of an " oppressive " autho- rity. If the perpetrators knew what they were doing, they were wholesale murderers, men at war with the human race, capable of killing children for a political object. If, as is much more probable—for they risked Burke's life—they were not aware, or only partially aware, of what they were doing, they were men utterly reckless of human life and suffering ; men who would scatter death broadcast without reflection, who would fire powder while children's eyes were looking into the barrel. For such men there is in this country no pardon, and the outrage combined every circumstance which can inflame Englishmen's imagination. The agent was gunpowder, and Englishmen's notions of the use . of gunpowder in such affairs date from the Guy Fawkes conspiracy—which cost the Catholics 200 years of oppression ; much property was destroyed, and Englishmen can be malignant about the useless destruction of their acctunula- tions ; the victims were decent poor people, and Englishmen sympathize with no class as they do with the decent poor ; and finally, many of the sufferers were little children, and Englishmen have that in them which makes the blinding of little children, even accidentally, cause their blood to boil. We confess ourselves, to a total want of the patience necessary even to discuss that part of the affair, and we will add that we will trust the wildest Irishman in the Empire, from The O'Donoghue to the lowest dock porter, to grow savage with shame and anger as he thinks of that consequence of the Fenian crime. The moral effect, therefore, has been immense. The people haVe lost their fear of Government, Government its distrust of the people.. The nation is united as in a war. Measures which a week ago would have been impossible are now easy. We shall hear no more of the resistance to a change which, even without the Clerkenwell outrage, would have been speedily inevitable—the arming of policemen— who at present may be ruptured with almost perfect impunity ; the use of soldiers as armed citizens is again recognized, the duty of individuals begins once more to be perceived, and there are propositions for the permanent increase of the detective force. For once the populace and the police are at one, heartily, cordially, to the extent of fighting opponents in concert ; and the Government, which for two years has been hesitating between the first principles of order and a vague notion that the, people dislike severity, is at last at ease. There is no wise severity, and they know there is no wise severity, which they are not at liberty to ase to repress not only, outrages like this, but any outrages whatever the prin- ciple of which is violent.resistance to the law. We trust, and in great measure believe, that these novel and great powers-will be well and moderately used. The duty- of the. Government in such a-crisis is -clear, and, fortunately, the responsibility falls mainly upon 'rnenw-ho, like the Stanleys,_ are bound by personal reasons never to forget that Irishmen are citizens of the Empire. That day is to maintain, a steady, severe, but just system of repression upon Fenianism ; to show its partizans that they are waging war- upon a. force indefinitely superior to themselves ; to convince. its enemies that there is- no justification whatever for taking the _law into their own hands ; in, short, to make the nation supreme, if possible- through the magistracy, but if needful, through the visible and determined use of the bayonet. That the time for leniency to Fenianism is past is clear, and the time for fury against Irishmen ought never to be permitted to arrive. There can be no more processions, or meetings, or any other combined_ action in favour of a party which can, even against the will of its own chiefs, tolerate outrages like that in Clerkenwell. The Fenian. Committee may be, as they assert; utterly guiltless of that horror, and we are willing to acquit them of some of its worst features ; but they must in their own interest, as well as that of the Empire, bear the obloquy of the insane acts of their own friends. The Government must now show itself master of the situation, or the English and Scotch will terminate it, with the result of making all improvement in the relations between- the two countries impossible for another century. If it does, at, a feather-weight would now turn the scale in favour of lynch law. As to the means, they are those by which every- other government is compelled to meet from time to time- similar outbursts of fanaticism, by which the French Govern- ment has repeatedly met the more violent secret societies, —steady, cold, scientific watchfulness and repression. The regular law is amply sufficient for the purpose, or if not, the- regular law must be made stronger. Almost all the " excep- tional legislation" suggested is either unfair or unwise. It would be both, for example, to demand passports front Irishmen, for the Fenians in this last affair have injured the Irish far more than ourselves. It would