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A Handbook of Irish Home Rule with full original text by William Gladstone and others

A Handbook of Irish Home Rule with full original text by William Gladstone and others

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A Handbook of Irish Home Rule with full original text by William Gladstone and others

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361 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Jan 13, 2012
ISBN:
9781907791697
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

This book was written in 1887 at a critical time for both the debate on Irish Home Rule and for Gladstone himself. It influence on events proved to be great, though as with all efforts to solve the "Irish Question" in the 19th century it was ultimately doomed to failure.

For decades Gladstone had enjoyed a continual rise through the ranks of the Liberal Party that had ensured him respect, popularity and high political office. Even his opponents had recognised his talents and dedication to the cause that he believed to be right. He had been Prime Minister of Britain from 1868 to 1874 and was again elected Premier in 1880, and again in 1886. He had then lost power in a spectacularly bitter contest in the House of Commons that centred on Irish Home Rule.

Gladstone went into opposition with bad grace. After years of being lionised by supporters and respected by opponents, Gladstone found himself despised and reviled by substantial sections of the nation. Even his own party had largely turned against him, with many MPs setting up a separate party of Liberal Unionists who were opposed to Home Rule.

It was in this febrile and depressing atmosphere that Gladstone contributed his thoughts to this book on Home Rule. It was to prove to be the defining work putting forward the case for Irish Home Rule to the British public. The book argued strongly that Home Rule would solve most, if not all of Irelands problems - but went further to portray Home Rule as morally correct as well as politically wise. The book went a long way to defusing the hostility to Home Rule that had sprung from ignorance of the facts in Ireland. Although it did not end opposition entirely much of the venom and emotion was taken out of the debate.

As well as the key note section by Gladstone, the book includes sections by other eminent scholars and politicians including Earl Spencer, Canon MacColl, E. Godkin, James Bryce, Barry O’Brien and John Morley.

This edition has an introduction by historian Rupert Matthews that puts this classic work into its historical and politcal context.

Pubblicato:
Jan 13, 2012
ISBN:
9781907791697
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Rupert Matthews is the author of more than 100 books, including The Illustrated History of the Twentieth Century and Popes: Every Question Answered. Rupert's family has for generations served in the British military, a fact that inspired him to specialize in military history. He has written extensively on major historical battles and on the lives of great military leaders. Rupert lives in Surrey, England with his wife and two children.  

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A Handbook of Irish Home Rule with full original text by William Gladstone and others - Rupert Matthews

HANDBOOK OF HOME RULE

being articles on the Irish Question by the Rt Hon. W.E. Gladstone MP, the Rt Hon John Morley MP, Lord Thring, James Brynce MP, Canon MacColl, E.L. Godkin and R. Barry. With a preface by the Rt Hon Earl Spencer KG

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This Edition First Published 2012

Copyright © Bretwalda Books 2012

Published by Bretwalda Books at Smashwords

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ISBN 978-1-907791-69-7

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CONTENTS

Introduction by Rupert Matthews

PREFACE. BY THE RIGHT HON. EARL SPENCER, K.G.

Chapter 1 - AMERICAN HOME RULE. BY E.L. GODKIN

Chapter 2 - HOW WE BECAME HOME RULERS. BY JAMES BRYCE, M.P.

Chapter 3 - HOME RULE AND IMPERIAL UNITY. BY LORD THRING

Chapter 4 - THE IRISH GOVERNMENT BILL AND THE IRISH LAND BILL. BY LORD THRING

Chapter 5 - THE UNIONIST POSITION. BY CANON MACCOLL

Chapter 6 - A LAWYER'S OBJECTIONS TO HOME RULE. BY E.L. GODKIN

Chapter 7 - THE UNIONIST CASE FOR HOME RULE. BY R. BARRY O'BRIEN

Chapter 8 - IRELAND'S ALTERNATIVES. BY LORD THRING

Chapter 9 - THE PAST AND FUTURE OF THE IRISH QUESTION. BY JAMES BRYCE, M.P.

Chapter 10 - SOME ARGUMENTS CONSIDERED. BY THE RIGHT HON. JOHN MORLEY, M.P.

Chapter 11 - LESSONS OF IRISH HISTORY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. BY THE RIGHT HON. W.E. GLADSTONE, M.P.

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Introduction by Rupert Matthews

An Irish family being evicted from their farm.

