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accessible to the influence either of facts or of arguments; and there is also the lower side of the man, defined by Mr Holland as the circumspect, calculating Lowland Scot,' whose tactical skill so very nearly managed to carry his whole party with him into a policy which almost all would have repudiated with indignation six months before.
Already in 1883 we find Hartington writing to Granville, 'I cannot imagine what you consider Mr Gladstone's weighty arguments. They seem to me to be dreams.' And that feeling increased every year and every month till the actual breach occurred. The tension was at its greatest in the summer and autumn of 1885. Mr Gladstone talked vaguely of the danger from the Tories, and of the hopefulness of the analogies of Austria-Hungary and Sweden and Norway. Naturally this did not reassure Hartington, who replied frankly : 'Whether I desire that such unity [of the Liberal party] should be secured must depend on what the party is likely to do, if in a majority after the election. ... The fear of what the Tories may do on their responsibility would be no justification to me for doing what I disapprove of on my own.' (Life,' ii, 84.)
The election of 1885 was followed by the newspaper revelation of Mr Gladstone's conversion to Home Rule. To Hartington's request for explanations, Mr Gladstone replied that he had more or less of opinions and ideas, but no intentions.' ... 'My earnest recommendation to everybody is not to commit himself.' But Lord Hartington pointedly insisted that this was an impossible position. Mr Gladstone, he says, might assert that he had no intentions and no desire of acting at present ; but the fact that he had allowed his conversion to Home Rule to become known was itself 'action of enormous importance,' in the face of which those who differed from him could not refrain from committing themselves.
When Parliament met and Mr Gladstone returned to office, the tactical method he adopted in forming a Cabinet was the diplomatic fiction that his policy was the examination whether it is practicable to comply with’ the Irish desire for a legislative body to sit in Dublin.' This was an irgenious way of enabling the
intellect, as Mr Holland says, to furnish at each stage reasons to the will of those who desired, before all things, not to be forced to the discomfort of breaking with Mr Gladstone. Those who joined his Cabinet could say that they were not committed to a Bill but only to examination of the demand; and those who supported them in the House could argue that, even if a Bill followed, they could vote against its second reading, or, if that passed, at least amend it in Committee ; and so on to the disastrous end of all such compliances. For the ordinary member of parliament, for whom politics mean a desire to be in the House and a vague belief in his party and his leader, this gently-inclined plane of surrender was certain to prove, and did prove, irresistibly easy. But Lord Hartington was not a man of that type, and he at once refused Mr Gladstone's invitation, saying frankly with his remorseless good sense, 'I am unable to attach great importance to a distinction between examination and the actual conception and announcement of a plan.' The breach was complete, and the two men never acted together again.
It was worth while, perhaps, to trace the stages which preceded the final division, not only for their illustration of two interesting characters, but because the methods which Mr Gladstone employed in 1885 and 1886 are now again being employed by inferior artists. The Liberal party, and to some extent the country, have been committed to Home Rule without ever receiving a word of definite explanation as to what Home Rule means. Now as then the Irish leaders are speaking with one voice in England and another in Ireland. Now as then, the plan to be adopted is one of which the lines have been determined not by the seriously considered and permanent interests either of Ireland or of England, but by the temporary exigencies of a party coalition in the House of Commons. Now, as then, Ireland is habitually spoken of as a single unit, which it has never been ; and the fact that the more prosperous, intelligent and virile of the two Irelands is profoundly hostile to any trifling with the Union is always passed over in silence. All these things are the same. But there are differences between 1911 and 1886. Some of them are of no more fortunate omen for the cause of Home Rule than the resemblances
we have noted. The most conspicuous is that in 1886 the English Home Rulers were led by a man of genius, eloquence, fervent faith, and supreme personal attraction, and the Irish by a man without attraction indeed, but with a will hard as adamant and a heart cold as stone. To-day the faith unfaithful' which fired Mr Gladstone is no longer here to move the mountains of English and Scottish indifference and distrust; nor is Parnell here to fill coward hearts with terror as at the portent of a man of destiny.
