If we turn from Dublin to London, we do not find greater prospects of success. Twice within fourteen months Lord Salisbury has formed a Government. In 1885 his Cabinet, on taking office, deliberately decided to rule Ireland without exceptional laws; after a few months, they announced that they must ask Parliament for fresh powers. They resigned before they had defined their measures. But within six months Lord Salisbury was once more Prime Minister, and again commenced his administration by governing Ireland under the ordinary law. This attempt did not continue longer than the first, for when Parliament met in 1887, preparations were at once made to carry the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which occupied so large a portion of the late Session.
This is not the action of men who have strong faith in their principles. Nor can it be shown that the continuous support so necessary for success will be given to this policy. No doubt it may be urged that the operation of the Act is not limited in duration; but, notwithstanding that, few politicians believe that the constituencies of Great Britain will long support the application of exceptional criminal laws to any part of the United Kingdom.
This would be wholly inconsistent with past experience In relation to these measures, which points entirely the other way; and the publication in English newspapers and constant discussion on English platforms of the painful incidents which seem, unfortunately, inseparable from a rigid administration of the law in Ireland, together with the prolonged debates, such incidents give rise to, in Parliament, aggravate the difficulties of administration, and lead the Irish people to believe that exceptional legislation will be as short-lived in the future as it has been in the past.
It was this evidence of want of continuity of policy in 1885, and the startling disclosure of the weakness of the anti-national party in Ireland at the election in the autumn of that year, which finally convinced me that the time had come when we could no longer turn to a mixed policy of remedial and exceptional criminal legislation as the means of winning the constituencies of that country in support of our old system of governing Ireland. That system has failed for eighty-six years, and obviously cannot succeed when worked with representative institutions. As the people of Great Britain will not for a moment tolerate the withdrawal of representative government from Ireland, we must adopt some new plan. What I have here written