This book was written in 1887 at a critical time for both the debate on Irish Home Rule and for Gladstone himself. It influence on events proved to be great, though as with all efforts to solve the Irish Question in the 19th century it was ultimately doomed to failure.

For decades Gladstone had enjoyed a continual rise through the ranks of the Liberal Party that had ensured him respect, popularity and high political office. Even his opponents had recognised his talents and dedication to the cause that he believed to be right. He had been Prime Minister of Britain from 1868 to 1874 and was again elected Premier in 1880 with a majority in the House of Commons of 51.

Then in 1885 came the disastrous Sudan Campaign and Gladstone's world fell apart. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 had made Egypt strategically important in a way it had not been for centuries. Britain was especially interested as the new canal linked her to India, the greatest asset in the British Empire. At this date Egypt was officially a part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, but to all intents and purposes was an independent country ruled by the Khedive of Egypt. The Khedive also ruled the Sudan, a rather poorer and more turbulent area than Egypt proper. In 1873 the Khedive hired a British soldier, Charles Gordon, to be Governor of Sudan. Gordon left in 1880 and soon afterwards a fundamentalist Islamic uprising took place in the Sudan led by a Muslim cleric named Muhammad Ahmad. This Ahmad preached renewal of the faith and liberation of the Sudan, a heady mix of religion and nationalism. He went on to proclaim himself to be the Mahdi, the promised redeemer of the Islamic world.

By early 1884 it was clear that Egypt could not hold on to the Sudan, so Gordon was sent back to organise the evacuation of the thousands of Egyptian nationals in the area. He managed to get himself and his small army trapped in the city of Khartoum, where he was soon put under siege by the Mahdi. Gladstone was urged to send a relief column of British troops, but there were frequent delays and it was weeks before the column set out. It fought its way to Khartoum, but arrived just two days too late. Gordon and all his men were dead. The delay proved fatal not only to Gordon, but also to Gladstone's career. Newspapers that had been hailing him as GOM for Grand Old Man now denounced him as MOG for Murderer of Gordon. In the General Election held later that year Gladstone and his Liberals were crushed, losing more than a hundred seats to the Conservatives led by the Marquess of Salisbury.

However salvation appeared to be at hand. The issue of how to deal with the economic, religious and social problems of Ireland had long been a major factor in British politics. There were many different aspects to what was dubbed The Irish Question. The majority of the population were Catholics, but the established church was Protestant. The main economic activity was farming, but most farmland was in the hands of a tiny minority of the population. The free trade policies of the British government favoured industrial interests, but there was little industry in Ireland.

There had been many attempts to solve the problems of Ireland. One of these, in 1801, had been to the political unification of Britain and Ireland. Until then the two countries had been separate kingdoms that shared the same monarch but were otherwise ruled and administered separately. The Union of 1801 made the two countries one. By the 1870s, however, many people, especially in Ireland, were blaming the Union for many of Ireland's woes. It was widely claimed that the British government was ignoring Ireland and that the smaller kingdom would be better off run from Dublin by Irishmen. The policy became known as Home Rule.

Irish lawyer Daniel O'Connell led a long campaign in the early 19th century that led to the emancipation of Catholics.

In the early 1880s Gladstone had come around to support Home Rule. This proved to be fortuitous for the Irish Nationalists, led by the charismatic Charles Parnell, held 86 seats in the House of Commons. Despite the huge gains made by the Conservatives at the election, they did not have an overall majority. In February 1886 Salisbury brought a Bill before Parliament concerning land rights in Ireland. Parnell opposed it, so did Gladstone. Salisbury lost the vote and resigned as Prime Minister. Parnell and his MPs put Gladstone back into power.

Charles Stewart Parnell

Parnell demanded a price for his support in the shape of a Home Rule Bill for Ireland. Gladstone introduced the Bill in April 1886 to fierce opposition from the Conservatives. As the weeks of acrimonious debate dragged on it became clear that many Liberals did not like the Bill either. Gladstone refused to compromise and at the vote in June the Bill was defeated, with no less than 91 Liberals voting against it. Another General Election followed and this time the Conservative were returned with a clear overall majority.

Gladstone went into opposition with bad grace. After years of being lionised by supporters and respected by opponents, Gladstone found himself despised and reviled by substantial sections of the nation. Even his own party had largely turned against him, with many MPs setting up a separate party of Liberal Unionists who were opposed to Home Rule. His support of Home Rule had caused him nothing but trouble. First he had become so absorbed by Irish issues that he had not concentrated on the Sudan issue until it was too late, then he had split his own party and lost power.

