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growth of ordinary fairness in public life, have contributed greatly to mitigate that form of indirect persuasion which consists in making official and legal posts the monopoly of the ascendant class or creed. The grievance still exists in Ireland, but it is no longer what it was. A danger more serious and widespread, while more insidious, threatens her. It is reflected in eloquent figures in the annual Treasury Returns and in the growing deficit to which I have already referred. Twelve millions go into Ireland in the shape of local expenditure, only 10,000,000l. come out of her in the shape of local revenue. Even a cursory analysis of Irish expenditure shows very clearly what is taking place. Irishmen, from the highest to the humblest, but above all the humblest and poorest of both creeds and races, are, in a purely financial sense, directly interested in the maintenance and increase of this bribe. The expenditure falls into two broad categories. The first comprises old-age pensions, which account for no less than 2,600,000l., more than a fifth of the total. Any serious economist must pronounce half the old-age pensions, which are given on the high scale designed for wealthy and industrial Great Britain, as charity, when distributed among a population where agricultural wages average 11s. a week, or 7s. or 8s. less than in England and Scotland respectively. All the rest of the expenditure passes to or through the separate quasi-colonial bureaucracy of Ireland-the swollen police force, the crowd of irresponsible boards, the hosts of officials. There is no healthy check either upon the numerical size of the bureaucracy or upon its remuneration, and all classes are tempted to join in a conspiracy to keep both unnaturally high. Productive work is penalised. The police, for example, are largely drawn from the agricultural population, and receive pay from the very start which is double what an agricultural labourer can hope to attain to in his whole life. It is a commonplace that the force is twice as numerous and costly as in Great Britain, where crime is relatively greater. But consider the economic and social forces which, under the present system, militate against reduction. The mischief pervades every branch of administration. It pervades even a valuable service like the Department of Agriculture, even those clinical institutions, the Congested Districts Board and the Land and Estates Commissions, which were tardily set up to treat forms of social and economic disease engendered by ages of misgovernment, and which account, all told, for a million pounds in the expenditure side of the balance-sheet. Every farthing in this balance-sheet is suspect as long as Ireland herself is not responsible for the expenditure and for raising the requisite money.
That her own representatives, not only Unionist but Nationalist, have been active participants in the policy which has reduced
her to the abject state of dependence she now occupies, reflects no discredit on them. It is only one more example of the effects of that immemorial statecraft which makes a conquered country the instrument of its own degradation. For forty years, since Isaac Butt, they have demanded the Home Rule which would have given their country free will, self-respect, and an honourable place in the Imperial partnership. The claim has been refused. They have had to work the Union for what it was worth. The condition of their people was wretched, and they snatched at any means of alleviating it. The one criticism they justly incur is that they have not unceasingly warned and instructed their people as to what was going on, and kept burning brightly before their eyes the light of ultimate self-reliance, whatever the sacrifices involved.
For Ireland and Great Britain three courses are open: (1) to maintain the Union with all its existing consequences, (2) to adopt a limited form of Home Rule which will perpetuate Ireland's dependency on Great Britain, and (3) to give Ireland full fiscal autonomy, with a minimum of strictly temporary assistance corresponding to the actually existing financial deficit; in other words, to throw on Ireland the responsibility of wiping out that deficit, balancing her revenue and expenditure, and resuming her interrupted contributions to the Empire.
Let us take the plans in turn.
THE MAINTENANCE OF THE UNION
The principal reasons given for this course are four : (1) The opposition of North-East Ulster.
(2) British fears of a hostile and disloyal Ireland.
(3) Ireland does not want Home Rule.'
(4) Ireland's 'prosperity,' said to be attributable to the Union, and especially to Unionist policy.
No. (1)—the most important of all-I shall leave to the end of this article, where it will be more appropriate.
(2) Of all emotions to which the human heart is subject the fear in a big, rich, and powerful nation of a small, poor, and helpless country, which she has bullied and beggared, is the most despicable. If it is a natural instinct to expect from a victim of tyranny an attempt at revengeful reprisals, let us at least in common decency not fear the victim. But in truth, as I said above, those fears are becoming as ludicrous as they are baseless. It is no longer a question of the safety' of giving Ireland Home Rule, it is rather a question of the heavy cost to England of refusing Home Rule and of the immediate sacrifice to Ireland involved in assuming the widest form of fiscal autonomy.
(3) Ireland does not want Home Rule.' Mr. Ian Malcolm,
in an article in the February number of this Review,' asserts his opinion that Ireland, in spite of the verdict of eight successive general elections, does not want Home Rule. The sums subscribed to the National Fund are not large enough to satisfy him. Our first thought is that it is waste of time to argue this point with Mr. Malcolm, because whatever the height of the National Fund, he and his party would not be converted to Home Rule. How, unless by voting, is Ireland to express her want? There is no way but a renewal of the unconstitutional action forced upon her in the past. Once more she is to be taught the terrible lesson that violence is the only road to reform. The writer in the January number of the Quarterly Review actually indicates to her a new Plan of Campaign, when he prophesies, in his genial way, that after Home Rule she will repudiate the annuities on purchased land, which are now paid willingly, punctually, and honestly to the last farthing. But if the 350,000 annuitants determined to repudiate now, they could do so. If Mr. Malcolm really doubts the desire for Home Rule, why does he not stand for election in a Nationalist constituency, and use the same arguments as he gives to the readers of this Review, strangely mingling the new note of sympathetic flattery of the Irish people as a peaceful, prosperous, contented folk, sick of Home Rule, with the old conventional insinuations of intolerance, disloyalty, and dishonesty? No doubt the demand for Home Rule has not the passionate vehemence it had when hunger and misery were behind it. No doubt some of the financial boons arising from the Union act to a certain extent as narcotics. But underneath there is a deep irresistible current of pride and honourable sentiment which Mr. Malcolm would understand when his arguments drew it forth.
