This has proved true of the American and Swiss federations; it will probably prove true of the Austro-Hungarian federation and of any that may be set up by Great Britian [Transcriber: sic.] and her colonies. It will prove still more true of any attempt that may be made at federation between Great Britain and Ireland. No corrections which could be made in the Gladstonian or any other constitution would make it work exactly on the lines laid down by its framers. Even if it were revised in accordance with Mr. Dicey’s criticism, it would probably be found, as in the case of the American Constitution, that few of the dangers which were most feared for it had beset it, and that some of the inconveniences which were most distinctly foreseen as likely to arise from it were among the things which had materially contributed to its success. History is full of the gentle ridicule which the course of events throws on statesmen and philosophers.
[Footnote 24: Printed in the earlier part of this volume.]
[Footnote 25: Essay on the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences.]
BY R. BARRY O’BRIEN.
I am often asked, What are the best books to read on the Irish question? and I never fail to mention Mr. Lecky’s Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland and the History of England in the Eighteenth Century; Mr. Goldwin Smith’s Irish History and Irish Character, Three English Statesmen, The Irish Question, and Professor Dicey’s admirable work, England’s Case against Home Rule.
Indeed, the case for Home Rule, as stated in these books, is unanswerable; and it redounds to the credit of Mr. Lecky, Mr. Goldwin Smith, and Mr. Dicey that their narrative of facts should in no wise be prejudiced by their political opinions.
That their facts are upon one side and their opinions on the other is a minor matter. Their facts, I venture to assert, have made more Home Rulers than their opinions can unmake.
To put this assertion to the test I propose to quote some extracts from the works above mentioned. These extracts shall be full and fair. Nothing shall be left out that can in the slightest degree qualify any statement of fact in the context. Arguments will be omitted, for I wish to place facts mainly before my readers. From these facts they can draw their own conclusions. Neither shall I take up space with comments of my own. I shall call my witnesses and let them speak for themselves.
In the introduction to the new edition of the Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland, published in 1871—seventy-one years after Mr. Pitt’s Union, which was to make England and Ireland one nation—we find the following “contrast” between “national life” in the two countries:—