Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.

It is, high time, therefore, to call upon the opponents of Home Rule to tell us plainly where they stand.  They claim a mandate from the country for their policy.  They neither asked nor received a mandate to support the system of Government which prevailed in Ireland at the last election, and still less the policy of coercion which they have substituted for that system.  Do they mean to go back or forward?  They cannot stand still.  They have already discovered that one act of repression leads to another, and they will find ere long that they have no alternative except Home Rule or the suppression of Parliamentary Government in Ireland.  Men may talk lightly of the ease with which eighty-six Irish members may be kept in order in Parliament.  They forget that the Irish people are behind the Irish members.  How is Ireland to be governed on Parliamentary principles if the voice of her representatives is to be forcibly silenced or disregarded?  Could even Yorkshire or Lancashire be governed permanently in that way?  Let it be observed that we have now reached this pass, namely, that the opponents of Home Rule are opposed to the Irish members, not on any particular form of self-government for Ireland, but on any form; in other words, they resist the all but unanimous demand of Ireland for what “Unionists” of all parties declared a year ago to be a reasonable demand.  No candidate at the last election ventured to ask the suffrages of any constituency as “a supporter of things as they are.”  Yet that is practically the attitude now assumed by the Ministerial party, both Conservatives and Liberal Unionists.  It is an attitude of which the country is getting weary, as the bye-elections have shown.  But the “Unionists,” it must be admitted, are in a sore dilemma.  Their strength, such as it is, lies in doing nothing for the reform of Irish Government.  Their bond of union consists of nothing else but opposition to Mr. Gladstone’s policy.  They dare not attempt to formulate any policy of their own, knowing well that they would go to pieces in the process.  Their hope and speculation is that something may happen to remove Mr. Gladstone from the political arena before the next dissolution.  But, after all, Mr. Gladstone did not create the Irish difficulty.  It preceded him and will survive him, unless it is settled to the satisfaction of the Irish people before his departure.  And the difficulty of the final settlement will increase with every year of delay.  Nor will the difficulty be confined to Ireland.  The Irish question is already reacting upon kindred, though not identical, problems in England and Scotland, and the longer it is kept open, so much the worse will it be for what are generally regarded as Conservative interests.  It is not the Moderate Liberals or Conservatives who are gaining ground by the prolongation of the controversy, and the disappearance of Mr. Gladstone from the scene would have the effect of removing from the forces of extreme Radicalism a conservative influence, which his political opponents will discover when it is too late to restore it.  Their regret will then be as unavailing as the lament of William of Deloraine over his fallen foe—­

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Handbook of Home Rule from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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