be both to dismiss Irish labourers from the Dockyards simply because amongst them might be men sympathizing with Fenian ideas. It would be both to expel, as one paper advises, the American Irish under the ancient Alien Act ; unwise as increasing the bitterness between ourselves and the Americans, unfair because we still refuse to acknowledge that the emigrants have forfeited their allegiance. The true policy is to increase the police, to use the soldiers, to call out the people, to watch unsleepingly, to punish crime relentlessly, but always in obedience to the law, and through its respon- sible agents. One failure of justice, one execution of,an inno- cent man, one instance of hesitation, in restraining any spirit of race hostility, would do more to injure the cause of order than a lost battle. The charge that the Fenians are cowards is simply nonsensical ; but they are not braver than the Reds, not so powerful, not one-tenth as united, and there is not a great city of the Continent in which the Reds are not kept down by sheer force. They can be kept down here. too. There is nothing like calm, steady, but inevitable justice to put down opposition ; and with twenty-three millions of people on its side, the Government has full opportunity and leisure to carry out that policy—the only one which is just, the only one which, when men are cooler, leaves behind it none of that vengeful animosity the victims of injustice are sure to feel. If the police are - insufficient, add more, or call out the people, or supplement both with soldiers—make it, if absolutely necessary, an offence to be a Fenian ; but in no case allow the first beginning of a. riot, in no case allow lynch law, in no case let any man be punished with- out a full and a just _hearing. And above all, in no case suffer a Fenian and, an. Irishman to be confounded. The latter are our countrymen, men whom we insist—justly, as we consider—on retaining within the Empire, and they have a right to every advantage involved in the situation, specially to the right of full, unprejudiced, and patient hearing. To dismiss men from employment because other men with the same brogue have committed a crime is not precaution, but discreditable injustice. As yet the bearing of the people has been excellent. Provoked almost beyond endurance, assailed in their persons, their property, and their pride, struck down in--their-own-chief city by means which they rank with poison, means which they hold wicked even if used in war, they have remained calm, and have looked to the law rather than to themselves to protect their families. The law should protect them calmly, persistently, and patiently, protect them so that they see the protection, but without fury and without bloodthirstiness.

The greatest aid of all that we can obtain is from the Trish themselves, and it is no less than madness to lump all Catholic Irishmen, as the Times in one instance has done, with the Fenians. Because peers, and members of Parliament, and justices of the peace protest against an alien Church, there- fore they sympathize with men who have permitted children's eyes to be blown out 1—the mere suggestion is an atrocity. There is not in their history for the last hundred years an incident which suggests that the Irish are cruel after that diabolical fashion. Undisciplined, wild, unruly, unjust they have been, and in agrarian quarrels murderers ; but not cruel to the weak. In the last outbreak they spared their prisoners, the American Irish, who are represented as demons, insisting on that act of justice. In this last affair of the processions scores of Irish Catholics came forward in Glasgow to aid the magistracy. There is not an Irishman in London unconnected with the Fenians, and not many even of their body, who does not condemn as heartily as Englishmen the recent atrocious crime. Burke denied it, the "Fenian Oommittee " deny it, the Irishmen in the streets deny it, and if all those denials are unreal, they still show this, those who deny know well that their countrymen will repudiate the act. There is the key to the possibility of reconciliation. If we could bat 'vin Ireland, could but so change the mass of opinion there that Fenianism should be regarded by the majority of Irish- 'Men as it is regarded by all Englishmen, Fenianism would die under the hatred of those whose cause it is falsely pre- sumed to defend. This is not the time ? This is precisely the time.. We know of no spectacle which could be nobler than that of a dominant people with one hand calmly and sternly maintaining its own dominance, and with the other removing the last vestiges of inequality, the last relics of in- tolerance, the last grievances produced by difference of race and creed. It is a most unpopular utterance just now, and therefore, it is all the more necessary it should be uttered now that when the Irish peasant sees in the Fenian an insur- gent against himself, Fenianista will die under a pressure sharper than any Government can order, or any policemen carry oat.