It was in this febrile and depressing atmosphere that Gladstone contributed his thoughts to this book on Home Rule. It was to prove to be the defining work putting forward the case for Irish Home Rule to the British public. The book argued strongly that Home Rule would solve most, if not all of Irelands problems - but went further to portray Home Rule as morally correct as well as politically wise. The book went a long way to defusing the hostility to Home Rule that had sprung from ignorance of the facts in Ireland. Although it did not end opposition entirely much of the venom and emotion was taken out of the debate.

William Gladstone in pensive mood.

In 1892 Gladstone returned to office and in 1893 brought in a new Home Rule Bill. This time the Bill passed the House of Commons, but was defeated in the House of Lords. Gladstone retired in 1894 and died in 1898. A Home Rule Act was finally passed by Parliament in 1914, but the outbreak of the Great War caused its implementation to be postponed and in the event the southern counties of Ireland became independent in 1922.

Although Gladstone was by far the most eminent of the writers contributing to this book, he was not alone. The other contributors to the book make up an impressive group and drew on many sections of society and came from a variety of backgrounds.

The Preface was written by John, the 5th Earl Spencer, came from one of the oldest and grandest of English aristocratic families. He had been elected as a Liberal MP before he inherited his earldom in 1868 and continued to be a loyal Liberal as he rose to high office. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1868 to 1874 and again from 1882 to 1885. The Home Rule Bill of 1885 had been largely his work, and many Liberals blamed him for the defeat of that Bill. After this book was written he remained active in politics and in 1902 became Liberal Leader in the Lords. He was expected by many to become leader of the Liberal Party, but ill health intervened and he never attained that office.

Edwin Lawrence Godkin was a journalist who had been born in County Wicklow into a Protestant family. He later worked in London before emigrating to the USA to study law. Although he qualified as a lawyer, Godkin continued to write for newspapers and in 1881 he became Associate Editor of the influenital New York Post. It was in this position that Godkin got involved with Irish Home Rule. He engaged in a very public and acrimonious dispute with the historian Goldwin Smith, who opposed Home Rule. The large Irish population of New York largely took Godkin’s side and sales of the Post increased. Godkin was a fearless jouranlist who was unsuccessfully sued for libel several times and who took a stridently independent line, unlike many American newspapers which were closely aligned to political parties or to individual politicians. He retired in 1899 and died in 1902.

James Bryce was another Liberal politician, though a somewhat unusual one. He had begun his career conventionally enough as a lawyer, but had then become a Law Professor at Oxford University. There he became obsessed with ancient literature, especially the pagan Icelandic sagas and the Bible. He travelled extensively and in 1876 he went to Turkey where he climbed Mount Ararat where he found a piece of timber that he proclaimed to have come from Noah's Ark. He was first elected to Parliament as a Liberal in 1880, remaining in the House to 1907. He later served as Ambassador to the USA. On his retirement he was created Viscount Bryce and served in the House of Lords to his death in 1922.

Henry, 1st Baron Thring, was not a Liberal, but he was an experienced legislator. In 1869 he left his legal practice to take up the post of Parliamentary Counsel. In this position he headed the staff who drafted all government legislation that was put before the House of Commons. It was his responsiblity to ensure that all new laws were compatible with established law and were constitutionally valid. He also had to ensure that the new laws were properly drafted, were not ambiguous in any way and did not create conflicts of interest between one government body and another. Having such a prestigious and ostentatiously politically neutral figure as Lord Thring contribute to this book was a major coup that greatly enhanced the prestige of the work. No doubt this was why he contributed three chapters.

Canon Malcolm MacColl came from a very different background to the other authors. He was born in 1831 the son of an impoverished Scottish Highland crofter and was orphaned at a young age. His native tongue was Gaelic, learning English only as a teenager. He gained a scholarship to Trinity College through his hard work and academic talents and in 1857 was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in Scotland. In the same year he met Gladstone, and the two men at once struck up a friendship that was to last a lifetime. MacColl moved to the Church of England in 1859 and at once plunged into a prolific career writing about theological matters. He also found time to travel to the Turkish Ottoman Empire where he was appalled at the treatment of Christians. This proved to be a new subject for his writings, which became increasingly politicised and strident as the years passed. By the time he contributed to this book he was a well known writer or articles and was much in demand as a speaker for lectures and political events. In later life he became a great opponent of Muslim rule over Christians and spoke out frequently against the Ottomans. He died in 1907.