(4) I pass to the argument, in common use now, that Ireland ought not to be given Home Rule owing to her present and growing 'prosperity,' which is represented as being the direct result of Conservative policy. Here again it may be objected that it is idle to deal with the argument: in the first place, because it does not touch the plea for government by consent; in the second place, because to disprove it would only lead to the inference from Unionists that Home Rule was still more impossible; in the third place, because it is as old as the Repeal Debate of 1834 and has survived famines, wholesale emigration, and every phase of social anarchy and economic misery.
Nevertheless, we are here in the presence of a contention, which at the present day wears a more plausible aspect than before, and which, in fact, apart from the Ulster difficulty, forms the whole of the reasonable case for the Union as put forward by writers like Mr. L. S. Amery for the Morning Post, 1 'Justice to Ireland,' Nineteenth Century and After, February 1912.
and the anonymous author of a recent series of articles in the Times; in short, by thinking men who realise that the old case against Ireland is dead, and who feel bound, not only to justify the Union, but to put forward some positive alternative policy to Home Rule.
Let us agree at once with thankfulness that Ireland is more prosperous, though the prosperity, as I shall show, is somewhat deceptive. Her condition could hardly have become worse. She is advancing, though very slowly, on the up-grade. If it were not so, an indelible stain of infamy would rest upon Great Britain, which maintains responsibility for Ireland. There is little cause for self-congratulation over the 'unexampled generosity' of Great Britain, and to do the writers just mentioned full justice they do not take this extreme and Pharisaical line. But they do ascribe too high merit and too much success to distinctively Unionist policy. In point of fact, since the passing of the cardinal reforms in the matter of religion and land, neither party has any advantage over the other, though the Tories, by the rise and fall of the party balance, have had a much longer spell of office in which to carry out a policy. Their greatest work is held rightly to have been Mr. Wyndham's Land Purchase Act of 1903, and out of this truth a legend has arisen that purchase was a distinctively Conservative policy. The fact is, that it was John Bright's policy, and that purchase clauses were inserted in the three Liberal Acts of 1869, 1870, and 1881. In 1885 came the first Tory Purchase Act-Lord Ashbourne's-and in 1886, in conjunction with his first Home Rule Bill, Mr. Gladstone proposed a vast scheme for the universal transference of land from landlord to tenant at twenty years' purchase; a scheme which, whatever its minor defects-and all schemes at this period had their minor defects-would have had the great advantage not possessed by Mr. Wyndham's Act, passed seventeen years later, of a long period of cheap public credit. The scheme was contemptuously rejected. In 1891 and 1896 extensions of the Ashbourne Act were passed; but it is common knowledge that the impetus for the Wyndham Act of 1903 came from within both parties in Ireland itself, and originated in the Land Conference of Home Rulers and Unionist Landlords. Nor, it is equally well known, could it ever have been passed without the huge bonus of twelve millions, charged on the general taxpayers, to selling landlords.
But these, after all, are minor points. The dominant fact is that without the abolition of cottier tenancy and the substitution of the Ulster Custom and judicial rents by Gladstone's Land Acts of 1870 and 1881 and by subsequent amending Acts, no constructive reforms would have been possible. These Acts struck
at the root of the most vicious and demoralising social system which has ever disgraced a country styled 'civilised,' and laid the foundation of a new order. Mr. Wyndham would be the first to admit that his scheme would have been impossible under the old system. Indeed, he founded sales upon the basis of reductions upon second-term judicial rents. Sir Horace Plunkett would be the first to admit that his valuable non-party co-operative movement initiated in 1891, like the non-party conference of Irishmen which he organised in 1895-96 to promote the Irish Department of Agriculture, and, like many other movements for regeneration within Ireland, would have been equally impossible under the old conditions. The policy of abolishing these conditions was a Liberal policy; but the main impetus came, alas! from crime in Ireland, provoked by intolerable suffering.
It seems a pity that men like Mr. Amery, Mr. LockerLampson, and the writer in the Times already mentioned, who frankly admit them, do not appreciate their full significance in the struggle for Home Rule, or realise how deeply they are burned into the consciousness of Irishmen and how immovable is the belief which springs from them, and from still worse experiences in earlier history, that England is incapable of ruling Ireland well. Mr. Amery should remember that what he writes about the vicious agrarian tenure' and the blessings of its abolition could never have come from a Unionist pen at the period of the former Home Rule Bills, because the whole case against Home Rule was based on the supposed criminality and depravity of Ireland in fighting for the very reforms which he admits to have been of the most elementary necessity.
The same writer and others also exaggerate the effect of Free Trade upon Ireland. Free Trade is not a serious element in the discussion of Irish prosperity. The cataclysm caused by the Great Famine, with all its appalling consequences, came at the climax of a period of high protection for agriculture. Free Trade was, in fact, hurried on by the shadow of the famine. Three-quarters of a million souls perished because the potato crop failed. In other words, the peasants had been living on the margin of starvation from agrarian causes perfectly well known, dating direct from the confiscations and the Penal Code, operating all through the eighteenth century, even through Grattan's Parliament, and repeatedly during the nineteenth century made the subject of inquiry and hopeless efforts for reform. Reform was not even initiated until 1870, not thoroughly undertaken until 1881, and is not nearly completed yet. Land purchase, beneficent though it is, cannot do more than mitigate the ravages of the past. It leaves the distribu