to the people, while we fail to detect signs of the healthy indignation that such misconduct should arouse. There is, in fact, no public condemnation of this public evil. The conscience of the people is asleep, and shows as yet no sign of awakening. Until the present amused indifference gives place to righteous indignation, until politics, whether local or Imperial, cease to be regarded mainly as a game unhampered by rules of fair play, so long shall we continue to receive day by day an object-lesson on the evils of Home Rule.

Lastly, we have reviewed some of the failings and faults of Irish landowners in their relations with one another and with their dependents, or rather with those who were their dependents in the past. We have noted in them a certain lack of energy and of practical patriotism which does not promise too well for the future of Ireland. It is to the upper classes, if anywhere, that we must look for the regeneration of the country. At present they are politically powerless. Were Home Rule to be passed to-morrow their share in the councils of the nation would be for some years to come small, if not entirely negligible. Their chance of practical service to their country will, however, sooner or later come. Indeed, signs of its approach are not wanting in a certain impatience of the incompetence and dishonesty of their leaders which the mass of the people betray. If, when their opportunity does come, the Irish gentry are ready to take advantage of it and to assume once more their proper share in the government of the country then, and not till then, will Ireland be fit for Home Rule.

But will Ireland want it then? Does she really wish for it even now? Those whose intimate knowledge of the country and people best qualifies them to judge will agree with us that, except at political meetings, there are few, if any, signs of enthusiasm for Home Rule.

It has been remarked that the most zealous and patriotic Irishmen are those who for one cause or another do not live in Ireland. We may suggest, as a parallel, that the most zealous advocates of Home Rule are those who have no stake in the country and so have nothing to lose by its concession.

Doubtless most of us are acquainted with the representation of Ireland as a beautiful young woman, mourning over her wrongs and over a broken harp. The portrayal, whether mental or actual, is one calculated to stir those instincts of chivalrous pity. and sympathy which live in the most commonplace breast. Were the hypothetical knight-errant to come by and beg her to state the reason of her woe, she would probably express a desire to be free from the husband to whom a cruel fate had chained her. Still sympathetic, he might ask whether the said husband was

unkind to his mourning wife. On receiving a reply in the negative-for we conceive her to be more truthful than her prototype of the fancy picture-he might ask whether she had not equal rights with him, and whether he does not do his best to please her by constant concessions. She would be compelled to admit the truth of both suggestions. A little further questioning, and our knight would ride away, filled no longer with pity, but rather with perplexity, perhaps even with disgust.

That Ireland has been badly treated by her English rulers in past years cannot be denied. That the present policy of setting class against class, by lavish promises of benefits to the one at the expense of the other, is a mischievous and pernicious policy is not open to doubt. But that the Irish people have any grievance for which Home Rule would be an effectual remedy we cannot for a moment admit.

As we have endeavoured to show, the Irishman, individually and collectively, is his own worst enemy. Reform must first come from within, not from without. If, in the future, a regenerated Ireland, in which law and order, discipline and selfrespect, have become the rule and not the exception, should still desire self-government, her request would not, nay could not, long be denied. Meanwhile we believe that the true remedy for these disabilities lies in the cultivation of a spirit of independence and self-help. The endless whine for Treasury doles or grants in aid for this and that scheme has earned us the reputation of being a nation of beggars. Mismanagement and misappropriation of funds too often follow the concession of these demands, and a few more monuments to our national incompetence disfigure the landscape in the shape of unnecessary roads and useless harbours-so many laughing-stocks to the intelligent tourist.

We are indeed badly governed, but the fault resides in ourselves and in our representatives, not in our union with Great Britain. Heaven helps those who help themselves. We as yet have hardly begun to do our part in the work of self-help.

What we need, and badly need, in Ireland is not professions of zeal and devotion to her cause, of which we have had more than enough, but that true patriotism which enables men of all ranks and conditions, irrespective of party or private gains, to join in promoting the welfare of their country. Given that spirit of real devotion, and a new Ireland will quickly arise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old. Appreciating as we do the spirit of idealism which forms so large a factor in the Irish character, we do not altogether despair of such a consummation.

Curragh Chase, Co. Limerick.



DEFINITIONS, said Rousseau, would be good things if you did not have to use words to make them. It is not easy to define Federalism without also defining each of the terms that forms part of the definition. I will attempt no more precise description than this-that a Federal State is one in which there is a central authority that represents the whole, and acts on behalf of the whole, in external affairs and in such internal affairs as are held to be of common interest; and in which there are also provincial authorities with powers of legislation and administration within the sphere allotted to them by the Constitution.