R. Barry O'Brien was a noted Irish historian who had been born in County Clare in 1864 and educated at the Catholic University, Dublin. He earned his living writing history, but spent much of his time working as the unpaid secretary to Charles Parnell. At the time he contributed to this book he was working on his magisterial Two Centuries of Irish History, which was to be published in 1888. He then moved on to edit the autobiography of 18th century Irish nationalist Wolfe Tone and to write a biography of Charles Parnell, who died in 1891. O'Brien himself lived until 1918.

John Morley had a varied career. He began training as a clergyman before deciding to become a lawyer, then abandoned that profession to become a journalist and finally entered Parliament. He was elected as an MP in a by-election in 1883, just in time for Gladstone to appoint him to be Chief Secretary for Ireland in his short-lived ministry of 1886. Morley went on to serve in a variety of posts in later Liberal governments, including Chief Secretary for Ireland a second time and Secretary of State for India. He was created Viscount Morley of Blackburn in 1908 when he retired from front line politics, though he remained sporadically active in the House of Lords to his death in 1923.

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PREFACE

John, the 5th Earl Spencer

The present seems an excellent moment for bringing forward the arguments in favour of a new policy for Ireland, which are to be found in the articles contained in this volume.

We are realizing the first results of the verdict given at the election of 1886. And this I interpret as saying that the constituencies were not then ready to depart from the lines of policy which, up to last year, nearly all politicians of both parties in Parliament had laid down for their guidance in Irish affairs.

We have had the Session occupied almost wholly with Lord Salisbury's proposals for strengthening the power of the central Government to maintain law and order in Ireland, and for dealing with the most pressing necessities of the Land question in that country.

It is well, before the policy of the Government is practically tested, that the views of thoughtful men holding different opinions should be clearly set forth, not in the shape of polemical speeches, but in measured articles which specially appeal to those who have not hitherto joined the fighting ranks of either side, and who are sure to intervene with great force at the next election, when the Irish question is again submitted to the constituencies.

I feel that I can add little or nothing to the weight of the arguments contained in these papers, but I should like to give some reasons why I earnestly hope that they will receive careful consideration.

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 rulers, and strengthen their leaning to national sentiments. Their national aspirations have never died out since 1782. They have taken various forms; but if the movements arising from them have been put down, fresh movements have constantly sprung up. The Press has grown into an immense power, and its influences have all been used to strengthen the zeal for Irish nationality, while, at the same time, the success of the national movements in Italy, Hungary, Greece, and Germany have had the same effect. Lastly, the sentiment of Home Rule has gained the sympathy of large bodies of electors in the constituencies of Great Britain, and, under the circumstances, it is difficult to suppose that, even if the country remains quiet, constitutional agitation will vanish or the Irish relinquish their most cherished ambition.

We hear, from men who ought to know something of Ireland, that if the Land question is once settled, and dual ownership practically abolished, the tenants will be satisfied, and the movement for Home Rule will no longer find active support in Ireland. Without going into the whole of this argument, I should like to say two things: first, that I do not know how a large scheme of Land Purchase can be carried through Parliament with safety to Imperial interests without establishing, at the same time, some strong Irish Government in Dublin to act between the Imperial Government and the tenants of Ireland; and, second, that the feeling for Home Rule has a vitality of its own which will survive the Land question, even if independently settled.

Home Rule is an expression of national feeling which cannot be extinguished in Ireland, and the only safe method of dealing with it is to turn its force and power to the support of an Irish Government established for the management of local Irish affairs. There are those who think that this must lead to separation. I cannot believe in this fear, for I know of no English statesman who looks upon complete separation of Ireland from Great Britain as possible. The geographical position of Ireland, the social and commercial connection between the two peoples, renders such a thing impossible. The Irish know this, and they are not so foolish as to think that they could gain their independence by force of arms; but I do not believe that they desire it. They are satisfied to obtain the management of their own local affairs under the ægis of the flag of England. The papers in this volume show how this can be done with due regard to Imperial interests and the rights of minorities.

