Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.
that most impartial men would regard Ireland, in the event of a great European war, rather as a source of weakness than of strength.  More than seventy years have passed since the boasted measure of Pitt, and it is unfortunately incontestable that the lower orders in Ireland are as hostile to the system of government under which they live as the Hungarian people have ever been to Austrian, or the Roman to Papal rule; that Irish disloyalty is multiplying enemies of England wherever the English tongue is spoken; and that the national sentiment runs so strongly that multitudes of Irish Catholics look back with deep affection to the Irish Parliament, although no Catholic could sit within its walls, and although it was only during the last seven years of its independent existence that Catholics could vote for its members.  Among the opponents of the Union were many of the most loyal, as well as nearly all the ablest men in Ireland; and Lord Charlemont, who died shortly before the measure was consummated, summed up the feelings of many in the emphatic sentence with which he protested against it.  ’It would more than any other measure,’ he said, ’contribute to the separation of two countries the perpetual connection of which is one of the warmest wishes of my heart.’

“In fact, the Union of 1800 was not only a great crime, but was also, like most crimes, a great blunder.  The manner in which it was carried was not only morally scandalous; it also entirely vitiated it as a work of statesmanship.  No great political measure can be rationally judged upon its abstract merits, and without considering the character and the wishes of the people for whom it is intended.  It is now idle to discuss what might have been the effect of a Union if it had been carried before 1782, when the Parliament was still unemancipated; if it had been the result of a spontaneous movement of public opinion; if it had been accompanied by the emancipation of the Catholics.  Carried as it was prematurely, in defiance of the national sentiment of the people and of the protests of the unbribed talent of the country, it has deranged the whole course of political development, driven a large proportion of the people into sullen disloyalty, and almost destroyed healthy public opinion.  In comparing the abundance of political talent in Ireland during the last century with the striking absence of it at present, something no doubt may be attributed to the absence of protection for literary property in Ireland in the former period, which may have directed an unusual portion of the national talent to politics, and something to the Colonial and Indian careers which have of late years been thrown open to competition; but when all due allowances have been made for these, the contrast is sufficiently impressive.  Few impartial men can doubt that the tone of political life and the standard of political talent have been lowered, while sectarian animosity has been greatly increased, and the extent to which Fenian principles have permeated the people is a melancholy comment upon the prophesies that the Union would put an end to disloyalty in Ireland."[35]

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Handbook of Home Rule from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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