Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.
ever.’  No part of this defence is probably more true than that which connects the drunkenness of the Irish people with their misery.  Drunkenness is, generally speaking, the vice of despair; and it springs from the despair of the Irish peasant as rankly as from that of his English fellow.  The sums of money which have lately been transmitted by Irish emigrants to their friends in Ireland seem a conclusive answer to much loose denunciation of the national character, both in a moral and an industrial point of view....  There seems no good reason for believing that the Irish Kelts are averse to labour, provided they be placed, as people of all races require to be placed, for two or three generations in circumstances favourable to industry."[38] He shows that the Irish have not been so placed.  “Still more does justice require that allowance should be made on historical grounds for the failings of the Irish people.  If they are wanting in industry, in regard for the rights of property, in reverence for the law, history furnishes a full explanation of their defects, without supposing in them any inherent depravity, or even any inherent weakness.  They have never had the advantage of the training through which other nations have passed in their gradual rise from barbarism to civilization.  The progress of the Irish people was arrested at almost a primitive stage, and a series of calamities, following close upon each other, have prevented it from ever fairly resuming its course.  The pressure of overwhelming misery has now been reduced; government has become mild and just; the civilizing agency of education has been introduced; the upper classes are rapidly returning to their duty, and the natural effect is at once seen in the improved character of the people.  Statesmen are bound to be well acquainted with the historical sources of the evil with which they have to deal, especially when those evils are of such a nature as, at first aspect, to imply depravity in a nation.  There are still speakers and writers who seem to think that the Irish are incurably vicious, because the accumulated effects of so many centuries cannot be removed at once by a wave of the legislator’s wand.  Some still believe, or affect to believe, that the very air of the island is destructive of the characters and understandings of all who breathe it."[39]

Elsewhere he adds, referring to the land system: 

“How many centuries of a widely different training have the English people gone through in order to acquire their boasted love of law."[40]

Of the “training” through which the Irish went, he says—­

“The existing settlement of land in Ireland, whether dating from the confiscations of the Stuarts, or from those of Cromwell, rests on a proscription three or four times as long as that on which the settlement of land rests over a considerable part of France.  It may, therefore, be considered as placed upon discussion in the estimation of all sane men; and, this being the case, it is safe to observe that no inherent want of respect for property is shown by the Irish people if a proprietorship which had its origin within historical memory in flagrant wrong is less sacred in their eyes than it would be if it had its origin in immemorial right."[41]

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Handbook of Home Rule from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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