The principle of Federalism has made great strides in the modern world. Not far short of half the white population of the earth is now governed under Federal Constitutions. In areaexcluding Asia and tropical Africa―more than two-thirds of the territories inhabited by white peoples are administered by Federal authorities. Two of the greatest of the nations, the United States and Germany; the three vast British Dominions, Canada, Australia, and South Africa; two of the largest and most prosperous of the South American States, the Argentine Republic and Brazil; and, in addition, Switzerland and the less important countries of Mexico and Venezuela-all these, with a population of 224 millions of people, have chosen that their laws should be framed and their government conducted on the Federal plan.


The division of powers in those States between the central and the provincial authorities shows an infinite diversity. would not be profitable to engage here in an analysis of the differences, the result of the differing histories and circumstances of the several nations. The question which I would suggest for consideration is whether the United Kingdom and the British Empire have anything to learn from the Federal idea.

At the outset of such an inquiry we are met by the doctrine, widely held, that the line of progress of States is in general towards a greater centralisation. To federalise, it is said, is good when it means the surrender of powers by a number of separate States to a new central authority, but bad when it means the devolution of powers by a single central authority to a number

of new local authorities. It is urged a priori that for a loosely organised community of States like the British Empire to tend towards Federalism would be a measure of progress; but for the United Kingdom to do so would be retrogression. How much ground is there for this generalisation?

It is true that for centuries the movements of constitutional change have been in the main centripetal. Many States have been consolidated, many groups of States federated. In the fifteenth century a generation of strong sovereigns, ruling over a large portion of Europe, carried far towards its end the supersession of feudalism which had long been proceeding, and drew into their own hands the powers of provincial government which till then had been exercised by half-independent vassals. Henry the Seventh in England, Louis the Twelfth in France, Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain, Maximilian in Austria, were the founders of the centralised executives of the modern day; whatever seeds of local autonomy lay buried within their dominions, which might in later times have grown into the provincial institutions of a democratic Federal State, they uprooted, and the Constitutions of the countries which they directly ruled remain unitary to this day.

And from the time of the Swiss Confederation down to the time of the South African Union there have been many cases in which neighbouring States, inhabited by peoples of the same or kindred race, have drawn together. Sometimes for the sake of defence, sometimes on account of the inconveniences of diverse laws or separate customs tariffs, they have erected from among themselves a common Government. Italy furnishes another case of unification, but of a different kind.

So many, indeed, are the instances of this centripetal tendency, so long has been the period of history they have covered, and so few have been the exceptions, that it is not strange a world-tendency should have been discovered, which some seem inclined to raise to the dignity of a 'natural' law in the evolution of Constitutions. The influence of the historical method is powerful. Questions of political theory are more often approached from the side of history than from any other. And when it is found that over a long period of time centripetal movements have been many and centrifugal movements very few, there is a natural disposition to say that centralisation is shown by the experience of mankind to be the means of securing efficiency and permanence in the State. I would suggest that this generalisation is wrong, and in its consequences harmful.

No one would deny, indeed, that the process of centralisation in Europe in the fifteenth century, or the federalising in more recent times of so many groups of separate communities, or the

VOL. LXXII-No. 428


unification of Italy, have been stages of progress. And sometimes the conditions are such that it would be absurd to propose a devolution of powers to local Governments. There is no room for Federal institutions in a Monaco or a San Marino. But a wider survey will show conclusively that there can be no general rule that centralisation is progress, decentralisation retrogression. The continued existence, or the creation, of local governing institutions with large powers, which in some ages and conditions may be a weakness, in others may be a strength.

Many modern States cover vast areas of territory, sometimes not contiguous. When communications were slow and uncertain, power could not be concentrated at one point; distant localities were obliged to have given to them the authority to manage their own concerns. Apart from all questions of local sentiment, the practical difficulties of unified government were insuperable. Obedience could not be enforced at so great a distance. The central powers could not be kept sufficiently in touch with the outlying parts to be able properly to serve their differing needs. If, for example, the consolidation of the American colonies into a united Commonwealth could not, for any reason, have been effected without the abolition of the Legislatures and executives of the States, it is certain that the consolidation could not have been effected at all. The continued existence of the local authorities was not less necessary than the creation of the new central authority.

The British Empire, again, is a striking exception to the centralising tendency of modern times. Geographical considerations made it impossible to administer efficiently from a centre the domestic affairs of its scattered parts. Canada and Australia could not be governed from Downing Street. Few would now dispute that if the attempt so to govern them had been continued the dissolution of the Empire would have been inevitable. Happily, during the nineteenth century there was a large transference of powers from the metropolitan Government to new authorities established at a number of suitable points, and there is no room to doubt that it has been mainly through that decentralisation that the unity of the Empire has been saved.

The practical needs of the government of vast territories are not the only considerations that make it necessary to keep, or to form, strong provincial institutions. The existence of deep-rooted feelings of local patriotism-the product of long ages of separate history, the outcome of differences of racial type, which are often none the less jealously preserved because they are slight-sometimes forbids the abolition of existing local Governments. Bavaria, Saxony, Würtemberg, and the other

« VorigeDoorgaan »