Ulster's Stand For Union eBook

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.
vote.”  Nevertheless, such speeches as those of the Archbishop of York, Earl Grey, the Duke of Devonshire, and Lord Londonderry, were not without effect on opinion outside.  Earl Grey, an admitted authority on federal constitutions, urged that if, as the Government were continually assuring the country, Home Rule was the first step in the federalisation of the United Kingdom, there was every reason why Ulster should be a distinct unit in the federal system.  The Archbishop dealt more fully with the Ulster question.  Admitting that he had formerly believed “that this attitude of Ulster was something of a scarecrow made up out of old and outworn prejudices,” he had now to acknowledge that the men of Ulster were “of all men the least likely to be ’drugged with the wine of words,’ and were men who of all other men mean and do what they say.”  Behind all the glowing eloquence of Mr. Asquith and Mr. Redmond, he discerned “this figure of Ulster, grim, determined, menacing, which no eloquence can exorcise and no live statesmanship can ignore.”  If the result of this legislation should be actual bloodshed, then, on whomsoever might rest the responsibility for it, it would mean the shattering of all the hopes of a united and contented Ireland which it was the aim of the Bill to create.  If Ulster made good her threat of forcible resistance there was, said the Archbishop, one condition, and one condition only, on which her coercion could be justified, and that was that the Government “should have received from the people of this country an authority clear and explicit” to carry it out.

But among the numerous striking passages in the debate which occupied the Peers for four days, none was more telling than Lord Curzon’s picturesque description of how Ulster was to be treated.  “You are compelling Ulster,” he said, “to divorce her present husband, to whom she is not unfaithful, and you compel her to marry someone else whom she cordially dislikes, with whom she does not want to live; and you do it because she happens to be rich, and because her new partner has a large and ravenous offspring to provide for.  You are asking rather too much of human nature.”

That the Home Rule Bill would be rejected on second reading by the Lords was a foregone conclusion, and it was so rejected by a majority of 257 on the 31st of January, 1913.  The Bill then entered into its period of gestation under the Parliament Act.  The session did not come to an end until the 7th of March, and the new session began three days afterwards.  It is unnecessary to follow the fortunes of the Bill in Parliament in 1913, for the process was purely mechanical, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Parliament Act.  The preparations for dealing with the mischief it would work went forward with unflagging energy elsewhere.

FOOTNOTES: 

[40] See ante, p. 79.

CHAPTER XII

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Ulster's Stand For Union from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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