4 NOVEMBER 1882, Page 13


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR.'.] S111,—I had hoped not to occupy any more of your valuable space, either with my views on Ireland or any other subject. But Mr. Goldwin Smith's note in your number of October 7th, which has just reached me, requires a word of personal explana- tion. He says at the close, referring apparently to my article in the Nineteenth Century,—" That, however, to which I most demur in Mr. Godkin's paper, is its appearing as 'an American view of the Irish Question.' It is the view, not of a native American, but of an Irish Nationalist, animated by the usual feelings of his party towards Great Britain and the Union." The heading of that article was not mine. I sent it to the Editor of the Nineteenth, Oentury through a friend, without a title, and the one which appeared was, I presume, the editor's own. It was not what I liked or intended, as I meant the article to be the view of the person who signed it, conceiving the Irish question to be one which anybody was at liberty to discuss. But the title was substantially correct, because the article does contain "an American View of Ireland,"—that is, the view of nine out of every ten Americans who know or care anything about the Irish question, a very small body, I am bound to admit. On this point, I am forced to claim for myself the credit of being, for reasons which I need not enumerate here, a far better judge than Mr. Goldwin Smith.

When, however, he says it is "the view of an Irish Nationalist, animated by the usual feelings of his party," I am obliged to be a little more direct, and say that there is not the smallest founda- tion for this charge. It surprised me so much when I saw the telegraphic summary of it a fortnight ago, that I wrote privately to Mr. Smith, asking whether he had really designated me as an"Irish Nationalist," meaning thereby a member of the Irish Party known by that name ; but he was unable in his answer to recall what he had said in the Spectator. 1 have never, to my knowledge, seen an Irish Nationalist, Fenian, or Home-ruler, and have never had any communication with one ; and in nearly thirty years of printed expression of opinion, have never uttered one word of hostility to Great Britain or to the Union, or ever felt any such hostility, or ever encouraged any movement having reformation for its object, or ever spoken or written in favour even of Home-rule in any form, until my article in the Nineteenth Century, which contains conclusions to which I have been driven reluctantly, by the events of the last three or four years. Mr. Goldwin Smith's imputation is the more extraordinary, because he has more than once done me the honour to assure me of the attention with which he has during the last twenty years followed my discussions of the leading questions of the day.—I am, Sir, &c., New Yorlc, October 19th. E. L. GODKIN.