I shall not enlarge on this part of the subject, but I wish to draw attention to the working of the Irish Government, and the position which it holds in the country, for it is through its administration that the policy of the Cabinet will be carried out. At the outset I feel bound to deprecate the exaggerated condemnation which the Castle receives from its opponents. It has its defects. Notwithstanding efforts of various ministers to enlarge the circle from which its officials are drawn, it is still too narrow for the modern development of Irish society, and it has from time to time been recruited from partisans without sufficient regard to the efficiency and requirements of the public service. But, on the whole, its members, taken as individuals, can well bear comparison with those of other branches of the Civil Service. They are diligent; they desire to do their duty with impartiality, and to hold an even balance between many opposing interests in Ireland. Whatever party is in office, they loyally carry out the policy of their chiefs. They are, probably, more plastic to the leadership of the heads of departments than members of some English offices, and they are more quickly moved by the influences around them. Sometimes they may relapse into an attitude of indifference and inertness if their chiefs are not active; but, on the other hand, they will act with vigour and decision if they are led by men who know their own minds and desire to be firm in the government of the country.

When speaking of the chiefs of the Irish Civil Service, who change according to the political party in office, we must not overlook the legal officers, who exercise a most powerful influence on Irish administration. They consist of the Lord Chancellor, the Attorney and Solicitor General, and, until 1883, there was also an officer called the Law Adviser, who was the maid-of-all-work of Castle administration. In England, those who hold similar legal offices take no part in the daily administration of public affairs. The Lord Chancellor, as a member of the Cabinet, takes his share in responsibility for the policy of the Government. The law officers are consulted in special cases, and take their part from time to time in debates in the House of Commons. In Ireland, however, the Chancellor is constantly consulted by the Lord-Lieutenant on any difficult matter of administration, and the Attorney and Solicitor General are in constant communication with the Lord-Lieutenant, if he carries out the daily work of administration, and with the Chief and the Under Secretary.

Governments differ as to the use they make of these officials. Some Governments have endeavoured to confine their work to cases where a mere legal opinion has to be obtained; but, when the country is in a disturbed state, even these limited references become very frequent, and questions of policy as well as of law are often discussed with the law officers. It is needless to say that, with their knowledge of Ireland and the traditions of Castle government (it is rare that all the law officers are new to office, and, consequently, they carry on the traditions from one Government to another), they often exercise a paramount influence over the policy of the Irish Government, and practically control it.

They are connected with the closest and most influential order in Irish society—the legal order, consisting of the judges and Bar of Ireland. This adds to the general weight of their advice, but it has a special bearing when cases of legal reform or administration are under consideration; it then requires unwonted courage and independence for the law officers of the Crown to support changes which the lay members of the Government deem necessary.

I have known conspicuous instances of the exercise of these high qualities by law officers enabling reforms to be carried, but as a rule, particularly when the initiative of legal reform is left to them, the Irish law officers do not care to move against the feeling of the legal world in Dublin. The lawyers, like other bodies, oppose the diminution of offices and honours belonging to them, or of the funds which, in the way of fees and salaries, are distributed among members of the bar; and they become bitterly hostile to any permanent official who is known to be a firm legal reformer. It would be impossible for me not to acknowledge the great service often done to the Government by the able men who have filled the law offices, yet I feel that under certain circumstances, when their influence has been allowed too strongly to prevail, it has tended to narrow the views of the Irish Government, and to keep it within a circle too narrow for the altered circumstances of modern life.

The chief peculiarity of the Irish Administration is its extreme centralization. In this two departments may be mentioned as typical of the whole—the police and administration of local justice.

The police in Dublin and throughout Ireland are under the control of the Lord-Lieutenant, and both these forces are admirable of their kind. They are almost wholly maintained by Imperial funds. The Dublin force costs about £150,000 a year. The Royal Irish Constabulary costs over a million in quiet, and a million and a half in disturbed times. Local authorities have nothing to do with their action or management. Local justice is administered by unpaid magistrates as in England, but they have been assisted, and gradually are being supplanted, by magistrates appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant and paid by the State.

This state of things arose many years ago from the want of confidence between resident landlords and the bulk of the people. When agrarian or religious differences disturbed a locality the people distrusted the local magistrates, and by degrees the system of stipendiary, or, as they are called, resident magistrates, spread over the country. To maintain the judicial independence and impartiality of these magistrates is of the highest importance. At one time this was in some danger, for the resident magistrates not only heard cases at petty sessions, but, as executive peace officers, to a very great extent took the control of the police in their district, not only at riots, but in following up and discovering offenders. Their position as judicial and executive officers was thus very unfortunately mixed up. Between 1882 and 1883 the Irish Government did their utmost to separate and distinguish

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