Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.

Mr. Lecky’s views as to what ought to have been done in 1800 deserve to be set forth.

“While, however, the Irish policy of Pitt appears to be both morally and politically deserving of almost unmitigated condemnation, I cannot agree with those who believe that the arrangement of 1782 could have been permanent.  The Irish Parliament would doubtless have been in time reformed, but it would have soon found its situation intolerable.  Imperial policy must necessarily have been settled by the Imperial Parliament, in which Ireland had no voice; and, unlike Canada or Australia, Ireland is profoundly affected by every change of Imperial policy.  Connection with England was of overwhelming importance to the lesser country, while the tie uniting them would have been found degrading by one nation and inconvenient to the other.  Under such circumstances a Union of some kind was inevitable.  It was simply a question of time, and must have been demanded by Irish opinion.  At the same time, it would not, I think, have been such a Union as that of 1800.  The conditions of Irish and English politics are so extremely different, and the reasons for preserving in Ireland a local centre of political life are so powerful, that it is probable a Federal Union would have been preferred.  Under such a system the Irish Parliament would have continued to exist, but would have been restricted to purely local subjects, while an Imperial Parliament, in which Irish representatives sat, would have directed the policy of the empire."[36]


None of the recent opponents of Home Rule have written against that policy with more brilliance and epigrammatic keenness than Mr. Goldwin Smith.  But no one has stated with more force the facts and considerations which, operating on men’s mind for years past, have made the Liberal party Home Rulers now.  His coup d’oeil remains the most pointed indictment ever drawn from the historical annals of Ireland against the English methods of governing that country.  Twenty years ago he anticipated the advice recently given by Mr. Gladstone.  In 1867 he wrote:—­

“I have myself sought and found in the study of Irish history the explanation of the paradox, that a people with so many gifts, so amiable, naturally so submissive to rulers, and everywhere but in their own country industrious, are in their own country bywords of idleness, lawlessness, disaffection, and agrarian crime."[37] He explains the paradox thus:  “But it is difficult to distinguish the faults of the Irish from their misfortunes.  It has been well said of their past industrial character and history,—­’We were reckless, ignorant, improvident, drunken, and idle.  We were idle, for we had nothing to do; we were reckless, for we had no hope; we were ignorant, for learning was denied us; we were improvident, for we had no future; we were drunken, for we sought to forget our misery.  That time has passed away for

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Handbook of Home Rule from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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