It is true that, with Gladstone and Parnell, their greatest opponents have also disappeared. But, as the resistance to Home Rule was founded, not (like the agitation in its favour) on appeals to party feeling, sentiment or fear which can never be used again as they were by Gladstone and Parnell, but on solid argument, reason, and the unanswerable and unaltered facts of the case, it ought not to suffer so much from the loss of its great spokesmen. What they said then can and must be said with equal force now. If the decay of Parliament has proceeded apace since 1886, if the independence of one House has been destroyed by violence acting in the guise of law, and that of the other reduced to such a shadow that, as we have lately seen, it can be made to pass five hundred amendments to a Bill solely at the dictation of a Minister and without one syllable of discussion, yet we refuse to believe that either the mind or the conscience of the nation will submit to be gagged. And, until they are, the voice of reason will still have a great part to play. We must still ask the questions that Lord Hartington asked in 1886; and, if again the only answer is silence or evasion, it will surely be followed by the same result. When we are told that the unity of the United Kingdom will not be affected by the Bill, we must reply, as Lord Hartington replied, by asking, 'What is the United Kingdom? It is the creation of a particular Act, the Act of Union,' which you denounce and desire to undo. When we are told that the supreme authority will still remain vested in the Imperial Government and Parliament, we must again reply with him : We shall be under one Sovereign, but the question is, Shall we be under one sovereign power? The sovereign power is the power of the Imperial Parliament. Will the power of the
Imperial Parliament remain sovereign in Ireland? Nominally it will remain; will it be real?' If we are asked to trust the assurances lately given by Irish leaders, we shall point, as Lord Hartington did, to their language elsewhere, and believe that a man is more likely to utter his real sentiments when speaking to his friends than when he is engaged in transacting a bargain with opponents. If we are told that Ireland is a nation, that the prayer for Home Rule is a prayer to one free people by another that claims to be free, that the establishment of an Irish Parliament will only affect Ireland, we must appeal again to the inexorable facts of history and of geography, and say, as Lord Hartington said, that to ignore them is to trifle with the question, and is, in fact, simply an attempt to escape by specious phrases from the realities of the position.'
Many such attempts will be made in the year 1912. But if they are met in the spirit of courage, common sense and remorseless insistence upon the facts which animated Lord Hartington and Mr Goschen, the phrases of to-day will fail as did those of Mr Gladstone, while the realities of the situation will come out into the light, and will be seen to present an Ireland giving no excuse for the despair so common in 1886, an Ulster no less determined to remain in the Union, the distance across the sea to Ireland no greater and that to Canada no less than they were in 1886, the problem of distinguishing Irish from Imperial affairs no less insoluble, the supposed analogies of Austria-Hungary and Sweden and Norway turned into the most damaging proof that the tendency of Home Rule is not one towards union, either of hearts or of hands, but one towards complete and final separation. The country will then know how to judge a Ministry which closes its eyes to such realities as these, and opens them only to the ignoble reality of its own Ministerial position of daily and hourly dependence upon the votes of Mr Redmond and his followers.
Art. 13.-HOME RULE FINANCE.
1. Report from the Select Committee on the Taxation of
Ireland, with Minutes of Evidence and Appendices.
1864 ; H.C. 513. 1865; H.C. 330. 2. Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners to enquire into
the Financial Relations between Great Britain and Ireland, with Minutes of Evidence and Appendices.
1895; Cd 7720. 1896; Cd 8262. 3. Revenue and Expenditure (England, Scotland and
Ireland). 1911; H.C. 220. 4. Imperial Revenue (Collection and Expenditure; Great Britain and Ireland). 1911; H.C. 221.
And other papers. In calculating the effect which Home Rule will have upon the financial and constitutional relations of Great Britain and Ireland, the historical aspects of the question must not be left out of consideration. They will have a practical effect upon the attitude which Irishmen, whether Unionist or Nationalist, will assume towards Great Britain, should a measure of Home Rule pass into law. It is impossible, however, within the limits of an article such as this to deal with them fully. In Ireland the traditions of the ruinous financial and commercial restrictions imposed by the English mercantile policy in the eighteenth century are still vivid. It is not forgotten that the successful struggle for parliamentary freedom in that century originated in and centred round the struggle for freedom from any English control over Irish finance and commerce. Those who know the Irish temperament are well aware that any financial or commercial restraints which may be imposed upon an Irish parliament by any Home Rule measure will become the point of constitutional attack upon British supremacy; and that the coming generation of Irishmen, whether they belong to those classes which now adhere to the Union or are drawn from those which support Home Rule, will never rest until the last vestige of restraint is removed. No protestations in parliament, no undertakings on the part of Nationalist leaders that they will not question the supremacy of the British parliament, no restrictions contained in any Home Rule Act, will have