22 AUGUST 1885, Page 4



MR. CLIFFORD LLOYD'S paper in yesterday's Times is one of the most remarkable contributions to the most difficult problem of the day which we have read for many years. The Parnellite leaders probably know,—what, how- ever, they are very little likely to confess,—that among the ablest and most candid of their adversaries, Mr. Clifford Lloyd stands in a place almost as high as that of Lord Spencer. Both of them have been subjected to a fierce fire of political censure, which in Ireland unfortunately never stops short within political limits. But both of them are in their way as earnest friends of Ireland as exist in the United Kingdom. Lord Spencer, however, is a thoroughgoing Englishman. Mr. Clifford Lloyd is evidently in hearty sympathy with the Celtic feeling of Ireland, though he is too much of a statesman not to be aware that the United Kingdom cannot be broken up only for the purpose of gratifying the feelings of a single section of it. The letter in which he declared only the other day that he had himself always felt the strongest objection to that clause in the Irish Crimes Act which imposed an extra police- tax on disturbed districts; showed definitively how grossly maligned he has been when the Parnellites have represented him, as they often did, as the friend of coercion almost for coercion's sake. It is clear, on the contrary, that Mr. Clifford Lloyd has all the feelings of an Irish patriot,—that he loathes the necessity for any kind of coercion, though he loathes still more the crime which causes the necessity. Mr. Clifford Lloyd's statesmanlike paper proves him to be a genuine and ardent friend of liberty. And for our own parts, we believe that Mr. Forster never did a piece of work which was of so much advantage to Ireland as when he broke up the disturbed portions of the country into districts, and delegated all the powers of the Castle to the Magistrates whom he put at the head of these districts,—one of the very ablest of them being -Mr. Clifford Lloyd. After the paper in the Times, whatever else may be said of Mr. Clifford Lloyd, no one will at least venture to say that he is reactionary, and opposed to the liberties of Ireland.

It is quite another question, however, how far the remedy which Mr. Clifford Lloyd proposes for Irish ills would be effectual. What he desires to see is what the advanced Liberals for the most part desire to see,—certainly what we have long desired to see,—the practical development of local liberty in Ireland, with the view of bringing home to the Irish people throughout the length and breadth of the land what political responsibility means, without, however, admitting any development of those local liberties that can take the form of Home-rule, or even of the shadow of Home-rule. In other words, while putting the whole system of municipal and county government on a popular basis, and providing even for the conference and united action of committees of delegates from counties interested in the same common work, he would have nothing to say to a provincial or to any central Assembly, which would really have no locus standi at all, unless it in some degree superseded the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Further, Mr. Clifford Lloyd would get rid of the Viceroyalty, which he regards much as he would regard a Vice- royalty of England or Scotland, and of the mischievous centralisation which that Viceroyalty has caused, and would leave to the Home Secretary the only supervising authority which would still be necessary after the administration of Ireland had been adequately decentralised. From this point of view, he laments as retrograde the recent appointment of a separate Secretary for Scotland, the unfortunate bearing of which on his scheme of decentralisation he clearly sees.

Mr. Clifford Lloyd, however, is perfectly aware that his scheme would not in any way satisfy the Parnellite demand ; and as he does not at all underrate the power of Mr. Parnell in Ireland,—probably he somewhat overrates it,—he is fully aware that, as a consequence of the acceptance of his policy, Great Britain might find herself face to face not only with a Parnellite Parliamentary party of greatly enlarged numbers, but with a vast number of Irish municipalities,—town and country,—the chief object of whose administrative efforts might be to render the Union untenable. He does not tell us, however, how he regards that possibility, or how far he thinks that it would be in the power of such municipalities to embarrass the work of keeping order in Ireland, in order to render the Union impossible. Probably he would say, as we should say, that there would be ultimately nothing but good in Ireland's knowing to the utmost how much she could do, and where her power stopped. The moment a united people, feeling their union, are made to feel also the limits of their strength, and that they have reached those limits, they will find leaders to propose a compromise. But so long as they believe that they have an indefinite reserve of strength, the limits of which they have never tested, they will remain irreconcilable. We are quite aware that the adoption of Mr. Clifford Lloyd's plan might lead us to the very verge, —perhaps over the verge,—of civil war. But still, civil war itself would not be the worst of all disasters, if it gave occasion, as it probably would give occasion, for some frank arrange- ment, founded on the deep conviction that Great Britain would go no further in the way of concession, and that if Ireland were not willing to be content with an amount of liberty exactly equal to that of England and Scotland, she must make up her mind to a military occupation. It is, doubtless, per- fectly true that what the peasant leaders of the rebellious party in Ireland are now aiming at, is Irish independence, an Irish Republic. Still, it may well be that the first step towards wean- ing them from that policy, would be to give them some clearer notion of their own strength. Not till they have fully measured that and found it wanting, will they come to their right reason. Great Britain will be on strong ground if she says,—' We will give you every liberty we desire for ourselves ' • and we will not give you more. We are not going to disintegrate the United Kingdom because one portion of it is utterly discon- tented with the Union. Make up your minds that the Union is a necessity due to your physical proximity to us, and that unless you can tow Ireland out for some hundreds of miles.at least into the Atlantic, we cannot afford to let you set up a separate administration, which would be a constant danger to us. Further, we are not going to break up Great Britain into Federated States in order to find you an excuse for belonging to that Federation. Claim for yourselves every liberty we ask for ourselves, but claim no more ; or if you do, the issue will be one which force alone can decide.' But if we once take that ground we do not doubt that sooner or later,—probably sooner rather than later, for the Irish are keen enough to apprehend facts when plainly put before them,—the result of a conflict would appear so certain that even Irish imaginations would succumb to the logic of facts, and the Irish representatives would settle quietly to work to make the United Kingdom as prosperous as union could make it.