The writers have endeavoured to approach their work with impartiality, and to free themselves from those prejudices which make it difficult for Englishmen to discuss Irish questions in a fresh and independent train of thought, and realize how widely Irish customs, laws, traditions, and sentiments differ from our own.
We are apt to think that what has worked well here will work well in Ireland; that Irishmen who differ from us are unreasonable; and that their proposals for change must be mistaken. We do not make allowance for the soreness of feeling prevailing among men who have long objected to the system by which Ireland has been governed, and who find that their earnest appeals for reform have been, until recent times, contemptuously disregarded by English politicians. Time after time moderate counsels have been rejected until too late. Acts of an exceptional character intended to secure law and order have been very numerous, and every one of them has caused fresh irritation; while remedial measures have been given in a manner which has not won the sympathy of the people, because they have not been the work of the Irish themselves, and have not been prepared in their own way.
Parliament seems during the past Session to have fallen into the same error. By the power of an English majority, measures have been passed which are vehemently opposed by the political leaders and the majority of the Irish nation, and which are only agreeable to a small minority in Ireland. This action can only succeed if the Irish can be persuaded to relinquish the national sentiments of Home Rule; and yet this was never stronger or more vigorous than at the present time. It is supported by millions of Irish settled in America and in Australia; and here I would say that it has often struck me that the strong feeling of dissatisfaction, or, I might say, of disaffection, among the Irish is fed and nurtured by the marked contrast existing between the social condition of large numbers of the Irish in the South and West of Ireland and the views and habits of their numerous relatives in the United States.
The social condition of many parts of Ireland is as backward, or perhaps more backward, than the condition of the rural population of England at the end of last or the beginning of this century. The Irish peasantry still live in poor hovels, often in the same room with animals; they have few modern comforts; and yet they are in close communication with those who live at ease in the cities and farms of the United States. They are also imbued with all the advanced political notions of the American Republic, and are sufficiently educated to read the latest political doctrines in the Press which circulates among them. Their social condition at home is a hundred years behind their state of political and mental culture. They naturally contrast the misery of many Irish peasants with the position of their relatives in the New World. This cannot but embitter their views against English